Gotcha

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It’s been two years since we brought him home all riddled with worms and bugbites. Two years of stepping on metal pencil eraser housings, of LEGO blocks chewed to Dali-esque dimensions. Two years of him giving a piece of his mind to, well, whatever it is past the northwest corner of the fence.

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Two years of gazing longingly at dogwoods, yearning for a love that can never be.

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Two years of perfecting his are-you-going-to-eat-that Oliver Twist face.

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Two years of jockeying for couch position with the kids. And mostly winning.

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Two years of mirroring my own distrust of authority with more forthrightness and courage than I ever showed.

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Happy Gotcha Day, boogs. Please stay off the dining room table.

How Music Was Made on Super Nintendo

This is one of those intersections of art and engineering that never fail to delight me. The sheer scale of effort required to manually code individual sound instructions to get around the hardware’s technical limitations is insane to me. That’s a labor of love. And the end result is often beautiful enough to stand on its own as ambient music.

Cleaning House

Took me awhile after leaving the place, but I finally got it done. Some of it was foot dragging, some of it was technical hurdles, but after a couple weeks of farting around and sending support emails, I've finally purged my Twitter history.

But, you ask, what will we do without your archive of shitposts? To this I say, if you love something, let it go.

I’ve covered the whys of my leaving before, and mostly inertia kept me from sweeping up after I left. Jack doubling down on the “we should let Nazis and other abusers have their say about whether people are people” horse hockey finally got me fired up to finish the job. Plus I’m not sad about erasing all evidence of my previous shitposting.

Part of me really is sorry to do it. Twitter circa 2008 was a delight. It was a kitchen conversation the whole world was invited to. The whole world showed up, sat at the table or hunkered down on the floor by the lazy Susan cabinet in the corner, and we all got to know each other. We gave each other a window into our lives. We made jokes. Dear god, did we go overboard with that part.

But, if you followed the right people, there was love in that room. This isn't nostalgia. If you've been around that long, go use advanced search and look at your timeline from 10 years ago. It's a different place. A place that brought daily delight.

So I'm not angry. I'm sad. I'm sad to see yet another bunch of ostensibly well-meaning white men with money fuck things up for everyone. I'm sorry that that kitchen conversation devolved into becoming, as one friend so perfectly put it, the paper bag that we all scream into now.

My Facebook's gone, my Metafilter account's gone, and my toots are all purged (well, all but 175 that appear to be unfindable even from my archive). And I feel better now. More at peace. Less distracted from the people around me that need me now, today.

I made countless friends through those venues. Friends on nearly every continent. Friends who I’ve laughed and grieved with. Friends who have met me in, God, four countries outside of this one. I am sorry to shut the door on these places. But I'm not sorry to embrace what has come next. The next right thing. The next person who needs me. The next quiet moment, the next gift of boredom. Let us give thanks for having nothing to entertain us.

(Oh, for the record, I used TweetEraser to do the deed. No recurring monthly fee, no auto-posting to your timeline, and they patiently helped my dumb ass through multiple failed attempts when I didn't read the directions closely enough.)

Update: Scratch that. Now it’s 194 tweets. What the hell, Twitter.

Pilotless DRONE, SIR?

This baby’s got range. Early on in the video you’ll see that it shoots both London AND France.

Stay for the sweet-ass clubhouse landing.

Ch-ch-changes

Me ten minutes ago: “Nothing could possibly make me pay for CBS All Access. They’re insane. Nothing. Never. Welp, time to check my RSS fee—“

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Me now: “WILL IT HAVE RIKER SMARM IN IT, I DEMAND TO KNOW”

Conundrum

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One idle five minute swing through the house looking for something to read and evidently now I’m working on a credit hour or two.

I’ve stumbled into a practice of literary disorientation so I’m thinking Weird Book then Dead Girl Book then Kid Book then Book With Insufferable Fanbase. I may get that last one knocked out first, though. If you have to eat two frogs, eat the big one first.

Malachi Constant

In the depressions that always followed his taking of alcohol, narcotics, and women, Constant pined for just one thing—a single message that was sufficiently dignified and important to merit his carrying it humbly between two points.

—Kurt Vonnegut, The Sirens of Titan

They’re Good Dogs, Crass

I was a teenager when Norm, our younger springer spaniel, attacked my dad. He had undiagnosed rage disorder and bit my dad on the face while they were snuggling in his chair. Dad threw Norm in the back yard and mom took dad to the hospital. I had to stay behind and listen to Norm, now returned to himself and confused about his banishment, cry to be let in.

He hadn't howled like this before. This was a wholly new sound, different from the sounds of pain and stress and alert that normally came out of him. Listening to it was almost unbearable.

I sat in the upstairs hall and wept. Our older springer Malley padded up close, sniffed me twice, and nudged me. I tried to shoo her away. She normally listened to that, but that night she stayed, and she nosed my hands away from my face again and again until I let them fall. She kissed me and she lay down next to me and did not leave my side until dad came home. We put Norm down the next day.

He used to try to talk. If you were sitting in a chair and reading or watching TV, he would come and sit right in front of you, face like a forlorn Stan Laurel, and wait for you to notice him. If you ignored him, he would scoot a half-step back, sit back down, and huff once. If you continued to ignore him, he'd try to talk.

This was not a bark or a whine. He would open his mouth and start modulating his voice in a constant up-and-down rurring sound that approximated the rise and fall and cadence of human speech. I've never heard a dog do that before or since.

That was one of the things I missed most when we put him down. He was one of us. He wanted to be near us, to share body warmth with us, to be comforted and told that he was good, that we saw him there, that we hadn't forgotten our boy. He was also weird as hell, and I identified with that.

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The gist of this article is mostly reasonable. Which makes the clickbait nature of its headline and framing even more tiresome in contrast. Even Norm didn't clown that hard to get our attention. He just tried to talk to us.

That clowning drowns out some of the piece's more disturbing points, like that 40% of women dog owners get more emotional support from their dogs than from their husbands. That's a parasitism that's far more worthy of scrutiny than the question of whether my Mugsy understands selflessness and altruism.

Indeed, there's a case to be made that we're all emotional parasites. That we need affirmation, that we need security both physical and emotional, that we need to feel needed and valued. That others are mostly a means to those ends.

The question of whether dogs love us or merely need us only stops with their species if you don't understand the implications of what you're asking. Pointing out that they train us just like we do them opens us up to much broader and more interesting discussions about the nature of our thinking and feeling existence than a lazy and predictable "everything you know is BACKKERDS" hot take, if we’re listening.

It’s a perfect microcosm of everything I’ve come to hate about the internet I used to love. A big opportunity for meaningful discussion torpedoed by the symbiosis of market considerations, short attention spans, and the need for an outrage platform.

Right now the San Diego Union-Tribune is basking in a viral Twitter fight that raised their ad revenue for a minute. Right now Twitter is screaming DOG HATER about an article they didn't read. Both of them sacrificed something to get what they wanted.

The whole thing makes me tired all over. So tonight I will scoop my little bearded boy up in my arms and carry him up to bed (note: that fucker’s spoilt), and I will ponder for the 500th time as we plod past the stained glass window just what all this says about what it is to have feelings.

Vote GLaDOS/HAL 2020

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When you create a weather app whose whole concept is being powered by a murderous, anti-human AI, it’d be the easiest thing in the world to take that joke and run with it for goofs. When you use it to demonstrate how far we’ve gotten from basic human decency while running with the joke, you’re operating on the fine and delicate line between comedy and rage.

That takes skill, not to mention stones. App stores are hard to make a living in because app pricing has taught people to value useful software less than coffee and a bagel. A feature like this (which you have to turn on in settings to really get the effect, but still) potentially shrinks your revenue further. So I’m on board. They get my annual subscription.

Funny people are being asked to play the role for democracy that Jesus played in the temple. My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.

I miss the days when laughing didn’t matter so much. When I didn’t scramble for my wallet just because I found out that my favorite Git client backs women’s causes and the ACLU.

In any case, Arnold Fiske couldn’t shut up about it.

By noon the next day, the whole town knew. And the whole town talked about it.

A Sasquatch. The widow and a Sasquatch. Ain't that just a kick in the pants.

Two days later, the pair had been spotted in public, walking along the railroad tracks.

And again, picking their way across the bog.

And again, standing in the back of the crowd, at a liquidation auction. The Sasquatch sometimes wore Mr. Sorensen's old seed hat and boots (he had cut out holes for his large, flexible toes), and sometimes wore the dead man's scarf. But never his pants. Not even some kind of shorts. Or, dear god, at least some swimming trunks. The Sasquatch was in possession, thankfully, of a bulbous thicket of fur, concealing the area of concern, but everyone knew what was behind the fur, and they knew it would only take a stiff breeze, or a sudden movement, or perhaps the presence of a female Sasquatch to cause a, how would you say—a shaking of the bushes, as it were. Or a parting of the weeds. People kept their eyes averted, just to be safe.

—Kelly Barnhill, "Mrs. Sorensen and the Sasquatch"

If you can make a passage about Sasquatch dick be delightful, you are my kind of person. Kelly Barnhill, one day I hope to give you a hug.