Mister Organ

This isn’t going to become a reviews site, but I want to place some kind of marker down when I finish a book, or a show, or a game, or some other media. I want to remind myself about what I’ve finished, or motivate myself¬†to¬†finish things.

If I don’t have some impressions from it worth recording and sharing, then why did I consume it in the first place?

So I’m not going to tell you all about Mister Organ, David Farrier‘s documentary about a single, frightening human. I’m just going to write some notes about what really stuck with me.

I don’t think I’m going to include enough context for people to understand what I’m talking about independently, so what I’m writing is likely to be irritating because it’s a mixture of (a) spoilers, and (b) impressions that won’t even make sense if you haven’t seen it.

Like I said: I’m not doing it to write “reviews”.

The most haunting person in the entire documentary was not Organ himself, it was Jillian. She’s never apart from Organ, she has no voice of her own. She’s a ghost, she’s haunted by her partner, or he’s haunted by her. If she breaks free of that grip somewhere down the line, it’ll be fascinating and probably tragic to hear her whole story.

The scenes where Farrier is trying to interview Organ’s family are similarly harrowing. The vibe really was “I cannot talk to you, and I can’t even be seen to be considering talking to you.”

I guess the last thing that’s sticking with me — and probably with you — is “Do I know someone like that?”

It’s relatable enough that a name lept to mind, but I think the worst people I know are, thankfully, awful in different ways.

My first COVID infection

My partner tested positive first, on Friday the 11th. Omicron is considered now to be one of the most infectious diseases in recorded history, but even so in a fully-vaccinated household we’ve heard plenty of examples of it not spreading completely. She sequestered herself in the spare bedroom and we opened all the windows and were generally paranoid.

Had I not actually caught it, that probably would have made for a perfectly miserable at-least-a-week-stuck-in-a-single room, but it was a moot point, because on Sunday morning (13 November) I tested positive with a throat/tonsil swabbed rapid antigen test. Our in-apartment isolation from each other ended.

Two things of note: (a) I was still completely asymptomatic, and (b) a nasal swab (the suggested technique) still showed negative, even though the throat swab was positive. That probably means we detected my infection absurdly early in the process. In fact, it wouldn’t be for two more days that I’d have symptoms strong enough that I wouldn’t just think they were my usual spring-time allergies.

The first RAT pictured is a nasal swab, the second RAT was a nasal, throat, and tonsil swab. If I hadn’t done the throat swab I may not have known I was infected for another two days.

My illness has been extremely mild, my symptoms have been:

  • allergy-like runny nose.
  • tired, and dizzy
  • mild fever (measured 38.2 at the highest) for a couple hours on a couple days
  • in the long-tail of the second week, I’ve had a nasty phlegmy cough

I’m one of the few people younger than 50 who were actually able to score a second booster shot (in late July), so that probably has helped with the mildness of the symptoms.

But what’s freaked me out a little bit is that I’m still testing positive on a RAT a full two weeks later. As I write this, on day 14 since my first positive test, for the first time the “positive” line is faint, but it’s still a clear and obvious positive.

My partner’s illness seems to have been significantly shorter and sharper. She had extremely painful achy joints and some miserable fever as well as all my symptoms, but she was testing completely clear after day eight.

I’m going into my third (and hopefully last) week of almost complete isolation. I’ve only left the house once to go for a solo walk along the beach, and had to nap afterwards for an hour. I want to be extremely careful about resting, which anecdotally seems to be a key factor in trying to avoid long covid.

Zeroeth Draft: Thoughts on Twitter

The following is one-pomodoro’s worth (a 25 minute timer) of brainstorming on what could later be a blog post on either Twitter, or free speech, or communities, or all of the above. But after writing it I’ve decided to publish it completely bare.

I’m doing this because it’s an interesting example of the “raw material” that I would hope to refine into “good” writing, but also to generally lower the standards of what’s acceptable so that I’m more likely to post more often.

Word-vomited out between 2.35pm and 3pm on Sunday 6 November.


Trying to write a post about what’s happening to Twitter would be a sucker’s game, the situation is changing — deteriorating — so rapidly that trying to get your thoughts ahead of it isn’t going to work.

The people who are making the most noise about “free speech” absolutely do not actually care about free speech, they care about their speech. The tell is in what speech they defend, and what speech they’re strangely silent about defending.

People complaining about a “lack” of free speech are actually complaining about the existence of “standards” of speech. It makes a bit more intuitive sense if you use the word “behaviour” instead. There are some behaviours that are illegal, and a huge amount of behaviour that is “free” (as in, “not illegal”).

However, “behaviours that are acceptable” is a much smaller subset than just the behaviours that are “not illegal”. The point is that it’s not up to “police” or “the law” to enforce those standards, it’s up to society. You can’t “do anything you want as long as it’s not illegal”, because the bar for what’s acceptable in society is higher than just “not illegal”.

A community is a group of people who have come together with a common interest, and a common set of standards. That set of standards is a narrower bar than just “anything that’s legal”, it has to fit with what the community is interested in, and the behaviours it wants to see.

This is what brings me back to moderated content on social media — no community can survive a complete lack of any standards of behaviour. Or, to rephrase: any community of people can be destroyed with the right application of entirely legal behaviours or entirely legal speech.

So if you want to keep a community, you have to set your standards at a bar higher than what is simply “legal”. And enforce them yourselves.

And so that’s exactly what we’re doing: we all agree that it’s not a government or a police force’s job to choose and enforce exactly what’s acceptable or unacceptable in society. That’s the part that we have to do ourselves.

People who are pretending to lose their minds over “cancel culture” are playing a clever game, they’re claiming it’s about losing their free speech, but it’s actually a much more democratic process than that — it’s a fight over what we consider acceptable or unacceptable in the broader set of legal activities in society.

There are a couple “memes” that explain this idea so much better than I can myself, there’s the parable about the barkeeper throwing out the Nazi to prevent his bar becoming a “Nazi Bar”, and there’s also the meme-image explaining that, if you say your community is welcome to both “sheep and wolves”, you’re actually just welcome to wolves.

If your community is open to both “assholes” and “people who don’t want to hang out with assholes” then, over time, your community will completely organically become a community of assholes.

Other essayists have made the excellent point that Twitter’s entire product was the content moderation. People for the most part hang out on Twitter because they can closely associate for the most part with the people they want to hang out with. If that weren’t true, you wouldn’t value it. And of course, it’s swung back and forth over time.

Twitter is about to take a big swing towards assholism. It’ll be there for a while, and Elon Musk will lose a gigantic amount of money. A lot of commentators have pointed out that there are ways he could improve things, but I think with the firing of half the staff, the ship has sailed on the ability to improve Twitter for the forseeable future.

Mike Masnick has a great piece on speedrunning all the lessons of moderating content on a social media site. If only Elon had moved slightly more deliberately and more slowly, he might have had a chance to learn some lessons, but he’s hamstrung himself so quickly that I don’t see much chance of the site changing direction from “straight down”, for some time yet.

Ending self-hosting

I’m not sure if I’ll regret this or not, but I’ve shut down my little WordPress docker container and moved the site to wordpress.com.

I’ve needed to decommission the EC2 instance running the site anyway, because I moved Secateur to a Graviton instance to save money, and the amd64 instance is just sitting there running this site, my git repositories, and basically just costing me money.

So this is a an experiment: I’ve moved some of the static sights I’ve been hosting to Netlify, and instead of moving the blog to Hugo, like I’ve been meaning to try, in the mean time I’m simply putting it in someone else’s hands.

Collins

Judith Collins’ bullshit is going to make this difficult.

I gave up on watching Judith Collins’ press conference, but she did a very interesting thing before I cut away. She snortingly dismissed postal voting as obviously a ridiculous idea as an alternative to moving the election.

That’s the official definition of “begging the question”. There’s actually nothing wrong with postal voting. But by demanding the election be moved because “OF COURSE” postal voting is ridiculous is pretending that we’ve all agreed that postal voting is ridiculous. We haven’t agreed on that at all.

It’s not “democratic” to delay an election, and voting by post is not “unsafe”. This has nothing to do with safety or democracy. Right now the opposition is losing, and if the election is delayed it buys them more time to turn it around.

Image insertion test

This is a test post to experiment with what seems to be buggy image handling in wordpress.

I uploaded this screenshot from my phone, and then cropped the image in wordpress. I then used gutenberg to insert the image at every available size into this post. As you can see not all of the images are the cropped one.

Thumbnail (correctly cropped)
Medium image (correctly cropped)
“large” image (why isn’t this one cropped?!
Full size (this one IS correctly cropped)