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Crime

Journal: What they want you to think 6

Journal by squiggleslash

So... Brown was going to college in a few days, but he decided to rob a store beforehand because that's what undergrads do or something. But they found dope in his system, which also proves that in addition to being a violent "thug" (though not one armed with the prerequesite cola and skittles) he was also a drugged out maniac. And the store refused to call 911 because, uh, not sure, but there's probably a bad reason for it. So later when a cop happened to find him jaywalking it was probably OK to ki... no, that's too strong a word, put him to sleep, because thug.

So here's white currently suburban (and British urban anyway, so that doesn't count) me thinking none of this makes sense even if you're trying to tug at any prejudices of mine.

One problem is that Brown being on dope explains the robbery and why the store didn't feel any strong inclination to call 911. Kinda. Well, based on an experience of mine anyway. Thing is, about 25 years ago I'm buying a cheese and onion sandwich from a newsagent in Oxford. In walks a (white, FWIW) man who is obviously stoned. Student probably. Tries to find something to eat, and then has an argument with the store owner who (1) wants him to wait until he's finished serving me and (2) wants him to pay. "Dope fiend" (heh) then loses his temper, swears, makes a lot of comments that sound like a Slashdotter moaning about having to buy music (except about groceries not music), upends a small rack of merchandise near the door, and leaves the store.

Store owner is pissed, but sees no need to call 999. This guy isn't a real threat to anyone. The damage is slight. The situation may resolve itself once the would-be customer sobers up anyway.

Of course, follow this line of reasoning and Brown isn't a thug (I keep emphasizing that word, you know why...) but someone with temporarily poor judgement who was, by default, in a more mellow frame of mind despite appearances at the store.

Which, while I wasn't there, is certainly consistent not with Brown somehow being threatening to the officer that killed him, but initially (while there was no threat) likely to mouth of, and then when the situation turned threatening, more than a little paranoid and likely compliant with the (justifiably, as it turned out) scary cop: that is to say, I think despite the Ferguson police trying to smear Brown as a doped up thug, everything is consistent with the eyewitness accounts that say otherwise.

A few days before going to college Brown, apparently, smoked dope, leading to a series of events where a cop thought he could get away with executing him. Even replacing the more mellow attitude of British police with their authoritarian and mildly corrupt American counterparts, I don't think my white fellow shopper 20 years ago would ever have been shot if caught jaywalking afterwards. Given not merely the attempt to smear Brown, but the type of smear used, which seems to be used all too often, I think he was shot because certain elements in the US, and apparently many are in law enforcement, believe blacks belong to a less human class than the rest of us.

User Journal

Journal: Guardians of the Galaxy 1

Journal by stoolpigeon

Took my family to see Guardians of the Galaxy last night. I had only heard good stuff about it and it was a fun movie. What's funny is I thought it was pretty good while my wife and kids thought it was amazing. My son kept going on about it and my wife said she wanted to go watch it again. Usually with a film like this it would be the other way around and I'd be the one who was more enthusiastic. Funny.

User Journal

Journal: AZ and back on Nvidia 3

Journal by stoolpigeon

Got my main machine running with the Nvidia card again. I crack myself up. It seems to be working o.k. so far. We'll see how long it lasts.
 
Being in Arizona this summer was nice. It was crazy hot of course. That's the norm. But it has been a while since I'd been able to really enjoy the desert. I did miss it. I love the big sky, the cactus, the beautiful sunsets and the smell. We had some storms and there is a very unique odor that is a wet Sonoran desert. I love it. It brought back a lot of memories from my childhood.
 
Our family got to go to a Diamondback's game and timed it very well as they won, which is something they aren't doing a lot this season. It was a lot of fun for my son, who is a big baseball fan. In fact, a friend let him be a part of time with a batting coach once a week while we were home. That was very generous and was great for my boy as well. There is little league in Hungary but not the same level of resources as in the US.
 
We went out shooting one day. What could be more American than that? It was a lot of fun for my kids. A very strange thing has happened while we were away. It is pretty much impossible to buy .22 ammunition near where we lived. I don't know the causes but it was crazy. I have a couple .22 rifles and a .22 pistol that I thought would be great for the kids to shoot. I couldn't find ammunition for them anywhere. Fortunately I had friends who were able to give me some.
 
I have a lot of friends who are gun enthusiasts and I don't know if my kids appreciated the variety of weapons they got to try out. They did have fun - though I couldn't afford to do that too often, even if we did still live there. I always enjoyed archery a bit more. No need for hearing protection, less expensive over time and no cleaning when you are done. But still the fun challenge of hitting a target from a distance.
 
We spent a week up in the mountains. I took the family to Woods Canyon Lake, up on the rim. It was super, super busy. The campgrounds were all full and the lake was pretty crowded. We were driving out and my son says, "It would be cool to see an elk." I said, "You wont see any around here today. Way too many people around for that." Not two minutes later here comes an elk with a big beautiful rack just wandering on through. We pulled over and watched it for a while. I'm guessing it's become accustomed to people. That's not good - but it was cool to see.
 
I think next time we visit Arizona (probably in 2 or 3 years) we'll hike Havasupai and the Grand Canyon. The kids will be old enough and it will be a good chance for us to do something like that together before the kids start leaving the nest.It is hard for me to think that we've come that far.
 
Oh - back to the gun thing quickly - my kids were worried about getting shot at all the time. It's funny how crazy that aspect of American life is when you've stepped outside of it for a while. I had to keep reassuring them that they were not in constant danger of being gunned down. They hear about shootings in the US so much, and it's something that pretty much never happens in Hungary. I didn't realize how much they'd thought about it though or how it worried them until we got home. I used to be a big pro gun ownership guy but not so much any more.
 
That said - I don't plan on getting rid of the guns I do own there. If we moved back I would teach my kids to be more proficient with them. As long as the laws are the way they are I think it's better to take that approach. And it was nice for the times we were in areas where I was concerned about animals. I didn't normally carry but I did in a few situations where I knew we might run across javelina and some other critters.
 
I don't think there's much else of note. It was great to see friends and family but I don't need to record any of those details here. Oh - movies. We say Edge of Tomorrow. Pretty good. Also went and saw the latest Transformers. Not the best but still delivered what I want most out of that kind of movie - giant robots fighting. I watched Pacific Rim on the flight over. That movie really delivered. What else did I watch on planes? Grand Budapest Hotel. Rather charming I thought. Fiennes is an amazing actor. The new Captain America which I thought was pretty week. I can't remember what else I watched. I know at least one other movie. You know what else? Americans love to talk about movies. We really do. Not necessarily to any depth but more recommending them to one another, recounting favorite scenes, etc. It's funny how often we do that. I wish I could remember the other one I watched on the plane. My kids watched Mr. Peabody and Sherman. I was napping then but caught a bit of it on their screens. OH - when we saw Transformers they had a trailer for The Giver. I just read that a couple months ago. Judging by the trailer they are pulling a Running Man. The movie will vaguely resemble the book - sort of. But all amped up hollywood style.
 
All right - back to work.

User Journal

Journal: The Upgrade Went Well 2

Journal by stoolpigeon

I had one package that caused some warning but it was really out of date so I just removed it. It was VLMC and I'm not going to be using it on that machine anyway.
 
I finally got my taxes done. Life was so crazy this year that I just kept not getting around to it. Which is stupid on my part as I'm just leaving money sitting with the government that I could be using. I had a really odd thing this year, my Foreign Earned Income Exclusion was smaller than it has been in the past. I don't know why- but I doubt it's worth the time and cost to find someone who would know. With 3 kids and our income not too high, my tax liability is very, very low. And so it's all pretty small amounts involved.
 
We've been back a couple weeks now and I'm back to the weight I was before we went to the US. For that 6.5 weeks we visited we ate out a lot. There were a lot of places we missed that we wanted to eat at. And of course lots of good Mexican. That's pretty much impossible to get here. And in general we just consumed more. I think the first time we went out, they gave me my huge glass of diet coke that they would refill the moment it was empty and I must have gone through like 6 of those before we had even finished the appetizer. So funny.
 
Anyway, if we lived back home we wouldn't eat like we did when just visiting. The one thing that really struck me is how much more expensive fast food has become in the 3 years since we left. It used to be around 20 bucks for our family to go to McDonalds/Burger King. Now it's more like 30.
 
Of course gas and milk still felt ridiculously cheap compared to here in Hungary. I know why gas costs so much here, not sure why milk is so much. Probably due to the same reasons though - government choices. Just not sure which government, in which direction. Are Hungarian dairy prices inflated or does the USDA (or whoever manages dairy in the US) keep US milk prices artificially low? It was also fun to be able to buy milk in a gallon container. Buying it a liter at a time is a pain. Our kids go through them quickly.
 
That's all for today, more tomorrow.

First Person Shooters (Games)

Journal: Videogames and sexism 2

Journal by squiggleslash

Read this: Guardian: From Lara Croft to Bayonetta: what is a 'strong female character'?

I'm kinda baffled by it to be honest. Leaving aside it deals with three female characters, the character it lauds is a poor example of anything, and the character it kinda sweeps under the rug has hidden virtues the author is too shortsighted to notice.

Lara Croft (original)

Lara Croft is perhaps the most famous woman in gaming. Since the original Tomb Raider arrived in 1996, the character has attracted criticism for her physical appearance â" so when the most recent release in the series gave her a realistically proportioned body, the new Lara was praised as a more relatable hero. Removing the over-sized breasts and teeny, tiny waist is apparently all that was needed for the character to evolve from sex object to admirable âoesurvivorâ.

I played a few original TR games, and quite honestly, "physical appearance" is the only aspect of Croft that's dubious. The character is independent, physically strong, smart, quick, and so on. It could be argued that she has "princess" style origins, being born into wealth/power, but she's not a princess in any other sense. She uses the resource at her disposal to her advantage, but she's working hard to get something better. If stereotypical teenage males are drawn into the games by seeing a hottie with large whatevers, said male then experiences a character who makes for quite a good role model. He won't be left with a "Women are toys to be objectified" view.

The counter to that, I guess, is that appearances might put off gamers not attracted to HwLWs, which is a perfectly reasonable complaint, but peripheral to the story the writer writes. The writer is trying to find examples of "strong women" in video games, and pretty much ignores this example, because she's top heavy.

Lara Croft (rebooted)

While Bayonetta fully embraces her sexuality, in the Tomb Raider reboot, Lara fades into her grueling, grey surroundings (...) Lara Croft has had to change to fit into the âoestrong female characterâ role, whereas Bayonetta whips it into submission and makes no apology for her love of lipstick, high heels or, indeed, herself.(...) For all the praise of Laraâ(TM)s growth throughout Tomb Raider, that maturation process is arguably nothing more than a jarring graduation from doubting, guilt-ridden girlhood into lean, mean, psychopathy. Her first kill is supposed to devastate us as it apparently devastates Lara but, almost immediately, weâ(TM)re thrust back into a game which rewards us for killing. Lara is a character who is even uncomfortable in her own story. (...) But within games and wider media, the âoesurvivorâ is a tired trope, women are survivors where men are heroes; they overcome rather than succeed.

I can kind of agree with all of this, survivor is a tired trope and one I've parodied in the past multiple times between pretty much every TV show since the original TV version of Nikita has insisted on portraying heroines-who-sometimes-have-to-use-violence in that way. I'm not sure whether the worst was the 2000s version of Bionic Woman, where the heroine felt obliged to be upset and complain constantly about the fact she'd been the successful recipient of experimental life-saving completely-positive-in-every-way prosthetics, or T:SCC which is just went on for ages with "Miserable Sarah".

But at the same time, what does that have to do with anything? If a male were in the same boat (figuratively), would they act significantly differently? We get miserable if we manage to claw ourselves out of a disaster but are still in danger too, I suspect at any rate.

Bayonetta

Despite appearances, Bayonetta rarely panders to the imagined male audience. Yes, sheâ(TM)s ridiculously proportioned and scantily clad for most of the game, but far from being an object, she is portrayed as having complete autonomy and control over her body and femininity. (...) Bayonetta (...) makes no apology for her love of lipstick, high heels or, indeed, herself. Everything about Bayonetta is determined by her womanhood and femininity, yet she remains dominant throughout: during the course of the game she spanks angels, submits them to humiliating torture attacks and transforms into a panther, clad with painted red claws and gold jewellery. Bayonetta is a powerful woman, she is not powerful in spite of being a woman (...) a truly empowering woman whoâ(TM)s unapologetically feminine, sexual and confident. Dismissed by many as an objectified fantasy, she is a woman without compromise who refuses to be ashamed of her body, who in one sequence giggles seductively as she grasps the pulsating heart of a heaven-sent deity and asks: âoeDo you want to touch me?â

I'm a little puzzled as to how this character is in any way a positive example of a "strong woman" archetype if, as the author breathlessly appears to claim, her greatest strengths are largely limited to some kind of violent version of being flirty and manipulative.

Moreover, if her powers revolve around her sexual effects on the compatible gender, does this not presume that that compatible gender is, in fact, the common controller of power and her oppressor? And does it suggest that the right approach to becoming strong is regularly flashing your boobs to distract someone who isn't doing what you want them to do?

I'm struggling with this one to be honest. If this view of the world is right, then prostitution is a liberating profession, and having skills suited to leadership roles the world needs are nothing compared to the ability to have a boss who's easily caught off guard because he's physically attracted to you.

Unmentioned

Despite the title, the article mentions three characters, quickly dispatches with the only one of any worth, and then avoids bringing up any more. The thesis seems to be survivor bad (well, OK, I guess), looks are important, and strong women are best when they're distracting men by being all sexy and stuff.

I think that's an awful, awful, idea. I don't think my daughter is going to become President, the first person on Mars, or the leader of the largest gang in South Florida controlling 74% of the American cocaine trade, with that attitude.

User Journal

Journal: Catching Up 3

Journal by stoolpigeon

I haven't written a journal in a while. We spent a good chunk of this summer in the U.S.A. It was a pretty full/busy time. We came back and then left again for a couple days hiking in Austria. Now we are home for a bit. I don't plan on going anywhere until next month.

I'm upgrading my Dell to Fedora 20 right now and trying to clean up my office. It's funny. It's a Latitude D620 and when I got it in 2006 it was the most powerful computer I had ever owned. It's got a dual core processor and has 2 gig of ram. At the time that blew me away and now I just use it for stuff where I don't mind how slow it is.

It is nice and sunny out. I brought a hammock back from Arizona - now I need to figure out how I'm going to put it up. Today would be a perfect day to take a nap in the sun.

User Journal

Journal: just went under 220lbs for the first time in a long long time...

Journal by kesuki

i love it when overweight people give me diet advice.
i double plus like it when they say i lose weight from exercise.
i rotflol when they tell me to eat veggies/salads 'instead of meat' while eating them with high carb dressings.

i took an inch off my waistline and i caved in on eating 'banned' foods according to the diet i picked at least 2-3 times a week. i clearly know more than they do, because it is the first diet to ever work for me even though i couldn't follow it like i wanted to. nothing else works. exercise on most diets makes me hungry, and therefor i gain weight. i even trained for a 10k and gained a whopping 10 lbs.
my secret? replace almost all carbs with meat, veggies and fruits combined are to be less than 15% of my caloric intake. grains and potatoes and legumes are totally off limits, according to the diet i am trying to be on. if i lost 16 lbs and a waist size why do i 'need' your obese self justification for eating like a feedlot cow? i was trying to follow the paleo diet if you must know the name, and hense legumes, grains, and potatoes are off limits but so to is sugar, processed foods sodas etc. needless to say i didn't stick to it. but i did stop eating garbage foods from the frozen section (quit those 2 years ago though) i made a point of finding new ways to eat meat, including lunchmeat, that i could tolerate and really i only get hungry if i've had bread or it's many cousins in the past week. yeah and i quit taking acid reflux meds turns out the wheat was irritating my tummy and i thought i had acid reflux.

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Journal: Circular Refuge on reddit 5

Journal by Some Woman

It's a happening place. There are upwards of 3, maybe 4 posts a day!
You should join us, if you like.

http://www.reddit.com/r/CircularRefuge
(message mods to join; can't let the riffraff on reddit in! Just our very own special riffraff.)

User Journal

Journal: I declare an Internet Fatwa on DC 2

Journal by WillAffleckUW

Enough talk. The FCC has decided to end Net Neutrality.

I declare an Internet Fatwa on DC.

As a survivor of the First Use*Net Wars and part of the ARPA*NET 110 baud club, I declare an Internet Fatwa against all of DC.

Let them eat 14.4k!

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.

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