June 6th, 2012

#3413: Why am I awake now?

I went to bed at 1 AM because I was tired; but I couldn't sleep.

Whole lot of things going through my mind, things I've spent years trying to find answers for and still haven't:

Why do I have so much trouble with women?

It doesn't seem like there's anything wrong, but something must be wrong considering the situation. I don't meet many; the ones I do meet are taken or insane. (Or both.)

I'm reasonably good-looking. I have all my parts (except for my appendix, which no one cares about anyway) and I'm a nice guy with a good sense of humor. Yet here I am, 2.6 years from the end of my last relationship, and nothing.

It would be considerably easier if I was an amoral douchebag who didn't care about anything but his own pleasure, I suppose. As hard as I've tried to jettison the romantic in me, I'm apparently stuck with it. This relegates me to "beta" status, which is effectively no status in our post-feminist, post-sexual-revolution world.

Why don't I have a career?

The longest-term job I ever had was working part-time (32 hours a week) as a computer technician. That lasted about five years. I tried making a career out of it, but our economy needed fewer computer techs after Clinton decided to hit Microsoft with an antitrust suit (thus popping the dot com bubble). Besides, when I got a job as a tech writer, that was what I'd really wanted to do anyway--but we all know how that turned out.

It used to be that when I'd get down on myself about this and complain about it to Mom, she'd point out that I was just having an extended unlucky streak. She's not around any more to reassure me with that, but it feels better than saying, "Because you're a failure!"

This, of course, also has an effect on the issue above. If you're unemployed that typically translates to "unemployed loser" and is an automatic disqualifier for getting chicks. At least, when you're "nice guy who cares about more than his own pleasure", it is.

Does anything ever make sense?

The older I get, the less sense the world makes to me. I've adjusted to the fact that my parents had good intentions when they taught me about hard work and perserverance, but that the world doesn't actually work that way. I learned all kinds of things from my Dad about character and integrity and honor...but I didn't learn until much later--after his death, in fact--that none of that matters a lick when the people in charge have none. And usually, they got to where they are because they lack those qualities, or in spite of having them. I have met a vanishingly small number of people in positions of authortiy over me who got there via hard work and character, rather than applying their lips to the correct asses.

What's the point of being moral and ethical when no one else is?

I can't answer that question. I don't know what the point is; I only know that there is one and it matters--which is why I don't go look for an easy lay on Craigslist (or Adult Friend Finder or WTF-ever) and which is why I remain scrupulously honest in my dealings, and why I refuse to compromise on my principles even as they make me miserable.

I don't have good answers that I can verbalize other than this shit is important and I cannot and will not lightly abandon it solely because it makes things easier.

If you're so smart, why ain't you rich?

That's something Heinlein said time and again, in various stories of his. I supposedly am very, very intelligent. In 5th grade I was given a series of tests that demonstrated I was a genius. I was reading at a freshman college reading level back then, around age 10. There were some words I didn't know how to pronounce ("sepulchur" for example) but I knew what they meant, and although I'm probably not as high on the IQ score now as I was back then I'm still much smarter than the average bear.

...and it's done me exactly zero good.

It hasn't made me any money and it doesn't get me laid. If I had been born with an average brain instead of the one I got, would I be better off?

My Mom smoked throughout all her pregnancies. They say smoking is detrimental to the IQ of the baby. What if she hadn't smoked? Would I have taken over the world by now? Was I born just smart enough to do myself no good? Is this a bad thing?

No matter what teachers and school counselors and parents told me, though, I never failed to feel stupid and ineffective, except in a few narrowly-defined situations. The classic "brain" type: high intelligence quotient and perilously low social quotient. I can figure out what's wrong with your laser printer in about ten minutes but I can't get a date to save my life--yeah.

And people who are the other way around are a lot happier than I am.


* * *

I don't even know what this is supposed to be doing for me. Call it the quarterly allotment of whining as required by the LiveJournal Terms of Service, and leave it at that.

#3414: Whoever made that decision should be fired.

I'm talking about this story where police in Aurora, Colorado stopped and detained 19 innocent people who happened to be passing through an intersection.

See, there was a bank robbery, and they had no description of the suspects, but they knew what direction they'd gone--so they shut down this intersection, got all the people out of their cars, handcuffed them, and searched the cars.

As soon as the cops finished searching the car, the owner was un-handcuffed...but not allowed to leave, so these people were held against their will without cause for two hours.

Jackbooted thug much?

* * *

*sob* Democracy died tonight! *sob sob whaaa*

...because Scott Walker won the recall vote in Wisconsin, democracy is dead.

Steven Den Beste linked the metafilter thread about the election and there's some mighty fine schadenfreude to be had from that one.

Ace: "MSNBC Sh**s The Bed On Recall Coverage". Heh.

WND: "Media humiliated over election coverage".

* * *

Weer'd has this "gun death?" category that he posts a lot in--where he talks about stories in which there are fatal incidents that do not involve firearms.

It's meant to showcase how the anti-rights folks in the gun control movement don't care about human life but about banning guns.

Most of the time I read his posts on the subject, nod in agreement, and carry on--but this one is about a moron riding a motorcycle and injuring a kid while popping a wheelie.

I am never impressed by someone doing a wheelie on a motorcycle. Do you know the last time a wheelie impressed me?

1974. I was eight.

If you pop a wheelie in traffic, I don't think you're cool or skilled; I think you're a moron. I think you're an idiot because you've taken your vehicle out of its safe operating envelope, into a regime where a slight mistake in balance can kill you or someone else. I don't think you're cool, because getting a two-wheeled vehicle to pop a wheelie is a trivial exercise; a 10-year-old can do it on his bicycle with nothing more than his leg muscles.

Somewhere around the Internet, not long ago, I saw a news video which included a helmet cam clip of a total retard zooming his bike to over 200 MPH...and the first hundred MPH was done on one wheel. On a public road.

There's no excuse for that. None.

So there's this case, where you have a shit-for-brains kid (25, but he acts like a kid) who has committed multiple offenses, even to being sentenced to a year's probation for riding without a license--and has been cited for not having his bike insured. The guy is completely irresponsible, and his riding behavior has been demonstrated to be equally irresponsible by all the convictions and the revocation of his license and the continued riding even after his license was taken away--and not only has he continued to ride his bike, but he's continued to ride it like a total asshat to boot. Hopefully this time he'll get some actual jail time instead of probation. WTF.

* * *

Fuel efficient cars mean fewer gallons of fuel sold, which means declining state revenues; and that means "new taxes"! Because government can never make do with less money, ever.

And the idea of tracking my every move? They can kiss my ass. I won't do it. I won't buy a car equipped with the necessary hardware and if they install it I'll find a way to make sure it doesn't work. Shit.

* * *

Obamanomics is working perfectly! If by "perfectly" you mean "duplicating the Great Depression".

* * *

Uhh...no, this isn't a new idea.

Clarke had just such a spacedrive in Songs of Distant Earth and I'm not entirely sure it wasn't already an old idea then. (Spoiler alert: full synopsis of the book at that link.)

That novel was a pretty compelling one, IMHO. It also led me to look into quantum vacuum energy, and I wsa stunned to learn it was real, that in physics textbooks it was discussed by its other name, "the Casimir Effect".

Robert Forward (I think it was Forward) worked out a way to extract miniscule amounts of energy from a quantum vacuum system, but we haven't really figured out ways to extract industrial (or even useful) quantities of energy from a QV system.

What this smart young lady may have patented is a method by which one may actually extract useful energy from it--but she hasn't discovered anything new.

...and since the articles are written by journalists there is absolutely no useful information in them on what or how, or even how much.

* * *

The ennui of last night has dissipated, and I woke up feeling enormously better. Usually when I get into that mood I'm just tired, and last night was no exception; the exception was my inability to sleep. Thrillsville.

After getting to bed far too late in the morning I slept until about 3:30, and woke up feeling as if I'd been subjected to the Vietnamese shot-filled-hose treatment. So then I sit down here with a ham-and-cheese bagel to do my bloggeratin', and spend two hours on surfing, reading, and commenting--and still the grass needs cutting.

When I went to tech school, one of the ideas I had in mind was to build a grass cutting robot. I had envisioned something that had to be trained once, but afterwards would repeat the same path and flawlessly cut the grass.

This was 1990, and the required hardware would have cost about ten thousand dollars. And it would not have worked very well, for a variety of reasons.

The biggest stumbling block was keeping the damned thing on course. GPS was still "detuned" for civilian use at the time (and isn't accurate enough even now for what I'd need). Inertial navigation is all well and good until something gets out of whack; then the thing's just as likely to mow down your neighbor's dog as to steer around your petunias. Ditto for counting the turns of the wheels.

The best idea I had was corner reflectors at strategic locations...and that simply won't do, because if some kid comes along and thinks, "This is neat; I'll take it!" suddenly your lawn mower gets lost, rolls out into traffic, and gets smashed into scrap by a garbage truck. Even if a neighborhood kid doesn't take one, they'll get dirty, or the grass will grow around it, or-or-or--

I just couldn't figure out a way to make the system work. The best idea I've had so far is an "electronic fence", like they use for dog collars; bury a cable around the perimeter of your property and then let the damned robot do whatever it feels like doing, as long as it stays inside the "fence". This means you still have to take a manual mower around the outside edge of your property but it's a damned sight easier than anything else.

But I don't think it would reliably cut all the grass, and there we have our problem. It starts getting into nitty-gritty details like sensing the height of the grass, and recently-cut versus not-cut, and so forth, and pretty soon there are about half a dozen sensors that I have to find ways to keep in calibration so the thing doesn't try to mow your trees (or bushes), and--

--and then I say, "To hell with it! It's easier just go out and cut it myself." Which I'm going to do now.