Another Ugly Truth

Published at 08:45 on 30 May 2012

Is that my first attempt at scabies treatment failed so it’s time to start another, more thorough and expensive, one. I’ll be off line for most of a week because this treatment involves leaving my apartment for a week with basically only the clothes on my back, because one likely possibility is that I am infected with hypervirulent scabies mites and I reinfected myself while attempting to cleanse infected items.

The Ugly Truth Starts to Come Out

Published at 08:19 on 30 May 2012

And that’s that the ill-considered initiative measure to privatize liquor sales in Washington State is certain to increase prices. The Establishment media is at this late hour, one week before the state liquor stores close for good, starting to feebly offer the caution that prices “might” go up.

Really, now, how couldn’t they? One of the measure’s selling points, trumpeted by its advocates, was that it would not reduce revenues to the state; the legislation was crafted to be revenue neutral. And capitalists are capitalists: in the retail liquor business, as in any business, the goal of business is to make a profit.

So, the state is still making its profit. To that picture, we now add capitalists taking their cut. Just where is that money going to come from? Does anyone honestly think the new for-profit liquor stores are going to harvest C-notes from a secret orchard of money trees and make their money that way? This is not rocket science we are talking about.

Sure, some of it is going to come from union-busting and pushing worker pay down. But that can only go so far. The advocates of paying workers less always overestimate the profits for owners that this will generate.

In short, prices will go up. It’s as close a thing to a future certainty that a simple economic analysis can predict.

Die, Fuckers! DIE!!!!

Published at 21:33 on 22 May 2012

Today I went to the doctor, expecting to launch a protracted odyssey trying to figure out how to find the root cause of a mysterious (and increasingly annoying to the point of becoming intolerable) allergic itch that has been plaguing me ever since I moved. That’s because allergies, particularly chemical sensitivity ones, are not something that Western medicine understands very well.

Instead, Western medicine, in the personage of my physician, took one look at me and informed me I had scabies. Not having had any intimate contact in years, the only plausible way I could have gotten it is via some re-used box utilized by the movers to pack my bedding. Which I believe they did, given that they showed early in the morning before I had much chance to pack it myself.

The good news is that it’s something Western medicine understands very well and has excellent treatments for. The bad news is that I now have to try and decontaminate any piece of cloth I might have touched in the past several days. That, and, and the fact that killing the little bastards responsible doesn’t make the damnable itch go away promptly.

Clouds, the Bane of Astronomy in the Pacific Northwest

Published at 16:56 on 20 May 2012

Mind you, in general I’m happy to live in a place where I don’t feel continually under assault by overly-strong sunlight which is threatening to burn my skin, but whenever something in the skies grabs my interest, sometimes I end up wishing I lived someplace that wasn’t so continually cloudy.

And so it is today, when the eclipse is happening above a thick layer of overcast which has about zero chance of clearing. And the normal trick of going to the eastern side of the Cascades is of no help today; today’s storm is one of those strong enough to make it across the mountains.


Avoid the Motorola SBG901

Published at 15:16 on 20 May 2012

If you’re in the market for a DOCSIS 2.0 cable modem, I suggest you avoid the Motorola SBG901. Based on my experience, they’re pieces of unreliable junk.

I’ve now tried two, and they both exhibit the same symptom of continually rebooting themselves (causing a lost connection) every few minutes. The modem I’m presently renting from my broadband provider, the Ambit U10C018, almost never does this, so it’s not an issue of my signal from the cable company being weak or unreliable.

Given that two completely different samples have behaved in the same way, I would also have to say that the odds of this being two random defects are pretty low. It appears to be a design defect of this product. A Google search on “motorola sbg901 keeps rebooting” comes up with more than a few matches of others who have run into my problem, which provides further  evidence of a design defect.

It’s a pity, as the Motorola product has the desirable feature of combining a wireless access point with a cable modem in one box.

A Subtle Difference, Perhaps, But an Important One

Published at 09:36 on 12 May 2012

The ease at which information can easily be distorted by propagandists is illustrated by this article, which exhibits confusion about two distinct statements, which the author erroneously assumes are contradictory.

The first statement, made by MIT meteorologist Kerry Emanuel, is that it is not possible to point to global warming as the cause for any one outbreak of abnormally warm weather. The second, made by NASA climatologist James E. Hansen, is that there is statistical evidence that global warming is already making outbreaks of abnormally warm weather significantly more common than they used to be.

There is no contradiction between the two, because Emanuel’s claim is about specific events and Hansen’s is about overall trends. It’s just the sort of claims one would expect each to make: Emanuel specializes in studying short-term phenomena, while Hansen specializes in long-term ones. That’s the difference between meteorology and climatology.

It’s like a set of dice loaded to make snake eyes come up more frequently: when a roll comes up double ones, it is not possible to say if the loaded dice are responsible for this outcome or not. (Fair dice sometimes do come up snake eyes, after all.)

This is also why a record cold spell is by itself no evidence against global warming. Even loaded dice will occasionally land on sides not favored by the loading.

The New Face of Government Repression

Published at 20:12 on 1 May 2012

We won’t simply arrest you for having dissident views, because that wouldn’t stand court challenges.

What we will do is infiltrate your groups, and use every mind trick in the book to convince you and your comrades to go over the top and do things like plot to blow up a highway bridge, then we’ll arrest you and prosecute for that. That will stand up in court, because plotting to blow up a bridge is actually a crime.

And it’s obvious that’s exactly what the FBI did in this case. Both the dummy explosives (who else sells radical groups dummy explosives?), and this dead giveaway of a quote make it crystal clear:

Officials say the plot evolved from an idea to use smoke grenades to distract law enforcement while they destroyed financial institution signs on highrises across downtown Cleveland.

I mean, really now, how does the FBI know how the plot evolved over time without having infiltrated the group in the first place?

Keep that in mind while listening to the Establishment media hyperventilate over this story. This plot would have simply never happened in the form it did without the intervention of those who purport to be protecting society from such plots.

A Reason for Hope

Published at 20:05 on 1 May 2012

Twenty years ago, May Day tended to pass unnoticed in most major American cities. There would be the odd small gathering or event here or there, many of them sponsored by creepy Stalinist cult groups aping the politics of the thoroughly disgusting Soviet bloc nations who had stolen the label of the radical Left and cloaked their tyranny in it.

It was but a dream that there would be enough people upset at what the capitalist hierarchy was doing to people and the planet to make a newsworthy disruption or two. That only happened in Europe, and served to reinforce that May Day as a political day of action was a European concept that was foreign to the United States.

Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. That meaning of May Day got its start in the heart of America, in Chicago in 1886. But I digress.

It was but a wish that anything close to that level of political consciousness could ever arise in the seemingly terminally passive and class-unconscious United States. Yet it has. Exaggerated and misreported though today’s events may be, it’s become a big enough thing in Seattle and a number of other cities that the one thing the Establishment media cannot do anymore is simply ignore it.

It’s a painfully slow process, and a messy one as well, but it’s underway at least. May it continue so that by the time I’m old and dying I can at least say I’ve lived through and participated in one of history’s more hopeful eras.

Mayday! Mayday!

Published at 19:43 on 1 May 2012

I sat much of it out, having only recently stared a new job and thus being unwilling to take leave time so early on. I did catch a bit of the tail end of the day of demonstrations, however, and have several observations to share.

First, the fearmongering. At work they forwarded a e-mail from the Downtown Seattle Association (my job is downtown) basically predicting that the apocalypse was going to break out today. Nothing of the sort happened, of course. On the block where my employer’s building is located, nothing out of the usual ever became visible, and it is only a few blocks from Westlake Park, which was one of the focal points of today’s action. At Westlake, tourists were posing using the rally as a backdrop.

Second, the yellow journalism. Many of my co-workers were nervously following the Establishment media’s web sites today. Most were smart enough to figure out that there was something fishy going on with the reporting. One showed me a “paint bomb” that looked more like a mostly-empty paint container that had spilled. Which, in fact, is exactly what it was. When I stopped by Westlake, I saw an area with stocked with tempera paint, cardboard, and glitter, so that those so inclined could fashion their own protest signs. And some of the paint had indeed been spilled. Glitter had also been spilled. Maybe they could have breathlessly reported a “glitter bomb” as well.

Third, the hypocritical double standards, perhaps best exhibited here. Note how when some protesters use violence against reporters, it’s just an attack, but when the cops use violence against those same reporters, it’s all because of a “mistake.” They could have just has accurately said those protesters mistook them for the sort of reporters who collaborate with the police. Such reporters actually exist, by the way.