Iskaral Pust

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  1. March Reading 2017

    I returned to crime fiction -- I was persuaded by a friend some months back that I owed the genre a fair try -- this time to Jack Reacher #3, aka Tripwire. It was really flat and showed a lot of limitations, especially with the cartoonish antagonist. The final act was the best part, but not enough to redeem the rest. The author's love affair with the character was a little too much. As a reader of fantasy, I can't be too critical of Taveren-ish characters (to use RJ's word), but since when are mid level military police like special forces badasses, front-line heroes, savant snipers and experienced detectives? Does arresting drunk jarheads in brothels really confer that level of awesomeness? And although James Bond set the benchmark, it's hard to see why this violent, taciturn, penniless hobo manages in each book to attract the fawning love/lust of an otherwise educated, beautiful, stylish, successful career woman. Once again, the unauthorized knight errant in pursuit of unchecked violent criminals would make more sense in a world of lawlessness -- like the typical Western genre -- but not in modern America, outside of limited scenarios. Volumes 1 & 2 concocted acceptable, but still implausible, scenarios but this one required too much suspension of disbelief. Now onto Arm Of The Sphinx, Josiah Bancroft's sequel to Senlin Ascends. Pretty good so far, continuing the lyrical prose and exploration of naivety and desperation. There is a childishness/YA to the tone and plot that I can accept as an alternative to grimdark, but it requires some forbearance to accept the implausibility of characters acting as they do.
  2. Football - Leicester's Shakespearean Tragedy

    I agree. The cost/benefit trade-off of dangerous fouls has favored the Keane, Batty, Barton, Terry, etc cohort for far too long.
  3. Football - Leicester's Shakespearean Tragedy

    A major factor is our lack of a true striker. Our conversion rate on good chances (as these stats are measured) is the lowest of the big teams. Defensive teams will allow fewer chances. Even though we create more chances than most of the other big teams, even against defensive teams, our conversion rate is so low that we can end up not scoring at all. Thin squad is another major factor. We've had more disruptions to key players than most big teams -- in attack, midfield and defense, e.g. Coutinho, Mane, Henderson, Lallana, Lovren and Matip all missing at least a few games during our slump -- and our decline in performance when disrupted is more severe than all the other big teams, mainly because we don't have quality replacements available.
  4. Exercise and Fitness: sticking to resolutions

    It turns out that taking a week off worked out pretty well. Last Sunday I did push ups and other body weight floor exercises, but otherwise I was off for eight days. That strain at the bottom of my lat is almost fully recovered and I've got more ripped rather than the expected flab and bloat from sloth. Back to the gym today for bench press, pull downs, etc, which went better than expected. I was back to PB levels and it felt easier than before. I was tempted to add an extra rep on the heaviest bench press sets, but not without a spotter.
  5. Fargo 3: not until 2017

    I'm really amped for this but already wondering if I have the strength to wait for the season to finish so I can binge watch.
  6. Legion (FX's Marvel tv series) [SPOILERS]

    I really enjoyed this episode, although I had miscounted and thought this was the season finale already. I was pretty disappointed about the ending until I checked and saw that it was only ep7. Was Oliver that funny the last time? I remember him being whimsical but he seemed much funnier this time. Now he seems badly under-used. The info dump reveal of David's history seems heavy handed deus ex machina if I describe it, but it worked in the episode and it was nice to have an alternative to the usual reveal via therapist questioning, whether Lenny, Melanie, or whoever. I would have guessed from the animation that his father is Professor X, even if it had not been mentioned in this thread. It's a bit tidy that he could suddenly control his powers but I'll accept that he needed to snap himself free of King's influence/control to do so and that is exactly what the intervention by the rational mind represented. Kerry fleeing the Watcher in this episode and the past just seems like a pointless subplot.
  7. March Reading 2017

    Not a slog at all. A bit long winded -- like most nonfiction -- but engaging, insightful and very accessible throughout. But read with skepticism due to all of the replication problems in the social sciences. I finished Neil Gaiman's Norse Mythology. I would not recommend. It's just like any other collection of myths, and Gaiman's style doesn't do enough the change the basic childishness of the narrative, characters and plot.
  8. Legion (FX's Marvel tv series) [SPOILERS]

    Weekly viewing just doesn't satisfy any more. I can accept two-part episodes provided I can determine the viewing gap. Perhaps I should just wait for all of the remaining eps and then binge watch. I'm already holding off on Black Sails so I can binge the whole season over a couple of weeks, and may do the same with Fargo. With Taboo, Legion and Fargo all airing on FX in quick succession, that channel has suddenly surged in relevance. HBO and AMC are missing their recent heavyweights, and Starz just has Black Sails (and Outlander for my wife).
  9. Exercise and Fitness: sticking to resolutions

    Frustrated. I'm taking a break from the gym this weekend. I have a painful strain in the outside left of my middle (vertically speaking) back, where the bottom of my left lat connects with my lowest ribs. I don't know if it's the lat muscle, or connectors between the two lowest ribs, or the connection between lat and oblique. It has been sore for three days now and is sensitive to any movement in the lat, like rotation at the hip or extending the back (e.g. bending forward). I don't want to do anything that requires heavy flexing of the lat in case I make it worse, which rules out almost every heavy weight lift I do. Even rowing and cycling are out because both require bending forward. Same for squats and dead lifts. Running might be ok but does involve rotation at the hip. The silver lining is that I have been getting repetitive stress strains around my elbows and shoulders from heavy weights and I was thinking of taking a break at some point to let them recover a bit.
  10. Legion (FX's Marvel tv series) [SPOILERS]

    This past episode lost too much momentum. They needed something more to happen before the end.
  11. March Reading 2017

    Finished the non-fiction The Lost City Of The Monkey God by Douglas Preston. A nice change-up in content and style, it described a very recent archeological expedition to Honduras, including use of airborne lidar tech, the dangers of sub-tropical rain forest, academic cat fights and bitchy sniping, plus fully a third of the book was about leishmaniasis -- my skin was crawling throughout that part. Recommended. Now starting Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.
  12. US Politics: Speak Into the Microwave

    Since the purpose of the wiretap story was to deflect attention away from demands to investigate his connections with Russia, the more out of control it gets the happier Trump is. He gets to pander to his paranoid racist base while distracting from the one thing they they would not forgive him. All the serious people being shocked by his flagrant lie forget that he doesn't care at all if he's caught in a lie. Every time we obsess about his latest lie, we're letting him set the agenda, we're giving credence to his lies (just like the Brexiteer claims) and we're overlooking the real issues.
  13. US Politics: Speak Into the Microwave

    The balls on Enda Kenny this morning to drop the usual leprechaun bullshit and scold Trump on immigration policy.
  14. The Ethics of Halloween Costumes

    Will that be slutty William Tecumseh Sherman?
  15. Exercise and Fitness: sticking to resolutions

    @baxus That sounds like a great way to recharge. I've never managed to take a break between jobs. My former employer always pressured me to stay until the last possible minute. I do have a week off at the end of March as we visit my in-laws for spring break. I'll do some work from there but hopefully rest a bit and recharge. I woke this morning at 5am and could not get back to sleep. Just stress. A bit after 6am I gave up, got up, ate a banana and went to the gym. Shoulder press, pull-ups, etc. The early workout and no fuel in my system cost a rep on each of my heaviest sets but overall a pretty good workout. There was an obnoxious guy in the gym this morning: he and his personal trainer were taking up a huge amount of space, he was dropping/slamming his weights down and making explosive grunts, he was playing music loudly from his iPhone (no headphones) and he didn't put weights back on the rack or wipe down equipment. That's a pretty strong quartet of assholish behavior. I felt like telling him that if he's going to act like such a fucking gym douche he should at least lift some respectable weight. I almost sniggered at him dead-lifting only 100lbs* with the big grunts and dramatically dropping the weight at the end. *This guy looked to be in his early forties, ~6'3 and ~220lbs and was talking about his crossfit class the whole time.