vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
If you're not a conservative voter with a dog in this fight, watching Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and whoever else is running for the GOP nomination this week try to hold on to front-runner status has been great slapstick, like watching a cruel experiment involving baboons, laughing gas and a forklift. No matter how many times you ring the bell, those poor animals are never going to figure out how to move that pallet of bananas – yet they keep trying, taking the sorry show from one state to the next, over and over, as if something is going to change.

The latest ape to fall off the heavy machinery is Romney, who in a single week before the South Carolina primary went from near-certain nominee to national punch line, in genuine peril of becoming one of America's all-time electoral catastrophes. ...

... Less than a week after New Hampshire, Romney committed a series of gaffes that revealed his crucial character flaw: He's a hypernervous control freak who flips out if you try digging around below the paper-thin veneer of his schlock patriotic presentation. The robotic Mormon financier looks like a walking OCD diagnosis, a trim coil of tightly wound energy with perfect coif and tie, seemingly living in permanent terror of a single hair falling out of place. For this type of anal-retentive personality, the messy chaos of South Carolina was a phobic horror. Faced with actual opposition, he lost his grip on everything. At a time when a quarter of the population has zero or negative net worth, when outrage against the financial elite is at an all-time high on both sides of the political aisle, Romney, it turns out, is so weirdly tone-deaf about his status as a one-percenter and bloodsucking corporate raider that any question in that direction sends his eyes pinwheeling. As his electably boring-mannequin act began to crumble, his carefully concealed true self – a deluded gazillionaire nitwit – was suddenly thrust naked onstage for all of America to gape at.
Read the whole thing. It's the "It Came From Wasilla" for our generation or something.

(h/t: the no comment guy)
vaecrius: A round squishy plush lobster bursts out of the blue. (cock lobster)
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (Default)

(locked because the linked post forum is also locked and I am sheeples) [2014-09-28 that is the worst excuse for a lock ever]
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
Borges on the duration of Hell.

Not a fan of his own favourite myself, for reasons only a few of which are nakedly self-serving and lay, but I am struck at how close this is to a bit of setting fluff for one of our RPG settings:
[Rothe] advocates, finally, a declining, dwindling life for sinners. He foresees them roaming the banks of Creation, or the voids of infinite space, barely sustaining themselves with the leftovers of life. He concludes: As the devils are unconditionally distant from God and are unconditionally His enemies, their activity is against the kingdom of God, and they have organized themselves into a diabolical kingdom, which naturally must choose a leader. The head of that demoniacal government - the Devil - must be imagined as changing. The individuals who assume the throne of that kingdom eventually succumb to the ghostliness of their being, but they are succeeded by their diabolical descendants (Dogmatik I, 248).

rpgs: tdtwwa,pyxolytical: clothed ape,personal: matt is dumb: many stories

This is the best fucking blog ever. The baby trilobites will it.

linkdump: death by awesome

Read this entire post. Remember it every single time you ever read or watch anything on the news about global events ever again.

pyxolytical: clothed ape,political: hoplophilia,political: checkered flag

The Ichthyophagous Club. If nothing else, the starfish bisque article is an inspiration.

pyxolytical: not a vegan,linkdump: fruitcake,pyxolytical: ideas

On a less wonderful note, here's some confirmation of what I've suspected for a while now: the willpower mantra too is based on raw cake-eating privilege.
Nobody except the most out-of-touch billionaire needs telling that having less money means making painful sacrifices. But combining this with the depletable willpower theory suggests a bitter twist: that making those sacrifices makes you less capable of doing the things – saving money, say, or giving up a pricey smoking habit – that could lay the foundations of a life with fewer sacrifices. The Princeton economist Dean Spears had his researchers show up in Indian villages, offering a discount deal on soap, then administering tests of self-control. For the poorest people, just considering whether to take the soap deal proved a cognitive imposition. "Choosing first," Spears wrote, "was depleting only for the poorer participants." Poverty, it seems, is indeed bound up with willpower, and the leftwing temptation to see things only in terms of impersonal social forces is mistaken. But it's not that failures of will cause poverty. It's that poverty causes failures of will.
And for independent if anecdotal demonstration of how that works, I now link for reference John Cheese's Cracked article about what being poor is like.

And now, for something less depressing, here are some awesome comics about murder and creepiness! (better than it sounds) Also, Dune.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)

The man who would live forever

There in the field stands the man who would live forever.

He sways a little in the wind and you can see the sweat slick sometimes on hot days. Mushrooms sprout from the sores and where the shit runs down.

The grove covers much of the field, protecting birds and rabbits that nest among him.

Every so often a storm or some passing animal would break off one of the many thousands of limbs and spines and gnarled half-formed figures in the grove. The piece would fall somewhere, roll off, sink in, take root - and there's more of him next season.

He doesn't move much himself. Stopped caring before any of our grandmas' grandmas were born. Just sorta stands there, that grove out there taking over the field, growing and dropping off bits and growing even more and taking over more of the field.

It's hard work, cutting and plowing so we can grow crops around him like we used to. Every year it feels there's a little less field and a little more him. Hard, back-breaking work for hard folk, honest to a fault.

I suppose if we were more business-like we could just put him out of his misery while no one's looking and take the field back, but who are we to defy the nature that made him what he is?
vaecrius: A round squishy plush lobster bursts out of the blue. (cock lobster)
My work explores the relationship between first person shooters and the historiography of sado-masochistic religious homoerotica.

With influences as diverse as Robert Howard and Robert Halford, new paradigms are evolved through both noblesavage-pastoral and technocratic dystopias.

Ever since I was a little girl I have been fascinated by the transcendent hallucination of erotopathy. What starts out as sacrilege soon becomes fragmented into a sepulchritude of acedic lyser-jism, leaving only a sense of wounded schadenfreude and the remnants of a new culture of blasphemy.

As fractal spaces become synthesized through metallic and tellurinfernal practice, the viewer is left with a seedy aftertaste of the central lizard-brain impulses of our aspirations.

Meanwhile, [personal profile] furikku links to The World Peace Game, which is basically the polar opposite of the above link.
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
[2011.05.09 EDIT for typoes and holy crap did I just accidentally a whole analogy there]

I'm going to have to make a disclaimer for the following link. When someone has a thing in their personality and someone finds a piece of their brain that is different and therefore may be causally connected, that says nothing to the effect that this personality thing is a more fundamental part of their "nature" or whatever. It is merely an attempt to find some kind of underlying mechanism for it, no less than wondering whether Bob from accounting is walking funny because of the Olestra incident or because of the stomach flu going around.

With that said:
A study at University College London in the UK has found that conservatives' brains have larger amygdalas than the brains of liberals. Amygdalas are responsible for fear and other "primitive" emotions. At the same time, conservatives' brains were also found to have a smaller anterior cingulate -- the part of the brain responsible for courage and optimism.
With that said, from the description in the (badly twisted) Telegraph article linked therein, the entire study may be fatally flawed. :V

But it does mesh very well with my own subjective feeling of what's happening when I hold on to various ideas on either end of the spectrum.

A thing to remember about your unemployed friends. I've been in both positions, as the get-a-job-nagger and the get-a-job-naggee, and I should know that feeling well. Maslow's hierarchy ought to explain it enough, I think, but compared to the actual feeling it is grossly insufficient in its level of abstraction.
A lot of people seem to think it’s as easy as working your butt off and striving for something better. I can tell you from personal experience, it’s not that easy. You have no hope, so why even try? And yes, it does hurt to try. Every ignored application is another reason to just end it all. It hurts. It kills you. It just furthers your belief that you’re a worthless pile of shit that doesn’t even deserve looking at. And of course, everyone tries to help. “Call them up, you have to follow up on the application.” “Send your transcript.” “Go over there and talk to the hiring manager.” It’s all snake-oil…none of it works. And it just makes you feel worse. And it runs up the phone bill. Don’t even get me started on transcripts.
For what it's worth, the only jobs I've ever gotten were based largely on who I already knew.

Which is why even the drafters of the American Constitution seriously contemplated a social safety net.

And now, Richard Dawkins reading his hate mail in a dramatic voice.
vaecrius: A round squishy plush lobster bursts out of the blue. (cock lobster)
O beloved Father, deathless Lord of the North,
Your crimson shroud the light of worlds,
Majestic above all beneath Your polar throne,
Hear now our cry, your awful Visage
Bear down and grant grace to Your steadfast servants.

Cut we now the throat of the sacrifice,
Him once high, brought low, now revered
With wreath of heart-blood red and undying green
Upon this frozen altar, melting under the heat
Amidst this forest phallic, of cedar, snow and gore,
We revere this great one, whose holy blood
We paint upon his nose, in memory of the One
Who led the force of salvation to the world of men.

Hear us now, O Lord of hosts!
Your servants are legion, born free,
Whose chains ring through the night.
We, who forged in pain of this benighted earth
Raise our swords, our steins, our ecstatic bloody hearts
In one voice, joyful and triumphant,
Come and bless Your Name.

Great Thing-Giver, proud Guardian of wealth and worth,
Your unstoppable Spirit bless these holy days.
Red as dusk, white as stars,
Your mass and grace rumble across the nine worlds!
Your enemies tremble and crumble to dust in the wind!
Your perfect Name be known for ever and ever!

Known of all of good and evil,
Your black northern Wind -

Cleanse this world of its iniquities.
vaecrius: A round squishy plush lobster bursts out of the blue. (cock lobster)
Quote of the day:
I don't remember Tolkien ever saying that the hobbits were white. Elves, yes. But the hobbits, and the men of Laketown, and even the dwarves? No. In fact, I'd love to see nothing but brown hobbits in the movie. That would kick ass.

Second quote of the day:
South Korean defense minister Kim Tae-young was questioned by one politician why the South's retaliation was delayed 13 minutes and not forceful enough, to which Kim replied, "This isn't StarCraft."

It makes perfect logical sense. If you want to bring your nation to the same point as the imperialist oppressors your nation was founded in opposition of, you will have to make a few changes.

Also, shoop of the day, courtesy of Prof. Zwicky.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
Once upon a time the tortoise saved the crow from a very messy divorce. The tortoise waited and waited for the crow's husband to fly by the water, then snapped him up in his beak and dragged him to their nest where he slowly and steadily heard out the two quarrelling birds, and spoke gently but forcefully and they parted ways worn out but relieved, a full and final and perfectly fair settlement soon to be granted by consent order.

The hare was astonished, for he was formerly retained by the crow and knew how horrible it had been, and asked the tortoise for the trick he surely had up his scaly sleeve. Hard work and patience, no tricks to it, was all the tortoise would say.

So the hare spent days in the shadows, secretly following the tortoise around in his daily routes. He learned that before speaking to any angry animal, the tortoise would pace about by the old beavers' den, mumble a passage of Psalms, and eat a small cup of barley with a sprig of mint, upon which the tortoise would seem to be met with a great sense of calm. Aha! thought the hare, surely this was the trick the tortoise was hiding!

One day the lion was having terrible trouble with his fifteenth wife, who insisted that one of her cubs was his when "surely" he knew it was not. Sadly, the lion being a lion was a-lyin', and confided this with the hare who promised to settle the matter between them without the lion paying a thing.

And so the hare went out into the savannah to speak to the lioness. But before this he passed by the old beaver pond, and remembered his routine. The hare paced about by the old beavers' den, mumbled a passage of Psalms, and ate the small cup of barley with a sprig of mint he brought with him, upon which the hare seemed to be met with a great sense of calm. And so he approached the lioness.

Who, after about a minute, nearly killed him.

What did I do wrong!? exclaimed the hare later as he nursed (and anaesthetized) his wounds over drinks. I followed your trick perfectly! It works for you, why not me?

The tortoise nodded and a smile seemed to grow across his face as he sipped his Indian pale ale.

Hard work and patience, no tricks to it, was all he would say.
In other news,

Every day for eight days, post something that made you happy, and then tag someone.

Being sufficiently prepared in a case to face directly the realization that the other party is neither a gibbering baby nor a brutal monster and that they have legitimate interests and concerns, while still being convinced enough of the client's legal rights to believe that we will and (barring some future negotiation that allows a full and final settlement) should proceed to win.


Sadly I've already tagged the one person who reads this who also works at a law office, so... it seems I've run out of people who are close enough to trust to forgive an unsolicited tag, so I'm just going to do this:

Every day for eight days, post something that made you happy, and then tag someone.

Locked since it would be, like, super-obvious to the parties given the timing. I'll probably review this in about a year or whenever. EDIT as of 2012.02.22: Not only is the file closed, but the way it actually turned out what I've written here isn't very descriptive of it at all. :(
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
"We invest enormous resources in teaching children written language and very few in even discussing spoken language. It's hardly surprising that some people get the idea that written language is "correct" while spoken language is some kind of debased variant.

Two tools.

More are needed.

Every snowflake in the avalanche is unique and insignificant.

"He has these huge shoulders and a tiny little head, it's a running joke around here." I think I'm too easily amused.

[personal profile] conuly links to something about a mortgage broker who's using obscure squatters' rights laws to grab foreclosed properties in Flordia. Possibly better than that sounds.
(Well I think it's pretty obscure anyway, having always worked in a jurisdiction where this sort of thing has been specifically statute-barred for as long as anyone could remember...)

'In his November 2009 ruling, Judge Spinner of Suffolk County blasted OneWest for negotiating with an "opprobrious demeanor and condescending attitude." He also cited the bank's "duplicity" in offering a forbearance agreement with a deadline that had already passed and for presenting contradictory paperwork claiming different amounts for what the family owed.'

The federal US government subsidizes more local artistic talent than previously believed.
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
"At two o'clock Bob told me that it was eight. Six hours later, I learned that he was right."

Here is a link about groups of animals being more than the sum of their parts. Also, in hindsight it should be common sense, but apparently groups full of people who positively work well in groups do better than groups full of people each of whom is very bright.

However, apparently some competence is necessary and the working well in groups must not merely mean commanding those cognitively helpless to disobey. In before [personal profile] helarxe says something snarky about his country being worse. "But [JP Morgan Chase spokesman Thomas] Kelly added that the bank believes that all the underlying facts of the cases involved in the document fraud allegations are true." Believes... if only it were at all justified or true.

I'm posting this not for the OP but for the comments:
Questions like #2 are bogus because they assume oversimplified microeconomic models of competition. In reality, big businesses commonly compete by rent-seeking rather than by tinkering with quality or price. They rationally calculate that bribing some government officials for regulatory favors will cost them less than revising manufacturing processes or reducing prices.
Here's one that sums up a lot of how I feel, right or wrong, about reading most things on economics:
When I first started teaching economics to HS seniors (a required course in CA), I got a lot of resistance to concepts in the introductory unit, mostly things like assuming a zero sum game or misunderstanding comparative advantage. However, their resistance to the rational actor presumption was especially strong and turned out to be essentially correct despite being based on nothing but their own intuition. Several years later I came across behavioral economics and appreciated their insight. Teens are sufficiently drenched in emotion to call bullshit on neoclassical nonsense right out of the gate.
The only good answer to 1, of course, without the ability to inquire much further, is "I don't know".
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
The original article seems almost trollish in its nominal premise, to the point where I'm beginning to suspect that to get people talking about the subject by whatever means necessary was the intent. The comments rebutting it, especially the one with the David Quammen quote, are giving me one of those "if I hold on to this long enough it's almost possible for me to believe in God" moments.

Meanwhile... I'm looking for a parable about the usefulness of things, and there's one I read a long time ago that reads something like, ~What use is the ground to you? You never use anything more than the bit of it under your feet, but let the rest of it fall away into the depths below and see if you find it so useless~. I could've sworn it was from Chuangtze but I couldn't find a thing.
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
Before you begin to read this, please click here and watch the first video. Consider how completely batshit insane it is when he starts talking about taxes, redistribution and the courts. (If this is not batshit insane to you, and you are not already fundamentally opposed to the entire Anglo-American legal tradition from the Normans to today, you may need some history. I can go through the particulars in the comments if need be.)

J. M. Bernstein cuts to the heart of what the teabaggers are really about.
Tea Party anger is, at bottom, metaphysical, not political: what has been undone by the economic crisis is the belief that each individual is metaphysically self-sufficient, that one’s very standing and being as a rational agent owes nothing to other individuals or institutions. The opposing metaphysical claim, the one I take to be true, is that the very idea of the autonomous subject is an institution, an artifact created by the practices of modern life: the intimate family, the market economy, the liberal state. Each of these social arrangements articulate and express the value and the authority of the individual; they give to the individual a standing she would not have without them.
It's taken me the past ten years of slow, numb heartbreak to get to being able to agree with the part I've bolded.

My mind keeps going back to the most iconic ideal of this, the rugged frontier settler taming the wild West. How far would they have gotten - what would they have become - if the government hadn't stepped in to force land rights in their favour, to ignore and genocide those who actually owned and kept that "wild" land? This entire idea of freedom and autonomy was only ever possible through a direct, forcible government redistribution program on a scale we as a species might never see again - and, given what had to be ignored and who had to be unperson'd to do it, probably shouldn't.

I was about to say something about racist fellow travellers who aren't really about all this so much as an unspeakable resentment of a black Ivy League academic holding the highest office in the nation. But thinking back to the above paragraph, and how the Civil War was framed as either about slavery or about freedom for the slaveholders, and the utterly pathological dehumanization we're seeing in Arizona now... it's all about externalities and keeping them external. I'm starting to think it's all about a desperate last stand to save the perceived individual atomism of the classical liberal ideal.

Read the whole column. The jilted lover stuff seems a bit out of place at first, but it's explained in due course and the frame fits hideously well.

On a side note, a sci-fi short story idea: Alien "hive mind" species comes in contact with humanity, absorbs and begins to imitate Western liberal constructs about the individual. Story begins in the middle of the species' inexorable decline to extinction within five generations.

EDIT: Another: Protean sheikhs.
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (Default)
[16:11] [ profile] vaecrius: yes
[16:11] [ profile] kavitykrunch: yes
The problem of explaining Israel to your kids.
I stumbled desperately through an explanation of why two peoples feel they have a legitimate claim to the same land.

“But having land is like having a seat on a bus,” Josie replied. “You can’t just push someone out of their seat, and you can’t just leave your seat and then come back to it after a long time and just expect the person who is sitting there now to give it to you.”

My panicked reaction to her words surprised me. I found myself trying to convince her that Israel did have that right. But that’s not what I believe. But I’m not sure what I believe. I want my children to love Israel, but I don’t want them to identify with bullies. I was spinning in my own head like the desperate, overwhelmed woman in the Calgon commercial: J Street, take me away!

But Josie’s bus-bully analogy resonated. Baby-boomer Jews seem wedded to a sepia-toned image of Jews as victims—in the shtetl, in the Holocaust, in Israel’s early wars. But in real life, victims can turn into bullies. Perhaps being the parent to girls, rather than boys, helps me see this—in Mean Girl dynamics, the power shifts back and forth almost every day. We want a bright clear line, but heroes and villains in the real world are much fuzzier.
More David Wong telling us what's wrong with our lives! :D I must say, as a guy who basically plays only indies and oldies specifically designed to run on nearly any hardware that hasn't likely broken from natural wear and tear, the anecdote on #2 is... startling.


As is the very decision as to choosing his #1.
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (Default)
Hey [ profile] tungol, remember our MSN convo earlier when I brought up our system's incentive to keep "normal" defined as something at a certain unsustainable distance from "healthy"?

Right after that I find this link... (warning: possible depression triggers, unless it doesn't in which case it's fucking hilarious)

And now I go flush the fuck out of my brain.

I know this

if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.


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