Tuesday, March 6

I’m in the mountains, dog-sitting for family. They live in the kind of place that’s flooded with natural light during the day, where you can see the Continental Divide out the windows. Put wood on the fire, take the dog outside, startle as big corvids of some kind glide past overhead.

This is a long ways from the countryside where I grew up, but out in the mountains is still unmistakably in the country in some crucial way.

There’s a tension between how good I feel in this kind of place and how much and how often I’m told that the only survivable future for civilization is urban density, tall blocks of towers, and more or less the planned eradication of the communities where I’ve spent the better part of my life.

Part of the tension is that these ideas probably aren’t so far wrong, so far as they go. It’s at least pretty clear that commuting in cars across vast distances is destroying the world1 as much as anything, and the way I live my life now scarcely generalizes to 7 billion people, nevermind how I’d live it given a few more degrees of freedom. I may want me to have a rambling compound on a couple of hundred acres in the middle of nowhere, but everybody having that just devolves into Mad Max.

I can understand the idea that the most good for the most humans is to be found in thickly populated cityscapes, efficiencies of scale, and a rural infrastructure reduced to some bare minimum for sparsely-crewed giant farmbots. At any rate I’m sure the most good doesn’t look much like the vast automotive sprawl coagulating all along the I-25 corridor just a few miles east of here.

Still, there’s something missing between what I’m supposed to take away from the consensus of the various learned-and-wise and how I actually think and feel about the shape of these questions.

1 A paragraph from four years ago: "America is never ever going to stop running entirely on cars. Not until it kills us. Not even when it becomes completely obvious even to Republicans and retirees and farmers that it's killing us. We just don't care. We aren't even capable of imagining caring. We are going to drive until there is nothing left for driving to destroy, and then we are going to drive some more. The last American will die alone, huffing gasoline in the front seat of a late-model Toyota the size of a city block in the center of a vast, oil-stained pavement stretching from horizon to horizon."


A Church in Doubt by Richard Rex | Articles | First Things — It's interesting to read this kind of thing, which is certainly written with some intelligence and perception, and which also hinges in its perspective on statements like "[i]f, however, the Catholic Church were indeed to abandon or reverse the almost total opposition to divorce that it has maintained across two millennia, then its claim to be the privileged vehicle of divine revelation on moral issues would be, quite simply, shattered." For divorce, in this kind of thinking, you can also pretty handily substitute women in the clergy, gay marriage, contraception, and so forth. And then I guess I think: Well, pretty much. Maybe you ought to just concede the failure of that privileged-vehicle trip and let the entire institution die a well-deserved death. (Then again, reading this over, it's entirely possible the piece is quietly saying exactly that: "Such a conclusion would definitively explode any pretension to moral authority on the part of the Church. A church which could be so wrong, for so long, on a matter so fundamental to human welfare and happiness could hardly lay claim to decency, let alone infallibility.")

You're Living in the Past, Dude! - Bradley M. Kuhn ( Brad ) ( bkuhn ) — «Nevertheless, there's actually nothing wrong with "living in the past" — I quite like it myself. However, I'd suggest that care be taken to not admonish those who make a go at creating the future. (At this risk of making a conclusion that sounds like a time travel joke,) don't forget that their future will eventually become that very past where I and others would prefer to live.»

How to write an IRC bot

The obvious next step for Assistant

Waiting for Steven Pinker’s Enlightenment | The Nation — «Like a TED Talk, Enlightenment Now is easy to summarize. Despite all the doom and gloom bandied about today, Pinker argues, things are good—in fact, the best they’ve ever been. More specifically, human beings today lead longer, safer, healthier, wealthier, and indeed happier lives than at any point in recorded history, and they do so thanks to the Enlightenment. The nay-saying that is so prevalent in our culture is simply an error, the product of cognitive biases compounded by the influence of foolish intellectuals and ignorant politicians.»

Why You Hate Contemporary Architecture | Current Affairs — There's plenty to disagree with in here (there are obvious major problems with the idea that buildings and cities can just spread out horizontally), and plenty I'm not really qualified to evaluate. I don't hate every giant weird concrete building. Still, there is also a lot to agree with.

Where we stand and what we see

Hypercard Zine

prove you are not an Evil corporate person

What renovations are worth doing? - Curbed — "Rustic modernism is the perfect example of the simulacrum, the copy for which no original exists: it is historical without much history, a color palette and vague ruralness masquerading as a pure American legacy. The truth is, though there are the occasional episodes featuring truly decrepit properties, the vast majority of the homes featured on the show have nothing wrong with them. In fact, the hosts have time and time again muddied up houses (especially midcentury modern ones) with genuinely authentic, or even irreplaceable, interiors."

#878000 - ardour5 does not start on debian/testing it spins trying to load GTK2 breeze theme - Debian Bug report logs