shirenomad: (speculative)
I'm ashamed to admit that I forgot Saturday was Talk Like A Pirate Day. Nonetheless, I had it covered by sheer accident: I went to see Ponyo with my girlfriend, which is a seaworthy movie and therefore at least thematic. So yarr, sort of.

Movie review in 100 words or less: Fun, feel-good, but somewhat simple in theme and plot, and less emotionally moving than I'm used to seeing in a Miyazaki film... also of lower budget in the animation, and nothing in the soundtrack grabbed me either. Don't go in with expectations of being blown away like you were for Spirited Away; this is clearly meant for kids first, adults second. And try not to snicker at the techno-remix of the ending theme. Still better than the majority of children's films available.
shirenomad: (mixed)
There were some flyers up this past week on campus for a "Women's Law" event. My first instinct, on seeing those words as the headline, was that I would be unwelcome if I attended. It's for women. I am not a woman.

The event, upon closer investigation of the flyer, was about sexual assault law. Which is just as important for men. Some men (hopefully no one on campus) assault. Some men are even assaulted. Men are sometimes the one prosecuting or defending the assaulters, or sitting in judgment over them on the bench. And it's unlikely that men will ever drop below 50% of the legislators that could improve the law on the subject. In short, it's something men have an influence on and need to hear about. Why would you want to label such an important and universal topic with an exclusive label? Why would you dismiss, even subconsciously, 50% of the population from learning more on the subject? They could have led with "Law of Sexual Assault." Or "How Our Law Fails to Prevent Sexual Assault" if they wanted to be challenging. They didn't. Why?

It's for reasons like these that I want to strike this category of terms from the English language: "Feminist." "Gay Rights." "Black Pride." All of these name a specific group, and the instinctive reaction is that the members of that group are the only ones who are welcome to contribute their voice to the cause. We have groups for all of them on campus; am I going to sign up for any of them? No. Am I going to attend any of their events? If they lead their advertisements with the group name instead of the topic, very unlikely. I'll grant that the groups also serve the social purpose of letting people with similar social upbringings meet and network -- especially true for the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish orgs who can debate the more personal issue of how their faith will influence their career. But when it comes to subjects and causes that everyone should be thinking about, why be exclusive?

I'm for Equality. I'm for Equal Justice. I'm for Human Rights, Sentient Pride. Give me a group for that. Don't isolate yourself from me. Don't talk like your particular brand of equality can somehow be divided off from the others, or that only you can appreciate it. What's important is that everyone treat everyone with respect.
shirenomad: (insanity)
Today, former president George W. Bush spoke with reporters, giving his advice for President Obama regarding the "birther" movement.

"Frankly, this kind will never be satisfied. Their preferred candidate lost, and instead of accepting it like reasonable people, they've convinced themselves that you must have cheated the system somehow. Even a showing of evidence has only gotten them insisting that it's not good enough, since it didn't give the answer they wanted. Really, your best option at this point is to get the matter declared closed, maybe by a legal body, and then ignore them from here out. This won't convince them either, of course, even though the truth is on your side; they'll likely still consider you illegitimate four or even eight years from now. But at least you didn't let them waste any more of the nation's time."
shirenomad: (wtf)
Monday saw the release of Muntadhar al-Zeidi, the Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at then-President George W. Bush in the middle of a conference. Today Jimmy Carter commented with a declaration that the assault was "based on race." He elaborated by claiming that there is an "inherent feeling" among Muslims, especially in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, that someone outside their own culture is "not qualified to lead this great country," and that "an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity" toward Bush in general is generated by such racist stances. Suggestions that al-Zeidi might merely have been frustrated by and responding, albeit inappropriately, to Bush's policies were dismissed by Carter, who pointed out that "if he'd wanted to express that, he could have objected vocally. Maybe 'you are dishonest!' or something like that."

Afterward, Carter also mentioned that Kayne West's interruption of the MTV Music Awards was based on a "dastardly" belief that white people can't sing.
shirenomad: (crisis)
Not because he is willing to kill women and children in distant lands. Because he is willing to die for them.

God bless those who are also willing to die for them. May you rest in peace, Ms. Azadi.
shirenomad: (excited)
Yeah, today went well.
shirenomad: (memorable)
Unless the question is "can you get anywhere near the inaugural parade without a ticket?" in which case, "No we can't!"

But I did get to park my feet near the Washington Monument and see the actual inauguration on a nearby jumbotron, alongside a huge and dense crowd (although everyone in my area laughed whenever we were told we could be seated... no, we couldn't do that either).

Yeah, it was cold. Very. And I got to walk the three miles from Arlington in it, because both the Metro and the buses were packed to the brim. And there was ice on the Potomac and the Reflecting Pool as I crossed them. I'm actually grateful for the crowds because they generated a lot of heat; I'm also grateful I grabbed that thick and toasty coat while I was home for Christmas.

A very respectful invocation by Rick Warren. Christian theology, yes -- I'd expect nothing less -- but with a nod to the fact that not everyone listening is Christian ("we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood"). I also liked his "forgive us" part.

The Bush administration officially expired at noon. Biden was sworn in at 11:58 by my watch, but then there was a musical piece before Obama stood up there, which put him sworn in at about 12:05. So assuming my watch wasn't fast, Joe Biden was Acting President for about five minutes there. Of course, at 12:05, no one cared.

Here's his speech. Rather vague in his plans, but I like that; he knows that in a few hours he'll be getting his first briefing and will probably be forced to take a different direction to at least one of his goals. But the line I liked best was "To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." If he holds to that "if", I'm all for that foreign policy. Reward those who treat their people and other nations well; shun those who don't.

Like I said, I couldn't get a spot near the parade, so I went home and watched it on TV. I'll give him points for stepping out of his car and walking a couple blocks to be more public (and show he's not the type to spend his term of office scared of nuts with guns or explosive vests). But Barack, why'd you talk Michelle into coming out with you? She's in heels!

No Inaugural Ball for me, thanks; if you want 150 bucks out of me for a ticket to a dance, you'd better have Obama himself show up (or at least Barbara Feinstein). I'm gonna defrost instead.
shirenomad: (speculative)
About five months ago I wrote an analysis of who the final Cylon in Battlestar Galactica might be. It's here (and spoilerific). But I was watching some episodes with my brothers (who were catching up) just recently, and then it clicked. I know, with something like 90% certainty, who the final Cylon is. It's just too perfect not to be.

If you either want to figure it out for yourself, or are still catching up like my brothers are, or can't believe I'm geeky enough to write two posts on the subject, you can move on to the next post in your reading list. But if you're curious, read on. )

Progress.

Dec. 2nd, 2008 03:20 pm
shirenomad: (politics)
This is what needs to happen. Daily. Everywhere.

What Bush says or does, what Obama says or does, what I say or do, it may slow down the plans of a Jihadist (I use the term to describe those who blow up civilians as blackmail to the world), but it does not matter to the mindset of one, because we are the infidel to them and just one more enemy to be killed.

But the Jihadist goes into hotels and kills children because he thinks the Muslim world will laud him for it. Because he believes it will earn him paradise. And so the Muslim world as a whole needs to say what the Muslim Jama Masjid Trust in essence said today:

"We do not laud you for what you do, in fact we condemn you to the point where we deny you the paradise you sought. You will not be given rest, you will not be given last rites. You look forward to what awaits you? We will make you terrified of it. You are not ours and you never will be."

They think they are the pinnacle of Islam, and it needs to be Islam that throws them off their perch. What happened today was a good start.
shirenomad: (at work)
Torts. Since it's closed book but relatively simple (read the story, er, "fact pattern" and play Spot The Lawsuit), I think I'm okay, especially after the practice exam I tried Sunday and compared with some other students in the class. I'll review tomorrow morning to be sure.

Friday is Contracts, and that may be trickier, since my notes still aren't organized. (Making your outline at the last minute IS studying!)
shirenomad: (computers)
So, yeah, I was kind of off the air for a while, but I had a good excuse. My motherboard fried.

I have never been so glad to have a laptop, since it kept me linked with the world for those two weeks (although most of your email addresses weren't on it, hence the lack of contact with many of you). And thankfully, my hard drives were undamaged, so ultimately no data loss either. But the motherboard itself was five years old, and had a lot of slots that you don't find on modern boards. So replacing the board meant replacing all the parts in those slots too. Grand damage: $500 once all my rebates come back, which isn't as painful as I thought it'd be but still means "Chris's retroactive computer fund" got added to the Christmas list.

But hey, new computer. After nearly five years on this one. I went for a motherboard with a lot of potential for expansion, which I hope will be enough to ward off future unneeded replacement parts, and also will let me spend a hundred here or there down the road to improve it even further. More importantly, I replaced the housing; technically this wasn't needed since all the new stuff would have fit, but I have the sneaky suspicious that the burnout was because something overheated badly in there. My previous housing had minimal ventilation with a small fan in the corner. My new one has plenty on the front and back, and a fan on the side directly over the processor that takes up nearly half the surface. (It also isn't that ugly beige.)

Salvaged were both hard drives, the CD and DVD burners, the wireless modem, and the dialup modem (why do I still have that thing? because I have the free slot, that's why). Also, to my pleasant surprise, the old Windows install worked on the new system with minimal effort; I was expecting to have to reformat and reinstall everything, which would have been painful. (I considered doing it anyway just to iron out some old quirks of the system, but I decided it wasn't worth the effort in the end. But I did pick up some registry cleaning software, to make sure no changes came back to bite me.)

The real trick was getting all the gear. Remember, I have no car now. Thankfully, there's a MicroCenter about 15 minutes walk from the final stop on the Metro Orange Line, so out I went on Saturday to go shopping. Yes, I did the research in advance; I wasn't going to waste an hour Metro round trip for nothing. Still, hauling the new housing back to the station might have been too much for me. So God sent a parent and his two kids, coming back from grocery shopping, who offered me a lift. Since psycho kidnappers don't bring their kids with them, I wasn't going to refuse.

And oh man, I'm loving the new processor. I could have done better with the RAM and graphics card if I'd wanted (and didn't mind shelling out even more money), but instead I invested in the motherboard and a processor to match. Everything's running so much smoother now. I've even been able to max out the settings on most of my games. So pretty...

Stats, for those inclined to follow those things:
OLDNEW
ASUS P4P800ASUS P5Q SE2
Intel Pentium 4 2.4 GHzIntel Core 2 Quad Q8200 2.33GHz
4 x 512MB PC3200 RAM2 x 2GB DDR2 800 RAM
GeForce FX 5500 AGP 16x 256 MBGeForce 9500GT PCI-E 2.0 DDR2 512MB
ADI AD1985 (internal)7.1 High Definition CODEC (internal)
3COM 3C940 Gigabit Ethernet (internal)10/100/1000 Gigabit Network (internal)

Let's see, did I forget to mention anything? Oh yeah, there's some holiday this Thursday, and some sort of exams next week... nothing important. *goes back to the games*
shirenomad: (insanity)
If you saw ME in a police car, what would you think I got arrested for? Answer me, then post to your own journal and see how many crimes you get accused of.

Interviews.

Nov. 7th, 2008 04:34 pm
shirenomad: (otherworldly)
For those who remember these memes, I'm doing something similar. Again, asking for the same kinds of questions, but this time, instead of hiding their identities until someone guesses or I get enough questions, I'm giving their names in advance. Which won't help because a lot of you don't know who most of them are, and none of you know all of them (I think one of you holds the top spot by knowing seven). These are all characters I RP or have RPed, or write or have written, and I think it would be good practice for me to think about how they might react in whatever situation you can toss their way. So go nuts with the questions, and find out more about them along with me.

1) Tor
2) Mina
3) Grace
4) Lucca
5) Fish
6) Joni
7) Elly
8) Vic
9) Bridget
10) Mark

One more thing: if you could, refrain from asking about characters you're already familiar with. This will be more interesting if you offer your questions blindly.
shirenomad: (encouraging)
You have my prayers and my support, Mr. Obama. Congratulations, and may you serve with wisdom and honor.

Tomorrow.

Nov. 3rd, 2008 04:27 pm
shirenomad: (speculative)
For those living outside California (or inside but under a rock), Proposition 8 is a measure on tomorrow's ballot to codify "Marriage is only between one man and one woman" into the state constitution. This has not surprisingly drummed up a lot of debate, controversy, and outright hostility, although I've missed most of it due to my move to the DC area.

There's this website called PostSecret.com. (This is related to my previous paragraph; bear with me.) People mail anonymous postcards to the address on the page with their secrets on them, and scans of the cards go up on the website. For some, it's a proud statement of something they don't feel good about boasting in public. For others, it has become a confessional for those who prefer the web to a church. Either way, it's no doubt cathartic for many of the writers, some of whom later write back and say just getting the words out there gave them the courage to confess to someone in person, or otherwise deal with the problem.

The website manager has a bit of a sense of timing with posting submissions; this Saturday he put up a lot of election-related secrets. One reads: "I steamed open the vote-by-mail ballots from my office and kept the ones that voted YES ON 8."

Somehow, that didn't shock me too much. What did shock me were the comments on the site that readers made in response. Again and again, the message was "I hate Proposition 8 with a fiery passion but YOU DON'T DO THAT."

The response gave my cynicism a kick in the jewels. I've encountered people who've had sort of a "whatever it takes to win" attitude regarding elections, and more have been on the side of the Democrats than the Republicans this time (bitter over the last eight years, I'm guessing). But that thread of comments restored my faith a little: the knowledge that people will say "if we're going to win, it's going to be because we have the numbers."

I stood in line for nearly four hours on Saturday afternoon to vote early (in order to avoid standing in line for even longer on Tuesday after class got out), and I was out there that long because over a thousand other people were waiting with me. Why?

Wednesday morning (barring a repeat of 2000), we'll know who won, and some will consider the result a disaster but they will not ignore the results and try to put the other guy in the White House come January. Why?

People who utterly oppose a decision are still just as loudly supporting the right of someone to be in favor of it. Why?

Because we're all confident that, whatever the results, this is still the right way to do things.

See you Wednesday.

Blind

Nov. 1st, 2008 06:23 pm
shirenomad: (philosophical)
The Tale of the Six Blind Men and the Elephant

Six blind men encountered an elephant one day. The first blind man felt the leg and said, "Ah, the elephant is like a tree trunk." The second felt the elephant's massive side and said, "Ah, the elephant is like a wall." The third felt the ear and said, "The elephant is like a large fan." The fourth felt the trunk and said, "The elephant is like a python." The fifth felt the tusk and said, "The elephant is like a spear." And the last felt the tail and said, "Clearly, clearly, the elephant is like rope." And although none had a full view of the elephant, they had all experienced it, and they were all in some ways right and in some ways wrong.

That's a good story, but you forgot the seventh blind man.

I'm sorry? What seventh blind man?

The one who thought the elephant was like a bathtub.

...Bathtub? I don't follow. Did the elephant spray water--?

No, that would be like a shower. I mean a "sit in it and soak" bathtub.

Hmm.... Okay. I give up. How is an elephant like a bathtub?

I don't know either. But isn't it amazing? We should all learn from what he's discovered about elephants. Maybe I'll tell a biologist or two.

But I'm not seeing HOW an elephant is like a bathtub.

Well, of course not. You haven't seen the entire elephant either.

Yes I have.

But you haven't. The point of the story is that we're all blind and no one's seen the whole elephant, so we all experience pieces but only pieces. Now, if we WEREN'T blind, we might see that the seventh man missed the elephant entirely and walked straight into the lake.

...clever. But also cheating. He didn't experience the elephant at all.

But you can't KNOW whether he experienced the elephant unless you can see the whole elephant yourself. What if they'd encountered a hippo instead? Does the blind man who thinks the hippo is like a python have a piece of the puzzle, or is it likely he simply grabbed a nearby hose by accident?

Probably the latter. But--

And yet you're just as sure an elephant IS partially like a python, but not like a bathtub. That's because YOU know for sure what the whole elephant and the whole hippo look like, right?

Okay, fine. Your point?

My point is that the whole story's supposed to be a metaphor for God and people's views of Him, and it's a way of saying "everyone's equally right." But how can you know? Maybe someone's explored God more thoroughly and has both the trunk AND the leg, while someone else has just gotten themselves soaked. So how can you know that EVERYONE'S seen a piece, but only a piece, of God -- for that matter, that no one's piece is more or less accurate than the others -- unless you're claiming YOU know EXACTLY what God looks like?


(Credit to Randy Newman -- the author, not the musician -- for pointing out the flaw in the Tale, although the seventh blind man was my own idea.)
shirenomad: (wtf)
"According to the latest Rasmussen poll, in the wake of the financial-sector bailout bill passed last week, 59 percent of Americans would vote the entire Congress out of office. The other 41 percent would achieve the same result without the voting part through a variety of means, the most popular of which involves a coal or petroleum byproduct along with a poultry byproduct." - ScrappleFace
shirenomad: (memorable)
Free admission.

Really not sure I'll be able to take advantage of this, stupid classes, but maybe someone else on my list will.
shirenomad: (amused)
In lieu of actual content, here's a truly epic cat video.
shirenomad: (insanity)
MORE COWBELL.



(There we go... didn't embed right the first time.)
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