dark point


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from sb

This is an easy loaf to make so long as you have and can lift a cast iron dutch oven. You don't really need to measure anything, except the water, and even that's optional. I dunno what loaf size you're after, but this recipe makes a single loaf you might see repeatedly on TV or Country Living magazines. You can scale up or down to suit your needs by using more or less water.


  • Bread flour
  • Yeast
  • Honey (or sugar)
  • Kosher salt
  • Water (warm) — 250-300ml or 1-1 ¼ cups
  • Dutch oven (enameled cast w/ lid)


TL;DR: 1. Measure & add 250-300ml pleasantly warm water to a bowl. 2. Dissolve honey, then add a good sprinkle of yeast. 3. Proof for 10 mins (optional). 4. Add flour about ¾ cup at a time and incorporate with a wooden spoon. 5. Add two good pinches (tbsp-ish) of salt when batter-like consistency. 6. Add flour until tough to incorporate more – should be tacky/sticky-ish – not dry. 7. Shape into a ball and proof in bowl covered with a damp towel for 1 hour or until doubled. 8. Flop onto floured surface and lazy fold over 4 times. Pinch up bottom to form a ball, and proof for 30 mins. Repeat a few more times if you want. 9. Heat dutch oven to 450-500°f (480 works for me). Place dough in dutch oven. Slit the top with a razor. Replace lid rapidly and bake for 20-28 minutes. Remove lid and bake another few minutes for browning if desired.

1. Measure water

The water is the basis of the recipe, as it determines the final amount of dough. 250ml will make a slightly more manageable loaf – good if you're baking on the trail.

2. Add honey

Add the honey (or other sugar-based sweetener) and stir until dissolved.

3. Add yeast

Sprinkle around 8g (tbsp) of yeast and at least allow it to hydrate (optional).

4 & 5. Add Flour & salt

Add flour by ¾ cup or so at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon. Once the dough reaches a batter-like consistency, add the salt. I like about a tablespoon, or two big pinches.

6. More flour!

Continue incorporating flour until the dough is tough. It's ok to be a little tacky or even sticky. Don't worry about it at all. Just do a half-decent job and everything will be great.

7. Ball & Cover

Roughly shape the dough into a ball and leave in the centre of the bowl. Cover with a wet tea towel (actually do this – trust me!) and put in a warm but not hot area.

Let rise for 1 hour

8. Fold

Flop the dough onto a floured surface and smooth out into a square – or if your bowl is large enough, just sprinkle the dough and bowl with flower. Fold in half. Rotate 90° and fold again. Repeat twice for a total of four (4) folds.

Ball up and place back in the bowl, covering once again with the damp towel. Make sure it's still nice and damp. Really!

Repeat a few more times if you want.

It's ok to punch the dough down, sprinkle a bit of flour, and fold, all inside the same bowl!

9. Bake

Preheat the Dutch oven to 475°, lid on. Remove from oven and place the balled dough inside.

Quickly slash the top of the dough a few times with a razor or other sharp knives.

Replace the lid and bake for 20-28 mins.

Remove lid and bake for a few extra minutes until browned the way you like it.


from covblivion

Remember when we had that global pandemic that we couldn't contain even by mostly shutting down the entire global economy, and then got bored and said fuck it throwing off our masks and out our middle fingers to all the dead and dying, before having our hands and arms lopped off, begging the burnt-out-beyond-repair ER nurse you just assaulted to help you with the zero available staff and supplies?

It wasn't that long ago that complete strangers would long-eye you on the street just for appearing in a pair. You had to go out of your way to overtly express your relationship to avoid someone calling the cops on you for associating with those outside your own household.

Between then and now we had learned a great deal about the virus we were so afraid of, and the news was far from good. It turned out the virus was constantly evolving to evade our all-too-slow advances. Like other debilitating viruses predecessors like smallpox and HIV, this one would lead to long-term disability in 1-in-10 people. Worse, the more you catch it, the more likely you are to have blood clots, heart attacks, dementia, diabetes, strokes, not to mention crippling fatigue and soul-ending depression. Even cases with “mild” or no symptoms spread the virus, and can contract long-term post-virus illness. It also immediately kills about 1 in 100 people it infects, regardless of population-level vaccination campaigns, or prior “mild” infections.

Corporate interests desperate to get us back to normal, destroying ourselves and each other to boost their quarterlies. At all costs they must regain control from powerful social acronyms like CERB and BLM.

They built a pressure cooker, stuffed it hundreds of thousands of layoffs, systemic racism, unbridled greed and the guilt of intentionally destroying the planet. A global case of the shack-whackies blew the lid off.

The bomb took out most of the public health authorities, the non-scientific press, and most severely, common sense in general. All that remained in place of Public Health officials and mainstream new were the cockroach brands and executives lulling us back to work with more hours and less pay, while every one of their friends has their hands deep inside our pockets, grabbing for more than loose change.

The experience leaves you violated and traumatised, whether you realise it or not. The softest hand of the billionaire, its frictionless caress soon ignites the forests of life itself, dooming all to a torturous death.

Today, total strangers will single you out at the grocery store and publicly drain their confused and impotent rage upon you, for you wear a respirator when you grocery shop. These people aren't angry at you... they're terrified, of being wrong.


As a kid I saw an advertisement that showed dishevelled masses of grey-sweated near-zombies through a smog-strangled dystopian America, all wearing hospital-grade N95 respirators. A child struggled to lift a scavenged quarter into the slot of an oxygen machine on a filthy street corner. I had many questions for my parents, to which they answered their best.

“In other places, like China, the air is so dirty that people can barely breathe. The factories make so much pollution that it makes people sick. Sick people get sick from flu and pneumonia, so they wear masks to keep their germs to themselves.”

Oh, that sounds horrible! But that's kinda like wearing a gas mask, which seemed cool to my toddler mind.

“That machine makes clean air, but many people can't afford it.”

But... they have so many factories, so they must have so much money!

“Canada is so full of trees that with our factories, the air we breathe is very clean. Except for very near the individual factories. We live very near an oil refinery, which is that stinky smell that's always there unless the wind comes from the west, in which case we smell the Pulp mill instead.”

But we're healthy, and no one I've ever seen has worn a mask.

“This is a commercial about what could happen in the future. It's not that bad anywhere right now. Except in LA, maybe” he laughed. LA (in the decade prior) featured prominently in at least two of my favourite TV shows, and ditto of my parents. I knew it and it's associated tropes well.

Thirty-eight years old, wearing a mask to the government marijuana shop because it's not safe to breathe the air was not what my child-mind had conjured up. It couldn't have possible.

But a great number of science fictions writers I read did. They endless warned that the writing would be on the wall, in 20 foot high neon sans-serif capitals in every language: Heed thy warning or face thy doom.


from Gentlemen Loser

Chapter 5

It's just so much easier at night. The whole little world tucks in for their predictable slumber. Even the party-drunks with close, personal chemist friends crash eventually. The air temperature and humidity forget what they were doing and run off in wild directions. Sound finds less resistance to its missions- the dark night as coffee speed, keeps sound up higher, longer. Just as the streets void of cancerous cars and trucks and tanks, the airwaves thin, confusion sublimates and electromagnetic deep-ears hear so much more.

Union Bank's landscapers interface was clearly designed, commissioned and built in an age before mass paranoia – it only required the removal of an intricate heavy steel padlock and a quick privilege escalation attack to turn on the juice.

As his computer charged, he monitored the City Grid. Quiet night. Low-load on the turbine, all the growlers were confined to their pig pens. The heat sig over City Park told him about 770 souls slept soundly in their tents and hovels, CompLogs burning dependably on makeshift stoves.

A discarded paper coffee cup blew in an oblong circuit, tapping out a percussive diminuendo, echo from the mini-towers a dying melodrama. It reminded him of his own rapidly cooling cup. He took a sip. Another.

He ping'd Leon. No up. Cecil. No up. Calum, up no answer. He finished the cup, fishing a flask from a leg pocket without changing his gaze. Twisted the black knurled tin cap off with the thumb and forefinger of his right hand, left tapping a series of macros as legs pinched cup. A few glugs.

The flask back in his trousers and more in his gut than down his chin, he decided it time to turn on the GANT – Gigantic Array of Non-consenting Terminals.

Sometimes all you have to type is “fuckem – go”.


from sb

Hey! Here's yet another place for scratching thoughts. It seems like a great place to write books.

I'm writing a book over at @gentlemen-loser. You can follow it on Mastodon, or any other #federated app.


from Gentlemen Loser

She couldn't remember having ever met him before, but then again, there are too many boys in long wool coats and short brown hair to count here. Still, this one looked right at home, like he belonged, though no one seemed to pay him any mind. The fact that this wasn't raising suspicion told her she was the only one out of the loop.

“Look who's graced us with his presence,” he said.

Long hair, at least by today's standards, neatly following the curve of his ear, then defying gravity by curving back and up in a great curl, shiny and contiguous as a would receiver coil.

She grabbed the coffee pot off the Braun and sloshed a measure into a tin cup she'd half-filled with whatever the biggest bottle of rotgut was. A little honey to tamp down the fireworks. She sidled up a pew and sat behind her friend.

“It's not every day we get an original Returner in the house!” The stranger stood near the pulpit with some of the old-timers. She'd only been here for about a year. Her best friend had been here two before that.

He looked uncomfortable, having attention been brought to him. Calum seemed to know him personally. He looked like he was from here, though, not quite. His hair was all wrong and he had a bit too much tan to have spent the last few years in this shithole. His mask was unlike anything she'd ever seen in these parts. Something only available Up East, where they still make things in factories.

The stranger introduced himself as Pinot. That was a name she knew as well as the brands that built the world – she'd heard it growing up; everyone had.

“While he's here,” Calum interrupted, “we're going to make excellent use of his time. I want each of you to introduce yourselves, and show our man here what you've been working on. Let him deduce the plan himself. He likes a puzzle, doesn't he, old boy?”

“What's with the tall guy?”, she asked Anna.

“Never mind that, ” she beamed. “Did you hear about the knife fight down South? I guess a couple jackboys got themselves some fresh gills.”

“Yeah, and?” She fully expected to hear one of their friends were caught and dragged off to a division.

“And fuckin' nothing! They got away without being seen. Apparently one of 'em can only see red in his left eye. Doesn't remember seeing anything but a gent in a coat. Stupid fucks! Serves 'em right.” she crossed her arms and leaned them across the back of the pew.

Peace winced and smiled at all the key moments to following along.

“You know”, she said, craning her neck even closer, “my big brother knew Pinot back in the brand times. I guess they got into all kinds of shit together. They lost touch after getting busted blowing up a country club or some shit. My brother got conscripted and had to serve. Not sure what happened to him.” She gestured her head toward the pulpit.


from Gentlemen Loser

Chapter 2

The grommet on the door-side of the tarp let go again, the corner snapping up wildly, guy wire licking through the cold damp air. A dusting of snow had already collected on the tarp, but not enough to warrant getting out of the sleeping bag and crawling across all the shit on the floor to get the boots on and go out there and do something about it.

He thought about how annoyed he would be in twenty minutes if he didn't go out and fix it. He decided it wasn't enough, grabbed a handful of bag and blanket, and rolled over into the temperfoam. The Company issue stuff really is the best, and right now, he was really happy to have it.

Three weeks ago saw the end to nearly a month of sleeping on the ground with nothing but a sheet of Tyvek he managed to rip off a building that had blown over in the last storm. He'd managed to get inside the building and have a look around, but there was nothing but office stuff in there. Nothing cool.

His knee throbbed and his left hand reached to favour it, while he sucked back the plug of mucus that never seemed to run out. He wished it were useful for more than choking on, and occasionally seeing how far you can spit it up into the air, when things are slow.

You want things to be slow. Slow is when it's time to Go. Slow = Go, see? He heard the flap snap and ruffle cartoonishly, the guy clicking against a bucket or a bin or something.

He groaned. Stiffened. Sighed. Relaxed. After slipping the second boot on his foot, he shuffled over to his good knee, braced, and pushed himself up. Zip, out, in.

Back in the bag he softened, knowing it was the last time he would have to move for some time. He fell asleep before forming any more complex though than the simple appreciation of the lack of a horrible, nagging, jarring non-sleep.

Warm, dry, as comfortable as age will allow, he couldn't much complain. Not that anyone would listen to him. Anyone left in City Park was doing very much like himself, minding his own business. Outbreaks stay out, by staying in.


from Gentlemen Loser

Chapter 1

It was cold that night, too. A cold that clamps your breath inside your chest until it hurts. Deep breath in. Crisp wet air spills in displacing hot carbon dioxide, a giggle of exhaust said the mouth.

I stepped expertly over a gash of frozen puddle, it's hair-thin layers of ice, air and impurities delicately suspended over wet cigarette butts and pigeon shit. Wisps of miniature crystalline snowflakes collect in small pocks across the sandy asphalt walkway toward the road.

Intersection ahead, City Park behind. No cars moved about the barren roadways, nor were any parked in sight. No people stirred. The trees rubbed in thousands of small ways, its singing static wrapped the skull.

Wind bit sharp pits through the cheeks, swaying depleted branches cast the only motion save for the giggling breath. On the inhale I thought about the aching cold in my shins. Exhale brought me to focus on the path ahead.

An inert traffic light hung limply from the cable between the ornate oversized Victorian-era street light post and the squat stone church. No smoke rose from the chimney. No lights within. A halo of monosodium ions cast sickly yellow to the collecting cover of snow, crunching beneath each careful step.

A row of muted finery shops add to the concrete stillness of the narrow downtown street, the openness of the park a softening hiss decaying behind.

The air seemed to stiffen and close in. Dull brick facades of last century stood defiantly in the face of their obsolescence. Their clean bay windows reflecting silent snow, glistening licked stamps settling to envelope-white sidewalk.

Around the corner where midnight drunks puked in line for kebabs, only silent snow claimed the streets. Absent the clouds of diesel and tangy-sweet alcohol fumes from lines of cabs hoping to rob the ladies before the drunks finish them off.

A sign wailed a soft protest to a gust spiralling down from the mini office blocks: MetroBranding Social Consultants in an annoyingly brand-familiar font.

Grey slate stacked by expert craftspeople a century before my birth towered at the corner. Incandescence back-lit the hand-painted art-deco “156” on frosted glass above the door. A bank originally, now home to a division of the Department; a skeleton crew inside. During active outbreaks they tend to keep to themselves, if you keep to yours.

Cold hands searching pockets come up with the piece of paper from two days ago. It was cold two days ago, too. The address of my destination was a given, but the door code I need was written in street scrawl no Father could decipher without a committee. It's on the next block, next to the Wrestling memorabilia shop and Zucchini Jake's cafe, I remembered, stuffing the paper back into my pocket.

You can leave your home town, but you can never truly return.

The wrestling shop windows shimmered like insect wings in the streetlight, catching the polycarbon armature of the display windows, inert, dead, beyond which a layer of dust coats discarded display stands and construction debris, polystyrene coffee cups.

A sound, but far off. You can hear a car door 40 blocks away on a night like tonight. Not that anyone is out slamming car doors while under orders. Anyone out tonight would be walking, and probably just their dog to the nearest community green and back. Zip, out, in.

Between the entrance and the cafe was a small alley where I once slept as a teen, running away from my parents who voted for the Company on that hot June election night.

I hit the code. Electromagnets silently displaced a slug of metal, allowing the door to open at my pull.

Black. Two steps forward, there's the desk. Slide down to the end. I feel the opening to the counter with my foot and hook a right. Acrid smell of ancient rancid deep frying fat singed the nose, as I pulled up a waft of dull mildew, descending the hatch to the pantry.

I know the way. I don't need a light at all. It always creeped the hell out of everyone I came through with. “Can't you turn on a damned light? How the hell do you see?” All this time and they still aren't comfortable walking around in the dark. How will they ever...

Light warms out around the frame of a doorway, though the door is barely that – 4 slabs of wood slated across with boards and a peppering of nails. The wet ancient concrete underfoot gives the impression of being dangerously slippery, even in my good walking-about shoes. Great on the snow, not so good on oil. You can't win a mall.

The tunnel is lit at 3 metre intervals with blue LED lights that always remind me of subway trains arriving at station when I was a kid, though back then the platforms were lit flat white. If you bothered to look just beyond, down the endless tunnels like the arms of Gods connecting this place to that, you'd see the impossible blue glow of the bioLEDs, softly pulsating at the rate of rotation of the earth times 2Pi, or something like that. “Sing soft of Blue Monday”, my mother would sometimes sing when she though she was alone – staring into some nostalgia that probably wasn't hers – that probably predated her.

They were already pouring the coffee, and the whiskey when I stepped into the sanctuary.