lost time incident 32 – truth hurts I know


lost time incident 32
Welcome back, fellow travelers! This week, we’re taking a break from fiction. In the newsletter below, you’ll see something from Twitter, some photos I took in El Cerrito of some sad person’s desperate graffiti, and a sight gag from a game I’m playing.

You want fiction? Come back next week. Maybe. Who can foresee the future?

If any words are okay, welcome welcome. Have a few more words: these extra words right here are for you. Fill your pockets. Fill your shoes.



twitter magic

among_the_quiet_books_pixlrTurns out jokes about librarians spread pretty fast if someone you know is a librarian. This joke ended up becoming my third most popular tweet, edging out my pinned tweet (which is the one that all the porn bots like to favorite)!


end is always near

endisnear_pixlrI was out in the neighborhood yesterday, off to get some grocery shopping in, and I decided to walk alongside a nearby stream. This stream runs along Albany Hill and faces the backs of several buildings where I noticed that someone had contributed a run of desperate messages among the usual graffiti.

It was all apocalyptic in tone. I would characterize it as “right-wing, religious, and terrified.” Conspiracy theory references alternated with requests to find Jesus. Climate change is real, but Sandy Hook wasn’t. We’re all doomed, blah blah blah. Talk radio and/or the internet had filled the writer full of paranoia, so it was a good thing their religion had all the answers.
endiscomingsoon_pixlrBut you know what? I’m of the firm opinion that every one of us has a fair amount of the non-rational bouncing around in our heads. We’re just not motivated enough to grab a marker. Or we have enough wherewithal to doubt the voices in our heads when they get superstitious.

For example: Even though human history is full of people who were positive they were living during the End Times, like this person, at some point one of these generations is going to be correct. On the one hand, humans have survived wars, drought, floods, political upheaval, natural disasters. On the other, July was the hottest month this planet has had since we started keeping track… the 15th record-breaking month in a row. I find myself wondering if I’m going to live long enough to experience a societal collapse thanks to climate-related upheaval. I’m gonna be too old to food riot with any enthusiasm.

My dumb mammal brain struggles with questions like “Why is there something instead of nothing?” and “Why are we here?” It hasn’t helped much to believe that the human ability to understand the concept of “why” was an evolutionary fluke that we happen to benefit from. “Why” is useful for planning, and for understanding cause and effect, but it had an unintended side effect of making us think everything has a cause and purpose. Even when the universe is demonstrably absurd.

Tiger got to hunt,
Bird got to fly;
Man got to sit and wonder, “Why, why, why?”

Tiger got to sleep,
Bird got to land;
Man got to tell himself he understand.

— Kurt Vonnegut, CAT’S CRADLE

I’ve had the thought that since we’re getting better at creating fictional worlds in our video games, creating detailed virtual worlds, that it’s not a great leap to wonder if this universe we live in is a simulation as well. After all, statistically, you only need one universe to be real, but in that universe, an infinite number of additional universes could be simulated. That being the case, the odds are against anyone existing in the “real” universe, as opposed to being in a simulation.

Is my life, with its repetitive tasks, some other entity’s normcore simulator game? If so— and if this hypothetical player could choose any time in human history to play in— wouldn’t they be interested in seeing how things end? Wouldn’t their game be more interesting if set against a backdrop of extinction?

Crazy thoughts. But not worth writing on walls about.

… he wrote in his newsletter, smugly.


as a favor

mechanistturnback_pixlrI’ve been spending time in the world of Fallout 4 again. I set the game down for a while because I had engaged in too many “fetch quests” in a row and had gotten bored. (A fetch quest is when a character in a game asks you to go on a long journey across the map to do something not terribly difficult, then gives you a reward that doesn’t seem commensurate with the rate you should be charging as the wasteland’s most deadly hero. More often than not, it’s then immediately followed up with a request for another, similar favor.)

A video game shouldn’t feel like a part time job, you know?

But the game added some new content recently, so with a renewed sense of discovery, I went back to post-nuclear Boston. I’ve been having fun building murderous robots, building bear traps and luring bad guys (who are not bears) into them, and building signage that brands this apocalyptic nightmare world with my particular sensibilities.


ending theme song
Today, Amanda and I joined a longtime friend to go hunting for donuts. We bought this friend a calendar full of paintings of donuts from the San Francisco Bay Area, not realizing that this gift would be received as a dare to visit every month’s donut shop. Today’s hunt took us to Treasure Island and a flea market, where our donuts awaited in a back lot, from a food truck.

Lovely views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge out there.

Good luck finding your own views and your own donuts this week. That’s your homework.

—Michael Van Vleet