The Garbage Can Conundrum

Funny story:

17 years ago, my garbage can got run over by the garbage truck. The lid popped off, the body racked sideways, and the wheels went a bit woogley. The garbage crew must carry repair materials, because by the time I got to it, having heard the crunch, seen the horror show out the window, and gone to survey the damage, they had reattached the lid (or at least a lid, it was three inches too short and wouldn’t close all the way), and driven off. The resulting H.R. Giger-worthy abomination couldn’t be pushed straight, leaned and twisted while being moved, and let rainwater and critters in.

So I called the city about a replacement, since they require a certain special kind of can. One afternoon, entirely free of charge, a new can just showed up randomly on my sidewalk while I was at work. At this point I had two garbage cans. This seemed like a good thing, since I figured that in a town that won’t take naked bags, having a second can for emergencies (even a woogley one) wasn’t a bad thing. Thus, for nearly two decades, we have had two garbage cans.

Last week, we had a crazy windstorm on garbage day. Both our garbage and recycling cans had to be located and returned several times. Apparently, at some point during the workday, our “new” can also got run over. When I found it, one of its wheels had fallen off and one side of the lid’s hinges had been sheared nearly through, such that when you open or close it, the edges slip past each other, which causes the lid to warp and bounce back if you try to do it with any speed other than glacial.

So this week, I called the city about a replacement. On garbage day, the garbage crew emptied the can, then took out some hardware and reattached the wheel, and drove off. I was kinda ticked. This did not solve my problem! I had a long day of meetings, so I put it out of my mind. Later, my wife called to me “Hey, we got a new can!”. I thought she was being sarcastic. However, it turned out that during the day, some garbage ninja had stealthily delivered a new can, setting it right next to the can “repaired” by the garbage crew earlier.

I’ve learned two things from these experiences. First, our city’s garbage crews carry spare parts and tools to repair garbage cans, which I never would have expected. Second, our city has garbage-can ninjas who sneak up on you to randomly deliver garbage cans.

Now, some of you may have already twigged to a small gap in this system: There seems to be no mechanism for removing the old cans! We now have three garbage cans, two of which are barely usable.

It occurs to me that there may be no good way to “throw out” a garbage can. Thinking of this from the perspective of a garbage crew: If I saw a garbage can in front of your house, even an empty, battered one, I’d say, ‘Yup, that’s a garbage can.’ and move on. If I saw a garbage can with ‘Garbage’ scrawled upon it, I’d say, ‘Well duh!’ and move on. If I saw a garbage can labeled, ‘This can is garbage.’ I’d say ‘Well yes, that’s what they are all for!’ and move on. If I saw a can with a sticky-note on it that said ‘Please throw out this can!’ I’d assume that it was a note from one member of a household to another reminding them of their chores and move on.

Apparently, we are doomed to accumulate garbage cans endlessly until we die. Then, perhaps the only thing we can do is ask to be laid in state upon a massive bier built of all our accumulated woogley garbage cans and set fire to as the sun sets, so as to prevent our burden from being visited upon our children.

On the upside, the smell alone will make our funerals more memorable!

Posted in Family, For Facebook, Geeky, General, Personal, Uncategorized, Whimsical | Leave a comment

Covid-19: Government Lies Kill (but not how you think)

A few days ago, the White House announced that “social distancing and masking will be essential even after vaccination”. This has predictably caused a significant amount of public consternation, and given new life to conspiracy theories around social control etc…

Conspiracists love lies

To an extent, it is probably not a bad policy to continue to demand social distancing and masks. It is very likely that there will still be some avenues for transmission after vaccination, and that, since you can’t tell who is vaccinated by looking at them, some percentage of the unvaccinated would blithely ignore mask mandates were there to be exceptions made for the vaccinated. But here’s the thing? Why not just say that?!?!?

This is government treating people like cretins again, and I’m quite sure it will produce similar results and get people killed.

When this all started, the CDC/NIH decided that they had to manipulate the public into not buying the N95 masks needed by medical personnel, instead of just saying what they meant, so they told the public “masks don’t work”. Since even a cretin is able to twig to the ridiculousness of saying that masks are only effective if you have a certain kind of job, this sowed a *lot* of mistrust and conspiracy bullshit we’re still fighting, especially after their complete 180 a couple of months later insisting that masks were vital: “Were they lying then, or are they lying now?”.

Then we had Dr Fauci himself insisting for months that we’d reach herd immunity at around 60% vaccination/other immunity, but then as soon as vaccines were in sight inching the estimate up over months to around 85%. Then, in a recent interview, he publicly admitted that he “knew the public wasn’t ready to hear” the real numbers, so he consciously lied about them to manipulate their expectations. So again, doctor: “Were you lying then, or are you lying now?”

In the public’s mind the follow-up to this is: “What else are they lying about?”

So in my opinion, this is another example where a proclamation is being made likely for a good reason, but the reason is being withheld from, or at least glossed-over to, the public. It will lead to resistance and suspicion, and feed the conspiracy theorists further. As previously, this resistance will cause more death.

tl;dr – The government is once again subverting their own goals by treating the public like idiots, and it’s going to get people killed…

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Meditations on a Candidate

Given the debate to be held this evening, I would like to express a short but timely consideration of the candidate I will be opposing this year in the elections. He possesses the following inexcusable qualities:

  • He is very old, and has made numerous public statements that force me to question his mental competence.
  • His track record in office is one indicative of deep racism and disrespect for civil liberties.
  • His political career has included numerous actions that increased and extended our nation’s shameful overseas wars.
  • His running mate has a similar track record.
  • He has numerous accusations of sexual assault on record against him.
  • Even when he makes statements of policy that I might generally agree with, his use of weaselly language and history of saying one thing while doing another make me deeply suspicious of his sincerity.

I suspect, at this point, that you at least think you know who I will be voting against. If the number of people in that guess is less than two, however, you haven’t been paying attention…

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Application Service Engineering, In A Nutshell

You *are* an expert, aren’t you?

Imagine you are on the deck of an eighteenth century sailing ship. There are a number of large cannon on the deck with you. Each cannon is only secured with a single rope, each one tied to a different part of its cannon and location on the ship. Every few moments, the captain randomly commands his men to change where some of the ropes are tied off on the ship or to their cannon, then turns broadside into heavy seas, causing the deck to rock violently. Less regularly, the captain abruptly drops anchor or turns hard over, opens sails full, and runs downwind at breakneck pace.

You’ve just been given the job to build and permanently install gun-crew workstations and targeting devices around each of these cannon which will be available and effective 99.95% of the time. Also, the deadline was two weeks ago, and no one on the crew understands any of the technologies or tools you have to use.

Somehow, the current state of the project is your fault…

Posted in For Facebook, Industry, Personal, Whimsical | Leave a comment

Stop Trying So Hard To Be “Woke” and Wake the Fuck Up!

My news and social media feeds for the last two days are full of white friends posting comments and articles whose message amounts to “Oh, sure, you care about police brutality now, but where are you the rest of the time when there isn’t some immediately recent event to jump on?”
I would like to start by gently pointing out that the majority (not all) of these folks are people from whom I have never seen a post about police brutality, systemic racism, mass surveillance, government overreach, etc. except right after there is some immediately recent event to jump on.

I post about this stuff every damned day. I write literal letters. I give money to causes. I try desperately to get anyone at all to care that our nation has spun completely out of control, with everything we’ve done wrong for 150 years coming back with a vengeance and authorities and institutions acquiring ever more power over our most vulnerable citizens with no attempt to reform the systemic problems which they are amplifying with this power. Folks who see my posts, if they bother to respond at all, imply that I’m overreacting, or that my well researched posts are “fake news” because one of my sources has a headline that seems a bit exaggerated to them, so they won’t read it or any other source I’ve provided to them. This is not restricted to either end of the left-right political spectrum.

The other night, a friend commented “You must be having an aneurysm over this stuff”. After a moment of surprised introspection, my answer was that I’m about as angry as usual, but that honestly, it’s slightly less stressful for me on these rare occasions when people wake up for a moment and pay attention. Then I proceeded to feel guilty for the rest of the night at being relieved that something bad enough to make people take notice had happened.

I know it will be short lived. I know in three weeks we’ll be right back where we were, ignoring the actual problems from both the right and the left (each in their own special way, of course) by adding law after useless, criminally incompetent law to fix the problems caused by all the previous criminally incompetent laws and declaring the problem defeated without actually accomplishing anything. I hope, as I do every time, that this time will be different, but deep down, I know it won’t.

I won’t ask you to be an activist. I don’t want you to be a social justice warrior, or a “cop blocker”, or a radical libertarian. All I’m asking is that you try to understand that what is going on now is going on because the events that triggered it are ALWAYS going on, and things just happened to boil over now. It’s not just about racism, or systemic violence, or groups piggy-backing a movement for their own purposes (looking at you, “Antifa”, “Alt-Right”, “Boogaloo” racists, etc.). It’s about all those things, and the fact that at some level, they are all symptoms of the sickness infecting our nation.

If you are a “shoulda obeyed the curfew” person, remember that you were likely one of the people chafing at being ordered to stay in your home to protect people from a disease a few weeks ago. If you are an “imposing a curfew is stripping me of my right to free speech” person , remember that you were likely one of the people calling the quarantine protesters idiots a couple of weeks ago. Were you wrong then, or are you wrong now? Do you see any connection at all? Just think about it.

If you are a “this is systemic racism” person, remember that several studies have shown that your likelihood at being beaten or killed in police custody is just about equal across all ethnicities, once they have already been detained by police, so the systemic problem is MORE than just that the police tend to target black people and poor urban neighborhoods. If you are a “not all police” person, please try to count the number of police officers you have ever heard of who actually reported the bad behaviour of other officers who hadn’t already been caught on citizen video, and in those rare cases, what happened to the careers of those doing the reporting. Is a cop who ignores the bad behaviour of another cop really a good cop?

We have a government that has been handed the power to spy on *any* of its citizens, at any time and for practically any reason. We have an economy dominated by government-created monstrosities called “corporations” that have been granted personhood, and in fact have more rights and power than an actual human, but whose participants bear none of the personal liability of an actual person, divorcing profit from responsibility. We have a health-care market in which the dominant, rapacious corporations cannot even be challenged with disruption, because the government has handed them a virtual monopoly in the name of “insuring the uninsured”, and doctors and medical facilities are prevented from escaping this morass because a private corporation, the AMA, has been given complete control of their livelihoods and can render them paupers in an instant if they won’t play ball. We have systems of authority and law that were built by racists and often for racist reasons (drug war, gun control, etc.). We have unions that were created to protect workers, but have long since become corporations in their own right and which protect incompetence and bad acts out of procedure and fear, rather than any moral necessitude.

The systemic problem isn’t any one of these things, it’s what allows all of them to happen. I won’t even give you my personal opinion of what that root problem IS. Think about it for yourself. Keep your eyes open beyond the duration of whatever outrage the current media cycle or social media frenzy has decided you should care about. Stop tribalizing issues, and look at the actual facts. LISTEN. Stop defending your ideology long enough to actually think critically about it from time to time. Examine your motivations for caring or not caring about an issue.

Right now, you give a shit. GREAT! I love it. Act, yes. Speak out, yes. And then, in three weeks, when there’s no one marching in the streets and no constant reminder to sign a petition or immediate opportunity to virtue signal with a #ShockedShockedITellYou social media post on a video, KEEP GIVING A SHIT!

And while you’re at it, maybe you could stop using your public displays of outrage or support to service your own ego, rather than actually call for action?

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