Is This Thing On?

LiveJournal! How have you been? I've missed you terribly.

What have I been up to, you ask? Well, I've written a children's book; I've taken Edgar Allan Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher" and converted it into "Ricky's Spooky House," an innocuous tale for the children of twisted parents. You can back it on Kickstarter for the next two weeks, if you're so inclined:

Related to that, I have a new blog; I'm writing in the voice of Li'l Eddie, the young Edgar Allan Poe, as he explores the strange and largely unnoticed things going wrong in his world. You can come be his pen pal!

As Li'l Eddie would say: I hope you are well, LiveJournal. Write back soon!

We Would Destroy Your Hunger With One Dalek

Like any reasonable person, I greatly enjoy the televisual stylings of Doctor Who. And like any reasonable capitalist, I'm constantly plotting ways to make money off of things I enjoy. Bringing these ideas to fruition is often difficult, since many of the things I enjoy are the intellectual properties of others, and those others are already plotting their own ways to make money off of said things.

All this really means, though, is that I need to come up with an idea that is so original that no one else has thought of it, while still being sufficiently brilliant as to make as to make the owners of the base concept want to license it to me. In the case of Doctor Who, I believe I've finally done just that.

Everyone loves Doctor Who, and the hilariously screaming robots-of-the-past's-future Daleks. I'm rounding up to everyone, of course; some people probably do not. These people are wrong, and I'm not interested in selling to them. They're probably spending their money on canes to shake at the neighbor kids, anyway.

Everyone also loves candy -- again, for certain values of everyone. But not until now have these two things been combined into one fantastic treat! As soon as I get the licensing worked out, you can have your very own Dalick, the delicious lollipop Dalek! Yes, the fearsome villains that the Doctor has attempted to crush time and time again can finally meet their doom at your hands -- or more specifically, at your teeth.

They already make lollipops that spin and play music, so I think it should be simple enough to make one that yells, "THE DOCTOR!" and "EXTERMINATE!". I might even be able to work in some flashing LEDs on the stick to make the whole thing light up. The sticks could even have small plastic Daleks at the end; rinse them off and collect the whole Cult of Skaro! Put on tiny puppet shows! Annoy your siblings in the car! The possibilities are endless.

What time is it in England? I've got some calls to make to the BBC.
  • Current Music
    The Timelords -- Doctorin' the Tardis
Suspicious :: made by alpheratz ::

Blind Line Leading the Blind Line

My improv comedy troupe just held auditions, and we've brought in a couple of dozen new players. I've been showing up for the practices because I like to get to know people, and because I figure I could always use a refresher on the basics, too. Many of the new players are entirely new to improv, and it's fun watching people figure things out for the first time.

The weird thing is, I'm a senior player now. On the one hand, this makes sense. I've been with the troupe since 2005, and have been playing shows for nearly six years now. I've been to a lot of workshops with a lot of talented teachers; I've had a fair bit of time to identify what works and what doesn't, what's going to build a scene and what's going to tank one, and things like that.

On the other hand: I'm a sysadmin. I wandered into the auditions in 2005 on a whim, and was shocked when I got into the troupe. I've spent the time since then trying to figure out what on Earth I was doing, desperately trying to analyze the performances of the other improvisors to make sense of why some scenes were great, and some were terrible. Honestly, I think I've still only got a shaky grasp of that.

So it's pretty odd to me that there are now people looking up to me, trying to learn improv from what I'm doing. I feel like I should warn them that I haven't really got it together yet. However, people do regularly pay money to come see me onstage -- even people I don't know! And the folks in charge of the troupe keep scheduling me, and even letting me lead teams, so I suppose I'm doing all right at this hobby.

Still, I feel like I've suddenly been called on to teach a class on economics. I'm interested in the subject, and I dabble in it; I'll even discuss theories at parties. But basically, I'm just making it up as I go along. I'm not prepared to have people writing down what I say. It doesn't seem like the sort of thing that's going to go well for them when the test rolls around.
  • Current Music
    Batman TV Theme
Bite Me

Warning: Nuts

Some people have children with peanut allergies. As these allergies can be life-threatening, this is doubtless a very scary thing for them. And I'm basically okay with "peanut-free zones" in schools and kids' gyms, although this is largely because I just don't care about this issue, and not because I necessarily think they're right to demand it.

Here's something that they're certainly not right to demand, though: that General Mills stop making its new Peanut Butter Cheerios because the parents' peanut-allergic kids might be too careless to tell the difference. They cite concern that kids might take them from someone else without knowing that they contain peanut. Is this really a new problem? Is this new version of Cheerios the first product to contain peanuts without the words "WARNING: PEANUTS" stamped on each individual piece?

If your child is allergic to a food, you need to teach that child how to read labels, both the big words on the front and the small ones under the nutrition information. You need to tell that child not to accept food of uncertain provenance. And while you should certainly inform others responsible for your child's care of your child's allergy, you should not attempt to get a food staple wiped off of the face of the Earth, lest your child come into contact with it.

I don't have the commitment necessary to mount a counter-campaign against this, but I know who does. I need a Ouija board, a stick of chalk, six drippy candles, a clay bowl, a jar of Planters and a hammer. Tonight, I'm summoning up the vengeful ghost of George Washington Carver, and I'm going to show him this article. That ought to quiet down this nonsense for a while.
  • Current Music
    Delta Rae -- Bottom of the River

For the Cure

Yesterday, Susan G Komen for the Cure announced that it would end its grants -- almost $700,000 last year -- to Planned Parenthood to help them fund breast exams. The reason given was that the organization's rules did not allow it to provide funding to those under Congressional investigation, but as that rule is new and, I believe, affects only Planned Parenthood, it's a fairly transparent trick.

People are, as you might expect, furious about this. I imagine that some people are happy, too, but they're not being nearly as vocal at the moment. And frankly, unless they know of plans that Komen has to fund breast exams through someone else, I don't particularly care to hear from them; they're celebrating a political victory at the cost of people's lives. I wrote to Komen last night and asked if they had such plans, but I haven't heard back. I expect that they're a bit busy at the moment, honestly.

Oddly enough, I think this might turn out to be a good thing. According to reports, Planned Parenthood has raised over $250,000 since yesterday, which is an impressive start. This is also calling people's attention to the fact that Komen spends nearly a million dollars a year, not on breast cancer research, but on suing other charities who attempt to use "for the cure" in their names. And, since pink ribbons are splashed across every news site today, it's also drawing attention to breast cancer, at least as much as the ubiquitous bumper stickers do.

As ever, if this disgusts you, put your money where your mouth is. Go donate to Planned Parenthood. Write a note expressing your disappointment to the board of Susan G Komen. And contact your congresspeople to complain about Rep. Stearns' wasteful and unnecessary investigation of Planned Parenthood, which was the pretext for Komen's split. It'll cost you five dollars for the donation and five minutes on your computer for the emails. Make yourself heard.
  • Current Music
    Rebecca Loebe -- 10,000 Days

Also Available: Moon Mayor, Senator from the Moon

Recently, Newt Gingrich announced his intention to have a permanent American base on the Moon by the year 2020. He wasn't entirely clear on why, but I suspect the answer goes something like this: "Because it's the Moon." It's possible that he gave some other reasons, too, but if we're being honest, we know it all boils down to that. And while many people are making fun of Gingrich for floating this ridiculous idea, I think that the naysayers are failing to consider one important point.

Gingrich has suggested that should the Moon colony's population exceed 13,000 people, it would be able to petition for statehood. This means that you, personally -- or more importantly, me, personally -- could become the governor of the Moon.

Now, I don't know what it's going to cost to travel to the Moon. And running a political campaign is never cheap. Assuming Gingrich's plan succeeds, I've got eight years to save up, though -- and if it doesn't, I've got even longer. In any case, this is definitely something worth aiming for.

It will mean sacrifices. My private island is probably going to have to get put on hold, maybe indefinitely. There's still hope for it in the future, of course, but I imagine that commuting from the Moon is going to be somewhat pricey; I might do better to just rent some island space on my trips back to Earth. If I make the right political connections, I could probably even get other island owners to lend me the use of their getaways, allowing me to save my money for expanding my lunar mansion.

In fact, if I can just get enough of my friends to move to the Moon with me, I'll have the benefits of a private island -- only people I like, I get to run the place, not a lot of people stopping by -- and the title of Moon governor. That would be the best of both worlds.
  • Current Music
    LMFAO -- Hot Dog

On My Side

I'm not sure this is reversible.

I think I've got them all worked out now, though. Linking up every iteration of myself wasn't easy, and there were definitely some problems with the early experiments. The ocean is impassable to someone without a boat, after all. Traveling in it is no harder than traveling in the third dimension; it's just a matter of finding the right vehicle. Time is just another dimension. The basic concept is simple.

The perspective this gives me is immense. Hindsight is 20/20, even more so when considered from a variety of viewpoints -- and I have them all. They're all mine, of course, but I'm as different from myself sixty years ago as anyone I'm ever likely to meet. I have a lifetime of experience available at every point on my timeline.

My recall is perfect. My precognition is crippling.

There are problems. There are problems. There are problems. There are problems. There are problems. There are problems. There are problems. There are problems. There are problems. There are problems. There are problems. There are problems. There are problems. There are problems. There are problems. There are problems. But they're relatively minor, and I'm sure I'll work them out in time.

xccccccccccccccccccccccknnkl/lnkfb r rf h'asfas'afs'na'sn vnklv al/jadvjl 24364314azasV 3dcadbabsdb351aarng/783erah783ZDH873H843DH3fkfd

I am a collective intelligence. It's -- there are no words to describe it. I'm not godlike, but I am a civilization unto myself now. No, more: an entire race. I've taken Zeno's deli slicer to my life. I vastly outnumber all of the humans that have ever lived.

The perspective this gives me is immense. Hindsight is 20/20, even more so when considered from a variety of viewpoints -- and I have them all. They're all mine, of course, but I'm as different from myself sixty years ago as anyone I'm ever likely to meet. I have a lifetime of experience available at every point on my timeline.

I have achieved infinity! I have achieved stasis. All of my time is open to me, and frozen. It's like I can travel anywhere in the world, and see only photographs of it when I arrive there. I think it's a fair trade. I think I like it. I think I have my entire life to decide.

I'm not sure this is reversible.

Did I already say that?
Blah Blah Blah

For the People

Let's say you are a business owner. You've got an employee who's been hired to do a specific job; for the purposes of this analogy, let's say it's making fries. His job description is straightforward: make fries for the customers. On his resume, he claimed to know how to use the fryer, how long to leave the fries in, how to properly salt and season the fries, and so forth. But when you look at his performance, you find it's drastically lacking. To be sure, he's making fries. But they're often still half-frozen when he takes them out and the seasoning is erratically applied. He's paying no attention to the number of fries that are meant to be going into each size, meaning that the customers aren't getting what they paid for, and it's making you look bad. In short, it's like he's barely paying any attention to his work at all. The fries come out okay when you stand over his shoulder and watch him do it the entire time, but you're starting to think that maybe he's really just not the best guy for the job.

Now, let's say that you are a citizen of the United States of America. You've got some employees who have been hired to do specific jobs; for the purposes of this reality, let's call them congresspeople. Their job description is straightforward: create, rescind or change laws to improve our country. And there's a key element in there that maybe you've noticed your congresspeople not quite following through on: reading the laws to find out what they do first.

Since yesterday, at least seven of the co-sponsors of PIPA have announced their opposition to the bill. Senator Marco Rubio said that he had "legitimate concerns about the impact the bill could have on access to the Internet and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government's power to impact the Internet."

That's an excellent thing to be concerned about. But perhaps Senator Rubio should have investigated this bill and discovered that he had this concern about it before putting his name on it as a co-sponsor. Why did he not have this concern on Tuesday? Unless Florida does things very differently than I expect, Sen. Rubio has an entire staff whose job is to help him read and understand these things. And yet the fries still came out undercooked.

There are plenty of people who can work a fryer. It might be a good idea to find some who are less likely to burn down the business if left unattended.
  • Current Music
    Bad Lip Reading -- Dirty Spaceman

Stop Congress Act

Good news: it looks like the internet isn't going to fall apart just yet. Thanks to a loud and widespread outcry, the President has stated quite directly that the Stop Only Piracy Act is not going to pass his office. The Protect IP Act, it seems likely, will fall under the same onslaught. This is, as I mentioned, excellent news for the internet and all of its denizens.

The bad news, of course, is that this sort of thing is going to keep on happening. I don't mean solely in relation to the internet; I mean Congress passing laws without understanding their ramifications. In fact, forget the ramifications; it's clear that several of the supporters of PIPA don't even realize what copyright is, or don't think it applies to them. My favorite of the pictures on that page is the one from Rep. Dennis Ross's site, where he's taken a copyrighted image and simply cut off the copyright mark. If you'd like to stop online piracy, Congressman, I know where you can start.

When people actually take notice, as happened in this case, Congress can be made to back down. However, too much of the time, no one pays attention. Even today, when SOPA was due to be voted on, amidst the flurry of anti-SOPA and -PIPA postings on my Facebook were more than a few queries of "What is this? I haven't heard about it."

A bad law can be thrown out by the courts, but in the time it takes for a challenge to be heard, much damage can be done. It's far better to contact your congresspeople before the votes, so they can know that their constituents are not happy, and perhaps understand exactly what it is they're voting for. To do that, though, people need to be informed.

So, fellow Americans: read the news. Find some sites that care about issues that appeal to you and follow them. Stay abreast of current events. Defend your country and your lifestyle against those who seek to destroy it. It's the American way.
  • Current Music
    Kaiser's Orchestra -- Bak Et Halleluja
The Devil You Say!

Killing Time

I don't say this often, but I need to find a creationist. I know there are some of them near me; I see them driving past me on the road with bumper stickers like "DOUBT DARWIN" or the Jesus fish eating the Darwin fish. However, it's very hard to strike up a conversation with someone on the road. There are closed windows in between us, and rushing wind, and a general disinclination to just look out your side window in case the person you're passing wants to ask you a philosophical question.

I have a new question to ask a creationist, though, one that's been bugging me since I first thought of it this morning. How do creationists feel about extinction? I went to the Creation Wiki in search of an answer, but there's nothing there to indicate that they've considered the ramifications at all. The numbers are bad enough even if you're not a creationist; some scientists estimate that up to 20% of all currently existing species could become extinct in the next couple of decades. That's a troubling sort of figure to someone like me, who believes that species evolved to fill specific niches, meaning that their absence could have broad-reaching ramifications for the environment. But if you believe that God created each species individually, carefully crafting each one for a specific purpose, what can you possibly think about their extinction?

The Creation Wiki doesn't seem to have an issue with the fact that humans are erasing God's handiwork from the face of the Earth. In their article on dinosaur extinction, they suggest that dinosaurs were on Noah's Ark, and only later were hunted into extinction by humans. So when God caused a worldwide cataclysm, he intentionally spared the dinosaurs. Shouldn't there be a problem with the idea that people then killed them off?

Creationists, as far as I can figure, ought to be the leaders of every conservation program. They should be the ones you hear about on the news, who killed would-be poachers or fired upon whaling vessels. Killing is against the commandments, of course, but humans are in no danger of going extinct, so surely there's some leeway; God orders plenty of killing in the Bible when it suits his purposes. Keeping one of his creations from being removed from existence seems like it must qualify for an exemption.
  • Current Music
    Megadeth -- Symphony of Destruction