Category Archives: The kairos made me do it

That time I started a true crime podcast

Episode 1

Me, introducing a true crime podcast: he has done it before, more times than you can count, a crime so blatant and callous that it boggles the mind. yet, he still walks among us as a free man, unbothered & unpunished for his vile deeds. I am of course talking about the Jaywalker
Cohost, interjecting: uhm, jaywalking isn’t actually illegal, you’re just supposed to not do it by virtue of it being a really bad idea because of the danger to life & limb
Me, crisis managing: I can sense the premise for this episode falling apart as we speak

Me, introducing episode 2 which is now episode 1: the law is clear, and has been for thousands of years. Yet, he persists, and is preparing to break it again even now. this week, he will not rest on sabbath day
Cohost, sighing: also not illegal
Me: there is a trend emerging here

Me, introducing episode 3 which is now episode 1: contracts are-
Cohost, clearly in psychic pain: the fact that minors legally cannot enter into contracts, and thus are not allowed to buy things in stores, is an edge case and does not count as a crime
Me: how did you know

Me, introducing episode 4 which is now episode 1: as organizations grow bigger and more complex, power & influence tends to gather in small groups of people, regardless of how democratic the organization is initially
Cohost: the iron law of oligarchy is not a real law
Me: gosh darnit

Me, introducing episode 5 which is now episode 1: it is a demographic oddity that population density in countries trends towards one really big city, a few medium sized ones, and lots of smaller settlements
Cohost: power law distributions are a math thing
Me: could’ve fooled me

Me, introducing episode 6 which is now episode 1: Vriska did no-
Cohost: Vriska is a fictional character, and as such is not bound by laws other than grammatical. Only physical & legal persons are so bound, and thus able to commit crimes
Me: that’s what I was going to say

Me, introducing episode 7 which is now episode 1: in this episode
Cohost: if this is about the dril tweet about facing god and walking backwards into hell, then I swear to
Me: hello and welcome to episode 8, which is now episode 1
Cohost: buddy,
Me: …yeah, you got me

Me, introducing episode 9 which is now episode 1: as we all know, the vaccines gave us 5G superpowers, which allows us to download podcast episodes on the fly, and lift spoons through magnetism
Cohost: where is this going
Me: it’s a crime we didn’t get them sooner
Cohost: true

Me, introducing episode 10 which is now episode 1: they live in a legal gray zone, in the juridical inbetween, in the unclaimed no man’s land where the law has yet to make itself known
Cohost: that’s not what ‘paralegal’ means
Me: this kills my puns about parallel parking semis

An ode to furniture

The world has become more and more untrustworthy. All that is solid melts into air, every certainty is replaced with doubt, and even the very ground beneath our feet seems to shake with ever increasing regularity. Old truths become new lies, old virtues become new vices, old habits become burdens. Nothing lasts, and there seems to be nothing we can do about it

I am here to tell you that there is in fact something we can do, and that we can do it every day, often without thinking. In fact, the less we think about it, the more effective it is. if you are unconscious, you are doing it right

I am of course talking about our friendly life companions, furniture. The economy waxes and wanes, but a robust wardrobe will gladly contain clothes for every weather or situation. Trust is a fickle feature of our friends, but a good solid chair will keep you upright in every situation. Inspiration never sticks around for long, but a sturdy table will allow you to get the work done no matter what. And, let’s not kid ourselves, no one ever said that one of the most notable characteristic features of love is its propensity to last forever, but a high quality bed will last you through conscious and unconscious nights both

In short, furniture is the safe bet whatever you happen to be up to. Or down for. Whatever your preferred preposition, furniture is your friend, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. It is, in fact, the only thing we can predict with any certainty whatsoever

Triple-A games and beyond

Bringing your A game: efforting to your fullest, being the best you can be, really putting in the work to get it done; the maximum performance of one singular individual

Bringing your AA game: the result of a small friend group or neighborhood community coming together to get something done; the maximum performance of a small collection of individuals

Bringing your AAA game: the result of a big corporation focusing a non-trivial portion of its budget upon getting it done; the maximum performance of a large number of people with access to significant resources

Bringing your AAAA game: the result of an entire continent directing its attention to getting something done, Manhattan project style; the maximum performance of millions of people with access to entire supply chains’ worth of resources

Bringing your AAAAA game: a planet honing in on a task and buckling down to accomplish it at scale; the maximum performance of billions of people with access to planetary scale resources

Bringing your AAAAAA game: an entire solar system devoted towards a singular task, harnessing the remaining heat of the big bang to get it done

Bringing your AAAAAAA game: a local stellar group united by a single vision to perform a (1) thing at scale

Bringing your AAAAAAAA game: a galaxy, sprawling across light year after light year of stars and planets, whose inhabitants are all aligned and pointed towards a unified vision

Bringing your AAAAAAAAA game: a series of galaxies cranking out paperclips for the betterment of the universe, which shall in time become paperclip

Bringing your AAAAAAAAAA game: OUR HANDS HELD THEIR CHAINS. OUR MOUTHS SANG THEIR FATES. OUR MINDS, THEIR GODS

When the mood strikes (vending machine edition)

The mystery vending machine had become even more mysterious. For years, it had served up cans of obscure, foreign or (at times) discontinued brands of soda to those brave enough to insert a coin into it. No one knew where the money went, who refilled the machine or from whence the outlandish soda cans came, but nevertheless it had been a reliable source of unexpected delights for those in the know. The mystery machine had a small cult following who mostly accepted its gifts in grateful equanimity, keeping a lid on the enigma so as to not overburden their unknown benefactors. A few sought to discover who was behind this elusive dispensary of Eleusinian mysteries, but to no avail; not even the most donut-saturated of stakeouts revealed anything. One time, a vending enthusiast received a bog standard can of Coke, to much concern and consternation among those in the know

All this was accepted as the natural order of things until the mystery intensified. One morn, instead of the usual seemingly random can of pop, something completely different emerged from the unknown interior of the machine. It was, suitably enough, a paradox, something both rectangular and circular, a squared circle of confoundment. What the machine ejected on that morn was nothing else but a CD with mood music from 1997. Subsequent attempts at purchasing a refreshing can resulted in even more mood music CDs, featuring an abundance of pan flutes, wind chimes and no fewer than five different whales. At length, the machine ran out of these blasts from a very specific past, and returned to its usual programming of vaguely Slavic brands, Trocaderos and the occasional crystal Pepsi

Planetary-sized data

It was, at the heart of it, a computational problem. There are only so many variations of people, and in principle it should be possible to divide them into categories. Any such categorization would be a step up in efficiency from approaching each and every person individually, and given the sheer size of the aspirational megacompany, any gain in efficiency would rake in more money than any one person could reasonably comprehend. Whether the categories were based on anything substantial could be argued to be beside the point; the system only needed to work better than the one currently in use. Thus, the hunt was on

They did everything. Mined the data, crunched the numbers, algorithmed the search turbines. Every possible and impossible permutation of pattern recognition (and a very physical kitchen sink) were thrown at the wall, in an effort to see what might potentially stick. At the end of these exhaustive and exhausting efforts, they found something both surprising and inevitable

The one system of classification that turned out to fit the bill was astrology. Moreover, it performed with such accuracy that it blew the previous system quite out of the water. Knowing the precise contours of how a Scorpio reacted after getting in a row with a Virgo – a dangerous proposition if there ever was one – could produce suggested purchases and related search results with frightening efficacy. Add in the relative position of the houses, and the big data fix was in

The only problem was that they could not come straight out and say it. Instead, they had to launder it through such an extensive amount of AI technobabble that even the script writers of Star Trek had to admit defeat. Given that the ROI on shifting to this new and improved categorical scheme went through the roof, it was a small price to pay

The virtues of living memory

He’d done it. Through some magic, trickery or incredibly advanced scientific shenanigans, he’d done it. He was now transported back in time, and could finally find out about all those ancient mysteries that had so eluded the present. Thus so transported, he set to work uncovering these mysteries. First among them being: what was Aristotle really like?

Asking around, his first discovery was that the modern education in ancient Greek was sorely lacking. His second discovery was that Aristotle was not held in as high regard as he’d expected. Rather, he was something of a laughing stock. Sure, he got the general gist of things, but it was the least developed, most bare-bones version of social theory there ever was. In fact, the entire city of Athens was seen in the same light; the least among equals

This discovery did not sit well with him, so he did what any historian would do. He went to the source and verified. And lo, it turned out to be true. Everywhere he went, everyone he talked to, every observed social process confirmed the general impression that the democratic tradition was comparatively underdeveloped in Athens. However, since the culture of public oral speech was so refined and well-entrenched, the penchant of writing things down fell to the wayside. Why record events when everyone remembers it from yesterday’s deliberations? When in doubt, just ask

This certainly explained things, our historian traveler thought, just as whatever magic, trickery or shenanigans that brought him back now brought him forward again. He did not have a good time explaining his findings to his print-based colleagues

Random encounters

This particular street corner was known to her as a random encounter spot. Some of the random encounters could be explained through the powers of statistics and probability – the sheer number of people passing through every day meant that you were bound to meet someone unlikely every once in a while. Indeed, most encounters were highly familiar – some friend not seen in ages, that one guy from high school, a celebrity who took a wrong turn, and on occasion an ex to swiftly avoid. Other encounters, however, were outright spooky, such as when she found a fondly remembered childhood toy, staring intently at her with his epoxy eyes, just as he’d done all those years ago. She sometimes wondered if she should’ve picked him up, but the nature of the spot told her, again and again, that there were things best left as encounters

On the twelfth day

Matters have become exceedingly strange in these latter stages of the quarantine. Upon venturing into the seldom visited nooks and crannies of my domicile, I have chanced upon new and unfamiliar items previously unbeknownst to me. I described these peculiar new discoveries to my cohabitants, who did not recognize said items even as I laid out their aspects at great length. Mere moments later, upon conducting an ocular inspection of my exotic acquisitions, they made it known that a distant acquaintance, referred to colloquially as “aunt Martha”, had ceremoniously bestowed these peculiarities to our abode during the annual celebration of the birth of one member or another of the household. Heavily implied in this assertion was the fact that it was common knowledge that these objects had indeed been in place all along, and that the only confusion in these matters was caused by my overly ornate and quixotic verbiage on the subject matter. Perhaps, the smaller one of them concluded capriciously, we had – hypothetically, perchance, mayhaps – been “cooped up” in here ever so slightly too long, facilitating the initiation of a gradual decline of our (meaning my) mental capacities. This, if true, would be an exciting development indeed, for what could be more interesting and open-ended than the discovery of a brand new self to delve into and discover anew? I do so hope that the quarantine will find reason to be extended, allowing me further possibilities to extend these investigations. The truth, surely, is in here somewhere

Where conspiracies lead

Early on, the organization figured out that the single biggest predictor for if someone believed conspiracy theory x is whether or not they believe conspiracy theory y. There seemed to be a general propensity to believe in conspiracy theories in general, regardless of the specifics of any one theory. Mole people, black helicopters and the faked moon landing are all, somehow, of a piece

This presented something of a challenge to the recruitment office, who wanted to find a process to screen out the more dedicated theorists without also scaring off more grounded candidates. Initial attempts to ask about unrelated yet conspiracy-adjacent topics, so as to indirectly suss out whether the person had a propensity for such thinking, were called off after a rumor began circulating that one of the standard questions was related to aliens. That was not the particular kind of attention they needed at the time

At length, they figured that the best way to find out was to give the prospects an informal communal free lunch. Those whose conversational topics trended towards the conspiratorial could easily be identified, and those who were merely nervous about the possibility of being hired could be ushered towards that very possibility. The success rate was not 100%, but it more than made up for the cost of the free meals. Overall, it was one of the better counterconspiracies of the organization

The divine comedy of Kenneth

Kenneth
the frequency
what is it

Kenneth
we need it
the frequency

Kenneth
they have laser eyes now
like Jessica Jones
the frequency
hurry, please

Kenneth
they have begun acting out elaborately choreographed dances
we suspect it to be some sort of arcane ritual meant to consume the souls of those caught within
the frequency
we need it to escape

Kenneth
this is the end of the world as we know it
we’re really in the spotlight here
drive, drive, drive

KENNETH
THE FREQUENCY OPENED A LITERAL GATE TO HELL
NO, WE WILL NOT USE IT AS A POWER SOURCE
ONCE WE HAVE DEFEATED THESE DEMONS, WE WILL FIND YOU

KENNETH
THE SECOND FREQUENCY OPENED A SECOND GATE TO A DIMENSION CONSIDERED HELL BY THE DENIZENS OF THE DIMENSION WE CALL HELL
THE METAPHYSICAL IMPLICATIONS SCARE US MORE THAN THE ACTUAL PHYSICAL HELLSCAPE BEFORE US

Kenneth
your brilliant plan worked
by powering through successively worse iterations of hell, we finally hit a point where the Caelestial buffer overruns, and we have entered into the most exalted of heavens
you unstoppable, conceptual bastard