packbat: Headshot looking serious and superimposed on the Gettysburg Address. (gettysburg)
I am not a Christian, but there are a number of things I admire in the theology of most Christian religions. One of these goes back to the titular Christ himself: his affection for all peoples. Heretics, sinners, those judged impure and those despised, all these were the people he chose to spend his time with, the people he was loyal to. Fred 'slacktivist' Clark spoke of this quite memorably in the essay "Clean shoes" - and for that matter, so did Richard Thompson in the song "God Loves A Drunk" - but there's another aspect of this that struck me quite powerfully. An inversion, if you will.

What we usually say is that Jesus loves everyone. What we usually say is that Jesus hung out with fishermen, tax collectors, lepers, prostitutes. We say that Jesus accepted all these people, people who the Pharisees, the cleanliness-obsessed, the self-righteous rejected. But the same goes the other way around. These people who would have nothing to do with self-righteous, cleanliness-obsessed Pharisees accepted Jesus. Prostitutes, lepers, tax collectors, fishermen would hang out with him. Everyone loved him.

To say he loves is to say a great deal - but to say he was loved, a great deal more. It is not difficult to be convinced that you love someone, that you care for them, that you want the best for them. To be convinced that others care about you and appreciate you - that they value you - is somewhat more challenging. If someone handed you a religious tract, would you believe they cared for you? If someone proselytized to you, unasked, on the street, are they offering you what you need? They believe so - but do you?

In contrast, if someone listened to your troubles, would you believe they cared for you? If someone offered their aid, unasked, on the street? Would it matter what they believed, if they offered you clothes when you were naked, drink when you thirsted, food when you hungered?

It seems like a thought worth considering.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
SCENE: Robin (i.e. packbat) and David are playing chess in the ASME lounge. Ben enters.

Ben: Who's winning?

Robin: (mumbling)

Ben: Well, he's moved twice, so clearly he's winning.

Robin: I'll just tie it up then. [moves piece]

Ben: Tie goes to Black.

[beat. Robin looks up at Ben.]

Robin: This isn't affirmative action, man!
packbat: Wearing my custom-made hat and a smirk. (hat)
Post edited ~5:20p EDT - thanks, [livejournal.com profile] zwol!

Well, I'm coming back into blogging with a fury, aren't I? First politics, and now religion!

Those of you who do not follow the atheist blogosphere may not be aware of the long, boring back-and-forths between the "New Atheists" and the "accommodationists". To summarize: the latter frequently accuse the former of being mean to theists (people who believe that one or more gods exist) and the former retort that the latter are being intellectually dishonest. What's annoying about it is that the argument never actually connects to the essential disagreement, edit: rarely gets back to actual questions of fact. The latest brouhaha, for example, relates to a question which "New Atheists" answer in the negative and many "accommodationists" answer in the positive: do any people have sufficient intellectual justification to believe that a god is real?

And for that reason, I want to congratulate Larry Moran, who is addressing this question.

This brings me to my challenge. I challenge all theists and all their accommodationist friends to post their very best 21st century, sophisticated (or not), arguments for the existence of God. They can put them in the comments section of this posting, or on any of the other atheist blogs, or on their own blogs and websites. Just send me the link.


(Link via pharyngula.)

If anyone in the audience believes that there are good reasons to believe that a god exists (or has a friend who so believes), please contact Prof. Moran (or have your friend do so) by Saturday, October 2.

As a footnote, though: I realize that there are a subset of people who would answer in the affirmative to the question above without answering Moran's challenge: some people believe that they possess evidence good enough to convince themselves, but that their evidence cannot be communicated to anyone else. Whether this is true is a philosophical question, and one which I would be glad to discuss ... but unrelated to the announcement.

Remember: if you believe that a God exists and you can prove it, or if you know someone who so believes, tell Larry Moran by Saturday, October 2.

Thanks!
packbat: Wearing a open-frame backpack, a pair of sunglasses, and a wide, triangular grin. (hiking)
So: yesterday I got out a bicycle, unfroze the chain with generous doses of both machine and elbow grease, pumped up the tires, and took it out on the bike trail for a shakedown ride. Guess what I did today?

Differences:
  • The chain was in much, much worse condition. Fortunately, after giving up one or two times, I hit up the Googletubes and found an essay about fixing frozen bike chains, claiming (a) you should set it upside down, and (b) you should use two pairs of pliers, one to grip either side of the frozen link. With these alterations, and much sweat, the chain was freed.
  • The front brake calipers were dodgy - one half wouldn't rebound from the wheel. Fortunately, oil and time (somehow) repaired this.
  • I forgot to pump up the tires the first time I took it out. Fortunately, I realized this close to my house, and walked it back.
  • Did I say "the front brake calipers were dodgy"? I meant the entire braking system. As I told Dad, the only sound worse than the front brakes was the rear brakes.
  • Instead of a rear reflector, I had a broken headlamp.
  • Instead of a kickstand, I had nothing.
  • Half the tape on the right handlebar was loose.
  • I took a different trail, one that was all paved. But much, much lumpier, as it happened - once I was jounced so badly I lost footing on the pedals.


All in all, damaged sprocket notwithstanding, I think the other bike is better - still, this makes two rideable bicycles ready to go. And a pleasant weekend, too.
packbat: Coming into the finish line after a mile race - the announcer can be seen behind me. (running)
This morning I thought I might ride out the trail again, and I pulled a bike out from under the tarp. I had been riding my three-speed, but I'd busted up the rim (quite a while ago, actually), and it's not a good idea to ride on dented rims.

That said, it is entirely impossible to ride with a frozen bike chain. Fortunately, I had most of a jar of bike lube and an extra-large dose of TLC* to apply, and after well over three hours, the bike was in rideable condition, and I took it out to the trail to run down to Bethesda to buy some ice cream** and a new wireless hub.

More than one person told me that the bike looked like it was in great shape, so I must have done something right. :)

(Sadly, one of the sprockets on the rear derailleur is missing one or more teeth, so I may not get away without spending some money.)

Anyway, it was quite an experience. First, this bike is very much a road bike - it bogged down in gravel quite badly. Second, it's a ten-speed with a very funky derailleur system, so I had the devil's own time getting away from fifth gear for uphills and slow starts. Third, the controls are arranged quite differently (drop handlebars, down tube shifters), which left me quite nervous and timid. Third, I'm not really fit enough to take the bike to where it should go - I was struggling to keep it moving and moving in the right direction, even.

But it was pretty good, nonetheless. Tomorrow, I'll take out the other rust monster and see how I can make it run.

* TLC = Tender Loving Care. With a pair of pliers and a lot of sweating, I must say.

** Sadly, the ice cream shop (Giffords) was closed when I went by, so I ended up buying a Dunkin' Donuts iced tea and bagel.
packbat: Headshot looking serious and superimposed on the Gettysburg Address. (gettysburg)
I wish this was a proper review, but the book came out a good seven years ago - long enough for this to be awfully old news regardless.

I. Love. Moneyball.

I would say this, if I were cynical and funny: Moneyball is, ironically enough, a story about how storytelling is deceptive. But it's not true. There is a hint of that feeling when I read it - the story is such a good story that I'd want to believe it if the entire book was lies from cover to cover, and the book does warn against dreaming and making up expectations based on merely what you see - but I would do Michael Lewis an injustice if I said that. The man worked his butt off getting it right, and that dedication shows.

What is the material? Well, Moneyball is, perhaps, the perfect underdog story: a story about a baseball team (the Oakland Athletics) with a financial payroll tinier than almost any other in a sport where the richest teams spend many multiples more than the poorest ... that sets out to win, with a determination and intelligence that is an inspiration to behold. Moneyball is also a layman's introduction to that intelligence which, long ignored by the very people who would most benefit from it, finally found its instantiation in the Oakland A's: sabermetrics. And Moneyball is a story of this intelligence on this team reaching out to rescue an oddball collection of underrated players and give them the chance to give a bloody eye to the entire baseball establishment that didn't see how good they were.

And it's a story of how such a thing should ever happen - how mistakes were made and perpetuated and compounded upon, and how the visions found when that fog of confusion was pierced could take so long and strange a journey to where they deserved to play out: on the diamond.

It's a business book, a sociology lesson, a baseball story, and a hell of a good read. A nearer approach to perfection in nonfiction is rarely seen.
packbat: Leaning on a chain-link fence, looking to my left (your right) with a neutral expression. (spectator)
Via kirabug, a proper description of the instinctive drowning response:

  1. Except in rare circumstances, drowning people are physiologically unable to call out for help. The respiratory system was designed for breathing. Speech is the secondary or overlaid function. Breathing must be fulfilled, before speech occurs.
  2. Drowning people’s mouths alternately sink below and reappear above the surface of the water. The mouths of drowning people are not above the surface of the water long enough for them to exhale, inhale, and call out for help. When the drowning people’s mouths are above the surface, they exhale and inhale quickly as their mouths start to sink below the surface of the water.
  3. Drowning people cannot wave for help. Nature instinctively forces them to extend their arms laterally and press down on the water’s surface. Pressing down on the surface of the water, permits drowning people to leverage their bodies so they can lift their mouths out of the water to breathe.
  4. Throughout the Instinctive Drowning Response, drowning people cannot voluntarily control their arm movements. Physiologically, drowning people who are struggling on the surface of the water cannot stop drowning and perform voluntary movements such as waving for help, moving toward a rescuer, or reaching out for a piece of rescue equipment.
  5. From beginning to end of the Instinctive Drowning Response people’s bodies remain upright in the water, with no evidence of a supporting kick. Unless rescued by a trained lifeguard, these drowning people can only struggle on the surface of the water from 20 to 60 seconds before submersion occurs.


Read the rest, and read the prequel about cold water survival.
packbat: Wearing a open-frame backpack, a pair of sunglasses, and a wide, triangular grin. (hiking)
A quick message (via iPhone, because the DSL modem at home is on the fritz): I will probably be visiting Austin, TX for a week starting on the 14th!

Does anyone have advice on things to do and see there? I heard great things about the Congress Avenue Bridge bats, but I can't say I recall much else.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
Via lesswrong.com, a brief foray into the realm of philosophy.

SMBC May 12, 2010 )
packbat: Leaning on a chain-link fence, looking to my left (your right) with a neutral expression. (spectator)
The breakdown is here, if any of you missed it. I find most of these results fairly unsurprising (although the "yellow" region of the saturated color space contains a startling amount of green), but it's really cool to read through the details anyway. Favorite bits:

  • The mnemonic* for how to spell "fuchsia".
  • "Actual color names if you're a [girl/guy]..."
  • The list of colors.
  • The entire "Miscellaneous" header.
  • "Baige".
* Fun fact: I instinctively put a "u" after that "e". Perhaps you can guess how I pronounce that word...

(P.S. Word up, Mr. Munroe.)

(P.P.S. I'm feeling much recovered, save for residual sleep-dep from catching up on grading.)

(P.P.P.S. Less Wrong taught me a lot more about teaching than I expected.)
packbat: Headshot looking serious and superimposed on the Gettysburg Address. (gettysburg)
Via Making Light, Paul Cornell: Wish Me Luck, I'm Going In. What with the recent stalling of the Equality Bill in Britain, he's had enough.

I wish there were a Christian organisation like British Muslims for Secular Democracy, who could liaise with the various gay Christian organisations, but also include those who aren't directly involved, who just think this cause is just. Then there would be a phone number for that liberal voice that the UK media could lay their hands on. If they ever wanted to call it.

In the meantime, I've started a hashtag on Twitter: #godlyforequality. If you're on Twitter, go and have a look, and let's see if we can retweet the message a long way. It's only a tiny thing. It's the least I can do.


I'm not a Christian, and I think that Christianity is factually wrong - but what he's doing here is fighting homophobia, and on those grounds he's fighting for the side of good.

Good luck, Mr. Cornell. Do the right thing.
packbat: Headshot looking serious and superimposed on the Gettysburg Address. (gettysburg)
Joshua Kors tells the story.

Luther insisted to doctors at Camp Taji that he did not have personality disorder, that the idea of developing a childhood mental illness at the age of 36, after passing eight psychological screenings, was ridiculous. The sergeant used a vivid expression to convey how much pain he was in. "I told them that some days, the pain was so bad, I felt like dying." Doctors declared him a suicide risk. They collected his shoelaces, his belt and his rifle and ordered him confined to an isolation chamber.

Extensive medical records written by Luther's doctors document his confinement in the aid station for more than a month. The sergeant was kept under twenty-four-hour guard. Most nights, he says, guards enforced sleep deprivation, keeping the lights on and blasting heavy metal music. When Luther rebelled, he was pinned down and injected with sleeping medication.

Eventually Luther was brought to his commander, who told him he had a choice: he could sign papers saying his medical problems stemmed from personality disorder or face more time in isolation.


I can't even joke about this. It's horrible, pure horror.

Edit: Link via [livejournal.com profile] ceruleanst, here.
packbat: Headshot looking serious and superimposed on the Gettysburg Address. (gettysburg)
Via [livejournal.com profile] roaminrob: Arithmetic, Population, and Energy by Dr. Albert A. Bartlett, uploaded in eight parts. ~75 minutes.

Part One.

I've posted some links because I was curious about your opinion; this one I think is important, clear, and convincing. Unfortunately, I don't see a good way of summarizing it - wonderingmind42, who uploaded it, did a pretty iffy job with the title, in my book - but I'll try: the lecture is about the nature of steady percentage growth (e.g. 7%/year) and the policy implications that come out of the arithmetic. You don't need anything more than multiplication and division to follow the reasoning - the most difficult calculation is for the doubling time, and that goes

years to double = 70 / % growth per year

which is accurate to one part in twenty for any growth rate up to 12%/year.

I think it's worth at least 90 minutes of your time - 75 minutes is a steal at the price.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (quarter-rear)
If I may venture a prediction: [livejournal.com profile] feech, you would not like this movie. Like in Duel, very little plot transpires in a given minute of Sorcerer - the chief part of the story can be summarized in a couple sentences, but it all takes two hours to play out.

What I found compelling, though, was this sense of characterization and atmosphere. The characters are all trapped, desperate and struggling, but trapped - by financial problems, legal problems, extralegal problems, and, for the four protagonists, in the end by the job that they have taken itself. What drives the film is this almost certainly fatal struggle to escape the terrible circumstances they have found themselves in.

Don't be fooled by the title: it is a remake of the 1953 French film Le salaire de la peur (English: The Wages Of Fear), and the "Sorcerer" is merely a truck. There is a sense of sorcery about it, perhaps, as one poorly-punctuated review on IMDB suggested, but it is the inimical spirit of bad luck, no agent who may be blamed.

I found the characters compelling, and the story tense. It is not a happy film, but a good one, I think.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
Poll #2386 The Chocolate Dilemma
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 1


There is a sack of chocolate and you have two options: either take one piece from the sack to yourself, or take three pieces which will be given to Dylan. Dylan also has two options: one pieces for himself or three to you. After you both made your choices independently each goes home with the amount of chocolate he collected.

View Answers

Take one piece for yourself.
0 (0.0%)

Take three pieces for Dylan.
1 (100.0%)



From, via.
packbat: Leaning on a chain-link fence, looking to my left (your right) with a neutral expression. (spectator)
As a number of people have noted, Livejournal placed into their software for a period of time code which would do two rude things:

1. Alter links to ecommerce sites to forward users to a particular company's URL.
2. Replace affiliate markers on such links with a different affiliate marker.

...and do these things on every link on Livejournal, regardless of context. [livejournal.com profile] shatterstripes looked into this from the technical side, and made a series of relevant informative posts, but the implications are clear: they were mining money from everyone on Livejournal without telling anyone that's what they were doing.

I personally like my Dreamwidth+crosspost solution, and have three invitations on hand, but I'm not going to remove all my LJ content. If you are staying on LJ, I will still be paying attention - if you are migrating elsewhere, please let me know so I can find you there.
packbat: Leaning on a chain-link fence, looking to my left (your right) with a neutral expression. (spectator)
What? I asked.

It's a Japanese word that means a story that plays with the same characters, but different, my brother told me. Ninja Gaiden was a retelling of the story of Ninja, but different.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the difference between Whiteout (1998 comic) and Whiteout (2009 film). What killed the interest in this movie for the people who hated it was either (Theory 34) that Kate Beckinsdale's shower scene wasn't hot enough, or (Theory Changed) that it wasn't anything like the book. Both objections are correct ...

... but if the comic had never existed and the film had been simply written directly, it wouldn't have received anything like the opprobrium it is subject to. It's a thriller movie, set in Antartica, with a hot lead, lots of plot twists, good action scenes, kinda low-budget special effects but give them some credit, they work, and a satisfying ending. It's not a classic, it's not a tightly-written Chandleresque suspense novel with brilliantly stylized presentation, it's not forward thinking in any way - it's a popcorn movie, and a good one.

Whiteout Gaiden. Rating: 3 stars, buy cheap or rent.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (quarter-rear)

Given the choice, would you prefer to be a world-class (visual or performing) artist or an intellectual genius? Which, in your opinion, would facilitate a more fulfilling career and social life?

Submitted By [livejournal.com profile] numbartist

View 809 Answers



Why, this is perfectly straightforward. "Intellectual genius" and "world-class artist", respectively.

...what?

Oh, the contradiction. Yeah, I just have to own that one. The thing is, somewhere in my head, I have this driving principle which seeks out knowledge rather than pleasure. "Socrates dissatisfied", as they say. The thing is, though, I do so even though I dispute John Stuart Mill's thesis: I would be more content, not merely happier, if I chose to subordinate my intellectual drive and took up the paintbrush. I just choose not to. I prefer to choose the less pleasant when offered the choice of truth or happiness, or even truth and safety, or truth and pride - I would rather know the truth, though it tear me to pieces.

Which, to disgress, may be part of what I find so compelling in Bruce Sterling's Islands in the Net. And that may be as satisfactory a conclusion as any to the post.
packbat: Coming into the finish line after a mile race - the announcer can be seen behind me. (running)
This afternoon, I was digging out the snow leaning against the basement windows, but the geometry of the area meant that I needed to take snow out around the corner of the house to have space to dump it out.

Now, I had two ways of doing that. Either I could just carry every shovelful a good forty feet (twelve meters) to where I could throw it out, or I could use a ex-shower-curtain folded in half to drag it. Now, the choice was obvious ... except that the path around the house was lumpy and uneven, and so the snow was continually rolling off the plastic. So - after a moment of frustration - I had a bit of an obvious idea: scape and pile the snow to make the path gently sloping and smooth!

This worked out to be quite straightforward, in fact - the only major kink was that there were a couple places where a pile of snow was needed to fill in holes. Fortunately, I had all the snow that I was supposed to be moving ...

... most of which went into the piles. Net result: I removed the pile of snow by paving a path around the corner of the house. In the end, I was even dumping piles of snow right in the middle to cover over a morass of mud.

Ah, well. The snow was removed ... just not as far as I expected.
packbat: Coming into the finish line after a mile race - the announcer can be seen behind me. (running)
(Forgot to mention until today: the heat pump got fixed Friday! Forgot until today, but not to mention: shipped the application for the FE exam that's due Tuesday in Baltimore!)

So, this afternoon I got a call from J.-no-longer-from-school (yay graduation!) suggesting that we have a Game Night at T's house. Being the kind of guy I am, the answer was most definitely "yes", I threw some snacks into a grocery bag, and caught a ride out to College Park ...

... where we discovered that some streets aren't plowed very well after two blizzards back-to-back!

On the bright side, I got to pitch in with the crew pushing a mildly clueless BMW-driver out of the ditch by the road. (I actually contributed one factor which may have helped much: pushing the front wheel out so it could pull the rest.) It was a really good thing that I have those great new waterproof hiking boots, because I was standing in a big snowdrift ... in my sneakers, with my boots in the closet at home.

The gaming was good, though! We started off with "Da Vinci's Challenge", which is this very patterny game where you try to get particular shapes for points - we frustrated L. quite a bit by talking when she wanted to discuss strategy with her teammate, though, which made things very awkward. After that, we played an unusual trivia game I've forgotten the name of - everyone writes up guesses, but then you ''bet'' on the guesses you think are actually probably right. We wrapped up with Puerto Rico.

I actually caught a ride home with L., who lives nearer my house than J. (Funny: three of us in the same area, and we all three go to College Park instead! Next game night might be closer, I imagine.) Fortunately, the street had been plowed while we gamed - although not all the way down to the street.

Ah, well. Fun night, anyway!
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (quarter-rear)
(Don't answer that.)

Saw xkcd today - I think it's one of the good ones. Behold:

xkcd #701: Science Valentine



Positivity!

Feb. 9th, 2010 11:45 am
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (quarter-rear)
bliumchik i.e. [livejournal.com profile] maggiebloome had a tasty, tasty post+links about the sort-of self-destructive anti-ego thing which a lot of women do to avoid seeming too self-confident establish their femininity ...

... and that reminded me of an entirely different self-destructive anti-ego thing that I do, when I don't get things done that I wanted to have done. The thing is, I have this self-image of this feckless, flaky ass who blows off important assignments and mooches financially and emotionally off everyone he meets ... but the whole basis for this persona is that I'm ADD. I don't concentrate well, and I don't have the tools established to work around it (other than "be so clever that you can solve the problem in fifteen minutes or less"...). And given that I'm the only person I have ever met who has given any weight to the ass-hypothesis, I suspect the truth is closer to "my organization skills need a little work".

The self-destructive part, then, is whinging about being a horrible person who deserves to die (a total lie, for the record), rather than doing that little bit of work. Because I can - I have the technology - and everything else is just that I haven't, yet.

Abrupt transition!



Reply to this post, and I'll tell you one reason why I like you. Then repost this [if you like] and spread the love.

Except! Amendment!

Reply to this post with something you like about yourself. No cop-out complinsults please! I know you've got it in you! And if you don't I will still do the original meme above, so no pressure or anything, but try. For me.
packbat: Leaning on a chain-link fence, looking to my left (your right) with a neutral expression. (spectator)
Ah, the disorganized list. What greater bloggoriffic staple could there be?

  • Our house has a heat pump for both winter and summer ... and it's dead. Capacitor's blown, and wires of the condenser fused together. Whole new unit's needed, and won't arrive before, well:
    * PRECIPITATION TYPE...HEAVY SNOW.
    
    * ACCUMULATIONS...STORM TOTAL ACCUMULATIONS OF 18 TO 24 INCHES.
    
    * TIMING...SNOW WILL BEGIN MID-MORNING FRIDAY...AND WILL
      CONTINUE THROUGH SATURDAY EVENING. CONDITIONS WILL DETERIORATE
      RAPIDLY FRIDAY AFTERNOON...WITH HEAVIEST SNOWFALL OCCURRING
      BETWEEN SUNSET FRIDAY TO SUNRISE SATURDAY. THE MOST HAZARDOUS
      WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS WILL OCCUR FRIDAY NIGHT.
    
    * VISIBILITIES...THE COMBINATION OF HEAVY SNOW AND STRONG WINDS
      WILL REDUCE VISIBILITIES TO BELOW ONE-QUARTER MILE...PRODUCING
      NEAR-BLIZZARD CONDITIONS AT TIMES FRIDAY NIGHT AND EARLY
      SATURDAY MORNING.
    
    * TEMPERATURES...HIGHS IN THE LOWER 30S FRIDAY. TEMPERATURES
      WILL BE IN THE MID TO UPPER 20S FRIDAY NIGHT AND SATURDAY.
    
    * WINDS...BECOMING NORTHEAST 10 TO 20 MPH FRIDAY WITH GUSTS TO
      30 MPH FRIDAY NIGHT AND SATURDAY.

    Joy to the world.
  • I got a lucky break (alluded to in the prior post) with respect to a presentation I am to deliver; I now have a fair bit of time to actually produce that which I must present.
  • The slide of the zipper on my leather jacket is brokened. However, the buttons on my blue slacks are fixted.
  • I would be interested in purchasing this tee-shirt, should it ever be for sale.
  • I am once again a TA for Heat Transfer Transfer Processes! (So called because the processes can transfer mass, as well ... and I have now taught you the entire mass-transfer curriculum of the course.) I come better equipped this time, as I have Asked A Professor For Advice On Running Discussion Sections. (Also, my student guide on the solution of nonlinear algebraic equations is much improved!)
  • Prof. Orzel gave a talk today on campus!
  • I reread The Moonstone (excellent! --although Ms. Clack danced a merry jig on one of my berserk buttons) and read for the first time World War Z, which my mom kindly lent me after I bought it for her (rollicking zombie fun!). I also read The Silent Tower by Barbara Hambly, and am now jonesing for the #2 in the series.


I fear I may pass out before finishing, s
packbat: Headshot looking serious and superimposed on the Gettysburg Address. (gettysburg)
A link to pass on: Slacktivist explains the lie Tony Perkins is telling for money about the expansion of hate crime legislation to cover LGBT persons. Money quote:

The only extent to which hate-crime protections pertain to "thought" is in the way that all criminal law does, which is to say that motive matters. If you truly believe that the law should make no distinction between accidental manslaughter and premeditated first-degree homicide, because you truly believe that any such distinction constitutes the establishment of "thought crime," then I will accept that you are making this "thought-crime" objection to hate-crime legislation in good faith. (I'll think you're kind of an idiot, but at least a sincere idiot.) But you can't accept that distinction and still argue in good faith that hate crimes are "thought crimes."


P.S. If anyone you know is concerned that hate crime legislation could infringe their freedom of speech, two words: Fred Phelps.

P.P.S. On a related note, a riddle courtesy of eyelessgame in the comments: What terrorist organization has killed more Americans than al Qaeda?
packbat: Coming into the finish line after a mile race - the announcer can be seen behind me. (running)
To whom it may concern:

I am writing to you as a great fan of Test Drive Unlimited for two reasons: first, to thank you for making such a great game, and second, to suggest a few things I noticed that could make it even better.

Before I say anything else, I want to say that TDU is probably my favorite videogame of all time. The driving physics feel realistic without being unmanageable, the fleet of available cars is extensive and well-crafted, the traffic AI is beautifully implemented, and the variety of missions and challenges is enough to satisfy anyone. Most importantly, the major selling point of the game - the freedom to simply drive anywhere on the network of roads covering the island of Oahu - simply works; in contrast to previous games (such as GTA: Vice City), only the rarest of hiccups interrupt one's drive.

I would say that there are only three things to which I must direct your attention. I am sure you are well aware of the corresponding issues, but I will mention them nonetheless.

First, I notice that the game seems to have been designed with the outside-the-car cameras in mind. I don't really object to this - I know many people like to play that way - but I've noticed that when I am using the inside-the-car camera I (a) can't see traffic lights when I stop at the intersection and (b) can't turn the camera quickly to look in directions away from where I'm going. These aren't game-breaking issues, but it would be cool if the team could spend a little more time on them.

Second, the classification system for the cars is somewhat unsatisfactory. For example, in Class G, the Mercedes Gullwing is much slower than the Pontiac Firebird, which is much slower than the Lamborghini Miura, which is much slower than the Shelby Daytona. In the other classes, too, several assignments are dubious (e.g. the TVR T440R as C instead of A). Adding a numerical rating system like in Forza 2 would be able to capture these details more clearly (although even in Forza 2 the Porsche 914 was underrated). It would also support the addition of a more complicated tuning system, like in the Forza and Gran Turismo series.

Third, there's no way to tell whether another human car is a fair challenge for you before you challenge them except by knowing all the models. Again, the numerical system could help with this: for example, an identical opponent could be displayed with a white halo (like the health indications in Left 4 Dead), and the halo could fade towards pink and red for faster opponents and toward gray and black for slower. (I chose these colors arbitrarily - if you have better ideas, please ignore them.)

Thank you for your time and trouble,
Robin Zimmermann

P.S. I just finished all the missions to get "Ace" rank in TDU!
packbat: Wearing my custom-made hat and a smirk. (hat)
"What's the easiest unsolved math problem to explain?" I asked my dad tonight, just out of curiosity. I asked because the two obvious, famous answers - Fermat's last theorem and the four-color problem - are both (probably) solved.

Well, I can't guarantee the actual answer is here, but a few candidates he pointed me to:

  • The P = NP problem: if the answer to a computational yes-no question can be checked quickly (in polynomial time), does that imply it may be answered quickly (in polynomial time)? This is a marginal case, as a lot of people don't know what "polynomial time" is, so two better candidates are...
  • Goldbach's conjecture: that every even integer greater than 2 can be written as the sum of two primes, and...
  • The twin prime conjecture: that there exist an infinite number of twin primes - primes separated by two (like 3 and 5). (Bonus: this is a special case of Polignac's conjecture.) However, there are a pair which do not even require understanding primes...
  • The existence of (a) an infinite number of even perfect numbers and/or (b) the existence of any odd perfect number. Perfect numbers being, in these examples, those which equal the sum of all the divisors smaller than themselves - such as 6, equal to 1+2+3, and 28, equal to 1+2+4+7+14.


(Now, one could argue that an even easier hard problem to state is "how come things fall", but that's physics!)
packbat: Wearing my custom-made hat and a smirk. (hat)
Day before yesterday, Jerry "Tycho" Holkins commented on his fascination with the deeply disturbing "seduction community", and Mike "Gabe" Krahulik stepped in to play devil's advocate.

I completely see where both of these people are coming from, here. But in this particular case, Tycho is very straightforwardly correct, and Gabe's instinctive fairmindness is misplaced. And normally I wouldn't be so confident staking out my spot in this minefield, but I happen to have an advantage: just last month, a completely unrelated community which I have been involved in discussed this question, and the conclusions of the discussion are pretty clear.

The seduction community, or pick-up artist community, or whatever it's called, explicitly treats sexual relations between persons as a game in which the player - singular - seeks to win against opposition. This attributes an explicit status imbalance in which only the man is an actor (cf. Bark/Bite, "Do You Tell a Football What Time the Superbowl Starts?") and in which sexual congress raises the status of the man and lowers that of the woman. It's sexist, offensive, and wrong.

End of line.




P.S. Obviously, two days being an eternity in the wonderful world of cyberspace, I have been preceded in remarking on this discussion - goblinpaladin, pandagon's Amanda Marcotte.

P.P.S. If there are people reading this is frustrated in their desire to find sexual partners, recall that people are complicated. Anyone offering shortcuts is lying.

Tank Man

Jun. 4th, 2009 07:57 pm
packbat: Headshot looking serious and superimposed on the Gettysburg Address. (gettysburg)
On the twentieth anniversary of Tiananmen Square, the New York Times "Lens" blog made two memorial posts regarding the photographs of the Tank Man: first, the classic four photos with comments from the photographers, and second, the fifth photo, unreleased until now.

I am sure I can say nothing to add to these. But I am wondering: what of the driver and other crew of that lead Type 59 tank? It seems to me an incredible thing, that these four PLA soldiers, presumably with orders to drive away the protesters from the square, saw this single man (incongruously carrying plastic bags, as if he was just out shopping) walk out in front of them ... and they stopped. Their guns were silent. Ashamedly, the driver turns the tank to go around the man - like you might turn your car to avoid a pothole - but the man puts his body in the way, seventy or so kilos of meat and bone against thirty six thousand of metal, and ... I don't know. Were they confused? Or did they, somehow, in the midst of the machinegunning of hundreds of people, look out through their periscopes and see a person, a fellow human being, before them?

I have been thinking for a while that nonviolent protest is the strangest sort of moral judo - if war is an extension of diplomacy, seeking victory by the destruction of your enemies personhood, then this is likewise an extension, an anti-war, seeking victory by the construction of your own personhood. The acts of passive resistance bewilder because it is impossibly to justify as war. It can only be understood as human.

We don't know who the Tank Man is. As far as I am aware, we don't even know who was in the tanks.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
Via [livejournal.com profile] jfs: http://sixdegrees.hu/last.fm/



It's a map of many (all but ~17000) of the artists indexed on last.fm, spread out in two dimensions* according to the similarity data that site has between each pair of artists. One of the cooler features here is the Interactive Map - you can look up any indexed artists and they mark them with flags. I generated the following map shown by entering a comma-delineated list** of my favorite artists and taking a screenshot.

* What would happen if it were three dimensions or more? I guess it's inconvenient to render...

** Names separated by commas. Example: Joni Mitchell, Tracy Chapman, XTC. If you enter the list of your favorite artists this way, it works - even if the names have commas, like Peter, Paul and Mary.


Packbat's last.fm music map

I assume some interpretation could be put to why my flags all fall on a line between Avril Lavinge and Muse, but I'm not going to.
packbat: Coming into the finish line after a mile race - the announcer can be seen behind me. (running)
Warning: I went running with a stopwatch today. The following is almost certainly only interesting to [livejournal.com profile] zhurnaly!




I mean it! It's just a bunch of splits! )

Only other interesting thing - I weighed myself on their scales, got 73.1 kg, which is a little higher than usual for me.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (pale blue dot)
Dead At Your Age (hat tip to [livejournal.com profile] shatterstripes):

You are 23 years and 266 days old today.

That’s exactly half the life of somebody famous. In another 23 years and 266 days, you will have lived exactly as long as Fernando Pessoa. He was an innovative poet and creator of heteronyms, imaginary characters who write in different styles [sic] who died at the age of 47 years, 170 days of cirrhosis of the liver.

Fernando Pessoa lived twice as long as you have, but other notable people have died at about this age.

  • You've outlived Booker Little Jr. by more than 2 months. He was a trumpeter-composer who co-led a quintet with Eric Dolphy. He died on October 5, 1961, 24 years before you were born.
  • Bonnie Parker was about 3 months younger than you when she died by homicide on March 23, 1934. She was a Depression-era outlaw who joined Clyde Barrow in a bank-robbing spree across the West. She died 52 years before you were born.
  • You've outlived Jacques Herbrand by more than 3 months. He was a mathematician who introduced various theories of mathematical logic. He died in a mountaineering accident on July 27, 1931, 54 years before you were born.
  • Ernie Davis was more than 3 months younger than you when he died of leukemia on May 18, 1963. He was a football halfback for Syracuse University and the first African American to win the Heisman trophy. He died 23 years before you were born.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (swing dismount)
From [livejournal.com profile] baxil, with his modifications:

Comment to this post, and I will list five things I associate with you. They might make sense or they might be totally random. You're encouraged to post that list, with your commentary on each item, to your lj (or just add a reply back at me).

Extra Baxilian addition: If you have a mental association with me that nobody has mentioned yet, add it to your five-things request and I'll write some bonus commentary.




Swing Sets

I like swings. I would consider this a fairly awesome date.

I'm not sure when or where my earliest experiences were, but I know we had a swingset in the back yard of the family house when I was a kid, and I seem to recall a swingset at the park down the street, too. I think both of them are gone, now. So is the swingset in the icon, at K's house, but the swing in the icon - the brown thing I'm holding on to is the seat of a tree swing - is still there and still a lot of fun. Without the swingset to climb on for extra height, though, it'll be a little harder for me to fall off at the highest point off the ground and knock my wind out. Again. Pity.

Atheism

n. Not believing in any gods.

Now, this is not the definition you will from Messers. Merriam and Webster, should you ask of them - they will tell you that it is the positive belief that there exists no deity (and yes, they use the singular). It is also slightly different from the definition common at the once-IIDB, now FRDB (Freethought and Rationalism Discussion Board) - while that definition may be worded identically through sloppiness, strictly speaking, they refer to the negative belief, lack of belief, that any gods exist.

That said, provided that you interpret all three of these definitions reasonably, by which I mean avoiding the stupid, stupid idea that beliefs have to be infinitely certain, all three apply to myself. I positively believe that no people with power over the laws of nature exist ("in my opinion nothing occurs contrary to nature except the impossible, and that never occurs" - Sagredo, "Two New Sciences" (1914 translation), Galileo Galilei), and I decidedly don't have faith in any such creatures.

I made a post for [livejournal.com profile] convert_me a while back talking about the history of my opinion - I won't bother to repeat it here.

Magic: The Gathering

My dad, my sibs and I got into MtG early - not beta-early, but Unlimited Edition and Arabian Nights expansion early. Back then it was a great game, a lot of fun, though I stank at it - now, with the tremendous backlog of expansions and extra rules and so on that it has acquired, not so much (though I stink much less, now).

Still my favorite collectible trading card game, though.

Writer's Block*

* The LJ thought-prompter, not the creative affliction.

The LJ Writer's-Block feature quite often has interesting prompts - certainly better than Sturgeon's-Law percentages. Today's, for example, is "What do you think happens to us when we die?", a question of deep interest to many people that normally wouldn't occur to me to answer.

I normally don't put a great deal of effort into answering the Writer's Block questions, though. I expect if I were answering today's I would merely reiterate my support for the physicalist position - that you are (mostly) the operation of your brain, and if your brain data is destroyed, so are you. A more thorough response would invoke some of the evidence for the position - from Phineas Gage to the neurophysiology of near-death experiences and hallucinations.

Nomic

I've always been a bit of a rules-lawyer and I've always loved paradoxes (growing up, we had both of Martin Gardner's Aha! books, and at least one Raymond Smullyan - The Lady Or The Tiger? - I read all three often), so when I first heard of the game of Nomic (probably through my older brother), I was hooked. A game where you could change the rules! Nay, a game where you were encouraged, nay, required to change the rules, not just one where there was no-one to stop you! The very language of Suber's Initial Ruleset appealed to me.

And, of course, no-one in my circle of meatspace acquaintances was interested in playing. So the desire persistent, unfulfilled, until that fateful day when [livejournal.com profile] active_apathy decided she wanted a game. And by January 23rd, there was [livejournal.com profile] nomicide, and we've been off and running (with occasional stumbles) ever since. </plug>

Edit: That's January 23rd, 2007, for reference - over two years, now!
packbat: Coming into the finish line after a mile race - the announcer can be seen behind me. (running)
[livejournal.com profile] coppervale, yesterday, wrote a bit On Becoming a Writer where he approvingly quotes a rule Harlan Ellison said to him: "You're not a writer until a writer tells you you're a writer."

[livejournal.com profile] gregvaneekhout begged to differ, and suggests that "the designation 'writer' can only come from the act of doing it".

The question I am inclined to ask is: whence* comes the divide?

First: I claim that it truly is a divide, not merely a quibble of the sort which may be casually dismissed in a footnote. It tears along the same line dividing elitism and egalitarianism, distinction and description - either the former elevates Writer to a title or the latter reduces it to trivia, depending on which side of the line the reader falls, and there is a real sense of investment in the side. "How dare you claim we are not writers?" one might ask; or, inversely, one might ask, "If you are writers, where are your publications? Where are your awards? Where are your membership cards?"

Second: that's where it comes from. It comes from the split between the prototype of the writer and the etymology of the term - from the difference between definition by similarity and definition by function. Further, it gains its power from the conflict in the definition. To use an elitist frame, because we ascribe merit to the title, we wish to gain it (this drives the meaning towards the more general functional form), but because the merit of the title comes from the prototype, we wish to restrict the title to the deserving (this drives the meaning towards the prototypical). To use an egalitarian frame, because we pay attention to this behavior, we wish to employ our language to match the behavior as logically as possible (this drives the meaning towards the functional), but because we pay attention to this behavior, we want to make sure to be thrifty, to only pay to the truly exemplary examples (this drives the meaning towards the prototypical).

Third: These very tensions make the divide impossible to resolve by any maneuvers. Nevertheless, I have an opinion.

My opinion is thus: the best strategy is to employ the word in the functional sense. This does tarnish the trademark, if you think of "writer" as a trademark, but to try to apply the elitist standard raises too many ridiculous confusions. (Check it out: Is Anne Frank a writer, by the elitist definiton? Samuel Pepys? William Topaz McGonagall?) But on the other hand, we should recognize that adjectives apply - professional versus amateur, good versus bad, original versus derivative - and we should recognize that people may (or may not!) take "Writer" as a part of their identity, and not to deny them their identity or ascribe too much moral or social value to their identity.

The same goes for a lot of other titles - "artist", "dancer", "fisher", "poet". These words are not states of being, they are states of doing. Best to recognize it and go from there.

* Linguistic aside: "from whence" is an equally valid form. I simply prefer the shorter version.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (butterfly)
(I heard this story in a first-year art class I took as an elective.)

Once there was a great painter, renown through the land for his art. One day, a warlord visited him; he told the painter that he wished to commission a picture of a carp, and he would pay such-and-such as a fee. The painter said, "It will be ready in three months."

The three months went by, and the warlord returned. The painter told him, "It is not quite ready - I shall have it in three more weeks." The warlord was angry at this delay, but he did not wish to offend the painter, so he went away.

The three weeks passed, and the warlord returned again. The painter told him, "It is almost complete - come back in three days, and I will have it for you." The warlord was still more angry at this. "Why not today?" he asked. "You have had nearly four months!" "It is not yet ready," replied the painter. And the warlord stormed out.

The next day, he returned with a hundred men to bang on his door. "Painter, I have no more patience," he exclaimed. "Give me my painting immediately!"

The painter bowed his head, and said, "Follow me." He led the warlord inside to his desk, where he pulled out his brush, his ink, and a single sheet of blank paper. As the warlord watched, he wet the brush and painted three strokes on the page - three strokes to create the most perfect carp the world had seen.

The warlord stood speechless for a moment, then darkened with anger. "Why could you not do that when I first came?" he asked.

The painter rose, and walked to a cabinet on one wall of the room. He opened the door, and a thousand pages flew out - every one, a painting of a carp.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Silhouette)
        THE OLD MEN ADMIRING THEMSELVES IN THE WATER

        by: William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

            I heard the old, old men say,
            "Everything alters,
            And one by one we drop away."
            They had hands like claws, and their knees
            Were twisted like the old thorn-trees
            By the waters.
            "All that's beautiful drifts away
            Like the waters."


- from In the Seven Woods, 1903.

(Quoted in "And So To Fade Away" by Ken Arneson, linked by [livejournal.com profile] pecunium a while ago. Text was copy-pasted from The Poetry Archive.)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (butterfly)
If you see this, post a favourite poem.

My favourite poem, as I have mentioned, is modern and under copyright - it is called "The Voice You Hear When You Read Silently" by Thomas Lux. In lieu of that, I would have posted another favorite - "The Tree", by Ezra Pound - but that, although less recent, is still modern and under copyright. Therefore I will offer this, which is modern but not under copyright:

         Sara Teasdale
 Interlude: Songs out of Sorrow

   II. Mastery

I would not have a god come in
To shield me suddenly from sin,
And set my house of life to rights;
Nor angels with bright burning wings
Ordering my earthly thoughts and things:
Rather my own frail guttering lights
Wind blown and nearly beaten out:
Rather the terror of the nights
And long, sick groping after doubt;
Rather be lost than let my soul
Slip vaguely from my own control
Of my own spirit let me be
In sole though feeble mastery.


- from "Love Songs", 1917.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)

Do you consider yourself an optimist, a pessimist, or a realist?

View other answers



I would love to meet the person who did not consider themselves a realist. Excluding that option, however, I have to say I'm pessimistic in particular and optimistic in general.

When I am called upon to make a quantitative guess, my natural tendency is to exaggerate the odds of the worst plausible outcome. When I am called upon to complete a task, my natural tendency is to exaggerate the difficulty of completion to the point of paralyzation. And when I am called upon to describe what I have accomplished, my natural tendency is to understate my claim as much as possible.

On the other hand, I honestly expect things to turn out for the better. I think the world is a fine place, that a century ago it was worse, and that a century from now it will be better. I am appalled at those who speak of needing to compromise their principles - "have they no faith in the power of Good?", I think. When I meet a friend coming out my front door, he gives me a ride to the Metro just in time to catch the train, and both transfers come within the minute, I am not even perturbed - I just look at my watch and say, "Hey, I'm almost on time today!"

All that said, though, I reject the words, let alone the trichotomy. They are useful ways to describe the inaccuracy of estimates (a la "You don't think a month to finish the book is optimistic?"), but dispositions don't divide along those lines.

Linky!

Feb. 1st, 2009 01:05 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Earth:Harmless/WikiGuide)
[livejournal.com profile] dslartoo has a couple good links about depression from [livejournal.com profile] fairgoldberry: Part 1, Part 2. Worth reading.

(Yes, a few items on that first list sound pretty familiar - both in my case and in someone else's. Dunno what I'll do about it.)

On a more cheerful note - I hope you enjoyed my Rabbit Hole Day entry this year; here are the ones I bookmarked of those I read, in no particular order:

packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)

Have you ever ruined the ending or given away plot developments in a book, movie, or tv show by telling someone who hasn't seen or read it what happens? Has anyone ever done this to you?

View other answers



Indeed I have, and have been! Most memorable of the former regards "Just Cause" (1995), starring Sean Connery and Lawrence Fishburne, where I in my effusive state blurted out a major plot twist (fortunately to an individual who didn't care, or at least so professed), and most recent to my recollection of the latter regards "Wall-E" (2008), which I still haven't seen.

As a rule, I avoid spoilers assiduously from both ends, regardless of the age of the work. I firmly believe I benefited greatly from seeing "The Sixth Sense" (1999) without knowing even the tagline, for example, and I would have been quite peeved if someone had blurted out the solution to the mystery in "The Woman in White" (1860) before I reached it. For other people, though, I generally do not voice any objections if the work is at least thirty years old.

(I'm still mad about the widespread disregard for this rule with respect to "The Sixth Sense", actually. I didn't suffer from it, but only because my mom sat me down and made me watch it before I had the chance.)

(By the way, if you get the DVD, after you've seen the movie, check out the alternate ending in the deleted scenes - it's worth seeing.)
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (music)
I just got back from the Janis Joplin concert at Wolftrap ... it was amazing, but when she was talking about her time in California, and said she almost fell into full-out addiction, almost ruined her life - well, it made me think. What would have happened? Would tattoos still be the provenance of outcasts? Would we ever have had the inrush of female voices into the rock-and-roll scene, people like Stevie Nicks even have played rock? A tiny change to history - if we had Joni Mitchell still playing and Janis Joplin died young - and so much would have been different.

What might Jimi Hendrix have accomplished, if he lived as long as Jim Morrison? Where would Simon & Garfunkel have gone if Paul Simon hadn't died in a car crash in 1965 - would they have just been another obscure one-hit wonder? What could R.E.M. have accomplished if it were Marc Bolan died young and Michael Stipe still alive today? Heck, would Tommy Allsup be remembered the way Ritchie Valens is, if the coin toss had gone the other way?

I guess we'll never know.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Earth:Harmless/WikiGuide)
So, just out of curiosity...

[Poll #1331652]

Feel free to elaborate in comments, natch.

EDIT: If I did it right, it should be posting to a "twitter" filter - tell me if you want on it.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (darwin has a posse)
From my IRA trust co., a letter dated Dec. 29 (arrived a few days ago):

Dear IRA Investor:

In an uncertain market environment—like the one we've experienced over the past several months—it's more important than ever to continue to focus on your long-term goals such as retirement. That's why we would like to remind you that you have until April 15, 2009 to maximize your retirement savings by making a contribution to your IRA account(s) for the 2008 tax year.


From my IRA trust co., a Year-End 2008 Mutual Fund Statement (arrived today):

Activity Summary
This QuarterYear-to-Date
Beginning Value$3,402.22$0.00
Additions0.004,000.00
Deductions0.0020.00
Income34.1834.18
Market Fluctuation-945.52-1,523.30
Ending Value$2,490.88$2,490.88
Net Change-$911.34$2,490.88


Of course, the real punchline is that they're doing a good job. (:
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (butterfly)
A quick survey of the readership. Post your replies below if you so desire! Hat-tip to [livejournal.com profile] joee_girl, who got it from one [livejournal.com profile] composingliger...

YOU
1. Name:
2. Date of birth:
3. Where you live:
4. What makes you happy:
5. Currently listening/the last thing you listened to:
6. Do you read my journal?:
7. If yes, what makes it especially good or bad?:
8. An interesting fact about you:
9. What do you love at the moment?:
10. Favourite place to spend time:
11. Favourite lyric:
12. The best time of the year:

RECOMMEND
A. A film:
B. A book:
C. A band, a song, or album:

PLUS
I. One thing you like about me:
II. Two things you like about yourself:
III. Look at my friends-list and tell what you like about one of our mutual friends:
IV. Put this in your journal so that I can tell you what I like about you.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)

A lot of resolutions, from the mundane to the truly ambitious, are being made today. What are your New Year's resolutions? Do you think you're likely to stick to them past the month of January?

View other answers



Oh, I should make some of these!

1. Practice being calm when being calm is the best strategy - most prominently, when receiving unwanted advice. (I was going to say "senseless courtesy", but civility sometimes requires rudeness.)

2. Ride my bicycle more, building up to commuting to school on it.

3. Reclaim time from those pleasures which do not give me much pleasure, and gather up fragments of time, lest they perish.

4. Work out the list of things I need need to pay attention to (my financial status, my health care coverage, my health, my...) and pay attention to those things.

...okay, those seem like good ideas. I'll leave them there.

Biking!

Dec. 30th, 2008 05:16 pm
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (cctrail)
Finally went out to ride my bike again today. Last Friday, I'd walked to the local bicycle shop to waste my money on invest in various essential biking accessories, but the combination of bad weather, intersemester schedule lapse ("Are you staying up until 2 a.m. or something?" "Err..."), and the bicycle shop being closed Mondays meant I put off actually riding until today.

First, I went out to pump up the tires (first taking Dad's running stuff off the handlebars). Whereupon I realized I had no clue how much air they needed. So: up the stairs to my laptop and the Webbernets, which promptly informed me that (1) my bike was worth less than a meal at Taco Bell and (2) I needed to know the size of the tires. Back down the stairs, borrow a ruler, 1-1/8 inches is about 28 mm, and - back up the stairs - assuming 35 kg load per tire (reasonable) that makes 80 psi. Back down the stairs.

Then the helmet. I do most shamefully confess - after ten minutes of irritating helmet-adjusting, I simply gave up, pulled everything tight that could be tightened, and said, "Good enough".

(I also skipped putting on my LED taillight. Ironically, the headlight, which I did put on, was absolutely useless.)

After all the aggravation, I was quite glad to walk it out along the sidewalks to the nearest bike trail. And I was ecstatic to be riding again. There is very little I enjoy more than cycling - the effort required to maintain a pace my hindbrain reads as fast is quite easily within even my untrained capacities, even on (slight) uphills.

That said, I was feeling a little woozy after the first 1.5 miles, so I stopped in at a gas station to buy candy and energy drink. After that, I was doing quite well.

Anyway, in the end, I skipped the bicycle shop. After all, it was a cheap, old bike, and I was going to meet with some of me bro's friends (my acquaintances) and play "Left 4 Dead" at the internet cafe this evening. I'll go some other day.

Much fun, today.
packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (twisty little passages)
In response to [livejournal.com profile] shatterstripes, [livejournal.com profile] ceruleanst, and [livejournal.com profile] tracerj simultaneously:

  • Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
    • I mean it. Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the closest.
    • ...straight line to the centroid of your head, if you have to ask.

  • Turn to page 56.
    • Count if you have to. Start on the first page (including the title) of Chapter One, and remember to count both sides of the page.

  • Find the fifth sentence.
    • No, a colon doesn't end a sentence.
    • Yes, a question-mark ends a sentence.

  • Post that sentence along with these instructions on your LJ.

"All part of the show."

(Dag, two fifty-plus word sentences to start the page and I hit the five-word? The book is Rhyme's Reason, John Hollander.)

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packbat: One-quarter view of the back of my head. (Default)
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