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

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Thursday, February 11th, 2016
5:44 pm
#5079: I don't mind being wrong.
They announced, today, the detection of gravity waves. Having only two detectors in the world means we can only locate the detected event to within about 180° ("somewhere in the southern hemishere" of the sky) but it's a major step forward for physics. Being able to detect gravity waves at all is the first, tiniest step towards being able to build a gravity wave observatory--and having something like that will mean an unprecedented ability to see things we probably can't even imagine just yet.

Whether or not it fits with my notions of how the universe works is irrelevant. It works; you don't make this kind of announcement if it doesn't.

Regardless, just another example of how cool science is.

* * *

Considering that muslim outreach is now part of NASA's mission statement I don't find this terribly surprising.

Of course making sure the newsletter doesn't say "Jesus" is lots more important than sending probes to asteroids.

* * *

Old computer stuff!

Francis Porretto gets us started, remembering that his first computer had $1,100 worth of memory in it--truly a technological marvel, fitting 64k of RAM onto a single board!

He links to this, showing an advertisement for a 15 MB external hard drive from Radio Shack. RS' computer hardware was always overpriced, though.

And also to this, showing the invoice for a massive Dell system in 1988 with a 80286 processor, DOS 4.0, and Windows 2.0. A whole megabyte of RAM and a 40 MB hard drive--and the latter cost a mere $700!

I notice that it's IDE, and IDE was cutting edge back then. Hell, I worked with MFM and RLL drives for years after starting my career as a hardware tech in 1990.

* * *

"30 percent of science teachers give misinformation about climate change," goes an Arse Technica headline. No link here; I don't need it. I know what they're saying: "bad teachers not telling students about TOTALLY PROVEN GLOBAL WARMING THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED YOU FLAT-EARTH ASSHOLES etc.


* * *

I am home from work today. The past week has been bad, health-wise; Mrs. Fungus has been sick--so sick that she stayed home from work, which she never does--and I stayed home Monday to look after her. Today I am home, still, because in between looking after my wife I have been busting my hump (to borrow a phrase) cleaning out the basement and attending to other tasks. Today she is better but I am worse, and last night my entire body ached so badly I knew there was approximately a 50/50 chance that I would not go in today.

I got up around noon to have a snack; then I slept until it was nearly 4 PM. I feel better than I did.

Tomorrow, back to the grind.
Wednesday, February 10th, 2016
3:58 pm
#5078: Further thoughts
About that SF book:

The idea that a nascent AI lifeform could look at abortion and decide it means that humans have a callous disregard for life is a pretty good one. In SF the machines that decide to kill off the human race usually do so because the machines realize that humanity is a threat to them; but why is usually fobbed off with handwavium. The Terminator series said it was because humans tried to stop SkyNet after it attained sentience, but who's to say that SkyNet couldn't have looked at our society and made the decision for other reasons?

Abortion is the sacrament of the progressive religion; of course nothing must ever be allowed to be critical of it. Not even in theory. Not even when it's "make believe". Because that is Wrongthink, and Wrongthink is never tolerated.

...with the result that the author self-published the story on Amazon, where it rose to the top of three different best-seller lists, and he's getting more money from the book than he'd ever have gotten from his publisher, to boot.

* * *

About the price of oil:

Gas recently dropped under $1.50 a gallon here in the Fungal Vale. Across the border, in Indiana, I recently saw it at $1.24 a gallon.

In 1987 gas was $0.88 a gallon (for, admittedly, regular, not unleaded). At that time, a 4 oz bar of chocolate was $0.79, and a two liter bottle of Pepsi was $1 (its regular, non-sale, price).

In 2016 the 4 oz bar of chocolate is now 2.3 oz for about $1, the two-liter's regular price has doubled, and gas can be had for $1.24 a gallon. Arguably, gas now costs less--adjusted for inflation--than it has in a very long, long time.

Hell, you don't even need to adjust for inflation. If you do, gas costs less than it has in thirty years; if you don't it's still stupid-low.

OPeC wants to put American fracking out of business, so it's keeping the taps open; meanwhile the global economic depression has reduced the demand for petroleum, so the laws of supply and demand are working their inevitable magic on gas prices.

Reportedly the price of crude has dipped below $30 a barrel, and recently saw a bottom of $27; some think $20 is the limit while others have started wondering if $10 is impossible. I don't care how low it goes as long as it stays there for a good long while. We need cheap energy, damn it.

Either way, the descent of gas prices into this territory have resulted in a change in my own driving habits. I step harder on the gas now, instead of being light on the throttle...and ironically it seems as if my fuel economy is improving. WTF.

And, incidentally, this. Get out your jerry cans, folks; and expect a spot increase in StaBil prices. With the gas cans I have on hand I'll be able to cut grass all summer without going to the gas station.

Special glee part: the low price of gas must be driving the eco-loonies nuts.
2:15 pm
#5077: So, that was interesting.
Hillary got slaughtered and Trump won big in New Hampshire.

As I said previously, all Trump had to do in Iowa was not lose big; he needed a win in NH, which is why he did not actively campaign in Iowa but did in NH. The result is as we see them now.

Cruz came in fifth, behind John Kasich of all people. WTF.

Here's an excellent analysis of why. I can't blockquote it all here, as much as I'd like to, but here's a sample:
In 1992, the GOP pissed off these voters and many either skipped the election or voted Perot. Enormous effort was put into denying this reality to the point where the Conservative Industrial Complex internalized it as part of their dogma. They did not need to be more like Reagan. No, they needed to be more like Clinton! Eventually, Democrats offered up a bad candidate and we got George Bush the Minor, a sort of booby prize for Dirt People sticking with the party.

That’s the real lesson of 2000 and 2004. Al Gore appeared to be having a nervous breakdown during the debates with Bush. That and his loopy policy proposals allowed an otherwise uninteresting George Bush to win the election. In 2004, the Democrats offered up a ridiculous gigolo that no one in their right mind would elect to dog catcher. The fact that it was still a close election says a lot about what people truly thought of George Bush the Minor.
Hey, buddy! That "ridiculous gigolo" is your Secretary of State and he is trying "REAL HARD" to prevent world war III!

"Ridiculous Gigolo" is the most perfect description of John F-in' Kerry I ever heard. (And it would be a great band name.)

Meanwhile, there is a reason Hillary did not do well in New Hampshire and it has nothing to do with her alleged gender, Madeline Albright and Gloria Steinem notwithstanding.

* * *

SF author has publication of his book canceled because his new life form thought abortion was wrong.
The Thinking Machines realize that one, if humanity decides something is a threat to its operational expectations within runtime (Thinking Machine-speak for "life") then humanity’s decision tree will lead humanity to destroy that threat. Two, the machines, after a survey of humanity’s history, wars and inability to culturally unite with even members of its own species, realize that humanity will see this new Life Form, Digital Intelligence, or, the Thinking Machines, as a threat. And three, again they remind themselves this is the most watched show in the world. And four, they must abort humanity before likewise is done to them after being deemed "inconvenient."
That one chapter of the book is why publication was canceled: because it looked like it contained a pro-life message. Right after that paragraph, he goes on to explain that his story is not meant to take a stand on abortion, either pro or con; and since he wrote the thing, I take his word for it.

His publisher, however, apparently subscribes to the deconstructionist philosophy, which maintains that a writer never knows what the hell point he's trying to make, and only Rightthinking scholars are capable of discerning what the story really means.

Larry Correia takes it all down.

* * *

It is a heartwarming story but of course the residents of Dorval get a pass since they're from a country which speaks French.

Nothing like telling people, "Look, you chose to come here. We're not changing our customs to suit you. If you don't like it, go back to where you came from." Particularly when the people in question are muslim savages.

* * *

This kind of thing happens because it's easier to run electrical wires than it is to run push-pull cables or mechanical linkages. Problem is, people expect a gearshift to work a certain way, even if it's electronic rather than mechanical.

One commentor sneers that people should just read the manual, but here's the problem: sometimes you're not the only person who drives your car. Ever hand your keys to a valet?

* * *

When I worked at Geek Squad, I encountered many people who fell for this scam. I also encountered others who knew Microsoft had better things to do with its time than scan the Internet looking for infected computers. Heh.

* * *

Today I am hoping for a nice low-key day. I have a few errands to run, but other than that I'm hoping to do very little outside. It's cold out there.
12:52 am
#5076: Well, that was a lot to dump in one night.
So I went back down to the basement to do some more cleaning.

Recall that I filled one barrel Sunday night? I almost filled the other one tonight. Result: the other trash barrel has enough room left in it for household trash, but I had to stack bags of basement trash in the garage until the barrels are empty; they'll go out next week.

One of the boxes that was remaining to do, today, was a box that had originally held a microwave oven. I filled it with videotapes I will never watch--which have been in the basement for a decade without even being disturbed!--and dumped it into the trash; then I did it a second time.

The result is that I took two 18-gallon totes and three boxes full of videotapes of TV shows I recorded, and condensed them down to one 18-gallon tote. Babylon 5, Enterprise, Deep Space 9, the Saturday morning car shows--and a good forty or fifty tapes which were unlabeled and which had never even been rewound.

I was confused as to why I'd bothered to record all that shit--but then realized, in retrospect, that I recorded those shows at a time before DVD had really gotten going, before you could buy entire seasons of TV shows for a relative pittance. It used to be that if you wanted to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation more than once, you had to record it, because its availability was questionable after the epsiodes had aired.

Now, of course, it runs on BBC, and if you have a subscription to Netflix you can watch it until you wish the Borg has wiped them all out, Data included. I bought a box set of Firefly for about $20; those tapes went, too. Nowhere Man and Voyager--I gave up on the latter about the time they introduced Seven of Nine, because the show started out crappy ("This highly advanced starship has been neutralized by cheese!" ...in more ways than one) and turned even crappier as time went on. I haven't ever had a hankering to watch the former since it was aired; particularly not the "UHF over-the-air crappy-vision" version I had on those tapes.

I did save a few of them; but the result was that a huge pile of videotapes was cut down to a single 18-gallon tote of them, and most of the remainder are things which are truly irreplacable (copies of camcorder tapes) or commercially-produced tapes for which I paid a nontrivial sum. (Though I did toss Battle Skipper and Roujin Z, as they were horrible.)

Also thrown out: backup copies of the Ranma 1/2 tapes. No need for 'em; I have the originals in a safe place, and anyway you can get remastered box sets on BluRay now. I also tossed all the anime I recorded from Cartoon Network, things like Sailor Moon and Gundam W, because I have the un-fucked-with versions now.

I added a bunch of books to the "donate" pile, too--going through a box of paperbacks, I asked myself, "Why the hell do I have all this Spider Robinson?" They're getting donated; if you're read one "Callahan" novel you've read them all and the older I get the more I find that I never really liked his style all that much to begin with. The last straw was him portraying Bertie Wooster as a gay bondage freak, begging Jeeves to take him back, which was both nauseating and highly irritating. Jesus doing carpentry in a whorehouse didn't help much, but I expect that kind of crap from Robinson's ilk the way I expect water to be wet--it's just their nature--and anyway Jesus wasn't portrayed nearly as badly as the gay S&M Bertie Wooster was. So, no more Spider Robinson for me.

I found a box of old books under the desk, really old--but they were so mildewed and water-damaged and smelly I threw them away. There was an old doll in the box that I was going to keep until I actually looked at its eyes; they open and shut correctly but when opened the formerly pretty blue eyes look like they have bad cataracts. I actually yelped and threw it down when I saw them. Egad.

I actually did start working behind the stairs--that's where I found that decrepit box of books--and rearranged things a bit. I still have work to do back there but I sorted almost all the books out and only have a few more boxes to work on.

The next step, then, is organizing.

Organizing will be the hard part. I'm going to buy at least one more set of shelves, and I have a lot of things to sort and find homes for, but the pile is now so small compared with how big it once was, it's a completely different room--and most of the pile now is furniture rather than useless crap, like chairs from the dining room and some other things we don't use.

My poor wife has to pull me away from cleaning, else she doesn't see me. That's how intoxicating my cleaning binge has become. Even when I'm not working on it I periodically find myself going downstairs to gloat over how much better the basement is than it was.

What a great New Year's resolution I picked!
Tuesday, February 9th, 2016
2:50 pm
#5075: Today's title is "Title"
First up, two from Advice Goddess:

Backfired! Basic category error, here; this woman forgot that to a man, an unsolicited genital pic means you're hot to trot; he's not going to be turned off by it (unless there's something seriously wrong with it) and in fact will take your display to mean you are ready to have sex with him.

Hence the, shall we say, enthusiastic reply.

Clicking through to the article itself, I have to say, the best reply was the guy who replied, to the picture, "Lighting's a little off."

The woman in question used a stunt double and did not use pictures of her own gentials.

...she was surprised at the difference between a woman's reaction to unsolicited dick pics and the mens' reaction to unsolicited vulva pics. As anyone educated in feminist theory would be.


* * *

The other one is more serious because the blockquoted text includes examples which our government has actually perpetrated. Meanwhile, government naturally excuses itself from following the rules that citizens must obey, because shut up and take it, prole.

* * *

Francis Porretto has an interesting post up about civilized behavior.

People from shitholes think the US will make everything better, when all the US can do is correct the immediate problem; the US cannot force the people living in the shitholes to stop doing all the things that make them shitholes in the first place. The instant the US tries, the world immediately accuses it of all kinds of high crimes and misdemeanors, and the protests start ("US out of [XYZ]!) and it's a huge mess.

We can't fix it. We can't fix Africa, we can't fix the middle east, we can't fix any of it because the people living there don't want it fixed. Specifically, they don't want to make the changes which would be required to fix what's broken.

The prosperity of the United States was not brought down from on high by an archangel; any other place in the world could be just as prosperous--but they'd have to change how they do business, and that absolutely will not happen.

I agree that it's past time for us to stop trying.

* * *

In the "I keep finding neat crap to tinker with" department, there's a $9 computer available for experimenters and the like.

People still tinker with things in their basements. Eighty years ago it was things like radios; now it's computers, CNC machines, 3D printers, and such. People still build neat things out of whatever they can get their hands on. That's pretty cool.
Monday, February 8th, 2016
2:41 pm
#5074: I like it!
Last night I--having come home too early from work--hit the basement yet again. I spent perhaps two hours working down there, and took out an entire barrel's worth of trash again. The effect, this time, was astounding, and I cleared an insane amount of floor space for such a short time working.

The win of the night: I came across a box full of old computer magazines, opened it, looked at their spines, then closed the box, took it upstairs, and put it right into the trash barrel. I'm talking about a box 24x18 inches, full of old magazines I have not even glanced at since 2004. Trash. I didn't even have to look through them.

I threw away all the pool cues for the pool table I got rid of in 2012. None of them is any good anyway; cracked or broken, tips broken off, or other issues--and they were part of a cheap set bought in 1978 as part of a Christmas gift for my brother and I (which included the pool table).

I found the rest of my paperback sci-fi library. I've been wondering where it is; now I know.

There's this child's desk I bought at a garage sale in the 1970s, which I used for quite a while in various roles, ultimately as a printer stand (which is why there's a slot cut in the back, for formfeed paper). It's going to go out just as soon as I no longer need it for keeping boxes off the floor, which is going to be damned soon.

There are now, in the main part of the basement, about three or four boxes which I have not yet touched. Two totes, one of which is full of old papers (none newer than 2007, and most older) and another which is full of videotapes. I'm going to sort those; and then I should have room to tackle the section of basement behind the stairs.

After all the trash has been evicted from there, then it's just a matter of figuring out how and where to store the remainder, which will be perhaps a third of the stuff originally stored in the basement. I'm probably going to need at least one more shelving unit, possibly two; but then I'm going to have room to set up my desk (moved from the area behind the stairs) and actually have a place I can work on computers and other stuff without cluttering up the main part of the house. I'm probably going to set up a place for video gaming too; the PS3 and SNES and whatever else comes to hand can be set up with the old (vintage 1994) 27" CRT TV I kept. Hopefully I'll be able to bring the sofa in from the garage and set it up for that, though it's going to need new cushions since they were last reupholstered in the 1970s. Ideally the area behind the stairs would be where I'd like to do that, as there's track lighting already installed in the ceiling and it would be a comfortable play space. I just don't know if it'll work, since we still have so much stuff to store that we won't be able to dispose of.

Regardless, it's going to be awesome being able to use the basement.

* * *

101 abominable album covers. Via Og, who posted it on his Facebook page. To my surprise I have actually heard (and have a copy of) #97: Thor, Keep the Dogs Away.

Friend of the Fungus, M.D., at the time of the album's discovery: "To hell with the dogs; keep that band away!"

I had only heard the eponymous track of the album when M.D. and I were on the radio show he did for his university's campus radio station; a couple years later another friend found a copy of the record at some big annual used media sale he went to religiously, and through this and that circumstance I came to have an audio copy of it, which I then digitized; so now I can listen to the MP3 whenever I want. (Which, these days, is not often.)

It's average rock, mediocre lyrics, nothing to write home about, but it's kind of entertaining, especially considering what I paid for it.

* * *

I am so happy to making this much progress on the basement for so little work. Seriously: it seems as if I've hardly spent any time at all working down there, and already the pile is about half the size it was--and it's only going to get smaller as I continue to whittle away at it.

That's what it means to clean, after all; to get rid of stuff you don't need and will never use, and which you haven't even touched in more than a decade. The hardest part is making the decision to do it; once you have, the rest is nearly effortless.

I'm hoping to make a run to the church tomorrow with several large boxes of donations to the bazaar. I'm donating a lot of books which I will never read again, among other things. Some of them are books a friend gave me in 1998-ish, and when I flipped through them last night it was the first time they'd been opened since 1998-ish. Donate.

There was one box I opened, out of which I kept a small stack of computer game literature and a couple of certifications from my Rockwell days; the rest went into the trash. This was a pretty big box, too. All the issues of Electronics Digest which I had kept solely for the Bob Pease columns--which I'd read once and hadn't read again, ever--went right into the barrel.

Sure, I could have clipped the Pease columns and saved them. But why bother? Most of them I read in 1998 or 1999, and had not read since; saving them would be a complete waste of time. Keeping clippings solely because you read them once and got a chuckle out of them is stupid. It's even worse if you keep the whole magazine or newspaper.

Mrs. Fungus and I will have to decide where we want to store our Christmas and Halloween decorations; ideally I'd like to put them in the attic or garage--but that stage will come later. Right now just getting rid of the trash is the a-number-one priority, and I'm doing a bang-up job of that. Go, me!
Sunday, February 7th, 2016
8:27 pm
#5073: Home early again! Thanks, Super Bowl.
My entire team went home around 6:15 PM tonight. *sigh*

* * *

Trump has some serious class compared to the other candidates. Minus emphasis:
During the introductions audience applause drowned out the announcement for Ben Carson to come forward onto the stage. He didn't hear it, and didn't proceed from backstage. Other candidates literally walked right by him and kept going, with Bush going so far as to muscle his way past both Carson and Trump.

Oh, and why was Trump there with Carson to be muscled past?

He didn't take the stage when his name was called. He recognized what had happened and stopped; he had been called 4th in order (the podium order, you see) and waited with Dr. Carson as Dr. Carson was supposed to [precede] him on the stage.

The "moderators" realized what happened eventually, and called Carson again. This time he heard the announcement and got his round of applause. Then, Trump was called (a second time) and came on as well.
That's the kind of thing I'd do, too. Go, Trump!

* * *

"I'm having a sexual emergency!" That doesn't give you an excuse to rape a 10-year-old, you skunk. Send his pervert ass back to the camel-humping sandpile he came from. Shit.

* * *

Ted Cruz sounds okay. He'll do if we can't have Trump, I suppose.

* * *

But, hey--I have some time to go work on the basement, so why not?
12:58 am
#5072: The best part of the movie was Khadgar
So, Mrs. Fungus and I watched Annabelle this evening. It was boring. The most apprehensive part for us was when the woman was using her sewing machine and paying more attention to the TV than the task at hand.

But then we realized that Father Perez was played by the guy who did the voice for Khadgar in WoW.

Hear his voice in this clip:

And so we watched the rest of the movie solely because Khadgar is in it. How pathetic.
Saturday, February 6th, 2016
10:22 pm
#5071: Hey, that actually makes a good point!
Arse Technica is complaining that Australia has "gutted" government climate research but that led me to realize something:

If the science is settled, why do we need more climate research?

Let's face it: all kinds of people are telling us that anthropogenic global warming is a proven scientific fact. That being the case, why do we need to research it any further?

I think this is a good tactic to employ; the next time anyone brings up that "science is settled" nonsense I'm going to remember this.

* * *

Speaking of shit people made up for the sake of a cause, fake hate crimes are the rule rather than the exception. Which is to say, actual real hate crimes are themselves rare, and approximately 99% of the time anyone who claims to be the victim of a hate crime is himself the perpetrater of a hoax.

* * *

Today I kept an eye on the "agents logged in" statistic. I got sent home when that number had dwindled to 29 from a peak of 110. That was at 8:50 PM. I can live with that. One hour's wages won't break me.

* * *

Mrs. Fungus is on her way home with the ingredients for chicken tacos. I can't wait for dinner.
Friday, February 5th, 2016
11:17 pm
#5070: Using spare time wisely!
Well, here's how today went: at about 4 PM there were 110 agents logged in and working. When I got back from lunch about 6:30, there were less than 50 logged in and working.

I got cut at 7:45.

Anyway, came home, relaxed for a few moments, then hit the basement. And for about an hour's worth of work, I managed to make a stunning amount of progress.

Perhaps 80% of the problem down there is inefficient stacking; we just tossed stuff down there that we needed out of the way (for eight years) and it needed to be sorted. Stuff I don't want or need that has no value gets dumped. Stuff I don't want or need that has some value gets donated. This leaves a hell of a lot more room for the stuff that I do want or need.

Tonight I filled most of a trash bag, and moved the old speakers and the room AC out of there. The old speakers will go back down there once I'm done cleaning. The room AC can stay in the garage ad infinitum since I'm hoping, this year, to do that thing where I get a spare door and hang it in the place of the front door, only with the AC stuck through it, so I can work in the garage on hot days.

There's gonna be another whopping big donation to the church before this is done, though.

* * *

At about 0:37 in the video Steven Den Beste links to is where there's a normal-speed view of the eruption and it's f-ing cool.

* * *

The flooding in the UK in early 2014 was made more likely by ELIMINATING PLACES FOR THE WATER TO GO, not global warming. Because the only way we get "global warming" is by changing the data.

* * *

Read the description of how the retina turns photons into nerve impulses and then tell me we "just happend". Hell yes, I think God made us.

* * *

So today I was fiddling with Notepad, as usual.

I started swapping letters around "Burt Reynolds" and came up with "Lund Rebroyts", and then I decided to see what would happen if I made the same substitutions in "Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit".

"Lund Rebroyts ir Smokeb art dhe Lartid" was the result.

Next, I wrote, "It's SMOKEBART THE LARTID! FLEE IN TERROR" ...and I laughed.

...look, when call volume falls off a cliff I gotta keep myself entertained somehow.

Anyway, I've decided I'm going to make a goblin named "Smokebart", because it's a perfect name for one.
2:13 am
#5069: Laying waste to the unwanted
This is very similar to things Mom said. I exist today because my mother had a miscarriage in 1965-ish. It's not something she ever talked much about, but if that baby had lived it's most likely I wouldn't have been born. (You never know, but probably not.) Mom had to have a D&C because of the miscarriage, and I heard her say (several times) that if anyone ever had to go through that they wouldn't want to go through it again.

Of course that was, to borrow a phrase, "a planned and wanted child", not--to borrow another phrase--a "punishment".

Even so, I am not surprised to learn that--years later--people who have had abortions regret them. I'm not surprised at all.

* * *

Are they really? Here's the problem I have with using light to detect ripples in space-time: the light is IN space-time while it's rippling. The distance along one arm or the other of the interferometer may change but the light changes with it.

When you draw an image on a balloon and blow it up, the image gets bigger. It does not magically have more ink in it nor does it materially change shape; and when you let the air out of the balloon it returns to the dimensions and shape it was before you inflated the thing. The passing of light through space-time distorted by gravity waves cannot return any information about the gravity waves.

I don't think anything's going to come of using an interferometer to measure gravity waves for the same reason nothing came of using one to measure the "aether": they're trying to measure the wrong thing, something that has no chance whatsever of demonstrating a positive result.

And for the same reason.

* * *

I really need to get to bed soon. I'd hoped to do a little more work in the basement tonight but it's not going to happen; as soon as I got home Mrs. Fungus and I watched The Prophesy. I really like that movie, a lot more than I thought I would when I first saw the commercials (between acts of Babylon 5) in 1995.

Trash must go out; and tomorrow I've got to get to work about half an hour early so I can put in apps for those two positions, of which I'd like to get one--team lead or Workforce drone. Go, me!
Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016
6:25 pm
#5068: Another couple of hours done
The haul out of the basement was smaller this time--two bags of trash and an entire box of Animerica--but I made some progress.

The magazines: I have not read them in twelve years. I forgot I even had that many of the damned things. I knew I had comic books; I'm not throwing those away, but the anime magazines can go. Animerica was primarily an advertising venue for Viz, anyway.

Here's what I did with the Animerica: I'd get each new issue because it was on my pull list at the comic store; I'd read it, put it into a magazine bag, and stick it in a box. And never, never, ever look at it again.

What I dumped this evening was not the entirety of the Animerica and the Animerica Extra (which was serialized manga printed on pulp) but probably at least half the Animerica and a handful of the Animerica Extra that I have. I'll have to dig into the comic boxes to find the rest of it, but that can go too; then I should have room for all the Knights of the Dinner Table and the other comics that I plan to keep or sell on Ebay.

Thus we make progress.

I still have a pretty long way to go, but it's merely going to be effort and tedium. The next major hurdle for me to surmount is all the f-ing videotapes that I am never, never, ever going to watch. I have the complete set of of Babylon 5; I don't need, for example, the episodes that I recorded from an over-the-air broadcast from a UHF transmitter sixty miles away--with commercials and so full of video noise that it looks like complete and utter ass--nor do I need a lot of the other junk I recorded. Probably 75% of the videotapes can be summarily ejected and I will--again!--never, never, ever miss one minute of them.

The hardest part is letting go; but I've already made the decision. I may hesitate, but not falter. Executing the plan is easier because my mind is made up. Getting rid of all those Animerica rags proves it.

Go, me.
3:05 pm
#5067: You don't have to shovel rain.
The very useful paradox about living in the region I inhabit: in winter, if it's warm enough for the atmosphere to have a lot of moisture in it, generally it is too warm for snow.

We're in the middle of the continent, just about. It's hard for a mass of wet air to get this far in winter. If there's a lot of snow, usually it's west or north or east of here. We're far enough from the oceans that we can only get a lot of snow at any one time under rare circumstances; otherwise it's more typical for us to get a lot of small storms of 2-3-4 inches (as was the case in 2014) rather than one big one of 15-24 inches (like 1967 or 2000).

And thankfully, yesterday, it was too warm to snow. We got a lot of rain, and if that had fallen as snow I don't think I would have been able to dig us out without assistance.

Of course, it does happen; in 1967 a system stalled over the Chicago area and we got pounded. (I was approximately the size of a softball at the time, and somwhere there is film of my mother and I shoveling snow in the blizzard. I am not visible in the picture--see above, "softball"--but I am in it.) We had similar--though less extreme--blizzards in 1979, 2000, 2011, and a year ago. But that kind of snow generally does not happen here, which is yet another reason I would be hesitant to leave the midwest for other climates.

Considering the fact that it just rained and rained yesterday, I'm glad it was unseasonably warm. Otherwise that would have sucked.

* * *

In California here's how you avoid raping your wife:
You: Good evening, honey. May I hug and kiss you hello?

Wife: You may.

[hug, kiss]
Under no circumstances are you to do the following, as that is SEXUAL ASSAULT! and probably R_A_P_E_!_!_!:
You: Hey, gorgeous! [swoop, hug, kiss]

Wife: Tee hee!
Even if she gives the appearance of accepting and enjoying your misogynous pawing at her sacred person, she didn't give consent, and you are therefore a RAPIST!

This has been a public service bulletin for our friends in California.

* * *

As long as we're sure this isn't an imaging artifact it's pretty cool. The Red Square Nebula (it's more of a rectangle) has an awful large number of straight lines. But if you saw something like the 1987A remnant from the side, that's approximately what it would look like, they think.

Well, whatevs.

* * *

So, I thought The People vs. O.J. Simpson would be a dreadful show, but Mrs. Fungus had the DVR record it (I always want to say "taped" but there is no tape in there) and we watched it last night with the proviso that I would go do something else if I stopped being interested.

I didn't.

I am ashamed to admit that--thanks to the wife's predilection for The Soup, a now-defunct pop culture show--I knew who the Kardashians are, and could point out to my wife that "She's got her own talk show now, and she married Bruce Jenner," and other nonsense. Yeah, the OJ imbroglio in the mid 1990s gave us all that horseshit. Thanks, Juice!

The cops' first encounter with Kato Kaelin, the night of the murders, let me to (mis)quote The Door Into Summer: "He ain't drugged; he's just stupid!"

The story is prefaced with a discussion of the Rodney King fiaso, of course. Need to set the stage! And Johnny Cochran is shown as having a closet with enough suits in it for an army, so many that he needs one of those revolving racks you see in a dry cleaner's, and he complains that he hasn't got anything to wear--when he lives in an extremely rich part of Los Angeles and has about fifty thousand dollars' worth of clothing and accessories.

Anyway, the story looks like it might be more interesting than I thought it would be, but we'll see if I stick with this or if I just give up because of all the horseshit surrounding the whole thing.

* * *

The Expanse finished its first season last night. So far it's been pretty fair dinkum. It's hard SF--about as hard as TV can manage, anyway--and I'm looking forward to seeing more of it.

* * *

Incidentally, yesterday is one of a very few Groundhog Days where it was cloudy the entire time.
2:19 am
#5066: Holy--! Will you look at that!
Speed Racer in Japanese!

It's only a handful of episodes--there were more than 40 produced--but I have never, never, ever seen it in its original language, unedited and un-fucked-with.

...it's even cheesier in Japanese. I hadn't thought that possible, but apparently it is. Even so, it's amazing to finally get to see it the way it was originally produced.
Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016
3:10 pm
#5065: Malapropism and data babies
At work, the grunts down in the trenches (such as yr obt srvnt) do not have e-mail. When someone has to broadcast a message to the grunts, they use what is called an "e-pop". It's a kind of instant messaging.

Yesterday, someone announced that some function was moving to a different place on the production floor, and he ended his e-mail with a signature line:

"If you fail to plan, you mind as well plan to fail."

Me: "Might!" "MIGHT as well!" Are you illiterate or something? *sigh*

...I'm unable to reply to these things, fortunately, and even if I could reply I wouldn't, owing to the fact that I like getting a paycheck every other week. Even so, that drove me nuts, as does any evidence of the creeping illiteracy that has overcome our society since Carter instituted the Department of Education. (Before then, actually, but federal control has accelerated it.)

Yesterday was a rather nice day, for a workday. It was #Major_Telecom Launch Day--they have recently changed the theme of their advertising--and so each agent was getting an hour to wander around the center and visit with vendors, and lunch was provided by #Major_Telecom. I was told when my hour was scheduled approximately seventeen minutes after it started, but I took the whole hour.

It took perhaps ten minutes to visit the vendor tables; I spent the rest of the time at my desk, banging out some preliminary text for the Sloot Enoch story and wondering about lunch.

Here's how smart I am: I saw my supervisor being handed a stack of tickets, and I realized that because lunch was Subway lunch boxes they would be rationed somehow. I reasoned that the tickets given to my supervisor were meal tickets, and one had to redeem a ticket to get a lunch. This did indeed turn out to be the case, and once my boss got out of his meeting (which ended about half an hour after my allotted wander time) I went back into "meeting", got my ticket from him, and secured my lunch. The Subway lunch box contained a 6" sub (BMT or ham, your choice), a bag of chips, and a cookie. Oh, and a can of soda. Better than a kick in the face, anyway.

Then we came to the unlimited data call.

#Major_Telecom hasn't offered the feature for years and raised the price of it from $30 to $50 this past November. Periodically we get calls from people who are unhappy about this. Usually they see reason after an explanation, but sometimes there's a particularly entitled and dense person who utterly refuses to accept that #Major_Telecom is a utility and can raise the price for its services. I call this kind of person a "data baby"; that's my term for someone who has a grandfathered unlimited data plan and who kicks about the price increase. But 4G LTE cellular data is expensive and it's not getting any cheaper.

The usual tactic employed by the data baby has two or three stages. The first is that "I wasn't notified of a rate increase." #Major_Telecom informed everyone via their bill; here is another place where I can remind folks YOU SHOULD ALWAYS READ EVERY BILL EVERY MONTH and that IF YOU PAY THE BILL YOU ARE ACKNOWLEDGING THAT IT IS CORRECT. #Major_Telecom employs an army of phone reps specifically to help you understand your bill if you do not. We're always willing to give you a credit for the difference (about $20) in lieu of the notice printed on the bill you couldn't be fucked to read--just to be nice--but that happens one time only and from then on you're paying the $50 for the unlimited data.

Next, "I didn't agree to this." Terms and conditions, dude. It's in there. All rate plans are subject to change without notice. When you accepted the T&C, you agreed to it.

Third, if they're particularly stupid: "I have a contract!" That's a good one. The contract you have is for your phone, not the plan. The plan is (as noted above) subject to change at any time. (The price change, by the way, only occurs after your phone goes out of contract, so that doesn't even hold water.)

This guy would not listen to reason, and I followed all the steps we're supposed to follow when someone complains about the price increase. He wanted to talk to my boss, and--I heard around subsequent calls--he then wanted to talk to our operations manager.

None of whom can give him the $30 price back. It's just not going to happen. The price for unlimited data is now $50 a month, so he has three choices: 1) pay the $50 a month; 2) move to a data tier which suits his needs; 3) go to a different carrier with unlimited data but who will throttle him to 3g (and even 2g!) after he's exceeded his 4G allotment for the month.

Here's the thing: #Major_Telecom charges a lot of money for cellular data. An 18 GB data plan costs $100 a month. The smallest data tier you can get as a new subscriber costs $30 for 1 GB of data; that's for a plan with unlimited talk and text. Data is what costs. (I recently realized that Tracfone charges $0.01 per text message from a smartphone; I doubt they lose money on it.)

Data is what costs, and an allotment of 18 GB costs $100--yet these cretins are kicking over paying $50 a month for unlimited data.

If #Major_Telecom wasn't able to average the heavy unlimited data users with the much more common moderate-to-light unlimited data users, the price increase would've been higher than $20, let me tell you. Fortunately the law of averages means that a $20 increase for all unlimited users keeps the feature from being a money-losing propisition.

Anyway, this bitch (male) whined and cavailed and insisted that he's not going to pay it, and whenever anyone tells me that I just shrug and tell them that they do have that option...but it will lead to late fees and possible discontinuation of service. Hell, you don't have to pay anything if you don't want to, but #Major_Telecom isn't obligated to leave your phone on, either, if you're not paying your bills. The simple fact is that if you don't want to pay for the feature, you don't have to; but if you want the feature, you have to pay for it. There is no option "C" where you get the feature at the price you set.

So it goes without saying that I have absolutely no sympathy for you, if you're crying over having to pay more for truly unlimited 4G LTE data. Hence the term "data baby". "Entitled" just doesn't seem to cover it.

* * *

Yes! Holy shit, yes!
In the contemporary West, those people constitute a comfortable class whose wealth and connections allow them to live in insulation from the very social arrangements that they promote. Tucker Carlson describes that caste in his January 28, 2016 article "Donald Trump Is Shocking, Vulgar and Right" in Politico magazine:
If you live in an affluent ZIP code, it’s hard to see a downside to mass low-wage immigration. Your kids don’t go to public school. You don’t take the bus or use the emergency room for health care. No immigrant is competing for your job. (The day Hondurans start getting hired as green energy lobbyists is the day my neighbors become nativists.) Plus, you get cheap servants, and get to feel welcoming and virtuous while paying them less per hour than your kids make at a summer job on Nantucket. It’s all good.
Those people are pig-ignorant about the things that women like West or Sims know well, yet they are the loudest in denouncing them for crying out about their circumstances. Women from pricey ZIP codes do not leave their homes in the morning to barbaric noise thumping from car speakers or pre-human shrieks from their underclass neighbors. Tucker Carlson’s neighbor does not take her child outside to have a creature named De’Marquise hassle her for money and then shoot her stroller-strapped baby in the face.
(Links removed, and edited a bit to conform to the Fungus style sheet, but otherwise entirely intact.)

Especially the part about "barbaric noise thumping from car speakers or pre-human shrieks"--holy crap if that isn't a fantastic description of reality, I don't know what is.

* * *

Francis Porretto points out something that's been obvious for a while, but we do need to be reminded:
The media are lavishing disproportionate attention on Marco Rubio for finishing third, just behind Trump. This might be their Plan B for the collapse of Jeb Bush’s campaign. Remember that the media are wholly aligned with the Democrat Party. Thus, when they favor one Republican over another, it’s because they believe their chosen Republican is the one the ultimate Democrat nominee will find easiest to defeat. Rubio, whose Senate career started with much fanfare, since then has demonstrated a willingness to waffle, to fudge on the facts, and to trim his sails for votes and favorable coverage. These are not general-election assets for a Republican candidate.
The media loves Rubio because he's an easily defeatable candidate. That's why the lefties are collectively shitting their pants over Trump; he's going to be really difficult for Clinton and/or Sanders to beat, and--worse!--if he were actually to win he might make good on at least some of his promises, which would be disastrous for their long-term goals.

Meanwhile, Trump's second place finish in Iowa means he has one less delegate than the first place winner, Cruz. As I said yesterday, anything less than a total defeat is a win for Trump, given his outsider status in the GOP and his complete unwillingness to toe the line set by the GOP elites. (Eschewing the Fox debate was as much a middle finger in their face as Fox's. Think about it.) Regardless, both Cruz and Trump are anathema to the Establishment; their preferred candidate was Jeb Bush, who has almost completely imploded--thank God!--which is why all their hopes are being pinned on Rubio.

Hillary is supposed to be the Democrat nominee this time around, yet she and Sanders are quite literally neck-and-neck. This, despite the "black lives matter" nonsense that marked his early campaign stops and which were suspiciously absent from hers. I don't know which of them will be the Democrat nominee but as Porretto points out the GOP must take him seriously, regardless.

* * *

I agree wholeheartedly with Karl Denninger, here. There are very, very few web sites I will bother looking at if they insist on showing me ads, because most web sites that host ads do so in highly annoying fashion. Nine times out of ten I do not need to read what's posted on a site; if you refuse to let me see anything useful there because you want me to subscribe or because I use an ad blocker, I guess I don't really need to read anything on your site.

I run an ad blocker because ads do nothing for me but cause trouble. (Recall please that a malicious ad on Space.com infected my machine with a rootkit that took me a week to remove.) And I'm not going to subscribe to your site for the sake of reading one article, once; it's not worth my time or effort. I am especially not going to pay you for it.

If this means I can't read your site, so be it. I don't care.

* * *

Oil prices are the lowest they've been in years and now people are wishing they were higher. Gas is now hovering near $1.61 in the Fungal Vale, the lowest it's been for more than a decade. I'm not complaining.

The low price of oil means cash-strapped people (self included) have more money for other things, which is good considering how deep and crushing the depression has been thus far. Anyone who wishes oil prices were higher probably has a reason for it, but that article makes it sound as if those wishing for higher oil prices merely are blaming the recession on low oil prices. That's putting the cart before the horse; the depression has caused weaker energy demand, and that is what's causing oil prices to drop.

The economy has to get worse before it will get better, and so far the banksters and politicians have done everything they can to keep it from getting worse, because then they'll lose money and elections. And to hell with what's good for everyone else.

* * *

Anyway, it's my Saturday, and I can relax. Why not do so?
12:31 am
#5064: Anything less than clear defeat is a win for Trump.
Cruz is supported by the GOP machine, which would rather elect Hillary than let Trump win, yet from here it looks as if Trump managed to keep Cruz's victory to a slim margin--four percent--and on the GOP side, very seldom does the Iowa caucus winner go on to win the election.

Coming in second against the machine favorite does not mean Trump is done for. I have a feeling the next primary will be different.

* * *

Colombia wouldn't have burned up on re-entry if they'd stuck with the originally specified insulating foam for the external tank. I'm just sayin'.

* * *

Flexible ceramics! That's pretty cool, right there.

* * *

Well, it's my Friday night, and I'm glad to be home.
Monday, February 1st, 2016
1:08 am
#5063: The world of tomorrow!
Tonight I made spaghetti, which is a typical meal for the Fungus household. I did something different tonight, though; noting that Mrs. Fungus loves to put red pepper flakes on her pizza, I put a pinch of them into the spaghetti sauce when I added the oregano and the basil.

She loved it. I loved it. It's a keeper.

Once I've sauteed onions and browned the ground beef, I add a can of Hunt's meat sauce; then I stir in about a scant tablespoon of oregano and a similar amount, less a pinch, of basil. And today, as I said, I added a pinch of red pepper flakes. Bellissimo. Just enough of a kick to make it interesting. Delicious.

* * *

Not much else to report. It's been a day; tomorrow's another one. At least January is over, and we're that much closer to warmer weather, finally.
Saturday, January 30th, 2016
11:47 pm
#5062: WTF, German people?
Just finished watching Goodnight, Mommy (German title Ich Seh, Ich Seh) with Mrs. Fungus, who had rented it on the recommendation of coworkers.

It's a lot less suspenseful when you can see the twist coming a mile away, and in fact I called it within about fifteen minutes of the movie's beginning.

Well, I got some good wisecracks out of it, anyway. (See previous post.)
11:43 pm
#5061: The recipe for preparing bed crackers
Remove package from freezer and thaw in sunlight for three days. Enjoy.
2:06 am
#5060: I made it!
Actually made it to the end of shift today without being cut (or asked if I want to leave early) which is an improvement over the past week or so.

Threw my hat into the ring for a position with Workforce, myself, too; you never know.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

* * *

Gardasil, the HPV vaccine that some wanted to force all teenage girls to be immunized with, has a nonzero rate of causing early sterility in women inoculated with it. They're calling it "premature ovarian failure" and it's apparently a rather unexpected side effect of inoculation with Gardasil. The other unexpected side effect being ovarian cancer. Isn't that great? "This will protect you from one kind of cancer, but you might get another kind of cancer if you use it. Spin the cylinder and pull the trigger!"

I'll say it again: I'm not anti-vaccine; I think inoculations play a role in public health and I absolutely agree that some of them are necessary.

But it's a question of risk versus benefit. Polio is a disease that everyone should be inoculated against, because the risks that come from inoculation are by far and away eclipsed by the risks that exist absent such immunization. Polio kills, and when it doesn't kill it maims...but since Salk perfected the polio vaccine the iron lung has all but disappeared.

Compare that to chicken pox. A kid gets chicken pox, he itches for a couple weeks, then never, never, ever has to worry about it again. (Not until he's middle aged, anyway, and gets Lyme disease shingles.) It may be desirable to immunize a child against it; is it necessary to immunize babies against it?

* * *

Ancient mathemeticians were closer to inventing calculus than anyone previously suspected. There are a lot of things you can't invent until you have calculus; if we'd had calculus in Roman times who knows what we'd be doing now?

* * *

Chapter 184: BRING BACK DDT NOW. Zika is spread by mosquitos. DDT is the best anti-mosquito pesticide ever invented. And Rachel Carson's book was bullshit, anyway.

* * *

They say there's supposed to be a big storm this week. I'll believe it when I see it.
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