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I'm getting lots of email from my alma mater about my twentieth reunion.

And I'm just a tad baffled.

I kind of get high school reunions; if you liked the people you went to school with, why not catch up with them after all these years? I've never had a huge interest in it, but I do get it (and am vaguely considering my 25th next year, mainly because it's reasonably easy to hop a bus to NYC).

But college was never about the people who graduated in 1994. Sure, some of them were my friends, but at college, you take classes with kids from all four years, you often room with them, and friendships form around clubs, events, etc. Other than my freshman hall, I never once had a group that was only folks in my class, and my freshman hall was 75% douches who joined fraternities and embodied the second through tenth worst stereotypes thereof. I had friends who were two or three years older than me, and ones who were freshmen when I was a senior. That's a range of six or seven years. Why would I want to go back to only see a chunk of those people?

Also, hi. We live in the age of the internet. I know exactly how about 80% of the folks I remember from college are doing. Including most of the folks from my freshman hall that I liked (and too many of the ones I didn't).

So why, exactly, would I want to pay hundreds to travel back to campus, see maybe fifteen people (if I'm lucky) that I actually remember, and not see almost anyone I actually give a shit about? Any why is this a huge thing in general? I mean, if you went to a fucking huge school like Michigan, why in the world would you travel back, when the odds of even seeing those folks from your class would be smaller than mine?
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I was going to try to post something about Ferguson today, but honestly, Nick's got the right idea, so I'm just quoting him:

Originally posted by nihilistic_kid at Blogging is too slow.
Get yourself a Twitter account.

#ferguson
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General reminder: Most of my pop culture/political links these days are over at my @Tsalmoth twitter account (which also contains a decent amount of puns, assuming you think any amount of puns greater than zero can be decent), while my tech/education/accessibility ones are at my @yendi account. Both (along with Facebook wall links) are aggregated into my Pinboard account. But sometimes I like to write a little more about the links.

1. Uber uses dirty tricks to cost Lyft (and Lyft drivers) money. Just some nasty tactics, especially for a company that's billing itself as a bullied underdog. Probably a good reminder that few companies are anything but, well, companies. They'll play the underdog card when they're fighting someone bigger, but are happy to use the same tactics themselves.

2. In defense of black rage. I haven't blogged about Ferguson (because I haven't blogged about anything in weeks), but I've watched the anger on Twitter, and it's palpable and justifiable in light of the police actions there. As a white person, I know that the police have no interest in harassing me because of my race, and I have no chance of being detained, arrested, or killed for walking while being black. I'd sure love to see some of the folks who generally distrust the government and the police on principal actually get half as upset about real police actions like this. Related: America is Not For Black People.

3. The Whole "Veronica Mars" Gang Is Coming Back For A New Web Series. I question their use of "fan favorite" in reference to Dick Casablancas; I think Ryan Hansen is legitimately a fan favorite (and his work on the criminally underrated and dumped Bad Teacher did nothing to disprove this), but Dick is, well, a dick. And, well, someone who egged on and effectively aided and abetted a rapist. But I'm happy to watch Hansen and the rest of the cast (although also a little creeped out by the choice of Ryan Devlin to replace Teddy Dunn.

4. The history of pro wrestling as it relates to capitalism in the 20th century. Great piece, written with a thorough knowledge of the industry.

5. Alyssa Rosenberg writes on how to not talk about the politics of culture. Rosenberg is one of my favorite pop culture writers, and her new home at the Washington Post is well worth visiting.
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Quell+ is free in the App store! I've mentioned the other Quell games (Reflect and Memento) when they've been free; if you like those, this is more of the same (it's the first in the series). The entire series is well worth having for fans of abstract puzzle games, with great puzzles and really well-done music that sets a mood perfectly.
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Booking a hotel for my business trip to CO later this year, speaking to the sales rep in the central office for the major hotel chain:

Me: It's for [Conference name]

Rep: Okay, I've got a special rate for that. I can offer you a king-sized bed at [conference rate] with a mountain view, or a king-sized bed at [conference rate] with a stunning view.

Me: What does a "stunning" view entail.

Rep: I don't know. It just says "stunning" on the description.

Me: Tempting as "stunning" sounds, I think I'll go with the known quantity here, and take the mountain view.

Rep: Yeah, that seems like the smart choice to me.
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Okay, Delta as an airline is still far from my favorite (as our recent trip to and from Florida confirmed), but their current safety video is kind of awesome:

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(Bringing out a comment I left on another post and expanding)

Beyond the original bunch of fallacies:

1. Being MUCH more willing to ostracize someone for "making trouble" - defined here as "things that could disrupt our parties" - than for raping or attacking someone within the community (as long as they don't disrupt a party when doing so). Obviously, these aren't people who are afflicted with GSF1, but they are ones who laser-focus their ostracism on people who are loud, or disruptive, or complain. If you do horrible things in private, but are happy and friendly in public (even if that's where you go to find people to do horrible things to), you don't get ostracized.

2. The notion that "our community is fracturing!" is more of a problem than "there's a predator in our community." This goes beyond GSF into outright "asshole" territory, imho. People who believe this way are living a childhood fantasy. Yes, it sucks when communities fracture, but ALL COMMUNITIES FRACTURE ALL THE FUCKING TIME. Life is not "Sex and the City," with your core four besties hanging out ever day, and in large open groups, people move in and out all the time. There are physical moves, there are petty arguments, there are philosophical debates that get out of hand, there are things that are interesting to some members and not others. And there are rapes, sexual assaults, and other horrific things (including people who defend rapists). The more people there are in a "community," the more change (both peaceful and calamitous) there will be.

3. Being flat-out unwilling to accept that someone you're romantically or sexually interested in might do wrong. Pretty self-explanatory, but especially in the sort of geeks who judge themselves based on romantic partnerships, this is a big issue. If you're interested in someone, what does it say about you if they're a predator? So clearly, there's a "misunderstanding," and maybe someone is "missing some of the facts," and your crush/fuckbuddy/partner isn't really a bad person. Or, you know, you're in fucking denial and would rather let your libido trump your empathy for a victim.

4. Redemption magically happens. "It's been a year or two, and surely he hasn't raped/assaulted anyone again, and can't we all just forgive him and move on now?" Has he actually done anything to warrant forgiveness? And by "done anything," I don't mean "offered to bartend for free at the next party." Has he acknowledged his wrongs? Sought counseling? Apologized? Anything? Or are you just tired of keeping someone out of your circle because it's work? Hint: It's probably the latter (or #3 above).
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I finished listening to the audiobook of Laura Lippman's I'd Know You Anywhere yesterday. It's superb, made even better by Linda Emond's near-perfect narration.

Like many of Lippman's standalone novels, it's a nontraditional mystery/thriller; the "thriller" element exists mostly in flashback (where we know the overall outcome, just not the awful details), while the present-day events are mostly about emotional tension than any immanent danger (and there's certainly never any doubt about whodunit).

One thing I found interesting was that the convicted killer at the center of the novel is obsessed with saving his life by focusing intently on one basic point of minutia, to the exclusion of all else; he's not concerned with the morality of his own actions, or making amends, or even if anyone has been hurt. He wants to focus on something small, and only if it's interpreted the way he wants. Anything that makes him the monster he actually is, he denies. Anything that focuses on any of the much bigger things, he ignores and shunts off.

It's a fascinating mix of hyperfocus and denial, and reveals as much about him as almost anything else. Of course, in this book, the same character is practicing both the denial and the evil acts he's denying, but it's equally fascinating to watch those who defend and rationalize things take this approach.

Anyway, damned fine book. Not quite as good as this year's After I'm Gone (an often gorgeous story of the disappearance of a Jewish mobster in '70s Baltimore, and the impact he has on his wife and three daughters over the ages), but utterly gripping.
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Sorry, but being on "my side" of a political issue does not give you carte blanche to be a creepy fucking horrible human being.

Case in point, Virginia Democrat Mike Dickinson putting out a "bounty" for naked pictures of a nineteen-year-old woman on the right.

Granted, he appears to barely be a "Democrat," not having made the ballot or gotten any party support, but there's no fucking excuse for this behavior.

(And there wouldn't be even if the woman in question were older, of course; but there's an extra layer of creepiness due to her age.)
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(Trigger Warning, natch).

1. Over at Medium, here's a superb piece called When You're Friends With a Rapist.

2. If you're not like the social circle described in that piece, if you decide that it's okay to invite the rapist to gatherings or into your home, you are sending a really fucking significant message to the entire community. And it's a message about yourself. Yes, that person might be fun, or pretty, or the only person you know who can bartend at your party/accompany you to a show/help you move that heavy desk. They might even be funny and a great addition to the conversation. It sucks to lose that. But if you really think that what you'd lose by excluding a rapist is more than the sheer fucking humanity you'd lose from not doing so, you might want to look real hard at yourself in the mirror.

3. See also, the Geek Social Fallacies. Note that predators (and assholes in general) rely on them.

4. While I'm at it, see The Missing Stair, although I can't imagine that anyone hasn't read that one.

5. Because afternoons shouldn't be entirely ugly, here's a picture of our new-to-us cat, a member of the household for about 2 weeks now.
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