July 30th, 2014

#4314: Well, that was nice.

Yesterday evening I hied myself out to the garage and tried to adjust the motorcycle's chain, and I am convinced that there must be a better way to do this crap.

This year, I have now adjusted the damned thing a total of some five times. I alternate between getting it too tight (so that it makes uncomfortable noises at speed) or too loose (so that it slaps against the swingarm on deceleration). Neither condition is good.

Finally, though, I managed to get the damned thing dialed in so that it was not hitting the swingarm. Whee!

I took the bike out, then, for the first decent ride I've had in months. I had a gander at the road construction, then picked up gyros for dinner, and the chain started out on the noisy side but quieted down as I rode.

Even so, it's probably time to get a new chain. And while I'm replacing the chain I really want to replace the wheel bearings, too.

Maybe next month. Maybe.

* * *

The answer is to never forget that Heinlein was a proponent of free love. John C. Wright discusses the scene in Glory Road where Oscar Gordon is basically required to have sex with all kinds of young women in order to satisfy a backward custom.
There is a scene in Robert Heinlein’s GLORY ROAD, where the hero, Oscar Gordon, is traveling among barbarians from some outer dimension. Their custom is to share their daughters’ love (or wives’) with traveling heroes for a night or two, in hopes of fathering good stock. Oscar the hero unwittingly offends the custom by refusing the copulate with the daughter of the local lord, his host. For this he is tongue-lashed by the heroine for being provincial, backward, rude and stupid; at some personal risk to himself, he returns to the mansion of the barbarian lord, apologizes manfully, commits orgy, fornicates with gusto, and goes on his way with the heroine on his arm, her eyes shining with admiration. This heroine is named Star; the names of the nice young ladies with whom he ruts are nowhere mentioned.
As I recall from my last reading of the book, the character's issue was not with the sex, but with the age of one of the participants. Being a veteran of the war in "southeast asia", he had developed an aversion to having sex with underage females, and one of the girls offered to him by his host was apparently young enough not to have any hair, if you know what I mean. (Old enough to get pregnant, but not old enough to need a Brazilian? Do I understand this?) And that was enough to sour him on the whole idea.

Heinlein often spoke--with considerable disdain--about people confusing their personal preferences with natural law...but he himself did exactly the same thing, time and again.

Now, have customs like that existed in history? Most assuredly. Our modern culture's emphasis on protecting the innocence of children is also not unique, but neither is it commonplace in history. Peodphilia was a feature of the founding culture of western civilization (ancient Greece), and it was scarcely less common in Roman culture. It's common practice in present day Afghanistan for a man to have a catamite.

I'm not saying it's good; I'm just pointing out the relativity of morality, here. Different times, different customs.

I have always thought that the problem in Glory Road arose because Star didn't explain to Oscar WTF was going on. She expected him to know--without being told--what was going to happen when he accepted the landowner's offer of hospitality, and got angry at him when she learned that he'd slept alone. As far as I'm concerned, I think Oscar was sensible.

As the whole scene demonstrates, people are touchy as hell about their sexual mores, and if you don't know what you're doing, you're walking through a proverbial minefield. No one told Oscar it was okay so he took the wisest path and refused the offer. What if he'd picked the wrong daughter? For all he knew, he would have ended up flayed and castrated and set on fire. He didn't know the customs because no one had explained them to him.

It was wrong of Star to have hung him out to dry like that. It was wrong of her to expect him to know, without anyone telling him, what were the customs of the world he found himself in. It was wrong of her to let him accept the landowner's offer of hospitality without explaining the implications to him, and it was wrong of her to be angry at him for making the best choice he could with the limited information available to him.

The whole scene in the book neatly demonstrates Heinlein's prejudices about sexual mores, though.

(That British cover for the book definitely would have sold a lot of copies in the US.)

* * *

Keynesian economic myths debunked.

I am more and more convinced that I am an ad hoc disciple of the Austrian school of economics, if only because everything they say makes sense, and none of the other schools do.

Keynesian economics are right out, though, let me tell you.

* * *

Over the past few days, the symptoms of stress have been lessened. The gut is behaving better and I'm actually getting some f-ing sleep for a change. Believe me, this is helping to make me a lot more comfortable.

It's not going to last, of course, but I'll take whatever respite I can get.

One consequence of all this was me having the energy and mental fortitude to go work on my motorcycle last night. Gee! When you're not amazingly stressed out, you can devote energy to other things! It's a miracle!


Right now, however, I find that I am required elsewhere. Off I go!

#4315: I found 'em!

Working on the basement for about an hour this evening, after the trustee meeting at church, I found a bunch of things I haven't seen in a while.

I found, for example, the C-64, its attendant disk drives, and all the software. Said floppies are probably only fit for use as coasters, but one can hope that the data is still intact and accessible. We won't know until I hook it up, which isn't going to happen this week.

I found my videotapes of the three Indiana Jones movies, bought from McDonald's as part of a holiday promotion in 1990 or 1991. (Buy a combo meal, get one of the movies for $8 on VHS. I bought all three in the space of a week.)

I found several textbooks which I will never, never, ever need again--control systems and communications. While I may someday go back to school, I will never use those textbooks again, because they are already two decades obsolete. (Hint: there was a picture showing an example of a cellular telephone. It was a handset attached to a briefcase-sized unit, which was state-of-the-art in 1989.)

Also found in the same box: Borland Turbo Pascal reference manuals, and a C++ programming guide. Both those books were written for DOS 5.0; enough said. I haven't written any programs more complicated than simple WoW scripts since 1997 and if I ever decide to program something I'm going to have to start from scratch anyway, so I tossed them all.

So I made a big pile of junk to toss, a smaller pile of electronics to recycle, and an even smaller pile of donatables. One of the latter is a fully functioning Norcent DVD player, which--again--I will never use, as I've got some three or four other DVD players which are of much higher quality and feature HDMI outputs.

I also found some of my older writing, stuff that I thought hadn't been printed. It had; it was put into banker's boxes, in file folders, and carefully stored off the floor. This makes me happy, because I'm going to want to have a gander at all that stuff. Eventually I'm going to have an actual office where I do all my writing, and I'll want to have this stuff in filing cabiniets so I can refer to it as needed.

One of the things I've been meaning to recycle is the old Compaq Presario 1230 laptop. It's vintage 1998 and I'm not going to use it any more, not even as a diagnostic terminal for the Fiero, so it's time to let it go. Right now it's next to my computer desk because I want to try booting it before I pull the hard drive and toss the remainder on the recycle pile.

So I've got a big pile of stuff to take to the store tomorrow, to put on the "recycle" stack. I'm even getting rid of my HP scanner since I haven't used the thing in seven years, not since I got Cephiro and discovered that HP hadn't bothered to write drivers for Vista. (Asshats.)

Until I know what I'm doing with it, the box for the blab slab is being stored in the garage. There's room for it out there and I need the room in the basement to move stuff around. But I don't want to toss it, because if I have to transport the 'slab long distance (farther than a few miles) I'll probably want to put it into its box.

In short, then, I got a sizable pile of junk out of the basement tonight, and it took me a little less than an hour to do it.