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Midweek memes, part 3: The truth about so-called “cancel culture”

Screenshot of tweet: Berrak Sarikaya (@BerrakBiz): It’s only cancel culture if it originates in the Cancelle region of France. Otherwise, it’s just sparkling consequences.
Tap to see the original tweet.

And in case you need to be reminded:

Comic: xkcd’s “Free Speech”. “Public Service Announcement: The right to free speech means the government can}t arrest you for what you say. It doesn’t mean that anyone else has to listen to your bullshit or host you while you share it. The 1st amendment doesn’t shield you from criticism or consequences. If you’re yelled at, boycotted, have your show cancelled, or get banned from an internet community, your free speech rights aren’t being violated. It’s just that the people listening think you’re an asshole, and they’re showing you the door.”
“Free Speech” by xkcd. Tap to see the source.
Food It Happened to Me The More You Know...

Last night’s side dish: “Layogenic” curried cauliflower

For the next five weeks, I’m teaching an online Python class from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays. That means that on those days, I eat dinner a little earlier, which in turn means that I’ve got to have it prepped earlier.

Luckily, I have all sorts of tricks for this sort of schedule, one of which is the mid-afternoon veggie roast: Cut up some vegetables, drizzle with oil and seasonings, roast in the oven or turbo broiler for 45 minutes. It doesn’t take long to put together, and it doesn’t need to be attended to while in the over, allowing me to continue working.

Last night’s vegetable was a whole head of cauliflower in curry powder (I used Badia’s “Jamaican style” curry), truffle salt, and ghee.

While tasty, it doesn’t look pretty close up. It’s layogenic (pronounced “LIE-o-jennic”), a Filipino/English hybrid term that was BBC’s “Word of the Day” back in January. It means “attractive from a distance, but not close up,” — the “layo” part comes from the Filipino word for “far” or “distance”.

It Happened to Me The More You Know...

Cheapass handyman hint of the day: Yea, though I walk through the valley of hex-wrench shelving, I shall fear no assembly…

Photo: Allen key duct taped to a screwdriver, in my hand.

…for I studied physics, and I have duct tape.

Here’s the story: I was assembling a set of shelves for our front hallway, and I was having trouble driving in its screws with the allen key provided. So I duct-taped the allen key to a screwdriver, which provided the necessary torque to finish the job.

The Current Situation The More You Know...

Terrible People Tuesday, part three: Atlas Grifted (or: The Ayn Rand Institute took a government PPP handout)

Among the organizations to accept a loan from the government-run, taxpayer-funded Paycheck Protection Program (a.k.a. the PPP) is none other than the Ayn Rand Institute. These loans have an  ultra-low interest rate of 1% and mature over either 2 years (if issued before June 5, 2020) or 5 years (if issued after June 5, 2020).

Given that Rand herself was a rabidly anti-government, anti-social services, anti-altruism crank who nevertheless spent her twilight years on that government handout program called social security, the Ayn Rand Institute’s use of the PPP is actually on-brand.

Of course, the Ayn Rand Institute wouldn’t have done this without coming up with some kind of excuse, no matter how weak. Here it is:

“It would be a terrible injustice for pro-capitalists to step aside and leave the funds to those indifferent or actively hostile to capitalism,” Ayn Rand Institute board member Harry Binswanger argued in May, stating that the organization would “take any relief money offered us.”

Recommended viewing: All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace – Episode 1: Love and Power

I’ve joked that Ayn Rand’s novels were popular with people who majored in business and computer science — the former because she appeals to their greed, the latter because she appeals to their revenge fantasies.

Rand’s shadow still looms large over Silicon Valley and its wanna-bes, and it gave rise to awful things such as the Californian ideology, Peter Thiel, tech bros, and the general dickery that is an unfortunate part of American tech culture. It’s captured quite well in the first episode of a 2011 BBC documentary series called All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace.

Recommended reading

  • Ayn Rand’s entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, which includes this gem: “Conspicuous by their absence from Rand’s list of virtues are the ‘virtues of benevolence,’ such as kindness, charity, generosity, and forgiveness.”
  • RationalWiki’s entry for Ayn Rand’s philosophy, objectivism. They’re not fans of it, either, despite the fact that objectivism’s supposed highest virtue is supposed to be rationality (little hint: it’s not).
  • Blogger John Rogers on Ayn Rand’s writing: “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”


The More You Know...

Burned on the 4th of July (or: Your annual reminder about fireworks safety)

With most fireworks displayed canceled due to the pandemic, there will be more than the usual number of people lighting their own fireworks. If this is your plan, this safety announcement is for you!

Hand sanitizer and fireworks don’t mix

The pandemic complicates everything, including fireworks. In this case, it’s because COVID-19 means that we’re using more hand sanitizer than ever.

Hand sanitizer is at least 60% alcohol, which catches fire rather easily. Make sure your hands are dry before lighting fireworks, sparklers, and matches or lighters.

Alcohol (as in booze, not rubbing alcohol) and fireworks also don’t mix well

Do I even have to point this out?

Follow these safety guidelines

Here are some guides on using fireworks safely:

If you’re going to be dumb with fireworks, at least record a decent video so that I’ll have funny compilations to watch

Here are some moments showing fireworks gone wrong…

Florida of the Day Tampa Bay The Current Situation The More You Know...

Florida of the day: Please don’t microwave library books

Facebook post with photo of book with scorch marks around its embedded RFID chip: Temple Terrace and all Hillsborough County Library Cooperative libraries quarantine all materials for 72 hours after they are returned. Please do NOT attempt to microwave library materials as the RFID tags, located inside, will catch fire. Stay safe out there.
Tap the screenshot to see the original Facebook post.

The public library of Temple Terrace (a Tampa neighborhood just a little north of Seminole Heights, where I live) had to post a Facebook notice telling people not to microwave books that they borrow.

It’s generally a bad idea to microwave paper, including money…

…but it’s even worse to microwave library books, as they have RFID tags, which are made of a thin layer of metal. Microwaves heat up thin layers of metal really quickly, bringing them up to the temperature that will ignite paper:

The library quarantines returned books for 72 hours before loaning them out again, which is believed to be enough time for contaminated surfaces to become safe:

Remember, viruses aren’t made of living cells. From a certain point of view, they’re just chemicals — DNA, protein, and fat — but they’re chemicals that have a knack for replicating themselves by rewriting the DNA of cells that they infiltrate:

So yes, keep borrowing books and other materials from the library. Wash your hands after using them. But don’t microwave them!

The More You Know...

What do “stan” and “spilling tea” mean?

I have a number of readers from outside North America who’ve asked me the meaning of two American English expressions: stan and spilling tea.

“Stan” means “hyper-obsessed fan.” It comes from Eninem’s number, Stan (the video is above) — the one where Eminem raps over Dido’s Thank You in the voice of a creepy, increasingly-unhinged fan who’s obsessed with him. Stan was added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary last year.

You’ve probably heard the term “Stan” recently, due to the activism by “K-Pop Stans” — fans of Korean pop bands — who’ve been organizing online to thwart the racist hashtag #WhiteLivesMatter and more recently, who took some of the air out of the Trump rally by signing up for tickets with no intention of attending. 감사합니다 / gamsahabnida / thank you, K-Pop stans!

Check out Vice’s article: Eminem’s “Stan” Gave a Face and Name to Fandom.

To “spill tea” means “to gossip.” The term has come up on Twitter over gossip about Amy “Central Park Karen” Cooper’s very expensive affair with a married man.

Want to know its origin? The podcast A Way with Words has you covered.