Celebrating 20 years of Pokémon Snap

207 words

Pokémon Snap first came out today 20 years ago. It is an on-rails shooter game. You’re in a car that drives around an island filled and your goal is to take pretty pictures of the pokémon that live there. It was one of my favourite games when I was little. Its relaxing gameplay and cute jokes still managed to put a smile on my face when I played the game again recently for the first time in years.

“apple-shaped food”

It takes only a couple hours to take a picture of every pokemon in the game, though with high variance since some pokemon are really tricky to find. The game feels quite modern despite its age.

At the end of every course you can show a number of photos to Professor Oak and he will rate their quality on a couple different aspects, like how well the pokémon fits in the frame and if they are in a nice pose. The amazing thing is that algorithm almost exactly matches my own opinion of which photos are good. You don’t see that often in algorithms.

The original Pokémon Snap website is surprisingly still online. It is blazingly fast. Wirth’s law is my least favourite law of nature.

Abstinence-Only Education Criticism | Part 2

172 wordsDue to recent events, here is a part 2 to my earlier post on abstinence “treatment”. Slightly more personal this time.

Eating Disorders

Reddit just banned /r/ProED and /r/ProEDmemes. I’m not sure what to say, other than that it sucks.

I’ve never had an eating disorder. I’ve flirted with it and my eating has never been healthy, but it has never interfered with my day-to-day functioning.

I liked ProEDmemes. Many posts were relatable, and the community has helped me through some dark spots. The people were lovely and caring, it was a place to relate and to vent. It wasn’t a place where eating disorders were encouraged, but one where eating disorders were accepted and everyone could work it out on their own pace, sharing and receiving help along the way.

Reddit is really convenient. You can easily participate in many different communities at once, so any single community can survive even when little fresh content gets posted. But for vulnerable communities, it doesn’t work so well.

I miss the old internet.

What am I feeling

317 wordsWhat do normal humans look like? Have my arms always looked this out of place? Are my arms too long or too short? Too wide or too narrow? They are wrong, but I can’t quite put my finger on what part is wrong.

My face looks off. All its parts have the wrong shape, size and location. My head looks fake and silly, not like heads are supposed to look.

Proprioception is bothering me. It constantly makes me aware of where my left leg is, even when I’m trying to concentrate on things that have nothing to do with anyone’s left leg. What’s up with that? Why a leg, why only the left one?

I want loud music, I want to stand outside in the cold, I want physical sensations. Anything to stop the goddamn noise.

I press my tongue against my teeth. Have my teeth always been there? They feel too widely spaced and too narrowly. They are too close to the centre of my jaw. My teeth don’t fit in my mouth and they definitely shouldn’t be where they are now. I want to grab a hammer and smash them from my skull.

Has my hair always looked this ridiculous?

All proprioception is too present right now, all over my body. My ears are bombarding my brain even though the world is quiet. My eyes are doing something equivalent that I can’t describe. My skin is crawling, itching to be cut. I wish my senses could turn off for an hour; I want some rest.

Everything about my body is deformed and in the wrong place and feels like it doesn’t belong.

Isn’t it strange that depression dampens your colour vision while also heightening proprioception? Because hypomania increases both and depression should be the opposite of hypomania.

I feel like a stranger in my own body. Maybe I would feel like a stranger in any body.

Language policy for this blog

349 wordsSee also: content policy for this blog.

I have a habit of using ableist slurs. I used to think those words weren’t ableist at all, or maybe that ableism in that sense wasn’t bad. I have learned to think otherwise, mainly from this series of blog posts. Those posts highlight one important reason for avoiding certain words: it’s lazy language.

 “stupid” isn’t constructive. You’re not criticizing… you’re just denigrating. The other person can’t learn anything from being told that their idea is “stupid”. Like I said before… it’s lazy. It elucidates absolutely nothing.

Instead, you could be constructive. You could say “that’s a bad idea, and here’s why” or “I think you made a big mistake there. You should have done this, instead” or “I don’t know if I like that choice. Here’s a better one.” Explain why you don’t like whatever it is, instead of just calling it “stupid”.

Don’t have the time to go into specifics? It’s still better to just say something like “nah, that’s a bad idea” or “you know what? No. I’m against that” and move on than to say “that’s stupid”. Even when you’re using it against ideas or actions or such, there’s still splash damage.

Avoiding certain words forces you to be more articulate. To be more constructive in your criticism. To apply a growth mindset towards the outgroup.

(I am NOT saying that intelligence is a completely non-existent property. Some people are mentally impaired in ways that chronically prevent them from functioning normally, and it is harmful to think that this is not the case. I am saying that for most people, most of their usage of those words is inappropriate and harms their communication.)

Not only is there a practical advantage; using inherent properties of people as slurs is not so nice. I don’t feel welcome if I hear people use “gay” as a slur, so I should probably not use ableist language either.

Want to try this as well? Do read a list of alternative words like this one.  My favourite default replacements are:

  • Stupid -> willfully ignorant/frustrating/obnoxious/unfathomable
  • Crazy -> fascinating/amazing/extreme
  • Lame -> bad/awful/inadequate

Rules for writing this blog

629 wordsDear future me,

In this post, I will state some ground rules that you have to follow for blogging. Your sense of self-commitment should be enough to stick to those rules, but in case it is not, I will try to give reasons that should convince you.

Purpose

The primary purpose of this blog is to get better at writing. You have to write things that are challenging to write. Here are some different suggestions:

  1. Commentary: write an opinion piece, review a book or movie, criticise a policy or organisation. The challenge in these is to achieve multiple ends simultaneously: get your opinion across, be fair and intellectually honest, and be nice.
  2. Things you don’t understand: try to see how smart you can sound while talking about things you have little clue about. Be willing to put your understanding of a topic in words, even if you feel like you don’t understand it very well.
  3. Different writing formats: look around for fun writing formats and try to emulate them. In particular, you should try Buzzfeed, Vice, Math with Bad Drawings and Slate Star Codex.
  4. Bridge a gap in knowledge and caring: communicating is hard when people don’t know of each other how much they know of a topic, and when you know a lot about something, it is easy to overestimate how anyone else knows. Find topics where you can practice this.

I know you like writing about your favourite science experiments and you want to share your favourite tofu recipe, but you should wait a bit for that, gain some more writing experience. Critically review your earlier writing on that [not on this blog], then you can write it anew. No sharing of content for the sake of sharing content, only write the stuff you feel you would learn a lot from. This blog is for you to write, not for visitors to read.

A secondary purpose of this blog is to get more insight into the things you read. How much does someone need to know to seem knowledgeable? Are articles typically too long or too short to really make their point? Does having to produce a lot of content negatively impact how interesting it is?

The Rules

    • Every post should satisfy at least one of the following:
      • have a topic different from all previous things you have read in your life
      • be about your personal feelings,
      • have content that people can disagree with. Be provocative. Does your desired topic not satisfy this rule? Push it further and further until it does. This criterium should overrule your desire for global consistency, though local consistency within a single post should still be aimed for.
  • At least one blog post should go up every weekend. Try to write it in that same weekend, though allowance is made for when you are abroad for work.
  • Every once in a while, take a critical look at some earlier posts and see where you can improve. There are probably online communities of people who do this for each other. Consider joining one of those.

Just in case you do get readers at some point, it might be good to preface some posts with a short note about the intended audience? Think about this for a bit.

Silent edits are allowed up to 7 days after posting, as is adding links to the new article in old articles. After these 7 days, edits are only allowed to be of the following form. Inconsiderate viewpoint. [edit: past me held problematic opinions, sorry for that.]

Closing

You should stick to these rules for at least one year. After that, I invite you to evaluate the results, change some of the rules where necessary, and keep to them for another year. Good luck.

Forever yours,

Past me