Thursday, October 20, 2016

Chinese Democracy

In China they do have some low level elections, but typically it's a choice between two party approved apparatchiks so the point seems kind of lost on westerners.  What's the point in voting when the result is already preordained?  As well, what effect could such voting have on the general lawlessness in the upper echelons of Chinese society?  Although China currently has a premiere, diktats typically come out of the black box of the Politburo to be rubber stamped by their Central Committee (it wouldn't even surprise me they pass laws only to find out what is in them later).

The party's rule is absolute and it tolerates no competition.  This leads to all manner of laws concerning the environment, labor, taxes, etc. to be selectively applied to those viewed as "unfavored" (i.e. not a member of the nomenklatura). Barring that, the party labels any dissenters (or those that they feel labeling as such) as traitors to the revolution.  Even if these people are not detained, they will be drummed out of "polite" society, with their careers and livelihoods ruined.

A large portion of the population (perhaps not a majority, but enough) favors this system since they feel that they are in on the scam being run by their elites.  They report any activity that they view as subversive and would gladly and openly vote for the corrupt elite that makes the lives of the rest of their countrymen so miserable.

Of course even in a country like China it's dangerous for the elites to wield such violence, so the violence of the state is absolute.  It goes without saying that no one can own a firearm, but as well all press outlets echo the party line, telling people what they should or should not care about.  If something does happen to break out of the party echo chamber it is squished after a set time in order to ensure that party rule is no being openly doubted.

In other news, this isn't bad: The only thing that I'll fault it for is the final line that mentions "policies" since in this election cycle (and quite possibly all future Federal elections) has nothing to do with any sort of policy debate. 100+ years ago Intellectual political debates in the U.S. were all the rage, now we're like many (all?) other nations where we argue over the scraps that the oligarchs let us keep.  The left are witting fools in this since they want to be on the side of the oligarchs and get first choice at the trough.

For instance, people take issue with the cost of medical care, housing, cars, education, etc. or the paucity of wages, but never the system that led to those issues to begin with.  What I hear 99.9% of the time is how the knobs on the system might be better tuned so that it's wretchedness might not be so apparent.

I itch to post these rants to Facebook, but it's a dead end.  Thinking about a future with no student loans, no medical insurance, and no need for monkeying with the minimum wage because what we need is affordable by nature is too much.  Whenever I tell people that producers have to offer their product at a price that the consumer can afford, I feel like the Lawrence Fishburne character in The Matrix, but everyone takes the blue pill.  The "blue pill" works until it doesn't, which it's close to

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Matthew 7:17-20

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Saturday, June 04, 2016

(Beer) Coma

I'd mentioned this...elsewhere, but when we were at a bar in Massachusetts when we saw buckets of food going to other tables.  "Buckets?", I thought "that's my favorite form factor for food!"
 We ordered one out of sight and it turned out to be a bucket of New England clams steamed with chorizo, yum!  Although...seafood and beer, um, don't really get along together.  (As I rediscovered later when a pound of sushi and a quart of Sam Adams dueled away in my stomach).
Some noise about the Smashing Pumpkin's Billy Corgan's anti-SJW rant.  My favorite part was the SJW-leftie sympathizers ranting about how they were pulling his music, blah blah.  Well that's a very tiny taste for them of what it's like for conservatives every waking minute of their lives when all their music, TV shows, books, movies, video games, and whatever else you have are written by the SJW crimethought police.

I thought of it recently while reading Neal Stephenson's critically acclaimed (of course!) sci-fi novel Seveneves.  His (way) previous novel Snow Crash was rather inventive and somewhat politically incorrect, but his latest efforts reeks of SJW appeasement.
Homersexuals?  Of course!
Unrealistically ethnically diverse cast?  Well he has to stay appealing to that vast tract of black sci-fi readers!
Climate change rants?
Anti-militaristic tones?
Multicultural cheerleading?  It's all in there!

So tiresome, and it's cut from the same cloth as the rest of the tired sci-fi crap that came out in 2015.  I can't help but think back to the slate of Philip K. Dick books that I've read that, despite their often copious flaws, featured normal people in extraordinary situations (rather than weirdos on stupid adventures).  It says something about western culture when it takes a guy living in a communist country to write a homersexual free sci-fi novel where the bad guys are left wing death cultists (though I repeat myself).
I've been looking for an excuse through the years to mention the Guns N' Roses song Coma.  Clocking in at north of ten minutes, it's a curse filled, angst driven, overly indulgent song on GNR's already overly indulgent Use Your Illusion double album.  It's not everybody's sound that's for sure (maybe only me and five other people like it), but it's a sound which was very predominant and is now dead, gone to the age when sci-fi space ships weren't full of fraggets (I'm ever amazed that GNR's One in a Million is still on YouTube; any big time producer who pumped that tune out today would have to undergo years of self flagellation under the all-seeing eye of merciless thought police).  Some may view such passing as a good thing, though with no normal morals left to slay, the crime thought police have moved on to made up crap like gay marriage and judgement free molester zones (I repeat myself again).

And songs?  I went to a bar with Mrs. Sandmich and remarked that when we were dating (we're talking dinosaurs here) the bars played the exact same songs, modern pop music being a wasteland of auditory abuse.

Anyway, while loading up on sushi (at a different bar and at a different time) a young couple was joined by the young lady's friends.  The conversation got tedious, quick:
Girl one (to guy): "Oh what do you do?"
(note: obviously they're white because only white people "do" stuff)
Guy: "Well-"
Guy's girfriend: "He saves DOLPHINS!"
Girl two: "Oh wow neat"
Guys: "-Coast Guard and-"
Girls (same tone and as quickly as possible): "That's/Pete down at/AWESOME!/car repair/Julie said that/I had to move/car repair/nails done/"etc. etc. for five minutes.

If I was the guy I would've gotten up and walked out, heck I didn't even know them and I wanted to leave.  However Coma came to mind since as part of the angsty guy's get-away-from-it-all frustration just such a vocal track was crammed in late to the song (between 7:10 and 7:40), scrub to listen and relive the enthralling experience! (For those who are not fans of the song, which will be all of you, it will be pain on top of pain!)
Bartender (afterwards): "Wow you really ate all of that!"
Although, for the single guys out there, apparently "saving dolphins" is a thing...
Girl: "And you said that saving dolphins is part of your job?"
Guy: "Oh yeah totally baby."

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Northern Travels with Sandmich

A lot of noise in the New England press speaking up the anniversary and it's all c-r-a-p like this:
The third anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings Friday was marked by solemn remembrance of the dead and wounded..."When you think about what happened three years ago today, and you think about what’s come of it, there is so much hope and inspiration"
"Remember the victims!" is the cry heard from on high.  Heaven forbid someone spend five seconds remembering the perpetrators so that there might not be any more victims.

It's certainly nothing contained to this region but it seems more ingrained since these people are, well, insane; they've completely swallowed the blue pill.  When I travel to Colorado I always think that I could be one of them, just need to eat a little better, exercise a little more, and learn to breathe a little less.  However when it comes to New England I could ever be one of them.  Just a few pics:
The Tewksbury police headquarters, made famous for their attempt to outright steal a big piece of private property.

A strip mall like this could be anywhere (and everywhere) in America.

Hampton Beach in New Hampshire, where pedestrians and bikers outnumber cars about 2:1.  There were even some people surfing out in the frigid North Atlantic (all men, though some brought their girlfriends along so that they could snap action pics of them with cameras that had lenses as long as my forearm).

The reworked Ford Escape UI; someone's cousin must be in the "button" business.  At least Microsoft's Sync is now tolerable instead of painfully awful.  (I love the "Menu" button, I mean really?  They need another menu after slathering that many buttons on the car console?)

Fort McClary in Maine, just past the ginormous Portsmouth naval yard.
Couldn't resist stopping to get one of these in Maine.  The place wasn't exactly out of the way, but it wasn't in the tourist area so the bartender thought I was a native, despite the fact that even people in Northern Ohio know that I'm not a local from the way I speak.
The last picture was extra amusing as a local came in and was talking about how messy it can be to eat lobster and related a tale about buying a lobster and going down to the beach to eat it because, like everyone else up there, she keeps lobster eating utensils in her purse at all times.  Oh to live in such a magical land where one must always be prepared for the threat of the lobster apocalypse!

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Linux, Desktop

I'd put this on my professional blog, but I don't feel like tidying it up.  Anyway SJVN has yet another article pumping the fact that you should move to Linux for your desktop OS, to which I commented:
The problem isn't the install (most of the time), it's the maintenance.  What would a novice user do when an update gets munged, or the boot directory fills up, or speed issues because the SDKs were written by Germans in their spare time, or their printer that's rigged up to work dies, or any of the other numerous little issues that haunt Linux crop up (and heaven forbid there's a major rev update to their Linux distribution, yeesh, that's PC Russian roulette with five chambered rounds). 
And the Interface?  Yuck.  The only time it works is with highly controlled niche builds because otherwise the style guide (if it exists) seems to mean 50 different things to 50 different people. 
It seems like SJVN has been pumping one of these articles out once every three months for years (at least since 2004 according to my notes) with Linux always being the "operating system of tomorrow.  Well it's been "tomorrow" for more than a decade now, so...?
Many commentators were on the "free" bandwagon, but as usual you get what you pay for.  Linux currently only works for me in two formats:

  • A boot USB/CD used for testing and diagnostics.  These are usually very tight Linux builds and they can be set to read-only so that damage that can be done to this fragile OS is very limited
  • PCs that users don't mind throwing away/formatting when they realize that they really don't want to use Linux all the time
I suppose this is a step up from ten years ago when it was crap all the time no matter what, but still.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

IT Chic

On HP's Enterprise site (as opposed to their slumming consumer site) they're pumping "Hybrid Infrastructure" (whatever that is) using this stock photo of a tech in action:

Yeah that's a look that many a tech worker sports, yup!  Although my experience has been that if someone works in a poorly lit datacenter that put's food vending machines in with the servers, that they aren't quite floor ready.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Force Awakens

This post has some mild spoilers and catches on one of my primary complaints with the film: that it's a rehash of the first Star Wars, only not quite as good.  The spoiler fight for this movie has been so successful in part because about five minutes in, even obtuse movie watchers like me have the whole movie pretty well figured out.  Announcing that people shouldn't relate spoilers for Force Awakens would be like Warner Brothers announcing that spoilers should not be divulged for a Road Runner cartoon.
A TIE fighter-Millennium Falcon battle on a sand planet?!?  Mind: blown. 
There were some story and sci-fi quirks that I got hung up on as well (which is saying something considering the Star Wars reputation for ignoring both), but my big hang up was with the bad guys themselves.  Through the first two movies it was enough to know Empire: Bad, Rebels: Good.  Even by Jedi though this was starting to wear thin and into the newer Lucas trilogy one gets the impression that this whole galactic imbroglio is just some Skywalker intra/inter clan warfare writ large and Awakens does the franchise no favors by failing to resolve the whole good versus evil issue.

It would be rather easy to craft a narrative around a society's never ending struggle to balance freedom (rebels) and security (empire).  However this narrative falls apart since the Empire doesn't seem to have a desire to rule over anyone: they're all about blowing up planets and building more crap with which to blow up planets.  If they wanted to rule over the galaxy it would be simple enough to use .00001% of the budget from one of their many Deathstar fiascos to buy off every politician in every governing body in the Galaxy (the Saudis have been doing it here for decades so that's proof positive that it works).

Barring that, the only thing that seems to hold up is the Japanese anime view of the darkside consisting of evildoers whose only goal is to accelerate entropy or to embody entropy itself.  The only problem with this (and you may have noticed this), anime is not very popular with general audiences because this tact is stupid.  Bad guys who want to destroy the planet/galaxy/universe in order to "end suffering" or "eliminate the plague that is life" are not bad guys anyone outside of Japan can find any relation to.  

This anime character wonders why his dreams can never come true.  Methinks that it might have something to do with, you know, trying to destroy the whole planet that everyone is living on.  Maybe he should start small, with a lego village or something.

Even for the worst of the 20th century's tyrants they had a goal that they were trying to achieve.  It's only when the bad guy has a goal that there can be an "anti-goal", some motivation that drives the good guys and helps you sympathize with them.  There was one point in Awakens when I thought that the whole Republic/Rebel/New Order bit was going to come into focus: the rebels, abandoned by those that they fought so hard to free, are left to try and mop up the remnants of a technologically superior Empire with a mix of old war era equipment, older personnel, and reformed clones.  This would have been intriguing and would have given the audience something (anything) to relate to.  No dice though, that window closed in a matter of seconds and my brief look into a movie that could have been was gone.

Three sandmiches: two for production values and one for one last race around the old track.

Extra Credit...

  • Black people came to the showing I was at and made a point to cheer on Black Jedi Dude.  It's a shame because this character had the most complex possibilities but was pressed into a two dimensional form; good enough for some I suppose...
  • Some back and forth between friends about how Star Wars became a series of films even though it's plain to see that it was never meant to be.  I thought this contrasted interestingly with Star Trek which could make a movie about the main characters (or even different characters in the same universe) playing poker all day and it would raise nary an eyebrow; at least if it was done properly (it certainly wouldn't be the worst Star Trek film).
  • Hollywood has sadly gotten rather adept at crafting films like this that have no good or evil.  Liberalism would dictate that the bad guys are the freedom loving guys while the good guys are puritanical tyrants that want to force the galaxy to pay for midnight basketball on planet Brotha 9.  Well that doesn't work, even for sympathizers, and the opposite would mean introspection of the horror of one's ideals to make an epic empty movie about nothing.  In the end this may have less to do with the Star Wars universe than the idiots tasked with creating the films. 
  • There was a couple in the theater that stayed until the end of the credits.  I was hanging around out of site by the door waiting for Mrs. Sandmich when I heard the guy say "they nailed it".  I wanted to ask him, "Nailed what?  The intro text?".  Maybe this movie wasn't made for me.  It did remind a bit of the Harry Potter films where if you aren't enjoying it in the first few minutes then you're watching the wrong movie.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Trump Conspiracy

Is Trump a closeted bag man for the Dems?  Are candidates like Lindsey Graham not a closeted bag man for the Dems?  Too many moving pieces right now methinks.  Some thoughts:
  • The GOP has become the party of Bush/Dem-lite. Witness the chest beating, self righteous outrage over Trumps reasonable proposal that immigration from Muslim nations be suspended until the Feds know what they're doing (which to be fair will be never, thus the source of the outrage).  Only Ted Cruz, from what I read briefly, made a reasoned rebuttal, but the rest of the GOP is indistinguishable from the wackos on the left.
  • There's stuff like this inferring that the GOP elite want to force a brokered convention (very difficult with their current rules) which leads one to believe that money men behind the GOP who care about one thing, slave labor rates and how to get more of them, are determined to force the car off the cliff if they aren't allowed to drive.  The big disappointment for me from the primary candidates was Scott Walker whose normally tough nosed approach and good governance could have easily stolen Trumps thunder but for the fact that he was forced to tow a very unpopular immigration line so that he could get national level funding.
  • One of the writers at Instapundit is very hard on Trump and believes him to be an absolute phony who doesn't actually stand for what he says and is lying through his teeth for some sort of ulterior motive (The "Hillary for prez" idea being one of them).  The comments, in turn, are just as hard on him.  It seems to me that Trump could have found an easier path to accomplish such a byzantine plan.  Backing this up is that I've seen comments that state that Trump's blowhard persona says makes sense if you've ever read his book (which I have not).  You can already see him dragging the entire immigration argument to the conservative right (though events have certainly helped him out); not exactly the result a secret far left candidate would be gunning for.
  • The left is a basket case.  Far lefties love Bernie while the more "level headed" realize how bad off they are.  They're running interference in trying to bring down Trump (and to a lesser extent Ted Cruz) while desperately trying to pump up farther left Republican candidates like Rubio and Kasich.  I think the Trump noise is even louder in this echo chamber; if the Dems had a strong candidate they would probably just ignore the GOP field entirely knowing that the electoral college math favors them.  As it is though they have to bring the full weight of their media and institutional might to bear on every perceived GOP snafu.  This has turned out to be a double edged sword though since they have repeatedly ended up broadcasting Trump saying what everyone else was thinking (I stole that bit from Dilbert man Scott Adams, who is not a Trump fan).
  • The Republican Congress has proven worthless.  Many GOPers (to an extent myself included) think that the current post-Gingrich paradigm needs to be blown up.  The results of such an event are probably overrated, but at the very least, if a candidate was elected President who was unpopular with his own party in Congress that would force a return to some balance of power instead of unelected executive bureaucrats basically running the country.
  • Again I think the closest equivalent to Trump is Italy's Silvio Berlusconi.  The fact that such an amoral sleazebag could be such an improvement over your regular run-of-the-mill Italian politician tells you everything that you need to know about the state of our political elites today.  People like Ed Driscoll and Scott Adams may think the absolute worst of Trump, but even if what everything they say is true (which I don't think that it is) they need to accept the fact that he would still not be the worst candidate on the stage.
Here's the rub with the current GOP nomination rules: in most (all?) states, the winning candidate gets all the delegate votes, thus it's theoretically possible for a candidate to win more than they lose, even win substantially more votes than they lose, but still lose big in the delegate count (and obviously, vice versa).  This was originally engineered to keep Ron Paul delegates out of the convention, but what if, say, Trump manages to pull the stunt of losing the vote, but winning the delegates (by scooping up non-majority wins in places like New York, California, Florida, and Ohio)?  And the opposite could also happen, or any other manner of combinations.  Again, the GOP has brought this on itself in a number of ways.  In this light, and with all the information that we have, I'm given to think that Trump's threat of an independent run has more to do with trying to keep the GOP honest (good luck) than some conspiracy in him trying to make sure that they lose.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Debate #2

Random notes.  FYI, I wasn't able to watch the whole thing, or the under card:

  • Usually I don't watch such things and Kid Sandmich took noticed and inquired about why I was watching this one.  I hadn't thought of it, but then realized (and related) that while debates are usually just a series of scripted talking points designed for the question that they're being asked, Trump has changed that.  Since Trump violates the gentlemen's agreement that everyone respect everyone else's canned answers, the candidates have to give, well, "more real" answers.
  • The most interesting thing in the debate for me occurred right at the beginning.  The moderator explicitly stated that candidates would not be given more time unless they were called out by another candidate.  The moderator then (after intros) went to Trump who almost immediately called out Rand Paul for having no business being on the stage since he was the lowest polling candidate, to which Rand was able to give a nice long retort.  Why did Trump do this?  Because he meant to.  Rand Paul for SecDef?  Who knows....
  • Along those lines it was interesting that Carson and Cruz didn't slam Trump all that much either, hmm.
  • I thought that for the most part even the weakest candidates improved their lot.  Again, I thought that Cruz, Rand, and Walker did the best because of selection bias, but even the odious Marco Rubio and ¡Jeb! came off much better than they deserved.  The exceptions to this seemed to be Trump who felt that he had to play his cards close to the vest in a defensive maneuver and Carson who probably should have done the same and kept quiet a time or two.
  • I think Trump needs to change his 'bankrupt' talking points.  His point is fair: business units go out of business all the time, even the small place I work at has gone through that, repeatedly.  He just needs to take the focus off of him (yeah, fat chance) and restate it as just being the normal course of capitalism that not all ideas work out.  On the other hand, he closed in too late to press his point about Lucent in regards to Fiorina.  Fiorina's vendor financing scheme and dubious accounting nearly sunk one of the great American technology manufacturers.
  • Criticism of W. Bush ran through portions of the debate.  It's safe to say that no one is going to win running on his record.  However, as I've stated before, the post-Iraq war debates are easy to have now because Saddam is dead.  Without the threat of a hegemon in the Middle East (with Saddam arguably the only one who could fill that role) people are free to have whatever opinion that they want.  W. Bush's gift in this area was allowing people to be intellectually lazy in this regard.  Again, Trump came too late with a real criticism: W. Bush's crap economic decisions.  W's tag team with Wall Street and government rent seekers blew up the economy and only a fountain of cheap credit continues to mask the problem (while turning the U.S. into even more of an oligarchy).  Only the absolute corrupt ineptitude of King Putt makes W look good by comparison.
  • A couple of candidates mentioned, in name, Western Civilization.  Interesting that.  I'd like to see someone call them out and see if they think that importing a bunch of Islamic rabble from the Middle East is good, or bad for Western Civilization.
  • A few points continue to nag at me.  First is the repeated deference to Israel.  Israel is a fine place and I have nothing against them, but they're still a foreign country, not the 51st state.  They're a free thinking and determined people with military superiority and a suite of nukes. They're perfectly capable of taking care of themselves and at this point in time my bet would be that Israel will outlast many other places in the West and East.  Secondly, the whole "What Would Reagan Do?" line of thinking that continues to dog conservative thinking in general.  It's not bad to use the past as a guide, but Reagan was such a creature of his time and it's illogical to think that magic can somehow be bottled and used again (in fairness the Dems did this for decades in regards to FDR, it didn't exactly work out for them though).
  • My guess would be that the next debate (looks like a CNBC debate next month?) will have a trimmed roster.  My hope is that Rand can stick around while Huckabee/Firiona/Kasich/Christie go down to the undercard, however I'm prepared to be disappointed.
How about them Dem debates?  Looks like the first one is in...January?  And one of their few debates isn't even English, nice.  Looks like the plan is to hide Hillary until the election, not the worst strategy I suppose.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Drunk Blogging Part 104

Some consultants came to visit us at work many months ago and they were kind enough to leave an old Airport Express behind, one that they were so stressed about losing that they had their name and phone number stickered on it.  Despite their apparent concern about losing the unit they never came back for it and this past Friday I finally worked the gumption to ask the big boss if it was okay if I, like, borrowed it so that I could stream my, hmm, like, borrowed music...

Amazingly enough he was totally cool with me stealing borrowing it, probably because he didn't want it littering up his desk anymore, but anyway...
One of the songs that came up over the Airport was Tears for Fears Head over Heals, one of the best songs of the eighties, and therefore, one of the best songs ever:

It's amusing because even though they had a band name, the "band" was basically just Roland Orzabal (the lead singer in the video) and to a lesser extent Curt Smith (backup), when they split Roland put out a few albums under the 'Tears for Fears" name, although he was the only one putting the music together (think, Trent Reznor and "Nine Inch Nails", which are one in the same, I guess a group name sounds better?)
Anyway, a place down Columbus way was selling, oh yes, 64 oz growlers of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale for $16; $16!  I of course, couldn't resist.  My desire was rewarded with an immediate and sever head cold which meant that I was unable to drink my ale until now, dear reader.  Alas, I have to drink it all at once before, Cinderella style, it turns into Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Vinegar.