Mar 08

Panics and their duration

The by many measures best mathematician in the world married one of his students.

Grace Tao gave her son and his wife, Laura, the book after they were married. “Because I’m a terrible cook,” says Laura, who was a student in one of Tao’s classes at UCLA in 2000 and went on to work at the solar system research and development group JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) after graduating as an electrical engineer.

He is therefore irretrievably and incontrovertibly evil.

Historically speaking, sexual panics and paranoias last 30-50 years. We’re about 20 years into this one — it started in about 1994 or so — so at best we have another 10 years and at worst another 30.

I hope it is not the latter.

Mar 08

Wood you

Sometimes, the Repubs are right and regulation does go too far.

Citing health concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency now is pressing ahead with regulations to significantly limit the pollution from newly manufactured residential wood heaters. But some of the states with the most wood smoke are refusing to go along, claiming that the EPA’s new rules could leave low-income residents in the cold.

When I was a kid, we burned wood because it was basically free to us other than the small cost of gas to haul it. At the time we could not have afforded anything else.

Though North Florida does not get all that cold, there are 30-40 nights in the 30s and there are 10-12 usually that get into the 20s — plenty chilly when you are in a non-insulated house.

This requirement if enforced would’ve made my family’s life much worse. I am sure there are families out there today where the same is true.

Mar 07

Wiredo

Where does Wired find these nincompoops?

It must be a difficult task to write an entire article about net neutrality where nearly every “fact” or assertion is outright wrong or a gross exaggeration. I won’t refute them all point by point because I really have much better things to do with my life. Suffice it to say nearly nothing in this article resembles reality in any way, not even “and” and “the.”

This guy by the way is a shill for the telco monopoly. I looked up this motherfucker and it ain’t pretty. He wrote a paper supporting the Comcast/TWC merger. He is almost certainly in their employ though I can’t find and direct evidence of that (though that is not the way they get paid; usually it’d be 3rd-party consulting to claim they are “neutral”).

Wired has always been on the wrong side of this and similar issues. Their advertising depends on it — so I am sure that is the reason.

But if I worked for Wired I’d be incredibly embarrassed professionally to be associated with such outright and blatant shilling.

Mar 07

So behind they think they are ahead

This made me laugh, especially the headline “A Masterpiece Without a Genre.”

“Kazuo Ishiguro’s first novel in 10 years is a sad, remarkable fantasy set after King Arthur’s death.”

And it features scenes like:

Here, in no special order of importance or chronology, are some things that happen in Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel: An old man uses a hoe to fight off thousands of pixies who have attacked his wife as she floats down a river in a basket; an enchanted mist envelops a country, causing an entire people to forget its past; an ogre is found in a ditch, gravely indisposed, having killed and partially eaten a poisoned goat; an ancient widow prosecutes a grievance with a mysterious boatman by methodically slitting the throats of rabbits and spilling their blood on the floor of his childhood home; a past-his-Green-Knight-beheading-prime Sir Gawain faces off against a hell-dog in an underground chamber.

Of course no matter the quality if someone who’d started out writing fan-fic or in the pulp paperback ghetto had written the exact same thing it would have been relegated to the fantasy bin and never spoken of in polite company again.

I always laugh when incidents like this occur; some “important” author writes fantasy or sf — usually poorly and behind the leading wave of the genre by 25 years — and is praised for it, meanwhile actual genre authors are writing better, more nuanced work that is never considered other than to laugh at.

I don’t much care for the literary establishment. Luckily, it is much-diminished in importance (and they hate that).

Novels only don’t have a genre (as this Slate tripe claims) when the literary mandarins want to re-heat something that has been old hat for a few decades and present it as something unstained by those genre ties.

Pretty disgusting if you ask me.

Mar 07

Politricks

Here’s a more balanced review of American Sniper, rather than all the liberals soiling themselves over how it glorified violence or whatever else.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I will, as most of the reviews sounded very probably wrong to me because I’d never seen Eastwood helm a movie pointed the direction that one was accused of heading ideologically.

So American Sniper a war movie.

It is not a pro-war movie.

It’s not a particularly political movie.

The little politics Eastwood lets slip in are isolationist.

The only connection made between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq is chronological. The attacks happen and nineteen months later the war happens and Chris Kyle finds himself in Iraq. In between, he gets married. Eastwood makes no use of it for emotional effect, never mind using it to make a political point. It’s exposition. We don’t even see it happen. We see Kyle see it happen on TV.

That’s about what I expected. Eastwood is about as likely to make a pro-war movie as I am to vote for Rand fucking Paul. And of course one can’t really make a movie about Iraq and ignore the politics of it all — but still, I care about stories, and telling the story of a man doing a dangerous and dirty job in a bad situation is more interesting than explicitly political movies. Even if the job itself is very probably on balance evil, but situational evil.

I considered becoming a sniper in the military, and changing my job to that when I was offered the opportunity. I’m a very good shot and have the mentality for it. But in the end I am glad I did not, and declined because I did not trust (rightly) the military to want to kill the right people insomuch as anyone deserves death.

Note: I did not and do not support the Iraq war, do not think we should invade any country pretty much ever and am fully opposed to America’s past and future imperial ambitions. I am a liberal, and a far left-wing one at that.

If only the great body of people reacting to American Sniper had done so against the Iraq War — well, it probably would’ve still happened but this still seems a bit hypocritical. But criticizing in bad faith American Sniper is an easy reputation boost whereas inveighing against the Iraq war in the propaganda run-up was a huge risk.

So that’s why we see what we see today.

Mar 06

Needs more powah

Is this true?

For example, support for more than one email address is considered a power user feature that Google is dropping.

If that is a power user feature, I must be a robot fusion-powered space mutant turbo ninja user, because I have at least eight email addresses that I use somewhat regularly (including work addresses) and probably a dozen more that I am aware of but are in states of abandonment.

Mar 05

Aquatic ape

This is why I always denigrate the Fat Acceptance movement.

baMUfys

That is some deeply whacky bullshit. And almost certainly not a troll.

The Aquatic Ape theory is my favorite absolutely wrong theory. However, even if true, we would’ve evolved our aqua-simian (kind of like Aqua Man, but apier) features where temperatures are warm so our blubber requirements would be minimal.

And gah, the stupid, the stupid, it burns.

Mar 03

Laura Cox

How is it that a woman with a French accent* is the only one who’s yet made a credible cover of “Sweet Home Alabama?”

That’s a very hard guitar solo in that song. Hell, even the rhythm guitar in that song is not easy. She’s a great rock guitarist. Really just great. Watch this.

Listen to those notes bend. If you haven’t figured it out, she’s playing all the guitar parts and mixing them in post-production. Including bass.

Bonus because it’s fun watching such an overtly masculine song played and sung by a woman.

Ah, hell, why not one more. Known very hard solo.

*I have no idea where she’s from, but French is definitely her first language.

Mar 03

The Walking Dead – not the zombies

Could one show improve as much as The Walking Dead did ever again?

It went from meh to bad, to holy fucking god that is world-class drama and acting.

How? Is this? Possible?

The transition really started in season two, but seasons four and five are right up there at the pinnacle with any TV show ever made. Better even than Lost at is prime, for the most part.

When the protagonists become the villains and you understand why, agree and realize that you’d probably do the same in their situation — that’s really fucking fine work as that’s so very hard to do dramatically.

OMG I love Carol so much. What a great, great character she’s turned out to be. Simply masterful writing and portrayal by Melissa McBride.

It’s great to watch someone become who they should’ve been, even in such dreadful circumstances.