July 14th, 2017

#5732: Feelin' like a million bucks, and the sun's shining on both sides of the street!

Weather report says "overcast". The science is settled!

...but it's cool out, and the air is dry, and it's lovely, and even though yesterday was errand day I have more errands to run today. Whee!

* * *

Oh dick we're all DEAD!!!

You know what? I'm skeptical of all this. It's not just the fact that scaremongering is how lefty groups gain power over people; it's that it's friggin' wrong half the time anyway.

My eye tripped over one phrase: "...exceed the maximum federal safety levels...," the thing says, talking about arsenic in particular. What the hell does that mean, "maximum federal safety level"?

There's a couple ways one can interpret that phrase. One is, "the maximum allowed level in federal safety standards". That's what the writer intends you to read. But the other is, "the highest federal safety standard", meaning the lowest-ever allowed concentration.

You may recall, from the Bush years, a brouhaha wherein Bush decided that proposed EPA standards for arsenic were too strict, and too expensive, for the benefit gained. They were going to cut the maximum allowable arsenic concentration in drinking water to some stupefyingly low level, something that could only be managed at great expense. I forget the exact figure; I do recall writing a blog post about how much fruit juice you'd need to drink in a day to have a 50% chance of dying from arsenic poisoning, and it turned out to be approximately a railroad tank car's worth. The old standard was similar, some number of parts per million, only the EPA wanted to make it an order of magnitude smaller.

So, here's the bottom line: I am betting this study means that the arsenic levels in some water is three times higher than the proposed limit which was never actually law because it was stupidly and unnecessarily low.

I am not worried about arsenic in my drinking water, any more than I am worried about poison gas in the air I breathe. There isn't enough of it to be a problem.

The problem with government oversight is that it always gets broader and more strict, because otherwise the army of bureaucrats doesn't have a reason to exist. The standards set twenty-forty-sixty years ago are frequently perfectly safe; while I don't have a problem with those standards being reviewed, I do have a problem with them being tightened solely because the regulating agency has to justify its budget. And there is no agency in the federal government which is more guilty of that horseshit than the EPA is.

And other than noting that the arsenic levels "at some San Joaquin Valley schools" are "three times higher than the maximum federal safety level", no specifics are given whatsoever. They don't tell us how much of the various contaminants are found. How many parts-per-million, or -billion, of perchlorate and atrazine and drugs and-and-and have been found in these places where they're detected?

Answer: not enough to be dangerous to anyone. The fact that substances are detectable in drinking water does not make them dangerous.

* * *

The Illinois pension time bomb is ticking. The recent budget crap--which resulted in whopping big tax increases with nothing else done--is mere can-kicking, as I suspected. The pensions are still paying out more than they're taking in.

The article likens the pension funds to Ponzi schemes, and that's not wrong. The money won't last, and eventually the funds will be bankrupt--and when they are, guess where they'll turn? Why, they'll turn to the taxpayer, of course, and demand that the taxpayers pay for it. "These retirees were promised they'd have pensions," the politicians will say gravely.

Well, I sure as hell didn't promise anyone they'd get to retire at their highest-ever salary starting at age 50. You pricks in the state house let the union goons write their own tickets, so you douchebags can find a way to pay for it that doesn't make my taxes skyrocket.

* * *

The climate data has been tampered with, intentionally, to show warming where there is none.

* * *

Fred talks about slavery. Slavery exists as long as it's economically necessary. The instant it isn't, it goes away.

It wasn't just the South. It was the entire country. It was brutal and bad, and there were (in fact) more white slaves than black ones.

Windows threatens restart. Back in a few.

After Windows-mandated restart!

The dirty secret of the Civil War is that the North didn't care about ending slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves only in the South, not the North. And as Fred mentions, Lincoln didn't mind slavery, and I'd bet that he wouldn't have issued the EP if the South had not been attempting to secede.

In antebellum America, the South was an economic serf to the North--much poorer, and less industrailized and urbanized. The South was largely agrarian, having less heavy industry than the North, and its cities were less populous than those in the North. Fewer people meant fewer Congressmen, and less of a voice in the federal government. That was why the South wished to secede, and also why the North refused to allow it under any circumstances: the last thing the North wanted was to have to deal with the South on an equal footing.

Making the whole thing about freeing slaves reflects better on the victors, the North, which is why the history books have all been written to say that; but it was really about consolidating power at the federal level and making sure states could not leave the union if they so desired.

And when you look at it that way, suddenly--instead of being an icon of freedom--Lincoln becomes a despicable tyrant.

* * *

Francis Porretto links to Sarah Hoyt, talking about what's happened in traditional publishing. The theme of the post is that current writers and editors are trying their damnedest to de-legitimize the old masters of SF, and Porretto sums it thus:
The leftists' sotto voce complaint, of course, is that despite their dominance of the heavily politicized Hugo and Nebula Awards, their books don't sell. But why don't they sell? They're award winners, aren't they? The "critics" praise them, while simultaneously casting aspersions on the "primitive forebears" of their genres. All the "best people" approve and applaud them. So why are their sales weak?
And of course we all know what the answer is to that question.

The answer is their books aren't entertaining.

The old masters could make a point without turning the story into a boring communist propaganda piece, regardless of how insane their actual points were. Modern writers cannot do the same, at least in part because the points they're trying to make are absolutely antithetical to entertaining stories.

Antithetical, and shoehorned in so badly they interrupt the flow of the story to boot.
Alex Davis was the best there was when it came to sky polo AND IT WAS ALL DUE TO HER BACKGROUND AS A POOR LESBIAN OF COLOR-- [cut: 300 pages of boring SJW horseshit.]

When Daynyl Parker was young, he always dreamed of being a woman, but he had to wait to his eighteenth birthday before he could get a new body that conformed to his inner self-image. [cut: 300 pages of boring SJW horseshit.]

Ndembi Ngumi had never seen a hovercar, but when one came to her village with the UN logo on the side, and the official said she was Earth's best hope for making peace with the S'SS'S'SS'S'SS'SSSS'S'S""S"'S""ASDFKS:DLFK, she knew her destiny had come calling. [cut: 300 pages of boring SJW horseshit.]
THIS IS WHAT IT'S LIKE.

Sometimes it's written better than that. (Only "sometimes"!)

...and that's why it doesn't sell. The critics, SJWs themselves, love it to pieces, but the average person wanting an escape from 21st century Earth doesn't want to pay $10 for a paperback which is nothing but 21st century Earth with a thin veneer of otherness atop it. You know, 400 years from now, it's not likely anyone's going to give a rat's ass about slavery in the 19th century. And in 2417, people are going to look at America in the 21st century and think, "Holy crap, those people were so delusional they thought a person's sex was a choice! I mean, they actually thought a man became a woman simply by deciding he was one! And their elites took it seriously!" And they'll point to all the fawning coverage of Bruce Jenner's sex change.

The old masters still sell well because they wrote entertaining stories. First and foremost. And the modern crop does not. So of course the answer is not to cut the SJW horseshit and write entertaining stories, oh, no! The answer is to destroy the old masters.

* * *

Retired NASA engineer had a mainframe in his basement. This is some seriously old hardware, vintage 1962. NASA was uninterested in having it back. I especially like the panel marked "Buffer No 4" which has a couple dozen Nixie tubes for displaying numbers. The writer derides it as "lots of blinky lights" and add, "does it go 'bing!' too?" What a cockmonkey. That's how computation was done before you were born, you ignorant little piss-head, and it was a necessary stage in computer evolution to get them to where they are now. Or did you think your MacBook was just brought down from on high by an archangel?

* * *

Car wreck turns power lines into an impromptu Jacob's Ladder. That's marvelous, and that's also why they tell you never to mess around with downed power lines, or power lines in general.

I'm surprised that there weren't fuses blowing for miles around, but I suppose the arc was crossing enough resistance to prevent an overload. At the end, of course, when the power lines to the right droop and contact each other, then there's an overload and the whole thing shuts down.

That really is a pretty show, though.

#5733: Why do I have to buy them FIVE POUNDS AT A TIME?

I need 1" chlorine tablets for the pool. I went to three stores to find them. Stores 1 and 2 had them in buckets for $25. You use one or two of these things at a time, and I don't foresee needing more than a couple pounds' worth of chlorine tablets for the rest of the summer, not for a 1,000 gallon pool.

I've already bought a quart of algacide and a quart of pH reducer. These chemicals are concentrated enough that for my little pool, I use them by the teaspoon. I probably have a 5-year supply of them, now.

Finally found a small container of 1" tablets for $20 with tax. I might as well have bought the friggin' bucket, at that price, but by then I was so tired I just wanted to go home. Shit.

Still can't find filters. It's an Intex type H filter, and it looks like the going rate on-line is $19 in 6-packs. Probably go that way since the filter in the pool is getting gummed up already, after a mere 11 days. I take it out, I rinse it in the sink, I put it back in, and everything works fine for another day, but a new filter would probably be best now that most of the rust has precipitated out.

But! It's so nice to have the option of taking a dip, why worry? We just need to have some weather which is actually hot in which to use it.

And believe me, it's coming. If the forecast holds we might have swimming weather next week. Perhaps by then I'll have the pool chemistry adjustered and fiddleated into something approximating correct.

* * *

Well, it's evening now. The sky did finally cloud over, but it's cool and dry and I can't complain about that.

* * *

None of the lamps in the house, save the ones Mrs. Fungus brought with when she moved in, have decent shades on them. Reason? Mom smoked two packs a day, that's why.

The walls haven't been painted since 1982. The carpeting in the family room was new in 1988. The entire place is dingy with smoke residue. I took down a mirror in the computer room and was shocked at just how bad the problem actually is: the walls were originally yellow, and look beige:



Left side uncovered, right side covered--and I didn't realize just how bad it was until I saw that. (The light is not very good. Trust me, it's yellow.)

So imagine a nice, white lampshade being placed in an environment where that is happening to the walls. What do you think happens to that lampshade?

Oh yeah, it gets dingy. And then when you put a 100W equivalent LED bulb behind that lampshade, it just sucks up the light.

Today I assembled a new lamp bought yesterday, and placed it in the same place one of the old lamps had stood. Same LED bulb, twice the friggin' light makes it out into the room. The difference is amazing.

The bunker will never grace the cover of Architectural Digest but we keep it reasonably clean. I vacuum at least once a week, clean the bathroom about every other week, clean the kitchen at least twice a week, and in general keep the place as tidy as I can considering how busy we are. But no matter how much you clean, with that kind of crap on the walls, the place is going to look pretty dirty. It's gonna take painting to fix that.

Well, we'll get there, I suppose.