March 5th, 2020


Hostile Architecture

See some examples of architecture designed to drive people away.

While it may be aimed at homeless people who can't afford to pay for a place to exist, it doesn't affect only them.  It's a constant visual reminder to everyone else that they're only tolerated as long as they can pay for it.  The environment becomes and emotional assault.  Also by preventing people from resting effectively, it makes spaces inaccessible to the disabled, the elderly, the pregnant, and everyone else who can't walk indefinitely without sitting down.  And if there's no place to lie down, there's no place to treat someone who has a heart attack, a fainting spell, or anything else that needs horizontal care.

Attacking Clean Eating

Here's another attack on clean eating. While it's possible to take anything to extremes that become harmful, I think most of the problem here is that just finding edible food in today's foodstream requires going to extremes. If you cross off high-fructose corn syrup, for instance, there goes 90-95% of the store's contents. If you want unprocessed food, you get part of the produce section, part of the meat section, and very little else. If you need gluten-free, allergen-free, or organic food then you are restricted to one tiny section. The rest of the food exists but is not safe for you to eat. Plus you're paying half again to twice as much for real food as for ultraprocessed junk, which puts a burden on your budget.

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Keto Diet and Blood Sugar

There's a ruckus over the VA testing the keto diet as a means of controlling diabetes.

If they do it right, this is actually a wise approach: test it.  Does the keto diet reduce problems of diabetes and other blood sugar issues?  If so, does it do that better/faster/cheaper/safer than other methods?  Does it cause other problems?  If so, are those less bad, the same, or worse than problems caused by diabetes and/or other treatments such as drugs?  You have to look at the net effect, not just changes in one area like blood sugar itself.  I don't know whether the VA is being that careful.  I do know that testing things, preferably with a large number of diverse willing participants, is much better than just taking it for granted that something is "good" or "bad" or "effective."  

As a general rule, eating lots of carbs and fat tends to cause problems with blood sugar.  Keto is low-carb but high-fat.  Will it perform better or worse than other diets, for example, those with lower fat and carbs that rely extensively on fresh produce?  My suspicion is keto will perform worse, but some people might find it works better for them.  I'm curious about the results.  I keep an eye out for studies like this, because people have a tendency to run after this or that fad diet instead of actually measuring what it does.  Science matters.

New Crowdfunding Project: I Was a Teenage Creature

I'm fascinated by this project:

IWATC is a narrative-focused tabletop roleplaying game that makes the emotional angst of urban fantasy teen-drama TV shows part of the game

$2,507 pledged of $5,000 goal
80 backers
15 days to go
All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Fri, March 20 2020 11:59 PM CDT

At first glance it's just another urban fantasy RPG.  But take a closer look at the mechanics: this game relies heavily on character emotions, not just physical stats or mental skills.  Furthermore, each character type relates to one of those emotions: Casters are Proud, Fae are Happy, Vampires are Sad, etc.  Humans can choose any emotion, although Love is the most popular.  I have a particular admiration for games that manage to work their theme into their mechanics, so I am tempted by this one.

Today's Smoothie

This is today's smoothie:

1 cup guava nectar (the current one)
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 pear, quartered and cored
1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
1 nub of ginger root (maybe a teaspoon?)

This one is tasty: mild, smooth, slightly sweet, just a hint of spice.  :D  Guava nectar makes everything better.

This VUCA World

I found a good description for the world today.  VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complicated, Ambiguous.  It appears in an article with some very good leadership advice.

Another tip from the flip side: when someone makes a difference in your day, or your life, tell them.  Many jobs have very little compassion validation, and this helps.  I thanked a lawyer once.  He was so flabbergasted, I think he'd have been less shocked if I'd flashed him.


I spotted this gorgeous picture and wanted to talk about it. 

The palette is primarily red, yellow, and green plus the blue sky.  The vivid red flowers in the courtyard echo the softer red tiles of the roof.  The whole compound is nestled in a forest of palm trees, with a green lawn for activities.  In the background, the church has a huge mural and stained glass windows, which also use soft bright colors.  

The geometry is crisp and elegant, repeating classic curves and angles through arches and pathways.  Look at the size of the paths: that center line is probably 6' wide and the smaller side paths 4' wide to provide both visual interest and different traffic flows.  The shady, breezy galleries invite people to stroll between buildings in comfort.  Another piece of public art, the statues in the courtyard, have an inviting human scale.  It's the one thing which is dramatically asymmetrical, adding interest.

It's just beautiful, all around, a wonderful place to go.  Contrast this with today's blobitecture that competes to be as hostile and hideous as possible.  People used to understand how and why to make places that are a delight to use.  We need more of this in the world.

Love Languages and Parenting

Here's a thoughtful article on love languages and parenting.  When you show "I love you," it is crucial to show it how the other person feels it, not how you do.  My observations include ...

* Almost all children want to spend quality time with adults they love.  This is probably the leading love language among children, up until the tweens or teens when they start to pull away.  There are exceptions -- some are innate loners and some never really detach -- but that's the trend.  

* The second is probably touch, but there's much more variation here.  Some kids are burrs and others are downright unhuggy.  Again, most start out very cuddly but pull away at tween or teen age, but don't stop offering healthy touch.

* Gifts, words, and service are hit or miss.  Some kids love homemade things, some don't care, some are actively embarrassed by them.  Words can be a lifeline or background noise.  Note that service sometimes conflates with time.

When in doubt, try time first and touch second.  If those don't connect, try the others.



This free, open-source software breaks down music into its aspects (vocals, drums, etc.) for analysis.  People are worried about copyright issues.

It is generally fair use if you are:
* not making money from whatever you do
* using software to enhance end results in ways that don't modify the product itself
* using something only for educational purposes
* just analyzing things

However, if you use part of something to make something else, then it's derivative work.  If you sell what you make, the copyright gets extremely messy.  This is increasingly problematic in a cut-and-paste world where less and less is original.  What's happening is that digital natives don't give a flying fuck about copyright and we're likely to wind up back in a phase where people don't even bother to put their names on things because who cares.  As an archivist, I hate that, but I do know how to recognize when it's winding up again.  

The article also didn't mention the use I'd be most interested in: crunching an entire database of music to derive clusters and patterns.  What are the most popular time signatures, rhythms, guitar riffs, or words?  You could aim for those in creating new material, which would not be derivative but merely informed.  What things are you not  hearing, or not hearing much of?  Those are areas of maximum potential for innovation.  This is basically what I do when I mine fanfic for inspiration.  I read so damn fast that I can simple consume vast quantities of material, compiled and correlate, and then load the most desirable elements into my original canons.  A quick-and-dirty method would be to read the numbers on the tags in any archive that counts its tags.

It would also be interesting to analyze genres and subgenres of music in search of objective rather than subjective identifiers.  Is there really a concrete difference between certain clusters, or is it just something people made up that isn't backed by the content itself?  Interesting topic.