January 17, 2016

Season to taste

OreIda makes bags of Tater Tots, and I buy them. Half a bag makes a good dinner. You pour them onto a cookie sheet, put them into a preheated oven and bake for 19 minutes and then, according to the bag, "season to taste".

Which means put salt on them, but they can't say that. Potatoes without salt taste like library paste and everyone uses salt on them. Except certain bureaucrats in Washington who create dietary recommendations for the peasants, which recommendations I stopped paying attention to a long time ago. Because it became clear to me that it was food faddism, not science. And now everyone can tell, because in the last few years the official recommended diet has changed quite a lot.

Butter is back on the OK list. So are eggs. Studies have finally shown that cholesterol isn't a synonym for cyanide. And after decades of saying "Reduce dietary fat; eat carbs instead" because they thought all of us were too fat, now it's been revealed that it's carbs that do that, not fat.

But still it goes on. The NYC commission, who have nothing else important to work on since NYC is an ideal city with no problems, no crime, and no other issues, anyway the commission considered a city regulation forbidding anyone in the city from putting salt in their food before sale.

Among other problems, a bunch of bakers went to the commission to inform them that you cannot make bread without salt because the yeast won't rise. Details, details... (I don't think they passed that regulation, in the end. Anyway, all it would have done is force all those companies to move their factories and bakeries to Hoboken.)

My zoology prof in college talked to us about salt one time. This was about 1974, before things got crazy, but he mentioned that when our salt levels get low we really crave salt and our food won't taste right unless we put a lot more salt on than we usually would. (This is most common in hot weather when you've been sweating.) Different people have different desires for salt at different times, which is why restaurants put salt shakers on the tables. They tend to undersalt the food and rely on the customers to adjust "to taste".

But the food freaks think they know everything (despite proof from experience that they're idiots) and the latest fad is food with no salt in it, proudly blazed on the label. John Kovalic did a nice job on that with his comic "CTRL SALT DEL".

That happened to me one time. I wasn't paying attention to the labels and I bought a jar of peanut butter with no salt added. One taste and I knew my mistake. I ended up having to add a LOT of salt to it to get it to taste like anything. It took me three tries, adding more salt each time and then stirring the jar up, to get it to taste right.

It's one more aspect of the encroaching nanny state, and I say this: you will take my salt shaker away from me when you pry it out of my cold dead fingers.

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January 08, 2016

Tales of rank idiocy

A man named Archer bushwacked a police car in Philadelphia yesterday and fired 13 shots at the cop named Hartnett from point blank range, hitting him 3 times. (Which is really shitty shooting.)

The gun he used had previously been stolen from a policeman. (That's all we know about it, but obviously there are many important questions remaining.)

After calling for help and despite his wounds, Officer Hartnett gave chase and shot Archer, with much better aim. Hartnett's wound were serious but not life threatening, which is a blessing. Archer's wounds were much more serious but also don't appear to be life threatening, which maybe isn't a blessing.

Archer readily confessed to the shooting and claimed that he did it for Islam, on behalf of ISIS.

All of which is sufficiently idiotic, but here's where it gets really maddening.

Mayor Jim Kenney announced that the shooting wasn't motivated by Islam, despite the fact that Archer himself said it was.

I think it's time to retire the phrase "Islam is a religion of peace." I always found that supremely annoying and it hasn't aged well. Back in 2001 it sounded like naivety, but now it sounds like a Big Lie, one that the speaker himself doesn't believe but which he hopes will convince stupid people like us if only they repeat it often enough.

I've always thought it extremely presumptuous for outsiders to explain to people who follow any religion how their religion actually demands that they behave, or for outsiders to try to claim things about that religion that its adherents don't agree with. Lefties do this all the time with Christianity, and though I'm not a Christian I find it really annoying.

But people like Kenney claiming Islam is a religion of peace is even worse. It's not that they expect to influence Muslims with that drivel.

The worst fear of Our Betters is that all of us redneck knuckle draggers will rise up mob-like and start attacking Muslims, burning their places of worship and throwing rocks through the windows of Halal butcher shops and so on.

This is the nightmare for Our Betters, the one thing which must be avoided at all costs. Nothing else is as important -- like protecting the majority from random attacks. That one is well down the charts.

So every time there's an attack like this by someone who is clearly motivated by jihad, whether a lone crackpot or part of an organized force, they always announce that it had nothing to do with Islam. Kenney thinks he knows more about what motivated Archer than Archer himself, and has told us so. Archer claims he shot the policeman for the greater glory of Islam, but Kenney says that wasn't the real reason.

Just thinking about Mayor Kenney is making me feel like screaming.

Folks, it's crap like this which is driving people into Trump's arms. He may be strange; he may even be lying about what he intends. But he's the only high-profile politician who is saying what so many people are thinking. He refuses to play by the unwritten rules of Political Correctness, and every time he says something which sends lefties to their fainting couches, his ratings in the polls rise again. American voters have had it will the Prevailing Wisdom and they're looking for someone, even someone as flamboyant as The Donald, who will acknowledge these things.

I have no idea who will win the 2016 presidential election, let alone who will be the candidates. But if Trump wins either, this will be the reason why. Americans are tired of being talked down to and lied to.

There are peaceful Muslims. Millions of them. But there are also very violent Muslims, and that isn't coincidence.

First rule: The vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists.
Second rule: The vast majority of terrorists are Muslims.

Let's stop pretending otherwise.

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December 18, 2015

Grumble grumble

One of my biggest beefs with Starbucks is that they have taught everyone that the proper way to roast coffee is to stop just before it catches fire. Everything is over-roasted these days. I've been trying different brands of coffee trying to find one that isn't roasted too much, and I just found one. The Safeway house brand "breakfast blend" actually tastes like coffee, not like charcoal.

Why in hell does everyone seem to want me to create an account and log in? UPS just changed their web site so that you can't see when your package is expected to be delivered unless you log in first. Why in hell do I need to log in for that? I didn't used to.

There are a lot of reasons why I resent HorribleSubs, but maybe the biggest is the way they say, "This is brought to you by the HorribleSubs fansubbing team". Horseshit! Maybe there's a team, but the subbing is being done by Crunchyroll and Funimation. I wish they'd be more honest about what they're doing -- or perhaps "less dishonest" would be more to the point. I guess there has to be a team, because there's no damned way a single person could do all the stuff they do. But they don't sub anything.

Maybe I'll go take a nap.

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November 06, 2015


I have never been tempted to vandalize my body that way. (Of course, I've never vandalized anything else, either.)

But of course, one of the reasons each generation has strange fashions is in order to scandalize the prior generation, which is one of the reasons I had long hair when I was in my 20's. (Also, because it was strawberry blonde and looked really good.)

So in keeping with that principle, I'm always a bit scandalized when I see a tattoo on a pretty girl, like this one:



This one is particularly annoying because it doesn't mean anything. Bad enough that she's vandalizing herself, but she's doing it with nonsense. It's not proper Japanese, and I think it doesn't mean anything in Chinese either.

As best I can tell it's this:


Which isn't a proper word or sentence in Japanese.

无 is pronounced mu and means "nothing, naught".

使 is pronounced tsuka and it means "use" but it never appears in Japanese without a hiragana ending. (Such as 使い tsukai which means "user" among many other things.)

So if 无使 means anything at all, it would be "useless". Why would someone want that on their skin?

grumble dumb kids grumble

UPDATE: They say a sure sign that you're getting old is when you begin to obsess about the moral failings of the younger generation, and I passed that particular hurdle a long time ago.

UPDATE: I read the first kanji wrong. See comments.

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August 31, 2015

Grumble rassafratzin

Erin McClam, NBC News:

The Texas sheriff's deputy who was killed at a gas station was shot 15 times by a gunman who unloaded his entire clip, a prosecutor said Monday as the suspect appeared in court for the first time.

Dear Erin,

Repeat after me: magazine, not clip. magazine, not clip. magazine, not clip.


UPDATE: I don't think anyone has ever made a 14-round clip, and anyway you'd have to go all the way back to something like the Broomhandle Mauser to find a handgun which was loaded with a clip. (Which held 10 rounds, so maybe a 14-round clip isn't so far fetched.)

Anyway, lots of magazines are even larger than that, up to and including drum magazines carrying 100 rounds.

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August 17, 2015

Stupid series naming conventions

These things come and go; there was a period in which series names were essentially nonsense, completely meaningless. There was a period when lots of series had English names.

And recently we've seen a trend towards series having ridiculously long names.

But the worst recent trend has been using increases in punctuation for sequels. Two examples spring immediately to mind: Dog Days, Dog Days', Dog Days'' and Working!, Working!!, Working!!!

I suppose with 50 or more new series each year, and a history going back to the 1980's, it's a bit hard to come up with something new, and fads never make sense anyway looking back at them, and often not even when you look at them contemporaneously. But it's still annoying. Grumble.

The biggest problem with this one is how you pronounce the names in order to differentiate them, which is why "Dog Days Dash" and "Dog Days Double-Dash" even though it's an apostrophe (') and not a dash (-). Me, I use "S2" and "S3".

UPDATE: I just looked it up, and ANN says it's Working!!, Working!!2, and Working!!3. That's a bit better, even if a bit unimaginative.

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June 02, 2015

Fang mail

I stopped posting to USS Clueless 11 years ago.

But occasionally people link to old posts of mine, like just happened last week when Ace did it.

And every once in a while I get fan mail, or perhaps "fang mail" would be more accurate: "This was a really neat post, but you should change it because it didn't include something I think is important."

RE this particular post, I think there is a tendency to oversimplify the idea you are presenting. It is often presented as "you need to be willing to do back to your enemy whatever your enemy is willing to do to you." I don't think game theory requires such literal Tit for Tat. It merely requires significant consequences for breaking the rules. For example, a credible threat to use Nuclear weapons if Biological weapons are deployed, would satisfy the significant consequences argument of game theory, without requiring a country to maintain stocks of Biological weapons or an open threat of Biological MAD. I think this is important, since it allows for some modifications of the Tit for Tat scenarios that avoid the danger of "turning into your enemy" in order to defeat him. You do not have to match an enemy brutality for brutality, as long as there exists some other way to punish the enemy for violations that has equal significance to him.

You don't actually get into this part of the question, but I think this might be a worthwhile update to consider to the post, since people are still reading it and it has been referenced by others as saying something to that effect.

I can't change it. Frustratingly, that server ("regulus") is sitting on my computer desk within arm's reach, but a couple of years ago Microsoft issued a Win 7 security update and now I can't access it either with telnet or with FTP. (It also fouled up my ability to access my WHS, "Deneb".) So I'm not capable of making any changes on it any more.

Even if I were inclined to do so, which I'm not. Dammit, I wrote that post in 2002! Let it rest, already! USS Clueless wasn't a series of academic papers, it was a fucking blog.

(I do have to admit that I get three of four letters a year from people who thank me for doing USS Clueless and who don't try to convince me to rewrite parts of it. And I am grateful.)

UPDATE: Besides which, I did write what he's saying, in a different post.

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May 15, 2015

Grumble roundhouse kicks


In anime when someone who is an expert at karate does a roundhouse kick, they always, always, do it open-foot.

Which is stupid. That's not how it's done. My sensei taught us to fold our foot up and strike with the ball of the foot, just below the toes. This concentrates the force in a small area and doesn't risk your ankle.

If you kick open-foot, like in the picture above, you're going to break your ankle. You're also spreading the force over a much larger area so it is less effective.

You'd think that someone in the anime industry would go find some karate magazines to see what proper form looks like, wouldn't you?

(And while I'm at it, when you're defending against a punch or kick, you don't try to stop it. Instead, you deflect it. Putting your forearm up and taking a kick there is a good way to break your arm. Plus, deflecting the blow puts your enemy off balance and makes him vulnerable for a counter-strike.)


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March 16, 2015

F1 Melbourne 2015

I still can't comment over at Wonderduck's Pond, and I wanted to make some comments about the F1 season opener.

There were supposed to be 20 cars on the circuit. One team couldn't even get its cars to run; they didn't even try to qualify. One of the McLaren cars didn't reach the starting line on race day; its engine exploded.

And there were other misevents, and when all was said and done, the two cars from Mercedes finished 1-2, only about 2 seconds apart. Third place was fully 30 seconds behind that.

Only 11 cars finished the race. Which means every car but one got points. The one that didn't was the other McLaren, which apparently is using a 2-stroke lawn mower engine as its powerplant.

Mercedes performed the way they should. They did what they were supposed to do. Everyone else needs to go back and finish clown school. If the season continues like this, then this year will go down as the worst in F1 history.

They may as well toss a coin right now between Rosberg and Hamilton, award the winner the driver's championship, award the constructor championship to Mercedes, and call the whole season off. That'll give everyone enough time to design cars that work for 2016.

What's the problem? It's the assumption that they Must Have 10 Teams And 20 Cars every year. What this race proved is that it can't always be done. There are three teams which shouldn't even be participating this year, for one thing.

At the beginning of the season, before the first race day, there ought to be a season qualifier, where each team has to prove their cars can run 80 laps on some track, somewhere, at a reasonable speed. If they can't, they don't get to participate that year. If that means only 14 cars, so be it. If it only means 8 cars, such is life. At least you'll get a race season that isn't a gross embarassment.

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October 08, 2014

Thomas Duncan dies

I have very mixed feelings about this.

On one hand, it's natural to feel sorry for the guy, since he died horribly. But on another level I'm having a difficult time suppressing feelings of hatred for him.

He knew he was infected with Ebola when he came to the US. He did it because he thought he might get better medical care here, and maybe have a better chance of surviving.

So, in hopes that he himself would survive he decided to risk 300 million Americans getting the same disease, including the family members he was visiting.

No one wants to die, but risking others without their permission or knowledge to save yourself is wrong, evil, hideous, monstrous.

And it didn't save him. He died anyway, but because of him who knows how many Americans might now die?

UPDATE: Potentially or actually sacrificing others to save yourself is cowardice. Heroism is to sacrifice yourself to save others, like this guy. Him I'll mourn. But not Thomas Duncan; he doesn't deserve it.

UPDATE: Brickmuppet is less vindictive than I am.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Rants at 10:26 AM | Comments (3) | Add Comment
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