December 16th, 2018

#6450: Hoar frost

Got up this morning, early, to hit the can, and it was foggy outside--and the grass was covered in frost, thick frost, so that it looked as if it had snowed.

There's been a lot of that in the past week or ten days or so. A white Christmas is out of the question now, I'm certain, and the weather pattern is shaping up to line up with my predictions for a relatively warm winter. Yesterday and today were in the fifties; it's been consistently above freezing for more than a week (except at night) and it rained overnight Wednesday or Thursday. I'm glad that wasn't snow.


Anyway we went and got our Christmas tree last night, and I had an epic amount of trouble with getting it to stand straight. I don't know if it's because the stand is getting old, or if this particular tree was the problem, but I dug out the big plastic stand we bought several years ago and used it, and the tree stands straight up in it. Festoonery will occur today, later on.


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I actually think this is fair. If citizens cannot have magazines with more than ten rounds in them, why should off-duty police get to? Forget the fact that the default configuration for those guns is greater than ten rounds--that the manufacturer made them to have an unmodified capacity of twelve rounds--why should an off-duty cop get to carry a firearm that a civilian cannot? Why should off-duty cops be exempt from any law on the books?

Hell, why should on-duty cops be exempt? If the state of New Jersey has decided that high-capacity magazines are so freaking dangerous, maybe the entire law enforcement apparatus of New Jersey should also have to give up its high-cap mags.

Besides, we've seen how effective police are at using guns; the stories where police fired hundreds of rounds and struck their target a handful of times are legion. Maybe having fewer bullets per magazine would enforce a little target discipline.

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Not to put too fine a point on it, but those are muslim values, not Republican. Mainstream Republicans actually think women have rights, and also don't think gays should all be hanged.

...but the point is apt: the left excuses actual behavior from muslims that far exceeds the policy preferences of the right. In the islamic world, women are chattel and have no rights at all, and the left loves them. The right would prefer that the legality of abortion-on-demand be left to the states, and they're anti-woman.

The right doesn't want children to be indoctrinated in homosexuality in school and they're awful people; islamists throw gays off buildings and they're peachy keen.

Hypocrisy is a core feature of leftism, of course. You don't need to think about it very deeply to understand the contradiction as long as you bear that in mind. The left doesn't actually give a wet fart about gay rights or womens' rights or anyone's rights; what the left cares about is the bludgeon those issues give it to seize power. And once the left is securely in power, it gets to decide which group is the favored one--and inevitably the favored group is the party, the left itself.

It happens this way every time. And in fact, what usually happens is that once the left has secured power, the very groups it purports to support become "out" groups, persecuted because their willingness to oppose one government could easily carry over to opposing the leftist government. It's pathetically easy to justfy; Gay Activist sees that the new regime isn't doing any better about "gay rights" and protests, and the new regime says, "Well, you're just not a good leftist," and off he goes to the gulag--and anyone with him. Any group that objects to the new order is dealt with, no matter how fervent was their support of revolution. Ask Leon Trotsky.

The Khmer Rouge is the most extreme example. People got shot just for looking like intellectuals, and so-called intellectuals are usually the first people to support marxism. Also artists and academics. People who were members of groups that typically supported socialism were none the less rounded up and executed, wholesale, because the regime decided they were a threat.

The left is vehemently opposed to what America represents; that's why it sides with any group or organization which opposes the traditional US establishment. The left feeds on violence and oppression and death, and cannot stand a place where people are free and prosperous. For the moment, muslims are "fellow travelers"; but if the left were ever to secure power, the concentration camps and mass graves would fill up with muslims.

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There's a comment at this post which makes a great deal of sense. In Star Wars--before it was "A New Hope"--Darth Vader was not really all that important in the Empire. In Empire Strikes Back he was the Emperor's right-hand-man. The two comments made in December of 2016 (this is a repost), taken together, make some interesting points about the untold backstory.

Basically, Vader is more important than he looks in ep 4, and between ep 4 and 5 he's maneuvered himself into a place at the emperor's side.

...which, of course, ignores the fact that in eps 1, 2, and 3, Anakin Skywalker goes from kid to nascent Jedi to the emperor's right-hand-man. But we can forgive that; some eighteen or so years pass between ep 3 and ep 4, and a lot can happen to a man's career in that time. Perhaps Vader had fallen out of favor for some reason?

But I think that ep 4 and ep 5 are actually internally consistent. It's a common thing in movie series; in the first one you establish who the bad guy is, and in the sequel, you reveal the power behind him--it's pretty good storytelling, which only further convinces me that George Lucas can't write his way out of a wet paper bag.

I like the idea of Darth Vader being a figure like Otto Skorzeny; they could have done that and done great things, story-wise. But the depiction of Darth Vader in Star Wars does not preclude his depiction in Empire Strikes Back, and still fits very well.

It's demonstated that the Emperor uses Vader as a kind of troubleshooter, though, and his presence on the Death Star in Star Wars makes sense. Tarkin is in charge of the thing, and to my way of thinking that would seem to indicate that he's also greatly favored by the Emperor--in which case the relationship between Tarkin and Vader becomes clear: they are approximately equal in status and power.

Anyway, the discussion starts by talking about the CGI Tarkin in Rogue One, and I agree wholeheartedly that CGI can't replace real actors, for the reason cited.

Look: animation (of any kind) can evoke all kinds of emotion. I've talked before about how much emotion a good comic artist can pack into a single still frame, esp. someone really talented like Rumiko Takahashi--but the artist must set out specifically to convey those emotions, must actually instill the drawn image with them.

That's what's wrong with the CGI actor: sure, it looks like someone, and it moves convincingly, but it's not that person. Nuance in the performance must be digitally added by an artist, and if the artist doesn't add it, it's not there. So the CGI Tarkin is not the Tarkin we see in Star Wars. It's quite literally a caricature.

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Speaking of caricatures, Starship Troopers, the movie extruded by Paul Verhoeven.

...incidentally WHY THE HELL DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME ABOUT THIS? In the Heinlein story, the main character is "John". In the movie, the main character is the bartender--but it's Heinlein's story!

Mediocre, I'm told, but now I have to see it. End digression.

The movie can be summed up most eloquently like this:
Something that vaguely resembled something from the novel would happen on screen but it was like the screen writer had only heard about it third hand from someone who hated the book.
I saw the movie one time, on opening night, in the theater. It was full of glitz and wow, and I left the theater liking it...but after I got home and thought it over, I realized what an unmitigated turd it was.

And never watched it again, let alone any of its sequels.

The update to this repost concludes, speaking of a YouTube review of the movie, with a salient point:
[Reviewer points out that] Starship Troopers there is never any effort to reach an understanding with the Bugs.

Of course being good liberals they are making the assumption that the Bugs would have something to say other than, "well you see the reason we are killing all of you is that, we want you all to die. We have no desire to share a universe with you whatsoever."
The main flaw that I find with Heinlein's book is that the Bugs' motivation for war is murky.

It's demonstrated, for example, that they don't need the same kind of real estate we do.

Item: Klendathu has an atmosphere that's poisonous to humans, but the Bugs live underground.

Item: The Skinnies are not Bugs, and they have some kind of agreement with the Bugs, so the Bugs are clearly not simple xenophobes. Further the Skinnies are not enslaved by the Bugs; their relationship is portrayed as voluntary.

Item: The war itself is characterized as being "skirmishes" and "actions" long before it turns into total war. When Rico is in BT, there is no war; the war begins sometime during that period, or shortly afterwards. During this "feeling out" phase, hhe mentions (in passing) that there's some kind of diplomacy involved, though it's confined to a single sentence.

So it's not over territory; it's not because the Bugs hate all other races; it's not because of some casus belli that mandates total war. It's something else.

...and of course because Johnny Rico is "just a grunt" he wouldn't necessarily know anything, and the story makes plain that a soldier's job is to shut up and soldier. It's also clear that the war is only just starting out, approximately at the same time Johnny's career in the Mobile Infantry is.

Anyway, it's a gripe of mine. I'd like to know. Still, there isn't really any need to, I guess.

* * *

Most probably it was a triple conjunction of Regulus and Jupiter. There was a conjunction of Regulus and Jupiter, then a second while Jupiter was in retrograde, and then a third as Jupiter left retrograde. The "star of Bethlehem" was actually a sort of asterism, but according to the tenets of astrology it was a very, very big and important sign.

Regardless of what it actually was, though, it's part of the greatest thing ever.

#6451: Jeep afterthought

Today I went to get some KFC, and I noticed that the voltmeter is registering 14v. For quite some time it's been below that--still charging, but a bit low. 12v is the nominal voltage; a properly-functioning 12v automotive electrical system should runs around 14v when everything's working and the engine is running.

And the whir/whine my alternator was making has decreased considerably. So, yeah--bad ground, all right.