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abounding with verbosity

Someone Steal This Idea and Do a Kickstarter

A belt clip holster for cell phones, attached a retractable draw string, so that the phone is always attached to the clip, and subsequently the hip. The idea is to prevent accidentally leaving the phone somewhere, which happens to users who have minds that are always in some other place (like mine).

Some high-level specs:

1. Ideally, the phone would hang upside down at the hip, when in the retracted state. So the holster is attached to the beltclip at the bottom.
2. Both the clip and drawstring would have to be rather heavy-duty to hold up against being pulled dozens of times per day.
3. The holster would completely cover the phone, so the face of it should pick up on all the normal gestures used to interact with phone
4. Should have a button to disable retraction, so the thing isn’t tugging at you when you don’t want it to, like when using it as an actual phone that makes calls.
5. BONUS: Drawing or retracting drawstring charges phone.

EDIT: This actually comes pretty close to what I was thinking. The actual holster doesn’t seem too durable, as it is just a sticky backing that holds the phone, as opposed to a pouch. The cord and belt clip seem pretty lightweight, too. Also see this and this.

The Epistemology of the Man-flu

This post was originally titled: “Don’t Tell Me How To Feel About My Own Body,” quotes included. Though that was an obvious appropriation of retarded activist-speak, I couldn’t bear having it so prominently on display. Satirizing activists is a few degrees lower on the cringe-meter than an actual activist, and I don’t have the perpetual self-disregard of a trained actor to actually go through with it.

It turns out man-flu really exists—which, okay. The study looked at male and female mice (the article strangely calls the male mice, “men”), and the dude mice fared worse than the lady mice when injected with influenza. The article helpfully points out that, of mice and men, there are differences.

Studies like this aren’t needed to prove man-flu exists. You simply have to gauge the general reactions of men versus women when they get the flu. Maybe some access to simple statistics could help you along. Pinning the more acute reaction on men just being more whiny gained traction because the hah-hah chumpy sitcom dad trope is funny. Humor is easy to remember, and so is pathos; there’s nothing more acutely and universally pathetic than a whiny adult male. General likelihood doesn’t bear that scenario out though, since biological reactions—something we generally can’t control—happen with more consistency than a mild conspiracy on the part of men the world over to take advantage of their convalescent state. The former is a force of nature, which do not bend to force of will, whereas the latter involves human agency, which is much more variable.

The study isn’t needed because humans have bodily awareness, a field of philosophy that I don’t think is explored very much because it tends to get overrun by the physiology or psychology fields. In the case of “feeling” sick it’s called “intransitive bodily awareness,” since we are dealing with the body perceiving itself rather than objects existing outside of it. The thing of it is, it’s of the surest forms of knowledge we can have, since there’s no middle, interpretive layer between the sickness and the perception of it; the feeling of it is the knowledge of it.

Even in extreme, hypothetical contexts where a man’s awareness is tricked into feeling sick through stimulation of certain parts of the brain, it doesn’t change the fact that the sickness is felt, even after the deception is revealed. In other words, it’s “defeater proof.” If someone were to show me that the dead tree in the lot behind my house was actually a holographic projection, it still doesn’t change the fact that I still see a dead tree, even after knowing it’s not a real tree. I can’t be reasoned out of seeing the tree, just as I (or anyone) couldn’t be reasoned out of feeling a certain way when getting sick, because sense-data isn’t falsifiable*. Even our sitcom dad in question can’t argue with this.

* But perhaps not always. I need to read and think on this.

Sleepathon

I did another hackathon. See photo below for photographic results. I somehow got more sleep than past hackathons, but that’s not saying much.

The local news covered the event (PS- I’m not a CMU student as the title implies). You can try to watch the video but it’s Flash-based and the site takes forever to load, like most affiliate station news sites.

The Soldier Has No Gun

All thirty employees gathered in the carpeted lobby for the first public beta play-through of the game. Becky, the project manager, won—she would say “lost,” after the fact—the shortest straw and was player one.

Silence during the opening cinematic, and a quick cut to the gameplay, an older-style side-scroller shoot-’em-up, made all the more intense with the processing of modern gaming platforms. Becky pushed right on the controller…and immediately stopped, unable to articulate what she just saw.

The solder on the screen stopped also, doing a heavy breathing animation on loop as he “rested.” The fire of the battlefield burned all around him. Becky reluctantly pushed right again. There it was: the soldier, without a gun, lifted his hands, wrists forward in a vulnerable stride, and daintily tiptoed with mincing steps among the rubble.

“Is this a joke?” Becky asked, quiet. Then louder: “Is this a joke?

No one answered. She moved the soldier again, and cringed. “What the fuck is this?”

Someone behind her, she thinks it was Brad, cleared his throat. “We thought—”

“You didn’t think, Brad, or whoever, back there…” Becky said, eyes still jabbing forward in disgust at the smooth, ridiculous running animation. “He has no gun and trots like a little girl. There’s nothing in the story to back any of this up.”

“I know—”

“How did this get so far? Is this team a Hitchcock episode?” Her voice grew louder with each word. She almost dropped the controller. “I mean, does—what the hell! We’re here to make games, not fag up people’s televisions! Does no one else think this was a bad idea? The fuck, guys!”

Becky passed the controller to whomever was sitting next to her and barged out the front doors. Earthworm Jim, a sacred inspiration for her and her career, is the only character remotely allowed to do something like that. A well-muscled, bronzed American fruit with no gun was no Earthworm Jim.

“Orion down yonder”

From Ethan Frome:

It was during their night walks back to the farm that he felt most intensely the sweetness of this communion. He had always been more sensitive than the people about him to the appeal of natural beauty. His unfinished studies had given form to this sensibility and even in his unhappiest moments field and sky spoke to him with a deep and powerful persuasion. But hitherto the emotion had remained in him as a silent ache, veiling with sadness the beauty that evoked it. He did not even know whether any one else in the world felt as he did, or whether he was the sole victim of this mournful privilege. Then he learned that one other spirit had trembled with the same touch of wonder: that at his side, living under his roof and eating his bread, was a creature to whom he could say: “That’s Orion down yonder; the big fellow to the right is Aldebaran, and the bunch of little ones—like bees swarming—they’re the Pleiades…” or whom he could hold entranced before a ledge of granite thrusting up through the fern while he unrolled the huge panorama of the ice age, and the long dim stretches of succeeding time. The fact that admiration for his learning mingled with Mattie’s wonder at what he taught was not the least part of his pleasure. And there were other sensations, less definable but more exquisite, which drew them together with a shock of silent joy: the cold red of sunset behind winter hills, the flight of cloud-flocks over slopes of golden stubble, or the intensely blue shadows of hemlocks on sunlit snow. When she said to him once: “It looks just as if it was painted!” it seemed to Ethan that the art of definition could go no farther, and that words had at last been found to utter his secret soul….

Ebook Sales Trend Downward

Due to screen fatigue…at least in the United Kingdom:

“I wouldn’t say that the ebook dream is over but people are clearly making decisions on when they want to spend time with their screens,” says Stephen Lotinga, chief exeutive of the Publishers Association, which published its annual yearbook on Thursday.

“There is generally a sense that people are now getting screen tiredness, or fatigue, from so many devices being used, watched or looked at in their week. [Printed] books provide an opportunity to step away from that.”

You can’t Netflix the latest edgy one-hour drama or search for Caitlyn Jenner’s eyebrow waxing routine on a static, printed book. Amazon might do well to keep up with pre-fourth generation Kindles, where it was an actual e-book reader and not an iPad clone.

The Philosophy of Ghost in the Shell (1995)

The Wisecrack Youtube channel has a great video on the philosophy of Ghost in the Shell (the original one). It’s actually a very Western movie because it’s Hegelian through and through, and Hegel is as Western philosophy as it gets.

I left a comment on the video that I will cross-post here, for those interested.

Sure, I can explain.

There are numerous instances of Mamoru Oshii using reflections to embody Motoko’s search for her counterpart, or antithesis. Not necessarily with literal mirrors but with imperfect, reflective surfaces like glass or water. If you pay close attention you can maybe pick out a dozen or so instances. An obvious instance of the reflection motif is in the diving scene where Motoko rises to the surface and it looks like she “meets” herself: until the images meet, you can’t really tell who the Major is from her reflection. Her conversation with Batou after that scene goes hand in hand with that kind of confusion.

You’ll notice too that the reflection becomes “reality” when the Puppermaster hacks into the shell, especially where they are laying side-by-side on the museum floor. That was the physical meeting of the thesis and anti-thesis. You’ll also notice that the Major and the Puppetmaster have reverse existences: the Major was a human who became fully robotic except for her brain, while the Puppetmaster was essentially a program looking for a human body to achieve the full range of existence, even death.

Regarding the end scene when the Major-Puppetmaster figure is in the chair inside Batou’s safehouse: there’s a strange shot her in the chair which quickly cuts to the same shot, but a mirror image of it. The second shot is a different kind of quality than the first, so the effect isn’t quite as jarring. This was Oshii’s way of telling us by imagery that the synthesis is complete and the Major and Puppetmaster are now the same being. This scene is examined in this video, at mark 30:40 and onward: /watch?v=l9v8FzQ2btg

Hope that helps.

EDIT: Clarified some things.

EDIT 2: Contrast this with the 2017 Ghost in the Shell, which I also like, though not as much and for different reasons. Both films deal with issues of self-identity, but in different ways: Oshii’s Major lacks an identity because of the nature of her humanity, where ScarJo’s Major lacks an identity because of what others have done to her. In the former, existence is deceptive, in the latter, humanity is deceptive.

EDIT 3: Is Project 2501 a Boltzmann brain?

EDIT 4: No edit. Just a what up to my party peeps.

How It Should’ve Gone

Mustafa sat proudly at the back of the rock outcropping, a paw—with just enough claw extended make the warning explicit—held firmly on the back of Sarabi’s neck. The mandrill, that neurotic mystic, walked out to the edge of the outcropping and held up Mustafa’s infant son, Simba, for all the gathered animals on the ground to see. The signal. The lions, naturally the strongest and the acknowledged instigators, leaped into action, followed a few seconds later by the hyenas. The two factions tore into the group of frantic wildebeests, and the commotion kicked up dust and shreds of wildebeest hide. The meerkats activated and jumped into the collected pile of squirming grubs and bugs. The warthogs came after, alongside the meerkats, but soon the two groups vied against each other for control of the insect pile.

There were other fiefdoms that joined in, but the details of the battle were lost in the fog of war for all those gathered on the promontory. Simba, still aloft in the crazed mandrill’s hands, cooed and giggled at the chaotic Tennysonic battle below.

Mustafa smiled. It was an orchestrated war of all against all in homage to his heir’s future, and the future of his dynasty. His pleasure-sense heightened, and his claw involuntarily extended out farther into Sarabi’s fur. She whimpered and tried to evade the clamp down, which made him tighten all the more. What a wonderful scene, Mustafa thought, ignoring Sarabi’s pained cries. Wonderful. It will make a damn fine movie someday, if they would get it right.

Magicland

Alice was the person in the audience least willing to be called upon, so naturally the magician volunteered her for his first trick. Seated on the stage chair, being so close to the magician—she forgot his name but he looked like a Mark—wasn’t as embarrassing as she expected. It also wasn’t exciting.

He was well-muscled but wore a shirt cut for a fat man, as though he had raided a wardrobe department that was staffed entirely by overhired interns. The shirt was red, maybe maroon, but Mark was the type who would insist on calling it, not even “wine-colored,” but “wine.”

He proceeded with his trick with all the nuance of a supernova in heat. Alice stifled giggles at the absurdity of the scene, but the effort was too much when the head-caressing started. In the sonic space between Mark’s megaphonic chanting, Alice squeaked out a sneezy guffaw that rang loud into the furthest corners of the function room. He didn’t break from the theatrics one bit. Mark, draped in his wine shirt, was a force with which one neither negotiate nor halt.

Steel City Comic Con 2017 Photos

Just what the title says.

Someone from something, and Bucky Barnes from Captain America/Avengers:

Freddy Krueger:

People from a thing:

New-ish Batman and old-school Robin:

A version of Wonder Woman:

Indiana Jones and yours truly:

A Doctor Who (I think), some Harry Potter person, and someone from something:

Eren from Attack on Titan. She even did the salute:

Old-school Batman and Joker:

Diana Prince (Wonder Woman) and Robin:

Goku and two people from something:

Someone from Harry Potter:

Deadpool:

Deadpool/Sailor Moon mashup (?) and Captain America:

Ash from Pokémon:

A scout trooper and Jessica Rabbit:

Yours truly and Hulk Hogan:

Negan from The Walking Dead and someone:

Jason from Friday the 13th and a Harry Potter person:

Rey and Kylo Ren without the helmet:

Reppert, a Ghostbuster:

Rey. She had a great lightsaber:

Belle and Gaston from Beauty and the Beast:

Boba Fett, one of my favorite costumes. He even had an intercom-type speaker so he could talk while the helmet was on…sounded like the real thing:

People from something:

Kylo Ren:

Negan (that’s marker stubble on his face), hitting yours truly’s daughter, who is dressed as John Egbert from Homestuck. The fellow on the right said he was Despair, but he has a mask of Glenn from The Walking Dead on.

Waldo and horse-banana:

Rey, Luke Skywalker, and a rolling BB-8! I liked Luke’s puttees:

Kylo Ren:

Thor and Loki. They were huge:

No-Face and Chihiro/Sen from Spirited Away. True to character, No-Face even gave gold away to everyone.

Someone:

John Egbert, Dirk Strider, and Dave Strider, from Homestuck:

Not pictured: a great Darth Vader costume, that was as good as the Boba Fett one. It was a bad picture that I accidentally deleted.

Fun times.