New Haircut

Recording it here for reference, since I’m about to move away from Angela at G-Spot Hair Design in Iowa City and begin the task of developing a relationship with a new stylist in Austin.

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Also, the first online evidence of my goatee. And introducing my shoulder tribble, Gumball.

Quotation from Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber

The very fact that we don’t know what debt is, the very flexibility of the concept, is the basis of its power. If history shows anything, it is that there’s no better way to justify relations founded on violence, to make such relations seem moral, than by reframing them in the language of debt–above all, because it immediately makes it seem that it’s the victim who’s doing something wrong. Mafiosi understand this. So do the commanders of conquering armies. For thousands of years, violent men have been able to tell their victims that those victims owe them something. If nothing else, they “owe them their lives” (a telling phrase) because they haven’t been killed.

Things You Should Know About Kevin Love

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This is Kevin Love. He plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves and, for much of his career, has been a top-5 player in the NBA. Unfortunately, most people haven’t realized he’s a top-5 player in the NBA, because he plays for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Even though he is a gilded basketball titan, he has played on teams so historically terrible that it’s taken years longer than it should for people to realize he’s the best power forward alive. Unsurprisingly, like Kevin Garnett before him, he doesn’t want to play in Minnesota anymore. He is saying he won’t sign a contract extension, and is demanding a trade.

Now that LeBron James has decided to return to the Cavaliers, the biggest off season question is where will Kevin Love end up? The Golden State Warriors could have had him already, but hilariously fucked it up by refusing to part with Klay Thompson, who along with the much, much better Stephen Curry makes up their so-called “Splash Brothers.” This is a lot like refusing to trade your Vespa for a Maserati because your kid drew some hearts on the fender. It is also even more evidence that Love’s career has been hideously misused by the Timberwolves. Since we are all going to be laughing at the Warriors about this for years, and to spare other GMs similar humiliation, here are some important facts about Kevin Love.

  • During the 2010-2011 season, Kevin Love learned how to control the path of a ball in flight with his mind, but still only won 17 games because his teammates were three magic beans and a drinking bird.
  • January 31, 2014: Kevin Love quantum tunneled right through Marc Gasol for a defensive rebound, but on the outlet pass J. J. Barea mistook the ball for a snake and kicked it.
  • Decemeber 18, 2013: Kevin Love, defended by LaMarcus Aldridge, banked a three pointer off the moon, but it got waved off when Dante Cunningham accidentally set a referee on fire.
  • March 14, 2014: Kevin Love inspired a flood of physics papers with a televised demonstration of boxing out in eleven dimensions. In post-game comments following the loss, teammate Kevin Martin revealed he was unaware there were other players besides himself on the court
  • His uncle was a Beach Boy.

These things are all 100% true. I encourage NBA front offices to make their decisions accordingly. And I encourage Kevin Love to keep his head down for a year and then head to San Antonio. The Spurs really know how to take care of an elite power forward.

Thoughts on KNIGHTS OF SIDONIA

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The latest show I’ve binge watched is Knights of Sidonia, the anime based on the manga by Tsutomu Nihei (which I’ve not read). It’s a “Netflix Original” in that Netflix produced and has exclusive distribution rights to the English language version, but is actually a production of Polygon Pictures. As for the show itself, it’s a mecha anime with a relatively hard-SF bent and a distinctive CGI animation style. The premise is that humanity scattered after the Earth was destroyed by giant mysterious space monsters. Hundreds of years later the generation ship Sidonia is alone in space, training mecha pilots to fight off monsters, when a mysterious, uniquely skilled, biologically unusual boy is discovered who quickly becomes the key to the ship’s survival.

There is, frankly, almost nothing in it that I haven’t seen somewhere before, and often done better. (The Left Hand of Darkness-esque androgynes, in particular, are criminally under-used.) There’s a ton of Gunbuster in here, some heaping spoonfuls of Evangelion, and a steady stream of familiar beats and thematic gestures from both anime and written science fiction. But for all that it doesn’t feel particularly original, the mix is pleasing, the pacing tight, and the willingness to kill off established characters admirable. And while it has the usual, eye rolling, fan service-y cliches that make watching so much anime feel like a mildly guilty pleasure, it at least goes to some effort to justify their inclusion in the show. All the women are drawn to the main character because he’s a biological oddity who is constantly saving all their lives. (And one of them isn’t a woman, it’s an androgyne, but so far that only functionally means “shy, flatter-chested character who corrects people when they say ‘you’re a cute girl.’”) The gratuitous nudity is because all of these people photosynthesize for most of their nutrition, and need to disrobe and expose their skin to the light frequently. So the show feels like it’s at least trying to meet me halfway in not being a total embarrassment, which makes it palatable enough for me to stick around for the high velocity space battle goodness.

My biggest problem with the show, really, is that it’s a mecha anime at all. The ubiquity of the genre convention that the right tool for any hard job is a giant robot shaped like a human body is mystifying. The better the rest of the science fiction world building gets, the more the mecha stand out as simply odd. No reason is ever given why intricate mecha are a superior option to, say, space fighter planes. It’s not like those huge mechanical wrist joints actually get used in battle very often. In space, no one can feel you throw an elbow. One of the many, many things I loved about Cowboy Bebop was that I was finally getting space opera without all the damn mecha. I was supremely disappointed when Attack on Titan turned out not to be about orbital sorties above the moons of Saturn. Anime seems the perfect medium to tell big, crunchy, engineering-heavy, interstellar science fiction stories, if only these series could get past spending 30% of their time on teaching space warrior to bend their hydraulic knees.

An Overdue Return to Tabclosing

My tabs have gotten so extensive that I’ve outsourced the problem and started banishing them to my Pocket queue rather than keep them in the browser. Time to start recording this stuff again. There will be much more of this to come.

  • Zac Efron and Michelle Rodriguez, Romantic Human Couple” – To start off with something amusing, a brief photoessay from Mallory Ortberg at The Toast. Includes rumination on the placement of the human carapace and the line, “I can love you better from up here, alone.”
  • 40 plus 5” (NSFW) – Following up with something raw and occasionally harrowing, a long photoessay from Ruth Fowler about the birth of her son Nye. She had a complicated home birth, and her photographer husband Jared Iorio captured the whole thing though his lens. The photos are graphic and powerful, and Ruth writes about the experience of giving birth with taught, unsentimental description, which I found incredibly affecting. I’ve also been reading the other essays on Fowler’s site.
  • On Turning 30” – Molly Crabapple writing in Vice about age and gendered expectations. She and I are the same age. Our experience getting here has been different in important ways.
  • When Hitting ‘Find My iPhone’ Takes You to a Thief’s Doorstep” – Article in the New York Times that was sent to me by many people. They sent it to me because they know I did this. When my iPad was stolen, I tracked the thief’s location and used some social engineering to spook his roommates into revealing him, then sent the police to his door. I got the iPad back, and the thief was arrested. At no time did I ever consider bringing a weapon with me.
  • The Myth of the Veneer” – Ursula Le Guin, at the Book View Cafe, writes about the myth that civilized, prosocial behavior is a superficial mask for an anarchic human nature.
  • The Teaching Class” – Rachel Reiderer writing for Guernica Magazine about the corporatization of higher education and the current state of the things where the janitors make more than the professors. Basically, a long essay about why I’m bailing out of the sad, sucker’s game that is modern humanities academia.
  • And finally, an excellent video about patterns of discourse on the internet: “This Is Phil Fish”