Snoozy Cat to you all, and a happy New Year!

“The old year now away is fled, the New Year it is entered”.

In many ways, the turning of one year to the next doesn’t matter much. It’s a way to track time, but while that’s the axle on which the wheels of history turn, it’s not what determines where we go. The New Year is a social construct. The thing is, social constructs are real, material forces in the world, and like gods, flags, and philosophies, the New Year has meaning, at its root, because enough people want it to. At the end of the day, that kind of meaning may be the only kind we really have.

This has been an interesting year for me. Some combination of a supportive family, total control over my time, and a legal situation that convinced me writing was actually the most “productive” use of my time meant that I’ve been writing daily for a year, in a way I’m not sure I ever have. More than that, having this control over what I write, how I write it, and why I write it has made the work immeasurably more fulfilling. I don’t know why it took so long for all of this to click, but in some ways it’s been exhilarating, after so many years of trying to get my brain to cooperate. I still have problems, of course, and there’s the nagging dread that something small will change and I’ll sink back into the brain fog and dysfunction, but for now? Life feels strangely good, despite everything that’s going on in the world.

I think that’s a testament to the importance of ensuring that everyone has this freedom, and of staying connected to humanity as a whole, so as to avoid that trap of assuming one’s own experience is universal. I’m also somewhat grounded by the fact that my current situation has a time limit on it. It is, speaking of social constructs, a result of Tegan’s visa as a graduate student. It’s my hope that between this blog and the novel I’m working on, I can bring in enough money to make writing continue to be viable when our situation changes. It feels like the odds are against me on that, but in this moment, there’s nothing for it but to keep working.

This has also been an “interesting” year, for a certain definition of interesting, because I lost Raksha. She had been a huge part of my life starting the summer after I graduated from college in 2007, all the way until this past spring, and I don’t think I could have asked for a better dog. She was gentle, sociable, smart, and eager to please. She also rarely barked, which made her a surprisingly good apartment dog, for a Shepherd mix that weighed 50lbs. She was probably happiest during the couple years we were living at my parent’s place in the woods, where she’d hang out, chase squirrels, and bask in the sun.

It’s strange to have a creature be a constant presence for a decade and a half, and then just… be gone. It’s something you always know is coming, but there’s a limit to how much easier that makes it, when it’s clear that nobody really wants things to end. I’ll probably never stop missing her, but writing these two paragraphs is more than I was able to do a few months ago. One benefit of aging is that experience can remind us that while time may not remove the pain entirely, things do get easier.

The picture shows Raksha, lying under my desk. It’s an oak roll-top desk I got at a thrift store, so the space under it is pretty small. The dog’s head and shoulders are visible in the bottom center of the picture, with her white undercoat showing through the black fur of her shoulders. Her cheeks are white, fading to tan on the muzzle, with a black stripe down the center of her snout. She has brown eyes with a little dark fur around them, and off-white, expressive eyebrows. This was her safe spot, where she’d hide (if I was at the desk) when the fireworks started.

Thankfully, she wasn’t my only companion. I still have Tegan and His Holiness Saint Ray the Cat. Tegan shared my grief, of course, having lived with Raksha for almost nine of her fifteen years. His Holiness apparently didn’t care at all. He was there on the grass when the vet put her down, but he was far more interested in whether we were going to feed him. I think his main problem was that the landscape changed. Thankfully, as long as we keep feeding him and providing warmth and shelter, he will continue to be a loving stuffed animal of a housemate.

Honestly, I think the dog was more like a roommate that he had to put up with than someone he actually cared about. When Tegan’s gone for a long period of time, he gets fussy, and when she spends the day out of the house, he makes it his mission to prevent her from leaving again by sitting on her lap the second it becomes possible to do so. He’ll spend lots of time there when she’s home all day, too, but there’s less urgency to it. Tegan, you will be surprised to learn, is largely OK with this.

The other day, he took up residence while she watched a movie (I think it was The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – I was working and didn’t feel like watching it), and he discovered that, when she wasn’t actively using it for work, her laptop made an excellent pillow!

His Holiness, a chunky British shorthair cat, is sleeping on Tegan’s lap, on top of a plaid comforter, using her laptop as a pillow. His fur looks golden-brown with black stripes, except for the plush, white fur on his muzzle, cheeks, neck, and paws. That particular spot on the laptop generates its own heat, and is therefor the cat’s One True Love.

Tegan sent me a couple pictures that seemed worth sharing with you all. He used to have a problem with comforters – the squishiness bothered him for some reason – but he has made his peace, and seems to appreciate them now, especially when they have the added benefit of being over a lap.

It’s true what you’ve heard – you really can have too much of a good thing! He got overheated, so he had to curl away from the laptop and plant his face in the comforter.

A few days before this, Tegan had been using her old sleeping bag to keep warm while she worked out in the living room, and His Holiness had apparently decided that that sleeping bag was the best thing ever created, and spent several entire days and nights mostly sleeping on it, regardless of where we were. He goes through phases like that with random spots in the house sometimes, like the box he was obsessed with a little while back.

Apparently he had reached the end of that phase, however, because when I came to bed, he decided to stick around, and found a little space above my pillow.

In this picture, you can see me using one side of the pillow, and His Holiness using the other. Neither of us appreciated the flash, but it does show how glossy the soft black fur on his head is.

I have never encountered a cat that was so fond of pillows – not as a thing to lie on but as, well, a social construct. It’s not always, but often he likes having his head propped up on something other than his sleeping surface. This means that he will often share a pillow with one of us, by curling up next to it, and putting his head on it. Maybe this is something they all do and I’m just noticing it with my cat, but it’s such a marked preference with him, it seems to stand out in a way that I feel I would have noticed.

Either way, it’s extremely cute, and I’m grateful to have him in my life.

2023 looks to be an interesting year, not just in the sense of the curse of “interesting times”, but also because it feels sort of like a next stage for my attempt to hold on to a lifestyle that I actually find fulfilling. As I mentioned a few days ago, I’m not going to be posing anything for the first week in January. It’s not exactly a week “off”, but my biggest upcoming goal is to get a solid draft of my current novel finished by the end of Spring. I’m aiming for April, but I’m unsure of my ability to get there. Fiction’s harder for me than nonfiction in many ways. I didn’t get as far as I wanted to in November, but I did make real progress, and I’ve made more over the past month. I think it’ll be a fun book, and a good, if somewhat sneaky beginning to what I hope will be a unique and captivating fantasy epic.

I’m still working on how I want to go about publishing it, but I’m leaning towards self-publication or something close to it. At some point this year, I’ll also start releasing bits and pieces as teasers, and probably a little more than that for my patrons (who have the option to name characters). It’s a sword-and-sorcery story that follows a young mage named Tad, who signs up to serve the empire in which he was born. In that regard, the setup is familiar, and in many ways this will be just another fantasy novel in a quasi-medieval setting. That said, I find I cannot be satisfied with a society that has rulers in fiction any more than in reality, and the ghosts of “past” injustice continue to haunt us in any world, until we do what is needed to appease them and mend the damage.

What potions require mushrooms, harvested from a swamp in the dark of the New Moon? What secrets are held within the red-streaked black marble of the Imperial palace? How much of the world around us is a lie? What waits at the bottom of a bottomless pit? How much can a friendship withstand?

In 2023, I mean to answer these questions and more. In time, of course, the answers will be available to all who buy my books, but readers of this blog may get early or inside information, and my patrons will play a role in shaping this world, should they want it.

And, of course, Oceanoxia will continue. Once my break is over, I plan on posting daily as I have been. Going forward, I’ll do my best do provide better written summaries and discussions of Youtube videos I post. I think it was The Great American Satan that pointed out that people likely to read a blog like this might be less interested in watching videos than in, well, reading. It’s a good point and one I’ll be trying to keep in mind. I had started using Youtube as a way to post content when I didn’t have anything better, and I’m sure I’ll still do that from time to time, but like I said – I’m trying to make a living out of this, and beyond periodically haranguing people for money, Oceanoxia needs to be something that people feel is worth supporting.

I’ve found it hard, recently, to feel hopeful about the start of a new year. There’s a lot of bad in the world right now, and a lot of power behind the effort to keep things that way. In terms of the world at large, well, it doesn’t feel like things are getting better soon. In terms of my own life? It’s hard to tell, but I have real hopes for my current projects, and for another year in which it feels like I’m actually making progress as a craftsman. In a lot of ways, that’s most of what I want out of my personal life, and I’m grateful for this opportunity, however long it lasts.

I hope you all have a good night, whatever your plans tonight, and I hope that 2023 is filled with pleasant surprises for all of us.

Video: Monopoly is Anti-Landlord Propaganda

As a kid, I think I probably played Monopoly once or twice per year, usually at my grandparents’ house in Maine. I think we ended up playing Parcheesi more, but they liked Monopoly enough to have a fancy wood and velvet game set with gold-plated hotels. I think I tended to remember those times when I won more often than the times when I lost, so I always wanted to play Monopoly, and was probably a nightmare to play with.

I don’t remember when, exactly, I learned about Monopoly’s history as an explicitly anti-capitalist game, but it certainly makes sense. It’s a great demonstration of how, even with everyone getting an actually equal start, the rules of the game inevitably result in one person getting everything, and everyone else getting ruined. As a microcosm, it does a decent job of replicating what we’re seeing around us right now, with a handful of unbelievably greedy assholes measuring their wealth in hundreds of billions of dollars, while still stealing from their already underpaid workers.

Even if you’re already familiar with the broad strokes, this video digs deeper into the political and economic theory surrounding the creation of the game, as well as the details of how the game went from criticism of capitalism to something that almost seems to glorify it. Whether you want to hear the story (and how it involves Quakers, of all people), or you want to learn more about 19th century economics and people like Henry George, you may enjoy this recounting of it by an enthusiastic British man:

 

Video: Thought Slime on “AI Art”

This whole “AI” art fad has always felt reminiscent of the crypto/NFT stuff, possibly because it seems to be pushed by the same or similar people. It’s a thing that could, in theory, be interesting and beneficial, but within our current system, all it ends up being vapid and harmful. It’s like automation – it’s framed as taking jobs away from people, but that’s only a problem because jobs are how people earn the right to exist, and the folks in charge are constantly trying to find new ways to not pay people.

What bothers me most, at this moment, is how these programs are allowing rich assholes to profit off of artistic work that I guarantee would be deemed worthless within our society. “You don’t deserve a living wage for doing that work because nobody wants to pay for it, now excuse me while I take it and use it to make money”. The problem isn’t the new thing that’s “taking jobs”, it’s the rules built around that new thing that ensures only a few people get the benefit.

 

Rebecca Watson debunks Santa’s shroom-tripping origin myth

A while back, I encountered a proposed origin for the Santa character as we understand him today. Basically, the idea was that shamans in Siberia would make use of a hallucinogenic mushroom as part of their practice, and there was a myth of a particular sort of over-shaman who would ride on the back of a flying reindeer and give visions to the more earth-bound folks. I think I recall hearing that he did wear red, but I didn’t hear any reason why, beyond the fact that dyed fabric tends to be valuable in pre-industrial settings. From there, it was mixed with St. Nicholas and probably other things, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Rebecca Watson encountered a considerably less-plausible (in my estimation) version of the story, and done a debunk that does cover what I’d heard as well:

Okay, so here’s the “evidence” for the connection between Siberian shamans and Santa Claus, and it’s the kind of evidence that a lawyer might call “circumstantial” but I’m just going to call “pathetic:”

1.) Siberian shamans consumed the Amanita muscaria for both healing and spiritual purposes. This is the quintessential “magic mushroom,” with a bright red (or orange) cap with white spots on it. This is true.

2.) Siberian reindeer also consumed the mushroom. Drinking their milk or piss would result in people getting the hallucinogenic properties without most of the “making you barf everywhere” properties. This is also true.

That’s it, that’s the evidence. From here on out we are in the “citation needed” zone:

3.) The Shamans dressed up like the mushrooms in red and white and then went door to door by sleigh handing them out to people, but with all the snow they couldn’t get in the door so they had to drop down the chimney.

No one has any evidence any of this is true. No one has any evidence to suggest shamans got around via sleigh, that they randomly gave away their sacred herbs, or that they tumbled down chimneys because indigenous people didn’t know how to clear a driveway. There’s certainly no evidence they dressed up LIKE A MUSHROOM. In fact, if that were the case then we would see a very clear throughline in which Santa always wears red and white, which anyone who has ever had one of those “1 weird fact-a-day” calendars knows. Santa and his relatives like Father Christmas spent a long time without any particular color scheme (when I was a kid in the 80s I was always partial to Father Christmases in deep blue velvet), and the fact that we think of Santa as being dressed in red and white is mostly thanks to Coca Cola for making Santa their mascot in 1931 and giving him THEIR BRAND’S colors. That’s right hippies, it wasn’t drugged up shamans, it was CAPITALISM.

The version I encountered had no sleighs, and no going down chimneys. If memory serves, the connection to that that I heard was that the mushrooms themselves were stored in a little sack over/near the fire, to keep them dry/preserved. I think Watson may be overstating the degree to which the modern Santa is due to Coca Cola, but they certainly played a role. I’ll also mention that I can’t find a credible source for the version that I heard, and Watson, as we’ll see, found what’s probably the origin of the myth. There are also a number of other claims that go beyond the small similarity I heard, and a better explanation for the stocking thing:

4.) We hang stockings up by the chimney because that’s how the shamans dried out the mushrooms to prepare them for ingestion. Again, no evidence for it: yes mushrooms are better dried out, but it has nothing to do with your socks. Historians by and large accept that stockings date back to a myth of a wealthy St. Nick feeling bad for a guy who couldn’t afford his daughters’ dowries and tossing coins through the window, which landed in one girls’ socks that were drying by the fire.

5.) We put presents under the tree because that’s where mushrooms grow. Yes, seriously, that’s one of the claims. Again, if it were true then we could trace this tradition all the way back to contact with Arctic shamans but we can’t: there’s a reason why, as Thomas Hatsid points out over at ProjectCBD, A Visit From Saint Nicholas doesn’t even mention a tree but does mention stockings: because before CAPITALISM got out of control, Santa would put a few treats and shiny objects in the stockings and call it a night. Now he’s bringing us Playstations, which don’t fit in socks or “ON” the tree, as in the song “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” which was written in 1943 when presents were small enough to go there. Now they don’t, so they go at the bottom of the tree.

And that’s it, that’s all the “evidence” for this connection.

Her conclusion, which is worth reading or watching, discusses how cultural interchange actually works. It’s a bit more complicated than this kind of one-to-one transfer of characteristics. I also like how she goes through the chain of analysis by examining midwinter/Christmas traditions in those cultures that actually interacted with the shamanic groups in question. The TL:DR is that getting closer to Siberia sees the Santa-like characters and traditions getting less like the just-so story of shamans, chimneys, and gifts. And speaking of just-so stories:

But the real source of a lot of this, I think, is revealed in this NPR piece from 2010 about Donald Pfister, biology professor and curator of Harvard’s Farlow Reference Library and Herbarium (and his colleague Anne Pringle):

“Add it all up and what do you get? Pringle connected the dots: “People are flying. The mushroom turns into a happy personification named Santa.”

She said it with a laugh, but the connection between psychedelic mushrooms and the Santa story has gradually woven itself into popular culture, at least the popular culture of mycology, mushroom science.

“So every year, when Christmas draws near, Pfister gathers the students in his introductory botany class, and, no doubt with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, tells the tale of Santa and the psychedelic mushrooms.”

This was clearly a fun fluff piece that isn’t super subtle about the fact that this is just a fun yarn – it’s a modern myth about an ancient myth. But we can’t have nice, fun, eye-twinkling things like this today. As the story gets passed from outlet to outlet, the “subtle” playfulness gets dropped. What is actually a story about a biology professor goofing around with his students with a fun lecture every Christmas becomes the SECRET TRUTH OF SANTA CLAUS, which leaves it to annoying buzzkills like me to pipe up and say “well actually that’s not true.”

Yeah, that tracks. It seems to take very little for some ideas to enter popular consciousness, and a few years of one professor at a prestigious university telling a compelling story? That could plant the notion not just in the heads of a lot of people, but people who, by virtue of being Harvard graduates, will be taken seriously. I used to play around with convincing people of things that weren’t true, as a child. I think I got close to convincing a neighboring kid that I was a ghost once, and that a local albino skunk was my ghost pet. In high school I would sometimes try to persuade people that A Field Guide To Little Known and Seldom Seen Birds of North America was real, or that Rhinogradentia was an actual order of island-dwelling mammals. As I got older, and saw the damage that lies combined with people’s credulity could do, I guess the game lost its charm for me.

Still, I’m glad to know where that story came from. It’s interesting to see how we develop mythology about mythology, in a way that almost makes me think of tales of divine regime change, like the way the gods of ancient Greece overthrew their titan parents/predecessors. As ever, it makes me wonder how many religions began with misunderstandings that could have actually been resolved, had things gone just a little differently. It sometimes feels like, among all the deliberately created and promoted propaganda, some stories just escape and spread like an invasive species, taking advantage of the rich, safe environment in which they find themselves.  I wonder what other new “explanations” will arise for Santa and other such things, in the decades to come.

Potions and politics: How to change the world?

The novel on which I’m currently working is a fantasy, set in your standard quasi-medieval world, following the adventures of a young mage as he is a witness to, and participant in Historical Events. I’ve got a few different motivations for writing this story. The first, and most important, is that pretty much the entire plot just sort of came to me over a period of a couple weeks, and I wanted to see how it would actually turn out. The second is that I’d been looking to try out a different approach than the one I took with Exits and Entrances, to make for a more enjoyable read.

The third motivation is political. Well, sort of. Making a good story is my primary goal, but is it even possible for a writer to avoid putting anything of their own opinions into their work? Maybe, but I doubt it would be good. No, my writing is a part of me, so much of me will probably show up in it. Of particular relevance today, is the notion of regime change in fiction. I think it’s fairly common for a novel of this sort to tell the story of some sort of political crisis, by the end of which the world has either gone back to a desirable “normal”, or has changed for the better. The most common version of that that I’ve seen is replacing a bad monarch with a good monarch, and pretending that solves things.

I get why – it’s easy, it’s familiar to the reader, and it’s just how things have been done in the history we were taught. It doesn’t sit well with me, though, and I don’t particularly want to write a story that ends with “good” authoritarianism, so part of my work in writing this is studying the history of political change. How does it happen? We tend to think of revolutions, wars, and coups, all of which tend to have their own hierarchies, but are there other options?

Well, in my fantasy world, there will be, but while there will be magic, monsters, and mysticism, I find that that sort of thing goes best when it’s tethered to our day-to-day lives by threads of realism. Some of that lies in the sensory experiences of life, but I’m far from the first writer to include machinations of politics and power that resemble those of the real world in some ways.

All of that is why I’m glad we have people like Andrewism, exploring the ways in which a fictional society might go through major political change:

Video: Imagine being Ben Shapiro

I’m working on something fairly grim right now, so I revisited this old video for the entertainment value. It’s an interesting breakdown not just of Ben Shapiro’s ludicrous critique of John Lennon’s Imagine, but also of the song itself, and what makes it unique. I also like this because it makes me think about how my own political journey, thus far, has changed my perspective of the song, and my understanding of how it relates to the world.

 

Defunctland does a deep dive into Disney Channel’s theme

Usually, if I talk about Disney, I’m not going to be saying anything good. While I did like some Disney movies growing up, Disney as a thing didn’t really factor into my understanding of the world. Most of my related brain cells deal with labor violations, litigious and sometimes malicious overuse of intellectual property laws – you know, evil capitalist empire stuff. Still, I think it’s worth remembering that even if the cultural dominance of a corporation like Disney is a sign of deep systemic problems, it’s also just a big part of people’s lives, and that’s perfectly valid.

This documentary is an incredible work of investigative reporting about four musical notes, and how they came to be. It’s a mystery that turns up a lot of what’s best about Disney – the passion of the artists who work there, and the respect they had for each other. It’s a pleasant watch, and an interesting story.

Video: Timbah on Toast takes an empathetic and educational look at Ye, and bipolar disorder

A couple days ago, I called Ye (formerly known as Kanye West) a fascist, while talking about the company he’s been keeping lately. I’m comfortable saying that, because of the misinformation and hate that he’s spreading, and because of the people and ideas he’s empowering. He is, as the philosophers say, “doing fascism”. There’s no excusing that, and I think that he’s in a quagmire mostly of his own making, from which he’ll have trouble escaping. Because of his cultural stature, he’s someone whose actions we need to consider, at least from time to time, and in doing so, it seems like a good idea to know at least a little bit about bipolar disorder. It’s also something that’s just generally good to know about, because the odds are decent that there are people in your life who have to deal with that set of symptoms.

Timbah on Toast has done a number of excellent videos on different subjects, and in my very inexpert opinion, this one is worth watching as well. It gives an overview of what bipolar is and how it manifests, as well as a description of what it’s like for the person living through those manifestations. The video also talks about treatment, and about Ye specifically. The combination of wealth (Beau of the Fifth Column likes to call money “power coupons”), cultural influence, existing bigotry, and bad company seems to act like a bit of a perfect storm for driving Ye into these waters. That said, there’s one prediction that Timbah makes that I worry may be overly optimistic.

He correctly points out that the people who’ve been encouraging and enabling Ye lately don’t care about his wellbeing. He’s profitable for them, and for some, he’s a potential pathway to power. Where I fear Timbah may be going wrong, is in the prediction that when Ye goes into a depressive episode, having pushed away the people who cared about him, his current crowd will abandon him.

They might, I suppose, but looking at the situation, I’m reminded of the radicalization funnel that’s been guiding people towards the extreme right. For that, extreme low points are often an important part of the process. That’s when you can really convince someone that everyone else has abandoned them, and that only you, the fascist benefiting from his involvement, can be trusted to take care of him, and to guide him when he needs it. I don’t know if someone like Fuentes, Yiannapoulis, or Owens will be the one to do that, and I don’t know whether they’ll succeed if they try, but I think it is inevitable that someone in his current orbit is planning to take advantage. For all these are horrible people, they’re perfectly capable of being kind and caring when they think it will pay off. I don’t think it’ll be hard to convince Ye that nobody will forgive him, and that they’re the only ones he can rely on.

I could be wrong, obviously. I hope I’m wrong. I don’t know the man, and I know very little about him. With luck, he’ll extricate himself and go spend some time out of the spotlight. People do de-radicalize themselves all the time, when they have a way out, and it sure seems like someone of Ye’s stature has a number of options in that regard. Time will tell, I suppose, but regardless of how all this turns out, it’s a nasty situation.

Advances in avian culinary technology open new front in The Toad Wars

One of my favorite “tropes” in modern environmentalism is the idea of solving human problems by improving, amplifying, or adjusting ecosystem services. This covers all sorts of things, but I think the first example I ever heard of was using predatory insects – ladybugs – to control agricultural pests. That was my first example, but not my favorite. My favorite, as I mentioned recently, is the story of cane toads in Australia. It’s an example of an almost-clever idea that has had horrible, and sometimes hilarious results. If nothing else, it has given us this gem of a nature documentary, which you can watch with your family while you eat Thanksgiving dinner!

That’s high art, if ever there was such a thing. Truly a masterpiece of cinema.

Now, why do I bring this up, other than the fact that it lets me write about something easy while my mind is elsewhere? Well, a new front has been opened in the Cane Toad Wars, and it comes to us thanks to the very latest in avian innovation. May I present to you, the Ibis-devised “stress-and-wash” technique for cane toad cuisine?

Ibis are often seen feeding on food dumped by humans, but citizen scientists are increasingly reporting the native species is dining out on toxic cane toads.

Gold Coast coordinator of Watergum’s Cane Toads program Emily Vincent said the “stress and wash” method had been viewed numerous times by citizen scientists.

“It’s quite amusing to watch and it’s quite different from other native species and their methods of eating them,” she said.

“The ibis will pick up cane toads and they will flick them about and stress out the toads.

“What this does is it makes the cane toads release toxins from the parotoid gland at the back of their neck, which is their defence mechanism when they’re faced with predators.

“Then they’ll take them down to the creek and wash them.”
Ms Vincent said it was encouraging to see the ibis capitalising on the food source, which was first introduced into Australia in 1935 to control cane beetles in Queensland’s sugarcane crops.

The cane toad has since spread into New South Wales, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

“We have lots and lots of ibis in Australia,” she said.

“This is a learned behaviour and it’s been observed in multiple different regions.

“I think it will have an impact, especially as more species tag along and copy the behaviour.”

The article has some other useful information, including the fact that while the toad’s poison is apparently unpleasant for birds, it doesn’t actually do a whole lot to them. They mainly avoid it because of the flavor. I do feel bad for the toads (as I feel bad for some shown in the video above), but Australia’s ecosystem could really use a break, so it’s nice to see this.

Maybe this will finally bring peace between the Australians and the Ibis. I certainly hope so, given that country’s record when it comes to fighting birds, but it’s hard to say. In the meantime, here’s the current state of things as I understand it:

Small blog update, and a video

For the rest of November, I’m going to be doing low-effort posts for the most part. I’m behind on my novel, and the sad truth is that if I want to be able to keep writing, I need more sources of income. As wonderful as my patrons are, they form a pretty small crowd that hasn’t grown much over the last year, so I think it would be foolish to assume that that will change after another year or two.

I intend to keep posting daily, but for the rest of this month, and probably periodically going forward, I’ll be taking time for other work. I doubt it’s just me, but I find it hard to remind myself that yes, writing a novel is work that I actually have a responsibility to keep doing in my current situation, and it’s sometimes discouraging to work on something that only has a possibility of paying off months or years down the line.

Anyway, for a change of tone, here’s a two-parter on U.S. policing, and how it interacts with U.S. culture – television in particular. There are content warnings in the videos, but if you know anything about our “justice” system, you already know this is gonna get dark.