Posted on Monday, January 6th, 2020
The news out of Australia is so heartbreaking that I am having trouble sleeping at night.
With 30,000 square miles having been burned, it's estimated that a half-billion animals have perished in the flames with a half-billion more affected. The video of confused and frightened koalas clinging to trees as fire approaches... animals running as their homes burn... not to mention the thousands of people who have been evacuated or made homeless... it's a catastrophic situation that is really tough to wrap your head around. The stories of people with kind hearts helping the animals is a small consolation, but I always wonder what happens to the animals after the photos have been taken...
Photo from Anna Heusler
Photo from Photo from Matt Sully
No home. No food. No water. The situation for these already endangered creatures is dire. I can't fathom what it's going to take to save them. Could be that koalas in the wild will be rare and all we're going to get will be those made safe in captivity. And while koalas get all the press because they're so cute, the populations of other less-cute animals, lizards, snakes, insects, and the rest are perishing too.
I know that animals have been suffering around the world for as long as the world has existed, but it doesn't make it any easier to process. Unlike humans, animals can't be made to understand what's happening or told to evacuate or instructed what they should do. All they know is that the world is on fire.
Alas, it's not just the flames they have to worry about. There are other ways to burn down the world, and humans are doing a fine job of that, if Twitter is any indication. Soon wildfires may be the very least of their problems. Maybe this realization is why I can't sleep at night? I dunno. I'm too exhausted to figure it out.
Posted on Wednesday, January 15th, 2020
The plan was to meet a friend for dinner in nearby big city 20 minutes away. But it was pretty dark at 4:30 and snowing like crazy so I called to cancel. Turns out my friend had forgotten all about meeting up, so it was no harm no foul. Instead my dinner consisted of veggie hot dogs. Which was lame, but better than the bag of potato chips I had for lunch.
Though it's tough to feel too sorry for myself after I saw this video this morning...
Animals around the globe are having such a tough time of it... and people are not doing enough to help. Indeed, it seems so many of the problems animals face are due to humans in the first place. This kind of shortsightedness is incredibly depressing, and I can't help but wonder how close we are to catastrophic failure of our ecosystem.
Then we humans will be the ones having a very tough time of it.
And it will be fully deserved.
Posted on Friday, February 14th, 2020
As much as I wasn't a fan of Valentine's Day before, I am especially not a fan now.
I've been trying really, really hard to change my attitude about stuff that just doesn't matter (like Valentine's Day) but it's proving incredibly difficult. In a day and age where everything is shit that's impossible to escape, even the little things can be completely overwhelming.
In the State of The Union address a week ago, Cheeto Jesus said "I am thrilled to report to you tonight that our economy is the best it has ever been."... then a couple days ago he cut Federal employee raises that were scheduled because of "serious economic conditions." So which the fuck is it? Do we have the best economy that the entire universe has ever known... or is it in the toilet? Like most things in life, both statements are probably true. For billionaires and mega-millionaires, the economy is the best it's been in decades. For everybody else, it's not so great. Partly because of rising costs. Partly because we keep losing things that our taxes have traditionally paid for. Take, for example, libraries.
The presidents current crusade includes cutting funding for libraries. The only way some people can afford to read books is to borrow them from the library. The only way some people can afford to watch movies is to borrow them from the library. The only way some people can afford to get the news from newspapers and magazines is to borrow them from the library. The only way some people can have access to the internet or a computer is to use them at the library. BUT POOR PEOPLE DON'T MATTER, SO CUTTING THEIR ACCESS TO EDUCATION, ENTERTAINMENT, AND A WAY TO COMMUNICATE, FIND A JOB, OR JUST FUCKING EXIST IS NO BIG DEAL WHEN BILLIONAIRES NEED TAX CUTS TO PAY FOR THEIR GOLD-PLATED TOILETS, RIGHT?!?
And then there's the little things. Like the desire to live free from deadly diseases. As you may have heard, the Coronavirus is a big deal. Currently in China, but it could end up wrecking havoc here very easily. Then there's the looming threat of old diseases coming back, which scientists warn could be unleashed from thawing permafrost. And yet President Trump is wanting to slash funding to the Center for Disease Control. It's madness.
But we've got billions to transfer to the ineffective and idiotic "Wall" President Trump is hellbent on constructing. Hope it can stop diseases from getting through.
But anyway... Happy Valentine's Day...
For past year's Blogography Valentine cards, click here!
Posted on Thursday, February 27th, 2020
Today I got some rather bad news. A project I had been working hard to complete was outright canceled. But then, after giving it some thought, I decided it was actually good news. Sure it means I had been wasting my time these past three nights, but it also means I don't have to worry about it tonight or stress over tomorrow's deadline! Woo hoo!
In other news... it was announced that Vice President Pence was put in charge of the country's coronavirus response.
At first I was all "Well that's nice. It's terriffic that he has something to do with his time." But then I was like "Wait a second... isn't this the same Vice President Dumbass who said condoms don't work and smoking doesn't kill you? Holy shit!" And, sure enough, heeeeeere's Mikey!
The anti-science assholes running this country make me crazy.
But what doesn't now-a-days?
Posted on Sunday, March 1st, 2020
We may be at the beginning of a pandemic, but the bullets are still flying... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts... now...
• Hertz! Michael Hertz has passed away. He is largely responsible for one of the most beautiful and elegant map designs you'll find. It's the New York City subway map, which sought to simplify and clarify the depiction of the various lines by making them easier to understand...
There were other versions of this map over the decades, but this modern version from 1978 is the one most people today are familiar with. It was proceeded by an equally beautiful (yet slightly more confusing) version by Massimo Vignelli...
My first dozen times visiting New York City I ended up buying a new fold-out pocket subway map each time because I always forgot to bring an old one with me. Now, of course, I've just got the map on my iPhone. But I'll always have a place in my heart for the map I used for decades to get me around the city.
• Nygaard! Another designer who passed away that's definitely worth noting? Jens Nygaard, the guy who created the LEGO minifigs...
As somebody who started with LEGO before the minifig was introduced, this was absolutely a game changer. Prior to the minifies, which I believe I first got in the LEGO Space sets, we just drew a face on a stack of bricks. The "official" people of the LEGO Universe were a fantastic addition to the toy which took it in a fantastic direction that continues to this day.
• Dyson! Completing the trifecta of those who passed away this past week... Freeman Dyson. This brilliant mathematician, physicist, and astronomer (among other things) was such a huge influence on me that my pen-name, Maach Allon Dyson, was in honor of him. Because, seriously, just look at some of his accomplishments from his Wikipedia page. Though the thing that he's likely best known for... especially by me... is the Dyson sphere...
The idea is that a technologically advanced civilization would have the ability to maximize use of energy from their sun... by surrounding it with a sphere or a sphere of rings or a sphere of panels or something like that. It's a mind-blowing idea that would require mining materials from a huge number of celestial bodies (such as comets and asteroids) in order to construct. Pretty fantastic stuff.
• Apps on Parade! I ran across this video and had to laugh at just how frickin' brilliant it is at showing the sheer absurdity of Adobe's "Creative Cloud." I pay $57.34 per month to use exactly four of them... Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, and Acrobat. I also use Lightroom Classic to catalog my photos, but it's not something I need to have. Which means I essentially use less than 1/10th of the apps I have to pay for...
I would be willing to bet that this is the case for at least half of the people paying for Creative Cloud. Hardly getting our money's worth here, but that's what happens when you've got a lock on the industry. My only hope is that eventually another developer... most likely Affinity... will get to the point where Adobe will not be the only option for me. But until then? Blergh.
• Manga Mac! Apple released a clever new commercial which shows various times that Macs have appeared in Japanese manga animation. It's pretty great...
Just makes me want to rewatch the hundreds of manga that I've loved over the years.
• New Horizons! And speaking of ads in Japan... Nintendo really knows how to hit all the feels in their advertising...
The new version of Animal Crossing called Animal Crossing: New Horizons drops on March 20. It's one of those games that always starts out interesting, but I grow bored with fairly quickly. There's only so many fish and bugs you can catch before it gets old. Though maybe the online collaboration will keep it interesting for longer? I don't know that I want to spend $60 to find out.
And with that, bullets have come to a close this fine Sunday. Wash your hands!
Posted on Monday, March 2nd, 2020
It's interesting to note how quickly the organization I work with started canceling our travel due to the Coronavirus. Apparently the deciding factor was a Chinese tourist dying in France on Friday, February 14th (Valentine's Day) which showed that people were traveling with the virus, and flying on a plane with them could result in us being infected. This precipitated a discussion over that weekend, and word was handed down the following Monday, February 17th (President's Day) that all non-essential travel was effectively canceled.
For me this meant everything in March and April...
At the time, I had people saying "THAT SEEMS ALARMIST! YOU'RE NOT TRAVELING TO CHINA!" But since we're volunteers, I think the organization prefers to err on the side of caution. If any of us get infected, our livelihoods and family could be in jeopardy.
Of course now that people are dying here in the US and we're on the verge of a pandemic, nobody thinks it's quite so alarmist.
Then last Friday my May trips were canceled and all travel for June and July was removed from being scheduled...
No idea what this will mean for my other work travel, but the bulk of my flying is gone from the first half of the year. This will be weird for a number of reasons... not the least of which will be losing my frequent flier status! Which means no more free upgrades to First Class and a bowl of warm nuts after take-off. Not that flying coach has ever bothered me, but after having a really good chance of being upgraded for the past 25 years it will definitely be a change...
But the weirdest thing? Just being at home so darn much. My cats will likely be thrilled.
Sure my trips only last a couple days, but it all adds up. As does the exhaustion. Flying to Honolulu on a Monday then flying back home on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning is a routine that I'm used to, but it doesn't make it any less tiring.
And those warm nuts were a great consolation prize.
Though not for long, I'd imagine. Cue the world's tiniest violin.
And now, before I go, here's John Oliver and a sensible take on the Coronavirus from Last Week Tonight...
Wash your hands, everybody.
Posted on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020
If you need any more evidence that the Democrat National Committee is totally in the tank for Joe Biden to be the democratic presidential nominee... look no further than Buttigieg and Klobuchar immediately throwing their endorsements to Uncle Joe the minute they dropped out of the race. I have no idea what the DNC offered Pete and Amy, but I know what they likely did not offer them... cash to continue their campaigns.
And this, as we know, is exactly how the DNC puppet masters operate. They don't give a fuck what the voters want, it's what they want. They are the party. Last time they wanted Hillary Clinton (we all know how that turned out), and the shady shit that went into getting her on the ballot is still being sorted out. Apparently the DNC is filled with dumber piles of shit than I had guessed, because they learned absolutely nothing.
And so... here we go again.
Be good to each other. Peace.
Posted on Thursday, March 5th, 2020
According to the party declaration on my Washington State ballot I've been a Republican and I've been a Democrat. I'm whatever I have to be in order to vote the way I want. In truth, I'm neither. I detest political parties of all persuasions because I firmly believe that our politicians will always, ALWAYS put their party over the people they profess to serve. They have too much to lose if they don't. They fall in line with the party or else the party will cut their financing and replace them. Political parties have way too much power and that's no way to form a government that's of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Obviously for the Washington State primary I had to plug my nose and declare myself a "Democrat" so I could NOT vote for Joe Biden. Not only do I think he's unelectable against President Trump, I don't think he's a fitting punishment for the RNC who enabled Trump in the first place. The fact that I will likely end up being forced to vote for Uncle Joe (AKA the DNC's "Chosen One") in the election is not something I'm looking forward to. He is definitely not my candidate.
Oh well. At least I'm not having to vote for Hillary Clinton this time.
Or will I?
It's not outside the realm of possibility that Biden will want Clinton as a VP running mate. He will have to do something to energize Democrats and get them to vote for him.
Ugh. Politics in this country are heinous. We so rarely get to vote FOR somebody... we're always having to vote AGAINST somebody. It's been about "the lesser of two evils" most of my voting life. Unfortunately "the lesser of two evils" is still evil. And that's how it's going to stay as long as we're locked into this Republican/Democrat two-party shit-show.
And the RNC and DNC wouldn't have it any other way.
Posted on Wednesday, March 11th, 2020
I wake up. I go to work. I come home. I go to sleep. Then I repeat it all over again the next day. I don't go anywhere unless I have to. I don't see anyone unless I have to. I don't do anything unless I have to. I wash my hands before and after every activity. I sanitize every surface I touch. This is life in the age of the coronavirus. This is love in the time of COVID-19.
My caution came highly recommended by the organization I volunteer with. They're based in Europe where there's a perspective on things that's different from here. Italy is in major crisis, other countries will likely join them, and absolutely everything is shutting down in an effort to halt or reduce the escalating infection rate. Meanwhile here in the USA I keep running into people who think that it's all being overblown... usually as a part of a conspiracy theory to reflect badly on President Trump. It's all fake news. It's not a serious problem. It's no more dangerous than the common cold.
Which is a load of crap, of course, but I guess there are people who would rather believe a bunch of bullshit than accept that their hero is an incompetent dumbass who would rather downplay a serious situation at the cost of American lives than look like an incompetent dumbass.
Today I had to run to tourist town to return something I borrowed for work. I wanted to go today instead of the weekend so I wouldn't have to see anybody. On the way back home I decided to stop at the store to pick up the only two things I can't currently live without... Coke Zero and Quaker Brand Chocolate Chip Rice Cakes. If I'm going to be quarantined, I have toilet paper, soap, and food. I don't have beverages and dessert. So... worth the risk of stopping at the store to get some, I suppose. I just have to be mindful of people and sanitize my hands after.
It was then that I saw that perhaps Redneckistan is starting to take things seriously after all. The grocery store was rationing toilet paper and paper towels to one package per person and the shelves were starting to become bare.
Blind panic is unwarranted.
But a little panic is probably going to save lives if it makes people start taking proper precautions.
Wash your hands and stay distant, people.
Posted on Thursday, March 12th, 2020
Last night I could have sworn I was coming down with a fever... but never felt hot to the touch. Maybe it was psychosomatic because of everything happening in the world. Maybe it was wishful thinking because I really wanted to stay home. Or maybe I'm just imagining things because I'm getting old.
Regardless of why I thought I had a fever, I started running through everything that would happen if I had to self-quarantine myself. I have plenty of groceries and supplies. I bought Coke Zero and Quaker Brand Chocolate Chip Rice Cakes yesterday. Everything I need can be ordered online and dropped at my door. And I can work from home if I have to.
So... not a big deal, right? I could totally use a staycation. Right?
Because, hey, if Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson can make it through COVID-19, then I can. Right?
Everything will be okay if we can just stay calm and trust that the people in charge of keeping us safe have a handle on things. Right?
Yeah, it was great watching this ignorant, stupid, confusing address by our president show just how fucked we are. You could literally watch the stock market go into free-fall as he was talking! You know it's bad when a presidential address does more harm than good and we would have been better off if he had never said anything at all.
And it looks like our choices for the election come November are this hot mess and... Joe Biden?
Jesus. Spring may be coming, but the winter of our discontent is neverending and Friday just keeps getting further away.
Posted on Friday, March 20th, 2020
Hey, I may not trust our politicians... they are beholden to the lobbyists who own them, so their agenda has little room for the citizens they profess to serve... but I do trust science. And what keeps me from crafting a tinfoil hat during a time when conspiracy theories are running rampant is that scientific truth will ultimately prevail.
Though given how our current government has been shitting all over science lately, it may take a while.
So thank heaves for Kurzgesagt! They hopped on the COVID-19 pandemic really quickly. Their videos are amazing, and this is important viewing so you know what's happening here on planet earth...
So while science works on a vaccine to protect us... and debunks the insanity that COVID-19 came from a laboratory... and explains why "flattening the curve" is critical to keeping our hospitals from being overrun... among many, many other things... what are politicians doing during this crisis? Why, fucking us over as usual, of course.
It's the only truly bipartisan government activity left.