Doomscrolling.

I’ve never been hip on the latest terms or slang. I recently asked Jamie if he “dipped” when he did some gesture that involved bending and throwing his arms and shoulders to one side. He laughed at me because apparently it’s called “dabbing”. Wait, did he “dab”? “Daub”? Now I’m thinking about playing BINGO.

I subscribe to a couple of motivational newsletters that come out on a regular basis, and one of the newsletters talked about the concept of “Doomscrolling”. During these American times of the pandemic, the crap politics, and the planet falling apart, among many other things, the Internet has provided humans a way to infinitely scroll through their smart devices and search for bad news. We get a certain amount of a dopamine hit from social media in general, and this bad news gives us the same type of hit as good news. As long we’re getting that dopamine hit, we continue to scroll.

The issue is, all of this bad news is stressing us out. Because the bad news generates more clicks and swipes, which in turn increases ad revenue streams for the social media companies, said companies continue to algorithmically fling this type of news in our direction, basically turning social media into an “Outrage Industrial Complex”. We combat this Doomscrolling by adding to the noise, countering or repeating this bad news with our own digital screaming, hoping that we’ll change someone’s mind or make things better by yelling into the chamber of the Outrage Industrial Complex.

This is not the way the Internet was suppose to work.

Some time back I took all “infinite scrolling” apps off my smartphone. If I couldn’t get to the bottom of a web page, or the end of a social media stream, the app didn’t belong on my phone. About 10 years ago Apple took away the ability to directly send a tweet or a Facebook update without using the actual respective application away from iOS. Today, if you want to update your Facebook status or tweet something, you pretty much have to go into an application designed to suck you in with their Doomscrolling algorithms.

This is not nice.

For my 30 day self challenge in September I have resolved to look at Facebook for no longer than three minutes per day. I basically see what the blood relatives are up to, wish my the appropriate friends a happy birthday, and then I shut down my Facebook connection. And I do this from my computer, no mobile devices allowed. I still want to get rid of Facebook completely by the end of the year, but so many of my family and friends rely on the platform as their only interaction method I feel like I’m missing out on important milestones in their lives. I really miss the days of when folks maintained blog like this one right here, but those days are apparently long gone. I am grateful for those continuing to do this old fashioned blog thing.

Twitter is a little trickier for me. I use Twitter as a way to stay in touch with those I share a common interest, namely aviation, tech, and Star Trek. I’ve tried using a third party Twitter application like Tweetbot or Twitterrific but there’s two issues with these apps; like Twitter, they encourage infinite scrolling and Twitter has neutered their third party API to the point that you can barely glean what’s going on in the twitterverse if you’re not using the official application. My primary use of Twitter, aside from my dorky interactions with others, is to see breaking news and use that information as a catalyst to look elsewhere for more reliable sources. It kills me that users think anything of actual news comes across Twitter or Facebook. These streams may provide a hint as to what’s happening in the world, but it’s up to us to find a reliable source to confirm what we’re seeing on the streams as we’re doomscrolling through the latest round of woes.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m working on improving myself through some professional and other motivational newsletters and other mailings. These things inspire me. They’re not recipes, they’re seeds of ideas that we nurture to grow in ways we want them to grow.

I need to focus more on this and less of the doomscrolling through the “Outrage Industrial Complex”.

Happy scrolling!

Exploring.

My husband doesn’t mind when I go off the beaten path when we’re out on a ride exploring The Prairie State. Usually I stick to the county routes, but today we took a few township maintained roads. A couple of them lacked pavement; the Jeep Cherokee handles the gravel roads just fine.

We made our way through the Otter Creek Wind Farm in LaSalle County. A little bit of research online reveals that Otter Creek Wind Farm went online in March of this year. There are 42 Vesta turbines spread across 10,000 acres of land rented from 76 land owners. The 158 megawatt wind farm puts out enough electricity to power about 60,000 Illinois homes per year.

We stayed on township maintained roads and stayed off the private driveways that go up to the turbines. They’re quite similar to the ones we used to pass by in the North Country of Upstate New York. Underground lines from each turbine carry power to a centrally located substation. The substation is tied into power lines that have crossed this area for decades. This is a natural tie-in to the local grid.

I have always been fascinated by electricity and I’m encouraged by the renewable energy efforts in Illinois. Wind farms are especially prevalent, but we also have solar farms scattered across the prairie. I know some folks don’t like the turbines dotting the landscape, but they’re nearly silent and they harness a renewable resource to keep our ever growing list of electric-dependent devices working.

There are some encouraging aspects to the 21st century!

Entitlement.

There’s a lot of chatter on the airline and aircraft forums I follow on a daily basis around a woman who wrote a hateful, profanity laden, degrading note and handed it to the flight attendant as she deplaned after a recent flight. She was upset that she was asked to wear her mask over her nose.

I will not dignify the incident by posting the note here; it’s vile. 

Instead, here’s a photo of a woman in the Ukraine who was too hot sitting on a Boeing 737 and decided to do something about it.

Please note she popped one of the emergency exits open and decided to get a breath of fresh air. Ms. Pink Pants is banned from this airline for the rest of her life.

The tendency to say whatever we want to whomever we want on social media, usually with lessened social graces, has permeated into our normal interactions. Any sort of societal norm or contract seems to have been discarded. Folks are just doing what they want, where they want, and feel they can say whatever they want.

Another example of a society in decline.

When I say this, I’m occasionally reminded that not everyone is like this and this is absolutely true. The issue is one of two things, incidents like these are becoming entirely too commonplace or it’s become too easy to publicize asshattery like this. Either way, it’s still contributing to the decline of our society.

I’m often reminded of the passage from “Angels In America”:

Before life on Earth becomes finally merely impossible, it will, for a long time before, have become completely unbearable.

Privacy.

From John Gruber at Daring Fireball.

>This new ad from Apple touting iPhone privacy protection is good, and genuinely funny. But what makes it funny — the premise is a series of people loudly sharing in the real world the sort of information that gets unknowingly tracked online — is actually the perfect analogy to help explain how the tracking industry — what ought to be considered the privacy theft industry — has grown into existence.

Consider the new ad-tracking privacy protection feature in iOS 14. The tracking industry, led by Facebook, is up in arms about it — apparently such that Apple might delay enforcing it for a few more months, according to this report today by Alex Heath for The Information (paywalled, alas — here’s MacRumors’s summary). Heath’s report closes thus:

Branch CEO Alex Austin, whose company specializes in measuring the effectiveness of ads in mobile apps, called Apple’s proposed change to IDFA “unworkable for the app ecosystem.”

“Apple’s move has gone too far, disproportionately disrupting a vibrant app ecosystem by throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” he told The Information.

The entitlement of these fuckers is just off the charts. They have zero right, none, to the tracking they’ve been getting away with. We, as a society, have implicitly accepted it because we never really noticed it. You, the user, have no way of seeing it happen. Our brains are naturally attuned to detect and viscerally reject, with outrage and alarm, real-world intrusions into our privacy. Real-world marketers could never get away with tracking us like online marketers do.

Imagine if you were out shopping, went into a drug store, examined a few bottles of sunscreen, but left the store without purchasing anything. And then immediately a stranger approaches you with an offer for sunscreen. Such an encounter would trigger a fight or flight reaction — the needle on your innate creepometer would shoot right into the red. (Not to mention that if real-world tracking were like online tracking, you’d get the same creepy offer to buy sunscreen even if you just bought some. Tracking-based offers are both creepy, and, at times, annoyingly stupid.)

Or imagine if you found out that public billboards were taking photos of people who glance at them, logging those photos to a database, and using facial recognition to match them with photos taken at point-of-sale terminals in retail stores. That way, if, say, you were photographed looking at an ad for a soft drink, and later — hours, days, weeks — purchased that same soft drink, the billboard advertisement you glanced at hours, days, or weeks before could get “credit” for your purchase.

We wouldn’t tolerate it. But that’s basically how online ad tracking works.

The tracking industry is correct that iOS 14 users are going to overwhelmingly deny permission to track them. That’s not because Apple’s permission dialog is unnecessary scaring them — it’s because Apple’s permission dialog is accurately explaining what is going on in plain language, and it is repulsive. Apple’s dialog describes something no sane person would agree to because it is something no sane person would agree to.

Just because there is now a multi-billion dollar industry based on the abject betrayal of our privacy doesn’t mean the sociopaths who built it have any right whatsoever to continue getting away with it. They talk in circles but their argument boils down to entitlement: they think our privacy is theirs for the taking because they’ve been getting away with taking it without our knowledge, and it is valuable. No action Apple can take against the tracking industry is too strong.

Observation.

The closing of schools due to COVID-19 are not indicative of a failing society. The closing of schools resulting in unfed children or no one to watch the children is indicative of a failing society.

Man Size Love.

In the summer of 1986, freshly graduated from high school, I worked for the school district as a summer custodian. It was my second year with the gig; the first year I worked in the high school, the second year I worked in the elementary school. Because it was the school district, I made a little more than minimum wage with that job; I think I was making $4.00 an hour. I worked with a couple of other students from school and the normal custodial staff. It was a good little gig to make some money during the summer and I enjoyed it very much.

Because of my nerdy nature, the first thing I purchased with my first paycheck that summer was a “Boom Box” that ran on batteries. I think it took four “D” batteries and it would last maybe two hours before it was time to change the batteries again, but I would use it to record songs off the radio. The radio station of choice was 93Q out of Syracuse. Interestingly, the station lives on today.

One of the songs I recorded on my Yorx Boom Box was “Man Size Love” by Klymaxx. I found the song to be very singable but with the track being a very female oriented song and me being very not female and rather just peeking around the closet door at the time, I wasn’t about to let my family hear my belt out this song at the top of my voice. Though admittedly, I enjoyed singing the song very much and I did identify with the theme of the lyrics.

At the time I was driving a 1976 Pontiac Astre that was puke green. I had wired up a cassette deck, courtesy of one of my paychecks from the previous year. With a cassette tape fresh out of the Boombox with tracks recorded from 93Q, I drove alone in the “Dis-astre” along Route 177 about 25 miles from the house. It was there I cranked up “Man Size Love” by Klymaxx and sang it in full voice, along in my car. Looking back, that area of New York is probably the closest to the “snowy Alabama” mindset that’s a little rampant in those parts, so it’s pretty ironic that here I was, a young, gay man, peeking around the closet door, singing a song by a group of black women.

I remember pulling over, rewinding the tape, and singing the song again and feeling such happiness. It’s such a simple track but I found it so much fun to sing.

From 1986, here’s Klymaxx with “Man Size Love”.

Edit: I must really like this song, looking back this is the third time I’ve posted this video, and the second time in 2020. To be fair, this is the first time I’ve told the story around why I like this song so much.

Randomly.

I installed the latest beta version of iOS 14. I’m liking the improvements. It has some nice improvements. I’ve reported a few bugs. That’s the purpose of beta.

Determination.

I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. As I stared at the ceiling, occasionally turning over to see what time it was, I wondered how many other Americans are not sleeping well these days with all the stuff going on in the world. I could almost here a collective chaos.

When the alarm finally startled me awake; I must have fallen asleep at some point; I made a decision to try to make it a great day. Even though I was blurry eyed and trying to focus on the beginning of a Monday morning, I could make the best of it.

I was about 3/4 of the way along my morning walking route when a wasp stung me in the back of the head. It was loud and it was menacing and once it stung me and I swatted at it, it became angry and landed on my hand and made an attempt to sting me again. I yelled and danced around like a maniac before getting it away from me. The woman down street looked my way like the was some sort of maniac screaming and dancing in the middle of the street.

I was still determined to have a good day.

My work calendar was jammed with meetings today. They weren’t particularly intense meetings but there was more on my calendar than I like to have on a Monday.

The determination maintained, even after a quick cat nap during my lunch time.

Servers crashed shortly before the end of the day, luckily they were not servers under my direct care but quite a few people pinged me about the outage. It was handled. It was resolved.

I still had a good day.

Earl dialed up an LGBTQ+ themed indy movie called “Daddy” this evening, and we sat together in the living room watching this piece of art. There was a twist or two that I didn’t expect and it had that whole “we used a camcorder!” vibe to it, but I recognized some of the actors and it was well done.

It has been a good day.

Iteration.

25 years ago this week, Microsoft released Windows 95. I remember immediately upgrading from Microsoft Windows 3.11 to Windows 95; it required 13 floppy disks and a whole bunch of hoping and praying. I owned a 386SX/16 with 8MB of RAM at the time.

Still, Windows 95 was a good step in the evolution of personal computers.

People lined up in the streets to buy their copy of Windows 95. The Rolling Stones were paid millions of dollars from Microsoft so their song “Start Me Up” could be used to highlight the Windows 95 start button. Point and click. Plug and play. Exciting times. Technology was evolving and evolving at a very rapid pace.

We are now well into the 21st century but technology couldn’t be anymore boring. Windows 10 still behaves like Windows 95. Heck, it still has Windows 95 dialog boxes in some parts of the interface. What does Apple’s iOS 14 bring us? Widgets? Stop the presses and don’t look the other way; no, Android hasn’t been doing that since for a decade.

Technology has ceased evolving and become merely iterative.

Yes, we have moving buttons and widgets and gadgets and transparent menu bars. Who cares. What’s the next big thing? Is there a next big thing? Where’s the next big thing? Where’s the big advancement that doesn’t take us into the 20th century version 2.1?

Technology is frightfully boring.

I’m typing this blog entry on a 2015 MacBook Pro running Ubuntu Linux. One of the reasons I’m running Linux is because it can be something different. I can make my virtual desktop look and act like I’m on the Starship Enterprise, an old computer running OS/2 Warp, or I can run a desktop environment that is completely different from the Windows or Mac paradigms. People contributing to Linux are actually someone trying something new when writing code to power our computers. Apple just trounces out iteration after iteration of the same thing they introduced 13 years ago. Microsoft Windows is Microsoft Windows. “But you can’t take a photo of someone you don’t know from 15 feet away with the new lens only available on our ‘pro’ device!”. Who the hell cares. My father took pictures of people we didn’t know in 1979 with his Canon AE-1 and our lives aren’t any the richer for it.

The Fortune 500 tech companies have become boring, mundane, and pedestrian. Lean in? Let me take a nap.

As kludgy as it was, and it was wicked kludgy, Windows 95 moved us forward in the world of tech. When do we “Start Me Up” in the 21st century?