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Helpful

My friends who have a blog, Chuck and Christy have a new baby boy as of 4pm yesterday!

However, they have not yet decided on a name (they had only agreed on a girl name).

I know what a busy time these first for days can be, therefore I offer the following boy name suggestions so that they can have one less thing to worry about:

  • Calcutron
  • Diggable Gary
  • elbow
  • Rufus Augustus
  • ∫ f(John) ΔJohn
  • Maycontainpeanuts
  • Fermi Faraday Heisenberg
Hope that helps!

New Future?

So I am currently suffering from a crisis of faith. I find myself questioning some of my most basic values and beliefs. I am currently debating whether there is any utility left in my self-acclaimed "nerd" status.

So we're clear here, I've long been a strong proponent that the chief property of a "nerd" is on prioritizing the acquisition of knowledge above that of social interaction. This is not to be confused with the far different (IMHO) noun "geek", which, taken from it's circus usage, is a person who attempts to use their obscure knowledge in order to impress people.

A quick example, a boy sitting alone in a cafeteria reading a DnD monster manual, nerd. A boy loudly regaling anybody who will listen about his awesome DnD session last night, geek.

Now, in high school, where the odds in a stray conversation with a stranger resulting in being called "gay" ran about 50/50, being anti-social was just a smart move. However, now that I am well past society's social sphincter of public high school, as well as the rise in the median age of those who I interact with, I find that a majority of the people whom I encounter are eminently pleasant and reasonable, with the odds of one of them giving me an unbidden "snake bite" are closely approaching odds normal associated with multi-state lotteries.

So most people I encounter are nice, and yet, I am terrible at striking up conversations with them. Like all things, I asked the Internet for advice, and it responded that the key to small talk is to actually be interested in the person, to ask them about themselves.

I attempted this technique during the long silences that inevitably pop up after the familiar pleasantries are exchanged, and my mind is always a blank. My mind a frozen oil pan, refusing any attempts to engage interest. I fear the problem is that I find it very difficult to be interested in someone I know nothing about. A stranger without a history to me might as well be a smooth rise of basalt.

If I was in such a social situation where I had been given generous amounts of truth serum and tequila I honestly believe my first question of every stranger would be "are you real?". I think the fact that every person walking around has several decades of history in tow about them frightens me greatly, and that the only real way to sanely deal with it is to just secretly think of everyone as fake until you learn a detail about them. Any piece of truth about their life, no matter how minute immediately then crystallizes my attention, and allows me to actually sound like a normal person.

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The Obama Paradox

So I've been a fan of Obama for awhile now. It all started when he crushed Alan Keys by a 57 point margin at a time while we watched progressive candidates in all other states other than Illinois take a beating.

I really respect the humility with which he delivers speeches, and the fact that he is completely funded by independent contributions really made him the whole package to me.

In fact, it has me thinking, for the first time in a very long time, a man with a semblance of true honesty might actually be president.

Before I go into the paradox, let me please qualify my above "honesty" remark for any and all Hilary supporters reading this.

So the original definition of "Generation X" was as a marketing demographic that was inherently distrustful of standard marketing schemes. There is some debate about whether my '78 birth year technically qualifies me into this socially constructed group. In terms of disrust of marketing messages, I believe I qualify in spades.

Whenever I hear someone talk in the faux soothing tones of a politician whose only the goal seems to be word slaloming within the focus group placed flags rather than actually saying anything, alarm bells go off in my head. Headaches ensue, and my desire to stop listening and wear flannel increases.

When I hear Hilary talk, the alarm bells that go off would make a klaxon blush. So it's not that she says anything that is technically dishonest. I just find the default communication style of almost all politicians fundamentally dishonest, since I believe it's goal is not to actually communicate anything.

Now, I recognize that my above opinion in Hilary is not at all based in anything rational. The belief that a majority of the politicians are unabashed liars isn't far off from complete political apathy, and isn't the foundation of a properly rigorous political dialog, and for that I apologize.

Speaking of which, it's also my assumption that there are powerful people out there who have a stake in keeping an honest man out of the White House. There is just too much money on the line for me to believe otherwise.

So, this brings us to the paradox. If Obama is truly an honest man, and not just a liar who has discovered that self-deprecation keeps Generation Xer's from noticing that you're lying, then there should be some very powerful people who will attempt to keep him from winning.

So if he does win, that is nearly defacto proof that he is playing the same game as all politicians, and is not actually an engine of change looking to break the cycle of corruption in the high ends of government.

So really, the only happy outcome for me is to be both right and wrong. For me to be right about Obama's integrity, and wrong about the ability for people with money to manipulate the outcomes of popular votes in their favor.

... and a dollar short

My father's eldest brother (my uncle), "Skip" passed away this weekend.

He was a kind and jovial man. Ever since I've know him he's sported a full beard that I've always secretly envied. I never heard an unkind word out of his mouth (with the possible exception of a few state political figures), and you could always count on him to greet you warmly whenever you saw him.

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Peptheist

Due to no demand, another dumb story exists.

Twenty-five years late

So just yesterday, while driving north on highway 169, I had a realization.

It was a fact about the world so simple, that it boggled my mind that I didn't already know it.

The realization, that was so earth shattering to me, was the fact that, "The longer you do something, the better you get at it."

I am guessing you already knew this, because you're not me.

But this fact honestly had never occurred to me. I have been living my life as if your ability to do something was a predetermined value.

Now I won't claim this thought never occurred to me. In fact, I suspect that a year ago I came up with this very idea as a testable hypothesis, and largely unbeknown to me, I setup a method to test it.

Cultivating a fear of physical activity wasn't the only downside to living in a world where you believe innate talent dictates your skill for life. Any time I found myself unable to perform a task, say, beating a difficult mega man level, or getting a computer to boot again, by my own logic, I simply lacked the ability to do it. Self-anger than kicked in, rather than the far healthy response of "boy, I need to practice that more" or "I need to do more research".

I, of course, already have a theory for how I managed to believe something so untrue for so long. In a previous blog post, I've already talked about some studies which show the effect of telling a student that his achievement is the result of how "smart" they are.

However, let's stop that line of thinking right in the tracks. The point of this post isn't to hold a pity party for the students brought up in the early ninety's "high potential" classification craze.

To me, the far more important bit, is the realization I had seconds after my above realization; That it's still possible to learn new things when you're 30.

When I was young, I was in such a hurry to grow up. I always just assumed that by the time you hit 25, you stopped doing dumb things. That the days of looking back at who you were just a year before, and shaking your head in embarrassment were over. That by then surely all the obvious truths would have revealed themselves.

This realization brings on its tail the last and scariest new truth for the day. That it is likely, given my above definition of being "all grown up", that I simply never will.

Orphans of the Storm

This is just a note to say that a new "Dumb Story" has crawled out of my brain.

Support our troops, because some of them are fucking insane.

So here's a collection of links to videos of American soldiers taking delight in murdering and torturing animals:

I recommend watching them only if you don't believe me, or aren't angry enough already.

I'm not sure which I find scarier. That these soldiers were this disturbed to begin with, and then were given guns, or that these people used to be normal and war turned them into this.

In closing, here is a picture of a US Soldier gently stroking a cat which after watching the above, we can only hope he didn't kick seconds later...

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