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?

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