January 19th, 2014

#4097: The first call-off. *sigh*

This morning about 11 AM Mrs. Fungus was unable to walk, and in fact unable to drive because it hurt terribly to move her foot. Her ankle had swollen and she was in great pain, so we both called off work and I took her to the ER. The x-ray was clear and it turned out to be arthritic inflammation of her ankle ("arthritic" meaning it was happening in the joint, not a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis) so we left there around 3-ish with RXes and follow-up orders. I could have made it to work at that point but we still needed to get her pills, and we both needed food, and it was snowing so the roads were all crappy.

All told not a very good day, but her foot's already getting better thanks to the doctor's instructions and the medications. It's nothing serious, eminently treatable, and as long as she continues to obey the doc's orders she ought to be fine in a couple of days.

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How much is a shift away from desktop PCs and how much is the depression? Intel has to cut some 5,000 jobs because the market conditions are so soft.

But I note that people use tablets a lot where they used to use computers, and though I don't think the actual PC's days are numbered I know that--given the option--I'd rather sit in my rocking chair and read Internet articles than sit at the computer and do it. The only time I surf the Internet at my computer these days is when I'm doing the pre-blog surf, or when I want the convenience of a big screen, mouse, and keyboard. Otherwise my Nook is fine and my rocking chair is hella more comfortable than my desk chair. This phenomenon may have something to do with Intel's problem. Or may not.

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So the tabloids have a big scandal to report on that no one else in the media is talking about. As with l'affaire d'Edwards, the current brouhaha is about Barack and Michelle having a fight, supposedly, over Barry being unfaithful.

"Actually," Vox Day says, "the only thing that would surprise me here is if it turned up that the infidelity involved a woman." There is that whole "Reggie Love" thing which has been carefully not looked at by everyone in Washington, D.C. (Hey, maybe the "other woman" is in fact a pre-op transsexual or a drag queen. Chances are--whichever it is--Michelle is only mad because said person is prettier than her, and-- HEY NOW THAT WAS A LOW BLOW, DUDE)

Well, the truth will out eventually, so one way or another we'll find out what the hell is going on.

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Also from Vox Day, We are now a police state. Big Brother is watching you! ...only "Big Brother" is in fact the NSA and the rest of the national spy apparatus, and instead of using TV cameras they're tracking all your communications.

The sticking point here (other than the wholesale invasion of privacy and the suspension of the presumption of innocence) is that by using illegally-obtained data, law enforcement can use it as a kind of scaffold to build a case, then remove the scaffolding and leave the case intact without referring to the information that prompted their investigation. And then lying about it.

That last part is the problem. The chain of evidence must be kept to ensure a truly fair trial; that's why anything obtained via illegal search is not admissible. Anything that the inadmissible evidence causes you to look at is tainted and can be thrown out at the judge's discretion; if that happens, suddenly the prosecution can find itself without any admissible evidence and the defendant walks. So instead they get prompts from the illegal evidence, do the legwork suggested by those prompts, and then commit perjury (ie make shit up).

The penal system of the US was set up to minimize the number of false positives. It was purposely constructed this way in order to limit the number of people wrongly found guilty to an absolute bare minimum. This ensures that there will be a rather higher proportion of false negatives--people who were guilty but get off scott-free--but that's the price you pay for punishing as few innocent people as you can, and the people who set it up knew this would be the case.

The people who are doing this stuff now need to go to jail, and every case that was built on NSA data needs to be thrown out. Sadly, I don't think that will happen.

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Speaking of totalitarianism, Maria Concita Alonso got thrown out of a production of Vagina Monologues because she endorsed a Republican.

Yeah, liberals are so very, very open-minded, aren't they?

...and while we're at it, why would any sane woman want to take part in that asinine play anyway? This is a play that talks of lesbian pedophile date rape in a positive way, for crying out loud.

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I agree with Advice Goddess: we need to end the monopoly enjoyed by domestic air carriers. Let there be competition!

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Here's another article about the too-quiet sun and it mentions the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice age...and about half the article goes by before the writer starts talking about global warmenation.

We're getting there!

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For dinner last night, I made savory potatos and pork chops with Oven Fry.

Savory potatos are easy: you take about 3/4 pound of small potatos (red or gold), wash them, and quarter them. Toss with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, then add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsely to taste and toss again. Put this in an 8x8 pan. If you want carrots, peel them and arrange them on top of the potatos, and then cover the whole thing with aluminum foil. Bake on the top rack of a 400° oven for about an hour. It literally takes less than ten minutes to throw this together, serves two, goes well with any kind of meat, and it's delicious.

The pork chops came from Sam's Club; they were nice and thick and we paid $12 for eight of them. I got out a box of chicken Oven Fry, prepared the chops according to the directions on the box, lined a baking sheet with foil, and baked them for half an hour at 400° on the middle rack in the same oven cooking the potatos. (Obviously I put them in when the potatos hit their halfway mark.)

The result is a simple and tasty meal, easily and quickly prepared. Cleanup is pretty easy, too.

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We did get a bit of snow today--in the range of 2-3 inches--and I suppose tomorrow I'll have to go blow down the driveway. But I don't have to do that right now.

#4098: Actually it'd be the FOUR planets club.

In Aldrin and Barnes' Encounter With Tiber there is a small informal ceremony when an astronaut who has landed on both the Moon and Phobos (one of Mars' moons) finally lands on Mars itself: another astronaut who has done so pours a single-serving bottle of champagne over his head and says, "Welcome to the Three Worlds Club!" Welcoming him, of course, to the ranks of spacemen who have landed on three different planets. Well, Earth is a planet, too--

Of course I am quibbling, but I have nothing else to talk about today except for how annoying it is to get a loose eyelash in your eye--something that happens to me at least once a week. I have the kind of eyelashes that supermodels desire; they're long and thick, and as I get older they seem to have a penchant for ending up in my eyes rather than falling gracefully out of their follicles to land on the ground.

Encounter With Tiber (EWT) is a book I've talked about here before. It's an old favorite of mine, mainly because it's an SF tour de force. I really want to read the next part of the story, the part they didn't write, which covers the humans catching up with the Tiberians and starting a whole new chapter in the histories of both races.

The second Tiberian ship to Earth uses what they call a "zero point energy laser"--a quantum vacuum energy laser--to provide thrust, and it's powerful enough that they can boost at ten gravities with the thing. (Tiberian gravity, not Earth's, but the two figures are close enough.) The story further implies that the Tiberians have fusion power by that time.

The engine is powerful enough to boost the ship up to about 98% of lightspeed; I end up wondering how much power such an engine requires. How many gigawatts? Because getting one gravity of acceleration from a laser is going to mean emitting a lot of light in a concentrated beam, as is made plain a little later in the story (but it's a major spoiler to explain why). In fact the story explicitly says that the ship could go even faster but that there's no real point to it as the gains would be incremental at best--mainly it would reduce the apparent trip time for the crew (relativity, you know) without actually reducing the real trip time by very much. Really, when the speed limit is lightspeed, one or two percent off that figure isn't going to make much difference--so it takes you a month longer to get there; does that really matter when you're traveling for years?

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Anyway, that's all I've got, really. Yesterday was a mess.