Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

10 January 2017

On the Spin #1

I have a good feeling about this year. This is all the cool shit I've already gotten into. Think of it as a catechism for navel-gazing. (Because I do.)

  • If you liked the first season of Serial, you'll love Offshore. Brought to us by Honolulu Civil Beat and PRX, season one revolves around the killing of Kollin Elderts by a white mainland cop, and its relationship to an 80-year-old case and police violence today. You'll also learn about the complicated history of race and colonialism in Hawaii. I'm hooked.
  • The Hamilton Mixtape, free on Spotify or your streaming service of choice. I don't know what you're doing if you're not listening to this. Everybody's on it—including Nas, Regina Spektor, The Roots and even Ben Folds, but my favourite track so far is Immigrants (We Get the Job Done) by K'Naan. I don't know. It's catchy. Also, it's basically the theme of my whole life right now.
  • Monstress by Marjorie Liu and illustrated by Sana Takeda—so gorgeous, violent and compelling I can't stand it:

  • Aspects of the Novel by EM Forster. Nuggets include: "Scheherazade avoided her fate because she knew how to wield the weapon of suspense—the only literary tool that has any effect upon tyrants and savages."
  • The Penguin Galaxy Series boxed set designed by Alex Trochut (and featuring a series intro by Neil Gaiman). It's low-hanging fruit for sci-fi fans. I've read most of these books, but now that I'm reading primarily on Kindle, I weigh the cost of owning a real book by emotional, iconic or artistic merit. This is a mouth-watering combination of all three.

Looking forward to:

  • Sometimes being an expat means acting as a crossroads for people en route to elsewhere. You learn to get comfortable with friendship as shifting sand. So I've decided to ask all present and future friends to bring me something when we meet: A translation of The Little Prince, in hopes I can score all 253 translations before I die. More on this later, probably. I don't know how seriously I'm taking it yet ... but a German version is already on the way, along with a new friend!
  • I'm reorganising my bookcase (stacked—a first for me!) and am kicking off my first big Mystery Giveaway, in which one or two people get the whole lot of volumes transitioning off my shelf. Remember the mystery funpacks at the comic store, how you knew they were filled with crap but it only took one great discovery to make the cost worth it? That's how I feel about this. Except there's no cost; I'm covering everything, including shipping. (I really should have thought this through.)

03 January 2017

Inklust #22: A Distributed Entity

Can one meet a distributed entity in any meaningful sense?
River of Gods, Ian Mcdonald

River of Gods was one of my favourite books of 2016. It takes place in a time when AI can (and often does) have a sense of self, an identity and capabilities that surpass us in a way we perceive as dangerous.

But it also posits that our sense of identity, our sense of self, is so fundamentally different from that of an AI that we can't even approach each other from the same rational framework. Mankind is characterised by slow data transmission: We have to go places, physically send things or speak in order to convey information, or make it travel.

An AI simply copies itself. It's an entity outside space/time; in the book, one AI assistant can be in many places at once, managing your live press conference in one locale while, elsewhere, answering emails, scheduling meetings and picking up calls.

The quote above is a fundamental question that highlights the difference between us and them: Can you actually know (and thus trust) an entity that can be here meeting you, but could conceivably also be here in a thousand other places at once?

In the film Her, this was one of the sticking points for our protagonist. He's having this big conversation with his sultry-voiced OS, a relationship-defining conversation, and he's thrown off by the fact that, however sincere and invested she seems, she's also having a hundred other discussions simultaneously. We can't quite do that, even on our best multi-tasking day.

But today the quote stuck out to me because I started thinking, well, we all do that anyway, within the realm of what is possible. The person I am to my parents is different from the one I am to my close friends, or people who know me exclusively online. Even if we were all to meet in the same room, some people may feel shades of the Angela they don't know, but mostly their existing picture of me would remain intact. 

With this in mind, the biggest difference is that an AI can be all these Angelas simultaneously—having dinner with my parents in California while attending a meeting here in Paris. 

We don't fear artificial intelligence because of its failure to meaningfully relate; we fear the way it challenges our own limitations, our mortality—the way we are enslaved to space/time.

From this angle, it seems petty. My hope in 2017 is not to want to be more than what I am. It doesn't seem to guide us toward anything good. (In River of Gods, it leads to war.)

Photo credit: CSLD on Getty Images


What is "Inklust"? Boy am I glad you asked. Here's the manifesto: part I and part II.

01 January 2017

Chapter 33

It's day one of a new year and a new chapter in the story of our lives. Since I'm turning 33 in June, I've decided to call this Chapter 33.

So, 2016. All things considered—and despite the untimely deaths of Bowie, Prince and Professor Snape, among others—it was packed with good surprises:

  • Generation Creation got published (and I do hope you'll read it, and like it)
  • Hurrah got offices, five employees and closed the year off with 3 awesome long-term clients
  • I appeared in my first panel in French!
  • I made my own soap
  • I KonMari'd and it totally changed my life
  • I learned to knit, and closed out the year with a big-ass blanket
  • I went to concerts!
  • I traveled—a lot. Not far, but I discovered new places

And the traveling and the friending and the magic looks like it'll continue into the new year. January is already packed with new work, trips and visits.

This is chapter 33 of my life. If I'm lucky, I get around 85 of these. You can't waste a whole chapter, or multiple chapters, on things or people you don't like when you could be doing otherwise. There just aren't enough of them.

So let's raise our glasses to the next chapter. The pages are virgin and resplendent in white. We can pick how we mark them. I want to assume that choice every day, even if there's failure and sadness. It's all building to something that I hope will be beautiful, and there's no beauty without strain or real stakes.

Now: off to write a "thankfulness" email to an old new friend in response to her "thankfulness" text, in part because I know she hates email.

28 December 2016

Today in Things I Thought Would Make Me Happy

  • Baggy pants
  • An N26 account
  • Label maker
    • Label maker with thermal ink
    • Label maker with thermal ink that can also print on cloth, nylon or plastic
    • Label maker with thermal ink that can also print on cloth, nylon or plastic and that saves addresses
    • Label maker with all of the above that doesn't require 6 AAA batteries
  • A hand calculator
    • A solar hand calculator
    • A yellow solar hand calculator
    • A solar hand graphing calculator ... just in case?
  • A Rolodex
  • A battery charger 
  • A vertical mouse "for better ergonomics"
I acted on too many of these impulses. On the cheery up, now I have labels.

09 November 2016

We had a bad day. What's next?

28 April 2016

A Potentially Incomplete List of Things I Keep Lists Of

  1. Tasks, organised by type (freelance, personal life, money owed, money loaned, etc. Long-term projects get their own special separate lists)
  2. Shopping list
  3. Things to pack for a given trip
  4. Talking points for given events... or just to have a handle on what I want to say if I have my hand raised
  5. Things I'd like to watch, and who referred them
  6. Things I might read, and who referred them
  7. Books I've read—the longest list running in terms of seniority. I think it's about six years old?
  8. Shows I'm currently watching and have completed, plus notes on who referred them and how I generally feel about them
  9. Articles or stories I'd like to write
  10. Articles or stories written on a given day, and the word count (20.000 words at MIP alone!)
  11. People I hang out with (full name, current job title, date, location, what we discussed, photo)
  12. Things I may like to buy—a list I often forget about, but that's by design. When I open the list again, sometimes years later, I buy the thing if I still want it and the timing is right. Or I delete it, because it's otherwise taking up room on the list
  13. Potentially cool book ideas
  14. Potentially cool business ideas
  15. Patterns I'd like to knit—possibly my youngest list
  16. Things to be grateful for—not often updated, but generally updated in times of duress. It's a good exercise
  17. People to buy presents for, and/or presents to buy people, and why 
I think that's everything, but I can't really be sure. Written out like this, it seems a bit manic. But the funny thing about lists is that they become religions, planets around which I orbit, gravitational anchors to keep from spinning into chaos.

It's possible that I do this because, like marketing people frenetically counting Likes, it's an easy way to mark progress. And maybe at some point, these small demarcations of a life will yield a deeper thing I'm trying to keep track of but can't quite put a finger on. 

That's about all I have to say about lists.