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User Journal

Journal Journal: Verbiage: New Scrabble dictionary and related musings

Merriam-Webster has released the The Official SCRABBLE® Players Dictionary, Fifth Edition. Although they list it for $25.95, Amazon currently has it at $6.83. I plan to purchase one soon.

NASPA, the North American SCRABBLE Players Association, has the The Official Tournament and Club Word List, 2014 Edition for $22 until Aug 13, then it goes up to $24.95. However, you have to be a member to purchase it, meaning it costs $30 more. Though, a trial membership should be good enough, which is a cheaper $15.

The difference between the two is twofold. One, the dictionary has been purged of offensive words whereas the full list has all words. Two, the dictionary includes definitions and other forms, whereas the list does not.

Getting the dictionary and printing up the delta might be the best option to all the word on the cheap, nice as an "official" version may be.

Speaking of lists, there are many. I have two and three letter word lists printed up, besides the 70% vowel list and a few bingo lists based on RETINA and the like. They are all grossly out of date, so i'll probably print up new ones when i'm sure they are using the new words. Last time i printed up two copies of everything except the longer three word list. My brother and i play with the lists and the dictionary available. It's just so much more fun that way.

NASPA has the long list, words of ten to fifteen letters, available. I'd like to print that up too, though i'd like to find an easy way to wrap it for more efficient use of the paper.

The Matrix

Journal Journal: It's Only A Movie

' LIZA
                                    Where'd you get your subscribers?

JERRY
                                    I put an ad on a computer bulletin
                                    board. I log on at the library so
                                    I can't be traced.

LIZA
                                    Well, I've been tracking them down
                                    all morning.

JERRY
                                    You haven't been bothering them,
                                    have you?

LIZA
                                    They're dead. Four out of five
                                    anyhow. All in the last 24 hours.
                                    One car accident, two heart
                                    attacks and a stroke.

JERRY
                                    Jesus... It's my fault. They drew
                                    a black line over me and now I'm
                                    passing it on.
                                                  (realizes)
                                    I'm passing it to you, too.

LIZA
                                    I'll be fine. Let's worry about
                                    Henry Finch. P.O. Box in St.
                                    Louis. He's the last on the list.
                                    I haven't been able to reach him
                                    yet.

JERRY
                                    Maybe you better not try... I
                                    worked so hard to keep quiet.
                                    Like a mouse. I should have
                                    realized.

LIZA
                                    Realized what?

JERRY
                                    Henry Finch. That they monitor
                                    everything. That it was only a
                                    matter of time. And now four
                                    people are dead.

Liza reaches into her pocket, takes out the newsletter.

LIZA
                                    Elaborate on 'they,' okay?

JERRY
                                    There are all kinds of groups, all
                                    kinds of initials. But they're
                                    all part of two warring factions.
                                    One: families that have held
                                    wealth for centuries.
                                    They want one thing. Stability.
                                    Group Two: the boat rockers.
                                    Eisenhower's military industrial
                                    complex. They want instability.
                                    It's a trillion dollar a year
                                    business. When there isn't a hot
                                    war, they make a cold one.

                                                                LIZA
                                    Cold War's over, Jerry.

JERRY
                                    So now they feed us terrorists.
                                    To create fear. How much do you
                                    think an airport security system
                                    goes for? Then multiply it by
                                    every airport in the country.

LIZA
                                    And you think Group One is at war
                                    with Group Two.
http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/conspiracy-theory.html

User Journal

Journal Journal: The Upgrade Went Well 2

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 Journal: Videogames and sexism 2

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 Journal: Catching Up 3

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 Journal: Mini Rant/Silliness: News sites formatted for handhelds

Just check a news site or two. They all seem formatted for handheld devices.

So, first we had pages with no formatting, which was ok, kind of. Except for the large moving images.
It got ugly. So they discovered TABLE. which formatted thing pretty well.
Then came different browsers and super complex code. So, they invented CSS.
CSS suffered the same fate, so they enhanced it and added stuff to HTML5.
Which means, now we have pretty advanced formatting, daunting to the beginner.
So, we must have beautiful pages, right?
Actually, we have pages designed for handhelds, and large moving images.

Something is definitely wrong here. I move for HTML1, Generation 2. We can get some Hollywood director to lead the remake.

--
How shall i spell "Mini Rant"? Shamefully, i have been inconsistent!

  1. Mini Rant:1 2
  2. Mini rant: 1 2 3
  3. Mini-Rant: 1

I like the first and want to edit all the others accordingly. :)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Apartment: Carpet complaints 1

My apartment has carpet save the kitchen that has tile. When i moved in, i was given a checklist to note what was not perfect. Figuring that's what they would fix, i verbally mentioned the cracks in the kitchen floor and perhaps something else, and moved on. I really had no idea what the checklist was for. Besides, it looked daunting.

A friend mentioned that carpet was not right, but i didn't care until summer when i realized how bad it was. Over the weekends i would lay on the floor to play games with friends and the like, and it felt grimy. That friend reminded me of what he originally noticed.

I spoke to the apartment manager about it, but he replied that the carpet was new. He bade me feel the carpet in the office, but in the end, i asked him to come by to humor me and that then he could call me an idiot. He told me he didn't need to go to the apartment to do that...:). But, come by he did and was surprised.

The apartment clearly had old carpet, which he admitted was grimy, and my friend who was by, showed him holes in the carpet too. He said he would look into it. I told him, i wouldn't mind if he waited until the yearly renewal (which has more likely a chance to get things done with the carpet.) That was a couple months away or so.

This past week, about a month later, i bugged him again. He told me that he misunderstood the note that the apartment has new carpet, which meant that one room's carpet was replaced. So, on lease renewal i would get a new carpet. As to the kitchen floor which has cracks and scuff marks, that would be too much at once, and he didn't want to push the central office. He then explained to me the issue with not having filled out the form when i moved it and thus how "Central" would see it.

Well, i mentioned how bad the kitchen floor is again, but told him i didn't want to cause problems. Nonetheless, i would like him to ask, but not to "push". He then said he would take it up with his supervisor, who was just a few feet away from us talking to his (the person i was talking to) secretary on a walk they would soon take. After that, i left, and i hope to pick it up again when i get the renewal notice.

User Journal

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

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.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Rant: Mod point silliness. 2

Mod points again, which i prefer to spend in JEs. Last time i had points, i could not find the moderate button. Now i see that of you have javascript turned on it is automatic.

  • Automatic mod point application is amazingly stupid.
  • What if i make a mistake?
  • What if i see a post later that was unfairly modded down but now i have no points left?
  • The FAQ says, "Do you still have any moderator points left? You only got 5..." I got 15.
  • Why doesn't it mention the auto update somewhere?
  • After moderating it reports how many points you have left. Messages end up conflicting.

Overall, the heralded new age of Slashdot is being designed by morons.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Chronicle: Sample Merchandise Sale

So, there was a JDRF sale at the company. Or rather, the sale benefited the JDRF. With company themed items, i was interested, for whatever reason.

The sale was Thursday, the email Wednesday (well, after 5 on Tueday), declaring a company "sample merchandise sale". "Pre-Sale 8:00 am - 9:00 am ($10 donation to get in) Sale 9:10 am - 3:00 pm (No charge to get in)".

I sent an email to the sender:

Please excuse my ignorance.

What is a presale?

Which got her response

Pretty much gets you in before the big rush and you have a better chance getting something you really want. Kind of like getting to meet a movie star and get an autograph before having to stand in line and not getting it.

I sent a thank you, and a little later:

I'm sorry to bother you again. I spoke to a couple people and realized I didn't understand two things.

1) Are things able to be purchased during the pre-sale?
2) What is a Sample Merchandise Sale? Specifically, what is meant by "sample"?

to which i received no response. Oh well.

A friend encouraged me to go and to just spend the $10, so i did. I found out a few things:

  • Samples are samples of branded items from other companies. That is, the other companies want to sell stuff with this company's logo.
  • Almost everything is sold within 2-3 hours.
  • You can purchase items during the pre-sale.
  • Very few people show up to the presale.
  • They have the sale once a year.

The prices were on the board, i wasn't sure what was what. There were a number of tables, a few people, and stuff lying here and there. Model cars of all sorts, Playstation games, shirts, caps, pants, wallets, and more. I found some police trucks on the "dollar table" and grabbed all eight. At first i hesitated from taking them all, but they encouraged me to do so and brought me a box to hold them. I also got a Captain America snap together model truck (Round2 AMT AMT857) and a cap and shirt. I went to pay and they had forgotten to charge me the extra $10, but after i reminded them, my price was $33.

The truck is fun. It's a KiNSMART KT5365, though it is a police truck. The doors open and the spring loaded action lets me pull it back and it rolls forward. It's not a small car, but is about the size of my hand ("Scale 1/46"). It happens to be a F-150, prompting me to ask, "Have you played with a Ford, lately?"

Back to the office, the lady who sits next to me showed no special interest in the truck. That is, until she saw the doors opened and the spring loaded action. All of a sudden she wanted one for her son. Her son is in his twenties and lives out of state. But who's counting? Two other people wanted it for their children. Heh. I find the whole thing amusing.

When my erstwhile boss asked me to meet him downstairs around lunchtime, i came down with the truck to show it to him. It was he that encouraged me to go in the first place and i thought he might want one. No interest. On my way back up, i was toying with it in the elevator. Two people were there of which the woman was eying me strangely. So, i asked with feigned surprise, "What?! You didn't go to the sale this morning?" There might have been a smile or a "what sale?", but it was all over soon. That is kind of out of character for me, but it sure felt good. :) For now at least, one of the trucks is being left at my desk.

At the register, i was asked if an emailed recipt was ok. Sure it was. My email address? I used a plus sign to help identify it. The program wouldn't take it. I hate stupid programmers.

I replied to the email with a thank you and then:

Hope i'm not spamming you. I just have to let it out.

I _really_ should have bought more models.

There aren't any left, are there?

A few minutes later she responded

Not spamming at all. Unfortunately, there aren't. I can follow up and see if any come up in the future though. What kinds are you interested in?

Really? There's a chance? I sent a response starting with:

Thanx for replying. I know i am hoping against hope. :) But it doesn't hurt to ask.

Who knows where that will go?

The Captain America truck is being sold on ebay for around $20. $5 was a pretty deal.

Shark

Journal Journal: Burn, Baby, Burn! 1

"Sustainability" is, as far as I can see, a project designed to keep this culture - this lifestyle - afloat. The modern human economy is an engine of mass destruction. Of course, I am conflicted about this. I live at the heart of this machine; like you, I am a beneficiary of it. If it falls apart, I will probably suffer, and I don't want to. ...

I don't think any "climate movement" is going to reverse the tide of history, for one reason: We are all climate change. It is not the evil "1%" destroying the planet. We are all of us part of that destruction. This is the great, conflicted, complex situation we find ourselves in. I am climate change. You are climate change. Our culture is climate change. And climate change itself is just the tip of a much bigger iceberg, if you'll pardon the terrible but appropriate pun. If we were to wake up tomorrow to the news that climate change were a hoax or a huge mistake, we would still be living in a world in which extinction rates were between 100 and 1000 times natural levels and in which we have managed to destroy 25 percent of the world's wildlife in the last four decades alone."

http://grist.org/climate-energy/i-withdraw-a-talk-with-climate-defeatist-paul-kingsnorth/

Medicine

Journal Journal: Gimme Gimme Penicillin! 3

China 'seals off' town after man dies of bubonic plague
"A Chinese town has been sealed off and 151 people placed in quarantine since last week after a man died of bubonic plague, state media said Tuesday.

The 30,000 people living in Yumen in the northwestern province of Gansu are not being allowed to leave, and police at roadblocks on its perimeter are telling motorists to find alternative routes, state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said.

Other reports said that earlier this month the 38-year-old victim had found a dead marmot, a small furry animal which lives on grasslands and is related to the squirrel.

He chopped it up to feed his dog but developed a fever the same day. He was taken to hospital after his condition worsened and died last Wednesday."

https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/24523564/china-seals-off-town-after-man-dies-of-bubonic-plague/

The Matrix

Journal Journal: Property is Moral Opposite of Liberty 10

Think about that, while you make absolute positions...

"...Liberty, as defined in its truest negative sense, is freedom from external restraint. This, along with the principle of self-ownership, commands that nobody shall have the right to act on the body of another without their consent. But "property rights" as Gobry slyly calls them gives people precisely that right. For a right to property is not a right over a piece of the world, but rather a right to act on the bodies of others: to attack and externally restrain those bodies without consent.

In a world that respects liberty, people are free to do whatever they'd like, provided they do not act on the body of another (e.g. externally restrain it). This requires that people may walk about the world as they please, grabbing and utilizing any of its various pieces and resources as they go. No person may stop them from doing so because such stopping would impose an external restraint on their body, a destruction of their negative liberty.

Yet, this kind of liberty-destroying external restraint is precisely what property ownership is. In fact, it is the only thing that property is: a social relation of violent exclusion wherein the "owner" has claimed a right to attack other human beings if they try to act on a particular piece of the world. Claiming a "property right" does not change the piece of world that it is meant to attach to, nor the person claiming it. It merely advertises a terrifying threat: everyone else's pre-existing liberty to use this piece of the world is hereby extinguished at my violent hands whether they consent to have their liberty so destroyed or not."

http://mattbruenig.com/2014/07/23/does-nature-command-the-destruction-of-all-human-liberty/

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Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd. - Voltaire

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