Best line: "That pointy triangular shape looks exactly like the heart of a salmon, which are better than people anyway." But, as a furry, Pharyngula self-identifies as a squid. And salmon eat squid! But then people eat squid, too. In fact, Google tells me that people eat salmon and squid on the same plate.
Best line: "That pointy triangular shape looks exactly like the heart of a salmon, which are better than people anyway." But, as a furry, Pharyngula self-identifies as a squid. And salmon eat squid! But then people eat squid, too. In fact, Google tells me that people eat salmon and squid on the same plate.
Our room. Day 4 dose 1 of Kid #2’s ear drops.
Landscape of Flavors (12:12pm). Lunch.
Ink and Paint (12:45pm). Single-dose DayQuil for $2.45. Kid #2 is coughing. Also, get a sandwich-cutter for $6.34 that makes white-bread sandwiches look like Mickey Mouse’s head. Our kids are too old for such foolishness (and have never attended public school), but we can buy it anyway!
Ink and Paint (12:57pm). Two Entenmann’s Apple Pies. Obviously there is no way we can eat up all the “snack” credits during this vacation, so we have to start accumulating snacks that will travel well so we can bring the excess food home.
Our room. To prepare for today, Wifey spent months making
herself a Minnie Mouse costume. Part of the costume consists of old shoes
to which she laboriously applied many coats of yellow paint. But the shoes
feel tight and today’s schedule includes massive quantities of walking and
Wifey’s knee is already feeling gimpy from previous days’ exertions, so she
decides to be prudent and not wear the special shoes that she worked so hard
Wifey insists that I wear a Haunted Mansion T-shirt. Kid #2 does not dress up at all.
Kid #1 wears her Dr. Who outfit. She also has a Winnie the Pooh fursuit (open-face) that we didn’t bring because obviously it would be too hot for Florida. But even the tweed jacket for her Who suit seems like too much for the 90° weather, so she leaves that item in our room.
Kid #1 also brought her Winnie the Pooh doll, but it spends the entire trip in her backpack and no pictures are taken of it at the park, where we had bought it as childless newlyweds in hopes of someday having a baby to give it to. Well, after a year of fertility treatments, we got our wish! Considering how many years Pooh spent as her go-everywhere favorite doll, it is in remarkably good shape.
Magic Kingdom Park (3:40pm – 12:00am). It’s Mickey’s
Not-So-Scary Halloween Party!
Regular park hours run until 7pm, while special party tickets are for 4pm to midnight. They have started to accept special tickets but then the revelers are being held in a pen until the stroke of 4. Since we have excess park tickets because of our skipped days, we decide to “waste” them by entering the park 20 minutes before everyone else in our class. The ticket collectors find this hard to believe, but they let us do it. It feels so luxurious to engage in such “conspicuous consumption”; we are spending an entire day’s ticket just to get 20 minutes of extra park time! But there is nothing else we can do with these nonrefundable nontransferable tickets. Maybe for our next trip (if there ever is a next trip), we’ll buy park tickets for only half of the hotel days.
Attractions visited today: Various trick-or-treat spots, Main Street USA photo spot (photo, 3:48pm), Confectionary (take-home, 3:57pm), Crystal Palace (dinner, missing receipt), The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Big Top Souvenir (take-home, 8:56pm; actual souvenir, 8:58pm), Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, Astro Orbiter (Kid #1 and I), Tomorrowland Transit Authority, Haunted Mansion, “Monsters’ Dance Party”, “Happy Hallowishes”, a popcorn cart (snack and souvenir, 10:47pm), Big Thunder Mountain (kids only), Aloha Isle (snack, 11:05pm), and Mickey’s “Boo-to-you” Parade (kids and parents on opposite sides).
At the Main Street USA photo spot, Wifey wants a family photo with Cinderella’s Castle as the backdrop. I suggest taking two photos with three people each, then stitching the digital photos together back home, but it seems unlikely that this would work well. A pair of other park guests who are walking by offer to take our family photo for us. Yay! So now we need a photo frame.
At Confectionary, we get 3 additional boxes of shortbread cookies imported from Scotland and shaped like Mickey’s head. Paying customers would be forking out over a dollar each for small ordinary cookies — but for “free” we’ll take them!
Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. This is totally different. You see animated characters on a big screen, but clearly there are live comics working behind the scenes at this show who are making up jokes on the fly. Periodically they shine lights and cameras on individual audience members and put these live video feeds on a big screen with funny captions below them. Only a small minority of audience members get this treatment. They point the camera at me with the notation, “What do you get when you cross a human with a chia pet?” Presumably this refers to my beard, which is a different color from my scalp hair. Unfortunately I am unable to think of a funny dance to do while the camera is on me.
The Crystal Palace buffet costs $202.88 for dinner (actual money, not on our meal plan; can’t find receipt so price taken from the final-accounting email sent by Disney after our trip is over). The food isn’t worth quite that much, but this restaurant includes meet-and-greets with various Winnie the Pooh characters. Wifey takes photos of our kids with Eeyore, Piglet, Tigger, and Pooh; she tries to get them to strike the same poses as on previous trips, but this is physically impossible because the character fursuits are the same size but our kids are now much bigger.
At The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh exit shop, we find out that Winnie The Pooh® brand honey is no longer offered, so we can’t buy it, so Wifey can’t check off this item in her giant list of “Things to do at Disney World” formed during the two years of planning. Oh well.
At Big Top Souvenir, Wifey gets two containers of cheese goldfish and a bag of pretzels. We have way more dinner-credits than we can use, so she trades one dinner for these three snacks. Big Top is one of the few in-park stores that offers this conversion feature, which is usually done at the hotel food courts. Wifey is so focused on the snacks that I have to remind her to get a fridge magnet for our collection! I say, “If this is the ‘trip of a lifetime’, shouldn’t we buy a fridge magnet?” This probably sounds rather silly to the store staff. Anyway, I select a small picture frame surrounded by “Walt Disney World 2015” with both magnet and kickstand features — only $10.60!
The Monsters’ Dance Party is very loud and has bright lights; guests dance along with cast members who are wearing fursuits. Wifey and Kid #1 join in, while Kid #2 and I sit it out.
Astro Orbiter is a kiddie ride. Kid #1 and I share a vehicle, which was fine ten years ago but quite cramped now.
As we exit from Haunted Mansion, the “Happy Hallowishes” fireworks display starts up, so we sit to watch. At one point, half the visible sky is filled with exploding fireworks! We’ve never seen anything like it.
At the popcorn stand, Wifey uses a snack credit for bottled water (another luxury, since water fountains are available but bottled water is cold and we might as well use the snack credits). She gets a souvenir bucket of popcorn for $6.00 (popcorn is a snack, but souvenir buckets aren’t; Kid #1 eats the popcorn). On one of our previous trips we got souvenir buckets which the kids then used in their sandbox at home — but they are too old for that now.
At the trick-or-treat spots, cast members give out handfuls of fun-size candy which are not as impressive as the full-size candy bars we can get with our snack credits. At one spot, the cast member greets me and Kid #2 by name (since we are wearing our 15-year-old nametags). She greets Wifey as “Minnie” due to her costume. I don’t remember what she called Kid #1, but it wasn’t “Dr. Who”. I remark to Kid #1 that Minnie Mouse is a Disney property but Dr. Who is a BBC property, which may explain why the cast member couldn’t refer to it. On at least two other occasions today, some other guest we passed by uttered the passphrase “bow ties are cool” which is a Dr. Who reference, but Kid #1 didn’t hear them or couldn’t think of a reply.
At Aloha Isle, I get pineapple juice, which is tasty but isn’t Dole Whip® which is one of the fond-memory foods that Wifey had wanted to eat on this vacation. But here we are on day 10 and she still hasn’t had any, because we’re never near the Aloha Isle when she’s hungry. There are definitely some downsides to this eat-all-the-time dining plan; also the excessive heat is suppressing our appetites. Anyway, Wifey shares some of my pineapple juice while we watch the parade, thinking that the kids are enjoying themselves on Big Thunder Mountain.
Meanwhile, the stand-by line for Big Thunder is unexpectedly long, so our children get in only one ride and don’t feel like standing in line again, but the parade route cuts off the Big Thunder/Splash Mountain area of the park, so the kids just stand there and watch the parade, then rejoin us after crossing the street becomes possible.
The “Boo-to-you” Parade is supposed to be one of Disney’s best. Ho hum. I guess we’re just not parade people. This is the first parade in 25 years that we actually sat and watched instead of avoiding at all costs. It is probably also the last.
Our room. I apply five drops of ofloxacin to Kid #2’s
ear. This is day 4, dose 2.
My wife and I will probably never again visit the Magic Kingdom for as long as we live. Our kids are all grown up now and the expected delay until grandchildren arrive is greater than our remaining life expectancy (although you never know). I has a sad. In fact, I have a sad repeatedly over the next several days. I think my first visit to the park was in 1972; Wifey’s first visit was later that decade. We just don’t have the money to bop down here without a good reason such as a grandchild or a hefty inheritance.
So you can imagine my interest in last Friday's article in the Guardian (or Grauniad as the locals call it), which is entitled "How to Tell You're Reading a Gothic Novel". I guess I'd rather see this title as "How to Tell You're Living in a Gothic Novel". Anyway, let us review their helpful hints:
1. The villain is a murderous tyrant with scary eyes
Actually not. I have had a variety of opponents in my life, most of whom did not have especially-scary eyes. One notable exception was that four-year-old kid I met when I was six. Aaaaaah! On the other paw, lots of people have commented that my eyes are scary, so maybe I'm supposed to be the villain? But I always try to be a good little monster! I have never murdered anything larger than a flounder, although I have been indirectly involved in the senseless killings of several innocent dogs (may their souls RIP in Heaven). The notches on my metaphorical pistol refer mainly to the destroyed careers of various evil-doers who were stupid enough to pick fights with me after I told them not to. Just go away and nobody will get hurt! But they wouldn't listen.
2. The heroine is a pious virginal orphan, prone to fainting.
I don't know WTF this is supposed to be talking about. What does morphine diacetate have to do with virginity? No swoons for me; Victor Frankenstein I ain't! Though sometimes I wish I could just sleep through the bad periods when there's nothing I can do about my problems. And since when are orphans known for their piety? My father is dead and I actually don't know whether my mother still lives.
3. It's set in a spooky castle or stately home.
Not exactly. But this item has sub-items, so let's review those:
3a. Built in Gothic period: No, my house dates from 1870. It's old, but not that old.
3b. In a poor state of repair: Yes, the wooden front porch is rotting and needs replacement before it collapses.
3c. In the middle of nowhere: Well, the city folks think so, but really it's only a 15-minute drive from here to Canada's Technology Triangle.
3d. Haunted/cursed: Not really. My previous house was haunted by the spirit of a little girl who was really, really unhappy that she had to move to Singapore — but I think she was gone by the time we left there, and I have no idea if the folks who bought the house from us thought we were still haunting the place (I insisted on moving to Canada, so the rest of the family got dragged along with me). My sister used to say about our parent's last house together that it was some sort of spiritual way-station because so many non-corporeal entities passed through it on their way to ¿someplace else? But really the house was just creaky and the spirits had nothing to do with that.
3e. Has a fobidden wing and/or secret passages: Yes! My house has a variety of inaccessible areas. The largest is under the mud-room, which I can shine a light into from the basement walk-out but I never see anything. So far as I know, nothing lives in there except occasionally a family of squeaky little shrews will move in for breeding season.
3f. Has a reclusive and/or sinister owner: Yes, I am left-handed.
4. There is (probably) a ghost or monster
[I like the footnote on this item that refers specifically to Southern Ontario gothic novels.]
I guess this one applies, but let's look at the subcategories:
4a. Ghost: Not currently, I think. But I was medically dead once and almost-dead another time, so maybe this life is all a dream? The final episode of Roseanne was the best!
4b. Monster: I sometimes identify as a therian, which is sort of like a furry only totally not.
4c. Witch/sorceress: I'll let my wife answer this one.
4d. Vampire: No, it's a werewolf! Werewolves are not vampires! (*spits into mike*) Is this thing on? A werewolf, I tell you‼ Sheesh.
4e. The Devil: No, although some people have claimed that I should have "666" tattooed on my forehead. But really, Arabic numerals would make no sense — it should be "DCLXVI" for proper Latin. Sic gorgiamus allos subjectatos nunc. I said that once (in English) to a lawyer who was trying to depose me.
4f. Not really a ghost at all: It was nice of them to include the footnote here about Scooby Doo, which jumped its shark in later years when the monsters were reimagined as "real" within the story universe.
5. It's set in the olden days.
Hey, we're on Internet time now. I remember the dark ages before Google, before Wikipedia, before Rule 34, when people actually had to get up and go to the TV and rotate a knob to change the channel. So, um, yeah.
6. It takes place in foreign parts.
The footnote says this applies if the story takes place in a country that is not where the author was born. So Canada counts. And, BTW, I am a citizen now!
7. The weather is always awful.
This is an exaggeration, although there were far too many days with -30° wind-chills last winter. But next year is supposed to be a monstrous El Niño, so hopefully more to my liking.
8. Anyone who isn't a white middle-class Protestant is frightening.
Yup. I'm a Jew who lives in a township full of Mennonites. Be very afraid!
9. The laws of the land are brazenly flouted.
I can't talk about this in a public post, but there are signs that the laws will be a-changing soon to be more to my liking. The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind!
10. People talk funny.
I've been here for seven years and still don't feel like I have a grip on the local accent.
11. So which gothic novels are the best?
I don't know, but not the one I'm living in — that's fer damn sure.
(p.s.: In case you're wondering, the most important sentence in this essay is the last one for point 6 above, which Wifey wanted to know why I hadn't posted yet to this journal.)
Suppose you need to convince a client to buy your company’s product, so you decide to take him on a hunting trip — and you bring along your dog. While jawboning to the client about how great the product is, in order to emphasize your company's ability to complete its projects, you shoot a duck out of the sky. The duck lands in a marsh, so your dog goes and fetches it for you. As you take the hunk of meat from the dog, you give him a small prepackaged treat and think, “What a stupid trade this dog just agreed to.” But who is really getting the better deal here?
Suppose instead that you fail to shoot any ducks, so your dog has nothing to do — yet he still gets his dinner when you go home, just like every day. The dog gets heating and air conditioning, food, vet care for his boo-boos, and an appreciative boss. He gets fed regardless of whether you end up pulling off that deal with the client. He got no worries, hakuna matata!* * * * *
In other news, I gave another lecture at that monthly programmers’ meet-up, which is sponsored by a company that I guess I’ll refer to as “ℙ” on this blog. I talked about my never-completed doctoral thesis and how it relates to my difficult-but-eventually-completed move to Canada. (I skipped over the part about how the USA is not actually a “free country” because previous meet-ups clearly indicated that these Canadians didn’t want to hear such talk about our neighbour, friend, and ally The States.) I talked about the professor that I had hoped would supervise the dissertation and how I had designed the program to match up with his personal proclivities. I showed some code and discussed how it connected to certain foundational theorems of computer science.
After my speech, a fellow I had never met before, who apparently does not work at Company ℙ, asked me if I was a professor at the local university. “No,” I replied, “I just sound like one.” He asked to see my résumé, so I showed it to him. He was apparently not expecting to see that I have spent the last seven years doing web-monkey work at Company 𝔾, so he never did talk about whatever job he had wanted to offer — which is too bad because the fellow seemed to be quite well off and I could sure use some dough.
The Company ℙ manager asked many questions about my project, but continued to avoid saying anything about possible employment. My impression was that my presentation had convinced him that I was not a suitable candidate for his own part of the company (perhaps to be called ℙℓ here?) because his group is all about the “awesome user experience” and my program clearly demonstrates that my visual-design skills are not “awesome”. Damn it, I’m a content guy, not a pretty interface guy! But apparently there are other positions accessible through the Company ℙ network, so it still seems worthwhile to go back next month.
The Company ℙ guy who’s big on Haskell wasn’t there this month. In fact, there were less than a dozen people in attendance because so many ℙℓ people were on vacation for August. But one guy announced that it was his first day on the payroll so he had brought free beer for everyone! So that was nice.* * * * *
Doesn’t anyone need a doggie to go fetch a program for them from the marsh after they’ve convinced a client to buy it? I can fetch really meaty programs and I don’t need especially-fancy treats for them! And I can and have fetched from areas of the marsh that most doggies wouldn't dare enter.
I wrote a furvey back in 2004. It was only the second furry thing I ever published, yet still today much of it rings just as true (or false) as it ever did. The main thing I would change is that the “bird” character should actually be a “blind fox” who can’t even tell what his own species is. In my Furry Fandom travels since then, many people have mentioned that I seem to have a Fox Inside® that I never talk about, and are pleased when I tell them that “Pyesetz means ‘fox’ in Russian” like somehow that explains things.
Unfortunately, I can’t just do a global search/replace to change “bird” to “fox” because then question 28 (external manifestations of furriness) would no longer make any sense — in the historical event being recounted, I actually did use an avian reproductive metaphor, not a vulpine one. I have put in approximately zero study in the ways of foxes. Did you know that fox eyes have vertical pupils like cats? It was not until this year that I finally did a Google image-search to confirm that.
The word “cat” occurs six times in the furvey. In question 21 it is what people mistakenly call me because they don’t know a fox when they see one. In question 30 it is the furry species of some random girl I once met. Whenever a cat is mentioned, it is always in the role of “Not Me“.
The word “horse” occurs only once, in question 38 (the spiritual-reincarnation animal). There is an oblique reference to a TV show called Mr. Ed that aired 50 years ago. Only his co-star Wilbur could hear Mr. Ed talk, sort of like the original Mr. Snuffleupagus on Sesame Street that only Big Bird could hear.
YouTube shows 239,000 results for the query “MR. ED”, including many complete episodes from season 3 (seasons 1 & 2 are on Hulu, which prohibits access from Canada). I am afraid to watch these old episodes, for fear that the show will not be as good as I remember. But I did dare to watch the one-minute sketch Mr. Ed and the Dodgers. Good God, those special effects were horrible! The scene of Mr. Ed sliding into second base looked positively painful. And never mind the impossible physics of Mr. Ed batting the ball with his teeth!
But maybe that was the point after all. A talking animal is ridiculous, as anyone with horse sense knows. Mr. Ed was an impossible illusion and he wanted you to know that, so you could laugh along with him at the absurdity of his existence.
*Ahem* Anyway, it was just a TV show. About a horse. Of course!
I would say "FML", but things seem to be okay at home with the wife and kids. Money is going to be a problem soon, though.
In Russian, Песец (which can be pronounced "Pyesetz") refers to a fox that's white in the winter and sort of blueish in the summer. Maybe I should pick a new name. The other Russian name I got in college was Мчить (don't even try), which perhaps I should use to refer to my weredog.
So I looked through the "Pyesetz" folder of my email. Unlike for my IRL name, I actually have a nearly-complete record of every email I have ever exchanged as "Pyesetz". And there it was: a logo for a furry conference, sent without comment from me to the TorFur mailing list. WTF??? Did I have an m-trans moment and some other personality in my head did that? And there were a bunch of other emails around that time, between me and Dan Skunk, in which I sound like I'm actually thinking about paying to attend a Furry convention — which I've never done in my life. Where's the Twilight Zone music?
The real explanation is probably much simpler. I was a newcomer in Canada and had noticed that government logos tended to have a flag over the 'a'. When Dan Skunk suggested "CanFURence" as the name for a project he was working on, I thought the logo was "obvious" so I fired up GIMP and made it, as a throwaway post to a mailing list. I thought nothing further of it — but Dan did. As to why I was considering attending, it was probably something like: "I'm in a new country, should meet people, how about a FurCon?" But I didn't go.
I like to think that I have a præternatural ability to not be there when drama happens. At university I heard several times that bad things occurred (e.g., police action) shortly after I left a keg party. So I was not there when the shit hit the fan regarding CanFURence/FurnalEquinox. Perhaps I thought it best to forget that I had ever paid any attention to that project.
It's too bad that the write-up linked above does such a piss-poor job of explaining what actually happened. People got mad at other people, but why? The world may never know.
Other interesting factoids:
- The borzoi is susceptible to OCD, which is not "obsessive compulsive disorder".
- In the anime Kuroshitsuji, there is a demon named "Sebastian". The demon was named after someone's pet borzoi. (Some people think that all were-animals are demons.)
In this comment thread, note how ‘GubmintCheese’ and I never talk about *why* we want to buy gold, like two junkies discussing slight purity differences between the heroin of different suppliers. At many bearish message boards, just mentioning gold is like shouting “Hitler!” in a room full of Godwin’s laws, but this crowd is fairly relaxed. ‘MarketSniper’ tries to get things going with a physical-versus-paper debate, but no one takes him up on it.
Also note how MarketSniper never talks to me, but only to the people who are talking to me. Exception: here, where he calls me an idiot who doesn't know “the first step in system development”. After some consideration, I have decided that MarketSniper’s comment about detrending is either bogus or exceedingly subtle; my problem is more likely to be overtuning. But he is an administrator at this board, so I try to avoid getting on his bad side.
(Do not click here unless you’re wondering WTF this all has to do with Furry. Booboo’s previous avatar was an anthropomorphized box of french fries.)
Nobody ever comments on my trading journal, although I have received two private emails from people who said they tried to comment but Blogger was too difficult. It has no followers, which is to be expected for a trading journal that isn’t making any money. But Google says my posts there now tend to get about two dozen hits each. A few months ago it was maybe half a dozen hits each. I have no idea how many commenters at SlopeOfHope realize that I have a public journal. I’ve never mentioned it there, but anyone who googles for "pyesetz" would find it soon enough.
While I have not done an intensive analysis, my initial impression is that there are too many cats and not enough dogs. The pair of turtles "going at it" are okay, but the hippo is sort of "meh". I like the gibbon(?) but then I tend to like that sort of thing. The fourth photo in the comments section shows an extremely happy dog, but I don't think the caption goes all that well.
Now you might think that the dewclaw question is easily resolved by means of a carefully-planned experiment: I need merely chase my tail a bit, take a gander at the right hindpaw, and then visualize either the dewclaw or the undisturbed fur where it would otherwise be. But one of the downsides of being a disembodied software entity (for I exist only on the Internet) is that I don't actually have any idea what I look like. To resolve this dewclaw question, I must resort to textual analysis, which is a notoriously unreliable method for ascertaining truth.⁽¹⁾ "Investigator bias" runs rampant in such situations, so the results say more about what I might *want* to look like than about the actual physical form that I don't have. ⁽¹⁾For example, regarding Origen's banishment by the early church for saying "the resurrection will be spherical", a certain Fr. George opines that your resurrected body will have whatever shape it most pleases you to imagine that it will have—which is exactly what Satan would say if the whole resurrection thing were a Damn Lie.
This post claims that "obscure flock guarding breeds" have rear dewclaws, but that doesn't sound like me, so I'll assume I don't have them. If I am to continue to assert the quoted sentence above, on the grounds that Dr. J has already concurred with it, this would have me believe that I have a nonexistent body part with more Magic than a room full of actual people. This seems rather extreme. I don't think I actually believe that.
Hence, a retraction: I do not believe that my nonexistent right-rear dewclaw has more Magic than a roomful of Potter fans. At this time I am not prepared to make a definitive statement regarding the Magic level in either of the front dewclaws or the right rear hock.
Sorry for the inconvenience. Have a nice day ☺
So, um, Objective Reality. As I’ve mentioned previously, I think that Objective Reality actually exists, but is beyond our ken. We live in a Subjective Reality that corresponds to the real world (more or less, sometimes a lot less) but is always separate from it. In contradistinction to Plato, who believed that the material world is merely a shadow of the Real World of Ideas, I believe that the objects in the universe are just exactly what they are, but our finite ideas about those objects are mere shadows of the infinite ideas that would truly describe Objective Reality. Unfortunately for our egos, our ideas about our ideas are also mere shadows of the True meta-ideas about how the universe really works. And so on, to infinity. There is just no way to think our way out of our sub-reality and into the real world.
I like this religion because it allows me to dismiss out-of-paw some of the
wacky ideas that are floating around the
Anyone who thumps his Bible as “the complete Word of God” is obviously
deluded, because the complete Word of God must be infinitely long and so
cannot be captured by any book of limited pages. There used to be a lot of
well-respected physicists who thought that Newton’s F=ma was Reality,
but of course it could only ever have been Approximation. Today, there are
probably some scientists who think that Einstein's
Another nice feature of this religion is that it explains the existence of Magic. As a professional computer programmer, I could hardly profess my Faith in any clockwork-universe philosophy that rejects Magic. How then could I explain what it is that I do all day? Arthur Clark said that “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”, which is sometimes paraphrased as "Magic is technology you don’t understand” (see Zekmalados’ comment here). To connect this with Objective Reality, I claim that “Magic is useful activity based on approximations of the laws of physics that you don’t happen to know”. Since the Real laws of physics are infinitely complicated, no one can know all of their useful approximations, so for each person there are things he can do that will be perceived by others as Magic. With a little practice, you can learn to perceive your own activities as Magic even though you know the physics approximations that make them work. Do you understand how the “quantum tunnelling” effect works? You can use a cell phone anyway, but it’s Magic to you!
I’ll admit to a certain vanity in my thoughts about Magic. I believe that I have more Magic in my right rear dewclaw than you could find in an entire conference room full of Harry Potter fans, but I realize that this belief is Approximation and some Potter fans actually do have the Talent. Still, it is a useful thought because it helps me to feel superior to the Mundanes.
Regarding E₈ and string theory: Oh dear, this post is too long already. Maybe I’ll get to those next time. Meanwhile, here’s a random disconnected link to a certain author’s thoughts on similar subjects.
Read this blog. I know the author. His post on Constructivist Angelology is light-years ahead of my own work in the field.
In an email sent to (presumably) dozens of his closest friends, the author told me that this blog would NOT focus on penguins, yet there have been three posts in the last three days on that very topic. As for hedgehogs, the Constructivist post linked above was the first of what has so far become at least five posts on marmotology. Looks like a certain author's furry/feathery tendencies are refusing to be repressed!
And therein lies the rub. The author has been bitten by the popularity bug and has taken it upon himself to try to become the best-Google-ranked blog on the subject of humility among the land beavers. Nooooo! The slippery slope to the road to Perdition! But there is still time to give him the antidote. He needs readers, real readers who really comment, not fake "readership" as provided by Google ranks. Won't you help? Because a blog is a terrible thing to waste. You can use OpenID to sign in using your LiveJournal username.
Comparing my "Friends" list with my "Mutual Friends" list, I just can't figure out what the change is.
*sigh* I need some new friends.