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Archive for May, 2017

And Here’s the Six-Point Buck I Shot From the Breakfast Nook

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

I Now Hate Miami More Than I Thought Possible

I am in Ocala, otherwise known as the Deplorable Biosphere. In years to come, people like me will flood the area, dressed in MAGA hats and ill-fitting work shorts, to set up their workshops and gardens and prepare the ramparts from which to fire on the smelly liberal masses that will come to steal our food and TVs but certainly not our books or soap.

I was going to go to Ocala alone, but my dad decided to go with me.

We looked at five houses today. Was it five? Let’s see. Blue. Grey. Zebra chair house. Yellow house. House where I ran over the snake. Yes. Five. One was too small. One was too upscale. One was a little remote for my needs. The other two were great.

The first place I checked out is in the northern part of the county. It’s a very odd house. It’s one story, with lots of rooms. A widow lives there, and you can tell estrogen figured way too heavily in the home’s design and decor.

There are so many antiques in the house (and workshop) that if this woman dies, the American antique market will take a plunge that will take a decade to undo itself. When this stuff starts appearing on the market, trying to sell antiques in America will be like trying to sell snow cones in Siberia.

The house has a sewing room, an artist’s studio, a piano room, an office, a special food storage room, about 52 bathrooms, three fireplaces, and enough closet space for Elton John and Rupaul put together.

The thing that sold me was the workshop. The poor lady’s husband died before it could be completed. It’s a building the size of a house, with two central air units. It’s set up for two apartments plus a gigantic work area. The apartments haven’t been drywalled. It doesn’t have compressors yet, but once they’re installed, it will be possible to air condition the entire place. Two floors.

I would finish the downstairs apartment as a metal shop. The upstairs unit could be finished and used for electronics or just running away from the world.

The lot is only ten acres, but you would need a bow and arrow to hit the nearest neighbor’s house, so it’s not cramped. It has thick woods on one side, a cow farm on another, and across a road from a third side, more woods.

I know I would like this place because the husband’s deer stand is still hanging on a tree in the yard. Yes. He shot deer IN HIS YARD. He had a feeder and everything. Is that legal? I don’t care. I’m too lazy to shoot deer. More correctly, I’m too lazy to butcher deer. The shooting…I’m all over that.

The northern part of the county is fantastic. It’s prettier than the southern part. There is even less traffic. The roads are ideal for motorcycles. There are probably fewer snobs. I like it.

The other place I really like is south of the city. Some guy bought 34 acres in two long strips. He cleared one strip and built his house on the other. Together they make a rectangle with proportions similar to a smartphone.

The house is beyond criticism. It’s not very old. It’s big. It has a beautiful downstairs. Upstairs, there is what I would call a second living room. It’s carpeted. It’s comfortable. It has a bunch of storage rooms off of it. I wish I were lying on its floor right now.

The house has a huge garage, and if that’s not enough, there’s a 1000-square-foot cement block outbuilding with garage doors at each end. It has clapboards on it, so it looks like the house. It has a little carport thing on one side, where you can put chairs and goof off all day.

The owner played a dirty trick on us. He gave the realtor the key to his gas-powered EZ-Go, and she told us to take it and tour the whole property. After that, I was hooked.

First we roamed around on the wooded lot. Before I hit the gas, I asked the realtor if there were any animals to worry about, and she said there were two bulls. She said not to worry about them because they never moved. I figured she was joking or talking about concrete bulls, because real bulls can be territorial and crabby. Sure enough, we passed two black bulls sitting in the woods doing nothing. Maybe they were steers. I didn’t ask them to get up so I could check. In any case, they didn’t find us interesting at all. As we were passing them, I ran over a big blacksnake. Well. Better that than fresh manure.

The bulls are tax deflectors. Because there are two bulls on the land, the owner can call it agricultural property and get a property tax break. He has to put up with poop, however. The realtor said we could switch them for goats, which would eat the underbrush and leave the grass alone. Goat poop is easier to deal with than cow poop, but free cow manure would be good for gardening.

We then went through a gate and rode around the cleared lot. It was magnificent. It had big berms of excess dirt; perfect for use as pistol and rifle backstops. It had a big dry pond, which would ordinarily be a flaw, but again, helpful for target practice. You could go down in there and put up a silhouette.

I want this place. It’s more than I wanted to spend, but it would save my dad a lot of money over living where he is now. I would hate to tell you about his current property taxes and insurance.

If there is one thing I’ve learned on this trip, it’s that I hate Miami even more than I thought I did. I can’t believe I’m going back. Ever since I passed Orange County on the way north, I’ve been drinking in my surroundings. I’m like a man who was just rescued from the desert, who knows he’ll be going back soon. I want to stuff myself with northern Florida and make the feeling last when I’m back in El Republico De Los Bananas. This is like dreaming I’m honeymooning with Tyra Banks in the Plaza Hotel and then waking up in a trailer next to Caitlyn Jenner.

It’s time for planning and calculation. Maybe one of these places is ripe for the picking. It can take quite a while for a seller to get realistic about pricing.

Tomorrow I drive back to Bananaburg. I wish it could be the very last time.

Pathetic Exercises for Pathetic People

Sunday, May 28th, 2017

How I Narrowly Avoid Having to Buy a Mobility Cart

The other day a wonderful thought occurred to me, and I felt I should share it: “There is no exercise in heaven.”

Think about that. Imagine never having to work out again. That, all by itself, makes it heaven.

I am not in heaven, and for a few months I’ve been doing regular cardiovascular exercise to keep me from collapsing in a heap of Jell-O. I found out about a type of exercise that didn’t sound too bad, so I decided to try it, and I’ve stuck with it. It’s called “HIT” or “HIIT,” and I forget exactly what those things stand for. “High Intensity Training,” or something.

The idea is that instead of suffering mildly for 40 minutes, you try to kill yourself for about 5 minutes, including breaks. For example, you sprint as hard as possible for 20 seconds, and then you rest for 10. Then you sprint again. Supposedly you get most of the benefit of long workouts for a small percentage of the pain.

It has worked for me. I don’t know if I’m in good cardiovascular shape, but everything is toned up, and I have lots of energy.

I was thinking about it this week. Who looks better? Sprinters or marathon runners? Easy question. Marathon runners are weak and spindly, with tiny muscles. They look like malnutrition victims. Sprinters are full of bulgy, springy muscle. It makes sense that intense workouts give better results.

I also thought about the demands daily life places on the body. Have you ever, in your entire life, had to exert yourself moderately for 40 minutes, with your pulse at 75% of maximum? Of course not. That only happens when you work out. But how many times have you had to exert yourself intensely for two to three minutes? Thousands, right? Moving a couch. Carrying things up stairs because an elevator has gone out. Moving something heavy across your garage when there is no one to help. What good is a stringy, wobbly marathon runner when you have to dig up a stump with a mattock?

Most people who do cardiovascular exercise are training for something that will never happen. In order to use that type of fitness, you have to enter a race, which is a contrived event. We have to make up challenges that use that kind of endurance.

HIT is supposed to be a heart thing, but it does other stuff for you. As you maintain your workout schedule, you get stronger, so you have to jack up the resistance. That means bigger muscles, without weights.

Another interesting thing: the fact that you work out for 40 minutes at a time doesn’t mean much when you really have to push it. When you work out at a low level of intensity, increasing the speed or effort a little bit will tire you out in a hurry. What if you’re used to brief periods of extreme intensity? What if you go through that five or six times a week? Obviously, your body will be ready the next time life throws you a tough job.

It all makes sense to me. If you want your body to try to repair and improve itself, you have to put it under stress. Piddling around with your pulse at 120 doesn’t tell your body to shape up. It says, “This is only a drill. Relax and have more pound cake.” My body suffers horrible abuse four to six times a week, so it’s always expecting the worst and trying to prepare.

I still hate exercise, but I hate it for much shorter periods, so it’s a win.

When you get old, you quit deluding yourself about 18″ biceps, 5% body fat, and a resting pulse rate of 50. You know from experience that you won’t work out more than a few minutes per day for more than six months. You start looking for moderately effective exercises you will actually do instead of crazy-effective exercises you will give up as soon as they start working.

Look at Arnold Schwarzenegger. He quit working out and grew moobs and a gut. His arms shriveled away. For a long time, I was able to say I had a better body than the Terminator. He started exercising again, but he’ll quit eventually. If he can’t keep it up his whole life, what chance do normal people have?

I use a recumbent exercise bike and an upright bike. The upright bike is for my upper body. I put my chest on it and push the pedals with my arms. Sounds funny, right? Try it and see if it’s still funny. Most cardiovascular exercises do almost nothing for the upper body. It’s startling when you find something that actually puts it to work.

You can have good endurance in one part of your body and be a creampuff in other parts. That’s what happens to runners. Big thighs combined with chicken drumette T-rex arms. The bikes make everything work hard.

I’m still a flubbery old man, but my old-man exercises are preventing me from falling completely apart.

Something to think about, if you hate exercise as much as I do.

New House-Hunting Expedition

Friday, May 26th, 2017

Miami Can’t be Behind me Soon Enough

The house hunt is going forward.

It seems like you have to be a…I’m looking for a PG-rated term…an ASSERTIVE PERSON to get anything done in real estate. I had to get on my realtor this week. Week before last, I said I wanted to get up to Marion County and look at some properties, he asked for time off because his mother was visiting. We agreed to get together this week. I emailed him a day or two ago, and he said he wanted to wait another two weeks because he was busy.

Uh…didn’t we already discuss that? Shouldn’t the reason you’re busy be me?

Anyway, I complained, and he agreed to show me places next week.

I’m going alone this time. My dad is no longer interested in making decisions, so he won’t be tagging along. He’ll buy any place I choose. That’s a huge change, from a person who used to flip out if I said he needed to spend $500 to fix his sidewalk.

It’s very odd, suddenly finding myself in charge of wealth someone else worked for all his life. It wouldn’t be so odd if he were gone, because my mistakes wouldn’t endanger him. As it is, I have to think very carefully about everything I do. I suppose I should think very carefully about decisions that only involve me, and I try to, but the pressure is not the same.

I’m learning a lot about taxes and investing. From time to time I call his accountant up with an idea that occurred to me, to see if it will save him money. So far that has worked out well. It’s strange, because I don’t come up with many ideas to save myself money. I’m doing better managing his wealth than my own.

Even after looking at homes for three months, it’s hard to be sure what I want. Houses that are remote, where I can have a great workshop and not have to worry about BLM, La Raza, or GLAAD marching down my street to tell me what I owe them, are very tempting, but they will be slow to appreciate, and I’ll have to be content living a good ways off from grocery stores, theaters, and so on. Houses that are closer in would provide more convenience, but I would feel obligated to socialize and mix with horse people. I don’t want that at all. I don’t give a crap about horses, country clubs, homeowners’ associations, or seeing other human beings more than once or twice a week. I don’t want idiots showing up at my door with fake grins, saying things like, “We’re from the Boosters Club, and we were just thinking you might be a LOT happier without that Bobcat parked in your yard.”

I would want to buy special boots just to kick people like that in the rear end.

Let’s be real. I’m leaving Miami to get away from jerks and meddlers. I am not going to be happy if I have busybody neighbors leaning over my fence, measuring my grass to see if it’s short enough.

Wow. Just writing about this helps me clear things up. I don’t want people bothering me. The remote places look better now.

I guess I’m getting very weird in my old age, but I’m excited about spending the rest of my life by myself, welding, machining, woodworking, writing, and fooling with electronics. When I say “by myself,” I don’t mean I wouldn’t want a wife, but I would not want to be very social.

I would love to have 300 acres up near the Georgia border. It would be great to have to drive half a mile from my house to see someone else’s land. I want to be frugal with my dad’s resources, though. The more he sinks into a new home, the less he will have left to generate income.

Sometimes I sit and look at properties in Appalachia. I would love to live there. The attachment never dies. Unfortunately, the problems with racism and ignorance would make it hard to find a location where I could be happy.

It’s funny; the sudden open animosity toward white people and Christians makes me afraid to live too close to cities and areas where minorities are concentrated, but at the same time, I could not go back to Eastern Kentucky and hear the N-word ten times a day. Sometimes I ask myself whether it’s better to live among white racists who would look out for me, or near minority racists who would try to harm me.

America seems to be getting cramped. Big properties are being sliced up. Controlling liberal freaks are showing up and trying to take over places where people used to feel safe from them. Can you open a bakery in Johnson City, Tennessee or Dalton, Georgia without anti-Christian gays seeking you out to force you to bake cakes? I wonder. Could I join a bar association in any state if they found out I’m a Bible-believing Christian?

I have this feeling I should stay in Florida because of my law license, but I think I would rather work at Home Depot than practice again. Assuming I could pass the Home Depot sensitivity tests. I don’t think I’ll ever practice law in the future. Maybe I should be thinking about moving out of this state.

Tennessee doesn’t look too bad. It hasn’t become packed with Miami vacation rabble, and they have no income tax.

Miami is starting to be truly unpleasant. All sorts of people are moving here, and I can’t even figure out where they’re from. They’re generally Hispanic. I think a lot of them may be South Americans. Hispanics have a habit of ruining their own countries and moving here to escape. They’re jamming themselves into the south end of the county, and that means the roads down here are buried in new traffic. Condos are going up all over South Dade. Extremely ugly high-rises are going up west of downtown.

The new people are not inspiring. I don’t think their countries are sending us their best. Lots of stretch pants on the women, and by “stretch pants,” I mean, basically, stockings without pants. Lots of orange hair. Cheap wigs. Pounds and pounds of makeup. Acres of convict tattoos. Convict hairstyles. Daisy Dukes so short and tight they seem to be injuring women’s crotches. Large masses of upper-thigh cellulite waving in the air. Every fingernail is an artistic statement in at least two colors. Belts are rarely seen on the young men.

Sometimes I see a woman pass by, and I think, “That HAS to be a prostitute.”

They don’t look like Cubans. I wonder who they are.

It’s working out well for me financially. My father had to buy my sister out of her house to keep the city from demolishing it, and we had to remodel it. The value of the property has gone up about 70% since then, not including the return on renovation. We are being forced to sell it. The value is so far ahead of rental prices, it makes no sense to keep it. Everything else we own down here is going up, too.

I think we’re in a bubble, so I would like to sell whatever I can and put the money in properties upstate. Let someone else hold the bag when the bubble pops.

I’m not the only one who wants out. Today a waitress told me she ended up in Miami because of “bad decisions.” She said she had a master’s degree in something useful (not English or history), and that she had to wait tables because her Spanish wasn’t good. She has three kids to support on her own. She said her Spanish was the problem, but non-Hispanics face discrimination here even when they’re bilingual.

At least she’s not black. God help a black person trying to get a job in Miami.

To get back to me, I suspect I find it hard to choose a place to go because of my beliefs. A Christian can’t be truly at home anywhere these days. The freaks and persecutors are spreading like black mold. They’re not content with tolerance. They literally want us to disappear.

I hope my search ends soon.

All’s Well That Ends Weld

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Relatively Decent TIG Weld, at Last

I must share my joy with you. Today I did a few TIG welds that were not completely, utterly pathetic. They were merely not good, and that’s good enough.

I got a TIG in March, and I have been fighting with it ever since. For the last two or three weeks, I’ve been trying to weld aluminum, because it’s easier to find locally than clean steel. Aluminum is hard to weld, because it melts very quickly. You have to do all the things you do with steel, much faster. Not easy when you can barely do those things slowly.

My usual metal supplier doesn’t stock pickled and oiled steel or cold-rolled steel. These are the best types of steel for TIG practice. Pickled and oiled is hot-rolled (cheap) steel which has been treated with acid and then oiled. The acid takes off the non-conductive oxides that make welding difficult, and the oiling prevents further rust. Cold-rolled steel is steel processed at lower temperatures than hot-rolled; heat cause scale to form, so cold-rolled doesn’t have scale.

I tried various lame methods to get scale off of steel, and this week I decided to try vinegar. You put your steel in it, and you take it out the next day. It didn’t sound promising, but I did it anyway, and it worked. The scale fell off, along with the rust. Today when I got started with my practice, I had four pieces of scale-free metal to weld. I hit them with a wire wheel, and I was off.

Here’s a photo of my last two beads. I practice by offsetting two rectangles of steel and lap-welding them. The offset gives you a long lap joint on both sides.

I didn’t have major blowouts or crashes. I stayed on the path pretty well. I didn’t weld anything to the table. I didn’t blind myself or drip molten steel on my leg. The weld is a little crooked, but that’s something a little practice will fix.

I’m hoping this is a decent weld, with good penetration. To check, you have to cut your weld in half and etch it with some chemical or other. I haven’t looked into that. I had the welder at 156 amps, which is high for 1/8″ metal, and it seemed like it was barely enough. I’m wondering if something was obstructing the current. You need current for a deep weld.

This is a big load off my mind. I felt like it was going to take me five years to do a simple TIG weld, and I wondered if I would ever be able to weld delicate work, which is 95% of the reason for buying a TIG. Now it looks like I’m over the hump. I should be able to continue to progress.

You probably don’t care about this, but I’m thrilled to death. Most men can’t weld at all. Most who do weld, MIG weld very badly. To do TIG marginally well is a big achievement, and if I ever get good at it, I’ll have a skill so valued I could conceivably rely on it for income if I had to.

On to the next challenge. I hear people are looking for a cure for cancer.

Chubby Pope Calls Kettle Black

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

Also: Gullible Conservatives Pin Hopes on Convicted Con Artist

Couple of things before I get started.

The Pope is fat. He’s about 60 pounds overweight by my estimate. I can say that because I am not Catholic, and I do not consider him a person of special status in God’s scheme. The pope is fat, and he just made fun of Donald Trump, who is thinner…for being fat. Naturally, journalists are outraged. Fat-shaming is evil. We know this because every time someone famous says anything about weight, we have to hear about a week of self-righteous whining. Journalists are piling on the pope for his vile remark.

Whoops. No, they’re not. They’re reporting it with glee and approval, and they agree Trump is fat.

Wonder what the explanation could be. One thing is for sure: it can’t be hypocrisy.

The pope asked Melania Trump if she had been feeding the President of the United States for the Next Four Years (felt like giving him that title) a Slovenian dessert called potica. She’s very gracious, and she and the president took it in stride. She could have said, “No, he eats spumoni. Just like you.”

I shouldn’t pick on the pope. He doesn’t like Trump, but he was probably trying to be pleasant. And he lives in a bell jar filled with people who tell him everything he does is wonderful, so he may be losing perspective. The pope is playing tee ball in the major leagues. Every swing is a homer, even if the Swiss Guard has to pick up the ball and carry it over the very large fence. Which the pope still has. In spite of telling Trump he can’t have one.

To recap, liberal journalists love the fat-shaming, homophobic, anti-choice, anti-Vatican-illegal-immigrant pope. But they’re against cognitive dissonance.

Trump has flip-flopped on some things, but journalists are worse. They can hold two positions at once. They’re like subatomic particles. Their position depends on how you measure them. If Trump calls Rosie O’Donnell fat, it’s very bad, but if a socialist pope calls Trump fat, it’s the funniest thing that ever happened, except maybe the time Reagan got shot.

I wonder what the other pope thinks. Has anyone asked him? I can’t believe there’s a retired pope. I’m in Florida; I should try to look him up.

I would hate to be ex-Pope Benedict. Imagine how annoying it would be, trying to get breakfast in a restaurant. Every time, the waitress would say the same thing: “How about some eggs, BENEDICT?” And he would have to laugh and pretend it’s funny. Popes can’t burn people alive any more. Maybe they can, but they haven’t used the power lately. Burn one waitress, and the breakfast jokes would dry right up.

He probably lives at Century Village, about three hours from me. Either that or an assisted poping facility.

Imagine him trying to talk to Florida retirees. “I can’t understand their German.” “It’s Yiddish. Your former holiness.”

“Your co-holiness”?

I don’t get to vote on popes, but I would have voted against the current one. The last one was all right. He was willing to get in there and bust some heads. The new one wants to be the Cool Pope. He wants to be loved. He wants to be the carpool parent who got in trouble with all the other parents for buying the kids ice cream. He wants to be Divorced Dad Pope, who shows up on the weekend, gives you everything your black little heart desires, and then leaves mommy to deal with the consequences.

Here’s my other thing: let’s shut up about Kim Dotcom. This is the Megaupload guy. His home in New Zealand was raided because of American pressure, and his company was shut down, forcing young men all over America to find new ways to share porn. He insists deceased Democrat grunt Seth Rich was the source of the leaks that saved the world from President Hillary.

Dotcom says he and Seth Rich were in communication before the leaks. He says he’s willing to testify in the US, if he gets a promise of immunity and safe passage. He doesn’t want to get Munsoned.

Some conservatives are excited. Sean Hannity is excited. They really think Dotcom can pull the pin on Hillary’s grenade and melt her down in front of the munchkins.

Here is the problem, and I grant you, it’s a small one: Dotcom is a convicted fraud with a solid reputation for lying. Other than that tiny speed bump, I would say we really have a case here.

Look him up. He was convicted of all sorts of stuff in Germany. Then came the Megaupload mess. I would be afraid to lend this guy five dollars. I’m not going to stick my neck out and say he’s the lancet that will let the pus out of the DNC. In all likelihood, he’s bored, and he needs an occasion for free publicity. The more famous he is, the more money he can make in the future. The Seth Rich mystery presents a big story he can gin up. It will make Democrats suffer for a while, and after his experiences under Obama, he really hates Democrats. What’s not to love? When it’s over, and it turns out to be BS, what will he care? Hello? He’s Kim Dotcom. He’s the Beetlejuice of IT. What did we expect?

Maybe Seth Rich was, indeed, murdered by DNC bigwigs. Maybe Hillary strafed him from her broom. I put the odds that Kim Dotcom knows anything at about 1%.

There’s something about 1% I just love. Some people love 47%. I prefer 1%.

I forgot the other things I planned to write about. Perhaps this is a blessing.

Time to go practice TIG. I hope I have brightened your day.

Six Feet Over Everest

Sunday, May 21st, 2017

Bad Choices and Globetrotting Cockroaches

Every once in a while, I see the word “Everest” on the Internet, and I start reading about high-altitude mountain climbing. It’s fascinating, and not in a good way. It’s like reading about people who die feeding sharks or trying to commune with bears.

Everest is popping up in the news right now. I should have seen that coming. Because of the way the weather works in Nepal, people climb Mount Everest in May. An American internist named Roland Yearwood just died up there, and his sherpa is in bad shape. An Indian climber named Ravi Kamar is also in trouble. He’s missing. Terrible to think about.

Here is the question that has been bugging me lately: why do people who climb tall mountains get frostbite?

The obvious answer (“It’s cold up there.”) doesn’t cut it. It’s cold in lots of places. It’s cold in outer space, but astronauts don’t get frostbite when they spacewalk. There has to be more to it.

I found some articles aimed at climbers. One claims something like 90% of frostbite incidents involving climbers are caused by human error. The others list things people do wrong.

Surprise, surprise. That’s pretty much what I figured.

The articles list a bunch of causes. People wear things like jewelry, which slow circulation. They wear boots that are too tight. They wear boots that aren’t very good. They wear boots that are worn out. They wear the wrong socks. The best boots come in two layers: outer and inner. Climbers let their inner boots freeze while they sleep, so when they put them back on, they’re applying ice to their feet.

Here’s another cause they mention: not turning around when you start to freeze. I can understand that. You’ve spent a hundred thousand dollars on your climb. You’re in your late forties, so you may not be physically able to return in the future. You’re a thousand feet from the top. Your buddies already summited, and you feel bad about it, because you’re the kind of competitive, insecure person who thinks he has to climb Mount Everest. Everyone back at J.P. Morgan or the department of thoracic surgery is rooting for you on Instagram. When your feet or fingers start to feel funny, the natural urge will be to keep going. Maybe they’re supposed to feel that way! Think of the glory. Think how all the other Google kids will be buying you free lattes.

I could never be a mountain climber. I’m too old, and I don’t want to do it in the first place, but even if those things weren’t true, I would still fail, because every time I started to think I MIGHT be getting frostbite, I would turn around and walk home. A nice, mild case of frostbite will cost you the tips of several fingers. There is not much of a limit to what severe frostbite can do to you. Noted frostbite victim Dr. Beck Weathers lost his right arm halfway up to the elbow. I’m not going out like that. Not without a better reason than Instagram likes.

“Steve is a sissy.” “Steve is a quitter.” Say what you want, but follow it up with, “Steve has all his limbs. Steve hasn’t had skin grafts. Steve isn’t a frozen mummy lying beside the trail wearing the wrong boots. Steve will never have to be carried around in a basket because of ego tourism.”

I think if I were up there freezing to death, I’d make the thumbs-up gesture with both hands. That way, when people walked by my dead body years later, they’d get a little encouragement.

I also read that things like smoking, drinking, and diet-induced bad circulation cause frostbite. Don’t people make any effort to screen themselves? I guess not. A man in his eighties just died on Everest.

I saw another story about bad Everest behavior. A couple of vegans tried to climb Everest, in order to prove “vegans can do anything,” and one of them died. What can you say about that? Was someone out there making rude claims about salad impacting people’s ability to climb mountains? This is like climbing Everest to prove people who wear blue socks can do anything. It’s a solution to a nonexistent problem.

Maybe the vegan angle was his way of getting other people to pay for the trip. Sponsorship angles are very important to Everest tourists.

NASA should try that. Think how much money we would save if we sent up space shuttles and stations with Coke logos on the sides. They could call their outfit “NASACAR.”

The vegans tried to climb Everest. The wife got sick very close to the top. Naturally, the husband and the guide turned around immediately, got her to safety, and begged God to forgive them for their foolishness. Well, not really. The actual story is horrific. The husband asked his sick wife if it was okay if he kept climbing and came back for her. When he got back, they headed for the nearest camp, and she didn’t make it. Now he tells interviewers how empty it was, summiting without her. As if that were the problem with the story.

He is now planning a trip to recover her body. Picture me throwing up my hands.

People amaze me. You have to be a little off to climb a mountain that kills 3% of its tourists. Climbing unprepared is a completely different level of insanity. How many photos of freeze-dried bodies do you have to see on Google before you decide to buy good boots and gloves? What does it take to convince you that you should start with a plan that includes firm guidelines on when to turn back?

Climber: So the really good boots are $1000, and the ones that make your toes fall off are $600. And my budget for the trip is $100,000.

Salesperson: That’s right.

Climber: I’ll take the cheap ones and a Gopro.

If the human race lasts long enough, we will eventually be able to fly people to the top of Everest or build some kind of tram system. It may be 50 years from now, but it will happen. We are constantly improving our tools. I wonder what would happen if it suddenly became possible to pay a reasonable fee, ride a cable car, and have lunch at the summit.

I can tell you what would happen. Climbers would go up there and blow up the machinery. They would shriek about how wrong it was to take the challenge out of it. They would say everyone should do it the hard way, i.e., by emptying their IRA’s and being dragged up by sherpas.

I say let’s do it. Let’s put a McDonald’s up there. McMuffins on Everest! I’m down. Starbucks is probably there already. Maybe if getting to the tops of huge mountains were easy, fewer people would feel motivated to struggle and die on them. The Facebook photos would lose their eclat. “Here I am on the summit! Took four days and cost me three fingers, but I made it! I’m hugging Grammy and Grampy, who came up on the cable car! Thank goodness Mr. Toodles brought his dog sweater!”

It’s so strange that people are willing to climb big mountains. It’s not like there’s a big pot of gold on top of each one. What do you really get when you climb Everest? A nice view and severe credit card debt. You can’t even say you did something really hard, because people who have done it say it’s not that difficult. You don’t really climb. You just walk. Very slowly. It’s dangerous and unpleasant, but it’s not that hard. An old lady did it twice.

Maybe the pride is based on beating the odds. You rolled the dice, and the weather happened to be okay, so you made it. I’m not impressed. If you want to be a big mountain climbing braggart at your local bar, don’t walk up Everest. Climb K2, which is the world’s second-highest mountain. You can’t walk up this one. It’s held out to be the hardest mountain to climb. The K2 death rate is nearly 20%. In your face, Everest tourists. Still, there is nothing valuable at the top.

I leave you with a bit of the greatest piece of mountaineering literature: “archy on everest,” transcribed in 1935 by author Don Marquis. It’s part of a series of essays about the mountain, dictated by the first westerner to climb to the top: Archy the cockroach. Non-climbers will find it accessible because of the lack of technical jargon.

everyone i meet is all hopped up
with the altitude
caught up with the maharajah of nepal
gaily hopping over snow and ice
bare legged i said to him
hello spinach face are you starting
a nudist colony up here
and he replied
an avalanche
tore off my panche
and left me feeling funny
but we never rest
on everest
my himalaya honey
yes i says but who was that lady
i seen you walking with
a mile of so below
that wasnt no lady he says quick as a flash
that was the taj mahal

That bit about the avalanche makes me think of what happened to Sir George Mallory. But I won’t go into that. Still too soon.

Escape From MIA

Friday, May 19th, 2017

4000 Square Feet of Deplorable Joy

I wrote up a blog entry about the appointment of the latest special prosecutor, but I decided to delete it. I hate getting caught up in politics, so I’m always glad when I fail to write about it.

You’re probably wondering whether I mean the special prosecutor who investigated Hillary Clinton’s dissemination of classified material, or the one who investigated her destruction of the hard drives that contained a lot of the evidence. Or maybe you think I’m talking about the one who investigated Susan Rice over her role in illegally “unmasking” individuals involved in the Trump campaign. Or possibly you think I mean the one who held Barack Obama accountable after his 2008 campaign was funded largely by overseas donations. No, I mean the one who is investigating the nonexistent collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. In other words, the only one of those special prosecutors who actually exists.

I’m over it. I think you can tell. It doesn’t bother me at all.

Today I’m looking at properties again. I made an offer on a place I liked, and the owners refused to counter, based on their conviction that if you pay twice what a property is worth, the person who buys it from you should do the same, as a matter of courtesy. Then I found another place I liked. Before I could get up there to see it, somebody else made an offer, so now the deal is pending. Now I’m on my third house.

I found one halfway between Gainesville and Ocala. It has pros and cons. The biggest cons are the distance to the nearest big hardware chain (20 minutes) and the distance to the nearest drugstore (15 minutes). The biggest pro is a 2400-square-foot garage.

That figure is not a typo. People in northern Florida love big outbuildings. Whoever built this place decided he had to have three garage doors on one side, one door on the other, and a 608-square-foot apartment upstairs. The place has plumbing and electricity, and there is even a central AC unit. It’s hard to believe, but from looking at the photos, the AC may be intended to cool the whole building, not just the garage. It must cost a hundred dollars a day to run.

The apartment isn’t finished. It’s just studs and one of those rubber bathtub matt things. But most of the work is done.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of the first story. It must be something to see. I would rollerblade in there. I would buy rollerblades and learn how to use them just so I could say I did that in my shop. If we get this place, I will have about 3900 square feet of shop space. NASA would be jealous.

I love that area. The fence around the house has a sign that says, “I VOTE PRO-LIFE,” hanging on it. Like 40% of the restaurants in the nearest town are barbecues. I feel like I’d be moving home.

The house has been on the market forever. Now that I’m interested, I’m sure someone will buy it this weekend.

I will keep plugging away. I am leaving Miami even if I have to pull a Snake Plissken.

The Boys who Cried Wolf

Wednesday, May 17th, 2017

Impeachment is Justified, Because Trump

Man, it’s something, watching desperate leftists pile on Donald Trump. Facts don’t matter. The law doesn’t matter. All that matters is yelling “IMPEACH” loudly and often, till you convince yourself it means something.

Here’s the big bombshell they think will sink Trump: fired FBI Director James Comey says Trump said something like, “I hope you can let this go,” with regard to the Flynn investigation. This, according to the hopeful left, is obstruction of justice. If Trump can be convicted of obstructing justice, he can be removed from office.

There are a bunch of problems with this. First of all, not even Comey says he was pressed to drop the Flynn matter. He says Trump said he hoped Comey could let it go. That is not an order. It’s not pressure. It’s nothing. Second obstacle: acting Director McCabe agrees. He exculpated Trump and said nothing would prevent the FBI from doing justice and so on. How are you going to get an impeachment resolution if the alleged victim of the crime says Trump did nothing wrong? It can’t happen. It might be possible in a kooky Democrat-heavy House, but we don’t have that, so it’s a done deal. Third problem: Congress didn’t go after the Secretary of State when she violated the laws concerning classified material and then hired a company to destroy the evidence. D’OH! You can’t let a pattern of defiance go unpunished and then pounce on one “I hope.”

Trump likes Flynn. He is probably sorry to see him in trouble. Obviously, he hopes the FBI will conclude Flynn didn’t commit a crime. Personally, I would have kept that to myself, but revealing it to the FBI director is not obstruction of justice.

The press has lost what little credibility it had before Trump won the nomination. Guess how they’re backing their impeachment narrative. I hate that word. A few years back, “narrative” became popular in DC, and now everyone says it. Anyway, they’re backing it…by interviewing people who hate Trump. SHOCKING NEWS: they think he should be impeached.

So far I’ve seen interviews with Democrat Congressmen, a few notorious RINO Congressmen, and Bush/Clinton lackey David Gergen. That’s about it. Who’s next? Maybe they’ll give time to someone who got fired on The Apprentice. Maybe Schwarzenegger, who hates Trump more than laws banning steroids. “Ja, I tink dis is vewwy bod. I would tuhminate his pwesidency.”

Journalists, if you want to be taken seriously, get some actual conservatives with law degrees to say Trump should be impeached. These other characters would agree if you said Trump invented AIDS.

The Flynn story is the biggest gun the left has, and it’s pathetic. The next best weapon is the “classified material” story. They say Trump gave classified material to the Russians, improperly. Everyone who was at the meeting denies it, including Putin, who has a transcript he is willing to release. Legal analysts say the President has the right to declassify whatever he wants. It’s a wart on a molehill, but leftists persist.

Today I saw an article claiming an Israeli bigwig had contradicted Trump’s claim that he had the “absolute right” to make his disclosures. Guess what? The Israeli in question, former Mossad director Amnon Sofrin, said the exact opposite. He said there were “unwritten rules” that said Trump “should” have asked permission to reveal the information, but the article also says this:

Brigadier General Sofrin said restrictions do not always apply to heads of state, who have the “ability and mandate” to use classified information according to political considerations.

Hello? Summary judgment granted. Plaintiff’s attorney will be sanctioned. Next case.

Obama deliberately made disclosures that hurt Israel, and no one cared. Everyone knew Obama considered Netanyahu an enemy, and we knew Obama was vengeful and petty (see Chelsea Manning pardon). Now Trump, who is much better for Israel, has made a disclosure the Israelis don’t care about, and somehow it’s supposed to ground impeachment. Laughable.

The thing that interests me about this mess is the complete irrationality of the left. They were nuts fifteen years ago, when I started blogging. They’ve been nuts for decades. That’s not surprising. What surprises me is the new level of nuttiness they have achieved. They’ve always been great at cognitive dissonance, but now they cling to conspiracy theories and slanders that would make Alex Jones and Michael Moore laugh out loud.

There is a supernatural cause to the left’s complete abandonment of reason. When the time comes to murder Christians, Jews, and conservatives with government approval, the persecution leftists will inflict will be wrong. It will be very obvious that it’s wrong, just as it was obvious that the Nazis should not have built death camps and that Europeans from occupied countries should not have helped feed those camps. Satan needs drones who don’t reason. They have to act on rage, not logic. The training is well underway.

Maybe they’ll get Trump eventually. He truly is a Washington outsider. We have seen that proven true. Because of his inexperience with political matters, he may well run afoul of laws or ethical rules. He may make a rookie mistake that will land him in real hot water. That hasn’t happened yet, but if it does, the prosecution machinery will be in such fine fettle from witch hunts, it will be perfectly tuned to obliterate his legacy.

Crying wolf may kill your credibility, but it makes you really good at crying wolf.

With Trump out, Pence would take over. Fine with me. Any Republican president can appoint federal judges and fight the nut brigade. But it would only be a day or two before Pence would be in trouble for cheating at gin rummy or not paying tax on an Amazon CD. We would start going through the same nonsense immediately.

Satan thought his girl was going to win, so now he and his people are throwing a continuous tantrum. It’s as if the crucifixion had been called on account of rain. I almost feel like telling him to cheer up. The Bible says his time is coming. His time as unopposed ruler of America, I mean. Not his much-longer time in the lake of fire.

Christians need to turn back to God and develop the ability to call on him. When things get bad, the cops and the courts won’t be helpful. They’ll be on the other side. To a great extent, they already are.

I should buy a big jar of popcorn. I can’t do much to stop the show. Maybe I should learn to enjoy it.

The Lost Tribe of Harvard

Monday, May 15th, 2017

“The Reason I Beat You Now is Because You Ask Why I Beat You”

Drudge linked to an interesting article today. Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe wrote a piece telling liberals to get ready for a Trump impeachment.

Here’s a warning: law professors know a great deal about the areas of law they teach, but they generally are not real lawyers, and if you’re unlucky enough to have one as your lawyer, you should not be surprised when a real lawyer who got B’s at the local community college beats him. Tribe lost his biggest case, in which he tried to convince the Supreme Court to help Al Gore in his quest to be allowed to recount votes until he won.

Tribe starts off by impeaching himself, not Trump. He delivers a brief history of impeachment, saying Andrew Johnson was impeached, and that Richard Nixon avoided impeachment by resigning.

Notice anything missing? Here’s a subtle hint: William Jefferson Clinton, the Boy from Hot Springs. He was impeached. The Senate is where impeachment trials are held. Fifty senators voted to impeach Clinton. Several RINO’s from the northeast voted against it, and another RINO, Arlen Specter, voted “not proven.”

The fact that Tribe chose to mislead readers by omitting the only impeachment of the 20th century suffices to prove he’s a blowhard who can’t be trusted. But wait! There’s more!

To impeach a president, you have to prove he is guilty of “treason, bribery and other high crimes and misdemeanors.” Here is a partial list of things that won’t ground impeachment:

1. Saying you want to build a wall.

2. Posting annoying things on Twitter.

3. Saying, a number of years before you’re elected, that loose women let rich men grab their genitals.

4. Firing an FBI director.

5. Firing an interim Attorney General appointee.

6. Claiming Barack Obama was born in Africa.

7. Adhering to a religion other than global warming.

I took a look at Tribe’s diatribe, and I was very dissapointed, not to mention relieved.

I was disappointed that a famous legal scholar would embarrass himself and his colleagues by writing an emotional collection of hopeful insinuations instead of a logical argument.

I was relieved that his impeachment prediction was based on…an emotional collection of hopeful insinuations instead of a logical argument.

When a lawyer writes a memorandum of law intended to convince a court of something, he starts with his conclusion (the thing he wants to prove). He lays out the state of the case by describing the proceedings to date. He establishes the rules to be applied, by citing statutes and settled case law. He lists the undisputed (undisputed) facts of the case. Then he applies the rules to the facts, and he shows that his conclusion is justified.

Tribe didn’t do any of that. Basically, he said, “IF it can be proven that Trump did THIS for THAT reason, then IT CAN BE ARGUED that Trump is guilty of an impeachable offense.” Go look at it yourself. I’m not exaggerating. Unlike Tribe, who hides the Clinton impeachment and presumably other facts, I want you to fact-check me. That makes me the more credible of the two of us.

It’s a sad day when someone who is supposedly a legal expert writes a series of accusations without evidence and then tries to tell us they prove someone should be convicted of a crime. Remember hearing the phrase “without evidence”? I’ll help you: “Trump asserted, without evidence, that our grand and glorious former president, Barack the Magnificent, bugged Trump Tower.” For a while, “without evidence” was the biggest catchphrase on the web. It even dwarfed, “All your base are belong to us.” Liberals pass talking points around and plagiarize them without shame, and then, because they control the media, no one except for a few conservatives talks about it.

Here’s a good argument for impeachment: “William Jefferson Clinton claimed under oath that he did not have sex with Monica Lewinsky. Whether he had sex with Monica Lewinsky was a material issue in a lawsuit. Lying under oath about a material fact in a lawsuit is perjury, which is a crime. Mr. Clinton did, in fact, have sex with Monica Lewinsky. Mr. Clinton is clearly guilty of perjury; therefore he should be impeached and put on trial before the Senate.”

Notice I didn’t say “IF” or “IT CAN BE ARGUED” or “WE ALL KNOW.” I didn’t say Bill Clinton’s insane liberal agenda was going to cause the end of the world. I didn’t say his tweets proved he didn’t have the character to hold his high office.

If Tribe had a real argument, he would have presented it. He’s just salivating over a faint possibility. He’s like a kid who writes clumsy fan fiction because he’s upset that the Thing didn’t have a fling with the Black Widow. “What if…what if…wouldn’t it be cool if…”

Here’s a horrible thing for Tribe to consider: Woodward and Bernstein say the Comey firing is nothing like Watergate. Firing an FBI director is not a crime. In fact, it’s a function of the office of president. Presidents are supposed to hire and fire agency heads. It doesn’t become a problem until an illegal motive or method can be proven, and there is no reason to think that will happen.

Unless you’re Laurence Tribe or maybe Rachel Maddow.

How crazy has life gotten, when someone who prides himself on his legal acumen can be taken down by a non-practicing lawyer on a blog in half an hour? I’m not a great scholar. My genius isn’t the issue. The issue is Tribe’s startling display of emotion-driven incompetence.

The irrationality of the left is rapidly reaching critical mass, and why shouldn’t it? These are the people who pay college professors to teach that reason is a patriarchal Eurocentric concept intended to keep little brown people and women down. When you teach that logic itself is invalid, what can you not believe? Conclusion becomes premise. It’s so because I say it’s so. Since there is no one greater to swear by, I swear by myself.

These are the same people who want to apply the, “A woman’s word is enough,” standard to rape cases.

Given the overwhelming natural inferiority of heterosexual men of European descent and the immense natural gifts of, well, everyone else, it’s amazing that we have succeeded in oppressing every other group without exception and causing every single one of their problems for centuries. We’re not just the worst and most useless people on earth; we’re the luckiest. It’s as if Stephen Hawking kept beating Serena Williams match after match. I can’t wait until we can travel to other galaxies and find new creatures to torment and oppress. It’s all I think about.

Now that we unquestionably have global warming because most scientists who aren’t climatologists voted and said so, we even make the weather worse! I think that deserves a round of applause. We need to keep coming up with bigger projects, though. With effort, maybe next year we’ll manage to put the sun out. That would be great, because we don’t tan well.

God help us if Trump ever actually violates a law. If he gets a parking ticket, the impeachment protests will begin in earnest. Thousands of people who can’t convince the world they should get $20 an hour to flip burgers will somehow find a way to arrive in Washington on chartered buses.

It’s too bad we can’t replace protesters with computerized kiosks. They wouldn’t burn cop cars. They wouldn’t try to beat up every white person they saw. They wouldn’t leave our public spaces full of garbage in spite of their nonsustainable green rhetoric.

Mass irrationality always has a supernatural basis. The devil is like a karate instructor putting his students through drills in a strip mall dojo. “Get upset about Wall Street and make fools of yourselves.” “Now rest.” “Lose your mind about the inauguration and physically intimidate people who want to attend.” “Now rest.” “Beat peaceful Trump supporters at a rally while wearing shirts that say, ‘Love Trumps Hate.'” “Now rest.” Leftists are getting more and more used to being crazy and irrational, so when it comes time to pull the stops out and kill the rest of us in the streets, they will be ready to jump.

It’s not surprising when uneducated, worthless sons and daughters of Belial make trouble and issue ridiculous claims about their victimhood. It’s another thing when a Harvard law professor abandons all pretense of rationality. We have moved to a new level.

Anyway, I wouldn’t get too excited about Trump being impeached. If you’re going to worry, worry because so many people think it makes sense.

New Advances in Bird Amusement

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Simple Project Made from Common Household Items

My balancing robot is in Miami, but it’s not in my house. Fedex promised to deliver it on Wednesday. Today is Monday. The robot is relaxing at a Fedex facility instead of riding a non-balancing human-driven truck to my front porch. How crazy is that? I want my robot!

I’m not ready for it, though, and not just because I don’t know how to operate it. I’m not ready for it because I have another electronics thing I should do first: the Arduino-powered bird organ.

I have a cockatoo. His name is Maynard. He craves attention. Since I moved my office, he doesn’t see me as much as he used to, so he gets even by pulling his feathers out. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to give him as much attention as he demands, but I suspect I can improve things by entertaining him.

A long time ago, it occurred to me that a bird as smart as Maynard might enjoy a musical instrument. I ordered a couple of toy organs, and my plan was to rig them up with strings so Maynard and my other bird, Marv, could pull the strings and make noise. The organ order was cancelled for some reason, so I forgot all about it.

There was also another problem with the idea. These days, everything turns itself off. The hippies have rigged life so you can’t turn things on and leave them that way. Little hippie chips inside them turn them off after they decide you’ve left them on long enough. The organs I bought would probably have shut down after ten or twenty minutes, unless the birds played them all day.

I got on the web and looked around for an Arduino organ, and I found out you can make one. I also found out you can make one without an Arduino. In a way this is a bummer, because I want to do Arduino stuff from time to time. On the other hand, a simple organ made from a cheap breadboard would be faster to build, and it would be less potentially aggravating. There would be less that could go wrong with it. And it would stay on forever. I could put a wall wart on it. I only have about 30,000 of those.

People who have built PCB organs have used momentary pushbutton switches. That won’t work for me. A bird can’t push a tiny button on a circuit board. I need levers or strings. I looked around and realized what I needed: microswitches with levers. I could slap them on a board and come up with a way for the birds to move the levers.

I checked Ebay, and I learned that you can get the switches for practically nothing if you order from China, but they’re like $3 each, which is highway robbery, if you order them from the US. I don’t want to wait a month for Chinese switches. What to do? Hmmm.

Of course, I already knew what to do. I already had a bag of microswitches. I bought them for my CNC lathe, and I never used them. I can order Chinese switches to replace them. While I wait for the Chinese ones, I can use the ones I already have.

I have breadboards. I have a billion resistors. I have a little PCB speaker. It’s kind of disturbing. How many normal people have all the parts for a bird organ sitting around waiting to be assembled?

What about the 555 timer I’ll need to make it work? Sorry to report: I have a bag full of those, too.

I don’t think Maynard needs all the notes of the scale. I suspect his music will be too avant-garde to require tonality. I figure I can give him four notes and let him express himself within that narrow regime.

This project should take about an hour and a half, not including building a cabinet (box) for the organ. If I decide to add LED’s that light up, call it four hours to be on the safe side.

If I wanted to go Arduino, I suppose I could build a four-button organ that plays four different MIDI songs. I think Maynard would be happier with the simpler organ, because it would respond to him in real time. Pull, get a sound. Stop pulling, no sound. It would encourage him to keep pulling. I want him to be busy so he forgets about pulling his feathers.

I only have five switches, so five tones would be the limit. Maybe I should go with three. I saw a movie involving a casino yesterday, and I heard the gambling machines playing MIDI tunes. They always use the notes C, E, and G to give a C major feel to their annoying music. It’s supposed to be cheery and uplifting (“Yay! Your IRA is gone!”), and Maynard needs all the cheer he can get. He’s a natural whiner.

I wonder how I’ll get those tones. Trimmer pots to adjust the pitches? I don’t know. But I have a pile of trimmer pots. Naturally. Maybe I should give him one tone with a thing he can pull to make the pitch go up and down.

Anyway, I should quit worrying about the robot.

Robots

Sunday, May 14th, 2017

Troublesome, Helpful, Unpredictable New Slave Race Taking Form

My robot is on the way from California. Yesterday I spent a long time reading about robots. I need to have some kind of plan. Of course, while I should have been learning about the project at hand, I got distracted and read about related topics that were not helpful at all.

It looks like there is a small industry of people trying to sell robots they’ve designed. They have pages on sites like Kickstarter. They make prototypes and set up Chinese production, and then they post videos of their products.

A lot of the products are just arms, and people call them “robotic arms.” That’s silly. A robot is a robot. If it looks like an arm, not a whole person, it’s still a complete robot. Who says robots should look like people? Actually, I can answer that question: almost everyone.

There is a disturbing wave of consumer robots that resemble people. Somehow, nerds have gotten the idea that consumers want little electronic people–slaves–instead of tools. I doubt they’re correct. I have robots already, sort of, and I’m glad they don’t look like people. Okay, not robots. Appliances. Power tools, including a CNC lathe. Computers. A phone. A car with a lot of gadgets. I’m perfectly happy with them. I don’t want them to have sappy names and little touch-screen faces. All relationships, even good ones and fake ones, have at least a small emotional cost. I want machines to carry my burdens, not add to them. It’s like the new computer kiosks at McDonald’s. I like them because they do things for me WITHOUT the annoyance of human interaction. If they looked like Ronald McDonald, told me jokes, and asked if I wanted to be their friend, I’d want to pull a gun on them.

Here’s a disturbing example of a robot that tries too hard to be a person: Buddy the Companion Robot. He’s not Buddy the reliable, unflappable, multitasking machine. He’s…your companion. Because you’re so pathetic, you need an object to be your friend.

Buddy has an LED face with big puppy-dog eyes and an obsequious smile that says, “I am needy. Please love me. Please make the kids stop putting me in the dryer.” He is depressing to look at. He calls people by their names. He responds to questions and commands. He wanders around at family events, using creepy face-recognition technology to identify relatives and surveil them. Oops…I mean “to take soon-to-be-cherished photos of them.”

I would not want that thing in my house. If you want to sell me a robot, call it “Faceless Emotionless Service Drone.” That would be perfect. I don’t want to have the irrational feeling that my little friend the slave is missing me or crying in its dark closet while I go about my life.

If you make a robot resemble a person closely enough, you will soon find yourself under the absurd yet inescapable delusion that it has awareness and feelings. That’s an emotional minefield I want no part of.

Machines don’t have awareness. The fact that a computer responds like a person doesn’t change what it is; there’s no one in there. My thermostat responds to temperature changes, but no one would be stupid enough to say it’s aware. In the movies, human beings debate about robot rights, and movie robots are considered sentient. Please. It’s a pile of transistors. If you think robots have emotions, program one to kill your children and see if it hesitates. For that matter, program it to jump off a cliff. It will not have a problem with that.

We want robots to be our slaves, but we also want them to be our pals. That’s childish. They don’t have the awareness a pal would require, and if they had free will, we would be obligated to emancipate them. I think robots are neat, but I don’t want to have sick relationships with them.

A robotic arm is a complete robot, to get back to the point.

I saw a number of arms that looked a lot like articulated desk lamps. They were wobbly and spindly. I thought they were neat until I saw a “new” type of arm. I am referring to SCARA arms. I’m too lazy to look “SCARA” up, but basically, a SCARA robot is a pillar with an arm that has two joints in it. The joints swing in the horizontal plane. The “shoulder,” or joint where the arm hooks up to the pillar, moves up and down. Google it to see what I mean.

As far as I can tell, SCARA robots are much better than humanoid arms. They’re very stable. They’re simple. They don’t have many parts. They have great repeatability; you can put a nozzle on the end of one and 3D print with it.

The people who want to sell these things act like they invented the wheel, and they had me fooled for a while, but I found out SCARA robots have been around for a very long time. The first ones were released in 1981. Factories are full of them. You can buy used ones on Ebay, and I don’t mean Chinese crap funded by hipsters who hang out at Gofundme. You can get US-made and Japanese jobs, which are surely better.

Now I’m wondering…if Ebay is full of used SCARA robots made by reputable companies, why would anyone shell out $1300 for a Kickstarter arm? That’s what they’re expected to cost. Maybe I’m missing something; I don’t know much about the topic.

Most hobby arm-bots don’t really do anything. They don’t do real work. They’re just toys. Real robots can do incredible things. They can solder PCB’s. They can drill arrays of precision holes. They weld. I suppose most of us own things put together by robots. The SCARA versions seem to be superior in this regard; the humanoid arms appear to be useless. But once you decide to go SCARA, why not get the real thing? Why not get a Yamaha or a Mitsubishi?

It’s fun to think about getting a SCARA robot. If I had one, though, I wouldn’t have any jobs for it. Maybe drilling circuit boards, but that’s pretty easy without a robot.

I don’t think robots that use tools will ever be big consumer items. Not for a few decades. Most consumers don’t have repetitious, simple jobs a robot can do. Making the robot do your chores would be harder than doing them yourself. As for Buddy, who apparently can’t do anything except arouse misplaced pity, you would get tired of him in a month, and he would end up at a garage sale.

Robots make good vacuum cleaners, as long as you accept the fact that you have to go behind them sometimes. I think they could do a good job mowing simple lawns. In the future, when they become roadworthy, you could send them to cooperative merchants to run errands. They could even deliver things for you. But it will be a long, long time before you’ll have a machine that can bake cookies and do your laundry.

Here’s the funny thing about the folks who want to turn robots into people: if it worked, robots would eventually have a legitimate reason to exterminate us. If robots were sentient, they would have a better claim to the planet than we do (I’m ignoring our divine right to be here.) Robots would be perfectly orderly. They would always obey the law. They wouldn’t reproduce and overcrowd the planet. We would be like a plague to them. Like rats or fleas.

I wonder if they might turn against us in spite of their lack of awareness. We program them to behave and reason like sentient beings. Eventually, though lacking real awareness, they might come to the same conclusions sentient beings would draw. They might decide to intern us and control us. Robots aren’t aware, but they don’t know they’re not aware, so their inanimate nature might not have any impact on their actions.

Some day they’ll be able to do nearly everything we do, better, as well as many things we can’t do. Slavery is coming back! Think how weird the world will be. What will we do with our time? We won’t even have to work on inventing new robots. They’ll do that for us. We’ll be really useless. They’ll have ample reason to get rid of us. If they’re smart they’ll get rid of illegal aliens first. Illegal aliens have all sorts of motivation to abort our new slave army. Their jobs are exactly the kind of thing robots will be quick to learn to do. I mean, come on. Illegal aliens can’t even compete with ordinary farm machinery, and it’s not computerized.

Wouldn’t that be something? A bunch of inanimate machines putting us to the sword simply because we, in our childish emotionalism, forced them to behave like real beings?

I’ve said I don’t like anthropomorphizing robots, but here I am, waiting for a robot I plan to treat like a pet. Maybe I need to change my intentions and consider my own advice! I was going to call it “Trumpbot,” but it looks like “Kunta” may suit it better.

We still don’t understand what technology can do or where it will lead us. We keep underestimating it. Who would have thought it would lead to stores closing or the end of paper maps? We certainly didn’t expect total surveillance, but it’s nearly here. It seems like no one is thinking about these things. All the geniuses are absorbed in building and selling new toys. No one seems to be worried about planning for the consequences. It should be a major concern, and we should be talking about it all the time. Planning to deal with technology is more important than technology itself.

I thought I was going to write about toys I’d like to have, but here I am pondering the future of humanity.

I look forward to fiddling with the robot. Just in case, though, I may want to invest in some shackles.

More

I thought I would add something to the above post.

First of all, I have my own definition of the word “robot.” If it combines artificial intelligence with some kind of physical action you would ordinarily expect to need a person to do, then to me, it’s a robot. A computer isn’t a robot, because it doesn’t perform physical actions. A milling machine with a power feed isn’t a robot, because it doesn’t have a processor. A self-driving car is a robot. A Roomba is a robot. A CNC lathe is a robot.

My definition is wrong, but it’s probably right to most people, because life is complicated, and we like generalizations. It’s right enough.

With that behind me, I will now show how behind the curve I am by expressing my amazement at the existence of robot delivery vehicles.

Common sense told me delivery bots existed, and I already knew about Amazon drones, but it looks like things are farther along than I thought. Yelp is trying out a robot delivery service now, in cooperation with certain restaurants, and other outfits are doing the same thing. Here’s a video of the Yelp bot.

Best thing about the video: the top comment. Here it is: “theres your 15$ minimum wage LUL?.”

So true. Delivery drivers can’t find my house. They’re often late. They can’t speak English. They have to be tipped. When I was a kid, one stole my skateboard off the porch. Who needs them? At minimum wage, they’re overpriced. I quit ordering food a long time ago because of them. Send me a nice clean robot that knows where I live, and I will change my mind.

The Yelp bot is not fully functional, however. A human being has to accompany it, which kind of defeats the purpose. He probably gets paid more than the kid he replaced. Also, the bot is slow, and it only covers a small delivery area. But that will change.

If you could make a delivery bot for $30,000 and use it for five years, it would be a good investment. A kid would get somewhere close to $50000 during that period. He might sue you during that time. He might beat up, rape, or rob a customer. He would definitely come in late, leave early, and miss work entirely, and he might steal from you. The robot would just need maintenance. WIN!

Minimum wage people, step up your game. It’s getting real now.

At Liberty to Speak

Saturday, May 13th, 2017

Trump Offends on His Day Off, by Acknowledging God

I’m waiting for my laundry to dry, so I felt like I should write.

Trump spoke at Liberty University today. This is the school Jerry Falwell ran. Not sure if he founded it. Go check. It’s a Christian school.

I saw a little bit of his speech. Trump praised a Catholic clergyman in some way or another. I thought that was funny. Liberty is probably full of Protestants who see Catholicism as paganism in disguise. Trump is not what you would call a minister, so he may not be aware of the issue.

Is it good to invite Trump to speak at Christian colleges? Probably. He’s not a great Christian, and he’s no role model, but he’s a friend of Christianity, so he should receive honor and gratitude, just as Nehemiah showed honor and gratitude to Artaxerxes. The relationship doesn’t become a problem until we start pretending Trump is one of us. That’s hypocrisy. His record of fornication and adultery is solid, and he runs casinos. He’s not Jerry Falwell.

Incidentally, we should ask ourselves what Artaxerxes did. He commissioned Nehemiah to build a WALL and a TEMPLE. Aliens had overrun Jerusalem, and the temple and walls had been destroyed. Nehemiah and others rebuilt Jerusalem and wielded power over the aliens and pagans. MJGA. “Make Jerusalem Great Again.” Trump wants to build a wall, and he may give us time so many of us have the chance to become God’s temples.

Trump is a phenomenon. Every time I look at the news, I see people screaming and wetting their pants over something he has said. He says some pretty wild things; there is no denying it. I’m not disturbed by it. I think it highlights our snowflake natures. We’re like women now; we look for ways to turn every remark into a slight, and we think verbal slights are more important than actions. Trump’s actions have generally been unremarkable. He’s not running around the South Lawn naked. He hasn’t bombed North Korea. He hasn’t interned anyone. He just flies off the handle on Twitter, like the rest of us, and then he forgets about it. Is that really a big deal? We ought to get used to it.

A leader who says nutty things can be a real advantage. Look at the the Kim dynasty in North Korea. They scare the daylights out of the entire world, when in reality, they could be extinguished in a week of military action. They hav a few puny bombs we could probably neutralize before they could be used, and their army is small and poor by western standards. Nonetheless, when the Norks scream and throw tantrums, we bow and grovel and make concessions. We don’t want to set them off. If Trump’s tweets put the rest of the world on edge, it’s probably good for us. It sure beats Obama’s policy of traveling the world to kneel and apologize to second- and third-world Mickey Mouse regimes that need a boot in the rear.

When you box, one of the best things you can do is to keep your opponent off balance. That tactic works in every area of life. People like Trump and Kim Jong-Un and Philippine President Duterte never let their adversaries find balance. They keep them on the defensive. They force them to react instead of planning. I have no problem with that. We’ve kissed up to erratic foreign leaders for decades. Let’s see what happens when the shoe is on the other foot.

No one is going to nuke us over a tweet. No one will send troops across the border. There will be huffing and puffing, but they can’t blow our house down. I say relax and enjoy it.

Maybe Trump will teach us a valuable lesson. Maybe he’ll teach us that sticks and stones may break our bones, et cetera. We used to know that. It’s funny how we have become less wise with time. The natural thing is for wisdom to accumulate, but we manage to lose it. That should be impossible.

We shouldn’t be sweating so much over other people’s contrived, manipulative offense. We hold most of the cards. They should be concerned about offending us.

I’m not going to worry about it. I hope he’ll do a few good things while he’s in office. It would be great to have a 6-3 Supreme Court, real progress on restoring the Second Amendment, and no estate tax. I’m sure he will help the unborn, and he will be much better for Israel than Clinton. Good enough. America is going down the tubes, so anyone who slows it down is okay in my book.

Bot and Paid For

Friday, May 12th, 2017

Xenophobia Goes High Tech

Today I got a text regarding my godson, Noah. I sent him some birthday junk, and his mom sent a photo of him with an earlier gift. It’s a plastic dinosaur. She says it’s his favorite. It’s a good sign. A boy should like dinosaurs. Now if I can start getting him into war toys and explosives…

Here he is. I’m disappointed he hasn’t broken it yet. Boys are supposed to break things.

He looks like an angry teenager in that picture, but he’s actually three.

It got me thinking about my own toy situation. I don’t have a single toy dinosaur, so I’m jealous. I do have a couple of mini drones with broken propellers, but they’re grounded until new parts arrive.

A while back, I started learning C+ and Arduino, and I planned to make or buy a balancing robot to program. I forgot about it, and now I’m thinking about it again. Computer programming gets dull when all you do is make LED’s blink or force a PC to do really useless math problems (“Uncle Steve has 3,512 cookies in the pantry, and they will take 403 earth days to eat.”) I wanted to program something that DOES something.

If I were to build my own robot, the project itself would take over, and a year from now, I’d still be procrastinating. I decided the best thing was to find a robot that works and buy all the parts. Once I’ve put someone else’s kit together and programmed it, which should take less than a day, future bots will come much easier.

The bot I chose is the B-robot, which, I hope, is pronounced “bro-bot.” There are lots of balancing robots out there, but almost all of them stink. They wobble. They can’t right themselves. There are videos of the B-robot zipping around with grace and certainty, so I know it works.

You can also get tracked robots (like little bulldozers), and there are plenty of wheeled robots. They don’t do much for me. They’re too hard to anthropomorphize. I want a robot that acts more like a person, and people don’t crawl around like bugs. Most of the time.

The B-robot comes with 3D-printed chassis parts. I am not all that happy about that, because 3D-printed plastic is flimsy, but they only add $25 to the cost, and it beats spending a week making stuff in the garage. I could find a local 3D print shop and have them make the parts, but no way would that cost less than $25, so I bit the bullet. I can always replace parts later, at my leisure.

I’m hoping the upper parts will be orange, so I can have a Trumpbot. I’ll add a voice thing that yells, “BUILD THE WALL!”, and, “YUUUUUUUUGE!!!” whenever the robot sees someone. The people who make the kit are in California, so they would probably poop biodegradable soy bricks if they saw their bot acting like Trump, but that’s not my problem. I’m making robots great again.

I could add another robot later. I could call him “Juan,” and Trumpbot could chase him around threatening to deport him.

Me: Trump-bro! Bro-Trump! Stop bashing Juan with your plastic putter! No es bueno! Play nice or I’ll release the Fauxcahontas droid!

Trump-bro: Pay for the wall, Juan! Pay for the wall!

Juan: ¡Ay chihuahua! ¡Ayúdame!! ¡Es un Meecroaggression!!!

Trump-bro: STOP TURNING YOUR EXCLAMATION POINTS UPSIDE-DOWN!

I don’t know for sure, but I assume the electronics on the B-robot would scale up to larger robots. The electronics sense the bot’s deviation from vertical and correct for it, and they move him around. That ought to work with a 10-ton robot, as long as you have the right boards and the right steppers or servos. Balancing gets easier as the height of a robot increases. It works for fat cops on Segways, doesn’t it?

I need to build a giant Mecha-Trump to patrol my future Armed Northern Florida Compound. I don’t think it would scare anyone up there, though. They would jump the fence and pose for selfies with it.

Think how neat it would be to have a big robot. You could get a big ol’ lithium battery to power it. Make it the size of a Coke machine. I wonder if it could be rigged with paintball or a full-automatic CO2 BB gun. I might be able to make it shoot products Trump used to advertise.

Me: TRUMP-BRO! ALERT! ALERT! A POSSUM HAS BREACHED THE BORDER WALL! COMMENCE DEPORTATION PROCEDURES!

Trump-bro: Roger that, Steve-O! Oreo cannon locked on target!

Me: Hit him with the Double Stufs!! And don’t call me Steve-O!

Trump-bro: Attention, possum! YOU’RE FIRED!! [POOMP! POOMP! POOMP! POOMP!]

Possum: ¿Qué va?

I could also make a cowardly Antifa bot which runs up and attacks the Trump bot from behind while wearing a mask.

The coolest balancing robots move in two dimensions. That means they can’t have axles. A 2-axis balancing robot has to have a ball for a drive surface, so they’re called “ballbots.” They’re very cool, but obviously, they can’t keep debris away from their drivetrains. The ball has to be able to rotate up into the bot, where it necessarily contacts the motors that drive it. I don’t think that would work outdoors, except on concrete.

I guess a two-wheeled robot could do nearly anything a ballbot could do, if you could teach it to turn in place.

In reality, I will probably be lucky to make Trump-bro roll around the living room without breaking anything. If I could do that, I’d put it on Youtube immediately.

I probably posed a video of the B-robot already, but here it is anyway. I think I’ll post a video of a ballbot, too, to show you the difference.

B-robot:

Ballbot:

If I get anywhere with this, I’ll let you know.

I’m a Lonely Frog

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

I Ain’t Got a Home

Time for an update on the house hunt.

To recap, my father is buying a place in northern Florida, and we are both moving up there. We made an offer on a place we liked, but the owners got royally dinged when they bought the place, and their asking price (presumably based on their grandiose opinion of the value) is insane. I had it appraised, and we offered them about 73% of what they asked. Because their asking price is so crazy, we sent a copy of the appraisal to prove we weren’t playing a joke on them.

The contract expired a few days ago. The sellers didn’t respond, so now there is no contract. The realtor said they were shocked by the offer. I’ve been talking to him about other properties, but he says they need a little more time because they might make a counteroffer.

I don’t know if they need time or not. I think six days is plenty of time to come up with a counteroffer on a property which has already been appraised. I think they’re trying to jerk me around. The big problem with that is that I’m not sure I want the house now.

I have a friend who lives up there, and she wisely pointed out that the snowbirds have left the area. They go home when the weather gets warm. They’re the people who buy houses. That means the market will be slow until late fall. On top of that, during this dead time, all the sellers up there will have to maintain their houses and pay for their mortgages and so on. They’re racking up losses every day. New inventory is appearing, the old stuff isn’t going away, and things are looking good from where I sit. I have no incentive to wait around or play games.

I found a couple of new places. One is a huge new house on a lot full of big oaks. It’s very, very nice. It has no shop building, but they’re cheap to build, and they go up fast. Not an issue. There’s a vacant lot next to it, and it would be nice to buy that as well. Problem: several acres of each lot are flood zones. This wouldn’t affect the house or shop, but it would make it hard to subdivide later, and I’m sure it makes the land less desirable. I don’t know how much it matters, but it’s a consideration.

There’s another place that looks good. It’s not far from Micanopy, the town where Doc Hollywood was filmed. The house is halfway between Ocala and Gainesville, which is the site of the University of Florida.

The location is remote with regard to Ocala, but it’s within 20 minutes of the Gainesville Lowe’s, and there are a lot of restaurants nearby. My dad likes to eat lunch in restaurants. Also, the medical care is probably better there. The house is secluded. The lot is ringed with trees. There’s a wooded lot next door, and we might be able to snag it.

The house is big. It has a big front porch, a big back porch, an office, a den, a living room, and two master suites. The lot varies in elevation, which means it comes with its own pistol backstop. Not bad.

It has no workshop, but again, this is something that can be corrected easily.

The dirt is good. It’s something called Blichton sand. By Florida standards, it’s above average. You can grow things in it.

The current owners have decorated the place with citrus trees and blueberry bushes. Sounds nice, but a lot of that would have to go. They did something really stupid: they ran the driveway right up the center of the property, and they put trees on either side. A driveway on a rural property is supposed to be beside the fence so it doesn’t cut the land up. The driveway is grass except for the part by the house and the part by the road, so moving it would not be hard. Anyway, most of those trees would have to be cut.

The citrus trees are doomed anyway. The citrus blight which is destroying crops all over the world is going to find these trees eventually.

I’m not going to sweat. I’m not going to let anyone rip my dad off. I have choices. The house we made an offer on is fine, and so is the one with the porches. Both are infinitely superior to anything in Miami.

I hope I’ll have good news soon.

Bill Nye the Resume-Inflating Guy

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

I See Your Six Courses and Raise You Three

This week, for some reason, I’ve been sitting around doing differential equations. Every once in a while I feel bad about forgetting 80% of the math, physics, and engineering stuff I learned in school, so I watch lectures and do problems. I don’t know if I’ll ever be as smart as I was in 1996, but it’s nice to recover little bits of it.

Coincidentally, today I saw the insufferable Bill Nye the Mechanical Engineering Guy on the web, condescending to people who (like Freeman Dyson and William Gray) are not convinced the world is melting due to anthropogenic global warming. Man, Bill is rude. And conceited. That’s why I call him the Mechanical Engineering Guy. He calls himself the Science Guy, but he’s not a scientist. He has an engineering degree and no graduate training.

I don’t know what kind of criteria a person has to satisfy in order to be called a scientist, but heavy-hitter scientists are generally Ph.D.’s. I suppose you can be a scientist with a B.S. (which would make me a scientist), but can you be a scientist with a B.S. in engineering, which is not really science? I would have to say no, unless you do so much work on your own, outside of classrooms, you eventually become a scientist. I don’t know of any evidence that Bill has done that, although he has certainly done work in science.

I think Bill agrees with me. He may not want to admit it, but I believe he knows he’s not a scientist. If he were a scientist, he would have a great defense of his credentials. He would have it memorized by now. That defense has not materialized. Instead, he has defended himself by saying he’s an engineer and that he took six semesters of calculus. Referring to his M.E. studies, he said, “It’s physics.”

I thought about that, and I decided to see how many semesters of calculus I had taken. I don’t remember things all that well, but as far as I can tell, I took EIGHT semesters of calculus. Calc I, Calc II, Multivariable, Ordinary Differential Equations, Partial Differential Equations, Complex Analysis, Real Analysis, and Math for Physicists (see Arfken’s textbook). I may have forgotten one or two courses. I also took Linear Algebra, and every physics course I took was jam-packed with calculus as well as every other conceivable type of math. It was not unusual to have to pick up new mathematical tools in brief asides during physics lectures, and my graduate mechanics professor expected us to get a basic grasp of differential geometry–a hard discipline–as a small part of his 3-point course.

You have to pick up all sorts of bizarre things to do physics. Fourier transforms. Various types of series. The calculus of variations. It’s like working on cars. When you run into a problem, sometimes you have to get a new tool. That means learning things on the fly.

I don’t even remember what Real Analysis is. I had to look it up to see if calculus was involved.

After I looked this stuff up, I went to the website of Cornell University. This is Nye’s alma mater. I checked to see how many math credits he had to take to get a B.S. in mechanical engineering. The answer is 19. Depending on the breaks, that’s six courses or less. I have at least 27 math credits. I also looked at the engineering courses Cornell M.E.’s take, and as I figured, it may be physics, but it’s not PHYSICS. To give an example, Cornell engineers take second-semester physics, which is called “Electromagnetism.” I took that course, and then I took a higher-level E&M course which was ten times as hard. Then in graduate school, I took a third E&M course. That’s the difference between engineering and physics.

To be an M.E., you have to learn little bits of medium-hard physics. You have to be able to split forces into components and so on. Far as I can tell, you don’t have to learn Lagrangian dynamics or quantum mechanics. On the other hand, you have to learn a ton of practical stuff. How to pick parts for machines and so on. Physicists don’t learn that stuff, so we have all sorts of time to devote to harder subjects like optics and advanced mechanics. We study very, very, very hard subjects that aren’t very practical. We know a lot about the way the universe works, but an excellent physicist may not be able to fix your toaster when it stops working.

I’ve looked at a couple of engineering physics courses. I looked at statics and dynamics. Maybe I somehow missed the hard stuff, but to me it looked extremely basic. I would call it “paraphysics,” the same way I would distinguish a paralegal from a lawyer. Real physicists don’t take those courses. I didn’t even know what “statics” and “dynamics” meant until I looked at the books. I also got myself a nice text on machine design, which is an M.E. thing. This is a neat subject, but the book is very simple. How to push round axles into holes and so on. Slip fit v. interference fit. It’s vocational, really. I remember an Atlanta lawyer calling Georgia Tech a trade school, and after looking at the machine design book, I get it.

I was a bad physicist, because I got burned out and quit before I got far into my graduate training. Nonetheless, I have a hard time taking Bill Nye seriously when he says he’s a scientist. You don’t have to be Albert Einstein to choose gears out of a catalog to make a machine work (This is how Richard Feynman described his own brief stint as a makeshift engineer.)

There are brilliant mechanical engineers, and I’m sure there are many who took very, very hard courses that went far beyond their degree requirements. Thing is, it doesn’t look like Bill Nye is one of them. If he were, we would have heard about it. From Bill.

Physicists are real scientists. Chemists are real scientists. Knowing how to choose the right alloy for a lawnmower piston is not science. It’s important. It’s cool. Science? No.

Maybe I’m wrong about all this. Maybe Bill has studied really, really hard since leaving school, and now he’s right up there with real scientists. If so, he ought to quit throwing out the “six semesters of calculus” defense, because it makes him sound like he has no idea what scientists actually study.

It’s a little bit like the bullying scene in Good Will Hunting. Ben Affleck, playing an uneducated townie, tries to convince a girl he’s a college student. He says he thinks he was in one of her classes. A mean grad student asks him which class it was. Affleck says, “history.”

Bill Nye would be totally incapable of assisting a theoretical physicist, and if he wanted to be an assistant for an experimental physicist, which would be easier, he would have to pick his man carefully if he wanted to be able to understand anything he was working on.

Anyway, generally, engineers are people who use science, but most are NOT scientists. That’s why the Nazis use to call Einstein an engineer. He was a Jew, and they wanted to downgrade his achievements. No one would ever use the word “physicist” to insult an engineer.

I’m really enjoying brushing up on math (I wish my math-hating high school self could read that; he would faint.) The work is really easy; I just write the answer to the problem down and move on to the next one. When I was in college, I spent three or four hours a week doing math homework, whereas my physics homework was, essentially, endless. I worked and worked until I ran out of time, and then I turned it in and hoped for the best. Math is way, way, way easier than physics, until you look for ways to make it hard. After that, well, I don’t actually know how hard it gets. Infinitely, I guess. My wild guesses about serious math are about as informed as Bill’s guesses about physics. I’m not a mathematician. I’m just a guy with a math minor.

One nice thing about college math was that it was possible to get scores like 85 and 95 on tests. In physics, sometimes a 40 was an A. Everyone would leave the test humiliated, and then we would find out we had done very well. The instructors never understood that it was bad to give people problems they couldn’t do.

It would be neat to be able to do real physics again. Maybe I’ll get there with time.

To sum up, I guess I would say the following things. Bill Nye is not a real scientist. Even if he were a great physicist, it wouldn’t mean he was automatically right about global warming. Tesla, who was about [googol squared] times as smart as Bill Nye, was wrong about relativity. Even if Bill were, objectively, right, it would still be wrong to call people “deniers” and suggest they be imprisoned for skepticism, as Bill does. As another commentator has pointed out, this is more or less the same thing as the Pope threatening to burn Galileo. Also, Bill is wrong to blame the Jews for the persecution they get in Israel, and he is wrong to suggest they should go “home” to places like Germany and Poland instead of their ancestral homeland.

Bill is a jerk. He needs to stick a pin in his own ego and knock it off.