(no subject)

Our precious kitty Clarissa is having some serious health problems, but we don't have enough money right now to get the blood tests she needs. We're feeding her with a syringe, but she's not even keeping all that down and we're extremely worried. She's made of sugar and purrs, and we want to see her in the best of health as soon as possible. If you can, please contribute something to help her get the blood tests she needs for better treatment (click the "ChipIn!" button to the right):


On fantasy characters:

If you had to distill fantasy character archetypes into just a few key terms (warrior/soldier, mystic/shaman, wizard/scholar, what have you), what would they be?
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Updates, Part I

So the past month has been Kasha going to New York City to visit with sixteenbynine, natmun, and datacat as well as attend New York Anime Festival/New York Comic Con, which were held at the same time and location this year.  (They've always been held at the same location and ran by the same people, but usually they take place at different times.)  It was fun getting to spend time with people I rarely get to see (and also meeting natmun in person for the first time).  The trip was hectic and involved waking too early in the morning to catch public transit toward the BoltBus, which offers a $16 trip between Baltimore Pennsylvania Station and New York Pennsylvania Station.  I asked a couple of people waiting for a normal bus where I needed to be for the BoltBus, and they pointed me to the correct location at the other end of the street, thankfully, after having already spent a couple hours getting up early, collecting all my things, walking to a bus stop, riding to the Metro, riding into Baltimore, switching to the Light Rail, and having to walk to the next stop.

Arriving at NY Penn. Station meant recollecting my duffel and messenger bags to try and find access to the Long Island Rail Road, which was assisted by a poor woman who clearly wanted something from me as she kept reiterating how she felt it was good to help people out when they need it.  Upon showing me to the correct location so I could get to the next train on time, she asked if I $20 to spare so she could get her daughter and herself something to eat, and I gave her a $10 bill, not really having much on me, wanting to be suckered by a random person, or leaving myself broke.  The trip overall took about eight or nine hours, with sixteenbynine collecting me from the LIRR station near his home on Long Island and bringing me back to stay the night and meet natmun on the weekend.  We had plenty of too-long conversations that kept us awake longer than intended; he gave me a copy of Gödel, Escher, Bach he'd just gotten from a library yard sale; and we popped in the Blu-ray of Evangelion: 1.0 You Are (Not) Alone, since he hadn't seen the new film franchise yet.  (Whatever you think about the old series and films, the new stuff is well worth a look.  FUNimation will be releasing the second film in North America next year.)

On Saturday the four of us met at Book-Off (natmun, sixteenbynine, and I traveling together to meet datacat at the store).  We all had fun perusing their albums, books, and manga, and Kasha purchased some volumes of Kino's Journey: the Beautiful World (キノの旅 -the Beautiful World-) as well as two missing volumes of Claymore in English.  We then ran to Kinokuniya for more booky goodness, where Kasha got two books on associative Kanji learning (using pictograms), a book on Japanese gestures, and a copy of the first volume of Claymore in Japanese to compare to the English version for translation purposes.  There was more gallivanting through a random comics shop, a famous and popular hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, and of course the usual visit to the Strand, where Kasha spent time inside for the first time ever after scouring the 48-cent rack outside, which involved getting a couple fantasy novels, a sci-fi novel based on EVE Online, and some books of real-life African stories, medieval commerce --- oh, and a copy of Homer's Iliad --- for under $4.

We all parted ways, Kasha following datacat home and becoming her seventh cat four the next couple weeks before Comic Con.  We watched a bunch of anime, including both Aim for the Top! (トップをねらえ!) series, a bit of Occult Acadamy, some Nanoha, et cetera, as well as taking a free class in Korean language.  Overall it was a fairly uneventful time, but it was largely peaceful and enjoyable --- apart from the regular catsplosions and Kasha catching a cold.

And that's all Kasha has the energy to say for now.  More later!

Wazza hazza bazza

Feeling very lethargic after trip to New York, particularly after trip to Risotteria (which has the best gluten-free desserts you'll ever find, but they aren't low in carbs).  It was good times overall, but it was also exhausting and Kasha will be crashing from the carb intake for a while.  Would like to make a nice post about everything, and the carb-related side-effects were both expected and worth it, but am not feeling particularly articulate, so will probably remain quiet as usual.  ^*^;

Ow, the brains

At sethimothy's suggestion, we began reading Economics in one Lesson by Henry Hazlitt.  It started straightforward enough, setting as its goal to discuss some common logical fallacies in relation to economic theory and practice.  The first couple chapters are fine; he seems to take a rather disgruntled tone, but it's difficult to find someone discussing economics without such things.  He introduces the concept that many people profit from disaster, believing that destruction creates demand, when all it really does is create need whether or not that need can be satisfied, and money is simply redistributed from some markets to others through destructive acts.  So far it's simple and pragmatic, as is the discussion of government spending in that spending to generate tax income is a fallacy in itself: the money you spend is from either tax income or debt, and must then be supplied with tax income, so it isn't generally creating new tax funds.

Then we get to the third chapter, where he equates this with jobs.  Hazlitt was a hard-line conservative libertarian, which is why we suspected his outlook would be unwelcome even if some of his information and insights might be useful.  He states without irony, "for every public job created by the bridge project a private job has been destroyed somewhere else."  This is nonsense.  The creation of one job does not automatically destroy another.  He's specifically discussing an example of public works projects done to create jobs, works that do things like create bridges which were unnecessary.  However one may feel about an unnecessary bridge — it's not the most appealing prospect — the creation of a bridge that wouldn't otherwise have been created doesn't rob anyone of work.  It does mean that tax money is going to a bridge rather than, say, education, public health, or what have you, but it doesn't automatically make existing employment disappear in favor of newer, temporary employment.  It doesn't disrupt the private industry, because the private industry wasn't interested in creating that bridge, and much of the time the government pays private industry to do its work anyway.

It's true that no new money is created, just redistributed, but that's part of the point.  The more people make money, the more they have money to save and to spend.  The wealthy and the corporations might have been spending that same money that instead became taxes that lead to government-funded projects, but the wealthy don't need more money; the poor do.  Fairness, of course, has never had a place in traditional economics, at least until the past some years that we've actually begun doing empirical research into economics to test theories and see what pans out.  We've learned over the past decade or two that indeed fairness is a very important part of economics, and people do not simply act only in self-interest, but this book was written before all that; this edition was from 1979, and the original was from 1946.

In any case, working to create jobs means more people saving money and spending small amounts of money, but more importantly, it means that unemployed people can gain experience in whatever tasks they perform, increasing their employment value; it means they're earning through production the money the government's paying them from taxes instead of gaining it through Food Stamps benefits or the like; and that income can help them gain better housing, better education, and so forth, which in turn means a more productive generation of citizens.  That isn't to say that building a useless bridge is a good idea, but there are always useful projects that can be done; one need not look far.  Unfortunately Hazlitt is simply spewing conservative libertarian propaganda and not bothering to notice his own logical fallacies.  Throughout the chapter, he makes it clear that he's against all public works which aren't specifically toward building government offices and the like which allow the government to function, and frankly that's just a silly prejudice.

Economics and noodles

Kasha has recently been interested in two topics and wishes to search libraries for books on them.  The first is economics, and the problem with this is that libraries do not house textbooks, and most other books would likely not interest me.  Does anyone who's studied economics at all have any books one might find at a library that they would recommend?  No, books like Freakonomics do not count; I'm interested in education, not entertainment.

The other topic is ramen (ラーメン).  This will probably be a far less troublesome topic, but it is relevant to the title of this post.  There is an H Mart in the area which sells shirataki (しらたき) noodles, which are gluten-free and contain no sugar or starch, only dietary fiber.  (They are also known as yam noodles.)  There shall be much slurping.

No Sense of History

Every now and then, someone (usually my mother or mmsword's father) sends me one of those e-mails about how easy kids have it these days and all the things that didn't exist in their youth.  These things drive me crazy, because they are always inaccurate.  Just this morning, I've received the biggest whopper of them, targeted at the just-over-30 crowd.  I'm not over 30 or even quite 30 yet, though I'm getting real close; I know a lot of people just on the cusp or already in their 30s; and most of us have a sense of history and how inaccurate these claims are.

"I mean, when I was a kid we didn't have the Internet."

Some form of electronic inter-networking has been around since the 1950s.  Not including dial-up bulletin board systems (BBS), public access to Internet service providers, e-mail, and the World Wide Web has been common since the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Even if you were born in 1970, access was readily available by the time you were 18 and ubiquitous before you reached 30.  I was raised in an isolationist cult, and I remember people using Prodigy, CompuServe, and America Online as a child.  Of course, we all had very limited access and were only supposed to use basic e-mail services and check the weather.

"Child Protective Services didn't care if our parents beat us."

Excuse me?  In the United States of America, there have been criminal court cases involving child abuse since 1655.  We've been concerned about children since far longer than we decided that women and non-Whites were people.  The Children's Bureau was established in 1912; the Social Security Act was amended to fund child protection in 1958; and Child Protective Services was established with the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) in 1974.  And yes, they cared, even if you didn't.  The Adoption Assistance and Child Wellfare Act was passed in 1980 as well.

"There were no MP3's or Napsters or iTunes!"

This is the least ridiculous claim, but it's still inaccurate.  The MPEG-1 Audio Layer 3 format has existed since 1991, following earlier codecs (such as MP2) from the 1980s.  Napster itself didn't operate until 1999, but file sharing has existed since the BBS days in the late 1970s, Usenet since 1980, file-transfer-protocol (FTP) since 1985, Internet Relay Chat (IRC) since 1988, and in many other forms since then.  iTunes has only existed since 2000, but digital media players such as Windows Media Player have existed throughout the 1990s (1991 in the case of WMP).

"There were no CD players!"

CD players have been in public circulation since Sony released the CDP-101 in 1982.  CDs and players grew in popularity throughout the 1980s, and cassette media effectively died in the early 1990s.  This is just silly.

"We didn't have fancy crap like Call Waiting! [...] And we didn't have fancy Caller ID either!"

I'm not sure exactly when "call waiting" and "caller ID" services were established, but I know my own family had both these services in the early 1990s, and I know the first patents on caller-ID services were granted starting in 1969.

"There weren't any freakin' cell phones either."

Sure there were.  Car phones were first invented in 1946-47 and were first used publicly in the 1950s.  Portable versions have existed since 1957, and they were shrank to "pocket" versions in 1958.  These grew in popularity through the late 1960s, though they were trapped to local areas until the 1970s, when they were finally able to "roam."  Car phones have been popular since the 1980s and cell phones have been ubiquitous since the 1990s.

"We didn't have any fancy PlayStation or Xbox video games with high-end resolution 3-D graphics! We had the Atari 2600!"

The Atari 2600 was released in 1977.  If you're in the 30s crowd, you were no older than 7 when it was released.  You might only have been 14 when the first PlayStation was released in 1994, and there were 3-D games on the Sega Mega Drive (Genesis) and Mega CD (Sega CD) back in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Let's not forget the Intellivision, Famicon (NES), ColecoVision, Sega Master System, Super Famicon (SNES), 32X, TurboGrafx-16, Neo Geo, Atari Jaguar, 3DO, and Sega Saturn.  Shortly thereafter the Nintendo 64, and even the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 were released by the time people born in the 1970s reached 30.  The Gamecube and Xbox were both released in 2001, when those born in 1970 would just be turning 31.

"You had to use a little book called a TV Guide to find out what was on!"

Not that this is a real issue, but cable television has existed since the 1930s (1940s in the U.S.), and satellite television has existed since 1962.  These are the services which eventually outmoded TV Guide with electronic program scheduling transmission, though I'm not sure exactly when.  The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) has been online since 1990, listing details for films and television shows.


Nikola Tesla invented the first remote controls in 1898.  We've been building remote-controlled robots since the 1900s, airplanes and radios since the 1930s, and televisions since the 1950s.

"There was no Cartoon Network either! You could only get cartoons on Saturday morning."

Cartoon Network's been airing since 1992, when some people 30 or over today were 12 years old, but well before then stations would air after-school blocks of animated programming and shows like The Flintstones had been airing in prime-time slots since 1960.

"And we didn't have microwaves."

Oh, please.  Microwave ovens were invented in the 1940s.  They became wildly popular throughout the 1950s and 1960s.  Almost no one born in 1970 in the U.S. was born into a household that didn't have or soon acquire a microwave oven.  I don't recall ever having seen a household without one.  So if you were born in the 1920s, sure, you grew up without a microwave oven.  You might even be in your 60s today and not have had one until you were an adult, but you totally got one by your 20s at least.

"And car seats - oh, please! Mom threw you in the back seat and you hung on."

Child safety seats have existed since 1962.  If you were born in the 1950s or earlier, sure, you might not have gotten that.  Some form of child seat has existed since the 1930s, though, even if most of them were more "booster" seats than "safety" seats.


Well, that about covers that e-mail.  I think it's about time for some breakfast.