Thursday, October 31, 2013

Income inequality in America.

CNN has a really good article about it.

Honestly, income inequality is probably the biggest single social issue facing America. Deal with this, and you deal with a lot of issues regarding race and poverty in one fell stroke. You deal with a lot of healthcare-related issues, you deal with a lot of crime-related issues. Basically, reducing income inequality is a silver bullet, and it's one we need to stop ignoring.

The biggest single reason I'm a Democrat is because they're the only major party taking this even remotely seriously. The Republicans need to as well, instead of just providing ideological cover for the rich to continue widening the gap. Because as it stands, we've got crazy Third World levels of inequality.

Homer Simpson is brilliant.

Or at least, his writers are.

I didn't understand half the shit they were talking about until they explained it, but it's an incredibly cool read. And to think that that donut-munching bozo that became the template for Peter Griffin and every other cartoon sitcom is secretly a math genius... is almost enough to make The Simpsons funny again.


Just got an article published in the Eagle.

Go check it out.

I complained about the "tuition fee" bullshit and explained, in great detail, just how much bullshit it was.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

As if you didn't need any other reason to get the hell off of Facebook...

Facebook's gonna start tracking your cursor movements.

I wanna reiterate what I've said plenty of times before: Facebook is a soul-sucking productivity killer that's making money off of you that you could be making for yourself. Stop checking Facebook and get a blog instead. All the shit you post on Facebook, post it on your blog. Get your friends to do this too, and follow their blogs if you like what they have to say.

After you make thirty posts, you can sign up with Project Wonderful. I mean, you can start with Google Adsense immediately, and if you're worried your blog's gonna have almost no traffic, that might be a better route... but it'll take forever for Adsense to pay out, because you have to make at least $100. With PW, you only have to make $10, and you get to keep a much bigger chunk of the revenue. Furthermore, you'll be helping fellow creative people promote their own projects, instead of whatever company that's probably not even terribly relevant to whatever you're doing. And if you're getting around 50-100 hits every day, you'll make something with it.

I swore I'd quit Facebook, and I've been trying to. It keeps sucking me back, mainly because it's an effective communication platform, and the easiest way to get ahold of a lot of people I know. But I also get sucked back because there's people on there that I miss and they need to make a blog already so I can swear off that haven of filth and status reposts forever.

Something to get you through the hump day.

I really wish there was an animated Calvin and Hobbes series.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Snow and cleaning.

We're preparing to move. The first step of that, though, is preparing the house to be shown off, which could happen any time after I give 30 days' notice to the landlady.

The house is not ready to be shown off anywhere, except maybe an episode of C.O.P.S., so Draya and I are cleaning hard. We cleaned our bedroom last night, and today's the kitchen and maybe bathroom. Tomorrow's the living room. Sometime this weekend, the downstairs needs cleaning badly, and our roomie will have to either do it or get us to.

It snowed yesterday and last night, so we played some Christmas music as we cleaned. Loreena McKennitt's "A Midwinter Night's Dream" is a pretty spectacular Christmas album, and everyone should own it.

And with the snow comes perpetually wet shoes, which annoy me like little else. So I'm currently airing out both socks and shoes under my desk; I've got my office fan blowing on full power with the socks draped across it. Laugh all you like, but my shit's gonna be dry.

A bunch of important shit is coming due this week. I need to pick spring classes, first and foremost. Then I've gotta come up with a draft for my personal educational philosophy, and I've got to write a book review for my history class. I already did an assignment on experimental research for my intro to grad study class. I've gotta finalize my loan shit this week. And I chose this, of all weeks, to prepare to move.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Penguins and dolphins are jerks, and other things from last night.


I was telling that to Vera last night, as we were drinking. Penguins and dolphins have created their very own "rape culture," as have all manner of other animals. They're also remarkably sentient; apparently scientists have discovered that they call each other by names.

I also talked about the unfilmed script of Firefly, and it was gonna be really cool. When I tried to track it down, I found the tenth anniversary special, which talked about a bunch of script ideas. Alan Tudyk came up with an idea about a planet where they train these vicious dogs, and then Jayne accidentally gets dog pheromone on the crew, so they have to run away until River pets them and they calm down. There were a bunch more... if anyone can find that video, they should post a link.

I dunno. Last night sucked and was pretty good all at once. We watched The Room, need I say more? And now my roomie gets why, every time we're listening to 93.7 and the Windfarmer Energy ad comes on, I say "Oh hi Mahk!"

Saturday, October 26, 2013

QOTD, and an interesting discovery regarding Native Americans.

"Everytime I see someone on 23andme list off their mito group and then start spouting off a list of surnames as a defense of why their results are wrong, I understand why teenagers started cutting." -Jon Arsenault

Native Americans might be one-third "European."

I put "European" in quotes because I'm not sure if the descriptor really applies. Tying genetic sequences to continents ignores a lot. I mean, when we say "Africans" to get at people with black skin and features like those common to sub-Saharan Africa, we ignore their Dravidian relatives that settled the Indian subcontinent, and their other relatives that settled east Asia, Papua New Guinea and Australia before any other humans. When we say "European," we ignore the Tocharians that became one of the many founding populations of the Han Chinese, the proto-Indo-Iranians who conquered the Dravidians and blended with them to form modern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Iran, and now apparently Native Americans too. And even when we say "Asians," we ignore their Polynesian descendants that settled a great geographic area stretching from Madagascar to Easter Island.

The best and worst of humanity all at once.

The New York Times has a good article about the American chaplains to the Nazi war criminals being tried at Nuremberg.

It reminds me of the discussion I was having with a friend recently. She's in the process of reading my book, and wondering if fallen angels really would have the ability to repent. She asked me if it said it anywhere in the Bible. As a matter of fact, the Bible is silent on the issue, and the semicanonical-in-Orthodoxy book of 1 Enoch debatably says no. But I can't imagine that a loving God would deny honest repentance to any sentient creature, no matter how evil it became.

That's not to say that such repentance would be a license to act like nobody should find fault with you, or ignore the grief of your victims, the way that a lot of people I know have acted. "Well yeah I cheated on you, but God forgave me, so why can't you?" is never an acceptable line of argument. But the strongest love should always find a way to forgive even the worst evils. We humans are probably not capable of such perfect love, but it's inspiring when we try, like the chaplains in the article I linked.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

This is some scary shit.

A professor in Wisconsin just got in trouble for telling the truth.

She required some US Census data for a class, and of course it wasn't available during the recent government shutdown. When a student asked why over email, she told the truth - that the Republican/Tea Party led House shut down the government.

And that little Tea Partying shitbag of a student took a picture of the email, sent it to Fox News, and it became the latest non-controversy controversy on their contrived news network. The professor was reprimanded.

But the fact remains the truth - the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party did shut down the government. That is so established that centrist news organizations like Time Magazine have reported it as true. Some of the classes I'm helping with are also teaching it as true, because it fucking is.

Turning academia into the latest front for partisan warfare - or more specifically, Republican partisan warfare (Democrats aren't doing anything, and generally the liberal-leaning academics go out of their way to embrace Republicans there) - risks damaging the institution further. We need colleges and universities to teach our kids the truth, and when professors risk professional danger to do that, in many cases they won't.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Vera showed me this.

We were getting drunk... Monday? Yes, Monday. It was midterm break and we were rocking beyond reality. After several drinks, we decided music was a great idea and after the obligatory guitar playing on both our parts, I showed her Terra's Theme from FFVI (I posted it a while back) and she showed me this, because the piano part of Terra's Theme reminded her of this.

I've never played any of the Deus Ex games, but this is great music. It's now the soundtrack to my workday.

Today's 503.

I actually got one out on time, try not to look so shocked.

In the Facebook post I made to the comic's group about it, I linked the TVTropes article for "Put On A Bus." That's kinda what I'm doing with Shellie now. I feel like the character has a lot of potential, but I haven't been able to realize most of it.

Part of it's because other characters are just bursting with potential. Saffron's going to play a key role in the next chapter, being the center of the characters' resistance to a Very Bad Thing in "The 503rd Oregon (The Left Must Hold)." Tina's going to be one of the key players in the chapter after that, "Five-Oh Fantasy Three." Seymour is going to take center stage when the group eventually starts a clan in Online Moon Game. The Aussies are going to go on vacation here soon, and that's going to be a big plot.

Midterm grades.

So I re-figured out the MyCSC thingiething just to look at my midterm grades, and I discovered that only one of my professors bothered to put in a grade, and that grade was wrong.

I'm officially pulling a B in my Intro to Graduate Studies class, but this is only because I hadn't done any quizzes yet (the quizzes can be taken and retaken anytime before the end of the semester, so everyone's slacking off on them). I did a bunch of them last night, and got perfect marks for all but one of them after a couple of retakes. Ignoring the quizzes, my own calculation of my grades suggests an A. So I'm not too worried about that class.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Maple Street Petting Zoo.

There are four animals in this house now. All rodents. Nate's been keeping his rat Yggie (short for Yggdrasil, the World-Rat) here. My roomie just bought a rat and a hamster. The rat is named Ziggy Marley, because rock beyond reality four twenty-four seven, maaaan. The hamster is named Nug, which is short for 3-And-A-Half-Ounce Nug, because see above.

And my girlfriend Draya now has a guinea pig named Sandie, which is in the pic to the left.

Draya's left for Wyoming for the weekend so I'm left to take care of Sandie. She's a really nervous guinea pig, but she'll let me feed her. Last night, I got tired of her skittishness and pulled her out of her cage to sit on my lap and eat some lettuce. I think she's becoming more cool with me as time goes on. I can't be sure.

Anyway, time for another fuck-huge Civ post. brb

Took an online IQ test.

I remember being IQ tested at Minot State University when I was a little kid, and being told that I had an IQ of 144. I saw an IQ test online, and it didn't look like the typical spammy bullshit, so I gave it a whirl. Ten minutes later, I found out I have an IQ of approximately 162 on the European/Cattel scale, or 141 on the Stanford-Binet/USA scale.

The standard caveats apply: intelligence quotient tests are designed for a Euronormative notion of "intelligence," online tests should be taken with a grain of salt, etc. But it bears out what I remember being told as a kid. I'm glad my years of rocking beyond reality haven't really done much to hurt it.

Also, the test itself says it's pretty useless beyond scores of 160 on the Cattel scale, so I might be smarter than that. Couldn't say.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


You'd think that a party that's all about personal responsibility and hard work would take more responsibility for the now-concluded shutdown and work harder at their jobs.

Anyway, shutdown's over. The Senate stepped in and made it all better, and Boehner passed the Senate bill with Democratic votes. Nebraskans, you can be pleasantly surprised that our normally brainless, spineless Congressional delegation voted to a man to reopen the government. Across the border in South Dakota, Senator Kristi Noem didn't.

Obama's taking this unmitigated victory and trying to build on the momentum by passing a regular annual budget. This used to be the done thing until the Tea Party got angry at the scary black man in the White House, but since the Republicans were just pretending to give a shit about compromise, they'll be hard-pressed to refuse this offer.

I don't know if the Tea Party fever's broken, but it seems that way. I'm seeing even Republicans griping about those fucks now. There may yet be hope.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


Hopefully this'll be the last installment of this series. As the Democratic Senate has taken over negotiations and Boehner's admitting defeat, it probably will be.

To wit, this is what happened: with the debt default happening sometime tomorrowish, Boehner attempted to pass a bill in the House reopening the government and raising the debt ceiling, but couldn't find enough votes in the Republican caucus to do so. Not a huge surprise: he's leading a caucus of spoiled children that would destroy the world economy rather than get their way, after all. But given that he couldn't do it, the Senate stepped in to craft a bill.

Democrat Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, met with Republican Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader. They hammered out a compromise, and this is all the Republicans got regarding Obamacare:

An anti-fraud measure will be added to Obamacare, requiring income verification for those receiving subsidies to purchase insurance under the law.

That's it. That's fucking nothing, and it probably should've been added to the law in the first place. It's a very slight tinker to make Obamacare better, not to gut the system wholesale. The Republicans shut down the government for 17 days, and all they got was a lousy income verification no-prize.

Stu Plays Civ: Britain, 2 AD - 700 AD

(This is a continuation of the game I started in this thread. Also, holy traffic stats, Batman! I posted a link to that post on Reddit and my blog's blown up ever since. Like, my traffic has grown tenfold. So hi, new readers! If you like the stuff I write, you might be interested in my webcomic or my book. Anyway, let's get on with the Civvy business.)

The Chronicles of the Kings of Britain, Volume II

From the reign of Boudicca II, Queen of the United Kingdom of Britain, Ireland and Iceland (27 AD - 58 AD)

Our Jewish inhabitants of Abona have been noting with interest the latest of the would-be messiahs in their homeland, the Eastern Roman province of Judaea. This Jesus of Nazareth has split from the earlier messiahs, in that he appears uninterested in revolt against the Roman or Hasmonean rulers in Jerusalem. At the behest of interested Jews in my court, I dispatched an envoy from the Second Fleet out of Tingis. The envoy, a Briticized Greek called Andrew of Syracuse, arrived in Jerusalem only in time to witness an unprecedented inhumanity - the crucifixion of this peaceful man. He was in the city during the death and purported resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, and his purported ascension to Heaven.

Monday, October 14, 2013


More on the impending Republican civil war.

First off, the shutdown is causing the all-white Republican coalition to go to war: the richer Tea Party ideologues are not just up against the businessmen, but also against the parts of the coalition that depend on government subsidies or government jobs. Basically, the entire rest of the Republican Party is going to war against the Tea Party. The question then becomes how much of a Republican Party there is left that isn't Tea.

Stu Plays Civ: Britain, 4000 BC-1 AD

One of my favorite vidyagaems is the Civ series. As a historian, it's enthralling to look at history and wonder if I could've done a better job. Alternative histories are one of the big preoccupations of the field (just look at the "What If?" series) and so yeah. I've tried to play Civ games and show them to the public, but it always got bogged down before. But now, with my very own blog, this is going to be a thing. I'm playing on a Civ IV Earth map with the holy cities established in the right places, because otherwise you just end up with worldwide holy wars between Hindus, Buddhists and Jews because they got there first.

Anyway, enough of that. It's time for the Chronicles of the Kings of Britain.

Happy Bartolome Day!

The Oatmeal has a really good comic today, and speaking as a historian I can verify all of its claims.

Columbus was a genocidal monster, and celebrating a Columbus Day is similar in spirit to having a Hitler Day. I think de las Casas would be a far more exemplary person to celebrate, although my only criticism is that we should probably celebrate a Native American at some point too. Perhaps [url=]Hiawatha[/url], a Native who lived and died before European colonization, and who created a union of different polities on American soil recognized by our Congress as a precedent for the eventual United States federal government. A Hiawatha Day would be incredibly appropriate, I think, so that we're celebrating an American history that didn't begin in 1492.

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Amidst reports that the GOP have reacted to this shutdown by getting pants-shittingly, have-sex-with-a-muffler-and-call-it-Susan drunk on the job, someone came up with a brilliant idea.

Drunk-dial Congress.

This is perfect. I kinda want to get in on this, although if I get a Democrat I'd feel bad because it's not their fault. But I've got enough rum left to take a stab at this.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Switzerland might get a basic minimum income.

Check it.

Paul Krugman wrote an article about this at one point, too. And this is a subject I've been thinking about for years: how do you make society function when technology has advanced to the point where making the bulk of things necessary for middle-class existence doesn't employ the bulk of the population?

Education is only the answer to a point, but really, how many iPod designers does the world really need? Even knowledge-industry jobs are being destroyed by technology.

There are really only two answers to this: one involves the active rejection of technology in order to maintain our current existence. The other involves the establishment of a basic minimum income for all citizens, paid for by a tax on profits or investment income or some other such thing targeted at the corporations and the 1%.

Foo Fighters' "Everlong"

I never saw the music video to this song before. I think Draya might get a kick out of it if she sees it. Maybe it's because I'm rocking beyond reality at the moment, but I think it fucking rocks. And I KNEW that "chick" looked like a dude.

Also, you'll notice there's ads now. It took me all day to set them up, but they're here and soon to have me rolling in the pennies. The worst one to set up was the one below the comments... I had to go into Blogger and take its sass, tellin' me "You can't be PUTTIN' that ad code here! This is MY house!" So I had to let Blogger know what was up.

Anyway, pumpkin pie's about to be all up in this bidness. I gots to run to the store, peeps.


The effects of the government shutdown are starting to pinch. The courts are running out of money to pay their judges, and this means that civil lawsuits are going to start not being a thing. "Right to a speedy trial" is about to become "right to a speedy trial so long as one part of one party isn't engaged in their anal spelunking hobby at the moment."

And the national parks shutdown is starting to hurt. This may not be obvious to non-Westerners, but tourism is a big chunk of the economy out here. As much as we crack jokes about Easterners coming out here and playing tourist, it's kinda necessary to prop up the local economy. And the biggest thing they come see? National parks. As a result, some states (Utah, South Dakota) have begun funding the operations of national parks within their borders out of their own budgets. This is only a stopgap fix at best, though - the states simply don't have the money to do this in the long term if they can't collect revenues for it on their own. But it has helped restore the otherwise flatlining economies of southern Utah and the Black Hills.

As far as the politics of it all... the shutdown is really starting to hurt the GOP. The party has turned its back on Ted Cruz and is rallying behind Paul Ryan, their Vice Presidential nominee in 2012, to save them from their own miscalculation. Ryan's trying to turn the conversation away from Obamacare, where they're soundly losing, to spending and taxes, where they have a mild advantage in the polls against the Democrats (even though their ideas regarding that are pretty dumb, just look at the sequester they dreamed up and then disavowed when it sucked). But, all the same, he's hoping the bait-and-switch might just let them get out of this.

I like what the unnamed aide said at the end. The best way this ends for them is surrender. And if they're very lucky, it'll be a conditional surrender.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Record Breaker Day.

Aww yeah. Traffic's picked up a lot on The 503 lately, and this is the day when it broke the previous record for yearly hits.

The 503 is a pretty unique comic, traffic-wise. It's not a gag-a-day comic, and even compared to something like Questionable Content or Something*Positive, it's very story-driven. As a result, you can't really read just one, so a lot of my readers wait for a while and then read a bunch all at once. I see this when an unreasonably large amount of my traffic comes from people Googling the comic to find it again, because they didn't bookmark it the first time.

The comic had a really strong summer, and although traffic's slowed a bit since then, it hasn't slowed much. September was one of the strongest months on record, and October's lining up to be the same, even though typically these are the weakest months.

It may be the case that the comic is finally - finally - starting to break through. I certainly hope so. I'm not doing it for fame or anything, but I certainly wouldn't turn it down.


More on the impending Republican crackup:

-Big Business is going to declare war on the Tea Party. This makes a whole bunch of sense, from a perspective of rational self-interest. A government shutdown, and certainly a debt default, does not suit their interests. Besides throwing a shitload of people out of work, it would also lose business a lot of money.

-John McCain is fretting about the coming civil war. He'll be one of the vanguards against the Tea Party, though. His primary interest is the military, and you can't give it insanely huge budgets if you want to eliminate all taxes ever. He's Republican establishment, and he'll be happy to join with Big Business to squelch the Tea Party... if he has to.

We should remember that this mess is at least partly his fault, though. He's the one that introduced Sarah Palin to a national stage, and the tea parties adopted her as their patron saint in the beginning.

The fever's gonna break. Keep the pressure on, Obama. The longer you let them stew in their own mess, the bloodier their civil war will be, and the more the Democratic Party will be able to shape the future to become a progressive one.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I don't really buy Android apps...

...but I will definitely rethink that policy if this happens.


Nothing much new to report.

Heritage Action, who back Ted Cruz' crazy-go-nuts efforts on repealing Obamacare at the expense of sensible tactics from a Republican POV, have come out swinging for passing a debt limit increase, in order to "keep attention on Obamacare." This is the first gasp of sanity I've heard from these guys, although it comes in the context of an intra-GOP war over linking or not linking the shutdown and debt ceiling. They're advocating a debt limit hike in order to throw sand in the face of the moderates, who've adopted that position to increase their bargaining power.

I don't care what crazyman reasons they come up with to justify it, so long as a debt limit hike happens. The shutdown is a nuisance, but a debt default would be a new Great Depression.

Also, the Republican Party's popularity has reached a historical low because of the shutdown. The Dems are already salivating about a House takeover in 2014 on Facebook, so it shouldn't be long now. The Republican factions are already negotiating separately with the administration, and both Democratic goals (avoid a debt default, reopen government) can probably be realized without conceding anything substantial to either of them.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What I'm listening to today.

My friend Ali has been hyping this band called Gungor for a longass time. I regularly use Noisetrade to discover new music, and I saw Gungor offering a sampler on there, so I downloaded it.

Worth it. They're pretty decent. Check it out for yourself:

Sometimes the religious extremists in the Middle East are our allies.

And sometimes the victims are Christians.

Really, Israel? We give you the best military equipment in the world, so you can prevail against an entire region that hates you, and you repay us by attacking Christian dead? Not to sound like a fundie here, but you do realize that the bulk of the tax dollars being handed to you came from Christians, right? And you do realize that the Arab Christians are not the ones attacking you, yes?

If this isn't an isolated incident that's dealt with quickly and convincingly, one day the fundie idiots in our country that make sure that nobody can publically support Palestinian human rights here and get elected will give up their delusional fantasies about the Rapture, wake up to their demographics' true interests in the Middle East, and yank your aid over your toleration of anti-Christian bigotry.

My Roomie Showed Me This Video, Part I.

This is going to be a recurring series, hence the Part I.

My roomie is a cool dude, and one of the DJs on the Alleycat. He's wholeheartedly embraced the station's motto, and somedays when he embraces the motto he blasts music he finds on Youtube, which is almost always a great idea for everyone involved. This is one of those gems:


A new study is predicting a 30-50 seat loss for House Republicans in 2014. That's wave election territory. Not even the Republicans' gerrymandered safe seats will save their asses now. I hope this stands as a lesson to them for many years to come.

Pressure is coming from other quarters, financial quarters, to end this shutdown ASAP. That's quite ironic; finance is one of the sectors that have traditionally backed the Republicans. They bankrolled this Tea Party monster, and now it's escaped their clutches. Also much less of a Republican constituency, but important all the same, is China stressing about getting their money back.

Also, this was funny. Gotta love the Onion.

"Deconstructing" posturing nonsense.

So some chick on Feministing got a bug up her ass about one of the few non-shitty pop songs on the radio. Why? Because it's criticizing the conspicuous wealth in garbage music videos that the singer grew up watching... in New Zealand. Which means she's dreadfully racist against African-Americans, a people she's never really met or interacted with outside of seeing the detritus of American cultural imperialism. (She did write the song herself, which for pop music is goddamn impressive... especially since she's 16).

God damn, this whole "deconstructing" garbage has gone far enough. Feminists are now officially useless. I don't mean "women's rights activists," who work hard at getting basic rights for women, people like Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I mean the whiny, bitchy people that think that this shit is important and stopping it is equivalent to passing the 13th and 19th Amendments all over again, because the gender studies degrees they got with Daddy's money tell them so.

Deconstruction is one of the most pointless academic exercises ever invented. It took one of the great liberating forces in world history and turned it into a pack of navel-gazing hipsters. Instead of figuring out how to extend voting rights to women in Muslim countries, or stopping actual rapes here at home by making rapists more accountable, they spend their time trying to figure out how something is a penis and therefore a symbol of the "patriarchy," or scanning pop music for veiled imaginary racism.

For the record, this is the song in question:

Quote Of The Day, 10/9/2013:

"I'm pretty sure my imaginary girlfriend is friendzoning me." -Jon Decker

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What I'm listening to today.

The album came out last year, but it's fast become one of my favorite songs of all time. The Birthday Massacre is one of the few newer gothic bands to come out that's actually been pretty good. They've kept alive the spirit of the old school while keeping it relevant to the times.

Also, this song reminds me of my girlfriend. The why of it is a story I can't really tell, at least not yet and not directly. (Expect an arc in The 503 in the years to come.) But suffice it to say that I'm a really lucky dude.

A new front against climate change.

They've figured out a way to turn carbon dioxide emissions into baking soda. (The only other ingredients required are salt and water.) And apparently, they can do it for about $20 per ton.

This is great news. The baking soda industry, if it completely was sourced by this stuff, could only absorb the output of about 200-250 power plants, but there's other things they're working on turning the carbon dioxide emissions into. Limestone, in particular, is promising. It can be used as fertilizer, for construction, or even just dumped in a pile for all it matters.


There are signs that the Republicans are beginning to fold. Not yet, but soon.

Obama and Boehner had a phonecall. They didn't come to any agreement, but Boehner's stepped back from his "you must negotiate, and then once you negotiate, we won't give an inch" to "hey man, everything's on the table, just please come to it."

For once, Obama isn't, and he's right to not. He's got all the cards. America will (rightly) blame the Republicans for the shutdown and a debt default, if that happens too. The public already blames them for the shutdown and by all accounts this stunt is already going to cost the Republicans the House. The Obama has the Democrats united behind him, and even red-state squishes are laughing at the GOP. Boehner is regularly upstaged by the loudest Tea Party hack of the moment, has a pile of moderate Republicans undercutting his arguments, and has his own confidantes saying he's bluffing in national media.

Grad Council.

Not, apparently, an adjunct of Student Council.

Far more important, in fact.

Grad Council determines the course offerings for graduate level, the prerequisite courses necessary, it approves waivers for transfer credits, and takes care of graduate commencement. I'm one of two students on a 14-member body that's mostly professors and then the dean.

All of this is to say that I'm actually very happy to be a part of it. I was worried it'd be some kind of Prestwich-run rubber stamp committee, but it's nothing of the sort. I mean, a lot of it is pro forma, but that's an outgrowth of most professors understanding their own department and not really anyone else's, so when they bring proposals and explain them, nobody really knows enough to argue with it, and generally if they do know enough they agree anyway because most of the proposals make sense.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Some background to the Syrian crisis, and what I would do about it.

I once posted all this in a thread on a forum somewhere, and the people in that thread said I should submit it to a serious news source, or even Fox News. Draya asked me about a month ago to explain the Syria crisis to her, and so I showed her this. I have no idea if it helped, but reading back a year or so later, it's still a pretty simple primer to the players on the ground in Syria.

First post:

A fairly-extensive rundown for someone that knows absolutely nothing about any of this:

Most of the Arabic-speaking Middle East used to be ruled by the Ottoman Empire, which was based out of Turkey. After the fall of the Ottoman Empire at the end of World War I and a successful Arab revolution guided by T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia, if that rings a bell), the old Ottoman possessions were divided among the various Western powers. Britain got what's now Israel, Palestine, Jordan and Iraq, and France got what's now Lebanon and Syria.

How my days go, Part 2.

I've been waiting all. Fucking. Day. for this professor to get out of class and get back from lunch so I can ask him the one question that I need to ask. And of course, a student shows up the very fucking moment he's available. And of course, that student gabs on and on and on, about stuff completely unrelated to his course.

So I spent half an hour pacing outside his office, waiting for Chatty Cathy to fuck in an offward direction. Finally I decide "fuck it, this'll be the day I stop giving a damn and start playing Civ at work" and then, naturally, ten seconds later, Chatty Cathy hoofs it down the hall, turns into my office, and is like "I'm done, if you needed to talk to him," acting like his bullshit wasn't even a thing. Son of a bitch.

I might as well not have even come in today! Most of my time here has been a complete and utter waste, or at least nothing I couldn't have done at home.

How my days go.

Most of it is spent waiting for someone else to do something.

Right now, I'm waiting for a professor to get back from lunch so I can get certain files necessary to compile a list of grades for a given assignment.

Oh well. I suppose this is God's way of telling me to sort out the tunes on the music player Caveman gave me.


It's been a week now. A week. If this plays out like it did in '96, then we've got two weeks to go.

Of course, unlike 1996, we don't have two weeks. The debt limit runs out in ten days and after that, we'll be entering some dicey territory. As I've mentioned before, Obama will either have to cave (terrible idea), use his executive authority to mint a $1 trillion commemorative coin (good idea, if a bit Bond villainish and liable to lawsuits), simply declare the debt limit unconstitutional (okay idea, liable to lawsuits), play accounting tricks with Treasury bills (not a bad idea, invulnerable to lawsuits and probably the simplest to execute), or default on the debt (worst of all possible ideas, hello new Great Depression).

In that link above, John Boehner, Speaker of the House, is refusing to pass a funding bill unless the Democrats negotiate, and if the Democrats negotiate he's refusing to compromise. Man, if the parties were reversed the Republicans would be crying treason right now... and they'd be right.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

What I'm listening to tonight.

Arcade Fire's album "The Suburbs," especially this track:

The beginning lyrics are in my bio to the right, and the song regularly gets stuck in my head these days. The whole album is fantastic though.

And what am I doing as I listen? Making food. Chicken breasts purchased on sale are roasting in the oven so I can rip them off the bones and turn them into fajita stock. I've made some leftover mayo into quesadilla dressing (just add lemon juice, black pepper, oregano, chili powder, chipotle Tabasco, garlic powder, and cumin's optional) and I've got meals made for work tomorrow and Tuesday.

And once that's done, I'm gonna do an assignment due tonight at 11:00 PM.


Lee Terry, Nebraska's less-crazy Republican Senator, refuses to give up his paycheck during the shutdown.

Ah yeah. Banana republic indeed. I'm just waiting for some beret-wearing colonel to declare a military junta over Huskerstan already.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

My whole fucking STATE is a banana republic.

So apparently Nebraskan judges don't have to recuse themselves from an abortion case if they're heavily invested in the issue politically, and they get to impose their biases on the case before them.

And the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld this bullshit.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country proceeds with Obamacare. But not Nebraska, where our governor is more interested in fighting Obama than letting a fully-funded Medicaid extension reach our state's poor. I and most of my friends will go without healthcare because of him and his recalcitrance. May future generations remember him as a spiteful waste of votes.

This state used to be pretty awesome, but now it's going to the dogs in a hurry. The Republicans are ruining one of the greatest places in America. Everything I've bitched about lately - the money hunger of Chadron State, the shutdown, and now this - is directly related to their inordinate power to ruin the government on all levels, impose their bigotry on the populace because "small government" only applies to the rich, and defund any and every worthy public endeavor.

Winter is coming.

A snowstorm beat Chadron senseless like Elvis at a hempfest last night.

I'm currently at the Bean Broker, and on my way here I took some pictures of the damage. Trees have collapsed under the weight of snow all over; construction equipment was clearing felled trees on my street when I woke up this morning. Impromptu urban streams revealed their pathways for the day or two that they'll exist. And I'm currently negotiating with my dumbphone to transfer these pics to my computer so I can show you guys.

A bit about this dumbphone. It's actually quite smart for a dumbphone. It can play music, take pictures, and if it has a plan connected to it, it can text and make calls and browse the internet and all that. It's probably the smartest dumbphone you can buy, and it served me well until the company it works with decided to screw me. So now I use it as a music player and a camera. With a bigger SD card it could be as good as an iPod, and as for its camera abilities... they're not great, but I've been able to take pictures high-quality enough to use them on the comic. I actually quite like it, and I'll probably keep it around for many years to come. When I do finally part with it one day, it'll only be because it broke or I got a "real" camera, and if it still works I'll give it to someone who'll treasure it as much as I have.


I've kept up on the shutdown. My standard news source is Time, but the two best sites I've been reading lately for coverage are Slate and Mother Jones.

So here's a recap of what I've been reading. First off, the Democratic Party has become a lot more ideologically liberal. Republican redistricting has eliminated a lot of swing seats, and the Blue Dogs that used to give Dubya whatever he wanted just don't exist anymore. That's one of the reasons the Democrats are standing up to a man against the Republicans.

Secondly, if you still don't understand the whole government shutdown thing, this is everything you need to know in ten sentences.

Finally, we don't just have the shutdown to worry about. Sometime around the middle of this month, we'll hit the debt ceiling. If the government is still shut down by then, Obama's going to have some tough choices to make. Time explains them pretty well. I still say he should mint the fuckin' coin.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Golden Dawn finally getting theirs.

Things are bad in Europe. Like, really really bad. The richer nations of northern Europe are doing all right, but the poorer ones of southern Europe are facing Great Depression-like economic indicators. Half of the youth are unemployed, GDP constantly falls, etc. And, like what happened in a different European country during the actual Great Depression, a far-right fringe party is starting to grow in power in one of the worst-hit countries, Greece.

Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) is not just another rightist anti-immigrant European party. They deny the Holocaust, blame the crash on "Jewish bankers," terrorize and murder foreigners in Greece, and maintain their social standing by organizing food giveaways to "ethnic Greeks only" and by keeping close ties to the cops. The Greek cops are so hand-in-hand with these bastards that in many cases, they refer people with criminal complaints to Golden Dawn, who then end up having to pay donations to the party for their continued protection.


That image to your left is the latest in government employee snark.

In other weather-related news, it snowed here. A bunch. I'm feeling kinda ill so I didn't go take pictures as promised. I had to beg off on my radio show with Tom, even. And going out in that, at least any more than I already did today, would have been begging for more.

And speaking of bureaucratic double-talk, I found out that "tuition waiver" doesn't actually mean "tuition waiver." You see, the college does this diabolical thing where they promise to pay for all of your tuition if you're a GA, and then sneak a bunch of it in under the name "tuition fees" and then you get a $700 bill out of nowhere because the Board of Trustees is a bunch of sociopaths.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


I've heard we're getting one to four inches. (Insert crude joke about sex here. Huh huh, I said "insert.")

Anyway, I'm ready for it. We've got plenty of apple cider, sufficient food, and I've got my old phone charged to take pictures tomorrow. So tomorrow I'll probably post up a bunch of those. Pictures right after snowfall look so great, before the snow's been disturbed. I've taken several sets, both here and in Portland.

In other news, Richard flew out for Colorado yesterday. With him out, and Nate fucked off to Oregon, I believe that makes me the guy running the station for the time being. Weird.

More Minecraft tonight. I'm told there's no way to show off my creations directly; I'll have to take pictures or somehow upload video. I'll figure out how to do that. I've got this underground Babylon thing that's kinda awesome.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


The Republican establishment is scrambling to figure out a way to both placate their right-wing base and to re-fund the government. Their latest idea is to cancel the healthcare coverage they and their staffers get and put them on Obamacare as well. This would be fairly pointless - their healthcare coverage is relatively equal to that under Obamacare as it is, and their overworked, underpaid staffers (seriously, it's true - staffing levels have precipitously declined over the decades, leading to shittier legislation) get really good healthcare in lieu of better pay. And whatever pay they do make, remember they have to spend it in the DC-Maryland-Northern Virginia megasuburb. Having lived there for three years, I can tell you it's incredicostly and they're already suffering enough.

But the point is that the GOP needs something to save face, and if they have to throw their own staffers under the bus to do so, they don't care. Let me reiterate that: they give so little damn about people that they made their own underlings, people they see and work with every day, people that probably get their Christmas cards, research the best and most efficient way to take away one of their few worthwhile benefits. And this is the establishment, that part of the GOP that's supposed to be moderate and responsible. If that's the loving, caring, RINO face of the party, then that makes the Tea Party Norman Bates.

Thunderstorms on the horizon. Also Minecraft.

I'll have a picture for you all once I get to work. (EDIT: And now I do.)

It's a fitting metaphor. I was up until 5:00 AM playing Minecraft for the very first time. The game's addictiveness was not why. It was a decent way to pass the time while my lungs threw a hissyfit, saying "IF WE CAN'T SLEEP THEN NOBODY SLEEPS." So that's fun. Asthma is one of the few things about myself that I genuinely hate.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Note to myself.

Go to Burkheiser 210 at 11:00 AM next Tuesday. You're on Grad Council now.

Just got a call from Dr. Hyer about it. And I've had Dr. Knight talk to me about it as well. I was on the fence for a while - I didn't want to make a commitment and then walk it back, but with the easing up of my schedule lately I think I'll be able to do this.

So I'm now a part of student government. I have no idea what this means. I know Aaron Prestwich (the guy who had a Vewy Sewious Talk with Nate when he wrote about how bad the campus wifi was) went all banana republic and dissolved the Student Finance Committee last year, which was unfortunate, undemocratic, and possibly even unconstitutional in a literal sense, under state law.

The most bitchy possible way to fulfill a legal obligation ever.

Samsung just paid Apple their $1 billion settlement in nickels.

They rented 30 trucks for the purpose, loading them down with 20 billion nickels.

The trucks probably cost tens of thousands of dollars to rent, the drivers probably weren't cheap either. But flipping a massive bird to a company that's somehow managed to trademark round edges? Priceless.

What I'm listening to this afternoon.

BT's album "These Hopeful Machines." The playlist above has a lot of the songs, but not most of them, off of the 2-CD album. It's techno in its very best iteration - it's not the trite loops and incongruous sayings that litter the songs of other techno groups. It's a complete whole, and each song is an immersive emotional experience lasting for 5-10 minutes.

I was turned on to these guys by my friend Joel, one of my longest-standing internet friends. I wouldn't say BT's my favorite band, but it's definitely gonna help me get through this, my longest day of the week.


Went to my desk job funded by the state government without incident. Discovered the pork burritos at the Grill are delicious but overpriced. Withdrew $20 from the ATM to pay for it; the international banking system failed to collapse overnight.

I saw a couple zombies already though, they were cheering on the shutdown with the rest of the Young Republicans. I hope they find some brains soon.

I saw a fedora'd gentleman on my way in. He had grey hair, though, so he is probably wearing the fedora he bought back in the days when it was genuinely classy.

I just got a stack of quizzes to grade. I better hop off this thing and get that done.