August 2017


Hey, Microlimp

Solitaire is not a social game. If I open a Solitaire game I don't need to log in. All I want to do is play the game.

I deleted your stupid Solitaire game because instead of letting me play it started doing something with "save data" in "the cloud."

Why the hell do I need to save missile-firing Solitaire games in the missile-firing CLOUD???

Thursday,  August 31, 2017  McGehee

Is It September Yet?

<checks to see if college football has started>


Wednesday,  August 30, 2017  McGehee

If I Were in Charge, 2

All uses of the phrase "new normal" would incur cruel and unusual punishment.

Which would make the punishment a new normal, and by definition not unusual...

Tuesday,  August 29, 2017  McGehee

Of Wolves and Men

Having recently posted a "filk" of a song by Steppenwolf, I thought I ought to finally get around to reading the Hermann Hesse novel that the band's name cites.

First I looked the work up on Wikipedia, and found that it

reflects a profound crisis in Hesse's spiritual world during the 1920s while memorably portraying the protagonist's split between his humanity and his wolf-like aggression and homelessness.

Both of my e-published short stories have touched on this human duality, so I was immediately interested.

I found it available as an ebook but given the Wikipedia description I decided to hold off on buying it until I had read the free sample. Unfortunately I didn't get far.

In the preface, Hesse's protagonist meets the man, Harry Haller, who is the "Steppenwolf," when the latter takes a room at his aunt's house. He invites Haller to a lecture by "a celebrated historian, philosopher, and critic, a man of European fame," who instantly disappoints Haller merely by flattering the audience. Hesse's protagonist somehow manages to read an entire, eloquent critique of early 20th-century Western civilization in Haller's fleeting expression. I couldn't help but imagine the "Steppenwolf" having an identical disappointment upon reading the paragraph.

I'll say this about the theme as described by Wikipedia's editoriat, since I doubt I'd ever get through the novel itself.

As the story begins, the hero [Haller] is beset by reflections on his being ill-suited for the world of everyday, regular people, specifically for frivolous bourgeois society. In his aimless wanderings about the city he encounters a person carrying an advertisement for a magic theatre who gives him a small book, Treatise on the Steppenwolf. This treatise, cited in full in the novel's text as Harry reads it, addresses Harry by name and strikes him as describing himself uncannily. It is a discourse on a man who believes himself to be of two natures: one high, the spiritual nature of man; the other is low and animalistic, a "wolf of the steppes". This man is entangled in an irresolvable struggle, never content with either nature because he cannot see beyond this self-made concept.

One of the things about cowboy fiction that distinguishes it from most other genres is that it often places the characters in a wild situation where whatever civilized sensibilities upon which they might have built their self-image will be challenged, with life-or-death stakes. This is not to say that cowboy stories were the first to do this; James Fenimore Cooper's Natty Bumppo tales, of which only the last actually takes place in what we now think of as cowboy country (though several decades early), may be the first American examples.

The usual outcome of a cowboy story is that the good guy, who champions the moral code of the civilized but resorts to lethal necessity in extremis, wins out over those who have shed not only the trappings but the ethos of civilization. The latter have resolved the duality issue by going all-wolf; the former, by recognizing and to some extent domesticating his inner wolf in service to his humanity.

The theme is that people need both facets of their humanity to survive in a world of blood and dirt. Civilization is no better served by those who keep their monster irretrievably caged even in case of need, than by those who feed their inner angel to it and let it rampage uncontrolled.

Update, a few hours later: I've resumed reading the sample, still in the preface. Hesse has his prefatory protagonist and the Steppenwolf speak of being caught between two ages.

To me, the time between ages is itself an age. Having been born when I was, I've been through at least a couple of these; they're easier to get used to than Herr Hesse might have believed.

That droll hippie observation about "...there you are" could be just as apt about when.

I have long believed, though, that very little of German philosophical writing has aged — or exported — well. This isn't doing much to challenge that opinion.

So why has so much German philosophy gained such wide currency? It's not always easy to see the holes in inapt criticism when one does not yet know oneself. Today especially, inapt criticism has found fertile ground in recent generations deprived of a complete background in their own history.

Obviously though, this is by no means new.

'Nother update: Turns out the preface is the most readable part of the novel.

Tuesday,  August 29, 2017  McGehee


So earlier today I texted to Mrs. McG: "Would a retired wine lover call his hobby vineyard a cru de coeur"?

To which she replied, "If he also grows tea leaves it could be a cru de thé."

We seem to deserve each other...

Monday,  August 28, 2017  McGehee

It's a Western Thang

Yesterday on The Weather Channel's coverage of Harvey's aftermath in Texas, I watched Jim Cantore interviewing evacuees — who seemed to be reassuring him more than he could them.

One of my rotating sidebar quotes is, "Westerners don't complain about bad weather; we brag about it." I'm also on record against gratuitous drama.

Of course, I wouldn't live on the Gulf Coast for anything. When there's a choice, living in what the weather geeks call a "brown ocean" is gratuitous drama.

Monday,  August 28, 2017  McGehee

Born to Be Riled

Apologies to Steppenwolf and music lovers everywhere. The SJWs can suck it.

Got my outrage runnin'
In the middle of the highway
Seekin' validation
For always havin' things my way
Oh golly gotta make it happen
Or I might as well fade away
Shout my every grievance at once and
Ruin the whole world's day

Gonna put chains on you
Don't waste time trynna ponder
You deserve to lose 'cause
My opportunities I squander
Oh golly gotta make it happen
Or I might as well fade away
Shout my every grievance at once and
Ruin the whole world's day

Like a true tantrum child
I was born, born to be riled
Roll your eyes and sigh
As I stamp my feet and cry
Booooorn to be riiiiiled!

Sunday,  August 27, 2017  McGehee

Upward Mobility Ain't What It Used to Be

I can remember when upward mobility meant upward in terms of income, and the attendant opportunities to do the things you wanted to do.

Now it's upward in terms of the esteem of the hive mind? Is this how we Boomers raised you kids?

Premium mediocrity is a pattern of consumption that publicly signals upward mobile aspirations, with consciously insincere pretensions to refined taste, while navigating the realities of inexorable downward mobility with sincere anxiety. There are more important things to think about than actually learning to appreciate wine and cheese, such as making rent. But at least pretending to appreciate wine and cheese is necessary to not fall through the cracks...

Clearly, premium mediocrity is a generational thing, something you "had to be there" to experience in full. It is not for the comfortable-in-your-own-skin, because all skin is off-the-rack and therefore very much not premium.

Actually, though it's a long slog, read it all. I've been riffing above on my initial reaction to the piece, because it's easy to quit partway through and come away misunderstanding it. For myself, if I had kids, I would want to know that they are dealing with real circumstances sensibly and practically, rather than putting up a front. But my parents lived through the Great Depression, and the skills and attitudes they picked up then had a lot to do with how we made it through our own hard times in the '60s and '70s.

Sunday,  August 27, 2017  McGehee

Well, Damn

I'm thinking "Cruz/Rock 2024." Sooner, if Trump decides to skip re-election.

Sunday,  August 27, 2017  McGehee

Quit Beating Around the Bush, Lefties

Move on to burning books, lynching deplorables, and fire-bombing people's homes, already. Drop the mask and show your true colors.

It's not as if your allies in the media have any integrity left. Of course they'll keep covering for you.

Addendum: Today's soundtrack: "Born to Be Riled" by Goosesteppenwolf.

Friday,  August 25, 2017  McGehee

Getting It Backwards

Former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming wants to amend the Constitution to "get the money out of politics."

He takes exception to the Citizens United decision, which ultimately arose from an attempt by Hillary Clinton supporters to suppress funded political speech critical of her. In Simpson's complaint, he gets the problem wrong by 180 degrees.

The problem is not that money has undue influence over American elections; the problem is that there is so much at stake in American elections — in American politics — that there is demand for funded political speech to influence political outcomes.

The Founding Fathers — authors of the Constitution Simpson wants to change — explicitly limited the enumerated powers of the federal government in hopes of preventing national politics from becoming the primary focus of American life. They knew that if the political stakes became high enough in a society where people were free to prosper, there would be those who sought to buy their way into power.

They also knew that powerful elites like to raise new barriers to entry so that potential rivals are unable to challenge them. That is the phase we're in now with this effort to amend the Constitution — it's not to clean up politics by getting money out, it's to consolidate power by keeping new money out.

They're reacting to Citizens United because it wiped away years of work they had already invested in raising these barriers to entry.

One thing is true: there is too much money in politics. But the way to fix that is to extract the government's claws from the economy and lower the political stakes in any given political campaign.

No one will spend millions of dollars to gain control of a government that can't seize a rancher's property over a mud puddle. And that's a fix that doesn't require a constitutional amendment rewriting the First Amendment.

Thursday,  August 24, 2017  McGehee

Be the First on Your Block

People are lining up weeks in advance to miss this movie.

h/t Stephen Green at Instapundit

Wednesday,  August 23, 2017  McGehee

Google, What Do I Keep Telling You?

"Don't be stupid."

But do you listen?

Stupidly, no.

Update, Friday: And now the latest ChromeOS update has screwed up some Android apps and a few Chrome apps.

Apparently Google management wants to bankrupt Google's stockholders.

Wednesday,  August 23, 2017  McGehee

Is "Reshape" French for "Fundamentally Transform"?

France's new Messiah President recently inspired me to observe, "Unto each country, a little Obama must fall."

Well, il le fait à nouveau.

Macron will visit Romania, Bulgaria and Austria, where he will also meet the leaders of the Czech Republic and Slovakia, but is skipping Hungary and Poland, whose right-wing governments he has accused of spurning the bloc's values.

An Elysee Palace source said Macron was visiting countries who were "the most attached to their European anchoring".

A senior French diplomat said the president was deliberately snubbing Poland and Hungary "to send a message to Warsaw and Budapest".

How sad that the Poles and Hungarians won't get to sit at the cool table during 7th-grade lunch period!

Wednesday,  August 23, 2017  McGehee

If I Had Ever Made a Bucket List

...that would have been on it.

A while back I referred to "the dark spot where the sun was just a minute ago" — I had no idea how exactly right that would be.

The sky was only as dark as, say, half an hour after sunset, but inside the halo of the sun's corona the moon was, or at least looked, totally black.

Before totality, I had been watching a patch of cloud to our west, figuring the shadow would fall on it first.

Meanwhile, Copperhill's street lights started coming on. Then, I looked west again and saw that the clear sky beyond the clouds was bright while the clouds themselves ... weren't.

And darkness fell.

Later, as the edge of the sun began to emerge, there was finally the famous shimmer on the ground that I'd been too distracted to notice before, so subtle that I didn't see it so much as detect it, slightly away from where I was looking directly. I've read that it's too faint to ever be photographed, and I believe it.*

Did birds fall silent or critters take to their dens? Copperhill may be a small town, but it was busy and noisy yesterday afternoon.

Mrs. McG made the arrangements for that experience, and I am glad she did.

Assorted Afterthoughts, Addenda, and Additional Apocrypha: Yesterday, as described by fellow eclipse-watcher Richard: "Mostly sunny, except when it was partly moony."

A Wyoming time-lapse, apparently facing eastward.

Copperhill, Tennessee, and its counterpart McCaysville, Georgia, would seem to be one town if you didn't know there was a state line running through it, across the supermarket parking lot, and through some of the downtown buildings. Mrs. McG and I, and her father, had time for lunch between our arrival and the day's big event, so we went to the Copper Grill, whose bar and dining room (and shaded sidewalk dining area, where we sat) are in Copperhill, but whose kitchen is in McCaysville.

After we ate, I wondered out loud which state the men's room was in. Well, to find it I had to go past the kitchen. It would have been a waste to visit a town like that and never cross the state line while I was there, but I wouldn't have expected it to happen like that.

Photo gallery and another time-lapse, from Casper, Wyoming.

We didn't encounter unusually bad traffic until the drive home this afternoon, when we found ourselves mired in creeping traffic on the interstate for three solid miles. Of course we bailed at the first exit, but we hadn't been the only ones to have this idea, and I grew increasingly worried about the traffic we might encounter on our usual alternate route away from the freeways; on past occasions even that route has been horrific during afternoon rush hour, which was fast approaching.

Finally I opted for one of the very few roads in Georgia that leads to Rome instead of Atlanta. Once we got to Rome, the drive homeward was much more pleasant.

A Wyoming web-journo makes more of an effort to convey the experience than I have. For example, he took video — some of it from a drone. In Part 2 he writes:

Having watched many documentaries in preparation for the eclipse, I found that I agreed with those who had witnessed it before. The experience is existential, highlighting the fragility and preciousness of life on Earth in the vast cosmos.

I didn't have that reaction. I've seen a lot of things that give other people that kind of feeling but it never seems to hit me that way. Yes, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I wouldn't mind seeing another one (heh), but maybe it's because I don't need spectacular reminders of life's fragility and preciousness that these spectacles don't get at my soul like that.

If I had needed a reminder, the drive through Atlanta last Sunday was sufficient.

*Correction: Do a web search for "eclipse shimmer" now (Wednesday, August 23) and there are videos, like this one. Clearly some manifestations (or observers...) are sharper than others.

Tuesday,  August 22, 2017  McGehee

Everything's a Trade Off

The whole of my domain is leafy and green
As monochrome a world as I've ever seen
Sometime next month, though you don't need to be told
We'll start to see splashes of scarlet and gold
It happens gradually here, taking months to complete
As each single tree concedes annual defeat
If you didn't pay attention the leaves might all fall
Without your ever knowing it happened at all.
I'll see neighbors' houses emerge from the greenery
As the intervening woods become less screenery
The sound of passing traffic grows ever more clear
Remind me, why is fall my favorite time of year?

Monday,  August 21, 2017  McGehee

Ends and Odds

Q.: What do you call a retired hooker? A.: An emeretrix.

I hope NASA or somebody releases satellite photos of the Moon's shadow crossing the face of the Earth after Monday's show is over. That would be cool.

I see that Kellen Moore is getting a lot of playing time in Dallas' pre-season play. As with starter Dak Prescott I watched him during his college career, and remember how little anyone expected of him in the NFL because of his height. Yet he was a big-winning quarterback for Boise State, and I like what I'm seeing of him this season. Glad he's recovered from last year's leg fracture.

Of course, Cooper Rush is no slouch either. He likes to throw to the outside and he's really, really good at it. Dallas could save some games this year by playing him in the final minutes when they're a few points behind and short of timeouts.

Sunday,  August 20, 2017  McGehee

I Know Those People!

There's an interactive map on Ancestry.com that can show how your family surname was distributed at three points in American history.

The map for McGehee is interesting to me because, apparently, at one point people in my ancestral line were pretty much the only McGehees in Indiana. I'm not giving anything away there because I already posted last May about my great great grandfather and his two brothers, all from Indiana, who served in the Civil War. In 1840 all three of them would have been in the same Indiana household.

Indiana wasn't the only non-Confederate state with a recorded McGehee presence, but all of the other states were slave states. If there were any McGehees in Union blue besides my ancestor and his brothers, I'd be very surprised. After the war, my kinsmen had dispersed across the Sunbelt, including to California.

By 1920, of course, we had spread like the flu to all corners of the nation...

Saturday,  August 19, 2017  McGehee

Limit Lifted, a Little

My limited De-Googlization just became a tiny bit less limited, thanks to a new bug (they consider it a feature) in the Google search app for Android.

It appears no longer possible to open search results in any web browser; instead they open in something called "custom tabs" — there's no apparent way to turn this linkjacking behavior off.

It's true that I'm using what looks like a custom tab in Chrome to replace the FUBAR Contacts app, and it works great — but I chose to do this.

What Borgle has done with its search results bug, however, is deprive me of my choice, and that's a hostile act by a vendor against a customer (I do, in fact, pay for certain Google services).

So now when I want to search the web from my phone I'll open Firefox, on which I've made Metacrawler my search default. It searches Borgle, but also Bing and Yahoo.

Update, August 26: The setting for turning this bug off has reappeared. So I turned it off.

Knowing Borgle, they'll hide the setting somewhere else and turn the bug back on. [Plunks a quarter in the swear jar.]

Friday,  August 18, 2017  McGehee

Quoth Me

Thanky to Charles of Dustbury for pointing me to a plugin that can show quotes in the sidebar. At the moment only one in the collection isn't a self-quote (those attributed to "John Wolf" or "Caleb Scruggins" are from one sample or another of my fiction), but that is sure to change sooner or later.

Thursday,  August 17, 2017  McGehee

Dear Elected Officials at All Levels of Government Everybody

Your personal drama is not a public interest.

Wednesday,  August 16, 2017  McGehee

Truth Is Stranger than Fact

Many years ago, there used to be awards bestowed upon bloggers, in recognition of the quality of their blogging.

Believe it or not, I even managed to get nominated a time or two, under whatever moniker I went by at the time ("McG" is a relatively recent distillation; most of the time I've gone by "McGehee", mainly because, as I was wont to observe, every seventh blogger was named Kevin).

One category in which I was never nominated was "Lifetime Achievement", and I probably would have demurred anyway because back then — hell, even now — I don't consider my oeuvre to have amounted to a lifetime's worth.

If it were called the Life Achievement Award, well...

No, guess not.

Wednesday,  August 16, 2017  McGehee

Ain't It Funny How...

...it was terrible when the Taliban or ISIS tore down monuments they didn't like, but American SJWs can tear down monuments they don't like and the American media cheer? The same American media that loved to refer to conservatives as the American Taliban.

Well, the SJWs claim their destruction is justified on moral grounds — which I'm sure makes them totally different from the Taliban.

Totally, dude.

Wednesday,  August 16, 2017  McGehee

Take the Long View

Wolves have packs and bees have hives
Soldiers have platoons, Indians tribes
Football players on the gridiron have teams
Everyone's part of a group it seems
Teamwork is good, don't get me wrong
Takes a passel o' notes to make a song
And a lot o' hands you'll need for your roundup
But plenty o' folks let their souls get ground up
Needin' acceptance from others is human nature
Exchangin' loyalty can enhance your stature
Just remember though when your work here is done
When you stand before God, you'll stand alone.

Monday,  August 14, 2017  McGehee

Just a Reminder

The highest temperature ever recorded in Alaska was at Fort Yukon, which is right on the Arctic Circle.

It happened on June the 27th, back in '15.


Sunday,  August 13, 2017  McGehee


Via Ed Driscoll at Instapundit, this by Christian Toto:

[Laurie] Forest’s book, The Black Witch, is the story of a girl living in a world where her race is deemed superior to other creatures (think: wolf men and selkies). She slowly learns to shed those ugly social constructs as the tale moves forward. One reviewer hailed the book as “an uncompromising condemnation of prejudice and injustice.”

But that wasn’t enough for SJW blogger Shauna Sinyard, who decided to make it her mission to defame Forest and her work with a meandering, aggrieved, 9,000-word blog post, as New York magazine reported. “It’s the most dangerous, offensive book I have ever read,” Sinyard raged, suggesting she hasn’t read very widely if that’s the case. YA Twitter, along with a few other influential authors, spread Sinyard’s rant far and wide. Forest was called a Nazi sympathizer. SJWs demanded that Harlequin Teen, the book’s publisher, do something about this hateful story.

Here’s where the story took an interesting turn: The publisher didn’t back down. Nor did Forest.

The title of Toto's piece, the whole thing of which you must read, is "Stop Apologizing to Social Justice Warriors. It Just Feeds their Sanctimony."

My reflex when confronted with unreasonable criticism has for years been a combination of seven letters distributed among two words. Three of the letters are F.

You know how some of the people in your childhood teach you lessons opposite to the ones they intended? Yeah. Well, I'm still grateful for the lesson.

Sunday,  August 13, 2017  McGehee

Limited De-Googlization

As the Chromebook post from yesterday suggests, my disentanglement from Google is never going to be total, even if I wanted it to be.

For starters, the alternatives to an Android phone are the iPhone (been there, chucked that) and a Windows phone. So, Android it is.

And even though I now have my domain email back, it and all my other email addresses are going through Gmail, because the only thing Gmail lacks that I could ever want is a sort function, and I've lived without that for years. Gmail's spam filter may well be the most advanced AI on the planet, and probably already controls the military, air-traffic control, and the stoplights in L.A.

If it ever decides to go Skynet on us it'll start by letting all that spam through. We'll be begging for the killer robots to wipe us all out.

Nor is Gmail the only service where Google leaves Microsoft and Apple in the dust. I've looked. I've tried to find a cloud-based contact manager half as good as Google's; I've looked for a cloud storage option with the same capacity and live-sync capabilities that doesn't cost more; I've been looking at mobile phone service options since going with Project Fi because I'm pretty sure it won't work so well once we've finally gotten out of metro Atlanta for the cowboy's promised land.

There are plenty of Google properties I dislike enough to stop using: Blogger; Google Sites; G Suite; Hangouts. Some of those I quit using before Goolag-gate, others I've only dumped recently and at some additional expense to myself, but I can't really say for sure whether I wouldn't have dumped them eventually regardless.

I think I hit Peak Boycott after the Brendan Eich affair — but Chrome proved to be one of those Google things I don't like well enough to use unless the alternatives, such as Firefox Mobile, are substantially worse. Meanwhile I did eventually resume using Firefox on my laptop and phone.

Is there anything Google can do that would make me quit using them altogether? Well, if you've been reading between the lines you've figured out that I don't decide what to use based on the political opinions of the corporate pukes who produce it. As long as it does what I need it to do, better and cheaper than the other guys' stuff, I'm going to use it.

We conservatives reject the idea that everything has to be politicized. I believe in a government so small that no one ever needs to obsess about politics in their daily lives.

Trust me, it's a much more pleasant existence.

Update, about a month and a half later: Turns out if Gmail's spam filter did become self-aware, it would have a rival in FastMail's spam filter. The limits on my de-Googlization get looser by the day.

Sunday,  August 13, 2017  McGehee

Well, Roll Me in Powdered Sugar and Call Me Crepe-y

I just stumbled on something that brightened my day. Slightly.

When I bought this Chromebook I didn't know anything about Google's offer of a free 100 gigabytes of additional Google Drive storage to go with it. It isn't bestowed automatically; you have to know about it and go redeem it. Which I just did. And it's only good for as long as you keep the Chromebook.

I'd been contemplating upgrading my existing Google Drive storage because, between my files and my mail archives (which I try to keep under control, but...), I've been using up what I'm already paying for. This reprieves me for at least a little while, and if I exceed my new allotment by the time this 'Book craps out I can still upgrade. Assuming I don't decide to get another Chromebook.

I hate to admit it, but I'm starting to warm up to this thing.

Saturday,  August 12, 2017  McGehee

It Ain't Petticoat Junction

I'm pretty sure the one time I ever rode behind a bona fide steam locomotive was at Knott's Berry Farm back in the early 1970s. There may have been one or two miniature steamers here and there but I don't remember any other full-size ones.

This one would kinda redefine "full size."

It's been at the Union Pacific Steam Shop since four years ago and is undergoing restoration to working order — oil-fired, as most working steamers are these days, rather than coal.

And if you happen to be in Cheyenne these next few months, the Steam Shop will once again be open for tours, and apparently the Big Boy will be featured.

Damn, I wish I weren't still here in Georgia.

Saturday,  August 12, 2017  McGehee

To Be Fair, It IS Only 15 Months Away


There's a Wikipedia page for next year's Georgia gubernatorial election, and two of the declared names on the Republican side — Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp — are pretty well known to me.

Of the two, I lean toward Kemp, because I haven't seen him acting like a tyrant the way Cagle has done at least once in the nearly 11 years he's been the state's #2 constitutional officer. Cagle is the first Republican lieutenant-governor since the office was created in the late 1940s.

Kemp is only the second Republican to serve as secretary of state here since Reconstruction — the first was Karen Handel, who previously sought the governorship and is now in Congress after this year's special election.

Neither of the names shown on Wikipedia as declared for the Democrats is familiar to me, though state Rep. Stacey Abrams has the endorsement of NARAL.

What's most interesting is the roster of declined candidates in both major parties. My Republican former congressman Lynn Westmoreland, for example; and perhaps the most formidable Democrat in Georgia right now, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who is instead seeking a third term in his current job. Perhaps he, unlike Abrams, understands how some of his non-mayoral political stances would play with the statewide electorate.

I'm just hoping by the time next year's winner is seeking re-election I'll be voting in another state.

Update, October: I was wrong, Reed isn't seeking a third term as mayor; Atlanta mayors are prohibited from seeking a third term.

Which makes me wonder why he's packing it in. He never struck me as unambitious.

Saturday,  August 12, 2017  McGehee

So, to heck with...

...mcg.ak4mc.us as a base URL for this freakin' blog. I like this one just fine. And mcg will redirect here anyway.

Addendum: This theme works better for mobile use than the one I had on Blogspot, too.

Additional addendum: I like having a search box too. It didn't seem to be an option on Blogspot.

Friday,  August 11, 2017  McGehee

No No No No No No No No No No No No No No No

So, now that I've signed up again for legitimate domain hosting, I'm finding that my desire to have the Tally Book retain its mcg.ak4mc.us URL is no longer feasible. Blogspot won't honor a permanent redirect (though it is respecting the Wildcard setting, so that links to individual entries using either URL will still work), and Wordpress.com doesn't even offer the option of trying to set one up.

Which means I either have to live with the Blogspot URL here, or install Wordpress on my domain host and mess with databases and all that crap. Right now it's a tossup which is the least palatable choice — though obviously my preference for less hassle makes Blogspot the odds-on favorite in the long run.

On the other hand, since I've lost all of my prior content forever, except for what's here right now, messing with a database wouldn't be but so stressful. "Oops. I have to start over from scratch again? Ain't the first time, doubt it'll be the last."

The templates available at Wordpress.com are unimpressive anyway, so that was a never-starter.

What's that? Some old geezer who remembers my blogging heyday is suggesting bringing back Expression Engine? Where's my shotgun?

Wednesday,  August 9, 2017  McGehee

And After All That, What If It Rains?

It does rain sometimes in Wyoming. It may rain there on August 21. Or another forest fire could be sending dense smoke across the state (assuming the ones doing it now have even been put out by then).

I can certainly understand why people are going to Wyoming to view the eclipse — totality will pass directly over the part of the state where Mrs. McG and I want to move to when she retires. It's a high desert and the presumption is that the sun's always shining in the desert.

Well, not exactly. Even if it isn't raining, the sky can be obscured by clouds. The anvil of a thunderstorm dumping on a mountain range 40 miles away can put a town in the valley in the shade; in fact, the town may get nothing from that storm but shade, and a spate of gusty wind as it collapses.

And then there's the remoteness. Gawkers by the tens of thousands seem to be assuming because it's far from big cities it must be too difficult for other people to get there. Well, you do kind of have to be wanting to go there to wind up there — but a total solar eclipse is a strong motivation, and the whole world knows it's coming.

Places in the path of this celestial-yet-man-caused disaster have been planning for months, if not years, to deal with the once-in-a-lifetime influx of crowds, expecting to find themselves up to their armpits in people who think a flying visit to Wyoming should be no more challenging than a drive to the playground.

It's a mercy that this eclipse will be visible across the entire width of the country; I'd hate to imagine the trouble if it were only happening in Wyoming. While I do find myself wishing we were already living there so we could see the show from our front porch, lately I'm kind of relieved we don't. Trying to stock up ahead of the invasion would be like shopping here in the South when there's snow in the forecast.

Furthermore, if we had land of any amount we'd need to worry about trespassers — or set up at the gates and take people's money. If we didn't already have a landline, we'd better get one. As it is, my idea of observing the eclipse online from here by looking in on webcams? Might not work.

Update, August 19: It's just occurred to me that, as rough as it's going to be for residents in many of these small towns — not only in Wyoming but across the country — it could be worse. It could be an annual event lasting a week and a half...

Wednesday,  August 9, 2017  McGehee

Temporary Interruptions Are Temporary

...and I'm causing them. Please bear with us.

Update: I've resumed using a conventional domain host for perfectly frivolous reasons, primarily for SMTP server access. It took a while for the hosting change to propagate in Google's DNS, and it may take a longer while in yours. Nothing else has actually moved.

'Nother update: Maybe not so frivolous. Google's giving itself an utterly unnecessary black eye by letting its virulent political monoculture become more than merely an object of suspicion. A lot of people there need to be slapped down. If they can fire a guy for wanting more ideological diversity, they can sure as hell punish those who actively suppress said diversity.

Tuesday,  August 8, 2017  McGehee

Opinions Are Like...

The old saying comparing opinions to a body part is wrong. It isn't that everybody has one, it's that everybody has an endless supply.

So, opinions are not like that body part, they're like what comes out of it.

Making that realization, however, can suck all the gratuitous drama out of life. If you like gratuitous drama.

Monday,  August 7, 2017  McGehee

De Augustibus

They call this part of summer "dog days"
I wouldn't treat a dog this way
It gets hot, muggy and miserable
People get angry and irritable
Traffic is noisy, loud and slow
Like Christmas shoppin' season, but more so
No one wants to get anythin' done
At least I don't, a majority of one
Storm clouds rise high in the sky
Then say, "hell with it", give up and die
Dogs are smart though, they've got it made
Sprawled out, pantin', in the shade

Sunday,  August 6, 2017  McGehee

Caveat Viewor

I only took nine weeks of Latin, in seventh grade...

Anyway, if you're planning to get yourself into the path of this month's New Moon and gawk at the dark spot where the sun was just a minute ago, you might want to double-check your eye protection. Seems some unscrupulous people are looking to cause an epidemic of eclipse-related blindness.

How can you tell if your “eclipse glasses” or handheld solar viewers are safe? It is no longer sufficient to look for the logo of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and a label indicating that the product meets the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard for filters for direct viewing of the Sun’s bright face. Why not? Because it now appears that some companies are printing the ISO logo and certification label on fake eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers made with materials that do not block enough of the Sun’s ultraviolet, visible, and infrared radiation to make them truly safe. Some sellers are even displaying fake test results on their websites to support their bogus claim of compliance with the ISO safety standard.

The American Astronomical Society offers a list of manufacturers it has verified as complying with the safety standard.

Even if your goggles' manufacturer isn't on the list though, they may still be safe.

You shouldn’t be able to see anything through a safe solar filter except the Sun itself or something comparably bright, such as the Sun reflected in a mirror, a sunglint off shiny metal, or the filament of a bare incandescent light bulb. If you can see ordinary household light fixtures through your eclipse glasses or handheld viewer, it’s no good. Safe solar filters produce a view of the Sun that is comfortably bright (like the full Moon), in focus, and surrounded by dark sky. If you glance at the Sun through your solar filter and find it uncomfortably bright, out of focus, and surrounded by a murky haze, it’s no good. You should contact the seller and demand a refund or credit for return of the product, then obtain a replacement from one of the sources listed on the AAS’s reputable-vendors page.

Be safe. The eclipse should be awe-inspiring, not vision-impairing. This is one case where "The goggles do nothing!" isn't funny.

Saturday,  August 5, 2017  McGehee

Blessed Are the Mechanically Capable

...for they get all kinds of free stuff.

The defunct ZTR mower has found a new home, having been saved from being left in the woods to rust by a handy fellow who has been fixing mechanical equipment like mowers since he was a young'un.

He got a real good idea of what needs to be done to fix it, after having attempted to tow it onto his trailer with his big Exmark ZTR and popping wheelies on the trailer ramp. The Exmark is too big for many parts of his property so he also had a little Snapper riding mower nearly as old as him, but it conked out on him so...

Anyway, whereas I thought maybe the trouble with our ZTR could have just been a drive belt somewhere, apparently the hydraulics on one side are seized up. He'll have a fair amount of work to do before his narrow spots can be mowed again, but at least it'll get a few more years of use.

There's no way I would have gotten it on our trailer to take in for repair without another machine to help. He ended up having to get behind the patient and push it up with the Exmark, me tugging sideways on the front end to keep it moving straight.

Next time I see him, probably in a few months, I'll ask after his new pet.

Saturday,  August 5, 2017  McGehee


Almost a year and a half ago, I wrote this:

Those annoying little drones are about to change the way aircraft are designed and built.

Multi-rotor drones are more stable because the lift footprint (if there's such a phrase) is wider, and when the rotors are distributed around the edges, the body interferes less with the air's downward motion, which means the rotors provide more actual thrust.

By not wasting thrust you get more lift with shorter rotors, which require less power to rotate faster, amplifying the benefit of more rotors.

Processing power used in miniature drones allows the thrust on each rotor to be adjusted more responsively to changing conditions.

While I'm not big on the idea of pilotless passenger drones, I can see these innovations making the piloting of small aircraft simpler with computer-assist (as most of us already have to some extent in our cars), which could finally put personal VTOL flight within reach.

Today, via Drudge, I saw this:

German automobile firm Daimler and other investors have invested more than $29 million dollars (25 million euro) in aviation start-up Volocopter.

Volocopter plans to use the money to invest in further developing its electrically powered, autonomous Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft and 'conquer' the market for flying air taxis.

Volocopter's 'Volocopter 2X' is a fully electric VTOL with 18 quiet rotors and a maximum airspeed of 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour - and it can transport two passengers without a pilot.

They're here. </Heather O'Rourke>

The Volocopter is all-electric, and therefore has the same limitations as an electric car — range, and recharge time — but you have to start somewhere.

Friday,  August 4, 2017  McGehee



August 2017


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