Aftermath

2017-01-14-15-46-35

The picture you see here is me a day after spending six days in the hospital as a result of acute pancreatitis brought on by hypertriglyceridemia of such severity that I had to have the triglycerides removed from my blood by plasmapheresis. Left unchecked, the condition could have killed me. I’m only 43.

I’m posting this picture here as both a warning and a reminder. I want to make sure I remember how much I suffered during that period, and I never want there to be any doubt in my mind that I helped do this to myself.

Whether we like it or not, we are all very good at lying to ourselves. I’ve spent the last decade or more lying to myself about my health. This outcome has been coming for a long while, but somehow, I thought I would get away with it. Somehow, I thought I could ignore what I knew was happening because it wasn’t going to happen to me.

It did.

As it turns out, I have a long road ahead of me. My body is broken, and part of fixing it is going to mean giving up on the lies. It’s time to face the truth, and the truth is as bruised and ugly as this picture.

If anyone else can learn anything from my experience, it is that it will happen. Take care of yourself now. Stop making excuses. Stop lying to yourself. Do what needs done.

DLH

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Infamy: on why never forgetting matters

via https://www.recreation.gov/showPage.do?name=landing&landing=/htm/pearlharbor/home.jsp&contractCode=NRSO&parkId=72369

The USS Arizona Memorial via Recreation.gov

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was correct when he declared that December 7th, 1941 would be a day that will live in infamy. The brutal Japanese attack on the US bases at Pearl Harbor shocked what had been just before a naive and isolationist nation into realizing the reality of the state of the world and plunged it into three and a half years of some of the most brutal warfare the world has ever known.

Yet, 75 years later, it is easy to forget the lessons Americans needed to learn from that event and to imagine lessons that should be forgotten.

The fact is that we should not remember Pearl Harbor out of some sense of xenophobia or bigotry or fear. It is easy to imagine that we should be suspect of those different from us and cast them as enemies, but if we were to do so, we would be wrong. The attack on Pearl Harbor was about far different lessons.

Instead, we should remember Pearl Harbor, and indeed all of World War Two, for what it represents about the world. The world is an unsettled, dangerous place, and it always has been. There has never been a time when the price of liberty is not eternal vigilance, and even when we are most vigilant, those who oppose us retain the ability to strike.

But, instead of despairing and fearing that reality, it should prompt us to adhere even more fully to the ideals that should define us. We should advance liberty even more. We should protect the oppressed with more zeal. We should prove to the whole world why we are a beacon rather than a blight.

It is by remembering the nature of our darkest days that we remember who we are. We must take hold of the ideals those events woke and put them into action. We must not let the darkness overcome the light. This is why we remember.

Never forget.

DLH

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Gaming for the Rest of Us: First look: Civilization VI

After about 50 hours of game play so far, I am ready to declare Civilization VI the most Civilization-like entry in the storied franchise, which means some of you will love it more than all the rest and some of you will hate it more than any of the others.

What do I mean?

Civilization VI embraces the one thing all the rest of the games in the series have wanted to be with gusto: being a grand strategy game. Let’s face it, in the end the first five games often degenerated into little more than turn-based combat games with heavy emphasis on tech research and building. Civilization VI retains those traits while also introducing a whole new level of planning that requires the player to be thinking about how to win the game starting with the first turn.

The way the game does so is by clever use of the victory conditions and city districts. The victory conditions are no longer simply matters of who accumulates the most points and can be contended from the start of the game.

More importantly, the game breaks the city out of a single tile, forcing the player to consider how to expand each city by placing districts on tiles the city controls. this fact forces the player to specialize cities from the beginning of the game.

While these elements add a whole new level of play to Civilization VI, the game is hardly perfect. The religious system is vague and brutish and makes the religious victory less enjoyable than it could be. The game is missing diplomatic and economic victories that would help balance the game play. As has been true with every version of Civilization, the diplomatic system is inscrutable and annoying. That said, keep in mind this is the vanilla version of the game, and previous versions of the game have benefited from their later expansions.

All in all, I really like what Firaxis and crew have done with Civilization VI. It’s a good game with the potential to be great, and I will stick with it to see what the future holds for it.

First look rating: 4/5

Read more at my Gaming for the Rest of Us weblog...

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Writing: My NaNoWriMo 2016 review

Or, so you wrote 50,000 words. Now what?

I am being honest when I say how easy NaNoWriMo was for me this year. Of course, saying it was easy is a relative claim, but the fact is that this latest 50,000 words came out with less struggle than I have ever experienced writing anything long or short. I suppose that means I have somehow matured as a writer, but the reality of that notion remains to be seen.

The reason I think that is because the endeavor this latest story represents only begins with the effort of NaNoWriMo. It turns out that, as a writer, I am far more like a painter adding layers to a painting than I am a sculptor carving away stone or clay. What this means is that the story I have now still needs a lot of work to be the kind of story you’d expect to see in a book.

What does that mean? Well, first, I’m going to let it just sit for a bit. That may mean several days or several weeks, but after having expended so much effort, I find that it is good to just let the story age some before I do anything else with it.

Second, I have to compile the writing I’ve done into a readable format. It turns out that I wrote the entire story as notes in Evernote. This is basically that modern equivalent of writing a story on note cards, and it gives me the advantage of being able to easily reorder scenes as I go through my first rewrite process.

Third, I will do my first edit/rewrite. I know a lot of authors like to print out and mark up copies of their rough draft, but as I’ve noted, I tend to write like a painter rather than a sculptor, so my rough draft tends to be a lot more like a very long outline than a true story. Once I’ve completed that rewrite, I will print the story out, read it through, then mark it up.

Fourth, I will take that marked draft and type the whole story back into a new document. Yes, that means I will write the entire story again, using my draft as the source. I know a lot of people wonder why I would expend that much effort, but what I have discovered is that typing the story again forces me to revisit and rethink every single word. It is the best editing tool I have ever encountered for the way I write. Depending on the story–this happens often with short fiction I write–I could end up repeating this process more than once.

Along the way, I may show my efforts to several people or groups of people to get comments on what they think about the story as it progresses. I find that it is good to get those views along the way because other people tend to notice the plot holes I’m ignoring or other issues the story might have for a reader.

Finally, once I’ve edited and rewritten, and tweaked enough, I will take the plunge to try to get the story published. I’ve never reached this step with any long fiction I’ve ever written, and that’s saying something given that I have at least four stories somewhere along the process I describe above.

So, there is a brief outline of what happens after NaNoWriMo. Hopefully, this year’s success will prove as easy to see all the way through as it was to write for the first time.

DLH

Read more at my Writing weblog...

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The least significant digit of democracy

Come November 8th, if all you’ve done is vote, you’ve done the least significant thing in democracy.

It turns out that democracy is a contact sport. Voting for someone to represent you, especially in the American system of voting, constitutes little more than an affirmation of choices a long list of other people made for you.

Let’s start with the process of voting itself. It is governed by a whole host of laws and regulations you likely had nothing to do with. Someone else determined where you vote, how you vote, and if your vote counts.

And then there’s the matter of what you’re voting for. By the time you punch that chad or push that touch screen, someone else determined who would run, whose runs would get funded, who became the front-runners, and if you didn’t vote in the primary, who is on the ballot.

So, then, how much does your vote count in the face of all that?

I am not saying voting does not matter at all, because it certainly does. Voting is a basic process of democracy. But just as watering a plant is not the only thing that keeps it alive–it needs good soil, enough sunlight, the right kind of nutrients, and a host of other things–so too voting is not the only thing that makes for a successful democracy.

I grant you that one person, by themselves, will have a hard time influencing the process, but that fact makes participation more important, not less. By participating, you can band together with like-minded people, and as your group grows, your influence grows.

And with that influence, voting day becomes far more significant, because you were part of the system that determines the outcome of all the things I have mentioned and so much more.

If, therefore, you want your vote to count the most, make November 8th a beginning rather than an end. Get out there and participate in the whole process instead of just the least significant part.

DLH

Posted in Nations, Political Freedoms, Politics, Quid Facis, United States, World Watch | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments