Morning view of the reflection in the skyway windows as I pass from the street to my office. Four buildings in the picture; can you spot them all?

I think we all expect other nations to hang up in space and take pictures of the US, but the idea there’s some balloon phineus-fogging its way overhead is a bit disconcerting. They can’t shoot it down for fear that it will strew debris, we’re told. Uh huh.

Since this is rather provocative, I’m not discarding the idea it was a research experiment that got lost and drifted over here. Of course, I went to reddit to see what the conspiracies are, and hello: it’s a low-effort psy op to get the population ready for war with China. Yeah, that makes sense. Poor China. Sitting there just minding its own business, unaware we’re about to invade so we can take . . . well, I’m sure there’s something we can take. Oil? No - solar panel production! That’s it! No blood for photons!

I worry sometimes that Friday turns into “complaining about the internet” day, but then I realize I don’t really worry about that at all.

This was retweeted into my feed this week. One of those things that will be useful for future historians who want to understand the effects of social media on the culture.


Behold the Momfluencer

It's the board

It's the frickin' board

It's the fact that she's holding it and looking in the other direction. AT WHAT. A bear making a heart by holding up two paws


The replies - on Instagram and Twitter - are much more fun, because people recount with joy their TV memories, which were usually nostalgic, warm, and fuzzy, as opposed to cold and wet, like above. I have some specific TV memories, and some specific parental wildnerness memories. There's room for both.

The fact that this woman takes her kids out for walks in the woods is of no use to any of us, and not important to anyone else. But she felt compelled to make that sign and set up a tripod and make the kids stand in the water. And now we have to have, if only for a moment, an opinion about it. Social media provokes constant low-level intellectual aggravation, because you must always have an opinion about someone else's opinion.

The other thing that’s starting to give me hives: people saying things on TikTok. Saying anything. These faces in portrait mode declaiming something with utter authority. I don’t use TikTok, but it comes up on Twitter, and just the sight of A Face tells me I’m going to hear that intonation, see those quirky facial expressions, and get a smug pedantic explanation of something delivered with utter confidence, perhaps introduced by the synthetic Chinese robot lady reader.

It's like living in a busy city where every third person stops and says something to you.

And now, our new Friday feature. Extracts from the Dream Diary . . . illustrated by Artificial Intelligence.

At a small music store. I had picked up a guitar to play a little, and was surprisingly good. A guy sat down next to me dressed like a 60s nerd - thrift store clothes, slightly rank.

I asked about his Telecaster, and he showed me the whole rig: an ungainly metal structure that he strapped around his back. When he sat down it win a special seat it connected everything to the amp and mixing board.

I left shortly thereafter with an unlit cigar in my mouth, and he made slight mocking coughing noises of protest.

Earlier I had witnessed the Russian launch of a cake; it rose straight up from the oven, as the entire team stood in unison and applauded out of pride. You had to admire their spirit and control. The American version did not do so well; when it rose and made the turn through the open window in the side of the wall, it knocked off one layer. I repaired this and got up on a ladder and pushed the cake out of the window, pretty sure it wouldn’t rise into space but would simply fall to ground. When I was outside later, though, I looked, and there wasn’t any cake. Either it had been eaten by wild animals, or it had gone into orbit.

AI Prompt: Soviet space program cake.

Bolshoi fondant, comrade.


I guess it's a celebration for Cosmonaut Dunsovich:

Comrades, we have fond the remains of Comrade Valentina Tereshkova; she was mailing some letters when the dust-slide buried her

Tereshcova had a song written about her by some Kraftwerk emulators.

Valentina Tereshkova in the news in 2020:

Now 83, she has became a hate figure for some Russians after this week putting forward a constitutional amendment that could allow President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036.

She was also sanctioned by the West for supporting the invasion of Ukraine.

I don't think the grocery store can pull this one off:

One more. This is my favorite.





Remember when this was a pit? Just a concrete thumb rising from a hole?

It's far less attractive than I thought it was going to be, but we'll see how the corner turns out. If it's mostly glass, good. If it's not, well, a missed opportunity.

You might recall that we were doing another large project before I swapped my walks for the gym. It's rising from its pit, and we'll get to it next week.

Say, this situation of imminent execution ought to be memorialized with a photo. Let me get out my Speed Graphic and load a bulb and shoot it undetected

It's always the little things.

Solution is here.

Bonus fun! This year's old newspaper feature: a social no-no single-panel illustration. Can you figure out what's wrong?

The answer will be yours on Monday. For now, speculate away.

Now two ways to chip in!

That will do! Hope you enjoyed your visits this week and found them a useful application of your time. See you here next week for more of the same - except all different.




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