[x]Blackmoor Vituperative

Sunday, 2015-05-10

Happy Mother’s Day

Filed under: Fine Living,Philosophy,Politics,Society — bblackmoor @ 08:32

Happy Mother’s Day, Moms of America! Now go back to work.

I agree more with libertarians than I do with any other political cubbyhole that I have been able to find, but I think I might not actually be libertarian. Libertarianism is all about putting theory into practice, without exception (that theory being, in essence, “an it harm none, do what ye will“). There are, as far as I know, few libertarians who consider financial exploitation “harm” (I may, in fact, be the only one). But I think one would have to be deliberately blind to look at the USA around us and fail to see the harm done by financial exploitation.

Being “rich” in the USA in 2015 means you have a house and you can pay your bills.

That’s messed up, and it’s getting worse every year.

The thing is, twenty years ago, I was a hardcore libertarian. I sincerely believed that the world would be better if there were no laws preventing, say, an employer from tracking your every move, 24 hours a day. I sincerely believed that the world would be better if there were no laws requiring cars to be safer, or requiring employers to pay no less than a certain minimum, and so on. I didn’t believe these things because I wanted people to be underpaid and driving death traps — I believed that freedom of choice would result in the greater good. So what has changed in the past twenty years? What changed my mind?

Seeing how the world actually works for twenty years is what changed my mind. Because in theory, if everyone is free to choose, they can all choose not to work for employers who invade the medical privacy of every applicant. In theory, they can choose not to work for $2.13 an hour.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.

Tuesday, 2015-04-14

My opinion on Savage Worlds

Filed under: Gaming — bblackmoor @ 09:16

I am writing up my opinion on Savage Worlds here, not because I think anyone actually cares or because I want to talk anyone out of playing it, but because from time to time someone asks for my opinion, and I would rather direct them here than write this repeatedly. So here we go:

“Hey, Blackmoor, what do you think about Savage Worlds?”

I have played Savage Worlds with people who loved it. I may in fact be the one human being on Earth who does not like Savage Worlds. I do not like the extraneous fiddly bits just for task resolution (dice AND cards AND poker chips AND … wtf). Imagine having a roleplaying game where each time there was a test to see if your character is successful at some task, you had to play a game of Bop It — but the outcome of playing Bop It had no effect on whether you were successful or not. Whether your character is successful is actually based on a flip of a coin, but the color of that coin changes depending on how good your character is at a particular ability. If you are really good, you flip a red coin … after playing a full round of Bop It.

I do not like the “growing dice” mechanic that, when coupled with the “moving target based on dice size” mechanic makes character advancement an illusion, and in fact renders the multiple dice sizes merely one more extraneous fiddly bit. There is no way in Savage Worlds to set a task difficulty such that it is nigh-impossible for a novice but nigh-automatic for an expert. If you have an expert and a novice in the group of PCs, it makes virtually no difference which of them attempts to pick the lock or crack the code or hack into the computer system.

That’s how I experience Savage Worlds. It may be the most needlessly (and pointlessly) complex game system that I personally have ever played.

Personally, I do not care for it.

Wednesday, 2015-04-08

Gaslight (1944)

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 23:34

Just finished watching Gaslight (1944), with Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, and Joseph Cotten. It’s interesting to contrast Cotten’s performance in this with his role in Shadow Of A Doubt, released the previous year. If you’ve not seen these two films, I suggest that you do.

And is that a very young Angela Lansbury as the saucy house maid with aspirations “above her station”? Why yes, it is! In truth, I did not recognize her. I only know this because I read the credits.

Gaslight (1944) poster

Thursday, 2015-04-02

We do not see things as they are

Filed under: Books,Philosophy,Society — bblackmoor @ 21:16

When confronted with the “antis” — anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-gun, anti-women, anti-science, anti-South, anti-sex, etc. — who seem so devoted to their agendas of hatred, ignorance, and irrational fear, I am reminded of a line from Anaïs Nin‘s “Seduction of the Minotaur” (echoing a much older idea):

We do not see things as they are, we see them as we are.

Seduction of the Minotaur

Tuesday, 2015-03-31

Lucy (2014)

Filed under: Movies — bblackmoor @ 21:32

Just watched Lucy with Susan and Vixen. Vixen and I LOVED it. What the Matrix is to computer science, Lucy is to biology. No, it does not make sense, and in fact it’s absurd on several levels, but it is nonetheless AWESOME and perhaps even mind-blowing. And much like the Matrix, any sequel(s) would be both superfluous and inevitably disappointing.

Vixen agrees.

Lucy (2014)

Sunday, 2015-03-08

End “Daylight Saving Time”

Filed under: Nature,Science,Society — bblackmoor @ 11:51

Stop the madness! Write to your federal and state representatives and ask them to do away with so-called “Daylight Saving Time”. It costs money, it costs lives, and it accomplishes absolutely nothing.

Alarm Clock

Thursday, 2015-03-05

Asus RT-AC87R router port forwarding stops working

Filed under: Technology — bblackmoor @ 07:58

I was having a problem with my home network. I have a static IP address from my ISP, and I have that IP address mapped to a domain name through DynDNS. Yet, periodically, I would discover that the network was no longer accessible.

Initially, I thought it was due to a recent server upgrade, and that I had my firewall settings or selinux settings wrong. But those were correct. I looked at the port forwarding settings in the router (Advanced Settings >> WAN >> Virtual Server / Port Forwarding), and those seemed correct, too. On a lark, I clicked the “Apply” button on the port forward settings page in the router’s administration screen, and suddenly the network was externally accessible again.

A few hours later, it happened again. This time, I logged into the router’s port forwarding screen and clicked “Apply”. It worked. Then again, this morning, it happened again.

A great deal of searching later, I have discovered that there is a bug in the Asus RT-AC87R router port forwarding — it simply stops working from time to time. Why, I do not know. I have the most recent firmware, so there is no fix to be found there. The only way to prevent this from happening appears to be by disabling the “NAT Acceleration” (which is called “Hardware Acceleration” in some routers): go to Advanced Settings >> LAN >> Switch Control >> NAT Acceleration, and set it to “Disable”.

This also applies to the Asus RT-AC87U router (which is the same router in slightly different packaging).

Tuesday, 2015-01-27

Raise the minimum wage to $15/hr

Filed under: Philosophy,Society — bblackmoor @ 09:20

I think people who persist in clinging to theories that have been soundly refuted by facts should not be called “economists”: they should be called “philosophers”. The consensus among economists is that raising the minimum wage has little or no effect upon employment — because the evidence demonstrates that it does not. The reasons why that is the case are varied, but a major one is that at the lowest-paid end of the employment spectrum, the demand for labor is inelastic. If it takes three people to perform a task, paying them $10/hr won’t make the task require fewer people.

Employment vs increased minimum wage

The chart above shows the results of more than 1,400 different studies. The x-axis shows the size of the employment effect, and the y-axis shows that statistical power of the analysis.

The results have clustered around the finding that a moderate wage increase — in line with the administration’s proposal to increase the minimum rate in 95-cent increments — has zero effect on total employment. And the higher a study’s statistical power, the more likely it is to fall on the line showing zero effect.

“I really think that’s a very compelling takeaway,” said Hall, who has testified before multiple state legislatures on the issue. “It puts the lie to the notion that it’s going to be a tremendous job killer.”

(From 1,400 Real World Minimum Wage Increases Show No Impact on Employment, Fiscal Times

Personally, I would go with $15/hr. There is no reason in the world that taxpayers should be footing the bill to make up for the below-subsistence wages paid by employers like Wal-Mart (Report: Walmart Workers Cost Taxpayers $6.2 Billion In Public Assistance). Increase the minimum wage to a responsible level and put the cost of doing business on the business, where it belongs.

Systematically oppressing the bulk of a population is not only morally indefensible, but terribly short-sighted. There are not enough firearms in this country to protect the rich (or just the reasonably comfortable) from the poor, if the poor decide they’ve had enough. Personally, I’d favor raising the minimum wage to $15/hr, eliminating loopholes that allow employers to pay even less than the minimum wage, and then pegging it to the Consumer Price Index (although someone should take a close look at how CPI is calculated to make sure that’s not being manipulated).

Sunday, 2015-01-25

You are what you do

Filed under: Philosophy,Politics — bblackmoor @ 00:41

It has come to my attention that there are people who think what someone says actually matters. Allow me to educate you: what someone says does not matter. What they do matters. What someone says is only important if it has been shown to accurately reflect what they do. For example, PETA says they are advocates for animals’ rights, but what they do is kill every animal they can. For another example, the Republican party says it stands for smaller government, but what it does is expand the power and cost of government at every turn.

You are what you do, not what what you say. Aristotle knew this 2400 years ago: so what’s your problem?

Friday, 2015-01-23

Do not stretch 4:3 images to fit 16:9 screens

Filed under: Technology,Television — bblackmoor @ 09:15

I was at a restaurant once, and the widescreen TVs were set to non-widescreen stations, with the image squashed vertically (or stretched horizontally, potayto potahto) to fit. That was bad enough. But then the show itself had a person standing in front of a TV (it was some kind of “news” show or something), and THAT TV was a widescreen TV showing a squashed 4:3 image.

How can anyone not notice how wrong this is?


Do not stretch 4:3 images to fit 16:9 screens

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