Kicks Condor

#mayhem

I use three main tags on this blog:

  • hypertext: linking, the Web, the future of it all.

  • garage: art and creation, tinkering, zines and books, kind of a junk drawer - sorry!

  • elementary: schooling for young kids.

05 Jun 2020

Chesterton’s Fence

There it stands - so smug and invincible!

I’m very slow to reason about things, so I often just avoid it. Which means I end up with a whole lot of things I haven’t reasoned about - until I have to. (It’s also overwhelming - the amount of things to try to figure out.)

I’m kind of ambivalent about Chesterton, but maybe he was ahead of his time. Borges liked him, so that’s probably enough. Anyway, I ran across this quote from him:

There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

— G. K. Chesterton, The Thing, 1929

This is tough enough to do with a fence. How do you possibly attempt to justify the purpose of abstract empires like Wall Street, religion, vaccines, capitalism, socialism, governments, police departments, academia and even stuff I personally loathe - such as influence-peddling and that ‘recognition’ is considered a good thing to do to someone?

A way to defeat Chesterton’s Fence is to simply obscure the purpose so deeply that - while there may be surface purposes, the true purposes are purported to be too deep to understand - except by a select few. (The term ‘quantitative easing’ comes to mind.) A fence like that becomes quite invulnerable.

He goes on, elsewhere to further object to passionate, sudden smashing. This is predictable.

Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, “Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good—” At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their un-mediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.

— G. K. Chesterton, Heretics, 1905

I do like that the monk is ‘excusably knocked down’. I feel the monk’s issue here is exactly what I described earlier - obscuring his reasoning in abstractions, in a way that feels like stalling. The pullers-down here may seem impatient, but hey, we can’t spend our whole lives analyzing a lamp-post.

In a way, all of the various reasons for pulling down the lamp-post are pretty damning. Couldn’t a variety of reasons be much more compelling than a singular, unanimous reason?

Besides, isn’t the fence’s destruction inevitable? By fire, rain, vehicle or animal - isn’t a fence ALWAYS a temporary solution? Hastening its destruction seems innovative - let’s find out what the consequences are - REAL, not imaginary - such that we can find a more permanent solution perhaps.

I think that, if people are talking about taking down a fence, then they are likely free from more pressing concerns. So they likely have the luxury of now addressing the consequences.

In this way, I feel like the current desire to destroy the police departments has come about BECAUSE culture and society have improved. We now have the luxury of this being our concern - and there is an inate feeling percolating that now could be the time to confront the consequences. (I don’t say ‘luxury’ accusingly - having experienced a lot of grief in my life, I feel that grief too is a luxury - not everyone has the luxury to dwell on a tragedy after it happens.)

I run out of steam pretty quickly on topics like this. It’s not that I don’t care - it’s just the futility of trying to tackle a big topic, having only lived as this one inadequate being. (I lose every debate I get into because I see the other person’s side too easily - and I just agree with everyone. It’s stupid - I wish I was principled.)

But I think I see the ‘fence’ differently than Chesterton. We are too attached to our personal fences. Even the big ones like capitalism and socialism. I feel that these are just tools for us to use. (And I think humans will ultimately move well beyond these two concepts.) Both capitalism and socialism have useful concepts that will stay with us. Even if they are one day only found as choices in the menu of a SimCity clone.

Life will one day be unrecognizable to us today. The events of the last few months are proof of that. And I almost feel certain that the least likely prediction will come true. (And I do wish that Chesterton’s fence was real - maybe it is - because I confess that it would be cool to visit such a thing. Even if it would only be kept alive under extremely vigilant care.)

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17 Mar 2020

Marc Rebillet’s Quaranstream

Four day livestream after a cancelled Australian tour - just a sample of the best of making-the-best-of out there.

This artist has not been on my radar much, so you can thank AngleseaTwo for this rec. It’s pretty crazy to see so much of the doom and cynicism about the Internet come to a reversal during a time when we’re reliant on it so much. Of course, one can blame the Internet for the hysteria and stupidity as well, hey it’s all on here. But a livestream like this is a great thing to plug your ears into to get some good vibes. Turn off the damned politicians and flashing maps for a spell.

Also love that he takes calls.

Where I’m at the world pivoted extremely fast on Thursday. Now is an extremely good time to keep blogging and record your memories of the day-by-day. I’m digging into my neighborhood right now, but hope to be around a bit more to pass links and keep the lights on in our corner of the Web. I am in love with the crowd here - all you that I’ve had a chance to meet and hypertext with. Worried about you, of course. But I have no lack of confidence at the moment that you’ll come out of this stronger than before.

Along the lines of Marc’s livestream, I’ve noticed some other links to cancelled live tours/festivals that are importing on to the Web:

  • Social Distancing Festival: this is a directory of actors, dancers, artists of any kind who are doing upcoming livestreams along the lines of the above. I feel some disgust at having to drop the term ‘social distancing’ - ain’t nothing social about it - but it’s turning into a solid directory. Would like to see more niche styles do this.

  • #sunshinesongs on Instagram. High school kids are posting their home recordings of songs they got down for now-cancelled musical productions. I personally enjoy watching amateur musicals on YouTube, love this stuff.

  • /r/togetherathome, a subreddit collecting these kind of events.

  • I also think it’s interesting that Mo Willems is doing a daily doodle stream for kids, but I just think it fails because it doesn’t take calls. It would be cool for kids to hear from each other and get a chance to talk in all of this.

I’m using the homejazz sub on Indieweb.xyz to catalog what I can find.

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10 Dec 2019

Twilight Sparkle’s Voice Compromised

Brony AI seizes cartoon vocal chords (via @gwern)

The Pony Preservation Project undertakes to model (with machine learning) the voices of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic characters, thus granting them immortality. And, for Twilight Sparkle, the decorum of a sailor.

I don’t know if linking to 4chan is considered bad form - Gwern did the footwork on this, though, so who am I to say? Audio deepfakes, but for cartoon ponies. I’m just going to yank the text from 4chan, since I never know when these pages will disappear.

Pay particular notice to the Google Doc below - it contains rough instructions for training. You need a transcript for each audio clip that you’re processing, so a long-running series like Friendship is Magic is helpful, as you have a wide-ranging corpus to begin with. Background noise also needs to be removed from clips, there is a ‘sorting’ process - which also involves assigning ‘moods’ it seems - and there is also some reference to using Praat, which is used to annotate the files, identifying specific sounds.[1]

TwAIlight welcomes you to the Pony Voice Preservation Project!
https://clyp.it/qrnafm4y

This project is the first part of the “Pony Preservation Project” dealing with the voice. It’s dedicated to save our beloved pony’s voices by creating a neural network based Text To Speech for our favorite ponies. Videos such as “Steamed Hams But It’s Trump & Obama” or “RealTalk Joe Rogan” have proven that we now have the technology to generate convincing voices using machine learning algorithms “trained” on nothing but clean audio clips. With roughly 10 seasons (8 soon to be 9 seasons and 5 movies) worth of voice lines available, we have more than enough material to apply this tech for our deviant needs.

Any anon is free to join, and many are already contributing. Just read the guide to learn how you can help bring on the wAIfu revolution. Whatever your technical level, you can help. Document: docs.google.com

We now have a working TwAIlight that any Anon can play with: Instructions

>Active Tasks
Create a dataset for speech synthesis (https://youtu.be/KmpXyBbOObM)
Test some AI program with the current dataset
Research AI (read papers and find open source projects)
Track down remaining English/Foreign dubs that are missing
Evaluate cleaned audio samples
Phonetic dictionary/tagging
AI Training/Interface

>Latest Developments
https://clyp.it/xp4q1bru [Yay!]
Anons are investigating Deepvoice3, Tacotron2 with GSTs, SV2TTS, and Mellotron
New tool to test audio clips
New “special source” audio
Several new AInons

>Voice samples (So far)
https://clyp.it/2pb4bp05
https://clyp.it/s0klxftk
https://clyp.it/samzm4sk
https://pastebin.com/JUpDRsiw

>Clipper Anon’s Master File:
https://mega.nz/#F!L952DI4Q!nibaVrvxbwgCgXMlPHVnVw

>Synthbot’s Torrent Resources
In the doc at end of resources.

Gwern also found a larger directory of clips, same voice.

Predictions:

  • Fanfic will gain a serious boost when AI-generated voices can simply be fed scripts to generate audiobooks.
  • Couple this with animation networks (also via gwern) and The Simpsons may never need to end.
  • The power of the novel in previous generations was due to the fact that a single writer could produce one without relying on anyone else - finding collaborators in close proximity is a luxury some don’t have. This technology could make cartoons and film largely the domain of lone writers with no staff.
  • It will be a long time before this ever catches up to human voices and hand-drawn frames. In fact, this could increase the value of those artworks. (In the way that algorithms have really helped us see the value of human curation.)
  • Someone who is able to use the tech with a clever flair will have an edge. (As has been the case with CGI.)

I’m still not too hyped by machine learning, though. It seems pretty weak given the empire frothing around it. But these small iterations are cool. And you have to love when it comes out of a random subculture rather than the military. Who can’t respect this kind of insanely determined fandom? Impressive work for one week.


  1. A good start on this is “Analyze Your Voice” video by Prof Merryman. ↩︎

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02 Dec 2019

Dante Fontana

Host of Dante’s Mystery Mix, great work tracking down Shelley Duvall.

This personal homepage is a branch of the ‘EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE’ group - and I just want to quickly call it out for some of its sweet side projects.

A good place to start is with the mystery mixes, such as MYSTERY MIX VOL.7. Or THE BEST OF DANTE FONTANA.

But also his various articles, such as THE SAD AND HEARTBREAKING REALITY OF SHELLEY DUVALL’S MENTAL HEALTH, which I’d never heard and because I was very grateful that she was able to resist Dr. Phil’s efforts to take over her.

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17 Oct 2018

Notes From an Occupation

Journal-like coverage of early Occupy.

I’ve been both reading Mark Greif’s Against Everything and also just feeling nostalgic for Occupy Wall Street. (People claimed it was muddled, because it didn’t have answers—but I don’t know anyone who thought “We Are the 99%” wasn’t catchy.)

It’s been seven years and I found myself revisiting this day-to-day live blog of the first week, passing the mic between Mark Greif and Astra Taylor. (Here’s a subsequent part that goes into October.)

This author Astra is the wife of Jeff Mangum—and it’s interesting to me that his appearance at Liberty Park later led to a couple rounds of touring after a decade in the shadows. Well, if that was the point, then I’m glad for the times I saw him. Can’t help but wish Zuccotti Park was still a self-organizing commune, though, with its own roving troubadour.

Most of all, I love the description of the orderly congresses:

Noam Chomsky had sent a personal message by email. It was predictably long-winded; I wished people would make the “get to your point” sign. I was sitting close to the aisle of waiting speakers and I was surprised to watch participants whom I assumed knew each other well—since they were working together smoothly—whisper to ask each other’s names. They’re the most easygoing bunch I’ve seen at a protest, and the most calmly confident. Very gentle and not rattled by disruptors. Presumably that’s the confidence of nine days.

Up twinkles, hard block, flat hands—probably too cutesy for most. I dig it. Glad to make a new semaphore any day of the week. Or just fall back on ‘point of personal privilege’. There are rules, but there aren’t.

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01 Aug 2018

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25 Jul 2018

TBL Has Some Regrets

Mark Damon Hughes

Getting more people connected is somewhat positive and empowering for the “last billion”; although you, presumably fellow first-world libertarian/liberal/con-but-not-an-asshole-servative reader, may well not like the political and religious programming the last billion have…

I’ve also been thinking lately that linkrot is such a good thing for this reason. It’s very “human” for The Web to evolve, forget, to shed.

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18 Jul 2018

Catalog of Internet Artist Clubs

Here’s a web directory I stumbled onto—all the links you could want related to the “surf clubs” of the mid-2000s. I like the tight structure and the histories woven in. I’m beginning to think that the failure of early directories was that they were just piles of links with no sense of an editor or curator. (Oh and I had also long forgotten about Google Directory, which was shuttered in 2011.)

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30 Jun 2018

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01 May 2018

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09 Mar 2018

Fables of Tables #1

Rising Sun: The Shame and Sorrows of Godzilla

In my first game of Rising Sun, a Kaiju came in from the sea—and what happened next brought a profound mix of delight and sadness.

This is the first in my Fables of Tables series. It’s a type of review series. But instead of dryly reviewing the game’s mechanics and stamping some harsh grade on its face, I’m just going to tell a story.

Today’s game is Rising Sun. This is a miniatures game—full of plastic monsters. I don’t really play miniatures games, but a friend had a copy so it just happened. And, what the blazes? A miniatures game in pastels?

Midway through the game, I noticed that you could buy a giant Godzilla-like monster to have in your crew.

Daikaiju, so not exactly Godzilla, but hey.

“What’s the Godzilla do?” I asked.

And the friend who owns the game—I’ll call him Hustle—says, “Oh, he has five force.” So he’s huge—his power is equal to five whole army guys.

He goes on to explain that when you buy the Kaiju, you put him out in the sea—the whole board is a rough map of Japan and there is water surrounding the islands—so you put the monster out there, and then during battle you can spring him on to any of the game’s provinces and he’ll destroy all the buildings there. (The buildings are these strongholds where your units can appear.)

“Oh man!” I’m thinking. “Just like Godzilla! I love it! I gotta have it!”

I just really enjoy monster movies—particularly Shin Godzilla—that wail that sounds like metal sheets tearing and that slow, sinuous tail as he moves methodically through the cityscape. I get that he’s historically out of place in this game, but I don’t care! He is the force of the Earth fighting back against civilization—what if he could have done this in some bygone age?

The guy playing purple (don’t recall his name) buys the Kaiju before I can. This player is already in the lead and now has Godzilla, placing him in the sea. It is as if two titans of this world have allied and we are waiting for our defeat.

I look on wistfully at this being. Five force! I am in awe and I sit in anticipation of what the lurking god will do when war begins.


War arrives and the fellow playing purple brings Godzilla on to land in the northern province of Hokkaido. The Kaiju storms into the scene and—well, there are no buildings there—he has no effect. But still—this is an island teaming with monsters and warriors and look how Godzilla towers above them!!

Hustle reaches across the giant board and points. “Ok, so, you see, I have the Earth Dragon here.”

Hot snakes, I had forgotten about the Earth Dragon! So the Earth Dragon does not have the force that Godzilla has. However, the Earth Dragon is able to push away one unit from each opponent in the battle. It is as if the Earth Dragon takes a big breath and then >SNUFF< a bunch of guys fly off to other parts of the island.

Of course, he chooses to snuff off Godzilla. The Earth Dragon takes a big breath and a myriad of warriors and creatures scatter across the map. Godzilla is propelled all the way across the board—using a marked sea lane, I should add, since the winds of the dragons respect these rules as well—and he lands in Kyushu, destroying a few buildings when he lands.

War rages on and, before long, the spotlight shines on Kyushu. Godzilla has picked up the pieces and, with some tarnished pride, admirably overshadows the vast assembly of demons and gods there.

“Hang on,” says the player to my right, “my Fire Dragon goes first.”

Holy cats! Right! The Fire Dragon! This twisty, devious dragon coughs his terrible fireballs just as the battle forms—incinerating one unit for each opponent present in the conflict. Warriors and barbaric creatures fall away in the fire—and Godzilla himself, no, it can’t be! Can it??

Gods, it is true! The vast unshakable behemoth is now wildly dashing from the island in a pyre of his own burning scales. He tumbles down the beach, a maniacally flailing lizard, a lizard of flame and agony, howling his metal-rending chord.

The great Kaiju sinks back into the ocean—in shame and sorrow—having made no effect on the actual game at all. Like we never did any math with Godzilla involved. Literally no effect.


I sat there for some time after the game had concluded. Stunned and humbled. I contemplated the fate of Godzilla. Perhaps even the great gods get tossed and squashed and embarassed on a bad day.

Perhaps when I die, my Guardian—or my Saint or Kami—will approach me to greet me into a new kingdom. And she, too, may trip and fall into fire, to be engulfed and never seen again. These things happen. I realize that now.

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PLUNDER THE ARCHIVES

This page is also at kickscofbk2xcp5g.onion and on hyper://.

MOVING ALONG LET'S SEE MY FAVORITE PLACES I NO LONGER LINK TO ANYTHING THATS VERY FAMOUS

jack and tals vals, hipster bait analysts.

hypertext 2020 pals: h0p3 level 99 wikiist + ᛝ ᛝ ᛝ — lucid highly classified scribbles + consummate waifuist chameleon.

nathalie lawhead of so many good things, where does one begin. T, U, I.

waxy is back at it!

surfpals: nadia eghbal, subpixel.space (toby), things by j, gyford, also joe jenett (of linkport), brad enslen (of indieseek), 'web curios' at imperica.

fond friends: jacky.wtf, fogknife, eli, tiv.today, j.greg, box vox, whimsy.space, caesar naples.

indieweb: .xyz, c.rwr, boffosocko.

nostalgia: geocities.institute, bad cmd, ~jonbell.

true hackers: ccc.de, fffff.at, voja antonić, cnlohr, esoteric.codes.

chips: zeptobars, scargill, 41j.

neil c. "some..."

the world or cate le bon you pick.

all my other links are now at href.cool.