atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#5388: White Wednesday

I can't remember the logic I used, calling today "White Wednesday", except that white is the opposite of black and Wednesday is on the opposite side of Friday from Thanksgiving Thursday. But, what the hey! It's a Fungus tradition!

Retailers panic because 63% of Americans say they'll stay home on black Friday. Black Friday is no longer necessarily the best day to get deals, not with the bargains expanding to fill the entire weekend and sometimes spreading well into December.

But I think another component is that people are just plain getting tired of it. Yesterday I saw a commercial for a chain of stores--three chains, actually, all owned by the same parent corporation--stating that they would be closed on Thanksgiving so their employees could be home with family. That's rather interesting, and I expect it to become a trend in the next several years. Why not?

I've never bought into the hype and only spent black friday in a retail setting when I was paid to do so. Then again, I prefer to spend my holidays in peaceful reflection, rather than bucking tides of people and fighting over the last gewgaw priced at 40% off. I put up with more than enough noise and idiocy at work; why volunteer for more?

("Peaceful reflection"<=>"food coma". I'm a middle-aged man. You know how it is.)

* * *


USS Zumwalt packed up again. Was it damaged in the middle east by bad guys? Was there some kind of attack? No, the ship broke down while transiting the Panama Canal.
While details about what caused the breakdown were few, Navy Times -- which first reported the incident -- cited reports about problems with heat exchangers in the ship's integrated power plant that had contributed to the mishap.
Yeah, I know what it's like, when you have problems with your radiator. Took me all day to replace the Jeep's radiator once.

$4 billion certainly doesn't buy as much warship as it used to.

Or maybe they need to make sure their parts aren't counterfeit. Maybe the heat exchangers in the ship's "integrated power plant"--whatever the hell that is--were cheap Chinese knock-offs. Who can say?

Counterfeit merchandise is pretty much a "paper" crime when it comes to apparel and shoes and such. Which is to say, it's a trademark infringement, and it should be illegal, but the harm done is entirely economic.

When it comes to spare parts, though, it can be deadly. Example: the brake pads a United Airlines mechanic just put on that 737 you're taking to Chicago tomorrow? Let's say they're counterfeit, and they're not even made to automobile standards, much less aviation standards, and on one of them the lining is going to peel off the backing plate just when the pilot is trying to get the plane stopped after landing at Midway.

Feel like flying?

Actually, it need not even be that extreme. Your car has 90,000 miles on it and one of the hubs goes bad, so you take it to a mechanic and pay him $300 to replace it. The box the part comes out of says "Moog" on it, but it's not actually a Moog part, and even though the mechanic does an honest job (and thinks he's putting on a Moog part) the counterfeit hub goes bad after a couple of months. Do you go back to that mechanic? Do you buy another Moog part for your car?

That is why counterfeit parts are a bad thing.

* * *

The state of Illinois is still totally boned. Still corrupt, still a Democrat stronghold, still trying to spend money like only government can, still completely bankrupt.

Unfunded pension liabilities of $130 billion, annual contributions of only $10 billion--those pensions are never going to be paid. At this point, they can't be, not without bankrupting all the citizens of the state. Raising taxes will simply drive industry and people out, and Illinois can't raise taxes enough to pay all the bills it has before it.

This will not, of course, keep the Illinois government from doing it. Recall please that the government's attitude is one of, "Well, the taxpayers will just have to pay it." This way lies Detroit, but no one cares.

* * *

Clever hack. Using headphones as microphones to spy on people--any transducer can be used in any direction, though it may not be very efficient in reverse. I don't leave headphones plugged into my computer, and my machine doesn't have a built-in microphone. I only plug in the webcam when I want to use it. I think I'm safe from this one.

* * *

It's going on 11 months since I got the Giganto-tron (here and here) and now it's second nature to look up and see a firkin' drive-in movie screen on my desktop.

Back when I worked as a tech writer, I had a 21" monitor (CRT) at work and a 15" monitor (again, CRT) at home. After a little while, the monitor at home seemed tiny; I rectified that and bought a big-ass (20") monitor for home so I wouldn't have to adjust. That isn't necessary these days. At work, a 20" monitor, 4:3 aspect; at home, a 29" monitor, 16:9 aspect--and no adjustment necessary.

The advancement of technology: when I bought my 27" CRT TV in 1993-ish, it was $250. Now a 27" LCD costs about $150, denominated in dollars that are worth a hell of a lot less. This monitor was a freebie--if I'd had to buy it, I wouldn't have it, and would still be using the 22" LG monitor--but if I wanted to replace it with something about the same size, I could get a 32" TV nice and cheap. (Especially on Friday! Come to $BIGBOXSTORE and SAVE!!!)

But it's nice, especially as I get older and find myself needing bigger print. No eyestrain with this one; when writing I used to have trouble seeing the screen clearly after a little while (and this happened at work the other day) but the only reason I stopped writing last night was that I got tired: I found myself stumbling over writing simple sentences, and then when I stopped writing I realized that my stomach was growling and it was nearly 3 AM.

I'm definitely a writer.

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