Sunday, December 30, 2012

H2O, Just Add Water Oz Site, desktop downloads

I love this show, H2O, Just Add Water
They've got great desktop background pix here.



Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hot Girl Self Shots

Hot Girl Self Shots

Posted on a friend's Facebook

What motivates women to post their pictures this way?  I'm not saying that it's necessarily bad, but I'm just not sure how to process it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sunday, December 9, 2012

NaNoWriMo Next Steps

I've written a 100K+ word rough draft of Exodus, my novel.  Here's an advice page from nanowrimo.org: Now What?

There is still more to be written, and I guess I'll write it now.  My next plan is to print to whole thing out and go over it with a red pen, scissors, and tape, and then retype it into my AlphaSmart NEO2.

Lather, rinse, repeat...  as they say where I work.

Woody Allen actually types on a typewriter, then cuts his papers apart, and staples them back together.

Anyway, I don't want to let this languish, or die.

I have another novel that I've been thinking about for decades in the chamber for next November.  Possible working title (just thought of it) could be The Selenian Wars, or possibly Claudia.

I also have a hundred or more pages written on a couple of other novels: Between Laughing and Crying (other working title: Sabine) and The Little Ant with the Criminal Mind: A Faerie Story about Fitting In.  I mean to finish writing both of them (Sabine first) and get down to editing.  There may be excerpts of both of these at the beginning of this blog.  I guess a goal is to get a good draft of Sabine, possibly both by next NaNoWriMo.

In the interval, I also need to research all of my notes over the past few years for story and character ideas for The Selenian Wars.  I came up with a lot of jargon and character names.  Special language is one specialty of Exodus in draft, by the way, and will no doubt be part of The Selenian Wars.

Right after NaNoWriMo, I started writing a children's book, Miri and the Saturnian.  I watched the movie Elf again, and children's book publishing is a theme there, and an idea just came to me.  It's kind of a variation on Exodus.

Exodus in draft is pretty "intense."  There is a lot of sensuality. Practically no violence of any kind, however.  It might not be for everybody, so I'm wondering about proofreading and "workshopping" it at writing groups, and whether many people (Americans) would get stuck on the sex and not be able to see through to whether the writing and story are any good.

Anyway, I have this crazy idea that I can get Miri into a reasonable state and start getting it out there, maybe in a few weeks.

Once I get drafts of Miri and Exodus together, I guess the next step is to find an agent.  At this point (actually before this point) my experience and knowledge about what to do run out.  The sidewalk ends.  However, I have several friends and acquaintances who have knowledge and experience in these things, so hopefully I can get help from then and then the proof of the pudding that is my books shall be in the eating thereof, I suppose.  Meanwhile, I shan't be counting my eggs until they're in the pudding.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Drug Laws and the 10th Amendment

I'm going to try to state my view on this as simply as possible (this only applies in the U.S.). Where in the constitution does it say that the federal government has any power at all in this area? I don't see it anywhere therefore the 10th amendment tells us that the power to regulate this area is left to the states or the people. The argument of supposed harm to society is invalid and if you think it is a valid argument here are some thoughts. Automobiles cause a considerable cost to society in injuries, should they be illegal? An unhealthy diet can also cause a cost to society, should we ban unhealthy eating habits?


Really good points. Cars and diet. It's an amusing image to have cops patrolling outside McDonald's and pointing guns at fat people and telling them to move along. Cars are a great example of harm to oneself as well as to others both through accidents and pollution, etc.
I would be glad if a Constitutional scholar could illuminate on the point you mention. Yes, in the simplest analysis, I believe your comment about the 10th Amendment is true, i.e., what's not granted to the Feds in the Constitution is reserved to the States or the People. I think it's described as an "additive" document as opposed as a "subtractive" document, i.e., the Feds only have power explicitly granted as opposed to all powers except for what's taken away.
There is the "elastic clause" (the phrasing of which I can't cite off the top of my head) which specifies things like how Congress may pass laws that seem to impinge upon the rights of the States, so long as they have direct bearing on Congress's power over interstate commerce. This is highly debatable in many cases, e.g., commerce goes over roads, so do the Feds have direct control over roads and streets within the States, and does this extend into the driveways of individuals, etc.?
Another tidbit about drug prohibition is that Harry J. Anslinger, first "drug czar" and first head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, devised a "Uniform Narcotics Act" which he got all of the States to pass individually. This was mainly for budget reasons, since drugs weren't a problem at the time, and Congress didn't have money to waste during The Great Depression, so Anslinger used public money to launch a propaganda campaign (against marijuana, e.g., "Reefer Madness") to scare the public and the States into passing his law. Clearly this would get around the 10th Amendment, even if there were no other issues, and it would be difficult to repeal, in principle. Congress later passed the 1937 Marihuana [sic] Tax Act, which may well have depended upon the elastic clause for its justification.
I don't know if this helps much. But I would say that the Elastic Clause of the Constitution and Anslinger's trick of getting individual State legislatures to pass more-or-less uniform laws (similar to what is the case with alcohol in The South despite the repeal of The Volstead Act, incidentally, i.e., "Dry Counties" -- my dad is from a dry county, by the way) are a couple of ways to get around the 10th Amendment, for example, in the case of drug prohibition laws.
Oh, in a similar vein (there's a pun here somewhere, but I can't find it...), another Interstate-Commerce-derived law aimed at giving the Feds jurisdiction over vice crimes (or consensual crimes), in this case, prostitution, is The Mann Act. It stipulates that it is illegal to transport a woman across State lines for the purpose of prostitution. Obviously if prostitution is illegal in a given county were it takes place, it's actionable in county court, but even if not, the Feds can swoop in, in principle. This came up in, I believe, the second season of Showtime's Boardwalk Empire, by the way.
Anyway, I'd like to see somebody put these pieces together and answer your question. It's one I've contemplated. Thanks!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

On Drug and Breastfeeding Freedom


Just to play Devil's Advocate for a moment, I happen to know that the Pearl Street Mall is an outdoor walking mall, i.e., a pedestrian street.  I'd like to speak to the issues of "second-hand smoke" and "running around drunk/stoned/impaired".  Also there's the question of "dangerous" drugs as opposed to "less dangerous" drugs.  This seems to be quite subjective.  What about "going about in public while ugly" or "....while fat" or "....too scantily dressed" or "...while showing butt-crack (deliberately or no)" or "...with body odor" or "...while farting"?  To take a (perhaps) more plausible example: public breastfeeding.  I've heard the comments "people don't want to see that" or "perverts might see that and get the wrong idea".  Why should these kinds of comments by bystanders about their own subjective impression of their own "comfort" be given precedence?

Why should one be legally allowed to have severe body odor and promenade the Pearl Street Mall but not while smoking something?  One could perhaps argue that one is carcinogenic and the other not -- but who says?  and why is that the only criterion?  Some people would much rather whiff someone's doobie or ciggie than their body odor.  Who gets to decide such things if not the individual?

Back to the breastfeeding.  Also applies to the being fat or being ugly -- although these also have the property of being subjective.  So what if people object?  People, i.e., mothers and their babies, have the right to exist, the right to take part in society.  They are performing their natural function, they cannot reasonably be denied.  The same is true of people who are fat or ugly or disfigured or disabled -- they have a right to exist.  Equal protection means they are protected.

This is the principle of tolerance.  This can be restated that there is no ethical basis for denying a person their right to exist, their right to take part in society.  Certainly not without some kind of due process for transgression of agreed-upon principles.  It means that we have to strike a balance between the reasonable expression of one person's freedom against the reasonable expectation of "comfort" on the part of another.  The comfort of the other cannot always be given complete precedence -- there is also the right of another person to exist and to express their own freedom.

Furthermore, I'd argue that the distinction between "hard drugs" and anything else is arbitrary and a dangerous slippery slope which leads to prohibiting everything (am I committing the slippery slope fallacy here myself? ;-).  Cannabis is currently on the bad side of that arbitrary fine line, but hopefully slipping over.  It's an individual perception.  Some people, habituated, like alcoholics or heavy drinkers, can tolerate a lot more alcohol than normal people.  It's my perception that some people, for example those who suffer from mental illnesses, can "handle" hallucinogens (LSD, psilocybin, etc.) better than other people who crack under the same doses (perhaps because hallucinations, free-floating anxiety, and terror for no reason comes more naturally  ;-).  One can hear amazing stories in recovery meetings about the kinds of things attendees have taken and in what quantities and with what regularity.  These meetings tend to be secret/anonymous and so medical people and/or lawmakers are probably unaware of these kinds of details.  The expectation that whoever decides these drug policies be privy to the actual details surrounding their use is a false one.  I would argue that this in and of itself invalidates the concept of classification and selective prohibition of drugs and such.  This will always be true in an environment of prohibition, i.e., the use is secret therefore a clear-eye official policy is necessarily unformulable.

Burkas vs. Topnessness


Pretty much off the topic of drug prohibition, but on the topic of consensual and victimless crimes, are "clothing laws" or "draping laws" I suppose one would call them.  We had a scandal in my town a few years back, and we were a national laughingstock because some college girls ran a topless car wash and then the local religious fanatics got on the city council and passed an ordinance prohibiting toplessness/underdressedness for both woman and men.  The police chief said he refused to enforce it.  Of course, it's still on the books and could be enforced any time.

Anyway, this is true over much of America, with the possible exception of New York, and it pertains usually only to women.  A man can take his shirt off anywhere, but a woman cannot do it most places, even if she's nursing a baby.  Obviously sexist and unfair.

So, Americans decry the fact that many Muslim countries make their womenfolk wear burkas and whatnot, under penalty of law, presumably, but how is that any different to what America does to her womenfolk?  Women are required to wear a certain amount of clothing or the police will literally come and physically (and often violently) drag them off.  It's not like it's just frowned upon, the police will come and either insist she cover up, or drag her off.

Is there any logical or rhetorical problem with comparing these two, i.e., Arabian burkas and American toplessness laws?  Are they expressions of the same kind of social imprint, and does that even  matter?  They both seem to have the same basic ostensible justification, and I suspect that the underlying purpose of both is the same, i.e., to disempower women.

Argument for Drug Re-De-Criminalization


Posted on my Coursera Course
I would argue that the harm to oneself, family, society is arbitrary, hard or impossible to measure and should be dismissed as a criterion.  Many many other much more harmful substances and behaviours are countenanced by society, or indeed, by various and sundry societies throughout the world.

I would further argue that the proclivity towards addiction is an individual personality/physiology issue and less to do with the nature of any given drug.  I know many people who have tried or even been serious users of cocaine for example and simply dropped it or found it didn't appeal to them, while I also know many many others who have been severely addicted to cocaine, alcohol, even cannabis, eating, cutting, exercise, etc. and have been completely unable to stop or moderate or only with force majeure intervention and constant attention.  The addition argument against "re-de-criminalization" should be tossed out.  At best, it's a personal and medical issue.

Facts in favor of re-de-criminalization include the unfortunate experiment of the USA in prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s and its well-documented repercussions.  To name a few, start with organized crime and the obvious economic underpinnings of this development.  To put it in very simple terms, desired good becomes scarce, price goes up,  normal economic competition to fulfill the supply is outlawed, organized crime comes in.  Criminals do not compete with each other on an economic basis, so extreme violence ensues.

Another argument is safety of product.  There is no oversight by officialdom as to the quality of product, be they alcohol or other drugs.  Shoddy production as is common with ecstasy now and was common with alcohol then (methanol contamination, etc.) are rampant.  There is also no disincentive from the prospect of legal recourse by consumers, since the whole trade is illegal.   Also the deliberate cutting of product with cheap, often dangerous contaminants to stretch the yield and profits is uncontrolled, e.g., methanol, water, Clorox, pencil shavings, etc.

Related to this loss control is the loss of government tax revenue.  Such revenue could pay for police and medical personnel who might be needed to deal with traffic accidents, overdoses, health issues, etc., to do with addicts.  This goes back to the earlier argument:  we have the addicts anyway, much as Christ spoke of the poor when his feet were anointed with oil ;-), but prohibition means that the government has less money, money which they would have in proportion to the substance use, moreover.  This brings in the next point...

Prohibition is a misallocation of public funds, particularly the police but also the bureaucracy and elsewhere.  We have bureaucrats worrying about prohibition, public prosecutors wasting months and months going after drug "criminals" instead of real criminals, the police waste time making arrests and chasing down evidence.  All this makes them less able to deal with criminals who do real harm.  This is a problem for at least two reasons.   One is that drugs are a consensual crime, i.e., all participants are willing, much like prostitution or gambling, and so there is no complaining witness.  I would argue that the presence of a plaintiff should be a sino quod non for defining anything as a crime and end things there, by the way.  The result is that it's very hard to gather evidence, get witnesses to testify in trials, etc., i.e., everything that makes most if not all legal systems work.  In other words, all our police and prosecutors effectively waste all their time since getting a conviction, and a conviction based on what laws?  what legal principles?  More on that anon...  The second major issue is that since there is, I would argue based on the ethical nature of legal systems, i.e., finding justice for the victims and demonstrating to society that the behaviour is unacceptable, no ethical basis for prosecuting anyone based on drug crimes alone, i.e., no plaintiff to satisfy, and there is a lot of money involved as previously mentioned (which is the main issue in this case), public officials are subject to corruption.  Society then has to deal with being run by public officials who are secretly compromised by some criminal element and who are not impartial as we expect from our public institutions, i.e., the assumption of fairness, equality and impartiality are invalidated.

This brings us to another point, which is the moral basis for laws against consensual crimes.  I would argue that in a free society, a society that claims to espouse the individual pursuit of happiness, and a society that claims to support free enterprise and free capitalism cannot reasonably countenance, really, any restriction on the free, consensual personal and economic association between adults.  American society, and indeed many others, claim to espouse these principles, i.e., those of personal freedom and enterprise.  Is is hypocritical to ban drugs and these other things.  It also goes against the tenet that personal freedom and enterprise are good, that they make people happier and they enrich society with more culture, a greater variety of goods and services, and greater technology.  Whenever we make exceptions to those principles we do so at the peril of forsaking the benefits promised by this set of principles that underpin our way of life.   We proclaim a lack of faith in our own beliefs, a lack of conviction.

I would point out by way of example that in Alameda County around the turn of the Century, prostitution, drugs, guns, alcohol (though not public drunkenness, which is by the way more or less find and dandy in Japan), and gambling were all legal and the crime rate was much lower than now.  Historical examples abound that the non-criminalization  of "consensual crimes" does not lead to mayhem.  The notion that society will fall apart somehow if these laws were changed is hardly tenable, ludicrous, in fact.

Finally, another moral point.  Historically, prohibition laws of all types target some minority for oppression.  The Chinese in the Western USA were opium users, and also gamblers (Tan games, etc.) so outlawing opium and gambling allowed the police to break into places of business and homes of this mistrusted minority and thereby exert control over them.  African-Americans and Hispanics, of course, were cannabis (marijuana) users, so "marihuana" prohibition targetted them.  Indeed, most of the prisoners of the 2 million in US prisons are people of color for this very reason.  Prostitution obviously targets women, depriving them of their safety, freedom, and ability to make money to support themselves and their children, as will as allowing the police to hassle them at will (without even having to buy them a drink).  Controls on other things such as exotic dancing and so forth have the same effect.  Gun laws originally were to ban "cheap" guns for the very purpose of taking guns out of the hands of African-Americans in their poor neighborhoods by the simple expedient of making guns more expensive.  This, obviously, allowed white mobs to enter with impunity, the "Deacons of Defense" and others having been effectively disarmed.  I'll spare you the darkly racist origins of terms such as "Saturday Night Special".

So, our current drug laws (and other prohibition laws) have their origins in deeply racist motivations, often sugar-coated with high-sounding moral arguments put forward by self-righteous do-gooders such as Harry J. Anslinger (to whom we owe most of the propaganda refrains about "marihuana" which persist today).  They have since taken on a life of their own, engulfing "White Society" in addition to the people of color who were their original targets (and still their greatest victims)..  Their justifications are all ex post facto apologia, and they are still serving their original function.

To summarize:
1.  The "protect health/society" argument is a non-starter due to the nature of addiction and other reasons
2.  The tremendous harm caused by prohibition far outweighs any possible benefit (which is non-existent anyway)
3.  From a moral, ethical, and human rights standpoint, prohibition laws are completely untenable

Friday, November 23, 2012

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SEL Talent Show 2012

Here's me doing my stand-up act.  Really the first non-blue material, or entirely in English, that I've ever done, really.  I could upload my notes of the material -- post if you want that.  Electrical Engineering and Star Trek jokes, pretty well-received, in some cases very well-received.

Plan on doing it again next year.



Friday, October 5, 2012

Thinking on the Margin: AlphaSmart Neo: Sophisticated Simplicity

Thinking on the Margin: AlphaSmart Neo: Sophisticated Simplicity

I should get one of these so I can take it anywhere and type without the distraction of the other stuff that tends to be attached to a keyboard these days.

I gotta work out how well it would fit into my backpack and such, and whether I need a cover for the keys, etc.  Apparently it's super-durable (like an old IBM Selectric typewriter like I learned on).



Here's the site for purchase:
http://www.neo-direct.com/ 

Or some more economical used ones.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Une Place dans ton Coeur

Je marche seul dans la rue
Je regarde par la fenêtre,
Seul, abandoné
Entre des souvenirs et des éspoirs
Ce me rassure de pouvoir croire que j'avais
Une place dans ton coeur

Malgré le fait de savoir qu'entre nous
Ce ne marchèrait jamais
Mais il est presque supportable
Quand je pense que j'avais peut-être
Une place dans ton coeur

Malgré le fait que j'avais
Embrassé tes levres
Mordillé ton oreille
Caressé tes seins nus
Sans t'avoir pénétré
Il paraît qu'il y existe des limites à l'intimitié
Mais je me suis soulagé néanmoins
Puisque j'avais peut-être
Une place dans ton coeur

Ça m'a rendu mois amèr
L'inevitabilité de la mort
Le fait de pouvoir imaginer que j'avais
Une place dans ton coeur

La suicide s'est devenue
Pas si nécesaire
Grâce au fait que j'ai pu croire que j'avais
Une place dans ton coeur

Je regarde les belles jeunes filles
Elles aiment, elles s'associent
Je ne peux pas m'empêcher
De leur régarder, d'y penser
Je ne comprends pas pourquoi mais ça y est
Attachées à leurs copains, même s'ils ne me voient pas
Un monde dont je ne comprends pas les règles
Une manque refroidissante et piquante
En sachant qu'il n'y aura jamais une place pour moi
Mais il est presque supportable
Quand je pense que j'avais peut-être
Une place dans ton coeur

Après notre longue vie ensembles
Je préfèrèrais avoir pu inspirer
L'amour au lieu de l'haïn
Ça vaut au moins mieux que l'indifèrence
Ce m'aurait tué de ne pas avoir eu
Une place dans ton coeur

Un jour, quand je serai disparu
Amis, enfants, petits-enfants,
Famille, anciens amantes
C'est fou, je le sais
Mais ce me ronge de m'en douter
Que je n'eusse une place dans leurs coeurs

Saturday, September 8, 2012

No Victim, No Crime

[apologies to Bob Marley]
No victim, no crime, no victim, no crime
Man is smokin' sometin' next to me,
Don't know what or why
If I get up close to him
Da smoke get in my eye
But if I don' stand next to him
Then who is the bad guy?
I wanna tell ya, no victim, no crime

I know a lovely woman
She help me with my life
She take up my money
I take up her time
She give me love consultation
I am her friend named John
If nobody got no problems
Den what is going wrong?
Hey ya gotta know that
If there ain't no victim,
Den dere ain't no crime
No victim, no crime,

I gather with my brothers
We put our money down
Only one will take the pot away
We all wait with expectation
On the roll of dice
If no one got no problem
Den where is the vice?
Cuz if dere ain't no victim
Den dere ain't no crime
No victim, no crime
no victim, no crime
say it with me now
no victim, no crime

Friday, August 24, 2012

Circumcision

Dr. Momma (good explanation of what "circumcision" really is)
Saving Our Sons
Foreskin Restoration
Beginner's Foreskin Restoration
Danelle Frisbie, an intactivist
Rates of Circumcision in the US
Circumcision causes alexithymia (inability to process emotions)
Origins of Circumcision in Britain (and throughout the English-speaking world)
National Organization to Halt the Abuse and Routine Mutilation of Males
No Circ
Moralogous
Director of CUT on Outlawing Circumcision

Penn & Teller Bullshit on Circumcision
Part IPart IIPart III



i hope that one day we will look back on circumcision with the horrified clarity with which we now look back on foot binding 

circumcision and capitalism are similar in that those they most directly hurt often defend them out of a kind of cultural Stockholm Syndrome

america: where men wanting naturally functioning genitals is weird and fetishistic  (link via)


Monday, July 30, 2012

Reference and Chinese Characters

This article touches on an idea that may be present in the Chinese characters, and which I may have more to write about later.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Mermaid Fashion

I kind of drew these for a T-shirt contest on Deviant Art, where I'm also uploading my work.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Trip to the Full-Service Native American Bank

Don't miss the Centaur story arc that takes place simultaneously and starting at the arrival at the bank.

You can jump back and check out the first appearances of these comix, to get to know the characters first.

Matthea Harvey's poem, The Straightforward Mermaid, published in The New Yorker, and the short film based upon it, A Sea Full of Hooks, were sources for some of the references in these comix (can you find them?). A very big inspiration for the whole thing was, not surprisingly, the 1948 film, Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid, with the adorable Ann Blyth.

I'm also inspired (within the past few years) by the work of R. Crumb in particular by way of the movie, Crumb.



Check out the centaur mini-adventure which starts at this point...

Centaurs & Other Mythical Creatures