Saturday with a touch of tinnitus

Today is the day that we get to see if my UK Wildcats are on a consistent performance upslope, or if they’ll fall back into mediocrity. Cats versus Gators at 1pm my time. I’ll go with the mammals.

Spent another Friday late afternoon enjoying the “new” stereo system. The new electronics, combined with the mighty M3s, are so much fun to listen to. I’ve discovered that ZZ Top’s La Grange is a killer recording, one of the best from the classic rock era. If only Rush’s recordings were as good. La Grange pops out of the speakers like the bearded dudes are right in the room.

And because of all the sonic meandering possible with the Elac music server and its built-in operating system (the Roon/Tidal combo) I’m discovering I like some very modern music. Billie Eilish was last night’s “discovery”. Her recordings are pure, very high fidelity, listenable at normal or “voice of the neighborhood” volumes. The bass on her recordings rendered through the M3s and powered by the Wyred4sound monobloc amps is…impressive. Room shaking, actually. Bad Guy is not just a wildly popular song – it’s an audiophile-friendly high-dynamic range recording.

Looking forward

I find that I don’t have much to write about lately. With the daily outrages of the Trump Crime Family gone, and COVID trending down, the topics of the past year are missing. That’s a good thing.

Also, I’m buried deep in work – team building and employee deconfliction in one gig, plain old team building and some political risk management in another, and loads of technical work on the quantum computing front. I’m writing use cases, creating architecture diagrams, writing detailed specs and reports – all the stuff I left behind twenty years ago when I became “manager” instead of “engineer”. It’s nice to know that I can still do this work.

I *am* making lots of travel plans again, and that’s fun. Travel starts again for me in late March, and then a steady diet of trips through June. It may not be the perfect time, but we’ll be vaccinated by then and as long as we (a) take precautions on airplanes and (b) only hang out with others who have also been vaccinated, I think our risk is low.

The desire to see the grandkids again is a constant physical ache. I’m missing so much. Almost four-year-old Hudson (above) has decided he can read all by himself, and asks for his his privacy to read. A chip off the old block. And Jessie is about to walk, just wandering around and smiling at everyone, as he does. I sure hope he keeps that happy personality as he grows up.

End of an era

From CNN, “Fry’s Electronics suddenly closed all of its stores overnight, ending a nearly four-decade run in business.”

Another pandemic casualty. I’m sad about this because walking through Fry’s was always a treat for me. As a gadget enthusiast and geek, nothing matched Fry’s for the sheer volume of electronic gadgets, raw parts, and geekery. When my stupid expensive refrigerator broke down, I used the Internet to find out what was likely wrong with it, then went to Fry’s to buy solder, a soldering iron and some fifteen cent capacitors. I mean, where are you going to find a selection of capacitors from picofarads to microfarads? And a dozen different choices for soldering irons? Only at Fry’s. I fixed my refrigerator with one of the fifteen cent parts and saved about eight thousand bucks. That was a good day.

The rise of Fry’s as the uber-electronic-parts store 40 years ago also parallels my technology career. They started just about when I started, so I hate to see them shut down. And I hope my refrigerator doesn’t break again, because now I have no idea where to get basic electronic parts.

(Almost) on the road again

With expectations to have both our vaccine shots completed sometime in March, I’ve started travel planning again and it feels great. Just the planning and anticipation is a pleasure – not to mention the travel itself. Right now I’m looking at trips to KY (a couple of them), to Hawaii and to Napa.

It’ll be especially great to see Dad, the kids and grandkids again. What a long year…

Ruh-Roh

OK, we think the pandemic is bad. Scientists are concerned that we might be headed for another Adams Event, in which our magnetosphere fades away just before the magnetic poles switch and we have a few centuries of environmental collapse. This last happened 42,000 years ago, causing humanity to retreat into caves to avoid being cooked by solar radiation.

This dramatic turning point in Earth’s history—laced with electrical storms, widespread auroras, and cosmic radiation—was triggered by the reversal of Earth’s magnetic poles and changing solar winds.

The researchers dubbed this danger period the ‘Adams Transitional Geomagnetic Event’, or ‘Adams Event’ for short—a tribute to science fiction writer Douglas Adams, who wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that ’42’ was the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

Though the event would be horrible – pretty much the end of normality, maybe the end of civilization – I loved this quote:

Using radiocarbon dating—a technique to date ancient relics or events—the team tracked the changes in radiocarbon levels during the magnetic pole reversal. This data was charted alongside the trees’ annual growth rings, which acts as an accurate, natural timestamp.

The new timescale helped reveal the picture of this dramatic period in Earth’s history. The team were able to reconstruct the chain of environmental and extinction events using climate modelling.

“The more we looked at the data, the more everything pointed to 42,” says Prof. Turney. “It was uncanny.

“Douglas Adams was clearly on to something, after all.”

So as much as we thought 2020 was the worst year ever, the Universe might be saying “Hold my beer…”.

Tough week for Texas

Saw this political cartoon today. It’s too good not to republish. I’ll reiterate that any schadenfreude I might feel is 100% for the politicians and bureaucrats of Texas, not its citizens. Like Ted “Cancun Cruz”. The citizens are victims of their “leaders” bad decisions. I hope they get warm soon.

Alien invasion

One year after it all started, we’ve reached the grim milestone of 500,000 Americans dead due to the pandemic. Our family went into semi-lockdown mode in late February 2021. Ninety days later, in June, we knew it (the pandemic) was bad. On June 5th I wrote that 112,000 people had died of COVID-19, and the total could be twice that number before it was over. Wishful thinking.

Five hundred thousand. Imagine a city the size of Louisville, KY, with every person dead and gone. Just empty. More people killed than any of our wars since the (un)Civil War. Actually, as many US deaths than WW 1 and WW 2 combined.

And that’s what a lot of people don’t get about this disease. It’s a war. It may not touch you, or it may kill you. It’s a fickle, invisible enemy. But it’s a war and we should spend whatever it takes to win it, on both the epidemiology and economy fronts. Every person should do their part to win the war (wears masks, doh!) and the Government should prop up businesses and families with direct payments and/or debt relief.

Imagine if aliens (the outer space kind, not the not-born-in US kind) landed in the US and killed 500K Americans, invisibly but inexorably, week by week. You think we wouldn’t mobilize? And do you think that anyone would worry how much Federal money was being spent to win the war? Well, that’s pretty much what happened. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is an alien that invaded us. And we should pull out all the stops to defeat it and make sure our survivors are OK.

Cold day in hell

I have a lot of sympathy for the people of Texas this week, as their power grid failed during a historic cold snap. Prehistoric living conditions during a pandemic…pretty horrific.

Their cretinous politicians are trying to blame renewable energy, notably wind, as the reason. That’s BS, as wind is only 10% of Texas’ generation capacity. The extreme cold has also made their major energy source, natural gas, unreliable because lines and meters are freezing. The real reason that TX power id down is that decades ago TX lawmakers decided they didn’t want to cooperate with the Feds and other states in an interstate power grid, able to send and receive electricity across state lines. As a result Texas has its own independent power grid, the only one in the lower 48 states, managed by ERCOT (ironically named the Electric Reliability Council of Texas).

Texans will want someone to blame for this. They should start with their idiot “conservative” politicians and ERCOT’s leaders.

Update, a few hours later: Texans should start their blame game here.

“Former Texas governor Rick Perry suggests that going days without power is a sacrifice Texans should be willing to make if it means keeping federal regulators out of the state’s power grid.”

What a maroon.

Enemies by Monday

Well, well, well. The cockroach speaks:

Statement by Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America

The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political “leaders” like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm. McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality, has rapidly driven him from Majority Leader to Minority Leader, and it will only get worse. The Democrats and Chuck Schumer play McConnell like a fiddle—they’ve never had it so good—and they want to keep it that way! We know our America First agenda is a winner, not McConnell’s Beltway First agenda or Biden’s America Last.

In 2020, I received the most votes of any sitting President in history, almost 75,000,000. Every incumbent House Republican won for the first time in decades, and we flipped 15 seats, almost costing Nancy Pelosi her job. Republicans won majorities in at least 59 of the 98 partisan legislative chambers, and the Democrats failed to flip a single legislative chamber from red to blue. And in “Mitch’s Senate,” over the last two election cycles, I single-handedly saved at least 12 Senate seats, more than eight in the 2020 cycle alone—and then came the Georgia disaster, where we should have won both U.S. Senate seats, but McConnell matched the Democrat offer of $2,000 stimulus checks with $600. How does that work? It became the Democrats’ principal advertisement, and a big winner for them it was. McConnell then put himself, one of the most unpopular politicians in the United States, into the advertisements. Many Republicans in Georgia voted Democrat, or just didn’t vote, because of their anguish at their inept Governor, Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and the Republican Party, for not doing its job on Election Integrity during the 2020 Presidential race.

It was a complete election disaster in Georgia, and certain other swing states. McConnell did nothing, and will never do what needs to be done in order to secure a fair and just electoral system into the future. He doesn’t have what it takes, never did, and never will.

My only regret is that McConnell “begged” for my strong support and endorsement before the great people of Kentucky in the 2020 election, and I gave it to him. He went from one point down to 20 points up, and won. How quickly he forgets. Without my endorsement, McConnell would have lost, and lost badly. Now, his numbers are lower than ever before, he is destroying the Republican side of the Senate, and in so doing, seriously hurting our Country.

Likewise, McConnell has no credibility on China because of his family’s substantial Chinese business holdings. He does nothing on this tremendous economic and military threat.

Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again. He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First. We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership.

Prior to the pandemic, we produced the greatest economy and jobs numbers in the history of our Country, and likewise, our economic recovery after Covid was the best in the world. We cut taxes and regulations, rebuilt our military, took care of our Vets, became energy independent, built the wall and stopped the massive inflow of illegals into our Country, and so much more. And now, illegals are pouring in, pipelines are being stopped, taxes will be going up, and we will no longer be energy independent.

This is a big moment for our country, and we cannot let it pass by using third rate “leaders” to dictate our future!

Paid for by Save America and not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee. saveamerica45.com

This line is priceless: “Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack,…”. Might be the first time I’ve ever agreed with the cockroach.

Post title courtesy of the writers of Yellowstone.

Just two things

From today’s NY Times. This explains a lot about why our two-party democracy is so broken.

Today’s Republican Party is less concerned with national public opinion than it used to be — or than today’s Democratic Party is.

The Republican Party of the past won elections by persuading most Americans that it would do a better job than Democrats of running the country. Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower each won at least 57 percent of the vote in their re-election campaigns. George W. Bush won 51 percent, largely by appealing to swing voters on national security, education, immigration and other issues. A party focused on rebuilding a national majority probably could not stay tethered to Trump.

But the modern Republican Party has found ways other than majority support to achieve its goals.

It benefits from a large built-in advantage in the Senate, which gives more power to rural and heavily white states. The filibuster also helps Republicans more than it does Democrats. In the House and state legislatures, both parties have gerrymandered, but Republicans have done more of it. In the courts, Republicans have been more aggressive about putting judges on the bench and blocking Democratic presidents from doing so. In the Electoral College, Democrats currently waste more votes than Republicans by running up large state-level victories.

In other words, the Electoral College’s mapping of land (states) to votes, rather than a purely democratic mapping of individuals to votes, gives the Republicans (translate: rural white conservatives) a permanent structural advantage. They’ve realized it and they count on it, not worrying about the pesky opinions and needs of a majority of voters.

It only takes two things to rebuild the foundations of our democracy: (1) Term limits on Congress, so octagenarian Senators can’t impose their will on the country forever, and (2) Get rid of the Electoral College and let an individual’s vote be a vote.

Wetware outlasts hardware

It may be time for a new iPad. I read digital books, on an iPad, almost exclusively these days. Today I’m trying to read a good new book and the Pad keeps running out of power before I’m ready to quit reading. Wetware outlasts hardware, a digital John Henry kind of thing. It’s ruining my plan for a peaceful day lost in what Dave Putnam calls the Fictive Dream.

I can repurpose the battery-sucking iPad as the full-time controller for Tidal Music and the Elac music server.