Happy Halloween!

In honor of the greatest holiday, like, ever, I’d like to share up a few creepy pictures I’ve come across recently.

creepyclown

Clowns are creepy enough as it is, but this one weirds me out something fierce.

HalloweenGuaze

I think they used to use guaze of some sort or another back in the day to take pictures of “ghosts.”

Nightmares

I think there’s actually a short story in here somewhere.  I’ve always wanted to try my hand at a horror story and I can see some mad scientist trying to find a way to make nightmares even more frightening.

1410491741787

This one’s been desktop wallpaper most of the month.  Not scary, and more appropriate for Dia De Los Muertos, but I thought it was dope.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

Midterms and Muslims

This post may rankle a few feathers, but you know what?

I'm okay

It’s midterm election season and the mud is slinging fast and furious here in Albuquerque.  In my district, we’ve got a showdown between the Democratic Destructor Bob Coffey and the Republican Revenge Machine Nate Gentry.  Both of them have peppered our house and mail with attack ads of all stripes, demonizing the opposition.  According to the campaign literature I’ve been getting Bob will increase my taxes to give violent drug addicts better access to cable television and Nate is going to eat every tenth child on national TV.

Such is American politics these days that I have to do a ton of research on these guy to figure out what they actually want to do.  Their campaign literature only tells me what horrible things the other guy is doing that this guy definitely won’t do.  Great.  Nate won’t tax the hell out of me and Bob won’t eat children.  There’s some stuff about education in there, too, but it’s nebulous.  Both of them are going to fix education.  Somehow.  Don’t question it.

Normally, I get campaign literature ads and they go straight from the mailbox to the recycling bin (yes, I recycle, what of it?), but I got one from Nate’s campaign that actually made me laugh out loud.  It was a beautifully printed 8.5×11 double-sided, full-color ad on heavy card stock.  The damned thing must have cost a fortune to print.  On the front, in big type was “They’re not coming for the Balloon Fiesta.”  This is fine by me.  For the folks who are unfamiliar with Albuquerque, we host a big balloon party every October and a short-ton of people show up and fly balloons.  The balloons crash or drift over Kirtland Air Force Base and the Air Force threatens to shoot them down.  People drive really slowly, watching the pretty colors and shapes, and accidents increase exponentially.  You can also get up at 4am and join 100,000 of your closest friends on the launch field and eat $9 breakfast burritos.  A good time can be had by all.

So, anyway.  “They’re not coming for the Balloon Fiesta” is on the front.  Flip it over and I find “They’re coming for our drivers licenses.”

I wonder if they’re coming for our women, too.  I also wonder who “they” are.

mars_needs_women__by_mackie85-d5l1z16

Turns out “they” are illegal immigrants.  It’s funny, I thought illegal immigrants were taking our jobs, but it turns out they’re taking our drivers’ licences, too.  So, the logic here is something, something, driver’s licenses, bam! we’re all broke and speaking Spanish.  Oh, and they’ll probably take our women, too.  And it will all be Bob Coffee’s fault.

Oh, and Nate Gentry is a criminal or something.  I had kind of assumed he was a criminal.  He is a politician, after all.

Texas is having it’s fun with midterms, too.  Up for grabs is the lieutenant gubernatorial position and seeking that esteemed post is one Dan Patrick.  I don’t know much about Dan Patrick and really don’t care.  What he does in Texas is up to the Texans, so if they’re cool with him, that’s cool with me.  He has, however, echoed a recently evolving meme in political discourse: Secure the borders because Islam.  Or, to quote him directly:

While ISIS terrorists threaten to cross our border and kill Americans, my opponent falsely attacks me to hide her failed record on illegal immigration.”

ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), in case you’ve been living on Mars, in a cave, with your fingers in your ears, is the group running around the Middle East raping and executing other Muslims for not being Muslim enough.   They’re filthy bastards and deserve the worst the world can throw at them, but last I heard they weren’t trying to cross the border into Texas to continue their mad quest for power.  It would seem Patrick’s logic follows from the fact that someone found a Urdu dictionary on coyote, or at least he wants us to believe that.  Never mind the fact that Urdu is the native language of Pakistani and Indian Muslims and most of the nutters in ISIS would be speaking Arabic.  Fun fact, by the way: India has the second largest Muslim population on the planet at about 142 million people and very few of them have become radicalized.  So, being Muslim does not necessarily mean someone’s going to detonate themselves in a coffee shop.  Of course, it’s easier for most people if we just go right ahead and say Muslim equals terrorist even if it’s not the truth.  Then we can use terms like ‘radicalized’ to further demonize the enemy.

Radicalized.  There’s a term for you.  This is the term that’s been applied to groups like Al Qaeda, Boko Haram, and ISIS to denote that they’ve gone from being happy-go-lucky guys to a bunch of people with a strict view of their religion and a willingness to kill to enforce it.

This is where things start to get ugly and dangerous.  I don’t think ISIS has its sights set on Texas, and the Texans would crush them in a heartbeat, anyway, so breathe easy.  Dan Patrick, whose past experience as a sportscaster give him mad skills in the political arena, can rest easy knowing his fellow Texans would stomp the ever loving crap out of any invading militants, especially since there really isn’t any evidence for an invasion.

What should frighten you is this: there is a slow incursion of radical thought into the United States and Canada and there’s not a damned thing you or anyone else can do about it.  The message is out there and some people are already picking it up and running with it.  It’s an idea based on hatred and fear that promises identity for those who can’t make one on their own.  All someone has to do is take up arms against people that haven’t done a damned thing to you, be it America or (recently) Canada.  That right there should tell you some of these people are crazy.  Seriously, who hates the Canadians?  Hating the Canadians is like hating Mr. Rogers.  Two separate sets of people in Colorado have recently decided to travel to Syria to join ISIS in the fight for, well, whatever it is that they’re fighting for.  More radicals in governance, I guess.  The guy in Oklahoma who beheaded a former coworker after he was fired had recently converted to Islam.  The guy who shot up Canada last week?  Muslim convert.

Now, I don’t think every Muslim is out there secretly planning a new caliphate.  I’ve had a handful of friends and acquaintances who were Muslim and they were generally pretty cool people.  My point here is we don’t have to worry about foreign fighters coming to American soil to do their dirty deeds, all they have to do is put the message out there and let the idea take hold.  And it is taking hold.  You can secure the borders eight ways to Sunday and not stop that because you can’t block an idea with a fence and drone strikes.

So, mark my words: the next election cycle will find a way to weave militant insurgents into the narrative as an excuse to seal the borders.  The whole “they’re taking our jobs” message didn’t stick, so someone will find a way to up the ante and keep everyone afraid.  Now it’s not just our jobs at stake, it’s our lives.  And probably our women, too.

The future is sexy and terrifying

Quite some time ago, probably 15 or 20 years now, Scott Adams posted a Dilbert comic about virtual reality.  His take on it was this: once virtual reality becomes cheaper than dating, the human race is doomed.  The final panel showed Dogbert telling some woman that Dilbert had been in the holodeck since March.

At the time, the Internet was still a nascent thing.  It was slow, unreliable, and filled with Star Wars scripts, Geocities websites, and ASCII porn.  Fun fact: I had a Geocities page.

Flash forward to 2014 and you’ll find the Internet is a very different experience.  Speeds are many orders of magnitude faster than they were in the mid to late 90s.  When I moved to Albuquerque in ’98, my computer had a 33.6 kb/s modem.  It wasn’t the fastest thing on the planet but it was better than my old 14.4 kb/s modem.  At that time the fastest modem on the market was 56 kb/s.  Unless you were at work (where you’d usually get a T1 with a whopping 1.544 mb/s link), that was the Internet at the time.  Ungodly slow and it tied up your phone line at the same time.  Now 50mb/s down and 5mb/s up is pretty common.  If you live in a good place, you might be able to get Google fiber.

So, speeds are way up, processing power is way up and interfaces are changing.  Last year I picked up a Leap Motion controller which I can use to control my computer by waving my hands around.  Oculus Rift is coming and a whole host of VR immersion devices are coming along with it..  Apparently some of the new VR tech is amazeballs.

Predictably, all this VR tech will eventually be used for porn.  The Daily Beast just did an article on it and, I have to admit, it sounds super cool, but they’re missing the long term – and long distance – view.  So far, people are looking at VR porn as a single user thing, but there’s so much more you can do with it.  Living in a long-distance relationship and want a little nookie?  In the past you were SOL.  Now you can sext each other and even use some remote control gadgets.  In the future, you’ll be able to put on your goggles, connect to each other over the Internet, and have some sexy time without any need for a bus trip.

Of course, there’s a downside to this.

Some people will call me cynical, and I won’t debate that.  The technology to have sex with your SO long distance will happen, it’s just a matter of time.  The problem is I guarantee you there’s someone out there who will turn the technology into something terrifying.  Think celebrity phone hacking was bad, wait until someone hacks their remote sex session.

Imagine you’re busy getting down with your bestie and their avatar turns into a cactus with an afro holding a sign saying “Pool’s closed due to AIDS” and you’ve got an idea of what will happen.

Now, I’m not saying we should avoid tech like this.  It would be awesome.  I just hope the AV companies are up to the coming task.

Yikes

The sequel to Henchmen will be called Arise rather than Henchmen: Arise.  The compound title just didn’t work for me.  That story is done, edited, changed, edited, modified, edited, and pretty much ready to go.  I’ve got one guy still doing a beta read and I’d like his input before I publish, so I’m holding off for the time being.  I’m pleased with the way it turned out, but knowing me I’ll make another pass or two through it before I publish.

After I was mostly done with Arise I looked back through Henchmen, looking for some bit of trivia I had forgotten and was thoroughly disgusted at what  I found.  There are some good moments in that novel, but damn, the intro sucks ass.  So, since Arise is coming out I decided to do some clean up on Henchmen.

I’ve been doing clean up for nearly a month now.  It’s got a whole new first chapter, huge parts of the second and third chapters have been stripped out or rewritten (or both).  I hadn’t really doubted it, but some of the criticisms I got were spot on: takes to long to get started and is very ambiguous about the formation of the group.  It starts with more of a bang now, there’s more interaction between the characters, less exposition, and generally more reasons why things are happening.

I’m tentatively targeting late November for re release of Henchmen and release of Arise.

I hate Sundays and Wednesdays

Recently I broke my workouts into two distinct sections so I could focus more on each of them.  I had been mixing weights and cardio and, to an extent, still do, but I’ve got really limited time most of the week and felt I needed more time to dedicate to lifting and it wouldn’t hurt to expand my cardio workout.  So, now Mondays and Fridays are weights with running in between each set and Sundays and Wednesdays focus more on cardio with limited weights.  The Monday and Friday workouts are easier in a way, and I usually look forward to them more, but the Sunday and Wednesday workouts are where the rubber really hits the road and I walk out of the gym completely wiped out.

The cardio workout largely consists of heavy bag training with body weight exercises tossed in for good effect.

Set 1:

  • 10 jumping lunges
  • 4 minutes heavy bag work
  • 15 squats with two 25 lb kettle bells
  • 25 push-ups
  • 25 sit-ups
  • 1 minute rest

Set 2:

  • 10 jumping lunges
  • 4 minutes heavy bag work
  • 15 squats with two 25 lb kettle bells
  • 25 push-ups
  • 30 seconds leg lifts
  • 1 minute rest

Set 3:

  • 4 minutes heavy bag work
  • 2 1/2 minutes planking (30 seconds push-up plank, 30 seconds elbow plank, 30 seconds left side plank, 30 seconds right side plank, 30 seconds push-up plank)
  • 1 minute rest

Set 4:

  • 10 jumping lunges
  • 4 minutes heavy bag work
  • 15 squats with two 25 lb kettle bells
  • 25 push-ups
  • 25 sit-ups
  • 1 minute rest

Set 5:

  • 10 jumping lunges
  • 4 minutes heavy bag work
  • 15 squats with two 25 lb kettle bells
  • 25 push-ups
  • 30 seconds leg lifts
  • collapse

I guess the upshot to the whole process is I’ve developed a killer punch and am getting a decent 1 inch punch as well.  I can usually hit a moving bag with a spinning back kick now, and can nearly bend the bag in half if I hit just right with a wheel kick (most styles call it a roundhouse kick, Kenpo calls it a wheel kick for some reason).  I’ve also managed to get some power into my crescent kicks.

The downside is I’m really tired right now.

The heavy bag work is 4 minutes of continual bobbing, weaving, moving, punching and kicking.  Any attack is good so long as there’s minimal downtime.  Pretty soon I’m going to have to increase my kettle bell weights and heavy bag time.

Not looking forward to that day.

x+y != z, ((x(n-1) + y(n-1)) * 2pir / i \approx \!\ z

The other day I saw one of those inane marriage = one man + one woman stickers that was all dolled up to make it look like it was mathematical, because being all mathematical makes it look legit.  You know, this one:

marriage_equals_one_man_and_one_woman_oval_sticker

After shaking my head quietly, I started to wonder if there was some mathematical description of human pairing and, since I’m not terribly good at abstract math, came up with nothing.  It did, however, start me down a path of wondering just how different the genders really are.  I started with (somewhat antiquated) notion of binary genders and found the solution somewhat lacking.  So, let’s say we’ve got 0 and 1 to represent our genders.  It doesn’t matter which represents male and which represents female; worrying about that is completely missing the point.

The math of this sticker would seem to say “one marriage equals one man plus one woman.”  Okay, sounds fair for the moment.  Represented mathematically we should wind up with something like M=m+w.  Since we know there’s a singular marriage at stake, we’ll assign M the value of 1.  We already know we can assign values of o and 1 to the genders so the equation should look similar to this: 1 = 0 + 1.

Quit wondering who is a zero and who is a one, it’s immaterial.

Anyway, 0 and 1.  This is the logical step off point for our magical sticker.  As long as you add a zero to a one, you’ll always get one.  Any other variation will yield o or 2 and those just don’t work for bumper stickers.  So, with this logic we can assume any man would be compatible with any woman.  One’s a zero, the other’s a one, zero plus one always yields one.

There is a problem with this logic, though.  If any man would be compatible with any woman or vice versa (your versas are my vices and versa vice), it wouldn’t matter who you chose.  Utter rubbish, right?  Doubt me?  Go marry Roseanne Barr or Ray Rice and get back to me with the results.  So, that must mean we’ve got some wiggle room, which means we can’t really call this binary since binary is always 0 or 1.  We can’t even really look at our zeroes and ones as integers because we’d wind up in the exact same situation we had with binary numbers.  This leaves us with decimals and those are going to play absolute havoc with our equation.

Go back to the idea of marrying Barr or Rice.  Let’s say there’s a 50/50 distribution of people who would versus who wouldn’t.  Now, we’re breaking our zeroes and ones into 0 and 0.5 or 1 and 1.5.  This means, hypothetically we could wind up with 1 = .5 + 1, which just doesn’t work.  1 = .5 + .5 does, however work.  Just an observation.

Now, if the Barr/Rice variable was all we had to worry about that alone would throw a huge monkey wrench into the equation, but it’s not.  There’s also what each person finds attractive and whether the attraction is reciprocated.  Let’s say you’re only attracted 1.032s (won’t consider Rice or Barr but are attracted to people with blonde hair but has black hair), but the vast majority of 1.032s are only attracted to 0.721s (would consider Rice or Barr is attracted to people with white hair and has black hair) and you’re a 0.463 (No R/B, attracted to people with pink hair but has brown hair).  Maybe you’ll find someone who secretly yearns for a 0.463 but publicly says they’re only attracted to 0.721s, then you’ve got a further variation, something along the lines of 1.0343.  Through the magic of the Internet and some pictures you happen to have, you find your dream 1.03(43) and fall in love.  Now we have a problem: you can’t get married.

Since M=w+m and we already know the value of M is 1, I’m afraid you can’t marry each other because that would yield 1 = 0.463 + 1.0343 and that doesn’t work since 1 != 1.4946.

You know what else starts to happen?  As soon as you accept the fact that there intra-gender variations it’s not completely outside the realm of possibilities to think you could wind up with 0.999999999999(r) and 1.0, two members of opposite genders that are so close together it’s only plumbing that separates them.  Of course, you can also wind up with 0 and 1.99999999999999999(r).  The r is for repeating by the way.

So now, the only solution you’re left with is rounding and putting 0 and 1 into very narrow categories just so you can force the incoming data to match the expected result.

Or you can accept the fact that the original equation is bullshit to begin with.  It’s your typical, run of the mill soundbite thought up by someone who does these kinds of things for a living and slapped on a sticker.  It provides an easy-to-use rebuttal to all debate.  It’s quick, it’s witty, and it’s complete and utter nonsense since it redefines marriage to suit the views of a fairly narrow slice of the population, completely ignoring historical evidence that shows marriage has not always been what it is today and will likely not be the same in the future.

There was a time once, long ago, when people used to actually engage in debate and there was a free flow of ideas.  Things changed, often for the better, because information got out there.  Now all we have is a bunch of people shouting bumper stickers at each other and not a damned one of them could explain the math to you if you questioned them on it.  I swear, it’s like everyone’s busy using Mad Magazine as an information source and a technical manual on how to communicate.

Next time I see someone with an M=m+w sticker, I’m going to ask them to prove it and show their work.