So in the NYT today, Mayor Mike endorses Barrack Obama in a way that shows him to be a self-aggrandizing jerk who, despite some relatively sensible ideas, doesn’t really have much good to contribute to the political tone of this country.
For starters, look at his complaint about Obama failing to find a non-ideological coalition aimed at resolving Mayor Mike’s (quite reasonable, to be honest) pet issues. Look at that list of issues. Those are not issues that will be resolved by forming a non-ideological coalition. Those are issues about which Republicans love to freak the fuck out. Despite the fact that there has been no gun-control legislation of any kind introduced during his term, the Republican punditry has gone crazy with accusations that he’s about to come for you guns at any second. For Mayor Mike to complain about this issue on a national level with any frame other than dismantling the insane discourse of the Republican Party, then he’s being deeply disingenuous.
Naturally (har), the same thing is true regarding the key issue of the endorsement: the threat of climate change. The Republican record on climate change is utterly non-ambiguous. Commentators have moved to the meta “it has been proved to be a hoax” mode of argumentation, divorcing themselves completely from any sort of engagement with facts or information. Again, the idea that someone should be looking for a bipartisan solution to a problem whose existence is denied by a whole swath of people involved in legislation shows an unwillingness to address where the problem really lies.
In short, in Mike wants progress on the things that he purports to be most concerned about, he should be working on changing the fact that the Republican Party in America 1) has been overrun by its most maniacal elements and 2) completely controls our public discourse. Without changing those facts, gun control and legislation that acknowledges the realities of climate change simply aren’t possible.
In times as desperate as these, I’m reluctant to dabble in their-all-the-same-ism, or otherwise make the perfect the enemy of the good, but the fact is the phantasmal centrism that gets cast about these days is deeply destructive, and has as its object the elimination from the popular political imagination of a real spectrum of ideologies.
So I was in New York last week, visiting the mothership and catching up with all and sundry. Because I hadn’t seen most of these people in at least two years, there was a lot of talking about what everyone was doing. Because I was fairly relaxed (for me) and enjoying myself (again. . .), I think that it’s worth putting stock in the themes that tended to come out in these processes.
Arguably the single most noticeable thing about all these catch-up sessions is that everyone wanted to be reassured that things were good w/ Carolyn. Now in most cases this is attributable to people liking her, but in one or two key instances it was clearly the result of thinking that we are a good combination based on a deep understanding of at least me. That’s pretty cool, and it’s a nice thing to be able to take away from the experience.
There was a lot of ribbing, mostly but not exclusively around the office, about me wanting to move back to New York. Not to throw my hat too far into the ring of the world’s smuggest man competition, but a fair amount of this was wishful thinking. As I said, I enjoyed the visit immensely, but I haven’t forgotten how burnt out I was on soulless yuppie swine when I moved here back in 2008. Properly filtered, the story here is that I am indeed eager for some sort of change of place. The specifics have yet to be worked out (and lord knows there’s plenty of time to think about it), but C and I are looking, in the somewhat distant future, to live elsewhere.
As for me by myself, I spent a lot of time telling people that things were okay, but that I felt like I needed to be working on being the kind of person that makes things. I think this is kind of a big deal, and I’m definitely going to be focusing on it more. In a way, writing a paper is sort of like a very small project, so I guess it stands to reason that I miss doing something that I did constantly at a time that I consider to have been pretty fruitful. Of course, things can run away from you. Markov Garden has been confusing and big in a lot of ways that I didn’t expect, but I think that publishing it will be a major coup that I really need to be looking forward to. And beyond.
At the all-hands, we spent a lot of time talking about connecting people from information and then I, during a brainstorming session about applications, said something to the effect of “Wait, what about filtering?” People sort of paused and scratched their chins, but we didn’t focus on it at all. It isn’t a thing yet. It will be, but for now people are racing ahead to get their faces in front of the fire hose.
I was reminded of this because C sent me a Pinterest invite last night, and for some reason ye olde Booke of the Fayce required me to upgrade to timeline view to blah blah blah and. . . I have to say that the effect is pretty ridiculous. Pinterest is also kind of nuts. It’s front page is just a massive grid of uneven rectangles full of pictures. Also, when you click on one there is no obvious control to go back to the home page. Presumably this is a way to encourage people to do some interacting with something they may have been merely curious about. Not a decision I would have made.
At any rate, not to bag on any particular site/company/whatever, because really the problem is with the zeitgeist. People want shit like that. People want all their email in one massive bucket that they can search using tags. To me that’s totally nuts. I kind of think that containing structures help create a flow that makes things useful. Of course, that can be limit your access to things outside of your extant experience (in fact, I’d say that part of the reason I thought being on Pinterest was a good idea was to encourage myself to look outside my extant structure), but everyone seems to be about searching, and nobody is about sorting. Yet.