Putin Sounds More Pathetic than Ever

Published at 18:07 on 26 June 2023

Putin made an unscheduled speech today in which yet again he thanked Wagner for standing down and not going into Moscow. Total weak guy stuff (a strong leader would have promised punishment and retribution).

That one year time frame I gave a few posts ago was my upper bound for how much longer Putin can last in office. His actual remaining time in office might be quite a bit less.

Remember, revolutions in Russia seldom happen in one fell swoop. In 1917, the February Revolution preceded the October Revolution. The attempted coup against Gorbachev in 1991 was followed some months later by the breakup of the USSR, and that was followed in 1993 by Yeltsin’s coup against parliament. The Wagner mutiny is probably just the beginning.

Ukraine and the Putsch

Published at 16:23 on 25 June 2023

The putsch helps Ukraine. A lot.

Russian soldiers occupying Ukraine now know that their leader is weak and vulnerable. They know that prominent, influential people on the Russian side are saying that the whole pretext for the war was a pack of lies: Ukraine was of no threat to Russia and did not need to be de-Nazified.

Ask yourself: Would you feel motivated to fight for a weak and vulnerable leader in a war based on a pack of lies?

As such, expect low morale, desertions, surrenders, mutinies, etc. to really ramp up on the Russian side.

Moreover, Putin now is fighting two wars. One in Ukraine where he had already bitten off way, way more than he could chew. And now another one at home, trying to cling to power. He is now vastly more overextended than he was before.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure any of this out. You can be sure the Ukrainians already have. They were already beginning an offensive to retake territory. Expect the offensive to get ramped up: when the enemy is weak, you hit him harder.

Yesterday’s Putsch in Russia

Published at 20:11 on 24 June 2023

It looks like Putin has survived it… for now.

And that latter phrase is crucial. Before yesterday, Putin’s power was unquestioned. Nobody dared cross him. Not if they wanted to keep on living, that is.

Now, somebody has crossed him… and Putin was compelled to cut a deal to resolve the situation. Putin is no longer the undisputed master of events in Russia. He has been shown to be weak, shown to be vulnerable.

As such, I would be surprised if Putin lasts much longer than another year.

Garmin Drivesmart 66: Pure Crap

Published at 17:25 on 24 June 2023

Last year, I decided to treat myself to a new automotive GPS system for my truck. You see, I sometimes like to explore forest service roads in backcountry areas that lack cell coverage, making smartphone maps mostly useless. I decided to buy a Garmin unit, since that is a name brand, and I have one of their hiking GPS units and it works just fine. So I assumed that Garmin’s automotive GPS units would also be well-designed. Boy, was I wrong! To reiterate the subject of this post: the thing is pure crap. It cannot honestly be described any other way.

Let me enumerate the ways in which it is crap:

  1. Crap software design. If you pair the GPS with your smartphone (which you must, if you want to receive real-time traffic updates for driving in the city), it turns on this cheesy key-click feature, in which the GPS speaker will make a loud click for each keystroke you enter on the smart phone. The rub is, the click will be randomly delayed due to the use of Bluetooth pairing by anywhere from 100 ms to a full second. Just try typing with such a misfeature, I dare you. It is extremely disorienting, and makes accurate typing virtually impossible. And there is no way to disable this crap misfeature. I spent several hours trying to, reading the manual, exploring all the settings, doing web searches. There is no escape. The only way to turn it off seems to be to unpair your phone.
  2. Crap real-time traffic information. Speaking of the real-time traffic updates, they are crap. In my experience they report less than half of significant delays. Because the device is unaware of so many instances of traffic congestion, its navigation advice in the city is also crap. Plus the chosen way Garmin indicates traffic congestion on its map is subtle and easy to miss.
  3. Crap software quality. The GPS often hangs or crashes at random times. When this happens, it takes about five minutes to recover. Typically this happens when I am running late and most need everything to work properly.
  4. Crap backup camera. I decided to spring for the optional backup camera, because my truck is old enough not to have one from the factory. About as much of a mistake as buying the GPS itself. It’s crap, too. The camera takes up to a full minute to turn on when requested. Video is frequently laggy and erratic. My old cheapo analog wired backup camera was vastly better.
  5. Crap maps. First, the maps are a good two years or more out of date from the moment you download them. A new road opened two years ago near my property in Bellingham. Its presence changed the optimal way to get there from I-5. Two years on, and the new stretch of road is still not in the latest update from Garmin. Second, the maps are woefully incomplete. The device is essentially useless for its intended purpose of navigating on remote forest service roads; most of them are not in its database.
  6. Crap hardware design. The Drivesmart 66 spews radio noise like mad on the lower radio frequencies. Use it while listening to an AM radio station? Forget it! This is extremely annoying, as the same remote areas without cell coverage (i.e. the areas that prompted me to get this unit) also tend to lack FM radio coverage, while stronger AM stations still manage to cover such areas, due to how the longer radio waves used in the AM broadcast band propagate. So even if it was useful in the backwoods (and it is not) I would still have to choose between being able to listen to the radio and having GPS guidance.

My assumption is that these misfeatures are also present in most or all newer Garmin automotive models. Because why wouldn’t they be? It’s only logical to use a common software base in all products, and a manufacturer inclined to cut corners when it comes to RF noise shielding in one device is probably going to cut them in all their devices.

Bottom line is that I cannot recommend any currently-manufactured Garmin automotive GPS units. Avoid them all.

Neurotypicals, Sigh

Published at 17:33 on 22 June 2023

I am somewhere on the autism spectrum, and one thing I find difficult about neurotypicals is how they so often experience extreme difficulty using language to communicate, via words and their assigned meanings.

Like with my toothache recently. It was bad enough that I was reasonably sure that it was abscessed to the point of no return and that the f*cker needed to be extracted. But noooooo, the endodontist couldn’t say that. Instead, he has to write up a report to send to my regular dentist, who then can’t say it either. No, I have to schedule an appointment, face to face of course, so she can break it to me. And she spends about fifteen minutes doing so. Most of those fifteen minutes are filled with statistics about root canals that don’t apply to my particular situation. Eventually she gets to the point: the endodontist’s report said that options were not good for any restoration procedure.

End result: I learn what I had already expected some time ago.

What was I supposed to do? Cry over it? It’s dead, it’s infected, we need to do what one always does with dead infected things in one’s body: remove them. Just tell me it needs to be removed, so I can get it removed sooner rather than later. Is that so hard?

Oh well, at least I know now. And thankfully the really hurty phase of it ended three weeks ago, so it is not as if I was in any undue pain from the experience. But it sure would have been nice to know the truth sooner and with less fuss.

Was India Involved?

Published at 07:21 on 20 June 2023

That is my question: Was the current right-wing Hindu nationalist (read Hindu supremacist) government in India in any way involved in this and other similar crimes in Canada? I am not saying they definitively were, mind you, just that they might have been (such things are entirely in character for such a regime), and the possibility needs to be seriously investigated.

Looks Like Many Centrists Get It

Published at 22:52 on 15 June 2023

I worried earlier about the threat of petulant centrists helping elect Trump in 2024. Now, this is still a worry (No Labels is still around, after all), but it seems that many other centrists are being realistic about things and appreciate how truly dangerous No Labels really is. Take the canonical centrist Democrat group Third Way, for example. Fully three of the four articles currently featured above the fold on their main page are about the dangers of No Labels.

Which, to reiterate, is definitely good news, but then again No Labels is still around, which is not-so-good news.

And Now, Federal Charges

Published at 20:17 on 8 June 2023

Time to reiterate a few points I made earlier in the wake of the New York indictment:

  • This is still not one of the two most serious things Trump did, crimes that strike at the heart of political democracy, and which therefore are the most critical things to indict Trump over. Yes, mishandling so many classified documents (willingly and deliberately, and then trying to cover it up) is more serious than trying to cover up some hush money payments to a porn star. But it is still not as serious as attempting to tamper with vote counting in Georgia or inciting a fascist putsch at the Capitol, not by a long shot.
  • The pending indictment breaks another precedent. An ex-president will soon be indicted over Federal charges. This proves that the Department of Justice is not pulling levers behind the scenes to protect Trump. Well, not quite: I am sure they are still pulling levers behind the scenes, but not enough to completely protect Trump.
  • They would, in other words, have indicted anyone other than an ex-president far sooner, over far less convincing evidence.
  • Moreover, the broken precedents makes it more likely that another indictment over what happened on 6 January 2021 will come eventually.

What this all means is that when it comes to a trial, they are highly likely to convict, because they have already done Trump the favor of being double super sure that the case against him is ironclad.

And then what? Most likely, house arrest. Sorry, Nice Liberals: the system is not very likely to lock up someone that powerful in a normal prison. Plus, house arrest neatly solves the problem of Secret Service protection, to which all ex-presidents are entitled under the law. It will probably become part of their mission to supervise the conditions of his house arrest, perhaps in conjunction with Federal marshals.

This Is Mostly Crap

Published at 22:02 on 1 June 2023

This is how a member of the center-right might want to see Florida politics, because it lets him play pin the blame on the liberals, but it really doesn’t explain what happened very well.

The Florida Democrats already tried the hardcore centrist strategy. In 2022, in fact. And we all know how well that worked out. Charlie Crist, their candidate for governor, had previously served as the Republican governor of Florida.

The Florida Democrats fail, not because they tack to the right or to the left, but simply because they are grossly incompetent as an organization.

I have told this story before, and I will now tell it again: I have done some volunteer work for the Florida Democrats. It entailed making get-out-the-vote calls. They gave me a spiel to use which had been invalidated by recent news stories. I contacted them for an updated spiel. They had none. I had to spend the first thirty minutes of my shift coming up with a spiel on my own. This is just about the absolute last thing you want your volunteers to do. You want to put out a unified, coherent message!

And it gets worse. The list they gave me was out of date as well. I called people who had already voted early or absentee. I called people exasperated because they had requested to be on the do not call list, some of them multiple times. This is very basic stuff. If someone tells you to stop calling them, you honor their request. You do not want to piss people off by continuing to call them!

Florida could be a competitive swing state today, as it once was not too long ago, were only the Florida Democrats capable of campaigning their way out of a wet paper bag.