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Verbs, not Nouns

There's a bunch of videos going around right now, of white people exercising their power in a supremacist environment to ensure and protect their supremacy, and either killing or trying to kill black people. This isn't new, by the bye. White people have been executing, or trying to execute, black people since basically 1500 or so, and Americans (and that little appellation is deserving of its own rant, at some other time) have been doing it since at least 1600. I'm not particularly interested in watching or sharing a snuff film (or an attempted-murder film) so I won't be linking them here, but there are a LOT of people up in arms about the fact that the perpetrators of this violence are suffering from the consequences of their actions including losing their jobs, which some folk seem to think is an overreaction. 'I know these people, they aren't racist!' says Yet Another White Supremacist, and here's the thing: they're probably not actually wrong. 
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Money and Happiness as a fungible resource

Money really does buy happiness. Anyone who tells you differently has a vested interest in keeping you poor, unhappy, or both. I know this because I grew up on the ragged edge of poor, and then backed my way into a career in IT, which is where the modern world keeps all the money that isn't in Finance. So I am one of the extreme minority of Generation X that actually had an adulthood that was markedly more financially stable than my parents. And let me tell you: money really does buy happiness.
To be clear: at 45 years old, I'm now in a relationship and a period of my life where our household is effectively double-income, no kids. I live in the city, but I own a house, and can only afford to do that because of our combined income. We also have two cars -- one new, one used (though neither of them is getting driven very much these days) -- and we have a small discretionary budget every month for things like videogames, books, and the like. What my brother used to call DAM -- Dic…

Occasional Media Consumption: The Good Place (Spoiler Free)

"When we look at the ocean, we see that each wave has a beginning and an end. A wave can be compared with other waves, and we can call it more or less beautiful, higher or lower, longer lasting or less long lasting. But if we look more deeply, we see that a wave is made of water. While living the life of a wave, the wave also lives the life of water. It would be sad if the wave did not know that it is water."-- Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddah's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation
The elevator pitch for this show, according the showrunner and writer Mike Schur, was "dead people read philosophy". Which is a hell of an elevator pitch for a 22-minute, multi-camera network TV sitcom. Then again, Mike Schur also created the US version of the Office, Parks & Rec, and Brooklyn 99, all of which are shows that are smarter than their premises would seem to indicate. So someone somewhere was willing to take a risk on the show, which…

The Trap That Is Twitter

I can no longer believe that the people who run and work and make decisions about Twitter are ignorant, or misguided. At this point the only explanation is that they are deliberately fomenting abuse and division within the userbase as a tactic. Were it not for my friends and professional connections, I'd quit twitter in a heartbeat. If I could find another way to connect with those whom I enjoy connecting with, I would, because that is the only thing that keeps me here. It's not clear to me how much longer that will be true. It's become exceedingly clear to me that Twitter is toxic along several different axes, and I'm rapidly getting to the point where the toxicity outweighs the positive interactions. Which is a shame. The original thing that drew me to Twitter was the ability to connect with a wildly diverse number of voices, some of which I knew, some of which I admired, and many of which I envied in one way or another. Then, later, I became exceedingly conscious of…

Occasional Media Consumption: Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir

There is -- I won't say no trick, but perhaps -- very little trick to introducing the reader to a character and then making us like that character. An author can make it a bit harder for themselves by making the character somewhat disagreeable, at least at the start, but eventually we get to the bits where the character does something good and then we like them. An author can do this in reverse, too: show the reader a character, and them make us not like that character. Arguably, it's slightly easier, because we just see the character being an asshole, and then we don't like them. But there is a positive magic in the trick of taking a character, and making us not like them, and then changing our minds. It's a hell of a trick, too. We're introduced to a character, and then the do something disagreeable or assholish, and then we don't like the character. And then, little by little, the author peels back the layers, and suddenly we understand. The character was li…

"My pain was selfish. Because it was never only mine."

Y'all, I am so, so tired.

I mean that in a couple of ways, of course. It's been hot in the Pacific Northwest over the last week or so, and it's continuing to be hot for the next couple of weeks. Not that this is particularly surprising, because the world is literally on fire (THE ARCTIC IS BURNING, Y'ALL, AND THAT'S NOT A METAPHOR), but one of the nicer things about the PNW before the current decade was that mostly, it was temperate; summers were a highs-in-the-mid-80s kind of summer. This new highs-in-the-mid-90s is making it hard for me to get to, and stay, asleep overnight. And because harsh summers are a new thing here, almost none of the houses (including ours) have a central A/C unit, so we're trying to make do with window units. Which generate white noise, which is nice, but are also loud, which is not so nice. So I'm tired.

But this last week especially has been more than the physical tired. I'm emotionally tired. Drained, existentially tired. T…

Occasional Media Consumption: Magic for Liars, by Sarah Gailey

My niblings and I were talking, during our week-long vacation/family reunion together, about the experience of unreliable narrators. This was during our discussion of another book, and of course we talked about Catcher in the Rye, and how when I first read it as a tween I was so taken in by the experience, and how much I loved it, and how as I've grown older I've come to love it less and less. And a big part of that was realizing that every book that has a narrator, by definition, has an unreliable narrator, because books told from a point of view by necessity take on the position of the person telling us the story (which is different from the author telling us the story, obviously, but that's what parenthetical disclaimers are for, right?). So the experience of various narrators suddenly turning out to be unreliable is a trope that maybe I've outgrown in my old age. If you're going to be honest with anyone, you can be honest with me, dear narrator.

So how refreshi…