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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Uncle Hyena's LiveJournal:

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Friday, February 24th, 2017
7:01 pm
Wick
Not much going on other than my class, so here we have one somewhat belated movie review...

"John Wick: Chapter 2" is a sequel. The original featured amazing trailers that the actual movie failed to live up to. It wasn't bad, and we both remembered it as being better than it my contemporary review. Memory is like that. The current movie is very much more of the same; the movie isn't bad, but it doesn't live up to the trailers. Also, the original movie was a fairly straightforward revenge plot laid on top of a strange and fascinating mythology. The current movie is driven by the mythology, and it really doesn't have the structural integrity to withstand the burden. This isn't a bad movie, but it suffers badly from inflated expectations.

Uncle Hyena
Monday, February 20th, 2017
8:39 pm
Random Bits from Facebook
February 1:
Just took the textbook final for the current section of my Cisco course. Got a 92%. I can live with that. Still a long way to go.

February 2:
On this day in 1925, Gunnar Kaasen and his dogs arrived in Nome, Alaska, with a a cargo of diphtheria anti-toxin. The payload (though no single dog or musher) had traveled 674 overland miles in 128 hours through near-blizzard conditions. Just sayin'.

February 2:
Ayn Rand's birthday today. Such a petty, hypocritical, EVIL person...

February 4:
Dredged from 2016:
From the unintended consequences file: Back in the early 80s, various religious groups went slightly crazy, claiming that RPGs (and D&D in particular) were a gateway to Satanism and often contributed to suicide among gamers. To that end, they spent a lot of time lookng for gamer suicides in the interest of shouting, "I told you so!" They didn't find many. In fact, they found so few that they actually proved (if you run the numbers) that gamers are about ten times LESS likely to commit suicide than the population in general.

February 5:
Dredged from 2013:
I like to argue; it's fun, if done with respect and good nature. I also like to win, sort of. That is, it's fun to win, but it almost always makes me feel (quite legitimately) like a bully. Because winning requires me to go down one of two paths that I ultimately despise. The first is to use superior intellectual and language skills to brutalize the truth; I have major ethical problems with that. The second path is to dredge up a quantity of the toxic crap that lives in my cranial sewers and use it to dissolve the other fellow's rose colored glasses. I have major ethical problems with that, too; the stuff that is inside my head makes ME miserable, and I have no business inflicting it on anyone else, even if it IS true...

February 6:
You know that feeling you get when you spend all day painting a soup kitchen instead of fixing the hole in your own roof because you made a promise, and then the soup kitchen burns to the ground overnight? Yeah, that.

February 8:
"You don't know the first thing about being an American. We're misfits; outcasts, and we're proud of it. If they attack in formation, we pop 'em off from the trees. If they challenge you to a duel, you raid their camp at night. And if they're going to hang you, you fight dirty. But you never, ever, give up. THAT's the American way." -- Sociopathic hardcase Mick "Heatwave" Rory to George Washington on "Legends of Tomorrow".

You gotta love it...

February 9:
Things that go through my head while I should be working on other things: A poker chip and a beer bottle are zero-manifolds, a doughnut and a coffee cup are one-manifolds, a Kraken rum bottle and a gallon milk bottle are two-manifolds, and a horse and a human are three-manifolds.

At least this one didn't attack me while I was trying to sleep...

February 9:
I almost started an altercation at a social gathering yesterday. I didn't mean to, and when I realized what was happening I took steps to shut it down, but I came away baffled. It took a while to figure out what had happened. I had said, "If A, then H," because that is the way I think about that particular issue. I am prone to forgetting that, just because I have worked through the progression from A to B to C to D to E to F to G to H, and find the argument compelling and inevitable, doesn't mean that other people have done so. And lacking experience of that progression, "If A, then H," sounds kind of off the wall, even if it is true.

February 12:
I just found out that Tony Eringis, one of my best friends from high school, died this week. He just turned 60 in December. We last spoke, on the phone, in the mid-90s, and have had minor contact on FaceBook since then. Still, we was a big part of my life, back in the day. He was very smart, frequently clueless, often goofy, and just generally a good person. I have said this far too often, lately, but... the world is again diminished.

February 15:
On this day in 1988, the world first head that immortal phrase, "Everybody is Dead, Dave."

February 17:
Dredged from 2014:
With apologies to Douglas Adams (and Marvin):

Now the world has all turned white
(How I hate the snow);
Life is buried out of sight
(How I hate the snow);
Save us from this frozen blight
(How I hate the snow)!

February 17:
This is the seventh anniversary of my mother's physical death. It's been a lot longer since she was really herself; I am trying to recall the last real conversaton I had with her, and failing. It was a long time ago.

February 17:
Hyena picked up a whiteboard and drew three Futhark runes. "This is a riddle. It's a song reference. All of the clues are public knowledge, but I may be the only person on the planet who would see it at a glance."

Dementia, who is used to this kind of thing, looked at the runes. "Man. Ken. Tyr. That's step one. No idea where to go next."

"Step two is a railroad," Hyena said. "Step three is the song title."

"Still no idea," Dementia said.

"I know," said Hyena. And then he played the song, LOUD, grinning like an idiot, with tears running down his face. It's not really that kind of song, but, oh, the associations...

February 18:
Dredged from 2016:
"Truth suffers herself to be courted, but evidently she has no desire to be won."
-- Ernst Mach, Austrian physicist and philosopher (1838-1916)

And...

Memories from sometime in 2000:
Blast from the past:

We were standing in front of a poster in the movie theater which advertised the soon to be released film, "102 Dalmations."

"Only 102?" Dementia asked. "It's been four years; there should be a LOT more than dogs than that."

Hyena looked at her, and replied instantly and with a straight face, "Well, they made the coat..."
Monday, February 13th, 2017
8:35 pm
Evil, XXX, Father, Cisco
Way behind here. Filling in the empty spaces.

"Resident Evil: The Final Chapter" is more of the same, though the sparkle seems to have warn off completely, and everyone seems tired. There is still fun to be had, here, but the signal to noise ration is getting worse with each iteration, and I am not sure that this one was worth the trouble.

"XXX: The return of Xander Cage" is just loads of fun. The stunts are great, the dialog is good, everything just WORKS. There is not the least pretense to profundity here, just flat out escapist entertainment. And that is a really good thing. It has been a long time since I have enjoyed a movie this much.

Went down to see my dad for the first time in about a month after class on Saturday. The railroad logo shirts that I hoped to give him for Christmas finally showed up the day after my last trip south, so he finally got them: D&RGW and Great Northern, to the extent that it matters. He seems slightly more diminished every time I see him, and he has for a while now. I love him, but visiting him makes me sad.

The Cisco class continues to eat my life. I had hoped to take a day off and run to Toledo for BashCon, which is my favorite gaming con, but I have decided that I can't afford the time.

Life goes on.

Uncle Hyena
Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
8:15 pm
Random Bits from Facebook
January 18:
Cisco class is beating me up pretty badly. It isn't a matter of difficulty, it's a matter of finding time to do the reading and still having enough life left over to maintain my already marginal sanity.

January 22:
From the Dredge. While we are at it, let us remember that Ol' George was the first person ever referred to as, "Mad, bad, and dangerous to know."
(From 2015): It's Byron's birthday. That is, George Gordon, Lord Byron, libertine, poet, romantic, and god-father of Frankenstein.

There's a bit of his poetry that I first encountered in the film, "Breaker Morant" many years ago, and subsequently tracked down on the internet. I went looking for it again today, and stumbled across some discussion by a bunch of empty-headed lit students (and I really wonder if there is any other kind) arguing about the meaning of the poem WITHOUT taking into account the biographical information, which means that they didn't realize that the poem is deliberately paradoxical and self-deprecating. Byron was utterly aware of the absurdity of the Glory Road, and yet he chose to walk it anyway, and died thereby. Ah, well. The poem stands, in context or out of it. (Yes, the scansion is a bit off, and I could fix it easily, but I restrain myself. With effort.)

When a man hath no freedom to fight for at home,
Let him combat for that of his neighbors;
Let him think of the glories of Greece and Rome,
And get knocked on his head for his labors.

To do good to mankind is the chivalrous plan,
And is always nobly requited;
Then battle for freedom wherever you can,
And, if not shot or hanged, you’ll get knighted.

January 22:
Dredged from 2014:
And where is the hidden camera?
Co-worker, who I assumed to be in his mid-40s: Getting old sucks.
Me: Tell me about it. I'm further down the road than you are.
Him: I doubt that. You're what, 42 or 43?
Me: 57.
Him: OK, that's five years older than I am.
The conversation continued. I swallowed my amusement that he had given me credit for 15 years that I had already lived (and they were NOT easy years) and went on my way.

This pretty much NEVER happens, to me...

January 22:
Tons of studying to do today and tomorrow. Hephastia woke up from her habitual stupor, threw a story at me, and would not leave me alone until I wrote it. So I took an hour or so that I didn't have, and wrote the thing. It's a weird kind of humorous grimdark, and needs a trigger warning before I can set it loose, and I don't have time to write THAT, and Faye has lost consciousness. So it is going to sit until at least my next study break. But... STORY. Kind of cool.

January 24:
Dredged from 2014:
Doggerel for a cold winter's day (delivered in a Russian accent):
Oh give me a home, where the walruses roam,
And the skies are all cloudy and gray;
Where vodka is key
To long term sanity,
And you get stinking drunk every day.
(Composed in about five minutes while carrrying on a conversation AND driving...)

January 25:
Dredged from 2015:
Dementia: Didn't somebody say, "Never ascribe to malice what can be adequately attributed to stupidity?"

Hyena: Yeah, fellow named Paul Haynie, 35 or 40 years ago. And a few times since then.

Dementia: Oh. HIM.

January 25:
Another death; the wheel continues to turn. This time it was Therese, my brother Pete's mother in law. That sounds like a tenuous connection, and it is, but there have been a LOT of family gatherings over the course of more than 30 years, more than enough to know that she was a warm and wonderful person who loved her family and loved life. The killer in this case was ALS. The world is diminished by her passing.

January 27:
Dredged from 2016:
"The mome rath is born that could outgrabe ME..." ---Dementia
(Happy birthday, Chuck.)

January 28:
Melted down in class during a lab today. My brain just kind of got up and took a walk, leaving the rest of me to gibber and whimper try very hard to pretend that the course work that made perfect sense before lunch had not been magically translated into Swahili. It was a LONG afternoon.

Gods, I hate being crazy.

January 28:
Watching recorded TV, "Grimm". The characters came across an illustration of the monster of the week in their compendium of monsters of the week.

Dementia: Isn't that...?

Hyena: Kronos by William Blake? Yes. It has an extra arm and an extra eye, but yes, absolutely.

It's just that kind of household...

Janaury 30:
Dredged from 2013:
A riddle: A man wrote 24 novels featuring the same main character. Over time, all of the following actors have played that character, though in all cases buy one, the character's name was changed to something other than what it was in the books. What is the character's name? The actors: Lee Marvin, Jim Brown, Robert Duvall, Peter Coyote, Mel Gibson, and Jason Statham.
Added by the gallery: It has been pointed out that Anna Karina (in "Made in USA") and one other actress (who will blow the question out of the water) also played variations on the character.

January 31:
Life in my household:

Hyena: Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be married to a sane woman, and then I realize that I had the chance, once, and ran screaming into the night.

Dementia: ::snort::

February 1:
The world is covered
With celestial dandruff.
I really hate snow...
Sunday, January 29th, 2017
9:31 am
The Cooking Rant
Every now and then, I encounter the idea that "cooking" is a necessary skill. As in, "You are not really a grown up if you don't know how to cook." To which I can only say, No.

Now, let's be clear. We are not talking about the process of taking a living animal, and, using a sharp knife and fire, turning it into something that is tolerably digestible. THAT, I can handle, and do so rather better than most. We are talking about something rather more subtle, a sort of performance art whereby various mostly edible things are converted, through the use of fire, spice, and various trickery, into something more edible. People who are good at this kind of thing are often snobbish about it, and are somewhat inclined to sneer at those of us who are not. I am inclined to sneer right back.

My rule is, if it takes longer to prepare and clean up after than it takes to eat, it isn't worth it. And for me, when I am talking about my own labor, this is absolutely true. And I eat fast.

I will not deny that there are some things which I enjoy eating that do not fit inside these parameters. Sometimes people who are fond of me feed me these things out of affection, and I am grateful. Sometimes I pay a professional to prepare these things for me, and I certainly enjoy them. But the fact remains: If the only way I would ever have pizza or hamburgers or crab legs or grilled cheese sandwiches or fried chicken or omelettes again was if I prepared them myself, I would do without. I don't enjoy ANY food enough to justify the effort. I just DON'T.

It has been pointed out, and is probably apparent from the list above, that I don't really enjoy food all that much, and this is certainly true. But my unwillingness to acquire skill in a process I don't enjoy, the end of which is something I don't care about, is NOT a moral failing. And I deeply resent the implication that it is.

Uncle Hyena
Thursday, January 26th, 2017
6:02 pm
Rogue One
We finally saw "Rogue One" on Wednesday, more than 30 days after its initial release. We probably could have waited until, say, March. Or 2018. Or never.

This is not a BAD movie. It has some real humor (courtesy of Alan Tudyk, whose K-2S0 is pretty much Doug Adams' Marvin retooled as a combat bot, and Donnie Yen, as a blind almost-Jedi), and there are some truly magical scenes. But the characters are thin and the plot is improbable even by the extremely loose standards of the Star Wars franchise. In a year that gave us a creditable remake of "The Magificent Seven", a movie that mostly exists to set up a string of heroic last stand sequences just seems kind of flat.

This is the fifth Star Wars movie that I have walked into hoping that something will rekindle the magic, and give me an excuse to forgive the franchise for the stupidity and betrayal that was "Jedi", all those years ago. This isn't a BAD movie; it is the third or fourth best in the franchise. But it did not begin pay off my now forlorn hope, and it gave me reason to believe that nothing ever will.

On a positive note, this movie DID deal with a long-standing fannish, "Why did they...?" question about the design of the Death Star.

Uncle Hyena
Monday, January 23rd, 2017
9:39 pm
Hidden, Patriots, Cisco
It's been nearly three weeks since I have done one of these. Two movies, a Cisco class that is eating my life, and not much else.

"Hidden Figures" is an excellent dramatic treatment of a generally unknown bit of history that deserves to be MUCH better known. It is marred slightly by the fact that the math and science are dumbed WAY down to make the dialog more intelligible. This was a bad choice; anyone in the audience who paid attention to the math would know it was feeble, and those who didn't pay attention wouldn't care. We enjoyed the movie a great deal anyway.

"Patriots Day" is a dramitizaton of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, and the manhunt that followed it. The story significantly resisted the efforts of the film makers to force a logical structure onto an incredibly chaotic chain of events. I think that the movie is worth seeing, but it is not a pleasant experience.

My Cisco certification class started on January 10; three days a week until sometime in April. The material is not particularly difficult, but there is a LOT of it, and the out of class reading is eating my life. I am more than keeping up with the class, but am not learning the material as well as *I* feel I should, and can't find the time to learn it as well as I would like.

Uncle Hyena
Sunday, January 22nd, 2017
4:56 pm
Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
9:53 pm
Random Bits from Facebook
December 23:
I have cracked and eaten a lot of walnuts over the years. I have never seen a trifurcated one before. Anyone else?

December 24:
Dredged from 2011:
"In my day we used to get together for an orgy, and YOU have to go to MASS."
--Garth Ennis in the character of the Ghost of Yuletide Past, "Hellblazer"

(Best wishes for whatever holiday you celebrate, however you choose to celebrate it.)

December 24:
Dredged from 2012:
Some years ago this very night, I was coerced into attending a Christmas Eve service by my in-laws. Things went well enough, until the preacher got to his sermon and segued from "Little town of Bethlehem" to London's Bethlehem hospital. Eventually he referred to the House of Bedlam, and the music started to play in my head. I did not laugh, nor even snort, but I think I SHOOK until he finished preaching, and had Dementia howling in the car on the way home. The preacher was up there being solemn, and I was hearing...

For to see Mad Tom of Bedlam,
Ten thousand miles I travelled.
Mad Maulin goes on dirty toes,
For to save her toes from gravel.

Chorus:
Still I sing bonny boys, bonny mad boys,
Bedlam boys are bonny;
For they all go bare and they live by the air,
And they want no drink nor money.

I went down to Satan's kitchen
For to get me food one morning,
And there I found souls piping hot,
All on the spit a turning.

(Chorus)

My staff has murdered giants,
And my pack a long knife carries,
To cut mince pies from children's thighs,
With which to feed the fairies.

(Chorus)

Etcetera

The song is nearly 400 years old, and anyone who knows anything about folk music knows it, but apparently not this fellow. I pretty much swore off Christmas Eve services after that...

December 26:
Dredged from 2011:
A songwriter of necessity serves two masters; music is all about Truth, but lyrics are pure Trickster.

December 30:
It occurred to me that, with today's 6 KM, I have logged 161 KM on the rowing machine in December, which is 100 miles. Granted, rowing machine miles are NOT the same as actual water miles; I can do 11 or 12 KM on the machine in an hour, as opposed to about 5 KM in a real boat, but it's still a fun statistic, and represents almost 15 hours of rowing...

December 31:
Dredged from 2013:
Conversation:

Hyena: ...proving once again that I am morally superior to you.

Dementia: I knew that.

Hyena: I know. But it's OK; morally defective women are fun.

Dementia: ::giggle::

December 30:
am sufficiently non-crazy that I often forget about it, and most people don't believe me when I talk about it. I am fine with this.

I am NOT prone to panic; I have looked down the barrel of a loaded gun; I have been in more than my share of life-threatening situations; I have both suffered and witnessed significant injuries, and have dealt with them competently. I am, in most ways, steady.

But send me to the grocery store to buy pre-packaged salad, and I lose the ability to comprehend written English and start turning into a blob of quivering protoplasm.

Fortunately the lizard in my brain stem got angry, and the crisis was averted. I even managed to buy the salad.

My brain is a strange place. But you knew that...

January 1:
"So many homophobes turn out to be secretly gay that I'm nervous I'm secretly a giant spider." Jeremy Kaplowitz

January 2:
Brian Wilson says that the melody of "California Girls" grew out of the theme from "The Magnificent Seven", Bach's "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring," and LSD. Sounds about right...

January 3:
Dredged from 2011:

Professor Tolkien was born on this day in 1892.

This is one of my personal favorites, and it doesn't see daylight nearly as much as some of his stuff (and wasn't in the films).

Song of Durin (by JRRT)

The world was young, the mountains green,
No stain yet on the Moon was seen,
No words were laid on stream or stone
When Durin woke and walked alone.
He named the nameless hills and dells;
He drank from yet untasted wells;
He stooped and looked in Mirrormere,
And saw a crown of stars appear,
As gems upon a silver thread,
Above the shadow of his head.

The world was fair, the mountains tall,
In Elder Days before the fall
Of mighty kings in Nargothrond
And Gondolin, who now beyond
The Western Seas have passed away:
The world was fair in Durin's Day.

A king he was on carven throne
In many-pillared halls of stone
With golden roof and silver floor,
And runes of power upon the door.
The light of sun and star and moon
In shining lamps of crystal hewn
Undimmed by cloud or shade of night
There shone for ever fair and bright.

There hammer on the anvil smote,
There chisel clove, and graver wrote;
There forged was blade, and bound was hilt;
The delver mined, the mason built.
There beryl, pearl, and opal pale,
And metal wrought like fishes' mail,
Buckler and corslet, axe and sword,
And shining spears were laid in hoard.

Unwearied then were Durin's folk;
Beneath the mountains music woke:
The harpers harped, the minstrels sang,
And at the gates the trumpets rang.

The world is grey, the mountains old,
The forge's fire is ashen-cold;
No harp is wrung, no hammer falls:
The darkness dwells in Durin's halls;
The shadow lies upon his tomb
In Moria, in Khazad-dûm.
But still the sunken stars appear
In dark and windless Mirrormere;
There lies his crown in water deep,
Till Durin wakes again from sleep.

January 3:
Breakfast conversation this morning involved hydrography, and the fact that there is a hypersaline river flowing along the bottom of the Mediterranean from Israel to Gibraltar.

I like this place. I am glad I live here.

January 3:
Generally speaking, generalizations are a bad thing.

January 3:
One of my favorite cosmic puns is the fact that the conversion factor from miles to kilometers is within 1% of being a Golden Ratio.

January 4:
Happy perihelion day, folks! Yes, indeed, today is the day that the earth passes closest to the sun, and the day that the planet as a whole receives more solar energy than any other day this year. Of course, locally, it is far and away the coldest day of the (admittedly very young) year so far.
(Tagging Eugenia, who is the only person on my freinds list who actually lives in the Southern Hemisphere...)

January 7:
Breakfast conversation: You could get to the edge of space, 100 KM up, at a walking pace if you wanted to. It would be incredibly inefficient and stupid, but you could do it. But ORBIT requires five miles a second, and there is no way around that.

January 8:
Dredged from 2014:
On this day in 1880, the world became a slightly duller place, because the reign of Joshua Norton, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, came to an end.

January 8:
Linguistic bugaboo of the day: People who do not know the difference between "faze" and "phase". Grrrr.

January 9:
A joke of sorts. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

/////

Cop (or maybe lawyer) show, female protagonist. Every episode, as part of the opening credits, we see her in a local coffee shop. She exchanges a few lines of dialog, usually about sports, always different in every episode, with a female barista whose nametag is clearly seen at least once. As the protagonist leaves, we see the name of the shop: Bechdel's.

/////
Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

January 12:
Dredged from 2016:
A short linguistic rant: A "Masterpiece" is the single piece which establishes a specific artist as a master. It is seldom that artist's BEST work, unless the artist died young. Note well: Each artist only gets ONE masterpiece (if that).

January 14:
Said in my household: You know how all music cassettes left unattended in a car turn into Queen tapes? Well, all VW vans eventually become turquoise.

January 15:
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will perform for the last time this May, and when it vanises, a certain amount of magic will leave the world forever.

January 16:
Dredged from 2015:
"He was always cold,
But the land of gold
Seemed to hold him like a spell,
Though he'd often say,
In his homely way,
That he sooner live in hell."

It's Robert Service's birthday today. Think about him, and Sam McGee, as you trudge though your own snow today.

January 17:
I have been aware of the Fibonacci Sequence since at least my freshman year of high school; I am amused and horrified to learn that the intervals between the elements converge to a Golden Ratio (another concept I learned of at about the same time), and I never noticed. I also feel significant wonder at this realization. It is, simply, beautiful.

January 18:
"If it deserves to be ordered by name, it deserves to be drunk neat."--Julia Haynie

January 18:
Alan Alexander Milne was born on this day in 1882. In honor of this, tell a plush toy that you love it. Be sincere.
Saturday, January 14th, 2017
5:47 pm
State of my Self
It's mid-January. Where I have been for the last year?

I saw 81 movies, which is WAY down from recent years.

I walked about 1200 miles (down from 2015). I gave up on a goal of walking an average of 10,000 steps every day in May, because I got tired of having my feet hurt ALL THE TIME.

I rowed 100 real miles, plus another 100 on the rowing machine. I managed to accomplish most of my rowing goals (Geneva Lake perimeter, Burlington to Grass Lake on the Fox River, and the Chain O'Lakes "island) along the way.

I lost most of ten pounds and kept it off.

My worst injury of the year was in January (tore most of the skin off of my left hand knuckles), which didn't interfere with my life too much.

I had three conversational meals (Jorie H., Kathy G., and Magic Nikki). I need to have more, always.

In March, I turned 60, and later celebrated the 10th anniversary of Clueless Tom's death by taking Tommy the Memorial Bear on a photo tour of Gurnee Mills.

The job I have had for seventeen years ended in April. (Cue ominous music.)

Also in April, I learned that my van was on its last legs, and needed to be replaced. I bought a replacement in July, and then went through WAY too much hassle getting the new vehicle squared away.

In May, I went on a four day (107 hour) fast.

I managed to complete four pieces of short fiction.

Looking forward... I have no clue. I am currently taking a certification class, and then will hit the job market hard. I have no idea beyond that. We shall, of course, see.

Uncle Hyena
Thursday, January 5th, 2017
11:04 am
What Would You Steal?
What Would You Steal? - Thoughts on the Ethical Issues in the Movie "Passengers"

First, be warned: Here there be spoilers.

Second, I need to acknowledge at least in passing that the science in this movie is BROKEN. There are indications that someone who knew the score was involved early in the production, but that person was utterly ignored as the production progressed. This matters somewhat because the tech drives the plot which gives birth to the ethical questions, but in the end, it is only the ethical issues which really matter.

Now, the story in brief: The "Avalon" is a robotic sleeper ship carrying more than 5000 persons in cryonic sleep on a 120 year voyage to a colony world. 30 years into the voyage, one of the passengers, Jim, wakes up. (Point of geekery: 30 years is EXACTLY the point of no return for a continuous acceleration vessel, which the "Avalon" is.) He investigates his situation, tries to adapt, and does not so much fail as realize he is failing; he knows that suicide is inevitable if he does not find some company, and he learns how to wake his fellow passengers, individually, from cold sleep. He becomes obsessed with a particular sleeper, Aurora, and agonizes over waking her up. He acknowledges that this would be an evil act, but he is desperate. (An aside: Jim was breaking after 15 months; historically, Alexander Selkirk managed to go 52 months without human contact 300 years ago.)

Eventually, Jim does the evil thing, and wakes Aurora up. He allows her to believe that her sleep pod, like his, malfunctioned. Being healthy, more or less compatible people with no one else for company, they fall in love, and everything goes well until Aurora finds out that Jim woke her deliberately, and stops speaking to him.

Meanwhile, the problem that originally caused Jim to wake up has been gradually cascading through the ship, and reaches a point where the ship will be destroyed if not repaired very quickly. With survival at stake, Aurora is willing to work side by side with Jim. The final repair will require an almost certainly non-survivable action, and Jim takes it on, stating that the lives of the 5000 sleepers are more valuable than his own life. The repair complete, Aurora then risks her own life to rescue and resuscitate Jim.

With the ship restored, Jim discovers a way to put one of them back into cyro sleep, and offers it to Aurora, but she declines. The two re-establish their relationship, and (presumably) die of old age before "Avalon" reaches her destination.

Now... I was intrigued by the trailers for this film, had been looking forward to it, and then encountered a shrill and strident condemnation of it that regarded Jim's behavior as unforgivable, and Aurora's eventual forgiveness of him as absurd. I ALMOST decided against ever seeing the movie, but instead did some more research, and decided I wanted to make my own judgment; I am glad that I did.

Jim did two things that he knew to be fundamentally evil: He woke Aurora up, and then, in support of that, he hid the truth of her awakening from her. The question is not if these acts were fundamentally evil; they were. The question is, were they forgivable? The film clearly states that they were, and I am strongly inclined to agree.

Some perspective is required. What order of crime did Jim actually commit when he awakened Aurora? Kidnapping has been suggested, but that would require ongoing restraint, and that is absent. Jim's crime was theft; a huge, life changing theft, certainly, but ONLY a theft. And it was motivated by Jim's desire to survive, which is hard to fault.

The ongoing deception is of a piece with the first crime. Yes, Jim could have met Aurora as she awakened by saying, "I'm really sorry, but I have done this awful thing to you, but I had to wake up someone or kill myself." This MIGHT have been ethically preferable. On the other hand, the risk of rejection and failure, making the whole process pointless, was a near certainty.

By the time Aurora forgives Jim, she has a clear idea of who he really is: A courageous and fundamentally good man who did a horrible thing under extreme circumstances, a man who ultimately deserves forgiveness.

I am inclined to say that this movie is awful science fiction, pretty good romance, and a damned fine ethics seminar. Except... It has been said (by Alastair Stephens of StoryWonk) that the fundamental nature of science fiction is to manipulate reality for the express purpose of engaging the consumer's intellect. By that standard, in spite of the film's REALLY HORRIBLE science, this movie is some of the best science fiction I have seen in a long time.

Uncle Hyena
Wednesday, January 4th, 2017
6:32 pm
Passengers, Beauty
Two unusual movie experiences (with more commentary to come, I think). For both of these movies, we liked the trailers and were looking forward to them. And then we heard some spoilers that made us think that maybe we didn't want to see them after all, and then we did some more research and decided we wanted to see them anyway. It turned out to be right choice.

"Passengers" is a paradox. The science is downright awful; it isn't just a matter of the kind of pseudo-tech babble that SF has been using since its inception; it is full of stuff that is just plain WRONG. I get the impression that the story started out as quite hard, reality based SF, and then it went through serveral iterations of, "Wouldn't it be cool if..." from people who did not care about reality checks AT ALL. On the other hand, the emotional side of the story is VERY well done, and addresses some REALLY interesting ethical issues with style. At the heart of the story is a question: "How much would you be willing to steal from another person to save your own life?" In the end, we enjoyed the movie a great deal.

"Collateral Beauty" is a fantasy fable about grief and fear set in contemporary Manhattan. The cast is great, the performances are excellent, the story is all kinds of strange, but mostly worked, and we are very glad we (eventually) decided to see it.

More on the ethical issues of "Passengers" (flooded with spoilers) to follow, I think.

Uncle Hyena
Monday, January 2nd, 2017
9:28 pm
Creed, Sing, Holiday Stuff, Gaming
Movies, family gatherings, and a gaming session.

"Assassin's Creed" is a video game movie. The setup is horrible science fiction, but once you swallow the HUGE initial improbability load, the story stays true to its own rules, and works pretty well. We enjoyed this one. But the initial setup is REALLY silly.

"Sing" is an old fashioned "Let's put on a show" musical done with animated anthropomorphic animals. It has some wonderful moments, but most of the characters are poorly conceived, and many of the sequences attempt simple innocence and fall into childishness. Not reccommended.

We did the household gift exchange on Yule, mostly to clear out the clutter around the fireplace.

We got together with brother Pete and family on Christmas Eve, had steak fondue, had odd conversation, and played Scattergories. This gathering is a long standing tradition; this year was the first time that there was no one from the previous generation in attendance. Time goes on.

On the 28th I drove south again to join Pete and his family, again, at my father's residence, for dinner. Afterwards in my father's room, we called my father's older sister Corneilia on a speaker phone. Aunt Neil told stories of her childhood, which I MAY have heard before, but am vague on. Apparently my grandparents sent the kid's off to go carolling with another relative on Christmas Eve every year, and while the kids were gone, the two of them set up and decorated the tree, hung the stockings, and hid all the presents around the house for a Christmas morning scavenger hunt. Sounds cool, but WOW a lot of work.

On the 31st we stayed home, watched Farscape, packed it in at about five minutes after midnight.

On the 1st I drove up to Lake Geneva Games and played Feast for Odin, again. Game owner Tom Wham was a bit too successful at recruiting, and since he already had four players, chose to stand by as game master, observer, and occasional coach. I ended up winning by a significant margin. I was ahead anyway, but Tom gave me some last round advice that probably doubled my victory margin. The game still seems REALLY random in the early stages, though.

On the way home from Lake Geneva I detoured through Zion to visit with Ed, Doug, and Don R. at their new (since July) house. It has a witch's hat tower over the entryway. I haven't talked to any of them face to face in far too long.

And finally: Final tally on the rowing machine for December was 167 KM, against an initial goal of 155. Not sure where I am going in January...

Uncle Hyena
Friday, December 23rd, 2016
5:01 pm
Random Bits from Facebook
December 16:
From 2015:
Random Dementia-ness, from a conversation yesterday: "If you want to be a Jedi, study Buddhism. If you think the Matrix is cool, study Taoism. And if you're into Final Fantasy, study Shinto."
Yup.

December 17:
Dredged from 2010:
"If Aslan ever let me into Narnia, he’d have to eat me to make me leave again." ~~ Ken St. Andre, commenting on "Voyage of the Dawn Treader".

December 18:
Dredged from 2015:
Surreality of the day: I came across this on a POLITICAL web site this morning, from which we may reasonably conclude that the writer went to college after 1985, that he took a film course, and that he drank the local Kool-Aid by the gallon: "The Rebel Alliance was meant as a (sympathetic) metaphor for the Viet Cong in particular..."

December 19:
Dredged from 2012:
For good or ill, the idea that the right to own firearms is the difference between a citizen and a slave is as deeply ingrained in US culture as slavery once was, and it will take something every bit as cataclysmic as the US Civil war to change that.

December 19:
Said in my household: The ability to get out of bed and be immediately energetic and cheerful is a mutation, because people who are born that way are always killed by their relatives before they live long enough to reproduce.

December 21:
Life in my household:

Dementia: I am not sure why, but I am REALLY fed up with holiday stupidity this year.

Hyena: There's a harpoon in the corner. Dress up as Krampus and go out and stab a few children. You'll feel better.

Dementia (frowning): I think I can come up with the costume, but the law tends to frown on that sort of thing.

Hyena (shocked): Not on Christmas!

December 22:
Cultural horror: The cashier was named, "Christian"; subsequent conversation revealed him to be 22 years old. He had never heard of Cyrano de Bergerac.

December 23:
Dredged from 2012:
Overheard: That's what the Statue of Liberty is, you know. She's a cleaning woman with OCD, wandering around in the middle of the night looking for trash that she missed by daylight.

December 23:
If you are writing a first person story about a badass biker chick, you REALLY need to do enough research to learn the difference between "electronic ignition" and "electric start". Just sayin'. (Regarding Faith Hunter's "Skinwalker".)
Monday, December 19th, 2016
3:14 pm
12-sided Geekery
I came across the problem stated below a while ago, and because I have an affinity for dodecahedrons, I spent some time with it. It confused me, because I was not sure what it was asking for. The key phrase is "expected value", which is a technical term, and I was not sure what it meant in this case. In gambling, "expected value" is a statement of the return you will get if you bet the entire board, the complement of the house edge. In most casinos, this is a value of about 5/6; in state run lotteries, it is about 1/2. But I couldn't find an intuitive meaning of the phrase for this kind of problem. I worked through the posted solutions, did a number of relevant probability calculations, and still didn't understand what the question wanted. Eventually I fell back to brute force, and set up a spreadsheet that ran 1000 ants through 200 moves, and found the answer. For this type of problem, "expected value" is equal to the number on which the average number of turns to complete converges over infinite iterations. I am not at all sure that this is a useful value, but I learned some new tricks along the way.

By the way, the answer is 35...

Uncle Hyena


/////

The Problem:

An ant starts on one vertex of a dodecahedron. Every second he randomly walks along one edge to another vertex. What is the expected value of the number of seconds it will take for him to reach the vertex opposite to the original vertex he was on?

Clarification: Every second he chooses randomly between the three edges available to him, including the one he might have just walked along.
Sunday, December 18th, 2016
10:07 pm
Sloane, Death
More than two weeks since the last entry. One movie, two wakes, life.

"Miss Sloane" is an extremely well done political thriller with a great cast. It is also an egreiously obnoxious piece of anti-gun propaganda. I remain mystified by the tendency of zealots (of any stripe) who truly believe that they hold the moral high ground to dispense with the truth. Folks, if the truth is on your side, it doesn't need your help, and if it isn't, you do NOT hold the moral high ground.

Two of my friends have died since the first of December, and I have twice recently found myself standing over the body of someone who is (or has been) significant to me, feeling a need to say something appropriately final. Without going into great detail about my significantly peculiar metaphysical perspective, I find myself quoting Seanan McGuire, whose sidhe characters have strict rules about benedictions: "Open roads, fair winds, calm seas, kind fires." Yeah, that will do it. Still can't recite it without my voice breaking, though.

Uncle Hyena
Thursday, December 15th, 2016
7:25 pm
Random Bits from Facebook
December 1
So... I was GOING to get five KM on the rowing machine every day in December. Got the machine set up, logged about 1.5 km, and the main seam on the water tank broke and the machine started spraying water all over the living room. Manufacturer contacted, repair kit on the way, tank drained, all good for now. But I am going to be a LONG way in the hole once things start working again...

December 3:
An elaboration on an old joke:

Let me introduce the Barr brothers:

Eldest brother Remus (goes by Ree) is a fixer; he talks fast, and thinks faster. He's always on the lookout for an angle that other people have missed, and often finds one.

Middle brother Priam (goes by Pry) is a lawyer. He isn't as fast on his feet as Ree, but he's probably smarter, and a lot better at dealing with fine details. His morals are at least as hazy as Ree's, but he's a lot more careful.

Youngest brother Festus (Festus Ulysses, goes by Foo) is much smarter than people give him credit for, but he is also big and tough and has a natural affinity for chaotic solutions. He enjoys getting into situations that make his brothers nervous, but he is also utterly loyal to them.

December 3:
I loved Douglas Adams' "Dirk Gently" books. They were at base Trickster tales, and I am a sucker for such. And I love Adams anyway. Lately I have come across two adaptations of the character - one in comics (bad), the other on BBC television(pretty good) - that seem to based on very different books than the ones I read. I remember Dirk as a con man who yammered about the interconnectedness of everything not because he believed it, but because it was a good scam. He was also highly intelligent and open minded at a questionably sane level, which made him able to deal with REALLY bizarre situations. Both of the recent adaptation portray Dirk as a true believer who is largely out of touch with everything around him. It's baffling, and a little disturbing.

December 4:
Hit the "First Sunday Game Day" up at Lake Geneva Games today, played a two handed version of a recently released mega-game, Scythe. It's a very pretty game, full of interesting bits. I enjoyed playing, but I wonder more and more, with these enormous, well balanced games, if I wouldn't have more fun swapping lies with the other players rather than actually playing the game.

Deceber 5:
Dredged from 2011:
Bad things happen to songs that get stuck in my head when I am in a bad mood (and I realize that I am usually in a bad mood, lately). Still, I am rather proud of the effort it took to make the scansion work on the following bit of idiocy:

God bless the master of this house,
The mistress bless also,
And all the contraceptive errors
That round the table go.

December 5:
Just found out that Ken O., who was my roommate for two years at Wheaton, had a stroke and died on Friday. We had moved apart after I left Wheaton; I attended his wedding in (I think) 1978, and had only seen him a few times since then. He was a few months younger than I am, and we had known each other since infancy.

Silliness: When we were somewhere in the 10 to 12 range, I bet Ken five dollars that he would have a girlfriend before his 16th birthday. I lost by about six weeks, but never got around to paying up until his wedding reception. I had to leave early, so I gave a five dollar bill to the best man and told him to give it to Ken (who, as it happened, married the SECOND girl he ever dated) and say it was in payment of an old gambling dept. I am told Ken got a good laugh out of that.

I can't say I will miss him; he has not been a part of my life for a long time. But he was a good man, and his passing leaves a hole in the world.

December 6:
Firearm geekery: Watching "Timeless", a mediocre time travel drama that we haven't quite given up on. The current episode deals with Bonnie and Clyde, and when the shooting starts, there are plenty of Thompsons in evidence, but Clyde is shooting a BAR. Which WAS Clyde's weapon of choice, but you don't see it that way on film too often.
And a little bit of additional firearm geekery, that I just discovered: The initial production of the Thompson SMG was 15,000 units in 1921, and while they were modified over the years, very few new guns were produced until WWII production began in the late 30s. In contrast, there were over 100,000 BARs loose in the world by the end of 1919...

December 6:
I was bored while waiting in the checkout line. Behind me was a mother-daughter pair; Daughter was 20-ish, Mother likely mid-40s. Daughter was wearing a Fright Fest shirt; I could work with that.

"You worked Fright Fest?" I asked; Daughter said yes. "Ever meet Nox, the Demon Lord?" She replied that, Yes, she had run into him a couple of times, thought he was really cool. "I know him," I said. "He's married to one of my adopted neices." I proceeded to say a few nice things about Mark L,. the man behind Nox, including that he had just posted his acting resume, made up as a D&D character sheet. Daughter thought that was cool, too.

I went on to tell of my experience as a house monster, back in the long ago, and Daughter told me about going through a fast food drive through in full zombie make-up. This led, somehow, to a Harley Quin reference by her, which led to me telling the story of how a sort of accidental radio interview with Mark Hamill turned into forty-five minutes with Harley and Mister J.

Beats hell out of being bored...

December 7:
Yesterday, I spent half an hour listening to a presentation on the value and techniques of professional networking. I did not scream. I did not protest. I did not even express skepticism. It HURT.

I have been running into this a great deal, lately. It ALWAYS hurts. It isn't just that I find professional networking distasteful; I do all sorts of things I find distasteful every day. The problem is that I find the concept fundamentally immoral.

As I see it, cultivating a relationship with another person for the sole purpose of furthering your career is morally identical to cultivating a relationship with another person for the sole purpose of getting that person into bed.

I understand that my attitude is far from universal, and that this behavior is considered acceptable in our society. It is even close to being necessary. But that doesn't change my moral structure, or make me any less unhappy.

December 8:
Can anybody tell me how or where the current (moronic, he said, telegraphing his attitude on the subject) war against adverbs got started? There is no question that excessive use of adverbs will cripple a piece, but excessive use of anything (even parentheticals!) will cripple a piece. ADVERBS HAVE THEIR PLACE.

Consider the following:

1) "You shall not pass!" Gandalf said adamantly.

2) "You shall not pass!" Gandalf said, adamant.

3) "You shall not pass!" Gandalf said adamant.

Now, it can certainly be argued that the sentence would be better if it simply ended with "said", but this will not ALWAYS be true. Given that some modifier is wanted, though, there is no question that the first choice is better written than the second, UNLESS the writer is subject to an irrational compulstion to avoid adverbs at all costs. The third, of course, is just WRONG, but writers who are sufficiently confused to produce the second sometimes slide right on into the third.

I have been seeing option two in fiction far too often, lately, and it has become clear that someone of influence has declared war on adverbs, and is teaching this idiocy. Does anyone in the gallery know who or why?

December 8:
So... The WaterRower started leaking on December 1, frustrating my plan to get in 5 km (about 25 minutes) of rowing every day this month. Drained the tank and called the manufacturer immediately, got the repair kit on Tuesday, repaired the tank yesterday, filled it this morning, and just finished doing 8 km in a little over 40 minutes, so the original goal of 155 km for the month is still in reach. Go me.

For the record, 4 km in 20 minutes on the machine is somewhat more strenuous than 1 mile in 20 minutes in the real world. I think. I am a bit out of shape since the summer.

December 9:
And today's historical trivia: England created its first baronets during the reign of Edward III, per Wikipedia. It is a hereditary non-noble title between knight and baron. Wikipedia does not infer that it is a derivative/ evolution/ corruption of "bannerette", which was the highest order of knighthood, just short of being a baron, which existed at about the same time. Hmmm.

December 12:
I am always kinda-sorta on the lookout for new canoe expeditions, and I think I have just found one. It turns out that about two miles downstream of the I275 bridge across the Ohio River, just west of Cincinnati, there is a rusting hulk in Taylor Creek on the Kentucky side of the river. The local kyakers call her "The Ghost Ship."

She was beautiful once. She came into the world as "Celt", a 186 foot clipper bowed fantail steam yacht. She changed hands and was renamed "Sachem", was pulled into the US Navy and hunted submaries during WWI, then went back into private hands after the war; she was refitted for diesel and did a stint as a gamefishing boat. Back into the Navy as "USS Phenakite" in WWII, first as a sub chaser, then as a sonar lab. Back into private hands and a stint as a New York Harbor tour boat, first as the "Sightseer", and later as "Circle Line V". She left active service in 1983.

In 1986 she was partially refitted and sailed through the Great Lakes to the Mississippi (which must have included Chicago along the way), then up the Ohio to her current resting place and dereliction.

There are a fair number of small to medium logisical challenges involved in actually meeting this particular lady in person, but as of now I really WANT to meet her...

December 13:
My friend Jack S. had a stroke on November 26. He made it through a high risk surgery, was doing well, was expected to make a full recovery. And now he is dead, from pneumonia that developed as a complication of the stroke and its treatment.

He was a great guy; quirky, quick to laugh, generous to a fault. Recently married, happy. The world is diminished by his passing.

(Yeah, this is the second friend in ten days.)

December 15:
Once upon a time, about 45 years ago, I went over to my friend Tony E's house and found him working on a puzzle called "Plato's Plight". It seemed that his younger brother had seen the puzzle and had torn it apart, and then couldn't get it back together again. A search of the trash turned up a part of the package which held a photograph of part of the completed puzzle. Tony was trying to figure out what it was, and how it went pack together. I spent some time with it, determined that it must be a dodecahedron (and this was before D&D made dodecahedrons common geek currency, remember), and was able to reassemble the thing. Along the way I also solved the Lesser Puzzle, which involved getting the caged ball out without disconnecting any of the elements. It was a good night.

I later bought a copy of my own, which was destroyed by someone trying to use brute force to solve the Lesser Puzzle. And a while after that, I bought ANOTHER copy, which I still have. Got it down the other night and dismantled it, gave it the cleaning it needed, and reassembled it.

This is the kind of stuff that goes on in my brain...
Wednesday, December 7th, 2016
12:51 pm
Venting
Yesterday, I spent half an hour listening to a presentation on the value and techniques of professional networking. I did not scream. I did not protest. I did not even express skepticism. It HURT.

I have been running into this a great deal, lately. It ALWAYS hurts. It isn't just that I find professional networking distasteful; I do all sorts of things I find distasteful every day. The problem is that I find the concept fundamentally immoral.

As I see it, cultivating a relationship with another person for the sole purpose of furthering your career is morally identical to cultivating a relationship with another person for the sole purpose of getting that person into bed.

I understand that my attitude is far from universal, and that this behavior is considered acceptable in our society. It is even close to being necessary. But that doesn't change my moral structure, or make me any less unhappy.

Uncle Hyena
Thursday, December 1st, 2016
8:13 pm
Beasts, Edge, Moana, Holiday, LGG, Birthday, Rower
Three movies, and the usual foolishness.

"Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" is the new movie set in the world of Harry Potter. I loved Harry Potter in general, five of the books, five of the movies, and several of the characters in specific. But the world was not fundamentally robust, and was pushed beyond its design limits by the time the series ended. This movie exacerbates that. The characters are decent, and the performances are good, but the plot is weak and the pacing is pretty much awful. And then there is the fact that more large special effects shots were shoe-horned into the film than the plot would support. This is not an awful movie; we enjoyed it. But the Harry Potter franchise became what it was by virtue of froth and charm, both of which declined as the story grew darker. This movie slams into that conflict; it shuffles between a very dark main plot and animal based slapstick, and is kind of a mess.

"The Edge of Seventeen" is being marketed as a top tier teenage coming of age comedy. It isn't. The cast and performances are good, but the script is deeply flawed. Hailee Steinfeld is too pretty for her part as written, and her character is too damaged and hateful to function as the center of a movie of this type. We didn't actually dislike this movie, but we didn't like it all that much, either.

"Moana" is a lot of fun. It could be more. There are echoes of real mythological magic, but they never really materialize. The sailing footage almost breaks through the screen to become authentically exciting, but never quite gets there. All around, there is a heartbreaking lack of attention to detail that makes it clear that, while this movie is very pleasant, it could have been brilliant, but it isn't.

I visited my dad for the first time since his party on the 22nd; little has changed. He is still always himself, but he seems to be just half a tick slower every time I see him.

Thanksgiving dinner, after a double feature, consisted of roasting hot dogs over an open fire. Nothing against turkey, but I liked this meal at least as well, and it was a LOT less work.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving I dropped in on the 6th anniversary party at Lake Geneva Games, played a game of Marvel Comics Munchkin. Good times.

Tuesday was Dementia's birthday; we saw a movie, and then had Chinese food. (We lead such exciting lives.)

Yesterday I finished a VERY short story that I have been hacking at for a while; it is built around a bit of world building, and I finally managed to hang a plot onto it: http://unclehyena.livejournal.com/395228.html

Today, I was psyched to spend some time on the rowing machine, in the hope of logging five km every day in December. The rowing machine didn't cooperate; resistance on this machine is provided by a water tank, which developed a leak while I was rowing. A repair kit is on the way, but that five km goal is going to get difficult...

Uncle Hyena
7:06 pm
Random bits from Facebook
November 19:
Whenever a writer or speaker makes me feel like I am at a pep rally, I make sure that my wallet and keys are secure, and that I have a clear path to the nearest exit.

November 19:
Language corner: We were watching Graham Norton, and the guests were blindly discussing the word, "overwhelm". For the record: "Whelm" means to swamp as with a wave; "overwhelm" started as a redundant perfect synonym and expanded, and "underwhelm" is a neologism that is intended to be the opposite of "overwhelm".

November 20:
Good time at the Elkhorn Pizza Ranch game day this afternoon; played "A Feast for Odin" with Tom Wham and Laura Murin. It took about four hours. VERY complex game, but fun, and very good company.

November 21:
On this point Asatru and Shinto are in full agreement: A good death is never a tragedy.

November 21:
Watching the season premier of "The Librarians": time sliced. There is a key scene late in the show where the background music sounds a LOT like a rearranged version of Murray Gold's "Day of the Doctor" from Doctor Who. And then they cut in two bars of the bridge EXACTLY. Major geek out.

November 22:
Chasing multimedia connections is too much fun. From "The Librarians" to "Day of the Doctor" to "Love Don't Roam" to "The Snake" to "Secret Agent Man" just that quickly.

November 22:
Normal procedure for replacing a light switch: Power off the circuit, change the switch, power on the circuit. Procedure in my house: Build a circuit shorting gadget, short the circuit (because a fly-by-night electrician rewired the breaker box without labelling the breakers), replace the switch. Power on the circuit. Whole circuit still dead. Check all the other breakers, still dead. Power off circuit, re-install old switch, power on circuit, all is well. Power off circuit, remove old switch, compare switches using a continuity checker, re-install switch upside down AND switch two terminals, power on circuit, all is well. (Plus a couple of false starts due to transient brain death). The wiring in this house is WEIRD. Is it any wonder I HATE doing home repair?

November 23:
Dredged from 2015: Today marks the 52nd anniversary of the first airing of "Doctor Who". Just sayin'.

November 24:
Forty years ago - forty years ago on Thanksgiving - after the family meal was over, I went into Chicago, met up with my then-new friend Clueless Tom and his Weird Uncle Ed, and went to a retrospective of "Darby O'Gill and the Little People" starring Sean Connery, at, I think, the Coral Theater. Good times.

November 25:
Watching "The Princess Bride", and looking for Elwes' compensatory moves during the "Life is pain," sequence, knowing that he had broken the big toe of his right foot just before they started filming that day.

November 26:
Dredged from 2015:
Thanksgiving day, 2004: Ernest Gary Gygax Jr., Edward A. Reno, Hiren Thakkar, and I had a REALLY slow day at work, and tried to play a complete game of Titan. When it collapsed down to Ernie and me (with Ernie out-powering me by something like three to one), I charged his biggest stack with a significantly inferior Titan stack, effectively committing suicide. Ernie was disappointed; he had really wanted to strangle me slowly (Well, honestly, he had just wanted the game to keep going, regardless, but that MEANT strangling me slowly.). Still, good times and never to come again circumstances.

November 26:
Not sure why I am thinking about this today, but it remains one of the cleverest shout-outs ever filmed.

(Text lifted from IMDB; it may not be dead accurate.)

Capt. William "Buck" Rogers: Have we met before, Gordon?
Brigadier Gordon: I don't think so, Captain. We're from different times.
Capt. William "Buck" Rogers: Gordon, where did you learn to shoot like that?
Brigadier Gordon: I've been doing this since long before you were born, Captain.
Capt. William "Buck" Rogers: You think so?
Brigadier Gordon: Young man, I *know* so.

Within the show, Rogers had spent 500 years in suspended animation, and was much, much older than the 70 years that Gordon showed. Outside the show, Buster Crabbe had in fact been playing Flash Gordon before Gil Gerard, who played Rogers, had been born.

It was a lame show; I had a crush on Erin Gray, and the show regularly featured attractive women wrapped in Spandex, but what really kept me coming back was the occasional tidbit like the one above. (Another example: The following message once came up on the overhead in a starport scene: "Paging Christopher Pike. Will Captain Christopher Pike please report to Veterans Administration?")

November 27:
Just found out that Jack S., with whom I have been playing poker since 2009, had a stroke yesterday. He had surgery last night, and is still in critical condition, but this is as good as the news can actually be at this point in the process. He's an authentically good guy.

Just... ouch.

November 27:
Just saw the new Apple "Frankenstein's Monster's Christmas" ad. It's sweet. (Apple is still evil, though.) My comment: "He has his navigation lights installed backwards."

Dementia giggled.

November 28:
Dredged from 2015:
Stuff that oozes out of my cranial sewer:

Bob wandered into Adam's office with a broad grin on his face. "Have you perceived," he said with a grin, "The proboscis on the pretentious provisional provincial provost?"

Adam grimaced. "The interim US attorney for the state has a big nose and a bad attitude..."

Bob continued, "Plus pulchritudinous progeny with prominent prosthetics."

Adam glared at him. "And, apparently, an attractive daughter with fake tits. Get out of my office before I beat you to death with a chair."

Bob turned in the doorway and said, "Prudence without penitence paves my path," and then closed the door behind himself.

Adam closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and then muttered, "Pest."

November 28:
I am apparently incapable of writing a self-description that is not either flippant, self-deprecating, or both.

Example: Highly intelligent autodidact, currently working as an IT professional, and disturbingly unclear about what happened to the first half of his life.

And while I am at it, I just cut this from my Facebook intro, preserved here for archival purposes: I am certain that I will have an iron-clad alibi for the interval in question, if you will only give me a few minutes to fabricate one.

November 28:
Just found this in my archives, where it has been lurking for about three years:

The idea of making morality FUN is absurd. Moral behavior begins when we decide that something or someone is more important to us than our own self interest, or, to put it another way, when we choose to define our happiness in a contra-survival way.

Morality that is based on fear of punishment is just cowardice, and not really morality at all.

Morality that is based on hope of reward is just greed, and not really morality at all.

True morality begins with a decision to walk the path of righteousness IN SPITE of the personal cost.

Because the path of righteousness is seldom if ever clearly marked, living a moral existence requires constant self awareness just to SEE the path.

November 29:

Celebrating the anniversary of one of the most important events in my life, even though I was ignorant of it for nearly three decades. (It's Dementia's birthday.)

November 30:
New fiction, that few seem inclined to read: http://unclehyena.livejournal.com/395228.html

December 1:
Sensitive Language Interlude:

Consider the following two sentiments:

One: "I believe that the group of which I am a member is fundamentally superior to that other group of which I am not a member."

Two: "I actively dislike that entire group of which I am not a member."

Neither of these two things is admirable, but they are different things. Most significantly, the first will almost never lead the violence, while the second is VERY likely to lead to violence. In spite of this, the two ideas often go by the same name. If the division between the groups is racial, the term for both of them is "racism", and no effort is made to distinguish between them. If the division between the two groups is gender, and the speaker is male, the first is "chauvanism" and the second is "misogyny".

It has come to my attention that the WORD "chauvanism" is dying out, and "misogyny" is expanding to fill the gap. This is unfortunate, because the distinction is important (for matters of safety if nothing else), and whenever linguistic mutation leads to loss of information, we all lose.

December 1:
Life in my household:

Hyena: OK, so a 3D printer is basically kinda-sorta a cake froster on the business end of a high precision 3D positioning robot, and a CNC milling machine is kinda-sorta a Dremel tool on the business end of a high precision 3d positioning robot, so this gadget is a high precision 3D positioning robot with interchangeable cake frosting and Dremel tool heads.
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