Arcturus

Jupiter is at opposition, rising at sunset, so bright that it looks like a smudge of fire, no longer a point but possibly a plump vastness at an immense distance. A few weeks ago I looked at it with my telescope (a birthday present from C) for the first time and saw the Galilean moons, and with great pleasure made laborious pen drawings of their positions over the next few nights. They are exquisitely tiny when seen through the telescope, compared with their fat sugar daddy.

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Jupiter is flanked to either side by the stars Porrima and Spica. After a few hours, when this trio has climbed up the eastern sky, they are followed by Arcturus, hanging directly below them. Some bright stars are red, or really pink, like Betelgeuse and Antares, and Aldebaran is yellow, but to my eyes Arcturus is a scintillating combination of orange and white. I first noticed it last winter: it is the brightest star in Boötes, a northern constellation, but not so far north that, like Polaris, it’s always invisible from Sydney. It’s really beautiful.

Getting favourite stars is something I do: last winter it was Antares. This has been a pretty bad year for my mental health and for my family, and I’m not really ready to blog about it yet, but looking at the stars is something I usually find comforting. Things are getting better, I think.

On Bullshit

Philosopher Harry Frankfurt, in his 2005 work On Bullshit, presents a definition of, and perhaps an example of, bullshit. Not to be outdone, noted vacuole Malcolm Gladwell, in his book Flapdoodle: Handy Pull Quotes for the Working Thinkpiece Writer, shows how you can have a successful career based on nothing at all, as long as your flapdoodle provides handy pull quotes for the working thinkpiece writer. Well-known pronunciation shibboleth Thomas Pinker, in his book How to Have Perhaps Even More Influence than Gladwell by Writing a Large Book which No-one has even Read, has conclusively demonstrated how to have perhaps even more influence than Gladwell by writing a large book which no-one has even read.

The reader, in her 2017 work Milking It: How I Got Sick of Blog Posts Which Flog One Idea to Death, may observe that she has grown sick of blog posts which flog one idea to death. The present author’s work in progress, The Use of a List of Imaginary Books as a Vehicle for Satire is an Established Literary Technique Dating Back to Rabelais (at Least), argues that, on the contrary, the use of a list of imaginary books a a vehicle for satire is an established literary technique dating back to Rabelais (at least).

He also admits that the abandoned draft of his blog post “An earnest and depressing argument that if the Trump administration shows anything, it is that the language of political journalism has become a desperate manipulation of clichés and idées reçues in a hopeless attempt to avoid dwelling on an atrocious reality” is an earnest and depressing argument that if the Trump administration shows anything, it is that the language of political journalism has become nothing but a desperate manipulation of clichés and idées reçues in a hopeless attempt to avoid dwelling on an atrocious reality. It’s not a fun read.

The deep state

The deep state never sleeps.

The deep state is in a perpetual struggle with the shallow state.

The deep state is in an uneasy truce with the pelagic state.

The deep state denies the existence of the abyssal state.

The deep state, like the imaginary politics of science fiction writers and futurists, is radically univocal. Unlike the state proper and the historical events in which the latter has its being, it is not subject to varying interpretations.

The deep state has its own calendar of deep state holidays. The observance of these is carried out in public but go unnoticed, parades of unmarked black SUVs blending with freeway traffic, gifts exchanged by dead drops in failing suburbs, tag phrases inserted into the speeches of dignitaries, composite virtual dinners which consist of the food items on scores of plates scattered around the globe.

The deep state lives in a mound of old Tom Clancy paperbacks.

Uttering the name of the deep state is a phatic speech act or magical ritual which reassures both the speaker and auditor that they are at least capable of pretending to have not been completely overwhelmed by political events.

Deep libertarianism denies the validity of the deep state and relies upon the power of the deep market, which is also known as Nature.

The deep state resents the distancing use of quotation marks. Every time it is referred to as ‘the “deep state”’ the name and station of the perpetrator is noted in a ledger by agents of the deep state.

The deep state, like certain gods, is immanent. No woman or man can know that their least gesture did not form a part of the deep state’s hidden intentions.

Auch du bist liberal

liberal

I don’t know the political context of this poster – “You, too, are liberal” – which I first saw in Lewis Blackwell’s Twentieth Century Type (1992) as an example of the Swiss International Style. But it’s been on my mind since last year. I could feel myself turning into the kind of lefty who has a comfortable job and kids and acts online like they start each day with a cup of smoking hot bourgeois liberal blood, which is one of the reasons I got off Twitter. I know that liberalism as a political philosophy is based on horrors which its own history has carefully airbrushed away, but I also know that personally I’d shit my pants if I was ever made to live in a political system which wasn’t liberal in the broader sense, which is easy for a white dude to say but it’s still true, and that it’s our job to reform it and to defend the parts worth keeping from the Right, to whom we’re all just one enemy. The poster is by Karl Gerstner, who passed away on the first of January this year, I just found out. It’s a brilliant design.

The other image that’s been on my mind is from Blue Velvet and is about how fucking uneasy the Shitposter-In-Chief makes me feel about my own compulsive use of Twitter-

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-even though I miss it like hell.

Two projects and an absence

My entry for NaNoGenMo 2016 is ANNALES, a procedurally-generated chronology of rulers, courtiers, tribes and intrigue:

Being a faithful narration of the history of the realm from the reign of Fobbial Artesia I to the present day

As transcribed by the algorithm annales-exe using the pseudo-random seed 1835917550 1 during the reign of Armey Engine III

“For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground / And tell sad stories of the death of kings”

Reign of Fobbial Artesia I the Unbridgeable.

Fobbial Artesia I, surnamed the Unbridgeable, won the throne by divination.

Fobbial Artesia I espoused Sidentilation with wild channession.

Rumours of morees in Wire Star.

3.FA.I

Fobbial Artesia I the Unbridgeable gave birth to a son, Lavaloman, under the influence of Kabdhilinan.

Rumours of rederes in Vectary Viroth.

The source code is here and I’ll be blogging a bit about the technical details on mikelynch.org when I get around to it.

I also got around to implementing my dumbest Twitter bot idea, @TVisoTropes.

I’ve been away from Twitter proper since the US election: my mental health has been poor this year, so I’ve had a couple of enforced absences, but the way I was reacting late stages of the campaign and Trump’s victory were pretty decisive in showing me that the way I’ve been using social media is really bad for my brain. I miss it a lot but I still don’t know how to return: maybe when my mood improves? Maybe I should start a new account and reset things?

Canberra – Cooma – South Coast

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Seems the new aesthetic for Canberra hotels is “auspol shitpost”, I got into it after a while

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Floriade

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I ran past the intersection of Polo Flat Road and Geebung St in Cooma, bit of a bush poetry reference going on here

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Cooma was very quiet but the pub had Kosciuszko Pale Ale on tap and the clouds were good

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Perisher was even quieter than Cooma, but they still had snow. Beard status: unpopular progressive album

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Tathra is really beautiful. “Imagine being in the snow then driving 300 km to a beach like this” -some Australians

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A wallaby and joey at Arugunnu in Mimosa Rocks National Park.

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I haven’t been to Mystery Bay since I was a kid, when I thought these rocks were petrified wood, which apparently they aren’t. The geological term for Mystery Bay is a ‘kink zone’ so I was probably too young for it at the time.

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It was surprisingly hard to find fresh oysters but driving to Pambula was worth it. There are some who would find oysters for morning tea, two days in a row, to be excessive, but they are weak.

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The fattest, fluffiest, laziest cat in the world lives at the heritage village of Central Tilba, where they also have great cheese and scones.

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The mouth of the Bega River at the north end of Tathra Beach.

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Silvery gibbon at Mogo Zoo. These are Indonesian animals but I think it’s picked up some gestures from the locals.

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Near Pretty Beach. I used to come on family holidays a few beaches north from here when I was a kid but never noticed how insanely lovely it is.

Terminal

This isn’t a culture war: although it’s become a long-exhausted joke, the phrase implies some kind of commitment to values above mere partisan loyalty. With the exception of a few idiots, the Liberals and the News Limited hacks are not fighting to impose their personal morality, or that of their own communities, on the rest of the electorate. (I’m sure Tony Abbott has not cut off social contact with his sister, as an earlier form of conservative would have done. Some of my best friends are, etc.)

This isn’t even about ideology, it’s about the end. Complete exhaustion of the ability to articulate a political program which is not about brutality. Battles which are not tactical moves but the clonic twitches in the limbs of an organism which has already undergone brain death.

It isn’t an accident that one of the focuses of this is the bullying of queer kids in school. It seems too obvious to put into words. If you grew up here, you know this. A political system whose only successful policy on either side is the torture of people who can’t vote either side out of office is reduced here to the elements at the core of white male Australian identity: indifference to suffering, contempt for difference, panic fear of tenderness, the schoolyard taunt. The last pathetic tatters to which an idiotic culture clings as it dissolves.

Don’t pay the journalists who peddle this stuff the compliment of reading them, and don’t link to or screen-cap their gibberish, even to mock at it. They’re well-paid careerists who’ve found comfortable posts in the dying print leviathans of the last century, like the bone-eating worms which mysteriously find their way to whale carcasses on the ocean floor. But look, even the worms have courage and perhaps even personalities.