1.30.2008

musings { Life, the Universe, Everything, Redux

We are, will be and have been.

Matter is a state of energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transformed.

So in essence we have been since the beginning of time, and we will be until the end. We may not have existed as this collection of matter and organic systems, gifted with some spark of self awareness (just another pattern of energy?), for very long, but a part of us is immortal.

These are the things I think of on the bus after having vivid dreams caused by a deep sleep that only a half-bottle of wine and some bourbon can create.

On the ride home my mind, still processing after images of the previous nights dream, one very vivid, but set in the past, where those who I know are dead were counseling me on the nature of things. The specifics are lost, but the images remain. What was strange was everyone in my dream were people very dear to me and who are no longer. As I was sifting this on the bus my mind wandered to death. Not in an emo/goth 'life is pain and darkness' way but more of a philosopher's thoughts on the subject. What happens when we die? Were we before we were born? Is this it? Why are we granted a brief existence upon which to collect experiences, only to be terminated.

Many religions claim to have answers for this, some say we will be reincarnated. Others that we will transcend. Some depending upon the content of our life will go to other places (heaven/hell). They could be merely more theological descriptions of the conservation of matter and energy. Or they could merely be constructs created to try and give some meaning to something. I don't subscribe to the concept that a Heaven or a Hell exist, but I can see how some can find comfort in believing there is an afterlife, otherwise the concept that there is an end to this life could be a bit overwhelming.

I don't know what exists postmortem. As our organic systems stops functioning, what we know as consciousness ceases. But it is not the end of us. Not if looked from the perspective of physics and chemistry. Much like the pieces of physical matter that makes up what we are came from the furnaces of stars, what we become after death is a return to that state. Matter is a waveform of energy. When we die, our consciousness as we know it ends, but because we are matter and energy, it is not destroyed, it is transformed. In a sense, we return back to what we were before we were coalesced into a meat bag of organic systems. Our spark, our waveform of chaotic energy merges, transforms, back into the harmony of the celestial choir that is maintaining the wave pattern of existence.

That said however, I'd like to continue collecting experiences and retain the ability to contemplate this subject in my current frame of reference and condensed state.

1.26.2008

warcraft { Unbelievable






Conventional wisdom in World of Warcraft says you can't "PUG" (pickup group) "KZ" (Karazhan, a raid instance). Well I was in a PUG that did...and we cleared 8/10 (not counting the basement 'starter' bosses) of the bosses in under six hours. See the screen shots (First one is Prince, second is Nightbane).

Bosses downed:
Attumen and Midnight (down on first attempt)
Morose (down on first attempt)
Maiden (down on first attempt)
Opera Event (Wizard of Oz, down on first attempt, 4m50s)
Nightbane (summonable boss, 3 attempts until down)
Curator (down on first attempt)
Shade of Aran (2 attempts then down)
Chess Event (down on first attempt)
Prince Mechanzaar (2 attempts then down)
Netherspite (1 attempt, was able to bring down to 30% and then had to call it)

We didn't have time to try Illhoof. We also skipped the basement 'starter' bosses.

The raid group here:


I picked me up some professor plums (including 1 T4 piece). I had a chance at the helm (which is what I truly want) but lost the roll fair and square. So I will have to try again, or go for the Season 1 helm that looks the same, but is not as cool in coloration. Here's what I picked up (in addition to about 40g in coin and vendor trash):

[Gloves of the Fallen Champion]
[Helm of the Fallen Champion] (what I missed :( )
[Badges of Justice] x18
[Gloves of Dexterous Manipulation]
[Girdle of Treachery]


1.25.2008

casual_friday { Distant places call my name

'Walk This World' - Heather Nova


'Wanderlust' - The Delays

1.22.2008

image { Uh...yeah...

gaming { QQ more Alliance, your tears sustain me

Seriously, get over it. Since the 2.3 changes in Alterac Valley your outdated zerg mentality no longer works. You complain about map imbalances, however you told us to go fuck ourselves and 'QQ moar' back when 3/4 of the Horde raid was AFK and the only way to win was defeat the general. You had no qualms about how Stormpike was laid out. You know why we win? We usually have a dedicated 15-20 on defense. We also have people going after the mines (both ours and yours). I rarely see Alliance on defense except when we chokehold you at Stonehearth. You can no longer be all offense nor can you no longer be all defense. Your days of easy honor farming us are over. Adapt. We did. Yeah our queues have gone up, but to me thats ok. I can play EotS and AB in between waiting for the timer to pop. You're like children, can't use your one-trick pony anymore and you quit playing.

Here's how the new AV works:

1. You win by depleting reinforcements. Not by killing the main boss anymore. Reinforcements are drained by capping towers, killing other players, and knocking out the captains and leaders.

2. Mines help lessen the reinforcement drain. Although its really annoying the bug where if you cap the Irondeep Mine first, even if we take it, its still flagged Alliance.

3. Defense. Gotta have it. Have to know how to use the map to its fullest. Instead of zerg rushing Snowfall, why not try and send some to SF and the rest stop our attempt at Stonehearth? You drive for Iceblood, and we often initially lose it, but we can generally take it back because we keep enough on D (usually).

1.17.2008

gaming { Pernox has a posse



Pernox, 5'10", Undead, co-GM, has a posse.

musings { Dr. Who was Bohemian


Especially during the Tom Baker years.

Bohemian:


The term Bohemians has two distinct meanings, having little to do with each other - one refers to the people of Bohemia, in the Czech Republic, the other can describe any person who lives an unconventional artistic life.



The Doctor traveled the universe. Rarely alone, always pulling along a rag tag group of companions. Some female, some male, some robotic. He had an outlook on life I think summed up best with this quote from "The Time Monster", "Brigadier, a straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting." Wherever he went, there he was. Its was all cool. Usually for story reasons there was some evil that needed to be stopped and some problem to be solved. But the Doctor was always excited and always curious about where (and when) he was. Even when others were trying to kill him, he managed to befriend or sway someone (yeah I know for plot mechanics) to chill. The Doctor was well traveled, worldly, incredibly intelligent, agnostic, analytical and tolerant. He was an island of calm in a sea of fiery passion of his companions and his surroundings. He was an ideal. Something we, especially in these times, could learn from and there are worse to emulate.

('Bohemian Like You', Dandy Warhols, NSFW; contains nudity, both male and female)

casual_friday { Tomorrow my schedule will be busy

So casual Friday today!

Uh, yeah, I am a Scientist...

'Scientist', Dandy Warhols

1.15.2008

politics { Reminder: MN Caucus date is now Feb 5, 2008 @ 7pm

Find your precinct here.

liberty { Polish your tinfoil hats

Saw this on Norweiganity, then checked around to confirm the Raw Story article because I couldn't believe it. But the New Yorker is reporting it. I don't know why I'm surprised, they're just escalating the further erosion of privacy.

P.S. Representative Walz, this is exactly the kind of thing you're supposed to keep an eye out for and curb as a function of the checks and balances of our form of government.


Each branch is able to place specified restraints on the powers exerted by the other branches.[8] The federal government refers to the branches as "branches of government", while some systems use "government" to describe the executive.

[edit] Checks and balances

To prevent one branch from becoming supreme, and to induce the branches to cooperate, governance systems employing a separation of powers typically are created with a system of "checks and balances", a term which, like separation of powers itself, is specifically credited to Montesquieu. Checks and balances refers to the various procedural rules that allow one branch to limit another, such as the authority of the president to veto legislation passed by Congress, or the power of Congress to alter the composition and jurisdiction of the federal courts.

Legistlative:
* Writes and enacts laws
* Enacts taxes, authorizes borrowing, and sets the budget
* Has sole power to declare war
* May start investigations, especially against the executive branch

* Often appoints the heads of the executive branch
* Sometimes appoints judges
* Ratifies treaties

Executive [soon to become the imperial -geistx]:
* May veto laws
* May refuse to spend money allocated for certain purposes
* Wages war (has operational command of the military)
* Makes decrees or declarations (for example, declaring a state of emergency) and promulgates lawful regulations and executive orders
* Often appoints judges
* Has power to grant pardons to convicted criminals

Judicial:
* Determines which laws apply to any given case
* Determines whether a law is unconstitutional
* Has sole power to interpret the law and to apply it to particular disputes
* May nullify laws that conflict with a more important law or constitution
* Determines the disposition of prisoners
* Has power to compel testimony and the production of evidence
* Enforces uniform policies in a top-down fashion via the appeals process, but gives discretion in individual cases to low-level judges. (The amount of discretion depends upon the standard of review, determined by the type of case in question.)
* Polices its own members
* Is frequently immune to arbitrary dismissal by other branches


But Representative Walz, you are not alone, the Media (aka Fourth Branch aka Media-ocrity) is also falling down on the job.

1.11.2008

politics { Bush coins

casual_friday { "Some one told me long ago..."

I originally was going to post 'Road to Peace' by Tom Waits in honor of the Middle East peace talks, but its a sad song, for sad times. So instead I opt for CCR.

'Have You Ever Seen the Rain' - CCR

1.10.2008

tech/energy/science { If this is true, it would be so cool

Sunlight to Petrol. Reverse conversion of CO2 into fuel.

Seems like Science Fiction, but I hope it actually works, the chemical catalyst process seems sound. It will also be the closest to closing the loop as we have come so far.

I also don't think it will 15-20 years out, unless the big energy consortiums stymie this like they've done to other alternative energy research. If they were smart, they would adopt and fund this (which in turn could bring a viable large scale implementation reality in probably under a decade) and do as suggested by starting with these systems installed into existing power producing facilities to reclaim CO2 for recycling. Then expand it into a system that reclaim excess (and note I said excess) CO2 levels from the atmosphere.

Projecting this ahead, my concerns would be that if someone had developed an efficient removal process to scrub the CO2 from the air, how would it impact plant life? Would we, ironically, cool the planet too fast? We would have to strike a balance, which can be problematic with profit driven entities.

But, I like this idea, it will be a good bridging technology to help extend what resources we have and buy us some more time to develop better renewable and alternative energy sources.

1.09.2008

politics/health { Woo! We rank last!

Saw this on GG Rhaposdy. Much like her, I'm not surprised by it.

Yahoo/AP article ranks us dead last in health care among industrialized nations. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it capitalism!


The 19 countries, in order of best to worst, were: France, Japan, Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Some countries showed dramatic improvement in the periods studied -- 1997 and 1998 and again between 2002 and 2003 -- outpacing the United States, which showed only slight improvement.


This is a hot button topic among both halves of my family and with my in-laws. They believe the pablum that we have the best health care in the world because we spend the most. This reinforced with a few Canadians they've met who have spouted the 'people die waiting for chemo' line that is about as true as Regan's 'welfare queen'. But we're not the best. Sure we may have advanced technologies or education, but what good does that do when it can't benefit the most people? Too many in this country can't afford health care and if they can, and they use it, they go bankrupt. How can this be best for society? I racked up $250k in medical bills in 2002 when I had AML. We had to pay around $5k and insurance covered the rest. We had good health insurance. But I can't get my own policy now as an individual because, since I've had cancer, I'm high risk and no company will insure me individually, I can only get insurance through a group policy (and even then, the company that managed my old employer's health insurance tried to get me dropped which is against the law). When I was 20, I had a kidney stone, it was large and had to be removed because it was stuck. $25k in medical bills. I was a student and I had no insurance and no money. I couldn't afford the medical bills. Luckily MN at the time had MNCare, a superset state program that rode on top of other gov't aid like Medicare. It covered me, it helped me pay my medical bills, and have other things done that I couldn't afford such as getting my teeth checked and my eyes checked (and help me buy new glasses). How it worked was you applied for it and if you met the criteria, it would cover you for six months. When I was even younger my family was below the poverty line. We relied on MNCare to help us with medical problems, such as the time I was hit in the head near the temple with a baseball and had a concussion. This was 20 years ago, we had better health coverage (and backup emergency health care aid) than we do now in 2008. I think most people want health care coverage, one that covers all. But many people in this country are greedy or don't want to pay the taxes for the common good of all (yes we would need to pay taxes to fund a socialized medical program). This really isn't that different from other services that benefit all and are in fact socialized, such as police, fire departments, education, Social Security. Why are we so hung up on this benefit to society?

A good example of something that became better when it became a social service was the fire department. Once upon a time fire departments were private companies and you bought coverage from them. This meant if a fire started in your neighborhood and spread, many or no fire departments would respond based on who had coverage. And if they did respond, they would only help those who had their coverage, the rest would burn. This is a good analogy for our health care and why we should have it socialized. Why sit and watch your neighbors house burn, when a system that saves all the houses could exist?

1.08.2008

politics { City Pages on last week in Iowa

I was skimming through my headlines in my RSS feeder when this caught my eye:


Every four years, Iowa transforms from an inconspicuous little rural state into a veritable clusterfuck of egomaniacal presidential candidates and predatory media types. Generally a shy, unassuming people, Iowans regard the hubbub with a mix of bemusement and awkward hesitancy. They're more familiar with the fertilizing qualities of hog crap than with the squalid contents of political bullshit. Also, their pale skin tends to burn in the spotlight.


From this City Pages article. The article goes on from there. Give it a read, it made me laugh, it made me cry. I won't rehash my feelings on Iowa or New Hampshire, I did that here.

nugget

1.07.2008

review { The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

or

A Close Shave!

or actually

Sweeney Todd

Synopsis: Feel good holiday movie for the whole family. A nonstop roller coaster of sensational proportions. Musical styling to kick 'Cats' in the balls. Edge of your seat whirlwind of barbarous fury whose cake is iced with a climactic ending. Well ok, the synopsis actually is a barber gets the shaft and seeks revenge.

Overall rating: A

One sentence review: This lyric sums it up, "There's a hole in the world like a great black pit and the vermin of the world inhabit it and its morals aren't worth what a pig could spit and it goes by the name of London."

Johnny Depp was brilliant in this movie.

Tim Burton should not be allowed near kids.

musings { It can't be magic all the time

I've been sitting in my office this afternoon sipping some chamomile tea contemplating a myriad of things while I wait for something to finish. I can't seem to think about only one topic and I sort of unhinge my mind and let it flow like a torrent of water over rocks and go where it may. It often results in many unrelated verbal outbursts as my mind does an esoteric six degrees of Kevin Bacon leap from one topic to another in a pattern that only makes sense to the internal filing cabinet of my conscious/sub-conscious. Anyways. One of the blips past the screen of conscious that occurred was a thought regarding the moments in life that you wish wouldn't end. Things like a really great conversation with a friend, my first kiss to my wife, things that can honestly be summed up as happy times, periods of an in-the-moment where for a brief period the world isn't so bad, you are in step with life, and there are honestly, truly no complaints. Those moments are infrequent for me. I've been an unhappy, cynical, person for a large chunk of my life, always feeling out of step, out of the moment, somewhere else. My thoughts once the blip was noticed ran a quick, what I call mental decision/exploration tree of possibilities. One branch was "what if these moments could last forever?" Conclusion, if they were the norm then they would not be memorable or magical. Like Christmas everyday (speaking of Christmas everyday, watch the first video on this link).

I do miss those late nights at Perkins and various coffeehouses when I was still in college, and sporadically after I left where my friends and I saw the sun set and watched it rise again engaged in all night discussion (Allthingspring and I used to do this quite often). When Nerdwife first started graduate school many of the first years congregated every Monday night at a local pub for 'Mystery Beer Night' where expensive beer was $2 and you chose which beer by pulling a name out of a bucket. Those were good times and often went late. But, like the late night conversations with friends, they trickled away. We changed, things changed, the situation changed. Life moved on, got in the way, or shifted. But because these don't happen all the time, they have become milestones on the time line of my life that stand out. I miss those days, but I won't try to bring them back, they happened by chance or random and were gems of the unpredictability of the future. I won't live in those days anymore either, as there are new ones that need to be made.

We are all in a state of flux.

('Flux', Bloc Party)

flowchart { Flowchart of life?

music { 'Thuggy Stardust'

Saw this on BoingBoing. Hip-Hop meets Glam Rock. (NSFW)



I downloaded the album and I like it!

politics { Kung-Fu Election


Check it out! Use your candidates mad kung-fu skillz to determine the outcome of the next election!

1.01.2008

review { CSI: Predator

aka 'Alien vs Predator: Requiem'



synopsis: Movie picks up where the previous AvP movie left off, but this time the body count is higher.

One line review: Two great tastes that taste great together -or- Colorado town gets eaten, news at 11.

This is not a great movie, but I was entertained. More glimpses into the Predator technology and culture. I called it 'CSI: Predator' because the Predator in the movie comes to earth to clean up a mess they created when their ship crashes back on earth after the Predalien (the thing that burst from the chest of the dead Predator at the end of the last movie) kills the crew and uses a variety of Predator forensic techniques to track down the troublesome pests. Hippies die, blond bimbos get crucified, bullies get skinned, hobos get eaten like beans. Superfluous love story exists but is more along the lines of sexual tension than overt distraction from the killing (like 30 Days of Night). I would also like to point out all the references in style, setting, or dialog to previous movies. They're little nuggets dispersed throughout.

Overall rating: B

Nerdwife review: At first, I wondered why this movie wasn't subtitled "All monsters attack," but I rapidly discovered such a title would have given away the entirety of the plot. This movie has fewer pretenses to Predator "culture" and Alien "biology" than the last- this is the storyless, bloody free-for-all that the first movie wanted to be. I'm sad to report my strategic predrinking was insufficient in quantity or accompanying substances to render me amnesic, but perhaps this review can save others.

Overall rating: D