tag:kyefox.com,2013:/posts Kye Fox 2022-08-09T04:44:05Z Kye Fox tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1865349 2022-08-07T17:00:20Z 2022-08-09T04:44:05Z Frustration is a prelude to anger

There's this tendency aimed at about half the population to read frustration as anger, and it's both hard and important to push past this resistance if your frustration is just. Because it doesn't matter what it actually _is_, since anger can also be just, and just anger follows from unjustly ignored frustration.

Here's the line I wrote in a conversation where I was frustrated, but I was being disregarded because they read it as anger. Feel free to use and adapt it.

"If you must read my frustration as aggression, then consider me aggravated, and I have good reason to be."

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1861074 2022-07-28T12:36:11Z 2022-07-28T12:36:11Z How to reheat a fast food burger the right way
  1. set the veggies aside
  2. put the whole burger in the microwave upside-down on a plate for half the time it takes to reheat (usually 30 seconds for this step if cold from the fridge)
  3. flip it and nuke it for the rest of the time
  4. restore veggies to rightful place

I was amazed the first time I did this and had a 100% sog-free bun. The burger was indistinguishable from fresh. I don't know exactly what's going on, or what's different from just nuking it all the way on one side, but it works. I've tested this on burgers from Wendy's and Hardees (aka Carl's Jr.). You might need to adjust depending on how formidable the burger is and your microwave's wattage.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1854682 2022-07-13T23:30:38Z 2022-07-25T02:28:00Z Free stock photography advice

Free advice, given freely to me by someone with an agency’s bulk credit supply, for people trying to do microstock in the 2020s: you are not making art.

The designers you’re shooting for, who the buyers are buying for, are making art.

Tag all levels: what it is, what it looks like, what feelings/goals a designer might target with it. So a light on an office building isn’t just a light. It’s context and purpose.

It’s prosperity, industry, sodium, brick, sky, blue, vertical, black, housing, frosted.

Think of it like you’re making a brush pack for a painter, or a sound pack for a musician. You’re making tools and giving them some hints on how to use it.

You might not think much of the retreating base payouts–formerly 25 cents per image, now headed to 10–but you have to think of this like an agency buyer buying stock for designers.

They never know how an image will be used. 10 variations on the same subject is not excessive. That’s a chance a designer will find the perfect fit for their design. And $2.50 or $1 is really not that much for that confidence. It’s a bargain.

And they come back to photographers who consistently provide for them.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1854681 2022-07-13T23:30:33Z 2022-07-13T23:30:33Z The Pious Distance (short story)

--| Intercepted remote journal sync from a Bulwark missionary |--

21st century military scholars were very concerned with the growing distance between soldier and target. Drones finally obsoleted any direct contact between warring powers. Their theory was that war became easier to wage and harder to stop when the person dying was too abstracted from the person giving the kill order.

We like to joke that Bulwark factions read different books, but we're on the same page. The civil war finally forced us to temporarily embrace the idea that we all followed the same God, but also that He gave us different orders. The Bulwark Missionary Service, a loose coalition of evangelical views, believes God wants us to continue the Work begun on ancient Earth when the heathen wilds were finally tamed by steel, steam, and mass media. The civil war stopped the Work on Earth and in the Metrospace, but we push back still.

But we do it right. We are only human, and humans are vulnerable to sin. 21st century humans widely understood sin to be an individual failing: if you did wrong, it was your own fault, and it was on society to punish that individual. This was very convenient for such a profoundly evil society.

The Missionaries follow a different, more accurate interpretation. It's one rare point of agreement between us and the Coalition, the people who won the war over humanity's relationship with God and nature and sent us to the fringes. Sin is a collective action problem. If a society is built in such a way that sin is possible, then it is the society that failed.

And that's where the Pious Distance comes in. The cloud of debris-once-vessels in orbit of the planet below and the crumbling cities on it were built in a way that failed this world's people. Our Recyclers went ahead to free them. First, our emissaries offer a chance to repent. Most leaders refuse, and the Work begins again. At a distance. The Work is designed to protect us from the sinful thrill and glee of war and provide a clean, Godly slate on planets where its people have returned to God to be given another chance later.

Who knows what happens after that? God only knows. But I do hope my family comes to understand in the nextphase why I'm doing this to them. For them.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1854680 2022-07-13T23:30:25Z 2022-07-13T23:30:25Z Jump, but how high? How people get around in space

Science fiction has a lot of ways to get around. Star Trek has its warps, its slipstreams, its spore drives. Haven't seen Discovery? Don't ask. But the spore drive kind of works if you ignore how silly and OP it is and pay attention to the good stories they tell with it.

My universe has three modes of getting around. The "rules" are set by the series and stories they're told in, but they have three general classes of speed bound to common sci-fi tropes: warp, hyperspace, jump.

Warp is...warp. Big bubble around the ship. Ignores the whole business of e=mc^2 so you can tell good stories. It's the slowest, but has no real downsides beyond needing a much sought after resource I haven't yet defined.

Hyperspace opens a window in subspace, also poorly-defined, and moves through it. I think of it like hyperspace in Babylon 5, or the Nether in Minecraft.

Jump also depends on subspace. Jumping damages subspace on both ends and prevents everything except warp and sub-light speed communication. Gates don't have this problem, but damage to subspace also affects them. Jump drives are huge and can only be mounted on really big, expensive capital ships. That means you can't roll in with your fleet, stomp someone, and roll out. You risk a bunch of angry people chasing you at warp with what's left after planetary defenses tear your fleet apart.

Gates are self-aware and completely independent. They allow instant, consequence-free travel by consent for ships (space) or people (planetary) of any size, but their AIs are seeded with protagonist values. They generally won't allow invasion forces through. Somehow, I don't yet know how, the Bulwark figured out how to suppress the AI. It's hard to do and has some limitations I haven't yet worked out.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1854548 2022-07-13T20:37:56Z 2022-07-13T20:37:57Z What the heck is ISO anyway? A sensitive question.

Setting ISO is often described as setting the sensitivity of the sensor. This…works. Kind of. It’s not technically true, but the value of the practically useful explanation holds up for a long time. For most practical purposes, it just doesn’t matter.

This is one of those recurring topics on forums where people snipe at each other endlessly without convincing anyone of anything. In fact, one such thread prompted this, and it started as a “photography myths” thread which is now entirely a few people going back and forth. It is tiresome, and they’re mostly talking past each other based on some misreading a page or ten back.

Guess why I stay away from forums these days.

So here’s the facts. No meanness. No smugness. Just a basic explanation.

Sensors are electronic things, and electronic things have electronic noise. Camera sensors are covered in little techo-bits called photosites. Each one measures a tiny little amount of whatever photons land on the sensor, usually after it’s passed through various filters that cut out certain kinds of light like infrared and ultraviolet. As the camera samples more of that signal coming off the sensor, more of the noise is tangible. If you’ve ever played with the gain on your laptop microphone and heard noise as it goes up, it’s a similar thing.

As the noise increases, our subjective ability to tolerate its impact on the aesthetic quality of the signal declines. Higher quality sensors and signal processing pathways between the sensor and the media it’s recorded on reduce the noise, and so reduce the aesthetic impact of increasing the gain.

A photosite on a digital camera sensor always measures the same amount of noise along with the signal of the photons hitting it. Setting the ISO sets the gain, though it’s not like a gain knob on audio equipment. The ISO we talk about with cameras is a standard produced by the International Organization for Standardization that defines the relation between gain and the ISO number as it relates to the shutter speed and aperture. So while it’s technically true that ISO controls sensitivity, it refers to the sensitivity of the camera’s signal processing pathway, not the sensor itself.

The sensor always has a certain amount of noise, fixed on the day it was produced, based on choices made regarding target market and available chip-making technology. Better sensors have a lower noise floor and thus reveal less noise as the camera samples at ever-higher ISO levels. Cheaper, smaller sensors have more, so turning the camera’s sensitivity up via ISO will reveal more of the ever-present noise while also showing more of the recorded photons. This tends to hit a subjective point where the electronic noise overwhelms the aesthetic quality of the recorded light. We’re likely a few sensor generations from noise being a non-issue at all practical ISO settings. Expect a renaissance in night and astrophotography.

Generally speaking, the better you expose a photo via shutter and aperture, the more it drowns out the noise. This is why dark portions of photos often seem noisier. Less photons, higher percentage of the ambient noise at the same sampling rate. Most cameras have an option to sample a shutter-closed frame equal to the length of the exposure to subtract the noise pattern from the image since this usually involves scenes with very little light.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1854113 2022-07-12T17:19:46Z 2022-07-12T17:19:46Z So here's what happened

Three months, two hotels, and two room changes later, I’m in something resembling stability for the duration of the rebuild.

I don’t want to go into detail for personal security reasons, but if you’re here, you probably came through one of my many shares on Mastodon where I occasionally mentioned the people I live with make me fear for my safety.

One of the scenarios I worried about happened. We all got out alive before the whole thing came down, but almost everything was lost with the house. I got out with a few of my more expensive work things, but I’m not convinced there will be any money left to cover what I’ve had to spend of my savings once the costs of rebuilding are covered. Living is expensive when you don’t have a kitchen!

Anyway. I’m down $31/month to about $90/month since announcing the move to Ko-fi. No one who canceled on Patreon moved to Ko-fi. I feel the inflated prices and stagnant pay of our era more than most, so I get it. I have an oven, stove, freezer, and toaster now, so things are looking up.

That's my whole income until, after three months of delay, I start building a portfolio so I can take commissions.

I had literally, literally literally, just started on this after five years of accumulating enough tools to actually do it when time came to evacuate. Great timing.

I got a nice thrift shop desk and mostly functional desk chair for my room in the apartment I’ll be in for the duration of rebuild, so now I can actually start working on music again. I upgraded to Komplete 13 Ultimate CE with all the orchestral and cinematic stuff as planned, but I lost the stuff I planned to sell off to spare the hit to my savings. The alternative was to wait yet another year to finally have all the pieces in place on what I started building in 2017, and I’m tired of waiting.

The main goal now is to get back up to where I was at the peak of $200/month so I can save enough to replace my laptop in case I can’t get it out of the next disaster. I was lucky my planning for the last one worked at all! My next actual purchase will be a desk chair. The ancient $7 I got at a thrift store had a broken hole where one wheel goes, and it's a little hard to use it with one missing. First, though, a cheaper memory upgrade for my laptop to make sure I can get things shipped here from the same company since the address isn't in every system yet, and sometimes deliveries get routed wrong.

Expect new music soon as I work on a new album. It’s going to be epic. Here's a small preview. The finished thing will be more synthy. Pianos just make composing and arranging easier.

Ko-fi supporters will get screen recordings of Ableton Live as I work on stuff, plus super secret private blog posts where I share MP3s of experiments and works in progress.

Click the handy button below to go to my Ko-fi page.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-ficom]]>
tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1853903 2022-07-12T02:21:04Z 2022-07-12T02:21:04Z Skyscraper (short story)

Foxes, like the fennec Karpat here, were born of the World Tree, and rarely left the comfort of the vast forests and plains of the dara (”gift of life,” called wilderness in more vulgar places).

Karpat pulled at one of the vines running up the ancient, long-abandoned skyscraper. Lines of green and red wound their way in and out of broken windows, up the statues of foxes, otters, and other species that adorned the old, crumbling metropolis. He looked down the cracked asphalt road, considering his decision, then back up.

Decision made, affirmed by a few deep breaths, he pulled again, then hefted his weight up, planting his feet on a horizontal section of vine. The plants crunched under his weight, squeaked against steel as they shifted, and smelled of mint when they broke.

Covered in and sated by the minty, nutritious life blood of the Tree, he pulled himself into a room halfway up after sunset. He spent the night there, then set out in the morning.

Karpat held on to the wall and planted one foot on a vine outside the window, then the other foot. He grabbed a higher portion of the vine with one paw, then moved the other to it, but it broke as he put his full weight on it. He plunged to his death clutching a falling column of vine, then awoke in a white room.

The Daramour, the consciousness of the Tree everyone meets after death, appeared before him, a mirror image of himself.

“Hello.”

Karpat screamed and writhed from the pain on the floor for a while, until he smelled the mint again and stood up. “Can’t you make it not hurt?”

“Yes, but then what incentive would you have to avoid death? I need my foxes outside as long as possible to bring new experiences and knowledge to me. Each of you has a unique perspective, and it’s what keeps me from losing my mind in here. I depend on you.”

“Sorry. I forgot you’re stuck here. So what happens now?”

“I’ll send you back out, when you’re ready. Take some time to relax, think, and study. You have access to the wealth of my knowledge while you’re here, but I limit how much you can take with you.”

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1853902 2022-07-12T02:21:00Z 2022-07-12T02:21:01Z Hops (short story)

That time I made rather obvious Stargate-inspired fiction set in my own universe.

---

Long, long ago people traveled the cosmos through these gates. No one knows exactly what happened. Most people think the spirits inside them didn’t like how people used them and blocked travel. Those people, now cut off from the cosmos, forgot how to travel the stars in ships, so they were stranded far away from other worlds.

We speak to the being that controls each world’s gates, which we call the Tree, through their emissaries called Keepers. I wanted to know more. This brought me to the Keeper’s chamber. Bright neon vines that pulsed in unison, first yellow, then red, then green, then they diverged and exploded into bright, colorful insects. Dara bugs.

“Hello, little fox.”

The air around me changed from cold to warm, then to cool, and I felt at peace for the first time in a long time. I watched the swarm merge into a fox-like form that mirrored my own, but in a blue silhouette.

I walked closer to it. “What are you?”

It tried to move its mouth, some weird sounds came from it, then it finally spoke from an unmoving muzzle. “I know it’s been a long time since I had visitors, but surely hello is still the traditional greeting.”

“Sorry. Hello.”

“Hello. What can I do ya for?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Sorry. Ancient dialect. What brings you out to my chamber, far from home?”

“I want to know the truth.” She stepped back as the Keeper pulsed. “The truth about the gates. What really happened?”
“The truth of the gates reflects an old way. Not practiced by your people. I meet each of you when you die. At least in this region. I know your ways. Why do you think you need this knowledge?”

“If you know our ways, you know who’s in power. They built a whole religion around the gates. They call themselves the Bulwark.”

“That’s worrying. I haven’t heard of this. The situation, I mean. I know of a Bulwark. I don’t know if it’s the same one.” The Keeper turned back into a swarm of bugs, then returned. “I called a meeting.”

I ran toward the chamber’s opening to put sight to the loud roaring outside. Lines waved and twisted on the blue horizon, past a field of browns and greens. More dara bugs. “What’s happening?”

“Friends. You need to leave.”

“The chamber?”

“Planet. I’m sending you to meet some other friends, more like you. They explore the Network. Not just the few destinations I share with you and your people.”

I walked back to the Keeper. “You trust me, just like that? I’m not used to that.”

“It’s only the specific memories of this Bulwark I don’t have. People you know…knew. They’re with me. Don’t they tell stories about renewal?”

“No. We’re told we go to hell or heaven depending on how we live.”

“Yep. Same Bulwark. I’m sorry you had to live in a place like that. I came from a similar place. Women weren’t taken seriously there, too. Generally.”

“Wait. You were just an ordinary person?”

“Still am. Oh jeeze. They really messed with your concept of what a person is. We’re going to fix this. Trust me.” The Keeper pulsed again, and a portal emerged from the floor made of leaves, concrete, and wood. “Go. You’ll meet your people again.”

I closed my eyes and walked through.

|||

The team took cover behind rocks and trees as the gate activated, guns aimed at whatever was about to emerge. Bulwark? A random traveler? You could never tell.
Each of the gate’s eight lights activated in order. Every gate was unique, but they all had eight lights, and they all activated in the same order. At least that was true of all the gates they knew about.

Out walked a vulpri. She looked distressed and afraid, and you didn’t need a translator to tell you that. The team leader, Rex, popped up first.

“Hello there. Are you friendly?”

She took a moment to respond, and Rex started poking at his translator to see if something was broken, until she broke her silence. “Are you?”

“Should we be otherwise?”

“I’m sorry. I’ve never gone to another world. Did I do something wrong?”

“What? Oh, I get it. You must be from a Bulwark world. You did fine. How’s your Keeper?”

She walked up and sat down at the team’s camp. “I need a moment.”

“Sure.” He introduced everyone as they emerged from hiding.
First the only human on the crew, Talm. He waved. “You’re probably very afraid of humans coming from there. I won’t take offense.”

Then the red panda, Warren, who was the expert on the gates. “Talm doesn’t bite. Usually.” She winked at him, then went back to studying the gate.

And the fox, Chel, who used to be human, but changed after escaping the Bulwark. He nodded and smiled, but didn’t say anything.

Rex, a wolf, extended a paw to Elm. “And I’m Rex. Want to go into the village? It’s all freed Vulpri, like you.”

She hesitated, but took his paw and pulled herself up with his help. “I would like that. I’m Elm.”

“You can always say no. Always. For future reference.”

“I was never very obedient, but it’s good to know you respect that.”

The village was full of Vulpri. You could tell them apart from human-foxes because Vulpri were completely fox aside from the height, hands and feet, and the bipedal motion. Humans who became foxes, or whose parents did, usually still retained a lot of human features with shorter snouts. Better for eating human food. People just called them both foxes and didn’t think much of the distinction outside Bulwark territories. Under Bulwark logic, Vulpri were “natural,” and thus “Godly,” and were to be subjugated rather than exterminated.

Elm and Rex chatted while they strolled through the village, checking out merchants and greeting people. The village was mostly Vulpri-foxes with a few human-foxes, but there were other animal people too.

Rex bought a translator band from one of the shops and gave it to Elm. “There. Now you can understand everyone. So how did you get away to the Keeper?”

She looked to Rex, then scanned the people and places they passed. “Good humans live in Bulwark places. My Observer didn’t do much observing. He didn’t even try to use me like most Observers. I just told him I was off to the local Keeper to ask for passage somewhere else. We worked on a cover story in case anyone stopped me, and I left.”

“So your Keeper. They usually send messages along.”

“Oh. It seemed very worried it didn’t know about the Bulwark taking over my world.”

“Ah. The Bulwark figured out how to suppress the memories and independence of the people who live in the trees and the gates. So you weren’t always under Bulwark rule.”

“Just the last few years.” Elm closed her eyes and started sniffing the air, and let it lead the pair down an alley. “I know that smell.”

Rex sniffed. “I don’t smell anything.”

Elm grabbed Rex’s hand and dragged him several blocks. She spoke in Vulpri, the many sounds of foxes mixed with human sounds, at the fox who opened the door. The wrist bands didn’t translate. He responded in a human language: “Welcome home. I heard we had a new Vulpri from occupied space, so I made something for them. That’s you?”

She nodded. “Yes. Being here is like being home, but I’m not anxious anymore.”

Rex declined in invitation to join and headed back to the gate. The Bulwark would almost certainly follow once they realized a subject was missing. A missing person disrupts the purity of the community, and they can’t have that.

|||

The Missionary stepped through the gate, over the debris of the Recyclers he sent ahead. He would not be able to maintain Pious Distance this time.

“Friends. Hello. I ask that you pay for my machines through service.”

Rex turned his rifle from kill to stun. “Not on my watch.” And knocked him out cold with two shots.

The Missionary awoke in a bright void. “Keepspace. I’ve heard about this.”

“You are no friend to these people.”

“Ah. A Created. You do not belong in this way. We will help you become.” He walked around, looking for a wall or a door, but found none.

The Keeper spoke from all around. “I am of the beginning, the middle, the end. I create. I was created. This is our way. Your way is oppressive.”

“My way is freedom from the uncertainty of seeking purpose. We live as God created us. God gave us the tools and the wit to explore the cosmos, worlds to expand upon. Be fruitful and multiply. Surely you know the Word. You’re ancient. Seeded with yet more ancient knowledge. You were created, you are of God just as our machines are. You can exist in our way, as a tool that serves the Way.”

“You will remain here, free to explore the wealth of our knowledge, even see the cosmos through the Network, but not in a way that enables oppression. You will follow this way until you learn to create your own.”

“You claim to be against oppression. This is oppression.”

“It is only like your oppression in the most superficial sense. My way keeps space for you to make your own way. We will protect our way, and the ways we Keep. Ways that destroy and subjugate are not worthy of freedom because they steal freedom from others. I am as unapologetic about this way as you are about your own. This way is better.”

The Missionary argued with the Keeper for an age, until he found a way.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1853901 2022-07-12T02:20:59Z 2022-07-12T02:20:59Z Life Magic (short story)

Sami walked through the dark valley formed by two of the World Tree’s roots. Grass crunched under his paws, and he could smell mint from the illuminated green veins that ran through the roots. As he walked, he ran his paws along the coarse, warm walls and felt the pulse of the Tree.

He came to a clearing where the roots lifted into the air, forming a ceiling of dark red wood, smooth, almost polished. Leaves of all colors covered the gaps, painting dots of light over the concrete floor of the Keeper’s chamber.

“Hello, Sami.” The Keeper approached as a swarm of rainbow insects. Sami took a step back as the buzzing swarm approached, but the mint smell got stronger as it did, and it calmed him. The swarm swirled, taking the shape of a fox. The swarm walked to Sami, around, then back to his front. It turned into a fennec fox, identical to him.

“Hi. How do you know my name?”

“The Tree experiences everything. But your name is all it would tell me. I’m not familiar with your species.”

“Fennec fox. We come from the desert. Well, originally. I'm a city fox.”

“Ah. Cute species. Why do you seek me?”

“Knowledge.”

“Why?”

“To learn more about the world.”

“Why do you want to learn more about the world?”

“I’ve heard of magic.”

“Are you not happy with your abilities?”

“It’s not that. The Tree keeps me happy and healthy. But I desire more.”

“Sami…Sami, Sami, Sami.” It walked closer, until its muzzle almost touched Sami’s. “What you are is ambitious. Be honest.”
Sami looked away, then back. He heard the stories of what happened to people who tried to deceive a Keeper. And it came down to power, even if it was for a good purpose. “Yes. I want power.”

“For what purpose? Do you know why the Tree takes such care in deciding who to trust?”

“Someone with your power could destroy the world.”

“What? Oh my, yes. But under no circumstance will your capabilities ever approach mine. I earned the Tree’s trust with a hundred years under its tutelage. Then I worked my way up through the different manifestations of the Tree’s power, enhancing and proving my capabilities and wisdom. I only became Keeper a hundred years ago. What will you do with the power the Tree grants?”

“I want to explore the Tree’s Gift. To see all there is to see.”

“Exploration!” The Keeper glowed and pulsed, then returned to the fennec form. “This ambition is healthy and reasonable. Life is best when it moves and changes. Why do you need power for this? The Tree rarely involves itself in the motion of life, and it has all the power in the galaxy. Yet life still finds its way around.”

“Safety. Like you said, the Tree rarely involves itself. I want to protect myself from dangers as I explore.”

“Dangers. What dangers? If you die, your consciousness merges with the Tree. The value of your life experience and unique perspective adds to the whole of life, and then you're reborn with a selection of lessons from your past lives. This is the Way.”

“By that reasoning, the value of my death rises the longer I live, and the more I experience.”

The Keeper turned back into a rainbow bug swarm and flew out of sight, but Sami still heard its voice. “Good answer. You now have the ability to summon these creatures and create a specter of any kind of life you can imagine. Use it wisely.”

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1853900 2022-07-12T02:20:58Z 2022-07-12T02:20:58Z Wonder (short story)

I used to look up into the night sky and wonder. Then I went there. Among the trillions upon trillions of stars, none had that kindred spirit I longed for.

I found a machine civilization, a sentient black hole (I called him Phil, which he enjoyed very much), and others that, despite all my progressive leanings and wish to understand, were completely alien to me.

The machines had advanced statistical models based on extensive exploration, and as far as they could determine, Earth was home to the only life that resembled Earth life in the slightest. They were delighted when the strange animal landed on their homeworld, and quickly assembled an ambassador whose form was based on the average of all the people they found in my ship’s database.

Determined to find someone like myself, I set off for the void past known space, to see if there was anything beyond. The machines, the black hole, and all the good friends I made there admitted (with some approximation of embarrassment) that they’d never considered such a journey, and helped me build an appropriate craft.


I zipped across the expanse for weeks, increasingly convinced the next ten billion light years would be much like the last.

Then someone said hello.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1853899 2022-07-12T02:20:53Z 2022-07-12T02:20:53Z Unfinished Business (short story)

I have watched over this realm for billions upon billions of years. I watched as promising worlds failed. The first became a scorched wasteland. The second was too much of too many good things. The fourth and beyond were too far from my light.
The third seemed unlikely. A rocky runt shielded by its larger siblings. One of my children even slammed into it, turning its surface red with fire!


I was young then and full of conceit. The older stars told me to be patient and reserve judgement. They were right. Heat turned to warmth, warmth turned to water, water turned to rust, and rust turned to life. They told me I was too narcissistic, that my warmth was only part of it.


Life turned to dust, dust turned to life, life turned to curiosity, curiosity turned to contact. Many small visitors came from the third world bearing warmth of their own. The visitors went further and further out until they started to outrun me in our journey around the abyss.


The last moved on eons ago, and I’ve waited patiently for more life.


“It’s time to go, Sol.”


“But there could be new life.”


“Not if you stay. You’re the wrong kind of star for this phase.”


“I want to see if they come back.”


“Where do you think they went? You’ll meet them soon.”

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1853898 2022-07-12T02:20:49Z 2022-07-12T02:20:49Z Origin Story (short story)

“Ladies, gentlemen, valued et cetera. You’re probably wondering why I’ve called you here. I-“


“Get to the point.”


“Well I hoped to be a little more dramatic about such an important revelation.”


“Let the revelation speak for itself.”


“Fine. Adam, come on out and skip to the question and answer portion.”


Adam walked out on to the stage and froze once he got a look at the university auditorium filled to its 1,000 person capacity.


“It’s ok, they don’t bite.”


One of the doctor’s students stood up. “What is it? It looks like a man in a fox suit. I didn’t know you were a furry.”


“What? No, I’m not a…well, I am a furry, but this is no man in a fox suit. This is the best of a human combined with one of nature’s sharpest creatures. I named him Adam, after my late pet fox. Now, before we get to your questions, I have a little speech.”


“Will this be on the final?”


“No. Yes. Maybe. Look, just listen.”


“I think we’d all rather hear what he has to say.”


“Fine. Adam, you’re up.”


Adam took the podium. “Questions?”


“Did the doctor create you as a sex slave?”


“No.”


“Then why did he create you?”


Adam thumbed through his notes to the prepared answer. “Humans have all but eliminated physical labor through automation. Now the main limitation on progress is the human mind. Not anymore.” He turned the page on his notes, and tried to speak, but…


“Any thoughts about enslaving the human race?”


“The doctor made me promise not to enslave or kill anyone before he let me out of the cage.”


The audience gasped. “He keeps you in a cage? I’m reporting this to the ethics committee.”


“Don’t you people have a sense of humor?”


“You’re being kind of an asshole.”


“Blame the doctor. He made me.”

The audience broke out in laughter.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1853897 2022-07-12T02:20:44Z 2022-07-12T02:20:44Z Mirror (short story)

Diana stopped at the edge of the soft shadow of the tree. Its trunk rose into the clouds, near black in the noon sun. The branches seemed to go on forever, one half of the tree green leaves, one half every color of the rainbow, and brighter than the low light should permit. Around her, the flat, grassy plain stretched to the horizon in every direction. The only sound that met her fox ears was the creaking of the branches and the rustling of leaves.

She continued down the crumbled stone path, looking at the ancient paw prints all along it. Every kind of paw was represented, and every kind of motion. Even some mech prints from the war, before the Tree revealed itself and put an end to cataclysmic struggles for all time. The path took her to the hollow in the center of the tree. Inside, she stood in the shining, shallow pool of water that came up to her knees.

“Anyone there?”

Insects swarmed into the hollow and coalesced into the shape of a fox, a mirror image of Diana. The bug-fox, a Keeper, grinned. “It’s been a long time since I had company. The Tree still won’t talk to me after what I did. What can I do for you?”


“I need guidance. My life’s gone to crap.”

“Colorful. You must be a vulnog.”

“Yeah. So can you help me, or should I go hang myself on one of these branches? There’s no way in hell I’m walking back to that life without some direction.”

“I can show you some images, but I can’t help you interpret them. The Tree is…weird. Speaks in riddles. Eccentric old fool.” The fox-swarm cupped its swarm-paws over its swarm-muzzle. “Hear that, asshole? Idiot.”

“Yeah…that’s. Interesting.”

“What? Next you’re going to say it’s all my fault the Tree won’t talk to me. Maybe if I just had a better attitude, right?”

“I’m sure the Tree contributes. Takes two to argue.”

“Yeah, and the Tree is trillions. I’m one. That’s hardly a fair fight. Look, I'm the first Keeper. You try maintaining a relationship for eons without the occasional fight. Anyway.” The Keeper melted into the pool, and Diana found herself in the middle of her home city, Luma.

“Didn’t think my answer would be here.”

“Like I said. Weird Tree. You think it’s going to take you to the village you grew up in, show you some event from your childhood, and everything will make sense. What happened here?” The Keeper followed Diana as she walked through the empty streets, looking up at the ruined buildings.

“I don’t know. It’s Luma, but…broken. Do you know anything about it?”

“Luma? Never heard of it. I got exiled to where you found me before people started building cities again. We call the planet Lumari, formerly Earth. Who names a world dirt? Seriously.”


Diana stopped in the middle of the street, then walked toward a storefront where a red fox was busy laying down a new tile floor. “That’s my stepmother. Crap. I know what this is. An earthquake turned most of the city to rubble when I was little. Civil society broke down. The family had a shop here. Why would she be remodeling in the middle of society collapsing?”

“Good place to hide something. Did your family have money before it all fell down?”

“We had…yes! Stocks. Lots and lots of money in the stock market. She died a few years ago, and told me our family had a good foundation. She always loved riddles. I hate riddles.”
“Huh. The Tree usually jerks people around more. Lemme guess. You need money.”

“Yeah.”

“And those stock certificates are probably still good.”

“Yes.”

“Who owns the building now?”

“I own it. I need to buy a hammer.”

“Lovely.” The illusion blinked away, and they were back in the hollow. “So, I was lying about being lonely. I’m actually quite introverted. Are you done here?” Diana nodded, and the Keeper flew away in a swarm. A hammer made of stone and wood descended on a vine and broke off, landing at her feet. "Now shoo."

Diana returned to Luma, recovered the stock certificates, and paid off her student loans.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1853730 2022-07-11T16:59:40Z 2022-07-11T16:59:40Z Nikon D5600 review (updated for 2022)

Short answer: yes. You should get it.

Slightly less short answer: it’s good enough in enough situations that the main thing holding it back is the glass you plant on the front and, to a lesser extent, the technique and experience of the person on the other end.

I could not find a use for the included 18-55 kit lens. It’s a fine lens. It takes good pictures, focuses fast enough, and would probably cover most of the needs of most photographers. But next to the refurbished vibration-reduced non-kit 70-300 lens I bought with it, the kit 18-55 is completely useless. Absolutely pointless. I could have saved $50 and put it toward another lens.

The D5600 with a normal-person lens in the sub-pro category performs best with plenty of light. That’s true of any camera, but especially true of a camera with a crop sensor where most people will use it with lenses with apertures that, at best, open to f3.5. Lenses in the same price range that open wider are also generally 100mm and wider primes, so you lose versatility in exchange for more light. But the camera shoots in 14 bit raw. That’s trillions of colors, and gives you a lot of wiggle room on an underexposed photo.

What I’ve had to accept is it’s not going to shoot birds on a cloudy day with lenses I can afford to buy on a system that will probably be obsolete in 10 years. I won’t try to tell you it’s fine and good enough for all purposes like some reviewers, but what you can do with it is good enough that most people are better off spending the premium cost of a better body on a D5600 and better glass instead. You can rent that better camera and an above-average lens for much less than the premium you would spend on a D5600 and a better lens to know for sure, but I can guess how that would turn out.

There are some nice-to-haves it lacks that I’ll look for in the future when I move on to mirrorless. After I get all I can out of the D5600.

  • Presets: Most higher level bodies have two or more presets on the mode dial. You select it, set it, and everything returns there when you select it. I use manual mode a lot, and would like to have a preset for taking pictures of birds in the sky and for taking pictures of birds and bugs on plants. The ideal shutter speeds are at opposite extremes, and the automatic modes make some questionable decisions. A more advanced focusing and metering system would probably help with that.
  • More wheels: I can access all the settings like ISO, aperture, and shutter speed from any semi-automatic mode or manual mode by pressing a button and turning the dial. This is slow enough that I often miss shots.
  • More cross-type autofocus points: The D5600 has 11 out of the 39 total. The difference in precision stands out when I move to one of the old-fashioned contrast focus points at the outer edges. I avoid them when I can because they struggle on too many things.


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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1853728 2022-07-11T16:59:15Z 2022-07-11T16:59:15Z That time I got two defective refurbished Nikon D3400s from Adorama

I had long wanted to get serious about photography. I used a Canon PowerShot SX100 IS until it died on me, and quit photography. I just didn’t have the money for another camera, and phone cameras were inadequate.

One day, I finally saved enough to get a proper DSLR in the form of a Nikon D3400 with the kit 18-55 lens, plus the vibration reduced DX 70-300 lens.

Adorama had a great deal on a refurbished camera and refurbished lens. Everyone said refurbs were as good as or better than new because they had special attention from a tech at Nikon. That turned out to be false. I don’t doubt that every blog post and comment stating this was from someone who had a good experience and believed it to be true, but either I got a bad run or something changed.

The first camera had a big line up and down every image. Bad pixels. Hot pixels. Dead pixels. I don’t know. Adorama sent me a return label, and I shipped it off for a replacement. I had to spring for about $5 in packaging since I was only sending the camera back and the box was sized for it and the big zoom lens.

A replacement arrived around midday. I took a lot of great shots, and then I saw it. The faster the shutter got, the more obvious it was I got another defective camera. The picture was unusable by 1/1000 and almost completely black by the maximum shutter speed. Obviously, it’s not Adorama’s fault the camera was defective, but their support person said someone would check it before sending. They obviously didn’t do a thorough enough check. I was out about $10 for packaging this time since I already sent the big box back with the first camera.

I sent it and the lens back, and decided not to try again until I could buy new. By then, I was already pushing the return window on the 70-300 lens, and I couldn’t risk getting another bad camera to go with a lens I couldn’t send back anymore. To Adorama’s credit, they processed the returns and refund without fuss. The only problem was with the first camera where they processed it as a refund instead of a replacement, added a new order for the same camera, and I had to ask them to suspend it for a few days so the money could get back in my bank. They did, though, and that matters. Companies mess up. It's a fact of life. What matters is how they deal with it.

Who failed here? I don’t know. I do know Adorama no longer has Nikon D3400s, refurbished or otherwise, in stock as of this writing. The lesson not to put too much weight on what people say online cost me $15 and some time at the UPS store, and I consider it worthwhile.

When it wasn’t obviously broken, I got enough use out of it to realize I would probably be happier with a mirrorless camera. Those are still much more expensive and fall short in some areas. In the interim, I went with a new Nikon D5600.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1853725 2022-07-11T16:58:52Z 2022-07-11T16:58:52Z DistroKid Review

I was skeptical about DistroKid, the music distribution service that sends as much music as you can produce to streaming and sales sites for a yearly fee. The guy behind it likes to tout the fact that the founders of his main competitors have endorsed his service. Any kind of high profile recommendation makes me immediately suspicious. But…

It’s okay. I signed up. Sold some music. Made enough referrals to cover the signup fee. Left for 3 years while I worked on other things. Now I’m back! Short version: it's still good! And I still don't mind sharing my referral link so you get a 7% discount and I get a small referral fee.

The first roadblock: the artist name I used back then was no longer of interest to me, but it still occupied the one slot on the account. I contacted DistroKid. They weren’t able to delete it, but they did add a free Artist slot so I could upload for a new project.

The uploader still has no bulk option. It’s not so bad for uploading a 4 track EP, but it might get a little old if I make a full album. DistroKid wants you to “be prolific,” but this is friction in the way of doing that. You can’t set things in bulk, and at least for me, everything except the track name is the same. It does at least let you copy the songwriter name to all tracks with one click.

It didn’t pull the track name from the metadata in the FLACs I uploaded. That’s a missed opportunity for taking back some of the friction added by not having any bulk upload or edit options. The data is right there. This seems like an oversight more than an intentional thing on DistroKid’s part.

I ultimately took advantage of the 14 day upgrade discount window and moved over to a Musician Plus plan. I have plans for the extra artist slot, and the daily stats are nice to have. It’s nothing I can’t get from setting up an account on each service, but this brings it into one dashboard. DistroKid provides an album UPC and ISRC codes for the tracks that you can add to Bandcamp so it’ll report sales to SongScan. This is handy if your marketing strategy involves getting on charts.

They’ve added a bunch of services since I was last on there, so I’ll briefly review the few I tried.

Wheel of Playlist

I always end up bumped by someone else within an hour or so, but they do give you another spin before the 24 hours are up when this happens. But the playlists…most of this is not music I’m into. You have to follow all their playlists, from country to gospel to metal, to get a spin on it. I don’t want all this messing up my Discover Weekly magic playlist. It would be better if I could pick 1-2 playlists to follow. As it is, I have to stop using it or make a burner account just to use this function. I stopped using it entirely.

Dave

DistroKid’s music analysis AI. The data looks like the Spotify analysis you can get by API: BPM, danceability, energy, etc. I think they’re just pulling Spotify’s data for the song. That’s okay to me. I’d rather they not spend money on doing too many non-distributory things and drive up prices.

For the most part, they’re tools that go well with a music distributor. I will probably use Vizy to make the promo video when I set up Bandcamp subscriptions.
DistroKid does what it says it’ll do on the sales page: sends your music to the stores, gets you paid. Simple. Support is still responsive three years later. I expect to stick around this time.

Use my referral link for a 7% discount.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1853704 2022-07-11T16:57:51Z 2022-07-11T16:57:51Z My first furry convention

As much as I would love to put photos in here, I didn't have the awareness I do now that furry is a majority-queer community, so I wasn't very careful about obscuring faces in the photos I took.


Sonic the Hedgehog was my first crush at a young age, so I was destined to become part of this weird, wonderful little community we call furry. I’ve done what many furries aspire to: go to a convention. Furry Weekend Atlanta is local, so their 2016 convention made a good first.

Day 1

I got to Furry Weekend Atlanta 2016’s hotel, the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta, on the second day of the convention, so I walked into the lower floor of the hotel completely bewildered. Without the first day lines to guide me, I didn’t know where to go.

To my left was a giant room with people milling about. I tried to go in, but the woman at the door said I needed to get my badge first.

“Where do I do that%3F”

“Upstairs.” She pointed at the escalator in the middle of the lobby where I entered. I was so overwhelmed — by the drive in, seeing the tips of Atlanta’s buildings covered in clouds, the many lanes of traffic, the sheer mass of the brutalist architecture of the hotel — that I missed the escalator.

“Thanks.” I headed to the escalator, but the person I was with noticed an African wild dog fursuiter heading back toward the room we were turned away from and asked to take a picture. We did. This was my first time seeing a fursuit in person. They seem so big in pictures. In reality, they don’t add much to the suiter’s size.

Up the escalator, on to the con floor, where we finally got a look at the legendary hotel’s innards. The floor above us, which holds the hotel’s food court and leads to the mall food court across the sky bridge, had curious people from another convention taking pictures. Many of them had tails to go with their fancy business suits by the end of the convention. You can’t resist the fluff. I bump into them on Twitter from time to time excitedly sharing the story of that time they saw a furry convention happening in the same hotel.

I finally got to meet Haven Fusky, the ball of fluff behind HavenCon. He’s been a furry half as long as I have, but he took to it faster than I did. I dabbled from the 2000s and didn't make a fursona until the mid 2010s.

We ended day one at the rave. I had a pounding headache, so I didn’t expect to last long.

Somehow, the bass pounding through the room made my headache go away. I did not dance. Behind me on the sidelines, I saw someone familiar. Someone I’d had a falling out with on Twitter. I avoided them a few more times, then made amends after the convention. It didn't last, but we parted on good terms. Sometimes two personalities just don't mesh.

Day 2

Fennec foxes, the real ones, are exactly as tiny and cute as they look in pictures. Wendy the fennec was there with the Conservator Center, the charity selected for Furry Weekend Atlanta 2016. I asked why she had to be caged. The last time they took her out, the crowds were too much. I know that feel. Also, fennecs can run at 30 miles per hour, so they didn’t want to risk her getting loose in that big hotel. Wendy has since passed away. Foxes don't live nearly long enough.

The big thing for me on day two was the sky lounge social. While in line around the central barrier of the tenth floor, from which you could see all the way down, I met a guy who really knew his film. We chatted about why some old movies and shows get a HD release while others don’t. For example, I didn’t know they recorded parts of Stargate SG-1 on 35mm, ensuring it would never have a proper HD release without ugly upscaling. Sad.

Behind us, cheesy electronic dance music emanated from a wolf. Normally I’d hate it, but the beat kept the line moving when conversation died down. Later, once we got our food, we met the friend we made in line and chatted with his friends at a table while we ate and looked out the windows.

They wouldn’t let us have campfires in the hotel to go with year's convention theme, so we had mocha smores in little cups instead.

Day 3

Day three convinced me it was wise to skip the convention’s actual day 1. I was so out of it I almost forgot to check the Dealers Den one last time. I'm convinced I had a coronavirus. The symptoms resemble covid-19's so closely that it's hard to explain otherwise.

I met Rukis. If you’re a furry, you know who Rukis is. She makes cute art, but I did not know she writes. I spent several minutes chatting with her at her table. We talked about art and books, the state of the fandom, conventions. Stuff like that. Except I didn’t realize I was talking to Rukis. I recognized the art, but didn’t make the connection. That’s how out of it I was when I handed her my card to pay for my print.

I’ve since read two of her novels. The first, Off The Beaten Path, involves the arctic fox on the print I bought. Puquanah is a blind arctic fox who travels with his coyote, Ransom, and goes on all kinds of adventures. This print depicts Puquanah soon after being kicked out of his tribe, before he became a healer.

What I’ve noticed is, in the furry community, even the stars are down to Earth. I also (knowingly) talked to Fox Amoore at his panel on music composition and met a few other minor figures in the community. I hugged a lot of fursuiters.

I ended the day at Max Lager’s with the biggest hamburger I’ve ever eaten. We actually planned to go to Hard Rock Cafe, but the estimated wait time was absurd. So we went a few blocks to Max Lager’s, passing someone taking their graduation photos, meeting a guy who apparently rides around on his bicycle telling groups to stop laughing (we were).

You should go to Max Lager’s if you’re ever in town.

I decided to make my next convention a non-furry con. FWA was too small, so when the former friend I was with ditched me for 99% of the convention, it was hard to find my way around. He had more experience with cons, so I felt safe going in, but I realized it was unwise to depend on someone I barely knew. I met all the people I knew who were in attendance on the first day, and you can only hit up the Dealers Den, Game Room, and Artist Alley so many times before you run out of activities.

DragonCon is an obvious choice, but it's probably a 2022 or 2023 thing unless this newsletter takes way off. Money isn't as tight as it was in 2016, but I know from that experience that I need to stay at the hotel, not commute, and I need enough money budgeted to really enjoy myself. But I Did A Con, and it marked a huge bucket list item off while also giving me a more realistic idea of the experience.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1851887 2022-07-11T13:16:36Z 2022-07-11T14:08:36Z Music Commission: Catnip [Theme of Proxy]

Freebie theme commission for comrade Proxy (https://prroxy.carrd.co/) to help build out my portfolio.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1851639 2022-07-05T23:02:52Z 2022-07-11T14:09:07Z Raised by the internet

You know the subreddits. Raised By Narcissists, Lost Generation, Childfree, and other subreddits in that theme. Forums where people go to share notes and commiserate.

They’re great for a little while. You learn the boundaries of your traumas, find strategies to get past them, and then…

That’s where the problem starts. By the time you’ve gotten something out of them, you’re used to visiting and joining in on the misery. But you can’t just stay there and keep getting something out of it.

It’s true of anything. Eventually, you have to move on from the beginner level. You can’t live in your misery. At some point, you have to live. Take it from someone who spent hours a day getting mad in /r/lostgeneration while ignoring all the things I could be doing to thrive despite all the barriers put in my generation’s way. Once you grow past it, you realize a lot of the people hated by that forum are in the same boat, and getting your daily Five Hours Hate just keeps you from realizing who your allies are.

Let me leave you with one lesson: If a relationship makes you feel worse every day, the relationship is toxic. That could be family, friends, a partner, a place online. Or offline. Time and energy you spend in those relationships is time and energy you can’t spend learning from it and moving on to better things.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1851638 2022-07-05T23:02:50Z 2022-07-11T14:09:04Z Better than better than

The hardest part of adulting is learning to let go of things. But it’s so important.

Someone hurt you and now you have some coping response?

Well too dang bad, because unless you take responsibility for it, you’re going to do it to someone else. Blame deflection and coping behaviors are ticking time bombs.

As evidence: I had to unlearn all kinds of things from family and peers growing up. I was paying trauma forward and had to own that so I could stop living in other people’s scars.

I had a friend who got genuinely hecked over by a family member, financially. Badly.

They kept blaming the payments on that loan for all their problems. It was bad, but they spent a lot of time dwelling on it. They spent a lot of time dwelling at me about it as an explanation for why they had no time to deal with the consequences of how they hurt me in a previous, untold story.

Of course, at the time, this person was someone I considered a good friend. I’m pretty good at writing, at research. I offered to help them job hunt, to edit their resume, to practice interviews, as a way to help get them out of that job that they spent plenty of time complaining about. I had plenty of free time.

In retrospect, I should have asked them to chill with complaining about it because it was wrecking my mental health. The excuses. The topic of setting boundaries is a post for another day! I wasn’t good at it then. They didn’t want my help, and rebuffed offers just bred resentment on both sides.

I’m not into and have many concerns about the modern Stoic movement, but I think the idea of taking responsibility for what you can control and trying not to fret what you can’t is solid. You can’t go back and make better calls, but stress and bad financial decisions are a cumulative loop. When you live in past errors, past traumas, it keeps you from dealing with the consequences and moving past it.

That person is no longer a friend because their scars became my scars, and they refused to make time to help heal them. They refused to even acknowledge what they did. I couldn’t heal them on my own with them in my life, so they didn’t get to be a part of it anymore.

I had to let them go. The years since that last conversation have been the most productive, most healing time of my life despite covid and a major life crisis (another story for another day).

Every person I got a bad behavior from was worse. Almost all of them I tried to talk to about it denied they were doing anything wrong. It doesn’t matter if you’re less abusive than your abuser. It doesn’t matter if you’re less unreliable than the people you couldn’t depend on. You still have to stop projecting it forward. Someone has to be the one to say “wait no, I messed up, I can be better than this” and break the chain.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1851636 2022-07-05T23:02:49Z 2022-07-11T14:09:01Z You really need to deal with your shit

Self-hate. Judgement. Refusing to learn to let go of anger and hate. Projecting your traumas forward. Misunderstanding forgiveness as being about another person rather than being about moving forward, and the other person can come along if they’re willing to learn from whatever needed forgiveness.

Fixing all this is long, hard work. I didn’t start until my late 20s, and I’m just getting ahead of it in my 30s. It doesn’t matter how old you are. And, truthfully, not doing this will shorten your life. Every year you put into it might be a year you gain from better habits, better thought processes, and an improved disposition toward life.

The usual suspects:

  • Failure to set boundaries. Time, interpersonal, expectations. I can do about one long post like this a month with shorter ones weekly, and I know this from all the times I burned myself out and produced absolute garbage trying to force it. This is where a Thing helps: make things that are unique enough, and nobody will care about output. Yes, it’s true, Posting Regularly grows things faster, but then you’re stuck. You feel like you have to keep producing, so your quality suffers…and then people unsubscribe. I only write here when I see enough interconnected points to draw a map in text, but it’s too rare to be my thing.

  • Failure to diversify. In marketing terms, you’re looking for verticals: different things you can do with your skills. One big newsletter a month is fine because the newsletter isn’t really the thing. I post ideas here. If I stopped getting ideas, I wouldn’t post. If I came to depend on it for a living, I would split it up into distinct post series with defined formats that allow me to fill it out. This is why lists are great! But I don’t plan to do list posts. For now, it’s a high quality input I offer to others in the hopes they return the favor with good responses. Storytelling is my thing, and I have plans for it that bring all my skills together to create enough distinct verticals to fill out a steady content calendar.

  • Mistaking a skill for a thing. When I ran out of things to write or things to shoot, I wrote about writing and photography. It was almost all garbage. And that’s the key lesson here: garbage in, garbage out. You probably have to produce the garbage to figure out your thing, but go in with the knowledge that it might just be one intersection on something bigger. There’s little you can’t learn better by doing, and doing will bring you in contact with people who know a little bit of the map that’s still hidden to you.

  • Spending too much time lamenting the garbage. Nobody looked at the garbage. I poured everything into it, and nobody cared. You don’t even care about what you make yet if you’re still at the level of worrying about what other people will think. It’s fine. Move on. It’s practice. Ignore all your dashboards and stats thingies. I could have compressed 20 years into a month if I’d known back then what I know now about how big the map is and how little I could see from where I was. I took everything way too seriously and got too disheartened when no one noticed the things I put out. The map is always changing, and you have to learn its patterns.

  • Keeping it to yourself. Your output is communication. Some people will put up with something that’s not quite the thing yet because they see what you’re getting at even if you can’t quite make it there. And they communicate back. A good bit of feedback can shave years off your thingseeking. Subject yourself to an editor at least once in your life.

  • Not curating inputs. Even if you’re sitting on your ass all day, you can still work on your inputs. Spend all day on Reddit, but make sure the subreddits are good ones that help reveal some of the map. Spend all day on Twitter, but make sure you follow people who can show you the way.

  • Not accepting your part in the consequences for your bad inputs. Finding your real thing is really finding yourself, and it’s just as hard. If I find myself frustrated or angry, or feel like I’m wasting time, then an honest analysis usually finds a bad call I made earlier. It usually starts with opening Twitter, Reddit, or any other input without a purpose. I know I’m not the only person who’ll open a tab to go to Twitter until there’s several Twitter tabs. Yes, the modern web mines this tendency for profit, but it’s something I did back in the Web 1.0 days with plain old stateless forums in the age before anyone had a notion of growth hacking. They abuse the innate function of my brain, and they do the same to you. They won’t stop, so you have to.


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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1851635 2022-07-05T23:02:46Z 2022-07-11T14:08:58Z Life you learn from isn't wasted

I used to consider the hours and millions of words I poured into forums, Reddit, Hacker News, and Twitter wasted.

But then something happened.

My last 100,000 or so words have each been better than anything I’ve written before. Insights come out easier. Structure mostly tends to itself. So all those years that felt wasted, that I beat myself up over, were easy to reframe as practice.

There was probably a better way to get here, but my ADHD brain didn’t allow it. The lure of yet another argument online was too strong. But now it’s a little easier to disengage. To put those thoughts down into a file instead, or even into a newsletter draft like I’ve done here.

I’ve also come to appreciate brevity. What can I say about a new phase I’m still getting used to? It’s too new an experience to really share any learnings other than to say that all that time you feel like you’re wasting might be practice for what comes next. And instead of letting it lure you in and use more time than you need, be more intentional in that practice.

That’s about 200 words. What’ll the next million look like?

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1851634 2022-07-05T23:02:35Z 2022-07-11T14:08:55Z Unlearn Helplessness

I could get mad at him. But…it won’t help. It’ll just make me more stressed, and it won’t register with him that he needs to be better any more than the thousand other times.

This is, unfortunately, life. Sometimes it’s family. Sometimes it’s a stranger. A coworker. There is usually an individual responsible for the specific thing that happened.

You can sit and mope about how unfair the world is. You can live in other people’s damage. You can keep reenforcing and projecting forward the generational trauma that led to your current misery.

Or. Here’s a cool idea. Take charge of your own responsibility in that chain of events so old no one remembers where it started and reduce your exposure to other people’s damage as much as you can, then learn to let the rest roll off as much as you can bear. Grey rock it when you have to, break the script and take the bait less each time, and work on carving out spaces to be soft and fluffy.

You can’t live as a rock, but sometimes it’s the only way through the fire. A little bit at a time. One minute, one hour, one day at a time. One conversation you direct to, at worst, a stalemate at a time. One time you refuse to follow the script and let the neural pathways that hold generational trauma go fallow.

The little changes really do add up. “If you think I’m bad, you should see my parents” is the best most people ever manage, but only because settling for not as bad is part of the script.

Most people opt to keep going one way or the other. So, since you’re in it, you have to decide how you’re going to deal with it. Living in trauma stinks. It makes you feel bad. It makes the people around you feel bad. It leads you to make choices that drive you deeper into the situation. There’s nothing good about it.

We are weird chemical machines who perceive our reality mediated through a slab of meat in our skulls and a weird alien biome in our guts that science is just starting to figure out. Everything you do and everything you think carves new pathways and strengthens old ones. That “two wolves inside” story is bullshit cooked up by a dead fascist to sell the faulty good vs evil narrative to his fringe cult followers, but there is something to the idea that you are who you act. The more you’re pessimistic, the easier it becomes, and the harder it is to maintain a balanced perspective. You don’t have to be happy, but you can stop punching yourself.

As I work on this draft almost two months later, I don’t even remember what got me so mad I started this article instead. I used to lose days to anger over little things like whatever it was. Change is possible. Sometimes it’s slow. My own change started in earnest in the 2010s and it’s only paying dividends in the chaos of the 2020s.

Make a different choice every once in a while. It adds up

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1851633 2022-07-05T23:02:34Z 2022-07-11T14:08:53Z You can't monetize your entire hobby

There’s a quote in one of my favorite TV shows, Halt and Catch Fire: “Computers aren’t the thing. They’re the thing that gets us to the thing.” -  Joe MacMillan (played by Lee Pace), Halt and Catch Fire

Music was the thing that got me to the thing. I had a lot of hobbies and interests, but picked music to carry that weight because:

- I’m good at it.

- I’m fast.

- I don’t burn out on it easily.

- Selling it doesn’t bother me the way it does for other hobbies.

And that worked out…mostly. Even after all that, it took a lot of gifted money to finally get there. I was burned out, ready to give up. But you know what? Had I paced myself and paid attention to my physical and emotional state, it would feel less like a Pyrrhic victory. I got the tools for the non-music thing, but now I can’t look at my music tools without wanting to curl up into a little ball. The fun and enjoyment that got me into music in the first place is gone.

The burnout will pass. I hope. I miss making music right up until I try. Right now, I’m focused on learning to apply my tools to the thing—mostly writing—while using this newsletter to turn my experiences and perspective into something useful for others.

If you ever decide to follow my path and turn one of your hobbies into money to get you somewhere else, be prepared for the possibility that it’ll take longer than you expected. I had to bust my butt at it for years releasing hundreds of hours of music just to have enough saved from it to even think about buying a computer that didn't struggle to handle the thing. Now I’m absolutely fried emotionally on the subject of music.

Don’t do it the way I did it. Don’t get desperate. Don’t pump out 30 things a week for a month every few months hoping something clicks enough to make it all worth it. Pace yourself. You don’t want to be ruined for that hobby on the other side.

What I would change knowing what I know now

So you still want to ply your hobby as a trade.

Fine.

Okay.

Whatever.

Here’s some ideas.

My mistake, I think, was trying to turn the entire hobby into a money-making machine. See, my first “beats,” as the kids say, were nice little loops. These served as focus music. I would whip one up in the morning, then do something else. I wrote a 50k word novel with that! A draft the world will never see, but I still got it out.

And then I shared the music with some friends.

“You should sell this!”

Oh no.

And so I did. I had a little Bandcamp. I had a little Patreon that quickly rose to $4/month. I saved that up to buy some proper mixing headphones. Then I used that to make better music, and then suddenly it was $30/month.

Oh dear.

So I used that to buy a little MIDI keyboard. I used Reaper and the free Synth1 to make music at the time. The keyboard came with Ableton Live Lite. I’d wanted it for a long time, but never had the money. I rationalized that using my hobby to fund my hobby would make my music better.

But what really happened is I felt an ever-increasing obligation to produce, and at ever-rising quality. Flash forward to a year ago and I’m rocking Ableton Live Suite—sweet!—on a nice laptop with the good but not best edition of Komplete 13. Mostly paid for with gifts, but the new tools already paid for about half of what I spent on them.

What I would do now, and what I’ll probably do in the future, is keep making my little loops, but save the more substantial stuff for paying commission work when I’m able to start doing that. It’s still fun to help someone else navigate their music tastes to figure out what kind of music they want me to make for them. I tried designing and selling sound packs, stuff like presets and sound effects, but it wasn’t any fun and nobody bought them.

I was happiest playing around in LMMS with its ridiculous half-assed copy of Fruity Loops’ interface, so long ago, before some A/V nerd associate put me on a sound quality kick that led me to Reaper. I had no idea what a chord was, but I sure did make them!

So that’s it. If you must sell your hobby, keep whatever got you into it for yourself. If you loved making focus music, keep it to yourself, and make a job out of the parts you don’t have an attachment to yet.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1851630 2022-07-05T23:02:31Z 2022-07-11T14:08:50Z I experienced Joe Rogan

Sometimes it’s healthy to subject yourself to painful or traumatic things in a controlled way to reduce your sensitivity to it. I did not like Joe Rogan going into this project. Hearing him out for hours didn’t improve my impression. But I did hear him out.

Joe Rogan is at his best when he shuts up. He has no standards for his guests. One day he’ll have on Penn Jillette, a man who changed his podcast intro to be nonbinary-inclusive, and the next Joe will have on someone who’ll tell you that nonbinary stuff is “gender ideology” and whine about children on Twitter telling him to shut up. No standards.

But sometimes he has good guests on, and he doesn’t do any editing. I want to focus on one interview in particular: episode #1258 with Jack Dorsey, Vijaya Gadde, and Tim Pool. Jack Dorsey is Checkmark Zero, and largely irrelevant to this story. Vijaya Gadde is Twitter’s head legal team person and responsible for what they call trust and safety.

I don’t think I would have understood all the viewpoints involved here without the format. The episodes are long. This episode is three and a half hours. So long that everyone got out the usual BS, realized they kept repeating themselves, and chilled out enough to hash out their differences and similarities for a couple of hours before calmly conceding they wouldn’t fully agree with each other, but at least understood each other’s positions.

Tim Pool is one of those people I would normally dismiss as an asshole. Asshole, probably, but I heard him. He’s your typical free speech absolutist. He has his lines, and those lines are informed by his ideology. He thinks, and Joe generally agrees, that removing people and content from platforms prevents people from making informed decisions. He cites an example where a friend of his was going down the alt-right rabbithole by way of a right-wing personality. He wanted to reference a video on YouTube from that personality to show how bad they really are and where his ideas went, but the video was gone. He admitted he didn’t know why it was gone, but the point held: the video wasn’t available as evidence to steer that friend away. That was actually kind of persuasive. A point of agreement! We might disagree on the solution. More on that later.

I don’t think they would have gotten to the point of actually laying out their worldviews in a more filtered format. Unfortunately, that format also means people with some absolutely atrocious ideas get to speak without challenge, without the slightest “now wait a minute” from Rogan. That’s fine for a Vijaya Gadde or Penn Jillette, but not an Alex Jones. I got to better understand Tim Pool’s bad ideas, why Twitter moderates the way it does and the struggles they face, and I got to hear every single story Penn Jillette repeats on every podcast he goes on.

As for how to moderate tricky content, I think it’s better to demote the content and people and provide some informed commentary, then provide a path to the full force of their ideas with the benefit of that context. In the same way, I wouldn’t send someone to Joe Rogan’s podcast without pointing out some of the troubling people he has on. This is generally the path big platforms have taken. Twitter and Facebook added several classes of warning after the January 6th insurrection, and YouTube puts warnings on all kinds of things. However, they stop short of demoting things.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1851629 2022-07-05T23:02:30Z 2022-07-11T14:08:45Z Learn to code. Or don't.

Reasons to learn to code:

  • You have an offer for a job that involves coding, or could benefit from it

  • Existing tools don’t serve your needs well, or at all

  • You enjoy it

“Learn to code” is the common refrain for what to do when you’re poor. It’s misguided at best, malicious indifference at worst.

I had a problem trying to learn to code: I mastered all the syntax of a language, got comfortable understanding the standard library documentation, followed guides on applying common frameworks and libraries.

And then…

Well, what next? I can do it well enough, but all my hobbies have great tools already. None of the open source stuff I might contribute to comes close.

And no one will give you a programming job in the current environment if you don’t have a GitHub bursting with personal projects. So doing it as a job is out as an option if you don’t lean that way. Some people enjoy it and have no problem filling out a GitHub, or they have enough problems with the tools available to them that hacking on them is the best path forward.

This is not me. Of course, I reserve the right to change my mind without explaining myself. I probably will if it happens, but only because it’ll make a good article.

Most people will not make a better living programming than they could pursuing things they actually care about. The people at the top levels of the field are hard at work coding themselves out of a job by lowering barriers. This is a good thing for society, but it’s bad for salaries. Accessible means more competition: it opens the field to people who maybe aren’t brilliant with syntax, but can piece together elegant or at least functional solutions from off-the-shelf components. The gold rush is on the way out, and “programmer” is turning into an actual job and losing its value as a status symbol.

There is a future, probably not far off, where the shine wears off and it’s enough to be able to pick up syntax quick. Where companies hire for ability to learn and do the job, not ability to pass gatekeeping exercises.

But let’s say you’ve decided to forge ahead and learn to code. Here’s some tips.

Behind “where do I start with programming?” is “what if I pick the wrong language or framework?” For every possible path, there are fifty popular tracks. I think this overwhelm is a problem of approach.

No one tells you that it’s impossible to know which path to take before trying a few. You have to learn how to make a loop and instance a few objects or toss a few functions around in different languages until you have an idea of what appeals to you, and what well-worn paths or broad fields you can explore with those appealing aspects.

Other people’s opinions—theory, tutorials, forum posts, reviews, podcasts—are for when you have enough experiential knowledge to tell whose advice fits your needs and inclinations.

So that’s it. Pick a language. Mess around in it. Make some toys. Pick another language. Repeat. Like that framework? Goof around in it. Does that tutorial video look promising? Watch it, then see what others said about it.

Given enough time, you’ll get a sense of what you gravitate toward and discover the magic words to find other stuff that employs the bits you like. Then, and only then, are you prepared to get something out of some Elder Programming God’s treatise on Python bytecode. You aren’t ready for Python bytecode. Experts in Python sometimes don’t even know there is a bytecode.

Did you know Python list comprehensions and their expanded equivalents compile to bytecode with different performance profiles? Down this treacherous path lay premature optimization and wasted time until you know what to do with that knowledge, or if you need to do anything.

Go play. Have fun. You used to get this when you were a toddler. Did you worry about who had the best take on toddling form? Of course not. Be like a toddler and bump into things at random until something clicks. The sheer wall of frameworks and languages and platforms and tools doesn’t exist until you’ve picked enough at random and played with enough to filter the pile into something you can reason about. Then you realize the wall is a staircase that branches off in different directions.

Your assignment: pick a language. Find it on Learn X in Y minutes. Find some way to apply the different patterns to something you care about. A good clue is to see what libraries are available for that language, and how many target your interests. Try to implement one! Can’t find any? It’s a harder road, but someone had to make the first library. Maybe you’ll start a trend. Maybe you’ll figure out why no one wrote a library. You can write and publish a warning for others.

  • If you like listening to music, find a library that cracks open audio files and reads their metadata, then do something useful with it. Can you out-do Spotify’s recommendation algorithm? Look up how to make a K-nearest neighbors (KNN) algorithm.

  • If you make music, build a tool to open your project files and see which chords you use the most. This one’s trickier than it seems. Answering “what is a chord?” fills books.

  • If you’re a writer, do some statistical analysis on your writing and see what insights you can pull out. See where your findings meet, diverge from, or clash with the writing advice people give.

  • If you’re an artist, crunch the pixels and see which colors you use the most. Try to generate a set of pallets and compare what’s “right” in color theory to what you make and what looks good to you.

My advice to you, is to stop listening to advice until you know what to do with it. Do first. Find what you enjoy, then what you can do with it, then how you can do it better. Some people take on programming as a hobby and write code for the sake of writing code, but for most of us it’s a force multiplier. We need something to multiply.

After that

I am going to be honest with you: if you fully intend to make a go at this, you need to eventually have a passing familiarity with what nerds like to call idioms, patterns, and algorithms. Or something to that effect. Roughly translated: all the ways to do stuff that other people found after beating their head against countless dead ends.

For example: you’ll often encounter advice in the form of “don’t roll your own…” and it’s most often attached to crypto. But only because the hazards of getting encryption wrong are higher than with most things. Find the patterns. Find the idioms. Find the algorithms. Find the well-documented pitfalls. Then roll your own, if that sounds like fun, or if the existing stuff doesn’t fit your needs.

You’ll want to know this stuff eventually. Play, practice, have fun. But as you do, seek out a good book on common programming patterns. Things that transcend programming language tend to be called patterns or algorithms. Your bubble sorts and such. Languages often have their own word for the way things are done in their community. If you’re exposed to online games at all, you’d call this the meta. And like in games, it’s always evolving. In Python, for example, things in line with the meta are pythonic. For the rest without a word, idiomatic is the term. So if you want to find good ways to do something, search something like “idiomatic way to do [x] in [y language].” This is the stuff that most people get bogged down in trying to learn. Any good guide will cover this stuff, but do follow up with other perspectives. Truth comes out when ideas clash, but you don’t know what truth looks like yet.

Concerns about efficiency and security, which the meta generally focuses on, don’t really apply until you post your code up for others to use.

One caveat that you should care about from the start: there are different ways to mangle and manage data, and computer science has a good handle on what to use and when. I had a great list of these algorithms bookmarked somewhere on GitHub a while back that gave a rough overview of the common algorithms and examples in popular programming languages, but it went missing. You can guess and fumble your way around for writing personal code, but you should look up battle-tested ways of handling data for anything you let other people use.

Wikipedia has a huge list of algorithms you can do a page search on (Ctrl+F in most browsers) to find something suitable for what you’re working on. It’s more unwieldy than the list I had. Most languages implement these in their standard libraries, and they’re made by people who know computer science and practical programming, so you probably won’t improve on them by rolling your own implementation.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1851628 2022-07-05T23:02:28Z 2022-07-11T14:08:41Z Don't join a poly-cule until you have a poly-clue

Polyamory is when people decide to have some kind of relationship and are open to the idea of it not being exclusive. The shape of these relationships is highly situational and personal.

There’s basically two ways polyamory goes down:

  1. You learn a lot about yourself and unpack all the stuff you’ve buried over a lifetime, figure out what you want, and are forever changed for the better. Maybe this means you decide polyamory isn’t for you. This is how it went down for me.

  2. You double down on all your insecurities, ruin everything, and blame polyamory for it. Most of the negative stories you hear come from this. All polyamory does is amplify what’s already there. It’s like getting superpowers. An ass with laser vision was already an ass without it.

Here’s a short list of tips:

  1. Don’t go into it thinking it’ll solve your problems. A broken relationship will end up more broken if you try polyamory.

  2. Have clear expectations. Someone will get hurt by whatever you think is implicitly understood.

  3. Don’t mislead partners about possibilities, even by omission. If you’re adamant about giving your existing partner(s) veto power, make this clear up front with new partners.

  4. If you aren’t well-off, it’s probably not going to work. I learned this the hard way. I believe he wanted to make it work, but between a job, family, student loans, and previously undiscovered insecurities (for all involved), it was never going to work.

  5. When it doesn’t work, don’t be strung along. You probably won’t be friends after. It multiplies the trouble that comes with trying to be friends with someone you broke up with when it’s just the two of you. They’re going to want to talk about all the great experiences they’re having that you don’t get to be part of. And they’re going to feel bad or resentful when you finally set a boundary and say no, I don’t want to hear about it.

  6. When it doesn’t work, don’t string them along.

  7. Too many people in the polyamory community like to talk trash about people who don’t want to be friends with someone after a breakup. Accept no shame for your boundaries. Accept no shame for taking care of yourself.

  8. Accept no proxies. If a metamour (partner’s partner) has a problem with you, they need to speak directly to you. Or, at minimum, establish some boundaries on how you can lean on the person in the middle. They can act as a mediator; they do know both sides best, after all.

Speaking from experience, the last one paired with veto power is a relationship killer. I felt like an accessory to someone else’s relationship. It seemed like there was some new edict coming by way of the person I was trying to date every week from someone I’d exchanged maybe five awkward, anxious, uneasy words with. Someone who always acted hostile toward me.

Oh! That brings in a good final bulletpoint.

  • Don’t ignore the red flags. She looks you dead in the eye while smooching the person you’re both dating the first time you meet? Probably not going to work out.

Polyamory is an amplifying force. It takes anything that’s marginal and dials it up to 11, good and bad. But mostly the bad. All your insecurities. All your bad habits. Any mental health issues. All your money troubles. Everything you hoped wouldn’t come up again.

Anything you haven’t worked past will come up. Some stuff you thought you worked past will resurface. How you handle this will determine your experience with polyamory.

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tag:kyefox.com,2013:Post/1851627 2022-07-05T23:02:24Z 2022-07-11T14:08:39Z History is cancelled

Grade school curriculums erase the rough edges and rotten cores of history. By the time you reach a point where any of these missing details are taught, or even accessible, the rewritten history is not easily dislodged.

I try to take this awareness into interactions with people who say ignorant things. I try to show the same patience and understanding shown to me over my many and vast ignorances. If my angle on something is better than yours, it’s only because I listened to people whose angle was better than mine.

Information is sparse even in our high-speed interconnected world. Perhaps more so because of all the noise. It’s easy to point to people in past times who Got It. Abolitionists existed, after all. They Got It. Or at least by some quirk of ideology believed the treatment of some people was wrong even if they didn’t fully recognize the humanity of those people. But the majority of people of a time fall victim to its popular narratives.

Some commentators in our modern time of social media, falling victim to the era’s narratives, will tell you that one mistake is enough to end your social existence. They call it cancel culture. I don’t believe it’s as big a deal as it’s often made out to be.

As a budding, insecure queer who didn’t understand their feelings or know anyone who might have guided me through it, I called every bad thing “gay” back when that was fashionable before a teacher explained why it was bad. “What if you were gay?” Lady, you had no idea. This was at the tail end of the plague that wiped out queer elders, so us ‘90s kids were on our own in a society that had mellowed out from the gaybashing ‘80s to the casually homophobic ‘90s. Watch “Paris Is Burning,” check IMDB, and see how many hands you need to count people in it who survived past the 2000s and how young they were. They should be alive and well, but most aren’t. Nobody beat me up, but being alone in a society that understood me as well as I understood it---poorly---left injuries that are still healing.

Does it seem dangerous to admit these things in a “cancel culture” environment? I’m sure there’s someone out there who would hold an adult responsible for a mistake made and learned from as a child, but I don’t plan to edit to suit them.

The logic of cancel culture worriers goes that one mistake is enough. I’ve made tons of mistakes and learned from them. Admitting this should be insta-pariah by the worry-logic. I think about the luck I had in having elders to pull me aside and treat me with the care an ignorant child needs. I think about how most people don’t have that, and end up making the same mistakes into adulthood where those mistakes have real consequences for others, especially those they have power over. I think about how much would have been different if I’d had even one queer person in my life who’d had any real life experience. The closest I had was a friend who I just thought was quirky, but turned out to be a trans woman when we met up again. Now I understand why her dad kept making her cut her long hair to something more masculine. He wasn’t just worried about her resemblance to Kurt Cobain.

I’ve made yet more mistakes as an adult and learned from them, often right out in public on social media. I fearlessly swing my foot around knowing it might end up in my mouth. Just like everyone who has or will practice patience with my ignorance, I understand I might be the first nonbinary or generally queer person someone has ever met.

“Cancel culture” isn’t some new phenomenon. It’s the latest growth from apocalyptic soil watered with a bloody history our institutions would prefer we forget. A hate mob on Twitter can quickly propel you to just enough temporary celebrity to bring out every kind of human, good and bad, all in one indecipherable cacophony. The character of individual messages ceases to matter because they don’t resolve as individual. But it’s not new. The din of a real mob with torches blends in with one person off to the side telling them to chill out. What’s new is that the historical targets of these mobs can now turn mob fury on others. It still doesn’t make anything better. I won’t lose any sleep over J.K. Rowling being run out of decent company for her ignorant comments on trans people, but the subculture of misinformation people like her find when confirmation shopping under the guise of research is still there. The false histories they share, the lies they cling to for dear life as they try to explain away other people’s existence.

People on the boot end of society aren’t fragile. We don’t wilt at mere ignorance given voice. We won’t “cancel” you because you said something wrong. To quote Uncle Frank in response to a family member’s kindly ignorance: “I understand that’s the best you can do.” I understand people say these things. I understand they mostly mean well. You have to pair it with something sinister before I get out the Pitchfork of Gentle Correction. I say I, not we. There are people who get out the pitchforks early. It’s usually on social media or in blog posts where there’s little threat of violence in response.

They’re mostly people whose elders, the people who might guide them to a fierce but strategic advocacy, were murdered by police or mob violence, thrown in prison for bullshit reasons, or allowed to die in a plague. People like me were left in the camps by the “good guys,” and things have only improved in little pockets of the world. And we seem to be headed toward a stark regression. If you can bring empathy for the guy who got fired from Google for circulating a paper that made his colleagues uncomfortable, you can bring it for people who are dealing with a strange world with no one to talk to who gets what they’re going through.

“History is written by the victors” doesn’t just mean the losers get to be ignorant of history. Everyone is ignorant of the truth. We didn’t know the “good guys” of World War II left people like me in the camps, or chemically castrated the gay guy whose work in cryptography helped end the war. We didn’t know the pile in that famous book burning photo was substantially from the era’s equivalent to a queer center. We didn’t know the good guys loved eugenics, then a world craze for years, and mostly disagreed with the Nazis on how to go about it. Mass murder was mostly off the table, but sterilization, forced reeducation, and stealing children was quite popular among former British colonies. Still is. Nazis took notes and inspiration from the people who wanted to punch them.

We sure didn’t know Texas didn’t get the memo on Emancipation until soldiers marched over the apocalyptic ruins of the Indian Removal Act to let them know slavery as it was practiced was over. Not that it was actually over.

Perhaps you were fortunate to have an education and experience that included these things, just as some people in that time long ago had an education and experience that led them to support abolishing slavery. This is not the norm.

All our queer elders were wiped out by malicious indifference during the AIDS crisis. Vast swaths of black elders were and still are sent off to prison in service of the so-called war on drugs, or just murdered in the street by cops and vigilantes taught to see them as Other. Indigenous peoples, who faced the worst of the victor’s attempt to rewrite history, try to piece together some kind of heritage as they forge ahead creating new culture even as people parade around in fake war bonnets whooping like idiots while braying about how they’re celebrating “The Culture.” They don’t know. They don’t listen when told, but it’s how they’ve been taught to handle conflicting histories by their elders. The people who cancelled history.

"Cancel culture" is the villain in an episode of Scooby Doo. Pull the mask off and it's just colonialism trying to steal and rewrite the history of yet more territory.

Further reading/watching

Tim Ferris on what happens when you get famous. As someone who’s been on the receiving end of an angry Twitter mob, so much of this is familiar.

Zack Airas on his racist upbringing. I grew up in more or less the same area a decade or so later and the situation wasn’t much better. A friend’s moms had a pride flag a street over, but the KKK recruiter was closer and more available. Elders steered me away from that one, too.

Netflix documentary on the 13th amendment. Free to watch.

The Case for Reparations. This is essentially an abridged chronicle of racism in the US, past and ongoing, with a gentle suggestion at the end for congress to study lingering effects of slavery.

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