~acdw/old-blog-content

92d316f37f9def371187be590d49b2701128b59b — Case Duckworth 1 year, 11 months ago 00d8eef
Initialize content
292 files changed, 12636 insertions(+), 0 deletions(-)

A index.html
A pages/colophon.md
A pages/contact.md
A pages/license.md
A pages/links.md
A pages/now.md
A pages/projects.md
A pages/publications.md
A posts/book/2017-07-03-instructions-to-the-cook.md
A posts/book/2017-07-08-words-and-meaning.md
A posts/book/2017-07-10-space-battle-lunchtime.md
A posts/book/2017-07-18-cinderella-ate-my-daughter.md
A posts/book/2017-07-18-down-and-out-in-the-magic-kingdom.md
A posts/book/2017-07-18-even-in-paradise.md
A posts/book/2017-07-18-interstitial.md
A posts/book/2017-08-04-atlas-shrugged-i.md
A posts/book/2017-08-07-atlas-shrugged-ii.md
A posts/book/2017-08-16-atlas-shrugged-iii.md
A posts/book/2017-09-08-three-body-problem.md
A posts/book/2017-09-22-goliath.md
A posts/book/2017-09-22-youre-all-just-jealous-of-my-jetpack.md
A posts/book/2017-11-23-boundless.md
A posts/book/2017-11-23-practical-magic.md
A posts/book/2018-04-09-just-write-and-the-rest.md
A posts/book/2018-04-14-pale-fire.md
A posts/book/2018-04-15-black-blizzard.md
A posts/book/2018-04-25-children-of-time.md
A posts/book/2018-05-07-citizen-an-american-lyric.md
A posts/book/2018-05-08-ancillary-justice.md
A posts/book/2018-05-17-dawn.md
A posts/book/2018-05-25-the-insides-by-jeremy-p-bushnell.md
A posts/book/2018-05-30-fuzzy-by-tom-angleberger-and-paul-dellinger.md
A posts/book/2018-06-01-ghostopolis.md
A posts/book/2018-08-31-killing-it.md
A posts/book/2018-12-15-handmaids-tale.md
A posts/book/2019-01-12-buddha-vol-1-kapilavastu.md
A posts/book/2019-01-31-children-of-blood-and-bone.md
A posts/book/2019-02-13-the-marrow-thieves.md
A posts/book/2019-03-21-cain.md
A posts/book/2019-03-26-mental-load.md
A posts/book/2019-04-10-seven-types-of-atheism.md
A posts/book/2019-04-25-ancillary-sword.md
A posts/drawing/2018-05-31-splenda.md
A posts/drawing/2018-06-02-xcv-1.md
A posts/drawing/2018-06-16-xcv-2.md
A posts/drawing/2018-07-01-xcv-3.md
A posts/drawing/2018-07-15-xcv-4.md
A posts/drawing/2018-07-20-xcv-4a.md
A posts/drawing/2018-08-01-xcv-5.md
A posts/drawing/2018-08-16-xcv-6.md
A posts/drawing/2018-09-01-xcv-7.md
A posts/essay/2017-07-03-a-proper-hello.md
A posts/essay/2017-10-09-update-a-nearlyfreespeech-net-website-with-git.md
A posts/essay/2018-02-10-not-quite-ready-for-primetime-but-i-m-getting-close.md
A posts/essay/2018-02-19-on-recipes-and-food-blogs.md
A posts/essay/2018-02-20-a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-publish-this-website.md
A posts/essay/2018-03-05-installing-tinytinyrss-and-wallabag-on-nearlyfreespeech-net.md
A posts/essay/2018-03-07-why.md
A posts/essay/2018-03-14-adventures-in-gardening.md
A posts/essay/2018-03-16-figuring-out-whether-a-table-is-empty-in-lua.md
A posts/essay/2018-04-07-an-explanation-for-lost-time.md
A posts/essay/2018-05-07-a-theory-as-to-the-origins-of-the-mandela-effect.md
A posts/essay/2019-01-03-helping-myself-write-more-in-the-new-year.md
A posts/essay/2019-01-14-adventures-in-qemu.md
A posts/essay/2019-01-15-dotfiles.md
A posts/essay/2019-02-20-keepassxc.md
A posts/essay/2019-02-28-reactions.md
A posts/essay/2019-03-01-reactions.md
A posts/essay/2019-03-02-reactions.md
A posts/essay/2019-03-04-reactions.md
A posts/essay/2019-03-06-bad-vegan.md
A posts/essay/2019-03-12-reactions.md
A posts/essay/2019-03-25-science-as-a-god.md
A posts/essay/2019-03-28-reactions.md
A posts/fiction/2018-05-31-we.md
A posts/film/2018-12-20-shirkers.md
A posts/film/2019-02-17-russian-doll.md
A posts/film/2019-03-13-PEN15.md
A posts/music/2019-05-06-k1.md
A posts/news/2019-05-05-tales-from-the-fediverse.md
A posts/photo/2019-03-09-contessa-collection-i.md
A posts/poem/2018-01-21-anniversary-of-the-apocalypse.md
A posts/poem/2018-01-22-the-snubs.md
A posts/poem/2018-01-23-no-more-surprises.md
A posts/poem/2018-01-24-make-ahead-steel-cut-oat-meal.md
A posts/poem/2018-01-25-oh-shit.md
A posts/poem/2018-01-26-doing-nothing.md
A posts/poem/2018-01-29-schroedinger-was-joking-about-the-cat.md
A posts/poem/2018-01-30-failed-poem-about-the-mississippi-river.md
A posts/poem/2018-01-31-another-failed-poem.md
A posts/poem/2018-02-05-the-tender-ego.md
A posts/poem/2018-02-06-elon-musk-s-tesla-in-space.md
A posts/poem/2018-02-07-to-rain-back.md
A posts/poem/2018-02-08-the-world-of-duck.md
A posts/poem/2018-02-10-was-suspect-of-me-childlike.md
A posts/poem/2018-02-11-the-brook.md
A posts/poem/2018-02-14-valentine-s-day.md
A posts/poem/2018-02-15-free-skate.md
A posts/poem/2018-02-16-your-name.md
A posts/poem/2018-02-19-my-own-image.md
A posts/poem/2018-02-20-outstare-the-stars.md
A posts/poem/2018-02-25-the-rat-part-1.md
A posts/poem/2018-02-26-the-rat-part-2.md
A posts/poem/2018-03-03-bewilderment-poetics.md
A posts/poem/2018-03-05-stella.md
A posts/poem/2018-03-15-apex-predator.md
A posts/poem/2018-03-18-crickets.md
A posts/poem/2018-04-07-lentils.md
A posts/poem/2018-04-10-the-smell-of-flowers.md
A posts/poem/2018-04-11--redacted.md
A posts/poem/2018-04-12-treatise.md
A posts/poem/2018-04-13-date.md
A posts/poem/2018-04-15-power-outage.md
A posts/poem/2018-04-18-she-s-like-a-broken-record.md
A posts/poem/2018-04-19-flowers.md
A posts/poem/2018-04-20-simmering.md
A posts/poem/2018-04-21-there-will-never-be-an-emoji-for-the-word-emoji.md
A posts/poem/2018-04-26-outside-leaking-in.md
A posts/poem/2018-04-27-toot-sonnet.md
A posts/poem/2018-04-28-the-wind.md
A posts/poem/2018-04-30-crumpled-map.md
A posts/poem/2018-05-01-reality-problem.md
A posts/poem/2018-05-02-more-than.md
A posts/poem/2018-05-03-tetris-effect.md
A posts/poem/2018-05-04-there-is-a-farm-in-tennessee.md
A posts/poem/2018-05-05-maybe-america-is-more-than-this.md
A posts/poem/2018-05-06-sonnet.md
A posts/poem/2018-05-07-a-question.md
A posts/poem/2018-05-09-storytime.md
A posts/poem/2018-05-12-leftover-breakfast.md
A posts/poem/2018-05-17-sonnet.md
A posts/poem/2018-05-18-sonnet.md
A posts/poem/2018-05-25-after-ash-wednesday.md
A posts/poem/2018-05-31-limerick.md
A posts/poem/2018-06-01-holy-moly-this-sonnet-sucks.md
A posts/poem/2018-06-01-villanelle.md
A posts/poem/2018-06-22-chromatic-descending-wah.md
A posts/poem/2018-09-05-coffee.md
A posts/poem/2018-09-24-this-autumn.md
A posts/poem/2018-09-30-fraught-image.md
A posts/poem/2018-10-17-fever-dreams.md
A posts/poem/2018-11-15-glovebox.md
A posts/poem/2018-11-20-teabag.md
A posts/poem/2018-12-02-magic-bullet.md
A posts/poem/2018-12-13-how-do-i-define-how-i-feel.md
A posts/poem/2018-12-30-ghazal.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-01-funhouse.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-02-rumble.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-04-self-portrait-as-a-truck.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-05-river.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-06-object-permanence.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-07-dear-sanity.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-08-narcissus.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-09-breakfast.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-09-the-rabbit-the-boy-the-snake.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-09-there-is-a-dark-space.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-10-paper.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-11-i-dont-want-to-do-anymore.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-11-now-were-going-to-discuss.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-18-crows.md
A posts/poem/2019-01-30-vase.md
A posts/poem/2019-02-05-tiredness.md
A posts/poem/2019-02-11-terracotta.md
A posts/poem/2019-02-12-the-mountain.md
A posts/poem/2019-02-19-grief.md
A posts/poem/2019-02-21-popcorn.md
A posts/poem/2019-02-25-648956700.md
A posts/poem/2019-03-06-the-rock.md
A posts/poem/2019-03-11-pebbles-worn-down-by-water.md
A posts/poem/2019-03-12-ars.md
A posts/poem/2019-03-14-julius-caesar.md
A posts/poem/2019-03-20-first-day-of-spring.md
A posts/poem/2019-03-31-crackle.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-01-how-to-make-a-loaf-of-bread.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-02-does-anybody.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-03-home.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-04-oh-shit.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-05-the-rock.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-07-watching-baseball.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-08-things.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-08-tornado.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-09-detritus.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-10-teeth.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-11-ear.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-12-proprioception.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-13-iambic-haiku.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-14-hands.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-15-i-want-to-solicit-medical-advice-from-authors-i-admire.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-16-11-11.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-17-onion.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-19-good-friday.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-20-pancakes.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-22-a-confluence-of-events-means-they-all-happen-at-the-same-time.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-23-slime-mold.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-24-noise.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-25-dinner.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-28-riddles.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-29-the-machinery-of-the-body.md
A posts/poem/2019-04-30-6-little-poems.md
A posts/recipe/2017-07-21-vegan-bolognese.md
A posts/recipe/2017-08-03-smoky-vegan-sweet-potato-quesadilla.md
A posts/recipe/2018-01-24-make-ahead-steel-cut-oatmeal.md
A posts/recipe/2018-02-10-thai-sweet-baked-potatoes.md
A posts/recipe/2018-02-11-naan.md
A posts/recipe/2018-02-12-chickpea-tuna-y-salad.md
A posts/recipe/2018-02-19-midnight-peanut-butter-cookies.md
A posts/recipe/2018-03-12-drop-biscuits.md
A posts/recipe/2018-03-12-gravy.md
A posts/recipe/2018-03-12-yr-basic-loaf.md
A posts/recipe/2018-03-19-sauerkraut.md
A posts/recipe/2018-04-07-basic-lentil-method.md
A static/css/_fonts.scss
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A static/humans.txt
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A static/images/me.jpg
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A static/images/splenda.png
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A templates/_footer.html
A templates/_pagenav.html
A templates/_posttable.html
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A index.html => index.html +89 -0
@@ 0,0 1,89 @@
---
notitle: yes
---

<div class="page" class="index">
    <main role="main" id="maincontent" class="pmain">
        $for(posts)$
        <article>
            <a href="$url$">
            <header>
                <h1 class="title">$title$</h1>
                <time>$date$</time>
            </header>
            </a>
            $content$
        </article>
        $endfor$
            <a href="/archive/" id="read-more">
                    Read more...
            </a>
    </main>
    <aside class="pside">
        <div id="me-pic">
            acdw.net
        </div>
        <nav class="snav isnav">
            <section id="introduction">
                <header>Hi, I'm Case</header>
                <p>I'm a poet,
                bookmobile driver,
                casual cartoonist,
                occasional skater,
                and hobbyist cook
                in Louisiana.
                My pronouns are he/him.</p>
            </section>
            $partial("templates/_pagenav.html")$
            <section id="groups">
                <header>post groups</header>
                $groups$
            </section>
            <section id="links">
                <header>get in touch</header>
                <ul>
                    <div class="lgroup direct">
                        <li><a href="m&#97;ilto:&#97;&#99;dw&#64;&#97;&#99;dw&#46;net">
                                email</a></li>
                        <li><a href="xmpp://&#97;&#99;dw&#64;404.&#99;ity">
                                xmpp</a></li></div>
                    <div class="lgroup social">
                        <li><a href="https://writing.exchange/@acdw" rel=me>
                                mastodon</a></li>
                        <li><a href="https://tilde.town/~acdw/" rel=me>
                                ~town</a></li>
                        <li><a href="https://tildes.net/user/acdw">
                                tildes</a></li>
                        <li><a href="https://micro.blog/acdw">
                                micro.blog</a></li>
                        <li><a href="https://twitter.com/caseofducks" rel=me>
                                twitter</a></li>
                        <li><a href="https://keybase.io/acdw">
                                keybase</a></li></div>
                    <div class="lgroup coding">
                        <li><a href="https://github.com/duckwork" rel=me>
                                github</a></li>
                        <li><a href="https://gitlab.com/acdw" rel=me>
                                gitlab</a></li>
                        <li><a href="https://git.sr.ht/~acdw" rel=me>
                                sourcehut</a></li>
                    </div>
                </ul>
            </section>
            <section id="feeds">
                <header>feeds</header>
                <ul>
                    <li><a href="/rss2.xml">rss</a></li>
                    <li><a href="/atom.xml">atom</a></li>
                </ul>
            </section>
        </nav>
    </aside>
</div>
<footer class="pfoot">
    <span id="copyright">
        &copy; 2018&ndash;2019
        <a rel="me" href="$canonical$">Case Duckworth</a>
        <a rel="license" class="license" href="/license/">[CC-BY-NC-SA]</a>.
    </span>
</footer>

A pages/colophon.md => pages/colophon.md +132 -0
@@ 0,0 1,132 @@
---
title: Colophon
description: >-
   The technology, design, and state of mind
   I used to build this website.
---

# Typography

*acdw.net* is typeset in [Computer Modern][^fonts],
originally developed by Don Knuth for TeX.
I use the monospace and variable-width versions of the Typewriter family.
If you'd like to download them for personal use,
all faces are available from the [Font Library][cmu].

[Computer Modern]: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_Modern>
[cmu]: <https://fontlibrary.org/en/search?query=computer+modern>

[^fonts]:
    If for some reason your browser isn't downloading the fonts from my
    servers, and you don't have them installed, you'll be seeing either
    Georgia or your system's default monospace font.

# Software

I use a variety of software to publish this website,
as much of it as possible open-source.
I write the content of this site using [Neovim]
on a [Linux] laptop, specifically [Manjaro].
I transform the source material (which is written in [Markdown])
to HTML using [Pandoc],
and organize it into the site on your browser with [Hakyll].
I keep track of the content and the generating code with [Git].

For hosting,
I've tried to go with smaller players to help keep a diverse ecosystem.
I host the built content of my site with [Nearly Free Speech],
and the source is hosted on [Sourcehut][^srht].

[Neovim]: <https://neovim.io/>
    (I'll use Vim at work as well, of course.)
[Linux]: <https://www.kernel.org/>
[Manjaro]: <https://manjaro.org/>
    (I'm thinking of moving away from it when I get the time.)
[Markdown]: <https://commonmark.org/>
[Pandoc]: <https://pandoc.org/>
[Hakyll]: <https://jaspervdj.be/hakyll/>
[Git]: <https://git-scm.com/>

[Nearly Free Speech]: <https://www.nearlyfreespeech.net/>
[Sourcehut]: <https://sourcehut.org/>

[^srht]:
    The source for this blog specifically is in
    [this repo](https://git.sr.ht/~acdw/acdw.net).

# Me

Of course, everything on this site is written by me,
Case Duckworth, originally of Tennessee, currently of Louisiana.
This is self-publishing, right here.
We all stand on the shoulders of giants, as they say,
so I've given those giants their due,
but now I'd like to talk about myself for a bit.

I'm going to be 29 this year and 30 next,
which I only really realized the other day.
I haven't done as much as I think I thought I would.
I've only [published] a few times,
I've only held a few jobs that I cared about,
and sometimes I feel that I'm not going to be as well-known
as I'd always assumed that I wanted to be.
As I get older, though, I think that maybe
I don't care so much about being well-known globally
(or even nationally).
Maybe I care more about being a good person in my local community.
I'm still shifting in that, so the going is slow.
But I understand now that it's more important to support those around me
than it is to stress over huge societal problems
that are outside of my control.

[published]: </publications/>

To this end, I'm a member of the local Unitarian Universalist church.
I was trying to explain Universal Unitarianism to a lady taking my blood
last weekend, and I had a hard time doing so
(I definitely forgot to mention the [Seven Principles]).
My personal faith is a kind of *[non-theism]*,
as in, I don't believe in a god, but if there were one, it'd be okay.
I try not to let questions of the supernatural and the afterlife
get in the way of my day-to-day.
I like going to the UU church, though,
because it's structured like the Methodist church where I grew up
(and those old comforts stay comfortable, regardless of philosophy)
and because it's focused on *this* life,
on social justice that we can achieve in our lifetimes
without waiting around for a second coming.

[Seven Principles]: <https://www.uua.org/beliefs/what-we-believe/principles>
[non-theism]: <https://www.acdw.net/10470/science-as-a-god/>

As far as my day-to-day goes,
I'm an Outreach Library Tech.
I drive a bookmobile around and read stories to children.
I love my job and its purpose.
I have a lot of free time at work[^freetime].
I get to go home at the end of the day and my time is mine.

[^freetime]: I'm typing this at work, for example.

In my free time,
I cook at home.
I write (as is evidenced by this site).
I foster dogs -- maybe I should blog more about them.
I *was* in roller derby, but I stopped to focus on my upcoming wedding.
Did I mention my wedding?
I'm getting married to the love of my life this fall
and I am excited!

I also read a bit (not enough),
and watch TV (too much),
and surf the web (also too much).
I'm a [bad vegan].
To paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut[^vonnegut]\:
I'm here to fart around, and farting around I am.

[bad vegan]: </10451/bad-vegan/>

[^vonnegut]:
    Would any self-indulgent long-winded "About me" be complete
    without a quote from either Vonnegut or Bukowski?
    And of course, I'm fresh out of Bukowski.

A pages/contact.md => pages/contact.md +39 -0
@@ 0,0 1,39 @@
---
title: Contact
---

I just read something tonight about
[leaving links around the internet for a while][links].
I feel like I've done that too.

[links]: <http://tilde.town/~endorphant/blog/20160510.html#20160510>

Some of them are listed here.

- [email] me (please, no spambots or MLMs).
- @ me on [Mastodon] or [Twitter].
- clone me on [Github], [Gitlab], or [sourcehut].
- [feel me] on [tilde.town].
- doxx me on [Reddit], watch me lurking on [Hacker News],
  or have a more stimulating conversation with me on [Tildes][tildes.net].
- verify my identity on [Keybase].

[email]: mailto:acdw@acdw.net
[Mastodon]: <https://writing.exchange/@acdw> {rel=me}
[Twitter]: <https://twitter.com/caseofducks>
    (Though I never use it.) {rel=me}

[Github]: <https://github.com/duckwork> {rel=me}
[Gitlab]: <https://gitlab.com/acdw> {rel=me}
[sourcehut]: <https://git.sr.ht/~acdw> {rel=me}

[feel me]: <https://tilde.town/~acdw/feels/>
[tilde.town]: <https://tilde.town/~acdw/> {rel=me}

[Reddit]: <https://www.reddit.com/user/acdw> {rel=me}
[Hacker News]: <https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=acdw> {rel=me}
[tildes.net]: <https://tildes.net/user/acdw>
    (Not, so far as I know, affiliated with tilde.town.) {rel=me}

[Keybase]: <https://keybase.io/acdw>
    (I'm not actually sure what it's for or what it does.) {rel=me}

A pages/license.md => pages/license.md +19 -0
@@ 0,0 1,19 @@
Copyright &copy; 2018-2019 Case Duckworth

This website's code and its content are licensed under the [MIT License][mit]
and the [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0
International][cc] licenses, respectively.

All of the content you can read here is licensed under the [CC-BY-NC-SA][cc],
which is all the content in the `posts`, `pages`, and `static` directories, as
well as `index.html`, `README.md`, and `LICENSE`.  Everything else is licensed
under [MIT][mit], unless otherwise licensed due to being downstream from a
more restrictive license, such as the [GPL].

Anything that isn't covered in this license statement is free to
interpretation by only the most expensive lawyers in the state of arbitration.
So I decree.

[cc]: <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/legalcode>
[mit]: <https://opensource.org/licenses/MIT>
[GPL]: <http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html>

A pages/links.md => pages/links.md +69 -0
@@ 0,0 1,69 @@
---
title: Links
---

I read a lament somewhere about the paucity of links pages anymore.
It went something like

> In the Olden Times, apparently,
> before the Tech Giants had colonized the Internet and divvied it up
> amongst themselves; when the West was Wilde and Free;
> when People did Things Themselves on the Webbe:
> there were Links Pages about that were Personal and True,
> that did not merely Aggregate, but Curated as well.
> They were by Human Handes, not the Cruele Clawse of Machine,
> and we have Lost their Purity nowe.

At any rate, here's my attempt at a links page.
It's cool stuff I like, organized in a method

# Cool folks

::: note
Just like me, some people have their own websites.
There's actually a [growing movement][indieweb][^todo]
to try and get more people to have their own websites.
Here's a list of people I know about slash follow.
:::

- 

[indieweb]: <https://indieweb.org/>

[^todo]:
    I actually removed microformats and stuff
    (the first iteration of being IndieWeb-capable)
    with the redesign of this site.
    I'll get around to fixing them ... eventually.
    It's on my TODO list.

# Single-purpose webpages

::: note
A lot of great pages on the Internet just do one thing,
but I go back to them again and again because they are so complete,
so perfect in the one thing that they do or are,
that they become canonical.
:::

- [256 Colors Cheat Sheet][256co],
  which lists all 256 colors of X11 and their names,
  hex value, and RGB and HSL values.

[256co]: <https://jonasjacek.github.io/colors/>

# Search engines and other Big Web stuff

- [DuckDuckGo], a non-tracking search engine.
  I use it for all my searching needs.
  It's actually great for all the other search engines
  by using its [bang syntax], too.
- [Wolfram Alpha], which you can type math-type stuff in
  and it gives you the answer.
  *And shows its work!*
  There is a paid version, 
  but the free version works fine (as of this writing).

[DuckDuckGo]: <https://duckduckgo.com/>
[bang syntax]: <https://duckduckgo.com/bang>
[Wolfram Alpha]: <https://www.wolframalpha.com/>

A pages/now.md => pages/now.md +72 -0
@@ 0,0 1,72 @@
---
title: What I'm up to
---

::: note
Inspired by [KMS](https://kyle.marek-spartz.org/),
see also [nownownow.com](https://nownownow.com).
:::

# Reading

- *The Wake* by Paul Kingsnorth
- *White Fragility* by Robin DiAngelo
- *The Goodness Paradox* by Richard Wrangham

I'm trying to read more than one book at a time.
We'll see how that works.

# Writing

April just ended (yesterday as I write this),
meaning Napowrimo 2019 is over.
I wrote 25/30 posts, or about 83% of the days.
I'm okay with that.
It's a passing grade.

I just completed a site redesign!
I'm very happy with it.
I'm still tweaking some things and I'm about to work on the backend a bit,
but it looks very good right now.

I'm considering beginning a very long project
that could be very interesting.
I'm nervous to start because it'll take years to do
and I'm worried I don't have the follow through.
I think I'll try though.
Ultimately I'm only accountable to myself.

# Listening & Watching

I've been listening to a lot of ambient music lately
(as in, *Alexa play Ambient Radio*[^alexa]).
I'm also excited for the coming release of
[Tank and the Banga's *Green Balloon*][tank].

I've been watching *Scrubs* from the start on Hulu,
and I've got to say it's not really holding up to my memory.
The jokes don't age too well.
Hopefully Season 2 gets better.

[^alexa]:
    I don't like name-dropping, and so implicitly supporting, Amazon here, but
    that is what happens.  I play music when I do dishes through the little
    spyware device.

[tank]:
    <https://www.npr.org/2019/04/25/716059566/>

# Life

I'm getting married in October!
I'm very excited.
Planning is going swimmingly:
we've got the venue,
the DJ,
the caterer,
the invite list.
We've sent out the Save the Dates
and we just did our registry.
This month we're getting our rings.

*It's happening!*

A pages/projects.md => pages/projects.md +84 -0
@@ 0,0 1,84 @@
---
title: Projects
---

I've done a couple of larger projects over the years as well.
Some are hosted elsewhere;
when those elsewheres retire I move the project back here.
Sometimes the whole thing is completely lost.
I'll just tell you about those.

# Writing

[Interstitial] - [2018]{.date}
:   I decided to rebuild my site from scratch.
    At first,
    I was going to write my own static site generator with Python
    but it [failed].
    I put this up while I worked on the new thing.
    In the interest of keeping everything,
    I'm leaving it here.

[Interstitial]: </projects/interstitial/1.html>
[failed]: <https://www.gitlab.com/acdw/tuppence>

[Autocento of the breakfast table] - [2015]{.date}
:   My master's thesis,
    a hypertextual collection of pretty much all my work to date (in 2015),
    including a lot of smaller projects like
    *The Book of Hezekiah*,
    *Buildings out of air*,
    or my undergraduate thesis work.
    It's not the *first* time I really used pandoc and Make to build a project,
    but I lost the source code to the very first time
    (my undergraduate thesis),
    and it was the first time I built something like it for the web.
    It's hosted at [Gitlab],
    if you want to see the source.

[Autocento of the breakfast table]: </projects/autocento/>
[Gitlab]: <https://gitlab.com/acdw/autocento>

::: {style="font-family: 'Comic Neue', 'Comic Sans', 'Comic Sans MS', sans-serif;"}
[LOOSE POOPS] - [2015]{.date}
:   LOOSE POOPS are sometimes a surprise.\
    LOOSE POOPS are an artist collective.\
    LOOSE POOPS are because revision is sometimes tiresome.\
    LOOSE POOPS are explorations into the child parts of ourselves.\
    LOOSE POOPS are gorilla art.
:::

[LOOSE POOPS]: <https://loosepoops.github.io>

E-Chapbooks - [2012]{.date}
:   I made some online chapbooks
    for an undergraduate writing workshop I was in.
    They were on the department webpage,
    for a while,
    but they've since been taken down
    and forgotten.

# Code

Vim plugins
:   [vim-face]: a no-nonsense theme with very little highlighting,
    inspired by syntax off and nofrils.
    My current scheme.
:   [vim-hiliter]: precursor to vim-face, with highlights instead of faces.
:   [vim-tenhundred]: a spellfile to make you use the 1000 [most common words]
    in English.

Forks
:   [dmenu-overkill]: a fork of dmenu-ee, a fork of dmenu,
    which I don't use any more anyway.
    Why am I including it here?

Others
:   [townie]: the source code of my presences at [tilde.town][tilde].

[vim-face]: <https://git.sr.ht/~acdw/vim-face>
[vim-hiliter]: <https://github.com/duckwork/vim-hiliter>
[vim-tenhundred]: <https://github.com/duckwork/vim-tenhundred>
[dmenu-overkill]: <https://github.com/duckwork/dmenu-overkill>
[townie]: <https://git.sr.ht/~acdw/townie>
[tilde]: <http://tilde.town/~acdw/>

A pages/publications.md => pages/publications.md +26 -0
@@ 0,0 1,26 @@
---
title: Publications
---

Every so often, I get my work published somewhere!  Here's a list of those
places:

- "[In Bed]", in *[Sweet Tree Review]*
- "[Sifting beans]", in *[Sweet Tree Review]*
- "[Time looks up to the sky]", in *[Nude Bruce Review]* 5 (p. 83)
- "[Rough Gloves]", in *[Sequoya Review]* 2013 (p. 47)
- "[The Difference]", in *[Sequoya Review]* 2012 (p. 28)
- "[The Mountain]", in *[Sequoya Review]* 2011 (p. 58)
- "[The Storm Crosses the Threshold]", in *[Sequoya Review]* 2010 (p. 38)

[In Bed]: <http://www.sweettreereview.com/in-bed-case-duckworth/>
[Sifting beans]: <https://www.sweettreereview.com/sifting-beans-case-duckworth>
[Time looks up to the sky]: <https://issuu.com/nudebrucereview/docs/final_layout_issue_5/84>
[The Storm Crosses the Threshold]: <https://utcsequoyareview.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/sr-2010.pdf>
[The Mountain]: <https://utcsequoyareview.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/sr-2011.pdf>
[The Difference]: <https://utcsequoyareview.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/sr-2012.pdf>
[Rough Gloves]: <https://utcsequoyareview.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/2013-sequoya-review.pdf>

[Sweet Tree Review]: <https://www.sweettreereview.com/>
[Nude Bruce Review]: <https://nudebrucereview.com/>
[Sequoya Review]: <https://sequoyareview.com/>

A posts/book/2017-07-03-instructions-to-the-cook.md => posts/book/2017-07-03-instructions-to-the-cook.md +21 -0
@@ 0,0 1,21 @@
---
title: Instructions to the Cook
subtitle: by Glassman and Fields
tags: [readlist, zen, cooking]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/779/703/9780517703779.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780517703779"
---

It's funny -- as I was cleaning up my [Readlist], removing things that had
been on my Amazon wishlist that I'd already read, I noticed that *Instructions
to the Cook: A Zen Master's Lessons in Living a Life that Matters* (Glassman &
Fields) was included. It was funny to me because I forgot that was on my list,
and checked it out from the library a few weeks ago on a whim regardless.
Like, I guess I'm interested in Zen and cooking, right?

Anyway, the book was terrible. I ended up reading maybe 20 pages of it and
returning it because Glassman seemed to only talk about how much *he* had
gotten out of his Zen practice, not actually *how* to practice or what to do.
It seemed really egoistic, so I just put it down. And there's my first review.

[Readlist]: https://acdw.gitlab.io/readlist

A posts/book/2017-07-08-words-and-meaning.md => posts/book/2017-07-08-words-and-meaning.md +72 -0
@@ 0,0 1,72 @@
---
title: A Wizard of Earthsea
subtitle: by Ursula K. Le Guin
tags: [wizards, magic, le guin, language, fantasy]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/742/773/9780547773742.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780547773742"
---

Stories about wizards have always held great charm for me, and in reading *A
Wizard from Earthsea*, I have finally come to understand why. Wizards' magic
fulfills the promise of language, that words have meaning and are powerful,
that they have their own existences beyond their uses as hooks to meaning, as
metaphor. I remember in *Gulliver's Travels,* Swift describes a land where
people have foregone words, choosing instead to carry all the objects of their
conversations on their backs; for Le Guin, words *are* the things that are
carried, to use for good or ill, as weapons for as balms, for friend or foe.

As a writer (or at the very least, a Word Nerd), I'm fascinated with my use of
words, and by extension our uses. It's trivial to say that words are
important, that they can affect change in the world through persuasion,
flattery, or plain tricks, but I think -- I've thought for a long time -- that
words are more real than that, that they have some sort of reality beyond what
they signify. For example, I heard on the radio (some *TED Radio Hour*, I
think, though I might've read it or seen it or just thought it, you know how
that is[^1]) that without language, humans can't really tell right from left,
or make more complex spacial relationships regarding our world. The experiment
started with mice: they got put in a square room with different patterns on
each wall, and shown where to get some food -- say, it'd be left of the
checked wall. If they were picked up, turned around, and made to try to find
the food again (in the same spot), they had to start over. They couldn't work
out, "I need to get to the left of the checked wall." Okay, you say; that's
just a mouse; who cares? *Well:* the same thing happened with people when
researchers knocked their language facilities out of their heads (temporarily,
of course). So in that small way, at least, words wield real power in our
lives: they root us where we are and allow us to get around the world.

In *Earthsea*, of course, words do more than that. There's this concept of the
True Language of the world, and every thing[^2] has its own name in the True
Speech, by which it can be called and manipulated by a wizard. Additionally,
if you want to change the nature of a thing, you have to change its name,
which will ripple out to the other things around it, changing in some way
their natures. Basically, as far as I can figure, Earthsea is defined as a
number of objects in loose relation to one another, where they each have their
own nature but are defined in terms of each other as well. I suppose all
that's an implementation detail; the real interesting thing is that words and
names are tightly bound to the things they represent, so much so that they
cease to represent them and actually *are* those things. There's a passage in
the book that mentions that the entire Universe is just the syllables of one
long word, spoken slowly and inexorably by the stars. There's a beautiful sort
of completeness in that, an echoing of the gospel of John or of (I think)
Jewish mysticism: once the word's done, it's done. The breath is out.
Something something heat death of the universe, right?

What are we to make of this? I'm not sure. Obviously words don't have the kind
of power they do in Earthsea, but they definitely have more power than *Sticks
and stones may break my bones* nursery-rhymes would have us believe, and I
think they have more power even then the silver-tongued confidence man would
have you believe. They're somewhere in the realm of unicorns, maybe: because a
unicorn has been described and defined, even though you'll never see one or
hear its breath, it must exist somewhere, right, somehow? Or like the one idea
of death I heard about another time on TED: that after we die, we're all
ushered to a waiting room to hang out until our second death, when our name is
said by the living for the last time. There's a real tragedy in that last
death, in the knowledge that one day, all knowledge will be lost, even if it
will just as surely be refound: because at that refinding, is it still the
same knowledge? And how many times has it happened already?

[^1]: Incidentally, that's a great idea for a longer post. Maybe I'll come
    back to that at some point, who knows.

[^2]: Which, incidentally, I just learned comes from Old Norse meaning *a
    meeting of disparate elements*. Fun fact!

A posts/book/2017-07-10-space-battle-lunchtime.md => posts/book/2017-07-10-space-battle-lunchtime.md +74 -0
@@ 0,0 1,74 @@
---
title: Space Battle Lunchtime
subtitle: by Natalie Riess
tags: [comics, food, aliens, sci fi]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/135/103/9781620103135.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781620103135"
---

I love comic books. I love how they're able to live in that space between
books and cinema: they're as visually stimulating as a film, but as portable
and seekable as a book. You can feel the amount of time put into them, the
love labored out over inking, coloring, writing. They're great.

The best thing about them is they can be consumed very quickly. In fact, I
read comic books so fast I almost disappoint myself; I feel like I should take
more time with them, savor the images and stories. Maybe I should read them
more than once.

I haven't read Natalie Riess's *Space Battle Lunchtime* (volume 1) more than
once, though now that I'm thinking about it I might go for it again tonight. I
just finished *Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom*, after all. At any rate,
what I'll write now will be first thoughts.

*Space Battle Lunchtime* is a lot of fun. It's a play on Food Network shows
like *Chopped* or *MasterChef*, but in SPACE! And with ALIENS! And kidnapping
and murder thrown in! It follows an Earthling baker, Peony, who's cast to the
eponymous intergalactic hit cooking contest show after one of the contestants
drops out suddenly. I thought there'd be some, "Oh look, we're in space! It's
so strange/interesting/post-scarcity/complicatedly political" expository stuff
at the beginning, but it turns out not to be the case. Peony's thrown into
production along with us and the show gets going.

The copy I read was the first 4 issues of the comic book bound together. In
it, the show goes through your standard cooking-competition elimination rounds
while hinting at a darker underbelly to the competition. One of the chefs,
Melonhead, is back from a devastating loss last year, and let's just say he
wants that title. Between him and the other alien chefs, the ingredients, and
the setting, the comic book is beautifully drawn, as well. I really like the
style, which to my mind is something like *Steven Universe* or other modern
cartoons -- clean lines, bright colors, a little anime influence.

I think I'll have to re-read this book when I get home to tide me over til I
can find the next one. It ends when the action is just getting interesting.

## I read it again!

Okay, so I just reread Volume 1 of *Space Battle Lunchtime*, and let me say
\#1 rule of reading: *read things more than once!* I got so much more n u a n
c e out of this reading, and could see where the great and the working-on
were.

The detail in this book is richly imagined. Riess obviously watched a lot of
*Chopped* and *Iron Chef* to get the pacing of the cooking scenes down, and
her use of dynamic page composition helps it really feel as though you're
*watching* an intergalactic space competition. There are loads of other little
goodies, too, like when Peony's handler (I guess that's what she is? Anyway,
she found her for the show) explains the stakes and her clipboard says,
"Explain Stakes." And the way that the space food is drawn looks alien and
delicious all at once -- I'd love to try some of the dishes that are featured.

The one thing this novel is missing out on is character development. When the
show isn't rolling, Peony hangs out with the crew and with who I think is
going to be a love interest, another competitor named Neptunia. I got the
feeling that I was supposed to be getting to know these characters in these
scenes, but the pacing is a little slow and the dialog a little too generic
for me to really know anything about them. That said, most cooking shows we
don't know anything at all about the contestants other than where they're from
and that they love cooking, so I wasn't expecting too much
character-development-wise. It is cool that Riess is working to add another
dimension to what could easily have been just a fun take on cooking
competition shows.

The next volume (I think of a two-volume series) isn't at my library yet, but
it's processing. I'll reserve it and write about it in a new post when I can!

A posts/book/2017-07-18-cinderella-ate-my-daughter.md => posts/book/2017-07-18-cinderella-ate-my-daughter.md +21 -0
@@ 0,0 1,21 @@
---
title: Cinderella Ate My Daughter
subtitle: by Peggy Orenstein
tags: [nonfiction, feminism]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/534/711/9780061711534.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780061711534"
---

Orenstein has a pedigree writing about womens' liberation issues for
publications like the *New York Times*, or whatever has a lot of caché
nowadays. That sounds like I think it's dumb -- I don't, promise; I'm just
pumping these reviews out so blehgh. Anyway, this book made me even more
afraid to have children than I already was! It made me realize that no matter
what values I might try to instill in a daughter or a son, like Orenstein, I
will fail to protect them from a classist, sexist, consumerist world that
constantly bombards them with its messaging: "BUY MORE SHIT!" "BE THIS WAY!"
"DON'T DO THAT!" "YOU ARE THIS, NOT THAT!" "GOOD IS NARROW!" etc. I think it's
good books like this are here, though, because they're the only way to slowly,
slowly push the prow back in the right direction, to sail onwards toward that
ever-receding horizon and the rising sun.


A posts/book/2017-07-18-down-and-out-in-the-magic-kingdom.md => posts/book/2017-07-18-down-and-out-in-the-magic-kingdom.md +17 -0
@@ 0,0 1,17 @@
---
title: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
subtitle: by Cory Doctorow
tags: [sci fi, doctorow, transhumanism]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/360/304/9780765304360.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780765304360"
---

A fun little jaunt into what happens when nothing is scarce anymore: it's the
near future, and death has been cured, as well as all scarcity. Instead of
currency, people trade in Whuffie, which is basically esteem of everyone
around. Doctorow shows us the joys of transhumanism, computer-brains, and
post-scarcity economics, but he also shows us the existential angst that can
go along with it. His main argument, it seems to me, is that we need something
to work toward or against, so if a natural opponent is taken away, we'll make
them ourselves. It was a fun book, and funny, but it didn't make me think
anything Big.

A posts/book/2017-07-18-even-in-paradise.md => posts/book/2017-07-18-even-in-paradise.md +29 -0
@@ 0,0 1,29 @@
---
title: Even in Paradise
subtitle: by Elizabeth Nunez
tags: [lear, modernizations]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/395/754/9781617754395.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781617754395"
---

Elizabeth Nunez's novel is a modern, post-colonial take on *King Lear*, and it
was decent (I thought the ending was a little where-are-they-now,
end-of-documentary summation, and the writing style was, I don't remember, but
something was a little off, okay?), but it really made me remember my whole
thing with the *King Lear* story. First off, *King Lear* is *not* the first
iteration of that tale; like many Shakespearean plays, its roots are much
older, and a story very much like it is told [all over the world]. The first
place I heard it was in *Grandfather Tales*, a collection of Appalachian folk
tales, where the youngest daughter, instead of saying she loves her father as
much as is her duty, tells him she loves him "As much as meat loves salt." I
was thinking about the differences between the two, between duty and salt, and
I think I like the second better because I don't like the power-dynamic
implications of words like *duty*, especially in regards to the machinations
of love. Love should be freely given, and accepted as a gift: if someone loves
only to fulfill some duty, that is not love, but loyalty. Which is not to say
loyalty is trash, of course! But it isn't love, and I'm not a fan of the idea
that love is a thing that can be demanded as fealty. However, the *salt* thing
I like, because as the story bears out, without salt, meat is nothing,
meaningless; life without love is the same. Plus it's a cool metaphor.

[all over the world]: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/salt.html

A posts/book/2017-07-18-interstitial.md => posts/book/2017-07-18-interstitial.md +36 -0
@@ 0,0 1,36 @@
---
title: The City and the City
subititle: China Miéville
tags: [city, fantasy, sci fi, journalism]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/529/497/9780345497529.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780345497529"
---

I'm in that interstitial space between books, a no-book on the other side of
two covers. I just finished reading *The City and the City* (Miéville), in
which interstice is a character: the novel is about two city-states that share
the same geography (are *topogangers*, one of Miéville's wonderful neologisms
to describe the political, bureaucratic, and geographical nature of the
cities), where breaching the borders between the two is an existential crime.
The book itself is a gripping murder mystery that uses its setting almost as
another character, and the setting pulled me in completely. As I was reading
it, I began to feel paranoid even in my normal life, worried that some unseen
presence underneath or between what I could see was watching me, waiting for
something. I also began to notice interstices around me: the ways in which I
(I hope *we*) unsee those around us on the street, deciding we don't know
them; the places that are unnoticeable because they are nowhere, but between
two others; those times when we're getting ready for something or finishing
something else, and really aren't doing much of anything, but are truly
living. Yesterday, it was raining very hard for about an hour and I went out
the back door of the office, to an interstice between our building and the
house next door. There was an unused loading dock there, and a mysterious
motor of some kind, I guess a wench or something like it. I was in the middle
of a city but I felt as though I were on another planet, maybe in that planet
of a short story (I don't remember the name or who wrote it, only this) where
it had rained for hundreds of years, constantly. I was nowhere; I felt free.
Or whatever. I mean, I did in that moment, but it's pretty ridiculous looking
at it that way now. Or is what I'm doing now, discounting the experience, a
normalization of an experienced moment of interstice? Some sublime unknowable
thing that exists nowhere and everywhere at once? I don't know. I have no
organized thoughts. If they're organized, if I put them into buildings, won't
I have dark alleys between them where anything can happen?

A posts/book/2017-08-04-atlas-shrugged-i.md => posts/book/2017-08-04-atlas-shrugged-i.md +87 -0
@@ 0,0 1,87 @@
---
title: Atlas Shrugged I
subtitle: by Ayn Rand
tags: [rand, fail, series]
series: Atlas Shrugged
series-note: >
    I'm currently reading Ayn Rand's 1000-page epic about (as far as I can
    tell) steel, trains, and strangely-named thin people.  Since it's taking
    me a while to get through it, I thought I'd live-blog my experience
    instead of writing one big post at the end of my journey.
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/144/191/9780451191144.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780451191144"
---

# Somewhere in chapter VII

Okay, I admit it: I have a really hard time reading books with long chapters.
I need lots of little breakpoints, like commercial breaks, that let me get up
and get something out of the fridge, or a drink of water, or something. So
this book is hard for me to read for that reason alone.

That's not the only reason though! I don't know if you know this, but if you
know me, like, *at all* IRL you know that I'm about two hairs shy of a raging
socialist. I mean, I don't like labels because I think they're limiting and
because they have a whole cloud of connotations that, especially in America
(thanks, in part, to Ms. Rand!), are extremely negative, and as such tend to
shut down dialog instead of expanding it. But regardless, I'm definitely
*left* **left** **LEFT** of center in regards to the function of society, the
way I feel about laissez-faire capitalism, and social issues. So I went into
*Atlas Shrugged* knowing that I'd disagree with many points, and actually
that's a big reason I did: I've railed against Rand-toting idealogues on the
right often enough that my girlfriend asked if I'd actually ever even *read*
Rand, and all I've ever really done was *The Fountainhead* a long time ago,
and my mom bought me that book because, and I quote, she thought it'd "make
\[me\] think about becoming an architect." Which the architecture is very nice
in that book, but it's really not what it's about, is it?[^1]

So I'm currently somewhere in the middle of Chapter VII, when (spoiler alert!)
Rearden Metal has just been condemned by the governmental body as being unsafe
for public use, and Dagny and Rearden are shitting their pants (in a
dignified, objectivist manner, of course). My thing about this kerfuffle is
that it's too cartoonish: yes, the State Science Institute is absolutely in
the wrong here by condemning the metal on political instead of scientific
grounds, but I'm not convinced of the metal's safety myself. It seems as
though Rand just wants us to *trust* Rearden's metallurgical intellect
*because* he's the hero; as far as I can tell neither he nor Dagny ever test
the Metal in any meaningful way to determine if it is, in fact, safe, or would
have issues after a lot of wear-and-tear. The narrative of the book totally
glosses over that necessary part and expects us to believe that just because
Rearden wants to make money in an unregulated market, he's sufficiently tested
the metal -- which isn't how that's played out, hardly ever, in the real
world. I mean, look at lead in gasoline: it was added to reduce knocking and
increase profits, but they didn't do any safety testing on it, and actively
worked against the guy who found out its very real public health risks, to
keep the status quo. If the book works the same way, it'd be like if the
bridge they're building with Rearden Metal were to shear and begin to crumble
and Rearden actively worked against fixing it or letting people know there was
a problem. Which I guess he's not *going* to, since he's some Golden God of
progress, but I think there should've been at least some allusion to the
surety that the Metal had undergone some rigorous testing so that we know it
really is what it says it is.

That's the other thing about this book, by the way, the Golden God-ness of the
main characters. It seems to me that in Rand's worldview, Dagny, Rearden, and
for a while, D'Anconia are perfect people in every way, and she writes them
without flaws, or anyway without real flaws. All characters need some kind of
flaw to make them human, to really make me care about them; otherwise the book
turns into nothing more than a flat allegory (which I guess *Atlas Shrugged*
is? but it could be more interesting). Most of the time we spend with Dagny or
Rearden is a constant discussion of just how *great* they are, stoic, patient,
trying to be patient with mere mortals who just *don't get their genius* or
are cowardly. I can see how these books appeal to young readers, because most
of them think that way about themselves: I know I did when I was that age,
even if I didn't want to admit it. And maybe that's what makes them kind of
unbelievable to me -- by the time people reach the ages of these characters,
they should know better, no matter who they are.

That's my main thinking right now. Let's see where this book takes us from
here!

[^1]: And, fun fact, apparently a lot of people try going to architecture
    school after reading it, where it's like the *Top Gun* high five: anybody
    who does it is immediately called out for being there for entirely the
    wrong reasons.

  [here]: https://www.acdw.net/read/09874.html
  [1]: https://www.acdw.net/read/09883.html

A posts/book/2017-08-07-atlas-shrugged-ii.md => posts/book/2017-08-07-atlas-shrugged-ii.md +72 -0
@@ 0,0 1,72 @@
---
title: Atlas Shrugged II
subtitle: by Ayn Rand
tags: [rand, fail, series]
series: Atlas Shrugged
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/144/191/9780451191144.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780451191144"
---

I've made it to Chapter IX: The Sacred and the Profane. I've just finished the
violent sex scene between Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden, consummating the
dance they've been circling around each other since they began working on what
became the John Galt line, at the end of the first successful run on that
line. I'm checking in because of the conversation Dagny and Rearden had with
Ellis Wyatt in his home, looking over his oil field; during it I wondered how
Ayn Rand would've responded to the climate change crisis we're facing.

Wyatt is an oil man; his house perches on a hill above a wide berth of oil
field. During dinner, he mentions that soon he'll have oil enough for
thousands of years (or something to that effect) because of the new process
he's developed to extract oil from shale. The thing is, since 1957 (when the
book was published), we've developed a process to extract oil from shale, and
it has done great things for industry and all; however, it's also precipitated
great harm to the environment in terms of ruined ecosystems and increased
greenhouse gases, which (as we all should know) are really fucking up our
futures on this planet. But of course, for Rand's characters, what's most
important is profit --- my question is, in the short- or long-term?

When the story dealt only with Taggart's rail line and Rearden's steel mills,
with the increased productivity a new, better (if untested, see my previous
post) metal, I was frustrated along with them at the bureaucratic bullshit in
the form of laws that enforced state-wide monopolies and forbade people to own
more than one business: of course those are anticompetitive and ridiculous
laws meant only to enforce the status quo while playing lip service to
"greater equity." Where Rand loses me, however, is in the idea that all
business, all profit, is inherently good *of its own sake*, in a vacuum
outside of the concerns of the society or ecology around it.

The plain fact of the matter is that there are many people (and, for that
matter, animals) that have no say in the way things as a whole are run,
because they have not had the opportunities the Dagny Taggarts and Hank
Reardens of the world have had. Rand's thinking, as far as I can tell, leads
directly to the prosperity-gospel rationalizing of poverty as an indicator of
moral corruption, and the idea that people deserve whatever it is they have,
which is simply and demonstratively untrue: for every rags- to-riches story of
a young upstart with a heart of gold who makes his way to the very shining top
of industry, for every fall-from-grace story of a corrupt oligarch who meets
his just deserts[^1] by being found out, there are hundreds if not thousands
of stories about people who stay in their socioeconomic level through their
entire lives, whether they're good or bad, smart or stupid, enterprising or
complacent. We tell ourselves stories of the outliers because they're novel,
but people like Rand seem to think they're the norm, which is incredibly
dangerous. In fact, I'd say that kind of thinking led us directly here, in
2017, to rising sea levels, obesity and opioid epidemics, a dismal
international diplomacy outlook, Brexit, and Donald Trump.

So I'd love to bring Ayn Rand back from the dead and begin by asking her what
she thinks about climate change. Would she maybe change her mind about the
benefits of ceaselessly chasing profit over the health of the planet (which
would affect long-term profit), or would she staunchly defend her philosophy
of "rational self-interest?"

*Addendum, 8/8: I just read the first part of Chapter IX. WHAT THE F IS WRONG
WITH THESE PEOPLE?? They have seriously unhealthy feelings about sex, love and
intimacy. WTF.*

[^1]: Fun fact: it *is* just *deserts*, one *s*. It's a usage of *deserts*
    that means *being deserving of something*, and it's still pronounced
    *desserts!* WHO KNEW!?

  [first]: https://www.acdw.net/read/09871.html
  [third]: https://www.acdw.net/read/09883.html

A posts/book/2017-08-16-atlas-shrugged-iii.md => posts/book/2017-08-16-atlas-shrugged-iii.md +56 -0
@@ 0,0 1,56 @@
---
title: Atlas Shrugged III
subtitle: by Ayn Rand
tags: [rand, fail, series]
series: Atlas Shrugged
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/144/191/9780451191144.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780451191144"
---

I couldn't do it, yall. I couldn't finish *Atlas Shrugged.* Honestly, the
biggest problem wasn't the politics or any of that; it was the
heavy-handedness with which Rand described her characters and had them
interact. I quit in the middle of Dagny's track-down of the engineer from
Twentieth Century Motor Company, because every single person in the chain is
the same person: sniveling, degenerate, constantly babbling about themselves
and how "it's not my fault that I failed," which I suppose is Rand's
characterization of the socialistic/anti-objectivist type, but which for me
just grated. What I'm saying is, I'm in favor of a lot of social welfare
programs and shared-ownership schemes; I think that laissez-faire capitalism
is inherently flawed in the way it rewards those who seek short-term profit
over long-term durability, and in the way it encourages monopolistic business
practices that end up causing huge income inequalities, which are
self-perpetuating and self-sustaining; and *I* hated the non-Dagny-Taggarts,
the non-Hank-Reardens of the book too.

In fact, by setting up such a fictitious (I mean *fictitious* in that it would
never actually happen; *Atlas Shrugged* is a novel-length straw man, as far as
I can tell) dichotomy between the golden capitalist gods and the sniveling
worms of everyone else, Rand reduces her book to mere propoganda for her
philosophy. It's worked, obviously, because her novel is expressly pitched at
people of the age where they really think they know everything, and that
people can get ahead merely by virtue of their business acumen or
intelligence; maybe since I'm reading it a bit older I can see through that
lie. The fact is that many people (to borrow a phrase that has been making the
rounds more since the inauguration) are born on third base, and Rand is not
just assuming, but proclaiming loudly that they hit a triple.

That's not to say that Rand doesn't have some salient points. Her insistance
on an objective reality and an absolute truth are admirable, in my opinion: we
should spend more time on debates reaching a consensus on the absolute facts
of a matter before sparring on our viewpoints. I wonder how Rand would feel
about today's Republican party that claims to hold her so dear to its heart:
how would she feel about InfoWars using fear and conspiracy to sell quack
cures, for example? how would she feel about the party of Trump, whose reality
is a forever-shifting hurricane of bullshit and doublespeak? Would she ignore
all of the right's propoganda, which is increasingly reaching Soviet levels of
insidiousness, because Republicans claim to favor a free capitalist
marketplace? Would she embrace her proteges?

I have no idea. But I haven't been able to concentrate on the story of *Atlas
Shrugged* these almost-three-hundred pages because of all my questions. Maybe
I'll try to crack this nut again in a calmer political era, but for now --
*shrug*.

  [one]: https://www.acdw.net/read/09871.html
  [two]: https://www.acdw.net/read/09874.html

A posts/book/2017-09-08-three-body-problem.md => posts/book/2017-09-08-three-body-problem.md +73 -0
@@ 0,0 1,73 @@
---
title: Three Body Problem
subtitle: by Cixin Liu
tags: [sci fi, liu, aliens, physics]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/030/382/9780765382030.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780765382030"
---

::: note
Disclaimer: It's been a little while since I actually read this book, so my
review might be missing some details or nuance of a fresh read. On the other
hand, it will have aspects that a fresh review won't have: the color receding
into the distance, the more general shape of the book, how it's faded into the
background of my thoughts.
:::

Cixin Liu's *Three Body Problem* has been described as China's best science
fiction novel, and been compared to *Dune*, so I knew I'd want to read it for
a while before I actually got around to doing so. It mostly lives up to the
hype: it's got that great sci-fi combination of the technical, the political,
and the human, and the story unfolds by gradually revealing details in two (or
maybe three) different time periods. I personally enjoyed reading it for the
illuminating description of the shit of the Revolution in China and for the
realistic exploration of how humanity would react to contact from another
world.

I usually don't care about giving spoilers, but with *Three Body Problem*, I
want to tread lightly, so I'm going to skip the synopsis and go for the three
sci-fi components that work really well. The technical aspect of this book
centers mostly around the virtual world of the video game *Three Body*, which
features a world with interleaving Chaotic Periods and Stable Periods. During
a Chaotic Period, the conditions are (duh) chaotic, varying wildly from
ice-cold nights to scorching days of completely random lengths of time. A
Stable Period is the opposite: day and night fall into rhythms, and life can
flourish until the next Chaotic Period. We're introduced to the game because
the main character begins playing it in connection with an investigation, and
he begins trying to figure out how the world works. Through him figuring it
out, Liu explains to the reader the concept of the Three Body Problem of
classical physics, as well as posits a virtual reality suit that players use
to fully immerse themselves into the game. Although I at first thought the
segments dedicated to *Three Body* were distractions to the main plot, they
eventually reveal themselves as integral to the development of the story, and
by the end of the book were my favorite segments.

Any science fiction worth its salt will use the genre to comment on its day's
political situation: that's what the genre is for. Liu's book does the same
for the twenty-first century Chinese political situation, which was
interesting on its face because I don't know much about it at all. The book
opens with a description of a brutal beating and killing of an intellectual
during the Chinese Revolution, and that brutality, the extreme dedication to
an idea disregarding its cost in human life, persists throughout the book. The
interpersonal dynamics in *Three Body Problem* feel real, as do the
international politics that are represented in those dynamics, especially
during the summit meetings held later in the novel. Liu spends some time
discussing theories as to how we would react to extraterrestrial communication
(spoiler alert: it's almost certainly going to be terrible), and through the
novel explores how those theories might really play out.

The human aspect of the story was the hardest for me to get into. I'm not sure
if it's something to do with the cultural difference between myself and the
author or something else, but it was challenging to be rooting for a character
one minute to have them betray all of humanity the next without much
explanation as to what led them down that path.

The book has a few loose ends as well: for example, a mysterious countdown
that does not get resolved. However, I found out that *Three Body Problem* is
only the first of a trilogy by Cixin Liu, so I'm sure the ends will be tied
together by the end of book III (I definitely reserved the next in the series
from the library as soon as I finished the first!).

Overall, I'd recommend *Three Body Problem* as a new science fiction novel
that explores some really interesting territory and sheds light on a country I
personally knew little about.

A posts/book/2017-09-22-goliath.md => posts/book/2017-09-22-goliath.md +33 -0
@@ 0,0 1,33 @@
---
title: Goliath
subtitle: by Tom Gauld
tags: [comics, historical fiction, alt narrative]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/652/460/9781770460652.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781770460652"
---

Gauld's first graphic novel is an alternative-perspective on Goliath (as in,
*David and*). I'm a sucker for alternative-perspective stories, from *Grendel*
to *Wicked* (and I have *The Last Ringbearer* ready to read whenever I can get
a Kindle or something), so I was excited to pick up *Goliath*.

The most interesting twist of *Goliath* is its characterization of the title
character: Goliath is just a big guy who is more interested in book-keeping
than fighting, and has been happy in his desk job during the Hebrew-Philistine
war until an enterprising middle-manager of a general convinces the king that
a "Fight of Champions" will win the war with no cost to the Philistines. Of
course, Goliath is that champion because of his size, though he is kept in the
dark about his mission for as long as possible.

Gauld's sparse style lends itself well to this story, most of which has
Goliath sitting at a pile of rocks at the bottom of a gorge and reading the
pre-written challenge to the Israelites. David doesn't even feature except as
a premonition of death from the mist, just before he hits an unprepared
Goliath in the head and kills him, ending the story. The boy the story is more
interested in is Goliath's shield-bearer, who looks up to Goliath and is
probably the only person to mourn his death.

I was surprised by *Goliath*, both by its shortness and depth: Gauld has taken
scant source material on one of the Bible's most infamous characters and given
him, if not a full life, a sketch that points to his humanity, and reminds us
that there is never only one side to a conflict.

A posts/book/2017-09-22-youre-all-just-jealous-of-my-jetpack.md => posts/book/2017-09-22-youre-all-just-jealous-of-my-jetpack.md +18 -0
@@ 0,0 1,18 @@
---
title: You're All Just Jealous of My Jetpack
subtitle: by Tom Gauld
tags: [comics]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/048/461/9781770461048.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781770461048"
---

I first became familiar with Gauld's work through his [tumblr], which is
titled the same as his book and features the same: cartoons he's drawn for
*The Guardian*. I was originally drawn to his comics by the clean line and
coloring style, and by the literary humor that lampoons genre, the publishing
industry, and popular (or even "canonical") works. That being said, *Jetpack*
is probably best-suited for sitting on a coffee table for occasional leafing
by guests. I read it straight through, and after about forty pages of similar
jokes, found myself rushing to have it over with.

[tumblr]: http://myjetpack.tumblr.com/

A posts/book/2017-11-23-boundless.md => posts/book/2017-11-23-boundless.md +33 -0
@@ 0,0 1,33 @@
---
title: Boundless
subtitle: by Jillian Tamaki
tags: [comics]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/878/462/9781770462878.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781770462878"
---

I picked up *[Boundless]* from the graphic novel section because I liked the
cover: the title and author's names handwritten in big, skinny letters around
a picture of a woman putting her hair in a ponytail. The picture is all
penwork, with lots of close hatching for the shadows, with a great expression
in the woman's face -- she's looking down and to her left, as though deep in
thought or consideration of something. The stories in Tamaki's book look at
you in the same way. Each story is sort of like an amuse bouche, small and
surprising and interesting and then over, leaving you wanting more. My
favorite was "1.Jenny," about a mysterious mirror Facebook that features
versions of people that diverge from their own lives, exposed on the social
network. The story doesn't waste time figuring out how the mirroring works, or
whether the two doppelgangers are linked somehow (though it seems to be that
they are, and the use of "mirror" leads to that conclusion as well), but
rather uses the situation as a vehicle for the main character, Jenny's,
personal transformation to a more healthy person, both physically and
mentally. I also loved shorter stories like "The Clairfree System," "Darla!"
and "Half Life," about a woman who begins shrinking one day and finally
disappears. The art is most expressive, and I think the best, in "Bedbug,"
which uses a bedbug infestation as a metaphor for marital infidelity and stays
on the cheater's point of view -- which I haven't seen many times before and
is interesting, to see her side of things. Overall, it's a good book with
great art and I want to read more [Tamaki].

[Boundless]: http://jilliantamaki.com/books/boundless/
[Tamaki]: http://jilliantamaki.com

A posts/book/2017-11-23-practical-magic.md => posts/book/2017-11-23-practical-magic.md +23 -0
@@ 0,0 1,23 @@
---
title: Practical Magic
subtitle: by Alice Hoffman
tags: [hoffman, magic]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/371/190/9780425190371.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780425190371"
---

I read this book because I saw [the movie] and thought it was pretty good, but
also clearly a movie adaptation of a book. I could tell that the novel would
have more detail about the characters, their lives, and their motivations,
which interested me because the characters were great. So I picked up the
book, and honestly it's very different from the movie. The plot is slower,
more thoughtful, with less of an overarching arc. It's more a life-spanning
novel, if that makes sense; it explores the relationship between the two
sisters through their lives through multiple vignettes. The aunts, which
feature very heavily in the movie, don't as much in the book, but the
daughters do very much more. I liked the multi-generational depiction of
women's struggles, which I think is really what the book's about, and I'm glad
the book did not feature the climactic scene from the movie, which I thought
was awkwardly tacked-on.

[the movie]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Practical_Magic

A posts/book/2018-04-09-just-write-and-the-rest.md => posts/book/2018-04-09-just-write-and-the-rest.md +55 -0
@@ 0,0 1,55 @@
---
title: A Drifting Life
subtitle: by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
tags: [manga, comics, eden, publishing, art, writing]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/746/299/9781897299746.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781897299746"
---

A few days ago I finished *A Drifting Life*, Yoshihiro Tatsumi's fictionalized
autobiography about growing up in postwar Japan drawing manga.  It's a great
book -- its depictions of every day life for Hiroshi Katsumi, the book's
protaganist, and his friends, family, and rivals rang true to me, and the way
the creative process is rendered made me remember why I got into writing in
the first place.

Hiroshi has no small share of problems throughout the book.  He fights with
his brother, who has a lung disease for the first chapters until imported
drugs cure him; he fails his university entrance exam by not showing up due to
an existential crisis; he is taken advantage of by publishers; he struggles
with finding his true manga, gekiga, and figuring out how to present it.
However, Hiroshi never has trouble actually drawing, at least for any amount
of time: when he has trouble with a longer-format story (which is what he
really wants to do), he draws four-panel manga instead, or when his publishers
don't want him publishing with other houses, he uses a pseudonym.  He is
constantly creating throughout the entirety of the novel, with an ease that
surprised and inspired me.  He never assumes anything other than that he *is*
a manga artist, even when he's hit a dry spell or isn't feeling up to task.

Now I'm writing this out, I realize that much of that feeling that I so envy
is due to the narrative device of the novel being *about* manga.  I'm sure
Yoshihiro Tatsumi had stretches of his life where he didn't create much of
anything, or felt doubt in his drawing or writing abilities, or in some other
way wasn't able to hack it.  But the book stands on its own, and Hiroshi's
ease of being an artist is still something I want to strive for.

Maybe I'm writing this now instead of a couple of days ago because I'm
currently reading a book where the artist is similar.  David Bourne of
Hemingway's *The Garden of Eden* is similarly sure of himself as a writer, in
fact it may be the only thing he is sure of himself.  He uses his writing as a
refuge from the conflicts of his marriage and transforming wife, and is proud
of himself as he finishes a story.  One scene that struck me is how he reads
over the part of the story he's already written, correcting as he goes, and
not judging himself or wondering how he's going to fix it, like I do.  At
least I have *that* in common with Hiroshi -- he doesn't read his manuscripts
over after he finishes either.

Neither of these characters, as far as I can tell, have any problem (of their
own) sending out work to be read and published either -- something I struggle
greatly with (and the reason I started [LOOSE POOPS], or tried to, and in part
why I began this blog) and that gives me a lot of anxiety.  I think these
books are signs for me at this point in my life.  I think they're telling me:
"Just do things -- just write, and the rest will follow."  I'm trying to do
that.  I'm trying.

[LOOSE POOPS]: https://loosepoops.github.io

A posts/book/2018-04-14-pale-fire.md => posts/book/2018-04-14-pale-fire.md +36 -0
@@ 0,0 1,36 @@
---
title: Pale Fire
subtitle: by Vladimir Nabokov
tags: [poem, novel, experimental]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/424/723/9780679723424.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780679723424"
---

Vladimir Nabokov's *Pale Fire* is one of the strangest and best books I've
read.  I was recommended it by a penpal of mine (hi, V!) and I'm glad she told
me about it.  It takes the form of a posthumously-published poem by a
fictional Great Author, John Shade, and commentary by his friend and neighbor,
Charles Kinbote, who is from the distant land of Zembla.  Upon reading the
commentary, it becomes quickly apparent that Kinbote will not discuss much of
the poem's actual content (that which he does discuss he usually misses the
reference), but instead uses the commentary to talk about his homeland and its
recently-deposed king.  Only slightly less quickly apparent is the realization
that Kinbote is indeed that king in disguise, or maybe is making the entire
thing up out of a powerful delusion.  More than anything else, *Pale Fire* is
a novel of the strange machinations of the mind of Kinbote, who hates his
subject even as he admires him.  It's one of those books I'll need to read
again at some point, to see if I can catch anything new.

The poem itself is pretty good, and I wonder if it the recurring image of the
waxwing ("I was the shadow of the waxwing slain", etc.) is the inspiration for
[*Waxwing* magazine][waxwing], which is run by an old teacher of mine.  It's a 999-line
poem in four cantos about Shade's childhood, his daughter's death, and his
writing style, among other things.  Kinbote's main bent regarding the poem is
disappointment that it wasn't about Zembla, which he claims Shade promised him
to write about.  I'm really not sure what else to say here because the book is
so singular and self-aware that I feel strange writing a review of what is,
essentially, a review.  So if you'd like to know more, read the [Wikipedia
page] on the book or check it out from your local library.

[waxwing]: http://waxwingmag.org/
[Wikipedia page]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Fire

A posts/book/2018-04-15-black-blizzard.md => posts/book/2018-04-15-black-blizzard.md +42 -0
@@ 0,0 1,42 @@
---
title: Black Blizzard
subtitle: by Yoshihiro Tatsumi
tags: [manga, tatsumi, noir]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/126/460/9781770460126.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781770460126"
---

I've just finished *Black Blizzard* by Yoshihiro Tatsumi.  I read about this
book in *[A Drifting Life]*, Tatsumi's memoir, where he described the writing
process as a burst of creativity lasting twenty days.  I'm assuming Drawn &
Quarterly, the publisher, published *Black Blizzard* after interest coming
from readers of *A Drifting Life*, which was also published by them.  The
book's a quick read (it took me just over an hour) and it's pretty good, but
it's also apparent that Tatsumi wrote it when he was twenty-one years old.

It's about a piano player who's suspected of murder and handcuffed to another
prisoner on a train through high mountains in a blizzard.  When the train
they're on gets wrecked in an avalanche, the two men must rely on each other
to survive in the snow.  While taking refuge in a ranger's cabin, the younger
man tells the story of how he got arrested for a murder he doesn't remember
commiting due to being so drunk, and how he cared for a young girl with the
circus and urged her to get out to study singing.  At first, the older
prisoner (who's done prison time for three murders) doesn't think anything of
the pianist, but as they survive together he comes to a kind of understanding
of the younger man, which leads to the twist ending.

I won't spoil it, but I think things are a little too pat at the end of the
story.  All the loose ends are tied up in a way that I don't think rings very
true to life, but I suppose that's the way a lot of noir stories end.  At the
end of the day, they're about action and reaction; they're really just
melodrama.  This story has a lot of good action, and I did pick up on the
cinematic layout of the panels, which apparently was pretty rare at the time.

*Black Blizzard* has made me want to read more of Yoshihiro Tatsumi's work in
particular, and early manga in general, to compare this work to the others
coming out in post-war Japan by Tatsumi's contemporaries.  It was an
interesting time of economic growth and upheavel in the country, and I've
noticed that art seems to be the most interesting coming from those periods of
time.

[A Drifting Life]: https://www.acdw.net/read/10120.html

A posts/book/2018-04-25-children-of-time.md => posts/book/2018-04-25-children-of-time.md +61 -0
@@ 0,0 1,61 @@
---
title: Children of Time
subtitle: by Adrian Tchaikovsky
tags: [space opera, sci fi, empire, humanity]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/301/273/9781447273301.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781447273301"
---

I usually don't read books on my phone; I find the screen too small and blue
to make any serious reading worthwhile. It took a really extraordinary novel,
*Children of Time* (Adrian Tchaikovsky), to get me to enjoy the process. I
read the entire book on my phone except for a very short stint while on a road
trip, when I listened to a recording from [YouTube]. I finished the novel
last Monday but it's been knocking around in my head ever since, which is
always a sign of a great novel.

I think you could call it a space opera because of its scope: the novel opens
with the botched deployment of an intelligence-boosting nanovirus on a
terraformed world just before the self-immolation of the human race, then
immediately skips forward thousands of years to tell the story of (a) the
woman-AI hybrid who's been orbiting the terraformed planet, going slowly
insane, (b) the race of spiders that have become infected with the nanovirus
and thus have become intelligent, and (c) the crew of the ark ship
*Gilgamesh*, the last vestige of the survivors of humanity's ancient civil
war, and how all three interact with each other over the span of another 2000
years. The time spans are able to stretch as long as they do because of
hibernation technology and an ingenious plot device by Tchaikovsky: he uses
the same names with each successive generation of the spiders to enable them
to become representatives of their species.

Speaking of the spiders, it's obvious Tchaikovsky has put a lot of thought
into what intelligent spider society would look like. To paraphrase my mother
when she describes *A Watership Down*: "they're just spiders being spiders."
They are communicative, tool-using, social creatures, but they still spin
webs, eat their mates, and see the world as a complex web of interconnections
(as opposed to the humans' view of ownership and scarcity); that is, they are
still very much spiders. That Tchaikovsky was able to find those commonalities
that would make them compelling, sympathetic characters to his human readers
is a feat I haven't seen much in fiction. (Apparently his other novels deal
with insect-infused humanity; I might need to check those out later.)

Theme-wise, *Children of Time* is heavy on violence and humanity's
relationship to it -- the Old Empire of humanity is wiped out through civil
war, and civil war constantly threatens the lives of those on the *Gilgamesh*.
The spiders are not free of violence, but most of theirs is from outside their
species: Tchaikovsky states plainly that the spiders think more of conquering
and integrating enemies into their society, rather than completely destroying
them. In this way, the spiders act as foil to the humans, eventually finding a
way out of the main conflict of the novel that eludes even the last Sentry of
the Old Empire. In this way the novel as a whole is sort of an answer to the
bleak portrayal of galactic social theory laid out by Liu Cixin's
*[Three-Body Trilogy]*, where there can be no trust between different
species and so the only possible answer to contact is to completely destroy
the other to ensure one's own survival. *Children of Time* pointed out the
inherent anthropocentricity of the ["super-predator view" of Fermi's
paradox][superpredator] and gave me hope as to the possibility that other
species may not share our particular, human penchant for destruction.

[YouTube]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qxe_rww2etc
[Three-Body Trilogy]: https://www.acdw.net/read/09906.html
[superpredator]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fermi_paradox#It_is_the_nature_of_intelligent_life_to_destroy_others

A posts/book/2018-05-07-citizen-an-american-lyric.md => posts/book/2018-05-07-citizen-an-american-lyric.md +31 -0
@@ 0,0 1,31 @@
---
title: "Citizen: An American Lyric"
subtitle: by Claudia Rankine
tags: [politics, microagressions, race]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/903/976/9781555976903.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781555976903"
---

I don't know what I can say about this book that hasn't, I'm sure, already
been said.  It's been four years now since it was published, and I'm only now
getting around to reading it for some reason.  And at first I wasn't sure if
it had affected me that much, but since reading it I've noticed so many other
discussions about race, from [Gambino's *This is America*][gambino] to
[Coates's article on Kanye][coates], *[Dirty Computer]*, and others.

*Citizen* (by Claudia Rankine) is mostly a laying-bare of the various
micro-aggressions the speaker (author?) has experienced, which includes a lot
of erasure.  It also talks about tennis more than I'd expected, about Serena
Williams's career, about her anger that stands out more against the whiteness
of her sport.  It also includes a lot of evocative art.

I guess I'm saying I'm reminded again how big of a problem race is in America,
how rotten the foundations are, but I'm still at a [loss as to what I can
do][loss].  I'm writing this as a hook for my [readlist] and as an admonition:
read this book.  It's important.

[gambino]: https://youtu.be/VYOjWnS4cMY
[coates]: https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/05/im-not-black-im-kanye/559763/
[Dirty Computer]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdH2Sy-BlNE
[loss]: https://www.acdw.net/poem/10146.html
[readlist]: https://www.acdw.net/read/index.html#readlist

A posts/book/2018-05-08-ancillary-justice.md => posts/book/2018-05-08-ancillary-justice.md +38 -0
@@ 0,0 1,38 @@
---
title: Ancillary Justice
subtitle: by Ann Leckie
tags: [sci fi, AI, politics]
series: the Imperial Radch trilogy
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/620/246/9780316246620.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780316246620"
---

It turns out I like political, grand-scale space operas.  I've written about
my reading of *[Children of Time]*, and I've always been a fan of *Dune*.  I
suppose you could even say that *Hitchhiker's Guide* is, in some ways, a space
opera, or a satire on the genre.  At any rate, they get me going.  The latest
book I've read of the ilk, that I really enjoyed in fact, is *Ancillary
Justice*, the debut novel by Ann Leckie.

[Children of Time]: https://www.acdw.net/read/10136.html

The universe Leckie has envisioned is the far future, during a moment of
upheaval in the Radchaai empire that controls nearly all of humanity.  The
narrator is an A.I., formerly a troop carrier for the empire, currently only
one ancillary soldier, the robot in human body.  The narrative flashes between
the events that led to the narrator's (called Breq in her human form)
diminished reach and her current push for revenge.  In an interview included
at the end of my library copy, Leckie mentions that having the narrator be a
ship is a great "hack" around the limitations of first-person narration, while
keeping the benefits of it.  She's absolutely right; reading *Ancillary
Justice* was the closest I think we can get to getting inside the head of a
ship.

The most interesting part of the novel was the giant intelligences of the
ships, as well as that of the supreme ruler of the Radchaai.  Each of them are
made up of thousands of bodies, seeing and hearing and doing everything at
once.  I wish we could've got more of that; maybe in the sequels (apparently
it'll be a trilogy) we will.

The rest of the storytelling was a mix of thriller and mystery, and I enjoyed
it a lot.  I highly recommend this book.

A posts/book/2018-05-17-dawn.md => posts/book/2018-05-17-dawn.md +46 -0
@@ 0,0 1,46 @@
---
title: Dawn
subtitle: by Octavia Butler
tags: [sci fi, alien, earth, humanity]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/775/603/9780446603775.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780446603775"
---

*Dawn* is the first novel of a trilogy by Octavia Butler, and before I
finished it I requested the next from the library.  This book is one
of the best I've read in a very long time.  It's about two species:
humanity on the brink of collapse after World War III, and their
saviors/captors the Oankali, aliens who traffic in genes.  The book
follows Lillith as she's Awoken from suspended animation, made to
learn from and teach the aliens, and to try and train a group of
humans to live on a refreshed Earth.

The book is incredible for a few reasons: first, it deals with a lot
of characters deftly, giving each of them real personalities and
wants.  There's an understanding of even the most selfish characters
that they're reacting to what's in many ways a terrifying, completely
alien situation.  The Oankali, apparently, have seen it all, and
they're utterly nonviolent to their "partners," almost to a fault.

The second wonderful thing about this book is how it deals with the
issue of consent.  The main theme throught the book is how much choice
the human characters have to participate in the aliens' crossbreeding
program.  On the one hand, they'd be dead if not for the Oankali; on
the other, by working with them, they're losing their humanity.  The
Oankali make sure to give the humans a choice, most of the time, but
even when a choice is presented it's between alternatives so uneven
that it makes no sense to choose against what the Oankali want.  I
read somewhere that the book is an allegory for slavery, which I
didn't get while reading it (probably because of my privelege as a
white person -- I don't have to live with the reality of the history
of enslavement), but it makes complete sense in retrospect.

The world-building of *Dawn* is amazing, too.  Butler unfolds the
world through Lillith's eyes, so we learn about the living ship, the
Oankali, the return to earth, as she does.  We're left in the dark on
some details as well, which I like because it's how real life works,
and it means that the descriptions never got pedantic like how an
Asimov or Clark novel can get sometimes.

I highly, highly recommend this book to anyone who's listening.  I'm
sorry I didn't discover Octavia Butler sooner.

A posts/book/2018-05-25-the-insides-by-jeremy-p-bushnell.md => posts/book/2018-05-25-the-insides-by-jeremy-p-bushnell.md +45 -0
@@ 0,0 1,45 @@
---
title: The Insides
subtitle: by Jeremy P. Bushnell
tags: [magic, not great, fantasy ]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/469/195/9781612195469.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781612195469"
---

This book was good, but it took me a while to read.  Something about it made
it hard for me to really get into in the way it feels people must mean when
they say a book is "fresh" or that it "had me on the edge of my seat" or one
of those other near-cliches that circulate around reviews nowadays (I don't
really read many reviews (maybe I should)).  I didn't get lost in it the way I
got lost in the [last][ancillary] [two books][butler] I read, which maybe says
more about the last two books I read than about this book, or more about my
tastes.  At any rate, I was satisfied on finishing *The Insides*, but not for
all of the right reasons.

First, let's talk about the good: Bushnell has done well with the language
here, the dialogue (easy in a kind of cinematic way, breezy, even) and the
narration (heavy on slang, but in a conversational instead of *Clockwork
Orange* way) do a lot of world-building work, which is fine since the world is
basically ours but with a patina of magic.  He also switches between the two
main characters, Ollie and Maja, deftly, juggling their very different
personalities and concerns with skill.  I also liked what I could get out of
his conception of magic as just finding, or making, importance in the world:
it's kind of a more explicit reading of a trend in magical writing that seems
to be going on more recently, kind of a "low fantasy" thing that's in vogue.

The problem is, magic doesn't get much more of a treatment than that --
there's no real magical battles or drama outside of this thing called the
Inside, which is described as the area behind the stage of the world, and one
creature that comes out of it.  Maja is able to magically track anything or
anyone at all, and to divine their histories by looking at them, but past the
first few chapters that ability is taken for granted, and its god-like power
becomes pedestrian, almost.  There's a bit about ancient magical weapons that
feels shoe-horned in at the end, even though it's the whole reason the book
goes forward; the real problem here is that the villain, or really anyone,
doesn't have a clearly-defined motivation behind their actions.  Magic is best
used to force a character's will on the world, but none of the characters in
this novel really use it for more than finding things, getting promotions, or
making people fall in love with them.  The patina of magic is simply too thin.

[ancillary]: https://www.acdw.net/read/10150.html
[butler]: https://www.acdw.net/read/10158.html

A posts/book/2018-05-30-fuzzy-by-tom-angleberger-and-paul-dellinger.md => posts/book/2018-05-30-fuzzy-by-tom-angleberger-and-paul-dellinger.md +37 -0
@@ 0,0 1,37 @@
---
title: Fuzzy
subtitle: by Tom Angleberger and Paul Dellinger
tags: [sci fi, youth, school, robots]
cover: "https://origamiyoda.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/fuzzycover-424x600.jpeg"
cover-link: "https://origamiyoda.com/the-books/"
---

I picked this book off of the bookmobile at work to read during my
down-time, and I finished it today, due partly to its middle-school target
demographic, but mostly to its breakneck pacing.  The story is about Max, a
student at Vanguard middle school in the near future.  She befriends a new
robot named Fuzzy for its (his) fuzzy programming capabilities: the robot
can reprogram itself.  His creators have him in a middle school to learn
how to think on his feet and react to social situations, and he ends up
doing much more of that than anyone had thought was possible.

The novel explores emergent A.I. as well, through the school's robotic vice
principal, Barbara, who seems to have a vendetta against Max as she
continuously gives her discipline tags and re-grades her tests to make her
appear worse off than she is.  I thought Barbara was the most interesting
character in the novel, since her emergent properties are slowly revealed
to the reader (spoiler alert, I suppose?).  Barbara was also the vector
through which the most biting social commentary came through: Angleberger
and Dellinger take hits at No Child Left Behind and the practice of
near-constant testing with great results.

The more global sub-plot was less developed, which is a shame.  There are
some complex geopolitical machinations going on in the world of *Fuzzy*,
which the teenagers reading this book probably wouldn't find interesting.
I wish there were another novel set in this world for adults, that could
delve into SunTzuCo's (great name, by the way) dealings on Mars and what
they found there, as well as the wider social fabric in America that's only
hinted at in this novel.  In a world where nearly everything is automated,
there's bound to be interesting frictions.  However, this book focuses on
the school, Max, and her friends, which made for a fun read at ground-level
about a near-future possibility.

A posts/book/2018-06-01-ghostopolis.md => posts/book/2018-06-01-ghostopolis.md +37 -0
@@ 0,0 1,37 @@
---
title: Ghostopolis
subtitle: by Doug TenNapel
tags: [comic, youth, death]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/287/210/9780545210287.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780545210287"
---

Here's another teen book I picked up on cover alone and read in a couple
of hours at work (don't tell my managers or they might give me something
to do!).  It's by Doug TenNapel, who I thought I'd never heard of before
but turns out is also the creator of *Earthworm Jim*, that vaguely
unsettling but genius cartoon of my youth!  This comic book, about a
terminally-ill boy being accidentally sent to the Underworld and unlocking
his True Potential(R), is equally funny, slightly disturbing, and poignant
in its exploration of death, love, and family.

Honestly, I thought the book could've been much longer -- it's even a rich
enough world that if I were an executive at Nickolodeon or Cartoon
Network, I'd want to option it for a series a la *Gravity Falls* or *Over
the Garden Wall*.  Many of the plot elements that are only sketched here
-- the main character Garth's terminal disease, for example, or the
Supernatural Immigration Task Force agent's relationship with Claire
Voyant, or the Task Force's history itself -- could stand to be greatly
expanded, and I think the author's thought them through enough that they'd
make great additions to the story.  The politics of the Underworld are
complex, as well: it seems like the kind of place where all dead from all
time go, so dinosaurs and mummies coexist with people who aren't even
technically *alive* yet, in the linear timeline of the mortal world.
Also, the mortal characters have ghost-like powers in the Underworld (it
turns out that it's different physics in the Under- and Overworlds that
enable ghosts to fly and walk through walls), and I think that'd be great
to further explore.

I guess what I'm saying is that this book is great, I really enjoyed it,
but I would've loved to have been reading it for much longer.  Maybe I'll
write Mr. TenNapel and see if anything is in the works for this story!

A posts/book/2018-08-31-killing-it.md => posts/book/2018-08-31-killing-it.md +79 -0
@@ 0,0 1,79 @@
---
title: Killing It
subtitle: by Camas Davis
date: 2018-08-31
tags: [meat, vegan, butchery]
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/071/980/9781101980071.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781101980071"
---

I first heard about *Killing It*, and about Camas Davis and the Portland Meat
Collective, through an interview on *Fresh Air* while driving home from a
practice.  Though I'm vegan (I feel it necessary to state this up front, sort
of as a disclaimer: *Here is the lens I am looking through*, I'm trying to
say), I was struck by Davis's candor about what she does, and the reverence
she holds for the animals she kills, butchers, and eats.  Her book, a memoir
of her journey from losing her job as a magazine editor, through learning
whole-animal farming and butchery in Gascony, France, to starting and running
the Portland Meat Collective, glows with the same luminous honesty, an
honesty that refuses to turn away from the uncomfortable truths of eating
meat.

Davis begins with a description of the first time she saw a pig being
slaughtered, at the Chapolards' farm in Gascony.  The Chapolards are one of a
few "seed-to-sausage" farms that grow their own hogs, grow the feed for those
hogs, and have a stake in every step of the process of turning those hogs into
food.  Davis's descriptions of her time there evoke the beautiful country of
Gascony in summer, with golden afternoons, delicious, simple food, and a lot
of hard work.  A main concern of the book is whether she is romanticizing what
raising and killing an animal for food takes, both in body and spirit; she
repeatedly stresses how important reverence for the animal's life is to even
be able to eat any of it, a viewpoint I found refreshing.

The weeks in Gascony and the months afterward, finding the people who would
help found the Portland Meat Collective, were also a time of intense personal
change for Camas Davis, and she attempts to interweave those changes with the
story of figuring out what ethical meat means to her, to mixed effect.  As I
was reading, I repeatedly thought, "I love this book, but I'm not sure I like
*her*."  She involves herself in a love triangle, judges other women who
aren't in France for what she thinks are the right reasons, and while she
isn't sure she deserves all the press she receives once she's back in the
States, she accepts it anyway.  Of course, I'd think that as I was reading a
particular section, but after I put the book away and thought about it some
more, I realized that this is a memoir.  Memoirs are written by people who've
been through intense personal change, and reflect who they were at the time.
And maybe Camas Davis wasn't the best person she could be at that time, but
now I'm writing this review, I respect her for being transparent about who she
was, and brave enough to let us -- strangers -- into that complicated time of
her life.  And I can see how, for her, her personal life and her work life
were inextricable from each other.

In fact, a main theme of the book (and her philosophy on what she does) is
transparency.  There's a TEDx talk she gives (the book made me want to
research further, follow her footsteps so I could see with my eyes what she
made me see in my head) where she compares it to those paper fortune tellers
we made in middle school, and how what she tries to do, with her classes and
her advocacy, is to unfold those fortune tellers so we can see all of the
process of meat at once, from growing the feed to boiling the head.  I think
she included the personal parts of her story in *Killing It* to enact that
philosophy of transparency in her writing, and I do admire her bravery.  She
got a lot of flack from vegans, vegetarians, and even meat-eaters for her
transparency in butchery, and I wonder how the people featured in her book
feel about the parts they played in her life.

After reading this book, I'm not going to start eating meat again.  I was
fascinated by the descriptions of how to "open a pig like a book," or
separating the loin from the ribcage, or scooping the brain out of the skull.
Intellectually, I would love to attend one of the classes offered by the
Portland Meat Collective or a sister collective around the country.  People
like Camas Davis and the farms and butchers she works with are eating meat in
the most ethical way possible.  But for me, eating meat is about more than the
treatment of the animal in its life and death.  What I kept reminding myself
of as I was reading this book, and becoming interested in the methods within,
was that animals are intelligent creatures, with their own rich inner lives
that, while alien to our own, are worth no less.  Regardless of how well
they're treated, they do not deserve to die to fill our bellies, at least in a
bountiful country like America, where alternatives abound.  However, since I
know we're not going to stop eating meat anytime soon, I hope Camas Davis's
methods and ethos begin to gain steam.  If I did eat meat, I'd only want to
eat meat done her way.

A posts/book/2018-12-15-handmaids-tale.md => posts/book/2018-12-15-handmaids-tale.md +92 -0
@@ 0,0 1,92 @@
---
title: The Handmaid's Tale
subtitle: by Margaret Atwood
tags:
- sci-fi
- atwood
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/943/879/9781328879943.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781328879943"
---

::: note
I want to open this review with an admission that I saw the Hulu show first.
The show has a number of departures from Atwood's novel,
most important being the change of scope
from what, in the novel, is a very close telling
that ends up within a frame of academic remembrance,
to the show's more immediate,
more dramatic telling of the story in a world that is much closer to our own.
Since I came from the world as described in the show,
I read the book with certain prejudices
that I would not have had if I were to read the story fresh.
I don't know what they are,
but they exist,
I'm sure.
:::

Margaret Atwood's *The Handmaid's Tale* is a story that takes place,
from 2018, in the slight past.
It's not completely clear what the year is,
but I believe it is around the turn of the millennium,
given the way the Eighties are talked about.
I was surprised at the timing of the story,
but then I realized the book was written in 1985,
so Atwood was clearly concerned immediately
about the trends she was seeing in society at that time.
I wasn't around then,
so I have no knowledge of what it was like.
This isn't how I wanted to begin my review of her book.

I'm not sure how I want to begin.
There's a large part of me that feels inadequate to pass judgment on the *Tale*,
since I'm a man,
and I see the *Tale* to be a sort of testimony
to the very real fears of a woman as to her place in a society
that constantly treats her as *lesser than* someone like me.
I feel that it is a man's place,
it is my place,
in these situations to listen
and to come to an empathetic understanding of the fears thus laid out
in order to help eradicate their reasons.
I suppose I can begin there, then,
and state that I resonated with the emotional core of the novel
as the testimony of Offred during her time as a handmaid in Gilead.
I call it a testimony because of the second great stroke of this novel:
the coda that frames the preceding text as a transcription of an artifact
found in Bangor, Maine,
a hundred and fifty years after the events of the novel.
Giving us that distance,
from the point of view of a world that's moved on from Gilead,
lends hope to an otherwise hopeless story:
although Offred's own future,
and those of the women who suffered alongside her,
the world did eventually move on from the religious extremism of Gilead.
It offers a relief from the almost claustrophobic circumstances of Offred,
which I appreciated,
especially after watching two seasons of the show
where that claustrophobia is a major thematic element.

The world was, of course,
richer in the novel,
as it usually is in the source material from the adaptations.
You have more room in a book, after all.
I liked how fleshed out the world-at-large seemed to be,
how much thought had been put into where the rebellions would be,
the geopolitical landscape that would allow Gilead to exist at all,
and the machinations of the government
to raise money and keep the population in check.
There was also a continual double-vision surrounding the city,
since Offred lived there,
in the time before,
that reflected the double nature of a fundamentalist government like Gilead's.
I liked it, overall,
though it took me a long time to read.
The dreaminess,
the lyrical nature of the prose
paced the book slowly,
making it hard for me to sustain attention.
But it was exactly,
I think,
what Atwood was going for.
It's exactly what transcribed audio would sound like from someone
who's just escaped such an abusive society.

A posts/book/2019-01-12-buddha-vol-1-kapilavastu.md => posts/book/2019-01-12-buddha-vol-1-kapilavastu.md +63 -0
@@ 0,0 1,63 @@
---
title: "Buddha: vol. 1, Kapilavastu"
subtitle: by Osamu Tezuka
date: 2019-01-12
tags: manga, buddhism,
# vim: ft=pandoc
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/565/234/9781932234565.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781932234565"
---

Osamu Tezuka is best known as the writer of the universally acclaimed
(though I've never gotten around to reading it)
*Astro Boy*,
but I've seen *Buddha* on the comics shelf at the library for years
and just decided the other day to get into it.
It's the story of the Buddha,
Siddhartha Gautama,
and his journey to enlightenment.
At least,
as far as I know:
I've come to the story knowing very little about the Buddha except that
he's the founder of Buddhism,
he grew up a prince,
and he's *not* the fat smiling guy.
And he only appears in the first volume, *Kapilavastu*,
toward the very end,
when he's born.
None of this is to say that it's a bad book
or that I was disappointed in any way.
Quite the contrary:
I greatly enjoyed reading the story
about Chapra, the slave boy, his mother,
the monk Naradatta, on a holy mission,
and the pariah Tatta,
and their adventures through India as their fortunes change.
In fact,
I'm not sure how their stories will intertwine with Siddhartha's,
but I'm excited to find out how they do in later volumes.

I've read one story by Tezuka before:
*Ode to Kirihito*,
which is a story about a doctor who goes to investigate a rare disease
that makes people look like dogs,
but gets infected with the disease in a complex political conspiracy.
It was a strange but gripping story,
and *Buddha* looks like it's going to be similar.
The art style in both books is humorous and beautiful:
some pages in *Buddha* have so much detail it's like looking at a work of art,
and there are some site-gags too,
like the author inserting himself in a cameo
and some fourth-wall-breaking commentary.
Maybe it's the language difference,
but I thought some of the jokes fell flat.
However, they didn't detract from the rest of the book.
Much has been made, as well,
of Tezuka's cinematic style of paneling,
and I agree.
Some fight sequences read as though they're moving in real time,
like a movie.

Overall,
I'm pleased with the first volume of *Buddha*
and looking forward to reading the next seven.

A posts/book/2019-01-31-children-of-blood-and-bone.md => posts/book/2019-01-31-children-of-blood-and-bone.md +15 -0
@@ 0,0 1,15 @@
---
title: Children of Blood and Bone
subtitle: by Tomi Adeyemi
tags: fantasy, epic, colorism
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/972/170/9781250170972.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781250170972"
---

I've heard *Children of Blood and Bone*, the debut novel from Nigerian-American author Tomi Adeyemi, described as the "Black *Harry Potter*."  I presume it's because both books feature magic and teenagers, but I think the comparison stops there.  *Harry Potter* takes place in a world where magic, though hidden from muggles, is celebrated and loved for its usefulness. In *Children of Blood and Bone*, however, magic has caused so much fear in non-magical people (called *kosidán*) that, when magic mysteriously died, the kosidán King used the opportunity to systematically kill every *maji* in the kingdom of Orïsha.  The beginning conditions of the novel are much more bleak, and these bleak conditions allow the novel to explore much more nuanced societal pressures than an epic battle between good and evil.

*Children of Blood and Bone* is a deeply imagined book, with a fully-built world, which means it requires a lot of world-building in the first chapter.  As such, the book takes a little while to get going, but once Zélie, a would-be maji or *divîner*, meets Princess Amari on the run from the palace, the story picks up speed.  Amari has found an ancient relic that awakens Zélie's powers, and they embark on a quest with Tzain, Zélie's brother, to restore magic to the entire kingdom.  Hot in pursuit is Amari's brother, Prince Inan, who has fully drunk his father's *magic-is-evil* Kool-Aid.  However, a complication arises when Inan and Zélie experience a magical connection, which leads to what I thought was a Prince Zuko[^zuko]-esque redemption arc for Inan.

Along the way, Adeyemi's novel tackles some heavy themes, such as colorism, genocide, child abuse, torture, and self-hatred of the oppressed.  Being a book for children, it would be easy to gloss over such topics to keep the appearance of "family-friendliness," but I'm impressed that Adeyemi refused to shy away from the lived experiences of her characters, including all their pain, old and new, on the page.  She also manages to address systematic injustice in an accessible way, exploring the issue of the maji from all angles, so that we can see how genocide can arise from seemingly familial trauma: King Saran's final decision to kill all the maji and systematically un-people the divîners arose when his entire family was killed by maji, I'm assuming in a political power grab.  The blood between maji and kosidán has been bad for a long time in Orïsha, which makes the book's resolution even more compelling.

I didn't know before reading *Children of Blood and Bone* that it was the first of a forthcoming trilogy from Adeyemi.  With the world-turning ending of the first installment, I cannot wait to read the rest of the series.  The ending of the novel was satisfying on its own, but it will feed into more problems that I'm excited to see play out.

A posts/book/2019-02-13-the-marrow-thieves.md => posts/book/2019-02-13-the-marrow-thieves.md +57 -0
@@ 0,0 1,57 @@
---
title: The Marrow Thieves
subtitle: by Cherie Dimaline
tags: sci fi, post apocalyptic, colonialism
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/863/864/9781770864863.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781770864863"
---

I forget where I heard about *The Marrow Thieves*, which is a shame because
I'd like to know what else this person recommends.  Cherie Dimaline's novel,
set in the late 20th Century after the world has been destroyed by global
warming, follows French, a Canadian Indigenous boy, as he runs from
"Recruiters," white people who harvest Indigenous people for their marrow.
You see, only the Indigenous can dream any more, in a world utterly without
hope, and the key to their dreams is in their marrow.  It's a high concept,
and I would've appreciated a bit more world-building on that detail, but it
ends up being a conceit to put pressure on the main character and his family
as they run.

In the very beginning of the book, French is with his brother Mitch, who is
"recruited" to serve in what is a sci-fi re-imagining of the infamous Canadian
Indigenous schools.  What I know about the historical schools is limited to
the information in a children's book I read, but they were basically centers
of erasure: they erased the Indigenous' culture, their language, and
metaphorically, their dreams.  The Canadian government has since apologized
for ever using them, but Dimaline's novel takes the cynical view that when
life gets hard, the people in power are quick to forget their humanity.

French is found by a group led by Miigwans, the patriarch of a "family" of
displaced Indigenous people.  The rest of the novel follows them as they run
North, trying to get away from the cities and the South where crime, ruin, and
despair abound.  The book is not particularly hopeful in the short term; it
never shies away from how hard the main characters' lives will be.  However,
they take the long view, knowing that their people have survived through more,
and will continue to survive.

The real gem of the novel, to me, was the relationships of the characters.  So
often, Indigenous people are portrayed as stereotypes in fiction, or at least
as some Others that aren't truly knowable to the main characters.  *The Marrow
Thieves* turns that trope on its head: all of the characters are Indigenous,
and they're all fully realized human beings with their own complicated
relationships to one another (of course they are!).  I feel strange writing
this out, because it's obvious that everyone is people once you say it, but
the fact is that books featuring Indigenous main characters are not really in
the mainstream, and that enables their further marginalization.

*The Marrow Thieves* is a really well-written book with great characters who
_happen_ to be Indigenous, though now that I write that I realize it's not
right either.  These characters are deeply tied to who they are, to their
senses of self and community, and to the traditions they've lost.  French
talks about hoarding up the small snatches of "the Language" Miigwans and the
other elder, Minerva, speak to the group.  Their main issue isn't that the
world is ending, but rather that they are being routinely hunted and bled like
animals by white people, because of who they are.  These characters don't just
_happen_ to be Indigenous, and to say so is to risk colorblindness.  They are
completely themselves, and the novel forces the reader to recognize that.
That's the true power of Dimaline's novel.  I hope to read more like it soon.

A posts/book/2019-03-21-cain.md => posts/book/2019-03-21-cain.md +63 -0
@@ 0,0 1,63 @@
---
title: Cain
subtitle: by José Saramago
# vim: ft=pandoc
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/178/840/9780547840178.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780547840178"
---

I'm a fan of stories told from a side character's perspective.[^parallel]
These stories include
[_Goliath_](https://www.acdw.net/09921/goliath/),
[_Grendel_](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grendel_(novel)),
[_Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are
dead_](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosencrantz_and_Guildenstern_Are_Dead),
[_Barrabas_](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barabbas_(novel)),
[_Foe_](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foe_(novel)),
and others
(I didn't enjoy
[_Wicked_](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_(Maguire_novel)#Adaptations),
but it wasn't for the foundation but
the author's inability to tell an interesting story).
The most recent of these that I've read
is _Cain_ by José Saramago.
In it, Abel's murderous brother is taken on a tour
through much of god's greater Old Testament mistakes,
from the Tower of Babel through to the Great Flood.
In _Cain_, god isn't the Christian-imagined,
all-loving Father of the human race,
but more of a middle-manager type,
making everything up, literally, as he goes along.
As for cain[^1],
while he is selfish and self-serving,
and while he did kill his brother
(as well as a few others by the end of the novel),
he's portrayed in a largely sympathetic light,
a simple man who's been screwed over by god at every turn
and is righteously angry at him.
With these two main characters and the device of time travel,
Saramago weaves an excellent,
bitingly funny satire of Christian religion
by pointing out the obvious inconsistencies in its conception
of the deity.

[^parallel]: I just found out these are called *parallel novels*, and that
    there is a [list of them on
    Wikipedia](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Parallel_literature)!
    Looks like I have a new reading list.

[^1]: Saramago dispenses with capital letters for names in his novel,
    and so shall I here.

# Selected quotes

> Crying over spilt milk is not as pointless as people say, it is in a way
> instructive because it shows the true scale of the frivolity of certain
> human behavior ...

> Yes, your god perhaps, but not theirs.

> Cain is the man who hates god.

> I am endowed ... with a conscience so flexible that it agrees with whatever
> I do. [god]{.cite .inline}

A posts/book/2019-03-26-mental-load.md => posts/book/2019-03-26-mental-load.md +59 -0
@@ 0,0 1,59 @@
---
title: The mental load
subtitle: by Emma
tags: feminism, comic
# vim: ft=pandoc.markdown
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/188/809/9781609809188.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781609809188"
---

I think I first read the comic ["You should've asked"][comic] some time ago,
I'm not sure exactly when.
At some point recently,
I found out that the author, "[Emma],"
has a new book out titled *The mental load* after a phrase in the above comic,
and I knew I had to read it.
So I grabbed it from the library and read the whole thing.

[comic]: <https://english.emmaclit.com/2017/05/20/you-shouldve-asked/>
    ""
[Emma]: <https://english.emmaclit.com/>
  "The site's available in both French and English."

The rest of the comics in *The mental load* deal with social justice issues,
and run the gamut from women's issues
such as the male gaze, being "shrill," and sexual health,
to race-based problems like racism in policing and the French burqa ban.
She does a really good job of accessibly explaining her points,
and taking the reader along as she traces her own journey of "waking up,"
as she calls it,
to the inequities inherent in modern society.

One story in particular is an allegory to the burqa ban in France
that imagines a different future:
Europeans have migrated en masse South,
to a country where no one wears a shirt at all.
The main character of the story has a mother who does where her shirt,
and she does as well,
as part of her identity;
she's shunned and discriminated against because of a simple wardrobe choice.
By reframing the burqa debate in an easier-to-relate way
for Western audiences,
Emma is able to show how a burqa ban really makes no sense
and is, in fact, a form of oppression of a minority group.

The comics on motherhood were also eye-opening for me,
though the little breakdown she does showing how bad French parental leave is
made me cry a little on the inside:
at least the French have *any* parental leave!
We really have it bad in the U.S.
I don't have any children right now but when I do,
I'm going to make sure not to fall into those gendered patterns
of letting R take care of everything.

Emma's art is simplistic and spare,
and lets the words do most of the work.
I think the format works a little better for a website than a printed book,
but I'm glad she's able to get the notoriety (and money)
that a book brings over a blog.
I highly recommend going and reading her blog, at least.

A posts/book/2019-04-10-seven-types-of-atheism.md => posts/book/2019-04-10-seven-types-of-atheism.md +58 -0
@@ 0,0 1,58 @@
---
title: Seven types of atheism
subtitle: by John Gray
tags: nonfiction, atheism
cover: "https://images.booksense.com/images/092/261/9780374261092.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780374261092"
---

For about the first third of *Seven Types of Atheism*
I was ambivalent about it.
I wasn't sure if I liked the content,
which is a survey of "post-Christian thought,"
as one reviewer put it,
from present day on back to a few hundred years after Christ,
or the tone, which especially for the newer,
in-vogue Dawkins school of atheism,
what Gray calls "evangelical atheism,"
tends toward the dismissive.
Which I understand why -- those guys are dinguses[^1].
I wrote more about my thoughts on the first few chapters
in an [earlier blog post][early].

[^1]: dingi?
[early]: https://www.acdw.net/10470/science-as-a-god/

However, I found it hard to put the book down.
By the end of the book, I realized that John Gray does a good job
of delineating the different currents of thought in atheism,
and how much of those currents are a direct result of their origin
in Christian and Platonist thought.
He made me realize I'd been believing in a myth of human progress,
I'd been placing humankind on a pedestal as a replacement for God,
I'd been thinking that science has all the answers, or if not all,
most of them.
In short, he made me realize that much of what we think,
even in not believing in god,
comes from a monotheistic, especially Christian, viewpoint.

Not that he gives any solutions to the matter.
I think that would actually be against his main thesis,
because by offering a solution he'd be subscribing to the idea
that history is a march toward a perfect world.
I'm not sure what to do with this.
I'm used to finding problems and then solutions,
to at least talking about what should be done even if
I lack the power or the will to make it happen.
The thing with humanity, though,
is that we're essentially the same as we've been for 10,000 generations
and we're not going to change in any meaningful way for a while longer.
The problems we have now are going to stay problems.
Maybe we'll move toward a more equal world for a while,
or a "better" one (whatever that means),
but there's no guarantee that it's going to stay that way.

I think that I've come away from this book agreeing with Shestov,
at least in this: "History is one thing, and meaning another."
I don't know what to do with this.
I guess I need to make my peace with it.

A posts/book/2019-04-25-ancillary-sword.md => posts/book/2019-04-25-ancillary-sword.md +62 -0
@@ 0,0 1,62 @@
---
title: Ancillary Sword
subtitle: by Ann Leckie
tags: scifi, space opera, sequel
cover: "https://www.annleckie.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Leckie_AncillarySword_TP.jpg"
cover-link: "https://www.annleckie.com/novel/ancillary-sword/"
series: the Imperial Radch trilogy
---

It's been quite a while since I read _[Ancillary Justice]_,
Ann Leckie's first novel in what turned out the be a trilogy.
So I began _Ancillary Sword_ with a little confusion.
It starts off assuming the reader has a working knowledge of the world,
as most sequels do,
and I had read _Justice_ so quickly that it took some prodding
(and some reading of synopses)
to remember how we had got to the beginning of _Sword_.
Which is not at all to the book's deficit, of course:
in fact, it starts only a few hours after the previous ends,
which I really enjoy in sequels.

[Ancillary Justice]: /10149/ancillary-justice/

However, after getting over the initial bumps of remembering,
the story seemed to me to be more of a bridge
between the first and third novels than as a story in its own right.
There's plenty of set up
for multiple huge conflicts to play out in the next instalment,
but the story in this novel seems pat by comparison.

Breq Mianaai is sent on a mission to the far-flung Athoek system,
which grows most of the tea for the entire Radch.
Once there, Breq finds a lot of injustice at the hands of those in power
against the residents of the Undergarden,
decks of the main Station that are in disrepair,
as well as against the fieldworkers on the planet,
and I appreciated Leckie's treatment of the subject of justice
after a colonization as both nuanced and unafraid.
But Breq herself feels almost like a Mary Jane character
in that she's able to know every other character's thoughts and feelings
and is hardly ever wrong.
The middle of the book was a little bit of a slog
as she went downwell[^downwell] to look into a situation
with the daughter of a local beourgeois
while in mourning for the alien Presger translator
(whose death went unavenged in this novel,
which I can only assume means it'll come to a head next novel)
and got lost in local politics.

[^downwell]: I really like this term in its colloquialness referring to the
    gravity well of a planet; it's little things like this that really make a
    world *real*.

I think I understand what Leckie's driving at here:
*all* politics are important,
and *all* politics are local,
but I was really hoping for more of the large-scale intrigue
that I remember from _Ancillary Justice_.
This book was smaller in scope, which I was not prepared for.
I'm hopeful for a lot of action and galaxy-spanning conflict for the third,
however, and I think Leckie will deliver.
She's a strong writer with great ideas.

A posts/drawing/2018-05-31-splenda.md => posts/drawing/2018-05-31-splenda.md +6 -0
@@ 0,0 1,6 @@
---
title: splenda
tags: []
---

![A comic](/images/splenda.png "Hot take: Splenda is trash.")

A posts/drawing/2018-06-02-xcv-1.md => posts/drawing/2018-06-02-xcv-1.md +7 -0
@@ 0,0 1,7 @@
---
title: XCV 1
tags: [comic, questions]
series: xcv
---

![XCV1](/images/xcv1.png "That pause though")

A posts/drawing/2018-06-16-xcv-2.md => posts/drawing/2018-06-16-xcv-2.md +7 -0
@@ 0,0 1,7 @@
---
title: XCV 2
tags: [sunsets]
series: xcv
---

![XCV2](/images/xcv2.png "Does a sunset appreciate being looked at?  I just hope it's not offended or creeped out.")

A posts/drawing/2018-07-01-xcv-3.md => posts/drawing/2018-07-01-xcv-3.md +7 -0
@@ 0,0 1,7 @@
---
title: XCV 3
tags: [sides]
series: xcv
---

![XCV3](/images/xcv3.png "There are only two kinds of people.")

A posts/drawing/2018-07-15-xcv-4.md => posts/drawing/2018-07-15-xcv-4.md +7 -0
@@ 0,0 1,7 @@
---
title: XCV 4
tags: [bus, template]
series: xcv
---

![XCV4](/images/xcv4.png "They're either standing in the rain or a fabulous bus-themed discotheque.")

A posts/drawing/2018-07-20-xcv-4a.md => posts/drawing/2018-07-20-xcv-4a.md +7 -0
@@ 0,0 1,7 @@
---
title: XCV 4a
tags: [bus, rain]
series: xcv
---

![XCV4a](/images/xcv4a.png "Nostalgia is the _________ of weak minds: My Submission to the Cards Against Humanity People.")

A posts/drawing/2018-08-01-xcv-5.md => posts/drawing/2018-08-01-xcv-5.md +7 -0
@@ 0,0 1,7 @@
---
title: XCV 5
tags: [eating]
series: xcv
---

![XCV5](/images/xcv5.png "You can't argue with that logic.")

A posts/drawing/2018-08-16-xcv-6.md => posts/drawing/2018-08-16-xcv-6.md +7 -0
@@ 0,0 1,7 @@
---
title: XCV 6
tags: [floating]
series: xcv
---

![XCV6](/images/xcv6.png "For a second I thought I'd switched characters there, but I didn't.")

A posts/drawing/2018-09-01-xcv-7.md => posts/drawing/2018-09-01-xcv-7.md +7 -0
@@ 0,0 1,7 @@
---
title: XCV 7
tags: [billboard, magritte]
series: xcv
---

![XCV7](/images/xcv7.png "Twist.")

A posts/essay/2017-07-03-a-proper-hello.md => posts/essay/2017-07-03-a-proper-hello.md +49 -0
@@ 0,0 1,49 @@
---
title: A Proper Hello
tags: [metablog, review]
---

# First things first (or fourth, or ...)

This is probably the fifth or sixth time I've tried starting some sort of
blog. When my first girlfriend broke up with me, I word-puked all over some
startup's Dropbox-linked minimal thing, but once that was done, it was done
(and I'm not even sure if the host would still be there even if I remembered
what it was). I put my [Master's thesis online],[^1] sort of like a blog, if
you're willing to call something that is totally not a blog a blog (hey, I'm
trying to self-promote here, though really I think the biggest thing that
keeps me from writing is the constant editor in my head whispering *readers,
readers* so that I can't do anything but think of that other person, the
possible future reader, and what they'll think of me). At some point last year
I tried (on this [Github repo] even!) to do some kind of "Failure blog"
inspired by Baton Rouge's first annual [Failure Fest], but eventually I burnt
out on that too (shocking).

But I'm really going to try this time. I've decided I'm done with thinking
about a reader, or posturing like I don't care, or whatever it is I've been
doing that means I'm not writing. That's what I want to do; it's what I'll do.
I'm also going to edit my own writing.

So there you have it: first of all, this blog is a practice for my writing and
an outlet for talking about the stuff I read or watch or listen to or
experience.

# My name is Case

I'm a writer by training and a reader by trade. I get to read books to small
children for a living, which is as fulfilling as I thought it'd be. Honestly
the hardest part is figuring out which books are best for a big group: just
today I tried *I'm My Own Dog* by [David Ezra Stein] and it did not work. The
humor was lost on a big group of twenty, and kids to boot.

Anyway, I've been journaling for a bit and now wanted to take it to *the next
level*, which in 2017 is online. So here I am. Online.

[^1]: I'm linking to the Github repo instead of a generated page because I'm
    still trying to get these published. -- Note: LOL of course I'm not,
    anymore at least! Here's the link: <https://autocento.acdw.net>

  [Master's thesis online]: https://github.com/duckwork/autocento
  [Github repo]: https://github.com/duckwork/duckwork.github.io
  [Failure Fest]: https://www.businessreport.com/article/failure-celebr-at-brew-event
  [David Ezra Stein]: http://davidezrastein.com

A posts/essay/2017-10-09-update-a-nearlyfreespeech-net-website-with-git.md => posts/essay/2017-10-09-update-a-nearlyfreespeech-net-website-with-git.md +81 -0
@@ 0,0 1,81 @@
---
title: Update a nearlyfreespeech.net website with Git
tags: [metablog, git, nearlyfreespeech]
---

::: note
This article is basically cribbed from a *Nerdess* ([archive.org link])
article about the same topic. I used this method when first beginning my
blog, though I'm now thinking about changing to rsync or something similar.
Either way, this is here for posterity's sake, for what it's worth.
:::

# On your computer

This is basic git setup-type stuff. If it doesn't make sense, you'll need to
look at a git tutorial, because this isn't one.

1.  Download and install [git], if you haven't, and create a new repository in
    a folder for your site:

         git init

2.  Write your site however you write it, then add and commit everything to
    git:

         git add *
         git commit -m "First commit"

# On the server

I use [Nearly Free Speech] for my server, but this should work with pretty
much any server with SSH access.

3.  Connect to your server with SSH, navigate to your public directory (with
    NFSN it's /home/public), and run the following:

         mkdir .git
         cd .git
         git init --bare

4.  Now that the server repository has been made, you need to make sure that
    files pushed to the repository are published to the public folder. We'll
    do that with a post-receive hook:

         vim hooks/post-receive

5.  A *hook* in git is just a shell script that runs on certain events, in
    this case, after git receives files from a push. The most trivial
    post-receive hook that'll work is this:

         GIT_WORK_TREE=/home/public git checkout -f

    Since beginning this blog, however, I've made my script a little more
    complicated. The above file worked just fine though, especially if you
    have a lot of static files you want to serve.

6.  Make sure the post-receive hook has the right permissions:

         chmod +x hooks/post-receive

# Back on your computer

7.  This step need to be done back "home," as it were -- you just need to add
    your newly-created remote to git:

         git remote add <name> ssh://<user>@<host>/home/public/.git

Obviously, replace `<user>` with your username on the server, and `<host>`
with the hostname, and don't forget to give your remote a good name -- I used
"nfsn" but you could use "web," "website," or "fart," it doesn't matter to me.

8.  The last thing you need to do is commit your changes to your website:

         git push -u <name> master

And everything should be where it needs to be. Good job! You've used git to
update a website, you hacker you.

  [archive.org link]: https://web.archive.org/web/20160316095149/http://www.nerdess.net/blog/nerdy/git-by-example-how-to-update-your-website-on-nearlyfreespeech-net-via-git/
  [git]: https://git-scm.org
  [Nearly Free Speech]: https://www.nearlyfreespeech.net

A posts/essay/2018-02-10-not-quite-ready-for-primetime-but-i-m-getting-close.md => posts/essay/2018-02-10-not-quite-ready-for-primetime-but-i-m-getting-close.md +156 -0
@@ 0,0 1,156 @@
---
title: Not quite ready for primetime (but I'm getting close!)
tags: [metablog, nearlyfreespeech, git, generated]
---

Today I'm working a lot on this website, so I thought I'd write a little blog
post detailing what I'm trying to do and how it sort of works. I build this
site using `pandoc` with a lot of lua filters and an index.py to stitch it all
together. You can check out the actual code at the [mirror] I've set up at
Gitlab.

# Organization

This site is organized simply: everything *I* write is dumped in `/text`, and
the extension determines what folder it goes in at the root. For example, I'm
doing this thing where I'm writing a poem everyday, so those go under
[`poem`]. This blog post and others will go under [`blog`]. When I build the
site, I just `make` and it uses `pandoc` to build everything (doing stuff for
me like slugifying headers, converting `LineBlocks` to verse blocks, or
automatically generating links across categories to stuff written on the same
day). Then, `index.py` is called to make little indexes and finally make the
index for the site. It's not 100% perfect (especially the site thing), but
it's good enough for now---and I can always fix it later.

You can read more about this stuff (eventually, when I get around to writing
it) at the [Colophon].

# Shuffling

The biggest thing I'm doing *today* is working on my little shuffle-script to
take texts and shuffle them around. I've already done that once, with "[The
Snubs]", though that was with a thrown-together version of the script I'm
including below. Today, I used an [article] I read yesterday in the *Oxford
American* about the phenomenon of blues music in Tokyo and shuffled it around
to generate something resembling a poem, which I then massaged into something
that honestly, isn't great. But it's something!

Here's the script (I'm copying it here since it's not currently under source
control), `shuflr`:

``` {.python .numberSource}
import argparse
import os.path
import random
import re


class Shuflr():
    def __init__(self, textfile, dedup=False):
        self.words = None
        self.dedup = dedup
        with open(textfile) as f:
            self.all = f.read()

    def remove_punc(self):
        # Convert dashes to spaces
        nopunc = re.sub(r'--+|\s+-+\s+|[–—]', ' ', self.all)
        # Convert curly apostrophes to normal
        nopunc = re.sub(r'[‘’]', "'", nopunc)
        # Remove everything else
        nopunc = re.sub(r'[^ \t\n\r\f\v\w\'-]', '', nopunc)
        self.all = nopunc

    def splitwords(self):
        self.words = self.all.split()
        if self.dedup:
            self.words = list(set(self.words))

    def shuffle(self, cleanup=True, normalize_case=False):
        shuf = []

        if cleanup:
            self.remove_punc()

        if normalize_case:
            self.all = self.all.lower()

        if not self.words:
            self.splitwords()

        while len(self.words) > 0:
            i = random.randint(0, len(self.words) - 1)
            w = self.words.pop(i)
            shuf.append(w)

        self.words = shuf

    def versify(self, minLength, maxLength, chance):
        lines = []
        count = 0
        if maxLength <= minLength:
            ml = maxLength
            maxLength = minLength
            minLength = ml

        if not self.words:
            self.splitwords()

        for w in self.words:
            lines.append(w)
            if count < minLength:
                count += 1
            elif count > maxLength:
                lines.append('\n')
                count = 0
            elif random.randint(0, 100) >= chance:
                lines.append('\n')
                count = 0
            else:
                count += 1

        self.words = lines


def write_to_template(words, outfile):
    fi = 1
    fixname = outfile
    while os.path.isfile(fixname):
        fi += 1
        fixname = outfile + str(fi)
    with open(fixname, 'w') as f:
        f.write(' '.join(words) + '\n')


if __name__ == '__main__':
    parser = argparse.ArgumentParser()
    parser.add_argument("infile", type=str,
                        help="File to shuffle")
    parser.add_argument("-p", "--keeppunc", action="store_true",
                        help="Keep punctuation?")
    parser.add_argument("-l", "--lowercase", action="store_true",
                        help="Lowercase everything?")
    parser.add_argument("-d", "--dedup", action="store_true",
                        help="Remove duplicate words")
    parser.add_argument("-o", "--output", type=str, default="",
                        help="""Filename to write to.
                        If < file > exists, append a number to the name
                        til it doesn't.""")
    args = parser.parse_args()

    random.seed()
    s = Shuflr(args.infile, args.dedup)
    s.shuffle(not args.keeppunc, args.lowercase)
    s.versify(4, 16, 50)
    if args.output:
        write_to_template(s.words, args.output)
    else:
        print(' '.join(s.words))
```

  [mirror]: https://gitlab.com/acdw/acdw.xyz
  [`poem`]: /poem
  [`blog`]: /blog
  [Colophon]: /colophon.html
  [The Snubs]: https://www.acdw.net/poem/10044.html
  [article]: http://www.oxfordamerican.org/magazine/item/1066-sweet-bitter-blues

A posts/essay/2018-02-19-on-recipes-and-food-blogs.md => posts/essay/2018-02-19-on-recipes-and-food-blogs.md +45 -0
@@ 0,0 1,45 @@
---
title: On recipes and food blogs
tags: [complaint, cook]
---

[I love to cook]. It's meditative, substantive, and life-giving. It's the best
parts of following directions and improvising techniques both. I cook nearly
every day and I think I'm getting pretty good at it; not *Masterchef* level,
by any means, but I am at the relatives-asking-for-recipes stage of skill.
When I'm looking for something to make, I look in cookbooks (my local library
is a wonderful resource!), of course, and I look where everyone is getting
their information these days -- online.

If you are like me and love cooking, or if you just like cooking, or if you've
ever looked at a food blog before, I'm sure you've noticed that *every food
blog has **a fucking ESSAY** before the actual recipe!* I mean, I get it,
these people are mostly bloggers or photographers or whatever, or they're
trying to leverage their skills at cooking and writing into like, a career,
which is great. We need more cooks who are passionate about writing and
writers who are passionate about cooking, like those are two pursuits that
should be married harder than ... people who are really really married. Fine
and dandy. But what *else* we need is like an online version of *The Joy of
Cooking* or print cookbooks in general, but online: we just need. the fucking.
recipe. With minimal introduction, if any. Give us weights, give us measures,
give us preparation, method, *mise en place* -- we just don't need the story
behind some dish. We don't care, we promise.

If you *must* give us your story, possibly because it features Stephen Tyler
or a spiritual awakening -- give it to us at the end, after the recipe, so we
don't have to scroll for ten years when we're in the middle of stir-frying
some mung beans or whatever. That's really annoying.

-- That turned into a little bit of a rant, so here's my main point: on this
site (actually in the [food part][I love to cook]), I include recipes of
things I've made, mostly cribbed from other people (but I've checked IP laws
around recipes; I'm pretty sure I'm okay as long as I rephrase them *in my own
words*), but without much introduction or any photographs. The introductions
are missing because of the reasons given above, though the missing photographs
are more easily explained: I don't have a good camera and I'm lazy and I don't
want to pay to host all those pictures. So if you want to see pictures of the
delicious meals and dishes I've included in here, please follow the links to
the source material -- you can be sure to find all the pictures you could
want, and more backstory than anyone should have to handle.

  [I love to cook]: /cook

A posts/essay/2018-02-20-a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-publish-this-website.md => posts/essay/2018-02-20-a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-publish-this-website.md +67 -0
@@ 0,0 1,67 @@
---
title: A funny thing happened on the way to publish this website ...
tags: [metablog, life, nostalgia]
---


::: note
That title did not turn out as well as I thought it might.
:::

I don't know if you've noticed yet, and honsetly I wasn't going to mention
it, but I've organized the pages on my site in a certain way: they are the
numbered days of my life.  I got the idea to number pages thus by trying to
think of an easy way to increment and decrement URLs to use in my "yesterday"
/ "tomorrow" links (adding or subtracting one is way easier than figuring out
the date, what month and year it's in, etc.), and because my [10,000th][10k]
day was just on December 10, 2017.  So that's how I built my website, and to
make things easier on myself I installed [`dateutils`][du] and wrote a little
script that, surprisingly, *doesn't* use `dateutils`:

~~~bash
# lifeday [date]
# find out how many days old you are!  looks
# for BIRTHDAY env variable, if it doesn't
# find it, it uses my birthday.  the optional
# date is the day you want to calculate
# (defaults to today).  it'll accept whatever
# `date -d` does.

BIRTHDAY="${BIRTHDAY:-1990-07-25}"
TIMEZONE="${TIMEZONE:--6}"

today="${@:-today}"
now="$(date -d "${today}" +%s)"
birth="$(date -d "${BIRTHDAY}" +%s)"

tzadj="$((TIMEZONE * 60 * 60))"
# tzadj=0
dysec=86400 # 60 * 60 * 24

echo "$(( (now - birth + tzadj) / dysec ))"
~~~

You see that `TIMEZONE` line?  That was written as `TIMEZONE="${TIMEZONE:-6}"`
for quite a while, which knocked my whole date calculations off by 12 hours
when writing posts, which means that most of my dates were off by a day.  So
I've had to [adjust things].

[10k]: https://www.acdw.net/poem/10000.html
[du]: http://www.fresse.org/dateutils/
[adjust things]: https://gitlab.com/acdw/acdw.xyz/commit/2442c57e65a6b3392ef483821d907433d213992c

So it's all well and fine, but here's the neat thing: it made me think about
the arbitrary nature of dates.  It doesn't really matter what day I wrote *x*
on, or when *y* happened.  In fact, I was going to keep everything the same
except for that the way the error happened meant the little script I'm using
for writing new posts would be a day behind all the time.  It doesn't matter
at all whether I wrote something on day [10065] or day [10064], just that it
*was written*, I suppose.


[10065]: https://www.acdw.net/poem/10065.html
[10064]: https://www.acdw.net/cook/10064.html

I read something once saying the same thing about history: the dates don't
matter as much as the stories.  So I guess this is me living that out, sort
of.

A posts/essay/2018-03-05-installing-tinytinyrss-and-wallabag-on-nearlyfreespeech-net.md => posts/essay/2018-03-05-installing-tinytinyrss-and-wallabag-on-nearlyfreespeech-net.md +211 -0
@@ 0,0 1,211 @@
---
title: Installing tinytinyrss and wallabag on nearlyfreespeech.net
tags: [metablog, self hosting, typo]
---

I've recently installed [tinytinyrss] and [wallabag] on this server (I'm not
sharing the links with *you*; they're for me!) and it mostly went pretty well
-- just some permissions-changing, really. Of course, it took me the better
part of four hours to install wallabag, but it turned out after all of that it
was because I made a typo in the name of my database: it's called
`personal.db` but I had it in parameters.yml as `personal.sql`. I only cried a
little bit!

Now that I've recovered from the trauma, here's some instructions to get them
running on your own [NFSN] instance. I'm writing these down because there was
scant information online already about setting them up, and for a newbie like
me, it would've been very useful.[^1]

# Pre-installation

Before installing either of these applications on your little slice of
Internet, you'll need to enable MySQL if you haven't already. To do that, sign
in to NFSN and click the `mysql` tab. On the sidebar, click
`Create a New MySQL Process` and choose what you want in the options (I picked
the default, `MariaDB 10.2 + InnoDB`), and click `Create New Process`. The
first MySQL process on NFSN is free (outside the resource and storage costs,
of course). I was able to put both of these services in one database, so one
should be plenty unless maybe you're planning on having a public instance of
either of these.

Once you create the database, you'll get an email from NFSN about your new
instance. Follow the instructions to change your admin password and create a
new user for you. You can find the phpMyAdmin at
<https://phpmyadmin.nearlyfreespeech.net>. Once all that's done, you're ready
to install other stuff![^2]

# Installing tinytinyrss

If you don't know,

> Tiny Tiny RSS is an open source web-based news feed (RSS/Atom) reader and
> aggregator, designed to allow you to read news from any location, while
> feeling as close to a real desktop application as possible. -- tt-rss.org

It's basically Google Reader or Feedly or whatever, but self-hosted. I compare
it to Google Reader because most sites I read to figure out how to set it up
did, and I think they did because they wrote them around the time that Google
stopped Reader as a service, and I think the reason why there's no newer
information is because people, as a whole, don't really use RSS anymore. They
use Facebook feeds and Reddit and all that business (I was thinking about
using tt-rss to collect my Facebook notifications off-site to read at my
leisure, but alas, they disabled that feature in 2013). However, I like RSS
feeds (by the way, you can subscribe to [my feed here], if you want) because
it collects *my* sources that *I'm* interested in into one spot for easy
reading. So here's the instructions (great thanks, if they need it, to [Nomad
Physicist] and [robinadr] -- I read them to figure this out, and of course
you'll want to reference [the official documentation]):

## Download

First, you need to get the tt-rss source, so you'll need `git`. NFSN already
has `git` installed, but the entire repo's history is quite large and I didn't
want to pay for NFSN to host it all, so I cloned it on my home computer and
used `scp` to copy everything besides `.git` to the server. Here's the basic
steps:

```bash
git clone https://tt-rss.org/git/tt-rss.git tt-rss
cd tt-rss
for file in *; do scp "${file}" <nsfnuser>@<nsfnhost>:/home/public/tt-rss; done
```

## Install

Once you have everything copied over, you'll need to set up your database to
handle tinytinyrss. Head over to <https://phpmyadmin.nearlyfreespeech.net> and
sign in to your database. Click the `User accounts` tab and click
`Add user account`. I used `tinytinyrss` as the username and generated a
password. (Keep the `Host name` field the same.) Check the
`Create database with same name and grant all priveleges`, scroll down to the
bottom, and click `Go`. You can close the page after that.

Now, you should be able to navigate to `<your-site>/tt-rss/install` and follow
the instructions there. The rest of the setup is detailed on [tt-rss.org][the
official documentation], it's really pretty easy. Really, setting up Tiny Tiny
RSS was not the reason I wrote this post; now that I'm done with this section
I'm not sure if I should've written it at all -- it's that easy.

## Afterward

After you're finished installing, the last thing you'll need to do is set up a
cron job with NFSN to run the update script every hour (I also created a new
user to aggregate feeds under, but I'll leave that as an exercise). Head over
to your nearlyfreespeech member panel and select your site in the `sites` tab.
On the sidebar you'll find a link to `Manage Scheduled Tasks`; click it and
Add `/usr/local/bin/php /home/public/tt-rss/update.php --feeds --quiet` (as
user `web`, in the ssh environment) every hour, or as often as you want ---
though I don't think you'll get much use out of updating less frequently than
a day. If you want to update your feeds right away (which you'll need to do
whenever you add a feed if you don't want to wait for the hour), ssh into your
site and run the same command.

# Installing wallabag

Wallabag is a Read-it-Later bookmark service, like [Pocket] or [Instapaper],
but again, it's self hosted (technically they do have a hosted instance at
<https://wallabag.it>, but it costs money). I have been using Pocket, but
since I have this site now and wanted a project, I set up a wallabag instance.
It was a little harder to set up because the documentation is not nearly as
good as tt-rss, but here's what I did. The manual can be read [online], for
what it's worth, but like I said, it's not very comprehensive.

## Download

You want to use the directions from the \[On shared hosting\] section of the
install guide, since that's what NFSN is. Basically, you'll

    wget https://wllbg.org/latest-v2-package && tar xvf latest-v2-package

in an `ssh` to your server, then rename the resulting folder to whatever you
want the installation to be. I used `walla` because `wallabag` is too long to
type. You can delete the `latest-v2-package` tarball.

## Install

You'll need to create another user and database for your MySQL database for
wallabag; it's basically the same instructions as for tt-rss, except you
substitute 'wallabag' for 'tinytinyrss'.

In your wallabag installation folder, edit `app/config/parameters.yml` with
your database configuration. It should look something like this[^3]:

```yaml
parameters:
    database_driver: pdo_mysql
    database_driver_class: null
    database_host: <database>
    database_port: null
    database_name: wallabag
    database_user: wallabag
    database_password: <password>
    database_path: null
    database_table_prefix: wallabag_
    database_socket: null
    database_charset: utf8mb4
    domain_name: '<domain>/web'
```

If you don't want to run a public instance of wallabag, you'll need to include
`fosuser_registration: false` in `parameters.yml` as well. It's on by default.

Once your configuration looks alright, run the following commands and navigate
to your site.

    bin/console --env=prod cache:clear
    chgrp -R web var

You need to `chgrp` because you'll get a permissions error on the server if
the files in `var/` aren't in the `web` group.

It should work! If not, keep tweaking and twiddling for four hours or so until
you realize that a typo is keeping it from working (if you're like me).

## Afterward

I created a new user for myself and began importing articles from Pocket right
away. It worked okay until it didn't, but I didn't want to do all the
troubleshooting when most of my Pocket articles are old anyway and not very
*read-it-later-able*, as well (I threw a lot of videos and [Hacker News]
comment threads in there for a while). I also installed the [Android app] and
[Firefox] extension without much fuss at all -- the instructions for
installing those are more helpful.

One more thing you might want to do on Firefox is disable the built-in Pocket
extension. Head over to `about:config` and change `extensions.pocket.enabled`
to `false`.

# Conclusion

It really wasn't as hard as I thought it'd be to run my own instances of these
applications, and I don't think it'll be very expensive either! It's nice to
know that if I do change my mind, it's pretty simple to delete the whole thing
or shut it down myself. My data is mine, for once.

[^1]: I'm sure you're thinking, but you *learned* that way, in a way that
    reading a blog post like this wouldn't teach you! To you I say, fa! I am
    writing this also for my future self.

[^2]: This article assumes you already have a site using nearlyfreespeech.net
    and that you have it set up with `ssh` or some way to transfer files
    there, as well as whatever DNS you need to make it work.

[^3]: I used the 'web' folder of my domain because I couldn't figure out the
    instructions to [set up a VirtualHost] and have the DocumentRoot at
    `web/`. If you can figure that out, you probably don't need this guide,
    but you also don't need to inlude `web` in the `domain_name` field above.

  [tinytinyrss]: https://tt-rss.org/
  [wallabag]: https://wallabag.org/en
  [NFSN]: https://www.nearlyfreespeech.net/
  [my feed here]: https://www.acdw.net/feed.xml
  [Nomad Physicist]: http://nomadphysicist.busbycreations.com/2013/tiny-tiny-rss-on-nearlyfreespeech-net/
  [robinadr]: https://robinadr.com/2013/05/tiny-tiny-rss-nearly-free-speech
  [the official documentation]: https://git.tt-rss.org/fox/tt-rss/wiki/InstallationNotes
  [Pocket]: https://getpocket.com/
  [Instapaper]: https://www.instapaper.com/
  [online]: https://doc.wallabag.org/en/admin/installation/installation.html
  [Hacker News]: https://news.ycombinator.com
  [Android app]: https://doc.wallabag.org/en/apps/android.html
  [Firefox]: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/wallabagger/?src=search
  [set up a VirtualHost]: https://doc.wallabag.org/en/admin/installation/virtualhosts.html

A posts/essay/2018-03-07-why.md => posts/essay/2018-03-07-why.md +48 -0
@@ 0,0 1,48 @@
---
title: Why?
tags: [writing, indie web]
---

::: epigraph
| Francis of Verulam
| reasoned thus with himself
| and judged it to be for the interest of the present and future generations
| that they should be made acquainted with his thoughts.
[Francis Bacon]{.cite}
:::

Funnily enough, Bacon's quote popped up today on my Facebook feed as one of
those "memories" (or, I suspect, an attempt to bring low-engagement users back
into the fold) and I thought it fit well as a sort of epigraph to my personal
website. I'm writing these words for posterity, I suppose, but more for
myself, or I want to work toward writing them first for myself.

For most of my life I've been waiting for someone to notice me: when I was in
middle school I remember thinking about someone coming up to me and offering
me fame, money, happiness, because they could tell I *had it*, whatever *it*
was. The movies that I'm guessing I got this fool notion from never told me
what it was, anyway, but the desire for being recognized stuck.

I think, honestly, that it led to some of my problems in pursuing writing
really seriously, because I always had this fear or notion that whatever I
wrote, even in my most private journals, be published in one of those
incredible process-type things, like the big edition of *Howl* where it has
facsimiles of the typewriter pages and Ginsberg's hand written notes, and that
people would be disappointed that I thought all those impolite things about
them. So a lot of why I'm writing this has to do with getting over that
paranoia and just living my life.

Another reason I'm writing these words is to try and keep myself accountable:
I've got a [daily poetry folder] (it's not quite daily though; I'm still
trying), I'm recording [recipes], I'm learning the very basics of web
development. Plus, I read a lot about identity online and learned about the
[Indie Web], basically the web of *people* instead of corporations, and I'm
glad I have this site now to be a part of that community.

Also, maybe I *am* a little vain, maybe I *want* to dip my toes a little into
the self-promotion, develop-my-brand space that we Millenials seem to be so
crazy about. So here's me. Here's my site, my little slice of Internet pie.

  [daily poetry folder]: https://www.acdw.net/poem/
  [recipes]: https://www.acdw.net/cook/
  [Indie Web]: https://indieweb.org/

A posts/essay/2018-03-14-adventures-in-gardening.md => posts/essay/2018-03-14-adventures-in-gardening.md +64 -0
@@ 0,0 1,64 @@
---
title: Adventures in gardening
tags: [garden, Stella, problem solving, table]
---

We started a garden this year, about two weeks ago. We went to the local
nursery and bought some young (seedling?) tomatoes, jalapeños, bell peppers,
basil, thyme, and parsley. They've been doing pretty well so far, which feels
really good -- I always say, "They haven't died yet!" coming home. Of course,
something that helps us a lot is living in [Zone 8b], meaning the growing
season is long and warm. While the Nor'Easters are raging in New England and
down the Mid-Atlantic, we've had beautiful early-spring weather.

That is, until last night. It's been chilly for the past couple of days,
chilly enough that I haven't been able to get the chill out of my bones in a
satisfying way. And then last night, it was really *quite* cold, and I
realized as I was getting into bed -- *the plants!* I know that tomatoes like
it warm and I was worried it would get too cold for them. I checked the
weather and it read a low of 41F over night, so I pulled myself out of bed and
put all of them inside. I took a little picture of them this morning:

![The plants inside this morning]

and I went to work. They were doing pretty good when I got home for lunch,
too:

![The plants at lunch]

And I went merrily back to work, mind at ease. That is, until I got home to
Stella in her crate and an irate R, eye-gesturing between the dog and the
pots. Finally I caught on: *Stella had dug in the plants!* She'd nearly
snapped one tomato in half, and dirt was disturbed in about half the others. R
did a great job re-soiling the plants, and I think that they'll be okay, but
this was unacceptable from Stella. I was hurt, and mad, and surprised at
myself for being so hurt and mad. Turns out, I was attached to these plants.

![The broken tomato]

I was also attached to this dog, though, so we had to come up with a solution.
It's still going to be cold for the next couple of nights (it's actually
getting down to 31F tomorrow; I am *not pleased*), so we couldn't put them
outside. We also couldn't leave them on the floor, and putting them in another
room was out -- not enough sunlight and we couldn't keep our eagle-eye on the
pup (there was no trust anymore). Finally, I remembered we had a card table in
the mud room. I brought it out, and now our plants are living in a high-rise:

![Table plants]

We did have to put two tomatoes out on the porch during the day, since the
table isn't really built for more than the weight of a pack of cards and maybe
some plates, but we can bring those in when Stella is safely crated for the
night. And they're actually getting a fair amount of light, so I'm pleased. I
think R is too.

  [Zone 8b]: https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/
    "Here's the map for the whole U.S. It's pretty interesting information."
  [The plants inside this morning]: /images/plants-inside-1.jpg
    "The little ladybug's name is Herman, or Hugo, or Melville, or Tom, or something (R says he's too pure for a name), but at any rate he watches over our crops."
  [The plants at lunch]: /images/plants-inside-2.jpg
    "I had leftover risotto with falafel, if you were wondering."
  [The broken tomato]: /images/plants-inside-3.jpg
    "Breaking my heart, this one."
  [Table plants]: /images/plants-inside-4.jpg
    "I feel like I should make a joke about Trump and high-rises somewhere, but honestly, I'm too tired to think of one worthwhile."

A posts/essay/2018-03-16-figuring-out-whether-a-table-is-empty-in-lua.md => posts/essay/2018-03-16-figuring-out-whether-a-table-is-empty-in-lua.md +106 -0
@@ 0,0 1,106 @@
---
title: Figuring out whether a table is empty in Lua
tags: [lua, metablog, programming]
---

I'm currently working on a tagging system for this website using pandoc, and
I've decided to take a little break to write about a function I wrote for the
system. My tags aren't ready yet (I don't have a deduper yet, for example, nor
do I have any setup to actually *make* the tag pages), by the way. I'm just
proud of myself for getting this function together:

``` {.lua}
local function is_empty(tbl)
    if type(tbl) ~= "table" then return false end
    if next(tbl) == nil then return true end
    for k, v in pairs(tbl) do
        if type(v) ~= "table" then return false end
        if type(k) ~= "number" then return false end
        if k == #tbl then 
            return is_empty(v)
        else
            if not is_empty(v) then return false end
        end
    end
end
```

I'm not sure if `is_empty` is really a good name for it, because it doesn't
exactly tell you *that* (or not only that), but whether a table contains only
empty tables. I decided to implement it because of the way pandoc implements
metadata, and I use that metadata (namely the `tags` field) to build my tag
file that will, hopefully, build my tag index. I could've just checked for the
emptiness of, say, `tags[1][1].c`, but I think that's fragile (what if pandoc
changes the structure?) and ugly. Thus, this function. Let's talk about it.

``` {.lua}
if type(tbl) ~= "table" then return false end
```

Obviously, if the thing passed to `is_empty` isn't a table, it's not an
*empty* table. Easy so far.

``` {.lua}
if next(tbl) == nil then return true end
```

I needed to check the length of `tbl` next: if it's `{}`, we can go ahead and
mark it as empty too. It wasn't as easy as it looked at first though: I was
using `#tbl == 0`, which only checks for the numerically-indexed keys in
`tbl`. Pandoc eventually has keys like `"c"` and `"t"`, which aren't numbers,
so my function was returning `true` on tables that weren't empty. `next()`
gets the next index of the table (I think; I saw the [answer on Stack
Overflow] and the documentation is sparse), and works with both numerical and
other - indexed keys.

``` {.lua}
for k, v in pairs(tbl) do
```

Here we go. Into the depths of the table. `pairs()` recurses through the
table, returning keys and values (bound here to `k` and `v`).

``` {.lua}
    if type(v) ~= "table" then return false end
```

Another easy one: if `v` is not a table, it's something important like `1`,
`"hello"`, or whatever. So the table isn't empty.

``` {.lua}
    if type(k) ~= "number" then return false end
```

Same idea as the `v` typecheck above: if `k` isn't a number (the default
key-type in Lua), then it's holding information of some kind. For example, if
you have a table that's something like `{ junk = {} }` I'm assuming you *want*
`junk` to be an empty table, or you'd set it to `nil` and delete it. That
being said, I might revisit this later if necessary.

``` {.lua}
    if k == #tbl then
        return is_empty(v)
    else
        if not is_empty(v) then return false end
    end
```

I've put all the recursion stuff together at the end. I'm not sure if it's
tail recursion, but I don't really care for this use-case. It works, and
that's good enough for me.

First, we check if we're looking at the last item in the table. If so, we just
check whether *it* is empty, using the same function we're building.
Otherwise, we look inside the table and if it's *not* empty, we
`return false`, or else we keep going with the `for` loop.

Now just to `end` everything:

``` {.lua}
end
```

Wrap it all up in the function `is_empty`, and you've got a good way to look
inside a table to see if it's turtles all the way down.

  [answer on Stack Overflow]: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1252539/most-efficient-way-to-determine-if-a-lua-table-is-empty-contains-no-entries#1252776

A posts/essay/2018-04-07-an-explanation-for-lost-time.md => posts/essay/2018-04-07-an-explanation-for-lost-time.md +71 -0
@@ 0,0 1,71 @@
---
title: An explanation for lost time
tags: [metablog, markdown, annoyance]
---

If you're an avid reader of this site (hey R!) you may have noticed that my
post frequency has really taken a dive lately. I've been spending a lot of my
free time trying to learn [Flask] and a lot of other technology really fast to
make this blog more [Indie-web] friendly.

It isn't going as quickly as I'd hoped.

For the first thing, I'm still stuck on what to use as a [Markdown] parser. On
the site as it stands (which is a [Makefile and a prayer]) I use [pandoc], but
version 2.0 isn't available on my web provider; they use [OpenBSD] which only
has a deprecated port of pandoc 1.19, and I *need* pandoc 2.0 because I use a
lot of lua filters that are new to that release. So as of now, I'm making the
site on my home computer, uploading the whole thing, and `rsync`ing the
published files to https://www.acdw.net. It's not very efficient and it uses
way more space than I want.

So I discovered Flask, and I thought, "Hey, I can port my site to that!" And
it's possible, for sure, and it's really not that hard (I've finally gotten to
that point in my Flask learning curve, which is nice), but all the Markdown
parsers in [Python] are lacking in some way. I started looking at [mistletoe],
which is fairly new but trying to be [CommonMark] compliant, but it doesn't
render something as simple as footnotes. Then there's [mistune], which is
similar, but again, doesn't do footnotes (with both of these I'm assuming I'd
need to implement other stuff too). What I like about mistletoe and mistune,
though, is that they're (a) pure python and (b) extensible. The other python
markdown options, [python-markdown] and [python-markdown2], do footnotes and a
lot of other stuff, but markdown2 isn't that extensible as far as I can tell
and markdown is, like, old. Now that I've been looking into it, the OG
markdown might be what I want to go with for now because of its ease of
extending (I've already figured out a simple [LineBlock] class, which I use
for [verse]) and because "it's like, old" is a dumb reason not to use
something.

The Markdown problem isn't the only problem I've been having getting my site
off the ground: I'm also wondering what sort of caching I should use (if any),
how my URLs should look, and how to store my source files, which doesn't even
begin to worry about the indiewebification of my site. I've got to implement
[h-cards], [webmentions], [and a whole list of other stuff] that seems at
least a *little* complicated. So I've got a long row to how.

That being said, I shouldn't have let it get in the way of *writing*, which is
the whole reason I'm here. All the stuff I spent three paragraphs going on
about is window dressing to the real stuff of the site, which is this that
you're reading. So I'm going to start writing again, daily, regardless of what
my progress is on the nuts and bolts of the site. Eventually everything will
look really nice *and* be brilliant and stuff, but that'll come later.

Here's to a new period-of-time.

  [Flask]: https://flask.pocoo.org
  [Indie-web]: https://indieweb.org
  [Markdown]: https://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/
  [Makefile and a prayer]: https://www.acdw.net/colophon/
  [pandoc]: https://pandoc.org
  [OpenBSD]: https://www.openbsd.org/
  [Python]: https://www.python.org
  [mistletoe]: http://mistletoe.afteryu.me/
  [CommonMark]: http://commonmark.org/
  [mistune]: https://github.com/lepture/mistune
  [python-markdown]: https://python-markdown.github.io/
  [python-markdown2]: https://github.com/trentm/python-markdown2
  [LineBlock]: http://pandoc.org/MANUAL.html#line-blocks
  [verse]: https://www.acdw.net/poem
  [h-cards]: https://indieweb.org/h-card
  [webmentions]: https://indieweb.org/Webmention
  [and a whole list of other stuff]: https://indieweb.org/Category:building-blocks

A posts/essay/2018-05-07-a-theory-as-to-the-origins-of-the-mandela-effect.md => posts/essay/2018-05-07-a-theory-as-to-the-origins-of-the-mandela-effect.md +108 -0
@@ 0,0 1,108 @@
---
title: A theory as to the origins of the Mandela effect
tags: [mandela, rudolph, universe, conspiracy]
---

It's that wonderful time of year when Christmas songs get stuck in my head for
no good reason.  I guess my brain misses hearing the songs it hears on
near-constant repeat for a sixth of the year after five months, so it queues
them up on my mind-radio and lets them blast for a while.  Regardless, one
song that came up on the rotation today made me realize something huge.  I'm
talking bigger than flat earth theory, bigger than the Kennedy assassination,
and *way* bigger than the Illuminati.  I've figured out *why the Mandela
effect exists.*

For those readers who don't know, the *[Mandela effect]* is a phenomenon where
large swaths of people share a memory that is, objectively, false.  However,
the exact same memory is in all these people's heads, and the weight of all
those subjectivities exerts a curious pressure on the cool objectivity of
written history.  After all, isn't *objective reality* merely that which is
agreed to be so by a majority of the population? -- the Mandela effect seems
to ask.  A common example (and the one through which I was introduced to the
effect) is the "[Berenstein Bears]" problem: many people (myself included)
remember the family of anthropomorphic bears with unimaginative names as the
Berensteins, when in point of fact they are (and always have been, or so they
say) the *Berenstains*, with an *a*.

[Mandela effect]: https://www.snopes.com/news/2016/07/24/the-mandela-effect/
[Berenstein Bears]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berenstain_Bears#Name_confusion

Of course, explanations for these "lapses" in collective memory abound.  The
Berenstain bears are confused with the much more common ending "-stein", of
Einstein and Jill Stein variety.  *[Shazaam]* is actually some amalgamation of
*Kazaam*, Sinbad's prolific film career, and some other mysterious sauce.
However, I think these are all simply symptoms of a much deeper cause, one
that goes as deep as the foundations of reality itself: they are the scar
tissues surrounding the sutures of a parasitic universe as it's attached
itself to our own.

[Shazaam]: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/sinbad-movie-shazaam/

Here's what happened: at some point in the relative past, a universe parallel
to ours discovered our presence across the membrane and became jealous of us.
I don't know why, and I won't pretend to guess at their motives, but they
resolved to infiltrate our better universe and live here.  I think they
accomplished just that goal, and I think they used a Christmas song to do it.
That song is "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer".

Take a look at the lyrics to Rudolph's cold open [emphasis mine]:

> You know Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, \
> Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen -- \
> but do **you recall** \
> **the most famous reindeer of all** \

I have two questions for you: firstly, if Rudolph was invented for the song,
how could we possibly *recall* him, and secondly, why would we even *need* to
recall him if he were the "most famous reindeer," as the song claims, although
(as pointed out in point one) he didn't even *exist* until the song?

"Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was the first salvo in an inter-universal
battle that we haven't even noticed.  It was the weapon that pierced the
membrane between our universes and allowed the parasite to attach to ours, and
the beings within it to begin infiltrating our reality.  The parasite is
nearly identical to ours, so we barely notice: but there are small
differences, such as the spelling of an ursine surname, or the career of a
nautically-themed comedian.  Maybe there were bigger incompatibilities, but
the masterminds behind "Rudolph" papered those over.  Maybe the Mandela
effects we experience were small enough to escape detection.

Or maybe we are just wrong.  Who knows.

# Record scratch

I've spent a non-trivial amount of time on this post now, so I'm not going to
take it down.  However, while doing my research I did discover this little
piece of relevant trivia: "Rudolph" was a poem first.

Apparently, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" was originally conceived by a
Robert L. May, a department-store employee tasked with creating a [story for a
coloring book][story], a full *ten years* before the song was released.
What's more, while the song set the poem to the tune we know and love, it
*added* the frontmatter at a time when Rudolph really *was* famous, making my
entire theory null and void.

[story]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolph_the_Red-Nosed_Reindeer#publication_history

As R says, this is a great example of researching your sources *before*
writing your scoop, kids.

# Unless

It is, of course, possible that in the time between my discovery of the
Rudolph Theory of the Multiverse and sitting down to write this post, during
which time I told a few people of said theory, the Parasitic Masterminds were
able to inject a narrative about the poetical origins of Rudolph as a
smokescreen, to cause me to doubt my own findings and discourage me to publish
them.  It's possible that they haven't done the same with the discrepancies we
call Mandela effects because they have a limited amount of power that they're
waiting in the wings to deploy in a final, world-shattering effort, but their
absolute secrecy is important enough that they did what they could to
discredit this theory.

It's also possible that this is one of the more ridiculous conspiracy theories
around.  But it's also possible that it's right.  Like they say: 

> Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean you're not being watched.

Stay vigilant.

A posts/essay/2019-01-03-helping-myself-write-more-in-the-new-year.md => posts/essay/2019-01-03-helping-myself-write-more-in-the-new-year.md +381 -0
@@ 0,0 1,381 @@
---
title: Helping myself write more in the new year
date: 2019-01-03
tags: writing, process, scripting, python, bash
---

Happy New Year!
I'm implementing a Rulin'[^rulin] this year to write *something* every day,
and publish it here.
It's something I did for part of last year,
but then I decided to change up my website,
I got busy,
and I fell *way* off.
So here I am,
renewed in my quest to post up an
[essay](/essay/),
[poem](/poem/),
[recipe](/recipe/),
[review](/review/),
or something else every single day this year.

[^rulin]: Blog post on this to come, I hope.

To help myself be more writerly,
I decided to write out a script to automate the basic task
of beginning a new blog post.
I've done this before,
but new blog,
new script,
so I began again[^plus].
I decided to try writing it in Python
to get practice.[^script]

[^plus]: Plus, I don't really know where I put the dang original script.
[^script]: To jump to the script itself, click [here](#appendix).

# The dark times

My usual workflow is this:

1. I type `vim ~/acdw.net/posts/2019-01-03-the-title.essay` in my shell.

2. I manually type in the YAML frontmatter:

    ```{#yaml-frontmatter .sourceCode .yaml}
    ---
    title: The title
    date: 2019-01-03
    tags: something, bs, whatever
    ---
    ```

3. I write up my post.

   Usually in writing up my post,
   I decide I want to change my title.
   So I change the title in the YAML block ...
   but wait!
   The filename is wrong now too!

4. So I have to
    - `:wq` from vim
    - run `mv ~/acdw.net/posts/2019-01-03-the-title.essay
      ~/acdw.net/posts/2019-01-03-the-new-title.essay`
    - `vim ~/acdw.net/posts/2019-01-03-the-new-title.essay`
    - __oh my god.__

5. Rinse, repeat for who knows how many times, and for every post.

This is untenable.

# Beginning again

I decided to implement a draft system in Hakyll[^draft], so I can put posts
I'm working on in a `drafts/` subfolder of my site directory
and they won't be published until they're ready.
But I thought,
I can do one better --
let's work on a temporary file!

[^draft]: I did something very similar to Jorge Israel Peña's method
          as outlined in his [blog post](https://www.blaenkdenum.com/posts/drafts-in-hakyll/).

Python has a library for that[^library],
called `tempfile`.
You can create a temporary file using `tempfile.mkstemp`
that sticks around for a while, so I used that.
It can also add the suffix '.md',
so vim knows it's a markdown file,
and a prefix so the user can know what they're working on at a glance.

I just pop that into a function, and I'm good to go.

```python
def new_post(group, output_dir):
    thandle, tname = tempfile.mkstemp(
        suffix='.md', prefix=f'acdw-{group}-', text=True)
```

[^library]: Is this a meme?

# Frontmatter

Hakyll uses YAML frontmatter to define metadata about each post[^meta],
so my next step is to get that frontmatter in there automatically
when I start the script.
I just use a constant defined at the top of my script[^space]:

```python
FRONTMATTER = """\
---
title:{space}
date: {date}
tags:{space}
---


""".format(
    space=' ', date=date.today())
```

and enter it with a quick

```python
with open(thandle, mode='w') as f:
    f.write(FRONTMATTER)
```

[^meta]: It looks something like the [YAML](#yaml-frontmatter) above.
[^space]: I use the {space} variable because I have Vim automatically
          automatically truncate end-of-line spaces on a save.

# Editing

Okay, now comes the hard part: actually writing the post.
I just use a `subprocess.run` for that,
passing the `$EDITOR` variable from the environment
(with a sane default, of course):

```python
subprocess.run([os.getenv("EDITOR", EDITOR), tname, '+'], check=True)
```

# Saving

Remember, I've done all this as a tempfile.
Now I need to actually *save* the file in the `drafts/` folder.
For that,
I'll need the date of the post,
the slug,
and the *group*,
which is basically my version of a category.
I just pass the group in as a parameter to `new_post`,
so that's taken care of.
The date and slug need to be pulled from the YAML frontmatter of the file.

I used the `re` library instead of PyYAML,
because pulling in a whole YAML dependency is silly for two fields
and because PyYAML complained about multiple documents
when I used the two `---`s to delineate the metadata[^delin].

[^delin]: You're *supposed* to use `---` for the beginning and `...`
    for the end, but seriously, who cares?
    Hakyll doesn't, I don't, so there.

So I find the title and date by searching for their definitions in the file:

```python
title = re.search(r"^title:\s*(.*)$", metadata, re.MULTILINE)
date = re.search(r"^date:\s*(.*)$", metadata, re.MULTILINE)
```

and then do a couple of sanity checks:

```python
if title is not None:
    title = title.group(1)
else:
    title = ""

if date is not None:
    date = date.group(1)
else:
    date = date.today()
```

To generate the slug from the title,
I just use my handy-dandy slugify function:

```python
def slugify(title):
    words = [str.lower(word) for word in re.split(r"\W+", title) if word != ""]
    return '-'.join(words)
```

And then I write the file and remove the tempfile:

```python
fname = date + "-" + slug + "." + group

with open(output_dir + fname, 'w+') as f:
    f.write(contents)

os.remove(tname)
```

# Quibbles

There are still a few problems.
The first is how to tell my script what group the post should be in.
I usually know what group I'm going to write in,
but I'm not so sure where it'll go from there,
so that makes sense to pass as a script argument.
Thus:

```python
if __name__ == "__main__":
    try:
        group = sys.argv[1]
    except IndexError:
        print("Usage: acdw <group>")

    new_post(group, DRAFT_DIR)
```

The second problem is that,
sometimes I realize I jumped the gun.
Like today,
at first I was like,
I'll write a poem,
then I decided to write this essay about writing essays.
So I had to `rm ~/acdw.net/drafts/2019-01-03-some-poem.poem`
so I didn't clog up my drafts directory,
which was very frustrating.

The solution is just to split the file's contents along the `---`s,
then see if the body section is empty.
If it is, you can bail:

```python
    _, metadata, body = contents.split('---')
    if body.strip() == '':
        print("acdw: Post empty.")
        return None
```

# Packaging

So my script is all done, but it's a real pain to use.
I set it up in a virtualenv,
so if I want to use it I have to source the virtualenv
and then run it with python
and then deactivate the virtualenv.
Luckily, we have bash for that!
I wrote up a quick bash script that does all that for me
and passes all the arguments to my python script
and put it in my `$PATH`.
You can see it [below], after my python script.

[below]: #the-wrapper

# Future thoughts

Even though my script is good enough to use today,
I still want to add some features:

- Check if you're already working on something today,
  and ask if you'd like to continue on that or start something new
- Maybe a `draft` command that allows you to choose a draft to work on
- A `publish` command to move a draft into the `posts/` folder[^publish]
- A kind of search function so I can quit and come back to a post
  without finding it in my drafts folder

I'll work on these features later, though;
too many times I've let tinkering get in the way of writing!

[^publish]: I'm not sure whether this is a better command for *this* script
            or for my Hakyll site script.  This requires more thought.

# Appendix

## The script

``` {.python .numberLines}
#!/usr/bin/env python3

import os
import re
import subprocess
import sys
import tempfile
from datetime import date

EDITOR = "editor"
DRAFT_DIR = os.getenv("HOME") + "/acdw.net/drafts/"
FRONTMATTER = """\
---
title:{space}
date: {date}
tags:{space}
---


""".format(
    space=' ', date=date.today())


def slugify(title):
    """Turn a title into a slug."""
    words = [str.lower(word) for word in re.split(r"\W+", title) if word != ""]
    return '-'.join(words)


def new_post(group, output_dir):
    # Make a new tempfile
    thandle, tname = tempfile.mkstemp(
        suffix='.md', prefix=f'acdw-{group}-', text=True)

    # Populate it with YAML frontmatter