The prosecution performed poorly. The judge seemed biased, The jury deliberations went on for days. The case was political. The defendant was white. America is the land of the gun. So, for what it’s worth, the outcome of the Kyle Rittenhouse case, not guilty on all charges in the Kenosha shootings, is hardly a surprise at this point. In some ways, the trial’s aftermath will be the bigger story. I hope we don’t don’t see violence in the streets. I’m relieved that Rittenhouse is too young for the GOP to run him for Congress. 

(Via Dave Pell’s NextDraft)

Watch Martha Wells and Becky Chambers in Conversation | Tor.com:

… Brookline Booksmith hosted Martha Wells (Fugitive Telemetry) and Becky Chambers (A Psalm for the Wild-Built) in conversation—and now, anyone can watch it! The bookstore has posted their hour-long discussion on YouTube for all to see.

Chambers’ new novella, A Psalm for the Wild-Built, is the story of a tea monk who encounters a robot in the woods. The robots of Panga attained sentience ages ago, and no one has seen one since, but this one has come back to the human world to ask a seemingly simple question: What do people need?

Wells’ latest is an entry into her beloved Murderbot series, which began with 2017’s All Systems Red. This time, Murderbot finds a dead body on Preservation Station and reluctantly assists human security in figuring out what happened.

The two discuss outlining (or not); television watching (Wells, like all wise viewers, enjoys Elementary); how much time Chambers thought about tea while writing Psalm; writing with compassion for your characters; and how excellent it is that more voices are telling their stories in SFF.

A fantastic talk with two authors who’s’ works I enjoy for entirely different reasons but read during the pandemic.

Cannot stress enough how great a TV show Elementary is.

※ Links above are ones I inserted.

In point of fact, these days on 9/11 I don’t tend to think about it much at all, which is I think a healthy thing.

(Via Whatever)

It is healthy to go on. It’s unhealthy how it is pervasive.

Here’s how I plan to spend this 9/11: As if it were an ordinary Saturday, which, god willing, it will be.

I got a haircut, beard trim, and shampoo. I am at a brewery. Later I will cook some dinner.

I will also live my life within the day. Both the remembering and the living are important. The country came to a stop one day, twenty years ago. It’s all right to keep going now.

Me, too.

My issue is with the performative remembering, the “misery porn” aspect, of any tragedy where people chose to let that moment — or any similar tragedy — define them. If one isn’t appropriately miserable on this day, they say, one is somehow less than those who emote strongly.

The Chattanooga Times & Free Press publisher Walter Hussman, Jr. today announced in a letter to subscribers that the paper his family owned for 110 years is going digital-only 6 days a week. Subscribers will get an iPad and will read the Monday through Saturday news through an app. The transition is expected to finish in June, 2022.

This disappoints me.

I’m no Luddite, but I enjoy an analog newspaper reading experience. My morning routine is built around:

  • Starting coffee
  • Getting the paper, even in the rain and snow and dark of night
  • Finishing the coffee
  • Stationing myself in my recliner with blue lights, some focus sounds, and my coffee at hand.
  • Cracking open the paper

When I read the paper, I disassemble it. Interior pages are pulled, sections are folded and remolded depending on where the story continues, and one specific comic is pressed up against the most microscopic lens bit of my bifocals to be able to read the tiny text.

Reading the paper sometimes takes 20 minutes. Sometimes it takes 2 hours.

The remains pile up to the right of my recliner. Sometimes it is a few days before they are interned for recycling. Sometimes they become kindling. Sometimes they are bits I will save. Sometimes they’re packing material, wrapping paper, filler, saved for a friend to use in her yard, a hat, or a broach, or a pterodactyl. The OSS taught agents in the field that one can fold a newspaper in such a way that it can become a dangerous weapon.

Take that, iPad!

I’m disappointed with the publisher’s letter. He states,

Readers told us at first they were dubious and reluctant, but after reading the newspaper on the iPad, a large majority liked it better than the print edition

Reading the news on a tablet, or a phone, or a laptop is a series of compromises (I am a paid digital subscriber to all of the below except for Google News):

  • Apple News is inundated with advertising, is hard to train (I want news, not long form character studies or opinion pieces or the history of the paving tile, on a weekday morning), and makes sharing difficult; lots of low quality sources
  • Google News is full of click bait and advertising; lots of low quality sources
  • The New York Times makes you move back to the main page to move to the next article, and depending on how long that takes you the main page could be refreshed; they also are way too into their multimedia articles which I usually find to be more flash than substance; reading the NYT in the web browser is a better experience, and it shouldn’t be
  • The Washington Post resurfaces the same articles over and over, even if you’ve actually read it; their headline banner photos are huge; the news stream never ends
  • The Wall Street Journal … oddly, might have the best news reading interface I’ve seen in a while: swipe left similar to book reading to page through an article, it moves on to the next one, and when you’re done with a section, then you move back to the main page; it updates the main content once per day

The best app I used was the New York Times Windows 8 app on my old Surface Pro 3 & 4 PCs. It had the navigation the Wall Street Journal has, was easy to use, and the reading experience was the richest I’ve experienced digitally. It was killed of in the mid 2010’s.

The Chattanooga Times & Free Press app is some amalgam of the paper’s digital proof with transcribed copy. One can flip through by article but the reader ends up with a lot of pages that are only captions for pictures or graphs. Bylines are deemphasized. Navigation is overall clunky. Sharing requires an extra blocking interface to let you know things like “the URL has been copied to your clipboard”.

Take today’s paper for example. In case you live under a rock, it has been 20 years since terrorists hijacked planes and killed thousands of Americans. While I will never forget that day and what transpired in its aftermath, I also do not want to relive it through my memories or other’s. This new format does not make it easy to skip what I uncharitably call “misery porn”.

It also makes it hard to skip award show coverage, or the Olympics, or other zeitgeist moments that can quickly overwhelm news. Skimming my eyes over the printed page makes for a better filter than paging through what is essentially a giant PDF.

The other benefits listed are standard tablet features, not something specific to this transition. Again, I’m disappointed with the publisher’s letter. It was disingenuous at best.

I understand the financial realities the paper faces. Chattanooga is fortunate to have a daily paper. I am sad to see the daily print operation go. If this change keeps the paper running for 10, or 20, or 50 years without becoming the click-bait AI generated pseudo news other cities get, I will be happy.

I challenge the Chattanooga Times & Free Press to do better with their “digital paper” in its new form. I will be here to give them guidance. And do keep the Sunday print run for as long as you can.

Long live the news! Long live the Chattanooga Times & Free Press!

And They’re Running
I used to quite like poetry. Don’t tell my Dad, but for one brief moment in college I considered changing my major to poetry from journalism & broadcasting, a degree program he tolerated far more than philosophy (the other brief moment degree change I considered). Then I “got out of the habit” of reading poetry in so far as I read prose pretty much all the time since about 1995. Oh, sure, I would grab a New Yorker or some such and read its bit of poetry on my travels, but it was no longer a part of any kind of regimen or diet.
Recently I signed up for the 3 Quarks Daily RSS feed. I get a regular dose of poetry from it. Some of the poetry I don’t particularly care for, some I do, and to some I find myself indifferent. But I’m reading it, and I like what it is doing to me. Please see the above link for an example of a poem I like.
(Picture via Running in Floresville | HD photo by Jennifer Birdie Shawker (@nursebirdie) on Unsplash)

AI can now easily (8 seconds) change the identity of someone in a film or video.
Multiple services can now scan a few hours of someone’s voice and then fake any sentence in that person’s voice. […]
Don’t buy anything from anyone who calls you on the phone. Careful with your prescriptions. Don’t believe a video or a photo and especially a review. Luxury goods probably aren’t. That fish might not even be what it says it is.
But we need reputation. The people who are sowing the seeds of distrust almost certainly don’t have your best interests in mind-we’ve all been hacked. Which means that a reshuffling is imminent, one that restores confidence so we can be sure we’re seeing what we think we’re seeing. But it’s not going to happen tomorrow, so now, more than ever, it seems like we have to assume we’re being conned.
Sad but true.
What happens after the commotion will be a retrenchment, a way to restore trust and connection, because we have trouble thriving without it.

(Via The end of reputation; photo via Raphael Lovaski on Unsplash)
Apologies to Seth for quoting nearly his whole post, but it’s important and scary.
Neal Stephenson, in his book Fall; Or, Dodge in Hell 🇺🇸 🇯🇵, addresses this very issue of reputation and authenticity. In very simplistic & basic terms, it involves leveraging something like blockchain to “check in” or “sign in” to legitimate things by you or things you control. He also talks about Editors, who are human professional social media filters, which takes us down a different rabbit hole.
As I move my on-line life as much on to platforms I control or trust, I am thinking about how to validate “me” outside of that without that validation coming back to bite me later, assuming such a thing is possible.
What do you think?

So while there are a lot of valid contenders for worst franchise, with a variety of arguments for them, the Detroit Lions have ONE PLAYOFF WIN IN 62 YEARS. I’ve capitalized, italicized, and bolded that phrase for emphasis, and I’d make it blink if I could. One win. How is that even possible? It’s a staggering degree of nonstop ineptitude across multiple generations. It’s possible to be a Social Security- and Medicare-eligible Lions fan and to have witnessed a single, solitary postseason victory. And to know that it was followed a week later by a 41-10 loss in the NFC championship game. There hasn’t been much to cheer for in all these years, either. Calvin Johnson was extraordinary, Barry Sanders was the coolest player ever, and, um, Billy Sims was fun to watch. The other dude to wear No. 20, Lem Barney, was pretty great, too. Beyond that? I’m sure some pedant in the comments will lecture me about the underappreciated exploits of Joe Schmidt or whoever. But everyone else ought to get my drift by now: The Lions haven’t done jack shit since Bobby Layne shoved off to Pittsburgh and settled his last bar tab.
The Lions won the NFL championship three times between 1952 and 1957. Since then, 18 head coaches have guided them into this never-ending hellhole.

(Via I Hereby Declare The Lions The Most Miserable NFL Franchise by Dom Cosentino: picture Lion pulling a tongue | HD photo by Wade Lambert (@wade_lambert) on Unsplash)
Think about that – the level of ineptitude the Lions embody. I love and miss living in Detroit; I do not miss hearing Lions fans ache and moan about the team’s performance on every given Sunday.
By the way, my Dad got to see those glory days in the ’50s. He doesn’t remember them as he was but a tyke. Every Thanksgiving we try to reminisce, but don’t.

The Lions have won just three division titles since the merger. All told, they are 1-12 in playoff games since 1958. Only the Texans (eight) have played in fewer postseason games in all that time, and the Texans didn’t exist until 2002. The Patriots, by contrast, have played more playoff games (14) in _just the last five seasons _than the Lions have in 62 years. What the Lions have accomplished is truly unmatched across the NFL. God help all of you who are doomed to root for them.

God either has nothing OR EVERYTHING to do with it, if you’re into that sort of thinking.
I absolutely love this bit of football hand waving by “Future former head coach” and Chrysler minivan model name inspiration, Mike Patricia:

Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer reported last week that Matt Patricia, who might as well change his title to future former head coach, had a hill built next to the Lions’ team facility. The idea was create a conditioning challenge for the players not unlike the grueling terrain that abuts the Patriots’ practice field–but an unnatural phenomenon in the flat Midwest. Sisyphus himself couldn’t have come up with a better metaphor for this franchise.

This is a fine strategy for all of those NFL football stadia, and especially the team’s own Ford Field, where one or more hills impede the Lions’ forward progress.
There is no hope for the Lions while they are owned by the Ford family. I do not know anyone in Detroit who thinks otherwise.