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Sunday, November 16th, 2014
4:34 pm - Bibles, Guns, and Flags
Cut for images.Collapse )

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Saturday, August 24th, 2013
7:55 am - Remember memes?
I Am A: Chaotic Good Human Ranger/Wizard (3rd/2nd Level)

Ability Scores:







Chaotic Good A chaotic good character acts as his conscience directs him with little regard for what others expect of him. He makes his own way, but he's kind and benevolent. He believes in goodness and right but has little use for laws and regulations. He hates it when people try to intimidate others and tell them what to do. He follows his own moral compass, which, although good, may not agree with that of society. Chaotic good is the best alignment you can be because it combines a good heart with a free spirit. However, chaotic good can be a dangerous alignment when it disrupts the order of society and punishes those who do well for themselves.

Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Primary Class:
Rangers are skilled stalkers and hunters who make their home in the woods. Their martial skill is nearly the equal of the fighter, but they lack the latter's dedication to the craft of fighting. Instead, the ranger focuses his skills and training on a specific enemy a type of creature he bears a vengeful grudge against and hunts above all others. Rangers often accept the role of protector, aiding those who live in or travel through the woods. His skills allow him to move quietly and stick to the shadows, especially in natural settings, and he also has special knowledge of certain types of creatures. Finally, an experienced ranger has such a tie to nature that he can actually draw on natural power to cast divine spells, much as a druid does, and like a druid he is often accompanied by animal companions. A ranger's Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that he can cast.

Secondary Class:
Wizards are arcane spellcasters who depend on intensive study to create their magic. To wizards, magic is not a talent but a difficult, rewarding art. When they are prepared for battle, wizards can use their spells to devastating effect. When caught by surprise, they are vulnerable. The wizard's strength is her spells, everything else is secondary. She learns new spells as she experiments and grows in experience, and she can also learn them from other wizards. In addition, over time a wizard learns to manipulate her spells so they go farther, work better, or are improved in some other way. A wizard can call a familiar- a small, magical, animal companion that serves her. With a high Intelligence, wizards are capable of casting very high levels of spells.

Find out What Kind of Dungeons and Dragons Character Would You Be?, courtesy of Easydamus (e-mail)

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Monday, April 15th, 2013
7:23 pm - The Post Work Economy

One complex subject I am concerned about (and hint at in posts, from time to time) is the future of jobs and the economy, when we've sent all the jobs to other places (or hired machines) and thereby deprived a significant portion of the population of a legal, beneficial way to make a living. This is especially troubling when they are urban and poor, and don't own the means of production (as a landed farmer would). As it turns out, one of my favorite bloggers has been chewing on this very same topic, and wrote a series of excellent posts about it. I will link them here for you so that it's easy to read all the posts, or just the ones you're interested in (although they all fit together and all give worthwhile insights). Although reading all of them would take some time (and no one seems to want to invest time reading anything longer than a cat meme on the Internet), I would ask that before you trash the subject, to please at least have read one of the sections. Maybe this means no conversation will ever happen here, but so be it.

The Post-Work Society Is Not a Future State. It Is Here. Right Now.

Part 1. Where the workers are going.
(Disability payments and the people who live on them, and how older displaced workers or those who can't do heavy physical labor and aren't educated don't have many options.)

Part 2. The Other Wards of the State
(Prisons, and the people who are incarcerated because no gainful, legal economic opportunity existed for them.)

Part 3. Corporate Welfare
(People who work for sub-living wages at places like Wal*Mart, whose insanely profitable business model is largely subsidized by the government stepping in for those workers with assistance like SNAP and Medicaid.)

Part 4. A Modest Proposal
(People disappearing from the workforce because they have been out of work so long they don't count anymore. When we are so productive that we don't need all the workers to work in order to live the lifestyle we currently enjoy, what is wrong with providing a stipend for those no longer needed?)

Part 5. But, but, but...
(Conservative objections to the idea of the safety net, including the moral hazard, work providing dignity, redistribution, we can't afford things like Social Security, waste, and resentment from those who do work.)

Part 6. The Alternative
(Regarding the idea that a strong social safety net is actually causing unemployment by encouraging the criminally lazy, the debt problem, and austerity.)

Part 7. Conclusion
(The Guaranteed Income, drug addiction, and how the jobs are not coming back anyway.)

Charts and Graphs
(Pretty pictures for those who like the numbers.)

Some Additional Notes
(Important points that didn't fit anywhere else in the series, but which still merit mention.)

If you bother with these, maybe still give me a shout-out (even if you don't have real commentary) so I know I'm not just typing to hear myself type, 'K? And thanks for your time and consideration.

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Wednesday, February 6th, 2013
6:57 am - Rights & Responsibilities

I believe that every right, privilege or freedom comes with an attendant responsibility. For example, when you get a puppy, the warm furry snuggles, happy puppy kisses and loyal devotion are only one side of the deal. In exchange, you are liable to properly care for that puppy. Your responsibility is to feed, water, pay attention, see the vet, deworm, and generally take physical and emotional care of that pup from the day you bring him home until the day he passes on, or you find a second "forever" home for him. The same thing is true for having kids, having a job, or even using your first amendment right to free speech: for each right, privilege or freedom, there is an attendant responsibility.

In short, I think people who want the rights, privileges, and freedom without also taking up the responsibility related to that freedom are a big problem in the world.

Owning a gun, for example, is a privilege, a right, and a freedom. The attendant responsibility is to not be a total ass with your gun. You need to keep it in a safe place where it won't be stolen, and your kid won't take it to school. You need to teach your kids about safety so they won't accidentally kill each other with it. And you need to know some safety rules yourself, so you won't blow away the neighbor when you are cleaning the gun in your back yard, or in your gun show booth. And if every gun owner were part of (let's say) a well-regulated militia, where they were properly trained on these matters, and made sure that the young people coming up learned the responsibilities as well, you might earn that freedom to bear arms. On the other hand, going to political rallies or to the grocery store armed, just because you want to show off your shiny freedom, does nothing at all to make you look like anything but an ass with a gun.

And if you are one of those people who says it's "not the government's role" to cover charitable expenses like food and medicine for the poor, unemployment assistance, shelter for the homeless, that's one thing. But if you are ALSO the sort of person who believes that the Government, at the same time, has a role to play in enforcing the tenets of your religion, such as having teachers pray the prayers of your religion in a public school, not allowing gay folks to marry, or not allowing women to have reproductive freedom on their terms, then you, my friend, want the privilege of governmental enforcement of your religion, without the attendant responsibilities associated with government enforcement of your religion. You have earned my contempt by being part of the problem.

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Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
7:25 am - Morning thought
We humans seem to feel that what we observe is a perfect picture of the way the universe is.  But we're really only as good as our hardware and software permits us to be: we are limited by our equipment.
If your computer has a webcam, for example, it can input data in a way that computers without webcams cannot.  A computer without a webcam is not able to "perceive" images in that way; it is limited by hardware. Similarly, we are limited by our hardware. Did you know bees can see UV light, using it to guide them from flower to flower? We don't even see what bees can see; we too are limited by our hardware.  We can make equipment that perceives in different ways for us, but we may not even realize yet all the different ways there are to perceive, or all the things that could possibly be perceived.  In this way, we are like computers without webcams, or like the blind men holding only one part of the elephant and who think it's the whole beast.
Similarly, we are limited by our software.  Just like a computer that has a webcam but not the necessary drivers, we may not even understand all that we can perceive.  A computer may have buggy code that makes it run in suboptimal ways; we, too, are prone not only to pathology in our perception (schizophrenia, for example), but even our normal everyday OS may force us to perceive items that just aren't so, but we accept them as real because we're steeped in it.  A colorblind man may not perceive color, but color exists nonetheless.  And when we reach some kind of buggy, broken conclusion, our software fools us into thinking, more often than not, that we must be right about it when we may well be wrong.
Our wonky wiring patched together from mutations, adaptions, and duct tape comprises the cobbled-together equipment we use to perceive and interpret the world around us.  It serves us very well; we've been able to do some amazing stuff with what we have.  But that by no means makes us able to observe in the all-seeing, perfect way that we intuitively believe we can.  At best, we hold part of the elephant, and I am continually awed and humbled by what we must be missing, even as we sweep up more crumbs of knowledge every day.

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Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
10:59 am - Debunking 202: Using Google Image Search

So if you're politically curious like me, and you read Facebook, sooner or later you're going to have friends that post those text graphic boxes that have political content. Very often, this content is upsetting or inflammatory in a way that is designed to get you mad and make you want to respond, change your beliefs, or act out in some way, even if that way is only to share it on your own wall so you can "spread awareness" about the horrible or sad or offensive thing that has just happened! Rawr!

But... how can you tell if it's really true? If you've been on the internet for any length of time, you know there's some serious BS that is spread around with a greater regularity than the manure in your garden, and you don't want to pass on untrue information. That gets people mad for no reason, and makes you look unreliable next time you post something that people really should listen to. What to do?

Behind the cut! More!Collapse )

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Saturday, May 14th, 2011
5:46 pm - Facebooger

Random guy's Facebook post: Wouldn't it be cool if breast implants came with squeaky toys inside!!
laureth: Because men are dogs? ;)

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Thursday, April 14th, 2011
11:28 am - ЖЖ

Sharing from a friend.

LiveJournal's DDoS and Russian Politics

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Monday, January 17th, 2011
9:48 pm
"This is America, where a white Catholic male Republican judge was murdered on his way to greet a Democratic Jewish woman member of Congress, who was his friend. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year old Mexican-American gay college student, and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon, all eulogized by our African American President." Mark Shields, PBS

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Friday, November 26th, 2010
5:49 pm - Perspective

Seen on Facebook: The Headline read: "Teens Reach Dry Land After 50 Days Adrift At Sea" It should have read: "God Sent a Boat Out It's Normal Path, To Save Three Teens Who Were Adrift 50 Days At Sea"

I might rephrase it: ...It should have read: "God sends three teenagers adrift in a dinghy for 50 days with almost no food, lazy tuna boat on a shortcut home finds them just in time."

The story is here.

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Monday, October 11th, 2010
12:10 am - The first sacred thing.

The New Oil: Should private companies control our most precious natural resource?

From the article: Proponents of privatization say markets are the best way to solve that problem: only the invisible hand can bring supply and demand into harmony, and only market pricing will drive water use down enough to make a dent in water scarcity.

Translation: The best way to ration water in a water-scarce future is by pricing out those too poor to pay for it.

What could go wrong?

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Saturday, October 9th, 2010
2:36 pm - It rubs the sea salt on its skin...

...Or else it gets epidural'd again.

What is seen cannot be unseen.

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Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
9:07 pm - There's a word for that.

10 Words That Can’t Be Translated To English

I know there are some verbage lovers out there.

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Sunday, July 4th, 2010
9:36 pm - Sad, what the world's coming to.

OMG. It's a sniff film.

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Sunday, April 18th, 2010
3:21 pm - Poor Text

So there I was on the can, reading a paper-and-ink book. On the page I was reading, the author was talking about another book, and the font for the title of the book was in a different color. It looked interesting, so I reached out to click on it.

Yes, folks, my hand actually moved to find the mouse before I caught myself. Good Morning, Laureth.

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Sunday, January 10th, 2010
1:57 pm - Mmm, abstinence.

This is what happens when you get religion mixed up too much in the sex ed program. And people want that to happen here (more than it already does)?

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1:08 am - he knows

When Murstein walked into the kitchen just now, our dog, Digger, didn't bother to get off the couch.

When I walked into the kitchen immediately after, for an equally non-food-related purpose, Digger jumped up and ran after.

Our dog can apparently do a cost/benefit analysis. :)

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Friday, January 1st, 2010
2:55 pm - My dog accepts cookies.

In the last week or so, three ideas converged in my head and crashed together, forming a fourth.

1. I compost my kitchen scraps from Spring to Fall, but in the winter I often fail. There's too much snow on the ground to go out in my slippers and dump them into a bin outside where they won't rot for months anyway, so I throw them away. This waste of perfectly good organic matter bothers my conscience.

2. Over Christmas, I made a couple batches of cookies to take over to the in-laws', including gingerbread people and oatmeal/raisin lumps of buttery goodness. I am pretty familiar with the mechanics of cookie-making.

3. A person I know elsewhere online told me about the "BARF" diet for dogs (Bones And Raw Foods) that is supposedly very healthy for them. She serves her own dogs a modified version of it by saving her veggie peels, meat scraps, leftover pasta and rice, and pureeing it together to freeze into a kind of dogfood mush. She feeds this instead of kibble, and adds meaty bones for their chewing pleasure.

So it occurred to me that if I saved my edible kitchen waste, I could conceivably feed it to the dog by making cookie-like "treats" that are probably far more nutritious for him than the commercial, fat-laden, BHT-filled biscuits we buy at the store. I kept a baggie in the freezer that I filled up for a week with carrot, potato, and parsnip peels, bits of chicken and the juice they thawed in, apple peels, and stuff.

Yesterday I took all this stuff and puréed it in my tiny food processor into a slurry that looked a lot like puke. ("Barf," indeed!) I added a few eggs (including the shells, pureéd into almost-powder for calcium), some oatmeal to soak up the watery runoff, some malt flour I had laying around because I didn't like the way it acted in breadmaking, a little oil, and made it into a kind of batter/dough. I greased a couple cookie sheets and laid out spoonfuls of the stuff just as if I were making oatmeal cookies. It made exactly two dozen, which is better than any recipe I've ever made that was supposed to make two dozen, considering the random nature of my ingredients. They baked in the oven (checking for doneness occasionally) for about 25 minutes.

Here's where I learned from my mistakes. First, they stuck miserably to the cookie sheets and then to the wire cooling racks, because they had too great of a moisture content. (Cookies don't usually have much of that; their viscosity is generally due to butter or shortening in the dough.) They were very soft and crumbly, again due to moisture and to the sugar-free nature of the batter (and sugar is what melts and reforms in cookies to make them delicately crunchy). The dog-cookies had more of a muffiny texture.

Taste test? OMG Digger loves 'em! That might be the fastest thing I'd ever seen him snarf down, with the exception of freshly grilled steak. I think he was utterly enchanted seeing me go through the process of baking some "people food" from dog's-eye level, only to have it be for him! I kept the rest of the "cookies" in a bag in the 'fridge, but now I'm looking to refine the recipe into something that doesn't suck as much for the chef.

I could dry out the veggie and meat scraps in the oven before chopping them up. This would reduce the moisture content, but adds another (energy-intensive) step. Since part of my motivation was to avoid waste, this seems somehow incongruent with my goal. I could add a lot more flour and oil and sugar, but Digger doesn't need to be eating that stuff, and I want them to be "nutritious" junk food for him. I could avoid baking it into biscuit form, but it's hard to throw him a chunk of frozen mash and think of it as convenient and fun. So, I don't know. My food science knowledge is failing me here.

More experiments to come. I'm sure Digger doesn't mind being the test panel, though!

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Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
9:00 pm - And?

When will people take the "and" out? Like "two thousand and nine," "two thousand and twelve." No one said "Nineteen hundred and eighty four" or "nineteen and ninety two." How 'bout just "two thousand ten" or just "ten" - like I graduated in '90?

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