Periodical — 3

Hello from a rainy and cold autumn morning in Durham. We are in the midst of the most magical time of the year. Our enormous old oak is covering everything in a blanket of golden leaves. The meadow is turning purple with the tall Aster that flower in November. I’m getting ready to draw my yearly wild turkey on the chalkboard in our kitchen.

That’s me ^ 19 years ago today.

I’m sitting in a cafe in Georgetown on the Malaysian island of Penang where I lived from 2005-2006. That it was a different time is as trite to say as it is nonetheless true. It feels like a very long time ago, certainly a very long self ago.

One of the benefits of aging in a hyper-recorded time is that there are so many tangible reminders of how far one has come and how far one has left to go. It’s good to have made progress and also to have much more to do.

The latest United Nations Environment Program report concludes that we are heading for global temperatures higher than the Paris Agreement goal unless we exceed our commitments for cutting emissions. This is despite the fact that we’ve actually measured some progress in this area. In 2015, when the Paris Agreement was signed, greenhouse gas emissions were projected to increase by 16% by 2030. Now, the projection is 3%. But the overall emissions measure will need to drop by 28% in order to hit the Paris Agreement goal of a 2°C global temperature increase, and by 42% to hit 1.5°C. It seems to me that both are quite unlikely and we are probably going to end up in the 2.5-2.9°C range by 2100. I think that’s the problem.

On the scale of historic measurement, 2100 is just around the corner. But on the scale of a long human lifespan, 2100 is never for most of the people who have the power to change things. I am 43 years old right now. If I make it to 2080, I will be 100 years old and will have exceeded the projected average American male lifespan by twenty-seven years. How many decisions do I make today that I actually consider in terms of their impact beyond the end of my life? I don’t know. I consider myself an altruistically-minded person, but I have to be honest about that — it’s not the majority of them.

I’m not sure whether this has ever been measured, but it seems to me that the incidence of political decision making on the basis of future benefit is very low. What can we do about this?

Via Warren Ellis, I just found out about a record called Spectra Ex Machina/A Sound Anthology of Occult Phenomena 1920-2017 Vol. 2. This is a blind buy for me.

More than thirty years ago, my father made a custom Nintendo controller for me out of salvaged arcade game parts and an acrylic box he cut and assembled himself. At the time, a DIY Nintendo controller was unheard of, at least to me. It made perfect sense coming from my Dad, whose office was full of handmade gadgets for research purposes. But as far as I can remember, every friend who saw it was astonished. Cut to decades later, when the internet reminds us that whatever we think is novel probably already has dozens of URLs associated with it! There’s even a Reddit topic devoted to fightsticks, which is, apparently, the parlance for this sort of thing.

This coffee table console comes closest to looking like the one my dad made for me, though it wasn’t as large. Though I should have expected this, I was astonished to find so many custom controllers that looked so close to what I’ve held in my memory for decades.

If you’re reading this, email me and say “hi!”

Written by Christopher Butler on November 21, 2023,   In Log

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