…Aaaand We’re Back.

You may  have noticed some breakage here at rifters.com over the past week or so: little black diamonds where punctuation should be, graphics failing to load, broken fonts and formats on some of the Blindopraxia pages.  I think the whole site may have vanished briefly, although I can’t be sure.

Basically, the conjunction of some crappy customer service from my previous ISP (Dreamhost) and what looks to be Canada’s imminent caving on a trade deal that not only builds on all the worst aspects of NAFTA, but also bundles the worst elements of the (back from the dead) TPP, finally inspired me to get off my ass and move this site offshore. I’m kind of ashamed it took me this long.

It’s been untenable for a while now, what with the 5-Eyes policy of you spy on our people and we’ll spy on yours to get around domestic privacy legislation.  But the news filtering out from NAFTA suggests that while Canada bitches and moans about Dairy and sunset Clauses, nobody’s raising a peep about IP rules that w0uld essentially give corporations US-style carte blanche to shut down any site, even in Canada, that they don’t like. (To cite one example: “Notice and Takedown” provisions allow corporations to force the removal of websites merely accused of copyright violation, no evidence required.  A number of activist sites— including OpenMedia and the Electronic Frontier Foundationwere recently hit by DMCA takedown notices alleging that they hosted illegal copies of songs by an Australian musician whose work did not, needless to say, actually appear anywhere on the targeted sites. What does appear on those sites is a lot of editorializing and campaigning against things like NAFTA and the DCMA. It is tiredly ironic that their efforts to fight censorship are being censored using the very techniques they’re trying to raise the alarm about.)

Obviously, North America is no place to run a website if you want the option of speaking either freely or privately.  The EU isn’t looking much better.

Iceland, though.

Here’s a country that has freedom from censorship embedded in its constitution. A country that actually jailed its bankers after the Crash of ’08. A country almost entirely energy self-sufficient (well, except for its fishing fleet), a country with the greenest carbon footprint on the planet, the third-safest nation on the globe for data storage and privacy (after Switzerland and Singapore).

It’s also the place I’d like to end up when global civilization collapses.  I have no actual strategy to move me or my family there just yet, but at least I can move rifters.com. So that’s what I’ve done: moved to the Icelandic hosting service called (please God let it be ironic) 1984.

It hasn’t been a seamless transition. Things got broken during the move; a few things still are. I’m gonna be poking around backstage for a while yet, trying to figure out how the <h1> tag on the Sotala and MilZomb pages got screwed up when they worked just fine back in California. Gremlins may have been involved. But for the most part, we’re up and running again, away from the grubby little paws of Trumps and Trudeaus.

Thunder Thighs, my ass. This is gorgeous.

This is basically a test post to make sure everything’s running as well as I hope. If you’ve made it through all the house-keeping, though, here’s a very cool picture to reward your patience: the cover art for the Polish edition of Freeze-Frame Revolution, by an entity going by the name of Dark Crayon. It is amazing.  I loved it on first sight, and continue to love it even after The BUG remarked that it looked as though Sunday Ahzmundin was being squeezed between Giant Thunder Thighs. Even that could not stop me from loving it.

Also I think I may have misconfigured Google Analytics back in North America. I’m not using it here (another long-overdue transition), but according to the stats on this new 1984 board I’ve been underestimating my web traffic by an order of magnitude.

I should be less humble.

Late-breaking Update [0900 EST]: sometime since “qa” left their lonely comment, it has apparently become impossible to post comments on the ‘crawl. I have no idea what the problem is— at least, I haven’t touched anything backstage in the interim. I’ve reached out to tech support. In the meantime, if any of you have thhe time and inclination, how about trying to post a test comment, and— assuming it fails— dropping me a line via the Contact link to mention the symptoms?

Still a few bugs in the system. Thank you for your patience.

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 6th, 2018 at 9:07 am and is filed under public interface. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

25 Responses to “…Aaaand We’re Back.”

  1. qa


    A few glitches though:
    The sidebar is at the bottom on an article page. It looks like it’s inside the wrapper on the home page, but outside the wrapper on the article page.
    Also google analytics urchin.js is still linked.
    Firefox says some of the content is not encrypted (some images are http and the comment form itself…)

  2. Ru

    A test comment

  3. Ru

    Huh. Turns out my awesome web hackery skills haven’t actually rusted to death after all. I honestly did not see that coming.

  4. Steve Halter

    Next Test

  5. Jeremy Crouch

    Hey, just finished reading The FFR! Fantastic stuff! Now I just need to go back and read all of the other The Island and anything else related to this universe.

    I also read Hitchhiker… very nice too. Bit of a cliffhanger though, is the rest coming out any time soon?

  6. Darius_bd

    More testing still underway…

    And kudos for the polish-ed cover!

  7. Peter Watts

    Oh, wait. So can I post now here?

    Earlier today I tried, and the whole damn browser window went white…

  8. Peter Watts

    Hey, it does work!

    Now I can afford to put off fixing those http/s glitches for a bit, and finally finish my advance copy of Thin Air!

  9. Ru

    Probably gremlins.

    Anyway, I was just wandering by to see if you were familiar with the work of Simon Stalenhag? Just got his latest book, and there are some themes that seem strangely familiar… hive minds and immersive VR things, for example. Harder to ask him if he reads your stuff, as he only seems to be on facebook.

    Nice pictures, though.


  10. strangefriend
  11. Nestor

    So apropos of nothing, I recently discovered I can do arithmetic pre-consciously. I have an alarm on my phone that has a captcha, some simple math to solve before the alarm shuts up. I’ve been setting the alarm at 3 a.m. to wake myself up in the middle of the night to enhance my chances of having lucid dreams. I remember the first couple of wakeup, but after that I’ve been waking up and going to sleep too fast for the memory to be saved. I have no idea if I’m fully conscious during these wakeups or not, but I don’t remember them. But in the morning, when the alarm rings (And I usually wake up right before it does) I find I can solve the captcha at a glance, I look at the thing and click the answer, and I couldn’t tell you what I’ve clicked on. This is simple math in the form 9×8+7 with 4 possible answers, but I have a better track record solving it automatically than when I actually pay attention.

    Getting in touch with my inner zombie…

  12. Vithren

    Too late test.

  13. Robert

    Testing — and passing along a cool article (on the small off-chance you haven’t seen it):


  14. Dale L Sproule

    Don’t know why, but I pictured Sunday as being black, or at least brown, and in this version she looks pretty white. But other than destroying my vision, the Dirk Crayon cover is pretty cool.
    Watching intently to see how your Icelandic web host works out. I am looking around for a new webhost…

  15. Hansen

    In the meantime, some interesting (at least for me) news about consciousness has been published, claiming we are conscious only four times each second. In case if should be of interest and is not just some old news:


    “Our subjective experience of the visual world is an illusion,” said Sabine Kastner, a professor of psychology and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (PNI). “Perception is discontinuous, going rhythmically through short time windows when we can perceive more or less.”

    The researchers use different metaphors to describe this throb of attention, including a spotlight that waxes and wanes in its intensity. Four times per second — once every 250 milliseconds — the spotlight dims and the house lights come up. Instead of focusing on the action “onstage,” your brain takes in everything else around you, say the scientists.

    Brain rhythms have been known for almost a century, since electroencephalograms — better known as EEGs — were invented in 1924. “But we didn’t really understand what these rhythms are for,” said Kastner, who was the senior author on both papers. “We can now link brain rhythms for the first time to our behavior, on a moment-to-moment basis. … This is a very surprising finding, more since these rhythmic processes are evolutionarily old — we find them in non-human primates as well as in our own species.”

    This pulsing attention must present an evolutionary advantage, the researchers suggest, perhaps because focusing too intently on one subject could allow a threat to catch us by surprise.

    “Attention is fluid, and you want it to be fluid,” said Fiebelkorn.


    Could this be related to what Stuart Hameroff and others claim?:


    “There’s evidence for this in Buddhism, in which meditators in a deep meditative state report a flickering of their consciousness. They’ve even counted these flickerings and quantified them, and they report them occurring something like every 20 milliseconds, which is basically consistent with the brain’s coherent 40-Hz oscillations. The coherent 40 Hz has been suggested to solve the binding problem we talked about earlier-the unity of a sense of self, binding it all together. I don’t think a temporal correlation per se can explain it, but the 40-Hz coherence might be the clocking mechanism for this sol-gel transformation. The point is, you have these discrete conscious events roughly 40 times a second.”

  16. Ken Kennedy

    Test comment, Mr. Watts!!!

  17. Don Reba

    I assumed it was just normal degradation over time, due to entropy and quantum tunnelling effects.

  18. Peter Watts

    Jeremy Crouch: I also read Hitchhiker… very nice too. Bit of a cliffhanger though, is the rest coming out any time soon?

    It’s all coming out eventually. All 11 billion years or so of it. The rate at which it comes out depends on a whole bunch of variables, sadly. Including how long it takes to fix the moving-day breaks.

    I will admit though, that while I kinda know how “Hitchhiker” ends and what the various payoffs are, I haven’t sketched out the intervening plot details that’ll get me there yet. So there’s still a bit of heavy lifting to go.

    Ru: Anyway, I was just wandering by to see if you were familiar with the work of Simon Stalenhag?

    Is this the guy whose paintings have just been scooped up for some kind of TV adaptation? I’d never heard of him before reading about that, but yes: his work is spooky and evocative.

    Robert: Testing — and passing along a cool article (on the small off-chance you haven’t seen it):

    This looks cool. I will check it out during my next reading binge.

    Hansen: In the meantime, some interesting (at least for me) news about consciousness has been published, claiming we are conscious only four times each second. In case if should be of interest and is not just some old news:

    This too. Based on the abstract it seems very reminiscent of the whole saccadic-vision thing, but I’m guessing that saccadic vision is actually just one small aspect of a larger pattern these guys are talking about.

    Of course, I’m guessing that because I haven’t actually read the paper yet, so bear with me…

    Dale L Sproule: Don’t know why, but I pictured Sunday as being black, or at least brown, and in this version she looks pretty white.

    Oh, Sunday’s brown for sure. But I’m going to grant a bit of leeway here, insofar as anyone left to cool in a hibernaculum for a thousand years is gonna end up looking pretty grey regardless of ethnicity. (I mean, that bloodless pale is pretty much inconsistent with any extant skin tone for our species…)

  19. Anonymous

    Peter Watts,


  20. Deseret

    Off topic hilarity:

    “‪Young blood could be the secret to long-lasting health: study.” https://nypost.com/2018/09/10/young-blood-could-be-the-secret-to-long-lasting-health-study/

    Think there’s some oversimplification/mistakes in the article. Hard to say since the study is behind a paywall.

  21. metacelsus

    Behind a paywall, you say? Just use Sci-Hub: sci-hub.tw/10.1038/s41586-018-0457-8

  22. Omer

    Just finished the FFR and 4 short stories from that universe. Thanks!

    Also, as part of finally ordering all your books which haven’t made it to Israel, have Echopraxia waiting for me.

    So congrats on your move to Iceland, don’t miss the awesome football team!

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  24. David H

    “Unwavering loyalty to our customers and their fundamental rights is a core value of 1984, hence the name to remind us of what can happen if we fall asleep on our watch.”

  25. Helga N

    “It’s also the place I’d like to end up when global civilization collapses.” — Icelander here; Iceland’s food security situation is abysmal (~50% of all food is imported, iirc), so my own end-of-the-world plan involves catching the last plane to mainland Europe.