July 26th, 2017

#5755: Section 8

The only reason anyone outside the military knows what "Section 8" is comes from M*A*S*H*, the TV series, where Corporal Klinger constantly dressed up as a woman in order to be judged mentally unfit for duty and thus discharged. M*A*S*H* takes place during the Korean War, and thus Klinger was a draftee; he didn't volunteer for duty. None of the "hard liners" ever succeed in getting him drummed out, and so he served a full hitch, and ditched the womens' clothes in the last few seasons.

Klinger's problem was that no one took his deviant behavior seriously; everyone in the camp knew why he was wearing womens' clothing. It was not because he thought he was a woman, a delusion (if real) which would have disqualified him for service. Furthermore his transvestism was an affectation meant only to get him out of the Army; he had no desire to wear womens' clothing for its own sake. His transvestism was merely a means to an end. Much comedy was made of his attempts to be discharged under Section 8, such as when he tried eating a Jeep, claimed to be a communist (dressed as a babushka), and of course his perennial transvestism. The problem with his scheme was that he was not, in fact, actually insane, and everyone in the camp knew it. And discipline in the 4077th was lax enough that no one cared that Klinger was routinely out of uniform.

In the real Army of 2017, though--

Klinger could not get drummed out for being a transvestite. He'd get punishments for being out of uniform, of course, but not if he dressed in female uniform. The Army would have him talk to a psychiatrist, and get therapy, and if he stuck to his guns through all that it would finally admit that he was a woman trapped in a man's body, and everywhere his records said "Sex: M" would have to be changed to "Sex: F". Then, according to DoD policy, he'd shower with the women and use the womens' toilets and-and-and. Up to and including hormone therapy and sex change surgery if that's what his doctor and shrink decided was best for accommodating his delusion that he was a woman.

What they would not do is discharge him under Section 8.

But Trump has ordered the Department of Defense to stop mollycoddling the delusional. This is good, because you must consider what the function of a military force is.

Contrary to the opinions of the left--which thinks the military exists to be a laboratory for social experimentation--the military exists to defend our country, and its chief method for doing that is to kill people and break things. Anything that does not contribute to that function is superfluous.

Women in combat has a deleterious effect on that function. Allowing the patently delusional to serve does, too. If you have an individual who is confused about what sex he is, that person is unfit for military duty.

This was obvious to everyone in the 1970s when M*A*S*H* was being made into a TV series, even the hyper-leftist Hollywood writers of the show. That's why Klinger wore dresses: a man who actually thought he was a woman, and dressed like one, was unfit for duty.

* * *

It's coming to the point of mangling the language to make their point.
We don't call the penis and testicles "male genitalia" for purely arbitrary reasons. We call them that because they fulfill a function that, very long ago, we deemed "male," just as we deem the vagina, ovaries, and uterus "female." The terms male and female are functional designators above all else. They designate the distinguishing properties and functions of male and female bodies that preceded everything else about Mankind and our societies.
And sex is a biological fact, not an opinion or a "social construct".

A man who has had his penis and testicles removed is not a woman. At most, he's a eunuch, which is a term that means "a man who no longer has his penis and testicles", among other things. "Caitlyn" Jenner is a man with breast implants--that is, a man who's had a specific kind of cosmetic surgery. If he goes ahead and has the sex change surgery, he'll still be a man who had a specific kind of cosmetic surgery. Just more of it. Sans penis and testicles (even if his penis has been surgically altered to be a kind of vagina) he'll essentially be a eunuch.

He won't be a woman, any more than other male-to-female transsexuals are women. He's not one now. He can never be one, no matter how fervently he may wish it, and all the surgery and therapy in the world will not make it so.

We can call him "her" and "she" and refer to him as a woman, out of politeness, but it still doesn't make it so.

That's the fundamental problem with transgenderism, and it's the whole reason the suicide rate for the transgendered is so high.

* * *

No, Democrats, the problem you're having is that people know exactly what you stand for. As usual Democrats blame their loss in 2016 on "not getting our message out".
During an appearance on ABC's "This Week," Schumer discussed the Democrats' new economic agenda, which he said they will unveil on Monday.

"The number one thing that we did wrong is we didn't tell people what we stood for," Schumer said during the interview.
It's the same reason they always run to when they lose elections: "We didn't get our message out. People didn't know what we stand for."

The possibility that the people do know what they stand for, and want nothing whatsoever to do with it, never occurs to them. (This is actually a feature, not a bug. At least, it works to our advantage.)

Though, in actuality, the Democrats know this already. One need only look at Bill Clinton, who ran as a moderate but governed as a liberal. They get elected when they lie about who they are; and that is the "what we stood for" that Schumer is referring to. They didn't lie enough. Hillary Clinton told it like it was when she gave her "basket of deplorables" speech, which was one of the biggest mistakes of her campaign.

The new platform that the Democrats are announcing is more of the same-old-same-old:
They are leaning heavily on a re-branding of their greatest hits--more and better-paying jobs, lowering health care costs and cracking down on the what are seen as the abuses of big business.
But the people are wise to that line. "More and better-paying jobs" means unionization. "Lowering health care costs" means socialized medicine and wasn't ObamaCare supposed to fix that? "Cracking down on big business", you mean the way Hillary got paid $400,000 for a 30-minute speech by a Wall Street firm, or do you just mean running my employer out of business with taxes and regulation?

That's not a Fungus translation; these are things people think when they hear that stuff.

The average American citizen does not want what the Democrats are offering. That's why they lost so big in the last election.

Like this:
...[T]hey're right, we're wrong, and they will never even dream of considering they might possibly be in error. Even after decades of failure after failure--a collapsing, moribund economy; foreign-policy train wrecks and humiliations one after another after another; a skyrocketing debt fueled by out of control spending; a nation which rightly views its government as an adversary, despising it, distrusting it, fearing it, and seeking to quietly ignore or circumvent it at every opportunity; a populace that doesn't believe a word its supposed "representatives" say, and fully comprehends the rot and corruption festering throughout the government while having lost all faith in its own ability to wield even the slightest influence over its direction--these are the toxic fruits of Progressivist governance.

Detroit. Detroit is their model, their ideal; Detroit is what they hope to turn the entire country into. It's all they can do; it’s all they have.

And THAT is where we take hope; that is our ultimate salvation. These halfwits have nothing whatsoever to offer except more of the same. They have already failed; they have failed again and again and again. Anybody who has searched in vain for a job in recent years, or dropped out of the workforce in despair; been victimized by a domestic Muslim terrorist attack that never would have happened without the Left's wet-brained insistence on importing hordes of unvetted, unassimilable troglodytes; been forced into an unaffordable Obamacare plan that provides them with no real coverage in exchange for an exorbitant monthly charge; or risked their life savings trying to start a business only to see their dream drown in a Sargasso of idiotic regulation, taxation, and government obstruction, knows exactly where their bullshit leads.
Yeah. So, Democrats, keep thinking that it's because you didn't get your message out.

* * *

This kind of crap is what they don't want. The UK is aiming to force all new vehicles to be electric.

This sounds all well and good until you ask a salient and important question no one appears to have asked yet: where is the electricity coming from?

Here's what the article says:
The plans would set aside £1 billion for ultra-low emissions vehicles, including £100 million for public electric charging infrastructure and plug-in car grants, and £290 million has been earmarked for retrofitting old public transport and propping up sales of hybrid taxis. Local councils will have access to an air quality grant, apparently. Cycling and walking gets a juicy £1.2 billion.
A hundred million pounds for infrastructure? For the whole country? "Cycling and walking"? That's going to do a lot of good for the people out in the hinterlands who have to drive a couple dozen kilometers to get to the nearest grocery store, winter or summer. Cycling is so much fun when it's snowing. *rolleyes*

The problem with all this is that no one's looked at how much electricity is required to take the place of the gasoline and diesel that is being used now. It's going to amount to quite a packet; in July of 2015 England used 1,475 million liters of gasoline alone. At 46.6 MJ/kg, that works out to, oh, 466,000 megawatts of power over the course of one month.

That excludes the use of diesel, of course. Diesel is more energy-dense than gasoline and it takes more of it to do things, but lets just say they use as much diesel as they do gasoline, which is a huge assumption and sorely underestimates the actual usage.

932,000 megawatts. Close to a terawatt of energy.

This is a back-of-the-envelope calculation, and subject to many errors, but I think it gets the point across. England does not have the electrical infrastructure to provide that kind of electrical power atop what it is already delivering. They certainly do not have the generating capacity.

Now: this plan gives them until 2040 to accomplish it, and 23 years is plenty of time to build new power plants and string new wires and-and-and...but a billion pounds ain't gonna do it. That's not even a good down payment; building one 600 MW plant will run a cool £1.6 billion. And that's for coal power, which just moves the pollution. A nuclear plant will run £6.9 billion. To replace gasoline with electricity, they'll need to add an additional terawatt of generating capacity; at 600 megawatts per plant, that's about 1700 more generating plants they'll need to build. Just to replace gasoline and diesel vehicles.

They really make a serious effort to make this kind of information accessible to the average person and YES THAT IS SARCASM. "Dispatchable" means we can turn it on or off whenever we want to. "Non-dispatchable" means that you're at the mercy of nature. I have a strong preference for "dispatchable" power sources, because the other kind leads to brown-outs unless you have a dispatchable source ready to take up the slack. And then your all-electric transportation infrastructure grinds to a halt.

The costs which their graph do not show:
1) Coal without any carbon capture
2) Conventional nuclear
3) Natural gas
And it fails to show that because that would demonstrate how much environmental regulation is adding to the cost of power generation. Natural gas is the cheapest and least-polluting fossil fuel power generation system available; the only thing that pollutes less--at least, among controllable sources--is nuclear. And they don't list the cost of conventional nuclear power plants because reasons, I suppose, except that it would show how much cheaper nuclear can be if it's allowed to be. Certainly a nuclear plant, with all the lefty horseshit surrounding it, is cheaper to build in the long run than a solar plant, or a coal plant with 90% sequestration. According to that very graph "advanced nuclear" requires a smaller subsidy than a 90% carbon sequestration coal plant does--about half!--to bring it in line with other technologies on the list.

(All of this nonsense is predicated on the idea that carbon emissions are a problem, which has not been proven or even well-demonstrated.)

Of course, eliminating the internal combustion engine in 23 years won't mean an immediate switch to an all-electric transportation system. There will still be plenty of gasoline and diesel vehicles around, eve in 2040, for people to buy and use. Figure that by 2060 most of those will be gone, so what we're looking at is a 43-year time frame to build the infrastructure needed to support the elimination of fossil fuels.

If they spend £1 billion per year between now and 2040, they might be able to do it.


* * *

The real human cost of the open borders movement. The fault for the deaths of those ten mexicans lies on every sanctuary city, every person who hires illegal labor, and every official who refuses to uphold immigration law. Through their encouragment for people to come here illegally, they've contributed to the deaths of those people.

* * *

Will self-driving cars be the end of airlines? I'm not sure. Karl Dennginer makes an excellent point in that article--a one-hour flight typically takes three or four with all the TSA and airport bullshit--but will people look at the time required and decide to take a self-driving car instead? Where they can stretch out in the back seat and relax or work while the car handles the driving?

I'm sure that in many cases they will. I don't think airlines will be reduced to international travel only, but I'd bet that people will do the math and decide to drive, rather than fly, in most cases. Intranational flight will be reserved for emergencies or very long trips--like Chicago to California or Florida--but regional airlines will go away. (No more puddle jumps from Cedar Rapids to O'Hare, for example.)

The real revolution will come in long-haul freight.
The long-haul trucking industry is going to get it up the pooper first, simply because of the cost of tractors. Self-driving vehicles there are a moderate cost increase and they eliminate the nut in the cabin that makes mid-five to low-six figures and as such they pay for themselves in a single year. You will still have drivers for the local segments but the automation will hook up and run the trailer from Terminal A -> Terminal B, where it will automatically undock and drop it, instantly deleting 80% of the truck drivers in the economy.
Emphasis his. And he's right: even if they have to pay some goober $15 an hour at each end to connect and disconnect trailers, it still represents a massive savings over paying someone to drive the truck between A and B.

And Denninger doesn't consider this, but this kind of technology would also have a deleterious effect on railroads. Right now, because of the cost of the driver, it's cheaper to put a bunch of trailers on a train and haul them long-distance that way. If you give the long-distance driving jobs to robots, that's no longer the case.

* * *

It's a symptom of a larger issue. For 90% of the users out there, Photoshop is overkill. I mean, serious overkill.

Take me, for example. 99% of what I do with images is changing their sizes. It is very seldom that I need to do anything else with an image but resize and crop it; and when I do need to cut-and-paste images, if I can't do it in MS Paint it's probably not worth my time to do it at all. Why buy Photoshop and learn how to use it for that tiny, bare fraction of 1% that MS Paint can't do?

I don't even use MS Paint for resizing and cropping. I use IrfanView for that, because it's very fast and convenient, much more so than MS Paint is for such things. My usage of MS Paint is confined to when I can't save an image but must paste the result of Alt-PrintScreen, and then crop from there.

Buying Photoshop, for my usage, would be like buying an expensive and comfortable luxury car, and then only ever driving it to the end of my driveway to pick up mail. (My driveway is very short, and the mailbox is by the front door, but you get the idea.)

In fact, Word is too much for my needs, even though I write novels. I could probably get by using Wordpad.

The same goes for a lot of commercial software packages. They include a truckload of features 1% of the users will need; for the rest of us, they're bloatware.

THIS, very much yes THIS:
I fucking hate Outlook, Office and (just to be fair) Adobe Photoshop. They're all too much for my needs, and I'm sick of having to learn to go through a multi-step process just to be able to do something that used to be a one-click operation.
MS Paint suffered from this. Everything used to be on the menu bar; now it's all different and a royal pain to access, taking 2-3-4 clicks where it used to take 1.

Just because you can add features does not mean it's a good idea.

* * *

Microstrip circuitry is insane. I once spent most of an afternoon trying to find a good reference on stripline circuitry for a book I was working on at Rockwell-Collins so that I could understand it well enough to explain what was happening in the circuit in 8th-grade English. Not surprisingly, the characteristics of multi-gigahertz RF were not well-covered in my classes at DeVry, and microstrip circuitry is counter-intuitive at best. As commentor Jon H. says, "I don't care what y'all say, this shit is witchcraft."

It really is.

* * *

So, I've found that after clearing out the cookies, and making sure to have one or no other tabs open, most of the time I can read comics.com without it horking up dicks on my connection for the next half-hour. It only bamboozles my link to that one site, and to Dilbert.com, but that's bad enough.


* * *

Well, today I have a list of chores to accomplish. I should probably go do them.

#5756: Yeah, days like this

Temp 83, dew point 72, cloudy, no wind. *sigh*

Went out to the garage and moved things around enough that I could get the tractor out, and gave the grass a much-belated cutting. It's only the second time this month I've cut the grass.

It's only the second time this month it's needed it. June was dry; July has more than made up for it. In fact the grass wouldn't need cutting now if it all grew at the same rate; I cut it not because it was getting too long but because it was getting too shaggy.

It's nice to see that the sumac trees whose stumps got treated with RoundUp are not growing back with the same vigor they previously displayed. In fact I haven't dug into the foliage to see if these are new shoots or what, but anywhere I treated weeds with the stuff, they're not there, or they're severely stunted. I really hosed down the seam in the driveway (where the pavement got cut when they redid the street, which of course happened after my parents had the driveway redone in the late 1990s) and all that stuff turned brown in a matter of days.

What I need is more of this stuff, and a garden sprayer. (And in fact I think I have that last already.) The trigger pump on the RoundUp bottle is stiff and hard on my fingers, and it doesn't produce enough of a stream for the effort I put into pumping it, regardless of how the nozzle is set. Something I can pump up would be good; or perhaps I can find another way to dispense this stuff more evenly.

There are new shoots coming through where I previously applied the herbicide, but that was approximately three inches of rain ago, in June. I can fix that in a jiffy.

But not today. Today I have other tasks that need attending to, besides getting the grass cut.

* * *

Democrat from Illinois calls for Trump to be "eliminated". The article goes on to discuss some kind of deep state plot to get rid of Trump.

If you get rid of Trump, you get Pence, Democrats. You don't get Hillary.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez himself is a communist, and always has been. One of the hard-left lunatic Democrats we all know and love so much. And calling for the President to be "eliminated" is probably sedition, which is still illegal.

If Trump is removed from office--particularly if it's through shady means, or obviously from pure politics--expect things to get very bad in this country.

* * *

Stocking shelves is something we have the technology to automate. Make shelf-stockers expensive enough (such as with a $15 minimum wage) and that task will be automated.

(Hint: current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Most stores pay more than that, especially for overnight stockers, but not $15. Double the required minimum wage and most of those jobs get automated soonest.)

* * *

He's right: this shows that the GOP was never serious about repealing Obamacare. And of course they were never serious about it; they like it just fine.

Earth to GOP: this is how you got Trump.

#5757: Yeah, that wasn't worth $5

Spoiler warning, but I'm doing you a favor.

Mrs. Fungus wanted to watch a movie; we ended up watching Life, the story about a group of people aboard the ISS who are examining the first soil samples from Mars and they find a single-celled organism which is still alive.

My feeling--upon seeing the trailer, in the theater--was "Yet another godlike alien creature that somehow manages to be the do-all-be-all of survival machines, much better than puny humans." People trapped in a space station struggling to defeat the wily alien.

It looked bad. It was bad. It was bad on a bunch of levels, but the usual stupid Hollywood bullshit was in full effect, and that alone made it bad.

Well, what if we ignore all the stupid Hollywood bullshit? "What bullshit?" you ask?

Oh, let me count the ways:

1) Space station has thrusters which can de-orbit it. No. ISS may or may not have attitude thrusters, but they're not going to be enough to de-orbit the station. Attitude thrusters don't have enough delta V to materially change the orbit, even if you purposely set up a burn to do it.

2) Alien goop can access interior of station through attitude thrusters. No. That's like saying an alien could get into your car's cabin through the exhaust pipe. The plumbing for the thrusters is entirely separate from the lifesystem, and with good reason: the binary fuels used for attitude thrusters are extremely poisonous and corrosive. The alien lifeform is carbon-based; it would not live through taking a dip in monomethyl hydrazine or nitrogen tetroxide, and even if it could, it couldn't get inside the station from the propellant tanks.

3) Alien goop is 100% biologically compatible with terrestrial life. There's nothing about human flesh which it finds poisonous. This isn't actually too big a leap, because the carbon-based lifeform needs oxygen and water and some source of food. But it's entirely different from Earth life, and it shouldn't be able to so easily metabolize terrestrial proteins.

4) Alien goop somehow understands everything humans are trying to do. So Jake Gyllenhall is attempting to pilot a Soyuz capsule out into deep space--which is bloody impossible because a "lifeboat" isn't going to have enough fuel to do that--but the alien goop restrains him and prevents him from doing it. How the hell does the goop know what the control stick is for? How the hell does the goop know enough about human technology that it knows that if it keeps Jake's hand off the stick, the capsule will automatically land safely? The reason given for this is that the goop's cells are all multipurpose--sensory, musculature, and brain, all in one. Given the mass of the creature at the end of the movie, though, it's still not enough; elephants have bigger brains than this thing was and they're not supergeniuses who know how to pilot Soyuz capsules even though they've never seen one before, ever.

5) Mission commander has "firewall protocol" which none of the other crew is privy to until it's too late. Astronauts always know the full parameters of their mission. If the mission involves remaining in space to die with a hostile alien lifeform, they're going to know about it before they ever take off. So if, yeah, the thing gets loose, there's no argument about how to proceed. Astronauts are dedicated to their missions. They don't want to die any more than other people do, but they will if they have to. It's part of the job description and it's a dangerous job.

6) All sorts of tech which is not real or appropriate. The sleeping pods, with motorized covers. In real life they use sleeping bags. The incinerator in the lab module--fire is a very bad thing in space. Certainly there wouldn't be a way to disconnect the incinerator and use it as a hand weapon, blasting flaming gas everywhere. The fire suppression system in the lab (not triggered by Deadpool--sorry, the guy who played Deadpool--waving his flaming hand cannon around) would dump, if triggered, something like Halon into the module to supress fire. Halon works by displacing oxygen; and if the alien goop had managed to get into that system (it tried to) it would have ended up in a tank full of Halon, which doesn't contain any free oxygen, and the thing would have gone into hibernation or died. Wouldn't have done it any more good than getting into the thruster tankage would have. But you can't really use Halon in orbit because it's heavier than air and works by pushing air away from the fire, and that only works when there's gravity. Without gravity, you need to replace all the air in the module with Halon. (I said fire in space is bad news. I'm not kidding.) Oh, and by the way, Soyuz capsules are not designed for water landings. They come down on land.

7) Soyuz capsule docked with station is thrusting station out of Earth orbit. No. The best you could do with the mass of the ISS and the propellant on a Soyuz command module would be to raise the orbit higher; you could not even push the thing into cislunar space let alone "into deep space". And as usual we have a docking ring which is extremely sturdy and capable of withstanding thrust until the writers need it to fail, at which point it's no longer all that sturdy.

And I could go on and on and on about this. I don't think I need to, do I? Even if all this nonsense had been correct it still would have been a bad movie; it just would have been less bad. None of the characters was sympathetic and we never bothered to learn their names. The only character whose name I know was Calvin, the alien goop, so named because a little black girl asked the astronauts to name it after her school.

The first half of the movie is dead boring. The second half of the movie is full of stupid horseshit. Do not watch this movie because it sucks.

Zero stars: "Worse than Gravity."