All posts in category Ranting and Raving
Posted by happycrow on November 4, 2007
Do you ever have moments when you wonder whether the entire pseudo-manichean strain in Western Culture that survives within the various Platonic schools exists basically because Plato’s reaction to the disheartened old men in Book One of the Republic was fundamentally flawed?
Maybe he got that line upside down because he forgot to read Aesop? Sour grapes and all that, and just because we gradually lose our ability to participate in the world in a form other than inspiration or tomato food, doesn’t mean that the world itself is any the less amazing and significant?
But NOOOOoooo, we had to get a philosphy by Mister Grumpy Fox, idealizing retreat into a world of supposedly-more-real “Ideals,” more or less established as axiomatic nomenclature, in which the Philosopher understands the world… he just refuses to lower himself by enjoying his relations with it.
Or, to paraphrase an acquaintance of mine, “the perfect Platonic ideal of ‘chair-qua-chair’ would be incredibly uncomfortable, unless of course one happened to have a perfectly Platonic butt.”
Posted by happycrow on October 29, 2007
I’m a crap driver.
But I’m an awesome commuter. I’ve had people spontaneously gush about how I somehow manage to drive as if my car were surrounded by a “bubble of peace.” I’m pretty sure it’s because my Dad, whose job it was to drive multi-thousand-ton ships, constantly emphasized that the technical skills of driving are the least important part of the job. That’s the easy part. In addition, one needs to develop:
- A sense of what other drivers are going to do.
- The ability to consistently perceive “1″ and make decisions that minimize conflicts while driving.
Well, after years of griping, I’m going to bite the bullet and put up my own humble contribution — driving problems for teenagers /new drivers. A lot of the traffic and commuting problems out there are caused by drivers making their commute slower for themselves by failing to observe some simple principles. Especially around Dallas. Texas is known for its courteous and friendly drivers…. except for Dallas, where Chaos Reigns and you routinely see drivers pulling the weirdest crap… that gets people smashed-up and killed.
Well, here goes: DF#1 — The Pitfalls of Parcheesi
You are cruising along the highway in the green car (center). Relatively speaking, you’re going slightly faster than the blue car way over in the slow lane (you passed her about a quarter mile back), and about the same speed as the yellow car.
There is a red car in the fast lane coming up on you, and there isn’t room for it to get over (safely) between your car and the yellow car. What do you do?
Posted by happycrow on October 17, 2007
There’s all kinds of sturm und drang going on, people worried about what’s going to happen with deportations out of Irving.
- If you think the Irving Public Library should stop stocking Spanish-language material: shut the fuck up and learn some history. Both languages are traditional here, whether some folks like it or not. Oh, and whether you like to acknowledge it, racist bullshit has a long history in this state: our family still recalls how we were suddenly regarded as Type-IV demons simply for the crime of selling our house to a Mexican lady, thus letting “them” into that nice clean Dallas neighborhood. Anybody who tries to deny that this crap happened is doing nothing but discrediting herself the minute she opens her mouth.
- If you think that the Irving Police are a bunch of top-to-bottom racists who just can’t wait to screw over somebody who happens to be brown…. you’re close, but not quite there. That’s Dallas. Close, but very definitely not the same, and at least a few of those bad apples are in jail now. Chill. Oh, and a hot tip: if you’re going to be here illegally, try learning the language and blending in a little bit, as opposed to sticking out like a sore thumb because you refuse to so much as talk to anybody who’s not Mexican (even if they’re from the big Ecuadorian community we’ve got around Irving Blvd. – I know it hasn’t occurred to your dumb ass, but your racism stinks just as badly as anybody else’s.)
But let’s sit here for a moment and actually think, rather than merely react. Irving has something like a couple hundred thousand people in it. And of the criminal and criminal-suspect population of Irving, something like 300 people per month are being referred on immigration issues. Let’s do some math:
300/200,00=0.15% of Irving’s population is getting referred for deportation on a monthly basis. This in a city that’s known to be at least 25% immigrant/foreign-born (a.k.a., why we have so many cool Mom’n'Pop restaurants from all over the place around here). And that’s both older figures and the numbers actually being counted. Considering that some folks are now saying that the number of illegal aliens in the U.S. may number 34 million, this means that there may be more illegal aliens in this country (not all of whom, but most, are Latino), than there are total African-Americans… recall, this is illegals, a.k.a., not counting U.S. citizens and legal residents from Mexico and Latin America.
What do those numbers tell us? For starters, it tells us that 300 people per month is a drop in the bucket, and that if the local Latino population has specific allegations of unfair treatment, they should be brought forward (and of course it’s always possible). At the same time, letting a bunch of power-brokers on an international level try to turn Irving into some kind of new immigration battleground is just stupid.
Ya know what? Immigrating illegally is a crime, true: but it’s also a pretty darned minor crime. If Irving wants to keep an eye out for those parts of the population that are muggers, thieves, rapists, drunk drivers, what have you, and actually check on who they are… how’s that affect somebody who’s actually just going about their lives, except insofar as it lets folks who are playing a game know that the game’s being played? So let’s all calm down, and not let the Professionally Aggrieved get our blood pressure up. So, let the immigrants (like my family) speak English where English is spoken, and locals like me will be plenty understanding, and pick up a few words in the process so everybody can have a lower-blood-pressure, stress-free day.
Posted by happycrow on October 9, 2007
It’s working on 1 a.m., and I am a complete insomniac. I don’t normally bother people with “inner Happycrow” posts. Y’all don’t need to put up with that stuff. But if you’re up late tonight, well, this is one of those posts.
I finished the rough draft of this novel thingy as mentioned. Okay, no big deal, it’s an adventure story with some thinly-disguised (but hopefully still readable) polemic.
After talking to my brother (who’s spent the last few years hanging out with booksellers) and my sister-in-law, (who has been one, and is a very serious writer in her own right), I became convinced that self-publishing probably isn’t the way to go. After all, I wrote the thing, dammit — why shouldn’t I see how far the thing can actually go once it’s been edited?
That means getting an agent. There aren’t a lot of them, fewer who do escapist genre adventure stories, and you basically have to sell yourself to them. Because the alternative is that your work sits in a “slush pile,” where it may or may not be looked at for 9-12 months… while you’re not allowed to put it on anybody else’s slush pile. Not because publishers are schmucks… but because there’s so much writing and so little publication money out there. And, of course, since the point is to sell said story, and see how far it can go, that means trying to get either a good agent, or one of the best agents. Anything else is “seeking failure”: aim for the top, and you might just hit the middle, right? Aim for the middle, and…
That’s a lot of arrogance from a guy who wrote an adventure story just to see if he could.
But then, I’ve already been published… just not as a fiction writer. I’ve got a fencing article out there in print, been a technical editor for a tome on weaponry so monumentally ginormous that it literally weighs in at just under ten pounds, and written… well, written a couple of articles. Actually, I’m a very successful writer. Just in the wrong field, and for the wrong reasons.
Let me explain. Back in 2002/03, I realized that there was a major flaw in the interpretive methods generally used in my field. I did some homework, and tore up about at least a month’s pay in equipment in order to perform the experimental archaeology that would answer my questions about archery and armor. The article that came out (and here’s part of the arrogant part) was expressly intended to expose that interpretive flaw, and thus “punch higher than its weight class,” forcing not only an acknowledgment of the thesis, but also the forcing the entire historiography to change its comparative methodology and spend more time down in the trenches “doing the math,” replacing a bird’s-eye view with the “worm’s-eye view” (a phrase stolen from the back cover blurb of a Glen Cook novel).
Yeah. Arrogant. Stamp it on my forehead. So, being hopelessly arrogant, I conceived two other articles over the course of the next couple of years. They were literally intended as an “article trilogy” designed to do unto the historiography at large what the first article does on an introductory scale.
One of the articles is considered a “bombshell” even before it’s published, and faced truly severe “pushback.” Fortunately, the editors were convinced that the thesis was worth fighting for, and fought the publisher’s external reviewer every step of the way as I turned in draft after draft and clarification after clarification until finally the article was approved.
Boy do I owe those guys a hell of a nice dinner.
The last one isn’t considered “bombshell” per se, but in theory it’s a captor mine. It got reviewed by two of the biggest names in the field: guys who sneeze, let alone forget, more than I’ll ever know. I’m truly fortunate that the first of the editors/critics “gives good comment,” because the final product is much better and significantly wider-ranging than the first draft, and should be generally accepted. But if that holds true, it contains ideas that simply wreck many of the assumptions taken for granted by the previous historiography.
These guys, too. At minimum some really kick-ass wine.
Yeah. Arrogance. This from a guy whose latin compares badly to that of geeky Harry-Potter-inspired eighth-graders.
And it worked.
My work has been publicly held up as an example of how research of its type should be performed. I’ve already completely altered the research career of a (vastly-better-trained) colleague in Hungary, whose most recent article states that article #1 ~”will force the complete reappraisal of the historiography of the High Middle Ages.” (Meaning, within this particular field, of course, not the whole enchilada. No human could approach that without some sort of sci-fi cyborg technology.)
None of this is exaggeration. I oscillate somewhere between giddy and appalled (at the prospects for my sadly-engorged ego).
What’s this have to do with trying to land an agent? Well, besides demonstrating a thick skin, deep debts I owe to other peoples’ patience and helpfulness, and a tendency to long-term (even grandiose) thinking, not much.
But it has a metric crapload (3% more full of crap than an Imperial crapload) to do with why I’m up at 1:30 in the morning, unable to fall asleep. I can’t sleep because I lay there before bed tonight, did the mental math…
and am simply stunned at the depths of my own arrogance.
Posted by happycrow on August 22, 2007
They’re arguing over at Althouse again. Here’s the link. All those neurons, wasted on Typical New York MisAndrists.. they’re going nuts in the comments over wine-tasting.
Guys, Gals… forget the wine-tasting on its own merits. (Though guys usually do that by purchasing a bottle and then discussing it over dinner… did that tonight, in fact.)
Look at the options for where these harpies are trying to meet men: tennis. wine-tasting. SAILING.
What does this say? Hrm…. what’s a ten-letter word, starting with “gold-digger?”
Yup. I’m thinking there are plenty of guys taking classes in things they care about… and the men who are of a social class to engage in these other activities… are, because they learned to do them as teenagers, as part of the natural process of growing up rich.
Maybe Darwin’s doing us a favor if these people keep blaming men for being too stupid to fulfil their fantasies… all the way until it’s too late for these harpies to breed and pass on the meme to another couple generations…
Posted by happycrow on May 20, 2007
Well, sort of.
But, working within a Federally Mandated Victim Zone, I can tell you that a college campus is too complex, and has too many odd corridors, for a pair of cops to get to within time to save anybody’s life if some deranged nutbag went at it. And although the cops I’ve met on the campuses where I teach are great guys, they’re all in the middle-aged “I’ve signed on for a lighter-duty assignment so I can help people all day, because I’m not getting around as fast as I used to” category. If some nutbag decided to come after my students, it’d all be long over by the time these guys could respond.
(With the clear and blatant exception of one campus, where we clearly have a vet, who I’ve seen repeatedly doing things like checking trash cans, etc. He I can see matching or beating me in an impromptu emergency sprint…)
Folks who are willing to go through the training, and willing to submit to the State’s rectal exam, are generally not going to go causing any problems, and are much less likely to be the folks who go “sproing” upstairs. The 673 licenses revoked out of 260K licenses issued is about what I recall from the instructor in the class… and folks who go sproing? Well, once you’ve decided you’re going to go murder people, I’m guessing they’re not worried about firearm laws, or the speed limit, or any other component of civilized society, either.
Posted by happycrow on May 1, 2007
(at college, no less)
“With Albert Einstein’s invention of electricity and light, the United States began changing.”
“Reconstruction was the political process of rejoining the southern states that seceded from the Union, causing the Civil War.”
“With states having to be reenstated such as Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Georgia, political parties such as the Democrats and Republicans started to take over.”
“Many views changed in the aspect of what to do.”
“They compromised with the Wade-Davis Bill that stated that southern representation was equal to those citizens denied rights.”
“As a result of reconstruction the south was more urban and Industrialized. It had steel mills, textiles, and they also developed coca-cola.” (presumably they fought the Civil War buck naked)
“Reconstruction was mostly an issue in the political house of the crisis.”
“Cotton was being used as currency, for that if it raned on the cotton, it wont ruin, and it cant rotten. You had mid-easterners moving into the texas region.”
“While there was fighting on the western fronteir or the politics weren’t being friendly, you had people working different machines and creating new ways of living. In the farming society there was a machine known as the malboard which helped the mud not clump up.”
More to come as I finish grading. Let’s just say that some of these are… profound. Insofar as they reflect a deep, empty hole of an intellect.
Posted by happycrow on April 3, 2007
That, or he’s so ignorant that he should simply shut his fucking pie-hole and never discuss religion on-air again.
I just had the unpleasantness of listening to a Mark Davis hit piece on WBAP, where he takes public umbrage at whether or not the incoming Bishop in Dallas is acceptable, and actually had to hear him say on the air that what Catholic Bishops say in public has to be scriptural.
As if ANY religious figure is some politician over whose opinions and statements the public is somehow entitled to a veto. As if Catholics are somehow required to be Protestants and buy into sola scriptura.
What a dumbass. Davis owes the DFW Catholic community a serious apology.
Posted by happycrow on March 7, 2007
(just blowing steam here, guys)
are equipped with sabres?
Why, damn you, why? What power in 11th-and-12th-century Europe equipped rabble with swords? Was Hungary just that rich? And if they weren’t nobles, and they weren’t serfs… were they not rabble, therefore? But, in this case, why didn’t they have horses? Or, if they did, why didn’t they fight on them?
And if archers are supposed to hold ground, why are they not being equipped with spears for the purpose? You don’t *hold ground* with a sword… you go hack the guy’s legs off with it!
Argh. There are times when Hungary’s appalling lack of written primary source material just chaps my butt.
It’s not like they were some fourth-rate backwater like England, barely able to take on the Welsh and Scots without the aid of logistical and military geniuses… these guys regularly go head to head with the **HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE**, fight off the Cumans on a fortnightly basis…. you know, the Cumans? The guys who single-handedly crush the 4th crusade? And they’re constantly intervening in the Kievan succession, and were a pain in Byzantium’s royal ass. So we know they weren’t morons, or they’d have gone the way of the Avars. But noooo, they had to hang out in the rough neighborhood, the one where the Mongols and the Ottomans show up… so no poncy elaborate Rolls for me, thank you very much….
Posted by happycrow on February 20, 2007
It’s how liberals run the war on terror.
“You mean it’s all about finding him? Josh is secondary?”
(Said by attractive woman who just sold out protagonists to be killed while they’re looking for the guys with more nuclear bombs than the one that went off in LA this morning.)
Real-world response: “Yes, you stupid bitch, your son’s life is secondary to finding the nukes and saving hundreds of thousands of people from turning into an aerosol on the front of a pressure wave.”
Who’s writing this show, Code Pink?
Posted by happycrow on February 19, 2007
It’s been a while since I posted. This will be an abbreviated personal post for the folks at home.
So. I’m working on a doctorate in Psycholinguistics. The study of cognitive differences in languages with a heavy semantic recall vs. languages with phonological links is given a nice little lab setting in a culture with a language that includes Hangul (orthographically transparent) and Chinese (semantic picture recognition). That will be my master’s and doctoral work.
To pay for this, I need a job. The options for jobs are to become a white monkey at a Korean academy, to become a white monkey at public school, become a white monkey at a the college, or teach illegally without getting caught for the next three years. Festive.
Never one for the simple solution, I decided to make my own job. I decided to start a company in Korea that would basically cater every desire I had in a job while still maintaining market viability. Maximum autonomy, no security, maximized ability to instantly exploit any and all opportunities that came my way in the current market conditions. In a (pair of) word(s), educational subcontracting.
The catch? No Confucian culture goes for any of that. As I was explaining this (over and *%$#ing over) to the business folks, the Korean businessmen and profs looked at me like I was from Mars. The Korean legal philosophy, by the way is that of strict construction. Everything is illegal until it is made legal. This was not covered and therefore was inherently illegal.
This went on for three months. This included the business and legal guys who were looking at my contracts. They understood the term, but in much the same way they understood third trimester abortions. Finally, I ran into a young Korean MIS fella, named Kim Sung Dong. He looked at me and said “Blue Water!”
“What’s Blue Water?” I asked.
“No horizon! No competitors!” Now I’m getting somewhere. Turns out he wasn’t sure about the full extent of subcontracting, but latched onto one example of how subcontracting could whip the dog nuts off of the in house fellas that get hired. It was still a start. At least one of my throwaway ideas could work. But this guy can negotiate. All the negotiation below? Him. He’s amazing.
So we went about getting licensed. So, here is sentence fragment theater. Recruited two others: Vietnamese economist, American teacher/business admin fella. Secured funding for four months. Working seven days a week. Upgrade contracts. Develop charter. Secure E-commerce licence. Vietnamese economist goes home: sets up contacts at home for business in Korea. American goes home: sets up American business and tax codes. Try IT subcontracting with Korean companies: stillborn due to lack of information flow. Recruit our first American English teacher. Want a business licence. Need a building. Get a building. Knock 50% off the rent (take it and LIKE it). Want an educational licence. Need a bigger building. Need a to get a sugar daddy. Got a sugar daddy. Daddy will give sugar if we have an office in the nice part of town. Secure said building in four days. Get saddled with a 6k francise licence with the rent. Knock 25% off the rent and 5k off the licence with additional 2k insurance for business failure (We are the droids your looking for!) Remodel the interior in two days for $600 under budget. Clear the fire inspection by charmingly mooching assistance from a hardware store owner. Clear the Educational Government Inspection by correcting the moronic inspectors feeble grasp of his own frickin’ category of law to him (got help from the Fire Marshall on this). Four, count ‘em four, seperate trips to immigration to change my visa status (they were asking for different and new paperwork every time). Visa status clears the day before I must be teaching at least ten students. Recruited 10 butt-in-seat students in 12 hours (I actually dragged a Jehovah’s Witness into this, real quote: Him “Do you believe in the end of the world?” Me, big smile “In fact, I do. Follow me.”) Got our first American teacher over here and set him up with his contract. Recruited two more contracts.
So. Where does that put me? I can do e-commerce, and education. I have a company that can hire any of the Chinese, Vietnamese and Korean students. We have cooperation agrements with a number of schools. We can place a modest number of English teachers, and can push language instruction to any school via the internet. You need some language? I can hook you up.
I also started the International Students’ Association so I can recruit from the foreign students that come here, provide legal work, and health benefits. You want to learn Chinese? I have teachers and a curriculum. We’re developing an English language game, a Korean as Foreign Language curriculum, and we’re securing trade with midsized Korean companies and Vietnam the second they enter the WTO.
And I have a girlfriend. We’re talking two kids, one adoption. She brought me a watch and homemade cookies on my birthday. I didn’t tell her when my birthday was and was working so hard I forgot it was my birthday. She researched it with the psych department.
That’s the short version. If anybody can help me get ahold of Amercian Science books, middle school level, I would appreciate it. Also, if you know of anybody who needs IT work done, lemme know. And if anybody wants to lecture over the internet, let me know.
Now to catch up on some papers.
Posted by blackpine on December 13, 2006
Okay, so we want to go to the Moon. And there’s serious evidence of water on Mars.
So why aren’t we going? There’s certainly no shortage of Americans yearning for a new frontier, and perfectly willing to train up on waldos and whatever else would be involved in creating a new set of colonies. We’re even reasonably sure what that sort of work would entail.
But NASA’s plans aren’t serious. The Moon in twenty years? Based on the gradual refurbishment of 1960s technology? So that five people can stay there for half a year, doing who knows what? Lift, now that the ABM Treaty is done and gone for: if the US were serious about getting into space, it would pioneer and Orion drive and be done with it by putting the equivalent of the USS Enterprise into orbit with every launch, with sufficient tonnage both to carry water shielding against radiation and to possess rotating decks for spin gravity.
Believe it or not, this ain’t science fiction any more. So why isn’t it being done? It’s not like we can’t contain the radiation effects at the launch site — they had that figured out in the 1970s. So what’s the deal?
Posted by happycrow on December 7, 2006
Douglas Kmiec posts a reasonable, if myopic, little article, positing that, as in the blurb, ” Rigid ratios of white, non-white only indulge ugly stereotypes.”
I’d like to go one step further.
Stop discussing race at all.
Why? Because race is irrelevant. And it’s irrelevant because race doesn’t exist. There’s no such thing. It’s a bad theory that, like phlogiston, has been replaced by DNA and genetics. And not only has genetics killed that off, but the newly-emerging field of epi-genetics is starting to tell us, quite distinctly, that genes are mutable, activatable, and de-activatable, by no means a hardcoded map to our future. The only reason we worry about race is because of the horrific stew of poisons and historical damage floating all around our culture, left over by (generally) well-meaning people working from a horribly ignorant understanding. And using the term in any active way forces you to buy into all of the damage, rather than simply begin to cut a clean slate and fix it for good.
The best way to heal said wounds is to give a leg up to the needy, whoever they are, and to actively discourage any use, any use at all, no matter how high-minded, of this world-is-flat, outdated theory.
Posted by happycrow on December 5, 2006
because he tells the truths that nobody dares to tell. And, he’s hip.
Gee, where have we seen that before? An entire generation walking around with signs saying “Nuclear War is bad for little girls and growing things?” As if nobody had managed to figure that out.
No offense to Mr. Williams, and I really shouldn’t call him a dork. He is a very smart, very funny man, and wildly successful at what he does… more successful, in fact, because a cross-section of Boomers and pseudo-hip disaffecteds will certainly make this flick do well at the box. But will Mr. Williams simply let it be a film? Nooooooo, he has to make pseudo-intellectual points that apparently nobody’s ever considered.
Just one problem: our political system not only does not suck, it is a work of unmitigated genius, designed to survive all the things that human greed and evil can throw at it. Mr. Williams, please take two aspirins to calm that fevered ego, go read Federalist #10, and call me in the morning.
Posted by happycrow on October 12, 2006