"Now, the rest is up to us, and there's a future to be won.
We must turn our faces outward, we will do what must be done.
For no cradle lasts forever, every bird must learn to fly ---
And we're going to the stars, see our fire in the sky."
-- Jordin Kare (b. 1956-10-24, d. 2017-07-19), "Fire In the Sky"
[Happy Gregorian New Year, 2018! (Also, eighth day of Christmas, seventh day of Kwanzaa, Haitian Independence Day, and birthday of Paul Revere, J.D. Salinger, Country Joe McDonald, the United Nations, the Internet[*], and my friend, Laurie Ramey]
[*] By some folks' counting anyhow. ARPANET converted to TCP/IP 1983-01-01.
"My dear, dear friend. I promise you -- our work has not been wiped out. As I have had learn painfully this year, there is a world of difference between 'didn't win' and 'didn't matter.'" -- Harold Feld, 2017-12-15
"So we're definitely living in a simulation." He nodded. "But you've managed to break out of the sandbox." Another nod. "And you're using the computer that runs our universe to mine bitcoin." A proud smile. "You utter wanker," she said, and decked him. -- Tigerfort, 2017-12-11
[Happy sixth day of Christmas (and fifth day of Kwanzaa)!]
"I don't think most people understand just how absolutely fanatically crazy a number of us Jews are about Jerusalem. Indeed there are a fair number of American Jews who don't understand why this stupid, highly symbolic issue is so fucking powerful for so many of the rest of us. [...]
"On the subject of Jerusalem, I am about as rational as the dwarves of Durin's race about Moria. (It helps, I suppose, that Tolkien once said in an interview that he vaguely based the dwarves on the Jews in the same way he vaguely based the Rohirrim on the Vikings.) And yeah, maybe it will turn out that this time, the Balrog wins. Too bad."
-- Harold Feld, 2017-12-08 (N.b.: much useful, pertinent, historical information in the comments! If you have an immediate gut reaction to this, you might want to peek at the debate there.)
[To my friends observing Asara B'Tevet, may you have an easy fast.]
Gregorian: 2017 December 28 -- fourth day of Christmas
Julian: 2017 December 15
Hebrew: 5778 Teveth 10 -- minor fast commemorating the seige of Jerusalem in 588 BCE
Islamic: 1439 Rabi`ath-Thani 09
Persian: 1396 Dey 07
Indian: 1939 Pausa 07
Coptic: 1734 Koiak 19
[I'm still confused as to why Chabad gives a date about 160 years later than Wikipedia & other sites I looked at.]
"AIM: dead. ICQ: dead. MSN: dead. Y! chat: dead. Google XMPP/Jabber: dead. IRC survived. Remember that." -- Joan Touzet, 2017-12-15
[@lproven supplied a correction re: ICQ in a reply. I think the point stands, though.]
[On catcalls and come-ons (and worse) from strangers:] "Such behavior is not about me. It's not about love. It's not even about sex. It is about fear and power. What certain men gain from feeding on such things, I do not know, and I do not want to know." -- Heather Burtman, "My Body Doesn't Belong to You", New York Times, 2017-06-16
Boxing Day / second day of Christmas
Saint Stephen's Day
first day of Kwanzaa
birthday of Charles Babbage
birthday of one of my nieces -- happy birthday, G!]
"So God throws open the door of this world--and enters as a baby. As the most vulnerable imaginable. Because He wants unimaginable intimacy with you. What religion ever had a god that wanted such intimacy with us that He came with such vulnerability to us? What God ever came so tender we could touch Him? So fragile that we could break Him? So vulnerable that His bare, beating heart could be hurt? Only the One who loves you to death." -- Ann Voskamp
[To most of my fellow Christians, on this first day of Christmas, I wish you a joyous celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord, and may you keep the Christmas spirit through the rest of Christmastide as well! Advent is finished and Christmas is begun! To non-Christians celebrating our holiday today, I wish you a merry Christmas, whatever it means to you, as well -- and to everyone not celebrating in one way or another, may you have a pleasant and peaceful Monday with the rest of us out of your hair for a spell. Finally, for those of my faith who are not celebrating the Nativity today -- those in old-calendar Coptic, Georgian, and Russian churches -- may the remainder of your Advent be good, and your Christmas two weeks hence be wonderful!]
"We must finally stop appealing to theology to justify our reserved silence about what the state is doing -- for that is nothing but fear. 'Open your mouth for the one who is voiceless' -- for who in the church today still remembers that that is the least of the Bible's demands in times such as these?" -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (b. 1906-02-04, d. 1945-04-09)
"Little known fact: Atlas Shrugged is actually just an English translation of the Necronomicon."
"Do you mean the Neoconomicon?"
"There is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations." -- Washington Irving (b. 1783-04-03, d. 1859-11-28)
[A blessed solstice to everyone who marks or celebrates it in some way!]
"Can you imagine the idiotic hubris it took for any Trump official to put something incriminating in email after their email crusade against Clinton? Seriously, these people shouldn't be trusted to drive a car much less run a country." -- digby (@dugby56), 2017-12-16
"By directing the CDC to erase 'transgender' from all its documents and reports, this adinistration classes 1.4 million transgender people in the US as beneath acknowledgement." -- Trans Lifeline (Facebook ad)
"Most ppl have other priorities & are woefully ignorant about politics. Research has confirmed this again & again. *Boundless* ignorance. Average people absorb politics piecemeal, through osmosis. What they generally see is a haze of pettiness, squabbles, & conflict. Viewed from this distance, most people conclude that 'politics' is hopeless, all politicians are venal, & the whole game is corrupt. Unless you're willing to put in serious time & work to suss out the details, 'pox on both houses' is kind of the default destination.
"So when voters are confronted by the idea that one party wants to take from the poor & sick & to fund tax cuts for the rich and the other party doesn't, it simply doesn't fit the hazy 'both sides suck' model. It *sounds* like an unfair partisan attack.
"The truth about the GOP sounds like an attack on the GOP, so people dismiss it as such. It is a perverse form of immunity. And here we come to the true, twisted genius of the decades long RW strategy. They have fractured trust in mainstream institutions so there is no widely trusted person or institution who can tell the truth about the GOP in a way that will be broadly accepted.
"Which brings us to this current tax bill, which is even more comically malign & grasping than past GOP budget plans. Any attempt to accurately describe it sounds like a f'ing comic book villain revealing their evil plot toward the end of the movie.
"They do their deeds right out in the open, trusting (accurately!) that a good chunk of the public won't believe it is what it is.
"Remember: 'respondents simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing.' And that's how they get away with it."
[On whether there are any good reasons for a warship to explode ...]
"There are no good reasons for warships, but we exist in a universe where causality is inherently amoral. We have warships for reasons. Sometimes we have reasons to make warships explode.
"It would be nice if all our reasons were always good, but at least the explosions are pretty."
-- Chinook, Goddess of Earth, Wind and Plumbing (originally a ship's AI, now the controlling AI of a ginormous, ancient, constructed habitat), in Schlock Mercenary by Howard Tayler, 2017-12-03 [This is not the best line in the page, but I didn't want to spoil the punchline for y'all. Go have a peek. I don't think you need this bit of background to appreciate it, but since I know some folks will wonder who the characters are: the two on the ends are avatars of AIs -- Petey, who started as a ship AI but became a fleet hivemind who now controls Godlike resources at the galactic core, and the aforementioned Chinook. The middle one, Putzho, was a living person who got his mind uploaded into a star-sized community-inside-a-computer, currently inhabiting an artificial body.]
[On a three-legged-stool metaphor for user-experience...]
"If you view UX as a tacked-on piece, it makes everyone's job harder. If you try to assign success or failure to one piece of the stool, it makes it harder for the whole to gel. It creates adversarial thinking, which damages team formation. Most importantly, it leads to a fragmented experience for customers. Hit them with enough sharp edges, and they'll leave.
"Or you can work to make the stool amazing from top to bottom, and reap the rewards of happy, productive users."
-- Alex Feinman, "Come for the features, stay for the experience", 2017-10-30
"Hi. History nerd here. I'm seeing some creepy takes on adults having sex with teens as historically normal, and that's only kinda true." -- Kristen Hanley Cardozo, 2017-11-18
"Yep. I've somehow traced my family tree back to 200 AD, on average even in the dark ages, most women married at 18-25 with a 3-5 yr age gap. Don't know if the woman was older, but marriages where both parties were born the same year were even more common than like 8-10 yr gaps.
"And a thing I learned about recent marriage ages? Before social security, my female ancestors often only aged 9 yrs between censuses ;-) So the age that their obituary says they were born and the age the first census says they were can be off by up to 5 yrs. On the other hand my male ancestors would age sightly when wars started! So men born 1899 would be 11 in 1910, then become 17 in 1914, and 45 in 1940. So one specific couple who were really born the same year ended up claiming birth dates about 10 yrs apart by the time they died!"
-- Rachel (@TheNobleWoman), 2017-11-19 [alas, I've forgotten whose link I followed to find this]
For folks lighting the first candle tonight, happy Chanukah!
"As a teenager, I attended a lecture on courtship by a home-school speaker who was popular at the time. He praised the idea of 'early courtship' so the girl could be molded into the best possible helpmeet for her future husband. The girl's father was expected to direct her education after the courtship began so she could help her future husband in his work.
"In retrospect, I understand what the speaker was really describing: Adult men selecting and grooming girls who were too young to have life experience. Another word for that is 'predation.'"
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