a rickety bridge of impossible crossing

A Bold New Rewritable Disc for Public Transit Gemlogs [citation needed]

The Vatican just released the purple smoke, you know what that means: the Pope's getting fucked up it's time for another mostly unsacreligious issue of #GarbageDigest. We call this one volume 01 issue 05. This blog is safe for all sewage and septic systems.

compact disc rather weak

The one nice thing about tapes is that if you bought something and realized it sucks, you can at least cover the write-protect notch and have a blank tape to record on.

Once we had CD-RWs, they should have replaced normal CDs. If I don't want Hoobastank or Dragon Ball Z Ultimate Battle 22 anymore—and I don't—I should be able to record over them with something good. What am I going to do with a Creed Human Clay CD if I can't burn a few pirated episodes of Good Eats season 2 to it? If I bought it on tape, I could use it to record my audio last will and testament. I'd just need to be careful to re-label that one real good. I'd probably make a new J-card for it just to be safe.

the super cario brothers super show

Hi, I'm Tim Goodcar, the good car brother. And I'm Tom Badcar, the bad car brother. We're the Cario Brothers. Got a car? Don't got a car? Tell us about a car. Car not working good? The good car brother knows what to do. Watch out for the bad car brother. He's a regular jokemeister. Crankshaft? Gearbox? Gearshift? Crankbox? Rack and pinion? Steering column? Braking column? Drive train warranty? Headlight out? We'll put the headlight back in. Call the Cario Brothers weeknights on your local radio or wherever radios are sold.

train engineers are braver than the troops

In the US and other car cultures, we fetishize people who can drive fast and steer well, but I don't think that's something that should be celebrated. Like congrats, you managed not to kill anyone despite your reckless horseshit. Do you think next time you can just drive like someone who lives in a goddamn society?

People who drive trains are the real heroes. Do you know how much skill it takes to make sure the ride is smooth for everyone, the train is on time, and it stops in just the right spot to easily let everyone on and off? Try playing Densha De Go1 sometime, it ain't candyland. This is both more impressive than and of greater benefit to humanity than successfully making car go vroom. We should have an F1 for trains. Make it happen, Europe.

new rules

📯 This section won't mean much to you if you're reading via the feed. Feel free to skip it or view this entry on the web if you want to see all the hot styles.

I've talked about how I'm not so much interested in Project Gemini's goals of being an all-new internet protocol—I think http and html are fine, I just want to use and make better websites—but from a design standpoint, Gemini is ideal for the kind of content I want to read on a phone.

I know mobile reading wasn't necessarily their goal, but that's the main thing I like about it: it's good clean text articles with none of the cruft that normally makes browsing the web on a phone such a painful experience. That's why I wanted to blog somewhere that lets me use plain HTML and CSS, not a big interactive CMS like Medium or Drupal. But for me, a gemlog would be swinging the pendulum too far the other way, because I do want to have my own style, and I want everyone to be able to read what I write, not just people who install a Gemini client.

One of the things that makes it particularly phone-friendly is the fact that all links are clearly labeled and collected at the bottom of the page.2 20 years of using and desiging websites on a computer have cemented in my brain the idea that it's cool to put links to whatever wherever, like the link to the Gemini project I put up there 👆

Because when you mouse over a link, you can clearly see in the status bar where it goes and decide whether you want to click on it. But that's not how it is on phones. Seeing where the link goes requires long-pressing on it and dealing with a modal window. It's a flow-breaking experience.

Ideally, tapping on the link would be less intrusive, because you can just peek at the destination and use the back button to return to where you just were, almost friction-free, but not all external links are ideal, like the youtube video I referenced in the previous section.

Someone could tap the link without thinking and find themselves suddenly dealing with an entirely different app. Depending on the age of their phone and what else they're doing with it at the moment, it could interrupt their music or slow everything down or crash their browser or cause all sorts of havoc.

Linking to a text article on a site with a bunch of ads or pop-ups can cause the same kind of issues, which is why I try to link to archive.today versions of articles when possible. But sometimes it's not possible, so when I link to a site I think will be disruptive, I'm going to take a page from Gemini's book and do it citation-style, link at the bottom.

This can lead to another pet peeve of mine: mixing citation footnotes with parenthetical ones. This is more of a problem with physical books that use endnotes, but it also creates friction when I'm using an ebook reader or with certain pdfs and websites: when a text is full of citations, also has occasional parenthetical notes, and doesn't differentiate them, I end up not seeing any of them.

I appreciate having the ability to find the author's sources when I want to, but when I read casually, I'm not going to look at every single citation. ADHD makes it hard to get into a book in the first place, and once I'm in the zone, I really don't want to constantly interrupt my flow just in case one of the endnotes provides information or commentary rather than citing the source.

So from now on, parenthetical footnotes3 will be normal underlined links, and citation links will be styled like wikipedia:4 no underline, square brackets around the number. I think wikipedia is universal enough for this to be intuitive.

Since I'm using markdown, I can accomplish this with a custom CSS rule that only affects links with an *asterisk on either side*. This normally italicizes text, but since I rarely have a reason to italicize links, I can safely let them multitask. Here's the custom CSS rules I use:

em a:before {
em a:after {
body main em a {

The last one is more complicated because I only underline links in the main body of the page and not headers or footers, so I have to un-underline a more specific class of links if I want that classic wikipedia look. Tweak it to match your own style.

If for some reason I ever do want to italicize a link or part of a link, I still can: I just put the asterisks inside the brackets! It's not affected by the CSS rule above because it's parsed as <a><em> instead of <em><a>. That's the magic of cascading styles.

It's good stuff. I can make bold, italic, bold italic and italic bold text all look completely different. I oughta play around with it more.

I guess that's where the gemini project and I have fundamentally different philosophies: I like to play. I think you can have good, clean, accessible websites without giving up fun entirely.5 Look, I'm doing it! You can, too: just do the fun stuff, and don't do any of the bad stuff 🦝

  1. Techmoan, Densha de Go! Plug & Play TV Game Train Simulator - A surprisingly capable dedicated console (youtube.com, 2021)

  2. I was thinking of gopher here; Gemini only requires a link to be on its own line. Clear labeling and sensible grouping is a social convention that naturally results from this technical choice. It's still great for browsing on phones.

  3. Like this one! 😊

  4. Wikipedia, Footnotes in action (wikipedia.org, 2022)

  5. Sorry, I know I'm being unfair: They're having fun solving the problem they want to solve, and I totally respect that. I don't have anything against the project, and I hope my light teasing is taken in its intended spirit: it's funny when a project starts out with all the same fundamental beliefs that I hold but takes them in a radically different direction. Like, I could see myself being way into gemini if almost everything about it were different, and that's not me being snarky, it's just recognizing an amusing paradox. I hope they keep working on it as long as it makes them happy to.