Street art in Poland.
I’m subscribed to the Kindle Daily Deal emails from Amazon. Every time I get one that mentions a book I want - which is rare, but does sometimes happen - I go check my library. If they have it then I go write down what it would have cost me to buy it for the Kindle and check it out from the library instead. When my “saved Kindle money” reaches $20 I go make a donation to the library in that amount. I feel like it’s a good tradeoff.
Ever since she’s been old enough to take herself to bed, her last stop of the night has been to come into the office for a cuddle and a little talk and to say goodnight. We’re ten days from lift-off and now she feels like every little household routine and tradition is happening for close to the last time. She’s eighteen now — she started toddling into this room at less than my seated shoulder…
The pop culture cartoon’s midlife crisis: as Hello Kitty turns 40, the news this week was the cartoon cat is not actually a cat according to its parent company, Sanrio. And the Japanese not-cat is not Japanese either, but British.
This is bothering some people.
What is a mid-life crisis if not a crisis of identity, attempting to reconcile how the world perceives you with how you perceive yourself? The rejection of the imposed age-appropriate script by adopting the signifiers (consumerist or otherwise) of the youth script. Sports car, designer jeans, the extramarital fling. Whether by perception or action, the attempt to rewrite the story of the self. Trying to reclaim the hours lost to time, at the office, on the job.
“Enjoy your long weekend,” said your boss. “September will have a lot of late nights.”
But the news of Hello Kitty begs the question of whether authorial intent is the ultimate arbiter of ontology. Even if Sanrio intended for Hello Kitty to be a British girl, is she not still a Japanese cat? Cf. Robert Anton Wilson on Leopold Bloom as “Schroedinger’s Jew”.
My own proto-midlife crisis has manifested itself in riding scooters and playing Dungeons and Dragons.
When I ride the scooter, I am 14 again and riding my mountain bike in the suburbs to pick up the books reserved via the library’s dial-up BBS. Freedom, escape, and exploration, if only temporarily.
Scooters are primarily recreational in the U.S., semi-subcultural. The suburban sprawl car culture makes riding unpractical, especially in Texas. I rode one to law school daily for three years, but it took extra effort: the courier bag, the raingear, straps and bungees. Leaving early and avoiding highways.
In countries where scooters are more common, the subculture aspects seem to have a particular appeal. Tumblr is filled with kids in the U.K., Vietnam, and D.F. Mexico dressing up as teenage mods from the 60s and the mod-revival of the 80s. Mod-revival revivalists.
I don’t ride daily anymore; I lack the time and energy, and it doesn’t fit with the prescribed attorney-script. I am, however, the only attorney I know who wears a tie to work out of court. It started as an attempt to not feel like I was wearing a costume. Republican drag. Now it is habit.
We conform for our employers for personal gain, or at least survival. But what if we were all guaranteed a minimum income? What would the world look like if more people were not held hostage by the economic, socio-survival consequences? Circa 1999, the pop cultural zeitgeist was to defeat the employer. American Beauty. Fight Club. You deserve more than what they’ve given you. Office Space. But that was during the boom. As Hunter S. Thompson said more than forty years ago, “We’re all wired into a survival trip now.” Anyone who has a job is supposed to count herself lucky. Economic Stockholm Syndrome.
I am the accidental conservative, blending in with those who have the money. I tell myself that I choose to dress the part.
The kerfuffle over Hello Kitty’s ontology tuned out to be overblown, or at least not as binary as originally reported.
So enjoy what is left of your weekend. Monday is coming.
Sheepdogs could lose their jobs to robots after scientists learned the secret of their herding ability.
Rounding up sheep successfully is a simple process involving just two basic mathematical rules, a study found.
One causes a sheepdog to close any gaps it sees between dispersing sheep. The other results in sheep being driven forward once the gaps have sufficiently closed.
A computer simulation showed that obeying these two rules alone allowed a single shepherd – or sheepdog – to control a flock of more than 100 animals.
The discovery has implications for human crowd control as well as the development of robots that can gather and herd livestock, the scientists said. […]
To conduct the study, the researchers fitted a flock of sheep and a sheepdog with backpacks containing highly accurate GPS satnavs.
Movement-tracking data from the devices was programmed into computer simulations to develop the mathematical shepherding model.
Writing in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, the researchers concluded: “Our approach should support efficient designs for herding autonomous, interacting agents in a variety of contexts.
"Obvious cases are robot-assisted herding of livestock, and keeping animals away from sensitive areas, but applications range from control of flocking robots, cleaning up of environments and human crowd control."