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  • 19 Posts
Joined 2 years ago
Cake day: August 26th, 2022


  • No.

    A decade or so ago, we owned a small rural house in Pennsylvania where the roads in the area were lined with 5’ high stone walls. Turns out, about a hundred years before, a rich family (for whom there were towns in the area named) had built themselves a giant stone mansion nearby, and to do so, they imported a bunch of Italian stone masons, and built little houses for them in the surrounding lands. To keep them busy when they weren’t working on the mansion (or whatever other projects they were doing), they had them build all of these roadside walls.

    Everything was dry laid. No morter, nothing. Just rocks, stacked in top of one another. Not even particularly regularly shaped; they just jigsawed them together. The walls were 5’ high, 2’ across at the top and maybe 3’ at the base, and they lined every road for miles around. And this was the busywork these guys did.

    I’m most places, these walls had stood unmoving for decades - again, with no morter or joining. When we bought our place, some previous owner wanted an actual driveway instead of just a road to the barn and had simply pushed a hole through the wall with a bulldozer and left these giant stones alongside the driveway.

    A few years in, we hired some local Amish guys to use the stone to build proper end-cap pillars for the driveway. Those guys also did not use morter, except on the caps to make little roofs. They just lego’d the pillars out of the left-over stone, and we got a small discount for letting them take whatever they hadn’t used. I have no idea what these stones weighed, but certainly several hundred pounds each. The work crew was 3 guys, and no heavy machinery. They arrived in a pickup truck, were dropped off, and were picked up at the end of the day (it did take them a couple of weeks to do the job). They partially deconstructed the ends of the wall to integrate the pillars; it looked all of a piece at the end.

    I think you greatly underestimate people’s ability to stack rocks, especially healthy, fit men used to labor.

    P.S. I’m not saying it doesn’t take skill; I couldn’t have done it, even when in my prime; not well anyway. Not the first time. But none of those ziggurats were anyone’s first time stacking rocks.

  • This is a huge point. My wife made an off-hand comment about Boeing looking like a good take-over target for Airbus, and my response was, “never. Then there would be only one airline maker in the world.”

    There are exactly two manufacturers of large passenger jet liners. It’s not even a question of too big to fail; it’s far worse than that.

    Personally, I think they’re going about this the wrong way. You could prosecute executives for past decisions, but they were just doing the job they were hired for: maximize profits over every other consideration. The ones that didn’t, got replaced by ones that did.

    For companies like Boeing, we need a different model of capitalism. One where engineers can be in charge, and the metrics for success are dominated by something other than sheer profitability. I don’t know; it seems as if we used to know how to do capitalism better. We had a functioning, funded, effective NASA, which operated almost entirely outside of The Market and which was a national pride; now it’s overshadowed by SpaceX. Boeing made good planes.

    I don’t have a solution, but I can tell that we’ve gotten lost somewhere along the way.

  • I get as frustrated as anyone else at the often glacial pace of justice. I’ve been told that it’s all in a good cause, that slow means careful and the best chance at just outcomes.

    While I mostly believe this, my doubts stem from the fact that “justice” seems to be awfully stern and quick when the accused is poor, or a minority, and seems to only really becomes slow and careful when the rich, and especially the rich white, are accused. And the rich get to live in “house arrest” while the system cautiously, and protractedly, protects their rights. I have a difficult time reconciling that.

    PS, I know you’re talking about Crowder, not the public. It just got me thinking.

  • Yeah, this is the war Ukraine has been fighting all along; they’re just able to do it more.

    It pushes back supply lines. Ammo takes longer to get to the people who need it. If something goes wrong for the Russians on the front, it takes longer to get reinforcements. When Ukraine mounts an offensive, it weakens Russian defense. It also reduces how far into Ukraine Russia can strike with some types of artillery, because they have to position the guns farther back. Staging is harder; Russia has to sneak together assault groups farther, giving Ukraine more opportunity to notice and prepare.

    Ukraine is making it harder for Russians to keep troops supplied, forcing them to stretch their supply lines, which also make them easier to attack and disrupt. The farther back they can push staging areas, the harder and slower it is for Russia to mount assaults.

  • Yeah, me neither. I’ve liked some horror genre stories, like Clive Barker’s Book(s?) of Blood, Rawhead Rex and all; but I wouldn’t say it was because it made me afraid.

    If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say a lot of people do, or else slasher flicks wouldn’t be so popular. Hell, some years it seems as if that’s the only genre of movies released.

    But, I also loath the cringe inducing reality shows many people love; and I’m so very tired of every show having to be nonstop angst and tension: GoT was the pinnacle of this, and I absolutely hated it. Books and TV. Boardwalk Empire was so frustrating, because it so well written, acted, and produced, but I just can’t stand the unrelieved tension. Obviously, a took of people do, or else there’d be more diversity in media. It’s like, the one tool media writers know how to use, anymore.

    I say all this because I wonder if there’s a correlation: what’s the overlap between people who don’t like being jump-scared or otherwise frightened and the people who don’t like watching people being made uncomfortable (a-la Borat); or constantly bickering (The Kardashians). I love action movies, and a good adventure sci-fi or fantasy, so I’m not adverse to conflict, but I won’t watch Breaking Bad because - while I’m aware it was an excellent series - I also know it’s going to be a non-stop angst-fest, like The Sopranos.

    It’d be an interesting survey. Maybe a list of shows and movies with a simple “enjoy/don’t enjoy”, and secretly ranked by dominant emotional manipulation. Is it an endearing love story tinged with bittersweet? A slasher? A torture-tension (what’s Saw? Not a slasher). See how people are grouped.

  • Most of the more advanced (complicated? I don’t want to be too species-ist) life forms on Earth reproduce sexually. I wonder how much of that produces faster evolution and is therefore selected for, and how much is chance? Like, say asexual reproduction dominates on some planet such that the apex creatures reproduce asexually, and it’s only a minority of mostly uninteresting creatures that reproduce sexually. A lot of our behaviors would seem really strange; inexplicable, maybe. So much of our social interactions are ultimately originated in sex - and not just humans, but all sexually reproducing creatures. Birds. Cats. Other apes and our monkey cousins, of course. We get it; we recognize it, can sympathize with it. But if you’re intelligent and your entire civilization reproduces asexually, and most of the other higher life forms on your planet do too, so that you don’t have a huge biome of sexually reproducing, complex animals to study. I think it would be really weird to encounter humans.

  • I’d been wanting a new keyboard for a while, mainly to get better tactile switches and more aggressive stagger. But I tried to swap some keycaps on my ErgoDox and broke a switch, and that was enough to justify a new keyboard. I’m sticking with the Piantor for a while because I don’t want to afford to drop $250 on keyboards every few months. So, in my case, I’m sticking with it for financial reasons, not “in love with” reasons.

    I do like the better programmability, tho. Definite win, although kanata certainly filled that need adequately.