Monday, November 30, 2020

Tim Pool: the FBI might finally be getting involved

Not that I'm all that reassured, given how the FBI has repeatedly shown itself to be disloyal to the president and to the country, but according to Tim Pool, the FBI is, at long last, showing some willingness to look into election irregularities:


British bodybuilder David Prowse, the man who physically inhabited the Darth Vader suit in the original Star Wars trilogy, has died.  He was 85, taken down by complications related to COVID-19.  Prowse was miffed when he found out, back in the 1970s, that his voice was going to be overdubbed by that of James Earl Jones.  I think Jones was the right choice, just as Prowse, who was an impressive hulk back in the day (he also had a role in Stanley Kubrick's "A Clockwork Orange"), was the right choice to be the man in the iconic suit.

As a kid in the 70s, I gobbled up whatever Star Wars-related material I could get my hands on.  Finding out the names of the actors playing these wonderful sci-fi characters was a top priority, so the name David Prowse was burned into my brain from a very early age.  That said, I don't think I ever actually saw a picture of Prowse until many, many years later, and I didn't know about the voice-dubbing flap until several years after that.  

Prowse was an icon in England for his public-service work as the first Green Cross Code Man, representing the UK's National Road Safety Committee by appearing in ads geared toward children.  Prowse has also done his share of acting, even appearing in an old episode of "Dr. Who" in the role of a minotaur.

But the man will always be Darth Vader to me, and it's sad to know he has followed Peter Mayhew into the great beyond.  RIP, David Prowse.

pungent tweet

And when it comes to expropriating wives, Hunter seems to have followed in Daddy's footsteps, at least until he found his current wife, who is South African.

(By the way, the above tweet isn't from the Michael Moore.)

Sunday, November 29, 2020

spank dat pussy

Here are two videos of people spankin' dat pussy good n' hard:

ADDENDUM:  as it turns out, the whole cat-slapping thing is an entire subgenre of videos on YouTube.  Incredible.  I've watched dozens of these shorts over the past 24-48 hours, which means the YouTube algorithm keeps sending me more and more such videos as recommendations.  It's a vicious, pussy-slapping cycle.  That said, it's also educational because I can see how different cats react differently to the butt-slapping.  They all react with pleasure, but it's when the slapping pauses that we can see each cat's individual personality:  some meow loudly to make the slapping continue; others chirp timidly; still others silently adjust their body language.  It's pretty funny.

your dose of badassery for the day

A Marine Corps obstacle course and Shaolin training!

Watch a former gymnast take on a Marine Corps obstacle course:

Okay, fine:  the ex-gymnast proves not to be much of a badass, but she has grit, and when she needs help with a given obstacle, it's because she's just too short.  I suspect that, given time and practice, she'd be able to master the entire course with no help from a Marine.

And now, watch a video about the rigors of Shaolin kung fu training:

The thumbnail for the Shaolin video, featuring a bikini-clad kickboxer, is obviously clickbait:  while some lovely ladies do appear in the video, it's only for a moment.  The ladies are apparently lifeguards being trained in Shaolin techniques.

PowerLine Week in Pictures: selected images

Saturday, November 28, 2020

your moment of randomness

One of the chapters in our upcoming English textbook has to do with hurricanes and typhoons.  As before, I've been tasked with coming up with a story told in both prose and comic-strip form.  Here's one part of one panel of a five-panel comic, in which we see a cow flying through the air:

I'll be back in the office tomorrow to try to draw the rest of the comic strips.  I no longer do the coloring:  our in-house graphic designer takes my black-and-white line art and works his magic on it all, giving my work heft and dimension.  He's quite talented.  Upshot:  when the cow appears in our textbook, it'll be colored differently.

making the rounds:
senile Joe Biden calls a psalmist a "palmist"

Here.  And he does it twice.  It's almost as if the left were envious of the fact that Trump has a horrible grasp of English.  We'll do you one better! they cried.  Et voici Joe.

The Instapundit comments beneath the post are hilarious.

This is the man whom the left apparently expects to give hour-long State of the Union addresses, to engage in long, dreary press conferences, to attend marathon meetings with other world leaders, and to give lengthy speeches at the UN.  Unless you stick a metal rod up his ass to hold him upright, how do you expect Old Joe not to keel over?  How long can the "pump him full of amphetamines" solution work before he finally turns to ashes like Lord Voldemort or the victims of Thanos?

It may be unseemly to pick on old people for being old, just as it's not couth to speak ill of the dead (a maxim that will soon apply to Biden).  Here's the thing:  I know plenty of folks Biden's age (78) who are mentally alert and nowhere near prone to making the sorts of stupid gaffes that Biden makes.  Biden was labeled a "gaffemaster" years before his current senility, so we all know this state of affairs has obtained for a long time.  And this is the best the Democrats could offer during an election year?  The party of "woke" racial diversity thought its last, best hope was an ancient white guy who can't utter two sentences without tripping over his own dick?  The DNC was either stupid or fucking brilliant to rig the game for this moron.  If Biden ends up in the White House, it's going to be entertaining.

My favorite snotty comment from the Instapundit thread:

At Easter[,] Joe Biden will remind us that Palm Pilot turned Jesus over for execution.

Trivia:  Wikipedia lists Joe Biden as having defeated Donald Trump in this election.

doc again

It's been a month, so I went back to the doc for another checkup this morning.  Blood sugar results:  the finger-prick test put me at an astounding 100, which is easily the lowest blood-sugar total I've ever had.  (And I thought 115 was awesome a month ago!)  My HbA1c is down from 9.4 to 8.5, which indicates a positive trend.  The doc wants me down around 7.0, which is still high for normies, but good for us diabetics.  My blood pressure is still high, but it's a bit lower than it had been last month.  The doc recommends a better diet, more exercise, and the continued faithful consumption of my meds (i.e., don't skip out for weeks or months like last time).  He prescribed two months' worth of meds, so I wished him a happy new year since I wouldn't be seeing him again until January.

I'm very happy about the 100.  That's the high end of normal for normies.

oh, crap

Ahsoka Tano (Rosario Dawson) and Grogu, a.k.a. Baby Yoda

I was just reminded that the "Baby Yoda" character on "The Mandalorian" started off being fifty years old and, after several months, is now about fifty-one.  That makes Baby Yoda (whose real name we now know is Grogu) the same age as I am.  Yikes.

Tim Pool surveys the cheating

This makes for a disheartening watch:

Styx on Biden-coddling and Trump's victories

The video is good for how it lists many of Trump's policy victories that have been ignored or suppressed by the leftist media:

Razorfist tackles the ongoing election saga

He's ranty and vulgar, but he makes good points:

Friday, November 27, 2020

The Critical Drinker takes on "The Dark Knight Rises"

He's a few years too late, but The Critical Drinker, an angry Scot on YouTube who reviews movies, finally takes on Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight Rises," which I reviewed long ago here.  The Drinker castigates, as I did, the nonsensical notion of a five-month countdown timer.  You can't drive up the tension in an action movie if your countdown starts at five months and not five hours.  Watch the Drinker's review below:

seen on Instapundit

I saw two images on Instapundit and stitched them together:

Grumpy lefties will counter that the above image really ought to be reversed to reflect the actual situation.  I don't know... it's not as though Biden is going to have an easy time of it.  The presidency ages you.  Look what happened to both Dubya and Obama after eight harrowing years in the White House.  And Biden is going to survive that?

Thursday, November 26, 2020

what if "South Park" were drawn and animated well?

This gets a bit repetitive, but from a technical standpoint, it's really quite fascinating:

Herper Thernksgerverng

I had wanted to post a pic of my leftover stuffing (from the previous Friday's pre-Thanksgiving luncheon), but I gobbled the stuffing before I thought to take a picture. So you get a picture of my makeshift dessert instead: vanilla ice cream topped with my cranberry sauce and some whipped cream from a can:

Happy Thanksgiving to all and sundry!  My Saturday post-Thanksgiving get-together has been moved (tentatively) to December, so aside from the office luncheon I had last week, I won't be celebrating Thanksgiving.  I have all this extra turkey breast, so I told the office guys that I would try making "turkey-ggaseu" sliders for tomorrow's lunch.  In theory, that shouldn't be too hard to do, and I can quickly reheat the "patties" with a gentle pan-fry right there in the office.  My boss wants cheese on his fried turkey—a practice I normally frown upon (do you drape cheese onto your fried chicken?)—but, hey:  he's the boss.  What he wants, he gets, along with his slider bun, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.

postmodernism as the root of all evil

Dr. John Pepple wrote a very interesting blog post titled "Another Challenge for the Critical Race Theorists."  Do give it a read.  I wrote a lengthy comment to that post (the writing of which comment caused traumatic flashbacks to grad school), and I now repost it here:

Back in grad school, when I was inadvertently marinating in postmodernist thinking (a hypnosis that took years to snap out of), I heard talk of "rationalities," plural, and "logics," plural. Among the PoMo thinkers I had to read, there were some who contended that rationality itself was a tool of Western oppression to be wielded against non-Western people (they had to argue this case rationally, of course). Rationality, after all, led to the creation of the technologies of war that resulted in mass death. Therefore, according to PoMo thinking, rationality is inherently toxic. Just as certain people on the right blame communism/socialism for over 100 million deaths in the 20th century, postmodernists blame rationality for millions of deaths in the 20th century. So "math is racist" is the latest rhetorical salvo in an ideological conflict that's been going on for quite a while. Much of this nonsense wafts out of academe and into the general populace, infecting minds as it permeates the masses.

Part of the problem is postmodernism's resistance to the idea of universals. Using the disparaging term "totalizing metanarrative" to describe universals, postmodernists argue that any attempt at describing anything in a general way, i.e., teasing out general principles, is inherently oppressive because it disrespects specific historical context, and in PoMo, absolutely everything is radically contextualized and subjectivized. The very claim that human beings might have "a nature" is disputed (this is what led Steven Pinker to write his anti-PoMo monograph The Blank Slate). Rational pursuits like math and logic stink of totalization because their insights apply everywhere and to everyone, regardless of context. 2+2=4 is an apodictic truth to be feared because it obtains whether you happen to be black, white, yellow, Asian, German, or Martian. The PoMo rebellion against totalization is what leads to the social balkanization we see: intersectionality is an ideology predicated on identity politics, which itself is derived from PoMo thinking: I have my reality, and you have yours. The ironic result is cultural segregation: whites can never understand the black experience, and vice versa, and if blacks want to flourish in a university, then there must be black-only spaces for black students and black teachers—the very segregation that people like Martin Luther King had fought against. Far from seeking a healthy "e pluribus unum" unity, people in this camp seek an absurdist plunge into a perverted notion of diversity.

The whole thing is quite sad, and to my mind, it's the result of wholly unnecessary stupidity. But if stupidity is congenital and therefore incurable... what can be done? Maybe it's not stupidity so much as what thinker Bernard Lonergan called scotosis, i.e., willful intellectual blindness.

Obama says "Fuck you" to pro-Trump Latinos

The left's racist assumption is that, if you're not white, then you have no business voting Trump or GOP.  Seen on Instapundit:   Obama Mocks Pro-Trump Hispanics, Pro-Lifers, and Evangelicals in One Statement. A quote from the article:

Former President Barack Obama mocked Hispanics who voted for President Donald Trump, pro-lifers, and conservative Christians in one statement. He suggested that pro-Trump Hispanics betrayed their race in exchange for less consequential evangelical issues.

“People were surprised about a lot of Hispanic folks who voted for Trump,” Obama said, referring to the fact that in 2020, Trump outperformed his 2016 numbers in 78 of the nation’s 100 majority-Hispanic counties. He also improved his margins with Hispanics in exit polls in the top 10 battleground states.

Obama attributed this shift to conservative religious views, suggesting that opposition to gay marriage and abortion distracted Hispanics from issues they should care about, like race.

“There’s a lot of evangelical Hispanics who, the fact that Trump says racist things about Mexicans, or puts detainees — you know undocumented workers — in cages, they think that’s less important than the fact that he supports their views on gay marriage or abortion,” Obama said.

With no sense of self-awareness, Obama castigates Trump for the "cages" thing, even though Obama himself engaged in the practice and was worse about it.  This dumb twat sat in the Oval Office for eight years.  Partisans claim he was good for the economy, but when he created jobs, they were either burger-flipping private-sector jobs or cushy public-sector (i.e., government) jobs.  His foreign policy, meanwhile, involved kneepads and puckered lips, resulting in a loss of respect for America abroad (remember how, during Obama's 2016 trip to China, the Chinese basically snubbed him at the tarmac?).  Trump's big-stick approach may have been crass, but Trump spoke the brute language of strength that most world leaders—the ones with balls—understand, and the result has been an outbreak of peace in the Middle East.  Go figure:  kissing ass isn't the way to make deals.  Anyway, Obama was a shit president who did little for the economy and nothing for international relations.  His dismissively bigoted comments about Latinos are just par for the course.  Imagine him making blanket statements about black folks who vote Democrat but are against gay marriage (and there are a lot of them).  How do you think that would go over?

how can it be wrong?

This bit by comedian Ryan Long gave me a chuckle:

Basically, yes:  "science"-based policy is there to fuck you.  Or, in this case, your wife.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

blackmail update

I got three or four more of those threatening spam emails, and then they stopped.  None today (so far).  I think this is just a wave of garbage that has now passed.

Knock on wood.

language rant: performative

I've long been annoyed by those linguistic troglodytes who, with distressingly increasing frequency, mispronounce aforementioned by stressing the first syllable:  "affer-mentioned."  (It's normally pronounced "uh-fore-mentioned."  Look it up.)  And these days, a new annoyance has emerged:  misusing the word performative.  Here's a recent example:

“The company since June has been doing all these anti-racist and allyship things[, and their publishing of] Peterson’s book completely goes against this. It just makes all of their previous efforts seem completely performative,” the employee added.

We won't get into the abomination of a neologism like allyship.  Let's concentrate, instead, on the use of performative in the above quote.  In context, the term means "insincere" in the way that something is performed to give the outward impression of sincerity or earnestness without being sincere or earnest.  Something performative, according to this usage, is the opposite of my high school's awesome motto:  Esse non videri, i.e., Being, not seeming.  A performative thing is therefore done merely for the sake of seeming to be so.

Korean office workers often appear busy, but this conduct is performative.

This is not what performative normally means.  In fact, as a technical term used in fields like philosophy, linguistics, and anthropology, performative means almost the opposite of the above-discussed meaning.  The phrase performative utterance, often used in anthropology, refers to an utterance that makes something a reality, i.e., that confers being, not seeming.  When the officiant at a wedding declares, "I now pronounce you man and wife," the two people being married are indeed married at that moment, and not before.  That's how a performative utterance works.  Alas, this new use (to my mind, misuse) of performative has crept into modern parlance over the past year or so, and it irks me greatly.  Sadly, when stupidity gathers momentum, there's little that can be done to stop it.  Mistakes, when propagated, become acceptable usage, and that's how the idiots among us eventually triumph.  And so it is that more and more people will say "affer-mentioned" and use performative to mean something like "outwardly sincere but inwardly insincere."

One bad apple...

more dumbfuckery from CNN

Wouldn't it be awesome if Trump did buy CNN?  I can't think of a network that is more deserving of a good, bloody ass-raping.

Paul Ryan: Trump needs to concede

Over at The Hill, the sentiments of Paul Ryan (whom I'm always confusing with Rand Paul):

Former Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is calling for President Trump to accept the election results and move forward with a peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden

While speaking at the Bank of America’s virtual European Credit Conference on Tuesday, Ryan said he believes it’s time for Trump to acknowledge that “the General Services Administration ascertained the election” so Biden can begin the process of populating his future administration.

The Wisconsin Republican then called for the Trump campaign to end its legal challenges in multiple swing states, noting they have failed to produce evidence of voter fraud.

The "failed to produce evidence" line is being repeated so often that people are stupidly accepting it as gospel despite the fact that plenty of evidence has been found and aired:  it's simply being ignored by the mainstream media.  Watch pretty much any Tim Pool video these days, and you'll realize the extent to which the media are playing defense for Creepy Uncle Joe, using specious semantics to keep claiming "no evidence!"

Whatever.  At this point, I'm looking forward to the comedy that will come with a Biden administration:  the drooling senility, the gaffes, the policy fuckups, the flaccid economy, the awkward attempts at placating the far-left wokerati.  This is definitely a case of Be careful what you wish for—you may get it.  Some might call it the Trump Effect writ large.  And come 2022, we'll see a backlash in Congress during the midterm elections, then a turnover to the GOP come 2024, assuming we can have trustworthy elections.

As I wrote before, I think Trump will ultimately concede for the sake of a peaceful transfer of power.  He's not physically brave enough to risk having the current cultural cold war transform into a hot war that might turn even the White House into a fire zone.  

Over at Instapundit, commenters are calling for Paul Ryan (no friend of Trump, and never really on board with Trump's agenda) to be "hit by a meteor."  I sympathize; now is not the time for defeatism.  I think Trump needs to continue using legal means to fight the fraud for as long as he can, and only then, when all legal options have been exhausted, should he concede the election.  So it's not over yet.  Besides, there's precedent for hanging in there:  Al Gore went until mid-December before conceding, and it can be argued that Hillary Clinton has made a post-election career of not conceding the 2016 results, just as her fellow lefties have failed to concede for the past four years.  Yelling "Concede now!" at Trump is the height of hypocrisy.  But when you're dealing with people who simply don't care how hypocritical they are, that's not saying much.  Too bad Trump failed to drain the swamp.

from Instapundit, quoted at length

Saw this blockquoted correspondence on Instapundit and am repeating it here:

I, too, have been shocked at the refusal to acknowledge Trump’s wins, many of which were actually really progressive. Thanks to his economy, the base pay of the lower 25% of wage earners rose by 4.5%, which is unprecedented in recent history (certainly, nothing like this happened under Clinton or Obama). He brought truly unprecedented unemployment to marginalized communities and gave millions and millions of dollars to HBCUs. He freed over 4,000 Black men from prison; men sent to prison because of Joe Biden’s crime bill, the irony of ironies. Had the Democrats not been so totally committed to their loathing of Trump, they could have gotten much more out of him. This is a man who will do literally anything to be praised on cable news.

There are a number of reasons the mainstream news media refused him that praise even for policies they should have applauded. For starters, the media realized in 2015 that hating on Trump was really, really good for business. TV ratings for CNN and MSNBC went through the roof. With Google Analytics and social media, you know exactly what stories are getting clicks, and the anti-Trump stuff did so well it literally saved the New York Times, which was struggling for its existence.

This is why Trump’s name appears so often in the Times — every 250 words or so, even in places like the Food section. It’s because of the Times’ digital media business model. Like Facebook, the Times is selling its readers’ emotions to advertisers—literally. Look up “Project Feels.” The more the reader feels, the more likely they are to click on an ad. And just the name Trump makes affluent liberals see red.

In other words, digital media met an affluent liberal audience desperate to be told that the people they looked down on were evil racists and that we live in a white supremacy. So the New York Times, Vox, MSNBC, and CNN gave them what they wanted. And media companies went from being broke to making bank.

All of this gets to your really smart point about the Democrats, who are supposed to be the party of the people. There was a time when Democrats represented labor, while the Republicans were all about the rich. We’ve seen a reversal of that under Trump. Trump’s economic agenda was protectionist in nature, and very much geared at the working class. (Like many Scandinavian countries, he coupled this with a big corporate tax cut early on.) Meanwhile the Democrats have doubled down on a thirty-year trajectory of going all in on college-educated voters. . . .

That’s how you end up with an MSNBC host worth $25 million looking down her nose at a person without a college degree and sneering, “You voted for Trump? You racist!” and feeling like a hero.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

December can't come fast enough

I have plans for when I've finally paid off all my scholastic debt.  Before I start saving in earnest, I do aim to get a little spendy.  There are several things I've been wanting to buy, but I've been holding off because debt-relief comes first.  

One thing I need to buy is a decent pair of glasses.  When not wearing contacts, I've been relying on my mother's glasses since before she passed away nearly eleven years ago, and my eyes have aged enough that her glasses are no longer as helpful as they used to be.  While it's sad to put this pair of glasses away (they do still work, to be sure, but they're no longer ideal, and I don't plan to throw them away), it's high time I got myself a new pair of glasses that I can wear in public without looking overly foolish.  

Another thing I want to buy is a new desktop computer—probably another Mac, but I wouldn't necessarily be averse to getting a solid Windows machine.  (I'd have to do some research, though, since I've never bought a Windows computer.)  My MacBook Air laptop, only recently brought back from the dead, will last me for several more years, but staring at this tiny screen has long been a burden, so it's time to get me a new computer.  Along with a new computer, I'd like to get a better printer.  My current printer does what it's supposed to do, but it prints a bit crookedly, and I think I'd like to have the option to print in color (laser, not inkjet).

A third item I want to buy is related to the computer and printer:  a new, decent desk and a new, decent boss chair.  I've been doing the poor man's thing for years, now, sitting at my desk on a cheap, fifteen-dollar Costco folding chair.  A pair of such chairs, actually:  I like to sit with my legs folded, so I drag over a second chair to support my legs.  A nice, heavy-duty boss chair that is roomy enough for me to assume a cross-legged position would be very nice, indeed, and a desk that's wide enough (and modular enough) to accommodate a two-monitor configuration plus stationery-store items would also be nice.  (My current desk is a used one that I got from a friend—a creaky hand-me-down that does its job well but needs to be upgraded.)  Does Korea even sell chairs that are as large as what I'm looking for?

Depending on where I go with self-publishing, I might also want to invest in the machinery needed to have a home printing press, i.e., the ability to crank out perfect-bound, softcover books, covers and all.  That's a whole new level of investment, though, in the tens of thousands of dollars, and it's not an immediate priority.  Other things come first.

At some point, I'll also have to think about what I'll need for next year's walk.  I think I've bought most of the requisite equipment, but there will doubtless be other necessaries, such as sports goggles to deal with wind and sand along the Korean east coast.

Anyway, December can't arrive fast enough for me.  I'm impatient to pay off the rest of my debt and move forward with the rest of my life.  This has been a long time coming.*

*And I keep expecting to be diagnosed with terminal cancer, once I'm debt-free, because in my life, the Lord always giveth and taketh away at the same damn time.  I can never seem to get a clean victory, no matter what I do.

ADDENDUM:  I forgot to mention that my faithful shoulder bag is now dying:  one of its handles popped off yesterday, so I can use only the shoulder strap to tote it around.  It's only a matter of time before the fabric whether the strap attaches to the bag rips open.  There's already a hole on one end of the bag.  Another thing I need to buy, and soon.

well, I'll be

Remember when I made that advanced-level quiz on religion?  The link still works!  I had thought that link rot would have set in by now, but the link has proved to be stable.  For now.

I made that quiz in mid-January of this year.  Feels like a decade ago.

Tim Pool re: Sidney Powell and "fact-checkers"

Here are two videos from Tim Pool regarding the Sidney Powell flap.  This first video stresses the need to wait for the actual evidence and not to commit the genetic fallacy ("She's obviously a loon, therefore her information is incorrect").

The second video is a reminder not to be so naïve as to accept the word of so-called "fact-checkers" whose main purpose is to bullshit you:

Adam Ragusea on the very concept of stuffing

Decent theoretical explanation re:  the why of stuffing, as well as a good bit of verbiage on the whole "stuffing versus dressing" debate:

Regarding stuffing/dressing, I made my thoughts known here (scroll to the footnote). According to Ragusea, my opinion makes me more of a Northerner than a Southerner.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Styx tackles the Sydney Powell issue

So—Sidney Powell!  Crazy, unhinged, cringe-inducing, conspiracy-mongering bitch or savior of the Donald Trump election campaign?  Neither, argues Styx:  she's a distraction, and you all (i.e., we all) are fools for paying attention to her.  Trump has done this before.

pandemic alert status

In case you're living in Korea and wondering where you can find out about the pandemic alert status in your part of the country, visit this Korean-language site. The term being used is dangye (단계), which normally refers to a step or a stage.  The Seoul metropolitan area will move up to a Stage 2 status at midnight, right as November 24 begins.  Each stage or level is associated with different restrictions on gatherings, etc.  Unlike the American military's DEFCON rating system, the pandemic alert status gets more serious as the numbers increase.  There are many charts online explaining the various stages.  Here's one that I found:

If the animation annoys you, a better chart might be this one:

Joerg Sprave sagt NEIN!

Joerg Sprave of The Slingshot Channel on YouTube tries out a new electric vehicle:

Conclusion: as electric vehicles go, this sports car is merely a gimmick, and not at all good for the environment given all the pollution involved in the car's manufacture. Note that Sprave isn't impugning all EVs—just this one.  That said, this is an anti-EV argument I've heard before.  I think that, eventually, we'll have environmentally friendly EVs, but that day is still far off.  When it comes, it will be revolutionary, especially once crowded countries like China embrace such transportation.  But we're not there yet.

Tim Pool on evidence for voter fraud

The discovery of chicanery continues:

Please watch the video before commenting.

hacked and threatened, but not really worried

I go through a twice- or thrice-daily routine of tossing out spam emails.  Because I've set my filter not to accept any emails that lack "Kevin" or "hairy" in the subject line, 99.99999% of unwanted emails are screened, i.e., shunted into my trash can.  (Fine, I made that percentage up, but it means "almost all.")  Now and again, I quickly skim through the spam before I delete it, partly to make sure I'm not deleting non-spam items, and partly because, truth be told, some of the spam-email subject lines are interesting or even funny.

Today, one email stopped me cold because the subject line contained an old password of mine.  I haven't used this password in well over a year, and Google Chrome has repeatedly warned me for months about how the password has indeed been "compromised."  I decided to risk clicking on this email to see what the malicious party had to say... and it turned out to be a threat of blackmail.  The sender claimed he had found my password by following my online activity and had used my old password to insert malware into my computer, and if I didn't send him over $1000 via Bitcoin within a specific period, he would release my email-contact information.  At first, I was a bit freaked out, but when I calmed down, I realized a few things:  (1) except for a couple sites that I frequent (my US bank's online-banking service, Chicago Manual of Style Online), I don't use that password for anything anymore; (2) the guy (I'm pretty sure it's a guy) never addressed me by name; (3) despite having my old password, the guy never thought to access my bank account and siphon the cash out for himself.  Instead, he's doing the blackmail thing, which is a lot more work, in my opinion.

So here's what I've done:  I've changed my password for my online-banking service; I've chased down any other instances in which my "compromised" password might be an issue (Chrome said I had four such instances, which was news to me), and I've remade the passwords using Chrome's "suggest strong password" function, then used the keychain mode so that my browser has memorized all my passwords (which, I admit, may itself be problematic).  When I go home tonight, I'll re-upload my Norton antivirus software, which got flushed out back when my laptop died and was resurrected a few months ago.  That ought to root out any potential malware, but here's the thing:  I think the guy is full of shit.  Yes, my old password got compromised long ago; it's been floating out in cyberspace for well over a year, and (except for my bank) it's linked to sites that are of no consequence to me.  But how likely is it that this genius—who didn't think to hack my bank account and doesn't seem to know my name—actually managed to install any malware on my laptop?  I'd say very unlikely.  So the last thing I did was delete his email.  If the guy makes good on his threat, I suppose I'll hear from my various email contacts.  "Yo, Kevin—porn spam with your name on it?  What gives?"

I seriously doubt I'm going to hear anything more from this joker.  If I do, though, I'll let you know, and I'll take appropriate measures.

EPILOGUE:  I just received another email with exactly the same content, but this time from someone with a different name.  Conclusion:  this is just a spam scam based on the lazy culling of compromised passwords.  Now that I've gotten two of these in one day, I can expect there to be more of these emails.  This is just a new type of spam, is all.  Yawn.

the "I'm Sorry" pie

Blueberry, as promised:

Sunday, November 22, 2020

your dose of Styx and Tim

Styx on Dominion Voting Systems:

Tim Pool on open lockdown defiance:

it's bad—real bad

According to Sidney Powell, Georgia is probably the worst of the bunch when it comes to election irregularities and fraud.  Here's Powell's phone interview with people at NewsMax (which everyone is now turning to ever since Fox News, like the Drudge Report, started to go Never Trump).  I, for one, couldn't stop listening to this.  There's are things Powell says that are substantive; there are other things she says that are mere fluff—deliberately vague promises of events to come.  The substance, though, is compelling.  Have a listen:

Powell's entry on Wikipedia makes her sound like a conspiracy nut:

Powell has promoted numerous conspiracy theories. She has made claims of a "deep state" plot to frame Flynn, and has promoted personalities and slogans associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory. More recently, Powell has alleged that a secret cabal of international Communists, Venezuelans, Cubans, Chinese, George Soros, the Clinton Foundation, "globalists," thousands of Republican and Democratic officials, and others have rigged the counting of ballots in the 2020 presidential election, which she claims Trump won "by a landslide."

Make of that what you will. I think the writer of the Wikipedia entry has an axe to grind.

a slew of images

Saturday, November 21, 2020


It's looking likely that the upcoming post-Thanksgiving shindig will be postponed by at least a month, which means I'll be reorienting my priorities this weekend away from food-shopping and toward working on tee-shirt and award-plaque designs for JW and his kids.  The tee designs are a higher priority because I need to upload them on Teespring and then order them.  Shipping time is a factor; the sooner I order the shirts, the better.  The plaque design, once done, simply needs to be brought to a plaque-maker, and the making of the plaque probably won't take more than a couple business days.  Once the designs are done, I'll slap them up on the blog for your approval.  (In case you haven't figured it out by now, JW doesn't bother reading this blog, which is why I feel free to talk about this project here.)

NB:  I do have one cooking project this weekend, though:  an "I'm sorry" pie for my officemates.  I've settled on blueberry, but if the downstairs grocery sells only a frozen-fruit medley, then I'll just make a generically berry-ish pie.  I've been watching videos on how to do top-crust lattices, so we'll see how that goes.

Friday, November 20, 2020

meal pics and critical analysis

The pre-Thanksgiving luncheon is done.  Ah, the agony and the ecstasy!

One bit of cooking wisdom is Taste as you go.  (There are several "as you go" maxims for cooks.  Another is Clean as you go so as to minimize the amount of dishwashing that you have to do at the very end of your cooking project.)  This is sometimes easier said than done.  Take my pie, for instance:  I tasted the pie's filling before I baked it, but once the pie was baked, I couldn't taste it without ruining its look.  Not that the look could be ruined, given how cracked and ugly the pie was after it had cooled.  Anyway, I knew I was taking a risk by bringing my pumpkinish pie to the office:  we would all be tasting it for the first time.

And in the end, the pie was a failure.  The cracks in the pie were an omen, as was the pie's unwonted firmness when it came out of the oven.  A typical custard-style pumpkin pie is a tiny bit wobbly when it's done baking; technically, it's still cooking at that point because you're supposed to leave it inside the now-extinguished oven to cool down as the residual heat fades.  As I noted earlier, several factors can lead to a cracked surface:  the overuse of egg whites, an overly rapid cool-down, and overbaking.  These factors show the interplay between a pie's internal consistency and its external environment.  I think my pie suffered from all three of the above-mentioned factors, but there was a fourth factor as well:  the pie's overly thick consistency.  I had about 1.7 times the squash flesh that a typical pumpkin-pie recipe calls for (typical = about 450 grams, or about 16 ounces; I had 750 grams).  While I tried to eyeball the other elements in the recipe, multiplying everything by 1.7, I must have done a bad job of it.  When I cut myself a slice of pie and bit into it, I could tell right away that the pie was overly dense.  My coworker described it as "cakey," which was an apt descriptor, despite there being no flour in the filling.  (Some recipes for pumpkin pie do, in fact, call for a tablespoon or two of flour to be stirred into the filling.)  While my coworker went on to insist that he liked the pie and found it delicious, I think the damage was done, and my coworker was just being polite.  At least the crust was okay, but then again, with the recipe I use, the crust is impossible to mess up.  Here, ladies and gents, is what fugly looks like:

The other elements of today's meal were much better, although not perfect.  Below is a pic of the peas and carrots plus the shaved, glazed ham.  The ham was indeed fantastic, but you didn't need more than a slug's IQ to make the honey-cassonade-butter glaze.  The peas and carrots were interesting because the bag of frozen peas I used contained European peas, and I had no idea that European peas were tougher than American peas and needed a lot more time to boil before they could become soft.  With your typical bag of frozen American peas, you just dump the contents into boiling water, let everything boil for a few minutes, and voilà—you're done.  European peas, as I discovered, remain tough even after a few minutes' boiling.  Such peas are not nearly as soft or as sweet as their American counterparts.  So I cooked the peas and carrots a bit longer before draining them and applying butter, salt, and pepper.  This still didn't solve the problem, so I resolved to blast the peas in the office microwave once I got to work.  I did so, and that sort of worked:  the peas were at least tolerably soft.

The rolls come courtesy of my boss:

The stuffing was as awesome as advertised.  The only problem was that pairing the stuffing with the turkey proved problematic:  I had applied herb-infused butter to the turkey breast, which resulted in some very sage-heavy turkey.  That, alongside the stuffing—which had sage-herbed croutons and sage-forward breakfast sausage—made everything far too sage-y.  Either component on its own would have been fine; putting them together proved to be a mistake.  Not a tragic mistake, but not a pleasant mistake, either.  Anyway, I enjoyed the stuffing when I focused exclusively on it:

Below, you see the cranberry sauce and the mashed potatoes.  Zero complaints here:  I loved the cranberry sauce and didn't hear any carping about it from anyone else, and everyone loved the potatoes, which proved to be the most popular item on the menu—so popular that I joked about making nothing but mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving next year.

The turkey breast was fine, but when I cook more turkey for the upcoming gathering of my friends on Saturday the 28th, I'm going to stick to salt and pepper.  I'm not even sure I'll add butter, which may be unnecessary, given that there'll be gravy.

My American coworker, the one who had experienced a corn-related disaster in his youth, was open-minded enough to try my cream corn, and he loved it.  This item didn't prove to be anywhere near the top seller that the mashed potatoes were, but my coworker loved the corn, and so did I.  This isn't my recipe, though.  For the recipe, click here:  Cream Corn Like No Other.  Is that clickbait-y enough of a title for you?

And here, at last, is a look at the ensemble:  Thanksgiving on a plate.  While it wasn't a perfect meal by any means, it was a good dry run for next week's shindig.  I learned a lot, got a few things wrong, and got more things right.  On balance, the meal got positive reviews; the boss proclaimed himself stuffed, and my American coworker told me that, while he doesn't normally miss American food, he feels the nostalgia whenever he eats my food.  I'll take that as a compliment.  (Not pictured:  my large dollop of cranberry sauce.)

Next week's menu will be mostly like this one, but with some changes.  Luckily, I'm not responsible for dessert for next Saturday; my buddy Charles has that covered, and since he doesn't like pumpkin pie and especially hates winter squash (dan-hobak), he's making chocolate cake.  I'm a chocoholic, so I'm not complaining.  For my part, given how my pie basically crashed and burned, I plan to make an "I'm sorry" pie to give to my work colleagues early next week.  Maybe I should go for blueberry...?

UPDATE:  my Korean coworker cut himself a slice of pie to take home to his wife, and he just texted me to say she loved it.  Go figure.

as my carrots boil, I write these words

Pre-Thanksgiving office luncheon checklist:

1. salt-pepper turkey breast with herb-infused butter
2. gravy
3. shaved deli ham in honey-butter-brown sugar glaze
4. sage-herbed baguette-crouton stuffing with homemade sausage
5. peas and carrots (finalizing now)
6. homemade cream corn
7. homemade mashed potatoes
8. homemade cranberry sauce
9. pumpkin pie

I thought about doing the Korean thing and making the ham's glaze into honey mustard, but that would've been such a Korean cliché that, in the end, I said nah.  (Koreans are obsessed with honey-mustard as a salad dressing, and as a dip for fried foods like chicken fingers.)  I'm glad I did:  the ham tastes amazing.

While I tried pan-grilling the turkey breast in herb-infused butter last night, the result was bizarre-tasting:  when I first bit into a sample slice of turkey, I realized that the pan-frying had produced an effect not unlike the toasted bread on a grilled cheese.  Turkey toast.  Very weird.  So I simply salted and peppered the rest of the turkey breast (which is already cooked), containerized it in a microwavable baking dish, then chopped up the rest of the herb-infused butter and put the butter chunks on top of the turkey.  I'll microwave the whole thing at the office, and I hope the effect turns out to be pleasing.  If not, well, my luncheon companions can always bury the turkey under gravy.

My pumpkin pie is ugly as sin.  As if to spite me and show the world how much of an amateur I am, the pie cooled and became severely cracked (photos to come).  The pie's consistency is fine, and based on when I tasted the pie's batter and then smelled the baked result, the thing seems otherwise to be a legitimate pumpkin pie, albeit made with dan-hobak.  According to various pie-making videos, the key to having a pumpkin pie with no cracks is to (1) use a mixture of whole eggs and egg yolks to minimize the amount of egg white going into the pie, and (2) allow the pie to cool slowly inside your oven, letting the residual heat bleed off gradually so that the pie doesn't contract violently, resulting in cracks.  (Egg whites apparently stiffen the pie's consistency, thus also helping to produce cracks.)  I've seen some pumpkin-pie recipes that call for a bit of flour to be stirred into the batter; I'll have to experiment and see whether that makes for better results.  Assessment:  I've got a pie that's ugly and unprofessional, but it's going to taste just fine once it's in your mouth.

The cream corn is awesome and addictive.  Alas, my American coworker says he suffered a horrible corn-related incident when he was younger, so he hates the stuff now.  Well, good:  more for me.  The peas and carrots are good, but the peas seem undercooked.  I'll solve that problem at the office by blasting the veggies in our communal microwave.

The cranberry sauce ought to go down easy; it tasted great after it had cooled down.  Same goes for the mashed potatoes, which I deliberately under-mashed so that they'd have a bit of texture to them—sort of a compromise between creamy and chunky.

For my money, though, the pièce de résistance is the stuffing, which I made early in the week and froze over the next few days.  This morning, I pulled the thing out and stuck it in the oven to reheat; I haven't sampled it today, but I believe it's back to its original glory.

Carrying all of this to the office is going to be a bitch, but that's usually how it goes on days like this.  Kevin's Catering Service, indeed.

In other news:  I've begun reading Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods.  Bryson buys a Gregory backpack for his trip along the Appalachian Trail.  Smart man.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

deadly bird day tomorrow; final prep tonight

My pre-Thanksgiving office luncheon is happening tomorrow.  Tonight, I need to prep the last few things for tomorrow's meal:  I'm going to sear my turkey breast, prep my peas and carrots, and—at the request of my officemates—make and bake a pumpkin pie.  I'll be using my buddy Charles's favorite ingredient, dan-hobak (단호박), a.k.a. kabocha or sweet squash (also called "sweet pumpkin," "autumn squash," or even "winter squash").  I've prepped pretty much everything else, and since tomorrow's luncheon isn't happening until 3 p.m. (the boss is coming in very late), I'll have time tomorrow morning to finalize any prep and to reheat food items once I'm at the office.  The meal ought to be fun.  I've had fun making it in this slow-but-steady way, doing only one or two dishes every day.  Expect pictures.

the stupidity of blaming Trump/GOP for COVID

Tim Pool:

"The lockdowns are gonna get worse," Pool says.  Yeah, things are worsening here in Korea, too.  Seoul now has a W100,000 fine, same as can be found in Busan, for not wearing a mask in public.  Plastic barriers at restaurants have been going up all over the place for the past few months.  Most of these measures are little more than security theater—not particularly effective at stopping the spread of the virus—but the government engages in this nonsense both to provide a false sense of security and to continue to consolidate its power over the citizenry.  Only a few months ago, I was praising Seoul's government for its surprisingly light touch, especially when compared to the draconian measures being implemented in blue-state America.  Now, I see less and less to differentiate South Korea from those blue states.  At this rate, we've got our own extreme lockdowns to look forward to here on the peninsula as people continue to conflate infection rates and death rates.

Let's talk math for a sec.  When you calculate a death rate, you can talk in terms of "how a disease affects an entire population."  In that case, according to the Johns Hopkins website (which, truth be told, isn't that reliable), 498 South Koreans have died over the past year of the pandemic.  With an ROK population of 52 million, that puts the death rate at [498/52000000], or 0.000009577, or 0.0009577 percent, i.e., a nearly 100% survival rate.  Others respond, "No, no—for a more accurate death-rate calculation, the denominator should be the number of people infected, not the total population."  Fair enough.  That's a much smaller number:  the Johns Hopkins site puts South Korea's infection total at 29,654 as of this writing.  So our new, supposedly more accurate death rate would now be [498/29,654], or 0.01679, or 1.679%, which equates to a survival rate of 98.321%.  I have to say:  I like those odds.  I'd bet on those odds.

But if the ROK government does lock us down, trapping us in recirculating-air environments where we rebreathe potentially contaminated air, we'll probably see things get worse.  Will the new vaccines help matters?  One can only hope, although I'm hearing that the vaccines won't provide permanent immunity, necessitating booster shots and the like.  As Styx points out, the virus might also mutate into less-harmful forms of itself (it's likely already mutated several times), and that could help end the pandemic faster.  Of course, it's also possible for mutations to go the opposite way, producing virulent strains of SARS-CoV-2, and that wouldn't be pretty.  The general consensus seems to be that we've got another year of hardship to go before things renormalize.  Let's try not to strangle our economies and live as fearful, superstitious cave dwellers in the meantime.

"A Walk in the Woods": review

[NB:  spoilers.]

2015's "A Walk in the Woods" was directed by Ken Kwapis ("The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants") and stars Robert Redford, Nick Nolte, and Emma Thompson.  The movie is based on Bill Bryson's 1998 travelogue/memoir A Walk in the Woods, which chronicles a 40-something Bryson's attempt to through-hike the Appalachian Trail in the company of his friend Stephen Katz.  In the movie version of events, Bryson is more a fictional version of himself, given that Robert Redford was almost 80 when he stepped into the role of the on-screen Bryson.  Thompson plays Bryson's worried wife Catherine, an English nurse who has been married to Bryson for decades, accompanying him all over the world (Bryson is a travel writer by trade).

As the story begins, Bryson is noticing the signs that come with getting older:  you attend more and more funerals, and life increasingly becomes a spectator sport.  After one particular funeral, Bryson finds himself walking up to and considering a section of the Appalachian Trail, part of which swings close to his residence in New England.  An idea is born, and Bryson decides to through-hike the AT's nearly 2100-mile length.*  His wife, filled with visions of a horrible death on the trail, tries to dissuade Bryson from what she sees as madness, but when it becomes obvious that Bryson has no intention of giving up, she insists that he not hike alone.  Bryson dutifully phones several contacts, all of whom reject the offer to hike the AT with varying degrees of scorn, but just when Bryson runs out of partner options, his old friend Stephen Katz (Nolte) calls up, gravel-voiced, and asks to tag along.  Bryson says yes, much to Catherine's dismay, for she knows of Katz's rakish reputation and his checkered past.  Katz shows up for the hike, grizzled, frazzled, and bumbling, and he and Bryson say goodbye to Catherine and head out for Georgia, for what will be the ultimate walk in the woods.

The rest of the movie plays out as a series of adventures.  The hilly AT presents challenges in terms of terrain and weather, and the two friends are constantly outdone by younger, more robust hikers who are always passing them.  When some of these hikers offer the older men help, Bryson and Katz's pride flares up, and they politely reject all aid—until one crucial point late in the movie when help is a matter of life and death.  The two men rekindle their friendship, hash out old, simmering conflicts, and eventually come to terms with the rocky past they share.  Along the way, they encounter some interesting characters.

Ultimately, Bryson and Katz give up and go to their respective homes before finishing the whole trail, having done perhaps half of the total distance.  The experience motivates Bryson to write another book, despite his having protested throughout the hike that he had no intention of writing a travelogue.  

I haven't read Bryson's book, but I'm interested to do so now.  Wikipedia's entry about the book makes me think that Bryson's insights from the trail might, in many ways, dovetail with my own distance-walking revelations.  That said, I'd file this movie under the "cute old people doing cute things" subgenre.  The movie is predictable and not particularly deep.  The language is often salty (mainly thanks to Nolte's character), but the movie's humor also relies on a lot of awkward physical comedy that neither Nolte nor Redford can pull off with much finesse.  The two lead actors play well off each other, but the script makes their dialogue far, far too quippy and unrealistic.  (I've heard some people question the veracity of Bryson's book as well; the man may have used his flair for language to embellish aspects of his experience.)  One obnoxious character named Mary Ellen—a snotty, know-it-all hiker who disparages the two men's lack of experience in a tone-deaf manner—takes up far too much time, and her presence, which is meant to be humorous, isn't particularly funny.  The movie is at its best when the script drops the humor in favor of meaningful dialogue that explores the nature of Bryson and Katz's friendship.  In those moments, there are hints of depth, but only hints.  On the bright side, the cinematography does justice to certain parts of the Appalachian Trail, so the film's overall look is quite lush and beautiful.

I've reviewed the long-hike movie "Wild" (see here), which also came out in 2015.  That movie and 2010's "The Way," starring Martin Sheen (yet to be reviewed, strangely; I'm not sure why I haven't written this one up yet), are both deeper and better portrayals of what it's like to go on a long walk and to come away enriched by the experience.  I'd like to recommend "A Walk in the Woods," but I can do so only hesitantly.  It's a cute movie starring two likable actors, but in the end, it's little more than cinematic cotton candy:  there and gone.

*A scene early in the movie shows a sign that says, "Springer Mountain, GA:  1,760 miles; Mount Katahdin, ME:  308 miles."  This adds up to 2,068 miles, i.e., nearly 2,100 miles.  If you Google the length of the AT, however, you're told that it's 2,190 miles, i.e., nearly 2,200 miles.  So which is it?  For this review, I'm going with what the movie tells me, although I think, at one point, one of the characters quotes a distance that's different from the 2,068-mile figure shown above.  As I've discovered through my own distance-walking, there doesn't seem to be a reliably objective way to measure trail distances.  This throws all sorts of things into doubt for me, such as the size of our galaxy and the distances between stars.  And if you really want to blow your mind, look up "the coastline paradox."