Civil War 2.0, gaslighting by memes and media

The first Civil War was brought about by the election of the “radical Republian” Abraham Lincoln triggering Democrats to lose their shit. Civil War 2.0 so far has largely been another episode of the election of a Republican to trigger Democrats to lose their shit, but so far the actual sound of gunfire has been absolutely minimal. Sure Kenosha and Denver happened, but things like that are bound to happen, and really weren’t a part of “organized group violence against the other group.”

So…what now? Well the media is all in on declaring Senator Joe Biden the president-elect while Team Trump is dropping lawsuits to address the statistically obvious cases of fraud in at least six key states. And yes, they are statistically obvious cases of fraud, whether or not the votes eventually stand as “final” or not it won’t change the fact that this level of deviation from the norm would trigger a fraud investigation in any other industry. Just because enough people agree to believe a lie doesn’t make it true, but I guess now is a good time to bring up “Wizard’s First Rule.”

“People will believe a lie because they want it to be true, or they fear it to be true.” Terry Goodkind.

Although a more historical quote might be in order….

“The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”” Some dead German named Goebbels…

Even now, Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post is calling for a blacklist of anyone who supported Trump, as they are not fit for polite society of course. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has called for the documentation of such support, despite the lack of any sort of crime other than ‘wrong think” that such Trump supporters supposedly committed.

They should think more about atoning for the betrayal of their country than trying to escape the consequences of enabling a liar, racist and wannabe authoritarian. There are practical reasons for employers outside the right-wing bubble to reject not only those who were the face of the administration but also those who labored behind the scenes….

We as a country and as individuals need to decide whether those who are unremorseful, who seek no forgiveness and who admit no complicity in an administration that engaged in reprehensible conduct deserve to be welcomed back into “polite” society. It seems like another moral failing on the part of Trumpers that they whine about the stigma of their tenure without shouldering any responsibility to come clean and make amends. – Jennifer Rubin

But of course they’ll need a list, after all how would they know who to put through the re-education process?

When this nightmare is over, we need a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It would erase Trump’s lies, comfort those who have been harmed by his hatefulness, and name every official, politician, executive, and media mogul whose greed and cowardice enabled this catastrophe. — Robert Reich

This sort of talk is troubling. It is troubling in the way that the issue of westward expansion troubled the New England abolitionists in 1830. They viewed, and rightly so, that expansion of the other political party’s power and influence would come to threaten their own. The Democrats feared the exact same thing, and so saw westward expansion as a requirement for political survival. Democrats have openly conversed among themselves about how to “deprogram” those horrible Trump supporters:

And I think that is where we are now. The Democrats are obviously calling for an end to the Republican party, doing everything within their power to intimidate people into not supporting Republicans. Like the Democrats of the antebellum South, they too see this as a matter of survival, as they recognize that their own position isn’t particularly superior in any moral sense (despite the calls for free healthcare, food, etc, they don’t have a very good track record of places actually prospering under Leftist rule).

So my advice? Don’t give up your guns. Stockpile as much ammunition as you can. Stockpile shelf stable canned foods, dry foods such as pasta, beans, and grains, and get proficient at first aid and emergency medicine. If you aren’t good at shooting, get trained and stay training. This year alone, in the middle of a “global pandemic” 6.9 million people bought their very first firearm, at least according to the NRA. The NRA believes this is a good thing, however I believe that people are reading the winds of change and are stocking up against the possibility that they might need to resist being sent to the re-education camp.

But… who knows? The future is unwritten and while the America that I once believed in is now confined to the history books, the America of tomorrow may be tolerable. Or it may not, and if not, better to have a gun and plenty of ammunition than not.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Seeed Studio initial review

I’m a big fan of single board computers (SBC) for various projects and purposes. Retropie, pi hole, even cheap network storage or low power server solution are all things you can do on any of the various single board computers on the market.

Seeed studio announced an Intel Atom based SBC for 75 bucks, with an expected availability date of 24 October 2020. So I went ahead and ordered one (not because I need another SBC to hack on, but because it looked like fun). The first issue came when they did a follow up that “the engineers tell us that running this SBC without a heatsink may damage it, would you like to purchase a heatsink for 8 dollars to be bundled with your Rock Pi X?” Honestly I didn’t need one, as I have several perfectly good heatsinks that would do the job, but I figured “why not?” and paid the 8 bucks.

The good, I got a reply from a human in customer service actually combining the orders.

The bad, the expected availability date is now 31 October 2020, and I have little to no confidence that the date won’t get pushed back again. Of course this may be simply because Seeed Studio is largely a “virtual” corporation with minimal warehousing and organic product handling capabilities. They could simply be waiting for their ship to get docked or unloaded at any of the west coast port facilities and be processed by customs.

Now, if you want a microcomputer based around a quad core Intel Atom processor, there are actual micro-PCs built on it at a similar price point, and older dual core Atom systems are going for pretty cheap as well (if you needed a low powered server of some sort). You have options, and you could always spring for the slightly more expensive Latte Panda x86 SBC and get one that is firmly established in the marketplace.

So I’ll let you know how it all works if/when the darn thing gets here….

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Once upon the end

Talk to your kids. Talk to your family. Tell them that you love them just as they are, just because they are who they are and deserve your love and a place in your life.

There once was a part time soldier who had a sister. His sister gave birth to a healthy baby girl, and the soldier happened to be drilling just a few miles away on the day of his niece’s entrance into the world. So the part time soldier came and saw his brand new niece and sister, happy that mommy and baby were healthy.

Fast forward a few years, the part time soldier is now a full time soldier again. The little girl grows into a precocious little lady and learns music, singing, acting, dancing, and makes fast friends wherever she goes. The full time soldier sort of just drifts in and out of the larger family life, but his wife and his sister are friends so he keeps up as best a guy can.

A few more years fly by and the precocious little lady is a teenager. She’s wicked smart, devours books left and right, develops a taste for Japanese animation, and everything seems like she’ll go out and conquer the world.

Until one night she calls the suicide hotline, talks for eleven minutes, obtains and loads a firearm, walks out into the field behind her parents house as to not leave a mess for her mother to clean, and shoots herself in the head. The full time soldier, now planning his exit from the military, finds out as his niece is in a medically induced coma with portions of her skull removed to address the swelling. The last time the soldier saw this happen was with a grown man, a US Army sniper, who never woke up from the coma. Before that the soldier had to clean up an upstairs bedroom of a specialist who shot himself in the head with a handgun, leaving bits of himself stained to the walls and carpet.

The soldier has felt the shock of an ied, led men who earned their purple hearts and combat infantryman badges, and still to this day has no clue how to spot an intelligent person who happens to be suicidal.

Now the niece is able to brush her own teeth, but there is no telling how much function she’ll be able to regain over the months of recovery and therapy to come. The national statistics are only 5% of firearm related suicides survive the attempt, and of that 5% only 40% are able to “fully recover.”

Talk to your kids. Talk to your family. Tell them that you love them just as they are, just because they are who they are and deserve your love and a place in your life.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

AMD A320 series chipset build report

The first and second generation Ryzen processors are getting pretty darn cheap, and for products released in 2018 still represent a good value for people looking to upgrade if they haven’t in a few years. I’ve still got one child using a 2nd gen i3 system as his daily workstation for homeschooling, although we just upgraded his brother from an even older Core2 Duo system to a Ryzen 3 3200 (he wanted to build a computer with Dad, and wanted to play Portal 2, so we did a build together).

Along the way I ended up with a refurbed MSI A320 motherboard (got it for cheap) and so I finished the build with a Ryzen 1600AF processor (the Zen+ architecture marketed as 1st generation). I repurposed an older Radeon 460 graphics card (also by MSI, ironically making this the first time in years I’ve had the same brand of mobo and graphics card in the same case) since the CPU didn’t come with Vega graphics. I loaded Elementary OS on it, and after some updates and tweaks the computer is running fine.

The good, it works and can be had for very cheap prices. The bad: you are very limited on expansion, and are essentially limited to Ryzen gen 1 and 2 for many of the boards. If you just want a computer that can do general productivity and run games, the A320 chipset will be fine. But you’ll struggle with a max memory limit of 32 gigabytes for bigger chores like rendering or other heavy multi-threaded workloads where RAM is the limiting factor for performance. However, if your normal workload is web based and office suite software (word processor, spreadsheet, etc) then the limitations of the chipset will never impact your user experience.

So…would I recommend an A320 based motherboard? Yes. For most people running office software, web browsing, streaming, and gaming it is completely fine. Because AMD will have to eventually transition away from the AM4 socket the limited upgrade pathway means that the extra cost of buying an additional motherboard in the future is going to be a requirement to transition away from AM4.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Elementary OS: First Impressions

There are only a few families of Linux distributions. Debian, Red Hat, Arch, a few others, but there are a lot of “downtrace” distributions based on those. Ubuntu is a Debian based distro, and Mint is an Ubuntu based distro. This is all good and normal in the Linux world as every distrubution tries to improve on something.

So enter “Elementary OS” which is an Ubuntu based distro, and is advertised as having a pretty slick user interface. So I paid the developers 5 dollars on the “pay what you want to download” model they have, as I figure 5 bucks is worth it for me to support anyone trying to make free and open source software more useable.

The good: full drive encryption right there in the installer as an option. This is a very nice feature to have.

The bad: The graphics settings are pretty limited, no stock options for tweaking image size to account for bezels covering a part of a screen. I used an older Radeon 460 graphics card, which is new enough that driver compatibility is kernel deep, so there’s no excuse for not being able to change the graphics to match the monitor I’m using. Also, no sound despite the OS picking up the HDMI out connector on the graphics card and saying it was in use, this lack of sound is pretty common for Debian based distros, so I’ve dealt with it before (in Ubuntu and Linux Mint). Still it’s annoying, and if you aren’t familiar with the command line can be a beast to fix.

The interesting. After letting the system idle to the point is “locked” I logged back in and the top menu bar was missing. No idea why it was missing, but it’s not a good first impression. I had to open a terminal and issue the “shutdown” command to turn the computer off since the power button was completely missing.

So my final thoughts…. Elementary OS has a lot of promise. The graphics are nice, tame, and it has the right amount of user controls for someone who isn’t a power user. However even with a hex core Ryzen 5 and 16 gb of system memory and a Radeon 460 with 2 gb of video memory, the system lacked the “snappy” feeling that Ubuntu or Mint generally gives you, as if there were some efficiency problems in the coding.

Now, would I recommend Elementary OS? Not to someone new to the Linux world, that recommendation still goes to Linux Mint or straight Ubuntu since there’s loads of support for them and you are unlikely to encounter a problem that hasn’t already been identified and solved. Elementary OS would be absolutely great for someone who has the tech chops to set the system up correctly so that everything works, and then pass that on to someone who just wants to browse the web, write some documents, maybe use some publishing photo editing software. It’s obvious they’ve put in the work to make it a very friendly interface, it’s better than the base Ubuntu distro (especially if someone is used to Macs).

Summary 3 out of 5 stars. Solid install loader, full drive encryption, and gorgeous user interface. One point off for sound not working out of the install, and one point off for losing the menu bar on coming out of idle.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Urban Exodus

New York City, New York, and San Francisco, California, are now experiencing the largest exodus of productive citizens in recent memory. To call this “unprecedented” would not be an understatement.

There are lots of reasons “why” this is happening now, such as COVID-19, the availability of extremely reliable telework software combined with high speed, high bandwidth internet access, to even a cultural shift that views telework as normal rather than an accommodation.

But the bottom line is always going to be economic. New York City and San Francisco have essentially priced themselves out of the current market. I mean if you can’t go to the opera, museum, or ballpark you might as well not go to those places in Raleigh or Boise or any of the other lower cost cities with more economic opportunity (due to “red state” politics).

Why do I say this? Well the state of Illinois is dominated politically by one area, the city of Chicago. Due to this dominance, the state of Illinois has been losing people for the last six years. (note this article is from January 2020, before the COVID economic crisis)

You can’t blame the urban exodus from Chicago on COVID, although it would be quite logical to assume that the reactions to the pandemic accelerated the exodus, you have to come away with the same conclusion that people are largely leaving for economic reasons. Chicago simply costs too much, although if you are the “social justice” side of the political aisle, “racism” is the real reason.

Vox and Quartz both wrote very long articles on “white flight” and self segregation along racial lines: and

Whether you buy into the “racism” angle the truth remains that there is an economic cost to “diversity.” People choose to live in places where they maximize their comfort within their economic means. And when the “emotional labor” of having neighbors that don’t look like you, or have common cultural values that you do, makes you uncomfortable, then changing your situation to one where you are more comfortable is likely to be considered a healthy emotional choice.

In my opinion, the future of diversity in the united states will be the multi-racial household. People who love each other as individuals across ethnic divides have only become more and more accepted across the US social landscape. The data is pretty clear, the trend of multi-racial marriages is rising steadily although there is backlash to the point where “black males who betray their race” is viewed as a “trope” within black literature:

So where does this leave us? Well rent in New York City and San Francisco can only get more reasonable for people who for their own reasons stay in those locations. The suburbs are likely to get more “blue” voters who claim to support diversity despite the actions moving them to “more segregated” neighborhoods than those they left in the dense urban areas. The time is now to evangelize these internal migrants to the values of liberty, economic freedom, and individual accountability as the keys to economic success rather than the leftist values of coercion, economic control, and group punishment.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Thoughts on Apple Silicon

The announcement that Apple would be transitioning to an all ARM ecosystem has been met with derision, applause, analysis, and disbelief. Of all of those reactions, it is the analysis part that has been most useful.

Apple has been designing its own ARM based systems on chip (SOC) for a decade now, and improving on each generation in a blistering release per year cycle. To put it in another way, the 8086, 286, 386, 486, Pentium, Pentium II, Pentium III, Pentium 4, Core 1 series and core 2 series represents ten generations of mainstream processors from Intel. The 8086 became available in 1978, and the 2nd Gen Core processors in 2011, so 33 years to develop ten generations of general purpose, commodity processors for the x86 instruction set. Apple essentially built the ARM64 instruction set, and iterated 10 generations of improved ARM based processors for iPhone and iPad in a third of the time it took Intel to go 10 generations.

Why? Well there is a fundamental difference in how Intel has to design and manufacture chips, and how Apple can design and manufacture chips.  Intel has to meet industry standards for compatibility and ensure their chips work with third party motherboard manufacturers.  Apple does not, and by bringing the whole product into the pipeline can get very tight integration with software, something that neither Microsoft can do with Windows, nor Linux can do unless you get serious about kernel customization.

The other huge difference is that Apple isn’t into the server CPU business. Intel utterly dominates the data center, although AMD and ARM are making inroads (again) into that space, and SPARC and PowerPC are still hanging on by the thinnest of percentage points. Apple, quite rightly, doesn’t give much of a hoot about the data centers as they are static, machine oriented, and have essentially no efficiency constraints for electricity. Apple’s products are human oriented, and largely dependent on batteries, and are therefore immensely interested in efficiency. This means that on top of the basic ARM instruction set, Apple has been baking in it’s own functionality right onto the chips, things like hardware decoders for streaming video that much more efficiently use electricity to display a YouTube video you might be watching.

The other thing Apple announced for the next generation of Macs is the inclusion of a “neural engine” in a configuration I’ll call a “processor cluster.” Now there are two ways to go about making a good neural engine, use an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) or field programmable gate array (FPGA). Both of those options are known for high computational performance at low cost. The advantage of the fpga is that you can reprogram it to do different stuff, and the advantage of an ASIC is that they are highly optimized for one workload. It will be interesting to see which choice Apple makes, and why. My guess is that it will be an ASIC as they are, in theory, likely to be more efficient for better battery life.

One of the things that gave me pause is the recent push by Apple back into the “serious workstation” realm for people doing large movie editing, effects, etc. This move to an ARM ecosystem might prove to have a hiccup for those users if their x86 software suffers a bad performance hit when switched to ARM. But, people have been capturing, editing, and publishing videos straight from the iPhone and iPad for years now, so at least that workload seems to be pretty safe.

Secondly, given Apples aggressive development timeline, the feedback from a “neural engine” could give Apple circuit designers exquisite data on the use cases their users actually need to increase the performance and efficiency of the next generation of processor clusters. The clusters will include some high efficiency cores, some high performance cores, some GPU cores, and the neural engine of course.  Although adding functionality to the processor cores kind of defeats the design ethos of the reduced instruction set core (RISC), Apple can essentially create a peripheral on chip and glue it all together with microcode or other software solution.

So, I think that the next generation of Macs will be like the Amiga, a highly integrated computer with amazing performance compared to the competitors. I also think that this might cause an initial dip in Mac sales, as I’m not sure that a public which associates ARM based computers with Chromebooks will react with the same enthusiasm as when Apple released the super powerful Mac Pro Workstations. Time will tell of course, as Apple isn’t infallible in their business strategies, but they are interesting.


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Invicta 9937OB Watch: Initial Impressions

I have two Invicta Pro Divers with the NH35A movement, both picked up on Amazon Prime day for cheap. One has been modified to be “retro milsub” and the other has not, but I plan on giving one to each of my sons as they mature into manhood. I found that Amazon had “refurbished” Invicta 9937OBs for about 150 dollars off the normal retail price, making it an even 208 dollars for a watch that is superficially the same as a Glycine Combat Sub (avaialble at Costco for just shy of 300 dollars). Since I’ve wanted a sub style Swiss dive watch for a while, I pulled the trigger and am now the owner of a watch that was obviously never worn, but was returned by someone else without all of the paperwork for the watch. I’m not going to complain at all about the discount.

I will complain that the watch displayed on Amazon showed the model with “SWISS MADE” clearly printed on the dial, and I received a model with “SWISS MOVEMENT” printed on the dial. Legally the watch has to meet a pretty strict standard of how much value of the total watch was put into the watch in Switzerland to be labeled “Swiss Made” and there is no legal requirement at all for labeling a watch “Swiss Movement.” However, for 208 bucks this is pretty much still a bargain as a Selitta SW200 movement will set you back half that at least, and the case, crystal, and bracelet can easily add up another 80 bucks easy, not counting assembly time. So getting a watch assembled in Malaysia (my best guess) with a Swiss movement put into Chinese (best guess) case and crystal, for 20 bucks over the cost of doing all the work yourself is a pretty darn good deal.

So, I had to remove two links to get the bracelet sized down to my wrist. This is normal as almost no one has a wrist big enough for a standard bracelet straight from the factory. The watch I was wearing, a Seiko Orange Monster (second gen “sharks tooth” dial), seemed almost twice as heavy in comparison. I don’t know if the bracelet is using hollow links, or what, but the Invicta 9937 is much lighter on the wrist than the Seiko Monster.

Second, the SW200 movement is 28,800 bph, hacking and hand winding, and is essentially a clone of the ETA 2824-2 with an added jewel. However the hand winding was significantly stiffer than even a brand new Seiko. My Gruen Swiss dress watch with ETA 2824 movement easily hand winds, so I find the stiffness a bit concerning. However the additional 2 beats per second really does give the second hand the smooth sweep associated with Swiss automatics.

Third, the bezel is tight, and feels stiff. This is good as it means you are less likely to add time to a dive, but it subtracts from the feel of quality generally associated with Swiss watches (even though this is a Chinese/Malaysian watch powered by a Swiss movement).

Final thoughts. The watch wears very well, and at 208 dollars is a good value. I would not recommend this watch at the 350 dollar normal asking price off of Amazon, and would instead recommend picking up a Glycine Combat Sub when they drop below 300 dollars at Costco or a group buy website. Since the Invicta Group owns Glycine, they are essentially the same watch with different branding, although Glycine should come with the “SWISS MADE” written clearly at the 6 o’clock position on the dial. So if you are interested in this sort of “budget Swiss watch” styled after the Rolex Submariner, the Invicta Group has a few options for you.

Now, in this price range, Seiko produces objectively better dive watches in terms of value, warranty, easy of reading the time in low light and under water. So if you just want a dang good watch, it’s really hard to say no to a Seiko (or Citizen, or Orient, also seriously good value purchases for tool watches). But you won’t get a high beat movement at that price point, if the slightly smoother second hand matters to you.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Liberty Creek Pinot Noir

Odds are good that if you buy a bottle of California wine for under 10 bucks, regardless of the “brand” it’s likely a Gallo wine. If you don’t believe me, there’s a nice list of Gallo brands here:

Comparing Liberty Creek Pinot Noir to Yellowtail Pinot Noir is a bit like comparing a Ford Crown Victoria with a Lincoln Town Car.  Essentially everything is the same except the details, which is not surprising given that Southeastern Australia and California are similar in climate so raising the same type of grape should result in similar wines.

So I purchased a bottle, as I’d never tried it before, and made braised beef short ribs. My opinion as a cooking wine? It works, does the job nicely. My opinion as a drinking wine? Seems perfectly acceptable, and obviously pairs well with beef. In fact it paired so well with beef that I made pot roast (from bottom round), with a half cup of the wine, quarter cup of marinara sauce, and quarter cup of water as the liquid to ensure it didn’t get all dried out in its three hour soak at 310 degrees F. The pot roast is now resting in cling wrap in my refrigerator for lunch tomorrow, and the potatoes cooked with the pot roast are in a ziplock bag.  Unfortunately for me, microwave reheats are generally the rule, as I don’t have time to actually cook a full meal over my lunch break.

So…in this recent journey of cheap wines, what have I learned? Well I probably can’t taste the difference between a Winking Owl, Barefoot, or Liberty Creek branded wine of the same variety in a three way blind taste test. For all I know they are all the same wine put into different bottles and sold to different markets, as only Aldi carries Winking Owl, and I picked up the Liberty Creek and Barefoot at a convenience shopping location. It is possible that Gallo actually has different manufacturing facilities, but given the price point of these wines I think it is more likely they use a centralized high efficiency system for fermentation, filtration/clarification, and bottling in order to absolutely minimize the costs of production. And I’m totally fine with that, as the consumers benefit from an obviously quality product at low cost, hitting the “high value” mark nicely.

Now, what you won’t get with these “high volume/high value” wines is the unique vintage flavors of lower production vineyards with less efficient processing. If you want reviews of those wines, there are plenty out there, but probably not any coming from me any time soon.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What Cultural Appropriation Actually Looks Like.

This tweet by singer “SUCH” has been making the rounds:


I was intrigued, and so went looking for her biography. I found this on her official website:

Growing up the daughter of Haitian immigrants, her life was centered around faith and family.

Well, there’s your problem, second generation immigrant. Had her family stayed in Haiti she would definitely be doing worse than had they come to America. The fact that she BOUGHT HER HOUSE is pretty damn good for a second generation off the boat.

But, I have to ask, where does she live? Well, according to this press release, it’s Denver. You know, Denver, Colorado, the city founded in 1858, all of 162 years ago. Clearly white people had a 400 year head start in DENVER.

Now, what follows is guesswork, but it is like that….

Given SUCH’s celebrity status she wanted a home in a nice, safe, upscale neighborhood. In doing so she found a nice, safe, upscale, majority white neighborhood in or near Denver. The lender she chose to deal with was probably the preferred lender for the real estate agent who worked the neighborhood she wanted to move into. And it is likely that lender is used to dealing with rich folks, regardless of color, who ask the normal questions for the neighborhood she wanted to live in.

What is galling is that SUCH has the audacity to claim that white people have a “400 year head start” when many “white Americans” are still able to trace their family back to the boat as well, and maintain enough ethnic identity to say “Scandinavian American” to the census takers.

For those who aren’t in the know, the “400 year head start” is reference to the 1619 project, referencing the year 1619 marking the start of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Note, that less than 320,000 African slaves were brought to the 13 colonies, and that importation of slaves became illegal in 1808, and the Civil War ending slavery fought later that century. But the “400 year head start” makes good “bullshit” in that it takes more words to factually refute than say (see Brandolini’s Law).

In short, daughter of legal Immigrants makes it big in the US, claims oppression. If that isn’t cultural appropriation, I don’t know what is.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment