Print Story The Black Calderon
Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 01:16:28 PM EST) Reading, Watching, Meetup, Politics, MLP (all tags)
San Francisco meetup? Reading: "Furies of Calderon", "What's Going On". Driving. Politics. Web.


San Francisco meetup
OK, the consensus seemed to be that Saturday 17th April was the best bet. Might do something separate on the Sunday. Suggestions for where and when please!

What I'm Reading
Furies of Calderon. First volume in the Codex Alera fantasy series by Jim Butcher. I like his Dresden Files series a lot, but haven't tried this one before.

It doesn't have so much of the comic touches of the Dresden Files, and is set in a traditional faux-medieval fantasy world. Does have a good concept and a carefully worked-out magic system. This world is populated by spirits called Furies, associated with the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and er, Metal and Wood. Ordinary people can control one or two weak spirits, but some control more or stronger spirits giving them greater power.

There's lots of action, and he cross-cuts various different storylines for variety. However, it's a bit weakened by a few Heroic Fantasy clichés: swords stuck through belts, someone who looks a lot like a Missing Heir, and characters who sit comfortably in the familiar stereotypes.

However, the Dresden Files books got better after a bit of a weak start, so I'll definitely keep reading.

What I'm Reading 2
What's Going On: The Meanderings of a Comic Mind in Confusion by leftist comedian Mark Steel. Autobiographical musings about the end of his marriage and the decline of his Socialist Workers Party.

Better than it sounds: he's witty and well-informed, and it's mostly a springboard for quite funny diatribes and discussions. doesn't turn it into one of those squirmingly hideous revenge-on-my-ex books. However, he does descend into self-pity a few times.

Doesn't come to any particularly astonishing political conclusions: he eventually seems to accept that single issue campaigns are a partial substitute for mass movements.

A decent read if you stumble across it.

Watching
Saw Shutter Island at the cinema Decent, atmospheric thriller. Could have been trimmed down, a bit too much exposition, but not bad. Had some nice claustrophobic and vertiginous photography. Even I didn't find it scary though.

Not sure about the plot. I was expecting a second twist, and when it didn't happen I was a bit 'oh, I suppose that's sort of satisfying'. While the actual ending is bleak for the hero, was a bit disappointed by the way it raised the prospect of truly horrifying things happening to lots of people, but then that not really happening.

See it if you like, don't kick yourself if you miss it.

Review.

Driving
Joined City Car Club and booked something called a Kia cee'd, for all Sunday. Has a manual gearbox so I can get some more practice in. Not sure where to go, weather forecast is for heavy rain. Might just pootle around the area, might try for Brighton or Windsor or Stonehenge, might just drive South until I get to the sea.

Don't like the name though: what was so wrong with car names like Fiesta or Cortina or Marina? How are you supposed to pronounce that apostrophe?

Politics/economics
So, the last pre-budget YouGov poll has a Tory lead of only 2%, down from about 20% last year. Again, probably an outlier, but the overall decline is clear.

I've been thinking about Kaletsky's argument that the Tories gambled too much on a long recession. I think actually they were extremely unlucky in the 6 quarter length of the recession.

Now an average recession lasts about 4 quarters. If this one had been 4 or 5, by now we would quite possibly be starting an inflationary period, which would have paid off the investment in "Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation" rhetoric. More importantly, we'd be in a good position to start paying off the debt: that policy would have been validated.

Alternatively, suppose the recession had lasted 7 quarters instead of 6. That would have meant it continued through Q4 2009, and since there's no Q1 2010 data out, we would have seemed to be still in recession now. Brown and Darling could not have claimed with any plausibility that they'd helped fix things.

But the 6-quarter recession, followed by weak and shallow recovery, created a Tory nightmare. It's too long for their plan to start repaying the debt to make sense, but just too short to totally discredit Labour.

However, their campaign doesn't seem to have handled the nightmare very well either. They've tried to fudge things: keeping on with the rhetoric of debt reduction, but backing away from specific promises to do it. That's left them looking confused and indecisive. The Brown-Mandelson truce has maintained Labour's highly effective campaign machine, and they've exploited that weakness remorselessly.

Web
Video. Cat harasses sleeping man all night. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story. Testemax. How to clean your camera lenses. Air ambulance in Cambridge Circus. Girl balances 15 books on her head while solving a Rubik's cube and reciting Pi to 100 digits.

Culture. Alleged Shakespeare collaboration. Georgian London night not that dark. David Mamet memo on writing drama.

Economics. Anti-sweatshop campaigns work? Rent capture through financial innovation. Should government spending be 70% of GDP for optimum happiness?

Pics. Gallery of Elephant and Castle housing estate.

Science. Health supplement visualization. Heater bees.

Politics. Cash Gordon kerfuffle timeline.

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The Black Calderon | 36 comments (36 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
saturday day by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 01:20:11 PM EST
how would you feel about being a mock juror in a trial?
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
Well by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 01:24:08 PM EST
I've only got a few days free in California, haven't been to the Americas since about 1994, so was hoping to do more fun stuff...
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
that's completely fair. :) by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #3 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 01:26:19 PM EST
there are some people who would find the experience to be lots of fun, which is why i asked. but if you'd rather do other stuff, have fun, and i'll try to make whatever part of the meetup is after dinner. :)
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
Shutter Island by duxup (4.00 / 1) #4 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 02:12:06 PM EST
I'd rather not see Leonardo DiCaprio in a movie ever again. I find him hard to believe as... any character. I don't know what it is about him but I just don't see his acting as anything beyond B movie level. It might be an unfair criticism as I can't put my finger on why I feel that way.

Also Martin Scorsese is irrelevant to me now.  I love his past films but more recently they're just shadows of his past work with a few tweaks of my nose reminding me what he once was able to do in films that are otherwise unremarkable. 


The "How to clean your camera lenses" link goes to the Shakespeare page.

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catch me if you can was pretty good, i thought by infinitera (4.00 / 2) #5 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 02:37:42 PM EST
But maybe acting the part of a con is easier.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
catch me if you can by duxup (4.00 / 2) #7 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 02:54:04 PM EST
Well yeah, I mean if you're a wonky actor playing a dude who lies a lot might seem like a good fit.  Is it bad acting or is that the character lying / acting?

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[ Parent ]
Yeah by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #6 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 02:40:58 PM EST
He's not terrible in it, but he doesn't really play tortured, haunted characters particularly well. Someone else might have done a better job.

Link should be fixed now.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
My lenses are clean now! by duxup (4.00 / 1) #8 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 02:54:25 PM EST
n/t

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[ Parent ]
Stonehenge by hulver (4.00 / 1) #9 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 02:54:39 PM EST
Go an argue with the "Druids".
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Cheese is not a hat. - clock
(Comment Deleted) by xth (4.00 / 1) #10 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 03:33:43 PM EST

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[ Parent ]
Yes by hulver (4.00 / 1) #11 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 03:46:57 PM EST
They're a bunch of hippie wasters, going off made up romantic ideals of how they think people used to worship. Taking as gospel something some guys who thought they knew everything made up, and not taking any notice of recent discoveries or theories.

They are a waste of space, and a danger to scientific discovery especially around stonehenge. Demanding the reburial of remains that they claim are druidic, but most likely have got about as much to do with what they think of druidism as a fig.

Most modern theories now point to Stonehenge being used at the Winter solstice, not during the summer. Bit cold for the hippies then though.

I don't much care if people want to mill around the stone during the summer, but they should stop trying to assert claims about how things at stonehenge should be handled. They have no more right to say what goes on there than anybody else.

Grr. Stupid Druids wind me up.
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Cheese is not a hat. - clock

[ Parent ]
I wonder if by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #13 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 03:50:08 PM EST
You could get a bunch of reenactors dressed as Roman Legionaries to march on them...
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
I'd pay to see that show by MartiniPhilosopher (4.00 / 2) #14 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 04:09:16 PM EST
n/t

Whenever I hear one of those aforementioned douche bags pontificate about how dangerous [...] videogames are I get a little stabby. --Wil Wheaton.

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by xth (4.00 / 1) #15 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 04:50:42 PM EST

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[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by xth (4.00 / 1) #16 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 04:51:47 PM EST

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[ Parent ]
They would scare anybody. by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #17 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 05:06:06 PM EST
Hippies need to be fought off by lobbing soap at them before hitting them with the water cannon.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
Please explain how many other religions by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #18 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 05:09:55 PM EST
are all that similar to how they were ~100CE. How many believers know just how much their church's teachings have since then?

Wumpus

No asking lm for help either!

[ Parent ]
I don't think many are by hulver (4.00 / 1) #19 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 05:28:12 PM EST
Judaism and Orthodox Christianity might be the most unchanged.

Drudism as it is now might contain some elements of Ancient Drudism, but that will be mostly by chance. What records there are of Ancient Druid rights (I use the term losely, as Druids didn't even really exist and they certainly didn't call themselves that) are written by the romans.

Modern Druidic beliefs come from the romantic ideas of the 17th C and later.
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Cheese is not a hat. - clock

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by xth (4.00 / 1) #21 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 06:03:49 PM EST

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[ Parent ]
My point was more to by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #22 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 07:53:03 PM EST
allow one to deconstruct the Druids for the amusement of a Christian (preferably Protestant or Roman Catholic, my understanding of the histories of other sects is limited). Followed by pointing out that the number of random similarities to any teachings of a historical Jesus is roughly equal to the accidental accuracies of the "modern druids".

Wumpus

I'm curious as to what type of demands they can get away with. In the US, you would need both a clear history of following said religion, and a history of said religion always abiding by such rules to flaunt that of other rules (useful when avoiding taxes, draft, anti-shroom legislation, etc.) The modern druids would either fail such tests or be guilty of murder and conspiracy to commit murder since human sacrifice was a part of druid graduation ceremonies.

[ Parent ]
depends on the demands by lm (4.00 / 1) #25 Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 06:59:19 AM EST
IIRC, most courts have held that all that is needed is for an individual to state adherence to a given religion, at least where it comes to infringing on individual rights. Of course, I'm not a lawyer and most of my knowledge of the law comes from reading headlines, so I may be quite off base on that.

It gets quite a bit fuzzier when the issue at hand is ancestral rights. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any court cases like that in the US over religion. Most US cases that deal with ancestry of that sort are issues relating to native tribes rather than religion per se.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Santeria sacrifices & blood transfusion by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #28 Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 10:08:45 AM EST
refusals. Probably could fit immunization & conscription refusals and peyote use under the religious adherence point too.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
peyote use by aphrael (4.00 / 2) #29 Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 12:47:08 PM EST
See Employment Division v. Smith, which held that there is no requirement that people be granted exemptions from generally applicable criminal laws. (The case dealt explicitly with peyote, which is why it comes to mind).

Congress tried to undo it with the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, but that only applies to federal laws; in City of Boerne v Flores, it was held not to apply to state or local laws.

If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
the issue with the santeria sacrifices by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #35 Mon Mar 29, 2010 at 10:30:06 AM EST
is that the dumbshit local government tried to ban just ritual killing of animals while leaving legal the killing of animals in animal fights.

that was religious discrimination on its face.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Eastern Orthodoxy by lm (2.00 / 0) #31 Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 02:49:12 PM EST
One of the major points of a lecture I attended this past Monday was that what people presume to be standard Orthodoxy may not have come into existence until the Ottomans finally captured Constantinople.

The supporting facts were the lecturer's exhaustive examination of liturgical books and accounts of individual piety throughout the span of the Byzantine empire.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Well by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #24 Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 01:18:19 AM EST
It's certainly possible that even if Druidism had survived up to the present day, it would have changed unrecognizably.

But most of the religions that have survived for millenia have religious texts that they can stick to. Hindus have the Vedas, the Mahabarata, the Ramayana. Jews have the Torah. Christians have the Bible. Muslims have the Koran. Taoists have the Tao Te Ching.

But Druids don't have any religious texts to stick to.

Other religions support some beliefs by saying that they have a continuous tradition where beliefs are passed down verbally from generation to generation. That may or may not be practical for such a long period, but even if it is, the Druids don't have an unbroken tradition.

While all the old, continuous religions have changed substantially, they do have certain beliefs and traditions that have stayed intact. For instance, Jews still don't eat pork, still observe Passover, though they've quit the animal sacrifices and don't have a Temple anymore. Many Christians still have a water ritual where they're symbolically reborn. Hindus still do puja and make pilgramages.

But modern Druidism is basically an invented religion. I don't see that as a bad thing, but if they believe and worship the same way as ancient Druids, it's mostly by coincidence.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Judaism is an interesting case by lm (4.00 / 1) #26 Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 07:09:35 AM EST
Arguably, it's changed more since it adopted a uniform text than before it had that text. I think there's a larger difference between second temple Judaism and even the most conservative contemporary form of Judaism than there was between primitive Judaism and second temple Judaism.

I suspect that this is likely to have more to do with every increasing interchanges with other cultures than with the preservation of texts.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by xth (2.00 / 0) #27 Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 09:05:58 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by xth



[ Parent ]
Well by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #30 Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 02:01:06 PM EST
I'm not sure you can judge entire religions that way. I think it's mostly down to whether an individual member of a religion is willing to live up to its ethical standards, or if he's going to look for ways around them.

Stoicism is going pretty well at the moment, thank Zeus.

Starting driving again is part of that of course. Should be a boost to arete if I can get comfortable with a manual gearbox again. Was a bit of a slide into slothfulness to lose the habit just because I don't need it in this particular place.

Been getting more politically involved as well, since it's important to take an active part in the guidance of the Polis.

I find I also order from Tesco online a lot less, since I don't get so bothered by the queues and annoyances of supermarkets anymore.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
i hope by garlic (2.00 / 0) #32 Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 03:02:39 PM EST
some of this is facetious.


[ Parent ]
The Hawai'ians know. by ammoniacal (4.00 / 1) #12 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 03:49:40 PM EST
They're good at that stuff.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

Crookedest Street! by dev trash (4.00 / 1) #20 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 06:01:26 PM EST
I suggest driving this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermont_Street,_San_Francisco

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Click

wait by MillMan (4.00 / 1) #23 Thu Mar 25, 2010 at 10:43:54 PM EST
that's 3 blocks from my house I didn't even know about it. Well, I know where I'm taking the motorcycle next.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

[ Parent ]
fail by R343L (4.00 / 1) #33 Fri Mar 26, 2010 at 08:20:41 PM EST
That's also where the Big Wheel race is held.

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
[ Parent ]
Metal and Wood are from the Chinese elements by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #34 Mon Mar 29, 2010 at 08:19:52 AM EST
The six are basically the union of the Greek and Chinese. You may already know this.

Iambic Web Certified

Aha! by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #36 Mon Mar 29, 2010 at 01:42:59 PM EST
I didn't know that.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
The Black Calderon | 36 comments (36 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback