dorchadas: (Awake in the Night)
It's probably not a good idea for me to read climate news right before bed.

I've since read some cogent critiques of the piece, pointing out its Eurocentrism and factual errors like the invocation of medieval stasis in the idea that for thousands of years, people would live mostly the same as their parents and grandparents did. This was the popular conception even at the time--see all those medieval paintings with Jesus and the disciples dressed like someone from medieval France--but it was never actually true. There were a lot of changes over that time, just none as visible from the modern age as the industrial or green revolutions.

There was also a good point about the wisdom of "The situation is bad and requires immediate action" vs. "Your descendants will ritually curse your names in the ruins of their ancestors' cities." The first is true, the second might be true, but encourages paralysis. If civilization is doomed, why bother trying to save it? Live in luxury now while it's still possible. Eat, drink, and be merry, etc. I'm definitely inclined more towards inevitable doom, but more in ScreamingInternally.jpg model than the conspicuous consumption model.

I could have written this last night around 1 a.m., but fortunately I've developed better bedtime discipline as I've gotten older and I just stayed in bed and kept trying to sleep.

I'm slowly making progress on re-linking all the photo embeds to their new hosting. I've done Darker than Black, all my video game reviews, and my Japan, Chicago, Translation, Warcraft, and Travel tags. Now I'm working on Fifty Weeks, Fifty Curries and then I'll get to the RPGs tag and that'll probably be the vast majority of everything necessary. I'll catch the last few photos when I find them.

Tonight is the next session of Warlords of the Mushroom Kingdom after a month hiatus due to conflicting schedules. We left off right before the protagonists and their hired mercenaries entered a cave system in pursuit of a group of necromancers. They've spent half-a-dozen sessions tracking down the source of the walking dead plague and following them to this cave system, and now the climactic battle happens against at least three necromancers and whatever else is down there. They're mostly uninjured but fatigued, having force-marched through the day to arrive before sundown, and while they have mounts the mercenaries were on foot. Who will win? This or that by brokenboulevard
dorchadas: (In America)
...and as of about ten minutes ago, my results came in!

Here they are:

Ancestry summary

Uh, that's, well.

I knew my family was of primarily British descent, but I didn't realize it was quite that high. Ninety percent? I guess that guy in high school who told me that I looked English was more right than he knew.

Though it could be Welsh. "Evans" is a Welsh name, after all.

This mostly fits the geneological work my father has done and what I know of our family history, with maybe a bit more British and a bit less Irish and Western European than I would have thought--there are branches of the Evans extended family from Germany and Ireland, though I think the Irish branch were Hiberno-Normans (surname Butler) so that explains that, and I have one direct ancestor from Germany that I know of.

The Caucasus and South Asian bits are the only ones I have no explanation for. They may come from my mother's side, about which we know much less. We've traced my father's side of the family back thirteen generations to John Alden, the first man off the Mayflower and the only non-Puritan on board. My mother's family, I think we only have information back three or four generations. I wonder about those ancestors--who were they? How did they meet my other ancestors? What stories would they have told about their journeys?

I'll never know.

Edit: Apparently the Asia South part could be Roma ancestry, since they were originally from the subcontinent. It could also be noise. At 2%, there's not much way for me to tell.
dorchadas: (In America)
Inspired by a friend posting about having to work fifteen days in a row at her part-time jobs and two other people coming in and posting "lol suck it up try working 169 hours a week before you complain. *smallest violin* Put on your big girl panties and work for money so you can buy pretties", which is paraphrased, but not by much. Some of that is quoted literally.

I mean, I'm not surprised that managers set up circumstances that require someone to work multiple part time jobs to not starve, because capitalism. Workers are a cost, not an investment or a value, and they'd be replaced with robots in an instant if robots were good enough to do it. As the Wobblies said long ago:
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth.
-Preamble to the IWW Constitution
Smash the state, etc.

No, it really annoys me when other workers come in and talk about the virtues of working ridiculous hours, how it's just what you have to do to get by, how you shouldn't complain, "put on your big girl panties," and other bullshit like that. It's like when people complain about the pay and benefits of union workers and want them taken away, because G-d forbid you make common cause and try to get your pay raised. That's communism or something. No, we can't have that. We need to make sure that other people also work hard until they die because if anyone else gets one penny they haven't "earned" then justice is a lie, the Founding Fathers are rolling in their graves, and it's all sad eagles and Jeezus casting people into the outer darkness.

But even beyond the idiotic Prosperity Doctrine-laced workaholism of American culture, it's bad science! Working that much doesn't work:
The perplexing thing about the cult of overwork is that, as we’ve known for a while, long hours diminish both productivity and quality. Among industrial workers, overtime raises the rate of mistakes and safety mishaps; likewise, for knowledge workers fatigue and sleep-deprivation make it hard to perform at a high cognitive level. As Solomon put it, past a certain point overworked people become “less efficient and less effective.” And the effects are cumulative. The bankers Michel studied started to break down in their fourth year on the job. They suffered from depression, anxiety, and immune-system problems, and performance reviews showed that their creativity and judgment declined.
Add that together with the assumption that anyone who isn't rich is probably lazy, and... Ugh, I could write pages and pages about how much this enrages me. It's setting society up to grind people under the wheel until they can't hold it up any more, then throw them away and get another person to take their place. It's awful and we shouldn't have to put up with it.

Then again, there's a significant portion of society who thinks that, when asked about someone without enough money for medical treatment, Let him die! is somehow not a horrific opinion worthy of utter ostracism, so things are unlikely to change any time soon.

You could argue that we need a way for supremely motivated people to put in extra hours of their own free will and not if compelled by their bosses, because there really are people who love their jobs and love spending tons of time at work, and while I may not understand them, there are a lot of people I don't understand but whatever, they can do what they want. It's really difficult to allow this while also not setting up some kind of social norm in favor of tons of hours, though. I mean, Marxism aside, a person who comes in 20 extra hours a week, or spends 20 hours at home unpaid doing extra work, seems like a much better investment than the one who clocks in, does their 9 to 5 (for those lucky enough to have a 9 to 5...), and clocks out. It's more work, after all, and without some kind of productivity analysis, it would be impossible to tell if they're producing less work than they could be with a more measured schedule, so it's easy for managers to point to that person as a model and exert subtle or overt pressure to match them. That's the whole point of overtime pay, after all--to add a cost that discourages that kind of behavior.

The problem, of course, is that overtime pay is per job, so people working multiple jobs are screwed. And a ton of jobs are exempt from it even when they shouldn't be, even as the amount of stuff the average worker has to do keeps increasing with no corresponding pay increase. So yeah, smash the state.

Here endeth the rant.
dorchadas: (Do Not Want)
tl;dr: It should have been a point-and-click adventure game starring Elizabeth. Also, I now know why everyone was going on about ludonarrative dissonance last year.

So, I wasn't the biggest fan of Bioshock. It was...okay, but the whole time I was basically thinking, "This is like System Shock II but not as good." And that's basically the impression I carry to this day. The only reason I bought Bioshock Infinite was because it was $9.99, and having beaten it now I think I was robbed.

One word: mediocre.

It wasn't actively bad or anything, it just wasn't very inspiring. None of the weapons were interesting and there wasn't much reason to switch between them other than to use AoE weapons for lots of enemies and single-target weapons for single enemies. My strategy was basically to use a weapon until I got the achievement for using it and then throw it away and try out a new one. Then when I was done with that, I grabbed the rifle and the volley gun and just stuck with them for the rest of the game. It worked out fine.
Read more... )

The Great Filter

2008-Sep-23, Tuesday 14:29
dorchadas: (That is not dead...)
So, playing Spore, with its enormous number of interstellar civilizations, had me thinking lately about the so-called "Great Filter" (also known as the Fermi Paradox).

For those who don't want to read, the basic summary is this--there are billions of stars in the galaxy. Even if less than 1% of 1% of those are capable of supporting sentient life, that's still thousands of intelligent civilizations. Assuming they achieve relativistic travel, a single civilization could expand to colonize and terraform every planet in the galaxy in only a few million years--and much, much faster than that if FTL travel is possible. The only thing that could stop them, after they got large enough, would be another civilization of similar expanse. So why haven't we found any hard evidence of aliens yet, either in their visiting Earth or in hearing communications? The basic possibilities come down to this:

A) Because there aren't any. Intelligent life is far rarer than we expect...or something destroys nascent civilizations before they expand too far. This (well, and the Borg) seems to be the inspiration for Spore's Grox.
B) Intelligent life destroys itself before advancing. Whether in ecological catastrophy, planetary war, or a similar armageddon. The problem here is that once a civilization expands beyond a handful of planets it would take an enormous catastrophy to destroy it.
C) Technical problems in discovery or communication. SETI mostly listens for radio signals, and human civilization now is slowly moving past wide-spread use of radio signals. Less than a century of easily-detectable transmissions make it extremely hard for any civilization to discover another one. There's also the aliens among us hypothesis, which is that they're already here but keeping themselves hidden, or the posthuman hypothesis, which is that alien civilizations would go through a technological singularity and become essentially impossible for humans to meaningfully communicate with, even if we could find them.
D) The universe is expensive to colonize. Another possibility is alien races who do not have the urge to expand, though this becomes less tenable when projected over extremely long time scales. This also gets into things like cosmological constants being different in different places and other things we have little or no evidence for.

So, what do you think? Are they out there, and if so, where are they?
dorchadas: (Gendowned)
Leading to all kinds of people worried that turning it on will somehow destroy the world, either by turning it into strange matter, creating a black hole, or something. One interview with a scientist went so far as to describe people with such worries as "twats," which I thought was a refreshing bit of directness. Even so, when I read about people's worries, all I can think about is, "Prepare for unforeseen consequences."

"They're waiting for you, Gordon. In the test chamber."

Mmm...juicy tidbits

2007-Sep-19, Wednesday 20:09
dorchadas: (Iocaine Powder)
So, I just read an article in Science News about how, in some cases, obesity may be contagious. Apparently, there's a certain virus which can convert stem cells into fat cells. In the experiment they did, 30 percent of obese test subjects showed antibodies related to the virus. Apparently, though, the virus is only contagious for a few weeks.

This is partially my axe to grind, since I think America would have a lot fewer problems if people wouldn't use "Well, they should show some personality responsibility!" as code for "They're disgusting, subhuman and aren't worthy of our help."

Why I hate Terry Goodkind:
Now with textual support!

The series started out okay, but rapidly descended into thinly disguised BDSM and torture porn, ultra-capitalism wanking / Ayn Rand fandom, and "any ends justify the means when the Ubermenschen do it!" pseudo-justifications for the heroes brutal and capricious mass murdering of their "enemies," which include peaceniks, 8-year old girls, rape victims, and communist Muslimsthe Imperial Order. Also, Richard overthrows an evil socialist empire by carving a statue imbued with the power of CAPITALISM!!111!1!!

The link there has a bullet point list of a lot of the "OMGWTF" moments in the series, complete with direct quotes from the books.

This weekend's Within Temptation concert was amazing. Sharon den Adel is a lot shorter and cuter in person than she looks in the band's music videos. She also sings just as well, which is really impressive considering the stuff you can do in a recording studio. My only complaint is that they didn't play It's the Fear, which is probably my favorite WT song.

I've gotten into Neverwinter Nights and Xenogears more lately. The first because I can play it with [personal profile] schoolpsychnerd and I never beat it originally, and the second because I've owned it for close to two years and still haven't beaten it. Hopefully that'll change soon, and then I can finally beat FFVII. Just in time for the new PSP to come out and me to play Tactics.

Woo gaming.


2007-Sep-10, Monday 19:03
dorchadas: (Gendowned)
So, I've just found possible the best example of the difference between science and SCIENCE!!!

Science is someone finding out that the colony collapse is probably caused by a virus

SCIENCE!!!! is some guy discovering that when you expose it to the right radio frequencies, you can burn salt water for fuel.

Yep. That's right. You can burn water.

Of course, this means all those wacky super-villain plots just got more plausible.



2007-Sep-02, Sunday 02:22
dorchadas: (Dreams are older)
I have found possibly the most hardcore animal on the planet: "Vampyroteuthis infernalis". It's scientific name means "Vampire Squid from Hell." \m/

Walking alone at night, even through an obviously safe suburban neighborhood, is still incredibly creepy. I just got back from a short walk, and it reminded me of what was possibly the creepiest single thing I've ever done--walk home, alone, from the pub on Inis Meáin back to the house where we were staying. It was about a mile and a half walk, and I think there was maybe one light on the whole path. Two nights I did it with my friends, but the third night I was alone. That was the night where Roxie told us that the previous night, she had left the pub about five minutes before one of the other students, walked home alone along the only path back to the house she was staying at, and arrived five minutes after them. They did not pass each other on the way. Nothing huge, but it was enough to set the mood when the only thing I could hear was the sound of the wind, my footsteps and the beating of my heart.

There was an old barrow off the side of the road. I did not go investigate it.

I originally thought that being married would be some kind of major change--that I'd be made different somehow, because of it. Apparently, I was wrong. [ profile] softlykarou and my relationship hasn't really changed after being married, other than being introduced to people as "the married friends" with a smile and a faint twitch. This is, in retrospect, not a bad thing. I imagine that having a child, if that ever happens, will be a much bigger change.

Mecha alert!

2006-Nov-03, Friday 17:22
dorchadas: (Terminator)
Power armor in our lifetime?

It figures it'd be the Japanese who invent this. :p


2006-Apr-19, Wednesday 17:59
dorchadas: (Drop Bear)
So, I went to pay for gas today (since I had maybe a gallon left in the tank), and discovered that, once again, gas is $3 a gallon. And this is in April. I'm willing to bet that it'll be $3.25-$3.50 by the summer, and that's assuming a hurricane doesn't push it up to $4.50 or higher.

These prices actually don't bother me too much--maybe they'll convince the 50% who voted for Bush in 2004 how stupid a mistake they made--but the problem is, people won't realize that it's a good opportunity to push alternate energy research. They'll just scream for lower gas prices now and vote out anyone who doesn't deliver. Not that, strictly speaking, I can blame them. I have plenty of free space in my budget to soak the price increases. Most people don't.

Worry, worry...
dorchadas: (Ninja Kirby)
This is a story my father told me a few months ago. Before I begin, here's an article on Skin Depth. It's very, very short, but helps explain the story.

He was doing an experiment with a group of other physicists involving detecting a stream of particles shot into a sphere-shaped room. They were looking for interactions between the particle beam and the sphere...but they got nothing. After a couple tries, they sent someone into the room with a flashlight to see if there was a hole in the sphere while the others waited outside and watched the spot of light on the sphere's surface from the person inside looking around.

It took about five minutes before one of these Ph. D-educated particle physicists said, "Skin depth."

If the sphere let visible light through, it'd be effectively air to the particle stream.
dorchadas: (Terminator)
While Donald Rumsfeld crewing a ship that would possibly be in charge of a first contact situation is, in my opinion, pretty much asking for the beginning of a genocidal war, there's a reason I chose to include it as the title of my post. After a theoretical physics paper presented at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics annual conference won first place, the U.S. government has expressed interest at using the theories presented within to develop an honest-to-gods warp drive. Even the way it works is fantastic--generating a huge magnetic field to provide thrust, or, at high enough power levels, drop the spaceship into another dimension where the speed of light is faster. A literal hyperspace.

Of course, I'm leery about it actually working, and more worried about how much of an effect that strong of a magnetic field would have on the crew, not to mention shipboard equipment, but still. My government believes in this enough to fund research into hyperdrive. How awesome is that?

I've been reading Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead recently. I've always hated Ayn Rand's philosopher (as a sort of disclaimer), and this book hasn't changed my opinion. I think the main character is supposed to be likeable, since he's a shining paragon of self-sufficiency, but really, he's just a self-absorbed asshole. I put the book down after the rape scene where the woman, after Roark (the main character) leaves, goes to the bathroom to wash herself, but stops because that means she would remove his scent from her skin and she's obsessed with him...not cool.

[personal profile] schoolpsychnerd came to visit this weekend, and most of what we did...was play WoW. Well, okay. We did a bunch of other stuff (like watch Cowboy Bebop), but I got her hooked on WoW as well. According to [ profile] kraada, I am now the moral equivalent of a crack dealer. Really, I'm not sure that's so wrong :-p


dorchadas: (Default)

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