towith: (Awake)
2015-04-02 12:06 pm

(no subject)

Is this mic on?
towith: (Default)
2015-01-06 05:00 am

Answer for question 4178.

[Error: unknown template qotd]I currently collect Magic: The Gathering cards, which is quite an expensive hobby when you consider that no one (read: my wife) wants to play against me. Most of my enjoyment these days comes from constructing decks with weird mechanics and then wondering how they'd play against real people.
towith: (Default)
2013-03-29 10:21 pm

(no subject)

Another shout out to anyone who has migrated to Facebook but hasn't added me yet.
towith: (Default)
2013-01-26 05:58 am

(no subject)

A few weeks ago I had a discussion with [livejournal.com profile] fragilemacabre about fealty we sometimes attach to character designs within the horror genre, namely whether or not vampires and zombies contained certain properties which should not be altered. I argued that certain traits make something a zombie and that to abandon those is to abandon the idea of the zombie. [livejournal.com profile] fragilemacabre's rebuttal was that the concept of a purity of forms in fiction is fallacious.

After some thought I asked myself the question "What makes a monster, a monster?" My conclusion was that horror stories are tales we tell ourselves about our fears and that the fidelity I feel for those character archetypes is extent to which I identify with those fears. This raises the question of why people wish to change these monsters and the logical answer is that our fears have changed.

Vampires once stood for our fear of foreigners, disease, sexuality and decadence. In a modern liberal society many of these fears have fallen away, replaced by a Peter Pan fantasy of immortal youth. Should we be surprised then that modern vampires sparkle and are inextricably interested in High-school girls?

With the forthcoming release of the friendly-zombie film Warm Bodies, I can only ask myself what fear has fallen away from society. Many theories abound about the nature of the zombie; do they embody mindless consumerism, communism, prejudice etcetera. I subscribe to the theory that the zombie is an expression of bereavement. The zombie siege represents the crushing depression and feelings of isolation which come with losing a loved one. Perhaps then this is the reason why I find them so compelling and why a young teenage audience would find it difficult to identify with those fears. In any case, I will be watching the box office numbers with great interest.
towith: (Default)
2012-02-08 06:26 am

A thought experiment concerning parliamentary reform

Elections take place as per usual. The majority party wins as per usual. The difference being that each party position in the polls would denote a certain job within parliament. The winning majority would run the business of government and may ammend bills. The party in opposition may shadow the majority party and ammend bills. The party in third place however has no responsabilities, cannot ammend bills but is the only party which is able to create bills and accept ammendments.

This will accomplish two things. First by disconnecting those who run the country, from those who draft the bills, it will cripple the legislative process. Second, to accomodate the disjointed nature of this new parliament, all parties would need to become more flexible, co-operative and careful in drafting legislation.
towith: (Default)
2012-02-08 05:17 am

(no subject)

Someone once told me that traffic on Livejournal et al goes up whilst college is in session. Now that I am in college I both understand and fail to understand why. I am constantly snowed under with work, whilst everyone else goofs off. I get the top grades and they settle on mediocrity/sociability.

In other words, sorry for the lack of updates.
towith: (Default)
2012-01-15 04:19 am

(no subject)

Entering college has taught me one thing. Perhaps I knew it already and in some ways I've always known it, but college has really made it clear that there is a vast gulf between myself and the people of my community. I can make friends with these people, be polite, even genuinely care about them and take an interest in their lives. We have nothing in common however.

I could wallow in self pity but instead, I think I will take ownership of my outlier status. When my colleagues are being sexist, homophobic, racist or generally dull-witted I will allow my inner voice the freedom to speak "That is bullshit and here is why..." I have already spoken out in some capacity. However I think I might take it that one step further and begin giving people both barrels, so to speak.
towith: (Default)
2011-12-15 06:16 am

Good Advice

I believe that all speech is equal, that everyone should be free to express themselves. I am willing to carry that belief to extremely uncomfortable places, where I'm sure the majority of free-speech advocates would probably be too disgusted to tread. That said, not all opinions are valid and while I support your right to express moronic opinions, I will also support my right to tell you that your opinion is moronic. Here then is a short guide to not sounding like a moron:

What are your first principles? How you develop opinions has a large impact on what those opinions become. If you work from the rigours of logic, observation and experiment, your opinions will become informed by reality, solid and open to change as new data is discovered. If you pull your opinions out of your ass on the other hand, they will be shit.

Always query and question. Do not trust your gut instinct that something is bad or good, your guts are where the shit lives after all. Look at the data, look at the situation dispassionately, ask yourself whether the case in question is flawed. At this point you may feel a small tug inside your chest, asking you whether you really want to question one of your sacred cows. Tell it yes, tell it that you hopes it dies a grizzly death.

Lastly, remember that you are wrong, that you are a moron. History is replete with intelligent and wise people who believed in utter shit. You are not special and likelihood is that everything you think is true is in fact shit. So next time you have a great idea with universal applications, remember that you're a full of shit, know-nothing moron and treat your opinions with the good humour that they probably deserve. Then tell me about them.
towith: (Default)
2011-10-29 04:43 am
Entry tags:

Writer's Block: R.I.P

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I wish to donate my organs, tissue, skin, bones, as much as possible. Medical science offers us the opportunity to transform countless lives for the better. All we have to do in exchange is donate our bodies after we are done with them. As such I see no reason to avoid donating. For those who feel slightly queasy about donating their bodies, just remember that decomposition isn't exactly an attractive prospect either. Surely it is a more attractive idea to be helping a child regain their sight, giving a parent a few more years to spend with their family, or perhaps just allowing a drunk a second chance.

A perhaps less noble idea is that I would like my brain plastinated, kept in my skull and put on display in a bell jar. I doubt anyone will honour that request however.
towith: (Default)
2011-10-24 05:38 am

(no subject)

A few podcasts I enjoy and you might too:

History According to Bob - Frequently updated and engaging historical summaries.
DanCarlin.com - Two podcasts here. Common Sense which looks at contemporary political issues and Hardcore History which looks at the abstract themes of history.
EconTalk - Conversations on Economics with people working within the field and adjoining disciplines. Look for episodes with Prof. Munger, they're my favourite.

You likely wont agree with everything said in the podcasts, I know I don't, but what is learning if we are not constantly challenging our ideas? Also any suggestions of shows you enjoy will be appreciated.
towith: (Default)
2011-09-28 03:38 am

(no subject)

I enrolled into college this year. I am enjoying myself and all is going well, however today something unexpected happened. I overheard a classmate referring to me as a swot. For my non-UK friends, a swot as defined by the UrbanDictionary is as follows:

(Offensive Slang) Swot; A person who values his education at least three times more than his social life and his teacher at least three times more than his friends, hypothetically.

I am not exactly a stranger to insults. While insults are not exceptionally good for morale, they are not going to alter a habit I find conducive. I enjoy reading, learning and independent study. What surprises me is that my classmates are all over 20 years old, they have made a conscious effort to re-enter the education system and yet there is still this nonsense. Surely we can rise above the level of shit-throwing chimps with damaged egos.

Disclaimer: The vast majority of the people in my class are agreeable.
towith: (Default)
2011-09-26 05:31 am

(no subject)

Whilst working in the bar I overheard two gentlemen discussing the raise in the retirement age. One gentleman bemoaned the supporters of the raise by saying "They only care about money". This is a somewhat common complaint, so it is certainly worth exploring.

What is money? Money is not simply the pieces of paper in your pocket, money encompasses a massive range of concepts. One of the most important of these concepts is money as a means of communication. Money or more accurately prices, communicate supply and demand. If the supply of an item/service is low and the demand for that item/service is high, the price will become high.

Let us assume then that the state retirement fund is poorly managed and it's stocks are being constantly pilfered to fill gaps in other services. It is a shocking concept but let us continue. The pension funds will therefore have to be taken directly from the tax coffers, which means that today's taxpayers/workers are paying directly for today's retirees. If the supply of workers then exceeds the demand of the retirees, we have no problem. If however we live in an aging population, the demand of retirees might exceed the supply of workers.

At this point we have several options. We may cut or scrap the retirement fund, which may mean most retirees will have to return to work. Or we can raise the retirement age and only a few retirees will have to return to work. Personally I would scrap the retirement fund for anyone retiring after 2030. Unless a devastating crisis decimates the fabric of society, we will continue to live long lives, making an ill-managed state pension absolutely untenable in the long term. Announcing plans to scrap it now would simply be more honest and allow people to make alternative plans.

You could ask why the state couldn't manage its duties more professionally, but that is a whole different post entirely. In short, it is the same reason why a man can become elected on a hope/reform platform and then authorise the assassination of one of his own citizens. Politics is about perceptions, not facts.
towith: (Default)
2011-09-16 05:26 am

Association Meme

Comment to this post, and I will list five things I associate with you. They might make sense or they might be random. Then post that list, with your commentary, to your LJ (or just add a reply back at me).

List provided by [livejournal.com profile] tydestra:

Penis

As a male I am in the possession of a penis. The penis is a tube of vascular material which engorges upon sexual excitement. It also functions as a duct for urine leaving the bladder.

Marriage

Marriage is treating me well. Being married is much like any other relationship, in that stimuli develop into broadly the same products. The stakes however are higher making marriages more difficult to abandon, which I assume is the main function of the agreement. This is perfect for me as I hope the relationship will last for a very long time. Ty still makes me incredibly happy, with her I am at my most relaxed and care free. If I can make it to being old and crotchety with Ty by my side, I think I can consider my life well-lived.

Zombies

Zombies play into my particular mental ticks. Fear of mindless crowds, feelings of isolation and my joy in creating plans. Plus the music in zombie films can be rather good.

Cutting

This is how to cut: [lj-cut] [/lj-cut] just replace the "[" and "]" with "<" and ">". It is best used to hide large amounts of text or images.

Sunlight

Sunlight burns, blinds, causes cancer and intolerable levels of heat. Sunlight also produces various positive effects, I can however gain many of these effects without standing in direct sunlight for extended periods. I therefore sit in shade. Case closed.
towith: (Default)
2011-08-20 04:41 am
Entry tags:

Writer's Block: Jumped the shark

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House. It is actually quite unfair of me to say House, as I stopped watching the show the episode House and Cuddy became an item. A lot of the tension in the show is supplied by the fact that these two people cannot be together. The fact that they became an item can only mean the resolution to that tension, even if the relationship fails.

Second, I cannot stand Thirteen. Thirteen is the ultimate Mary Sue. When Cameron was introduced it was made clear that House hired an attractive woman because they had to work harder to prove themselves. Thirteen on the other hand has never explained her presence, she is simply the attractive girl with a sad story. It is achingly one dimensional.

Third, the medicine is poorer. In the first and second seasons the medicine was actually quite good and I could often guess the ailment based on the symptoms. In the third season medical realism went out of the window and as a result, so did the idea of the medical mystery. Now the show appears to be solely a drama about doctors and if I wanted to see that, I would copy House and watch General Hospital.

[Edit] Also, Chase assassinated a world leader and managed to reach the end of the season without being arrested. Even if that world leader was a terrible person, they're not going to make chase take responsibility for his actions?
towith: (Default)
2011-08-16 07:29 am

(no subject)

Everytime a person dies, knowledge is lost. The only way to preserve that knowledge is to communicate it to the following generation. We can aide this process by writing books etcetera, but then there is still the burden of teaching the next generation to appreciate those books. To have any continuity then between one generation and the next, there must be communication. If one generation does not communicate with the next, the lessons of the former are lost to the latter.

Assuming that the above is true, we can conclude that some problems may be caused by this lack of communication. One such problem is recreational drugs. I work in a pub and notice that children and teens will stare through the doors and windows for hours on end. The few small children allowed inside will ask their parents for a pint of beer and the parents will laugh, thinking it adorable. The adults see the children as naive and inexperienced. The children on the other hand see alcohol as a totem of adulthood and ultimately power. A tension then exists in which both generations acknowledge an experience gap, yet are prohibited from transferring that experience due to its potential dangers.

The years pass by and these same children drink alcohol illicitly with their friends and later in clubs geared toward a young adult clientele. With no experience to guide them, they learn the hard way that alcohol consumption can lead to embarrassment, compromising situations and in some cases addiction, disease and death.

Now let us imagine that at the age of 15, rather than drinking with their friends in secret, these teens drank at a bar. Surrounded by adults with some experience of drinking and drunkenness. Receiving alcohol from an experienced bartender who knows when to cut a customer off. A relatively safe environment to pass knowledge from one generation to another. Would it aide in reducing negative incidents and problems?

The main objection I foresee is that this is delivering a message that the consumption of alcohol by adolescents is to be condoned. As I have stated however, adolescents are already encouraged to drink if only by their thirst for experience and for what they perceive as an adult pastime. You could then argue that perhaps we should change the culture and ban alcohol, however prohibition does not have a sound historical record and would likely make the problem worse. Then there is the emotional appeal to the likelihood of calamity. It is my opinion that such calamity is the very reason for bringing youth alcohol consumption into the light of a legitimate public house atmosphere.

Another objection would be that if such a program works for alcohol, why not heroin? Why not indeed. This fact probably does not aide my argument, however bringing heroin use out into the light would likely cure many of the ills associated with its usage. Indeed if we look at the situation in Portugal, when drug use was decriminalised, many of the associated problems decreased. Where as the EU's continued prohibition during the same period was associated with an increase in the usual problems i.e. AIDs, criminality, addiction and prevalence.

Is it time then to take a perhaps uncomfortable look at ourselves, our society, our policies and what we are teaching the next generation? I think so.
towith: (Default)
2011-08-10 12:26 am
Entry tags:

Writer's Block: Into the wild

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Assuming a zoo which took excellent care of the animals within its charge, conducted breeding programs for endangered species and created joy for millions of visitors each year, no I wouldn't release an animal. For my to release an animal you would have to demonstrate abuse, advanced intelligence or in the case of releasing to the wild, demonstrate that the animal could in fact survive.
towith: (Default)
2011-08-04 05:13 am
Entry tags:

Writer's Block: It’s a small world

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Much like [livejournal.com profile] tydestra's answer, my happiest place is with my partner, Ty.
towith: (Default)
2011-07-29 04:32 am
Entry tags:

Writer's Block: Crime pays

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Four points.

First: Should every sentence be a life sentence? If someone has served their debt to society, what message are we sending by continuing to punish the person.

Second: Knowledge is not an evil. Increasing our understanding of this hypothetical person's mindset via their writings is not a bad thing.

Third: If it is truly the will of the public that these people should not profit, the public should avoid buying the book.

Forth: The legislative pen should not be guided by the emotional eruptions of the gutter presses.
towith: (Default)
2011-06-16 02:13 am

The Topographical Anatomy of a Ty

The study of anatomy can be described as the developmental understanding of living forms, namely the structures and functions of those forms. During my years of blissful study of one such form, namely that of the [livejournal.com profile] tydestra or to use the Latin homosapien mulierem pulchram, I have made many observations. During this post I hope to share a few such observations with you:

Hardened Exoskeleton

The hardened shell of the Ty supports and protects her delicate underbelly. It is usually the first attribute noted by enthusiastic amateur Ty spotters, as a Ty barrelling through the densely populated New York streets is a majestic sight to behold. Patient Ty spotters however will note that the shell is often discarded during times of ease and comfort, especially when with her mate.

Geekoception

Tys navigate by detecting disturbances in geekosphere surrounding the Earth, allowing the Ty to easily locate nearby colleges, libraries, museums, comic-book stores and porn-booths.

Enlarged Cortex

The uncommonly quick and alert mind of the Ty makes her a top-predator on the wild plains of academia. Many unsuspecting students and professors alike have fallen to her superior essay-drafting skills, severely skewing performance expectations in her wake.

Retractable Claws

When the claws of a Ty emerge they do not return to their sheaths until bloodied. Whether this means the side of a loved one is attacked or the Tys own nose during a careless itch, blood must be spilled.

Hostess Cream Filling

Enough said.

Buttocks

The buttocks of the Ty are complex. First they are used to attract her mate with rhythmic shows of her attractive plumage. Secondary uses are as defence/entertainment, namely in the production of various odours. Third and possibly the most intriguing feature, is in the newly discovered anus-academia-gland which allows the Ty to pull A-grade term papers out of her rear at will.

Heart

Most importantly, the pulsing core of the Ty which is quickly recognised and embraced by predatory Stees. These mammalian Stephens will, once encountering a wild Ty, attempt to woo and entwine themselves with the Ty. After seven years of knowing the Ty, the Stee will then wed his heart's desire. This ritual is performed on aquatic crafts during the longest day of the year, as to create an atmosphere of elemental synthesis. After the marriage, the Ty and Stee will spend the remaining days and years of their lives happily together, producing offspring with fanciful names.
towith: (Default)
2011-06-08 02:27 am
Entry tags:

Writer's Block: The long and short of it

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Without including text books it would probably be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Admittedly this isn't exactly the most impressive book possible, but at 832 pages it really annihilates the competition. The shortest might be Scale by Will Self, but it is more likely to be one of the many books I read as a child ex. The Very Hungry Caterpillar.