Wordle Is Humane Technology

I listen to a podcast called “Your Undivided Attention” by a group called The Center For Humane Technology. Their core premise is that technologists should be using technology to help people achieve their own goals instead of hacking behavioral science to addict them to devices and programs.

It made me think of the game Wordle that is sweeping through our feeds. It’s an example, I think, of Humane Technology. By limiting its play to once a day (for 5-15 minutes, usually), it resists aiming for success metrics of constant engagement. It’s not about ads. The way you share your results isn’t even a direct means of promotion–there’s no link or tracker. (It’s telling that this was created by a software developer for his girlfriend.) It succeeds by being a short, daily delight.

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All the Best Stories Are Endings

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”

“Closing Time,” Semisonic

“There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.”

The Wheel of Time, Robert Jordan

Sometimes, someone articulates an idea that has been rattling around in your brain with such simple clarity, that it unlocks a new way of looking at familiar things. That’s what Darren Mooney did in The Escapist Magazine when he said that all of The Lord of the Rings is one big ending.

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The Wheel of Time Season One Finale Predictions

Season one of Amazon Prime Video’s adaptation of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time has two episodes left. The show has departed in significant enough ways from the books that I don’t know how the season will end–and that means that it’s time for SPECULATION THAT I ALWAYS GET WRONG. That’s how I have fun with this stuff–seeing how well I can glom onto what the showrunners are doing. There will be SPOILERS for season 1, episodes 1 through 6 of Prime Video’s The Wheel of Time, and some spoilers from Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World. (This post will be updated with what I got right and wrong after the episodes air.)

[UPDATED with the results of Episode 7]

[UPDATED with the results of Episode 8]

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Scared of Bees (full text)

by Rajiv Moté (Fiction, 3,400 words)

Aryeh Levin picked up the newspaper from his driveway to see how the world would disappoint him today. “Rockets Break Cease-Fire.” Well what else would they do? When your only tool is a sword, every problem looks like a neck. Sarah saw vindication in the headlines, never a sign we ought to do better. But on this side of the world, the morning street was quiet. The big houses lining it were variations of his own, with tidy lawns, shady trees, and gardens dappling the green with a Crayola box of blooms. A summer breeze carried their scents. Here, there was enough room to live and let live. He had resisted moving here. Places like this were walled gardens in a complicated world. He encouraged his students to start their adult lives and careers outside such walls. But Aryeh came to agree with Sarah that this was where Dina should grow up. In this neighborhood, on this block, Dina could learn what civilization could be, before her generation had to rescue it.

Aryeh returned a wave from a neighbor, the father of Dina’s friend, the bossy little one with pigtails. He started climbing the stairs to the porch when something strafed in front of his nose. He jerked back, stumble-hopping down a step. It was a bee. The porch was swarming with them.

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Eternals Is a Parable of Middle Management

SPOILERS for the 2021 Marvel movie Eternals

Now that I’ve noted what Eternals is not, it’s worth spending some time on what it is. Eternals is a story about the gods of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And about the gods of those gods. And I can’t help but see it as a parable about organizations with layers of management, and how quickly those layers can become disconnected and unaligned. Maybe I’ve just been a middle manager who has gone through one too many reorgs or acquisitions, but hear me out.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the godlike Celestials charge the somewhat-godlike Eternals with protecting the nascent humans of Earth from an extraterrestrial predator species, the Deviants. The Eternals are not to interfere in any other conflict. But the Eternals live among the humans, and develop sympathy for them. They roll up their sleeves and work with humans, romance them, and build families with them. They chafe against the injunction against protecting humanity against its worst instincts, and are sometimes horrified by what their non-interference AND their interference produces over the span of millennia. In either case, they become emotionally invested. That is, except the leaders among the Eternals, who commune with the Celestials. These upper rung managers know what the Celestials are doing, and know that it’s best not to get too attached.

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Every Day Is a Miracle (full text)

by Rajiv Moté (Flash fantasy, 500 words)

Palms slide on palms, knuckles bump. Tail lights turn the corner. The stereo’s thump fades into the city. Bayard stands at the mouth of the dark alley. His smile dies.

The English accented voiceover says the gazelles know there are lions nearby. See how they keep watch. Tense.

Predators hunt here. Shapeshifters: Adze. But after a night of swagger, your friends don’t walk you to your door. “You can’t live in fear,” they say. But they do. Every damn day. The mayor wants more police, but police can’t tell Adze from human beings. Everyone’s a predator. Everyone’s prey.

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Dragonmount and The Wheel of Time

I’ve been a regular (paid!) columnist for The Wheel of Time fan site, Dragonmount, since 2020. As the site’s crew works through a surge of renewed interest in Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series in the days leading up to Amazon Prime Video’s TV adaptation (November 19!), I’m expanding my duties to join Dragonmount’s podcast series.

This is so exciting for me. For three decades I’ve delighted in writing and talking about The Wheel of Time, and now I get to do it under the sponsorship of Tor Books and our wonderful supporters on Patreon.

On the eve of the Amazon Prime Video show premier, I want to re-surface my first columns of “Rajiv’s Threads In the Pattern” for folks new to the series–books or television. (These will continue to be catalogued in the “Non-Fiction” section of my Published page.)

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I Crave My Meat a Little Rare (full text)

by Rajiv Moté (Flash fantasy, 800 words)

Jada wants to take dinner down to her father, so I slap some raw meat from the cutting board onto a tray. It means she’s not afraid anymore, and she’s still a forgiving child. I want to nurture both. But my heart beats faster. My throat and lungs are still raw.

I don’t tell her to be careful. His temper isn’t hers to manage. It was never mine, either, though I’ve formed instincts over the years. The door groans, the stair creaks, and I hear his breathing, the low rumble of an approaching storm. My muscles coil and an answering growl builds painfully in my chest. I listen for the telltales of agitation I’ve learned during our marriage. I’ll always protect you baby, I told my daughter four days ago, holding her head against my belly, her tears soaking through my shirt.

I relax my grip on the knife I’m using to cut onions, green peppers, and chunks of tomato. That’s not the protection that’s needed. That’s not the situation.

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The Ones Who Charge the Fence (full text)

by Rajiv Moté (Science fiction fable, 3,800 words)

The voices of dinosaurs filled Casuistry Vale, singing the praises of the Great Accord as they did every Summer Festival, celebrating the Gift of a common dinosaur language and the treaty that ended the war between predator and prey. Among the broad-leafed pavilions dotting the stamped-down plain, the Sauropods trumpeted devotionals and the Pterosaurs circled and wheeled, shrieking their accompaniment. All the herds took up the tune. Participation showed commitment.

Chhronk mouthed along. A bull Triceratops who had endured many Summer Festivals, he understood the power of ritual to bind together different herds. But he had no voice for singing, and he only passably wrangled the Gift language. His mate Chha-chhuk was better; still, he’d have rather listened to her sing an old Ceratopsian chant. Strength. Resolve. Righteousness. But those songs were from before the Accord, before Chhronk was hatched. They had no place in this hard-won peace.

The herds preferred not to mix, even those whose ancestors fought on the same side, but for the Summer Festival they genuflected together. It looked unnatural, but Chhronk knew overcoming their worse natures was the point. Festival was a display of peace-bringing power, like a Ceratopsian bull who made the others in his herd lower their horns. But there was no bull here, only an invisible Accord, mightier than all by simple agreement. It demanded more obeisance than Chhronk ever had when he led his herd.

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