Hello, world. I’m MacDara Conroy, and this is my blog.

Category: Aux

What perfectly normal food can you just not stand?

I would quibble with pith as a ‘perfectly normal food’ (if you’re not avoiding the pith when you eat citrus, you’re doing it wrong). Other than that, this mostly leaves me thinking about how much my palate has changed over the last few years. Once upon a time, not so long ago, I was That Guy who lived on starch and didn’t touch fruit or veg; I still don’t really eat fruit (it’s a texture and tartness thing for me) but I’m game for most vegetables now, provided they’re properly prepared and in the right combinations. (For instance, raw tomato is not appealing — but slice it, salt it, put it in a sandwich or on a burger? I’m good.) #link

Letting neural networks be weird

Machine learning, unconstrained from the memes or tropes or expectations of human empirical understanding, produces what can best be appreciated as accidental art as it strives to compute a formula for the human mind. If you want to put it in a philosophical way, like. This also reminds me of something I read last year on the phenomenon of Afghan war rugs, and how the iconography divorced from context results in a similar semiotic clash — yet one produced by human beings, not computers. (I couldn’t find the source for that, but Phil Gyford just blogged about it. Serendipity!) #link

The Weird Science Behind Chain Restaurant Menus

It’s not all that weird, unless you were naive enough to think your favourite mom-and-pop-feeling chain wasn’t decided upon down to the last detail. Maybe it also feels uncomfortable to think of oneself as an individual while at the same time fitting a little too neatly into a brand’s demographic classification, like a negation of individuality? No sweat; it’s as much in their heads as it is in yours. And I’d be more worried about Facebook doing it than a ‘fast casual dining experience’. #link

Wired: The Nintendo King and the Midlife Crisis

Not as sad a tale as you might expect, though it does raise questions as to what creative people in the digital realm will do when time goes on. What will we all do, in fact, as the notion of work changes from security to mere sustainability? #link

Why wouldn’t you vote Yes?

This article really bothers me, and I think it’s mostly to do with couching the movement to repeal the 8th Amendment in terms of ‘debate’ as suits the No side, which in the case of this campaign should be taken in the competitive sense: an art of persuasion, irrespective of facts.

The author, Colleen Brady, writes: “At the minute I feel as though there is no unbiased information readily available for the public. From where I am looking, the information available to people is either swayed one way or another.”

The thing is, this isn’t the Lisbon Treaty. It’s a healthcare issue, it’s a social issue, an awkward negotiation of complex needs. Looking for some kind of elusive, singular ‘objectivity’ is a fool’s errand. There are facts about particular aspects, and there are lies and untruths about same, and that’s all we can deal with. More…


A text-based adventure (made with Twine) guiding an interstellar spacecraft full of colonists to a new home. #link

The Great Awokening: What happens to culture in an era of identity politics?

“[Sensitivity] to the experiences of racial, cultural, sexual, and gender identities besides one’s own, and [being] attuned to the injustices that shape our world” is the best definition I’ve seen for the concept of ‘woke’, and this is a good essay about the related societal shift. It is ironic, though, that this article has since been affected by the very shifts it examines; that section about Aziz Ansari’s Master of None doesn’t sit too comfortably today next to the excoriation of Louis CK. #link

Google Maps’ Moat

This is incredible stuff. But I’m not the only one given pause by the scale of detail here, am I? #link

HTML Color Codes

Everything you always wanted to know about colours for the web in one handy, beautifully designed spot. #link

Hiragana and Katakana quiz

I’m (very slowly) learning Japanese with Duolingo, and this is a great resource to keep fresh on the relevant alphabets. Maggie Sensei is another source for info, when I’m ready to step up my game. (Not any time soon.) #link

A note on impartiality in reporting on the 8th Amendment

And a fair point, too. The 8th doesn't recognise a natural 'right'; it creates and enshrines recognition of a social construct, flying in the face of best medical practice. But in a country where only arseholes tend to be litigious (or can afford to be), RTÉ may not be particularly worried about offending people who can't or won't sue them. #link

The most incredible Chinese cities you've never heard of

A few quibbles with this piece: I think Shenzhen, Harbin and Qingdao are as familiar place names as Shanghai and Beijing in the west these days. But I’ve thought about the general notion a lot this year: cities around the world, cities with millions of people, that I’ve never heard of before. You don’t need to think about the cosmos to make yourself feel small. #link

The best homemade cacio e pepe

Experienced some serious Baadher Meinhof with this dish, or the title of it anyway, in 2017. So I’ll have to try making it, won’t I? #link

Luas Cross City augurs change in Broombridge

From last year, about a year after we moved to Dundalk and my commute, whether by rail or bicycle along the canal, no longer took me past the least loved station in the Irish Rail network. I’ve been wondering about the security situation at a stop that had no Leap card readers for months due to vandalism. (Oh, and there was that time some scumbag bricked a train window we were sitting next to. The area itself isn’t that rough, though.) #link

A few technical words about Upsideclown, and some thoughts about audiences and the web

Matt Webb on the return of his communal short fiction blog, and how it fits on the internet today: “It seems to me that, sometime in the last 17 years, the web forgot the simple pleasure of making, and appreciating what’s made, together.” (Cynical old me thinks that’s because ‘the web’ isn’t a thing anymore; it’s all smartphones and social media and clickbait and humanity’s worst tendencies laid bare. Sigh.) #link

I’m not one for conspiracy theories…

…I believe the wrongs of this world are much more banal than we often allow ourselves to accept.

At the same time, I can’t help but see a connection between Fianna Fáil’s no-confidence motion against the Tánaiste, in the midst of an important Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment, and the notion that their TDs represent this country’s most staunchly anti-choice political movement.

(Not that Fine Gael are any better, mind, as they’re two sides of the same coin, but how and ever.)

Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age

It’s only to an extent, but I can identify with this; I don’t care so much about how others perceive me, but I know I would feel better, holistically, if I can get my head right. And for me, managing what I eat really is all in the head. #link

How Checkers Was Solved

“For Tinsley, the spiritualist, the metaphor of checkers as a well without end was both poetic and true. But Schaeffer, the engineer, knew that no well is bottomless. And humans will always sound the depth.” #link

The age of banter

When you combine the refusal to take anything seriously with the refusal to take responsibility, this is what you get. #link