Saturday, November 26, 2016

Election Thoughts

The election has been over and done with for some time, but I only just now have the spare time to pontificate upon the subject.
The single axis, left/right political graph doesn't represent my world view well.  On some issues I track pretty far to the left, and on others I'm pretty far to the right.  I also absolutely loathe authoritarians, and look toward their supporters with a mixture of pity and contempt (the ratio varying from person to person).
Both candidates are authoritarians who oppose people's basic rights, they just happen to oppose different sets of rights.  Ultimately the election simply altered which set of contingencies I need to plan for.

I have some slightly different messages for people who voted for either of these two people.  If your candidate lost, bear in mind that this is exactly why some people have very strong feelings of discomfort about growing the size and scope of government.  If state power can be abused, it will.  Now that the shoe is on the other foot, hopefully you'll remember that the next time your candidate wins.

For the people who supported the winning candidate and are excited that their guy won I cannot stress enough that you don't have a guy, he has you.  Anyone who has that much power is not looking out for the average man or woman on the street.

For people in either camp I suggest that you get your house in order.  Pay down your debt and acquire skills and tools that make you less dependent upon others.  Perform the maintenance you've been putting off on the things that let you live in the way that you're used to.  Pay attention to your health and make changes if necessary.

If enough people become the captains of their own ships, the idea of a great idealogical savior of one kind or another will become much less interesting.  The best thing you can do is trade in that Make America Great Again hat or I'm With Her sticker in for a garden hoe or a wrench set.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

New York and the Terrorism Tax

Some douchebag with an overly manicured beard and shit between his ears managed to badly injure about 30 people he'd never met.  He tried to hurt far more people, but his incompetence prevented him from doing that.  He was also captured alive, so he'll probably be spending the rest of his life in prison wishing he was dead.

Another asshole went to a shopping mall in Minnesota and started stabbing strangers for no good reason.  An off duty cop who happened to be carrying a pistol shot him before he could kill anyone.

If you look past the fact that these guys are/were repulsive sociopaths, one thing that is worth thinking about is that the bomber probably spent a few hundred bucks on his attack.  Knives are so abundant that they might as well be considered to be free.

A few years back John Robb (he wrote Brave New War, you should read it) described what he called a terrorism tax.  Essentially, Joe and Jane average begin to scale back on various economic activities because they're worried that people will kill them.  An article on CNN states that one billion dollars are spent yearly to keep New York safe.  Granted, in a city that big the per taxpayer cost probably isn't exactly huge in and of itself.

This begins to be a bigger problem if people stop going places because because they're afraid that someone will try to murder them because it just happens to be their unlucky day.  Revenues go down.  People lose their jobs.  People don't go out because in addition to being afraid, they're broke.  This creates a feedback loop where the weakened economy creates an even weaker economy.

We also have to consider that with a problem like this, the cure may be worse than the disease.  My wife is a food nerd, so we have a couple dozen different kinds of knives in the kitchen.  I have a variety of knives for general use, fishing, camping, etc.  Where I live both black and smokeless gunpowder are sold at a many stores.  Even if it was to be banned, black powder is eighth century technology.  People are going to make it if they want it.

The only sensible response to these little pissant terrorist attacks is to treat them as just another risk.  If I die of unnatural causes it'll most likely be on my commute to work and back.  This doesn't stop me from jumping in my car every morning, and it doesn't keep me from going ninety miles an hour every now and again.  It does cause me to wear my seat belt and to not drive if I've had too much to drink.  The equivalent response to these little Junior Terrorist Club asshats would be to do something like get first aid or self defense (armed or unarmed) training, along with the requisite equipment.

Using your head is increasingly important in our modern world.  Your instincts developed in a world that no longer exists and often provide bad information.  Going with your gut leaves you vulnerable to people who are actively working against you.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Poulan Wild Thing

As I mentioned earlier, my property is badly overgrown.  I had a working electric chainsaw among things my dad left me when he passed away, and there is also a gas one that needed a little bit of help.

I pulled the cover from the top and swapped out the fouled spark plug.  I also hosed out the carb with a healthy dose of carb cleaner.

The saw had thrown the chain off the bar.  In addition to this, the chain had rusted.

There was quite a bit of sawdust and oil mixed together.  I cleaned it out with carb cleaner and a rag.

It's back together and ready for action now.  It only takes a couple of pulls to get it going. This isn't exactly the Stihl Farm Boss that I have my eye on, but it'll get the job done in the meantime.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Montague Issues

As I mentioned previously, I bought a folding bicycle for a portion of my commute into the city.  I went with a Montague instead of something like a Brompton because they use 700c wheels and other standard parts.

On Thursday, the handlebars came off.  I was not in motion at the time so I was not hurt, but I could have been.

The Montague uses an Octagon handle bar mount.  To begin the process of finding out exactly what fucking happened, I watched the installation video:

The bike came with two of the spacers mentioned in the video installed:
I measured the space above the spacers with my cheap digital caliper (seriously, spend the $10 on one of these things) and found there was only 13 mm available.

With a single spacer we now have the requisite 18mm.  I used a clamp and a chunk of 2x4 to compress everything into place and torqued the bolt to spec.
I'll probably post something about this fix working (or not) down the road. I really like not having to pay to park and need the exercise to maintain my health.  It'll be a shame if this bike doesn't work for me.

Friday, August 26, 2016

In which we discuss why I left the city

A drive of a few miles and a walk of fewer miles bought me here.  Nary a trustafarian nor a man-bun in sight.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

An assortment of links

Insepctrum - an offline singal analyzer.  Once I finish cleaning up my property (or the weather gets too shitty for me to work on it any more) I'll play with this and post something.

The DOJ is trying to weaken the War Powers Act.

While getting a sunburned hide and sore muscles, I've been thinking of Aldous Huxley.  Could it be that soma, the orgy-porgy, and centrifugal bumble-puppy  (or their real world equivalents of beer/weed, porn, and xbox)  are a bigger worry than Miniluv and it's face stomping boot?  Maybe I should bump this further up in my reading list.  Either way here is an interesting web comic.

Sunday, August 14, 2016


I had three cords of wood delivered yesterday.  In the name of getting things squared away here as quickly as possible I put together four racks as described in this instructable.  The "no tools required" part of the title is a bit of bullshit, you need to have a saw.  I have several, so it doesn't exactly matter.
Another gripe is that the 8' 2x4s I purchased at America's favorite big box hardware store are in fact 7'8" long.
Pics below:

I still need to build a few more racks to hold the remainder of yesterday's delivery.  I also have another cord coming next weekend.

I'm planning to grab some blue tarps on my way home in the near future as well.  The guy next door told me that I should build a woodshed because he has had problems with his tarped wood molding.  I plan to do that, but it's a question of if it happens this year or the next.  I still need to cut back a lot of overgrown crap to even have room to build one, and the ground here will require considerable work to get level.