Squirrel!

So that thing I can’t talk about is looking more likely to happen, and the rest of my 2015 is looking increasingly hectic, so (with the exception of the occasional Nowa Fantastique reprint) any blog posts I’m likely to make for the next little while will be short on deeply researched science and long on opinion.

Fortunately, I have a lot of opinion. Unfortunately, much of it is wrong. Like, for example, my intermittent belief— although perhaps “faint hope” would be a better term— that we Canadians are not, after all, such a profoundly stupid people.

What galls me is that this particular belief was so hard-won. It had to fight upstream against years of evidence to the contrary. After all, we were the nation that voted for the government of Stephen Harper— not once, not twice, but three times, ending in a majority. The administration that quit Kyoto; that muzzles Elections officials and gags scientists, that shuts down the collection of new data and destroys archives of old, that literally burns books. The government that audits birdwatching groups if they have the temerity to speak out about protecting bees; that presided over the greatest violation of civil rights, the greatest mass arrest in Canadian History; that suppressed voter turnout in unfriendly ridings through the use of faked robocalls. The government that describes anyone opposed to warrantless online surveillance as pro-pedophile. A government dissolved after being found to be literally in Contempt of Parliament, a government so corrupt that even Brian Mulroney— Brian Goddamn Mulroney— excoriated it.

That government.

And if my hopes have been raised and dashed in the past— if, for example, I begin to take heart in the Tories’ occasional inability to ram through whatever rights-corroding Bill they’ve introduced this week, only to discover how many Canadians actually believe that “if you’re not a terrorist you have nothing to fear“— well, that’s the price I pay for being a perennial optimist. And when the writ was dropped this past summer, the polls gave me such cause for hope. Recession and senate scandals and endless corruption all seemed to be taking their toll. The NDP— the NDP!— was leading in the polls, and the Conservatives were sinking like a bag of shit to the bottom of a swamp. Maybe we weren’t the brightest bunch of vertebrates on the planet, thought I; but if we’re not quite smart enough to turn against the guy who’s been beating us with a stick after five years, at least we seem to be catching on after nine. So I dared to hope again.

Look at us now. Just look at us now:

From Éric Grenier's Poll Tracker, via the CBC.

From Éric Grenier’s Poll Tracker, via the CBC.

What caused the turnaround? The niqab. A bit of cloth draped across the face in deference, apparently, to the demands of one of our more prudish Sky Fairies.

Really? This is the most important thing we have to fight about?  (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

Really? This is the hill we’re gonna die on? (Patrick Doyle/Canadian Press)

Yes, of course it’s dumb. So’s the rosary, the crucifix— all the myriad beads and rattles shaken in thrall to invisible masters of any stripe. (Of course, if you simply dig the iconography as pure fashion statement, more power to you.) So what? Does anyone seriously think that Zunera Ishaq is going to pull a gun at her citizenship ceremony? Does anyone think her religious garb would disguise her, help her escape justice, if she did? You can’t even invoke the argument that she’s being oppressed by a misogynistic culture (actually you can, but it’s irrelevant in this case) because this is pretty obviously something she wants. The mind boggles, to reflect on the sheer idiocy required to think of it as a security issue— more fundamentally, to think that it’s anyone’s fucking business, much less the government’s.

The mind boggles, to see how many Canadians think exactly that.

In a flash, we forget it all: the tar sands, the long-form census, the flouting of electoral laws and the gutting of environmental ones, a foreign policy that has reduced us to an international laughingstock on every front from human rights to the environment to the Middle East.  Warrantless surveillance, a dismal economy, rising unemployment. The criminalisation of free speech and the unsupervised expansion of police powers. A Minister of Science and Technology who describes evolution as a “religious belief”. The evisceration of the CBC. Secret trade deals. Harper waves a colored rag in our faces and right on cue we bark—

Squirrel!

—completely forgetting that we’re chest-deep in quicksand.

My goddamned country.  Modified from "Liza_Tigress".

My goddamned country. (Modified from “Liza_Tigress”.)

It’s worked so well, in fact, that Harper is now musing about passing legislation to ban niqabs from the federal workplace. It doesn’t matter that the federal court has told him to fuck off, that just this week that same court even turned down his lackey’s request for a stay on that verdict, pending appeal. Hell, that all probably helped his cause. And now— now they’re promising to institute an actual honest-to-God fink line to encourage neighbors can snoop on each other and report “barbaric cultural practices.”

Now Muslim women are being physically attacked on the street (not that there’s anything especially new about this, I suspect, beyond the sudden attendant publicity) and Justin Trudeau ineffectually bleats “This is not Canada!” But he’s wrong: this is exactly Canada. Harper’s ploy wouldn’t stand a chance if this wasn’t Canada. And Trudeau should know: he was right there helping Harper build the damn thing when he cravenly supported a panopticon bill redefining “terrorist” as anyone who expresses support for someone the government doesn’t like. And because this is Canada, the only major political party with the ‘nads to vote against C-51 is now trailing badly in the polls.

Don’t talk to me about percentages. Don’t tell me that I’m being too harsh, that two thirds of Canada’s population wouldn’t spit on Harper if he was on fire, that he owes his power entirely to gerrymandered riding boundaries and vote-splitting on the left. That shouldn’t matter. Harper’s contempt for empirical fact, his evangelical devotion to ideology over evidence— his ongoing campaign to actively destroy evidence when it doesn’t accord with said ideology— is so blatant that gerrymandering every riding in the whole damn country shouldn’t be enough to save him in any nation whose mean IQ rises above room temperature. It’s like trying to claim that the USA is not populated by scientific illiterates; you’re not gonna make that case by pointing out that hey, when you give them a multiple-choice question about how long it takes the Earth to circle the sun, only half of them get it wrong.

We’ve learned nothing. Our dalliance with the center wasn’t a considered decision, empirically derived, after all. It was just another distraction— a sparkly thing pounced upon and then forgotten by an electorate with the attention span of a gnat. And once again, my hard-won opinionated optimism proves to be so much shit.

I don’t know whats going to happen in two weeks. I hope conventional wisdom is wrong, that we don’t after all get the government we deserve. But at least you can fly to Iceland now for ninety bucks. Iceland’s nice. They live on geothermal, they jailed their bankers after the meltdown of 2008, and their pop stars sing the praises of biology.

I wonder if their citizenship requirements include a dress code.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Thursday October 08 2015at 09:10 am , filed under rant, scilitics . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

30 Responses to “Squirrel!”

  1. “the price I pay for being a perennial optimist”

    So you’re a fantasist now as well? Because I’m having trouble wrapping my head around a world in which Peter Watts is a perennial optimist. Might as well tell me stories about a sword that eats men’s souls or a magic ring.

  2. It’s why I’m so pissed off all the time. I always expect the best, only to be bitterly disappointed.

  3. Um. Wow. I don’t know what to say.

    Canada was previously almost an option for me if I decided to move out of the US, disqualified only because the winters would probably play havoc with my depression.

    Not anymore, I guess.

    You have my sympathy, for whatever that’s worth.

  4. I think I found Peter’s soulmate.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9oX2xFo7JA4

  5. I went right to a travel sight and looked up the one-way air fare to Iceland – from here in Omaha, NE, USA – and it costs upwards from $2800. I even tried Montreal to Iceland – same prices. Dang. There went my escape.

    What you’re saying is that Canada is more and more like the US, now. Christ, *that’s* depressing.

  6. Damn I miss these rants, Peter. They shake me out of the comfort of my little bubble and remind me that there is a lot of corruption out there and my complacency allows it to exist.

    So I am going to do something about it………..Squirrel. Or maybe not.

    Only when the pain of letting go exceeds the pain of holding on, do we ever change. And that is invariably too late.

  7. Dyslexic; should have said “Only when the pain of holding on exceeds the pain of letting go, do we ever change.

  8. Feel your pain as you might imagine. Literally all but a few media outlets {including some you really wouldn’t expect it from} all carried the water on a phony nuclear material to ISIS story that was a year old as if it were brand new. This just after the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Winner bombed the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize Winner for over half an hour we didn’t do it/we did it by mistake/someone else asked for it/returning fire/whoops our bad/hey, look, Russians.

    By the way, finally sat down with POI after avoiding it on the basis of LOOK-SPIES-AND-COPS-AND-MILITARY-CUZ-THERE-ISN’T-ENOUGH-OF-THAT. You were right, good times in recent seasons that really goes wow-wee at about “M.I.A.”

    Let me return the favor by reminding you that season 2 of American Horror Story to a large degree reminds us of what lead to Canada’s single payer system and idealization of freedom of speech/ thought/ expression, and a general acceptance of atheistic thought. Pretty sure you have been infected by the asylum down here. Of course there are always radicals, but sometimes it’s how much coverage they get compared to the actual-typical.

  9. I should mention that Our Gracious Host is clearly an optimist; despite the depictions of really almost incomprehensibly powerful technologies often controlled by governments or post-governmental authorities almost mindlessly tyrannical in those instances where they deign to notice mere human persons, most of humanity is living, and fairly well… at least at the beginning of those stories.

    @Peter Watts: at right about the same moment you hit the “publish” button for this article, Esquire Magazine asked deep questions about the nature of this election season. So, it’s not just you. More than that, I can’t say, as I’m not allowed to interfere with other countries’ internal political processes. 😉 I do hope that your optimism is not unwarranted.

  10. R. James Gauvreau,

    Nice Peter!,
    you managed to be a meta-pessimist as well, thats just nice…

  11. A quote to put things into perspective.

    We aren’t living in a world where people are becoming more stupid or irrational, people have always made stupid choices and behaved irrationally; it’s the human condition. — Carl Sagan.

    That should cheer you up.

    BTW: I agree in principle with the who gives a monkey about face veils, but I’m of an age where the only people who wore things to cover their faces were the IRA and bank robbers. I still get a flight/fight response when I see them.

  12. Well written and so sad that some Canadians are still *stupid* or blindly following Harper. I think we just have too many “rednecks” in Canada that love his Christian Reform, white power, neighbors snitching potitical views. It scares me that if he and is croonies get in AGAIN, it will be so much worse. I have literally heard people say he has done so much good for our Country. REALLY??? Apparently, there are a lot of people out there taking the “blue pill” still. Sad .. WAKE UP!

  13. @ Mr Non-Entity

    Re Machines Beyond Our Ken
    Convicted by Code

    @ Kat

    Played some MMORPGs in the mid aughties, one mostly in particular. Three times I joined the equivalent of a guild due to bonding with a low-level member and three times eventually found the leader was a fan of George W. Bush who used guild missions to spout political gibberish over our headsets. Twice that person was Canadian.

  14. Between Peter Watts and Margaret Atwood, Canadians are so excited about the dystopian future that they’re voting for it.

  15. Perhaps the best question here is, “how many candidates support the idea of building a wall at the border to keep the Americans out?” And would you overlook other faults to see them into a position to carry through on the campaign pledge? Well, perhaps most of the Canadian readers of this blog wouldn’t, but what about the rest of Canada? :)

  16. It seems to me that our gracious host is labouring under the impression that the average Canadian has his attention span, intellectual integrity and mental abilities.

    If only.

    What’s there to be outraged about really? People are dumb, easily manipulated and driven to distraction by popular culture. Manipulating people this way is ..well.. as old as mass media itself.

    Dog chases his own tail story.

    Yawn.

    Be glad you don’t live in an even more dismal country. South Africa for example – president casually mentions that you better donate to the ANC, and best a six-figure sum, or otherwise your business is “in danger”.

    There is a long way to the bottom for Canada, so why not enjoy the decline? Provided no contagious immortality-granting virus gets you, you’re gonna be dead years before it gets really bad.

    Harper’s contempt for empirical fact, his evangelical devotion to ideology over evidence— his ongoing campaign to actively destroy evidence when it doesn’t accord with said ideology..

    Typical human leader behavior.
    What are you outraged about .. again?

    Take off the pink-tinted glasses. Or something.

  17. @Y

    But there was at some point in the recent past at least a nod to the will of the people, a need to at least pretend to be catering to their needs while quietly pocketing that money from ALEX or whichever special business interest lobby. All of that has been systematically replaced with decades of research on how to generate the kinds of things like “Reefer Madness” and blaming the help for the death of oligarch kids for legal cover. Yeah, it’s not new, but it almost exclusively pushes today in one direction unopposed. Jefferson, Hamilton and Burr at least had different ideas to lie about when their partisan papers dueled in the court of public opinion. Now, they create completely false stories and then print them, which is a step beyond even the Dick Cheney-Judith Miller-Dick Cheney “news” cycle. It’s an epidemic, an idea plague.

  18. @Y, whoever:

    Every once in a while I get this thought-flashback to something Philip K Dick was onto in “Valis”, where there is this recurrent notion of “the Empire Never Died”. If you wanted to be terribly “alternative history” about it, you could suppose that the Chinese “Treasure Fleet” did in fact discover the Americas and had brief contact with whichever native civilizations had a Pacific Coast presence; brief explorations to the interior returned tales to the Chinese Imperial Court of a power which might not merely rival, but outshine, the Chinese civilization. In this alternative history, the Chinese are so utterly shocked that they turn inwards, attempting to hide all signs of their own wealth, lest those over-the-sea people discover them and bring them down. Exploration is banned, as is all sea-based trading. Aside from the First Contact bits, this is all true enough.

    Now, let’s step forward through “history” with the idea that everything since the time of the “Treasure Fleet” has been guided by the idea that the world is a sphere, entire continents full of wealth remain undiscovered or at least popularly unknown. (We know that the Scandinavian seafarers were well aware of the Canadian Maritimes but apparently never made it south of the Bay of Fundy.) For a few centuries nobody dares to venture into the Americas because the logistics to support invasion aren’t available and the natives won’t allow colonization. The discovery of utter susceptibility to the poxes is serendipity; and, as the natives depopulate, the Church Powers launch their takeover of the vacated spaces… often disguised as an opportunity for religious freedom.

    If you’re going to rule with an iron fist of despotry, the first thing you need is a high-enough broad-based population density such that people can’t just walk away from it. That was a lesson known from the Roman days, when people submitted to the will of the Emperor because there was no escape from it. That system broke down with the Black Death, and what rose in its place was the Enlightenment. That would have been a surprise in the case of any long-term plans but in the end, even in the formerly depopulated and vast Americas, eventually there would be enough people to have an inescapable law.

    How do you get people to continue to increase the population to the point where you can impose despotry and there’s no place left to walk to to escape it? You offer Freedom! Freedom in proportion to the difficulty of settlement! “The Empire never died”, according to Dick; it was just waiting around in hiding, until conditions were such that it could flower back into feudalism and there would be no escape from it.

    So, what places are left, under this extended madcap theory? Places to which people could flee for their freedom from despotry and arbitrary government by individuals rather than laws? From which individuals could gather to oppose the imposition of Empire? Canada, maybe Alaska, parts of the US West…

    But under this theory, which is of course just more bad science fiction, Canada has finally reached the population density, across-the-board, where the Empire can reassert, and it was the final refuge. As in the US, it won’t matter what the People want, they will get what the political machine thinks will best entrench its own power.

    I deeply apologize if I just filled your screen with several paragraphs of “it goes without saying”.

    Hopefully the voters will prove the pessimists wrong, or at least allow the optimists some hope.

  19. @Mr Non-Entity

    Think satellites and drones have really made it so there’s No Place to Hide. Except maybe BRIC, but that’s clearly temporary, another main goal of the undying empire, and not in most cases pleasant places to be either.

    Think the key is how we adapt to it. I sometimes envy those who had the option.

    Sounds like a Bond film theme song.

  20. Except maybe BRIC, but that’s clearly temporary, another main goal of the undying empire, and not in most cases pleasant places to be either.

    ‘Pleasant places’.

    What, Siberia not good enough for you?

  21. Mr Non-Entity: That was a lesson known from the Roman days, when people submitted to the will of the Emperor because there was no escape from it. That system broke down with the Black Death, and what rose in its place was the Enlightenment.

    I don’t follow. The authority of the Roman state in Europe pretty much disappeared after the 5th century AD. Dark Ages had no proper empires, and state authority was generally very tenuous.

    Mr Non-Entity: You offer Freedom! Freedom in proportion to the difficulty of settlement! “The Empire never died”, according to Dick; it was just waiting around in hiding, until conditions were such that it could flower back into feudalism and there would be no escape from it.

    The ’empire’ is in human DNA. People have been bred to be compliant, especially noticeable in certain ethnics.

    Weird that Dick failed to notice that.

  22. @Y: I don’t follow. The authority of the Roman state in Europe pretty much disappeared after the 5th century AD. Dark Ages had no proper empires, and state authority was generally very tenuous.

    True enough, with some exceptions not within the scope of this, since I don’t want to drop 500 megs of text into the entry window. However, the Empire certainly persisted in the East, eventually evolving into Byzantium and arguably it absorbed the Ottomans culturally as much as the Ottomans absorbed it in military-statist terms. That being said, whether it’s Roman Western, Roman Eastern, Ottoman, Han, British, or whatever… maybe the best defining criteria of “empire” is that no matter where you go, they can find you and deliver a sentence. Back to context, even if that sentence is “don’t discuss that we believe that there are huge continents on the other side of this globe on which we live”.

    The ‘empire’ is in human DNA. People have been bred to be compliant, especially noticeable in certain ethnics. […] Weird that Dick failed to notice that.

    Ah, I know what you mean. My ancestry is largely Germanic and in discussion with others such, a conclusion is repeatedly reached about the inherent docility, in some meanings of the term, of a people with such a warlike reputation. I believe the summary is that we inherently form large straight lines behind twisted devious leadership. I think it’s more complex than that, and has much to do with being a combination of hunter-gatherers with a really long settlement pattern of wandering and gathering during the warm months and laying it up for deep winters. IIRC even Tacitus pointed out that if you wanted to punish the Germans, you don’t meet them in a summer battle or it will be the end of you; you wait until fall and destroy their storehouses, and those who don’t capitulate will freeze starving and they all know it in their very bones. IIRC pretty much every petty lord that followed after that time took that approach, to the point where by the beginning of modern times, most of the germanic peoples had no particular concern about who might be the king, so long as they and their farms and storehouses were left to follow the courses of the year and the respective works of the various seasons. Then again, see Tacitus (et al) on the Chatti, rather notable for handling long supply lines about as well as did the Romans beyond the limnes, as well as for building storehouses that were really hard to find and harder to destroy. I would hazard to say that history has rewarded their posterity by using them up as shock troops and cannon fodder… until possibly the majority of them either defected in war or migrated in peacetime to the Americas, or at least out of Europe. Most people don’t know much about the Chatti, or Hessens, beyond the legends, or that first year in Latin studies where they are consistently mistranslated as “these Germans carry shovels, and dig holes everywhere they go”. Good soldiers and farmers in the modern day, but I think more likely to gripe about encroaching tyranny than they are to actually do much to try to avert it, other than maybe voting for liberal candidates. Of those elder-days types who swore to devote their lives, fortunes, and honor to combating “empire”, I think few are left.

  23. Mr Non-Entity: Of those elder-days types who swore to devote their lives, fortunes, and honor to combating “empire”, I think few are left.

    And is it such a bad thing? Richard K.Morgan sort-of was aiming in the right direction with his ‘Black Man’ book. Ancient people were more violent, less compliant and all that – but these characteristics today would lead to a much higher crime rate. Violence has been selected out of Europeans due to about 800 years of genetic pacification. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25748943).

    The paper is by two N’American dissidents* – if anyone qualified can chime in whether killing off the most violent 1% of each generation would cause noticeable results after 40 generations… I’d like to hear from them.

    Germans are still way more individualistic and creative than east Asians. So, perhaps they’ve been bred for being a little more compliant, but it’s not reached problematic proportions. Even the east Asians, while quite conformist don’t seem to be so conformist as to pose a problem.

    There is a nice study purporting to prove the Asian /Euro gap in scientific prizes can be neatly explained by pointing out the non-homogenous distribution of personality traits across these racial groups.

    *at least Harpending has an SPLC page, Frost’s profile is too low but no doubt he’ll get one in due time if it rises.

  24. Well, it may be that the Germans in Germany, post-war, did a great deal of introspection for understandable reasons, and set about altering some of their cultural precepts, but it’s a far different thing to compare culture to genetics. Some time ago I read a pretty good paper on traditional cultural precepts of Vietnam’s rural villages, as an influence in the emergence of east-asian criminal gangs here in the US, there being at that time some fairly significant problems within the immigrant community, of gangsters doing home-invasions and kidnappings of wealthier immigrants of the same ethnicity. (I apologize for being unable to provide a reference at this moment; that was 1997 or so and the paper was up for only about 3 months.) Yet there was demonstrably not a total lack of individuals willing to do violence to individuals and families, for cultural reasons of those people being seen as being wealth-hogs, a very bad thing to be in a rural village culture where everyone was living on the edge of starvation. There might be an interesting paper in a contrast-and-compare of post-WWII Germany in the hard times of rebuilding, and impoverished rural Vietnamese village culture.

    While the Vietnamese clearly had a notion comparable to “Robin Hood and his Merry Men”, I am less certain that the Germans in Germany ever had such a motivational myth. Currently I am reading in Otterness, “Becoming German”, and at least in the situation of the Palatine Migration to New York (1709 onward), there’s an interesting mix of group defiance of authority and cowed submission to whoever had the better weapons or larger numbers at the moment, a tendency to play off any given authority against any other given authorities that might possibly grant better terms, and in the absence of anything resembling a negotiated settlement remotely in the Germans’ favor, to pretty much pack up and move as a group, as far beyond the reach of said authorities as they could go. This turned out to cause many of the individuals dealing with the Germans to despair of them ever being of any use to anyone other than themselves, but this fit right in with the political powers’ plans to use the Germans as a buffer zone in the far frontier, more or less settled as cannon-fodder in zones of contention.

    Thus, while the Germans in Germany might be suspected of being “bred” more towards submission to — and cooperation with — authority, the Germans in the Americas might be more suspected of being bred to fight tooth and nail as strangers in a strange land contending against the natives on the one hand and the invading government on the other hand. Yet contrast the frontier colonials migrating mostly for opportunity to own and develop new large farms, with the pacifist settlers such as the Anabaptists. In the modern day, they are extremely submissive to authority, so long as it is only their own religious leadership and community norms, to the pointed exclusion and denial of “the English”. They don’t resist violently but their resistance is legendary and rightly so.

    I suppose that if I have a point, it might be that the characters of peoples are bred more by history and locale than by anything else, and when locales are changed and history diverges, the characters of peoples can probably change far faster than we could predict from any theory of breeding or selection. To try to pull some relevance out of this, with respect to the original posting from Our Gracious Host, the Canadians of all of their varied stripes seem poised on a cusp of deciding whence and whither the future of Canada. To us Americans they’ve always had this slightly strange flavor of being at least as freedom-loving as we are, yet, perhaps even more highly respecting of the traditions of their history of governance. Moreso even than in the States, there seems to have been a lot of “that government governs best, which governs least”, yet here they are with this cultural drift towards Statism and nobody seems to know where it came from. It would be easy to point fingers south and blame the States, if there weren’t such numbers as to suggest that it couldn’t have any origins other than internally. Perhaps it really is the case that, no matter where you go, the majority of people are sheep and are easily led, whether for good or for ill. But what are the alternatives to Democracy?

  25. Congrats, in so far as this will help.

    CBC calling it for the liberals.

  26. Hey, Peter, I hear something bad happened to Harper!

    Congrats!

  27. 1) As an Australian (who just recently also lost a – less awful – pro-coal, anti-sustainability Prime Minister), congratulations.

    2) If you’re ever in the market for 7 to 25 hours of distraction from being a productive writer (because what writer doesn’t need distractions?), it’d be interesting to hear your take on Soma (http://somagame.com/). It’s a game that seems to take a lot of inspiration from Blindsight and the Rifters books (you’re mentioned as an influence) and present them to the non- book-reading crowd.
    Given the medium, it glosses over a lot. But it has more than I expected, and is internally self-consistent to a much more subtle level than I expected.

  28. Off-topicness.


    UC Berkeley doc looking to create morphing biological objects
    . Mentioning because don’t recall examples of that in Peter’s work. Imagine a “mushroom” that turns from chair to bed. But then imagine trusting it enough to sleep on it. “Feed me, Seymour.”

  29. {Clarification: Not in the stories’ human technology.}

  30. Ike: If you’re ever in the market for 7 to 25 hours of distraction from being a productive writer (because what writer doesn’t need distractions?), it’d be interesting to hear your take on Soma (http://somagame.com/). It’s a game that seems to take a lot of inspiration from Blindsight and the Rifters books (you’re mentioned as an influence) and present them to the non- book-reading crowd.

    I’m aware of Soma, and interested in it, and wish I lived in a world where being “an infuence” got you royalties of some kind. I’d very much like to play it at some point, once I’ve discharged my current obligations. Also I should wait until I take back possession of the big honking box that used to be my default gaming machine. (I got so sick of the fucking thing and its constant loss of functionality every time OpenSuse updated that, months ago, I gave it back to the guy who built it. But given the wretchedness of Windows 10, I’ve since decided it’s the lesser evil. Once Win7 goes out of style there really won’t be any alternative to Linux if you don’t want all your keystrokes noted and logged.)