Atomic Fungus
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in atomic_fungus' LiveJournal:

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    Wednesday, May 27th, 2015
    2:06 pm
    #4738: Peanut butter
    There is exactly one variety of peanut butter you can buy at the local grocery store which does not have sugar added--Smucker's Natural Peanut Butter. It has two ingredients: peanuts and salt. That's it, end of list. No sugar, no partially hydrogenated oils, no preservatives, nothing but peanuts and salt. Every other variety of "natural" peanut butter has other crap added to it; and of the stuff that's typically added to peanut butter, sugar (or, worse, high fructose corn syrup) is the stuff I want the least. It is, of course, the single most common additive in peanut butter, "natural" or not.

    So Smucker's is what I buy. You can't get it for less than about $3 a jar, a price that's remained remarkably stable even as everything else has risen. You can buy Meijer brand natural peanut butter, which is almost an acceptable substitute but for the fact that it doesn't taste as good as Smucker's does and has a higher percentage of oil in it. Having been on the "natural" bandwagon for so long, anything that's got added sweetener tastes too sweet to me now.

    ...why? Doesn't it cost more to add all that crap? Seems to me that the basic operation of grinding peanuts into peanut butter and canning the result doesn't (shouldn't) somehow cost more than grinding, hydrogenating, titrating, mixing, testing, and canning that any other kind of peanut butter would need. Some amount of testing is unavoidable, but the less you're adding the less testing it takes. Right?

    But the people who make peanut butter insist on adding all kinds of stuff to their product.

    I suppose part of it is that when you're making a product with a minimum of added guck, the raw materials cost more, because their quality is much more important than in the product which is modified and processed to the correct specification. You can make more money using inferior peanuts and adding sugar and oil and preservatives to get the taste and texture right, and to keep the stuff from getting moldy.

    I'm not even that much of a nazi about it. I'd eat a homogenized peanut butter if I could get one that didn't have sugar or corn syrup in it; the sugar is what I want to avoid--but as far as I've seen no such product exists. And given the prevalence of diabetes, I'm at a loss to understand why.

    (Kindly do not point out this or that hyper-expensive peanut butter which must be ordered from so-and-so. I want to pay $2-3 a jar and I want to be able to buy it at a store within a 10-minute drive of the bunker.)

    (Also, I know you can get custom-ground peanut--and other nut--butters at Whole Foods. It only costs about $7 a jar, too. Screw that.)

    * * *

    In recent years I have been giving thought to my year in kindergarten--particularly how evil my kindergarten teacher was.

    She was a hideous feminist type, and all my memories of her are negative ones--her being angry that I was making a list of names of my classmates, because Valentine's Day was coming up and I'd forgotten that we'd been given a list. I was telling 'em to go get their crayon boxes and writing their names down from there, and they were doing what I said--probably the display of alpha maleness was offensive to her feminism--and she put an angry stop to it as soon as she noticed what was happening.

    She was always angry.

    She was annoyed when she found me sitting my myself and reading a book; she was angry when I was playing with other kids--though I don't remember what triggered it, she hauled me out into the hallway one time and dressed me down in low, angry tones--and she was angry about just about everything. This is the person who asked us what our favorite color is, and when I raised my hand, got called on, and said, "Blue!" she said, "Oh, I don't like blue. It's such a depressing color."


    ...I think of all this now because there was a time she made peanut butter in the classroom, to show us how it was made, and she ground up peanuts in a blender and then mixed them with butter.


    * * *

    To make things even more entertaining, over the past week or so I've been having GI pain. It feels like a flareup of the old diverticulosis and/or irritable bowel. Today I opened a new jar of peanut butter, and the top of it looked all wrong, and for a moment I was thinking I'd have to delay my breakfast to exchange the jar of peanut butter...and then realized that no, what had happened was that I'd simply grabbed a jar of chunky when I wanted creamy. Argh etc.

    When you're having diverticular problems, you don't want whole nuts or seeds in your diet. (Ground up is okay, but not whole.) Generally the jury seems to be out on whether or not eating them is advisable for people with chronic diverticular disease, but I figure that when I'm having a flare up it's best to avoid them, and it's otherwise all right.

    Chunky peanut butter! Just what I need! *sigh* fact it probably isn't going to make a damned bit of difference.

    But I recall seeing a bit of something on the news last week, or the week before, about how irritable bowel disorder has been linked to certain varieties of food poisoning/gastroenteritis, and that a course of antibiotics seems to clear it up.

    I'm not surprised by this. IBD is treated as an autoimmune disorder in the US, like Crohn's is...and it turns out that in Europe both disorders are treated as infections.

    Well, hell--of course anti-inflammatories are going to mitigate the symptoms of an infection, because inflammation is a bodily defense mechanism against infection. It also keeps the victim patient coming back month after month and year after year for more treatment and more pills, all of which are billed at 500% of their reasonable market value because the medical industry isn't subject to the same business laws that other industries must obey. I mean, hell--you go and cure a condition like that and there's no money in it for anybody, especially if it takes $3 worth of a basic antibiotic to do it.

    Before I got that extra-bad cold around Christmas, my digestive tract was an unholy mess. I was mildly worried about something serious being wrong, because my output had been consistently dysenteric for months and I had been slowly losing weight...but the doc prescribed a course of antibiotics for my tonsils, and mirabile visu the gut malf just went away.

    Well--"worried" is too strong a term. Something wasn't working correctly and I was concerned, but it was obvious that I wasn't really sick. It was more annoying than anything else. The thing about IBD is that its inconsistency is consistent, and everything changes weekly (and sometimes daily). Sometimes it'll be one way for a while, then abruptly change to something else and stay there for a long time. The idea that it could be a lingering case of gut malf simply did not occur to me...but since that episode I've wondered if there's a way to convince my doc to put me on a regimen that will knock this literal shit right the hell out.

    But of course doctors would rather have you visit them four times a year and get periodic scrips for dicyclomine and-and-and, because that pays their bills a lot better than curing you of the damned nonsense.

    ...early in the 20th century, after the appendectomy was perfected, french doctors lamented the loss of the cash cow that chronic appendicitis represented for them. We used to have a medical system that cared about people, not profits...but that hasn't been how it's worked for decades, now.

    * * *

    It's been warm and sticky the past few days--well, summer, what can you do?

    The thermodynamics of the bunker have been cooperating such that I was able to sit in the family room with the thermostat set at 76°, without a fan blowing on me, and remain comfortable. The AC wasn't even running; it would turn on for 15, 20 minutes, then quietly shut off again.

    ...when it's 95° in the shade outside, however, that will not be the case.

    Airflow is the hard part. It can be nice and cool in the hallway but sticky in the bedroom, and the only way to remedy that is to put a fan in the hallway to force cooler air into the bedroom. Then the bedroom cools off quickly and becomes comfortable.

    The HVAC system in this house is not very well designed. The bunker is an L-shaped ranch, and rather than put the furnace at the center of the house it's off to one side, because of how the basement worked out; this means that the public area of the house is properly ventilated but the bedrooms are not.

    Rectifying this would be extremely expensive.

    The original plan for the house had it sitting on a full basement. The house--having been designed in the early 1960s--was originally meant to have a sloped roof which was higher on the street side than on the back side, which was the avant garde look in the 1960s but which would have looked f-ing hideous. Dad wisely had the architect re-design the roof to a more conservative standard, but that took money from the budget, and the full basement turned into a half basement. Air going to the bedrooms from the furnace has to travel a long way and make a right-angle turn in the process. I've found it easier just to put a fan at the hall entrance, then another fan at the bedroom door; that cools the room more effectively than the HVAC alone.

    Noisy, but effective. *sigh*

    * * *

    Tomorrow is Thursday already. Having your weekend in the middle of the week makes the week go by very quickly.

    * * *

    This piece by Sarah Hoyt is thought-provoking. It's about lines people won't cross, not for any reason.

    ...and it makes me think about me and my life and the people around me.

    One of the basic tenets of my life was that my parents did a pretty good job of raising me and my siblings. As I get older, though, I am learning that no, they really didn't.

    One of us died of alcoholism. Two of us are successful people who--to all casual inspection--seem happy, but if you look deeper you see how clearly unhappy they are with just about everything. And then there's me.

    My wife has had quite a job of knocking the rough edges off of me. She's made me into a much more thoughtful person than I ever was before, more considerate and more conscious of the kind of casual comments that Dad routinely made which were actually nasty when you thought about it. Like boiling a frog I grew up in that environment, so it never occurred that things could be otherwise.

    Mom and Dad raised us the way their parents raised them.

    I don't keep the yard in perfect shape because Dad never did. He put everything into his job and came home exhausted, and I do that too; I've done that for the entirety of my career. Dad was an extremely intelligent man, and rarely had to put his maximum effort into doing anything, and he was very successful...but the lessons I learned from him weren't about that. Ninety percent of the time I saw him he was watching TV or sleeping, or fishing. What he told me didn't jibe with what he did, not where I could see it.

    Even so, I was raised better than a hell of a lot of people, apparently. I could read and write at age 5, for example.

    ...but my wife has done other things besides knock off rough edges. Knowing that she's going to be there for me has given me a spine--or, more like, firmed up the one I always had but was afraid to show, because any time I showed the slightest sign of having my own ideas about things I was crushed for it.

    Things are difficult, but not impossible. I am having to reform my lines (to refer back to Hoyt's post again) in a chaotic environment, made more difficult by under- and non-employment, distressingly weak cash flow, and a seemingly unending series of crises. There are people who thrive on that, who cannot function unless every day brings a new crisis, but I neither want nor need that kind of existence.

    This won't go on forever; it'll get better. The hard part is not giving in to despair--compared to that, the rest of it is easy.

    * * *

    ...I just found out that the $50 Visa card I got for turning in pellet points is not usable wherever Visa is accepted, but only at certain merchants. The list would fit on a single sheet of loose-leaf with room to spare. Of course my employer is not listed; why would it be? I might be able to do something useful with the thing instead of going to Bath & Bodyworks or Destination Maternity or Pottery Barn or Sunglass Hut!

    Well, I guess I know where my next $50 worth of pet supplies is coming from--1800PetSupplies. Argh etc.
    Tuesday, May 26th, 2015
    12:20 pm
    #4737: Talked myself right into a job! my dreams.
    Woke up from a dream that I was on an interview, and they were about to reject me: "Well, we don't really use computers that much here." In the dream, I got mad and told them off, pointing out all the computers they were using routinely, with a special mention of the vintage 1970 mainframe they were replacing with new hardware as evidence that they'd been using computers for a very long time. After that the HR woman decided to hire me immediately, but of course I got hung up trying to get through the window she'd gone through. Even so I made it to the induction room and lined up with the other guys to get my doll, only in the process of doing that I dropped one of my gloves and was riding the bike in traffic so I couldn't just stop and pick it up. Pulled off to the side and rearranged the handlebar bag full of Enfields (rifles) so I would have enough hands free, then switched off the ignition and turned to go get it, but--

    Woke up.

    Actually there was a lot more to it, involving an ex-boss of mine, and trying to scan images from large-format negatives, and walking up stairs with bizarre bike traps, and a host of other nonsense. Same meds I always take, so I have no idea WTF that shit was about.

    In the real world, of course, getting angry and yelling at a roomful of prospective coworkers is not the path to career success.

    * * *

    Mrs. Fungus put on Wayward Pines last night and I gave up on it about a third of a way through the second episode. I saw nothing in the story that had not been done better by The Prisoner, which at least had the advantage of being avant garde TV at the time it was made. ...and which also didn't contradict itself the way this show does. In The Prisoner they didn't tell Patrick McGoohan that they'd kill him if he tried to escape, for example, but merely thwarted his escape attempts. They wanted him alive.

    Contrast that with WP. One example of contradiction: guy meets waitress at bar. Goes back the next day, the guy who owns the place claims she doesn't work there. Goes back again later, she's there, and the guy who owns the bar is bringing in supplies and they greet each other. WTF.

    WP is a 10-ep mini series, and the glacial pace of the story in the first two eps was also a turn-off for me. Okay, he's trapped in a weird town, we get it, so let's move on, here.

    * * *

    Not autistic, just hyperintelligent. Try an IQ of 170; high IQ is not a feature of autism spectrum disorder. The kid's mother was assured by experts that he would never be able to read, yet somehow at age 11 this kid was in college, and I'm pretty sure you have to be able to read to attend college and study condensed matter physics.

    Gadzooks, never ever blindly believe what "experts" tell you. They don't know everything. It's especially important to stop believing them whey they make the appeal to authority ("I'm the expert on this, so you have to do what I say!").

    Well, the kid's mother did it right: she tried what the experts said, saw that it wasn't working, and tried something else that worked brilliantly. The kid's much better off for it, too. That's the important part.

    * * *

    From today's weather report:
    Pressure 29.85 in
    Visibility 10.0 miles
    Clouds [omitted, not important]
    Heat Index 75 °F
    Dew Point 66 °F
    Humidity 75%
    Rainfall -999.00 in
    Snow Depth Not available.
    UV 3 out of 12
    Pollen 7.20 out of 12
    Air Quality Not available.
    Flu Activity Sporadic
    So we're enduring an epic drought, I guess, since we've had negative 83 FEET of rain. Hey, at least it's not snowing in late May! And since when is flu a meteorological condition?

    Monday, May 25th, 2015
    4:42 pm
    #4736: Summer, and the fans are on
    Which is why when my wife's WoW client had a goblin say "New shipment's coming in soon!" I heard it as "This shit's covered in soup!"

    It does not help that I spent five hours in the noise box. It further does not help that I barely slept last night. *sigh*

    * * *

    While at church on Sunday--the first time I went in, I think, more than a year--I realized why I had not gone: the contrast between being at church and being at the soul-sucking noise box is stark and knife-edged, and sitting in church I could not believe how awful the world is by comparison. "Be in the world, not of it" is an extremely difficult thing to manage. I try, but I do not do very well, because being of the world is such an easy place to fall into; and once you are of the world it is very, very hard to climb out of that pit. The shallow things have a very strong grip on your soul, because that grip is all they are.

    Being of the world gets your bills paid, and makes your life very, very comfortable...but this life is a temporary thing, and when you get to the hereafter, the material things you struggled to obtain don't amount to a hill of beans, and they certainly won't buy you a place at God's side.

    As tough as it was, I needed to go back, though. As hard as things have been in my personal economy there is a reason I'm going through all this, and it's not because some cosmic jester is getting a cheap laugh out of it. I needed to go back, and from now on every Sunday I have off I'm making a concerted effort to go. I may not rejoin choir and I may not do the trustee thing, but just going to worship is the most important part anyway.

    * * *

    But it's Monday afternoon, and I have the next couple of days off, and I have time to do things I want to do alongside all the chores that remain. I will not be bored.
    Sunday, May 24th, 2015
    6:54 pm
    #4735: 10 laps left, and left hanging.
    I really must get it through my head that the DVR doesn't know what's on TV, but merely follows a pre-set schedule.

    ...came home from church this morning and just wanted to go back to bed, so I set the DVR to record the race and hit the hay for a few hours. Started watching it well after it had ended, and of course as it wound down towards the end of the race things started to get exciting. Ten laps to go, just saw some really exciting moves and close calls, and...up pops the dialog box asking if I wanted to keep or delete the recording now that I've finished watching it.


    Saw on-line that Montoya won it. I don't have any favorite racers; usually I decide who to root for based on how the race shakes out. I was rooting for Montoya this year because of his fantastic run from 30th to first place, and he was clearly one of the best drivers of the race. I just didn't get to see him win it because of the aforementioned DVR thing.

    In my defense, though, I really was falling-on-my-face tired. Next year I'll just have to do better.

    * * *

    Bluesun bought himself a 50" wind chime. I like the big ones. They cost too much IMHO but someday I'll get some copper tubing and start cutting and tuning and make one (and probably it'll cost more than buying one already made).

    * * *

    Turned out to be a rainy day today after all, so I'm not going to cut the grass. That's all right, considering how f-ing tired I am, but it does mean we'll probably need a herd of goats next time. Well, that's how it goes.
    Saturday, May 23rd, 2015
    6:02 pm
    #4734: Well, that's it until Monday
    Tomorrow is supposed to be cloudy and warm. I don't really mind, though I would like to have a sunny day when I don't have to go to work. It doesn't matter; I can still get my chores done as long as it doesn't rain.

    Last night on my way home from work, the Jeep's left rear turn signal bulb died again. This is the second time I've had to replace that bulb since I got the truck. Why is it that one? *sigh*

    Anyway I have the bulb on hand (bought a two-pack last time) and I even think I know where it is. All I have to do is make with the screwdrivers.

    Tomorrow I'm hoping to get over to the parts store for a new valve stem for the right front tire. Hopefully get that fixed. Argh etc.

    Otherwise I want to do as little as possible. Today was another day where I got home from work and had nothing left. Hell, I had nothing left two hours before quitting time; this has been a very wearying week.

    * * *

    Patriot Act is at least temporarily curtailed. The feds love the NSA collecting all that metadata, though, so they're going to try to reauthorize it. Vigilance is needed.

    What I don't understand is why NSA has to "wind down" collection. It seems to me that this kind of program is a digital proposition--you're either doing it, or not--and shutting it off should be as simple as Amtrak turning on its positive train control system.

    Then again, "government program". What the hell do I expect?

    Borepatch brings up the ACLU in this context. If the ACLU is really for civil liberties you'd think they'd jump on this nonsense with both feet. Problem is, the ACLU has been a litigation arm of the Democrat party for a very long time--as indicated by their utter refusal to champion gun rights or to sue public schools that teach islam. (Which is why I've called them the "American Communist Liberals' Union" since I was about thirteen.)

    * * *

    As usual, getting home and relaxing a bit, and having some dinner, has proven to be an excellent restorative. I still don't want to do anything, but at least I no longer feel as if having someone push me into a hole and cover me with dirt is my only viable option.
    Friday, May 22nd, 2015
    10:46 pm
    #4733: I suggest stocking up on Preparation H.
    Obamacare premiums are going to necessarily skyrocket again. We're talking increases of up to 50%, coming soon to an insurance premium near you!

    ...when we looked at the Illinois exchange for insurance, Mrs. Fungus and I were quoted a monthly price of about $800 for the both of us. That means that soon that premium will be $1,200 PER MONTH.

    I need someone to explain to me exactly how any of this is "affordable", because I sure as hell don't get it.

    Obamacare has been nothing but inflationary, and it's utterly crushing the middle class.

    Hopefully this will catch on. Short form: a company looks at what a hospital bills Medicare and Medicaid for procedures and supplies, and then pays them that amount plus a modest profit. The article that Karl Denninger links to in his post gives an example of a company paying $28,000 to a hospital after being billed $600,000.

    And it works, as Dennginer points out, because if a lawsuit is allowed to go forward, the discovery phase will demonstrate how much padding there is in medical bills--and there is a lot of padding in medical bills.

    Minimum wage doesn't go very far, but then it's not supposed to. As stated in yesterday's post, minimum-wage jobs aren't meant to support a family of four; they're places where people start their careers.

    Even so, because of immigration, both legal and illegal, wage growth is depressed. Higher supply of labor means the price of labor remains stagnant or falls.

    And the government is part of the problem, not the solution. Any look at the existence of the ghetto must include an examination of the effects of government policy, particularly the unintended ones.

    And if the GDP data isn't what the government wants it to be, why, they'll just adjust it until it is. After all, if the reality is wrong, they can just reshape it by pretending real hard, right?

    * * *

    The economy is an f-ing disaster. I don't know what else I can say about it that I haven't already said, and I'm getting weary of repeating myself. It'll be nice when we elect a Republican President and the media will start finally talking about the ongoing recession blah blah blah etcetera, because at least then people will understand that the economy sucks.


    * * *

    But for drug laws, opium would already cost about as much as coffee does. That is to say, because opium is heavily controlled, it is much more expensive than it would be if it were an uncontrolled agricultural product such as coffee, chocolate, or the like.

    The idea of making opiates using yeast strongly resembles science fiction...and let someone get a pirate copy of that yeast and the days of opium being a controlled subtance are numbered.

    * * *

    Today was a pretty fair day--not easy but easier than they have been. Still, I got home and I was done.

    Mrs. Fungus revived me by serving me some dinner while I started the pre-blog surf. Now I have other things to do. I live such a stimulating life.
    Thursday, May 21st, 2015
    6:02 pm
    #4732: Thousands ask major employer to lay them off
    McDonald's headquarters was beseiged by idiots today. Like one Darrell Miller:
    Darrell Miller, 35, who said he left Kansas City, Mo., Tuesday night on a bus filled with other protesters, said he decided to join in because it was his dream to march like the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and fight for freedom.

    His job at McDonald's, he said, gives him no control over his life or his independence because the $7.75 an hour he is paid barely covers his bills.
    So why is Darrell Miller working at McDonald's for minimum wage at age 35? Does he have a degree? Is he a displaced worker who could be servicing machine tools or writing technical manuals or programming robots, except that he can't find a job doing that, so instead he's flipping burgers?

    Or is Mr. Miller an uneducated man who smoked pot and fapped during high school, never tried to learn a trade or sought any further education, and now finds himself unable to find any skilled job?

    Here's a news flash: McDonald's is good employment for unskilled labor, and it's excellent for high schoolers and others. It's a great place to start your career, getting work experience that will help you find a better job after a year or two. If you have a modicum of education and intelligence, you could even work your way into managing, and then take that experience elsewhere.

    But such jobs are not meant to be a career for a head of household who has kids to support. You're not supposed to take a job flipping burgers and say, "All right, now I'm set!" and do nothing else.

    People who want McDonald's to pay them $15 an hour to flip burgers are delusional, because all they're going to do is to price their labor right the fuck out of the market. We can build machines that will make burgers, and make them the same every time, and probably with fewer errors than humans do ("I said 'NO cheese', not 'EXTRA cheese'!") (And no spit in the food, either.) and if it costs $15 an hour to employ people to flip burgers and run a deep fryer, there are going to be a hell of a lot fewer of them. Especially if they unionize.


    * * *

    At least today wasn't a total clusterfuck at work. I was only alone on the counter for about an hour. Even better, the console stereos weren't set on "WTF" today, and in fact for about an hour there was no music at all coming from anywhere in the store, so instead of "AMAZINGLY STUPID AND ANNOYING DANCE CLUB" levels of noise we merely had "HOLY CRAP IT'S STILL LOUD IN HERE" noise.

    3 dB represents a doubling of loudness. I'd say it was probably 3 dB quieter without the music playing. WTF, I'll take it.

    Still want to get a job working in a nice, quiet office. That would be splendid.
    Wednesday, May 20th, 2015
    2:56 pm
    #4731: I no longer know what to do with this crap
    What do you do with this? People in Ferguson were paid to protest:
    On May 14, protesters, upset with not being paid their promised checks for protesting, protested outside MORE, Missourians Organizing For Reform and Empowerment, an ACORN organization which had received funding through George Soros to fund the protests.
    I think that if an organization is paying people to protest, and things turn into riots and looting, I think that organization ought to be liable for what their employees have done.

    Employees, contractors, what-the-hell-ever.

    In the same post there's a discussion of the mattress-carrying rape hoax attention whore, who carried the stupid mattress to the stage at her graduation, because LOOK AT ME!


    This one is a bit of a laugh. Apparently, if you type "nigger house" into Googe Maps while focused on Washington, D.C., it will show you the White House, and Googe doesn't know why, offering vague mumbles about user input and possible hacking and LOOK HALLEY'S COMET!

    Meanwhile Oakland is giving up on expecting "young vibrants" to have any manners whatsoever. So in other words, the Oakland school board has just given self-styled "thug niggaz" carte blance to act like complete barbarians in school, without any repercussions whatsoever. This will all but guarantee the complete failure of the Oakland educational system.

    And then there's all the feminist whining about Sansa Stark's wedding night. Because apparently it hurts their feels or something when a woman living in a medieval dystopia has a less-than-romantic wedding night and gives reluctant consent to marital sex. Then again, the women who have their panties in a bunch about this are largely the same ones who think that any time a penis enters a vagina, it's rape.

    GDP has been revised, again. Our economic numbers are total junk. Just made-up crap, none of it having any connection with reality. It's been that way for years.

    Finally the Obama administration continues the Democrat foreign policy legacy of betrayal, abandonment, and the encouragement of genocides. Because the Democrat party never met a dictator they didn't like, and because the last Democrat President who truly understood foreign policy was Grover Cleveland, hundreds of thousands of people are going to die, and there's going to be a big fat hairy war before it's all over. Again.

    Every last bit of it, it's all horseshit. 100%. This is one of those days when I find myself becoming bone weary because of all the stupidity in the world; all the idiocy and fecklessness just seems to pile up and all I want to do is hide from it.

    It's like--yesterday I was playing WoW, and in "Looking for Group" chat they were having a debate about religion. And it was all the most fatuous crap you could ever think of, all the usual arguments espoused by people who are merely regurgitating nonsense someone else told them was cogent and insightful. So wrong and stupid it's not even offensive; it's just pathetic--and they think they're being intelligent when they say this stuff, because the people that told them this crap did so in the context of explaining that you believe these things if you're smart, and only stupid people believe in those other things. They pride themselves on being so intelligent and scientific, while looking down at the beknighted fools who cling to a "sky wizard", and all the while they don't realize that they haven't even begun to look at anything like evidence or philosphy, but have taken the shortcut past consideration of their beliefs.

    One moron was insisting that atheism isn't a belief--how do you explain it to him? The only "proof" he can offer to support his thesis is nothing but conjecture and bald assertion, and he clings to his faith in nothing with exactly the same fervor as the most devout Catholic ever did--but because people in his group say he's smart for doing it, he will never admit that he has a religion: nihilism.

    People are idiots.

    * * *

    There was one guy who kept posting "lyrics" in chat, too. He was writing a song, he claimed, and kept splattering us with the most turgid, purple text you ever saw. I figure he was probably about 14, perhaps 14 going on 23. WTF.

    * * *

    Today's the last day of my weekend; tomorrow I get to go to work again and deal with even more stupidity. In theory I should be getting my actual badge soon--the official Geek Squad badge, with a serial number, that I can wear "with pride". In fact I'll probably feel like a complete tool while wearing the thing, but it's part of the uniform and if you have it you've got to wear it.

    I do look forward to getting it, though; just not to wearing the stupid thing. *sigh*
    4:02 am
    #4730: But where will Amtrak get the $15 billion needed to implement it??
    The Federal Railroad Administration is ordering Amtrak to turn on the PTC system in their northeast corridor.

    ...which should already have been turned on, particularly in the curve where the wreck occurred, but wasn't because apparently it costs $15 billion to have a couple electricians throw some circuit breakers, or something.

    BUT. PTC is not a panacea, and over at Chicago Boyz David Foster writes about a time when PTC caused a fatal train wreck, rather than prevented one.

    The person operating the vehicle should always be authorized and able to take full control of the vehicle, at any time, for any reason, because machines are stupid and do not have judgement.

    Automated safety systems are wonderful things, but they cannot and should not replace good judgement based on experience.

    * * *

    It was 36° outside at 2 AM. This is May! WTF.

    ...had the AC on Sunday, of course, then turned it off Monday evening...and had to turn the heat on again this morning because it was 64° in here!

    In the Fungal Vale, I expect winter-like temperatures as late as mid-April. Not two-thirds of the way through May. This is dicks.

    * * *

    Anyway, I baked a birthday cake (yellow cake with chocolate frosting) and Mrs. Fungus put 49 candles on it--one extra for the wish--and I blew 'em all out. I had a very nice birthday today.

    Dinner was BBQ ribs, and they were fall-off-the-bone tender. 2.3 hours at 300, then 0.7 hours at 250-ish, then apply BBQ sauce and let 'em go for 20 more minutes at 350. Delicious.

    The rub recipe is pretty simple:
    1 TBSP cayenne pepper
    1 TBSP white sugar
    1/2 TBSP paprika
    1 TSP ground black pepper
    1 TSP salt
    1 TSP garlic powder
    ...and that'll do a lot more than a single rack of ribs, too. It's pretty tasty considering that I threw it together one time when I decided to try using a rub. Now it's the standard and I can't make BBQ ribs without it.

    After applying the rub I wrapped the rack in foil and let it sit in the fridge while the cake baked; then I threw the ribs in and reduced the oven heat to 300 (from the 350 needed to bake the cake) and let it go.

    I have to believe that my Dad would have loved my BBQ ribs. Even though he would have maintained that his were better. Heh.

    * * *

    Tomorrow is chore day--whee--which means I'd better get myself into bed.
    Tuesday, May 19th, 2015
    3:39 pm
    #4729: It wouldn't be SECRET if it wasn't going to screw everyone but the 0.1%
    They wouldn't have to keep it secret by threatening leakers with jail time if it was any good for the general populace.

    The idea that a President can get away with this kind of totalitarian bullshit--well, I certainly would not have believed that was possible. As the text of the article points out, even Bill Clinton didn't have the gall to operate like this.

    When you have prominent Democrats going against a Democrat President to warn that his trade deal is bad for America, you know it has to be f-ing bad. Sadly, the populace isn't going to find out what's in it until it's law...which is exactly what Obama intends. Otherwise he can't help out his buddies in the big corporations.

    * * *

    Illinois has the second-highest property taxes in the United States. Color me surprised.

    Having been a Democrat machine city since the Permian Era, Chicago has been managed (mismanaged and malmanaged) with wishful thinking and unicorn flatus for far too long, and eventually those cows come home to roost. (Intentionally mangled metaphor, there.) Part of the problem is that while the government is capable of raising (and willing to raise) taxes, there is not a lot of blood left in that particular stone. Cook County already has some of the highest taxes in the nation, and is well on the right side of the Laffer Curve as it is. Increasing taxes further is going to destroy economic output and result in less revenue rather than more.

    In other words, Detroit. It can't be otherwise absent someone being elected who understands basic economics and has the guts to implement real austerity measures. That will not happen, because the instant anyone's ox is gored, the sitting government's goose is cooked. The machine requires that the status quo continue approximately forever, which it cannot. The result is businesses and people abandoning the city, finding places where they are not taxed into the craphouse. Eventually you have nothing but government workers with no other tax base, and once you are there it's Detroit or Camden all over again.

    * * *

    Going to BBQ some ribs tonight, but I have to find the recipe for the rub, first. That'll be good.
    1:37 am
    #4728: Woohoo! Presents!
    Because I was so exhausted upon returning home from work Monday, I ended up hitting the hay in fairly short order. I was just done when I got home, having endured too-hot working conditions with about a billion people wanting/needing my immediate attention. Six hours at full speed, with tightly-scheduled bathroom breaks--not a lot of fun, that.

    So I went to bed, and Mrs. Fungus joined me, and once I was able to roll onto my side I was out.

    Got up and stuck my nose outside, then turned around and started opening windows. With the temp (at the time) below 60 and still dropping, I could shut off the AC and open the windows, and the indoor temp dropped fast.

    Dinner, then The Grand Budapest Hotel (which Mrs. Fungus and I have been meaning to watch for ages). It was very entertaining, exactly as billed. And when the movie was over?

    Birthday! As usual Mrs. Fungus couldn't wait for business hours, so she told me to go get my present from her trunk.

    Heavy, about 30x38x4 inches, wrapped in festive paper. I shouldered it and brought it in, suspecting I knew what was inside. Read the card first--we have a rule that we must read each other's cards aloud--and then tore off the wrapping paper.

    I was not disappointed. A new tool! And it's one I have to put together!

    This woman knows and loves me very well.

    With the addition of this to my arsenal, I now have absolutely no excuse whatsoever for not getting acquainted with my welder. This has the advantage of placing the work piece at approximately lower chest level, of being fireproof, of being portable, and of having a conductive surface. No more welding on the garage floor, having to get on hands and knees to see WTF I'm doing! I can weld out in the driveway, away from anything flammable, standing up! Win!

    Of course this is something I needed for the great go kart project, but first I'm going to use it to start making simple spot welds and other practice welds first, so I can get used to joining metal with high-current electricity. Then on to making stuff.
    Monday, May 18th, 2015
    4:52 pm
    #4727: I'm tired.
    Today's shift at work was excruciating. I worked continuously for six hours without a break. When I finally got to leave, the outside air felt cooler than the air inside the store. All I want to do now is to go to sleep. Crimony.

    ADDENDUM: Among other things today I dealt with someone named "Latrina". Yes, just like "latrine" but with a terminal A instead of an E. How unfortunate.

    That's worse than being named "Chair" (pronounced "share").
    Sunday, May 17th, 2015
    4:33 pm
    #4726: What I hate about mowing the grass
    I hate it when the f-ing pusher decides it won't start just because I moved it over an obstacle for which I had to shut it off, thus necessitating going and finding a frickin' 1/4" nut driver to take off the stupid f-ing downspout pipe so I can cut behind the f-ing bushes in front. For what Mom paid for these f-ing Leaf-Guard gutters, the f-ing downspouts ought to have f-ing hinges on them so you can f-ing move them without f-ing tools.

    Anyway, the grass is cut, and now I just have all the other stuff to do today that I had planned. Meanwhile the Jeep's out of gas and I have $2 in my checking account until I can get to the bank, so wherever I go it's going to have to be on the bike. The rain that was threatening to get here, which was previously by Peoria, petered out. There is still rain on the radar but it's north of here and getting north-er by the minute.


    So now I'm all overheated and tired, and I don't feel like doing anything, but "miles to go before I sleep" and so on. Off I go!
    2:00 pm
    #4725: This is about right.
    Today's Pearls Before Swine comic strip has Pig getting into the protest movement.


    * * *

    "Former Obama official says constitutional law scholars are a lot like George Lucas." How? By taking what is plainly done and remaking it over and over and over and over again until it no longer resembles what its original creators intended?

    (The article goes into why, but I think my explanation is more apt.)

    * * *

    As always, pro-abortion, anti-execution. Because killing the innocent is a right but killing the guilty is an abomination.

    * * *

    Warm and humid today. I've got to head over to Og's, but first I need to eat something and get the grass cut. This was supposed to be my day off, too....
    Saturday, May 16th, 2015
    10:13 pm
    #4724: Failure identified.
    So I left for work this afternoon, and as I was heading out I looked at the right front (formerly left rear) tire on the Jeep. That's the tire that loses air; the others are good about maintaining pressure but that one goes flat if I don't keep it filled. I found out that the valve stem core was loose on the thing (this was after I discovered a similar problem with the motorcycle's front tire) and had hoped that would fix it, but that only mitigated the problem, as today's check of the tire pressure revealed.


    As I was crouching to check the tire pressure, I noticed something. It had rained earlier today, quite heavily, and the wheel was still wet around the valve stem. In the direct sunlight I could see something shimmering at the base of the thing...almost, I thought, as if there were a tiny, tiny air leak.


    Fiddling with it stopped the bubbling, but only momentarily. So it seems that when this tire was put on, the valve stem sealed long enough to pass the leak test (assuming they did it) and then, poof.

    This means I'm going to have to replace that valve stem, of course, and since it's been about eleven months since the tires were new I get to do it my own bad self. It's not rocket science, though, and I think a new valve stem costs about a buck fifty, so I ought to be able to handle this. And then hopefully the damned tire will hold pressure, because I'm getting mightily sick of having to fill it every week.

    * * *

    Looking at the weather report, apparently we were briefly subjected to vacuum this morning around 3 AM, when the barometric pressure dropped to 0.00 for a moment. The pressure then rapidly climbed back to 30.01 inches of mercury. Maybe that's what happened to the damned water main.

    * * *

    Can you remember when nurses had to have guts? I can remember that. It's not that way any more, of course. Now a nurse can be a wilting, fainting flower as long as she can sue enough people into letting her have enough chances to pass the tests.

    If you have a problem with anxiety and stress that keeps you from being able to pass a test in a classroom, you do not belong in the medical field.

    * * *

    I really wish I had more of those wasabi-ginger potato chips....
    1:59 pm
    #4723: Did it break AGAIN?
    So last night I was getting ready for bed and the faucet in the bathroom spat air again, as if the water had been turned off. Once finished with what I was doing I put on shoes and went outside, and although it had not rained the west side of the street--just the west side!--looked as if it had been wet recently. You know how pavement looks when it's been wet and is drying.

    This is getting tedious.

    Mrs. Fungus and I were busy with various things, so we would not have necessarily heard the Street and San guys fixing the water main; I've found that if I am not actually looking out the window they can usually accomplish their tasks without me knowing they're even there. If they are right out front of the bunker and I am trying to sleep, that I will notice; otherwise they're pretty unobtrusive. Especially when it's warm and we have fans running.

    * * *

    Mrs. Fungus bought wasabi-ginger flavored potato chips and I CANNOT STOP EATING THEM. This is probably the best potato chip flavor ever. Dang.

    * * *

    Turns out that the latest entry in the Mad Max ouerve is a feminist trojan horse. Charlize Theron plays is the main character of the movie, and Max himself is kind of an afterthought, an excuse for the story.

    I've never been a huge fan of those movies anyway, though Road Warrior was pretty decent. Post-apocalyptic dystopias are not my cup of tea, anyway; I watched the movies for the cars and the done-at-speed stunts, anyway, because they're not exactly art for the ages. (Beyond Thunderdome was not very good; I saw it once and there was nothing compelling me to watch it a second time.)

    The kiss of death is that the producers consulted Eve "statutory date rape is OK! as long as it's lesbians" Ensler for some reason or another. (In her play Vagina Monologues, one character is a 14-year-old girl, who enthusiastically talks about how wonderful it is that an adult woman got her drunk and molested her.)

    So it should be easy to see why I'm not going to bother with this one; the reviews I've been reading say that it's nothing but "grrl power" with a light dusting of Mad Max to provide the excuse for car chases and explosions. Gack.

    * * *

    Everybody is all shocked and surprised that former Clinton press secretary George Stephanopolous gave money to the Clinton foundation. Certain sectors of the press are acting like it's somehow inconceivable that someone who was elevated to national prominence by a politician would subsequently be sympathetic to that politician and his family, and their political aspirations.

    ...when Stephanopolous was hired by ABC, it was just the first sign that the media was giving up all pretense at objectivity. Anyone with a brain could see that the media leaned Democrat; that's been true since the beginning of the 20th century at least and probably longer, but they'd never before hired a partisan political hack and treated it like they were hiring a journalist. Steph (I am not typing his full name again here) left Bill Clinton's employ and signed on at ABC right afterwards, while Clinton was still in office if I am not misremembering...but of course they claimed he would only be there for commentary.

    Why is a partisan political hack moderating debates for the other party? Why did that ever happen? Why did the GOP sit still for it?

    So he donated money to the Clintons, and didn't disclose it, and his employer and some other people played games with the release of the story, and-and-and--the whole thing is incredibly dishonest, and typical of how the media does things. And it turns out that other Clinton cronies are in on the spin, which is hardly remarkable let alone surprising.

    And as Ace comments at that link, the more proper name for the Clinton foundation is "Fund to keep the Clintons Wealthy and Well-staffed", considering that most of their budget is spent on salaries to its managers, most notably Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea.

    Nice work if you can get it--being really rich and powerful and totally unaccountable must be awful convenient.

    * * *

    Pleasant enough day today, but rainy. Tomorrow looks like it'll be more of the same. I'm wanting to get the grass cut--I really should have done it yesterday--but that probably won't happen before Wednesday if the weather keeps up like this. Well, that's how it goes, sometimes.
    Friday, May 15th, 2015
    3:03 pm
    #4722: ...but IT WASN'T TURNED ON.
    Of course we desperately need to throw billions of dollars at Amtrak and install positive train control on all locomotives immediately to prevent another tragedy! People are dead because Republican intransigence!

    The Amtrak train had PTC installed, but IT WASN'T TURNED ON.

    Meanwhile PTC was installed and active on the other side of the curve, on the north side, so as to regulate the speed of southbound trains.

    To make matters even worse? Let's look at what happened: it turns out the train was going 70 MPH in the 70 MPH zone, but about ninety seconds before it went into the curve its speed began increasing; by the time the brakes went on the train was moving at 106 MPH. In other words, the train was going at the speed limit on the straight section--and it probably could have stayed on the traks in the 50 MPH section--but instead of slowing for the curve, the train sped up. Then the engineer hit the brakes at the worst possible moment.

    But even though it costs nothing to slow down, of course we're not spending enough on infrastructure and that's all the GOP's fault.

    * * *

    Amtrak is a money pit. It's an economically useless boondoggle.

    Some time ago--years--I had a post here about what Amtrak charges for a bottle of soda. Google won't find it now, but I recall that Amtrak was unable to make money selling soda at something like $4 a bottle because they pay so much for it, about $3.50 a bottle as I recall. The comments to the AoSHQ link above mention that Amtrak sells a burger for $9 but it costs them $16.

    They can't charge $16 for the $16 burger because if they did that it would drive more people away from using a transportation system which is already economically unnecessary.

    For intercity travel in the US you have a few basic choices if you're not planning to drive yourself, and it comes down to bus, train, or plane. Of the three, buses are cheapest per mile. Planes next, and of course they're the fastest.

    Trains are both the most expensive and the slowest way to get people anywhere in the United States. That is not going to change anytime soon, not without massive government interference in the economic workings of the transportation system.

    * * *

    I feel Bluesun's pain. Word is a pain in the ass.

    * * *

    So now the big thing in the aristocracy is the elimination of cash. Because it's much easier to control people if they can't whip out a wad of bills to pay for things, and it's similarly a cakewalk to track their every move if they have to show ID every time they take part in a transaction.

    This is something I've feared for a long time. Years ago I recognized that "the number of the beast" would require some kind of biometric identification, and that the mark being put "on the forehead or the left hand" was simply John's way of describing something he saw in his visions but didn't understand (because they didn't know about fingerprints or other biometrics in the first century AD).

    I will not be part of that. I won't. I'll starve under a bridge before I let them put that on me.

    * * *

    Tiny computer is good for streaming, not so good for applications. And it's $150 with Win 8, which is less than the $156 I paid to build El-Hazard. Dang.

    * * *

    Last week, a woman brought in a laptop to trade in. It was two years old, still in its box, having never been used; I looked up its trade-in value and the most I could give her for it was $56.

    I wanted to say, "Look, I'll give you $112 cash for it right now." If I had only had money I could have made that offer, and if she'd accepted it I would have had a very nice new laptop with an i7 processor, 8 GB of RAM, a terabyte of hard drive, and so on. Fuck.

    She probably would not have accepted my offer--she declined the trade-in--but I could have tried, dang it, or offered her more money, if I had had it. What a pisser.

    Well: my hunt for a new job continues, and that'll have to do.
    Thursday, May 14th, 2015
    5:33 pm
    #4721: The answer is, as always, MORE GOVERNMENT!
    NTSB says that positive train control is the only way to prevent accidents like this.

    Uh, no, it's not. I'm pretty sure you can avoid wrecks like this if the guy driving the train is paying attention to what he's doing and going the speed limit.

    Positive train control--PTC--is an automated system which governs the operation of the train. The idea is that the engineer can gun it for all it's worth, but once the train enters a speed limited zone PTC will slow the train down. All train moves are authorized by a central control location, which means the train doesn't move if a guy at a desk somewhere says it's not allowed to. It's estimated that fitting the nation's rail system with PTC would run about $22 billion, but owing to the way government always underestimates what something will cost, it's probably closer to $30 billion or more.

    The real problem, though, is that you can't beat a human being for running a train. Machines don't have the judgement that an experienced engineer does, and it takes finesse to safely operate a train--especially a long one--safely.

    In any event, the problem with the Amtrak wreck this week isn't that there was a problem with the infrastructure--as much as Democrats want it to be--but that the train was mis-operated. The engineer himself does not remember what happened, but the engine's black box says the train was going 106 MPH heading into that 50 MPH curve, and it further shows that the brakes were applied a few seconds beforehand.

    Now, think about this: trains use air brakes. There's a reservoir in each car that provides the pressure to apply the brakes; the train line must be pumped up to pressure to release the brakes. When the maximum brakes are applied, it's referred to as "going into emergency" or "big-holing". When you big-hole the brakes, it takes time for the pressure in the train line to vent, which means that the brakes at the front of the train (where the brake valve is) apply before the brakes at the back of the train. There is not a huge propagation delay, but it is present, and when the train is moving at 106 MPH it can move a long way before all the brakes go on with the same amount of force. By the time the black box stopped recording, the speed of the engine's wheels had been reduced to 102 MPH.

    Imagine what happens when you have a train moving too fast into a curve with some brakes applied at the front and none at the back. If you know physics at all, you can see the engine being pushed right off the tracks by the cars behind it.

    PTC would probably have prevented this wreck, yes. So of course the Democrat answer is to force all railroads to implement an expensive system that at best is going to add nothing to the general safety and efficiency of the system, and at worst will be an expensive boondoggle.

    Some people may remember seeing color bar codes on freight cars in the 1970s. It used to be that freight cars were labeled with the KarTrak system, which was meant to help railroads track how and where their cars were used. It did not work all that well, and was abandoned during the Carter administration. (Freight cars carried the tags for years afterwards, of course, because it wasn't worth the effort of removing the tags.) The system was required in 1968, but barely lasted a decade before being abandoned. These days, railroads use RF tags, which work very well, but it's a new system and does not descend from KarTrak.

    Railroads are dragging their feet on the implementation of PTC because they don't want to spend the money for a system they do not need. Freight trains don't move that fast; they don't need to and typically they cannot. High speed is strictly the domain of passenger rail. Freight trains derail for a lot of reasons but speed is generally not one of them, and PTC is primarily a speed control system. It's a waste of money for a freight railroad to install PTC for trains that will never go faster than 40 MPH solely because Amtrak leases right-of-way from them.

    Amtrak is nothing but a government boondoggle, something that can only exist because of government money. Absent federal spending, the railroad would not exist, because intercity passenger rail travel is economically unnecessary. If it were, there would be passenger railroads all over the place.

    There are not. And for the most part intracity passenger rail only exists where government subsidizes it.

    * * *

    Speaking of government boondoggles, NASA is still futzing around with solid rocket boosters. They were looking at using F-1B engines in liquid-fueled boosters, but now they apparently are not.

    F-1B is the modern retooling of the old F-1A used as the main engines for the Saturn V first stage, each one of them providing nine hundred tons of thrust. Just for comparison, the space shuttle main engines each provide 210 tons of thrust, for a total of 630 tons of thrust with three engines. One F-1A provides enough thrust to boost a space shuttle with 270 tons of thrust left to spare.

    No one builds rocket engines like that any more, worse luck.

    * * *

    Just saw on the news a story about a firey oil train derailment, and the answer to that problem is to build f-ing oil pipelines. Keystone, anyone?
    1:33 am
    #4720: I like an intelligently designed application process.
    I like it when I can do an application for a position at a company and then, when I find another job at the same company that I'd like to apply for, it just uses the same information I previously entered. That's nice.

    Sent an e-mail to #POTENTIAL_EMPLOYER on Wednesday afternoon and got the "we're not done interviewing yet, but we'll let you know" response. Argh etc.

    ...because of the interview last week I put off the job hunt work this week, which is a no-good way to do things. Anyway I just finished going through the backlog, and fired off more resumes. There's a lot of repetetion in the postings, so it's not like waiting an extra day to work on my job hunt is hurting anything, but it's still better to get these things done sooner rather than later.

    Ideally I'd like for #POTENTIAL_EMPLOYER to offer me the job, because I liked what I saw when I was interviewing there.

    Damn it, I'm smart and qualified! Hire me already! My abilities are wasted at you-know-where.

    * * *

    Wednesday's activities included a trip to Og's place. We're working on getting a trailer out of his yard, only the tires are dry rotted, and because there's no spare he's concerned (rightly) that a tire might blow and leave me stuck. It's going to come home with me, and then get converted into a flatbed trailer for hauling motorcycles/go karts/other stuff.

    We did manage to get the trailer moved out of his way, so his big impending garage concrete project can go forward, but until the tires are dealt with it's going to stay where it is, sadly. Well, I have enough on my plate right now that a delay of a week or two won't matter much.

    ...though I have to admit that it did occur to me that once I'm working full time, I could take this trailer and make a rather nice enclosed trailer for not a lot more effort. I've seen some guys take little Harbor Freight trailers and make cozy little campers out of them; an enclosed trailer for hauling [whatever] would actually be easier than that.

    * * *

    So, one week ago today I had to turn on the AC, because it was too warm in the bunker. Can you believe that not three days later I had to turn the heat back on? And it's been on ever since--night time temps have been below forty, for crying out loud, and with all the cloudy weather we've been having solar insolation has been insufficient to keep this place above 65. This is nuts.

    ...all too soon, of course, we'll have to run the AC 24/7 to keep it at a livable temeprature in here. I can wait.

    * * *

    Working the afternoon shift today, and for a wonder I'm scheduled to be in back, learning the Advanced Repair Agent role! We'll see if I actually get to be in back, doing that, because in the nineteen months that I've worked there I have had exactly three days where I was getting the ARA training I was supposed to have gotten in my first two month. Argh etc.

    On the plus side, maybe I'll get a call from you-know-who and it won't matter. That'd make my year.
    Wednesday, May 13th, 2015
    1:27 pm
    #4719: The problem of Amtrak
    So a bunch of lefty pols try to cash in on Amtrak crash in Philly, excoriating Republicans for wanting to cut the Amtrak budget. They start talking about how important infrastructure is, blah blah blah, implying that the Republican desire to cut Amtrak's funding somehow caused this crash.

    It's typical, of course, but even more so when you realize why it's incompetently wrong.

    See, in most of the country, Amtrak owns no track whatsoever. That would be the infrastructure that these Democrats are crowing about. Locomotives and rail cars are not infrastructure, though if it turns out that an equipment failure caused the wreck they will certainly try to argue that it is.

    Ninety percent of passenger rail accidents are caused by human error of one stripe or another. It's possible that this wreck is the exception, but nobody knows that yet, and for these Democrats to point at the corpses and attempt to make political hay with them is not only disgusting but also premature.

    In any case, as I said, Amtrak doesn't own much track. The Acela corridor is theirs, for example, but I can't think of another case; it's most likely that this wreck occurred on track Amtrak leased from a freight carrier--and if that's the case maintenance of that infrastructure is not paid for from Amtrak's budget.

    I've looked at several articles on the crash and none of them say it's the Acela corridor. One article says it happened in a rail yard--and if that's the case, why was the train going fast enough to cause such devastation? Another story said it was on a 70 MPH section of track, but heading into a 50 MPH curve, and it's "too early to tell" if speed was a factor.

    Even so, a quick troll through various news stories reveals that the track that the train was on was owned by a Pennsylvania commuter rail line, not Amtrak--and maintenance of that track is therefore the responsibility of said commuter line. Amtrak's budget has nothing to do with it.

    * * *

    The recession never ended, guys. It's easier to understand if you start from the assumption that the government's numbers are trash.

    Retail sales are pretty crappy.

    But of course the aristocrats are doing just fine, so who cares, right?

    * * *

    NAFTA, by itself, demonstrated the folly of lassez faire trade. The United States really doesn't manufacture anything any longer, and that needs to change. I'm glad that Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership thing is foundering in the Senate.

    * * *

    So Chicago bonds have been relegated to "junk" status.

    A thousand generations of Democrat rule have placed Chicago firmly on a trajectory that has an endpoint similar to Detroit's--just not as soon.

    Chicago and Illinois simply cannot afford to make good on the promises given to government workers about how much pension they would get; there's no money for it. You know what this means, don't you? It means tax increases, because of course the government isn't about to restructure its spending to make good on its debts. The answer is always to seize more money from the populace.

    ...which will, of course, only hasten the decline, because as the taxes rise people and businesses leave.

    The baffling thing is, why doesn't the GOP run on this shit? The Democrat party hands them--time and again--prime opportunities like this, and the GOP ignores it, apparently out of some kind of desire to be seen as "gentlemanly". WTF.

    * * *

    Vox Day posts a comment from his other blog about the decline and fall of feminism, and it's a good essay on what extreme feminism has done for our society.

    You know, I used to be disgusted by gender feminism. These harridans who scream and wail about this and that and the other insult, who natter on about "rape culture" and insist that any time a penis goes into a vagina it's rape, who can do nothing but compain about victimization--I found it intensely repugnant and highly annoying, not the least because it was obviously and immediately identifiable as nothing more than radical leftism in disguise.

    But it's gone so far now that I simply do not care any longer. The constant nagging has turned into mere white noise, something to be tuned out, because it never changes and they are never satisfied. What used to annoy me now merely results in an eyeroll: there they go again. I'm dismissive of it because that's all it's worthy of. Look, the feminists are outraged! What's got the gals' panties in a bunch this week, and why should I give a rat's ass about it?

    * * *

    So the other day I had a few minutes to delve into the "pellet points" thing at work, and it turns out that one can exchange pellet points for a variety of gift cards. Somewhere along the line I got a sizable stack of them, somehow, such that with the 1,000 point bonus for being a retail grunt at a successful store (in lieu of a trip to Puerto Rico like management) I had 1,600 of the things. Wow.

    Anyway, 1,130 of them converted into a $50 gift card that I'll probably get in the mail sometime in the next week. I have two 100 point cards on hand; one's on my desk and I have no idea where the other one is, but if I can add both of those to my remaining balance I'll have another 670 points to play with. Maybe I'll get a couple of $5 gift cards for a restaurant or something with them, I don't know.

    But oh boy! --do I feel motivated! *rolleyes*

    * * *

    This just in: Train going 100 MPH into a 50 MPH turn.

    Democrats cry, "The nasty GOP wants to cut spending on Amtrak and the result is dead people!"

    Truth: reducing the rate of growth in Amtrak's budget slated for next year has nothing to do with safety in the present, particularly not when a train is mis-operated by an overpaid government employee.

    As I said above, the most likely cause was "human error" and this incident is no exception.
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