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Some people who know me may realize that I have an odd diet concerning sugary foods. Basically, for 2/3 of the year I don't eat most sugary foods; for the other third I do. The point of this diet is not to give up sugar, but to eat less of it.
This has worked well for me. I generally stick to it, and as a result I think I've at least halved my sugar consumption. I regard it a permanent part of my life, and have no plans to ever go off it. In this blog post I will shares the intricate details of this diet.
The main rule of the diet is that, for the most part, I can only eat sugary foods in the following months. (These are called the Allowed Months):
I don't officially limit my sugar consumption in any way during Allowed Months. Unofficially I don't really drink sugary beverages any more. (Maybe the odd milkshake, or a craft soda once in awhile. I almost never drink juice.)
All other months (which I call the Limited Months), my consumption of sugary foods is limited. In general, I think of these as sugar-free months, but they're really not. As I said, this is not to prohibit sugary foods but to reduce. In practice, I allow myself certain exceptions.
Here are the exceptions I allow myself during all Limited Months:
- I can eat fruit that isn't too sweet. For me that means mostly apples and bananas, but canteloupe and watermelon I sometimes eat too. Maybe even grapes. This applies to fresh fruit only. Not juice, dried fruit, or anything like that.
- I can add honey or jelly to a peanut butter sandwich.
- If someone offers me something sweet, I can take one piece. So, for instance, if someone sticks a plastic bowl full of cookies in my face, I'm allowed to take one. But it has to be a deliberate, active offer from someone. If there's just a bowl of cookies or candy sitting there, I can't take one. If someone just mentions, "Hey there's cake", I can't take a slice of cake. But if they said, "Hey Carl, I made a cake, why don't you have a piece", then I can.
- I can eat Girl Scout Cookies with impunity, but only if I bought them myself from an actual Girl Scout. (So no second hand cookies, and no buying them from her mother, or from a box at work.)
- I can take a single breath mint from a bowl after eating dinner at a restaurant.
- Cough drops with sugar are ok. (Though I prefer sugar-free in any case; the sugary ones make my teeth sticky, moreso than candy. Sometimes sugar-free cough drops are not easy to find, though.)
- I have a rule that I can add about a tablespoon of honey or syrup to yogurt, which I did a lot when I first started this diet, but I don't eat as much yogurt as I used to.
In addition to these permanent rules, I usually also give myself a monthly exception. The monthly exception is usually a broad category: "ice cream", "maple syrup" (unlocking pancakes), "12 ounce bottles of craft soda", or something like that. Sometimes, if I feel like I didn't do well during the previous month I won't give myself this exception, but most months I do.
Here's the thing about the monthly exceptions: I won't simply shift all the sugar consumption to that one item. What I try to do is consume the exception at the same rate as I would during an Allowed month, and drop all other sugary foods. (At least that's the theory; I'm sure I end up at the upper range most months.)
And finally, I waive the limits for sugary foods on major holidays.
In spite of the numerous exceptions, I have not stuck to this diet perfectly. I have eaten sugary foods for comfort here and there. I've waived the diet in certain situations (like when travelling). I used to not bother at all when I visited the family, since they always used to leave all kinds of chocolate and candy laying around the house, and at that point it's hopeless. (Though they don't leave chocolate out so much any more, no idea why.)
However, by and large this has been successful. At least for me, the exceptions give me a bit of an outlet and allow me to be strong in the face of temptation most of the time. It's a lot easier to give up something when you know you'll be able to take it up again soon.
I've been doing this in some form since 2011, about eight years now.
When I first started, I was like a statue of stone. I gave up the sweet foods absolutely during Limited Months, did not cheat at all, and gave myself fewer and narrower exceptions. Then, when Allowed Months came, I went crazy. I'd eat as much sugary food as I could, knowing that soon it would be a Limited Month again. I ended up eating more sugary foods than I otherwise would have during Allowed months (although it was certainly still less overall when you averaged it woth the Limited Months).
But as time went on, a very interesting thing has happened. I started adding new exceptions, and also ended up cheating more. But during Allowed Months, I got less and less crazy. Temptation had a smaller and smaller effect on me over time.
Now, I hardly eat more sugar during the Allowed months than I eat during Limited Months, and I eat a lot less sugar in any month. About the only difference now is that I might buy a candy bar while visiting a convenience store during a Allowed month, but won't during a Limited month.
Basically, by sticking to this diet, I gradually learned to moderate.
I have a few tradtions associated with this diet. The first sweet I eat on an Allowed Month is always a King Size Kit-Kat. The last sweet I like to eat before I go back to Limited Months is an ice cream sandwich from Diddy Riese, but I don't do that all the time (especially since I moved away from the Westside). And on holidays I usually limit myself to thematically appropriate sweets, so for Halloween I'll only eat candy, for Thanksgiving, only pie.
My 2016 Ballot
Ok, its 2016, time to reveal my ballot.
The ballot proposititions were actually pretty intelligent this year. Only two of them were retarded (and misleading), and one more was dubious. The rest were actually decent, not that I agreed with all of them, but at least they were well thought out and addressed actual perceived issues.
I didn't pay any attention to any races except for President of the United States (more on that below), so I only voted on the propositions.
My general strategy on propositions to vote no unless I feel like there's a good reason for yes, especially for constitutional amendments (since they can't be overturned by the legislature), and there were a bunch I of them this year where I fell back on them.
- Prop 51: School bonds, Funding for K-12 Schools and Community College Facilities: NO. Ok, so one of things I'm always skeptical of is when politicians need for funds for schools. I feel like it's a dubious way to bring in more money. They think, correctly it seems, that people will approve it if it's for the children. I voted against all the education propositions. This one was the closest I came to voting Yes. But I'm sure why there needs to be a $9 billon bond release now, rather than smaller bonds as facilities need upgrading, so I fell back to a No vote. (Though I can see the logic of getting approval all at once.)
- Prop 52: Medical Hospital Fee Program: NO. I almost abstained from this one since I couldn't even follow what it was supposed to be doing. I pieced together what is was and ended up thinking it was pretty useless and maybe slightly worse, so I feel back to No.
- Prop 53: Revenue Bonds. Amendment. NO. I have mixed feeling about it, actually. $2 billion is a lot of money, and it would seem that having voters weigh in on projects that large might not be a bad idea. I ended up voting No because it is an amendment, and also because it lacked an obvious mechanism to raise the limit as inflation happens.
- Prop 54: Legislation and Proceedings. Amendment. NO. This is one of two retarded ones, and it's deceptive as well. It requires bills to be published for 72 hours before the state legislature can vote on them. Which pretty much cripples the legislature. It also requires legislative sessions to be televised, which is reasonable enough, but the literature covering the proposition emphasized that part and downplayed the retarded 72 hour requirement. Prop 54 ended up passing, and I feel like the state legislature is going to spend a lot of time finding a way to overturn it.
- Prop 55: Tax Extension to Fund Education and Healthcare. Amendment. NO. The legislature could have done this, without an amendment, so I fell back to a No vote.
- Prop 56: Cigaratte Tax to Fund Healthcare, etc. YES. I don't smoke but smoking is addicting, so this statute basically exploits people who smoke, who will pay more money for smokes because they are addicted. I am fine with that. This might also convince a percentage of smokers to stop, as a bonus.
- Prop 57: Criminal Sentence, Parole, Juvenile Criminal Proceedings. NO. Honestly I thought it went too far, and let some of the non-violent criminals off too easily.
- Prop 58: English Profieciency. YES. This repealed the stupid requirement that English acquisition classes be taught in English, while keeping other reasonable requirements. Some people evidently thought that if you allow classes to be taught in another language you are eroding English as the national language or some naive thing like that, so they passed a different proposition years ago to prevent that. This reverses that proposition.
- Prop 59: Political Spending, etc. Advisory. YES. This is the one that advises the state government to purse an US Constitutional Amendment overturning the Citizens United decision. I never liked that decision though (for a slightly different reason than other people disliked it) so definitely worth pursuing.
- Prop 60: Adult films. Condoms. Health Requirements. NO. In essense just a way to try to get that industry out of California, since no one wants too see porn with condoms. I figured it would just drive that kind of thing underground and make it more dangerous.
- Prop 61. State Prescription Drug Purchases. Pricing Standards. NO. This is the dubious one. It has good intentions, I believe, but uses a naive socialist approach to the issue that's likely to backfire, as socialist approaches often do when no account is taken of how the price fiat is going to change things (and this prop didn't). Bernie Sanders was vouching for this one, figures.
- Prop 62. Death Penalty Repeal. YES. This prop repeals the death penalty. I voted for it because as, a practical matter, litigation lasts too long and costs too much, even in the rare cases (and there are some) where the death penalty might be appropriate.
- Prop 63. Firearms. Ammunitions Sales. YES. I thought this was mostly reasonable restrictions on firearms. There was one thing about limiting magazine size in there that I thought was both silly and slightly concerning as a precedent, but I thought it was not concerning enough for me to vote No.
- Prop 64. Marijuana Legalization. YES. This was a better proposition than the last time they tried this. I'm not going to lie, I don't use marijuana in any form and don't spend any time around people using it. I don't believe most of the promises they are telling us about legalization, and I definitely don't believe it's as safe as they say it is. If marijuana had not been illegal, most of the people cruelly incarcerated for dealing marijuana would have been selling other drugs, not running responsible dispensaries. Finally, stoner types are some of the most hilarious people to troll. Based on these points, I was tempted to vote no. However, it's clear society has made its decision, and full legalization is merely a matter of time. It's not like society will collapse if another vice is allowed.
- Prop 65. Carryout bags. Charges. NO, I think. This diverts all funds collected from sale of carry-out grocery bags to environmental causes. I actually left this blank on my sample ballot, and am not even 100% sure I voted for this at all. Right now I'd vote no because I mainly remember thinking that if retailers were able to keep the fees then it might save me a few cents on bread.
- Prop 66. Death penalty procedures. NO. This eliminates some frivolous litigation in death penalty cases, with the intention of making it possible to carry out some of these people's sentences. I thought this Proposition went way too far, though. Solid no.
- Prop 67. Ban on single-use plastic bags. YES. This was actually a referendum, the legislature voted to put it on the ballot. Because of this, I didn't fall back to my "No" default (at least not as hard as I would have an initiative proposition), and just voted for what I wanted. It might be a case of environmentalists blowing a relatively minor environmental problem out of proportion, but I'll tell you something, nothing really looks worse in nature than those bags. For that reason alone I voted Yes. Also, reusable bags are way better anyway.
There were some measures as well for Los Angeles County and the City of Santa Monica.
- LA County Measure A. Tax increase for parks, etc. YES. This was fairly harmless, the tax was something like 1.5 cents per square foot per year. Local taxes are bit more palatable than state taxes, because the state caps the amount localities can tax (although I am not sure there's a cap per square footage). If a tax is earmarked to something good, like maintaining parks, it makes it harder for them to use taxes on stupid things.
- LA County Measure M. Transportation Improvement Plan, YES. This is probably the happiest I've ever been to have a 0.5 percent raise in sales tax. It's a thorough, well-thought out plan that includes funding for all different phases of transportation (bicycle infrastructure, too, but I never said it was perfect). That's the problem with a lot of these kinds of measures, they forget that people still drive, and focus on a single approach (a railroad usually). This is a practical multi-faceted approach to the transporation in Los Angeles. I almost can't believe a government could come up with something so reasonable. And, once again, that's less money available under the sales tax cap for stupid stuff. This measure had to get a 2/3 supermajority of ballots to pass, and it did.
- Santa Monica Measures GS and GSH. A 1/2 percent use tax increase. I'm always scratching my head over these. Santa Monica is a very wealthy community and I wonder why they keep needing these nickle-and-dime tax increases. I'm quite sure there's some shady business going on. It's a well-run city so I'm not going crazy over this, but I'm still not voting for it. Also, this will bring back the days of the government guilting me into self-reporting. The main place where use tax is charged is out-of-state online sales. Online retailers are now required to collect this, and most retailers are up to the task. But I doubt most retailers are going to be collecting use tax for cities. Which means now I have to self-report, blah.
- Santa Monica Measure LV. Require voter approval for developments higher than 32 feet. NO. This has got to be the most retarded ballot measure I've ever seen. I'm somewhat sympathetic to the idea (I think the city is moving a little too fast on redevelopment) but this is draconian beyond all reason. It's also the one of the most heavily contested. I got flyers in the mail every single day for weeks on LV, most of them against. It failed.
- Santa Monica Community College Measure V. Bonds for College improvements. NO. Again, for the children. As with the high school, it's kind of ridiculous that a wealthy school like Santa Monica College has leaky classrooms, such that they need to sell bonds. Perhaps instead of building a bunch of crap they could have fixed the classrooms instead. You got it backwards, guys, you're supposed to fix classrooms with general funds and sell bonds to build new buildings. But if you do that you don't get all the votes for the children, do you?
Anyway, voters have approved all of the tax increases and bond issues on my ballot, which I think is pretty weak-minded of the electorate. Geez, citizens, I'm not saying all taxes are bad, I voted for a few myself, but push back a little. And don't be duped into thinking the school districts in Santa Monica need to sell bonds to keep classrooms in repair. Come on.
President of the United States
Clinton or Trump, talk about a bad choice. In elections for people, my philosophy is that a person who's got a big advantage in votes will tend to be too secure in their jobs, and so will not be all that afraid of doing shady things. Worse, an official might think they have a "mandate" of some sort, which they argue gives them the freedom to take whatever measures are necessary. This scares me. As such, whenever the outcome of an election is not in doubt, I prefer to use my vote to reduce the margin of victory. No matter who it is, or which party it is, the closer the vote is to 50-50, the better they'll behave.
The presidential election is bit different for two reasons. One, the electoral college. Two, the candidates.
There was no question that Clinton was going to carry California. However, when it comes to behaving, I'd expect the electee to pay attention to national vote counts more than state vote counts, and at national level Clinton only had a few percentage point lead in the polls. In a normal election, based on that small percentage, I would have reverted to my standard practice for elections that are in doubt: to vote for whoever is most likely to defeat the worst candidate.
Unfortunately, that meant Clinton. Trump is probably not going to be the anti-Christ everyone says he's going to be. Proabably. But there is a small chance he is the anti-Christ, and I didn't want to take that risk. So I was hoping--well "hoping" is too strong a word. Let's just say my carefully considered decision was that it was preferrable for Hillary Clinton to win.
But this was not a normal election. Because of the electoral college system, that small percentage lead she had was apparently good enough for a decisive victory. That's what all the pundits were saying. And because I lived in California, which had no chance of not choosing Clinton, my vote was not going to affect the election. Which meant that reverting to my in-doubt strategy was unnecessary. In fact it was actually good: because Clinton, the person who I'd decided was preferable to win, was going to win both California and the electoral college handily, I was free use my vote to reduce her vote totals. So my plan was to vote for Trump.
Day of the election, I walked into the ballot box and had a thought: what if Trump does win? Then I'd be voting to increase his margin of victory, and I don't want that either. I knew that the pundits had all but handed her the election. I knew that "everything had to go right" for Trump to win, and that he had to carry all those tossup states, and even if he had a 50/50 chance of winning those states (and he didn't) then he'd still have only about a 1/30 chance of winning. But I also know Hillary Hate. I know because I have it. I can't even utter the words, "I am rooting for ---", she is so odious. But I am a rationalist, and if I'd been living in a state where the electoral votes were in doubt I would have given her my vote to help defeat Trump, in spite of how I feel about her. But not everyone is like me. A lot of people vote with their guts, and an awful lot of people hate her guts. I decided in that ballot box that Clinton is not the shoe-in everyone was saying she was, and the election was in doubt after all.
I ended up abstaining.
Food Trucks Suck
There. I said it.
Food trucks are as supposed to be as much a part of LA culture as hot dog stands are for New York. Well, New York wins this one. My experience with food trucks is that they: 1. are slow, 2. serve tiny portions, and 3. aren't any better than a walk-in eatery. Also, lately, they 4. are expensive, and 5. have incredibly long lines because every hipster thinks they're the greatest food in LA.
I suspect a lot of the older food trucks that serve the neighborhoods actually are very good. Certainly they filled an important niche, since they served food in places and at hours that people otherwise couldn't get food. They were operated by people who were from the areas they served, had native knowledge of great ethnic foods, and rapport with their customers.
But now that food trunks have become trendy, the experience has become diluted with mediocrity. I'm not saying that trendiness, by itself, leads to medocrity. But in this case the thing that became trendy was a bad way to serve food. Food trucks have tiny inefficient kitchens. They aren't designed to serve a lot of people quickly, and they aren't designed to serve a wide variety, but that's exactly what people are trying to use them for.
For now, people are impressed enough by the "experience" to not notice they've stood in line for twenty minutes to get a small portion of food that's not very good at a high price. If the food was actually good or unique, as with the old neighborhood food trucks of yore, maybe it'd be worth it, but these days most aren't. So how long will this trend really last?
Game of Thrones "Predictions" #8
Ok, so A Feast for Crows ends and it reveals that it and the
next novel are divided spatially rather than chronologically.
As Martin started wrapping up the threads it got marginally more
interesting. For the first time a character who I was pulling for and
who had significant converage was snuffed out (or so it seems; more on
that below). This was something I was expecting to happen once or
twice per novel, based on the reputation of series, but this is the
first time it happened with me. Since I thought Ned, Catelyn, and
Robb were all stupid, I wasn't really too attached to them. We had a
scare with Bran but I wasn't a fan of him either. Renly's death was
disappointing but since we didn't have a lot of time to build sympathy
it wasn't as hard-hitting as it could have been. However, though I
wasn't exactly enjoying the Brienne chapters, I was certainly pulling
for her, so this is probably the first death that had impact.
I was hilariously wrong is a bunch of past predictions, which I detail
- I had a prediction that Margery was schemeing against Cersei just as
much as Cersei was schemeing against her. It unlikely enough now,
based on Margery's actions after being arrested, to call this one
wrong. In fact, it looks like she was not even suspicious.
Likewise, Margery probably doesn't know about Jaime and Cersei's
illegitimacy. (It's possible that Margery was trying to scheme,
but that Cersei struck first, but she would have been very, very
slick to keep the act up in prison, likely facing treason charges.)
- I predicted Jaime and Brienne would meet again. Wrong, but again
see below. Then I predicted that they'd both meet up with Catelyn.
More wrong. Honestly I am surprised at the vehemence of Catelyn's
vendetta, but there's no negotiating with her now.
- I predicted a while back that Gendry would get his own chapters. It
seemed as if he'd gotten enough attention in the Arya chapters that
he'd get his own (kind of in the same way Theon got some in the
first novel) but it wasn't so.
But I was right on for a few:
- I was right that Aemon would realize Melisandre's folly when he
found out about Daenerys, but ended up being wrong (it appears,
although it could still happen indirectly) that Samwell would be the
one stuck with dealing with it.
- I correctly deduced that Myrcella was injured and disfigured, not
dead, and not just splashed with blood. It was an easy line to miss
or downplay. I was wrong about the source of her injury, though.
- I correctly predicted that Darkstar was the one to try to escape,
although that wasn't really that hard a guess. I did not correctly
identify him as Myrcella's injurer, though.
- Brienne. It looked as if she was hung, but there are two possible
reasons to belive that she might continue. First, the very last
thing we read about her is that she shouted out a word, supposedly
while being strangled by the rope. Could mean that something
happened at that instant, but of course we have no idea what.
Second reason, even if she did die, there's a man known to be able
to resurrect people, who is frustrated with the direction the
outlaws are going. So, is Brienne dead (and will she stay dead) or
- I predict she is dead for good, if for no other reason than
because I heard Martin likes to kill people you are pulling for
and this would be the first big one. Her final word that she
shouted out (let's assume that it was some kind of last wind) was
probably either Jaime or Renly. Which seems too obvious, but I
can't think of a better one.
- Cersei, it was clear that (like I thought) she wasn't a smart as she
thought she was, yet I don't expect her to go down easily. Jaime
abandoned her, in fact everyone but Qyburn seems to have. Who does
she have left? Taena is not going to be of much use. Littlefinger
wouldn't help her (and probably wouldn't have anyway, but definitely
won't now given his plans with Sansa). She probably will not be
able to finangle her way out of this with a trial by champion (and
would anyone champion her anyway?), so she is likely to have to
destabilize things. She'll do it, too. Somehow. Probably by
consorting with outsiders. She's pretty much down to the Freys on
her own side.
- Arya showed her true Stark colors by stupidly drinking the warm
milk, and now she's blind. My gut feeling is that it's not
permanent and wouldn't be surprised if it were an exercise
deliberately done to clue her onto her own stupidity. But my guess
it's a lesson in living in the dark, or a way to keep her from
killing before she's ready.
- Will this gambit that Littlefinger has with Sansa work, and what
does he get out of it? Tyrion is still alive, complicating things,
but their marriage is still eligible to be annulled. It seems too
tidy to work out correctly, so I'll predict (for the lack of a
better idea) that this Heir dude she's engaged to offs himself
before marrying Sanda and somehow war comes to the Vale.
- No clue what Jaime's going to do. I'll predict that he will come
into some drama with the outlaws again.
- We've been told that Davos was killed by someone (White Harbors, I
think?) kissing up , but we have no proof. Knowing now that Martin
wrote the fourth and fifth novels more or less simultaneously, it's
reasonable to assume he wrote about some of the actual incidents
with Davos before writing about characters talking about those
incidents, and the casualness of the references definitely suggests
the reader is familiar, and also is casual enough that is doesn't
seem foreboding. In other words, it's straight writing. Davos was
beheaded as advertised.
- I think the affair in Dragonstone with Sir Loras is going to be a
little more subtle than that Waters guy led on. In fact I am not so
sure Loras and Waters aren't in together on some kind of conspiracy.
Loras seemed eager to take Dragonstone despite him never really
being eager to do anything heretofore. That's what I'll predict,
but what for? Sieze Dragonstone for Highgarden? Raise (another)
rebellion against King's Landing? But with Loras in the Kingsguard
that seems unlikely, so I am guessing they were looking for secrets
of some sort, and Loras either ran out of patience or realized time
was running out.
- Speaking of Waters, what did he do when Cersei was seized? They
said he cut loose, but where? Most of the people in the narrow sea
part of the world have two options of any significance to the story:
the Wall, or Daenerys. Rumor in the book was that he went to join
Stannis. Problem is, I don't know how well Stannis is situated at
that time, and given the news of Davos's death (and the news that
Melisandre misread the signs and therefore was giving him bad
guidance) I will assume not good. Therefore, I'll predict that he
sought out Dany.
- Finally, Victarion. I fully expect him to locate Daenerys and put
the moves on her, and Dany... well she's clearly into conquesty
types so I think she'll at least be tempted. I think the main
significance of this might be to alert Dany to the presence of the
- I want to make a couple more far-reaching predictions. The Starks and
Co. all started in Winterfell. How many of them ever get back?
This probably won't come true until Martin completes the final
- Catelyn: No
- Sansa: No
- Arya: No
- Rickon: No
- Bran: Yes
- Jon Snow: Yes
- And at risk of being sentimental, I'll predict Tyrion finds Tysha,
perhaps in Braavos (i.e., where whores go). I wonder if we've
already seen her as one of the people Arya knows?
Game of Thrones Predictions #7.1
Jaime's aunt, from a position of knowledge, all but told him that
he and Cersei were not Tywin' children. This didn't exactly
blindside me; I had always thought there was a connection between
the Lannisters and the Targeryens but I kind of felt like it was
more of a "they go way back". But now that I am told Jaime and
Cersei are illegitimate a bunch of things (dramatic story elements)
fall into place, or seem to.
So quick prediction: Jaime and Cersei are the children of Mad King
Aegon. Thus making Jaime both a kingslayer and a kinslayer. So
much is explained: why Cersei and Jaime were into each other (it's
a Targaryen trait), it explains Joffrey's madness (although that
could be just be a random result due to incest, but it seems that
Targeryens madness goes beyond that and that Joffrey had that
particular brand of it). It explains a lot of the drama behind
Jaime's appointment to the Kingsguard. Aegon didn't just want to
screw over Tywin, he wanted his own son around. It kind of explains
Tywin's animosity toward Tyrion and coolness to Jaime: Jaime wasn't
his son, and the Imp was, highlighting Tywin's own inadequacy as a sire.
Not regarding who J&C's actual father is, some people have got to
know they're illegitimate, if his aunt knew. Who? Jaime obviously had no clue. Cersei
doesn't seem to know (I can think of no situation where she belies
- Jon Arryn knew, and that was the truth he actually discovered and
was killed for. (In the interests of dramatic irony I'll predict
that Arryn had no idea that Joffret and co. weren't Robert's children.)
- Margery Tyrell knows. That's the trap she's setting. Her grandmother
- Maester Aemon knew figured it out and it was part of what he was
ranting about in the end.
Ironically, this strengthens Tommen's claim (relative to before).
This may suggest Margery has it in for Jaime too, who of course
has prior claim over Tommen.
Game of Thrones "Predictions" #7
I am about 60% done with A Feast for Crows, and this seems like a
good place to stop and make some predictions for the rest of the book.
Where are we? (It's kind of hard to say since most of the storylines
are going nowhere fast, but we'll try.) Brienne is going toward
Riverrun to look for Sandor Clegane with a low-ranking Septon named
Meribald, who is one of the few new interesting characters. Jaime is
in Harrenhal, about to set off for Riverrun (hmm) with some of Gregor
Clegane's old forces. Samwell is in Braavos, trying to dig up stories
about dragons for a frail Maester Aemon, and apparently he just met
Arya, not knowing who she was. Prince Doran has thwarted Princess
Arianne's attempt to kidnap Myrcella. The iron islands have selected
Euron as their new King. And Cersei has armed the Church (hoping they
will fight Stannis), and starts to believe Ser Loras and Margery have
the same incestuous brother-sister relationship that she had with
I made some hilariously wrong ones:
- I predicted both Clegane brothers would pull through. Gregor is
certainly dead (we'll credit Qyburn with being corrupt enough to
hide the fact that he is a live for some reason, but doesn't seem
likley). Sandor is rumored to be alive, but the rumors are
unlikley. We'll call it likely wrong in both cases.
- I predicted Jon Snow's inheritance of Winterfell would become a
thing, but it hasn't so far and gets less likely the more the novel
- I surmised the Pycelle would end up the King's Hand, wrongly. I
also surmised that Dorne and the Tyrells (old town), would start to
get conquesty. Wrong on both counts, although in Dorne it was only
because it was thwarted.
A few other predictions are likely to turn out to be wrong, but I
won't call them wrong yet. I predicted Asha would get chapters,
plural. It's still not true, and the pattern suggests she might not
get any more.
I was right on one prediction: that Brienne would get her own
- The big one: Are Sir Loras and Margery doing it? It's complicated.
Certainly there are clues that suggest it retrospect (like when Ser
Loras got huffy when Tyrion asked him why he took a Kingsguard
post). If it were just that, I would just predict that they are
doing it and that Cersei would twist that to her advantage (though
it wouldn't work out as well as she'd think). Problem is, I have
suspicions that Margery (and probably Ser Loras also) is just as
busy manipulating things as Cersei is. Certainly Margery was a
protogee of her grandmother the Queen of Thorns. In the face of
ambiguity, I'll just go with the bigger surprise: it's an act.
Margery wants Cercei to think she and her brother are lovers, and
Cersei will work out this elaborate plan, only to fall into
- And then Margery will turn out to be a worse person than Cersei
- Jaime and Brienne will meet again. It almost has to happen, and
one way or another it'll have a big consequence. Jaime clearly is
attracted to her in spite of himself, but I'm not sure he's ready
to jump in yet. My hilarious guess is that Jaime and Brienne will
meet up with Catelyn and he will cross over. Or he'll be
disbelieved and again have to come to terms with his reputation.
- Maester Aemon has some purpose behind asking about the dragons. My
guess is that he will connect Dany's actions to Melisandre's and
realize something Very Bad is about to happen, probably at the
Wall, and he'll die leaving Samwell to make some decisions on how
to handle it.
- Who told on Princess Arianne? I'll guess Drey since he didn't
seemed too surprised, and then tried to convince Arianne to
cooperate. But I don't know if it was necessarily someone in the
- The Darkstar was the one who escaped after Ser Arys foolishly
diverted the Hotah's men.
- Why did Myrcella have blood streaming through her fingers? I'd
guess that she was hit by a stray arrow and (to make things
interesting) died of it, but since she was shaking and wailing she
would have only died of gangrene later. I'll predict she was hit
by a stray arrow and not killed but maybe disfigured? Of course,
maybe Arys's blood just splashed on her.
- Euron's horn is going to Not Work As Intended. I fully expect it
to have some effect on Dany's dragons. Remember, dragons are not
slaves, so I don't expect Euron to control them to his will, but he
might make them act out. Dany (who, I expect when we next meet
her, we will see that she has been ruling very well) will have to
be on the move again because of it.
I really liked the characters from the Dornish chapters.
I never liked Cersei (either as a person or as a character), and her
own chapters aren't making me like her any more.
Seriously, where in the world is Tyrion?
So apparently the most controversial thing to ever happen is this dress that no one can agree what color it is, and the illusion is so strong that some narrowminded actually think it's a hoax perpetuated by half the population.
The science behind the illusion isn't really that controversial. Some people's visual systems see it (incorrectly) as a white-colored dress in shadow; other people's visual systems see it (correctly) as a blue dress in the light. It's a well-known effect called color constancy, and you can see a bunch of relatively innocuous examples of it on the Internet.
What's interesting about this illusion (to me) is just how little context is needed to get the illusion for some people, including myself sometimes. There is a narrow strip of overexposed background on the upper-right corner, and that is apparently enough to cause our brains to think the dress is in shadow. So I wondered whether an object in the foreground, say another dress, that was clearly in the light, could thwart the illusion.
People who only see the dress as gold and white: how do you see this image? I did nothing at all to the color of the original dress; I only added the red dress in front of it (and a little drop shadow).
I sometimes see the original image as white and gold, but never this one. For me the dress is always blue and black in this image.
Game of Thrones "Predictions" #6
I am now finished with A Storm of Swords (which now appears to be poorly named since there was less fighting in this book than the first two). Also unlike the first two books, it ended up with no real cliffhangers (except for a literal one that was resolved before the end), but a did end up with a lot of open questions.
As such, I really have less to go on than in prior books. In those books there was a state of war, so the people involved had immediate motivations, but now with so much left open I don't have a lot of material to work with. What is Tyrion doing now? What would motivate him, and how does he plan to get it? What is Petyr going to do with Sansa? What is Stannis going to do (or, more accurately, how is he)?
Also, when is winter? It barely looks like autumn in a lot of places. One of the few things I knew about Westeros before I started reading was that seasons were unpredictable and lasted for many years, and given that it was this apparently significant fact, I was expecting the books to cover several cycles, not a 3-year transition from late summer to early autumn.
Another thing I keep waiting for is for people I built an emotional connection to die. That was pretty much the other fact I knew about these books. So far, nothing much. Closest thing to it was Renly. Are people talking about Ned and Catelyn and Robb? Or does it not really get going until the next two books?
Turned out to be wrong on a few predictions. Here they are.
- I predicted (way back) that Sensa would be the first Stark child to die, since I was thinking they would die in the same order as the direwolves. Now, we know Robb is dead (probably permanently since they cut off his head), and ironically, Sansa is the only one most people think is still alive.
- I predicted a big mess at Edmund Tully's endagement at the Twins (and in truth, it was kind of hard not to forsee; one of the reasons I think Martin spent time with Robb and Catelyn discussing battle plans against Pike was to throw us off a little, try to make us think those moments mattered), but I didn't anticipate just how shamelessly treaterous the Freys were. As such all the predictions I made were wrong. So Sandor Clegane never delivered Arya and we never had any drama over that (or with Roose Bolton demanding justice for the man she killed). I did predict Robb would never make it out of the Twins alive, but I was expecting something more subtle: a dagger after the ceremony or something.
However, I was right (or partially right) about quite a few.
- I predicted that Sansa keeping her meeting with Dontos would let her escape; I was wrong about it being that particular meeting, but was right about her keeping those meetings allowing her eventually to escape.
- I predicted that Arya would somehow reunite with Needle. Soon after I made it, I thought, "Oh come on, you have to be kidding, there is no room for that kind of sentimentality in these books." Lo and behold....
- I predicted that Shae would break Tyrion's heart at some point. She did a good job faking it.
- I predicted that Rosalin would be beautiful. She was a little awkward and weak but definitely looked a lot better than Edmund Tully was expecting.
- I predicted that Jaime's reuniting with Cersei would be not
Also, my prediction that the Others would turn out to be the same beings as the Children of the Forest was not proven, but it did get some good evidence: Melisandre called the Others the "Children of the Other". I realized that Melisandre often called the enemy of R'hllor the Other, but I never connected this with the Others. Perhaps because I think of Melisandre as coming from a hot, desert-like climate.
- Both Clegane brothers have (or seem to have) septic wounds. We are led to think they will both die. Which is why I don't think neither one will. I positively hope Gregor dies since he's not that interesting a character. But the case with Sandor seems almost too contrived for him to die there. I am not even sure that he was a ailing as he let on.
- The one person with a clear motivation is Daenerys. I am prediciting she will do as she intends (remain queen in Meereen and maybe even expand), but something will happen at some point to interrupt it, and I'm guessing it's not something good (from her persepective). She'll see an opportunity or something and go off to seek her throne in Westeros. Perhaps it has already happened but she doesn't know it yet.
- Jon Snow is technically the Lord of Winterfell right now, with or without Stannis's offer, since Robb disinherited his siblings before he died. As far as I can make out, the end of the novel is maybe two months or so after the massacre at the Freys, so it might not have been well-publicized heretofore. Maybe the maesters have to get together and verify it or something. But the news will hit fairly soon and it'll cause some trouble. (My first guess would be with Petyr since he is probably thinking Tyrion will be killed and he'll marry Sansa and inherit Winterfell through here. Also what if Bran shows up, who would have been the Lord of Winterfell if not for being disinherited?)
- Hard to guess what Tyrion might do. My guess at his only motivation is to get revenge on Cersei, and I have no other idea. He wanted Casterly Rock but apart from getting rid of Cersei (who I believe has inherited it since Jaime is ineligible) I doubt he would be rash enough to think he could get it right away. As far as I know, the only person in the world he thinks he is friends with is none other than Jon Snow, so that is who I am guessing he'll be seeking out. He might even take the black.... Another thought: he could seek out Daenerys and ally himself with the Targaryens. However, I doubt he'd have much of a read on how powerful she had grown.
- Arya is headed for Braavos. Her main motivation seems to be killing lots of people, so I'm guessing she is heading off to be a made a warrior princess. Maybe a witch like Melisandre, or a warrior like Brienne.
- Since Jaime sent Brienne off, it seems like she might start getting her own chapters. There is no one to follow her travels, unless she suddenly appears in a Sansa chapter. If she doesn't get her own chapters, that's what I'm guessing happens.
- The situation at King's Landing is a mess. Tommen is king, but with Tywin gone who will step up to be leader? Seems like it'll be a mess. My early guess is that Pycelle will be the King's Hand, but I don't know how stable that situation will be. It seems as if the Tyrells (Ser Loras's clan) will get a little conquesty, maybe the Dornish peoples as well.
I can't really make a prediction about Petyr and Sansa. One thing that surprised me is how deftly Petyr kidnapped Sansa, seemingly without Varys noticing it. I am not so sure I belive Varys has birds listening everywhere like everyone thinks he does, but I find it hard to believe that Varys wouldn't have noticed. This means that either Varys is in on it, or that Petyr is a lot more formidable than he has looked. I'd guess the latter, given the cool way he dealt with the situation with Lady Arryn. Now he has the Vale (since he's likely to be regent) and has his eyes on Winterfell (via a planned marriage to Sansa) but what is he going to do if he finds that Tyrion is alive, and that Robb disinherited Sansa? Also, it seems he will soon have Brienne to deal with.
Bran, I mean seriously, what the hell is he doing. For several months he's been traveling to meet some seer in the middle of nowhere who's probably going to tell him to man up and go be Lord of Winterfell already.
Game of Thrones "Predictions" #5
I'm about halfway through A Storm of Swords and I have to say it is a big improvement, easily my favorite of the three books so far. (The Tyrion chapters were pretty much the only good thing from A Clash of Kings.) Anyway, I have more hilarious "predictions" coming.
Right now here is where it stands. Arya has been captured by Sandor Clegane and he's revealed to her that he's not taking her to King's Landing but to the Twins to return her to her mother. Robb and Catelyn are heading toward the Twins in an endless downpour, and Robb has laid out plans to attack the ironmen. Sansa is married to Tyrion but they still haven't done it. Daenerys has captured Yunkai relatively peacefully. Jon has escaped the wildlings and rode on ahead to Castle Black to warn them. Samwell has encountered a mysterious Night's Watchman. Jaime has been released by Roose Bolton, then returned to rescue Brienne from the Bloody Mummers. Davos has been made Stannis's Hand.
A couple of my predicitons did turn out to be hilariously wrong.
- I predicted that the Melisandre's shadow child was Patches, mainly trying to think of the most unlikely person possible. Based on Melisandre's words as she was trying to seduce Davos, clearly the child was Lord Stannis.
- I predicted Jon Snow's mother was a Targaryen, thinking it was the only person Ned would want to cover up so bad. Now we've been told it's a servant called Wylla in the house of Dayne, and that Ned apparently made a pretext of loving Ashara Dayne to get to Wylla, and that Ashara killed herself over it. Ouch, no wonder he kept it secret.
But I was right on a couple:
- Correctly predicted who was alive and dead at the end of the second book.
- Correctly predicted a stalemate between Lannisters and Starks as the Starks went to deal with the ironmen.
A word on religion. I doubt it'll ever be resolved explicitly, but it appers that the gods are taking an active role in the events of Westeros. The problem is, we don't know if it's the gods, or mere magic, or what. For instance, it's not said if the pyromancers are invoking any gods to do their alchemy, but then they imply that the presense of dragons in the world might be helping their alchemical skills to be more efficient implying that it's more than just alchemy.
- The God of Light, R'hllor, seems to be the most powerful god in the story. If it was only Melisandre doing it, I'd guess that she is just a powerful sorceress, and that R'hllor wasn't real. But Lord Beric and Thoros also follow R'hllor and they seem to get revelations the same way at least, and Lord Beric survives assassination attempts.
- However, R'hllor is not all-powerful, and even Thoros admits that in some locations the old nameless gods are stronger. The old gods have been credited with enough that I'm inclined to think they exist also. The direwolves, answering Samwise Tully's prayer, and the revelations of the old woman on High Heart. However, none of these are certain.
- I have yet to see anything that suggests the new gods (Mother, Father, Crone, etc.) are real.
- The gods in the east are implied to have some kind of power, and some knowledge of magic (such as through the maegi) is there, but nothing is certain. Technically, R'hllor is an Eastern god (Melisandre is from Asshai) but I'm not counting him.
The thing that's not clear at all is whether different god are more or less powerful, or if people are more or less skilled at channeling the gods.
My prediction is that the latter is true: the gods may or may not have varying powers, but the primary determination is the skills of the person in channeling that power. Melisandre is powerful witch who is better than anyone at channeling, even if R'hllor himself is a relatively weak god.
One wrinkle to this is that the influence of the gods (or general metaphysical abstractions, which may be the same thing) reflects their global popularity. The pyromancers became more powerful ostensibly because dragons had been born a continent away, which made Fire a more influential "God" all over the world. Likewise, Thoros was self-admitted bad priest, until one day he was suddenly able to resurrect Lord Beric. Could it be because Melisandre was gaining power with R'hllor at the same time, or is it also connected to the dragons, or both?
The meeting at the Twins is probably going to turn into a royal mess.
- I am suspicious of the Frey's motives.
- Arya's headed there, so is Roose Bolton. When Sandor Clegane delivers her, Roose will recognize her as the person who stole three horses and killed a sentry (which, if you think about it, makes Arya a grand hypocrite when it comes to Clegane). Robb and Catelyn will not hear anything of having Arya be punished fir this. This will likely honk of Roose and they will pull out of the northern alliance.
- Roose's delivery of Jaime to the Lannisters will likely honk off others in the North as well. (Although it's not certain he'd want to admit this, but he might after he gets slighted.)
- Robb will probably do something stupid like turn down Sandor's service and just pay him gold, probably a lot more than he has to as well.
- I'm guessing Robb doesn't leave the Twins alive.
- And probably would have if Roose hadn't left.
- Which means that Jon Snow becomes Lord of Winterfell, even though all of Robb's brothers and sisters are still alive. Disinheriting Sansa might have been a good idea, but given that Arya's status was still uncertain, he shouldn't have disinherited her.
- So now there's a succession crisis over Winterfell, and the Pykes still attacking.
Among other reasons why I think Robb is doomed is the curse the Stannis placed on them. He burned three leeches, one for each usurper: Balon, Joffrey, and Robb. Balon already died under strange circumstances. So I predict that Robb does as well. On the bright side, this also means Joffrey dies.
I'm a little skeptical of this, though, because I think the ability to cast curses on people over great distances like this would upset the balance in a story like this. Another reason: Robb's old gods have some power and might be able to protect him from the curse.
Robb thinks that there will be succession crisis in Pyke now that Balon has died, but remember this is based on information from the idiot Theon Greyjoy. Based on the text it sounds as if Asha might not actually have any rivals as heir, so the North attack might take them in at a vulnerable moment like they thought.
Rosalin will turn out to be beautiful. The story is clearly implying that Edmund Tully and everyone else expects her to be a ugly hose beast, which is why I'm predicting she won't be.
Gendry will start to get his own chapters. This will allow us to continue to follow Lord Beric and Thoros and the outlaws.
Sansa still has hope in escaping. We are told that her marriage to Tyrion is still annullable because they hadn't had relations, so of course we are going yo think she's going to get with Dantos again and escape as they originally planned. Which is why I think it won't happen that way. I'd guess things are going according to plan when she gets raped (or sillier, she loses her mind and has sex with someone like Ser Loras), thus can no longer prove her maidenhood and so can't get an annulment).
The person that rescused Samwell? Benjen Stark. We are led to believe he shared the fate of Waymar Royce and others who became wights, but they never found out what happened to him.
Jaime is clearly enamored with Brienne in spite of himself. (We know Jaime would think nothing to treaterously kill his enemies, so when he leaves her alive despite several opportunities to eliminate her, we know something about her attracts him.) I guess he reunites with Cercei and suddenly finds her lacking in some way. She'll find him lacking in some way, too.
Jaime wouldn't be able to release Sansa, although he had decided to.
Children of the Forest? The Others? Same thing.
I had written earlier that the Lannisters were boring because they were a stereotypical evil family. However, I did opine that maybe they were acting the role deliberately, and from the Jaime chapters it is clear that is the case for him at least.
I was very happy to see that the first chapter of this novel was a Jaime chapter, because he seemed like a character with so much potential. He rocketed to be my favorite character when I read these lines: "Jaime had decided that he would return Sansa, and the younger girl as well if she could be found. It was not like to win him back his lost honor, but the notion of keeping faith when they all expected betrayal amused him more than he could say."
Davos is probably the least believable character in the whole series. I find it hard to believe that this timid, honest-to-a-fault man was once a fearless smuggler.
The Daenerys story was so interesting in A Game of Thrones. After she hatched the dragons, I was expecting an exiting story of conquest as her little khal slowly reconquered all of the Dothraki. But she spent all of the second novel and half the third novel running from city to city trying to gain favors, and it got lame and stayed lame. Then she attacked Astapor and it instantly got real interesting again. Took long enough.
I hope Asha gets her own chapters.
Game of Thrones "Predictions" #4
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first two novels of A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings.
I am done reading the second novel, A Clash of Kings. My first two sets of "predictions" either have not been resolved, have been way off base, or have been correct. This time, though, I have made some hilariously bad ones.
Assesment of prior predictions
Some of my predictions turned out to be correct. Halfway through the first novel I predicted Theon would turn out to have a significant role, and that he'd be a destabilizing factor to the Starks. Boy was I right, though I expected his distabilizing influence to be from within.
Then I hilariously predicted that he might recapitulate and help the Starks after his cool treatment from his own family. That doesn't seem like it'll happen now, though, even if he's still alive. In retrospect that's kind of a dumb prediction. Theon was clearly going to be one of those people who, when shunned by his family, would actually try harder.
I predicted that it would turn out that the Small Council was on Ned's side early on but he lost them. Doesn't appear to be so, though. Only one that might have been true for is Varys.
For awhile there I was afraid that my prediction that Bran would survive to the end was (nearly immediately) wrong, but I guess not. So that prediction still stands.
I definitely predicted the standoff between Stannis and Renly would be very unexpected (and perhaps out of nowhere), and I was totally right. I did not correctly predict what would happen, but that was kind of tangential to my main prediction and I only threw it out there.
I predicted that Sansa would find escape the very night she successfully lied to Tyrion, thinking it a waste for this to be just a character milestone for Sansa, but I guess it was. (It's kind of amusing that she and Ser Dontos have been able to keep their meetings a secret under Lannister eyes for so long.)
I correctly predicted Anya's second victim, but was wrong about the identity and circumstance of #3 (which turned out to be more like victims 3-10). Although victim #11, by her own hand, was the same circumstance as I predicted for #3.
- The fate of several characters is unanswered.
- Ser Davos: Alive. Metareasoning here: he needs more page time to earn more sympathy.
- Jaime Lannister: Alive. Catelyn cut out his tongue I'm guessing.
- Lord Stannis: Alive. On one hand, dying is too convenient an excuse to explain his disappearance. On the other, I think the story would be more interesting with him gone. His heir is now his daughter, and his wife and Melisandre would control her. I'll go with A, and predict that Melisandre (or, more likely, her shadow child) is responsible for whisking him away.
- Theon Greyjoy: Dead. (It's heavily implied, but Martin leaves just enough room open for him to survive.)
- Who is the shadow child? Davos said he knew who it was. I highly doubt it was Lord Stannis (although the story kind of implied it is him based on his dream when Lord Renly was being killed). It had to be someone Davos knows, and is almost certainly someone we know. That leaves only a few people. The one I am guessing is... Patches. The fool. I'll go so far as to predict that Patches's original wit was stolen by Melisandre to serve as the shadow child.
- So now the Lannisters control all the lands South of God's eye. What happens next? I kind of doubt they'll team up with Pike and the Greyjoys. A lot of Stannis's army will doubtless bend the knee to Joffrey, but I still expect them to keep busy keeping down some insurrection. Robb is going to have to pay more attention to the North. So Lannisters versus Starks will stagnate for awhile, while Robb deals with the Ironmen.
- Theon's dream where Robb and Grey Wind were stabbed? I don't believe it. Theon has shown no signs of prescient dreams. Robb might be killed yet (and I do kind of expect it sooner or later) but it's not anything to do with Theon's dream.
- The fact that everyone was told Bran and Rickon were killed is going to cause trouble later on.
New characters I like and disklike
Characters I thought were interesting
- Theon Greyjoy, if only for the sheer trainwreck factor. Similar to Viserys Targaryen, in a way.
- Asha Greyjoy, for being awesome.
- Quorin Halfhand. Too bad he bit it.
Characters I thought were not interesting
- Ser Davos: Kind of a flat character. Martin didn't really build enough sympathy for him.
- Melisandre. So far she's just a stereotypical evil witch, though in fairness, she didn't have a lot of coverage.
Of the characters who died so far, Renly Baratheon was the one I was closest to being attached to. He would have made a great king, in spite of his flaws.
I had thought the Starks were stupid. No, Theon Greyjoy is stupid. He did not do a single thing in the whole novel that wasn't completely off-the-wall brain-dead. He never planned for or even considered anything beyond step one (and sometimes he didn't even consider that, as when he declined to return with Asha), and every single thing he did, or didn't do, had negative repurcussions later on. Also he completely disregarded everyone's very explicit statements of his standing in the family. (And it's not like he was oblivious to it like Viserys Targaryen was; Theon knew and understood his standing in the family, but then simply acted like it didn't apply to him.)
Whenever the Lannisters engage in brutality, there is a reason for it. Even Joffrey has a degree of insane logic to his saddistic tendencies. For Theon, whether he was being brutal or magnanimous, the ony rationale behind his decision seems to be how can he do the most utterly stupid thing possible.
Arya's moral crossover is slightly, but not wholly, unexpected. After watching the Mountain and Tickler for so long, and after indirectly killing through a hitman, why wouldn't she pick up those same behaviors? Still, everything she does shows that she's smarter than everyone else in her family. She actually learns from her mistakes.
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