Despite often making fun of smooth jazz, I’ve found it’s great to have on as background working music. The downside is that I’m training Apple Music to suggest endless Dave Koz and David Sanborn clones.

Giving Zenni Optical a shot for new glasses. I’m annoyed that they won’t let me enter the separate prescription I have for computer/reading glasses, instead insisting on calculating it from my standard prescription and then telling me the numbers are wrong, though.

I’ve been using Ulysses off and on for years and just figured out what filters are good for. I’m still not sure it can match Scrivener for serious novel-writing, but I’m definitely not sure it can’t.

Trying to figure out how to minimize risk to myself and my mother for Christmas, as I’m supposed to make a cross-country trip (and back). I suspect it involves self-quarantine on both ends of the trip and testing.

It’s been fascinating to go into the Trailers app on Apple TV, or trailer web sites, and see what shows up as 2020 marches on and tentpole features fade. It’s a growing collection of indies, VOD releases, obscure documentaries, imports, and category-defying oddities.

I appreciate this place having outdoor patio seating, but it’s approaching the time of year where they really need some patio heaters. It’s 57 in the sun, but it feels a lot colder in the shade.

You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but apparently you can fool 70 million people four years and counting.

I am tempted to buy the M1-based MacBook Air despite having bought, earlier this year, a (cough) MacBook Air. I’ll probably resist, though.

From mid-2018 through early 2020, my iPad Pro was my main portable. In early 2020 I bought the (last Intel!) MacBook Air and the updated iPad Mini, and they’ve completely displaced it: the Air is (mostly) better for creation and the Mini is (mostly) better for consumption.

The Hacker News community celebrates the Mac moving to an entirely new CPU architecture with the spirit of the true computer enthusiast: whining that they (probably) can’t put Linux on it.

Ulysses has behaved well enough under previous Big Sur betas that I wasn’t prepared for it to go comically south under the 11.0.1 beta. I see a new version that cites Big Sur compatibility as its main feature is on the horizon, at least!

I may have to break down and order another keyboard with Matias Quiet Click key switches. I love the feel of their non-quiet switches, but man, they’re loud. Back to the noticeably quieter MX Clear keyboard for now.

I am not quite making good on my quasi-joke to my boss at virtual standup today about working somewhere with comfort food and no internet, but sitting in an odd little tree-canopied nook with laptop and latte, I’m getting pretty close.

I don’t know whether this is celebrating victory or drowning sorrows yet, but it’s this kind of day either way. 760AF484-E577-478E-8856-FA2C3339CE00.jpg

I’ve encountered the first use of iOS “App Clips” in the wild I’ve seen, a menu at a very old pub in Oakland.

Hacker News is angry with me for criticizing Glenn Greenwald, but sorry: his work on Snowden doesn’t give him a free pass for spending two years arguing Russian interference in the 2016 election is a Democratic hoax and now going on to push the Hunter Biden laptop story.

I am losing a 606-day stand streak on the Apple Watch because it lost data when I had to erase and reset my new phone due to a SIM error. That’s… not a great feeling. It better start counting correctly again tomorrow, or I may just be going back to mechanical watches…

quibi (KWI-bee), noun. A unit of time for measuring the lifespan of ill-conceived internet startups: “Pets.com lasted four quibis.”

In an article about Tab diet cola ending production, I learned Odwalla has also entirely stopped production. I think I’ll actually miss it.

A lot of iPhone nerds seem to be dithering about choices this year: the Pro phones have both gotten marginally bigger, while there’s a new smaller option. Coming from the iPhone XR, though, for me the 12 Pro is a no-brainer.

First world podcast addict problems: I really dig Castro’s inbox/queue model for organizing and triaging episodes, but Overcast is equal or better at literally everything else. (Especially CarPlay, which I use a lot.)

There are persistent rumors that Apple will make portless iPhones next year that only charge wirelessly—but the port is there for data, too. A lot of cars have CarPlay, and most (like mine!) need those cables.

If you can’t shake the HomePod Mini and have its display light up with ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES or REPLY HAZY, ASK AGAIN LATER, a huge opportunity has been wasted.

Mini-rant: whenever people want to mock audiophiles they joke about “gold cables.” Y’all, there ARE crazy expensive cables, but gold ones are like five bucks. And gold contacts resist corrosion. (You don’t think that’s important, you haven’t lived in Florida.)

A brief chat about Chuck Wendig, the Internet Archive, and bad information spread in good faith

Because I’ve got a bug up my butt about this again, let’s briefly dig into a social media myth that Will Not Die:

“Chuck Wendig is suing the Internet Archive!”

No. No, he is not.

There are two important bits of background here.

First, the Internet Archive. If you know them, you probably know them because of the “Wayback Machine” that archives millions of web sites. They do a lot of other archive-ish stuff, though, including collecting and scanning books. A while ago, they decided to create a digital “library” of those books: anyone could “check out” as many copies of those books at one time as the IA had physical copies of. This is more or less the way digital lending works from your local library: they pay for, say, three copies of a given ebook title, and now three library users can “check out” that book at once.

Well, that’s the “more” part of “more or less”; the “less” part is that the IA was doing that with physical books and technically lending digital copies is not the same thing under copyright law. Even so, publishers mostly looked the other way.

Until.

At the start of the Great Pandemic, the IA decided they were now running the “National Emergency Library” and lifted the per-copy limit. If they had ten copies or a book or two or one, it didn’t matter, however many people wanted to check out a copy at once could. And the IA sent out press releases about this. They wanted everybody to know!

I’m not going to argue about the ethics of modern copyright law, but as a legal matter, this is not a gray area, kids. It just isn’t. The Internet Archive was all but sending out notarized letters to publishers saying “we dare you jerky jerks to come after us with everything you’ve got,” and golly gee, they got sued by the Authors’ Guild and several publishers. Who could possibly have predicted that outcome other than, you know, fucking everyone.

You will notice, perhaps, that the IA was not sued by individual authors over this. They were sued by publishers and a writing guild.

Second, Chuck Wendig. Wendig is a science fiction, horror-ish author who runs a popular blog and has a freewheeling, gonzo, over-the-top style—I’d argue more in his non-fiction than his fiction—that, well, you could call polarizing. (I enjoy it, most of the time, but I could see how many might be driven far away at high speed.) He also wrote a couple Star Wars novels, famously introducing the saga’s first major gay character in Star Wars: Aftermath.

And this was not popular with a predictable loud subset of reactionary fans, who carried a hate-on for Wendig that culminated in the trolls getting him fired from Marvel’s “Shadow of Vader” comic book, ostensibly because of his “vulgarity” in expressing what Quartz calls, with delightful understatement, “his unabashedly left-wing political views.”

So if Wendig didn’t sue the IA over the Emergency Library, how did he get involved in all this?

Well, he called it a “pirate site,” which he pretty quickly apologized for, but also wrote a much longer statement on the subject.

The problem with bypassing copyright and disrupting the chain of royalties that lead from books to authors is that it endangers our ability to continue to produce art—and though we are all in the midst of a crisis, most artists are on the razor’s edge in terms of being able to support themselves. Artists get no safety net. We don’t get unemployment and aren’t likely to be able to participate in any worker bailouts. Health insurance alone is a gutpunch cost, not to mention the healthcare costs that insurance wouldn’t even cover. I’m lucky enough (currently, at least), that I can weather a bit of that storm more easily, but most can’t, particularly young authors, debut authors, and marginalized authors who are already fighting for a seat at the table. I’m also not alone in calling this site out—others like Alexander Chee, NK Jemisin, Neil Gaiman, and Seanan McGuire have noted their concerns over this.

I am all for access to information and entertainment, and remind folks that libraries here already allow you to take out e-books, even while their brick-and-mortar locations are closed. I used to work for a library system here in Pennsylvania, and libraries all around the country deserve their time to shine in this crisis, as we realize what vital institutions they are, both intellectually and as a service to the community.

Come on, how could anyone read that and, in anything even approaching good faith, take major offense at it? This is empathetic to authors and libraries. Yes, it’s (gasp) making a claim that copyright does have value, and maybe you don’t see that. But I hope you at least see why a lot of authors feel they should be the ones to make the choice about how their books get distributed. I’m not against giving my own work away for free, but I am against you telling me that you’re going to give my work away for free and I have no choice in the matter.

In fact, I don’t think the people who started this “Wendig sues the IA, film at 11” bullshit did so in good faith. I think many people spreading it are doing it in good faith, but bluntly, I think they’re being used by trolls relying on it being way easier to click “like” or “retweet” than to do fact-checking. (Frankly, I despair at how often I see left-leaning friends gleefully retweeting the most dubious shit that confirms their biases, but that’s a bridge I won’t burn today.)

While this whole nonsense is months old, I’m seeing another new thread floating around today fisking an older book of writing advice from Wendig, inviting us all to mock how weird and bad his writing is and how awful his advice must be and oh yes remember he sued the Internet Archive!, and I’m out of patience nuggets for this one. If that’s your image of Chuck Wendig and what he’s like and what he writes, let me offer a different one, from “Follow the River, No Matter Its Rapids, No Matter Its Turns”:

It’s a lot right now.

I think if we can agree on anything, anything at all between us, it’s that everything is a whole lot. It’s too much. If you’re not screaming into a couch cushion soaked with gin right now, who even are you?

But here’s what I’m thinking.

I’m thinking all of this is a river. It’s a dark, fast river. It crawls serpentine through the earth, through the forests. Sometimes it moves slow, other times it’s all rapids. Sometimes it is eerily serene, and sometimes it’s rough enough to knock your teeth into your knees and draw blood. It’s waterfalls and eddies, it’s deep and it’s cold. Like all rivers, it can soothe you, and it can betray you.

This river, the river we’re in and on now—it’s harder, meaner, a river after a flood, a river whose waters are not sated, who will not abate. It’s mudded up and frothing like the muzzle of a rabid wolf.

You can fight against that river.

We often do, in writing. We often go against our own moods, against the news of the world, against bad reviews and against poisoned thinking. Our work is often an act of anchoring our boots against the soft slick weeds and the water-smoothed stones and move against the current.

Upstream, stories can be born.

Sometimes, though, I think you gotta do the other thing.

Sometimes, you go the other way.

You go with the flow.

You run with the river, not against it.

And what that means, practically speaking, is you let it happen. What you’re feeling, what you’re seeing, sometimes those elements demand to be seen in the work. Sometimes the river is the channel that feeds the narrative sea, and that means you need to put it in there, out there, all over it. You don’t escape. You confront. You ride the turns, you rough out the rapids, you take all your fear and your anger and your confusion and you put it on the page. And not even in a way of trying to write something that’s marketable or sellable—but just trying to speak honestly about who you are, about the world in which we’re living, and about your grappling with all of it. It’s not even about writing a cogent book or a collective piece. It can be about taking the time to punch that keyboard and scream onto the page—if only to clear the water and find time to climb back onto shore to write something else. It can be the thing you’re writing, or it can be a way to get to the thing you’re writing.

I don’t mean to suggest this as good “advice”—it’s certainly no requirement. You have to do what feels best and right—and, further, what feels most productive in the direction you need to be going. I’m only saying that, if it’s that much of a slog, if the slow churning march upriver and against the current feels like you’re fighting too hard and losing to the pressure, turn around and go the other way. Sometimes we want to, even need to, write about what’s going on inside our heads and our hearts. Sometimes we can’t ignore the room on fire. Sometimes we can’t get out of the river or go against it. And in those cases, let the waters take you. Write what needs to be written. Write what the river tells you to write. Follow the water, and see where you go.

You may still hate that writing, but if you do, who even are you?