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You Are the Problem

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JA

When we released “Make a Joint Stool from a Tree” in 2012, I was still teaching a lot, traveling to tool shows and talking at places such as Woodworking in America. So I heard a lot of comments from readers about Jennie’s transition from being John Alexander to Jennie Alexander.

Most of the comments were something like: “What’s the deal with that? Isn’t that creepy? Why’d he do that?”

I would bite my tongue to prevent it from blurting “$%#& you.” And so I searched for a way to respond without getting angry. Anger is not my thing.

One day during a class, several students buttonholed me on the issue of Jennie’s transition. I stammered and looked helpless until one of the school’s employees interrupted me.

I won’t name the employee because it might embarrass him. But I am forever grateful for what he said.

“Look,” he said. “If someone does something, and it doesn’t harm anyone, then what’s the problem? If you are bothered by it, then you are the problem.”

I now say those exact words every time people ask me about Jennie. Hell, I practiced it in the mirror a few times to make sure I could look people in the eye when I did it (I’m not very good at locking eyeballs).

Please note that I feel this way about a wide variety of issues that are on the left and the right. Don’t try to transform this human statement into a political one.

— Christopher Schwarz

P.S. Don’t bother typing a hateful comment. No one will see it.



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brennen
1 day ago
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the blog garden

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My friend Dan Cohen recently wrote,

Think about the difference between a blog post and a book: one can be tossed off in an afternoon at a coffee shop, while the other generally requires years of thought and careful writing. Not all books are perfect — far from it — but at least authors have to wrestle with their subject matter more rigorously than in any other context, look at what others have written in their area, and situate their writing within that network of thought and research.

This is absolutely true — as I know from long experience with both genres. But what if there’s a more enlightening comparison? What if, instead of comparing a book to a blog post, you compared it to a blog? If a bog post is too small to compare to a book, a blog might be too big — keep on blogging long enough and you can have enough words to fill several books. If that’s the case, then one might find it interesting to compare a book to, say, a particular tag on a long-standing blog.

An example: For some time now I’ve been thinking of writing a book about John Ruskin. And I still might. But I’ve been led to consider such a book by gradually gathering drawings and quotes by Ruskin on this blog (there are also a few Ruskin entries at Text Patterns). Suppose that, instead of architecturally writing that book, I simply contented cultivating my Ruskin garden? (See this post for the architecture/gardening distinction.) More images and more quotations, more reflection on those images and quotations. What might emerge?

Well, certainly nothing that any scholar would cite. (How would that even be done? All the handbooks to scholarly documentation are still struggling with how to cite websites and individual articles — citing tags is not even on their radar, I suspect.) But I would certainly learn a lot about Ruskin; and perhaps the sympathetic reader would also.

In some ways this would be a return to what I did a few years ago with my Gospel of the Trees site, which arose because what I wanted to say about trees just couldn’t be made to fit into a book, in part because it refused to become a linear narrative or argument and in part because it was so image-dependent and book publishers don’t like the cost of that. But the advantage of a tag over a standalone site is that each post can have other tags as well, which lead down other paths of reflection and information, in a Zettelkasten sort of way.

My friend Robin Sloan tweeted the other day — I’m not linking to it because Robin always deletes his tweets after a few days — that, despite the many calls these days to return to the good old days of Weird Indie Blogging, there are still plenty of charmingly weird things being posted on the Big Media sites, especially YouTube. Point taken: no doubt this is true. But for my purposes the problem with the Big Media sites is the absolute control they have over association: you don’t decide what is related to your post/video/audio, they do. “If you liked this you may also like….” A well-thought-out tagging system on a single blog creates chains of associated ideas, with the logic of association governed by a single mind (or in the case of a group blog, a set of intentionally connected minds). And such chains are powerful generators of intellectual and aesthetic value.

I really do think that the Back to the Blog movement, if we can call it a movement, is so timely and so important not only because we need to, as I have put it, tend the digital commons, but also because we were just beginning to figure out what blogs could do when their development was pre-empted by the rise of the big social media platforms. Given the accelerated pace at which our digital platforms have been moving in recent years, blogs may best be seen as an old, established, and now neglected technology.

I think it was also Robin Sloan who recently directed my attention to this Wikipedia page on the late Nintendo designer Gunpei Yokoi, who promoted what he called “Lateral Thinking with Seasoned Technology”: finding new and unexpected uses for technologies that have been around for a while and therefore (a) have clear patterns of use that you can rely on even when deviating from them, and (b) have decreased in price. Nintendo’s Wii system is the classic example in the gaming world of this way of thinking: some of us will remember that when the Wii was introduced critics were flabbergasted by its reliance on previous-generation processors with their limited graphics capabilities, and were certain that the console would be a total flop. Instead, everyone loved it.

Blogging, I want to argue, is a seasoned technology that is ripe for lateral thinking. The question for me, as I suggested in my previous post, is whether I am willing to set aside the conventional standards and expectations of my profession in order to pursue that lateral thinking — in order, that is, to give up practicing architecture and going in for a good deal of gardening.

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brennen
3 days ago
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Boulder, CO
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Notes on FRS, GMRS, MURS radios

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FRS

  • Modulation: FM
  • 2.5 kHz deviation (Narrow band)
  • 12.5kHz channel spacing
  • Detachable antenna not allowed, limiting usable range

GMRS

  • Modulation: FM
  • 2.5 kHz or 5 kHz deviation
  • 12.5 kHz channel spacing
  • GMRS license and Call sign required:
    • Identified at least every 15 min, and at end of transmission series
    • Morse or spoken
  • Repeaters allowed

MURS

Frequencies as of 2018

NameChannel #Frequency (MHz)Deviation
FRS/GMRS shared channels, Max Power: 2 W FRS / 5 W GMRS
FRS 1 / GMRS 9 1462.5625 N
FRS 2 / GMRS 102462.5875 N
FRS 3 / GMRS 113462.6125 N
FRS 4 / GMRS 124462.6375 N
FRS 5 / GMRS 135462.6625 N
FRS 6 / GMRS 146462.6875 N
FRS 7 / GMRS 157462.7125 N
FRS Channels, Max Power: 0.5 W
FRS 88467.5625 N
FRS 99467.5875 N
FRS 1010467.6125 N
FRS 1111467.6375 N
FRS 1212467.6625 N
FRS 1313467.6875 N
FRS 1414467.7125 N
Dedicated GMRS Channels
GMRS 115462.5500 W/N
GMRS 216462.5750 W/N
GMRS 317462.6000 W/N
GMRS 418462.6250 W/N
GMRS 519462.6500 W/N
GMRS 620462.6750 W/N
GMRS 721462.7000 W/N
GMRS 822462.7250 W/N
MURS Channels
MURS 11151.820N
MURS 22151.880N
MURS 33151.940N
MURS 44154.570W/N
MURS 55154.600W/N

Power considerations

FRS radios:

GMRS radios (with FCC issued license)

  • are limited to 5W on channels 1-7.
  • are limited to 0.5W on channels 8-14.
  • are limited to 50W on channels 15-22

GMRS Repeaters

GMRS Repeaters listen at +5MHz and broadcast on regular channels. GMRS Channel 1 = 462.550, GMRS-R input = 467.550.

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brennen
6 days ago
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brennen
8 days ago
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1 public comment
MaryEllenCG
9 days ago
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Yep yep yep yep yep.
Greater Bostonia

RT Jason Caffoe Jason Caffoe @jcaffoe

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Dan Lyke:

RT Jason Caffoe Jason Caffoe @jcaffoe:

Ursula K. Le Guin on cultural perceptions of fantasy: “The direction of escape is toward freedom. So what is ‘escapism’ an accusation of?”

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brennen
11 days ago
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brennen
12 days ago
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zippy72
10 days ago
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This is me...
FourSquare, qv
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