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:

OBSERVATIONS ON THE NATURE OF AWARENESS

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.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Legacy of the Region 23 Complex and Wellnitz Fires.



A full day of my life later, not counting the interview times.

Thanks for everyone who helped out, one way or another!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Lunar Eclipse, 4/15/2014.


^Taken with my Sony Cyber-shot just now, right outside my apartment on campus.

I would have completely forgotten about the lunar eclipse, except that I needed to dash to my car to get some tax information (yes, I waited until the last minute). On my way back in, I noticed the moon was red. So I woke up Draya, who has to work at 5:30 AM, to come see it. She agreed it was worth it.

Anyway, I have a friend in Scottsbluff who can't see it through the clouds, and friends in Scotland who can't see it period because it's morning there. So here's the best of the pics I took.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

How I Mine For Craft: The al-Ramadi Mosque and Mokattam Gardens

Welcome back! Last time, we saw the start of an Egyptian city, with ancient and medieval Egyptian characteristics.

Well, there's more.

Starting at the entrance to the bazaar and port under Mokattam Mountain, we will explore the al-Ramadi Mosque and Mokattam Gardens.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

How I Mine For Craft?

I've taken up Minecraft.

I actually took up Minecraft a while back, but getting it on my laptop on Thursday night has guaranteed that my academic career is going to be sufficiently imperilled. So I might as well show you guys what's destroying my free time now!

Back when I was living with Caveman, I tried create this huge underground version of ancient Babylon, complete with artificial sunrise and everything. Making the cavern was really time-consuming, though, so I decided to not start there. Instead, I started in a desert area near a river, so I decided I was gonna rock ancient and medieval Egypt. (I say medieval because I wanna make bazaars and the Hanging Church and such.) It's not gonna be a literal copy; I'm not going to recreate the world map and such because that would be a bitch. But I'm going to make civilizations appropriate to each biome I come across, and I'm starting in Egypt.

Anyway, pics!


We're starting on the Wannabe Nile, looking at large statues of nondescript pharaohs carved into the side of a mountain. They each bear the crook and staff, symbols of royal Egyptian power, and they both have those pharaoh goatees going on.

What I'm listening to today, April 5th 2014 edition.



I never thought you could get psychedelic with a banjo. I'm suitably impressed.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

LA face with a Chadron booty.



Nate and I were hanging out last night, rocking beyond reality, and this song came on the radio. I'm a fan of the Dandy Warhols, but I didn't recognize this song. The jangly guitars at the beginning are supes trippy, and were the perfect end to a very odd night.

Yeah, might as well talk about that night. The Sigma Tau Delta (OMG THAT SPELLS STD!!!) open mics at the Broker have been ongoing since I was an undergrad, but they've been wrecked lately by a particular group of teenagers. We can't actually forbid them from coming, or playing, but we've tried to figure out controls to filter out the worst. Everyone can only do two works now, no sign-ups are allowed after 9:00 PM, and as of last night that seems to have worked. There's a couple people that get up and sing a cappella rather badly, people that read truly shitty stories (," stated James), but it's not as bad as it was two weeks ago.

This is important, because two weeks ago it was bad. Like, if 75% of all the performers were Creepy Dave bad. It was so bad that Nate, Shanda and I had running MST3K-style commentary on Facebook about how bad it was. We also resolved that at the next one, we were all going to deliberately suck. Nate was going to read the lyrics from Rebecca Black's "Friday" in the style of William Shatner, and Shanda was going to read the lyrics from "Ice, Ice Baby." And I? I was going to perform "Baby Got Back," a la the Jonathan Coulton version:

Saturday, March 29, 2014

An interview with Nickelback's lead singer. It explains everything.

Trust me when I say that this is worth fifteen minutes of your life.

Chad Kroeger reminds me a hell of a lot of a former friend of mine: a likeable scumbag that will screw you over one day and then buy your booze the next; someone who thinks trite bullshit is profound and gets upset when everyone rolls their eyes, but is inexplicably good at making a shitload of people enjoy his trite bullshit anyway... at least, for a time. Someone that can't stop smoking weed and figures he'll be dead by 50.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ancient Levantine ancestor worship, African masks, and the origins of drama and modern Judaism.

It's nothing like you'd imagine.

Of course, whoever made these masks were not Jews; "Jews" didn't exist yet, and wouldn't for thousands of years. But it's probably appropriate to consider that the religious society that made these masks were a part of the greater religious climate of the Middle East at that time.

In those days, the Middle East was the center of the world. Civilization started there; the package of crops and domesticated animals that would conquer the world was freshly put together there at that time and place, as wheat had just been deliberately cultivated a few thousand years ago and people started living in villages, towns and then cities. It was also not a desert: most of the Middle East was forested at that time, at least the parts near sources of water, and it hadn't succumbed to the human-led processes of deforestation and desertification yet.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Open mics.

A lady got up at an open mic and said she was going to read a poem she had written a long time ago. It sounded suspiciously like an email forward, especially when I heard her claim that certain folds stood for shit in the Bible, because you're forbidden by law from hitting the "forward" button on an email unless you mistakenly believe that America was founded as a Christian nation. So I Googled it, and sure enough it was an email forward debunked on Snopes.

See for yourself.

She even read the "Share this with your friends" crap. So she not only was full of shit about why an American flag is folded, but she was full of shit about it being something she wrote, and she wasn't even clever about hiding it.

And then Fish gets up and talks about period sex. I love this place.

Friday, February 28, 2014

An Academic Journey to a New World - Part II.

While writing that last post, I was casting about for some kind of image. I take it as a point of pride that I can usually find some manner of appropriate image for most of the posts I do. While I ended up settling on that drawing of Carthage I made (it's hanging in my bedroom to this day), my first thought was to post an image of one of those Carthaginian coins with the map of the world under it that was cited in the paper.

I found the website of the guy that postulates this particular theory well enough, but what I couldn't find was a clear image of the full coin. (That guy, Dr. Mark McMenamin, isn't even a historian as it turns out, but a geologist... so he's not speaking in his area of expertise.) Anyway, I saw the coin to your left, and I saw a detailed image with a section of a that coin that looked really detailed as well as an artist's rendering of that coin, but I haven't been able to find any other instances of the coin on the internet.

However, doing a search for Carthaginian coins wasn't fruitless. These are some examples of what I found, after the jump:

An Academic Journey to a New World - Part I.

When I was an undergraduate student, I took a class called "History of the American Indian." It was taught by Dr. Hyer, who at the time was Chadron State's newest history professor, and nowadays is Dean of the School of BEAMSS here.

Back in those days, the history faculty's approach to homework was mostly no-nonsense. You did a paper, and two tests. Depending on the professor, you might have a couple other minor projects or homework besides that. I like that philosophy - it doesn't waste anyone's time, and at the end of it all, if you paid attention and did your work you had something pretty impressive you could show people. (Which is what I'll be doing shortly.)

I have my own approach to homework - I don't want to bore my professors. In my World War II class, I wrote my term paper on Pink Floyd's "The Final Cut" because I was pretty sure Dr. Rankin had read a million papers about Hitler and the Holocaust and the Battle of Stalingrad already. There was nothing I could say on that score that hadn't already been said by someone a whole lot smarter than me.

But I could do unique, so I did. In this case, I chose to examine pre-Columbian contacts between the Old and New Worlds. Dr. Hyer suggested I limit my inquiries to only one possible pre-Columbian Old World society, so I chose what seemed the likeliest unproven candidate: the Phoenicians/Carthaginians.

This is something I'd read up on a bit. I'd always been an avid fan of Phoenician/Carthaginian history. When I was a little kid, I learned the Phoenician alphabet - it was probably my first act as a linguist. When I was in high school, I did a presentation on the Battle of Cannae, still studied in military colleges and considered one of the most brilliant military victories of all time. Also in high school, I drew that picture up top; it was supposed to be a representation of Carthage. I drew it from written descriptions and not pictures or maps; it has the Bursa and the two harbors connected by canal, and a statue of Dido.

Point is, I knew a lot about the subject. And I was fairly familiar with the arguments advanced in favor of Phoenician contact with the New World.

I am reposting my paper for that class, so you can all see what I wrote back then. It's after the jump.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Cooking With Stu: Spanish Rice.

I never did get around to posting the rest of the recipes I photographed a few weeks ago. Let me get on that.

Last recipe, I plated up my black bean and pineapple enchiladas with some Spanish rice, but I never did explain how to make that. Some store-bought mix would be okay, but you can do so much better than that.

WHAT YOU NEED

From back to front, top to bottom, left to right: rice (any kind will do, brown rice is healthier for you but I used white because I live dangerously), chimichurri, some kind of butter or butter substitute, pico de gallo, and salsa.

I made the chimichurri and the pico myself, and I've posted the pico recipe already. I'll post the chimichurri recipe when I make some more, but at this very moment I'm full up. You should definitely make the pico yourself; buying it pre-made is a ripoff and you can make your own super-cheap. The chimichurri is also cheaper to make yourself; you get three times as much for the same price, and it tastes better. But if you don't know how, by all means just buy a jar of it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

HIstory Harvest Ad Final Take And This Time I Mean It.



After three different recording sessions, this is what we've finally got to broadcast. You'll hear it on the Alleycat and maybe some other stations if we get lucky.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Everyone should see just what Wall Street really thinks of us.

You should read this.

I don't have much to add; the article speaks for itself. The same dudes that wrecked the world economy are making fun of their victims. It's unbridled, psychopathic cruelty, and it's just met its bane - sunlight.

I really hope this story takes off. It needs to.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I both love and hate the Bean Broker.

I love the environment, I love both their coffee and their tea, I love the people that come here to hang out, and I love the baristas. It's easily the best coffee shop I've ever been to.

I hate that sometimes I can't concentrate on what I'm doing. I've been trying to type an email to a professor for the past half an hour while fielding a conversation with someone that doesn't understand that my typing and staring at the computer screen means I'm busy. And I can't just say I need to focus; that'd be rude and for various reasons I can't afford to offend this person. But goddammit, I'm not and never have been one of those people that can multitask, and I can't ever come here anymore without running into this guy, so I have to kiss an hour of productivity goodbye every time I come down here.

If you see me at the Broker, please say hi. Feel free to challenge me to chess, invite me for a smoke, whatever. I value my friends and don't mind spending a little bit of time with them. But please don't spend an hour talking my ear off about the same stuff we talked about last time you ran into me here if I'm obviously busy. I'm a graduate student with very little free time... please respect that.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Project 86 is looking for funding support for a new album.

It looks sweet as hell too.

They've been one of my favorite bands since high school. The 503 is replete with Project 86 references, up to and including putting their frontman Andrew Schwab in the comic for Strip 300. The Project 86 froams (sic) were the second messageboards I ever posted at. They are, all around, a fantastic band whose brilliance hasn't diminished with time. Not only that, but they did it all with very little label support (back when that was a necessity) and in a scene with very little acts that could hold a candle to them. (One of the few that could, Anberlin, recently announced that they're breaking up after a farewell tour.)

Basically, their music kills, killed and will kill to come. Just about anyone who listens to harder stuff has dug them after I played a few songs of theirs. And their latest crowd-funding project is a fan's dream. For $25, I'm getting a signed limited-edition copy of the album, and a bunch of additional stuff. If you look on the list of perks on the Indiegogo site, it's nuts just how much they're willing to do for their fans.

I really really hope this thing works, which is why I'm spreading the word. It's got 38 days left to work, and they're over halfway there, but I wanna make sure they reach their goal. I'm currently reading a book for class called Who Owns The Future? by Jaron Lanier, and one of the points he makes is that the digital network economy has hollowed out the middle class, and one of the places it started was the music industry. It's harder than ever before to eke out a living playing music, but I think and hope that Project 86 will be one of the rare acts that manages to not only pull it off, but to do so on their own, without having to rely on a label. The future of the music industry is going to increasingly look like this, and as a multi-medium artist myself, I want to support other artists trying to make it work.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Human Sacrifice to the Gods.

(WARNING: the pictures and text below get fairly graphic.)

A few months ago, my friend Tom made a post comparing the modern neoliberal system to the Aztec system of ritual human sacrifice. I don't know why, but last night I had a dream about it. It was troubling, and I couldn't sleep past 7:00 AM on a weekend when normally I sleep in 'til noon. I've been up since then, writing and drawing what comes below.


1. I dreamed I was a Tlaxcalan warrior. We fought against the Aztec Empire, and were defeated.

We were marched to Tenochtitlan, where their priests did worship to the gods. Sweet-smelling smoke billowed from the altars atop the great temples.

We will be sacrificed, and our bodies fed to Huitzilopochtli in the spirit world so that the end of the earth will be delayed. The people cheer, for they will taste our bodies in this world, and they hunger for it - they need the meat we will provide. We are foreigners to them, and defeated in battle. It is right and just that this should happen to us.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I covered Stairway to Heaven on Wednesday.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Cooking With Stu: Black Bean and Pineapple Enchiladas

Today we're going to learn how to make my very favorite enchilada recipe ever.

You may look at the lack of meat and think I've somehow turned into some kind of feckless vegetarian hippie, but I assure you that's hardly the case. This is better than enchiladas with some kind of meat. Cook it yourself and you'll see.


WHAT YOU NEED

Top to bottom, left to right, back to front: sour cream, pico de gallo, crushed pineapple, black beans, butter or some kinda butter substitute, cocoa powder, tomato sauce, oregano, chili powder, garlic powder, around 12 tortillas, and fresh cilantro. Not pictured: some kind of shredded white cheese. Monterey Jack's the easiest appropriate cheese to get, but a Mexican blend is okay too. If you can get straight Monterey Jack, do that.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cooking With Stu: Pico de Gallo

I'm gonna drop a bunch of Mexican recipes on you guys here over the next week or so. But we'll have to start with the basics before we can do the fancy stuff. Pico de gallo is an all-purpose dressing for Mexican food; it's glorious if done right, and it goes on pretty much all the stuff I'll be making.

It's also the easiest goddamn thing ever, so I'm gonna be dropping some more generalized cooking knowledge on you all in the process, to fill space. So here we go.

WHAT YOU NEED

From back to front, left to right: onions (white onions are preferred, but any will do), lemon juice, lime juice, salt, fresh cilantro (dried cilantro is gross and bad and if you have it, you should feel bad), tomatoes (any kind will work), and jalapeƱo peppers (not pickled, but fresh and intact).

Monday, February 3, 2014

The universe is not telling me anything.


It's merely coincidence. That's all.

Really.

Shut up.

Stu Plays Civ: Roma Victor, 4000 BC - 420 AD

As you all know, when I play Civ now, I post it on here.

I just wrapped up a Civ IV file involving the British Empire (you can read the whole thing if you start here and then read here, here, here and here.)

I decided that I was going to play Civ V vanilla after that file was done, albeit a modded version of it. I grabbed one of the Earth packs with true starting locations, city-states in their true locations, and resources distributed realistically. And I was trying to decide who to play: Rome, Mongolia, Germany, America, Russia or India. After asking around some IRL friends, I settled on Rome.

Anyway, on with Ad Urbe Condita - Librum I.


The founding of Rome is shrouded in much myth and superstition. One tale says that the brothers Romulus and Remus were raised by wolves in the wilderness amidst the shrines of the Sabians. They founded a city amidst these neutral places of worship, but then fought over who would lead it. Rome takes her name from Romulus, who slew Remus.

Another myth says that Aeneas, fleeing fallen Troy, sailed to the uttermost parts of the Greek world, the plains of Latium, and built a new Troy upon seven hills by the river Tiber. It is said that he then ordered his subjects, the Sabines, to abduct German settlers to work their fields. The blond hair of a scattering of rural Italians in Latium to this day gives some credence to this myth.

What we do know is this: the oldest buildings in Rome date from Palatine Hill, where legend states Romulus and Remus grew up. Recent digs for artifacts have turned up coins identified as from the reign of King Menes of Egypt, so we know that the city now called Rome is more ancient than even the myths tell us. It may even have been a place of pilgrimage and worship as many as 4420 years ago!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Brought him home.

Pete Seeger's dead.

He lived a great life, dying at the ripe age of 94. He committed the greatest "sin" an American ever could - being a Communist during the Cold War - and nevertheless founded folk rock and dedicated it to the antiwar movement. He was a strongly ethical person, dedicated to democracy in its most practical sense - every concert he played was one big singalong, and he fought inequality everywhere he saw it - and he finally got the recognition he deserved.

Chadron's got a relatively huge folk scene, given the population, and pretty much nothing that gets played in that would have been possible without Pete Seeger's life and work. With Pete Seeger, there's no Bob Dylan; no Kingston Trio; no Peter, Paul and Mary.

So today, I'll be listening to this song:



And this song:



And this song:



And especially this song that I was singing with some grandmothers as we marched to Student Center last week:



Rest in peace, Pete Seeger.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Real progress on homelessness, from the last damn people you'd expect.

I've tried not to be too political on this blog. Couldn't really avoid it with the government shutdown, but all my previous blogs were mainly political, and I wanted to break away from that. But this issue is near and dear to my heart; I've seen homelessness up close and personal. Some of the closest people to me were homeless once, and the general hatred and indifference of society to their plight fills me with sadness and rage all at once, so I decided to post about it.

Anyway.

Utah is the reddest state in the nation. Redder than Texas. Redder even than Nebraska or Oklahoma. It is more Republican than a white guy in a Duck Dynasty shirt taking off his gun holster to have sex with his wife on a bed made of money. Utah is so Republican that Mexicans not only don't want to immigrate there, but insisted we take it with us along with Texas and California. Utah is more Republican than saying hi to a cop on your way to a stockholders' meeting. Utah is more Republican than Sarah Palin saying anything.

Point is, you would not expect Utah to be the first state to solve homelessness. And yet.

Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK Day 'n' such.

I took part in the MLK march this year.

It's an annual thing that happens every year on MLK Day. A bunch of students and professors gather at Common Cents and then march down Main Street. The po-po show blocks off the street and escorts the marchers. Some dude with a truck blasts an MLK speech out of hugeass speakers at the head of the march, and people are given signs with quotes from the civil rights movement to hold.

I've never partaken before this year, and this year I showed up because one of my professors asked. I'm certainly not against the idea; it just seems, well, strictly educational. People take part in it to learn a tiny bit of what it would've been like back then, to assert their liberal bona-fides. And that's fine, as far as that goes - with all the oppressive anti-civil-rights shit that's transpired lately, we can't educate people about the importance of civil rights enough - but it's not an actual protest, y'know?

I was tempted to show up with a sign that read "VOTER ID = JIM CROW" but I'm glad I didn't - as soon as I showed up, my impressions
were confirmed. This isn't an actual protest, it's street theater. But even as street theater, it was all right.

First off, it's an event where you get a whole bunch of people of every race and background marching in support of civil rights in a very red area. That's better than nothing. As we marched, people got out of their houses to watch us, and there were photographers on hand.

Which brings me to the next thing - one of the dudes ahead of me was holding a sign made of wood. It was a pretty big sign. It was therefore pretty heavy, and in the ridiculous wind we had today, it was unwieldy too. I offered to help him hold it after one of his friends helped for a bit and then gave up. And together, we marched it from about Sixth Street to the Student Center. The pic is of us holding it against a strong wind.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A picture I saw on /b/...

At first blush, it's pretty disrespectful; making duckface at the Vietnam Memorial?

But look at it a bit longer, and it kinda sums up the differences between the generation before mine and the generation after it. Some of those names on that wall weren't much older than her. They were compelled by their government to fight and die half the world away. She's... well, not.

Which means, in a sense, that the world has become a better place, I think. An inevitable aspect of better circumstances is a lack of understanding of the worse circumstances that preceded it. This is why the older generation is always like "Well in my day, we didn't have X, Y and Z..." and the younger generation blows them off. The young don't understand (unless they're in a job like mine, or at least paid attention in history class) and the old are frustrated that their sacrifices have created spoiled brats that can't relate to them. It's mutual incomprehensibility... a generation gap.

It's always been thus, and always shall it ever be. The girl in the photo will probably grow up and have children, and they'll have children, and maybe one day her grandkids will do whatever childish fad is popular at the feet of the Afghan War Memorial, a war where she remembers some of her friends' friends died, and she'll be on the other side. But I can't hate her; what she does is probably out of blithe ignorance, not malice or unconcern.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Cooking With Stu: Capellini Marinara

This is better known to most Americans as simply "spaghetti," even though I prefer capellini (angel hair) to spaghetti noodles for this dish.

Anyway.


WHAT YOU NEED

From back to front, left to right: capellini/angel hair, red wine, olive oil, the cheapest tomato sauce (NOT ketchup, for any Aussies in the audience) you can find, minced garlic, oregano, Italian seasoning, chili garlic Cholula, basil, red pepper flakes, mint and tarragon.

Cholula's usually used in Mexican stuff, but the garlic version adds flavor as well as heat. Mint and tarragon are oddball choices for marinara, too; they're usually used in Greek cooking but they add this sorta fresh flavor to whatever they're put in, and it balances well with the rest of the spices.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

While I'm on a Civ kick...



This is the coolest thing I've seen all day.

Stu Plays Civ: 1312 AD - 1776 AD

(This is the final post in a series of posts about a Civ IV file wherein I tried to recreate the British Empire. The previous posts can be viewed here, here, here and here.


The Chronicles of the Kings of Britain, Part V

From the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of the British Empire (1534-1603 AD)

The British Empire had been at peace for over two hundred years when we were placed upon the throne. They were quiet years, spent developing the economies of the colonies, pacifying India, and slowly absorbing Australia through diplomacy. The Chinese colony of Tianjin in Australia was sold to the House of Lancaster for money to use against the Mongolians. The Spanish gave the realm Colonia Australia del Sur upon the marriage of our predecessor Mary and Philip I of Spain. The only remaining foreign colonies in Australia were the Arabian and Malian colonies, which we continue to offer to purchase from the current owners.

However, this peace masked tensions. The liberal democratic order, though invented by the British, was perfected abroad. As of late, the groanings of the British people grew louder and louder. The Liberal-aligned House of York and the Conservative-aligned House of Lancaster kept fighting it out for control of Parliament and therefore the succession. The Yorkists appealed to the people, promising to reform the peerages, weaken the House of Lords and abolish the property qualification for voting that our ancestors had used to restrict the franchise to the rich. The Lancastrians appealed to the gentry and the rich, often resorting to tricks like rotten boroughs. Their Parliaments were Parliaments of money, and they maintained the stagnant social order. It could have been worse, though - for all their politicking, it's not like the Yorks and Lancasters ever did battle, after all.

The final victors of that long period of electoral struggle were our ancestors, the Tudors - a minor faction of the Lancasters settled on as compromise candidates. The first Tudors extended the franchise to the middle classes, the burghers that were now scattered and prosperous throughout the Empire. However, that act led to widespread and enduring support of those same burghers for the Tories, which the Tudors were associated with.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dark Christ Apocalypsos, lol.


Looking through a friend's Facebook tonight, I saw this pic. Hooooooly crap!

Yes, that's me, albeit over a decade ago. I was still a teenager! And also the lead vocalist in Dark Christ Apocalypsos. The dude to the left of me in the pic, with the cross, is Tribble, the lead guitarist. The big dudes in the back were both drummers at different times... the guy on the left is Chris, our first drummer; the guy on the right with the spiky hair is Jeremy, our last drummer. The curly-haired dude to my right is David, Jeremy's brother and our sound guy. The chick in the pic is Leanna, who attended a practice or two and almost filled in for Amber as our pianist for a show, except Amber made it at the last minute.

If Amber was in this pic, that'd be the whole group! Damn.

Da svidaniya.


I was complaining about the snow on my car when I left the Old Main this past Saturday, calling it "snowy bullshit" and my friend Vera took the liberty of writing it on my windshield.

She stayed with us for about a week. We met because my friend Nate dated her on and off for about a year, but she ended up being one of my closest friends. We both seem to have similar personalities.

Cooking With Stu: Walnut Cheese Pasta

I've decided to start another post series, this one about various recipes I cook. Before I went back to school, I used to be a professional chef. I've been told from several people that I'm rather good at it, and that I should post up some recipes. I've done this for several years on various forums I've gone to as the occasion arose, but now I'm gonna just post them all here... together with pictures I take as I cook them.

So, walnut cheese pasta. It's one of the better pastas I make. I found the recipe in an old Italian cookbook from the 60s or 70s, and tried it out when I was living in Portland. It was pretty awesome, so I'd make it regularly for myself and my roomies. And then one day, when I was working at a college cafeteria, we didn't have the ingredients for the pasta on the menu, so they asked me to whip up something. We had the stuff for this (minus the fontina cheese) so I made it, and then had to make something else after it was cleared out within an hour. And now I'm giving the recipe to you.


WHAT YOU NEED

From left to right, top to bottom: Farfalle pasta (the bowtie-looking things), walnuts (chopped, but not too fine... if you buy them whole, then chop them yourself), black pepper (ground is fine, but whole peppercorns are better if you can crack/grind them yourself), milk, grated Parmesan cheese (or similar cheeses; grated Asiago and/or Romano are fine too), fontina cheese, and an 8 oz. block of cream cheese. They're not pictured, but you'll also want some lemon juice and olive oil. (Get extra-virgin olive oil that's first cold pressed, otherwise you're throwing your money away.) If you can't find fontina cheese in your area, havarti is a good substitute, so is gouda or, worse comes to worse, mozzarella. But do try to find the fontina first: it's got subtle flavor notes that you'll want in this dish.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

On guitars, progressions, rock, and worship music.

My friend Vera is hanging out at my place right now and we're playing guitar together.

I've been playing guitar since I was... I wanna say 16? So about 13 years now, and now I feel old. But she just got her guitar this year. She's learned a lot more in this year than I did my first year; I wasted most of my first year or so trying to emulate power metal songs without learning chords or anything but she can play songs already. Granted, they're cheesy three-chord praise and worship songs, but that's still pretty awesome. (For the record, the first songs I learned were also in that genre... and the same goes for a surprising number of musicians. Churches have started musical careers since time immemorial.)

Anyway, I'm giving her some advice because I can. Specifically, I'm teaching her about how progressions work. She started playing this worship song:



I recognize it because I've played it countless times about a decade ago when I was in worship bands. Anyway, apparently my knowledge of music theory's come to a point where I noticed the chord progression and pointed it out to her. I started playing the song above in A instead of D, and then I, without changing the chords, started singing this song:



They have the same progression. The tempo you play changes a bit, but the underlying infrastructure of both songs is the same.