June 28, 2018

Harlan Ellison 1934-2018

Another of the greats has passed. 

Harlan Ellison wrote over 1700 works that included short stories, novels, reviews, essays, screenplays and tracts. his works was always thought provoking and a bit out of the main stream (until the stream would change corse to follow him, at which point he'd often wade out again.) His wrings were brilliant in their vision and enriched our world beyond measure.

I did not know him and only met him once, but I do know for a fact, that, despite the acerbic image he projected, Mr. Ellison was was actually a quite decent and charitable person. 

Ellison was also a stalwart and uncompromising defender of the first amendment. Unlike many who profess such a view, he always held fast to that principle whether freedom of speech was in fashion or not, even during times it was considered quite...gauche.

Indeed you did sir. 

Ellison's is a void that will not soon be filled.

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June 27, 2018

Oh Wow...

I'm sure this will calm everyone down and usher in a period of civil and reasoned discourse.

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June 18, 2018

Consumer Horror Story

My folks are in town for a few days. My dad has hauled their sailboat for maintenance in anticipation of sailing it to N.C. and berthing it near their home. I stopped by today to see if he needed any help.

 He was talking to a man who was admiring the boat's bow thruster and asked Dad who he'd gotten to install it. Well, Dad did, but said he couldn't offer any insights as he knew little specific about bow thrusters and installing it had involved much panic, worry and repeated measurements and yet more measurements, both external and internal as we were very paranoid about cutting through something vital. He noted that the actual process, once the tunnel was cut was fairly straightforward, with me holding the motor in place and passing him the wires from the outside while he connected everything after which we were able to seal the small through-hull. 

The fellow Dad was talking to pointed to his boat and noted with some remorse that he'd had his bow thruster installed at a nearby shipyard and the job had really not been satisfactory. When asked if it was an electrical problem the gentleman said "No. They put it in the wrong spot." I winced when hearing this as 'wrong spot' sounded like they'd cut through a major structural/load bearing member, which would likely mean the boat was ruined. 

Fortunately, for the structural integrity of his boat, that was not the case.
It was, however, arguably worse. 

"It's not below the waterline."

This poor fellow has a bow thruster, running through his bow...above the water-line. You know...the water line, that line around the boat that the hull is painted in jarringly different colors on either side of. Below which there is water and propellors will work, above which  any propulsion on a boat is generated by sails or airscrews.


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This Week's Code Word is Janissary

Not pictured: the actual, honest to God tear running down my cheek...from watching a fricking superhero cartoon.

The current crop of anime has largely been a vast, insipid wasteland. However,  My Hero Academia is really making up for that. 

My only complaint is that they cannot possibly keep this up.

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June 13, 2018

Mea Culpa

I pulled into the driveway last night and belatedly realized it was Tuesday....and after 7pm. This was the first primary I've missed in well over a decade, and it was a consequential one.

To make matters worse my guy lost and the sub-optimal choice won. 

I've failed at civics and possibly doomed us all. 

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June 12, 2018

Wait: What?

So I went to our effervescent and wise hosts dev-blog, which became a tech news aggregator in my absence and noted this story, which, in turn, contained this peculiar sequence of letters.

The objective of the net neutrality rules has been primarily to stop discrimination from internet service providers (ISPs) against both large and small websites based on the type of content they serve. This is how the term "net neutrality” was coined --


If that was the raison d'être then I guess that whole net neutrality thing didn't do any  good anyway

So what's the problem?

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The Opposite of Productivity

Due to poor planning, I'm on vacation this week. I initially was going to the mountains for a few days, but my plans got thwarted by an epic traffic jam. After some hours I got to an exit, did the cloverleaf and headed in the opposite direction. Because my itinerary was rather vague and no reservations were involved, I decided instead to go visit my parents in North Carolina. This is a slightly longer drive, but, I've been meaning to get down there and, in any event, it held the possibility of less austere bivouac options if I played my cards right.

It was a pleasant enough stay, my parents seem to be doing much better, but they no longer have a computer and the travel charger for my phone died, so I don't have pictures of the triggerfish, or the hummingbirds or all the other wildlife.

I did get the van stuck in their driveway. (There was MUCH rain).

I'm back now, getting caught up, and am noting that the U.S.A./D.P.R.K summit did come to pass, but did not involve a cage match, no one was hit with a chair and Arn Anderson and Rick Flair were nowhere to be seen. However, Dennis Rodman was and he was brought to tears. 

It appears that the world is still crazy. That's not entirely a bad thing. 

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June 05, 2018


In Fallout 4 you start out in this '50's futuristic" suburban home. Depending on how you play the game it may remain your base of operations when you start your myriad adventures .  

Not warrantied against nuclear blast. 

Interestingly, the whole neighborhood of Sanctuary Hills is based on a line of prefab housing from the late 1940s, that was really advanced in a lot of ways. The Lustrons were intended to provide affordable but pleasant houses using mass production techniques. this, in and of itself wasn't terribly new (Sears and others had offered mail order houses since the late 1890s) however the founders of Lustron had big plans. They not only wanted to provide affordable housing for the returning G.I.'s but they were anticipating the explosion of the suburbs which had been predicted (and was trending on a small scale) right before the war. 

To that end they acquired a decommissioned wartime aircraft factory as part of a government grant, and started making houses out of STEEL! These were not merely steel framed, they were all steel. The idea was to mass produce these things, ship them out as kits on flatbeds and assemble them.

Their exteriors were enameled with porcelain of various colors and their interior walls were similar, albeit with more neutral colors and thinner enameling. One amusing feature was that there was a considerable amount of integral shelving and fixtures. 

This did maximize internal space in a series of little homes that ranged between 713 and 1,140square feet.

The Lustrons came in 4 different models each with 2 or 3 bedroom options and later, a stand-alone garage was offered. 

The initial run involved a steep learning curve. The first series had radiant ceiling tile heating which, due to physics and the asphalt flooring was..."teh suk"*. The dishwasher was an amazingly advanced and innovative combined dishwasher/clotheswasher/dryer. While this was a brilliant piece of engineering technology, why anybody thought this was a good idea is...unclear.  

The company couldn't buy enough flatbed trucks to deliver all the orders the company was inundated with and each house required 3000 houseparts which meant a lot more highly paid technicians than was initially conceived. Also, while Lustron was flush with orders, the slow production of the first series of homes could not reach the break even limit for the company.

The second series addressed most of the problems with a much more modular arrangement that allowed for more floor-plans, a single type of window module that could be put together in 216 different ways and a reduction in the number of parts shipped from 3000+ to an average of 37. Also, they moved the heating system's forced air circulation into the FLOOR.

This was the dream of cheap and affordable housing for everyone, given form. Alas, only one of the second series was built. The company ran into a perfect storm of problems that included the company they were buying their trucks from not delivering them, which caused their waiting list to become huge, this in turn was the pretense for a congressional investigation. Lustron had not made any money in its first two years, but it had made some enemies. The company had built around 2600 of the houses in two years despite technical hurdles and a 3000 piece parts list. This was remarkable, remarkable enough that various local unions and contractors around the country were contacting their congresscritters to look into this company that promised to disrupt everything. This seems to be reminiscent of the Tucker fiasco that happened around the same time. 

Lustron was having problems to be sure, but the congressional investigation seems to have killed the companies ability to maintain its line of credit and it went bankrupt in 1950. 

 2600+ homes built in two years, from one factory is impressive, but what's more impressive is that of the nearly 2000 that remain most are in remarkably good shape.

 The enameled exteriors have held up surprisingly well and require, not annual painting but periodic application of car wax. The roofs have tended to remain watertight and the only complaint aside from the central heat has been rust in the bathroom, which can be fixed via re-tiling.  

The design thus has proven to be astoundingly durable and low maintenance. They are inherently fire and termite proof to boot. 

Sadly, not tornado proof though.

The house of tomorrow turned out to be the house of 2 years in the late '40s, but it would be a kick ass house of today. Sadly, we now have zoning boards and homeowners associations on the alert to ensure that no one brings cheap housing into their cities. Such is progress...

There's a video here of contractors disassembling one and moving it.

*Note that replacing the gas heater with an air conditioner gives really kick ass central air. 

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And Indeed It Does Appear That The Linky Thing is Fixed!

Thanks Pixy!

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June 03, 2018

Applying Contemporary Standards of Critical Thinking to Understand This Blog's Recent Outage

So the blog's been down. An explanation is in order. 

However, as we are not IT professionals, and are not privy to specifics regarding coding and hardware factors, we must look for the causes of this tragedy via open source media. With that in mind, we note a recent breakthrough in physics which was reported concurrently with the site outage and, using contemporary standards of critical thinking, this discovery must correlate to the problem at hand.

A recent physics experiment produced strong evidence of sterile neutrinos. According to the linked article, sterile neutrinos are not predicted to exist by the standard model of physics. 

Other things not supported by the standard model of physics include, but are not limited to: The EM Drive, stealth in space, sorcery, practical giant robots, Bigfoot, Niberu, Pelucidar, Mothman, ghosts, telekinesis, healing energy, vampires (sparkly), alchemy, Blemmyians, Astrology, teleportation, mediumship, warp drive, gravity generators, shrink rays, and flat earth cosmology.

Using contemporary standards of critical thinking, one must take a second look at all of those things and, lo and behold, the last one proves to be directly applicable to our problem. You see our webmaster is an Australian and the flat earthers have just concluded that Australia is, and always has been an elaborate hoax perpetrated by the British to cover up the democide of all their debtors. 

And so, contemporary standards of critical thinking lead us to the inevitable conclusion that our webmaster doesn't exist. Note that when we check our work it becomes clear that the non existence of our IT team DOES explain how technical difficulties could occur!

"Or...we could use actual critical thinking and just check the dev-blog."

There's no time for that! We've got important things to find out.
...like exactly where it is that kangaroos REALLY come from.

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June 01, 2018

I'm Guessing Neil Will be Looking for a Job Soon

Someone named Neil Irwin wrote an article on the economy today. Despite his working for the NYT and Trump being in the White House, his article begins thusly.

The real question in analyzing the May jobs numbers released Friday is whether there are enough synonyms for "good” in an online thesaurus to describe them adequately.

Over the course of the article's 18 synonyms for "good" we learn the proper use of, amongst other things, "congruous" all of which, given the context of the article are doubtlessly violations of the Old Grey Lady's style guide. 

I hope the fellow lands on his feet.

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