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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    Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
    6:36 pm
    #4269: It's time to stop being afraid.
    I've been too distracted by things to really discuss the events of three years ago, but considering how those things touch on the present distracting issues I suppose it was inevitable that I'd write something like this sooner or later.

    It's been three years since I got out of the psych ward, and through steady effort I've managed to fix a lot of what was wrong with my life in 2011 that led me to where I ended up. It took me a long time to get to that place; it's taken a long time to get as far out of it as I am. There's still a lot of work to do, but it's getting done, and the place I am now is vastly superior to any place I was ever in before.

    Part of the process has been for me to periodically revisit the blog posts from that time, and read through what was happening and what I was saying, and remember what I was going through, and compare it to what I've learned since then.

    The most important thing that I learned was that one reason I ended up in the psych ward was that I am afraid of my siblings.

    For years I've let them do whatever they want, talk to me however they choose, treat me however they like, all without saying anything. My sister, in particular, flies into a rage the instant I so much as say "boo" to her, and by now it's a conditioned reflex for me to cower. For quite a while my brother made it a habit to make masturbation jokes at my expense (yes, in front of our mother--real classy), which at least was an improvement over my childhood when he consistently referred to me only as "shithead".

    In recent years, then, I have been harangued because I went to a graduation party but didn't stay long enough; then because I decided not to go to one. When I politely declined my brother's self-invitation to visit at Christmas I was accused of "shunning" them. the same person who has never, never, ever invited me to anything other than his kids' parties and major holidays. A trip to Great America? Skiing in Wisconsin? A day at the lake? No--but if I don't show up for a graduation party I am the lowest of the low.

    The same person, I might add, who skipped his last aunt's funeral because "it's spring break" and "she knew we were going". She died at about 2 PM and they got on the road that day after 4 PM; they were in Arizona on the day of my aunt's funeral, riding motorcycles in the desert. That is perfectly acceptable, apparently.

    Last year was tough, financially. Several times during the year I told my siblings that I wasn't going to be able to pay the entirety of the property taxes on the bunker, as I had hoped to. I told them explicitly that we were going to need help.

    In November, then, we got an e-mail from my sister talking about "the co-owners" and saying that they'd been more than "understanding", but now we were faced with a choice: pay the entirety of the property tax now, move out by the due date, or sign a rental agreement "at market rates" to ensure that the property taxes were paid. (I solved that issue, and the denouement to that story is a whole other situation.)

    It was convenient for them to be "co-owners" when a bill had to be paid; but a month later my brother told me, "Ultimately, we are the only family we've got," when he wanted us to entertain him and his family on Christmas. Where was all that "family" stuff earlier? Why are we only "family" when it's convenient for them? Where was "family" when our sister sent us her ultimatum? Why didn't he stand up and say, "Hey, wait a minute, let's not be so draconian." Unless, that is, he was complicit? (And then be surprised we didn't want to see them for the holidays?)

    The house is far from rentable condition. Both bathrooms need work and it needs painting and-and-and; they couldn't rent this place out "at market rates" without fixing it up and no one has expressed any interest in getting that done. No one's said to me, "Hey, we want to start getting the house fixed up." What they have done is to make vague threats and otherwise do nothing.

    So after the e-mail ultimatum, then my brother called me the next Saturday and said, "I'm on my way down there so we can discuss this" and then was put out when I told him that both my wife and I had to go to work and weren't going to be there. From the way that conversation went I realized that they had (clumsily) tried to implement a "good cop bad cop" strategy.

    Here's a better strategy: "Look, we know that things have been pretty rough for you, but this bill must be paid. When can we sit down and discuss how we're going to fix this, and avoid similar problems in the future?" Instead of doing something like that, they decide what's to be done and it's up to me to toe the line.

    That's kind of the problem.

    So in May of 2011, one reason I was stuck in that avoid-avoid conflict--couldn't do the job in Rantoul, couldn't quit--was because I was afraid of how they would react, especially my sister. That fear was part of the reason I cut myself: I needed an escape hatch not just from my own expectations but from the fear of how my family would react.

    It's why my brother telling me, "We'll get you the help you need" was so surprising. That's not how my family functions; the cajolery and the implications that I was just being lazy were much more typical, as was his final appeal to authority ("I'm a doctor and I've studied this..." and the implication that I didn't know what I was talking about because I was a layman who was merely experiencing clinical depression).

    It's part of a larger pattern: they are successful and rich, and I am not, so therefore they are much smarter than I am, and I should therefore shut up and do as I'm told. (Basically an extension of "you're the youngest so shut up etc".) And whenever I try to change that, the reaction is always immediate and hostile, because that sort of reaction has always (or almost always) cowed me and forced me back into line.

    Well, it's time for that to end. It's past time for that to end.

    The only way to end it is for me to stand up and say, "No," quietly and firmly. (And not so quietly, as needed.) I do believe I've taken the first step on that road today. It was not easy, but it was not as hard as I'd feared it was. The latest imbroglio, ultimately, is entirely about them flexing their muscles and making me hop to their tune. Well, I don't have to do that, and as infurating as they may find it, I refuse to do it any longer.

    My sister was furious that I did not knuckle under, not to the temper tantrum, nor to the screaming, nor to the guilt trips, nor to the victim card, nor to any of the other tactics she always employs when someone dares to say "no" to her. I offered her a perfectly acceptable and reasonable alternative to her plan, and compromised with another perfectly acceptable and reasonable alternative...and even after I had agreed to the latter she still revisited her usual tropes in an attempt to bring me to heel. By standing up and saying, "Look, I don't care how mad you get; this is what I'm willing to do," I think I have taken an important step forward in my life.
    4:10 pm
    #4268: But that's sex, not politics, so it's okay!
    SFWA harbors child molestors. Vox Day's lifetime membership in SFWA was canceled because he said something they didn't like. Meanwhile, Edward E. Kramer--co-founder of DragonCon and convicted child molestor--is still a member. (To say nothing of the recent revelations regarding Marion Zimmer Bradley and Samual Delaney.)

    He sends a letter to the sitting SFWA president.

    In the latter link, commentor Dystopic nails it:
    The SFWA is no different than Joseph Stalin. Beria was known to do this sort of thing, Stalin even ensured that his daughter was never alone with the man. Yet Stalin did not care that Beria was the top man in the NKVD. As long as he was politically useful, he could rape and molest all he liked, and the Stalin government would keep a lid on it.

    It can seem difficult to draw a hard line between all conservatives and all liberals. Certainly, politics is more of a continuum than anything else. Yet, it may be appropriate to say one major dividing line is this. The Left subsumes everything to politics. If you have the appropriate politics, all is forgiven. If you don't, all stops will be pulled in an effort to destroy you.
    That's all there is to it. They don't care what you do as long as you vote the right way.

    Witness please Hollywood's reaction to Roman Polanski, convicted rapist. Whoopi Goldberg said it wasn't "rape-rape", after all, and a bunch of other noted Hollywood figures expressed support for Polanski.

    The left loves to tell us that "silence is consent" but the instant they are silent about one of their own being a skunk, suddenly it's an entirely different ball of wax.

    * * *

    Speaking of which, apparently the Orland Park Public Library is the place to go if you want to access the kidi pr0ns.

    The American Library Association has actively sought to prevent limits on what can be accessed via computers and network links at public libraries, up to and including child pornography. In light of that, the fact that the Orland Park Public Library is refusing to do anything to clamp down on such access is not terribly surprising.

    Problem is, it's against the law. Enforcing that law is the problem, though, because the people who are enabling the predators are the same ones charged with enforcing the law--and then the question becomes, "Who does this benefit?"

    That's what makes me leery about the whole story, right there: someone benefits from this, and I have a sneaking suspicion it's someone relatively important, someone who has "pull".

    * * *

    Meanwhile here's an article written by the mother of the kid who was critically injured by a flash-bang grenade in a pointless no-knock raid.


    * * *

    As for today, it's a sticky, humid day outside.

    As expected the immediate back yard was still a swamp yesterday afternoon--if the sod squelches when you walk on it, it's a swamp--but a further inspection revealed that the rest of the lawn was not, so I cut the front and the "east 40" and the sides, and left the back yard alone. The grass cut just fine and didn't clog the mower.

    I'm glad I did, because it rained again last night, for several hours.

    When it does finally dry out enough for me to cut the grass, it's going to be LONG, though. Well, I'll worry about that when I come to it.
    Monday, June 23rd, 2014
    4:02 pm
    #4267: Jumping the broom
    Saturday, one of Mrs. Fungus' friends got married, and we attended.

    We had plenty of advance notice (February) so there was no trouble about getting the time off. These people are black, so (to my surprise, though I'm not sure why that's so) the wedding ceremony included the bride and groom jumping over a broom.

    Big parties always stress me right the hell out. This has always been so--since I was a teenager at least--and when I go to one it's with the expectation that I'm going to be exhausted by the time I leave, and not a pleasantly "oh-I-had-such-a-good-time!" type of exhaustion, either. For me a big occasion like that is an ordeal to be gotten through.

    Saturday's experience was better than normal. When I saw that our table at the reception was 'way over in the corner, I was relieved; since neither of us really knew anyone there we didn't have to socialize a lot. The fact that I had no relatives there was a huge plus: no back-handed comments about my appearance or my weight or my job or my living situation or-or-or, which has come to be a major feature of any family gathering I attend. (My aunt's funeral, at least, had no such discussion, probably because it was a somber occasion.) Because of that, I actually enjoyed myself for once.

    Mrs. Fungus and I agreed that while the pomp and circumstance of a traditional wedding is nice, we still like our wedding best (though it would have been nice if we'd thought to hire a photographer). We did what was right for us, and that's what counts.

    * * *

    Bonus stress: the wedding itself was held in a church on the south side, in a section Dad commonly referred to as "shit city". It wasn't actually in the worst part of town; one time I had to drive through a really bad neighborhood, near Cook County Hospital, and this neighborhood was Beverly Hills by comparison. But Dad drummed it into our heads: avoid that area at all costs. The church parking lot had a fence around it and had cameras, the traditional reflexive "look for another white person" game was yielding no fruit, and I had to remind myself that we were leaving long before it got dark--and in fact it was a middle-class neighborhood with well-kept houses and the security measures were to guard against visitors from the really bad parts of town, which were a bus ride away. And of course I had to drive on the Damn Ryan to get there.

    I was at "condition orange" the entire time, except when we were in the church.

    The reception was held out in Burbank, on Cicero, a few miles north of 294, so that's how we got home.

    But nothing untoward happened and everything is fine.

    * * *

    I was going to cut grass today, but I think the weather has other ideas. There's a little bitty thunderstorm brewing up right to the southwest of here, what some weathermen call "popcorn showers", and it'll probably get the grass just wet enough that the extra-long grass will clog the mower and not cut nicely. *sigh*

    * * *


    Got a note saying my payment was past due, and I was all, "WTF? It should either be less or more than this, depending on what they're billing me for"--so I knew that I had to call them, and when I did the explanation would result in me saying "Ohhhh, yeah, that makes sense." I just didn't know what information would leave me in that state.

    Exactly as predicted, it makes perfect sense: my homeowner's and my motorcycle insurance are both billed monthly, so they combined them into one bill...and the total is exactly what I'd expect it to be. It's just that the note they sent me didn't explain any of that (it's essentially a printout of a computer screen) and so I didn't have all the information to figure out WTF was going on by myself.

    * * *

    Mrs. Fungus watches The Soup every week, and she's dragged me into it as well. This past week's episode featured a woman trying to pull a prank on her husband. She has a video camera all set and when he comes in the front door she starts hosing him down with Silly String. The idea is to capture a funny reaction of some kind and get a laugh out of his shock and surprise.

    Instead, he just stands there.

    His only reaction is just to stand there, looking at her with disgust--he video was kind of grainy so it was hard to tell, but I believe his expression approximated, "After the kind of day I've had, I come home to this? WTF."
    --and I thought that was just about the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. After a few moments he drops his helmet and walks out again, perhaps to go find a divorce lawyer or a shotgun.

    * * *

    Okay, on to the big stuff.

    Looks like we've been cooling since the 1930s. We would already have known this if the climate record hadn't been adjustered and fiddleated by people whose bread and butter relies on impending eco-doom. So they take actual real data (thermometer records) and replace it with simulated data that came from a computer program written by someone who wants man-made global warming to be real. (GIGO.)

    But watch what they do, rather than what they say: Greenpeace exec who works to curb air travel flies to and from home about twice a month. Does this look like someone who's worried about the planet? "My work is so important of course I need air travel, but the little people can get by with taking the train or walking." Yeah.

    * * *

    I honestly wish I were as poor as Hillary Clinton is. I know it's almost impossible to make ends meet in today's world when you only have $50,000,000 to your name, but I'd gladly trade places with her and suffer her life of grinding poverty. I'd do this because I am a noble altruist, and not because HILLARY CLINTON IS FULL OF SHIT AND HAS MORE FUCKING MONEY THAN CROESUS--

    * * *

    Filed under "decline of Western civilization":

    This tale is not atypical, unfortunately. The habitual drunk driver--someone who has multiple DUI arrests--is a very dangerous individual, because he doesn't care about breaking the law and will drive without license, registration, or insurance, and further will do it when he's so impaired that walking is a challenge for him.

    The woman mentioned in this article should have been in jail and detox a long time ago. Like the writer I am mystified that the cops simply let her go after she was stopped for going 120 MPH while obviously drunk. Then when she finally kills someone--an event as predictable as the tides, considering the trajectory she was obviously on--we're supposed to feel sorry for her because she's an alcoholic and was abused by her stepfather and-and-and?


    If you are capable of bearing children, you are a woman, regardless of how you self-identify. One of the most risible concepts from the left is that sex is a social construct. That's why they say "gender" instead; gender is a grammatical concept that is dependent on the structure of language, but sex is a biological fact and there is no getting around that.

    The "trans-agenda" means to redefine "traditional gender roles" such that people get to decide whether they are male or female--hence you have a surgical oddity proclaiming to be "male" even as SHE is bearing children. Yeah.

    Being "a woman born in a man's body" used to be considered nothing other than mental illness and was treated appropriately. I'm at a loss to understand why we have abandoned that; it doesn't make any sense to dilute traditional gender roles unless you have a larger agenda aimed at fundamentally remaking society into something that can be more easily controlled by the state. The traditional "nuclear" family has always been a stumbling block to totalitarianism, because people generally have much more loyalty to their immediate family than to any other entity.

    You can file this under "decline of Western civilization" because there are plenty of cultures in the world where a man claiming to be a woman, and dressing and acting like one, will be executed rather than coddled. (And don't even get me started on someone like "Thomas", who is biologically female and still capable of bearing children.) This mad desire that some have to tear down all the traditions and strictures of our culture is going to yield some awfully bitter fruit if we let them succeed.


    " An Alliance With the United States 'Isn't Worth Anything'". I'll blockquote Ace's blockquote:
    A Polish magazine said Sunday it has obtained recordings of a conversation in which Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski says the country's strong alliance with the U.S. "isn't worth anything" and is "even harmful because it creates a false sense of security."
    Ukraine thought they had an alliance with us, remember? Bill Clinton promised them we'd help them stave off invasion if only they'd get rid of their nasty nukes...only it turned out that the nasty nukes would have been a better choice.

    I don't know how any country can look at the last fifty years and conclude that it's a good idea to expect the US to do anything for them, treaties and alliances notwithstanding. We've ignored or blown off a crapton of obligations, and each time they've come back to bite us on the ass--yet the next time we've done exactly the same damned thing, over and over and over again.

    Vietnam--we stopped supporting the South Vietnamese; then we were surprised that we had to GTFO of Saigon, and were dismayed at Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge and the killing fields of Cambodia and the boat people and-and-and.

    Iran--we stopped supporting the Shah, who we'd installed and who was pro-US...then were surprised and dismayed that "students" seized our embassy and held our people hostage for more than a year while their country turned anti-US; and we were further dismayed to find that our non-response encouraged

    Widespread islamic terrorism--it was widespread in the early 1980s and a lot of American and pro-US targets got hit before Ronald Reagan had the Air Force bomb Libya in 1986. (And the liberals were all screeching in fear that there'd be "retaliation", yet islamic terror attacks on US targets stopped for many years afterwards.)

    Gulf War I--instead of prosecuting the war to its logical conclusion, we stopped at getting Iraq out of Kuwait. That just set the stage for

    The Clinton Years--when numerous islamic terror attacks including a truck bomb in the World Trade Center only prompted a few random cruise missiles and blowing up an aspirin factory in Sudan, because foreign policy was a lot less interesting to Bill Clinton than diddling interns in the Oval Orofice and finding new and creative ways to use cigars. And Clinton's non-responses led us to

    9/11 and Gulf War II--where we managed to keep islamic terror's attention focused on a place that was not America for quite a while, and we routed (however temporarily) the people responsible for 9/11. But that didn't last because

    Obama--who campaigned on getting us out of Iraq, and who has not only abandoned Iraq to the wolves but also gave Russia a pass on invading Ukraine, tried to support a would-be dictator's (anti-US) coup in South America, supported the Iranian regime (anti-US) over the desires of its people for an honest election, abandoned US support for Mubarak (pro-US) in Egypt, and has consistently snubbed Israel (pro-US) in favor of Palestine (anti-US).

    Is it any wonder, then, that Japan is working on revising its constitution so they can have a real military again? (Rather than a "Self-Defense force"?) The other nations of the world have to expect that when push comes to shove any agreements that the US formerly entered into is going to be ignored or forgotten. What I don't understand is how any of the NATO countries can think they're different? Poland's foreign minister certainly seems to understand what the situation is. I wonder how many others think the same thing, and simply weren't caught saying so near a recording device?

    Can you blame them? I cannot.

    * * *

    The only reason I don't talk about Cuba? I don't know enough about it. I'd bet money that Castro's seizure of Cuba was something we could have prevented if we had simply taken an interest in it, but of course Batista Was A Very Bad Man And Had To Go, and if the country fell to communism That Was Just Too Bad Because The People Want It That Way. Except in communist revolutions the people almost never actually want communism; certainly they do not want the kind of government they end up getting, which is universally worse than what came before. Socialism is sold on its egalitarian and equalitarian principles, but socialism has never, never, ever lived up to those principles; it fails every time its tried because those principles are lies. The guiding purpose of communism is that a lucky few control everyone else. It's about power, not equality.

    * * *

    I take exception to one of his mitigating factors. The writer says that while 2014 looks a lot like 1914 we should be encouraged by some differences, one being:
    Collective Memory: We know the graphic horrors of full-scale war better than our 1914 forebears did. Some of these leaders truly relished the idea of war, even imagining it romantically and entering it confidently, assuming it could only go on so long. History had taught them wrong.
    This itself is a romantic notion that "oh, we're so much more enlightened today than were those beknighted fools back then!" It's horseshit; we are just as stupid and headstrong as any humans in history, and any casual review of just the last fifty years (like I just did a couple vignettes ago) can demonstrate that.

    The only real deterrent to full-scale war--among those that he lists--is the existence of nuclear weapons. And even that isn't as big a deterrent as he'd like to think; there are plenty of idiots around these days who'd welcome an atomic bomb in the face if it meant dealing a serious blow to America.

    * * *

    Yesterday, at work, I spent a little money on an impulse buy, and I'm glad I did.

    I bought a USB cable for charging my cell phone--but this cable has LEDs in it and it lights up. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that when the phone is charging, or during data access, the LEDs "chase", which is really neat.

    List price is $20 (which is more than I paid of course) and I'm not decided on whether or not this is $20 worth of "neat", but it's certainly worth what I paid for it.

    If only they had regular USB cables like this....
    Sunday, June 22nd, 2014
    9:21 pm
    #4266: I'd better make some tacos soon.
    Mrs. Fungus bought a taco kit today, so I know what that means. Heh.

    * * *

    I was hoping to get the grass cut tomorrow. Yesterday was Monsoon Day here in the Fungal Vale--as well as Thursday being Monsoon Day--so the grass has grown precipitously. I had to work today, so naturally we had no rain all day and rather pleasant weather...but now I see on the radar that we have more rain coming in, and rain is predicted every day until Wednesday. *sigh*

    Anyone know where a man can rent a herd of goats?

    * * *

    Along with Monsoon Day we had a couple of power failures. We weren't home for the first one, but the second happened after Mrs. Fungus had gone to bed, and the juice was off for a couple of hours. I was surprised that we didn't have a power failure during the big storm on Thursday.

    Incidentally, I've happened to notice that in none of the really big blows we've had in the past year did the birdbath fall over, the way it did shortly after we got it. (Last paragraph of that post.)

    I am beginning to be convinced that some asshat blundered into the thing and knocked it over. I don't know who, or why he was in my back yard, but owing to the fact that I've seen it withstand some high winds--winds that did not precede the fall of the thing a few days after we got it--I am forced to conclude that some idiot ran into it and knocked it over.

    Well, I guess we'll never know.

    On the plus side, the repair I made to the thing continues to be watertight, so I've got that going for me.

    * * *

    Now to make tacos!
    Friday, June 20th, 2014
    10:34 pm
    #4265: Come to think of it....
    On my way home from work today I was thinking about how I always say that our government is running the printing presses at "emergency maximum". The fact is, the government is printing so much new money it would be impossible actually to print it all. What they're doing in fact is hitting a few keys on a keyboard and the money magically appears in bank accounts.

    If it wasn't a matter of shifting electrons around, they couldn't do it.

    ...and wouldn't it be nice if we could get away with doing that kind of shit?

    * * *

    Somehow I managed to get through the entire blogroll without finding anything worth blogging about, so here's this: 15 things millennials accept as fact.

    I'm calling attention to #9, "GAYS LEAD THE SAME LIVES WE DO"
    I’ve heard Jon Stewart say this and it often comes up when discussing gay marriage and adoption. Do any of these people know any fags? They are perfectly wonderful human beings with whom I spend much of my time, but they are also hair-whiteningly decadent. They call me an amateur for having participated in a couple threesomes. They’ve had dozens of eightsomes.
    "Hair-whiteningly decadent". Yeah. This really isn't a surprise to anyone who, y'know, has actually read anything about the behavior of homosexuals that doesn't sugar-coat and politically correctify things.

    I just wanted to point that out. (What gays do in private is their own affair and I would never dream of telling them they can't do it. Still, because I refuse to accept the myths, I am considered a homophobe. Yeah.)

    The rest of his list is equally correct.

    * * *

    The other day I was thinking about life on Titan. Some folks have suggested that life there might be hydrocarbon-based (like Earth life is based on amino acids and proteins); there's a sentence fragment stuck in my brain about "the diesel trees of Titan". So I was giving some thought to what that life might look like.

    If anything had bones, the bones could be made from paraffin or other waxes. At the surface temperature on Titan (-179°C) paraffin would be rock hard, more than hard enough to be structural in Titan gravity (about 0.14 G, roughly 1/8th Earth gravity).

    Not much light gets to the surface, so a hydrocarbon-based plant analogue would probably photosynthesize with radio waves instead of visible light. There ought to be enough RF energy hitting Titan to sustain cryogenic life, though it wouldn't be as energetic as terrestrial life (by a long shot). Saturn just doesn't emit radio like Jupiter does, but it's still got plenty of energy to throw around. Titan also has a relatively hot core, so thermal energy would be another source of energy for life to take advantage of, like deep sea thermal vents.

    There probably has not been enough time since the formation of the solar system for sentient life to have evolved on Titan; it's simply too cold and there isn't enough energy in its biosphere. (Assuming it has a biosphere.) But if it did--

    I imagined what a native's reaction would be to a manned mission from Earth landing there. First off, the lander would be too hot for them to get close to--even with the kind of insulation that would keep the interior at 70° on a planet with an average temperature somewhere near -300° the thing would still radiate waste heat that would be vaporizing-hot to a native of Titan. (Kind of like what would happen if a silicon-based lifeform landed here on Earth: their ship would have to be made of something that doesn't melt at 700° F, and we couldn't get too close to the thing without dying.)

    Visible light might be dangerous to them, like x-rays and gamma rays are to us. Same reason--their bodies aren't built to deal with photons that have such high energies, because they simply don't exist in their biosphere, and the chemistry that makes up their metabolism could easily be photophobic.

    They might be able to attack and injure humans wearing environment suits, though from a distance because the e-suits would also radiate waste heat. For projectiles, the natives could work water ice the way our forebears once worked flint. Heck, they might even have the ability to melt and cast stuff from water; at -300° ice is pretty strong, though--again--liquid water would be dangerously hot to them. (We work with molten metals all the time, so it's not impossible.) No idea if the natives would do so, though, as I haven't gotten as far as thinking about their psychology or anything. Why would they attack humans? Could the humans have thoughtlessly killed some of them by landing there? Or would the natives just run away from the searing hot thing that came down from above, spitting random death?

    It's mainly just fun stuff to occupy my brain while I'm trying to get to sleep, but you never know; I might end up with a story from this.

    * * *

    While looking up a few facts to write that last bit, I happened across a cross-section of Saturn. Apparently there's a layer which consists of "helium rain". How awesome is that? (Jupiter has a similar layer, but it's helium and neon.)

    * * *

    Apparently a little bit of astronomy goes a long way.
    Thursday, June 19th, 2014
    10:11 pm
    #4264: Quite a gullywasher.
    Yesterday Mrs. Fungus and I had gotten some of our errands done and were having dinner, and as we were finishing the old gut sounded the warp core breach alarm, which pretty much did for the rest of our errands.

    Whatever it was that got me, it was enough to suck all the energy right out of me. We got home and I slept for a few hours, yet was more than ready to go to bed at our regular bedtime; and today I have been up and down all day but when "down" I've been sleeping.

    It does mean that I've got quite a lot of errands left to do, and won't be able to attend to several of them until Monday since my weekend is booked. Argh etc.

    Still, I think I can safely drive the truck without a spare for a day or two, and nothing that I have to attend to is an emergency.

    As I started this post, though, we were in the middle of a severe thunderstorm, which is what finally cudgled my butt out of bed; and after it stopped raining I took a quick look around the bunker to make sure everything was still secure. It is, but for one branch from the tree in front; I dragged that down to the curb. The back yard is a swamp, of course, which means I won't be cutting the grass before next week. Argh etc.

    The other thing:

    With Cephiro, I had Windows Mail set up to automatically fetch my e-mails. I didn't need to remember my password for that account, so't, and when I stopped using Cephiro I stopped having access to my Comcast account. And it was so chaotic the day we got cable here at the bunker (Mrs. Fungus had moved in a scant few days earlier) I didn't make a note of the password in the usual place I keep such things, and I didn't call Comcast for a password reset because I just had too much else going on to be on hold waiting for tech support for three hours. But today I found where I'd written it down! --and immediately wrote it down in the appropriate place, so this isn't likely to happen again any time soon.

    Turns out the "like it or lump it" visit from my oldest sister (this sister) was prompted by a surprise birthday party, planned for my uncle by his daughter on the 6th of July. Why she couldn't have just said so when I called her about her texts ("I'm coming to stay that weekend, send me a key."--more or less) is beyond my capacity. What part of "MY E-MAIL ACCESS IS DOWN" don't these people understand?

    Still: I slowly inch closer to having everything set up correctly, though I'm not going to plug all the stuff into this machine's e-mail client until I've done the restore on this system.

    I guess that's gonna have to do.

    * * *

    Over the past few days I reread Kiss X Sis on my Nook, because I don't want to access of the trojans!--until I have NoScript set up on this system. Other than a few browser bobbles it worked fine, and because the story has been trickling out of the scanlators it's too long between chapters and I forgot a lot of the background.

    Keita's romance with Kiryuu-sensei was a very careful development by the artist, and whenever the progression of their relationship is interrupted by happenstance it never feels contrived. (Unlike that scene in Umi no Misaki where the male lead, age 18, loses his boner because it started going towards the wrong "port".) It has, however, kept them from "getting jiggy wit it" for quite a while, which makes sense as you don't want to relieve the romantic tension in a romance series. (Even if--or particularly when--it's also a harem series.)

    I don't know how long this can go on, but I expect it'll go on as long as people keep reading the series in Japan. I would like to see Keita and Kiryuu-sensei get married, but before that can happen there have to be about four other girls who are woefully disappointed.

    I must add for the sake of clarity that I think Kiryuu-sensei is his best choice--even if she is his homeroom teacher and six years older than he--and I do believe the artist wanted us to root for her. Miharu would be his second-best choice; the other three girls, including his step-sisters, would be sub-optimal at best. He should not end up with either of his step-sisters in any case.

    Still: it's a good story and worth re-reading.

    * * *

    Anyway, Mrs. Fungus and I just got home from shopping and a dinner out that celebrated the 2nd anniversary of our first date.

    By now it seems as if we've been together all our lives, and we both have trouble imagining how we managed to live without each other. "Can you believe that there was a time before we were together?" Mrs. Fungus asks me about every other week.

    It does seem kind of improbable.

    * * *

    Tonight I finally got the filter for the washing machine changed.

    We've been using, for some time now (years) a whole-house filter to keep rust out of the washing machine. The water in the Fungal Vale is well water. People around here say that the water is horrible, though I've never had a problem with it. (Of course I was raised on it.) But the rust is a perennial problem, and years ago I had the idea of putting a whole-house filter in the water supply line to the washer, and it works splendidly.

    Until recently. Some of my white shirts have come out with rust stains--despite the filter--and once you get rust stains in a white shirt, well, that's about it. The filter itself had not been changed for quite a while, and so I set out to see if the filter we had was the right one and if I could in fact change it.

    First: turn off the valve. The valve was crusty and refused to turn, and I was afraid to put too much force on it lest I break something--but it popped loose and I was able to close it. Then I had to unscrew the filter housing, but it wouldn't budge, so I left it until we got back from dinner and shopping.

    With a pair of channel locks I unscrewed both hose fittings, then took it to the garage, clamped the top in the vise, and hit the dogs on the side with a hammer and drift. That knocked it loose, and after that it was easy-peasy to finish swapping the filter element. The old filter was nass-T, which is not surprising considering how long it's been in there. Put everything back together, turned on the water--no leaks--started a cycle in the washing machine, and everything is good. (There is a wrench for the filter housing around here somewhere. Good luck finding it.)

    So I'm going to have to find more filter cartridges, but I think we have at least a year before I really need a replacement--and from now on I'm going to try to change the damned things at least annually. Hopefully that'll obviate the need for more new shirts.

    * * *

    While Mrs. Fungus and I were eating sushi, more thunderstorms roared through. It also looks like it'll be a fairly rainy night tonight.

    What a pity--we have to go to sleep on a rainy night. Oh how we suffer.
    Wednesday, June 18th, 2014
    4:12 pm
    #4263: Now THAT is a sandwich.
    Marconi's roll, beef, ham, cheese, mayo, onion. I don't know if it's a dagwood or a club, but it tastes as good as anything you'd get from a shop.

    * * *

    Last night was the first real summer night we've had this year. I'm still trying to zero in on keeping the bunker cool without running the AC constantly, but I think I'm getting there--the thermostat is set to 75° and it's comfortable. Ideally I'd like to get to the point that I can set it to 78° when we're both out, but that's going to take some doing and I want to be sure I can get it back down to 75°-ish in our bedroom even when it's blazing hot outside.

    The weather site is on crack at the moment, reporting it to be 72 and clear with a humidity of 36. It's none of that; it's like a soggy electric blanket outside and I can't see any blue sky, either.

    * * *

    Feynman observed that people don't change their safe combinations from the factory setting because they think having a safe means their stuff In this case, some kids were able to hack an ATM because the bank never changed the passwords, and the manual listed the defaults.

    Not just Feynman (Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!) but Clifford Stoll (The Cuckoo's Egg) made the same observation: people get a new computer (mainframe), install it, and never change the root password from the factory defaults, which make it pathetically easy for a hacker to get into the system.

    You can bet that the Bank of Montreal will now institute some kind of policy for ATM passwords. Lucky for them the hackers that found the breach were more interested in the technical challenge than stealing money....

    * * *

    IRS covering up the big scandal where they targeted conservative groups. It's laughable for them to say that a hard drive crash just happened to bomb out all the e-mails that would demonstrate the extent of collusion between IRS and White House.

    That the Democrats use IRS as a political weapon is not really in doubt; this kind of thing happened--albeit on a smaller scale (allegedly)--during the Clinton years. But of course the press is almost totally uninterested in such a story, because none of their boys were targeted.

    * * *

    What we have lost. Borepatch embeds a clip of Frank Zappa on the Steve Allen show in 1964. Frank Zappa is playing the bicycle--in what turns out to be an amazing mishmash of noise rather than actual music, which I found slightly disappointing; it would have been much more interesting if he'd played real harmonic music on the thing rather than using it to add noise to a larger cacophony.

    But notice what Frank Zappa is wearing: a suit and tie, with neatly-cropped hair. He's presentable!

    I'm just as guilty as everyone else is of lowering their standards of what is acceptable dress for polite company. It used to be that you'd never appear on TV (as yourself) in jeans and sneakers and a t-shirt, but these days it's pretty much "anything goes".

    The shift to more casual clothing is not a bad thing, but there are certain areas wherein it is. I think a little decorum goes a long way, but we've abandoned even that little.

    * * *

    Well, we have errands to run, and they're not going to get done with me sitting here in front of the keyboard. Whee!
    3:51 pm
    #4262: Foreign policy for dummies
    I've been saying this for a LONG time. About thirty years, in fact. In the 1980s the news media breathlessly reported every single anti-US demonstration in Europe as if it were a continent-wide repudiation of America, and since the American news media consisted solely of CBS-NBC-ABC-NYT there was no one saying, "By the way, the protest was about fifty people on a street corner, but you can't see that in the mainstream coverage because of the camera angles." So I really don't know how widespread the anti-American sentiment was in Europe in the 1980s, but I'd wager that it wasn't nearly as bad as protrayed.

    Even so, I rapidly adopted the attitude that if they didn't want us there, we should leave...and take all our money with us. Let Europe handle its own self-defense; we couldn't take the actual military bases with us so they'd have plenty of infrastructure to fill with their own troops, guns, tanks, aircraft, and so on.

    At their own expense.

    Against the backdrop of the Cold War that was really not such a brilliant plan. Absent the American military presence in Europe, the USSR would have steamrollered Europe and communism would have lasted a couple more decades. Further, the governments of Europe knew which side of their bread contained the butter, which is why there was never a serious move towards ousting the US military. It was the European communists who wanted the US out of Europe so the USSR could take over, and they were a bare minority.

    It's less of an issue now, I think. Russia is still looking to expand its hegemony (see "Ukraine") but they can't go about it the way they used to. I've read opinion pieces which suggested that Russia is, as a regional power, just about on its last legs, mainly due to birthrate contraction and other factors which are devilishly difficult to control. Ukraine's biggest error was trusting the US to protect them and giving up their nuclear weapons; if they had ignored Clinton's suggestions (which were about nothing other than making Bill Clinton look good) Russia would not have been able to invade now, not without risking serious retaliation.

    Which brings me to this piece by Mark Steyn about how the US handles wars and international agreements. "Treacherous as a friend" is a damning phrase, and it very neatly encapsulates most of US foreign policy since the 1970s.

    Iraq reminds some older folks of Saigon in 1975, and they're not wrong...and for much the same reason: the US pulled all support for a client state which was beseiged by enemies, and said client state collapsed soon after.

    South Vietnam only needed materiel support to keep the Viet Cong at bay. They'd repulsed other attempts and could have prevented the fall of Saigon if the United States had sent them the stuff they needed...but a Democrat Congress decided not to send any aid. Nixon (who had been strong, before Watergate) had been ousted, and Ford was weak, so there was no way to keep the anti-communists afloat. They didn't need troops, primarily; they needed guns, and bullets, and first aid kits, and K-rations, and whatever else an army runs on. They didn't get it, the Viet Cong (bankrolled by USSR and China) steamrolled over them, and Vietnam went entirely communist.

    Carter oversaw the fall of the Shah of Iran--another Democrat abandoning support for a pro-American government in a hostile area--giving us the Ayatollah and the "students" that seized the American embassy in Tehran. And then doing nothing in response to an act of war. The Shah was a skunk, but he was better than what replaced him, and the most charitable thing I can say about Carter's foreign policy is that it was incompetent.

    These displays of weakness towards enemies and treachery towards friends has been the hallmark of Democrat foreign policy since Johnson left office. Johnson was a socialist but at least he understood the concept of self-defense (and also that your enemies will call you a "bully" if you get too strong, and your best strategy is to ignore them because they're your enemies). Nixon ("socialist-lite" country-club Republican) understood the dangers of communism, better than most since he was weaned at McCarthy's knee in the 1950s; he understood that the worst thing you could do was to let your enemies set the rules of engagement. (Which is why he gave the order to bomb the areas which had formerly been agreed upon as "no-bomb" zones.)

    It's not a coincidence that terror attacks on American targets all but ceased after Reagan had the Air Force bomb Tripoli in 1986. Bush oversaw the first Gulf War; he was squishy but still had enough understanding of the opposing forces that he knew playing nice was not going to fix anything.

    Clinton? Clinton thought lobbing a few cruise missiles was enough. As stated he oversaw the Ukraine giving up its nukes: "Sure, fellas! We'll halp y'all if you need it, but ya gotta give up them nuclear weapons first." ...and of course when push came to shove twenty years later, Obama was all, ", we can't, uh, get involved in an internal, uh, dispute, which anyway was, uh, um, brought about by, uh, a, uh, um, er, referendum for independence...." Particularly not when his secretary of state Hillary Clinton had taken the reset button to Russia.

    All of which left us primed and ready for 9/11: the terrorists were used to operating in an environment where the US didn't respond to terror attacks (and was thus "weak"). Prior to 9/11 the worst consequences they suffered was when Clinton decided it was time to expend a few Tomahawks. Since the terror cells were mobile this usually amounted to rearranging some landscape and killing a few people who may or may not have been involved in the terror attacks that prompted the reprisal (and who were always reported as being terrorists, because (D) in White House).

    9/11--I still think that the islamic terror community must have shit itself over what happened, once they finished celebrating and saw the terrible resolve that gripped the US. But now that Obama declared the "war on terror" to be over, and pulled troops from Iraq, now it's all going back.

    The greatest failing of foreign policy in our modern era is that we have forgotten what war is for. It's not to bring democracy to the world; you cannot force a society to join the rest of us in the 21st century. If you wish to win a war, you first have to crush the enemy's will to fight; if you are trying to build water treatment plants but you are still taking casualties the war is not over. So what happened in Iraq is, in fact, the US almost won, then left.


    The first time was in 1991; the second was last year. Both times we left an enemy behind who was emboldened by our apparent inability to finish the job.

    ...because if we did it right, the rest of the world would call us "bullies". And just as our abandonment of SOuth Vietnam in 1975 led to mass graves, so does our abandonment of Iraq lead to mass graves. Odd how no one decries the communists or the islamists as "bullies" even as they butcher people by the thousands or millions solely because they supported the pro-US regime.

    The lack of will to win--to cause the kind of devastation and death that a victory would entail--is what is keeping us in this mode of treachery and harmlessness. In 1979, when "students" seized the US embassy in Tehran, our response should have been immediate and incomprehensibly violent. In 1975, we should not have abandoned Saigon to communists. In 1986, Reagan did exactly the right thing when he had Tripoli bombed. In 1991, Bush I started to do exactly the right thing, but then lost his nerve and gave up before ousting Saddam Hussein. His son did a better job, but declared victory too soon, and made the mistake of trying to democratize people who had no interest in democracy. And Obama, of course, pulled the US out of Iraq entirely, setting the stage for the islamic totalitarians to take over again.

    We should never try to democratize a place we are not taking as a colony. Send the troops in to kill people and break things, and once that's done, leave. If we're not going to fight to win we shouldn't start fighting; certainly we shouldn't smash the infrastructure, then switch to defensive fighting only while we fix what we broke. If we have to do that, then the war wasn't a just one in the first place and we shouldn't have been fighting it.

    The war in Iraq was a good choice for one reason: it kept the attention of islamic terror focused on a place which was not the United States. Now that Iraq is falling to the savages, you can expect terror attacks elsewhere. Otherwise, our involvement there was a bad idea.

    We can't fix what's wrong with the middle east. Here's what we can do:
    1) Stop depending on terrorist countries for oil. We have enough of our own. This requires an energy policy which is not based on feelings and unicorn flatus, but it's a hard world.

    2) If we're not dependent on the middle east for oil, we don't have to worry about what they're doing. We can support Israel unashamedly as the only true democratic nation in the region, and whose interests are usually aligned with ours.

    3) When someone hits us, or our interests abroad, we hit back twice as hard. We invite people who decry us as "bullies" to osculate our posterior, and never apologize.

    4) If we go to war, we go with the knowledge that the results are going to be pretty frickin' horrible and resolve to win regardless. Knowing in advance that just about everyone in the world is going to try to depict us as the bad guys, we go in to win it, to the point of sowing the land with salt--and then we leave afterward. (This is meant to be a deterrent to war, so that we only war when it's absolutely necessary or someone commits an act of war against us first. See above, "Tehran".)

    5) We stop being policemen to the entire firkin' world. We help with humanitarian crises but it's not our responsibility to fix what's wrong within other countries.
    I could go on, but I don't think I need to; basically I think we should be largely isolationist; we should help our friends (but be very wary of foreign entanglements) and be ruthless with our enemies.

    Instead of the other way around.
    Tuesday, June 17th, 2014
    5:24 pm
    #4261: Sleeping in is a luxury these days.
    I spent some time reading through old Fungus posts from summer of 2011. Nearly every post talks about the odd hours I used to keep, back then. I don't keep hours like that since getting married and rejoining the workforce; I don't have time.

    Except once in a long while.

    Today I woke up on the early side, stayed up for a little while reading manga on-line, and then went right back to bed and slept some more. It's still less extreme than staying up until 7 AM and sleeping all day, but it's more sleep in one day than I've had for a little while.

    The grass still needs cutting, and I really need to find a tire or two for the Jeep...but that can wait until tomorrow, I think. And the bike still needs its maintenance, but I can do that practically any time I like.

    I'd better enjoy this kind of thing while I can, because sooner or later my hunt for a full-time job will yield fruit and I'll be working five days a week. I'm hoping to get a job with a regular, set schedule--preferably 9-5 M-F--but we'll see what comes. (Bonus points if it's not in retail.)

    ...but we're still in a depression and the Fungal Vale is in one of the most blue of blue states. (Mrs. Fungus joked that we ought to consider moving to New Jersey, and I replied that NJ is one of the few states which is worse than the Peoples' Demokratik Republik of Illinoistan.) Where they are drilling for oil/gas (like North Dakota) Walmart pays $17 an hour, though I shudder to think of what housing costs in such places--law of supply and demand--and have no idea how to go about starting a job search from several states away. But I have to believe that there'd be jobs for tech guys like me; and if not, there'd be something I could do that would pay the bills, and handily. (And attend the local junior college's welding program at nights....)

    Once I do have a full-time job, though, my time off is going to be more limited than it is now; and since that's the lot of all men, I'd better get used to it.

    Heck, I don't even mind, to be honest.

    * * *

    Here there be spoilers. Vox Day talks about Game of Thrones and the comments continue to do so. The really nice thing is, they limit themselves to what has been shown on TV, so there aren't any real spoilers as long as you've seen the TV show.

    There are several warnings not to read further than book 3 of the series, because the books aren't as good as the show. I agree with this--I even foung the first three to be unbearably plodding in spots--yet I'm going to read book 4. Whee!

    * * *

    Anyway, though today has ended up being a day of rest, I still have to think about what to cook for dinner. Off I go!
    Monday, June 16th, 2014
    6:49 pm
    #4260: How was your lunch? I had a flat tire.
    Today was one of the few days where I had a scheduled lunch break, and so I went to get some Wendy's. Truck had flat tire; I didn't realize it until I'd moved the truck. *sigh*

    I don't know if it went flat because of the 3" gash in the sidewall, or if the gash came from moving the truck on a totally flat tire. Regardless, the tire is ruined and I'm going to need a new one.

    Changing the tire consumed most of my lunch break. (Bonus points for doing it in 90° weather in full Geek Squad regalia.) Lunch ended up being two double stacks, eaten on the way back to the store from Wendy's, because I didn't have time for more.

    So--one of the tasks I get to deal with over the next few days is trying to find some tires for the truck. Hopefully I can find some decent used ones. Just a couple would do me, I think, for the time being. I'll have to make some phone calls tomorrow and see if I can locate any. Whee.

    Other than the flat tire it was a pretty fair dinkum day at work today. The AC was actually on so the store wasn't an oven when I got there (about 5 minutes early) and it remained a reasonable temperature all day.

    ...and I lack the energy for further comment.
    Sunday, June 15th, 2014
    10:41 pm
    #4259: Damn, was that thing full of crud. Again.
    Yesterday I took advantage of the nice weather to do some maintenance on the motorcycle.

    First up: adjust the chain tension. It's been slapping, which means it got too loose. I adjusted the tension, got it locked down, and then took the chain off to clean it. Spun the rear wheel, and it went d-d-r-r-r--it was rubbing against the chain guard, in just one spot with each revolution, which meant I had to re-do it.

    Took the chain and first sprayed it down with WD-40 and flexed each link to get the crud out. Once I'd limbered up the entire chain I then rinsed it off with laquer thinner, swishing a 6" segment through the solvent at a time. Once done, the container I'd been working in had a layer of rust and dirt on the bottom, though not as thick as the last time I did this.

    Once the chain was clean, I dumped motor oil on it (as directed by the service manual) and let it drip until most of the excess was off. Put the chain back on, was too tight. *sigh*

    That'll teach me: clean and re-lube the chain first, then adjust the tension. It's just far enough out of proper adjustment that I don't want to ride it until it's fixed, and I won't be able to do that before Monday evening at the earliest.

    But I'll get the chain adjusted right, and adjust the clutch, and do a few other things (and see if I can get the tach working again) and then we'll be all set for another season of riding.

    * * *

    Game of Thrones had its season finale tonight, and damn. Not gonna issue any spoilers here, but it was a heck of an ending.

    Now, GoT is impressively nihilistic. In this series all sorts of bad things happen to good people, and the gooder they are, the badder are the things that happen to them. You can tell who is doomed to die a horrible fuckin' death just by plotting his alignment on the old D&D alignment table: the further up and to the left on that chart a person fits, the more likely it is that he's going to die. The worst people are safe as houses.

    I am holding out hope that the entire reason everything is going black is in order to make the good guys' triumph even better. That would be fine, because the worse you make the world look before everything starts turning around, the better the story is. (Jim Butcher is an expert at this, which is why Dresden Files books are a must-read for me. Ditto for Fairy Tail, which uses exactly the same technique.) I am hoping that George Martin is just making everything as bad as possible before the good guys start turning the thing around. It would be masterful if the last book in the series was a triumph for the good guys and the white walkers were destroyed and peace and prosperity returned to the Seven Kingdoms.

    I am informed, however, that it's not the way to bet.

    The planned arc is seven novels long, though Martin has recently suggested that he might make it eight instead. There are six extant novels now (IIRC) and if there are no signs of a turnaround in even the latest one, it would mean the seventh would have to be a humdinger of a story to pull the world of Westeros back from the brink. The general comments on the series suggest that has not yet happened. (Maybe that's why we haven't seen it; he's written himself into a corner: "How the hell do get out of this shit?")

    If Martin is writing a doom story, one that chronicles in loving detail how the civilization of Westeros fails and the race of men descends into unrelenting savagery and everyone freezes to death in permanent winter in the end, this is probably exactly where we could expect to be about halfway through the damned thing.

    I am told that--at this point--the TV series is a synthesis of the novels, with some things being changed from the books' telling. Some folks have suggested that Martin may let the TV series finish the story, rather than him writing new novels (except perhaps after the fact) because that makes him more money anyway.

    Either way, it's about ten months until the next new episode, and I've been given leave to read the next book in the series. That's how it is.

    * * *

    Well, I'd say it's officially summer: it's 77° outside at 10:30 PM. Yep. Summer.

    Haven't seen one firefly yet, though.
    Saturday, June 14th, 2014
    11:06 am
    #4258: Who gives a rat's ass?
    Yesterday was Friday the 13th and we had a full moon, and--as just about everyone in the universe remarked--it was The Last Time There Will Be a Full Moon On Friday The 13th Until 2049.

    And? So what?

    There is nothing particularly special about the 13th of a month falling on a Friday. Full moons--while pretty--are even less remarkable since one happens about every 29.5 days. What, then, is so special about the juxtaposition?

    As far as I can tell, nothing. I find it unlikely that someone is going to tell his grandchildren in 2035, "I saw the full moon on Friday the 13th in 2014!" while they listen in wide-eyed wonder. No one is going to be writing retrospectives in 5, 10, 20 years or asking people, "Hey, where were you when there was a full moon on Friday the 13th?"


    * * *

    As for me, "the weird stuff" yesterday confined itself to the copier's control panel jamming.

    I was at work, trying to make a copy of a service order because no one ordered label paper and we ran out, so now we have to cut out bar codes and tape them to things until we get a supply of label paper in. (And it's special paper so we can't just go to OfficeMax or something, of course.) I put the SO on the scan bed, lowered the lid, and hit the copy button...and the machine proceeded to churn out several copies. Thinking someone had used the thing and the quantity hadn't reset yet, I tried to cancel the job, but it just re-scanned and kept on going, so I hit cancel again, and it re-scanned, and What the hell is going on here?

    After some confused fumbling I tried pressing the button again, and found that it was stuck in the down position; I rapidly freed it and the copier stopped misbehaving.

    On the way home, hours later, I was trying to figure out how the hell that could happen with modern electronics. Switches in high-speed circuits--especially simple pushbuttons--need to be "debounced", because when you press a button it actually makes several brief contacts before settling into contact, and a circuit which has a very fast response time will see several presses of the button rather than one. (Your keyboard, for example, contains debounce logic, else typing "toast" would come out as "ttttttooooaaaaaaaaaasssssssstttttt" or the like.) The debounce logic (usually a flip-flop or a Schmitt trigger) ensures that no matter how many times the button appears to be pressed in a single cycle of the switch, only one press will be registered.

    When I thought about it, though, I realized a few things. The switch might only be debounced in software; that's trivial for most applications where an embedded microcontroller is already present. There may be an undocumented feature--hold the button down and it makes copies until the button is released. (Why??) There are a whole bunch of ways that a product can be produced that demonstrates weird behavior when presented with unusual inputs, and there's no way for the guys designing the thing to predict and account for all those possibilities unless we want copier/printers to run somewhere in the high six figures.

    But I bet if I tried to duplicate the event by holding down that button, nothing would happen.

    * * *

    For most of the month we've been blessed with pretty nice weather. When it's not been raining, it's been cool and pleasant.

    Those days are about to come to an end. Next week: 90s. Whee!

    * * *

    So today is a day off, and I could have slept in. Most of my shifts seem to be opening shifts, unless it's the weekend; seems like I only close on weekends. I don't really mind that all that much, though, because I've never really been of the mindset that weekend=party time, and I don't care about going out to bars on weekends, unlike the majority of the under-30 crowd I work with.

    Today, however, I have nothing scheduled--a rare Saturday off--and could happily sleep in, and what happens? I wake up on my own at 9:30, feeling fairly well-rested. That would be a fantastic thing to have happen any day I have to work but of course it can't possibly happen on a work day. That's just crazy talk!

    I'll have my revenge, though: I'll take a nap later. Ha!
    Friday, June 13th, 2014
    7:54 pm
    #4257: I'll have to see another one.
    I watched an ep of Dirk Gently yesterday.

    Douglas Adams wrote (as far as I know) two Dirk Gently novels. The first was Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency and the last (I know of anyway) was The Long, Dark, Tea-time of the Soul. They were both very, very good books. The first novel was where I learned the aphorism: "The trouble with clever people is, they think everyone else is stupid." (It is so very, very true.)

    I saw what I think was the first episode of the series, where Dirk has been hired as a security consultant to a cybernetics think tank run by his old professor at the university from which he was expelled. I knew almost immediately "whodunit", but with the DG stories it is always about the journey rather than the destination, anyway.

    The TV show fell down in two important places. The first was DG himself--the actor cast to play the title role does not fit my image of Dirk Gently. (And where's the porkpie hat?) The second was the writing; it may be because it was an introductory episode and there was a lot of exposition to get through, but it felt like about 1.5 hours of show crammed into 50 minutes. The worst part was the plodding pacing of the show; nothing seemed to happen for a long time yet suddenly Dirk figured out whodunit. The lurking policemen didn't add any tension to the story, and in fact it wasn't obvious that Dirk's old professor had even been murdered until we got to the part where Dirk recited the sequence of events. (I thought he'd died of natural causes, or shock, or something; but it turned out he fell after being struck, and hit his head on the corner of an open drawer of a filing cabinet.)

    When we finally saw Dirk's office, though, and his recalcitrant secretary, that made up for some of it. I expect that the next episode will be better, and in fact this one wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination. The story wsa the right sort of story; the execution was what fell short. Hopefully it'll get better.

    * * *

    I had thought to get a ride on the bike this evening, but I doubt I will. *sigh*

    * * *

    Anyway, today I sent in an application for a job with a different company, full time, one that--if I get it--will pay the bills handily. Wish me luck.
    Thursday, June 12th, 2014
    10:24 pm
    #4256: Well, that was neat.
    So, yesterday Mrs. Fungus decided she had enough of the cheapo Ikea chair she bought back in March-ish, and we went to OfficeMax to look at something better.

    "Something better" turned out to be a very nice executive chair with about as many levers as a 747. Only when we got all the parts out of the box, one of the handles on one of the levers turned out to be broken, so everything went back into the box.

    On my way home from work--well, not really on my way home, as it was actually several miles out of my way--I stopped and exchanged that one for another. And when I got home and set to assembly, guess what I discovered?


    One more trip to OfficeMax later, Mrs. Fungus has a new chair that looks nice and is extremely comfortable.

    Me? I'm still using my cheapo Ikea chair; it's fine. I'm going to use the spare to set up the Monk's Cell in the basement: El-Hazard will be my writin' computer down there, and I'll have it set up at a desk (or desk-like edifice) with a wireless card in it to let me access the Internet. Since the machine can't handle any real games I ought to be able to write on it without any serious distractions, and it's got enough horsepower to let me run Pandora so I have some nice music to listen to while I write.

    * * *

    Work was actually almost pleasant today, but for a couple of frustrations. I ended up staying an hour past my quitting time because there was so much that needed doing, but it was in fact a pretty decent day; though it wasn't sysiphean I was busy and the time went quickly.

    Kind of surprising considering that I only got about four hours of sleep last night.

    Tomorrow is Friday the 13th, and it's a full moon on top of it; I expect things to be...interesting. I'm hoping that it won't be too insane, but the old superstitions still hold sway because there is something quirky and uncanny about the effect that the movements of the tides have on human beings. We do not understand all the ways in which we are connected to our environment; it's a chaotic system and there are so many variables that it's impossible to track them all. Whatever happens I hope to take it in stride. I'm not particularly afraid of bad luck, but Friday the 13th has a history of bringing me weird luck. (Sometimes I think 13 is my lucky number. I lived in the 1300 block on my street in Cedar Rapids. The digits of my street address added up to 13, and I lived in apartment 13.)

    Being superstitious goes along with me having an anxiety disorder. I'm not crazy enough to carry around all sorts of good luck charms, but I suffer real apprehension if I fail to say "Rabbit, rabbit" the first time I get up on the first day of the month. (The worst part? I made the mistake of reading an encyclopedia of superstitions. What do you do when superstitions conflict? "Group 1 says it's bad luck to do A." "Group 2 says it's bad luck not to do A." *sigh*) My life got a lot easier after I started going to church again, because I realized that faith in God takes care of a lot of that nonsense for you.

    * * *

    I tried taking a look at the synopsis for #RELEASE_CANDIDATE_ONE and realized that I'm still stuck on how to do it. I also tried adding more to the flashback, but that, too, was beyond my abilities.

    There are a bunch of things I'm unhappy with about the other extant works in the same universe. I have a lot of work just to get there from here, but that's not going to work out if I can't cudgel myself into writing. Problem is, after I get home from work, I'm just so drained I can't think about anything useful.

    Still--the premise of the flashback is starting to take shape, and as I continue to work on the thing the implications of the technologies that drive it are starting to become plain to me. This story is meant to explain a lot of the background of this SF universe, ancient history and how the present-day universe was shaped by the prehistoric events.

    The protagonist of the flashback is a bitch but the story is starting to get really interesting to me, which helps.

    * * *

    I think it would take about $50 worth of materials to restore the tub surround to its former glory. The tile is $11 a case, for crying out loud; how much could water-resistant drywall, mastic, and grout cost? I also know I could tear out the old stuff and have drywall up--maybe even the tile, too--in six or eight hours. The mastic would have to cure for 24 hours, after which I could grout the bitch. Let that cure for a day, then caulk--presto.

    Fourth of July weekend would have been perfect, but my sister announced she and her husband were coming here to stay for four days--no, I didn't have a choice; isn't that lovely?--and so that project has been back-burnered. I can't take the house's only working shower out of commission when we're going to have houseguests, invited or not.

    Well, that's how it goes.
    Wednesday, June 11th, 2014
    4:43 pm
    #4255: New computer, two weeks in
    The most impressive thing about it is how quiet it is. Most of the time it's dead silent, making no sound whatsoever.

    When I put the thing in sleep mode, sometimes it wakes back up immediately. This may be due to the mouse moving; I've noticed that every so often there's some tension on the mouse cable, which probably means I have to re-route it because some other cable is laying on it. If I shut the computer down completely, it powers on when I hit a key on the keyboard. (That'll be a BIOS/UEFI setting, most likely, but I haven't decided whether I want to change it or not.)

    When I have leisure to, I'm going to do a factory restore on the system and repartition the hard drive so it's all one drive. There's no point to having it partitioned like this.

    WoW loads a hell of a lot faster. I expected that, considering it's got 8 GB of RAM and a 64-bit OS.

    Annoyances are few, so far, unlike this point in the upgrade to Cephiro in 2007. The "spell check" turning itself on for every text-entry box in the browser is one of them. I'm hoping the OS restore will fix that. There hasn't been any software which refused to work, though WinAmp doesn't install for all users for some dumb reason. That might be due to the fact that I used an older build, because their site is down--something about being acquired by someone else and the software being "reenergized"--so it might not install correctly on Win 8.

    I can't change the login screen image, but that should be fixed by the restore.

    Win 8 isn't nearly as intrusive as I'd feared it would be, but I was beginning to suspect that after having to learn the interface for work. Mostly it stays out of my way and lets me run my programs, which is all I want from an OS.

    I didn't even take the included keyboard out of the box. It just looked inferior to the old Gateway keyboard that came with Cephiro; further I'm used to the layout and feel of this one and have "customized" it so that it doesn't do anything annoying. ("Customized": I removed the CAPS LOCK key and the right Windows key, so I no longer accidentally hit them and screw up whatever I'm doing.) The mouse is a harmlessly generic optical mouse and it will get swapped into place when I need a new mouse. I may (or may not) give the Steelseries Apex another try; this computer has USB 3.0 and ought to support it handily.

    It's still so fast it makes you want to punch yourself in the face. I don't expect that to change any time soon. The law of diminishing returns is having its way with Moore's Law so it's becoming incrementally harder, as each Moore generation passes, to get that doubling, which is why I was able to use an entry-level machine made in 2007 for so long: the processor wasn't being completely outstripped by new technology, not the way things went in the early 1990s. Cephiro has a Core 2 Duo chip that runs acceptably fast even by today's standards; the Core iX line just has better technology and more computing cores. Nearly all the difference in speed comes from those improvements rather than clock speed or an increase in the number of transistors. (This is why the bargain basement computers can have "Pentium" processors in them--they're Pentium D or some other variant, extra-cheap, but they work.)

    I could not have used a brand-new budget computer made in 1990 until 1997, not if I wanted to run 1997 software on the thing. A budget machine in 1990 had an 80286 processor, maybe running at 12 MHz; in 1997 an entry level machine had a Celeron running around 300 MHz or so. The Landmark Speed Test (remember that?) used the 80286 as a benchmark, and my Celeron 333 had a Landmark score of something like 1,000, and the score meant an Intel 80286 would have to run at 1 GHz to perform as well. (Which is, of course, effectively impossible, if not impossible in fact. You can run a processor far beyond its design speed by cooling it with liquid nitrogen, but you need to have a lab full of equipment to do that, and what's the point?) But during the same time feature size shrank precipitously.

    I still remember all the kvetching in the semiconductor industry about how 0.7 microns was going to break Moore's Law, because OMG there are so many problems with such a small feature size--and now we're making industrial quantities of chips with a 22 nm process, which is some 32 times smaller, or 1/1024 the area on the die. (Small enough to engrave an entire original Pentium processor on a grain of salt! And have room on the other five faces for memory and interface chips--an entire DOS computer! WTF.) (Powering said computer, and the problem of I/O, are left as exercises for the student.)

    So according to the "Windows Experience Index", Floristica is turning in a solid 7.3-7.9 (out of 9.9) and the only thing limiting its speed is...the hard drive, which comes in at 5.9, the maximum for spinning disks interfaced with SATA 3.0. Cephiro also got 5.9 for its hard drive subsystem, and just about everything else was around there, but the processor itself was the limiting factor. Its memory could have been faster, which is why I wanted to upgrade to PC-6400 RAM. We saw how that turned out. The only way to fix that disk score is to put in an SSD; one big enough for the task would run around $200 right now. I should not need to deal with that particular bottleneck for quite a while, absent some kind of miracle in the software world that changes everything, and in the meantime prices for SSDs should come down to approach that of spinning metal disks. (1 TB for about $80 as of this writing, compared to $500 for an SSD of the same size.)

    The only reason SSDs cost a premium? Speed costs money. They're easier to build than conventional hard drives, and once you have the ICs there isn't even a requirement for a high-zoot clean room--a conventional board fab with the capacity for handling surface-mount devices is all you need. There are factories all over the world turning out FLASH chips in container volumes and it takes perhaps 16 or 32 of the big chips to make a decent SDD. Once you have the manufacturing process set up it can run automatically, with very little human input, and there are no moving parts in an SSD; there's no adjustment possible and they either work or they do not. You're paying a premium for the desirability of the high performance; these things should be--are--cheaper to manufacture than conventional drives.

    Anyway, so the computer is very fast, and it's not likely to get a great deal faster without an enormous input of money. Memory is keeping up with the processor (7.9 of 9.9) so installing another stick of RAM--to get away from the speed penalty of using one stick in a dual-channel system--is probably not necessary. Eventually I'll bump it to 16 GB at least, but I won't need to do that for a while, either. That makes this the first new computer I've bought since 1998 that didn't need an upgrade from its stock configuration. Cephiro came with 500 MB from the factory (for Vista! *shudder*) and Jurai--vintage 2001--came with 64 MB if I am recalling correctly. (I soon upgraded it to its maximum, 1 GB.) The old Compaq one-lung laptop (1998) came with something like 32 MB, and was upgraded to its maximum of 96 MB within a year of purchase.

    In fact, I can remember all my computer purchases. Floristica, two weeks ago. Cephiro, March of 2007. Jurai, May of 2001. I got my Compaq laptop in October or November of 1998. I got my Celeron system put together sometime in June or July of that year. That replaced the Pentium system I put together in 1996, which itself replaced the machine I'd assembled in 1993 that used an 80386 system board and a Cyrix processor that acted like a 486. Before that, I had an 80386-25 system with 2 MB of RAM that I assembled in summer of 1992, perhaps six months after I'd put together an 80286 system using an IBM PC-AT motherboard and other scrounged parts. Before that, I used an NEC MultiSpeed laptop with a CGA monitor, all of which I'd bought from my employer (Sears Business Centers) as old display merchandise, and for a pittance at that. (The computer was $5.33 with tax. The laptop had an external parallel port hard drive--20 MB--I got from a discount catalog, and at $150 was the most expensive part of that system.) I got my Atari 520 ST in early 1988, and my Commodore 64 in the summer of 1983.

    (This is why I get frustrated with people when I ask them how long they've had their computer and the answer is, "I don't know." No idea? Not even the year?)

    Then again, I was a computer hobbyist long before I was a technician, and in fact I did those jobs because I like working with the machinery. I suppose that goes to show something, but I have no idea what it is.

    Anyway, I'm spending too much time writing about a tale plainly told on a precious day off. So what am I doing here?
    Tuesday, June 10th, 2014
    11:39 pm
    #4254: This is very, VERY encouraging.
    Eric Cantor's not the Republican nominee from Virginia's district 7. The House Majority Leader lost his primary. As Denninger points out he outspent his opponent five-to-one and lost.

    Reason: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor supports amnesty for illegal aliens.

    What usually happens when a prominent Republican loses his primary: he then re-enters the race as "Independent", thus splitting the vote and ensuring the Democrat wins the general election. I don't expect Cantor to do any different, because the GOP leadership has demonstrated that it doesn't care what the rank-and-file of the party want. Considering his politics--and considering how things have been in the past decade--I'd be surprised if Cantor accepted the results of the primary and quietly served out the rest of his term.

    It sure would be nice if he did, though.
    2:25 pm
    #4253: Oh, the poor, poor Clintons
    They needed to buy houses when Bill left office. Apparently the $6 million house in New York wasn't enough, and they needed another one, and oh! The suffering!


    * * *

    I've been playing, on my tablet, these "Can You Escape" games by Mobigrow. I first played "Can You Escape Tower", and since have roared through the other three games. They're apparently only made for Android.

    You're presented with a room that has a locked door, and the object is to solve a series of puzzles such that you find the key that opens the door using things which are in the room. Sometimes it takes thought, sometimes it's super-easy, and sometimes I flail around uselessly until I discover that I missed something--but of the fifty-odd levels (across four games) that I've played, only once was the solution to a room beyond my capacity, requiring a walkthrough.

    There was one other room where I simply was not getting the puzzle and I needed a hint. The clues I had were two 5x5 grids with letters, numbers, and symbols, and I thought the two grids referred to each other. I spent quite some time trying to figure out how they related. They didn't; they were hints to two separate puzzles. Once I knew that, the solution was easy. (It would have been better if the two clues had not been available at the time. I had too much information; usually these guys are good at controlling that, such that you only have the information you need to solve one puzzle at a time, and not more.) When a player has to first figure out which information is extraneous and then solve a puzzle, the solution set should not be arbitrarily large.

    Anyway, this is the kind of game I really enjoy, which is why I played Myst and Riven and Myst III. But these games suffered from puzzles which were sometimes non-intuitive, and too complex. The solution to a puzzle ought to be logical; you shouldn't be in the position of having to make great leaps of induction. (I'm thinking of the topological map thing in Riven which made absolutely no sense, but was critical to letting you get off the island. That was dumb.)

    Adera is a game like this, but unfortunately its $6 per "episode" price--that doesn't free you from commercials!--is too steep, particularly for a game which has essentially no replay value: once you've figured out the puzzles, solving them a second time is trivial. (The first time you play Myst you explore everything and go everywhere and do all the puzzles; the second time, you go for the Myst book page, go to Atrus, give him the page, and about a minute, perhaps two.)

    Ads for the "Can You Escape" games are pretty unobtrusive, running in a small banner at the bottom of the screen, and if you want to watch the walkthrough you first have to look at/click past an ad. Otherwise, they leave you alone. I've rated three of the four with five stars because of this; when I'm done with the fourth I expect I'll do the same.

    * * *

    Today is a cool, gloomy, rainy day. I don't quite know what to do with it, except that I know I need to put the new city stickers in the cars and the new plate on Mrs. Fungus' motorcycle.

    Not much else to report. That's how it is.
    Monday, June 9th, 2014
    9:43 pm
    #4252: I wish I was as poor now as Bill and Hillary were in January of 2001.
    Only about $8 million to their names, poor bastards. How can you possibly live on a mere eight million dollars? Lucky for them Bill's book deal netted them another ten million seven months later, else they might have had to go on welfare! To say nothing of his presidential pension ($200,000 per year) and her salary as a US Senator ($186,000 per year). My dear fellow, how do you expect them to cope?


    ...if I were getting half of Hillary's salary in 2001 (which comes to about $93,000 per year) I'd count myself blessed. "Broke and in debt"? Who does she think she's kidding?

    Well, the "low information voters", that's who--people who don't realize that there are no poor politicians in D.C.

    * * *

    Borepatch calls our attention to another serious climate change let-down from XKCD today. "Without prompt aggressive limits on CO2 emissions," the strip gravely intones, "the Earth will likely warm by an average of 4°-5° by the century's end."

    No, it won't.

    Borepatch explains why in his post. Suffice it to say that the models are wrong and IPCC is not doing science.

    * * *

    Over to Og, who talks about machine tools. "You lose your arms in a press because the light curtain failed, good luck suing a dummy corporation in Sao Paolo." (A "light curtain" is basically a series of photosensors that determine whether the working area is clear of obstructions, particularly when said "obstructions" are made of meat and belong to workers who load and unload the machine.) Og discusses this issue in the context of what it is likely to do to American manufacturing.

    It's true that big industry has left the country--we have no steel mills, for example, because the EPA has priced American steel out of profitability. We do, however, have a lot of medium industry, the kind of thing that can't build 500,000 sedans, but (for example) can make aftermarket performance parts for them. "Medium industry" is what still provides most of the manufacturing jobs in this country, and it's literally all over the place.

    "This is the beginning of the end of manufacturing here," Og concludes:
    The US is still a giant manufacturing powerhouse, despite everyone’s claims to the contrary, and if you want to run that into the ground, the surest way is to make the equipment unreliable, tax the output mercilessly, and increase the cost of electricity. Welcome to the new soviet.
    Large employers get tax breaks, but "medium industry" typically does not. Obama and his EPA are working on forcing the price of electricity to "necessarily skyrocket"--and machine tools do not run on clean thoughts and righteous living; they run on electricity. "Making the equipment unreliable" is really the only avenue left untraveled by those who would stand in the way of American capitalism.

    I have wavered all over the place on protectionism, going from full protectionist to lassez faire and back to protectionist again. I've done this because someone's going to get screwed, regardless and it makes a difference who is getting screwed, and why. I was originally protectionist because I understood the value of American industry. Then I realized that the unions simply wanted to ensure they didn't have to compete, and didn't care if Americans were forced to--for example--buy overpriced and shitty cars. This was when I began supporting free trade.

    Problem is? Free trade merely ensures that labor is shipped abroad. Some things you want to do that with (socks, for example) and others, not so much (integrated circuits). You eventually get to the point that you either outsource labor or end up going out of business. Sure, your citizens get access to a lot of low-priced goods, but who can afford that shit when no one has a freakin' job any more?

    So now I've gone back the other way, concluding that while pure protectionism is not good, there need to be barriers to trade which level the playing field. China--again, for example--makes stuff cheaply because they don't have the environmental laws we do; there needs to be a tariff that compensates for that.

    Meanwhile, none of this changes the fact that our government has hyper-regulated everything to the point of strangling the economy, and the taxation (and borrowing) that it's doing are merely tightening the noose, while the fifteen-year triphammer of immigration amnesty laws keeps wages stagnant.

    How the hell are we supposed to make any money?

    * * *

    I ended up having to stay 45 minutes late at work today. That's how f-ing nuts it was.


    ...corporate policy keeps me from commenting further, but suffice it to say that I'm beginning to think about which way I ought to jump. I'm not worried the company's going away, but I can't say what's going to happen with my position in it, and that uncertainty bothers me.

    What I need is a full-time job that doesn't make me wish I were dead. (I know some of you have asked me not to talk this way. Sorry.) This job doesn't make me wish that (most of the time) but sometimes I wonder if that's only because it's part-time, or what. What I do know is that I'm beginning to understand that this is probably not my best path forward; as a stepping stone it's fine, but I no longer believe I am going to be building a career with this company, particularly when there's no apparent sign of progress from the very people who have promised it to me.

    It's really starting to feel like drudgery; and further I now believe that both times I was told "We want you in back, fixing stuff" they were merely blowing sunshine up my skirt. I finally realized this when they moved someone who was formerly in customer service into a position that spends more time in back fixing things than I ever have, rather than--y'know--moving me into such a place. (And don't say it's lack of experience. I was fixing computers before most of these people (my immediate supervisor included) were born. The people involved know it.)

    There's no challenge to the job, yet I have to think while working. (Hell--with the stockboy job at Target, at least I could think while I worked.) It's an endless repetition of processing answers to the same questions over and over and over again: "What's your phone number? Is this address correct? Could I interest you in a technical support contract? [These are the benefits of a technical support contract.] Please sign here. Would you like to apply for a credit card?" The constant repetition of the exact same words is driving me out of my mind.

    Making matters worse is, of course, the near-total lack of any break schedule. I'm virtually chained to the counter; if there are people waiting I must wait on them, regardless of how long I've worked, and I cannot leave even at my scheduled quitting time until I have helped my relief whittle down the queue. (I have not been explicitly told such, but it's an unspoken rule.)

    One of my coworkers reported being told, "You can take a break if you like...but when you come back, someone else will have your job." Yeah.

    So I know what all this means; I ought to start moving on it.
    Sunday, June 8th, 2014
    11:14 pm
    #4251: When did that ever happen before?
    A few weeks ago, as Mrs. Fungus and I were going somewhere, just leaving our neighborhood, I saw a group of people standing at the curb with a huge pile of furniture and assorted things, and there was a trailer parked there into which they were trying to load everything.

    That, I thought, looks like someone's being evicted, and my heart went out to them. I don't remember if I said a prayer for them or not (I should have).

    My suspicions were confirmed when--about a week later--I saw a sign in front of that house: "FOR SALE $68,000".

    ...and I never saw an eviction happening before Barack Hussein took office. Never, not in any of my travels. Certainly not in the Fungal Vale, which is a relatively wealthy bedroom community. But since 2008 I've seen at least two in progress, and this one happened in my own damned neighborhood.

    Hell--there have been two foreclosures in this neighborhood since my mother died. At least two--possibly three.

    Vox Day has a post up about the decline in the US birth rate since 2007, and the article he links to wonders how this can be when the economy is expanding?

    "Occam's Razor," he concludes, "indicates that the economy is not in a recovery, but an ongoing six-year depression,..."

    It's not just that. Our government--and other governments around the world--are actively engaging in hijinks which hide this fact, and destroy wealth in the process. The credit demand gap is enormous. But nearly all the numbers are gamed to make it look as if the economy is recovering.

    Down in the comments, someone pointed out that inflation in the supermarkets is a hell of a lot higher than the 5% that's reported by the government. As noted here in the Fungus bacon has doubled in price in the past 12-18 months. A pound of butter was $2.50; now it's $3.50 on sale. Pepsi--24 ounce bottles have been replaced with 16.9 ounce bottles, and the price has risen from $4 per 6-pack to $4.40. A good sale price for chicken breasts was $1.80 a pound; now the best price I've seen for a while has been $3 a pound and just this evening I saw "chicken breast tenders" selling for $8 per pound! 80% lean hamburger costs almost $4 a pound now, where it was around $2.50 three years ago.

    Gasoline bounced off $4.40 a gallon for regular (87 octane unleaded, I mean) before settling to somewhere around $4 a gallon.

    Meanwhile, the asstastic job market means wages are stagnant. Obamacare is strangling what little job growth was occurring. Congress is making noises about legalizing another fifty million illegal aliens, thus driving wages even farther down. And the Democrats are agitating for a 30% increase in the minimum wage, which will further destroy jobs.

    Good God, it's a wonder everyone isn't facing foreclosure and eviction. WTF.
    Friday, June 6th, 2014
    10:05 pm
    #4250: Feeling a little better
    Just a bit. The nausea and churning that cropped up yesterday has gone away, and the sick headache I had this afternoon has receded. It's helped by the fact that I don't have work tomorrow or Sunday.

    It's been a really stressful week, and the stress is making everything else hurt. For a little while yesterday I was hearkening back to this, which is decidedly not-good. It's not work that's doing it to me, though; it's family.

    Further comment redacted. I'm feeling better now, anyway.
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