Sep 30


I can’t agree with this.135a

Sparring and fighting are fun. As long as both parties are involved in it consensually and it’s regulated, I don’t see the problem.

The difference of course is that animals can’t consent; humans can.

But this is just stupid.

The only way to get good at self defense is to spar – which is a form of fighting. Not no-holds-barred, knock out type of fighting, but fighting nonetheless. The closer to real fighting without injuring one another the better, too.

Therefore her position is self-contradictory.

I’m no fan of violence for its own sake. But I believe that humans contain a core of violence in their very genes. I don’t believe in the liberal conception that everything is due to social conditioning only.

Fighting and watching people fight most likely has the effect of reducing violence and propensity to violence in non-ritual scenarios.

It’s also the most grueling form of exercise I’ve ever participated in. Never have I been so bone tired as when sparring and fighting.

It’s great to believe in a world where violence – especially for women – isn’t a real possibility.

However, we do not live in that world.

Sep 30


The conventional wisdom promulgated successfully now by Windows 8 defenders is that Windows XP was a terrible OS for the first two years after its release and was widely hated.

Nice bit of historical revisionism, but I was there. Windows XP was very much appreciated and many people looked forward to it and were not disappointed. After the vast failure of Windows ME, the stability and ease of use of XP was a major relief.

Being the first consumer release of the NT kernel to the masses, XP brought a lot of changes, nearly all of them good.

People didn’t care much for the Fisher Price interface, but unlike Windows 8’s Metro interface, it was easy to change.

Interesting how things become common knowledge that are utterly, utterly false. It happens in politics, too, but rarely do I get to see it so close up.

Sep 30

True Identity

Though I think identity politics has achieved many good and even some great things, samnewcompared to the alternative of making structural systemic changes I think it is a failure. And this I don’t believe is a false dichotomy, either.

Of course the Right does not support identity politics, not per se, but far prefers it to the alternative, which in a short time would eliminate them nearly completely as a social movement and diminish them greatly as a political one.

Which is to say that in the cabals and cliques of the Right Wing, identity politics and the adherents thereof are seen as a benign and tractable opponent, whereas mass movements like union organization and a more-effective Occupy are viewed as extremely dangerous and to be avoided at all costs.

So by “allowing” and lightly parrying and sometimes even encouraging identity politics, the Right avoids what it sees as a greater evil – that of mass revolts, true labor organization and their (in that scenario) unavoidable political defeat.

APObeautifulchaos1TequillaSunriseIdentity politics serves – not by design, but inherent in the nature of its discourse – to divide what should be naturally-aligned groups, just as slave-owners and aristocratic whites during the Jim Crow era managed to align socially and economically poor whites with rich whites rather than poor whites with poor blacks, who by rights and lack thereof should have been natural allies.

I don’t begrudge the actual achievements of identity politics. But I do think it’s time to build on those and then to integrate coalitions. This creation of a true mass movement is more likely by far to change the world as compared to the current practice of estranging and alienating all but a tiny coterie with call-out culture and the busy and overbearing policing of other’s identities which serve only to prove your own credibility and authenticity.

Sep 29

On a phone

The problem with this is what can you actually DO on a phone?169918-grg-broken-iPhone-sadface

I’ll tell you what’s going on here. I’ve been in the business and the IT world (and have worked on both sides of the fence) for a while, so it’s pretty obvious.

This guy owns a company that attempts to create and market native phone/mobile apps to businesses. But by “businesses” of course this means executives because they are the ones who make the decisions.

Most regular workers have absolutely no use for the the types of mobile apps that would interest executives and never will – can’t get any real work done on a phone.

But executives though they look busy don’t actually do work as most people think of it. Trust me, I have been one so I know very well that this is true.

Executives care about looking (mostly glancing) at other people’s work, keeping track of schedules and appointments, reviewing Powerpoints and other presentations, and perhaps glancing at a PDF. And oh yeah, being on endless conference calls. All of these things can be done on a phone. Some poorly, but they can be done.

If I’d just had an executive title only I could’ve done my entire job on a phone. So could most other execs.

2514090-3x2-940x627But regular workers just can’t.  That doesn’t matter, though, because in a company it’s the execs who make the decisions. The writer of this article – and who knows why the hell it got published in Wired – only has to convince executives that there is a new paradigm, that everyone can use phones to get all their work done, that PCs and the evil IT* department can be banished forevermore!

Of course it’s not true but the writer of the article doesn’t have to care about true. He just has to care about making the sale for his company.

So that is what’s really going on there. Why some self-interested marketing tripe like that got published in Wired, I’ll never know.

*Though IT departments can be restrictive and small-minded, most people have just no idea how much most IT departments prevent absolutely fucking harebrained schemes cooked up (in a meth lab, apparently) by MBA executives from being inflicted on the company. Just no idea.

Sep 29

Fundamentally stupid

I’ve seen several people in the past arguing that the media company’s responses to online piracy – suing their best customers and making content harder to access –is rational.Freemedia160

Another of those strange definitions of rationality.

This article isn’t one of those types luckily, but it does go too much for the typical journalism “fair and balanced” sophistry.

“It is difficult to compete with free,” he added.

No, it’s actually really really easy to compete with free.

Offer a service with no DRM, no monitoring, and not tied to a single device with – most importantly – all the content there is and people will sign up for it in droves. In absolute fucking droves.

And pay for it. Hell, I’d pay quite a lot for that. Probably $100 a month if it included music, movies and TV shows. I’d rather pay less, but there you go.

Someone in the article to which I linked though really gets at what drives piracy.

There is another obstacle to stopping illegal downloads, said Andre Swanston, the chief executive of Tru Optik, the media analytics firm. People want access to everything, anytime, and there is little to stop them from having it. “Even if you added Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, Sony Crackle and everything else combined, that is still less content available legally than illegally,” he said. “The popularity of piracy has nothing to do with cost — it is all about access.”

censurachina-e1320181202666Hard to buy something if ain’t nobody selling it! If you pirate something, you can almost always find it. And it’s more convenient and just works. Quite the opposite when you look for something “legal.” Then it’s a nightmare of DRM, streaming woes and unavailability.

It’s as I said actually really easy to compete with free. Just these companies don’t want to do it.

What’s puzzling is that they could make money hand over fist, far more than they make now, just by making a few rational decisions (not the “rational” ones where they sue their own customers). But they choose not to. Why? I understand the profit motive. But I don’t understand this.

Sep 29

New Google Maps

I’m going to mourn when I must use the new Google Maps, when they finally  disallow using the old interface.

I’ll probably still use the new version, though I’ll try to use Bing Maps and others when I don’t need Streetview data.

The new GM interface is just so terrible and user-hostile. Of course, it’s not for me – it’s to make life easier for advertisers and therefore more profitable for Google.

Google is now so dominant they can do whatever they want, so they will.

Sep 29


Calling copyright infringement stealing is like calling killing a video game character “capital murder.”

Propaganda works, folks.

Sep 29

It’s boring sometimes

If I didn’t love a lot of the work that comes with IT, there’s no way I could do it.wonder-woman

Let’s face it, reviewing the procedure that EIGRP uses for “deciding” how to route traffic in a network is pretty boring. As is a lot of the rest of IT.

I’m renewing some of my old and expired certs and that’s just part of the process. Has to be done.

But it’s cool building new things when you get the chance to. Not many people realize it but  when you build a new network and server architecture and all the associated other bits of infrastructure to go with it, if it’s more complicated than just a few devices you’re often creating something that no one has ever built before in just that way.

It might not be glamorous and if it works well no one even notices, but what you’ve built is most likely unique in the world.

That’s the less egotistic part.

The other part I enjoy is having seen enough and learned enough to stroll into some place where smart people have been working on a problem for hours or days and then I fix it in five minutes.

Having a really good memory and knowing enough to actually realize where the problem is (and being great at ignoring irrelevant details) allows me to do that bit of conjury at better than the rate of chance. And I like it when it happens, I’m not gonna lie.

Everyone should get to feel like a superhero once in a while, right?

Sep 28


This is an excellent piece of journalism. There was a similar article a few years ago that I can’t now find, but this one is better.airplane

It’s about the doomed Air France Flight 447 and the tragic errors made by all its pilots, and about the risks of automation.

I’m not a pilot and I don’t think I could have done any better. I’ve only handled a plane in level flight and with someone watching my every move as I lightly banked left and right.

But you have to wonder what those guys were thinking. I’m as I noted not a pilot and therefore I only know two real things about flying. One is that if you don’t use your instruments in the clouds and at night, you are probably going to die as humans can’t really determine their orientation without external input (the horizon).

The other is that if you are not near the ground and are stalled, point the nose down.

It’s not clear to me even reading all the analysis why none of the three pilots ever thought to do that last bit, or at least why one of the senior pilots didn’t order it done and then enforce that command.

I don’t think most people realize it but we are already relying on computers, systems and robots too complex for anyone to understand. The article that I linked to really makes the benefits and the drawbacks – and there are plenty of both – clear.

Sep 27


Global warming and global climate change is real and it’s going to happen. We won’t do much to stop it. paint2

I doubt that alone will cause the extinction of humanity. No, if that were to happen in the near future it would probably have to be similar to how the dinosaurs (sans avians) went extinct – a combination of global calamity like an asteroid strike, climate change and contagion. Or this.

We could get that with a nuclear war in combination with climate change, which isn’t too unlikely, but let’s stick to climate change for the moment.

As noted, climate change will happen. Weather patterns will be altered; seas will rise; famines are inevitable.

But other than those for sea level rise, I wouldn’t put too much faith in regional-level models for climate change effects. Those look pretty iffy and contingent to me, especially since never in paint1the history of the planet has carbon dioxide risen so quickly – that we have good records for, anyway.

Which actually makes it worse not better, by the way! It means we don’t know what the fuck is really going to happen, but there’s not a bit of a chance it’s going to be good.

The do-nothing crowd apparently also doesn’t believe in insurance or any other planning for the future, either. I know they are motivated by greed and are influenced by propaganda, but it’s so hard to understand how a group of people can be so resolutely idiotic.

Well, at least be consoled by the fact that most of the people reading this blog will be dead when things really get bad. It’s your children and their children who will be climate refugees, starving to death in Anchorage or St. Petersburg or Stockholm.