Thus revealed, the creature buried its nose in the tire-tilled soil...
July 7, 2018
“Finest Hour” makes my mood sour
Category: Linkage … Miscellany

So right now I have a free Sirius XM trial going on. I generally enjoy these trials -- if nothing else, they give me new artists and songs to search for on Freegal -- but occasionally they'll devote significant airtime to a song that I can't flipping stand. (I realize this is a problem with radio in general; I just don't tend to listen to the radio outside of free Sirius trials. 😛 )

Anyway, currently I'm hating on "Finest Hour" by Cash Cash and featuring Abir. It actually has a decent sound -- it's the lyrics that bug the flip out of me, or maybe it's that the lyrics don't fit the sound. Like, I get how the song could be identifiable to a lot of listeners; we all probably have moments when we know we're not at our best and would probably prefer to just keep drinking and forget about everything even as with slurred voices we beg our loved ones not to give up on us. As a more melancholy-sounding track (and perhaps ideally one I wasn't hearing while driving), this would work for me.

But "Finest Hour" is apparently a dance track since they keep playing it on BPM and it never fails to tick me off. To me, dance tracks in general should be stuff I can rock out to and identify with in the moment, and in the moment I rarely feel like I am fucking up -- that's generally quieter, past-tense reflection. (For an "I fucked up" song I enjoy: try "Jack's Lament" from the Nightmare Before Christmas soundtrack, and even that ends on a comparatively triumphant note.) And if I do feel like I am fucking up in the moment, it's not a feeling that makes me want to dance (or bounce around in my seat as I zoom down the highway with the windows open). It is a feeling that makes me want to pour myself another drink or write sad posts on social media or maybe go to sleep regardless of the hour, and this bouncy shit decidedly lacks lullaby appeal.

Tl;dr: I dislike this song immensely and intensely.

-posted by Wes | 6:00 pm | Comments (0)
May 14, 2018
Spikes are definitely hostile design elements…
Category: Linkage … Miscellany

I just learned about "hostile design" today (via BBC Trending), and I'm finding it really fascinating. On the one hand, you have design features that could be useful to some groups but harmful to others: for example, railing on benches can provide support for the elderly (or just make for relaxing armrests for anyone reclining upright) but prevent homeless people from sleeping on the benches. And then you have other features that seem designed only to prevent people from using the item in an "undesirable" fashion, like benches with awkwardly placed bars that clearly aren't intended to provide support or comfort to anyone and therefore definitely discourage horizontal repose. Hostiledesign.org has a number of photos of especially egregious examples of the latter; apparently NYC designers love putting spikes on surfaces to keep people from lying or even sitting on them. It's terrible, and yet I can't help being impressed by the diabolical ingenuity and audacity of some of these approaches. SPIKES. Victor von Doom approves.

-posted by Wes | 4:56 pm | Comments (0)
March 11, 2018
Xi Jinping: China’s President for Life
Category: Current Events … Linkage

From BBC News: China's Xi allowed to remain 'president for life' as term limits removed

So I am obviously (thankfully?) not a Chinese citizen and don't entirely understand Chinese culture, but this seems insane to me. The video in the article struck me as particularly unsettling -- whereas the folks questioned kept saying that the change exemplifies China's democratic nature, it seems like a move away from democratic norms to me. (Not that China is at all "democratic" according to our definition of the term, but whatever.) The voting results: "two delegates voted against the change and three abstained, out of 2,964 votes." Can you imagine that kind of consensus with respect to any issue in the US?

I also want to blame Trump for this -- note that other countries have used his election and subsequent performance to condemn the idea of Western-style democracy, because in such a democracy it's possible for the people to elect a buffoon. I wonder about the extent to which China's move to allow Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely stemmed from observations of the chaos of our current executive branch. And, of course, Trump praised the change and jokingly (I hope) suggested that we should give that a try. He would.

But maybe Xi Jinping is such a capable and selfless ruler that it will be better for China and the world at large for him to remain president for life. I don't know. Time will tell.

-posted by Wes | 5:00 pm | Comments (0)
February 23, 2018
NYT: Frederick Douglass vs Scientific Racism

This opinion piece in the New York Times -- "Frederick Douglass's Fight Against Scientific Racism" -- is decidedly worth reading.

Of course, "scientific" racism persists in 2018, as one repeatedly learns after delving into the comments of any of the laudatory articles Trump links on his Twitter feed. The final paragraph, which quotes from one of Douglass's final speeches, also rings true today: on more than one occasion I've heard (well-meaning, I hope/assume) white people of my acquaintance who, in noting the depressed state of many minority communities, have wondered why "they" continue to struggle and asked what should be done about "them."

And for readers who haven't seen the movie yet (note that I'm not attempting to shame you for not having seen it yet; apparently that's a thing happening elsewhere on the interwebs), forgive me for the spoiler -- but Black Panther concludes with an especially relevant quote on that point. In a speech to the United Nations, the titular character remarks, "More connects us than separates us -- but in times of crisis, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one tribe."

It's a sentiment that runs counter to much of our current political discourse, what with "BUILD. THE. WALL!" serving as a rallying cry for our current commander in chief, but it is a sentiment that we would all do well to adopt.

-posted by Wes | 12:44 am | Comments (0)
July 24, 2013
Ducks are horrifying nightmare creatures.
Category: Linkage … Miscellany

Well, today I learned that ducks are -- or are prone to becoming -- cannibals. This passage (from the NSW Department of Primary Industries Agriculture website) is particularly chilling:

"Although cannibalism can begin in ducks of any age, ducklings over 4 weeks old are more prone to develop this vice. The underlying reasons for birds turning to cannibalism are not known, but it is associated with boredom..."

Duck cannibalism is associated with BOREDOM, people. Somebody get those ducks some knitting needles STAT.1

Check out this blog entry on Real Clear Science for a firsthand account of duck cannibalism, and here's the horrific "Scientifically Accurate DuckTales" video that sent me down this corkscrew-shaped road to nightmares in the first place.2

  1. That said, ducks are also apparently rapists and necrophiliacs. So riddle me this: how do they ever get bored?!? 
  2. Though I already knew about the corkscrew penises and labyrinthine vaginas. *shudder* 
-posted by Wes | 2:14 am | Comments (0)
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