Wednesday, 10 February 2016

11:06 – Last night, I read the first 400 pages or so of Walter Jon Williams’ The Rift, a 950 page doorstop of a book about a catastrophic earthquake on the New Madrid seismic zone. Most readers would have given up on this book long before anything happened in the narrative. I kept going, hoping it would all come together, but it never did. And 400 pages is about all the time I was willing to give it. Williams writes competent English sentences and paragraphs, but that’s about the best I can say for this book. A novelist should be, first and foremost, a storyteller but there’s not much story here. Just endless details about the travails of people that few readers would care about. The Amazon ratings tell the tale. Only 71% of reviewers gave this book 4 or 5 stars, and 16% gave it only 1 or 2 stars. That’s a pretty good sign of a bad book.

More work today on organizing the downstairs finished area. Barbara is heading down to Winston tomorrow to have lunch with a friend, so Colin and I will be on our own most of the day.


40 thoughts on “Wednesday, 10 February 2016”

  1. The RINO media personality Fred Barnes:

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/article/2001015/

    I see they revised their numbers from last night and now have the carny barker WAY in front of the other RINOs.

    But as folks here said in yesterday’s entries, NH and Iowa are small, mostly rural, mostly white states. SC is a little more diverse so we’ll see how this circus plays down there next. And remember that at any point, the Party hierarchy can find a way to dump either Trump or Cankles and put all their money and effort behind Sanders and Cruz or Rubio. You know, make it look realistic for the rubes. But it seems like they plan to keep Cankles running, regardless, which is interesting; it basically tells us straight up that there is one set of rules for them and another for us. Between her email issues and the Benghazi stuff ALONE, she by rights should be in an orange jumpsuit already and doing 30 years at a Fed joint. We certainly would be.

  2. @RBT, it’s a good thing gas prices are so low with all those trips back to the old stomping grounds.

    I can foresee an unholy backroom alliance occurring between the republicans and democrats. The parties are in an absolute turmoil. The huddled masses are not so huddled anymore and they must be dealt with. The inmates are mad and they aren’t going to take it anymore.

    “May you live in interesting times.”*

    *Citation: The phrase was introduced in the 20th century in the form ‘interesting age’ rather than ‘interesting times’ and appears that way in the opening remarks made by Frederic R. Coudert at the Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science, 1939.

  3. “I can foresee an unholy backroom alliance occurring between the republicans and democrats. The parties are in an absolute turmoil. The huddled masses are not so huddled anymore and they must be dealt with.”

    What do ya wanna bet that they’ll gin up some kinda distraction very soon? “Oh look: a squirrel!” And while we’re all looking at that cute li’l bugger they’ll pull a fast one in the proverbial back room. Just the change from the exact same percentages last night with the RINOs to having Trump WAY in the lead today could be a sign; maybe they’re figuring ‘hey, we got no choice; let’s push this guy now and once he’s in we can control him anyway…’ Keep the masses happy, except for the Progs and SJWs, of course. Hmmm….gotta throw them a bone….give ’em some wet libturd VP running mate, maybe…or gin up control of the House or Senate again…

  4. ” “May you live in interesting times.”*
    *Citation: The phrase was introduced in the 20th century in the form ‘interesting age’ rather than ‘interesting times’ and appears that way in the opening remarks made by Frederic R. Coudert at the Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science, 1939.”

    Being 1939, that would have been F.R. Coudert the younger. F.R. Coudert the senior founded the eponymous law firm, which was prestigious, powerful, impressive and influential, while it lasted.

  5. “Russia Dials Up the Crazy, Wants to “Ban” Windows”
    https://www.petri.com/russia-dials-crazy-wants-ban-windows

    “Microsoft, like other U.S. tech firms, “reached the point of no return” when it complied with sanctions related to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. And in “halting all business with the peninsula,” he said, it is now “inevitable” that Russia will switch from Windows “to an open-source system based on Linux, a move 22,000 municipal governments are prepared to make immediately.””

    ““It’s like a wife seeing her husband with another woman,” Klimenko said. He can swear an oath afterward, but the trust is lost.””

  6. Sha-zammm! I wanna go over and hep ’em out; I’ll take Princess wid me as she is fluent in Russian and German. Yowza!

  7. It’s not a very good article. Making fun of their expressions? When translated? Most of the world does not speak American English…

  8. I’ll skip the caviar and hookers and their endless supply of vodka. Gimme the gold!

    Also mineral and precious metal rights in perpetuity.

    And I’ll need a fast chopper or jet to swan me around to the various sites, along with a crack team of Spetznatz security.

    My big priority, however, will be to forgo payment in lieu of an accounting for, and repatriation of any American or Allied POWs still alive in the country.

  9. “The USA is just a series of fiefdoms, isn’t it?”

    BINGO!

    One of our Texas correspondents hits the jackpot and wins the innernet today!

    Watch for this tendency to exhibit itself more and more as Leviathan continues to splinter. We already see capos running the various ethnic and racial gangs; eventually we’ll have various regional fiefdoms, too, like already exist in the various ‘hoods.

    Oh boy oh boy oh boy; my medieval studies grad skool is gonna pay off bigtime!

    Go feudalism!

  10. Last night, I read the first 400 pages or so of Walter Jon Williams’ The Rift, a 950 page doorstop of a book about a catastrophic earthquake on the New Madrid seismic zone. Most readers would have given up on this book long before anything happened in the narrative. I kept going, hoping it would all come together, but it never did. And 400 pages is about all the time I was willing to give it. Williams writes competent English sentences and paragraphs, but that’s about the best I can say for this book. A novelist should be, first and foremost, a storyteller but there’s not much story here. Just endless details about the travails of people that few readers would care about. The Amazon ratings tell the tale. Only 71% of reviewers gave this book 4 or 5 stars, and 16% gave it only 1 or 2 stars. That’s a pretty good sign of a bad book.

    I took “The Rift” all the way to the end and gave it three stars if I remember right. There were horrible racial atrocities in the book that made it even more difficult to get through.

  11. Chit, do I stay here and advise the new nobility?

    Or head off to Mother Russia and help them build RHEL clusters???

  12. My big priority, however, will be to forgo payment in lieu of an accounting for, and repatriation of any American or Allied POWs still alive in the country.

    Who says they want to come back? East Germans I knew who went to school in St. Petersburg would rather have stayed than return to Germany.

    Is sharpless really that influential in the hood?

    The word I hear is that he would have endorsed Bernie, but is prevented from doing so by his media contract.

    “The USA is just a series of fiefdoms, isn’t it?”

    I knew there was a reason the Chicago Machine was holding on.

    Chit, do I stay here and advise the new nobility?

    Or head off to Mother Russia and help them build RHEL clusters???

    Trump and Putin will be so chummy, you ought to be able to do both.

  13. “Who says they want to come back?”

    Good question, I suppose; they may well have long since found new romantic interests and the niceties of remote Siberian village life to be to their liking. But it would nice to let them have the option, amirite? And also get the story of how they all ended up there, from WWII, Korea and SEA…

    “…the Chicago Machine was holding on.”

    I’ve been in contact with some Chicago residents since the late 90s, off and on; regular libtard Dem types who thought the Klintons and Obola were the cat’s whiskers. Since the Prophet Rahm Emmanuel has been in charge there, an Obola protege, they sing a very different tune. Still haven’t had enough sense knocked into them yet, though. Maybe when they go to sleep at night hearing constant gunfire down the block and there are hours-of-darkness curfews and martial law.

    “Trump and Putin will be so chummy, you ought to be able to do both.”

    And nearly zero air travel necessary, too, what with all our wunnerful technology and Skype and webcams and email and smartypants phones, etc. Beeyooteeful! Cell phone at one ear advising one of the new King Donald barons; Skype (no, make that Jitsi) on the laptop showing some local corporate Russian bigwigs how to set up RHEL clusters and OpenStack with Ansible. I wanna be paid in gold and silver on both ends, with top-secret offshore accounts worldwide.

  14. On a recent trip down to my alma mater for a video job there, I learned that Google Hangouts is what the young tech tigers are using for video calls and conferencing these days. More versatile than Skype and just as reliable. Plus, it will allow multiple connections so conferencing a number of people is a no-brainer; moreover, it will broadcast a live stream of a meeting or presentation and archive it to YouTube; and none of that costs a thing, unlike what the expensive services that provide such conferences charge ($2,500 to $5,000). Periscope was what they were using prior to Hangouts for multiple people plugging into one originator, but Periscope does not allow feedback; Hangouts lets anyone connected talk and ask questions across the group. However, the drill most use, is to allow tweets of questions, which a group moderator then reads for a reply. When I think back to the first Philips color cameras that were BIG and over 100 pounds (took 2 people to get them on and off a camera pedestal), and my Kodak Zi8 weighs less than the original iPod and is the same size as my Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge and produces a 16:9 picture that is far sharper than the Philips camera—well, we do live in interesting times.

    I got that stomach bug from the prepared Dole salad bags that were tainted a couple weeks ago, and it laid me pretty low, keeping me no more than 30 feet from the bathroom. After 4 days of that in bed, I finally had outside commitments that forced me back to work. Just now really feeling normal. Wouldn’t you know that there was a doctor’s visit in there, and my blood pressure was sky high. I knew it was, from the way I was feeling. Fortunately, she chalked it up as an exception, because I have been through too many drugs trying to find a combo with tolerable side-effects, and the current combination is the best. My worthless blood pressure monitor at home is far off from the doctor’s office, but now indicates that I am back to normal again if I factor in the offset between my machine and the doc’s.

    Rest has not been something I got during this episode, but this week is unusually quiet, so I am using it to catch up.

    Work on the radio automation software continues. It is a steep curve making all the ‘modules’ of that thing work. Got the voice-tracking working last month. That is when a radio station—instead of having live announcers—records the announcer transitions between songs as separate audio files (often from far away cities) in a way that makes it sound like the announcer is live. I voice-tracked 4 hours a few weeks ago, and it works like a champ. It is still only slightly less time-consuming than being live in the studio; it took me about 2 minutes to do each transition, so with the 16 songs per hour that we average, it took a good 30 minutes to voice-track each hour’s worth of programming. As an all-volunteer station, we will probably use it, because there just are not enough people available to staff the time slots we would like to have an announcing presence on. So it is time-shifting the work.

    Spent a lot of time trying to get that software to generate the dozens of reports it is capable of. Although I did not ask for help on their IRC channel, somebody else did, and surprise! I found out xterm has to be installed and running. It was not on my Mint 17 install (I swear xterm was on the Mint 15 installation I previously used). Anyway, reports now work, and many of them open directly in vi, ready for editing and manipulation. I used to know vi back in the days of Unix and serial terminals, but I have forgotten everything. Guess that is what decades of Microsoft will do to you.

    Still have a ton of music left to import, and then usually a good couple hundred songs are unidentified for each artist letter of the alphabet, and I have to use Shazam to identify and tag them. Slow process as I can only stand to Shazam about 20 songs a day before it drives me crazy.

    Meanwhile, the original 30,000 tracks are being played randomly, and as I hear problems, I either pull them from the active list, or fix them on-the-spot if the fix is easy. I pull rap and metal out, and send stuff with problems like missing content or endings chopped off, into a pile to deal with later. There are hundreds of those, and I am always finding more. We got these tracks as a donation from one of the large radio chains, and it is a conservative family operation, which I never imagined would play heavy metal music. But there are hundreds of heavy metal tracks in the collection, and I am always pulling out more. After a year, you would think I would finally get them all. I am shooting for July as the point of being ready to implement this automation system on-air. Hopefully, I can finish importing all the music by then.

    Just a ground covering of snow here—much like living in Berlin,—but much colder. Average temps should be 37/24 F and getting warmer, but we are going to be below freezing until well into next week.

  15. We popped up and hit 70 F today here in the Land of Sugar. Going to be heading to 80 F for the next few days before we get some rain.

  16. Here’s an interesting story. Fashion designer Carlos Campos, born in Honduras to a family of tailors, at 13 years old, walked out of his parent’s house one day and literally walked to New York. Took him 9 months. Because he was a kid, they could not deport him or hold him, although he was only stopped once in Arlington, TX.

    Al Jazeera has the story.

    http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2016/2/9/honduran-immigrant-runway-fashion.html

    Al Jaz closed down their US operation. I could have told them that buying Al Gore’s defunct cable network was the wrong move. They had some of the smartest people in journalism working for them.

    BTW, my friends who have television, are one-by-one, dropping cable and switching to Roku and Netflix streaming. Only the sports addicts with the premium sports packages are holdouts.

    I may actually get a big screen and Roku. Been totally without TV since we moved to Berlin in 2001.

  17. “I got that stomach bug from the prepared Dole salad bags that were tainted a couple weeks ago…”

    Are you suing?

  18. Flint water crisis makes its way into 2016 presidential campaign
    http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2016/2/10/presidential-candidates-on-flint-water-crisis.html

    And why is this a federal problem?

    “A bill supported by Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., would call for some $765 million to help those affected by the tainted water and help the Flint deal with the public health threat.”

    I could repipe Fort Bend County for this amount (700,000 people). Sounds like there is a lot of graft at $7,650 per person for this city of 100,000 people.

    Oh wait, half of Fort Bend County is on private water wells. Can I get umpteen million dollars from the feddies for the new water well that I had to drill two years ago? I had to spend $9,800 OUT OF MY OWN POCKET!

  19. “I learned that Google Hangouts is what the young tech tigers are using for video calls and conferencing these days.”

    And with files of various sizes saved to Google Drive rather than DropBox, including corporate stuff.

    “…I am back to normal again if I factor in the offset between my machine and the doc’s.”

    Good to hear; stay well, don’t kill yerself working yerself to death out there. I’ve yet to get sick from any of them salad bags but I guess there’s always a first time; we generally get the raw lettuces or whatever and wash ’em up real good here anyway.

    “Guess that is what decades of Microsoft will do to you.”

    Exactly; it’s poison. For vim, there’s an excellent little pocket ref from O’Reilly that I use all the time and also some pretty slick “cheat sheets” online, ditto for bash.

    We got us a good heavy snowfall for about three or four hours this afternoon, well beyond the half-inch the weather liars predicted. It was coming down so fast that visibility out my office window here was almost nil, a veritable white-out. Oh whoops, there I go mentioning a forbidden word/phrase that might trigger some college kidz somewhere and send them fleeing to a safe space.

    “Only the sports addicts with the premium sports packages are holdouts.”

    Ouch. Guilty as charged, but we don’t have a premium package, just the standard Comcast 300 channels we never watch except for whichever two or three are broadcasting games during the NFL season. I may wean myself off this someday. And otherwise I watch stuff on the computer or we run, like all those other peeps, Netflix and Roku stuff, with the latter sometimes streaming things from the Windows computer upstairs.

    We also went a real long time with no tee-vee at all; only have it now as a bundled package with the landline and innernet.

  20. And with files of various sizes saved to Google Drive rather than DropBox, including corporate stuff.

    Nobody seems to be worried about that in this country. I noted in a bit I wrote that Pournelle used when he was still in print in Japan and I was still in Berlin, that IT at The Chemical Company almost took a decree from Angela Merkel to get into the inner sanctum (I had to be accompanied by an IT worker, and the 2 of us stood at the portal, while somebody on the inside looked through a peephole to identify us, like at Smokey Joe’s). Nothing of theirs on the cloud, that is for sure.

  21. Except that our gummint was tapping Merkel’s phone a while back…

    …too bad they didn’t get word of what a commie hack she was back in the day and her plans for the invasion of Europe by hordes that were stopped repeatedly centuries before…

  22. And with files of various sizes saved to Google Drive rather than DropBox, including corporate stuff.

    Nobody seems to be worried about that in this country. I noted in a bit I wrote that Pournelle used when he was still in print in Japan and I was still in Berlin, that IT at The Chemical Company almost took a decree from Angela Merkel to get into the inner sanctum (I had to be accompanied by an IT worker, and the 2 of us stood at the portal, while somebody on the inside looked through a peephole to identify us, like at Smokey Joe’s). Nothing of theirs on the cloud, that is for sure.

    With Stuxnet, most of the refineries and natural gas plants are installing blocking edge routers and cell phone blockers. They are telling all contractors that there will be no internet access inside their fence lines.

  23. And why is this a federal problem?

    For the second time.

    When the worldwide water cleanup happened in the ’80’s, why was Flint not cleaned up? Where did the money go that was supposed to fix that for them back then?

  24. The DoJ is suing the city of Ferguson over the city not cleaning up the police department. What chance does a small city have against the feds? How many trials all the way to the Supremes can Ferguson fund? Maybe that’s the new Obola strategy to kill of WHITEY! Just sue every city they don’t like and draw the money from all of our taxes.

  25. When the worldwide water cleanup happened in the ’80’s, why was Flint not cleaned up? Where did the money go that was supposed to fix that for them back then?

    We cannot do this on a federal level. This is a local problem and should be dealt with locally. If they cannot afford to repipe the city then they need to install a common water pipe to the city center and tell everyone to bring their buckets until they can afford to repipe the city lines to the homes. I highly doubt that very many of these people are working anyway so they should have plenty of time on their hands.

    And, I suspect that the houses themselves need to be repiped. What a freaking disaster! But, this is not a federal disaster.

  26. One racket after another in this collection of fiefdoms and satraps.

    Meanwhile the Feebies have rolled out on the remaining handful (four) of holdouts out at that wildlife refuge in Oregon; one wonders how many will survive THIS caper.

    A bad scene all the way round, from Day One out there.

  27. When the worldwide water cleanup happened in the ’80’s, why was Flint not cleaned up? Where did the money go that was supposed to fix that for them back then?

    Flint had perfectly clean water up until last year. They bought water from the city of Detroit system. Then Flint went into receivership and decided to get water from another source, which would take 2 years. Detroit exercised their option to terminate service to Flint with one year’s notice. So, as a stopgap, Flint started using river water, which reacted with the lead in the pipes in the system and contaminated it. It is my understanding that the lead levels are higher than allowed, but not enough to have poisoned anyone. There appear to have been warnings at every level of government involved that were ignored.

  28. We cannot do this on a federal level.

    Too late. They already made it a federal responsibility way back on October 18, 1972. And that was just the start; there were amendments in ’77 and ’87 to insure drinking water purity.

    On my way down to my alma mater’s educational paradise, they are building a new Interstate (that was supposed to be completed back in the ’70’s, but they are just now getting around to it). Off to the side of the road in a dozen places are areas have been marked off with wire, and signs driven into the ground saying “Federal land and water preservation area”.

    Water is a federal issue, not under state control, as ranchers and states out west above Lost Angeles have found out.

  29. Walter Jon Williams has written a couple of really good books. His Drake Majistral series books, starting with The Crown Jewels are very good and very funny.

  30. Russia isn’t dialing up the crazy at all: Lots of techies have zero trust in Microsoft. There have been too many signs that MS is in the government’s pocket, plus they want all your data for their own use. Personally, I keep all of my personal stuff under Linux; I don’t even have the necessary encryption software installed under Windows.

    Speaking of trusting the US government: Despite handing in our passports three years ago, our ex-bank still wants to report our financial data (what they have, anyway) to the US government. To get off the list, they want us to fill out an official US government form. I’m sure this makes sense to someone, somewhere.

    I’m glad to see Bernie and Trump win so big in NH – what a beautiful rejection of the major parties! If they can continue the roll, the parties will have two choices: “embrace and extend”, i.e., accept Bernie/Trump as their own and try to control them – or game the system, rig the primaries as has been done in the past. Anyone taking bets?

  31. Sucker’s bet.

    Re: video w/ Google Hangouts. I’ve been looking for a “good” solution for a long time. My budget is $0, and why haven’t I found anything as good as we see on TV. With our infrastructure & VPN requirements, it’s tough to get data AND a video stream over a 3×1 mbit connection. I’ll have to revisit Hangouts. Corporate accounts are a pain to use, but it’s worth a try.

  32. Google does demand about as much as M$ in the way of using your data. I just signed into the web interface for G+ and went through about 6 “I Agree” clicks before getting access to my account.

    There was an option “if you don’t agree” and just for yucks I clicked it. The choices were: 1) remove all your data from the account; 2) don’t put any data into the account; 3) close the account. In other words, ‘we win on every score’. Far cry from the days when I was a kid and you could modify any contract with your own terms before signing. Once I clicked there, no option existed to get back to the agreement.

    As my lawyer dad said while he was still alive—we have just enough crazy judges these days that they are actually upholding clearly unconscionable contracts.

  33. “…and try to control them – or game the system, rig the primaries as has been done in the past. Anyone taking bets?”

    I think they’ll first try to game the system, possibly WRT the delegates and super-delegates, and if that doesn’t suffice, they’ll “throw in the towel” and let them be nominated with the expectation that once in office they can be “controlled.” Which is probably very true.

    Google, FaceCrack, Twitter, etc. are all major security and privacy holes and will sell you out in a hahtbeat to the State. I’d say if a person and/or their family just can’t or won’t get off them, then at least run the machines behind a VPN and/or something like CryptoHippie and encrypt personal and financial data you don’t want them to have.

  34. If they can continue the roll, the parties will have two choices: “embrace and extend”, i.e., accept Bernie/Trump as their own and try to control them – or game the system, rig the primaries as has been done in the past. Anyone taking bets?

    As I remember it, the phrase was “embrace, extend, extinguish,” the last option leaving the door open for all sorts of … possibilities. Bernie’s used up his three score and ten, Trump’s got only a few months left on his; at their time of life, “accidents” do happen, not to mention normal wear and tear.

  35. I’d have to say, though, that Cankles is in fah worse health than either Sanders or Trump; she’s a fugly wreck of a semi-human being. I predict haht attack and/or stroke before too long. Taking bets on who goes first, her or Christie. Or Michael Moore; any of the three would be an improvement for the planet.

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