Mar 272015
 

403483In an interview, Hideaki Anno (writer & director of Neon Genesis: Evangelion) was asked what he thought of the immense popularity of Evangelion. He replied that it was one of the saddest things he could imagine. That so many people could relate so strongly to a story about this sort of pain was depressing beyond belief. (Note that I don’t have a primary source, only a recollection of an anecdote someone relayed. Please take this as apocryphal at best.)

So in one sense, I think it’s a good thing that everyone seems to be trying so desperately to “find the motive” of the Germanwings co-pilot. It means that most people do not intuitively understand that mindset. It means most people have not felt that particular despair. This can only be a good thing.

But honestly, I kinda wish they would stop. I think that this is one of those things you either get immediately, or you never understand at all, and no amount of digging and prying can truly make you understand. And that is for the best. Let it lie, and just accept that he was a sick mother-fucker, and sometimes true evil does exist. Criminal investigation should continue, to ensure there wasn’t any other party encouraging him that should be hunted down and punished for their part in it, however unlikely that is. But this pop-search for “what drove him” won’t lead to a deeper understanding for any casual observer. At this point it’s little more than entertainment, and it’s distasteful.

Mar 202015
 

surrogate familiesThere have been many tears shed and much ink spilled on the internet over what makes one a Geek. I’m not here to wade into that debate, but I will say that there is one experience that seems to have been shared by all geeks – isolation. The sense of being an outsider, not fitting in anywhere. Not even within one’s own family. It’s one of the more painful aspects of geekdom.

Over the lifecycle of a geek, as we mature we often break from our parents and siblings and create new families for ourselves. Families we don’t share blood with, but which are much closer to us than the people we were raised with. Unable to fit into the home we were born into, we create a new home for ourselves, where we can at last feel understood and accepted.

All of Joss Whedon’s best works share this core aspect – a group of misfits who come together and create a new family of themselves. A surrogate family. It is my contention that this is the thing that makes Joss’s work so beloved by geeks, more so than any other single factor. The families aren’t perfect, they have as much dysfunction as any other. But they are home, and those emotional bonds are what we love to see on TV.

So it’s tragic and infuriating when the mundane society that left us feeling so outcast in the first place comes back and tries to destroy what we’ve created for ourselves. You’ve probably already heard of the Scarborough Street Family, but just in case not – an intentional family of eight adults and three children who bought a large home to renovate and live together in are being forced out by neighbors, citing a zoning law that disallows more than two “unrelated” people from living together. Mother fuckers!

Dunno if it’ll do any good, but here’s a petition.

Probably more importantly, here’s a place to contribute to the legal fund. I did.

What kind of assholes come around and try to break up families like this?? Family values my ass.

Mar 132015
 

The_Martian_2014The Martian, by Andy Weir

Synopsis: An astronaut is stranded on Mars and must survive until NASA can send a rescue mission months later.

Book Review: I went in wanting to like this book, because I love narratives of the new economy triumphing over Old Media. I was not disappointed. :)

The best thing about this book is Andy Weir’s voice. He writes in an extremely personable style – you feel as if you are having a conversation with him right there in the room, and he’s an awesome guy to have a conversation with! He’s witty, and extremely funny, and energetic, and very friendly. This is a guy you want to know, and you get to know him for hundreds of pages. It is ridiculous amounts of fun. His humor isn’t the stilted humor you often find in books – it’s the way people today actually joke amongst themselves, and there were several times I literally laughed out loud.

The second best thing about this book is the problem-solving with real science & engineering. If you liked Apollo 13, there’s a damn good chance you’ll like this book too. It uses the same sort of solutions that combine the esoteric and extremely specialized equipment you have around you with a huge knowledge base to produce brilliant engineering hacks.

The third best thing about this book is that it is written clearly and doesn’t talk down to you. It realizes most people aren’t NASA scientists, so it explains everything to the lay person in common language. And Weir’s character is so friendly and likable that he always does it in a way that makes you feel like you’re a co-conspirator working with him, not a kid he’s lecturing to.

The book does have a few problems. First is that it’s written far too linearly. There is a problem, and then it is solved. Then a new problem is introduced. Then it is solved. Repeat until the end. This killed the tension after every solution, and eventually became predictable and therefore a tad boring. I read a disaster-recovery novel many years ago entitled “A Signal Shattered” which had a similar concept, but new problems were introduced before old ones were solved, sometimes putting the previous problem on hold with something more urgent, sometimes having to be resolved at the same time. Sometimes the solution to an old problem from several chapters back would provide a tool for solving a new problem, or vica versa. Othertimes solving one problem would simply lead to two new ones. The point was, the tension never died away altogether. That would have been a good thing to do.

Secondly, when it comes to the technical aspects of writing, Weir isn’t good at that yet. Whenever he stays with the blog-post-style (most of the novel) it’s fantastic, you love reading the words. But in the few places he switches to a traditional third-person narrative you can tell he’s a first-time writer, the words feel flat and the action feels clunky. There are things you can say in personal conversation which are perfect for conversation, but which do not fly in prose narrative. That’s why people don’t talk like books, and why books don’t sound like people talking. I’m sure Weir will learn over time how to write sharp narrative prose, but it was apparent that it’s not his strong suit.

That being said, all the fun and strong parts of the book really outshine its flaws. Recommended.

Book Club Review: This novel is perfect for book clubs. It reads quickly, several members finished it in a couple days. It makes you want to keep coming back for more, and you can read it in small pieces if you need to. It gives you quite a few things to talk about, both in its strengths and its flaws. One of our members used to work for NASA, and we were regaled with tales of how strict and uptight NASA culture was, and how no one who acted like any of the characters in the novel would have a job for more than five minutes at NASA. :) Another member pointed out that the protagonist is almost a non-character. He has no history, never mentions his past, and never hints at feelings deeper than super-smart class-clown. And yet everyone still loved this book. You can’t not love it, and that makes you want to talk about it a lot, both to discuss the joys of it, and to pick over the flaws. It even touched on a few interesting questions about humanity (how many tens of millions of dollars will we spend to save one well-known man, when we’re unwilling to use that same money to save hundreds of thousands of unknown peasants?) without ever being heavy handed or taking away from the fun of the story. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a better book for book clubs. Strongly Recommended.

Mar 102015
 

sad_puppies_3_patchLast year, when the Sad Puppies scored their first hit against the Hugos, I was of the opinion that Larry Correia shouldn’t come to the ceremony. I felt that “While his attendance may irritate some people, it will give them the opportunity to either shun him, or show their good graces by accepting him anyway. Either option will be a bit of a loss. Showing his contempt with a pre-emptive rejection of the entire affair is the best possible play, as far as I see it.” Larry must have been thinking something along the same lines, because he didn’t attend.

That was true for last year’s Hugos, when the Sad Puppies first sallied forth to strike a blow for their side. You don’t stick around after something like that. Catch ‘em off guard, hit ‘em, then dance out of reach. This year is different. Because this year the narrative has changed. It’s no longer “Screw those elitist jerks. Let’s show ‘em what-for, ha!” It’s now “We’re taking back the Hugos! For fandom!”

I won’t comment about the narrative itself, as much more articulate people have already said it better than I can.   But this obviously implies something very different for Larry’s personal involvement. Specifically – he should attend WorldCon this year.

Last year was a proof of concept, or a display of strength if you will. A magnificent Counting Coup. But all that gets you is praise and glory. You can’t hold ground with a hit-and-run attack, you have to actually occupy the territory. In the realm of fancons, occupying territory consists of getting people from your side to show up physically at the con (and hopefully enjoy themselves). Literal boots on the ground. And how do you get people to show up to a con? Give them what they want. You are their admired leader, they would love to see you in person, to watch you treading upon the newly-conquered land of the enemy. Go to the con.

Maybe organize a dinner event. Maybe contact the con organizers and ask for several panels. Larry is a huge draw. You know how thrilled the programming department would be to have a best-selling author volunteer to talk for an hour? They’d be ecstatic! And Larry’s fans would love it!

More importantly, word would spread that yeah – Larry, Brad, and the rest of the Sad Puppies are actually serious about this. The number of people on Larry’s side who are willing to go to these cons would grow yearly. If they enjoy themselves, they’ll keep coming back. And that’s really the key: people held together by a sense of community, that want to keep coming back and seeing each other, and the leaders they admire, year after year. That’s how you create a demographic shift, so that the Hugos represent your side just as much as the other side – get your side to want to show up.

Sure, it’ll be uncomfortable for the first year or two. Was retaking territory from a hostile force supposed to be easy? Nothing worth doing was ever done without struggle. You can hang back and hope the troops set up a nice comfortable green zone for you to walk into. Or you can lead from the front.

I love watching this play out, and I’d like to see it continue. I hope Larry Correia comes to Sasquan.

Mar 052015
 

300x300xhugo-awards.jpg.pagespeed.ic.AsqaLzncTzThe deadline for the 2014 Hugo Nominations is almost upon us. I really should get to this a little earlier one of these years. Anyway, as is tradition, here are my noms.

Short Stories

Economies of Force, by Seth Dickinson.
I wrote an entire blog post about why this story is amazing and pushing the cutting edge of SF forward, so this is obviously my favorite. How do we react when we become the component parts of a super-human agent?

Kumara, by Seth Dickinson.
I really like Seth Dickinson. A beautiful post-singularity transhumanist story. And murderous too.

Kenneth: A User’s Manual, by Sam J. Miller
A heart-tearing story of desire and super-stimulus. “When it comes to beauty, we are insatiable. Art does not make us feel better. Love songs and Virtual Kenneths and Rembrandts only feed the fire that consumes us.”

Never the Same, by Polenth Blake
Strange Horizons does a great job with fiction starring non-neuro-typicals, IMO. Last year’s Difference of Opinion (by Meda Kahn) with an autistic protagonist was fantastic, I posted about it then. This year’s Never the Same has extremely good characterization of what are commonly termed “psychopaths” (or “sociopaths”). The storyline itself isn’t as good as Difference, but the characterization is just so strong and delightful to read I have to include it. It’s about morality and hypocrisy.
“Empathy wasn’t as simple as a mango. That’s why I needed my rules. I should have hugged her, not tried to reason with her. But the therapists wouldn’t accept that I was never going to understand. It wasn’t enough to follow the rules. They wouldn’t be happy until I could feel the rules.”

Jackalope Wives, by Ursula Vernon
I’m not sure what exactly to say here. The stories of shape-shifter-animal brides… what would they be a metaphor for, if you thought about for a while? Yeah. Ursula Vernon thought about it for a while, and then wrote a story that is about strength of character in a broken world, rather than the simple moralizing it could have been. Powerful.

EDIT: I originally hadn’t included the following, as it wasn’t publically available – it was a bonus story given for those who’d contributed to the Women Destroy SF Kickstarter. I was just informed that Lightspeed did make it available to all in December! So now I add:

They Tell Me There Will Be No Pain, by Rachel Acks
As story of warfare in the future, where killing is done at a distance with layers of drones between you and your target. I want to say foremost that this is a very strong story, with good exploration of drone warfare and its cultural impacts. It’s also hit a very personal note for me, because my brother came back from Afghanistan with very bad PTSD, and I saw him in every word and action of this story’s protagonist. It hurt to read.

Unfortunately that makes six stories, and I only get five nominations. I’ll have to think on who to cut. :(

I first heard Thirty-Six Interrogatories Propounded by the Human-Powered Plasma Bomb in the Moments Before Her Imminent Detonation on Toasted Cake in 2014, but it looks like it was published in 2013, so I guess I can’t nominate it. That makes me sad.

Novelettes

The Study of Anglophysics, by Scott Alexander
An amazing story of scientific discovery in a universe that runs on different physics. Also of obsession and arrogance. And anagrams. Lovecraftian overtones, but with a ton of humor. Seriously, this story has everything! :)

The Colonel, by Peter Watts
It is Peter Watts’s brilliance compressed into short form. If you liked Echopraxia and/or Blindsight, you’ll likely like this. Awesome exploration of neat ideas, as the human race stumbles towards making itself obsolete.

Novels

The Metropolitan Man, by Alexander Wales
A story of Superman, as it would be written by someone who took Superman’s powers and ethics seriously, and wanted Lex Luthor to actually be a viable threat. Told from the POV of Lex Luthor. I love good villain stories, and this is a particularly good one. I eagerly anticipate Alexander Wales first original-universe work, which I hear he’s working on now!

Echopraxia, by Peter Watts
The book HP Lovecraft would write if he was writing today. I loved it so much I posted about it twice. It is horror, so be warned, but it’s not gory. And it is extremely intelligent.

No Lasting Burial, by Stant Litore
Again, I had to write a full post about it. A retelling of the gospel story of the calling of Simon Peter, James, and John; with zombies. It’s good. If my childhood church had half of Litore’s understanding of the forgiveness message of Jesus, and even a fraction of his ability to convey it, maybe I would still be some flavor of Christian today.

BTW, if you’re interested in Rationalist Fiction, please note that my first selection in each of these categories would count as Rationalist IMHO.

Dramatic Presentation (Short Form)

The Study of Anglophysics, by Scott Alexander
It’s available in audio! :)

MLP – Pinkie Apple Pie. My Little Pony seriously needs a Hugo nod already, I can’t believe it hasn’t gotten one yet. While this may not have been the best episode of 2014, it holds a special place in my heart because it was so damn heart-warming, and a ton of fun. Good times, adventure, humor, and friendship. Everything I want in an episode. Plus a lot of Pinkie Pie! :)

Welcome to Night Vale – A Story About Them. I can’t imagine this show won’t get Hugo recognition this year, it seems to have gained enough critical mass to finally come into everyone’s awareness. A Story About Them was my favorite from last year. I’m a sucker for good structure-play. :) And the story well exceeded WtNV’s quota of weird, and creepy. Great times.

The Undertaker v Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania XXX. As the Hack The Hugos post points out – better TV than Dr. Who! Let’s do it.

EDIT: I completely forgot about graphic novels! I’m nominating Rat Queens Vol 1, which is a delightful romp; and Pretty Deadly Vol 1, which I haven’t actually finished reading yet but which so far has blown me away with it’s density, and the story it is promising.

Feb 272015
 

DHS carI have a suspension-of-disbelief problem whenever I see DHS (Department of Homeland Security) mentioned in fiction. I snicker. Usually when they are mentioned it’s to invoke the fear of a powerful government agency, meant either to protect or terrorize us, depending on the story. They’re charging in to save the day, or they’re menacing us with excess force. But in either case, they’re meant to be taken seriously.

And I just can’t. I remember the years before DHS existed. I recall the frantic hand-waving and flailing after 9/11, and I saw how panicked lawmakers threw together a handful of chimps, slapped an acronym on them, and told us we were safer. To me, DHS will always be a bunch of clowns feeling you up before you get on a plane, to act out a multi-billion-dollar security theater that everyone knows is a joke.

So when they are invoked as anything other than a joke it’s jarring, and I laugh, and the tense mood is ruined. Seriously writers, stick with something that is actually menacing and powerful – CIA, or maybe FBI. Something with a pedigree.

I was horrified when I realized last year that there is an entire generation growing up who DOES NOT KNOW THIS. For them, DHS is a legitimate authority. They don’t know to laugh, because everyone they know has kept a straight face when they’ve been presented with this facade of authority. Within my lifetime, these jokers could turn into something that people take seriously. I despair.

So I’m extremely happy when I hear that congress is having issues passing a bill to fund them. Good. I hope this gets tied up for years, and the agency starves to death and withers away, to be relegated to the bad jokes of history. 100 years from now, every portrayal of the DHS should be accompanied by Yakety Sax.

Feb 242015
 

potato chip bagUp until last week I had no idea how to open those sealed plastic bags that chips and other processed foods come in. Every time I tried to open them they’d explode and the contents would fly everywhere. My only hope was scissors nearby, and that couldn’t be replied upon.

It was embarrassing, so my whole life I’d avoided things that come in those bags for that reason. I’d never questioned why other people could open them so easily, and I could not. It was just a thing that makes people different. I don’t get poetry, others do. I can reach things on a high shelf, others can’t. I have brown hair, other people have blonde. Basic human diversity. That was a super power other people had, and I lacked. You just live with it.

I was complaining about this to my SO last week, and she grabbed a bag and showed me how to open it. I had no idea it was just a simple mechanical process. Basically a physical algorithm, with one step. All this time I thought it was an innate talent. And no one who knew the secret had bothered to tell me otherwise. (Although in fairness, most of them didn’t know of my handicap, due to the avoidance thing)

This is just one more thing I have to thank my SO for. :) But it does make me wonder how many other simple things that make my life frustrating I could fix simply by knowing a thing.

Feb 192015
 

Technicolor_Alien_Brain_by_ClaireJonesFrom Echopraxia (note that “Bicamerals” are humans that have self-modified to network their brains and thus reach post-human levels of intelligence) –

“You could look into the eyes of any cat or dog and see a connection there, a legacy of common subroutines and shared emotions. The Bicamerals had cut away all that kinship in the name of something their stunted progenitors called Truth

Those lines hit me right in the awe-sense. Yes. YES! I admire the HELL out of those people! That is true dedication to overcoming biases and gaining a correct model of reality. That is what a true love of Truth looks like. It is inspiring. It is amazing.

It is also scary, because it means cutting out parts of what makes us human. It is Peter Watts’ contention (if I read his book right) that it is even worse, akin to killing oneself, as you’d no longer be recognizable afterwards. If our species were to go down this path, it would be genocide, replacement by alien beings.

But it also seems to be his argument that such creatures would make humans obsolete. Never again would we be players on the stage of reality. We would become no better than pets, or chess pieces. The real players would be incomprehensible and unopposable. And that’s the true horror, for anyone who thinks such self-modification is inevitable. If you want to matter, you must leave behind your humanity. If you believe the change is radical enough to destroy your very self for all significant purposes, it means your choices are literally either meaninglessness or suicide.

On the one hand, I want to say “bring it on.” I’m very different from who I was ten years ago, and unrecognizably different from who I was twenty-five years ago. Evolution already killed (almost) all of us once, at puberty. It can do it again. I might as well beat it to the punch, and reincarnate in a form of my choosing.

On the other hand, I value myself a lot. The thought of killing myself, replacing myself with something not-me in order to affect the future, is fucking terrifying. Every practical concern in my body says “No. No. NO. NO!”

But… then that lure of the Truth comes out. Human brains can only know so much. These brains are better. All the hard-edged fiction I’ve ever read asks me “How much are you willing to sacrifice for your [loved one/planet/goal]?” I was raised to value the truth above all else, and to some extent I do. So when the heavens open up and the Lord asks me “How much does the Truth matter to you? How much are you willing to sacrifice for the Truth?” my lips reply “ALL OF IT.” and my soul cries “Yes, Yes, Yes!”

I don’t know if I’d make that decision IRL. And Peter Watts certainly is against it. But the emotions it stirs are awesome, and I hope the Noosphere deems  this work to be worthy of remembrance.

Feb 182015
 

Look, we all know why Oklahoma is banning AP History classes. They teach things that are unflattering and politically disadvantageous to the right. Of course they’re going to want to stop children from being exposed to that. I’m more than a bit annoyed by the faux-outrage of the left. I’ve been seeing a lot of demands to know how this can be justified. /sigh Is this even a useful tool? Aren’t we better off with candid discussion, rather than by spluttering with outrage over the “senseless idiocy” of the ban? And won’t use of the tool, even if effective, just degrade conversation and make us worse off in the long run?

Feb 172015
 

echopraxiaEchopraxia, by Peter Watts

Synopsis: A biologist joins a crew to retrieve a sample of an alien life form, and becomes embroiled in the machinations of competing post-human intelligences.

Book Review: The novel follows a baseline (non-upgraded) human, in a world that contains post-human intelligence (groups of humans that have self-modified and networked their brains, as well as a new species of human with vastly superior cognitive abilities). The first half of the book seemed to go extremely slowly. Not because things weren’t happening – there was a lot of action. But the protagonist’s actions didn’t seem to affect anything. They didn’t drive the story forward. It was slow even though the plot and pacing were fast. If you keep reading, you eventually realize why this is.

Because the post-humans in this novel are the equivalents of Lovecraft’s Gods.

Lovecraft is very popular nowadays, especially among people who’ve never read him. Cthulhu has huge name recognition, yet most people know him as a gothed-up Godzilla. Maybe that’s because if you do read Lovecraft now, he’s not that scary anymore. But you can still get the idea of what he was going for. Various sources (as well as my reading) postulate that the essence of Lovecraft is to make humanity brutally insignificant, through the use of opponents so powerful they can’t be opposed, and so alien they are incomprehensible. It doesn’t work in Lovecraft’s writings that well (anymore) because the unknown areas he was exploiting are less unknown now. We’ve been off this planet a few times, space is less mysterious. The deep ocean isn’t as murky. Psychic powers have been shown to not be real. Etc.

It’s been said that a good translator doesn’t translate a work directly on a line-by-line basis. A good translator writes the book that the author would have written if the author spoke the language natively.

This is the book HP Lovecraft would write if he was writing today.

The reason the protagonists actions don’t seem to affect anything is because he is a pawn, and the real players are post-humans. Every action he is contemplating has already been taken into account and incorporated. His decisions are as determined and integral to the real player’s strategy as the falling of a domino, and he has as much ability to alter his fate as that critical domino piece. But it is impossible for him to really know that, he can only determine it after the fact when it looks like everything he did appears to have been exactly what was planned for. So he has to keep believing that he can affect his own life, that his decisions are his to make, as an article of faith. Because maybe they really DIDN’T foresee the next thing he’s doing! The book is a relentless, non-stop campaign of seeing that faith crushed again and again and again. At every turn humanity is utterly powerless, their efforts are futility. Greater forces are now the true players. It is a bleak hellscape of hopelessness.

What’s worse is that we can’t even comprehend what the post-human minds are up to. We are literally incapable of grasping it all, which is why it is never explained. You can catch some hints of the plot of the book if you look hard, but always only in retrospect, and it never fully makes sense. The only way to write a story of a post-human conflict for human readers is to leave them as lost and confounded as the protagonist, because any plot a human could understand wouldn’t be post-human, would it?

And the mood of the writing constantly reinforces the murkiness. Not only are all the sets stark, and too dim or too bright, and rotating, and off-kilter; not only are all the ambient sounds clicking and scratching and buzzing; not only is everyone always holding something back and slightly out of touch… oh no. Watts even goes so far as to make the world require a lot of cognitive effort to understand. He doesn’t say something like “They crashed into an aircraft carrier,” and then proceeds to describe the crashing. He will describe the sensation of being thrown about, and screeching metal sounds, and then take you outside and describe the metal surfaces you are viewing, without ever saying the words “crashed” or “aircraft carrier”, so you have to figure that out for yourself. I don’t know if that was intentional, but it is fatiguing and it makes the world harder to understand, so reinforces the theme of “you are too small to grasp this”.

The isolation in this book doesn’t come from something quaint like being far away from people. It comes from humans slowly enfolding themselves in their own private groups and sub-groups more and more, wrapping themselves up in technological filter bubbles, until all that’s left is themselves. The insanity doesn’t come from looking at something eldritch, it comes from deliberate psychological and physical manipulation spread over a long period to drive you to a desired mental state that is not your own. And the horror of corruption isn’t just something ugly growing in your body, it is the twisting of your own mental processes until gradually you are no longer you… and you know it, but can’t stop it.

This is a horror novel, IMHO. I generally don’t find horror scary. This scared the living shit out of me. For the couple weeks I was reading it my IRL mood took a very dark turn, my life was unpleasant, and things sucked. This is a powerful and amazing book, and it should come with a memetic warning. If you can weather a temporary mood disruption, read this book. If this is not a good time in your life, or you’re worried about downward spiral effects, avoid it like the plague.

This is easily my favorite book of the past year, and I will not forget it for a long time.

Highly Recommended, given the previous warning.

 

Book Club Review: It feels like Watts is writing to a very specific audience. Readers of SF Horror who are familiar with the transhumanist scene and are somewhat smarter than me. And he doesn’t care if anyone not in that audience understands a single word of what he’s saying. I admire this, but it also makes the book less appealing to a wider audience.

If you can get to the message of the book, you have a lot to talk about. How should we proceed as we inevitably start leveling-up humans? Is it worth pursuing, given the costs? Is it, when you get down to it, basically a new form of genocide?

We got hung up on “What is the plot? Can we figure it out? Can we fill in the holes in our knowledge?” IMHO the answer is “Maybe a little, but not to a degree that matters, and look that’s really not what we should be focusing on. The whole point was that it’s incomprehensible. Let’s focus on the message Watts is pushing.” But the temptation was too great. The discussion was not as satisfying as it could/should have been, nor as in-depth. I’m not sure if this can be blamed on the writing style of the book, but it’s possible. If the emotion of a piece is so strong that it drowns out the message, that’s a flaw.

Still, we had things to talk about, it certainly wasn’t a boring evening, and the novel is great. Give everyone the memetic warning beforehand, ask if they want to expose themselves to a temporary vector of despair like this. If everyone consents – Recommended.