August 30th, 2016

#5310: "Strong signal"?

It's 91 light years away. SETI may or may not have found something very interesting (check out the Wikipedia entry) but SETI does not often see a radio signal like this.

Guess we'll find out late next month.

* * *

Red Cross is a racket. Not donating to them, then.

* * *

People need sleep. Our society places an emphasis on denying yourself sleep--you're bad if you sleep "too much". But people need sleep. Not sleeping is bad for you.

* * *

Case in point: I'm tired.

#5311: Wait, what?

When demand for large aircraft declines, Boeing raises its prices. Perhaps I don't understand the economics of the sales of heavy equipment such as commercial aircraft, but that seems counterintuitive to me. Then again, when you are one of the two manufacturers for such equipment in the world, I guess it's not really a problem. Especially when
The Boeing slowdown, however, pales in comparison to the plunge in global demand for Airbus poroducts: sales at the European conglomerate have slowed to a net 323 through July this year. That compares with 1,080 in all of 2015. Airbus prices range from about $88.6 million for an A319 up to $428 million for the double-decker A380.
In other news, Bill Gates could buy an A380 for about half of a percent of his net worth. How's that for "rich"?

* * *

There is still a welfare cliff. It's just higher up than it used to be. And it ensures that people who live on the dole will stay there, just the same way it did forty years ago.

* * *

For volcanoes, earthquakes usually presage an eruption. And it's been about six years since Mount WTF ("Eyjafjallajökull") erupted, and at the time people were talking about Katla.

A computer animation of the last day in Pompeii.

* * *

This friggin' idiot was almost President. I'm so glad John F'in Kerry didn't get elected. He can do so much less damage as Secretary of State. "Oh, you know, if the press didn't report terrorist attacks, people wouldn't know about it, and we'd all be better off!"

An utterly fatuous man, this ridiculous gigolo John Kerry.

* * *

The fortunate thing about executive orders? If Trump wins in November, he can negate this horseshit. The President only has the power to sign treaties; he does not have the power to ratify them. Clinton and the Democrats used that to good effect; Clinton signed Kyoto knowing that the Senate would never ratify that stupid, utterly useless crap. Clinton got props from all the lefties for doing it, but never placed the United States in danger of having to live up to it. Win-win.

Obama, however, is much more of a true believer than Clinton was. Clinton was primarily in it for Clinton; if that meant throwing a few bones to the hoople-heads he didn't really mind so long as it didn't interrupt the flow of willing interns. Leftism was a tool for Clinton, something he probably believed in but mainly it was to get money, power, and chicks. Obama, on the other hand, was raised on a steady diet of leftism; he's a red diaper baby. Which is why Obama doesn't mind doing everything he did, leaving us much, much worse off after eight years.

* * *

This is correct. I have not written much about the idiot mulatto muslim NFL quarterback, who refused to stand for the national anthem because the US oppresses black people while employed at his job which is earning him about twenty million dollars a year.

I have not written much about it because I honestly don't give a fuck what a spoiled, entitled, rich brat says or does. Particularly not one employed in the entertainment industry. I do, in fact, expect this kind of horseshit from that class of person. I expect it because people who live in that mode are constantly told they are the best and it's all "Yes, sir! You're brilliant, sir! Absolutely at once, sir!" all the time, so they get to thinking that they're special, and because there are absolutely no checks and balances against their idiocy whatsoever--"no" men get fired immediately--eventually they come to think that their politics are the ultimate of ideology, and they act accordingly.

If this idiot were instead an average mixed-race man, sitting in the stands instead of on the field, no one would give a fuck about what he did OR his reasons for doing it. And that's how I feel about it.

Does he have a right not to stand for the national anthem? Absolutely. "Freedom of expression," as Borepatch remarks. The day everyone has to stand for the national anthem or end up in jail, we're fucked.

But the thing I find fatuous and annoying about this is how an extremely rich man who is never going to want for anything is doing this because "black people are oppressed". He's going to reap big rewards for doing this--it's not going to ruin his career, not the way praying and thanking Jesus for his success would--and he'll go on shows and talk about racial oppression blah blah blah etcetera.

And that will be the sum of his sacrifice for his cause.

He's not going to eschew his $100 million paycheck, nor will he take a "living wage" from it but donate the rest to the cause he so bravely remained seated to uphold. He's going to continue to play football and get paid wheelbarrows full of money to do it, all the while denigrating the very country that enabled him to do so.

I've never cared about football. I still don't. So by not watching football I'm not hurting the fortunes of this dicklick or the NFL one iota. But I'm not the only person who thinks that this sort of "protest" is nothing but the rankest ingratitude, and many of the people who feel the same do (or, at least, did) watch pro football. And maybe they won't. Maybe people who used to buy 49'ers tickets will think twice about it.

Pro football is entertainment and it does not do for an entertainer to piss off half his customers. And if the fortunes of the 49'ers suffer because of this, well, "freedom of expression" cuts both ways.

And someone should tell the idiot the old aphorism about opening your mouth and removing all doubt.

* * *

This article is from 2009 but no less true. And today I comment on this:
Aside from the police officers constantly on patrol, a sure sign that you are in a black school is the coke cage: the chain-link fence that many majority-black schools use to protect vending machines. The cage surrounds the machine and even covers its top. Delivery employees have to unlock a gate on the front of the cage to service the machines. Companies would prefer not to build cages around vending machines. They are expensive, ugly, and a bother, but black students smashed the machines so many times it was cheaper to build a cage than repair the damage. Rumor had it that before the cages went up blacks would turn the machines upside down in the hope that the money would fall out.
The proper solution to that conundrum is no more vending machines. But of course it's raciss to take out the vending machines because the special snowflakes keep destroying them.

* * *

Using a USB device as a software-defined radio for infecting air-gapped computers. This is why, when watching a movie that contains a machine intelligence doing seemingly impossible things, like controlling an otherwise unconnected device, I do not get annoyed.

* * *

Well, Legion went live last night. Mrs. Fungus and I were on when it happened.

The original Ormus, on Aggramar, was who I chose to start with. He's the closest thing I have to a main character, so off we went. I was wandering around Stormwind trying to get the Fel Spreader toy by looking for the demon infiltrator Doomsayer, and when one finally appeared I hung at the periphery of the conflict and popped spells at him as quick as I could. When the demon died, I got the Fel Spreader...and as I headed towards the portal to Dalaran I noticed that the text box said I'd earned 158 XP...and then saw the experience bar. Ormus has not had one since he hit 100th level, a few months or so after Warlords of Draenor came out. When you hit the level cap, it goes away--and now it was back.

"Hey, honey!" I yelled to my wife, who was in the family room. "Ormus has an experience bar!"

"What? Is it starting?"

"I think so!"

It was 1:40 AM, and a few moments later the lead-in quest for the expansion popped up on my screen. It had indeed begun. We played until 3, enough time to get started with the new expansion and get a feel for how it would be, but fatigue and necessity forced us to go to bed--we have errands to run and tasks to accomplish on our weekend. We'd ordinarily go to bed around 1 or 2 on a regular work night, so it wasn't that much outside of routine, and we were able to sleep until noon today, which is good enough.

The fights I faced on the class quests (the ones leading to your class hall and legendary weapon) were tough, but only tough enough--challenging without being impossible for anyone who doesn't subsist on a diet of Mountain Dew and Skittles. Ormus died once, and that only happened because the monster I was fighting did that annoying thing where it evades and resets back to full health, still attacking me who is at 40% health with half my abilities on cooldown. It was a glitch; I could have beaten him if the fight had been fair.

Looking forward to seeing more of it. But not now; first I need to replace the Jeep's O2 sensor, then get her smogged, and if I have time I'll go to the DMV today to get the plate renewed. We'll see.

#5312: The advantage of business over government

Took the Jeep to the usual place to get smogged. Doing this on the penultimate day of the month is not the best time, and if I'd had a choice I wouldn't have. First time in a very long one that I had to wait. There was a long line of vehicles, so long that it trailed out into the street. I drove past at first, not understanding; then turned around and took my place in line, in the street.

I had intended--hoped--to get this over with quickly enough that I could make it to the DMV to get the plates renewed today. Knowing that I had slept in on purpose and with malice aforethought, I had nonetheless hoped to get it all done in one swell foop. But with that kind of line, I realized ruefully, it wasn't going to happen.

As I waited, I noticed vehicles pulling into and out of the little parking lot adjoining the test facility, but I didn't really think much of it. Twenty minutes after I finally got into the driveway, I pulled into a test bay. That part took two minutes, roughly...and in the little room they have you wait in during the test, there was advertising. It was pretty obvious that the emissions testing had been contracted out to a private company, because for one thing there was a flyer there advising that they were looking for part-time workers to run emissions tests. ($8 an hour!) But the one which was most important to me was a little standing box of handbills which gave important news.

They renew plates right there. It costs an extra $7.50 to do it.

$7.50--my time is worth a hell of a lot more than that to me. If I were to go to the DMV to get my plates renewed, even assuming I could have done it today? Fight asshole traffic to get there, stand in line at the door to get permission from one bureaucrat to go deeper into the building (even though I know where to go) and then stand in line there to get my plates renewed. What would it take, an hour from the time I left the testing facility? Probably ninety minutes, assuming I got there in time, and I couldn't remember if the DMV closed at 5 or 6. In all liklihood I could have done it--I was in a testing bay by 4:30--but it would be a pain.

Test passed, I went around the building and parked, and after that I waited five minutes to get my renewal sticker; and instead of having to fight my way through Chicago Heights to the DMV, I was able to go right home. That was a well-spent $7.50.

That's the difference between private business and government. Someone was smart enough to realize that if they were to use part of the little office space tacked onto the testing bays as a place where people could renew their license plates--because that's the only reason people come there, is to get their vehicles tested so they can renew their plates!--if they did that, they could make money charging a convenience fee. And people will pay it to avoid waiting in line for half an hour at the DMV.

...so tomorrow, now, I don't have to futz with it.

* * *

Before all that, of course, I replaced the O2 sensor. The replacement has been sitting on my desk since last Thursday. That was just a matter of remove and replace; I didn't even have to jack up the truck.

Here's the oddity: I remember that the Jeep did not, at first, complain about the O2 sensor, that the "check engine" light stayed out for a few days after my repair job. Well, apparently the light came on because the sensor was unplugged. The wrench I picked wasn't quite fitting the O2 sensor well enough to pop it loose, so I wanted to put the box end over it, but I needed to pull the cable through it--and that's when I realized the harness end was missing. Where--? Oh, great, it's by the friggin' transfer case.

I'm lucky it didn't wrap around the drive shaft. Replacing that f-ing connector would have sucked.

Anyway, got it in and buttoned up and safely fastened up out of the way, and pulled the battery cable, and everything worked fine.

I'm thinking that the broken wire on the old sensor was the ground wire. Having a broken ground shouldn't matter in a vehicle, where everything is grounded to the chassis; that's probably why it worked and I could probably have gotten away with just hooking the plug back up and letting it go, had I known. But I'd run the chance of getting all the way over to the testing station only to fail, because maybe the O2 sensor would work well enough to keep the light off but still throw codes, you know?

And the sensor cost about $37 with shipping. F it.

So for the first time in months I drove my truck without the "check engine" light on, and I'm now having to get used to it being off. Well, this is progress.

I hope the thing continues to get 20 MPG and doesn't go back to 18.

* * *

Other little bit: had to get gas, as the "low fuel" light went on while I was driving home yesterday. As I was driving up to the gas station, I saw the price changing; it went from $2.389 to $2.349 as I watched. Kind of neat, something I've not seen before. I've seen the guy out there changing numbers by hand, but not a digital display changing. And it was even in the right direction. With my Shell Rewards card I saved an extra $0.03, too.

* * *

Oh! Sunday--

Sunday I got off work at 6:35. That's when I punched out.

See, my anniversary was the 17th, and my ID badge stopped working at the scanners, so I now have to get a temporary badge at the security desk. I have to surrender my driver's license to get one. On Sunday the 21st I told my supervisor that I needed a new ID badge; that request disappeared into the ether and my sup went on vacation on Monday. So a week later, still no badge, and I was still tendering my DL to get a temp ID every day. Yeah. Including Sunday.

So I punch out at 6:35, delighted that I was able to leave after a pretty positive call, and I went to the desk to claim my DL and go home.

No guard.

Okay, people gotta hit the can once in a while, and I know the guard also has to walk around the place every so often. That shouldn't take very long, I figured. There's a little office behind the desk which is security-related, so after waiting ten minutes I knocked on the door, to no avail.

So after waiting at the desk for twenty minutes, I sought out the operations manager on duty. "How does one find the security guard when he's not at his desk?"

"Oh...well, he's probably doing rounds. You'll have to look for him. Try looking in the lunchroom or down by the classrooms."

Thanks a ton, you useless shithead.

I wander around, I wait at the front desk some more, I wander around some more--finally stopping at my desk and putting in a change request for my punch-out time to reflect the fact that it is now 7:16 PM, forty-five minutes after I punched out, and I'm held prisoner because my ID is being held hostage for a stupid ID and the goddamned security guard is nowhere to be found--and then I head out to the security desk to wait some more. Mirabile visu the guard is there, and I am shortly on my way.

Low fuel light is on; on my way to the highway I miss the turn to the gas station, and I decide to hit a gas station somewhere on the way home. I am too angry at the security guard stupidity at work to think coherently, so it's not until I'm some miles down the road that I realize how low the gas gauge is. Realizing that I need fuel soonest, I activate the GPS and have it locate a gas station for me.

Does it give directions, such as "Bob's Gas and Stuff, NE 1.4 mi"? Hell no! It gives an arrow, and no indication of what that arrow means. I figure it's map orientation, meaning that when it's pointing up that means north, so when I select the one that I'm taking to be 1.8 miles south of me--as I am heading south anyway--the fucking thing tells me to turn around and get back on the highway going north! I cancel that one, find a place to pull off the local road, select the next nearest one, and head out.

It takes me to a vacant lot. Okay, the next nearest one is a couple more miles away, let's go there...it takes me to a vacant storefront. Look, I know the GPS is out of date, but come on! This place isn't even a gas station, and it never was! What the fuck.

Seething mad now, and worried about the fuel state, I pick another gas station, which is three miles away in the opposite direction I was just traveling. Of course I get behind a fucking shithead who can only go about 42 in a 45 zone. By the time I near my destination I am fit to be tied.

But it's a gas station. An open, operating gas station. It's not the one the GPS said was there, but I don't even care about that. I pull in and it's 7:40 PM, which is 10 minutes after I usually get home.

$20 later, I'm heading back to the highway. In the meantime I've taken a call from Mrs. Fungus, who had been apprised of my plight and who was suggesting we go to that good mexican place with the huge chimichangas. Deciding that food and a margerita would help my mood immensely, I agreed.

They did.