Too many topics, not enough time

Like many writers, I have a long list of ideas that I never got around to writing about. I’m not very consistent about writing them down, but still the list gets longer and longer, until I start deleting old ideas that no longer make any sense to me. Some of them I missed the moment to write them, or they required more research than I had energy to put into it. Some of them were just bad and non-starters.

Here is a short list of ideas that I made after deleting the ones that I’m obviously never going to write about. If any of these interests you, let me know, your comment might cause it to happen!

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Link roundup: September 2021

Fixing Led Zeppelin with Autotune | Adam Neely (video, 17 min) – It’s common to hate on autotune, but at least some of the people who hate it are just thinking of that robotic voice effect, which is not really what autotune is.¬† This video applies autotuning to some classic songs, so that you can hear what it really sounds like.¬† The effect is fairly subtle, but you would be justified in complaining that it flattens out some of the expressiveness of the voice.¬† At the same time, I’m sure some listeners won’t be able to hear the difference at all, and they would be justified in being completely apathetic about it.

There are 48 regular polyhedra | Jan Misali (video, 29 min) – I’m interested in geometric oddities like this, because they’re artistic inspirations.¬† That said, I feel like he plays pretty fast and loose with the definitions and assumptions here.¬† Once he starts talking about regular apeirogons (which have infinite number of edges), it’s unclear what exactly distinguishes a regular apeirogon from a non-regular apeirogon.¬† (Wikipedia’s definition, “a partition of the hyperbolic line H1 (instead of the Euclidean line) into segments of length 2őĽ” is not too helpful either.)

I’m also wondering what’s to stop you from constructing a “regular polyhedron” consisting of an infinite number of heptagons densely packed into a sphere.¬† Well, you can’t make origami of it, so there’s that.

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Origami: Four Cubes

Four cubes

Four Cubes, designed by David Mitchell

Four cubes is a fairly simple design, and the instructions are freely available through David Mitchell’s website.¬† My recollection about this one, is that I was at an origami convention, and someone showed me David Mitchell’s website, and the next minute I produced this thing.¬† I clearly thought this was really easy stuff, because I felt the need to make it super tiny.¬† I believe it is less than 2 cm across.

I checked the date on this photo, and clearly my memory is completely fabricated, as I did not go to an origami convention that year.

Problematic fiction, and action

Lately, I’ve been seeing discussions of “anti-shipping” hit mainstream, for example in a Kotaku article trying to connect it to the latest video game controversies. I’m separated by two degrees from any anti-shipping arguments, but I’m aware it’s a clusterfuck, so I’m a bit apprehensive about this new attention. People who are involved in anti-shipping flame wars are notorious for pulling in complete strangers to the subject, and coercively classifying them on one side or the other. It’s a nasty flame war I prefer to keep at arms distance, although I find some of the underlying questions to be interesting.

Briefly, anti-shippers (or simply “antis” if you want to be enigmatic and ungoogleable) are people with moral objections to certain kinds of problematic ships. The precise content of anti-shipper or pro-shipper stances is slippery, but in my understanding anti-shippers commonly object to ships with characters that are canonically minors, and even label it pedophilia. If you’re familiar with the dominant culture in fanfic (AO3 in particular), and their habit of shipping basically every pair of characters, you can see how the disagreement is substantial and significant.

This raises several questions. What exactly counts as problematic or not? What does it mean to have a moral objection to problematic content, vs just not liking that content, or not wanting to be exposed to it? Once we’ve identified problematic content, what actions do we advocate taking in response? As a writer who has occasionally critiqued works of fiction from a social justice perspective, it is that last question that fascinates me.

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Mixed race in the 2020 US Census

TL;DR: The 2020 US Census shows a very large increase in the “Two or More Races” group. However, at least some of this likely has to do with changes in the question design and coding procedures, and shifting constructions of race.

The US Census construction of Race

When the US Census asks about race and ethnicity, it tries to reflect the way that racial/ethnic identity is constructed in the United States, but it also has to obey certain constraints. As a result there are some outstanding differences between race as it is constructed by US residents, and race as it is constructed by the US Census. For example, Middle Eastern Americans often do not identify as White, and are not perceived as White (and I suspect this perception has increased since 9/11), but in the US Census they are still classified as white.

Another outstanding difference is in how the US Census defines “race” vs “ethnicity”. According to the Census, “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” and its negation are the only ethnic categories, and are excluded from the racial categories. I can say from my own experience with surveys, that this system is really weird, and causes no end of confusion among respondents.

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2021 California Election positions

Hey, remember in 2020, when I said vote, but not just today? I’m going to keep citing that.

Starting today, California voters are getting mailed ballots for the gubernatorial recall election. As far as I know, this is a uniquely Californian process, where if opponents gather enough signatures, they can initiate an election to end the governor’s term early. This ballot has only two questions, but I still going through the usual exercise of stating my positions.¬† (The point is not to share heavy amounts of research, which I do not do, it is to normalize the process of just looking things up and voting.)

No on recall

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Link Roundup: August 2021

Microtonal reharmonizations of “Red Dress”: mostly a capella version by Stephen Weigel, and synthwave version by FAST-fast – In case you were wondering what this song would sound like if all the backing were in tune with Sarah.¬† I’m just going to say that this is what I was hearing a glimmer of from the beginning.

Reflections on Jason Voorhees, Virginity in Horror, and the Specter of the Anti-Sex Killer | Ace Theist – A deep examination of how slasher films–especially Friday the 13th–are said to kill off characters who have sex, and leave virgins as survivors. ¬†These supposed tropes are not entirely supported by the text, and it seems that characters who show sex or nudity on screen always die, but the survivors are rarely described as virgins. ¬†Nonetheless, the reading of Jason Voorhees as anti-sexual has some weight to it, and is particularly interesting in light of how popular Jason is as a character. ¬†Jason as an asexual icon is… fairly problematic to say the least.¬† But I’m reminded of the discourse on queer-coded villains–on the one hand, it’s kind of terrible that there’s an association between queerness and villainy, but on the other hand, villains are actually awesome.

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