18 April 2015

Archer is Sexy


Archer is damn funny. If you know how people are about 'tactical' stuff then you know this hits especially close to home.

12 April 2015

Hot Jamz: Gold Dust by Galantis (Original Mix)



Four minutes of solid gold. This is my kind of jam.

Sportsing

Sports contests are best viewed with the mute button ON.

Image from the always-excellent XKCD.

09 April 2015

Keep Public Lands Public: Oppose Budget Amendment SA 838

The Senate, that august body of rich white people, recently passed a budgetary amendment that "backs support for and funding of state efforts to take over federal land". In these matters the amendments themselves can be very difficult to parse so it is easiest just to follow the money: who is supporting the bill, and why?

As it happens the bill is supported exclusively by Republicans (which is not necessarily bad), and lobbied by organizations backed by ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers (which is terrible). This has less to do with states rights than it does with Big Business wanting to cut down every last tree and drill whenever, wherever.

Let's be clear: the reason the federal government controls public land is because no one wanted it. The BLM was created because somebody had to take care of all the open, empty wild spaces so they didn't turn into wastelands or dumps. Now Big Oil and Big Kochtopus want to give the land rights to the states (who were never interested until very, very recently) so that they can buy it at discount prices and turn it into wastelands and dumps, because: fuck you John Q. Taxpayer. 

This quote from John Muir tells the story very well - they should print it on money:


'God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, leveling tempests and floods; but he cannot save them from fools'

07 April 2015

An Engine for Extracting Revenue

I have written a few posts about Ferguson, Missouri. The system there illustrates a larger problem with modern policing that we (read: you) are going to have to live with at some point.

This essay (which is fantastic and you should read) summarizes a key point that I make very often about police officers: they are not here to keep you safe. They are here to write tickets and clean up the mess. Whether that's showing up 20 minutes after some guy in my apartment complex has a violent raging meltdown (just last week!) or writing you a ticket for jaywalking it ends up being the same thing: you need to be able to avoid attracting attention from criminals AND cops, because both will treat you as an engine for extracting revenue.

It turns out that THREE-FOURTHS of Ferguson, MO had arrest warrants at any given time. And that is for civil infractions, like parking tickets. Not, you know, actual crimes (felonies or misdemeanors). If you are poor a parking ticket is a burden, but how are you going to pay it if you are in jail?

Speaking of extracting revenue, here is an illustrative pull quote from that essay on Gawker:

Obviously, this picture has almost nothing to do with anything we normally consider "justice." Still, if the image of police terrorizing and manhandling citizens over parking fines seems bizarre, it's partly because we tend to forget who and what the police actually are. The police spend very little of their time dealing with violent criminals—indeed, police sociologists report that only about 10% of the average police officer's time is devoted to criminal matters of any kind. Most of the remaining 90% is spent dealing with infractions of various administrative codes and regulations: all those rules about how and where one can eat, drink, smoke, sell, sit, walk, and drive. If two people punch each other, or even draw a knife on each other, police are unlikely to get involved. Drive down the street in a car without license plates, on the other hand, and the authorities will show up instantly, threatening all sorts of dire consequences if you don't do exactly what they tell you.

The police, then, are essentially just bureaucrats with weapons. Their main role in society is to bring the threat of physical force—even, death—into situations where it would never have been otherwise invoked, such as the enforcement of civic ordinances about the sale of untaxed cigarettes.
//

Welcome to America.

05 April 2015

Happy Easter!

//They took down my video of an enormous lizard eating a rabbit while on top of a telephone pole. Sad faces. //

Goanna: native to Australia.
Rabbits: not native to Australia.

Advantage: Goanna

01 April 2015

Makes Sense

Kids are awful. Everyone knows it, but now we have some scientific evidence.
More accurately: have had the evidence it for years (generations?), but I only recently caught up with the empirical data. 

I wonder why this lack of empathy developed, and what evolutionary advantage it confers. No wonder they love Ayn Rand so much.

31 March 2015

Hot Takes: Andy Gray is a Moron

The internet is a vast space and there is a lot of pressure to generate content. Also the barriers to entry are low - you do not need to be able to think critically. There are too many examples of this type of stupid to list but a good one caught my eye today. Take it away, Andy Gray of SI, who got worked up because the very, very rich Chicago Cubs are acting to protect their controlling interest in a well paid employee:

///
This really annoyed me [says Andy]. The MLB Players Association is livid because the Cubs are sending Kris Bryant to Triple-A for the first 10 games of the season. In doing this, it pushes Bryant's free agency back another season. The MLBPA feels this is unfair. You know what's unfair? The average salary of a MLB player in 2014 was $3.82 million while the median salary of an Army staff sergeant in 2014 was $31,521. I know Bryant has been one of the best players this spring training, but baseball players are rich beyond belief and nobody wants to hear your complaining. Rant over.
///

This logic is so reductive and stupid that it makes me wonder how this guy is able to function successfully in the wider world. How can he collect his own salary in good conscience knowing that our servicemen and -women around the world are egregiously underpaid? How can anyone!!?? :: head explodes ::

To recap: baseball team behaves unethically (but legally) to give themselves the best possible business advantage and restrict an employees earning potential. This is 'unfair' (and very often illegal, but the rules are different for MLB). But no one should complain about unfair or unethical wage-reducing practices because they make a lot of money and Army staff sergeants do not. Ugh I still can't get this to make any sense at all.

If you are in second grade and/or work in the link-dump subdivision of a media enterprise in decline then it is perfectly acceptable to draw a straight line from MLB player earnings and a low-tier professional in our armed forces. In all other instances, such as if you can think critically at a third-grade level or above, then it is not reasonable. These two things are related only because your brain is small so they have to sit in close proximity, a lonely life raft of ideas floating in a vast ocean of otherwise empty space.

30 March 2015

Been Busy, but: Cookie Monster is Still the Best

NOM NOM NOM
Pushing paper and stuff. I wrote some posts that weren't very good so then I had to start over.
In the interim, here is a GIF of what I look like when get my hands on a big plate of cookie(s).

23 March 2015

Ian the Climate Denialist Potato

MERP
A potato is a better scientist than the clowns that deny climate change. So is a kitten.

Hot Jamz: Let You Go (feat. Great Good Fine Ok) by the Chainsmokers



This came out a month ago and according to insufferable pedants that care about these kinds of things it's 'too progressive'.

Pro Tip: When someone starts talking that kind of bullshit to your best bet is to just turn up your jam, point to your ears, shrug and shake your head that you cannot hear them. Then dance your way around so you face the other direction.

Keep on keeping on, people.

Fistbump a Bald Eagle

 America.

22 March 2015

Small Sample Size: Who Did it Best?



Not much of a fan of rap music around these parts but this remix is growing on me. Sticky hook and a good mashup. And that cover image from soundcloud is dope.

I remember the original Fugees track, because although it was a 'minor hit' in the America it was a repeat offender in my Sony Discman headphones because it's a damn good song.




What about that hook though? Well, it's pretty good in the original, which came out in 1987 (!!!). I'm going to let that sink in for a minute, because that is 25 years ago. Enya is a not-even-a-little-bit-guilty pleasure at Chez GJAW. How the hook came to the Fugees is anyone's guess, but credit to their producer(?) for hearing the truth in it. Well played.


16 March 2015

Handstands Part Two: Crossover Skillz

Last week I wrote about the general benefits of practicing inversions. 
To summarize: They are good, and you should do them. 

How Do Handstands Overlap with Crossfit Skillz? 

Whoa, back up. What is a crossfit skill?

Good question. For our purposes I will define it as an athletic movement that appears frequently in crossfit workouts and requires a combination of strength and flexibility to perform efficiently. A quick trip through The Google returns many different results related to 'crossfit skills' - a partial list:
  • Wall balls
  • Squats
  • Pull ups
  • Toes to bar
  • Muscle ups
  • Double unders
  • Rope climb
  • L Sit
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Thruster
  • Snatch
  • Walking without falling over (very underrated skill)
  • Clean
  • Clean and jerk
  • Bicep curls
Just typing that list made me pumped.

Okay Then - How do Handstands Help Me Do Those Things?

All the exercises list above are easier with a strong core. Executing the complex movements (read: clean and jerk, muscle ups, snatch) requires good kinesthetic awareness AND a strong core. If only there were some way to improve my balance, core strength and kinesthetic awareness all at the same time...(see where this is going?)

A handstand builds core strength, core stability and upper body strength. It also teaches you to get comfortable in uncomfortable positions. If you work on your handstands regularly your unweighted crossfit movements (toes to bar, L sit, pull ups, etc) will see improvement first. Weighted movements will take a bit longer to show improvement but you will experience a cascade of benefits across all the exercises. Core work is good like that. 

Ditch the Training Wheels: Get Off the Wall

The wall is a training tool and the wall is a crutch. A 'handstand against the wall' is not a handstand any more than leaning against a wall is the same as standing upright unsupported. These are very much not the same things! Cast aside the crutch and learn to balance like the awesome person that you are. It's a big step but I think you are ready.

Why Work On Handstands If I Can Already Walk On My Hands?

Walking on your hands is rad! You are strong and athletic and have good kinesthetic awareness and I wish I could do that! But: Do I have good balance when I am standing upright and wobbling around like a drunk person? No. No I do not. If you have to move around then your balance needs work. Good news is you are most of the way there. A handstand hold will be easy for you to learn.

TL;DR

The better your balance is then the better you are at controlling heavy weights and your body in awkward positions (such as over your head, or during a butterfly pull up, or getting up off the ground). Want to get improve your overall fitness? Get upside down on your hands!

14 March 2015

The Reaper Man Comes for Us All: Goodbye Terry


Death and Death of Rats
Sir Terry Pratchett was my favorite author for many years. I read his books obsessively, distributed them like an evangelist. I bought the Discworld novels again and again to re-read and then give away to friends, because if only more people could be exposed to his brilliance!

In the past 5ish years my passion for his work has cooled. I grew up got older, Vimes mellowed, Corporal Carrot became Commander Carrot, and my favorite characters stopped appearing with the same regularity. I still bought and read the books, of course. But for me the classics are Small Gods, Feet of Clay, and (especially) Reaper Man.

Recently I had to call my 401(k) provider for tax information and the authentication protocol required that I identify my favorite character in literature. I had supplied this information in the distant past and had no idea what my original answer was. Complicating matters is the fact that I like to read, I read a lot, and my tastes evolve over time (see previous paragraph). There was a quiet moment on the line while I thought about it, realized the obvious answer and said,"Death." The operator paused and said, "Yes, that's what it says here. I'll get that information out to you immediately."

Terry Pratchett died on Thursday, 13 March after a battle with Alzheimers. He was 66. His stories will live on indefinitely, although I see that Reaper Man is sold out on Amazon right now. Let me know if you want to borrow my copy.

11 March 2015

Cephalopodcast: Octopus Takes His Leave



This guy took his time but he got there in the end. Also: whoa!

10 March 2015

Hot Slow Jam: Phoebe Ryan - Mine (Atlas Remix)



Feeling this jam. It just came out. It's got very few plays on soundcloud. Check it.