Charter Member of the Sub-Media

July 31, 2007

It's Back! « Puns »

What is?

Drive-by punning, of course.

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Posted by Nathan at 12:17 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
China and Taiwan: an Important Comparison « China/Taiwan »


Taiwan loses, flat out.

It's not even close.

On two separate visits to Taiwan, 10 days each, I was unable to find any place that served dark beer. Furthermore, Taiwan has no domestic dark beers. Even worse, their domestic lagers (light-colored, light-tasting) tasted about like Budweiser...maybe slightly better.

Compare that with Beijing:
Yanjing Beer (Beijing's local beer) is quite good. It is easily the equal of Heineken or Corona; maybe even better. Every major locality has its local beer that is pretty much as good, although Yanjing is just slightly the best I've had in China. One of the reasons for this is that when you buy beer in China, it is amazingly fresh. They had a local dark beer in Beijing that was pretty good, too.

It is even sweeter that you can buy a liter of beer in China for about $.40.

Tsingtao beer? That's the Chinese beer most Americans have heard of because it is imported here. To tell the truth, it isn't that good. What we get in the US is so old/stale, it is only slightly better than Taiwan beer. Even in China it was the worst of the local beers that I had.

Oh, and Chinese beers are better than the Philippines' San Miguel, better than Red Stripe, and better than any Japanese beer I've had.

China: the best of Asian beers.

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Posted by Nathan at 08:38 AM | Comments (354) | TrackBack (0)

July 30, 2007

ChongQing: The Chicago of China « China/Taiwan »

China has this thing about comparing various locations to more famous locations in the West.

For instance, Qingdao is China's Hawaii. Dalian is China's San Francisco. Shanghai is China's Paris (although I think China's New York might be a better comparison).

In any case, as the title says, ChongQing is now being compared to Chicago...although more in a hopeful sense, rather than with conviction.

On a side note, "Fengkuang de Shitou" ("Crazy Stone"), wonderfully complex and amusing heist film, is set in ChongQing.

For Mandarin speakers: beware! They use lots of ChongQing (Sichuan) dialect in the film. On the other hand, one of the thieves looks/acts like a Chinese Steve Buscemi!

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Posted by Nathan at 09:23 AM | Comments (34) | TrackBack (0)
Rich Kids Don't Stay Rich? « Social Issues »

Personally, I think I agree. Being raised rich doesn't require the development of the sorts of habits that allow one to retain wealth.

That's the thesis offered for your reactions.

What do you think?

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Posted by Nathan at 08:09 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

July 26, 2007

Novels Update « Writing »

I currently have 3 good stories ready to go.

1) a Fantasy war novel using my own magic system. Mainly about military self-sacrifice and resolving interpersonal problems
2) Outer space as neo-Western. Basically trying to explore why we leave the comforts of home to strike out into new frontiers, but also to explore manhood, somewhat.
3) A story based on an amalgam of the USS Pueblo and EP-3 incidents, exploring leadership and sacrifice. The original historical events will form the basis of the characters' decision-making, so it will not be a re-telling or re-creation, but a follow-on.

I had another big breakthrough in understanding how to be a writer:
It hit me that I felt afraid to continue writing after I knocked out 550 words in about half an hour on the Outer Space Neo-Western. Why? Well, I had found before that even when I mapped out where I wanted to go in the novel, I would start out fast and strong, and then get bogged down in the writing as I attempted to get to the next part I thought was interesting and important. I didn't want to just skip up there, because if I wrote all the cool parts, then things changed or didn't work well in the transitions, I'd have to re-write, or stop writing because I could resolve the problems, etc....

I finally realized that I didn't need to be afraid. Screw it. I'll write what I want, I'll write what interests me. If I just write the cool parts, I can probably write a 1-paragraph, dry narrative transition to get there. That's good enough. I'll keep writing until the story is done, whatever length it is, it is. Then I'll either send it to a magazine or to a publishing company, or an agent.

In other words, I'm going to stop trying to write novels and just see what comes out.

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Posted by Nathan at 07:59 AM | Comments (110) | TrackBack (0)

July 23, 2007

As I Was Sitting in a History Course Today... « Liberal Democrats Are on the Losing Side of History » struck me:
Liberal Democrats were wrong about the Rosenbergs. They were wrong about Algiers Hiss. They were wrong about McCarthy.

Which started me thinking:
They were wrong about Communism. They were wrong about the Soviet Union. They were wrong about Socialism. They were wrong about welfare. They were wrong about the Laffer Curve and Taxation.

They are really pushing hard to be wrong about European societal standards. They are really trying hard to be absolutely wrong about Iraq and the Global War on Terror. They are wrong about hate crimes, racial quotas, the nature of free speech, racial profiling, and politically correct speech/thought. They are wrong about educational standards/systems, and wrong about abortion.

Of course, all that's just from my perspective, so take it for what it's worth.

Still, it seems like the Democrats biggest problem is they can't get over that they've been wrong about pretty much everything since the early 1900s.

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Posted by Nathan at 08:03 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 20, 2007

Future Military Tech Development « Militaria » « Stuff Important to Me » « Writing »

Pretty cool use of technology.

It always seems like there are some developments that are always on the horizon, like flying cars. It never gets here.

But other things show up before we know it, like the internet, and MP3s, and cell phones.

From a Science Fiction writer point of view, it amazes me how much the professional writers just plain miss. Think of all the stories written in the 60s and 70s (or earlier). Not just SF stories, but normal love stories, comedies, thrillers, etc. How many movies/novels had the main portion of tension arising from lack of convenient long-distance communication? Friday the 13th couldn't really be made intelligently without addressing the prevalence of cell phones (I understand "Scream" did address that...but maybe not completely).

So in all the future looks about technology, when FTL travel and cloning have been solved, very few posit the exponential growth of computational ability. My laptop can do more than the ship's computer in Star Trek.

I'm trying to incorporate much of that in the story I'm working on now. If I finish it (and I think this one will be completed, for various reasons I don't want to discuss now), I'll look into trying to work a method of blog-publishing it for your reading pleasure in conjunction with my PayPal TipJar...

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Posted by Nathan at 10:38 AM | Comments (20) | TrackBack (0)
Truedat, Doug: « Aphorisms »
There is no security on this earth; there is only opportunity.
-- Douglas MacArthur

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Posted by Nathan at 05:53 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 19, 2007

Maybe Therapy Might Have Helped Terri Schiavo « GWOM »

Man with liquid-filled brain case has full, normal life.

A man with an unusually tiny brain managed to live an entirely normal life despite his condition, caused by a fluid buildup in his skull, French researchers reported on Thursday.

Scans of the 44-year-old man's brain showed that a huge fluid-filled chamber called a ventricle took up most of the room in his skull, leaving little more than a thin sheet of actual brain tissue.

Ironically, I saw this report at Hot Air*, whose main poster is Allahpundit. The irony is that if I recall correctly, Allahpundit was one of the main opponents of attempts to prevent Terri Schiavo from being starved to death, and often citing a near-identical fluid-filled brain as "proof" she was brain-dead.

Now, I admit that it might not have been Allahpundit who posted that headline to the Hot Air page. Or I might be wrong that he was ridiculing those attempting to save Terri's life. If so, there is no irony.

Read More "Maybe Therapy Might Have Helped Terri Schiavo" »

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Posted by Nathan at 01:54 PM | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)
A Good Example of Why I Don't Like Chen Shui-bian « China/Taiwan »

He can be counted on to instinctively do what is good for his own political fortunes, to the detriment of Taiwan's long-term good.

It is similar to how many DPP supporters get confused and equate sovereignty/independence with democracy, so that even when Chen does anti-democratic things or hypocritical actions regarding democracy/popular opinion (like saying he has no choice but follow the will of the 1,000,000 people who sign a petition for a referendum, but dismissing the will of the 1,000,000 people who wanted him to resign), they defend him in the name of "democracy".

Instead, Chen Shui-bian and Taiwan's diplomatic corps should be pushing the justifications for why more countries should unofficially support Taiwan in the same manner US and Japan do. Instead, Chen pushes for official recognition, and just burns bridges.

Idiot. Politically savvy and an expert at taking care of himself. But greedy, manipulative, corrupt, too concerned with his own legacy, and an idiot when it comes to Taiwan's long-term sovereignty needs. In that, he reminds me of former US President Clinton.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:31 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Sitemeter Hijinks Never Mind « Blogging »

Hey, ya'll!

If you use Sitemeter, did you have it stop working at some point yesterday afternoon?

Mine did. It just didn't appear on my website. I went to the site to log in, and zero hits recorded.

Something in all this made me feel like there was just a glitch, not that Sitemeter was actually down. So this morning I repasted the code somewhere else on my page. No help.

So I went into management to recopy the Sitemeter Code. When I pasted it into the site template, it was quite a bit longer than the original! When I deleted the original and reloaded the indexes, lo and behold! Sitemeter appeared on my site again.

So it would appear they changed the basic code without notifying me. If they did the same to you, well, that's what you need to do to fix it.

Update: something is up, but I'm not sure what.
The Sitemeter code for MT just doesn't work. It seems to have something to do with the server update that they said would only take a few minutes and wouldn't lose any hits. Well, mine has lost about 50 hits since yesterday. I can only fix the problem by no longer using their suggested method for MT, i.e., having a separate Sitemeter template. I just put the code directly into the sidebar now. That seems to work.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:07 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Another Example of Losing Credbility « Politics As Usual »

In this case, the poster says that the US govt is using the War on Terror as an excuse to crack down on civil liberties.

The obscenity laws are used by the Chinese authorities as a weapon to crack down on the internet, just as in the US the government uses terrorism as an excuse to erode civil liberties.

Yep, that's why Cindy Sheehan is in solitary confinement and Michael Moore has been executed for sedition.

The blogger continues:

As Oiwan herself observes:

Another gap through which political censorship can be introduced is pornography. This gap gathers the power of the state as well as the forces of religious people and fake moral politicians. So far, they have focused on gender and gay rights groups, but we must extend our battlelines in light of the court decision two days ago: the police filed charges against a netizen for posting hyperlinks to pornographic websites at a certain forum and the court arrived at a guilty verdict with a fine of HK$5,000. This is a very significant precedent for censorship.

Oiwan might be absolutely correct. But quoting her view that cracking down on pornography is an excuse to shut down political speech as evidence that China is cracking down on pornography as an excuse to shut down political speech is, well, silly.

Which brings up another question:
Why are so many ex-pats and other English-writing bloggers located in Asia afflicted with Bush/Republican Derangement Syndrome?

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Posted by Nathan at 10:10 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Chinese News Mistakes « China/Taiwan »

Just what the title says.

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Posted by Nathan at 08:05 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Nooooooooooo!!!!! « Snark »

They's Depurifying the Flamenco!!!

The tug-of-war between flamenco purists and innovators is similar to conflicts that have dogged other forms of art through the ages. In flamencos case, reports Graham Keeley of Britains Independent, the fight is complicated by questions over the dances origins, and disputes over who deserves credit for which innovations.

All is doomed. Doomed, I tell you!

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Posted by Nathan at 07:45 AM | Comments (247) | TrackBack (0)

July 18, 2007

Faith and Doctrine « Link O' Admiration »

Interesting stuff.

Pretty much accurate, from where I stand at least.

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Posted by Nathan at 02:15 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Clearly, We Need More Pirates « Link O' Admiration »

The explanation:

If you have only been listening to Al Gore, you will have missed the news that the most direct correlation between warming and anything else is the inverse of the number of pirate attacks, NOT the level of CO2 in the atmosphere.

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Posted by Nathan at 02:04 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Those Who Ignore History are Doomed to Repeat It « Militaria »

And the Brits are busily repeating the mistakes of the early Viet Nam era.

The RAF had envisioned Cold War-style missile duels between high-tech fighter jets when it drew up plans for the new Typhoon, which entered service this month. To save money, the RAF originally planned to have only missile capability on the planes, and not guns. Then, after a year of Iraq operations in 2004, the RAF changed course and decided to include the guns, evidently after concluding that closing off gun bays would be costly and impractical.

Right now, Beyond Visual Range (BVR) missiles may have an advantage over pilot/aircraft defensive capabilities. But that advantage is likely only temporary. Once all missiles are launched, an aircraft is defenseless if it doesn't have guns. And there are times that even with missiles, if the enemy is within a certain range, guns are effective when missiles cannot be fired (due to angle, friendly forces, etc).

We lost too many pilots in Viet Nam due to enemy pilot tactics to exhaust our missiles, then close to use guns. We learned from our mistake by including guns on later versions of fighter aircraft. The Brits may have avoided catastrophe by not removing the gun, but they are still flirting with disaster by not loading them, or training the pilots in air-to-air gun combat.

The discussion of strafing is more clear in the internally linked (and now linked here) Wired article, but strafing is really tangential to the issue. Guns on fighter aircraft are for dog-fighting.

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Posted by Nathan at 10:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Looking at Stats « China/Taiwan »

How many people does China execute every year?


750,000 Chinese die every year due to pollution...but is that actually a relatively low number?

Bonus questions: Does China's high capital murder number help keep China's violent crime rate low? If 1000 people are executed for violent crimes (rape, murder, aggravated assault), and the per capita murder rate is much lower than in other countries, does the correlation help justify the execution rate?
Which is worse, to be raped/murdered or executed for rape/murder by the govt? In both cases, you are dead.
Obviously, it sucks to be executed by the govt if you are innocent of the accused crime. But is it any better to be murdered for no reason? Or murdered because you stole money, got someone's husband/wife to cheat, or otherwise offended someone?

And how does this compare with the idea that 150x more people are "executed" (or "murdered") per year, simply due to pollution? What is the moral/social debt of pollution?

Is Al Gore guilty for the dozen people who die due to his use of airplanes to fly around the country preaching about global warming (no, I won't let people morph that into the less-specific "global climate change")?

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Posted by Nathan at 09:43 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 17, 2007

...Or Group "Sex" Option for Losers? « Catch-All »

Cheap way to increase crowd numbers for filming.

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Posted by Nathan at 06:50 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Another Reason to Hate "i" Products « Stuff Important to Me » if you needed another reason. They always try to take over everything they touch, just like Real Player does with your computer.

The iPhone greedily tries to dominate wireless networks.

Apple: making things suck worse one user at a time.

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Posted by Nathan at 06:28 AM | Comments (10) | TrackBack (0)
"Mules" « Jagged Alliance »

Forgive me if I posted this earlier.

I don't know why some people consider Ira to be a "mule". She learns relatively quickly with her fairly high Wisdom. Any time she's not training an area, I have her working on Marksmanship, and by day 10 she usually is closing in on 80 MRK, which is dang useful. I usually give her the first long-range rifle, sniper scope, bipod, and laser sight, and then let her take lots of head-shots. That helps pump up her MRK more quickly, too. It means sacrificing the occasional long-range hit someone like Buns or Shadow could get if they had the long-range weapon, but intelligent tactics usually kills off the bad guys without taking much damage, anyway, so getting an automatic hit on long-range shots isn't necessary. Moreover, Buns and Shadow (and Igor, once he gets past 90, which can happen by day 7-8), have a good 50%+ chance on long-range shots, too, so you aren't totally foregoing the distance kill.

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Posted by Nathan at 06:16 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 16, 2007

Cynicism « Quotes You Can Steal »

The more I understand women, the more I think that better pension plans would lead to more widows.

If that's overly cynical, I guess I'm just overly cynical.

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Posted by Nathan at 06:17 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
Just When You Thought Blowing Stuff Up Couldn't Get Any Cooler... « Militaria »

...they announce stuff like this:

Reactive Materials (RMs) generally consist of powdered metals, such as aluminum or titanium, combined with an oxidizing agent.

..."A big challenge is making [RMs] strong enough to survive launch, but fragile enough to react on impact," says Judah Goldwasser, program manager at the Office of Naval Research, which is developing RMs for potential use in antimissile systems. Instead of punching small holes in a target, Goldwasser says, RM shrapnel could cause an entire enemy missile to break up in midair.

...Part of the Army's Active Protection System program, the warhead will detonate threats at a safe distance, while possibly limiting the risk of friendly fire. (Unlike steel shrapnel, RM shards can be made to burn out quickly.)

...The Air Force is working on a warhead called BattleAxe that will shower a large area with reactive fragments, devastating "soft" targets such as trucks. Cluster bombs often leave behind dangerous unexploded munitions, but stray RM fragments are safe to handle, which would help lower civilian casualties following military operations. Accidental drops won't set RM fragments off, and they can be tossed in a fire to burn up.

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Posted by Nathan at 01:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
You've Heard of Unintentional Humor? « Link O' Admiration »

Well, this is intentional. But it is unintentionally accurate, methinks. At least, most Democratic Party platforms sound like this to me:

...former Sen. John Edwards made his most ambitious policy announcement yet at a campaign event in Iowa Monday: a promise to eliminate all unpleasant, disagreeable, or otherwise bad things from all aspects of American life by the end of his second year in office.

Via the Blogfather.

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Posted by Nathan at 12:47 PM | Comments (50) | TrackBack (0)

July 13, 2007

Global Warming? Hah. « Stuff Important to Me »

For what it's worth, this year has been slightly cooler than the previous two, here on Oahu. Or, on this part of Oahu.

Global Warmening isn't something to worry about.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:36 AM | Comments (14) | TrackBack (0)

July 12, 2007

He's Got a Point « Aphorisms »
Be braver -- you can't cross a chasm in two small jumps.
-- David Lloyd George

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Posted by Nathan at 07:05 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 10, 2007

Brainfertilizer: Always Ahead of the Curve « The Brain Fertilizer Way »

I was one of the few who never gave up on the Iraq War, even when it was fashionable to write it off. Things are turning around now, and it looks like Iraq will be stable before this decade ends.

I was also one of the minority who never bought into human-caused global warming, or the even less-specific human-caused climate change.

So why aren't the rest of you figuring out how much fun Jagged Alliance 2 is, yet? Trust me, I'm not wrong on these things, I'm just ahead of the social power curve.

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Posted by Nathan at 03:22 PM | Comments (11) | TrackBack (0)
"Worms, Roxanne! I Was Afraid of Worms!" « Stuff Important to Me »

Inexplicably, worms are not as green as once thought.


Or should that be...?


The problem is, the worms used in composting happen to emit nitrous oxide a greenhouse gas far more powerful than carbon dioxide...

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Posted by Nathan at 09:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Spam Sucks « Link O' Admiration »

Stopping spam apparently sucks even worse.

Visits to other spam-related addresses by IronPort employees led to an empty parking lot in Toronto and a London office building where the receptionist had never heard of the company name given on the Web site. MasterCard refused to reveal details about a Russian account that charged his MasterCard, beyond saying it belonged to a business called A few weeks later, he was reimbursed. MasterCard says it has ceased to process transactions for 500 fake Web pharma sites but that many of these sites reopen with a new bank and name.

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Posted by Nathan at 06:31 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
What Should Journalists Reveal About Their Private Lives? « Politics As Usual »

What should they reveal, indeed?

View #1:

The need for greater disclosure has increased, too: Recent scandals at major news organizations have diminished journalists credibility. The more open a reporter is about her life where she went to school, where she used to work and what her political views are "the less likely that readers will be suspicious of her work and motives..."

View #2:

I dont think reporters should be contributing to political causes related to the issues they cover, writes Mr. Montopoli. But there is something McCarthyesque about the idea that everything a reporter has done over the course of his life should be fodder for discrediting his work.

View #3:

The journalist should disclose to the reader the same level of personal detail that is revealed about article subjects. If they reveal marital status, income, politics, home address whatever the same should be disclosed about the journalist.

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Posted by Nathan at 06:17 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
LOL Cats « Humor »

Too Funny, some of them.

Scroll around. They's in ur belly, making u laugh.

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Posted by Nathan at 04:40 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July 06, 2007

Japanese Companies Don't Know How to Show Contrition, Either « Link O' Admiration »

Apparently, Sony VAIO Custumer Support stinks. Badly.

I'm really surprised to hear that Sony VAIO Customer Service is that amazingly bad. I thought, wrongly, it seems, that Sony's quality would be serviced by an equally quality Sony VAIO Customer Support center. That thought is in vain, because Sony VAIO Customer Support has clearly one of the worst attitudes toward customer service that I've seen in a long time.

It's really bad.

Let me say it again, Sony VAIO Customer Service is atrocious. Sony VAIO Customer Service is horrible. Sony VAIO Customer Service is terrible.

I might even say (with apologies to Monty Python fans everywhere):

Sony VAIO Customer Service has passed on! Sony VAIO Customer Service is no more! Sony VAIO Customer Service has ceased to be! Sony VAIO Customer Service has expired and gone to meet its maker! Sony VAIO Customer Service is a stiff! Bereft of life, Sony VAIO Customer Service rests in peace! If you hadn't nailed Sony VAIO Customer Service to the perch Sony VAIO Customer Service'd be pushing up the daisies! Sony VAIO Customer Service's metabolic processes are now history! Sony VAIO Customer Service is off the twig! Sony VAIO Customer Service has kicked the bucket, Sony VAIO Customer Service has shuffled off the mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin' choir invisibile!! THIS IS AN EX-Sony VAIO Customer Service!!
Read More "Japanese Companies Don't Know How to Show Contrition, Either" »

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Posted by Nathan at 01:59 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Unrepentant Japan « China/Taiwan »

People who don't like China, or people who like Japan (often the same group of people), usually take Japan's side on historical issues:
When will Japan's apologies for WWII atrocities ever be enough?!?

I'm not sure, myself. We haven't seen a true acknowledgement and apology from Japan yet.

Their elected officials constantly undermine or invalidate previous statements of regret and responsibility.

And yet, Japan never weakens in their own complaint against the U.S. The U.S. dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. 214,000 people were killed from the blast and after-effects. That number is dwarfed by the atrocities Japan committed on civilians on the Chinese mainland, and the tortures committed by Japan as they murdered Chinese civilians were deliberate, personal, slow, and widespread.

Consider what Japan did in Nanjing alone. That was one city.

Add in what Japan did to the rest of China. To Korea. To the Philippines. To Taiwan (it is inexplicable that some in Taiwan still pine for Japanese rule). And to prisoners of war.

The Yasukuni Shrine and associated Yushukan Museum claim that Japan was the victim in pre-WWII maneuverings, and had to invade/conquer the rest of Asia to keep it safe from the U.S. predations.

So when I read that the Japanese Defense Minister was forced to resign because he merely stated that he understood the atomic bombs ended the war and could probably not have been avoided, well, I find myself more than a little sympathetic to the Chinese fear of Japan's intent to return to military expansionism.

I have no sympathy for the "poor" Japanese at all.

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Posted by Nathan at 09:06 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
All I Needed to Know About Life, I Learned from Playing D&D « Humor »

In light of the popular response of the previous post, I think a review of lessons learned from playing D&D is in order:

1) If something attacks you, negotiation is useless. Some things you just have to kill.

2) Many treasure chests are trapped. Many don't even have any treasure. And some treasure chests are actually sneaky creatures evolved to look like treasure chests that will eat the unwary adventurer.

3) There is no reason to assume 9 successive fighter characters with at least 18/91 strength is a statistical impossibility.

4) Wandering monsters are a fact of life. Thus, there is no reason to be surprised when a 9-year-old is grabbed by a cougar in the Denver suburbs, or Fifi is consumed by a large, scaly amphibian that crawled out of the water trap on the 7th hole.

5) Gold is good. Platinum is even better. But the best are weapons upgrades.

6) Min-maxing is for losers. Unless you are talking about your favorite character.

...all of which seems to indicate, playing D&D teaches one to be a conservative, eh?

Anyone else got a few suggestions?

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Posted by Nathan at 06:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

July 05, 2007

Write Your Own Punchline « Link O' Admiration »

Welcome, AoS HQ readers! (Thanks for the link, Ace!)

So let's say you think the Beholder was a real animal. And you can talk forever about the advantages of a bastard sword against ring mail armor, despite not actually knowing what either one of those objects really looks like, or the proper way to use them.

Well, you may now have a place in Medieval Studies.

Medieval Studies Makes Room for Those Raised on D&D

For Dorks everywhere, this may just be your best chance to get lucky.*

Read More "Write Your Own Punchline" »

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Posted by Nathan at 12:42 PM | Comments (26) | TrackBack (0)
When Statistics Go Bad « Social Issues »
The number of women living with a husband is not equal to the number of men living with a wife, even though by definition the numbers should be equal. The gap is more than 100,000 in the New York metro area, well outside the statistical margin of error.


Census demographer Martin OConnell explained that the survey results are weighted by age, race and gender. If a 26-year-old black man is married to a 35-year-old white woman, and if 26-year-olds and blacks are underrepresented in the survey sample, then his interview may be weighted more heavily than hers. Theres no final step to make sure the number of husbands and wives is exactly equal, Mr. OConnell told me. If we did that, we would have to reweight the data again, and the data would endlessly spin around. Nonetheless, he says of the American Community Survey numbers, They are the best numbers you will ever get, any place.

That last line is the scariest, isn't it?

It all makes sense, but numbers/polls/statistics are misused more often than they are used correctly, it seems.

Non-smoothly-integrated link.

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Posted by Nathan at 11:18 AM | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
A Conservative Alternative to "Progressive" « Politics As Usual »


Attempting to create a Conservative version of

I'm not sure it's a good idea, really. I mean, was created to whitewash and minimize Bill Clinton's deliberate perjury (which itself was meant to cover his actions that resulted in grave breaches of national security), and then morphed from that into a progressive issues group.

What I'm getting at is that didn't direct or create a movement, it was the coalescing of people with similar views. Meaning it was largely spur-of-the-moment, I think, rather than a deliberate attempt to focus political force.

Another way of putting it is: Is TheVanguard attempt going to crash and burn the same way as Liberal attempts to replicate Conservative talk radio success?


Here's the link, in any case.
And here's the blog.

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Posted by Nathan at 10:11 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
10 25 A List of Things Every Adult Should be Able to Do « Social Issues »

Dr. Helen asks, What kinds of things should an adult be able to do?

As she says, her question was based on Heinlein's statement:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

Looking at the statement again, I'm fairly sure Heinlein meant it to be random listing of abilities, celebrating the diverse skills any single individual could attain within one lifetime. I don't think he really meant it to be what every adult should be able to do, because why know how to butcher a hog rather than a deer? Why should every human be able to plan an invasion or design a building? That's just silly.

And for what purpose should a human be able to do these things? Dr. Helen's additions (understand/use a gun, swim a reasonable distance, drive a stickshift, use internet/email, give a good backrub) seem to focus in on both social and literal survival. Heinlein does focus on survival somewhat, but the inclusion of being able to write a sonnet and comfort the dying emphasize that survival of the spirit is as important as survival of the body.

So I'll see Dr. Helen's bet, and raise it with a few of my own.

Here are the things I think every adult should be able to do, in no particular order:
1) Play guitar
Guitars are the most flexible, useful, easy-to-learn instruments there are. You can play all styles of music on a guitar. Being relatively light and sturdy, you can take one with you to the top of a mountain, to a party, on a plane, in your car. You can sing along easily while playing. You can play melodies, harmonize with other instruments, or play chordal accompaniment with anyting or anyone. Being able to play provides you an outlet for musical/emotional expression, even if you choose not to use it.
2) Speak a foreign language
This is vital. We are a global community now. Speaking a foreign language not only helps you understand others, but helps you to understand your own language better, as well.
3) change a diaper
4) butcher a large animal
5) sail a ship
I think learning to sail is a skill that may not be necessary to life, but makes life better. And who knows if you might need to sail a homemade raft after civilization collapses? (which is one of the reasons for many of the things on the list. You don't want life to be over just because your society's supports get knocked down)
7) Be able to use both rifle and handgun with reasonable accuracy and safety
8) Drive a stick shift
9) Swim a reasonable distance
10) Plan and balance a budget
11) Build a wall
Understand this deceptively difficult task, and you understand much about safe construction
12) Set a bone, stop the bleeding, clear the airway
13) Comfort both the dying and the family of the dying
14) Take orders, give orders, cooperate, and act alone
15) Analyze a new problem
Logical thinking and analysis is vital to having a successful life.
16) Perform manual labor
Everyone needs to know how to work.
17) Be familiar with all mainstream technologies
18) Cook several complete (tasty) meals
No one should rely on restaurants for nutrition. What's holding me back is I'm not good with vegetable dishes. I can do a few casseroles, and lots of meat dishes, several potato dishes...but not too much on veggies. Usually I just open a can, or bag of frozen stuff and heat 'em up. I don't really count that. Nor do I really count a "Meal in a box" convenience product.
19) Defend yourself from physical, verbal, and emotional attack
20) Take responsibility for bad decisions
Too many people don't, seemingly to the point of pathological inability.
21) Finish a house (I can do many finishing steps, but not all)
Not necessarily vital, but it makes life much easier if you can accomplish various minor repairs around the house. Being able to finish (flooring, minor wiring, painting, trim, etc) gives you most of those skills. Which can save you lots of money.
22) Use needle and thread
From darning socks, to replacing buttons to repairing small holes in clothes, this is a necessary skill; knitting is a good sub-skill.
23) Backpack for at least 6 miles/day for at least 4 days
You have to enjoy wilderness to really understand and enjoy your place on the planet.
24) Navigate through maps, stars, etc
People get lost, and not only end up dying, but put their loved ones through unnecessary anguish. Being able to navigate is a simple fix that prevents that problem.
25) Find water, food, and shelter in the wilderness
Pt II of #24, pretty much.
26) Make mechanical repairs to your car, including changing a tire, changing spark plugs, changing door handles, etc
27) Build a campfire that can be started with only one match
28) Know how to keep things to yourself
29) Keep all promises (corollary: don't promise what you can't deliver)
30) Forgive

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July 04, 2007

Jagged Alliance 2 Update, 4th of July Edition « Jagged Alliance »

I'm on day 9.
I've fought 37 battles, with 2 Bloodcat encounters.

My main guy is level 6, as is Shadow.
My team is now:
Me, Shadow, Barry, Buns, Dmitri, Fox, Dr. Q, Ira, Igor, MD, Maddog, and Spider. Wolf has been hired, but is in transit.

I forgot to tell you:
My original team was me, Shadow, Barry, Igor, and MD. Of course, I got Ira right after the first battle, then picked up Maddog pretty quickly afterwards on my first trip to Estoni. I got Dmitri a day after clearing Drassen, too, per normal. I stuck with those guys while I saved up to extend Shadow's contract. I was trying to hire Buns (whom you have to get before Fox; if you get Fox first, Buns won't work for you), but Buns was unavailable due to being "on assignment" (just a little detail the game has to increase verisimilitude and increase the challenge somewhat). So I hired Spider first. By that time, I had enough money, and had just taken Cambria so had enough income to add to it, that I was able to hire the rest in quick succession, over less than 30 hours. I'll probably stick with this crew for a while, until after I add Shank and Dynamo.

I decided to go without takes so long to get her to a good marksmanship, and despite having teaching skill, her leadership is so low that she's not much help. Her lack of strength really slows things down. Even if you work hard to get her up to 70+ Marksmanship and 30+ Leadership and 70+ Strength (which you won't get to until the game is 85% done and all you have left is Meduna), her Dexterity and Agility are still woefully lacking. On top of horrible Health. Not worth it. At least Ira has good Dexterity, adequate Leadership, and useful Medical from the beginning, to go with her horrible Marksmanship and weak Strength. Her Agility and Health are below average, yes, but not horrible. And she seems to learn faster than Flo anyway.

I don't know why people consider Ira a "mule" (only good for carrying stuff around and other non-combat functions, like healing and training). She learns to shoot well pretty fast. Load her up with a long-distance-weapon and let her have the first scope and laser sight. You won't get the easy hits you'd get by giving it to someone like Buns or Shadow, no...but it helps her improve rapidly, especially if you don't use her as a distant sniper as much as just a regular fighter, making sure you give her lots of easy 'head shots', which raise Marksmanship faster.

I haven't decided what to do with Shank yet. Let him die off quickly (like Hamous) once he arranges the gas in Estoni, or continue to try to improve him. His Wisdom is so low, and he has all the same problems of general low stats as Flo. But he is good with throwing knives, and I've had a few battles where I was able to kill the first 4-5 guys just with thrown knives (in the later stages of the last time I played, before starting over with this crowd). I didn't let Hamous die deliberately this time, and I don't think I'll let Shank die, either. I don't want to play so cold-bloodedly, and maybe he will be useful as my first real 'mule', until his Marksmanship is good enough to make knife throwing useful.

We'll see.

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July 03, 2007

Improving Leadership/Management « Parenting/Leadership 101 »

The BBC says that movies are better for teaching management than books (note: link does not go to BBC, but rather an article about the BBC article.

I think that's pretty accurate, actually. If you want to change something in yourself, if you want to learn a new technique that mainly involves personal interactions (meaning, how you present yourself, your words, your body language, etc, is as important as what you want to communicate; i.e., the medium is the message), it is far better to watch people being effective than to read about it.

Modeling is better than explaining for performance-based skills.

I've watched several movies that have helped me be a better leader. When you see someone sacrificing their own personal interest to accomplish the corporate (unit/national) goals, it makes it easier for you to do the same thing in a stressful/crisis situation.

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July 02, 2007

The Death of Newspapers Affecting Cartoonists « Politics As Usual »

Cartoonists are having to adapt, or (have their career) die.

There are about 80 full-time cartoonists employed by leading metro dailies, down from around 200 20 years ago...

Chris Muir's Day By Day finally earned Dead-Tree Journalism syndication; will it be only a temporary move?

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And Now for Something Completely Different « Link O' Admiration »

Some people with too much time on their hands, probably due to not ever being able to get a date.

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July 01, 2007

Surreal « Link O' Admiration »

Obligatory training montage.


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