Atvelonis's recent activity

  1. Comment on The end of dispersed camping in ~enviro

    Atvelonis
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    Thank you for the note. That was more of an aside from my thesis on the pedagogy of wilderness engagement in general; a break from my focus on the general and instead toward an individualized...

    Thank you for the note. That was more of an aside from my thesis on the pedagogy of wilderness engagement in general; a break from my focus on the general and instead toward an individualized example; a personal opinion from the perspective of someone who isn't disabled and to an audience who are, for the most part, also not disabled. I should have prefaced the paragraph with an explanation of who these ideas might apply to, and will try to be more careful about doing so in the future.

    I would argue that your positionality as a disabled person supersedes the "lifestyle abstraction" that would otherwise exist in an RV camping experience. As you've written above, you have to be hyper-aware of your body's needs in any outdoor experience in a way that modulates, rather than replicates, your typical routine in society—which I think I would also say is a lot less artificial than most people's to begin with. It's important to recognize the relativity of these things; the intensity of an experience is clearly personally variable, and there's no particular baseline at which camping is done "correctly" rather than "incorrectly." But for most people, I would suggest that relying on the luxuries of an RV is both not a necessity and actively harmful to the environment in a way that cannot be ignored. Impact should be minimized wherever possible, especially in fragile park ecosystems. Vehicles serve a purpose, the issue is that they're being used in a way that needlessly perpetuates consumerism.

    Like the final requests of this article, such commentary does distract from the bigger picture (as I mentioned), but I don't want to pretend that micro-level wilderness advocacy is useless, just that it's kind of a last-minute fix. Because of my own positionality I'd never use an RV, and my comment lays out why. As long as one frames it as a matter of encouraging long-term lifestyle changes, I don't think it's inappropriate to ask that people who have the privilege of being physically capable of limiting their environmental impact make a more immediate effort to do so. But yes, pedagogically, the specifics are cogs within a much larger machine.

    1 vote
  2. Comment on The end of dispersed camping in ~enviro

    Atvelonis
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    This article is one of many that continue to analyze wilderness engagement through the lens of feigned collectivism, but really just broadly applied individualism. i.e. looking at a group of...
    • Exemplary

    This article is one of many that continue to analyze wilderness engagement through the lens of feigned collectivism, but really just broadly applied individualism. i.e. looking at a group of people doing a thing and then finding a scapegoat within the group instead of analyzing the steps that led them to do whatever idiotic thing they're being censured for. From the article:

    This is the kind of behavior that will reduce our dispersed camping opportunities. If folks can’t be bothered to clean up after themselves and refrain from scrawling their initials in aspen trees, spray-painting a rock face, driving their ATVs across an untracked meadow or constructing some silly cairn made from displaced river rocks, they likely shouldn’t be camping in the first place. More damage will lead to more closures by land-management agencies, and rightly so.

    Quite an observation! Inconsiderate people do inconsiderate things. It's seriously not helpful to make surface-level observations about "bad apples" (I despise this analogy) ruining the fun for everyone, when in fact literally any action in this context is the effect of an issue that is not specific to the wilderness and also not something that should be exclusively analyzed through the lens of protecting the natural world. It's bigger than that; the problem here is with the way that we perceive our place in the universe. The question to ask oneself is, "What grounds my worldly perspective, and why?"


    Doing that instilled in me and my siblings the basic rules that I'm guessing a lot of people who are trying this for the first time either don't know or don't take seriously.

    It's not malice, wilderness education is just nonexistent among the general population. From a systemic perspective, human beings cannot be expected to know anything they aren't explicitly taught, and unfortunately we don't have a robust system to teach people how to handle themselves outside of society. Trash is so commonplace in cities that it's become a staple of modern life; it's unavoidable under all but a utopian consumerist model. Because this garbage-laden is the world that we've all grown very accustomed to, it takes a specific, targeted re-education (de-education, one might say) in regard to waste production and disposal in order to understand how to exist in a space that's both shared by and characteristically devoid of other people. It's also a lot more than "throw your garbage in a trash can," which you can tell anyone to do (to varying levels of success). The issue here is that there are no trash cans in the wilderness, and that's the point. You fundamentally have to be in the mindset of "this place doesn't exist to accommodate me, and I must be reverent in and to its presence." This necessarily requires that you produce very little trash to begin with, and further that you become comfortable with your proximity to the garbage that you do produce, potentially for a long period of time—something that lots of first-time backpackers I've accommodated have had a weirdly difficult time accepting (I have to touch the trash bag? It has to go inside my pack?).

    I had the fortune to join a Boy Scout troop as a kid, in which the principles of Leave No Trace were more than just suggestions, but gospel. It was drilled into me, night and day, that I had to respect the world around me, not just as a courtesy for Mother Nature, but because leaving a bunch of garbage lying around would get me mauled by a bear. It's that primal recognition of your position and positionality that knocks an entitlement chip off your shoulder. This is not something you can teach in a training video, you have to experience it. Your first wilderness adventure has to be with someone who understands and respects the principles of Leave No Trace. They have to teach you these rules personally; they have to show you how to follow them. They have to remind you that you don't deserve a thing out there. But perhaps most importantly, they have to be telling you things that you're willing to accept; you have to already be living in a way that prioritizes low-impact existence at least in theory, if not in practice. And teaching that is not solely or even mostly the responsibility of wildlife educators, but social ones.

    RV camping is a foreign and tasteless concept to me. It's environmentally high-impact in a way that pitching a tent isn't (fuel use; degradation of the land the vehicle is on), and rather defeats the purpose of "getting away from it all" to begin with. I realize the elitism associated with this position, but a necessary prerequisite to appreciating (understanding) the natural world means recognizing your place in it, and you can't do that while so blatantly embracing the comforts of societal life. Clinging to your vehicle for the duration of a camping trip instills in you a sense of unnecessary security that you should feel comfortable without. It's that very security that you should seek to question, or challenge, by venturing into the wilderness. Even a casual weekend getaway should strive to be genuinely meaningful insofar as you should not be replicating your existing, abstracted lifestyle somewhere that just happens to look pretty. No doubt I'll be "No True Scotsman'd" here, but that's somewhat beside the point. Full-on asceticism might be a step too far, but it definitely doesn't hurt to take a few paces in that direction. What does it say about your values if in your search for meaning you refuse to forego even the simplest of your long-held privileges? And how might have those values been ingrained by external forces in your youth?

    Humility is just as much about inherent privilege as it is applied morals; specifically, seeing the privilege you hold in society and deconstructing it in an environment where it no longer matters (ever notice how few people from marginalized backgrounds ever go camping?). Teach that and you can apply it anywhere, especially the wilderness. So, in truth, the issue here is threefold: the entitlement that capitalism inherently encourages, the physical waste that consumerism produces, and the poor decisions that a lack of proper wilderness education causes. Focusing exclusively on the third entry in that list is a band-aid fix that ignores the systemic problems of "human beings thinking that they own the world unless someone puts them in their place." It doesn't matter how much we shame green campers for their poor wilderness etiquette, or even teach them how to do it better once they're already out there. With the right attitude, you can certainly get through to whoever you interact with—I do this with participants on every trip I lead—but the issue will recur until we change the function condition. Contrary to popular belief, that's neither impossible nor world-ending, but it does require us to take a step back and reorder some of our priorities.

    13 votes
  3. Comment on Are illegal strikes justified? in ~talk

    Atvelonis
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    A legal system is a human construct and not, as far as I'm concerned, tied in any philosophically permanent way to morality. In theory, it is the manifestation of society's collective moral...

    A legal system is a human construct and not, as far as I'm concerned, tied in any philosophically permanent way to morality. In theory, it is the manifestation of society's collective moral beliefs. In practice, it is the manifestation of a powerful subset of society's collective moral beliefs plus various practices that benefit them personally, whether they're aware of them or not. It's not even like you can reach a certain point where the theory holds true in practice, because by virtue of implementing any sort of theoretical framework for morality, you recognize that it is a person or society who is implementing it, both of which are wont to make arbitrary and potentially immoral decisions.

    Unless you are God, your law holds no moral value in and of itself; that you have made something illegal does not make it immoral, and vice versa. The Sovereign in Hobbes' Leviathan approaches such a position, but I fail to see how anyone not utterly brainwashed by the state would genuinely recognize that as being the case, and not just an arbitrary decision made by some powerful subset of society. Fundamentally, agreeing that the moral authority of a monarch represents The TruthTM supposes either that they are infallible (i.e. God) or that they aren't (i.e. the Sovereign), but in the latter case you're going to pretend that they are for the sake of operating a government. There's nothing wrong with that—until we can find a way to write and implement un algorithme du gouvernement parfait, I'd rather have a functioning but morally arbitrary state than not recognize any authority figures whatsoever just because it's technically philosophically valid—but we do have to recognize that our legal systems are not the will of God. They are the will of whoever writes them, and everything about the human condition is morally subjective.

    I have very little sympathy for corporate or governmental entities whose employee benefits are so lacking that said workers feel compelled to engage in a strike. I'd personally consider any "agreement" between a company and an employee not to strike to be something approaching coercion, or a matter of "I"m only signing this because I literally need to do so to receive money, and therefore live." I don't believe that the act of two parties consenting to a contract makes that contract moral if the system behind it is itself immoral; such a contract, as a byproduct, is also immoral. If anything, the fact that the strike you're referring to is illegal makes it all the more pressing: these workers are risking both their livelihoods and their freedom in order to demand more favorable conditions. Surely they would not attempt this without a good reason. Strikes are difficult to organize and can backfire quickly.

    Opponents of unions enjoy making remarks about how greedy they are, and that workers just need to live with the hand they've been dealt. I understand this perspective, but it's not very constructive. Without getting into a case study that I don't care about involving some corrupt union head, I would argue quite strongly that strikes don't happen arbitrarily. They happen because there's an absurd amount of income inequality in the world, and the ones who have the power to change that simply choose not to for their own benefit. I see nothing wrong with a demand for more equal income on behalf of workers; I'm not one to entirely reject the doctrine of "work harder and get richer" (it's a nice incentive), but there's only so much of a bonus that anyone on the top of the totem pole actually deserves. The people on the bottom are struggling, and dismissing their lived experiences because they threaten the power dynamic that you've internalized is problematic for a whole host of reasons.

    8 votes
  4. Comment on Making of Byrne’s Euclid in ~creative

    Atvelonis
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    This is a commendable project, thank you for sharing. Content preservation/reproduction like this has always fascinated me, and it's interesting to see the process laid out so explicitly in this blog.

    This is a commendable project, thank you for sharing. Content preservation/reproduction like this has always fascinated me, and it's interesting to see the process laid out so explicitly in this blog.

    1 vote
  5. Comment on In what small ways are you considerate towards others? in ~talk

    Atvelonis
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    Peter Singer's 1971 essay "Famine, Affluence, and Morality" gave me the moral stimulus to begin donating to charity. Right now I donate about 8% of my annual income to a few humanitarian,...

    Peter Singer's 1971 essay "Famine, Affluence, and Morality" gave me the moral stimulus to begin donating to charity. Right now I donate about 8% of my annual income to a few humanitarian, educational, and social justice-oriented groups. Eventually, per Singer's thesis, I'd like to increase that number to nearly my entire disposable income. I try not to be stingy in general, especially with friends. I prefer not to talk about this because it sounds incredibly self-aggrandizing, but I honestly don't know how else I can make up for the unequal lot in life I've been given. What is a relatively trivial amount of money for me (in the grand scheme of things) can literally mean the difference between life and death for many people around the world.

    7 votes
  6. Comment on Do you have any quirks/idiosyncracies in how you use the English language? in ~talk

    Atvelonis
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    I'm a native speaker, but messing around with capitalization in prescriptively "incorrect" ways is actually my favorite thing to do in texting. Using lowercase for a whole message completely...

    I'm a native speaker, but messing around with capitalization in prescriptively "incorrect" ways is actually my favorite thing to do in texting. Using lowercase for a whole message completely changes its tone, making it more informal. Conversely, carefully sprinkling in some incorrect capitalization can add a bit of humorous emphasis, and I like to vary it in more complex ways in response to the nuances of the situation.

    I also have a similarly naughty habit of completely screwing up my punctuation on purpose. Adding random spaces between words, doubling up on commas, forgetting periods and just relying on the next word to be capitalized, ellipses that are too short or too long, random unclosed parentheses, etc. These messages represent chaos. In the absence of face-to-face interaction, these stylistic changes can make up for unseen body language to the right people. It's a great contrast from the way that I write formally, which tends to be hopelessly verbose and with fastidious punctuation. I must have taken some cues from old professors who'd always respond to my painstakingly crafted emails with "thamks.. --laurie Sent from my iPhone."

    I usually stick to the correct-ish prepositions even in informal scenarios just so that I'm understood, but particularly when speaking in person, I'll routinely swap out a noun for something that's obviously not correct or an adjective for something really out of style simply because life's too short to be boring. Once in a while I'll end up inventing a word. Normally such misuse of terminology (especially slang) would get one laughed at, but that's the point here. If I'm surrounded by friends, a bit of characteristic and most certainly undeserved overconfidence gives me the linguistic power of an avant-garde jazz musician. Best paired with alcohol, as you'd expect.

    I realize how exasperating this must be to non-native speakers, who spend a lot of time trying to get the finer details of the language right. I promise I only do this to people who I know will get it. But it's so much fun to find someone on the same wavelength and then break the English language together.

    10 votes
  7. Comment on Rt COVID-19 timelines for the United States in ~health.coronavirus

    Atvelonis
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    I thought that this was a good visualization. It's difficult to tell from raw case numbers how the virus is progressing in different areas, but using the Rt value lets us know the likelihood that...

    I thought that this was a good visualization. It's difficult to tell from raw case numbers how the virus is progressing in different areas, but using the Rt value lets us know the likelihood that any infected individual will spread the disease to others while they have it. If Rt > 1.00, the virus will spread at a potentially high rate, but if Rt < 1.00, infections will slow down and cases will start to drop.

    2 votes
  8. Comment on What has/have your government/school/college/teachers done to keep education flowing during this pandemic? in ~talk

    Atvelonis
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    Most of the changes that the undergraduate institutions I'm affiliated with are making on an institutional level to accommodate in-person housing and learning revolve around keeping students and...

    Most of the changes that the undergraduate institutions I'm affiliated with are making on an institutional level to accommodate in-person housing and learning revolve around keeping students and faculty safe in their respective environments. I would call that indirectly "keeping education flowing." That students are returning at all is somewhat questionable, although in the contexts of these particular schools, I'm not worried. They have small and prudent student bodies who I think are unusually capable of self-policing, not to mention the actual campus police.

    Administratively, the colleges have designed systems that will allow professors to teach remotely (with students living on campus) in a fairly robust way. Even the few classes that are being taught in person are all being recorded, so that students who are unable to attend class (immunocompromised, quarantining, etc.) will not be left out. I believe they've provided some direct training to faculty about operating classes in the pandemic, although I'm not privy to structural lecture details. Some departments have reduced major requirements for students in the next few graduating classes, as many multi-semester schedules have been ruined by the pandemic. At least some professors have proactively reached out to students to explain the structure of their courses in the fall. Admin is also taking a somewhat more active role in helping first-years navigate the academic environment, pushing faculty pre-major advisors to provide more support earlier on than they might have in the past. The student-led orientation programs that are designed to help first-years adjust socially and academically (both during orientation week and throughout the entire year) are also in play more or less as planned. Upperclassman leaders are currently receiving training for living with and guiding first-years through social and academic processes, and will finish in September, when the rest of the student body returns.

    As for behavioral student guidelines to facilitate in-person living/learning during the pandemic:

    • Almost all classes are being conducted remotely, except for those that strictly need to be in person, or those whose professors apparently aren't worried about the virus. Class times have been vastly spread out to decrease traffic and class sizes are seemingly being reduced overall. In-person classrooms should allow for social distancing. The libraries are cutting capacity in half outright to accommodate socially distanced seating, and also plan to offer alternative spaces on campus to study. Study groups are certainly allowed, but again, only while masked, and spaces for such things have been reduced in size to encourage more limited contact. Buses between affiliated colleges are still operating, but since most classes are online, my understanding is that they will be utilized less overall.
    • Universal mask usage is being stressed very hard (I would say students are about as worried as admin). Social distancing guidelines are in place everywhere except for small "living pods." Students who are quarantining have separate dedicated housing. Indoor athletic facilities are not operating at all. Varsity teams can practice or exercise in groups of up to nine students at a time, but only if outdoors, masked, and entirely socially distanced. Administrative offices appear to have moved to outdoor tents, and the dining centers have limited capacity and will be mostly just be doing take-out. Students can have one (1) unmasked visitor in their personal space at a time, but only those within the community (i.e. not friends from other colleges). Social gatherings are limited to groups of 15 or fewer, must take place in designated areas, and must be socially distanced. The campuses are small enough that campus police can definitely disperse violating groups quickly, especially since there are no fraternities or sororities who would be inclined toward such things, and virtually all housing is owned by the colleges to begin with. But, as I said, the student bodies are ethically self-policing, so I honestly don't think it would come to this. They have the foresight (and informal social pressure mechanisms) to hold off for a single semester.
    • Off-campus travel is highly discouraged (all but prohibited), minus emergencies or grocery shopping. Students will not have a fall break, but will go home (and stay home) at Thanksgiving. Perhaps most importantly, the cost of housing for the semester is subsequently being reduced.

    I've mentioned in previous comments that one of the most important parts about an education at any level is the freedom of students to collaborate with and learn from each other. This is impossible to do remotely to anywhere near the extent that it could be done in person, so the aforementioned measures to make living together safe do ultimately have a strong academic benefit. They give students ways to remain focused on academics while also not losing touch with their social lives (which go hand-in-hand for most people), and by extension themselves. And I'm pretty sure that it's going to work.

    1 vote
  9. Comment on Consensus decision-making: a short guide in ~life

    Atvelonis
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    I've always been fond of consensus (in the Quaker sense, more or less) as a form of decision-making in professional and social groups. I believe that, when provided education about the terminology...

    I've always been fond of consensus (in the Quaker sense, more or less) as a form of decision-making in professional and social groups. I believe that, when provided education about the terminology and procedure of the consensus process, participants in any given consensus-oriented discussion are capable of engaging in a much more thoughtful discourse than they would otherwise be, in a 50%+1-style decision or similar. In particular, using language like "I feel..." and "I hear..." in a consensus-style meeting has the capacity to change perspectives to a much greater extent than "I'm correct because..." and "That's wrong because..." Because consensus inherently seeks reasonable agreement—not necessarily uniform belief/unanimous agreement on every facet of an issue, but common ground such that the best aspects of various perspectives are considered and integrated into a decision—its products tend to be relatively balanced.

    The process still has some structural limitations, namely that it requires a lot of emotional maturity. You do need people who are experienced with the process to facilitate and participate in it, or else speakers are wont to revert to standard exclusionary arguments and the whole thing falls apart. It's difficult to train people to use the empathetic mindset that consensus asks for, though if everyone in the room is working in good faith, it's far from impossible. I'd also note that it takes a lot of personal willpower to block a broadly supported consensus unless you have remarkable strength of mind and character. This is not really any different than standing up to a majority in a typical voting scheme, but given the length of time the consensus can take, discussion facilitators have to be aware of how subtle or not-so-subtle pressures from within a group can negatively influence decisions (think: pushback to avoid a hung jury).

    Despite its drawbacks, in this age of inflammatory and counter-productive argumentation, consensus can serve as a valuable tool in collective decision-making between people of different backgrounds, identities, and beliefs. By focusing discussions toward genuinely understanding all of the perspectives in the room, consensus-based policies and agreements can plausibly integrate a wide array of ideas and turn out more suitable to all involved, and therefore more likely to be followed after the fact.

    3 votes
  10. Comment on The workforce is about to change dramatically in ~life

    Atvelonis
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    This is a great article, and I agree that the workforce is going to become more remote in the future. But I don't think that the change will be as substantial or permanent as one might think, even...

    This is a great article, and I agree that the workforce is going to become more remote in the future. But I don't think that the change will be as substantial or permanent as one might think, even for white collar work.

    Face-to-face meetings might feel even more valuable in a post-pandemic world, restoring business travel with surprising speed.

    I hate working from home. It's a nightmarish situation where the balance between my job and my life breaks down, reducing my ability to differentiate between the two to the extent I need in order to maintain my sanity. I might take it over an hour-long commute, but that wasn't a problem I had before the pandemic anyway. The worst part about it is that communicating remotely is just so much harder than doing so in person. I feel extremely out of touch with all of my remote colleagues, even if we talk every day: I have no animosity toward them, I just don't have a good way to visualize who they are and what they genuinely mean to me without talking face-to-face. The article describes them as "annoying abstractions," which is accurate when there are disagreements about how or whether to do something. I don't pretend that I'm friends with all my coworkers, but I believe that at least a dim sense of camaraderie in the workforce is an important part of being a team, and that's really hard to come by if you only see each other through a tiny box for 45-minute meetings a couple times a week.

    My prediction is that we'll see a bit more online work in the near future, and then a rebound back to in-person collaboration again, as people go from "I hate working from home!" (early pandemic) to "I love working from home!" (post-pandemic) to "Wow, I'm being deprived of the minimal amount of social interaction and structural routine I need to be a functioning human being in our society. I hate working from home!" (post-post-pandemic). I don't mean to suggest that family and friends can't provide support here, because they can, but my brain just can't be happy if I only talk to the same four people every day. More like twenty, even if it's those four that nevertheless provide the most meaningful interactions. Not everyone will have this experience, but as impersonal as a company can be, I suspect that even the moderately extroverted among us will begin to feel the creeping effects of loneliness in a sans-office work work.

    Given the okay to go remote, workers in expensive cities may use their freedom to move to cheaper metros where they can afford more space, inside and outside. In political terms, this would reallocate the Democratic bloc.

    This is an intriguing concept, although I'm not sure how to interpret it. The Democratic party has been shifting a good distance to the left in the past few years—a much-needed change, as far as I'm concerned. I would be disappointed if this sudden increase in purple states were to reverse this shift on the national level, with Democrats seeking compromise positions like they have for a long time.

    5 votes
  11. Comment on What's your favorite poem? in ~arts

    Atvelonis
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    I know very little about poetry, but this is also one of my favorites. What I love most is the rhythm, and the rhyming as you said. Not that I think poetry has to be structured this way to be...

    I know very little about poetry, but this is also one of my favorites. What I love most is the rhythm, and the rhyming as you said. Not that I think poetry has to be structured this way to be appreciable, but there's something very pleasant about reading a poem aloud and having it flow like "The Raven" does.

    1 vote
  12. Comment on I’d like to suggest avoiding long excerpts in ~tildes

    Atvelonis
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    I always share some analysis when I provide an excerpt. It's ingrained: every English teacher I ever had docked points off my grade when I included a quote for no reason.

    I always share some analysis when I provide an excerpt. It's ingrained: every English teacher I ever had docked points off my grade when I included a quote for no reason.

    8 votes
  13. Comment on Where Birds Go to Sleep – Teaser trailer in ~games

    Atvelonis
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    Fair point. I guess it depends on the implementation. My hope is that it plays into a broader narrative and isn't just about micromanaging people for its own sake. A lot of dialogue-driven games...

    Fair point. I guess it depends on the implementation. My hope is that it plays into a broader narrative and isn't just about micromanaging people for its own sake. A lot of dialogue-driven games involve some amount of manipulation of NPCs as it is, so I suppose the only difference here is that the protagonist is treated the same way instead of strictly being a player character.

    1 vote
  14. Comment on Where Birds Go to Sleep – Teaser trailer in ~games

    Atvelonis
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    A coworker recently shared this video with me, and I thought it looked interesting enough to post here. In the past few years I've begun to take more interest in indie games like this. The trailer...

    A coworker recently shared this video with me, and I thought it looked interesting enough to post here. In the past few years I've begun to take more interest in indie games like this. The trailer is pretty ambiguous, but I find the art style captivating, and I like the music a lot. The Steam page gives a bit more description about the game itself:

    Where Birds Go to Sleep is a narrative-driven adventure, an interactive story game set in a fictional Persian-Byzantine-influenced land, brought to life in a painterly artstyle, with voice-acted dialogue and original score.

    The player assumes the role of the unconscious mind of a cruel “criminal-turned-explorer” on a mission to chart a new land. Every choice made by the player is a whisper into the deep recesses of the protagonist’s brain, compelling him to actions which he, or you, might disagree with.

    [...]

    There is no “Mission Failed”; saying “No” opens new avenues. There is no golden path.

    Almost every single choice, no matter how small, has a consequence. Lie to others, and you’ll be more likely to hide the truth from yourself. Fail to justify your actions and you might find your character not heeding your commands.

    [...]

    Explore the mysterious island, unravel its secrets and lies. Shrouded in noxious, mind-altering mist, you must prepare for every journey inland, anticipating the challenges ahead. The provisions are scarce… but the others need them less than you.

    You’re NOT fully in control. You are the whisper in the back of the mind. Manipulate your crew-mates and your protagonist into doing your bidding… and deal with the mental toll with this innovative dialogue dynamic.

    I like this concept a lot! So many video games are strange, self-gratifying power fantasies in ways that they shouldn't be. Being the angel on someone's shoulder (or so I gather) but having to make choices within the confines of what the protagonist's tendencies are is an interesting way to present a complex narrative in a way that isn't completely incongruous with interactions you might have in the real world.

    2 votes
  15. Comment on Weekly coronavirus-related chat, questions, and minor updates - week of August 3 in ~health.coronavirus

    Atvelonis
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    Very good observation from Amanda Mull. I've lived in the northeast for my entire life and grew up in a district that consistently started after Labor Day. I had no idea that any K-12 schools...

    Very good observation from Amanda Mull. I've lived in the northeast for my entire life and grew up in a district that consistently started after Labor Day. I had no idea that any K-12 schools would be reopening for at least another few weeks, and was hoping that some more time could pass for the southern states to hopefully start to flatten their curves before sending students back to school.

    I've previously written comments here supporting in-person learning, especially for younger students, but the photo shown in that tweet doesn't seem to indicate that the district pictured has taken any serious precautions whatsoever to prevent the spread of the virus. No outdoor classrooms, no staggered learning times, no universal mask usage, and no social distancing. That's not a solution to the problem, that's just pretending it doesn't exist.

    I still believe that safe in-person education is possible with the right precautions. An admin at a college I'm affiliated with remarked some time ago that despite housing a substantial number of students since March, including over the whole summer, there was only one case on the entire campus (not even from a student). They expect to see an outbreak on campus when students arrive this month, but have developed a lot of procedures to limit its spread, including several of the things I mentioned above. I was and still am skeptical, but not dismissive.

    The stereotype is that young people don't care about the virus, but my experience—at least with this school and its neighbors—is that they're at least as concerned about it as older folks. These institutions are admittedly cultural oddballs, private liberal arts colleges with relatively small student bodies (~1500) and no fraternity life, but the dialogue among students that I've witnessed has been strongly in favor of protective measures/restrictions. Even students living in frat houses at larger colleges are taking the concept of a living "pod" very seriously. I know it sounds naïve to be optimistic right now, but I don't think we're necessarily going to see the sort of chaos shown in the picture above everywhere in the country. Some places really are taking every step not to be vectors for the disease.

    7 votes
  16. Comment on Seventeen-year-old in Tampa, Florida arrested and accused of "masterminding" the compromises of prominent Twitter accounts on July 15, charged with thirty felonies in ~tech

    Atvelonis
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    I'd like to clarify that I do not condone victim-blaming. In your house analogy, the victim is you. In this Twitter hack, the victims were the users whose accounts were compromised. I'm not...

    I'd like to clarify that I do not condone victim-blaming.

    In your house analogy, the victim is you. In this Twitter hack, the victims were the users whose accounts were compromised. I'm not blaming them for the hack because it's not their fault. My suggestion is that Twitter should take a great deal more responsibility because they designed the system that the victims trusted would not be abused to begin with. The analogy that I'd use would be a company installing a home alarm system in your house, and then not bothering to verify the identify of some random caller (such as a burglar) before giving them access to turn it off. In this situation, you trusted that the product you paid for would work, and further trusted implicitly that the company wouldn't randomly turn it off without your consent. But they did, and that's extremely negligent on their part. Companies get sued all the time for this sort of thing, but with far less success and magnitude than I'd hope for.

    The burglar—or in the case of Twitter, the hacker—should also be punished, because what they did was unethical and damaging. But we can't pretend that Twitter is a victim here. This is a case of pure incompetence. The internet is not new, and this has happened many times in the past. We have a decent sample size of social engineering hacks that a group like Twitter should be more than aware of. Large organizations should be built off of procedures first and people second, and those procedures should be extremely difficult to break. A lenient or gullible employee is a victim of a flawed system just as much as the account-holder is. If I were to punish anyone for a crime here—in addition to the perpetrators—it would be some of Twitter's higher-ups, who were evidently oblivious to the weakness of their database when they had no right to be.

    11 votes