Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hidden Meanings

But like one English professor used to yell at us, "It doesn't matter if anyone meant it, it matters if it's there, and if you can see it, it must be there!"
--John Barnes, Gaudeamus

Hurricane Earl

Yes, it's headed kinda sorta more or less this way. At the moment, odds are that we'll get rain and 40mph wind and that's about it. However, just to be safe, we have stocked up on this and that, and we're watching the forecasts.
If you see news reports that parts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach have flooded, well, parts of Laskin Road can flood due to heavy fog. We're used to it.  


Took that Samsung Intensity back to the shop today. It had poor sound quality and tended to lose signal and drop calls; also, I don't like the way it handled text messages and I'm not thrilled with having to unlock the keypad every time I want to do something. So, back to the drawing board.


I made it to the Barony of Marinus fighter practice, and got the meet some of the people and to try a couple of rapiers, 37 and 43 inch lengths. They didn't have full fencing armor this time--most of the guys there were medieval fighters, with broadsword and shield--but we did a little half-speed sparring. It was tiring--those rapiers only weigh a pound or so more than a modern fencing saber, but that extra weight makes a huge difference after a while. It was also a lot of fun. Thrust, parry, riposte, diengage, remise, beat, lunge!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


On this day in 1071, the Seljuk Turks defeated the Byzantine Empire at the Battle of Manzikert, largely due to the treachery of the Byzantine second in command. The battle led directly to the decline and eventual downfall of of the Byzantine Empire, and indirectly to the Crusades; consequently, I consider it one of the most important battles in history.

This is also the date of the Battle of Crécy.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Inception has an interesting concept and is well done. The ending is ambiguous, which frustrates me--I think a story should give a sense of closure, which this didn't--but it certainly made me think about the film; we've come up with half a dozen ideas of "what really happened". I also like how the relationship with Ariadne developed, and the effects for the fight in the hotel hallway were very well done.

The Expendables was an action packed, star studded movie which accomplished nothing in particular. If you want to watch hand to hand fights, shooting, and explosions, this is the place. If you want anything else, move along. It felt like the pilot episode for a TV show.

Passage at Arms, by Glen Cook. I have never seen Das Boot, but even so, this book was transparently "Das Boot in Space". See the movie instead.

Family Trade, by Charlie Stross.  I like some of the other things Stross has done, but this was bland. If you've read Roger Zelazny's Amber books, you have the general idea, but the Amber books were more imaginative and had more vivid characters.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Writing course

Diana has signed up for a college writing course; this implies that she'll be doing writing exercises, which implies that I'll be doing writing exercises. I'm already posting some on Ficton.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


Got a new cellphone, a Samsung Intensity II, with a qwerty keyboard and calendar and lots of nifty features that my previous phone didn't have. I don't know what those features are, because they don't include a manual, just a "tips and tricks" booklet. Okay, I'm comfortable pushing buttons and exploring menus until I find what I want, but I suspect a lot of options are not just unused, but unknown to most people.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


We see people, ranging from small children to national governments, called to apologize for some wrong they've committed. The expectation is that if a penitent says he's sorry, the offended party has to forgive him (or else sue him and use  the confession as evidence, but we're not going to cover that here). We hear the insincere apology, which usually starts with "If I've offended anyone". Of course you've offended someone, else you wouldn't be called to apologize; that formula is just a way to say "I am required to do this, but I don't actually care about whether you were offended or not." I've certainly said "I'm sorry" about things for which I wasn't sorry at all, and which I meant to do again at the first opportunity. Should I be forgiven just on the strength of an insincere apology? 

So what is necessary to see if an apology is sincere, and deserves absolution? As I see it, you need the following:
  • Confession: admitting that you did it
  • Contrition: being sorry for it
  • Restitution: repairing the damage as best you can
  • Repentance: not doing it again

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Coworker: "There's a reason I surround myself with intelligent people!"
Me: "Contrast?"

Bumper Sticker

I need a bumper sticker or two. Something which reflects my personality, or at least that part which won't get me arrested. I'm not looking for "Here's a site which lists 375 of them", I want specifics. Suggestions?

Sunday, August 8, 2010


"Allies are the ones I'll conquer last."

Josh in the Club

Josh, speaking of his experiences when he and his friends in Australia went clubbing:
"Usually when someone was creeping on one of our girls, Michelle would come and get me and push me into him. I guess I was sort of a Porta-Bouncer."


On 7 October 1571, Don John of Austria led the naval contingents of the Holy League, totaling 208 ships, against the Ottoman fleet of 251 ships. The result was the most decisive naval victory since Actium, over 1500 year before. It was celebrated by Gilbert Keith Chesterton in his poem Lepanto.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


We picked up a Coleman two-burner propane grill on Thursday, and I assembled it and tried it out today. Barbecue hamburgers, mesquite chicken, and corn. I shucked the corn, drizzled a little honey on it, wrapped in a damp paper towel and aluminum foil. Grill for half an hour, turning every five minutes or so. We'll be doing that again.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kayak to the Bay

We're on the Lynnhaven River, which leads to Lynnhaven Bay and thence to the Chesapeake Bay, a distance of 4.5 miles. Josh made the trip today in a little under 2 hours.

How to become a Millionaire

"The man who invents a way to punch people over the internet will make millions."

Monday, August 2, 2010


We had a hummingbird buzz around the flowers on our back deck, briefly--she was gone by the time I got the camera. That's the first time I've seen one here.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Free zombie ecards

Just in case you need a zombie-related electronic greeting card, WrongCards.com has what you need.

Boneheaded Voters

Bryan Caplan at Reason.com on unjustified biases that voters have.

Temper Edge

Wolf Trial 4 from the Mech Warrior 2 soundtrack.