Alptraumhaus II: The New Neighbors

Sep. 24th, 2017 06:29 am
madfilkentist: Photo of Carl (Default)
[personal profile] madfilkentist
Yesterday afternoon I noticed I had no running water. I went outside to see if anyone was around whom I could ask about the situation. There wasn't at first, but less than a minute later a water service truck drove up. Now that's service! We got water back for a while but were told it would be off overnight. It's still off right now (early Sunday morning).

It seems like a tradition that every time someone moves into this block of buildings, the water fails. Last summer, the main pump broke not long after I moved in. A new person is moving into the unit right next to mine. I haven't met her yet, but yesterday I talked a bit with her mother, who was helping with the move. The unit also doesn't have electricity, due to a miscommunication. She didn't know who the local electrical company was. (I had to do research to find out too.) At least I was able to give her a list of the utilities her daughter would have to deal with, so she may figure it out with less effort than I did.

I'm not clear on why the water failed. Last year we had a drought, but this year had plenty of rain. I was told one unit had a dripping faucet, but can that be enough to exhaust the water supply?

The "right" to respect

Sep. 21st, 2017 07:39 am
madfilkentist: Photo of Carl (Default)
[personal profile] madfilkentist
"I am entitled to respect!" That's the cliche line of every power-hungry official. But what happens when you try to universalize that entitlement?

Erika Mantz, speaking for the University of New Hampshire, decreed, "We believe strongly in the right to free speech as recognized by the First Amendment, and we believe equally in the right of every member of our community to feel safe and respected." By putting those claims side by side and saying they're equally valid, she appears to say that "feeling respected" is a legally enforceable right.

It's logically impossible to enforce a right to feel respected for everyone. Enforcing a right requires preventing or penalizing actions which violate it. If A expresses disrespect for B, then defending B's "right" requires taking some kind of action against A. But this can reasonably make A feel disrespected. There's no way to uphold the "right" of both people to feel respected.

The right of free speech and the right to feel respected can't co-exist. If people can't speak against people who do things they don't respect, they don't have free speech. If UNH officials have a "right to feel respected," the university can and should prohibit and punish any demonstration against its policies or actions. When there's a "right to respect," it's always the people in charge who get first claim on it.

As a government institution, the University of New Hampshire is required to abide by the First Amendment. There is no Constitutional guarantee of a right to feel anything.

It's common for people to talk sloppily about rights to feelings, but UNH has gone further than most, claiming them as having equal status to Constitutional rights.

The right to "feel" safe follows the same analysis, strictly speaking. However, it's a more complicated mix, since it's easy to confuse with the legitimate right not to be endangered by people's actions, so I've left it aside.

A locked-room cat mystery

Sep. 20th, 2017 01:31 pm
madfilkentist: The Catmobile at Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society (Catmobile)
[personal profile] madfilkentist
The Spice Kittens are now up to a quartet: Ginger, Posh, Scary, and Baby. Checking Wikipedia, I see these are all Spice Girls names, but should a shelter really name a cat "Scary"?

Tanglewood Placido was adopted but Domingo wasn't, so now Domingo has to work twice as hard to make a mess of his cage. Vin Diesel was adopted, with exclamation marks after his name on the adoption board. Apparently he finally managed to be nice for a full fifteen minutes. Tanglewood (in the picture) is new and very friendly. He's officially a kitten but nearly full grown.

The excitement came afterward. When we'd finished our work, Virginia and I went to Tom's a mile away to get some stuff for the shelter. I brought it back while she continued home. When I got to the shelter, there was an animal control officer at the bathroom door.

Tiny, a very large gray cat, has been staying in the bathroom for weeks, and we've kept the door closed so she can stay away from the other cats. According to the description, she's declawed, morbidly obese, and very scared. Somehow she locked herself in the bathroom. It has a twist button lock, which isn't easy for a cat to work. You can't open the door from the inside without unlocking it, which makes it unlikely anyone locked it by accident. The officer was trying to pick the lock. I didn't stay for very long, so I don't know what they ended up doing.

Update: Virginia and I just got an email with a sharp rebuke from the director for working there so long and doing such a thorough job. I guess we'll have to remember to do a hastier job next time.

Rosh Hashanah 5778 prep

Sep. 20th, 2017 11:00 am
chanaleh: (leaves)
[personal profile] chanaleh
Overall I've been too crazed to journal, but today is weirdly slow* at work so I am taking a few minutes.
*(Edited to add: I suspected it was too good to be true. Of course the shit hit the fan on about 3 different projects as soon as I finished posting this, so, we'll hope I get out on time.)

Cards: mostly sent; I ordered 50, and carefully winnowed down my list to that number, but they actually sent me extras so I still have a dozen or so I can send (probably next week; gmar chatimah tovah!).

Honey cake: baked last night.

Challah: 4 small loaves (2 raisin, 2 plain) currently on second rise to bake later today. This year, I used the King Arthur recipe that I printed out last year but decided against for some reason. I made a double batch since it claims to make 1 9-inch round, let the dough rise overnight, and it looked beautiful this morning. Aria was super interested in the dough as I was rolling it into strands for coiling. "Cookie! Pizza! I hold it? I hold it?" I told her she'll be big enough to help me next year.

12lb. brisket in fridge, waiting to prep for Thurs afternoon. Sorry, [livejournal.com profile] ablock, I fear my brisket-recipe allegiance is permanently switched! even though the simmered-in-wine version will forever smell like the essence of Rosh Hashanah to me.

Matzah ball soup: also tomorrow (using stock from freezer)

Vegetables:
- brisket potatoes & carrots
- tzimmes (I actually found frozen diced butternut squash at Not-Our-Usual-Supermarket)
- salad

Guests: 1 (maybe 2?) Thursday night, 1 Friday night

Shul: by myself tonight (6:30pm) and tomorrow morning (9am); with Aria on Friday. She saw me put on a skirt this morning (since I'm going straight from work) and said "Mama you go shul today! I go shul!"

Still to review: Shacharit davening for first day (ack) and Haftarah. I went over the davening with the rabbi during Sunday school the last two weeks and it was OK - Yom Kippur is more direly in need of practice, but first things first.

Kittel: try on tonight, bring tomorrow morning.

Shanah tovah u'metukah!

Library irony

Sep. 18th, 2017 06:17 pm
madfilkentist: Scribe, from Wikimedia Commons (writing)
[personal profile] madfilkentist
The Nashua, New Hampshire library has a prominent "No place for hate" sign on its door and a "Banned Books Week" display inside.

There's a certain incompatibility here. It's not a library's role to decide which ideas are emotionally correct. If it isn't a place for "hate," it has to exclude materials which express that feeling. The term is intentionally slippery; people can claim anything they want about the emotional content of views they oppose, and how do you prove them wrong?

Perhaps they mean that patrons whose research goals are "hateful" have no place there. It's not the library's job to decide which kinds of study to help patrons with. Can librarians even draw conclusions from the materials people ask for? I did some web research on the AfD (a German political party whose leader has said Germans should be proud of its soldiers in WWII) earlier today. Would a Nashua librarian decide I must have a "hateful" purpose in researching the AfD and refuse to help me? Even if people really come in seeking to support bad ideas, research could be the best cure for their errors. Turning them away would only reinforce their sense of being persecuted.

Banned Books Week has long been Bland Books Week, with lists mentioning only books that no one could object to. The Nashua Library was unusually daring, with Gone with the Wind among a collection of otherwise innocuous books. There was no sign of The Anarchist's Cookbook or The Satanic Verses. If you look carefully at lists of "banned" books, what they usually mean is that someone unsuccessfully tried to get the book removed from a school library as age-inappropriate. Books that make their holder a criminal or a target of violence never are included.

Maybe that's what they mean by "No place for hate"; if possession of a book inspires hatred, the Bland Books list has no place for it.

Addendum: I was curious where and how Gone with the Wind was "banned." Several sites say that a school district in Anaheim banned it because of "the behaviors of the main character, Scarlet O’Hara, and the depiction of slaves." I don't know whether all use of the book in the schools was in fact prohibited.

However, I did find that in 2000 the Anaheim school district "removed" a biography of John Maynard Keynes partly because "it could cause harassment against students seen with it." The hooligan's veto.

How to create monsters

Sep. 15th, 2017 06:31 am
madfilkentist: Photo of Carl (Default)
[personal profile] madfilkentist
Yesterday I was reading a rather skillfully done propaganda piece. It got me to thinking about basic techniques for creating monsters — not in the Frankenstein sense, but in the Maple Street sense.

First, you need a group or category of people doing something bad. It helps if they've actually done something bad on a measurable scale, but it's not strictly required. It's enough if they could do something bad. What's important is that you can get your target audience to think of them as "the other."

Next, you need a larger group to equate with the actually bad group. The method can vary. It can be people who look like them, people who share some of their ideas, or people who are defending their rights. If all else fails, outright smears will work. This lets you inflate the threat so people see enemies everywhere.

To insure best results, you need to invoke causes and symbols that people will rally around. Patriotic causes invoked with false analogies will often serve the purpose.

Do all this, and you can accuse lots of people of being members of the seriously bad group. Best of all, anyone who questions your reasoning is automatically part of the baddies.


Keep this pattern in mind. You'll see it in lots of places, promoting lots of different campaigns.

(Argh! When did "disable auto-formatting" become the default on Dreamwidth?)

Just another manic Caturday

Sep. 13th, 2017 12:20 pm
madfilkentist: The Catmobile at Merrimack River Feline Rescue Society (Catmobile)
[personal profile] madfilkentist
The population of the kitten room was down a bit this week, with some cats adopted and not a lot of new ones. Bongo is coming down more than he used to, instead of always finding the highest places to sit. He was very hungry, and I had to bring out seconds of canned food for the free-roaming cats.

Hawkgirl, Sagittarius, Sansa, and Baratheon have been adopted. Salinger was still there, hissing at us. Placido and Domingo continue to make chaos of their cage and are very shy of people. Orchard and Belladonna are eating very little.

A sample copy of the 2018 MRFRS calendar was out for viewing, and Carl is on the January page! The caption says "World's hungriest cat."

Veni, Vidi, Filki

Sep. 13th, 2017 07:03 am
madfilkentist: Photo of Carl (Default)
[personal profile] madfilkentist
I've made a start on my book project on song transformations. Yesterday I borrowed a book on Parody in the Middle Ages from the UNH library. At the same time, I got a UNH library card, which cost me only $48 for a year's borrowing privileges. Nice deal. The book is mostly about prose parodies in Latin, but it should provide a few clues.

Yesterday evening I found the Holy Grail — with my GPS! It's a restaurant in Epping, New Hampshire, where the Seacoast Libertarian Party held the first of what hopefully will be a tradition of monthly dinners. It's a church converted into an Irish restaurant. We sat in what might have been the organ loft.

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