RL264 - Whisker Fatigue

This week, Merlin and John talk about

The problem: ”They started arguing with the graphic”, referring to John posting several graphs of data without commentary on Twitter and people were trying to argue with the data itself.

The show title refers to a cat diagnosis caused by their whiskers getting rubbed against the edge of a too narrow bowl.

Draft version
The segments below are drafts that will be incorporated into the rest of the Wiki as time permits.

John’s new podcasting studio (RL264)

John is recording on his new old computer in his new old studio room. His table is not big enough for the computer, so he put a little cocktail table to the side of the table to hold the monitor, a little like the master control unit in Tron. On the table itself is only the wireless Logitech sunshine powered keyboard that Merlin had turned him on to. John doesn’t like using a wireless mouse, because it feels like an offense to nature. It is like a farmer’s wife cut off their tail with a carving knife! Therefore John uses a wired mouse. Although it might be mouse racism, he neither want a mouse that looks like it was made for a PC with a lot of buttons and a spinner-ball. The mouse is not supposed to look like he is at a nail salon getting a manicure or look like a Koy pond, but it should look like a gentleman’s mouse! John has an Apple wired USB mouse that came with one of his old computers, it is clear plastic and has only one way of clicking. It is on a very short chord and is not meant to be strung around, so John had to go on a quest for an USB extension cable. He was not going to go to the store or to Amazon to buy one, but he was setting out to find it in his cable archives. He has 40 boxes or various power cables, 1/4” cables, XLR-cables and wall-warts for every distortion box of every manufacturer ever. John spent the equivalent of the man hours they used to build the Panama Canal looking for a simple cable that everyone should have, but there was not! He went to Amazon feeling defeated, like every time he goes to Amazon. "Okay, Bezos, you got me again, take my money and build another magic dirigible that you wouldn’t show the rest of us because they have cloaking devices and you are not even sharing the fun with us!"

Building your own Hindenburg (RL264)

If John was Elon Musk, he would have built a to-scale replica of the Hindenburg minus the swastikas. He would deck it out even nicer with white glove service and everything. He wouldn't even use it to go places, but he would just park it off the coast and use it as his apartment.

John thought about this a lot during the time he was interacting with the orbit of that preppy bro who started SnapChat, a rich young kid with a rich lawyer dad who started this thing and now he got $1 billion and 100.000 pairs of glasses that he can’t move. He did a smart thing with his money and bought up the entire town of Venice, California including Santa Monica Airport. If his company tanks, at least he has all this real estate rather than keeping that money in Sports Football teams like Paul Allen does. Why wouldn’t that kid have a Hindenburg built for himself and have it parked slightly off the coast of Venice and just sit there all day with those engines? Merlin always loved forts and hideouts, his favorite place in 8th grade at peak weirdo was a crawl space that you could access from the garage via a door and you would put your Christmas shit up there. Having that place in your house, but still away from your house was like finding a secret room. It felt really underutilized and you could just as well bring a ”Chose your own adventure” book, chips and a 16oz bottle of coke up there. He was not supposed to go up there and it troubled his family a bit, but Merlin just didn’t want to be around people. He put up a book shelf and a little radio. There is something appealing for an introvert weirdo person to have a hiding room.

John working at a Punk Rock Pizza parlor

John used to work at a punk rock pizza parlor where the pizza parlor people all moved in together in one rickety janky old apartment building. The nice bedroom belonged to the responsible girl who was kind of the assistant manager, the next bedroom belonged to the girl that worked hard and the next bedroom was the lazy girl and her incompetent friend. There was an actual finished stair up to an unfinished attic without a floor, so a couple of the dudes put in a lot of effort, money and ingenuity to buy wood and nail it down, building an additional floor in this apartment building when the rent for the whole thing was probably $400. It was a big attic space where you could stand up in and they had turned it into this incredible loft that they constructed out of thin air. It was such a step up from John’s thing which was ”Is anybody sleeping on this couch tonight?” It was at a time when John was behaving just shamefully and what should have been wonderful memories of his mid-to-late drug period were just awful. That building was eventually torn down and replaced with a skeezy new 8-story tall condo. John rejoiced a little, because some of his bad memories had been buried in a hole. John is with Merlin about the forts.

Secret rooms (RL264)

All John ever wanted was a secret room. His good friend Matt Dresdner, former bass player of The Gits, had done a gut-renovation of his house and John’s first question was if he had a secret room installed. On the face of it, his denial that he had a secret room built is a smart move, but he could tell in his reply that he didn’t have a secret room built, because he said ”I talked to the contractor about a secret room and it ended up that the bid to build a secret room was prohibitively expensive.

The entire inside of John’s aunt’s beach house, walls and ceiling, was made of dark-green painted beadboard. It is a style of Oregon beach house that is an imitation of the Cape Cod beach house. Oregon in 1890 really wanted to be Cape Cod in 1790 and they built whole communities including the little town of Gearhart, Oregon in imitation of this. They used weather-seater-shingles and so on. A lot of the beach houses and vacation homes on the East Coast are not insulated, but they are almost like a hovel. The houses in Cape Cod look like beautiful elegant 3-story homes from the outside, but the inside isn’t done. At the end of the season, they lock the door and they don’t come back until May or June. The weather in the Northwest is never consistent enough that you would build a house like that. In the Northwest they don’t have air conditioning anywhere, but they do put insulation in things. Because the beadboard is just panels, there were a few different places where you could press on the wall and it would go ”clunk”. The wall would open and that was where they had their liquor cabinet: Behind the wall next to the fireplace. The problem was that over the course of 50 years of living there, this was a popular spot where 10.000 hands have touched that wall and now there is this gray hand-shaped stain and you can tell that there is a a secret door.

In the hierarchy of secret rooms you get up from monk-holes to a secret panel, a hidden corridor to a secret room. It doesn’t even have to be a V for Vendetta room, but it should be big enough to have a place to lay down. The first thing John does when he is in a space for any length of time is walk around trying to make sure that the physical space as he perceives from the outside comports with the way that the space is configured inside. Merlin does the same thing! There could be a secret red room in your basement that you don’t know about until it is 3:15am.

John talked before about the house in Sun Valley that he went to with his friend Trevor. After their steak dinner they were smoking cigars and Trevor's uncle asked if they wanted to see his gun room. It was in the 1980:s and before the time when you would immediately associate a gun room with a murderer. They walked into the closet and then through a secret door into an entire bedroom-sized room full of machine guns. He was not a survivalist, but just a rich eccentric. He did probably also have a room full of gold bars that he didn’t show them, but at the time conspiracy was not a mainstream thing. John’s first contact with conspiracy theories was a book called ”Behold the pale horse”. It was the first book that talked about all the conspiracies and made the argument that they are all connected. There only has to be a lose association for a conspiracy to be born. It takes a very strong character to write a book like this and stay a sane person.

Gun violence (RL264)

Yesterday John posted a couple of graphs from Vox.com without commenting on them and then he watched the Internet steamrolling on. They were about gun ownership and gun violence by state and by nation with predictable results. It was obvious that more guns lead to more gun deaths. The first Twitter responses were validating, amplifying, and preaching into the choir. Then it went into the realm of Internet professor when the word ”causation” was used. It found its way to people sitting on their branches out in the dirt and while John made no comment and there is no commentary inside the graphs, people started arguing with the implication that they drew from the graphic. A wave of ”correlation does not equal causation” came up gradually. It is another one of those ”ad hominem-attacks” or ”strawman-fallacies” where a term is used enough that it is disseminated out to a group of people who don’t really know how to use it. John can't count the number of ways he read the word strawman during the last election! People talk to conspiracy theorists when they see that there is some correlation, but it doesn’t mean that there is causation. Then the conspiracy theorists will turn it around and will use it to argue with just bare statistics. It is the price of freedom! It is not the gun that kills people, but the bullet! What are you going to do? Make bullets illegal? Or you make cars illegal? Here is a picture of Nick Thune with an eagle for a hat, your argument is invalid, sir!

Lucy the cat (RL264)

Merlin was recently looking at litter boxes. You can spend a lot of money for a self-cleaning one and some people even want a litter box that also doubles as an end-table or a night stand, which for Merlin feels like the worst of all worlds. You wouldn’t want your refrigerator to be invisible, you don’t need to be ashamed to have a refrigerator, we all have them and it is just nature! A lot of cat boxes are advertised as smell-proof, but John has not seen any out in the wild that were truly smell-proof. They all just smell like cat-boxes. We put a man on the moon, we invented the Roomba, but we can’t put metal in the microwave and a microwave cannot cook the center of a lasagne no matter how long you put it in there. Why is there no way to own a cat and not have your whole house smell like a cat’s anus? Some people teach their cat to crouch on the toilet seat, but cat training seems very difficult because it is more a feline suggestibility. They tell you that those self-cleaning boxes that look like a space capsule work fine, but they also tell you about cat training.

John visited a cat last night that he used to own, her name is Lucy. After his wonderful cat Louis was killed, he was despondent. One of his friends had a cat. Then they had a baby and it turned out that the guy didn’t want to be tied down by a bunch of rules, so their relationship ended and as a parting gift he gave the kid a cat although the mom didn’t want that at all. It was one of those cats that were weaned too early, his head was too small for its body, it was not the prettiest cat and not the one John would have picked. In fact, it is one of those cats that John’s mom would suggest you drown in a river (she is from Ohio and she had 20 cats living under the corner grip). The cat would purr the first time you touched it, the second time it would rub against your hand and the third time it would grab you with its claws and bite you. It had trust issues because it was purchased by this guy who handed it over to a 1,5 year old and a woman who didn’t want it there.

The cat stayed for a while with these progressive people and good friends of John’s. They taught their kid pre-verbal child sign-language, because a child can communicate before it can speak. One day the mom found the cat with claws into each side of the baby’s head, cat-biting the baby’s pate, while the baby was frantically signing ”Stop!”, but the cat didn’t speak baby-sign-language. John is a cat-whisperer and the mom asked him for help to get this cat out of there. He did what a cat-whisperer does: Don’t approach the cat, but let the cat find you! He was like the bus-driver in the Dustin Hofman movie Dark Day Afternoon who fooled the audience in the big twist at the end of the movie. The cat eventually found John, he picks it up and the cats gives John two/three pads before it is biting and clawing him, but in a way that it thinks is fun. John had been clawed by bigger cats, so he just put the cat in the box like a Blofeld pet, which the cat was not expecting. The cat never expects the box. If you leave a box out, the cat will go into it, but the cat expects that box. If you approach that box with a cat in it and try to close that box, it depends on the cat and will work sometimes, but in this instance it was like "Hey, cat, why don’t you go in this box for a little bit?" John tried to seal the box with masking tape, but the cat wasn’t into it and masking tape was not sufficient.

John read a thread on Quora the other day where some European smartypants was like ”why are American cops so rough?” and there were predictable answers from a bunch of cops, but one cop proposed a thought experiment: ”Why don’t you go wherever you are and find the smallest adult person you know. Now try to put hand-cuffs on them when they don’t want you to!

John initially convinced the cat that it was a game and he put enough masking tape on the box, picked the box up and hustled to the door with the cat in the box. By then the cat realized that the jig was up. John didn’t want to let the cat out of the box outside because it is not an outside cat, but it immediately had 9 paws coming out of this box as it was thrashing and meowing. He got to his car and he wouldn't care if the cat would come out of the box, because the car is a contained environment. His friend put a bunch of cat accoutrements in the trunk and they got home while the cat was walking around the car roaring at John. Luckily it was a girl cat and was not pissing on everything. At home, John and the cat started living together. He could never mentally separate it from Lucy van Pelt, because they have the same personality. It clawed the shit out of your ankles in the morning while you were not ready and you would get into a Clouseau v. Cato type situation where the cat thinks it is funny while John had cat scratch fever the entire time.

They lived together for about 6 months before John gave it to his mom and his mom was fine because she had 20 cats living under the corn crib and only two of them had names. She was not trying to train her to go to the bathroom, but she would just not care and she knows what to do with a disagreeable cat. She made Lucy understand like all other animals that you don’t just leap out behind a piece of furniture and claw John’s mom. You do that exactly once! She doesn’t beat them or anything, but John has no idea how she does it. Eventually she said that there is no magic to this cat and if she is going to feed and clothe a worker, she would like that worker to be working in the mine. A cat has a job and this cat is not performing up to the standards of employment. Right about that time, Eric Corson, bass player of the Long Winters, spent a lot of time in that house, because they had built a little studio in the rock ’n’ roll monk-hole in the basement. John called it the red room because it had red carpet, but the walls were painted gun-metal grey. Eric loved it down there and they spent a bunch of time recording tambourine tracks for the unreleased 4th Long Winters record.

Eric and Lucy saw each other across a crowded dance floor and moved through the crowd toward one another, met int he middle and were never to be apart. To this day, Lucy lives happily with Eric Corson at his house in White Center, Seattle and Eric thinks about her and she thinks about him every minute of their lives. Every morning she attacks him and shreds his ankles which is her ultimate gesture of love. She loves him as much as John has seen any animal loving a person. John had been over to Eric’s house interacting with Lucy, but his impression is that he has had more interesting interpersonal interactions with a hard-boiled egg than with Lucy. She and Eric understand each other perfectly and John could watch her being a good house cat, a good studio cat, a good companion and a good friend. She and Eric play this game like an adult and a toddler would do where they go around the house until the cat doesn’t know where to go and she will go the other way and then he will go the other way and they can play this forever and both have the time of their lives. John had thought he would have to take the cat down to the ferry and then leave the ferry without her. Either she would have jumped into some car or the ferry people would have found a new home for her, but that was not necessary because all Lucy needed was Eric and all Eric needed was Lucy.

Merlin got one of those electric cat relaxers that supposedly has a smell that is relaxing the cat. Now they have to get refills, which are the ultimate eel! He has a reminder in his todo-app to check on that thing every two weeks. His family determined that it makes a difference. He also has bowls that prevent whisker fatigue.

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