While you are quarantining and social distancing …

Sir Isaac Newton, along with some personal notes written in Greek.

Other, greater people have done great things in quarantine way before you were born. I already knew that the late Sir Isaac Newton discovered things like optics, gravity, and the rules for Calculus. But what I didn’t know is that in the two years he did so, he was in his early 20’s, and England suffered an epidemic of The Bubonic Plague, known as The Great Plague, in the years 1665-1666, long before infectious disease were known and understood.

Prior to that he was thought of as an unremarkable undergraduate student, according to Wikipedia. But given two years cooped up where he lived and avoiding the Plague gave him time alone to come up with his brilliant theories on classical mechanics, using calculus to explain it mathematically.

Suspicious youtube channels

I have been noticing over the past years, a couple of suspicious YouTube channels. For the past number of years, a number of fairly lefty videocasts, such as the news/comedy program Redacted Tonight seems to have “RT” as the provider of these rather polished video shows. “RT” is the video network Russia Today, based in Moscow, with offices and studios in Washington, DC. While the views expressed on Redacted Tonight fell within a certain tolerance a few decades ago, the views nowadays would be considered to be on the “far left”. I stop short of saying “radical left”, since this phrase is often uttered with an insufficient understanding of the word “radical”, and I don’t feel it applies to this program.

Below, host Lee Camp speaks on behalf of himself and the other creators of Redacted Tonight in a video posted last year as to the reasons why they chose RT as the vehicle for their comedy programs:

In his rather unusual way, Lee Camp has a point. No other major commercial media outlet would fund or support programming that would utter content that is critical of the military, corporate America, or their agenda. This would make us into aware participants of democracy, which goes agains what corporate America wants. They want us to be consumers. We can “vote” with our dollars for various products, not that the anticompetitive practices we have come to tolerate even provide us with a worthwhile choice between products.

Well, there are a lot of outlets that can provide the same thing as as what Camp claims RT is doing, and there is no reason why Camp and company could not start their own YouTube channel. However, it might mean that they would have to forego the flashy trappings of the RT studio. Because, that is what it means to be an alternative voice. Alternative voices are usually not well-funded, and don’t consist of a wall of multiple monitors, and a staff of layout artists, animators, cameramen, and sound engineers. Redacted Tonight would be considered small-budget for major media, but for “alternative voices”, such professional team efforts would be out of reach financially.

The question then becomes, how is programming from people such as Lee Camp benefitting Russia Today? Why would the Russians want to cause us to question our corporations and military? While I have watched enough of Redacted to form an opinion of whether they are disinforming us (it’s not obvious if it is), it is still consistent with the Russian penchant for sowing societal division through social media. However, it is barely perceptible by YouTube standards, since their videos typically garner not much more than 60,000 views, hardly a force to be reckoned with at the moment. They do have over 200,000 subscribers as of this viewing. To put that in perspective, one of my faviourite “math nerd” channels, 3Blue1Brown, has close to 2 million subscribers.

I wouldn’t normally feel this was that much worth writing about if it were not for the fact that there is another channel from another oligarchic nation. This time, China. CGTN is the China Global Television Network. They too have an American outlet, CGTN America, which is also in Washington DC. Of the few news videos I watched, I would characterize CGTN as more like the BBC in its reporting of foreign (American) stories, with not a whole lot of comedy competitive with Stephen Colbert, let alone Redacted Tonight.

An attempt to re-think the block editor

Due to some plugin problems, I deleted nearly all plugins now and am cautiously rebuilding the site. This is now another chance to check out the features of the block editor.

I had complained that there were toolbar problems with the editor that support groups have construed to be a problem with plugin conflicts. So, I now have a chance to, without plugins (except akismet), see how the editor is really supposed to behave. And the absence of plugins makes a positive difference.

Below is a video I have embedded from YouTube to show as a proof of concept that you tube plugins can be loaded with only the native code. It is one of my more recent videos.

In the coming weeks, I will be attempting to restore functionality to the website. Note that there are certain articles which have missing images. There are several images that need replacing, but most of the images have already been restored, especially for the old articles.

Crappy Album Covers: A New Day #331: Rednecks and plain folks

colouche Michel Gerard Joseph Colucci (1944-1986), best known as Colouche, was a French comedian. Apparently, as part of his satire, he once ran for French President back in 1980, with support from the satirical publication Charlie Hebdo. One campaign slogan went: “Before me, France was divided in two; now it will be doubled over into four” (the idiom “être plié en quatre,” can be translated as “doubled over laughing.”) At the time, he was up against François Mitterrand, who was very un-amused.
Eddie Brumley The problem with this concept, is that it is over-done, since a Googling of “Jesus sightings at Wal-Mart” yield over 400,000 hits.  Some are links to video blogs, or more traditional blogs where His likeness shows up on a Wal-Mart receipt. Rick Leland has even written a “Jesus at Wal-Mart” trilogy, on sale now at GoodReads, stretching the meme to its ultimate 750-page futility (a rough page total of the three books).The answer to the perennial question “What would Jesus do?”, according to these consistent, and persistent findings by many and sundry people, is that He would shop at Wal-Mart. And if Jesus had His way, Wal-Mart would be renamed Jesus Christ Superstore. That wasn’t exactly my image of Him, but I guess we must respect each other’s freedom of religion.

The website eddiebrumley.com is inactive, and other information on Brumley is very hard to obtain at the time of this writing.

Don Youngblood This was the fourth album by Rockabilly artist and Cincinnati native Don Youngblood. He had a fan club headquartered in Indiana. He sings and plays piano, and for the life of me, I can’t find the year of this album, although I saw a vinyl copy on sale at Amazon for around 12 bucks.

Brumley, I found Jesus at a Wal-Mart. To put the correct sense on this tune, Brumley was witnessed to at Wal-Mart. It is not far-fetched to say that Brumley’s near-empty kitchen pantry needed divine intervention, and that’s kind of what he is singing about:

Scientific Linux

Scientific Linux is the Linux distribution used by CERN and Fermilabs, which I had the experience of installing on to a USB stick to see how it ran. The choice of a USB stick was for many reasons. For one, all my computers are running an installed OS I am happy with, and this was a good opportunity to experiment. Second, I was exploring the use of Scientific Linux for its math and science applications, and wondering if there was anything I can take advantage of.

Apart from being a creature of Fermilabs, Scientific Linux appears to be based on the RedHat RHEL distribution. CERN was also a collaborator, but decided later to move to CentOS, another RHEL-compatible distro.

To “see what I could take advantage of”, I chose the option where it would install as a workstation. I chose a couple of other options, such as office software and programming software, and selected my USB for installation, and it installed very slowly. The image I chose was their maximal-sized image, burned on to a Blu-ray disk, and then booted on to my laptop, which recognized my Blu-ray disk as a boot device.

The install took hours, even though I only chose the three options. When it was finally installed on to the USB, I booted, and saw that I just got a minimal GNOME desktop.  No toolbar, no menus, except for the short menu that offered things like an xterm. But there was no menu that listed the available windowed applications. This made it difficult to explore what unique apps are part of Scientific Linux, or to run an installer to find out what could be installed.

So, for my use case, that being installing on a bootable USB stick, it was a no-go.

August in a Hamilton Airport Lounge

After I was compelled to go all the way to Hamilton to catch a plane to Edmonton to visit my parents, I had an earworm in my head – a song that wouldn’t leave my head: Bruce Cockburn’s January in a Halifax Airport Lounge, which appeared many decades ago. It had its imagery: the jets flying overhead, the Cyprus-bound RAF detail waiting to board, and the cocoon-like feeling of being stuck in a small airport in the middle of a snowstorm.

Hamilton is slowly being built up, and I am sure as it expands its tax base, it will try to beautify its old buildings downtown, including City Hall. The airport is still much-neglected, small as it is, and too close to Pearson Airport (I consider 70km too close, since Pearson is so massive) to be viable to any but locals.

And it was true. I felt like I was one of few people from out of town in this airport. The only “store” that exists here is a Tim Horton’s. No souvenir shops, and barely 100 meters exist between the baggage checks and the boarding gate (there is only one, leading to a general area). In the lounge area in front of both the gate and Tim Horton’s, families kept their kids occupied, one lady was doing her knitting, some people were on their devices, everyone seemed generally relaxed. It is in contrast to Pearson’s bustle, tension, and people’s crises over lost luggage, or possibly worse matters.

Today’s weather: Frantic!

A mere run-of-the-mill storm brewing in the Alberta prairies.

I just want to go over some of the phrases I have heard to describe weather. So far, we have heard of

  • thunder snow
  • polar vortex
  • bombogenesis
  • derechoes
  • meteotsunami

Of course, this is in addition to those boring old hurricanes, avalanches, whiteouts, monsoons and tornadoes, which are so “old school” that perhaps nobody cares anymore. And now meteorologiests have invented something else for us to worry about:

  • bomb cyclone

I swear they must pay someone to sit in a back room somewhere to create some way to sensationalize the weather with invented terminology. The fact is, it is enough that tornadoes alone this year have given us much to worry about along the redneck rivera states (a new term I am expanding on to include Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi — states along the Gulf of Mexico — here is the “known” definition) and other states in the Southern United States. So have droughts, which led to the forest fires all along the west coast of North America, from southern California to British Columbia.

I am aware that these extreme weather conditions are a part of global warming, and I am not going to deny that. I am against inventing new terms when perfectly good ones exist. Using existing terms, along with some kind of quantification (like wind speed, air pressure, temperature, wind chill, and so on) gives us a way to compare these weather events with earlier ones so that we can make up our own minds. Giving things a unique name obscures any attempt at comparison, which I think results in disinforming the public rather than informing them.

As I have said elsewhere …

I have been saying for the past six months that the coverage of Donald Trump has the effect of support for the Republican presidential candidate. Other events also contributed, most notably the coronation of Trump which constituted the whole Republican convention from start to finish. The mediocre crop of candidates surrounding Trump did not want to team up to bring him down, effectively dividing the vote in Donald’s favour, and everyone was in on the punch line except those same Republican candidates.

But the media play a big role, and all coverage follows a pattern of Trump saying something stupid, and like a Greek Chorus, the media then reacts with pundits and, oh yeah, the Democratic candidates as well. The rest of the media, including the Democratic party, and anyone else with an informed and responsible opinion all seem to act as the “straight man” to the Donald’s “zingers”.  But it has always been clear that Donald plays the lead.

It is like a sitcom, a serious process of choosing the leader of the free world, which has now become indistinguishable from show business. A person who contributes nothing to any democratic debate, and advances no topic worthy of serious discussion. There is also this slogan — I think it was “Make America Hate Again”, wasn’t it? Seems about right.

Recognizable OOC Recipients 04: Musicians

Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell

There are actually quite a number of Order of Canada recipients that are musicians. More musicians will appear in later installments.

Saskatoon native Joni Mitchell graced our radios in the decades since the sixties with her folk/pop singing that had been the influence of a great many musicians worldwide. Some of her album covers were self-drawn, and one was a self-portrait. She was made a companion of the Order of Canada in 2004.

Paul Anka

Going back a generation in music history, Ottawa-born Paul Anka is only two years older than Joni, but had his first hit song at age 15 when Diana went to the top of the Billboard charts in 1957, and was a hit on both sides of the Canada-US border. He continued to produce hit singles well into the 1980s. Greatest hits compilations have been showing up as recently as 2013

Fixing some brokenness in the website

Mostly what are being fixed are media links. Plugins have changed; media files got moved around. Right now some, but not all of the media is working. Since WordPress has native support for a lot of the media, I am trying to move away from using plugins and relying on the native support from WordPress itself, while fixing permission problems and plugging up some security holes. Hopefully all multimedia will be working soon.

New serieses (is that a word)?

I have some ideas for some new series in future posts.

I have to come out of the closet as being a teetotaler, and have been one all my life. In case you don’t know, a teetotaler is someone who totally abstains from drinking alcohol. In celebrating teetotalism, I am proposing a series of famous and very infamous teetotalers throughout history. While I share the title with St. John The Baptist, Nelson Mandela, Che Guevara, and Thomas Edison; there are also the infamous who were teetotalers: Jefferey Dahmer, and Adolf Hitler, to name two. Happily, there are far more good people than bad on the list. This is proposed to happen on Saturdays.

I have also thought of making a list of notable Order of Canada recipients over the past 25 years. Of all the ones in the list, I have had the pleasure of knowing one of them: Dr. Lap-Chee Tsui, who was my professor in a course on somatic cell genetics many years ago. This is proposed to happen on Wednesdays.

Another way of entering function notation in Maple

A while ago, I wrote about writing functions in Maple, which made it possible to use function notation inside of the software. There is a simpler way to do it, taking only one step:

f:=x-> x2 - 3*x + 2

And I can place this f(x) in a plot() command, and it will behave the same way as before.

The bad optics of playing the “bully” card for Margaret Trudeau

Yes, I know the context. Margaret said what she said in the grander context of negative politics, using her son as an example.

The CBC article online today grabbed my attention: “Attacks on Justin Trudeau ‘straight out bullying,’ says mom Margaret“. That, and the illustration just conveyed the worst possible image of a mother doting on her grown son, who needs to stand on his own as an independent politician.

It plays into the Conservative image of trying to dissuade voters from Trudeau because of his young age. The truth is that Harper was 43 when he took over the Reform-Alliance Party, and he was almost that age when he first became Prime Minister. That is the same age as Justin Trudeau is now. At any rate the interview was to promote her new book, The Time of Your Life, about growing old as  a woman in Canada. But the last two minutes or so made the headline story.

The disappearance of misc.activism.progressive and the emergence of Thought Crime Radio

Almost four years ago, the articles in the USENET newsgroup misc.activism.progressive ground to a halt, and moderator Rich Winkel has all but disappeared from the USENET, whom I learn resided in Harrisburg (up until 2010, at least), a half hour or so drive from his former employer, the University of Missouri. He is now a computer systems analyst, and in his spare time, is a writer for the Thought Crime Radio blog.

misc.activism.progressive (MAP) was a moderated newsgroup which accepted submissions from authors of left-leaning articles. Opinions ranged from the mainstream NY Transfer News Collective (who often sent articles from, or based on news from Reuters, Wall Street Journal, the UK Independent and other feeds from the popular press) to the conspiracy theorists at InfoWars.

Some time between 2007 and 2008, one of the biggest contributors to MAP, NY Transfer News Collective, stopped posting articles, and its parent company, Blythe Systems seems to have folded, leaving no Internet trace of itself. The daily output of MAP was cut in half as a result.

Postings gradually died out until March 2011 when they died out completely. As far as I had been able to search out, there appeared to be no warning of this in previous years. Mind you, one would have to search through tens of thousands of posts going back to 2007 just before things started to peter out. By about 2010, name searches for “Rich Winkel” began to come up empty, but his email address was still around.

This newsgroup was always a great source of thought and news regarding labour, politics, and “alternative voices” (as long as you stay away from Infowars). It was always weak on health and science coverage. Medicare was well-covered (because that was more about government, and they were always better at that), but articles along the lines of “chemical xyz can kill you” were usually flaky and withered once you did your own research.

Measles epidemiology and junk science

To take a very recent example, Rich Winkel attached his name to this article, written a few days ago, which claims zero deaths from measles since 2003, but 108 deaths due to vaccines during the same period. The first quote he offers for the zero figure was by CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat, filtered though Associated Press, filtered through Fox News, filtered though the blog Vaccine Impact. The VAERS database he refers to says in its disclaimer that any statistics mentioned should not be taken as cause-and-effect. Anyone with high school math can tell you that correlation does not imply causation. VAERS says that they take in all reported data such as mortality after the injection of a vaccine whether or not the death was associated with a vaccine. The deaths, in other words were recorded in the database even if there were pre-existing conditions, accidents, or whatnot.

But of course, zero is a powerful number. I mean, zero. Zero! How can you argue with zero? Well, in fact you can. Going back to the CDC’s epidemiological data, there are deaths on any year between 2003 and now caused by Measles in the United States. It’s just that the number of measles outbreaks themselves is so low in the United States that it would not surprise me that the numbers would be extremely low (during 2003-2012 between 1 and 4). If I were the CDC chairman, I would round those number to zero, too.

And that would be one death for every dozen or so cases – some years, that a dozen cases would be all of the measles cases in a country of nearly 300 million inhabitants. On the other hand, the 108 figure is quoted without saying how many Americans were vaccinated during the past 12 years. Once I do the research from the source (rather than from quotes of quotes), I seem to get a picture of a successful immunization program, and the 108 deaths (out of the hundreds of millions of vaccinated Americans) could have been due to anything. One death out of a dozen for measles is a larger number than 100 deaths out of 300 million for vaccinations, by several orders of magnitude.

Death is one of the end products of measles, by the way. The CDC reports that, worldwide, 168,000 people died as a result of measles in 2008 alone. That number is pretty sobering.  This is a significant decrease from over 700,000 deaths in 2000. The CDC says that all of these numbers are low, since measles tends to be under-reported. But the 78% decrease, no doubt happened due to a successful immunization program. The CDC says the worldwide numbers cannot go down to zero, since there are counrties such as India, which are slow to apply the recommendations of the WHO, or cannot afford to.

The Florida cases reported by the CDC back in September, 2014 consisted of four child siblings, all between the ages of 7 and 13, none of whom were vaccinated. Measles is transmitted through the air by affected people coughing or sneezing. Did it spread? No, it didn’t. Why? The children in the school they attended, as well as the staff, were immunized, according to the same article. The children attended an amusement park where it was likely someone with measles was there from another country (this is usually the main disease vector in the United States for catching measles in any given year).

The family of those children claimed a religious exemption from vaccinations, and for some time the children recieved a free ride from needing to be immunized thanks to being around their immunized classmates (this is called herd immunity), but that was no protection once they came close to anyone with the actual disease.

Questioning whether the vaccine “works” is a distracting issue (actually, a non-issue since whether the measles vaccine works is beyond debate by any informed person including the CDC and the WHO), and a confusing, obfuscatory barrage of decontextualized factoids from this-and-that source does not advance any useful discussion.

The Philosophical issue of vaccinations

The issue here isn’t about a non-working vaccine or about big bad pharma making money off immunizations (which they are, but in at least this one case, it is well-earned IMO), but Rich Winkel misses a greater philosophical question that can indeed cause much genuine and badly-needed debate:

The parents of these children deny their children the vaccination, making a claim to associated with their freedom of religion. Should the need to protect the population from disease override the indiviual’s freedom of religion for the good of the general population?

I would weigh in that surely, not immunizing your children places them in harm’s way, and you ought to be seen as a negligent parent if you chose this path, regardless of your beliefs; but at the same time, you are exposing others to disease by their lack of protection. The viruses don’t care about your rights, that’s for sure.

But hey, that’s just me. This is more of a topic which would play to Rich Winkel’s strengths, and it truly is a debate suppressed by the major media organs of our culture. I would leave the non-debate as to whether the Vaccine “works” to Fox News.

If operating systems were airlines (a compilation)

If Operating Systems Were Airlines is a popular article that predates the web, and was first seen in Usenet in the 1980s. Over time, it has undergone several revisions all over the internet. Here is a compilation as far as I can do. Most of this is sourced from webaugur.com. But there has been other OSes added from elsewhere. Illustrations and logos are from random places about the web.

DOS Airlines

Everybody pushes the airplane until it glides, then they jump on and let the plane coast until it hits the ground again, then they push again jump on again, and so on.

OS/2 Airlines

The terminal is almost empty, with only a few prospective passengers milling about. The announcer says that their flight has just departed, wishes them a good flight, though there are no planes on the runway. Airline personnel walk around, apologising profusely to customers in hushed voices, pointing from time to time to the sleek, powerful jets outside the terminal on the field. They tell each passenger how good the real flight will be on these new jets and how much safer it will be than Windows Airlines, but that they will have to wait a little longer for the technicians to finish the flight systems.

Once they finally finished you’re offered a flight at reduced cost.  To board the plane, you have your ticket stamped ten different times by standing in ten different lines. Then you fill our a form showing where you want to sit and whether the plane should look and feel like an ocean liner, a passenger train or a bus. If you succeed in getting on the plane and the plane succeeds in taking off the ground, you have a wonderful trip…except for the time when the rudder and flaps get frozen in position, in which case you will just have time to say your prayers and get in crash position.

Wings of Windows

The terminal is pretty and colorful, with friendly stewards, easy baggage check and boarding, and a smooth take-off.  After about 10 minutes in the air, the plane explodes with no warning whatsoever.

Windows NT Air

Just like Windows Air, but costs more, uses much bigger planes, and takes out all the other aircraft within a 40-mile radius when it explodes.

Mac Air Air

All the stewards, stewardesses, captains, baggage handlers, and ticket agents look the same, act the same, and talk the same. Every time you ask questions about details, you are told you don’t need to know, don’t want to know, and would you please return to your seat and watch the movie.

Unix Airlines

Each passenger brings a piece of the airplane and a box of tools to the airport. They gather on the tarmac, arguing constantly about what kind of plane they want to build and how to put it together. Eventually, they build several different aircraft, but give them all the same name. Some passengers actually reach their destinations. All passengers believe they got there.

OSX Air:

You enter a white terminal, and all you can see is a woman sitting in the corner behind a white desk, you walk up to get your ticket. She smiles and says “Welcome to OS X Air, please allow us to take your picture”, at which point a camera in the wall you didn’t notice before takes your picture. “Thank you, here is your ticket” You are handed a minimalistic ticket with your picture at the top, it already has all of your information. A door opens to your right and you walk through. You enter a wide open space with one seat in the middle, you sit, listen to music and watch movies until the end of the flight. You never see any of the other passengers. You land, get off, and you say to yourself “wow, that was really nice, but I feel like something was missing”

Wings of OS/400

The airline has bought ancient DC-3s, arguably the best and safest planes that ever flew, and painted “747” on their tails to make them look as if they are fast. The flight attendants, of course, attend to your every need, though the drinks cost $15 a pop. Stupid questions cost $230 per hour, unless you have SupportLine, which requires a first class ticket and membership in the frequent flyer club. Then they cost $500, but your accounting department can call it overhead.

Mach Airlines

There is no airplane. The passengers gather and shout for an airplane, then wait and wait and wait and wait. A bunch of people come, each carrying one piece of the plane with them. These people all go out on the runway and put the plane together piece by piece, arguing constantly about what kind of plane they’re building. The plane finally takes off, leaving the passengers on the ground waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting. After the plane lands, the pilot telephones the passengers at the departing airport to inform them that they have arrived.

Newton Airlines

After buying your ticket 18 months in advance, you finally get to board the plane. Upon boarding the plane you are asked your name. After 6 times, the crew member recognizes your name and then you are allowed to take your seat. As you are getting ready to take your seat, the steward announces that you have to repeat the boarding process because they are out of room and need to recount to make sure they can take more passengers.

VMS Airlines (Also applies to MVS Airways)

The passengers all gather in the hanger, watching hundreds of technicians check the flight systems on this immense, luxury aircraft. This plane has at least 10 engines and seats over 1,000 passengers. All the passengers scramble aboard, as do the necessary complement of 200 technicians. The pilot takes his place up in the glass cockpit. He guns the engines, only to realise that the plane is too big to get through the hangar doors.

UNIX Airways

Everyone brings one piece of the plane along when they come to the airport. They all go out on the runway and put the plane together piece by piece, arguing non-stop about what kind of plane they are supposed to be building.

BeOS Air

You have to pay for the tickets, but they’re half the price of Windows Air, and if you are an aircraft mechanic you can probably ride for free. It only takes 15 minutes to get to the airport and you are cheuferred there in a limozine. BeOS Air only has limited types of planes that only only hold new luggage. All planes are single seaters and the model names all start with an “F” (F-14, F-15, F-16, F-18, etc.). The plane will fly you to your destination on autopilot in half the time of other Airways or you can fly the plane yourself. There are limited destinations, but they are only places you’d want to go to anyway. You tell all your friends how great BeOS Air is and all they say is “What do you mean I can’t bring all my old baggage with me?”

Windows XP Air

You turn up at the airport,which is under contract to only allow XP Air planes. All the aircraft are identical, brightly coloured and three times as big as they need to be. The signs are huge and all point the same way. Whichever way you go, someone pops up dressed in a cloak and pointed hat insisting you follow him. Your luggage and clothes are taken off you and replaced with an XP Air suit and suitcase identical to everyone around you as this is included in the exorbitant ticket cost. The aircraft will not take off until you have signed a contract. The inflight entertainment promised turns out to be the same Mickey Mouse cartoon repeated over and over again. You have to phone your travel agent before you can have a meal or drink. You are searched regularly throughout the flight. If you go to the toilet twice or more you get charged for a new ticket. No matter what destination you booked you will always end up crash landing at Whistler in B. C.

Windows Vista Airlines:

You enter a good looking terminal with the largest planes you have ever seen. Every 10 feet a security officer appears and asks you if you are “sure” you want to continue walking to your plane and if you would like to cancel. Not sure what cancel would do, you continue walking and ask the agent at the desk why the planes are so big. After the security officer making sure you want to ask the question and you want to hear the answer, the agent replies that they are bigger because it makes customers feel better, but the planes are designed to fly twice as slow. Adding the size helped achieve the slow fly goal.

Once on the plane, every passenger has to be asked individually by the flight attendants if they are sure they want to take this flight. Then it is company policy that the captain asks the passengers collectively the same thing. After answering yes to so many questions, you are punched in the face by some stranger who when he asked “Are you sure you want me to punch you in the face? Cancel or Allow?” you instinctively say “Allow”.

After takeoff, the pilots realize that the landing gear driver wasn’t updated to work with the new plane. Therefore it is always stuck in the down position. This forces the plane to fly even slower, but the pilots are used to it and continue to fly the planes, hoping that soon the landing gear manufacturer will give out a landing gear driver update.

You arrive at your destination wishing you had used your reward miles with XP airlines rather than trying out this new carrier. A close friend, after hearing your story, mentions that Linux Air is a much better alternative and helps.

GNU/Linux Airlines

Disgruntled employees of all the other OS airlines decide to start their own airline. They build the planes, ticket counters, and pave the runways themselves. They charge a small fee to cover the cost of printing the ticket, but you can also download and print the ticket yourself. When you board the plane, you are given a seat, four bolts, a wrench and a copy of the seat-HOWTO.html. Once settled, the fully adjustable seat is very comfortable, the plane leaves and arrives on time without a single problem, the in-flight meal is wonderful. You try to tell customers of the other airlines about the great trip, but all they can say is, “You had to do what with the seat?”

In a world where all noise are created equal I: Genres I know nothing about

The website everynoise.com deals in some way with plotting the musical classification categories of all music that exists (to which they are aware) on their web page. The next few articles form a small sample of the nearly 1500 genres listed. On that website, if you click on a genre, you are given a sound sample. Click again, you are led to another page consisting of band names in that genre. Now, as a former college DJ, I have heard of a lot of these genres, but here is a list I have not heard of at all:

atmospheric post-metal
australian alternative rock
brazilian indie
brutal death metal This is actually one of many genres that are made new by placing the word “brutal” in the genre name.
christian hardcore
christian punk
classic chinese pop
classic peruvian pop
columbus ohio indie
funky breaks
liquid funk
stomp and whittle
stomp pop
technical death metal Where music goes to technically die, I suppose.
triangle indie
ye ye

This is the first of a series of lists of strange music genre names listed at the site. For a complete list along with band names and music samplings, visit the site Every Noise at Once.

The questions of our ‘net denizens

From time to time one gets curious about the most popular questions on the minds of people on the ‘net.

If I enter “why” in the Google search, depending on the letter that comes after, I get, through autocomplete:

  • Why be happy when you could be normal
  • Why does Facebook suck
  • Why fighting should stay in hockey
  • Why? For the glory of Satan, of course!
  • Why girls like bad boys
  • Why hashtag
  • Why hipsters are annoying
  • Why jailbreak Apple TV
  • Why Jesus
  • Why Jimi Hendrix is the best
  • Why Justin Bieber sucks
  • Why Kakashi killed Rin
  • Why Kanye West is a Genius
  • Why Lululemon
  • Why men cheat
  • Why married men cheat
  • Why milk is bad for you
  • Why Mio is bad for you
  • Why not both
  • Why nice guys finish last
  • Why Nintendo power is ending
  • Why Nunu Why
  • Why Pepsi is better than Coke
  • Why powerful men cheat
  • Why pixar movies are all secretly about the apocalypse
  • Why stop now
  • Where is Chuck Norris
  • Where is my mind
  • Where do bad kids go
  • Where are your gibes now
  • Where is bigfoot
  • Where can I buy cards against humanity
  • Where do cool things happen
  • Where did God leave his shoes
  • Where was Justin Bieber born
  • Where does Kate Middleton shop
  • Where does Kylie Jenner shop
  • Where is my droid
  • Where was Micheal Jackson born

An SSD on an HP TX-2 Laptop with Linux

I recently purchased an OCZ Vertex 2 Solid State Hard Drive. The price per gig is enormous ($220 after taxes, in-store warranty, and mail-in rebate for a 120 gig hard drive), but is just the size to install the operating system and any applications I like. I generally don’t use the main hard drive (or C: drive) for documents, graphics, or anything else that would be user-created, which is a protection in  case of failure.

I wanted to see how this thing would make my tablet sing, and what I initially wanted was to install the original backup that came with my HP TX2 tablet, and that was from a Future Shop backup that I paid $100.00 for. The backup failed, and I had to order system recovery disks from HP, and I had them couriered to me at my expense the next day (it’s nice when you live in the same city as one of the HP warehouses!).

I have been using my current laptop since about summer 2009, and have been reasonably happy with the device. I am currently running W7, and have found that performance degrades in approximately 1-year cycles. This summer, I decided to invest in a solid state 120G SATA 2 drive, which was quite a sacrifice in storage space from my roomy 500G “conventional” notebook drive, itself a replacement from a failed stock drive that shipped with it and lasted a year.

I needed to wait for recovery CDs to be shipped from HP (the original failed hard drive took the backups with it), and while I was doing so, I tried installing Ubuntu 11.04 to see what would happen. A reboot later, and I found that the pen, my finger, and the touchpad all worked with zero configuration. For those missing a Windows Journal replacement, there are at least 3 that are out there, but only xournal installed properly using

sudo apt-get install xournal

It also worked properly. I now learned that xournal is superior to MS Journal in that it supports the use of rulers and can also interpret your pen strokes as circles, quadrilaterals, triangles or straight lines when a tool button is pressed.

I didn’t see a way to turn off the “finger touch” option. Finger touch is a pain when using a pen, since it throws off your pen strokes and the mouse generally. If there was a way to turn it off, I didn’t find it. I also didn’t find anything that would calibrate things like sensitivity, or recalibrate the n-Trig system if things go haywire. In this case, this moment of nirvana only lasted one reboot. In the next reboot, the Ubuntu splash screen malfunctioned and registered an error message, and the mouse behaved unpredictably.

One thing, however, the loading speed of the program was noticeably faster, due largely to the new SSD. Libre Office loaded almost as fast as vi.

But even so, a vastly improved performance on this unit over Linux versions from last year. I am now sitting through the interminable Software Install screen for the original Vista OS it was shipped with, which will provide factory settings (3 hours running so far, not sure why it would take that long). I intend to make a small partition at the end of the drive for Linux, and another smaller one for swap space. I am doing this because I was curious as to what had gone wrong with the installation to cause it to behave awkwardly on subsequent reboots.

I also noticed that there isn’t a way to rotate the screen. I read mostly from posts in 2009 that no driver had been developed yet, and obviously no driver made it into the Ubuntu codebase for me to take advantage of.

The TX2 also allows me to run Linux from a bootable USB stick, and check things from that vantage point in case I change my mind and decide to use the entire SSD disk for Windows.

Chili and TSP

I always had an aversion to veggie foods. This isn’t because I hate the stuff; it’s more because I admit to quite a lot of ignorance toward going veggie and eating balanced meals at the same time. This doesn’t mean I avoid it altogether, it’s just that I didn’t feel ready to let go of more traditional food sources I’ve had. Until recently, I couldn’t imagine a life without eating meat. The difficulty with vegetarianism is that it seems to me that my food options are far fewer if I arbitrarily make up a rule saying “thou shall not eat meat”. The meat for me is the highlight of the meal. It’s where the flavours go, and is high in protein. And we are genetically programmed to crave fat and carbohydrates. We share the biology and instincts of the carnivore, so there is no sense in living in denial, is there? I think that the fact that I am overweight is reason enough, though. So, save your animal rights activism for someone who will listen, OK?

I had a guest over to my place and in having to divide my attention several ways at once, there may be inaccuracies in the ingredients list, but here is what I recall:

  • 1 cup TSP (Textured soy protein) instead of hamburger
  • 1.25 cups of boiling water to add to the TSP
  • 1 more cup of water
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons of Chili mix (or 1 packet)
  • 1 cup of tomato paste (2 tins)
  • 1 large can of kidney beans, strained
  • 1 onion, chopped into cubes
  • BBQ Sauce (I chose honey garlic)

Add the TSP and the hot water into a medium bowl. Mix well, so that the water is evenly distributed. Let it sit while you prepare the rest of the meal.

In a large skillet, add the vegetable oil and chopped onion. Fry under high heat until the onion is mostly soft and beginning to brown, stirring frequently. Then, add the kidney beans, stirring constantly for several minutes. Turn the heat down to medium, then add the tomato paste, followed by the chili mix. Mix well so that all ingredients are evenly distributed, adding the remaining water. Add a dash of BBQ sauce to taste. Finally, turn the heat down to low and add the hydrated TSP to the rest of the chili mix. Stir well.

Verdict: The difference in mouthfeel and odor was noticeable, but the difference was tolerable overall, and it was a satisfying meal. I could do this a second and third time.


  • I purchased TSP at a bulk foods store such as The Bulk Barn. It sold for about $0.49 per 100 or so grams. It is sold at Bulk Barn as “TVP”, or “Textured Vegetable Protein”, made from high-protein soy concentrate (50-70% protein by dry mass).
  • TVP is one of a few meat analogs that exist. It is recommended for vegetarians and vegans who have few other ways of obtaining a high protein source in their diet. It is also a good source of fibre. The isoflavones in TSP are a known anticarcinogen.
  • TSP has zero cholesterol and almost no fat, quite unlike hamburger. But like hamburger, TSP, when hydrated has the same protein value, gram for gram.
  • Hydrated TSP also has the appearance of ground beef. While I didn’t do this, if you wanted more of a “meaty” kick to the TSP, you could use beef broth instead of just hot water. TSP requires the flavouring to be added during the hydration step. You don’t need hot water for hydration; you can use cold water. Water was hot for this recipe to save time and energy. Bulk Barn recommends that some vinegar to be added to quicken the hydration, which I would suppose would be more important if you need to have the water cold.
  • The same Bulk Barn page claims that their TVP is 53% protein by dry mass. A serving of 100g dry TVP (I imagine that is over 200g when wet) has 290 calories, providing you with 30% of your daily calcium needs, and more than enough iron.
  • You can be creative with the flavouring. It doesn’t have to be beef broth. This is because TSP doesn’t have any flavour of its own. TSP is to meat what Surimi is to fish. If you add your own flavour, you can use TSP to imitate almost any other meat, or use it to have its own novel flavour of your creation and risk-taking prowess. But if you come up with “bubblegum-flavoured” TSP, you don’t have to invite me over. But seriously, I was thinking of experimenting with red wine with a reduced amount of broth. I suspect that the wine might help in terms of adding another dimension to the flavour. Or what about substituting chicken broth for beef broth? I don’t think there would be anything wrong with that either.
  • My guess is that TSP works best in dishes where the burger flavour won’t matter quite as much, such as in chili, sloppy joes, spaghetti, burritos or tacos. In those cases, you just add it for the texture and nutritive value.