Log in

Atomic Fungus
[Most Recent Entries] [Calendar View] [Friends]

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

[ << Previous 20 -- Next 20 >> ]
Friday, November 6th, 2015
1:23 am
#4963: Wolf ankles!
That'd be a good band name!

...watching Penny Dreadful after a hiatus of some months because we lost interest in it, but Thursday night's a blank one on the TV schedule for us and we needed to watch something while eating dinner. In it, one of the characters finally reveals his werewolfiness to one of his companions. I called him being a werewolf sometime early in the first season; my suspicions were confirmed at the season finale.

Well, that's all right.

* * *

Actual quote from a spam e-mail I received: "Pleased to meet you my porn sensei!"


* * *

This guy should be in the space program.

* * *

Now, WoW. For however long.
Wednesday, November 4th, 2015
3:29 pm
#4962: Goulash!
Tonight is goulash night. I need to go to the store for ginzo bread.

Beef prices are simply insane. I paid $4 a pound for round steak on sale. WTF.

* * *

They're learning recycling and condom usage and global warmenation, not useful things like language, history, and mathematics. Which is why even those who matriculate into Yale are utterly ignorant.

* * *

This is the perfect metaphor for NASA. "NASA: doing nothing on $20 billion per year since 1975!"


* * *

So, I've started reading It's Not My Fault I'm Not Popular, otherwise known as WataMote. I'm at chapter 71 out of an extant 87, which makes me a little sad, because I'm enjoying it immensely.

Well, that's okay.
Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015
4:54 pm
#4961: Why, no, that didn't need doing at all
So after the last post went up I hit the driveway and pulled off the LF tire on the Jeep. There wasn't anything that seemed obvious--when brakes go "crunch" I expect obvious--but taking a good look at the pads showed me asymmetrical wear, with one side tapering right down into the backing plate. That's got to be fixed today, I knew.

Jack stands, wheels off, pulled rotors.

On the left side, it turned out that the pads weren't quite down to the backing plate yet, but that end of the pad it had a ragged edge and looked like it wouldn't last another two days on my commute; my instinct had been correct. The rotors--ordinarily I don't turn them, but these are cheap Chinese rotors and I figured I didn't want to have to pull all this apart again during winter, so I took them off and headed to O'Reilly's to get them turned.

For the first time since that auto parts store has been there--since before, when it was Murray's--today marked the first time I ever got a set of rotors turned there, the first time I didn't go in and get told, "Sorry, but the brake lathe is down...."

One side was marginal, the other was okay. I told him to turn the okay one and that I'd be back, because I got them from Lang's down the street and their prices are better. (Probably for exactly the same manufacturer to boot.) Lang's had them, $12 cheaper, so I bought that. By the time I got back to O'Reilly's the good one was almost done; once I'd gotten pads and settled up I went across the street to Advance, where I had a $5 off coupon against a $10 purchase. There I bought a windshield wiper for the driver's side (which is starting to shudder) and a can of brake cleaner.

BK for food, home, eat, go to PO for stamps, come home...where is the spare Jeep key? FFFFFUUU-- go back to PO looking for it, fail to find it, argh etc... I had just used it to open the Jeep, so I had it before going to the PO; no idea where it went because it wasn't anywhere around the PO, nor is it in the Jeep, Mrs. Fungus' car, or the driveway. Argh etc.

Dove back into the truck. Reassembly was fairly painless. Biggest problem was one of the slide pins on the passenger side was stiff; I pulled it, wire wheeled it, gave it a light coat of grease, and put 'er back in. Finished reassembly.

Went around the block, not faster than 25 MPH; the new brakes are just beginning to get good bite but still feel a bit spongy. That ought to go away in a couple dozen miles or so and I'm not worried about it; this is not exactly the first time I've done brakes. (And I think it's the fourth brake job I've done on this truck since I got it. Twice front, twice rear, and one of those times I had to replace the rear brake cylinders. Yeah.)

Best part: limited lifetime warranty on the pads. Like Og, I've kept the old ones, so the next time I need to do this I just go into O'Reilly's with these in a box and say, "More, please!"

Shops charge $100 per axle for this kind of work. I got it done for $60, and the next time I need to change the pads those will be free. Can't beat that.
1:56 pm
#4960: Public high schools are horrible
I find it remarkable that anyone would want to be a teacher working in a public school system. Of course, you have job security (because union) and you aren't judged by the quality of your output, nor do you actually have to have any mastery of what you've been hired to teach about. And you work nine, ten months a year.

Of course, that's merely compensation for the fact that most of them work in festering shitholes.

The animals in this video know the teacher has no power to stop their rampage. Further they know that if she does anything they don't like, she will be the one to get in trouble; no matter what they do, short of physically assaulting her, they know they can do whatever they want and she is powerless to stop them.

Compulsory education is a failure. Clearly those kids do not wish to be educated; why are we forcing them to be there? Why are we forcing teachers to deal with them? Let the animals drop out of school for a few years and try to make it without knowing how to do anything other than act like complete assholes. If this happens to enough of them, perhaps the next generation will be less stupid.

* * *

The science is settled! ...which is why any contrary opinion must be silenced without mercy. Reality cannot withstand a contrary opinion, after all.

I read, today, an excellent quote. Victor Margurite said, "The fascists cannot argue, so they kill."

...even if the violence is rhetorical and economic, the statement applies here. "You said global warming isn't real! You're fired, you fuckin' asshole!"

* * *

This is pretty cool. I had to look at the image for a little while to figure out how it works, but then I realized that the "revolver" part is essentially a chain of blocks.

* * *

"...you syphilitic rectum enthusiast!" That's my new favorite insult.

* * *

Well! Now I must go and attempt to fix the Jeep. Such a stimulating life I lead.
1:00 am
#4959: I have health insurance!
Holy crap! I have health insurance!

...it was supposed to kick in the first of the month after my 60th day, and it sure did.

That's the first time I've had it since 2012, for crying out loud. WTF.

* * *

So on my way home tonight, my luck manifested itself again: the brakes started going "crunch" as I got within two or three miles of the bunker.

This is good luck. If they'd started going "crunch" this time yesterday, I would have had to get up at oh-shit-thirty to repair them before work today; as it is I have two whole days in which to get it done. Naturally I intend to get it done tomorrow.

I think it's the front end. I seem to recall that the pads were getting low on material when I had the hubs out for inspection/replacement. Not a biggie; the hard part will be getting the rotors turned.

* * *

When I was a young lad I explained to Dad how the Rebels were actually the bad guys in the Star Wars universe. This is a similar line of thought from other people, some thirty-eight years later.

I'm a genius.

* * *

If it works, this'll be great. The biggest problem I see is that when you want to cool anything, it requires refrigeration, which is inherently inefficient. Cooling inlet air from 1,500 degrees to -150 will take rather a lot of cooling. If they can make it work, more power to 'em. I'd love to see hypersonic aircraft in my lifetime.

* * *

And now, as is typical of my Friday, it's WoW time.
Sunday, November 1st, 2015
11:34 pm
#4958: Global warming is getting worse!
It's so bad, Antarctic glaciers can't melt fast enough keep up with it, and are growing.

We all need to panic right now because global warming is man-made and happening right the fuck now.

* * *

So, we have to pass a law pointing out that breaking the law is against the law, basically because government.

* * *

So today I had a guy insist that because he's been a customer for years I should be able to cut him a special deal.

...he's already got the cheapest plan on offer; there's no possible way to cut it any further. He said the same four things over and over and over again for five minutes before I could get a word in edgewise. WTF.

Sprint offers unlimited talk without text or data for $20 a month? Go to Sprint. For crying out loud.

* * *

Last night Mrs. Fungus and I watched The Shining again. We now have so many running jokes surrounding that movie it's impossible for us to watch it for more than ten minutes without one of us cracking the other up.

Halloran: Are you a "Winnie" or a "Freddy"?
Wendy: I'm a Wendy!
Me: (doing my best Scatman Crothers): ...don't you worry 'bout nothin', Mr. Torrance; ah kill her myself. Ah even dump the body on my way out.

She laughs like that even though she's the one who thought of that one.

* * *

Well, one more day, and then two off. I can't wait.
Friday, October 30th, 2015
11:56 pm
#4957: B Gata H Kei
So, as I had suspected, long ago when I was reading it the first time I downloaded all the manga for that series. Now I'm rereading it and it's just as good the second time as it was the first.

* * *

So, it's been two weeks since I started working on the production floor at work, and it seems longer. And I'm getting a new supervisor on Sunday, already, because the supes abruptly had a shift bid.


* * *

By the time this post goes up it'll be Halloween. And once Halloween is over, it's Christmas season already.


I am told that for the last several federal holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, and now Thanksgiving) the center was closed, even though it's supposed to be a 365-day operation. This worried the person who was telling me this, though he would not explain why. "What, you think we'll have to work Christmas?" I asked, but he didn't answer.

But because there is approximately fuck-all I can do about it, I'm going to continue to do my job the best I can. 90% of this one is just showing up and doing your work the way they tell you to do it, so I'm doing that until someone tells me otherwise.

* * *

Meanwhile, I need to tuck my wife into bed, and try to get my brain slowed down a bit before I hit the hay myself.

She wanted a chef's salad for dinner--I just wanted leftover spaghetti--so I set to work, boiling a couple of eggs and slicing vegetables, ham, and cheese. Once done I had a soup bowl full of lettuce, onion, carrot, egg, ham, and cheese; when I set it in front of her she was floored by the presentation.

She ate the whole thing. (I did get one bite.)

...so naturally I'm going to end up having to make this kind of salad for her again.
1:13 am
#4956: Sinister Squashling
So, yesterday, Mrs. Fungus and I went to a pumpkin farm to get a pumpkin. We watched a pig race; we petted animals and fed them carrots; we had an entire hayride to ourselves thanks to the abysmally shitty weather. To be fair it only poured rain during the pig race; otherwise it merely drizzled from time to time.

But we got a very nice pumpkin; and tonight we carved it. She wanted me to make it look as much like the Sinister Squashling pet from WoW as possible, and I delivered:

And of course it's a fully functional jack-o-lantern:

* * *

Today I learned that I will, in fact, have Thanksgiving day off from work, so of course my wife and I will be going to her mother's place for dinner that day. Excellent! That's one T-day dinner I don't have to cook; I'll make a vat of apple crisp and all should be well.

* * *

I like Ted Cruz's tax plan. Unfortunately, it is politically impossible. There are far too many entrenched interests who profit off the unwieldy and insanely complex tax code we have.

* * *

Spaghetti for dinner tonight; and now I have less than an hour before bedtime. *sigh*
Wednesday, October 28th, 2015
2:25 pm
#4955: Oh, is it time for that scare again?
Conclusive proof! Red meat is bad for you! Bacon is bad for you! You'll get colorectal cancer and die!

Nitrates in food, ZOMG, the horror. If you're afraid of nitrates, and you decide to have a garden salad instead of a couple of hot dogs, you're eating more nitrates rather than less. Congratulations. ("Oh, but this is organic lettuce and the nitrates in it are natural!" Says the idiot who also takes vitamin supplements. *rolleyes*)

...and I ignored it, as I have ignored all such grave pronouncements for the past fifteen years. Prior to that, I paid attention long enough to find out who did the study, which was usually enough information for me to decide I could safely ignore it. So in fact I've been ignoring this kind of scaremongering a lot longer than a decade and a half. But more recently, whenever something like this crops up ("Eating X will kill you!") I default right to "Ignore it; it's worthless junk."

So far, I have never been wrong.

* * *

The cuts never happen. That's the problem with any budget deal which promises spending cuts later for increases now.

By design, no future Congress can be constrained by the acts of the present Congress absent a constitutional amendment, and it's (again, by design) very very difficult to amend the Constitution. The sitting Congress in 2015 saying that the sitting Congress in 2025 will cut spending by X is an empty promise.

The cuts never happen. Never.

And everyone--everyone--involved knows it. The Republicans don't want to cut spending any more than the Democrats do, but the GOP elites know that if they don't pretend to want to cut spending, the voters will throw them out on their ears. So we get failure theater, we get rounding error spending cuts, we get all this horseshit...and business as usual continues.

Boehner, at least, is finally out, and as the headline reads, good riddance. For crying out loud, when it looked like Boehner might be challenged for the Speaker's chair, the Democrats were going to help him retain it! What does it say about him that the opposing political party would have fought to keep him in a prominent position?

The Democrats wanted Boehner to remain Speaker because they didn't have to fight to get what they wanted out of him. He was the weakest GOP Speaker in a long, long time.

Now, pray that we don't get someone worse.

* * *

"President Obama kept his promise to end the war in Iraq." ...which is why, three years later, our military is making plans to wade back in...and this time it will be a quagmire.

Before his election I knew that Obama wasn't qualified to run a McDonald's--a lemonade stand--let alone a country. It was a telling point that the only candidate in that race with actual executive experience was the GOP candidate for vice-President; and when people tried to insist that running his own campaign counted, it did not get the laughter such a risible claim deserved.

As bad a President as Bush was, his roadmap for dealing with Iraq was sensible. In Obama's incontinent rush to get the US out of Iraq, he did a lot more harm than good. Now that whole area is a worse mess than ever, and so now, we are told, we must wade back in; but as was the case in 2003 no one has made a good case as to why we must wade back in. (Under Bush, the war in Iraq eventually made sense--islamic terrorists naturally flocked there to fight the US--but that was not a feature that was mentioned before the war began, and I cannot escape the conclusion that result was a happy accident rather than an intended outcome.)

This time, the situation is worse. The US middle east policy has been incoherent since Obama took office, and the only reason we're now talking about going back into Iraq stems from Russia's attempt to capitalize on the mess Obama made of everything.

...and yeah, Russia's done more to cripple ISIS in the last sixty days than we have since the whole ISIS thing began. Because they know what they want to accomplish, and it's not half a dozen incompatible and half-considered goals that poll well.

* * *

The simple fact is that no one has any money to spare. The "back to school" season was apparently not a very good time for retailers who rely on it.

Like everyone else I refer to "the last recession" and pretend, in my daily conversations, that it actually ended. That's because it's more convenient to talk that way than it is to explain that no, the recession never actually ended, and we are in fact in a depression.

Most specifically, it does not do to delve into politics when you are in the middle of a job interview. And the question of whether or not we're currently in a depression has, at least, a political dimension, one which has no place in my field of endeavor.

But we are in a depression, we've been in it since 2009, and nothing has been done to correct it. And the middle class doesn't have any money to spare.

Precious little we can do about it, of course, because the politicians are more interested in feathering their own nests than making sure the economic environment is conducive to average folks being able to pay their bills.

* * *

Last night Mrs. Fungus and I decided to watch Poltergeist, the 2015 remake. Then we decided to watch the original, and we observed that the original was vastly superior to the remake.

In the remake, none of the characters were likable at all, and modern special effects could not save it. Mrs. Fungus observed that, in older movies, the characters' emotions were portrayed better than in modern movies, and I think she's right; modern movies feature performances which are much more wooden compared to those in older films.

* * *

Holy crap, is it November? Temps in the low fifties, cloudy, dank, windy--what a crummy, crummy day it is out there.
Tuesday, October 27th, 2015
7:53 pm
#4954: What a great meal.
So, it's been rather a long time since Mrs. Fungus and I went out to dinner. I looked at the date, my bank balance, and we talked it over, and ultimately we decided to splurge a little bit and go out to dinner.

We did not break the bank to do it--we got out of the restaurant stuffed to the gills for $43 with tip--and we had excellent, excellent food.

The place is called Runa; it's on the northeast corner of 159th and Harlem in Tinley Park. It's asian food--some Japanese (mostly sushi), Chinese, and Thai. Their hot and sour soup is the best I've had in a very, very long time. Everything else was delicious, too. If I'd had a little more room we wouldn't have come home with a smallish takeout box of leftover orange chicken and fried rice. (Their Tuesday special is orange chicken with fried rice, an absolute steal for under $4!)

* * *

REI is closing all their stores on Black Friday. Mrs. Fungus and I are planning to buy some stuff from them to show our support for their excellent decision. Take pity on retail workers everywhere and support this.

* * *

Had to visit Best Buy this evening to get a new copy of Webroot. The subscription I got for free last year (for doing on-line training) has expired, and I don't work there any more, so I have to pay for it. Webroot simply works. Their web site wanted me to pay $80 for it, though, so I went to Best Buy...and got a one-year three-machine license for $40 plus tax. Win.

Also, I went to the Tinley Park store--it was on the way home from the restaurant--which is not nearly as ghetto as the one I worked at. The music playing was at an ignorable volume, and consisted of more than just R&B/pop/hip-hop crap.

* * *

So, my phone freaked out and set itself to standard time a week early.

I figure that the algorithm for determining when to make the switch was deliberately designed to do it on the last Sunday in October--following the 4th Saturday, because there is only a 5th every eleven years. Someone decided that the extra logic required to perform right in the unusual case where October ends on a Saturday wasn't worth the space, and time it would take to debug it, so they took a shortcut.

And yeah, too bad for you if you're using your phone as an alarm clock and you end up waking up 45 minutes late because your phone thinks it's an hour earlier than it is....

Luckily I woke up in time to get out of the house on time, and made it to work Sunday afternoon with 10 minutes to spare. Basically, I slept through my "lollygag" time, built into my wakeup time of 11 AM; and because of that, I didn't have to rush to work. Even so, it's annoying.

* * *

Tomorrow is my Sunday. My weekends, alas, are all too short...but that is true for everyone who works a five-day week.
3:30 pm
#4953: It sure looks like October out there to me.
Sunny weather for most of the past five days; when I get a weekend, cloudy and cold. *sigh*


* * *

In the "No shit, Sherlock!" department, the GOP leadership is out of touch with the base.
The social mood has shifted. What works when the voters are generally optimistic does not work when they are increasingly fearful, angry, and desperate. It's fun to speak knowledgeably of Ricardo and wax eloquent about how immigrants are enriching the economy when you're pulling down six digits at the office, but the cruel realities of supply and demand are a little more likely to strike home when you've been out of work for 18 months and haven't had an interview in your last ten job applications.
The GOP establishment simply does not understand what's going on, and they--and the elites in general--do not see the misery that has resulted from the ongoing depression.

It's easy to assume the economy is in great shape when you don't have trouble paying your bills, and you don't know anyone who does. For someone pulling down six figures, the rising price of food and energy isn't the problem that it is for someone making a tenth (more often a twentieth or a fiftieth!) as much.

The GOP establishment is confused because they think all they have to do is front "not democrat!" and they'll automatically get conservative votes. But when their guy is merely "Democrat lite" and everyone is hurting, it doesn't work that way. People remember George W. Bush, and not very fondly; I suspect I'm not the only one suffering from complete Bush Fatigue which renders one completely unwilling to vote for Yet Another Bush.

Absent 9/11 it seems likely Bush would have been a one-term President.

* * *

White teacher dresses up like Kanye West, complete with blackface. Okay, first off, way to go, dumbass, deliberately putting your foot on a landmine like that.

His biggest mistake, though, was apologizing for it, as Vox Day says. If the SJWs begin their "point and shriek" routine the worst thing you can do is to apologize, because that's an admission of guilt; the thing to do is double down: "Yeah, I dressed up like Kanye West, and my students thought it was hilarious."

Vox Day gets one--just one--thing wrong: "I don't know if it is true that the teacher lost his job," he says, "...that seems unlikely given the teachers unions have made it all but impossible to actually fire a teacher for anything short of serial killing students...."

Teachers' unions have made it impossible to fire teachers for being pedophiles, for being incompetent, for being illiterate, for being negligent, for being lazy...but a teachers' union would never stand in the way of firing a white teacher for doing something that might possibly be construed as hinting at the suggestion of being raciss.

Coming to school in blackface? The union probably rubber-stamped that termination request so fast it left scorch marks on the paper.

* * *

Cell phones? Rent-a-Center is doing poorly because they wrote down their stocks of old cell phones? And we're not talking about Motorola DynaTACs, here; we're talking about Samsung Galaxy S3s and iPhone 4s.

As the article notes, the older 4G phones are still valuable because people with lower income will buy them; also people like me who don't give a rat's ass about having "the latest and greatest" and who merely want a smartphone so they can check their e-mail occasionally. (Unless RAC is talking about disposing of basic phones and pre-Android smartphones, in which case the stockholders should be asking management why they held onto stock like that for so long.)

A cellular phone is almost-but-not-quite a necessity these days, and in general they're cheap enough that nearly everyone has one. If the bottom is dropping out of the cellular market--that's not a good thing. (And not just because I currently work in the cellular service industry.)

* * *

Economic doomsayers see a huge crash coming. If they are right--and I pray they are not--we are in for a bumpy ride.

I do expect that the illusion of prosperity cannot endure much longer. We're in a depression, and have been since 2009, and it has suited our aristocracy to pretend real hard that wasn't the case. (Besides, they're making money hand over fist; under Obama the rich have gotten richer while the poor have gotten poorer because of exactly the sort of crony capitalism the Democrats pretend mightily they despise.) This is the endgame of thirty years of defict spending, piling debt upon debt.

The thing is, what we're experiencing now is pretty much what the Great Depression was like, from 1929-1939. It's going to take longer for this one to clear because our politicians have spent the first eight years of it fapping around trying to pretend everything was rosy (they remember what happened to political careers during the last depression) and not doing anything to fix the situation.

The bad debts have to clear and deflation must be allowed to take place. The economy is cyclical, and the high part of the cycle cannot happen until and unless the low part is allowed to take place first.

Of course, if the low happens, a lot of politicians and bankers and other rich people lose their cushy lifestyles and end up flipping burgers. (Relatively speaking.) And they don't care who has to suffer as long as they do not.

* * *

Couple of chores to do today, nothing major, and one's already accomplished.

I spoke to the guy who bought the Fiero today. He told me his grandson took it for a drive, and said that it runs smoother than his BMW does. Meanwhile he's got a factory stock radio in it (the one that I gave him with the car was apparently not working right) and he's getting things fixed. He's even replaced the sail panels, something I never did in thirteen years of ownership.

Well, good. I'm happy that he's getting so much joy from it. As I said, if he gets half as much pleasure out of owning that car as I did, he got a bargain--because I sure did.
12:44 am
#4952: Ahh, the weekend!
Glorious nothing to do for the next two days except what I want to do.

* * *

Had a hankering to reread B Gata H Kei, and I think I downloaded all of it from the guys who were scanlating it, so I can just go ahead and read. Win.

* * *

Today was a pretty decent day, too. Didn't have any real problems to deal with; the hardest part was the coaching from my boss, and the hard part of that is listening to the phone call. We didn't even listen to the whole call, and the coaching was half an hour where I didn't have to answer any phone calls, so I don't mind at all.

I'm gradually getting used to the work I do. It's a different kind of customer service than I ever did before, and it's difficult because I'm still learning a new skill, but it's not beyond my capabilities to do it.

Today, for the first time, I managed to save a line from being cancelled. Proof that I'm getting better at this.

* * *

...and that's all I've got. My days are consumed with work, my evenings consumed with relaxing and preparing for the next day's work. This is how it is, and I have no complaint.
Monday, October 26th, 2015
12:14 am
#4951: WRONG
So I saw a billboard from March of Dimes claiming that premature birth is the #1 cause of death for babies, and I thought, "Horseshit! Abortion is the #1 cause of death for babies!"

Turns out my gut instinct was right. 1.09 million premature births lead to death per year. Abortions, about 1.1 to 1.2 million per year. It is not a lot more, but it is more, meaning that premature birth is in fact the second-highest cause of infant mortality in the US.

...though we're only supposed to care about the preemie deaths, right? Not the infanticides?

* * *

Thursday (which was my Monday) I felt fain to embalmed. As my week progressed I've gradually felt better and better. Tomorrow will be hard, but hopefully not as hard as Thursday was, if only because Thursday was a really bad day, all around.

Just work-related bad, though, which helps.

I'd like to be able to go back to the days when all I had to do was work around the house, and not worry about being somewhere at a certain time and working to their schedule. But this way pays a lot better, even though it's much harder work, and I'm doing something economically useful instead of fapping around the homestead doing stupid crap no one cares about.

Thursday was probably my worst day so far in this job, but at that it was miles better than 95% of the days I spent at Best Buy manning that stupid counter, schlepping junk back and forth.

I don't have to wear that idiotic getup, I don't have to stand. I can sit at a desk and I can even take my shoes off if I want to. No one cares. For this, the only sacrifice I must make is that I cannot get up and hit the can when I feel like it; I must wait for a break. Also, I only have half an hour for lunch. But I get breaks and lunches, and they're scheduled--none of this "Okay, work for six hours straight with no breaks or anything BECAUSE WE CAN MAKE YOU DO IT!!" that went on with Best Buy.

Today was pretty decent. The drive home was nice and relaxing--Sunday night there's almost no one on the roads--and I only had one problem call, which solved itself when the call dropped. I called the customer back and sent a text message, and got voice mail, and counted myself fortunate.

* * *

Last night Mrs. Fungus and I watched The Green Mile, a movie I never saw before. It was not-bad, even with the "THIS IS CHANNEL NINE!" mangling of the swear words.

Besides that, we've been watching American Horror Story: Hotel and Leftovers. The first eps of both didn't make a lick of sense, but gradually things are improving.

...and tomorrow night is a new ep of Gotham, which will rule.

* * *

Finally: the Fiero's been gone a week now, and when I've opened the garage to get the compressor out (so I could top up the Jeep's leaky tire) I've seen the empty space formerly occupied by the Pontiac, and instead of feeling sad or anything I look at that space and think, Win.

Yeah, it was time, all right.
Saturday, October 24th, 2015
12:02 am
#4950: I'm going to take a wild guess, here.
I'm going to guess that your bill went up by $50 because you added a line to your account and you're paying $30 a month for the phone besides.

The part that hurts? Not being able to add: "...you fucking ass goblin."

* * *

Even better was the douchebag who insisted that he's owed a new phone for free. He is not getting a new phone for free. This was a case where the rep simply has to list the customer's options and stand pat, which is what I did. What a penis.

* * *

NOAA inflates September temperatures more than ever! NOAA is essentially making up climate data from whole cloth.

* * *

The first new nuclear reactor in decades! Woohoo!

* * *

But the government says there is no inflation, so how can this be?

* * *

Vintage computer ads. I don't have time to look at them right now.

* * *

Gas hit $2.22 per gallon here in the Fungal Vale, which is the cheapest it's been in a long time.

* * *

Today was a long, tiring day. Well, that's how it is when you work for a living.
Friday, October 23rd, 2015
12:36 am
#4949: Busted and disgusted.
Hard day today. A plethora of stupidity. I just don't know what to say, except, "I'm tired."

Bed, then. Tomorrow's another one.
Wednesday, October 21st, 2015
2:01 pm
#4948: OCT 21 2015: All I really wanted was Mr. Fusion
The view from 1985, thirty years later:

Back to the Future (BttF) was really good, both as science fiction and as comedy. It posited the invention of a new technology (time travel) and then explored one possible consequence of time travel (a version of the grandfather paradox). It managed to do so in an entertaining and lighthearted fashion, to boot.

The other two movies were not as good. Of them, I like the third one better, primarily because it doesn't struggle as hard to maintain the parallels that the second movie attempted, and failed.

But the second movie showed us a view of 2015 from about twenty-five years prior, starting with elements that were included in the first movie for comedic effect and to show that Doc had really been 30 years in the future.

First, if you look at Doc's clothing--the clear vinyl tie, the insane colors--some of that was popular wear for teens in the 1980s, some was speculation on the part of the production designers. Doc needed to look as if he'd been in the future, and no one would have bought it if he'd come back to 1985 wearing khakis, a polo, loafers, and maybe a light jacket against the early autumn chill, not even if he'd had an iPhone 6S plus in his hand. Fashion is always assumed to be ludicrous in the future; the reality is that it almost never is. A man's casual dress clothes from today would be passable in 1955, though people might wonder where he'd left his hat.

And on the reverse side, the scene at the high school in 1955--Doc's casual clothes would be almost perfectly acceptable in 2015.

Second, Mr. Fusion. In 1985, fusion was due any time now. There's been no change in that prediction; thirty years later we're still thirty years away from harnessing fusion power. Of all the advances we're shown in the BttF trilogy, this one would be the most important because it makes all the other technologies possible.

Like the oft-lamented flying cars. The reactionless thruster that is used to make them fly is approximately "magic" right now (though apparently we're working on it) but they won't do any good without some kind of power source, and a pretty dense one at that.

Just as an example: in his book Saucer: The Conquest Stephen Coonts has one of his protagonists attempt to use the alien antigravity technology in an old pickup truck, for yucks. To generate enough power to lift the truck, he has to run the engine flat out. (Note to self: there is now, finally, a third Saucer book, and I must read it. The first two are damned good books and I want to see what happens. Coonts never intended there to be a series.)

It takes a lot of power to support the mass of a car against gravity. Figure a ton of mass, and you have to provide enough thrust to counter an acceleration of 32 feet per second squared. That's a lot of energy just to hover. A reactionless thruster should convert power directly to kinetic energy, but the efficiency seems likely to be no better than a typical internal combustion engine (twenty to thirty percent).

I expect that innocuous-looking pink Barbie hoverboard Marty carries around during the latter two movies contains a tiny Mr. Fusion reactor, because we never see him plug that thing in and recharge it.

Which leads me quite naturally to the flying cars, of course. The second movie is full of things that float or fly or hover, like magic. The arrival in 2015 is on an airborne superhighway, delineated with floating lights and signs, full of flying cars and trucks.

The BttF version of 2015 doesn't include a lot of things we have, that the producers of the movie could not envision in 1985--and like most visions of the future it was based entirely on trends of the year in which it was made, extrapolated.

Soothsayers are usually wrong.

But the thing is, expecting new and radical changes in technology is actually correct. In 1985 no one thought people would routinely carry around, in their hip pockets, computers that could be used anywhere on the planet to communicate with people, watch movies, listen to music, or just look things up ("I know there's a Thai place around here somewhere; gimme a second to Google it.") and inexpensive enough that nearly everyone has one. Powerful computers, devices that eclipse all but the fastest computers available in 1985.

It was actually correct, in one sense, to expect flying cars and fusion power and-and-and by 2015. In 1955, no one expected things like the JVC GC-C1 camcorder Marty had in the first movie. No one thought computers would ever be personal (much less small enough to fit in a hip pocket and let you play "Angry Birds" between phone calls) and they certainly didn't think that we'd ever go to the moon half a dozen times and then just stop.

The expansion of technological knowledge is exponential--or, at least, it's supposed to be. Since the end of the space age we've put all our efforts into making circuits smaller and more efficient, with the result that we can now cram ten thousand transistors into the area once occupied by one, and wirelessly stream movies in HD, but still don't have a truly reusable rocket booster or a significant, permanent on-orbit manned presence.

Thirty years ago I was pretty certain the vision of 2015 in BttF 2 was incorrect. I just didn't know how; of all the technologies we saw in that movie Mr. Fusion seemed the most plausible.

Imagine how different things would be if fusion were commonplace and cheap like that, even if you had to use special fuel to run it rather than banana peels and stale beer (and the can it came in).

Thirty years from now, then? In 2045?

I'll be 78 years old, for crying out loud. I don't know. But I'm willing to take a stab at it.

Fusion power? I think so, at least I'd like to. It'd be nice if we'd finally crack that nut, because it's incredibly efficient and clean, even moreso on all fronts than fission power is. And there's literally unlimited fuel for it; even just within the bounds of the solar system there's enough deuterium for all of Man's energy needs ever. (And perhaps a century's worth of research into making fusion power more efficient will, I expect, crack the proton-proton fusion problem, freeing us from the need for deuterium.)

Flying cars--I doubt it. Maybe, but I doubt it. Flight adds an extra dimension of complexity to a vehicle, and the need to transition from ground travel to air travel adds weight and more shit to go wrong. And most people aren't smart enough to operate a car properly; how much worse would it be if they could fly, too? I expect us to continue to use one kind of vehicle for ground and another for air.

Clothing: clothes are going to evolve, just as they have for the entire history we've worn them. Our customs regarding nudity may change, but not drastically, and the clothes will look about the same in 2045 as they do now. Materials may change, patterns and features may be different, but I'd bet I could go to 2045 right now wearing what I wear to work, and not look too out of place.

Computers: There's a certain practical limit to miniturization, that we're rapidly approaching, though we're not quite sure where that limit is. I think we have perhaps a decade left in Moore's Law--I'm optimistic about that--but by the time we get to the end of it we won't need much more than we have when we're there. Following that, our understanding of nanoengineering will help us improve batteries to the point that your laptop will be able to run for a week on a charge, rather than a few hours.

Energy: better batteries will help a lot of things, but if we don't have portable fusion reactors we're still going to rely on power distribution grids. Vehicles may still require fossil fuels, or they'll be electric and require charging before use. Fusion power should help make electricity "too cheap to meter" which would be a huge boost towards making electric cars practical.

I expect us to be in the middle of a Maunder Minimum in 2045. It's going to be chilly. Climatologists will be claiming that unless we curb human pollution the Earth will enter an ice age before the end of the century. "Anthropogenic global warming" will be all but forgotten.

Socially--that's a tough one. I do expect a swing back to a moral, ethical society. I'm not sure how far we'll go towards "permissive" before then. I expect pedophilia to be legalized before things start to get better--it might even be the catalyst that turns things around--though I'm not sure how legal it will be. Will it be PC to celebrate it, as we must now celebrate homosexuality? Or will it remain in the ghetto, tolerated at best (as it was until only recently)? One can only hope things won't go that far, but right now I'm not seeing anything that can really stop the attempt.

I'm predicting a major war sometime between now and then. 2045 will be a post-war world similar to the 1950s or so.

Overall, I'm optimistic that the future will be better than today is. There will be rough spots; there always are. But we're pretty good at improving things. It's what we do.
Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
3:20 pm
#4947: Wait, 24%? Really?
Since when is health care 24% of the US economy? It was around 20% the last time I checked. Of course since Obamacare became law--the half-assed socialization of medicine--I should have expected that.

The problem with our medical system is too complex for me to discuss here, on a gorgeous indian summer day.

* * *

Consumer Reports does an about-face about the Tesla.
A little over a month later, the Elon Musk marketing check appears to have bounced, because not only did Consumer Reports yank, literally, its glowing September review, leading to the following 404-ed page...


... but has come out with the following unabashed hit job on the car.
I have never thought of Consumer Reports as truly unbiased, and apparently I am not the only person who has come to that conclusion. Their hit piece on the Suzuki Samurai--which was fatal to that model, and which also did serious damage to the make in this country--was almost entirely based on faulty testing methodology.

And this, too, is too complicated for me to discuss on a gorgeous indian summer day. But the fact that Consumer Reports gave the Tesla a 100 rating without even testing it is a telling fact.

* * *

And Lord, is it a gorgeous day. It's in the seventies, it's sunny, it's pleasant--the only thing marring it is the high winds; when I went out to the store their flags were standing straight out from the poles. A day like this is great, temperature-wise, for riding a motorcycle, but riding in that kind of wind is no fun at all so the bike remains garaged. *sigh*

I hit the store for some supplies, including the ingredients for chili-cheese fries; I got out of there for $41.98--two cents short of $42, dang it--and only after I was home and unloading the truck did I realize that I'd forgotten to get the fries themselves.


Well, we're having hot dogs tonight, anyway, and I get get the curly fries tomorrow. Good enough for me.

And now, it's time to relax and enjoy my days off.
10:58 am
#4946: Saturday falls on a Tuesday.
Third interview this morning for that job I've been excited about all month. Video interview, again, and fortunately the computer room only needed light tidying. "Third interview", I hope, means that I'm in the final final running for the job, because that would be awfully nice.

Well, it shall be as the Lord decrees. Further, deponent sayeth not.

* * *

Or else the guy got cancer for an entirely different reason. One of the things I really don't like about Zero Hedge is their anti-nuclear stance.

The radiation exposure limits emplaced by governments for people in the nuclear industry are based on the "no safe dose" theory: the idea that any exposure to radiation is potentially harmful. This is a theory that dates back to the very beginnings of nuclear power, to a time when we didn't know anything about the effects of radiation on the human body. This errs on the side of caution, which is smarter than letting the chips fall where they may.

As time goes on we're learning more and more about it, though, and the signs are pointing to radiation hormesis as being correct: the idea that the dose makes the poison and that our bodies are capable of resisting a certain level of radiation without suffering any ill effects.

The latter is, by the way, much more consistent with what we know about biology when it comes to other potentially harmful things. Inhaling zinc oxide vapor will make you extremely sick, but the body requires a few milligrams of it every day in the food we eat. There are all sorts of trace elements in food, arsenic and lead and mercury and other poisonous things. People love almonds, and almonds contain cyanide.

I could list a thousand foods which contain trace levels of poisons. But for those poisons to reach a harmful dose you'd have to consume truly impossible amounts of those foods. (Bitter almonds, though, are best avoided in quantity. People have died from eating lots of them.)

So when the Japanese government says that the annual dose of radiation for nuclear workers is 50 mSv, I am confident that's a safe determination, well below the actual dose which a person could take before suffering ill effects.

Cancer is a complex disease. It's very complex. We don't know what causes it; we've identified risk factors for it, but we don't know what makes ordinary cells go haywire and start multiplying out of control. Because those cells use exactly the same metabolic processes as healthy cells, killing them--and only them--is difficult. Prevention amounts to identifying risk factors and eliminating them.

Radiation exposure is not a cause of cancer, the same way smoking is not. Exposure to carcinogens increases your chance of contracting cancer but does not guarantee it.

This unfortunate man could just as easily have contracted cancer from smoking, or asbestos exposure, or a viral infection that mutated as from radiation exposure.

If you have one case of cancer after five years, when the published radiation figures never exceeded safe limits, it's probable that case of cancer has nothing to do with the radiation release.

* * *

What the fuck is up with this headline? "Attacked by pranksters" is a bit much. A prankster doesn't "attack". Calling a prank an attack is exaggeration.

...I have long since forgotten the dialing sequence for getting to the PA system at Target, but it's not even remotely secure. The notion that the PA is an extension hooked to the phone system had not occurred to me, but then I never gave a rat's ass about it and only used it when I had to.

Well, it's not really my problem.

* * *

You don't need a Harley. Harleys are expensive and they're luxury goods. And this one hits closer to home for me, considering what company my employer supports.

Sure, the economy is doing great, isn't it?

* * *

I don't know if I have the ability to do this. I've always sucked at designing printed circuit boards. But the larger picture--

It used to be that knowing how to do things was much more important than having the piece of paper. Because of how things went after WW2, credentialism became the rule and many places won't even talk to you if you don't have the piece of paper, even though the piece of paper doesn't indicate anything other than the ability to attend classes and pass tests. But the pendulum always swings, and our society is beginning to move back to relying more on experience and capability.

This trend will continue, particularly because the pieces of paper are becoming ever more expensive while simultaneously losing all significance as indicators of capability.

* * *

Well, the interview went well, and I've been up for three hours. I'd better go catch some winks before Mrs. Fungus wakes up.
1:18 am
#4945: Ahh, my Friday at last.
Monday came and went. Work went smoothly enough, and my drive home was marred only by an idiot in a seriously shitty car who drives like a 12-year-old. (Car was shitty, I expect, because of how its owner drives.) And that minor irritation was obliterated by the way Mrs. Fungus greeted me when I got home.

Can't beat that.

I'm very nicely relaxed, now, and need only to get some sleep. Tuesday morning I have a job interview; I must not be late for it. Even though it's taking place in my computer room, via webcam.

Monday, October 19th, 2015
12:52 am
#4944: I do enjoy a quiet drive home.
It was marred only by the need to stop at the store for cat litter and a dinner-like substance.

...left work, didn't have any idiots to contend with, and was able to drive home spending most of my time in the right lane with the cruise holding my speed at 69 MPH. When someone in front of me was going slower, I was able to pass him without having to do anything fancier than signal and move over.

Very nice. Rare. Probably less rare as long as I'm getting off work as late as I am now. But I'll take it.

* * *

So, everyone in the media is shocked, shocked! that OMG the world might actually be cooling.

OMFG we might be headed for a "fifty year long ice age"! First off, ice ages don't last a mere 50 years. Fifty thousand years, maybe, if you're lucky. Fifty years is a cold snap.

Another Maunder minimum would be bad, economically speaking. Hope that's not happening. Hope instead that the econazis are actually right about the warming effects of CO2, because that's probably the only thing standing between us and decades of long, bitter winters if the sun's really going into an extended minimum.

Sadly, it's not the way to bet. Climatologists overestimate the effect CO2 has on warming, and underestimate the effect the change in solar insolation has on global temperature, and further desperately want to ignore the Svensmark hypothesis altogether.

But when it comes to climate heretics are burned at the stake. Failure to toe the warmista line is met with instant destruction.

...because it's propaganda, not science.

* * *

The US federal government is a bloated, useless, inefficient sack of crap. Fred Reed explains why, as eloquent as ever.

* * *

Things are not looking good for McDonald's. McDonald's problem is not that the food is bad--it isn't--but that their business model can only function for so long before it peters out. McDonald's is run on a scientific paradigm, where everything is a metric to be either maximized or minimized.

It's a truism that the last 10% of any improvement is the most difficult to attain, and the closer you get to 100% the steeper the hill becomes. McDonald's is well into that phase, and the market is simply not allowing any wiggle room for them any longer. Labor costs are being forced higher (by a left wing that doesn't want to be blamed for the collapse of the middle class) and there's simply no room for price increases; ordinarily a business can strive to improve efficiency, but when you've already done that, getting better is increasingly difficult. There's only so much juice you can get from a lemon.

The first result will be computerized kiosks for purchasing food. Eventually, if McDonald's lasts that long, their restaurants will be almost entirely automated, with one or two employees on duty to keep the machines running and to handle any unusual circumstances.

Serving breakfast at 3PM ain't gonna do it. (In fact, that only adds inefficiency back to the whole process, at a time when it cannot afford it.)

* * *

Holy smokes, look at that! I can stay up until 1 AM on Sunday night without suffering horrible consequences.

...but I'm going to bed pretty soon. I'm pretty tired.
[ << Previous 20 -- Next 20 >> ]
About LiveJournal.com