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

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    Monday, September 22nd, 2014
    1:03 pm
    #4390: SF meandering
    The flashback sequence has not progressed a single word, but I've got about 1.5 pages' worth of notes on how it will progress once I've got the gumption to write it down. Mostly this is the visible result of a lot of subconscious creative work, stuff that had to be decided before I could advance any further.

    The main issue is, how do you reconcile the following:
    1) A highly technological society
    2) Very advanced medical technology
    3) A Star Trek energy economy
    4) Long lifespans
    5) Near-instantaneous interstellar transportation
    6) The ability to terraform, move, and even build planets
    7) Overcrowding
    8) Impending social breakdown
    There are a whole bunch of Promethean elements that would prevent or mitigate the effects of the Epimethean ones, and that must be explained. (Larry Niven once said that in a world where use of fusion power had reduced the Earth's sea level by an inch, there could not be people starving to death in the cold.)

    The answer, however, hit me that the Epimethean elements are themselves the explanation: the instantaneous interstellar travel is not magic; it requires that a "tramway" be constructed, and if you can't get to the far end of where you want to built it faster than the speed of light, it's going to take a damned long time. These people have the technology for hyperspace travel but have stopped using it since the tramway system went up, and while they still have the knowledge they've lost the infrastructure required to build hyperdrive ships.

    This is similar, in the real world, to how we used to have spaceships that could take us to the moon--ie the Saturn V--and no longer do. We have the engineering know-how to build such rockets, but no longer have the infrastructure. In order to go back to the Moon we first would have to re-develop the infrastructure required to build the machines, which incidentally includes having people learn how to do the technical tasks that would have to be performed.

    Example: we don't have the source code for Apollo computers, most of them. While we couldn't and wouldn't run such programs on modern hardware, the ability to compare that code to code used on modern hardware would be very useful and would obviate a couple of steps in their development process.

    The same is true of this story. It's been on the order of 700-800 years (more or less our years) since the last hyperdrive vessel left the shipyards. The society stopped expanding, stopped colonizing new worlds because there was no way to get to them, and most people didn't want to bother because they had everything they needed anyway. Advanced medicine has treated or medicated the misfits, precisely because the safety valve of a frontier is not present, and the result is a decadent society which is one serious technological failure away from total collapse.

    Fortunately for them, their infrastructure is very, very robust...until the day that it suddenly isn't. (And it's made plain in the story that the tramway infrastructure isn't being maintained, which is also meant to imply that other infrastructure may not be receiving the best of maintenance.)

    Here's where it all comes together, then: the main character is the utter bitch I've whined about in previous posts, and because of nothing other than blind luck and ordinary human cussedness, she is able to keep humanity from extinction...barely. And she ends up being a hero.

    There are a lot of other things going on, and it all fits together rather neatly. The hard part is going to be getting it out of my head and onto paper in a form that resembles the idea.

    It's hard to motivate myself with the most recent rejection still weighing heavily upon me, but I soldier on.

    * * *

    Douglas Adams just got the planet wrong: Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple-breasted whore of EARTH now exists. Maybe this will garner us more room in the book besides "mostly harmless".

    I say "whore" advisedly. If this woman were only doing this for herself, I doubt she'd feel the need to hire a camera crew to shoot a documentary about her life as a woman with an extra (and fake) mammary gland. But while "whore" may be too strong a term, Douglas Adams didn't write about "Eccentrica Gallumbits, the triple-breasted CARNIVAL FREAK of Eroticon VI", so I'm trying to work with the material I'm given.

    * * *

    At work, the other day, I saw a widget which contains a Bluetooth receiver. One version has a 30-pin Apple connector, so it will plug into anything that will dock a device with a 30-pin Apple connector. (The other has a simple 1/8" stereo phono plug that will plug into a standard 1/8" AUX IN jack.)

    This lets you connect any device that can play audio via Bluetooth to...well, what have you got?

    So if you have a sound bar, for example, with an iPod dock, you can get the 30-pin version and plug it in, and presto! You can play music to your sound bar from your phone or tablet or Bluetooth-enabled what-have-you. If your car stereo has an AUX IN jack, you can plug the 1/8" version in, and off you go.

    This is a very good idea.

    ...of course at present I have absolutely no need for this thing, for a variety of reasons. But I can see how it can solve a variety of problems that people can have with getting audio from their device to an amplifier, and that's what makes it cool.

    And it was science fiction a decade ago.
    Sunday, September 21st, 2014
    5:50 pm
    #4389: All kinds of nonsense.
    Karl Denninger on the nonsense that is the suggestion that we have a Constitutional Congress: "There is nothing wrong with the Constitution as it sits now. The problem is that it's not followed."

    This is the kind of problem we see everywhere: we have laws which are meant to do something but they are not enforced, and the people who are busily not enforcing them meanwhile are crying for stricter laws because the ones on the books aren't working.

    Well, you know, they might work if you enforced them.

    You know, like the immigration laws and the gun laws we have. (The latter link is about gun laws not being enforced.) If the laws against employing illegal aliens were actually enforced there would not be a tide of illegals crossing the border. There'd be no economic incentive for them to come here because they wouldn't be able to find work.

    But we fail to enforce the law, illegals come here by the millions, and then suddenly we need amnesty programs and a bunch of other things "because the laws aren't working".

    Well, for fuck's sake, that's like trying to turn on a lamp that's not plugged in. It'll work fine if you supply it with electricity, but as long as it's not plugged in changing the bulb is merely a waste of time and effort.

    Our current Constitution works just fine when we follow it but if we ignore the thing, it doesn't matter what the damned piece of paper says.

    * * *

    My goal for this week is to get the grass cut and the Jeep's oil changed. I don't remember the last time I did that, and it occurs to me that it may have been much longer than the recommended maintenance interval.

    Right now, though, I'm pretty frickin' beat.
    5:34 pm
    #4388: "I'm so pissed off, I'm levitating!" "THAT INFURIATES ME!!!"
    GAH what a pain in the ass today was.

    First off, I was scheduled to work 10 AM to 4 PM. My availability for Sundays starts at 11 AM. I am amenable to reasonable (and infrequent) deviations from my availability because it's a job and sometimes you have to be flexible.

    Second, when I got to work, it was to a store which had no cashiers or customer service people, which meant I was unable to tell walk-in clients that they should first go to customer service and make an appointment. This naturally flensed my entire schedule.

    Third: the only other employee working in the precinct was the useless guy who spends 90% of his time sitting on a stool in back, twiddling his iPhone. He's usually scheduled to work in back, but when he is by himself back there I very rarely see him doing anything other than fucking with his cell phone. Certainly he never lowers himself to working the counter instead of sitting on his ass.

    Fourth: I was as busy as a one-armed paper-hanging goat with three peckers, and worked nonstop at a frenetic pace DOING THE WORK OF TWO PEOPLE for four fuckin' hours.

    Fifth: the guy who was supposed to come in at 4 PM didn't arrive until 4:15.

    Fifth: the smarmy attitude from my immediate supervisor, which approximated: "Well, you see, you're not doing it right! If you were doing it right, you wouldn't be so stressed, you fucktard."

    So I'm working the counter alone and have no backup, and while dealing with Client A, Client B walks up, and I am apparently supposed to stop talking to Client A, greet Client B, ask him if he has an appointment, and if he doesn't, make one for him. And I am supposed to take only 15 minutes to deal with Client A even while I am using 2-4 minutes of his scheduled time to deal with another client.

    Yeah.

    ...and even if I had been doing that, it still would not have changed the fact that I AM DOING THE WORK OF TWO PEOPLE. Did my boss have anything nice to say to me about it? Did she even say, "Yes, it can get pretty hectic out there, but I know you're equal to the task"? Did she have anything nice to say to me?

    Forevermore, why would she do that?

    Not a word. The only thing she had to say approximated UR DOIN IT RONG, and not even in the context of "Well, you may be trying too hard to help the client,..." Not a damn hint of constructive criticism, just "If you did it the right way you wouldn't be having this trouble."

    And that is bullshit because--as I said--THEY HAVE ME DOING THE WORK OF TWO PEOPLE and I fail to see how scheduling clients would have fixed the workload I dealt with today.

    Now, look: I don't mind working hard, and I don't mind doing this kind of thing, and I don't even mind having to make time for bathroom breaks. I may complain about it, but it's a freakin' job and I'm expecting that I'll have to earn my paycheck, so I go and do it.

    I just want my immediate supervisor to recognize that I am doing my job effectively.

    So if I'm such a fuckup, if I can't be trusted to do this job properly why the fuck am I always scheduled to work alone?

    Fuck.
    Friday, September 19th, 2014
    7:03 pm
    #4387: Today there is a new iPhone
    A coworker plumped for one, and I looked it over, and sure enough the back camera protrudes about 1/16".

    Only one customer support horror story today, and it involved a twenty-something guy getting angry and swearing at me because he wanted a brand new replacement phone five days after the two-week period where the manufacturer allows us to do that. I told him I wasn't going to listen to him any longer and walked away from the counter.

    Gah.

    Drove home, got gyros for Mrs. Fungus and I, and ate like a pig; I was starving. The double quarter pounder I had for breakfast (at 11:30) did not hold me for the entirety of my 5-hour shift today and I had no time for a snack. *sigh*

    Nothing else to report. Today was an extremely nice autumn day and I spent all of it indoors. *sigh*
    Thursday, September 18th, 2014
    3:21 pm
    #4386: Soon there will be another iPhone
    The hits keep coming.

    Karl Denninger informs us that the back camera protrudes from the casing and he then explains why that's a bad thing.

    Here is how that will affect my job. The protruding camera will get broken in stupid fashion three days after the owner buys it, and then he is going to bring it to me. That conversation will go approximately thus:
    Me: Okay, this is an accidental damage claim (ADH) and the deductible for that is $150.

    Him: What? I just bought the phone! Isn't it under warranty?

    Me: Yes, but the warranty doesn't cover mechanical damage.

    Him: But it's just the camera! I just set it down on a table and it broke!

    Me: I understand that, but because it's not normal wear and tear, it's an accidental damage claim, and the terms of the plan require a $150 deductible for claims of that type.

    Him: So I'll get a new phone, right?

    Me: It'll be a factory refurbished ph-

    Him: But this is a brand new phone! I got it three days ago! It's just the camera that's broken, and you're telling me I'll get a used phone to replace it? I was told I'd get a brand new phone if this one broke!

    Me (thinking): Well, maybe you should have been more CAREFUL with your damned phone, you fucking idiot. And no one told you that you'd get a brand new phone, either; you're probably lying about that, and even if you're not lying I think it's a lot more likely that you didn't pay attention to what you were being told, and you sure as hell didn't bother reading the terms and conditions that we e-mailed to you.

    Me: I'm sorry, sir, but this is what I can do for you. As I said, it's mechanical damage, so it's not a warranty issue, which means the only way I can process this is as an accidental damage claim.

    Him: And I have to pay $150? Why am I paying all that money for the insurance?

    Me (thinking) You pay $10 a month to insure your phone, and since you've had it for less than one month you've paid $10. For that, you want us to eat the cost of a $700 phone? Stick it up your ass.
    Usually at this point, whatever I say, the guy demands to talk to a manager, and I am just as happy to hand his dumb ass off rather than waste time with someone who has absolutely zero understanding of economics.

    Further, it doesn't do you any good to yell at me. I don't own the company and I don't make the policies, and I have no latitude for making exceptions. The only thing your temper trantrum accomplishes is for you to make yourself look like a self-entitled douchebag. I understand that you're upset because you just paid a lot of money for a new phone, and it's broken, but it's not our fault the thing got broken, and you must bear some of the cost of replacing your broken phone. Welcome to reality.

    I mean, if stores went around replacing phones with brand new ones, all the time, they'd rapidly go out of business. So, no--if you drop your glass phone and break it, you're not going to get a brand new one right out of the box, not even if you bought the thing two days ago, and if you want to get the replacement you're going to pay the f-ing deductible, because that way maybe you'll be more f-ing careful with your phone in the future.

    Argh.

    * * *

    "Broken", in those last few paragraphs, is shorthand for "accidentally damaged", by the way. If you buy a new cell phone and it craps out on you in the first two weeks of ownership--because of a manufacturing defect or what-have-you--then you get a brand new replacement right out of the box at no cost to you. (That's the manufacturer's policy, by the way, and my employer has nothing to do with it.)

    * * *

    There really isn't much else to discuss. Tomorrow is Friday (already) and it's looking like the weather this week is going to be "stunning early autumn" weather but for Saturday.

    The main east-west drag has been closed, now, for two months, while they do the realignment of the road. To be honest I like how quiet it is without a constant stream of cars rolling past 150 feet away. That will change, of course, once they finally reopen the road, but for the time being I can enjoy a pleasantly quiet afternoon.

    * * *

    Next year is 2015, and it's looking like Back to the Future was pretty seriously wrong about how quickly technology would develop. No hoverboards, no Mr. Fusion, no flying cars.

    Well, I suppose the real 2015 would not look good in a movie. The modern cellular telephone is a technological miracle, something which was flatly impossible in 1985 (just like Mr. Fusion and flying cars) but there's no glitz to them, no fireworks. Someone pulls a passport-sized object from his pocket, touches the front, and talks into it. Whee!

    It's worse if the person is using a bluetooth headset; then he taps a thing in his ear and appears to talk to himself. It looks lots like Star Trek but there's no pizazz. Certainly it's not as visually interesting as a DeLorean switching into flight mode and soaring off into the blue.

    *sigh*

    * * *

    On the plus side, my wife has given me leave to postpone cutting the grass until next week. The way I feel right now I am not inclined to argue the point. All I want to do is lay down and listen to the cicadas singing and do glorious nothing. Work tomorrow, anyway, and someone's going to be complaining about something that I can't possibly help. I'm going to need that energy.
    Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
    6:36 pm
    #4385: STAY HOME, MITT
    I saw musings about this over at AoSHQ a few days ago, but other than an eyeroll it didn't prompt much of a reaction from me.

    The idea that Mitt Romney might try a third time to be President just makes me want to retch. Okay, he tried in 2008 and again in 2012, and he failed both times. The first time he lost the nomination; the second he lost the election. It is time to let someone else have a go, Mitt.

    Mitt Romney has demonstrated that he is not actually electable--no matter how much the GOP elite loves him--and because the GOP wasn't paying attention the first time Romney had a chance to demonstrate it twice.

    If the GOP is actually interested in, y'know, winning the next election, it ought to front someone who hasn't already failed of election twice, sequentially, in as many Presidental contests. The GOP therefore also should not front John McCain, which is another name I've seen bandied about, because John McCain is just as bad as Romney on most issues and the "electability" spectrum.

    The last thing the GOP leadership wants is for a conservative to win nomination, because if he does he'll win and that will show that the GOP can win by (horror of horrors!) actually listening to its base and fronting conservatives. I mean, what does the base know? They think it would be smart to reduce government spending and taxation, and to let the banks fail if they go bankrupt, and to prosecute the Wall street bigwigs if they break the law--but if we did that, where would the big election campaign donations come from? Huh? Answer that one, smart guy!

    If Romney runs again, I expect him to win the nomination, which will again put me in the position of voting Libertarian rather than vote for "Obama Lite"...and I will not be alone, and Romney will fail of election a third time. (I'd like to say that after a third loss it ought to be obvious even to the GOP that Romney is simply not electable, but I don't think the GOP is that bright.)

    If Romney were to win, his presidency would be four to eight years of exactly what we're getting right now, except that the press would be adversarial and not cover for all the stupid crap. It'd be more economic depression, more malaise, more undeclared demi-war in the middle east, more government, more taxation, more spending, more unemployment, more national debt, more inflation. Nothing would change except the occupant of the White House.

    Well, we've got two years. Hopefully there is someone out there right now who is getting ready to run for President who will knock everyone's socks off and blow Mitt Romney's doors off, so he'll get the f-ing hint and retire, and we can finally be rid of his dumb ass.
    6:20 pm
    #4384: Well, at least they were fast about it.
    Castalia passed on #RELEASE_CANDIDATE_ONE. *sigh*

    Next I'll whip it into shape for Baen and send it to them. That will mean a 9-12 month wait while it flops around their slush pile.

    It's a little depressing. Yesterday I dared to let myself think a few happy thoughts about the submission, because no one who has read it has had anything bad to say about it.

    Castalia didn't say anything other than "we'll pass" and "feel free to submit again", but their submissions page mentions that they don't offer advice or reasons, and they also promise to have an answer to the prospective author as quickly as possible. And to be honest a rejection is a rejection, whether or not the editor explains why he rejected the story. It still stings, regardless.

    The rejection letter for "The Fallers" explained their decision to me, and in some ways was worse than the terse rejection from Castalia, because it sounded like they almost decided to publish it...where Castalia just said "No thanks, maybe next time."

    Still, *sigh*. Well, nothing worthwhile is accomplished easily.
    12:42 pm
    #4383: I have to wonder how cold the room would get, though.
    The other day, during some downtime at work, I had a thought about a balloon full of helium suddenly turning into lead, and how big the piece of lead would be.

    So I looked up the densities of helium and lead and worked it out.

    Now, if you assume that the components of the helium atoms just suddenly rearrange themselves so that they're lead atoms, and further that the energy budget is irrelevant, then a cubic meter of helium will turn into a sphere of lead about three centimeters across. This lump of lead weighs 116.4 grams, the same as the cubic meter of helium (at one atmosphere, 20° C).

    Of course that's not the whole story, because that assumes a magical process where the protons, neutrons, and electrons just magically rearrange themselves. What happens if we pay attention to the energy now?

    Fusion of atoms releases energy until you get to iron. From hydrogen to manganese, fusion is a net producer of energy; once the atoms have fused and things have settled down, you have a heavier element and some excess energy. So to get from helium to manganese you've released quite a bit of energy, making the immediate environment quite toasty, and of course you don't have 116.4 grams of manganese because some of that mass got turned into energy.

    But from iron onward, fusion requires an input of energy, and we have quite a way to go to get to lead (element 82) from iron (element 26). If we assume we can use the energy we had previously emitted to help out with the fusion reactions, even then we still don't end up with 116.4 grams of lead because now we're using up mass to power the fusion reactions. If you don't, you're sucking energy from the surrounding environment, and in that case I imagine the room would get chilly. I just wonder how chilly it would get.

    I was satisfied with the 3 cm ball of lead answer, though. The rest of it was just fiddling. Of course, it's all about the binding energy; iron fusion (for example) is a net consumer of energy because the larger the atom's nucleus gets, the more binding energy (strong force) is required to hold the thing together, and the energy that's released from fusing the nuclei is insufficient to provide all the binding energy required for the new nucleus. Further, when a uranium atom fissions, the energy that comes out is largely that binding energy being released via one mechanism or another.

    ...which is why fission is "downhill", by the way. An unstable nucleus is trying to find a more stable state--a state with lower potential energy--and that's like a rock rolling down a hill. (Almost literally, as it turns out.)

    And so my idle curiosity about how big a certain volume of helium would be if converted to lead somehow taught me a little bit about how and why fusion and fission behave the way they do. Whee!

    (Afterthought: fission doesn't have the same sort of limit that fusion does. Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen--one proton, two neutrons--that has a half-life of about seven years. It's much easier for the rock to spontaneously roll downhill.)
    8:06 am
    #4382: I don't know what I'm doing out of bed
    It's a day off, I don't need to get up, and so of course I naturally woke up at 6 AM feeling well-rested, which I otherwise NEVER DO. Even the "waking up feeling well-rested" part NEVER FREAKIN' HAPPENS.

    What will happen--if I try to do anything constructive--is that I will start to feel exhausted and fade right the hell out. I have been here before about half a million times; I know that this feeling of being well-rested is an illusion.

    Argh etc.

    * * *

    There is so much money in pharmaceuticals, this kind of thing is to be expected. It's not surprising that companies are faking data. A successful drug is worth tens (or hundreds) of billions, and the patent expires after twenty years.

    Speaking of which--

    When I lived in Cedar Rapids my doctor tried to mitigate my annual sinusitis by having me take Nasacort. Nasacort is an antihistamine that is delivered nasally; you take one puff up the schnoz every day. A dose was a whisper of a very fine powder delivered on a puff of Freon, and it worked fairly well for me. Problem was, it was expensive, something like $90 or so per month.

    The other day I saw name-brand Nasacort as an over-the-counter drug, and it was under $20 for a two-month supply.

    I need a time machine, and I need it fifteen years ago.
    Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
    9:30 pm
    #4381: Thanks, Obama! Thanks, Democrats!
    National debt is $1,000 billion bigger than this time last year. THe national debt is four times bigger than it was twenty years ago.

    The official deficit number is somewhere near $500 billion, but the government uses accounting tricks to make it look smaller than it actually is.

    Whee! It's a party!

    * * *

    Obamacare has cost the economy some 350,000 jobs. But those are all low-quality minimum-wage jobs because business owners are evil bast--uh? You mean it's across the entire income spectrum? But that's impossible. Isn't it? I mean, employment can't just go and decline merely because employing people has become more expensive! That's crazy talk! That would never happen.

    * * *

    Manufacturing is soaring, but "industrial output" is tanking.

    No, it doesn't make any sense to me, either.

    * * *

    More proof, as if we needed it by the sixth year of Obama's presidency, that the media has a severe leftist bias. Obama polls about as well as Bush did in his sixth year. In 2006, 124 stories about Bush's horrible numbers.

    In 2014, eight about Obama's horrible numbers.

    Naw, no bias there!

    * * *

    Yet Another Death Knell for man-made global warming. Atmospheric carbon dioxide has been rising steadily, but temperatures have not. The models are shit and have no predictive value whatsoever.

    * * *

    Saw a boxed set of Haganai Next at work the other day, and after reading the copy on the back thought it might be worth a gander. Then I saw that it was season 2, and realized I need to see season 1 first.

    I suppose this means I should go set up Cephiro somewhere with a wireless card and let it quietly torrent the series so I can watch it at my leisure. (If I ever have any.) But that would take a lot of effort I don't want to expend right now, particularly since I have to get the grass cut tomorrow or so.

    In a few months I'll be struggling with the snowblower and fondly recall being able to sit on the tractor in shorts and sandals and just steer. Well, that's how it goes, I guess.
    Monday, September 15th, 2014
    9:04 pm
    #4380: Welcome to Windows 8.1
    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss--but a little bit niftier. Whee!

    Last night, before bed, I told Windows to go ahead and upgrade to 8.1. This evening after work--there was a little bit of a mistake on my part because I didn't realize at first that my mouse buttons were set for right-handed use. (I am right-handed, but I use my mouse with my left hand, because my right hand is more prone to carpal tunnel than my left. All those late nights playing Ultima III on the C-64 put more strain on my right wrist than my left, and here we are.)

    Anyway, once I figured out why the mouse wouldn't click, the install finished and now my machine's OS is up to date. Can't complain about that.

    * * *

    "Respect for the Aged Day" has been a national holiday in Japan for decades. It's nothing new and there's nothing bizarre about it.

    * * *

    As government forces the costs of minimum wage employment higher, the industries that employ the most minimum wage workers are finding ways to do without as many of them. All as predictable as the tides, I might add...predictable, that is, assuming that you're not a liberal Democrat.

    * * *

    Fred Reed reminisces about a bygone era.

    * * *

    Og has gone and found something nonsensically weird. Warning: you will have "Yankee Doodle" stuck in your head if you watch the video.

    * * *

    Here is a picture which means nothing to anyone under the age of 30. It shows a woman who has just managed to cross the line from East Germany (Soviet bloc, communist dictatorship) to West Germany (NATO, democracy). The uniformed guys standing on the left side of the line are West German; the ones on the right side are East German. The East Germans wish to take the woman back to their side of the line by force, but the West Germans are not going to let them do so without a fight, and if a fight started there it would mean bad things for all concerned.

    Anyone who thinks communism is wonderful is either stupid or ignorant...or both.

    * * *

    Palestinian woman murders her own daughter because somone told her that the girl had been having an affair with their son.

    Yeah, islam is so peaceful and wonderful, isn't it?

    * * *

    Today was tiring. Time for some fun.
    Sunday, September 14th, 2014
    8:15 pm
    #4379: Dumb dumb dumb dumb dumb
    I'm totally out of energy. Suffice it to say that I am never, never, ever again going to help someone who is bringing a device in for a friend/lover/son/daughter who forgot his password. From now on, it's going to be, "When he can come in, I'll help him with it."

    Okay: kid uses Kindle Fire for school. Kid drops Kindle Fire and wrecks screen. Kid's grandmother brings in kid, tablet, and receipt to exchange for new one.

    It falls to me to setup the device, and of course the kid doesn't remember her account password. It turned out that the account password had been set by the kid's mother, and she didn't know what it was, either. I spent almost two hours on this crap, and got nowhere.

    No more. Uh uh. If the password you give me doesn't work, and the actual account holder is not present, we're done. Have a nice day.

    Shit.

    * * *

    Vox Day talks about some abject stupidity he saw over on Gawker:
    [A kid who stole a woman's cell phone] will now enter New York's vaunted juvenile justice system, which will likely fuck up his life even further, simply because he snatched a white lady's iPhone in Williamsburg.

    If you are nonviolently mugged by a child, continue to let him run along with his friends. The world will be a better place.
    There is no such thing as a "nonviolent mugging". When someone takes something from you by force--even if you are not physically threatened--it is violence. The violence may be implicit, but it's still present.

    It is not exactly a surprise to most people that theft is not only wrong, but illegal, and I am certain this kid was not one of the few exceptions. (Most of the exceptions would be people who are developmentally disabled.) I'd wager that this kid's parent(s) did not raise him to snatch peoples' cell phones and run away with them, all the while saying, "If you can get away with it, it's yours!"

    So I'm pretty sure the kid knew he was breaking the law by snatching someone's cell phone and running away with it.

    The writer of the article, one Jordan Sargent, appears to think that stealing someone's cell phone shouldn't be a punishable crime. So can we expect him not to file charges against someone for stealing his cell phone?


    What a douchenozzle.

    * * *

    The government retail sales statistics are meaningless.
    ...[I]n a previous role at IKEA, when I was a much younger man, I was responsible for filling out the monthly government retail surveys for the Census Bureau. The government drones collecting this data do not check it. They do not require proof that it is right. It is self reported by retailers across the country. Filling out this crap for the government was about as low on my priority list as whale shit. If I was really busy, I’d make the numbers up, scribble them on the form and put it in the mail. The numbers the government are accumulating are crap. And then they massage the crap. And then they publish the crap as if it means something. It’s nothing but crap.
    So the numbers are shit and the stuff the government publishes is rehashed shit.

    ...and as noted by the writer of this article, I've noticed the "for rent" signs and the empty spaces and all the rest of it. The corner grocery store? It went out of business--it had been operating there longer than I've existed--and the space is up for rent. There is one strip mall in the area that has very little vacancy in it (if any) and otherwise I see lots and lots of "for rent" signs all over the place.

    Right now there are some eight or nine properties for sale within a quarter mile of the bunker. I'm talking about places that are on roads I use every day; there could easily be more properties on the side streets I don't use. And these places stay on the market for quite a while; I think one of them has been for sale for more than a year. There's a house across the street which has been vacant for some time, but is not apparently up for sale--I have no idea what's going on there, but there's been no activity around the place, there's no signage, and the grass is not regularly cut.

    Meanwhile, the US has the highest corporate tax rates in the world, and our government is doing everything it possibly can to strangle business development. It does not call it that, of course. It's "cleaner air" and "access to health care" and "giving folks a fair shake".
    When you see the headlines touting strong retail sales, you need to consider what you are actually seeing in the real world. RadioShack will be filing for bankruptcy within months. Wet Seal will follow. Sears is about two years from a bankruptcy filing. JC Penney’s turnaround is a sham. They continue to lose hundreds of millions every quarter and will be filing for bankruptcy within the next couple years. Target and Wal-Mart continue to post awful sales results and have stopped expanding. And as you drive around in your leased BMW, you see more Space Available signs than operating outlets in every strip center in America.
    All true, except that I don't drive a leased anything; I can't afford it.

    2014 looks perilously like 1937 and the parallels have not exactly been lost on me, either, let me tell you.

    * * *

    So it turns out that Crossbones is a one-season wonder. NBC canceled it, and that means there won't be any more of that series. That's a crying shame; I was actually enjoying that series, for its own sake. I didn't have to make wisecracks about it nor did I have to hold my nose and put up with "Hey, we're on CABLE!" moments or other nonsense; that was a genuinely good series.

    Of course they canceled it!

    Ep 8 featured a situation where a woman came to the main character (a surgeon as well as a spy!) wanting him to perform an abortion on her. The doctor refused, trying to talk her into having the child (for several very good reasons). The woman tried taking an abortifacient and got very sick, and blah blah blah etcetera.

    I think this episode decided NBC on canceling the show. Even though all the portrayed attitudes about abortion were 100% correct for the period, of course no word that's critical of abortion must ever be uttered on TV, and if they're going to write a show with that kind of neanderthal Rethuglikkkan stuff in it, we'll just cancel it!

    I mean, I don't think that was the only reason the show was cut, but I'd wager it was a factor.

    * * *

    Incidentally, that chart that showed what $1 will buy today versus what it bought in the past? In 1998--16 years ago--it bought a gallon of gasoline. Today it will buy perhaps a quart of gas.

    And it occurred to me that we will not see gas costing $5 a gallon before a Republican is in the White House again. Mark my words; the summer after we inaugurate a Republican President, gas WILL hit $5 a gallon.
    Saturday, September 13th, 2014
    10:20 pm
    #4378: Why are there cowboys at McDonald's?
    That is not a question you ever really see yourself asking, but I asked it today. When I went to the usual fast food joint for the usual food cartridge, as I was turning in I saw a man on horseback with the usual cowboy paraphernalia.

    Then I saw the bounce houses--some three or four of them--and realized that some kind of event was on. When I got around to the other side of the building I saw that the street was blocked off and there were cars on display. "Ah, I get it now," said I.

    * * *

    Offensive, yes. Juvenile, yes. Stupid, decidedly. But criminal? Hardly. Short form: dumbass kid jumps up on a Jesus statue and mimes like Jesus is giving him a hummer. This is probably the stupidest thing I've seen in quite a long time; it's juvenile and idiotic, and sure, it's pretty dang offensive.

    But you can't outlaw stupidity or juvenile behavior, both of which are frequently offensive; and if you look carefully at the Constitution you find that freedom of expression is quite plainly stated while "freedom from offense" is nowhere to be found.

    As offensive, juvenile, and eye-rolling stupid as this kid's behavior is, it's protected speech and there should not be a law against it.

    * * *

    Speaking of cars the AoSHQ Saturday Car Thread mentions the Fiero! Hurray!

    This part of the post contains the same canard that such posts usually do: "GM also tossed aside the suspension designs and used Chevette front suspension and brakes and reversed the Citation front suspension for the rear."

    They did not "reverse" the Citation front end; they put the Citation (the X-body, actually) front end on the back of the Fiero in the same orientation that it was installed in the Citation. If they had "reversed" it, the Fiero would have had four reverse speeds and one forward speed, because the transaxle was designed such that the thrust side of the differential could not be reversed.

    In the old Beetle, for example, you could take the differential out and "flop" it, thus changing the thrust side and reversing the rotation of the diff with respect to the rest of the transaxle. Volkswagen did this on purpose because that enabled the use of reduction boxes at the outboard ends of the axles--which provided better torque but had reversed rotation at the output--and instead of having to build a special transmission for that you just flopped the diff and carried on as usual.

    You can't do that with the GM front wheel drive transmissions; they'd self-destruct faster than you could say "cost-cutting measures". Further, you couldn't build the Fiero engine for reverse rotation (to keep the transmission stock and still have four forward speeds) because all GM engines rotate the same way regardless of what orientation they're designed for and it'd be a logistical nightmare to have one reverse-rotation engine in the lineup.

    It was far simpler to take an X-body front end and graft it onto the hind end of the Fiero chassis, but that meant grafting it with the front end forward. That's why the oil filter is such a pain to get at on a V6 Fiero; in an X-body, it's right up front, nice and convenient; but you have to jack the Fiero up and slide under the passenger side to get at it.

    Still--it's nice to see the Fiero get some love.

    * * *

    Inflation! A handy infographic to help you understand how much you're getting screwed by it!

    * * *

    Hard to believe it, but I've been at my job for eleven months now. About four more weeks will make it a year. Where did the time go?
    Friday, September 12th, 2014
    6:49 pm
    #4377: Yes, I most definitely needed that mental health day yesterday.
    This morning the alarm clock went off at the same time it did yesterday morning, but with different results. Today when I woke up, I didn't feel like throwing the switch on the ultimate nullifier and causing a Total Existence failure of the entire universe.

    I was, in fact, able to get up and go to work without having to crowbar myself out of bed; I didn't even have to cajole myself into motion. I just got up and went and did.

    Yesterday I did not have any strength. Today I did. Praise be to God.

    * * *

    As the global economy stalls, having reached the end of the economic expansion that simply printing money can prompt, the price of commodities will necessarily crater, including crude oil.

    Gas was fixing to go over $4 a gallon here in the Fungal Vale, at least until this happened.

    The depression is only going to get worse, regardless. If gas is $4 a gallon (or more) it's going to choke any possible recovery, but if it's naturally around $3 a gallon (I paid $3.62 this evening) it means that the global economy is in the shitter and unemployment will get worse.

    Damned if we do, damned if we don't. It's a real shame that the system wasn't allowed to correct itself in 2007; sure, that would have put a lot of Wall Street Bankers out of jobs, but the pain would probably be over by now and we'd be in a solid recovery.

    Instead, we get this, and it's going to get worse before it gets better. Pray that it doesn't get much worse before it starts getting better.

    * * *

    Today, when I got to work, it was to the revelation that they have once again "improved" the software I must use all day every day. They have "improved" it such that it is less convenient and more clunky, requiring that I log back into the system if I am away from it more than five minutes. Everything now runs in browser windows, so that there is even less space on the 15" Point of Sale monitor than there was before, and in the bargain now the service order application has become almost unreliable: if I type in someone's phone number, it's a crapshoot whether or not it'll return any information or simply tell me that it couldn't find anything, and it requires logging out and back in again (for which I must enter my password at least twice) to get it to return useful information.

    I expect that this fancy new software works splendidly on the high-end PCs used by the executives who almost never need to use the shit.

    The other frustrating thing: it seems like every damned time I want to do something simple to a client's computer I first must wait half an hour for it to run updates. Today I told a woman's PC to shut down, but instead of simply shutting down the goddamned thing cranked away at updating itself for twenty fuckin' minutes. All I wanted to do was to shut it down so I could pop the wireless card out and reseat it, but of course I had to wait.

    It's like, DON'T YOU ASSHOLES EVER LET WINDOWS UPDATE RUN? This great pillock exchanged his laptop, last week, for a new one because the old one failed updates and hung at rolling them back. What did he bring his laptop in for today? Well, it failed at updating and hung at rolling back, of course. You know what that means the problem really is? PEBCAK, that's what--Problem Exists Between Chair And Keyboard. When the screen says "DO NOT TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER" what do you think that means? You're a fuckin' moron and you are too stupid to use computers. Here is your money back, which is what I am not allowed to say to him.

    *sigh*

    * * *

    But work was over pretty quickly--surprisingly so, considering--and I bolted at 5 PM because my patience had worn thin. Tomorrow is another one.

    * * *

    iPhone 6 is coming out soon. I wouldn't wipe my nose on that junk.
    Thursday, September 11th, 2014
    3:56 pm
    #4376: Can you tell I needed a mental health day?
    That last post was something else. Well, today of all days I suppose it's okay.

    I was scheduled to go in today, but ended up taking a sick day (last one was July 25th) because I woke up with the weight of a sorely screwed up world on my shoulders.

    Ordinary depression is something I'm used to. Having a depression-anxiety disorder (mostly anxiety) since my teen years has inured me to the effects of having the blues, and I am very conversant at dealing with them. Today was something else, deeper and thornier than usual. Even so I gutted it up and got myself moving, but I only made it as far as getting into the bathroom before I realized It just isn't going to work and gave up.

    I ended up calling off, going back to bed, and hating myself for my weakness, but also with just a little bit of relief.

    I will do better tomorrow.

    * * *

    This is impossible because of course it's against the law for convicted felons to possess firearms. And again we see just how effective laws are at keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.

    * * *

    Michael Flynn made a real movie with friends when he was in high school--on 8mm and then 16mm film!--and it seems as if they actually made a decent effort.

    I still have this fantasy about doing a proper digital edit of Captain Fantastic, the feature-length anti-hero movie some friends and I made in 1991. I have all the raw video (and have already recorded it to DVD) so getting it into the computer shouldn't be beyond my capabilities, and there are a bunch of programs out there I could use to edit the thing. As a bonus I could synchronize audio to video and use nifty scene transitions and redo the title sequence (the original was done on a C-64 with character graphics *whimper*).

    But it would take a lot of time, and I haven't had any to spend on a project which would be amusing but otherwise almost totally without benefit.

    I do still fantasize about setting up a workstation in the basement and doing it. I have enough computer hardware; Cephiro would work just fine as a multimedia workstation and the only thing that prevents it is the lack of time for anything of the sort, especially since I'd first have to clean off the desk that's down there. Argh etc.

    Still, I am glad not to have lots of free time. In this economy, we must be glad for what work we have.

    * * *

    Autumn fell like a sixteen ton weight yesterday. This time yesterday we had the AC running; today it's 55° outside. I have not yet broken down and put on sweatpants, but it's not going to get warmer outside today and I'd wager I'll be feeling chilly before long.

    It reminds me that winter is coming, and I'm starting to debate the wisdom of living somewhere that has winter. I have never felt like this before in my life.

    * * *

    And--at long last--today--just now--I submitted my novel to Castalia House.
    3:24 pm
    #4375: Wars and rumors of wars
    Chinese think war with Japan is inevitable. The article begins thus:
    When it comes to current geopolitics, one has to stretch their memory to recall a time when there were more overt and not so overt conflicts, humanitarian interventions, drone bombings and proxy or outright civil, and/or otherwise, wars.
    He's right.

    Global trade has fallen flat on its face thanks to the ongoing depression that started in 2007. Money is probably the best motivation for keeping nations who hate each other from fighting, but international trade is not doing so very well right now which--needless to say--is reducing the effectiveness of the mitigating effect that such trade has.

    That article leads with a map showing all the current areas in conflict in the world right now--actual "bang bang" shooting and other violet conflicts, as well as "tensions" between historical rivals--but it does not show the possibility of civil war in Spain and it also doesn't show things like the ebola epidemic. Or Scotland's increasing lean towards independence from Britain, which I imagine the English would not take sitting down.

    The four horsemen are saddling up.

    To make matters worse the United States is being led by an idiot. Worse, he's an idiot who is so convinced of his own genius that he's incapable of understanding that everyone makes mistakes and therefore cannot anticipate making any. And he's doing it with the incompetence which is his prime characteristic.

    The progressive claim that islamic groups like ISIS are not "true muslims" is once again being trotted out, but ISIS is more muslim than any of them want to admit:
    Muhammad himself was a thoroughly evil man. Quoting Prophet of Doom (p. 3), "He became a pirate, dictator, and terrorist leader. He used Quranic scripture to justify horrific behavior: pedophilia, incest, rape, torture, assassinations, thievery, mass murder, and terror all in an unbridled orgy of sex, power, and money." This picture of Muhammad comes from the founding documents of Islam. Nobody has to make up anything. The founding documents themselves tell all.

    Once he had gathered enough followers, Muhammad changed from evangelist to conquistador. He was a barbaric savage, claiming Islam as the authority for his behavior. He was the first "Islamic terrorist," and he set the standard which Islamists follow to this day.
    We ignore this at our peril.

    Which rather neatly leads us into JayG's 9/11 post for today and he says, "That we didn't turn their training camp into 50,000° orange glass will someday be viewed as the biggest mistake we made in the 'war' on terror."

    It wasn't a war on terror; it was a war on some terror. We went after Al Qaeda and (temporarily) disrupted their organization, but we didn't go after the people who fund and support them because that would have meant going after Syria and Saudi Arabia and a whole bunch of other miserable savages, people we only kiss up to because they have oil. (And we have to do that because the United States has not had an energy policy for forty years and counting.)

    We didn't prosecute the war to win it; we fought that war mainly to keep islamic terror focused on the middle east rather than having them come here. It was fought to stave off another 9/11 rather than to prevent one. And we might as well have not bothered, because ISIS is looking at using our porous southern border against us. For crying out loud, why wouldn't they? Here's a way to get people inside the US without having to do anything more complicated than walk across some desert, and they can carry whatever the hell they want to in the process. Five kilograms of U-235 wrapped in ten kilograms of lead--that's 33 lbs, a load any reasonably fit man could carry in a decent backpack. Two guys carrying the fissionables, two or three guys carrying the tamper (depleted uranium, of course, in sections)--a single 10-man squad could carry the components of a nuclear bomb across the border and we'd never know until one of our cities went FOOM.

    ISIS knows they can cross the border with impunity because we are allowing Mexicans to do it.

    Meanwhile, letting unescorted Mexican children come to the US and letting them stay and mix with the general population may have had a downside but of course our self-styled betters in D.C. don't care about a few prole children.

    What will the answer to this problem be? It won't be closing the f-ing border, that's for sure. Instead it'll be The Number of the Beast. I will not--I WILL NOT--allow my biometric data to be used for anything like this, especially not identification or banking or even access to my f-ing cell phone. They're going to have to strap me down and sedate me if they want to implant any such crap in my body against my will, but I will not choose it.

    And that's really all I have to say about this.
    Wednesday, September 10th, 2014
    4:11 pm
    #4374: AHH HA HA HA HA HA
    John C. Wright spins an epic tale that anyone who ever played an RPG with a pickup group can relate to.

    "...[T]he moral of the story is this: in roleplaying games in general, and in games like the type I run in particular, IQ goes down as firepower goes up."

    Wright seems to have a flair for combining widely disparate fantastic elements into a coherent whole.

    * * *

    From the humorous to the sobering: there is no economic recovery for most of the country.

    Astrophysicists say that we can observe only 10% of the universe, that the rest is invisible. Apparently the coastal elites only see 10% of the people of the country.

    Teriffic: the average American is dark matter to the elites. Well, that's not terribly surprising, is it?

    * * *

    The goulash has only been going for a couple of hours, but it already smells heavenly. The biggest problem with making a pot of goulash is waiting for it to be done.

    *sigh*
    1:16 pm
    #4373: "You need the ball!"
    Before I woke up this morning I spent an inordinate amount of time wandering around a gaming convention at about 3 AM trying to find "the Ball" while my character got chewed on by skeletons.

    There was this diorama, see, and my character was a figurine which I placed in it, and--

    No, you know what? It's too confusing, even to me. The point is, my character was just standing there, doing nothing, and while combat hadn't started yet it was going to do so soon, and the owner of the diorama told me that I needed the ball to control my character, and he didn't know where it was. So I began running around trying to find the ball, and of course no one that I talked to had seen it recently, and it was a big convention.

    I'd never heard of it before, of course, but when he mentioned it I immediately knew what he was talking about: a black stress ball, about 2" in diameter, like the one on my desk. If I had that, my character would then unleash the fury and flatten all the skeletons that were about to chew on him, but I didn't have much time.

    *sigh*

    No, I don't get it. File it under "chronic anxiety" and walk away, that's my plan.

    * * *

    I had a moderate stack of tabs open, but I closed them, because it was SSDD.

    And then in the "this is the first I've heard of this shit" department:

    Western Digital fills hard drives with helium and they can store more data.

    It's very, very hard to seal helium into anything. The problem is that as a noble gas the helium molecule consists of a single, very small atom. It's the size of a hydrogen atom--one electron shell, two protons, two neutrons--and on that scale just about everything is porous.

    It's why a rubber balloon, filled with helium, goes flat overnight. The instant you fill the thing, helium begins escaping through nanoscopic pores in the latex.

    You can keep helium in a gas bottle pretty much indefinitely because metal doesn't have pores like that, but even then you must take steps to keep it from escaping past the valve body. Anywhere you have two parts joined together they must be sealed very well. Until now, apparently, it wasn't possible to seal a hard drive enclosure helium-tight.

    The entire principle that lets hard drives work requires an atmosphere: the drive heads float over the disk, which is why they can spin at 7,200 RPM and not burn the heads up or grind the magnetic coating right off the metal. (Or glass, in some cases.) This means you cannot simply evacuate the housing; there must be some kind of atmosphere in it.

    Apparently using helium instead of air lets them cram more platters into the same space.

    *

    Here's an interesting statistic from that link: hard drive data densities are at about 625 gigabits per square inch, which is roughly 78 gigabytes per square inch.

    *

    This article takes the trouble to explain why helium leads to higher platter density and it's clearly written by someone who knows what he's talking about. (The other link was written by a journalism major and "borrows" heavily from Western Digital's press release.)

    Anyway, this is a thing for data centers, not really for the average person. These drives are going to be spendy.

    Still--a 10 TB drive, used once a month for making a total image backup of one's computer--that might be worth something, no?

    * * *

    As stated previously I got all the grass cut last night, though it was at the point that I was debating the utility of turning on the tractor lights. Every other lap around the east 40--having cut the front and back first--I tried the lights and saw no real improvement over ambient light. This didn't really change before I was finished.

    I've never had to cut the grass with the lights on. Usually I schedule myself better than I did yesterday, but it was still fairly light out when I was finished. It takes perhaps an hour to cut the grass and I started around 6:30, and with dusk coming around 7:30 I had to move my butt. I wouldn't have made it if I hadn't been able to cut the east 40 with the tractor in 4th gear (3rd is normal cutting speed) but I figure that 4th gear moves the thing about as fast as a "mexican jet ski", and it does get the grass cut. The east 40 does not need to look like a golf course, anyway; it's a vacant lot, so WTF? As long as it's kept up, who cares?

    Yesterday was "out and about" day for Mrs. Fungus and I, but we got just about everything done that we wanted to do...and we have no plans at all for today beyond "sleep in and eat goulash".

    ...so I ought to get off the computer and get the goulash going in the crock pot.
    Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
    9:11 pm
    #5372: The knee of the asymptote
    According to WHO figures, which only count reported cases (obviously), the ebola outbreak has reached the tipping point. If it's a true exponential expansion, then the number of cases should double in 1.5 weeks since it took about 3 weeks for the last doubling.

    Hope that it's not, because a true exponential progression will mean very, very bad things.

    * * *

    Adult incontinence products are also going asymptotic.

    * * *

    Social scientists have determined that conservatives are stupid because they asked drunk and/or distracted people poltical questions and got mostly conservative answers.

    ...except that they did not take any control data (such as asking the same questions of the same people when they were sober/paying attention) which naturally relegates this study to the approximate status of horseshit.

    * * *

    "...[I]s there a franchise in which the movie adaption got the story right?" The answer to that question is NO.

    Lord of the Rings was probably the best screen adaptation of a novel (or series thereof) because it stayed very, very true to the source material...but it still played games with the canon, because a truly faithful adaptation would have taken sixteen or eighteen hours to tell (rather than twelve) and that's simply too long.
    Authors, screenwriters, and Hollywood powers that be, they don’t understand stories anymore. They’ve forgotten how to write them. They often start with a good premise, but then bend the story to be relevant to what they suppose a modern audience wants or to tell a modern morality tale as they believe morality to be.
    Hollywood has taken to writing movies to a specific formula, and it revolves around pacing and emotional tension.

    Quoth that last link: "If you look close enough, you will find [the formula]’s beats in the exact order, and almost by the minute, in virtually every major movie release in theaters today."

    "It can make writing easier," the article concludes, "but conversely, it can also stifle creativity."

    Do tell.

    * * *

    An aide to Attorney General Eric Holder accidentally calls the wrong Congresscritter for help in spinning the IRS political attack scandal.

    Holder's aide wanted some documents leaked to the press so they could "answer" them, but instead of calling the correct Congresscritter, this idiot called the office of the Congressman who is conducting the investigation.

    But it won't end up making a difference in all this. No one's going to go to jail, or lose his job, over any of this.

    * * *

    Dinner tonight was originally supposed to be goulash, but Mrs. Fungus and I fell asleep after having the Hot Dogs of DOOM again. I don't know what it is about the hot dogs from that place that does it, but it puts us both into comas.

    "Excuse me, but what kind of barbiturates do you put in these things?"

    *sigh*

    Anyway, despite that, I got the grass cut, so it can rain like the Deluge tomorrow for all I care.
    3:31 pm
    #4371: The theme of the story
    Karl Denninger talks today about the decline of civilization.

    That's a theme of #RELEASE_CANDIDATE_ONE, one I was careful not to pound on while writing because I wanted the story to be entertaining rather than a polemic: that civilization is not just this big thing that sort of exists, but something that's made up of all the little things everyone does all the time...and it fails when people decide they can get away with not doing those little things.

    Denninger's list is hardly exhaustive, and he lists bigger things than the ones of which I am thinking, but it's all part of a spectrum.

    * * *

    People hate it when you do something that foils their plans for you. Democrats wanted to campaign on Republican opposition to their modification of the first amendment, but the GOP went ahead and agreed to consider the amendment. This does two things: it takes away the Democrats' ability to demagogue the issue, and it also takes up time they wanted to use to demagogue other issues in the runup to the elections in November.

    So here we have a case of the Democrat majority in the Senate being pissed off because something passed which their own leadership introduced and for which they all voted. Because the GOP didn't do what they were supposed to do and vote against it.

    So now the GOP can say, "Well, if you didn't want the damned thing to pass, why did you even bring it up?"

    * * *

    Ace on the "Apple watch".
    1. The company places a very high value on aesthetics, and there's no avoiding the fact that watches are generally understood to not merely be functional, but a form of jewelry. So maybe Apple can design a fake digital watch that you wouldn't be embarrassed to wear.

    2. Apple's customers are slavish idiots and will buy dog feces if Apple puts them in a unibody aluminum casing.
    Hey, this dog feces will work seamlessly with iTunes!!

    ...hate to break it to you guys, but iTunes doesn't work seamlessly with anything.

    The Apple Watch cannot, of course, have just any old watch band attached to it: "Apple will not just allow you to slap any watchband on their device. You must pledge your loyalty to the Apple Ecosystem." Because corporate fascism.

    * * *

    I hate to break it to you but we live in a country that's run by idiots.

    * * *

    I'm told that we're supposed to have epic rain tomorrow:
    Showers and thunderstorms in the morning...then showers likely and scattered thunderstorms early in the afternoon. Chance of showers late in the afternoon. Some thunderstorms may produce heavy rainfall in the morning. Some thunderstorms may produce heavy rainfall early in the afternoon. Breezy. Highs in the upper 70s. Southwest winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph. Chance of precipitation 100 percent.
    And there's a flash flood warning for tomorrow.

    I know this means I have to get the grass cut today. All my neighbors have cut their grass and it must be done. I will be doing it a little later in the afternoon.

    *sigh*
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