Simplification

Posted on Sun 03 September 2017 in misc

The modern web has a disturbing tendency towards overengineering things. This is probably because most """web sites""" are actually huge multi user applications with JavaScript frontends that exceed GNU Emacs in size, complexity, and memory footprint. Even many of the "static site generators" are stupidly overcomplicated if all you need is a single page of HTML. A text editor, a bit of Markdown or ASCIIdoc, some static media files, and barebones hosting is really all you need to get your message out to the world. Don't overthink it.


Campus of Eden

Posted on Sun 02 April 2017 in misc


Blogging with Pelican and Syncthing

Posted on Sun 26 March 2017 in misc

Over the past few months I found that I was spending more time and effort rsyncing my writing directory between systems than I was actually writing blog posts, which is in part why I made so few of them. This was stupid, as it flies in the face of the whole point of using Markdown for maximum portability. Today I realized that synchronization across devices is pretty much a solved problem, and that I should probably take a look at one of the existing solutions. I ended up choosing Syncthing for its low resource usage and ease of setup on Android, Windows, and Debian.

Setup for three devices on three different OSes and setting up the fine grained sync patterns I wanted took all of fifteen minutes, including propagation time. Now the files for this blog travel with me wherever I go, so I should be able to post more often.


Praise Kek and Check 'em: Religion in the Age of the Internet

Posted on Sat 25 March 2017 in misc

The Internet, that great achievement of science and technology, is developing its own religion. This isn't immediately obvious to outsiders, in part because the same people most likely to believe are also the most likely to understand that Christianity is still the best moral and ethical system for the masses at large. This means that the more you see someone posting "DEUS VULT" memes, the larger the chance that they're also worshipping an Egyptian frog god.

Several other pages on the web cover the textual details of the Kekian faith well enough - the origins, the pantheon, and so on. Nobody, to my knowledge, has ever looked in to WHY the faith evolved the way it did, and how the inherent assumptions baked in to the memes and stories differ from classic Abrahamic religion that we in the West are all familiar with, even if we do not believe in the myths. I suspect this is in large part because nobody who is writing knows, and nobody who knows is willing to write, for fear of attracting more normies to the secret internet clubhouse. Well, it's now too late for that. Newfags are pouring in by the tens of thousands, and the migration pattern of the colonies is reversing as the colonies go to shit (and oh, isn't that just a perfect microcosm of the 21st century thus far). People are going to be getting ideas about the Kekian faith, mythology, and world view anyways, so they might as well get correct ones.

Judaism and Christianity choose to make a strong point out of the Temptation of Eve by placing it so early in the Torah and the Bible. Beyond the obvious "women are gullible retards who need God and a man to tell them what to think and how to act" message, there's a more basic assumption: Ignorance is paradise, and obedience brings happiness. In direct contrast to the serpent Satan offering the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil as an evil actor, Kekian symbology is heavily rooted in a scene from the 1990s science fiction movie The Matrix. A character named Morpheus, after the Greek god of dreams, offers the protagonist a choice between knowledge and responsibility on one hand, and blissful ignorance on the other. The protagonist chooses knowledge of course, but this is shown as unequivocally the right decision.

The importance of the "Take the red pill" meme to Kekian philosophy illustrates the first difference in world view between the Kekian faith and Judeo-Christian morality. Knowledge of how the world works and how to change it are not just good, but necessary. A painful truth is better than a sweet lie. This in turn stems from the fact that we live deep within the age of science. When Genesis was written, the idea of men living among the stars or harnessing the power of lightning were ludicrous, but today they're commonplace. We've placed a flag on the face of the moon itself, and today President Trump, himself a figure in the Kekian pantheon (often half-jokingly called the God-Emperor of Mankind as a riff on the Warhammer 40,000 tabletop wargame's backstory) reaffirmed our plans to go back to far orbit, to the moon, and some day to Mars and other worlds.

Every great religion needs its embodiment of evil, and the Kekian faith has been provided with ample real-world antagonists. These include: the Rothschild family, an ancient, powerful foe of non-Jewish Europeans who have their hands in very nearly every central bank in the world; George Soros, a Nazi collaborating (((billionaire))) behind everything from Black Lives Matter to anti-Trump protests to the Ukranian revolution; Hillary Clinton, an evil, cackling witch who wanted to start a nuclear war with Russia, allegedly masterminded the abduction of hundreds of Haitian children, and nearly cheated her way to the Presidency; and Rick Wilson, a clownish buffoon who has been the punching bag for Kek and his anonymous minions going back to 2015. These are accompanied by the more mystical figure of Moloch, a bull-headed demon from the pre-Judaic Middle East associated with child sacrifice, greed, lust for power, and nearly every other vice. Moloch was first discovered as an enemy of Kek when Wikileaks revealed Hillary Clinton joking(?) about sacrificing a chicken to Moloch in her back yard for luck, in an email from one of her aides, Cheryl Mills from the Podesta archive.

The battle between Trump and the forces of globalism therefore looks to followers of Kek very much like the worldly incarnation of the enternal battle for the soul of mankind, to borrow a meme from Christianity. They see Trump's increasingly improbable string of victories as evidence of time travel, strategic genius, divine favor in the form of luck (remember, Kek speaks through probabilities), or some combination thereof. This is why Trump's approval rating among people who voted for him remains so high. The West hasn't seen a secular leader so obviously channeling the will of a god in millenia, and the combination of that with an elected leader fulfilling his campaign promises is unprecedented in the entire recorded history of humanity.

Perhaps the greatest weakness of Christianity is that it never adapted a semi-benevolent trickster figure like most other major faiths had. Loki, Coyote, Kokopelli, Hermes, Set, all represented a mischevious force that injected humor into mythology without being purely evil. Blaming all mischief on the Devil led to a (somewhat justified) impression of Christianity as stuffy and stiff by the 20th century. This became an even more glaring omission starting in the 1980s with the rise of "hacker" culture. Teenagers and young men became living incarnations of the trickster meme, tweaking the nose of authority and skipping merrily away across the wires and radio waves. This has increased in both frequency and intensity up through the present day, especially in the form of 4chan and its daughter boards 7chan and 8ch.

The HWNDU saga is the best and most recent example of 4chan's trickster "troll" ethos. A distributed anonymous collective of smug autistic frog posters performed intel analysis that would make the CIA blush (and blush they should, the fucking bronies) and set up combined-arms raids on flag poles in Tennessee and Liverpool, all in the name of messing with a washed up former Disney Channel actor. Is it any wonder that the being they worship as their god is essentially a smug Pepe?


Victory

Posted on Mon 19 December 2016 in misc

Donald Trump is the President-Elect as confirmed by the Electoral College. We are now in the Mosins on Mars timeline. Thank God almighty we didn't get stuck with the crazy bitch who would have started WWIII instead.


Neighbor Discovery - Not Just for IPv6 Hosts Anymore

Posted on Sat 23 July 2016 in misc

Much is made of the decline of people doing things with their neighbors. Supposedly this means that American society has become too atomized, or that we're all too busy playing with our shiny electronic doodads to pick our heads up from the screen and enjoy the real world, or other such moral failings. That's bullshit. It sounds good, and it puts the onus on the young to live up to their elders' expectations, which has historically been a pretty good way to motivate people, but it's completely wrong. Americans are interacting with their neighbors less often as a direct result of the places in which more Americans are now living, and the jobs Americans are now working.

Human minds typically seek a balance between social behavior and time alone or with family. Back in the "good old days" of the 1960s and before, work for most Americans involved farming, factory work, hand-written office work, etc. Outside of the high-flyers and creative types like the ones you see in Mad Men, work was typically physical or mental labor, without a lot of need for socialization outside of water cooler banter. This meant that by the time they went home, relaxation and socialization were high on the list of priorities. In the country or the suburbs, kids playing outside and going between houses or into the woods was encouraged. People who lived in cities lived in neighborhoods of people that they felt they could trust, although less so after 1950. The 21st century thus far has flipped that all on its ear.

The media does play a role in the loss of neighborly interaction, but it's that of a scaremonger. Crime was decreasing monotonically from the 1960s up through the Obama administration, when the government decided it was a good idea to encourage race baiting and divisive politics. Part of this was education, part of it was the War on Drugs, and a large part of it was taking lead out of gasoline. Despite this progress, the media has made a habit of over-broadcasting the most horrific crimes nationwide, turning what is statistical background noise into the forefront of people's minds. This drives viewership, but it also makes parents less likely to let their children play outside, even though that's safer than it was back when everybody did it. It is also responsible for the childhood obesity epidemic along with child-targeted advertising and overuse of corn syrup, but that's a thought for another day.

Density of cities is inversely correlated with willingness to hang out with your neighbors. This is most extreme in Tokyo, where sardine like living conditions have produced a culture of hikkikomori who never leave their rooms, and people who will stand on trains packed as full as it is physically possible to be without saying a word to anyone else, but it is noticeable in Chicago and New York as well. Social distance is forced to make up for the lack of physical distance between people. Mexican ~~invasion of the United States~~ illegal immigration has only exacerbated the problem in American cities, since they live two or three times as densely as the number of bedrooms in an apartment would suggest, and being criminals by virtue of being here, are willing to do all sorts of unsavory things so long as "La Migra" (INS and other federal agencies charged with enforcing immigration law) don't notice them.

In the late 20th century up through the housing crash in 2008, forests and fields all over the country were plowed under and turned in to sterile, overly-designed housing developments. This had the dual effect of creating yards unoptimized for outdoor play and removing the wild spaces through which kids once ran. This was done in a grossly space inefficient way to intentionally break lines of sight between neighbors, which commanded a price premium at the time but encouraged the isolationist mentality in the homeowners. I lived in one such neighborhood when I was in high school, and of our whole sprawling complex, I only ever really knew two other families: our next door neighbors, in to whose yard our dog kept escaping, and the family of a teammate and classmate of mine a few blocks away. The iPhone did not hit mass adoption until we had left that neighborhood so I can't speak to the screen-staring bubble's impact on that particular place.

Small cities and towns still encourage neighbors getting to know each other, since there is enough physical space to encourage getting closer socially. In the less than two months I have lived in Bremerton, Washington, I have met all but one of my immediate neighbors, and even had dinner with the ones nearest to me last night. Everyone is relaxed and generally happy with the notable exception of a stereotypical shrieking soccer mom who is generally regarded as the neighborhood's Petunia Dursley. Those types are the same no matter where they live and can generally be disregarded.

So, small towns don't scale to 300 million people, and cities past a certain level of density are harmful to their inhabitants' mental and emotional health. How are we going to handle a growing population?

Spoiler alert: our population would barely be growing at all if not for the unlawful invasion by our southern neighbors. Building a border wall, deporting every single illegal alien at gunpoint if necessary, and repealing the Immigration Act of 1965 would solve density and growth problems as soon as they were fully implemented. Build Planned Parenthoods in every Hispanic urban neighborhood, classify any religion that bans contraception as a public health hazard, and vote for Donald J. Trump for President in 2016, and we can Make America Neighborly Again.


There's No Place Like Home

Posted on Mon 25 April 2016 in misc

view from the ferry

It is a beautiful sunny day in Puget Sound. After three and a half years of work in Chicago, I have finally returned to the place where I belong. It's not official yet, but I'm taking the ferry across the sound to look for a new place to rent, so hopefully by the end of the week I will have begun the moving process in earnest.

Ironically enough I stayed at the Green Tortoise again last night. It was so handy having a cheap, familiar bunk to crash in after a long travel day. They finally retired the old G4 iMac in the lobby and rearranged some of the furniture, but other than that it was like stepping back in time.

My friend and colleague in my intended new town is giving me a hand, and I can telecommute from anywhere with decent wireline internet, or even anywhere with an uncrowded LTE tower in a pinch. This is so much nicer and smoother than my last attempt to move out here.


Can't Fool the Mule

Posted on Sat 19 March 2016 in misc

An Explanation of the Trump Phenomenon to Asimov Fans

Many of you are probably wondering how Donald Trump is so successful as a Presidential candidate. You might also be wondering how it is that the left and the right wings of the establishment, supposedly mortal enemies in this oh so polarized age of American politics, are saying the exact same things in the exact same way to attack him. Others might be gleefully watching his meteoric rise, but wondering how he's pulling it off. Scott Adams has done a good job of analyzing Trump's rhetorical tactics, but is intentionally silent on the larger strategic and ideological goals of Trump's candidacy. Wonder no longer, because Isaac Asimov called this shot over 60 years ago, in the Foundation series of novels. Major series spoilers follow, so DO NOT READ this post if you haven't read at least the first three books of Foundation and still want to be surprised.

smug donald trump image macro

The Foundation series takes place in the far distant future, when mankind has colonized the galaxy so thoroughly that we've forgotten our origins, including the name and location of Earth itself. The series begins in the dying days of a Galactic Empire, with a capital city that covers an entire planet. If this sounds familiar, it should - Foundation was one of the main inspirations for Star Wars, along with old samurai stories. Scientists of the Empire had discovered "psychohistory", a way of using statistical models of human behavior to predict the greater shape of history increasingly accurately as the target population increased. With an entire galaxy to work with, the founder of psychohistory determined beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Empire was going to fall, and that a dark age would follow. Without intervention, this dark age would last thirty thousand years (y helo thar warhammer), but with a little guidance and the intentional preservation of knowledge in an isolated outpost at the edge of the galaxy (similar to the way Irish monks preserved the works of Greece and Rome in the Dark Ages), the dark age could be shortened to a single millenium and lead to an enlightened, reunified galaxy. This is very similar to the popular opinion in the early 20th century that Western Civilization was inevitably headed towards destruction and doom. World War I annihilated most of a generation of European men, disproportionately including the aristocracy's heirs as unit commanders, and left the world shaken up about the horrors of modern science and technology. After a brief reprieve thanks to the economic boom of the 1920s (at least in the US and western Europe), World War II took that fear and horror and shattered the scale, most especially with the use of nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then the Soviets got the Bomb in 1948 and everyone started to earnestly believe they were seeing the last days before the apocalypse. Certain shadowy groups, including an admitted former Nazi-collaborating Jew named George Soros, began their own plan to preserve the old order.

In the Foundation series, everything went according to the psychohistorians' plan for the first few hundred years. The Foundation worked diligently at bringing benevolent nuclear powered space capitalism to the barbarians in the rest of the galaxy (50s overload!), and the recorded messages from the psychohistorians remained accurate enough that the people began to regard them as close to messages from a god. Then, one year, things started to change. The messages no longer matched up with reality. They predicted local political shifts that never happened, and failed to mention the military juggernaut that was sweeping the galaxy, bending all before it. Enter the Mule.

The Mule was a one in a sextillion freak of nature, a human with powers to directly manipulate the very minds of those around him. There was no possible way to account for him in the psychohistorical models that had guided the Foundation. Every one of their traditional tactics backfired, and he kept on gaining power. Old allies were subverted to his cause, and he cost the Foundation several attempts at expanding their own power that had been planned for decades.

Is this starting to sound familiar?

I'm not claiming that Donald Trump has psychic powers. I merely think, like Scott Adams, that he's a brilliant persuader, that reaches people on a deeper level than merely rational politics can ever hope to do. In processor terms rationality is out on ring-3 with regular application code, and Trump basically has ring-0 kernel access and is overriding messages that have been built up for years. This is stumping the hell out of the closest thing we have to a political psychohistorian, Nate Silver, and he's literally losing his hair in stress, rage, and confusion. Adams's blog covers the tactics brilliantly, so I won't rehash them. The deeper question is why he's doing this, and his strategic goals.

As you can see in this interview with Oprah from 1988, Trump's basic positions, opinions, and policy ideas haven't changed in almost thirty years, merely been refined and extended as new data emerges. This isn't an act, or a joke, or a publicity stunt. This is what he honestly believes, and he's running because he thinks he can do a better job than our current leaders. The media calls that arrogance or bravado. We used to call it patriotism. He's doing it out of love of country and contempt for its current leadership. He's going to succeed because he avoided replicating the Mule's fatal error.

In the Foundation series, the Mule was eventually defeated through a combination of subterfuge, womanly wiles, and the assistance of the secret Second Foundation, the group that studied sciences of the mind instead of the external physical world. Unlike the primary, or First, Foundation, the Second Foundation was never publicly acknowledged. It stayed hidden, anonymous and quiet, in the ruins of the physical power of the old Empire. Their primary means of projecting power over the galaxy was introduction of self-propagating ideas that could guarantee a movement's success, or doom it to failure. In modern terms, memetics.

Scott Adams has spoken of Trump's ability to perform a "linguistic kill shot" on his opponents. This is what a memetic weapon looks like. You jam an idea about yourself or your opponents so far into the collective unconscious that people begin repeating it independently who have never heard it directly from you, or from anyone who did hear it directly from you. Trump is a brilliant practitioner of memetic warfare himself, but he has also formed an alliance with the modern masters of the art as it exists on the Internet. For proof of their abilities, look at the New York Times article on the term "cuckservative." The Fourth Estate has been hijacked by a smug green frog, and it feels good, man.

In the Foundation series, the heroes of the First and Second Foundations defeat the Mule, and happily continue their crusade to reshape the galaxy in their own image. In reality, the forces trying to reshape the world order are doing so for personal profit. They believe that national borders, national sovereignty, and local cultures are mere speedbumps on the way to a utopian world like Star Trek, or maybe just better balance sheets. Their path is the path to a corporatized dystopia like we've seen in cyberpunk fiction since the 1980s. They are exhorting their puppets in the media, and politicians on both the left and right, to do anything to Stump the Trump. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for the rest of us, they didn't count on facing fellow masters of memetic warfare on this battlefield. The combination of live, unedited coverage of the things Donald Trump is actually saying, and memetic techniques to uplift his image while ridiculing his opponents, are breaking the stranglehold of print and broadcast media over the election cycle narrative. Every lie or misinterpretation promulgated by the media is rebutted near instantly, and just makes Trump's poll numbers go up. Protests funded by George Soros via MoveOn.org, candidates he's funded (Hillary and Kasich), and even emergency rewrites of RNC convention rules are all being deployed in an effort to keep the man with no strings attached out of the White House.

It's not working.

You can see the desperation leaking out. Gawker recently released an "article" that consisted of the author begging anyone to give him information that might help him stump Trump. FOX News's Megyn Kelly has aged approximately a decade since she first attacked Trump last fall. Over $100 million has been poured into attack ads, SuperPACs, and every dirty trick in the political establishment's playbook, to no avail. Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio have not just withdrawn from the race, they are permanently done in US politics. The Bush legacy has been irreparably tarnished - under no other conditions would a Republican primary debate crowd in South Carolina applaud tearing down W's handling of 9/11 and Iraq. MSNBC's blatant race baiting attempts backfired so badly that the anchor almost cried on live TV. A Soros-funded ~~riot~~ "peaceful protest" of a Trump rally in Chicago handed over 40% of the Illinois vote to Trump on a silver platter. Perhaps the dumbasses shouldn't have been waving Soviet, Mexican, and gay-rainbow flags in front of a Nationalist candidate's supporters.

Just today, more Soros-funded protesters blocked a highway through the Arizona desert to prevent people from getting to a Trump rally, going so far as to chain themselves to vehicles to prevent the police from easily removed again. In so doing, they solidified people's support for Trump enough to walk three miles through the Sonoran Desert near high noon to hear him speak. More protests were planned in New York City, but the NYPD did their jobs admirably and prevented them from causing too much of a disruption. This is going to hand the Arizona and New York Republican primaries to Trump in a blowout, earning him over a hundred candidates out of that magic 1237. It might even flip Cruz's "safe state" of Utah.

So, where does this leave the analogy of the Mule and Donald Trump? The Mule lost because he had to. He was the villain, and the power of memetics was turned against him. Trump is the hero of his own story and has the power that defeated the Mule in his own corner. Donald Trump is going to be the 45th President of the United States barring an assassination, and I have faith that the US Secret Service will do their jobs and prevent that.

You Can't Stump the Trump.


Navigating the tar(1) Pit on an R710

Posted on Tue 15 March 2016 in misc

In honor of Pi Day, I've decided to do something completely irrational: use my Dell R710's tape drive for backups of SmartOS's ZFS datasets. The Dell RD1000 is a bit of a weird beast - it's an internal tape drive that presents as a SATA USB disk. I can only assume this tortured firmware kabuki is an attempt to make it easier for Windows admins to do tape backups, lacking Unix's proper tape handling tools like tar and mt, while making it more complicated for Unix users. This is a running theme with Dell servers.

SmartOS in particular is a pain in the behind to get working with the RD1000 because half of the usual Solaris/Illumos tools are missing and the other half don't always match the Solaris documentation. Here's a walkthrough. All commands must be run from the Global Zone as root.

  1. Identify the RD1000 with diskinfo

  2. Wipe the disk by running format -e, selecting the RD1000 from the list, and typing format at the prompt.


Laptops and Licenses

Posted on Thu 28 January 2016 in misc

Today has been a most satisfyingly productive day. I tested how well Haiku OS runs on a tiny 16GB USB drive that barely sticks out of the port on my Thinkpad T530 (spoiler alert: it works fucking GREAT), and used it as a developer workstation for porting unix applications to Haiku. I got complete, 100% working ports of the Mutt mail client and OfflineIMAP method of retrieving IMAP as Unix Maildir. Along with the excellent terminal emulator, decent hardware support, package of TeX Live, and surprisingly OK browser, I can now use Haiku OS as a quiet little operating system for writing, blogging, and sysadmin work. The attractive UI and insane boot times - faster from USB 2.0 than some OSes boot from an SSD on equivalent hardware - certainly don't hurt either.

I also got fairly close to porting C-Kermit, although that's more of a personal challenge to prove I can wrestle the 35+ year old codebase with at least 200 possible combinations of conditional compilation. God, what a fucking mess it is. It's the exact sort of insane makefile-target and #ifdef fuckery that GNU Autotools was designed to avoid, only that's not an option because some of the target systems never GOT an Autotools port, because they haven't been actively developed for at ALL since the 1970s. Haiku's sort-of-but-not-quite-FreeBSD headers and libraries for porting Unix applications make finding the right set of CFLAG definitions extra challenging. Oy. OpenSSH, telnet, and SerialConnect all do the actual work of communicating with remote systems I'd need out of C-Kermit, which means I'm not in a huge rush even by the standards of my Haiku usage. I can get it to do most things except connect to a system over SSH so far.

That was all before I put pants on this morning.

Later on I finally bumped into limitations of what Haiku can do, so I booted back into Linux to retrieve some documentation from the byzantine depths of a utility company's website. Between that and locating my birth certificate I finally have the rest of the documentation I need to renew my driver's license, hence the other half of the post title. Working with computers all day really reminds you of how slow and unwieldy government can be... but that's preferable to them becoming too efficient at doing things you don't like before you have a chance to stop it.

Oh well, at least my desktop looks pretty as hell now.

image found on 4chan, no idea of original source