Jul 02

My brain is turning to mush.

Like every single one of my posts this week has been at about 10 minutes before midnight. I am just not energized to keep up with routine right now.

I’ve got two more months to get through before I get to leave for Hampshire and live in a most-likely-single dorm room populated close to exclusively by people who (a.) are not so much younger than me that they can’t be expected to think through complex social relationships, and (b.) do not feel a sense of possession over my space or entitlement or ability to enter it without permission.

Also a food hall. Regular meals and hydration ftw.

Meanwhile, my perception of time is leaking. On Tuesday I couldn’t remember if it was a mail day or not — mail days being all the days but Sunday. Later that same Tuesday, I was told that it was Wednesday. I had a nightmare last night that my shift tonight was 12 hours long. I ended up spending the whole day nauseous because I couldn’t remember whether I’m actually capable of working 8-hour shifts. (Spoiler: I am.)

I can’t wait to have the structure of regular classes and events back.

Jul 01

Signal boost: The Allusionist

I started listening to the Allusionist today — a podcast about the history of words and expressions. The first one’s about puns. I’m on episode 5, “Latin Lives!,” of 13 so far — it appears to be biweekly, and started at the beginning of the year.

Jun 30

Solarpunk and post-employment

I responded to a post on my solarpunk tumblr earlier today, asking why the Solarpunk community seemed to be taking it for granted that we’d have a lot of free time. I wanted to repost it here.


 

First of all, this is a really good question. I think the Solarpunk community is justified in believing we can tend towards more free time in a Solarpunk community, but coming out of a Capitalist one that’s not going to happen organically.

Part of it is that a lot of us are definitely conceptualizing a lot of overlap between labor and free time. For the Solarpunk who loves large-scale art projects, re-paving the town square might feel more like a free time kind of activity than labor.

This ambiguity, generated by the community motivation to change attitudes towards labor from the oppressive ones that come from capitalism, is, to my mind, a positive attribute of Solarpunk communities, but it needs to be considered critically to resist corruption.

But aside from that, a huge amount of this free time can be generated simply by providing for people regardless of employment.

Study after study has shown that the majority of full-time employees do about 3 hours of work in an 8-hour day. Those same employees do 3 hours of work in a 6 hour day, 3 hours of work in a 3 hour day, 2 hours of work in a 2 hour day, and so on.

The fact is for most jobs there isn’t enough to do to justify making somebody sit at a desk for 40 hours a week, and most people can’t actually physically or emotionally handle the load of 40 hours of actual work every week.

As it stands, the middle class already have about 25 extra hours a week, but they risk their livelihood by not spending those 25 hours in a state of restrained anxiety.

Other jobs may end up taking up whole days, like a lot of retail work or physical labor. But some of that work can be made massively redundant with new technology. 3D printing makes every plastic object less than a cubic foot in size available without the intervention of a retail location. Better 3D printing may do the same for metals, electronics, even food or molecular structures like medicine – and certainly will make plastic things available more quickly and in larger size.

Fast food, too, will probably close to completely go away when most people have the time and money to do their own cooking. Certainly some people go to McDonald’s because they like it, but not enough to keep them in business: most of their money comes from people so overburdened that they have to get breakfast and lunch that takes 5 minutes to grab and doesn’t require you to get out of your car.

This video, CGP Grey’s “Humans Need Not Apply,” covers a whole bunch of reasons why employment is pretty soon going to stop being a thing most people do. With improving technology, there will definitely be enough additional free time for interested people to take up hobby or personal farming.

With that disintegration, coupled with a well-organized community prepared to support the mass of unemployed citizens, hopefully there’ll be enough fluidity in the job market that everyone who wants to do stuff can take up jobs in the stuff they want to do, to the degree of involvement they’re comfortable with. Or something close to that.

Thereby, everyone will have more free time, and the work that happens will be a voluntary use of free time by the people doing it.

Jun 29

Abjectionism

A while back I wrote a post jokingly suggesting a political party organized around the concept of abjection — the fear triggered by confrontation with the vagueness of boundary between self and other. (My favorite example is that of a severed hand — a thing that was once somehow human and is now a mere object. Another example is the phrase “abject poverty” — the state of being so poor that people with money stop seeing you as really human.)

With the election year coming up I’ve been thinking about it again, and I was talking to my datemate about it today so I thought I’d link back to it: The Abjectionist Party

Jun 26

Thoughts on marriage equality and solarpunk

I wrote this today for my solarpunk blog, and wanted to repost it here.


 

Today the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled in favor of the legality of same-sex marriage, which is a move that I support, as a nonbinary bisexual person and also as a person with a conscience.

On my personal blog, though, so far today, I’ve reblogged basically no celebratory posts. Instead, the posts that have caught my attention to signal-boost are the ones highlighting the importance of sticking to the fight for LGBTQQIAAP+ civil rights, human rights, and protection.

It’s still legal in many states to fire someone, or to refuse to rent to someone, or deny various services to someone, based on their sexuality or gender identity. In 49 out of 50 states it’s legal to fight a murder charge with a defense of “trans panic” – which is to say, you can successfully defend yourself against legal consequences for murdering a person by saying “I only did it because I found out they were trans.”

This is an important and significant (and extremely overdue) step in US civil rights. But a lot of LGBTQQIAAP+ activists have expressed fear that this one issue has become such a visible and central benchmark that many people will feel that there’s no more work to be done; that what was yesterday a gigantic swell of support for the LGBTQQIAAP+ community will tomorrow be a popped bubble; that we’ll face a renewed wave of apathy that will turn into new hostility when we ask for help on these other serious issues.

- – -

When I imagine solarpunk communities for my own writing, more often than not what I’m imagining is a city’s disenfranchised LGBTQQIAAP+ community, especially homeless youth, banding together to protect each other in an environment where they can openly be themselves. To me, solarpunk and LGBTQQIAAP+ activism are inextricably linked.

For the most part, when I talk about what solarpunk is to me, I emphasize that my vision of solarpunk is not the only vision, and that I welcome people to come to it in a different way.

On this topic, though – on LGBTQQIAAP+ activism – I submit that explicit support is an essential solarpunk value. I submit that if your solarpunk is transphobic, queerphobic, homophobic, biphobic, transmisogynistic, gender-binarist, or otherwise exclusionary of LGBTQQIAAP+ people, it’s not real solarpunk. That you’re doing it wrong.

If solarpunk communities are to do better than the civilization they’re combating, they need to be proactively safe spaces for trans, queer, lesbian, bisexual, asexual, aromantic, intersex, gay, pansexual, questioning, and so on…, community members.

I feel the same way about inclusion of race, religion, gender, culture, language, disability, neurodivergence, illlness, and so on – and to be honest I don’t expect this post to be controversial. On these topics I’ve seen almost nothing but open and enthusiastic support for many marginalized groups.

But I did want to say something out loud. None of these oppressions are over.

– T.X. Watson

Jun 25

Just Between Us: Adult Tantrum

Fun fact: the new Just Between Us caused me to have a mini version of exactly the breakdown depicted in the video!

Warning: Don’t watch if you’re 26 and insecure about your accomplishments so far in life.[1. These two have a web series that gets tens of thousands of views. What have I done? :(]

Jun 24

Status update: They Might Be Giants discography

I listened all the way through Join Us for the first time today, and I thought I was pretty close to finishing TMBG’s adult discography, so I checked out how I was doing.

I did not realize how many songs they have exclusively on their EPs.

For example: today, via YouTube, I heard Mrs Train for the first time. It was originally released on The Else, which is an EP that came out at the same time as John Henry, an album I think I last listened all the way through in 2013.

Also: apparently the song She Was A Hotel Detective from The Else is a completely different song than (She Was A) Hotel Detective from their first, eponymous album, according to Wikipedia.

I have mixed feelings about all this new information. On the one hand, I’m thrilled to have discovered so much more TMBG to explore and experience. But on the other, there’s an accomplishment of personal significance that I thought I Was on the cusp of achieving, but which is now probably more than a year away.

Maybe I’ll manage to see them in concert again before I get through it all.

Jun 23

Googling things

I’m exhausted and can’t really write this the way I want to right now, so I’m going to try and convince myself to come back and take another crack at this topic later but

Tonight I was at my second night of a 3-night app developing workshop. We’re using MIT’s App Inventor 2. It’s fun — you take blocks and snap them together, and they work like phrases of code. You can adjust the variables in the blocks and you have a library of all possible functions, but it’s impossible to screw up your code because you misspelled a command or forgot a bracket somewhere.

I was trying to build an app that delivered the RGB and hex codes for selected colors. At first I couldn’t figure it out, so I googled it, and there was no obvious way to do it. Then I googled a little more, and found a plugin for it on GitHub. From that I surmised that there was no obvious way to do it in the system — because why would someone write an add-on for a program that does something the program already does? But I couldn’t figure out how to add that into the platform. So then I searched for other apps, found one that already did what I was trying to build, downloaded it, looked at its code, and pretty much copied it — exhaustively checking and re-checking that I understood what I was copying every step of the way.

I still don’t fully grasp the math, but I understand what’s happening in all the chunks.

And it occurred to me while I was working that I had encountered several problems while I was coding, googled them, and found solutions. When I couldn’t understand the solutions, I asked for help. But googling was always step 1, and it didn’t always work but it always got me closer to the answer than I would have been if I’d asked right away. It was strange to me that so many of the other people in the class asked first, rather than googling. It seems like such an obvious, powerful tool: I’m sure the answer to every question I can think of about App Inventor is online somewhere. The only reason to ask the teacher anything is if I feel my grasp is weak enough that either I can’t guess at the right search terms to find the solution, or I I can’t follow the instructions without being walked through by someone watching what I was doing.

Eh, I don’t like how this post sounds — it’s coming off to me as kind of condescending, and I hate the “I don’t understand people who…” construction that this post implies. But I’m very tired and need to publish something.

Jun 22

I want Adobe to make life management software

I really wish there were to-do list programs that took themselves as seriously as Photoshop takes image editing, or as seriously as Excel takes spreadsheets. I want software that I could use to organize everything in my life and still only hit on like 30 percent of the features. I want a program that puts things in rather than leaves things out.

I’ve been listening to Hello Internet and Cortex a lot lately, and I’ve seriously been spending time daydreaming about the ideal to-do list. And on Saturday, I dumped out every bit of ideas I’ve had so far into an Evernote file, which I’d like to (slightly neaten up and then) share.

So, here are the things I want in a to-do list:

I want the program to automatically gather data: to save information about things I’ve done, things I haven’t done, how many times I hit snooze, etc. I also want sophisticated tools for rearranging that data into readable charts and graphs. Like a line graph over-set on a calendar indicating stressor levels and average deviation from scheduled pill taking time or number of missed meals.

I also want to be able to interact with a task in a variety of ways — I want to be able to skip tasks and have them recorded as skipped, rather than having to mark them as done if I want them to go away until the next time they’re supposed to show up.

I want undoing to be easy. With my current to-do list app, it’s a pain in the ass to put a task back on my list for the day if I accidentally mark it as done. I have to set it up as a new task to take place in the future relative to right now so it reminds me again; I want to be able to hit “undo” and have the task return to its most recent state in continuity with itself.

Task customization: I want to be able to change a wide variety of settings, not just overall, but  with respect to specific tasks. Like, I’d like the reminder interval for my pills to be shorter than my reminder interval for homework. I’d like to be able to set different kinds of snoozes — when I snooze my pills, it stays present on the status bar, then just buzzes again after seven minutes. When I snooze the new episode of Steven Universe, I want that to just go away for an hour or two or a day.

I want there to be an advanced tab, when I set it up — so I can hide questions that almost always have the same answer and can safely be ignored unless it’s an unusual case. Like, there should be a button on my morning pills prompt that tells the system to add caffeine pills to my shopping list if they aren’t already there.

I’d like to add an “Are you sure?” button to task skipping, but only for important things, like pills. Or for less important things, like shaving, after I’ve skipped them a certain number of days in a row. I’d also like a counter to show up letting me know how many days it’s been since my last shave, shower, laundry, etc. I’d also like to be able to add a prompt for explanation if I’m skipping certain things — like pills.

Additional data collection: I’d like some of my tasks to show up like little surveys. Like, my morning pills task will show up all as one task, but the box will prompt me to fill separate yes/no entries for each pill, and questions like “With food?”

Prompts that are just for data collection: Like a daily ask that says “How do you feel right now?” With check boxes for physical and emotional states.

The ability to create tasks in order to mark them as immediately done. Like, if my phone prompts me for food info three times a day, I want to be able to add an event between lunch and dinner for snacks.

Tasks should be able to affect other elements in the system. Like, I should be able to mark “Took afternoon pill with morning pills” on the advanced tab in my morning pills, if I put them off until later in the day, and it’ll fill in both entries and the afternoon pills box won’t pop up.

Other elements should affect tasks, too. Like, an upcoming important calendar event could automatically increase the priority of hygiene and self-care tasks days in advance, so I don’t have to worry about being more than usually prepared on a given day that’s already going to be stressful. Like, “All hygiene and self care tasks get ‘Are you sure’ prompt for X days in advance of calendar events set to X priority or higher, or with ‘Self Care +’ tag”

I’d want certain kinds of events to automatically generate their own list. Like, when I add a shift to my work schedule it should add to-do events throughout the shift for things I know I have to do at work, a reminder to check for a clean button-down the day before, and reminders to make sure my gas tank is full earlier in the week.

I want to be able to set individual tasks or task-sets to private — so, for example, a task could have an obfuscated prompt and a clearer description, unlockable by password — so I could have a reminder in my daily to-do list to brush my teeth and shower and I can gather data on those without having to worry about (a.) forgetting what my coded symbols mean and having a to-do list that’s confusing rather than helpful, and (b.) someone looking over my shoulder and making fun of me for having hygiene stuff on my to-do list. (I have anxiety issues, okay?)

Aesthetic control, like color coding and font — I want total control here. I’d rather it let me make it as ugly as a MySpace page than make it impossible to use how I want to so that it’s impossible to make it aesthetically unappealing.

Excellent cross-platform control: it should have as close as possible to perfect synchronization, and really good desktop programs for managing the data I’d be gathering through my phone. There should be a mode that’s unambiguously for working on managing the list rather than interacting with it. Like, a mode where when you click on a check box it takes you into the settings for what kind of box that can be, instead of checking it.

Ideally, but not vitally, access to all features on all devices, but with varying levels of accessibility so I don’t get myself mired in stuff I shouldn’t be trying to use my phone to do, but could get there in an emergency.

Extremely good organization of abilities, so that a person who wants or needs none of this stuff can use the app and not have to muddle through a whole bunch of overwhelming options — I’d rather have to look up how to do something than have to figure out how to not do it when I’m trying to do something simpler.

Ability to manage lists for other people, or share lists with other people. Ability to have the whole list visible while only giving some people the power to complete different tasks on it. (So, like, I know I need to write the copy for page X of this document, but I can also see that pages H through J aren’t done either so not everyone’s waiting on me — or, it’s visible here that it’s my job to lay out the pages, and I can see who is and who isn’t done with the text for those pages to start putting it in.)

I’d also like the ability to set the list up so that it’s possible — but not mandatory – to submit work directly through this program into another system.

It should have a sophisticated understanding of time — so that, for example, if I mark my evening pills as “Done” at 1:30 a.m., it recognizes that that’s the “done” for the previous day, and doesn’t mark a missing entry on that day and an extremely early entry on the following day.

Also scrolling calendar view — so I can look at the calendar and see, for example, the last two weeks of one month and the first two weeks of the next, or 2 to 3 months at a time when I zoom out, arranged as if they were one continuous page of a physical calendar. I would like similar functionality with daily calendars — like overlapping ends (so 12-2 a.m. shows up at the end of Saturday and the beginning of Sunday), easy, fluid adjustment of the “first day” of the week so I can quickly look at a Wednesday to Tuesday span instead of just Sunday to Saturday or Monday to Sunday, then have it revert to my preferred default automatically.

Jun 19

Catching up on Steven Universe

I saw the first episode of Steven Universe a while ago, and it was kind of unimpressive. It turns out the show gets a lot better pretty much right after that, though.

You know what was really weird and disturbing? The episode of Steven Universe when Steven gets existentially worried about aging and it nearly kills him because his gem powers cause him to transform into a person near the edge of death by old age.

(Sorry for the terrible quality of this post, and also yesterday’s post. I’m a tad burnt out right now for idea-generating energy.)

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