Archive for October, 2006

2006.10.31

Happy Halloween!

I know the day is almost over (and actually over for those of you in EST) but I had to say it.

It’s amazing to me how Halloween has become a holiday which it doesn’t matter how young or old you are to have a good time. Maybe it was always this way and I just never noticed. Kids put on costumes and “trick or treat” and many of the grown ups just put on costumes and party. Many cities have notable street parties and, at least in San Francisco, it seemed like there were more parties for people to goto than at any other year I’ve lived here.

One of the great things about Halloween for those of legal drinking age is that it’s not a holiday about family (as is Thanksgiving, Christmas, and many others) but about having a bit of fun and being with friends. Though many other holidays are used by friends as opportunities to get together Halloween is one that is easily used to actually go out, be a little crazy, and go back to work and have no one think anything the less of you.

We need more holidays that honor friends and friendship, and not in some serious manner, but as events that create bonding moments and memories for kids and adults, among and across age differences.

Hail the Great Pumpkin!

UPDATE 2006.11.01: Great. It seems like as I was writing this last night some idiots were shooting people in the Castro. Fortunately no one died, but now they are talking about closing down the famed street party. I used to enjoy that party, but then they started cracking down and limiting access, the costumes got fewer and worse, the crowds got larger and now they have a shooting. I’d hate to see the tradition end (because I know others will) because I like tradition. However, I think it’s a done deal (killing the event) because of the over-regulation and stigmatization of the event by the City “leadership”.

1 Comment | Catergorized: friends  life  san francisco  thoughts

2006.10.29

WordPress Updates

I almost never hit the admin dashboard to see if there are any new WordPress developments but on a whim I did tonight and lo! WordPress 2.0.5 was released. I’ll get that upgraded once I have some time and energy.

I noticed they also updated their multi-user version and have a bulletin board system called bbPress which I’ll have to look into since I want to set up forums for OOKEE.com.

Yay interweb! More updates for me to figure out!

1 Comment | Catergorized: geek  site

2006.10.29

Post Party Zombie

Last night we had our Bury These People in a Cemetery party. We spend most of Saturday cleaning up, buying supplies, and cleaning some more.

The party was great and late, and I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time since I’ll be putting a gallery up eventually where you can see for yourself how it went (if you have pictures get them to me!). I will say, though, that by 4AM I was dead tired and finally got to bed on my futon which was in couch form. I had a fitful sleep since my legs were dangling off the end all night and woke up at 9AM. !!!

I felt like a bloody zombie. I’d had much to drink and only a single slice of pizza all night. I didn’t have a hangover, but I felt like I did back in college during finals week when I’d live off Jolt and Oreo Cookies and sleep about five hours the whole week. I finally went to get some greasy food with Dave around noon and eventually forced myself to take a nap.

Now the house is almost back to normal. All I have to do now is set the alarm clocks back an hour for stupid daylight savings time and goto bed. See you on the morrow!

Comments Off on Post Party Zombie | Catergorized: food-drink  friends  life

2006.10.27

Change is Inevitable

It seems to me that how people deal with change is a key indicator in who they are in life. There are three primary ways of dealing with it that I can think of. Do not adapt to change (inert), adapt (reaction), or be the one causing the change (catalyst). These can be broken down and analyzed on many different levels, but for this thought experiment I’m only going to at positive and negative aspects to both.

             positive             negative
inert                      |
          --------------------------------
reaction                   |
          --------------------------------
catalyst                   |

Each of us uses all three at various points in our lives. Sometimes we react to a situation, sometimes we just don’t care (or don’t even notice), and sometimes we make things happen. However, most people have a prediliction for only one. These are the philosophies of our lives as we actually live them (not as we would wish to live them).

Change is a funny thing, and not always good. In those cases sometimes it’s positive to be inert to change, or to react in a way that alters the nature of the change. However, sometimes change might be good but some people are opposed to any sort of change. They might think that things are good enough now and are afraid of what is coming down the pike.

So there is something remarkable about the Bush administration’s insistence that we “hold the course” or “stay the course” in Iraq. Two years ago I would have agreed but times have changed and it’s time to adapt. They say they are adapting but if that were true we would have seen some positive change since the invasion. Bush was a catalyst for change in Iraq (whether positive or negative is open to debate) and has since been inert, opposing any change to the existing policy. The reaction will not be good for him or the Republican party.

Comments Off on Change is Inevitable | Catergorized: political  thoughts

2006.10.26

To Believe or Not to Believe

Richard Dawkins’ new book, The God Delusion, is coming out and to promote it he wrote an interesting essay on why we can’t afford to have mysticism contaminating science. For that matter why it’s contamination is turning into a disease for society at large. The essay is called Why There Almost Certainly Is No God. This is the opening salvo.

America, founded in secularism as a beacon of eighteenth century enlightenment, is becoming the victim of religious politics, a circumstance that would have horrified the Founding Fathers. The political ascendancy today values embryonic cells over adult people. It obsesses about gay marriage, ahead of genuinely important issues that actually make a difference to the world. It gains crucial electoral support from a religious constituency whose grip on reality is so tenuous that they expect to be ‘raptured’ up to heaven, leaving their clothes as empty as their minds. More extreme specimens actually long for a world war, which they identify as the ‘Armageddon’ that is to presage the Second Coming. … Does Bush check the Rapture Index daily, as Reagan did his stars? We don’t know, but would anyone be surprised?

I’ve never really like fanatic atheists, and Dawkins is definitely one of them, but he does make some brilliant points. Half of America believes the Bible is fact and seem willing to vote based on their belief. Well more than half of Americans believe the Bible is true. This if frightening and can only lead true, traditional American values to extinction.

Personally I believe. I believe that science is right and there is no God. That doesn’t mean that I don’t also believe there is value in blindly wondering at life, the universe and everything. I wish Dawkins were more able to convince some of the religious fanatics who believe in the Bible (and some Bible thumper’s interpretation of it). They are the ones who need to understand this stuff. Otherwise we just might evolve in unexpected ways. Then again that might not be so bad…

1 Comment | Catergorized: books  political  science

2006.10.26

Medieval Demographics

Quite a while ago I ran across S. John Ross’ Medieval Demographics Made Easy. It’s a brilliant demographics study of the medieval ages. If you were ever wondering how many taverns there would be in a town of 5,000 people this is the site for you. It’s got loads of interesting information, too, on how to figure the data out. Brandon Blackmoor even took the basic data from the site and turned it into an online calculator called The Domesday Book, which I’ve used a couple times.

Well, this whole concept was taken to another level with Populations for Low Fantasy. They’ve included all sorts of extra information into their calculator for city and town living. Best of all you can download it for offline use. Very handy!

If you’re into RPGs or writing fantasy or period novels this is a must have utility to use.

Comments Off on Medieval Demographics | Catergorized: worldbuilding  writing

2006.10.23

Cylon Raider as PsyOps Weapon

Battlestar Galactica Colonial Seal
Colonial Seal
Cylon Raider, Top View
Raider, Top View
Zionvlad pointed out to me today the remarkable similarity between the Colonial Seal and the Cylon Raider. In the Colonial Seal (the Galactica’s version is shown) has an element to it which looks like a bird (a Phoenix? I’ll assume so) with its wings spread out. There are twelve feathers for the wings, representing the twelve colonies.

We know that the Cylons are experts at confusing and manipulating people. In the episode Flesh and Bone, Adama warns Starbuck before going to interrogate a Cylon prisoner to be careful, that the Cylons are expert manipulators. They created a Cylon model so detailed that they have flesh, blood, nerves, psychological profiles… Extremely complicated tests must be carried out to differentiate them from real humans. It would come as no surprise that they have developed various tactics to further terrorize humanity.

One of these tactics might be the design of the Cylon Raiders. If you look at a top view of the Raider it looks suspiciously like the Phoenix in the Colonial Seal. I don’t think this has ever been explicitly mentioned on the show. It’s an interesting detail if it was deliberately done by the creators of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica. The impact on the Colonies, if only subconciously, would be high. Whenever a revered symbol is stolen and used against you, the enemy has succeeded. These new Raiders without pilots and looking like the legendary Phoenix would have quite an impact for any pilots encountering them for the first time.

Interesting.

(The Colonial Seal was taken from the official BSG site, and the Cyclon Raider from this Colonial Fleets gallery.)

Comments Off on Cylon Raider as PsyOps Weapon | Catergorized: thoughts  tv

2006.10.21

SS Jeremiah O’Brien

Diorama of the SS Jeremiah O'Brien
SS Jeremiah O’Brien
When my parents were out in August one of the few ships we hoped to visit but missed was the Liberty ship, SS Jeremiah O’Brien. During World War Two approximately 2,700 of these ships were built, some of them in less than two months. The record was 15.5 hours! When you’re on the ship and experience how big it is, that is an amazing and shocking speed.

The ship is now a functional museum. They will still fire up the engines and go on cruises which are, for a fee, open to the general public. When docked the ship is remarkably open to the public. Crew quarters, heads, gun emplacements, the engine room and cargo holds are all viewable. The engine room in particular is impressive, more so that it is still a functional engine. There are three flights of stairs to decend. Pistons covered in lubricant, the smell of oil, dials, registers, switches and other devices greet you. I wish I had a camera with a flash.

Instead I had my phone cam, with which I took the attached picture. It is from a diorama that was donated to the museum showing the SS Jeremiah at Normandy shortly after the Allies retook the beachs from the Germans. The diorama is pretty impressive, showing the Liberty ships being unloaded with supplies to be used in defeating the Nazis.

It’s definitely a ship I will be returning to in the future. Thanks to NHK for being interested in visiting!

3 Comments | Catergorized: life  san francisco

2006.10.20

Halloween Costume

Well, I’m a geek and there’s no hiding that fact. I work with computers, love scifi and fantasy (lit, tv, film), love anime and manga, and know lots of things about science, history and philosophy that most people forget about as soon as they heard it in class. I am not an über geek, but I can definitely hold my own.

I do like dressing up for Halloween, but I’m lazy about it. I’ve done the pirate thing, the amalgam military guy, and the original Sandman which, to date, only one person guessed correctly. Over the years I’ve collected bits and bobs for each of the outfits but I’ve never really dedicated large amounts of time to the endeavour.

Enter onto the scene the newly reimaged Battlestar Galactica (BSG). I am hooked. If you havent’ seen this show I can’t recommend it enough. Not because I’m some over enthusiastic dork who had too much caffeine and, with shaking hands and darting eyes, seems to be selling you his last rare Inuyasha trading card, Yura’s Flawless Snatch to get a few more cans of Jolt Cola.

No, BSG is good because it is smartly written with characters and stories that develop over time. The effects are well done, not over done. Everything has an internal consistency that isn’t often found in science fiction television shows (good job, Continuity Department!). The characters are interesting, they grow and change, and aren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Best of all, the show is relevant to our modern day. They take some of our modern themes like religion in government, the occupation in Iraq, average citizen’s relation to the military, and even specific topics like abortion, then turn them on their head in unexpected and eye opening ways.

Anyways, this whole endeavour has started me down internet avenues I’ve never bothered with before. I’ve bought stuff on eBay and joined online forums (mostly lurking), neither of which I’ve ever done before. So I’m putting together a preliminary BSG costume for Halloween. It should be fun. The best part will be hunting down cigars. That will happen next week…

2 Comments | Catergorized: fashion  geek

2006.10.17

Three Hundred Million

Recently America passed a milestone. We’ve passed the 300,000,000 population mark making us the third most populous nation on the planet. We’re trailing world leader China by only a billion people. C’mon, USA! I know we have it in us to take the gold medal! I figure is we all have at least four kids each then we can overtake China in at least a decade or less. Anyone up for it?

4 Comments | Catergorized: life  thoughts
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