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Well, I was a bit ill this morning. I woke up with a particularly nasty headache, the result of the drastic change in weather around here. I managed to take some ibuprofen, then ate something so as to not anger the esophagus monster, then went back to bed. Anyway, I haven't gotten too much done today, but I did try out my new hair clippers and gave myself a hair cut! It came out not too bad. The only thing I'm not entirely happy with was how I did around my ears, but that was with my regular razor. Yes, the kit I got has ear tapering blade-combs, but, I needed a little more. I also had to use a regular razor for my neck. But for the bulk of my head? Yup, it turned out okay! Took a little longer than I thought it would, but that's because I was a bit timid at first. I mean, I knew already that I was going to use the 2 blade for the sides and the three for the top, but still... Once I got over my fear of, "Oh gods I'm gonna screw this up and look like an idiot and have to go to a barber to have my head shorn correctly and people are going to laugh..." I was good.

The Onion has America pegged with respect to the fallout from yesterday's tragedy in Colorado.

Real quick, with regards to the whole thing about how many people are killed by guns and safety and such... You know, I have one and am licensed and so on. I try to be safe with it. Yet so many people are killed by them every day. Sometimes, they're nuts, under the influence, or just plain angry, and they then use it to kill someone, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally. People obtain them legally and illegally. They use them with and without a license. I personally think it should be much harder to get one, or get a license for one, considering all the accidents and lost lives that could have been prevented if we had tougher laws. Yes, people, I'm talking about my car.

People break laws all the time. Hell, we elect people who break laws all the time. We revere sports heroes who break laws all the time.

More importantly, the guy, Holmes, was nuts. Sadly, people think that means he must have been stupid. This reminds me of a tale Papa Cardillo once told me. A guy driving along hits a nail and gets a flat just outside the insane asylum. In the process of changing the tire, he manages to trip and drop all the lug nuts from the wheel down the storm sewer. Stymied, he just stares, wondering how he's going to attach the spare tire without any lug nuts, when he hears a voice calling him from the asylum. He looks up and sees one of the inmates looking down, watching him.
"Little bit of trouble there, huh?" the inmate asks.
Scared, the guy says, "Uh, yeah."
"Take a lug nut off the other three tires, and you'll have three lug nuts for the spare tire. That should work to get you to a service station."
Amazed, the motorist says, "That's a really good idea! Thanks."
"Of course it's a good idea," the inmate says. "I'm crazy, not stupid."

This, I think, is one of several major flaws made by so-called profilers and, indeed, the public in general. They underestimate the intelligence of the perpetrator.

But I've been seeing more and more cases of police profilers saying, in press conferences, that Holmes was a special case in that he had no online presence, didn't live in his mom's basement, and didn't engage in other behaviors of antisocial geeky outcasts. You know, it's a bit upsetting to me that what these profilers describe as being the type to just up and snap...describe me. I live with my mother, don't have a girlfriend, don't really have many friends, and kind of keep to myself. Oh, and I'm weird and actively non-conformist. The only thing not quite fitting their profiles is that I have a stable job. I've worked at the UD library for almost 13 years, with more than five and a half of those as a full-time employee. And I'm president of the Library Staff Association. I ballroom dance, but have been on hiatus for about two years now. Oh, and I'm not much of a gamer, and suck at gaming when I do game.

The only other thing I have that separates me from the psychos is...pets. A soft spot for cats down on their luck. Still missing and mourning TomTom. Playing with Rocky and Minerva, watching DVDs and cartoons with Yoda. Alas, it still falls into "weird and non-conforming, especially with what society says for guys not liking cats" and other crap.

However, despite how weird I am, how deranged my sense of humor is, I know I'm not going to go ballistic. Because I have this whole compassion thing. As much as I loathe elements of society and have lost faith in humanity, I haven't gotten to the point where I feel like decreeing that society is too sick to survive (Ghostbusters reference). I still smile at little kids, make sure old people don't trip and fall, and share my Boston Market chicken with the cats. The only caveat is that if you hurt me an mine, I swear by my pretty little bonnet, I will end you. I almost typed that that would be the case of most people, but, sadly, looking at the state of the world, I feel that such protectiveness is becoming more of an exception than the rule. Of course, "me an mine" includes the furkids since, well, they're my kids. Thankfully, I know several of you on here are of like mind on this issue.

Of the fans they interviewed on the way to see The Dark Knight Rises yesterday, there was one I happened to catch, and it happened to be a guy with some sense. The reporter incredulously asked him why he wasn't scared or uneasy to be going to a late night show. The guy replied that if he worried about dying all the time, he'd never leave the house and live. I think the only reason that aired is because the news agency in question was hoping to show how "out of touch with reality" us nerds are. Oh well.

I also have to say that over the last few days, starting even before the tragedy happened, and perhaps slightly influenced by reading William Gibson's "Blue Ant" books, I've been more aware of certain undercurrents of shows for what is supposed to be "normal." I've seen more of how advertising tries to target people. I've seen how the news has become more and more biased and become a tool in encouraging conformity. Although, this is more for mainstream media (ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC). When we get to Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and Cartoon Network/adult_swim, it's not nearly so bad. Unfortunately, those are all "nerd" channels, so...yeah.

Wow...this entry has turned out to be a lot longer than I thought it would be...

Anyway, because I'd prefer to end on a positive note...




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HAPPY BIRFDAY [profile] jaddziadax AND [profile] lundarbluekandi!!



With the shit storm that is the Paterno/Sandusky/Penn State debacle, there was at least one person who stood up to Paterno and, by extension, the status quo of sports worship... To clarify... I'm not against the enjoyment of sports, the playing of sports, and so on. I'm against people getting a pass on being Decent Human Beings simply because they can throw a ball, run, or whatever, or because they are integrally associated with those people. I am against the idea that if you don't care for commercial sports, that there's something wring with you, especially if you're a male, and that bullying for this is a part of life. I'm against the hypocrisy of commercial sports fans who do all sorts of painting and fanatical behavior, then mock sci-fi, fantasy, anime, and Renaissance cosplayers. especially when those cosplayers often participate in charity work. I'm against the commercial forces of these sports that cover up and deny wrongdoing, let alone illegal and harmful activities and, when they get caught, try to sell a sob story of a hard childhood or portray the activity as an exception and not the norm that is usually covered up. And then those commercial forces saying someone is redeemed when they're not and having the power to alter history, make people forget, and make a problem go away. I'm against sheeple being so entrenched in the cultural norm of sports worship that they go along with it and throw their money at these people for jerseys, tickets, and so on, rather than to stand up and say, "Enough is enough! I have standards!"

*Ahem*

Moving along...

One of the things I watched this weekend was the first Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movie. Overall, it was well done. Cut for potential spoilerage. )

I think I'm coming down with some sort of summer cold. I'm feeling slightly congested, and right in my throat, too. It's making me snore, which I hardly ever do anymore since I had my tonsils out. Consequently, snoring is making my throat even more sore. Meh.

Rocky... Rocky is a bit stressed and is still pulling his fur out. He can handle one of the stepgogs at a time, but, when they gang up on him, as they've done twice this weekend, that's too much for him. When he has the high ground at the top of the steps, he can keep both of them at bay. But in the kitchen, say? One will circle behind him, and then it's all he can do to get away from the jumping, slobbering, barking monsters. Of course, Brandon and Bridgett are sent to their room when this happens, and I try to help Rocky escape as best I can. But ultimately? He needs a buddy. Riffy or Minerva. Or both. They can cover each other's backs. Must think on this some more.

Have to share this because waaaaay too many of my Discworld friends have left Facebook but, thankfully, are still here in blog land...



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Suckage for today...

Ray Bradbury has passed away at the age of 91. While he's not my favorite author, and while I disagreed with his stance on digital media (that it would destroy books and such rather than actually expand sales and such), I do appreciate everything he did for the science fiction community, and I did enjoy The Martian Chronicles. I applauded him for taking a stand to filmmaker and critic Michael Moore for ripping off his Fahrenheit 451 title with his 9/11 expose, and it sucks that that whole issue remains unresolved... He was snubbed by Moore, then went to sue, then got an acknowledgment from Moore and a promise to talk things over, and last I heard, Bradbury was still waiting for Moore to make good on his promise.

Another thing I have to like Bradbury for: his support of libraries. Supposedly, he wrote his first published manuscript in the basement of his college's library. He has thus always been a strong proponent of libraries.

Then, the Trolololo guy passed away...



And Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin, apparently "won" his recall election. I use the quotation marks because there's already hints of voter fraud as well as using the ill-conceived corporate personhood for him to hold on to his governorship. In short, he's still in office because he cheated in a corrupt system that already gave him an edge, and even then, it was a close thing. It's making me lose faith in our supposedly democratic system...

And yeah, I and the furkids are still mourning TomTom. Rocky and YoYo are perhaps the most upset. TomTom and YoYo were good buddies. And TomTom was the only one who gave Rocky the time of day and worked with him and mentored him. I mean, that was the kind of cat TomTom was... Very accepting. Within reason, of course. He wouldn't hesitate to thwap you if you crossed a line. But he'd greet visitors and expect pettins. Of course, he'd also go through whatever they brought in with better, more effective scrutiny than TSA. But while he and Rocky never flopped on each other, they did lie side-by-side or facing each other on the koosh pillows, or play "parachute" together when I was trying to make the bed, or "help" me fold my laundry and so on. They'd sit on either side of me like gargoyles while watching TV with Yoda. Though TomTom was the only one who ever seemed interested in watching the nightly news. Still... TomTom was a companion for Rocky, and I'm worried that the other cats won't befriend him. Though, you never know... With TomTom gone, the hierarchy is a complete mess right now, and that might open some doors. Literally as well as figuratively. You never know.

In the meantime, Rocky's been half-plastered to my side when I'm at home. He and I sat on the bed for a little bit last night when I got home from work and again this morning before I left for work, just talking. Rocky's always been a vocal cat, but he's been a bit more vocal lately. I'm hoping he's getting the attention he needs from me right now, and he's consequently helping me through the grieving process, too. TomTom, I think, had enough of an influence on Rocky where Rocky will be an awesome cat as well.

You know, it's a damn shame these critters, so full of unconditional love and acceptance, have such short lifespans. It's like some sort of fucked-up balance control of the universe: great creatures are short-lived, and long-lived creatures - humans - are bastards.

This whole experience has taught me a few things... I learned that I can still drive well despite being incredibly upset, that I can maintain a certain driving decorum when I am transporting a sick pet. I also learned that I can soak a cat's coat with my tears. And I learned that TomTom was awesome right up until the end.

I don't think it was any accident that he went into his carrier on his own when we left the house for the last time. He didn't want to die at home. And the last time I was with him, he barely had the strength to headbutt me or lick my tears, yet when I was making that final decision - to euthanize or to give him one more chance to turn the corner with fluids and more aggressive meds - he stood up and took a few steps like nothing was wrong, which cinched my decision to try the fluids. The furry little monster knew I was torn, and he made it so I didn't have to actually decide to euthanize. He went on his own terms and in his own way.

Awesomeness to the bitter end.

This weekend...anyone so much as says, "It was just a cat" or anything, I'm leaving. Heading back to the hotel. Curling up with a book or the Kindle. Better company that way.

In other news... The Library received Vice-President Biden's Senatorial papers today. I was actually on the special invite-list to be there for the shrink-wrap cutting ceremony and be in the background for the media coverage and cheer like an idiot for their arrival... Were I not grieving, I probably would have gone. But right now, I'm finding it hard to summon the amount of care required for much of anything.

Comics )
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Yeah, I kept the blog "dark" in support of protests for SOPA and censorship.

I mean, seriously, can we really prevent widespread piracy? Or content-sharing? What would be next? Having to pay a fee and apply for permission to sing "Happy Birthday"? Being fined for quoting movies? As is, I'm kind of surprised the RIAA hasn't shut down karaoke bars. I mean, they've damn near come close to shutting down gyms and dance studios. I never advertised myself as a DJ for hire because technically I can't just go somewhere and play music without risking getting into a hell of a lot of trouble. I can do so at TTL and such because they're already raped up the ass without lube charged exorbitant fees to...provide music for us dancers to, you know, dance to.

And in another venue, something SOPA could put a crushing end to is fan fic. (Yes, SOPA could end far more things than fan fic, but, I'm going with more personal things to kind of narrow down my example machine.) Okay, so, those of us writing fan fic could still do so and just not share it on the internet. But there are whole groups who write and read each others' fan fic, and this has been greatly facilitated, and would then be greatly crippled, by SOPA.

Hell, even here on LJ and DW, how many icon groups are there? And why do we use a pop cult icon with a witty saying? Because it expresses something we're feeling or want to share. Fan vids, fan fic, icons, LOL cats, movie quotes, music lyrics, karaoke... They are all artistic manifestations of the human need to express. Indeed, it also emphasizes the importance of and need for art in general in society.

Dorkgasm has this post about sharing leading to interest. I share this link because, well, it's relevant. In fact, it even mentions Nine Inch Nails, which I became interested in after seeing a BSG fan vid with Baltar and Six. There have been several songs and bands I became interested in after seeing a fan vid set to their music.

Geeks are Sexy has a wonderfully comprehensive vid about PIPA and SOPA and the threat they present.

And then there's this cute parody...



In other news, The Mary Sue has an article about George Lucas retiring as a filmmaker. Well, he'll still do smaller projects. My take? Yes, I wish he'd stop screwing around with the original trilogy. Some of the improved effects were cool, but most? I don't think they're an improvement. If they could release a DVD or Blu-Ray where at the menu, you can select which version of effects and added or redone scenes you want, and create your own version, I'd be all over that. For example, in A New Hope, I'd have the scene with Jabba the Hutt, have the dewbacks, but have Han Shot First.

Unlike so many others, I don't think the prequel movies were an abomination. I liked Jango Fett, Qui Gon, and Mace Windu. Granted, this was more in the novelizations of the prequel trilogy, but Palpatine's rise to power, eroding of civil liberties in the name of security, and seducing Anakin to the Dark Side is actually pretty deep and has scores of social commentary on current events. Lucas' flaw, in my own opinion, is that he's a perfectionist and he's got enough clout to give in to his own version of OCD. I can criticize only so much because I have experienced this with my own writing. It's hard, but you have to know when something is done and learn to walk away from it, and still love it in spite of all the flaws you may see.

On a tangent to that, I have to tip my hat to so many authors... Michael Martin and Andy Mangels, James Luceno, Kirsten Beyer, David Mack, Dayton Ward, Geoffrey Thorne, Peter David, J.M. Dillard, Vonda McIntyre, and many more, who have either written novelizations of movies or used (shitty) material from movies of certain franchises and used them for compelling storytelling. I mean, Nemesis sucked, but the Titan novels and the Destiny trilogy and the Typhon Pact books have used Data's death, Romulan politics, and the Next Gen crew going their separate ways to launch some superb storytelling including some serious thought and visceral scenes. Joel Schumacker created the travesty of Batman Forever, but Peter David's novelization of that film thoroughly redeemed that story. Oh, and he did the same thing for Fantastic 4.

And I still say Ward and Dilmore and Mack have created a far more interesting Original Series-era saga with Vanguard than what J.J. Abrams could ever hope to achieve with his Trek reboot. If done right, the movie version of Vanguard would easily blow the Trek reboot out of the water. Unfortunately, the track record of making books into movies is not all that great. I mean, hell, Asimov's The End of Eternity was, actually, an excellent story as well as a compelling argument as to why we shouldn't let our space program stagnate, not to mention a very good twist on the old story of needing to take risks in order to achieve great things, but I'd be hard pressed to come up with a director and actors to do the book justice.

Moving along...

Yes, this post is in the clear. I figure that with the whole censorship thing, I should make this one available to the masses.

Anyway, took Mom to get her pain shots today. She's okay now, but the procedure took more than twice as long as usual.

TomTom does this caterwauling thing, usually at about this time of the night. Well this afternoon, he did it right behind me, and I actually got to watch him. I had always wondered why he did it... Vocalizing his status as the alpha? Mourning the missing people? In pain? Well, when I finally saw him, his face and stance was what I've observed of people when they're singing karaoke. In short, I have a cat who sings.

I think Tom's going to need the same thyroid surgery as YoYo. Fortunately, it's not critical at this juncture, which gives me time to save up money for it. The vet said they're okay as long as they get enough to eat. YoYo is kind of sedate, but TomTom was chasing me through the house when I was taking care of the cat boxes earlier. Not bad for a 15-year-old fuzzball. I think he yells at the birds - and kids - to get the frack off the lawn when we're not home...

Wednesday's Comics )
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HAPPY BELATED BIRFDAY[profile] thumpermarni!!!



HAPPY BIRFDAY [personal profile] lurkitty, [profile] layered_deep, [profile] jonbonjewvi, AND [personal profile] berthablue!!!



AND A SPECIAL HAPPY BIRFDAY TO MY SEESTER [profile] anaidiana!!!



Anyway, it's been a busy weekend. Mandie's birfday get-together last night was nice. Good food and all. I'm grateful my sister and I are getting along much better these days. Between last night and today, I've been productive, what with laundry, lunch prep for the week, figuring things out, and so on. I think I know how to rearrange my computer area for better computer spill protection. Ultimately, it may also lead to a more spacious and comfortable work area.

Today (yesterday, actually), I put up what little of the outdoor lights we have and brought up the Christmas decorations. The outdoor lights are set up, but not plugged in. If we want to expand, that's great. But the initial bulk, such as it is, is done, and if it's dark and snowing and freezing, it's just a matter of pulling off the plastic bag and plugging in the setup. And the rest of the stuff is up, so, hopefully, with working on just a little bit here, a little bit there, I can actually enjoy the Christmas season rather than throwing everything up at the last minute, as has been the case for about the last decade. It would be nice to have the tree up and decorated for a week before Christmas and actually enjoy the lights and such.

Alas, my back is quite sore at the moment, though. Fortunately, I have a chiro appointment at the end of the week.

Got LOTS of reading done, too. I'm hoping to get my reading projects down to something a little more manageable. But I have lots of good books that have been on my shelves for a decade, plus trying to get some of the current/contemporary stuff read, plus all the stuff I've already bought for Kindle, plus holiday reading. I'm almost done Jim Butcher's Ghost Story (Dresden Files), and... It's great! I actually gave my sister the first three books of the series for her birfday and hope my anticipation of her enjoying the series, too, is on the mark. I love the pop cult references throughout, especially the Star Wars references. And the Princess Bride reference in Ghost Story was...great! I really hope Mr. Butcher plans more for this series...

I'm also reading Christopher L. Bennett's Star Trek: Typhon Pact: The Struggle Within. It's an e-novella, and it came out last month, but... Some of the stuff with the Unificationists and non-violent protests on the Kinshaya homeworld... Wow! This was written, I'm fairly certain, before the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the parallels aren't perfect, but, can we say, "socially relevant?" I'm only on chapter four, but, given the clashes between police and such, and the scene I just read in the story, I can't help but wonder if police presence and indeed police brutality are intentional to rouse the protesters to where they have to choose between well-being and self-defense, or defending the elderly or handicapped who may be being beaten, in order to make the non-violent civil disobedience into violent rebellion, which then allows the State to 1) use violent and eventually deadly force against protesters and 2) discourage assembly to protest with the excuse that it turns violent and hence turning free speech into something that is a danger to public safety, allowing an argument to exist that the right of peaceable assembly is not safe for democracy. Flawed, I know, and I'm perhaps expressing this inadequately and clumsily, but, something worth thinking about. And this bit (along with wishing my sister natal day felicitations) is why this entry is in the clear and hence able to show up on Networked Blogs on Facebook.

I still need to write my essay on Paine's "Common Sense" and applying it to events going on these days as I see it. I have my notes (thank gods), and when I glance at them, I can remember rather clearly what I intend to write about.

Of course, your mileage may vary (YMMV), and that's okay. If there's anything erupting here or on FB, just...keep it civil, no personal attacks, and agree to disagree.

Back to Mandie's birfday gathering... I have to say, I have party animals here. By that, I mean that TomTom was happy to see my sister and was very present throughout the evening, even settling down next to her while she opened presents and such. He seems to really like it when she visits. Rocky, of course, gets attention from everyone and has a tendency to try to beg food from Scott. And Yoda? Before dinner, he was acting up, so, he ended up in Time Out (cage covered, TV and lights off). Note: avians tend to be quiet when in the dark, thus not giving away their position to predators. Both with the Grey we had before, Nemo, and with the one we have now, Yoda, well, we have to throw that one out the window. While eating dinner, and later, while chatting in the living room, Yoda insisted on being part of the group, even though he was in Time Out in another room, by interjecting into conversations, making noises we had referred to, laughing, and so on. Like Nemo, Yoda gives very situationally-appropriate responses.

And people wonder why I'm unsurprised at animal intelligence. Fascinated, but unsurprised.

Anyway, time for a shower and then bed. I'm hoping my computer will be done tomorrow and I can get it back here and back up and running. That is, done later today. Whatever.

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Yup, it's been 10 years. It's interesting to see some of what's out there... Some people decry the wars being fought, some decry the loss of liberties for perceived security, some think that the event brought us closer together. Well, the tragedy did bring us together for all of a month or so, and now, we see this nation being more fractured than it's been since the Civil War. And yet, there are people like me that still hold out hope that we'll eventually pull our shit together.

I've already blogged about 9-11, the 10th anniversary, and so on. As for the observances themselves... There's a line, and a rather fine one at that, between tasteful remembrance and acknowledgment versus politicization, polarization, and just plain taking advantage of the victims.

Fact is, it happened, and there are some who would rather stick their heads in the sand and pretend it didn't. Others are obsessed with fear, rage, or both. One of the books I'm reading right now, The Legacy of Heorot, by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes. In an attempt to set up the passage quickly, the novel takes place in the future when Earth first starts colonizing. 200 colonists are in cryosleep for a journey lasting about 100 years, and they set up a colony on a planet they named Avalon. The colonists are mostly scientists and engineers, and Cadmann Weyland is the only military person among them. The island they settle on seems peaceful, and Weyland is the only one who isn't ready to let his guard down. After all, the colony is less than a full Avalonian year old. And when some of the livestock is carried off and eaten, Weyland wants to tighten up security. Some of the colonists, however, accuse him of manufacturing a crisis just so he would be useful again. It isn't until Cadmann sets up his own stake-out and nearly loses his life that he begins to confirm that there's a dangerous predator on the island, and the colonists still refuse to take precautions, until the predator attacks the colony, killing several people, injuring dozens more, and destroying several buildings. The colony leader, Zack, hadn't dismissed Cadmann out of hand, but certainly didn't support him or even his calls for volunteers to investigate the livestock disappearances...

If a camp vote had been taken the day after the disaster, Zack would have been ousted and Cadmann elected to the post in a moment. Take the vote soon enough after the disaster, and Zack himself might have led the electoral parade. Not now. Now he'd fight.
"We're surviving," he said. "We're going to keep surviving. We've paid our price for this goddamned planet. It's all we're going to pay... What happened just shouldn't have happened." There was absolutely nothing of the old Zack in his tone.

I mention all of this because it's a good illustration of how people's passions can shift after a disaster, how trauma can change people, and how it's all a part of being human. Incidentally, the book was written in 1987.

The Onion had posted an article about God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule. I should probably send this to some of my more Evangelical friends who right after the attack and even today advocate various forms of genocide. And people wonder why I walked away from organized religion...

Kudos to the two following comics for adequately commemorating the tragedy...

Baby Blues


Zits


More Comics )
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