Odin's Autumn: Glory to the Fall!

From Inktober, to ramen, from moon viewing to anti-capitalism. This newsletter has it all, folks.

Odin's Autumn: Glory to the Fall!
The glorious full Moon of September.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

That's always been one of my favorite pieces: it's so vivid, so expressive. And, as someone with a tendency to appreciate the darker side of life, it's a poem that captures the dramatic flare of my oft-Romantic heart.

I think that too, the poem carries a relevance beyond the sonic and thematic: we are in an era where the center cannot hold, where our Liberal politics are threadbare in the face of neofascism, and our very ecosystem is threatened by a desertification more vast and terrible than can easily be conceive.

Clearly, this newsletter is going to be a ton of fun.

No, don't worry, I want to write about some of the fun things in my life as well. There are ups and there are downs. But, I firmly believe that a good life is one that surrenders to the reality of the world as it is, not a constructed facsimile of what we want the world to be.

If we want to find peace, we can only do so inside the storm. Nirvana that exists only in calm weather is a lie told by an idiot: it signifies nothing. And, right now, the whole world rests upon a stormy precipice. Ignoring it is not just bad for our own mental and spiritual health, it is the surest path to ruination as a society and a species.

Star Trek meme: Picard saying "open a channel to the Ferangi vessel" and then the Ferangi vessel's viewscreen pops up... and it's an anti-ad-block message.

The Life and Times of Odin (September was a dog in heat)

Coming out of the absolute craziness of summer, September was supposed to be a time of relative simplicity. Sure, I'd be starting my third MLIS semester (with a full course load), and Katie would be teaching full time... but we've done that sort of thing before. We're incredibly active, high-functioning people. We got this.

We don't got this. The middle of September held a nasty surprise.

Within 24 hours, the following happened:

  • The left side of my tongue and neck swelled up like a painful balloon.
  • Katie experienced the onset of what would be the worst stomach flu she has ever had.
  • My mom injured her shoulder and had to spend a week in a sling.

It turns out, salivary glands can get infected. No, I still don't know why mine became infected. It wasn't one of the normal reasons, and the lack of data on this point is not a place of unknowing I'm particularly "zen" about.

As for Katie: four days of constant screaming agony.

My mom fared the best. A little bed-rest and pampering from friends and she was alright. Ah, the resilience of old age.

Over the next couple of weeks, I spent hours going to the ER, to Urgent Care (that was a special type of mess), and generally smacking my face into the wall of our country's deplorable healthcare system.

"Urgent" care

TW: some graphic depictions of health crisis and bodily distress.

There is an urgent care location in my town. You know the type: it's a pay-on-the-spot doctor's office that maintains broad open hours. As it turns out, this one no longer accepts any type of insurance because, and I quote, "of all the red tape." Rather than pay the $125 for a prescription for some antibiotics (which the woman at the front desk yelled at me as I left was "a very reasonable price"), I opted to go to the ER. They didn't believe the situation was severe enough to warrant support.

The next morning, I was literally screaming in pain as a two-millimeter hole opened up under my tongue and began spewing puss into my mouth. Turns out, it was an issue after all!

I logged into an online Urgent Care system, paid a much smaller fee than the in-person Urgent care charged, and got my damn antibiotic at long last.

The next week saw me driving all over creation to doctor's appointments, X-rays, and, finally, a CT scan. It was an exciting time.

A while ago, I was trying to talk to someone about the state of healthcare in the United States. They're not from this country, and they idolize certain things about it. The grass is always greener somewhere else.

Thank you for reading Halvorson Times. This post is public so feel free to share it.

In talking to them, I tried to get across some of the complexities and hugely problematic issues we face in a for-profit society. They responded by talking about how high taxes for healthcare are in European countries. The point, sadly, does not align. I, for one, would happily pay high taxes in exchange for universal, high-quality care. My taxes currently fund warships that don't float, and airplanes that don't fly, so... y'know, single-payer healthcare and a universal basic income seem like a better way to expend our social effort.

But green grass is easy to see if you've got green-tinted glasses.

Anyway, I'm doing better now. I still deal with a fair degree of chronic pain. I've got a number of health issues. But, I have my sights set on the good life, and I lean into the concept of living fully within the muck and the mire, and appreciating the fact that I'm alive for its own sake, rather than some sort of nebulous end goal. It's a practice, mind. Some days, mentally, aren't so great. But that's the point. Like the line from that song in Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "Life isn't bliss. Life is just this: it's living."

The good

I did have some lovely experiences this month. Before our health crisis emerged, we had a lovely evening with some dear friends where I made us ramen and we talked about life and philosophy before settling down to a Farscape marathon.

Then, just this last week, another friend invited our close-knit group over to enjoy a fabulous Moon-party. We viewed this year's largest full Moon, standing huddled in the crisp autumn air as the pale brilliance of our nearest neighbor shone through a diffusion of white cloud.

Then, we enjoyed storytime, a song, and mooncakes! Community is key, folks. As the world gets weirder, forge bonds of companionship, because those are what're going to see you through.

Thanks for reading Halvorson Times! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.

My latest project is finally joining Inktober! I’ve been wanting to do it for ages, and I’m already having a lot of fun learning how to draw.

The world

A tweet: Property manager Tim Gurner We need to see unemployment rise. Unemployment has to jump 40, 50 percent in my view. We need to see pain in the economy. We need to remind people that they work for the employer, not the other way around.

One of the biggest pieces of new is that the Writers Guild of America strike is tentatively ended, with a deal in the works that took me by surprise! I'm prone to pessimism over these things, but this deal actually lands a relatively fair plate on the side of workers. Perhaps more importantly, it sets the norm for future negotiations across all sectors of our society. Since this fight was partly over the use of AI in creative industries, it is a massive deal. (Take a look at authors who recently found out that their books were illegally and immorally trained to create the big AI models).

Do you have a "smart" car? It spies on your sexual activity and general habits and uses that data for momentization. Mozilla's new report on the data privacy of modern cars is nightmare fuel. Enshittification has definitely hit the car industry.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Mandy Cohen is urging people to get the new COVID-19 vaccine booster when it becomes available and says it is expected to be effective against the predominant strains circulating now.” I am so incredibly sick of people not taking the still-existing pandemic seriously.

  • Wear a mask in public, especially indoors.
  • Wash your hands.
  • Be kind to others (or, as Wil Wheaton says: "don't be a dick").

Google just got a lot more horrific. Remember when they removed their official slogan of "Don't be evil"? Yeah, that seemed like a pretty big warning sign to me, too. Well, now they've baked a really horrific type of user-tracking advertising into their Chrome web browser (and no implementation of Chrome is necessarily safe). I'd been using Brave for years, but just switched back to Firefox. Seriously, if you use Chrome for any reason, get the hell out now.

"Hayao Miyazaki's final film, The Boy and the Heron"—a breathtaking exploration of time, fate and other dimensions—premiered internationally at the Toronto Film Festival. The narrative is a complex blend of reality and fantasy narrating the story of a tweenage boy, Mahito (Soma Santoki) challenging personal grief and nudging boundaries of metaphysical realms after the loss of his mother.

Picture of Twitter meme: in the 90's, computers would scream every time you went online. That's called foreshadowing.

Tech giants wooed us with promises of "connection," only to imprison us in their well-crafted "walled gardens." Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and others within the realm of Big Tech, have systematically endeavored to monopolize our digital lives. Check out a new book by Cory Doctorow on this subject, and let's start fighting back against the tech oligarchy!

You can also watch Cory's talk about how we can make these changes, here.

Here's a meme for all my native friends:

A heavily grafittied train: text painted on it reads: Make American 1491 again.

It's getting harder and harder to buy a home. After the 2008 financial crisis, corporations and institutional investors aggressively acquired residential real estate, specifically single-family rentals. This trend appears to be intensifying, with a report by MetLife Investment Management projecting that Wall Street entities could potentially own 40% of single-family rental homes within just seven years. Such an unprecedented concentration of ownership could disrupt the rental market for everyday renters and negatively impact the broader economy. As inflation spikes and Federal Reserve respond by raising interest rates, homeowners may feel the strain and be compelled to sell, granting Wall Street-backed investment firms the opportunity to gain control of a massive 7.6 million single-family rentals, equivalent to 40% of the market, by 2030.

Drawing og le Guin speaking: We live in capitalism, its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings.

California lawmakers pass bill to make it easier to delete online personal data. The Delete Act, a novel bill greenlit by California lawmakers, offers consumers the privilege to oblige all data brokers to eliminate their personal details through a singular request. This is a big deal.

Bernie Sanders continues to prove himself the most capable and important politician in the country with his call for a reduction in work hours to alleviate the stress that is causing a decline in Americans life expectancy. He proposed a shift to a 32-hour, four-day workweek with unchanged pay, as mirrored by demands from the United Auto Workers labor union in its recent strike. Sanders calls for a serious national conversation about reducing workweek hours. He highlights that technological advancements in AI and a shifting auto industry are fostering a more productive society, the benefits of which, he asserts, should go to the workers in the form of reduced working hours and improved work-life balance.

The month ahead

Well, I'm back on board with a strong block schedule.

Along with this, I'm settling into a regular morning writing routine, and I'm so-so happy that I moved to just one day a week at the library. With everything else that I have going on, it's so vital that I have extra time to work on my schoolwork and my other job.

I'm still stressed, still dealing with health problems... but I'm also very optimistic about where all this work will take me, and what good surprises the future might hold.

Just remember to go easy. Or, if you can't go easy... then go as easy as you can.


Subscribe for my regular newsletter. No spam, just the big updates.