Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Mr. Lincoln, tear down this peculiar institution.

Sevenscore and ten years ago, our forefathers brought forth upon this continent a new birth of freedom, conceived in civil war, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great contest with the descendants of traitors, testing whether this freedom, or any freedom so conceived, can long endure. We are met on a day of remembrance, when the dead of Gettysburg were buried by a President who would be buried a few short years thereafter by a bullet fired against civil rights. These were not the last martyrs of freedom; the dead of Selma, of Birmingham, of every lynching and riot lie in hallowed repose with them, dead so that the great hope of our Constitution might live - our Constitution, a beautiful, bittersweet promise so long unfulfilled, but brought into the full light of glorious day by a long-suffering but unconquered people in the name of another martyred President.

We cannot hallow their graves, or sanctify their deaths, any more than their own actions have consecrated them. It is for us the living, instead, to dedicate ourselves to the struggle which they have so nobly advanced. It is ours to take from their last full measure of devotion the inspiration to stand guard around the tomb freedom's enemies have prepared it, and give it space to be born anew, phoenix-like - that all may be free from need and privation, that the riches of our continent may not be plundered and poisoned for the few, and that government by the people, for the people, and of the people shall not perish from the earth.

Monday, November 18, 2013

What I'm listening to today.

Just heard it on the radio, so I tracked it down on Youtube and downloaded it. Great song, sad as hell. I wanna learn it for the guitar.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

White supremacist chucklefucks in North Dakota, and all that entails.

It's a big dustup up North Dakota way: this tiny town called Leith has been chosen by a racist organization as a place to settle, in hopes of taking over the local government. And ever since this shit started, it's been a nonstop chuckle factory. What to talk about first? How the racists got shown up when a bunch of Lakota grandmothers stole their Nazi flag and burned it?

Or maybe how their leader is 1/8th black? I shit you not. Apparently Craig Cobb, the guy leading this schiesse-on-wheels, is in denial at the results, and wants a "more reputable" DNA company to test him. When that inevitably happens and he sees the results, it sounds like he won't change his mind, he'll just become a "border guard for people more pure than I," at least according to the article.

What a pathetic joke. Reminds me of this Dave Chappelle skit I saw once.

The stress of college life.

There's an ad trying to get me to play Naruteymans Z or something on the internet that I just saw on my Deviantart. I don't know why, in this era of targeted ads, they think I'd be interested. While it's true I play a browser-based game, and that I somewhat like anime, I'm not interested in kids' animes.

I'm grabbing ahold of that because that is the least, smallest, tiniest problem I have before me. I think that's the way to go here... ease into this. I just tried to take a sip of water, just to discover my mug is empty. Which reminds me that the office manager (don't dare call the lovely and capable Brenda Brown a mere "secretary" or you'll soon regret it; she really is the most useful person in the office, myself included) has gotten tired of people not pitching in for Culligan water, and has staged a strike. The water cooler has a call to action taped to it. Tragedy of the commons. I'm going to go get some faucet water, I'll be right back.

Coming back from that, I noticed a stress ball on my desk. It's got a smiley face on it and it was given to me by my Intro to Graduate Studies professor. I'm going to skunch him a few times before I continue. There, much better.

Monday, November 11, 2013

They want a campaign, and they're damn well gonna get one.

I'm going to be a candidate in the 2014 Student Senate elections.

I'm not eligible to run for President, and probably won't be eligible to run for Vice President. That's okay. What I want to do, I can do it from the Senate. And what I want to do is put an end to the corrupt government that currently dominates there.

Here's the situation. Last semester, Student Senate's Finance Committee was disbanded by fiat. Imagine President Obama having the power to disband the House Ways and Means Committee because he finally got sick of the Tea Party's shit. That's what happened here, except in this case the Tea Party was the good guys, and the guy doing the disbanding wasn't even elected. It was Aaron Prestwich, some hired CSC functionary, elected by nobody. The Eagle, which is our student newspaper, rightly kicked up a fuss and pointed out just how contrary this was to constitutional democracy.

Let my people roll?

Apparently the very first d20 was made in Ptolemaic Egypt.

What's really cool is how similar it is to modern d20s, shapewise. It just goes to show the universality of mathematics: it's pretty much the only branch of knowledge that's completely free of social construct. The symbols and the way we write the numbers are social constructs, sure, but the underlying principles are the same. And apparently, the icosahedron is the simplest way to render an object with 20 sides of equal shape and size. (Because there's so little in the way of social construct, xenobiologists are suggesting that in any first contact scenario with an alien race, we'll likely be "speaking" math until we can figure out each others' manner of communication and then the languages therein.)

The only real differences, of course, are that it's not made of plastic like our dice, and it's not quite as balanced as our dice, and obviously the characters on the dice. They didn't have Arabic numerals or a place value system in Ptolemaic Egypt; they didn't even have Roman numerals. The characters are instead from the Greek numeral system which, like the Roman, used letters to represent numbers. However, looking on the faces, it's a scattershot of different numbers, with values ranging from 1 to possibly even 1000, if I'm reading the cursive right and that is indeed a sampi. (It could also be a localized, demotic-influenced alpha, as this was Ptolemaic Egypt.) So whatever game they were playing with this, they either didn't need a 1-20 numbering system, or the Greek letters didn't stand for numbers.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Vote beyond reality.

It appears that Nebraska may not be completely lost to the forces of progressivism after all.

We've got constitutional amendments for both medical marijuana and full-on legalization on the ballot in 2014. And believe it or not, I'm pretty confident that they'll both pass.


Remember, this is an agricultural state. The legalization amendment mentions not just weed, but also hemp. This state could make a killing from hemp farming, especially east of the 100th meridian. Hemp can grow on marginal land that other crops can't, and is worth a whole pile of money. So basically, we could turn over land that's currently making us a couple bucks growing grass for cattle into hemp farms, and our ranchers-cum-farmers would see a pile of money as a result.

I think this issue has been detoxified enough to happen. It's actually bipartisan - a majority of both parties support it. It's happening across the border in Colorado already, and the world has failed to end. Legalizing it here would reduce the headache, and the cops probably wouldn't mind being able to switch their focus to destructive drugs, especially meth. And it's a great way to boost state revenues without raising taxes, especially the hemp provisions.

God yes. I can't advocate for the passage of these two bills enough. We need to make this a weed-friendly state ASAP. It's a foregone conclusion that marijuana will be legalized nationally within two decades. What's being decided right now is what states are going to play host to an established and legalized marijuana industry first. The way some of my friends talk about "California medical" and "Colorado medical" as high-grade, desirable commodities, they could be talking about "Nebraska kush" in future. When marijuana's legalized everywhere, if we're one of the first states to legalize it, we could have already established an export industry with a reputation for quality, the way Colorado and California already have. That doesn't just mean jollies for stoners - that means jobs and a future for our struggling rural areas.

Monday, November 4, 2013

An interesting fact I learned today.

I'm taking a break from writing my paper on the Lost Cause theory of the American Civil War to write about another lost cause.

Because you all just lost.

You're also now blinking and breathing manually, you're now suddenly aware of the weight of your tongue in your mouth and that there's no real good place for it, and some part of your body itches really bad and you must scratch it now.

Probably the thing I'll miss most after I move is dropping a convobomb on my roomie and seeing him stop whatever he's doing to shout "FUCK YOU STU!" Last night he even threw a pen or something at me. Good times.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Stu Plays Civ: Britain, 701 AD - 1066 AD

(This is a continuation of this thread and this thread. I'm trying to recreate the British Empire in a Civ 4 Earth map with the holy cities in the right places.)

The Chronicles of the Kings of Britain, Part III

From the reigns of Kings Ine, Cuthred, Cinewulf and Beorhtric of the British Empire (703 AD - 802 AD)

The war against the Byzantine Empire continues. Having conquered Madagascar, we are mobilizing troops for the conquest of the Holy Lands. Madagascar was handed off to the French, in an attempt to mollify their rage, strengthen them in Africa and rebalance that continent in our favor, and to relieve ourselves of the upkeep of the colony. Troops are being landed on the Arabian peninsula, but the catapults are taking longer to ship. As a result, our forces are idling in the environs of Aden, resting up for the attack on Mecca.

The Kievan Rus are having no such difficulties. They have conquered the Byzantine fortress city of Phasis in 740 AD, and driven them from the eastern Black Sea. They have established their own city nearby, Rostov, and they progress towards the Byzantine citadels of Tyras and Astrakhan next.

Time to get grading done.

It's gotten better than the pic suggests, but this was basically me at the beginning of the semester.

I'm giving out a lot more 100%s these days, though; apparently my students are paying attention to the things I write. Their writing has also significantly improved, so my endless harping about it has gotten through.

Still, as the semester wears on, I have a lot less time to grade their work and do my own. It's maddening, a little bit. But I think I'll pull through.