wombat_socho: Wombat (EVE)
Cut for people who don't care about EVE-Online )
wombat_socho: Wombat (Politics)
Had a moderately frustrating (and thankfully brief) discussion with a friend this weekend about the whole debt limit thing. He didn't get the hardline insistence by the Democrats on not cutting spending, and really didn't get the GOP's stubborn refusal to even consider raising taxes. At all. He seemed convinced that at some point Boehner was going to cut a deal, and was troubled by my insistence that if that happened, his head would be on a spike in less than a day.
Cut because some of you are sick to death of politics )
wombat_socho: Wombat (DC)
Yesterday was pretty much eaten by snakes; couldn't get to sleep Wednesday night, and couldn't get back to sleep after doing Live At Five, so I was barely functional for most of the day
and crashed around 4-5 PM. Slept for about ten hours, got up and did my linkagery, and since then I've been moderately productive. Still not going out to PRSFS; it may be on the Metro and there may be parking, but as I write this I am feeling fatigued and not all that sociable.

I found this while doing a random walk through the internets. Maybe it'll work better for you; changing my perceptions of objective reality is just too much work at the moment, thanks.
wombat_socho: Wombat (the mark)
I'm giving up on The Gormenghast Trilogy and taking it back to the library tomorrow. There's a whole lot of nothing happening, and although it's exquisitely described, it's about as interesting as my Basic Tax Preparation text, which at least rewards me with useful knowledge. Not recommended unless you don't think Lovecraft was prolix and turgid enough for you.

A Storm of Swords fills the gap between A Clash of Kings and A Feast for Crows. Jesus X. Christ, what a crapsack world. By the time you get to the end of the fourth novel, pretty much everyone likable or honorable is either dead, fleeing for their lives, and/or has broken one or another of their vows. Which isn't to say the bad guys don't get hosed, but there's a strong implication that the merely corrupt and stupid Lannisters are going to be replaced by something much worse.

Moving right along to the real world, P recommended The Dead Hand to me, and I have to say that having lived through the Cold War, it brings back a lot of unpleasant memories, because we didn't KNOW what a primitive bunch of screwheads the Soviets really were. The book is about half diplomatic history of the arms control efforts between the US and the Soviet Union and half --formerly-- secret history of the USSR's strategic weapons programs, many of which were notable mainly for paranoid secrecy and a comically sinister ineptitude grounded in the inefficient nature of the Soviet economy. There's plenty of nightmare fuel in the chapters pertaining to the bioweapons program, but since I'm only two-thirds of the way through the book and the Soviet Union has just collapsed, I'm sure there's worse stuff waiting. Anyway, it's definitely worth reading if you were around at the time and even more so if you weren't. Either way, you're going to learn something.

I stopped reading Harold Coyle's books quite a while ago, probably for the same reason I quit reading Dale Brown; after the USSR stopped being the USSR, there just wasn't another credible high-tech global menace around for the US to whang on. I probably should have stayed away from Dead Hand as well, because it's not at all up to the standard of his debut, Team Yankee, or even the last novel of his that I recall reading, The Ten Thousand. I am especially annoyed at the huge chunk of expository asteroid science stuff that ate five minutes of my life this afternoon without advancing the plot to any measurable degree (and was done much better in Lucifer's Hammer anyway) and given the various reviews on amazon.com, I doubt it's going to get much better.

Well, that was depressing and annoying. I think I'm going to find something cheerful to read as a bedtime book. Some David Drake or something.
wombat_socho: Wombat (Politics)
Cobb expanded somewhat on his Peasant Theory yesterday, but I think that while that theory explains a lot of stuff, it has the same problem as a lot of other analysis based on pure economics. There's something missing. In fact, there's a LOT missing, and surprisingly, that something which the Peasant Theory fails to take into account is faith.

Faith doesn't have to be religious, and I would go so far as to say that for a lot of people on the political left, it is in fact anti-religious, since the New Left (like their Progressive and Fascist forebears) sees religion as an annoying impediment to the all-powerful State they are working to create. The New Left believes in the ideology that gives their movement power, or just in the power itself; this is the fundamental difference between the various factions of the New Left. Some factions want power for its own sake, since power will bring you the trappings of wealth -a comfortable life and the ability to act with a fair degree of impunity- while other factions want power so that they can force the peasantry to do tings that achieve their desired ends, no matter how objectively insane, evil or just stupid those ends might be.

On the right, though, the ideology is different. There is an innate respect for the rules of society, grounded in the Constitution, and for many on the right, that respect for the rules is rooted in religious faith, whose social rules complement and reinforce the public law. The right is wary of power and its temptations, and treats it very much like a radioactive substance that will inflict sickness, weakness and (possibly) insanity on prolonged exposure. Thus the recurring call for term limits, which comes from this belief that power ultimately corrupts even the best men. Modern American conservatism is at a place between the old social conservatism that wished to gain power and enforce their social vision on the nation and the new populist libertarianism that wants the overly powerful federal government brought to heel and cut down to size. This is a war, and they are soldiers in it; they are not peasants, but bourgeoisie who see their nation being reshaped by apparatchiks into something they don't recognize, and they don't like it.

This is why I think outsiders like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and Sarah Palin have a shot this time around*. Americans are tired of professional politicians, since they see "professionals", the so-called "Best and the Brightest" as being the problem, not the solution. We have spent this Administration being governed by the Harvard elites, and now we want the Boston phone book so we can take the first thousand names and hope they do a better job**, because they can't possibly do worse than this. The peasants are going to stay home in 2012, because politics is boring, and Obama The God-King was a disappointing failure, and as a result, the bourgeoise are going to hold a peaceful counterrevolution instead.

*I admit to supporting Bachmann and Palin partially because I enjoy trolling my liberal friends.
**To paraphrase the late WFB Jr.
wombat_socho: Wombat (the mark)
This was sparked by [livejournal.com profile] morenasangre' s post here, which probably says all the stuff I'm going to say a lot better...
cut for emo blathering )
wombat_socho: Wombat (EVE)
So I'm looking at all the stuff that's going on next week, what with P coming back to town, the projected hegira to Newport News and thence to Otakon with [livejournal.com profile] onsenmark, and whatever the heck is going to happen over the 4th of July*. P will be arriving in town on Monday; not sure when she's shipping out to Minneapolis for Convergence, but I would assume Thursday since that's when the new five-day version kicks off.

Piled onto this will be a flurry of bill-paying and shopping in mid-week, since (hopefully) I'll have my unemployment payments resuming on the 29th followed by the big check from the Alexandria City Public Schools the next day. Most of that will go for rent, of course, phone payments and other utilities, but there will be a little extra cash to do fun stuff (like a.f.u. no Breakfast) which is all I really need to keep my head away from the Slough of Despond.

One of my friends hasn't been so fortunate. It's been a tough stretch for her lately, what with ongoing physical and emotional problems even before her pet died, and I'm going to make the effort to reach out and at least say hi; since she lives on the other end of DC, I don't know that I'll actually be able to stop by in person, but on the other hand, it looks like I'm going to be driving up to Baltimore a couple times next week, so stopping off in between isn't completely out of the question.

I've started A Feast For Crows and am already wishing I'd waited to read A Storm Of Swords first; there's been quite a few references to things that have happened in the South, which is the half of Martin's original third book covered in the latter. As for Gormenghast...wow. It's certainly living up to its dual forewords by Anthony Burgess and Quentin Crisp who bang on for about a dozen pages in toto about how unique Peake's work is. I don't think I've read anything quite like this before. Not even Lovecraft comes close to the sheer weight of descriptive prose used on the COMPLETELY FUCKING BATSHIT inhabitants of this here castle. I'm going to keep plugging on; it makes good reading while I'm playing Farmville In Space and trying not to get ganked by random assholes wandering through Goonswarm space.
Cut to spare people who don't care about internet spaceships )






*Hint: Not Otakon.
**This is usually me, every other month or so. A Badger A Day In DKUK, Hey!
wombat_socho: Wombat (DC)
Would you like to know more? )

Upgraded to Firefox 5.0, which does seem somewhat faster than 4.0, but has a distressing tendency to lock up while viewing Plonsky on FB. In addition, Foxytunes no longer works in version 5.0, but that's a minor annoyance.
wombat_socho: Wombat (DC)
I was surprised and pleased to find this (and its sequel, A Clash of Kings) on a book rack in the recreation center part of Patrick Henry Elementary, where I've been working as a special ed para these last couple of weeks.
Would you like to know more? )
Meanwhile, back in real life, the second half of June is going to be interesting since the unemployment insurance has stopped while I'm on this para assignment and the pay from the Alexandria Public Schools is delayed by two weeks. This means I'm not getting any income until the end of the month, at which time I'll get paid for the first nine days of the assignment. Whether I'll actually have my unemployment restarted by then is a good question. We'll see what happens.
wombat_socho: Wombat (Masha. Darling.)
Joel Rosenberg is dead.
Condolences to [livejournal.com profile] fgherman and his daughters.

He was a good SF/fantasy writer and a tireless advocate for RKBA, and he will be missed.
wombat_socho: Wombat (HALO)
Baen has a Heinlein Quiz posted at their website which is tougher than it looks.
I only got 15/20, myself - and this after reading the first volume of his biography. :(
(Instapundit)
wombat_socho: Wombat (WTF)
This article sums up pretty much everything I find ridiculous about the foodie movement. The whole point of a Big Mac is that it's cheap, tasty, and YOU DON'T HAVE TO MAKE IT YOURSELF. Taking the time and trouble to go through all the steps in that blog to produce something that is, arguably, not a significant improvement over the original in taste (to say nothing of price) is completely insane.

Don't get me wrong - I'm totally on board with the idea of spending more to get a better-quality burger, which is why I often stopped at Five Guys or Wendy's back when I was in the market for burgers, but re-engineering something unique to McDonald's (or any other fast food joint) is just dumb and wrong. The whole concept of fast food is that it is fast. You don't have to cook it, much less sperg about the actual number of sesame seeds on the bun and come up with a way to get just the right density. (Instapundit)
wombat_socho: Wombat (DC)
According to this article, my present residence is #2 on the list of America's best-read cities. I can buy that; in addition to the Barnes & Noble at Potomac Yards, there's quite a few used book stores around Old Town and the other neighborhoods, and the city library compares well with the system in Minneapolis - quite aside from not having to merge with Fairfax County, as MPL had to do with Hennepin County.


I do like the comment here about why Cambridge is #1. Hint: it has nothing to do with Harvard. :)
wombat_socho: Wombat (Happy)
Sinfest reads from the book of love.
Terminal Lance examines re-enlistment incentives.
Moe Lane spotlights a deplorable truth about steampunk.
wombat_socho: Wombat (DC)
One of the things I want to get done for the benefit of my kids, my nieces and various friends is a small online museum showing what Bolling AFB looked like from 1969-1976, because it's changed a lot since then and is almost unrecognizable to me now. Sure, most of the major landmarks like the old hangars and the 1100th Air Base Wing building by the main entrance are still there, but what I remember (among other things) are the vast expanses of land where the runways used to be and the tracts of WW2-era "temporary" buildings were the DIA building is now. It gave the base a more open feel, a sense of wide open spaces in the middle of the city.

I also remember a lot of other buildings that aren't there any more, some of which were torn down (or dug up) even before I left the area in 1979. The ammo bunkers by the Navy gate, the old commissary/PX building, the old NCO club and its pool, the tiny library over by the AP station...and all the temporary buildings wedged in here and there around the base. Looking at the map these days is almost like looking at some foreign land; many of the landmarks I used to know are gone, and some of the streets have been renamed. Well, as Dad said once when I was complaining that my godfather had rebuilt my godmother's house on Laurel Avenue to his own satisfaction, you can't expect people to live in a museum. True enough. But there ought to be some record of the way it was, somewhere; and if Jim Lileks can manage to record terabytes of information about the way Minneapolis used to be, surely I can spend some time doing the same for Bolling. I never was an actual resident of the place, in the sense that my Dad never had quarters there, but I could make a good argument that I lived there more than anywhere else for a good part of my childhood.
wombat_socho: Wombat (dead wombat)
Electrical brain stimulation v. Alzheimer's. First a cure for depression, and now this...it makes you wonder what else might be accomplished by a gentle prodding of other neurons, as opposed to electroshock. (Via [livejournal.com profile] haikujaguar's LJ )
wombat_socho: Wombat (the mark)
It occurred to me today that most of the people Facebook is recommending I friend fall into one of two categories: people in Minnesota I'm unlikely to see even if I go back to Convergence one of these days, and former high school classmates I haven't seen in thirty-plus years. Okay, there's also a pile of voice actors recommended to me because I know people at Detour who know them, either on staff or in the industry.

But I don't really know any of these people, you know? Not in the sense that they're really friends; most of them are people I met once or twice, might have worked with at one convention or another, but I haven't heard from them since I left the Great American Desert and moved down here. So I don't feel any great urge to reconnect with them, because that would imply that there was some sort of connection before Facebook, and there really wasn't. If there was, I would have gone ahead and clicked the box by now. Or they would have clicked on their box and asked me if I wanted to friend them back. Either way, I don't have any illusions about really being part of these peoples' lives.

Since I'm not interested in accumulating a pile of "friends" I don't really know and don't have that much to do with (even online), I try to be careful and not "friend" people I don't actually know in real life. Most people are pretty cool with that, and those that aren't, well, too bad. I'm basically treating Facebook the same way I do LJ: it's there for my convenience, not that of random strangers, and part of that is not adding people I don't know, with very, very few exceptions. I know there's people out there who just hoover up all kinds of acquaintances, friends of friends, and people they met once at a party or maybe it was a bar but they were kinda wasted at the time so...anyway. I don't understand those people, and have no great urge to be one of them.
wombat_socho: Wombat (Politics)
Kevin D. Williamson provides a useful look back at the largely-forgotten John Kenneth Galbraith and the not nearly obscure enough Lord Keynes in Judge, Jury, and Economist. If nothing else, it's a good reminder that a lot of what socialists proclaim to be "science" is in fact based on nothing of the kind.
wombat_socho: Wombat (DC)
This was one of those weekends which reminded me how lucky I am to have such a wide range of friends and also prodded me out of my near-agoraphobic basement-dwelling existence, both of which are Good Things. I mean, I get along well with all kinds of people, including people you'd think would be slowly backing away from me and making warding gestures as they did so, and every so often I get to go out and hang with a bunch of people who apparently have next to nothing in common with me. Yet, it somehow winds up being a good time.

Saturday wasn't like that; I went up to Reston to hang out with my old friend Mark, watch movies (about which more later) burn steaks, and talk about stuff. We wound up seeing several classic movies: Night of the Hunter (downright WEIRD), the original Cat People (AWESOME), and Curse of the Cat People, which latter was bitterly disappointing since it has all the elements for a bloody revenge filled sequel to the first movie, but instead wound up being this sappy and only occasionally creepy movie about a little girl's invisible friend who JUST HAPPENS to be the ghost of Daddy's ex-wife. You know, the one who used to turn into a panther and stalk Mommy in order to claw her to ribbons? But the ghostly invisible friend doesn't do that, so unlike the original it is Not Recommended. We also watched episodes 4&5 of Game of Thrones, which is just getting more hardcore and awesome as it progresses. So much treachery and brutal awesomeness. I am definitely going to have to drop by the library and pick up the original books now, because I'm positive there's a lot of additional stuff I'm missing.

Now Sunday was interesting. Old classmate Tish Hall, who when last seen was going into the bread-baking business in a big way, was throwing a fundraiser for her daughter Sara, who is having legal difficulties that I can't go into here, and so I got into the Toaster and motored forth into the trackless wastes of Northwest Washington. It was good to see Tish again; the interesting thing is that while we agree on very little when it comes to religion and politics, we nonetheless get along extremely well. It was also good to see her husband Gavin and their boys again, meet her daughter Sara (who has great taste in music) and Tish's sister Celeste, and hang out with a bunch of Sara's friends. There was too much good food, and I'm afraid I ate too much of it, but the conversation was good and I stayed maybe longer than I should have, considering that I needed to take care of things online.

The next two days are going to be pretty quiet around here; I'll be laying low until I get my unemployment on Wednesday, at which time I'll be shelling out money for my Intermediate Accounting text and starting the clock on that course. Further down the timeline, won't be going to Balticon but a trip up to [livejournal.com profile] brian_edminster's place is a distinct possibility.
wombat_socho: Curly W (baseball)
One thing I've noticed about prolonged high blood sugar -which for me is anything in triple digits, these days- is that it aggravates/causes ADD in my brain. That's the excuse I'm using as to why this baseball post took a while to find its way out of my brain and into LJ.

I signed up for a public Yahoo fantasy baseball league and so far am holding my own, despite being too lazy to prioritize my draft roster properly (or not having time thanks to the end-of-spring semester, crush, take your pick) and thus winding up with half a dozen catchers on my roster, including Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, Carlos Santa, Pudge, and Wilson Ramos. It's been good enough to keep me in the upper division of the 12-team league so far, and usually in the top three. Right now I'm in sixth, and that's okay. It's a long season.

The Nationals, on the other hand, are playing just under .500 (20-21), thanks mostly to a 6-4 run against the NL Central and a 3-1 record against the West. This is good enough to keep the Nats out of last place, one game ahead of the snakebit Mets.

Anyway, back during tax season, I read Bill James' Solid Fool's Gold*, and it had an essay on the minor leagues which I was going to address but haven't gotten around to until now.
Cut for people who really don't care about baseball )

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