06 August 2015

What time is it?!!?


4:30 PST that is.  As I publish this post, it's currently 5:30am in Los Angeles, and the entire West Coast of the US, but it's 4:30 Pacific Standard Time.

Now, there aren't a lot of places in the world that (celebrate?) observe PST year round, but once you move a little further east, and get a little more Pacifically-challenged, other time zones don't behave quite so orderly...

For example, go to Phoenix tomorrow, (oh my gawd, wouldn't it be hilarious if twos upon twos of my readers went to Phoenix tomorrow!?  That reminds me of a social media experiment I want to try called #letsGoToRookies - it's based on the theory that everyone lives fairly close to a bar called Rookies.  Probably, you've never been there or maybe you went once and haven't been back... Anyway, on this certain moment, we all go to Rookies, and around the country, places called Rookies' business explodes, for like 40 minutes {stay and have a couple beers!} and regulars and bar owners are flummoxed for a while) and figure out what time it is.  Sure, it will seem like it's whatever time it is Pacific Time, but in fact it is Mountain Time, Mountain Standard Time.

Let that soak in a moment, while you think about the last email you received from your client in Denver.  They were likely confirming a call (did you know that today, 15% of all emails are confirming times for future calls? That's a fact.) with a consultant in Flagstaff, Arizona for 3:00pm MST (because the middle initial makes everything seem so much more business-like!).  Point of fact, those two people will (I think I don't know if all of Arizona follows the same rules - there is no research budget for RNJ...) be on the phone exactly one hour apart.

Of course, our glorious savior Microsoft Outlook, solves these sorts of scheduling snafus, if you use calendar invites (USE CALENDAR INVITES!), but I've been seeing this in far too many places, and blatantly mistaken, and it's time that someone finally says something.

It's quite simple, really... also, those of you who are reading this as news and use middle initials in your time stamp, we who know better have been laughing at you for years... YEARS!!!  Most of the world honors daylight saving time (this is, of course, a wildly inaccurate statement, but as an American, it's true for most of America, so it becomes true... "from a certain point of view" - name the movie quote i'm thinking of and win a VMP {very minor prize} shipped to you at no expense -), but I would estimate that 83% of all administrative professionals are using CST or EST right this very moment.

Well fear not, help is here:
  • Daylight Standard Time (DST - hugely confusing because S!!! is the middle initial - happens, generally, in the summer time for the Northern Hemisphere)

  • Standard Time (ST - standard time is what we more commonly refer to as time.  Of course, time is relative, but as long as we all are still land-bound, it makes sense to come to some accord with regard to what time it is.  That said, Standard Time is the closest we have available in the US to GMT.

I think this distinction is fairly clear to most calendar purveyors.... that said, I will stand by my 83% statistic that most administrative and support professionals misuse (or perhaps disable) the correct language.

The reason for this is complex/simple as most things are... D is less serious than S.  At a momentary glance this sounds crazy - that said one need only look at the (i.e. vs. e.g.) example.  I.E. which is a couple of glorious vowels, working together to say - literally - "in other words".  E.G., of course, mean "for example".  Somehow, seriously, G makes things seem less serious to some folks, and so almost invariably in standard business writing and most non-academic prose, you'll see i.e. when the writer clearly means e.g.  Oddly, I think part of the reason for this is also that e.g.  sounds like the way way Americans say the word "example", and they may be afraid that it's an abbreviation, rather than a Latin derivation.

I think it's also, maddeningly, related to the "I/me" idiocracy that holds that using the word 'me' makes people sound less intelligent, and so you get fools using phrases like "between George and I".  Please learn this, people.  Really, I'm just asking for the time one today.  D is a less-oft used letter, I know, but using it more often will improve your Scrabble scores, and, at least until November, stop infuriating those of us already in the know.

13 June 2015

This Post is Very Meta...

A couple of years ago I was taking a real look at my social media self.  Bringing back this tag to Roman Numeral J reminds me of my recent Facebook post about same date nostalgia

When I was a kid I had a page-a-day sports calendar.  For that reason I know that Jay Hilgenberg shares my birthday, March 21st.  The date on which things happen is important to us (anniversaries, birthdays, deathdays) and being able to mark just how long ago a specific thing occurred helps comprehend the passage of time.  This understanding, I think, can help calibrate our intentions - that is, understanding that you are now, say, 37, and that you were 28 - or maybe 19 - and had many of the same ideas, aspirations, or hopesdreams, and that there may be specific actions that need to be taken.

The link between memorial and memory is something I've written about (sorry, no link at present - not sure where that is).  Facebook's new On This Day feature is symptomatic of our desire to memorialize our lives.  However, Facebook's new version is imperfect.  Today, we post instantly from our iPhones, and properly memorialize, but many of the earlier year Facebook memories I see in my feed are on the wrong day... I didn't post my vacation photos until I actually got back from vacation (because I used to use a camera to take pictures).

I don't mean to sound like an old coot.  But I think the medium of social media is not built for memorialization, but they try...

I'll think this through, and remember it fondly.  I think I'll tweet out a link to the post to try to keep the conversation going...

15 February 2015

Of the Beginning...

Well, this is surprising: Mes. Ahmed Farag Ali and Saury Das have mathematically done away with the necessity for the Big Bang
Source: www.fromquarktoquasars.com

My understanding is, of course, inexpert, but wildly interested.  (I do have my own working theory of the universe that I formulated in the Fall of 1999, as I was taking my Intro to Astronomy class at Luther College.  That theory remains as yet, un-disproven!).

The essential problem of modern physics has been that we had a theory called gravity (just wait until Creationists and Climate Change Deniers learn that gravity is a theory!), which works fairly well in most day-to-day situations. 

As we start to think about big things (galaxies and stars in various points in their life cycles and stuff like that), gravity stops being true a lot of the time (one example of this is explained by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity).  Also, when you start to look at very small things (sub-atomic particles like quarks, Higgs-Boson particles, protons, etc.) gravity also stops being true (which we call Quantum Mechanics).  The problem we run into is that gravity turns out to be false in very different ways with regard to the big and small stuff.

One way that we accounted for these big/little discrepancies was to theorize a singularity at the beginning of time - the Big Bang (not to be confuse with the Bing Bag, a magical vessel that emits anything from crooning melodies to doddering background vocals in a David Bowie Christmas carol when you reach into it).  I'm not quite sure as to why we thought the Big Bang was mathematically necessary (would appreciate some guidance in this area, and am trying to read up on it to better understand).

But now, we have a mathematically plausible universe that doesn't start in some spectacular explosion, before which we could have no understanding or make any predictions.  Instead, it may now be the case that the universe has simply always been. 

I'm not entirely sure yet how this new revelation, if in fact true, changes my sense of the everything.  At the very least, it would expand on the fictional Mark Twain's sentiment from the ST:TNG speech, where he bemoans a universe with only human existence on earth, a "waste of space" - if this finding holds true (at least for the time being), it seems our unique human existence would also now be a waste of time as well.

07 February 2015

Double Feature Challenge!

I'd like to issue the first ever Roman Numeral J Double Feature Challenge. 

The concept occurred to me yesterday evening as I was waiting for the bus, checking my long-lost Facebook news feed.  Jeff had posted a link to a movie imagining of moving through our solar system at light speed called "Riding Light" (by way of Huff Po).

I watched the first 10 minutes or so, loving it (though perhaps not the soundtrack), but it reminded me of something. 

Of course (once you've watched a bit of "Riding Light"), I was thinking of Michael Snow's 1967 Wavelength, which would make an excellent companion piece.  I'm not sure of the preferred order, and would accept suggestions and also highly recommend trying a side-by-side comparison.


22 November 2014

Elven Intellectualism

Re-watching The Desolation of Smaug and the elven torture scene got me thinking about Elven Intellectualism. 

The idea of alignment in D&D is fairly straightforward:
Source: http://throughThePrism.blogspot.com
  • You are either good, evil, or neutral.
  • That orientation, is determined by one of three worldviews: Law & Order (lawful); Good & Evil (chaotic); Libertarian (neutral)

The whole system is easily systematized and graphed (see right), and play follows general rules proscribed by the logic of this system.  Players generally play good (or perhaps neutral) characters, so wanton slaughter of innocents is reserved (again generally) for the monsters, and quests to save personages of historical significance, or more often to enrich PCs personally, are undertaken.

Others, and in particular Degolar, from whom I swiped this rendition of the chart, have put more thought into the concept and viability of alignment theory for socio-philosophic application.  Just search "Alignment Matrix D&D" on google image search, at the poster meme of applying alignment to fiction and real world environs is readily apparent.

I want to think instead about the historicity of alignment.  Namely, how good and evil (and law and chaos) might be affected by the passage of time. 

If you're a person who is capable of (or perhaps it's fairer to say 'in the habit of') thinking historically, or if you're an elf, who has lived through centuries and millennia, and passed time has warped notions of good and evil, law and chaos: what then might alignment mean to you individually, and socially?

Note: this is a work in progress, and will be continued (and perhaps even concluded!), but I wanted to get the thinking out their in its nascent form for consideration...

02 November 2014

Vote Happy

Election Day will soon be upon us, once again.  Milwaukee has a Socialist running for Sheriff (she seems really lovely, smart, and on the right side of history!), and a Green Party candidate for State Treasurer (and in September, his numbers were pretty okay!).

In this sad/silly era of bought & sold candidates, dangerous zealots (as well as more clown-ish zealots), and a political campaign and lobbying system that encourages corruption, a progressive looking for genuine reform options often doesn't know which way to turn.  Of course, Democrats being in charge of things is less bad than Republicans.  So, the sensible choice seems to vote for Democrats in close races, and vote more radically (Greens, Socialists, liberal Independents) when it's expedient.  The fear-mongering lessons of Ralph Nader loom large, despite the fact that they're misguided.

Nationally, there are a lot of interesting races.  That said, the US House is guaranteed to remain in Republican hands, despite the fact that more people will probably end up voting for Democrats.  Thank you gerrymandering.

Unfortunately, the same reason can't be given for why the Senate seems poised to fall into Republican hands as well.  Though it would be awesome, wouldn't it?  To re-draw the state lines to re-organize people into more culturally appropriate regions? 

  • East and West Dakota - East Dakota would be a 40 or so mile wide strip surrounding the I-29 corridor, stretching from Grand Forks all the way down to Kansas City (anything north of GF we can give to Canada).
  • Up North - the northern part of Minnesota and Wisconsin, along with the UP.
    Source: www.pastemagazine.com
  • The Middle Bit - a utopic plot of mostly rural farmland, focusing primarily on the biography of me, including Clinton, Wisconsin, stretching up north to Madison, then over to Decorah, Iowa, then up to Minneapolis.  It looks a bit like those Tetris pieces that go down one, over one, down one again (see picture, except the other one, and turned vertically).
  • Austin, Texas - Austin, Texas.
  • Yellowstone - Just a really cool state to visit.  First bear governor.
  • Iraq - I know we're mostly moved out, but it's time to start colonizing, people.

The State of Wisconsin has a useful resource for figuring out what all is going to be on your ballot

At the top of the ballot, of course, is the Mary Burke / Scott Walker race for Governor.  This one will come down to turnout, and while I'm not overly excited about Mary Burke, she's the choice.

Down the ballot a ways is our rootin'-tootin' Sheriff Clarke, running against Angela Walker.  It seems the last time the Journal Sentinel deigned to mention her in an article was August 8th, when Chris Moews was being backed against the gun-loving sheriff by Michael Bloomberg. 

14 September 2014

Thoughtless Chess

This afternoon, I invented a new game, "Thoughtless Chess".  You probably own this game already, though you may not have realized it.  The game is played on a standard chess board, with the standard chess pieces, and the pieces move exactly like they do in the normal game.

The difference, is the player.  The rules of Thoughtless Chess are few:

Source: theliftedbrow.com
  1. Of utmost importance is to realize that the object of Thoughtless Chess is not to win (nor to lose).  The object is to let the game unfold as it will, and see what happens.  There is an infinite number of possibilities for a game of chess - the goal of Thoughtless Chess is to create a random, human-generated chess match (though don't intentionally be random - see rule #2)
  2. You must make your move in a very short amount of time; and you are not permitted to plan or strategize your move (or future moves).
    • Patterns are permitted ("I feel like annihilating all of the pawns", or "I wonder how long I can go without taking a piece", etc.); any such patterns, which seem to be amounting toward a larger strategy should be called out, by any player or observer.  If that person can articulate the strategy being enacted, the player who is carrying out should desist, and will be shunned with pursed lips and shaken heads.
  3. While moves should not take time to plan, the players should be mindful of legal moves later in the game.  A player in check must make a move to get out of check.  After an initial check and un-check, however, a follow-up check is no more likely than any other eventuality (at least theoretically).
Chess theory is a long, proud tradition - The Lifted Brow published the image above as part of a lengthy investigation of the chess scene in Blade Runner (I know, you're probably saying, like I was, what chess scene in Blade Runner).  Poorly written villains use chess as a metaphor for the game of life (at least the sort of life where there is royalty and expendable little people).

Chess is a beautiful, noble game.  Players furrow their brows and stroke their chins to show how deeply they are considering their options.  Thoughtless Chess is an opportunity to experience the game itself, without the pesky mind games.