My Pi 4 and a question

I learned of Raspberry Pi for the first time from John Walker a few weeks ago, with his announcement of the debut of Pi 4. As they are in great demand, it took nearly 2 weeks to get a hold of one with 4Gb RAM. I recall John advising to always get as much RAM as possible – I did so.... [Read More]

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Migration from Mac to Chromebook. How to?

Being parsimonious, I can’t see spending $1000 every 4 or 5 years (if I’m lucky) for new MacBook Airs for both my wife and for me. We use them for simple things. She: email, crossword puzzles, sudoku, jigsaw puzzles. Me: email, Ratburger, vast right-wing conspiracy perusal, word processing, household management via more websites than I can count (banks, utilities, memberships, Amazon, education, etc.) each with unknowable login credentials (which are now all different for obvious security reasons).

To help manage this, beyond Safari Keychain, I recently bought 1Password. Bottom line: I want to migrate all my user-created materials and login credentials to a new platform(s), either a new Chromebook and/or a soon-to-be shipped Raspberry Pi 4 (I am excited by the prospect of finally learning some programming and one of the Linux-based operating systems. Thanks to John, I am particularly curious about Ubuntu. As well, since I have a new iPhone Xr with face recognition, I am feeling more comfortable doing more of the above online tasks on this device. Until now, I have been loathe to put my credentials on a mobile phone.... [Read More]

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Russia Radioactive Again?

According to our news media, Russia has been radioactive since at least the Trump inauguration, if not Chernobyl. Today, a scintillating story has broken, telling of released radiation following explosion of an experimental engine using “radioisotopes and liquid propellant.” The engine is speculated to be related to Russia’s development of a hypersonic missile.

The “radioisotopes” got my attention. Radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTG‘s) have been around for quite some time and used to power  niche items like isolated lighthouses and spacecraft. They use heat resulting from the known and predictable decay of various radioactive heavy elements to produce electricity.... [Read More]

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“The Nurse Will See You Now” (but you won’t know it’s a nurse!) – Internecine Warfare in Anesthesia

 

Introductory note on language: In the US, an anesthesiologist is a physician, an M.D. with 4 or more years specialty training in the field after completion of medical school; with rare exceptions, all are board certified by rigorous examination by the American Board of Anesthesiology. An anesthetist is a nurse, a C.R.N.A. (certified registered nurse anesthetist). New graduates have a BSN (bachelor of science nursing and a MSN (master of science nursing); a total of six years of schooling plus one year working in ICU,  for a total of 7 years. A significant number still practicing have neither degree, but are ‘grandfathered’ under the less rigorous former standard. Not so in the United Kingdom, where ‘anaesthetist’ generically  describes whoever is administering ‘anaesthesia.’ Until recently, as far as I know, anesthesia was administered only by physicians in the UK, but the “anesthesia care team” (more below, and likely the best) model has been introduced and is growing in prevalence in order to extend physician manpower.... [Read More]

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Mortal Lessons Taught by a Baby Bunny

Tuesday, 5 long days ago, our grandson found a baby bunny in the front yard. One of its tiny bunny ears had been torn and bloodied. Since their lives are very busy, our grandson’s mom (our daughter) & dad brought the baby to us to nurse. It was about 3 days old (and weighed about 60 grams), as best we could learn from frantic internet searches on how we might keep it alive. As the poor, adorable creature breathed its last (having spent most of this afternoon cupped in my hands for warmth), amid the hottest tears I have shed in many years, I am simultaneously grateful for this mortal lesson and wishing my grandson had never found it. We have alternated in referring to it as him and her; he and she. All that mattered was its life.

My wife had been feeding it heavy cream through an eye dropper. We have kept it swaddled in hand towels in a shoe box kept warm with a microwaved bag of rice in the bottom. For the first three days, it seemed to eat well and move around actively. Since yesterday, though, it became listless, fed poorly, and became very jumpy when touched. My wife sensed it would not survive and today has been a steady downhill course; I could almost see the life draining out of this lovable, fragile and oh-so-vulnerable tentatively- living thing, whose desire to live was so apparent as to demand our full attention for 5 days on end. This experience may cure my terminal cynicism. I am more acutely and explicitly aware of the preciousness of life than maybe I have ever been.... [Read More]

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Privacy and Chromebook: an Oxymoron?

My wife  uses my hand-me-down Macbook Air (mid 2013), which she received when I bought my new(er) Macbook Air in early 2015 (wow, that went fast!). Hers is getting a bit quirky running updated OS, and the trackpad has been erratic responding to clicks since forever. So, we are near the point that a new laptop will be needed. She uses it exclusively for web browsing – no word processing or spreadsheet or anything. Maybe stores some photos downloaded from her cell phone. Hasn’t used even half the 120GB flash storage.

Being my frugal self, I can’t see spending $1000 (plus the 7% Commonwealth of PA extortion for the privilege of purchasing it online from another state/country) for a new one – 90% of the use is for online solitaire or jigsaw puzzles, with the occasional email or web search. So, I investigated Chromebooks, and found a reconditioned Acer Chromebook 14 with 32GMB flash storage, 4GB RAM, and a 14 inch full HD 1080 IPS screen for $155 shipping included! It arrived and I have been exploring it now for about a week.... [Read More]

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Lessons Across Generations: My Father, Nostalgia and Old Movies

I have just finished reading an historical novel called The Weight of Ink, by Rachel Kadish. It is an imaginative and beautifully-written story full of lessons in human nature, framed by juxtaposition of events in the small Jewish community of London beginning in the year 1657 with those of a pair of historians in the same city in the year 2000. Writings of a Hebrew scribe in the former period are discovered and analyzed by two historians in the latter. The tale oscillates between events as they happen in the 17th century and reading of them in the 21st. Much of human foibles and nobility are compellingly on display in this saltation between these eras. I will endeavor to review this superb book at a later date. For now, it serves as a catalyst of my recalling a troubling – but ultimately meaningful – encounter with my father, which occurred about 25 years ago; 15 years before his death at age 90 in 2010. It is noteworthy that the name Kadish is (depending upon one’s preferred transliteration) is reminiscent of “Kaddish,” a Jewish mourning prayer traditionally repeated daily for 11 months and then annually on the anniversary of a parent’s death.

My father was born in 1920 of Jewish immigrants who had fled life-threatening persecution in Ukraine. He was an aggressive man of many overcompensated insecurities. In particular, he often recited episodes of near-destitution during the depression. As a kid, in addition to being Jewish, he told of being overweight and the target of frequent bullying. In retrospect, I understand his concept of child-rearing as having been informed by a goal of “toughening me up,” in an attempt to spare me the suffering of his childhood. Such absence of inter-familial boundaries, I think, was typical of parents of his origin and generation. My mother’s rendition of this principle could be heard in the following imperative: “I feel cold. You go put on a sweater.” The emotional terrain of much of my childhood was thus frequently a dilemma – a choice between threats of abandonment (if you don’t do as I say, I will have nothing to do with you ever again) or enmeshment (you must remain a mere extension of me, an appendage – allow me to control your every act and thought). As a therapist once put it, “Your family sure put the ‘fun’ in dys-fun-ctional!” Nonetheless, I eventually worked though most of these challenges to personal growth and stopped blaming my parents for my problems. I only regret that it took me nearly 50 years to do it.... [Read More]

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How Liberty Dies – 21st Century Version

If polls are correct, the Swiss, who were once as liberty-minded as Americans were (past tense), are about to vote themselves a step closer to tyranny. They will vote, apparently, Sunday to kow-tow (cow-tow?) to the EU’s demand that, in order to retain certain touted economic benefits of the Schengen bilateral agreement, Switzerland must gut its existing gun laws so as to conform with those of the EU. It seems a thoroughly modern rendition of lèse-majesté perpetrated by an un-elected elite. That the Swiss would meekly go along would have been unthinkable not long ago.

All so-called media reports cite how the EU tightened its gun laws following the 2015 (Islamist is omitted) mass murders in Paris – “perpetrated by gunfire.” End of analysis. No matter that the fully-automatic guns used were already illegal everywhere; that they were illegally obtained outside the EU and illegally imported. The ready knee-jerk answer of EU unelected bureaucrats: disarm the general public so as to be absolutely certain their citizens can never even think of defending themselves! (against an unassimilable mass of individuals hostile to the host culture – intentionally imported by these same elites). So the venerable Swiss, threatened with some overstated economic penalties, are apparently about vote to surrender a right their ancestors fought and died to bequeath them. This seems to be the pattern by which liberty withers and fractional slavery encroaches upon the inhabitants of Western modernity. To my way of thinking, individuals who hand over more than half their earnings to government are fractional slaves. We can disagree as to the precise fraction.... [Read More]

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Incessantly-jumping Web Pages

Am I the only one being driven to near-distraction by the fact that most web pages never seem to quit loading and even when (I think) they have finished loading, they continue to intermittently jump up or down? It seems bits of content are added, deleted or moved non-stop on many pages I visit. I have begun to flinch, curse or just quit the page following extreme frustration. I get this recurring wish that my that screen (like the windows in some public transports with a sign “In Case of Emergency – BREAK GLASS.”) had a hammer affixed for emergency exit. It is that frustrating.

Are others suffering this phenomenon? Is it dependent on platform/OS/browser (I use MacOS, Safari)?... [Read More]

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Septuagenarian Reflections: Acquiring a Missing Sense of Awe

As an inquisitive child, I remember asking my grandparents about their lives – what it was like when they were young, particularly before they emigrated from Ukraine/Poland to the US. All were Jews who fled ever-present danger; unlike rules for game animals, you see, it was always ‘open season’ on Jews back then (is it my imagination, or is that happening again?). My paternal grandmother, Lara, came here at a very young age with no memories of the old country. What she did have – and did not reveal until very near the end of her life – was the knowledge that her seven older brothers all had been murdered by Cossacks around the turn of the 20th century. As history unfolded, this could be classified as merely a warm-up for Babi Yar and who knows how many other unrecorded similar atrocities..

My paternal grandfather, Abraham (né Avram) told me how, as a child, he used to help his father deliver grain in burlap sacks to Kiev on a horse-drawn cart. Part of the payment they received for their farm produce consisted of the emptied burlap sacks in which grain had been delivered – from which his mother made clothing. I, from the comfort of America in the 1950’s, remember thinking how different my grandfather’s childhood world was from the one he presently inhabited (a nice apartment in Newark, New Jersey) as he told me this story. I remember imagining that he must have had to make remarkable adjustments to life which had changed so radically (even though much for the better in most ways). This insight into the course of my grandfather’s life was unusual for me, given what I now realize about my young self. It turned out to be a harbinger of the “adjustments” that were in store for me in the course of my own life…... [Read More]

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VDH Deconstructs Intersectional Radicalism

It is not uncommon that Victor Davis Hanson offers understanding of our times like no other. Rather than try to summarize, I will simply quote:

In such a revolutionary scramble to be the most diverse and hard left, the logical trajectory ends up with a race to transcend the physical limits of victimhood. Think of the devolution of French anti-monarchists to republicans to Girondists to Jacobins—and on to Napoleon. Or remember how the anti-Czarists aristocrats were overwhelmed by Mensheviks who were crushed by the Bolsheviks as Lenin radicalized everything prior and in the end his Soviet became Stalinized.... [Read More]

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Contingent Democracy

If the definitive history of democracy is ever written (and, lest I misperceive the trajectory of the world, that is a big ‘if,’ though Democracy: the God That Failed by Hans-Hermann Hoppe may qualify) – and it is in the manner in which history inevitably oversimplifies – it may well record that the final curtain on popular sovereignty came down by means of criminalization of political differences. Note the parallels between the leaders of the US and Israel. Is anyone surprised that both prosecutions are rooted in leftism? Now, most every bedrock foundation on which our representative republic once rested has already been demolished, but this particular strategy – making majority rule contingent on the leftist-ruled swamp NOT manufacturing and prosecuting supposed crimes of the opposition leader – is pretty easy to identify as “the end.”

I don’t know for a fact that the law in Israel is like that in the US in this particular regard (see Three Felonies a Day by Harvey Silverglate), but in this country anyone who is investigated can be charged, bankrupted,  and/or convicted of having done something. Law this pervasive literally invites political prosecutions and this state of affairs, I think, evidences the convergent evolution of leftist totalitarian systems – the ability to charge anyone with wrongdoing (or being crazy) based upon nothing more than expressing non-conforming political views. American life has obviously become subject to “…a multitude of New Offices, and… swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.” Once threatened by King George III, however, the “New Offices” have been created and, like a lethal cancer, metastasized under the supposedly-legitimate authority of the three branches of government originally designed to protect us, “structurally” from precisely what has happened through the eternal statist denizens of all three branches. The only real structural protection, it turns out, is in the form of torches and pitchforks.... [Read More]

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Brief Reflection on New Year’s Day 2019

The ability to shift focus between near and far recursively – to establish context and perspective – is essential to understanding the human condition and its trajectory. John Walker is providing a stellar (pun intended) running example of this principle when it comes to understanding our little corner of the galaxy with the real-time adumbration of the nature of Ultima Thule.

John is also part of the reason for my New Year’s reflection on humanity’s delta V. Heading the list of his important books of 2018 is Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark. Thanks to that recommendation, I am now reading it. And, like other books which document our current abilities, it makes quite clear the fact that, in sidereal time, the plot of our intellectual and engineering abilities is asymptotic. Our progress beginning with the earliest records of our ancestors up until now is nothing short of breathtaking (my grandfather’s means of conveyance were his feet and a horse-drawn cart; had I the desire, the cash, and the health, this year I might join Burt Rutan on Spaceship 2 in [arguable] space). I find myself wondering whether our path is sustainable. Actually, as another book I am reading suggests,  I am not at all sure we will endure as a species. Why might I be thinking that on this holy-day?... [Read More]

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Revolution, American Style

I will give the French credit. When they do revolutions, they go about them properly: in the streets, at the barricades. Bodies, and particularly heads are put at risk. Not so in America; nothing so old-fashioned or crass as blood in the streets here. Above all, no risk that the failed perps’ heads will appear on spikes. No, here revolutions take place in secret grand jury rooms, where the mills (Muehlen, in German. A miller is a mueller – how about that!) of justice coups grind exceeding slow…

Much has been speculated since Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. The end result – that Trump would, with certainty, be accused of some wrongdoing – was baked into the cake at the outset. Comey, as agent of the deep state, somehow, saw to it that his friend Mueller was appointed. Were we still a nation of laws, their relationship would have been disqualifying, as should have been many of Mueller’s appointees been disqualified; they are known and vocal Democrat partisans. The fact that Mueller was never even slightly concerned with either of these blatant conflicts of interest tells just how sure of himself he is in his mission. And all of this is only possible because the “media” are now Democrat operatives; as such, they only scream about “apparent” conflicts of interest when they apply to Republicans. Blatant ones on the part of Democrats merit no mention, whatsoever. NOT news = fake news.... [Read More]

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