I know everything about Portland because I have been here for a week

So I understand why people like me like Portland, and part of it is that it really wants you to like it. It wants that so bad. It got itself a giant bookstore and really good pizza, and it rounded the edges off all the public iconography. It combined low but steady pedestrian traffic with worthwhile public transportation. It cleaned up the litter and slathered itself in wifi! It put flowers on its manhole covers just for you.

And the only real negative I’ve got to answer that is that it seems a hell of a lot like bait? I suppose that’s habitual post-hipster paranoia, but seriously, I’m waiting for the catch to spring. Maybe it’s just that if you live here you forget what black people look like. This place is whiter than a snow leopard eating ice cream off my butt.

Responses to my last post, saved from the feed:

Ben: “All this copyright nonsense gets worse, eventually spiralling into ‘The War on Information’.”

Josh: “Assuming that your parents are baby boomers, your parents’ generation were unique, the only generation in history to have been able to consume without responsibility. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that any future generation will have that opportunity.”

Kevan: “I’m not sure how bad a thing it necessarily is, but the next generation being able to dig through their parents’ online diaries and data shadows is going to be quite big and strange. Reading unguarded entries about what their parents really thought of you when you were young, stocking up on ‘if you did this when you were my age, why can’t I do it now?’ ammunition, and being able to stalk some of your crushes or bullying-targets all the way back to birth.”

Catherine: “Also, the increasing dichotomy between rural and urban cultures. People from, say, Seattle can be a mite uncomfortable in rural Georgia. People from, say, Atlanta are often a mite uncomfortable in rural Georgia.”

All thoughtful, all excellent. Catherine’s response is closest to my own worries: that we will allocate greater bandwidth to strident, divisive, polemical speech than to speech that crosses boundaries. I’m not arguing for censorship of radicalism here–my own brand of radicalism is specifically anti-censorship–but warning against the rapid propagation of our trust networks through people who will tell us only what we want to hear. When you can find a thousand people who agree with you more easily than you can find one dissenter, you are on the road to becoming an instrument.

Exhibit One: the semiotic gutting of phrases like “since 9/11”

I think it’s widely accepted that my parents’ generation, or at least quite a lot of them, participated in a sexual and chemical revolution that they enjoyed at the time without foreseeing its consequences–STDs, a wasteful drug war, the embourgeoisment of all their good music, and a lot of boring retrospective movies. Hideous design themes. The backswing of the Eighties. I could go on.

Not that there weren’t benefits, of course, and I’m glad I was born after they became widespread. I think I’m well-suited for my own generation’s information revolution. But is any revolution on this scale without cost? What are we not foreseeing?

This is going to seem unprovoked but go with it

Who the fuck sent me the creepy email with the talking monkey?

Update 2307 hrs: Ken did.

Since I arrived here, our IT department has used XStop software to filter the naughty bits out of our workday. The only way it really bothered me was that it blocked the Onion (but left the AV Club unfiltered). I got used to it.

This morning we got an email informing us that they’d switched to WebSense, which has already proven to block nearly all my favorite webcomics, the Onion and the AV Club, IMDB and basically anything they categorize as “Entertainment.”


I assume the guys who installed this software (at the behest of the legal department–liability, you know) have passwords that will let them read Megatokyo; I’m sure they also know that getting around this kind of thing is startlingly easy when one has one’s own website. Then again, is still listed as a webcomic in plenty of places. I wonder how long I’ll be able to keep tunneling out?

Update 1317 hrs: Oh, “Entertainment” has been unblocked. Cancel jihad, cancel jihad.

All the news is old news, all the news is bad news

Sony has resorted to the tactics of virus writers to stop people from listening to music. Paris is burning with frustration from the bottom up, and the response from the top is “zero tolerance.” And we, the United States–without public approval, without accountability, without even visibility–have been literally putting our prisoners in the gulag.

We are circling a black hole.


Further Keyhole obsession: I’ve finally proved to my satisfaction that New Circle Road in Lexington is not a circle, but a teardrop-shaped gob of snot headed southeast to Richmond.

For the record, I am SO WATCHING YOU.

Update 1040 hrs: I just spent like half a damn hour playing with this thing, flying all over Louisville and trying to figure out what looks like what from the air. I never properly understood how huge the (now-closed) Showcase Cinema parking lot was. Is. Also, if you get driving directions and superimpose them on the satellite images instead of the map? Things don’t quite line up, so to get anywhere it is apparently necessary to tear up a lot of lawns and drive directly down the median of the highway.

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