July 17th, 2019

#6758: It's bothered me all this time

...my first English class in high school was Creative Writing. First project was a short story. Everyone read theirs aloud, of course. And there was this one girl who wrote a horror story.

I didn't really listen to it; it wasn't my cup of tea and the class was a lot less interesting than I'd hoped it would be. But at the end of it, the main character got killed. Not really a problem, except for the fact that it was written in first person, past tense, and the key clause of the last sentence of the story was "...as I died...."

It's a bit clumsy and there was nothing in the story to support it ending that way. It wasn't really foreshadowed. The teacher said, "You can't do that!" The teacher said that you can't have a story in first person past tense in which the main character dies before the end of the narrative. "How is the protagonist telling the story if she's dead?" Age 15, lacking the ability to tell adults they were wrong, I didn't ask, "Why not?"

Maybe a ghost is relating the story. Maybe someone else is speaking for another person who died, kind of metaphorically or allegorically. Maybe the actual narrator is somehow experiencing what the decedent experienced. I don't know, but even at the time I thought it would not take much to fix the story as it was written; but the teacher's advice--in a creative writing class, a class that would be considered "advanced placement" today--was to rewrite it in third person because obviously you can't have the main character in a first person past tense story narrate his own death.

Of course she could have rewritten her story in present tense and kept the immediacy of first person. And like I said, there were probably an easy dozen ways to fix it and keep it first person past tense.

If you wanted to be really cheesy, "...and then I woke up!" would even do it. The teacher said not to do that and I don't blame her, but it was an out. The easiest one possible for a story like that.

I just don't like telling anyone trying to produce art, "You can't do that!" Why not? It's fricking fiction. It doesn't have to obey all the real-world rules. "Suspension of disbelief"--and since the story is over, you no longer need it.

I don't know. I accidentally took Midol instead of Tylenol for a headache, and the antihistamine in it has me feeling all woozy and loopy and spacy, but I just don't see why the ending had to be rewritten. The story needed maybe a paragraph or two, all told, added to it, to explain how it could be told this way. The ghost angle was the one that occurred to me at the time but as I said I lacked the guts to buck a teacher.

It reminds me of something Harlan Ellison wrote, about a workshop for writers that he held. Harlan Ellison seemed like a total douche to me. Knowing a bit about his personality it would not surprise me at all if it turned out to be because the writer had given a political opinion he didn't like--but he spent a session utterly shredding this guy's story and telling him that he'd never be a writer, so give up and don't waste your time. Ellison was proud of that.

Oh yes, Mr. Big Time SF writer says you'll never be good enough. Well, who the hell put him in charge?

There are people who cannot string sentences together to make a coherent story, yes, but there are plenty of professional writers out there who made it big despite that handicap. I don't think it's for Harlan Ellison to say who can and can't be a professional writer. (And as I said I cannot shake the impression that Ellison destroyed the guy solely because his story somehow gored one of Ellison's political opinions.)

It fits my impression of him that Mr. "Fuck you. Pay me," just wrecked one of his paying customers, and moreso that he did so in a way that publicly humiliated the poor guy.

* * *

Tonight's the full moon. It is sticky out there--low 70s with a dewpoint to match--and this afternoon I could see that the patio door had fogged up where the floor register blows on it.

* * *

Anime background music by Kenji Kawai--one of his OSTs was for Hime-chan's Ribbon. Now, Kawai has a real flair for doing the music for horror series, and for "cyberpunk" stuff like Ghost in the Shell. I think the ultimate expression of his talent is in the OST for the Vampire Princess Miyu (VPM) TV series; the track "Karma" is simply amazing to me.

A lot of the horror anime I've seen--the stuff that has affected me the most--does not rely on gore so much as a simple feeling of hopelessness. The stories in the VPM TV series go that way; the main character is a vampire and at the end of most episodes someone's life has been so utterly fucked up that the kindest thing that can be done is for her to bite the poor fool, drink his blood, and then let him live out the rest of his days, in a coma, in his dream world, his future otherwise gone. During those sequences, "Karma" is usually what plays in the background. It's a haunting tune, and the way he weaves the instrument sounds together just makes it.



"Ripples", from the same OST, is the same way.




The music he did for Patlabor has a different tone to it, futuristic without being heavy on electronic sounds. Patlabor is set in the early 21st century, when people are using mechs (called "Labors") for construction work and so forth. The second scene of the first Patlabor is built on the track "Heavy Armor".



This music underlies a scene where military Labors are being airdropped into a forest, and catching and then fighting another military Labor. It comes to a climax and then seques into an abbreviated title sequence, and it was hands down the absolute best opening sequence I'd seen in any movie for a long time.

Then, for Patlabor 2, this:



(Not sure where the video comes from. It's the music I'm talking about.)

"With Love" is the name of the track, and it's so chock-full of regret I just can't even. The antagonist in this movie is a man with whom one of the bosses of the Patlabor unit was in love, earlier in her career; and in fact it's made obvious that they still love each other even though they can't be together. Particularly since she has to arrest him for what he's done.

And Mermaid Forest--at the last, track 20 from the OST (I can't find it on-line), called "Now Only Herself". It plays when the antagonist of that story runs into an inferno, followed by the man who's loved her for decades.

But Hime-chan's Ribbon--go to 3:30 of this one:



The thing about Hime-chan's Ribbon is that unlike everything else I've mentioned here, this one is aimed at kids under the age of about 10. The main character, Hime-chan, is about 12, and she gets a magic ribbon that lets her transform into other people for a little while at a time. There's no real violence in the story, no sex; it's a harmless little story about a girl's adventures after some real magic enters her life. And the music for it captures that. It's innocent and light and cheerful, like the eponymous character herself.

Kenji Kawai's music is layered--textured--and I think that's why I like it; there's something going on everywhere in in.

* * *

Anyway, I got up originally to have a PBJ, to shut up my stomach. I'd better go back to bed.

#6759: BECAUSE HE FIGHTS

In the wake of "the Squad" getting up and removing all doubt, support for President Trump has gone up. Because he got up there and said what a lot of us say every day: "If you don't like it here, don't let the door hit you where the good Lord split you. Go to those countries you say you like better."

Only they don't--they never do. Trump telling them to go back to where they came from and fix those places first, before being critical of the US, is just what a lot of us think. You came here. We did not bring you here. You could have stayed where you were and made it more to your liking, but you did not do that.

"The rise in support isn't the surprising part. The surprising part is that the Media still find this surprising."
Trump somehow triggers them even more than he did in 2016--don't ask me how; it violates several important laws of thermodynamics--so they're going all-in on goofballs like AOC and her "Squad." The Media loves "the Squad," and since The Media have convinced themselves that theirs is the whip hand, they're ordering us to love "the Squad" too. To which Trump replies with a version of "lol get fucked," and since "you're free to leave this country if you hate it so much" seems forehead-slappingly obvious to anyone without a journalism degree, Trump's poll numbers rise. Which prompts another stern lecture from The Media, which receives another "lol get fucked," and around and around and around we go...
That post goes on to talk about the impending impeachment vote, and what it may portend for politics in the next few months.

It's going to come down to a vote and the Democrats in the House will have to vote on it, one way or another. I mean, they have to cast votes, and what I think will be most interesting here will be not the "yea" votes (because they're voting with their party) and not even the "nay" votes (because those votes are either from Republicans or from largely sane people who understand what impeachment means for the future of the Democrat party, hint: not good) but the abstentions. Who abstains from voting, who votes "present", and why?

Regardless of the outcome of an impeachment effort, I see Democrats losing. Nancy Pelosi wanted to avoid this because the last two years have been an unceasing triphammer of Trump-hunting, and while impeachment might be red meat for the hard left it's not going to win them any moderate votes.

Especially for something as specious as a handful of harsh sentences posted on Twattler.

...and if the House votes to impeach, then what? The case gets tried in the Senate. Which is still controlled by Republicans. So impeachment fails there--and the Democrat party has just wasted an enormous amount of political capital. Absent a serious breach, they can't impeach Trump again without looking like lunatics--and I mean Trump would have to be caught red-handed, on camera, raping a ten-year-old girl on the friggin' Resolute Desk in the Oval Office level of "serious"--with an incontinent need to remove him from office.

The old guard (Pelosi et alii) know that impeaching a popular President during a reasonable economy is a bad idea unless you've got him cold on serious shit; a few tweets that his base likes is not enough to change that calculus, which is why impeachment was quietly taken off the table months ago.

I don't see the right wing rioting should Trump be impeached. I just don't see it happening; the right wing respects the process too much for that. If you doubt me look at the reactions from the right wing every time they've lost an election: we were not the people wearing "not MY president!" t-shirts, not in 1996, and not even in 2008 or 2012. And there will be considerable anger should he be removed but it would express itself at the ballot box: a lot of Senators would find themselves primaried and/or de-elected in the general elections.

But at no stage of the process do I see the left taking reversals well, and that's the problem Pelosi faces: the Democrats have to vote for impeachment or else they will lose the left wing, and there will be riots, and they'll lose big in 2020--probably in primaries where the left holds safe districts, but also in the general elections when disgusted left-wingers don't vote for the incumbent but either stay home or vote for a third party, thus splitting the Democrat vote.

Even if the left doesn't riot, Democrats lose seats in the house. A failed impeachment on top of candidates riding the coattails of a popular President on top of the Democrat party's incontinence in the face of losing in 2016--it doesn't look good for them, regardless of how I slice it.

* * *

Check out the video embedded here. Bride plays an innocent little trick on groom...who proceeds to slap her hard enough to knock her down for it. Ah, the religion of peace!

* * *

"We will bring the fire!" Right after an antifa goon tried to burn down an ICE detention facility.
Being as generous as I can be, that is ridiculously tone-deaf following the Tacoma ICE facility attack.

Being less than generous, that is a threat that the Squad is going to incite Antifa to commit more violence.
The Democrats certainly are not going to rein in antifa.

* * *

No, this is not how I will pay for things in 2025, or ever. I am not going to have anything implanted, nor am I going to use biometrics. If you won't take cash, check, or debit card, I'm not buying from you, period.

I don't care how fucking convenient it is for me, or inconvenient for you.

* * *

If one touch could kill you, getting close enough to touch it would also kill you. That's how radioactivity actually works.

"The Claw" was reportedly used for cleaning up radioactive graphite at Chernobyl. Taking as a given that it was used to clean up debris that was mind-shatteringly radioactive, it's been sitting where it is now for about 33 years. In that time, it presumably has rained rather a lot. 33 years' worth of rain and snow.

Whatever contamination was on the thing has either decayed, or been washed away. The metal itself is probably also radioactive, because of neutron activation. And if you touched it you might pick up a tiny flake of rust or paint that was radioactive.

...but I fail to see how that could be lethal when, apparently, standing next to it is not; if you know what you're about and you're still willing to get that close to it, then the tiny flake you might pick up from touching it won't kill you.

Now, if you get up close and personal with the thing, stripping yourself naked and spend time rubbing your body on it--I could see that being lethal. Maybe.

* * *

Man threatens his daughter with a stolen handgun. Bail: none. Yes, we really need to make guns more illegal to stop all the gun violence out there, but we'll release people who violate the existing gun laws on recognizance bonds.
A defense attorney argued the father should be released without having to pay a bond because he should enjoy the benefits of the presumption of innocence.
What a lovely theory that is! By that standards there should be no bail or bond or anything; just let people go until their trials.

Why the hell was that asshat not laughed out of court? WTF!

* * *

First flight of NASA's SLS now pushed back until 2021. Big surprise. Its first flight was supposed to be 2019, then 2020, now 2021. And it keeps getting more expensive, too.

* * *

Head of Planned Parenthood has been kicked out because she thinks having a uterus is a prerequisite for needing an abortion. Her language isn't inclusive enough, you see, and she doesn't think that male-to-female transsexuals need to be able to have abortions.

These people continue to amaze me.

* * *

Seen on faceboob:



Note the reaction to the story: "yes. Because harassing the unfortunate and homeless is a good idea?"

The thing is, we have laws against vagrancy for a reason. The conditions currently prevailing in places like San Francisco demonstrate why. And rather than helping people, rather than doing them any good at all, allowing them to congregate in tent cities in public places endangers them, even more than it endangers the people around them. Those tent cities are filthy, filthy places to begin with; but the lack of running water and adequate sanitation means that third-world diseases run rampant through them and run the risk of starting an epidemic among the larger population.

That's why we have those laws. It's not because the government hates the poor and the homeless; it's because when people live under those kinds of conditions it kills them. And that doesn't even begin to touch on the crime you find in those kinds of encampments, either.

* * *

We were concentrating so hard on them naming John Glenn first man on the Moon, we didn't even notice that they mangled the quote, too. "One small step for a man, one giant step for mankind."

Calling the Moon a "planet" is also technically incorrect but I can chalk that one up to poetic license; that doesn't bother me.

Still, guys--jeeze louise.

* * *

Oh, and this. "We want to thank the 400,000 people involved in faking six moon landings for keeping their mouths shut for 50 years." (The pic says 49 but it's 50 now!)

* * *

Hey, most of the killers are illegal aliens! How do you like that?
The Los Angeles Times takes care to point out in the middle of an article discussing 24 gruesome, violent machete murders committed by illegal aliens that "MS-13 has also become a bogeyman used by President Trump to justify stronger immigration enforcement by linking the issue to crime."

Bogeyman.
Well, yeah. They have to get their digs in somehow.

* * *

This isn't news, though. A left-wing rag ranting against air conditioning for the proles and the hoi polloi naturally is going to make sure their offices are air conditioned.
Almost every summer the bigots at the Times publish a jihad against the miracle of air conditioning, and now we know these Marie Antoinettes are doing so in the comfort of a 6250 ton cooling system, which has nothing to do with the weight of the unit, but its power.
It can transfer enough heat to melt 6,250 tons of ice in 24 hours; that's what the "ton" rating means.

Leftists, hypocrisy, blah blah blah etcetera. I almost closed the link without commenting because it's just the same-old-same-old we get from these shitheads day in and day out. And then they wonder why no one reads the paper any longer?

* * *

I did close a couple articles about the huge freakout over Werner von Braun's contribution to the Moon effort. Yes, he worked for the Nazis. And? I don't see you guys spurning Volkswagens, Mercedes, Audis, or BMWs, and those guys worked for the Nazis. The next time you decide you want a Braun appliance? Change your mind, because Braun worked for the Nazis, too. There are all kinds of German manufacturers who worked for the Nazis.

The ones that didn't no longer exist.

* * *

Remember this when they tell you that renewable energy has surpassed coal in generation capacity. 3% of the US electrical supply comes from "green" or renewable sources.

A rather significant amount of power is generated by burning coal. Lots more than 3%.

* * *

I beg to differ. This neural network does require power. You don't have to plug it in, but some of the photons that enter the glass are lost--absorbed--and that is what powers the thing.

It's an amazing bit of engineering, to make a neural network in glass that can identify numerals.

* * *

I always want to counter this kind of story with a question. That question is, "How much life insurance did the decedent carry?"

Putting a price tag on a human life is stupid. There are certain reasons we do it, but you can't tell me that Boeing offering a settlement of $150,000 per dead person is unreasonably low. What figure should they apply? The article says that the original estimate of $300,000 is "a pittance", so what number would be good? Should the corporation be forced into bankruptcy and all its assets divided among the families of the deceased?

It's hard to find a good average number for life insurance policies in the US, but apparently about 62% of people in the US have life insurance policies. 47% of the population has life insurance policies for less than $100,000.

Okay, 38% of the people in the US don't value their lives enough to have any life insurance; and 47% of the people in the US value their lives less than $100,000. Only 15% of the population value their lives more than $100,000.

By that standard, then, $150,000 is actually pretty good.

* * *

Africa suffers from two major problems. The first is that the people of Africa have vanishingly short time preferences. The second is the staggering level of ignorance that exists there. It's not that they can't learn, but that they won't--and they won't because of #1, the short time preference.

* * *

Galaxy's Edge is empty, because, "No one likes the First Order era Star Wars."

* * *

200 MPH in a Torino? No, thank you.

But back when stock car races featured, you know, actual stock cars, they had to build them fast. A rear spoiler might have fixed it.

Aaaand, no pitures of the engine. In an article published on a car-related web site. FAIL.

* * *

NASA is still making history, though! These days Berke Breathed would get flensed for using the word "mulatto", though.

* * *

Current dewpoint outside: 74. Yeesh. And tomorrow is when the real heat is supposed to arrive.

I've been keeping the house at 77 during the day; it's pretty comfortable in here with me in shorts and no socks or shoes, and the ceiling fan on. Maybe a little warm, but not too bad--certianly cooler than the offices I've worked at where I had to wear "business casual" and the thermostat was at 78. When I take a break and step outside, it's like being hit in the face with a soggy electric blanket.

Probably will not get any real work done outside this weekend. It's going to be hot and I'll probably also eschew using the push mower at all because of it. The grass needs cutting, but I'll do it all on the rider. And take frequent breaks. And drink Gatorade.

Summer has arrived, and with a vengeance.