danalwyn: (Default)
The existence of DashCon reminds me that, no matter how the internet ages, a part of it never really grows up. The unending cycle of idea -> poorly executed disaster -> complete internet overreaction -> attempting to bring everything back under control has happened now so many times that the various causes people will attempt to ride the blowback for is almost completely predictable. By now the rational people involved are probably deploying for damage control - on both sides of the argument - but it's probably going to have to burn itself out.

I'd grumble about the internet needing to grow up, but it's not like they've done it yet, and I really don't see it happening anytime soon.
danalwyn: (Default)
The real stinger for Brazil is not that they screwed up in front of the whole world, it's that they paid $14 billion for the honor of screwing up in front of their own fans. Maybe they should have let someone else get that particular honor ...
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Was the World Cup this big of a deal in the US last time around? I know that I'm geographically in a place surging with immigrants, many of whom have brought a love for the game along with them. I also know that I work in a very international environment where there is a lot of contact with other countries. But it seems that even for that the spread of World Cup fever, where the Cup is basically on display in every store and restaurant and talked about on the street, is a bit extreme.

Is this mostly near me, or has this just been a really big event even in the US?
danalwyn: (Default)
Went back to LJ's homepage for the first time in a while. I note the new look, and I've got to admit it looks better than it once did, but it doesn't seem to be doing much in the way of improving the content on the site. The problem with LJ was never really the appearance, it was that everyone on it just sort of left for a whole host of reasons. The way it looks and acts only papers over the fact that most of the non-ONTD communities are sort of dead.

Well, I guess of those two there's only one problem you can really fix. Who knows?
danalwyn: (Default)
Transcript of the practice run for the press conference in commemoration of Thailand's twelfth coup.

Three Generals sit at a table in front of the cameras in pressed green uniforms. Respectively they are LEFT, RIGHT, and CENTER

Same old, same old )
danalwyn: (Default)
Perhaps to be specific, when I said there would be no war in Ukraine I should have said there will be no western war in Ukraine. Whether there will be a long drawn-out revolt and proggle in Eastern Ukraine is still up for debate, but the West seems particularly uninvolved. Perhaps luckily, for once nobody in the West seems too interested in fighting a war on Russia's doorstop. We may be happy to encourage the Ukrainians to fight one, but we're staying out of it - at least directly.

As to what the Ukrainians and the Russians do, well, that's largely up to them.
danalwyn: (Default)
As befits the actual nature of the situation, it's now been several weeks and there's been no sign of war in Ukraine. In fact, things have gotten a little calmer, with the Russians deciding to withdraw a battalion of the 15th Motor Rifle brigade back to its home base.

The BBC article and every analyst in the world will tell you that this doesn't mean much. The Russians have about 40,000 troops surrounding Ukraine, and the withdrawal of the 500 or so troops in a motor rifle battalion isn't going to seriously affect the balance of combat power. It could just be that this was a group that was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and hence got roped into standing guard while only half-ready for war. It could be just a standard bureaucratic shuffle given significance only by coincidence.

But it adds strength to the narrative - the threat of war is over. At least in Ukraine the standoff is getting less and less tense. Despite a lot of posturing, Crimea was an easy sell, and a place Russia already controlled. The early idea of a Russian army marching lengthwise across Ukraine, laying waste to the countryside and returning the country to Soviet rule, just hasn't been panning out. Nobody seems to want WWIII today. Of course the pundits will spin it all sorts of different ways, US strength, European weakness, Russian weakness, whatever, but the truth is probably closer to inertia. It takes a lot of effort to rock the boat in this day and age - and the Russians don't seem to want to expend that effort. Neither does anyone else. Easier to pretend it never happened.

Don't worry though, I'm sure the Koreans or the Nigerians will soon provide a new place for those who missed out on their war to be all worried about.
danalwyn: (Default)
So I have to admit, I didn't get Crimea right. I was betting on an independent quasi-Abkhazia in place of Crimea, a sort of Russian puppet state, not outright annexation. Annexation is a dangerous step, since it's the first outright annexation of a major territory by a larger country that I can remember since India and Sikkim, and with even less justification. It was peaceful at least, which means that things weren't terrible but it doesn't exactly set a good precedent for an uncertain future.

Not that this is necessarily bad for the West, or even for Ukraine, but it's certainly not a good thing. A return to land-grabbing power politics could make the next few years very interesting for Central Asia, where the borders aren't very clear, although in the end it probably sows the seeds of people's destruction. It's just not going to make this next year any more comfortable.
danalwyn: (Default)
Apparently I'm in a Really, Really weird mood )

Sigh. I don't even know what I was trying to say, but I said it, and the world is probably poorer for the experience. It doesn't deserve me being grumpy at it tonight. I'll try and make it a better world ... tomorrow. I just hope it doesn't curse me in turn by making the Ukraine interesting again.
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Within twenty-four hours there may be a war in the Ukraine. Or there may not. It's hard to tell. At this point, most speculation is trash, and will rapidly become unhinged by events. What I have noticed is that, at least among the commentators I read, there is a fairly narrow window of possibilities to the only question that matters: How will this all end?

The Road We Might Take )

That being said, nobody really knows what's happening next. The current bet seems to be on some level of unpleasant, realpolitik sanity prevailing, but really? Sanity has usually been the first thing to go in these affairs, so hang onto your hats and don't trust in it too much. But still, so far Russia tries to keep things under control, so don't prepare for the end of the world quite yet.
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Every once in a while I buy used books online. It's practical, especially if you're looking to buy books that aren't very common. It's usually a good experience.

Except that one book I just bought arrived on time, intact, but with a very large "Not for Sale" sticker on the front. The previous legal owner, you see, had decided to participate in one of those programs where you leave a book lying around and get people to borrow it, read it, and then leave it somewhere else. It's a neat idea.

Except for that I've already paid money for it, because somewhere a bookseller got ahold of it. No doubt eventually I'll read through it and set it down somewhere as the previous owner intended, eventually, but the fact that I paid for it makes me grumpy. Why do I have to pay for something I'm required to set free? Grump, grump, grump, etc., etc. The universe is unfair, blah, blah, First World Problems.

In the meantime I have a book to read.
danalwyn: (Default)
So, looks like Russia isn't doing too well on that whole "Ready to host a major sports event" thing.

Anyone holding betting odds for Rio this summer?

So, snow?

Jan. 26th, 2014 07:14 pm
danalwyn: (Go vs. Kitani)
Given that the Midwest is currently being besieged by blizzard weather, I really shouldn't be complaining, but if you see any snow, could you send it this way?

From here, the California Snowpack report:

Number of Stations Reporting 106
Average snow water equivalent 1.9"
Percent of April 1 Average 7%
Percent of normal for this date 13%

So that's it, and that's where California gets its water from. We have about 7% of what we normally get in a year in the Sierra snowpack, which is where our water comes from. The wet season is halfway over. So it's going to be a very ugly year here. It seems really bad to have all the water end up on the midwest while we're about to get dried out of existence, but the weather is out to get us this year.

On Rodman

Jan. 10th, 2014 05:46 pm
danalwyn: (Default)
Realization: Dennis Rodman is representative of everything that’s wrong with American diplomacy.

Blah, blah, diplomacy, blah )
danalwyn: (Default)
There are some good things about Amazon. One of them is the reviews. Especially the reviews that are clearly there for comedic effect. Over the years Amazon has created quite a list of things they offer for sale that have been reviewed by far more people than have probably actually bought the product, which is why you get ridiculous products with thousands of reviews.

But don't take my word for it. Have a look at a handful of the most enthusiastically reviewed products on Amazon:

Examples )

So what interesting products have you found?

A Farewell

Dec. 10th, 2013 09:03 am
danalwyn: (Default)
Many people have toppled old nations. Many people have raised new ones. But few have done both without leaving a great trail of blood behind them. No eulogy is sufficient, but we say goodbye to Nelson Mandela knowing that he was one of the few people about whom we can safely say that he left the world a much better place than he found it, and knowing that we may never see his like again.
danalwyn: (Default)
Also, in things that make me grumpy, here I am being grumpy.

Surfing over to Amazon today, one can't help but notice that they have a number of Black Friday specials. And, because Amazon knows how to create a browsable web site, they've split those deals up by category. Some of which, honestly, I'm not too fond of:

Because Amazon Hates Us... )
danalwyn: (Default)
Hopefully (although statistically unlikely) none of you have or know anyone who was forced to get up early this morning and brave the madness for reasons of employment. If you do know someone you have my apologies.

I will now attempt to support the attempts of retail workers everywhere to avoid having a shitty day by staying the hell away from any commercial property so as to do my part to reduce the crowds.
danalwyn: (Default)
For those of you not paying attention to tech news this week, fabled internet and computer software veteran Winamp if finally bowing out of the stage. Once the MP3 and desktop music player of choice, Winamp aged over the years, overtaken by competition and destroyed by management (as described in this Ars Technica piece), what was once the world's best and most recognizable music player is now less than a month from going the way of the dodo. Owner and operator AOL has decided at last to pull the plug.

Yes, much to the surprise of most who remember Winamp, AOL is actually still around (I drive by their Silicon Valley office occasionally). The owner of the Huffington Post Media Group, AOL has somewhat rebranded itself into a media company, one that makes actual money (somehow), partially by selling off the remaining products and patents they accumulated during their years of actual relevancy. But one storied internet giant has decided not to postpone the demise of another, and so Winamp exits, stage left.

Well, eventually. Should you be overcome by nostalgia you still have until December 20th to download the last build.

Big Eye

Nov. 19th, 2013 07:08 pm
danalwyn: (Default)
Some pictures are stunning. Some pictures are terrifying. I find this particular composite image to be both:

It's big )


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