The Cruelty is the Point

If you are an ambitious Republican, the way to win a primary, the way to win office, is to be seen being ritualistically cruel in some way to one of these communities that conservatives are fixated on and to have that covered by FOX News who will then rave about what a true conservative you are.

This act of public cruelty is something that draws lines of community around one group of people and excludes another group of people in a way that really forms a relationship between a leader and the people he’s seeking to represent.

This is something primal in human nature. You think back to adolescence when there’s a kid who, he’s a little nerdy or he gets left out of the group and gets made fun of, and there are other kids who will pick on that kid just to show they are one of the other kids, one of the cool kids, one of the group.

This is something that’s in human nature that Trump elevated to a level of political virtue or a political principle.

Adam Serwer (wnycstudios.org/takeaway)

Tinnitus

That cat has tinnitus.

It’s pronounced TIN-ni-tus because it is persistent tones heard in the ear when no environmental sounds are present. It’s not pronounced tin-NYE-tus because, if it were, your tin would be inflamed.

Tin smelters (Or cats. -ed.) can have tin-NYE-tus. The rest of us have TIN-ni-tus.

There is no known treatment for tinnitus. There are methods to train yourself to ignore it, and there are ways to masque it, but the ringing is something you learn to live with one way or another. People will try to sell you on treatments. My advice is to save your money.

The trick is to train yourself not to listen to the sounds the tinnitus makes. After as many years as I’ve suffered with this I think I can say pretty authoritatively that not listening to it, reducing it’s importance, even meditating on it to become one with it, is how to cope with it. I definitely don’t listen to it.

Rainymood or some other white noise generator works best when the tinnitus gets painful or impossible to ignore. I’m particularly fond of the sound of the warp engines from Star Trek the Next Generation. There are several multi hour versions of the sounds on YouTube.

reddit, reddit

My tinnitus is basically a ringing that seems to constantly vary in strength and pitch and be in varying tones simultaneously. It fluctuates from day to day, hour to hour. It is the sound of buzzing or ringing. I can hear my heartbeat in it. It seems to reflect environmental noise, so loud places are intolerable for long periods. Ear plugs are a godsend when hyperacusis sets in.

reddit

Hyperacusis

Hyperacusis is basically an audio migraine. All sounds, even quiet sounds, can be painful. Wearing earplugs is about the only way to deal with it successfully and ear plugs can aggravate other types of tinnitus. Hyperacusis can be so bad that the sound of your own breathing can set it off.

Hyperacusis should wind down like the more traditional migraine does. They don’t know what causes any of the things they call migraines, and that is the biggest problem with them. Some part of the brain is misinterpreting the signals that it’s receiving and you get audio problems, vision problems, skin sensitivity problems or vertigo.

I wonder what the more modern epilepsy treatments would do for it?

Sudden Brief Unilateral Tapering Tinnitus (Otology & Neurotology)

SBUTTs are benign and common among most people. I’m still looking at the literature on the subject, but I see little to be concerned about in it even if it occurs frequently.

I get these at weird times. Possibly more frequently than I did before, but also possibly not. I haven’t noticed that they are linked to spells of vertigo or hearing loss myself, although the sudden spikes that disappear do make me worry about an attack. The worry is probably more of a concern than the SBUTT should be. Worry and street go hand in hand and stress is a major trigger.

reddit

American Tinnitus Association

If you run the slider up and down on this Tone Generator you can find which specific tones that you can or cannot hear. I get a distinct doppler effect as the tone pass through ranges that I can’t hear in one ear or the other. Bit of a freaky experience.

If you want to understand what the effects of hearing loss or tinnitus sounds like to others, hear-it.org has a list of sound files that approximates them. I can’t judge the accuracy since I can’t hear them normally anyway.

reddit

A hodgepodge of comments spliced together from numerous places over the span of a decade. Steven Novella inspired this being posted today with his pithy comment about the pronunciation of tinnitus in yesterday’s episode of the SGU. Since I mispronounce this word frequently myself, I decided to riff on the subject. Featured image.

Otologist, Neurotologist, Otolaryngologist, ENT

There is a lot of confusion about what doctor someone who thinks they have Meniere’s should see. I see this fight go on all the time and it is tiring to witness it happening over and over again, not to mention the wasted time and energy involved in multiple people arguing over and over about something that is easily proven by simply Googling the subject.

The specialist you want to see is called an Otolaryngologist. Most people call them ENTs which is short for “ear, nose and throat” doctor, what the different latin syllables that make up the word otolaryngology mean.

To make things even more confusing, there are specialists of that specialization. An Otologist is also an ENT that specializes in the outer and middle ear. A Neurotologist is an ENT that specializes in the middle and inner ear. Most neurotologists are surgeons who do things like cochlear implants but some of them have regular medical practices. It’s confusing, which is why people say “go see an ENT” and don’t elaborate further on the subject. Most of them don’t know the difference, either. They just know that they either like or dislike their ENT doctor and the experience that they’ve had.

Obviously you don’t want to go to someone who specializes in sleep disorders (probably also an otolaryngologist) or does cancer surgery in the throat (ditto) what you want is someone who works on the middle/inner ear if you’ve already been diagnosed with Meniere’s; and if you haven’t then the more general the generalized medical education the doctor has is probably fine as long as they are actually ENTs. What you need is someone who knows what tests to run to exclude what kinds of causes for the symptoms you are experiencing.

Here’s hoping that what you find out when you see your ENT doctor is that your symptoms are caused by something that is treatable. My fingers are crossed for you.

Featured image from Wikipedia, a beacon of light in the crushing darkness that is the internet. A h/t is owed to Pattywhack_the_bear whose intransigence on the subject of what specialist to see forced me to hone the point I was trying to make with my comments on this reddit thread. I did have to block her, but I also learned something from her. So congratz I guess?

Autumnal Equinox

Celebrate the autumn equinox, or Mabon, by harvesting your inner fruits of awareness and finding gratitude for the seeds that you have both reaped and sown. The good, the bad, and the ugly. All mistakes can become beautiful lessons that guide us toward the next step in our journey when we hold gratitude in our hearts.

rhythmsofplay.com

The Autumnal Equinox 2022 in the Northern Hemisphere was at 8:03 PM tonight. I’ve always thought that these annual astronomical events should be observed with some kind of ceremony that occurs at the time of the event.

Tonight we held a little ritual: lighting a candle, sharing the food, saying the words. It was nice to finally mark the equinox in a way that the event warranted. The ceremonial candle was a hurricane candle that we first lit during SnoVID. The panic-bought firelogs still in the box visible behind the fireplace glass are also a relic of that Texas tragedy.

We feasted on homemade spaghetti afterwards. It was a nice family affair. I offer my thanks to a local pagan that was willing to share a bit of their traditional ceremony with us.

The Wheel has once more turned, and the change of season begins.
What will be is. What was will be.
The Equinox is upon us, and the time to reflect, at hand.
All time comes together, here and now in this sacred space.
And I, but a moment in time, feel the change as I pass from one season to the next.

wicca.com
reddit.com

Constitutional Reverence

Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects.

…But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

Thomas Jefferson, 3rd US President (1743-1826)

h/t to Eric Buck

The reverence for the founders is at once misplaced and well earned. Any number of people could produce a better document now than they could then; what is a shame is that most of those people are not to be found in government.

Facebook

Choosing Leaders

Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.

Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2)

ChiCon 8 Day 5

With all of the masking we’ve been doing for the last three years I’ve begun to notice that there is something private and sensual about seeing other people’s lips. Or is it just me?

First panel of the day was What Does Justice Look Like? (Christine Amsden, Jean Bürlesk, Matt Mitrovich, Su J Sokol) The panelists all appeared to agree that criminal justice should look like restorative justice and not incarceration or revenge. I really can’t argue with that belief because it seems to be backed up by facts and experience.

Economic and social justice could best be achieved by simply establishing universal basic income (UBI). Once again, experience and evidence seems to suggest that it is the best way to address so many ills of the world and would go a long way towards saving society money since eliminating poverty with UBI would end most crime and address housing, food and healthcare problems. How do we fund it? Imagine that every moment in any life has an attached value that can be monetized and the individual paid some significant portion of that value. This is simply redefining what basic economic value is. An accounting trick that benefits us all. That’s my interpretation of the problem, anyway. Most people including the panelists seem to be caught up in the delusion of money.

How do we achieve this new justice? Talk. Consensus. Action.


My second panel of the day was Viewing the 2024 Total Solar Eclipse (David Stokes, Jack Glassman, Randall Roman, Vanessa MacLaren-Wray) I’ve had the date noted as a scheduled post on the blog for a few years now. I need ideas and text to populate that blog entry, ergo my interest in this panel. Eclipses happen because of Syzygy: the nearly straight-line configuration of three celestial bodies (such as the sun, moon, and earth during a solar or lunar eclipse) in a gravitational system. This happens approximately twice a month. We don’t get eclipses twice monthly because the Earth, Moon, Sun system don’t quite line up, which leads to a lot of missed eclipses.

High ultraviolet and infrared light during low visible light portions of a partial eclipse is why you shouldn’t look directly at the sun without protection; at least until totality is achieved. Then you can look directly at it. Your pain sensors in your eyes protect you from overexposing and destroying your retinas during normal sunlight, however you can blind yourself by looking at a partial eclipse without ever feeling any pain.

So wear those protective lenses. There is a list of approved vendors on the American Astronomical Society website. One of the panelists had a handful of Rainbow Symphony give away glasses to pass out, the same kind of glasses that he hands out at eclipse events while performing his duties as a professor. He teased us with an image of the Coronado personal solar telescope. I’d still rather have a regular telescope and I’ll use the sun filters that come with one of those to look at the sun. A twofer.

There will be an annular eclipse in mid-October 2023, a preview of the total eclipse that will happen 177 days later in April of 2024. If you go to Albuquerque to see it you can ride in a balloon at the balloon festival and witness it, if that is your kind of thing.


The Wife and I broke down her art show display and packed it up for transport back to Austin. Very little art going back with us, which is the kind of thing you want to happen when you bring art to sell at a convention. We aren’t going to break even on this trip but we did sell enough to cover part of the costs at least.

After I finished lugging all the art back up to the room, I popped in to catch the last half of What Is Our Climate Future? (Angeli Primlani, Eli K.P. William, Mike Fortner, Vincent Docherty) I don’t know what was talked about before I got there but they seemed to be hung up on why mass transit sucks so bad in the US when it clearly works pretty much everywhere else in the world. I can answer that question. Social norms dictate structural development. Japan has better mass transit because social norms value the collective in ways that do not occur in the West and certainly don’t occur in the US, not even in the largest cities. If we want to limit climate change by getting away from individual car travel we are going to have to change social norms in the US. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that subject. Better to hope that auto-drive becomes a thing and that we can convince everyone to value shared resources like public vehicle transport. It’s a dream I have.

I discussed one of the subjects near and dear to my heart with one of the panelists as we walked down the hall. I may have to embroider the catalyst that I had in mind for one of the stories that I’m eternally working on.


Then it was closing ceremony time. The guest of honor for ChiCon 8 was originally going to be Erle Korshak. He died a year ago in August. None of us would be attending WorldCons today if it hadn’t been for the contributions of Erle Korshak. The convention became the open annual event that it is because he and the other early founders of speculative fiction fandom rebounded from the first convention in New York city and set about creating a repeating event that has continued until this day. Thank you Erle. We are all in your debt.

Steven Barnes and his wife Tananarive Due were tapped as Guests of Honor after Erle passed. I have read quite a few books of his that he co-authored with Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. Their podcast is at lifewritingpodcast.com. The Glasgow gimlet won best drink. Royal Manticorian Navy won best party. That’s it. The show’s over. Hope to see everyone in Glasgow in two years.

ChiCon 8 Day 4

Wind and light rain all day today in the Windy City, so Sunday morning was spent shopping in the dealer’s room. What I have learned over the many cons that I have attended is that parties and the dealer’s room are beasts of the same color. The less time spent near them the better off you will be. I’ve also discovered that if I don’t buy gifts for the women in my life while near a dealer’s room then I will regret ever being born until the next time I’m near one. So I decided to hazard a few minutes and a few dollars in exchange for future familial harmony.

While there I ran across Stonekettle again. As we sat briefly talking over the finer points of Presidential theft of classified documents, a handful of my fellow minions wandered up alongside me to bask in his presence. One of them just happened to be Brenda Cooper (Yes, that Brenda Cooper) I recognized the name from Building Harlequin’s Moon. I don’t think there is a Larry Niven book out there that I haven’t read. On my way to my first panel of the day I just happened to share an escalator with David Gerrold (yes, that David Gerrold) a truly weird random circumstance since I had just been listening to how Bob of B Cubed Press (the table where I found Stonekettle) was working with David on writing a novel in which Stonekettle was a character. Just another day at a WorldCon.

The panel I eventually ended up at was The Art of Eric Wilkerson. He played this Alan Watts speech as his advice for artists and creatives who think they can’t pursue whatever it is that they have a passion for:

Alan Watts – What do you desire?

I like this quote too:

The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.

Alan Watts

Although that one could easily be seen as being in contention with the message in what do you desire?

Then we rolled into the Remembering Nichelle Nichols (C. Taylor-Butler, David Gerrold, Tananarive Due) panel. Rather than write more about that subject here I will simply link to my previous article:

The panelists referred back to the documentary that I reviewed in that piece many times. This was another airmeet.com event which means that if you paid to attend the convention you should have access to the video stream for the month of September.

As day four came to a close I realized that I’m not a spring chicken anymore. Even at the slow pace that I’ve set for myself at this event, I am completely zapped and it’s not even 8 pm as I type this. Off to bed soon unless the Wife drags me out to the parties again tonight.

ChiCon 8 Day 3

Decaf today. It’s a good thing I’m planning on walking around outside this morning, I need to decompress. Unfortunately the architectural walking tour was a bust, poor communication between the convention planners and the museum that schedules the tours. We made up our own walking tour. We walked down the river to the lake front and then along the lake to Randolph and back uptown to the Cloud Gate. Then home to the hotel. It was a fun adventure in spite of the planning failure.

Today was mostly a rest day con-wise. I sat in on Using SFF for Science Communication (Annalee Newitz, Gretchen McCulloch, Jack Glassman, Leadie Jo Flowers) reference was made to Devs by the creator of Ex Machina. I’ll have to check it out along with the book Timescape. New concept learned today: repressive desublimation. Try to work that into a 15 second reference clip that can be summoned like a meme of Vogon poetry. Not doing that today. New podcast to check out: Lingthusiasm. Then the Wife and I went to see the entrants for the masquerade before turning in early. We had plans to go see John Scalzi DJ but just couldn’t find the energy to party. Early morning again tomorrow.

ChiCon 8 Day 2

Coffee for the second morning in a row. I think I may be pushing my caffeine limit. First panel was Technological Solutions to Environmental Problems (Claire McCague, Jill Engel-Cox, Karl Schroeder, Leadie Jo Flowers, Leon Perniciaro) I think the thing to avoid is screwing up the world worse than it is now by trying to fix it, al la The Colony or Snow Piercer (what does it say about us that we worry more about freezing to death than we do about frying? See Ministry for the Future for that scenario. My earliest memory of climate catastrophe scenarios was Silent Running. Not quite the same thing) A sun shade at Lagrange 1? In the scheme of things, that’s not as far fetched an idea as you might think. At the very least we’re going to need taller sea walls. Nine feet of ocean rise is already in the cards. We’re just waiting for the warming to catch up to the CO2 levels now.

BBC EarthThe Future Of The Oceans | Blue Planet II – Dec 10, 2017 (a suggestion from a fellow attendee)

The real thinker on the panel was Leadie Jo Flowers, in my opinion. Her idea is to get the next generation thinking in terms of doable scenarios, not overwhelming them with the hopelessness of an unavoidable dystopian future. Her education coordination website isn’t online yet, but it would be a worthy effort that I would devote some of my time to if it ever comes to fruition. (I think she said it would be called what if) Recommended reading from the panel:

A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet by Sarah Jaquette Ray

Waiting for collective efforts to manifest is probably a fruitless endeavor. It will take individual effort combined with government subsidy when they finally come online to get the majority of people to move in the right direction. In the end, the electric car will sell itself because it’s just a better car. I’ve owned one for nearly ten years already and I want a second one.

The next panel in the room I was already in at that time was for:

Inventor of the Future: The Visionary Life of Buckminster Fuller by Alec Nevala-Lee 

Cult leader, conman, self promoter. He even designed a car, the Dymaxion. When it crashed and killed someone, he invented a story for why that happened that didn’t include the top-heavy design of the vehicle itself. He is the influence behind innumerable tech personalities whether they know this fact about themselves or not. Norman Foster was the architect who worked with Fuller, who had no formal education or licensure in architecture. Fullerene, the carbon Bucky ball, is probably one of the main reasons that people still encounter the name Buckminster Fuller.

I had an idea for standing seam triangular dome panels to prefabricate the geodesic domes with while I was listening to this talk. Not sure if that would help with the drainage problems, though. You still have corners all over the place that will trap and probably wick water into the structure. I’ve always been fascinated with Buckminster Fuller, like most people who stumble across the man’s legacy. It’s hard not to be, and that was by his design.

Then it was off to Yoga and Juicing Isn’t Fixing This (A. L. Kaplan, Amy Henrie Gillett, D. H. Timpko) a panel about coping with chronic illness. I write about the subject so often here that I felt I ought to at least pop my head in the room and see what was happening. People writing about their disabilities on their own websites is apparently a rare thing. Not a single person in the disability panel did what I do with this blog. I always knew I was weird. Giving yourself room to be sick in, while also striving to at least get out of bed and do something each day. Lessons I had already learned in the years I’ve been fighting chronic illness. The fact that I’m here at all is a testament to that.

I shook Stonekettle’s hand in the dealer’s room today. That would be my trip to Worldcon completed now. There were more panels to attend anyway after I had ravaged a few more portals in Ingress Prime. The Resistance rules the Worldcon portals. I missed the meetup for Ingress players today, but I did complete the mission for the convention on Tuesday, two days before the convention started. Yay me.

I had heard part of the discussion held for Science in Science Fiction Shows: The Good, The Bad, and the Amusing (Catherine Asaro) and the moderator didn’t venture into Discovery’s magic mushroom land so I had very little to say on the subject. I did manage not to get drunk at the bid parties tonight. That would be a first for me at a Worldcon. Goodnight all.