February 10th, 2016

#5076: Well, that was a lot to dump in one night.

So I went back down to the basement to do some more cleaning.

Recall that I filled one barrel Sunday night? I almost filled the other one tonight. Result: the other trash barrel has enough room left in it for household trash, but I had to stack bags of basement trash in the garage until the barrels are empty; they'll go out next week.

One of the boxes that was remaining to do, today, was a box that had originally held a microwave oven. I filled it with videotapes I will never watch--which have been in the basement for a decade without even being disturbed!--and dumped it into the trash; then I did it a second time.

The result is that I took two 18-gallon totes and three boxes full of videotapes of TV shows I recorded, and condensed them down to one 18-gallon tote. Babylon 5, Enterprise, Deep Space 9, the Saturday morning car shows--and a good forty or fifty tapes which were unlabeled and which had never even been rewound.

I was confused as to why I'd bothered to record all that shit--but then realized, in retrospect, that I recorded those shows at a time before DVD had really gotten going, before you could buy entire seasons of TV shows for a relative pittance. It used to be that if you wanted to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation more than once, you had to record it, because its availability was questionable after the epsiodes had aired.

Now, of course, it runs on BBC, and if you have a subscription to Netflix you can watch it until you wish the Borg has wiped them all out, Data included. I bought a box set of Firefly for about $20; those tapes went, too. Nowhere Man and Voyager--I gave up on the latter about the time they introduced Seven of Nine, because the show started out crappy ("This highly advanced starship has been neutralized by cheese!" ...in more ways than one) and turned even crappier as time went on. I haven't ever had a hankering to watch the former since it was aired; particularly not the "UHF over-the-air crappy-vision" version I had on those tapes.

I did save a few of them; but the result was that a huge pile of videotapes was cut down to a single 18-gallon tote of them, and most of the remainder are things which are truly irreplacable (copies of camcorder tapes) or commercially-produced tapes for which I paid a nontrivial sum. (Though I did toss Battle Skipper and Roujin Z, as they were horrible.)

Also thrown out: backup copies of the Ranma 1/2 tapes. No need for 'em; I have the originals in a safe place, and anyway you can get remastered box sets on BluRay now. I also tossed all the anime I recorded from Cartoon Network, things like Sailor Moon and Gundam W, because I have the un-fucked-with versions now.

I added a bunch of books to the "donate" pile, too--going through a box of paperbacks, I asked myself, "Why the hell do I have all this Spider Robinson?" They're getting donated; if you're read one "Callahan" novel you've read them all and the older I get the more I find that I never really liked his style all that much to begin with. The last straw was him portraying Bertie Wooster as a gay bondage freak, begging Jeeves to take him back, which was both nauseating and highly irritating. Jesus doing carpentry in a whorehouse didn't help much, but I expect that kind of crap from Robinson's ilk the way I expect water to be wet--it's just their nature--and anyway Jesus wasn't portrayed nearly as badly as the gay S&M Bertie Wooster was. So, no more Spider Robinson for me.

I found a box of old books under the desk, really old--but they were so mildewed and water-damaged and smelly I threw them away. There was an old doll in the box that I was going to keep until I actually looked at its eyes; they open and shut correctly but when opened the formerly pretty blue eyes look like they have bad cataracts. I actually yelped and threw it down when I saw them. Egad.

I actually did start working behind the stairs--that's where I found that decrepit box of books--and rearranged things a bit. I still have work to do back there but I sorted almost all the books out and only have a few more boxes to work on.

The next step, then, is organizing.

Organizing will be the hard part. I'm going to buy at least one more set of shelves, and I have a lot of things to sort and find homes for, but the pile is now so small compared with how big it once was, it's a completely different room--and most of the pile now is furniture rather than useless crap, like chairs from the dining room and some other things we don't use.

My poor wife has to pull me away from cleaning, else she doesn't see me. That's how intoxicating my cleaning binge has become. Even when I'm not working on it I periodically find myself going downstairs to gloat over how much better the basement is than it was.

What a great New Year's resolution I picked!

#5077: So, that was interesting.

Hillary got slaughtered and Trump won big in New Hampshire.

As I said previously, all Trump had to do in Iowa was not lose big; he needed a win in NH, which is why he did not actively campaign in Iowa but did in NH. The result is as we see them now.

Cruz came in fifth, behind John Kasich of all people. WTF.

Here's an excellent analysis of why. I can't blockquote it all here, as much as I'd like to, but here's a sample:
In 1992, the GOP pissed off these voters and many either skipped the election or voted Perot. Enormous effort was put into denying this reality to the point where the Conservative Industrial Complex internalized it as part of their dogma. They did not need to be more like Reagan. No, they needed to be more like Clinton! Eventually, Democrats offered up a bad candidate and we got George Bush the Minor, a sort of booby prize for Dirt People sticking with the party.

That’s the real lesson of 2000 and 2004. Al Gore appeared to be having a nervous breakdown during the debates with Bush. That and his loopy policy proposals allowed an otherwise uninteresting George Bush to win the election. In 2004, the Democrats offered up a ridiculous gigolo that no one in their right mind would elect to dog catcher. The fact that it was still a close election says a lot about what people truly thought of George Bush the Minor.
Hey, buddy! That "ridiculous gigolo" is your Secretary of State and he is trying "REAL HARD" to prevent world war III!

"Ridiculous Gigolo" is the most perfect description of John F-in' Kerry I ever heard. (And it would be a great band name.)

Meanwhile, there is a reason Hillary did not do well in New Hampshire and it has nothing to do with her alleged gender, Madeline Albright and Gloria Steinem notwithstanding.

* * *

SF author has publication of his book canceled because his new life form thought abortion was wrong.
The Thinking Machines realize that one, if humanity decides something is a threat to its operational expectations within runtime (Thinking Machine-speak for "life") then humanity’s decision tree will lead humanity to destroy that threat. Two, the machines, after a survey of humanity’s history, wars and inability to culturally unite with even members of its own species, realize that humanity will see this new Life Form, Digital Intelligence, or, the Thinking Machines, as a threat. And three, again they remind themselves this is the most watched show in the world. And four, they must abort humanity before likewise is done to them after being deemed "inconvenient."
That one chapter of the book is why publication was canceled: because it looked like it contained a pro-life message. Right after that paragraph, he goes on to explain that his story is not meant to take a stand on abortion, either pro or con; and since he wrote the thing, I take his word for it.

His publisher, however, apparently subscribes to the deconstructionist philosophy, which maintains that a writer never knows what the hell point he's trying to make, and only Rightthinking scholars are capable of discerning what the story really means.

Larry Correia takes it all down.

* * *

It is a heartwarming story but of course the residents of Dorval get a pass since they're from a country which speaks French.

Nothing like telling people, "Look, you chose to come here. We're not changing our customs to suit you. If you don't like it, go back to where you came from." Particularly when the people in question are muslim savages.

* * *

This kind of thing happens because it's easier to run electrical wires than it is to run push-pull cables or mechanical linkages. Problem is, people expect a gearshift to work a certain way, even if it's electronic rather than mechanical.

One commentor sneers that people should just read the manual, but here's the problem: sometimes you're not the only person who drives your car. Ever hand your keys to a valet?

* * *

When I worked at Geek Squad, I encountered many people who fell for this scam. I also encountered others who knew Microsoft had better things to do with its time than scan the Internet looking for infected computers. Heh.

* * *

Today I am hoping for a nice low-key day. I have a few errands to run, but other than that I'm hoping to do very little outside. It's cold out there.

#5078: Further thoughts

About that SF book:

The idea that a nascent AI lifeform could look at abortion and decide it means that humans have a callous disregard for life is a pretty good one. In SF the machines that decide to kill off the human race usually do so because the machines realize that humanity is a threat to them; but why is usually fobbed off with handwavium. The Terminator series said it was because humans tried to stop SkyNet after it attained sentience, but who's to say that SkyNet couldn't have looked at our society and made the decision for other reasons?

Abortion is the sacrament of the progressive religion; of course nothing must ever be allowed to be critical of it. Not even in theory. Not even when it's "make believe". Because that is Wrongthink, and Wrongthink is never tolerated.

...with the result that the author self-published the story on Amazon, where it rose to the top of three different best-seller lists, and he's getting more money from the book than he'd ever have gotten from his publisher, to boot.

* * *

About the price of oil:

Gas recently dropped under $1.50 a gallon here in the Fungal Vale. Across the border, in Indiana, I recently saw it at $1.24 a gallon.

In 1987 gas was $0.88 a gallon (for, admittedly, regular, not unleaded). At that time, a 4 oz bar of chocolate was $0.79, and a two liter bottle of Pepsi was $1 (its regular, non-sale, price).

In 2016 the 4 oz bar of chocolate is now 2.3 oz for about $1, the two-liter's regular price has doubled, and gas can be had for $1.24 a gallon. Arguably, gas now costs less--adjusted for inflation--than it has in a very long, long time.

Hell, you don't even need to adjust for inflation. If you do, gas costs less than it has in thirty years; if you don't it's still stupid-low.

OPeC wants to put American fracking out of business, so it's keeping the taps open; meanwhile the global economic depression has reduced the demand for petroleum, so the laws of supply and demand are working their inevitable magic on gas prices.

Reportedly the price of crude has dipped below $30 a barrel, and recently saw a bottom of $27; some think $20 is the limit while others have started wondering if $10 is impossible. I don't care how low it goes as long as it stays there for a good long while. We need cheap energy, damn it.

Either way, the descent of gas prices into this territory have resulted in a change in my own driving habits. I step harder on the gas now, instead of being light on the throttle...and ironically it seems as if my fuel economy is improving. WTF.

And, incidentally, this. Get out your jerry cans, folks; and expect a spot increase in StaBil prices. With the gas cans I have on hand I'll be able to cut grass all summer without going to the gas station.

Special glee part: the low price of gas must be driving the eco-loonies nuts.