Use Me by Bill Withers

R.I.P. Bill Withers. There’s worse ways to spend an hour than listening to Menagerie. If you prefer to read, try Rolling Stone‘s profile: Bill Withers: The Soul Man Who Walked Away. Questlove says in it, “Questlove. “Jordan’s vertical jump has to be higher than everyone. Michael Jackson has to defy gravity. On the other side of the coin, we’Bill Withers is the closest thing black people have to a Bruce Springsteen.”

Mal on the Street

“In conventional business attire, trusty Mohawk at their side, the two would waylay pedestrians and proprietors. Clandestinely recording each conversation, they would retreat to the curb to rewind: The Mohawk used quarter-inch metal cassettes and rewinding the tapes required the operator to manually turn a handle like a fishing reel. Then they’d hook up the earpiece and listen to their latest. If they only collected usable material every two or three days, they were happy.

The best of these hidden-mike recordings is a long encounter with a druggist, from whom Coyle solicits advice about performing home surgery on Sharpe, who is complaining of chest pains. The druggist is aghast at Coyle’s medical “experience” — third-year high school, plus a few days of home study. They offer to do the surgery in a station wagon outside. The druggist begs them not to, saying they’re running huge risks for no reason. Coyle replies, “He’s willing to take the chance, and it would be very interesting for me.”

-Staff, “Mal on the Street.” SF Weekly. May 25, 1995

Is Now a Good Time to Trip on Psychedelics?

Vice.com asking the important questions. My initial reaction was, “Of course not.” And, “No,” appears to be the ultimate conclusion of the article. But, perhaps a more interesting question than it seems at first.

“It’s sometimes said that a proper trip takes three days: one to prep (especially if you follow more severe protocols around fasting beforehand), one for the trip itself, and one to come down and re-acclimatize to the rigours of reality, which are themselves these days all totally out of whack. Using the time alone to experiment with psychedelics and explore your own interiority seems like a handy idea during this bizarre period of consensual social lockdown…

…Hubbard’s insight was that cultivating comfortable environments would result in drastic, and ideally positive, shifts in the psychedelic experience itself.

The idea was codified in 1964’s The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, co-authored by Leary, Ralph Metzner, and Richard Alpert. ‘The nature of the experience depends almost entirely on set and setting,’ they write, straight off the top. ‘Set denotes the preparation of the individual, including his personality structure and his mood at the time. Setting is physical—the weather, the room’s atmosphere; social—feelings of persons present towards one another; and cultural—prevailing views as to what is real.'”

-John Semley, “You’re Socially Isolating. Is Now a Good Time to Trip on Psychedelics?” Vice.com. March 26, 2020.

See also: Who the Fuck is SWIM?

Tachyon Humble Book Bundle

“Get ready to ride off into the stars and charge into magical battles. We’ve teamed up with Tachyon to provide you with a bundle of imaginative digital sci-fi and fantasy books for your reading pleasure! Get ebooks like Ivory Apples by Lisa Goldstein, The Very Best of Caitlin by R. Kiernan, and Beyond Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.”

Humble Book Bundle: Celebrating 25 Years of Sci-Fi & Fantasy from Tachyon.

Most excited about Jo Walton’s Starlings, The Best of Michael Moorcock, Bruce Sterling’s Pirate Utopia, and Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology in this collection.

Ethan Hein Explains “Let Me Love You” by Ariana Grande

“When I went to listen to the song, I immediately heard all kinds of weird things in the rhythm: that the chords were falling on weak beats, that the downbeat was displaced, that the drum pattern was misaligned somehow. I wasn’t alone in hearing these things…The song might be intended to be romantic, but it’s so chilly and posthuman sounding that it could be a love song about robots. Pop music is weird right now!”

—Ethan Hein, “What is going on in this Ariana Grande song?” EthanHein.com. February 19, 2020

I don’t understand what Ethan is saying, but if I can get my head wrapped around it, it seems like there’s something interesting going on here. Who knew there was so much going on in an Ariana Grande song?

Neil Postman’s Advice on How to Live the Rest of Your Life

7. Establish as many regular routines as possible.
In order to position yourself well to cope with constant change, you should
establish as many predictable structures and routines as possible. The point is
to reduce the number of decisions you have to make about trivial matters. Save
your energy for major questions that arise in our technological society. Regularize the trivial to cope with the significant…

Nystrom’s Nugget #1
Reserve the word ‘friend’ for someone who knew you when you still wore
braces on your teeth, who has on at least one occasion spent the night with you
in a hospital emergency room or police station, and who will without hesitation
commit perjury for you in a court of law. Other people may rightly be called
‘acquaintances.’

13. Read’s Law: Do not trust any group larger than a squad, that is, about
a dozen.

All bureaucracies are alike, their principal characteristic being their wish to
satisfy the rules of the system. Bureaucracies are by nature hostile to individual
differences. Although we pretend institutions care, institutions do not have loyalty, compassion, or feelings, which are human traits…

16. Weingartner’s Law: 95% of everything is nonsense.
Do not allow yourself to become grim about anything. Above all, do not be-
come an ist: a socialist, a feminist, a capitalist, etc. This will help you avoid
hardenings of the categories and help you keep your sense of humor…

19. Divest yourself of your belief in the magical powers of numbers.
Quantification has a very limited effectiveness. Any attempt to apply quantifi-
cation to human affairs represents pure superstition of a medieval kind. Never-theless, modern America is based on counting. We try to redefine non-quantifiable concepts into objective quantities: for example, take the numerical scores given for intelligence tests or for contestants in beauty pageants. This passion for numbers and quantification must be discarded…

Nystrom’s Nugget #5
Do not place too high a value on honesty and plain speaking. You are not wise
enough to know what is the truth, and what seems plain to you may only bring
pain to others.

Postman’s Addendum to Nugget #5: Of all the virtues, the most overrated is
honesty. Honesty is the first refuge of the scoundrel. According to Irish writer
Oliver Goldsmith, the main use of language is to conceal your thoughts, not to
reveal them. In some sense, by suggesting that speaking your mind can be up-
setting, Nugget #5 offers an anti-ventilation theory.

-Janet Sternberg, “Neil Postman’s Advice on How to Live the Rest of Your Life.” Academia.edu. December 8, 2005

h/t Austin Kleon.