"Dune fandom is an un-fandom"

12 Jul 2018

Sean T. Collins for The Outline:

In the contemporary internet sense, the Dune discourse is wild and wide open, without the warring-camp, protect it at all costs mentality that plagues so many other geek-culture staples.

Dune is one small, goofy, vital way of sharing something wonderful with each other, and with nothing and no one else.

Click Here

04 Jul 2018

Venkatesh Rao for Ribbonfarm

The hyperlink is the most elemental of the bundle of ideas that we call the Web. If the bit is the quark of information, the hyperlink is the hydrogen molecule.

On the 73rd birthday of the hyperlink, treat yourself to these thoughts on some of the political and narrative implications of the tool. And if you’re hankering for more afterwards, Julien Frisch plays with some of the ideas in a novel way to think through the European Union.


24 Jun 2018

Anne Helen Petersen for BuzzFeed:

She came of age in the Seattle–Tacoma music scene and then, later, in Vancouver, first making her name playing throwback country with a band referred to as Her Boyfriends. Many first encountered her as one of the lead singers of the New Pornographers, the beloved Canadian group formed by Carl Newman in 1997. She doesn’t read music. She didn’t learn how to harmonize, she says, until her late twenties.

That’s nothing, Neko. I’m in my thirties and i dont even know what harmonizing is.

Also, Hell-On is a killer album and you should be listening it instead of reading me.

Summer Classic 10km

23 Jun 2018

Race information

  • What? MEC Ottawa Road Race #3 - The Summer Classic
  • When? 17 June, 2018
  • How far? 10km
  • Where? Carp, ON
  • Sportstats Data
  • Strava Activity
  • Finish time: 41:50.7


Goal Description Completed?
A 41:00 No
B 40:28 No
C 39:00 No


Note to self: stop with the false modesty with my starting position. In a big race I won’t be at the very front of the pack, but here it was just silly for me to start in the middle. I wasn’t outside of the front 15 runners after the first kilometre, so weaving through a large crowd and passing folks right out of the gate is particularly foolish. If I accept that I’m not terrible at this it’ll be easier for me settle into a rhythm and safer for everyone.

I have been training towards a longer race than this, so I was not trying to be too ambitious with my goals this time ‘round. 40:28 was the 10km I had pulled off in a longer race, so I figured that repeating it was a reasonable enough thing to strive for. 39:00 was a bit of a stretch, but it seemed within reach based on how I’d felt during some of my training runs. I got word that a friend of a friend was aiming for a 40:00~ time so rather than paying attention to my watch, I decided I would use her as my pacer – and, if I was feeling particularly good after the first half, pick up some speed. That would mean trying to remember what she was wearing (purple? Probably purple) and having to find her in the crowd. Which would mean moving through the crowd.

Race Start - 2.5km

Immediately I could tell that my goals were in trouble. Unlike with the Tamarack Half Marathon, this was not shock at how fast I was going, but rather a realization that the conditions were not at all what I had prepared for: I had maybe one training run in the last two months that was anything close to the same humidity. On top of that, I could tell my peanut butter toast two hours prior was not enough to make up for the lacklustre dinner the night before. Hunger is a terrible motivator for a race given that legs need fuel.

Other than regret my life choices, there wasn’t much to be done about it, so I made my way to the outside edge and starting passing folks with an aim towards finding my pacer. While there were a couple of people who seemed like they were going to keep up with me rather than letting me pass, for the most part everyone was too focused on running their own race to waste energy on the idiot zipping by them. Eventually I recognized the purple top that I was pretty sure belonged to my pacer and settled in behind her.

2.5km - 5km

Because the same course was being used for the 5km race, the hydration station came at 2.5km. I was pretty grateful when I saw it coming and started wondering whether the two volunteers were going to be able to keep up with the 8~ of us all coming through at the same time. As it turned out, that was not a problem: I was the only one who grabbed a cup on the way by. It was at this point I realized that maybe I was a little bit outside of my class trying to keep up with these folks. Instead of letting that change my pace, I blissfully poured the electrolyte water on my head, drank the cup of water, and kept on keeping on.

I tend to run with music, but I had left my headphones in the car and so was stuck with the sound of my laboured breathing. Unfortunately for my pacer, I was close enough that she was also stuck with it. While I am not sure what regular Steven’s running breathing sounds like, it definitely wasn’t that. I eventually settled into something resembling normal by the time we reached the halfway point. This was a good thing because it was a turnaround and I got my first sense of where the 240 runners who weren’t ahead of me were. The fact that I was about to see every single racer was a pretty strong motivator for tightening up my form and losing what I imagine was a look of mild heat stroke.

It was also nice to see my friends and briefly remember that, no matter what happened in the next five kilometres, eventually the race would be over and they would be driving me home.

5 - 7.5km

I know after the race I talked about how nice the route was and how much I enjoyed the scenery, but that might be a lie. Not that I am saying it wasn’t beautiful, but the first two thirds of the race feel like they were exclusively spent keeping my pacer’s ponytail straight ahead of me. What was nice about this was that she was the front-most female runner, so she got cheers and clapping from volunteers, other runners after the turnaround, and the few spectators that were on the sidelines. I pretended her acclaim was for me. I drank her milkshake. I drank it up.

At one point she got a new running partner and I am still not sure how or where that happened. Did he run ahead or fall behind? And where did this new person come from? I had questions, but no energy to really consider answers. I do remember briefly wondering if he changed shirts mid-race just to confuse me, but the sheer insanity of that thought let it slip away almost as quickly as I had found it.

7.5km - End

The 5km race started only ten minutes after ours, which mean that there were still plenty of those folks on course – and this is the point where the two races come together. And here’s where mine fell apart. My 8th kilometre was over thirty seconds slower than my 7th. On the one hand, this was the highest elevation climb of the entire race. On the other hand, I was already gassed, I missed the idea of shade, and I might have considered quitting if I wasn’t already going in the direction of the finish line. I no longer had my ponytailed companion to guide me and had no motivation to keep an eye on my watch, so I just put one foot in front of the other as tidily as I could manage.

For the last two kilometres I caught up with one of the folks I had been running with early on. His form looked about as good as mine felt and we kept leapfrogging back and forth, never more than a footlong gap between us. Why, you ask, did we not just make the decision to run together and be friends? Mostly I was using him to push me harder than I felt like running. Hopefully I was doing the same for him. Otherwise, I’m just a jerk who wouldn’t let him get ahead.

That is, up until the last quarter of a kilometre. He and I had been passing folks from the 5km race, but as the very end came in sight I ceased to care about passing anyone at all. He got a half step ahead of me, then a full step, then two, and I realized that I was just happy to be done soon and didn’t need to beat him. It was kind of a nice, zen moment for me as I let myself remember that I was running my race and nobody else’s. It didn’t matter whether I beat this stranger.

Except then we passed another racer who shouted at me, “if you’re gonna make your move, now’s the time!”. So I threw that zen nonsense into the trash and I made my move. As it turned out, I had considerably more in the tank than my brain had been telling me for the last few kilometres. I ended up finishing faster than any other point – including my ridiculous start.


After crossing the finish line and taking a few steps out of the way of other finishers, I turned around and thanked the guy who had kept me honest for the last few kilometres. He also got an awkward high five, because I briefly forgot for a moment that we were both drenched in sweat.

If you had asked me before the race whether I would have been satisfied coming in just shy of 42 minutes, I would have said no. I had higher expectations for myself, especially after seeing what I was capable of in the half marathon. However the weather had been ideal on that day, plus I had done a much better job of the whole “eating” thing. The other thing to remember is that, for all my belly-aching, 9th overall ain’t a bad finish.

While the heat was bad, the real problem is that I let how hot I felt influence my state of mind: instead of focusing on what was going well and what I was enjoying, there was a lot of mental complaining about why I was unhappy. It wasn’t that bad, but I think it was enough for me to settle for less than a full effort on the course. That is the big takeaway for the future and what I’ll work on next time.


A Well-Crafted Sentence

17 Jun 2018

Cécile Laborde for the European Journal of Political Theory:

The diffusion of Rawlsian scholarship in Europe took place, as in concentric circles, from an anglicized ‘core’ to a less anglicised ‘periphery’.

"Even if the science was quirky"

11 Jun 2018

Ben Blum for Trust Issues:

“It’s like, ‘Oh my god, I could be a Nazi myself. I thought I was a good guy, and now I discover that I could be this monster.’ And in the meantime, it’s quite reassuring, because if I become a monster, it’s not because deep inside me I am the devil, it’s because of the situation.”

“What struck me later in life was how all of us lost our scientific skepticism,” Cullen says. “We became as ideological, in our way, as the climate change deniers. Zimbardo’s and Martinson’s studies made so much intuitive sense that no one took a step back and said, ‘Well, this could be wrong.’”

As a political “scientist”, I find this entire piece a helpful reminder.

Tamarack Ottawa Half Marathon

01 Jun 2018

Race information


Goal Description Completed?
A 1:39:00 Yes
B 1:37:00 Yes
C 1:35:00 Yes


The Ottawa Half is actually a run along the way to my broader goal for the summer: a 50km trail run in August. Last summer I had intended on doing the Rock ‘n Roll Montreal half as my first official race. I’ve done the distance before and even treated particular runs as personal races, but never done the real thing. When the Montreal full was cancelled because of the heat wave, my trip partner was no longer going, so I dropped out as well. An ankle injury shortly thereafter kept me from doing the Toronto Waterfront run as a make-up, so after an entire summer of training, I still had not done my first race. What I should have done is trained through the winter and done the first available race of 2018, but instead I let 2017’s work go to waste and complained about it constantly like any proper adult. Then in March, I set my goals for the 2018 season, started doing early morning snow-rain-lousy Canadian weather runs and a proper routine, and the first of many events this season would be a half marathon in my hometown.

In training I had my personal best half marathon finishes around 1:37:30~, but I was nervous about how viable that actually was for a few reasons: for starters, I only vaguely trusted my phone’s GPS; and then the fact that running by myself I was only ever competing against my own traitorous feet, but I was worried a race would bring out my competitive streak and I’d push harder, earlier and thus struggle to maintain my speed. So my A goal was me being, I thought, sensible about what first-race jitters would do; my B goal was a desire for a new personal best; and my C goal was, I thought, unicorns and rainbows rather than realistic.

Race Start

The start was a bit rocky, because I had moved myself to the frontmost corral, but got stuck behind the 1:45:00 and 1:40:00 pace runners, which, when things got going, proved to be a massive wall of bodies that I was trapped behind. Getting through it meant a fair amount of weaving, bobbing, and sprinting. In retrospect, that may have been a good push out of the gate, but it felt like a foolish way to start things off when I could have easily avoided it.

Kilometre 5

At the 5km mark I was in trouble. I had not really been checking my pace and I realized that I had pulled off a PB: almost a full minute faster (19:27~ according to Strava). That was not a good sign given that my best prior 5km had come at the end of last season’s training. There was no way that I was going to be able to sustain that pace for very long, so I needed to slow down dramatically if I wanted to avoid a very early crash to my very first race.

Kilometre 10 & 11

At the 10km mark I was in trouble. Again, I had hit a new PB (40:28). Between the water stations and the couple of nameless heads that I was keeping up with, I couldn’t get myself to slow down. I continued to be concerned about the point at which my idiocy was going to catch up to me. Shortly after this we hit the nutrition station. Throughout my training I had been having a nibble of my fruitbar at the 45 minute mark on long runs, but the nuun water every 3km was a blessing I was unprepared for. Some folks afterwards complained about the flavour, but I did not notice at the time: I was too busy running faster than I should have to notice.

I grabbed an orange slice as I ran by, but struggled to get it in my mouth effectively, let alone remove the rind and chew. I also grabbed some gel/sugar/cube things as I struggled to perform an exercise toddlers can pull off right after naptime: the Orange Peel Smile. I hope there is not a photo of that anywhere, because I have no idea why I did it or who I was performing for. Plus that whole needing to use my mouth to breathe thing.

At this point, I stated to check in with my heart rate and do some pace calculations. There were no designated pace runners ahead of me, because I had rushed by them at the start. So time to think it through myself. For starters, I was sitting around 167bpm. Not actually much higher than my non-expert knowledge felt was appropriate. I was starting to think that maybe I was going to run right by the Wall I had been dreading for the last six kilometres. My 4:03 average pace (!) was never going to hold, but my goal time was still possible even if the back end of the run had me slow down to five minute kilometres – and I didn’t see how I would fall back that much given how good I was feeling. Rather than coming up with a new goal time on the fly, I decided to keep a closer eye on my splits and heart rate, letting my body run the show for a little while instead of my brain.

Kilometre 16

It was here that, for whatever reason, proved to be the most demoralizing part of the run: I had four splits in a row all around 4:20~ range, and then slowed to 4:48 as I passed the 16km flag. According to my watch, this was the second steepest climb of the course, but I still felt pissed off at myself. Contrary to what 11km Steven had said to himself, 12-16km Steven had realized a sub-1:30:00 finish was on the table, but not if there was that much of a slowdown. So I ate the second of whatever candy things that I had gathered back at the nutrition station and started to wonder what they were, why it was okay to just grab candy from children at the side of the road, and if they had licked them first. Oh, I also picked up the pace and watched my heart rate steadily climb.

This also happened to be the most beautiful part of the course: going back into Ottawa from Hull over the river with Parliament on the right. If there was a split to slow down and appreciate the view, this would have been it. This is also a spot I have mentally tagged as Deception Point, because the finish is so very close as the crow flies, but the course loops around to turn 2km into 5km. Apparently it is even worse for the full marathon folks, who it presumably sucks to be. I certainly felt bad for them as I raced by.

Kilometre 17 - End

The end of the race kind of blurs together. I remember that there was a freezie at one point, which mostly melted in my hand as I tried to push by folks with more tired legs than I. I had stopped checking my watch almost altogether for two reasons: one, the course got a bit narrow and I was worried about veering into someone; and two, I had decided to run as hard as I could until I couldn’t anymore. This photo should be a pretty good indicator of how that plan was suiting me in the last few hundred metres. Note, I am not the guy gleefully running off to the side for high fives nor am I the dude who was busy qualifying for Boston (sorry for creeping you Guy, but you crushed it at the end: 20 full minutes ahead of the time needed for your age group. Great job). No, I’m bib 13062 trying desperately to lead this pack to the finish with eyes wide shut (and, if I’m not mistake, Fall Out Boy in my ears). Special thanks to the dude sitting on his lawn with a hose in that last kilometre. Sponges and misting stations ain’t got nothing on the kindness of strangers.

The giant timer at the end read 1:28:00 from where I started to be able to see it. There is the smallest bit of regret that I did not push even harder at the end, although I am not sure there was available energy available at that point: the final 100 metres were run at a 4:02 pace, very close to my first kilometre’s 4:00. Sure, if I could have shaved five seconds somewhere I would have shaved five seconds off somewhere, but when you’ve beaten even your most optimistic goal, you should just take the win. So I did.


Overall, I can’t say I have any complaints: it was a great run and a nice high point to start the season (and my race ‘career’). Clearly this was a good pit stop along the way to the 50km in August, and my training for that served my well here. I did veer off that plan a bit to have a taper week, which was a good move and I’ll repeat something like that for any other races I do before my ultra. There are a few minor tweaks to be made about starting position and perhaps starting a bit slower, but staying more consistent throughout (time to do some reading on pace training I guess). I also need a new running pouch for my phone, because the one I bought for this race won’t be usable again next time. Other than that, we’ll see. I’m doing a couple shorter distance races before August, so I’ll be able to test out whether I can really pull off PB 5 and 10km runs. But, as it stands, I’m feeling great.


Doin' Whatever A Spider Can

01 Jan 2018

Devin Faraci for Birth. Movies. Death.:

This is Tony making a mistake. It’s one of the defining aspects of Tony Stark in the movies - he makes big decisions on the fly and they are quite often either wrong or incredibly destructive, and here he’s making another one.

Pinball Wizards

31 Dec 2017

Tycho Brahe from Penny Arcade:

He also does not understand pinball. I mean, he understands that there is a silver ball and that you can’t let it go down through the hole; he doesn’t understand why I find them beautiful. I tried to find a word to describe how I feel about them that wasn’t the word beautiful, but I couldn’t do that and be honest. They’re playable sculptures; I don’t know what you want from me.

"The internet births interesting societies."

30 Dec 2017

Alice Maz:

I’ve always loved knowable systems. People are messy and complicated, but systems don’t lie to you. Understand how all the parts work, understand how all the parts interact, and you can construct a perfect model of the whole thing in your head. Of course it’s more complicated than that.