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Max Antonucci

Journalist turned full-time coder, part-time ponderer.


Personal quips and nonsensical snippets

Sometimes I want to write things that can't work as a blog post, I don't want to lose amid Twitter, or don't make any sense. For all these streams of conscious, I have my Notes. They have lots of colors to match how across the board they can get.

Keep scrolling to read my notes in order.

February 14, 2021

After a serious discussion with my distinguished colleagues, we reached this conclusion: there must be a circle of Hell where you do Satan's chores.

These include cleaning his laundry, mopping blood off the hardwood floors, cooking meals of burnt flesh and hot sauce, and doing his taxes. At first, I wasn't sure if people did taxes in Hell. Then someone pointed out that there are arguably more taxes in Hell than Earth because taxes are Hell. If anything, Hell needs more people to handle everyone's taxes, including Satan's.

But one question remains: what circle of Hell does all this domestic labor happen? How far down the sinning scale is doing Satan's dusting or dropping off his library books?

More research is needed.

February 10, 2021

You'd think America would be in a constant uproar of outrage and grief knowing that thousands of painful yet preventable deaths had been hitting us for months. According to this article, the fact we aren't is a sign we're in collapse.

People suffering, dying, and protesting all around you, while you think about dinner. If you’re trying to carry on while people around you die, your society is not collapsing. It’s already fallen down.

Does this mean we, as individuals, aren't allowed to enjoy ourselves in a time of crisis?

Maybe it depends on how our enjoyment lines up with the crisis itself. In a pandemic, that's getting joy from overcrowded parties and in-person gatherings. It's clinging to normal in ways that sustain, or even worsen, the misery of those who are sick, unemployed, isolated, or in grief.

If a majority of Americans are using their privilege and status to act like nothing is wrong and this will "resolve itself" without any sacrifice on their part, then I'd agree with this article. Our society has already collapsed.

The still-increasing winter spike of deaths and cases, due to people gathering when they were told not to, seems to confirm it is.

February 7, 2021

A while back, I read something shocking: prisons use statistical data on third-grade reading levels to predict how many prison beds they need.

It seemed like one of those facts that's shocking due to not being well-known and revealing an ugly truth. Turns out I was wrong on both counts: it's a common political talking point, and it isn't true. But the article points out there's still a large connection between being able to read and dropping out or ending up in jail. So reading's importance can't just be ignored.

I write this both as a bookworm and as a cynic. As the latter, I know people will say "that specific connection is false, so we can ignore reading and education altogether!" It's using language that sounds critical to disguise support of inequality and privilege.

Language can be a bitch that way. It can slip by so many people yet drive society in so many different directions.

February 4, 2021

One book I'm reading looked at the myth of meritocracy. It pointed out one of its flaws that stuck with me: the idea that someone who believes they got their high status through a meritocracy feels justified in any further action. Even if it's harmful.

Let's put aside if meritocracy is a true part of America or something used to justify inequality. Instead, let's say someone who believes they rose on merit is willing to abuse their power. For example, they stack the deck in favor of their friends and family with things like access to influential networks, higher education, and specialized tutors. Isn't this willingness to abuse their merit a sign they lack the merit itself?

America's main response seems to be "no." If so, meritocracy would only apply to peoples' skills, not what they do with them. Only talent and power matter, even if someone uses them to set the world aflame.

That's institutional terror right there.

February 1, 2021

A microscopic bit of fame makes it exponentially harder to be happy without any. Even years after the fact. Especially when a pandemic forces most of us into a simple, quiet life as it destroys everyone else's.

But like many things in life, half of the solution is acknowledging the problem. So I'm leaving myself a reminder.

January 27, 2021

To my fellow manga readers out there, I ask this serious question: would Shinichi Sakurai and Hana Uzaki from "Uzaki-chan wants to Hang Out!" actually make a good couple?

It could be many things: the huge height difference, the childish personality, or the condescending attitude bordering on narcissism, but I don't see it. Uzaki strikes me more as an annoying cousin that never shuts up than a romantic partner.

The good news is if the series is popular enough, it will either never end or end on an ambiguous "they're kinda together but not quite" note. So they'll never get together and I'll be vindicated.

January 21, 2021

I recently finished "Ready Player Two," and I learned a few things about fiction writing. I learned books shouldn't have lengthy sections of:

  • World-building exposition that isn't woven into the story. Especially in a sequel where the world has already been built for the readers.
  • Excessive, unimportant trivia about, but not limited to, 70's teen flicks, Prince, or any Lord of the Rings middle earth-esque fantasy realm.
  • Introducing characters that look interesting and promise some fresh dynamics, when they're barely heard from afterward with no development.
  • Brooding over losing the woman you lost your virginity to. Most people, including the nerds in the book's target audience, get enough of that in their brains.

I'm glad I learned so much from this book. Now to find one that doesn't try too hard to (and not succeed at) being a Dan Brown novel.

January 18, 2021

It's easy to cling to old or outdated values. We could see ourselves as hypocritical, weak-minded, or opportunistic.

Do caterpillars feel this way when they become butterflies? Almost none of them do, at least according to caterpillar Twitter.

Change is natural, and we should embrace it. Even with vital things we thought would never change. Refusing it only holds us back.

We should at least try to be as good, if not better, than caterpillars. Especially since they still beat us at spinning silk and climbing walls.

January 14, 2021

Many white supremacists are rarely explicit in their goals of pushing non-white races below them. Much of that work was done by past (and maybe present) policies like redlining, the prison pipeline, over-policing, and underinvestment in many nieghborhood's welfare/education/health/infrastructure, to name a few.

One only needs to be against or indifferent to policies aiming to undo all these racism-caused inequalities to be racist. No matter how many "Black Lives Matter" signs are in your yard.

January 12, 2021

In 1790, the United States passed the Naturalization Act to set the first rules for how a non-citizen becomes a US citizen. But the law was limited to "free white person(s)...of good character."

This was the same time slavery was happening in the United States, creating a huge gap in how citizens and non-citizens were treated. Understandably, new arrivals wanted to be seen as "white." Especially Irish, Italian, and German immigrants that were first seen as either "non-white" or just "partially white."

That didn't change over a century later when people brought the issue to court. In the 1922 SCOTUS case "Ozawa v. United States," a Japanese-American man argued he should be included under the category of "free white persons." A year later in "United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind," an Indian Sikh man argued the same thing. Both lost.

The United State's naturalization laws have evolved since 1790, but race has played a key role. Society has defined what it means to be white, how humans changed that definition, and racial privilege.

This is all in case someone dismisses the idea of race being a social construct as "absurd." Why pass laws and have court hearings over race if it's part of nature? Otherwise, we'd have witnessed the 1889 SCOTUS case "United States v. Gravity."

January 8, 2021

If you've found your best sense passion and identity, but don't express it since you're worried how others will react, I don't believe it's really your top passion.

I think the best sign is when you love something for the pain as much as the pleasure. When you could flame out and have everyone laugh at you, but you want to do it again.

Don't let the fear of what others might say stop you from what you should be doing.

January 5, 2021

Sometimes my inner voice will pretend to be someone else. I'll imagine someone else telling me in person or a chat, "You know, if you were really caring/smart/curious/human, you would have..." When I got better at silencing my inner critic, it disguised itself as an external critic that I'd have to engage with.

A good way I've found to beat this is to ask "do I know anyone who would say this to me?" Most of the time, the answer is no. When the answer is yes, I learn it's someone I'm better off cutting out of my life.

I'm glad I figured this out, but I'm worried. My inner critic's next step may be to appear as a hallucination of a real person walking up to and criticizing me. The mental strategies around that will be tough.

January 2, 2021

When I'm out and about in the city, it's easy for my mind to think "this is relaxation time, not productivity time." It's a lot harder to make that switch when the pandemic has stuck me inside on weekend nights.

It's tough to change that switch by force. Even when I'm screaming and pleading to let it ease the pressure on myself. To let myself be who I am, and not force myself into an ill-fitting "who I think I need to be."

We see lots of television and movies of people with great skill and intelligence battling tough enemies and overwhelming odds. That may be why we believe that should be our "normal" and anything below that makes us a failure. Seeing more of those in the pandemic makes this worse, and makes it harder to flip that switch.

I think unless I outright tell myself it's okay to flip the switch, I never will.

December 29, 2020

For those who want to stay in power, it could be in their best interest to tell others, "one person can change the world."

The biggest changes in our society - civil rights, new technology, medical advances - couldn't have happened without many people working to organize, share, and learn together. Even stand-alone geniuses needed others, as Isaac Newtown said in 1675.

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Someone believing "it only takes one person to create great change" is less likely to work with others. They're more likely to try on their own until they burn out, become cynical, and think change is impossible.

It dresses up division with pretty language, so people swallow it without seeing its effects. The leaders can frame any criticism of this as "insulting to human potential" and swat it away.

Something to remember the next time leaders talk about how much they want to change things for the better, they swear.

December 23, 2020

Let's spare a moment to consider how horribly all this social distancing has hurt American pickpockets.

Not the ones in banking and finance positions. The blue-collar ones reaching into actual pockets. Let's send them some thoughts and prayers.