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Journal: A Pretty Good Friday

Journal by mcgrew

For the last several years my Easter routine has been a three day celebration. On Good Friday I find somewhere to have Walleye for lunch, which isn't hard. Most places have it every Friday. Friday nights I like to find a bunch of Christians (not hard, most bars are filled with Christians) and get drunk with them on the blood of the lamb.

Saturdays I watch the only R-rated religious film ever made, The Passion of the Christ. Easter Sunday I attend church, where the services are so good that if it were a secular thing people would pay fifty bucks a ticket.

But yesterday was different. I'd gotten some snail spam from Xfinity/Comcast offering internet for twenty five bucks a month. I've been on AT&T for years, with only one complaint: they keep jacking up the price. It's risen from 24 to 51.

There was a box on my porch: Nobots. It was OK so I released it to the bookstores, it's supposed to show up in stores in six to eight weeks. The cover is slightly different from the copies you guys bought, those books will be worth something in a decade or two.

The cable guy, who wasn't Larry, seeing as how he not only wasn't a redneck, he was black, showed up fifteen minutes early.

I felt sorry for the fellow, because the whole exercise was a corporate bureaucratic clusterfuck. He asked what equipment was giving me trouble. "It's a new installation," I said. So he had to call the office to clear that up.

"It says here you have some Comcast equipment," he said. "Yeah, I replied, digging through a pile of electronic junk. "I had cable a few years ago and they never came to get the cable box. Here."

"It says here you have another piece of equipment."

"No, unless it's cabling or something. On the phone again he couldn't find out what the equipment was supposed to be. Considering they sent him with a repair ticket rather than an installation ticket, my guess was a clerical error. I have to call them and clear it up, I am NOT looking forward to it.

So he gets out a modem/router, which he calls a "Dory" or "Dorie" or something that sounded like that and plugs it in to the cable and my router and fires it up. The Linux box is running, playing oggs and MP3s so I pull up Firefox. "Looks like it's working," I say.

"Huh? That's impossible! I haven't activated the modem yet!"

The DSL modem was still running. Duh!

His "Dory" didn't work. So he unplugged the cable and plugged it into a piece of test equipment. "No signal," he says. He goes out back behind the house to change the connectors and test the signal there. He comes back in. "There's no signal going into your house. I have to climb up the pole anyway, I'll be back in a few minutes."

When he got back he announced that it had been disconnected at the pole. He hooked his gizmo up and announced that he had a signal.

But the modem still wouldn't work. "Darn," I said. "I was going to have some fish at Suzy-Q'a." By then it was noon; what should have been a routine installation taking no more than half an hour had placed roadblock after roadblock in front of the poor technician.

He said to go ahead, it would take a while to get hold of his supervisor, who was at lunch. He'd sit in the truck and try to figure it out.

I'd placed my order over the phone, so when I got there it was not only done, but had cooled enough to eat without burning myself.

When I got back, the installer said he'd found the problem, that I'd gotten the wrong modem and he had to go back to the shop but would only be gone a little while. I told him I'd probably be sitting on the porch with a beer when he got back. "Man," he said, "I'm sure looking forward to that!"

"After the day you've had? I'll bet! I know what it's like, man." He left to get a different modem.

Two Comcast trucks showed up, he and his supervisor, a nerdy looking fat white guy who wanted to know where the "start" menu was. "Right where it's supposed to be," I said, taking the mouse and clicking. "Oh," he said. "The icon's different."

He putzed around in its internet settings and couldn't make heads or tails of it. I told him I'd never had to mess with it, it's not like Windows. In Linux, you just plug it in and it works. He plugged his laptop in and couldn't get on the internet with it, either. So he went for the different modem, which was exactly like the first one. This one worked, except for the button that's supposed to bypass the wifi password. No problem, the password is on the bottom of the modem.

They got done about three. I guess I have to go down to AT&T to cancel my DSL, it was impossible over the phone.

Too big to fail? Too big to operate with any efficiency whatever is more like it. I feel sorry for their employees.

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Journal: This should be one of those "I told you so" moments... 1

Journal by Timex

...but I won't say it, even though I'd be justified in doing so.

I was just looking through the beta for Slashdot (which I don't like, by the way) and saw a "Hall of Fame" page. I looked at it and this was one of the most popular stories of all time. It was posted when Obama was elected the first time.

It's kind of depressing, in that people were saying that Obama would not change all the things he promised he would, and the lemmings tried to shout them down. I said "depressing" because so many people, all of whom should really have known better, bought into the ideals that Obama sold to them. They honestly believed (and I daresay still believe, even now) that Obama would have the power to bring about all the changes he promised.

Well, it's been six years in. I think I am safe in stating that none of his promises have been kept-- none of them that were of any substance, anyway.

I can only hope that the process that we have in place will work as it should, and Obama will not see the end of the current term. He can't complain: he has his phone, he has a pen, and he knows how to use them.

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Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Sixteen 3

Journal by mcgrew

        When I woke up, all my muscles were on fire. We would have had to turn the ship around today, and in fact that's what was scheduled, except for the meteors and the drama that followed.
        Destiny was sleeping peacefully. I got up, thankful that we weren't at Earth gravity but wishing we had turned around for deceleration then, because they have it plotted so that you start the journey close to the planet you're leaving's gravity, and reach your destination close to that planet's gravity. We were at half Earth gravity now and it would gradually be lowering to Mars' gravity.
        The girls didn't like half Earth gravity, they were going to hate Mars. I guess these girls were being well paid or something, they sure were paying me good. Except that from what I'd learned about these women they probably just promised free drops. Drops were the addicts' only motivation, only goal, only thing that mattered to them.
        God but my muscles were all on fire. I sat down on the couch and had the robot make a cup of shitty coffee, my legs hurt. I had it bring me water and Naproxin and drank the lousy coffee. Yech. Why can't they program those damned things to make drinkable coffee? I should have went to college and learned programming.
        I only drank half of the nasty brew and hauled myself painfully to the shower. A hot shower would do wonders for my aching muscles.
        The hot water felt as good as the coffee had tasted bad. I took a really long one. It helped ease the pain, and the pill had started working some, too.
        I took one sip of the remaining cold, nasty coffee and started a pot. Damned stupid robots.
        I was just pouring a cup when Destiny came in. "John!" she said. "You look like hell!"
        "I feel like hell. All that damned climbing yesterday nearly killed me. And I still have to check the instruments and inspect the boat."
        "You did inspection yesterday. I thought inspections were weekly?"
        "Yeah, normally, but yesterday wasn't the least bit normal. I have to inspect that busted generator since it would have cooled enough by now, and the other one, too, since it's working harder now that there's only one."
        "Poor baby!"
        "Well, at least I don't have to inspect cargo today. Want to watch a movie later?"
        "Sure. Isn't it almost time to check your instrumentation?"
        "Yeah, it is." I kissed her. "See you in a while."
        I went towards the pilot room, which was really just outside my quarters. Yesterday I'd been wishing for a bicycle, today I was wishing for a cane.
        All the readouts were normal except one ï½ air pressure in the port generator was twenty kilopascal low. That wasn't a good sign at all, I was going to need a suit and tether in case a bulkhead blew while I was in there.
        I noted the log and stopped by our cabin... heh, "our cabin," how about that? Anyway I stopped to fill a bug mug and summon a medic.
        Medics are robots that look kind of like narrow tables with padded tops and appendages to measure bodily functions and administer medicine. Planetside they called them "gurneys" but everything is named different on a boat. Like port and starboard.
        I sat on the medic and ordered it to the port generator and got another robot on the fone to fetch the suit from the starboard hold where Destiny had gone out the airlock.
        After I'd suited up and tethered, the difference in pressure made it hard to get the hatch open. I tried a crowbar and couldn't even make it hiss. So I lowered the pressure where I was and the door popped open by itself. I took a floater with me to hunt for the leak.
        A floater is just a small balloon filled with helium with a small counterweight to make it gravity neutral. It goes where the air goes.
        I found where the air was escaping and patched it. Why can't they program robots to do that? Stupid robots, they could act as maids and medical doctors and all sorts of other functions but the damned things can't patch a hole or make a decent cup of coffee. At least they're cheap.
        The pressure was slowly rising so I sat on the medic and waited until it matched the rest of the ship so I could get out of the room. I hadn't needed the suit, but left it on just to keep my ears from popping.
        The gauge said pressure was normal so I tried the hatch. It opened easy, so I took off the suit and gave it to a robot and rode the medic back to my rooms.
        I was dying of thirst, even after downing that big glass of water when I took the naproxin. I said something to Destiny about it when I got back, taking another pill and drinking more water.
        She laughed. "You're dehydrated, dummy. You told me yesterday you thought you were going to drown in your suit from sweating. You probably need electrolytes, too."
        "And I'm hungry, I just didn't feel like eating when I got up. You hungry?"
        "I could eat. Robot eggs okay or do you want me to cook?"
        "No, robots cook okay as long as it doesn't involve coffee. How do you want your eggs?"
        "Ham and cheese omelette is okay, maybe with some hash browns."
        "Okay. Robot, a ham and cheese omelet, a Denver omelette, two hash browns and toast. No coffee!"
        Them damn robots suck at coffee, and they can't patch a hole at all. I'm glad they can cook.


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Journal: As long as we're quoting McArdle 11

Journal by smitty_one_each
We should note how wildly unimpressed she is with the new Census Bureau policy, which will add a little more sewage to the river of effluent that we know and love as ObamaCare.
Disgrace is the new pride, I suppose.
Ram_Digitstars isn't going to be happy until we get Single Prey-er, so hopefully this latest crap infusion helps him.
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Journal: Reality - Who Needs It? 20

Journal by damn_registrars
Yesterday's bait for the conservative circle-jerk sure worked out well. At this point it's barely 30 hours old and approaching 900 comments. Hell, my comment pulled in 70 replies and a dizzying number of moderations.

Included in those replies, though, was a a genuine you-win-the-internet-with-that-hyperpolic-nonsense reply. Not that this kind of conservative nonsense is new here, but the enthusiasm with which it was shared - even this late in the discussion - was impressive. The new user behind this has written only around 2 dozen comments to date, the oldest dating to last August.

I will say though, he made me laugh so hard at his nonsense that I felt compelled to reply. So I guess he trolled me fairly well.
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Journal: Obamacare is Not a Single-Payer Conspiracy [Bloomberg] 26

Journal by damn_registrars
Even columnists at conservative news sources are coming to realize it. This is from the same woman who wrote that Vermont's single payer aspirations would be terrible for taxpayers.

If Obamacare's insurance reforms break the market, that calculus still won't change: Most people will still have insurance they like, and they will not be willing to give it up in order to solve problems in the individual market -- which now covers about 5 percent of the population and is expected to ultimately cover something over that. Even if the individual market functionally disappears, most people will still be covered, and most politicians will be unwilling to endorse a program that takes away what they have. There is no path to single payer from even a spectacular Obamacare implosion -- for the same reason that there was no path to single payer before Obamacare was passed.


Ironically, single payer seems much more plausible if the system succeeds. One possible path along which the health-care law could develop is that more and more employers dump folks onto the exchanges, breaking the link between employment and insurance for millions of Americans. If that happens but other problems remain -- such as rising premiums -- then you can imagine a series of reforms that ultimately leads to single payer, probably starting with a public option. Employers would probably still provide supplemental health insurance as a benefit, the way some do in the U.K., but it would be a relatively cheap add-on, not a huge portion of your compensation package.

So dash your hopes and allay your fears. An Obamacare failure would be bad in many ways, and it would mean significant changes for the insurance market. But we're not getting the National Health Service anytime soon.

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Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Fifteen

Journal by mcgrew

        I started the long walk back to the pilot room wishing again for a bicycle or something.
        A robot wheeled past. Hell, I should just flag down a robot. But, of course there was a reason for not having transportation; I remembered the climb up the boat when the whores locked me out and how tiring it was. A body needs exercise and the most I was going to get on a boat with two-thirds gravity was walking.
        Destiny and Tammy were in the commons with a few other women; I say "women" because these were acting halfway civilized, despite their lack of clothing.
        "Done already?" Destiny asked.
        "No," I sighed. "Trouble. One of the generators blew out and we're off course again. I just saw you and thought I'd say 'hi', I can't stay. Too much damned work."
        "what do you have to do? How long will it take?"
        "I don't know. When I get us back on course I have to see what the robots are doing with the generator."
        "How bad is it?" Tammy asked. "How many generators are there?"
        "Only two. I wish this was an old tub, they originally had just one fission generator and got retrofitted with fusions. If our other generator dies it's batteries.
        "What then?"
        "We're late. But there isn't much chance of losing both generators. We'll be okay. But speaking of generators, I gotta go." I kissed Destiny and headed to the generator.
        It had cooled enough for the robots to go in to work, but was a bulkhead removed from where a human could tolerate it. I had two more engines I hadn't checked off so I inspected them. Of course, if there was anything wrong I'd have been clueless.
        The repair robots said the generator was shot.
        I walked past the commons to my quarters, Destiny and Tammy weren't in there although there were a few unclothed whores. Damn, ladies, put some pants on!
        Destiny and Tammy were in my living room drinking coffee. As I walked in, Destiny said "John, you're damned lucky Tammy's here."
        As I'd suspected. "You're supplying the drops," I said, sitting down.
        "The whores would have killed us without them."
        "How much you got?"
        "Enough to get to Mars?"
        "Don't worry. I know my chemistry, I know how much they need."
        I said "don't give any to the bitches in confinement."
        "You don't know what you're talking about. With drops they're harmless. Take them away, and well, it isn't pretty."
        I was confused. "What can they do locked up?"
        "They're liable to suicide."
        Crap. Losing cargo is a pretty bad thing.
        "Crap! Damn but I'm glad you're here. I'm going to suggest to the company that they send someone like you on all these runs."
        She laughed. "The company wouldn't want to spend the money necessary. The bean counters know how much loss is acceptable."
        Destiny said "I made coffee."
        "Thanks, but after the day I've had I want a beer."
        "I'm still trying to wake up," she said.
        "Yeah, you napped for a couple of hours after you went for a stroll outside. I would have thought the oxygen would have woke you up."
        "Actually it put me to sleep."
        Where the hell was that robot with my beer? "Robot! Beer, damn it, are you deaf?" A robot rolled over with my beer. I'm glad this boat has the older robots. The newer ones talk, and it's annoying as hell. If I want output from the computer I'll use my fone or tablet.
        Tammy said she had whores to study and excused herself. The robots made dinner and we watched some really dumb old movie from a couple hundred years ago, laughing all the way through it although they say when it was made, it was meant to be serious.
        Then we went to bed. I hoped tomorrow would be less stressful. My muscles all ached from the walking and climbing, I was going to be in pain the next day.

To Be Continued...

"If value corrupts then absolute value corrupts absolutely."