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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 40 most recent ones recorded in Al Petterson's LiveJournal:

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Monday, February 14th, 2011
11:31 pm
Fascinating thing to follow up my post from earlier today.


"Indeed, it has become the conventional wisdom to assert that the Republican field is a fairly weak one... is there any evidence for this?"

It's Nate Silver. Of course there's evidence. And he finds it, and lays it out in his usual meticulous detail.

Edited to add:

Also bookmarking:

2:30 pm
My latest round of prognosticationality
I am completely talking out of my ass here, so this is not even worth what you pay for it.

Preface: Obama's minimum favorable rating over the first two years of his presidency is the second highest minimum since WWII and the advent of modern polling - the president is absurdly popular, given the state of the economy and general shitty attitude of the country. No one is going to beat him for reelection in 2012.

But here's how I see the Republican nomination for 2012 working out. (And I was right about 2008, in that I predicted it would be McCain only because no one else was running who was even remotely acceptable to the Right Hand *.)

I think the Republican nominee is going to be Thune. Read more...Collapse )
Friday, February 11th, 2011
11:43 pm
Mnemosyne Eructated
I have, multiple times in my life, been handed a Book and assured that said Book would Change My Life.

Sometimes the Book being offered is by sweet, well-meaning witnesses who come to my door, rain or shine. I thank them, sincerely, for their concern, express my sympathies or happiness (as appropriate) about the weather, and wish them a nice day.

But more often, the Book being offered is by a coworker, who has learned some unsettling things about my philosophy, and wants me to learn about whom he considers to be heroes.

I've read the first of those Books, cover to cover, in three different translations. As a much better wordsmith than I said, "it is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies."

The other Book I have declined to read, after encountering a number of negative reviews -- and after noting that the people who offered it to me were uniformly unpleasant people. Sometimes they were friends - I can have high tolerance for unpleasant behavior - but they were still not people I cared to emulate, and if it was true this Book had changed their lives, it was a change I wished to avoid.

And now this Book is to become a movie. Actually, it's far more than just a movie, as you'll see if you have the intestinal fortitude to watch the trailer to the end.

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
8:08 pm
We finally saw the Lost finale
Behind a cut, in case you're even more behind than we were, or in case you haven't seen the series and one day might. Read more...Collapse )
Thursday, January 27th, 2011
9:06 am
I've been looking at the Republican slate and thinking they'd be, by far, smartest to nominate Huckabee. Unfortunately a lot of them seem to be agreeing at the moment. I don't see them going for non-white-christian-males, which leaves Gingrich, Huckabee, Pawlenty, and dark horses, and of the three, when Pawlenty speaks you fall asleep and when Gingrich speaks you want to throw things at him.
Thursday, December 23rd, 2010
12:36 pm
A dream.
After a visit to an impossible house that Mike and Susan were remodeling, we left on a mission to kill Saddam Hussein, who was about to become Speaker of the House. Cleverly disguised as his soldiers, driving little plastic canvas coupes decorated with "I Hate Saddam" in yarn, Ken and Cera approached his military base. I wondered idly whether Saddam would be deceived into thinking this message was ironic, or whether he'd simply order them bombed. I wasn't terribly concerned; the campaign wasn't long established and they could just make new characters.

But he was in fact deceived, and welcomed them (he was Saddam as drawn by Parker and Stone). Clad in swimsuits, we had a plan: we were players on his world-class double-decker water polo team. Our spies would be sitting on the shoulders of Saddam and his lieutenants, playing water polo, then walk them into the deep end of the pool and drown them by not letting them back. I was the manager of the top-half team, and was responsible for gamemastering.

All was going according to plan, except that it was revealed that Saddam's middle name had an extra syllable - which meant that Ken was too tall to drown him; he needed someone shorter... so I would have to step in.

At the critical moment, however, we were having too much fun to commit the assassination, and I was worried it wouldn't work anyway.

It turned out to be a good move. The dream ended in a strong anti-war statement.
Sunday, December 12th, 2010
12:33 pm
When someone is a little bit wrong — say, when a waiter puts nonfat milk in your espresso macchiato, instead of lowfat milk — it is often quite easy to explain to them how and why they are wrong. But if someone is surpassingly wrong — say, when a waiter bites your nose instead of taking your order – you can often be so surprised that you are unable to say anything at all. Paralyzed by how wrong the waiter is, your mouth would hang slightly open and your eyes would blink over and over, but you would be unable to say a word. - Lemony Snicket

I should probably pay a little bit of attention to that series, because that's got real insight. And I think "nosebiting" should become the term for this sort of fractal wrongness.
Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
4:21 pm
Sherilyn: "Okay. But dads don't really volunteer for a lot of different stuff. Except for Treasurer or Secretary or painting or grilling or science docent or room parent or chaperoning or student server coordinating or bringing food or co-coordinating spaghetti dinner or running the sound system for concerts or training the sound system students or assembling the acoustic panels for concerts or dressing up as famous explorers and giving presentations in class or um."
Sunday, November 7th, 2010
12:16 pm
D&D last night
I ran it a week late, unfortunately, but it was the meaty middle part of Pathfinder #2: The Skinsaw Murders.

Mad props to the Pathfinder guys for their good writing. I had my cynical, ironic players actually creeped out by a haunted house -- cut for spoilers for this five-year-old module... Read more...Collapse )
Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010
9:14 am
As always, when elections don't go the way I wanted, I will hope I'm wrong about the consequences - but it's been a long time since I was wrong.

(I was only mostly right about Reagan -- he did explode the debt, dismantle a lot of environmental and worker protection, produce an enormous wealth disparity that is still cascading worse and worse today, and encourage a culture of irresponsibility toward government and politics that has been a cancer on the country my entire life, and I predicted all of that -- but he didn't draft me and get me killed, and I was very happy to be wrong there.)

But since then - I knew Clinton's leadership would produce an economic boom, and it did. I knew Bush would get us into a war, return us to record deficits, worsen our environmental and legal protections, and preside over two recessions (assuming he got eight years), and all of that happened. (The Onion predicted it too -- it wasn't hard to predict if you were smart.)

And yes, I specifically predicted two recessions under GWB. When the president and Congress are both Republican, there's an average of a recession every three years. I went and crunched the numbers, and called it, and I was right. I expected the second one to be worse than the first, and that also turned out to be the case.

So here we go. Read more...Collapse )
Sunday, October 31st, 2010
8:36 pm
Trick-or-treating. I'm out with all three kids. As we circle the neighborhood we run into a bunch of parents and kids whom I know vaguely-to-well. We catch up to a gaggle that includes, among others, a girl Kate knows, a younger sister who's the same age as Josh (nine), and a still-younger male cousin. I stand at the foot of the driveway with the three accompanying moms. They note my kids. The mother of the two sisters: "That's Kate! And that's (sing-song) Josh P." Other mom (probably her sister?): "The famous Josh P?" The first mom nods. I am momentarily confused.

Then, as the kids are all leaving the door in a group, the seven-year-old boy blurts out, "Josh, Jessica still has a crush on you." We all choke. Robert, ever the soul of diplomacy, asks loudly, "What? Who's that? Who's Jessica?" Kate silently points right next to them, to the mortified fourth-grader who is bursting into tears.
Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
8:56 pm
Root Beer Update
Having learned the notes, I'm working on actually hitting them cleanly. I fear the finger muscles simply can't get in good enough shape to play Root Beer Rag at the proper "impresario" tempo without enough sloppiness to ruin it for the listener. But I can play it close to flawlessly at a little over 100 bpm, and it sounds fairly decent (and more importantly it starts to get fun) at around 120. But launching into it at 144 or 152 and just pounding away, not really caring if the notes are right because no one's listening and they're right in my head, dammit - that's a blast. Arms are tired after a couple times through, which means the muscles are in a good deal better shape than they were when I started, when they'd hurt after a single time through the piece.

Not tired of it yet. :)
Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
4:37 pm
So barking iguana had a set of some of the most memorable Root Beer Rag performances.

I'm not ready to add my own performance yet, but I found a few more bizarre ones. Read more...Collapse )
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010
5:38 pm
1:10 pm
The Cassini Division
I just finished The Cassini Division a few weeks ago. I have a review, which I'll hide behind a cut.

Three nonspoiler comments:

a) Worth reading, if you like speculation of future society. I'm interested in hearing whether other readers felt it preachy.

b) I didn't have any clue when reading it that it was a sequel to other work -- I thought it was just ambitious background.

c) I'm glad I couldn't immediately tell, from reading the book, whether the author's actual sympathies are libertarian, socialist, transhumanist, or none of the above -- in that if he was swinging a sledgehammer (it appears, from reading other reviews, that he may have meant to), he seems to have missed -- me, anyway.

(Spoilers, giving away the ending and the plot, you have been warned. Read more...Collapse )
Wednesday, September 15th, 2010
8:16 pm
I get these urges to write...
... and then they eventually pass, partly because the places and things I want to write about are not wholly original; the settings tend to be stolen from various frpgs, and the stories often rely enough on the stolen setting that it can't be easily separated.

Which means only fans of that setting would be interested, which makes it a dubious proposition to consider writing to be worth it. (There is, for example, a Gloranthan novel knocking around in my head, but one that borrows heavily not only from Glorantha's world background but from published adventures set there. I'm not ever going to be a published author, obviously, but it's among the stories I'd like to tell, if I ever could. And there's an Ars Magica novel I once thought through to the point of wanting to put some of it on virtual paper.)

I think some of these are just frustrated urges to gamemaster more games, and if I ran more games perhaps I wouldn't feel this urge to write. But another problem is the lack of an audience; if I don't know whom I'm writing for, I can't write anything. (This is my biggest problem with writing documentation - but normally once I figure out who this mythical reader is, I can write docs a lot more smoothly.) So the fact that the stories are likely to be of interest only to me means I can just imagine them and save the trouble of actually writing anything.

That said. Still. Creativity. Tolkien may have been onto something, when he said (I paraphrase) that humans are most fulfilled when emulating their gods, and in our culture the dominant pantheon's primary deity is known most of all for being the Creator - thus to be creative is to fulfill our deep cultural imperative.

(I suspect it is not accidental that this motivation resonates. If the unwritten stories in my head have a common theme, it is apotheosis.)
Monday, September 6th, 2010
1:03 pm
I'm in Florida, waiting for my brother to pick me up at the airport, likely to start about two and a half days of exhausting work packing up my mom's house.
Friday, September 3rd, 2010
6:13 pm
Well, my apologies. I posted something and then decided it sounded too cantankerous, so off it went.

So here's something much less ornery. From Memory Alpha, this gives me many wriggly happies:
The Kzinti made no further appearance in Star Trek after "The Slaver Weapon", and a brief mention in "The Infinite Vulcan". The council of Elysia in TAS: "The Time Trap" had seemingly included a prototype, perhaps ancestral, Kzinti creature with the familiar bat-wing ears. A female felinoid seen in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was referred to in backstage information as a "Kzinretti". Further, a star map seen in several TNG episodes has a planet on it named "Kzin".

It has often been said that an unseen species mentioned in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Adversary" – the "Tzenkethi", a near-anagram of "The Kzinti" – were supposed as a replacement. Robert Hewitt Wolfe said recently that he combined the name "Kzinti" with "Tsankth", a race from the RuneQuest and HeroQuest RPGs, in naming the Tzenkethi. Wolfe also notes that he did not picture the Tzenkethi as looking like the Kzinti, but as "heavily armored lizards".
Finding fen who geek in the same really obscure directions I do is enough to make my day.

Sidenote: wouldn't a TNT or HBO maxi-series chronicling Known Space be awesome to watch?
Monday, August 30th, 2010
9:09 am
I go through a lot of my life feeling like today's xkcd. Read more...Collapse )
Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
8:28 am
I have been inspired
by this.

It is now a moral imperative. I had the piano tuned this week, and I pulled out the sheet music yesterday. I'm going to get this one. I won't ever play it cleanly at its proper speed -- I don't have the chops -- but it is a great "rediscover the fun" piano piece: it sounds harder than it is, and its only real challenge is the tempo, but... if an instrumental piano piece could smile, the smile would sound like the Root Beer Rag.
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