Recent inspiration, Thanksgiving edition

Happy Thanksgiving week, friends. Don't forget that it commemorates the beginning of centuries of colonial oppression of indigenous peoples in North America.

I haven't done one of these for a while, so here's a list of links.

This Twitter thread about ruining evangelical Thanksgiving

Ask how much of the food they bought at Walmart. When they say "just about all of it," ask what they think of Walmart asking for food donations for their employees for Thanksgiving. Do not break eye contact.
Stephanie Drury

Stephanie has been an internet acquaintance of mine for something like 15 years. She never misses.

Doing genealogy things.

The Family Search site is run by the Mormon church. If you're okay giving them some data about your ancestors (spoiler: there's a good chance they already have a lot of it, for better or worse), you get access to a lot of stuff for free that typically costs extra on other ancestry-tracing sites.

So far I've learned that several distant relatives were on the Mayflower, that a great great grandfather was named after Robert E. Lee, and that a great great great grandfather was an overseer of slaves on another family's farm in Mississippi. And other uplifting facts!

The weaponization of employee resource groups

Around the time when the National Labor Relations Act went into effect in 1935, "there was a strong sense that some employers were using employee communication committees to create what they called a 'sweetheart union' — essentially employer-dominated groups that represented the employees," Wheeless said.
Megan Rose Dickey

A lot of large companies, including my own employer, make use of employee resource groups. Seeing them described as "sweetheart unions" helps me to set expectations for what is possible within them, and what they enable on behalf of an employer. Basically: another justification for broad unionization as a more effective way to organize and empower workforces.

Joe Pera

I, a non-football watching person, rewatch this bit about the Buffalo Bills on a regular basis. Also, as the third season of his TV show Joe Pera Talks With You has started, I've been catching up on the two previous seasons. It's slow TV, the kind that calms you down at the end of a long day. It's deeply compassionate and inspiring, and also wildly hilarious in a millennial take on Prairie Home Companion kind of way, sans Garrison Keillor controversy.

His conversation with a personal favorite songwriter David Bazan is especially lovely.

I'm also pondering requesting a copy of his new book, A Bathroom Book for People Not Pooping or Peeing but Using the Bathroom as an Escape, for Christmas.

Generating AI art with NightCafe Studio

There are a handful of tutorials for how to set up VQGAN and CLIP—a combination of machine-learning algorithms that can generate fascinatingly weird images solely from a text prompt—on different computing environments. NightCafe Studio has shouldered the majority of that burden so that you can just think about your sacred prompts.

Here's a tweet thread full of images I've created so far.

Catching up with Simone Veil, creator of Pictures for Sad Children

I obsessively read PFSC web comics for its entire run, bought a few signed prints, and mourned the loss when Veil erased her entire online presence.

This is probably the longest profile she's gotten in a long time, or perhaps ever, and covers a lot of the parts of the story of her disappearance that were broadly unknown or misunderstood when it happened.

I'm still sad I can't reference specific comics and provide a permalink, but am happy to report I was able to give Veil actual money for a PDF anthology of the comic recently, which I will digitally cherish forever.

Each of the aggrieved commenters seemed to find personal injury in Veil’s actions. Like, because she took their money, she owed them something — not just a copy of a book, but something more. A piece of her life. Through the whole post, it was clear Veil was fundamentally uncomfortable with the idea of owing people answers. She wanted to make art.

People online who make art ask for money. She asked for money. And she seemed to be realizing just how toxic that transaction could be.

“I am looking for people who do not feel they need to see any ‘return’ on their ‘investment,’” she wrote.

Justin Ling

published 2021-11-24