Dec 30


Most people hate fantasy. I understand this – I don’t like much of it myself.

I am not sure exactly why I don’t like much of it, but I think for most people it is because it serves to painfully highlight the shortcomings and failures of their own lives.

But as I read review after review trashing The Hobbit, I thought most of them were rather likely coming from a perspective of hating fantasy than any particular flaws in the movie per se.

Oh, I am quite sure The Hobbit is not nearly as good as the other Lord of the Rings movies. In my opinion the first hour-and-a-half of The Fellowship of the Ring is the finest bit of moviemaking ever committed to film, and is likely never to be exceeded.

So walking into the theater expecting that is therefore likely to result in disappointment.

The fact is, I’d much have preferred the original idea for the Lord of the Rings prequels, which were to diverge from The Hobbit and to follow Gandalf’s adventures during the years between the first defeat of Sauron and his resurgence. That would have been amazing.

But do read this review and this review which I suspect are more fair to The Hobbit than the others trashing it.

I’ll let you know when I see the film myself.

Dec 30


I only like maybe 1/10 of Tegan and Sara’s music (but what I do like, I like very much). However, it’s to their benefit that they often look like futuristic android Blade Runner women. I can roll with that.


Dec 29

Jaron Lanidiot

I’ve always thought Jaron Lanier was an irritating douchebag, and here he goes again demonstrating just why.

“I’d had a career as a professional musician and what I started to see is that once we made information free, it wasn’t that we consigned all the big stars to the bread lines.” (They still had mega-concert tour profits.)

“Instead, it was the middle-class people who were consigned to the bread lines. And that was a very large body of people. And all of a sudden there was this weekly ritual, sometimes even daily: ‘Oh, we need to organize a benefit because so and so who’d been a manager of this big studio that closed its doors has cancer and doesn’t have insurance. We need to raise money so he can have his operation.’

Does he not see the problem is worship of corporations and lack of things such as public health care, worker protection, and regulation of the power of corporate entities? Can he really be that dumb?

That’s not the only stupid thing he says in the article (in fact, everything he says is symptomatic of severe brain damage), but I do know if I were a budding band or musician I’d be doing everything possible to get my music on every file sharing service I could possibly find – as really the only thing valuable to a musician early on is exposure.

And the numbers I’ve seen bear this out, and firmly oppose what Lanier is stating.

I’ve always hated the guy, ever since I remember reading about him in the late 80s. He’s always been a putz, so I expect nothing less of him than this sort of thing.

Dec 28


I rail against Windows 8 and similar OSes frequently only because I often need to get real work done on my machine and an OS like that strongly prevents it.

It’s not that I don’t like change; I’ve been changing OSes and GUIs, as I’ve pointed out previously, before most people had any idea what an “OS” was.

Professional and expert users are probably around 2% of the computer market, but these are the people from which most of the work done on computers originates. And right now it seems that in the future there will be no OS for them to use at all.

For the things I do with my machine, a phone OS just doesn’t cut it. If I have to explain to you why that is so, it probably means you are using your computer mainly as a play toy.

That might seem harsh, but it’s a reality.

Sometimes I am remoted into – and actively working on – six user machines and 7-10 servers at the same time, doing related tasks where I need to see bits of 3-6 different screens at the same time, often while consulting technical documentation in yet another application.

Tell me again how I am supposed to that on a single-tasking, one-window phone interface?

Dec 28


A photo of a tiny spider I took in our bathroom with a 100mm Canon Macro (L glass, which stands for “Lawd, that shit expensive!”). The spider was 2-3mm across.

Dec 26

Both hands off your gat

Guns will never be banned in the US. It’s not going to happen.

But there is much that can be done. What sane people should be fighting for is something like this:

  • If you really think you do need a gun, yearly training is required – at least two full days of training. If you don’t receive training, the police show up and confiscate your guns.
  • Ammunition should be taxed – unless it is bought and shot on a range. Tax should be on the order of 8-10 times the actual purchase price.
  • A psychological evaluation is required every five years, from a board-certified, active psychiatrist.
  • All guns are registered – no “gun show loophole.” No private selling.
  • All guns are taxed – something like $200-500 a year, to discourage hoarding and collecting of arsenals. The only exception is historical collections (that is, gun collectors who collect not to fire), and all such guns must be demonstrated to be physically disabled by a registered firearm expert.
  • No concealed carry permits to anyone.
  • Anyone convicted of any violent crime of any type should have all gun rights revoked, permanently and without possibility of reconsideration.
  • Anyone even reported to the police and credibly accused of stalking or with a restraining order has all gun rights revoked for five years.
  • All gun owners should be required to carry a certain amount of liability insurance for their weapons, probably in the $200,000 range.
  • If your gun is stolen and you don’t report it, you are liable for all that occurs with it and receive all the penalties stemming from its use along with the thief.
  • All guns in private residences must be locked up separately from their ammunition, subject to actual physical inspections from time to time (say 0.05% of gun owners every year). In addition, both safes must be an approved model and be inspected every 10 years.
  • If it can be shown that any minor or some unauthorized person has or has had access to your weapons, then you are fined on first offense $10,000 and on second offense receive one month jail time. Penalties go up from there.
  • Magazine sizes strictly limited – no greater than seven in any type of weapon. Penalties are similar to the above.
  • No person can possess more than 25 rounds of any type of ammunition at any one time.
  • If you are found to be carrying a concealed weapon, it is confiscated and all guns rights are revoked forevermore.
  • In addition gun buyback programs should be instituted and be well-funded – to the tune of 5-10x market price of the weapon. Those turned in should immediately be melted down.

Guns in America are a long-term problem that requires a long-term solution. It won’t be solved overnight and it will likely take 100 years or more to achieve some sort of sanity. The steps above will go some way toward achieving some significant reduction in gun deaths – and anything helps.

Dec 25


One of the best things I’ve done to my computer setup is add bias lighting.

It reduces eye strain and makes your monitor appear to look better. Used to be very expensive and difficult, and now it’s trivially easy. Took me about $60 and 10 minutes work.

For the ROI, it’s so very much worth it.

Dec 25

Government involvement

I was told – even by a few liberals – that it was a myth that Tea Partiers hoisted signs saying things like “Keep your government hands off my Medicare,” despite having seen many of them online and one in person.

Well here is another such example, in the comments on this (poorly-argued) story about Social Security shortfalls.

If you don’t feel like clicking, the comment reads, “Government involvement screws up the whole system. Creating a committee doesn’t always work.”

You will note that Social Security is a government program; it has always been a government program.

So much for  the “myth” about the Tea Party types not understanding that Social Security and Medicare are government programs.