Hugo Your Way, I’ll Go My Way

April 25, 2014 - 5:57 pm
Irradiated by LabRat

So I’ve mostly driven quickly past the various kerfluffles and infighting in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy community because a) I don’t have a dog in the fight, I haven’t read most of the work of the authors involved and those that I AM fans of are often on opposite sides, and b) The idea that I should give a shit about the politics of authors whose writing I like both makes me deeply exhausted and deeply paranoid that I will quickly have nothing left to read that I like. I have John Scalzi and Larry Correia both linked in my blogroll because I really like both of their writing to the point I’ll buy almost anything either writes, and I often enjoy their pontifications, not because I’m particularly on board with either of their politics. (Although depending on the subject du jour, I often am with one, the other, or in twisted ways both at the same time.)

But sometimes it bleeds into my virtual life from all directions, and thus I became unwillingly aware of this post from Larry when it was linked from two separate places I read avidly at the same time.

Let me make one thing crystal clear: I like Larry, though I’ve never met him, and I really, REALLY like Larry’s books. The only things of his I haven’t read are the Dead Six novels, because it’s really not my genre, and the stuff set in the Warmachine universe, because my time to read these days is far more limited than I’d like and trimming out stuff set in universes I’m not remotely familiar with that aren’t original to the author is one way to keep it manageable. (You should see my backlog anyway.) If he wins a Hugo I’ll think he deserved it. I bounce on my toes in anticipation whenever something new in the Monster Hunter or Grimnoir series comes out. Suffice to say I’m a fan, which I can’t say for most of the authors he’s in a furball with.

Larry’s pissed of a lot of the right people, who have mostly reacted to him for the wrong reasons with completely unjustified venom. I often agree with some of the favored causes of the Social Justice folks, but I disagree heavily with what often seem to be their tactics of exaggeration and vilification. I think the best way to handle speech I think is wrongheaded is civil discussion, based at least at first on the premise that the other person has their own premises that might be as well-thought-through as mine are. (Often this proves not to be true, but still, it satisfies my own moral standards to start from that assumption.) Tarring people with shit they did not say and positions they do not hold is wrong. This, notably, does NOT mean I am always willing to give a fair hearing to everyone with every single opinion- when those premises are clearly spelled out as not just wrongheaded but morally repugnant, I’m willing to write that person off as an irredeemable fuckhead without a second thought.

Vox Day is, in my opinion, one such fuckhead, and it must be here that Larry and I part company. Larry:

The reason Vox is so hated is that he is the only person ever kicked out of SFWA. He makes me look cuddly and diplomatic. He was expelled from SFWA because the powers that be decided he was a racist, in fact, it was so obvious that he was racist that it only took a thirty page thesis explaining how stuff he said was actually racist, including the leadership of SFWA searching through the vile cesspool that is Stormfront until they found some nazi skin head who used similar words, and then holding him accountable for things that posters said in his blog comments (us right wing bloggers don’t believe in censorship so we don’t “manage” or “massage” our comments like they do) then they kicked him out for misusing their Twitter account.

Basically, he called Nora Jesmin an “ignorant half-savage” and that pissed everybody off. See, Nora, is a beloved libprog activist and Social Justice Warrior, and all the reports of her victimization at the hands of the villainous Vox usually leave out the parts where she’d been hurling personal insults at him for years. Myself? I thought that comment might be a bit over the line, but then again, Google search my name and see what the SJW’s have been calling me for the last few days. It is way worse that ignorant or savage, and I think I’m darker skinned than K. Tempest Bradford. I’ve yet to see any SJWs condemning those comments about me. Tolerance is a one way street with them.

“Ignorant half-savage” is not quite what he said. Granted it took some digging to extract the actual original quote and context, because people mostly did not link to it. I’m only half doing so myself, not because I want to spare people from his badthink, but because I want to deal with his horde of Morlocks about as much as I want to deal with a termite infestation. So here it is: A Black Female Fantasist Calls For Reconciliation. A much lengthier quote of what he said BEFORE and immediately after “ignorant half-savage”, because I do believe in linking to the source and providing context:

I therefore suggest that their assertions should be taken with at least a small grain of salt rather than credited to me. And it should be obvious that, being a libertarian, I am not actively attempting to take away anyone’s “most basic rights”. Jemisin has it wrong; it is not that I, and others, do not view her as human, (although genetic science presently suggests that we are not equally homo sapiens sapiens), it is that we simply do not view her as being fully civilized for the obvious historical reason that she is not.

She is lying about the laws in Texas and Florida too. The laws are not there to let whites ” just shoot people like me, without consequence, as long as they feel threatened by my presence”, those self-defense laws have been put in place to let whites defend their lives and their property from people, like her, who are half-savages engaged in attacking them.

Jemisin’s disregard for the truth is no different than the average Chicago gangbanger’s disregard for the traditional Western code of civilized conduct. She could, if she wished, claim that privileged white males are responsible for the decline of Detroit, for the declining sales of science fiction, even for the economic and cultural decline of the United States, but that would not make it true. It would not even make it credible. Anyone who is paying sufficient attention will understand who is genuinely responsible for these problems.

Unlike the white males she excoriates, there is no evidence to be found anywhere on the planet that a society of NK Jemisins is capable of building an advanced civilization, or even successfully maintaining one without significant external support from those white males. If one considers that it took my English and German ancestors more than one thousand years to become fully civilized after their first contact with advanced Greco-Roman civilization, it should be patently obvious that it is illogical to imagine, let alone insist, that Africans have somehow managed to do the same in less than half the time at a greater geographic distance. These things take time.

Being an educated, but ignorant half-savage, with little more understanding of what it took to build a new literature by “a bunch of beardy old middle-class middle-American guys” than an illiterate Igbotu tribesman has of how to build a jet engine, Jemisin clearly does not understand that her dishonest call for “reconciliation” and even more diversity within SF/F is tantamount to a call for its decline into irrelevance. Nor do the back-patting Samuel Johnsons wiping their eyes and congratulating her for her ever-so-touching speech understand that.

If Vox is a misunderstood opinionated religious right-winger who uses some salty old-fashioned language rather than a real racist, I am Princess Anastasia. I realize there is a school of thought that he is actually a very elaborate troll who enjoys riling leftists and doesn’t really think any of this, but I think this is wishful thinking and even if it’s not he’s still SAID all of it, publically stood behind it, and used the SFWA’s bullhorn to do it. He richly deserved his expulsion, as well as most if not all (I would be willing to go with all) of the contempt for him. I could go on for quite a long time providing the original context for the library of stuff he’s said that additionally convinced me of that “irredeemable fuckhead” status, but given this particular incident that got him booted from SFWA is the subject that Larry mentioned, I’ll stick with it for now. If being kicked out of that organization for your politics is a crying injustice and an example of bias against anyone to the left of Dennis Kucinich, absolutely no one is to blame for it more than Vox himself.

The other thing that bothers me is that tit-for-tat isn’t actually a moral stance, which makes the “they didn’t mention the shit she said about him!” a nonargument. I don’t care if she’s the Wicked Witch of Africa, nothing she could have said would have justified what I just quoted in any way. “She was mean to me!” is a playground argument. (So is the Roman Polanski thing, which while a very good burn is also pretty inaccurate- I keep an eyeball on the SJWs as much as I do the Dark Enlightenment people, and I didn’t see a single one defend Polanski rather than calling for his liver to be served with a nice chianti.)

Larry is a good guy I sometimes- not even that often- disagree with. He doesn’t deserve to be associated with Vox, at all. Which is why I’m so disappointed he’s volunteered for it himself.

ETA postscript: Can’t believe I forgot to include this point before I hit post: None of this means that Vox shouldn’t win a Hugo for his novelette. I regard the idea that the Hugo has recently or ever been primarily a meritocracy instead of a back-scratching popularity contest reflecting current politics hilariously naive, but being a raging asshole doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t win an award for your work unrelated to your asshole-related agendas. However, by exactly the same token he doesn’t deserve to be on anyone’s slate because he makes the right people angry.

Loch Lurker

April 18, 2014 - 10:19 pm
Irradiated by LabRat

Dear world,

The Daily Mail and the Loch Ness Monster Fan Club are not credible reporters of whether an aquatic Rorschach blot is a hundred-foot animal. While large animals previously unknown to Western science CAN still be found (though they are generally not remotely unknown by local populations that don’t give a shit about Western science), they are not found in oligotrophic freshwater lakes with frequent surface traffic in the middle of heavily populated-by-Westerners countries. The idea that Loch Ness is inhabited by a breeding population of marine reptiles or similar animals is only somewhat more likely than the idea that New York City is inhabited by pterosaurs.

Civil Oddities

April 16, 2014 - 2:38 pm
Irradiated by LabRat

So recently, I had to spend my morning and early afternoon at a local government office oriented toward the low-income. (We are fine. I was there to get off a roll I was mistakenly placed on.) I was not, to put it mildly, looking forward to the experience, being acquainted with the motor vehicle departments in Phoenix and New Orleans, and even here in our tiny whitebread little burg. I walked in with low expecations.

So to my immense surprise, the waiting room was quiet and pleasant, all the conversation I heard was in articulate, unaccented English (I was the only white face in the room until another walked in near the end of my visit), many of the waiting room inhabitants were chatting pleasantly with one another, the line was moving efficiently, there were zero tantrums or meltdowns, all the employees were polite and seemingly possessed of a genuine desire to help, and though there were small children present, their parents were keeping them quiet, supervised, and amused. Once it was my turn, my task was completed easily and efficiently, with zero surliness on the part of the fellow behind the counter.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to go re-examine a whole bunch of assumptions.

Modern Musings

April 15, 2014 - 2:37 pm
Irradiated by Stingray

What is it about new tires that’s so deeply, primally satisfying? Is that just me?

Game Nerd Breakdown

April 8, 2014 - 2:43 pm
Irradiated by Stingray

Over on the book of faces, Tam posted a kill shot from our last raid night. Naturally, this brought all the nerds a-runnin’, and quickly derailed Tam’s victory pose into a discussion of game mechanics and a more meta discussion on interface design. So basically take this as warning that if you’re not into gaming or whatnot you may as well knock off here.

A commenter correctly observed that there appeared to be a metric shitload of information present on Tam’s display. Various players agreed that yes, in fact there was, and it got a bit conversational about how that information is managed, displayed, and how it scaled from zero to ALL THE THINGS. LabRat did a rundown of her interface, which caught on. I was going to do a rundown of mine, and then my browser crashed and ate about 1300 words worth of explanation, causing me to say many unkind things about many things before sobbing openly and starting over. Since it came out to such a firehose of gamer nerdism, I figured why not share it here.

This is a screenshot from in-combat, annotated badly because I suck at gimp. I’ll try to stay somewhat meta so what I’m looking at and why is more important than the game/class specific mechanic in game-terms. I play a rogue, a melee dps (damage-per-second) class. My entire raison d’etre is to pump out damage on the enemy. I have very limited ability to self-heal, and substantially less damage resistance than a tank (though broadly more than a healer), with a few tools available to mitigate incoming damage if used properly.

No, there are not many like it.

A is my unit frame. Mine is the game default because I don’t rely on it terribly much. Green bar is my health, green text is incoming healing. Fun fact, showing this shot to LabRat, neither of us had any idea where that healing was coming from and I had to look it up (turns out it’s a racial passive skill I’d forgotten I even had). The yellow bar is energy, my primary resource, also tracked by the yellow bar in the central box marked 47. Anything I do in combat consumes energy at various costs per skill, and it regenerates fairly rapidly over time on its own, sometimes aided by chance-based “procs”.

B is my target, a training dummy which is exactly what it sounds like. Also game default because the useful information I’ve replicated in more sensible/useful places and don’t care enough to change it there. The three red dots on its portrait’s right are combo points, more on those shortly.

C and D are cooldowns. These are things I can trigger to increase my damage output for a short time, which are then unavailable for a while. The greyed out C means it has been activated, and the 39.4 is how many seconds until I can use it again. Since D is in color, it’s available to use.

E and F are “Fix this, dumbass” indicators. E is present because in this shot, I have not applied a poison to my weapon, which is a major source of my damage output but only lasts an hour between applications. It can expire in combat, and if it goes unremedied all of a sudden I go from useful to burden. F means that the enemy has not had its armor weakend. There are multiple classes that can do this, including my own, but it needs to be done by *someone* so there’s an indicator up for me if nobody has done it yet.

G, both left and right, is a proc, a chance based event to let me use an attack at a reduced (free in this case) cost. The big ( ) slashes are the game default indicator, the stabby box is my redundant indicator because it’s a short window to take advantage of the proc and I really need to get on that.

H is whether or not my interrupt ability is available. This can stop an enemy from casting some types of spells, but has a short cooldown on use. It’s short enough I find it more useful to be a binary present/not present icon rather than tracking time till available like on C and D.

I is the list of buffs and debuffs on my character. In a group, this would condense down to a single box with an X applied out of Y available count for buffs available from other party members, but some proc-based ones such as the left-most four would still appear separate. Unmodified since I can’t control the proc-based ones, and they don’t impact what I’m actively doing in combat (other than the Really Big one at G), and the party buffs are dealt with before combat starts, ideally.

J is just my area minimap. Unmodified, but ringed by icons to access the settings for a bunch of the addons I run.

Coming back in to the central box on the screen, this is all of the most vital data I need to run combat. The bar marked Rupture is a timer counting down. This is an class specific ability I need to keep active on the enemy if combat is of any noteworthy duration. The bar marked Slice and Dice is likewise a countdown timer, but instead for a buff I apply to myself that’s a major source of damage output increase. The initial duration of both is determined by how many combo points, the green, yellow, and orange boxes between the timers, I have when I do it.

The combo points are my secondary resource. They’re generated by doing “builder” moves at the cost of energy. Five is the maximum, although there’s a player-choice mechanic to tweak that a little bit just for more complexity/flexibility depending on how you like to play it. These are spent with big burst damage moves called finishers. They don’t necessarily actually finish the boss, but it’s a big whack of damage.

The red bar with 99 then a huge number is enemy health in both percent form and total hit points remaining. I track it redundantly here because after it’s hurt badly enough, I get to use a different move as my combo point builder that increases my damage output. This phase of the fight is called “rush-down,” and happens at different points for different classes. During rush-down phases, bigger enemies tend to change their mechanics to become more dangerous with sort of desperation tactics. Not all classes get rush-down tools, but they’re huge increases to damage output for those that do.

Chat window is in the lower left, and the box marked DPS in the lower right is my e-peen meter. That tracks how much damage everybody in a group is pumping out either for a given fight or overall (it can track other metrics for other classes, too). There’s another meter that comes up when I am in a group fight that shows how much threat I have, i.e. how important the enemy considers me in priority for who to squish. Damage output is a major factor in threat generation, though far from the only one. Tanks get moves specifically designed to generate more threat than my raw damage output, but that isn’t to say I won’t pull threat from a tank if I just unload carelessly. Or intentionally, since it can be fun to annoy tanks if I think I can survive being the monster’s focus for a while.

While this whole thing is unique to me, perhaps the *most* individual aspect are the rows of buttons along the bottom. I use a keyboard with 18 macro buttons off to the left, and a mouse with another 12 aligned in a thumb-grid, and on my main character there, every one of them has a use. Those bars map all sorts of utility skills and spells for faster access than clicking them (which is still available as a redundant access to the tool). The bar with the buttons marked 1 through – are my most combat-critical things, though not sorted by numeric priority but a more organic process as I leveled the character, with a dash of standardization across all my characters (for instance 5 is *always* my interrupt button).

Finally, the bar at the very top of the screen is supplemental information: where I am, how much bag space I have, etc.

And this is what happens when I have nothing better to do in an afternoon than nerd out about warcrack. Which for all that complexity remains…. a game. I don’t think Pong had quite this many tweaks.

Things I Have Learned From Advertising

April 2, 2014 - 10:33 pm
Irradiated by LabRat

….Mission “content, any content”. This is inclusive of TV ads, print, web ads, billboards… whatever.

1. Women cannot poop naturally. Usually the miracle substance that allows them to is yogurt, though it varies. This explains why boys and some men might be under the impression that women don’t poop, but it begs the question of why they’d want to start.

2. There is nothing more sheerly entertaining, or engaging, than salad. Seriously, forget alcohol, what you need is some iceberg and cherry tomatoes and it. is. ON.

3. People who have debilitating illnesses for which they’re willing to take drugs whose list of instructions includes three screens of potential side effects and the phrase “if you suspect your liver may be melting and running out of your anus, stop taking Disolvitol immediately and contact your regular physician” are the most rosy-cheeked, active, social people you have ever seen.

4. There is something intensely erotic about beaches. And, for some reason, beaches in conjunction with horses, or bathtubs, which makes even less sense but must be true.

5. Women and infants secrete a blue substance of unknown origin.

6. Mothers and daughters share heartfelt and extremely detailed information about their bowel movements and menstrual experiences with each other. Generally in the kitchen, over juice. This is awkward for no one. Maybe my relationship with my mother is just shitty.

7. It is normal for women to have skin like polished and airbrushed plastic, and also for their arms to be radically different lengths and/or have extra joints.

8. Doctors and other professionals react with rage, hysteria, and coordinated attempts to silence people who render their services very slightly less necessary.

9. Life is very, very shocking. Seriously, you should wear rubber-soled shoes and carry sedatives.

10. Diamonds are so expensive because they come pre-installed with mind control software.

11. What humanity really wants for Christmas is to be jollied at by history’s most irritating celebrities.

12. Hydration is a very complex and technical challenge for women.

13. Men, meanwhile, are completely baffled and horrified by their own houses and children, and react to them as they would to waking up in an alien landscape, being pursued by five-mouthed chartreuse spiders.

14. When children make messes, it is always a disastrous bomb of violently shaded juice or tomato-sauced product onto an utterly pristine white carpet or uniform, which has clearly come in contact with nothing more staining or abrasive than distilled water. Fortunately, Mom suspected this might someday happen, and is prepared to clean up rather than fall to the floor shrieking in horror. You too, must prepare for such a far-fetched eventuality.

15. If you are awake at three in the morning, your state of despair about your sexuality, attractiveness, food options, body hair, and potence must truly be at the lowest possible level. (Not sure this wasn’t a perfectly on point life lesson, actually.)

15. What people want to know when choosing alcohol is that smirking douchebags would drink it.

16. The sound that excitement makes is a BWWWWWWWWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMP noise reminiscent of the mating calls of hippos.

17. Is it silver, slim, and accented in bright primary colors? It’s either an Apple product or an attacking alien spacecraft.

18. People who are suffering from insomnia really enjoy being sung lullabies by people promoting the sort of chemical help that might let them sleep for up to the next two days.

19. People who are buying health insurance need to be informed that it exists. People who are buying car insurance expect it to be an experience at least on par with a visit to Six Flags.

20. Anti-driving-and-texting campaigns are under the impression that putting their billboard message into incomprehensible text-speak will draw attention and empathy to their cause rather than a further uptick in car accidents among drivers trying to figure out what they mean.

Firehose Pressure Crazy

March 28, 2014 - 1:19 pm
Irradiated by Stingray

Ok, you all know the drill. You have open comments, sooner or later you’re gonna get some Weird Shit(TM) in there. Tam has her ghost in the machine poetry, you get the jist (because I’m too lazy to grab other examples). Back when we were still writing more regularly, we got a doozy. I mean, wow. I’ve had this thing sitting in the pending folder for over a year because every time I go to look at it again, I boggle just as hard as the very first time.

It wasn’t even submitted to a post relevant to the crazy. It was on the one about burning more hot dog buns. I mean, dafuq.

With the original well over a year old at this point, I feel it’s safe to share without attracting the attention of yon batshit loon. I mean if he, she, or it does come back, more free entertainment, right? That said, enjoy one of the biggest blocks of crazy I’ve ever read on the internet.

Just as the gods used WWII to justify an influx of new technologies so will they use the impending pestilence which kills over half the world’s population to justify historical medical advances, including the “cure of aging”, initiating the “1000 years with Jesus on Earth”.
We’ve seen this tactic used recently with AIDS, targetted at homosexuals and blacks in Africa.
Then, as promised, The End will come with fire::::Global tectonic subduction.

Anyone the gods role play telepathically or use for positioning in this Situation extensively have a legacy of hurting others. The more they hurt the more eggregious in history their legacy. Considering they tell me my auidence at any one time is nearly half a billion it is not inconceivable Adolph Hitler was reincarnated into the Situation.
Due to the expansive accumulated audience in this Situation these individuals have now qualified for a legacy of hurting billions of people, and as a result own a very exclusive legacy which will qualify them to be used for the pestilence event which kills half the world’s population:::The monsters of tommarrow.

Don’t forget the lessons the ‘ole white preacher taught:::Dancing is a sin, spare the rod spoil the child.
The gods used the liberal tool to ridicule away so many taboos, paving the way for the decay of society and ultimately the End Times::::::
Black behavior was controlled by the KKK. Men’s behavior was controlled by marriage for thousands of years.
When married by 15 men never gained the taste of promiscuity. Once the gods used the budding liberalism tool the men set the tone for the deteriorating enviornment centered around their gross disfavor.
Women’s relinquishing control of pre-arranged marriage will be what costs mankind everything in The End. It’s all their fault. Men are pigs, essentially just primally responsive disfavored beings who if given the freedom will abuse based on the impulses the god’s push them into. Whereas under pre-arranged marriage this behavior was contained now the promiscuous fraternity house epitomizes the pinnicle of what a “real man” should be like. And sadly the women fall into line.

The gods behave monsterously in the course of managing Planet Earth, matching our decay, but they demand people be good if you are to have a chance to ascend as a child in a future life.
Not only is doing the right things important (praying, attoning for your sins, thinking the right way:::accepting humility, modesty, vulnerability), so is avoiding the wrong things important as well:::”Go and sin no more”.
You NEED active parents who share wisdom to have a real chance to ascend into heaven in a future life, and you MUST be a good parent as well to have that opportunity.

As with so many things in this life “less is more”. Sex is one of those things. They used the liberal age to promote casual “free” sex intentionally::Combined with “women’s lib” and their initiation into the “trenches” of the workplace as well as other issues like alcohol consumption the people experienced a mass masculinization of the females.
The gods use sex as temptation. This is why the most disfavored among us are preoccupied with it. While some may feel being well-endowed is a sign of favor the truth is just the opposite. And often the result is misogyny, a belittling of the favored gender, and stagnation of the people as a whole.
Less is more. When young women experience passing thoughts which say you’re doing something wrong instead of fighting or dismissing the thought you should heed the warning. Sadly in today’s world too many experience prolonged periods of promiscuity in their lives, whereas if married by 15 like throughout human history this disfavor was avoided.
Don’t forget:::It is children who ascend into heaven, and the absence of sexual activity is one reason. Their general innocence is another, which should help you see the destructive nature of adult life in today’s society.

…….The Aristocrats!

I Accidentally A Handegg

March 27, 2014 - 7:52 pm
Irradiated by LabRat

So, one of the things that happened while we were dark is that I somehow, through a process that even I don’t fully understand, became a football fan. Yes, the American one. Yes, NFL. I am as surprised as you, frankly. Though not more surprised than Stingray, who has diligently been searching for the pod ever since.

What happened roughly was this: the last Superbowl was a faceoff between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos. As New Mexico doesn’t have an NFL team, the state’s football fans divide by rough order of geography into Broncos, Cowboys, and Cardinals fans; up here in the north half of the state close to Colorado, it’s mostly Broncos fans. I also, through a series of coincidences, have a fair chunk of friends or teammates who are from or residing in Seattle. Thusly about two thirds of my social circle was REALLY EXCITED about the game, half because Broncos and half because Seahawks. This had never happened before.

At this point I had a couple of options for reaction. A) Ignore everything diligently until the war dance was over. Kind of difficult to do when my teammates were chatting about it while strapping on skates and pads, and my guildmates were while rounding up to go kill internet monsters. B) Make fun of both sides while snarking about handegg. Been there, done that, it had started to feel hollow. C) Try to understand the game and see what the people I liked and respected were so exercised about.

I chose option C, just for the change of pace and to have something to do. Given that I’m a die-hard gamer and can learn and understand pretty much anything if someone has translated to video game format, I started there- given there’s a ludicrously popular franchise devoted to just that. I snagged the mobile version first, which was diverting albeit really quite buggy, and enjoyed it enough that I snagged the (by-now marked down, given the season is over) console copy.

Then I got a really annoying strain of the flu that left me without energy to do much of anything. For three weeks. Every time I stood up too fast or moved further than about ten feet, I’d get dizzy and need a rest break. So I spent a lot of time on the couch, playing the feetballs.

Somewhere through that process I discovered that I actually really enjoyed the game, in and of itself. I think it appeals to the same level of geekery in me that likes derby and games in general (and no matter what anyone tells you, football fans are massive geeks, just about a more socially acceptable interest). I like that there’s a fair bit more strategy involved than I once understood- like chess with intelligent pieces. I also like that it gives me a weird subject of nearly universal small talk with strangers I otherwise have absolutely nothing in common with. (And that people boggle at me when I turn out to be able to converse intelligently on the subject- I guess there’s still an adolescent part of me that loves being something other than what others expect.) And just like any good geek, I love that there’s damn near total saturation of available information about the subject.

So, because that is what you do when you Football, I decided to pick a team to follow. I grew up in Phoenix, which would make the Cardinals the logical default choice, but I remember listening to the car radio a lot during the era when they’d first relocated there from Saint Louis, and I remember what an obnoxious attitude they had when they first turned up- like we were lucky to have an NFL team at all, let alone one that actually acted like they belonged or were happy to be there. (It also irritates me they’re still called the Cardinals, which are found nowhere in AZ. C’mon, the Oilers became the Titans and the (former) Browns became the Ravens…) Cowboys were out. They were rather high-profile dickwads when I was a teenager. Broncos were out because my major impression formed during the Superbowl (the first I had ever watched with more interest in the game than the commercials) was that I harbor irrational hatred for Peyton Manning. Pretty sure it was watching him scream at his teammates while the Denver team actively melted down- that can’t have helped anything. Or maybe it’s his forehead. I don’t like his forehead either.

So now it’s the Detroit Lions. Why? Honestly, it’s because they were the team that really suited the way I found I like to play in Madden (aggressive defense, strong-arm pass-heavy offense), and that’s not really any less logical than geographical proximity or inheriting a team like a family heirloom. (My brother is a Cowboys fan for that reason, which is a perfectly good reason but not one strong enough to erase my memories of strutting cocks in Dallas.) Also because when I went in to research their participation in the National Felon League sub-competition, I found plenty of arrests, but mostly for weed and none for violent crimes. Also my dad was a Red Sox fan, and while I have no investment in the Sox myself, it was a thorough early socialization in the draw of talented underdogs, as well as the bitter joy of constant raised hopes and subsequent heartbreak. Plus I found I really dig watching Ndamukong Suh plant offensive players like tomato stakes.

All of which is essentially a long-winded warning that among this blog’s usual eclectic content will probably appear some football musings, simply because I now have things to say about the sport other than snark. And I’d hate for anybody in what remains of my reading audience to die of shock.

My Turn

March 26, 2014 - 12:40 pm
Irradiated by Stingray

So this is a week late and five bucks short (Inflation! #thanksobama!), but I’ve got a bit of dust to blow off the keys too. Originally I’d planned to do this on a Monday since all 3 people who still check this digital graveyard likely do so at the start of the week and move on, but I figured I’d take the bounce off LabRat posting to see if I could get a few more eyes to:

The Grey Man Vignettes

Everybody’s favorite spooky curmudgeon OldNFO done wrote hisself a book. He was even desperate gullible misguided enough to throw early copies at me to help with the editing process, so I’m getting a bit of vicarious ego off watching it do this well myself.

It’s a good little read. It’s not Clancy technoporn, it’s not Dickens being paid by the word, it’s just a solid character-run series of short, loosely connected glimpses into the lives of some good ol’ boys (the good kind) doing their thing. Worth snagging for a solid couple hours entertainment.

Hello again, world.

March 24, 2014 - 8:29 pm
Irradiated by LabRat

*deep inhalation*

*blows off a thick layer of dust*

I’m not going to explain why I stopped writing for so long, because it’s personal AND boring, but the itch to exercise those muscles is getting pretty strong, so I need to stop self-criticizing for everything I might or might not write and Just Do It, as the overpriced brand has it. So, in light of that, I’m gonna start with a warm-up set commentating on an article I saw today. It’s LIFE ADVICE, y’all. Mostly about destructive self-criticism. So naturally I’m going to criticize someone else’s insights instead.

1. 1. Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.

Mixed feelings about this. The first bit is good- people who like you will act like they like you, it won’t be a mystery, and you won’t experience much ambivalence over it that isn’t fairly recognizable as coming purely from yourself, and passive-aggressive or mercurial “friends” are a waste of time and energy. The same thing applies to dating- someone who is constantly giving you mixed messages is either a pointless time-waster or someone who is actually giving you really clear signals you don’t want to hear, and more to the point anyone who couldn’t be a good friend as well as a lover isn’t worth your time either unless all you’re after is short-term sex. (In the long term these people won’t make good partners in bed either.)

But I have a big issue with this line: “And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.”. Yes, true friends will stand by you during the lowest times in your life rather than scattering as soon as you’re no longer that fun to spend time with, but a really true friend will kick your ass if you’re acting like your worst self. They won’t put up with it. They’ll tell you you’re wrong. If you’re really fucked up they’ll tell you to get professional help, repeatedly. And eventually, if you refuse to work to get better? They’ll leave, because you’re no longer the you they loved.

2. #2. Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on. No, it won’t be easy. There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems. That’s not how we’re made. In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall. Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.

No issue here. Good advice. The only thing I’d add to it is that no matter how painful dealing with the problem is, it’s not nearly as painful as living with indefinitely.

3. #3. Stop lying to yourself. – You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself. Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves.

Actually you can lie to yourself very well if you’re really motivated to, and a lot of the time you’ll do it without even thinking twice about it. It’s pretty normal, actually. But your life will go smoother in direct proportion to how well you learn not to. Also while lying to others is sometimes necessary and even honorable, it usually doesn’t help you to lie to them, either.

4. #4. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.

You don’t actually get a cookie or a medal for martyrdom. And constantly feeling deprived or like your own needs don’t matter is a recipe for misery, and miserable people make lousy friends and partners.

5. #5. Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you like everyone else. Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.

Actually if the real you is a shitty person with shitty values, no they won’t. But the good news is you actually CAN change that, it will just be a lot of work. But ultimately very rewarding work.

6. #6. Stop trying to hold onto the past. – You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.

Having your brain taken over by constantly re-enacting past patterns, emotions, and experiences is one of the most effective ways to attach a metaphorical boat anchor to your own ankles.

7. #7. Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing. Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success. You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.

Or, as we say in derby, “If you’re not falling, you’re not learning.” And most stuff isn’t going to leave bruises.

8. #8. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us. We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future. Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.

I sometimes think there’s a Shame Center of the brain that has no other purpose other than going over past regrets and embarrassments until we feel almost as bad about them as we did the first time, all over again.

9. #9. Stop trying to buy happiness. – Many of the things we desire are expensive. But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.

Actually, working on our passions isn’t remotely free unless your passion is bodyweight exercise, and even then it costs in time and energy. Love isn’t really free either, it requires hard work, lots of time, and sometimes money- though real love usually (usually!) doesn’t feel like work.

10. #10. Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either. You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else.

More or less true. I don’t buy this sentiment’s close cousin, “you can’t love anyone else until you can love yourself”, though. I’ve known plenty of people who struggled or still struggle with loving themselves who did a lot better at it when they had a strong, healthy relationship- but it does take a lot of self-awareness and self-control to pull off.

11. #11. Stop being idle. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place. Evaluate situations and take decisive action. You cannot change what you refuse to confront. Making progress involves risk. Period! You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.

Mostly true. Sometimes taking action won’t lead to success though, especially when you have a basic belief that doing something is invariably better than doing nothing and placing a little faith in those around you.

12. #12. Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.

Again, mostly true. Sometimes we genuinely aren’t, though, and failure when there was never a possibility of success isn’t necessarily beneficial.

13. #13. Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. – Relationships must be chosen wisely. It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company. There’s no need to rush. If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.

You shouldn’t pursue love just because you’re lonely, as that will only lead to searching for anyone to fill that partner-shaped hole in your life, which NEVER ends well. (Healthy people you actually want to be with will correctly sense you see them as an object/spacefiller and not a person, and they’ll run like hell- but the people who are fucked up or exploitative might bite.) But we all get lonely, and it’s not a reason to back-burner it until we’re not. You might wait forever.

14. #14. Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. – In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you. But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.

I agree with the first sentence and nothing else. People don’t exist to serve a purpose for you, they’re people and they exist for their own damn sake, not to teach you some sort of lesson. Definitely avoid people who seem to bring out your worst self and stick with ones that bring out your best, but people are not FOR you and your personal development.

15. #15. Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you. Concentrate on beating your own records every day. Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.

Yup. Though for certain very specific goals (like picking up your time on a speed/endurance metric, or a weightlifting personal record), it’s sometimes helpful to pick someone who is *already very close to you* and use them as a rabbit to chase- as long as it remains good-natured.

16. #16. Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own. Ask yourself this: “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”

Actually, that’s ENVY. Jealous is worrying that someone else is going to take or already has something you have. This is why we use the phrase “jealously guarding”, and refer to someone as jealous when they’re suspecting a partner of cheating. Technically speaking this bit of advice is telling you to drop envy for jealousy instead. This has been your pedant moment of the week.

17. #17. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you. You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough. But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past. You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation. So smile! Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.

While it’s true that wallowing in self-pity and constant bitching will only get you more of the same, you still need to feel and process sadness, disappointment, and unhappiness and there’s nothing wrong with you doing so. Thinking you need to show a happy, positive face all the time will only make you feel a miserable secret self and terrible loneliness. Also, telling someone else to smile is a fucking asshole move, and sometimes what doesn’t kill us doesn’t make us stronger, it just leaves scars and crippling injuries.

18. #18. Stop holding grudges. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate. Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.” Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself! And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too. If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.

You don’t have to forgive to not being wasting energy and thought cycles on the person you haven’t and maybe will never forgive. Sometimes forgiveness benefits neither of you. Letting them ruin your life or your peace of mind after you’ve gotten clean away is letting them win, and living better is your victory- but you don’t have to forgive to do that.

19. #19. Stop letting others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.

Words to live by. Tit for tat erodes your own integrity and self-respect- or it should.

20. #20. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway. Just do what you know in your heart is right.

BULLSHIT. If you take it for granted all the time that your friends understand exactly what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, you’re going to lose friends, and your butthurt reaction when you discover you were NOT understood is only going to hasten the process. This is particularly important applied to partners. (Romantic or business.)

21. #21. Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. – The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.

Fair enough, but far from universally applicable. If you’re a paramedic keeping someone alive on the way to the hospital, you don’t want to take a break, change what you’re doing, or pause to reflect. Less extreme situations sometimes also apply.

22. #22. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things. The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.

Agree. Happiness is a fleeting enough emotion you’ve got to savor it while you’ve got it.

23. #23. Stop trying to make things perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done.

This is true. Although perfectionism is sometimes appropriate to time and place- perfectionists make good neurosurgeons, though you still have to close up that skull someday.

24. #24. Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Don’t take the easy way out. Do something extraordinary.

Agreed, just so long as you have a healthy sense of proportion about it. Your life is not wasted if you don’t climb Everest or otherwise go down in the record books. Being a good parent and raising kids to well-adjusted, kind, productive adults is extraordinary. So is doing a job the way it should be done, every time.

25. #25. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while. You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well. You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears. The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.

You have to pick your time and place, but also words to live by. Take it from someone who has an ulcer without a helicobacter infection, purely from internalizing stress: it creates so much long-term misery permanent stoicism just isn’t worth the cost. Doesn’t mean you have to be public about it, though.

26. #26. Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life. When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.

Yeah, though this really cuts both ways. If you constantly internalize everything bad that happens as having been somehow your fault or something you could have prevented, you will eat yourself alive and then you won’t be much good to anyone, including yourself. Psychologists call this internal vs external locus of control; people who are balanced somewhere in between are happiest and most successful. Plus taking credit for sheer gobsmacking luck will make you an arrogant ass.

27. #27. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out. But making one person smile CAN change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world. So narrow your focus.

Take it from a lazy person: this is so much less work and stress it’s not even funny. Doesn’t mean don’t make an effort, but taking on impossible tasks just consumes you.

28. #28. Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy. One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time? Three years? Five years?” If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.

Would that people could just turn this off by thinking positive. Believe it or not, how much anxiety you experience, as well as how easily you can turn it off on command, is heavily genetically influenced- and people who draw the short end of that straw have to learn much more powerful coping methods, and in some cases use medication.

29. #29. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.

I DO BELIEVE IN FAIRIES I DO I DO I DO. Being able to visualize success clearly and move toward it is very important, but so is avoiding pitfalls you can see if you keep your eyes on the road and not the horizon.

30. #30. Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life. Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs. Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.

Ehhh. This is a good way of calming yourself in a crisis, but feeling like you have no right to your own unhappiness over your circumstances just because there are starving children in Africa isn’t going to lead to any sort of psychologically positive outcome. It’s not good for making kids eat their dinner, either. Is good for giving them a weird and dysfunctional relationship with food, though. And for that matter happiness.

Tune in next time for… I have no idea what, or when.