The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Controversial corporate leader bows out of race

Carly Fiorina.

Yeah, her computers sucked. I bought two of them, in 2006 and in 2011; so I'd know. And I am not pro-life, which she is. (We are both honest enough that we cannot accept "pro-choice" as an honest term.)

But I did respect Fiorina herself, especially toward the end. I don't know where she'd fit best in the next Administration, though, and that... might be why she didn't win.


posted by Zimri on 19:03 | link | 0 comments

Microsoft's man in Denver

Chris Wallace, head of the Denver Visual User Group, signals: Every student must have the opportunity to learn computer science @codeorg http://code.org #CSforAll http://denvervisualstudio.net #DVSUG

Here's his motto (my bold): Denver Visual Studio User Group leader, C# http://ASP.NET software guy, Microsoft MVP, private pilot, member AOPA. No Pointless Babble!

I have to conclude that Wallace did intend a point in that "#csforall" he splurted on Twitter. I mean, beyond "I'm a good person who's diverse". I can't figure out what that point is, though.

Maybe if Microsoft's MVPs showed some fellow-feeling with American citizens, instead of dividing us with insinuations that somehow we're denying other Americans this opportunity. Maybe if Microsoft itself was more willing to work to get American citizens access to jobs, so learning CompSci was actually, you know, worth the effort.


posted by Zimri on 18:38 | link | 0 comments

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Marco Rubio sure is clean and articulate

Anonymous Conservative wonders what they got on him.

If Rubio wasn't an establishment politician, I'd ignore all this as a horrible slander. Especially since the pictures aren't good and are being posted at a sketchy site.

Except... here's Business Insider in 2013:

Also, from American Son (2012): One night, near the end of the South Beach season, my friends and I made plans to attend one of our favorite South Beach haunts for a “foam party,” ... Jeannette told me that if I went out that night, there would be no turning back... I went out anyway. Then, Rubio wants us to believe, there followed some remorse and redemption blah blah blah.

That picture above is very sanitised from what actually happens in foam parties, or at least happened in them during 1995. (That 1995 Miami New Times article Foam Sex does, indeed, exist. Still.) And Rubio isn't being pointed out as in the party of the picture, which looks to me like a hipster (read: faux) foam party at a 2012 Spring Break. Hmm.

I can see swingers going to swingers bars in Houston. I can see sado-masochists going to "People Exchanging Power" events in Houston. I can see goths going to #Numbers in Houston. I can see attendees at foam parties in Houston... well, I can see them in Montrose in Houston. NTTIATWWT.


posted by Zimri on 20:46 | link | 0 comments

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

How Richard Dawkins got based

The Social Justice Delusion isn't a book yet, but it damned well should be. [h/t Xenosys.] "Based" is, I believe, the antonym for "pwned" (or "pozzed", these days).

It may even have been Moldbug who put Dawkins on his present path. Nice to see how little Dawkins cares these days for what you think of him.


posted by Zimri on 17:23 | link | 0 comments

Monday, February 01, 2016

Passover

Clinton ... Tells Iowan Supporters To Mark Front Doors With Campaign Logo Before Sundown


posted by Zimri on 17:47 | link | 0 comments

Mythica review-roundup

Snow day today, so, home early. I come with a roundup of reviews and critiques:

Seaver is probably the best of these.


posted by Zimri on 16:39 | link | 0 comments

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A new kind of hero

Conan, Prince of Persia, and Mythica all had mixed-sex adventuring parties. They each followed their own model.

The lead in Conan was an alpha male. Conan's crew had a clear hierarchy: you're the big blonde woman who's good in a fight, you're the Mongolian asexual dude who's also good in a fight. Done.

The titular Prince of Persia in his movie wasn't an alpha, and he took a raft of sh!t from his female sidekick, but he also didn't have to fend off potential male rivals in his own crew. Lucky for him, his crew was a Sudanese warrior subservient to a tea-party ostrich gambler (no, I am not kidding, go watch the thing).

I think that with Mythica, the leader of the gang was that priestess trying to get her sister back... and that priestess was pretty much useless in a combat situation. Which left Marek to keep the team together and, indeed, to recruit said team in the first place.

Mythica is not standard hero-journey storytelling. Even Devil Wears Prada followed a masculine script...

But equally Mythica doesn't care for the Young Adult obsessions one finds in, say, Twilight. Mythica presents to us the epic hero as den-mother; herding wayward children and getting them out of trouble.

Like I said, "interesting".


posted by Zimri on 22:30 | link | 0 comments

Mythica

I found a cheap-ish DVD at the Wal*mart today: Mythica.

This is a Dungeons-and-Dragons movie. You will understand nothing of what is going on if you don't start with that. For instance: nobody in real life, in mediaeval times or today, would ever say "we need a thief" unless he was a detective. But in D&D, they say that all the time; thieves do the scout-work and break-ins that the more respectable party members can't do, but have to get done - to avoid unnecessary bloodshed, necessary blood being defined as that in the veins of the respectable party members. Nowadays they've PC'ed that up into "rogue"; but that doesn't mean the characters in Mythica have to observe our niceties. Moreover, there is in this genre a distinct division between Divine magic, which is done by priests, and that other sort of magic which is at base chemistry-calvinball. And in this particular movie - this is important - there is a third sort...

Starting with that, we'll get to what I liked. The actors and actresses generally did fine. Kevin Sorbo was clearly the headliner to get the fangirls into the theatre, and he did his Sorbo thing, but he is not a main character. (Sean Bean was either holding out for a larger cheque or else was told that he wouldn't get killed in this one.) The CGI snake, summoned up by Phantasmal Force and therefore not real, was also a nice touch. You see, I was in on the joke. These are first-level illusions. They are supposed to look fake. It still looked cool though!

What I didn't like: The priestess characters sinned against mimesis, with their fake accents and deliberately-superior attitudes. I didn't get a feel for them as real characters. Yes, one was a MacGuffin; the Princess Peach whose absence from events drives the plot. No excuse for her sister, though. A greater sin against mimesis is how weak crippled girl somehow was able to leap onto a heavily-muscled orc and slit his throat - I think it was two orcs in fact. I suppose she'd slaughtered the odd hog back at the farm but, if so, this needed to have been alluded to earlier. Also: there was another MacGuffin here in the form of a magic stone which that captured priestess was holding on to. One plot device be enough, surely? The big Fighter who was supposed to be the muscle for the crew spent most of the movie severely wounded; since the man can act, he seemed wasted here.

Worldbuilding was... interesting. This is a hardcore mediaeval setting - I mean, Dark Age hardcore. Besides calling the thief a thief, I raise trigger-warnings for slavery, attempted rape, often-forced prostitution, and teenaged girls being beaten and called "bitch". When I was starting out with this flick, I found this world so brutal that I thought the plot would centre upon overthrowing the humans' barony. (And I am a Moldbug neo-feudalist.) But, no; the main characters leave the barony and set to fighting orcs and an ogre. I suppose... it might be a despotic shithole, but it's our despotic shithole? If that's where the movie was going, then some character really should have stated that case.

Marek the lead character, a magic-user (i.e. calvinball-chemist) was most interesting of all. She is loyal to her pack. But she has also got some weaknesses; and she rushes into situations that she's too weak to handle by herself (never mind the orc-slaughtering, that was just the one silly scene). When she does get into a scrape she cuts corners. Also, perhaps since she starts out with a bad leg, but more-likely because she was a frequently-brutalised slave... there's darkness in her. It turns out she has an innate talent for that third sort of magic I'd noted. The movie calls it "necromancy" but unlike Peter Jackson, it misuses the term. A "necromancer" in this world doesn't talk to the dead; she pulls upon the magic within life, human life, to power her spells. Dark Sun players of a certain age will recall the Defilers. Needless to say, this is eeeevil. And that is why the priestess gets a fat "no!" from her goddess when she asks her nicely will you please heal Marek's wounds.

There are some interesting themes here about faith, and choices, and what differentiates "good" from "evil" in a world this nasty. This could become the fantasy Breaking Bad. Not yet, though...

Overall, this first movie is interesting. Rotten Tomatoes' users (there were no real critics) gave it 85%ish and IMDB gave it 65%ish; I lean to 60%ish - worth $10, I paid $15 (sigh). It is certainly better than most mediaeval fantasies. It is the first part of a series and I find that there is a second installment out already. I look forward to seeing that.


posted by Zimri on 21:15 | link | 0 comments

Desktop speakers

When I moved here in late 2011, I bought a computer - and then, new desktop speakers. I went the Best Buy route. This is probably them.

They worked fine for what they are. As one whose speakers have ruined at least one monitor in one's computer life - hoorah for the magnetic shielding. The headphone jack is pointless, on the minus side, and the bright diode is annoying.

So now I have a new computer. And from it the old speakers sound bad at (not so) loud volumes. ("It's 2016.") The Insignia speakers were basically stopgap speakers to tide me over until I needed better ones. It is a testament to my laziness that I didn't replace them.

On doing some research, there's talk about USB speakers, but it seems that USB powered speakers don't send up much power - and anyway, the new machine has analog too. I have very little notion how much power these old speakers here eat up on a good day: it doesn't say on the devices nor, indeed, on the page I linked, and the manual is gone ("it's 2016"). But the Insignia adapter is set up for 6.5 watts input, delivering 7.5VAC and 350mA to the speakers. The website tells me they only got 2-channel audio, as well, where the Realtek HD chipset I got would appear to support rather more than that (at least six).

(There is an AMD HD device here, too, so Device Manager tells me, but it does nothing. I have disabled it with no harm done... or help done.)

UPDATE 1:25 PM: Hmm. Maybe I have room for a subwoofer around here. (I know... noob.)


posted by Zimri on 12:41 | link | 0 comments

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Breaking the English language

We broke "whelmed"; we broke "queer" and "gay". Now we've broken "literally". [h/t Insta]


posted by Zimri on 11:35 | link | 0 comments

Neil Gaiman's malign influence

Neil Gaiman has a new collection out: Trigger Warning. In its introduction Gaiman takes aim at "triggered" crybullies. Today I have dug around here and found that I still haven't written a coherent Gaiman post. So I'll take a go at that now.

Over the 2000s I was a fairly avid follower of Gaiman's work, especially Sandman; but Stardust, Mirrormask, and Coraline also got read and/or watched 'round here.

Sandman was original. Stardust and Mirrormask were attempts at the magic of Princess Bride / The Neverending Story, and The Labyrinth, respectively (explicitly so with the latter; I watched Mirrormask's authorial recap). That much is all fine. I want my authors to flip between original-work and homage. Homage is the school you attend to teach yourself about the canon and about your own authorial talents. As to what I do not consider fine: Gaiman used Sandman as a vehicle for attacks on Western culture and morality.

This started early with his transgender character who, at the end when he dies, is buried as a man by his intolerant family. But his ghost ends up female! Yay! Another "LGBT" character, of the Harmless Old Bugger archetype, showed up in a later comic.

In between we had the award-winning (I think) "Ramadan" comic; which contrasted Harun al-Rashid's dream palace with the ruined "reality" of 1990s Iraq. (You know I wasn't going to let this slide...) Harun's world was one of beauty and wonder, pulled from Alf Layla wa-Layla. Here is Gaiman's dream of the Caliphate, a land of multiculturalism over which Islam benevolently presides. Beneath Harun, as for the Jews and the Christians - well:

That "Pope" under Harun al-Rashid would have been have been this guy, by the way; not the "pale" guys in Rome. But it's not like Gaiman gave much of a crap.

As for the western Papacy, later Gaiman would deliver his take on mediaeval Rome as well. The Pope, sorry "Psychopomp", is a greedy hypocrite who seeks temporal power as well as spiritual. Muslims are allowed a caliph and Christians aren't, due to their own books of rules.

Whether Gaiman was historically correct or not isn't my point - I say up front that, besides the intentional deviations, he did a (literally) wonderful job researching the Arabs' Harun romances. My point is that these are Gaiman's dreams. He deliberately chooses to make the transgender's family intolerant. He deliberately contrasts the best in Islam against the worst in Catholicism; he deliberately enforces Christians' rules on the Christians and neglects to challenge the Muslims' book and shari'a at any level.

So when Gaiman signals for transgenders and homosexuals, all within white Christian households at that, I get the impression he doesn't care about these for their own sake. What he cares about is subverting organised and self-confident Christian households. Why that should be, I shall leave to other bloggers.

(Oh, and Gaiman is also a thief of your tax dollars, and his donations are donations to his own kind. Just thought I'd remind everyone.)

So, recently, I learnt that a transgender has adopted the name Coraline, and that this transgender has become a Social Justice Warrior. I suspect we shall find in this broken man's blog that Gaiman's oeuvre was a strong inspiration for his journey into diabolic advocacy.

Now Gaiman is worrying about the djinn that has been unstoppered from its bottle. To that I say, the cork is in Gaiman's own hand.


posted by Zimri on 10:58 | link | 0 comments

Friday, January 29, 2016

Child of immigrants

I was reading this (isnad: Instapundit < Ann Althouse): I am a huge supporter of immigration — my parents were immigrants.

I was born a subject of Her Majesty. I got to America in the 1970s. I was basically still a toddler. My parents brought us. And then we got uprooted from that Yankee state and transplanted to Texas, with a whole different set of starting assumptions.

For most of my adult life I parrotted the same line: "I am for legal immigration, with assimilation; I am an immigrant myself, hooray America".

I had wilfully suppressed how I never did assimilate. How I never fit in at anyplace. How the Declaration Of Independence just reads as so much tosh to me (on this much I agree with my Dixiecrat cousins).

I grew up with no roots; no permanent friends; no identity.

I don't know if Trump is the best President for us today. I do wish Trump had been President in the 1970s... to keep us out. Maybe then we'd have settled back in England, and grown up with our own kind. Maybe I'd have grown up happier.

Maybe England would have been happier for it too. A few more pro-English Englishmen over there couldn't hurt, at this point.


posted by Zimri on 22:49 | link | 0 comments

Populism

Don Colacho: En el estado moderno ya no existen sino dos partidos: ciudadanos y burocracia. Trump is the candidate of the American ciudadano... like Peron was the first ciudadano of Argentina, and Chavez of Venezuela.

With Donald Trump, the worry one has (if you'll pardon my French) is that Trump will use our hatred against the burocracia. That he'll twist the Constitution; the way Peron twisted Argentina, and Chavez twisted Venezuela.

I've heard those arguments, I understand them, and I basically accept them.

But... who else have you got? Besides Cruz... I guess.


posted by Zimri on 19:00 | link | 0 comments

Thursday, January 28, 2016

"I'm a wounded vet, buy my crappy t-shirt"

I know that New York City gives licences to wounded veterans to sell crap on Fifth Avenue, but that doesn't mean we have to like it. Donald Trump doesn't like it. Score one for Donald Trump.

Veterans in America's wars are, indeed, brave and patriotic; and a risk of war is the risk of surviving it. Sometimes the veterans return to us with limitations in what they can do in future. I get this.

But veterans honorably-discharged go to work with the rest of us. That subset with the purple-hearts, also, go to work with the rest of us. When veterans turn to street-vending, though... that's not even "a step above begging"; it is begging. Otherwise they'd not require a licence to do this, over any other guy on the make.

And as for why this panhandling is allowed in Fifth Avenue, that is an interesting study in itself. I posit that this is allowed so that New York's political class can pose as having so much Concern For The Poor. Look at these Stark Contrasts, they can say, presenting the pictures to their gullible voters (as if there were any other sort of voter).

Trump was right: we respect your service, but to those who choose to panhandle here go find a real job.


posted by Zimri on 20:21 | link | 0 comments

Taking off from Jefferson Airport

Another sixties-era icon falls: Paul Kantner. Although I'll admit the Jefferson bands weren't one of my cultural touchstones in the way of, say, David "Bowie" Jones.

It is worth mentioning today, though... given this from Contra Costa Times, apparently tripping balls at the time:

Layers upon layers of fact-checking. That's our media here in Murrica.


posted by Zimri on 17:50 | link | 0 comments

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fowl play at Twitter

The Duck had pretty much asked for it. The last few tweets I saw from Teh Jokeocrat was a manic flurry of fantasies against prominent Left (and faux-Right) characters about how hard a Trump Presidency would punish them. These tweets were pretty dark, as a whole. Someone was going to report him.

Even if the Duck was undergoing a meltdown, which is possible, he remained funny to the end. I recall his tweet at Sabrina Erdely: it went something like - Trump will arrest all journalists, but fortunately for you you're in no danger of being mistaken for one. The Duck might not even have remembered this Stephen Glass student if it hadn't been revealed just a few days before that yet another of her old stories had been cooked.

As of now, Erdely is still on Twitter; and the Duck is not.

Which says all you need to know about why, exactly, Twitter might not long survive him.

UPDATE: Storified!


posted by Zimri on 21:51 | link | 0 comments

The passive-aggressive voice in French grammar

By an isnad from Xenosystems.net from ZeroHedge from Gatestone, I present Henri Guaino, MP.: Can we not talk about subjects that split opinion? If you talk about immigration, you are a xenophobe. If you talk about security, you are a fascist. If you talk about Islam, you are an Islamophobe.

I was immediately reminded of such "questions" in Paul Casanova's work: the questions beginning ne pouvaient que, ne parle-t-il pas, n’est-il que, and on and on. "Could they not -"; "Isn't it only -"...

All of it is quite annoying to the reader, and I do believe that Strunk and White had discouraged such rhetoric at least in English prose. For a politician, though, rhetoric is the point; such creatures won't talk about immigration, security, or Islam directly but they will raise the question. And, in the process, they suggestively play the martyr for Free Speech.

But then, those Frenchmen who hear Guaino's dogwhistle and aren't already in his kennel will simply wince, and shrug it off - because they'll know Guaino as one who will not stand for those convictions himself. As for Casanova ... he ended up sounding like a politician too.

I had left such "questions" alone where Casanova raised them, because - comme je l’ai déjà dit - it was not my mandate to rescue that essay from its own prose. But I will suggest here that if Casanova had presented his argument in a less insecure fashion, then over the middle twentieth-century it may well have attained a less insecure readership.


posted by Zimri on 19:03 | link | 0 comments

Monday, January 25, 2016

Naming Planet Nine

The planets get named after Roman gods - the great gods, corresponding to the Olympians or at least to the Titans before them. That's just how it effin' is. Given that... which god should rule over the ninth?

"Diana" is - if we agree to associate her with Artemis - already associated with the Moon. "Vulcan" implies intense heat and iron, so belongs to that planet inside Mercury's orbit which - famously - does not even exist (but hey, it's open to other solar-systems!). Next: "Minerva", suggested by Space Battleship Yamato - this one, I thought was goofy even when I was eight years old, given how damned cold it is out there. To sum up, we do not have many options in the stock of major Roman gods.

The good news is, we still have the underworld gods - I would say, more so, now. That current KBO named "Pluto" received said name in 1930, when people still thought that that roaming point reflecting the sunlight was going to be a large one. But now we know it is not a large one - it is, in fact, bound to Neptune in a resonance. This means, for mythological purposes, the Americans were wrong to name #134340 for an independent god. I am sure that classical-era myths survive of mortals who are drawn into the sea and now serve it as slaves. Or perhaps we might find a folktale concerning the tides? Such is the field of myth that should furnish #134340's name, instead. Either way "Pluto"'s name can be ignored, so the underworld is free again for whatever we find outside the Great Eight.

I would give serious thought to naming the new planet "Pluto" again, or maybe something less Greek like "Orcus" (also shared with a KBO). Minor-planets are allowed to share names with moons. Why not just reuse the old name for the new planet? The problem here is that it would work best if #134340 got renamed, which the Americans won't allow, and which is really confusing for historians as well.

Someone suggested "Nox" elsewhere, the god of night, but I'd prefer a major god.

On this vexed question of Naming Things, NPR is hosting a vote. In its course "Janus" came up: he is not even found in Greece, as far as I know, but he was a huge deal in Rome. "Janus" would mark this planet as the gatekeeper between our planetary system and Outside. True, "Janus" is already taken, by a moon, but said moon is minor enough it wouldn't be a problem to reuse its name. That name's main problem is that the planet is not the gatekeeper; there exists more solar system past the planetary system. Last I heard from Voyager, that probe still hasn't entered Deep Space yet.

I am leaning toward "Proserpina" - especially if its orbit is elliptical. Elliptical orbits mean summers and winters. That is the whole point of the Proserpina myth. Also with #134340 not being a real planet anymore, we don't have to worry about complaints "she's a subordinate to Pluto!" - we can counter that with "fine, so let's rename #134340, to not-Pluto". I concede that Proserpina is more Greek (via the Etruscans) than truly Roman but then, Uranus was even more so. There's also already an asteroid (rather than a tiny moon), but also, who cares? More of a problem is that "Proserpina" is just hard to pronounce. But the planet itself is hard to get to.

Yeah, let's go with that.


posted by Zimri on 17:02 | link | 0 comments

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