What’s Wrong With This Picture.

A snapshot of the past work week:

Research, 5.6 hours. Interviews & columns, 1.4 hours. Blog and website, 3.8h (update: 4.5). Critiquing, 4 hours. Writing (nonfiction— I’ll tell you about it if it doesn’t get rejected), 18.7h. Writing (fiction), 0 hours.

Office work, mainly emails: 12.6 hours.

That’s a pretty-typical 46-hour work week, not counting 3.0 hours spent surfing porn (which is an underestimate overall, but 3.0 during the nine-to-five window anyway). Office work— finances, mailings, trying to figure out why I haven’t been paid for Firefall, but mostly e-mails— devours more time than anything else except actual writing-for-money, and it weighs in at two-thirds of that far-more-respectable activity. 12.6 hours on e-mails. Two work days, with lunch breaks.

If you look closely, you might see something else conspicuous in its absence: there’s no field for “genre reading”. I don’t mean science reading, or reading to research my own stupid books, or reading under a deadline because someone leaned on me for a blurb. I mean reading for actual goddamn pleasure and enlightenment. Reading to see what tricks my friends and colleagues and role models are up to these days. My writing has grown too inbred even though I’m surrounded by inspiration, whole bookshelves full of novels and stories acquired over the years but never read because some new bit of research was lighting up the feeds, or the column was due, or I’d already skipped running once this week and the plumpness was ratcheting up. That kind of reading. Because it doesn’t just shame me that the only novel I’ve read since the summer was The Martian: it diminishes me too, because I’m losing touch with the rest of the field. I’ve been losing touch for years.

I really need to make a change, and I need to do that before I dive into Intelligent Design.

In the meantime, I watch a lot of TV.

*

I blame you for that, actually. All of you. The people who insisted I shouldn’t have given up on “Agents of SHIELD” after three episodes, because it got really good just thirteen episodes later. Those who admit that sure, “Person of Interest” is formulaic and derivative and badly acted for the first couple of seasons, but if I just hang in there I’ll be treated to a first-rate, intellectually-challenging epic about bootstrapping AI. I blame you all, because my self-esteem issues make me very susceptible to peer pressure, and I’d much rather lay that responsibility on society than on me.

So I’m catching up on SHIELD and sure enough, it gets pretty good around the end of the first season before re-mediocrifying into the second. The BUG and I continue to plow through “Person of Interest”, waiting for some Person therein to become Interesting (when is that going to happen, by the way, and dear God why couldn’t it happen sooner?). “12 Monkeys” started off better than expected, and maintained that high bar right up until the second episode when we were shown a modern mental institution in which a patient— committed for presumably slashing a roomful of throats— is allowed to wander the halls with a scalpel, visiting and threatening other patients who are tied to their beds. Also an institution in which any inmate can apparently make it down into the basement sub-levels (and hence outside) if they’re at least sane enough to open an unlocked door with “This Way to Freedom” stenciled above the knob.

The return of “Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones” and “Orphan Black” all seem so far away, as distant as any star. Thank God Archer’s back, at least.

*

So this is the plan: allocate specific amounts to time for specific activities. Those emails that devour your whole day if you let them, then devour the next with replies to your replies? One hour, every morning. The blog, which all the Winds agree must be fed new material at least three times weekly to stave off being trampled  in the Darwinian meatgrinder of the Midlist Tubthumpathon? One. Hour. Per. Day. Five per week.

If an hour isn’t enough time to keep the emails in check— if they burst Thunderbird at the seams and spill pixels all over my desk— I’ll triage and amputate. (Some folks will have to make peace with the fact that I won’t always get back to them, and when I do I may not have had a chance to read the 50-page pdf on the lachrymal-gland secretions of Bonaparte’s Gulls they sent me.) If a blog post isn’t complete after an hour (and it never will be), I’ll just stop and pick it up the next day, and hope that by the time I finish the fucking thing it won’t be an antique.

Most importantly, I am going to read again. I am going to make the time. I am going to devote one day a week to Morgan and Miéville and Martel and a bunch of other authors whose names don’t even begin with M. I will force my gut to accept that pleasure does not equal unimportance. Henceforth, the mere fact that I enjoy reading will not give “enjoyable reading” the automatic short straw every time a deadline demands I chuck some lesser priority overboard. This is research, dammit. It will make me a better writer even if I don’t find it completely onerous.

Of course, in some ways this isn’t much of a change. My correspondence with many of you has been sporadic for years. Unanswered emails from 2010 still sit in my In box— you can never have too many unfinished tasks hanging over you, right?— but it’s been a long time since I entertained serious hopes of answering them. I’ve got several blog posts lying around in various states of completion— movie reviews, thoughts on time travel in popular culture (go see Predestination, by the way), little self-back-pats about vaguely βehemoth-like sulfur-munchers turning up under the Juan de Fuca Ridge, or hints of large potentially Big-Benian objects lurking undiscovered in the outer reaches of the solar system. (I’ve also been working on a strategy to reduce the number of unarmed civilians killed by police through the implementation of a randomized  tit-for-two-tats strategy of retributive cop-shooting, but I’m still trying to figure out if it’s possible to present such a thesis without being childishly naïve on the one hand or a reactionary asshole on the other.) When it comes to blog posts, the whole hour-a-day law seems great at producing fragments, but not so hot when it comes to finished product. Hell, I’ve had to go way over today’s hour just to get this fucking thing out the door.

Still, there’s something to be said for formalizing the approach. I’d actually planned on doing that before now— hell, I’d be long-since finished The Steel Remains if I’d booted the new schedule up on January 1 as originally planned. But you know. Things got in the way.

No longer. I will read more. I will write more. I will be a receptionist a lot less. Starting now, next week at the latest. Just as soon as I get my In-box down below thirty.

Anybody know when “Hannibal” returns?

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Wednesday January 21 2015at 04:01 pm , filed under misc . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

47 Responses to “What’s Wrong With This Picture.”

  1. Hannibal has been delayed to the summer (as I’m sure many other people here have said).

    I like the Shield and Agent Carter TV series, but they are definitely not must-watch TV. New Justified just started and the new Americans begins in a week or so. Both of those series tend to suck me in more. But this is my first year of trying to be a TV watcher with a new baby; it’s amazing how they change your media-watching habits. Lots of shows go out the window in the quest for sleep or stopping the crying (the baby’s or mine).

  2. ” I will force my gut to accept that pleasure does not equal unimportance.”

    I just witnessed the death of the Protestant Work Ethic.

    Until Easter, maybe.

  3. “The life of a time-traveling Temporal Agent. On his final assignment, he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.” – he’s chasing himself, amiright?

    Peter, I hate to say it but Twitter is the way to go. You won’t have to worry about TV anymore, there won’t be any time. But on the other hand, you will get far less fan email, since people can talk to you on Twitter. You can reply and assuage any guilt in mere seconds!

  4. Sounds like a plan, mon ami. I’m just glad I’m not the only one with multi-year old unanswered mails in my inbox….sitting there like I actually still intend to answer them!

  5. I’m quite curious to see what you’ll think of the Southern Reach books, Mr. Watts. Mind you, the field biology in the first book is a bit, shall we say, handwavey, but they are otherwise quite good IMO.

  6. I just started re-reading The Steel Remains now that Richard Morgan has concluded the trilogy – enjoying it even more the second time around.

  7. There is this sobering thought:

    http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2015/jan/19/three-thousand-books-choose-reading-carefully

    Cut the cord. Life is stupidly too short to watch half assed tv shows..

  8. You’ve obviously been spying on me again, probably sent scramblers to my flat, about my life too.. Nice piece, so I’m going to Tweet about it.

  9. Differing opinion: Giving up TV {except occasionally}, one of the few upsides. When I do watch, I notice that commercials tend to be a lot more annoying now.

  10. Oh, I remember the “huge clots of low-priority emails” problem, as well as the “I fucking hate fucking driving the damned car so bloody much” problem. I’ve eventually found a very effective solution (same for both problems) but given that you are married and not interested in weird-ass relationships, it isn’t gonna work for you.

    Sooooo… I’d suggest dropping television AND yes, “triage and amputate” emails.

    You could just, you know, download shows you’re interested in and binge-watch when you have time (personally, I also tend to purchase a DVD when it becomes available if I liked the show, so as to make sure the creators get something eventually :) . But that’s ONLY if I liked the show)

  11. All work and no play makes Watts a dull boy.
    All play and no work makes Watts a mere boy.

  12. TV Protip: Download what you watch. Watch in VLC. Use the button to speed up playback (I’m not sure if it’s in the interface by default, you may have to manually add it). Put your brain flexibility to work for you. At the first default speedup press (1.5 times normal speed I think?), it seems weirdly fast at first, but your mind adapts remarkably well and soon it seems normal to you. Or at least that’s how it works for me (sometimes I have trouble even telling if it’s on fast-speed, until I go the next notch up and I realize “nope, that’s too fast”). But you get through a 45 minute episode (no commercials either) in 30 minutes. You can go even faster but it’s harder to keep up (I use that mostly for those reality shows that I can’t quite cut the cord on). Maybe don’t use it for EVERYTHING (I certainly don’t), but it helps with the stuff that you’re still watching out of loyalty or the hope that it eventually gets good or that you want to keep up with so that you have something to talk about with people you know who only watch that. (If you object to downloading, you can also do this on certain stream sites… too few of them let you do it directly, but some of them you can just put the stream url in VLC under the menu setting “Open Network Stream”, and you watch it in VLC and can adjust the speed like that)

    I do most of my reading while walking (I walk a long distance to or from work), but I think I recall you’re a jogger, and you’re pressed for time anyway, so, Protip 2: Learn to read while jogging. Okay, that might not be a good idea. But audiobooks might help if you don’t already do that under ‘research’.

  13. I won’t mention the Venture Brothers special that just aired then…damn.

  14. The physical and virtual bookshelf I have in my possession currently has an unread count of, let me check, well into the 80s. And then my friend recently made me fall in love with something and I’m struggling not to go to amazon and order all the books now now now.

    Because the last time I read a book for pleasure? I’m not sure.

    Now granted, have a PhD to finish and a thesis to submit, a defense to prepare (finally on the horizon, you’re btw in the acknowledgements, for things like THIS, because you’re the other end of the spectrum, just saying), but reading to pleasure has been so far away from me, I can barely remember it. I don’t really have a commute, so that’s out.

    I hear you. I haven’t seen anything than my thesis (with the accompanying lab and office) for too long and that, too, has to stop.

    So good luck and a speedy road to recovery.

  15. Greggles: I just witnessed the death of the Protestant Work Ethic.

    Not the death. Just the gagging. I’ll force myself to read for enjoyment, but because I enjoy it I won’t enjoy it.

    Deep down, I remain my father’s son.

    Greg: he’s chasing himself, amiright?

    Well, yeah. That’s always the way these things go. But Predestination has a few levels more recursion than the usual time-travel story, and is much more tightly self-contained, and contains at least one idea I’d describe as truly novel and innovative in an otherwise derivative subgenre, if only the story it’s based on hadn’t come out in the fifties.

    Greg: Twitter is the way to go. You won’t have to worry about TV anymore, there won’t be any time. But on the other hand, you will get far less fan email, since people can talk to you on Twitter. You can reply and assuage any guilt in mere seconds!

    Yes, and when I have something unconventional to say about climate change or necrophiliac rape in diving ducks, I’ll be able to lay out the nuances and subtleties of my position in— what is it, 47-character chunks?— to a twitterverse full of republicans, creationists, and social justice warriors. What could possibly go wrong?

    M.S. Patterson: I’m quite curious to see what you’ll think of the Southern Reach books

    Oh, they’re on the list, for sure.

    Gord Wait: Cut the cord. Life is stupidly too short to watch half assed tv shows..

    We cut the cable years ago. Even got a mass-mailed form grovel from our former provider begging us to reconsider. These days we get by on Bittorrent, Netflix, and VPN.

    01: I’d suggest dropping television AND yes, “triage and amputate” emails.

    You could just, you know, download shows you’re interested in and binge-watch when you have time (personally, I also tend to purchase a DVD when it becomes available if I liked the show, so as to make sure the creators get something eventually :) . But that’s ONLY if I liked the show)

    Done, done, and done. Although I tend to not watch the DVDs even after buying them; my legitimate copies of BB and BSG gather dust on the shelf because playing the ill-gotten video files is just more convenient.

    Peter D: Watch in VLC. Use the button to speed up playback (I’m not sure if it’s in the interface by default, you may have to manually add it). Put your brain flexibility to work for you. At the first default speedup press (1.5 times normal speed I think?), it seems weirdly fast at first, but your mind adapts remarkably well and soon it seems normal to you.

    Huh. Actually, I do use VLC, and I noticed that fast-playback option. I never made it past the “weirdly-fast” phase, though.

    Oddly enough, a few hours after finishing the post last night, we watched the last couple of first-season PoI episodes, and, sure enough, it’s starting to get good.

    Sibylle: I hear you. I haven’t seen anything than my thesis (with the accompanying lab and office) for too long and that, too, has to stop.

    You know what’s weird? When I was working on my thesis, I read for fun a lot. Also played D&D, and went out all the time, nearly got killed once or twice and generally packed a lot more in around the edges of my grad work. Maybe it’s just like that when you’re younger, or maybe writing SF for a living simply hoovers up more time than studying marine mammals. Which is kind of a discomfiting thought.

  16. Just finished The Dark Defiles. I think the trilogy might well be Mr Morgan’s best yet, and that is saying something. Hopefully he is getting HIS workflow sorted so he can deliver the next one, sooner rather than later…

    .. and it’s great to read that you are. Before I started on TDD I was finishing Echopraxia. All I’ve got left in Watts’ World is a couple of shorts in Beyond the Rift. Just no WAY I’m gonna make them last a year!

    We’re talking a year, aren’t we? Till the next novel..? 😉

  17. “Yes, and when I have something unconventional to say about climate change or necrophiliac rape in diving ducks, I’ll be able to lay out the nuances and subtleties of my position in— what is it, 47-character chunks?— to a twitterverse full of republicans, creationists, and social justice warriors. What could possibly go wrong?”

    Just make sure you put a link to your nuanced blog post in your incendiary tweet ;-).

    This is twitter, Peter. There are lots of people a thousand times more offensive than you.

    A couple of examples:

    https://twitter.com/robdelaney/status/545112977687711744

    https://twitter.com/frankieboyle/status/519070662959575040

    Not to mention much bigger targets for the right: https://twitter.com/MMFlint/status/357320166528397312

    You should at least give it a try. All the cool kids are doing it. William Gibson. Charlie Stross. Amanda Palmer. Margaret Atwood ;-).

    Twitter is actually full of interesting people. There are millions of trolls & idiots, but you don’t have to follow or interact with them.

    Really, this is all just selfishness on my part. Whenever I look for someone new to follow, you’re at the top of the list. So hurry up already!

  18. Twitter, hah! As if people on the internet didn’t misunderstand each other enough without being force to fit in 140 characters. Sprinkle a community that promotes out of context and nuance-less tweets and forcefully demotes any afterthought.

    I guess I do kind of like when elon musk and john carmack talks rockets thou.

    I kind of like agent carter, not sure why, but at least the magic men i tight pants keeps squarely in the background.

  19. Like many people I welcomed (and still do) the rise of more intelligent TV. The first season of Person of Interest gave me an epiphany: the show was more like old style TV. It did not insult my intelligence, but I could walk out of the room or zone out for 5 minutes and not miss the crucial character moment that explains some vital aspect of Walter White, Don Draper, whomever. Of course, then they ruined it by making it smarter and more full of arc.

    You might consider watching brain dead, but not utter drivel TV to fulfill the old purpose of TV, falling asleep because reading before bed stirs up the brain. I recommend The Strain or Sleepy Hollow, for that purpose.

  20. Peter.
    Picked up Echopraxia from the library this week. What a pleasure!!
    I’ve been a sci-fi fan for more than 50 years but find authors that really get me excited is harder than it used to be, Mieville, Gibson, etc and now Watts.
    Half finished and I’m already making plans to acquire your catalog. Thanks for the provocative and fascinating extrapolations.

  21. @Peter Watts: You know, the Protestant work ethic isn’t dead in you, as you clearly could have just hung up a sign labelled “Gone Fishin'” and that would have been totally understandable if rather less explanatory.

    Re: TV: I live by the DVR and Netflix. Commercial advertisements, especially after the first time I decide “not interested now and probably not ever”, annoy me to the level of considering them the Bane of Modern Life. I record the early morning news, several hours worth, mostly because the weather lady is one of those matured experts and pretty no-nonsense. She leaves that to the junior anchors. But for all of the 30 minutes of good local weather coverage with various facets of reporting spread across the 2.5 hours of programming, I have to FF past about 1.5 hours of commercials. Daytime television is even worse and I find that the better the prime-time programming, the more commercials, though thankfully not as much as in the off-hours.

    Good stuff in near-real-time: PoI is at a point where the Emergent AI issues are commanding a far greater percentage of episode arc as well as becoming more of the real theme in the season arc. “Elementary” usually manages to serve up at least one really interesting trivia item per episode, frequently you get several. “The Americans” always fascinates because in the first place it’s well written about aliens-in-our-midst and secondly, that stuff was going on all around my environs back in the day. Washington DC was a really interesting place to be during the 1970s/1980s, but the suburbs were even more interesting because that is where most of the “illegals” lived and where they worked.

    Netflix Land, streaming or otherwise: History Channel’s “Vikings” is very well done, even if all of the Vikings are Irish. 😉 While not perfectly accurate history in terms of characters and sequences of events, still it seems to be a very good overview of their lives and culture. “Weeds” is my guilty pleasure, probably because I can imagine that it’s actually happening all across the US with such frequency as to be actually close to “a” normative. Besides, as time goes on, we see some really fine surrealistic Jewish humor, really low-key in most places but this is really a pretty intelligently-written dark comedy. “Helix”? Not too bad. I’ve seen much worse from Crichton.

    As for your reading… hang up the “Gone Fishin'” sign. We’ll understand.

  22. Peter, haha, yeah, the first two years I partied a LOT. I mean more than I have ever partied before in my entire life. And I wouldn’t want to miss this time for the world, I met the most amazing people in this place. But at the same time the project I was/am working on started to fall apart after 1.5 years or so, you know those woes, nothing worked, experiments if they worked didn’t come out as expected, data didn’t make sense and then the standard techniques stopped working also. And I developed severe stress symptoms, including crippling insomnia and at that point you’re just trying to keep it together. In the end in the last year (consequences were no holidays and my friends being really worried about me) I eked out some data that can be called a thesis with some goodwill, but I didn’t really have the time for fun reading (or writing, there’s that). A few light pieces of fiction, but nothing really substantial and non-fiction would have been unretainable in my brain anyway.

    But I’m looking forward to finally making a dent in that pile. And then have fun with science once more.

  23. Seconding the “audiobooks while you run” idea, I used to do it … not entirely sure why I stopped…

  24. @Peter Watts:
    “If an hour isn’t enough time to keep the emails in check— if they burst Thunderbird at the seams and spill pixels all over my desk— I’ll triage and amputate.”

    Working in a corporation, I thought email was the scourge of modern communication (clueless people with too much time discussing an issue in 5-email thread instead of one reply) until I met Twitter (dubious orthography imposed to get your point across in 140 chars, lots of people shouting, nobody really listening).

    Maybe you are at a stage that getting a PA to do the official stuff would make sense? This way you could concentrate on staying up-to-date with the fan mail and science. Eve if it costs money you can try to appraise the time you spend on it yourself that you could be writing your next novel. Also, as for FAQ fan mail I think you could consider hosting a community-powered hive mind bot to take care of the most obvious questions. This way you would become close to Lem agenda-entity that P. K. Dick suspected my compatriot to be 😉

  25. I don’t think Twitter is good for anything but shameless self-promotion or trolling.
    It’s an awful, great whirling cauldron of inanity and insanity.

  26. David Greene: I’ve been a sci-fi fan for more than 50 years but find authors that really get me excited is harder than it used to be, Mieville, Gibson, etc and now Watts.

    When has Miéville* ever written any SF? Has he moved beyond the ‘fantasy on drugs and other opiates’ genre?

  27. My recommendation is to join or form a readers group with like minded people. If done right, it provides a thoughtful, companionable time and the motivation to get at least one Sf book a month read.

    If you are in a sharp group, the other readers will add insight about the book you have read, and gathering intelligence on the current state of writing was one of the stated goals for your reading.

    I would mix it up a bit. We have different categories we like to fill: new author, current work by established author, story story collection, classic, obscure author, something tangental to the field.

  28. Re: Twitter, perhaps just an auto linker to the blog for new posts with periodic notices re appearances, translations, etc. As an advertising tool, which is what you need in order to reach those potential fans, it does work.

    Of course you’re going to get 9 Jethros and Hagathas to every 1 potential customer if not a worse ratio. But most will just sit quietly and listen.

    *** And I will caution on the time wasting. It definitely can do that. ***

    Christ, just broke 1,000 followers a few weeks ago. Thought 900 was gravity or something for months. Would climb, then drop as they realized while funny at times, my stuff is also frequently very disturbing to many. I’m a little miffed at some who followed and then unfollowed. But then there are others I actually try to drive away such as this evening’s illuminatiandyouknowthejewsandgaymarriageandalexjones follower.

    So I would say, IF you can make yourself not fall into rabbit holes, get sucked in to _____bait and _____gate arguments, etc. it would definitely help. The occasional retweet by Scalzi, Gibson, Ashby, Nickle, etc. might help as well, though I typically see David using it for work when I’m paying attention.

    Plus I’ll send you occasional interesting and hilarious links. What could possibly go wrong? :)

  29. As others have said, why not ditch tv altogether and replace it with reading? We ditched it in favour of taking the dog for a walk and really haven’t missed it.

    The big one though is to kill the internet. At 9:30 in the morning, pull the fucking modem’s power cord out and take it down the other end of the house, and only put it back on at night. When we started doing this, the sense of relief was immense, you don’t realise how much of a burden the internet is until you actively start removing it.

  30. Twips:

    In case you do join the twit mindhive, 140 chars, but 136 if you want it retweetable, RT.

    Also, if you start a tweet with someone’s handle, only people who follow you both will see it in their regular timeline. To avoid this, use a period before the handle.

    Also, besides the typical smh, lol, etc., because = bc or cuz, with = w/, and Diane Feinstein = DiFi *, etc.

    * Though I prefer her other name, the Bride of Feinkenstein.

  31. Mark C: We’re talking a year, aren’t we? Till the next novel..?

    We’re talking a year ’til the money runs out, so yeah; I definitely hope the novel will be done by then. Still, even worst-case, you won’t have to wait as long as you did between the last two. Unless I die first.

    Greg: This is twitter, Peter. There are lots of people a thousand times more offensive than you. … Twitter is actually full of interesting people. There are millions of trolls & idiots, but you don’t have to follow or interact with them.

    Yeah, I know. Still. If I have something I think is worth saying, I can say it right here whether it takes 140 characters or 140 thousand. And it’s not as though the world is full of people saying Oh boy, I’d really like to know what Peter Watts thinks about X, but only if he thinks it on twitter. Those who are interested already know where to find me; those who aren’t, by definition, wouldn’t even notice the appearance of yet another Peter Watts on the twitter feeds. So really, what does twitter offer me beyond a chance to look needy?

    PrivateIron: I recommend The Strain or Sleepy Hollow, for that purpose.

    Haven’t seen Sleepy Hollow. The Strain is a not-so-guilty pleasure.

    David Greene: Half finished and I’m already making plans to acquire your catalog.

    Well, if you’ve made it halfway that’s a good sign. The folks who don’t like it have problems long before then.

    Sibylle: you know those woes, nothing worked, experiments if they worked didn’t come out as expected, data didn’t make sense and then the standard techniques stopped working also.

    Oh, I know those woes. Back during my M.Sc I spun my wheels for months on field data that didn’t seem to be yielding any significant results at all. And then— I shit you not— the solution came to me in a dream. I woke up at 2am, sat down with a stats book and coded a rudimentary regression program onto a VIC-20 because the university mainframe wasn’t open until 8am. When the mainframe did open for business, I just used it to confirm what I’d already discovered. I ended up having to fudge my data to make it less significant, because there was no way anyone was going to believe an r-squared greater than 0.9 for field data.

    Those were the days, huh?

    Mike N.: Maybe you are at a stage that getting a PA to do the official stuff would make sense?

    I was at that stage years ago. But there was no way I could afford an assistant then, or now. I thought of trying to conscript one of the step-pones, but they won’t even get off the bed to get their own ice cream when Breaking Bad is on.

    Y.: When has Miéville* ever written any SF?

    Embassytown. Now that’s one I have read over the past few years…

    whoever: Twitter … As an advertising tool, which is what you need in order to reach those potential fans, it does work.

    Again, I’m mystified; if the fan is only “potential”, why would they even be aware of my existence unless someone else referred them? And if someone else referred them, why couldn’t they just refer them to the ‘crawl instead?

    Jeremy Geddes: The big one though is to kill the internet. At 9:30 in the morning, pull the fucking modem’s power cord out and take it down the other end of the house, and only put it back on at night. When we started doing this, the sense of relief was immense, you don’t realise how much of a burden the internet is until you actively start removing it.

    Oh My God. You might as well advocate jumping off a cliff. That’s what it feels like, anyway.

  32. So if you are trying to roll back TV time, I shouldn’t mention that “Better Call Saul” premiers Feb 8th and is already being hailed as greater than “Breaking Bad”, right?

  33. Peter Watts:
    Again, I’m mystified; if the fan is only “potential”, why would they even be aware of my existence unless someone else referred them?And if someone else referred them, why couldn’t they just refer them to the ‘crawl instead?

    Tags and searches. I actually picked a few RTs by popping Echopraxia and using #zombie. At least I assume that was the one since said RTers seemed to be zombie-related. #Vampire and #alien didn’t seem to draw specific accounts like that.

  34. Peter, you can hire a person (may or may not be a corporation!) to run twidder for you.

    While the offerings I am most aware of are business-oriented and pricey, I am reasonably confident one could find you a reasonable offer that would keep your tweeds afloat with mildly sarcastic social commentary and clever self-promotion while refraining from doing outright gauche stuff.

    In the twitter. no one can hear you bot :)

  35. 01,

    You have inspired me to suggest the horrible idea that he have one of the pones make a @GiantSquidDadJokes. I have no idea what kind of Dad jokes he’d make. I imagine Dad jokes are matter to anti-matter GiantSquid jokes, and I have no idea what those tweets would look like.

    Ps. Dad jokes like the ones the dads of Dad Magazine (totally a real magazine) would make.

  36. Ps. I’m having to constrain myself from nerdly enthusing book suggestions at you.

  37. Okay, I gotta ask… this Toast thing, what’s up with that? Have women around me specifically conspired to send me Toast links (or at least post them where I will see them) ? (not that I mind, it seems to have a lot of fabulous humor and good writing, but still, it’s just getting weird, m’am 😉 )

  38. 01,

    I have no idea how I got infected, wish I could tell you. The art history posts may be my favorite.

  39. I don’t know how it works or who does it, but I am fairly certain that there are twitter accounts that are run by companies who gather followers and then hand the account off to someone for a fee. When I first began my second account, started having them follow and I’d follow back. Months later I couldn’t find them and would find I was following someone I never recalled following. Think that’s the game. These accounts usually have an attractive female who offers up relationship wisdom and posts greeting card style images with accompanying text.

    Either that or it’s the Luciferians. Lol.

  40. whoever,

    With me and The Toast it was a chain of blogs I follow that may have the same authors and/or authors who know authors on The Toast. Invariably I’d see links to articles and snarky tweets.

  41. Is it still okay to send refs every now and then? At this point I imagine you find more cog sci refs than I do, so I’m less likely to send things these days. also fun spider and/or other creature cognition things. or things that might affect the distribution of life in the universe (someone just pointed me to “Possible Role of Gamma Ray Bursts on Life Extinction in the Universe” https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.231102 but that might be olds instead of news)

    (maybe I’ll preface subject lines with Trivial: to help filtering)

  42. Sheila:
    whoever,
    With me and The Toast it was a chain of blogs I follow that may have the same authors and/or authors who know authors on The Toast. Invariably I’d see links to articles and snarky tweets.

    Looked it over. That’s a wild site. Get a take-no-prisoners vibe from it but with humor.

    Also sometimes get weird FB requests. I keep everything in the open anyway, so there’s no need to friend creepy, plastic, airbrushed photo profiles with additional shares of baby pics.

    Hm. Maybe there are reptiloids and they have gained access to the web via wifi from the sewers of Anaheim.* Or is it the LDS? Hard to tell.

    :)

    * Rarely watch “reality” TV when bored.

  43. Sheila: You have inspired me to suggest the horrible idea that he have one of the pones make a @GiantSquidDadJokes. I have no idea what kind of Dad jokes he’d make.

    “What did one banana say to the others?”
    “It doesn’t matter, its cries for help as it was cruelly flayed and then devoured were witnessed but unacknowledged, because our hypothetical conscious bananas are subject to the same the bystander effect and diffusion of responsibility that affects people when they’re in a bunch. Get it? In a bunch?”

    Oh, and there’d be a footnote to a cite of an academic journal of the topic.

  44. One more (I promise!):
    “Did you hear about the peanut that was sent to the sea floor?
    Yeah, turns out it was pre-adapted to the stressful conditions because it had so many memories of being a salted. Get it, assaulted?”

  45. 01: While the offerings I am most aware of are business-oriented and pricey, I am reasonably confident one could find you a reasonable offer that would keep your tweeds afloat with mildly sarcastic social commentary and clever self-promotion while refraining from doing outright gauche stuff.

    You’re joking, right?

    Sheila: You have inspired me to suggest the horrible idea that he have one of the pones make a @GiantSquidDadJokes.

    I think they already do that. There tend to be these dark zones on their facebook pages, and God knows what they’re saying on Pinterest and Tumblr and Pictionary or all those other fucking platforms.

    Usually, though, they just make them to my face.

    Sheila: Is it still okay to send refs every now and then?

    Oh, definitely. In fact I encourage it— I just can’t afford to explicitly answer every citation I get, because that involves reading said citation first, which can take hours.

    But send them, for sure. I didn’t state that in the post itself because it would be kind of assholey to say “I’m not going to answer your emails, but y’all continue to keep me up to speed on science, y’hear?” But I was thinking it.

    Peter D: Get it, assaulted?

    I know just how that peanut feels.

    Your jokes, they are meta.

  46. Peter Watts: You’re joking, right?

    No.

    A lot of people that “are just being funny on Tweeder and Fakebook” are “people” only to the extent Greylock Partners is a person.

    Tweeder is especially fertile ground for that kind of activity due to the fact that its character limit makes complex communication hard, thus lowering the “Turing threshold” a team of “identity management specialists” (or for that matter, even a bot) has to pass to maintain the image of a singular consistent person with specific tastes and beliefs.

    So yes, you can hire yourself a company to be you on tweeder, and then you will not be the only you :)
    Very Phildickean, no?

  47. I would love to see a review of Person of Interest when you are done. Or at least brief thoughts. I like it like an archaeology study. It’s watching mainstream america and Hollywood tackle the singularity. It’s a bit like watching a potential prequel to Terminator. It’s also a bit of a bell weather for how far behind Joe Q Public may be on the discourse. Things like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking just this year hearing of the singularity and raising that old alarm bell is … interesting when other people actually in the field have so thoroughly dismantled it
    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2014/02/the-singularity-is-further-tha.html
    http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2014/02/why-ais-wont-ascend-in-blink-of-an-eye.html
    Then again, authorities in one field (say physics, or, weirdly, actors) opinionating about other fields is and old tradition and hilariously wrong nearly always
    https://twitter.com/neiltyson/status/551378648578916353