Adventures on the Silicon Prairie

To the Dogs

When the country goes temporarily to the dogs, cats must learn to be circumspect, walk on fences, sleep in trees, and have faith that all this woofing is not the last word. What is the last word, then? Gentleness is everywhere in daily life, a sign that faith rules through ordinary things: through cooking and small talk, through storytelling, making love, fishing, tending animals and sweet corn and flowers, through sports, music and books, raising kids — all the places where the gravy soaks in and grace shines through. Even in a time of elephantine vanity and greed, one never has to look far to see the campfires of gentle people.  

Garrison Keillor

We Rub the Darkness From Our Eyes

We rub the darkness from our eyes, And face our thousand devious secret mornings … And do not see how the pale mist, slowly ascending, Shaped by the sun, shines like a white-robed dreamer Compassionate over our towers bending.   — Conrad Aiken

What Is the Self

Following such considerations, the philosopher Daniel Dennett proposed that the self is simply a ‘centre of narrative gravity’ – just as the centre of gravity in a physical object is not a part of that object, but a useful concept we use to understand the relationship between that object and its environment, the centre of narrative gravity in us is not a part of our bodies, a soul inside of us, but a useful concept we use to make sense of the relationship between our bodies, complete with their own goals and intentions, and our environment. So, you, you, are a construct, albeit a useful one. Or so goes Dennett’s thinking on the self.

This same power of attention – what you use in everyday life to stay on task – is what helps you in moments of conflict more generally – moments when you are caught between two (or more) options, both of which appeal to you, and you are torn on which option to choose. The philosopher Robert Kane has a way of talking about these life-defining moments: they are ‘self-forming actions’. Kane’s idea is that our truest expressions of ourselves come at moments in which our will is divided. At such moments, we could go either of two ways, but we go one way, and in doing so we help set in place some feature of ourselves – the feature that aligns with the chosen path.

What is the self if not that which pays attention? | Aeon Essays

I’m a Man Who Plays as a Woman

They theorized, then, that women are more shy about being guys because most games feature male avatars designed to empower men—not appeal to women. Female avatars in games, meanwhile, often play to stereotypical male ideals of beauty and sexual appeal.

I’ve been pretty overtly hit on by dudes a couple times in chat windows. That was kinda weird, but it stopped pretty quickly after I said I was a guy. It felt horribly un-true to the experience of being female-bodied in this ceaselessly sexualized world of ours, but I couldn’t handle the pressure (incidentally, I’m not the first). If I couldn’t deal for a few minutes, though, I can’t even imagine what it’s like for women on a daily basis. I know women who tend to play as male characters in multiplayer games for that very reason. It’s a tremendous shame that it has to come to that, but I suppose it does technically count as another reason people pick bodies unlike their own in games.

I’m A Man Who Plays As A Woman In Games, And I’m Definitely Not Alone

Split View Prioritization

Split View Prioritization: This is a small thing, but when working on the iPad in Split View, I typically like to have my primary app on the left and secondary app on the right. This seems to be how Apple designed Split View to work, as the app on the left can be arranged in more size variations than the one on the right. The problem with this mode of working is that thanks to the inefficient app picker, it’s much easier to change the app on the left than the one on the right. This has led me to make an intentional behavior shift: I now put my primary app on the right side, and secondary on the left. My secondary app is the one that changes more often, so it makes the most sense to put it on the left so I can take advantage of Spotlight search and Command-Tab for quick app switching. This way, I have to interact with the app picker on the right far less often than I used to. Hopefully some of Federico’s wishes for iOS 11 will come true, and I can go back to organizing apps the way I prefer – with the main app on the left taking up 2/3 of the screen.

— Club MacStories, Monthly Log, May 2017

I’m not sharing the link, because this is from a newsletter for Club MacStories members, which is part of how MacStories is generating revenue to keep doing the great stuff that they are doing, but I did want to share this excerpt, because for me, it was a game changing way to use split view on my iPad. I don’t usually use a hardware keyboard with my tablet, but if I set up the views in the way described above, I can just swipe down from the top and type the name of the app I want to switch to in Spotlight. Once you get used to thinking about it like this, it makes a lot of sense to have your “pinned” app on the right, and the apps that you’re switching between on the left.

Talking About Politics

We, the most powerful democracy in the world, have developed a strong norm against talking about politics. It’s fine to talk about politics with people you agree with. But it is rude to argue about politics with people you disagree with. Political discourse becomes isolated, and isolated discourse becomes more extreme. We say what our friends want to hear, and hear very little beyond what our friends say.

Lawrence Lessig

Maybe the Internet Isn’t Tearing Us Apart After All

In other words, Facebook exposes us to weak social connections— the high school acquaintance, the crazy third cousin, the friend of the friend of the friend you sort of, kind of, maybe know. These are people you might never go bowling with or to a barbecue with. You might not invite them over to a dinner party. But you do Facebook friend them. And you do see their links to articles with views you might have never otherwise considered.

Maybe the Internet Isn’t Tearing Us Apart After All | WIRED

How Watergate Helped Republicans

Nixon was, despite the popular conception of him today, a centrist Republican—and because of Watergate, he may have been the last one. Nixon’s sensibilities were populist-conservative, but operationally he acted as a moderate and even occasionally as a progressive, for example when he created the Environmental Protection Agency and proposed national health insurance that would have covered more people than Obamacare. In 1997, I interviewed Elliot Richardson, who as attorney general played a key role in bringing down Nixon but felt history had wrongly remembered the 37th president. “Most people don’t really get the fact that the Nixon administration was to the left of the Clinton administration,” Richardson told me. “Even the Eisenhower administration was to the left of the Clinton administration.”

How Watergate Helped Republicans—And Gave Us Trump – POLITICO Magazine

All In

Visit the sick and the imprisoned. Give to the poor. We might go to church, and think of these good works as something we should schedule in on a Tuesday afternoon. And indeed we should. But. I’ve been thinking a lot about this. Aren’t we are all sick, trapped, and poor – to different degrees, in different ways, sometimes varying over the course of a single day? By accepting our suffering, sharing it, extending our love to others from that hurting place – might that be one way to understand what it means to take up our cross?

homemade time: all in)