Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Some like it hot

September 17, 2020

Lessee, there’s freedom of the press, freedom of speech,
and freedom to run like hell from the cops with their heat ray. Got it.

H.G. Wells got it wrong. Mars isn’t the problem.

Before the feds drove protesters from Lafayette Square in June, according to an Army National Guard major who was there, the Defense Department’s top military police officer in the Washington region emailed officers in the D.C. National Guard to ask whether the unit had “a microwave-like weapon called the Active Denial System, which was designed by the military to make people feel like their skin is burning when in range of its invisible rays.”

According to The Washington Post:

The technology, also called a “heat ray,” was developed to disperse large crowds in the early 2000s but was shelved amid concerns about its effectiveness, safety and the ethics of using it on human beings.

Pentagon officials were reluctant to use the device in Iraq. In late 2018, The New York Times reported, the Trump administration had weighed using the device on migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border — an idea shot down by Kirstjen Nielsen, then the Homeland Security secretary, citing humanitarian concerns.

But in the email, on which DeMarco was copied, the lead military police officer in the National Capital Region wrote the ADS device “can provide our troops a capacity they currently do not have, the ability to reach out and engage potential adversaries at distances well beyond small arms range, and in a safe, effective, and nonlethal manner.”

Federal police ultimately were unable to obtain a heat ray device — or an LRAD — during the early days of protests in D.C., according to the Defense Department official.

“During the early days,” hey? Don’t forget to wear your Alcoa cammies when you’re out smashing the state, boys and girls. And spray yourself with a little olive oil, maybe stuff a few onions, taters, and carrots into your undies. The “Martians” are going to need a lunch break at some point.

A Grimy Handshake from Patagonia

September 13, 2020

The bike stops here: Just east of Rancho Pendejo sits
the Cibola National Forest.

I’ve somehow gotten myself on Patagonia’s mailing list, probably through buying stuff from them — and good stuff it is, too — and they sent me a note the other day linking to a piece by Mike Ferrentino.

Yes, that Mike Ferrentino, he of the Grimy Handshake. His stuff is even better than Patagonia’s.

Anyway, Mike wrote about wilderness, and why he no longer poaches trails there, and it’s worth your attention.

In other wilderness-related news:

• A forest ecologist from CSU-Fort Collins wonders whether some iconic forests might fail to bounce back after a wildfire.

• Trying to take pix of the fires? Ian Bogost says your phone’s camera was not built for the Apocalypse.

• Have the orcas finally had enough of our bullshit?

Hot links

August 29, 2020

Technology can’t solve all our problems.

“Elon Musk shows Neuralink brain implant working in a pig.”

No, not that pig. More’s the pity.

Kibboleth

August 12, 2020

I had one of these back in 2001. I got all the strength training I needed pushing the sonofabitch when it broke down.

Top-shelf “van life?” Four-figure “smart” strength-training equipment?

Betimes one wonders whether The New York Times ping-pongs back and forth between Manhattan and San Fran without paying much attention to what’s in between.

Clearly, what Joe and Jane Sixpack are crying out for in Middle America is a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter with a factory-installed Tonal.

Either that or, y’know, like, a Bug vaccine, dinner with friends, and maybe a fucking job.

Let’s ask Studs Terkel, shall we?

Just another manic Monday

July 20, 2020

Anybody else feel like their rhythm is a little off? Like you’re dancing with one foot in a bucket?

Makes it hard to shake your moneymaker, that’s for sure.

Today we had a routine AC/furnace check on The List, and in Plague Time these things are scheduled in a window rather than on the dot. Ours was from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., which is a really big dot. Basically a picture window.

I took five at the Piedra Lisa parking lot to snap a quick pic while letting a fleet-footed woman blast past.

I didn’t like the view, but there it was. I usually do a medium-long hike on Mondays, but we both overslept and by the time the morning chores got done I had about 45 minutes to work with if the dude was closer to 10 than 2. Herself had the usual conga line of nightmares moonwalking through her office and I didn’t want to slip another foot-dragging zombie into the mix.

So, boom, I’m out, I’m back. Zip and zip and zip. So pro. No word from the dude. So I figure I’ll do a little light resistance training just ’cause. The phone rings halfway through, a number I don’t recognize, but I pick up on the off chance it’s the dude, which of course it is. He’s five minutes away and on the move.

Anyway, we passed the checkup. The heat heats and the cool cools. I managed a third of a hike and half of a weights session. Herself made bank. What’s not to like?

Speaking of which, here are two new recipes worth a look:

A simple no-cook pizza sauce from Kitchn. Herself likes these corn-meal pizza crusts from Vicolo and with two of those, this sauce, some mozzarella, a little leftover turkey-taco meat, and a handful of chopped black olives and mushrooms, we had two nights of dinner dialed in.

Turmeric and black-pepper chicken with asparagus, from Ali Slagle at The New York Times. This was really good. Simple and quick and versatile and really, really good. It goes into the rotation. But “serves four” me bollocks. The only reason we didn’t eat it all at one sitting was that we wanted some leftovers for the next day’s lunch.

The bad news: Our local Penzey’s Spices shop is closed. And that ominous oinking you’ve been hearing from Portland? It may be coming soon to a town near you.

Tweety gets K-popped, TikTok’d

June 21, 2020

“We are not amused.”

Adolf Twitler was light on adoring brownshirts last night in Tulsa, and some tech-savvy K-pop fans and TikTok users say they’re at least part of the reason why.

The New York Times got the story, which has since been picked up by other outlets, including The Verge.

Seems the social-media sappers blew up The Big Comeback by acquiring a shitload of tickets with no intention of using them for any purpose beyond creating an ocean of empty blue seats. And thus a stadium that seats 19,000 had just 6,200 nutters, not counting staff, media, box seats, or additional voices squabbling inside pointy heads behind beady, close-set eyes.

In an interview with Bloomberg, campaign spokescreature Tim Murtaugh sneered: “Leftists always fool themselves into thinking they’re being clever. Registering for a rally only means you’ve RSVPed with a cell phone number. Every rally is general admission and entry is first come, first served. But we thank them for their contact information.”

Well, don’t start sucking each other’s dicks quite yet, Tim old scout. Mary Jo Laupp, who posted her own anti-Twitler video on TikTok, told the NYT that many of the people who shared it encouraged people to get tickets using fake names and phone numbers using Google Voice or some other internet-connected phone line.

“We all know the Trump campaign feeds on data, they are constantly mining these rallies for data,” said Ms. Laupp, who worked on several rallies for Pete Buttigieg’s campaign for the Democratic nomination for president. “Feeding them false data was a bonus. The data they think they have, the data they are collecting from this rally, isn’t accurate.”

Pelotonnage

May 6, 2020

The actual outdoors. No instructors shouting at you. Free of charge.

I’m having trouble fitting into The New Weird Order.

The idea of spending $2,245 for a Peloton bike plus $39 per month for online classes*, so I can stay fit for … for. …

For what, exactly?

“Enjoying” a long and healthy life spent indoors, never more than a few steps from a screen?

I guess if the auto industry gets another bailout, as seems likely, these folks — the ones with all the money, anyway — will be able to have their “outside” and their screens at the same time.

* Incidentally, if you already own a bike, and you must do your cycling indoors, you can spend a few hundy on a stationary trainer or a set of rollers and join the free community of voices in your head.

So, 12 monkeys walk into an Earth Day. …

April 22, 2020

“What’s wonderful about the air, James?”
“Very fresh. No germs.”

They tell me today is Earth Day, and indeed, it seems we still have one.

An earth, that is. No thanks to us.

Yesterday I bicycled out to inspect the property and it looked pretty a’ight from just below the intersection of Tramway Road and Juniper Hill Road.

It probably helps that fewer people are motoring pointlessly around and about lately. I only start the Subie every other Wednesday, for purposes of replenishing the pantry. Though I did take the Vespa out for a spin yesterday, too (sorry about that).

The Mad Dog Media Entertainment Complex, featuring a Toshiba TV from 2008; a Mac Mini from mid-2010 (right); and an Apple TV from 2012 (left).

Today I celebrated Earth Day by not spending $150 on a new Apple TV box. HBO Now is dropping its support for older Apple TVs like ours (third generation), and so it was either buy a new one; try AirPlaying HBO Nowto the old box from an iOS device; or use the Mac Mini to stream the sonofabitch.

The last would have been easiest, if the wee beastie weren’t running an OS from 2013 (Mavericks). That dog won’t hunt, sez HBO Now. You gotta have Yosemite at bare minimum, and either Chrome or Firefox (ixnay on the Afarisay).

So I burned a little daylight this morning getting all those ducks in a row. If you monkeys smell smoke, well, that’s why. Ook ook ook.

Looking west from the foothills on Earth Day.

Rebooted

March 11, 2020

If spring hasn’t quite sprung, well, it’s thinking about it.

It was a pretty pleasant morning yesterday in the Duke City, so I bit the bullet and ventured out for a short walk around the flattest parts of our neighborhood, which made it a very short walk indeed.

I did a bit with both crutches, and a bit with one, and a bit with none; chatted up a few neighbors who wished to plumb the depths of my stupidity; and finally headed back to the rancheroo for a spot of lunch.

Then I pulled off the Darth Gimp boot and its Vasque Clarion companion, leaned back in my chair, and put both dogs up on a footstool to rest awhile.

Just out of reach. Like a cat.

Not until I settled in and got comfortable did the smoke alarm go off.

Beep.

Beep.

Beep.

Etc.

So I put on the Darth Gimp boot and its Vasque Clarion companion, levered myself out of the chair, crutched into the entryway … and it stopped.

“Turkish, are you fucking with me? I asked. The question seemed relevant, if a tad mystical.

For starters, as all cat people know, your cat will never assign you some vital task until you are settled in and comfortable.

Second, the night Turkish died, as Herself and I were settling into bed, and I rested my right hand on the spot where our big, big boy would usually lounge for a bit, the bathroom light suddenly turned itself on, and then off.

Now there was this. And it wasn’t lost on me that I had instructed that my old comrade’s remains be cremated.

I crutched into the kitchen for a fresh battery, because why the hell not, and the smoke detector started up again. So I returned with the battery and a small stepladder, and — praying there wasn’t a giant, pissed-off, blue-eyed spectral cat in a cloud of smoke up there somewhere  — made the swap without incident.

Turkish always liked the high spots.

 

Booted up

February 25, 2020

Bad ankle! Bad, bad, bad! Get in that boot and stay there, thinking about what it is that you’ve done.

Behold the latest in Empire Stormtrooper technology: the boot. Just call me Darth Gimp.

The doc I saw yesterday is a podiatrist and a cutter, but he didn’t see any pressing need to fire up the old circular saw and prescribe a piñon peg and parrot from Largo Juan Plata’s in Old Town.

Dude sez to me he sez, I am presently enjoying an avulsion fracture (basically a severe sprain with extra attitude) and it should respond quite nicely to immobilization (hence the sexy footwear a la Bootsy Collins).

We’ll meet again in a few weeks to compare notes. The doc and I, not Bootsy. Though I wouldn’t object to meeting up with Bootsy, too.

I liked this approach because (a) it reminded me of the spiel I got from an orthopod the last time I did this ankle, back in 1983. I was sporting a fiberglass walking cast, installed by others, that he considered an overabundance of caution. Questions of diagnosis, treatment, and masculinity were raised and examined.

Also, and too, (2), it means nobody is firing up a circular saw and murmuring, “He under yet? Yay, boat payment.”