Sisyphus

Sep. 30th, 2017 08:39 pm
essentialsaltes: (dead)

Tuesday

OldWiseGuy's link: whites are almost
TWICE as likely to be killed by police officers.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control, between 1999 and 2011, 2,151 whites died as a result of being shot by police compared to 1,130 blacks.

essentialsaltes: The bolded text is a lie. An obvious lie. A childish lie. Only the innumerate would fall for such a transparent lie.

OldWiseGuy:
1.9 times is "almost twice" (unless my math is off).

Iluvatar:
Do you know what percentage of the population is made up by blacks? Do you know why that's important to your argument?

OldWiseGuy: So what is the "truth of the matter"?

essentialsaltes: 
Iluvatar ... and I have been trying to help you find the truth for yourself. Start with iluvatar's questions

Wednesday

OldWiseGuy: 
I asked for your opinion, not help with mine.

essentialsaltes: 
Sorry, no. You asked for the truth. The truth is independent of opinion.

You can find it if you go about the process with an honest and unbiased mind. If I just give it to you, you'll just reject it. Go back and answer Iluvatar's questions. You'll find it for yourself.

[TL;DR]

essentialsaltes: 
Excellent. Do you agree then, that it is not a fact (or a statistic) that "whites are almost TWICE as likely to be killed by police officers."

Thursday

OldWiseGuy: 
I already conceded that point, in post 29. You're beating a dead horse here.

Saturday

2Timothy2:15: Here are some more stats. Stats clearly show that more white people are killed by police year over year than any other race. 

essentialsaltes: Yes, and more right handed people are on death row than left handers. That's not the relevant statistic.

Even our local curmudgeon OldWiseGuy conceded this point. Black people are more likely to be killed by police, year after year. That is the relevant statistic.

2Timothy2:15: If black people are more likely to be killed the numbers would match, which they don't.




essentialsaltes: (dead)
Fresh off reading about Tough Guy Writers, it was maybe inevitable that a few titles caught my eye. Death in a Bowl, featuring a murder of the conductor at the Hollywood Bowl during a concert certainly punched the right buttons. Sadly, there's not as much local color as I hoped, and a plot that's hopelessly cockamamie by the end. But a few bloodthirsty and cold-blooded nouns and verbs smash together pleasingly every once in a while.

"Do I look like a killer?"
"I never saw a man who looked like one...You look like a liar to me--I've seen them before."
essentialsaltes: (pWNED!!! by Science)
 Remember when I suggested that scientismists would require Queen Elizabeth to pump out hundreds of eggs a day? That's pretty close to this guy.

given the great demands placed on the female body during homo sapiens’ lengthy gestation and lactation period, would it be wrong for me to suggest that encouraging males to select mates based on characteristics that enable the female to generate wealth independent of a mate rather than on their ability to bear children may have long term negative effects on the species. or is that just the crazy in me talking?

essentialsaltes: (dead)
 A 1968 collection of essays  on the the Tough Guys of 30s fiction by diverse authors, primarily academic (including Carolyn See of UCLA (Extension at the time) - her dissertation was on the Hollywood novel, and her essay here explores the well-populated cross-section of Hollywood and tough guys). I picked it up at an estate sale on a whim.

Probably the best of the bunch and a good primer on the topic is "The 'Black Mask' School" by Edgar-winning UCLA Professor Philip Durham, focusing on the origins and contents of the eponymous pulp magazine.

Some essays are insightful, others veer off into academese, others display a surprising distaste for the whole topic: 

"Although the novel is atrociously written, with ... a tone I can describe only as illiterate archness, it does contain some of the important elements of gangster fiction: an Italian hero, an unbelievable amount of brutality ..., quite a bit of very rapid and decidedly unexciting sex, a Robin Hood sort of romanticism, and some fairly knowledgeable accounts of the methods of criminals."

Of a different novel: "Chase apparently took all the elements he found striking in gangster fiction and magnified them as far as his imagination and the censors would allow; the result is one of the rarest of rare birds, a truly horrible book."

One interesting insight that caught me eye is the epigraph to an essay on Hammett, quoted from Angus Fletcher's Allegory: "[The 'daemonic agent'] will act as if possessed ... He will act part way between the human and divine spheres, touching on both, which suggests that he can be used for the model romantic hero, since romance allows its heroes both human interest and divine power. His essentially energic character will delight the reader with an appearance of unadulterated power. Like a Machiavellian prince, the allegorical hero can act free of the usual moral restraints, even when he is acting morally, since he is moral only in the interests of his power over other men. This sort of action has a crude fascination for us all; it impels us to read the detective story, the western, the saga of space exploration and interplanetary travel."

 

 


essentialsaltes: (cthulhu)
 A Fedogan & Bremer anthology, with assorted stories chosen somewhat haphazardly by Bob Price from dark and obscure places. Like any anthology, the quality ranges widely. Among the likes:

Duane Rimel's "The Jewels of Charlotte" - a nice bit of weird that doesn't feel it has to come up with a turgid explanation.

Obviously can't argue with Borges "There are More Things"

Randall Garrett's twist ending in "The Horror out of Time" allllllmost works, and gets an E for effort.

The first 90% of David Kaufman's "John Lehmann Alone" has great atmosphere of increasing dread, but I just don't like the resolution. This would have benefitted from even less attempt at explanation.

Namecheck

Sep. 1st, 2017 07:35 am
essentialsaltes: (cthulhu)
"There were five of us that night [at the seance]: Jessica, whom I was to marry just after the new year, Walters, and two of our new members, one a student -- Cambridge, I think -- named Wilson, who was home for the holiday, and a young scientist of sorts named Tice."

From "The Cellar Room", by Steffan B. Aletti

I survive the seance in the flashback, but die unmourned offscreen in the intervening years before the framing story concludes.

I spotted it in Acolytes of Cthulhu, but it traces back at least as far as Weird Terror Tales #3, Fall 1970.
essentialsaltes: (internet Disease)
"I never could stomach these nationalists," he exclaimed. "The destiny of Man is to unite, not to divide. If you keep on dividing, you end up as a collection of monkeys throwing nuts at each other out of separate trees."




"I see what you think you mean," said the magician, "but you are wrong. There is no excuse for war, none whatever, and whatever the wrong which your nation might be doing to mine -- short of war -- my nation would be in the wrong if it started a war so as to redress it. A murderer, for instance, is not allowed to plead that his victim was rich and oppressing him -- so why should a nation be allowed to? Wrongs have to be redressed by reason, not force."

[Sir Kay probes the argument.]

Merlyn was annoyed.

"Only because you want it to seem so," he said. "Obviously Lot would be the aggressor, for making the threat of force. You can always spot the villain, if you keep a fair mind. In the last resort, it is ultimately the man who strikes the first blow ... if there is nothing else to decide by"

essentialsaltes: (internet Disease)
Life is Strange is a choose your own adventure style video game, with the added bonus that your protagonist has a rewind power so that some mistakes can be undone. There are also some puzzles and meddling kids detection to be done. What starts with classroom bullies ends up in much deeper and darker territory. The game quite intentionally jerks you around, but it does so pretty effectively. The load screen talks about how the choices you make effect the past, present and future, and I remember mocking the idea that the game allows you to tinker with much more than five seconds of the past. Then 15 minutes later, I was gibbering in remorse at what I'd done to the timeline.

Ultimately, the game builds to a crescendo that it just can't support well in the last episode, which I didn't find very satisfying. But the middle was pretty strong. I'm curious to see what different choices and actions would do to the story, but like Until Dawn, I'm not sure I can stand to sit through that much teen dialogue again.

Apparently there will be a prequel soon, and later a 'sequel' with different characters and setting.
essentialsaltes: (eye)
Last Tuesday, Uzbeki pianist Behzod Abduraimov tore the cover off Rachmaninoff's Third Piano Concerto at the Hollywood Bowl. I can't say that I know the piece that well, but I agree with the LA Times' glowing (and better informed) view. The Times may be a little harsh on the Pictures at an Exhibition.

Chicks

It was a great experience, and was our first time sitting in the boxes, which definitely had a different vibe. For one thing, the boxes seat 4 or 6, so we had an musician-cum-astrodynamics programmer in town from Colorado Springs for a wedding in SoCal in the box with us. And we also chatted some with the family in the next box, doing a bit more socializing than is usual up in the benches.


Saturday, we went to the Leimert Park Book Fair. Steve Barnes and his wife Tananarive Due had a quick panel on 'Afrofuturism' with two other authors, Deborah Pratt of Quantum Leap fame, and Jodi Baker, a bubbly person with a YA series. Barnes had a good point about the snowflakes upset about 'their history' being torn down -- African Americans are commonly told to forget all about the past history of injustice and focus on the now. (Not to mention the African history and culture that may have been lost from their ancestors).

In the evening it was back to the Bowl for Tchaikovsky & Fireworks. Bramwell Tovey conducted, and he brought more of the talkative and humorous style that John Mauceri used to bring to the Bowl. They performed some works unfamiliar to me, which was interesting, since the program had been pretty set in years past. Some bits of opera and ballet, with the waltz from the Nutcracker Suite being a highlight, along with some music from Sleeping Beauty with a violin soloist. Although it didn't do much for me except in some nice passages, the Rococo Variations certainly demonstrated virtuosity on the cello. And then, of course, the 1812 overture -- with fireworks. Beautiful colors, beautifully orchestrated with the music, a really fine spectacular. The only down point, some of our nearby audience members. Dude, is your conversation world-class? Because that lady up there is giving a world-class performance and you're not paying attention (and you're distracting me). Chit-chat, camera chimes, crunching snack bags... I think the lure of fireworks brings out a different crowd.
essentialsaltes: (dead)
A post-apocalyptic story where the apocalypse is a plague that takes out most of humanity, and is more fatal among women than men, making women even rarer in the post-world. This sets up a brutal scenario with supply and demand turning women into commodities. Our unnamed medical professional manages to stay safe(r) by cross-dressing, but every interaction with others is fraught with danger. I enjoy a good 'men are pigs' story, but this one may tread a bit over the line into unintentional parody from time to time.
It also bears interesting comparisons to Earth Abides, especially with the beginning of this book set in the Bay Area. But our heroine makes her way into the Rockies, gaining and losing companions from time to time. Some of the best writing and interaction is when she lives on the outskirts of a Mormon settlement that survived slightly better than most of the world due to remoteness and isolation.
Ostensibly a journal, the book occasionally interpolates other stories that the midwife copies into it, but the work as a whole doesn't stick to this formula, to its detriment I think. Certain passages break the illusion, providing information on what's going on in other parts of the world, or giving us the unhappy story of what happens to two former companions after they part ways with the unnamed midwife.
A good read, despite my quibbles. 
essentialsaltes: (glycerol and oleic acid)
 The Long Goodbye, by Raymond Chandler

Chandler doesn't hold anything back here. Half again as convoluted as The Big Sleep, Philip Marlowe navigates his way through a Los Angeles where everyone, just everyone, is almost uniformly awful, including himself. Chandler unloads on Los Angeles and anything else he doesn't like, including alcoholic authors who hate the crap they write.

<HR>

The Puppet Masters, by Robert A. Heinlein

Alien slugs take people over, threatening the American way of life. But surely these slimy pinko collectivists can be defeated by rugged individualism and a laissez-faire attitude toward biological warfare? Surely the boy will get the girl? Spoilers: yes on both counts.

essentialsaltes: (eye)
Science journalist and umbraphile David Baron makes canny use of the upcoming solar eclipse to market this fine story of the 1878 eclipse, and the efforts of the nascent scientific power of the US to observe and record the event in what was then a pretty wild west as the path crossed from Montana Territory through Wyoming and Colorado to Texas.

Among the teams being assembled:

Simon Newcomb and Thomas Edison in Creston, Wyoming.
Samuel Pierpont Langley atop Pikes Peak. (Meteorologist Cleveland Abbe was so struck with altitude sickness, he was obliged to come down the mountain and make what sketches he could.)
Asteroid hunter James Craig Watson in Rawlins, Wyoming.
And a team of six from Vassar, including recent alumnae and astronomer Maria Mitchell, providing witting and unwitting fodder to the controversies surrounding the vote for women, and recent claims on the effects of education on women, epitomized by Clarke's ridiculous-yet-infuriating Sex in Education (1876):

 The delicate bloom, early but rapidly fading beauty, and singular pallor of American girls and women have almost passed into proverb. The first observation of a European that lands upon our shores is, that our women are a feeble race ; and, if he is a physiological observer, he is sure to add, They will give birth to a feeble race, not of women only, but of men as well. " I never saw before so many pretty girls together," said Lady Amberley to the writer, after a visit to the public schools of Boston ; and then added, "They all looked sick." Circumstances have repeatedly carried me to Europe, where I am always surprised by the red blood that fills and colors the faces of ladies and peasant girls, reminding one of the canvas of Rubens and Murillo ; and am always equally surprised on my return, by crowds of pale, bloodless female faces, that suggest consumption, scrofula, anemia, and neuralgia. To a large extent, our present system of educating girls is the cause of this palor and weakness.
...
Those grievous maladies which torture a woman's earthly existence, called leucorrhcea, amenorrhcea, dysmenorrhoea, chronic and acute ovaritis, prolapsus uteri, hysteria, neuralgia, and the like, are indirectly affected by food, clothing, and exercise ; they are directly and largely affected by the causes that will be presently pointed out, and which arise from a neglect of the peculiarities of a woman's organization. The regimen of our schools fosters this neglect.


The book does a great job setting the stage for who all the players are, and their preparations and difficulties in getting equipment (or failing to get equipment) to the middle of nowhere, with dangers ranging from Native Americans to feuds between competing railroads.

And then, of course, the event itself is all of three minutes long.

And there is what follows. The good (American science on the upswing, Mitchell drawing a crowd of more than a thousand to hear her lecture at the Woman's Congress in Providence), the bad (Edison's much-touted but not very useful tasimeter, although presaging IR astronomy), and the ugly (Watson's erroneous claim of the discovery of Vulcan, a planet within the orbit of Mercury -- his later misguided efforts to vindicate his view may have inadvertently led to his early death).


essentialsaltes: (agent)
 A Darker Shade of Magic is a rollicking fantasy yarn. Not too deep, but pleasantly put together. Four parallel earths exist, and special magicians can travel between them. Each has a version of London, but otherwise they are quite different. Grey London is fairly indistinguishable from our own -- magic is largely dead. One of the magicians is tricked into receiving a Macguffin from Black London (which has been eaten up by magic), but before he can return it (somehow) to where it belongs and can't hurt anyone, it is lifted by a lightfingered guttersnipe wannabe pirate lass. Naturally, there are other interested parties, and a violent magical chase ensues through various Londons. Good summer fun, but I doubt I'll continue the series, despite the blandishments of the publisher.
essentialsaltes: (eye)
 For Valentine's, Dr. Pookie gifted me (upon some future day) a trip to Mt. Wilson and lunch. Today was the day.

Driving up there is a lovely experience. Twisty mountain roads with great vistas. It was a bit hazy and wildfire-smoky today, but still lovely. I'm not sure it's as nice to be a passenger who does not like twisty mountain roads all alike, but so be it.

I was sorry that I did not see this sign at the Observatory. Maybe I should have asked a docent, but I expect it's long gone. I saw a number of stumps around the visitor area, and the Carnegie Institution no longer runs things...



That's Mom and Dad's Uncle Harold (Herrill?) sometime probably before me.

The astronomical museum was not all that big (Bah-DUM-bump-TISH). There's not a whole lot to do... the solar observatory was sadly closed. But it's still neat to see the 100 inch scope.

And the CHARA array is pretty cool. Light from 6 telescopes is funneled through vacuum filled pipes to be reintegrated in an interferometer. Its resolving power is such that it captured the first image of a star's surface (other than the Sun, ninny).

I'm pretty sure we got a special treat. While we were there, some sort of VIPs must have been in attendance, because they opened the observatory and rotated it a bit. (We overheard some astronomers later kvetching about it - whatever it was done for, they didn't think it was justified.)






Back down off the mountain, and we stopped off at Din Tai Fung for some excellent dumplings (soupy xiaolongbao) noodles, broccoli, and a much needed strawberry mango slushy (though the chili dog at the Observatory wasn't half bad).

All the photos. Including a video of the big observatory in motion.

Winston

Jun. 23rd, 2017 09:22 pm
essentialsaltes: (yellowstone Falls)
I'm desolated to share the news that today was the right time to say goodbye to Winston. Of our cats, he was far and away the best-dressed, most gregarious, and least intelligent.



essentialsaltes: (eye)
 Some pics of a morning walk from Echo Park to Vista Hermosa and back again.
essentialsaltes: (cthulhu)
Prey has some roots in Bioshock, and I love me some Bioshock. It even starts with kindofa callback - getting on a helicopter. Unlike the planecrash in Bioshock, the helicopter arrives safely at its destination. Or does it?

Ultimately, you find yourself on a sprawling spacestation, overrun by nasty aliens and beset by some significant maintenance issues. As the game progresses, you inject alien goo into your head to give yourself superhuman and alien powers. Nice doses of funny and scary and a thin thread of story.

<HR>



Trouble is My Business is a collection of four longer Marlowe short stories by Raymond Chandler. All good stuff, written with his characteristic verve. Golddiggers, casinos, fish-fanciers, and cops on the make, all in a Los Angeles you can still catch out of the corner of your eye when the light is just right.

There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. 


essentialsaltes: (mr. Gruff)
It came from the Christian Forums...

Moron: "a single volcanic eruption releases more polution than all of mankind has throughout our history combined"

me: False (provides evidence)

Moron: The problem is that a lot of the data surrounding human CO2 output has been based on lies and misinformation over the years, so there's really no way to affirm they are using reliable and factual data. They may be right. No way for either side to know for sure.



It must be very curious to live in a world of nebulous clouds where nothing can be known.

Luckily we are not in that position. Just as a for instance, "In 2016, about 143.37 billion gallons (or about 3.41 billion barrels1) of finished motor gasoline were consumed2 in the United States"

Very few people are using it to fill their swimming pools, so if it is combusted in motor vehicles, each gallon of fuel produces "About 19.6 pounds of CO2"

(140 billion gallons) times (20 pounds of CO2/gallon) = 2800 billion pounds = more than 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide.

From my first link, "A 2013 review attempted to estimate the annual contribution of CO2 emitted from all volcanoes (active and passive) and other tectonic sources on Earth per year, coming up with a figure of 540 megatons per year" i.e. 0.54 billion tons

So the US consumption of motor fuel alone produces more CO2 than the output of all the world's volcanoes.

This is how we can know that your original statement is just false, and there is a way to know for sure.
essentialsaltes: (eye)
I enjoyed Horizon Zero Dawn quite a bit. It looks beautiful from beginning to end, and remains challenging even as you become more and more deadly.

After the Big Whoops, the earth is covered with angry quasi-zoomorphic machines. Their half-familiar half-machine design is one of the delights of the game, I think.  Human civilization has fallen apart to the level of tribalism. As a young huntress/Chosen One, you go out and shoot them and lay snares for them, and ultimately slowly learn all the background of the Big Whoops. How all of it came to pass is a wildly implausible, but satisfying story, that you get in dribs and drabs as you progress.

Test

May. 3rd, 2017 09:37 pm
essentialsaltes: (mr. Gruff)
Content has been migrated to dreamwidth.

This is a test of crossposting to LJ.

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