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

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Sunday, March 17th, 2019
3:17 pm
#6582: Ah, corned beef day
I don't drink and I don't wear green, but I sure cook a mean pot of corned beef and cabbage.

* * *

This really is the best analysis of the problem with 737 MAX aircraft. The hardware that prevents all crashes of this type is optional. And "the specification was...shitty."

Boeing is supposed to be better than AirBus, but this is an AirBus type of problem. Get it together, guys.

* * *

You don't need to de-ice a nuclear reactor. Another reason windmills are shit for power generation.

* * *

When, damn it? You guys have been promising us this technology for twenty years.

Actually, I get it. In 1998, LCD panels were a lot more expensive than they are now. The CRT was still king, and one of the reasons even entry-level laptops were over $1,000 came from the cost of the screens in them. And buyers of laptops with 13" LCDs were cautioned that there would be a scant handful of defective pixels in them.

Today, you can buy a 55" LCD TV for $500 which will be guaranteed to have no defective pixels. In twenty years the manufacture of LCDs has gone from a black art to a scientific manufacturing process, where defects are minimized by technological improvement rather than random chance, and yields have gone up greatly. This has led to their prices dropping precipitously; and the entry-level laptop of today has a screen that would have looked like black magic twenty years ago and costs about a tenth of the retail price of a laptop in 1998.

...which is to say, much of the R&D resources dedicated to display development have gone into improving yields and making them cost less, a very necessary step given than CRTs are no longer practical for a variety of reasons.

Having introduced their folding phone, Samsung has shown us that folding screens are not impossible to manufacture. LG makes a television which stows its screen when not in use by rolling it up. We've reached that point, finally; though these things are frightfully expensive as yet, they won't stay that way. The day I predicted is coming, where your big-screen TV will be shipped in a tube, and you'll hang it from hooks in the ceiling and let it unroll.

The article I linked, though, means that the other day I predicted is still coming, too: a guy will come into your house and set up a weird scaffold-like thing against one wall. He'll hook it up and start it running; and after a couple of hours he'll shut it off and dismantle it; and after he overlays it with some kind of protective layer he'll connect electronics to your wall--and you'll have yourself a wall that's also a display panel.

Other option is simply to hang sheets of flexible LCD like wallpaper. This is coming.

The idea of running off OLED displays using, essentially, ink jet printers, is not a new one. I talked about this happening in the early 2000s; it was being worked on then, and they'd managed to make it work fine. But (as was the case with LEDs) getting blue light from the process is tricky.

Still, it's on its way.

* * *

Capitalism versus socialism. I know which I prefer.

* * *

Well: before I cook corned beef, today I must work on sanding spackle. Off I go.
Saturday, March 16th, 2019
5:16 pm
#6581: "Becoming"? You haven't been paying attention.
The text blockquoted by Vox Day starts thus:
First the good news: We are shocked by the actions of these parents precisely because there is so little corruption in America. If the problems were as systemic as some on the Internet believe, they would hardly raise such an outcry.
While I will agree that corruption is not as prevalent here as it is in other places, let me assure you that "so little" is not the phrase that describes it. There is plenty of corruption here; it occurs wholesale and all the time, without cease. For the most part, corruption here is hidden, cloaked, masked; there is a veneer of integrity over it, veiling it from immediate sight. Not because the corrupt are afraid of legal consequences, but because it would look bad.

They exempt themselves from rules and codes, and they get away with it unless the general public learns of how deep the rot goes--at which point they are punished, usually temporarily.

Six months ago James Gunn was taken off Guardians of the Galaxy III because "...The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James' Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio's values,..." But now he's got his job back. It looks as though Disney was slow-boating the search for his replacement in order to let things settle down a bit before resuming business as usual. So, apparently, the "offensive attitudes and statements" were only inconsistent with their "values" until the storm had blown over.

The elites have always exempted themselves from the rules of society, and they have never deserved that exemption. I hate to be so cynical about it, but really there's no other sane attitude to take about it.

Save being in this world, but not of it, to the extent which is humanly possible.

* * *

Are there pews in mosques? I thought they prostrated themselves and cowered on the floor when praying.

Regardless, Donkey Teeth is at least being consistent in her disdain for religion. Most people who take that tack are very careful to tiptoe around islam lest they end up in the crosshairs of a fatwa.

Speaking of that whole imbroglio, apparently the lefties are going after Chelsea Clinton though I most assuredly don't understand why. Chelsea Clinton's main achievement was being Bill and Hillary Clinton's daughter and not ending up like Amy Carter. I mean, end of list, right there. What has she got to do with the shootings? Don't get me wrong; I think this is hysterically funny--I just don't understand why.

Oh well. Just pass the popcorn.

* * *

Trying to raise your child "gender neutral" is ignoring basic biological fact.

* * *

It'll never pass but it would be marvelous if it did, and then caught on across the nation. A Missouri bill that requires--requires--all able-bodied and healthy residents aged 18-34 to own an AR-15.

Related: you used to be able to buy a gun, mail order, from the Sears catalog. When guns were freely available, when the right to keep and bear arms was truly not infringed, the murder rate was astonishingly low. Today, with highly restrictive gun laws, the murder rate is five times higher.

* * *

Went out to the store for a few things, and took a circuitous route back home. Discovered a few things.

First, the old harness racetrack south of town? Used to be a gambling mecca but they went out of business, somehow. Anyway, their south lot is full of late-model Volkswagen cars, most of which have no license plates on them. Obviously these are diesel cars that VW is trying to figure out how to dispose of. Interesting.

Second, the old chicken shack on the south side of town has become a Pizza Hut.

Now, I like Pizza Hut; their food is decent and not too expensive. Having one that close to the bunker is awfully nice. When I lived in Cedar Rapids I lived about that distance from a Pizza Hut and my pizzas arrived hot and fresh, so that was extremely nice.

But then I look at the new Taco Bell out by the Culver's, and just down the street from the McDonald's out that way, a Burger King is going in. Why is the Fungal Vale getting all these fast food restaurants all of a sudden?

Then, I look at the latest village newsletter and learn that the Fungal Vale has had a new "village supervisor" for I don't even know how long. Presumably since the last election--was that last year, or 2016? Anyway, the guy who it used to be, who it was for a good long time, he's no longer in charge. And I wonder if that has anything to do with it.

Anyway, today I had intended to sleep until 10, then get up and attend to some errands--but they required that I shave and shower. Mrs. Fungus woke me up around 9-ish, though: "There's no water!"

Got up with the typical thoughts going through my head: the water bill was paid, wasn't it? and better check the basement and so forth, but then I looked out the window of the computer room, northward...and saw something out that way.

I finished dressing, put on coat and shoes, and walked down the driveway and--sure enough!--YET ANOTHER FRICKING WATER MAIN BREAK.

I've lost count of how many times the village has had to patch that f-ing thing. Since 2005, though, it has to have been at least AT LEAST a dozen times.

There simply isn't enough typographical emphasis in the universe for me to express my incredulity at this state of affairs, so I'm not going to expend any more effort in that direction.

This is ridiculous. Particularly considering that it's been--what, a month? Not even?--since the last repair they had to make, at the south end of the street.

Anyway, so we both went back to bed; when we got up, water was restored and all is well again.

Until the next time. WTF.
Friday, March 15th, 2019
12:46 pm
#6580: Insanity


Why does the thermostat need to be GPS-enabled? Do you expect it to move? Which is to say, do you expect it to move far enough that you need to be able to track its location? "Holy crap, where'd the thermostat go this time? WTF, why is it in Guam?"

Generally speaking, once you install a thermostat in your home, it's pretty well stationary, and if it does move, you know about it, unless you are the most oblivious person in the universe.

I can get (sort of) the desire to have a thermostat you can reprogram remotely, with a cell phone app, but all the reasons that occur to me for a thermostat to be "GPS-enabled" range from the barely useful to the outright ridiculous.

The one "barely useful" bit is a thermostat to which your phone reports its location. When the thermostat sees that the phone is getting close to home, it begins to heat or cool the house based on how you've set it (maybe you set the thermostat to 80 when you're not home in summer, for example, but like it at 76 when you are). But in that case the thermostat isn't "GPS-enabled"; it merely uses GPS information transmitted by your phone to set itself to the preferred temperature.

Generally speaking, "smart" devices are a bad idea, because security is always an afterthought and you end up leaving all kinds of open ports into your home network for hackers to take advantage of.

* * *

I saw a blurb on Faceboob about "kids" taking part in an "international day of protest":



This is, in fact, their teachers pushing them to stand up for international communism in the guise of environmentalism.

* * *

As eager as I am for something like this, at $20 for the "digital" edition, I'd like to see more than just the cover, please. My caution comes from long and weary experience. It turns out that if you look at the page for the $40 hardcover edition there are sample pages, and this one best tells the tale:



Gadzooks. It's BLOODY AWFUL. It's horrifyingly bad. I mean, it's well into "oh my God" territory. That one page is enough to convince me.

First off: the character design for Peewee is all wrong. Second, the Mother Thing is all wrong. Third, the design of the Mother Thing's ship is all wrong. I'm not even talking about personal interpretations, here, but what Heinlein himself described in the text of the story.

Heinlein never mentioned Peewee having gaps in her teeth (from losing baby teeth) and at that point in the story, Peewee's human-made space suit is gone; she's got one of Vegan manufacture that looks like silvery tights. Madame Pompadour (Peewee's doll) is human, not a weird alien with blue skin and three eyes. The Mother Thing's ship looked like an "old-fashioned beehive", not a flying saucer; it had no windows and the three of them could barely fit in it. The Mother Thing is described as "unearthly", looking more like a lemur than a human; certainly she's not anthropoid as depicted in this nonsense--and what's with the rabbit ears?

THis is a lot closer:



The other pages are just as bad. First page shows Kip sitting on a billboard in the space suit, making a recording into its on-board computer, which talks. Apparently "Oscar" isn't a figment of his imagination here but an AI built into the suit, which makes me stand up and yell OKAY HOLD IT RIGHT THERE THIS IS NOT THE DAMNED STORY AT ALL.

Is that thing on the cover supposed to be Wormface? Who had only two eyes on the front of his head, not SIX?

The page set on the landing platform on Lanador, where Kip and Peewee look at the "three galaxies" from inside the Lesser Magellenic Cloud--the artist apparently thinks all galaxies are spiral galaxies and further shows all three of them, so I'm guessing that in this version, Lanador isn't inside the LMC at all but somewhere where it can see both MCs and the Milky Way. Wrong, though.

I'm not even going to dignify the panel showing Peewee's mother talking about "alien parasites" and Dr. Reisfeld looking like a Mexican plumber.

On the plus side, seeing all that just saved me $20, so I've got that going for me, I suppose. *sigh*

* * *

What socialism actually means, every time it's tried. People starving, people dying by the millions. Mass graves. No freedom of any kind. That is what socialism means.

* * *

Well, at least it's Friday. We've got that much going for us, I suppose.
11:46 am
#6579: Trolling


...because touching your uvula will make you vomit.
11:39 am
#6578: The Krell
Just for background, the Krell are the fictional race of ultra-advanced aliens in Forbidden Planet who died out "in a single night" some 200,000 years ago.

Forbidden Planet is not a movie which generates refrigerator moments. It's tight; there are no holes in the story and it fits together nicely. Having watched it again recently I realized that if that movie had been given a proper orchestral score, and if the sound effects hadn't been 1950s gimcrakery, it would have been a knockout movie for the entire SF genre. Interstellar, sixty years early.

But it did occur to me, a few nights ago, that there was something the story did not tell us. It's not a failing; it's just beyond the scope of the story being told.

Were the Krell a spacefaring race?

The movie doesn't say. What it does say is that at the time of their demise, the Krell had been civilized for a million years. They'd conquered a lot of problems, including their own animal natures (so they'd thought) and had gotten to the point of building their massive machine, psionically operated, to make the satisfaction of every desire a thought away. Now, being able to build something like that implies an extremely advanced technology; and somewhere between "bang the rocks together, guys" and the construction of that machine, space travel seems like a given.

One would think that, after a million years, the Krell would be all over the place, not confined to one dinky planet. And even after 200,000 years, there would have to be relics of that civilization strewn about. The fact that the vast machine still runs inside Altair IV is itself enough to show that much. They could not have made just that one machine self-sustaining; certainly there must have been other installations which used that technology.

I don't think they would build machines like that one on every world and turn them all on simultaneously; that's bad engineering and the Krell proved themselves to be excellent engineers. (Proof: the big machine is still running without any sentient intervention, 200,000 years after it was turned on.) But the Krell are gone, and have been gone for a long time.

There are at least two possibilities.

First, that they did settle on other worlds, but for some reason those other worlds perished at the same time. I can think of some ways this could have happened. Alternately, the other worlds struggled onward for a time but also died out, and either these worlds just haven't been discovered yet, or else the evidence of the Krell presence there was eradicated by time, as it was on the surface of Altair IV. (The movie doesn't really describe the extent of the human presence in deep space, either.)

Second, that they couldn't travel in space, for whatever reason. My preferred reason is what Larry Niven refers to as "biorhythm upset", the case where an organism can't handle a change in the length of its day/night cycle. Having evolved on a world with a specific length of day, the organism cannot cope with changes in that schedule. "Jet lag" might be fatal for such a creature; certainly, living on a planet with a longer or shorter day would be. But there could be other reasons; maybe they couldn't tolerate zero gravity. Perhaps FTL was bad for them. Maybe they were herd or pack animals, and required the presence of other Krell, too many for a practical spacecraft. Maybe they couldn't take acceleration above surface-normal for Altair IV. (The shape of their doors suggest they were as wide as they were tall. That could be it.)

The thing is, the movie doesn't really give us any information at all about this. The story concerns what happened on Altair IV 200,000 years ago, and 20 years earlier, and "right now"; whether or not the Krell ever had colonies on other worlds is utterly irrelevant to telling that story, and the storytelling style in the 1950s was not to bog things down with too much exposition, anyway.

Ultimately the question of what the Krell did in space is irrelevant, because their civilization did end in a single night 200,000 years ago. But it might make for a really good story, even so.

Example: Krell on a colony world stop hearing anything from the homeworld and they send a ship to investigate. They get a fragmentary message from the ship and then nothing more. So they send another ship. It never reports back, but a few months later the first ship limps into port with a skeleton crew from the second. Based on what the report is from the traumatized remainder, a Krell official races to stop the activation of the colony's Great Machine--being started a couple of years behind schedule due to this or that--but he gets there a few moments too late....

Heh.
Thursday, March 14th, 2019
6:22 pm
#6577: You can't redefine an old acronym like that
Someone tell Boeing that MCAS stands for "Minimum Controllable Air Speed".

The 737 MAX has a problem: it decides it wants to dive when there is no reason to. Apparently the two recent crashes are related to this. The system is meant to counteract the aircraft's tendency to pitch up in high-throttle conditions, particularly at high angles of attack.

At the core of this issue is the new engines. Like all jumbo jet engines they're high-bypass turbofan engines, but the MAX variant has larger engines than the original 737, so they had to mount them both higher up and farther forward. This changed the center of thrust (CoT) and made the airplane more prone to an uncommanded pitch-up moment. This is bad for many reasons; for example, when you're climbing at maximum angle of climb, you don't want the aircraft to pitch up more because that could lead to a stall.

Boeing's answer was to add software: program the flight control system to put in some pitch down. The apparent problem is that in some cases the thing adds pitch-down in situations where it's not warranted. The most recent crash shows the airplane diving and climbing erratically until the crash occurred, and that looks a lot like "pilots trying to keep the plane in the air despite the aircraft's best efforts".

And the best part of this? If you pull up, the airplane ignores the input and continues to dive.

* * *

Really good at sign language for a 2-year-old.
They don't do documentaries about the horrors the left inflicts on us. As far as I know, they've never awarded an Oscar to a film documenting the Soviet Union's atrocities. They don't even do many documentaries about that. It's apparently controversial to say "a state shouldn't forceably engineer the mass-starvation of its farmers."
It's not just lunacy; it's horror. All the way down.

* * *

My answer is not just "no", but "FUCK no". Does the company pay to have the freaking chip removed if you quit or are fired? Somehow I doubt it. But that's just one objection; the real problem is discussed in depth by Karl Denninger at his post there: it's a trivial exercise to track everything you do once you have one of those chips in you.

I'll stick with badges and passwords, thank you very much.

* * *

"Democrats have seen Republicans as evil for a long time, but now they're acting stupidly. Violently and stupidly." It does not help their cause when they lose their shit over a red ball cap. The stories are legion.

* * *

So, launch some new satellites. SpaceX makes that pretty cheap.

"Oh, but it's the spectrum that we need to use!" Guess what: other countries won't care. They'll still launch 5G phone networks. What will you do then, when side lobes from Europe and Asia are flooding your passive microwave receivers?

* * *

Flatly impossible. Ending our use of fossil fuels would result in the deaths of billions of people. That doesn't bother environmentalists, of course, because environmentalism is a leftist cause and leftists place no value on human life.

The funniest part of all this, though, is that the life cycle of a CO2 molecule in the atmosphere is somewhere between 11 and 18 months. The CO2 that is in the atmosphere now is not the same CO2 that was there even two years ago. The carbon cycle is working fine and is not overwhelmed by human emissions.

* * *

We lost a few things somewhere in the 1940s.

The other night Mrs. Fungus and I were going through some boxes and she found an oddly-shaped light bulb. It was a cat holding some kind of stringed instrument, and it was clearly a light bulb because it had a screw base sticking out of its head.

A quick flip over to Googe revealed that it was a milk glass figural light bulb from sometime between 1930 and 1940, probably for Christmas or other occasions. No continuity; it's burned out. But it's interesting.

Apparently this was a thing back then, though: strings of lights in interesting shapes. White glass (hence "milk glass") and then painted, by hand. Hang 'em up, plug 'em in, and they light up.

In working condition, maybe $50. Nonworking, trash.

This particular bulb is not Christmas; a cat with a koto is more oriental. I can't help but wonder if Dad didn't see this when he was in Japan in 1945, picked it up, and brought it home.

* * *

Today is a lovely day. I am being sarcastic.

One of the clients I support, they're having their networks updated. What inevitably seems to happen is, once the network team leaves, problems arise. Phones don't work. Computers don't work. Printers don't work. Any one, or combinations, or all three.

Meanwhile, I am trying to support these people, and half the tools I need to access don't work, either. On one call I needed to use a certain tool used for checking user accounts, in order to make sure the caller's account was active and not locked. It took me three and a half minutes just to get into the damned tool. That's before I could do anything about checking his account or anything. We're supposed to handle our calls in 6.5 minutes--more than half that time wasted on waiting.

My whole day has been like that. 4 hours so far. And no tuna to put in my pain-in-the-ass-Mac.



(From Natalie Dee.)

*sigh*
Wednesday, March 13th, 2019
10:55 pm
#6576: This is exactly what I'd expect.
I stopped watching Star Trek: Voyager after seeing ep 1 of season 4, where they introduced 7 of 9. I just lost all interest in the show. Jeri Ryan's artificially low voice and her monotonic acting were the final straws; I had been greatly dissatisfied with the show well before then.

ST:V was terrible. It already had a surfeit of annoying characters, from B'Elanna Torres to space-hedgehog Neelix to Tuvix.

I was trying to find the classic shit episode here where the state-of-the-art Voyager is brought low by cheese but I could not find it. However, looking over the synopses of the episodes, I find that holy crap were those stories terrible:
The crew enter a nebula to collect samples before realizing it is a living organism, but not before injuring it.

A group of humans from the 1930s are found in stasis on a seemingly abandoned planet, including the lost Amelia Earhart.

Space-dwelling life-forms cause Kes to enter the Ocampan fertile phase called Elogium, putting pressure on her relationship with Neelix when she wants to have his child.

Tuvok crash-lands on a moon and finds children who have been abandoned.

B'Elanna experiences vivid dreams.

The Doctor creates a family on the holodeck.
And on, and on.

Anyway, all that puts this video in perspective:



The video shows how many photon torpedoes Voyager expends: 123. How many does Voyager have at the beginning of the series? 38. How many can they make while trapped in the Delta Quadrant?

0.0...0.

It's explicitly stated that they cannot replace them once they are expended. That means they can't just whip up a fresh batch in the replicators. There's no convenient Federation resupply depots out that way, either, and there's apparently no Delta Quadrant equivalent they can use.

So...where did the extra 85 torpedoes come from?

This isn't a little mistake, either. It's not like they mysteriously found a couple of extras; they fired more than three times their stated number of torpedoes. That's like getting 600 miles out of a gas tank that normally takes you 200. I could let them slide for having fired 45, or even 50 torpedos, sure--but not more than a hundred. Crimony.

You'd think someone would have kept track of that. You know? Maybe someone in the Continuity department should have paid better attention. If you're going to have a program where a starship must get home from a long way away and you're going to put limits on supplies in order to increase tension, then you must put someone in charge of rationing those supplies. "C'mon, Bill, I need a full spread of torpedoes here!" "We've got 23 left, John. No." "Please! Okay, just one!" "No. We have four scheduled for the next season and I can't spare any."

Either learn to use phasers, or find a way to manufacture the things--but don't just ignore it and let them use 85 torpedoes they don't have.
6:21 pm
#6575: They for damn sure ought to
"NASA to consider use of private rockets for first Orion lunar mission". Considering that NASA's ability to launch anything comes from the private sector--their manned rocket is years behind schedule and far over budget--they ought to do a lot more than just "consider" it.

* * *

The Rotten Chestnuts take on that college scandal. "Mmmmmm.... Aunt Becky. Yes, I'll wait. Has everybody gotten that out of their systems?" I guess that was her role in that sitcom. I never watched that show; my introduction to Lori Loughlin came via Secret Admirer, which is an old favorite of mine. She was never really at the "Mmmmmm..." stage with me, either, though I do have to admit she's always had nice "Breck Girl" hair.

Any-dang-way, this scandal:
In other words, we Normals think, if you're Lori Loughlin and you want your kid to go to Ivy League Tech, you simply call up the Dean of Admissions and do lunch, where over free-range arugula he'll tell you that the college could really use a few new chairs for the cafeteria.... or that the theater department could really use an Aunt Becky Chair in Applied Aromatherapy, depending on just how bad the kid's SAT scores really are. There's no need to fly in a "test proctor" from Tampa, or photoshop your kid punting a football, or any of the other idiotic shit the "Key Worldwide Foundation" (what, was "Acme Import/Export" taken?) actually did.
Traditionally, that's pretty much how it worked. ("Aunt Becky Chair in Applied Aromatherapy" *snerk*.) You didn't have the Dean of Admissions--say, a Dr. Brian R. Martin--laying out a price list, nor did the concerned parent sit down and say, "Dean Martin, my kid's an idiot. What'll it cost me to get him a seat in this place?"

(I went too far for that joke. Waaaayyy too far. Just as far as Rodney Dangerfield in Back to School.)

...but neither did the concerned parent hire a company to slip Dean Martin a check under the table.

* * *

Combining boys' and girls' sports, with the results any rational person would expect.
apparently the girls are quitting cause they lose by an average of 50 points every game and end up bruised and injured cause the boys play too physical
Because biology is a fact, it is not open to interpretation, and it makes a difference.

* * *

For political reasons, for SJW/NPC reasons, not because that's the best choice. Stupid.

* * *

The way to deal with warmistas is apparently to publicize their hypocrisy because people generally pay attention to that stuff, and don't listen to people who say one thing but do the opposite.

Sick Bern, bro!



Heh.

* * *

Nice little story by Francis Porretto. Incidentally, one of the markers of the best SF is when you learn something real by reading it.

* * *

EPA shenanigans of course. Government is corruption. I'm not an anarchist, but I still believe that. The Founding Fathers did too, which is why they tried to construct one that governed as little as possible.

* * *

As soon as you show me the evidence that you were personally a slave, I'll be happy to, sweetie. Although I will deduct necessary expenses, you know, such as your fee that you owe us for being born in the freest and most prosperous nation on Earth. Certainly a lot more free and prosperous than your ancestors' homeland. Oh! And there's a "Civil War" surcharge, too--620,000 people were killed, mostly white men, in the war commonly believed that was fought to end slavery in the US.

Finally, we need to consider the "beneficiary of western civilization" charge. That's the one you owe us for culturally appropriating the inventions of white men, things like antibiotics, air conditioning, powered transport, vaccines, cell phones, electricity....

Oh, dear. I do apologize, but it seems you actually owe us a rather significant amount. Will that be cash or check?

ADDENDUM: By the way there are a lot of problems with reparations anyway. Like?
On the first issue — who is actually "black"?

Shall we use the Elizabeth Warren standard of 1/1024? Universal DNA testing would have more corrupt outcomes than a South Florida election.

Shall we use the Rachel Dolezal standard of "identifying" as black? When freebies are at stake, a lot of identifying would be going on.

Shall we just go with skin color? I don't think so. The capturing and sale of native African populations was largely a west African phenomenon. Would our large Somali population share in the largesse? They did not come through the slave ship route and do not share the slave ancestry story that Ms. Figaro presumably has.

***

Where do Caribbean blacks fall on the scale of reparations worthiness? Some Italian-Americans with a good suntan are darker than they are. What about Indians (from India), some of whom are quite dark?
Big problems, easily obviated just by presenting the counter-bill I mentioned.

And, by the way:
Ms. Figaro should contemplate the Holocaust-survivors who refused reparations because they did not want to monetize their suffering or cheapen their dignity.
The people who want reparations are people who have been trained by leftists to have their hands out 24/7, "gimme gimme gimme", in exchange for reliably voting the leftists into power. Holocaust survivors have more shame than modern-day recipients of the left's spoils system.

END ADDENDUM

* * *

Another suspicious death associated with the Clintons. Wow, what a surprise.

* * *

By the way, the word is spelled T-H-I-C-K. There is no word in the English language spelled T-H-I-C-C. If you mean "thick" it's THICK. This is not that f-ing complicated.

* * *

Kevin Smith looks like he became a wino or a drug addict or an AIDS patient:



He certainly is now far too old to wear that backwards cap. Let it go, dude.

I was never a fan of those movies, but enough is enough.

* * *

I desperately wanted to take today off, but instead here I am working. Well, not this instant, mind you, because I'm waiting for a call to come in, but I am at work even if--

You know what? Never mind.
3:26 am
#6574: American Gods is back, with a surprise
A surprise, I might add, that's not a spoiler.

The first episode is named "The House on the Rock", and part of it takes place at that very Wisconsin tourist attraction, which is damned cool.

Because Mrs. Fungus and I were there in November, which is a mere four months ago, I could remember seeing all the things they showed on the program, all the places that were used as backdrops for the characters.

It was pretty cool, and weird, to see a place we've been so prominently featured on a TV show. Not just the House on the Rock, either, but some other things, too, that we saw while we were in the area.

* * *

Over the past couple of weeks I've been trying to fix my father-in-law's laptop.

It's a Gateway laptop, a year newer than my Dell. The right-hand hinge was broken--it had torn right out of the screen bezel--and Dad had just lived with it.

Anyway, a week or two ago I went downstairs and tore it apart, trying to see what needed to be done. I got it apart one night; a few nights later I epoxied the hinge bracket to the upper lid, where it should have been but no longer was. Once it had cured, a few days later, I put the screen back into its mounts, and stalled at getting that corner screwed in: the screw had torn out of the screen mount and it had been bent out of shape. What I finally realized I could do was to make a washer from a piece of aluminum can; I did exactly that and put it all back together. But the bezel wouldn't stay together in that corner, so I epoxied it together.

Tonight I completed reassembly. The hinge looks and works as if it had never been broken--I did adjust the tension on it so it won't flex the plastic there as much--and I plugged it in and turned it on with the usual trepidation.

It booted up fine; in fact, it resumed rather than booted, popped right back into the middle of the video Dad had been watching the last time he used the computer. It hadn't lost the date or time, either, despite having sat in our basement for two years.

Now I'm reinstalling Windows 7 on it, because Dad always had a problem with getting viruses and junkware on his computers. But it's fixed, 100%, and is usable again.

Well, I say "100%" but there are some things I couldn't do anything about. The microphone for the webcam--the cable for that got broken, because the hinge was; ditto for one of the WiFi antenna cables--and these are tiny coaxial wires that you just can't solder back together, so I removed them. Despite that, the WiFi seems to work fine on the one antenna.

Intel SU1400 processor: two cores, 1300 MHz. 8 GB of RAM. It's no powerhouse but it'll run Office or the equivalent, and it'll play video just fine, too. I may end up using the memory somewhere else, or may not, depending on what comes down the pike. In all probability I can get a medium-sized SSD for it for not a lot of money and replace the HDD with it, and get a good performance boost that way.

Not a bad computer for what I have invested in it, anyway, which is mostly time, and materials I had on hand.

* * *

Took a gander at this one YouTube channel, Chud 327, which I look at because he got a sand rail and fixed it up, and occasionally does videos about it. Today I was pleased to see that he'd done another sand rail video, until I saw what happened in the video.

He traded it. For an incomplete V8 Beetle project.

He takes it out for a drive, then shows the Beetle rolling off the trailer, and then the sand rail is on the trailer, and then it's driving away on the trailer. NOooooo.

The Beetle doesn't have steering or brakes or a firewall. Its electrical system is a tangled mass of wires. I mean what are you doing you have a sand rail! He traded it for a Beetle which has had an American V8 put in it, along with the appropriate drivetrain, frame and suspension components etc. Basically a Beetle body shell on the (shortened) frame of an American car. Whyyyyyyy?

The guy originally paid something like $200 for the sand rail; it was a rolling chassis with a few other parts included like seats, transmission, etc. He got an engine for it and finished it, installing everything and making it street legal. That's, like, my dream, right there, to get an unfinished sand rail for not a lot of money and build it. You know?

Well, some people like to build more than they like to drive, I suppose. Oh well.

* * *

Some new WoW updates went live today, including the new player races--Kul Tiran (human) on Alliance side, and Zandalari (trolls) on Horde.

The Kul Tiran race is the "new" human models that some folks lost their crap over some months before Battle for Azeroth was released, claiming that Blizzard was turning the human female characters into Tumblrina-type fatties because feminism. But they come with a scant handful of neat racial bonuses (as do the Zandalari) and I'm looking forward to unlocking them.

* * *

It was nice outside today, a bit above 50. I experienced the warm afternoon weather for two whole minutes while I was on break.

* * *

Well, the install of Win 7 Pro is just about finished. I'd better hit the hay.
Tuesday, March 12th, 2019
6:59 pm
#6573: If they are "seeking asylum" and commit a felony, SEND THEM BACK
This is the problem. If you allow large numbers of refugees of third-world shitholes into your country, they will bring the shithole with them.

If you are in a foreign country, seeking asylum, it is incumbent upon you to be on your best behavior. If you cannot do that--if you are, for example, going to take part in the gang rape of a 17-year-old girl--you should be shipped right the fuck back to the shithole that spawned you. No ifs, ands, or buts.

* * *

Speaking of shitholes there're more information on what Pritzker's "Fair" tax scheme will cost the middle class.

Pritzker's scheme will end up increasing taxes on people by a fair margin. It includes all kinds of crap that even the federal tax scheme doesn't do. For one thing the tax brackets are not indexed to inflation; for another, the same tax brackets apply to single and married people--so if you file jointly, your combined income puts you in a higher tax bracket.

The purpose of Pritzker's scheme is not to make taxes "more fair" but to make them higher, as high as possible, on any and all productive members of society living in the state.

I think this says it best:



* * *

This is my shocked face, right here. The feds have charged a bunch of rich people with bribing posh schools to let their kids in.
Hollywood actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are among 50 people charged in a $25 million college entrance exam cheating scheme, according to court documents unsealed Tuesday.

The alleged scam focused on getting students admitted to elite universities as recruited athletes, regardless of their athletic abilities, and helping potential students cheat on their college exams, according to the indictment unsealed in Boston.
Yeah. Oh, what a surprise this is.

* * *

Two things that are cute and fun, but I can't embed:

Petting a duck.

A dog that was raised with rabbits. Instead of, I assume, other dogs.

* * *

Vox Day wonders why Pelosi suddenly has no stomach for "direct conflict" with President Trump.

* * *

Well, it was almost warm today. 50. Can't complain. Then again, we're perhaps a bit more than a week from the spring equinox. Whee!
Monday, March 11th, 2019
9:59 pm
#6572: I can't keep using it though
Refer to the YouTube video posted here and go to 1:30 in the video for my reaction to today's headlining item.

Because political capital is finite and she knows she would LOSE. If Pelosi thought she could make any hay whatsoever out of impeaching the President, she'd already be doing it.

* * *

Not having an illness in your first year of life is a risk factor for leukemia. This is a serious, major-league breakthrough in preventing that disease.

* * *

Socialism is doing what it does best, which is to spread misery and poverty.

* * *

Democrat pedophile somehow morphs into a Trump scandal. Media, in lockstep as usual, is referring to the pervert as a "friend of Trump", apparently because one time he went to a Trump club a few times, until Trump had him banned because the perv propositioned an underaged girl.

Bill Clinton actually rode the pervert's "Lolita Express"--many times--but they don't refer to him as a "Friend of the Clintons", now do they?

* * *

This article is so chock-full of gobbledygook I can't even.
It is widely believed, says Crane, that every black hole produces a new baby universe on the other side of its singularity. If this is true, ABH technology will involve the creation process of universes. A society that decided to build the laser and other machinery to implement the ABH proposal would have to allocate resources comparable to building the pyramids over a timescale comparable to building the cathedrals. The work would have its fruition long after the initial builders’ lifespans.

The builders would understand their work as part of the eternal recreation of the universe, having purpose in the sense that the organs of animals develop purpose as the result of an evolutionary process. Their entire lives would have a higher purpose in that they result in the creation of new universes and new life, as well as spreading their descendants throughout the universe. It would also imply that our own universe is fine tuned because it is the result of the activity of earlier intelligence.
Now STOP RIGHT THERE, Einstein. "It is widely believed that every black hole produces a new baby universe on the other side of its singularity." No it isn't.

But that's just the first problem with this article.

"A starship could be constructed using the Hawking radiation from an artificial nanoscopic black hole." WAT

"The construction of a starship...involves technical problems, such as...finding a way to reflect gamma radiation for which current technology has no solution." If you're using a gamma ray telescope to observe these starships, you've already solved that problem. (Hint: we have gamma ray telescopes.)

This article is a load of crap, poorly written, and ludicrous.

* * *

Simply astounding. As accurate as it can be, a scale model of Rome in its heyday.

That first picture--I recognize the Colosseum on the right; is that the Circus Maximus on the left? (Wikipedia says yes. Hey, look at how educated I is!)

* * *

I like this. The suggestion is that white men adopt islam:
I suggest that we take the tenets of Mohammed's faith exactly as seriously as the Liberals take the tenets of theirs--as an all-purpose virtue scam and get-out-of-responsibility-free card. Change your name to Achmed Raheem al Shabazz, slap a kufi on your bean, and feel free to tell gays, Jews, trannies, and feminists to fuck right off. And if someone catches you noshing a bacon-and-whiskey sandwich on Friday night when you should be banging your head on the floor at the mosque, well, you still take Shari'a at least as seriously as Al Gore does climate change.
Right there, that's some prime satire. Or an honestly modest proposal.

* * *

Imagine if your phone company policed your speech the way Twitter and Facebook do.

* * *

It's been a pretty busy day here in the bunker. Work-from-home doesn't mean sitting here playing WoW all the time, after all; it means handling emails and calls from people who need help cudgeling their junk into working correctly. And that's what I do: I beat junk until it works!

...wait, that didn't come out right.
Sunday, March 10th, 2019
11:49 pm
#6571: Banana bread!
When they start to get brownish, that's when I start thinking about making it. Mrs. Fungus does not often buy bananas, but since I discovered that it is incredibly easy to make banana bread, now I won't let her throw the bananas away when they start to brown. Oh, no! You put those things in the fridge.

2.3 cups of mashed bananas (more or less to taste)
1/2 cup of butter
2 cups flour
1/2 TSP salt
1 TSP baking soda
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and mix thoroughly. Add bananas and mix thoroughly.

Mix flour, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl, then add this mixture to the mixed wet ingredients, just enough to get it all moistened. Add a cup of chopped walnuts if you want.

Turn this into a lightly-greased loaf pan and bake for about an hour at 350. Maybe a bit longer; tonight's effort took 75 minutes to be done. Test with toothpick. Clean toothpick=done.

Not sure where I got this recipe from, but it's pretty good, and fairly easy to boot. You want to use overripe bananas; not only are they easier to mash but they have the right flavor. This time I used four bananas about 8" long. The recipe mentions using banana flavoring, but you don't really need it.

I am, in fact, going to have another slice.
Saturday, March 9th, 2019
5:02 pm
#6570: AHHH HA HA HA HA HA -ulk-
1:30 for what that title sounds like:



We start with Captain Marvel.

Rotten Tomatoes reportedly deleted something like 54,000 bad reviews of the stinkeroo--some 93 percent of them!--and managed to raise its public rating from 33% good to 36% good.

Well, as far as I'm concerned, that means that Rotten Tomatoes is pretty much useless as a guide to what movies are good. If you're removing effectively all of the reviews of a movie, because you don't like what they say, then you're not an independent reviewer. You're nothing but a shill.

Expect their revenue to decline sharply, now, as people stop visiting the site.

* * *

If you just remember that the story was originally set smack dab in the middle of North America you'll be fine. Battle Angel Alita (BAA) is not really my cup of tea. Read the first volume of manga, never really cared to see the anime based entirely on that.

There are a lot of cyborg dystopias in anime. Bubblegum Crisis, Ghost in the Shell, AD Police--and more, and more. They range from grim and gritty like those series, to light, like Eat Man. Mostly they're just bad people doing bad things, sometimes for good reasons, and they never really appealed to me. BAA is the same. So, BAA the movie will be available on pay-per-view sooner or later, and that's probably when I'll see it.

...but given a choice between BAA and Captain Marvel, I'd see BAA hands down.

* * *

This really is a good description of playing D&D in business-speak. That's exactly how it is.

I would just hate having to answer questions about it in an interview, is all....

* * *

Cold, blustery, rainy today. It's got me thinking about AV, because part of the story I'm trying to write now takes place on a set of worlds which are collectively chilly, blustery, and rainy. Permanent November. Or today.

That got me to thinking about this web site, which I use to find out how far it is between the various colonies in my universe. It takes the Earth-centric spherical coordinates favored by astronomers (where in the sky, and how far distant from Earth) for each of the two stars and then finds the actual distance between them. It does require rather a lot of referring, cutting, and pasting to use.

I thought to myself, "The math is all laid out there. Why couldn't I write a program to do that for me?"

A) there's the web site, so why bother; B) the only programming languages I own are for DOS and 25 years obsolete; C) the only improvements I could make would be in the input stage; D) none of my programs ever work quite right.

Oh, and E) feature creep would set in. I would find a stellar catalog I could use, then try to set the program up to parse entries in it for their spherical coordinates and translate them into Cartesian etc so I could just select the stars from the catalog. That, or else I would have a data file that the spherical coordinates of stars were saved to, and could then select from that list or "add new star".

Next thing you know I've got this bloatware project which doesn't quite run right. *sigh*

It doesn't sound like a complicated project, but believe me--once I start on these things, that's approximately how it goes. I'm not a programmer. I can hack around in C+ and Pascal, enough to have passed my programming classes, but my code is crap and I know it. (And BASIC is right out.)

Anyway, all of this came up because in AV, aliens had previously gone into hyperspace from the site of the Great Space War Fizzle, bound for a human colony world out on the rim, and I was wondering if they had had time to get there yet. Because if they had, that was a good place to pick up the story.

Thinking about it now, though, I don't want to do that. Need to leave something for $Release_Candidate_One, and the only thing I could do with the aliens is to spoil all the stuff that comes up in that story. Oh well.
Friday, March 8th, 2019
5:38 pm
#6569: That's today's beginning, right there
Today's Rotten Chestnuts is about the current state of the Democrat party, and it says, "...when Stephen Douglas is your best case scenario it's about to start raining bullets." The context of this is a discussion of how the Democrat party is failing to operate, from a management or command-structure viewpoint.
Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are the platoon leaders and they are--as much as it vexes me to write this--doing a good job. They're supposed to represent the viewpoint of their constituents on the national stage, and since their constituents are rabid antisemites and brainless hipsters, respectively, they're succeeding brilliantly. The problem is, they're not thinking up like a good platoon commander should, and so you get the schadenfreudily delicious spectacle of the entire Democratic Party concluding that a "resolution" against "hate"--the easiest gestural-politics slam dunk this site of "kittens are cute"--is just too extreme for the American people.
Stephen Douglas could have gotten that thing passed, he says, but....

Well worth reading.

* * *

Captain Marvel awesome, Infinity war "boring". That's how you know you're reading a review that you do not need to take seriously: when they refer to a movie as "boring" that had you on the edge of your seat the entire time.

The soyboy who wrote the review says that this movie is better than Iron Man. I mean, look at this drivel:
The simple answer of "saving the universe" doesn't cut it for this script, and Larson's character has to face off with various friends and foes to figure out an answer to that question that she actually believes in. Gosh, even typing that sentence makes me well up with emotion, thinking about the surprises and delights that Larson unearths for her character running up to the film's bombastic conclusion.
Translation: PLEASE WOMYN SEE HOW FEMINIST I AM PLEASE LET ME SEE A PUSSY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE I DON'T MIND BUZZ CUTS ON WOMYN PLEASE

...holy shit. I think rereading that paragraph just cost me a few millmeters of length, if you know what I mean.

* * *

File this under "stopped clock". It is indeed so that Google especially is becoming--if it is not already--a monopoly, the kind of massive corporation that the antimonopoly laws were meant to prevent.

WTF if Microsoft including a browser in Windows 98 made them a monopoly, then Google sure as hell is one. "We have the #1 search engine on the Internet, the biggest email service, and about forty percent of the installed cell phone OS market. We also have this and this and that and the other thing."

* * *

Global warming is all about scientists getting government research money.

* * *

Democrats attempting to replace the voters. This should be stopped by the Senate; and even if it's not, the President will veto it.

I kind of wish that the right to vote was spelled out in the Constitution, explicitly, in the original document. The Founders left the franchise up to the states--because the original model for the US was essentially a confederation of independent states--and that endured until the federal government started gathering power to itself. But if they had simply stated that only citizens of the US may vote, that would make this Democrat ploy a lot harder to pull off.

On the other hand, though, the Founders probably envisioned a simpler tyranny than the one the Democrats are attempting to emplace.

* * *

This point seems obvious, no?
Since Mr. Clyburn dismisses the pain and suffering endured by people who are still living among us, his statement seems to obviate the need for us to pay reparations to black Americans, none of who are alive today who were once in chains. Thanks for that clarification, sir.
Yep! Thanks for that. The next time we hear talk about "reparations" we can mention this.

* * *

Reporters try to focus on the important bit.
The fact that the Democrats are circling the wagons around an open, undisguised anti-Semite who refuses to stop making anti-Semitic statements is mentioned only in passing; no, the idiot reporter thinks the real story here is that the Republicans are "pouncing" on it. News items like this are the best proof of media bias. Find me a story in the MSM wherein the Democrats are said to be "pouncing" or "seizing" on something and I'll eat a bug.
That is exactly so.

* * *

But perhaps "tenuous" is the word, after all.
Now, the indomitable Pelosi has just been beaten down by her own political party. Led by the anti-Semitic wing, comprising young Muslims, young socialists and the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Democrats forced Pelosi to back down, to cave to pressure.

She had wanted to pass a House Resolution condemning anti-Semitism, something that has lately taken up residence in Democratic minds and hearts. Faced with a backlash from the left, she watered down the resolution… to include every Democratic special interest group. So, Rep. Ilhan Omar won. Louis Farrakhan cheered. So did David Duke. The great Pelosi lost her own caucus.
Here's the problem: leftism always goes after the Jews first. ALWAYS. It's the first thing that happens in any country where socialism takes hold that there are also Jewish people: they go after the Jews. It's an extremely effective indicator of just how bad a movement is.

Just take a look at the history of Jews in Europe and Russia and the middle east. Anywhere there is a socialist movement and Jews, they are immediately at odds with each other--and if the socialists win, the Jews suffer terribly.

This is a bellwether moment for the Democrat party, the first time since WW2 that they officially went on the record as not giving a rat's ass about Jews. And that's not a good trend.

* * *

Illinois governor's new tax scheme is going to cost a lot of people too much money, and because these are the people who can afford to leave the state, it will increase the rate of exodus of producers, eroding the tax base further.

* * *

That will make for interesting events, won't it? "I love this story, because 1, I hate the Olympics and 2, I want conservatives to do well in 2020." Seconded.

The thing is, this will all run in one direction. It will be "trans"-women (who are biological men that identify as women) beating the hell out of biological women in all the womens' events. There will be no--or, at best, extremely few--counterexamples, where biologically female contenders beat biologically male contenders in the mens' events.

There will, I expect, be more than one new record set for womens' events.

I don't know what effect it will have on voting in the US, but it will rub peoples' noses in the whole transgender issue. One way or another they'll have to decide what they think about it. Ace thinks that will work well for Republicans; I'm not so sure, but I do know that it'll be damned entertaining to watch RuPaul's Drag Olympics.

* * *

Awesome. Dragon 2 made a successful landing, unscathed. The flight, docking, and recovery of the thing makes for a successful test.

The US can once again send people to space.

Realize something: the hiatus in manned American flights to space between the last Saturn and the first Shuttle flight was six years. If a manned Dragon capsule flies this year, the hiatus after the Shuttle will have lasted eight years. Nine, if they wait until 2020. And the only reason America can send people to orbit in 2019 is because of SpaceX, a private company. NASA didn't build this; they're still fucking around with feasibility studies and component tests.
Also resting on their laurels are other American launch providers...Boeing, Lockheed, ULA. The Delta IV and Atlas V looked *really* outdated compared to Falcon, and the ULA "Vulcan" launcher, which throws away the whole booster except for a propulsion/avionics module which is to be air-snatched prior to splashdown, is a half-hearted joke compared to the Falcon 9's recoverable boosters.
Any rocket which is totally disposable looks like an antique, thanks to SpaceX.

Especially since SpaceX just flew a totally-reusable and privately-owned spacecraft, one which can fly to orbit and come back to Earth and then be reused, just like its booster. And Dragon 2 will be reused for an in-flight abort test.

This is what the future of space travel looks like. And the view sure looks good.

* * *

To be fair, it was a good idea. But realistic SF is an extrapolation of current technology, and actual space rockets were already not far-fetched in the 1920s. Bear in mind that Goddard's first liquid-fueled rocket flew on March 16, 1926--we're just shy of 93 years from that date at this writing--and his treatise "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes" was published in 1919 after being written in 1916.

The state-of-the-art in technology was ripe for the development of liquid-fueled engines, else he would not have been able to do it; it was merely a matter of doing the necessary research to figure out the particulars.

* * *

Now for the fun stuff.

Today's XKCD:



I always knew there was more to it than that.

And:

Given what it says on the overhead, I too have to wonder how badly he failed. In D&D, a "critical fumble" occurs when you roll a "1" on the 20-sider, and then roll another "1" on your follow-up roll. I'd say that if you're trying to read a caliper, and something ends up on fire, that'd be a critical fumble, all right.

Heh.
Thursday, March 7th, 2019
7:20 pm
#6568: Give me a BREAK!
So--last night I finished watching Shimoneta and another ep of Fruits Basket and decided I'd do a little reading. I wanted to listen to Kansas' Masque as I did, figuring it'd make a great timer: when the music was over, it was bedtime. Simple.

First thought: I was reading on my tablet, so I'd search for the album name on YouTube and let it play in the background. Every other time I have not deliberately closed a video on that tablet, it would keep playing even if I returned to the home page on the thing.

First it wanted me to use the YouTube app; I agreed but then it said "upgrade app" and would not let me do anything else, so I went back to Chrome. Found a playlist, ran it--that one's not in order, try another; ah, that's good. Play that one. Now to switch over to the reader--

Nope! Instant I went to home page, browser stopped playing video.

Okay, so I have to use the app. Fine. Let's take a few minutes to update that. Well, Play Store just says "open"--I tried that way three times and each time it led to the same screen I got before, "you must upgrade, peon!"--so did it thru Chrome, and that let me upgrade. Okay! Finished! Now let's use the app--

I told you, you must upgrade, peon! Bend over that barrel!

*sigh*

Fine. Gave up on doing it all on one device; I went to the CD rack in the living room and got the physical CD. Stuck that into the Playstation and plugged my headphones into the controller. It's neat how the base unit can transmit sound to the controller, and you can plug the headphones in, and not bother anybody.

Nothing. No option to play the disk. Thinking it was because it was a CD, I downloaded a media player app for the Playstation. Still nothing. Ejected the disk and reinserted it: "DISK NOT RECOGNIZED".

Gave up on listening to the music while reading.

I do have a portable CD player somewhere, but I'm not sure where it is because I rarely use it. It's only useful in those limited circumstances where it's late, I want to listen to music, and the music isn't already available elsewhere. I was not taking the time to rip the CD then, so I just sat and read in silence like I normally do when reading in the wee hours of the morning.

You see, this kind of stupid crap is why I oppose the RIAA and all of their copy-protection horseshit. Imagine what it would be like if I needed a specific device to play the CD and couldn't just pop it into my computer to rip it to MP3. And, further, imagine that the device was no longer being manufactured, as is the case with my laserdisks. I should be able to convert between formats entirely unhindered.

Luckily, the RIAA didn't win on MP3s.

* * *

If the Democrat party did not rely on the black vote, they would still be the party of Jim Crow. Overtly, I mean, not covertly as they are now.

Hey, Democrats! KKK Grand Wizard David Duke is on your side. He loves your newest anti-semitic Representative; he's saying she's the "most important member of Congress".

* * *

Finally.
This is stuff that only a technologically advanced society (read: Western culture) can do: produce a strain of rice that generates the precursor to Vitamin A, so without any additional effort or expense we can prevent more than a million deaths and blindnesses each year.

Sounds like a no-brainer...right! But the arguments against it began almost immediately, and ran the table of Leftist crap. It took 25 years to develop, and the pushback was psychotic, because the arguments were mostly theoretical, but people...MILLIONS OF PEOPLE...were dying and going blind because of Vitamin A deficiency.

Too bad the left didn't feed all of those omelets they were making with those broken eggs to the folks who were dying...

Golden Rice is coming. Finally! Will it be the game-changer hinted at for almost 20 years?
The thing that concerns me most about leftism is its howling hunger for the deaths of millions of people. Whenever I see some technological advance that will benefit Mankind being opposed, I never see that opposition coming from the right. It always--ALWAYS--ALWAYS--comes from the left.

The left opposes anything that will make people healthier, happier, more comfortable, or improves their lives in any way whatsoever. It opposes it based on whatever reasoning is most convenient without regard for the suffering that would be alleviated. The left agitates for things that will decrease the quality of life, that will make life harder, that will result in misery and suffering.

The left doesn't oppose "golden rice" because it's a GMO food or any of the other things; it opposes it because it would improve peoples' lives. Anything that saves lives is anathema to leftism. Anything that allows a group of people to lift themselves from poverty must be crushed. Anything that prevents disease is to be strictly controlled so that the wrong people don't get it.

That's the reality of leftism. If it were not, if leftism were actually about improving peoples' lives and fighting for the little guy, they would not do the things they do because they fail every time they're tried. They would look at their results and say, "This isn't working. What else can we try?" But they don't; when they fail, they double down on it. They repeat their failures as many times as possible and claim, "Well, it wasn't done by the right people." They insist that the failures happen because of a lack of funding, or too narrow a scope, or interference from their enemies. Never because their ideas are fucking impossible.

ALWAYS. Without fail, turning a blind eye to its previous failures, because the suffering is the whole point.

* * *

And, I say again, ignoring its own past. The Representative from mohammed-(D) is naturally an anti-semite, because islamic savage, and the Democrats have determined that muslims are more important to them than anyone else. That makes sense considering that islam is everything a totalitarian wants in a religion.

So: the Democratic whip is saying that things from which we are "generations removed" are unimportant compared to the experiences of modern people.

* * *

Police really hate it when they don't have a monopoly on violence. I used to have a lot more respect for police than I do these days.

* * *

There are exceptions, of course. Second City Cop, for example. I agree, that's not a "mistake". A "mistake" is putting too much garlic powder in your BBQ rub, or forgetting to put a new roll of toilet paper on the hanger.

Running from police while carrying an illegal firearm? Not a mistake.

* * *

I just want to quote one thing from this article on how fragile the Earth is not:
Geophysicists estimate that just three volcanic eruptions--Indonesia (1883), Alaska (1912) and Iceland (1947)--spewed more carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere than all of mankind's activities during our entire history.
The CO2 concentration is just a number and Man's contribution to it is dwarfed by the natural sources.

Luckily, the heat that can be absorbed by CO2 is finite, and reaches a point of "diminishing returns" far below current levels. Above about 200 ppm, CO2 basically stops mattering. You can get more warming by adding CO2, but you need to add a lot of it--to the point of making the atmosphere actively poisonous to us--in order to see a significant increase in global temperature.

The thermal balance of the ecosphere is not fragile; there is a great deal of negative feedback built into it, keeping it relatively stable. This is demonstrated by the fact that there is no evidence of "runaway global warming" in the geological record.

Earth's climate is bistable; the planet is basically an ice world with occasional warm periods. Warming is not what we should be afraid of, and it's not something we can cause. Cooling is what we need to worry about.

* * *

I agree: get out the popcorn; this should be good. It's interesting to hear Pelosi's grip on the House described as "tenuous".

* * *

Well--it's now lunchtime on Thursday, and after that I've got three hours left. Then Friday--and finally it'll be the weekend. Hopefully it'll be an enjoyable time.
12:20 am
#6567: Rumors of its death have been exaggerated.
Curiosity is back in action.

Heh. People wrote the thing off, but they shouldn't have. It takes more than a dust storm and a low battery to stop Curiosity!

* * *

And this was worth a chuckle.

* * *

Just remember something: when the solar panels are covered in ice and snow and the bitter cold air has frozen the oil in the windmills' gearboxes, nuclear power works.

One nuclear power plant--one--can generate enough power to satisfy Seattle's regular electricity demand.

* * *

Mrs. Fungus and I watched Forbidden Planet this evening. Holy crap is that a good movie.

* * *

ADDENDUM: Last night, on Faceboob, I saw an ad in their marketplace for a 2001 Jeep Cherokee. It was basically the Jeep Cherokee I have, one year newer, and in a lot better shape. A lot less wear and tear, half the mileage. White exterior, grey interior. Looked great to me.

Asking price: $6,500. Uh...a bit overpriced. Depending on rust, though, might be a good investment if you don't want to have a vehicle with all the excessive computer crap in it. The I6 engines in those things just go.

It sure looked like it was in good shape, though. *sigh*
Wednesday, March 6th, 2019
4:40 pm
#6566: Stalin is dead, after all.
Why can't we celebrate it? The guy makes Hitler look like Barney the Dinosaur. Hitler had about six million people killed. Stalin? Twenty million, more than three times as many. And that's the conservative estimate.

Mao takes the cake, of course, with a conservative estimate of 60,000,000 Chinese dead.

Makes me recall the use of the "Hitler" as a unit of measurement of evil. Stalin would be 3.33 Hitlers. Mao would be 10 Hitlers. Like that.
...[E]ven in theory, socialism implicitly requires theft, enslavement, deprivation, imprisonment, murder, and mass deception. The country and its people make little difference to the downward progression. No other pair of countries illustrates the difference socialism makes than North and South Korea. Situated in the same place with the same group of people in the same circumstances, socialism alone made the difference between one becoming rich and developed and the other becoming a miniature Hell on Earth.
This is exactly so.

* * *

Heh a boner is not exactly new, cutting-edge social commentary. "The phallus — used as a symbol of good luck by the Romans of the time —" Yeah, right. Sure.

"Heh, Lucius, this is what I think of Hadrian's Wall."

"That's, great, Titus! That's really mature! Now get your ass over here and help me move this."

* * *

"Crock of shit" pretty much sums up Democrat spin on any matter, not just Amazon pulling out of NYC.

* * *

Container rates from China to US have "collapsed" according to the leading indicators. But I don't know how worried I'd be about it, considering it's "collapsing" from the highest point in eighteeen months.

* * *

Cold Fury characterizes the opioid crisis as one that "ain't" and it's hard to argue his point. "Less than 1% of the addicts on the street got their start with prescription opioids. And chronic pain patients rarely die of overdoses."

It's more of government sticking its nose where it doesn't belong.

The thing is, making something harder to get legally doesn't stop illegal use of the product. In fact, it doesn't even slow down illegal use. That's why you can make it super-duper-illegal to own a gun in Chicago and still have a four-digit firearm casualty rate every year. The legal firearm owners aren't the ones doing drive-by shootings; faced with the choice of disarming or moving out of the city the legal owners make that choice based on their own preferences and abilities. But the criminals aren't deterred by the additional penalties for illegal gun ownership. Facing 20 years for "aggravated assault with a firearm", a thug isn't going to worry much about an additional 3-5 years for "carrying a gun without a CCW permit".

But by the reasoning that the government employs, we should take away the cars of sober people to stop drunk driving.

* * *

The first vignette here is about Uber. "We shouldn't be hitting things every 15,000 miles." Most drivers can go much longer than that without hitting anything. Until and unless the automatic systems are at least that good--

* * *

Remembering the dire predictions of global warming. Like all doomsayers, they were wrong. Old article is old, but still fun to read.

* * *

This. I can excuse the sound effects and the turning ships and the visible energy bolts. The debris was a lovely touch to that space battle, something not normally done by anyone prior to Gravity.

In my own recent space battles I did give a bit more than lip service to the cleanup afterwards; since the battle took place in Earth orbit I knew I couldn't just ignore that, and space battles make a lot of crap. Unlike in Star Wars, ships don't just conveniently vaporize when hit and flying through one while it's exploding would smash your ship to bits as you hit the shrapnel at multiple kilometers per second. Bad idea.

* * *

Not exactly a good sales line. The 8-second summary of Captain Marvel: "Carol Danvers is a tomboy with resting bitch face who accidentally becomes the most powerful being in existence."

Media types who desperately don't want to have their access cut off are trying to find nice things to say about it, and failing.

There is a big, big problem with having an ultra-powerful character of any sort, and that comes from the fact that an omnipotent being cannot be countered, or even frustrated--not even temporarily.

That's why Superman is vulnerable to kryptonite; without some kind of vulnerability there would be no one on Earth who could oppose him. And where's the dramatic tension when you know that Superman will save the day because there's absolutely nothing that can prevent it?

The first Superman movie with Christopher Reeve, for example. Lois Lane gets killed, so Superman just reverses time in order to get to her before she dies. What can't Superman do? (Next movie, General Zod and a couple of his cohorts escape from the Phantom Zone, and they go to Earth, getting there just as Clark Kent has given up his superpowers. Whee! A double-whammy, he has to fight people who are just as powerful as he is after getting his powers back.)

Carol Danvers ends up having absolutely no conflict in her life; just presto! she's Captain Marvel and can do literally anything and gee! Who cares about what effect her new omnipotence has on her daily life?

Writing an interesting story about any super-powerful being is not at all easy. It's difficult, because if the character is not challenged, there is no conflict, and you don't have a story. You have a series of affirmations: "Mary Sue is so smart! Mary Sue is so dextrous! Mary Sue is so strong! Mary Sue is good at everything! It's all because she's so talented and perfect in every way!"

And that's boring.

The first Harry Potter movie was like that. There was no conflict at all; it was boring crap because there was nothing that was allowed even to inconvenience Harry. I thought, at the end, that at least Gryffindor wouldn't win the whatever-prize-it-was--and that would have salvaged the movie for me if that had been the case!--but Dumbledore made up a bunch of extra crap so it would, and oh boy Harry Potter wins the day! Hooray!

*blurk*

...totally turned me off the entire ouerve.

* * *

Me: "The password needs to be 8-10 characters long."

Them: "I want it to be 'MONSTERBALL2018$'!"

*sigh*
Tuesday, March 5th, 2019
7:00 pm
#6565: How about calling them "tourists"? Would that be too much of a stretch?
"Soon, hundreds of tourists will go to space. What should we call them?" Arse Technica's headline asks the question; my post title gives the (F-ING OBVIOUS) answer.

Okay? Passengers riding in commercial spacecraft are passengers; people going to orbit just to go there are tourists. The English language has perfectly acceptable words for these concepts; I realize this is a radical idea but let's just use those.

One of the things that impressed me about Dragon 2 was that it had navigation lights on it: red for port and green for starboard, at the bow. And $5 says there was a white one on the stern of the thing, too.

Just like any boat or ship.

You may have noticed that aircraft are the same way, with red and green lights on the left and right wingtips respectively. Many aviation conventions come from the maritime conventions; and astronautical conventions naturally come from aviation. No one had any trouble with using all those words and concepts in differing contexts, so why do we need to suddenly invent new words when it comes to space?

We don't.

"But the FAA will only recognize 'crew,' not passengers," says the article. Maybe--here's another radical idea!--it's time for the FAA to catch up with the 21st century and realize that we will soon have spacecraft in commercial service. And commercial spacecraft will be carrying passengers, some of whom will be tourists.

* * *

Rent control limits what you can charge for rental property, but it does have the advantage of making owned property a lot more valuable. Take a look at San Francisco, which has rent control--property values are sky-high out there. Of course, in order for that to be the case, people actually have to want to live there, which is dubious considering what a socialist shithole Illinois is.

* * *

Well, that's...something. Googe did a study into the whole "equal pay for equal work" thing and discovered that...well...Googe pays women more than it pays men for the same jobs.

Hurm. Well. Uh...good? I guess, if you're into that whole "social justice" thing? But feminists aren't going to be able to make very much hay out of that, are they?

* * *
The truth is that black Americans have never stood as tall as when you marched in the non-violent campaign of civil rights back in the 1960s.

Actually, I am not sure that any Americans have stood as tall as black Americans did in the civil rights era.

The fact is that the Civil Rights Acts went about as far as politics and legislation can go for any marginalized and oppressed group. Ever since, we have been arguing about girl stuff like "I can't believe she said that." We have been arguing about trifles.

And if the main objective on civil rights was reached in the '60s by making racial discrimination illegal, then why has the use of "racism," per Google Ngram, shot into the stratosphere after the civil rights era?
Because people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton get big paydays from it, that's why. And because that way black people will consistently and faithfully vote for Democrats.

* * *

She's been a Representative for 43 days and already she's got a major scandal on her hands:
* Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a top aide appear to control an outside PAC credited with being the central force behind her June 2018 primary victory.
* One former Federal Election Commission member thinks there would be a "serious investigation" if a complaint were filed, noting that the probe could potentially result in civil penalties or even jail time for Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff.
* A second former commissioner said there were possibly "multiple violations of federal campaign finance law."
But of course she is a Democrat and so nothing will happen. Campaign finance laws are for Republicans, after all.

* * *

So, that old global warming--

No days above 70° in Los Angeles in February. They even had a bit of snow. The coldest February on record for Los Angeles, going back 132 years.

Now this is closer to science than the usual stuff from climatologists: "There is warming, but we don't really understand its causes. The human factor and carbon dioxide, in particular, contribute to warming, but how much is the subject of intense scientific debate." Saying "we don't really understand its causes" is a direct contradiction to "the science is settled!" because while she's still insisting that warming is taking place, she's not saying it's all due to human activity.

But then you notice that this woman is a former climatologist, and not an active one, and it all begins to make sense.

"Renewable energy" fails the common sense test.
In order to build one of the biggest solar farms in California the developers hired biologists to pull threatened desert tortoises from their burrows, put them on the back of pickup trucks, transport them, and cage them in pens where many ended up dying.
WOOHOO GO GO SOLAR POWER! *sigh*

And, by the way, THIS!
Germany’s carbon emissions have been flat since 2009, despite an investment of $580 billion by 2025 in a renewables-heavy electrical grid, a 50 percent rise in electricity cost.

Meanwhile, France produces one-tenth the carbon emissions per unit of electricity as Germany and pays little more than half for its electricity. How? Through nuclear power.

Then, under pressure from Germany, France spent $33 billion on renewables, over the last decade. What was the result? A rise in the carbon intensity of its electricity supply, and higher electricity prices, too.
If you are all about reducing human carbon emissions, nuclear power is the A-number-one best way to do that. Full stop.

* * *

Oh, and by the way, A MILLION TIMES THIS:
It’s reasonable to ask whether nuclear power is safe, and what happens with its waste.

It turns out that scientists have studied the health and safety of different energy sources since the 1960s. Every major study, including a recent one by the British medical journal Lancet, finds the same thing: nuclear is the safest way to make reliable electricity.

Strange as it sounds, nuclear power plants are so safe for the same reason nuclear weapons are so dangerous. The uranium used as fuel in power plants and as material for bombs can create one million times more heat per its mass than its fossil fuel and gunpowder equivalents.

It’s not so much about the fuel as the process. We release more energy breaking atoms than breaking chemical bonds. What’s special about uranium atoms is that they are easy to split.

Because nuclear plants produce heat without fire, they emit no air pollution in the form of smoke. By contrast, the smoke from burning fossil fuels and biomass results in the premature deaths of seven million people per year, according to the World Health Organization.
Even if you add up all the fatalities from nuclear power accidents ever, and you include the people who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you still don't reach any "seven million", not even once.

* * *

I've got to look into this. If it's not too late.

* * *

It was "ARPANET" in those days, not the Internet. Al Gore invented the Internet, after all; don't you remember the 2000 campaign season? "During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

If Dan Quayle had said that, the entire American left would still be laughing at the fatuousness of the statement; and so in that spirit I gamely say, "Al Gore claims he invented the Internet." I suppose I could say "created" and be more accurate, but let's face it: serving lefties their own horseshit is too much fun.

* * *

People who take medicine don't necessarily become junkies. The assumption is that people who are prescribed Oxycontin end up addicted to it, and that's where the "opiate crisis" comes from. But that's not so.

While I don't doubt there are people who do end up addicted to prescription painkillers because their doc overmedicated them, that's not where the bulk of addicts come from. Greg House, MD, aside, addicts come from people who start out wanting the recreational side effects.

People who say, "Yeah, I've heard oxy really gives you a wicked buzz!" and then set out to score some oxy are the ones who end up addicted. "Saturday and Sunday I had six of 'em and I was toasted all weekend, man! I need more of that!"

Most people who are trying to get relief from pain aren't trying to spend their days in a narcotic haze; they're just trying to get on with their lives without agonizing pain. They're going to take the pills in the prescribed doses at the correct times so they're able to go to work or play with their kids or do whatever it is they're trying to do, but can't.

And you can't ban the damned pills because of the assholes who just want to get high. I mean, you certainly can, but as Prohibition demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt, people who want to get intoxicated will go to great lengths to get intoxicated, regardless of whether or not their intoxicant of choice is legal. All you do is to keep the stuff out of the hands of the law-abiding.

* * *

Been watching Shimoneta and Fruits Basket on Hulu. The latter is reasonably entertaining.

The former is way more entertaining that it has any right to be. In a dystopian future where saying dirty words is punishable with jail time, and having any risque material is too, the dirty joke terrorist Blue Snow stands against the Decency Squad and fights for the right to say "pussy" and "dick"!

Seeing part of one ep my wife asked, "Is this porn?" And the answer is "no"; this show could be aired on American broadcast television without any modification whatsoever. All the rude words are bleeped out, all naughty bits obscured in obvious fashion, all obscene gestures screened out. All that's left is allusion, metaphor, and innuendo.

The whole thing is a major-league sendup of SJW/NPC-ism. Of course I'm enjoying it.

* * *

So, one of the pizza places near here--one of the three that will deliver to the bunker--did something and now their pizzas are F-ING DELICIOUS, to the point that I want to eat a lot more of it than I can. Just ate about a quarter of a medium, want to eat more--but if I do, I will regret it, and so I must exercise will power until my hunger reflex catches up.

The closest pizza place to the bunker is overpriced and doesn't taste very good. The second closest is this place, and their pizza is what I remember pizzeria pizza tasting like when I was younger. It's the platonic ideal of pizza. And the third closest is a Dominoes; enough said.

Maybe one more piece.
Monday, March 4th, 2019
10:15 pm
#6564: Why not? It's not their money
NASA spends $150 million to launch a satellite mission instead of paying SpaceX prices. Because the United Launch Alliance protested.

The old guard in rockets and missiles can't beat SpaceX's prices. They can't, because they're geared towards "cost plus", where the government pays them their cost whatever that may be "plus" some reasonable profit. That means if you can take something off the shelf and put a big price tag on it, then figure your profit as a percentage, you clean up. "This engine costs $5,000,000!" The engine actually costs $1,000,000 because the development costs have already been amortized, and that's just what it runs to buy the materials and machine them--but no one involved is very curious about that. Anyway, it's used once and then thrown away. If your "plus" is 5%, then your profit on a one-use engine is $25,000 and the rocket uses three of them, so you can see how that works.

I think the proper role for NASA here is to say, "We need to be careful with our budget, so if you guys want our business, find a way to compete."

* * *

Americans mistrust the media because the media squandered their trust. Decades of slanted reporting will do that.

* * *

Gee, a hypocritcal leftist. What a fuckin' surprise. "Notably, none of her comebacks include an explanation for why she hasn't attempted to practice what she preaches." Because, the Green New Deal isn't for Representatives and Senators and Democrat politicians, silly! It's for the proles!

Anyone who honestly thinks that AOC or any of her buddies in the DNC believe that the GND should apply to them is smoking crack. This scheme is meant to make everyone else freeze in the dark while the politicians and the important people live it up.

How else would they know they're in power if they can't make everyone else suffer?

* * *

The EPA has done what it was formed to do. Pollution has been reduced by 73%, and "We have the safest drinking water of any country in the world,..." emphasis mine, you bet.

And they juggle words in order to expand their influence. "EPA's so-called quantitative cancer risk assessments have never quantitatively assessed the true risk of potentially carcinogenic exposures." In other words, they are spouting bullshit meant solely to increase the budget of the EPA.
...[A] substance could be classified as a "known Human Carcinogen" only if sufficient epidemiological evidence existed to establish a cause-and-effect relationship between cancer and exposure to that substance. However, in 1996 (the date of the first draft), EPA rewrote its Cancer Risk Assessment Guidelines (CRAGs) to allow it to classify substances as known human carcinogens in the absence of any epidemiological evidence of a cause-and-effect relationship.
Such as, "Holy crap, look at the name of that chemical! That's got so many syllables, it's got to be a carcinogen!"

Label: dihydrogen monoxide

And I'm not even remotely surprised by this:
When they were originally created, both federal agencies had legitimate problems to solve. But, EPA quickly became a victim of its own success. As the environment became cleaner, there were fewer and fewer real environmental problems to address. So, they began inventing them, initially by just making their dose-specific health guidelines and media–specific comparison values smaller to create the impression of increased "risk". Then, they would make the unsubstantiated and over-used claim that chemical X "is now more toxic than previously thought". But, it was almost never true.
Hence, for example, the drive to reduce arsenic in drinking water far below natural values.

* * *

Illinois has the worst credit rating of any state in the union because Mike Madigan has been in charge for far too long.

* * *

The latest Democrat health-care scheme is the socialized medical system they've always wanted where the government basically runs the entire medical system of the country. It's basically the exact same scheme that Hillary Clinton came up with in 1994.

* * *

A neat photographic trick.

* * *

Well, 15 more minutes in my Monday. Need food.
Sunday, March 3rd, 2019
5:41 pm
#6563: The VW 412
Let's talk about the air-cooled VW I owned.

In early 1989, wanting an air-cooled VW, I started to comb the want ads. Because this was 1989 there was no Craigslist; that was before Al Gore invented the Internet, so we had to go to the store and buy a physical copy of something to get them.

I can't remember for certain, now, the name of the publication, but I think it was the Weekly Shopper or something like that. It was about 1/2" of the cheapest newsprint you could find, crammed full of ads for everything.

Including cars.

I would buy one every so often just to peruse these ads, for cars, for recreational vehicles (motorcycles, go karts, etc) and whatever else caught my fancy. Not because I was in the market for anything, but because it was the late 1980s and it was cheap entertainment.

But after getting my first real job, I--who'd been into air-cooled VWs for a while--wanted to get a Bug and start fixing it up, and so off I went. The problem was, even then, people in this area thought that their junk was made of platinum-plated gold. Any time you came across a Beetle in any reasonable shape--meaning that you wouldn't have to do $3,000 worth of bodywork just to have floors in it--the seller wanted a premium for the thing. "Runs, some rust, $2,000" at a time when you could buy a brand new Hyundai for $6,000. And "some rust" meaning, "Hey, Fred Flintstone! Your car's ready!"

The car that I was looking for--and which didn't exist--would have a generally sound body but be in need of mechanical work. I did not have a welder, and because it did not occur to me that I could learn to weld, I had no plans to get one. Body work would require too much of an outlay--but I could do engine work like no one's business, and Bugs are so simple anyone with half a brain can fix one with basic tools and a reasonable supply of parts.

Ideally, the car would look good from twenty feet but not move under its own power. I could have fixed that.

But, as I said, those were rather thin on the ground. I could have had any number of half-finished "baja Bug" projects, cars that were missing major drivetrain components and had been ripped apart, but that wasn't what I wanted. Returning it to regular Beetle configuration meant body work; finishing someone's half-assed baja conversion did not appeal to me. Any cars that came with all--or even a majority--of their parts were overpriced. "Hey, buy my half-finished project car. It's only $1,000 minus engine!"

I did find, at a dealership, a powder-blue Beetle which ran beautifully and they wanted a reasonable price for it, $1,500. A few dings and scrapes, but totally solid. I took it for a test drive and it was a good car. But how does a 21-year-old with no credit and $300 to his name afford that? *sigh*

The ads yielded no fruit until I found an ad from a used car lot for a Volkswagen 412, $450. "Some rust, runs and drives."

It was several days before some friends and I could get out that way to look it over. One of my friends, EM, had offered to loan me the difference between what I had and what the car cost, provided that I included him in all the major repair work (engine rebuild or what-have-you) so he could learn how to do those things. I agreed.

The car had a hole in the driver's side floor, and the driver's side door sill was not in great shape--but for all that, the car was completely solid. No flex in the body. It had an oil leak, not a big one. There was cardboard separating the driver's seat from the battery (which was underneath it) and it was a weird-looking car--but it was an air-cooled VW and it drove okay and the price was right.

We went out there on our next day off. He talked turkey with the salesman and we left there with the car for $350. My friend just wrote a check for the amount, and off we went.

First stop was another friend's house. DB lived in the country and had space in his garage where we could get a good look at the car and do a little fiddling, so we convened there; and then after all was said and done we got on with the rest of our weekend.

Over the next few days I learned a few things about the car. First, the battery was just weak enough that when it was cold it needed a jump to start the car the first time every day. Only when it was cold and only the first time. A battery charger did it handily. Second, the cardboard was superfluous if you just used the frigging seat support that was right there, you car lot idiots.

Once it was insured, though, I was able to drive it, and drive it I did. The coldest night of the year in 1989 was a Friday and my group of friends all went bowling as we usually did on those nights, and inside that car it was toasty warm.

Things happened and life progressed.

My friend said, about a month after the purchase, "You know, they haven't cashed my check yet."

There were some problems getting the plates, but I did get them before the temporary permit expired.

When it warmed up outside, that was when I started digging into the thing in earnest. In our first investigative session I'd discovered a disconnected hose, and plugged it into the obvious place, and then the car--formerly reasonably zippy--turned into a slug. In the intervening time I'd bought the Haynes manual for the car, and one fine spring day I went through the engine compartment with the vacuum diagram in hand, and fixed all the misrouted hoses. I also made something like 3-4 trips to Trax Auto (remember them?) trying to get the right friggin' distributor cap and rotor, and did a complete tune-up on the thing. After all that? 27 MPG, neat as you please, with plenty of pep for a 1974 4-banger.

The hole in the driver's side was still a problem, but I covered it with cardboard and the floor mat. The door sill separated from the A-pillar--it had not been hanging on by much when we bought the thing--but everything was still solid, so I didn't worry about it. I mean, the driver's side door closed like it was a Rolls Royce, needing no force--pull it closed and click-click it was shut. Solid.

The car ran like a top. I almost overheated it once; I removed the cold-air intake from the hood thinking the engine would get more cold air without it, but no, that didn't work. When you're buzzing along at 60 MPH and your oil pressure light comes on--but it was just the fact that the oil was too hot and therefore too thin. Limped her home, put the cooling duct back on, never had another problem.

The oil leak--the dealer had thought it was the rear main seal, but it turned out to be one of the pushrod tubes was loose. I could put it in place, but it wouldn't stay; it'd be fine for a while but eventually it would work loose, and the next time I made a left turn bloosh and my oil pressure light would flicker on.

That took a single O-ring. Because the Porsche 914 used the same parts, that O-ring was $5. I jacked up the car, took the left side valve cover off, removed the rocker assembly, pulled out the tube, put the new O-ring on, snapped it into place, reassembled everything else--and never had another problem with it. I didn't even need to reset the valve lash.

Being that the car was 15 years old, it had other problems. The front tires were radials but the rears--one was a bias-ply snow tire, the other one a radial tire. I used my tax refund to buy two brand-new 165R15 tires and have them mounted on those rims; they went on the front. This was back when you could get two of those tires, mounted and balanced, for under $70 if you shopped carefully. I think the tires themselves were $25 apiece.

It developed a fuel leak: the tank was in the front, of course, and there was rubber tubing that connected it to the hard line that went to the fuel pump in back. That was leaking. I ended up laying in a puddle of gasoline on the driveway, and cracking my head on the corner of a gas can, before I got that one sorted out. It ended up being easiest just to replace all the rubber fuel lines up there but I had no way to stop the gas coming out. That was a mess.

There was the problem with the leaking fuel injector, too, of course. It connected to the fuel rail with a 2" piece of "high pressure" hose which was permanently crimped to the injector, and it went drip-drip-drip when the engine was running. $90 for a replacement. Reasoning that I had nothing to lose, I bought two hose clamps and a foot of "high-pressure" fuel line. Getting the crimp collar off was difficult and I cut myself in the process, but shortly I had the injector free of the leaking line. Clamped on 2" of hose, reinstalled it, crossed my fingers and started the engine...and it didn't leak at all, not so much as a single drop. Ever again.

I learned something important that day: sometimes, when designing something, the engineer goes overkill on it. That fuel injector did not need the kind of crimp fitting it had, which was made for hydraulic hoses. The fuel rail in that thing ran somewhere around 30 PSI and--for fuck's sake!--the injector was secured to the fuel rail with a radiator clamp. I don't know what the original hose was rated for, but I'd bet it was something like 60 or 100 PSI--which is ridiculous.

Another friend got a new high-zoot stereo in his car and let me have the factory head unit. I installed it in the glove compartment and put a pair of speakers on the package shelf and ran wires. Now I could listen to music.

And that August, EM told me something: the dealership had never cashed the check he wrote. It had been six months since that day and the check had staledated--it was no longer valid--so even if they tried to cash it, it would be rejected. So, other than the money I'd put into fixing it up, I'd gotten a free car.

I drove the thing a lot, and even drove to a store in the NW suburbs as part of a job I had then. A week of that put over 500 miles on the car and it was 100% reliable and never missed a beat and got 27 MPG the whole time.

But then, one night, pow.

It really wasn't so much a "pow" as it was a "brmbrmBRMBRMBRM", actually. It had never been very quiet, having a hole in the muffler and some other exhaust leaks, but it was now much louder. Later investigation showed that the left-side exhaust manifold flange had broken. That could be welded, I reasoned, but I'd have to get it off the muffler first...and that didn't look like it would be possible without totally scrapping the muffler. I was right.

A new muffler for a VW 412 was something like $400. Because the Porsche 914 used the same parts.

I seem to recall taking the manifold off the car and getting the flange welded back on, but I'm not sure I did. I can't really remember. But I do recall trying to make a muffler for it.

I cringe thinking about it: I reasoned that a muffler was just a can with baffles in it, so I got a coffee can, mounted it to the flange, stuffed it with fiberglas, and then took a big radiator clamp and clamped some screen over the open end. It worked.

...until I stepped on the gas. And then BLAT it blew fiberglas all over the back yard.

Realizing that I would have to find another solution, the entire project fell by the wayside. Other things happened, and I started going to school in March of 1990, so the 412 just ended up sitting in our back yard. The friend who'd put the stereo in his car, he wanted to sell the car, so he reposessed the head unit, and that didn't bother me. That possibility had been in the background.

But I was a student, and had a social life, and the poor 412 was a beater with a huge hole in the floor that needed overly expensive parts just to be drivable. It languished.

Sometime after the summer of 1991, the car got sold to one of my brother's friends. He had a big lot south of town and ran his car repair business there, and his brother wanted to build a dune buggy.

The last time I saw the 412, it had been used by the fire department for "jaws of life" training. What an ignominious ending for a faithful car. I never heard about the dune buggy, whether the engine got used for that or not.

I think I have only ever seen two other Type IV Volkswagens with my own eyes. They were not popular cars. They were peculiar, they were weird, their parts cost too much, and Volkswagen came out with them at a time when the Beetle was still selling extremely well.

More than anything else, my 412 was basically the backdrop for 1989. A lot of things happened, and I learned a lot about cars (and life) during that year.

But what I have learned since--with what I now know about cars, I could take a car in the shape that one was in and repair it properly. I now know how to build a muffler; I'm confident I could make one that would work fine and cost a hell of a lot less than the $465 for a manufactured one.

Still, parts for the thing are in $YEECH! territory. A rebuild kit for a Beetle engine, including a new cam and crank, is about $650. A similar kit for a 412 engine is FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS. And that's just for the parts. That's not a complete engine. That's the kit to rebuild an engine.

So, while I might now be able to fix a 412 in the same shape mine was in, I don't think I would try. Not if it needed anything more than sheet metal work, I think.

How things change.
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