Internet WTF, Khunmar, other updates

OK, whenever I ask people on the Internet, “What kind of blog entries do you like?” I always get people saying, “Write more about gaming and don’t write about politics.” However, when I look at my blogs statistics and see who looked at what and how often (and count comments), gaming is always dead last and my posts about the US election or Rush Limbaugh being a douche bag or the fact that I am irritated over some computer issue are first.  Maybe I just write crappy gaming posts… and when I talk about a ‘lot of page views,’ I’m talking an average of 100 views in 3-4 days or so (more views if I post during the week), so I’m not claiming to be creating ‘Grognardia’ levels of interest with my paltry 160 followers. Page views are relative to the obscurity of this tiny corner of the Internet.

I used to think that google+ made the difference, but out of deference to ‘gaming’ followers of the blog who said they didn’t want to read about my political views, I only post blog links to google+ when I am writing about games (and I limit that to my ‘gaming’ circle on google+), so at this point it seems that posting on google+ actually might get me less page views than not posting on google plus — how does that work?  If blogger gives a breakdown on who views a page via google+ versus some other source, I haven’t seen it. but other than occasionally looking at the search terms people use to get here (mostly because some of them are so damn weird), I haven’t delved too deeply into blogger statistics. And I don’t know if blogger differentiates between a ‘click through’ and someone spending an hour reading blog posts — I suspect to blogger, a click may be a click.

I’ve gotten a couple of emails asking about Khunmar. I’ll probably try to finish it after I finish Exquisite Corpses v2 (which will be released by LotFP.  That project is creeping along right now, due in part to me being really busy (yeah, I know I’m writing this blog, but my boss doesn’t mind if I use a little downtime here and there for writing on my blog) and also me being undermotivated and a bit of a loser when it comes to finishing things.  Sorry, internet.

Current conception is that Khumar will be released by ME as either a print-on-demand piece of shit or maybe I’ll print up a ‘collector’s edition’ where everyone who orders one gets 1 piece of orginal artwork chosen at random from the many 1/2 pagers I will be doing for Khunmar.  But that waits till after E.C.v2 is done.

Limbaugh blames feminists for small dicks

“My dick was HUGE till she wanted out of the kitchen!”

I am not making this shit up.  According to the internet, Rush was on his radio show, talking about penis size (?), and he brought up a study that was done in Italy that claimed to show that human penises had decreased in average size by about 10% over the last 50 years.  The Italian penis measuring people said this was a result of exposure to pollution (Which remind me: I gotta stop dipping my dong into that Rouge River water!).

“I don’t buy this,” Limbaugh said.  “I think it’s feminism. I think if it’s tied to the last fifty years, the average size of a member is ten percent smaller…it has to be the feminazis.” 

Makes perfect sense to me. Those dick hating Feminazis have probably been sneaking penis shrinking pills into our food… or doping the water supply with anti-viagra… or sprinkling or underpants with magic genital shrinking powder or something.  There really is no other logical explanation.

Working for two dollars a day

This is what lawful evil looks like.

The richest woman in the world, mining company owner Gina Rhinehart, recently stated that African workers who were willing to go to work for around two dollars a day should be considered an ‘inspiration.’  Rhinehart considers the africans ‘inspiring,’ perhaps, because they earn so little. I wonder what she thinks of the South African mineworkers who were ‘inspired’ to strike because their wages were too low and their workplaces too dangerous?

Rhinehart lives in Australia and owns a gigantic company that produces iron ore. She did not build this company; she inherited it. Her complaint is that normal Australians, with their expectations of a life beyond what you can get for 2 dollars a day, are destroying her industry’s ability to compete with Africans who earn 2 dollars a day or less.  Yes, she does seem to be serious.  She says that in order to get ahead, the poor could work harder and ‘drink and smoke less.’ I’d point out that if she wants to cut wages to two dollars a day, she will have to add ‘food, healthcare, a place to sleep and water’ to luxuries that Australian workers will have to do without in order to get by on 2 dollars a day. And who will buy the items made from the ore that her 2 dollar a day wage slaves will be producing?

I think rather than trying to change Australians, Rhinehart should move herself to somplace in the world where two dollars will buy you 8 hours worth of labor. She also looks a little too hefty for someone who feels she has the right to preach self restraint to those uppity Aussies who won’t settle for her gilded age level wages and give up ‘luxuries’ that make working in a mine more bearable like a can of beer or a smoke.

I hate your stupid newspaper web page!

Perhaps the editors at USA Today are funnier than I thought.

In order to have access to most of the things I need to have my job, I need to have a browser open 90% of the time so I can access sharepoint and some other resources. When I have a few minutes between tasks or I want to recharge my batteries, I might scan the headlines or check personal email.

Today I made the mistake of clicking on a link to a USA TODAY online page (it was actually kind of work related — it involved a company that the place I work for does business with).  Something went wrong. USA opened a story about some factory worker who had stabbed his coworker to death and then committed suicide. “Well, that’s not what I wanted,” I thought to myself as I closed the tab.  The browser suddenly froze and then the tab I had just closed popped up again. Assuming it was my mistake, I attempted to close it again.  Suddenly two or three copies of the same story were popping up as fast as I could click. At the point that nine or ten were open and USA was still trying to open more copies of the same story of the knife-man homicide, I finally force-quit.

USA Today really seemed to want me to read that story — to the point that they really don’t seem to want to give me a choice in the matter. I don’t know if it’s my crappy browser or what, but instances of persistant browser tabs that pop up again and again, or tabs that ask me, “Are you sure you want to leave and not read our web page?” when I try to close them seem to be happening more and more often. I know that people who make web pages like USA today are in the business of trying to get as many eyeballs on those pages for as long as possible, but something about their methods (which may or may not involve exploiting a weakness in internet sucksplorer) makes me less likely to want to visit their web page in the future much like a really obnoxious salesman might make me want to buy from anyone but him based on his obnoxious personality.

Home Moanership

Yesterday the section of water main under our yard exploded and water came gurgling up out of the ground.  You can see ‘old faithful’ there, under the DANGER orange stripey thing that the Water Department put over it in lieu of a repair.  To the right of it are the remains of our tomato patch.  We were told that the utility would soon bring in back hoes, ditch witches, trench wenches, dirt flirts and other earth moving gear and tear some shit up and the tomato garden was right in the way.  I tried removing the fencing and stakes carefully but is soon became apparent that the tomato plants were fucked… so I just tore it all out, apologizing to the plants as I did so.  We now have a big bucket of green tomatoes. Hopefully the deer and rabbits will eat what remains before the water company arrives and grinds.

Curiously enough, even though the water is geysering out of the ground, our water still works.  Go figure.  The one thing I am thankful for is that the break is clearly on the outside of my watermeter. I’d hate to be paying for those thousands of gallons of wasted water.

My neighbor explained how the repairs will progress since this happened in his front yard a few years before we moved in. “First they will shut off the water and tear up the ground and determine that the only part of the main that requires replacement is the part that broke.  They will replace that little bit and turn the water back on and, almost immeadiately, the rest of the pipe will disintigrate under the increased pressure.  They will then turn off the water again, tear up the rest of your yard and replace the rest of the pipe.” Sounds about right.

Luckily for us, we are slightly uphill from the neighbors and their front yard is now a muddy lake.

Update: The pipe is fixed and part of the yard looks like someone had a tractor pull in it.  The former tomato plot is 100% gone so I don’t have to feel bad about fucking up the plants. I guess the grass will go back, but I’m pretty uninterested in having a quality lawn. Really, it’s just a place for our dogs to take a piss.

Nostradamus Predicts (warning: political)

American Heroes: Captain America, Paul Revere and Tim from Accounting.

I recently told Annie (my significant other) that Obama was going to beat Romney in the upcoming election so we didn’t have to pay any more attention to the head-up-it’s-own-assery of politics and political reporting in 2012. I’m basing this prediction on the fact that the LA Times already called it for Obama (the LA Times is hardly a bastion of liberal ideology and I suspect it’s editorial board would probably prefer Romney, but they would also like to say “We told you so” on November 7th ). Plus I just don’t want to feel I need to pay any attention whatsoever to all the press releases from all of the political strategists who are out there telling us what it means when Mitt eats a corndog in Iowa or Barack shoots some hoops in Baltimore.

I don’t think the US election is really a choice between Romney and Obama; it’s more of a choice between the Democratic and the Republican parties. My own sentiments are that the Democrats are a slightly less bad choice than the Republicans for me and mine, but “I hate them slightly less than the Republicans” is about as enthusiastic as I can get for the Democrats. I also take solace in the fact that 4 more years of probable continuing political stalemate in Washington is bad, but what Mitt intends (assuming anything he has said resembles what he would do in office) would be worse for the middle and lower classes. I’m not a Marxist (unless you count being a fan of Groucho); I just think the idea that releiving billionaires and corporations of ‘burdensome’ taxes and regulations will not make the life of the people I feel loyalty towards any better, only worse.  We’ve tried it already for 12 years. If you are a member of the 1% and reading this makes you mad, well, go count your money, Scrooge McDuck.

Money issues aside, there is another reason I can’t see myself voting for a Republican, and that is the ‘culture’ issue. I think it’s fine if people want to go to their church or temple or mosque on Sunday and pray to Jesus or Vishnu or Allah or Santa Claus, but the way the party of Lincoln has lowered the bar by painting mainstream white christians as the ‘victims’ in a culture war that they started would be laughable if the gullible saps were not so eager to lap it up.  How somebody else being gay or building a mosque or not wanting to pay for a Christmas nativity scene at City Hall makes ‘christians’ victims in this fight was a genius political tactic a few years ago, but only the people who are too angry or stupid to think for themselves are still paying attention to that  schtick.  Even Dick Cheney came out in support of gay marriage after having rode to the Whitehouse 2x in a row on the “social conservative” ticket.  Way to live by your principles, Dick. Although I have to thank the ‘culture warriors’ for comic relief.  Just yesterday Rick Santorum said that social conservatives “will never have smart people on our side.”  Yeah, I know it’s not really what he meant to say, but judging by the angry word-salad that usually flies out of Santorum’s mouth, he seems to have spoken the truth by accident.

If the election were a really choice between Barack and Mitt (the men, not the parties), I’d still vote for Barack. Mitt tied his dog to the roof of his car, had his friends hold another kid down in high school so Mitt could cut his hair and ran a Financial Sausage shop that may have been perfectly legal but was still a predatory organization that destroyed companies and cost working people their jobs. And, call me old fashioned, but I think people without jobs tend to be bad for the economy. And, when he appears in public, Mitt is so stiff and Bryll-creamed that he makes the stumpin’ 2000 version of Al Gore seem warm and personable in contrast.  Barack, on the other hand, smoked pot in college, serves beer at the White House, sneaks an occasional cigarette and collects Conan the Barbarian comics — how could I not like the guy? Plus he’s finally copped to the idea that the government shouldn’t be in the business of regulating who you marry… better late than never.  If you are still not convinced, just look at their names.  ‘Barack’ is Hebrew for thunderbolt; that’s a kick ass name. ‘Mitt’ is what I use to take a hot caserole out of the oven. Would you rather vote for SHAZAM or a potholder?

Of course, I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am.  If you think I am, bookmark this post and come back in November to gloat.

Notes from the Recovery

This is not a literal depiction of my problem.

Those following along at home will know that a short while ago I suffered a catastrophic hard drive crash.  Initially I thought this was no big deal since I had a back-up system in place, but for reasons I cannot understand, my backup has not backed up for several years (even though I would have sworn that it was telling me that it was — however, I cannot confirm this since the computer that it was supposed to be backing up won’t boot at all).

The failure was (I think) not hardware but system related.  My Windows XP seems to have lost it’s mind.  I’ve been using different data recovery utilities (Recuva and Data Rescue)— so far I have managed to retrieve about 1/2 of my TIFFs (my favorite format for keeping scans of original art), a huge number of jpegs and what looks like most of my music.  Thus far it looks like huge numbers of photos (as opposed to scans of drawings) are gone. Some of the photos I had backed up elsewhere can be restored; others cannot.  There are still archives of recovered files to search through, so I can’t tell if I’m going to get back all or more of what I had or not. And, since my filing system is gone, I’m relying on human memory to tell what’s missing — and my memory is crap since I keep finding scans of things that I had forgotten about.  And I haven’t really started on the text, docs and pdfs, so there is still a lot to do.

My plan is to recover as much as I can and then take the disk to somone else for an estimate on what it would cost to restore it as much as possible — if I can afford it, I’ll go for it.  I think its a good idea to recover what I can first in case the professional recovery effort does more damage than good. Hopefully, the ‘professionals’ can do a better job than I can and get the folders, etc., all back.  Right now, the ‘recovered’ files are stored in folders which bear little or no resemblance to my filing system and knowing where to look for a particular image was half the value of my computer image archive.

In the meanwhile, any solid reccomendations on a back-up utility?  I had been using Windows XP back-up, but either it let me down or I didn’t have it set up right.  My new computer is Windows 7 and I have a new 3TB external I plan to use for a ‘recovery’ drive and my first priority is backing up my data. I’m a non-techie, so simple words and short sentences appreciated.

All in a day’s work

I work most of the week as a ‘business analyst’ which is a fancy way of saying that I do a lot of different things while sitting at a desk. I research new vendors/suppliers, place and track orders with existing vendors, confirm that invoices for equipment or services that have been received can be paid, etc., plus anything else that needs doing, including writing process, procedure and policy documents.  Some of it is boring and most of it is mundane, but the people are great… and a good relationship with my fellow employees means a lot to me.

“I searched for ‘Pussy Riot’ and this was what I got.”

Every week I get a ‘web use report’ emailed automatically from some bit of software in our network that I think is supposed to keep people from surfing the face-tubes or the you-books all day long. This shows me, with colorful pie-graphs, which users are downloading viruses or pornography or making hacking related searches or violence related searches.  Unfortunately, the software is usually quite tone-deaf — recently it exploded because nearly half of the people on the network viewed something related to ‘PUSSY RIOT.’  I suppose pornography buffs would have been disappointed when the ‘Pussy Riot’ search returned pictures of three fully dressed women sitting in a fish tank enclosure in a Russian court room.  I also get alerts for ‘hacking related’ search terms whenever one of the engineers that work here read something online about ‘Cracking.’ Unfortunately, the software doesn’t know the difference between ‘how to go about cracking a password’ and ‘Lab studies of stress cracking in polycarbonate widgets.’ Plus there are other funny ones, like when it flagged someone’s search for ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.’  Apparently, ‘teen’ and ‘teenage’ search terms are always flagged because pornographers like those key words — go figure. Usually, the searches that people at my workplace do are disappointingly mundane.  I guess I’m supposed to just make sure no one is doing searches like, “How to build a pipe bomb” or “What gun is best for going on a shooting spree?” and watch out for obvious and outrageous policy violations.  

In other job news, there may soon be an opening in the Maryland Legislature for a Republican delegate, so if you are between positions and live in Maryland, consider sending in your resume.  Delegate Don Dwyer was piloting a motorboat while shitfaced drunk and crashed his boat into another boat, injuring a total of 6 people (including himself). His re-election was considered a slam dunk up until he went sailing with ‘Capn’ Morgan.’ Dwyer is famous for being a vocal opponent to same sex marriage, because, in the delegate’s opinion, it “hurts children.” Ironically, several of the injured in the boat that the drunken Dwyer crashed into were children, so I would have to point out that it looks to me as if drunken state delegates piloting speed boats are probably more of a danger to the health of children than gay people getting married. 

Mob Rule

I was reading J.R. IV’s post, “In Case Anyone is Unclear,” over on his blog this morning. I wanted to comment there, but comments are disabled, so I’ll do it here.  

On the subject of ‘shit about to hit the fan’ over the easily offended  sensibilities of others, Raggi writes, “The presentation of something in a fictional space, no matter how it is presented, is not an endorsement of that thing in real life. Enjoying something in fiction (or enjoying fiction that contains something) does not mean that a person would enjoy that same thing in real life.”
I don’t know what ‘shit storms’ James is talking about (perhaps something on Google+ ?*), but I believe that reading (or writing) a book like Lolita does not make you a pedophile any more than singing the words of ‘The National Anthem’ makes you a patriot. 
Singing the national anthem might make other people THINK you must be a patriot, but people can (and do) say “I love my job/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/god/etc.” all the time without meaning it, so I don’t know why words alone fool anyone.  But public displays of ‘piety’ or ‘patriotism’ or ‘right thinking’ seem very important to people with self-promoting agendas… a fact I try to keep in mind whenever another lynch mob gathers to ‘punish’ someone for writing a book, drawing a picture or singing a song that others might find offensive. Behind every ‘obscenity’ trial one can eventually find a politician, district attorney, sheriff or public figure wannabe pandering to his/her base by throwing them the red meat of a crusade against perverts or the gays or the communists or whatever.  Behind every moral crusade one can probably find someone’s social ambition to be ‘king of the hill**” as well as a mob of followers who just enjoy reinforcing the peck order.  Fuck them all for intellectual and imaginative cowardice.
I probably shouldn’t be surprised that so many people who describe themselves as ‘gamers’ or ‘fantasy fans’ or claim to be interested in ‘games of the imagination’ have such a problem keeping fantasy and reality straight — look at the Carcosa flap and similar — but the more cynical part of my mind wonders if many of these folks just have an agenda of some sort or want to amuse themselves by stirring up shit and enjoying the hot flush of outrage that “someone else would write/draw/sing/etc. something like that!”  You would think after Paula Pulling and Bothered About D&D, the people who actually play (or played) D&D and knew how full of shit her claims were would be a little more wary of the ‘moral crusade.’  But riding the high horse in the moral crusade of the moment (or being a part of the angry mob) is too much fun for most people to give up, so I don’t expect the situation to change.
*I have a google+ account but haven’t taken the time to figure out how or why to use it.
**In the case of The OSR (or whatever it is being called today), the “hill” these people want to be king of is a particularly obscure bit of real estate, but sometimes the smaller the spoils, the more bitterly they fight for it.  Go figure.

Updates from the normal life (warning: boring)

Not my actual workplace. The plant is a nice touch.

Yesterday (or the day before?) I posted, “Too busy to post right now.” Which is completely stupid… since I obviously had enough time to log into blogger and post that I was too busy to post.

I started a new job last Wednesday.  This has caused brain overload and time management issues.  The job requires about an hour’s commute each direction and is in an office, so I have to look nice and be nice.  I am currently trying to help rewrite user policies for cellphone/wireless devices that the employees/contractors of a manufacturer use in the course of their work.  In these documents, we need to tell them things that most people should know (like “Don’t use your device to %^&$ up the company, don’t text while driving, don’t use pay-for-use services if you don’t have to, yes, you can use the cellphone to call your family, but remember that it isn’t really YOUR cellphone and the company will bill you for non-work related charges,” etc.). I have to write these things but make them sound nice and not snotty. Most of it seems to be what most of us would describe as ‘common sense stuff,’ but if my past experience is an indicator, there is always someone in every workplace who will take the fact that there is no rule specifically prohibiting a really bad behavior as an invitation to engage in it.  So, yeah, there will always be someone who will explain to HR, “I ate my co-worker because there was no policy in my employee handbook telling me that cannibalism was not permitted…”

The job provides a much needed cash infusion but interferes with things that are important to me, like sleeping late or being slovenly.