Not a particularly substantive entry for you today, friends. I’ve been fairly busy over the past week. Indeed, in many ways my summer break didn’t really begin until a couple of days ago. See, I had to attend a wedding from Wednesday to just this Monday! That’s not so bad, in and of itself, but I’m not really fond of weddings. I didn’t know most of the guests and don’t really like large gatherings anyways, and since we were in a hotel in an unfamiliar area, there was really nothing much to do besides surf the net on my laptop–no nice walking around or anything like that! The food was also just OK; at least it was free but it was nothing that great. Also, I generally dislike anything that forces me to travel via highway. Alas, we had to spend a total of 14 hours on the road, which can be (at least for me) a trying experience; I like driving well enough but not for 7 hours straight (the trip to the hotel and the trip back).
Still, it wasn’t that bad–there are at least a few pluses to highway travel. As I mentioned in this post, one nice thing about highways is that they give you an excellent view of America’s truly astonishing natural beauty. Driving from Massachusetts (where the wedding was) back home let me see some wonderful landscapes. My favorites were the huge hills covered entirely in trees. As we drove by at 60 miles per hour, their rises and falls made them seem like surging, undulating currents of a sea of bright green, itself bordered by another sea above it: The perfect, endless blue sky, broken only by a happy sun and its entourage of benign, puffy white clouds traveling across its expanse. I’m not a photographer, but I was so struck by some of the sights that I tried to take some cellphone pics from the back of the car. Here are a few:
Pretty nice, eh? So if the trip allowed me to see such beautiful sights, it couldn’t have been all bad ❤ And in any case, at least it’s over now, so no more whining! Now I can truly enjoy myself. At least for a short time before getting back to work on my dissertation ;-;
So to reward myself, here’s some stuff I got, or am planning on getting soon.
1: Backed Bloodstained on kickstarter! The developer, Koji Igarashi, has a lot of experience so it seems likely this project will turn out better than most, and even if it doesnt I’ll at least get a nice artbook for the trouble. :p
2: Put some money in my Steam wallet to prepare for the summer sale soon. 8)
3: Got some moar stuff off Amazon.com! Here’s my order:
Logitech gamepad for PCs. Needed it if I wanted to play some Dark Souls or GTA or something on a PC 😀
Floppy disk USB reader. My dad has some old floppies he has some info on :p
Cheap USB flash drive that could be hung on a keychan: Needed it 😀
I also got all 4 books in the Hyperion Cantos series, wanted to read that for ages!
I also got several books from Iain Banks’ Culture series, like Consider Phlebas, because I’ve also wanted to get to know the Culture universe for some time.
I also got some history books:
Parrot Culture, by Bruce Boehrer. I love birds and this takes a historical look at their place in Western culture, so I thought I’d give it a look.
Alan Brinkely’s The Unfinished Nation. Wanted to check out another US History text aside from A People and a Nation.
The Four Nations: A History of the United Kingdom, by Frank Welsh. Again, just a lil interested in English history 😀
That’s not all! Check out the stuff I bought for (comparatively) cheap on the Steam summer sale:
Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition |
Heroes of Steel RPG |
Dungeons: The Eye of Draconus |
Homeworld Remastered Collection |
Distant Star: Revenant Fleet |
Grave Prosperity: Redux- part 1
Most of these were cheap enough as it was, so I got them while they were even cheaper if they were Space RTSs, old school RPGs, or so cheap as to be almost free despite their probably poor quality, like Grave Prosperity. XD
Finally, here’s one last thing I’ve been doing recently: Getting involved with government! I’m somewhat shamed to admit I never participated much in politics aside from voting in presidential elections, but last night I made my voice heard by commenting on some proposed changes to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. It’s a lot of legalese, but the basic intent behind the law isn’t so bad; they want to avoid classified information on weapons from being spread all over the place, possibly harming national security. However, some of the wording of the document might restrict the ability of historians or hobbyists to discuss military technology freely. Here’s the regulation:
And here’s what I said:
“To whom it may concern,
I certainly understand the necessity for regulating the dissemination of weapons-related information online and offline. National security, after all, is something every American citizen should be keenly interested in. However, in its present form, I fear the proposed amendments to the ITAR regulations may create a chilling effect on legitimate, harmless exercise of our free-speech rights. Specifically, this paragraph seems like it excludes, or at least doesn’t mention, many legitimate weapons-related discussions:
“Information that is excluded from the definition of “defense article” in the new § 120.6(b) is not “technical data” and therefore does not require authorization prior to release into the “public domain.” This includes information that arises during or results from “fundamental research,” as described in the new § 120.49; general scientific, mathematical, or engineering principles commonly taught in schools, and information that is contained in patents.”
As currently written, only “scientific, mathematical, or engineering” related subjects “commonly taught in schools, and information that is contained in patents” have an exemption that allows them to be used without permission. However, there are many other aspects of weaponry which interest historians, archivists, and hobbyists. I think it would be a good idea to include, in addition to the scientific and mathematical exemptions, exemptions for historical and recreational purposes.”
It’s a very small change, but an important one. You need to be as specific as possible, far more so than many folks would imagine necessary, when you make a law, cause skilled but unscrupulous lawyers can extend those laws much farther than they were originally intended if their language is even a little vague. So that’s why I asked the government to add exemptions for historians as well as scientists/schoolteachers, so we’re freer to talk about technology in military history courses and stuff. 😀
Anyways, that does it for this week…I might get started on my dissertation (sorta) by the end of the weekend, so maybe next week I’ll have a dissertation update. 😀