As long as I can remember, the only “adult” aspiration that ever interested me was permanent migration to space. It’s actually a quite childish aspiration. When I was younger, what I found interesting and attractive about it was the combination of technology and pioneering, pretty much exactly what the industrial and military propaganda of the day wanted me to, er, grok.

When I got older, what was attractive was the possibility of leaving everyone else behind, but not unkindly, of being granted the privilege of a socially-approved escape from the dreary day-to-day responsibilities of life, such as taking the trash out or assuring other people, or your pets, that you love them.

None of that’s ever gonna happen.

Another 9/11

Yeah so, Donald Trump won. Some things upcoming in the next four years:

  • Extrajudicial assassination of American citizens within the 48 contiguous states, vetted by secret courts.
  • Widespread use of torture, with and without oversight.
  • A significant uptick in ethnically motivated violence up to and including murder.
  • Concentration camps for various subcategories of people living and working in the United States.
  • Evident, back-the-truck-up-to-the-vault-levels of  public theft by administration flunkies. Widespread hiring of US GOP functionaries with specific experience at this exact thing from the oversight of occupied Iraq. Said criminals will be feted as heroes, possibly in a reality TV show.
  • Mass deportations of people suspected of being illegal aliens.
  • Large numbers of American citizens deported in these actions due to profiling, corruption, and predjudice.
  • An historic recession due to global loss of faith in the stability and jurisprudence of the United States.
  • A pointless war, or maybe several.
  • The implementation of loyalty statutes, framed as responses to the economic collapse and unpopular war and the consequent acts of violent resistance.
  • The abolition of termlimited and eventually electoral governance by the executive.

My dad and I were traveling together in Cuba in August and I went off on a rant about how the GOP were the absolute expression of the enemies of democracy and always had been during my conscious lifetime. I’m not limiting this shit to Reagan, here, I am specifically including Nixon, because that is the first GOP president of my lifetime to devote significant policy and campaign resources to, in Trump’s words, “rigging” his re-election.

He kind of shook his head in disbelief, even though he’s been hearing me rant about this since I was a teenager. Roughly, his words were “I just don’t see how that amounts to this ‘end of democracy’ stuff.”

It gave me pause, as in context I also understood him to be asking me to ask myself why over the course of my entire life I have had a clear tendency to view a certain American right political tendency as explicitly anti-democratic, as murderously authoritarian, and as essentially fascist. I thought writing about it might clarify things somewhat as I do think that there is a specific reason my psychology predisposes me to observe and highlight these viewpoints, events, and actions. Interestingly, my viewpoint is factually correct – American political, military, and intelligence leaders and personnel have actually engaged in this pattern of democratic suppression with increasing intensity over the course of my life.

Counterpoised against this, I suppose, would be the increasing social openness of American society, the midseventies efforts to limit the use of domestic and international espionage and assasination for domestic political purposes by both the FBI and the CIA, the currently highly contentious efforts to establish reasonable accountability for the use of deadly force by police officers, and the election of Barack Obama. Things change! Yet the implementation of these systemic tools of state repression has never slowed, and appears to me to have been even accelerated by such things as the Church hearings.

The toxic recombination of US Latin American foreign policy with the renascent Reagan GOP in the 1980s produced a ill-advised offshore industry of security consultants and international military education with a US-led emphasis on counterinsurgency tactics.  Those tactics can be summarized, roughly, as “torture, terror, and genocide,” that having worked well for Europeans in the Americas since the 1600s. These lessons were even brought to bear in the East with regard to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

That prosperous anti-democratic polyp of the national security infrastructure has has sought and found ways to grow and thrive since the post-Vietnam era, swollen with red-faced rage and resentment at being reined in in the wake of their clients’ assassination, torture, and kidnapping operations in the United States in the 1970s. Prior ongoing purely domestic campaigns that employed the same tactics never excited similar scrutiny.

President Obama inherited a post-9/11 security apparatus that was designed by these murderous enemies of decency and absolutely failed to disassemble it. President Trump will inherit it as well, along with a venal crew of murderous racist toadies. He will not hesitate to use it to punish people he sees as personal enemies.

This actually is what the end of democracy looks like.

I probably am prone to seeing, to expecting this, in part because we lived in Chile in 1969 and on September 11, 1972, the elected Communist government of that country was overthrown in a violent military coup that kickstarted the era of death squad terror in Latin America. That news entered my head roughly at the same time as the news of Watergate, and so as a child I was taught that democracy is fragile and that American institutions are not, in the long run, actually committed to democracy, but rather to power.

My dad has seen the same stuff that I have over my lifetime, but he does not see this moment (or those preceding it which I have also seen as crises of democracy, such as Reagan’s arms and drug smuggling, GWB II’s judicial theft of a Presidential election, and the erection of a torture and assassination military and intelligence infrastructure) as necessarily even an aspect of an assault on democracy. He’s factually incorrect, of course.

quidnunc kid #1

At MetaFilter, there’s an amusing user who goes by “the quidnunc kid.” Both of us were on MonkeyFilter before MeFi. Anyway, someone over there noticed that QK  had changed his profile page to include an original all-limerick adaptation of The Lord of The Rings.


I reallly wanted to see this properly typeset, so I did it myself. Enjoy.

the red dot

Forgot to write about a thing that happened as we drove into downtown before the movie last night. We came off of Aurora and headed up to Fifth, turning southbound at Battery before hitting a light on Bell. We were in the leftmost, northern lane.

As we sat at the intersection I noticed a bright red taillight refraction against Viv’s driver side door. Immediately I realized that as the entire block we were in was in shadow it had to be a laser rather than a reflection and I called it to Viv’s attention, pointing at it and reaching in front of her to tap it. As soon as I did so, the light winked off.

I started laughing and joking about it and as I did so realized that, as the beam was highly attenuated and elongated, it must have originated some distance away and probably from one of the taller buildings in the area. Given the angle and shape of the light spot, it probably was being shone down from in front of the car from a building to our south on the eastern side of the street.

The final point of actual concern to me was that given that the bean originated quite some distance away – the width of the attenuated beam was about a centimeter – and that it winked off immediately upon my reaching out to tap it, the beam was almost certainly attached to a spotter scope with someone sighting down it.

Last night, a block away from where this occurred, a multi-hour parade attracted tens of thousands of people to downtown. Let that sink in for a minute. Someone on a high building was playing with a laser-sighted spotting scope about two hours before a huge public event.

I called 911. I had to. The operator was attentive and courteous and clearly was taking my call seriously.


I liked Star Trek Beyond very much. The thing I picked up on that I wanted to point out for discussion is that Pegg and his cowriter were very deliberately introducing actual literal themes of fascism into the story in an interesting way, probably in order to reflect contemporary anxieties about the European (and now the American) right.

Krall (why do space villains randomly change their names like this? It’s just pointless scriptwriter obfuscation, isn’t it. V’ger, for god’s sake) in his occasional moments of exposition, eschewing action for philosophy, tells us that he wants humanity to be returned to a state of endless struggle. This valorization of struggle, social darwinism, is a key component of fascism.

OK, so we have a British writer who’s given us a Space Nazi as our big baddie. No big deal, right? But wait!

Throughout the film our band of doughty heroes oppose Krall’s expostulations and threats with the repeated word “Unity,” counterpositing that value to Krall’s endless struggle.

Scotty even explains why that unity is valuable to Jaylah via the metaphor of a bundle of sticks. A bundle of sticks! The emblem of authority of the Roman state. A fasces. The symbol from which fascism takes its name. It’s worth noting it’s Pegg who delivers this line. He is well-aware of what he’s doing with this theme.

Now, I wish I could say the same. There’s a case to be made that action movies are inherently fascist. Is Pegg ironically commenting on that? Is he intentionally constructing the basis for presenting a critical view of the Federation as a fascist society?

Given that a take on the (which I share) UFP appears to directly relate it to Banks’ Culture, I would guess that it may be more of a cinematic irony than an attempt to lay the ground for a critique of the Federation from the left.

Anyway, I enjoyed the film, plot holes and all, much more than I did the prior two nuTreks. I hope Pegg continues his story involvement. I don’t think there’s any question that this film succeeds primarily because of his writing.

A commenter on the MetaFilter FanFare thread for the film wondered to what extent the buildings seen comprising the architecture of the Federation space station Yorktown were drawn from footage shot of Dubai, which I found interesting in light of my prior remarks on slavery in the franchise, which I’ll summarize here in the context of the question regarding Dubai.

It would actually be ironic in interesting ways if nuYorktown were portrayed onscreen using footage shot of Dubai, Yorktown being of course where Washington defeated the British, and also a colonial city in old Virginia. Dubai being Dubai. Both cities? Slave labor economies. Which we could then say underpins the economy of the Federation if those buildings in Dubai are the actual buildings seen onscreen portraying nuYorktown.

There’s another whole discussion here to be had about the role of slavery, let alone the use of the term and concept “race,” in every iteration of Trek – The Klingon and Cardassian economies clearly have engaged in enslavement, for example, and in TOS, the Federation has trade ties with the Orions, whose best-known economic export are green-skinned dancing girls. But another time.





Thought perhaps writing out my current issues with an older MacBook Pro might help to figure out what happened and where to go from here. I originally wrote and posted this at on July 20. As of today, the post has attracted one response in which a poster notes that he was able to fix a dead MPB by reseating a component on the mobo, something that seems both technically beyond my scope and quite unlikely as a parallel issue in my case.

These events happened in late June, concurrent with prepping for a print-oriented gig which I wrote about here at the time.

SSD replacement leads to apparent mobo failure; no apparent mechanism for mobo failure in chain of events

The hardware.

I had long ago maxed out the RAM and bumped the HD to 1gb. At the time of these events I was running Yosemite.

I sourced and installed a TOSHIBA-TR150 960gb SSD marketed under the brand OCZ Trion. After cloning the drive using SuperDuper and swapping the new drive in, the machine booted but then would randomly shutdown. I tried a clean install and migration (no dice) and corresponded with Shirt Pocket all the way through, as they were interested to understand why the cloning might not have worked.

Some legwork uncovered the unfortunate fact that the SSD was not supported by the manufacturer in this model MPB due to the use of a buggy SATA controller in Apple’s build.
A Finnish blogger recounts his issues with the hardware.

So I repurposed the drive in another machine, a more contemporary Mac Pro tower, and did a bit more research before buying another drive, which I formally verified (on the phone!) with the manufacturer as supported before purchasing, the Crucial BX200 960GB.

It was not going to support full SATA 3.x transfer speeds but hey, the manufacturer stated it would work.

So, this time, I went straight for a clean install and migration, and the machine booted up and ran well for about a day. Then it shut down without warning at the end of a workday and rebooted into the recovery partition. I decided I didn’t have time to work on it more right then and shut the machine down from the recovery boot, intending to reboot into recovery the next evening.

During the next 24h I also decided to punt and ordered a 1gb SSD from OWC instead of trying to save that $100 on the assumption that the Crucial drive was also going to prove unrecoverable. Either way it would save a day and I could always return it if I was able to get the Crucial working reliably.

However, things took a turn for the unexpected.

The machine was solidly unresponsive to the power button. The battery charge indicator light showed full and the power adapter illuminated green when plugged in, but there was zero response to the button, no clicks or fan whir or chimes or any indication that power was flowing to the device to start it up. It seemed odd, but I just hooked up the recently swapped-out HD and tried to reboot in from the external. Surprising me, but unsurprisingly if boot power was not available, the external device dd not make a difference. I swapped the original drive back in. No dice.

I punted again and just ordered a new (used) MPB with similar specs, somewhat newer, off ebay, so I would be able to continue work on the upcoming gig I had intended to upgrade the drive for.

I took the dead MPB into the Apple Store thinking they might be able to run a diagnostic but essentially they told me that their TOS prevent them from even opening the case on an older product and that I would be better off finding an indie shop.

By now, my hypothesis was that in my repeated drive swapping on the laptop, I had zapped the motherboard – something I now doubt. By my count, I had swapped a drive into the HD bay at least six times in about three days up to the point that the machine rebooted into recovery mode. After I pulled the second SSD, I put the original drive back in. That original drive had been multiply verified as bootable by using it externally on two other systems in the house specifically to check its boot validity.

So here’s why I think the mobo hypothesis is incorrect. The device failed to boot off the internal primary partition and failed over to the recovery partition before being shut down in an orderly fashion. The device had not been opened since the Crucial drive was installed, and that drive had been engaged as the primary boot volume at least three times prior to the volume failure, with the MPB either boot cycling or entering a fully shut down state. So I think it’s quite unlikely that I somehow introduced static electricity into the motherboard in such a manner that it would manifest only after a couple of boot cycles.

The hardware-oriented course of action here is to take off the case and try to jumper the mobo. But I have a hunch that there is something I’m missing in my bouts of troubleshooting and wanted to lay it out here and ask for input.

First, does anyone have links to a similar story, where a new HD or SSD appears to kill boot power? Second, is there a more detailed series of boot-power troubleshooting steps than these posted at iFixit? Their steps clearly point to the mobo.

iFixit has a guide to troubleshooting MPBs.

Can’t Stand the Midwest

A couple people, non-Hoosiers, on Facebook excitedly noticed this release. Great, effectively edited trailer.

I wanted to call their attention to a couple of related compilation records, one originally released in the 1980s and then rereleased a few years ago by the original label, and another that released last year covering a similar set of bands as the older record.

The first record is of course Gulcher’s 1980 classic Red Snerts. There’s a couple copies on YouTube, I won’t link over here. I did find an old Angelfire site that provides access to the original LP’s graphics and inserts.

The second is Time Change Records’ “Early Indiana Punk and New Wave, the Crazy Al’s Years, 1976-1983” The easiest way to grab it is by buying it on iTunes.

Family Vineyard, who are releasing the DJI record, has a great track record and interesting releases covering significant aspects of this tradition in Indiana as well. Worth looking through their releases.