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Journal: Undercover police cars 2

Journal by Timex
I was on my way to work today and saw a State Trooper's car on the side of the road. I knew it was a State Trooper not because of the distinctive two-tone blue that cruisers have (this one was black), but because it had several antennas and a radar gun on the driver's side.

It reminded me of the graphic that has gone around on Facebook with a picture of a police car in Europe (bright colors designed to attract attention) compared with an American undercover police car (designed to look like any other car and not stick out in traffic). It occurs to me that there are a few different reasons why American police departments (on the state and local levels) might employ cars with stealth-ish designs, one or more of which may apply:
  • The police department may not be able to afford the number of officers required to patrol all parts of their jurisdiction. Having undercover cruisers means the people are going to be more careful about their habits in an attempt to not get ticketed.
  • The police department is attempting to generate revenue for their {State|Community} by catching people off-guard.

In the first case, it would make sense, and it kinda works after a fashion. That isn't what bothers me.

In the second case, it's sneaky and underhanded. My train of thought (such as it is) went on to consider the fact that when people hunt, they have legal restrictions on what they are allowed to do to bag their prey. They cannot set certain traps or route their prey into certain areas for the purpose of killing them. If a hunter is found to have employed entrapment techniques, the Games Warden will likely take the kill and the hunter could lose his hunting license.

Why are police allowed to get away with the same sort of thing?

User Journal

Journal: I'm shocked, SHOCKED! to hear they sifted the docs 3

Journal by smitty_one_each

As the House Select Committee on Benghazi prepares for its first hearing this week, a former State Department diplomat is coming forward with a startling allegation: Hillary Clinton confidants were part of an operation to "separate" damaging documents before they were turned over to the Accountability Review Board investigating security lapses surrounding the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya.

I sure am glad that both Harry "the Cadaver" Reid, plus Pravda on the Hudson (NYT) did such a stellar job on the case. They, and the sad little sycophant throne sniffers one encounters on this site, are encouraged to locate a large supply of shame and prepare to feel it in a big way.
On the other hand, the investigation could exonerate the whole sorry lying lot of them.
I may be wrong in my assessment, and will be happy to eat crow.
Also, the sun may rise in the West.

User Journal

Journal: More unsurprisingly conservative ads on slashdot 63

Journal by damn_registrars
I had a little bit of downtime yesterday afternoon with my phone in my hand and decided to see how awful slashdot is with the default browser on Android. It is - as one might expect - rather bad. More so, the front page actually had conservative advertisements on the page (beyond the usual collection of conservative stories). The first ad was touting Paul Ryan being scheduled to appear at a conference about medicare and medicaid. Being as I was not logged in to slashdot through my phone at all, this appears to be part of the new default set of ads served up to newbies.

Well done, slashdot. Might as well cater to your own base. You wouldn't want people to think that other opinions are welcomed here or anything.

PS - I liked it better when we had ads for mail-order-brides on the front page. At least that was something that performs a useful service. The GOP can't claim that.
User Journal

Journal: Conservative mindfuck 2

Journal by damn_registrars
The situation in Ukraine should be causing conservatives to collectively blow their gaskets, except that most of them discarded logic long ago. Let's examine their beliefs on the matter. Many conservatives believe:
  • That Obama is a communist (which is obviously wrong)
  • That Marxist communism was the dominant philosophy for most of the existence of the USSR (also obviously wrong)
  • That communism and fascism are in any meaningful way similar philosophically (also obviously wrong)
  • That Vladimir Putin is attempting to reinstate communism in Russia (also completely and utterly wrong)

If we were to suspend reality long enough to pretend that those statement are not all pure crap, we then have a bigger situation in current events to address - Obama vs. Putin over Ukraine. If the two were philosophically aligned, why would they be so doggedly opposed to letting the other get an upper hand in the situation? Surely, two communists should be able to agree on how to take over a third country for Marxist happiness, should they not?

... and of course, President Lawnchair is building (another!) "coalition of the willing".

User Journal

Journal: Android International 5

Journal by stoolpigeon

Google struggles dealing with people who are in one place but want to use a language from another place.

It's gotten better in chrome on a computer. I can pretty much search in chrome and get my results in English. But on android it's a mess.

When I search in Android Chrome - I get google.hu and I haven't found a way to get it to use google.com

Today I decided to start using 2 factor authentication with gmail. Seems like a good idea and it's free so why not? Once I turned it on and set it up on my computer then I went to my phone. On my Android phone it said, "Now you need to go to the web." and took me to a form in Hungarian. There was no option to switch it to English.

Everything in my phone is set to use English but this is all completely ignored in favor of where the browser has decided that I am physically located. Does that make sense to you? It does not make sense to me. I want it in US English - no matter where I am in the world.

It's a weird thing. On the one hand I love that they are willing to sms the codes to any number world wide (though I switched to the app). So in some ways they are way ahead of others. But then you run into something that is just so backwards. And finding a way to send feedback to Google? Not so easy.

User Journal

Journal: Subscriptions Are Over ~ Busy Penguin 2

Journal by stoolpigeon

I enquired about when subscription renewal would be available again and the reply I got was that the subscription process will not be coming back. Must not make enough income to make it worthwhile. I liked seeing stories a little early and would try to quickly email and warn of dupes when I could. But it is a business. So it goes.

A long, long time ago I registered a domain that I thought would be awesome to use for a number of purposes. SleepingArmadillo.com Actually I thought the best use of this would be as a name for a craft beer. But I thought it would be good for almost anything but I never actually did anything with it. I just had a static html page with a photo of a 'sleeping' armadillo taken on a road near my home when I was living in Florida.

I ended up selling it to a band. The page they have now has a cool little cover image - I like it. I didn't make any profit on the deal but I enjoyed doing it.

It made me want to register something else that may be useful someday. It's not easy to do. I ended up with busypenguin.com I have no idea what I'll do with it. Right now I think it could be a clever Linux site but I don't have the time or desire to do it. I don't think it would be a good beer name. Sleeping Armadillo was genius. Busy Penguin was just the best I could get that day. I like it, don't get me wrong, just not sure at all what I'll do with it.

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Fifty

Journal by mcgrew

Mars!
        John and Destiny left the houseboat parked on a space port pad they had rented at the spaceport at the Meridian Bay dome and got in a cab. Destiny said "I don't want to shop on an empty stomach. Taxi, take us to a restaurant that serves eggs and pork sausage this time of day."
        "Wow," John said. "That's going to be an expensive place."
        "Well, I'm buying. You said you never tried pork sausage, now's your chance, it's my treat. Besides, I've been thinking about pork sausage for half the trip and I don't want to wait any longer!"
        Dewey was on his way to Mars when he finished reading Knolls' report. He sipped on the coffee the captain had brought and switched on the news. They were digging the deep hole in Mars again.
        Plans were being made to tow the tragic Venus station to drop into the sun. It had been argued that if they dropped it on Venus it would incinerate from the friction with Venus' thick carbon dioxide atmosphere, but some lesser educated people were afraid that the disease might somehow survive Venus' hellish surface.
        Charles was back on TV talking about pirates. He was glad it was Charles and not him, Dewey hated TV cameras.
        He emailed Kowalski, telling him that when Kelly got back to Earth to have a couple of his best electrical engineers, one who was good with batteries and one that was good with engines, to talk to him and find out how he got a third gravity out of batteries. Nobody else had managed to do that before, and some engineers claimed it was physically impossible.
        John and Destiny were really busy on Mars the next few days, mostly shopping. First shopping for a wedding ring, then for real estate; they would buy a house and a bar. The houseboat was big as houseboats go, but was a bit small for someone as wealthy as Destiny who had lived all her life in very large homes, especially since the houseboat was half full of beer. After signing papers for the house they went for breakfast at a nice restaurant, where Destiny bought John another omelette and pork sausage. John wasn't any more impressed with this sausage than at the other restaurant.
        Then they visited Tammy in her hotel room. Her face was still a little bruised but she wasn't wearing the sling.
        "Hi, come on in, guys. Want some coffee?"
        "Sure," Destiny said. "So how are you coming with your research?"
        "Well, we haven't had time to do much except move them into the facility and acquaint them with it, but Rilla had really come a long way and Lek was almost cured already, at least from the physical withdrawal symptoms, by the time we got to Mars. She's to the point that withdrawal is still torture to her, but no longer deadly. She's still in mental and physical pain but she's not dropping any more. The physical pain should be gone in a few weeks. Of course, full therapy will probably take years."
        John said "Yes, Lek sure did change during the trip. This is great coffee, Tammy!"
        She laughed. "It's robot coffee!"
        "No way," John said.
        "Yep, and it's one of your company's robots that made it, too!"
        "No way in hell!" John exclaimed.
        "It's true," she said. "Your company updated all their coffeebots' operating systems and other programs. And it perks a whole pot of coffee in five minutes, and a cup in less than a minute. You have one of their robots, now it can make good coffee. I only found out because they're advertising it all over everywhere. I'm surprised you didn't notice."
        John said "I saw the ads, I just didn't believe them."
        Destiny laughed. "Dad must have tried a cup of his own robots' nasty coffee, I think he fired his head engineer. He should get here in another week."
        John said "Bill lands in two days. I'm still reeling from the trip here. God, but that was a damned nightmare!"
        They continued chatting a while before going home. They would be moving into their new home about the time Bill showed up two days later and would have more shopping to do; they would need furniture and appliances.
        John and Destiny met him at the spaceport, and they stopped at a bar for the beer he'd promised John. He bought John and Destiny several, in fact. John tried to buy a round and Bill wouldn't let him.
        "Excuse me, Bartender, but I want to buy a round," he said. The bartender told John what they cost.
        "Wow," he said. "That's pretty high! Is it like that everywhere here?"
        The bartender told him the reason was the cost of shipping it to Mars from Earth. He was going to clean up in the tavern business, it seemed, since Destiny would get a huge discount on shipping. He decided that while he was learning business he'd learn how to make beer and open a microbrewery in his tavern, too. He'd have really cheap beer, at least compared to other taverns, that he could sell for a huge profit and still be way cheaper than anyone else's if he could learn to make good beer.
        Bill said "Bartender, don't take his money, this is all on me. I have to write a damned report tomorrow, I don't know why" he said, turning to John.
        "I had to write one and they really wanted detail," John said. "Maybe they changed policies and everybody has to write reports now."
        A few days after that they met Dewey at the spaceport. After Dewey and his daughter hugged she said "Where's Mom?"
        Dewey said "Come on, Destiny, you know how your mom is. She's scared to death to even get on an airplane, let alone a space ship. I'm going to wear a camera at the wedding, though, so she'll be there in a way."
        He stuck out his hand. "Good seeing you again, John. That was some great work you did on that trip. We're going to be rewriting the book. I wish I could talk you out of retiring."
        "Well, thank you, Mister Green..."
        "Call me Dewey, John. You're family now."

Republicans

Journal: 9/11 versus Benghazi 1

Journal by damn_registrars
On "Patriot Day" this year it occurred to me that 9/11 and Benghazi have some interesting parallels. Indeed these parallels, when considered in the context of how completely different the conservative responses to them are, are indicative of how much the conservative right has changed in the past decade-plus.

The fact that the latter event occurred on the anniversary of the former is not lost, although there is no evidence to support that being more than a coincidence.

One of the biggest parallels of the two events is that both were followed by large government investigations. The publication of the findings of one became an instant best seller at bookstores around the country and beyond. The release of the other was preceded by partisan rhetoric from people who were convinced it was a cover-up.

Both events were tried as calls for action by conservative presidents. 9/11 was used as justification for the invasion of two countries - one that was a likely hiding place for the person pegged as the "mastermind" of the attack, and one that had nothing to do with it whatsoever. Quickly as the war drum beat deafeningly loud anyone who dared to question those attacks was labeled as "Un-American" and prepared for tarring and feathering. When the conservative president at 1600 Pennsylvania during the Benghazi attack suggested we change something, he was met with a deafening chorus of "not so fast, we have to try to impeach you first!".

The success of the 9/11 attacks were blamed on "uh, ummm, whatever - we couldn't have possibly known this was going to happen". The success of the Benghazi attacks were blamed squarely on the POTUS and his cabinet.

The 9/11 attacks lead to massive changes - including mandatory anal probes - at airport security for all passengers. The Benghazi attacks lead to more partisan attacks aimed at the White House.
User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Forty Nine

Journal by mcgrew

Landing
        The alarm woke me up. Still asleep I thought "damned whores" out of habit, thinking we were having an emergency before I remembered that we were due to enter orbit and I'd set the alarm myself the night before. We had been on approach since late yesterday afternoon and would be in orbit and docking with the maintenance facility at nine this morning. The landing boats would already be docked there and we would be on Mars' surface by late this afternoon.
        The alarm woke Destiny up, too, and she got up as I was making coffee. Destiny told the computer to make steak and scrambled eggs with toast, and we took a shower together.
        Wow! We were finally entering orbit around Mars and would be docking at nine and we hadn't died! Not yet, at least. The way this trip had gone we'd probably crash land on Mars, or get assassinated at the spaceport. I did have a price on my head, after all. Of course, they most likely didn't know my name or what I looked like, but the boat's new captain would probably be in danger.
        We put on the news and started eating breakfast and the doorbell rang. It was Tammy.
        "Hi, Tammy," Destiny said. "Want some breakfast?"
        "No, thanks," she said, "I already ate, but I'll take a cup of coffee if it isn't made by a robot. So, who's going to be your bridesmaid?"
        "Well, who do you think, silly," Destiny said. "You, of course. Who's going to be your best man, John?"
        "Bill, of course, but he won't be here for a week or more, he's on batteries."
        They started talking about clothes and I just kind of zoned out and nodded once in a while.
        At five 'til eight I went in the pilot room to finish getting us in orbit, and by eight thirty we were weightless and would be docking in a few minutes. I floated to my quarters.
        At quarter to nine the three of us started floating towards the docking bay that still worked without tearing up somebody else's docking bay and didn't have my boat attached, so we could meet the landing crafts' captains who would escort passenger and cargo to Mars. Then we'd take off in the houseboat and Tammy would go down with the droppers.
        I got on the PA. "Attention, ladies. Please assemble in docking bay one for landing."
        The boat docked a few minutes later as the droppers started showing up, and I greeted two of the three landing pilots, Tom Farley and Jim Woolsley. I'd known both of them for a few years, so we talked about old times as Destiny and Tammy said their goodbyes and cargo streamed in.
        They and Tammy started escorting the droppers to the landing boats while me and Destiny went to my houseboat to land on Mars. Lek walked by and said "Thank you, Captain."
        We undocked from the ship and flew down to Meridian spaceport together. Now if you guys will excuse me I need to buy a wedding ring.
        See you.

Next: Mars!

User Journal

Journal: Northern Ireland at Hungary

Journal by stoolpigeon

Went with some friends tonight to watch Hungary play Northern Ireland in their Euro Cup qualifier match.

It was held at Groupama Arena. It was my first time there and it is a very nice facility. We bought lower priced tickets but it still felt like we were very close, especially compared to what it is like at Ferenc PuskÃs Stadium.

It was 0 - 0 through the first 75 minutes. I felt like Hungary had the majority of the possession over that time and the bulk of the scoring chances. They had a corner and I told one of my friends, "It would be a shame if Hungary don't get something more than a draw out of this match." Seconds later they scored.

It was fun and I was pretty excited. Unfortunately Hungary appeared to finish playing defense at around 80 minutes and ended up losing 2 to 1. Really a disappointing result. They could have and should have won.

User Journal

Journal: Mars, Ho! Chapter Forty Eight

Journal by mcgrew

Engines
        We'd be in orbit around Mars and landing on the surface tomorrow. Only one more day of this horror movie! We might all live after all!
        Destiny was still asleep. I got out of bed and went to the head, went in the kitchen to start coffee (stupid robots) and put a robe on.
        Yeah, in that order. Fuck you.
        Anyway, I told the robots to make me some breakfast. Destiny got up and went in the kitchen while I got dressed. The robot was almost done frying my eggs and sausage and had started cooking hers.
        "Good morning!" she said. "Been up long?"
        "'Mornin', sweetheart. Maybe ten minutes. Computer," I said, "What time is it?"
        It read "Oh seven thirty three."
        We ate our breakfast and drank coffee and watched the news in the living room as the robots cleared the table. They were still trying to figure out what do do about Venus. It also had something about the battle the fleet fought, but Destiny said that they didn't mention me or her charity that the company was hauling for but they mentioned Bill's boat and its sabotage. I didn't get to see the whole thing. They had an interview with Mister Osbourne, but I had to go to the pilot room and I missed that part.
        We didn't need a course correction, but there were red lights on engines sixteen and eighteen, right next to seventeen. I shut those two down and the two next to them as well and went to inspect them, stopping at home to fill my coffee. There was some politician talking about shipping and pirates on the news while I was there.
        "Trouble?" Destiny asked, seeing my frown.
        "Only a little, we have two more broken engines right next to seventeen. I'm going down to inspect them now."
        I was astonished when I walked past the commons and saw Tammy talking to the German woman, and the German lady was actually wearing clothes!
        I trudged down the five damned flights of stairs and inspected engines fifteen through nineteen first. Sixteen and eighteen had shorted out like seventeen, so I left fifteen and nineteen shut down as well in case it was something spreading from one engine to another like they did on that Titan run, and I ordered the computer to leave all five alone. The book doesn't say to do that and I don't know how those engines work, but I saw a pattern here and I wasn't going to take any chances, anyway. I plugged repairbots in diagnostic mode into the four I'd shut off, hoping they wouldn't melt like the two that had tried to fix the dead number seventeen, but maybe they could record something engineering could use.
        I logged it all, but the rest of the motors and the working generator were exactly like the tablet said they were supposed to be. Busy morning!
        I trudged up all those damned stairs and took off my nasty boots and went straight to the shower. UGH! Damn but it was nasty down there.
        I put on clean clothes and inspected cargo next, thankfully for the last time; no more inspections. Tomorrow morning we would dock at the repair facility and Destiny and me would leave on the houseboat, and the company's boat and the stench downstairs would be somebody else's problem. I couldn't wait to get off of that damned boat!
        The only ones who were in their rooms were all asleep, and the rest were in the commons, maybe thirty or so. It was noon, I was hungry, and decided to finish inspections after lunch.
        "Done already?" Destiny asked.
        "No, I was downstairs longer than normal. I still have to inspect the passenger section and the commons and the sick bay. Want to go for a walk with me after lunch? I'm starved."
        "Sure," she said. "Robot, two rare ribeye steaks, mashed potatoes and gravy, and coleslaw."
        We ate, and she came along as I finished my inspection. I did the commons last, and by then the only two people in there were Lek and the German woman. Lek was drinking coffee and the blonde was eating some kind of sandwich, and both of them were wearing clothes. I guess the blonde didn't want to be an animal, either. It was nice seeing people in the commons and nobody was naked for a change. Destiny said "hello, ladies, I like your dresses." Lek said "Cup coon mock; oops, that Thai for âthank you very muchâ(TM)."
        The heavy German woman said "thank you" in her heavy German accent as well.
        We were due to enter orbit around Mars the next morning, so Destiny came in the pilot room with me as I watched over the computers for our final approach. "You're going to be happy and the droppers are going to hate it," I said. "We'll be weightless when we enter orbit and dock tomorrow."
        We had walked slowly and by then it was almost suppertime, so when I finished getting us ready to go into orbit we went home and had the robot make pizza and bring us each a beer. I'm getting used to Newcastle, I might keep drinking it on Mars. Well, I was going to have to drink Newcastle for a while anyway, because I still had an awful lot of it crammed in my houseboat. I don't get many chances to drink much of it on a journey. My boat's half full of beer!
        After supper we moved our luggage to the houseboat, and Destiny put on the third Lord of the Rings movie and we ate the pizza while we watched the beginning of the movie, then we cuddled while we watched the rest of it.
        Those are some a long movies! We listened to some Vaughn and then went to bed. I told the computer to wake me up at six.

Next: Landing

User Journal

Journal: Odds and Ends 1

Journal by mcgrew

scriptis Interruptus
I've been spending six to ten hours a day, seven days a week, working on Mars, Ho!. But not Wednesday; Wednesday I visited a surgeon. It was the least fun I've had since my last eye surgery in 2007.

I've had a serious case of advanced periodontitis for several years. Surgery for the condition was scheduled for this past Wednesday. The anesthetic was painful as hell; the guy was a lot better at cutting than at sticking. There was a sharp stab of pain when one of the teeth came out, too. Scraping the bone and suturing didn't hurt... yet. He inserted my new dentures, the nurse inserted gauze, and I couldn't get my lips together because of the swelling and the gauze. My clothing was bloody by the time I came home. I was deeply uncomfortable.

When the anesthetic wore off I was in severe, extreme pain. I'd been prescribed a bottle of hydrocodone pills for the pain, but I refrained from taking them because I've never liked the opioids. I took naproxin (generic Alieve, same drig at 1/3 the price) instead, despite the fact that I knew it would make the bleeding worse.

By eight thirty I broke down and took a hydrocodone. I can see why people with chronic pain get addicted to those things, because the pain went away completely a half hour after taking it. Like any addictive drug, long term use causes tolerance for the drug and the user needs more and more for the same effect. It didn't seem to dull my mind like the opiates I took after that car wreck in 1976, although like codiene it made me itch all over. Far better than the excruciating pain I'd been in.

By midnight I felt like I might be able to sleep. I rinsed my mouth out with the prescription antibiotic mouthwast they had prescribed, took another hydrocodone and another naproxin and went to bed.

I didn't sleep well; the teeth kept waking me up. I was up and drinking coffee by six AM. I took another naproxin and hydrocodone as soon as I woke up, and used the nasty mouthwash that I have to use three times a day. At eleven I visited the dentist, who adjusted the appliance and made it much less painful. I didn't need any more pills, although the dentures are gooing to need more adjustment.

I went through sixteen chapters after the dentist, made nine changes, and left the book five words shorter than it had been Tuesday. It's getting closer and closer to being finished.

I didn't have to wear my teeth last night. I slept like a log. My mouth was fine when I woke up, but it was hard getting the teeth in. They look good, but so far I can't eat with them; all I had yesterday was soup. I couldn't even eat cottage cheese. All I'd eaten the day before was breakfast, but I had no appetite whatever after the surgery.

I did manage to eat an egg this morning, but barely. This will take some time.

I'll post another Mars, Ho! chapter tomorrow; there are only three left.

Nobots
I've changed the format of the paperback version of the book. It's now "pocket book" size, still seven bucks.

Paleobiology
Yesterday's Ilinois Times had an article that will be of interest to those who have an interest in paleobiology, and face it -- we're nerds, if it's science or technology we're interested.

The article is titled 300 million years ago, and I found it fascinating.

A warm, moist breeze blows through the swampy forest at what is now Danville, Illinois. An eight-foot-long millipede scurries by. Nearby, a dragonfly with a foot-wide wingspan zips through the 100-foot-tall fern trees. Itâ(TM)s 300 million years before the present day â" before the supercontinent Pangaea broke apart, and long before any dinosaurs walked the earth.

That swampy forest has survived for millions of years as a field of fossils buried 250 feet below the surface near Danville. Discovered in 2007 in the Riola and Vermillion Grove coal mines, the forest has given scientists important clues about Illinoisâ(TM) ancient past.

The article is four pages long in its printed version (free almost anywhere around here).

And no, I'm not affiliated with that newspaper.

"Let every man teach his son, teach his daughter, that labor is honorable." -- Robert G. Ingersoll

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