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User Journal

Journal Journal: A draw 20

I'm thinking actually the Iowa results are the way the country should go. What we actually need is for Clinton and Sanders to share the presidency.

Sure, the constitution says nothing about presidential sharing. But it doesn't actually contain any language that rules it out either, limiting the presidency to one person (er, it probably does actually, it does say "Natural born citizen" which would probably be interpreted as singular by those fussy pedants at the supreme court, but I'm a true American, and like most strict constitutionalists, I say the constitution means whatever I can twist it to mean that I think would be good), so rather than continue with this wholly unnecessary primary nonsense, which is divisive and will just end up with us fighting each other, why don't we have Clinton and Bernie run together.

As equals, I mean, not as President/Vice President.

Think about it. Bernie can be the ideas person, the person who says "Look, let's get rid of that stupid hack Obamacare BS and bring in single payer, and also let's take all the Koch brother's money away.", and Clinton can use her honed political skills to get these policies actually passed.

We can make Ted Cruz vice president, nominally to be bipartisan, but actually so we have something to threaten the Republican establishment with if they don't do what we ask them to. "Oh, you wouldn't want us to resign and have your favorite Canadian become President would you?" "OK, OK, you win Hillary, improved infrastructure spending it is!"

What do you think?

User Journal

Journal Journal: And the loser is 12

Cruz.

Son, if you can't keep Marco Rubio, of all people, more than 5 points away in Iowa, of all places, you do not have what it takes. Go home.

Alright folks, now that the writing is on the wall, let's place our bets on Trump's demise. I'm thinking he's in until at least Super Tuesday. Maybe the better question is, how much more damage is he going to do before that?

Democrats

Journal Journal: Though we laugh at the choice before serious Republicans... 4

...as a Democrat I increasingly don't like the options available to us too.

Sanders will get nothing done. Nothing. Four years of no government in the middle of what will probably be a repeat of the 2008 recession. He'll be even more ineffectual than Obama. And Clinton will head in the wrong direction with what she does get done.

I actually wonder if a third party would stand a chance of actually winning in this climate - at least for Clinton vs Trump anyway. Unfortunately I can't really think of anyone who'd win who'd be good, though they might be mildly better than the party candidates.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Liberal Media update 16

Sadly, still not all that liberal:

Donald Trump is by far the most newsworthy storyline of Campaign 2016, alone accounting for almost a third of all coverage (327 mins or 32%), more than the entire Democratic contest combined.

Ubuntu

Journal Journal: My hard drive crashed and I'm kinda happy about it 9

I'm not happy about the data I lost, though it could have been a lot worse. The file system is mostly accessible and more files than I first thought are recoverable. I'm also fairly sure the really important stuff is in multiple places.

But... I ordered a replacement, which was an SSD. I had the choice between a HD of approximately the same size as the one I was replacing, or an SSD of 2/3 of the size for the same price. Given the likely cause of the crash was that my laptop had been pulled onto the floor a few times by my toddler, and probably not helped by it bouncing on my lap over the last four years, SSD seemed like a good idea.

And it was. My machine is completely silent, and feels a lot faster. Which makes me happy.

So then, because Ubuntu hasn't been entirely going in the right direction lately, I did some experimenting with alternatives. Fedora was... unstable enough during installation and set up for me to feel it probably wasn't the way to go. So then I tried Mint. Have you tried Mint? Mint is Ubuntu. No, really, it is, the repositories are the same with one addition. But that one addition? That's a bunch of packages designed to fix Ubuntu.

With Fedora I tried GNOME Shell (not really my thing), GNOME Classic (God awful, what the hell is wrong with these people?), and Cinnamon (what GNOME Classic should have been - wonderful.)

And so I installed Mint with Cinnamon. And it installed without any problems, and made it easy to set up the proprietary drivers for my laptop, and "just works" because it's really Ubuntu in disguise, and it all works. Which makes me happy.

But I missed having Mac style menus at the top. And found there was a plug-in/applet/whatever for Cinnamon that does just that. And it turned out all you had to do to install it was download a zip'd snapshot from Github, and unzip it to a directory inside .config, and install some Ubuntu packages, and then enable it and reboot.

And it worked. Which makes me happy.

And finally I reinstalled Steam. And checked which games I had were capable of being installed under GNU/Linux without Wine. And Saints Row IV was one of them. Which makes me happy.

So, I could get upset about the missing data. But I'm hopeful I haven't lost anything important that isn't backed up somewhere else. And obviously I'd have rather not paid money for a new drive and a USB SATA adapter.

But somehow I seem to have ended up with a much nicer computer at the end of it. Sometimes the Universe balances itself out.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Nostalgia 15

Welp, looks like the Benghazi/Emailgate scandal is done with, seeing as all the right wing noise machines have shifted over to their new tactic to derail the Clinton campaign.

Can you guess what they think will do the trick this time?

That's right kids, it's Bill Clinton's sex life!

Apparently, his peccadilloes, insufficient to stop him being elected in '92 and re-elected in '96, not to mention boring enough to not warrant impeachment in '98, are the new secret weapon that's going to wipe Hillary off the face of the earth. One of the arguments brought up on Hannity's radio show yesterday, and I shit you not, was that we hadn't had a solid discussion of Billo's improprieties in a good long while, so it would be nice and fresh to exhume, particularly for millennials.

I mean, I can kinda see the logic here. Feminism (and the public perception thereof), has come a ways since those flannel and coffee days of yore, so why not see if we can round up a new jury, re-litigate, and get a different result?

Now, quite apart from the fact that Hillary is not Bill, there are at least three serious flaws with this plan: Number one, you have a lot of room for unforced errors. If you fuck up even slightly (or hell, if her campaign is the least bit competent), she can ju-jitsu this shit in a heartbeat to her benefit.

Second, the voters who are actually the target of this strategy, independents and women, aren't going to overwhelmingly switch away from her in disgust because they were previously unaware that her husband's a bit of a creep.

Lastly, the very specific people you're trying to agitate with this are the people you happily and routinely make fun of: College kids, feminists, SJWs, and most of Tumblr. I'm not going to claim that any of these groups are super-smart, but they're smart enough to see through that kind of concern trolling.

User Journal

Journal Journal: RIP Ian Murdock

And what the hell has happened to Slashdot? It seems the jerk quotient at Slashdot hit near infinity when Gamergate happened.

User Journal

Journal Journal: The Force Awakens 9

Can't believe I'm about to write this...but the prequels were better. Which is a shame, since the cast were obviously working their asses off (including a rare, actual performance form Harrison Ford).

First Person Shooters (Games)

Journal Journal: Changing the culture 3

Partially a response to Captain Splendid's comment in my last journal entry, but it raised wider issues so posted and expanded upon here instead:

Gun culture is a cultural thing, not a legal thing. I don't think modifying the 2nd Amendment would do much other than piss a large section of society off (and as I've said elsewhere, there are moral issues with criminalizing people obeying a basic human instinct.) It might impact the culture, but, as with the War on Drugs, the impact may well be a net negative.

It's also far from clear that gun culture per-se is responsible for mass shootings. But assuming it is, it seems to me that changing the culture wouldn't involve reducing access, so much as changing the way people access guns. The Swiss don't seem to have a problem with gun culture, yet weapons characterized by American politicians as "assault weapons" are not merely commonly privately owned, but the government actively encourages ownership of a specific semi-automatic rifle. The difference is the circumstances in which you get them (which unfortunately includes mandatory military service for all adult males - which won't fly here) and careful control over access to ammunition.

Does the Swiss attitude change the culture though? Probably not. It might make it harder to use the supplied rifle for mass shootings, but as I've explained before, long heavy bulky difficult-to-conceal rifles aren't optimal for that anyway and aren't usually the primary weapon in mass shootings. I would suggest that the Swiss framework for gun ownership is actually a reflection of its culture, not vice versa.

So what is the solution? I'm buggered if I know. One idiot thinks that view combined with opposing the return of AWB is the same as being opposed to fixing the problem, which is kinda like a non-doctor being told they're against someone being treated for cancer because they oppose trepanning being the treatment, but I'd hope my audience in general is smarter than that.

A repeal of the 2nd Amendment, and a blanket ban on all guns with magazines carrying more than, say, three bullets, is a potential solution to mass shootings, as it would make them close to impossible (though let's be clear, they'd still happen very occasionally), but the chances of that happening are zero, and there would be other negative effects caused by an attempt to implement such a law in the US. I'd not be in favor of this. And again, there's the whole culture thing.

At best I can say things like "If we did this practical and reasonable thing, it might not reduce the number of mass shootings, but it might reduce the numbers of deaths in them": for example, discouraging handgun ownership (and encouraging rifles being used in their stead) would probably reduce the overall death count, but it wouldn't reduce the number of mass shootings, it wouldn't attack their causes or prevent them from happening.

Not ideal is it? That's why we need to focus on culture - not gun culture as such, but on the general culture - in particular the attitude that says you can resolve problems with the deaths of others. Want to stop mass shootings? You know I suspect abolishing the death penalty, and having our community, cultural, and political leaders actually start treating war as an abomination rather than a thing we should do to show those pesky Hitlers-of-the-day how "strong" we are, would probably achieve much more.

User Journal

Journal Journal: KIC 8462852 -- Comets In Vogue But ET Not Out Of The Running Yet

Response to Washington Post Article: âAlien megastructureâ(TM) continues to not be aliens in latest study

I responded to the WP directly, but here is the original composition which is a little longer than the 2000 character limit on WP submissions.

It is hard to put odds on whether Aliens are responsible for the odd light occlusions of KIC 8462852. The failure of the ATA to detect radio signals was a small blow as is this more recent LASER pulse detection failure. However, both pretty much have to rely on enormously strong signals being transmitted directly at us continuously (or at least with reasonably short rapidity) for us to detect anything.

Since Earth had no technological footprint 2800 years ago (the minimum turnaround time for the aliens to notice and respond) it is doubtful they would spend much effort to communicate with us.

If they are building truly gigantic structures it does seem likely there would be a lot of stray emissions, but 1400 light years is a vast distance to detect leakage radiation â" maybe they donâ(TM)t leak much (as time goes on technologies tend to become more efficient).

We really havenâ(TM)t trained our big guns on this system yet. China will be completing a 500 meter radio dish in 2016, I suspect this would be an excellent target for it to study. Sometime in the early 2020â(TM)s the SKA will be coming on line. If this behemoth detects nothing from KIC 8462852 I might be ready to throw in the towel.

As to the cometary theory currently in vogue, nothing really supports it strongly, it is just that the other natural hypothesis of planetary collisions was ruled out, leaving it the only natural theory standing. Most comets have enormous elliptical orbits or parabolic trajectories. The comet theory supposes a pass by an enormous comet in 2011 and then a swarm in 2013 (we missed opportunities in 2015 for detection due to one of Keplerâ(TM)s reactions wheel being out of service). If in 2017 we see another large occlusion event, then this will be the end of the comet theory. Also we will know if the occlusion is dust or gas. If not dust or gas â" then Aliens it will be.

As to this structure being a Dyson sphere â" this I doubt. Generating energy directly by fusion is probably trivial for any society even a few decades more than ours. Likely they would fuse hydrogen directly rather than create enormous structures to harvest it. If this is an alien structure I think it far more likely it is an enormous telescope of some sort. In any event Who knows what artifacts intellects thousands or millions of years older than us would construct or why.

As to whether this system is old enough to evolved intelligent life, we only have one example of how fast evolution works to create intelligent, technological capable life. Fast examples could occur far faster (we just have no way of knowing whether we are average, fast, or slow). This also assumes the system engineering would have to be by beings native to this system. If artificial, its creators could have come from virtually anywhere, and chosen this system based on criteria we donâ(TM)t have the intellectual capacity to comprehend (yet).

I for one will be on pins and needles until 2017 comes and goes. Of course there is also the mystery of Fast Radio Bursts to ponder as well. I suspect this will be the decade we finally know we are not alone.

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