Feb 03

If you gots a Mac

If you don’t want the built-in webcam to ever be activated, use the linked file below.

My previous method of disabling it completely doesn’t work any longer in El Capitan without turning off SIP, but this does.

Note: no security method is foolproof but this requires quite a few steps to get around.


It’ll add a Device Profile that prevents the camera from turning on no matter what application — like FaceTime — attempts to activate it.

Of course you can put black electrical tape over it but I’d prefer to not get the resulting goop on my iMac.

Feb 02


I don’t really give a crap who wins the caucuses or the election, but I really want to watch this film.

The Polish director’s debut feature-length film is like Cronenberg at Disneyland, a Grand Guignol musical fairy tale of two mermaid sisters who are quite literally fish out of water. We first meet Golden and Silver as they are trying to lure a family of musicians to a watery death, only to strike a deal with them that leads to the mermaids joining their band.

It’s the anti-Splash.  And don’t misread me — I like Splash. It has crazy charm and energy and some great lines, mostly from John Candy. And it’s the closest thing there is to a romance novel aimed at men*. But recognizing it proffers a certain worldview, I also enjoy seeing things that disclose another.

And now I will write an aside that’s longer than the main post. Watch this trick y’all.

*The “misogyny” explanations for why men like Madison from Splash don’t hold water (see what I did there). It’s not her naïveté (which actually she is not except about human customs). The actual reason is that she’s completely guileless — something that is beaten out of both women and men by the barbarity of our world. That is the point of the movie, and if you missed that point you should really reconsider criticism altogether.

Madison represents the ideal lover who glimpses and even reveals to you your model self — the coin of the realm of all romance novels. Every person alive knows that most dating is deception, and Splash explodes that and examines it. It also cheerily but quite subversively for an 80s movie skewers social conventions and what we are expected to want vs. what we actually desire and what would make us happy.

It also helps that it’s probably Ron Howard’s most nuanced and darkest movie. Seriously, watch it again. The scenes where the scientist is discussing dissecting Madison to study her are harrowing in a way that few movies achieve because the character investment is so high and the characters as drawn seem so present. They also seem to be in real danger, unlike most fairy stories where the ending is assured.

It’s also Howard’s best-shot movie; the cinematography is superior to that of Apollo 13 and even the quotidian cityscapes seem enchanted which befits the tone of the movie. And the camera more than in any of her other films just loves Daryl Hannah — she doesn’t look human (in the best of ways) even when she lacks a caudal fin. It is also her finest performance — when she realizes the pain, the avarice, the cruelty, the woe and the misery ineluctably at the very heart of the human world, the emotion of that realization just radiates palpably from her like some malignant steam escaping:


But back to the darkness — Madison’s tale (see what I also did there) is the story of how the world as we humans make it suppresses and impedes our best intentions, hardens us, jades us, gives us armor but also its inevitable distance, and the film compresses all that for Madison into weeks of hard lessons and for us movie-goers into a few hours of recapitulation of that baneful edification.

Splash is a tragedy masquerading as a fairy tale. Sure, Madison escapes and Allen her paramour elopes with her — but the world that nearly vivisected Madison, that also nearly killed Allen for loving her, that sent Marines to capture or kill a harmless wonder that in a saner world would’ve been recognized as fully human right away — is still there, just as it was, unchanged, its evil unaltered.

That is the tragedy. And that is not indeliberate in how the film’s story is spun.

Now some trivia. “Madison” was a really uncommon name before Splash; the film popularized it. I remember how unusual and ridiculous it sounded when I watched the movie some time in the 80s. It was chosen specifically because it sounded absurd. Now it doesn’t.

Daryl Hannah’s mermaid tail took eight hours to put on.



This week for what strangely is probably the first time in human history, you will see a completely accurate self-reported food diary, compiled day by day.

This is for the prior day — Feb 1 — accounting for everything I ate or drink that had any calories at all in it. My food diaries are easy as pie (heh) to keep as I eat very little.

Feb 1:

  • Large apple muffin.
  • Two medium slices of pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms, various cheeses, onions and olives.

And that’s it! As I said, my food diaries are easy to keep because what I eat is de minimis so I don’t get de maxim-ass.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s gripping report.

Feb 01

Looking deep into bad ideas

I know I go on about this, but was thinking about Twitter and how we’ve replaced RSS with Twitter — which is far worse. Proprietary, difficult to search, nearly impossible to parse and character-limited. Twitter is inferior in every way one cares to name to a blog.

We seem to be doing this everywhere. For instance instead of an actually-useful OS, we’ve now gotten random spy-tiles flying around the screen with eye-shattering fonts, unusable UIs and more padding than a undergrad’s English paper.

I call it sometimes “The Triumph of the Morons” but “moron” is a nebulous term that I use in the same sense that Republicans use the word “terrorist” — it just means something that they and I do not like. Because really many of the people promulgating and supporting these bad and harmful ideas in user interface design are high-IQ people who do believe in their mission.

Are they right that democratizing something requires that you completely abandon a large portion of your users as the product becomes so simple a two-year-old could use it (and alas, no one else)? Or is that just an artifact of ravening capitalism as currently practiced?

My contention is that it is even deeper than that.

I’ve strayed far from the topic and it’s admittedly not well-developed even in my own mind, but what I’m arguing is that the reasons cited for poor and non-customizable user interfaces are spurious, not justified by the usually-cited pseudo-capitalist reasoning of lack of resources or money. These justifications fail because in most cases, it requires more resources — both developer time and company money — to jerk out features and to suppress discussion of this decision than it does just to leave them in.

Second, as features are removed in most cases the project declines or is rejected (see Windows 8 and Mozilla Firefox for recent examples). So the “reasons” for making user-harmful changes are transparent and phony even by the transgressors’ own standards of evidence.

So just capitalism and the desire for profit cannot explain it. One must look deeper. And that’s what I’m attempting to do.

If there is not a sociology of failure, I intend to start one.

Jan 31

For the Fat Acceptance nuts

Angelique Kerber won the Australian Open with some very impressive strategic play. Worth watching the highlights at least if you like tennis and smart players (and I do like both). But I wanted to talk about the difference between “thick” as used by the FAs and what someone who is actually thick looks like.

Angelique Kerber is thick; I have large muscular thighs and Kerber’s (even when not being made to look larger by bouncing off the femur during play) are 50% again as big around as mine.


That is thick. Note that she still looks great because she’s in hella shape. Thick doesn’t mean you weigh 400 pounds. That’s just morbidly obese. A bit of a difference there, really.

Kerber is 5’8″ and 150 pounds according to official WTA stats — but those official stats are often old. From the photo and looking at a few older photos, I’m betting she weighs more than that now. I’d say about 165. But it’s all muscle so as noted looks amazing.

Jan 30

More hatred

More hatred of sex workers in the name of feminism.

This could be used for any job. Does any working class person take any job not out of economic necessity? Only prostitution is singled out because even most of those on the nominal left are extremely, extremely sex-phobic.

This is the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard.

Jan 30

Poettering is a moron

Wasn’t surprised to see that Lennart “I’m a moron” Poettering closed this systemd bug where you can brick your actual hardware by running rm on an improperly-rw mounted firmware fileystem.

The problem with open source is that one powerful person who is relatively clueless and untalented like Poettering can do a lot of damage that is nearly irreversible.

Sure, this can happen outside of open source too, but someone like Poettering is even more difficult to unseat once he or she seizes the reins because the feedback of profit doesn’t work quite the same way. That Poettering is doing this at the behest of Red Hat is clear, but Red Hat actually doesn’t care much either way about user experience (since they peddle enterprise solutions) so Poettering’s disruption of Linux’s ecosystem and destruction of sanity and security no matter how it is achieved is probably always to their net benefit (disaster capitalism in Linux form).

It’s always been a myth that you cannot damage hardware with software (back in the old days it was easily possible to destroy your CRT by setting improper modelines in xorg.conf) but not bricking your fucking system easily seems to be something that systemd and Poettering should be concerned with.

But his is the Way and the Light, and anyone else is not only wrong but also not properly enlightened.

Jan 29


I only use XFCE for a few minutes a day usually, but it’s nice to be in a desktop environment that doesn’t actively punish me for being smarter than an amoeba.

XFCE isn’t amazing, but it’s functional. And functional goes a long damn way these days compared to the horrors inflicted on us by others.

Jan 29

I’m not normal

Reading articles like this makes me realize how abnormal I am.

I’m sure this guy is right — but until I read the article I truly didn’t realize how big a basket of self-delusion and wishful thinking most people are. Like, I’ve read all kinds of cognitive psychology textbooks, etc., but it doesn’t sink in the way something of this nature does.

Do people really think and work like this? How do they live? How can you survive day to day with such poor self-assessment and self-control abilities?

Losing weight was remarkably easy for me. I lost 25%+ of my body weight because I decided to. I knew I could and I did.

When I read things like the linked article I don’t think that I am superior to other people but god, I am remarkably divergent in so many ways that it’s no wonder that I have such trouble dealing with so many people other than on the smalltalk level.

These articles are harmful, though — the only option is failure. The Homer Simpson “don’t even try” solution. So glad I didn’t go that route in my personal life.

Do people really have that much problem controlling what their hand picks up and places in their mouth? Why? I don’t understand. It’s just so easy for me to tell my hand not to. Even when I am hungry. But then I am so stubborn that books could be written about that.

But I just don’t understand; some fundamental incompatibility.