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January 30, 2016

Recap 71

The Abyss


By min | January 30, 2016, 12:12 AM | D&D| Link



January 29, 2016

Skinship

Min and i enjoyed playing the Fire Emblem tactical role playing games that came out for the Gamecube and Wii. Since then, they've only made Fire Emblem games for hand held devices, which seems to be the fate of TRPG games generally, which is disappointing. But every once in a while i do a quick Google search to see if any new such games are coming out for a console, and that's how i found this.

I don't really have an opinion about the controversy of Nintendo cutting the "skinship" scenes from the American release, but that's not the sort of thing that we play the games for. It actually seems like a tedious kind of thing to have to do between battles.


By fnord12 | January 29, 2016, 2:31 PM | Video Games | Comments (1) | Link



January 28, 2016

Lane and the Giant Suitcase

Gilmore Girls' Lane and the Giant Suitcase

By fnord12 | January 28, 2016, 9:25 AM | TeeVee| Link



January 26, 2016

Denmark's an Asshole

And Switzerland and Germay, too, apparently.

Ugh. Link

Following similar moves in Switzerland and southern Germany, Denmark's parliament voted on Tuesday to allow police to search asylum seekers on arrival in the country and confiscate any non-essential items worth more than 10,000 Danish kroner (about £1,000) that have no sentimental value to their owner.

The bill presented by the centre-right minority government of the prime minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, was approved after almost four hours of debate by 81 of the 109 lawmakers present, as members of the opposition Social Democrats and two small rightwing parties backed the measures.

...

The Danish government says the procedure is to cover the cost of each asylum seeker's treatment by the state, and mimics treatment of Danish citizens on welfare benefits.

Social Democrat Dan Jørgensen addressed opponents of the bill, demanding: "To those saying what we are doing is wrong, my question is: What is your alternative?

"The alternative is that we continue to be [one of] the most attractive countries in Europe to come to, and then we end up like Sweden."

I don't know what the solution is, but i can't see how searching refugees and confiscating their valuables can be the answer you ended up with. What the hell is wrong with you, Denmark? You're going to shake them down while they're asking you to give them a safe haven? Oh, and nice dig at Sweden, too.

But opponents of the law argue that while refugees can in general still expect to be treated humanely in Denmark, the new legislation is ethically unsound. Pernille Skipper, an MP and legal affairs spokesperson for Enhedslisten, a leftwing Danish party, said: "Morally it is a horrible way to treat people fleeing mass crimes, war, rapes. They are fleeing from war and how do we treat them? We take their jewellery."

Classy.


By min | January 26, 2016, 2:19 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (7) | Link



January 25, 2016

OhMyGodOhMyGod

OH MY GOD!!!!!


LOOK AT THE LITTLE HELLO KITTY CO-PILOT!

And there's a video that explains why there's a Hello Kitty/Mecha mash-up!!!!


h/t Angry Asian Man

By min | January 25, 2016, 3:29 PM | Cute Things| Link



What Have You Got Against Sleep?

Fnord12 is an insomniac, so i am familiar with the vicious circle of not being able to fall asleep and then being stressed about not being able to fall asleep which leads to really not being able to fall asleep. I understand the desperation an insomniac might feel to try anything at all to get some sleep. But this 2 hours/day thing is just crazy.

Marie Staver couldn't sleep. Always plagued by insomnia and other sleep disorders, in college she was struggling to get enough rest to keep up with her heavy workload. So in 1998 she made a drastic decision: she would stop trying. Instead of lying in bed all night, she would get her rest in catnaps evenly spaced throughout the day. Out of every 24 hours, she would sleep for only two.

Staver began the radical experiment with a friend, Psuke, and soon the pair felt superhuman. They named their schedule "Uberman" in honor of Nietzsche's Übermensch idea, because they were both philosophy majors--but also because they were accomplishing so much in a day that they were freaking people out. Their schoolwork was done, their dorms were clean, they held down jobs, they made appearances at social events.

...

They coordinated their schedules to make it easier, Staver says. They would wake each other up at 4 in the morning and drive to the all-night Denny's to study. Before their morning classes they'd take a nap. At lunch they'd meet up for another nap. So it went, napping for 20 minutes every four hours around the clock--for more than six months.

Adjusting to the Uberman schedule takes about two weeks of hell, Staver says. Writing in 2006, she called the adjustment period an "absolute unholy monstrous biyotch." But eventually the fog cleared for the college students. What remained was, according to Staver, "miraculous."

"It was the most amazing thing I had ever discovered and I felt the best I've ever felt in my life," Staver says today. Her sleep disorders seemed to be gone. She wasn't tired anymore. And although she had only intended to fix her sleep, not shorten it, she found herself with an incredible 22 hours every day to spend how she liked.

...

No one gets there easily, though. The Polyphasic Society's website warns of side effects people may experience while they're adapting. There's "metabolic panic," meaning either constant hunger or a total loss of appetite. There may be chills, moodiness, constipation, and eye strain from keeping your eyes open all the time. The ominous-sounding "zombie mode" is also a concern.

No shit. I'm all for not forcing yourself to sleep if your body just won't do it and then taking naps to make up for that, but only taking 20 minute naps for a total of 2 hours/day? No way. Your brain seems to use the downtime when you're asleep to flush out toxins, so i think getting that 7-8 hours/day is pretty important.

Washington State University psychologist Hans Van Dongen, who studies the effects of sleep loss on the mind, agrees. In a 2008 paper, he and coauthors studied a variety of split-sleep schedules. Subjects spent 10 days on some combination of a nighttime sleep and daytime nap adding up to between four and eight hours, while researchers gave them frequent cognitive tests.

They found that sleep-deprived subjects did worse and worse as the days went on. But the results were similar however their sleep was broken up. In other words, Van Dongen says, "an hour is an hour is an hour."

In other studies, he's found that there are individual differences in how much sleep people need, and how they respond to sleep deprivation. It's true that some of us just don't need as much shuteye. But that variance only goes down to about six hours a night, Van Dongen says. Below six hours, "virtually everybody starts to see significant decrements."

One thing that happens when your brain is starved of sleep is it begins to blink in and out of attention. Maybe you lose your train of thought mid-sentence, or suddenly realize you've missed your exit on the highway. There's another interesting phenomenon in the very sleep-deprived brain, Van Dongen says: it stops feeling tired.

Yup. When you don't listen to your body, it eventually gives up and stops telling you when something's wrong. It thinks you're a jerk, and until you apologize, it wants nothing to do with you.

Ofc, i am firmly on the pro-sleep side, in general. I think we should hibernate in the winter. I have naps scheduled into my weekly routine and that's on top of my regular 7-8 hours/night. So, yeah, mebbe i'm biased. But sleep is delicious and everybody should do it.

Also don't need no crazy sleep schedule to know when i'm dreaming.

Other possible benefits of polysleeping, according to the Polyphasic Society, include improved decision making and lucid dreaming (the awareness that you're in a dream).

Pshaw. I know when i'm dreaming, i can replay parts of my dreams like a video, i can rewrite scenes if i don't like how they turned out, and i can "direct" the "camera" so it pans around as a scene unfolds (hated Inception and their portrayal of dreaming), so :P.


By min | January 25, 2016, 11:50 AM | Science| Link



January 21, 2016

Iron Maiden/Monkees Mashup


By min | January 21, 2016, 9:00 PM | Music | Comments (1) | Link



Muscular Dystrophy Patient Self-Diagnoses Own Disorders

This was a really interesting read. This woman had to spend hours and hours going through medical journals to find a reason for her health problems because doctors just sort of threw up their hands and said, at best, "I don't know", and at worst, "It's in your mind". And through this, she helped extend her father's life and discovered an Olympic athlete had the same mutation.

She was the muscular dystrophy patient, and she had an elaborate theory linking the gene mutation that made her muscles wither to an Olympic sprinter named Priscilla Lopes-Schliep. She offered to send me more info if I was interested. Sure, I told her, send more.

A few days later, I got a package from Jill, and it was... how to put it?... quite a bit more elaborate than I had anticipated. It included a stack of family photos -- the originals, not copies; a detailed medical history; scientific papers, and a 19-page, illustrated and bound packet. I flipped through the packet, and at first it seemed a little strange. Not ransom-note strange, but there were hand-drawn diagrams with cutouts of little cartoon weightlifters representing protein molecules. Jill had clearly put a lot of effort into this, so I felt like I had to at least read it. Within a few minutes, I was astounded. This woman knew some serious science. She off-handedly noted that certain hormones, like insulin, were too large to enter our cells directly; she referred to gene mutations by their specific DNA addresses, the way a scientist would.

And then I came to page 14.

There were two photos, side-by-side. One was of Jill, in a royal blue bikini, sitting at the beach. Her torso looks completely normal. But her arms are spindles. They almost couldn't be skinnier, like the sticks jabbed into a snowman for arms. And her legs are so thin that her knee joint is as wide as her thigh. Those legs can't possibly hold her, I thought.

The other picture was of Priscilla Lopes-Schliep. Priscilla is one of the best sprinters in Canadian history. At the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, she won the bronze medal in the 100-meter hurdles. It was the first Canadian Olympic medal in track and field since 1996. In 2010, Priscilla was the best 100-meter hurdler in the world.

The photo of her beside Jill is remarkable. Priscilla is in mid-stride. It's difficult to describe just how muscular she looks. She's like the vision of a superhero that a third-grader might draw. Oblong muscles are bursting from her thighs. Ropey veins snake along her biceps.

This is the woman Jill thought she shared a mutant gene with? I think I laughed looking at the pictures side-by-side. Somehow, from looking at pictures of Priscilla on the internet, Jill saw something that she recognized in her own, much-smaller body, and decided Priscilla shares her rare gene mutation. And since Priscilla doesn't have muscular dystrophy, her body must have found some way "to go around it," as Jill put it, and make enormous muscles.

If she was right, Jill thought, maybe scientists could study both of them and figure out how to help people with muscles like Jill have muscles a little more toward the Priscilla end of the human physique spectrum. Jill was sharing all this with me because she wasn't sure how best to contact Priscilla, and hoped I would facilitate an introduction.

I don't have any serious health issues and i've totally given up on doctors. I can't imagine how much more frustrating it was for Jill Viles. She had to research her own goddamned illness. And then when she tried to show doctors her research, they just poo-pooed her. I get that there are plenty of hypochondriacs out there who have no clue what they're talking about, but c'mon. It's not that hard to tell the difference.

I'm only going to a doctor if something happens and i can't stop the bleeding.


By min | January 21, 2016, 2:48 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link



We're Entering Stage 6!

A little Morning Glenn Greenwald for you.

For those who observed the unfolding of the British reaction to Corbyn's victory, it's been fascinating to watch the DC/Democratic establishment's reaction to Sanders' emergence replicate that, reading from the same script. I personally think Clinton's nomination is extremely likely, but evidence of a growing Sanders movement is unmistakable. Because of the broader trends driving it, this is clearly unsettling to establishment Democrats - as it should be.
...
Just as was true for Corbyn, there is a direct correlation between the strength of Sanders and the intensity of the bitter and ugly attacks unleashed at him by the DC and Democratic political and media establishment. There were, roughly speaking, seven stages to this establishment revolt in the UK against Corbyn, and the U.S. reaction to Sanders is closely following the same script:
STAGE 1: Polite condescension toward what is perceived to be harmless (We think it's really wonderful that your views are being aired).

STAGE 2: Light, casual mockery as the self-belief among supporters grows (No, dears, a left-wing extremist will not win, but it's nice to see you excited).

STAGE 3: Self-pity and angry etiquette lectures directed at supporters upon realization that they are not performing their duty of meek surrender, flavored with heavy doses of concern trolling (nobody but nobody is as rude and gauche online to journalists as these crusaders, and it's unfortunately hurting their candidate's cause!).


Corbyn urged to curb online abuse by supporters as MPs are sent sickening tweets https://t.co/GYdg7D2USG pic.twitter.com/ZX6JVNnAjp

-- Sun Politics (@SunPolitics) December 3, 2015

I've written about every candidate this cycle & without fail Sanders supporters are the most consistently abusive & rude ...

-- Michael Cohen (@speechboy71) January 19, 2016


STAGE 4: Smear the candidate and his supporters with innuendos of sexism and racism by falsely claiming only white men support them (you like this candidate because he's white and male like you, not because of ideology or policy or contempt for the party establishment's corporatist, pro-war approach).

STAGE 5: Brazen invocation of right-wing attacks to marginalize and demonize, as polls prove the candidate is a credible threat (he's weak on terrorism, will surrender to ISIS, has crazy associations, and is a clone of Mao and Stalin).

STAGE 6: Issuance of grave and hysterical warnings about the pending apocalypse if the establishment candidate is rejected, as the possibility of losing becomes imminent (you are destined for decades, perhaps even generations, of powerlessness if you disobey our decrees about who to select).

STAGE 7: Full-scale and unrestrained meltdown, panic, lashing-out, threats, recriminations, self-important foot-stomping, overt union with the Right, complete fury (I can no longer in good conscience support this party of misfits, terrorist-lovers, communists, and heathens).


I read this and thought to myself "OOH! We need to start watching Prime Minister's Questions again!".


By min | January 21, 2016, 8:44 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link



January 19, 2016

Bugs in Your House

Look, this is something we all know, but try not to think about. Nobody wants a study that proves our homes are full of insects and "noninsect hexapods". *shudder*

In a study sure to make insectphobes tremble a team of scientists visited 50 houses in the Raleigh, N.C., area and documented nearly 600 species of bugs.
...
Because they did not check behind walls, in drawers or under heavy furniture--and also did not identify every bug to the species level, something that's exceptionally difficult to do with insects--the researchers believe their total of 579 species is likely a significant undercount.

Link


By min | January 19, 2016, 1:19 PM | Science | Comments (2) | Link



Mebbe the Overlords Will Come and "Save" Us

Fucking Overlords.

The human race faces one its most dangerous centuries yet as progress in science and technology becomes an ever greater threat to our existence, Stephen Hawking warns.
...
Speaking to the Radio Times ahead of the BBC Reith Lecture, in which he will explain the science of black holes, Hawking said most of the threats humans now face come from advances in science and technology, such as nuclear weapons and genetically engineered viruses.

Link

Here's an interesting bit of history:

Black holes form when stars run out of nuclear fuel and collapse under their own gravity. Previously called "frozen stars", they became widely known as "black holes" when the phrase was coined in 1967 by the physicist John Wheeler. For some time, the French resisted the change of name on the grounds that it was obscene, but later fell into line, Hawking said.

Who knew French scientists had such delicate sensibilities?


By min | January 19, 2016, 8:29 AM | Science| Link



January 15, 2016

ROM "returns"

I missed this when it was first announced but then saw it mentioned in the sales article below. IDW has acquired the rights to ROM, and it'll be co-written by Christos Gage. I guess ROM split off from the Marvel Universe during Secret Wars. ;-)

The best thing about the old ROM series was his interaction with the rest of the Marvel universe, so i don't know that i'll get this, but i think it's interesting news.


By fnord12 | January 15, 2016, 12:51 PM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link



January 14, 2016

Marvel Sales

November.


By fnord12 | January 14, 2016, 1:39 PM | Comics| Link



January 11, 2016

They

The American Dialect Society and the Washington Post are following Kevin Drum (and me) in using "they" as a gender neutral first third person singular pronoun.


By fnord12 | January 11, 2016, 12:42 PM | Master of Style | Comments (2) | Link



January 10, 2016

Red Horde

When i had the red paint out for my Christmas horde, i also used it to base coat the next batch (and my last batch for the season before i get back to my comic project). Since, as i've mentioned, i've already painted most of the really cool miniatures, i instead picked out some of the more silly or useless ones, with the added criteria that they (mostly) had to look good in red.

Here's a prostitute (!) and a generic magic user. The magic user is fine, although i did de-nudify her boob window.

For the prostitute, i rolled for her on the 1st Edition DM book chart...

...and it turns out that she's a wanton wench.

Next up, two more ridiculous figures. I don't know what the one on the left is doing or wearing, but i figured i might as well go all out and paint that giant bow pink. The one on the right is i suppose ok as a witch, although i think based on her broom she's supposed to be something a little more steampunk than fits in my D&D campaign setting.

This guy is pretty boss with his open fur-trimmed jacket.

Some call this enchanter... Tim?


By fnord12 | January 10, 2016, 6:25 PM | D&D | Comments (1) | Link



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