Assorted Mini-Articles

Posted: September 4, 2022

Needless Negativity 🔗

Last year, I shared a picture of sunflowers in my garden. I thought it was cool. One of my friends did not. He felt he needed to respond to it by making fun of me for for having a garden. I tried to defend myself (over text); but that did no good so I just ignored it, assuming he woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

Feel-good news about kids lemonade stand fundraising for sick kittens are reserved for "slow news days". The "real news" is always negative (and always out of your control): a foreign war, rising cost of living, a protest you disagree with, burning rainforests, a pandemic, and the list goes on. News medias can only stay in buisness by brodcasting negativity.

When you put negativity into the world, it only spawns more negativity. On that note, I am starting to dislike Grumpy Cat. My little sister got me a grumpy cat page-a-day calendar for Christmas. The sayings are always lame, often cliché, and always negative. This calendar has only been used in occasional bursts in order to catch up to present day. Starting your day with negativity is a bad idea.

Vicarious Achievenents 🔗

When I compared cheating in minecraft to short-circuiting the power proces, I noted that youtube videos building minecraft monoliths minimizes individual achievements.

I think that with youtube, and most other big tech social media, you are able to see incredible achievements. Why actually improve yourself when you can read self-improvememnt books? Why grow a garden when you can watch youtube videos of "permaculture food forests with integrated water management"? Why learn to cook when you can watch someone on the internet cook while you eat crappy fast food. Why excercise when you will never be able to be as jacked as the pro bodybuilders you see on tv and in the olympics. With "house hunters" or "house flippers", you never need to have the incentive to redo your kitchen.

No Tires, Just Gas!

The modern world is really good at giving you a fake version of the things you want. In the moment, social media provides you with a burst of dopamine; but real relationships provide you with sustained dopamine, over a very long period of time. Fundamentally, living based on what is easiest is not sustainable.

Sewing with Hawthorn 🔗

Where I live, there are Hawthorn trees. Cursory wikipedia research shows that species determination is difficult. Mine make small, pasty apple-like hawberries. The green wood has a slight pear smell when cut. I was thinking that the long, individual thorns(6-7cm) would be good for sewing.

I tried to make sewing needles by drilling a hole with the smallest drill bit I had.(1/16 in) Unfortunatley, the long thorns have a tendency to split along their length. Possibly a dry or old-growth thorn would not have this problem.

For now, all I can say is that Hawthorn thorns make better toothpicks than sewing needles. I also gained respect for the humble sewing needle.

Importance of Authenticity 🔗

Almost every Ash Wednesday on facebook, I've seen this meme:

Shout-out to my mom for finding this for me

Yes this is a meme, but it touches on some important things. The men (and women) who are not ashamed to wear ashes are definitley the best ones.

A while back, I wore a cross on a necklace with some other things like a miraculous medal. I wore it for a while, but eventually stopped. Over covid-pandemic, I had no real reason to wear a cross and continued to not. Over the last year, I started wearing my cross (a different one) much more often. The cross with all the medals became the thing I hang from my rearview mirror instead of fuzzy dice.

I have a lot of respect for Muslims as they are often very authentic about their faith. I want to be as authentic as them, not being worried about offending someone from the words "God bless you". I am proud to wear my cross every day.

The Importance of Calling People by their Name 🔗

It should be ovbious that people like to be called by their name. My little brother has a simple nickname, but it is very distinct from his legal name. He very much prefers to be called by this nickname. It's his name, and his full name is reserved for when mom's mad at him. Sometimes, I call one of my other brothers "buddy" or "dude". He hates this.

When you call someone by name, it shows that you care about them. Michael Scott (from The Office) has a sales strategy that is highly personal. Within one of the episodes he has a cheat sheet of information to be personable with clients. When I introduce myself to people, I try to parrot their own name back at them to help me remember it. I find that only partially works. I think I'm going to start adding a compliment to it.

Short, Related Story

I was at a party hosted by some catholic university friends. The music was really loud. One girl introduced herself to me by holding out her phone on the notes app saying "hi, i'm xxx". I took her phone to write "and I'm Brady, nice to meet you". I genuinley do not remember her name, and that's a shame, because she seemed nice. I don't even have an excuse to forget her name, as I had to drive home later.

The Internet Should be Boring 🔗

When you open up your computer, you should have a clear goal and once you have achieved that, be done. Consider how most people use the internet: waking up to immediatley check twitter, and then sneaking glances at reddit cat gifs all day at work (while also listening to a podcast). Hyper-stimulating content that is never boring is not essential for happiness, and memories from it is fleeting compared to non-technological alternatives. A very minute portion of websites are created simply.

Healthy, non-adicting, well-designed sites don't even fit on this graph of internet bandwidth from a Linus Tech Tips video.

I think it is worth intentionally blocking hyper-stimulating content on your electronics.

Some Garden Updates 🔗

Potatoes and their Flowers

About a year ago, I got a book The Lost Art of Potato Breeding[1] all about potato genetics and breeding. My thoughts were: "woah that's interesting" and "if only I was growing potatoes this year". This year I am growing a couple different varieties. I suspect my varieties are male-sterile as no potato berries have arisen. Depending on Canadian true potato seed import regulations (or better: Canadian sellers), I will try to order some for next spring.

Zucchini Overload

Over a 2 1/2 week vacation to the Canadian prairies, my zucchini plants exploded in growth and pretty much each plant grew a giant squash. I have tried to use up as much as I can (melted cheese zucchini trianges, shredded in pasta sauce, small chunks barbecued in tinfoil, & zucchini loaf). Despite all of this, I barely put a dent in my zucchini stash because they won't stop producing. I have an idea for rice and meat in zucchini boat recipe. If I can figure out something tasty, I may share a recipe.

There is also an interesting knobbly crookneck yellow squash growing in the same patch. It doesn't look like the seed packet I planted it from, so maybe it's a hybrid? (it should just be yellow squash) I will do my best to keep it from being harvested so that I can save seeds from it.

I also discovered that when a zucchini is still small, you can eat the whole thing raw like a cucumber. (It has come to my attention that this may be misunderstood. When I say eaten like a cucumber that is only if you eat your cucumbers like a carrot.)

Free as in Freedom of Speech 🔗

I like Richard Stallman. He is staunchly opposed to non-free software, facial recognition, megacorporations, national identity cards, infinite copyright and more.

However, he is also very liberal. In reading his site, you will find that he refers to former president Donald Trump as The Corrupter. This is not spectacular but also not the end of the world. One thing that is concerning is how he seems to demand censorship of pro-life content.

22 June 2022: Everyone: call on social media companies to stop the spread of abortion lies.

Despite a giant banner on his website proclaiming "Don't watch TV coverage of Covid-19", half of his political notes are about how evil republicans are, the other half are about how bad climate change is getting, and the important stuff about free software is lost in this mess.

What happened to the Voltaire quote of:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Free software and freedom of speech should not be exclusive.

Colonialism and the Prime Directive 🔗

Star Trek presents the Prime Directive: a law prohibiting interference with alien cultures.

"The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules; it is a philosophy... and a very correct one. History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well-intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous"

In-universe, the prime directive prohibits interfering on strange, new worlds where no one has gone before. But I think it has an application here on earth.

A long while back, I watched a documentary that was exploring the disastrous effects of a modern diet on Australian aborigines. Basically, refined modern food crap is even worse for them than everyone else. They did not have the slow evolutionary buildup towards tolerance of high-fructose corn syrup and now are very susceptible to diabetes, obesity and other preventable dietary problems. The solution: eating none of the processed junk that has been making them sick.

There are similar problems wherever indigenous cultures have been disrupted. A few examples spring to mind: cargo cults in the pacific islands, substance abuse problems among indigenous peoples in North America, or poverty in Africa exacerbated by Western aid.

Given time, I believe that all cultures would eventually develop along similar lines. An interesting thought arises: in developing solo, could they develop better solutions than what we would have provided?

Binding my Own Book 🔗

So I wanted the hawthorn sewing mini-article to be a craft. That didn't turn out but I wanted to include a craft anyway.

I printed a book. I creased and then tore each page in half. I then took a red manila folder to create a dust cover. I used a power drill to drill a whole bunch of holes for stitching. I threaded the blue twisted pair from some cat5 internet cable through the holes. I then used a knife to cut out a small hole for the title.

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, bound by me

I did not have everything figured out I made it. I had to rip each page in half as I messed up how long the book was and realized I couldn't just staple it down the middle. Trying to remove some blank pages before printing meant I accidentaly reversed the binding offset, so the extra whitespace intended for the the inside is the outside.

I think I want to review and share thoughts on The Screwtape Letters when I finish reading it. Because I printed it myself, I can and have marked up this copy as much as I want.