The Lone Ranger gets schooled

Just who is being stupid? “Tonto or the inappropriately masked man who’s horse is named, Silver

I’d rather things were boring. Opening up a page with the news is like drinking from a fire hose running at full blast. A bit much. Other than that things are simpler. Keeping occupied in retirement is hobbies. Keeping alive vs the existential threat of the moment, is just another pastime. But it was always so – I just never had my attention forced in this way. Wana dye? Just have somebody breath on you, its easy. The spell checker said it was OK so its OK. Took the motorcycle down to a beach on the coast. Sat a safe distance from strollers and kids on bikes. Almost normal. Not many masks, They are not talismans. They have little to do if you are 10 feet away from everyone. They don’t have antiseptic mojo or anything. They just impede the breathing in of tiny, tiny, tiny droplets of water in which viral particles are like lone swimmers in an Olympic sized pool. Those critters are small! Someone said I was being pedantic, “moi?, pedantic” I recoiled, when I said it was amazing how they are stalking the herd (I’m starting to slide into acceptance at being part of a herd) like the jackals stalking wildebeests in the Serengeti. I said, “and they are not a life form” They check none of the boxes that qualify as life. They don’t reproduce (they “borrow” our cells for their version of procreation). They don’t eat. They are so small that if they did eat they’d atoms. Salads of Hydrogen and Oxygen, Nitrogen, gotta have that. So they don’t have sex with each other to reproduce. They don’t eat, not even left-overs. What else?, life moves, usually…even trees can move under their own power. A virus?, no. No legs, arms, a quadriplegic from the get go. They can’t crawl or fly on their own. But, to their great fortune and our dismay, humans and other mammals have a cloud of water droplets around them. Our exhalation is a thin monsoon of misty rain. So even if you don’t have a fever you might be sending out water loaded with viral particles. They’re software really. Not life. They are code designed to run on our machinery. Its as though a computer virus was making your printer spew out prints one after another. What does us in is the immune system going nuclear trying to defend us. The side effects of that seem to be a lot of the symptoms. I always end up talking about cv19 don’t I?, guess you are sick of reading about cv19. Yah, I hear ya, me too. Anyway, the tide was out and I noticed a few people had masks on tho nobody was near. The beach is interesting because of the new stuff that washes up at high tide. The wavy lines of seaweed and driftwood. That’s flotsam and jetsam right? I must have some somewhere. Kids and a couple of dogs splashing in the water. Bet it was cold. The three wind turbines were spinning on one of the islands. A full rotation every five seconds. Must be wonderful to have your electric power come from wind. I imagine I’d be in rapture if my computer, fridge and lights were breezy cool like the wind over the island. But my power comes from coal, I think. It has that bituminous taste. Or is it anthracite? I’ve forgotten. I can’t concentrate anymore. Has it only been three months?

Four Months of THIS !

Seems strange to see people without masks. I’ve worn mine exactly once in the last four months

Back in March the Forth of July seemed a long ways away. It was gonna be warm. On the 4th we’d have a cookout, family at safe distances (mom is 96) but the weather was cold and clammy. I am reminded of Mark Twain saying that the coldest winter he ever had was summer in San Francisco. Its the fog that does it. Well we get fog on the Maine coast too. But at least it wasn’t raining. I do not go anywhere…I take trips on the motorcycle but don’t stop at burger joints or discount stores. I do get gas now and then, pay at the pump. Somebody shops for me and leaves the bag in the garage, they insist so I accept. Could order it online. Everything is on line. The economy is on the line. I’m cautious about the virus, I’m scared about inflation. You’d think I was an old German remembering the inflation in Germany in the 1920’s. A wheelbarrow of money to buy a loaf of bread. Your pay loosing half its purchasing power in a few days. Borrowers chasing down lenders to repay loans with legal but worthless tender. I sure hope it doesn’t happen, but. Like all these experts keep saying, “we are in uncharted territory”, Well, I guess we are. I never ran out the lines of logic that crossed each other locally in March. The lines for global transportation, the introduction of novel virus in Asia periodically and the line I’d never have imagined…the total incompetence of the US government in crisis. The White House handlers are pushing for a new message. Remember the old one?, “Its going away, very soon, very very soon, its going away, far away, you’ll see” to “We’re stuck, deal with it!” Which, as messaging goes, is pretty succinct and accurate. Should have said that back in March. Wouldn’t have made a bit of difference but…make a note for next time Donald.

Yo y el primero de Julio

A lot of emotion, confusion and, at least one Oxford coma.

Its been raining. The weeds must be thriving out there in the damp. The First day of July and winter is just around the corner. I always feel we’re coasting from this point. That’s Maine weather, seasonal to perfection. It will get hot and cool off. If we are lucky the late Summer and Fall are perfect outside. Temps moderate, everything moderate. Maybe even the ticks. Better to respect nature, love? ya, with reservations. Don’t have much choice. This thin band of air wrapped around the Earth is it. A biosphere rife with creatures and little bugs to attack them. Dwelling on the littlest members of the complement on board spaceship Earth? Yes, Me ah culpa. That senior shopper hour the local WalMart has, is that so they can zero in on us, the most vulnerable? Get us all in one herd and send the nasty little droplets our way. Why aren’t these people wearing masks! It is difficult to draw cartoon people with masks on. Expression poses enough difficulty to the drawing challenged, como yo, without covering the face. Is that why Donald refuses to wear his mask in public? If we can’t see his mouth moving how would we know he was spouting bilge? Next time I go somewhere I need to wear a mask, I’m adding a rubber band. Something to pull the two loops together at the back of my head. Its just a theory now but with testing I think the mask will hold its position better. Its got to face the onslaught of little droplets of spittle spewing from all the people waiting their opportunity to get me!

As in many science fiction movies you can’t tell who the zombies are you have to assume its anyone…..

I bet we will laugh about this later….We’ll get a real chuckle at how silly we were to get shook up by this. Oh my, just another false alarm. A fantasy put into our minds by the media. War of the Worlds with a modern twist. But hey, in that story the virus was the hero! Ya, it was the virus that killed all the Martians. But you didn’t know that. Doesn’t matter it was fiction written more than a century ago. Want me to be serious?…no you don’t. I don’t want to. OK, maybe a little….this is going to get much worse. What is the point of being serious beyond joining the dooms day folks. Not in their shelter, you’ll get buck-shot in the butt if you try getting into their luxurious underground shelter. No its time to make a more modest shelter. Could be worse, could be fall out. Maybe there will be. I have prepped for that. Well at least to the extent of building Geiger counters. The CV19 detector is what we really need. We will have them some day. An app and cheap tiny bit of hardware. Not now though. We enter the pandemic with the tools we have not the ones we need. I’ve been thinking in my delirium about the research being done. The research that will be done, to rid us of this natural enemy. Double edged sword isn’t it. Learning to sequence and synthesize and then design complex organics can and no doubt will take two paths. One to save lives and one, as a weapon to kill people. That always seems to happen with man’s science, both paths are taken. Nuclear power and nuclear weapons. Too many bad actors are seeing what this natural virus is doing and they’re impressed. The conspiracy crowd say this is a Chinese weapon. I doubt that – not like plagues out of Asia are anything new. That part of the world has been the source from way back in human history. So its always been just a matter of when. You invest in a bio lab or a cascade of centrifuges. Why does human genius take destructive paths? Good luck to all.

Equilibrium Fractured

Interesting times eh?

May you live in interesting times” well, we got our wish. My instinct somehow is to think its one crisis at a time. It isn’t of course. The crises don’t have a coordinating committee assigning different pains in the ass at different times to different creatures. No, they pile on. Can’t blame the virus for social instability, we know it was there. The equilibrium which included institutional racism is fractured. But it is the majority society that has failed to insist on a less military style of police. But its all one system. Society and the police are not isolated. The society has ask, is asking, for the police they have. The alternative will be armed citizens committees, vigilantes, gangs to put it bluntly. Society wants and will get something for their fear. Defund the police? How are you going to rebuild a force from the raw material of a violent society? Change the society? Might take a while. So its fix this police mind set or deal with thousands of vigilante groups. Fixing what we got is a better way to go. Is society going to suddenly get warm and fuzzy because the cops are nicer? No, they’re a violent bunch… and that’s the law abiding citizen. There is a huge criminal class, its business as usual for them. Corrupt as the cops can be its nothing to policing by gangs and the bribes they’d get. Don’t re invent the wheel. More numbness I’m sorry to say. The goal of social justice is noble and overdue. But care is needed in tactics. Think ahead a little. Now, back to the virus (which is already in progress). There is another virus. In China and in pigs. We used to say, big deal, it’ll never come here. Don’t say that anymore. The various little bugs bugging us like the nomad existence just as we do. They like to see the world and meet new hosts. Hello, I’m a novel virus, I’ve just arrived and I’d like to take over lots of cells in your body so I can copy myself. An airBnB guest of the worst kind. They fly the same jets we do to their overseas destinations….but they never go home. They move in and make us their home. I just suspect there is a third form of disaster heading this way. Remember the three horsemen of the Apocalypse? Three plus a spare. So whats the third bit of bad news. Rock from space? or, or that star that is flickering like its about to nova. Its a big one. Maybe too far away to do much to us. Bright light in sky is emblematic for big changes coming. It’s in the book. Reality doesn’t need to follow scripts but if I was advising I’d say, throw in the meteor or comet or let Betelgeuse shoot X-Rays at us. I’d advise the movie’s director to do that. Its not over the top!, I’d say, the public has been nursed on disaster movies for half a century, they expect it. Or we could turn this into a religious flick, like the ten commandments, Bright light in the sky, Plague, rumors of war, actual war, rioting in the streets, and a toilet paper shortage. I had no idea that in 1973 when a gas shortage hit the USA there was a “run” on toilet paper ! Just like in March. Nobody’s figured out why this happens! Where are the conspiracy people? There must be interests manipulating things to sell TP but their secret is being well kept…I haven’t heard a thing about that….mysterious! Que the Theremin.

July’s leading edge

I don’t really have a graphics tablet, just an old school paper clip board and scanner

Haven’t posted anything here for a week plus. My mood shifts in normal times. I might feel like putting together content one day and not the next. I have other activities so its not like I am fetal lining in a spider hole. That’s too much like being inturd, a shitty feeling… but do we have much choice?. I wrote my daughter that this was just the beginning. She is in Florida where the government gave Trump’s magical thinking a trial. They opened up and surprise surprise, the virus spread. Less testing Trump says, would lower the number. He goes to the heart of the problem with that. Number too high, re-election in jeopardy, reduce testing, problem solved. If this were a baseball game the USA would be in the first half of the first inning. They go nine innings (for you in another country). Will I ever get over my astonishment at how NUMB so many of fellow citizens are? Never never never submitting to reality! The spread of a novel virus in a herd of humans is like gravity, part of the natural world. Falling from a thousand feet up is easy….in the first few seconds. In that time you can convince yourself falling is over rated as a danger. Newton called in to testify about the effects of gravity and how it works gets booed off the stage. False physics. Things will be fine….the falling will slow and end….its all a plot to make the president look bad. Then it will be Newton’s fault, he created the universal law of gravitation, blame him. We are still falling. Well, blame the Italians! that’s where the leaning tower is. That’s where they dropped unequal masses and observed them reaching the ground at the same time. Later it was done on the moon with a feather and something denser. They hit the dust together. Meanwhile we are still falling, accelerating in fact. No parachute. Don’t believe in them. Anyway Obama’s fault, he took all the parachutes when he left the WH. The ground is still a long ways down. Plenty of time to place the blame and twaddle as our acceleration grows. Thud…..we landed. Now the survey says if a vacine were available people here would not be inoculated in sufficient numbers to confer herd immunity. The antivax people would campaign against it. Too damn many people in the world, thats the root of the problem…solution under way.

WHO gnu there would be another flu? I thought it would be a meteor or comet or super nova nearby

There is a time when its appropriate to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theater. The admonition against doing so assumes there really isn’t a fire. There is a fire. TOO DAMN many humans on the planet! I will do my part in reducing the population by entering the big sleep in the not too distant future…not just now, if it can be avoided, but in a couple of years. But seriously folks, epidemics are nature’s way of saying…there are too damn many of you creatures. It has worked in managing things for a billion years plus. I imagine these viral particles are very ancient. Good luck to everyone.

Juneteenth+1 in Tulsa

What could go wrong?

The idiot in chief says he made Juneteenth famous. He did put a spot light on it. We’ve seen enough of his clown act to know there are several angles on what he does. He claims ignorance of the significance of the 19th of June for black citizens. Declaring his ignorance, which I guess we are expected to translate to “innocence”, is one of his defense strategies. Considering the level of racism in his base setting the 19th in Tulsa was not a coincidence. Having tossed a bone to his supporters he delayed his rally a day. In normal times this would have been plenty. But, these are not normal times….or maybe they are. Peace, love and brotherhood are abnormal. So into the mix goes the virus. Its not a political beast, the virus. Its just “bad news in a protein package”. It doesn’t vote. But when something challenges Donald the clown, it becomes political to him, and his highly suggestible followers. Masks will be available in the venue but not required. Social distance? not mandated, not expected. Why would a true believer hurl an insult at the great one by wearing a mask. Even a maga mask (do they exist?). Refraining from breathing in another’s exhalation borders on treason. The Catholics have transubstantiation and the Trumpistas have their bit of magic too. Hindus in India believe the River Ganges, an open sewer, is pure and even medicinal. Ah, the power of faith. Blind faith, unquestioned belief, that’s what Donald hopes will give him a second term. It might. Voting for the lesser evil objectively would put Biden in office. But like the three monkeys, Trumpistas hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil…regarding Trump anyway. When he looses it will because enough of them just stayed home. They’ll need an excuse, Trumpistas can’t change their minds about Donald. Its unthinkable, its an admission of error. Don sets a fine example of never taking responsibility and never never admitting error. The supply of others to blame is too great to ever need admitting error in one’s self. Even the virus, by way of the Democrats, can shoulder blame.

Someone who visited this site told me they thought it was a bit, political….WTF does that mean. Its in bad taste to comment I guess. Having an opinion. Expressing it. Putting forward a thought. This trend in society has greased the path for the clown’s first term. What will they tell their great grand children about this time? “I was good and didn’t say anything bad about anyone, I didn’t criticize, I talked about something else” How polite.

Or, if the pendulum of socially acceptable behavior shifts in that direction in 30 years we might hear. “Oh, I was on the ramparts, I manned the barricades, I was a medic in a flying squad” They in fact did none of that but if it becomes the fashion to have done it, the are IN. Just a little revision of history. Enough already.

Micro code as therapy

A small package with a tiny silicon chip and enough complexity to occupy a senior nerd

Not yet being compost my grey matter likes exercise. The website offers some. There’s the drawing. The writing, both prose and the other stuff. Projects in the back yard. I finally put that kiwi plant into weed Valhalla. My resolve to build the tiny house weakens, flickers then flares up again. As the old saying goes, the spirit is willing but the flesh is almost three quarters of a century old. Then there is the microcomputer, A tiny chip of silicon mounted to a little metal frame and molded into a small plastic package. There are eight connections, power takes two, the inputs and outputs use the other six. That part is pretty simple. The complexity, the challenge to understanding, is etched in the thin bit of Monocrystalline silicon. Not pure silicon, rather a perfectly controlled impure form, a semiconductor. Even in small quantity the microcomputer costs about a dollar. For that buck one gets a machine that can execute a couple million instructions per second. There are thirty odd instructions to learn, not that many. In fact this type of machine is known for not having too many instructions. Some microcomputers have a hundred, several hundred with possible all possible variations.

This is where the microcode meets the physical world. Where lights blink and resistors resist.

Being retro by nature I of course use a computer language so dated I doubt its taught anymore, except as an ancient artifact, like Latin among human language. The list of discarded computer languages is long and growing. This language is called Assembly. It scripts what I want the machine to do. The script is called a source file. A program called, the “Assembler”, assembles the source file into a form that can be “flashed” into the microcomputer’s memory. Same sort of flash memory in a thumb drive, but far fewer bytes. Thousands of vs billions. It might take me an hour to write a section of code that will run in a millisecond. The Assembler’s biggest job is pointing out my errors. There is a saying, “no code has no error”, true of released code, code out in the world. It is especially true of fresh code. So writing software code even at this simple “bit banging” level involves finding and fixing errors in the script. Compared to human language assembly is very simple. Some really smart people are working to write software that can parse human written text and find errors. But, human language though finite, is orders of magnitude more involved. Not finding any errors doesn’t mean microcode will do what was intended. As with a page of text in English, it might be grammatically correct with nothing misspelled – yet be pure meaningless drivel. My favorite in Assembly is goto $. It means, goto the address you are at now and execute the instruction you find there. That instruction is the one it just carried out. The little computer doesn’t get frustrated even though it is chasing its own tail. But this line of code is useful as a safety device, a trap. Areas of memory that should never be accessed can be filled with such traps. If the machine gets confused and points to a trap, like an errant fly on sticky paper, its held there, it can’t stumble elsewhere and do damage.

Its just another crossword puzzle, solitary card game, collection of mugs or stamps or butterflies. Its something to do. Even before the Corona thing eliminated my useless trips as diversion, I messed with the microcomputers. Distraction. Solutions to a high class problem, not needing to struggle to survive.

An afternoon at Laite Beach

Digital OIL scene of Laite Beach in Maine, USA

Invisible cats ran over the water
Visible dogs ran across the sand
The cats left cat’s paw dimpled water
The dogs left sandy divots on the strand

Elbows to picnic table, binoculars to eye.
A sailor in sailboat long hauling home I spy
Profligate jib and mainsail full and spilling air  
That’s a wealthy sailor, one having wind to spare

The day suddenly cooling, moms gather families
Tugging at moorings boats napping in a breeze
And from a spot above them I form lines of poetry
A poem made of boats, a harbor, and the open sea

The beach face empty now, the hill I sit on nearly so
But I can’t leave just yet, with two more lines to go
Oh well, there may be other days to visit Laite Beach
Before my boat rides a pale horse on life’s longest reach