January 22nd, 2020

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Cuddle Party

Everyone needs contact comfort sometimes. Not everyone has ample opportunities for this in facetime. So here is a chance for a cuddle party in cyberspace. Virtual cuddling can help people feel better.

We have a cuddle room that comes with fort cushions, fort frames, sheets for draping, and a weighted blanket. A nest full of colorful egg pillows sits in one corner. There is a basket of grooming brushes, hairbrushes, and styling combs. A bin holds textured pillows. There is a big basket of craft supplies along with art markers, coloring pages, and blank paper. The kitchen has a popcorn machine. Labels are available to mark dietary needs, recipe ingredients, and level of spiciness. Here is the bathroom, open to everyone. There is a lawn tent and an outdoor hot tub. Bathers should post a sign for nude or clothed activity. Come snuggle up!
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Airbnb Cyberstalking

 Airbnb uses cyberstalking to go through people's social media accounts to see if they're psychopaths.  While the goal of safety is laudable, stalking people all through the internet is the opposite of safe.  And it's not just one business doing this -- it's more and more common.  This contributes to the overall anxiety of people who are constantly being examined and criticized, which is ruinous to health.  And does the algorithm only  exclude people who are objectively dangerous (e.g. criminals)?  Or does it also exclude all the unpopular folks like black people and autistics and poor people and so forth?  AI tends to absorb the bigotry of its programmers, so the outlook is not good.
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Transgender Issues

 Here's a long, rambling post about issues of gender, identity, sexism, politics, racism, classism, and other mayhem.

In short: Society is a mess and it hurts people.  There are many experiences of transgender and other identities.  People have different feelings and talk about them in different ways.

I don't think picking on each other helps.  You decide your stance and vocabulary; other people decide theirs.  If it's wrong for the mainstream to force its ideas on others, it's just as wrong for minorities to do so.
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Genetic Variation

 ... allows mussels to adapt to ocean acidification.

Genetic variation is also a factor in long-term species survival.  Lose that, and even with many individuals, extinction becomes probable.  This effect is worse the smaller the gene pool, and the slower the reproductive rate.  So large animals and predators are much more vulnerable than small animals and prey.  If you put a pair of rabbits on an island, they will cover the island with rabbits.  They breed so fast that they can afford to lose a high percentage of individuals to inbred defects and still sustain a viable population -- but they remain constrained by lack of variety.
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Climate Refugees

 ... may gain the right to asylum if a proposal passes.  This could have a big impact, as many refugees today are affected by climate change.

Logically, people should have the right of free movement.  In practice, people in not-miserable places don't want to get overrun by people fleeing from places that are uninhabitable due to war, starvation, or increasingly in modern times, environmental foreclosure.  I suspect the latter will win over the former.

It also won't make much difference.  People won't stay and die.  As climate change makes more of the world uninhabitable, people will flee.  If they aren't welcomed, they'll simply overrun the barriers.  Even a castle is only good for 10:1 odds.  The moment 11:1 people hate you, then you're fucked.

We can either set up a rational means of handling this issue now, or get stuck with irrational ones later.
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Reusable Bags

 ... are not always better for the environment. This article discusses different types and parameters.  Basically, the more you use something, the more eco-friendly it gets.

The most eco-friendly seems to be recycled plastic.  But they left out a critical point: microfiber pollution.  The more you use things, the more they break down.  As they wear out, they shed more and more bits until they finally rip enough that you need a new one.  If people are discouraged from using cotton, a natural and renewable material, due to its production footprint ... how much are we raising the microfiber pollution as more people use synthetic bags?
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Sea Level Rise and Migration

Rising sea levels will drive Americans inland.

Moving inland is a good thing.  We should commence as soon as possible.  Advisable steps would include:

* not building anything new in coastal areas that will be inundated

* beginning the move by building only on the inland side of coastal settlements

* closing vulnerable facilities promptly (hospitals, daycares, etc.) and moving them inland

* looking into how we might route people first to areas currently suffering from depopulation



* building as much affordable housing as possible in the Midwest and Mountain areas

* offering incentives for people to move away from the areas most at risk for flooding, violent storms, and while we're at it wildfires and water shortages

* discouraging anyone from moving into areas of high threat

I don't advocate using force.  It is inefficient and unethical, usually causing more problems than it can solve.  But there are lots of places like Illinois, West Virginia, and Wyoming that are losing people yet safe to live in.  Shifting people there is a win-win.

See also my Rutledge thread in Polychrome Heroics about settling Syrian refugees in Vermont, where many towns are dwindling.

We have people that need places; we have places that need people; it is civilization's job to put those together.  Fail and die.

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Beetles

“If one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of creation it would appear that God has an inordinate fondness for stars and beetles.”
J.B.S. Haldane

Given the calculated damage of bushfires to species survival, I think we need a piece of bushfire art in which a freaking out God stares down at the burning continent and wails, "My beetles!"

This popped into my head while I was working on the year-end poetry collection.  Yes, really. This is what it's like to try concentrating when your brain has a zillion channels and one of them is always on Weird TV.

Apparently my brain comes with a built-in boomerang for math.  If I fiddle with numbers for more than a few minutes -- in this case, I was doing search-and-replace to remove line numbers -- my attention goes boinging off at a random tangent.  I've lost count of how many universes I wrote up while trying to do math homework. Fortunately I don't have to do that anymore.  But hey, if I ever have the normal kind of writer's block, I know exactly how to fix it: with numbers.