• sara reads the feed

    Productively neglectful, really cool science, movies I don’t want

    Yesterday was mostly a fun variation of my normal-of-late routine where I watch at least one movie and write a review about it.

    I actually spend November/December every year watching comedies, especially romcoms, even if this is the first year where I’ve put a sincere effort into reviewing the stuff I watch. Usually I do more genre — SF, horror, and fantasy — in August through October. Yesterday a short film kinda fell in my lap which is more of a September watch, if you ask me.

    The John Experiment‘s premise is near-future science fiction, and its impact is ultimately psychological horror. So, you know, September stuff.

    This one is special because I know the creator and I got to chat movies with her a bit. It was a lot of fun!

    Also, I reviewed Much Ado About Nothing, but I otherwise didn’t watch movies. I’m trying to take a break consciously every day or two. It feels kinda *too* good to slam movies and reviews all day. Like, overstimulating? Instead, I did a bunch of drawing, some essay writing, and then I under-stimulated myself by playing more Baldur’s Gate III with Rory.


    I’ve been avoiding the doctor for a couple years. I go in a couple times a year, mind you. I’ve got asthma and psychiatric needs which absolutely *cannot* be ignored. But I’m doing my best to ignore everything else because I hate it and I don’t wanna. It feels like if I’m seeing my doctor a few times a year already, that’s enough, and my body isn’t allowed to do anything else.

    Of course that’s not how it works and not how it ever has worked.

    I had a big blood sugar crash yesterday. I’ve always had reactive hypoglycemia from taking an SSRI – basically, my body over-produces insulin. If I eat properly, it’s not a problem, but I struggle to eat “properly” because of an eating disorder. So yesterday, big crash.

    I feel so shaken after things like that. Probably because it’s massively depleting, but it’s also just scary. I don’t love the idea of trying to hash this out with my doctor. I hate running around for appointments.


    The makers of No Man’s Sky are promising a game where they generate an Earth-sized planet. I am benignly skeptical. I was there when they marketed NMS with a whole long list of features which never materialized and watched it turn into a base building game. I like NMS. I just won’t listen to a thing Hello Games says until I can see the game itself.


    This article about fungi encouraging ice formation is the most mind-blowing thing I’ve read in a while. (Ars Technica) I’d always heard that ice forms at lower temperatures with “pure” and undisturbed water, because impurities permit ice to form quicker, but never thought further than that. I guess I assumed it was a surface area thing?

    Organisms such as bacteria, insects, and fungi produce proteins known as ice nucleators (non-protein nucleators can also be of abiotic origin). These proteins can kick-start the formation, or nucleation, of ice at higher temperatures than pure water would freeze at.

    This is one of those things where I read it and I just wanted to throw my pen to the desk and pace around the room thinking FURIOUSLY about everything new-to-me I just glimpsed.


    Shit that’s so COOL.


    Speaking of cool stuff, researchers seem to be developing these sorta…synthetic mini-organs? (Engadget) to help people with diabetes produce insulin properly, with fewer external devices involved.

    First, the scientists figured out a way to insert nylon catheters under the skin, where they remain for up to six weeks. After insertion, blood vessels form around the catheters which structurally support the islet devices that are placed in the space when the catheter gets removed. The newly implanted 10-centimeter-long islet devices secrete insulin via islet cells that form around it, while also receiving nutrients and oxygen from blood vessels to stay alive.

    Medical symbiosis? Shit that is ALSO so COOL. And this is one humans are coming up with!

    Often, when I learn about science and medicine, I’m surprised how basic our understanding remains. A lot of the stuff we use on a practical level day-to-day isn’t necessarily more complicated than, say, a medicine that just adds a single molecule to your body and then your body does the work because it has the molecule. This “islet device” seems something else entirely.


    BookRiot rounds up romances without the third-act breakup.


    Hugh Grant hates Wonka. (Cosmopolitan) Like, I get it. I hate it and I haven’t even seen it, much less performed in it. I don’t expect anyone to love their job, either. But I’m sick of this miserable lipless man being miserable and lipless and everyone tittering like that’s a personality.


    Yes, we are talking about Avatar 3 (Variety) even though we didn’t want Avatar 2 and Avatar 1 was forgettable if not for the fact the franchise bafflingly continues.

  • sara reads the feed

    Mental energy conservation, A Forgettable Prince 2, and notification privacy

    I was really vibing for a couple days until current events crashed in to ruin my mood. It’s not that there isn’t good reason to be upset. But I think I need to use these things as opportunities to practice good mental hygiene. Getting sucked into “it’s fair to be upset” things happening in the world is part of the reason I bottomed out so hard in 2020.

    There will always be lots of reasons to be unhappy, and I have to make sure to process them as healthily as possible. I was up randomly at 3am brooding and then began brooding again the instant I woke up at 7. Now 1.5 hours into brooding about it. A reasonable length of time? I don’t think “reasonable” applies. But I have had Thoughts about it, and now my Thoughts suggest it’s time to turn back to my tangible life.

    (It’s not cruel to “turn off” to the world; it’s conserving emotional energy for when it’s my turn to *need* it.)

    I really really need to watch out for News Mood Swamps as we approach America’s next presidential election.


    Yesterday’s crochet time was spent on what I’m calling “the installation” rather playfully. I crocheted a bunch of handbags in a frenzy, and now I’m making an art installation in my stairway to display all the bags. I’ve integrated a Very Big Stick and some organic elements that unite Stick and Bags and it’s coming along slowly. But it’s nice. I think it will end up looking like an abstract crochet handbag rain forest.

    My 9yo told me it was really cool that I was turning part of our house into “the art museum” (we visited recently) and 13yo has barely blinked because this is just the kind of shit mommy does.

    I’m going to figure out how to light it too. And THEN I will take photos of everything to share with you guys.

    I guess that’s the entirety of the project for me. An organic growing art-thing in my hallway, which I will then document after the fact like someone who discovered it, and then I will probably disassemble it because it’s getting dusty and put everything in a labeled bin. “My entire 2023.”


    While I was looking for things to watch yesterday, I realized I had watched The Christmas Prince 2: Royal Wedding without logging it on Letterboxd, writing a review, or even remembering it until that moment. If I write a review, I’ll bundle it with the third movie, because it was so forgettable that it’s not going to be worth more than a paragraph or two.

    But the tl;dr is that they shouldn’t have tried to venture away from the oppressive blandness of the first movie, because they took about two baby steps and fell flat on their faces being monarchists, plus they wasted most of our time with a boringly executed mystery instead of actual romance or Christmas vibes. Rose McIver deserves better.


    Turns out your push notifications can be “read” by Apple and Google, no matter other privacy settings. If I understand the article on Engadget, this has been known quietly for a long time but the government didn’t want folks to know.

    Thing is, I think we “knew” publicly because most apps with any sort of privacy element have an ability to mask push alerts in some way. Alerts on mental health apps I used were always discrete. Not like, “Check in with MYCRAZYPERSON and log your PSYCHIATRIC MELTDOWNS!!!” kind of alerts. Rather, it would say, “Want to check in?”

    Partially, that’s to keep people from seeing your alerts when your phone is sitting on the lunch table.

    But also, many app developers come from Apple or Google development backgrounds, so they’d know notifs are always “readable” by the companies. Some folks have been protecting us longer than we “knew” we needed protection. I guess that’s the good part?

    I disable notifications on everything by default because I don’t want anything to talk to me.


    Andrea Fay Friedman passed away (Variety). She was an actress with Down’s Syndrome, and for many families like mine, she brought representations into our living rooms through the tv show “Life Goes On.” She also provided a voice role to insult Sarah Palin on Family Guy, and kept working through 2019.


    Important news for the adult family members of giggling children: Goat Simulator 3 is on mobile now. (Engadget)


    SAG-AFTRA’s new agreement has been officially ratified. (NPR)


    Colossal reviews a book on surrealist art. I might want this one. I really like Miles Johnston and one of his pieces is included, too.


    A Nevada grand jury indicted some of Trump’s fake electors. Get ’em all outta here. (NPR)


    Tor reviews a biography of Captain Sisko from DS9. Tor dot Com also let me know that three Pixar pandemic-era movies are coming to theaters. I’m still not back in theaters for anything short of a Jordan Peele movie, BUT I loved Luca more than life itself, so I hope this will bring more people to the child-aged mmf paranormal romance. Call Me By Your Fins?

  • sara reads the feed

    SRF 16: Drawing romcoms, timely prose, and nerds in space

    I think I might spend next year writing what kind of Obsession Days I have in my annual planner (I use Hobonichi). Lately I haven’t really remembered what I’m up to in retrospect because I’m getting all swept up in whatever creative pursuits, and if I just wrote “movie day” and “drawing day” and “crochet day” on these entries, I think it would cover a lot of bases.

    It would also explain why I’m frowning at my yarn stash, wondering why nothing has gotten crocheted. Honey, you were drawing the last few days. A lot of drawing! And writing movie reviews.

    Of course sometimes the Obsession Day is going to be “[insert name of video game here]” and right now it’s Baldur’s Gate III. I keep kinda going back and forth on whether I *love* it or not. It’s obviously an outstanding game. It’s so good. I would not say two negative words about the game as a product overall: it does such a marvelous job bringing the TTRPG feeling to my computer, with incredibly detailed graphics, and in such an optimized way that it runs *really* well on all sorts of systems. I don’t love the story itself, but the complexity of execution is utterly fascinating.

    So when I say I’m not sure I love it, it’s entirely personal. I was actually feeling this way about Skyrim (of which I’ve probably played at least 1000 hours) so I don’t think it’s about the game itself. There is something aesthetically or thematically that is frictious to me, but in a way that I’m still very interested and want to explore.

    I almost wonder if I’m getting sick of the way video games nonproductively hijack the dopamine pathways of my brain and make time vanish, especially when it’s a game I reeeaaally like, like a fantasy RPG.


    Speaking of drawing, you’ll now find three reviews of mine also have illustrations attached: The House Bunny, Last Holiday, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Like I said, I’ve been having a couple drawing days. I’m picking movies kinda arbitrarily based on which heroine I feel like drawing. The aesthetics of movie heroines are really catching my eye lately!


    My favorite read this week was probably Who Gets to Play in Women’s Leagues? on The New Yorker. I’m keyed enough into trans and intersex issues that I caught a whiff of transmisogyny from this, but it’s written by an intersex cis woman talking about her experiences, so I think it’s just a cis person doing her best? The information is good, as far as I can tell, and I haven’t seen such a complete debunking of myths and explanation of science/society behind gender and athletic competition.


    The French TV industry crew is thinking about striking. (Variety)


    A story about nontraditional families stepping up for each other in traditional ways in Korea, focused on a woman adopting her best friend. (AJE)


    I am absolutely fascinated by José Lerma’s heavy impasto, and I lament that these paintings would absolutely not be safe to lick or chew on, for multiple reasons. (Colossal)


    What do you think is the top worldwide box office winner? Hunger Games? Nope, it’s called Animal, out of Bollywood, and starring the talent of Ranbir Kapoor. (Variety)


    Scrolling through some really dark news in my feed, there was also this bit of prose from Only Fragments in the middle. My emotions felt really validated seeing this. Like, hey look, someone with some of the flavor of my mind.


    Queen Latifah, Billy Crystal and others celebrated at Kennedy Center Honors (NPR)

    I’m going through a tiny Queen Latifahssaince in my life and I always adore Billy Crystal, so just seeing their faces together makes me happy. <33


    Will nuclear fusion work as an energy source in the imminent future? (NPR) Idk I’ll ask my 13yo. They’ll know.


    Why Indian Buddhism has gardens, not monasteries (Psyche)

    I’ve been studying Buddhism here and there while I try to grapple with my mortal body. I also started gardening about the same time. So this is an interesting read for me.


    Ars Technica talks briefly about Star Trek voices in video games. Heh, I played a lotta these.


    Wait, someone watched Halo Season 1? Enough people watched Halo Season 1 for us to get a Halo Season 2? Someone wants this? (Variety)

  • sara reads the feed

    SRF 15: Brain rest, alloparenting, and cosmic horror

    I’ve been keeping my head down and writing a bit, which calls for supplementary activities that turn off my brain. I’m crocheting a lot. But I’m also playing more video games again because 1) fiction wears me out, 2) my wrists/hands/arms can use rest, and 3) Baldur’s Gate III is a lot of fun.

    I like storytelling games as a genre. BGIII makes me think about fantasy combat RPGs like Skyrim, sure, but it also makes me think about Crusader Kings and Dwarf Fortress, which are generative storytelling games first and foremost. The dynamic story elements in BGIII means it’s possible to play out the story in a ridiculous number of different ways. It’s more constrained than my favorites, but there’s enough leeway to echo the vibe.

    The higher level of mental rest also means fewer reviews (well, I’m still going daily, but I’d been doing 2-4 for a little while and that’s nuts) and less link spam. I know you understand, void.


    From Publisher’s Weekly: The Scholastic union reached a tentative agreement!


    NPR: Bringing up a baby can be a tough and lonely job. Here’s a solution: alloparents

    “Even the most adorable, sweet, easy babies are a ton of work,” says psychologist Kathryn Humphreys at Vanderbilt University.

    In Western societies, much of the responsibility often falls to one person. In many instances, that’s the mother, who must muster the patience and sensitivity to care for an infant. And a lot of time she’s working in isolation, says evolutionary anthropologist Gul Deniz Salali, who’s at the University College London. “I just had a baby 9 months ago, and it’s been really lonely.”

    “There are these narratives [in Western society], that mothers should just know how to look after children and be able to do it [alone],” says Chaudhary, who’s at Cambridge University.

    But human parents probably aren’t psychologically adapted for this isolation, a new study with a group of hunter-gatherers in the Congo suggests. A “mismatch” likely exists between the conditions in which humans evolved to care for babies and the situation many parents find themselves in today, says Salali, who contributed to the study.

    Together with a handful of previous studies, this new one suggests that for the vast majority of human history, mothers had a huge amount of help caring for infants – and even a lot of support with toddlers as well.

    My kids are being raised by 3+ parents. Three of us live in the house, anyway; they’re also really close with my husband’s parents. The third in-house parent is sibling Rory, who moved in full-time when Little Sunshine was embryonic, and is our agendered tertiary parental unit.

    Any human has a right to a full life, and I think that includes Moms of Younger Children. I often benefited from Agendered Tertiary Parental Unit in my twenties, when I needed to do some hot bitch 20-something stuff, because losing agency in pregnancy and breastfeeding made me totally snap. Call it postpartum, call it fomo on the young people experience, call it enjoying the fact I suddenly had money. A support system meant I got to be there for my kids a *lot* but I also got to run off and live my own life a *lot*.

    I have just as many memories of going out to concerts with my friends and taking vacations with my spouse as I remember long snuggly weeks chasing toddlers, and I feel really lucky for that. I couldn’t have done it without a community of alloparents, including the one I live with.

    I’m definitely not the most present mother in the world, but I’m also far from the least. Nowadays, my availability is a sine wave based on how my cognitive disabilities are going, basically. I am available every day for routine things (bedtime, making meals) and having nice chats, but I’m not the mom who is organizing playdates, structuring activities, etc. That’s really all I have and, frankly, all I want to give. I’m not interested in most traditional Mom Stuff that was expected of the parenting generation immediately before mine.

    Sunshine has said that Rory is as good as Mommy; Eldest Moonlight feels Rory is like some very special Gay Yoda who lives in the house and also adores them. I love the very special relationship I have with my kids and I love that they are lucky enough to have close special relationships with other adults who love them too.


    Here’s a bit of Variety puff about Sarah Sherman on SNL. She’s the “body horror comic.”

    I’ve been thinking about her a lot because horror hits Gen Z differently than it hit my generation – like, remember how it was dangerous to be a nerd for Boomers and Gen X, but Millennials made nerds cool? Well, Millennials were kinda uneasy with horror as a cultural movement, and Gen Z has made it their Thing. I love it.

    I am okay with Sarah Sherman. It’s actually not her gross bits that bother me, but the fact that she sometimes screams straight through other sketches, and she just doesn’t have a lot of dynamic. I personally like comedians who can do dramatic roles as well as comic ones, and it’s still too early in her career to call it. I don’t even know that’s in her interests. Maybe she’ll go in a more technical or production direction?


    Lawyers, Guns, & Money have a good read about Kissinger’s hatred for India and how he was a scummy scumbag, not a pragmatist.


    One of The Weeknd’s songs is doing that thing where it gets a belated TikTok revival (Variety). He has a lot of really good music, Die For You included, but I’m not over the general disappointment of his live concert and that hilariously bad tv show. We’re still on the outs, Mr Tesfaye. Sorry.


    Here’s a review of Bill Watterson’s new book (The New York Review of Books) which spoils it so thoroughly, you kinda don’t need to read it, but I’ve got it on order anyway. It sounds like it needs to live with my art books.

    If you recognize the name Bill Watterson but aren’t sure why, he’s the legendary elusive hermit artist responsible for Calvin & Hobbes.

    Billed by the publishers as a “fable for grown-ups,” The Mysteries is structured like a picture book, slim and square, with a sentence or two on every left-hand page and a single image on the right. The words are spare and, especially at the beginning, seem simple. The time is “long ago,” and the people live in fear of “the Mysteries” that dwell in the woods, “shrouded in mists,” unseen but apparently “everywhere.” Stories are told of them, paintings painted of the sufferings they cause, walls built to keep them out. Finally, “the desperate King” sends his knights out into the forest to hunt down these Mysteries and bring them back.


    A short read about ghostwriters behind the YA and middle grade books of my era from BookRiot.


    I wasn’t planning on reading Liz Cheney’s anything, so I appreciate this Balloon Juice overview of the bits I’d find mildly interesting.


    Ars Technica talks about an innovative geothermal power plant that is…not very far from me. Somewhere northeast ish. Like if I headed out to the farm town where I used to do corn mazes, I might trip over this power plant.

    Instead of drilling into a natural hydrothermal system, Fervo dug into rock that is completely dry and effectively created an artificial hot spring by pumping down water that returns to the surface much hotter.

    That strategy piggybacks on hydraulic fracturing techniques developed by the oil and gas industry. Fervo drilled two wells that each extended more than 7,000 feet down before turning fully horizontal. It then connected them by fracking, producing cracks in the rock that connected the two boreholes. Water enters one borehole cold and exits the other at a temperature high enough to drive turbines and generate power.

    Fervo announced that its experiment had been a success this summer after a monthlong testing period that saw temperatures at the bottom of the boreholes reach 375 degrees Fahrenheit (191 C) and enough water torrenting through the system to produce an estimated 3.5 megawatts of electricity.

    It’s cool to hear we’re trying different kinds of energy. Nevada has always been a testing ground for things whether we like it or not, and this is one I like more than usual.

    That said, using fracking to connect the shafts sounds scary to me. I don’t think it’s a rational scary? I’m not sure what the risks of fracking can be in other contexts, but I’m sure that this is creeping me out because I’m imagining some Junji Ito scenario where I get shot through these cracked rocks. The hole is mine! It was made for me!


    Deadline reports that Disney is up to the usual garbage where it takes every excuse possible to hoard money, which they especially love doing to writers. Where are the dragonslayers when you need em?

  • sara reads the feed

    SRF 14: Weird traffic, personal brands, late-stage movie sequels

    It’s gotten very cold in my world. I would leave the house slightly more if I wasn’t embarrassed to leave in my snuggly pajamas.


    Seeing the limitations of my own reach on social media via traffic to egregious is humbling, to say the least. I don’t share all my posts, and I don’t cross-post to all the websites when I do, so I’m only getting samples of what my visibility is like on social media. The samples aren’t impressive, though.

    I keep thinking that little reach of mine is it, end of story, in terms of traffic, unless I decide to advertise stuff or write potentially viral content.

    But I completely did not consider search engines as a source of traffic. There it is in my stats. Search traffic.

    Of course I do not have my stats configured correctly, so I don’t know what searches are bringing folks here. Are they coming because of movie title searches, maybe? I have been watching an awful lot of movies. I also link to news articles by title sometimes, so that might be a source of traffic, but again…no clue. There’s a real easy way to satiate my curiosity I probably won’t do.

    None of these numbers mean anything *tangible* to me, anyway. I’m not monetizing. No ads or sponcon here. I guess if someone performed a statistically near-impossible number of clicks to get traffic from a search engine to this website, then my author website, and then my books that cost money, I could get paid at some point for what I’m doing, but my understanding is That’s Too Much Work And Users Don’t Do That.

    These are the mental negotiations I make with myself to convince myself that I blog into a silent void, and the void is important for maintaining the fun of it.

    I live in perpetual terror of being perceived.


    The instant I saw the words “gay musical parody of Saw,” (NPR) I ran off to send this article to a queer horror fan friend of mine. I just gotta say…you should DEFINITELY try to be the kind of person who gets queer horror musicals sent to you. What a personal brand. (I get funny animal news and unusual applications for human skulls sent to me, which is also a great person to be.)


    We are to be punished with a sequel to This Is Spinal Tap. (Variety)


    The Doctor who got me into the show briefly for one short binge when Eldest was a baby has come back, and now he works for Disney. (Engadget)


    Ars Technica shared a fun project that allows you to play DOS classics in your browser.


    Here’s an interview that offers an explanation for the Roswell incident (NPR), which is not as compelling as the line drawn between the rise of UFO conspiracy theories and the alt-right’s obsession with America’s so-called deep state.

    “The foundation of our modern conspiratorial age in our politics begins in the wake of Watergate with UFOs,” Graff says. “You don’t get January 6th and the big lie in the 2020 election without the foundation of those UFO conspiracies in the ’80s and ’90s.”


    Digby’s Hullaballoo has interesting commentary on the generalized and incredibly personal hostility of Trump followers.


    Book Riot covers the dystopian nightmare mirror universe of a website claiming to offer a right-wing book fair alternative to Scholastic. Because we really needed to get more right-wing than Scholastic.


    I’m going to link this NPR article about bat penises with the warning that it’s about bat penises. There’s diagrams. Detailed discussion of bat sexytimes. If you click on that, you gotta know what you’re getting into. But they describe a kind of mammalian intercourse that is…not familiar to me…and although I sort of regret knowing about it, knowledge is power, or something?


    Lawyers, Guns, & Money tries to understand large language models. It seems they’re not confident in their understanding by the end of it, but I actually feel like this explained things well.


    They really didn’t need a giant storm battering Russia and Ukraine’s coasts, yet there it is. (AJE)

    More than half a million people are without power in occupied-Crimea, Russia and Ukraine after a storm in the Black Sea region flooded roads, ripped up trees and took down power lines, according to Russian state media and Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy.

    More than 2,000 towns and villages were without electricity on Sunday night and Monday morning in 16 Ukrainian regions, including Odesa, Mykolaiv and inland in Kyiv, as trees were uprooted, power lines snapped and electrical substations failed, leaving almost 150,000 households in the area without electricity, Ukraine’s Energy Ministry said.

  • sara reads the feed

    SRF 13: Subtle deepfakes, Flo, and family

    The horrible drive to mess with Egregious seems to have passed. I can tell my dopamine pathways are no longer hijacked by writing, posting, sharing, and checking stats, which is the kind of small-numbers game that my brain can really latch onto. This is a good thing. I have a lot of plates I would like to spin, creatively speaking, and I don’t especially need website stuff booting other stuff out right now. You know?

    But I do still wanna post in a low-motivation way, which is exactly the right amount of motivation. If all of my interests are in the zone of motivation where I’m like “I don’t mind doing this, but I could do something else” then I’m really happy.


    I have been reading the news the last couple days, but not really saving articles to talk about. I haven’t had commentary on mind. Holidays are enough of a change from routine that I’m distracted, even if I have literally not set foot out my front door.

    Having family around always helps put things into a more reasonable perspective, somehow. If it’s just me and the news on my computer, I don’t feel like I’m the right scale. A human-sized person worries about life-sized things, like…how’s my sister’s job going? what’s my mom up to? But an internet news-sized person is like, can I please get an update on the preemies who were in Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital when the conflict began? why are all systems so corrupt, especially Hollywood and the British Royal Family? why are so many artists so spineless as to support tech billionaires in their whole AI thing? and other things that make my fingers itch for the keyboard.

    I only made a couple crochet-related things the last couple days. A sleeve for my kid, a phone purse using leather strips. Both of these were small and not very time intensive (relative to one of my big bags taking 12 hours+ of hooking) so it doesn’t feel like I’ve been doing it at all. My wrists/arms were killing me. The rest is necessary, I think.

    So I guess it’s back to blogging for the moment.


    This article about Flo from Progressive (NYT) is more interesting than I expected. I like reading about the strange trajectories artists’ careers can take. I wouldn’t have expected the actress’s life to intersect so much with the sorta NYC comedy circuit I follow, but it makes sense now that I think about it.


    It’s not exactly the same as we see in America, but this sad story of a Roma boy killed in a police conflict (AJE) and the following protest actions is familiar.

    Very familiar. Tell me if you’ve heard this one before.

    In his testimony, the police officer, reportedly said: “I was shouting for him to open the door, so we could check on him, I had taken out my pistol because I didn’t know who was inside the vehicle and if he carried a weapon.

    “When I opened the car door, he tried to grab my gun. When I realised his intention, I drew the pistol and then I heard the click, I froze.”

    The victim’s brother countered this in an interview with Greek television channel OPEN, claiming the officer hit the window of the car with the gun, pulled Michalopoulos out of the vehicle, kicked him, and then shot him.

    This sucks and I hope they get justice.


    This longer read from The New Yorker about the life of a pre-Columbine school shooter is more interesting than I expected. Parts of it are incredibly difficult. But the siblings’ relationship is fascinating.

    Before I could ask Kip about his crimes, he brought them up. It seemed that he had been trying for the past twenty-five years to answer one question: Why, exactly, did he do it? Or, as he put it, “How could I have gotten to this point at fifteen that all these things came together—where my humanity collapsed, and I did this horrific thing to people I loved and to people I didn’t know?”

    He mentioned not only his mental illness but also “cultural factors.” Hunting was a popular pastime in Springfield, and guns were part of life in the town, he explained. “It was common in October—deer-hunting season—that seniors would drive to school with their hunting rifles in the back of their truck, just like someone else would pack a cooler for a camping trip. It was very normal.” Kip’s father was not a hunter, but, Kip said, he had owned three guns: a hunting rifle, a pistol he had bought for protection in the sixties or seventies, and a .22 single-shot rifle he had received as a gift when he turned twelve.

    “If you would have asked me ten minutes ago if we had any guns in the house, I would have said no,” Kristin said. She had never been interested in guns or hunting. She added, “Mom was very, very anti-violence. I remember she wouldn’t let you play with G.I. Joes. She wouldn’t let us watch Bugs Bunny—it was too violent.”

    Kip did not disagree, but, he said, “Dad did take me out when I was pretty young and taught me how to shoot.” He added, “Our parents were wonderful people, but I think we had different experiences in part because of gender.”


    When visiting hours ended, Kristin hugged Kip and left. As we stepped out of the prison, she seemed to be reeling from everything her brother had said. For a while, she was quiet, but as we walked back toward the parking lot she exhaled loudly. “I cannot believe what different childhoods we had,” she said.

    I’m not sure that there is a “typical” mass shooter, but it seems atypical for a mass shooter to have schizophrenia in this way. I’ve only heard other motivations. Out of curiosity, I looked it up. According to Columbia University’s Department of Psychiatry, only 5% of shootings are attributed to severe mental illness.


    NPR reports on a rising issue. Civilian deaths are being dismissed as ‘crisis actors’ in Gaza and Israel

    The false accusations have spread on multiple platforms, including X and Facebook, boosted by pro-Israel influencers with large followings. Some of the videos on X carry labels warning they are “presented out of context.” But the false claims have still been widely seen, with one video racking up 5 million views.

    Crisis actor narratives have become a standard element of the messy information landscape of catastrophe, from the war in Syria to the Russian invasion of Ukraine to mass shootings in the U.S.

    Sometimes, the claim is that a real victim never existed. Other times, behind-the-scenes movie footage or images of unrelated events are presented as proof an incident was staged.

    But the intent is the same, Ayad said. “It comes out of a defensive posturing: trying to essentially downplay civilian casualties in conflicts of this nature.”

    And that’s why the false claims keep coming. They’re a way of deflecting the horrors of war.

    It’s morbidly interesting that we are still getting a ton of this low-tech social engineering as part of the fog of war, and not so much with deepfakes and AI-generated stuff. The latter is out there; it’s just not playing a huge role. War is an ancient business. The froth of misinformation has been well-honed, and we don’t really *need* computers to make it worse, I guess.

    The link in that last paragraph is especially interesting to me because I’ve seen one of those AI images around, scrolling quickly past things, and never gave it two thoughts. Usually AI leaps out at me even if I’m just scrolling. Would I have noticed if I actually looked at it? What impact did glancing exposure to the AI-generated image have on my sentiments?

    They describe the information environment as “polluted” and it’s wild to get a vague sense of how much I might be exposed to without knowing it. And this goes for all of us. I’m kinda gullible, but probably in an average way. Yikes.


    Alone Together: An Illustrated Celebration of the Art of Shared Solitude (The Marginalian)


    Cult of the Lamb is getting a free update! (Engadget)

  • sara reads the feed

    SRF #12: Early morning nonsense-posting, grim details, and puppies

    Did you know that humans kinda naturally sleep in two blocks, divided by a wake-up period in the middle? That wake-up period is sometimes called “the watch.” It’s when humans might have refueled the fire, had sex with their partners, use the bathroom, or even written in journals (presumably sitting close to the fire they just fed).

    In that context, it’s not so weird that I sleep all split up most of the time. Seldom do I go a day without a midday nap; sometimes I wake up very early and go back to bed until midmorning instead.

    If you see me making strange posts in the early morning, I might be in some funky “watch” period of my own. I’m not really awake. I’m kind of asleep. Melatonin might still be sitting on my head. I might have taken something to fall back asleep, but it hasn’t kicked in (or it kicked in and I’m asleep on my feet).

    For some reason, I still think I have to share my opinions. It’s up to you whether these watch-hour nonsenseposts mean anything.


    The nice thing about obscurity is that such posts don’t get read unless I link to them from social media, so I can really put this stuff out there for my own satisfaction and not worry folks might think or respond.

    It’s fun checking to see my site’s analytics. Most common referrer is Facebook – perhaps not too surprising, given that I still have a lot of friends over yonder. Twitter is the second-best with about 3/4 the referrals. I wish Bluesky could give me even a fraction of that stuff, but I think I’ve gotten one or two clicks on there, max, despite getting decent on-site engagement.

    None of this means anything right now since I don’t have ads or anything on here. I’m still just posting for my own gratification. Numbers are gratifying! I like to poking stuff to see what happens.


    I have a ton of links in my feed right now, but I’m skimming a ton because I’m avoiding deals and whatnot. I’m just…not doing that this year. So here’s just a couple things I looked at, minimal commentary. Hope you’ve been enjoying time with your family lately.


    Her Hands, My Hands has a round-up of resources that could use help this holiday season.


    I’d been watching articles about the violence in Dublin, waiting to understand everything happening. It’s not good. (NPR) It looks like the tl;dr of a messy situation is that there was a stabbing in Dublin, perpetrated by a “foreign national.” A right-wing element seized on this as an excuse to begin anti-immigration riots. But while the original source of violence may have been foreign, the person who stopped the attack was also an immigrant. (Daily Beast)


    An evocative short piece called “I Am Cascadia” on Only Fragments.


    Digby’s Hullabaloo posted about the birth of a white rhino baby. :^) That’s a rhino baby smiley.


    Deadline reports that Venom 3 is back in production again. GOOD. I need more gay alien shit.


    Do you like the thing that one channel does where they sit actors down with puppies and interview them? Chris Pine did one of those things. (YouTube link)