Offered without comment

Police Blotter: Man Who Is “Too High” Aggressively Plays Instruments At Guitar Center; Man And Woman Hit Each Other With Hair Iron:

Police responded to a disorder at the Guitar Center on Hamilton Place Boulevard. The manager told police that a black male, wearing a black baseball hat with an American flag, blue shirt with stars and jeans, came into the business and began aggressively playing the drums and other instruments, causing a scene. She said she asked him if he could continue playing the instruments in a more calm manner. He said he was “too high” and began to argue with her, at which point she asked him to leave. She said she wanted him trespassed from the property, but he was no longer on scene for police to do so.

* * *

A man on Ivy Street told police that a woman had taken his phone and driven away. The man had two cuts on his hand that he said the woman gave him with a hair iron. He said that she was driving him home, and when they arrived at his grandparents’ house, he asked her to take him to another address. He said she refused to take him anywhere else, and when he exited the vehicle and went inside, he realized that his phone was gone. He called police and then began chasing the woman on foot. He said when he caught up with her to retrieve his phone, she got her hair iron from the trunk and struck him with it. He said he then grabbed it from her hand and hit her in the leg. The man said he did not want to press any charges. The woman told police that when they arrived at his grandparents’ house, he refused to get out of the vehicle and requested to be taken to his friend’s house. She said she refused and he took the keys from the ignition and ran out of the car. She said she then chased him around the house to get the keys back and returned to her vehicle, opened the trunk and retrieved her hair iron. She said that at some point he struck her and she retrieved the iron to hit him. She said he then took it from her and hit her on the front of her leg. The woman was unwilling to show police her injury or take a picture of it. She had no other injuries or bruising. She did not want to press any charges against him. She pulled up in her vehicle shortly after police arrived on scene. The man’s phone was in her vehicle and it was returned to him. As there were no witnesses to the event, both of them admitted to striking the other, and neither was willing to press charges in a mutual combative instance, both of them left the area separately and stated they would not be contacting each other.

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

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.

Childhood memories

Childhood memories

On nicknames:

My parents gave me PJ for Paul Junior. Most people I met when I went by PJ assumed it meant (Paul | Peter) (James | John | Jehosephat | something J-based). No one seemed to puzzle out the last name as a possibility.

When I reached middle school and moved halfway across the country I tried a brother’s name on for size. It did not fit.

In sports, I was Jorgy. On radio, I was Bob.

On developing a mantra:

It developed over time. For most of my life I took things way too seriously. One day I was golfing with my family, riding in a golf cart with my brother. We watched our Dad totally lose his shit on one bad shot after another – playing a game.

It took over a decade of work but eventually I landed on: “if this is the worst thing that happens to me today, I’m ok”.

On favorite books:

I have too many to name. Tolkien’s oeuvre, Asimov’s Foundation, Herbert’s Dune, and a wide assortment beyond those, and not just SciFi/Fantasy.

On free-range memories:

Free-range was the status-quo when I was a kid. I remember walking to school by myself to kindergarten. I remember playing in the water in the street during thunderstorms. We rode unbuckled in cars. My siblings and cousins flailed around in our grandfather’s pickup truck bed on the way to … everything. None of this is ok today.

I also adventured through forests, spent afternoons in friends’ pools, found turtle remains at the edge of a swamp, made forts in trees, swam in a river, messed with geese (a mistake), ice skated on a pond, caught trout and crayfish, put out a fire, and dozens of other empowering and stupid things.

On feeling grown up:

We lived near Lake Michigan. On the weekends my Mom & Dad would take the boat out with me and my siblings as deck hands. Often we would troll for salmon – driving very slow back and forth with some heavy lines in the water. One magical weekend I was no longer obligated to go. I stayed up late the night before watching Monty Python and then slept in the next morning. I got very good at sleeping in.

On curse words:

I’m fairly certain the first time I swore was an infamous event at my friend Ray’s house the first time I visited. I don’t remember what I said, but Ray heard it. More importantly, his mother heard it. I’m not sure she ever forgot it.

On feeling bittersweet:

I lived in Tokyo for 3 years. I miss the people, the food, the culture, the trains, and about one thousand other bits. I do not miss being on a train and having older people yell at me about the war or people changing seats if I sat next to them. I might not understand bittersweet, and this did not happen when I was a kid.

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A Mini upgrade?

Apple announced a new iPad Mini.

As described here I set aside an iPad Pro for a Mini early last year. That was one of many steps to a smaller, more modular compute platform.

How might this new Mini help with that?

Intriguing

… with a larger 8.3-inch Liquid Retina display … Featuring the brand new A15 Bionic chip … A new USB-C port … and cellular models with 5G … [edited to get rid of most of the marketing – pj]

The Mini plays key roles for me:

At home it is my primary on-line news reading device. When I finish reading my soon-to-depart analog paper I fire up my articulated-arm-clipped Mini. I read my digital subscriptions on it.

When I travel it is my chief media consumption device on sometimes cramped conveyance, like airplanes and Japanese commuter & subway trains.

I’ve long been a fan of the iPad mini, especially for travel. It’s so compact, yet very powerful for almost everything you would want an iPad to do.

(via The Loop)

Around town the Mini is my “laptop” with the Japanese Magic Keyboard and Magic Trackpad I carry in my Tom Bihn Le Grand Derrière.

Across all of my use cases, one key aspect of the new iPad Mini model will help me: the display is brighter. I have a privacy shield on my current Mini, but even before I applied it the display seemed dim. I’ll be happy for the extra light when I need it.

The other key aspect I use my Mini for is listening to podcasts. Nothing changes there.

Less intriguing

The Mini comes … 

… in four gorgeous finishes. … New advanced cameras, Center Stage, and support for Apple Pencil (2nd generation) enable new ways for users to capture photos and videos, communicate with loved ones, and jot down their ideas when creativity strikes. [I left in the marketing – pj]

In addition to the deëmphasis on Lightning connectors my OG Apple Pencil would need to be replaced as well.

The Mini comes in colors, which will be unseen with the obligatory case, unless a viable transparent option exists.

The cameras on mobile devices always disappoint and more so on tablets, thus one reason why I reëntered the digital camera owners realm. Center Stage is “neat”, but most of my colleagues on most of my video calls leave their cameras off. Unless I plan on speaking I leave mine off as well.

Bottom Line

Will I buy this upgrade? Eventually

Will I buy it day 1? Unlikely

Will I buy it before my next international or long haul business trip? Probably

Will I wait for it to start to be discounted? No

What about the rest of the Apple announcements? They’re not for me at this time

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On Blogging As Thinking Out Loud

Weekly Musings 127 – On Blogging As Thinking Out Loud:

By embracing what Tom Critchlow calls small ‘b’ blogging, a blog can be a medium for thinking out loud.

What do I mean by thinking out loud? Putting ideas and thoughts out on to the fields of the web. Those ideas and thoughts don’t need to be fully formed. They can just be the seeds that you scatter in the the soil of your blog. Those ideas and thoughts can be plants that you tend. They can be ones that you let wither. Or they can be something you uproot and transfer somewhere else.

Those thoughts that you think aloud can be mutable — they change, they grow, they adopt new forms as you learn more and as you think more deeply. You can also abandon those thoughts because they don’t interest you as much as they once did or because they’ve led you to an intellectual or emotional dead end.

You can use your blog to continue exploring that thoughts and ideas that take root, that capture your imagination. It’s a process that can take weeks, months, or even years before your thoughts and ideas take their final form.

But you’re not limited keeping your thoughts and ideas on the blog once they coalesce …

You can use a blog to test your ideas and thoughts in the crucible of public opinion. Posting those ideas and thoughts on a blog can be the catalyst for engagement. It can be an opportunity to expand on an idea or take it on a tangent via interaction with others. There’s also the potential for being battered about by trolls, but that’s a hazard of modern online life isn’t it? … 

By thinking out loud on the web, you might get someone else thinking about the ideas that you’re putting out there. That could be friend or follower, or a stranger from the other side of the world who stumbled upon your blog thanks to a happy accident. That interaction and engagement, in turn, might get you thinking more deeply about your ideas. Maybe even ideas that you set aside because you didn’t think they had a grip on your imagination.

That said, the blog you use to think out loud doesn’t need to be for a wide audience. It can just be for yourself and those closest to you. The blog can be a public notebook or space, kind of like a digital garden. You can refer to it whenever you want, wherever you are. Unlike keeping idea in notebook or in a note taking tool &mdash in which ideas can easily get buried under pile of notes many of us take each day — your thoughts and ideas are out there to remind you of them. Unless you publish to your blog several times a day, those thoughts and ideas won’t be so easily mislaid.

There are no stakes involved in using a blog to think out loud. You have a space, maybe public and maybe private, to exercise your thoughts and ideas. You have a chance to let those thoughts and ideas flow. The wonderful part is you never know where that flow will lead you.

I appreciate Scott’s take on this. I definitely agree, best exemplified by the time I was in Seoul and did a thought experiment about getting rid of Midori, my car, literally titled Thinking out loud about: Cars; or the absence thereof. I did not sell Midori, and I am happy with that decision. I was also happy about how my SO humored me.

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The dearth of print

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!

Chinese Youth Announce That They’re “Lying Flat” and Resisting the Pressures of Modern Life

Chinese Youth Announce That They’re “Lying Flat” and Resisting the Pressures of Modern Life:

The “Lying Flat” movement taking hold among young people in China involves doing exactly what it suggests: working little, resting a lot, and cultivating the most minimalist lifestyle possible. Unlike Timothy Leary’s 1960’s mantra, “turn on, tune in, drop out,” lying flat, or tang ping (躺平), takes no stance on a countercultural ethos or the consumption of mind-altering drugs. But it has caused the authorities alarm, even among English-language observers. Consider the Brookings Institute headline, “The ‘lying flat’ movement standing in the way of China’s innovation drive.” Standing in the way of innovation is a cardinal sin of capitalism, one reason the “niche Chinese Gen Z meme” of tang ping,Jane Li writes, “is ringing alarm bells for Beijing.”



The phenomenon began — where else — on social media, when 31-year-old former factory worker Luo Huazhong “drew the curtains and crawled into bed,” Cassady Rosenblum writes at The New York Times. Luo then “posted a picture of himself [in bed] to the Chinese website Baidu along with a message: ‘Lying Flat is Justice.’”

His manifesto (above) claimed the “right to choose a slow lifestyle” by doing little work to get by, reading, gardening, exercising, and, yes, lying prone as often as he liked. To further elaborate, Luo wrote, “lying flat is my sophistic movement,” with a reference to Diogenes the Cynic, the Greek philosopher “said to have lived inside a barrel to criticize the excesses of Athenian aristocrats.”



Diogenes did more than that. He and his followers rejected everything about Athenian society, from work and marriage to the abstract reasoning of Plato. Luo might have turned to a more traditional source for “lying flat” — the Daoist principle of wu-wei, or non-doing. But lying flat is not so much about living in harmony with nature as it is a state of exhaustion, a full-body admission that the promises of capitalism — work hard now, rest hard later — have not and will not materialize. They are phantoms, mirages, precisely the kind of fictions that made Diogenes bark with laughter. The truth, Rosenblum writes, is that for “essential” workers at the bottom all the way up to the “inner sanctums” of Goldman Sachs, “work has become intolerable. Rest is resistance.”



In a work culture that celebrates “996” — 12-hour days, six days a week– rest may be the only form of resistance. Political repression and lack of upward mobility have fostered “an almost monastic outlook” in China, writes Li, “including not getting married, not having children, not having a job, not owning property, and consuming as little as possible.” Since picking up tens of thousands of followers online, the lying flat movement has become the target of a censorship campaign aimed at stopping young Chinese workers from checking out. One government-backed newspaper called the movement “shameful,” and news agency Xinhua unfavorably compared “lying flattists” to front-line medical workers. The original manifesto, Lying Flat groups, and message boards where users posted photos of seals, cats, and themselves lying flat have been taken down.

Zijia Song writes of tang ping as partly a response to a traditional Chinese culture of competitiveness and overwork, but notes that there are similar movements in Japan, Korea, and the U.S., where “Black activists, writers and thinkers are among the clearest voices articulating this spiritual malaise and its solutions,” writes Rosenblum, “perhaps because they’ve borne the brunt of capitalism more than other groups of Americans.” Whatever their national origin, each of these statements defiantly claims the right to rest, posing a threat not only to the Party but to an ideal of human life as endless overwork for shiny trinkets and empty promises, during a global pandemic and climate crisis that have revealed to us like nothing else the need to slow down, rest, and completely reimagine the way we live.

Related Content: 

Bertrand Russell & Buckminster Fuller on Why We Should Work Less, and Live & Learn More

Brian Eno’s Advice for Those Who Want to Do Their Best Creative Work: Don’t Get a Job

Will You Really Achieve Happiness If You Finally Win the Rat Race? Don’t Answer the Question Until You’ve Watched Steve Cutts’ New Animation

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

(Via Open Culture)

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So … right?

I do not like my verbal ticks.

I hate when they invade my writing.

The 2 I’m trying to address are verbal: “so” as a sentence opener and frequent conjunction; and “right” as a sentence ender and frequent conjunction (with “and” and the afore mentioned “so”).

“So” is the pernicious one. I use it as an interrupter, as a non-sequiter bridge, and general purpose conjunction. “So” infected my writing, especially informal writing like email and on this site.

Solution: I’m highlighting my use of “so” in my main writing platform, Gnu Emacs. I’m going to find a way to mark it in other apps in order to review my “so” use.

“Right” is something I picked up listening to a colleague. His speech is littered with “Right?” when he is trying to make a point. He uses it as I describe above. Talking with my colleague I often point out where his “right” is wrong. And now I hear myself using it in the same way, when I’m making points and convincing someone (maybe me?) that I’m correct.

Solution: a long term one, I am training myself to become hyper aware of “so” and “right” in my speech, similar to how I’m hyper aware of when I sound like my Dad. I love him, but I prefer to fight my own verbal ticks.