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Atomic Fungus
 
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Below are 20 journal entries, after skipping by the 20 most recent ones recorded in atomic_fungus' LiveJournal:

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Friday, February 2nd, 2018
8:21 pm
#6090: I knew I was right
Brickmuppet sums up why Colombia broke up on reentry in 2003:
[Astronaut Dr. Kalpana] Chawla was an engineer. She was one of the very best on the planet. As such, she understood that engineering does not care. Physics does not care if you have ladyparts. Metalurgy does not care how intersectional you are. The vacuum of space is unmoved by how much melanin you have. Radiation is unconcerned with your childhood trauma.

And foam insulation does not give a flying fuck that the reason some bureaucrats chose it over the type that the engineers recommended was because because they wanted to feel smug about choosing an environmentally friendly product instead of the one that wouldn't break off and damage the heat shield.
And he links here, where they lay it out explicitly that Colombia crashed because of CFC-free insulating foam.
In 1997, NASA bowed to environmental pressure from the EPA to change the chemical makeup of the foam used to coat the tank to exclude freon, a gas some have suggested led to ozone damage which was a major environmental point of contention in the 90's. The new foam did not stick to the tank and was quicker to fail under the extreme conditions of a rocket launch. In the first launch with the new foam formula, the shuttle orbiter sustained eleven times more damage from failing foam than in launches using the freon-laced coating.
Because the correct foam had CFCs in it, NASA stopped using it...and they lost a shuttle.

But of course being environmentally friendly is much more important than seven peoples' lives are, right?

And this, I did not know: NASA had a prior example of this stupidity.
It is widely known that the 1986 explosion of the Challenger shortly after lift off was the result of a faulty O-ring which allowed hot gases to escape from the solid rocket booster and pierce the skin of the external fuel tank. What is less well-known - according to the report cited above - is that the faulty O-ring was also a "replacement part".

For the Challenger's mission, NASA had been forced to stop using a putty used to insulate the O-rings from hot gases (which had worked during the first nine flights) because the manufacturer stopped using asbestos in the paste. The manufacturer had bowed to public pressure to stop using the flame-retarding material it had produced since the Second World War.

A researcher with 41 years of experience in the field noted that the U.S. military had similar back-to-back launch failures of the Titan rocket after replacing the asbestos putty. The asbestos putty was not only a better heat reducer, it remained consistent under the cold conditions that were the primary trigger for the failure of the Challenger's O-rings.
Forced to stop using the specified material, they substituted an inferior one that cost a bunch of lives and a two billion dollar spacecraft.

Because environmentalism.

ASSHOLES.

* * *

So, it turns out the FISA application was, to put it charitably, "flawed". It stinks, and what's more it stinks a lot.

The FBI broke a lot of rules to wiretap the Trump campaign.

Francis Porretto sums it up: "...the memo tells us that the FBI knowingly allowed itself to be used as a political instrument in the service of a political campaign."

A digest of the salient points including the funding of the dossier.

Quoth Representative Jim Jordan, on Twitter:
"FBI takes salacious and unverified dossier to secret court to get secret warrant to spy on a fellow American, and FBI doesn't tell the court that the DNC/Clinton campaign paid for that dossier.

And they did that FOUR times."
Understand how bad this is: the FBI lied to the court to get a warrant to wiretap someone. That's bad no matter who's doing it, and why, but they did this specifically to take down a candidate for President, making this a blatantly partisan political move.

This is, in Joe Biden's immortal words, a big fucking deal.

* * *

He's a Democrat Representative from Chicago. What do you think? Of course he has no shame.

* * *

Colin Kaepernick is an idiot.

* * *

I had never even heard of fluroantimonic acid before.... It's a mere ten quadrillion times stronger than pure sulfuric acid. Red fuming nitric acid is tap water by comparison!

* * *

Algebra and WoW, damn it. Maybe it'll be easy tonight.
Thursday, February 1st, 2018
8:13 pm
#6089: Illinois Democrats are desperate to push all business out of Illinois.
By putting a 20% tax "...in addition to all other taxes, on fees that are based on capital gains." If I understand that correctly, it means taxing fees collected by financial firms on stock trades etc where the client makes a profit. Or something:
Amends the Illinois Income Tax Act. Imposes a privilege tax on partnerships and S corporations engaged in the business of conducting investment management services. Provides that the tax shall be imposed at the rate of 20% of the fees calculated by reference to the performance of the investment portfolio funds and not from the investment itself. Defines "investment management services".
If I understand the shithead-ese there, my digest sounds about right: if you make $20,000 on your stock portfolio, and your brokerage charges a 1% fee against that profit, then that 1% is taxed at 20% in addition to any taxes already assessed.

Sure, for you, it's 20% of 1% of $20,000, which is $40...but if you consider all of the transactions your brokerage handles, I expect it comes to quite a sum, and that comes right out of your brokerage's back pocket.

As usual, Illinois Democrats are taking this attitude: "Ha ha, we have them right where we want them. After all, what are they going to do? Move?"

And that's exactly what they'll do.

* * *

Dick Durbin?
A recent example is illustrative: did President Trump refer to numerous countries as "shitholes?" The media certainly think so, and they have a confirmed source: Senator Dick Durbin. Is this believeable? Certainly. Is this probably true? With Trump, very much so. Is it likely the case? The Czar would say, all things being equal, yes.

But did it happen? The problem is that the only source of this story is Dick Durbin, who--if you know him--is a frequent liar. Plus, numerous people present at the alleged event concur—with some consistency—that the President said no such thing, and that Senator Durbin clearly heard something else.
I'm from that shithead's state. If Dick Durbin told me the sky was blue, I'd head outside with a Pantone set to check. Calling Dick Durbin a "frequent liar" is like saying the Sahara Desert is "kind of dry", for fuck's sake.

Of course, the other problem with this accusation is that the places Trump was allegedly talking about ARE INDEED SHITHOLES. That's what they are, and that's how a significant portion of America would describe them, and plenty of people are glad that we have a President who's not afraid to call a spade a spade. If it's walks and sounds like a duck, calling it a swan ain't gonna make it so, and plenty of people are sick and tired of being treated as if they're idiots who will buy any horseshit spewed by these asshats.

* * *

BECAUSE SHUT UP, THAT'S WHY, YOU NAZI

* * *

Today was perhaps the busiest day I've had at this job. It was hectic until about 1 PM, when things slowed down to merely busy, and finally about 5:30 PM things slowed down.

Usually we have no Priority 1 tickets going in after about 3:30, but today I put one in at 6 PM. And we had a ton of quantity errors to deal with, too.

...but it was still better than the best three days I ever had at my last two jobs combined.

* * *

They're predicting about 6-8 inches of snow from Sunday through Tuesday. As usual, I'll believe it when I see it.
Wednesday, January 31st, 2018
1:40 pm
#6088: Maybe if you idiots paid attention to reality
But they can't, because reality so often proves them wrong.

Kim du Toit nails it on the head.
"So you're not going to lower your prices in your city stores?"
"No. If we do, we'll have to close the stores because they won't be profitable."
"But what am I going to tell my people?"
"Tell 'your people' to stop stealing from our stores."
Emphasis mine, and it really is that simple. Inner-city people complain about prices being higher, but they're higher because they have to be. The more stuff disappears, the higher the prices will go. And that's without considering that taxation is usually higher in big cities, too, and the costs for security are higher as well.

It's not racism; it's reality. Get used to it, pinheads.

* * *

"Oh, gee, what a fuckin' surprise" department: communist dictator "delays" stepping down because of an "emergency". Uh huh. That friggin' crap is older than the Roman Empire, for shit's sake.

* * *

Here is what happens when you try to beat a train. Okay? What happens is that you end up in a wreck and people get seriously injured, maybe killed.

99 times out of 100, when there is a collision between a train and another vehicle, it is the driver of the other vehicle who is at fault. There are some circumstances where the crossing signal may malfunction, or something else may go wrong, but they are rare.

If the lights are flashing and the gate is coming down, stop. Whatever you need to do on the other side of the tracks will wait. Cripes, it was an Amtrak train. By definition those things are short. Learn to tell the difference and don't ever try to beat any train.

* * *

As usual, the addicts can get as much as they want, while the law-abiding people who need it cannot. My wife is suffering from foot pain again--took the day off to go to the doctor for it after being up half the night moaning in pain. Can she get twenty tabs of Vicodin? Oh, no! No, because opioid dependence epidemic and government prescription guidelines and-and-and.

...but the people who actually abuse the shit, addicts who take it solely to get high and not because they'd like to be able to go to work or JUST GET SOME FUCKING SLEEP, those people can get twenty tablets of Vicodin a day.

The war on (some) drugs is such a massive failure I simply cannot even any longer.

* * *

That's because there really isn't a lot of profit in resistors. I'm not kidding; they sell for pennies and you need to make a lot of them for it to be worthwhile. I can't blame a company for getting out of the business and seeking more profitable products to produce.

We're not going to run out of resistors, though. Someone will continue supplying them.

* * *

Mrs. Fungus wanted to watch some stuff on Amazon Prime, so we're trying it out. That and Hulu. We might end up ditching our cable subscription entirely and just pay for Internet; we'll see. But!

I've been watching The Man In The High Castle, and so far it's been pretty good, but for one thing. Spoilers ahead.

In one episode, a bounty hunter who calls himself "The Marshal" is after Juliana and Jack. He chases Juliana into a disused warehouse, and just as he's about to blow her away with his shotgun, Jack clubs him over the head. They run away.

I was yelling at the TV set: "TAKE HIS GUN AND SHOOT HIM WITH IT!" I mean, for fuck's sake: they're in a demilitarized zone where there is no real legal authority, which is why the Marshal can lurch around and hang corpses from streetlights and cut off fingers and stuff. And not to put too fine a point on it but this asshole was just shooting at you three minutes ago. You know he is out to kill you. You know he will kill you given the chance. You know he's not going to stop trying to kill you if you let him live. For fuck's sake, shoot him dead while you have the chance.

There was no logical reason for them to spare the Marshal's life that I can see. Jack has already shown himself to be a cold-blooded killer, having shot a Nazi soldier in his escape from a raid on the resistance cell he joined. (When, SPOILER, Jack is a Nazi spy himself, proving that Nazis will kill their own just as readily as they'll kill anyone else.) There's no sheriff or police or any law enforcement in the town where all this happens. Certainly no one says to the Marshall that he has to stop waving around his shotgun; and the douchebag threatens to kill someone three times before breakfast.

*sigh*

The country looks awful intact. San Francisco doesn't look like it was invaded or anything. What, the Nazis hydrogen-bombed DC and the US just gave up? The history of the Axis victory isn't very well explained here. Obviously the Nazis got the a-bomb first in this version of history, so I guess that's what happened: they erased D.C. and maybe a couple of other cities on the east coast, and that convinced the US to surrender.

Well, it's a good story, anyway.

* * *

Up too early on my day off to take my wife to the doctor--I'm going back to bed now.
4:34 am
#6087: Relics from the 1980s
Tuesday I read an article about a shop in Germany (I think it was Germany) which was still using a Commodore 64. They make driveshafts there, and the 64 runs their balancing cell. The article mentioned that the 64 cost $600 at introduction, which was something like $1200 in 2016 money.

So, in 2016 dollars, my C64 and floppy drive--bought after the price for each of them dropped to $200--cost about $990. Of course the C64 was the most powerful home computer you could buy at the time, especially at that kind of price.

The IBM PC was available, but it didn't have the graphics or the sound that the 64 had, and it cost a stunning $3980 in 2016 dollars before you started adding any options at all. That was a 16k computer with a cassette drive.

64k, one floppy, and a monochrome monitor bumped that price to $7500 in 2016 dollars.

* * *

So, I've gathered that IT is supposed to be Stephen King's magnum opus. When people talk about his books IT always seems to be the main recommendation. Having seen the 2017 movie, Mrs. Fungus ordered a copy, and I was dismayed to see this concrete cinder block of a book land in my lap. It weighs in at 1155 pages; the one she bought is trade paperback size with medium print, which probably bumped the page count. Still--that's a long book.

I am not very far into it--176 pages--but so far, it is some of the most boring drivel I've ever had the misfortune to read.

There's no suspense at all. I don't care about any of the characters. So far the most interesting scene was the one where Beverly left her abusive husband, and King managed to make even that scene tedious. The scene where Stuttering Bill left his wife to return to Derry was so flat dead boring I paged past it.

Not only does the text lay there like overcooked pasta, but in this book King is using a bunch of sophomoric tricks, like when Stuttering Bill remembers how he became Famous Horror Author in present tense. Only it's not consistently present tense because past-tense verbs keep popping up, making the whole thing a confusing mess. He splits sentences across chapters, too, for reasons which elude me.

The thing is, I've read other works by King. I really enjoyed Christine, enough that I've read it multiple times. I enjoyed The Shining and Cujo and several others besides; those were well-crafted, interesting stories. So I know he can do it; he just didn't in this case.

IT reeks of being the book he could write because he's Stephen King, New York Times best-selling author of [insert book title], [insert book title], and [insert book title]. So IT hits the shelves in all its unedited glory.

*sigh*

I'm going to keep on forging ahead. 176 pages is a smidge more than 10%; I'll give up at 25% if it doesn't get any better--25% of 1155 is about 290 pages; call it 300 for good measure--but I am not optimistic. I don't expect it to.

170 pages is a long time to take for exposition, and it's a bad idea to dump it all at the beginning of the story. King used the "going back to Derry" sequence to introduce us to the characters; having passed that, we're now to the point that Mike Hanlon has taken over the narrative in first person. I suppose that's the real start of the story, but so far it's not any more interesting than the rest of it: page after page after page about his research into Derry's past.

Meh.

* * *

It's windy tonight; and having fallen awake at 3 AM I am sitting here writing and listening to the wind blow.

I used to lay in bed and listen to the wind blow through the trees in the night. My old bedroom is chilly in winter, and in the chill dark I'd lay there, snug in bed, listening to the sound the wind made, eventually falling asleep. Then I could not imagine what the world would be like now; and now I can scarcely remember what the world was like then.

I don't think it was any simpler then. Certainly when I consider how things were, it doesn't seem simple even with the perspective of a middle-aged man. My problems were different, not fewer.

The wind certainly doesn't notice.

* * *

Wanting to resurrect my C-64, I looked on-line at Fry's web site to see what a DIN 8 connector would cost. To hook the C-64 to a modern monitor, I need to use the thing's A/V connector, and that takes a DIN 8 plug.

Best solution is to sacrifice an S-video cable and wire it to the luma and chroma pins. (The C-64 had S-video output before it was called that.) Then I can plug that into my DVD recorder's S-video input; the DVD recorder has an HDMI output, and that will drive an LCD monitor just fine.

To my surprise, the plug was both in stock and cheap--$0.80--but I decided against making the trip over there and buying one. It was Saturday and I was at work, so it would have been only a little bit out of my way, but I may already have the right cable for the job here. Besides, I need to make sure it works before I start getting fancy.

...though I have to wonder if the old black-and-white TV, which I retained specifically to use with the 64, still works. Guess I'll find out, eventually.
Tuesday, January 30th, 2018
8:43 pm
#6086: Only because of how the leftist press reported it.
The Tet Offensive in Vietnam happened 50 years ago today. And according to the headline, it "...shattered Americans' confidence in Vietnam War".

Even though we won the battle.

That's right: it was a serious blow to the communist effort in Vietnam; like the Battle of the Bulge in WW2 it was a last ditch effort that failed. The Tet Offensive cost our side about 3,000 dead and 12,000 wounded, but the communists suffered 45,000 dead by August 1969.

...and Walter Cronkite, that old socialist, got up in front of the cameras and gravely intoned about how awful a defeat it was for the United States.

That is what shattered Americans' confidence in the war. Not a three-month battle which our side won, hands down; it was the American press lying about it that did it.

Fake news, 1969 version.

* * *

You might be living in a shithole if.... Heh.

* * *

"I consider myself a liberal, but..." Nope. You don't get to complain about your 6-year-old son being forced into transgender counseling and start a sentence like that. This is what you fight for, this is what you advocate, this is what you support--so enjoy it. Good and hard.

* * *

Lunar Eclipse tomorrow morning! I won't be awake for it. It's just before sunrise, which is at about 7 AM--and tomorrow's my day off, so, no.
Monday, January 29th, 2018
8:15 pm
#6085: Oh, the Grammies were on the other night.
And no one cares. LOL: "...featuring Jay-Z lip-syncing to synchronized pelvic thrusts by an unattractive woman with oversized buttocks and an expression that says 'something smells really bad in here.'" $5 says it's the oversized butts.

No one cares at all. The so-called "'music' industry" has been producing shit by untalented hacks, and the Grammy Awards are just a circle-jerk where the biggest sellers get pats on the back for selling so well.

100% horseshit.

* * *

Three political images.

Can't argue with this one.

Was Trump referring to Illinois?

Because Nixon was not a Democrat. That's why it was illegal for Nixon to wiretap Democrats but it was not illegal for Obama to wiretap Trump.

* * *

The other night Mrs. Fungus was watching a video wherein these complete idiots wasted $1,000.

"What happens if you pour Coke in your gas tank?" Was the question.

My immediate answer: "You fuck up your car, that's what."

They took a car--for which they'd paid a thousand dollars--and poured most of a 2-liter of Coke into its gas tank, then took it for a drive, which ended approximately as you'd expect it to: with a tow truck.

Of course the mechanic they took it to said it'd be thousands of dollars to fix the car, more than it was worth.

FUCKIN' IDIOTS.

* * *

Today I had enough work for most of the day, and it was only after about 5 PM that things slowed to a crawl. That's absolutely 100% fine with me.

On my way to work I realized that I had not, after all, gassed up yesterday, so I was heading in with a bit less than a quarter tank. But I made it there, and stopped on my way home and put enough in to get me home, plus enough to get me there and back again tomorrow. Wednesday is payday and I can fill up then.

Bills, however, are paid, which makes me happy. And I still have enough money left for lunch tomorrow.
Sunday, January 28th, 2018
12:25 pm
#6084: All I could come up with was a lame pun, so never mind
Diseases can evade the immune system by hiding in testicles. Isn't that a hoot?

Have to wonder if the same is true for ovaries.

* * *

THIS.
Somewhere over the last few days a wise person wrote that "if only the rich and powerful could grasp the notion that the rest of the citizenry does not envy them," does not wish to live in their mansions, to drive their cars, or to send their children to the prestigious private schools to which they send their children. If our wealthy elites could get over their superiority complex and accept that most of us do not envy them, they might be better citizens, more respectful of the rest of us, better leaders. Illustrious schools may give those children of the rich and powerful a leg up but they do not guarantee happiness, kindness to others, or generosity of spirit. Their inherited wealth does not guarantee they will be good spouses or parents. It is more likely that the children of the very rich often lack the character of their ancestors who actually worked very hard to make the money on which they live so well today.
Exactly. Exactly.

Every day I drive through a neighborhood full of mansions. I'm talking big houses, often with multiple garages in back with circular driveways in front. The first floor of these houses would fit two of the bunker in them, easily, and they're 3 stories high. And I look at them and think, "What's the point?"

What is the point to owning a house like that? Personal example: my brother's sister-in-law married a guy who is a lobbyist here in IL. Shortly after they were married, they moved into a house like one of those, a place with forty rooms. A mansion. (Not in the area I drive through. Further north.)

Oh, I know what the answer is, and it's stupid. He needs to have the big house for political reasons, as evidence that he's big and powerful and successful, because his clients pay him to convince legislators to vote their way. It's ostentation, pure and simple--a status symbol. This man, a member of the elite, owns that house because he needs to show other members of the elite that he's one of them. So he can throw huge parties, like the Christmas party I was once invited to at that address (and demurred, because I like Christmas to be fun, and hobnobbing with 120 people I don't know is not my idea of fun).

And that's it.

There's no other purpose to it. Certainly it's not necessary to house his family (him, his wife, two kids) and the costs of owning such a property must be outrageous. What does it cost to air condition a 40-room house?

It's nothing but vanity and veneer. It's not worth anything, not anything that matters; sure, you live comfortably, but when it's time for you to be put in the ground, what does it get you?

I don't know. Something happened to me along the way; when I was a kid I dreamed about having a big house and fancy cars and the other things we're all supposed to want, you know, but as I got older I stopped caring about that. Oh, I never expected to be wealthy, but adolescent fantasies are what they are, and ultimately they're harmless...but as I grew up I guess I came to understand that all those things, they're just ephemeral nonsense. Someday we must meet our maker, and He doesn't care how your portfolio performed last quarter, if you know what I mean. He cares about other things...and those, ultimately, are the things which really matter.

And so I look at these big houses--one of them even has crenellations and windows designed to look like those of a castle--and I shake my head sadly. Not because I'll never own a house like that, but because ultimately they're really only monuments to ego.

* * *

...and the regular houses in the neighborhood, almost without fail they're all for sale. All of them. Probably because the mansions in the neighborhood have raised property values so much that the ordinary people can no longer afford to live there because of the stinkinous-high property taxes.

* * *

Talk about bringing a gnat to a gun fight.

Tower of intellect Jay Z said, of Trump--I believe of Trump's alleged "shithole" comment, "It is disappointing and it's hurtful. It really is hurtful, more than so...everyone feels anger but after the anger, it's real hurtful."

Um. Righto, chum. Perfect. Let's put that on the Democrat bumper stickers for 2020, shall we? "TRUMP: HE'S REAL HURTFUL".

Tell you what, dude: you stick to the craptastic, synopated doggeral you spew and let the adults deal with the larger issues, okay?

* * *

The answer, of course, is that the Democrats simply don't have enough money to make their policies work. If they could only raise all taxes to 90% then they might have enough money to fund everything to a functional level. But because people are such beknighted idiots, selfish Jesus-loving rednecks, this is what you get.

* * *

I had an idea like this recently. My idea requires a different kind of technical wizardry, though.

See: the C-1541 Disk Drive is an intelligent peripheral. Unlike most floppy drives of the day, instead of having a seperate contol board that plugged into the computer's motherboard, the 1541 was entirely self-contained, and the only connected needed between it and the computer was a serial connection.

Interestingly enough, that's how we do things now, too. A modern SATA hard drive has an integrated controller which is essentially a computer, and the CPU of your system communicates with that sub-computer via serial cable. And external USB drives are the same thing. Commodore was ahead of the curve on that one.

Anyway, the 1541 is a self-contained unit, with a processor, ROM, and memory, and it has a serial bus to communicate with the outside world. It occurred to me that anyone who had reasonably good 6502 assembly programming chops could write an OS for the thing that would turn it into a computer.

Granted, you would have to build an interface to convert the Commodore Serial Bus to RS-232, and then connect that to a terminal, and you'd have to burn your own EPROM to contain that OS--still, the 1541 has everything you need, albeit not much, not even by 1980s standards (2K of RAM, for example) but it could be done.

Useful? No, not really. But a cute project, if that's your thing. It's not mine; I stink at assembly coding.

* * *

Watched a runthrough of Ultima V which took 36 minutes. Most of the time spent was on getting the three shards (Cowardice, Hatred, and Falsehood) which you need to defeat the three Shadowlords. Otherwise the guy basically took a bunch of first-level characters into the final dungeon, walked away or tricked his way out of fighting monsters, and bam-bam-bam won the game.

It helps to know where all the useful free stuff is, and to know the solution of the game. Most of the time you spend playing the game is amassing what you need to win it, and that takes gold, which you get by killing monsters.

I never knew that you could leave combat without penalty. The game strongly implies that you need to defeat monsters--that you are penalized for not doing so--but in fact nothing happens to you if you leave a combat. Interesting.

U5 was one of five of those games that I beat. I beat U2 and U3 with help from friends; I beat U5 and U6 with the help of cluebooks; and I beat U9. The others?

U1--that happened at a time when I had a lot on my plate, so it fell by the wayside. U4 was too much of a slog and I lost interest long before completing it, because you had to become a paragon; this game, "Quest of the Avatar", was all about these eight virtues, and I simply could not figure out how to get a couple of them high enough to win the game. And once you raised all of your eight virtures to their pinnacle you still had a multi-hour slog through the final dungeon, and if you made a single mistake--start over. When U5 came out, it was a good, compact game by comparison, and I really enjoyed it.

U6--I forgot all about U6, but I recall winning it, and it was also pretty good.

U7 was a buggy nightmare. First off, it would only barely run on my CGA NEC MultiSync; on the C-64 it wasn't all that good, but while the DOS version would run on an XT, it required a 286, and a 386 with VGA was ideal.

But when I was finally able to play it, I found it entertaining enough, and was enjoying it, until one day I fired it up and went to play and found that half my inventory was missing.

There was a problem with the game, Origin tech support said, that caused that to happen sometimes. Their remedy was to send me a floppy with a "supercharacter" on it, who had everything needed to win the game, with all flags set so you could just go to the endgame and do it--but I had been interested in the story, and lost interest in playing when I realized I couldn't just pick up where I'd left off.

U7 was split into two parts, and the second part--Serpent Isle--didn't end up being any better. As I recall I ran into something I couldn't get past, and gave up in frustration because again--at the time--I had a lot on my plate.

U8 I got later on, after its release. I think I was living in Iowa before I got Pagan; I can't remember--but what I do remember is, again, running into something that I simply couldn't get past. In this case it was a quest where the Avatar had to do something, then jump off a cliff. I got sick and tired of dying over and over and over again, and gave up.

U9, the last one--it had its faults but at least it didn't screw up my savegame or cause other problems, and I won it.

One of the things I liked about the Ultima series was the music. I'm a bit annoyed that I can't get the music for U9; I bought the big "collector's edition" when it came out but the included soundtrack disk didn't include all the music, and naturally the song from the game that I liked best is not on it. And since it was programmed before MP3 was really a thing, the music isn't stored in any kind of usable format. Someone wrote a DOS utility to extract the music from the game, but the output of that program is full of noise.

...so it was neat to see U5 won in about half an hour.

* * *

Today is Sunday. I've got a couple of chores, but I'm not going to do them right this instant.
Saturday, January 27th, 2018
11:09 pm
#6083: I guess Saturdays just tend towards the slow side.
Please do not get the idea that I'm complaining about it, either.

Blew through my queue of e-mails in twelve minutes, after which I sat.

Handled thirteen e-mails and six calls. Once call was printer sounds--"Interesting way to try to fax something," I said after greeting this a few times. One call was some woman who thought she was calling her neighborhood store and had the wrong number (I don't handle consumer calls) and rang off.

Dead slow.

...so I read KoDT and watched YouTube all day, and got paid for it.

"They also serve, who only stand and wait." If the shit hit the fan at one of our distribution centers they'd need me there, and I'd be busier than a one-armed paper hanger. Shit does not often hit the fan, but when it does, it costs a lot of money not to fix it, and the process requires someone in Corporate to coordinate. I essentially act, in those circumstances, as a facilitator, an interface between the Level 2 and Level 3 guys and the end users. And if the shit goes bad across multiple distribution centers--yeah.

Had one issue last week where an error cropped up in one of the applications the whole company uses, and it was stopping work at the distribution centers. I didn't find the fix, but I made sure the end users who reported the error were advised of the workaround. That kind of thing is why they pay me to sit there on Saturday afternoon and read comic books. Doing that is cheaper--a hell of a lot cheaper!--than leaving a DC (even a part of it) at a standstill until Monday.

* * *

Anyone who's had anything to do with accounting knows about SAP. It's probably the big a-number-one package for order tracking etc. Its user interface is a nightmare, of course. But this job is giving me experience with it, a nicely portable skill.

Checking a lot of boxes with this one: SAP, Active Directory, AS/400 sysadmin, Accounts Payable, and a host of IT functions to boot.

Loving every minute of it, too.

* * *

Let me remind you that by any reasonable metric Chicago is a shithole. 88% of murders in 2017, unsolved. Perhaps that's why there are so many of them happening there.

* * *

Shitholes!

* * *

Where are the handcuffs? This woman has just admitted to committing vote fraud. Arrest her.

* * *

The kid is probably adopted because she'd rather die than have sex with that scalzied manboob. Not that she's anything to write home about, either.

* * *

Watched videos where a guy fixed various Commodore computers. Interesting bit--a quad multiplexer in a C64 caused the screen text to be wonky, because that mux was part of the system that addressed the character ROM.

And this is neat. Basically you look up what your C64's screen looks like, and it tells you what the probable cause is.

I'm hoping, tomorrow, to dig out the 64 and see if the old thing still fires up.

...after I change the oil in my wife's car and put her new plate sticker on. Such a stimulating life I lead.
Friday, January 26th, 2018
8:28 pm
#6082: The theme of my books
If you look at the SF universe that I'm writing Apocalyptic Visions in, you find that its overarching theme--something I did not intend, at least not originally--is that eternal life here would be a mistake.

There's a race of beings who embarked on becoming immortal, succeeded in doing so...and immediately realized they'd made a tragic, monumental error. Their existence informs much of the "large questions of existence" in that world.

The first comment here sums it up nicely. It's something I've touched on here, before; and actually there are two comments.

The first:
Living forever in this plane seems like as good a description of hell as any.


The second:
Living forever as we are would be a form of infernal arrested development; like caterpillar grubs never to fly as beautiful butterflies, the only way of ever fullfiling their true destiny!
There's a bit of writing I did which sums up the events which precede those of AV by about 60 or 70 years or so, in which one of these now-eternal beings sums it up:
We live in the universe of the dead.

All things in this universe--save ourselves--die eventually. This is how the universe is made. A lifeform is born; it lives a life, however long or short, and eventually it dies and is consumed. For animals the process is complete. But for sentients, there is another step. Any creature which is aware, aware that it is aware, and can conceive of its own ending, does not have one. This is the fundamental irony of existence. When each of you dies--and you know as well as we do that this is inevitable--your body will cease to function and become food for lower life forms, its job complete. Your soul, however, will journey to a place we cannot go. Death is not the end; it is merely the end of the beginning. One of your artists observed that death was the chrysalis of the soul.

Thinking death was a journey to blackness, we rejected it. And now we must forever pay the price. Forever.
Living forever keeps you apart from God. Who would want that? Only someone who has already rejected Him.

* * *

I will eat nearly anything, but not this. No. No no no no no.

Three alleged foods I won't eat:

1) Balut
2) Raw oysters
3) Uni Shooter

...the rest of the universe is fair game.

* * *

Well, he identifies as a 9-year-old, so we can't put him in jail for molesting little girls. I'm sorry, but that's the long and the short of it. If you must acknowledge that Bruce "Caitlyn" Jenner is a woman, if you must acknowledge that Brad "Chelsea" Manning is a woman, if we must accept and agree with anyone who claims that he identifies as something he is clearly not--if "misgendering" is a heinous act of bigotry--then I'm afraid to say we cannot tell this man that he's not a 9-year-old, because we are mis-aging him.

If it's legal for a man to walk into a womens' bathroom because he identifies as female, why is it illegal for this man to have sex with underage girls? He is just as much a 9-year-old as Caitlyn Jenner is a woman, after all.

* * *

You have to love how shills for leftism claim that the failure of socialized education somehow proves that capitalism doesn't work.

* * *

Or, here's an idea: let New York pay for its own damned train station. This idea that the federal government needs to pay for state and municipal costs is stupid. Why should someone living in California or Texas or Wyoming or Hawaii have to pay to fix a train station in New York City? Why should someone in Utica or Buffalo even have to pay for it? It's a train station in NYC; it's NYC's problem.

Penn Station is falling apart because New York City isn't paying to maintain it. Why is it our problem? It's NYC's problem. Let the voters and taxpayers in NYC pay for it, the same ones who elected the shitheads who aren't keeping up the current infrastructure.

The article goes on to complain about how Amtrak is "perennialy underfunded". Amtrak is a waste of money. There's no economic need for intercity rail, which is why it would have disappeared had the government not created Amtrak. And Amtrak has never--not once, not ever, not even a little bit--made a profit. It can't, because the price of an airline ticket puts an upper limit on what Amtrak can charge, and planes are much faster to boot.

Funny, isn't it, how the answer is always "Let the taxpayers pay for it"?

Fuck that noise.

* * *

Well, Mrs. Fungus is home. I'm going to heat up some dinner and help her with Algebra now.
Thursday, January 25th, 2018
10:31 pm
#6081: KoDT in the light of 2018's politics
I really do think that Jolly Blackburn is/was right-wing.

First off, there are little clues about it scattered around. One character, for example, flaked out and joined the Young Democrats. But what really got me thinking about this was the back-story around the issue where Dave runs Sara's character, Thorina, one night when Sara can't be there.

During the course of the story, Dave has Thorina drop all encumbrance--retaining only sword and shield--and because she's a barbarian who gets +5 to surprise rolls when unencumbered, she keeps blasting "barbarian surprise" on everything in the dungeon. The story ends with Thorina bravely spiking herself inside a room with some vast number of enemies, buying the rest of the group time to escape.

Sara is, needless to say, not happy about this when she comes back.

But the back story--

In the Bundle of Trouble that contains these issues, there's a footnote at the beginning of the story about how some asshat wrote in complaining that Dave had somehow "raped" Thorina. Stripping her nearly nude and getting the character killed, against Sara's wishes, somehow made that into rape.

Jolly Blackburn's answer was, essentially, "WTF are you talking about? I mean, WT actual F are you talking about?" No apology, no retraction, just 100% "You're a lunatic, and if you don't want to read KoDT, don't."

...which is the only way to deal with an SJW, which that stupid bint was. Because Dave, playing Sara's character like the complete freaking lunatic he is, isn't even on the same continent as rape. The connection between Dave's role-playing and rape is so tenuous they could use it as a model for dark matter.

Idiots.

And Jolly handled it exactly right.

I say "lunatics" advisedly:
"Heteronormativity is rampant on this campus," complained Sophia Ahmed, one of the organizers of the "bleed-in" protest.

"Today I held a little protest for free menstrual protects. If you saw my butt that was evidence. And I say menstrual not feminine because menstruation should not be gendered. Some men get periods."
NO THEY DO NOT. Men do not get periods. Men don't have the equipment to get periods. If a man is bleeding from his nethers, it's either because he got stomped in the groin bad or he has epic fricking hemorrhoids. It's a biological fact, one that you people who "fucking love" science can't wish away: MEN DO NOT MENSTRUATE.

* * *

"W*A*L*T*E*R*"...? Egad.

I am beginning to think that Hollywood has never had any new ideas.

* * *

Shithole versus non-shithole. It's obvious.

* * *

A 4-foot sparkly ball in space. And they have a web site to tell you when it'll be over your house, so on a clear night you might be able to look up and see it. Cool.

Interestingly, it's in a polar, rather than equatorial, orbit. Polar orbits are harder to manage than equatorial ones.

* * *

A cellular-enabled USB cable. *sigh*

* * *

Today was not the best day. It was probably the least-good day I've had at this new job. But you know what? A bad day at this place beats every good day I ever had at the shithole, so I'm happy. And it was only bad, really, because I was feeling a bit blue this morning and I got an 85% on my most recent QA.

"It could be worse," in other words. Thankfully, it wasn't.
Wednesday, January 24th, 2018
3:50 pm
#6080: Is it really over now?
Borepatch comments on yet another article predicting the end of Moore's Law.

I'm not so sure about that. The predictions of the end of Moore's Law have come regularly every two or three years since I was in college, and at that time everyone had his panties in a bunch over 70 micron processes, which yields a feature size about 5,000 times bigger than the current standard of 14 nanometers. There's a reason you can buy a microcontroller for $40 which can be used as a basic desktop computer.

The article presents a compelling argument, but all the similar articles did, too, and they only really last until you start looking at them carefully. It's very expensive to carve silicon at 14 nm, yes. There are challenges to making it efficient, yes. The most recent foo-raw surrounding Meltdown and Spectre (overblown, IMHO) demonstrates that designers should be more careful about performance enhancements, yes.

"Wait just a damned minute," you say. "What do you mean, 'overblown'?"

I understand how the malware works; it's basically a statistical method of inferring cache contents by checking read times. It has the potential for causing trouble, because it does allow someone a back door into protected memory.

But no one has explained to me how that affects a desktop machine, even one connected to the Internet. Someone can read data off your computer--well, there are probably still half a million ways to do that, ways that are a lot less complex and technically finicky than Spectre and Meltdown are. As far as I've seen, the "proof of concept" programs haven't done much of anything significant; you show me a program based on either of those two bits of malware that causes a significant problem in real time and I'll change my mind.

...but back to Moore's Law.

The major stories surrounding CPUs tell the tale. We were told in 1992 that 70 microns was it, that going smaller was impossible and Moore's Law was over. We were told in 1998 that clock speeds higher than 4 GHz are problematic and Moore's Law was over. A few years after that, we were told that big multicore chips consumed too much power and Moore's Law was over. And on, and on, and on, with a dozen little stories in between, about process sizes and heat dissipation and quantum interference and-and-and.

And feature sizes kept getting smaller, and chips kept getting more powerful and more efficient the entire time, the better part of three decades since I started paying attention to it. What was said about the processes before 70 microns? What happened in 1990, 1989, 1988 that presaged the doom of Moore's Law? Was it the fact that chip designers could no longer lay out etch masks on huge sheets of acetate? Or was it something else?

The main reason that Meltdown and Spectre don't hail the end of Moore's Law, however, comes from the fact that the thing they exploit--speculative execution--has nothing to do with feature size. As has been noted elsewhere, speculative execution has been a feature of Pentium processors for twenty-three years. We can now fit about a hundred Pentium processors in the space of one from two decades ago.

I don't buy it. I mean, logically, at some point Moore's Law ought to end, because there is a practical limit to how small you can make a circuit--but we won't know where that end is until we hit it. Exactly the same way we learnd that you can't scale clock speeds to the heavens in an economically reasonable fashion (as intel learned with the Pentium 4, which had originally been meant to scale to 10 GHz) we'll find the end of Moore's Law abruptly and without warning. We'll try to make a chip that simply won't work, and the reason will be, "Going smaller than this is too expensive to be worthwhile" exactly as happened with the P4 and its 10 GHz clock speed.

And furthermore, the end of Moore's Law isn't the catastrophe these guys make it out to be, either. Moore's Law predicts a halving of feature size and/or a doubling of power every eighteen months. What if that cycle stretches to 24 or 36 months, or even longer? So what? It doesn't mean the end of progress; it merely means progress happens at a slower pace. It might be a good thing if programmers can't rely on Moore's Law to make up for bloated code; maybe a longer cycle would result in better software.

So, reports of the death of Moore's Law, greatly exaggerated, blah blah blah etcetera. Oh, well.

* * *

Only a Democrat could say something that friggin' stupid with a straight face. Yep, our immigration enforcement people are rounding up "law-abiding" illegal aliens, and it's a travesty.

Next up: complaining about the mistreatment of law-abiding drug smugglers.

* * *

So, on my day off, an ice storm.

Mrs. Fungus had to get up early today. I got up to hit the can, saw her scraping windows, and promptly hied myself outside to help her. The driveway was a skating rink.

She startled me by coming home again--"I forgot my phones"--but then set out again. I'm not sure how long it was--fifteen, twenty minutes--and she was back.

In that time, she'd gotten as far as the high school, then realized it was too slick to drive and came home again.

Mind you, the high school isn't that far from here--about a mile, maybe a bit more--and if it takes you that long to make that round trip, there is something wrong. Apparently it was all over the radio that the highways were a mess, and Mrs. Fungus had people from work calling and/or texting to tell her they'd be late, because traffic. One reported that she'd been sitting in traffic for two hours.

Yuck.

If I had been going to work today--if it were not my day off--I would have soldiered on and gotten to work however late--but this shit is ridiculous.

I'm not kidding. There's no reason for the roads to be like that, not for the thin crust of ice that had fallen. It wasn't even 1/16th of an inch, and there's a vast array of equipment we are very highly taxed to pay for that is designed to deal with it.

Where the hell were the salt trucks?

The kind of bad weather we've had this winter has been nothing compared to past years. Why are we driving on slush when it's snowing at the blistering rate of a quarter inch per hour? Why do the trucks not go out until after the precipitation has ceased? Why are the roads such a mess?

You want to know why? Illinois is broke, that's why.

* * *

I had intended, today, to scan at least some of the old artwork into the computer. With my resurgence in drawing, I've realized that not all the good stuff is computer-accessible, so I wanted to remedy that. But I guess it's not happening today, after all.
Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018
8:43 pm
#6079: All right, which one of you clowns--
I was having a gander at the N-scale set Mrs. Fungus got me for Christmas. Basically I was just fiddling with the boxcar, when suddenly I stepped on something hard and sharp on the floor.

...which turned out to be an N-scale wheelset.

WTF.

A little more looking and I found the truck it went to; and Mrs. Fungus called my attention to a black square of plastic on the family room floor: a simulated coal load.

*sigh*

Made an exhaustive search of the floors, nooks, and crannies, and turned up the caboose, less its cupola...which I found a few feet away. But no sign of the other car.

So here's what I have of the C&EI hopper car: one truck, and the load. Nothing else.

I can't even be mad about it. It's my fault I left that stuff where kittens could get at it, instead of putting it away.

But I can't find that hopper car. I'm pretty sure they didn't eat it, but where did it go?

Well, it'll turn up, eventually, I guess.

* * *

No, I'm not getting the fscking flu shot. This year's flu shot is 10% effective against a strain that's not going around this year.

Why do it?

* * *

Tuedsay was a day, let me tell you. The first hour and a half felt like three. I was busy the entire time, but then I looked at the clock and saw that it was only 11:30. WTF.

Plus side: a long, slow day at that place beats a short, quick day at the last job.

* * *

I really do wonder where that hopper car got off to. In any case, looks like I'm putting that train set away tonight.

(I did look under the stove, refrigerator, and dishwasher, with a flashlight. Not there.)
Monday, January 22nd, 2018
10:35 pm
#6078: It's just so CHARMING
Kimi ni Todoke volumes 11 and 12 arrived today. I read them in one sitting.

I forgot how good this series is. I'm hoping to complete it at the rate of 3 volumes per month.

* * *

It was decidedly Monday at work. It was a good day, but it was definitely Monday.

Tomorrow it'll be Tuesday; and Wednesday is my day off. Hopefully I can get something done.

I've been looking at interface boards which will allow a Windows machine to read C-64 diskettes. I'd like to get going on converting all the disks I have which are still readable, and storing them on a tiny little micro SD card. If all the C-64 disks I have are still readable, and I were to copy them all, in their entirety, to an SD card, it might...well, let's do the math.

I have something like 300 disks for the C-64, and at 170k each, that comes to a staggering...51 megabytes.

The smallest flash drive I have is 256 MB, and my entire C-64 collection would fit on it with 80% of its capacity to spare.

Ironically, it'll take a good long time to copy the data from the floppies to an SD card; but after that, copying will be lightning fast.

Heh.

I am getting a hankering to tinker with the old machines again, though. Maybe later this week.
Sunday, January 21st, 2018
7:02 pm
#6077: Quiet Sunday at home
We were up until 3 AM watching IT, and I slept until after 3 PM with only a couple of minor interruptions. I needed that sleep; I've felt like a zombie most of the week.

Going to have dinner and probably do nothing constructive for the rest of the night. There really is something to be said for the "day of rest" thing.

Warm outside--forties--but foggy, and I guess it's raining now, too. I don't mind the fog but it's a dreary day and I'd rather spend dreary days indoors when possible.

* * *

So, apparently there is an "orgy" in the novel IT. I'm kind of at a loss as to what kind of orgy you can have when six of the main characters are boys, and there's only one girl in the group, except--yuck. Unless the boys just take turns banging the girl, in which case it seems the "rumors" about her in the movie are correct after all. No wonder they're all such good friends. This scene is mercifully deleted from the movie.

Never having read the book, I suppose I can't really comment on it. Still, way to go, Stephen King.

* * *

Running out of the Knights of the Dinner Table "bundle of trouble" books. What they did was to collect three issues of the monthly together with a little bonus material and publish it as a "Bundle of Trouble", and there are some 50 of them. I have the first ten.

This is going to take a while.

Somewhere in the basement I have a huge stack of monthly issues of the series, though. Not sure which ones, but I know that I stopped buying BoTs when they caught up to where my monthly collection started. So I can continue reading the main story, at least, while I accrue more of the BoT volumes. Assuming I can find them.

* * *

Bah. Too relaxed to write more.
Saturday, January 20th, 2018
10:49 pm
#6076: Oh, they shut down the government?
Who noticed? Which is to say, who--out of all the people who are not dependent on it--noticed that the government shut down? I certainly did not.

* * *

The people responsible must go to jail. NSA was ordered to retain surveillance data. NSA deleted it. Whoever ordered that should be hauled away in handcuffs soonest. Period.

* * *

"That would be, in your words, 'a goddamned pity.'" Obscure quote from obscure novel The Omega Threat. It was meant sarcastically, and I mean it the same way in reaction to this headline: "Every Single One of Marvel’s GLAAD Award-Nominated Comics Has Been Cancelled".

* * *

Apparently this is day TWO of the shutdown. Again, I didn't notice.

* * *

Democrats and their voters. 100% true and accurate.

* * *

Sunday off. Feels almost like I had Saturday off; today I handled 15 contacts. Mostly I read Knights of the Dinner Table.

Mrs. Fungus and I went out and had conveyor sushi. When we got home I saw that volume 10 of Kimi ni Todoke had arrived. Just 10, not 11 or 12, which I ordered at the same time. WTF.

Oh well. Have to backtrack a bit and read probably 8 and 9 before I'll understand what's going on in 10, anyway.
Friday, January 19th, 2018
11:09 pm
#6075: Well, not bad at all
Short shrift because I had to help my wife with Algebra and that cut into my WoW time--

* * *

This is absolutely typical. California doesn't want to enforce immigration laws, so they're going to take legal action against people who help the federal government enforce immigration laws.

California's a shithole. Did you know it's got the highest proportion of poor people in the US?

* * *

Holy crap is this true. Life is far too short to spend it cleaning up after the toxic people in your life.

* * *

This game sounds like it would be a blast to play. I do still love RPGs even if I haven't played one in more than 14 years (excepting the occasional foray into them with my niece).

I've been rereading my Knights of the Dinner Table comics and laughing my ass off at them.

* * *

Friday night! Tomorrow is Saturday.

Work today was busy until 4-ish, at which point the inverse step function happened and I almost fell asleep at my desk. *sigh* But I am still loving this job, and loving it lots.

Tomorrow is Saturday, of course, and if it's anything like last Saturday, well--maybe I'll take a stack of those KoDT comics with me....
Thursday, January 18th, 2018
8:40 pm
#6074: Finding things
I found a way to use a PCI-E video card in El-Hazard!

It only costs $157, which is about as much as the computer cost. Whee!

No.

*

I have a Big Trak and I always wondered about the hardware. Turns out it's got a 4-bit microcontroller with 32 bytes of RAM and 512 bytes of ROM. (Since it's a 4-bit device, that translates to 64 and 1,024 locations, respectively...but a byte is 8 bits.)

It's an interesting look into the hardware of an early 1980s electronic toy.

* * *

If it's Chicago, Amazon is run by idiots. Illinois is a shithole.

* * *

Mrs. Fungus is out with her friend S, seeing Wicked, which I didn't want to see because I have an intense dislike for taking classic villains and turning them into protagonists.

...and what am I most likely to do on this night of baching it? Play WoW, of course. Whee!
Wednesday, January 17th, 2018
6:48 pm
#6073: We can't even GIVE it away
Salvation Army came, took one look at the dining set, and said, "We can't take it."

Why? Because it needs refinishing.

This dining set cost $700 in 1950, when the average cost of a new car was about $1,500. That's the equivalent today of a dining set that costs, oh, twenty thousand dollars or so.

Problem is, though, that used furniture just isn't in demand. No one wants this stuff. People who need furniture are buying new, because interest rates are low and there's no reason to economize. And prices haven't kept pace with inflation, which is why you can buy a nice dining set in 2018 for under a couple grand.

Why pay top dollar for used furniture, then pay more to have it refinished, when you can buy brand new furniture? To say nothing of the fact that people simply don't buy this kind of furniture any more, not like they used to.

That's why the auctioneer didn't want it; the china cabinet would maybe fetch $50, $100 at auction, and the table and chairs might get about the same.

There's just no demand for it.

So Salvation Army took off without taking anything with them, and they didn't even bother to close the front door behind them.

Go to pay the water bill--it was due yesterday rather than today, so it was late.

About the only thing that really went right today was Maki getting a clean bill of health from the vet. Mrs. Fungus and I noticed there was something with his jaw or lip that didn't look right, so today I took him in...and it turns out that there's this kind of flappy structure that all cats have, and he has it on both sides of his mouth, and it's both perfectly normal and utterly harmless. There's nothing wrong with him. That was $40.

Paid my car insurance early for once. What a concept, being able to pay a bill before it's due. Electricity's due next week, that's be a bit of a bite in the ass, but I should have it covered.

* * *

My cousin in Saint Louis sent me a B&N gift card; I used it to buy a couple volumes of Kimi ni Todoke, since I stalled at #9. Turns out there's twenty seven volumes of KnT. Holy crap.

* * *

But as days off go, this one was pretty annoying, and to make matters worse I didn't get to sleep in, either. What a pisser.

Still, I got plenty done. Which reminds me: time to put my laundry in the dryer.
11:30 am
#6072: That's not how this works. That's not how any of this works.
We know the 9th Circuit is full of idiots, but this one takes the cake. Okay, Obama did something during his term, and Trump un-did it. The "something" Obama did was basically to instruct immigration enforcement not to enforce immigration in certain circumstances. Trump merely said, "No, we're enforcing those laws."

The 9th Circus judge decided that Trump doesn't have the power to do that and reinstated the Obama policy.

The thing is, Presidents have that power. That's why Obama's decision stood as long as he was President. One of the primary foci of the executive branch is law enforcement, which is why a sitting President can fire the head of the FBI whenever the hell he pleases; he could appoint a new one every week--every day--if it suited him.

Rescinding Trump's policy is entirely a partisan move from a Democrat appointee, which is a big surprise, let me tell you.

* * *

And incidentally, illegal aliens of an age to be effected by Trump's decision have twice the crime rate of citizens that age so it doesn't look to me as if there's any good reason to keep them here.

* * *

And this really needs to happen. Illegal immigration would not be a problem if we simply enforced the laws. All we need to do is to enforce the laws against hiring illegal labor, and punish the people who flout them.

* * *

Shithole is shithole is shithole. Some are so bad they are festering shitholes, but regardless, they're shitholes. I don't want to live in a shithole. People that don't want to live like first-worlders can stay in their shitholes. Don't bring the shithole with you when you come here.

* * *

Darwin Award Winner thought an 82-year-old man was an easy mark.

* * *

The other lunatic Senator from Arizona opens his piehole and "removes all doubt".

* * *

This kind of horseshit is why it takes a decade to build thirty miles of railroad track.
In a remote part of Northern Scotland, the development of a shore-side world-class golf course that might provide a great deal of local employment is being blocked by "conservationists" fighting to preserve the supposed habitat of Fonseca's Seed Fly, Botanophila fonsecai, a species, one of 110,000 in the world and one of more than 7000 in the UK, discovered in the 1960s, and differentiable only by a close examination of the insect's genitalia under a microscope.
If you need a microscope to tell it from another species, to hell with it.

That's ludicrous.

"This fly is pretty much the same as this other fly, to the extent that in order to tell them apart you need to examine their junk with a microscope" equates to THESE ARE THE SAME DAMNED FLIES FOR ALL PRACTICAL PURPOSES.

And further, look at that phrase: "supposed habitat". They aren't even certain the damned fly is from there.

The title of that post is accurate.

* * *

This is an extremely interesting theory. I've always had more than a passing interest in anthropology, partly because I think science has not got a very good grasp of how great apes evolved into human beings, but also because the development of humans is one of those things SF touches on in interesting ways. The one I liked best was Aldrin and Barnes' Encounter with Tiber, but there are others.

* * *

Oh that cutting-edge computer research! Apparently certain systems have a vulnerability which enables someone to wipe your disk.

...on an IBM PCjr.

Turns out that if you boot the thing and then enter diagnostic mode, and hit the right buttons on the joysticks, it'll wipe whatever diskette is inserted.

Heh.

* * *

Interesting: you can now buy a desktop CNC mill for about $200. You can't use it to shape metal, but it's fine for plastic, wood, what-have-you. Seems like it'd be a natural for milling printed circuit boards. And for $70 you can swap the spindle for a laser head and do laser etching.

I have to wonder: why can't you do metal on it? $5 says it's just a matter of upgrading the spindle motor, although I'd bet there is a practical constraint on doing that (like "making the cutting head too heavy and unwieldy") but I still have to wonder if you could do it. Wouldn't that be interesting, if--say--$300 invested got you the ability to make, oh, gun parts...?

Myself, I actually have no idea what I'd do with something like this. Still, I've noticed that some of these tools are coming down to "neat toy" range.

Such as this laser engraver. Again--not powerful enough to do metal, but it'll do almost anything else. And it's not even $140.

Heh:
Do you want to be the life of the artist, Unrestrained Imagination? you can also record your story through the laser engraving machine, leaving the eraser can not wipe the traces. you can made your unique design as a gift to anyone you want to send.

NOTE: 1.Overload use will shorten the life of the bald head, it is recommended that bald work for half an hour to rest for 5 minutes
I do know that overloading my bald(ing) head seems to shorten its life. Let it rest for 5 minutes after half an hour of work, that's my motto. Heh.

...by "bald head" this mass of Engrish means the laser module, which apparently does not come with any kind of cooling system installed.

I saw a similar printer excoriated by a reviewer because it stopped working--probably because the guy overheated the thing's bald head. You really have to be careful with your overload use, don't you know.

Granted--for your $130 you get an engraving area about 2 inches square. But consider how much this capability used to cost, and you realize that if you want to try out laser engraving, and you can't conveniently have someone give you an actual industrial laser engraving machine, this ain't a bad place to start.

Shoot--buy this thing, a couple sacks of wood tag blanks of various shapes, and find a way to keep the bald head cool, and you can make an entire Christmas tree's worth of custom ornaments in an afternoon.

* * *

In the "WTF" department, I got an email from Tiger Direct blaring about this barebones computer they had for sale. "Thin client", no HDD or memory, but a quad-core Celeron processor and HDMI and USB 3, can take up to 8 GB, so it'd be perfect for connecting to the TV, $62...and they're out of stock on them. Of course.

Jerks.

* * *

Well, today is my day off, but I've got plenty to occupy me. Off I go.
Tuesday, January 16th, 2018
3:56 pm
#6071: OH FOR F--
So, that same windshield wiper system which worked perfectly fine on Saturday night malfunctioned again this morning, failing to work entirely...only to mysteriously begin working again as soon as I was within ten miles of it.

Left work, limped the car home, ordered a new wiper motor. I know the switch isn't the problem, having had it apart, so I'm going to replace the motor this afternoon. It should be at the parts store around 2.

*sigh*

* * *

If the GOP were actually interested in scoring points against Democrats they would employ the same words Dems use when Republicans talk about boycotting Democrat President state of the union speeches.

* * *

Seattle tries the "soda tax". $0.0175 per ounce, which makes my sixer of diet Pepsi cost--at the usual sale price of $2.50 per six pack--4.28. At the non-sale price of $4.29, it makes it $6.

The Seattle version excludes diet drinks, at least. The various governments like to pretend this is about encouraging people to drink healthier things, but when you tax diet versions--well.

* * *

Fred reminds us Haiti is a shithole.

* * *

When government has a "war on" something, we get more of it. War on alcohol? More alcohol. War on drugs? More drugs. War on poverty? More poverty. War on X? More X. Always-always.

* * *

Try to be quiet and you'll blow your throat up.

* * *

"Mexico is extremely dangerous and the dangerous people are moving across our borders." Oh well.

* * *

So it looks like our estimate for mass in the universe was off by a little bit. Maybe about 90%. They were saying "about 200 billion galaxies", but now they're saying "about two trillion galaxies", which is ten times as many.

Do we still need dark matter? I mean, they keep saying that it's "90% of the universe" and here they've just found another 800 billion galaxies, comprising 90% of the matter in the universe. Hmm.

* * *

So, just came in from replacing the wiper motor.

All symptoms gone.

It now wipes and parks the way it should. If I put it in "intermittent", it wipes once, parks, waits a few seconds, wipes again, parks, and repeats. Exactly as designed.

I'm pretty surprised that it's so easy to replace, too. Getting the wiper arms off was the hard part--well, that and getting the transmission phased correctly. I got everything assembled but it tried to wipe down from the parked position, and so I had to redo it. I figured it out, though. Turned the motor arm 180° and it was almost right, wanting to go down just a shade before going up. Took it out one more time, adjusted it, and now it's perfect.

Almost as if I knew what I was doing.

Toyota set the thing up so that it's all on the driver's side of the car's centerline. Once you get the arms off and the plastic cowl out of the way, two bolts hold it in, and the electrical connector was surprisingly easy to remove. I'm not sure what time it was when I left the house to pick up the part--I know it was some time after 2 PM--but I was done with the job before 3:30.

The fact that all the symptoms have disappeared indicates to me that it's the motor that was the problem, and replacing it was the right call. Hopefully we won't have any further issues with it.

All I need to do now is take my core back. But that can wait until a little later on.
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