Saturday, March 31, 2012

I Want Big Government

[For anyone who doesn't know, I'm from the United States of America and talking about my own government.]

As someone who's only foray into opinion columns was trying to make a historical argument for higher taxes on the rich, perhaps this comes as no surprise. But there I was mostly talking about debt and investing. Here I want to talk about big government in itself.

I hear a lot of arguments against it, I don't hear nearly enough for it.  In fact, not only do we not really hear arguments for it, we don't even here people simply saying, "I want that."  Well, I want that.

Consider a very simple example. Go down to the BMV/DMV/[whatever your local version is called]. Look at the wait time. You know the reason for that? The government is too damn small. If we hired more workers then the wait time would be smaller. Hire enough workers and there would be hardly any wait time at all. If we make government bigger, dealing with government will suck significantly less.

The same could be said of the SSA or HHS or pretty much any government agency (state or federal) you can think of. Do you like waiting in line? Unless you do, the answer is a bigger government. More workers to help you out means less time spent waiting for one to become available.

Not having to wait in line for hours on end is something I'd like to think that we can all get behind, and the solution is both simple and obvious: bigger government. Each of those workers is the government. Every time one is hired that makes the government bigger. Some people don't like that. They want the government to be smaller which means that we all have to wait in longer lines whenever it should happened that we need to deal with any part of the government.

That's a rather simple example that won't exactly change the world (although hiring more people would make the employment picture better for everyone) but it's illustrative. When it comes to the number of employees available to help the people waiting in line, smaller government makes things worse, bigger government makes things better. The idea that bigger is always worse is clearly false.

What about roads? After the stimulus there was more road construction than I ever saw before in my life, but there are so many other crappy roads and they still stuck and now the stimulus is over. Right now things are made even worse than normal because the congress refuses to pass a transportation bill which means that states don't know whether the money to finish a project will be there when they need it, so they're limiting themselves to small projects. But even if things were normal, we still wouldn't be taking the roads seriously. Nor the bridges roads traverse.

There are 143,889 deficient bridges around today. (Most are in use.) Know why? The government is too damned small.

In fairness, that number is an improvement. When I was originally made aware of this the number was 149,647. Hopefully the change was a result of fixing things rather than standing by while they collapsed. Let's assume it is. That means that more than three, almost four, percent of the problem has been solved. A little over 96% remains. Or, in other words, we need a government capable of doing 25 times that much work. Right now we don't even have a government capable of doing the 3% again since that progress was made under special circumstances that have since ended. Like I said, the government is too damn small.

I want a government that can fix this.

I want a government that is so vast that when I need to deal with it I don't have to sacrifice my day to waiting in line.

I want a government that is so vast that the roads are well paved.

I want a government so vast that the bridges are not deficient.

I want a government so vast that water mains are kept in good repair.

I want a government so vast that sewers and storm drains are too.

I want a government so vast that medicine and supplements are tested to make sure they're not going to kill me.

I want a government so vast that it can regulate the banks and make sure that they never pull that shit again.

I want a government so vast that it can do the same thing to other industries.

I want a government so vast that it can catch tax cheats.

I want a government so vast that it can make sure that in this country none go hungry.

I want a government so vast that it can make it so anyone who wants to go to college or university can do so without ending up in a mountain of debt.

I want a government so vast that it can ensure that none are unable to get healthcare.

I want a government so vast that it can jumpstart work on renewable domestic energy sources so that we're energy independent.

I want a government so vast that it can create the best education system on earth.

I want a government so vast that it can make it so our power grid does not suck.

I want a government so vast that dams are inspected.

I want a government so vast that it can stop businesses from pushing around people, instead of itself being pushed around by businesses.

I want a government so vast that it can do its fucking job.

I want big government.


Now two things need to be said, the first is that I do believe there are limits to what the scope of government should be. When government tells consenting adults what they can do in their bedroom, that's going too far. When the government decides that it is more qualified than women and their doctors to say what happens to those women's vaginas, that goes too far. When the government spies without warrants, that goes too far. When the government imprisons people without trial, that goes too far.  There are definitely limits.  Many more than I just listed.

But the reason those things are problems is not because they are examples of big government, but rather because they are examples of bad government. Bad government is, by definition, bad regardless of whether it is big or small. Size has nothing to do with it.

The other thing is that what I'm talking about is expensive. In many of those cases it requires a big government just because it requires more people to be in government (for example, more dam inspectors) but in all of those cases it's big government in that it requires a government that spends the money to do that.

People will say If a certain kind of person were to actually read this they would say that this is all tax and spend liberalism.

It definitely would be taxing and spending. That's what government is. That's how it works. A government spends so that shit gets done. A government taxes so that the shit that gets done gets paid for. If you don't spend, nothing good happens. If you don't tax, you go into debt.

Good government involves taxing and spending. If it doesn't spend then it doesn't do its job since doing things costs money. If it doesn't tax then it gets deeper and deeper in debt. Tax and spend isn't an insult, it's an accurate description of how government works. It's like calling a dolphin a “swim and breathe” animal and expecting it to be insulted. No. That's how dolphins work. If they don't swim they don't accomplish much of anything and if they don't breathe they're not going to last very long.

I might have more sympathy if the people who were against “tax and spend” offered an alternative beyond “just spend” because spending without taxing in kind really isn't sustainable. If the Reagan years didn't teach them that, the Bush years should have. The debt incurred was immense.

Friday, March 30, 2012

February 2012

I don't know if doing this helps anyone, last time I think that more people viewed a post I'd never linked to than January's index.  Still, I like the idea of having a means of chronological navigation that falls between the ones that came with the blog.  (Those being the history on the sidebar which only tells you the title of the post, and the blog itself in which you're faced with entire posts.)  So, here's everything from February, acompanied by actual descriptions of what it all is.

General Stories:
The Mermaid War: Initial thoughts and brainstorming - The Bronze age collapse represented the end of of almost every existing civilization, what little survived barely did so having been nearly destroyed.  One of the only clues are references to the "Sea Peoples".  Clearly, mermaids did it.  But what does that mean?  And how do mermaids fight on land?  Were they steampunk Atlantians?  Nereids led by Thetis enraged at the loss of her son?  Did they have tentacles?
Kicked out of magic land ending in general, and Narnia in particular - Just a bit about the ending in which one saves a strange and wonderful land and is then forced to return to earth, and how Narnia's ending might have avoided that.
Dreamer's Flight - Story idea - You know how people make replicas of the bridge of the enterprise or whatnot?  Basically a story around the idea that someone did that with a firefly from Firefly, and then, in order to escape something, people actually used it to fly away.
Who, Whom, and Wings - I bumped into a writing prompt in which you were to have a strange patient at , amoung other options, a vet and use "Who" and "Whom" correctly.
Twister Rewrites - My way is better.  Just sayin'.
Reader self insert character meeting a traitor alone - In response to a couple of unrelated conversations I wrote this snippet in which someone who finds themselves transported into a book they're familiar with confronts a traitor alone and unarmed.

General Twilight based stuff:
Bella's mother is not like a lobster - Bella describes her mother.
Prattle - How do you know this isn't what Jessica is saying?  You don't.  You don't know because Bella doesn't pay attention.
On Moneyball and Breaking Dawn - I saw the two placed side by side, I compared what I know of them.
Masquerade Burlesque: Explanation for using a Truck as an Umbrella - "Masquerade Burlesque" is the term that's been thought up for the idea suggested here.  This is Alice explaining why she carried the truck to someone who isn't on the game.

Edith and Ben stuff:
Not Paying Attention - Sometimes Ben takes in as little of what Jesse says as Bella does of what Jessica says, but the reason is different.
Save Yourself - Given the option, Edith would rather place herself at greater risk if it meant less risk to Ben, and Ben would rather place himself at greater risk if it meant less risk to Edith.  This can lead to disagreements.
Words, Music, and a Trip to the Nurse in the Middle - Edith walks Ben to the Nurse's office, they talk about words like whither and whence.  Ben meets with the Nurse.  Edith gives him a ride home and they talk about music.
Erica and Scraped Hands - Erica notices that Ben has scraped up his hands.
Charlize tells Ben about the Truck - from earlier in the story than the rest, this is when Ben finds out that his mother bought him a truck.
Metapost: Some thoughts on Rape - I'm not putting rape in the story, but Edith has spent more than a lifetime hearing thoughts, she's got to have experience with it, and I've thought about how she deals with it.

Snarky Twilight stuff:
Post Nurse Parking Lot Part 1 - Edward is supposed to grab Bella by the clothes and drag her across a parking lot, Bella goes off script.
Post Nurse Parking Lot Part 2 - The immediately following scene, in which Bella explains to Edward that she really, truly, does not have to put up with his crap.
Discovery of the Tardis Truck - One of many, many things that happened to Bella, and her truck, in the lack of time between the two preceding scenes.
Lauren, Bella, and the Truck - Strangest thing, if you decide to make a truck into a Tardis, you quickly find uses for it.  Anyway, Lauren got ripped off (as related only in the official illustrated guide) and it seemed like she could use some help getting back on her feet. (Takes place during New Moon.)
Lauren, Bella, and the Bank Job - Did I mention that Lauren was ripped off for a lot of money.  About 30% of the median annual household income?  How is she going to get that back?  Bella has the obvious answer: Rob a bank.  (Likewise takes place during New Moon.)
Alice and the Truck - Alice was supposed to take the truck to Bella after Edward compelled and coerced Bella into his car.  Bella was not compelled, so Alice comes by to ask if she can take the truck to to Bella anyway.

From my slow trek through .hack//Sign:
Episode 1:
 Meeting More People - Tsukasa plays wrong for fun, Bear, BT, and Subaru make their first appearances
 Something is Wrong Here - Tsukasa realizes he can't log out, a conversation between Mimiru and him goes very wrong.
 In which I argue with a disembodied voice - Tsukasa reflects on his situation, a disembodied voice speaks, I point out that everything she says here is false, the Guardian shows up and does the impossible, Tsukasa comes to terms with being unable to log out, and we get our first glimpse of the real world.
Why Me? - A general post, not tied to any specific thing in the show, about why Tsukasa was chosen
Episode 2:
 Responsibility - Bear and Mimiru talk about Tsukasa, I talk about responsibility and how their conversation relates to that.

From my slow trek through Deus Ex:
Training Part Seven: Killing people with Sheep - Working my way ever so slowly through Deus Ex's training mission, I learn to use explosives.

A Poem My Dad Wrote:
John, Pete, and the Elephant (Difference between Man and Elephant)

Other stuff:
Does this exist? (Text Analysis and Manipulation Software) - Apparently not.  I asked about several different things, one was a morphological search and replace (So if you wanted to replace every instance of swim with walk it would automatically replace "swam" with "walked", "have swum" with "have walked", and so on.)  Another was software to identify what nouns modifiers went with so you could collect every adjective used to modify, say, Chloe.  Another was pronoun matching, and this is starting to be an overlong description, so I'll stop now.
I have a headache, also a cat, the two are unrelated - Some of the stuff going on at the Slacktiverse was stressful, I shared a picture of my cat.
Concerning myself, my lack of job, and my mental state - About how things are for me, dealing with the effects of depression.
If I had 4,000 dollars - But I don't.  So I will not be going to Greece and will not earn college credit from Harvard.  Oddly, a not insignificant number of people run searches for 4000 dollars.  I have no idea why, but I see them in the traffic sources.
In Loving Memory of My Camera - I lost my camera.  The poor thing.
What I've been doing for the past week - After a week without posts, I tried to explain what I was doing, down the products I was using to make the plastic pieces for the Rubik's cube like puzzles I was making, without specifically saying what the final outcome was intended to be.  I still haven't finished, by the way.

Blog Business:
Now you can give me money - See the donate button on the upper right side?  That's basically all that post was about.

I include this only for reasons of completeness because it is no longer relevant:
If you're going to buy Twilight, now is the time - There was a sale, it's over now.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

A pawn makes all the difference

[This is basically me trying to think of ways that you can have an ordinary person go to a strange and wonderful world and end up being an integral part of saving the day without it being, "People from here are the most awesome thing ever."]

[One of the things that main character had with him when he was transported to strange and wonderful world in need of saving was a chess set.  He's not actually good at playing, but he likes it anyway.  After explaining the rules, and a bit of European history (once you say en passant is French you have to explain what "French" means) he and a native play a game.]

And then, like that, the game was over. It hadn't actually ended yet, but it was clear I'd lost. After a series of checks pushed my king across the board, I made a stupid mistake. I blocked her queen with my rook, I figured either she'd have to back up and give me some breathing room, or she'd take the rook sacrificing her queen in the process and maybe, just maybe, I could use the loss of her queen to pull off a draw.

Which would all be well and good if not for the fact that the only thing protecting the rook was my king, and as soon as I moved it I realized it was threatened from two different directions. She could take the rook with her queen and put me in instant checkmate, or she could take it with a bishop and toy with me a bit. Either way I'd lost.

“It's not fair,” I said.

“What's not fair?”

“That this is your first game of chess.  It's not fair that you're already so much better than me.”

She seemed confused, “Are you considered a very good chess player by the standards of your world?”

“No. I'm considered a horrible chess player by the standards of my world. But I'd like to think that I'm good by the standards of people who have never played the game before.”

She smiled, “I have my strengths, you have yours.”

And suddenly all of my anxieties came pouring out. “No. I don't. I don't have strengths. I'm nothing. I'm no one. I'm...” I wasn't sure what to say and then I snatched a pawn from the pile of pieces she had captures, “I'm this. This is me. You're acting like I'm going to make some huge difference to this world but I'm not that kind of person. I don't have any strengths. I'm just a pawn, except I don't promote when I get to the other side of the board.”

“What do you do?”

“I don't know. Hang my head and walk home maybe.”

She held out her hand. “May I see you?” I put the pawn in her hand. She looked it over. Then turned her attention back to the board. “Let me ask you something, who is going to win?”

“You are.”

She put the pawn on the board, threatening her queen and guarding my rook. “Now who is?”

Whether she took the rook with the queen or the bishop I'd have her queen, and I'd have it with my king still against the side of the board, without her queen threatening it that was actually a pretty safe space, she'd have to shuffle some pieces to put me in check again so my position would be stronger than if I'd been able to capture with my king like I'd intended and from there... I cut off that line of reasoning. She wouldn't risk her queen. At first I thought that she'd just use the queen to take the pawn and push everything a move or two down the line, but then I realized that the pawn was protected.

I'd given up on the knight a while back.  I'd actually tried to trade it for another piece and she hadn't taken the bait, the trade was long since made impossible, and she could take it whenever she wanted to with impunity, and just about everywhere it could move would lead to immediate capture, and nowhere it could move was particularly useful anyway.  But now one of those places had a pawn in it.

If she wanted to protect her queen she'd have to retreat, and her pieces cluttered up the board, there were only so many places she could go, and none of them set up for an immediate attack, in fact... I looked at where my few remaining pieces were. Her king was boxed in by several of her own pieces, her position wasn't really all that good. The only thing that had stopped me from exploiting if before was being in check every damn move leading up to that point. If I wasn't then...

I thought about every move she could make. I closed my eyes. I opened them again. I looked at the board in silence. And finally I answered her question of who as going to win, “I am.”

She tapped the pawn, “You made all the difference. Because right at this moment, you're," she tapped the pawn again, "the most important piece in the field. It doesn't matter if you're not the strongest, it doesn't matter that you're not the most experienced, or the most skilled. It doesn't matter that half the time you don't know what you're doing.”

“More than half the time,” I said.

“You're in the right place, at the right time, and more than that you're completely unexpected. No one's plans included you being here. No one's strategy is designed to cope with you. The other side has been factoring me into their plans since I was four years old, and we've been paying as much attention to them. But you, you've just been dropped on the board in the middle of the endgame.

“This is you,” she said, again gesturing to the pawn, “And you can change everything.”

I thought maybe she was taking the pawn metaphor too far. Maybe I underestimated the pawn, but that in no way meant that I was underestimating myself. Just because a pawn wasn't useless didn't mean that I wasn't.

“Unless, that is,” she said, “you'd rather hang your head and walk home.”


Family Meeting

[Trigger warnings for the usual: stress, depression, anxiety and whatnot. Also for hypothetical self harm.]


I want to scream. I want to shout. I want to swear and rant and rave.

I want to cry.

I want to break something, hurt someone, thrash things, throw things, knock them over. I want to destroy something.

I want to curl up in a ball and have the world go away.

I more than anything I want to be alone. I want this all to end. I want to beg for it to stop.

I think about how much less painful it would be to be suffering a beating. I've been beaten before. Years ago, as a child, by other school children. Nothing serious, it would have been in elementary or middle school (or both), children that age are not known for their tendency to give severe beatings. I'm not saying that they can't, I'm sure they have. But not to me. My story is rather mild in many ways, the world abounds in worse.

I've never been beaten with a stick. I imagine that would also be more comfortable than this.

I imagine banging my head against a wall. Seems like it would be a step up.

I've never been suicidal. Don't understand the mindset, doubt I ever will. I wonder if things like this drive people to suicide. An outside observer would assume not, all that's happening is talking, not even overtly hostile talking, but the pain is there, and if someone didn't want to deal with the pain, and something like this happened to them a lot... I don't know. I've never understood the mindset. My wondering goes nowhere.

I think the words, "Fucking God," again and again. Sometimes it becomes more than a thought, the mumble on the edge that divides thought from speech, I hope no one hears me.

I want to scream, I want to cry, I want to shout, I want to beg. I stay silent.

The entire time a dog is barking outside. The dogs were put out because when they were in the house they insisted on playing, it was an impossible distraction. Early on I bring the barking dog in. Immediately the other starts barking. We don't have a place to put her, we're in the room she would be put in and she doesn't do well when people are in the room. She barks the entire time, every bark hits me like a blow, I wonder if the neighbors will hear.

Years before, the police came by to say we had to stop our dog from barking when our dog hadn't been barking. I almost wish they would come by now, when we're actually guilty. At least it would be a break.

The barking occasionally pauses when the dog gets up on her hind legs and pounds on the door. At another time I'd make her stop that, and the barking, as quickly as possible. Now I don't have the opportunity, I have no choice but to listen. I want to scream, I want to cry, I want to close my eyes and have the world disappear. I want it all to end. I want to be left alone.

This should be my second to last day skiing, but the snow went away, it was cancelled. Not replaced with anything. I've run out of positive in my life. All hope died long ago.

I want to scream, I want to cry.

It goes on. And on. And on.

Please for the love of fucking God can this all just end?

I don't actually think God is fucking.

Not that God's sex life is any of my business.

I consider that there's a reason my family broke up.

Every word lands like an impact, perhaps not exactly a punch, but something that hurts. Not a great pain, any given one would be easy to shrug off, but they all add up. They come constantly and show no signs of stopping. Almost all of it stuff that didn't need to be said, or maybe it did need to be said but now it has been said several times already so why the fuck can't this all just stop? I know from experience that trying to get an answer to that question just results in things getting worse.

I want to scream. I want to swear. I want to rant. I want to rave. I want to cry. I want to curl up in a ball and cease all contact with the outside world. I want this all to stop. I want it to end.

I didn't ask for this. I want it to go away. I don't care if it's necessary, just please let it stop.


Also, it all started when I was four words into the fourth sentence of a fiction fragment that I was really liking thinking about and couldn't wait to get down. That should be the next post, but there's no way it will turn out as it should have with this in the middle.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

.hack//Sign Index

.hack//Sign, pronounced, "Dot hack sign," is an anime that I very much like and have started a series of posts slowly watching it and commenting on more or less whatever comes to mind.  The process is, and hopefully the results are, somewhat less boring than it sounds.

It is the story of Tsukasa, a depressed teenager who finds himself unable to log out of an online game.  It is much, much less boring than it sounds.

I have the series in six volumes which I bought as limited* editions when they first came to DVD.  It looks like the complete series, less a bonus episode that comes only with the limited edition version of volume six, is now available in a single set.  I highly recommend getting it, either in that set or in separate volumes like I did (links to those below).

And now I get to the index part of this index:


Before we get started - Just some general information on the series and the setting.

Volume 1: Login
(Limited Edition - Normal Edition)
Episode 1: Roleplay
Before the first words are spoken - I talk about the way non verbal vocalizations are used in the series, and why it should be impossible for Tsukasa to be feeling what he is feeling.  Also the possibility of happy endings.
Welcome to the world - Tsukasa meets Mimiru and the Crimson Knights.  I discuss Tsukasa's fear of people, the role of destiny in meetings, translation problems, and the way Tsukasa and Mimiru's different perspectives leave them thinking and talking past each other.
Meeting More people - Tsukasa meets Bear, the viewer meets BT, and Subaru.  I discuss breaking games for fun and stress relief.
Something is wrong here - Tsukasa, after his second attempt, realizes that he can't log out.  He and Mimiru talk and it goes very wrong.  I discuss hurting people without knowing it, and compare what happens to Gibbs-smacking someone because you thought you were in NCIS (where that's reasonable) when you're really in real life (where it's abuse.)
In which I argue with a disembodied voice - We meet the main antagonist, whom I call Disembodied Voice Lady (DVL), and she acts like she isn't the antagonist.  I argue with her.  Also a hint of metaphysics, Tsukasa accepting his situation, the introduction of the Guardian, and what Tsukasa looks like in the real world.  And why I call Tsukasa "he".

Why Me - I tackle the question of why Tsukasa was chosen.  It involves discussion of depression and abuse and a brief comparison to Bella Swan and Harry Potter.  (Note that this isn't actually tied to a specific episode.)

Episode 2: Guardian
Responsibility - Mimiru and Bear talk about Tsukasa, I talk about Mimiru and Bear.  Specifically I talk about how they approach the question of responsibility.  I bring up the ethics 101 question about a drowning man.
Why you play - Subaru and the Crimson Knights attempt to deal with the situation even though they don't know what the situation is, I discuss the line between not dwelling on the past and not learning from the past.  We meet Sora, I discuss open betrayal vs. unacknowledged betrayal.  I also bring up why people play, and how the Crimson Knights are doing with their goals.  Tuskasa meets Macha, and I talk about the desire for isolation to the exclusion of happiness, why .hack//Sign is better than Twilight, and stuff.
Metaphysics - Bear, BT, and Mimiru get together.  Mimiru asks a question which BT addresses with simple physics and practical concerns.  Bear addresses it with metaphysics and comes to the opposite conclusion.  I discuss metaphysics.  Also, we meet Aura.  She's asleep.
Just to see me fall - DVL gives Tsukasa some good advice, which is odd because she wants him hurt.  I discuss this in terms of being unable to fall when already down: DVL has no choice but to build Tsukasa up if she wants him to come crashing back down.
Six impossible things - I comment on the fact that people actually notice that Tsukasa is depressed, Bear, Mimiru and Tsukasa meet and it goes very badly.

Episode 3: Folklore
What Just happened? - Subaru and the Silver Knight disagree on the true purpose of the Crimson Knights, BT and Bear discuss the impossibility of what happened without saying what it was, and then turn their attention to folklore.
Kinds of Power - I talk about the effects being the leader of the Crimson Knights has had on Subaru, Subaru and Sora meet for the first time, and we finally learn the name of the object BT and Bear were discussing.
Can't Give Up - Mimiru decides to give up and forget about everything that's happened so far, the decision won't stick.
Color My World - We get our first glimpse into Tsukasa's past, get hints of what DVL wants from Tsukasa and how that relates to Aura, and the beginning of Tsukasa's short lived carefree period.  Also a glimpse of what Mimiru does when not preoccupied by people whose consciousnesses are trapped in videogames.
These points of data make a beautiful line - Sora comes back to Mac Anu with Subaru prompting the Silver Knight to ask for an explanation, there's some discussion of the larger flow of events, I talk about how Subaru is low on data and casting out for more, and some discussion of how the series fits in with the videogames and such.
How not to respond to a depressed kid's first success - Tsukasa appears to have the Guardian under control and is downright happy about it, Mimiru gets a meeting request from Tsukasa but passes it off to Bear, the meeting goes badly, and Tsukasa leaves before Mimiru can change her mind about not showing up.
Let's all get together - Bear calls together himself, Mimiru, BT, Sora, Subaru, and the Silver Knight.  It gives us some insight into the Silver Knight's personality, the CC Corp's respect for player confidentiality  and the different goals of Bear and the Silver Knight.
What Happened - During the meeting Bear explains what went down at the end of Episode 2, and BT finally learns the name of the item she's taken an interest in.

Episode 4: Wanted
Rumors, truth, and digital ducks - Tuskasa's new found freedom has caused rumors to spring up about him, which noticeably troubles Mimiru.  Bear and Subaru meet after Subaru learns that Tsukasa has been logged in continuously for ten days.  Subaru's interest in Tsukasa begins to shift.
It's all ice cream and lollipops... and dead people - Tsukasa seems to have some doubts about the whole "Imbue the girl with your own color" thing (see "Color my world" above) DVL makes an impossible promise, Tsukasa calls her on the impossibility, DVL takes umbrage and then claims an identity that's just ... wrong.
Bad Therapy - Mimiru is feeling down about the situation surrounding Tsukasa, in Bear's place BT shows up to be talked to.
Information and Instinct - BT and Mimiru talk to Sora.
Boggled Minds - Subaru and the Silver Knight discuss what should be done and what can be done and we get mention of how the system administration is taking things.

There was a giant gap here because... just because.
I wrote a sort of theme post called Why .hack//Sign Matters which was originally supposed to be why it matters in general but turned out to be much more of why it matters to me.
To help people get back into things I made a post called: "The Story So Far," which came in a text only version and one with images:

Sora's Plan - The long awaited return to regularly scheduled programming.  Sora presents Subaru and the Silver Knight with a plan on what to do regarding Tsukasa.

Volume 2: Outcast
(Limited Edition - Normal Edition)

Volume 3: Gestalt
(Limited Edition - Normal Edition)

Volume 4: Omnipotence
(Limited Edition - Normal Edition)

Volume 5: Uncovered
(Limited Edition - Normal Edition)

Volume 6: Terminus
(Limited Edition - Normal Edition)


*You're probably wondering what makes the limited editions different.  Or maybe you're wondering how limited they can be if they're still on Amazon.  I can't answer that, but I can address the first thing.

The limited editions come with stuff.  Volumes 1 through 4 come with sound track CDs** one through four.  Volume 5 comes with a box to put those CDs in (which seems like the least valuble extra, though I have been using mine for years) and Volume 6 comes with an extra episode.  (Beyond the two bonus episodes that come with the ordinary Volume 6.)

In addition to the soundtrack CD, the limited edition of the first volume comes with a stuffed animal, a t-shirt, a box to put these things in, postcards, stickers, and a demo CD for the first PlayStation 2 game.

** These are, in order:
.hack//Sign Original Soundtrack 1 - Exactly what it sounds like.
.hack//Sign Original Soundtrack 2 - Again, what it sounds like.
.hack//Liminality Original Soundtrack - I suddenly feel a lot less insightful for figuring out that something was a liminal space.  Anyway, .hack//Liminality was an OVA relased alongside the PS2 games and I would love to provide a link to it, but it looks like the only way to get it is to buy the four games. (One, Two, Three, Four.)  I've never seen it.  I do know that at least one of the songs on this disc is used in .hack//Sign.
4 .hack//Extra Soundtrack - Some songs from .hack//Sign that didn't make it onto the first two discs, as well as some alternate versions of songs that did.  Also several bridges.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Things I don't understand

The weather is seriously borked.  If you don't believe me, I give you this article.  (Via Fred Clark.)  It's going to fuck things up severely.  From ticks spreading disease to an early thaw meaning an increased risk of forest fires to drought, to severe weather, to the fact that a couple days ago the lodge I was supposed to stay at while vacationing in Vermont for half a week with my mother (the one thing I had left that I could actually look forward to) called up to say that we were the only guests at the hotel because the mountain had basically no snow, so would we like to cancel?

We've been going there every year for some years now and the mountain is supposed to be covered in snow at this time of year.  Sometimes they'd have one trail they never bothered making snow on and you could see what a difference the snow making made, but there were always multiple peaks open with plenty of snow to connect them.  Not sure exactly how many lifts were usually open, but definitely in the double digits.  Definitely there are usually more lifts running at this time of year than there are trails open right now.

And, I just took a look, it's worse than I thought.  The situation has degraded severely since they called (when they had two lifts and 11 trails open.)  As of this moment there is one lift and four trails.

Out of 22 lifts and 140 trails.

You can use different metrics, and get slightly different results (Over four and a half percent of their lifts are open!) but if you look a number of trails, miles of trails, or skiable acres it looks like they're running at around 3% of normal.

The lodge we stay at, as mentioned, is empty.  The businesses in the town are probably quite screwed.  Things are supposed to be running at a pretty good pace since the mountain is supposed to be almost entirely open right now, maybe with the odd trail closed here or there, not every lift would be running (some are sort of redundant) but basically the whole thing should be there to draw people in.  It isn't.  The entire town is screwed.

Climate change costs money.  It's bad for business.  It screws people over.  The example that's in my face is skiing because that was seriously the last thing I had to look forward to.  There is nothing good on my horizon any more.  But what if I looked at it from a standpoint of insurance?  Stronger storms mean worse damage, more fires means worse damage, the changing climate means worse damage.  If you're an insurance company you've either got to be wiling to lose a lot of money, or you have to raise premiums.  Which do you think more likely?

Money spent on insurance premiums is money not spent anywhere else.  It's bad for business.

So why the hell aren't we doing anything about it?  Why isn't there an "Everybody but oil and coal companies" lobby that's pushing back against the oil and coal lobbies so damn hard that they don't know what hit them and we get serious action on this right now?

Why are we not raising gas mileage standards on cars so damn fast that our immediate goal is to make the Prius be considered a gas guzzler?  Why are we not putting solar panels (or gardens if you prefer) on every roof in the country?  Why are we doing almost nothing?

I don't understand it.


The abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, and the ongoing fallout has made me ask myself what I would do if I were Pope.

"But you're not Catholic," you say.

True, but it's sort of a thought experiment.

"But even if you were Catholic you wouldn't be a priest."

Shut up.  Thought experiment.

"And even if you were a pries the odds against you one day being Pope would be astronomical."

Thought Experiment!

So, basically, my usual response to the hearing about what happened is usually about what happened in the past.  Children were sexually abused, the Church covered it up, this was very bad.  Many many people have been hurt, every instance was a betrayal, and then betrayal was heaped upon betrayal in the process of covering up and putting more at risk.  There is so much damage, so much pain, so much evil, that has already happened.  And that is where my focus goes.  To the past.  To what has already come to pass.

Those in charge cannot limit their scope to that.  If one were to suddenly somehow find themselves Pope they'd have incredible power of the Catholic Church, but there's still nothing they could do about what has already happened.  The Pope does not have a time machine.  So if the keys to the Church were placed in your hands, what could you do?

If I had power over the Catholic Church, if I loved it and wanted the best for it and had the job of bringing it into the future as close to unscathed as can be managed, what would I do?

The answer is actually very simple.  There's a clear solution.  I'm not completely sure, but I think it's a Catholic solution at that.  (Though by no means an exclusively Catholic solution.)  At the very least it's a Christian one.  (Again, not exclusively)

I'd tell the various people charged with record keeping to cooperate fully with the police.  I'd tell the entire church to cooperate fully with the police.  I'd get everything out there so an independent investigation could take place.  I'd get it into the hands of people whose job it was to find justice, I'd get it out of the hands of the people who perpetuated the cover up. I'd try to set the Church on a course of making things right instead of keeping things limited.

Because that's the only thing that makes sense.  It has to end.  If you want to help the victims, you have to get things over with.  If you want to help the Church, you have to get things over with.  The truth needs to come out and the wrongness needs to stop.  If it doesn't stop then neither the victims nor the Church will ever be able to have peace.

I don't actually know what confession is like, but I imagine that the idea that things need to stop is a part of it.  I could be wrong, but I think if I went into confession and said that I'd taken my sister's MP3 player and refused to give it back to her one of the first things the priest would say is, "Give it back to her."  I think if someone said they were doing something bad, on an ongoing basis, be it large or small, the priest would tell them to stop it.

I know for sure that, "Go and sin no more," is Christian idea because it's something attributed to Jesus (John 8:11) and it seems to me that a big part of the problem going on in the Church is that they seem very intent on sinning more.

I have difficulty believing that if someone went to confession to say that they were part of an ongoing effort to help sexual abusers and their supporters escape justice which had endangered children and directly resulted in many being abused, the priest would say, "Well you definitely should keep that up."  I instead imagine that the priest would tell this hypothetical person to stop.  But the Church as a whole has not stopped, they have not even given evidence of trying to stop.

The solution - the simple obvious plain to see solution is to stop doing the wrong thing.  It's to start cooperating.

And then I learned, again via Fred Clark, that someone had actually done that.  An Archbishop.  The relevant bit of the article is this, "When Martin became archbishop, he provided the Murphy Commission with 65,000 files his predecessor had refused to turn over."  As soon as he took the reigns he decided it was time to change to a more moral course.

Here's what I don't understand: why isn't that happening everywhere?


Miss Universe Canada disqualified one of its finalists after learning that she hadn't been born with female sexual organs.  And this makes sense because... um... yeah.  I'm not sure I follow, exactly.

How exactly would being born in a non-female body be disqualifying?  Is it supposed to be an unfair advantage?  Do people born male-bodied just look better in bikinis than those born female bodied?  Is it the case that if we start letting people born male-bodied into beauty pageants those who were born female-bodied will be so outclassed that they won't be able to compete?

I considered that they might think the hormones or surgery represented an unfair advantage, but apparently there are no rules against either of those things.

I'd like to write more on this subject but I don't even... I mean... what the fuck?


Robo signing is fraud.  It is a crime committed by organizations.  It is a crime that is systemic in such organizations.  It is a crime that affects interstate (and international) commerce.

Why are we not prosecuting the banks using RICO laws?

I don't understand.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

On Pi and Tau

My sister recently asked me to watch the video “Pi is wrong” which I initially had difficulty locating because it's actually called “Pi is (still) wrong” which sounds like a sequel to “Pi is wrong” rather than “Pi is wrong” itself.

Anyway, the basic overview of the video is that we shouldn't be using Pi (π) in math, we should be using 2pi which it suggests that we call Tau (τ). The reasoning is simple and it's something that you've probably thought of yourself, in math we almost always use the radius of a circle, yet Pi is calculated using the diameter. “What the fuck?” you might ask. Why do we pretty much always use the radius and then in this one single case use twice the radius? What possible purpose could there be for using 2r in one of our most important constants when we use r everywhere else? Pi = C/(2r) but why not just get Tau = C/r instead?

It doesn't make sense, it is confusing, and I noticed these things long ago. Then, like everyone else, I let it go and moved on with my life. In recent years people have decided to stop letting it go and start advocating for using C/r instead of C/(2r) which means using Tau instead of Pi.

I'm in a strange place with this, on the one hand I know exactly where they're coming from as I thought the same thing myself lo those many years ago, on the other I'm resistant to the idea. Not because I think it's inelegant or wrong, but because I like what Pi represents.

In radians to go Pi is to make a half turn, to go Tau is to make a full turn. Tau is the identity, adding a Tau is the radian equivalent of multiplying by one. Of course that makes Tau a more fundamental constant. But Pi is a more interesting one. Adding Pi is equivalent to multiplying by negative one, it's a 180 degree turn, it's motion and change. Tau is the same as standing still. Tau radians is actually equal to zero radians. It's nothing. It's stagnation. It's boring.


Consider one (1). Since it's the multiplicative identity, one doesn't generate anything with mutliplication. Think about it for a moment, what does one tell you? What does one create? What's one squared? It's one. What's the square root of one? It's one. (Yes, negative one is also the square root of one, but you can only say that if you already know negative one exists, but if you're dealing with just one then you wouldn't.) What's the square root of the square root of one? What's the cube root of one? What's the 10829074589274th root of one? One. Always one. Never anything but one.

Compare that to negative one. What's negative one squared? Why it's one. Already by considering negative one in isolation we've expanded our mathematical universe to include one. We've doubled our world. What's the square root of negative one? It's i. We've just discovered complex numbers. But more than that we've discovered bidirectionality. Because it's not just i, it's also -i.

If one moves counterclockwise one gets i, if one moves clockwise one gets -i, but they're both the same distance. They're mirror images of each other. Neither is more obvious, neither has primacy. We have difference without heriarchy. We've just stumbled onto the fact that different things can be just as good as each other.

And they generate each other. So if you never considered that you might move clockwise, if counterclockwise was the only thing that made sense to you, you'd have expanded your universe to -1, 1, and i. Could you really help but try to combine them? Multiplying anything by 1 does nothing and is boring, but that still leaves you with -1 and i to play with.

If we had started with 1 this would be boring as all hell. 1 is the most obvious square root of 1, so the equivalent would be having 1 and 1 to play with. No amount of multiplication can make something interesting come out of that combination.

On the other hand consider -1*i which is equivalent to i*i*i. That gives us -i. Which would be a new number we previously hadn't seen.

If we had gone clockwise first we'd have the mirror image of this relationship, and we would have used -i to discover i. Either way we started with one number (-1), now we've generated four of the roots of unity. And there's no reason to stop there. What about the square root of i? What about the cube root of -1? Asking questions like this can generate and infinite number of numbers, which are points in the complex plane, and it's already showing us the outline of an entire field of meaning.

One doesn't do anything like that. It is definitely more fundamental, but it's also more boring.

Identities just sit around doing nothing.


So what does all of this have to do with Pi and Tau?  Everything.  Everything I just said applies to math with radians.  Except we use addition instead of multiplication.  Pi is negative one. Tau is one. Check it out. Do the math. Draw a picture. When we're talking radians they're different ways of saying the same thing.

Adding Pi radians is equivalent to multiplying by negative one. Adding Tau radians is equivalent to multiplying by 1. Adding Pi/2 radians is equivalent to multiplying by i, the first clockwise square root of negative 1.

Radians are a way of changing multiplication into addition and exponentiation into multiplication. Adding π/X radians is the same as multiplying by -11/X. Pi is the negative one of the circle world. This is, in many ways, a strong argument in favor of switching to Tau. We use one, not negative one, as our fundamental number after all. One is more elegant than negative one. Tau is more elegant than Pi. But, Pi and negative one are more fun.

Look at a picture of a circle marked out in Tau radians. Tau = 0. It's nothing. What could be more boring than zero? I don't think anyone will argue against the utility of zero, it's an incredibly important number and an incredibly important concept. Imagine trying to model motion without the ability to describe stillness. It would be a gaping hole in your description and the entire thing would be a counterpoint without a point to be counter to. But poetry lies in the counterpoint.

Then look at a circle mapped out in Pi radians. It doesn't run from zero to Tau=zero. It runs from negative Pi to positive Pi, clockwise Pi to counterclockwise Pi. What's the top of the circle? Pi/2. What's the bottom? -Pi/2. The relationship between top and bottom, the vertical symmetry, is marked out in a way that Tau doesn't even approach. Oh, sure, you could show the same thing by running the Tau circle from -Tau/2 to positive Tau/2, but the truth is that Tau/2 already has a name. That name is Pi.

Pi forces us to confront the fact that there are two ways to travel around the circle. With the exception of ±Pi, one way will always be shorter and the distance we see in the most basic Pi-radians marking of the circle is the shorter distance, but the two directions are both there. Positive and negative. Clockwise and counterclockwise. Parity instead of a single slog. Tau-radians conceals this by only showing us the positive path. The negative is marginalized, forgotten, discarded.*

That's hardly unique. Hell, look at the fucking name. We call it negative. Is it really that negative? If you get a bill that says you owe -$1,000 is that a bad thing? It seems pretty damned positive to me. If the amount of time you had to spend waiting for something that you wanted were negative, that would mean you got it ahead of time. Wouldn't that be pretty positive?

The truth is that there's nothing negative about negative numbers and nothing positive about positive ones. Context determines that. It's just that the negative ones got the name with all the negative associations because that name was “negative”. The negative numbers get no respect.

The Tauists will actually tell you that a minus sign is ugly (those bastards) and posit that the reason Euler's identity is as it is is to hide the minus sign.  Euler's identity being an equation that relates e, π, i, 1, 0, exponentiation, multiplication, and addition. It is:

eπi + 1 = 0

Do you see the negative one in there? You should. eπi = -1. We could speculate, as Tauists do, that that was seen as ugly and, instead of being an elegant way to related 5 constants and 3 functions, the formula was nothing more than a way to hide the negative one. If that were the case (I don't believe it is) then negative one was and is getting shafted. What's their solution? To shaft it more.

Their proposed rewriting is:

eτi = 1

With a note to the effect that you could make it eτi = 1 + 0 if you really wanted the zero in there. See what's missing? The negative one. The first Tauist formula says “one equals one” the second one says, “one equals one plus zero.” If we started with negative one being hidden, now we've reached the point where it is erased entirely.


When we consider radians Pi and negative one are intimately related. They're two different ways of saying the same thing. Adding Pi*X radians is the same thing as multiplying by negative one to the power of X. And negative one is an interesting and important number.

Pi is the only place negative one gets respect. Taking that away just seems wrong.

Replacing Pi with Tau doesn't just take away the place in which negative one is respected, it actually makes it into a place of less respect than negative one normally gets. Negative one is equivalent to Pi and Negative Pi. They're clearly marked as things that matter.  They get their own symbol.  But in the Tau system it becomes one half Tau and negative one half Tau. They're not marked at all.

At least when we point out that one is important negative one gets some degree of recognition by virtue of being [minus sign] [important thing] It is set up as the one and only opposite of the important thing. It's the primary counterpoint and marked as such.

With the Tau system Pi just becomes [fraction of important thing]. Sure, ½ is an important fraction, so much so that my word processor just automatically inserted a special one half symbol, but it hardly jumps out as the most important counterpoint. No, the clear radian counterpoint to Tau is Tau itself. Negative Tau is positive Tau is zero Tau.

Which brings me back to motion. ½ Pi radians is half of the way from zero to Pi in the positive direction. -½ Pi is half of the distance from zero to Pi (which is equal to negative Pi) in the negative direction. These are completely intuitive things. They're intuitive because Pi does not equal zero. There is a distance from zero to Pi, and thus we can easily divide it in half and see how far it is. Pi is on the other side of the circle from zero, so half the distance is half way between the two sides to the circle. It's half way there.

The same motions said in Tau radians are ¼ Tau and -¼ Tau. But what do they mean? Tau radians, remember, is the same thing as zero radians. The distance between Tau radians and zero radians is zero. One quarter of zero is zero. ¼ Tau is not zero. Which means that ¼ Tau is not one quarter of the distance from zero to Tau in the positive direction. It's something else. Something strange. Something inefficient. If you want to get to someone who is on the other side of something, it makes sense to walk around that something, but if you want to get to someone who is on the same side of it as you, someone who is standing so close that you're touching them, why get to them by walking around the thing? Yet that is what we have here.

It's not a quarter of the distance between zero and Tau, it's a quarter of an arbitrary walk that begins and ends at Tau. Tau is stillness. Tau is unmoving. Tau is unchanging. Add a Tau and nothing is altered. Add Tau as many times as you like, infinite times if you like, things will always be as they were before you started.

Pi is dynamic. It's a complete 180. Literally. That's what it means. Pi radians is equal to one hundred and eighty degrees. Add it to something and you change everything.

Pi may be generally less efficient, it may be more confusing, it may be an oddball number with questionable credentials. But I like it. Pi does things instead of sitting on its ass. Tau is stagnation, Pi is as far as you can move without wrapping around and heading back the way you came. Pi is the maximum possible progress.

Pi is also a vindication of the much maligned negative one.

Pi probably is a worse choice because it does make less sense, but who needs to make sense all the time? Tau makes sense, but it's boring. Pi is inefficient, but it's fun.

That's my thought on it, at any rate.


*Even when it's shorter. Half the time the negative path will be the short path, but does the zero to Tau=zero notation show this? No. Not in the least. It just completely ignores that it's possible to go the other way. It forces you into a single mode of thinking instead of giving you the tools to see it from both sides and thus suggesting those things which it did not have space to show.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Zombie Infection Mistaken for Rabies Infection, Attempt

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]
[In the same line of reasoning as this idea, but this time in story form..]

[So, be aware that this wasn't really all that thought out beforehand and it was written as I got increasingly tired and unable to think straight. I give you a zombie story, sort of:]
When civilization collapsed I was considering dropping out of college. Even in college I was never a writer. I majored in math. I had to write a couple of papers in classes I had to take for what the school called core requirements, basically what they used to justify to themselves that they were still a liberal arts school as they cut back on everything liberal arts related. I never got the hang of citing sources, I've been told I border on plagiarism, I can't make a bibliography for the life of me. I've been told that I splice with commas, hang participles, run on sentence, and make the baby Jesus cry grammar related tears. Yet somehow it has fallen to me to write history.
Actually I know how it happened, I said someone should write it, and everyone else said that it should be my responsibility. It's not the worst job, but the people who are doing worse jobs don't want this one.
Our library is sparse and eclectic. We have some philosophers that can't be understood without an advanced degree in the subject, and even then I have my doubts. We have really bad paperback novels that I hope future generations will not use to judge us. We have textbooks in math, government, and geoscience. We have a lot of stuff from before the invention of the printing press. Dante to tell us what Hell is like, Suetonius to tell us what Caesars are like, Herodotus to tell us what Persians are like, various other things I haven't really looked at. None of it useful.
Most of the stuff that we do have that applies to this project is in the form of computers. Some people saved news stories, a couple of mailing lists got useful things saved in email programs. Stuff like that. It's always worrying retrieving such information. Electricity is precious, and if the computer shouldn't start it's not as if I know how to fix it. I'd rather someone else be the one to be present when one them finally breaks down.
I looked at some of the books by historians we have, for inspiration, and you know what I found out? Suetonius worked in a library. A fully stocked library. A library fully stocked with useful information. When he wanted to say that there were rumors around he didn't just say there were rumors, he said exactly what they happened to be because somebody somewhere had recorded the rumors and Suetonius could look them up in the library. Good God do I wish I could do the same.
Instead most of what I have to work on is memory, and memories that don't always agree. For example, the start.
While civilization crumbled people were still working to discover the origin of the disease, and they made it back to a single place, but never figured out how it got there. Here's the problem: we don't know what that place was. It was definitely an airport. A hub. But which hub? We don't know. My memory says it was Atlanta. Someone else says it was Detroit. Those two places aren't exactly close to each other, and they don't really sound alike either.
There were no reports of biting there, wherever it was, so no one knows how so many became infected. Some people here insist that it must have been prions. I don't know what prions are. Based on my conversations with the people who say it must have been prions, I am confident that they don't know what prions are either.
However the infection started, it was not noticed or understood. People got on their planes and headed to their destinations all over the world. Thousands of people. And when they got there they seemed fine as fine can be, perhaps slight headaches, maybe a fever, nothing to send anyone into apocalyptic panic.
And then the changes started. I remember symptoms being listed off as anxiety, insomnia, confusion, paranoia, and something else. I don't remember exactly what the something else was. Agitation maybe. Or perhaps irritability. I don't know. No surviving records list they symptoms. If I had to guess, I'd say that paranoia was the biggest problem. Paranoid people tend not to want to go to a hospital and tell authority figures, “There's something wrong with me.”
And then the biting started. People who have been bitten by other people tend to go to hospitals and say, “Some asshole just bit me.” That's when we first realized there was something wrong. In cities all over the world people started getting bitten by other people.
This led to the first recorded use of the word, “Zombie,” regarding the incidents. It survives as a message sent to a newsgroup concerned with baking. It reads, “Dude, it's like a zombie outbreak. We should have a zombie cupcake party.” Subsequent messages are on the topic of what would constituent a zombie cupcake. No one took the idea of zombies seriously. No one had a reason to.
At first the disease was not well understood, and early containment was lacking. Those bitten reached the biting stage much more quickly than those who had been part of the initial infection. Their move to biting was not expected and as a result more victims were created, often the doctors and nurses who had been treating the newly infected.
The disease was misidentified as a previously unknown strain of rabies. It seems silly looking back, rabies can't cause the dead to walk, but the simple truth is that no one had died yet. It seemed like any other disease.
Quarantine was the method for dealing with the problem, and at first it seemed to work, but not everyone was found, not all quarantines held, and at some point it jumped species. I know for sure that the stray dog population of Rome became infected. I've been told that something similar happened in Moscow but no surviving records attest to that. I remember hearing about the rats in one area being infected, but no records survive.
The animals were, of course, put down, but not before they infected many more people. And the disease continued to spread.
We do not have a surviving copy of the Medical Management of Biological Casualties Handbook by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, but a short excerpt of it survives in the files of a video game installed on one of our computers. It reads:
... In addition to their detrimental health effects on the targeted population, biological warfare agents would likely cause significant impacts on the medical care system. Massive numbers of patients and demands for intensive care would overwhelm medical resources. Special medications or vaccines not generally available in standard pharmaceutical stocks would be required. Medical care providers and laboratory personnel might need added protection, and autopsy and interment of remains could present hazards not commonly dealt with...

That assessment seems prescient. As the world struggled with disease outbreaks in cities and towns around the world hospitals began to buckle under the strain, especially since it was often the case that members of their staff were amoung the first infected.
For my part, I noticed none of it.
I spent the early stages of the infection in school. I missed major news because I was busy studying for a test in linear algebra, for example. People think that's strange but it involved math on matrices and I've never been good at that so it made perfect sense at the time to pay more attention to study than to some health story. It had always been my experience that the health scares on the news never panned out, and it was also the case that the disease didn't seem to be fatal.
That people with it weren't dying off was part of what was overloading the medical system, new infected meant more beds to fill, but the old infected weren't clearing many out. I didn't realize that at the time. I just noticed the lack of bodycount. As I said, I had other things on my mind.
Also the initial news came fast, but it also came inaccurately. It seemed to me that more often than not a story would be reported only to be retracted soon after. It would be said that the infection had turned up somewhere, then it turned out to be a simple case of the flu. Some new breakthrough would be announced, only to just as quickly be unannounced. I figured that I'd catch up on everything once they had things figured out, and so I ignored the immediate news.
That wouldn't be possible for all that long. As the infection spread so too did rumors that increasingly draconian measures were being taken to contain it. When it was reported that an entire city had been cordoned off, a report that no one ever verified, a lot of people from infected areas fled for fear they'd soon be trapped. Naturally they fled to uninfected areas.
Most of them were uninfected, but some carried the infection with them. That increased when the rumors started to include the infected, indeed anyone with a bite, scrape, or scratch on them, being executed. Everything I have seen and heard indicates that these rumors were false, but they were out there, and if you combine that with the fact that people didn't want to be told they were infected anyway, and the fact that paranoia was a symptom, it is probably unsurprising that the infected scattered to the winds, bringing the disease with them.
By this point it was impossible to ignore.
But there was also good news. Symptoms were recognized, precautions were taken, and soon it seemed like disaster had been averted. News of new infections slowed, then nearly stopped. Quarantine seemed to be holding. It seemed like there was nowhere left that hadn't been touched by the infection, but it seemed to be contained wherever it was found.
Looking back we know that this isn't true. In some cases entire towns had already been lost, but these were places that were separated from the media enough to be unprepared, which meant that they were also separated enough to be unable to tell others what had happened to them.
The world could breathe a sign of relief, because it seemed that we had walked back from the edge of the cliff. Then the bottom dropped out.
The infected started dying. Sure, by this point quite a few had died already, but this was the first time they were clearly dying of the infection. At first it was just a few, then waves of them were dying off. Morgues were overcrowded.
And then they woke up.
There are no reports from the initial encounter.
It isn't hard to work out what must have happened. By now hosptial security and the police had a lot of experience dealing with the infected, they presumably tried to deal with these the same way they'd dealt with others. Zombies is simply not the first thought that comes to mind. The quarters were close, by the time they realized the regular method wasn't working the gap would have been closed, and the initial contact must have been a slaughter. Otherwise we would have heard something, and we didn't.
When hospitals were lost the infected, living and dead alike, were no longer contained. Both groups got out, and in some cases the dead were concealed amoung the living. In all cases it was assumed that it was a breach of quarantine rather than a new threat. It was treated as a breach of quarantine in the cases I heard of. It was treated as a breach of quarantine in the cases we have records of. That was a mistake.
Dealing with zombies as if you are dealing with sick people does not work.
At first everyone assumed that they were just particularly resilient, and particularly sick looking, living infected. They were often mixed amoung crowds of the living so it was an easy mistake to make, but it was a mistake that meant we were using all the wrong tactics.
And so, all around the world, ground was lost. More people were infected, and those who were able to fight off the escaped live infected often did not know that disposal of the bodies was a matter of life and death. Those bodies rose again, and more cities fell.
It is at this point that the historical record ends. The internet went dark, contact was lost. Last I heard, every country was being overrun. There were rumors of communities being formed at sea. Seems like a good idea to me, although some of the last video I saw was of what was claimed to be a zombie elephant seal. If that was accurate then I'm not sure I want to be anywhere near the ocean.