selfaware soup

Esther Weidauer

Week of Nothing

2022-10-17

Roughly chopped dark chocolate

Did this week happen at all?

It’s been a weirdly uneventful week. When I was thinking about what significant things happened, they were all in the week before or already kind of part of the next one. I guess it’s ok, not every week needs to have a lot of things to write a bout in it.


I still struggle a lot with my creative writing. I had set myself a goal of writing a short story by the end of next week and so far I only managed to put together an outline and plot that I don’t particularly like. I might end up scrapping this attempt at writing fantasy and return to horror. What was mostly bothering me is how I ended up with a plot that restores the status quo from the beginning, something a lot of fantasy is criticized for, being more about restoring a past “good” state rather than actual progress. It feels strange to step right into that trap, almost as if the genre guides towards that kind of outcome.


A little mental health realization came this week about why I often feel alone when facing conflict. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that as a kid I rarely (if ever) experienced tangible support (like, someone actually taking my side) when facing violence or abuse. And later as an adult is only became harder to ask for help.

I’ll have to think about this some more but I might be onto something there.


I tried to make pralines this week as a gift and failed spectacularly. I don’t remember preparing any other food that tasted this bad, ever. Turns out you can absolutely screw up chocolate and doing so is easier than it might seem.


TikTok remains a strange experience. There’s more consistency now but I still get these strange dives into corners of the platform that are obviously not the kind of content I want to see.

It also becomes more and more clear how manipulative this app is, to the extent that the feeling of being tricked into watching negates the enjoyment of actually seeing videos I like.

I’m also becoming more aware of which videos are actually advertisements, something that really isn’t obvious at first. The distinction between product demo, review, dunk, or sponsored post are almost entirely blurred and often the only way of identifying ads is to ask myself when a video feels a bit off “Why would someone make this specific vide? Who has any benefit from this video existing?”


An interesting question someone asked me this week was “What is something you believe, an opinion you hold, or philosophy you follow that would not be compatible with most people?”

I’s say, probably nihilism. Although most people’s understanding of nihilism is very basic and often misses the point, even when exploring it in more detail, it tends to not work for many or downright upset them. I think most people have an easier time tolerating when someone assigns a different meaning to a thing than entertaining the notion that there might not be an inherent meaning at all.

I wanted to write in more detail about my particular flavor of nihilism for a while and maybe this is a nudge to finally do that.


Maybe a very specific thing but I found a way to do transparent backgrounds in Processing, and saving them to PNG files. This brings me one step closer to using Processing for video motion graphics as I can then overlay a video with transparent background over the regular video without needing to do any chroma keying. Promising stuff. The trick is to render into a separate PGraphics object instead of the main view, and saving the output as a PNG from there:

PGraphics img;

void setup() {
  size(100, 100);
  img = createGraphics(width, height);
}

void draw() {

  //draw to the image
  img.beginDraw();
  img.fill(255);
  img.ellipseMode(RADIUS);
  img.ellipse(mouseX, mouseY, 10, 10);
  img.endDraw();

  //optional: draw the PGraphics to the screen
  background(0);
  image(img, 0, 0);
}

//save the PGraphics to file
void mousePressed() {
  img.save("image_" + millis() + ".png");
}

I hope I find the time to test this properly next week.


Adam Conover has a good explainer on Why There’s No Such Thing as a Good Billionaire. Philanthropy of the ultra-rich is something that so often throws a wrench in many people’s reasoning about whether there even should be somethings like a billionaire. This might help.

AI Language Models Are Struggling to “Get” Math, was a nice short read about the problems that large language models have interpreting math problems, much more than humans do. It’s a particular pet-peeve of mine when people believe these language models can “think” in any human-like capacity, which they can’t.

The most recent episode of Tech Won’t Save Us, How Tech is Remaking the Food System, had some good insights into how tech companies influence industrial farming, how agriculture companies are moving into tech themselves, and how a lot of they promises, especially that of reducing carbon emissions, don’t hold up.

The Difference Between Anamorphic And Spherical Lenses Explained was a nice explainer on a big thing in cinema. If you’re interested in the more technical details of why certain film have a particular look to them, this is a big part of it.

Tom Nicholas released a video essay about how mainstream media promote anti-trans sentiments while maintaining an appearance of neutrality or even seemingly improving their inclusivity towards trans people.