Right

Jon Stewart addressing Donald Trump, on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (June 28, 2018):

There’s one hallmark to your presidency that I think we’re finding the most difficult, is that no matter what you do, it always comes with an extra layer of gleeful cruelty and dickishness.

It’s not just that you don’t want people taking a knee; it’s that they’re ‘sons of bitches’ if they do. It’s not just denying women who have accused you of sexual assault; it’s saying, ‘They were too ugly, anyway.’ You can’t just be against the media; they’re enemies of the people. … Anyone in the Republican Party dares speak against you, they also must be humiliated — even if they have a terminal disease.

… What Donald Trump wants is for us to stop calling his cruelty and fear and divisiveness wrong, but to join him in calling it right. And this we cannot do.

More adventures in virtual reality

Last month I wrote about my initial foray into virtual reality … but I got distracted. Instead it turned into a crash course on hacking Android phones, and I learned more than I set out to learn about how Android and Android-based devices work. But finally I decided to get back to why I was doing all this in the first place.

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Unlocking

So my new Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 phone came installed with Xiaomi’s operating system “MIUI”, their variant of Android. MIUI comes with a bunch of custom apps that are useful, helpful, and – given that they are made by a private Chinese company – completely untrustworthy, in my opinion. My goal was to replace the operating system with LineageOS, a vanilla installation of Android.

Here’s how that turned out.

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Virtual Reality

Jill and I enjoyed “Ready Player One” at the theater last week. We didn’t set a very high bar for its plot (and we weren’t disappointed), but the idea of wearing a VR system and interacting with other people in an imaginary world really caught my interest. I’ve also been watching the anime “Gun Gale Online” (a spinoff of “Sword Art Online“) that has a similar concept about donning a headset and becoming a different person in a different place. I believe that VR is the future of how people are going to interact with computers, and I think we’re only now seeing the very start of the technology that’s going to do it.

And I want to get in on it.

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We Are Out Of Duck

(I facebooked this when it happened to me three years ago. Apparently the story has become legend around the office. I’m putting it into my blog for posterity.)

You say the message you’re seeing on the site is ‘we are out of duck.’ Are you absolutely certain?

“Yes.”

You’re completely sure? That’s the wording? ‘we are out of duck?’

“Yes.”

That is the EXACT message? You can reproduce it?

“Yes.”

Send me a screenshot.

We Had to Duck Out

Postmodern Jukebox

On Friday evening, Jill and I went to see Postmodern Jukebox perform at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. (Her Christmas gift to me!)

It was wonderful to see them perform live – so much energy, so much fun! There was no program distributed, so I kept track of the songs they performed. To make sure I had the right songs (hey, I’m not up on Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift) I looked them up on YouTube, where PMJ has posted videos. And as long as I had the videos in front of me, I figured I’d link ’em here so you can get a taste of PMJ’s versions of them. (These videos aren’t exactly the same as the songs we saw them do on Friday; there are different performers and different interpretations.)

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Cruise

Last week my parents treated the whole family (me, Jill, Mom, Dad, Brother John, his wife Jen, and their nine-year-old Claire) to a cruise on the Disney Dream.

This is my second cruise. I sailed on the Disney Wonder ten years ago and very much did not like it. I resolved this time to keep an open mind and try to experience all it had to offer, especially because Mom was looking forward to a great vacation with the whole family, and because Jill really loves cruises and wants me to enjoy them with her.

So let me tell you about everything we did! … No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

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Building a PC

Eve has been wanting to build a gaming PC. We finally found time for me to help her do it.

She’s been using her work laptop for playing Guild Wars 2 with us. It’s got a decent graphics chip, but a slow 5400rpm hard drive (encrypted, too!), so the game has been slow and flaky at times. I gave her a USB3 flash drive to run the game from because that’s actually faster than the internal HD, but it doesn’t help much. So this was good motivation for her to want a new computer – along with her feeling that building a PC will give her “geek cred;” it’s just something that a true computer geek must do at some point. (I called it “building her lightsaber.”)

It’s my belief that building a PC is better than buying a pre-built one. Besides the learning experience (and it is a learning experience), a PC can be built from good, reliable parts that’ll last a long time and that can be upgraded easily. She spent about $1300 on the whole thing, but later she can upgrade the graphics card if she wants to, or even replace the processor, motherboard, and memory while keeping the case and power supply. It’s a good foundation that’ll work well for her. I looked at the prices of pre-built PCs on Amazon, and while they save a few hundred dollars and have good specs on paper, the reviews often complain about glitches or shoddy workmanship or cut corners. I don’t think they would last nearly as long.

Another benefit of having a gaming PC is that there are so many inexpensive good games on Steam that she might never have any desire to buy a console!

So these are the parts we decided on, and why:

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Assault

Many years ago I hated guns and I said as much in my blog. Friends of mine who were pro-Second-Amendment, however, talked me down and convinced me that guns handled responsibly by responsible gun owners are safe; that “assault weapon” is a loaded term and an arbitrary classification; that people need firearms to hunt and to protect themselves; that a gun license is more regulated and harder to get than a driver’s license. That guns themselves are not the cause, that people will always find ways to hurt each other even if they have no guns, that there are other underlying issues that need to be addressed instead.

But, you know what? I’m fed up with news stories about somebody armed to the teeth going into a public place, ruining lives, and then usually ending his own. I was listening to a discussion on NPR about how schools should be better fortified like the TSA checkpoint at an airport, and I thought about how much better it would be if that money could be put towards paying teachers and buying resources instead, so how could we prevent guns from getting to schools? How could we prevent them from leaving people’s homes? Why in the first place do people need firearms that can spray bullets at people?

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