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Well, this one used English at least. A little pushy for someone who contacted me though. Yuck. Just noticed the lower case "I"'s And other letters.

AgedSalmon: Hello, how are you today? :)
eliz thann: I fare well. You?
agedsalmon is now known as AgedSalmon.
AgedSalmon: who is this?
eliz thann: That which stands forth and says "I am"
AgedSalmon: can you follow up that "i am" w/something a little more descriptive?
eliz thann: I could, but what fun would that be?
AgedSalmon: i'm not interested in fun. i'm interested in finding out who this is so i can decide if i want to keep talking or not.
eliz thann: See, that is where our interests diverge.
AgedSalmon: you're right.
eliz thann: Usually.
AgedSalmon: and so i guess i'm just going to have to break up w/you. alas, our relationship was fleeting, but i'll always remember it fondly. farewell.

There is some serious talent in the Obama camp.

This one is a hair more busy than it should be, but I wish I could make things like it:

Gods, this one is hilarious, though I'm not convinced that Clinton is as bad as some of my friends believe she is. (That said, I've been pissed at her since the first or second State of the Union when she stood and applauded at one of Bush's "I have a mandate to do what ever I want in the face of any opposition from any dissenting viewpoints. I'm a uniter not a divider!" statements. As I recall, even Lieberman stayed seated for that one, though he may have been exhausted from a long month fellating Republican interests.

So, for every food in my kitchen, there is an ordered pair based on how much I want it and how much effort it would take to prepare it. There is also a desire/effort curve. Any pair on or above the curve is fair game. Any pair below the curve isn't going to happen.

(Modify desire by the "that's not food" modifier and they all end up below the line.)

I was reading an interesting post over at Feministing and I realized that there's something that I might not have made clear previously (and I don't care to go search my history to be sure.) I am, and have been since before I knew what the word meant, a feminist.

My answer to the question posed in the link? Yes it is important. Not vital perhaps, but there are at least two different memetic conflicts with important societal repercussions where self-identifying as a feminist helps with resolution. Read the comment thread. It illuminates the whyfores and hows. *sigh* The blackhats have managed to grasp the fact that language means what you use it to mean. It is why their propaganda works so well (also see various movements to reclaim words.)

So, I've posted my I believe thing to my profile

I was going to use the way back machine to go to the future and post it there, but that would start cluttering up the future and lessen the value of the current contents of the future.

So, this has conceptual spoilers for BtVS.

So, I now regret missing Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it was running initially. I really like this show, though I frequently wish for a mix between Angel and Buffy, tone wise. I now wish that, before I decided to watch the show, I hadn't read as much about it as I had. Especially seasons 5 and 6. 5 and 6 are incredible downers, more so if you know what is coming up. I'm in the mid game of season 6 right now, sort of the long dark night section of the story. (And ugh, my tendency to get songs stuck in my head mixed with the Musical episode made up of almost entirely depressing songs (except for Under Your Spell, which instead of being depressing, outlines the most depressing aspects of the whole season by demonstrating what there is to lose) doesn't help at all.)
Willow has been my favorite character since the beginning of the show, followed closely by Tara, and watching Willow's betrayal and subsequent self destruction is not a happy thing. On the other hand, I want, someday, to be able to write characters like her. (Characters that you can grow attached to, feel protective toward, even as their basic personality causes them to falter and fall. Though, honestly, what she's doing to Tara is a reflection of a part of her personality, a selfishness that showed up well before she met Tara. I'm not looking forward to the Seeing Red episode at all.)
I really like a good redemption story, but I wish that the need for such had been dealt with in one season (preferably 5) with 6 and 7 reserved for redemption and a return to the norm. If Gifts had happened around 5.11 or 5.12, (Do The Body at 5.9, have your setup at 5.10, and do Gifts at 5.11. Save the Dracula shtick for season 6 or 7, and make the musical in 6 a healing point, not where the center ceases to hold) the rest of 5 could have covered the characters dealing with the issues surrounding that episode, Willow could have done her thing, though preferably with a different trigger event, and season 6 could have been devoted to fixing the things that had broken giving a more centered cast for season 7, a return to the tone of the earlier seasons with Buffy and gang being more mature, having grown and ready to take up their leadership roles.

I got a new one.

khurram jee: hello
khurram jee just sent you a Nudge!
Michael: er... hello
khurram jee: how r u?
Michael: left hand top row, 4th character, space bar, right hand top row, 4th character.
Michael: specifically index finger in both cases
khurram jee: what u mean
khurram jee: ur asl.plz?
khurram jee: r u there
khurram jee: u wana chat me/
Michael: u is a vowel in the Latin alphabet only recently differentiated from the v.
khurram jee: ur name?
Michael: I'm not recognizing the language group for some of those questions. Sadly, I'm mostly restricted to European languages.
khurram jee: u can speak english
Michael: I'm not sure that an abstract concept such as a letter can have wants and needs, though I'm sure if it could, "u" would posses such desires.
Michael: Is "u wanna chat me/" an interrogative or a declaration of fact? Do you know something about the metaphysical status of letters that I don't?
khurram jee: tel me aboutur self
Michael: I'm sorry, I'm not quite able to extract meaning from that character string. Please try again.
Michael: Woah, u can speak English? We are reaching way into the land of the surreal now.
khurram jee: what u mean
Michael: I mean I know that there are talking letter puppets on various educational programs, but your sentence implies that the abstract concept of "u" both has a real existence and the physical ability to speak. Are you sure you aren't just leading an ex-philosopher on?
Michael: Did Dr Eflin put you up to this?
khurram jee: call my number
Michael: I thought I told you what "u" means up above.
khurram jee: 092-323-5068656
Michael: Alas, but for the presence of a phone.
khurram jee: hellooooooo
Michael: Here, this is a more in depth discussion of the meaning of "u" with a link to a disambiguation page for other meanings:
Michael: Hello.
Michael: Sticky key?
Michael: By the by, which user name am I using?
Michael: Ah, never mind, I figured out how to get Pidgin to tell me.

Having watched the first seven minutes of Once More With Feeling, I've decided I would really like to see a stage production there of.

I really really wish that I had bought my Imperial Guard minis before my Sisters of Battle ones. The IG minis are filler pieces. I spent about 30 minutes per piece on them. They look quite good. The Sisters are my main force. I've got 27 of the sisters (+/-) and I'm really happy with maybe 7 of those. That doesn't include my Cannoness. (The happy, not the possession.) Of those seven, five were painted recently. (I spend an hour or two per piece minimum on the sisters. Not counting the touch up time that gets spent on any of the figures a couple of days later when I can see the mistakes.) That's maybe a little harsh. I might be happy with as many as 11, but probably not.
I am pretty happy with my other HQ piece, an Inquisitor. I've also got a set of offbrand space marine figures for friendly games that aren't too bad, but they make the amount of time I spend on IG models seem extravigant. (They are standins for Grey Knights and a Deathwatch Kill Team.)


Is pretty much why I don't dance. Except I'm not half as coordinated as Angel or Wesley and instead of bounding across the dance floor, I tend to fall down. Not that I have any particular problem about making a fool of myself, but, and this is important, in the venues I prefer, harming yourself and or others is generally frowned upon.

So, cetic is often funny, though I think it occasionally goes overboard on the religious people are all idiots theme. Of course, it isn't particularly forgiving of dogmatic atheists either, so I'll give it a pass.

Oh man, I wish I had the cash to make a serious attempt to win this.

You know, I knew that abstinence only sex ed was harmful, and I recognized the fact that it doesn't do any good, but here's a new take, one that squicks me all the way out.

"Because we didn’t have accurate information about what was healthy and what wasn’t, I endured some awful situations because I didn’t know the difference. We didn’t talk about respect, boundaries, and sexual communication. So the myth of ‘boys push and girls resist’ informed everything. We never talked about consent because with abstinence curriculum you shouldn’t consent.
--Erin - Abstinence-only program participant from Oregon"

For those of me who care, Angel has much better music than Buffy.
Every rock group needs a Cello or other orchestral stringed equivalent.

belated mirror.

Well, everyone knows that if you don't use a word fairly frequently after learning it, you'll lose it. Application to my life? I need to be in situations where I can use callipygian both correctly and frequently. It would be a tragic word to lose.

A favorite argument of creationists against the abiotic origin of life is the unlikeliness of complex biomolecules assembling at random out of base materials. They frequently focus on proteins and give the example of a 100 amino acid protein. They way they present it, you have 100 amino acids that have to assemble in exactly the right manner to form this protein. Since there are 20 natural amino acids (sort of) that gives 20^100 possible combinations. That's 1.26 * 1 with a hundred and thirty zeros behind it. 1.26E130 is a lot of combinations. If you tried one combination per second, you'd be checking them for about 4000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 years. (4*10^123.) Needless to say, this would be a grand blow against the argument for abiotic genesis of life. Except for the false premise.

For each protein, there is only one set of amino acids that works.
This is fairly obviously false. Most proteins have many different forms among a population. In fact, for most proteins, the majority of the amino acids are filler. They help determine the 3d shape of the molecule, but could be replaced by other amino acids. In fact, the active sites on a protein (which are more picky, but still not entirely static) are only a small segment of the total amino acids in a given protein.

(Also, you wouldn't have to use all 20 amino acids for your initial form. After all, most life uses 20 amino acids, and there are rather a lot more possible amino acids out there, and working from the assumption that the origin of life required the presence of pre-built proteins, all sorts of other amino acids would have been present in the potential mix. Many wouldn't have been included in the end product from blind chance, and once you have a replicator of some sort, other amino acids may have been excluded as more efficient builds popped out. I'll try to do the power of replicators + selection thing later. It might be a while.)

Let's pretend that 20% of our protein is essential to its function. Also, let's keep all 20 amino acids on the table.

That means that we have 20 amino acids and 20 slots to fill. We'll, for the sake of making the math easy, assume that there is only one combination of amino acids that will work to make our protein. Furthermore, we aren't requiring each amino acid to be used, we are just throwing them all into the pool to play with. There are 20^20 combinations of amino acids. That's 1.08*10^24 different combinations. Still a damned big number. But we are talking about a planet. That's a damned big area.

We count small, numerous things like atoms, photons, electrons, molecules, and such in a unit called moles. One mole is close enough to 6.0*10^23 objects. This number is very very large, but then the things we talk about in moles are very very very small. A mole of Hydrogen molecules (H2) weighs about 2 grams. Amino acids are a good deal larger than a pair of hydrogen atoms though, with an average weight of 145 g per mole (as an aside, we have a special name for a mole of generic photons. An einstein. Not important, but fun.)
If we take one mole of each of our 20 amino acids (that's about 3 kg, or one small lean cat in a blender worth of amino acids. Not much for a place the size of a planet, but enough to demonstrate my point.) and let them combine in sets of 20 at a rate of 1 time per year per molecule (I just want to give them a fair shake, reaction rates are usually much higher.) That's 1.08*10^24/6.02*10^23 or 174.8 years. The Earth finished coalescing about 4.5-5 billion years ago, we'll say 4.5. We keep finding earlier and earlier signs of life, down to something like 4.2 or 4.3 billion years ago now. Worst case scenario, that is .2 billion years. or 200,000,000 years. Let's say that things were too busy for the first hundred million of those years what with the cooling down of the crust and the rocks from space mixing things up energetically, that means we only have time for about our molecule to pop up 500,000 times. Assuming that in all world, there is only one mole of each amino acid in conditions that would allow them to combine. (This goes equally well for other complex biomolecules, and in most cases, requiring that 20% be exactly right? Overkill.)
(Note: the evidence on the exact timing of the origin of life is still coming in. I've heard everything from 3.5 bya (those nice Australian rocks) to 4.3 bya which on further consideration seems like a rough time to come about, what with the space rocks falling on the planet like burny explody rain. So if we take the 3.5 bya date and compare it to the end of the early bombardment (approximately 3.8-3.9 bya) we still have a lot of time on our hands.

*edit* My brother pointed out that I was off by a power of ten on the size of a mole. It is 10^23 not 10^22. So some numbers got smaller (number of years per successful active site) and some got bigger (number of times the protein could have happened in 100,000,000 years.) Thanks Lloyd.

*edit* Fixed some spacing and spelling errors, clarified a point or two, added more asides. There's always more asides. Kept the cat.

So, Steven Brust just posted his Firefly Fan Fic Novel. It is under a CC BA NC ND license.

I have to admit that I've only read Aygar out of his stack of books, but the it mostly because I want to read his Taltos books in order an my library didn't have the first couple.
I have to admit that, knowing nothing about him I was unfairly supprised at Mr. Brust doing this. Pure ageism on my part, but he has been publishing since 83. I expect neat CC releases from the current generation of authors, the ones between about 5 years younger than I am and 10 years older (E. Bear, J. Scalzi, C. Doctorow, etc) than I am, but the folks who I sort of think of as the old guard? Not as much. Of course, this is silly and it ignores things I know about a number of authors who have been writing since well before I was born, but it still one of my unexamined assumptions. (Hell, several of my favorite authors who fit distinctly into the old guard by date started with fan fic, and I know this, because I love reading the essays that they write about how they got to be where they are. Apparently I was exercizing my ability to hold two contradictory ideas at the same time.)

Well, all of that aside, follow the link, download the book, mirror it if you can.

Oi, some days I really wish that I had a digital camera. My desk is special right now. I've been painting Warhammer 40k Pieces (I now have enough painted pieces to field a decent point value Witchhunters army.) Well bside my computer there is a landscape now.
Off in the distance, there is a rugged, haphazard hill, the books of the earth thrusting out of the flat expanses of the plateau. In the midground and foreground, there is a multi-colored forest of paint bottles with the old TSR/Ral Partha paints acting as undergrowth, and slowly infiltrating the painted forest is a couple of squads worth of unpainted troops.

I really wish that my library had two hold request levels. I'd like to be able to put in a hold that didn't remove the other person's ability to renew the book. There are a lot of cases where I'm in no hurry to check the book out, but I don't want to miss it when it does come in. I'd be happy to wait an extra checkout period or two, but I still want it to go into my stack when it comes back to the library.

This is similar to how I wish that Livejournal had two different levels of watching. Friending someone gives them a number of permissions I don't necessarily want to give to everyone whose journal I read. (Well, actually I don't really care, but I can see situations where I would want to follow someone's LJ without them being able to read even my basic level locked posts, and I know I could implement that by having a second tier of private posts, but I shouldn't have to. I love web 2.0 applications, but damnit, they still tend to have an air of kludge about them.)

The List:
Mark Twain.
How Shakespeare relates to socialism.
And cheese. Of course, cheese.
Nietzsche and how his philosophies relate to modern factory farming
The decline of the American Space program
Rules you really do or really don't like in D&D
What you think of the steampunk genre (with photo links)
Your favorite sci-fi or fantasy book and why you like it
Fluffy chickens
Lucille Ball!
Food additives!

Hum,I should sort these by some metric that combines my interest in the topic with how much I know about the subject or its components.

I hate to start this series off with a negative topic, but it is one that has been on my mind for a while. Today, Scientology.

Back in the middle of the 20th century around the time that Congress changed the Pledge of Allegiance in part to differentiate ourselves from the Russians, a number of science fiction authors became interested in the growing influence of religious institutions in the United States. This was a mere generation before the Christian Fundamentalists would break with the left and sell their souls to the budding neo-conservative movement. The reactionary young men and women who would lead the United States into the era of Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, and the Dominionist in Chief were listening to their pastors, working with the new breed of celebrity clergy, and wringing their hands at the destruction of all that was good and right about America. They owned some damned fine rose-tinted glasses. The upswing in

Hum, that narrative isn't going where it should go... I'm already up to 1954 when Hubbard started his church 2 years before...

The United States are prone to bouts of religious hysteria. Under the editiorial guidance of Joseph Campbell, cience fiction authors were spending more and more time thinking and writing about sociological issues. One topic of great interest was the formation of social movements. There was a great deal of discussion on how to build a religion in the united states. Most of the authors who took part in this free ranging set of conversations used it to write. One of them was tired of making a penny a word off of his writing (As a side note, more than four doublings of the dollar later, the SFWA's professional rate is 5 cents a word for short fiction.) (As another aside, the guidelines for establishing a new religion are a stufy in applied memetics, even though the word "meme" wouldn't be coined for decades.) He also had a vision of psychology and medicine that he was trying to sell in a market that was glutted with faddish quack therapies. In the end he decided to combine his love of money with the selling power of religion, and by 1952 L. Ron Hubbard had put down the basic tenants of Scientology. It is important to remember that Scientology had two main goals. has one main goal, to make the leader of the Church a great deal of money. Of course, most of the really quick ways to make a lot of money are also rather illegal and/or taxable (which slows down the making a great deal of money part.) That is why you make a Church. You can make money without losing it to taxes (you do have to spend part of that money on Churchy things, but in any expansionist religion, charity is a major form of recruitment/outreach. I've no problem with trying to recruit while you provide aid, only with trying to recruit in the guise of aid.)

More Words Go Here

For more information, I've got a lovely linkbomb from pope_guilty.


Operation Freakout
Operation Snow White
Dead Agenting
Fair Game Policy

The Unfunny Truth About Scientology
The Unfunny Sequel

Given the chance, the Church of Scientology will take your money, your friends, your family... and even your life. Learn about the crimes, practices, and doctrines of the Church of Scientology. The more widely their crimes are known, the fewer people they will be able to swindle, control, and kill.

Well, it is nice to see that our occupation of Afghanistan is doing so much good...