athelind: (Eye - VK)



Originally posted 18 February 2010 at 18:15.
athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)
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What's the first major news event that you remember hearing about as a child? Where did you learn about it? How did it impact your world view?

The Vietnam War wasn't really an event when I was a child: it was simply another fact of existence. It was always there, always part of adult conversation, always part of my father. I don't actually remember the period that my father was in Vietnam, or even when he came home, but for as long as I can remember, his time there has been one of the defining attributes of his personality.

The first event -- or series of events -- that I really remember as news stories would have to be the Apollo flights, and I learned about those by having my mother bundle me up in front of the TV and watch every single manned flight.


Let's see if LJ will recognize its own template if I cross-post from DW...
athelind: (Eye - VK)
Your Obedient Serpent finally found out how to import the entirety of his LiveJournal into DreamWidth, where all the Cool Kids seem to be going.

It's the whole shebang, too: journal entries, comments, tags, filters, everything except my ridiculous gallery of icons (DW maxes out at 15, which really is plenty; LJ allows me 202, and I have 82. Time to pick and choose!)

LJ-specific templates like the Writer's Block questions didn't make it through; I don't know if polls did, either, since I don't use them enough to pick a poll-entry out without slogging through pages and pages of archives.

I don't know if I'm going to shift my primary posting habits over there, but now that I don't have to abandon eight years of archives, that's become feasible.

Of course, DreamWidth makes it much easier to cross-post, so it does make sense to make my posts from hereDW rather than over therelj.


athelind: (Default)
Here it is, the Equinox, as the World Sunlight Map shows:



Vertical terminators!
athelind: (Default)
I'm watching The Spirit. A couple of months back, when Blockbuster was closing down most of its stores, I picked up the DVD for $2.

I'm barely out of the credits, and I'm wondering if I was overcharged.

If I had a Twitter account I'd be liveblogging this.

It's very Frank Miller, in all the wrong ways, but there's not a hell of a lot of Will Eisner in here. Not script-wise, not visually.

For the love of Schwartz, we have Thugs Wearing T-Shirts With Thematic Code-Names on them.
This is, in fact, the Frank Miller version of the 1966 Batman series.

With some Warner Brothers thrown in.

Miller thinks "campy slapstick" is the same as "tongue-in-cheek whimsy", and "over-the-top stunt action" can sub for "magical realism".

I can see, in my mind's eye, a scene drawn by Eisner (or Darwyn Cooke), with the comic';s cast watching this, Ellen, Doyle, and Ebony laughing their asses off while the Spirit himself just cringes in humiliation.

The one bright spot is that this movie isn't disappointing me. It's performing to expectations.



Okay, I turned it off at the 62-minute mark. I'm not sure when I stopped actually paying attention to it.

Don't think that I'm just ragging on this as a bad adaptation. No, it's a bad movie, and there are any number of bad decisions contributing to that. For far too many of them, the only explanation that makes sense is that Miller was trying to emulate the source material and failing miserably.

I think he doesn't quite realize that Will Eisner and Harvey Kurtzman were different people. This is a Mad Magazine version of The Spirit.

For most of the others, it was evident that he wasn't able to resist throwing in Millerisms, or possibly attempts at self-parody.

athelind: (Default)
I am ... off, this morning. I don't know if I'm still fighting off the vestiges (or a relapse) of last week's cold, or simply reeling from the aftermath of a night full of stress-anxiety dreams. I've got that fuzzy, light-headed feeling, so it's entirely possible that the former induced the latter, and the answer is "all of the above".

St. Paddy's or not, I probably shouldn't have had that beer last night.

The dreams ran through the night, I think, or at least through the last bit of it, but the real roller coaster hit after I woke up, looked at the clock, thought, "Oh, hey, time to get up" -- and promptly rolled over and went back to sleep. That hypnopompic state seems to be kind of a sweet spot for memorable dreams for me -- to my dismay, this morning.

This one combined major adrenaline-stressors ("Those cars are going the wrong way -- in my lane!!") with minor irritations in such a way that every time I came close to waking, I backed off and retreated back into sleep, because I was somehow associating all that anxiety with the waking world.

This is not to say that I don't have some cause for anxiety in my waking life these days, but when I finally did surface, I wasn't reacting to any of that. I was disoriented and shaken, but that was due to the rapid-fired combination of narrowly-averted accidents, police encounters, car trouble, bicycle problems, and gods-know-what-else that were bouncing around my brain.

Sublimation? Maybe.

More probably, given my current mental state, it's the aftermath of that cold.

I think I may start setting my alarm in the mornings -- something I haven't bothered doing much since moving to the evening shift at the game store almost a year ago. Most people find "sleeping in" to be a luxury, but I've always been the sort who likes to get up and dive right into the day -- ideally, because I have something structured to do and get out of the way. When I do that (as I did on Sunday), I'm in great shape. Rolling over and catching more ZZZs does nothing good for me -- it just makes it harder to get moving, and -- frankly, it underscores the lack of focus, direction and purpose in my current existence.

Which just makes it harder to overcome that lack.

Besides, I don't want to have to fight with the Hypnopomp anymore.


athelind: (Default)
Today, I filled out my census data as the second person living at [livejournal.com profile] thoughtsdriftby's residence, and something occurred to me.

Neither [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia nor I remember filling out a census form in 2000 -- and in 2000, we were living in CSUMB's student housing. Despite the fact that we lived there for five full years (and the longest I've ever lived in any single place is six years), we were considered transient. In many places, students living on campus aren't considered "local residents", and thus aren't permitted to vote in local elections (though they can vote in national elections); since districting is based on census data, it makes sense that they might leave students out of that, as well.

In 1990, I was in the Coast Guard, and lived on a military base.

In 1980, my family lived in an RV park in a largely-agricultural part of Southern California; the immigration status of most of the other long-term park residents was, shall we say, dubious. My mother can't remember if we filled out a census form that year.

This may be the first census that's actually counted me since I was six years old.

The next time someone bitches about the effort the government has been going through to try and get the homeless and other "traditionally under-represented" segments of the population tallied accurately, I'll have to point out how easily a middle class white kid slipped through the cracks for forty years.


(This may be the most appropriate use of my barcode icon ever.)


athelind: (Eye - VK)
Again, my prejudices are reinforced.

I now want to start a social networking site.

I'll call it "JumpOffABridge", and the tagline will be "Because All Your Friends Are Doing It."


athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)
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Oddly, this came up in conversation with [livejournal.com profile] thoughtsdriftby just this morning:

I buried Robert A. Heinlein.

The question specified "daily life", so I'm not going to count the numerous writers, artists and actors I've met at science fiction conventions.

There was also the time the family visited New Orleans, circa 1980, when the Captain and Tennille were filming a TV special, and we kept running into them every time we turned a corner.


athelind: (Default)
In a recent post and its associated comments, [livejournal.com profile] thebitterguy complained:

... Canada doesn't fucking EXIST in the DCU ... Marvel at least had a team up here. DC didn't even give us a member of the Global Guardians.


Your Obedient Serpent intuited the obvious: since Shuster modeled Metropolis on Toronto, DCU Canada was obviously annexed by the DCU U.S. at some point in the 19th Century.

This explains where they put all those extra cities; they took all those funny Canadian names and replaced them with more prosaic, descriptive ones. "What the heck's a 'Vancouver'?" "It's a city on the coast." "Can't we just call it 'Coast City', then?"

It's not that DC doesn't have any Canadian heroes; it's that MOST of their heroes are Canadian!


athelind: (Default)

AlterNet runs the numbers.



In the 1950s the marginal tax rate on those earning more than $3 million a year (in today’s dollars) was 91 percent. By 1990 it was 28 percent. The IRS says that the top 400 richest tax filers actually paid a rate of just 16 percent in 2007 (the latest numbers we have). Yep, the richest earners — people who took in an average of $343 million each — probably paid a lower rate than you did. Something to consider as you sign your 2009 return.

By the way, those 400 people who do so well on tax day have a combined net worth of nearly $1.37 trillion. [...] If we had progressive taxes that reduced their wealth to a trifling $100 million each, we’d have enough money to set up a trust fund whose interest could provide tuition-free higher education for students at every public college and university in perpetuity. [...]


Note that "if" the article proposes is still far less than the upper-bracket tax rate of the 1950s.

And aren't the 1950s the mythical Good Old Days of Prosperity and Civic Responsibility that the Conservatives point to as the pinnacle of US culture?


Your Obedient Serpent has found that when he includes article quotes, people frequently just read the quoted passage, and leave comments raising objections that were dealt with handily in the original source. Please don't do that, or I'll have to stop including passages, and start including well-earned bitchslaps.
athelind: (Default)
Your Obedient Serpent ramps around cheerfully. Hooray, morning! It's a beautiful day!

As everyone else is stumbling around adjusting to the time change, I'm up, alert, and peppy.

I had to get up gawdawful early yesterday -- 6 AM on the day of the time shift, during a period when my evening-shift work schedule has had me snoozing past the hour or 8 AM (unusually late for me, incidentally). 7:30 DPT is sleeping in compared to yesterday morning, so I'm not continually blurring around thinking, "It's 'really' (N-1) AM in 'real' time."

In fact, I'm obnoxiously awake and alert. My "morning person" tendencies have kicked in, and I know how popular those are with everyone else.

(I am, perhaps, the only person on the planet who likes Daylight Saving Time. Given that most people seem more evening-oriented than Your Obedient Serpent, I've never quite grokked why they object to having more daylight during their more active period.)

Part of this may also be due to the sudden emergence of Clear Weather, and the sun shining in through the big glass door to the back yard. I wonder how much of my recent Slow Starting has been due to the gray, overcast weather that's been hanging around unusually late in the year? Normally, I love clouds and rain, but regular readers know that there have been Other Factors that have certainly colored my emotional reflexes.

The combination of Relief and Accomplishment of putting the CSET and the big Interview Event for Oakland teaching Fellows behind me probably helps, as well. I Can Now Move On and focus on Other Avenues.

And, of course, having a cold all last week that is now almost gone adds the frisson of "I feel better!!" to the proceedings.

... of course, since I work until 9:30 PM tonight, we'll have to see how long this lasts.


athelind: (Default)
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Assuming the decade in question is (approximately) 2001-2010:

The Widening Gyre. Come on: "The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity ... ?" Oh, yeah, Yeats had our number.


athelind: (Eye of the Dragon)
It's actually spelled Æþelind, and pronounced with a long "A".

It means "noble serpent" in Old English, and I've discovered, to my surprise, that a very similar name was actually used historically.

Originally, I spelled it "Æthelind" when writing by hand, but "Aethelind" just looked wrong when typing. I think one of my early BBS hang-outs or e-mail providers had a maximum of eight letters—which is particularly amusing in this day and age, when 6 to 8 alphanumerics is often a minimum.

If I actually have proper Unicode access, of course, then "AE Ligature-Thorn-E-L-I-N-D" is eight letters, but I'm not going to fight with log-in screens and Old English characters.


athelind: (Eye of the Sky God)
Posted for future reference:

The Key to Quantum Gravity May Lie in the Æther.




Expect the TIMECUBE crazies and the anti-science types who think that the Big Bang is part of "Darwinism" to jump all over this, shrieking, "See? Einstein was wrong!" and insulting the intelligence of everyone who doesn't immediately see that this proves their own particular brand of blather.
athelind: (Default)
This is a test.

This is only a test.

Did you study?
athelind: (Default)
A reunion of all the SNL comics who have portrayed Presidents of the United States over the years (with the regrettable exception of the late Phil Hartman).



This is funny, but it's also a PSA to encourage people to contact their senators about the creation of a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which sounds like a pretty good idea to Your Obedient Serpent.

But it's also funny.


athelind: (Eye - VK)
This is a follow-up to this post.

Following [livejournal.com profile] foofer's advice, [livejournal.com profile] quelonzia got me a wireless bridge for my birthday, so I could finally get my desktop system back online. (Thank you, sweetness!)


The specific unit is a D-Link DAP-1522, purchased new from Fry's after a recommendation from Buy More's Nerd Herd Best Buy's Geek Squad.

I cannot configure the wireless settings for it.

It hooks up fine to the computer, and the Setup Wizard sees. the household wireless network, but the settings the Wizard imposes don't seem to take. It tells me that it's connected when I go to the bridge's Status page, but it doesn't actually connect.

According to the manual, when I go to the wireless setup page, I should see a nice, long pageful of wireless settings. )

What I actually see is a pair of buttons, a header, and nothing underneath. )

Something Is Wrong, obviously. Is that Something in the Operator or the Device? Am I screwing something up, or do I need to just return this and get a new unit?


athelind: (Default)
Someone in [livejournal.com profile] told_tales has a question about part of the Arthurian cycle: namely, the Herodesque "kill all the male children" order at the time Mordred was due. Since you're the Arthurologist in my audience, I thought you might like to weigh in.


athelind: (Default)
Does anyone have any suggestions for a five-minute teaching sample that doesn't involve toys and models for me to fumble and drop? I'm not that coordinated on a GOOD day, and nothing about this event points to "a good day".

Please note the clock in the icon, and be aware that I have two minutes LESS than that to make this presentation.


athelind: (Default)
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Peanut butter and brown sugar, with margarine, on whole wheat bread.

Comfort food with Depression-era roots.

Hell yes, I make it myself.

I use almond butter these days, to keep my "good cholesterol" levels up, but the REAL version uses Jif, dammit.


athelind: (Default)
Sometimes, the more something is explained, the less sense it makes. With sufficient explanation, a supposedly-simple task will be revealed to be impossible.


athelind: (Default)

First Superman Comic Sells For Record $1 Million



I dread work this week; odds are far too high that at least one bozo will come in every night, all excited about this, and wanting to talk about comics and collectibles as "investments".

He won't want to buy things, per se. He'll want my advice. What should he look for? What should he buy? What's the best return on his money?

How can he make a quick buck?

Your Obedient Serpent is honestly sick to death of comic books, superheroes, and pop-culture ephemera, but he'd still rather deal with people who read and enjoy these things than someone who bumbles in asking questions so clueless they defy an answer, simply because he's heard about someone who made huge returns on stuff that he's always dismissed.

How can you make a quick buck in the comics market? You can't. It took seventy godsforsaken years of carefully babying a fragile bundle of crappy, high-acid paper, starring a character nobody in the industry thought would catch on, to get that ten-million-fold return on Action's 10¢ cover price, you idiot.

Resolved: I am going to do my damnedest to sell these sleazy fools every worthless piece of crap I've got in the store, every random Big Event Comic, and most especially, every High-End, Hard-Sided, Nitrogen-Filled Comic Preservation Device I can dig up.

Because that's the real answer to the question. How do you make a quick buck in comics? By selling crap to the gullible.

Barnum was right.


athelind: (Default)
J.K. Rowling is getting sued by the clueless again. Yes, yet another plagiarism accusation. Making Light goes into great detail about the spuriousness of the claim, and the wretched quality of the claimant's allegedly-plagiarized work.

You don't really need to read all that. You'll find the meat of the whole issue before you even have to scroll down the page, when Ms. Hayden points out three things about such lawsuits. Her second point addresses something that comes up a lot in pop culture conversations:

“Non-writers think it’s the ideas, rather than the execution, that make a book. They’ve got that backward.”



I submit this as a Law of the Internet, on a par with Godwin's and Poe's: "Hayden's Second Law".

As I said, this comes up a lot. "Plagiarism", per se, is seldom invoked, but milder euphemisms abound: "derivative" is a popular epithet, and to many, "originality" seems the highest criterion for literary merit.

The career of the Gentleman from Avon indicates otherwise.

I should note that I'm guilty of this, myself; I've repeatedly tabled my own flailing attempts at writing because my characters, settings, or plot seem "derivative".


Addendum: just a few hours before I made this post, [livejournal.com profile] foofers provided a technological example of "it's not the ideas, it's the execution" -- in this instance, whether the ideas got executed at all.

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