Don’t react. Sit with it until you know what you feel. Sit with it.

This quote is so relevant to the current milieu. It succinctly describes what I try to do every day. There is a maelstrom of bullshit flung at us every second, but the beautiful truth is you don’t need to react to it right away, and in most cases, if you just let it pass, you’ll find that very little of it requires your attention at all.

I’m really digging Tumblr lately. I’ve been there since early days but I’ve never been following so many people before. Things have changed since the Tumblrpocalypse. Here’s an Atlantic thing that sort of encapsulates it, but the tldr is that rather than killing it, the porn ban just shrunk Tumblr and left it more weird, more meta, and somehow way more fun.

Here are 10 reasons why tumblr is actually fantastic now, in no particular order:

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Five
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Seven
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Nine
Ten

Good morning, Internet!. Here’s a little Monday-morning good news:

The Beautiful News is a bit of good news, every day, delivered with beautiful graphic design on your platform of choice. (Hat-tip to the ever-wonderful Recomendo newsletter.

And here’s Monday morning’s good bread news:

20% milled whole wheat, 10% organic white rye, 10% organic high mountain, seeds, cranberry

http://tilde.club/~jonbell/ is a tilde.club link dump. This is the kind of thing I just love. A simple, concise list of things that someone else finds interesting.

Salvador Dali’s Tarot is now available from Taschen Books. The deck was originally created for the James Bond movie Live and Let Die, but was never used in the film. Instead, the Tarot of the Witches by Fergus Hall appeared in a couple scenes instead. It was the Tarot if the Witches in this film that got me interested in Tarot cards. I went looking for the deck I’d seen in the film as soon as I had enough allowance money collected to buy it, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. I settled for the Aquarian Tarot instead. That’s been my goto deck for decades now. This Dali deck looks like a gem. And it’s got an oblique attachemnt to one of my favorite obsessions, which makes me want it even more.

This guy has written a static tumblelog generator. I’m so interested in this. Maybe its a function of being old enough to remember the pre-GAFA internet, but the idea of a home-brewed, bespoke, microblog disconnected from the larger social bullshit factory really appeals to me. I’m not a coder by any stretch, but I can work within a simple framework that is well documented. I would very much like to find the time to dig into this.

million short is a search engine that allows you to remove the first 100 or more sites from your search results. This has the effect of filtering out the wall of heavily SEO’d buckshot that fills up the first couple pages of results no matter what you’re searching for. It’s got some buttons to completely remove e-commerce sites and the like as well.

@visakanv’s blog looks really promising to me. This tiny post alone hits at the heart of what I’ve been thinking for a while now, but have been struggling to express.

OMFG I need to poke around here. First, I don’t even know what are.na is. Second, seriously OMG.

Lots of the links I just posted come with an industrial-sized hat-tip to what is rapidly becomming one of my favorite places on the internet: Kicks Condor

https://instagram.com/lifeasillustrated is just plain beautiful.

Fraidycat has definitely piqued my interest. If this is real and if it does everything it promises, then its wish-fulfillment for me. This quote echoes my sentiments pretty succinctly.

“We traded all these glorious personal websites in for a handful of shitty networks that everyone hates. So using Fraidycat is actually a nice breath of somewhat non-shitty air, because you can follow people on all of those networks without needing to immerse yourself in their awfulness.

I wish there was more pressure on these sites to offer some kind of API or syndication. But it’s just abyssmal—it’s a kind of Dark Ages out there for this kind of thing. But I think that tools like this can help apply pressure on sites. I mean imagine if everyone started using ‘reader-like’ tools—this would further development down the RSS road.”

I’m actually not 100% sure if this is real, or if its a satirical bit of performance art, but if it is real then it makes me happy.

Behold. A Monday morning wild-yeast, sourdough reminder that despite what the media is telling you, all is not misery and ashes. There is still beauty, and wonder, and joy in this world. You can still make small miracles from a few simple things. Take some time for yourself today. Silence your feeds and do something that makes you happy for a few minutes. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

Here’s another fantastic episode of Sean Carroll’s reliably fascinating Mindscape podcast, featuring Cory Doctorow. Doctorow is incredibly good at distilling huge ideas down to clear, concise language. And he does a very good job of explaining the structual probelms presented by technology without being hand-wavy or overly angry. There’s a lot to be said for a level headed discussion of how algorithm-driven platforms work, where they come from, and why they are troublesome. He calls the current state of the internet “5 big websites showing pictures from the other 4”. That’s a brilliant distillation of how the promise of the early web has been hobbled, and converted into a factory farm for a small group of corporations. However, he also points out that the tools to return the web to its diverse glory still exist as does the desire. Just knowing that makes the present and near-future dystopian predicament seem less intractable, and possibly even solveable.

Here’s some of his recent fiction. Affordances is a quick read that revolves around AI, algorithmic platforms, and how they can be passionless and structurally discriminatory, while still retaining the capacity to be manipulated for both good and bad. It’s part of a Slate’s Future Tense channel which is also worth a look.

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I’ve got a pretty well developed Field Notes addiction. I just ordered the Autumn Trilogybecause I can’t help myself. 

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Starlink is coming. I love Elon. He’s like the modern equivalent of Tesla to the rest of the tech industry’s Edison. He’s got this big-vision, utopian, mad-science vibe that I find both entertaining and endearing. I don’t know if its true or not, but I always have the sense that his first passion is the idea rather than how it can be monetized. Its a subtle difference but, if true, an important one.

Ever just sit there and scroll through social media on your phone? I do. My usual habit is Instagram, although I also dabble in Twitter. I deleted my Facebook account a while back, but that has a distinctly shoveling-shit-against-the-tide feel to it. It’s hard to resist the attention machine. The unlimited brute force of the unregulated free market powers it’s dark engines, and much like the twin inevitabilities of death and taxes, we as mere humans are helpless before it’s always opened maw. It’s a force of nature.

The thing is, when you’re in the jaws of the attention machine, you are a hole in the universe. Your actual contribution life, and to the world you inhabit drops to zero. You become a small version of the great maw, an consumer of image and text. Like a coma-patient, your agency in the universe shrinks to clicks, swipes, and taps. This is not active behavior. It’s passive hypnosis. If the wake of your deeds leaves a mark on the world, then when you are scrolling through feeds you are invisible to everyone but the algorithms that hunt you. Your wake is reduced too a path for advertisers to follow, your status is basically prey.

Accepting that role is a choice. The same devices that give you the feeds can be used to make things. You just have to actively choose to do it. It’s easier to scroll, but scrolling is obliterating you.

We are human. The forces arrayed against our wills in this case are staggeringly large, and formidably well-funded. But despite all of that the ultimate power is in our individual hands. Active participation is a choice. It’s your choice. Do something.

Good news is hard to find these days. So here’s something to take your mind off of the fear and outrage for a moment.

Good News Sourdough

Good News sourdough bread. 60% King Arthur bread flour, 20% Central Milling Organic Bakers Plus, 10% Central Milling Type 85 Wheat flour, 10% Central Milling High Mountain High Gluten flour.

My house smells like good news this morning.