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Xiphias Gladius

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So, as I see it, this is how SJW-stuff works. [Nov. 23rd, 2015|09:37 am]
Xiphias Gladius
[Most of the time, when I write a post, I just write it and leave it up. This one, I'm doing some ongoing edits and tweaks, so it may be slightly changing here and there as people make suggestions.]

First, you've got your Social Justice Warriors. Their job is to draw aggro, so they need heavy tanking armor. The best tanking armor is White Privilege, which means that, honestly, Cis Het White Male is actually a good race for SJW. Thick Skin is necessary, too. You really need visibility to make your Taunts work well, so you need a very public persona to draw aggro well. Chris Kluwe and John Scalzi are two examples of effective Social Justice Warriors.

Social Justice Mages are your primary DPS class. They work with philosophy, law, and public relations, and, as such, they need very high Int to be effective. Their job is to attempt to do the real heavy lifting in trying to shift the ground in the society. I mean, obviously, that's what EVERYBODY is doing -- that's the point -- but they're the main DPS in it. SJMs include people like bell hooks, Lawrence Lessig, Justice Sotomayor, and the EFF. Anita Sarkeesian is the ultimate SJM. If the bad guys are specifically trying to get you, you're probably an SJM-- they try to get Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn.

That's because they're the highest DPS, which makes them the most important targets, which is why it's actually USEFUL to have SJWs drawing aggro away from them.

Social Justice Rogues are the secondary DPS class, but deal with more offbeat attacks and debuffing opponents. Their weapons include satire and mockery. Rogues, as a class, tend to the chaotic, so you also find SJRs doing things of questionable morality, like trolling. Stephen Colbert is a SJR, of the Neutral Good variety, and I have a vague suspicion that Josh Feuerstein, the guy who started the "Starbucks is anti-Christmas" thing, may be a Chaotic Neutral SJR. He does this whole thing where he makes up stupid outrage stories, and then sees if he can get the media to report on the dumb outrages. By goading right-wing culture warriors into doing incredibly stupid things, he makes the whole side look ridiculous, so I suspect that he's an SJR doing a strike from the shadows. Social Justice Rogues include Social Justice Bards, like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, who focus on buffing their party more than debuffing the enemy.

Social Justice Clerics are about buffing and healing the other classes. Many of them are actual clerics, and provide the religious and moral frameworks for social justice. Their messages are for the other SJ people, not the general public -- their job is to help the other warriors not give up, to know that what they are doing is important, to keep them going, to keep them mentally healthy. Right now, the most prominent SJC in the world is probably Pope Francis -- which just shows that not all SJ folks are on the same side on all issues. He's definitely a SJC, even though he's wrong on gay rights. You don't HAVE to be an actual religious person to be an SJC, but it can help.
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Two things I've learned: [Nov. 22nd, 2015|07:37 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Not one of tartar sauce, cream of tartar, and the tartar that builds up on your teeth is actually made from ground-up Mongol horsemen.

The Financial Times website has a really great 404 page.
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Some things you can do to protect yourself if you are afraid of being killed by terrorists: [Nov. 22nd, 2015|08:49 am]
Xiphias Gladius
1. Wear your seatbelt. Something on the order of 30 thousand people die in auto accidents in the United States each year; most of those people aren't wearing seatbelts. We can make a reasonable conclusion that at least a few thousand of the people who died not wearing seatbelts would have lived if they were wearing seatbelts; it is virtually certain that "not wearing a seatbelt" has killed more people in the United States in the past year than terrorism has, ever, including 9/11.

2. Make sure that any firearms you own are always either under your direct control, or locked up. Accidental firearm deaths have dropped precipitously over the past several decades, but there's been a disturbing uptick recently as stupid people have decided that they want guns. If you're going to own a firearm, make sure to have good training in firearms safety and an NRA-approved firearms safe. Consider whether trigger locks are a good idea for you.

The lowest number of accidental firearms deaths in one year in the past several decades was 600. So, in any year, more people are killed by poor firearm safety than in all terrorist attacks in the United States other than 9/11. Firearms injuries are much higher; it's hard to get numbers, but it is probable than, every year, there are more people injured by poor firearms safety than in all terrorist attacks in the United States ever, INCLUDING 9/11.

Like they say, "Guns don't kill people. People who have no clue how to use guns safely kill people." For the most part, guns aren't dangerous to people because bad guys get them: guns are dangerous because STUPID people get them. The idea of common-sense gun control and licensing isn't to keep bad guys from having guns; it's to reduce incompetence, which is frankly more of a danger to most people.

3. Cut down your smoking. We all know that one.

4. Control your drinking, and eliminate binge-drinking entirely. Look. I like alcohol, a lot. It's a hobby of mine. But let's be honest -- blacking out and/or puking, that's not enjoying alcohol responsibly. That's not even enjoying alcohol AT ALL. How can you enjoy ANYTHING when you're blacked out? And any alcohol that ends up on the ground isn't something you actually got to enjoy.

5. Get a carbon monoxide detector. It's not like in the Victorian era, when entire buildings of people would be found dead from carbon monoxide poisoning from faulty heating, but it's still important -- if something blocks the air intake of your heating system, you can still get dangerous levels of carbon monoxide even today.

6. Make sure your smoke detector batteries are working. Make sure that you keep the areas around your radiators clear. Don't overload your electrical outlets.

7. If you leave dishes soaking in your sink in soapy water, DON'T PUT KNIVES IN WITH THEM. In a restaurant, putting knives in the dish sink without letting the dishwasher know about it is a "be taken into the alley and be beaten" offense. And for good reason.

8. Make sure to be active for at least a half-hour a day, every day. Go for a walk or something.

So, there are seven things to do to protect yourself, if you are afraid of terrorists. All of them will make you safer than keeping Syrian refugees out of the country will.

Edited to Add, based on observation in comments: Sunscreen. Don't forget sunscreen.
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On the whole, the fitbit is nice, but there are some problems... [Nov. 21st, 2015|01:54 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Okay, so I have a fitbit, the one you wear on your wrist so it can keep track of your heart rate, and it IS successfully encouraging me to move more, which IS helping my health. My blood pressure and heart rate are way, way down, for instance. But there are some things I don't like.

First, and I expected this one -- it irritates my skin. I swap it from wrist to wrist several times a day, as well as putting it on two different spots up and down my wrist, so, by the end of the day, I just have four light welts that I can live with, rather than one REALLY painful one. And I knew that was going to happen, so that's fine.

Second, and even more annoying, it only syncs with my phone once per reboot, so I have to reboot my phone several times a day if I want the information to get up to the website. I have been looking around online for how to fix the problem, and the best I can find is, "reboot your phone," which doesn't help, since that's the problem I want to solve, not the solution. Oh, well. My firmware and phone app are both up to date, but perhaps there will be another update soon that will fix it.

The third thing, and this is one I want to let all of you know in case you are using a wrist-mounted pedometer...

Grocery shopping: you figure that you should be able to get a bunch of steps by walking around the store while shopping, right? And you should. But -- if you're pushing the carriage, your hands are on the handlebar, and therefore they're not going up and down. As far as your wrist-mounted pedometer knows, you're just gliding along, not walking. So you don't get any credit for it. Haven't figured out a solution to that -- you can push the cart one-handed and your pedometer-wrist swing free, but that's annoying.

And here's the fourth one...

So, my fitbit tracks my sleep, too. Lis does the same thing with an app on her phone. And I discovered that the best I've done in the past two weeks was last night, when, even though I got out of bed eight and a half hours after I went to bed, I'd only gotten seven and a half hours of sleep, because I'd woken up twice and been restless twenty times. And that usually, I am closer to six hours of useful sleep.

So I now know that I suck at sleeping.

Honestly, of all the things I do in my life, "sleeping" was the thing I had totally nailed.
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Peter Whimsey thoughts, STRONG POISON [Nov. 18th, 2015|11:18 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Yes, of course I love Harriet Vane, and want her to be found innocent. Whether she actually IS innocent or not makes no nevermind to me, but it seems to be important to Peter, so there you go.

But Miss Climpson is rapidly becoming not only my favorite character in the book, but possibly among my favorite characters ever. Whimsey has managed to surround himself with people as competent and clever as he is.

I definitely get the feeling that Sayers was having an absolute blast writing these characters.
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Why we should call it "Daesh" instead of "ISIS." [Nov. 15th, 2015|07:40 am]
Xiphias Gladius
There are a bunch of things you could call the terrorist organization that kills so many innocent people and claims it's in the name of a God of peace. Most of them are unprintable. But right now, I mostly see it being called "ISIS", which is an acronym for "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria." But there are people who are starting to call it "Daesh" -- something like "Dah[glottal stop/ayin-sort-of-sound]--eesh". Which is an acronym for al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-'Eraq- wa al-Sham.

So, what's better about "Daesh" than "ISIS"? Aren't they the same thing? Well... on the surface, yes. But really, not so much.

See, the thing is -- in English, we do acronyms and initialisms a lot. It seems like you're not even allowed to start a government program or something until you've come up with a cool acronym for it. But in Arabic, not so much. "al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi al-'Eraq- wa al-Sham" sounds all impressive. "Daesh" sounds much less so. Sounds like of stupid, actually.

Plus, it sounds a lot like "daes", which means something like "squisher." It's not actually a form of the same word or anything, but it sounds a lot alike.

In English, "ISIS" sounds like "Isis", a goddess of the underworld. Not a good religious connotation, sure, but still pretty darned awesome. In Arabic "Daesh" sounds like you're trying to make wine. Much less awesome.

So: the tl;dr of why to use "Daesh" instead of "ISIS" is that "ISIS" sounds cool, and "Daesh" sounds pathetic -- and that, when your entire existence depends upon getting impressionable teenagers and young men to believe that you are cool enough to die for, making you sound pathetic genuinely hurts you.
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Answer for question 4498. [Nov. 13th, 2015|06:13 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
If you could ask one question about the future and be assured of receiving a truthful answer, what question would you ask? What would you hope to hear as the answer?
Of course, the obvious answer is lottery numbers. But let's be a little more ambitious. What about asking a question about a useful technology that will probably be invented EVENTUALLY, but that would be really, really useful to have NOW?

I'd have to figure out how to word it, but perhaps something like, "The best, cleanest, cheapest, least-gonna-run-out, easiest-to-use energy source that the future will ever come up with and that I could manage to make work today -- how do I do it?" Something like that.

Do I want to know anything about my own life? No, not particularly. It will come as it comes, and if it's bad, I don't want to worry about it, and if it's good, let it be a pleasant surprise. Do I want something like lottery numbers that will make me wealthy, but not in any particularly useful way? Well, if it was offered to me, I'd take it, but it doesn't seem to be the BEST use of it.

A question about coming up with a really useful technology, though? I'd probably be able to make SOME money off of it -- depending on what it was, it might be something like a decent comfortable living, or it might be something like an amount of money that would give me more luxury and power than any emperor in history. I don't really care which. Either would be good, so long as the REST of the world was able to get better with it.
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Lord Peter Whimsy [Nov. 11th, 2015|10:11 am]
Xiphias Gladius
I've decided to finally go ahead and read the Lord Peter Whimsey books and stories, in order, and have just started THE UNPLEASANTNESS AT THE BELONA CLUB. I'm sure I spelled that wrong, but as I'm both reading the book and writing this post on my phone, it would be an annoyance to switch apps and look at it.

I'm only a chapter in, but it seems a good place to make some comments I've been thinking, in which I agree wholeheartedly with the thoughts of all my friends who love these stories.

The Shakespeare play LOVE'S LABORS LOST is a silly, frothy romp which is fun, but has no emotional core until the very last scene, in which war breaks out, and all of the silly, frivolous characters suddenly have to grow up and put aside their silliness. Shakespeare's comedies are supposed to end in weddings, but this one ends with everybody deciding to defer weddings until they all find out who they will be, how they will change, and if they are still compatable after they all go through the stress and trauma of war.

The last scene suddenly changes the entire play into something far greater than it was.

The Lord Peter stories have the same core which puts something solid under the froth.

THE UNPLEASANTNESS starts as Peter and his friends are getting ready for an Armistice Day memorial dinner, which is why I'm posting this today, on 11/11.

And you discover that they all suffer from PTSD. Some so badly that they are disabled enough that they can't hold down jobs. And that changes everything. Is Peter just a silly lord who bounces through life happily solving crimes just floating above the emotional impact of murders, like he seems to be?

No. He's a deeply broken man, with deeply broken friends, who keeps himself together by figjting evil, and by maintaining a mask. And that's just a better story.
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A CTL recruitment post. [Nov. 6th, 2015|01:32 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
As people, mainly teenagers but also people younger and older, from young enough to barely figure out typing on a phone to old enough to barely figure out typing on a phone, learn about CTL, our usage has gone up exponentially.

This is WONDERFUL. This is an amazing success story, and as you can imagine, we LOVE this fact.

But, as you can imagine, it requires more and more volunteer counselors. We are now attempting to increase our number of counselors exponentially, too, while maintaining quality.

The main way we're doing this? Having those of us who are already volunteering reach out to our friends. The idea is that each of us probably know a lot of people who are ALSO decent and caring human beings.

And I know that that is true of me. I know that MOST of you are decent and caring human beings. And even some of you who AREN'T are good enough at faking it that you IN PRACTICE are decent and caring human beings. Which, as it turns out, is the same thing.

So, I'm reaching out to you.
If you have:
1. A caring heart
2. A four-hour chunk of time a week
3. A laptop or desktop computer with reliable Internet connection
4. An age of eighteen years or older

I really encourage you to go to http://www.crisistextline.org/join-our-efforts/volunteer/ and sign up. We need you.

For most of you, item #2 is going to be the difficult one, I know. But if you can find it in your week, please think about it.

Now, something else I'm going to throw out there: a lot of you actually have experience in social work and counselling and leading teams yourself. And, as you can imagine, as we get more volunteer counselors, we're going to need more supervisors, too. They've got a couple people who's full-time job is looking for them, but I want to point those of you who are qualified to https://crisistextline.workable.com/jobs/85233

That's a full-time job, and most of you who are qualified for it already HAVE jobs. But maybe you are looking for a new gig, or you know someone who is. So I'd like to point you to that, too. We need YOU, too.
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A thing which exists, and isn't actually anywhere near as bad as it sounds. [Oct. 31st, 2015|10:15 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
The Pickleback. A thing which sounds like, and might be, a dare. A shot of whiskey chased by a shot of pickle brine.

It exists, and apparently, there are people who like it. And I am a curious person and willing to do horrible things to myself out of curiosity.

I have a bottle of good-but-not-so-good-that-this-would-be-sacrilegious whiskey, the Costco house-brand bourbon -- distilled and aged by Jim Beam, and better than their basic well Jim, but not as good as their real high-end stuff. A good everyday dram, good enough to serve to guests that you like, but not quite good enough that you'd give it as a birthday present.

And I had a jar of organic, naturally fermented pickles, with a live-culture pickle brine, not quite as salty or vinegary as most pickle brines, but with a tasty blend of whole spices, and a lot of deep complexity because of the fermentation.

I mean, it's not like I'd normally drink pickle brine, even this stuff. But given that I was curious, this seemed like a reasonable thing to try.

And -- it's not horrible. It's the sort of thing that I probably could become a real fan of, upon repeated exposure. It's not so amazing that I'm going to become an evangelist for the idea, but it's not actually disgusting. In terms of novel taste experiences I've had recently, I'd put it pretty close to the breadfruit pancakes I made, maybe slightly better. Again, that's with the organic fermented pickle brine -- I think that, with a more usual pickle brine, it would be slightly worse. But still not horrible.
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A trivia question for y'all [Oct. 31st, 2015|12:23 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
I just sent a question into one of my favorite radio game shows, "Says You", which is a game of two panels having to answer questions about words.

And I'm going to post it here, too, because I'm pretty darned sure that none of the panelists read my livejournal or facebook, so I'm not spoiling anything.

One of their standard question types is to be presented a list of things, which all have something in common, except one of them. The panel has to tell which one the odd one out is, and why.

I sent in the following list:
Lillian Virginia Mountweazel
Algoe, NY
Ralph Marterie's "The Song Of Love", which peaked at #84 on the Billboard charts on December 26, 1955

Four of those have something in common, which the fifth lacks.

I'll put the answer in comments, so that you can all guess if you like.
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And here's why I don't give one tiny hoot for computer analysis of works to determine authorship... [Oct. 29th, 2015|04:10 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
There's a fun little webtoy at http://iwl.me/ where you cut and paste in a block of something you wrote, and it analyzes it, and tells you who you write like.

I believe that Cory Doctorow used that once and discovered that he wrote like Neil Gaiman. Neil Gaiman took it, and I think he came out with Stephen King. But they didn't get King to try it.

Me, I just plugged in my last sixteen posts and got David Foster Wallace three times, H.P. Lovecraft twice, Cory Doctorow five times, Arthur C. Clarke, Dan Brown, James Joyce, William Gibson, Isaac Asimov, Jack London...

The person who had been talking about this earlier had mentioned that it said that her poetry is like Rudyard Kipling's. So I was curious.

I copy-pasted in "If-" by Rudyard Kipling, and found out that Kipling writes like Mark Twain. After c&p'ing in the first bit of "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calveras County", I discovered that Mark Twain, however, writes like William Gibson.

William Gibson may have written like William Gibson when he was writing NEUROMANCER, but, as of ZERO HISTORY, he writes like Cory Doctorow.

Looking at his review of the WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE novel, we discover that Cory Doctorow writes like Chuck Palahniuk.

And that's as far as I've gone.

But my point is -- if someone has used computer analysis of writing style to demonstrate that Shakespeare is the Earl of Oxford, or the Bible was written by Gilgamesh, or everything Paul McCartney wrote since 1963 was actually written by Stephen Fry, I'm really not particularly impressed.

(... but the McCartney/Fry one is probably true, anyway. I mean, Fry must have been a fairly precocious child, so he probably COULD write by the time he was six, right?)
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Earliest use of "As You Know, Bob"? [Oct. 23rd, 2015|03:44 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
As all of you who have attempted to write novels are aware, exposition is hard. There are no solutions that work in every situation, and you can see lots of discussion among writers about the topic. I've seen graphic novels and webcomics which print sections of children's history books, or manuals, or things like that; there is Jo Walton's term "incluing", for the double black diamond-level-of-difficulty trick of slipping background information subtly throughout the text so that readers sort of pick stuff up without noticing it, there is the "infodump", where you just don't bother being subtle and just set aside a block of text without worrying about fitting it in subtly... it's not elegant, but it works, and sometimes it's the best option. Victor Hugo did that a fair bit, and then would get distracted while doing it -- he had to explain how the sewers of Paris worked so that he could explain how some of the characters got away, and then got distracted and spent two chapters explaining his brilliant plan for using human waste as fertilizer...

So, yeah. You can do exposition by presenting a fictional thing like a history book or brochure or informational packet that just gives the audience the information in the same way that a person living in the world of the story might have learned it. You can do exposition just by flat out TELLING people, in your role as author -- Richard Adams does this in WATERSHIP DOWN, where he just breaks the narrative to give information from a book on rabbit behavior to explain why his characters were acting in the way they were, and Victor Hugo does it in LES MISERABLES in a number of places. And plenty of science fiction novels just have blocks of text in italics before a chapter just telling you stuff that you need to know to understand what's going on.

Or you can have one character, who understands the thing, explain things to a person who doesn't, so the audience can "listen in" and learn, too. There is a not-quite-a-joke that one of the main purposes of companions in the original Doctor Who is to have someone to say, "What IS it, Doctor?"

Infodumps and "What IS it, Doctor?" may seem clunky, and I guess they are, but they work. The first one breaks the narrative, and the second one can result in dragging around a character who seems like a total idiot, but they get the job done.

There is humorous four-wall-breaking lampshade hanging -- only available in comedy or EXTREMELY experimental stuff. There's a point in THE GREAT MUPPET CAPER where one of the characters is talking to Kermit and tells him the whole background about her wastrel brother and the family will and everything, and he looks at her and says, "Why are you TELLING me all this?" She replies, "It's exposition. It has to go SOMEWHERE."

And then there is the "As You Know, Bob" form. That's like the idiot character, but when you don't actually have any idiots around. This is when you have one character tell another character something that they already know, just because you need the audience to know it, too.

It can start with, "Okay, let's review," or "Let me summarize what we know so far," or something like that. It CAN be done at least KIND OF well, but it's usually pretty clunky.

But it works. And I'm trying to figure out the earliest usage of it.

The earliest one I can think of off the top of my head is from AS YOU LIKE IT:

Good Monsieur Charles, what's the new news at the new court?
There's no news at the court, sir, but the old news: that is, the old duke is banished by his younger brother the new duke; and three or four loving lords have put themselves into voluntary exile with him, whose lands and revenues enrich the new duke; therefore he gives them good leave to wander.

Oliver knows all that perfectly well. This is an "As You Know, Oliver".

TV Tropes has an example which they claim is a humorously lampshaded example from an Icelandic saga by Snori Surluson:
Svein: I will believe in the banner's magic power, only when you have fought three battles against your nephew King Magnus and won all three of them.
Harald: (angrily) I am well aware of my kinship with Magnus without needing you to remind me of it...

I don't know if this is as BLATANT an example as AS YOU LIKE IT. And it's a little more believable that someone would call someone "your nephew King Magnus" than "Oh, just all the stuff at court that you already know, which is..."

So if I discount that saga as being REALLY an As You Know, Bob, anyone know of an earlier one than 1599?
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Thing I learned today, United States geography edition. [Oct. 19th, 2015|07:11 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
The easternmost point of the United States is Point Udall in the US Virgin Islands.

The westernmost point of the United States is Point Udall in Guam.

Hat tip to Slate Star Codex for pointing this out.

This means that https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Point_Udall is my favorite Wikipedia disambiguation page of all time.
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I made one of the best "I feel too blah to cook" meals I've ever made last night. [Oct. 19th, 2015|11:25 am]
Xiphias Gladius
So, last night, I was feeling really down and generally out-of-it and I didn't want to cook. This was definitely a "time to order in a pizza" kind of night, except, with Lis and me watching what we eat, it wasn't an option, unless we plan ahead for it.

Anyway, I'd gotten one of those veggie slicer things that lets you cut zucchini or whatever into long pasta-like strings, so I did that. And then I cut up some tofu into little cubes, and put a tablespoon of toasted sesame seed oil, a bunch of soy sauce, and powdered ginger in it, and tossed it.

That was it. Then I put it in bowls and Lis and I ate it.

It was SO GOOD.
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So, why NOT deal with climate change? [Oct. 17th, 2015|11:57 am]
Xiphias Gladius
Edited to Add: if you're not a climate change denier, feel free to comment, but I'm really more interested in hearing from friends who DISAGREE with me on this issue. I already agree with the people I agree with, so I'm not likely to learn as much from you than from people with whom I disagree.

I've got a couple people reading this who are climate change deniers. And I'm confused by that.

See, the general scientific consensus is that there is a near 100% certainty that some details that people are coming up with are wrong, but that the overall idea that more energy is coming into and staying in the earth's meteorological systems and that is creating higher-energy events, and that the only thing which has changed on a timescale that fits the data is human activity -- there is about a 95% chance that that general concept is correct. Will this particular year be warmer or colder? Will the storm surge around that particular island be high enough to cause significant damage? There is a near-100% certainty that at least SOME of those predictions will be wrong, which is why those predictions have things like, "there is a 60% chance that there will be a storm surge that will cause this level of damage within three years", and things like that.

It is, of course, possible to point to those predictions which don't pan out, because everybody KNOWS that some percentage of them won't. Heck, you're going to look at some people's models, and they're going to suggest that different events will have an 80% probability, and only 60% of them will come true, because the model is faulty.

But that doesn't mean that the OVERALL picture is wrong. When people discovered that gravity is different on different parts of the Earth, that didn't disprove the laws of gravitation -- rather, it ended up showing that the crust of the Earth has different densities at different places. When people discover unexpected things in the history of evolution, nobody sane says that that disproves evolution.

But, here's the point: those of you who deny the accuracy of the overall climate model -- you have to believe that there is a percentage chance that it is correct. I believe that the overall model has a 95% probability of being correct, which is the definition of "certainty" in science. Scientists always leave a little margin for the possibility that absolutely everything they know is wrong in ways that nobody ever thought of, so 95% is about as high as things go.

So, what is the probability that the overall concept of climate change is right? That there is some degree of extra energy being held in the system, that the amount is large enough to have effects that affect us, and that the most likely cause of that is human action? Is there a 5% chance that is right? 25%? 50%?

And given that there IS some sort of chance that it is right -- what are the negative effects to taking the sorts of actions that would mitigate the problems caused? Is there a downside to having less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere? Is there a downside to figuring out better ways to harness solar energy?

What IS that downside, and how significant is it? And when you multiply it out, what do you get? "Cost of climate change * chance it's actually happening" <> "cost of mitigation"?
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Squash vs gourd [Oct. 12th, 2015|07:20 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Is there a dividing line between squashes and gourds, or is it a continuum? I'm thinking continuum, because I'm pretty sure that there are different breeds of pumpkin which are each.
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How I understand racism [Oct. 12th, 2015|03:45 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
I find it useful, in my own idiolect, to distinguish between "racism" and "bigotry." As is often the case, I am making distinctions which don't necessarily appear in the dictionary, but which are really useful to me in my life. And I put them up here in case someone else finds them useful, too.

The way I use the words, "bigotry" is based on hatred. "Racism" is primarily based on ignorance. Other things too, but most of the things which make up racism can be squished more or less into the category of "ignorance". Well, maybe "ignorance" along with "internalized false beliefs". Which I'm considering to be in the ignorance family.

Some of these form of ignorance are mind-boggling -- like medical personnel believing that black children feel less pain than white children, and therefore need less anesthesia. If you want to argue that that level of internalized false belief is just to blatant to really be called "ignorance", well, I definitely see your point, but, in my mind, it's in the same family.

If I actually hate black people, I'm a bigot. If my ignorance about black people leads me to make stupid judgements, I'm racist.

Since ignorance is far more common than hatred, "racism" is a bigger problem in general than "bigotry."

An example: in the movie THE MARTIAN, Mindy Park is played by a blonde white woman. In the book THE MARTIAN, Mindy Park is never given a physical description.

I didn't think there was even a thing to notice here.

Because I had ignorance. I was completely unaware that "Mindy Park" is a Korean name. Apparently, most of the people I know -- including Andy Weir -- knew that, and therefore were aware that casting a blonde white woman was whitewashing.

I didn't know that, and I think that probably a lot of people didn't know that, and it's plausible to believe that the scriptwriter and casting folks and so forth were all unaware that Mindy Park was Korean-American.

None of us our bigots.

But we ARE racist. Because that's based on ignorance.
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Words from fiction that I find useful: [Oct. 12th, 2015|09:55 am]
Xiphias Gladius
1. Grok -- Heinlein, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND. This is probably the most widespread fictional-to-real word I know of in English. Because it's useful to have a word to mean "understand something on such an instinctive level that it becomes part of you." I can understand electromagnetism, for instance; I can predict what will happen in various situations, I can figure out how to make different things happen, and I can generally use it, but I don't really grok it. I don't have to; "understanding" is good enough for most things, because that means you can use it; to grok something is to have the knowledge be instinctive.

2. Chortle -- Lewis Caroll, THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, in the poem "Jaberwocky". We have lots of different words for different types of laughter, and they all express different things. A giggle, a guffaw, a chuckle, a cackle, and a snicker are all completely different. As is a chortle.

Honestly, we don't have ENOUGH words for different kinds of laughter, or, if we do, I'm unaware of some of them. What's the word for "to laugh in relief", for instance? We've all done it, I think, but I can't think of a word for it. From its derivation, you'd think that "chortle" would be for THAT laugh, but it's not. Still, it's useful.

3. Hrair, Richard Adams, WATERSHIP DOWN. I am surprised that "hrair" HASN'T entered into the more common lexicon; I find it useful to have a word for "A number of things that I would have to count in order to know how many there are." If I see one, two, three, or four objects, I know there are one, two, three, or four of them. However, if I see five of them, unless they're placed as two, two, and one, or three and two, I will need to count them in order to know that there are five of them, and not six or even seven. I'm thinking of this right now because I just saw a posse of turkeys crossing the road, and I'm pretty sure there were ten plus or minus two of them. But I don't know for sure, because I didn't have time to count them. If I'd seen four turkeys, I'd know there were four of them. Six, and I wouldn't. Eight to twelve? The best I can do is "ten plus or minus two", and I don't promise that I'm 100% correct even about THAT.

I can distinguish 1, 2, 3, or 4 at a glance without counting. If you place them in 2, 3, or 4 groups of 2, 3, or 4, as compactly as possible, I can probably distinguish many of them without counting.

Once you get to five, though, you're into hrair territory, and I have to actually count them. I find that a useful word. I mean, there are definitely visual differences between 12 of something, 144 of something, and 1728 of something -- although I'm not sure I could tell the difference between 1728 of something and 20736 of something, without breaking it into pieces before guessing. But I'd never be able to tell the EXACT number without counting.

12 things presented as four piles of three things? Sure, I'd be able to tell that without counting. 12 things placed in a heap? Or even
12 things presented as a six piles of two things? Nope. 12 things presented as four piles of two piles of three things? Maybe.
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Thoughts about Weight Watchers, the gamification of health choices, and gaming a system [Oct. 11th, 2015|12:48 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Cut-tagged for those that don't wanna hear it. As always, I want to make it clear that I believe in health at any size, that modern American medicine puts far too much emphasis on weight and, indeed, doctors often miss REAL problems because they just tell people, especially women, to "just lose weight" and their problems will go away, even if their actual problems are cancer or systemic infections or stuff. So, the fact that I'm doing a weight-loss program right now should not be taken as a statement that other people should or should not. Just want to emphasize that.Read more...Collapse )
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Lexicon Valley: where does the word "Gringo" come from? [Oct. 10th, 2015|08:59 am]
Xiphias Gladius
Lis and I just started listening to "Lexicon Valley", a podcast by Bob Garfield, Mike Vuolo, and Ben Zimmer, about etymology and other stuff, and we just listened to the one about "Gringo".

If you're planning on listening to it, go ahead and do so, because I'm just going to go ahead and spoil it. Zimmer spins out the story, going into all the false etymologies for twenty-five minutes, in order to tweak Bob Garfield, before he breaks out the real one; it's pretty funny to listen to. But I'm just going to give away the ending, so listen to the podcast if you want the whole effect.

http://www.slate.com/articles/podcasts/lexicon_valley/2015/08/gringo_definition_etymology_lexicon_valley_on_the_origin_the_spanish_language.htmlRead more...Collapse )
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Ben Carson. High Int, low Wis. [Oct. 9th, 2015|03:40 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Dungeons and Dragons distinguishes between "Intelligence" and "Wisdom." It's a very useful distinction, because "high Int low Wis" is a good thing to notice.

Ben Carson is very, very smart. And also very, very foolish.

See, "dumb" is not the same thing as "foolish." And "intelligence" is not the same thing as "wisdom."

Look -- I'm not as smart as most of you. I know that. It's not because I'm dumb -- I'm not. But I'm rarely the smartest person in the room, because I try to hang out in smart rooms. However... there are plenty of people who are smarter than me who nonetheless come to me for advice. Because I've got a decent amount of wisdom.

And I think that's one of the things that causes confusion in our Presidential campaigns. Yes, a President needs a reasonable degree of intelligence. I'd say that I'd like my President to have above-average intelligence, in general. A decent ability to understand and assimilate facts, to understand how science works, to figure things out. Those are important.

But I think wisdom is even MORE important, and THAT is in short supply in this primary season.

Dr Carson is a perfect example of the difference between intelligence and wisdom.
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Wow, flavored yogurt is sweet. [Oct. 9th, 2015|11:59 am]
Xiphias Gladius
Okay, so, I tend to buy plain yogurt and put my own honey, jam, or whatever into it. But I bought a container of flavored yogurt.

I honestly don't remember them being as sweet as that. I had to cut it half-and-half with plain yogurt to make it not wince-worthy, and it was still on the high end of what I like for sweetness.

Have my tastebuds changed since I regularly bought flavored yogurt, say, five years ago or so, or have people started putting a LOT more sugar in?
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Answer for question 4523. [Oct. 8th, 2015|12:01 am]
Xiphias Gladius
What's been the best decision you've made in your life so far? What's been the worst? Do you generally consider yourself a good or bad decision maker?
Every time I go back over my life and look at my worst decisions, I realize that I either did not have the physical or psychological ability to make a different choice at the time, or, even though it was obviously a bad decision, it led down a path that led to a situation I wouldn't give up, or most often, both.

I SHOULD have gone to UMass Amherst, where I would have gotten a full scholarship, instead of Brandeis. But then I wouldn't have met my wife and most of my social group. I SHOULD have actually done my schoolwork at school, and not flunked out. But I was mentally ill and unaware of it at the time, and genuinely had no capacity to do so. And, it was the fact that Lis and I were both going through rough times, me flunking out, her dealing with the death of her grandfather, that had us start spending time together, and eventually dating, and eventually getting married.

I no longer feel that I have the capacity to truly figure out what is a good decision or bad decision. I've given up on trying to figure out "good" and "bad", and just try to make my decisions based on "honorable" and "ethical".

It's frankly easier to just decide to do the RIGHT thing, rather than the BEST thing.
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I am drinking ridiculous amounts of diet soda. [Oct. 5th, 2015|09:46 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
There is no artificial sweetener which I like the taste of. Therefore, I never used to drink diet sodas at all. I didn't drink a whole LOT of regular soda, because I am aware of how bad it is for me, but it DOES taste good.

However, I'm now attempting to reduce my caloric intake, and that means that I'm hungry, a lot. And diet sodas have no calories, but DO have sweetness, and carbonation which fills up my stomach, so they trick my brain into thinking that I consumed something.

So I've been working on trying to find diet sodas which are the least nasty. So far, I've discovered a couple things.

First, some root beers have complex enough flavor profiles that the nastiness of the artificial sweeteners can be hidden among the rest of the flavors. Second, sodas, like Moxie, which are supposed to have a significant bitter component, can mask it, too. Third, sodas which ALREADY taste chemical and artificial, and are SUPPOSED to, work out okay.

So: the ones I've found that I can tolerate, so far: diet Polar root beer, diet IBC root beer, diet Moxie, diet Dr Pepper, diet Sunkist Orange Soda.

Note that none of these are as good as the real versions, except the Sunkist Orange and that's only because the real version is ALSO terrible. But I'm drinking huge amounts of all of these. Like, I've gone through two liters of Sunkist today. Which is completely unhealthy, for a whole NUMBER of reasons, such as that most of the things in it are probably mildly toxic, including the 230 mg of caffeine. (Sunkist is unique among orange sodas in that it adds caffeine.) But that's just the point: all those mildly toxic, bitter compounds mask the taste of the sweeteners. Which are probably also mildly toxic.

Some day, I will work on cutting that out of my diet and replacing horrible fake things like this with real food. But, for right now, I'm going to work with this plan.
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A science and physiology note, just because. [Oct. 5th, 2015|07:51 am]
Xiphias Gladius
I'm sure a lot of you know this, but according to an article I just glanced at on the Internet so you know it's true, slightly more than half of people are actually not quite correct about where their heart is.

So, just for the record: your heart is in the middle of your chest, basically, not over on the upper left quadrant. It's not symmetrical, so a bit more of it IS to the left than to the right of the centerline, and the parts to the left are a little closer to the front than the parts on the right, which is why you might THINK it's on the left, but it's mostly in the middle. People tend to imagine it a lot farther over to the left than it really is.
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Oops. Kinda traumatized cats, I think... [Sep. 30th, 2015|01:35 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Stephanie Clarkson's cat, small, is staying with us while she's in the hospital. small loves humans and gets very depressed if she's not with them, but does NOT get along with other cats. So we keep small downstairs and our guys upstairs, with a baby gate in between.

We left the house at 9 this morning, and I just got back home at 1:30. And there was small -- on the wrong side of the gate. Somehow, she'd gotten past us when we left, and left her upstairs with our guys.

I see tufts of fur here and there around the house, but, in general, our guys seem nervous but not TOTALLY messed up. But they seem happy that small is back downstairs now...
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Diagnostic criterion for lowered energy, motivation, and/or mood. [Sep. 29th, 2015|12:57 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
This doesn't give causes -- it could be thyroid, chronic pain, bipolar, or whatever. But, if you can listen to "Shake Your Groove Thing" without shaking your groove thing, you should take a look at both biological and situational causes.
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Chewing gum thought. [Sep. 26th, 2015|11:39 am]
Xiphias Gladius
It took me most of my life to realize that Juicy Fruit gum is clove-flavored.
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Breadfruit. What do I do with it? [Sep. 25th, 2015|10:08 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
In Waltham today, while waiting around, I went into the Indian grocery, and they had breadfruit. So I bought one.

Now, according the DA INTERNETZ, breadfruit are cooked and eaten in different ways at different stages in their development, so the one plant is remarkably versatile. And the one I got is at its "super-ripe, eat before it rots" stage.

They have some similarity to bananas, in which, at their greenest stage, you use them like a tuber, as in plantain fries, and then, as they mature, they get sweeter and more useful for dessert, and then, if you wait too long, they're no good for anybody but fruit flies.

And I appear to have bought one at the "dessert" stage.

So I cut it in half, and stared at it.

So, you know how bananas get mushy, but still kind of sticky? And you know how bread dough is mushy, but still kind of sticky? The fruit of it mushed through my hands and felt EXACTLY like a soft bread dough. And smelled somewhat like a banana, but also somewhat vegetal.

Everything about it was simultaneously screaming to me, "I AM FOOD", and also "I'M NOT REALLY FOOD".

So, I mushed up a ball of it, squished it flat, and fried it. It looks kind of like a pancake, smells a little like a banana pancake.

I don't know if I like it. I think I do. Then I think I don't.

I mean, if I were on a tropical island, and I had to catch fish and eat breadfruit, I wouldn't be miserable. I don't really LIKE fish that much, but if it's a choice between "skip a meal" and "eat fish", I'd eat fish. Not even getting to if the choice was "eat fish" or "be really hungry."

I think breadfruit, at least this particular breadfruit, squished up and fried, is in the same category. There are many other things I'd like to eat more than I'd like to eat this, but I'd rather eat this than skip a meal.
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Best fictional butlers/valets [Sep. 24th, 2015|11:31 am]
Xiphias Gladius
Over on Facebook, one of my friends posted a link to the first scene of the first Jeeves and Wooster that Fry and Laurie did. And it got me thinking: obviously, Jeeves is the best valet ever, but there are other valets who are ALSO the best valet ever, because their employers have different needs which they fill as admirably as Jeeves does for Bertie. So I decided to try to make a list of some of them:
  • Alfred, for Bruce Wayne
  • Kato, for Britt Reed
  • Magersfontein Lugg for Albert Campion (who could be argued to be a TERRIBLE butler, but he's exactly the butler Albert Campion needs)
  • Jarvis, for Tony Stark, although you could argue that he does the same job as Alfred, and Alfred does it better, so he might not actually make the list.
  • Bernardo, for Don Diego de la Vega

Who am I forgetting?
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How I'm dealing with Yom Kippur [Sep. 23rd, 2015|09:46 am]
Xiphias Gladius
As I've mentioned before, I've been falling away from the Jewish community, and don't know what to do about it.

So, for today, I'm not going to shul, and I'm not staying off the computer, obviously. But the Crisis Text Line has been getting more and more well known, which is good -- apparently the Y posted about it on Facebook, and their post has been shared over two thousand times. And the new class of counselors should be coming onboard in a couple weeks -- but, until then, they've been asking people to volunteer as much as we can without messing up our lives or minds, to keep up.

So, that's what I'll do today.
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You always notice the things that they get wrong... [Sep. 18th, 2015|09:54 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Lis and I are watching THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. Napoleon Solo is in a central American jungle, with, of course, a beautiful blonde who's there for no reason which has yet been adequately explained -- and we hear a jaguar scream.

And then we see the cats. The cheetahs.

And Lis and I look at each other. "Well, obviously the cheetahs sound like jaguars. They're immigrants, and had to learn the local language." "Maybe they're exchange students?"

It later IS established that the bad guy BROUGHT them, but still... jaguar noises. Which, honestly, I get. Cheetahs make the least threatening noises of any cats. Yes, including housecats. Housecats make scarier noises than cheetahs. Cheetahs make adorable cheeps and chirrups. Housecats can at least hiss and yowl.

Then Lis starts singing Christina Aguilera, "Ohhh, I've got the moves like jaguar..."
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Why I don't dismiss Donald Trump out of hand. [Sep. 18th, 2015|06:46 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
A demagogue with silly hair getting crowds riled up with promises of restoring the lost glory of the country and also, mainly, racism, being completely dismissed by most people as unelectable, because he is so obviously crazy that nobody would vote for him, so there's nothing to worry about.

... I dunno. That sounds familiar somehow...
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Oh. NOW I get why dieting is hard. [Sep. 15th, 2015|02:19 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
So, honestly, the past few weeks that I've been on Weight Watchers haven't been bad. Sure, I was hungry on days 4 through 7, but not really since, and even then, I wasn't having food CRAVINGS.

And now my depressive phase has started.

And I'm sitting here SHAKING I want chocolate so much. Like, a LOT of chocolate. I already had a reasonable amount of chocolate. Because, y'know, this plan allows you a reasonable amount of chocolate. But now that I've switched into the depressive phase of my bipolar, I want to eat a truly unhealthy amount of chocolate, refined sugar, and fats.

So far, I've been able to trick my body by drinking diet sodas, which I still find disgusting, but are somehow managing to keep the craving under control. Diet Moxie is the least bad diet soda, because it's SUPPOSED to be bitter, even if it's not supposed to be soapy, bleach-y, and chemical-y. Still, as long as I can convince myself that it's just Moxie in a poorly-rinsed glass, I can drink it, and it manages to keep the worst of it at bay.

I'm finding the whole process intellectually fascinating, along with finding it unpleasant.
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An open letter to people, especially teenagers, who are considering ending their lives: [Sep. 14th, 2015|10:24 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Look, I really don't want you to. But you should know -- there are different kinds of deaths. And if you WERE planning on ending your life, some ways are a lot worse than others.

Please, don't kill yourself. But, if you DO, please don't try to overdose on Tylenol. Yes, it will kill you. Very slowly, and very painfully, over three to four days. It will kill your liver, and you will die as your entire body is destroyed system by system by your own body's toxins. Don't do that. It is a very, very bad way to go.

And also, don't drink bleach. The main thing you will do is burn your entire throat and stomach, and you probably won't die, but you will be in pain for the rest of your life. If you DO drink enough to kill yourself, it will be just as bad as the Tylenol thing -- the bleach will be eating holes in your throat, stomach, and probably lungs.

Just... don't.

I understand that these sorts of things are tempting because they're easily accessible. And, yes, they CAN kill you. But, see, the reason people don't bother to keep them locked away, mostly, is because they're so intensely painful that they figure that that should keep people from using them to kill themselves.

And they're right.
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This is why Boston police are the best in the country. [Sep. 14th, 2015|06:14 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Man attempts to commit suicide by cop; police decline and take him into custody without harming him.
After he was handcuffed, Jean made several comments indicating he had been attempting to commit suicide by cop including, “Why didn’t you just let me tap out? If this was any other place in the country, I’d be dead.” It was later revealed that Jean had been arrested about two weeks prior during an incident at Boston Medical Center when he attempted to take a BPD Officer’s firearm during an unprovoked attack
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Do not follow this link if you are with children. Otherwise, definitely do. [Sep. 14th, 2015|06:11 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
This 1310 document is not only the earliest usage of the f-word in a legal context currently known, it's also one of the best f-word-based insults I've ever heard.
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On the stigma of addiction [Sep. 12th, 2015|02:45 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
There's a closed Facebook group for counselors on the crisis text line I volunteer for, and every week, we get a discussion question or two to share and talk about if we want. How do we maintain our own sanity while doing this? How do we maintain our non-judgementality when texting with people with whom we disagree?

And this week, one of the questions is, "What can we do to help people deal with the stigma of addiction?"Read more...Collapse )
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Are we sure that "Never Forget" is healthy? [Sep. 12th, 2015|11:14 am]
Xiphias Gladius
Okay, "Never Again" is a reasonable idea -- let's all learn from history and make sure that people don't make racist assumptions about entire groups of people and oppress them. Of course, we don't actually DO that.

But "Never Forget"? Okay, if that means "have appropriate memorials to respect and honor the dead," sure, that's fine. But it appears to mean "constantly relive the horror of it" -- which seems to be cultural PTSD.

I'm really ready to forget. Remember that it happened, take lessons from it. But it's been fourteen years. Kids who weren't born yet are now in high school. It's time to forget.
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A QA Engineer walks into a bar [Sep. 11th, 2015|02:44 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
So, a quality assurance test engineer walks into a bar, and orders a beer. Then she orders zero beers. Then she orders negative four beers. Then she orders 3.68 beers. Then she orders a sandwich. Then she orders an ocean liner...
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Topic For Discussion: is MR ROBOT the most cyberpunk thing that has ever been on television? [Sep. 9th, 2015|01:48 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
MR ROBOT is about a not-completely-sane hacker who is part of a team trying to take down a megacorp. And amoral corporate suits who are backstabbing each other and society as a whole for their own benefit.

There's no science-fictional component to it, but so what? I think MR ROBOT points out that we are fundamentally already living in a cyberpunk world, and therefore realistic modern-day fiction can be cyberpunk.
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On Bernie Sanders's electability: [Sep. 8th, 2015|01:13 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Yes, Bernie Sanders is one of the more extreme liberals in the United States. And if he's too liberal for you, that's fine.

But if you're thinking that you'd rather see Clinton be the nominee because you believe her to be more electable than Sanders, ask yourself this: is there ANYBODY in the United States that wouldn't vote for Sanders who would vote for Clinton?

The Republican Party's anti-Clinton rhetoric is already extreme enough that they don't have anything left over to point to Sanders. Is Sanders a socialist? Yes, of course he is -- he identifies as one.

Except, as far as conservative voters go, they think Clinton's a socialist, too. So what difference does it make?

In order for Clinton to be more electable than Sanders, there has to be a significant number of people whose choices would go,
1. Clinton
2. At least one of the people currently in the Republican Party scrum
3. Sanders
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Are Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin the good guys? [Sep. 6th, 2015|09:50 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Lis and I have been watching THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E, the teevee show, not the movie. Because I'd never seen it before, although Lis has been a fan since her childhood. She watched in in syndication.

And I'm really enjoying it. But still... if you've got an organization which has agents who can steal, destroy, detain, and kill without repercussions anywhere in the world, with no oversight, are those really the good guys?
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So, here's what I DO like about Weight Watchers. [Sep. 1st, 2015|07:48 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
And an apology to folks on Facebook: on LJ, these are cut, because a lot of people just don't wanna hear about it, but the LJ cut doesn't propagate over to FB. If y'all had LiveJournals, you could ignore me better!Read more...Collapse )
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Fourth day on Weight Watchers... [Sep. 1st, 2015|03:38 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Read more...Collapse )
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Trying to change diet to be healthier [Aug. 29th, 2015|10:27 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
Cut for discussion of dieting and stuff, for people who just don't wanna hear it. Because some people don't.Read more...Collapse )
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It's the unknown unknows that get you. Home appliance edition. [Aug. 27th, 2015|01:53 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
The wisest thing that Donald Rumsfield ever said (the only wise thing he ever said?) was:
Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.

So, after twenty-two years, the refrigerator that Lis had before she and I started dating finally failed. It didn't even completely fail: it failed slowly enough to make sure that we knew it was failing, and continued to keep our food cold ENOUGH until we could get a new one. I'm proud of that fridge: ten years is a good run for a fridge, and fifteen is very good.

Our new fridge is a French-door bottom freezer, and I just finished putting all our food in it, and it is very nice, and I really like it.

And then I went to put all the things that we have on the outside of the fridge back on it.

It's not magnetic.

This is something that didn't even occur to me to think about. Refrigerator doors are ferromagnetic. That's just a thing about them. You stick things on refrigerators with magnets. It's just what you do.

It never even occurred to me to ponder otherwise.

It's the unknown unknowns that get you. I didn't know that I didn't know that magnets don't stick to the fridge door.
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For use in your roleplaying games and/or stories: humans find patterns, part one million of infinity [Aug. 15th, 2015|03:54 pm]
Xiphias Gladius

Did you know that the Oreo cookie is evidence that Nabisco is part of the Templar conspiracy, because the patterns on it are Templar symbols?

The website is, at worst, a very gentle form of crazy, written by and for people who appear to be using their crazy largely to attempt to make themselves into better people. Which is the very best form of crazy, and I wish them all the best of luck. If finding patterns in an Oreo helps a person to become a better version of themselves, then I am completely in favor of it.
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Answer for question 4486. [Aug. 15th, 2015|02:06 am]
Xiphias Gladius
What is your most essential household appliance? How difficult would it be for you to live without it? What's one gadget or appliance you'd love to have but don't?
I think I'm going to have to go with "everything that's attached to the indoor plumbing," if that counts as an appliance. I don't want to live without a toilet, shower, or sink. The washing machine and dishwasher are also useful, but less so than the others.

Also, the heating system. New England can get down to below 0 degrees F, say -20 degrees C, which really needs indoor heating.

What else? This computer right here that I'm typing on is useful.
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