Archive for December, 2010

Be Well

December 28, 2010 - 6:32 pm Comments Off on Be Well

A) I am packing and otherwise preparing to go visit my mother for a few days,
B) I am way too distracted playing with the media player Stingray got me when I asked for something bigger and smarter than the pack-of-gum MP3 player that’s been carried around in my breast pocket for ages, but has a lot of limits. This thing has less limits. It may well be smarter than I am.

Amuse yourselves, we will return to you once the new year has rung and settled in.


December 27, 2010 - 5:05 pm Comments Off on Tideover

We are around and about, though the bit where Stingray will be off work for a week yet and we are preparing to hit the road to see my family in Arizona means the general sensation about the place is that the holidays have not ended yet, and we are in a combination of preparation and goof-off mode. I wanted to get back to blogging by today, but my muse sent me a postcard from St. Tropez.

So here’s a link to my Thing of Interest for today, an old speech by Terry Pratchett dating from 1985 on the subject of the consensus fantasy world, magic, and gender. Which is actually a very poor summation and if you want to find out what it’s actually about, I suggest you read it.

It’s of extra special interest to Discworld fans because the speech was given between the publications of Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic; as most fans of the series admit, it started out as not much better than decent satire of bad fantasy and only became worth the fanaticism later on down the line when it turned from simple parody to deeply interesting fiction in and of themselves. Still based on social satire, yes, but in a much deeper and more philosophical manner than just an incompetent wizard who goes about the fantasy landscape hanging lampshades on things. What makes this speech particularly interesting isn’t just what he said then, but the themes and ideas he went on to elaborate on in much greater and richer detail decades down the line…

Happy Multifarious Holiday

December 24, 2010 - 2:48 pm Comments Off on Happy Multifarious Holiday

We’ll be exchanging Saturnalia gifts, admiring the Yule tree, having a nice solstice feast and probably also there will be Christmas music.

Be happy and well.

Things I Just Don't Understand

December 23, 2010 - 6:52 pm Comments Off on Things I Just Don't Understand

Y’all understand that, broadly speaking, I am a fan of marriage. I am so much a fan I think it should be available to anyone who wants to sign up for the long-haul hard work, since if I were to speak of “benefiting the institution of marriage” (something I have already argued is nonsensical anyway), the best way I could think of would be to extend it to as many people who really value it as possible. They can’t possibly fuck up any worse than the rest of us.

This is not, however, a post about gay marriage (or for that matter polyamorous marriage). It’s a post about a certain strain of comment I see when reading posts about marriage in general and its little corner of the culture-war minefield, the person who thinks that not only has the sexual revolution eroded marriage as an institution, but that we should be actively socially engineering to make sure that divorce, single parenthood, and other non-marriage options are as difficult and painful as possible so more people stay married. The idea that it’s actively bad that we don’t ostracize people who divorce or are otherwise noncompliant.

Fucking really?? I get the general idea that kids, for example, are better off broadly speaking with two parents*, but that doesn’t mean that every single kid would be better off with the two people who contributed each half of his chromosome set under the same roof, or necessarily even one of them. Boys in particular are better off with a father: okay, I get that too- but an individual At Risk Boy isn’t necessarily going to be any better off if he has his dad living with him. If the behavior his father is modeling for him is not well-adjusted manhood but abuse, contempt for others, and criminality, that would make his situation and his likelihood of eventually following the same socially destructive path worse, not better. Likewise, yes, some people get feckless divorces because they’ve reached some age where they imagined they’d automatically be awesome and the reality doesn’t match and they don’t want to put in effort- but lots of people get divorces because they made a catastrophically poor choice while young, because they do nothing but fight all the damn time and everyone is depressed and miserable and angry, because their spouse turned out to be a sociopath or a parasite, or because their spouse is actually dangerous and they need to flee before someone dies or is crippled.

If we do everything we can to coerce people to stay together, someone, somewhere might theoretically react to it by becoming a better person, putting serious work into their relationship and saving their family as a happy, healthy unit, but the odds are pretty fucking dismal on that compared to the likelihood that they’ll be spiteful, passive-aggressive, resentful, and unfaithful. Have any of these people ever seen- or worse yet, been a child within- a marriage where the two spouses are hell bent for leather not to give in and divorce- but are emotionally abusive, miserable and making everyone else around them miserable, and generally spending out all that time inflicting as much pain on each other as humanly possible? Is this really the preferable alternative to divorce just because “it’s a family and the family is the building block of society”? Family may be the building block of society, but it can also be another word for “hell”, as well as a place where children learn all the wrong things about how adults treat loved ones.

The other thing I don’t understand is why such people generally speak of marriage as though it were invented in 1950 and the Donna Reed show were an accurate mirror of the Institution of Marriage, as it has always been across the planet until the sexual revolution came along. Marriage has taken multiple different forms across the planet, with the only common feature being that it’s where reproduction mostly takes place- but not even exclusively, it’s just where children who are legally acknowledged to be the parents’ legal heir happen. By far the most *common* model of marriage in history and across the world is an economic and civil arrangement that guarantees the smooth transfer of resources, property, and family status across the generations; the people involved in the marriage are not required to even like each other, let alone love each other. That’s one of Rousseau’s wacky inventions, it just happened to be the one that actually caught on in Western countries. In such a model of marriage, depending on the culture, either both spouses or just the men are flat out *expected* to be getting emotional and sexual satisfaction elsewhere.

If we were to use legal and social pressure to force people to get and stay married as was once done, what we’re likely to get is more likely to resemble that- the true “traditional” marriage- than it is a nation of happily married people in loving and responsible relationships. We’re also likely to get the other thing such societies had- a steady and outcast supply of bastards. I suppose it’s much easier to count a society in which “everyone is in a building block” as a greater success if the people who aren’t- the bastards and their mothers, as both the bastards’ fathers and the cuckolds raising children not their own are invisible- aren’t counted at all.

I honestly can’t tell if the people advocating for such think this is worth the price in order to have more cosmetically acceptable families, think that social pressure will succeed in this case where it has failed in basically all other forms of sexual correctness as well as substance abuse and a host of other vices, or just really want a spouse who can’t leave them without enormous cost to themselves.

*I actually suspect a more truthful version of this statement is “children are best off raised by two well-adjusted people who thought marriage and parenthood through and have good relationship skills in general”.


December 22, 2010 - 8:24 pm Comments Off on Demographic

I realize these posts are of interest to a relatively narrow slice of our readership, but the subject sure as hell is interesting to me, and I’ve been stuck running around all day and this is the most interesting thing I’ve found, so there you go.

I’ve found a fascinating group blog linked to an ongoing longitudinal research project by a group of social psychologists studying the social dynamics of online MMOs using World of Warcraft, which directly addresses a lot of the questions and curiosities I’ve had about the demographics of the game and why people play the way they do, particularly the choices they make in character and activity. With twelve million players in that game alone and growing, social patterns become more and more interesting to me.

To make the post somewhat more comprehensible to non-gamers, a brief lexicon. Some of these are local terms to WoW, but most of them represent concepts common to most MMORPGs even if the local terminology varies.

DPS = damage dealer/damage dealing. The term itself stands for “damage per second”, the metric by which players in that role are measured, but has come to stand in for the role itself, at least in WoW.

Tank = Damage soaker. Players filling this role have to get and keep the attention of the monsters and absorb, avoid, or mitigate the force of attack. Usually a heavily armored melee class, though some games have some other tank models based more around total avoidance.

Healer = Exactly what it says on the tin. These players make health bars full or stop them from going down in the first place.

Melee = DPS that does their job at close range, the alternative being ranged DPS.

Guild = alliance of player characters sharing a common chat channel, resource bank, and calendar. Various forms of these are found in nearly all such games, be they guilds, linkshells, corps, or other. Often also have a Ventrilo or Mumble server/channel for voice communication.

Main = the character an individual player considers their first priority and plays the most. Nowadays in most games leveling is fun and easy enough more players have more than one character than don’t.

Alt = any character “alternative” to a player’s main. Varies from other characters played for the sheer fun of it to banking or crafting mules.

Mob = hostile non-player character or monster. The mob is what you’re aiming to kill. Term dates back to DikuMUD, where it was short for “mobile”.

Dungeon = instanced (each instance a group enters is temporarily its own world rather than part of the shared overworld) encounters involving small groups of players clearing mobs and taking down bosses. The most basic unit of group play.

Raid = group of players ranging from 10, 25, 40 people gathered together to defeat game content tuned to be impossible without everyone knowing their job and a high degree of coordination. Other than PvP and just generally having someone to talk to, the main reason guilds are formed.

PvP = Player versus Player. Activities organized around fighting other players, whether in complicated ruled games or straight one on one gladiatorial matches. As distinguished from PvE, Player versus Environment, which raids and dungeons are.

The upshot of the current PlayOn study is that, rather than taking data strictly mined from the characters actually in the game- which is pretty easy to do if you have some search engine skill, and in the original study was accomplished with census bots- it connects individual players with a large amount of real-world data on age, gender, country, and personality survey with their characters and tracks them that way. There are several different types of findings presented, though there’s on the whole more posts about gender differences than age or region differences… though there are evidently some fairly significant gender differences between regions. Since, like I said above, I have limited time tonight, this will be more a scattershot selection and commentary on some of the more interesting findings than a serious analysis.

Average age: Thirty years old. Not surprising, and probably fits in with my theory about the generation that were children when home video game consoles became widely available is also the generation playing the most games now. What’s a little more interesting is that the Hong Kong and Taiwan cohort is dragging that average age down some- they’re significantly younger on average than the Americans. They also log a lot more hours.

Gender demographics: Roughly a quarter of WoW players are women, though I’ve seen higher figures. Seems to be trending upward more over time, though male players are the very solid majority and their gamer culture tends to reflect that. I’ve also seen, at least in my experience, that female players tend to form alliances and centers of density on servers- some guilds are either all-female, majority female, or at the least have a much higher proportion than represented in the game demographics over all, whereas being “the girl” in other guilds is inherently cause for drama. Lot of self-selecting assortment going on here, I suspect.

Gender bending: Of players using characters opposite their actual gender, they are almost all men, and they are mostly the older men, which is interesting to me. The big majority of male players has the most to do with that “almost all men” thing, but by proportion they’re still three to four times more likely to roll a female character than women are to roll a male character. The biggest going theory is the “nice butt” one- to paraphrase, men are the more likely to decide that if they’re going to be chasing around an animated backside for awhile, it might as well be hers rather than his. I suppose the “older” thing is probably due to older men being more secure in their masculinity than younger ones and therefore less likely to feel they necessarily need to be represented by a bristling slab of beef.

The in-game stereotype is that all female characters are men. (And, in fact, that all players are, though that’s mostly running gag by now.) Apparently by the numbers, if you meet a female avatar, she’s 55% likely to be played by a man.

I’m more interested in why so many fewer women choose to play male characters. Do women identify more with their characters than men do? Do they just have an aversion to not being a “pretty” character? They find the male models just flat uglier to look at in general?

Player role: The in-game stereotype is this: men tank, women heal. There are fewer stereotypes for what the DPS do, but when the game zeitgeist as a whole admits that women play, it generally assumes that the actual chick is the priest back there in the robes healing the group.

What it turns out the data actually breaks down to is this: men tank (three to four times more often than women do), men and women heal, men play melee DPS, and women play ranged DPS. There’s a significant regional difference, though- if you’re in Hong Kong or Taiwan, the stereotype IS true and by proportion rather than raw numbers, more women heal than men. If you’re in America, healing is an equal-opportunity role and men and women choose to do it just as often. American men like to melee more than Hong Kong and Taiwanese men, and American women like to tank more than Hong Kong and Taiwanese women (though it’s a tiny proportion of both groups of women overall). More American women like to melee than the Pacific women, to the point where American female melee outnumber American female healers, but Hong Kong and Taiwanese women have a huge majority of healers over melee. In both regions, female players overall would really prefer to be standing in back slinging pain over anything else. The stereotype shouldn’t be “the priest, that’s the chick”, but “the hunter, that’s the chick”, apparently.

I suspect a combination of gender role and the kinds of fantasy role models men, women, boys, and girls are given has the most to do with this. I’m not intimately familiar with Hong Kong and Taiwanese gender dynamics, but my overall impression is that gender roles are a fair bit more rigid there than they are in the US; women heal more there because it’s by far the closest offered role to what a woman is supposed to fill out in fantasy that doesn’t threaten any traditional notions of gender role. It’s also possible I’ve just gotten southeast Asian gamer culture horrendously wrong and it’s actually because healing is a prestigious role that offers the most obvious path for achievement for female gamers- the Hong Kong and Taiwanese gamers are also much more achievement-oriented than the Americans.

As a general rule in an RPG or traditional high fantasy story or movie, if you have a woman in the party- and you usually do- she’s one of two things; either the nurturing cleric, or the roguish and faintly wicked sorceress, with an occasional option for ranger. (There is an obligatory scene where she takes off her hood and you realize it’s not a skinny guy.) The character in the heavy plate charging in not caring if they get hit and relishing in being in the middle of the things is nearly always male, and if it’s a female character taking a role vengeful or psycho enough to be in-your-face, it’s usually as a more roguelike character than a warriorlike one.

I can’t say I’m surprised that most women overall, given a choice between the standard two “womens'” roles in fantasy fiction, go for the damage dealer over the cleric. It was usually a choice between a nauseating passive-aggressive martyr and her much more fun counterpart…

PvP: The only finding released so far is for arena battles, which are matches between teams of 2, 3, or 5 players. Last team with a member still standing wins. It’s the most intensely competitive environment for PvP. By age, younger players are far more likely to have tried arenas, but age made no difference in whether or not players chose to stick with it. Lots more men play arenas regularly than women, but American women are more likely to be regular arena players than Hong Kong or Taiwanese women. BUT… by win ratio, American men win significantly more often than American women- while Hong Kong and Taiwanese women win no more or less often than their male counterparts. So the women I just painted as potentially being gender-conforming delicate butterflies above, are gonna kill ya. That might be the effect of the greater achievement drive in the Hong Kong and Taiwanese players I mentioned earlier- a greater ethos of “if you’re going to play, play to win.”

I will be very interested to see what further findings come out of this project, and one or two of you readers may even be too.

Situation Normal, All Clueless

December 21, 2010 - 6:06 pm Comments Off on Situation Normal, All Clueless

Commenter Geodykt left a long but well worth it response to my last post, fleshing out the history of medicine, its practices, and the reason that bloodletting seemed like such a good idea beyond “variable reinforcement”, as well as pointing out one other common ailment that bloodletting would probably have given a positive immediate result for, if not a real treatment as we’d understand it- chronic hypertension.

One of the things he touches on that I wanted to expand upon is the idea that for a very long time in medicine and still to a frightening degree today, one of those gaps in medical knowledge that no one really thought about or thinks about much now is our idea of what “normal” is. One of the reasons he cites for why bloodletting seemed so harmless is that, for a long time, no one really knew how much blood an adult human is toting around- and believed it to be around twice as much as we actually do. Medicine focuses on pathology, not normality; almost all studies and research, then and now, focuses on what a human that is unhealthy in some way looks like. We also have an extreme distaste for cutting into the dead to examine them; medicine and anatomical study was the only justification, no culture that I’m aware of has ever treated autopsy with more affection than distaste, and the idea of dissecting the dead just so medical students can learn from them has always sat a little uneasily even if the doctors have mostly won that argument these days. It is much better now than it was then- for a long time, medical schools and pathologists had three sources of corpses: criminals, those too poor to pay for funeral arrangements, and those who died for unknown reasons that cry out for answers*.

One modern way in which this focus on the pathological plays out is studies linking particular genes to particular pathologies; I intend to go into this much more in a later post, but the relevant point to this one is that we much more often start from a point of pathology or undesirability- heart disease, particular types of cancers, criminal behavior- and try to find genes that lots of people who exhibit that pathology have, rather than asking how many people have that gene and are entirely unremarkable and normal. In my perfect world, the Human Genome Project’s purpose would be to sequence as many genomes as possible so that a complete picture of what “normal” can look like, much as the bone collections of physical anthropologists strove to do before people started to think that body-snatching was wrong even if it was from some foreign culture we didn’t think much of.

One particularly sad consequence of the lack of knowledge of what “normal” really looks like involved our spending a really alarming number of decades irradiating childrens’ throats, which led to just about as much thyroid cancer down the road as you imagined. It began with the corpses of the poor in medical schools.

At the close of the nineteenth century, a thing that was worrying doctors was the growing recognition of healthy infants simply up and dying as possibly having had some cause other than a dastardly parent smothering the child. We call it Sudden Infant Death Syndrome now and we still have no good ideas about what does it other than a vague idea we shouldn’t let infants sleep on their stomachs, but at the time pathologists were busily looking for a cause. They managed to find a difference between the tissues of the infant corpses they had who had died of SIDS, and those that had died and wound up in their autopsy bay for other reasons: the SIDS babies had significantly larger thymus glands, a structure in the neck that was at the time very poorly understood. The theory was: these infants with enlarged thymus glands stopped breathing in their sleep because that bloated thymus gland was compromising their airway. A new disease was born: status thymicolymphaticus. The treatment: shrink that thymus! The method: surgery at first, but it is really very difficult to cut down or remove a thymus gland in an infant; when “roentgen therapy” (irradiation) came on the scene, it was a godsend to children with status thymicolymphaticus, as the thymus could be shrunk with radiation. Much better than surgery.

We know several things now that we didn’t know then. One of those things is that the thymus is part of the lymphatic system, that its function is mostly to produce T cells, and that it’s normal for the thymus to be most active- and largest- in children, the younger the bigger. Newborn infants- the ones most vulnerable to SIDS- have the largest thymus relative to their body size of all, because it’s busy establishing their immune systems. We also have had Hans Selye‘s work and all that followed since then, which established that stress produces real and lasting physiological changes beyond just making us jittery and unhappy. One of those changes is that chronic stress shrinks lymphatic tissues- like the thymus gland.

The SIDS infants in the pathology bays were there specifically because they had died and no one knew why; they were a representative cross-section of infantkind, if anything biased toward infants from wealthier families because their deaths were more likely to be impossible to attribute to any other cause. The other infants were almost all from poor families who had died of the lethalities of poverty at the time- tuberculosis, chronic diarrheal diseases, malnutrition. In short, they had probably been born into stress and had most certainly died after a long period of stress that had the physiological toll that stress does and atrophied their lymphatic tissues before they died. The SIDS babies were possibly the only babies with normal thymuses the pathologists had seen.

“Status thymicolymphaticus” took its toll until the mid-thirties, when the last spate of genteel fighting in the medical journals settled down to the general consensus that it probably couldn’t be what was causing SIDS, though the concept of children having enlarged thymuses rather than normal ones lingered on for awhile longer. The last scholarly paper citing it as a real condition I could find through Google was dated 1959, and discussed the beginning of the fallout of thyroid cancers in individuals who had had their throats irradiated as children to treat it. There was no dramatic fanfare that medical science had done something horrible to children out of simple ignorance due to that lack of a “normal” baseline; it simply was concluded to be an outdated theory and then later concluded that it had probably had bad effects later on.

It won’t be the last time, either; simply due to the nature of medicine as a science, such things are probably inevitable. I don’t know what the next one will be, either, but I will say I am very curious to see in about thirty years what medicine thinks of encouraging people to eat as little fat as possible.

*And stolen corpses, of course, but these were again almost always the bodies of the poor.


December 20, 2010 - 4:58 pm Comments Off on Siege

So, as I have been reminded in the comments, awhile back I made a note to myself to go over a bit one of those strange quirks of a pre-scientific age of medicine, bloodletting.

“Science” as we understand it now didn’t really exist until relatively recently as an organized systematic pursuit; for the bulk of human history, the closest thing as we’d understand was essentially the occupation of bright rich people with lots of time on their hands and a penchant for writing things down. Anybody who was educated was educated in multiple disciplines in multiple languages, and the net result of human progress was those bits of trial, error, vanity, and sheer initiative that got written down and proved to work, in whatever rough and ready fashion, for whatever reasons. Sometimes, when everybody was very fortunate, there was math mapping out why it worked.

Biology in general is not highly susceptible to math, and as such the history of the life sciences, especially medicine, is particularly colorful. The bulk of human energy in discovery tends to be in fields that yield the greatest relevance, and while the lives of barnacles may be of intense interest to people with a Darwinian sort of temperament, the health of human beings and the wide and splendid variety of ways they can become unhealthy has always attracted far more attention. Since human bodies can both break in uncountable ways and also in many ways repair themselves, medicine has always had a very high proportion of trial and error in it, and to a large extent (*coughnutritioncough*) still does.

While there are many bizarre ideas and theories littering history that purported to explain disease, treat it, or promote health, perhaps none is quite as iconic as the long-lived and bizarrely counterintuitive practice of bloodletting. If you have an ill patient languishing about, it strikes no one as a good idea to let off a couple pints of his oxygen-and-nutrient carrying life’s fluid. Unless, perhaps, you’re a medieval physician and trying something seems as good an idea as trying nothing, and in any case it’s passed around in what goes for medical literature of the time.

For good reason: in just enough of cases as to encourage*, especially when the likeliest outcome anyway is “patient either dies or gets better in spite of the doctor”, it very probably did work.

The reason for this lies in bacterial infections, and the nature of what it takes for a bacteria to successfully invade and perpetuate themselves in a human host. While a flawed analogy in many ways, an infection is much like a war; in order for the invading side to be able to get anywhere, they need enough resources to mount the initial attack, establish positions to defend, and continue to press the assault while keeping those positions secure and continuing to fuel the whole operation.

This basic reality underlies a great deal of what the immune system does when it senses invasion; one of the reasons a great many very different pathogens share a basic common symptom set (fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, aches and pains) is because they aren’t things the pathogen itself is doing, they’re things a mammal’s immune system always does in response to any infection- the fever and pains of the flu aren’t the flu virus’s doing, all the virus wants is to shed into whatever fluid the primary vector of that particular flu is going to be. They’re the fault of interleukin-1.

What this essentially does is shift the body from day-to-day productive mode into a siege mode; it saps your energy and makes everything hurt to discourage you from moving around consuming precious resources, and zaps your appetite to remove motivation to get up and do it anyway. It raises your temperature because, even if it’s not an optimal temperature for you, it’s even less optimal for the invaders; there’s a relatively narrow range of temperatures that enzymes work well at, but human tissues are better equipped to cope with working slowly at sub-optimal temperatures than pathogens are at rapidly reproducing (which they must to sustain the infection) at those same too-high temperatures**.

One of the other things the immune system does in response to any infection that we don’t notice as much as the aches and the fever is give us an artificial case of anemia. The immune system throttles the production of new red blood cells way back, monkeywrenches normal cellular iron metabolism, and specialized cells hoard the iron from defunct red blood cells away. This can cause serious problems on its own for someone with a particularly intractable long-term infection (or some cancers), but in the short term it’s another siege-mode action against invasion: the invaders need the iron for active reproduction more than the body needs it to idle along, for roughly the same reasons that a soldier going about maintaining a siege line and making assaults needs more food than a civilian hiding in a basement does. Better to be a bit thin-blooded when you’re feeling too punk to be doing much anyway than that the invaders have that resource available to them.

This is why bloodletting probably DID work from time to time; if you have a blazing infection in which the responsible pathogens are very active and have a huge force of hard-working, fast-reproducing agents, a big sudden case of critical anemia is a big hit to their supply line. It might be enough of a body blow to give the advantage to the host’s ability to weather states of deprivation longer than they could… or, of course, it might weaken the patient enough to kill them outright, as it likely did to George Washington. Leeches were even better, because they could be applied to a specific site of infection in the case of a bacterially compromised wound (not that the people doing it had any idea that’s what it was), and could also be used in a far more calculated and measured way than simply whacking a big hole in a vein and bleeding the patient until it seemed like “enough”.

Of course, the practicioners of bloodletting had not the slightest clue that there was a specific and limited case in which their practice could possibly have any productive result, and thought instead that an excess of blood was actively bad for the patient; in addition to the infections in which the practice may have had some chance of helping as much as it hurt, it was also done for arthritis, rheumatism, headaches, melancholy, and pretty much anything else not defined as a state of ideal health- or even as a health-promoting measure. It deserves its reputation as a senselessly harmful practice that was nonetheless widely believed for centuries to be beneficial… it just may have been encouraged along from rare time to time by an actual success, for an actual reason.

*Variable reinforcement again, much more problematic this time.

**Unless it’s getting so high as to actively endanger you, let the fever burn if you’re sick. You’ll be uncomfortable but you’ll also be better much faster.

Back Online

December 17, 2010 - 4:13 pm Comments Off on Back Online

Whatever bug I had actually only lasted about two days, but around the time my appetite was coming back some idiot managed to cut a phone line, which given we use DSL and the house is in a dead zone for cell phones is effectively the same thing as cutting us off from the world at large. Naturally, this happened on the same day as a snowstorm that ultimately dumped about six inches on us, so repairs were slow and the measures currently in place are temporary.

The dogs are thrilled. As for us, we caught up on a lot of reading and a fair chunk of progress through our stack of neglected non-online games. Can’t say we got anything productive done aside from keeping the firewood supply healthy and each other amused, but my Mario Kart skills have improved significantly.


December 14, 2010 - 5:31 pm Comments Off on Blargh

I dunno what the hell is wrong with me, other than that it’s making me just sick enough to be pretty much useless (and have some *amazing* fever dreams) and not sick enough to be satisfied with staying in bed all day without getting bored and whiny.

Content will be light.


December 13, 2010 - 5:03 pm Comments Off on Juxtaposed

My keyboard has an LCD screen in it that can take an RSS feed. I leave it pointed at some default news tap just to have something more interesting than how much RAM I’m using or whatnot.

This morning, it scrolled the headline “Cables show Iran ‘vulnerable’.”

This afternoon, it scrolled the headline “Iran’s president abruptly fires foreign minister.”

I larfed and larfed.