The Local Yarn

Re: Welcome to Yarnhood†

A better version of the above:

warning := (true || false) ? "always" : ""
unless (try:warning)
  // try again?
Joel Dueck

So and so has this to say:

“Consider that the ability to concentrate without distraction on hard tasks is becoming increasingly valuable in an increasingly complicated economy. Social media weakens this skill because it’s engineered to be addictive. The more you use social media in the way it’s designed to be used — persistently throughout your waking hours — the more your brain learns to crave a quick hit of stimulus at the slightest hint of boredom.

“Once this Pavlovian connection is solidified, it becomes hard to give difficult tasks the unbroken concentration they require, and your brain simply won’t tolerate such a long period without a fix. Indeed, part of my own rejection of social media comes from this fear that these services will diminish my ability to concentrate — the skill on which I make my living.

“The idea of purposefully introducing into my life a service designed to fragment my attention is as scary to me as the idea of smoking would be to an endurance athlete, and it should be to you if you’re serious about creating things that matter.”

Re: Why America Should Conquer Canada†

Apparently there was a brief period in the 1920s when America and Canada were both secretly drafting plans to invade each other. Tracy Mumford, reporting for Minnesota Public Radio:

“In 1921, a Canadian lieutenant by the name of Buster Brown drafted ‘Defence Scheme No. 1.’ Despite ‘defense’ in the title, it was ‘a full-on invasion plan,’ according to Kevin Lippert, the author of War Plan Red… In the end, he proposed a five-pronged attack. In the west, Canadian troops would take Seattle and Portland. In the east, the Quebecois would occupy Albany. Maine would be reclaimed, as would the Great Lakes. In the Midwest, Brown’s plan called for ‘Prairie Command’ to swing through Fargo and then head south to invade Minneapolis and St. Paul.”
“Defence Scheme No. 1” from War Plan Red By Kevin
“Defence Scheme No. 1” from War Plan Red By Kevin Lippert
Joel Dueck

Re: Art Fare for the Common Man*

*Ten years after posting this, my views on poetry had changed. In the Sep 2013 episode of Howell Creek Radio, I had this to say about the original article:

For example, there’s this short essay on my website from 2003 called Art Fare For the Common Man, in which 22-year old me basically argues (not very well, I now see) that “modern” poetry — meaning pretty much anything after the 1800s that doesn’t rhyme — is all of poor quality because modern poets don’t put enough effort into their poems to make them appeal to normal people on first reading. 22-year old me believes this pretty strongly; 32-year old me finds all kinds of problems with that essay.

I tried to explain the substance of my new position in a chapter of Noise of Creation (‘0019. Non-Imitation’):

You asked me once about “modern poetry,” and whether I had any favourite modern poets, and by some delightful mental process each of us understood modern to mean both “doesn’t rhyme” and “written during my lifetime.”

Because of course “rhyming” is a traditional form, and one meaning of “modern” has to do with departing from tradition.

I didn’t know how to explain modern poetry to you except to explain that novelty is the essence of true communication… Whenever someone says something and you truly get it — when you hear it in your head exactly the way they do — it is always unprecedented. It’s like seeing a new color, or tasting a flavour you’ve never encountered. Tradition is the opposite of communication. Any tradition becomes a coating in your mouth; and poets, being into real communication, have a positive need for invention. At some point it becomes less a question of particular forms and structures, and more a hunt for the taste of that chemical reaction on your tongue.

Joel Dueck

Re: Why America Should Conquer Canada†

I perked up a bit when I read Today's Question from MPR News: Should the U.S. and Canada merge?

I probably wouldn’t write such a thing again today, even as satire. It’s not because the Canadian and US dollars have been at par for a couple of years now, nor because 32-year old me understands better than 18-year old me how a weak dollar can actually be good for an economy. And — you’ll have to trust me on this — it’s not even because I’m married to a Canadian. Even before I met my wife, in the wake of the Iraq war and having learned a little actual history, I woke up to the fact that American hegemony is too real and too stupid to make for good humor.

Besides which. My sense these days is that America is already such a thinly held-together coalition of such wildly different economies, values, and legal cultures that I’m not sure it can be governed fairly or effectively even without any additions.

Joel Dueck