Miscellany

Letter to my Representatives Regarding SOPA

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In spite of being busy this morning, I took time to write letters to all of my representatives in the House and the Senate to ask them not to support SOPA. While I’m a little ashamed to admit this, I’m having trouble figuring out which side of Congress has the bill in its hands, so I sent this letter to all three reps. Hopefully whichever rep or reps has to deal with Protect-IP will consider the same points as they apply to that bill.

Dear [Representative],

I am increasingly disturbed by the SOPA bill. In addition to the ease with which it allows censorship, I am given to understand that it would also destabilize the internet as a whole.

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JET Program

What I’ve Been Up To

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The following is copy-pasted from a post I just made on the NerdFitness forums. It pretty much sums up how things have been for me for the past couple of months.

I dunno how many of you went, “Hmm… WTF happened to Crowbeak?” after I dropped off the radar, but I just wanted to let yall know that I live. During the Rebel Strength Guide contest, I got sick back-to-back with 3-4 different things. I was down for two weeks straight. Then I was finishing up college (successfully graduated!), followed by getting ready to go back to Japan when my dad died.

A lot has happened since then and I probably only remember about half of it. The first two days were awful — within four hours of my finding out about dad’s death, my cell phone battery had burned out and I had to go get a new one. My mom and brother didn’t get into town for two days. I was bombarded with decisions that had to be made that they couldn’t really help me with. Everything went pretty well and I got to kick back for the two weeks they were here. They took over because I’d have to take care of what was left after they were gone.

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Miscellany

Graduated

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Grad Cap Cupcake
Photo courtesy of clevercupcakes on Flickr.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that I haven’t updated in a while. Plans to post papers I was writing during the school year kinda fell flat. I still may post them here later. For now, I’d like to talk a bit about the school year and having graduated.

Last summer, when I decided to go back to Fairbanks and finish college ASAP, I called the academic advising center to talk about my options. I’d been a student long enough that my original course catalog had expired. However, the good news had two faces: I could use any catalog for the last seven years. Furthermore, a new (and more sane) set of Japanese Studies B.A. requirements had been pushed through in my absence. The result was that I’d be able to graduate by spring. Making it happen meant taking both of my required writing-intensive courses in the fall semester. However, I had only three classes to take (two of them 100-level) in the spring.

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Miscellany

Airplanes and Construction Equipment

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Sometimes the most remarkable things seem commonplace. I mean, when you think about it, jet travel is pretty freaking remarkable. You get in a plane, it defies the gravity of an entire planet by exploiting a loophole with air pressure, and it flies across distances that would take months or years to cross by any means of travel that has been significant for more than a centure or three. You hurtle above the earth at enough speed to kill you instantly should you bump into something, and you can only breathe because someone built you a really good tin can that has seams tight enough to hold in a decent amount of air. Hundreds of millions of man-hours of work and struggle and research, blood, sweat, tears, and lives have gone into the history of air travel, and it has totally revolutionized the face of our planet and societies.

This is an excerpt from Summer Knight by Jim Butcher. It comes from the book’s climax (89% in, according to my Kindle) and is an aside the main character makes in his first-person storytelling.

When I first read it, I had to stop and read through it a few more times. It reminds me of the wonder a child sees in the world, the curiosity that keeps scientists ticking, and my own fascination with the Netflix business envelopes. (They blow my mind with how awesome and efficient they are, by the way.) It reminds me of the little things in life, too, of those days where I pick up my camera, go for a walk, and take pictures of the randomest things.

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Miscellany

The Assumptions of Pro-Equality Arguments

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Nine years later edit (April 18, 2019): This starts off sounding bad, but marks a turning point where I started looking favorably at affirmative action. If I were to write this today, it would be phrased much differently.

More often than not, when I hear someone arguing for better equality, their reason for why equality is ideal is subjective. The words, “How would you feel if…” are often thrown about. “We want…” is the cry of people seeking to lengthen a stick of which they are firmly held at the short end. People who use such tacticts are trying to convince a majority who have never been, are not, and perhaps never will be at the low end of inequality to act in their behalf by appealing to sympathy.

But most people don’t know what it’s like to be trampled on, stuck without enough money for rent or even food, having few if any options for education that would allow them to get out from between the rock and the hard place. I know I don’t. Their appeals to my sympathy have always failed miserably in the face of my apathy. While that’s still true, my opinion on inequality has changed.

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Miscellany

The Sound of Music Rehearsals: Iz Over

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:'(

The play closed several days ago. There were a lot of crying actors during the final curtain call. I managed to refrain from crying until my first bow, and then my tear ducts refused to dry. When we took the cast bow, I got to watch one big, fat tear fall to the ground from the end of my nose. Looked pretty cool, actually. I cried again when they started dismantling the abbey and mountain.

Overall, the second weekend went better than the first, I’d say. There were fewer hitches in the performances, since we’d worked out a lot of the problems we’d had.

We also had bigger audiences — word got around. For Saturday’s matinée (during which we were competing with both a radically sunny day and the library’s Reading Rendezvous) the theatre was about 3/4 full; for the final performance, Megan and her helpers crammed extra chairs into every nook and cranny they could get away with and still had to turn 40-50 people away.

The audiences were more responsive, too, on average. For those of you who have little to no experience with performing, let me explain why that matters.

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Miscellany

The Sound of Music Rehearsals: Here We Go!

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It’s been awhile since I wrote one of these, since I’ve been busy with work, rehearsal, and school. In fact, we’re already past the first weekend of performances and moving right along into the second.

The remaining rehearsals were a time of steady improvement. We continued to do one act per day up until the last Friday before tech week, on which we ran the whole play. Saturday was a work call day; some people helped dismantle the set at the Wendy Williamson Auditorium, move it to the APU Grant Hall, and rebuild it. I went to the later work call at the TBA studio, where I helped with costumes. I learned how to add ribbon to things; as a result of my inexperience, it took me way longer to do the task I was given than I had hoped. However, I was surrounded by friends engaged in other needlework projects with whom to chat. It was a great way to end the week.

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Miscellany

Bibliorape, or The Adaptation of Books to Film

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When I watch a movie based on a book I like, I try to be fair. There are things books can do which movies are simply incapable of and vice-versa. So I try to evaluate movie adaptations with consideration for the strengths and weakness of film as a storytelling medium.

Since books can contain a lot more plot than you can successfully convey in a 1.5-2 hour movie and no one is willing to put intermissions in films these days, the plots of book to film adaptations must be boiled down. If the plot is fairly straightforward, this works. For a more epic story which takes multiple books to build to its finale, though, it can be a death sentence.

Take Harry Potter, for instance. They’re making the seventh book into two movies because they have to fill in a lot of blanks they created by cutting pertinent information out of the second through fifth books.

That said, in the past 24 hours I’ve watched Twilight: New Moon and Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Neither were good adaptations.

Spoilers below for books and movies.

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Miscellany

The Sound of Music Rehearsals: It’s Like a Giant Puzzle!

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Monday, we ran through act one. Tuesday, we ran through act two. Wednesday was a day of working on various groups’ weakest songs. Today (Thursday), Shane and Lindsey are busy working on leading man and lady stuff. Tomorrow… well, they haven’t sent out the e-mail for tomorrow yet. Rolf and Liesl are called tomorrow, for sure, which Erin announced on Tuesday.

The run through of act one went pretty well. We were mostly aware of what we were doing, and had missed the blocking of few scenes, in spite of the fact that we’ve been blocking things out of order and piecemeal. The run through of act two was less good. The only scene in act two which had been neglected was scene one… but that scene is half the act. Oops. Since it is the second act, people are also less solid on both lines and music.

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Miscellany

The Sound of Music Rehearsals: All the Nuns Do, Really, is Get Onstage and Sing

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I’ve been called to rehearsal thrice this week. The first two were just the nuns doing more parts work with Justin.

Charlotte, who plays the Mother Abbess in the show, has her secret identity as a voice instructor, so she’s been helping Justin catch things we need to fix. She pointed out on Monday that when the second sopranos are spot-on, the whole choir is spot-on.

Since I had noticed prior to that observation that if I fuck up, the rest of the section fucks up, I find myself in a position where I can drag the entire choir down. (I’m poorly skilled at blending with my section and have a strong voice, so a couple of the girls listen to me to make sure they’re on track.)

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