Saturday, January 20, 2018

Some Are Cats, Some Are Dog

I'm tinkering with this improper little essay, so don't expect it to be the same over time.
Many people are dogs. They feel the need for a master and they are not comfortable without someone to tell them what to do. They are especially not comfortable with those outside the pack.

Others are cats. We cats tolerate dogs: they are useful and amusing. We don't especially feel the need to have a master although we'll let someone think so if they feed us and shelter us.

Humans often misunderstand the situation by focusing on the small size of house cats, compared to domestic dogs. In nature, the largest land predator is the cat.

Plus: cats scream during sex. Dogs just look guilty.

Cruelty and the #TrumpShutDown

Monday I shall be working for you for free, if the #Trumpshutdown continues. No need to thank me. The fascists set this up by refusing even to vote on the bipartisan DREAM bill, and I don't mind a bit of sacrifice on behalf of 700,000 people who came here as children.
The Trump supporters among my immediate family unfriended me because they couldn't stand being contradicted, so I can't ask them at what point a 5-year-old child (now a DREAMER) becomes a criminal: when her mother approaches the border or immediately after?
Under what possible theory do they think that 5-year-old should say, "Mommy, I am leaving you because it's illegal to enter the United States."
That's what we're talking about. That 5-year-old grew up here and is now 25 and working somewhere, and my fascist friends and families want to send her back to a nation she never knew, to be absorbed. How she would then live we can only imagine. On this basis alone I call Trump supporters cruel.
This is all on purpose. Trump cancelled DACA six months ago and the Republican leadership in Congress refuses to allow a vote on DREAMER reform - it would pass if they allowed a vote, but they are cruel people. They should have re-authorized CHIP four months ago, but they are cruel people. Now they are holding CHIP hostage to their DACA cruelty and demanding the Democrats (and a few Republican allies) to make a Sophie's choice: CHIP children or DACA children.
It is a fine distraction from them picking your pockets and deflecting from Russia's continuing attack on America. We are losing the information war with Russia because our current leadership are fellow travelers.
My sacrifice is small, and I'll probably end up being paid anyway. Don't worry about me. I am content never to be deliberately be a part of cruelty.
What is the excuse of Trump supporters for their cruelty?

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Nixon and Trump

I supported Richard Nixon right up to the moment he resigned, and a little bit after. I simply could not believe that he was the criminal that people were portraying him as, and if he was, well it was ok because he was better than McGovern, and anyway liberals were all hypocrites who were just trying to get me to admit I was wrong.
Youth and inexperience made me wrong and foolish. These are crimes of which we have all been guilty, but we're supposed to learn our lesson.
Today my few remaining Trump supporter associates are doing the exact same thing. Some are young and will learn better. Some are old and simply refuse to learn.
Stubborn pride goes before a very hard fall. Trump is a criminal and supporting him is just like supporting Nixon. Isn't it better to admit the mistake before history rubs your nose in it?

Saturday, January 06, 2018

The Collapsing Empire: A Catastrophe Is Just Another Political Ploy

John Scalzi's latest novel "The Collapsing Empire" is another complex political space opera, in the best sense of the term. Although it has spaceships and battles and Imperial guards and all that, it's really about people and organizations reacting when scientists discover an impending catastrophe. The catastrophe itself doesn't fully manifest by the end of this novel but that's almost beside the point, as our protagonists struggle more against competing plans to turn this to advantage than against the problem itself.
The lead is an Everyman (female) thrust by circumstance into greatness and getting by, mostly by letting the professionals around her Do Their Job. I'm not sure that she makes any decisions other than to prioritize the safety of humanity, which is after all Her Job.
The liveliest character is a Merchant Prince(ss) in the role of a young Nicholas van Rijn (more profane and less restrained) whose firmly established sense of priorities includes working hard and partying harder. After one rather violent crisis she woos a survivor who objects that how can they get together after she was prepared to sacrifice him; she replies why complain about something that didn't happen, and let's get busy.
Never before have I seen a plot point hinge on whether a political faction relied upon a scientific paper that was not properly peer reviewed. Ha!
Scalzi is a master of his craft and if you expected a story that runs solidly and urgently from an explosive opening to a climactic world altering ending, you got it BUT it's obviously the beginning of a series - it sets up several problems and then doesn't resolve them. The very last spoken line points to an unwritten story to follow (or else is the author's prank.)
Don't leave readers hanging , brother Scalzi. Let's see the sequel soon!

Monday, January 01, 2018

All Is Quiet On New Year's Day

Stayed at home all day.
Did not drive car.
Did not spend money.
Tinkered with stuff, cleaned, worked on the yard.
Doing some yoga, making lunch for tomorrow and really looking forward to going back to work.
Life is not always drama.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year

I am grateful for Arthur
And I am grateful for my sister/daughter/cat co-parent Nessa

and I am grateful for Kiara but I have to get a photo of us together haha!
EDITTED: Got one!

Also grateful for my neighbors, friends, Zumba, Toastmasters, and so much family!
Also the refinance and the new heating system.
Looking forward to 2018!

December 2017 Memes


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Buzzed Safely

Madame Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters, and Honored Guests:

Who here is a good driver? Raise your hand, please.

Who here is at least a little better than average at driving?

As I thought. We're all above average. Every one!

I was reminded of this halfway through a day-long study of oxycodone.

Every now and then, I google "healthy patient study volunteers". Usually UW Medical, the Hutch or the VA hospital have some studies going for which they need "controls", people like me with nothing in particular problematic about their health.
This particular study was 12 hours of memory tests and driving tests, plus enough blood samples to choke a vampire. (It was only one needle stick - they just kept a little line in all day - vampires take note!)
At the beginning, I took a detailed memory test and then the most boring driving game in the world. I sat in front of the computer with a steering wheel and pedals and had to follow the car in front of me at a safe distance. It sped up and slowed down for no apparent reason (much like Seattle traffic!), and use my turn signals and horn when instructed, for no obvious reason (again, Seattle!)
I'm a really good driver so the only challenge was resisting the urge to fiddle with the radio that wasn't there.
Next I got the oxycodone. They told me it was a very small dose. After a while I felt mildly buzzed, like from 4 or 5 beers. I won't lie; it gave a pleasant happy feeling, although I hadn't had the pleasure of actually drinking the beers so I don't recommend it.
I felt ok to drive (because I'm a "really good driver", see above) although I'd be extra careful because I'm a responsible guy. Like you, right?
The memory test was a disaster. My immediate memory wasn't bad; I could still echo most of the words and numbers. But fifteen minutes later? it was a blank. I knew that I had memorized some words and I remember the person saying them to me, but if you offered me any amount of money, I would not remember a one.
Fortunately, driving doesn't involve learning new words (apart from the occasional swear). I got behind the wheel and took off confidently, but carefully. It was still a very boring driving game and there were no crashes or anything dramatic, but I did have trouble. A lot of trouble - it was like the steering was loose. One time when I was correcting, I even slid all the way over to the edge of the road, getting a screeching sound that the researchers gravely pretended not to notice.
This was embarrassing. I'm a really good driver and it wasn't that much of a buzz but objectively speaking I had whole lot of trouble. When I had something extra to do, like use the turn signal, it was worse.
We repeated this for hours. After a while the drug was fully metabolized; I aced the last couple of memory exams and had no trouble with the driving test. We all shook hands and I went home (...and then to a party. Yay holidays!)
I took Driver's Ed, the same as most of you. They told us in that class, and many PSAs in the years following, don't drive drunk. Even a little impaired is an unacceptable gamble. We nodded our heads gravely, and always wrote the right answer on the test: I won't do that! Inside we know: we are really good drivers and we won't drive impaired.

We might drive extra careful sometimes.


I now have objective, scientific proof that this is bullpucky. Subjectively speaking, I felt ok to drive (if I drove carefully). Objectively speaking, I was impaired.
Lucky for me it was only a game: lucky for me, and lucky for everyone else on the road.
They say you should learn from your mistakes. But the price of some mistakes is too high. It is better to learn from the mistakes of others. 

That which we hear, we may understand, but that which we experience, we believe. We heard the Driver's Ed lecture, we saw the PSAs, we understood even a few drinks can impair you - don't drive. But we felt ok, if we were careful. We are above average drivers.

We have driven ten thousand times, and we were ok. Only a few of those time may have been buzz driving, and we are ok. We know from experience we will be ok.

Which. Is. Bullpucky.

I am fortunate to have made the mistake of driving buzzed in a laboratory, where I could not avoid seeing and feeling my own b&llpucky and the only consequence was a contribution to science. All of you who are really good drivers, just like me, I ask you to learn from my mistake.

And, if you can, google healthy volunteer and take the test yourself.

Madame Toastmaster.