Wednesday, December 30, 2009
That universe I keep making oblique references to in other posts? Let's put it down here.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
--Popular Vietnam-War era sentiment.
What if they gave a war and only one side came?
--Valkri's (and a hundred other people in my made up fictional universe) rebuttal.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
But I really like the tune. For some reason it feels like a nice "suck it!" to all the death metal I listen to off the dorm speakers.
You wake up an hour late because you've hit the snooze button every five minutes.
You had two tests today, which you're pretty sure you botched.
You have a big research paper due next week, and you've only just begun.
And the speakers of the dorm play horrible tunes 16/7.
Sometimes life just sucks, and your retreat is childish fantasy.
I've got one now, and I'd like to share it with you!
I-wish-you all would die! I wish you all would die!
I wish that every last man would just drop dead!
I wish you all would die! I wish you all would die!
In a land so far away...!
(I don't know how that translates in Japanese, but hey, why not?)
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Back in high school, the local advocacy club ran a poster campaign intending to draw attention to the problem of world hunger. Problem was, they couldn't agree on a number of people affected--I saw figures citing "deaths from hunger-related causes" ranging from 8 million, to 10 million, to 12 million, and one unfortunate soul made a poster consisting entirely of the line "30 million people a year die of hunger" repeated...when no less than thirty feet away was a poster citing a smaller figure.
Now in college, I run into another poster campaign, this time for rape and violence against women. I'm not in a position to check some of their figures (31% of women report being sexually assaulted by a significant other in their lifetimes--that's 46.5 million, but since it says "in their lifetimes" and doesn't give an explicit definition of sexual assault, I'll have to take it at its word). One poster, however, caught my eye. It said "One woman in the U.S. is raped every two minutes", and cited as its source the U.S. Department of Justice.
Quick multiplication tells us that 1 woman per minute = 30 an hour = 720 a day = 262800 a year. A quick Google search for the U.S. Dept. of Justice turns up a figure that conflates rape and sexual assault and gives a figure (trending down) of just over 200000 for 2008. Another search for the FBI places "forcible rape" for 2008 at just under 90000. Depending on how generous you are, the number given by the poster is either 20% off or 200% off, which doesn't speak well for the advocacy group.
Same place, different time--an advertising group claiming environmental holiness. Its claims: Americans waste 96 billion lbs. of food per year, and 25% can feed 4 million a day. Implications--each American wastes about 10/11ths lb. of food per day, and your average person eats 3 tons of food a day.
Does claiming you're working for a good cause free you of the burden of checking your numbers or something?
Friday, October 23, 2009
Fascist Party! Black is the New Black!
Maoist Party! Let a hundred shots be quaffed! Let a hundred minds be expanded!
Nazi Party! Heil to the King of Beers!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
For your troubles...
MEET THE PYRO (fan-made, unfortunately :( )
Sunday, October 11, 2009
And would the others of you congratulating the president stop spouting that messianistic canard of "politics of hope instead of fear"? It's annoying, and probably unlikely.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Social Justice, interpreted through the many acts of college: "Hey, let's get together with a bunch of people we don't know, be told what to chant by other 'higher' organizers, carry picket signs and posters with trite and populist slogans, and march up and down and raise holy hell for a cause we're fairly neutral about."
Monday, October 5, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
I am a pessimist. I LIKE being a pessimist.
I am a loner. I LIKE being a loner.
They mean a lot more for my sense of identity than (lack of) masculinity, sexuality, or racial pride.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
And if the world should meet an early end
It will not be by whim of God or Gaia
But by the darkest vagaries of men.
And check zombietime and Little Green Footballs for more.
Cthulhu has insomnia, and he must be on the very verge of waking up if the madness has spread this far.
Everybody practice your elder languages!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Accusing the president of having some sort of vendetta against the caucasian race does not help. (I'm looking at YOU, Glenn Beck and all those who stand with him.)
Explaining all criticism of the president with charges of racism does not help. (I'm looking at YOU, Maureen Dowd, Jeremiah Wright, and all the rest of you who believe skin color correlates with immunity to criticism.)
Accusing the one side of wanting to create "death panels" does not help. (I'm looking at YOU, Sarah Palin.)
Accusing the other side of wanting to "pull the plug on Grandma" because they disagree with your side does not help. (I'm looking at YOU, Charles Grassley. YOU too, Jacob Weinberg. )
Having people in ranks on your march who advocate killing the president and who would distort your numbers does not help. (I'm looking at YOU, Tea Party men who refuse to eliminate the radicals from your ranks.)
...no matter which side of the line you are on. (I'm looking at YOU, all you who marched for the death of Bush with claims he stole the 2000 election.)
Referring to said marchers by crude gaming and sexual practices does not help. (I'm looking at YOU, Anderson Cooper.)
Clamoring that the president is somehow illegitimate does not help. (I'm looking at YOU, all you Birther types out there.)
Antichristic tendencies do not help. (I'm looking at YOU, Westboro-church-types who want the president to die in office.)
Messianic tendencies do not help. (I'm looking at YOU, Joe Klein, and all you college kids who thought Obama had a magic wand.)
Throw down your own "do not help!" in the comments!
Accusing the other side of having a health care plan that entails having sick people "die quickly" does not help. (I'm looking at YOU, Alan Grayson.)
And from ArchangelMichael:
Pretending like it's your job to prop up the stock market and failing businesses instead of controlling inflation does not help. (I'm looking at YOU, Ben Bernanke.)
Also from ArchangelMichael (and he makes a very good point very succinctly, one that every nominally rightist blog on the intarwebs should have burned into their monitors):
Doing and saying outrageous things just because the other side did it when their guy wasn't in office does not help. (I'm looking at YOU, Right Wing Blogosphere and Talk Radio Hosts)
Claiming the President is brainwashing children doesn't help. (I'm looking at YOU, Michelle Malkin.)
Also from Sharmuta:
Saying we should slit our wrists and be blood brothers to save America doesn't help. (I'm looking at YOU, Michele Bachmann.)
Check http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/34806_Overnight_Ocean_Thread/comments/#ctop for any more.
Monday, September 28, 2009
1) Overwork the medic!
There's rarely enough health or water on any map to put out everybody who's on fire, which leaves the job to the medic. And when he's putting out people on fire--or even better, trying to put himself out!--he's not supporting attacks, giving soldiers and demomen the HP boost to jump about with impunity, ubercharging friendlies...
2) Flank attack! (especially true for the backburner)
The pyro is slow-moving compared to the other classes who can jump about like quick little bunnies? If you're attacking the enemy head-on as a pyro, you're doing it wrong. Instead, act like a wild-card; find the medic and extinguish his life, counter enemy flanker scouts by setting them on fire (if they're using the sandman, it won't take very long at all to kill them, and afterburn can do it very effectively after a short, half-second burst, particularly if you control any nearby health packs and/or have already offed the medic), give your friends an unanticipated edge in a soldier-vs.-soldier fight...
3) Neutralize enemy attacks! (for the normal flamethrower)
The two soldiers and the demomen are both distinguished by their primary weapons being explosive projectiles. This means that a pyro with an airblast and some skill or a low ping (reasonable enough to assume at competitive levels) can effectively stop incoming rockets, grenades and stickies dead in their tracks, forcing the soldier to shotgun combat and the demoman to melee. It can also break an ubercharge very effectively, if the pyro has plenty of ammo. It might not do much for the scout, but it can hold them in position for a friendly scout or soldier to finish them off, and again, with their low HP, a quick flamethrower burst will force them to break (especially if you're good with the shotgun or flaregun and can hit them while they run).
So why don't we see more pyros in competitive play, if they can turn half of a "normal" competitive team into glorified shotgunners/melee men? Is the stigma of "W+M1" (so called because of the buttons held down by newbie pyros--move forward and attack) that great?
Friday, September 25, 2009
People, calm down. We're all on the same side here. None of us particularly like Obama, but that's not an excuse to doll him up as Batman's Joker and threaten to shoot him. None of us like the proposed health care bills, but that's not a reason to take intimitation tactics from out of Alinsky's (the bastard!) playbook. We're supposed to be calm, conservative, cool considerate men, ferchrissake! So tone it down!
...you don't want to be associated with the craziness of two and three years ago, do you?
Thursday, September 24, 2009
What I like about this is the part in the middle, where he notes that life is a bunch of trade-offs, and directly attacks the utopianism inherent in California's current water-use laws.
(Oh, and the reason wealth can be "created" apparently without tradeoffs is because value is relative--two guys make trade-offs regarding what they have, but they value what they get over what they give.)
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
You ever wish the world will stop thinking shyness is the first step to mass murder? Want to break the tyranny of those child and adolescent psycho-psychos who think introversion is something to be "cured"?
Monday, September 21, 2009
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I'm in a college with $50,000 a year tuition (although financial aid makes it more like $40,000), so this is highly relevant to my interests.
Monday, September 14, 2009
Hm...I kinda left the "agnostic antitheistic" bit hanging, didn't I. Very well, let me continue.
Remember my "political viewpoints" post, when I noted that "Utopianism, in this life or the next, is for suckers"? That's not an apathetic excuse to bow myself out from making things better; it's merely a statement of what Patton noted: "the perfect is the enemy of the good". That, and, well, utopian thinking tends to be slightly...irrational.
Irrational utopianism leads to shoddy thinkers who can't defend why their utopias ought to be thought of as such rationally. At its absolute worst form, it leads to...really bad things. Inquisition, gulags, concentration camps (d'oh, Godwin's Law)--the idea of creating a heaven on earth (or a heaven in heaven) is perhaps one of the most seductive and destructive human tendencies EVAH.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Hey, anybody remember that old joke where the Indian man says he wants to see America before he dies because he wants to see a country where the poor people are fat?
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Involuntarily, I'm some unusual combination of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism practiced by my mother (who drags me to her temple for prayer whenever she can). None of those have the same practice as Judaism, where the mother's religion automatically is considered the child's. Which is great, because after 5 years of getting dragged to temple, I figure the whole damn theology's a bunch of hooey anyway.
So what do I call myself? NOT Christian, even though my views tend towards the conservative and I did go to a Christian private elementary for a few years. Only thing I remember is how biblical stories got integrated into pretty much everything, and going to the principal frequently later in the year due to some mental issues.
I call myself "agnostic anti-theistic". I don't know and don't particularly care whether or not there is a god, gods, heavenly host, or whatever, but if any of the above have some sort of "divine plan" for how the world should go or end, kindly leave me out of it. I'm not prepared to stake my horse to someone or something who's full willing to unironically invoke the Omniscient Morality License (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/OmniscientMoralityLicense), thank you very much.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Odds are the speech will contain all sorts of fluffy, innocuous crap like "love your fellow students" and "study well" and "embrace the differences of others" that would probably be expected of a school speech with no immediately discernable topic. There is a sense, though, that Obama really has better things to do (if you're a rightist, tort reform, finishing the job in Afghanistan; if you're a leftist, health care/medical/Medicare reform, environmental issues) than give a speech to schoolkids, and that this speechifying all the way down to grade school is a little...odd.
Update 9/7/09: I WAS RIGHT.
Friday, September 4, 2009
I suppose it could be worse--from what I understand, 18-25 unemployment in France hovers somewhere around 25%--but, hey, for those of us who want jobs (like Adalore), this might be interesting reading.
Okay, scratch the "France" part; teenage unemployment here in the U.S. is at 25%. This sucks on ice.
This actually fits in VERY well with my personal fantasies.
I have a few complaints though; the headshot must've been done with a really low power weapon or something--no pink mist. The recon takes stupid long to actually pull the trigger, and when he addresses the cameraman you can see his finger is on the trigger at all times. But other than that...POP, haha!
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
(Also, I've noted biromantic tendencies in myself, so don't shoot me.)
1) For all the bluster on all sides of the aisle on "the definition of marriage", the definition is theoretically a very simple one: "a legal contract [traditionally considered between a man and a women, but that's subject to change] acknowledging the existence of a relationship, and restricting the terms of said relationship for the benefit of a third party", that third party being the government, the tribe, the future children, etc.. There's a metric butt-ton of detritus over tax breaks and visitation rights that have accumulated around this definition by various laws, but the essential core of marriage is the part I just put in quotes.
2) Having said THAT, the very term "gay marriage" suddenly becomes something of a contradiction. Implicit in the "gay" part is an EXPANSION of legally recognized relationships, expanding the choice of who can be in a consenting relationship with whom. Implicit in the "marriage" part is a RESTRICTION on the terms of such a consenting relationship; in a religious society, this may include absolute monogamy or certain divisions of care of house and home, and in more legal societies this includes splitting property ownership rights and debt obligations in a certain manner BY LAW. Thus, while I can support "gay marriage" viscerally, as an expansion of freedom, I cannot support it "intellectually", or speculate how it could be implemented, because the very term simultaneously implies an EXPANSION AND A RESTRICTION on the nature of relationships!
(It's possible that a significant number of gay couples feel the same way, as this study suggests:
It notes that, in all those countries and states where gay marriage is legal, very few couples actually take up the offer; perhaps the rest see marriage as an unwanted restriction on their relationship?)
Update, 9/2: After much conversation with Winter, again, it's noted that there is no contradiction if what is being discussed is the CHOICE of marriage, rather than the actual marrying, such that the couples can decide for themselves whether they like the chains or not. Fair enough, but once those advocates shift to suggesting the actual CONTRACT is a great win for their freedoms...see above.
She also said, and I quote: "clear definitions are luxuries ^_^" and that engies and scientists, in particular, need to dodge this. One, look who's talking, sound techie! Two...eh, another post.
Monday, August 31, 2009
Of course, odds are, by the time the rare earth thing becomes an immediate problem we'll have a substitute. But couldn't we say the same thing about oil?
Sunday, August 30, 2009
New favorite quote. I'll use it on any pseudoscientists who allege we can't see "beyond" or "into" their special tricks.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Update 30/8/09: Moved into my room, and currently waiting for my roommate. Yay!
Update again: Spencer is in and sophomore year is officially here.
He has such a powerful weapon!
Done right, it's a kill with one shot!
Foes will tremble in horror and strife.
The man with the folding kniiiiife...!
He's cloaked in a dark little corner,
Disguised as the Sniper...or not!
Always ready to extinguish a life.
The man with the folding kniiiiife...!
Revolver and sapper, with bladework so dapper
He rises to every kill
Send out your Pyros, he laughs at such tyros
They simply can't match his skill...
One perfect stab, and another poor Engy
Has met an unfortunate end...
He'll kill any man given his price!
The man with the folding kniiiiife...
And he might be...disguised as me...
Am I him...?...Well, we'll see! PEEK-A-BOO!
Revolver and sapper, with bladework so dapper
He rises to every kill
Send out your Pyros, he laughs at such tyros
They simply can't match his skill...
One perfect stab, and another poor Heavy
Has met an unfortunate end...
If you want to end someone's life
The man with the folding kniiiiife...
Will do it right!
He'll stop any life
With his fooooooolding kniiiiife...!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
9:44 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: I'm reasonably certain one of the reasons the cause has less support than it could in certain groups is because the acronym looks silly.
9:44 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: well, i dunno about that
9:44 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: for instance, definite policy positions can be taken
9:44 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: without being taken for a specific group of people that has to be defined
9:44 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: It certainly made me chuckle on campus, and it was kind of a block at taking the advocacy part seriously.
9:44 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: (and it's probably better if you do things that way)
9:45 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Fair enough...
9:45 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: for instance, removing the gendered restriction on mariage9
:46 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: you don't have to say who, exactly, you want to allow to marry
9:46 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: and list every gender identification
9:46 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Wouldn't it be easier to just give some other group responsibility for marriage licenses?
9:46 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: other than the government?
9:46 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: or other than churches?
9:46 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Other than either.
9:46 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: I mean, "government" is subdividable.
9:47 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: well, churches don't need to be involved
9:47 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: but it's already legal to get married in a church if you want, to anyone you care to
9:47 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Unless the couple wants it to be.
9:47 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Sure.
9:47 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: (and in fact it would be unconstitutional for it to be otherwise)
9:47 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Something like that, but in some other institution.
9:47 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: and the government only needs to be involved insofar as it grants special privileges to married couples
9:47 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: and denies certain couples the ability to marry
9:47 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: The government's only involved because of the theoretical wards of the state/future taxpayers.
9:47 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: (given the equal protection clause)
9:48 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: well, i wouldn't say only
9:48 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: i.e., the kids.
9:48 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: for instance, there could be some theoretical social benefit to marriage
9:48 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: You sure?
9:48 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: like increased happiness of couples
9:48 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: You sure?
9:48 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: I don't see it...
9:49 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: well, sociological studies pretty much confirm that married couples are happier than unmarried couples
9:49 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Not from what I've seen.
9:49 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: The fact that 50% get divorced pretty much clinches that.
9:50 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: And regarding the "gender identification" bit...
9:50 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: replace the checkboxes with a blank line and you're all set!
9:50 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Easy!
9:50 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: yeah, there's no reason to specify genders at all
9:51 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: (in fact, doing so is pretty much unconstitutional)
9:51 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: It's a waste of ink, anyway.
9:51 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: (unless you really can list every single identity)
9:51 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: (which, as we've established, is a PROBLEM)
9:51 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Two lines of text + boxes vs. one line?
9:52 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Well, I say, if 50% of marriages go busto, there's not much "increase in happiness" there.
9:52 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: i really need to organize my links and such
9:53 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Government has no reason to issue marriage licenses to keep track of people living together who can't produce "little taxpayers"...
9:53 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: And nothing's stopping gay/bisexual/lesbian/whatever couples from getting their licenses elsewhere...
9:53 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: ...or just flat-out moving in with each other straight off.
9:54 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: There's no reason for all the fire and flame and crap over the issue to even exist.
9:54 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: except there are substantial government benefits to be had
9:54 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: ie, visitation rights
9:54 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: as long as those exist
9:54 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: the need for legal marriage equality (federal AND state) is not going away
9:55 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Then wouldn't it be simplest to redefine marriage to not necessarily include those benefits.
9:55 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: ?
9:56 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: not necessarily
9:56 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: for instance, without legal recognition of the marriage relationship
9:56 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: your parents can deny your partner visitation rights, legally
9:56 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: (as already happens to same sex couples)
9:57 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: I think we're operating on different definitons of "marriage". Here's someone that's states my definition pretty well...
9:57 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: "In the absence of the institution of marriage, the individuals could arrange their relationship whatever way they wanted to, making it temporary or permanent, and sharing their worldly belongings in whatever way they chose.
Marriage means that the government steps in, limiting or even prescribing various aspects of their relations with each other -- and still more their relationship with whatever children may result from their union.
In other words, marriage imposes legal restrictions, taking away rights that individuals might otherwise have."
10:00 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Hence, "And nothing's stopping gay/bisexual/lesbian/whatever couples from getting their licenses elsewhere... ...or just flat-out moving in with each other straight off."
10:00 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: well, if it's still government-recognized
10:01 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: why is there a need for some additional party to enter into it/
10:01 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: ?
10:01 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: If by additional party you mean "the government", in theory there isn't.
10:01 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: well, in your system there's the government, the couples, and a third party "marriage license" issuer
10:02 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: In my system the government has better things to worry about.
10:02 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: no, because there's still a legal definition of a relationship
10:02 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: just because the government doesn't hand out the paper, as long as it is recognized
10:02 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: it is still involved
10:02 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: if it is NOT recognized, then as we have established there are going to be problems with existing recognized relationships
10:03 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Wait, what? The government "handing out the paper" is a BAD thing; it curtails options for couples that they might otherwise have.
10:03 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: howso?
10:04 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Alimony payments, child support laws...
10:04 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: hm?
10:04 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: "In a free society, vast numbers of things are neither forbidden nor facilitated. They are considered to be none of the law's business.
Homosexuals were on their strongest ground when they said that the law had no business interfering with relations between consenting adults."
10:04 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: You could argue that I am currently in a (friendly, online) relationship with you.
10:05 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: that's not enough, though
10:05 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: If I had to sign some legal document to make that relationship "official", I'd have to provide support, etc.
10:05 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: if you want to have a relationship without government sanction that's totally fine
10:05 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: but that's not what we're talking about
10:06 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: we're talking, SPECIFICALLY, about the things the government is concerned with
10:06 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: for instance, how to legally recognize relationships between people
10:06 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: And I'm arguing the federal and state governments have minimal to no reason to do that.
10:06 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: County and city courts may see it differently...
10:07 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: but there's no apparent reason the Feds should have to concern themselves with marriage licenses.
10:10 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: as long as there is, just to come back to this again, legal recognition for familial relationships there will have to be legal recognition for marriage relationships of some kind, somewhere in law
10:10 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: even if it isn't providing tax breaks, or whatever
10:10 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Then put that law in city and county books.
10:11 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: If the guys in one county don't like it, move over.
10:11 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Because, honestly, show me in the Federal and State constitution where it says "The Country/State has the right to issue official recognitions of relationships".
10:11 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: There isn't one.
10:11 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: It doesn't belong there.
10:12 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: so how do you, then, recognize parents and children?
10:12 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: for instance, custody?
10:12 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: clearly parents have more claim to a child than some other unrelated person
10:12 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: (at least in our society)
10:12 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: True.
10:12 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: if it's purely contractual
10:13 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: then any sort of contract will do
10:13 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: whereas the relationship is clearly not only contractual
10:13 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: For the purposes of the law, the contract is the only part that matters in any way to them.
10:13 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: to it, rather.
10:13 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: All else occurs elsewhere.
10:14 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: so, for instance, how do you create this contract?
10:14 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: clearly it cannot be between the parents and the child
10:14 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: because a child cannot give informed consent
10:14 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: which is a pretty big point of having this special relationship
10:15 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Well, how is it handled now?
10:15 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Presumably there's a contract of some sort between parents...
10:15 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: And if there's a break-up, the local courts handle the custody case.
10:16 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Just move the contract issues down a few pegs; move them away from state and federal governments with better things to do.
10:16 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: what if you move from one county to another?
10:16 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: can a police officer pick you up and take your child since your relationship is legally not recognized in that county or state?
10:16 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: (this, too, happens currently)
10:16 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: ...in theory, no...
10:17 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Some section of the constitution says that...
10:17 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Can't remember where, though, hold on...
10:17 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: it's reciprocity
10:17 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: but the constitution is federal government, again
10:18 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: 1. Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.
10:18 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: yeah
10:18 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Okay, that's for states, but the same rule applies.
10:18 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: And I'm assuming "records" includes marriage licenses.
10:19 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: it does
10:19 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: although generally same sex marriages aren't being counted
10:19 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: at the moment
10:19 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: under a variety of scummy legal tricks
10:20 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Hey, look, I don't like Prop. 8 either, alright?
10:20 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: You don't put marriage laws in a state constitution, it's stupid!
10:20 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: it's not just that
10:20 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: for instance, the mass. law specifically says "we don't do reciprocity on THESE marriages"
10:21 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: or something like that, it's been a while
10:21 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: and even if it did
10:21 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: alabama doesn't care
10:25 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: ...seems the whole damn problem here is all the extra detritus attached to a marriage license.
10:25 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: well if it weren't for all this extra stuff there wouldn't be any need for government recognition to begin with
10:26 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: well, no, i suppose just offering a blank recognition would still probably invoke equal protection
10:26 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: but it wouldn't be a big deal
10:26 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: just get married in a church, or whatever1
0:27 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: If the recognitions were "blank"--if marriage licenses didn't come with the whole "visitation rights" and whatever--this problem would be so much easier to solve.
10:27 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: But not even the staunchest Christian anti-gay-marriage advocate doesn't consider "visitation rights" part and parcel of the marriage thing. At least he doesn't say so.
10:28 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: So couldn't we just redefine marriage to a legal contract, without any implicit visitation rights or tax breaks or whatever?
10:28 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: It wouldn't matter to me, anyway; I'm a bachelor for life.
10:29 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: well... what do you mean?
10:30 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: You said, way back when...
10:31 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: that implicit in the marriage license are various benefits, " ie, visitation rights", which is where all the problems of "defining marriage" comes up.
10:31 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: No marriage definition I've seen, even those made by those who are AGAINST gay marriage, include those various benefits.
10:31 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: i'm not sure that's really true
10:31 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: but opponents of same sex marriage don't really have a coherent position anyway
10:31 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: by that logic
10:32 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: they're not actually against any specific policy, they're just complaining about things that aren't happening
10:32 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Sucks to be them, then, but all the same...
10:33 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: well if people would stop paying attention to them we wouldn't be having this conversation
10:33 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: there's a bunch of extra stuff attached to the legal definition of "marriage" that nobody but the government considers part of the definition.
10:33 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: At least, nobody but federal and state governments.
10:33 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: well, i wouldn't say that
10:33 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: the same sex marriage fans are (or probably should be) primarily interested in those pieces
10:34 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Really?
10:34 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: (or perhaps more accurately: equal protection, which involves those areas in which people are not receiving equal protection, which encompasses those issues)
10:34 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: those who got a marriage license are also, i think, pretty interested
10:34 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: even if only for the tax breaks
10:35 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: If they're interested all the benefits but not necessarily the word...
10:35 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: ...would "civil unions" with all the benefits of marriage but not necessarily the name satisfy them?
10:35 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: I was under the impression they wanted the legally binding contract...
10:35 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: ...not all the extra crap.
10:36 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: well, "civil unions" would also be a legally binding contract
10:36 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: "civil unions" are also... uh... problematic
10:36 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: there is some pretty serious precedent in that area that is really, really awkward to ignore
10:36 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: (specifically: "separate but equal")
10:37 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Sigh...
10:37 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: more generally speaking
10:38 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: you're creating a new, distinct relationship that is supposed to be the exact same thing, effectively, as marriage excepting for who can get into the relationship
10:38 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Well, barring a legal redefinition of "marriage license"...
10:39 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: I'm fine with the whole "gay people in love want to be together" thing, but why they choose to define that under a RESTRICTION of relationships is problematic.
10:40 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: restriction?
10:40 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Marriage. The concept implies certain restrictions on how the couple goes about settling its relationships.
10:41 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: well, in a sense
10:42 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Dowrys, home-providing, how to split the inheritances, whatever.
10:42 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: yeah
10:42 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: but isn't that sort of the business of the people who enter into the relationship?
10:42 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Under normal circumstances, it would be.
10:43 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: The institution of "marriage" puts restrictions on that for the benefit of the tribe, future taxpayers, whatever.
10:44 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Some legal systems, for instance, require the spouses to pool and joinly own their properties...
10:44 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: yeah
10:44 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: ...others give them 50-50 liabilities for debts.
10:45 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Subtract the institution, and the couple could split their debts and assets however they wanted.
10:46 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: yeah
10:47 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: To repeat, I'm fine with the idea of "gay marriage", I'm just wondering why the gay couple is so happy about it, since it adds extra restrictions to how they go about their lives.
10:48 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: But again, it really doesn't matter to me, since I'll be a bachelor forever.
10:48 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: heh
10:50 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Well, that was an enlightening discussion!
10:51 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: hehe
10:51 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: I've actually codified one of my political beliefs into something that I'd be willing to put on a website or poster.
10:52 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: yay
10:52 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister] giggles
10:52 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Yay indeed!
10:52 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri offers a toast.
10:52 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: whee
10:52 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: To future enlightening discussions!
10:53 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: hehe
10:54 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: Who would've guessed you'd have spent a half-hour plus discussing gay relations and relationship legality with someone you met over TF2?
10:54 PM - Winter [PM of Sinister]: :P
10:55 PM - [d20/ChHa] Davin Valkri: An hour plus, actually.
27/8/09: The current medical care bill in Congress is renamed to something along the lines of the Edward Kennedy Memorial Health Care Reform bill.
You call it a fitting tribute, I call it slightly poor taste.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Back when Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago was still published in secret back in the U.S.S.R., a citizen would get a hand-bound copy from someone else (1930 pages or so), have 24 hours to read it secretly, and then have to pass it on to someone else to avoid getting caught with it.
I find it hard to believe that it's possible to read the whole thing in 24 hours, not because of its massive size or because it's boring, but because it's so damn emotionally draining. One needs to take frequent breaks to remain in any sort of high spirits. I think if I had to read the whole thing in 24 hours, I'd go insane and have to be put in a straitjacket gibbering about 10 and a half ounces of bread per day for those "last-leggers"! As it is, I've been reading it all over summer, and I still feel the urge to punch anybody who tries to make a moral equivalence between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. If Obama ever decides to appoint me education czar to anything, I'd make Gulag Archipelago required reading in college literature and world history courses. But that'll never happen, so I might as well take them to college and maybe loan out individual volumes.
Monday, August 24, 2009
It's funny...I just got through the Solzhenitzyn chapter talking about how the Soviet Union would recruit "stoolies" to spy on neighbors or fellow prisoners. Now...
"Because the city area is so large -- covering nearly 500 square miles -- the water cops wouldn't be able to do their jobs without tips from neighbors. The city's anonymous hotline and email address pulls in dozens of tips a day from residents ratting out nearby water wasters.
Ms. Ryan complained that not everyone on her block abides by the two-day-a-week rule for lawn watering. "Some of my neighbors have been cheating," she said.
But she stops short of turning them in. "I don't like the dynamic that it sets up," she said.
Others are more zealous. Gayle Martin, a landscaper who lives in the city's Mid-Wilshire neighborhood, has been on the lookout. She used one facet of the water conservation program -- cards residents can hang on their neighbor's doors alerting them to water waste. The city dubs it the "Neighbors Helping Neighbors Save Water" program. One neighbor, she said, was flooding the sidewalk.
"She has broken sprinkler heads that shoot up and just flood the gutter," she said. "It's just a mess."
" (emphasis mine).
Well, Solzhey, I guess it's a good thing you're dead.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Saturday, August 22, 2009
(I probably am a schizoid freak, but I'd rather they came to that conclusion somewhere else.)
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
It's the basis of all capitalistic deals, really---I have something of moderate value to me and higher value to you (say, a PS2 with Persona 4?). You have something of a moderate value to yourself (or even zero value) but very high value to me (a full computer game rig!). We being the greedy bastards we are, we trade, and we each walk away rubbing our hands together in a really devious way and saying "sucker."
It's the same once money is introduced, or the items being traded are abstractions like oil futures or soybean insurance. Value is massively relative; $5000 for you might be worth less, much less, than a stake in an oil company, but give it to me and I'm likely to spend it on something I value more, whether college or computer systems. Or, more dramatically, a supermarket candy bar might be worth about a dollar to me, but its worth is near infinite to a hypoglycemic who needs a sugar fix to live.
Taking the last example, there's little reason the supermarket wouldn't charge "near infinite" money to the hypoglycemic for the candy bar, but of course there are always other places to get a candy bar. Gas stations, vending machines, other supermarkets---they all place small enough value on the chocolate, but plenty of value on the hypoglycemic's cash, and they're all competing for the same (limited) set of funds. And while we can imagine (albeit with difficulty) a massive candy bar cartel artifically keeping prices high, the first person to break from the cartel and lower his price is going to get the payment for the candy, so it's to everybody's advantage to lower prices and try to get their greedy white gloves on business.
So where social judges get their charges of "price gouging" and "unfair pricing" is a mystery to me...
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
- National government should dedicate its time and money to a few national-interest things, and do those things well. This means things like a strong military (though not necessarily big or pervasive) and well paved cross-country roads. This does not include providing for businesses (see below) or people.
- Free market capitalism, pure supply and demand, raw profit motive is the most efficient way to distribute limited things among unlimited wants, and does a remarkable job of addressing various societal ills that would normally be fixed by fiat. If, for instance, women are paid 75% of the wages men are for the same amount and difficulty of work, then a company would be insane to hire three men; instead for the same money, it would hire four women, get more work done, and drive its competitors into the dirt. This would increase the demand for women workers, and to attract them companies would raise their offered wages, eventually getting to general wage equality. The same can be argued if black, gay, etc., were substituted for women.
- The most complete intellectual threat to free market capitalism may be socialism, but the most immediate threat is capitalists looking for a political advantage by government. These capitalists seem to be trying for a sort of neo-mercantilism, protecting companies in-country and imagining outflowing wealth is lost, not invested or traded.
- The government's job in international affairs is to project national interests. If these happen to overlap with international ones (e.g. a sort of Pan-Europe-U.S.-Japan free trade agreement), fine.
- People aren't saints. The reason free market capitalism works so well is because it does not require people to be saints; in fact, one could argue that free market capitalism, understood a certain way, plays to the greedy instincts of others to sate your own greed. In theory, all deals should have both/all parties walk away from the table thinking "...sucker!", because everybody's gotten something he values more for something he values less (else why make the deal?).
- Political and economic systems that claim to do it better than "dog-eat-dog" free market capitalism usually don't. Just look at the utopian societies of the 1800s and early 1900s, various African basket-cases, the old Soviet Union. Even more benevolent cases like Sweden lag in comparison with the rest of Europe.
- Utopianism, whether in this life or the next, is for suckers.
- Leave well enough alone in the case of social issues.
- ...But come at me in a drug-addled stupor and don't be surprised if your head hurts when you're lucid again. (Self-defense, by hand, knife, or gun, is always in style.)
- Precision of language helps everybody.
- You can't necessarily say everybody's a minority (unless you mean a minority of one), or an oppressed class, or a blue-collar union man, or whatever. But at the end, everybody's a consumer.
- Rationalism is awesome.
- Goldwater had it right when he said "I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!" (Let's not get into how such a quote could be corrupted by terrorist-types, however)
- Alinsky and Luntz are both morons.
I'll elaborate on various points here at random in later posts.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
And apparently some people are planning a boycott of the store.
I'm not a particular fan of "organic" foods---for one, the thing's a government label and may not be "organic" as I know it, and for another, less chemical use means less crop per acre means increased costs---but maybe I'll stop by and pick up some crackers or something. There's supposed to be one near Harvey Mudd.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Logos is an argument from logic: it's the assertion that the pool is contaminated because there are five confirmed elevated concentrations of strychnine and seven mosquito nests.
Ethos is an argument from expertise (usually moral): it's saying that the pool is contaminated because I'm an expert on water quality and I should know.
Pathos is an argument from emotion: it says the pool is contaminated because of those kids that got sick and had to go to hospital for a few weeks.
Bathos is what happens when you screw up pathos: it's the argument that apparently more kids got sick and/or died from swimming in that one pool than live in the county.
I'm not certain why, but my dividing line between pathos and bathos is really really thin and really easy to cross; see "From the Annals of TV Tropes" for an example (archives on right). And for some reason, pathos is on full display in every area of politics, no more so than in places like Health Care, Global Warming....
This isn't to say it's a completely torrid affair--the Congressional Budget Office has kept its head, and most of the commentors on National Review (especially Krauthammer and Hanson; Steyn is deliberately going for bathos for comic effect) are very calm. But to listen to those people the media love to show in town hall clips, advocacy groups on every side of the line, and the President's media offices is like a big heaping combo dose of laughing gas and ipecac (a vomit inducer).
People, I'm a logos man! Most people, I suspect, are logos men! Argue to my brain, not my heart, and you have a much better chance of getting me to listen to you and not pick you apart.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Having done some guesstimation I have come to a conclusion.
I have spoken to people whose faces I do not know through chat boxes on Steam for the last three months more than I have spoken face-to-face with people at college for the nine preceding those three, and on much more varied topics.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
No profit sharing. (It's not a job, obviously.)
Distressing look at reading tastes of modern America. (Plenty of Self-Help, Christian Fiction, cheesy Romances...we should open a Maple Syrup annex to the bookstore annex to process all the sap!)
Good sides of volunteering at the bookstore annex of local public library:
Sense that you are "making a difference". (So stop bothering me about my cynicism, Obama!)
First pick at all the books that get donated. (To date, I have purchased Clausewitz's On War, Heinlein's Starship Troopers, the second and third volumes of Solzhenitsyn's Gulag Archipelago [already got the first], a copy of Don Quixote published 1941, and A Clockwork Orange, along with a near complete collection of P.J. O'Rourke's works from before 1995.)
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Apparently Canada doesn't feel like donating sperm to impotent couples...
Monday, August 10, 2009
Think this guy, but with a red suit instead of a blue one. He has a bunch of fun tricks you can pull on an unsuspecting enemy:
- He can make himself look completely like a member of the opposing team, even choosing a name that matches the class being played (if available). The only clues the enemy has that he's a SPY are that he's solid to them and he catches on fire.
- He can also render himself invisible for a period of time, and extend that invisibility by picking up ammunition boxes.
- He can disable buildings with his "sappers" without dropping his disguise, slowly draining their health and eventually destroying them without engineer intervention.
- And once he gets behind his enemy...
Boom! One shot kill!
I just racked up twenty of these bad boys without getting killed (my team still lost though), shot one guy, disabled several buildings and generally made a real ass of myself whenever the enemy tried to make a push!
And what does Steam decide to do? It says "Nope! Too bad! I'm not keeping a record of it! Even though I got all these fun numbers to show you, I'm not going to actually UPDATE your records!"
Wah....! Anybody else have this problem out there? WAH......!
UPDATE! Turns out it DID save it! I was just looking in the wrong spot! He he...
UPDATED UPDATE: NOOO! It's gone again!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
As I noted in the Pyro entry down below, Valve adds special weapons for characters when it gives a big update to TF2. These special weapons are geared towards a particular playstyle, and have advantages that endear it to that role and weaknesses that make it unpalatable to other players with the same class, different role.
With that in mind, here's some ideas for classes that Valve hasn't updated yet.
Rocket-propelled Rocket: For the Soldier
Normally a Soldier carries a four-shot rocket launcher (4 loaded, 20 reserve) designed to engage groups of enemies with splash damage at short to medium range. The rockets are slow-travelling, limiting their use at longer ranges.
The Rocket-Propelled Rocket is designed slightly differently. It's a much larger, much faster moving rocket that does more damage and has a greater area of effect than the normal rockets. Downside? You only get one shot before you need to reload, and the animation is significantly longer than reloading normal rockets. I'm thinking 1 loaded, 10 reserve, but that's subject to balance issues.
So if the RPR carrying soldier is engaged at close range by a normal soldier, the normal one would probably win. If the RPR soldier catches the normal soldier with his buddies off guard, he can fire his rocket to massively weaken or kill a large group of targets.
Semi-Automated Pistol: For the Engineer
The most common tactic for Engineers in Team Fortress 2 is simple--hide behind your sentry nest. If the sentry nest refuses to take something out, like a disguised spy, the Engineer can engage with his shotgun at close range or with his pistol (12 loaded, 200(!) reserve) at longer ranges.
The Semi-Automated Pistol (I'm thinking 12 loaded, 120 reserve) is designed to encourage the nesting habit. At any time, the engineer can set it down; it will quickly restructure itself into a level 1 Sentry gun. He can use this in addition to his normal sentry to cover a larger area, or use this new sentry to cover his back. He can repair and reload it like his normal sentry (hit it with his wrench), but he cannot upgrade it.
Should the Semi-Automated Pistol be destroyed as a sentry, that's it; the Engineer cannot reacquire it until he dies and respawns. Further, the pistol-to-sentry transition is one-way; he cannot recover the pistol, leaving him only his shotgun to engage targets not covered by his sentry.
Team Fortress 2 players, what do you think?
Wait wait wait what? If people are spreading "disinformation" "just below the surface" about Obama's health care proposals, I'm supposed to...send an email to the government (firstname.lastname@example.org)? Effectively turn them in? Uwah?
Okay, how do we define "disinformation"? And what would the guys on the other end do with the tips?
If this email came out five years ago encouraging people who heard or read others with "disinformation" about Iraq to send emails to the White House, it'd be called Orwellian and fascist, and rightly so. So...what do we call this?
Thursday, August 6, 2009
It's scans of an old book: "Red Primer for Children and Diplomats", by Hungarian Victor Vashi, from 1967. Take a little easy-to-digest history of the way-back-when.
This is why: reading the dialogue, it becomes obvious that Socrates doesn't trust the people, the masses, whatever you want to call them, on questions of moral judgement. That honor belongs to the elect few; in Socrates' eyes, those few include those blameless and moral arbiters of law, the state. In order for Socrates' claims that he is obligated to remain in prison to hold true, then, the government, laws, state, whatever, must be morally just and above reproach.
But Socrates is an Athenian. He lives in a city-state where the government is elected by its people, and its laws must be judged appropriate by members of the masses (by jury, by vote, etc.), the very same people Socrates says cannot be trusted on questions of justice and morality!
"No matter how the rather nebulous term “state” is defined, extrapolating Socrates’ lines of argument always leads to an inconsistency—the state is either the legalistic arm of the many or so close to the many as to be indistinguishable, and Socrates cannot praise the former as the highest arbiter of justice while condemning the latter as an unruly mob." (Blatant copy-pasta from a paper I had to write on the subject).
(And here's another one, positing a potential counter-argument from Crito:)"“Socrates, you say that the many should not be trusted on matters of justice or injustice. Why, then, do you so love the state, which is nothing but a natural extension, here in Athens at least, of that many? On my side are the many, who say that you should be released, whom you disdain. On yours is the many, in the form of the government, who say that you should stay and die, whom you embrace. By staying, Socrates, you do not resolve your own ethical dilemma satisfactorily or avoid hypocrisy, not in a manner consistent with your own moral philosophy. By staying, you in fact say, ‘…although my philosophy does not turn to the many on questions of justice, it is, in the end, subject to the justice of the many, in the form of their proxy, the state and its laws and punishments, however arbitrary or contaminated by mob tendencies they may be.’”"
Socrates may have been right to choose to remain in prison, but to frame the question as one of justice, morality and metaphysics (rather than the somewhat humbler choice of an old man) introduces its own contradiction. That, or Plato was in error when describing what his teacher would have said in such an incident.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
My parents drive three vehicles. Dad drives an office car (that apparently runs on ethanol) to work. It's Caltrans' car, so no joy there. Mom drives a Toyota to work. That's the car I learned to drive in, but it's being used most of the time and I can't take it back with me to Harvey Mudd. The third is a Acura SUV, but that's waaaay too big for me.
I want a car, not a thingy with six CDs, heated seats, mud-flaps, etc., etc. I want something with decent miles per gallon, plenty of safety features and damage resistance, easy handling so I don't put it into a streetlight, and not too many special features so I don't mess up at the controls (radio, A/C, power windows are fine; integral DVD player and reverse camera are not).
Cars for Clunkers doesn't work for me--even if I had another car to trade in and the thing isn't cancelled by the time I head for the dealer, most of the cars on the "allowed to buy" list are cutting edge 2009/2010 models, including luxury affairs like BMWs and Priuses and Audis.
In fact, it probably works against me, since the traded-in-cars have their engines annihilated by replacing the oil with a corrosive agent (sodium silicate, I believe), and running the engine, thus removing the trade-ins from the used car pool and driving up the price for guys with no money like me.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Cluster munitions dropped lengthwise across the line prove remarkably effective.
(What does this have to do with the mythos? One of the primary points of action in the stories that buzz in my head involve ancient, elder and out-and-out eldritch magicks with more-or-less outdated actual tactics [imagine the phalanx above, but with alternating spear lines replaced by dedicated fire mages, and the individual spearmen superheating the tips of their spears with their fingers] fighting a modern military with modern tactics [air strikes, etc.]. This was just a joke along those lines.)
Monday, August 3, 2009
And this parody by Garrison Dean:
Which movie would you rather watch?
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Ask any vegetarian WHY he is so, and the answer's likely to vary. Some people decide to swear off meat for health reasons, or perhaps on doctor's orders, in which case I can only salute and wish them the best. Others say that they have no particular reason, they just prefer the taste of soybeans and vegetables or don't like the tastes of meat--fair enough. A few, though, will probably turn the matter into a question of morals, citing something about "protecting animals" or "preserving life" or "it's natural for life to be non-destructive", etc. I'm not entirely certain I can get behind this, and here's why:
Thanks to the biological definition of "life" including everything from bacteria to various single-cell organisms (euglena, etc.) to plant life to mushrooms to sponges to sea cucumbers *deep breath* to cockroaches to chicken to cows to us, and the fact that the Earth is a limited sphere with attendent limited resources (even if humanity didn't exist), all life must invariably thrive on the destruction of other life. Plants, given the same area of land to exist in, will attempt to choke each other out and gain dominance. Predator-prey relationships provide an even more obvious example; as the predator thrives, its numbers demand more prey animals be sacrificed to hunger, until there isn't sufficient prey to get eaten and the predators start starving to death, which allows the prey to start reproducing again with reduced threat, which prompts the predators to eat, get healthy, and start growing again, and so on. Two predators with one prey will result in the predators killing each other, or at least forcing the other to starve, to monopolize access to the prey. One we add decidedly nonstandard relationships (single-cell parasites attacking plant life, or various diseases attacking the predators, for example) and get up to ecosystem levels, nature becomes a metaphorical bloodbath of species, each attempting to assure their own survival, usually at the expense of other species (there are a few symbiotic exceptions, but they're rare). What some romantic authors call the "balance of nature" is a very unstable equilibrium, likely to be driven out into massive cycles of starvation and overproduction by the next rabbit baby boom.
But we're sentient creatures, say the moralist-vegetarians, and certainly we have an obligation, moral, religious or otherwise, to avoid such destructive orgies. Perhaps so, but (a) that pesky biology definition means you're destroying life anyway to sustain yourself (and, in the case of nuts, seeds, fruits, and legumes, metaphorically ripping out plant unborn from their wombs for consumption, possibly eating the womb, too), and (b) your immune system is on autopilot and is killing everything that's not you on the off chance one of them will cause the unfortunate side effect of causing you to get sick and die.
It may be a beneficial or logical choice to kill our meat animals humanely (by executing them quickly and getting all the meat available to maximize investments rather than tearing off a piece with our knifes and leaving the bellowing creature for the scavengers), or perhaps to raise our own animals expressly for the purpose of slaughter so we don't have to go into nature and kill an elephant or mountain goat or gazelle or whatever to get food (which is how civilization got off the ground). Since life requires the destruction of other life, however, to assert that vegetarianism is inherently more "moral" or "closer to nature/natural instincts" than meat eating is absurd.
(Also, an anecdote from a colleague in college regarding Mongolian spiritual mediations on the matter:
A story from when I was hitchhiking across the Mongolian border: Mongolians it turns out pretty much only eat meat. The explanation is that every time you eat something you're taking on a karmic debt of killing a soul. A goat can feed you for a couple weeks and you've only killed one soul. It's completely mind boggling to them why anyone would want to be a vegetarian - the number of plants you're killing in such a lifestyle is way more than the number of goats they're eating.)
(Oh yes, I never answered the question in the title, did I? It's because, like the vegetarian who does not like the taste of meat, and thus chooses to be so, I do like the taste of well-prepared chicken, fish, beef, pork, etc. [well-prepared anything really], and choose to eat according to my tastes.)
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
"The world" is rather close to the present, only with time advanced to 2045. Science and engineering have made remarkable advances, and, while inequalities still exist, quality of life has improved across the board, at least partially. The primary political powers in this world are the Global Union (G.U.), essentially the bastard offspring of today's United Nations and European Union, and the Nations Against Totalitarian Oligarchism (NATO 2), which opposes the G.U. The United States and a number of its allies, like Britain, Japan, Iraq, India, Canada, Australia, Ethiopia, and a few others, belong in the latter category.
The "viewpoint character" (or at least one of them) is living on Kadena AFB, Okinawa, currently joint Japanese Self-Defense Force/United States Air Force following a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Japan. He's Captain Davin Valkri, USAF, 18th Wing, 44th Fighter Squadron (Vampires). Yes, that name sounds familiar, but I've been pretty adamant about using that name for that character since before I got involved on most of the internet. Physically, he doesn't look all that imposing--sure he's tall, around 6'7" (200 cm), but he's also really skinny and doesn't have much muscular build, with stupidly pale skin and a somewhat boyish, borderline-effeminate jawline, even though he's twenty-nine years old. And since his clothing choices tend towards the somewhat androgynous, like USAF flight suits on duty and build-concealing long sleeves, thin jackets and long pants with the legs stuffed down his high-ankled shoes off duty (no matter the temperature), he doesn't really look like much of a threat.
And that's too bad for whoever opposes him, because not only does he carry a combat knife and a .45 pistol in his civilian clothing (with another .45 and knife in the flight suit), he's also very avid at unarmed or improvisational combat. He won't hesitate to take any opportunity in a fight, including using his handgun, and attacks with speed and ferocity reminicient of a jet-fighter dogfight. He's also really annoyed that no matter what he tries, he always looks like a wimpy pushover, since it draws him into fights. Sure he usually WINS said fights, but he remembers his Sun Tzu and would like to see his opponents surrender without a fight, and he figures the best way to do that is to put on an imposing image. He also likes to intimidate people, and taunt those he considers idiots (or defeated opponents, but since he's very much a combat pragmatist, he only does this if the man opposing him will not get up).
He's very well read, wolfing down books on Japanese history, military history and strategy, current affairs, and historical tragedies like the Holocaust and the Gulag system. This has, combined with a somewhat turbulent family history (thanks to events in 2025, he's pretty much the only member of his family line left), given him a somewhat morose and cynical outlook on human nature. He's extremely distrustful of almost everybody, the only exceptions being people close to him in the Air Force. Davin's not much of a fan of rhetoric, either, as most of the speech makers of his time love to appeal to pathos (emotion), and he invariably picks it up as bathos (failed attempts to evoke sympathy).
Both in the air and on the ground, Davin fights like he believes a jet-dogfighter should--with lots and lots of speed and fast attacks. To borrow from TV Tropes, he's something of a fragile speedster, in that he'll be disabled, or even killed, if you can land one or two good solid hits on his midsection, but he refuses to let you, sending your fists to hit empty air while he nails you in the windpipe and solar plexus. Give him the opportunity, and he WILL hit you there. Possibly with his knife.
Friday, July 24, 2009
It's a site called poverty.com. You can see it here: http://www.poverty.com/.
The TV Tropes entry on the thing can by found by scrolling way, way down here: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/TearJerker/RealLife.
As you can probably guess from the URL, the poverty site is supposed to evoke tears. Well, for me, it hasn't.
Ignore the fact that the photos presented are composite and stock, and that the names are essentially randomized. Ignore, as one commenter on the TV Tropes entry noted, that the names do not match the ethnicities and that the problems seem confined to South America, the Indian Subcontinent, and Central Africa.
Instead, take a long look at the sidebar to the left of the screen. Specifically, under solutions: "International Aid" is the only entry.
Thus, the problems of international poverty, and all its attendant death and suffering, are reduced to a question of "money" or "more money", ignoring that (a) that poverty is likely a result of poor economic decisions as much as anything else, and (b) we've been giving out the aid for at least fifty years with not much to show for it.
Here's a (somewhat old, contemporary with first Live Aid broadcasts, but it does demonstrate for how long this "international aid" business has been debunked) couple of lines from P.J. O'Rourke, from an article titled "Fiddling While Africa Starves":
"...these musical riots of philantropy address themselves to the wrong problems. There is, of course, a shortage of food among Africans, but that deosn't mean there's a shortage of food in Africa...According to hunger maven William Shawcross, 200,000 tons of food aid delivered to Ethiopia is being held in storage by the country's government...
"The African relief fad serves to distract attention from the real issues. There is famine in Ethiopia, Chad, Sudan, and...Mozambique. All these countries are involved in pointless civil wars. There are pockets of famine in Mauritania, Niger and Mali--the result of desertification caused mostly by idiot agricultural policies. African famine is not a visitation of fate. It is largely man-made, and the men who made it are largely Africans....
"Bumbling and corrupt central planning stymies farm production. And the hideous regimes use hunger as a weapon to suppress rebellion. People are not just starving. They are being starved."
Further, if India and China are any indication (see Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell), the fastest way to bring people out of poverty is not external aid, but internal reforms and free markets. Once those two countries began to make economic reforms (although political reforms in China are somewhat lacking), large swaths of population began to come out of poverty: "It has been estimated that 20 million people in India rose out of destitution in a decade and more than a million Chinese per month [emphasis original] rose out of poverty".
Further, with prosperity comes health and cleanliness, and knowledge--which defeats dysentery (effectively unceasing diarrhea, leading to dehydration) and any number of water-borne diseases, curtails the spread of AIDS, and allows greater access to anti-malarial and pneumonia treatments. There is a reason why deaths due to dysentery, malaria, etc., are so comparatively rare in the U.S., Europe, and those countries like Japan who have chosen economic liberalism.
None of this is mentioned in the poverty site. The only given solution reduces poverty-stricken countries to victims stricken by fate, and not man, effectively suggesting that "only with the assistance of their betters can they rise out of poverty".
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Meet the Pyro! One of nine classes in Valve's multiplayer shooter Team Fortress 2 (go get it now! It's really good, I swear!), classified as "offensive", though we'll see that's not a hard and fast rule. This particular pyromaniac happens to be my favorite of the bunch, even though other (sore loser) players say he's (or she's) only for amateurs and newbies (LIES!).
Now, the Pyro has two options for his primary weapon. Both are gas-spitting flamethrowers, so their range is a bit on the short side--for some reason, video game flamethrowers never use napalm or other chemicals to increase their range. They are:
The Pyro's default weapon. As you can guess from the picture, essentially a propane tank attached to a gas-pump hose and nozzle attached to a tube with an underslung burner. Sets enemy targets on fire, causing continuous damage until the flames subside. Has a random chance of doing "critical", or much increased damage, at any time. It also comes with a compressed air blast, which requires 1/8th of its maximum ammo stock per use, which is its supporters' primary claim of superiority.
And The Backburner:
Essentially the Flamethrower in design, but the nozzle where the flame is now has a "predatorial" paint scheme. It doesn't have access to a compressed air blast, or do "critical" damage randomly. Instead, it will always do critical damage when lighting up targets from behind in a ninety-degree cone (I'll call enemies killed in this manner "melted" in a bit).
Those who advocate the Flamethrower's superiority (like my friend Winter, go see her: http://www.reddit.com/user/WinterAyars) assert that the Backburner has nothing to distinguish itself or show its superiority to the Flamethrower. And true, the compressed air blast of the Flamethrower allows it to do some interesting tricks:
- Defend forward bases set up by friendly Engineers ("Sentry nests") from incoming projectiles, such as the Soldier's rockets and the Demoman's grenades
- Put out teammates set alight by enemy pyros
- Defeat "ubercharges" (a period of time activated by Medics where both he and his heal target are rendered invulnerable for about eight seconds) by shoving the invulnerable character off a cliff
- Push enemy units into "kill zones", such as areas covered by friendly Sentry nests
Thus, the Flamethrower turns the Pyro into a hybrid creature, capable of attack (he still has the flamethrower), defense, and support. But since each compressed air blast requires 25 of a maximum 200 points of flamethrower fuel per use, such a Pyro would be tied down to nearby ammo stocks or be quickly rendered impotent. The Backburner, however, has its own fun tricks. With it, a Pyro can:
- Annihilate enemy "pushes" towards objectives, usually led by hard-hitting but slower-moving enemies, by getting behind them and melting crucial targets, such as Soldiers and Heavy Weapons Guys, while they are distracted by forward incoming fire
- Abort ubercharges before they even begin, by melting Medics as they focus on their heal target or incoming fire
- Defeat enemy Engineers setting up forward bases of operations, who are focusing on their equipment
- Quickly clear "sniper nests" of enemy Snipers by melting them while they aim downrange
The Backburner effectively turns the Pyro into the equivalent of a light tank, flanking and getting behind his enemies and shock-attacking to break their offenses. In a way, he becomes like his mortal enemy, the Spy, who gets instant kills with his knife while behind his foes. He is also, admittedly, somewhat dependent on either the remainder of his team to provide enough distracting fire or the layout of the map to outflank incoming attacks.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Can you pick a snappy acronym describing your cause that either doesn't make me hungry (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender = GLBT = a very tasty sandwich) or becomes a slightly more palatable acronym (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Trans...did I miss one?, Queer, Questioning, Asexual, Aromantic...do we include Bondage, Domination, Sado-masochism?, whatever Two-spirited is...etc.,).
You could use the one I have at the top of the post: Advocates of State-Backed Approval of Non-Heterosexuality. It reduces to "ASBA Non-Het", which doesn't have that many more syllables that GLBT (unless you pronounce that "GAL-bit") and includes everybody! Win for you!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Taking the second point first, "health care" is brushing your teeth, eating your veggies, riding a bicycle with your helmet on, and avoiding getting into fifty-little-red-wagon accidents--basically all the stuff mothers and fathers stereotypically nag their kids about. "Medical care" is what the doctor, dentist, surgeon, etc. are for--treating those infections and injuries that come up when health care fails and you get hurt.
(As a side-bar, and not a particularly important one, "preventative care" (screenings, regular physicals, etc.) strikes me as much like national defense...that is, plenty useful in the minority of cases where they apply, but not the first thing I think of when I think of "saving money on health care".)
Addressing the first point, as anyone who's ever played a management simulation game (even one as simple as "Lemonade Stand", which we can use as an example) will tell you, "prices" are infinitely flexible--you can set the price of your lemonade from one cent to two dollars a cup, or simply give them away for free. "Costs" are a completely different thing, as you'll have to spend money--that is, make an initial investment, a cost--to get the lemons, sugar, ice, etc., required to make the lemonade. If your "price" is not enough to recoup your "cost", you can either take the loss as debt or alter the formula of your lemonade to fit your price--using less lemon and sugar per gallon, for example.
The same rules apply to medical care. With respect to Obama and Congress, it is not their place to reduce the cost of medical care; that job belongs to the pharmacist who develops his "over-the-counter Cancer Buster" drug (an obvious joke) in a mass-production-capable way, or even to the educator who develops a curriculum to fast-track medical students, reducing the time required for their training (for time is money, a limited resource, after all). What the government can do is work with the price of medical care, e.g. with taxpayer subsidies or by mere price-control fiat. If this is not enough to pay the costs of that care, however, then the quality, timeliness, or some other factor will be exchanged to compensate--perhaps a steadily reducing MRI-per-capita count, or that "Cancer Buster" drug that never gets developed.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Seen it? Alright, now riddle me this... what other national leaders do you see or hear described in superhuman terms?
The answer, for me at least, includes old-dog nobility, junta leaders, and tin-pot dictators, not liberally-elected presidents.
Now, Obama and his staff didn't have any say in the creation of the video, and it gets real over-the-top near the end of the song. Still, in a way, that's a little more distressing--the idea that a superhuman image can be applied by people so...plausibly? Remember all the chants of "Yes we Can," after all...to someone who isn't made of cels and ink.
(Or maybe I'm just one of those people who thinks (like Black Mage here: http://www.nuklearpower.com/2009/03/17/episode-1106-from-a-certain-point-of-view/) that Lex Luthor proves the worth of man vs. Superman.)
Apparently, Gmail users get first-line access to blogging, so why not create one, ah?
So hello on the Internet to anyone who cares. You can call me Davin Valkri; it's what I use for most online stuff. Despite the post title, I'm not a Starcraft player, but I do play a lot of computer games. I also think a lot about politics, as you may or may not be able to guess from the links. Well, here's hoping I don't regret this.
Edit: As the blog title suggests (it's actually more or less stolen from regular columns by Thomas Sowell and Mark Steyn, very good thinkers), you're going to find me rambling about political things, possibly in a somewhat pseudo-philisophical manner. These will be filed under "Political Mediations/Ramblings". Hopefully I won't need a "rant" category. I'll talk about plenty of other things, too, like Team Fortress 2. These...well, I haven't decided on a category.