DataPacRat

DataPacRat's Comments

What newsletters are you subscribed to, and why?

On April 9th, I blogged at https://sfw.furaffinity.net/journal/9460996/ :

Four Hundred Eighteen RSS feeds

I've taken my full list of feeds in RSSOwlnix ( https://github.com/Xyrio/RSSOwlnix ), trimmed out any that are particularly personal or that I can think of some other reason not to post, and stuffed the resulting list at https://www.datapacrat.com/temp/rssowl-trimmed-2020-04-08.opml , for anyone to download and make use of. You should be able to simply import the whole thing in one gulp into RSSOwlnix, if you're trying that program out; if you're using some other feed reader, the OPML file is plaintext, and if that reader can't import it, it should be easy enough to figure out the folders, feed names, and feed URLs.

(If you do subscribe to the whole bunch, I suggest letting your reader populate your copies of the feeds, and then mark the whole thing as read; so that you can pay attention to only the new posts as they come in.)

I admit 418 seems like a lot, but 114 of them can be ignored and deleted by anyone not in Canada, another 121 are webcomics, and at least 46 are connected to the LessWrong online diaspora, leaving only 137 of general interest. (I've tried subscribing to several thousand feeds over the years, trying out things like grabbing feeds from every newspaper, TV station, or other mass media outlet I could find; or focusing in on specific topics from Fortran to the First Nations; but dropped most of the ones I found myself not paying attention to. RSSOwlnix is a very useful program, but even it can start to chug a bit with how many feeds I've occasionally managed to fill it with.)

I won't list all the feed URLs here - that's what the OPML file is for :) - but here's a summary of what's what:

The first half-dozen feeds are my general online news, mostly feeds that I've been subscribed to for years: Boing Boing, Slashdot, Metafilter, kottke.org, and the top-voted items of Hacker News. (Pluralistic is new, but it's run by Cory Doctorow, who's been part of Boing Boing for years.) Following them are two feeds from KnowYourMeme, which helps me keep track of whatever new in-jokes the young'uns keep coming up with and sending through the intertubes.

Next up is what I've been calling 'Emergencies', which for some time I've been treating as 'the actual international news' - plane crashes, earthquakes, floods, and all the other things that you'd expect to be covered in newspapers and the six o'clock news, but so rarely actually are. This section has two subgroups for Canada's health agencies, reporting product recalls, food safety, and other things. And lastly for this set, my newest collection of feeds: submissions to a half-dozen COVID-19 subreddits.

If you subscribe to nothing but the above two sets, you'll be better informed about current events than a disappointing proportion of the general population. (Though you probably want to be a bit wary of those subreddits, which are imperfectly moderated at best, so you have to watch out for propaganda and outright falsehoods.)

Following all that seriousness are the webcomics. Mostly sorted out, I've got a pile of political comics and newspaper editorials; furry comics; gaming comics; newspaper strips; science-fiction comics; and a smattering of random ones.

After that I've got feeds from a variety of authours (from published professionals to silly homebrew worlds), some furry blogs, feeds specific to my local area, politically-focused blogs and newspapers, a wide selection from the LessWrong/Rationality community, feeds about particular pieces of software, and a final half-dozen I haven't sorted anywhere in particular. Oh, and a trio of RSS feeds for some YouTube channels, mostly to show how you can do that for your own preferred channels.

(The last part of the OPML file includes my current preferences for RSSOwlNix, such as fonts and standard feed-refresh times, and that I prefer to run a "clean-up" of the database once a month.)

These feeds - plus the ones I'm not including in this sampler - are how I get around three-quarters of my online news. Most of the other quarter are from sites that aren't so handy to keep up with via RSS, such as furry art sites; and the remainder come from a dozen or so email lists. As I've mentioned in a recent journal, I don't bother with Facebook or Instagram or the like; and I mostly avoid Twitter's unending stream and dark-pattern nudges by just keeping an eye on particular Twitter accounts' RSS feeds. After trying and discarding all sorts of other approaches over the years, this is what's turned out to work for me; and, hopefully, at least some of it will work for you, too. :)

Don't clean your glasses

My vision has already degraded a bit from when I got my latest eyeglass prescription (sph -3.75, cyl -2.50, a different axis for each eye); I have to squint more at, say, the menus at my local cafe than I used to. Getting the best out of my glasses every hour I'm awake seems more than worth rubbing them with my shirt for a few seconds per day.

(Sure, I could get my eyes re-measured for free by an optician who hopes to sell me glasses, and then get a cheap pair online at Zenni Optical, but my government provides me a free pair every three years.)

Mind you, I'm not opposed to trying out silly efficiencies, such as tapping '66' on a microwave to save the smidgeon more effort required to press '100'. Just not when the cost is, er, literally noticeable all the time. :)

What are the merits of signing up for cryonics with Alcor vs. with the Cryonics Institute?

I picked CI, and have stuck with it, partly due to the cost, and partly because its board is elected by the membership; while Alcor's board selects its own successors, which seems to me to be much less democratic and to be more likely to have something go terribly wrong organizationally before revival becomes possible. (You may have different theories about long-term organizational survival, but given the scarcity of evidence to work with, it's all-too-easy to rapidly run into 'politics is the mind-killer' level arguments.)


Skimming the top of the thread at https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/PdcpEih96tqrt2waM/alcor-vs-cryonics-institute , one relevant thing I've learned is that Mike Darwin is both heavily involved in and quite experienced with the cryo community, and always seems to be willing to tell everyone what they're doing wrong. This approach has caused some social friction, and as far as I know, he spends his time these days in the cryonics subreddit instead of the mailing lists.

You might want to join the New Cryonet mailing list at https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/New_Cryonet/info , which has members of both Alcor and CI.

Open Thread April 2019

I'm on a fixed income, and have already used up my discretionary spending for the month on a Raspberry Pi kit (goal: Pi-Hole). The odds are that by the time I could afford one of the masks, I'll need the money for higher priorities anyway (eg, my 9-year-old computer is starting to show its age), so I might as well wait for a bit of spare cash before I try digging much harder.

(I can think of a few other reasons, but they're mostly rationalizations to lend support to the main reason that feel less low-status-y than "not enough money".)

Open Thread April 2019

Coveting

I'm still struggling to escape the black dog of long-term depression, and as dormant parts of my psyche are gradually reviving, some odd results arise.

For the first time in a very long time, today I found myself /wanting/ a thing. Usually, I'm quite content with what I have, and classically stoic about what I can't; after all, my life is much better than, say, a 16th-century French peasant's. But my browsing has just brought me to the two rodent Venetian masks shown at https://www.flickr.com/photos/flatworldsedge/5255475917/sizes/l and at https://www.flickr.com/photos/flatworldsedge/5123591774/sizes/l/ , and I can't stop my thoughts from turning back to them again and again.

Those pictures are eight years old, and those particular masks aren't listed on the store's website ( http://www.cadelsolmascherevenezia.com/en/masks/27 ); and I have neither access to a 3D printer nor the skills to turn those jpegs into a 3d-printable file; nor the social network to get in touch with anyone who could do anything of the sort.

And yet, I want.

It's been long enough since I wanted something I don't have that it feels like a new emotion to me, and I suspect I'm wallowing more in the experience-of-wanting than I actually want a mask. But hey, there are lots of worse things that could happen to me than that, so I figure it's still a win. :)

Open Thread March 2019

A Flash of Colour in the Mind:

Some say to remember that the finger pointing at the moon is not the moon. And some say that every time you call up a memory, you change it. But here's the best I can express what remains of a split-second of thought earlier today:

I was enjoying reading a classic SF novel for the first time, and as my thoughts went over expanding on an idea from one line, I had a combination of seeing that expansion in the form of some Avatar-like glowing blue text, combined with an odd sensation. It took me some time to nail it down, which was a combination of thinking that the expansion was new-to-me, interesting... and what I now realize was the actual emotional sensation of hope.

I'm not sure if I can describe what it's like to realize that I'd literally forgotten what hope feels like. I've cobbled together an intellectual approximation, so that, as a hyperbolic-to-the-unrealistic-extreme example, I can analyse the pros and cons of suicide, taking into account that I know my mind is prone to certain biases, and come to the logical conclusion that even if I don't anticipate anything ever getting anything better, staying alive is most likely the better choice. But that's an entirely different thing than actually /feeling/ "hey, that sounds like something better that just might happen".

Sure, I've now been going over that split-second so many times that by now I mostly only remember remembering it. But I'm still taking it as a /very/ good sign I'm still on an upswing. (Sure, one step back every few steps forward, and there are days as blah as before... but there are days that /aren't/.)

About the only downside is that re-thinking my latest story idea, I'm now realizing how bleak and depressing my outline is; so I'm going to have to change it so much that I might as well be coming up with something from scratch. Which is such a ridiculously contrived "downside" that I'm grinning lopsidedly to myself as I type this.

Of course, given past experience, I may only be peaking before a return to previous depression; I've had such before. But... it may not be. And I'm looking forward to hoping my mental state will improve further.

Open Thread March 2019

Hah! Score one more point for the shower stall as an indispensable writer's tool.

For the last three days, I've known a few vague outlines of some ideas I want to write a story about, but couldn't come up with anything better than those blurry notions. Today, while I was thinking about them while shampooing my head, I finally identified what I wanted out of them, and in enough focus to combine them into a three-word premise. (Or, come to think of it, a different three words, if I'm allowed to use published authours' last names.) And now that I've done that, I'm extrapolating a host of details and new sub-ideas to play with.

I used an old outline as the basis for IO.SYS, and was starting to wonder if I'd need to look into creativity-workshop stuff to kick my brain back into gear. Now I've got my authorial confidence back. :)

(And /now/ all I have to worry about is whether I'll be able to tell the difference between "not depressed" and "manic-to-hypomanic state". But that's a much more tolerable problem than before, so no complaints. ;) )

[Fiction] IO.SYS
I think the protagonist here should have looked at earth.

That's certainly one plan that could have been tried, given a certain amount of outside-view, objective, rational analysis. Of course, one could also say that "Mark Watney should have avoided zapping Pathfinder" or "The comic character Cathy should just stick to her diet"; just because it's a good plan doesn't necessarily mean it's one that an inside-view, subjective, emotional person is capable of thinking up, let alone following-through on.

Can you think of anything that a person could do, today, to increase the odds that, if they suddenly woke up post-apocalypse and with decades of solitary confinement ahead of them, they'd have increased odds of coming up with the most-winningest-possible plans for every aspect of their future life?

Open Thread March 2019

My SAD light seems to be doing some good; I've just finished a first draft of a quickie 6k-word story. Is anyone here willing to give me some private feedback on it before I make it public? If so, let me know and I'll try to send a private message with a link to the GDoc. (Genres: hard-SF, at least in the general direction of rational, and abstract horror.)

So You Want to Colonize The Universe

If you want to learn more about the interplanetary and interstellar scale of this sort of colony-ship design, you could do a lot worse than to pick up the 3rd edition of the boardgame "High Frontier" by Phil Eklund. Its reference guide (PDF here) includes a couple of dozen pages of descriptions of how the game's various reactors, radiators, drives, and other pieces work, with references to the original design papers. For a wider overview of related ideas, the indispensable resource is the Atomic Rockets site.

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