TNH's Particles
* The Bobblehead Project.
* John Holbo's review of David Frum's Dead Right.
* Mormon Transhumanist Association.
* Howard Rheingold quotes.
* Ignaz Trebitsch-Lincoln.
* How to invest when no one really knows what to do.
* If the Moon were only 1 pixel.
* Ignatius Timothy Trebitsch-Lincoln.
* Make a plan to vote with Biden and Obama.
* Jon Stewart's Twitter war with Donald Trump.
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PNH's Sidelights
* "So Much Cooking," by Naomi Kritzer
* Come On, You Live In a Society
* Clive James, 1939-2019.
* Robert Hunter, 1941-2019
* Betty Ballantine, 1919-2019
* Carol Emshwiller, 1921-2019
* Harlan Ellison, 1934-2018
* Efrain Rios Montt is dead. Greatest Easter ever.
* John Perry Barlow, 1947-2018
* Ursula K. Le Guin, 1929-2018
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Abi's Parhelia
* The Embroidered Computer
* What to do when you feel awful & nothing seems to make sense: identifying & navigating gaslighting.
* History of Ball Bearings [PDF]
* Universal basic income trials being considered in Scotland
* Basic Income - from utopian vision to policy proposition to movement
* How do liberals halt the march of the right? Stand our ground and toughen up
* Opposition in the Age of Gish Gallops
* Schneier on the next four years
* Thomas Merton's letter to a young activist
* EU negotiators will offer Brits an individual opt-in to remain EU citizens, chief negotiator confirms
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Avram's Phosphenes
Missing Sounds of NY
How Monopolies Broke the Federal Reserve
We Made a Song Our King
A Guide to Weird Leftist Internet Slang
How did world newspapers handle the translation of Scaramucci’s tirade?
Hayao Miyazaki’s Cosmologics
So a Nazi Walks Into an Iron Bar: the Meyer Lansky Story
Now is the Time to Talk About What we are Actually Talking About
Anil Dash on the work that needs to be done now
Autocracy: Rules for Survival
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Commonplaces
“We are prophets of a future not our own.” (Oscar Romero)

“Peace means something different from ‘not fighting’. Those aren’t peace advocates, they’re ‘stop fighting’ advocates. Peace is an active and complex thing and sometimes fighting is part of what it takes to get it.” (Jo Walton)

“Fascism doesn’t look like jackboots dragging a man off a plane. It looks like people defending it.” (Emily Gorcenski)

“You really think that safety can be plucked from the arms of an evil deed?” (Darla, “Inside Out”)

“Forgiveness requires giving up on the possibility of a better past.” (unknown)

“The whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature.” (Arthur D. Hlavaty)

“Terror consists mostly of useless cruelties perpetrated by frightened people in order to reassure themselves.” (Friedrich Engels)

“Any sufficiently advanced neglect is indistinguishable from malice.” (Deb Chachra)

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of believing that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“You don't owe the internet your time. The internet does not know this, and will never learn.” (Quinn Norton)

“Great writing is the world's cheapest special effect.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Everyone gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” (Gertrude Stein)

“Very few people are stupid. It’s just that the world really is that difficult and you can’t continually be careful.” (Quinn Norton)

“Armageddon is not around the corner. This is only what the people of violence want us to believe. The complexity and diversity of the world is the hope for the future.” (Michael Palin)

“Just because you’re on their side doesn’t mean they’re on your side.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“The fact that ‘there are only a handful of bad cops’ cuts no ice with me. If ‘only a handful of McDonald’s are spitting in your food,’ you’re not going to McDonald’s.” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“Young men and women, educated very carefully to be apolitical, to be technicians who thought they disliked politics, making them putty in the hands of their rulers, like always.” (Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars)

“The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists.” (G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday)

“When liberty is mentioned, we must observe whether it is not really the assertion of private interests.” (Hegel)

“History is the trade secret of science fiction.” (Ken MacLeod)

“But isn’t all of human history simultaneously a disaster novel and a celebrity gossip column?” (Anonymous LJ commenter)

“I see now that keen interest can illuminate anything, and that anything, moreover, has something worth illuminating in it, and that without that interest gates carved by Benvenuto Cellini from two diamonds would merely look chilly.” (Lord Dunsany)

“I grieve for the spirit of Work, killed by her evil child, Workflow.” (Paul Ford)

“The opposite of ‘serious’ isn't ‘funny.’ The opposite of both ‘serious’ and ‘funny’ is ‘squalid.’” (R. A. Lafferty)

“Ki is, of course, mystical bullshit. That’s why it works so well, both as a teaching idiom and a tool of practice in martial arts. It’s as nonexistent as charm, leadership, or acting. Humans are all about bullshit.” (Andrew Plotkin)

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” (Charles Kingsley)

“Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even when the plan is horrifying.” (The Joker)

“Hope has two daughters, anger and courage. They are both lovely.” (attributed to St. Augustine)

“Plot is a literary convention. Story is a force of nature.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“This movie has way too much plot getting in the way of the story.” (Joe Bob Briggs)

“If there is no willingness to use force to defend civil society, it’s civil society that goes away, not force.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Always side with the truth. It’s much bigger than you are.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Listen, here’s the thing about politics: It’s not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.” (Tony Kushner)

“I don’t want politicians who are ‘above politics,’ any more then I want a plumber who’s ‘above toilets.’” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.” (Otto von Bismarck)

“Every organization appears to be headed by secret agents of its opponents.” (Robert Conquest)

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” (Anne Lamott)

“Nothing makes one so vain as being told that one is a sinner.” (Oscar Wilde)

“Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical science-fiction cowboy detective novel.” (Alan Moore)

“See everything, overlook a great deal, improve a little.” (John XXIII)

“You will never love art well, until you love what she mirrors better.” (John Ruskin)

“Having a smallpox vaccine scar is like walking around with the moon landing and the Sistine Chapel on your upper arm.” (Angus Johnston)

“They lied to you. The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and, in moving, he always returns whence he came.” (Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose)

“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” (Jay Gould)

“The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.” (George Eliot, Middlemarch)

“Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.” (Mark Twain)

“Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don’t struggle to get them right.” (Stephen Jay Gould)

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” (Gustav Mahler)

“A socialist is just someone who is unable to get over his or her astonishment that most people who have lived and died have spent lives of wretched, fruitless, unremitting toil.” (Terry Eagleton)

“But this kind of deference, this attentive listening to every remark of his, required the words he uttered to be worthy of the attention they excited—a wearing state of affairs for a man accustomed to ordinary human conversation, with its perpetual interruption, contradiction, and plain disregard. Here everything he said was right; and presently his spirits began to sink under the burden.” (Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander)

“Hatred is a banquet until you recognize you are the main course.” (Herbert Benson)

“For a Westerner to trash Western culture is like criticizing our nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere on the grounds that it sometimes gets windy, and besides, Jupiter’s is much prettier. You may not realize its advantages until you’re trying to breathe liquid methane.” (Neal Stephenson)

“‘There are no atheists in foxholes’ isn’t an argument against atheism, it’s an argument against foxholes.” (James Morrow)

“And after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:12)

“The man who tries to make the flag an object of a single party is a greater traitor to that flag than any man who fires at it.” (Lloyd George)

“The United States behaves like a salesman with a fantastic product who tries to force people to buy it at gunpoint.” (Emma of Late Night Thoughts)

“I’m a fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberal, and I think fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberalism is an ideological stance that needs defending—if necessary, with a hob-nailed boot-kick to the bollocks of budding totalitarianism.” (Charles Stross)

“The real test of any claim about freedom, I’ve decided, is how far you’re willing to go in letting people be wrong about it.” (Bruce Baugh)

“As with bad breath, ideology is always what the other person has.” (Terry Eagleton)

“Only he who in the face of all this can say ‘In spite of all!’ has the calling for politics.” (Max Weber)

“No, it’s not fair. You’re in the wrong universe for fair.” (John Scalzi)

“I don’t understand death, but I got hot dish down pretty good.” (Marissa Lingen)

“Skepticism is the worst form of gullibility.” (John “adamsj” Adams)

“We have a backstage view of ourselves and a third-row view of everybody else.” (Garrison Keillor)

“The Reign of Sin is more universal, the influence of unconscious error is less, than historians tell us.” (Lord Acton)

“All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them.” (H. L. Mencken)

“Tomorrow never happens. It’s all the same fucking day, man.” (Janis Joplin)

“Words are always getting conventionalized to some secondary meaning. It is one of the works of poetry to take the truants in custody and bring them back to their right senses.” (W. B. Yeats)

“It is a little embarrassing that, after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give to people is to be a little kinder to each other.” (Aldous Huxley)

“Never believe in a meritocracy in which no one is funny-looking.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if it were unrelentingly assessed in terms of his maleness; if everything he wore, said, or did had to be justified by reference to female approval [...] If he gave an interview to a reporter, or performed any unusual exploit, he would find it recorded in such terms as these: ‘Professor Bract, although a distinguished botanist, is not in any way an unmanly man. He has, in fact, a wife and seven children. Tall and burly, the hands with which he handles his delicate specimens are as gnarled and powerful as those of a Canadian lumberjack, and when I swilled beer with him in his laboratory, he bawled his conclusions at me in a strong, gruff voice that implemented the promise of his swaggering moustache.’” (Dorothy L. Sayers)

“Grown ups are what’s left when skool is finished.” (Nigel Molesworth)

“If you don't like the ‘blame game,’ it’s usually because you’re to blame.” (Jon Stewart)

“Slang is for a war of signals.” (Unknown semiotician/palindromist)

“Science fiction is an argument with the world. When it becomes (solely) an argument within science fiction, it breathes recycled air.” (Ken MacLeod)

“I really don’t know what you do about the ‘taxes is theft’ crowd, except possibly enter a gambling pool regarding just how long after their no-tax utopia comes true that their generally white, generally entitled, generally soft and pudgy asses are turned into thin strips of Objectivist Jerky by the sort of pitiless sociopath who is actually prepped and ready to live in the world that logically follows these people’s fondest desires.” (John Scalzi)

“So whenever a libertarian says that capitalism is at odds with the state, laugh at him. It’s like saying that the NFL is ‘at war’ with football fields. To be a libertarian is to say that God or the universe marked up that field, squirted out the pigskins from the bowels of the earth, and handed down the playbooks from Mt. Sinai.” (Connor Kilpatrick)

“True religion invites us to become better people. False religion tells us that this has already occurred.” (Abdal-Hakim Murad)

“Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak.” (John “Second US President” Adams)

“There is a document that records God’s endless, dispiriting struggle with organized religion, known as the Bible.” (Terry Eagleton)

“There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part; and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop, And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, the people who own it, that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all.” (Mario Savio)

“Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others.” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“To live is to war against the trolls.” (Henrik Ibsen)

“There is at the back of all our lives an abyss of light, more blinding and unfathomable than any abyss of darkness; and it is the abyss of actuality, of existence, of the fact that things truly are, and that we are ourselves incredibly and sometimes almost incredulously real.” (G. K. Chesterton)

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)

“It’s just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.” (Bill Hicks)

“I don’t think we have a language, will ever have a language, that can describe transcendence in any useful way and I am aware that that transcendence may be nothing more than the illusory aspiration of a decaying piece of meat on a random rock. The thing is to be humble enough to be content with that while acting to other people as generously as if better things were true, and making art as if it might survive and do good in the world. Because what else are we going to do with the few short years of our life?” (Roz Kaveney)

“I hate living in a satirical dystopia.” (Arthur Hlavaty)

“No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (Samuel Beckett)

“Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying.” (Iain Banks)

“If it doesn’t connect with people around you who aren’t like you, it isn’t politics.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

April 09, 2020
“‘The days of your life’ refers to in-game time…”
Posted by Avram Grumer at 07:44 PM * 9 comments

Blacow* speaks of four players: the Wargamer, the Power-Gamer, the Role-Player, and the Story-Teller.

The Wargamer, what does he say? “What foe do we fight, and what is the lay of the land?” You, in turn, shall describe the battlefield, and challenge his tactical abilities, including the morale check for his henchmen.

The Role-Player, what does he say? “This is what my character would do!” By using his character motivations as an excuse to indulge his antisocial behavior, he has placed his own enjoyment ahead of the other players’. You will rattle his dice by saying, “That is not how we do it at my table;” — “my table,” not his table, because if he keeps this up, he won’t be invited back!

The Power-Gamer, what does he say? “Where is the loot?” Thus you shall say to him: “With clever play and good fortune, you may win your way to treasure and XP.”

As for the Story-Teller, you must develop a plot thread for him to follow, as it is said, “It is because of this that your character finds himself in a predicament…”

* “Aspects of Adventure Gaming,” Glenn F Blacow, Different Worlds #10, Oct/Nov 1980

March 24, 2020
Surrounded
Posted by Patrick at 07:25 AM * 83 comments

Reading about all the people venturing that maybe it would be better to stop the social distancing and reopen the businesses, because tHe dAmAge tO tHe EcOnoMy is So mUcH wOrSe thAn A fEw MiLliOn dEaThS. As someone on Twitter put it, “throwing millions of people into a volcano to appease the Market God.”

I find myself remembering all the times I’ve heard people in the science fiction world, including eminent authors, muse that it would probably be for the best to have some big die-off events. I suspect that at least one in three Americans believes this. I suspect I have friends and colleagues who quietly believe this.

I can’t stop thinking about it. I feel surrounded by ghouls.

March 19, 2020
Open thread 223
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:01 PM * 208 comments

So now the rest of the world is discovering virtual communities. I’m feeling very hipster; we were doing it before it was cool.

What are some of your favorite resources? I want to point out Jo Walton’s Decameron project on Patreon (free, but contributions encouraged) and Ada Palmer’s #SomethingBeautiful hashtag on Twitter.

As they say here in the Netherlands, sterkte, strength, in these difficult days. May we flatten the curve by sheer force of love. May wisdom dwell in the roofs of our mouths and slip out of our sleeves onto our keyboards. May we love what’s lost and love what is to come. May we repair what breaks, make it better than before. May we go ever onward.

December 31, 2019
Low, dishonest decade
Posted by Patrick at 07:13 PM * 35 comments

I largely gave up political blogging after November 8, 2016, when it became obvious that I have no idea what I’m talking about. I still don’t think anyone should pay any attention to what I think.

If you’re still reading, here are some of the things I recently thought were smart. Keep in mind that I’m an idiot.

Politics is for Power, Not Consumption, by Eitan Hersh. The bullshit performative stuff we do online isn’t politics, it’s just cosplay. “If you feel unfulfilled, melancholy, paralyzed by the sadness of the news and depth of our political problems, there is an alternative: actually doing politics. Citizens who want to empower their political values would be better off if they spent less time consuming politics as at-home amateurs and instead fell in line to help strengthen organizations and leaders. Rather than kibitzing with their social media friends, they could adopt some of the spirit of the party regulars, counting votes and building interpersonal relationships in their neighborhoods.”

Twitter thread by Jonathan Smucker, author of Hegemony How-To: A Roadmap for Radicals, which I’m reading and which is so far very good. “Being right wins you exactly nothing if you have no power.” “If you don’t choose your battles, your opponents will choose them for you.” “Revelations of misdeeds of the powerful induce only popular resignation if there is no viable counter-power to take advantage of the opening.” More.

Jane McAlevey, How to Organize Your Friends and Family on Thanksgiving. Step by step, how to talk to normal human beings without being the sanctimonious leftist prick everybody hates. Not coincidentally, written by a brilliant modern union organizer. I’m reading her No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age and it’s terrific.

We Have to Take the Roses Seriously: Talking to Nathan J. Robinson. Interview with the very smart editor and publisher of the wonderfully-named Current Affairs, whose writing I’ve been generally bingeing on. “That great Terry Eagleton quote comes to mind, describing a socialist as ‘just someone who is unable to get over his or her astonishment that most people who have lived and died have spent lives of wretched, fruitless, unremitting toil.’ So I’d begin from that kind of disgust with certain features of the world, certain things that happen to some of us, certain ways that workers get treated. If we can agree that people should meaningfully participate in the decisions that affect their lives, then ‘Do you like the fact that if you drop below packing some set number of boxes per hour, a robot will fire you?’ they probably would say: ‘No, that’s not a process I personally would have established.’”

Hoping for hope. Happy new year.

November 15, 2019
The revival of John M. Ford
Posted by Patrick at 06:23 AM * 84 comments

Just posted to Slate, by Isaac Butler: The Disappearance of John M. Ford.

Key takeaway to Making Light readers who remember John M. “Mike” Ford’s brilliant run as a co-blogger here: Tor will, indeed, be reissuing all of Mike’s novels, plus a new collection of short fiction and marginalia. We’ll also be publishing, for the first time, his unfinished final novel Aspects.

Huge thanks to the Ford family and to Tor executive editor Beth Meacham, who worked out this deal over the space of nearly a year. We could not possibly be more excited.

The program will begin with The Dragon Waiting in late 2020, then Aspects in early 2021.

Obviously, this program will not include Mike’s work written inside somebody else’s IP, such as, for instance, his two Star Trek novels.

Further schedule details will be forthcoming as we finalize them.

September 04, 2019
Hot times in the British Parliament
Posted by Teresa at 05:37 AM * 122 comments

I should be explaining what’s been going on in the British Parliament, with links and explanations. Unfortunately I can’t, because Patrick and I spent the evening talking about it, finding bits of good stuff to read aloud to each other, and cooking and eating dinner. This was irresponsible of us, because how often does one get to use the word “prorogue”?

What’s going on: Boris Johnson is trying to drag the UK through a (“catastrophic”, says anyone sensible) hard Brexit departure, the kind where there are no arrangements between the UK and the EU about how to handle this change. He also thought that in the meantime, it would be a good idea to prorogue Parliament — that is, get Parliament to shut down and do no business — until after the hard exit was a done deal.

I wasn’t the first person to observe that the last guy who went to that much trouble to keep Parliament from doing business lost his head.

Then Parliament rebelled. Ancient much-respected Tory stalwarts voted against the government, despite the threat to (less exciting than it sounds) “withdraw the whip.” In a dramatic gesture, while Johnson was speaking and waving his arms around, Tory MP Phillip Lee silently walked across the room to sit with the Liberal Democrats, thus costing the Tories their one-vote majority. Johnson was reduced to calling for a snap national election in mid-October, but that actually requires approval by a two-thirds majority, and the leaders of both Labour and the LibDems — who rarely act in such coordination — agreed that they weren’t going to give Johnson his election before Parliament passes a bill ruling out a no-deal exit. It was Boris Johnson’s first serious fight in Parliament, and he lost big. Theresa May was photographed this evening leaving Parliament with a big grin on her face.

I abjectly apologize for being so tired, but Patrick kept finding one irresistible story, after another. Feel free to post links to anything good that you find. I’ll see you first thing in the morning.

[Update from pnh: Teresa was in fact so tired that she didn’t actually publish this last night. Posting it for her now.]

August 03, 2019
Who we are
Posted by Patrick at 10:44 PM * 73 comments

Nobody reads this blog any more. But do read Kieran Healy.

A fundamental lesson of Sociology is that, in the course of making everyday life seem orderly and sensible, arbitrary things are made to seem natural and inevitable. Rituals, especially the rituals of childhood, are a powerful way to naturalize arbitrary things. As a child in Ireland, I thought it natural to take the very body of Christ in the form of a wafer of bread on my tongue. My own boy and girl, in America, think it natural that a school is a place where you must know what to do when someone comes there to kill the children.
As we used to wearily say back in the day: Read the fucking rest.
June 21, 2019
Open thread 222
Posted by Avram Grumer at 02:08 PM * 1124 comments

The year 222 BCE saw the Roman Emperor Elagabalus assassinated by the Praetorian Guard, to be replaced by Alexander Severus, who was only 13 years old, young enough to have attended Hogwarts and studied potions under a teacher with whom he had a name in common.

Or, alternatively, to have attended the fictional Walt Whitman High School in Los Angeles, where he might have learned about the assassination of his predecessor in a history class in Room 222.