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goobster  ·  26 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Hey Hubski, tell me a story about your dad  ·  


For those who have seen the movie Ford vs Ferrari that came out recently, my Dad is kinda involved in that.

The race in Southern California early in the movie, where Ken Miles is initially disqualified because his trunk is too small? And he takes a hammer to the inside of the trunk to stretch it out and meet the rulebook?

Carroll Shelby was in a race the same day, driving a 7-liter Maserati.

My dad was also racing his Corvette there the same day (not a photo of my dad):

The thing is that there were only 5 "modified" class vehicles like the Maserati at the track that day - not enough to have a full race of their own - so the track decided to add the 5 Modifieds to the Stock class that my Dad was in.

Now, there's no way a stock race car can compete with a modified-class car. For example, the Modifieds all arrive on a trailer and are not street-legal. The stock-class cars have to be street legal, like my Dad's Corvette; he drove his car to the race that day.

So the Track Officials told everyone that this was going to be like LeMans, where several different class of cars are racing at the same time, but there are actually different races going on... the Modifieds will have a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place according to their finishes, and the Stock-cars will have their own 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place trophies, regardless of where the Modifieds finish.

BY NO MEANS were the Stock cars to try to compete with the Modified class cars! It was dangerous and pointless, so the Stockers should look for the Modifieds coming up in their rear view mirror, and let them pass. DON'T TRY AND RACE THE MODIFIEDS.

At the second corner, Carroll Shelby was in first place with his Maserati, and my Dad was in 2nd place in his Corvette. Over the next two laps the two of them pulled away from the rest of the field, and were on their own.

The 7-liter Maserati was a MONSTER powerhouse, of course, and could do a billion miles an hour on the straights. But a 7-liter engine is HEAVY, and it was slow through the corners.

On the other hand, my Dad's Corvette was nimble and quick (the first production car with a fiberglass body, IIRC), and able to get through the corners fast, but did not have the top speed of the Maserati.

Willow Springs Race Track has two long straight-ish sections, and some nice tight corners:

So Shelby would come out of Turn 9 and push the throttle to Mach 10 as he came to the Start/Finish line, then have to brake hard into Turn 1, where my Dad would catch up and stay ahead into Turn 6.

Then the fire-breathing 7-liter Maserati would blow by my Dad up to Turn 7, feather it a bit to get through Turn 8, brake hard for Turn 9, and turn on the rockets again approaching the Start/Finish line.

Throughout the 20-plus laps of the race, the two diced back and forth like this.

But my Dad noticed that Shelby had to feather the throttle a bit and scrub off some speed to get through Turn 8. My Dad figured that if he could get through 5 and 6 quicker, he could stay closer to Shelby on 7, pass him in 8, stay ahead through 9 as Shelby had to brake hard, and possibly stretch it out enough to beat Shelby to the Start/Finish line.

Now, remember, they are two different class vehicles in completely different races, that just happen to be running at the same time on the same track. The two of them COULD HAVE just driven normally and both taken 1st Place in each of their races.

But NOOOOOOOoOooOooOoOOoooo... these guys are RACERS.

So they are 2 laps from the end of the race.

Dad makes his move.

HARD out of Turn 4.

Don't let off through Turn 5.

Shelby isn't even in his rear view mirror, as my dad comes in HOT to Turn 6...

... and runs wide, and clips the outside rail with his left front fender. No biggie. A little broken fiberglass. No structural damage.

And he guns for Turns 7 and 8...

... and it WORKS.

Carroll Shelby can't get past my Dad before Turn 9. My Dad is in the lead, carrying more speed into the corner, and comes out at full throttle ahead of Shelby on the front straight for the first time.

He crosses the Start/Finish line ahead of Carroll Shelby and passes the white flag (last lap indicator) first!!


As my dad passes the Start/Finish line he notices the flagger is waving TWO flags at my Dad... the white flag, indicating the last lap, and a rolled black flag, too!

He thinks: Black flag: eliminated from race! But wait... it was ROLLED... that means something... SHIT... what does that mean? Do I have to stop? Do I continue racing?!? WHAT DO I DO?!?"

He's still ahead of Shelby and coming up to the corners where he needs to commit to his previous stunt to stay ahead of Shelby, and cross the Start/Finish in first place overall.....

But that rolled black flag! What does it mean!??

He flutters the throttle going into 5, doesn't carry the speed he needs to stay ahead between Turns 6 and 7... and the Maserati blows by him.

Shelby throws my dad a puzzled look as he passes. Carroll knows my dad beat him, and has slowed down, and is wondering why...

Shelby crosses the finish line first taking 1st overall, my dad crosses just behind him taking 1st in the Stock ("Production") class.

They see each other in the pits later. Shelby nods. My dad nods. They go their separate ways.

(Footnote: A rolled black flag means that there is damage to your vehicle that is being reviewed by race officials, and you may have to leave the track... but they haven't decided yet. So KEEP RACING. When my Dad clipped the wall and damaged the fender, race officials were concerned that his tire/wheel might have been damaged, and were waiting for him to come around past them again on the track so they could see the damage and make a determination of whether it was just cosmetic damage, or if he needed to be Black Flagged and pulled out of the race immediately. They determined his vehicle was safe to continue racing; he didn't need to slow or stop.)

cgod  ·  34 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: January 22, 2020  ·  x 2

A few years ago another coffee shop moved in three blocks from my shop. It pissed me off because I knew the numbers and we were going to be eating each others dinner to the extent that I was pretty sure that they wouldn't make it but that they would hurt my bottom line pretty bad.

It was a nice couple who opened it, they had a background in dance performance and were pretty thin on service industry experience. They had a nut roasting company in back of the shop and decided they would open a retail location for their nuts and open a cafe to help make the whole thing balance out. They had a nice big nut display. Their coffee was decent and they had FOOD! They had stuff like quiche and egg sandwiches and shit like that. Another thing they had that didn't were walls painted in mocha and espresso shades with a natural edged counter all cut from the same tree. I know many people thought I was doomed, it was a very nice counter. Friends said that I should start doing food to stay competitive (I just have bagels and pastry).

I think it wasn't long before they nice couple realized that nuts weren't a destination shopping attraction, the nut display dwindled to a few shelves but they reportedly sell a lot of nuts online and to fancy shops. They double downed on the food and became more ambitious. You could get a motherfucking breakfast there with potatoes eggs and toast on the weekend. Food margins are way shittier than coffee margins and it entails a whole bunch of work and forethought to keep the machine running. The two of them couldn't man the shop and keep the nuts flowing alone so they got employees.

I know my numbers and and could pretty well judge their costs in relation to how busy they were and what their prices were. They were right about FOOD bringing em in. They were a bit busier than I was but all that labor and the worsening margins meant that the return on the work wan't panning out. I knew baristas who worked for them and they said it was a shitty unhappy place to work. I'd go in for a cup of coffee and not see the owners working or see the owners and note their strained smiles and weary eyes.

On a sidebar, why don't I have FOOD! Food has shitty margins when you have to add an employee to give any kind of decent service. If I had food I'd have to work significantly harder to eek out a relatively small amount of extra profit. I also know that the thousandth time I scrapped cheese off a plate I'd go down to the basement and hang myself from the rafters. I suppose it mostly comes down to the fact that there is a value to happiness that a small increase in marginal profit and brow sweat can't make up for.

So, I kept my head down, donated to local causes and kept getting to know the people in my neighborhood better. Most importantly I made better coffee than the other guys, all I cared about was coffee and relationships. The other shop changed their hours about ten times in a year and a half trying to find the magic hours to bring in the most money and keep labor and work to a minimum. In the end they opened later than I did and closed earlier. I loved it.

One day the other shops roaster came in to pitch me on his wares.

He walked in, saw who I carried and said "Oh, you are carrying Courier!."

He had half a dozen bags of coffee in his arms.

"You aren't going to be interested in switching roasters, Joel is the guy that inspired me to go into coffee, he's a great guy and his coffee is amazing." He gave me a few single orgins and told me to look him up if Courier ever went out of business.

I kept my head down for a year and a half and waited for them to go out of business which they finally did. They said they had to quit for personal reasons, which may to some extent be true but when you aren't making any money or having any fun personal reasons are nagging.

They immediately sold the business to another nice couple. This couple also had a background in performance and little food experience. They really went all in at the FOOD! They tried it all and were good at very little of it. I had one of their bland $7 quiches and wondered that anyone would buy such a thing twice. One of my friends got and egg sandwich and tossed it out declaring that it tasted oddly of fish and tossed it in the garbage. This couple slowly worked their own shop less and less relying on expensive employees to cover more and more shifts.

Their employees were mostly unhappy and gave shitty service. I work my shop 6 days a week for about fifty six open hours. I have two ladies who cover the seventh day alternating every other week and pick up an odd shift when I need it. They are both gems who trust to always act in my best interest and to treat people as well as I would. Neither are the all that great as baristas but they are both decent. I never worry about the shop for a second while they are there. I also have a friend who can pick up shifts who is an ace barista and great with people.

My service is consistent if a little wild and weird sometimes. When the group home goes out for coffee they come to my shop, I know their names and talk to them. I've got the vast majority of the minority business because I am happy to get to know and grateful to put coffee in the cup of almost each and every person who walks in the door. One of my black customers who has become over time one of my friends remarked that she didn't like to go in the other place. She said they were all smiles but she could tell that she wasn't welcome there. I let every mail man, UPS driver or construction work crew use my bathroom, they've become customers and the word has spread that a person out working can always get a glass of water and use the john at my place. It's really my joy when I look out on the floor and see every slice of my neighborhood life sitting at my tables. It took a couple years of development to get there but it's probably the thing that has made me the most proud of my spot. I'm sure that there are more than a few people who hate my spot. They hate the color scheme, they hate that I don't have food, they hate that I don't have lilac rose marry infused honey lattes, and they hate that I don't have all natural edged counters cut from the same tree. I'm not kid friendly. I'm not kid unfriendly but if the shop starts to look like a fucking day care with children running around and bouncing off things like bumper cars I'm like to put on NWA until things thin out a bit.

Finally the next nice couple has their dreams shattered by my unwillingness to lay down and die and just make room for the new order of natural edged counters all cut from the same tree. I worked like a dog (I like working, its not all that hard but it's long and I almost never have bad days). I kept love in my heart for all the people who chose to support me. I'm grateful for having had this chapter of my life be at least moderately successful. The second couple were out of business. I went to their equipment sale and purchased a Ditting grinder an almost like new Mazzer for $900, what a fucking deal. The Ditting is a godamn dream.

It's been a few months since they went out of business and I knew sales were up but I hadn't run the numbers and compared them to last year. I figured I was up about 30%. I just ran the January numbers and compared them to sales last year and I found that I was up 66% from last year! It's huge. It's money coming in long after fixed costs have been taken care of. I could probably make more money doing any number of things but it wouldn't be my gig and my customers. It makes me feel pretty great.

They are going to tear my shop down in about two years and I'm ok with that. It'll only be two years of the type of money I had hopped would be coming in all this time but it'll be all the sweeter for having buried a pair of starry eyed dancers dreams by being consistent and friendly and enjoying almost every day of my work life.

Devac  ·  36 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Why the world is waiting for Betelgeuse to go supernova  ·  

I need to correct myself and point out that the values I got were wrong.


  t = sqrt(x²/c² + 2x/g) - time measured on Earth

t' = (c / g) * asinh(gt/c) - time measured by ship's crew

Numerical values:

  c = 3.00E8 m/s

g = 9.81 m/s²

x = 4.3 ly = 4.07E16 m

Time from the perspective of people on Earth (t): 1.63E8 seconds = 5.18 years.

Time from the perspective of people on the ship (t'): 7.27E7 seconds = 2.31 years.

Derivation was OK, had four other people check it for me and can show the work. It's not a new result anyway. Regardless, sorry for the mistake.

am_Unition, ButterflyEffect, nil - you also shared that post, so I'm shouting out just in case it has any relevance for you guys.

goobster  ·  71 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Hubski, what is your ideal for personal wealth?  ·  

Growing up in San Francisco and being a part of the 80's-90's computer boom there, and the rise of the internet and IPO's, I know quite a few super-rich people.

Or, I USED to.

The problem when you are a wimpy little geek who whips up a piece of software, and then sells it for $100m to Google, is that now everyone "knows" you have $100m in cash in your pocket, and you were living fine on $75k/year, so you have "extra" money to give to them for their loony project.

So you stop reading emails. And returning calls. And get a private cell number. And isolate.

Because you still are, at your core, an introvert who thinks an ideal week is sleeping during the day, ordering a pizza, and sitting up in your living room all night coding, or playing games. And avoiding all human contact.

The balance in the bank account doesn't change that part of your personality.

Unless... you become a colossal dick, and abuse the large number of extraordinarily hot women who suddenly find you attractive, after you have had zero game your ENTIRE life. And you become "entitled" to this type of treatment by women, and expect it from ALL women... including the ones that work for you. Because you have never managed another person before, and now you are the CEO of a huge corporation and have to give interviews and fend off hot women and drugs and your senses get dulled from the constant stimulation and really all you wanna do is order a pizza and sit in your living room and have a 15-hour CoD session...

So yeah...

After a tipping point, it's not about the quantity of money, it's about the quality of what you do with that money.

I'm at that tipping point of comfort, simply because my house is paid off. That's $1800-2500 a month that is NOT going out to a mortgage company. That is a LIFE-CHANGING amount of money for something like 97% of the American population.

Saturday I went to this fantastic block in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle, where a friend of mine has bought ALL of the warehouses on the street and converted the entire street into artists studios. Blacksmiths. Painters. Sculptors. Ceramicists. Woodworkers. Sound artists. Fire arts. Everything.

I was able to buy each of the pieces that really spoke to me, and support a local artist. I have these things in my home now - along with others I have acquired over my lifetime - and will cherish these items, not just for their beauty/utility/whatever, but because I was able to use my money to support a local artist... who uses local materials... who pays rent to a friend of mine... who is creating a vibrant arts community in my city... which is being swallowed by Amazon and Google and Expedia and and and...

And the kicker is, that I make about 10% over the median income in my city.

I am not "rich". I am not "wealthy". But I am comfortable (barring any health issues that come up), and I'm good with that.

am_Unition  ·  144 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What If We Really Are Alone in the Universe?  ·  

    ... not only is it going to be a lot less work to take our atmosphere from 400ppm to 250, we're already here.

Yepperz. Realistically, it will "cost" governments tens of trillions of dollars to solve the climate problem. Over the next ten to twenty years, it will become glaringly obvious that we have no choice.

When people are like, "HEY, send me to start terraforming Mars RIGHT NOW!", I wanna tell them, "OK, have fun! I'll be here. Maybe you'll get the bandwidth to email me before you die, but maybe not". I think NASA is probably realizing that any serious attempt to colonize Mars needs to be an international endeavor if it will ever have a chance of succeeding (/affording it). With a staunchly anti-globalist president, there's no good reason for NASA to broadcast that, because they also probably realize that they're gonna have to pull a Vatican and think on timescales of human generations from the get-go, so what's four or eight years? I've been trash talking a Mars shot since I got here. The public simply doesn't understand how many challenges there are to colonizing Mars, and unlike asteroid mining, there are essentially zero business incentives for sending people to Mars. That I can think of, at least.

    SETI & Drake Equation paragraph

It's not hydrogen emission, it's emission generated when hydrogen bonds to hydroxide and makes water. Had to look it up, I was so confused, I thought "Why would SETI be looking at... Lyman-Alpha..?". I don't think targeting water is a terribly bad idea. Water has so many unique properties (yuge heat index, less dense in the solid phase than the liquid, relatively small temperature difference required for phase changes, should occur everywhere in the universe near a previous supernova that produced the Oxygen, etc.), and although it certainly might drastically narrow the types of "life", it seems like a decent start.

I think I've said this before, but I wonder if there isn't something encoded into quasar outbursts, like if advanced civilizations ever systematically arrange matter to fall into the supermassive black holes at the center of galaxies. I doubt it's really possible to encode much on very short timescales, because the processes in the accretion disk and jets that create emissions are super turbulent and non-linear. Actually, we think the most common non-linear process energizing things there is probably magnetic reconnection (muh jerb), but anyway. The dots and dits could be days, weeks, months, or years-long, though, I guess. That'd be the best way to have an omni-directional signal, because you'd be modulating gamma-ray and relativistic particle fluxes, which are rare enough that your signal-to-noise ratio is muuuuuuch better than other wavelengths or lower energy particles, especially if it were coming from the center of your own galaxy. There are many many other considerations, though.

Didn't know that about Drake and the Navy. I still maintain that the galaxy might be teeming with life, and there's not really a reason for them to bother us. Apparently there are plenty of solar systems with rocky, watery planets. There might be only a relatively small span in a civilization's development when they broadcast radio waves up into space before switching to neutrino beams or whatever. Think of it like a spherical shell of radio waves, and however many years they broadcast for, that's how many light years thick it is, and the radius of the shell is obviously growing one light year per year. The strength of the signal inside the shell decays as a function of 1/r^2; quite quickly, as the radius expands outwards.

    Give me the energy requirements for a tightbeam visual signal from, say, Alpha Centauri B. I wanna be able to read morse code at night.

Ho boy, here we go. Pinging Devac for peer review.

Like, with the naked eye? OK, you'll need an apparent magnitude of at least +6. Let's make it +4, because I don't want to voyage into the central Pacific Ocean to see this, I don't even wanna squint. We'll assume that the Alpha Centaurians (probably centaurs) have tuned their laser's beam divergence such that when it reaches us, the beam diameter is the size of Earth's diameter. And btw, they'll have to aim 4.3 years in advance, so (being nowhere near precise enough) 0.3 orbits ahead of wherever Earth is when they flip the switch. From the apparent magnitude wiki article, we'll just convert the m=0 flux for the "V"(= visible) band to m=+4 using Pogson's ratio, 2.512, raised to the (+4 - 0 =) 4th power: 2.512^4 = ~40. OK, so to have enough visible photon flux per unit area (we start with cm^2) for it to appear as an m+4 for everyone on Earth, we need 40 x 3.64E-20 (= ~1.5E-18) ergs/(s*cm^2*Hz). We need to get rid of the Hz. If we assume they're using a monochromatic beam smack dab in the middle of the visible light spectrum, say 550 nanometers (yellow) = lambda, and c = lambda*f (where c is the speed of light), so f = 3E8 (m/s)/5.5E-7 (m) = ~5E14 Hz. So 1.5E-18*5E14 = ~1E-3 ergs/(s*cm^2). 1 erg = 1E-7 Joule, so now we're at 1E-10 J/(s*cm^2) = 1E-10 W/cm^2. Sanity check before the final step: I guess this sounds kinda right. If cat toy laser pointers are around 1 mW (1E-3 W) and we're instructed to never shine them in peoples eyes (which are roughly a square centimeter), it makes sense that barely-discernible blinking lights in the sky should be around 10 million times less powerful. OK, best for last. Finally, we multiply by the cross-sectional area of the Earth... in square centimeters. Earth's radius is ~6000 km, = 6E8 cm, and pi*r^2 = ~1E18 cm^2. So those guys are rollin' with a 1E8 Watt laser. 100 million watts. Let's make it a "jiggawatt" (1E9 Watts) for funsies. According to gubbmint, you'd need about 400 windmills to power your laser. Only(?) 40 windmills for the 1E8 Watt laser. Problem is, you might want a lotta lasers. And the results for red and blue will be more or less similar, certainly well within an order of magnitude.

If they built a truly dispersionless laser (not quite possible, but play along), and knew exactly where your eyeball would be at all times 4.3 years in the future, they could just use something as powerful as the toy laser, and it'd still damage your eye. Hey, what're you up to just after January 28th of 2024? Asking for a friend.

mike  ·  173 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: September 4, 2019  ·  

Got married.

zebra2  ·  181 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: August 28, 2019  ·  

I'm engaged! We've only been together 10 years, so it's not like that much has changed, but still!

ilex  ·  181 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Google: Building a more private web  ·  

https://freedom-to-tinker.com/2019/08/23/deconstructing-googles-excuses-on-tracking-protection/ says it better than I ever could.

I'm sure some people at google care about privacy and user freedom, but google itself clearly does not.

nil  ·  195 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Sausalito, CA school district “knowingly and intentionally” maintained racial segregation  ·  

Okay, so this is going to be a long one. And the only reason I'm still awake at this hour is because I closed the shop.

During my second year of university I had space for a few electives. My major was declared as economics for one reason: grades. The first year was political science, but as I'm sure you're all aware first year is just general anyway. And it's easier to get 90+ in classes where there's a right answer than classes where there isn't. Not saying my essays sucked, but they never handed out 90's. I was trying get into business school, which was a second entry program after two years and in order to do that I had to beef up my application as hard as possible. And they weren't making it easy. In addition to the high grades, you needed "leadership experience" in extracurricular activities. So I was scheming in-between my full-time course load, student clubs, and trying to get a promotion at my part-time job to find organizations and things I could do to make myself palatable.

And I did a lot of this shit. I was in Nicaragua too, for some reason, before the crackdown. I took a class, international politics, during which the professor told us that the school was offering an experiential learning "research" course to go to Rwanda and it would be entirely paid for by the school. Grant money. I figured, why not? It's going to be in the summer, I'll get to work on a research project, do an essay about the post-genocide reconstruction in the region, and hopefully get experience if I ever decided to transition into some type of career in global development.

Yep, you're right. I had to pay for it. $1500 out the ass.

The class was structured in such a way that we met bi-weekly before the departure date of the actual trip. We spent a lot of time analyzing the history and politics of Rwanda, past and present. Essentially the division between Hutus and Tutsis was largely created by colonization, they weren't so much tribes as they were "social classes" prior to colonization. It was more an identifier of how much stuff you had. You could move between classes if you acquired wealth or property. Post-Belgian colonization however, it was a different story.

One of the main topics we discussed was the gacaca court system that was established following the genocide. It was an ad-hoc judicial system created because it was physically impossible to train that many lawyers and try that many people after the destruction of the country. A large part of what we debated was the effectiveness of the gacaca system and whether the potential for error was worth it in that political climate.

One of the biggest challenges in post-genocide reconstruction is the fact that Rwanda is a centralized state under control of Paul Kagame and his party. There were efforts made to decentralize the government after 2001 but still, Rwanda is essentially a capitalist state under semi-totalitarian control. It's one of the fastest growing economies in the region. It's a safe country, like unreasonably so. And I think most people would say that's a miracle given what happened. There was an opposition party, not "hutu power", but a green party trying to implement a more fair democracy and their leader was murdered. On a local and council level (the topic of my research) social structures are still very totalitarian and you can get in a lot of trouble by stepping out of line. It is very difficult to study people's attitudes in Rwanda for two reasons, 1) people will typically lie or embellish the truth to foreigners and 2) society is very regimented. It doesn't have to be the threat of jail, being "that guy" in your village and local council means you're basically screwed in terms of employment, and survival. And so resistance comes passively, refusing to participate in government-ordained meetings, irreverent compliance, being mute, whatever you can do.

So segregation is illegal in Rwanda. It is not socially acceptable to identify yourself as Hutu or Tutsi. Those distinctions have been removed from all identity documents. You're not allowed to talk about it. A famous story in Rwanda happened about 15 years ago when Hutu militants stormed into Rwanda from the DR Congo and held children hostage in a classroom. When they attempted to divide the children by Hutu and Tutsi, they replied saying "We are neither. We are one Rwandans."

There were some cool people in the class, but we know what the stress of travelling can do to people, especially when you're doing it with complete strangers. I didn't realize how south this was going to go before it was too late.

First day, there was a layover in Amsterdam. Buddy is already hammered in the airport bar. His friend turns to me and says "bro, are you fucking sittin' on that?", referring to a beer. The trip had barely begun and I had to come to the realization that yes, in fact I had been sitting on it. I didn't realize it then, but this was going to be a lot harder than I had originally anticipated.

These people, there were about two or three, were basically drunk the entire trip. There was a lot of infighting. Their God was Doug Ford, and his girlfriend. I basically only talked to like 3 people who were sort of being excluded by the rest of the group. And I didn't necessarily hit it off well with them either, it's just the alternative was an uncomfortable silence. There were a lot of right-wing arguments and anti-Palestine rhetoric was flowing through the buses and hotel rooms. The one drunk dude had ambitions in law enforcement, I think.

The next two weeks were spent travelling across the entire country, following a strict itinerary, meeting with organizations, going to an epic soccer game, meeting genocide survivors (one person I recall fled into the DR Congo when he was a child and returned years later to found a successful tech company). We also painted a house for some lady. We met gacaca court judges. During this process I had to keep everything logged on my blog which I hosted on my website. I'll try to dig it up if I can to maybe expand on this post.

We also went to a lot of genocide memorials, and places Roméo Dallaire was at. The thing about genocide memorials in Rwanda is it's not like visiting Auschwitz. Human skulls, bones, fragments of clothing are all out there in the open. No, not behind a glass case. I mean you're inches away from hundreds of hundreds of dead people with no barrier. It's pretty terrifying. Or seeing open graves that you knew hundreds of people had been thrown into. Not even the Church, which was off-limits in their culture was a safe space from the genocidaires. They weren't afraid of God.

The extent of the human tragedy in Rwanda is beyond comprehension until you've been there. I've met killers, and the families of people they've killed. And they forgave them. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of individuals convicted of murder during the genocide went out to ask for forgiveness from the families of the people whose lives they cut short. And they often got that forgiveness. It was incredible. It was the human spirit.

By the end of this, basically nobody was talking to each other. The professor was pissed at the TA, the TA's friends were pissed at everyone else who was pissed at them. People were deleting each other on Facebook. Blasting "Big Hard Sun" by Eddie Vedder wasn't helping. People were crying. The whole thing was a disaster. The experience was life-changing but it taught me never to travel with strangers ever again. I wasn't allowed to find out why people were upset, I was the outsider.

But the Rwandan lawyers I met were cool. They followed me on Instagram and thanked me for avoiding alcohol and replacing it with Lacroix. I drank on top of the hill in Kigali in a fancy restaurant, in the nicest bar in the entire land overlooking the convention centre (google it) while that guy stole a beer from the restaurant and drank it on the bus ride home. We got on the plane and went back. Back to our world.

ghostoffuffle  ·  205 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: "We’re All Tired of Being Called Racists" - Woman Who Hates Ilhan Omar For Being Muslim  ·  

Apologies for the delayed response- I spent almost all of yesterday driving.

I think the issue I hold with the above thought experiment is that you've managed at once to overly narrow and broaden the subject of the discussion to a point at which the original subject matter gets lost in the shuffle. We're no longer talking about racism versus nationalism versus xenophobia, we're talking about the merits and pitfalls of Sharia law- essentially a policy discussion. And we can argue the benefits and pitfalls of Sharia, but it's a little like listening to somebody complain about the Jews' conspiracy to control world media and then say, "let's dig into that, though; would a worldwide monopoly on the media really benefit us as a polity?"

Reading Roseanna and Amy's comments as charitably as you have for a moment, I'll discard nearly every other portion of the original quote; I'll ignore the part about "stinkin' Muslim crap" and "Muslim through and through" and "that's not America" and the speculation of whether or not this Somali immigrant-cum-stateswoman is here legally, and focus solely, as you'd have it, on her passing reference to Sharia. We then have to examine where she got this "Sharia" notion. Is there anything in Omar's voting record that indicates an affinity towards Sharia law? Have Rosanna and Amy studied Sharia? Do they even know what it means? In order to have the discussion you want, we have to take it as a matter of course that when they say "all that Muslim crap," they only take issue with the specter of Sharia, and that they are coming to the discussion with a viewpoint as informed as your own vis-a-vis apostasy, vis-a-vis state response to homosexuality, vis-a-vis capital and corporal punishment, etc. Furthermore, we have to grant that they care to recognize that "Sharia" only encompasses one practical portion of a fundamentalist minority of the world's second largest religion with a history spanning several millennia.

But ultimately, to do so would be absurd. I think you and I can agree without too much controversy that in the above case, "Sharia" is shorthand. It's a condensation of a rich and broad culture into a bogeyman signifier. Look, here's Islam:

And here's Islam:

And here it is again:

So why is it that in these discussions we always have to approach it from the terms of this

and this

and this?

You opened the discussion searching for a working definition of racism. I'd say that when person A narrows the culture, religion, and physical characteristics of person B down to the basest caricature, and then rejects person B based on that caricature, that's as good a definition of racism as one might need.

So, then. If it's not too hypocritical (I'll leave that up to your good judgment), I'd argue a sort of like-for-like. If someone is comfortable simplifying my cultural standpoint down to a cartoonish shorthand, I'm comfortable discarding the finer distinctions between xenophobia, racism and nationalism in favor of a catch-all term, in this case racism. The problem with ten-dollar words is that they have a way of sterilizing subject matter. As a for instance, "nationalism" has recently been re-introduced into the American lexicon as a non-pejorative. If we call all of what was discussed above "ethno-nationalism" rather than "racism," isn't it entirely possible that we might then inadvertently deem such behavior acceptable? Better to err on the side here of stigma rather than normalization, I think. Racism is a fine word for it.

For all that, though, your point is well taken. We could be only a little less charitable to the above actors and assume that their issue with Rep. Omar has nothing to do with the color of her skin in conjunction with her cultural background, and only has to do with her religion. When John F. Kennedy ascended to the presidency, there were those who vocally decried his "Papist" affinities and wondered whether the Vatican would now run the White House. This isn't a perfect analog for our current discussion, but it subtracts the thornier issues of phenotype. In which case, "racism" wouldn't exactly fit the bill, would it? Taken in this light, I can respect your original point. I ask you, then, to reconsider mine. Whether or not the dumbing-down of a religious or cultural group to base signifiers, and then ascribing nefarious motives to this simplified Other is racist or xenophobic or ethno-nationalist becomes extraneous. It all merits an unequivocal condemnation.

OftenBen  ·  250 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: June 19, 2019  ·  

My long term disability got approved last week. No appeals, no court battle, just long months of waiting and a few of scraping brokeness.

I get my full package, benefits and 401k contribution included.

Thankful to be able to take some time to actually take care of myself the way I need to. Eat the way I should, daily. Take exactly the medications I should, without thinking about rationing, daily. Attend cardiac rehab and be able to pay my copay. Have to do some doctor shopping, new psych, new pain doc, but it's manageable.

Truthfully I'm kind of numb. I want to be elated, we went out to a nice dinner to celebrate, but it hasn't set in yet that I actually got the benefits that I earned, that I signed up for years ago specifically for when the day came that I needed them. I guess I find it hard to believe that the corporate end of the bargain is being held up.

Just need some time to process I guess.

Finished The Universe in a Nutshell, gonna re-read it for the sake of clarity and comprehension before moving on to the next one. Hawking is a wonderful breather from Durant.

OftenBen  ·  321 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: New Horrors: China Harvesting Muslim Organs in Concentration Camps.  ·  

I think there is an argument to be made that China is trying to export the social credit idea.

One of the exports of Empire is culture, yes?

I'm still knee-deep in Durant so that's the lens I'm putting this all through, as much as possible.

KapteinB  ·  358 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: 320th Weekly "Share Some Music You've Been Into Lately" Thread  ·  

This weekend was what we Eurovision-nerds refer to as Super Saturday, where 5 national entries were selected (with two more following on Sunday).

Finland is sending none other than Darude, whom you may remember from his 1999 smash hit (which is now possibly stuck in your head just from reading his name). Alas this song is no Sandstorm, being more muted and much less catchy.

Georgia is one of my favourite Eurovision nations, which rarely fails to entertain. This year they are less fun than usual, but I still quite like it.

Iceland's pick is not very typical for Eurovision. It will certainly stand out. It's brutal. I almost like it.

Moldova had my favourite song last year. This year they're just ok in my opinion.

My native Norway is sending a catchy dance tune with a solid dose of joik. I'm biased, of course, but I like it.

Portugal this year seems quirky just for the sake of being quirky.

And finally Serbia went with this ballad.

This is probably the best crop so far this year. And in general I'm happy with how many countries are choosing to sing in other languages than English this year. :-)

am_Unition  ·  364 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Who Is Left on Hubski?  ·  

31/m/tx, u?

I'm James. Working on finishing up my physics PhD. lil helped me with my grad school application letter! Apparently she did a great job, because it worked :).

Just got engaged about a week ago after an 8 year trial period with the best girl in the world. Looks like a courthouse, nuclear-family-only shindig, and then a backyards kegger for the 1 year anniversary or something. Pomp and circumstance ain't my thang.

Used some of my tax return to buy a Switch. flac, I'll be PM'ing you in a few days or weeks, depending on how long it takes me to get sick of BotW (could be months, I guess).

As for everyone else, if I'm in your neck of the woods sometime, I'll let you know, and maybe we can meet up. I just got back from Yosemite, and yeesh, it's gonna be tough to top that backdrop. Most beautiful place I've ever been. And before you ask, I managed to miss firefall, mostly because I was either snowboarding or watching PowerPoint presentations.

flac  ·  405 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: January 16, 2019  ·  


Something sad happened this weekend..

In the grand scheme of things, this building doesn't mean that much - it hasn't been a functioning theater for a few decades, and was close to falling down on its own anyway. I grew up right next door to it, and played in the park outside it every day. I threw rocks at it in middle school, broke into it in high school, and helped try to fix it in college. I spent weekends painting walls that were falling in on themselves, cataloging moldy costumes, laminating old playbills.

My family has run a theater program the last 5 years on the grounds of the theater, and have been trying to get the place opened up again, at least so people can see inside of it. They've had some success - we did a play last summer on the balcony of the theater, and opened it up for tours for the local schools. They both work full time jobs and put all their spare time and money into this program. They've gone to every town meeting for 5 years to try and get any support they can, with very little luck.

They stayed up all night to watch the fire, because what else can you do?


I used to sneak out of my bed and sit on the roof with my brother when I was a kid so we could hear the shows they did on summer nights. We couldn't see anything through the trees, but we could hear the words, and my brothers tried to explain what was going on.

I was planning in getting married in the park. Just ordered invitations, too. Going to visit the wreckage this weekend and make some decisions.

Anyways, here's a song I wrote.

PS: the kicker is that at the last town meeting, people were talking about how now they could finally build condos there.