Hunkered Down

Awaiting the storm - and it's a whopper by all accounts. We're right on the line of ice and snow - if the system moves a few miles south, we get 20+ inches of the white and fluffy. I never thought I'd wish for two feet of snow, but I am. Because if it stays where it is (or, gods forbid, tracks a few miles north) we get a massive dose of ice. They're talking 2 inches of icing - if that happens, we'll be without power for quite a while. Out here, that's a Bad Thing™. Two feet of snow would be a vacation by comparison.

Took me close to two hours to drive home tonight - normally it's 45 minutes. Lorraine had sheep, goats and chickens fed and eggs gathered by the time I arrived. I got the water hooked up and topped off every tank and bucket we've got, then managed to get the truck in the garage.

We're as hunkered down as we can be. Let's hope it's good enough.

20:33 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

More Kids Can Work a Smart Phone Than Tie Their Shoes

When (not if) technology fails, these kids will be up the proverbial creek without paddle. And if the massive failure of technology (war, natural disaster, peak oil, civil disturbance, etc.) takes a while to get here (which is an even bet) then today's kids will be the leaders of our society, and we'll be in trouble. Real trouble.

Is there an app for that?

A study conducted by AVG found that 19 percent of 2-5 year-olds could play with a smart phone app, but only 9 percent of those same children could tie their shoes.

(link) [Time]

09:52 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

The North of the South

Proof that truth can be stranger than fiction - history is never as tidy as we'd like.

First African Baptist Church was among the largest and best-known religious institutions in Richmond, Va., during the mid-19th century. By 1861 its congregation numbered over 3,000 — a megachurch by even 21st-century standards. A quarter of the city’s total black population, free and slave, belonged to what one white observer deemed "the largest Protestant church in the world."

(link) [New York Times]

21:48 /Home | 2 comments | permanent link

X-box Live Labels Autistic Boy a Cheater

Well, MS claims it found evidence of "tampering", but in this case I've gotta wonder. I've watched my autistic grandson play video games, and he's nothing short of amazing, no cheating required. Is this Rainman for real?

Jennifer Zdenek, the mother of an 11-year-old boy who lives with autism, is outraged at Microsoft Xbox Live for labeling her son a "cheater" and taking away everything he's earned online.

(link) [KCPQ]

21:46 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Taliban targets descendants of Alexander the Great

It would behoove anyone interested in Indo-European culture or religion to pay careful attention here. The Kalasha have survived the depredations of centuries, only to be pushed to the brink of extinction by the modern Islamic fundamentalist movement in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the last surviving Indo-European pagan religion - the lore that could be gleaned here is incalculable.

There may be little we can do directly in cases like this, but simply being aware and making others aware may at least put these folks on the radar of the big NGO's and human rights groups working in the area. And they can make a direct impact.

The group, believed to be descendants of Alexander the Great's invading army, were shielded from conservative Islam by the steep slopes of their remote valleys. While Sikhs, Hindus, and Christians were slowly driven out of Pakistan's North West Frontier Province by Muslim militants, the Kalash were free to drink their own distilled spirits and smoke cannabis. But the militant maulanas of the Taliban have finally caught up with them and declared war on their culture and heritage...

(link) [The Telegraph]

22:38 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link

GOP pushing for ISPs to record user data

And here I thought it was the Democrats who were all hot to regulate the Internet. Silly me.

The House Republicans' first major technology initiative is about to be unveiled: a push to force Internet companies to keep track of what their users are doing.

(link) [CNET]

22:25 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Are corporations people?


In a case that could erect new barriers to public access to government information, the Supreme Court this week was asked to hold that corporations have a right to "personal privacy." Fortunately, justices from across the ideological spectrum appeared skeptical that such a counter intuitive concept could be found either in the law or in a dictionary.

(link) [LA Times]

22:08 /Politics | 2 comments | permanent link

Congress Passes Socialized Medicine

A much needed history lesson...

In July of 1798, Congress passed – and President John Adams signed - “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.” The law authorized the creation of a government operated marine hospital service and mandated that privately employed sailors be required to purchase health care insurance.

(link) [Forbes]

13:06 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

How to Eliminate Crime, Hate and Lies

According to Rush Limbaugh:

If we did those three or four things, I can't tell you what a sane, calm, civil, fun-loving society we would have. Take guns out of the possession, out of the hands of liberals. Take their typewriters and their keyboards away from 'em. Don't let 'em anywhere near a gun and control their speech, and you would wipe out 90 percent of the crime, 85 to 95 percent of the hate and 100 percent of the lies from society.

Gosh - who knew? So the Right wants to take away our guns and censor our speech! I was under the impression it was the leftist, socialist, commie President who wants to take away our guns and censor our speech.

Fooled again.

via Dispatches from the Culture Wars

11:18 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

China's Hottest Cuisine

Sichuan cooking, done right, is nothing short of wonderful. And we're lucky enough to have an excellent restaurant locally. It's just down the street from my office, and my colleagues and I hold a sort of informal software/hardware engineering lunch there every Wednesday. The buffet is awesome, and the price is right too - all you can eat plus tea for $6 and change.

Sichuan food is renowned for its intense, spicy flavors, owed to the liberal use of chili peppers, numbing Sichuan peppercorn, bean paste and garlic. Westerners are familiar with versions of some classic Sichuan (also spelled Szechuan) fare—think kung pao chicken. But the cuisine features some 5,000 dishes, the vast majority seldom tasted beyond China's borders.

(link) [Wall Street Journal]

21:32 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

It's not just call centers in India anymore

This is gonna be interesting ...

Gaurav Sood is proud to work as a lawyer for some of Britain’s most prestigious companies. But he doesn’t live anywhere near London – or Britain for that matter. Mr. Sood lives more than a few countries away in one of India’s high-rise satellite cities, Gurgaon, located on the edge of New Delhi. There he works for CPA Global, an outsourcing company.

(link) [Christian Science Monitor]

09:35 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link

Overdrawn at the Memory Bank

Overdrawn at the Memory Bank VHS coverWell, I missed blogging for a day in January, after all. But I've got a good excuse! The movie I ordered last November finally arrived - after getting lost in the mail from the original vendor and refunded. I ordered it again last week, and Lo! it arrived.

We first saw this in the 80's shortly after it was released, on American Playhouse. It's based on a story by John Varley, one of our favorite SF authors, and with a screenplay by Corinne Jacker, author of The Black Flag of Anarchy, which is simply the best overview of 19th century American libertarianism available.

I loved it then, and after seeing it again, feel fully justified. The story is eerily prescient - the protagonist's personality is transferred into a computer after the corporation loses his body, where he begins to program the machine from the inside out, all the while creating his own reality based on Casablanca. The tagline is "They want to control his mind, but can't find his body!"

There's some really good actors in here, too. A young Raul Julia and Linda Griffiths are in the lead roles.

I'll grant that the movie has some really cheesy specials, but I just don't understand why it's been so roundly panned. Mystery Science Theater 3000 even featured it.

Critics be damned, I still love this movie. The writing is clever: nearly continuous fold back references to itself, the movie within the movie within the computer. Rebellion, conformity, love and politics. What hasn't this puppy got?

Well, it doesn't have a five star rating from anywhere but here, and that's OK by me. I own it, and will enjoy it many time before the tape finally wears out and I'm overdrawn at last.

22:15 /Home | 0 comments | permanent link

Fairy gardens unleash the imagination

Centuries? Try millennia at least. These are very old folk memories being evoked in decorative gardens - heathens understand the "fairies", which we know as landvaettir, are as real as we are, and still hanging around. I'm sure they're delighted (or at least amused, and hopefully not annoyed) by all this probably inadvertent attention.

What I notice immediately is the immense popularity of fairy gardens in the home garden. For centuries, mankind has been fascinated by the mystifying legend of fairies, of so-called “wee folk” who can be kind to us humans or be mean and mischievous.

(link) [Christian Science Monitor]

21:25 /Asatru | 0 comments | permanent link


Steampunk is a, a, eh....


It's something that's starting to deeply fascinate us - Lorraine and I both find ourselves attracted to it from a lot of different angles. Shiny brass fixtures. Alternate history. Period fixation - for us more Edwardian than Victorian.

I imagine we'll undertake a pilot project at some point - something we can work on together and see if we like doing it as much as we think we will. Where it goes from there...

22:33 /Home | 4 comments | permanent link

China Could Game the U.S. in Intellectual Property


The dubious Chinese patent process poses growing risks for U.S. companies, which could be forced to pay license fees or withdraw from a market left free to exploit their technologies.

(link) [Business Week]

23:26 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link