Beyond information warfare

When I suggest to people they should be more careful about their online behaviors, like posting for fake National Daughters and Sons Days, and answering random questions on random Facebook accounts, and including having Chinese-government-owned apps like TikTok on their phones, this is why. Not a joke and not a drill.
tl;dr “Chinese theorists…believe that the development of information technology has reached its limits, and that future wars will occur in the cognitive domain. … Influencing human cognition requires a large amount of detailed personal information to identify influential individuals or to conduct influential operations according to the characteristics of subgroups of people. China has already collected a massive amount of personal information on government officials and ordinary U.S. citizens, ensuring a foundation for influencing people’s cognition. … The Chinese government has then allowed Chinese IT giants to process this large amount of data, making it useful for intelligence activities. In this way, China has accumulated an enormous amount of data over the years which could be weaponized in the future.”

Gun violence rooted in misogyny

Absolutely on the mark. Hatred and resentment of women is behind an amazing amount of right-wing aggressiveness. Guns, education, healthcare, child care, reproductive rights, right down the line. So clear and easy to see. Harder to deal with, but we must.

[from Elle]

American agriculture is a lie

The romance of the American farmer is a total myth–straight out propaganda–in today’s America, representing only 2-3% of food production. The rest is from food factories that are destroying the planet, backed by the most powerful lobbying groups in DC.

[from The New York Times]

Concentric circles of gun violence trauma

Not many things–nothing, in fact–gets to me the way this issue does. Now, because of what happened to them, their children have to undergo active shooter drills, expanding the concentric circles of trauma.

 

Another self-inflicted existential threat to humanity

In addition to overheating the planet, we have chemically altered its makeup.

“The rate at which novel entities are being developed and produced by industry exceeds governments’ ability to assess risk and monitor impacts.”

[from Mongabay]

The Ultimate Doomscroll

Essentially my Twitter feed, beautifully compiled. 

“I understand climate change as doing something similar to what Dr. Johnson said the hangman’s noose did for focusing the mind. It’s not words that I’m worried about wasting, but experiences. What’s needed is an aesthetic imperative that we somehow live in each moment as if it’s eternal and also as if it’s our last. Our ethical imperative is similar: to do everything as if it might save the world, even if it’s unlikely that it will. Tending one’s own garden need not be selfish, though if everyone does so, well, that’s something then, right? “

Running Resurrection

So many others have overcome so much more. Serious diseases and debilitating medical conditions. Addictions of all types. Chronic injuries, and surgeries. Brain tumors. Prison time. Obesity. Poverty. Mental health crises. Litanies of personal loss. Bike crashes. Car crashes. Literally being run over by a truck.

And that’s just the people I know, my people who keep the lights on, people who have made or are making their way back to running, inspiring everyone else in their paths. So while it seems trivial to share my recent struggle, it’s the only struggle I’ve got, and in attaching myself to these others and in saying everything out loud comes revival or maybe even resurrection, I hope. Running resurrection.

May not be the kind of athlete that Greg Itahara (Itahara Design) had in mind when he designed this limited edition phoenix singlet for Nomad  last summer. But one day next summer I will stand strong and straight and  rise again and rock this in a flight of absolute sweat-drenched glory. 

In last year’s year-end post, The Year of Unrunning,  I asked and answered “what do we want out of this,” and committed to some things: slowing down, continuing to find new places to run, rededicating to new goals or choosing to choose none at all, and especially to relearning the things I thought I already knew.   

Fate and fortune had other ideas, little did I know how many. The trials and trails of 2020 crossfaded to the starts and stops and starts and stops and starts and stops of 2021, yielding the lowest mileage I’ve run since I began more than 20 years ago. Even as the year ends, and I try to pick myself up yet one more time, I’m back to a walk-run regimen with paces that make me want to shield my Strava activities from public view (I don’t, but still).

At the beginning of the pandemic I predicted it would be a marathon, 26.2 months, and it looks like I was right. If we count from February 2020, that puts us into April 2022 before we see some exit light. (I also predicted 1 million US dead, and sadly, it looks like I was right about that too.) What I didn’t predict is what a toll two years of isolated inactivity would take on my body, especially in this last eight months.

Of all the running injuries I’ve had, and I’ve had them all from IT bands to shin splints to plantar fasciitis to whatever (except for knees), back injuries are the absolute worst. Most painful by far, puts you down the longest.  I’ve gone into some detail about the how and the what in other posts and won’t repeat myself here, but man is this different. And now I’m forcing myself to live my physical life differently. Standing up and sitting down differently. Rolling in neutral position when I lay on the couch or get in bed. Thinking before bending or lifting or pushing or pulling. Getting nervous about making the bed or doing the laundry or pulling on my socks or tying my shoes. Actually listening to (and obeying!) my physical therapist, and reading Jay Dicharry’s Running Rewired like he’s the second coming of Danny Dreyer and Chi Running. Promising to pay more attention to hip flexor strength and flexibility than to distance or pace—it’s all in the hips. Moving back from less shoe to more shoe. And yet, there’s always a motion that generates a twinge that makes me acutely aware of where I am right now.

No matter.

Because 2021 was also a year of wonder and miracles. Dropping to one knee not knowing if I’d be able to straighten up again (she said yes!), then, a few short months later, marrying this incredible woman who will be running by my side for the rest of my life. Being blessed by the birth of my first grandchild. Seeing my son and his own beautiful bride celebrate their marriage after three postponements. And although Omicron pushed the holidays to January this season, there’s peace in knowing that everyone has made it through so far, that we’ve been and will continue to be brave in the teeth of crisis, and that the hugs will be so much more powerful and sweet when we’re all able to get together in one place again.

With all that do we really want to talk about what’s next for running?

Yeah of course we do but let’s make it quick. Future training plans? Strength and mind before mileage. Future race plans? Four on the calendar instead of the usual 20, for now at least. Refocusing on 5ks to half marathons only, and nothing longer than 10k in the summer months. I see some friends returning to the sport, and some new runners, which prompts me to remind myself of some unsolicited advice:

Run every run like it’s your last. Every single one of them. Because you just never know, it just might be. All of us have an expiration date, a best-if-used-by date, and we damn well better use it all because eventually that tank does empty out and sometimes it explodes without warning.

In parallel, as I approach retirement (this is what 65 looks like), and no longer feel like I need to control things, and no longer want to let things control me, there’s some stuff I want to do for the first time in a long time, or for the first time ever. I’ll save all that for another post in another place, but I will say this, for running and for everything else:

I don’t have a bucket list. I only have today.

If you run long enough there comes a moment—maybe it’s when you’re running through the forest with the bunnies and the butterflies, maybe it’s when you cross the finish line of your first 5k, maybe it’s slogging through your neighborhood in the cold rain, maybe it’s at mile 23 of a marathon—a moment comes when you pause and lift off whatever you’ve been carrying on your shoulders all this time and lay it gently on the side of the road, when you make your final peace with everything you’ve been running away from, and make a new peace with all the things you’re running towards.

For a long time I thought maybe we’d only be lucky enough to get one of those moments. Now I know they are endless, and are something we create, and are all on a path of possibility I’m beginning to call Running Resurrection. One of those resurrections is possible every day if, like their cousins miracles, we only look for them. Sometimes the path is lit, sometimes it’s not, but we can always bring our own light.

So as I start over again, as I embrace the period of my life when simply waking up means it’s a good day, I’ll end this post in hope with my usual mantra:

There may be younger runners. And there may be faster runners. But every once in a while, into the setting sun on a warm summer’s night, there is no more magnificent runner, than me.

Thank you for sharing the road in peace and love. Have a great 2022—I hope to be out there with you all!  Running, in resurrection.

 

Networked interpretive communities of resentment

Fascinating study about how conservatives see media, and, really, the entire world around them.

[from Columbia Journalism Review]

Plant-based or vegan?

I’ve taken to calling myself plant-based. This is a helpful and empathetic discussion of terms, definitions, and what they mean in practical life.

Divest

Decarbonize the grid.

“Endowments, portfolios and pension funds worth just shy of $40 trillion have now committed to full or partial abstinence from coal, gas and oil stocks…that’s larger than the gross domestic product of the United States and China combined.”

Murmurations

Come for the science, stay for the incredible photos.

[from Nautilus]

Next up

Having been at a couple of dying companies, and a dying industry, I can say with some authority that it’s exactly as described.

What I’m talking about is a kind of slow, steady decline that anyone who has ever seen a dying company up close can recognize. It’s a cloud of existential dread that hangs over an organization whose best days are behind it, influencing every managerial priority and product decision and leading to increasingly desperate attempts to find a way out. This kind of decline is not necessarily visible from the outside, but insiders see a hundred small, disquieting signs of it every day — user-hostile growth hacks, frenetic pivots, executive paranoia, the gradual attrition of talented colleagues.

Beyond smart cities

Fascinating review. Made me think about Singapore, and what Amazon has done to Seattle, and Hudson Yards in New York, and the new smart neighborhoods planned for Chicago. Ordering the book.

Two interesting ideas from down a ways in the essay:

One: “At the turn of the 20th century, the twin infectious disease threats of tuberculosis and the Spanish flu combined with faddish ideas on wellness among people rich enough to afford their own architects, and led to something new. As the architectural historian Biatriz Colomina has written, that was Modernism, with its clean lines, honest materials, porous relationship between the indoors and outdoors, more sunlight, more ventilation, and solid surfaces that were easy to clean. It was more than an aesthetic. It was disease control.”

Two: “Humans build cities as fortresses against failure: economic collapse, natural catastrophe, human venality and cowardice. The city walls keep those things out, when they work. If houses are, as the architect Mies van de Rohe said, “machines for living,” then cities are places where those machines get daisy-chained into a society. Cities are machines for cooperation, and survival.”

[from Wired]

Also reminded of a companion piece about the work of an acquaintance from college, an architect who has turned to imaging what truly inclusive, pandemic-resistant buildings might look like.

“Through the front door, in a vestibule, one-way entry and exit routes were mediated by a planter. Each side had a hand-sanitizing station along the wall. A second, interior door separated this transition zone from the rest of the building. Once inside, a visitor encountered a wide lobby. Across it, directly ahead, an information desk was positioned back-to-back with a bank of lockers. Behind that partition were multigender restroom stalls; rooms, with showers, that could be used by caregivers, nursing mothers and even bike commuters; and prayer rooms and foot-washing stations for religious practices. Motion-activated sinks abutted the walkway. The space is more of a “wellness hub” now than a “bathroom,” Sanders said — so they decided to put it front and center rather than hide it.”

Sovereign American freedom as the freedom to enslave others

Astonishingly insightful essay. We have a real problem here.

“The defense of white freedom in U.S. history might more accurately be thought of as racialized anti-statism, in which the federal government is understood as a usurper of individual and states’ rights.”

Propaganda and misinformation don’t spread themselves

Excellent and powerful analysis of the digital world we’ve built over the last 20 years and the underlying, and perhaps catastrophic, problems that are at its foundation. Not only is the Internet we imagined in 1995 better than the Internet we have today, it wasn’t nearly as harmful.

0 miles

 

Can’t say I’m a happy camper right now.

Second setback in two weeks, both triggered by bending the wrong way doing household chores. Each time it’s been a little less painful but a little more discouraging.

Missed the weekend, looks like I’m on the shelf for a few days more, and I’ll need to use them to sort out some things. Was getting overconfident in how good I felt, probably pushed the strength training too much, don’t think I pushed mileage or pace but who knows. Even though I backed off everything in the last two weeks since the first incident, reaching for anything is an adventure right now and running seems like a distant hope.

I know I’m not a young man any more. Haven’t quite accepted thinking and acting like an old man though and you know, that may never happen. There are ways through this: break it apart, be more careful and thoughtful about the pieces, be a bit more patient with the road, be accepting enough to tamp down some of the goals, for this year at least.

Talking it all over and sorting it all out with Mary has helped tremendously–she’s been there herself, and is always there for me. I’ll live through her marathon training for the summer. Seeing my crew and everyone else around the world accomplishing amazing, magnificent things–did you see TTB Chicago Friday night?–keeps the fire hot. My training activity may look a little funky over the next few weeks or months, but I promise myself and promise you I will be advancing best I can, and will be accountable for every day. And if that means walking + cheer squad is all I get, that will just have to be it for a while, and I’ll make the most of it.

Maybe I have 10 years left in this sport, at least that’s what I told myself when I tattooed ‘Finish Strong’ on my shoulder: carry it to 75, then see. Taking the time now to make sure I get every last year being out there with you all: that’s my primary goal right now. Every other goal– age graded PRs, medals on the wall, notches on the belt–is secondary. So if you don’t mind, I’ll be drafting off you for a while longer, tapping into your energy, evangelizing the message of an experience runner, bearing witness like an experienced runner, right up until the body says ‘no more.’ And that my friends I hope is a long long way off. Thank you for listening today. Cheering you all on with all my heart.

Beyond disinformation: smokescreen trolling

Straight from the gamer trolling wars to the main line of American politics

Cruelty as a service

Absolutely spot on.

“In this environment, cruelty — in the form of demonizing religious and ethnic minorities as terroristscriminals and invaders — is an effective political tool for crushing one’s enemies as well as for cultivating a community that conceives of fellow citizens as a threat, resident foreigners attempting to supplant “real” Americans. For those who believe this, it is no violation of American or democratic principles to disenfranchise, marginalize and dispossess those who never should have had such rights to begin with, people you are convinced want to destroy you.”