Sunday, August 9, 2015

Bernie Sanders, #BlackLivesMatter and what happened in Seattle.

Dusting off this blog to address some stuff that happened yesterday in Seattle, because it's important that everyone understand the dynamics at play here.

First off, let's start with what actually happened. The Washington Post has a solid writeup:

Sanders was the final speaker on a long program held at a city park. Shortly after he took stage, a small group of protesters from a Seattle chapter of Black Lives Matter took the microphone and demanded that the crowd hold Sanders “accountable” for not doing enough, in their view, to address police brutality and other issues on the group’s agenda.

After sharing a few local grievances with the crowd, including school disparities and gentrification in Seattle, the protesters asked for a period of silence to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown being shot and killed during a confrontation with a police officer in Ferguson, Mo.

Event organizers allowed the period of silence, as some in the large crowd booed and shouted for the protesters to leave the stage. Afterward, Marissa Janae Johnson, who identified herself as a leader of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Seattle, asked the crowd to “join us now in holding Bernie Sanders accountable for his actions.” She motioned for Sanders to join her at the microphone.

After several minutes of frantic conversations, Sanders left the stage and greeted people in the large crowd who had turned out to see him. Many chanted his name.

In the hours that followed, several activists took to social media to question whether Johnson was speaking for the broader Black Lives Movement.

This isn't the first time this has happened, but we need to dig deeper to see what exactly is going on. Specifically, we need to see who the protesters in both cases were really speaking for, and we need to understand why they were called to do it, and Bernie supporters need to know what to do about it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

More random thoughts.

I only seem to use this thing when my computer isn't available and Facebook isn't working. I wish this was an effective FB replacement, but I haven't persuaded enough of my friends to blog. I got an Ello invite, so I'll see what's up with that here soon.

My laptop is doing some Windows updatey noise. It's been 15% complete since I started writing this. One of the things I hate about Windows is that it'll randomly interrupt you to restart and update. Just straight-up mess with your chi. Oh well.

I have a crapload of homework and real job-ish work. Still 15%. I don't go on your seedier goat porn websites, so I don't get computer HIV, but I'm sure you know best, Windows. Continues to be 15%.

Since this is probably a snapshot of my current life and I won't post for another month in all likelihood, I might as well tell you about my life these days. I'm teaching three classes in two days next week. We'll be learning about public opinion polling and primary documents. Not the first classes I've taught, let alone been responsible for. A lot of work all the same. And I have my own classwork to do.

17% now. Sweet Lordy hallelujah amen.

It's almost Halloween. I don't know what I'll wear, probably a couple things for different events, but I plan to be at the premiere of Poe Ballantine's new movie. Almost certainly the first and last time a movie of any note will premiere in Chadron.

Laptop's stopped doing Important Laptop Stuff and started rebooting normally. Gonna wrap this up and get back to work. Have a nice however long it's gonna be, folks.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

My Alma Mater Is A Banana Republic

This is a recent op-ed I wrote for the Eagle. They declined to publish it, because they're worried about more political interference from the Student Senate, but I figured I'd post it here because it's important to push back against the hypocritical fascist bastards trying to shut down free speech on campus.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, in part, that "the freedom of the press shall not be abridged." The unifying principle of patriotism in America is not race, nor allegiance to a monarch, but allegiance to the Constitution; this is judged so important to the body politic that the military (including ROTC officers) are made to swear to "uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States." Thomas Jefferson, who knew a thing or two about the Constitution, famously said "I would rather newspapers without government than a government without newspapers."

Chadron State College's experience with both has proven the sage of Monticello correct once again, as the People In Charge try anew to forget that the Constitution was forged to bind them.

There was a letter to the editor last week regarding the propriety of a comic that joked about using Eaglecards to take drugs. The people whose job it is to promote Chadron State to prospective students got upset at this article, because apparently a tongue-in-cheek joke that upsets the authorities is going to destroy our enrollment figures. As we all know, the students thinking about coming here are going to see a joke about drugs, clutch their pearls and drop into a fainting couch.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Google, get your shit together.

Just spent like ten minutes trying to make Google sign me in with the account I actually use instead of the random account Viaero gave me for my phone. Should not have been this hard.

I'm at a show at the Broker, it's all right but I'm rocking beyond nowhere near enough reality right now. I'm trying to think of some way to be productive since I'm far too sober ATM, but this was the closest thing that came to mind.

I've played a lot of chess tonight, trying out Hikaru Nakamura's hyperdefensive strategy as white and the Sicilian Defense as black. I'm getting good at the former, but I get the impression that the Sicilian is hard to play well. My ranking for live chess has improved though... I'm about 1000-1100, only about 100 points below my non-live ranking.

What else... I've been sick since Labor Day. Wouldn't be out tonight except that my friends and I made plans. This is also why I haven't done a comic in three weeks. Well, that and the thesis.

That's coming along swimmingly, though. I made my first map for the thesis this week; just a map of central Asia before Genghis Khan started breaking shit. My advisor says it's pretty good. I've seen the fairly simplistic maps that predominate the field of Mongol studies; putting out something that's got more information while being prettier and easier to read shouldn't be hard. The background in art and geography is helping me a lot. I'll try to provide a pic for the net here soon.

Speaking of random stuff helping out, it turns out Draya spent her childhood riding a Mongolian horse, which is important because they are different from other warhorses. Not as strong or fast, but they can endure twice as much. Mongol strategy often involved pretending to run away and tiring the enemy cavalry out, and then attacking. Mongol horses aren't very common on this continent, so knowing someone who grew up handling one (and dating her, no less) is incredibly lucky.

Apparently one of Draya's relatives is a translator over in Mongolia, to boot. Which gives me heart about this degree, especially if I go on for the Ph.D. Even if I don't teach, I can almost certainly travel abroad and earn a living translating stuff. My Russian skills will help with that too, as they're next door. If I can somehow learn Chinese, I'd be set.

Anyway, enough rambling for now. Now that I, well, have an app for this, I may post more often.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Scottish independence.

My ancestral homeland is debating independence. Here's a Scottish-American historian's take on the whole thing.

The eve of two great independence referendums are upon the British. There is the referendum of Scottish independence, set for September 2014; and there is the as-yet-undetermined referendum on European Union membership promised by Prime Minister David Cameron in the event of a Conservative majority after the 2015 elections. Both promise to dramatically remake the body politic of the United Kingdom.

For the layman, a couple basic premises need to be established. First off, the United Kingdom is scarcely older than the United States, having been born of a union of England and Scotland in 1707. Its chief purpose for England seems to have been the facilitation of the pre-existing worldwide English Empire, and for Scotland the creation by proxy of a Scottish Empire that failed to take hold in the jungles of Darien. It should be added that Scotland was bribed and cajoled into the Union; the English actively opposed the Darien scheme and stood by as Scots, fellow-subjects of their King, were harried and killed by the Spanish. In an era where overseas empire was the only guarantee of safety in Europe, England made Union the only way to empire for the Scottish.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Observations on the Nature of Awareness

Hi all. Long time no blog.

Anyway, I haven't fallen out of the habit of thinking and doing stuff, I just fell out of the habit of posting about it here. Over the summer I wrote a couple essays; what follows below is one such. I wrote it while non-sober, and the state I was in at the time led me to contemplate the nature of consciousness itself. It's rather stream-of-consciousness, but rereading it sober I concluded there was a germ of an idea in there. See for yourself:


In the field of music, pitch is inherently associated with emotion, and different pitches with different emotions. Composers and musicians are taught how to exploit these associations, and thereby to trigger given feelings in people.

Pitches are essentially mathematical. In the plainest physical terms, they are the average wavelength of a series of sonic vibrations, and they repeat themselves mathematically. (I say "average" because they can be composed of several different pitches; strumming a guitar to play up to six strings is an example of this, as is picking the strings of a chord shape. Progressions are pitches through time, and therefore represent an elaboration of the emotionality of a pitch.) Take the pitch we call "E." An open guitar string that sounds the pitch of E when played, if doubled in length yet with the same tautness and diameter, will sound an E in the next octave up. Similarly, were it to be cut in half, it would sound an E in the next octave down.

As for octaves: the phrase "octave" is a misnomer. If you have a guitar handy, notice that there are twelve frets to the octave, not eight. However, of those pitches within an octave our modern Western society has socially constructed to divide up into twelve, there are eight chords that seem comparable to our ears. On a guitar fretboard, this is rendered as follows: EF-G-A-BC-D-, with the dashes representing the four pitches that we did not deign to give letters.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Carl Sagan wrote something very unexpected once.

This is pretty impressive.

Apparently, when he wasn't doing Cosmos, he was writing under a pseudonym about the many intellectual uses of weed. Anyone who's remotely interested in either the subject or the man will probably find that article to be pretty cool.

Basically, weed seems like an analogue for dreaming. It combines random ideas in ways that wouldn't have been combined while sober, and therefore produces both incredibly stupid ideas, as well as insights.