atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#4777: Lacking the usual perspicacity

This week has worn me a bit fine, I have to say, even with an easy Sunday (for once) and pre-arranging with the boss that I would get to work about an hour or so late on Friday. (It ended up being closer to 45 minutes.)

I went to bed at 2:30 AM, which is typical when I'm closing the next day. Mrs. Fungus and I are both night owls, after all. Even so, I kept waking up for various reasons, and so I find myself sitting here feeling fatigued and yawning and wanting more sack time.

Tomorrow. Tomorrow, I may sleep.

So I'm finding that I must buy two batteries: one for the tractor, and one for my motorcycle. The tractor didn't want to start yesterday, but I jiggered the key to "start" a couple of times and then it bumped over enough to crank. The battery simply loses power over time, and there's no way to fix that except replace it; it's a sealed battery and I can't dump in a "rejuvenator" or whatever it is they call it that de-sulfates the plates and makes it work for a while longer.

Might get some of that for the motorcycle battery and see how well it works. Might not. We'll see. Regardless, this kind of thing is a stopgap, not a solution, but that's all right.

* * *

Apparently the price of solid state drives is about to crater. Well, "crater" might be too strong a word, but if the price of an SSD can approach that of a mechanical drive of the same capacity, that would be close enough for me.

As it stands, mechanical drives blow away silicon for storage density. In theory, silicon should be cheaper, because the drives don't need to be assembled in a high-zoot clean room and don't require calibration or other services before being packaged.

"Should", however, does not equal "will".

Still, all the right pieces are in place. 3D flash (where each chip has several layers of memory, rather than one--what I called a "flash cube" in 1998) is finding increasing acceptance and coming down in price. Mechanical drives have just about hit their practical limit for storage density per platter, absent some kind of breakthrough, which is unlikely. (They can cram more platters into the drive, of course, but there's also a practical limit for that.) More companies than ever are producing FLASH memory, because it's used in just about everything with a CPU these days.

I'd be happy to replace the mechanical drive in Floristica with an SSD if the SSD cost me under $100. Currently, 500 GB SSDs run about $500 or so, and Floristica has a terabyte drive in it; I doubt that the prices of SSDs will drop that precipitously in the next year. What would that be, about a factor of twenty? A 2 TB SSD is $11,500, more or less, but that's hardly a consumer-level device.

I do have the 120 GB drive that I put into Seiren, but I'm thinking about leaving it in the laptop because the SSD makes the laptop--vintage 2008--run as fast as a computer some five years newer. I'm also leery of tinkering with Floristica, though cloning the boot partition to the SSD would not be out of the question, and I could then have WoW reinstall itself on the SSD, thus making both booting and WoW stupid fast.

Regardless I'm not going to buy another SSD right now, since even before this article I knew SSD prices were poised to drop. Even a factor of two would put a 250 GB SSD around $50 or so, which would be just fine for my purposes, and my instincts tell me that prices on this stuff are only going to go one way.

* * *

This post rather neatly summarizes the economic depression we're in. Emphasis removed:
For the USA in particular the signs of bankruptcy have been starkly visible for a long time outside the bubble regions of New York, Washington, and San Francisco. You see it in the amazing decrepitude of the built environment — the cities and towns left for dead, the struggling suburban strip malls tenanted if at all by wig shops and check-cashing operations, the rusted bridges, pot-holed highways, the Third World style train service. Most sickeningly you see it in a population of formerly earnest, hard-working, basically-educated people with hopes and dreams transformed into a hopeless moiling underclass of tattooed savages dressed in baby clothes devoting their leisure hours (i.e. all their time) to drug-seeking and the erasure of sexual boundaries.
There doesn't seem to be a good answer to any of this, either, except "let it fail and pick up the pieces afterwards". That would have hurt a bit, but it'd be over by now; problem is, the coastal elites have a vested interest in not letting it fail, regardless of what it does to the rest of us. A lot of rich politicians and bankers would be penniless and powerless now if the market had been allowed to clear the bad debt in 2007. We would no longer have huge banks like Chase and Citibank and Bank of America, either; or if we did it would be in name only.

Such a catastrophic failure, however, would have inexorably led to growth again, and growth would mean rising interest rates--and the instant interest rates rise, government finds itself spending ever more of its income on servicing the debt it has taken on--and the interest must be paid lest the bonds become worthless paper, and that way lies ruin.

There's no good answer, is there?

That's what the writer means when he says the US is bankrupt. For the moment--and as long as interest rates can be held low--the feds can pay their bills, albeit with record levels of deficit spending since the debt is already too big. The instant the feds can no longer do that is the instant there are riots in the cities as government largesse ends, because there will simply be no money for the government to spend. (If there is, it will be worth less than the paper it's printed on, and then there are still riots.)

The failure of Johnson's grand socialist dream of the Great Society (and FDR's socialist ideals before him) is going to be messy. It can't be otherwise; there's no soft landing possible when no one in the sitting government has the stomach or the spine--or even the desire!--to tackle the problem, or to do more than give lip service to the idea of fixing it. (Looking squarely at you, GOP.)

Partisan people on either side of the aisle--self included--like to imagine their political opponents declaring martial law and seizing control of the country in an iron fist, but to be honest I think that's not how it's going to shake out. Converting the US into a dictatorship will be a bipartisan event, supported equally by both parties, and only after the feds have dispensed with those pesky civil liberties will the two parties turn on each other, until only one remains in power and the other is declared to be treasonous and an enemy of the state. (See also "Trotsky" et alii.) It'll be precipitated by the failure of American socialism as realized in the American welfare state, and the inevitable mass violence that will occur when the government cheese stops flowing. Medicare, Medicaid, social security, disability, food stamps, WIC, Obamacare, everything--once the piper's bill comes due, that's it, and the checks and the payments stop...and three days later there are riots, and three days after that is martial law "for the duration of the emergency" and the suspension of civil rights, including "the right to keep and bear arms". Count on it.

The one saving grace is that the government will be incapable of controlling all the cities and all the states that way. It's physically impossible; even if they repatriated the entirety of the armed forces they could not do much more than lock down the major cities. That's a lot, but it's not the entirety of the country--it's not even most of it--and the feds would find themselves hard pressed to maintain the iron grip of dictatorship in what we currently call "flyover country". What good does it do to lock down Des Moines when Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, and Waterloo are still free? Even if you control Chicago and Springfield, can you control the entirety of Illinois? If you try, you end up having to drop bombs on places like Marion or Decatur or Lake Geneva, and enough of that loses you the support of people who were formerly sympathetic to you.

The US military was unable to keep terrorists from operating in Iraq, and that country is many, many times smaller than the continental US is. I don't think the US military could lock down the United States, not without colossal bloodshed, and there are probably enough principled leaders in the military that it would not be a slam-dunk.

It would be bad. It would be very, very bad. It would not be an inexorable march to a human boot stomping on a human face, but it would be bad for a while. What emerges from the aftermath depends on who's there when the agreements are being made.

I'm just cynical enough to believe that the banksters and politicians are doing the "extend-and-pretend" schtick in order to protect their own butts and feather beds, not because they are capable of foreseeing any of the above. There's a lot of "worst case" in that scenario, anyway, and a thousand little things could go very right--or very wrong--in highly advantageous (rather than disastrous) fashion which would alleviate the cataclysm I envision. My predictive capacity is nil and I am neither a sage nor a visionary; I just think about cause and effect in light of my admittedly limited exposure to history, and that's what I see.

* * *

I now have half an hour before I must start getting ready for work, and I do not wish to spend that half hour sitting here rattling keys about things over which I have no control.

On the plus side, a plate of leftover spaghetti and time have taken care of the loginess and fatigue, and I feel like I can face the day without wanting to hide under the bed. This is progress.

Dew point is 72, which is sticky, and so the AC remains on. I came home from work early on Saturday and closed the house and turned on the AC, and even though it was in the 60s last night it was still so humid I knew that sleep would be impossible. Result is not having to run the AC any extra today to re-dehumidify the inside air. Inside temp is a comfortable 76, which is reasonable, particularly when you can have a fan blowing on you.

I remember the temp being set at 72 and the AC running all day long and me sitting in the basement because it was simply too hot upstairs. As I recall that was in the early 1980s, though I have to wonder how much of that was simply "it's cooler in the basement" so I went down there, and then after being down there a while the upstairs felt too warm.

I'm consistently amazed at how ineffective the HVAC system is at cooling the bedrooms. It gets cool in the computer room, for example, if I put a fan in the door and blow air into the room--this is with the register wide open and a fan on top of it pulling air from it!--but absent that, it's not comfortable. It's the same for the bedrooms, too.

Well, having the ductwork cleaned would help, I'd wager. Sure, I'll do that, the next time I have a spare $500 to spend....

* * *

I now have fifteen minutes. End of line.
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