athelind: (facepalm)
The local radio station just did a phone quiz about "frauds and hoaxes", and after questions about Milli Vanilli and the balloon-law-chair kid, the grand finale was a question about the Y2K Bug.

So here's the take-home lesson: if you identify something that might be a problem well in advance, and spend huge amounts of money and effort trying to fix it before it becomes a problem, then, when it doesn't become a problem, it's obvious to everyone that it never was a problem!

Does anyone else have a problem with that?

You didn't succeed, code monkeys of the world: you defrauded everyone. Thanks for all your hard work!

This is a radio station in Silicon Valley, mind. I guess the classic rock isn't aimed at the code monkey demographic.


Parallels between this and the effectiveness of environmental regulations are left as an exercise for the class.
athelind: (Parallel Worlds)

Evidence Emerges That Laws of Physics Are Not Fine-Tuned For Life



I admit it: even the weak versions of the Anthropic Principle make me twitch. Yes, if we're observing the universe, its physical conditions must allow us to exist; fine, that's kind of a "duh". Stronger versions get increasingly ... problematic ... as their proponents start dwelling on what a "fortunate coincidence" it is that all of these underlying physical constants line up just right for the perfect bowl of porridge rise of Life As We Know It ...

... and then they start talking about how the Universe must have arisen in such a way ...

... and then they just lapse into "GLAARGLE BARGLE PROOF OF GOD" and start speaking in tongues.

Yes, there are more sophisticated and defensible versions of the Anthropic Principle out there, but nevertheless, the concept has turned into something of a buzzword for those who want to dress up "intelligent design" in a costume that will get them into big science conferences as well as Kansas school board meetings.1

These are the people most likely to start harping on how amazing it is that the value of little terms buried deep in complex equations like the cosmological constant are exactly perfectly optimally perfectly wonderfully exact to promote the development of blah blah blah blah blah.

This is why Your Obedient Serpent uttered a joyous and most undraconic "squee" when Futurismic pointed out this article that indicates, hey, you know what, Doctor Pangloss? This may not be the Best of All Possible Worlds, after all!

Of course, as a militant agnostic, I'm just going to sit back and make popcorn as this news prompts a stampede of would-be Oolon Colluphids to get themselves run over at the next zebra crossing.


1A similar fate has befallen James Lovelock's "Gaia hypothesis", which has been Flanderized by both detractors and some proponents into "WOO GODDESS". The elegant systems mechanics behind the Gaia principle play an important part in my own weird version of pantheism, but that just makes it that much worse when Princess Priestess Raven Shadowscroft in beads and sequins spouts the words in the middle of some pompous Aquarian rant.
athelind: (Eye - VK)
Those who just read my pearls of wisdom via their friends lists may not be aware that the topmost entry on LJ page is a mash-up of a CAPTCHA test and the Voight-Kampf test from the opening scene of Blade Runner.

On 18 January 2011, that entry got a word-salad comment that looked like a random text generator used a series of metaphysical screeds as a seed source:


Hey

Those who possession of to the standard faiths call that the expert of their obedience rests on revelation, and that pronouncement is confirmed in the pages of books and accounts of miracles and wonders whose disposition is supernatural. But those of us who take great discarded the belief in the mysterious quiescent are in the attendance of revelations which are the purpose of faith. We too entertain our revealed religion. We have looked upon the lineaments of men and women that can be to us the symbols of that which is holy. We acquire heard words of sacred wisdom and facts in fact spoken in the possibly manlike voice. In sight of the domain there set up hit to us these occurrence which, when accepted, despair to us revelations, not of abnormal doctrine, but of a natural and sure credence in the incorporeal powers that spark and labour in the center of [a person's] being.



Given entry in question, I can't tell if this is just some kind of random spam, a blind idiot translation of something from another language, a sincere if TimeCubist rant, or an amazingly clever metacommentary.

Think on that one for a moment. I cannot ascertain the degree of sentience that generated this comment. Someone (or something) has responded to a parody of a test to determine your humanity with a response that is recursively ambiguous. Seeded randomness? Automated translation? Schizoid human? Clever post-modernist? I can't tell.

I was tempted to leave it there, but [livejournal.com profile] theweaselking provided some compelling reasons to delete it (especially since LiveJournal lets you mark such unwarranted commentary as spam). I hope that copying and pasting the text here won't trigger the spammer's search engines, but I am far, far too lazy to turn the blurb into an image.


athelind: (facepalm)
So there I am at work, in what I hope are the last stages of a cold, running on generic DayQuil, GatorAde, and Fisherman's Friend menthol lozenges, blowing my nose whenever the store's empty, and hoping that bottle of hand sanitizer is keeping me from playing Patient Zero.

My sinuses are draining. My throat doesn't hurt, thank goodness, because working at a comic store entails a lot of conversation -- especially a comic store in a mall, where you have a lot of Curious Neophytes who wouldn't wander into your typical Android's Dungeon.

Nevertheless, the cold has affected my voice. It's not quite gravelly, per se, but there's that odd kind of vibration it gets when the vocal cords are ... pray forgive me if this is too vivid ... coated.

Not one but two different customers complimented me for my pleasant voice, and said that I should go into radio, or do voiceovers, or something of the sort.

As I'm suppressing a coughing fit.


athelind: (AAAAAA)
Your Obedient Serpent has no idea what he's gonna do to relax in the near future, because all the things he's frittered away his spare-and-not-so-spare time on over the years actively piss him off right now.

This is, in part, because he's frittered away so much of his life on them, and in part because, well, Busman's Holiday. One of his sources of stress is his low-paying retail job, selling all those time-consuming distractions.


athelind: (Default)
Your Obedient Serpent has no idea what he's gonna do to relax in the near future, because all the things he's frittered away his spare-and-not-so-spare time on over the years actively piss him off right now.

This is, in part, because he's frittered away so much of his life on them, and in part because, well, Busman's Holiday. One of his sources of stress is his low-paying retail job, selling all those time-consuming distractions.


athelind: (cronkite)
I'm posting this link in part for my own benefit, for easy reference in the future:

“Mister Taxy” Is A Friend Of The Rich.


In which MGK makes it clear that the biggest beneficiaries of tax dollars devoted to social infrastructure are, in fact, the wealthy.

Excerpt:
The level of income inequality between the poorest and richest is the greatest it ever has been in human history. On the one hand, that kind of sucks; on the other hand, it’s amazing. There’s a reason that feudal lords in the Middle Ages weren’t as comparatively rich as modern tycoons, and it’s not because of technology: it’s because they don’t have to spend money on keeping people alive and healthy and generating value and furthermore able to generate the best possible value, because the government does that for them, and frankly does it better than individuals could anyway.



athelind: (Default)
I'm posting this link in part for my own benefit, for easy reference in the future:

“Mister Taxy” Is A Friend Of The Rich.


In which MGK makes it clear that the biggest beneficiaries of tax dollars devoted to social infrastructure are, in fact, the wealthy.

Excerpt:
The level of income inequality between the poorest and richest is the greatest it ever has been in human history. On the one hand, that kind of sucks; on the other hand, it’s amazing. There’s a reason that feudal lords in the Middle Ages weren’t as comparatively rich as modern tycoons, and it’s not because of technology: it’s because they don’t have to spend money on keeping people alive and healthy and generating value and furthermore able to generate the best possible value, because the government does that for them, and frankly does it better than individuals could anyway.



athelind: (eco-rant)
I announced today, to my FurryMUCK clique, that I didn't want to see any more trailers for Monster Hunter 3. The game doesn't just annoy me: it actively pisses me off, and worse, it makes me think badly not only of gamers in general but of Japanese culture, in wide, bigoted swaths.

The game is beautifully animated, and the eponymous monsters of the title are magnificently designed. Every trailer looks like a wonderful Discovery Channel nature documentary of a world that never was, full of dinosaurs and dragons and even more exotic creatures -- right up until you get to the gameplay, which involves killing things and dismembering them for their body parts to make cheesy, tawdry consumer goods kewl weapons and armor and magic items.

It's jarring.

The generation that grew up on Cute And Fuzzy Cockfighting Seizure Monsters has graduated to Heroic Head-Bashing Harp Seal Hunters. Look at these marvelous creatures! The loving detail that went into their creation! The magnificent, balletic fluidity of their motion! LET'S HIT THEM WITH CLUBS!

This is a game that comes from one of the last whaling nations on Earth. I'm sorry -- this is that "wide, bigoted swath" I mentioned -- but I can't help but see a connection.

This doesn't piss me off as a guy who pretends to be a dragon online. This pisses me off as an Environmental Scientist, and a human being raised with some semblance of decency and empathy toward the natural world.

I don't put much credence into combat games as "murder simulators", but I do think the prevalent attitude these games have that animals serve no purpose other than to exploit, enslave or slaughter provides a bad example.

I wish I could believe that this was meant ironically, or as a commentary on the exploitation of the natural world. The unambitious modeling and jerky animation of the player avatars certainly suggests that; they're raw, brutish intrusions on the elegantly savage ballet of the "monsters". A decade of Happy Cartoony Cockfighting Games For Little Children makes that hard, though.


And after all that self-righteous ranting to my homies about how terrible it is to brainwash kiddies into seeing the slaughter and exploitation of magnificent animals as something fun and exciting, I announced that I was gonna go grab a burger before work.
And then, at work, I was chatting with two of my regular customers, and one of them said, "you really need to get a PSP. Do you have any consoles at all? There's this game..."
"Funny thing, that", said I...

athelind: (Default)
I announced today, to my FurryMUCK clique, that I didn't want to see any more trailers for Monster Hunter 3. The game doesn't just annoy me: it actively pisses me off, and worse, it makes me think badly not only of gamers in general but of Japanese culture, in wide, bigoted swaths.

The game is beautifully animated, and the eponymous monsters of the title are magnificently designed. Every trailer looks like a wonderful Discovery Channel nature documentary of a world that never was, full of dinosaurs and dragons and even more exotic creatures -- right up until you get to the gameplay, which involves killing things and dismembering them for their body parts to make cheesy, tawdry consumer goods kewl weapons and armor and magic items.

It's jarring.

The generation that grew up on Cute And Fuzzy Cockfighting Seizure Monsters has graduated to Heroic Head-Bashing Harp Seal Hunters. Look at these marvelous creatures! The loving detail that went into their creation! The magnificent, balletic fluidity of their motion! LET'S HIT THEM WITH CLUBS!

This is a game that comes from one of the last whaling nations on Earth. I'm sorry -- this is that "wide, bigoted swath" I mentioned -- but I can't help but see a connection.

This doesn't piss me off as a guy who pretends to be a dragon online. This pisses me off as an Environmental Scientist, and a human being raised with some semblance of decency and empathy toward the natural world.

I don't put much credence into combat games as "murder simulators", but I do think the prevalent attitude these games have that animals serve no purpose other than to exploit, enslave or slaughter provides a bad example.

I wish I could believe that this was meant ironically, or as a commentary on the exploitation of the natural world. The unambitious modeling and jerky animation of the player avatars certainly suggests that; they're raw, brutish intrusions on the elegantly savage ballet of the "monsters". A decade of Happy Cartoony Cockfighting Games For Little Children makes that hard, though.


And after all that self-righteous ranting to my homies about how terrible it is to brainwash kiddies into seeing the slaughter and exploitation of magnificent animals as something fun and exciting, I announced that I was gonna go grab a burger before work.
And then, at work, I was chatting with two of my regular customers, and one of them said, "you really need to get a PSP. Do you have any consoles at all? There's this game..."
"Funny thing, that", said I...

athelind: (facepalm)
Apparently, there's a group out there encouraging people to red shirts on Fridays to "support our troops".

Here's a link to their site, which plays really, really cheesy music. You've been warned.)

Yes, let's wear red shirts on Friday to underscore how nameless and expendable our troops are.

I know that not everyone is a Star Trek fan, but even a cursory Google search would have suggested the Unfortunate Implications.

athelind: (Default)
Apparently, there's a group out there encouraging people to red shirts on Fridays to "support our troops".

Here's a link to their site, which plays really, really cheesy music. You've been warned.)

Yes, let's wear red shirts on Friday to underscore how nameless and expendable our troops are.

I know that not everyone is a Star Trek fan, but even a cursory Google search would have suggested the Unfortunate Implications.

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