Friday, September 30, 2011

Should have...

...kept going with Terry Goodkind [Edit: Miswrote this as Pratchett the first time through] for one more book.

Wizard's First Rule starts a bit slow, but is an excellent book.  Stone of Tears... feels like the author is stretching a little bit to continue the series, but is otherwise also quite a good book.

Blood of the Fold felt utterly pointless, and even more strained; Temple of the Winds feels like he's just making shit up now (okay, he used one sentence out of his very first book to justify this one, but everything else felt pulled out of thin air), Soul of the Fire was back to looking for excuses to continue the books...

I gave up there the first time around, which was right around when Pillars of Creation came out.

Recently picked up Faith of the Fallen for a buck, figuring it could be entertaining.

Okay, first of all, one warning: I'm pretty sure the guy read Atlas Shrugged right before he wrote this, because I swear he retconned all his villains into Randian villains.  (His heroes were already fairly close to Randian heroes, so there wasn't much stretching necessary there.)  Also, the nature and content of the book.

But I'm actually considering finishing the series now.  Okay, yes, there was some retcon going on there.  But it's actually, on its own, a decent Randian hero story.  Except his wording would have put Ayn Rand into fits in a couple of places.  Ah well.

Hint to any aspiring authors out there: If you want an epic series, plan out some of the series in advance.  You don't have to plan everything out, and don't write your first book as a "To Be Continued" unless you absolutely must, but put the basic structure in there to follow up on.  (Non-epic series don't have to worry about this as much, not being as prone to the "I killed the big evil sorcerer now what" syndrome.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

I find it amusing...

...what products you get if you apply this comic to its own author:

Firstly, the title.  She assumes others behave in this manner because she does.  I do not.  I long since grew past the notion that other people thought in a similar fashion to me - if I had not, Atlas Shrugged would have been a mediocre book to me, rather than the revelation that other people did think in the same ways that I did, even if they didn't necessarily draw the same conclusions.

Particularly amusing to me is the third row, first column.  She presumes rich people have a price and more have sold themselves, because she cannot see a way to achieve riches without doing so.

This seems to be a common presumption among the left.  It's an amusing one.  I view that mindset as similar to the religious mindset that you cannot be righteous without god.  Both tend to have rather dramatic effects when the believers loses faith.

Friday, September 16, 2011


...what would happen with Social Security if it had been running a -surplus- when we ran into the debt limit?

Seeing as how the government is legally obligated to sell the Social Security Administration bonds.  (That's where all the SS surpluses went.)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

More Exercise-y Crap

I've scaled my jogging schedule back a bit on account of realizing that the pain that was developing in my legs as I jogged wasn't exhaustion, but shin splints.  (It took me three or four sessions to realize this.  Some genius I am.)

May shift to the eliptical for the jogging portion of my exercise until my tendons recover.  I've bought a new pair of shoes - I had been wearing a relatively new pair of Earth brand running shoes.  This was my second pair, and the quality was absolute shit compared to the first pair I purchased, with which I originally got into running; the first pair made running a joy, but unfortunately wore out.

I have two shoes I'm trying now; my second pair of Vibrams (my first pair wore out rather more quickly than I expected, on account of running them through the drier several times before I read the instructions explicitly stating not to do this) - I'm wearing toe socks with this pair so that I won't have to wash them as frequently as my first pair.

I also stopped into a Footlocker and bought their most expensive running shoes, which were still cheaper than the POS second pair of Earth shoes I bought, as well as some compression socks.  I'll be alternating between these two shoes for jogging going forward.

I really need to move into week four of the jogging program, but that is probably going to be put off.  (Also, WTH, whoever designed this program?  Is this designed for people trying to get back into jogging, rather than first-timers as it presents itself?  If I hadn't been in fantastic shape already to know that jogging gets kind of enjoyable after you get into shape, I'd give this program up as some kind of cruel torture.)

Weight-lifting is going better, although I really need to settle on a routine; I keep shifting it up, and was unable to target my biceps very effectively last session.  (I hit the rowing machine first; I had been doing 55 lbs freeweights in the session before last, and this last one, instead of moving to 60 lbs as I had planned, I was barely able to hit 45 by the time I got to it.  Which is great for working out, but terrible for trying to measure my progress is some kind of objective unit.)

Haven't been able to faze my back or shoulder muscles with the routines I've been doing, something else always tires out first.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Freedom is not Potentia

For potentia has two definitions; it is not merely capacity, but power.  It is not merely the limits of your ability, but your political influence.

It derives from potens, a word which roughly means "To be able to."  This phrase even today conveys dual meanings - the freedom to do so, by which I mean the absence of arbitrary power preventing you from doing so (arbitrary, now there's a word for another day), but equally the -strength- to do so.  (A good blog name would be "Possum," which has little to do with opossums, and translates as "I am able.")

Your actions are limited by two constraints - what you are capable of, and what politicians prevent you from doing.

Modern liberal philosophy, where it values freedom at all, can roughly be summed up as confusing freedom for potentia; for believing that what we are by our own efforts capable of doing is a limit on our freedom in the same sense that arbitrary power is a limit on our freedoms.  It emphasizes a balancing act between strength-potentia and power-potentia.

Because it has no mechanisms by which to actually modify your capabilities, all it is truly capable of doing is depressing your power-potentia.  The government, no matter how hard it wishes or tries, cannot make you stronger, cannot make you smarter, cannot make you healthier, cannot make you better - government is purely a lever of power-potentia, meaning the only influence it can ever have over your life is to limit your choices.

It depresses your power-potentia, therefore, attempting to enhance your strength-potentia.  But strength-potentia ultimately depends upon a single strength - strength of will.  This is that of strength-potentia that must depress with power-potentia.  And as all other strengths depend on this one - all strengths are depleted in the effort to strengthen a people.

They seek to create a powerful and emboldened people by telling them at every turn what they may not do.  Raise your child that way and tell me how well it works.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Working out...

...doing interval training.

I dunno if I'm doing it right; the jogging is a cinch, I'm just following the instructions on weekly interval training MP3s, not too difficult (okay, difficult from a "GOD I WANT TO STOP" perspective, but very easy from a knowing what to do perspective).  But the weight lifting, I have no idea; everybody's idea of what interval weight lifting is is different, and I kind of mixed up the different instructions to something which is at least entertaining to do.

I'm doing ten repetitions as heavy as I can do, waiting ten-twenty seconds, repeating.  Once I can't do ten (and I mean can't do ten, not doing ten is painful, I mean the muscles physically will not do it) I move down ten-twenty pounds.  Repeat until I consider the weight I'm lifting to be trivial (generally if I can do three sets without tiring out).  I'm doing this about twice a week.  (Jogging more frequently, every other day.)

(I'm also consuming -unholy- quantities of protein.)

It's... surprisingly effective.  I mean crazy surprise effective.  From one session to the next I'm making noticeable gains in strength; from my first session to my second, I could do fifteen pounds more on triceps (which I'm hitting the hardest as the exercises I'm hitting my back with are also hitting my triceps), five on biceps, and I'm not sure about the others as I haven't been keeping track.  From second session to third, another fifteen, another five.  That's a thirty pound gain in strength in one week, from 170 to 200, so a 15% increase.  (Yes, I'm a fairly sturdy couch potato right now.) [Edit: Gains have continued at this pace.  I did a comfortable 230 last session; I'll be trying 245 today.  The machine caps at 285; I don't have much more room to expand with targeted exercise there.]

Granted, this is the first week, when gains are supposed to be the highest.  But bloody hell, I'm not wanting to do a body building contest or anything like that, and the results for me are astounding.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Where We're Going

So the libertarian crowd is, once again, getting "serious" about building a city out in the ocean.  I'm pretty sure they'll go bankrupt, too, just like their predecessors.

But it's inevitable that eventually they succeed; the idea is workable.  Aircraft carriers are halfway there, although the pricetag of about $140,000,000 per person (granted, they're not -intended- as cities, so one intended as such should be cheaper), they're a bit pricy.

There are mansions (okay, one) which have fetched as much, and didn't carry the same tax benefits.

The ocean is the future of life on Earth.  But it's not the future.

Terraforming isn't the future either, as popular as the idea is.

The future is space stations.

Not for refueling, or anything silly like that - for living in.  The advantages are almost too numerous to list, but capital mobility would rank high if we did.

Anarchistic capitalism works in space in a way it does not work on earth.  It's hard to drag your factory somewhere else if the country you're living in pisses you off - unless it's on a boat or in a spaceship.  There's a reason the Russian train-based factories did so well when they were in a state of war.

Space does of course have an issue with scarcity of resources, particularly in the face of the bloom of a sentient species.  And planets do have an advantage there.  So I don't think they'll be entirely pointless, although I still think terraforming is right out.

But asteroids have the same advantages, and have transportation benefits to boot.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Fix for Firefox and Hotmail Users with Editing Issues...

Just diagnosed a problem for somebody, figured I'd post it here: If you use Firefox to access your Hotmail account and have recently become unable to edit e-mail messages (whether forwarded, replied, whatever) - try loading your Hotmail account up in Internet Explorer and resetting the text editor to "Plain Text" (Tools->"Rich Text Editor ON/OFF" - you want it to say OFF).

Apparently Firefox doesn't support Rich Text editing, and Hotmail disables this option in tools for Firefox users; however, if it gets changed somehow (using Internet Explorer, for example), it's possible for it to get stuck on this option, which results in Firefox being unable to edit your Hotmail messages (as it doesn't support the editor).

That's my current theory, anyways.

Europe... still slowly circling the crapper.

Which is vindicating on the one hand, and frustrating on the other.

Vindicating for what I think are obvious reasons.

Frustrating because it has kept our interest rates artificially low - sure, our currency might suck right now, but it's still a more solid investment than the Euro.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Artificial Divisions

One of the things which perpetually irks me in activist groups is the "For us or against us" mentality.  Every single activist group has this to some extent.  And I've realized something about it.

These activists don't want intelligent opposition, they don't want debate; they want vitriol and battle, they want conflict, precisely because they do not think they can lose; they're so devoted to the righteousness of their cause they fundamentally believe that if things came down to an exchange of blows (or legislation) they would win, and the other side's attempts to keep things on the level of civil discourse (or outside the domain of legal remedy) is an admission of weakness.

I see this in gun bloggers; a dogged insistence that if they came to take our guns away and if we fought back, we'd win.  We're merely being civil because we don't want to resort to violence, it's beneath us.

In personal interactions, this is true, particularly for gun bloggers; I've heard it said by more than one person who carried a gun that it had fundamentally changed their perspective on violence, that suddenly, if it isn't worth killing someone over, it isn't worth hitting them over, or even getting worked up about, either.  Carrying a gun is a calming influence.

In the public sphere, I think the perception of power has something the opposite reaction, particularly because these -are- causes people are willing to get violence about if things really get down to the bones.

Gun activists, however, as prone as they are to the dogged insistence that we'd win, are -not- as prone as the usual crowds to the particular "With us or against us" mentality.  We recognize what "Against us" means.  It means we shoot you when things come down to the bones of it.  With us or against us means there are no neutral parties, and we're fine with neutral parties; we probably don't have enough bullets, patience, or moral resolve for the guilty ones.

Gunnies have a select number of other causes they tend to get behind, and few if any others.  I do not think there can be meaningful overlap between gun activism and most other popular activism.  "With us or against us" doesn't sleep well with most us.

And it shouldn't.

I'm having a hell of a time not naming names (of causes, primarily, although I could list people as well) here.  It's something which, as I've considered it, has made me blisteringly angry.  There's this great big evil cloud hanging over virtually every cause, threatening me over and over again with utter destruction for not ceding them the moral right to do so.

I've seen evil many times in my life, almost always masquerading as something good.  I wonder if someday I'll be callous to see it anew.

[Ed: A conversation in real life presented an alternative explanation: Gunnies, generally, come from a military background, or are familiar with military concepts, and this has less to do with not wanting to pursue an "Us versus them" mentality so much as it does an understanding of the concept of a civilian.  This is actually a better explanation than the one I posited, which requires a lot of similarly-thinking people thinking along the same and largely unexplored lines, so I think it's probably closer to the truth.]