Crimping versus Soldering

The world is full of analyses like this one that confidently perform crimping to be better than soldering. The real world is not nearly so simple.

Yes, a properly executed crimp connection with a quality crimp connector is by all measures superior. The devil is in those weasel words.

Given that it is possible for a crimped connection to be superior to a soldered one, and given that crimping is faster than soldering, why would anyone solder? Soldering when connections can be crimped seems obsolete.

That is how many retail hardware stores promote crimping, often in a big blister pack with cheap crimp connectors and a cheap crimping tool like this one. Well, good luck with that. It takes a skilled craftsman to execute a quality crimp with a cheapo tool and cheapo connectors. It is, in fact, easier to learn to solder.

An anecdote to close: When I worked in IT support, the department purchased a cheap crimping tool, that could crimp both 6 and 8-position modular connectors, and some bulk cable. No longer would custom lengths of cable need to be special ordered.

Those crimps were responsible for trouble ticket after trouble ticket. When I broke the crimpers in the attempt to exert enough force for a quality crimp, I put my foot down and insisted they spend over $100 on a name-brand, quality crimping tool and set of crimping dies. It was money well spent, because the number of trouble tickets dropped to zero on connectors crimped with it.

It’s not that bad with standard wire crimp connectors; $25 or so can get you a good, compound-action, ratchet-based crimping tool. Even then, it’s good to budget in some practicing, and learning how to recognize a bad crimp. But again, that’s not how crimping is sold. Most of those crimp kits don’t even cost $25 total, and no mention is made of skill development.

Personally, I solder. Already have a soldering iron and know how to use it as a result of messing with electronics for many years, and I don’t splice wires often enough to justify the expense of a crimping tools, the clutter managment headaches of maintaining a stock of crimp connectors, and so on.

Danger, Joe Biden, Danger!

Make no mistake, the refugee crisis along the southern border represents a real danger for Biden and a real opportunity for the fascists.

The Democrats are already swimming against the tide: their majority in Congress is razor-thin, and midterm elections tend to go badly for the party that occupies the White House. A refugee crisis would be just the thing the fascists need to whip up their base and get people to forget what a disaster Trump was.

Remember how the Trump regime was rightly excoriated for the deliberate cruelty of its policy of separating children from their families? Well, now unaccompanied minors are showing up en masse at the border, asking for refugee status. They have, in other words, been pre-separated from their families, largely by the actions of those families themselves.

What does that say, that large numbers of families are now willing to impose the same cruelty on their children that hateful fascists once wished on them? The most logical explanation, I think, is that families are doing so because the conditions the children are experiencing when with their families, both in the refugee camps, and before the families fled their home countries, is so bad that, as bad as child separation is, it is being judged as better for the affected children.

Conditions, in other words, must be really bad for those refugee families.

Any solution to the crisis must therefore be focused on resolving that problem, and not just making things more difficult at the border itself. Such latter measures are unlikely to work very well. Most likely a massive military deployment (with shoot-to-kill orders), and the impressment of the survivors into Nazi-esque forced labor and death camps would do the trick, but obviously that’s beyond the pale for any civilized country to so much as contemplate.

Measures that fall much short of that are unlikely to be sufficiently discouraging. Remember, families are already volunteering to send their children into concentration camps that fall short of death camps. The border wall is both incomplete and porous (it is easy to defeat with standard tools, and smaller individuals, such as children, can squeeze through the slats).

The conditions that are pushing refugees across the border must be addressed. The quickest short-term fix would probably be to fund improvements at the holding camps in Mexico. Once COVID-19 is under better control, we can (and should) resume admitting refugees, and on a widespread scale.

The fascists will howl that the latter is being done to destroy their vision of America, and they would be right. This is very much a reason why we need more immigration to the USA.

Letting more immigrants in is good for many reasons, and one of those reasons is that it dilutes the power of the fascists, because recent immigrants tend not to become fascists. Immigrants, as a rule, simply make for better citizens of an open and free society than does Trump’s base of Christian fascists. It is probably politically toxic to admit this, however, so don’t expect any establishment figures to do so. (Such frankness is something I can get away with, because I am just a semi-anonymous nobody with a blog.)

That said, however, it is far better to not be compelled to flee one’s country of birth in the first place than to be admitted as a refugee in a foreign country. That is going to be a harder nut for establishment politics to crack, because it means questioning U.S. neo-imperialism, which is directly responsible for regimes like the one in Honduras (installed with the approval of the Obama administration) that are prompting so many to become refugees in the first place.

The bottom line is that Biden must move swiftly and decisively on addressing the issues that are forcing Central Americans to move north. Failure to do so would not only be a moral weakness, but a weakness from the standpoint of realpolitik as well.

Dumb Dems, Part Two?

In one of my more obvious (to me) insights, I correctly predicted that the Democrats would end up sorely regretting their decision to go nuclear in 2013.

Well, here we go again.

Or do we? The most likely measures fall short of an outright kill of the filibuster and are more a scaling-back of it. Of course, as the article linked above argues, that is likely to beget further scalings-back.

One thing that bears pointing out is that weakening the filibuster is less Constitutionally harmful than the continued evolution of an imperial presidency, and the latter becomes more likely if Congress is paralyzed by an unweakend filibuster. The filibuster is mentioned nowhere in the U.S. Constitution; it is merely one of the many “Rules of its Proceedings” the Senate chose to establish for itself per Article I Section 5, and it can just as easily weaken or abolish that provision as it first created and then strengthened it.

Yes, strengthened it. It is far easier to filibuster something today than it has historically been. A filibuster is nowadays mostly a simple matter of paperwork. It used to be the case that Senators opposing the measure had to actually be physically present and take turns speaking in order to talk a bill to death. In fact, returning to this past state of affairs is probably the most likely measure to be enacted.

In a real sense, this time, there is less room to maneuver. Fail to pass a new civil rights bill, and we head into a new Jim Crow era of near-permanent minority rule. So the Democrats’ hand is being forced in a way that it was not in 2013.

But this does not in any way change what Ruth Marcus wrote in the article linked above; a backlash is still likely to come. It is one reason for my general pessimism about the political future of the United States.

Relations with China Will Not Get Better

Really, this should come as about zero surprise; in fact, I predicted it back in 2019. (That was pre-pandemic, and I got many of the specifics wrong, but the general gist of relations swirling down the toilet with China not just being all Trump’s fault has aged well.)

Many Marxists foolishly supported (or refused to oppose) tyranny in the USSR, falsely believing that the principles of socialism would inevitably produce freedom despite the immediate result of the revolution in Russia producing a new and more oppressive tyranny. Many on the Right criticize such naïveté, and rightly so.

Well, it was equally stupid to think that a totalitarian dictatorship could inevitably be steered towards becoming an open society by the magic of capitalism and markets. Capitalism has proven itself compatible with states of profound unfreedom more than once, so it should come as no surprise to see it exhibit compatibility with so-called “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

A falling-out was going to happen regardless of Trump, so it should be no surprise that the end of the Trump era has not changed the general downward spiral of US/China relations.

A Nearer Miss than Many May Realize

On Thursday I said there was a chance of snow tonight into tomorrow morning (note the emphasis). At that time, it really looked as if the models might be converging on that forecast. But, it was still a ways out and they had not settled on lowland snow for very long, so I had my doubts.

Well, it’s not happening. My skepticism was borne out: the storm tracked further north, keeping the coldest air further north. The front also made landfall a bit earlier.

But we actually came fairly close to getting some lowland snow. Here is a capture from a highway cam near Port McNeill, BC (near sea level at the northern end of Vancouver Island) this morning. Pretty snowy.