A painting of me

My countrymen impressed me, simply, as being, on the whole, the emptiest and most unattractive people in the world. It seemed a great waste of one’s only lifetime to be condemned to their chattering, vicious, pathetic, hysterically dishonest company. There other things to do, other people to see, there was another way to live! I had seen it, after all, and I knew. But I also knew that what I had seen, I had seen from a distance, a distance determined by my history. I was part of these people, no matter how bitterly I judged them. I would never be able to leave this country. I could leave it briefly, like a drowning man coming up for air. I had the choice of perishing with these doomed people, or of fleeing them, denying them, and in that effort perishing. It was a very cunning trap, and a very bitter joke. For these people would not change: the very word caused their eyes to unfocused, their lips to loosen or tighten, and sent them scurrying to their various bomb-shelters.
— James Baldwin in Tell Me How Long the Trains Been Gone

Turn, look down: there is no city.
This is centre of a forest.
Your place is empty.

They bend, straighten; the sun lights up their faces and hands, candles flickering in the wind against the unbright earth.
I see them; I know none of them believe they are here.
They deny the ground they stand on, pretend this dirt is the future.
And they are right.

Those who went ahead of us in the forest bent the early trees so that they grew to signals.

— Margaret Atwood, poem outside the Fort York library.

Also, a reminder that if you are voting for Doug Ford in the upcoming election you are a clueless fucking asshole.

Julian: Fuck jail. I’m not going back to jail, Ricky. Not gonna happen man.
Ricky: Julian, don’t be dissing jail, man. We’ve had some good fucking parties in there, we got good friends in there. I mean they fed you, you used their gym. Come on, man. Don’t be dissing jail. That’s not fucking cool.
— The Trailer Park Boys, Season 4, Episode 6, “If You Love Something, Set It Free”

You are alone, child. There is only darkness for you, and only death for your people. These ancients are just the beginning. I will command a great and terrible army, and we will sail to a billion worlds. We will sail until every light has been extinguished. You are strong, child, but I am beyond strength. I am the end, and I have come for you, Finn.
— The Lich, Adventure Time.

Minnian-Wong: Do you still have a zero tolerance for drugs, guns and gangs?
Ford: Yes
Minnian-Wong: Have you purchased drugs in the last year?
Ford: Yes.
— Today’s city council meeting has been entertaining. Nothing beats a rich entitled white dude.

They shot the six cabinet ministers at half-past six in the morning against the wall of a hospital. There were pools of water in the courtyard. There were wet dead leaves on the paving of the courtyard. It rained hard. All the shutters of the hospital were nailed shut. One of the ministers was sick with typhoid. Two soldiers carried him downstairs and out into the rain. They tried to hold him up against the wall but he sat down in a puddle of water. The other five stood very quietly against the wall. Finally the officer told the soldiers it was no good trying to make him stand up. When they fired the first volley he was sitting down in the water with his head on his knees.
— Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time

the name warsan means good news in the somali language. i hated it. i despised my name. i wanted to be called something soft, something that ended with an “ah” sound. my name is difficult to whisper into the side of my face. my name is easy to use with a hard voice. i appreciate that now. the hesitation on the other side of the phone. the way they would replace my name with ‘baby’. give your daughters difficult names. give your daughters names that command the full use of tongue. my name makes you want to tell me the truth. my name doesn’t allow me to trust anyone that cannot pronounce it right. my mother calls me ‘warsanay’. if a man ever tried to call me that, it means he understands that i am someone’s daughter. it means i’ll let him call me down from a long building. praise my grandmother, warsan baraka. my father’s mother. the woman i was named after.
— the birth name by Warsan Shire

The company’s shares are down a bit today, but the company’s stock is taking a much less catastrophic plunge in already-meager profits than Apple, whose stock plunged simply because its Q4 profits increased at an unexpectedly slow rate. That’s because Amazon, as best I can tell, is a charitable organization being run by elements of the investment community for the benefit of consumers. The shareholders put up the equity, and instead of owning a claim on a steady stream of fat profits, they get a claim on a mighty engine of consumer surplus. Amazon sells things to people at prices that seem impossible because it actually is impossible to make money that way.
— Matthew Yglesias, Amazon Profits Fall 45 Percent, Still the Most Amazing Company in the World

Dave: Just noticed the iPhone screens’ pixels are polarized in orthogonal directions. Genius.
Me: English mother fucker, do you speak it?
Dave: You forgot a command and, perhaps, a semicolon.
Me: God damn it. You win this round.
— A Conversation on the Twitter.

Pale Blue Dot

   6 March 2012, early morning

Pale Blue Dot

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there—on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

— Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994

This weeks episode of RadioLab about Escape is particularly good. As I’ve said before, RadioLab is sole reason I now listen to podcasts: it’s incredible.

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I have no particular love for the idealized ‘worker’ as he appears in the bourgeois Communist’s mind, but when I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on.
— George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia.

Shima: We left a toy on our flight to Montreal last Friday.
Him: What kind of Toy?
Shima: A girafe.
Me: It’s a squeaky toy.
Him: You mean a Sophie?
— Our conversation with a gate attendent from Porter. Apparently everyone knows what a Sophie is.

Me: Why are you carrying a dog
Him: It’s a wolf.
Me: Why are you carrying a wolf?
Him: I’m a taxidermist.
— My conversation with a fellow holding an embalmed dog.

Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters—sometimes very hastily—but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.”

Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.”

That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.

—Maurice Sendak (via)

Apple is a hardware company. They sell hardware. Always have, and likely always will. They are successful and make a ton of money. I don’t think anybody will have a differing opinion. Likewise, Google is a search engine company. Always provided great search functionality and likely always will. They are successful and make a ton of money from their revolutionary online advertising venture. Then their huge success somehow turned them into an advertising company in the minds of a bunch of people. I, however, still liken them to Ferrari in that Ferrari is a racing company that sells cars to fund their racing. Google sells ads to fund their search engine technology related desires. Not everybody remains focused on their initial product. Similarly, Nintendo used to sell playing cards (which is hilarious because I own 2 decks) and now they sell electronic gaming addiction.
Patrick, AvG or GvA

You’re not paying Facebook for their service, so they’ve got virtually no incentive to create the best experience for you to stay in touch with your ‘friends’. It’s just a means to an end for them, anything barely adequate will suffice. Their real incentives lie with providing advertisers with as much of your info as possible, so that they can drill down and target you with their god awful ads, in an attempt to maximise their click through rate. That goal takes priority over everything else, even that pesky privacy stuff. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. This should not be surprising.
Facebook vs. Facebook Users by Layton

I, Guru, am writing this letter to my fans, friends and loved ones around the world. I have had a long battle with cancer and have succumbed to the disease. I have suffered with this illness for over a year. I have exhausted all medical options.
Keith Elam, aka Guru, dies at age 43.

“I remember one woman walking by. She was carrying a huge bag, and she looked like she was heading toward us, so we lit her up with the Mark 19, which is an automatic grenade launcher, and when the dust settled, we realized that the bag was full of groceries. She had been trying to bring us food and we blew her to pieces.”
Jason Washburn, a corporal in the US Marines who served three tours in Iraq, speaking at the Winter Soldier hearings that took place March 13-16, 2008, in Silver Spring, Maryland.

    After a while we said good-night and left. Walking home, Rinaldi said, “Miss Barkley prefers you to me. That is very clear. But the little Scotch one is very nice.”
    “Very,” I said. I had not noticed her. “You like her?”
    “No,” said Rinaldi.
— From A Farewell to Arms. That’s some classic Hemingway.

Me: I don’t think i’ll own a leica any time soon — if ever. It seems like a total luxury.
Rishi: Word, you might one day. Not having a license will save you from ever buying a car, which is a lot of money. You could walk around taking awesome pictures with your Leica, while everyone else is stuck in traffic.
— An email conversation, January 2008. I bought a Leica 6 months later.

Dear Ram, With all our love from the redacted folks! We miss you so, so, much. The prayer room has been converted to a shrine of vigil, anticipating your return. The tears have been often, and plentiful. Yours, The redacted Team.
— A card from my awesome co-workers

Only one carry on? No electronics for the first hour of flight? I wish that, just once, some terrorist would try something that you can only foil by upgrading the passengers to first class and giving them free drinks.
Bruce Schneier on the stupidness that is flying in/through/to the United States.

Coming from the arid north of the country, where nothing grew except children, the Tamil man’s chief industry was the government service, and education, English education, his passport.
Ethnic cleansing in Sri Lanka, by A. Sivanandan.

What Ahmadinejad needs right now is Katherine Harris, some hanging chads and Chief Justice Rehnquist. Oh yeah, and a totally docile public.
Adam Isacson

To this day I remember when I was in eighth grade and my father first explained to me that there was a man named Alan Greenspan who ran a government agency that watched with an eagle eye for the day when there might be an insufficient number of unemployed people. If too many people had jobs, he was supposed to swoop in, tighten the money supply, and make sure some people lost their jobs. Otherwise, wages might get too high!
— Matthew Yglesias, Monetary Policy is Policy; The Fed is a Government Agency (via RC3)

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