Log in


So I've recently re-read two more childhood books: A Wrinkle in Time, and A Wind In The Door. Swiftly Tilting Planet is on my shelf. The printing of Wrinkle I read had forewords and afterwords about the author, especially one by a granddaughter, talking about Madeleine's enthusiasm for science. Which, sure, you can tell in the books.

Judging by the second book, though, she had less enthusiasm for getting it RIGHT.

* Madeleine says a galactic rotation is 200 billion years, off by 1000x.
* I don't have further specific examples, but billions of years or billenniums got thrown around pretty casually.
* Calvin says the number of cells in the brain and in the universe are exactly equal. More like, brains and stars in the galaxy are approximately equal.
* Someone, I think the farandola Sporos, uses parsec as a measure of time.
* Detection of screams in space... via sonic instruments, not radio ones. Also sonic instruments to find farandolae, which are unto mitochondria as mitochondria are to us. I'm not complaining about the fantastic premise of psychic farandolae, I'm just saying I don't 'sound' is really the process at work at that scale. But definitely not space...

Granted, this is the 1970s (urban crime fears!) and you'd have had to go to an encyclopedia or such to look stuff up, and it's easy to misremember billion and million. But still.

As for the books... I dunno. I think the first was stronger. Both have more buildup than climax or denouement, as it were.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/427264.html#comments


Oil state prudence and sovereign wealth funds: Norway vs. Alberta, also a look at how Norway's fund invests. I liked the Albertan complaining that Norway is a relatively small country: yes, but it has more people than Alberta... http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/international-business/european-business/norways-sovereign-wealth-fund/article25973060/?click=sf_globefb

Debunking the fear about EMPs http://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/24/the-empire-strikes-back/

Portugal, optimal currency area, and labor mobility: fiscal union trumps labor mobility in importance. http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/14/the-downside-of-labor-mobility/
Who cares about reserve currency status? http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/12/international-money-mania/

First we export pollution to China via outsourcing, now they export it back to us via air movements: http://www.sgvtribune.com/environment-and-nature/20150810/air-pollution-from-china-undermining-gains-in-california-western-states

Trees and bus stop waiting time perception http://www.citylab.com/commute/2015/08/trees-can-make-waiting-for-the-bus-feel-shorter/401135/?utm_source=atlanticFB

How the US 'justice' system abuses bail: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/magazine/the-bail-trap.html?smid=tw-nytmag&_r=0

Vampire squid: not a squid. (Or vampire, durr.) http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/06/23/vampire-squids-arent-vampires-or-squids/

Real paleo diet might have evolved around carbs. Oops! http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/13/science/for-evolving-brains-a-paleo-diet-full-of-carbs.html?smid=fb-nytimes&smtyp=cur

Privacy Badger, an EFF alternative to the supposedly more commercial Ghostery browser plug-in. https://www.eff.org/press/releases/privacy-badger-10-blocks-sneakiest-kinds-online-tracking

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/427150.html#comments

Real estate developers are our friends

Do you want more people to able to afford to live here? Then we need more housing.
Who builds housing? Developers.
Therefore, developers are our friends and we should make their lives easier.

If you don't like the conclusion, then your avenues of attack are "someone besides developers builds housing" or "we don't actually want more housing."

Often people say developers just build high-rent housing. But if businesses are limited in how much they can do, naturally they'll go for the highest *profit* activity first, which apparently means high-rent housing. But it's not like developers are averse to building cheaper housing: the US is littered with cookie-cutter subdivisions whose properties may include many soul-sucking aesthetic flaws but also cheapness. Unfettered businesses will in general explore all the avenues of profit to them, not just the high ones.

But building in desirable cities is usually massively fettered, and not to the benefit of anyone at the low end. Parking requirements, minimum apartment size, height limits, setback requirements...

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/426832.html#comments

Instability of the Byzantine emperors

So a while back I went through the kings of England from William the Conqueror on down, to see how well the principle of hereditary succession worked to keep things stable and predictable. Answer: not very well at all, until Parliament took over and drained the Crown of real power. As with the "emperors" of Japan, no one bothers stealing a ceremonial office. I will grant though they managed to keep it in the extended family: all the kings are descended from William, and after a couple generations they're all from Alfred the Great, too.

I'd wondered how other other places would stack up. Happily for me, for the Eastern Roman Empire someone has already done most of the work. Definitely not in the family here: a quick eyeball shows most dynasties lasting either a few years or about 80 years, almost on the dot. The Macedonian is an exception, listed at 200 years... though that's kind of an artifact of decision making. 50 years in we get Romanos I: "After becoming the emperor's father-in-law, he successively assumed higher offices until he crowned himself senior emperor." OTOH, he was overthrown and succeeded by the sons of his predecessor, so I guess he's more hiccup in the succession. We get another such hiccup with Nikephoros II and nephew.

Even within dynasties, succession is often to a brother, nephew, son-in-law(!), or adopted son(!). The first two are traditional enough, the latter less so. Succession is often not peaceful, either.

One big difference from the 'real' Roman Empire: a fair number (relatively speaking) of women in power. Empresses-regnant Pulcheria, Irene, Zoe, and Theodora; also a fair number of regencies by mothers, or in one case, a sister.
Female regents mentioned: Sophia for her insane husband, Martina for her son, Irene for her son (whom she then usurped), Theodora (different) for her son, Zoe (different) for her son, Eudokia for her son, Maria for her son.

The Komnenids seem second longest, at 104 years... ooh no, third; the final dynasty, the Palaiologans, went 192 years, and their founder had blood or marriage connections to the two prior dynasties. But this is still including civil wars, usurpations in the family, and accessions of maternal relatives.

To be fair, I've read that hereditary succession was never an official principle of either Roman empire, it was just a default, whereas having the right magical blood was important to the English.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/426732.html#comments

bike adventures: Bedford, Concord, Walden

I've never been much of a long distance biker; the fast majority of my rides are 10-20 minutes probalby 13-20. Shorter than that and I walk, longer than that and I don't bother. There've been the rare 'expeditions' into Altadena, or the SF Zoo, or further and further up the Minuteman bike trail, all the way to Bedford once -- 19 km each way. But mostly I'm a utility biker on a cheap mountain bike.

Well, motivated by various desires for more exercise and sunlight and such, I headed out for Bedford again. Leaving at 9:30! it wasn't too warm, 25 C. Still, I packed *two* liter bottles of water, as well as my spritzer.

Nothing too exciting at first, just biking and timing (25 minutes from Alewife to the Arlington TJ, Google says 23 minutes and 6.1 km, so I was doing 14.6 kph or 9 mph.) I noticed lots of side paths into nature preserves, as well as Spy Pond of course, and an art museum in Arlington; plenty of stuff to explore, if I wished. But I wished to go to Bedford and back.

One thing I noted: past Lexingont, some other bikers greeted me randomly, and I started doing the same myself to oncoming people. It sounds silly, but the smiles and acknowledgments with total strangers felt good.

So, I get there. The building at the trail end is only open weekends, but there's water fountain, and an older biker I asked showed me public bathrooms around the corner. So there's some utilities. Not much else -- like the much closer end of the Belmont bike path, you're dumped out into nother but busy streets.

But here's where my day got interesting. I asked another woman (whom I though was east Indian), whether the trail truly ended. Yes -- but there are dirt paths you can take to Concord and toward Walden and such. Interesting, I filed it away for later. I got to pay her back by pointing out the water fountain and bathrooms.

Then she asked if I wanted to follow her and her male companion to Concord. "Sure," I said, with the privilege of not even have to think about my safety. And I did. Down Loomis, and then left onto some path.

Good thing: on my own, I doubt I'd have had the courage to brave a narrow dirt path, unmarked, especially with T-Mobile's habit of dropping signal when I need it, not that Google knows about this route. We pretty much went in a straight line, so I could probably duplicate the route. The path itself is through some nature preserve, I later learned. Also... well, I'm glad I'm on a cheap and heavy bike; some small rocks in the path were surprisingly bumpy, and there were some dust pits near the end that made me worry about traction.

A friend IDs it as the Reformatory Branch Path. Yep. Huh, Google does know about it.

"This is Concord," she said. They split off, I found myself at Concord Road, eyeing some giant preserve across it, along with a hidden trail extension. Go bacK? Go on to Walden or the interesting parts of Concord, as she suggested? (I'd found that those were way south of where I was -- 20-24 minutes by Google time.) I figured I'd try for Walden, and noted it'd be faster to go to the train station than to bike back. Granted it's mostly downhill from Bedford.

She'd mentioned pastures; I saw farms. Like the Frank Scimone farm, with a giant sunflower, fields of corn or such, a decrepit greenhouse, and a flowers and produce stand, also looking somewhat decrepit. I bought a peach and a tomato; the peach was decent, haven't had the tomato yet. Some other produce was falling apart and covered in flies, though.

Down Concord, which turns into Bedford Street, then left onto Old Bedford Road, where out of nowhere a giant tree branch fell down with a dry creaking sound. And by 'branch' I meanmore like 1/3 of the trunk -- one of those trees that forks low down, and one of the tines just fell over. I gave that tree a wide berth.

More farms and other stuff to explore, if you wanted to roam old Concord, and a road I thought was rather faster than she'd led me to believe. 35 mph limit, which means even faster cars. I sidewalked most of it, but couldn't always.

I had another first, though: while I've used Google Maps a lot, I've never used the car GPS-style navigation voice. Figured it might serve me here, even speaking up from my pocket, and it kind of did.

Crossing Concord Turnpike was a pain, and the cars are REALLY FAST as you stand in the middle waiting for the next walk sign... though I didn't know the half of it.

Finally, Walden Pond! Looked on the left for bike parking, saw a replica of Thoreau's house, went down the hill to the right and found racks right by the pond. Sweet! And more water fountains!

OTOH I was totally unprepared for a beach, and I was running out of energy to go hiking around. By my stopwatch I'd been in motion for about two hours from home, not counting the various pauses. Remember that I usually don't do more than 20 minutes. And the temperature was up to 32 C -- not bad in the shade and with the wind of a bike, more oppressive standing still.

Chatted a bit with a ranger about trails, and how they should put up signs saying "bike parking and no trash cans down here".

And so I headed to downtown Concord, which is when it got unpleasant. Naturally I crossed Walden road to head back the way I'd come. But see, there's no real bike paths as such here, just a white line marking off the edge of the road. Coming, I could often pretend that was a bike lane, if narrow. Going... it was really narrow. I ended up walking to the intersection of Walden and the Turnpike.

Which is when I found no crosswalks. There's only one crosswalk, on the Pond side. I had no legal way of escaping my corner. I did, of course, but eww.

Then Walden continued to have a missing path problem for a bit: I continued to salmon even after that changed, since I was supposed to turn left onto Thoreau. Which also isn't bike friendly, until a sidewalk crops up on the other side.

Finally, the train station. I thought of exploring Concord before the next train, but was really beat. Hoooome.

Another first: I'd never taken my bike on commuter rail before. Turns out a 40 lb bike up rather steep and narrow steps is hard. I backed off to let the other passengers on, and finally wrestled it up. Then I folded up the basket, thinking that might make it easier to get off. Turns out, at Porter Square they let us off at a DIFFERENT door, so we had to dash our bikes down the aisle. Good thing I'd closed my basket, I'm not sure it would have fit.

'We', I said? The Indian couple who led me to Concord in the first place were also taking that train back, to Porter Square, even...

So, in the end, I probably biked as much as I would have simply coming back from Bedford. Maybe pedaled more, rather than coasting. But I got to see a lot more!

Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mindstalk/sets/72157656754439411

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/426318.html#comments


A tale of two cemeteries

Mount Auburn cemetery is famous. I'd seen it once before in 2011, though not for long -- on bike, and was told bikes aren't allowed. That pissed me off a lot; *cars* are allowed.

I finally went back today, though first going to the Belmont cemetery I'd noticed on a recent ride. That one: pretty boring. Lots of slabs, lots of American flags, just not that much there.

Then over to Mount Auburn, to park my bike and walk around. At least I got the order of cemeteries right -- it really is awesome! Huge, lots of fancy old sculptures, great landscaping. Near the end I looked at an interactive kiosk, which talked about both. The cemetery pre-dates public art museums by a few decades, so early on it served as an open air sculpture museum, which it kind of still is. And, the kiosk talked about the landscaping being deliberately chaotic, or irregular, or using what's naturally there rather than some imposed order. So at first it looks ordinary enough, though full of trees, but then a surprise fountain! And an even more surprising dell that looks really wild! And three other ponds.

I kind of got lost, actually; after the dell I thought I was still going south, until I made my Survival roll and noticed the sun on my left hand. By which point T-Mobile had given up on me, so I had a map of the cemetery but not my location in it.

Very quiet and restful in the right spots.

Until black flies come and buzz around my face. I'm guessing they wanted my sweat, especially as they went away after I sprayed myself a lot. I love that $6 sprayer from Ace Hardware.

Photo set.

Also on the way home, I passed a Mirkwood squirrel. Or at least, a really really dark furred, basically black, squirrel.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/426132.html#comments


8th grade biology was a long time ago

I forgot how complicated plant sex was. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_reproductive_morphology#Use_of_sexual_terminology

"Plants have a complex lifecycle involving alternation of generations. One generation, the sporophyte, gives rise to the next generation via spores. Spores may come in different sizes (microspores and megaspores), but strictly speaking, spores and sporophytes are neither male nor female. The alternate generation, the gametophyte, produces eggs and sperm. A gametophyte can be either female (producing eggs), male (producing sperm) or hermaphrodite (monoicous, producing both eggs and sperm).

In groups like liverworts, mosses and hornworts, the dominant generation is the sexual gametophyte. In ferns and seed plants (including cycads, conifers, flowering plants, etc.) the sporophyte is by far the most dominant generation. The obvious visible plant, whether a small herb or a large tree, is the sporophyte, and the gametophyte is very small."

Edit: this wasn't even in Biology class. Weird hybrid sex! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parthenogenesis#Hybridogenesis And it's how the edible frog reproduces.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/425787.html#comments


blood sports, Aztec vs. Europe

"The second myth is that in its appetite for death as spectacle the Triple Alliance was fundamentally different from Europe. Criminals beheaded in Palermo, heretics burned alive in Toledo, assassins drawn and quartered in Paris -- Europeans flocked ot every form of painful death imaginable, free entertainment that drew huge crowds... In most if not all European nations, the bodies were impaled on city walls and strung along highways as warnings. 'The corpses dangling from trees whose distant silhouettes stand out against the sky, in so many old paintings, are merely a realistic detail,' Braudel observed. 'They were part of the landscape.'"
-- Charles Man, 1491

Mann estimates England had twice the per capita execution rate of the Mexica, and France and Spain were even more bloodthirsty.

And the Mexica had had a bigger and cleaner city than any in Europe, that dazzled the conquistadors; public water projects more like those of the Romans than anything in medieval Europe; a developing philosophy; compulsory schooling for boys and girls alike...

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/425346.html#comments

Greece, Iceland, Latvia

When it's pointed out how well Iceland recovered with a floating currency, vs. long lasting euro depression, people sometimes object that it's a tiny country we can't extrapolate from. True, it is small. But then, when people talk about Latvia allegedly recovering despite austerity policies, let's remember its own oddities.

2013 Population (source: googling population iceland, etc.)
Iceland 0.323 million, peak in 2013.
Latvia 2.013 million, peak 2.667 million in 1989; 2.2 m in 2007, so 10% shrinkage in 6 years
Greece 11.03 million, peak 11.19 in 2009

GDP per capita (for comparison, 2013 US is $53k) (source same, Google's graphs)
Iceland: peak $68.8k in 2007, nadir 40.3k 2009, 47.5k 2013
Latvia: 13k 2007, peak 15.5k 2008, nadir 11.4k 2010, 15.4k 2013
Greece: 28.5k 2007, peak 31.7k 2008. nadir 22k 2013 and falling.

So yes, Iceland is small. Latvia is 7x bigger, but still 5x smaller than Greece.

Iceland is growing in population, Greece has shrunk 1.4% from its peak, Latvia has been continually shrinking since 1989 and has dropped 10% just in the crisis. (I don't know how much was deaths > births and how much was emigration. Kind of doesn't matter here: whether retirees or unemployed youth, they probably weren't contributing to GDP.)

Iceland was filthy rich at least on paper, and bottomed out at still 1/3 richer than Greece's peak wealth and almost 3x Latvia's peak. In turn, Greece was more than twice as rich as Latvia in 2008, and even in crashing is 2x richer than Latvia's nadir and 42% richer than Latvia's peak. So if you to throw up your hands and say Iceland is too different, we can't learn from it, then the same can be applied to Latvia's recovery: a small country, poor enough to still have lots of economic catch-up, and with massive population loss. Greece is more developed so has less room for rapid improvement, and where should 1.1 million unemployed Greeks go? Germany?

Picking at it more, Latvia's 2013 GDP/capita is 35% higher than 2010. Impressive! Iceland's 2013 is 18% higher than 2009, or 14% higher than 2010. But if Latvia lost 10% of its population who weren't contributing to GDP, then only about 23% (1.35/1.1) is actual productivity improvement. 7% annual growth in GDP/capita is very impressive, especially for a country that's not super poor (e.g. China is still under $7k) and for austerity, but again, given the baselines... it's not a good role model for a much richer country.


The other poster child for sudden devaluation is Argentina, which defaulted and dropped its peg to the dollar in 2001.

Population: 41.45 million in 2013, has been steadily if slowly increasing like Iceland's.

GDP per capita: old peak was $10k in 1998. Slid to 8.7k in 2001, crashed to 3.3k in 2002. Three years later back to 5.8k, or 75% improvement. 2013 (latest data in graph) was an all-time peak of $14.7k. 2008 was the first year above the 1998 peak, at $10.2k.

This is a country 4x the population of Greece, about the size of Spain, but still poorer than Latvia. So devaluation has worked well for a tiny country and a big (among those we're talking about) country, for a rich country and a poor one. One might start thinking it works well in general... just like good economic theory tells us it should.

One retort is that Argentina is a commodity exporter that lucked into a commodity boom. That might explain some of the sheer magnitude of the recovery. But there's no reason to think that's all of it. And the usual implication, if not statement, is that Greece doesn't export anything and therefore can't benefit from devaluation. That's simply bullshit: Wikipedia lists its 2014 exports as 27.2 billion euros, vs. a GDP of $238 billion nominal or $284 billion PPP. (Yes, it uses both euros and dollars.) Either way, we're talking exports of at least 10% of GDP (about the same as the USA!). Imports were 47.8 bn euros. Big trade deficit, but still a big export market that could benefit from devaluation.

One wrinkle is that almost 40% of that trade is refining imported oil: crude oil comes in, products go out, and a floating drachma wouldn't make imported crude any cheaper. Still, over 60% is other stuff. And conversely, tourism isn't listed as an 'export', though it's basically exporting experience to visitors, and totally benefits from a cheaper drachma. (The really big GDP sector is shipping; I have no idea if that benefits from a cheaper local currency.)

Conclusion: devaluation is still a good bet, and a better one than staying on gold the euro, and Latvia doesn't have a lot to teach countries that don't want to kill off or drive out 10% of their population in a few years.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/425173.html#comments

Europe burning

Metaphorically. Or abstractly, anyway.

There's all this news about Greece's debt crisis and Syriza apparently capitulating to the austerians[1], which is pretty depressing. But, as a reminder, Greece's GDP is 20% below peak. Unemployment is nearly 26%, and 60% for youth. While the EU fiddles over debt, the economy is burning -- human capital, the basis of developed economies, is atrophying. Or leaving. No one has a plausible proposal for fixing this on the euro, which has become basically a gold standard for eurozone countries, with all the problems thereof. AFAICT, hardly anyone is even talking about it as a problem.

And Spain, with 4x the population, is nearly as badly off, with unemployment over 22%. They're making their interest payments though, so no one cares. And we may hear even less from them thanks to a new gag law on political dissent. As a Spaniard I know tells us, Franco simply died, Spain didn't really purge the fascist influences from itself.

Still has a ways to go to catch up to Hungary though, which last I heard had gone pretty much full fascist, with a constitutional hardball coup d'etat.

In the UK, the Lib Dem collapse and plurality voting allowed the Tories to get a solid seat majority, even with hardly any more votes (just as the Tories did in Canada, with the Liberal collapse -- same vote percentage even, about 40), and Osborne's using that to double down on more austerity -- big welfare cuts -- without even the excuse of kowtowing to external creditors.

I don't have as many details, but the Nordics I know seem to think they've been swept by neo-liberal if not anti-immigrant parties, and that the Scandinavian welfare state is in deep danger.

[1] Coinage of 'austerity' and 'Austrian', as in school of economics. Expansionary austeriy has pretty much no support from economists, and is as intellectually respectable as Creationism, anti-vaxxer thought, and global warming denial, but clung to by many European leaders.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/424852.html#comments

Many photos

A small part of me says I should be curating my own galleries on my website. But Instagram was easy, and I've been using that, especially for sharing to Facebook. Of course, its capabilities are limited. I just re-discovered how easy it is to upload photos to Flickr, and while the ordering ends up wonky, there's an option to "arrange album by date taken", which fixes that in most cases.

So, enjoy! https://www.flickr.com/photos/mindstalk/sets
I've been going to local museums a lot recently.

There are also some photos in the photostream that aren't in sets, like a nice one of South Station.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/424549.html#comments


A/C and anime

We had some great weather for e.g. July 4th, like 20 C. It finally remember it's summer though, so now we're at 28 C and 71% humidity, or dew point of 22 C, which is oppressive. I've gone from running my bedroom A/C for a few hours to cool the bedroom (and feeling guilty for not using a fan, but privacy) to running it all the time and trying to cool the apartment.

So, one low power unit vs. a whole apartment doesn't do a lot for the temperature; my living room thermometer says 27.5 C. (To be fair, maybe it is doing a lot to fight what the temp might be given the apartment thermal mass. But it's not like getting my bedroom down to 20.) But it seems to make a big difference in humidity, my cheap Ace thermometer also includes a hygrometer, which reports 50% humidity, approximately a dew point of 17, just barely uncomfortable. Since my living room also has a ceiling fan and I'm sitting at the laptop shirtless, I feel pretty good.

To be fair, I've closed off the second bedroom pointless materialism storage room, and my kitchen and bathroom are tiny, so it's not like I'm cooling a large 2BR. Air circulation sucks though, it's basically rooms laid out along a hallway.


Watched two episodes of Wish Upon the Pleiades. People on RPG.net liked the series a lot. "Magical girl crossed with Carl Sagan". I have yet to see why, though I do see some physics intruding -- light years, Immelmann turns, and I saw time dilation in a spoiler. Character-wise, though, it's PreCure-style moeblobs, or something.

I'd seen the original OVA. It was weird.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/424379.html#comments


How the South skews America

Interesting piece, though it'd be more convincing with directly presented numbers about interstate differences, and comparing non-Southern states to the countries he invokes

"In practice, however, much of what sets the United States apart from other countries today is actually Southern exceptionalism."
"thanks to mid-century Southern members of Congress, welfare-state policies from home ownership to Social Security were designed to reinforce segregation or exclude the disproportionately-Southern black and white poor. "
"According to the FBI in 2012, the South as a region, containing only a quarter of the population, accounted for 40.9 percent of U.S. violent crime."
"Between the time the Supreme Court ended the ban on the death penalty and mid-June of this year, the South was responsible for 81 percent of the executions in the United States, with Texas and Oklahoma alone accounting for 45 percent of the whole."
"All of this leaves little doubt that, in the absence of Southern exceptionalism, the U.S. would be much more similar to other English-speaking democracies, which don’t subject their leaders to religious tests, don’t suffer from high levels of gun violence and don’t rival communist China and despotic Saudi Arabia in the number of executions per capita. Without the gravitational force exerted on the South, American conservatism itself would be radically different—more Bob Dole than Ted Cruz."

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/424001.html#comments

Melancholy, broadcast order

Just finished re-watching the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, in broadcast order, rather than the chronological order I chose when I first watched it, though I probably saw it in broadcast in club.

I'd forgotten, or now newly appreciate, how obnoxious Haruhi is early on. Sociopathic, even. The contrast is probably increased by having read The Coin, and more recently been watching The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan, in which she's still eccentric but a much nicer person. (Also that show got more interesting around episode 9, and even more so in 14 -- Haruhi suddenly gets an internal voice! Weird.)

Awesome band scene is still awesome.

Finale credits have I think two ENOZ members practicing outside, a detail you'd miss in chronological order, but easier to pick up when watching episode 12-12 and 14-6 in the same night.

I'm still agnostic on whether Haruhi is a secondhand god, wielding powers ultimately from Kyon. I don't like that theory, but I can see the ambiguity supporting it.

For a while I was thinking it hadn't aged well, but it does end on a strong note.


In other anime news, Nanoha ViVid never got particularly interesting. And I write Nanoha slice of life fanfic. Fail!

Next: Houkago no Pleiades.

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/423824.html#comments


Why Constantinople?

I was at Harvard's Semitic Museum (free!) today, and looked at a map, and had a thought:

So, the 'equator' of the Roman world runs NW-SE, from Britain into Egypt. Rome is practically right on the line. Tarentum, Athens, and Alexandria would also be good candidates. If you wanted to move the capital eastward, toward more of the people and wealth, then Greece, Crete, or Egypt look like great places. (Egypt's where Rome's grain was coming from anyway.) Maybe Syria or the Greek/Aegean side of Anatolia (Turkey)

Byzantium? Seems on the ass end of things. Note there's two narrow straits between the Aegean see and the Black Sea, and Byzantium is on the outer one, right on the Black Sea. And not much empire beyond it. Imagine trying to sail from Rome or Syria to Byzantium, seems rather a hassle, compared to other locations.

One thought is if Black Sea trade were really significant, much more so than I imagine it as the edge of the Mediterranean world, such that controlling the strait is important.

Wikipedia just says it had a good harbor and "Constantine identified the site of Byzantium as the right place: a place where an emperor could sit, readily defended, with easy access to the Danube or the Euphrates frontiers, his court supplied from the rich gardens and sophisticated workshops of Roman Asia, his treasuries filled by the wealthiest provinces of the Empire."

And obviously the defenses ended up being first rate. But still, it seems a weird place to pick as "eastern capital".

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/423624.html#comments

lost cause getting more lost


'It has been quite a few years since the lost cause has appeared quite as lost as it did Tuesday. As the afternoon drew on and their retreat turned into a rout, the lingering upholders of the Confederacy watched as license plates, statues and prominently placed Confederate battle flags slipped from their reach.

“This is the beginning of communism,” said Robert Lampley, who was standing in the blazing sun in front of the South Carolina State House shortly after the legislature voted overwhelmingly to debate the current placement of the Confederate battle flag. “The South is the last bastion of liberty and independence. I know we’re going to lose eventually.”

“Our people are dying off,” he went on, before encouraging a white reporter to “keep reproducing.”'

liberty, independence, white people. One of these is not like the others.

'In Austin, Tex., a tall bearded man went into the tattoo parlor where Kelly Barr works with a request: the removal a 10-year-old tattoo of the Confederate flag.

He told Mr. Barr that he had decided to get the flag removed when he saw the pained look on a middle-age black woman at his gym on Monday.

“ ‘If South Carolina can take theirs down,’ ” Mr. Barr recalled him saying, “ ‘I can take mine down.’ ” I told him, ‘Right on.’ ”'


A piece on South Carolina's Sikh woman governor, and her role in the rebel flag controversy.

'When she was about 5, Ms. Haley and her sister entered a “Little Miss Bamberg” pageant, where, traditionally, a black queen and a white queen were crowned. The judges decided the sisters fit neither category, so they disqualified them.'

'In the midst of the primary, two Republicans operatives emerged, making separate and unproven accusations that they had had sexual encounters with her. Ms. Haley, who was by that time married, strongly denied the assertions.'

'A Republican state senator, Jake Knotts, also went on a radio show and called her a “raghead.”'

'But some of Ms. Haley’s positions angered many African-American leaders, including her support of a law requiring voters to show identification cards at the polls, and her refusal to expand Medicaid under President Obama’s health care law. In 2013, Ms. Haley removed a member of her re-election campaign’s advisory committee after it was revealed that the member had ties to the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group that opposes “all efforts to mix the races,”'

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/423297.html#comments

Slavers' Rebellion history and flag backlash

A few decades early, but still apropos:

"I consider the Tariff act as the occasion, rather than the real cause of the present unhappy state of things. The truth can no longer be disguised, that the peculiar domestick institution of the Southern States, and the consequent direction, which that and her soil and climate have given to her industry, has placed them in regard to taxation and appropriations in opposite relation to the majority of the Union, against the danger of which, if there be no protective power in the reserved rights of the States, they must in the end be forced to rebel, or submit it to have their paramount interests sacraficed, their domestick institutions subordinated by Colonization and other schemes, and themselves & children reduced to wretchedness."

--The Papers of John C. Calhoun: Volume XI, 1829-1832.

British free trade fanaticism, and its involvement in the lie that the Rebellion was about tariffs: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/05/the-great-civil-war-lie/ With bonus prescience from John Stuart Mill.

"Numerous Democratic lawmakers in Tennessee and the state's Republican party chairman on Monday called for the state to remove the bust of a Confederate general from the Tennessee capitol following the debate over whether South Carolina should continue to fly the Confederate flag on its capitol grounds."

The general in question is Nathan Bedford Forrest, brutal slave trader, war criminal and founder of the KKK. http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2004/winter/a-different-kind-of-hero

Some Southern politicians, even Republican ones, are calling for retiring use of the Confederate battle flag, which became popular first with the KKK and then in opposition to the civil rights movement. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/23/mississippi-confederate-flag-consider-dropping-emblem

And Glenn Beck, of all people, is also calling for that. "Flying The Confederate Flag 'Makes No Sense' Whatsoever" http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/glenn-beck-flying-confederate-flag-makes-no-sense-whatsoever
'"It's a flag of another country," Beck said. "Why are you flying that? Are you proud that you were another country at some point?" '
'"It was not about state's rights because you didn't have a right as a state in the Confederacy to go against slavery," he said. "So there's no state's rights there. That's not about state's rights."'

Wow, Mitch McConnell has come out for removing Jefferson Davis. http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/mitch-mcconnell-jefferson-davis-statue

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/423081.html#comments

Coates on the Confederacy and their flag


'quotes' for Coates himself, "quotes" for the people he quotes in turn.


'Black slavery as the basis of white equality was a frequent theme for slaveholders.'

"I would spread the blessings of slavery, like the religion of our Divine Master, to the uttermost ends of the earth, and rebellious and wicked as the Yankees have been, I would even extend it to them."

'Fighting for slavery presented problems abroad, and so Confederate diplomats came up with the notion of emphasizing “states rights” over “slavery”—the first manifestation of what would later become a plank in the foundation of Lost Cause mythology.

The first people to question that mythology were themselves Confederates, distraught to find their motives downplayed or treated as embarassments.'

"Our doctrine is this: WE ARE FIGHTING FOR INDEPENDENCE THAT OUR GREAT AND NECESSARY DOMESTIC INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY SHALL BE PRESERVED, and for the preservation of other institutions of which slavery is the groundwork."

'Even after the war, as the Lost Cause rose, many veterans remained clear about why they had rallied to the Confederate flag. “I’ve never heard of any other cause than slavery,” wrote Confederate commander John S. Mosby. The progeny of the Confederacy repeatedly invoked slavery as the war’s cause.'

'Even after the war, as the Lost Cause rose, many veterans remained clear about why they had rallied to the Confederate flag. “I’ve never heard of any other cause than slavery,” wrote Confederate commander John S. Mosby.'

"The kindliest relation that ever existed between the two races in this country, or that ever will, was the ante-bellum relation of master and slave—a relation of confidence and responsibility on the part of the master and of dependence and fidelity on the part of the slave." -- _The Confederate Veteran_

'In praising the Klan’s terrorism, Confederate veterans and their descendants displayed a remarkable consistency. White domination was the point. Slavery failed. Domination prevailed nonetheless. This was the basic argument of Florida Democratic Senator Duncan Fletcher. “The Cause Was Not Entirely Lost,” he argued in a 1931 speech before the United Daughters of the Confederacy: "The South fought to preserve race integrity. Did we lose that? We fought to maintain free white dominion. Did we lose that?"'

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/422842.html#comments

movie: When Marnie Was There

I just saw my first movie since January, and my first movie of the year in a theater. Last year's non-Miyazaki Ghibli film, "When Marnie Was There". I'm glad I saw it. I think pretty much anything else I could say would be a spoiler.

Though I can say, Anna's village guardians were amazingly unconcerned with what Anna was up to or where she was going. And this seemed to be a positive thing. Anna's 12.
I also noticed her clothes changing every day, vs. cheating with the same outfit to animate.

Read more...Collapse )

See the comment count unavailable DW comments at http://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/422607.html#comments


Damien Sullivan

Latest Month

August 2015



RSS Atom
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Lilia Ahner