February 20th, 2015

#4588: Today is Friday already?

I shouldn't be surprised, I guess. It's just that the week went kind of fast.

5-hour day today; 5-hour day tomorrow, and Sunday off--can't complain. Next week looks to be pretty easy, too, and I'd better enjoy that while it lasts, because when I get a full-time job there won't be any "easy" unless it's a week with a holiday.

...actually, that's not exactly true. You know, when I worked as an on-site computer technician, it never really felt like work to me. I had to be at a certain place at a certain time whether I felt like it or not, and I wouldn't have gone if they didn't pay me, but it wasn't hard for me to do it. I just went and did, bing-bang-boom, and the hard part was dealing with all the idiots on the road on the way there and back.

It's been a long time since I had that kind of job. I'm hoping to find one like that again, relatively soon, where I don't have to deal with an excess of stupidity from people who ought to know better.

I mean, WTF. Last week my boss took me to task for leaving on time--a scant four months after the store's general manager sent everyone an e-mail saying, "No more unauthorized overtime. Unless you're helping a client, or a manager asks you to stay over, clock out and leave at the end of your scheduled shift." (Paraphrased.) I didn't have sufficient presence of mind to remind her that our boss told us that we have to leave on time unless asked to stay by a manager.

My inability to think quickly on my feet has probably saved me more times than it's hurt me, but I really wish I would have thought of that when she was complaining that she had to stay an hour over because there was such a long line and I took more than 15 minutes helping a client, and "you're always out the door on the dot!" Well, yeah, because the general manager of the store told us that's what we're supposed to do, and hasn't rescinded it.

...of course if I did think fast on my feet, I likely would have told her that if the success or failure of the precinct depended on me, I am way fuckin' underpaid, and ought to be full time to boot.

My wife counseled me that my boss was likely having her own issues and taking them out on me. I was tempted to print out the e-mail and take it to the boss and say, "About what you said...." but my wife advised me not to, and I listen to her because she's been a supervisor and is good at this stuff.

Besides, as I said I don't expect to be working there for too much longer; I'm going to find something better.

* * *

So, let's have a further gander at the Lenovo Superfish thing.

Karl Denninger weighs in on this.

"We messed up badly" is the quote from Lenovo on this. Let me tell you: I cannot in good conscience recommend Lenovo computers any longer.

The primary issue here is that even if you remove the Superfish software from the computer, the vulnerability remains unless you take specific steps to remove it. (As a bonus, that link checks your computer for the Superfish vulnerability.)

It also turns out that NSA has the keys to all the SIM cards in the world, just about. Even if you have the most secure phone in the world, it must communicate with the cellular network, and for that it must have a SIM card in it. If NSA has the key for your SIM, though, those expensive security features are useless.

* * *

So, let's talk about the f-ing cold that's prevailed over the Fungal Vale for the last week. Nighttime lows have been about -8° for the past few days; right now it's about 16° which is 24 degrees warmer than it was 24 hours ago. Yeah.

Quoth Ace, "One of the coldest Februaries ever."

It gives the lie to the global warming scam, that's for certain.

According to Spaceweather.com:
The face of the sun is mostly blank....

There are six sunspot groups, all fading. If their decay continues, a spotless day could be in the offing--the first since July 2014. Stay tuned for quiet
We are still coming off the peak of the solar cycle 24; a spotless day is antithetical to the idea of "solar maximum". Cycle 24's maximum is no great shakes, and in fact now solar astronomers are beginning to predict that cycle 25 will be even weaker.

And low sunspot counts coincide almost exactly with the historical climate data: the fewer sunspots, the lower the temperatures, the lower the crop yields, etcetera. (Much better than anything ginned up by Michael Mann or the East Anglia CRU, I might add.)

The bitter cold winters we've had--now two in a row--are not the result of global warming, man made or not, but global cooling because of solar variation. Short form being that while the Earth's climate is changing exactly as it always has it is not human activity which is changing the Earth's climate.

* * *

The writing is on the wall for free trade. I agree with Denninger: tariffs are the only sensible way to fix this. America must emplace tariffs to balance inequities, else we are merely exporting both the liabilities and the benefits of manufacturing. Sure, if all the electronics we consume are manufactured in China we don't have the mess and pollution that comes with the production of integrated circuits, but we also don't get the money, not at the granular level where the middle class exists. We export all sorts of jobs along with the pollution.

But who cares as long as people get their iPhones, right?

* * *

The legalization of marajuana is eating into the profits of the drug cartels. Exactly as predicted: you make the stuff legal and the suppliers can't charge a premium for it.

The New Prohibition has not worked, same as the last time we tried it, with booze. All that did was give us the mafia, for fuck's sake. Get rid of the prohibition on narcotics and you'll see an enormous decline in gang violence, because the money that feeds it will dry up.

* * *

Speaking of violence, an unarmed man can still kill a person with his bare hands. In the case Borepatch highlights, the unarmed assailant punched his victim in the head once, and killed him.

Think about that.

* * *

An interesting correlation: higher intelligence correlates rather nicely with the neanderthal DNA content of the genome. A lot more work needs to be done on this, but it's an interesting idea that the neanderthals were smarter than cro-magnons, but were out-competed in breeding because of genetic disorders and health issues. Also because (judging by comments) the neanderthal physiology was less efficient than cro-magnon's.

Interesting stuff, though.

* * *

We are, just about, a nation of truck drivers. How wonderful.

* * *

I really enjoyed Hal Clement's book Mission of Gravity, thoughtfully given to me by Og, who is attempting to de-clutter his office space. I also got from him a second copy of the same author's Needle, but it's not in much better shape than the copy I already had.

Could be worse, though. I first read the sequel, Through The Eye of a Needle, when I was a young lad and made trips to the library to get stuff to read. The Crete Public Library had a small SF section but I liked to reread things, and that book was one of them. They also had a pile of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries; I liked the ND books and read most of the ones the library had. I'd go to the library, take out four or five, and have them all back at the library before they were due because I'd finished them....

Anyway, decades passed and I finally found a copy of Needle at a used bookstore, and enjoyed it--it's a damned good book--but it fell apart in pretty short order. I had nonetheless given the book to my then-girlfriend, who was going to WorldCon when it was in Chicago, in hopes that she could get it autographed by Mr. Clement while she was there. She ended up coming back with a paperback autographed by Frederic Pohl, having apparently forgotten that I'd given her the Clement novel. Clement died a couple of years after that. *sigh*

I don't even like Pohl's work. Argh etc. Well, what do you expect from someone who claimed to be a Fan yet never saw Monty Python and the Holy Grail?

* * *

We had to drive into the city yesterday ("This is the city!") and to make matters worse the most efficient path there was to take the Damn Ryan.

The Damn Ryan to me what the Freeway is in The Matrix--you stay the hell off it because it's nothing but trouble. But off we went...and I was pleasantly surprised at the trip in, because it was actually fairly civil. The trip out was jam-packed all the way to Stony Island (probably because Obama was in town to dedicate the Pullman district as a historical landmark or some crap) but there was none of the nonsense I've come to expect from traffic jams on the Tri-State tollway. Not just less but NONE. As if the people who were around me were all reasonable, intelligent people, who did the commute all the time and understood the limitations of the environment.

Anyway, the trip there I observed that we had to pass through the Death Vortex, and then had to explain to my wife what I meant. Locally it's known as "the spaghetti bowl" but I think Neal Stephenson's appellation is a lot more apt.

* * *

Anyway, got home from work, then ended up taking a nap after Mrs. Fungus got home from her interview. I slept for several hours. Could be worse, right?