November 27th, 2021
So I put up a stackoverflow question if anyone wants to take a look and tell me what the ever loving fuck I'm doing wrong. So there's a react application being served server side in python flask which is being called by NGINX (now working apparently), which is being served by a cloudflare CDN (which is accepting the .pem ssl certs which is a positive). There's enough moving pieces that I'm having trouble debugging the application. If anyone has any ideas please let me know. I sort of doubt that any gives a shit, but maybe.
November 26th, 2021
I didn't write yesterday because it was the holidays and I didn't know what to say anyway. I've been looking around for work and I've applied to some places. Hopefully someone comes back to me and says that they want to hire me. Or at least interview me. I'm worried about paying the rent - I might have to start pawning some stuff off. I don't want to do that but I've been out of work for so long that it might come down to it. I won't borrow money from my parents, that's for sure. I don't want them controlling my life. There's a packaging company that says they'll hire immediately but it's for graveyard shift - I don't know that I could actually pull that off without becoming ill. Probably none of the people who are reading this blog care - if at all. But if there's anyone out there that needs some work done. Email me. I'm looking and I'm having a rough time of it.
I once held the belief that I might one day be able to make a living as an author. Silliness. Most likely there have only ever been a few that have ever been able to do so and they have been enormously gifted, crazy, or both. A canard, but if time is finite and a person can only read so many books then why would he read mine? Although that can be applied for almost all books that have ever been written, so why write more? So strange, it's almost like the barber paradox. And yet people keep writing them. There must be a certain amount of pleasure in writing and having the belief that someone will read what you have to say and actually give a shit. There is probably some conservation of giving a shit or a law of some sort because it seems like the amount of giving a shit in the universe is somehow finite. Like time. And you have to have something to say! What could I say in any way that would be meaningful, that would change your life. Or someone else's? I've been told that I write like the last author that I've read (hello Perks of Being a Wallflower - yech). So. What can I do other than, if I want to be an author, commit myself to never reading another book? Confine my enjoyment of literature to those times when I am making rather than consuming it and then spend the rest of my time living. Which in a certain way makes sense - there are few television shows where the people in the show actually watch television (although there are *some* which is both shocking and sad - I've yet to encounter a show about people watching television shows where people watch a television show although I think this is almost inevitable at this point).
November 24th, 2021
A brief note - if there's anything you want me to talk about, please email or message me ( I take requests!
Or just mail me to say hi!
Hi. I've put the chat box on hold until I decide if I want to use NGINX or not. Maybe yes, maybe no. In any case, I thought maybe I would write a little today. There's a small trail near my house that I walk on occasionally, I haven't so much since the weather has become a bit colder, but I just had a small walk through the leaves. It was pleasant. Also House of Leif sent me a little png link tag so that's now on the links page. I've been wandering around the internet recently, as I often do, and I've come across some websites that might be worthwhile - at least on HackerNews there were a couple of articles that seemed to be. One was about a group of people offering online Great Books education as a series. There was a discussion on hackernews that seemed, as these sorts of topics do, to revolve around a few key areas. Should education be about not only how to be proficient in some task (in order to make money), but have worth in and of itself? Sophomorically, the question is a humanistic one. It's also not binary, and arguments treating it as such must be fallacious. An education completely devoted to the humanities with no technical expertise is probably as worthless as an education completely devoted to a practicum with no humanistic guiding principle - at least presumed. And even these examples don't really exist in the wild - even the most technical MIT graduate will have some guiding light that steers there moral and humanistic compass just as the most well read student at St. John's college will be technical enough to use a computer (for the most part).
Since the courses were offered for free the question was also raised about how much presumed value the students could be thought to have from the lecture series. Which brought up questions of what the renumerative worth of education is or ought to be.
I approach this topic in a sort of systems view of the situation. Technical education, because of the way that technology has developed, is more renumerative than a humanities education and so there is more funding. The issue becomes either that a humanities education becomes available only to the wealthy or the elite. So if you want to become a programmer and make a middle class living that's OK, but if you want to be a writer or work as an artist then you must either be very wealthy or willing to live on starvation wages - at least that seems to be the rule for the vast majority. There then becomes the following issue - while the plumbing of society is made by the majority the cultural elites will be able to steer the conversation of what gets built, what it means, how it's appreciated. And this is a level of cultural capital that exists outside of money but they are in a certain sense fungible. And what is at issue here is that while many countries today view themselves as enlightened democracies and pride themselves on the advantages and egalitarian nature of capitalism (that is the majority of countries) this cultural imbalance has existed and continues to exist in many of the same ways as it did 1000 years ago. And in this in no way is an apologia for communism or the stone age - only that the advancement and differentiation of society has not successfully solved "culture". Modern science and technology have improved the comfort and well being of humanity, but still, the question exists. If someone is never taught to question then how rich is their life? Further, *what* is taught in the humanities will, no matter the reassurances provided by the above or like group discussions, always be fraught with contention. When you teach people what and how to think it is always from the viewpoint of the teacher. Consider the following quotation:
Our commitment is to fundamental questions and great books of all traditions. I know the idea of great books triggers certain academic types. We have no agenda to indoctrinate people in any particular set of social or political values. We mostly just want to gain access to the joy at the top of the soul. The Catherine Project’s commitment, borne out beautifully by our seminars thus far, is that great books are supremely egalitarian: They move and challenge us all alike. Indeed, what proves great books great is that they’ve stood the test of time with countless readers of various backgrounds and persuasions. We choose great books not to keep anyone out but to let everyone in.
This argument is well and good. Except for two points. First, time is finite and so there must be some discrimination in the choices selected and the books ought, at least for the sake of discussion, form some coherent whole. As for point two ...
How have my various slow-cookers and I spent the pandemic? Fall 2020: Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Spring 2021: Virgil’s Aeneid and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Fall 2021: Dante’s Comedy (we’re currently ascending Mount Purgatory—our climbing wall!). Two of my most passionate readers in those seminars have been with me on the epic journey ever since Apollo inflicted a plague on the Achaeans. I dare say there are more than a few PhDs in literature who haven’t carefully read all five of these foundational treasures.
So...the guy's a Western classicist. OK! That's cool. There could be some good discussions, people could learn stuff about life. But to say "I know the idea of great books triggers certain academic types. We have no agenda to indoctrinate people in any particular set of social or political values." and then "Fall 2020: Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. Spring 2021: Virgil’s Aeneid and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Fall 2021: Dante’s Comedy" is either willful obtuseness or the guy doesn't take his readers particularly seriously. I won't list all the other books or subject matter which someone else might consider although there could be the great works of different cultures, time periods, political systems, and so forth. By choosing classicism the author is making the distinction that the *way* that classicism makes you think is more worthy than say, reading all of the works of the beatnik art movement in post war 1950s America. But fundamentally he is making the claim, on his own authority, that these are the works that are worth teaching and I think he should state that.
There was an article on web3 that was also on HackerNews that is worth discussing. There was a shoutout to geocities revivalism in the first paragraph or so, but the site didn't mention neocities. Anyway. The entirety of the article was high level and rather breathless, but the discussion on HackerNews had some fair points. There has been a *lot* of hype and bubbles in the crypto space - not only culturally but in actual physical monetary terms, and that is a bit worrying. Over the last couple years there have been runs on a few companies bank shares by the likes of Robinhood and massive speculation in companies like GameStop. There's also the question of whether the amount of overinvestment in technical infrastructure on blockchain technologies is worth it in the long term - technical resources might be able to be used on other projects. The discussion was at times heated.
To talk about this I think it's worthwhile to think about what the internet is like now (for the most part). There are perhaps 5 or so major (english) language websites that control the aggregate flow of information for the vast majority of users. So that would be Google, Reddit, Bing (MSN), Facebook, (maybe?) Instagram ....and who else? Something like a third of all websites are made using a WordPress form. So what does this mean? It means that in order to be listed on the top of google search results the site has to be SEO'd (search engine optimized). There exists a whole profession of people whose job is SEO. And because the real estate on the front page of the internet is rival and the success of any individual SEO optimizer is at the expense of his competitor, these people are a drag on the economy. To the degree that Google provides a "source of truth" for website information - that is, two different people can "google" the same information and believe in it, this might be worthwhile. For example, if I were to ask a stranger on the street how to get to a specific place in the city and they didn't know they would probably do one of the following. They could ignore me, ask someone else, direct me to a place I could buy a map, or tell me to use google maps. As the gatekeeper of information, google (as a major search engine) is not only responsible for being a source of truth (or at least, truth of last resort), but directing someone to the sources of information which themselves could be sources of truth. For example, someone might not know that the waybackmachine exists were it not for Google. And here I am, unfairly, picking on Google. Reddit and Facebook, while not necessarily considered "sources of truth", are sources of culture. The algorithms on both sites are designed to show users what they have clicked on in the past or what generates more site traffic and ad revenue.
Interestingly, and I discovered this in the early days of the internet when the algorithms weren't as sophisticated, a "user personality" can emerge from recommended links. Yahoo groups would only recommend other groups that were similar to groups that you had already joined - the engine would reference links that your subscribing groups linked to. So if you spent a month only looking at "monster trucks" then your recommendation engine would only show monster trucks - *even if* you might also have an interest in planes. Here then we come to the question of perceived sources of authority deriving from power. What responsibility does Google et al. have to it's shareholders to recommend to its users sources of information that not only might not necessarily increase it's revenue, but would recommend sources of information that it's users might like to see? Ultimately it becomes another question of pedagogy - what if it turns out that Google values "classicist" literature as a recommended reading list so to speak? What has happened over the last couple years is that the algorithms have not believed in pedagogy at all but have been self maximizing (and Google too tailors its search results to the user). And what has been the result? Extremists (both liberal and conservative) have found more and more extreme literature or groups to join on their respective platforms - until sites are obligated to delete the groups from their platform. Without changing their algorithms, but rather blaming users for actions they were conditioned to respond to (by upvotes and shares and internet attention). Which is rather irresponsible, at least I think. Human beings have been around for 60,000 years and this level of information overload has existed for what? 30 years tops? Someone can make a silly video on TikTok and a billion people could all see it all at once. Or absolutely no one. And the search engines get to decide.
As a brief aside, neocities is not immune from this criticism (to an extent). It supports IPFS (huzzah!), but in many respects is still a walled garden. Views and viewcount is almost entirely driven by users reading neocities websites (which are pushed to the top of the stack by how often they are updated). In some respects, this is good! It means that websites that have active users will be more often viewed. In others, not so good! It means that websites with users that are active often, but publish content that a user might not want to see are still pushed to the top of the stack. In any case, because there is a search engine and users time is finite, there is a discrimination of content. Because the user base is a small community that is active and rather self referential it's possible to build a following, but within the context of neocities and at the behest of their algorithm. And I'm not complaining! On my roll-your-own python/react website I've had almost no views. It's not SEO'd, which is expensive, so google doesn't list the website at the top of it's index.
So. To say that web 3.0 is overblown is probably true. Yet, blockchain technology has it's conceptual origin in the distributed peer to peer flow of information. It's even in the name - bitcoin was based in some parts conceptually on bittorrent. Which was itself a leap forward from the origins of Napster. There has always been in this ecosystem awash with money and power an undercurrent of egalitarian spirit that seeks to spread information without price. And this latest incarnation in some respects, peer to peer information distribution, is over twenty years old. What then is the marker of a distributed system? Any distributed system only shares content between users that all inherently trust each other. *Without* providing a source of authority over what that content contains. Anonymity is key to the process because by having anonymous stakeholders no user is perceived to be in charge of a collection of content or to be beholden to a collection of content (ie Mary Sue Jenkins doesn't want her username as MarySueJenkins when she downloads music etc...). For the coins, the use of anonymity has been taken a step farther in that the value of the money is guaranteed, but not a (non-anonymized) source or sink.
What I think will happen in the future will be something along the lines of distributed search. Rather than having a single platform (ie Facebook etc) list your friends and how you view their content there will be a collection of users that connect to each other via a distributed ledger. Links are shared across the ledger and your own site has it's own webcrawler. And the algorithm that lists sites and in what order would be, itself, programmable. Fundamentally trust networks will begin to be built from the bottom up rather than the top down.
There are a host of technologies that I think will be complementary to this and may or may not be considered "web 3.0" in the same way. For example AR/VR and 5G. I've talked about this on my other site, but I think that ultimately what will happen is that there will be a merging of 5G, AR, and location based beacons so that there is an overlay virtual space that maps to the real world. Distributed file storage and search indexing will allow users to create their own virtual overlays, while also having access to the overlays of other users (and I'm assuming some sort of public overlay). In each layer the glasses will provide three dimensional holographics that are tagged to location sensors. For certain professions such as engineers there would be specific overlay packages that would access layer information for, a car, let's say. Current virtual reality technologies that rely on bulky headware where a user can't leave their room doesn't seem like it would see mass adoption (outside of video games or something).
I also read yesterday a couple different articles on the meaning of Thanksgiving. As in whether Thanksgiving holds a special place in American history or not. The story, which I will boldly gloss over is that there was a Thanksgiving meal near the end of the harvest season between the Indians (decimated by the plagues brought by the Europeans) and the settlers (starving and raiding grain supplies left by Indian communities). The question was, considering the harm done to the Indians, is Thanksgiving still important? Or should it just be abandoned? For me, the holiday is an international one - at least in terms of what the change of the seasons mean. And I'll state this without any sort of indepth research or citing sources. It wouldn't particularly matter if I did, you'd just have to take someone else's name for it in the end. But, in many cultures, I expect there are feast days when the sun the sun starts sinking below the horizon a little earlier, the days get colder, and the harvest for the year is in. It's a time of loss, for the spring for the summer, for the warm weather and the life it brings with it, but it's also a time of looking forward to the coming winter and thinking of reasons for continuing to move forward. Both a celebration of loss and optimism. Were it that Thanksgiving in America did not exist it would have to be invented. At least that's what I think.
November 23rd, 2021
So it is definitely not possible to do this without NGINX or some other reverse proxy. Fuck. I've written most of the logic besides that so I'll have to think about how I want to do this using NGINX if at all. I mean, I just don't know that I actually give a shit. So. Whoopdefuckindo.
Making a chat application today. Ho hum...but what the fuck else should I put on here anyway? Anyway, in the meantime here's a picture of this cat that I met in Melbourne, Australia. For the life of me I can't remember this kids name, but shit. Wild times. We were all living in hostels and most people were doing what they could to pay their way and going wild. I think the story was that this guy was broke and so he ran around betting people 100 bucks that he had "Thug Life" tattooed on his ass. Or maybe he did it just because he could. Here's to the livers, the dreamers, the doers. The people who say fuck it and jump. (This img may be NSFW - hover to show)...
November 22st, 2021
EDIT: There's now a news ticker. Because why the fuck not? I've set the site data to "hk" (ie Hong Kong) because the characters are pretty and then I don't have to fucking read the news. Go to CNN or something, sheesh.
To all my dogshit scum sucking pieces of shit "neighbors". I *happen* to have an extra $200 just flying around around here. And as it so happens I don't sleep sometimes. And you do. So now I bought a speaker. Pray I do not buy a larger one - as it turns out, loud obnoxious blow me speakers are cheap these days and getting cheaper all the time. We're living in a digital age boys and girls. Shop smart, shop go fuck yourself.
How do you like deez nuts. Eat shit and die screaming. No Tears.
November 21st, 2021
Also, quick question for the class. If you have say an extra $1000 just lying about and you decide, you know what, fuck it, I'm going to stick a box on the back of my car that doesn't make it any faster or more performant but just *louder*, then you are the biggest chuckle fuck on the planet. You could buy a $1000 worth of books, or save it for a rainy day, or fix your house or give to charity. But you decided no, you know what I want to do? I'm tired of pissing off only those people who manage to, because they despise the mere sight of me, do something else far away from my presence. Oh no. I want to make it so they can't even stand to be within earshot of my asshole mobile. How they manage to make enough money to buy kazoos for grown children is beyond me. Absolute cunts. The Fast and The Furious was a satire you ignorant twats.
And here is a tribute to my neighbors, who are living proof that literacy is not a requirement to operate a motor vehicle. EDIT: Management would like to apologize on behalf of douchebags everywhere. Douchebags have a purpose and are often consider useful. Referring to the mouthbreeding, knuckle dragging, reptilian shit boxes that live in close proximity to the author as, quote on quote, "douchebags", was made entirely in jest in an attempt at what is consider, among some circles, as "satire" (quote on quote).
Rainy day today. I don't know what I want to add to the site. Last night I had the hot idea of adding a television aquarium (just a cut out png with a youtube background) which I think is pretty chill. I was thinking of adding a chat application, but... I don't know where I would put the chat dialog. Under the aquarium? Under the file explorer tree (which expands and contracts by the way, so that's not exactly such a hot idea)? And do people even use chat applications all that much rather than just linking to discord? Hmm...I was thinking of adding RSS which is supported by neocities but I've never used RSS and I don't know that many people actually do. I was kind of thinking of adding a scrolling feed of something - the ap wire has a news feed but I think you have to pay for it.
November 20th, 2021
Later that evening...After moving the links menu to the top I had that wide open left side panel. So I put in a folder directory. I can now share files over ssl on my backend on the other site, so I'll store some pictures there and assorted files that will be worthwile - no idea what. Right now there's a volks wagon beetle converted to a half track with stinger missiles, because why the fuck not, amirite ladies? Anyway, there's also now a link to "youarelisteningtolosangeles" which is a mashup of police scanners and ambient electronica - which is wild. Super props to cyber-punk life for the link. His site is super rad and you should check it out. The only naggling problem I had is that for whatever the fuck reason the anchor tags weren't redirecting on click. Some mouth breather on the net suggested that I might have a deeply buried z-index tag somewhere but I decided to "stick it in the fuck it bucket" and just redirect via a on click. Because I'm a lazy fuck and I spent several hours creating a menu from scratch so there. Bllltthhh (me blowing a raspberry if you couldn't tell). Until next time on Dragon Ball Z...
Quick idea - I might want to implement a fast chat client using sockets, although I may be updating the site so frequently that any socket based chat application would necessarily not refresh to all nodes unless I saved the history...which would necessitate a backend on the python client. Grumble....hmmmm....I'll have to think about this one.
A couple additions and modifications to the site. I've moved the navigation menu to the top as a banner so there's more space to the right hand side for, I don't know what. I'll put some items there eventually although for the the moment I'll have to consider what I want to do. I stumbled upon the site for the racket programming language which has a programmatic way of creating images which you can find here. I stole the black and red square checker pattern for my left hand side gutter, but I may actually go back and find some use for the programmatic art side of racket itself. The ding-bats feature of the pict library has some very basic icons.
When I was looking through neocities sites I came across a page that had a three dimensional "flame" rendering that reminded me of a program called electric-sheep. Here's a screen capture gif of the program which you can run on your desktop as a background. I was thinking it would be cool to eventually be able to edit gifs (adding alpha channels and color maps etc) in gimp or some other image editing software - however it appears that every single frame needs to be edited or linked together in a special way. I'll have to investigate further...
I've managed to fix the issue with the ssl by server side rendering the React app for my other site in python and then serving the python app over gunicorn. That way I can sidestep the whole issue of reverse proxy-ing the ports / NGINX etc (wow I need to be able to do that...). So now I can poll the site data for neocities by myself and don't have to rely on bill whatshisname for ssl-ing my hit counter. Not that anyone cares but it bothered me. Now I'll style it I guess...
November 19th, 2021
Another day, some more editing to the site. I've added a kind of lame spinny icon, but hey it spins to the above top right using some css animations. There is a way to add some back image-masks using cool effects that you might want to check out. It's possible to do things like have a div with a linear gradient that changes colors using a transition and then adding a mask over that (such as a star pattern or something), so there's an image of a star with a linear gradient changing colors. If you *then* make the star spin then there's all sorts of pyschedelic patterns you can make. In the meantime, I'll just continue to modify the little spinny mandala a little bit at a time just for fun.
I'm continually amazed at the sorts of sites that I am finding out there - especially sites that have a japanese aesthetic that harkens back to the earlier days of etc - places like dokodemo. The amount of work and love put into sites like that is kind of mind blowing. I mean - it may *not* be for all I know, but the adherence to an aesthetic, and then making modifications on that theme is somehow special in a way that I can't describe. Meanwhile, I played around with the JQUERY on my site so I fixed a minor bug that caused multiple openings of the site not to load. (It turns out state management with localStorage isn't such a hot idea - who knew?). It also means that I can now statically create a front page that displays in the neocities search theme that is redirected when the site is clicked - sort of like a cover page.
In other news I have my first follower! Thanks House of Lief, I've totally followed you back! Send me an email if you happen to have a button you'd like me to put on my links page!
And just for the heck of it, I've made a small mandala gif. The Krita paint program has a neat ability to use a bunch of different brushes and radial symmetry to make spirographs (remember those?). Then I used an alien color map in gimp to change the colors about.
As always, if you want to link to me or have me link to you just say hi!
The Day Before
So here are some updates on what I've been working on on the site, and generally what I've been doing coding wise. So - suppose that you want to put a hit counter on your website...This is not at as trivial as it may appear. A first attempt was to use a counter from sites like ** and places along those lines. What they use is an image tag embedded in an achor that polls the site with a hash value that has some unique encoding that matches your site in their database and then they return the value to the embedded image and it updates. Two lines of code, copy and paste it into your html. Sounds amazing! Except...turns out that most websites now block places like that because either the name (*ie free*) sounds suspiciously like advertising or the method of anchor link injection looks like an ad. So...that doesn't work. One sort of hacky way to approach the problem might be to use the front end and a bit of javascript to write and read from a json file and then publish that on your site. Which has the unfortunate possibility that someone might be able to find a way of maliciously injecting silly messages to be displayed on your site, which isn't so good. While I was looking around on the net I found this tutorial by Danarchy which was surprising. It turns out that it's possible to make an http request to neocities to not only poll the information on the hits and views of the site, but also whether or not there is an IPFS hash stored! Neat! However, because of technical limitations it's not possible to do this from with neocities unless you have a ssl backend so I spent the better part of a morning hacking at my other website. The upshot is that I managed to secure my front end application with ssl via cloudflare, re-affirmed my burning hatred for nginx, and have an open stackoverflow question. So I ended up taking the easy route and used the ssl proxy that Danarchy suggested and now I have a counter. So I have taken a brief glance at IPFS javascript whatsoever! It appears that it's only possible to host a website that uses static content. Which kind of makes sense because it's essentially a p2p service serving files. I don't know - I've looked a little bit into this and it appears that it might be possible to do a little bit but I'm not sure. If anybody has any ideas please let me know! Ha, I wouldn't have started this website with JQUERY if I had known better.
Post script - I've added almost all of my tumblr pics to my links page so if you want to see some pics from my travels you can check that out.
The Day Before That
Hooolllyyy cow this place is wild. So I just discovered neocities - I've come from react land and this place is super awesome in that it lets you just write raw html and stuff. And there are tons of people who are connecting to each other and making webpages which I think is super cool.
There are tons of people here that are super creative with their art and I have to say that this has opened up a whole new area of the internet for me. I'm digging the whole nostalgia vibe in some of the sites while in others I think it's amazing what kinds of art people are into. What I've wanted to do for a while is find ways of linking together a bunch of weird sites that I've found over the internet that are *good*. In the sense that they aren't part and parcel of the social media landscape. People sometimes decry the big corporation-ness of it, but for me it's been more about the lack of creativity and artiness. Which is why I'm kind of excited for the whole IPFS (Inter-Planetary File System) thing to take off - maybe if the web were more distributed we'd come full circle back to people having some control over their creative output again.
I think what I want to try and do is use this page more for experimental html and css, perhaps write a little bit I'm not entirely sure at the moment. In some sense this place is one internet sub-culture among many - I'd like to find more places like this that are their own small growing communities that have a distinct identity and learn a little bit about them and what they have to tell us about what life is like. If that makes any sense. The *chans used to be like that for a while, and maybe still are in a sense.
I'm always looking for people to talk to. If you would like to talk or exchange ideas about writing/books/interests/hobbies please feel free to reach out at!