Tatooine Dust Levels

The subject came up in raid chat the other day, the existence of Saharan dust in the atmosphere of the Southern United States. Apparently this was news to people who haven’t lived in the South for the last twenty years. It was about twenty years ago that I first heard reference to Saharan dust drifting on the winds from Africa and landing in my lungs here in Austin.

facebook/AveryTomasco

On a more serious note, here’s NASA explaining it:

The Sahara Desert is by far Earth’s largest source of airborne dust, and the storms can arise at any time of year. In winter and spring storms, Saharan dust often ends up fertilizing the nutrient-poor soils of the Amazon rainforest. Dust storms in the summer tend to loft material higher into the atmosphere, allowing plumes to travel thousands of kilometers on high-level winds. Those summer seasonal wind patterns can carry the dust from Africa to the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Plumes of dust recently reached Florida, Texas, and other southern U.S. states in mid-May 2022.

earthobservatory.nasa.gov

This explains why I sound like a frog when I’m talking these days. My apologies.

Don’t Vendor That Trash?

There are grey items needed to buy pets now:

Here is a list of the pets and the trash items needed to buy each:

I cribbed the list from Wowhead comments here and here. Go by and upvote Sjavn and/or Hyrcyne if you found this information useful.

I would say that you can buy pets and other items with grey drops now because Blizzard is tired of people vendoring the grey (formally just trash) items. They think it is fun to mix things up a bit, haven’t you noticed? Change the colors to avoid in raids, put mobs on the roads after telling the newbs to stick to the roads, make trash useful and then have players kick themselves for auto-vendoring stuff that they pick up specifically just to vendor for it’s gold value instead of hand-sorting every single piece of trash they pick up in the game.

That number has to be in the millions of items for the average player that loots trash. I know there are a good number of players that don’t loot trash, or even all the dropped items, because I curse them out when I’m playing a toon that skins and they stop me from skinning by not looting. You can’t skin if the other player doesn’t loot.

If the game developers don’t want us just mindlessly throwing stuff away, maybe they should give us more gold directly and just cut out all the useless flavor trash. The game will be less fun that way but at least I won’t be expected to rummage through dozens of items while keeping (10k? 100k?) uncounted items and their uses in mind while doing the sorting.

Or do the reverse, sell white and blue items that seem like they should be good for something other than just vendoring, but you don’t know for sure unless you check Wowhead first. Oh, that’s just for an achievement. Okay. Like the coins in the Dalaran fountain. At least those were grey and could just be vendored without worry.

In Blizzard’s defense, these trash items are not in the current expansion of the game anyway. You would have had to keep them in your bank since classic to have had all of them and no one could or should have expected you to keep The Stoppable Force in your bank for 15 years. I know I’ve seen the Very Unlucky Rock before. That one is in Draenor. I know this because I frequently go to Wowhead to look up all kinds of useless crap. Crap like “where do I go to find the very unlucky rock that I threw away a dozen times?”

The really difficult vendor purchased pet to grind for in Keeper Ta’hult’s inventory will be the Flawless Amethyst Baubleworm. 10k pet charms? I don’t have more than 2000 pet charms across all my toons on World of Warcraft; which probably shows how little interest I’ve had in pet battling in World of Warcraft since discovering Pokémon GO more than how hard they are to get.

Based on a wowhead draft comment. 300 characters too long.

Let The World Back Into Me

This song has been haunting my dreams for a few weeks now:

spotify

At first I thought it was a brainworm, just another catchy tune that won’t go away. Now I’m beginning to suspect that this is my subconscious trying to tell me that I need to crawl back out of my shell and see if there is still a life to be had out in the wider world. A terrifying thought.

I don’t know that I can afford to let the world back into me, but I’m beginning to suspect that I really don’t have a choice in the matter.

This one too has been haunting my dreams.

spotify

I’m less mystified by what it means than what the first one means. I’m more than a little pissed at the people who have kept me locked in my house for three years. People who won’t do the basic minimum required of a good citizen. The basic minimum? Get your fucking vaccinations.

spotify

Why Not UTC?

This is a serious question for the World of Warcraft developers. Why does the calendar in the game stay on server time when the player sets their clock to follow local time? For that matter, why are the servers set to times in particular time zones?

ComputerphileThe Problem with Time & Timezones – Dec 30, 2013

Yes, yes, I know, that’s where the server is or that is time zone that Blizzard wants the player base to identify with or to play from in that region, but why should the players know or care what that time is? Why isn’t all server time set to UTC and if the players don’t want to fuck around with UTC they can set their clocks to local time and the calendar will just update to show those times?

Seems to me the platform can do the math faster and more reliably when it comes to fixing calendar times to UTC rather than having to make each player in a raid group do math each time they want to show up for a raid on time. Or have to remember that their server is in a different time zone than they are every time they look at the calendar to check raid times.

It just seems… stupid.

I’ve never understood why calendaring is treated almost like an afterthought in computers. This has been true in every OS I’ve worked with. The entire Y2K problem came about because of not thinking about the importance of time moving from the future to now to yesterday in a constant stream of increasing numbers.

It is always now on the internet, I guess. Can the calendars at least take what time it is on the player’s screen into account, please?

Apparently not.

Because a Wisconsinite telling a Virginian to meet for raid at 8 pm means two different things.

You do realize that your example completely misses the point, right? Completely, utterly exposes your abject cluelessness on the subject of calendaring and why it’s done, never mind that it skips over the fact that the two people on opposite sides of the country will see the exact same calendar with a time on an event that may or may not correspond with either players time zone and so thusly has no meaning for either of them except to cause them to show up at different times for an event that is probably at another time entirely since server times all changed when the servers were piled together.

UTC on the other hand is exactly what it says it is. Universal Time Code. That is the time everywhere that uses time as we humans have spelled it all out to be. Far from being meaningless it is the time that every clock on every server everywhere uses to extrapolate all the times for all the people who access it, even the sysadmins that dictate what the server times will be.

So again I ask, why are there server times at all in a game that is played worldwide continuously? Why isn’t there just UTC? It’s much simpler and the two players in your example will both know that the server time is incorrect for their local time (unless they live along the prime meridian) and will either change it, which the server software will then correct on the calendar times to match the set local time, or happily do the math every time they want to be on time for raid.

In either case it will be less trouble for everyone involved than the current setup which has the calendar lying about what time your events are if you change your displayed time off of server time. Again, that is almost as dumb as defending its dumbness with an example that is even dumber still. I hope I have rebutted your dumb reply. I await a blue post apologizing for the dumb and promising to fix it forthwith. Either that or the mods will consign this thread to oblivion just as they have done pretty much every other post I’ve ever written here.

Feedback on forums.blizzard.com – January 22, 2022

Step one: use UTC. Okay I’m not going to suddenly say all this advice we’ve been giving for years and years is wrong. UTC is a fine standard to base all your times off of. So use it. Don’t do something silly and change your servers’ timezones from UTC.

zachholman.com

Time Zones

In what is the most bourgeoisie example of the most bourgeoisie era, a bunch of rich, white railroad tycoons met at a fancy Chicago hotel to agree on a standard timezone so their trains would work better together. They used the new-fangled telegraph to synchronize time signals between cities.

zachholman.com

Why are there time zones? Because railroad barons told us there would be time zones and we agreed to their constraints; when what we really wanted was for work to start about two hours after we woke up, and none of us woke up before the sun back then unless someone who couldn’t sleep woke us up with their pacing back and forth.

This is a lot like asking why there is Daylight Saving Time. There is DST because there was this crazy idea about giving us more sunlight in the evenings in the Summer. We change the time back to Standard time in order to make it safer for children to get to school in the morning in the Winter, otherwise most of us have to get up before the sun and go to work and school in the dark.

Short Wave – To Be DST, Or Not To Be. That Is The Question – March 29, 2022

Resulting in a 6% rise in fatal car crashes after the time change in the Spring. Yes, you really are more groggy that first Monday morning. Go easy in traffic. It is entirely possible that the Senate got the time wrong because of dollars. Dollars given to them by lobbyists who wanted there to be more afternoon sunlight for shoppers to spend money in. This was also discussed in SGU #872. They immediately set to arguing about what time the sun comes up and why we can’t just have the sun come up at about whatever time we need to be getting up in the morning.

Now I’m even more convinced that most people really don’t understand time or how it works. I’m for just going UTC everywhere. If cities want to have city times they can do a UTC offset for their cities. That way Austin can have the sun come up bright and early at 10:00 am every morning and those crazy fucks on Wall Street can have it come up at 6:00 am as they are running to work. It’s really still just UTC and no one will care except the people who are deluded enough to think they can control what time it is. Besides, when it gets to be time not found time again (4:04) it means that I really should be asleep.

This rant is still not finished.

It’s About the Process

For her as for him, there was no end. There was process: process was all. You could go in a promising direction or you could go wrong, but you did not set out with the expectation of ever stopping anywhere. All responsibilities, all commitments thus understood took on substance and duration.

Ursula K. Le Guin – The Dispossessed

…it was joy they were both after – the completeness of being. If you evade suffering you also evade the chance of joy. Pleasure you may get, or pleasures, but you will not be fulfilled. You will not know what it is to come home.

Ursula K. Le Guin – The Dispossessed

Hainish Cycle

Featured image: sffaudio.com

Can’t Spot the Cynacism

Or sarcasm, for that matter.

I woke up with this song in my head today:

spotify

…so I started a song radio with it on Spotify to start my morning. It wasn’t an intrusive brainworm of a song because I really wanted to hear it again, and it echoed the sentiment in some dream I was having at some point last night. Dark dreams for vertigo nights.

Song radio is Spotify’s way of creating a playlist that sounds like the song that the radio is based on. This is a technology that was started by Pandora back in the dark ages of the internet. I helped craft that algorithm to some extent because I was an early adopter of Pandora and I would still be using that software if they had the sense to grandfather their founders into the for-profit system that they are today. Instead they annoyed every single one of us with advertisements placed slap in the middle of a song unless we voluntarily started paying them money every month.

I started using other music software because of Pandora’s betrayal, and those systems whose advertising policy managed not to drive me away within the first few weeks of my testing their service out stayed in my rotation. It wasn’t until discovering Spotify and its song radio that I thought I had found a new home for my music listening soul (Still trying not to think about a million dollars going to Joe Rogan. Trying and failing) no other service could figure out how to offer me songs that fit in the vernacular of what it was I wanted to hear that day.

This was also a frequent problem with disc jockeys on radio stations, understanding why a particular song appeals to a certain section of an audience. It soon became clear that Spotify didn’t understand my attraction to this particular song this morning, either. There is a persistent cynicism across pretty much everything Donald Fagan and Steely Dan ever created. They use bright upbeat tones to masque the dark cynicism of most of their lyrics. It’s a tactic that got you airplay back in the days of human disc jockeys who only selected for audio quality and didn’t listen to the message of the song itself. Or maybe they did listen that closely and they were just cynical bastards themselves who appreciated those kinds of messages.

In either case, the song radio that was created from The Goodbye Look was populated with sickly sweet love songs, most of which have not the slightest hint of cynicism in the lyrics. It makes sense when you think about the nature of the beast that compiles these lists. Computers just know what you ask them for, they don’t understand sarcasm or cynicism. Spell checkers can’t even figure out that you mean cynicism if you misspell it. No, I didn’t mean to say Cynthia you ignorant machine.

This is why I detest voice activated assistants. They just don’t understand me at all. When I mumble my voice instructions and the AI dutifully asks me “who do you want to call?” it studiously looks for a number for Ghostbusters and offers me similar sounding alternatives to dial when I give the correct response to that question. Every human born in the last 40 years knows the answer to the question is Ghostbusters, but computers will never get that. Computers pedantically just do what you tell them every single time. They don’t understand implied meanings. Conflicting emotional undertones. They have no emotions. I wonder if that is a good thing or a bad thing?

In any case, after I weeded out the Joe Jackson and the Elvis Costello songs from the list I got down to the kinds of songs I was trying to listen to and I rediscovered Dr. John and his unusual take on popular music. Rediscovered him and added that particular song to the ever-growing list of songs I know I heard at the pool as a child. The twisted-assed nature of my emotional state has been revealed to me once again. Onward through the fog.

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Pasteboard pies and paper flowers are being banished from the stage by the growth of that power of accurate observation which is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it…

George Bernard Shaw (h/t to amandaonwriting)

Earthly Amusements Triumphant

The cable truck and the Kingdom Hall.

The Kingdom Hall was across the street from our house in Leoti, Kansas (112 N St, Leoti, KS 67861. It’s a home now. Interesting fact, there are technically two locations with the same address in Leoti, one block East and one block West from 4th Street on Avenue N. One of them was probably always a house. The other was not. -ed.) The Jehovah’s Witnesses came by our house after every service to tell us the wonders of their God Jehovah and how we were all going to miss out on resurrection if we didn’t come across the street and worship with them. Didn’t join them in denying all earthly pleasures so that we could ascend to heaven after death or whatever the particulars of their belief were at the time.

I had been forced to go to the Methodist church with my grandparents for as long I as could remember as a child. I hated church and wondered at why everyone else thought that god and church were so important. Why they all seemed so happy believing this stuff that seemed so transparently fake to me. Their insistence that the beliefs weren’t fake were as terrifying as an eternity of torture in Hell was to me.

I never wanted to believe the afterlife crap. I never wanted to believe it because I have an active imagination and the idea that you could live forever in bliss or in torture, either one, scared me more than anything else these church goers said. I didn’t and still don’t want to be confined to eternal existence. Yes, I said confined. Confined to an eternal, unchanging existence.

Infinity isn’t graspable by most human minds. If it was they would all be terrified by the notion that you could be mentally present for an eternity. Time itself collapses under the requirements of accommodating eternity, infinity. Eternity/infinity never ends. Do you understand never ends? Your favorite movie watched endlessly forever? Every movie ever made through the span of millennia strung together end-to-end in a loop is still not enough. Gone everywhere, seen everything, done everything once, then what? Do it all again? How many times? Eventually everything would become boring after you’d seen or done it a hundred or a thousand or a million times, and you would have to find a way to kill yourself anyway.

I considered it a blessing and a high irony when the Kingdom Hall building was purchased by the newly created Leoti or Wichita county or Great Plains cable company. Leoti had a cable company once, believe it or not. I may not remember what the outfit was called but I do know we couldn’t afford to have cable entertainment installed and that the Jehovah’s Witnesses stopped coming by regularly after they were no longer going to church next door to us.

If Jehovah’s Witnesses are capable of self-reflection and if they thought about their behavior dispassionately, they’d understand that forcing their believers to individually proselytize to people who told them not just once but a hundred times that they didn’t want them ringing their doorbell after church; that regular, predictable torment of the non-Witnesses next door tends to make these people want to take their years of frustration at finding their Watchtower garbage littering their front porches out on believers of the same stripe. If Jehovah’s Witnesses took this real human reaction to being forced to say FUCK OFF and GET OFF MY PORCH every week for years just because the Witnesses weren’t allowed to take no for an answer, maybe they’d understand why the group seems to be so persecuted. It kind of goes both ways. Persecute us with your delusions of true belief and we will persecute you in return.

It seemed like justice delivered to me watching that cable installer’s truck coming and going from the temple that had been founded on the principle of denying Earthly pleasure in favor of an everlasting afterlife. To see those parsimonious simpletons and their wrathful, imaginary god be replaced by a very real entity offering all the available Earthly amusements for a set dollar figure; even if that dollar figure was too high for us to afford. Such is the way with worldly things, the cost is higher than you want to pay in the end.

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Matrix Resurrected

The second movie that I was willing to risk my life for (year 0, A.C. After COVID) was this one:

The Matrix Resurrections – Sep 9, 2021

The Matrix Resurrections (2021)

I have seen all the previous Matrix movies many, many times:

I love them. I have them and the Animatrix on DVD on my shelf with the other old movies that I want to be able to rewatch again and again. There is little to say about this movie that won’t be a spoiler for the movie itself. I liked it. I felt like the ending of the original three films was a little too pat, the sacrifice of the two main characters at the end of the last movie a little too predictable.

That is what this movie is about. It’s great. Go see it. I’ll be buying this one as soon as it is available for purchase, to go alongside the other installments in the series.