Category Archives: Daily Post
Those of you who know me, know that I like language and especially like writing systems, and if you know me really well you know that I have a soft spot for runes, particularly the Elder Futhark. So you will probably understand that this graffiti caught my attention.
I’ve spent the last few hours working on it, and if this says anything I don’t have enough to figure it out. The leftmost glyph I can’t find in any version of the runic alphabets, either it comes from somewhere else or they made it up. The second from the left only exists in one Anglo Saxon inscription, the Ruthwell Cross, which is old enough that we can’t be sure whether the character was only briefly in use, or only used in that region because they had a funny way of pronouncing “K” when it was is followed by a secondary fronted vowel. The last two are jera in the Elder Futhark and calc in Anglo Saxon, I was only able to find those two specific shapes together in the
runic alphabet variant from Gothenburg in Sweden.
So whatever this is intended to mean, it’s not using a historical version of the runes. Seven unique letters isn’t enough to work out even the simplest substitution cipher, and if they’ve done something more arcane like made up their own language it might be literally impossible for me to figure it out. I mean, I still honestly don’t know if that first character is just made up or not.
But that’s boring, and I like to try to figure things out. So I dug out my old runic divination book, loaded up some likely meanings for that Ruthwell rune, remembered that in divination you read the runes from right to left, and assumed that the mystery glyph is a signature or initial of some sort.
I think the best interpretation I came up with was “Danger, the harvest of giants nears completion, seek the chalice, Signed.”
It’s both a very cool feature and a frustrating bug that broad symbolic interpretation is really wide open. I think I mentioned in my post about runic divination years ago that the handy part is you automatically discard the interpretations that don’t apply to you. Going totally in the dark like this, there’s just too many possibilities! And of course we can’t discard the idea that this person just liked runes, much as I do, and took a lot of drugs and felt inspired to write some runes down.
I’m going to ignore that possibility for now, though, for two reasons. First, because this is clearly writing, not just a doodle, and writing is always intended to convey meaning. Second, because on my way home tonight I saw jera, in the Elder style, (that’s the second from the right that looks like two offset angle brackets in that picture), painted prominently on a utility box. With dots to either side, which is important because in a lot of runic writing dots are used instead of spaces. So whoever painted it wanted us to know that it was meant to stand alone.
Look, this could easily be some kid who’s into old writing systems. Hell, during the more troubled years of my youth it could have been me. Whatever it means, I’m really curious about this, so do me a favor and if you see any rune graffiti, please take a picture and send it to me. I don’t just mean people in my area, either.
This is mostly pure curiosity, but there’s also a more serious possible explanation. One group of people, or maybe group of groups of people, who have been using runes and growing in popularity lately, is white supremacists. If this graffiti is coming from neo-nazis active in my city, I damn well want to know about it.
Take care everyone.
Ah, Infowars. You manage to be the premiere right-wing conspiracy theory group and also the best parody of right-wing conspiracy theorists at the same time.
I don’t remember how I stumbled across this video. I think it was on Tuesday, give or take, but I’m not sure about when either. I tried to embed but WordPress wasn’t having that, so you’ll have to follow the link if you want to watch it. Which is fine, they have a transcript there which is, frankly, easier to work with.
Let’s spend a paragraph or two describing the video.
Owen Shroyer is our host, and he begins by challenging us to call him crazy, call him a conspiracy theorist. Then he shows us an animated map of total precipitable water from August 9th. He narrates how there are two hurricanes forming in the Pacific, then a wave or energy beam emanates from Antarctica and suddenly the budding storms split and dissipate. Then we’re treated to a similar map from the same source around August 22, (he says “yesterday”, it was posted on the 23rd, and the world is large and has time zones) and a similar effect is described.
Then Shroyer and his guest, Professor Darrell Hamamoto, speculate wildly that since John Kerry went to Antarctica in November of 2016, maybe he’s connected to these events, and that there might be, and I’m just going to quote from the transcript here, “there might be a direct line that connects that facility down in Antarctica to the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington D.C., where the Obama Foundation is housed”.
Okay Owen, you’re a conspiracy theorist. Read the rest of this entry
Decades from now, there will be a true story. It might be a book or a movie, or both, or maybe something new that doesn’t even exist yet. But it will be a famous, powerful story about someone’s search for their birth parents, whom they haven’t seen since they were taken away as a child by the United State Government in 2018.
Mark my words, this will absolutely happen. The only uncertainty is how famous it will actually be. If I am still alive, I will do my best to make it more famous.
This policy is going to be remembered by history as evil. When it is remembered at all, of course; Americans have a knack for forgetting the uglier parts of our history. I don’t really have the energy to say much about this, it’s a painful subject to think about and also while I was preparing this post I learn that Attorney General Jeff Sessions it going to deny, or at least limit, asylum to people escaping domestic violence. I can only assume he’s trying to set a precedent to make it harder for his victims to escape. But a few things are worth saying.
First, this is evil, and cruel, and illegal in the eyes of any sensible court, and despite the repeated use of the passive “separating families”, I can’t see it as anything but kidnapping. But what really frightens me isn’t that a few sadistic assholes in power set this policy, it’s that so many Americans are willing to support it.
A significant number of Americans seem to honestly think that taking children away is an appropriate, proportionate response to people traveling without proper documentation.
That’s like evil witch in the dark fairytale forest level shit right there. Read the rest of this entry
So this morning I had a lovely breakfast at The Cove on Castro, an excellent diner that I strongly recommend, and then sat down at Twin Peaks Tavern to sip a Bloody Mary and write a blog post.
This is not that post.
I was making good progress on my writing, despite working on my phone, and nearing the end of my drink when I heard a wail from outside and looked up to see a man sitting on a little hard shell suitcase and screaming at whatever internal demons were tormenting him. Seeing people in crisis like this is a part of city life, and you learn to sort of tune it out after a while and just get on with your day. Which is pretty much what I did, I felt sorry for the poor guy and then went back to trying to find the perfect set of words to describe how a coat should smell.
A few minutes later, the window exploded.
Screaming Guy had swung his little suitcase into the big window, sending glass flying everywhere. He promptly took off downhill, and passed out of my knowledge. After a shocked moment someone pursued, but I don’t know if anything came of that.
Nobody was hurt, although the two guys sitting at the table right in front of it abandoned their drinks in case of glass.
When things had calmed down a bit, I realized that my blog post hadn’t been saved and was lost forever. So that’s been my morning.
Sunday Update: During the afternoon, I noticed a typo in that post and opened up the WordPress app on my phone to fix it. After making the change and updating the post I hit the back button a few times, intending to exit the app, and was suddenly looking at an earlier draft of the post, and found that the post had been unpublished and reverted to that earlier, barely started version.
This sent me into a funk that lasted well into the evening and has more or less convinced me that the WordPress mobile app is more trouble that it’s worth. That was two posts yesterday that I lost to that app!
Many thanks to excellent person Tadhg for sending me a copy of this post, allowing me to restore it properly.
So here’s a quick update for anyone who’s wondered what’s going on with me.
Thursday morning I got sick. Really sick. It happened fast, at 8:00 I was thinking “That walk sure seemed to take a lot out of me”, and 8:30 I was nauseous enough to be certain there was something more going on, and at 8:45 it was clear that I wouldn’t be able to continue my workday. By 10:30 I was bedridden.
I haven’t been that sick in a long time.
There was a strange moment last night where I suddenly realized what day it was. I had fallen into this surreal, timeless world. My usual indicators of time abandoned me; sleep came randomly without the usual cycles, I couldn’t eat and had no appetite, I had no work or social obligations, and from my apartment (especially when all the blinds are closed because I’m sick) you don’t get more than “night” or “day” from a glance at the window.
So, I’m definitely over the worst of it. Hopefully my body has gotten rid of whatever bug caused this and all I’m feeling now is the effects of two days of broken sleep and almost no food. Last night I finally got about four hours of proper sleep, and I can definitely tell the difference between it and what I was getting before.
Deep in the night, when I was trying not to lie awake in bed, I passed some time by playing Stardew Valley. That’s a video game that’s mostly about farming, but also has a relationship game and a dungeon crawl in it, and possibly more that I haven’t discovered yet.
So it’s vaguely around 4am, I’ve gotten my first chickens, and I’m feeling like I was not given enough information to properly care for these animals. In particular I inspected them one morning and they were both described as “[chicken’s name] looks sad.” That’s all it gave me, and I found it very distressing. What does it mean that my chickens look sad? Is there some course of action that this is meant to suggest? WHY ARE MY CHICKENS SAD?!
I went to bed soon after.
So there’s my update. I’m not even close to 100%, but I don’t think I’m infected anymore. I’m going to cook some breakfast now, but I thick I’ll save the spicy sausage and just have eggs and toast this morning.
I hadn’t meant to be silent this long. I’ve written several partial posts, and early this month I wrote a complete post on third-party voting and protest votes that got swallowed by the great null, and I’m still upset about that because it was some of my best writing in the past few years.
Then the election happened. To be honest, I think that broke me a bit.
So here we are. We’ve elected a know-nothing huckster and a theocratic nightmare to executive office, we’ve handed both houses of Congress to the party of human suffering, and because the Democrats didn’t bother to fight over the Supreme Court appointment we can expect a conservative activist judge to replace the last conservative activist judge.
The Southern Poverty Law Center documented 701 incidents of hate in the week after the election. The “Alt-Right”, which I’ll remind you is just a re-branding of white nationalism, (yes, including actual fucking nazis) has been celebrating, and here in San Francisco there has been a palpable chill in daily life, punctuated by demonstrations.
I’ve heard several reports of young trans people committing suicide. I’ve not bothered to try confirming those, because I’m depressed enough already, but it’s worth mentioning that nobody found that hard to believe.
So what can we do about it?
First, find out which elected officials represent you. There’s an excellent tool for that here. There’s also some really good resources here, which is in general a site worth bookmarking for all the handy information on it. Get the contact information for everyone representing you, both the U.S. Congress and your state legislature, and make a handy list for yourself.
Then contact them. It’s actually pretty easy to make an appointment and see them in person, which probably has the best impact on them. Next is a phone call, and then writing a letter, and finally an email is still better than nothing.
I don’t know what your life is like, what resources you have and what challenges you face, so I won’t tell you how much to invest in this. But do something. Even if it’s just a form letter email that you change the names on and send out to everyone, that’s a hell of a lot better than griping on facebook.
I’m also going to echo the words of P. Andrew Torrez, from the Opening Arguments podcast, that if you only have health insurance because Obamacare forced insurance companies to provide coverage even for those with pre-existing conditions, you can make a big impact by making an appointment and looking them in the eyes and telling them how repealing the Affordable Care Act will affect you. Even Ted Cruz is not so reptilian that he’d be unmoved by looking at someone’s actual face while they explain that if the ACA is repealed they will die.
On a side note, if you’re not listening to Opening Arguments, you should be.
Get involved. Talk to your reps, even if you didn’t vote for them, even if their platform is everything you abhor. We have a representative government and it is literally their job to care what you think. Don’t be rude to them, don’t be defensive, there’s no need to even get confrontational; just make it clear where you stand.
Somehow we’ve forgotten that this is how our government is supposed to work. We get caught up in protests and big dramatic demonstrations, and those certainly have their place, but they mean nothing if people don’t participate in the government. It does no good to raise awareness if people, once aware of the problem, do nothing about it.
I’ll try to be back with more soon. I’m long overdue for a Constitution post, and also I’ve been falling out of the habit of writing, which must be maintained.
As always, thank you for reading, share your thoughts in the comments, and please take care of each other.
So tonight I watched Buffy Live at the Oasis, a camp-drag version of the late 90s Joss Whedon TV show. I don’t think it was as accessibly funny as last year’s Star Trek Live, but to anyone who was a teenager in the mid-to-late 90s it was probably a better bet for a fun show!
The thing about Star Trek Live was that it appealed to Trek fans, which has permeated pop-culture to the point that almost everyone could appreciate a show based on it, while Buffy was solidly aiming for the nostalgia of a very specific time frame. And it really, really delivered!
From the music played before, during, and after the show, to the atmosphere of the show and the venue in general, to the clothing worn by most of the audience, (because really, they knew what the real draw here was), the whole outfit came together to bring people back to 1997, when the internet was still the domain of techno-geeks, music still tasted of Seattle grunge, and vampires were kinda wimpy if you could get a sharp piece of wood between their ribs.
My personal favorite bits were the glaring at the audience, daring any of us to disagree every time Buffy was referred to as a sixteen year old girl; the pitch-perfect performances of the Giles and Joyce characters; the way the character of Jesse was cut entirely out of the show with about as much impact as his death had in the TV series; and the fact that for all his handwaving and scene-chewing, the guy playing Angel still delivered a more nuanced and believable performance than David Boreanaz did in the first few episodes.
I’ll also give a shout out to the woman who congratulated me on how awesome I was after the show, and after being told that I wasn’t actually in the show went on to explain that I was clearly awesome anyways and started touching my face before finally wandering back off to her life. I may have lied to her and said I was married. But she definitely added to that sense of 90s nostalgia, harkening back to a time when people used to make me uncomfortable by getting into my personal space and touching me too much.
If you loved the TV show you should obviously see this, but also if you ever think about that general era, that time in our lives, or really in our culture, then you should definitely see this. The cast is fun, the themed specialty drinks are tasty, and the crowd is a blast! I suspect it’s not as broadly-appealing as Star Trek Live, but to anyone who lived thru the 90s it will be worth the price!
The show is at the Oasis on 11th and Folsom and runs Wednesday thru Sunday until The end of the month, with a special closing night on Halloween. Buy tickets here!
So the opponents of Prop. V have almost convinced me to support it.
Let me back up a bit.
Proposition V is going to be on the ballot this November here in San Francisco. It’s a city-level tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, which for this purpose is being defined as “a beverage that contains added sugar and 25 or more calories per 12 ounces.” When you look at the list of things that are exempt it becomes quite clear that this is specifically targeting soda pop (I don’t even remember the last time I saw those two words together, let alone wrote them myself. Weird.) and other junk-food drinks. Diet soda, alcohol, and probably anything you think of as a healthy soft drink are not subject to it.
There are a lot of valid and interesting points of discussion to this proposal, and I think some good conversations could be had about it, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about the campaign against it, specifically the mailings I’ve been getting that were paid for by No on V, Enough is Enough: Don’t Tax Our Groceries, with Major Funding by American Beverage Association California PAC.
That’s seriously what it says. Take a moment to appreciate that at some point there had to be a committee meeting in which people deliberately chose that name. On purpose. Read the rest of this entry
The biggest problem I have with writing these days is that the time I feel most able to really sit down and work on something is about the same time I need to be putting on my shoes and going to work. Seriously, that flurry of activity over the weekend started when I woke up early Saturday morning and took a notebook out for coffee.
Apparently in my brain the best conditions for writing are an early start and hot beverages.
It carries over, though. Every morning this week I’ve wanted to write something. Like I’ve got it moving again now and want to keep at it before I lose momentum. I’m posting this from my phone while I’m on the bus just to try to keep that going.
Unfortunately that’s really all I have just now, something to try to keep the momentum going. I have things I want to write about, but they’ll have to wait at least a little longer.
Honestly, I might have managed something quick during breakfast, but I saw a headline that read something like 8 students burned to death for blasphemy and had to go find something soothing to look at.
Things are changing around here.
You might even have noticed some changes already. I doubt I’ll be messing around with my site’s design or WordPress theme any time soon, I still like the way it looks, but I’ve become more and more irritated by internet advertising and so I’ve decided to stop being a part of the problem. Read the rest of this entry
So last night I worked late. I headed home anxiously looking forward to kicking my shoes off and relaxing.
In the elevator of my building I smelled smoke. Faintly, just enough for me to wonder who burned dinner.
When I got into my apartment I could really smell smoke, and could faintly hear a smoke alarm thru the walls. I got concerned then.
After wandering the halls for a bit, I went upstairs and find the halls filled with smoke, and I could hear smoke alarms from the apartment directly above mine and next door to that one. About the time I was noticing this I encountered security guards hunting for the smoke and sent them that way. I then grabbed my bag and cleared out, not wanting to be in the way of professionals.
As I walked away from the building, fire engines and hook-&-ladder trucks started converging on it. I walked to a bar a few blocks away, ordered a beer, and settled in to wait. I filled in the bartender and some friends on the situation, and tried not to think of the idea that I might be suddenly homeless. I became painfully aware of the renter’s insurance that I had allowed to lapse thru poor budgeting.
After my second beer I went to find out what had happened. The bartender advised me to come back if my building head burned down, he’d give me a couple free drinks to help cope.
In hindsight, I under-tipped him.
The building was fine. My upstairs neighbor had left a pot on the stove. I’ll add that to the crimes of late-night stomping and dropping condoms out the window that they are already guilty of in my mind. This morning I could still smell the smoke, but I kept the windows open until I left and I think it’s mostly cleared by now.
The moral of this story, if there is one, is that things can go very wrong very fast. I’m going to renew my renter’s insurance, because at $200 a year it’s frankly a bargain compared to suddenly having everything I own burn up because some dipshit never learned not to leave a stove unattended. I mean, I can’t actually stop my things from burning, but I can get compensated for them so I can rebuild if something like that happens.
Three other lesson here is that you should never ever leave hot things unattended unless they are specifically designed to deal with that. Which is pretty much crock pots and the specialized ovens we use at work, in my experience. I’m sure there are other things, but seriously if you aren’t sure, don’t leave it alone. Fire can go from no big deal to a major catastrophe in less than a minute, so be careful with it!
In other news, you are probably already aware that I like to have a Bloody Mary on a weekend morning. Today I decided to try the Vesuvio Cafe in North Beach, which makes a big deal of the fact that Kerouac used to frequent it. I’m am definitely impressed by the atmosphere, its an awesome and comfortable place to hang out, but I’m also stunned (almost literally!) by how strong the drinks are. I usually think of a Bloody Mary as a tomato beverage with a little vodka in it, but this is a vodka drink with tomato juice for color. Damn.
There are many, many other things that I want to write about, but I have people to meet and things to do, so they’ll have to wait. In the meantime, take care of yourselves, make sure the important insurance is paid up. And always watch while the bartender makes your drink.
This morning I’m sitting in a historic gay bar, sipping a Bloody Mary and watching the weather waffle over whether to rain or not. I’m trying to figure out what mix of breeds the dog that just walked by is. Maybe corgi and golden retriever? Adorable dog, short legs, fluffy golden coat. The kind of dog you desperately want to hug, who will probably let you even though dogs don’t really like or understand hugs.
Overall, I’ve had far, far worse Saturday mornings.
But the reason I’m writing this is that I can see a tour group forming in the plaza across Castro street. City Guides offers free tours all over the city, and I highly recommend them for anyone who has an interest in history.
I’ve taken that particular tour before, a lovely trek through Castro neighborhood history, with a sizable chunk of gay rights history. At this point I’ve given you enough information to figure out which bar I’m sitting in, although the number of bars open this early, even on a Saturday, is probably small so it’s not as big a challenge as it first seems.
Anyway, City Guides gives a time and location for the start of each tour and their FAQ entry on how to recognize the guide includes this phrase, “If you don’t see the badge, just look for someone at the appointed place who seems ready to lead a tour.”
I love that phrase.
In context, it totally works. You go to the right place at the right time, and you’ll see someone standing around, slightly awkwardly, holding a clipboard while looking around at people to see who’s looking for them and gather the group. But as a standalone phrase, it really fires of my imagination. I can picture someone just hanging out, and a group of people deciding that this person “seems ready to lead a tour.” In the movie of my mind, the ersatz tour guide plays along and leads them around the area telling stories and giving as much history as possible from memory, resulting in a colorful, if apocryphal, experience for the hapless group.
I’ll admit this post is light on substance, but I so loved and wanted to share the mental image of that tour group; wandering around and gradually realizing that they hadn’t found the proper guide and were just following some random passerby, and that they were enjoying themselves enough to be OK with that.
Have a wonderful Saturday, everybody. I hope all of your adventures are instructive and enjoyable, even if they weren’t what you had planned.
Okay, so after two months of silence I’m posting what’s little more than an advertisement. What can I say, I’m a jerk sometimes. But despite the eyeroll-inducing name, D-Bags look pretty cool.
The basic idea is very straightforward, and will be instantly obvious to anyone who’s played Dungeons & Dragons or any other game where you need lots of dice in different denominations: it’s a dice bag with pockets inside to sort your dice.
They come in a wide variety of colors and textures, and the true dice collector can get the giant version, a marvelous thing which is just absurdly huge!
So if you’re a player of games, go check out the kickstarter. It ends today, so hurry! Here’s the link!
I meant to include more pictures, but ran late and had to finish this post on my phone. Sorry about that.
Tonight while I was waiting for the metro a man walked up talking to everybody and nobody in an agitated voice. Like most city dwellers my first instinct was to ignore him, but his words were so… self affirming, I suppose, and lacking the usual warning signs of someone who might get violent, that I felt compelled to sort of cheer him on. “Damn right you’re worthy!”
As we boarded the train, he calmed down, asked me what line we were on, and left at the next station. I find myself wondering if he was mentally ill, or on drugs, or perhaps had just had an encounter with someone who vocally disapproved of him being, I think his words were “a beautiful black queen”, and needed to reassert himself.
Whatever the case, I hope his evening has gotten better since.
I’m honestly trying to write more, but everything is pissing me off to the point where it always feels like anything I start will turn out to be nothing but a big long whine.
We have a political candidate (I almost wrote “political theater candidate,” which feels more accurate, to be honest) who’s getting serious support whose entire platform is based on being rich and hating a lot of people.
That scares the hell out of me, because even if he doesn’t have a chance of actually getting elected, what does it say about our country, and our culture, that he’s doing as well as he is? Hell what does it say about our world that hate and fear are still driving forces in societies? That a major point of so many social groups is that it will make you feel justified in treating other people like shit?
I remember a couple years back reading (and writing) about Christian Fascists in Greece, the part that comes to mind is a young man proudly proclaiming himself a Christian Fascist and declaring that this gave him the right to tell someone to leave. Now here in the USA we have audiences cheering a man for saying that given power he would institute torture.
I just don’t even want to live on this planet anymore.
Intergalactic superstar David Bowie returned to his home planet yesterday, we who remain on Earth mourn his departure.
Wil Wheaton said it pretty well on his blog, Bowie didn’t seem mortal. The idea of him dying doesn’t seem real somehow.
I can’t possibly do him or his career justice, all I can do is listen to Blackstar, his most recent album, and try to get thru the day.
Take care of each other everyone.
The title of this post is what I should have done when I decided to start blogging again. What I did instead was start plotting out a post that should probably be split into multiple posts, a project so ambitious that while scribbling notes over coffee this morning, two full weeks after deciding to do it, I finally realized just how much I had put on my plate. In hindsight, I should really have written several smaller posts first to get back into the swing of things.
In the meantime, here’s a video that really communicates the power of history. It’s not just a neat example of how historians try to make sense of events when it is impossible to know the full story, but it also has a verisimilitude to it that makes me think it should be part of the Star Wars canon. I can easily imagine exactly this being produced (within the fictional setting, that is) a few generations after the events of the movies.
I give you: The Galactic Civil War.