solarbird: (Lecturing)

All this old computer stuff I keep talking about is going up on eBay in various forms. Those auctions will be over here, and all the starting bids are way low, because the whole point is to clear all this out. I’ll be adding more items hopefully daily.

But! That Amiga 500 I’ve been talking about… that’s a bit tricky. It’s better as a unit than it would be as pieces, but the weird wooden case is a problem, and there is no case anywhere else that could be used and keep the system intact. I could take it apart and sell the pieces, and that would probably get me the most money, but frankly, I’d much rather keep it together.

You can probably see where this is going.

I have a highly-customised Amiga 500 with ECS chipset, FlickerFicker/deinterlacer/scandoubler card, 3.5 megs of memory, 14.3Mhz processor (double-speed) with cache, a two-slot Zorro II card cage, SCSI/memory expansion card, third-party high-quality power supply… and a completely goofy wooden tower case made out of lumber, because there is no mass-market case in the world that would hold all this. The hard drive may have just died, but the rest is still fine.

Does anyone out there know any collectors or retrocomputing enthusiasts who might be interested in this monster as one big piece? Seriously, you will not find many Amiga 500s with detached keyboards and Zorro II slots.

Shipping it isn’t a question. Just… no. And you don’t have to take the case, but you won’t find one that will deal with this configuration – you’ll have to build something.

So if you know any Amiga enthusiasts, have them talk to me. I’m not asking eBay parts price, but particularly things like the scandoubler actually do draw some money, so I’m hoping for a couple of hundred dollars. A lot less than you’d pay to assemble it, but well above zero.

Most of the other pieces, I’ll be eBaying. But this… I’d rather find somebody who can take it all in one piece. Thanks.

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solarbird: (Lecturing)

I’ve spent the last couple of days working on getting my old Amiga working (I finally have a functional keyboard again!) and then virtualised under a modern emulator/VM, and WOW SO BORING but I wanted to document it somewhere.

Yes, yes, the student has become the master, etc.

Plus it’s kind of hilarious to see these old network configuration files again. lol what even. Does that system still exist anymore? I honestly don’t know.

Hoo, where to start? Okay, first, I’m running FS-UAE, which emulates Amiga hardware. FS-UAE is good because it’s open source, multiplatform, and all versions use the same disk image files, which are really basic raw drive images that you could literally write back out to a physical drive with dd and use in a real machine.

You need Kickstart ROMs, of course. There tools out there to image your own old ROMs if your Amiga is working, but if not, Amiga Forever is the best place to get those, because they’ll see you every ROM ever for like US$30, and a bunch of (again, legal!) OS versions on floppy disk images.

You’ll need to have a Windows PC to run Amiga Forever on once, because the download is an .msi file, and you’ll need to unpack that mess. Or, if you don’t mind waiting, you can buy the “deluxe” edition for $10 more, and they’ll mail you a DVD, eliminating the PC requirement.

If you go with the download, then once you have it/install the .MSI file, it’ll let you make a DVD-R ISO which you can burn. That’ll produce the same DVD as the deluxe edition would give you, only as DVD-R instead of DVD but whatever. If you’re using a USB drive, you can just have Amiga Forever write out all the files to a standard directory structure there, as well. FS-UAE will work with either to import the ROMs.

In my case, I was able to get my old hard drives viewable under Linux. (That’s because A4000 used IDE instead of SCSI rives, and EIDE cages talk to them.) That meant I could make .img files just using the linux dd command. If you want to virtualise your old machine pretty much intact, you’ll want to image the whole drive to a file – not the partitions individually.

If you have a SCSI controller and can hook your old Amiga drive(s) to it, you can do the same trick there.

Dara Korra’ti You can also mount your old hard drive partitions under linux, though they will be read-only. This still will let you copy things off, and on any modern file system, FS-UAE will let you use a directory as root of a virtualised Amiga hard drive. I’m doing this as drive … four now on my newly virtualised Amiga. That gives me unlimited access to the host machine’s drive space, which is cool, and both my OS X host and my Windows 2000 VM can read/write that directory so all three OSes can share files freely now, which is definitely handy.

Sometimes people apparently have problems mounting the Amiga partitions individually; here is a helpful page on that. The most important part of it really is that fdisk doesn’t recognise Amiga partition tables and that can confuse things, but parted does, and even if you have to get super-squirrley (I did not) then you can make it work with data you can extract via parted.

The reason I’ve been concentrating on OS X is because the Linux version of FS-UAE wants PulseAudio, which I do not want on my DAW, which is my main linux machine. But since I’m using standard dd-created disk images, I can migrate later if I have an appropriate Linux machine for this task.

If you do not have an existing Amiga hard drive, FS-UAE will happily let you create a virtual one and install whatever Workbench versions you want to it.

Anyway, once I had the virtualised machine booting at all to my old system (albeit as an Amiga 4000 with 68020 processor, how the hell that was supposed to work I can’t tell you but it did), I then booted to an Amiga Workbench 3.1 install floppy image instead of the hard drive, and installed 3.1 as an upgrade on my old (now virtualised) drives. After that, everything behaved a lot more normally and I enabled PPC-acceleration-board emulation – which was another advantage of Amiga Forever, since the extra ROM needed was also in the Amiga Forever image.

(Though I did have to rename it. But it asked for the file by name, so it wasn’t hard to figure that out.)

Anyway, that should get you started. There are lots of app floppy images floating around you can use for things too. Lots of legal ones, even. FS-UAE and Amiga Forever will both point you at those and will even include some of them.

Oh, if you have old Amiga floppies and a working/workable Amiga and floppy drive to read them, you’ll want TransADF, which lets you create ADF files out of Amiga floppy disks:

It runs on the Amiga side of things and creates .adf files that fs-uae will use. It’s not really for copy-protected stuff tho’. As far as I can tell, it is about the easiest way to get files off Amiga floppies and onto a machine while preserving all their attributes and such.

Finally, if somehow you have a working Amiga but it doesn’t have LHA, this will help:

I have used a spell to rip this walkthrough from Amiga’s decaying floppy disks, and
sealed it in one of the servers floating in the Furthest Ring. The gods may
disperse the signal throughout the cosmos as they wish. Perhaps it will be of use
to past or future species who like us have been ensnared by crazy-ass antique operating systems.

I see another drive has filed. Pardon my egress. You’re on your own now.

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solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

Today was supposed to be about music and about this weekend at Orycon. Today was supposed to be talking about the little demonstration circuit I’ve put together to improve my panel on building antique-technology microphones because you can. It was going to be fun.

But no. Not now. Because it’s been one fucking week since this savage election and Trump surrogate Carl Higbie is already talking about concentration camps as positive precedent on Fox News.



Fascism is right fucking here, kids. Right here.


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solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

Like everyone else, I wanted all this to go away for a while after this hellhouse of an election was over. And historically, I’ve kept most of my political stuff off the band blog, only getting into it when it was specifically within and about geek culture.

But given the fundamentalist policy influx I’ve already discussed, now supplemented by newer and creepier moves like ideological tests for higher education:

I actually have something I would use the Department of Education to do,” Carson explained. “It would be to monitor our institutions of higher education for extreme political bias and deny federal funding if it exists.

…and bringing in people like Peter Thiel, who famously kinda hates elections and democracy and thinks everything has gone to hell since women started voting:

I must confess that over the last two decades, I have changed radically on the question of how to achieve these goals. Most importantly, I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible. … Since 1920, the vast increase in welfare beneficiaries and the extension of the franchise to women — two constituencies that are notoriously tough for libertarians — have rendered the notion of “capitalist democracy” into an oxymoron.

…and the inclusion of white nationalist anti-semitic misogynists like Steve Bannon at the top level of the new administration:

Now, you may be asking what I would have women replace the [birth control] Pill with, since it’s obviously so awful. Condoms? Vasectomies? The answer is: nothing. We need the kids if we’re to breed enough to keep the Muslim invaders at bay.

The solution to online ‘harassment’ is simple: women should log off. Given that men built the internet, along with the rest of modern civilisation, I think it’s only fair that they get to keep it. I, Donald Trump and the rest of the alpha males will continue to dominate the internet without feminist whining.

…that’s not really an option anymore.

I mean, Mr. Bannon in particular is a vicious piece of work. It’s not just that he made Breitbart a propaganda vehicle for the “~~alt-right~~” clusterfuck of racism, anti-Semitism, and misogyny, but if that wasn’t cartoonish enough, he literally has the endorsement of the literal fucking American Nazi Party, NO, REALLY:

Chairman of the American Nazi Party, Rocky J. Suhayda, who wrote a post after Trump’s election night victory celebrating it as a call to action, said he was surprised at the pick of Bannon, but said it showed him Trump could follow through on his campaign promises.

And it’s not like Trump and Bannon don’t know the arc of this path either. Bannon in particular wants to destroy everything so they can take over:

Trump: “You know what solves it?” [Mr. Trump] said of America’s sorry state. “When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell and everything is a disaster. Then you’ll have a [chuckles], you know, you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be when we were great.”
Bannon: “I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed… “Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

I should’ve paid more attention when the fundamentalist right started quoting Stalin without irony a few years ago. That should’ve twigged me more than it did. I thought it would marginalise them completely, and talked about it like that, saying, “wow, they’ve really gone off into the woods,” but goddammit, instead they’ve found their white supremacist leadership cadre, have allied with actual fucking Nazis, have taken the offer the devil offered Jesus (by 81% – they didn’t even hesitate), and are going for it.


And unless you’re heading overseas, you don’t get to opt out. And maybe not even then.

Am I scaring you? WRONG. I’m not scaring you, the facts are scaring you. The situation is scaring you. And go ahead, be scared. That’s fine.

But do not be intimidated. Do not be paralysed. Fear is a great motivator if you don’t let it control you, and now is the time when you need to control it – and translate that energy into action.

I’ll talk more about that soon. We need to go after media that tries to pretend this is normal, and provide “balanced” coverage of THE ACTUAL FASCISTS, like they’re already doing with Bannon. We need to go after politicians who try to deny the white supremacy, the misogyny, the anti-Semitism, like Trump transition team leader Reince Priebus, who says, “I haven’t seen any of these things” out of Mr. Bannon. (HEY REINCE, I’VE GOT A HANDY LIST.) When they start the sweeps going after people, don’t call that normal either.

“If [Mr. Trump] wants to deport two to three million people, he’s got to rely on tactics that will divide communities and create fear throughout the country,” said Kevin Appleby, the senior director of international migration policy at the Center for Migration Studies of New York. “He would have to conduct a sweep, or raids or tactics such as those, to reach the numbers he wants to reach. It would create a police state, in which they would have to be aggressively looking for people.”

Fight this police state bullshit; completely refuse to co-operate on any level, and tell your cities and states and schools to do the same. Fight it, fight everything like it, fight everyone who is for it, because in the end there is no middle ground with fascists, with white supremacists, with proud misogynists, because there is no civil discourse with people who have decided that you are not people. In dispensing with the idea of ‘loyal opposition,’ they’ve run themselves all the way to the brink, so far along the crumbling edge of the cliff that they’ve made their with-us-or-against-us vision of the world actually come true.

this is the neofascist “alt-right”‘s vision for you

Ally with anyone who backs off that precipice. Try to peel off the underinformed, the automatic party-identify voters, the low-information, the unaware. Pull back everyone you can. But the true believers, the Trumpian alt-right base?

It’s them, and it’s everybody else. If they can fling us to our deaths off that cliff, they will. And they’ll enjoy it.


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solarbird: (music)

It didn’t take long to put the lie to Mr. Trump’s pleasant victory speech.

The head of Mr. Trump’s domestic-policy transition team is a guy named Ken Blackwell. You’ve heard of him as a GOP officeholder in Ohio, but he’s also with the Family Research Council, an all-out no-holds-barred hate group aimed at LGBT people.

I’ve written a lot about the HRC in the past, on my personal journal, and for mailing lists; Mr. Blackwell personally believes my partner Anna and I are sins against God’s law, that we are worse than “barnyard animals,” and so on. Like Mr. Pence, very much into the whole “torture us into conversion” scene.

The FRC as an organisation supported outlawing us directly, too. And it has a long history of serving as a generator of newtype blood libel screeds asserting… well, anything they can come up with that makes LGBT people look like monsters and demons. They made it their job.

And now, they’re preparing a list of executive orders for Mr. Trump to execute in his first hundred days. A lot of them were items they put in the Republican platform. They include removing as many protections for LGBT people as they can, and bonus points like allowing health care providers to refuse care to queers. Since they’re inside his transition team, they’ll get those executive orders.

At the same time, an allied group, the so-called “National Organisation for Marriage,” looks forward to working with the Trump administration. They’re the biggest, most focused anti-marriage-equality organisation, and were almost dead before now. They plan to work with Mr. Trump to pick “justices [who] will inevitably reverse the anti-constitutional ruling of the Supreme Court imposing same-sex ‘marriage’ on the nation in the Obergefell decision.”

They’re two justices away from that; they’re three away from going after Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down state laws making me illegal. One justice is effectively already in the pocket, thanks to the GOP deciding that they’d only confirm justices within their own party, so really, it’s one away and two away, respectively. And if for some reason you’re not clear on it, Mr. Trump is onboard with this.

NOM call all this “The Plan.” I think it’s kind of hilarious that they’re going with the Cylon motif for a step-by-step route to extermination. But, well, on top of everything else, the Cylons were radical Abrahamic monotheists, so it fits.

Basically, big swaths of domestic policy are being farmed out to the fundamentalist evangelical movement. And that movement quite explicitly wants to wipe me off the face of the planet.

Mr. Trump’s alt-right base is thrilled with all of this, of course. And why wouldn’t they be? After all, they’ve got one of their own leading the transition team, and the author of Arizona’s infamous “Papers Please” law also onboard. And there ain’t no party like an alt-right party ’cause the party don’t stop until they’ve killed everyone. Right now, they’re working on a campaign to terrify and intimidate vulnerable people – mostly women – in the hopes of driving them to suicide. (Pretty much assume every kind of cw on those links, by the way. It’s bad.)

I wasn’t joking, or exaggerating, when I said they’ve declared war upon us.

So. What do we do?

First, survive. Here is a planning document for various targeted groups, in English and Spanish, to try to help people survive the next few years. It’s a work in progress, being updated regularly. I am not the author. There are various things you can do for yourselves that they can’t undo, as long as there is any shred of law left hanging.

But watch for those shreds being stripped away – that’s when things will get extra dangerous. The GOP already spent the last few months ignoring court orders to stop voter suppression in four states; things like that will only get worse for the next couple of years, because like most authoritarians, Mr. Trump is a big believer in personal rule, as opposed to institutional rule, and doesn’t have the slightest fuck to give about law.

Fortunately – and this is the closest to a ray of light I can throw in here – that tendency can be played. Personal rule is all about personal alliances, and Mr. Trump is already keeping enemy lists for the explicit purpose of revenge. Remember that, and keep track of it, because that will be exploitable.

If Mr. Trump makes enough Republican enemies in the Senate – and if the Democratic Party can be convinced, somehow, to stand up against this crap – we’ll be able to limit the damage. And he’s real good at making enemies.

eta: Wow, a transition-team shakeup already? What a clown car. Here’s what NPR is reporting as the new roster as far as we know it. VP-elect Mike Pence (who also professionally and religiously hates LGBT people) is now leading the team entirely (Alt-right -1, fundamentalist right +1), Mr. Bannon has been demoted but only one level, to the executive committee. (Alt-right: no change.) Mr. Thiel of PayPal – who famously wrote that elections are incompatible with “freedom” – is added at the executive team level. (Authoritarian-right +1, I guess?) I’m not seeing Mr. Blackwell anymore but we don’t have a complete roster, maybe he’s just shuffled around in there. I don’t even know. (Possible fundamentalist right, -1.) Ben Carson was also added to the exec team (fundamentalist right, +1, but as they go, not as professionally hateful towards LGBT people as Blackwell.)

eta2: Here’s the complete announcement about the shakeup. I have sent email to the official contact address inquiring about Ken Blackwell. More if and when I have it.

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solarbird: (music)

things i was not, already:

  • a believer that eventually, americans will do the right thing

things i am varying degrees of likely not to be, in two to four years:

  • legally married under American Federal law
  • legal as a person in all American states

things i will almost certainly never get to do now:

  • face an election which is not existential

things i cannot fucking believe, even given all of the above:

  • That the Americans handed the fucking nuclear codes to a violent, racist misogynist with no fucking impulse control whatsoever and a history of talking about using nukes in the middle east.

Watch out for your friends. People of colour, queers, women just in general – post-Brexit, there was a bunch of violence in Britain against the hate targets, and this was very, very much a hate campaign, and it won. Harassment, pretty reprisals, and imtimidation will be endemic.

It was neat watching Mr. Trump read his victory speech off teleprompters, so carefully. If he hadn’t been spewing a constant stream of lies the whole campaign, if I had any reason whatever to believe a single word of it, I’d even think it was nice.

But in this world, if you’re not a straight white man, you’re a target. Wonder Woman the fuck up, because that’s how it’s gonna be; this was a declaration of war.

I popped in on 4chan a few times last night, watching /pol/, and of course they’re ecstatic – and one thing that struck me was yeah, they hate blacks and Jews and anybody else not white enough for them to varying degrees, but even in victory, they really, and I mean really, hate women.

And at the Trump rally last night, what was it, still, in the audience? “Lock her up!” over and over again.

Reprisals against women, large and small – that’s what they’re looking forward to the most. Ending feminists. Ending the “cucks.”

So guess what, kids. We’re all supervillains now.
eta: Anna has a post up, here.

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solarbird: (music)

I was going to write another election post, one that involved phrases to Trump voters like, “be a rationalist for one minute longer, voter, what is your analysis?” – but I just couldn’t.

But I still want to reach out to those mostly straight white guys who don’t understand why queers, people of colour – hell, women in general – are in such fear this election, when they aren’t. And it’s actually pretty simple.

It’s because there are pretty much zero straight white guys for whom this election is existential. That’s the difference, right there. Polling data relayed by indicates that, for heterosexual white men, as a demographic group, this is being seen as a fairly normal election – one with extreme rhetoric and a particular contempt for the Democratic Party’s candidate, but “normal.”

But there are lots of people, including me, for whom Mr. Trump’s stated plans are specifically existential matters. See Mr. Trump’s friendliness with white supremacists combined with the GOP’s plainly racist vote suppression efforts, and Mr. Trump’s history of legally actionable racism. See Mr. Trump’s pledges to jail Ms. Clinton if he’s elected. See Mr. Trump’s pledge to appoint justices only if approved by an organisation which thinks states should be able to make me illegal by fiat. See Mr. Trump’s well-known and continuing contempt for women – and as a blinding nexus of misogyny and racism, can you imagine what the reaction would’ve been to Mr. Obama had he sired five children by three wives, talked about how sexy is daughter was, and bragged about grabbing women’s pussies? Ye gods.

Now, I’m kind of used to every election being existential for me. But one of the things Mr. Trump has done has expand that sphere of targeted groups, and that’s a huge shift. By making the white supremacist and virulently misogynist ~~alt-right~~ a political factor, by making all that awfulness campaignable, he’s extended varying degrees of that horrible state out to pretty much everybody not a straight white guy.

(That speech about the secret cabal of international bankers controlling the world a couple of months ago, that really brought out the anti-Semites. He hit every keyword and phrase short of “dirty Jew” in that one.)

So now everything’s existential all the time, and every election is life or death, is citizen or not, is everything-short-of-bombings political war. And republics do not work when elections become existential.

Oh, they can tolerate it for small enough minorities, as the experience of queers over the last couple of decades shows – but not for large percentages of the population. And thanks to Mr. Trump and his courting of the “alt-right” – and the Republican Party’s general abandonment of the idea of a “loyal opposition” – that’s the path we’re on right now.

So maybe this does come back around to my original theme after all. Where are we? Not just you, whoever is reading this, particularly straight white guys for whom the existential nature of this clusterfuck has not yet come to apply – where are we all?

Look at what’s happened over these last many months. Look at where we are now. A victory by Mr. Trump makes this election – this lunacy – the new normal.

Be a rationalist for one minute longer, would-be Trump voter, and tell me – what is your analysis?

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solarbird: (Lecturing)

I want to write an essay, some of which I’ve written before, the rest of which I have explained in person many times; it’s about how the Republican Party lost the idea of the loyal opposition. But it’s hard to write.

It’s not hard because it’s all that complex; it’s not hard because it’s difficult to explain. It’s just too intimidating, too nerve-wracking in the context of an authoritarian movement wagon-hitched to a misogynistic racist who likes to talk about jailing his political opponents, ordering war crimes, reinstituting torture, throwing nuclear weapons around in the middle east, and still pulling 45% in polls.

It’s not supervillainy; I could, obviously, get behind that. But supervillainy… supervillainy is a whole different story to this kind of raw lust for oppression, this clamour for unrestrained power, and the ending of opposition in any form.

We like to talk big, vampires do. “I’m going to destroy the world.” It’s just tough guy talk. Struttin’ around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You’ve got… dog racing, Manchester United, and you’ve got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It’s all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision. With a real… passion for destruction.

— Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

No, this isn’t supervillainy; this isn’t art. This is the slow, grinding, boot in the face. I mean, sure, almost every election of my adult life is existential to one degree or another; that’s what happens when a political movement decides your existence is an offence to their ravenous, all-consuming god of lust for violence. It’s not fair, and it never gets better, because fundamentalism never gets better, and it grinds.

(A lot more people than usual are feeling that grind this year. Folks, this is every election, for queers. Welcome to the horrible, horrible party. I’m sorry.)

The thing is – this wasn’t inevitable. It was a process, one that started decades ago, with the rise of modern political fundamentalism in the 1970s. They helped get Ronald Reagan elected, changing the course of American politics, launching a long Republican cycle.

But they didn’t get what they wanted out of Reagan. Not really. Sure, they got anti-abortion/anti-equality votes, and they got a government that was perfectly happy to let AIDS kill tens of thousands of queers while they crowed about it as God’s Punishment Upon the Homosexual, a particularly specific plague – if you ignored Africa, which they didn’t care about either – and they got a long-term squeeze put on women’s health. But not what they wanted.

And they’re not stupid; they didn’t get all that much of what they wanted because they didn’t get the real force of the party behind them. So they complained about that, inside the party, and they were told: you’re with us, but you’re not of us, you haven’t put in the work to build the party, like everyone else has. “Put in the work,” they were told, “and you’ll get your turn, just like us.” That’s how party politics works.

So they signed up. They started putting in that work, filling out those volunteer positions, moving up the ladders of power.

But the funny thing about political parties is that they aren’t just workplaces. They’re social environments. They’re clubs. They’re circles of like-minded friends. Arguably, as of late, they’ve been tribes, which is every bad.

The same is true of fundamentalist movements, and – particularly in the American South – churches, which are often the social nexus of smaller communities. They have norms, informed by their beliefs. They have assumptions, and rules, and ideas about themselves and others, and such ideas are contagious.

Now, American evangelical fundamentalism has a long history of being enamoured with the Book of Revelations. They like it about as much as they do the old testament books, particularly those which lay down punishments upon others, like Leviticus. Being obsessed with the end of the world, and the return of Jesus, it’s very attractive.

And back as they were working their way into becoming the GOP – and going into the end of the millennium – they started spending a lot of time on Revelation 3:15-16. You’d hear it on fundamentalist radio, a lot, specifically in religious-political programming. To wit:

(15) I have known thy works, that neither cold art thou nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. (16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

That’s Jesus (or Jesus as channeled by John), if it isn’t clear. The way they’ve taken this – and the way they were teaching this, most specifically in a political context – is that there’s no such thing as moderation. There is no neutral ground, be hot or cold in my mouth, or I will spit you out. You embody fervent support with no upper bound to the fervency – more is always better – or you’re the opposition. Moderation is as bad as opposition to JESUS.

That’s problematic enough before you add in that for these religious evangelical fundamentalists, religiously speaking, opposition is literally Satan himself. And since fundamentalism is all about living your religion, is that religion incorporated into your social life? Oh my yes, absolutely.

That is the social and political culture the fundamentalists brought – already fully formed – into the Republican party. Hot, or cold. Fervently LIVING JESUS, or demonic evil incarnate, with no limits, respite, or quarter morally justified.

And politics are social. It’s also policies, some, sure, but mostly, there’s a lot of who you get on with, and how. As the evangelical fundamentalists moved into the party ranks, and made friends, they brought their culture with them, and those attitudes – well, in a competitive political environment, they’re going to be awfully useful. Awfully useful, and awfully attractive, even if you don’t really believe it.

Which is how you get claims that Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama are literally, personally, demonic entities floated around by people close to the Republican nominee.

Can you imagine – ever – Warriors For God, self-assigned paladins, accepting the literal devil winning an election? Is that ever going to be recognised as legal? As legitimate?

Of course not. There is truly no such thing. And while there’s a good chunk of the GOP that knows better, that genuinely aren’t lying when they say that’s not how they see it…

…that’s still how they react to opposition victory, emotionally, because that’s their social environment now. And the non-fundamentalist Republicans will invent reasons, find rationalisations*. Excuses that would hold absolutely no traction applied to their own tribe become INCONTROVERTIBLE! when applied to the Enemy, and they’ll build up opposition into the evil that is socially necessary to force them to vote for their side’s candidate – even if it’s a candidate they kind of hate.

Myths about Ross Perot costing Mr. Bush an election? Myths about birth certificates and secret homosexuality? Conspiracy theories about mass election thievery where the lack of evidence becomes proof of fraud? All obviously true** in that mindset.

Because Satan. Because pure, unmitigated evil, and all the rage that goes with it, whatever that is. Currently, it’s assigned to Ms. Clinton. But it will be assigned to any opposition leader.

If all this sounds overblown, consider, if you would:

Hillary Clinton faces intense animosity as she approaches White House
The Toronto Star – October 30, 2016

WARRENTON, VA.—”She’s a whore,” said Jim Brewster, a 62-year-old farmer, as he walked into the bakery for some coffee.

“Murderous, rotten, no-good, pious … bitch,” said Waldo Ward, a 60-something retiree, as he left Walmart with Halloween candy for the neighbourhood kids. “She should be taken out and shot. Absolutely.”

“I confess that I’m a Christian, and I shouldn’t hate, but it’s awful close,” said Charles Graves, a smiling 71-year-old recently retired from a career in logistics.

“It’s not like I’m not a Donald Trump fan,” said Rusty Gibson, 47, an electrician. “But it’s like good versus evil.”

It’s like good versus evil.

Because, in their social environment, it is. It is good versus evil. That is the social climate brought to the Republican party by the evangelical fundamentalist movement. Scratch off a couple of layers, and the opposition is Literally. Satan. Because Jesus.

To expect acceptance of opposition victory (on any front), to expect quarter, to expect them not to be mapping out their impeachment proceedings before the election even takes place is naive at best.

How else could a party which claims to participate in a republican form of government talk seriously about a “permanent majority”?

Well, spoiler: it doesn’t. It has to give up on one, or the other, and what they’re giving up on right now is democratic elections. That’s why they’ve nominated a demi-strongman, that’s why they’re forthrightly engaged in massive voter suppression (and being sued in three states and counting)… and that’s why they’re falling back into line behind Mr. Trump.

This is a fantasy; it doesn’t actually happen. Most of Mr. Trump’s rise in the polls
is Republicans abandoning Mr. Johnson and coming home.

And all of that is why the overtly racist, misogynist, and demi-fascist “~~alt-right~~” loves all of this so very, very much. Mr. Trump is a crisis, but Mr. Trump isn’t the crisis. Mr. Trump is a symptom. The cultural implosion that is a religious fundamentalist ethnoparty’s growing abandonment of democratic politics – that is the crisis.

*: There’s a whole ‘nother article to be written about how the recent generalised recognition that people are more likely to rationalise non-rational decisions than make rational decisions to begin with is making it easier to abandon rational decision-making by providing an excuse, an “out,” a reason not to even try to apply rationality. This also feeds into authoritarianism.

**: There’s another ‘nother article to be written about how fundamentalism judges the truth and value of evidence based upon whether it supports pre-existing “Biblical” conclusions; it’s their entire response to empiricism. It’s the core of “scientific Creationism” and “Biblical science,” and everyone else calls it “confirmation bias” but held up as an ideal. Knowing confirmation bias exists in order to compensate for it to see more clearly is one thing; embracing it as the only valid approach to truth is another entirely. But that, too, is an effect of the social and cultural merger of the evangelical fundamentalists and the GOP. Everyone has confirmation bias; fundamentalism turns it into a deep, deep fetish. But, well, neither this nor the immediate above fit here.

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solarbird: (shego-rule?-you?)

I wanted to make a Pharah (from Overwatch) helmet for Halloween. I’ve never worked with armour before, so I went to a workshop at VCON to learn the basics, and started trying to find a design online.

This … sort of exists? I one person who would let you download their pattern for “free” if you signed up to back their Patron for some level, which is not free, and kind of annoyed me. And I found another non-authorised pattern being listed for sale at £35. (Kind of smelling a scam there.)

So I started poking at it myself and wow yeah this is not easy, which explains the paucity of Pharah cosplay I have seen, because damn. I went through a couple of complete-failure papercraft attempts and decided, “okay, I’m gonna wireframe this, by which I mean, with actual wire.” And that got super-frustrating and SOLARBIRD ANGRY! and I kind of quit and then I picked it back up a little later and suddenly it kind of started coming together.


The liftable mask isn’t really right and also wants to be both larger and smaller to be correct at the same time, because fuck you CGI, but it’s… in the neighbourhood. And even wearable! It fits on my head! And stays on!

I cut a couple of papercraft element pieces using the wireframe as a pattern and they are very different to my straight-to-paper attempts, so I wasn’t even close before. I just don’t have an intuitive grasp of how bends in 3-space affect projections into 2-space I guess. So this really is how I’m going to need to do it.

Obviously it’s too late to finish this year, but I think I’ll keep working on it. I’d like to at least get the helmet together, right? That’d be neat.

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solarbird: (molly-feeling-alone-andor-pouting)

I haven’t been posting much lately, and that’s because honestly, I’m just too strung out to do it. 18 days ’till the American elections, and while this is Cascadia, this is American-occupied Cascadia, so I can’t just laugh nervously and hope they don’t invade, they’re already here.

Leannan Sidhe sent me a new song a few days ago, and I’ve learned something: Ab (and all variants) are the Satan of chords for irish bouzouki – at least, in my tuning. It’s so much so that chord charts just skip over it completely. I was all, “…did I miss something? Is it in back for some reason?” NOPE IT’S JUST NOT THERE. Of course, I can come up with a few, but they’re stupidly up the neck and sound wrong in context, or they’re missing important things like, oh, the 5th.

Really, this is one of those cases where having very flexible fingers doesn’t make up for having small hands. Some five-fret reaches, I can just barely make. (See: all F chords.) Some four-fret reaches, though, I can’t – and while the “take G and make it a bar chord” approach is my best shot at getting an Ab that isn’t insane, well, yeah, it hurts.

So, anyway, yeah. I’ve been quiet, because stressed the fuck out, and it won’t be ending real soon. Mr. Trump is most likely going to lose, appears to know it, and appears to be setting up to denounce the result as fraudulent… all so he can corral, I dunno, 20 million of his hard-core alt-right supporters into his new television venture, which will, given what we’ve been seeing, become the new voice of white supremacy and overt misogyny.

It never ends, really, does it. It. never. ends.

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solarbird: (Lecturing)

Whelp, wave one/two are mostly past us, and so far, we’re still up! We had three short outages overnight, but nothing the UPSes couldn’t handle – the longest was about 10 seconds long, nothing actually serious.

Tonight could get dicey in the early afternoon; tomorrow afternoon, though, will be the biggest event. It’s a separate system, we aren’t in some kind of eye; Songda doesn’t have an eye any more, and is continuing to weaken. They’re thinking more “2006” than “1962” at this point, so those winds will most likely top out in the 90-100kph range.

Still, in 2006, we lost power for two days, and neighbours lost theirs for nine. So it’s still to be taken seriously.

I’m still working on a project for some people in Great Big Sea fandom, helping them recover a badly-degraded cassette recording of a concert from 1993. It’s… wow yeah, it’s a mess. Definitely one of those, “I’ve got this to the point where it’s… pretty bad! But here, listen to the original for comparison…” projects. I think I’ve managed to make wide sections of it listenable, in that you can make out lyrics pretty much all of the time now, you can hear choruses, the weird continuous rumble is gone, the particularly fierce for some reason tape hiss is gone, things like that. But damn, the distortion is pretty fierce at times. I’m pretty sure they were overdriving the microphone.

Here’s the plugin stack, from memory:

  • repetitive noise reduction (-18db)
  • low pass filter (more hiss)
  • high pass filter (rumble)
  • 10-band bandwidth-adjustable equalisation (with deeply gnarly settings, this was not a good recording)
  • multi-band compressor (to reduce crowd noise as percentage of signal)
    right about here it starts to sound like a normal, if low-quality, recording
  • second 10-band bandwidth-adjustable equalisation (basic general EQ)
  • second low pass filter (because asymmetrical EQ curves aren’t a thing)
  • standard compressor (oh look something almost normal!)
  • 20-band notch equaliser (fixing dents in the curve, I thought, “let’s try this” and it worked)
  • some very short-duration reverb to hide many remaining sins (waveform smoothing)
  • fast look-ahead limiter on master bus (kind of a circuit breaker, for peak protection, should do absolutely nothing) and done.

It’s kind of a lot. The automation in particular is pretty hilarious – the recorder had automatic recording level adjust and they used it (NEVER USE THAT) and I’m kind of undoing all of that the best I can. I’m also fixing dropouts, stuff like that.

(Seriously, never use automatic recording level, I’m pulling entire lines of songs back out of noise.)

If any audio engineer is reading this: I know. I know. But I can’t combine those EQ passes, I tried – the processing between them matters too much. And of course, this is a no-pay project, because it’s fannish – but I volunteered, and every time I do one of these things, I learn something.

Okay, now we’re getting more power flickers, so let’s post this while we can still echo it around. Adventures!

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solarbird: (molly-braceforimpact)

So apparently we’re being one-two-three-ed by big, and I mean big for us, windstorms over the next week. High wind watch tomorrow, followed by Typhoon Songda (or the remnants thereof, which we’re still talking 75-80kph sustained winds on the coast), then maybe a Tuesday chaser.

And that’s if Songda maintains its current path and doesn’t shift south. If it does – hoo boy. Cliff Mass – a popular weather blogger in Seattle, he’s a research scientist at UW – is describing the Songda as “a highly dangerous windstorm with the potential to be an historic event” which would exceed the worst storm ever to hit here, back in 1962.

Plus, the timing is terrible – mostly, the leaves are still on the trees. That makes them giant sails.

So basically all that combines to mean we’ll probably have to bunker in, lose power, and end up offline for a while. Possibly several days, if Songda moves south a bit. The music page will stay up ( ) throughout, of course, and blog page echoes live here:

Livejournal (complete blog echo)
Dreamwidth (complete blog echo)
Tumblr (partial echo plus have I mentioned korrasami and overwatch?)

And, of course, there’s the band page on Facebook and my Twitter account.

Hopefully we’ll get lucky and it won’t be so bad. Nobody thinks of us as having storms, but boy howdy, we do this time of year, and this is looking to be a bad one – particularly as a combined wave. Wish us luck.

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solarbird: (molly-braceforimpact)

I will, when I see a good one, post about a nice Supervillain Lair up for sale. This is not that, but is still a listing that I’m posting because damn.

‘Unique one of a kind finishing completed by a professional!’ Yes, that professional, I am certain, being Kevin, from Desert Bluffs.

Something very, very wrong happened in Avon, Connecticut.

More suburban hellscape here

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solarbird: boring bit (boring bit)

I’ve been doing some better organisation/re-organisation of file systems around here, particularly on Dropbox which I’ve used historically to store larger files for this blog. I’m pretty sure everything’s okay, but if you notice anything broken – let me know? Thanks.

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solarbird: (molly-oooooh)

VCON starts today! My concert is Sunday afternoon, in the concert block, which starts at 2:30pm. See you at the hotel, I hope!

Minion Paul says I should make the full movie of this Tiltbrush scene I painted into a backdrop for my next online show. You know, have it greenscreened in behind me. 😀

Jem and the Holograms only wish they had this much animation

That’s a narrow crop of the inside of a sphere I made out of animated brush effects. Here’s a movie which makes the ‘sphere’ part a little more obvious. It’s kind of okay in 2D, but totally amazing in a 3D space environment. (Link is to a 33mb mp4.)

You know those Main Street Electrical Parade “ooooooo” buttons some people have? I have those buttons, and this is hitting some of them.

Anyway, yeah! VCON! See you there!

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solarbird: (banzai institute)

The Internet of Things is not a good thing, at least not in its current form. Events like this are why:

Record-breaking DDoS reportedly delivered by >145k hacked cameras
Ars Technica
Dan Goodin – Sep 29, 2016 12:50 am UTC

Last week, security news site KrebsOnSecurity went dark for more than 24 hours following what was believed to be a record 620 gigabit-per-second denial of service attack brought on by an ensemble of routers, security cameras, or other so-called Internet of Things devices. Now, there’s word of a similar attack on a French Web host that peaked at a staggering 1.1 terabits per second, more than 60 percent bigger.

Internet-of-things makers are paying no attention to security, and provide no way for users of these devices to pay attention for them – or to fix them if, somehow, the people who own these devices actually figure out what’s going on. Even realising it’s happening isn’t easy to do; for most people, it’s functionally impossible.

It’s not like you can say, “oh, just put the software in ROM so it can’t be changed ever.” These things are going to send data out, that’s what they’re for, and you have customers be unable to give it a destination for that data.

The part that pisses me off the most is that makers of combination locks have been managing to send out randomised access codes for literally generations, and yet, the makers of these devices are still shipping them with stock passwords. Do you think we at least manage to get up to the safety and security of a middle-school locker Master Lock here? Apparently, no! Not yet.

jfc, 1.1 terabits. It’ll be a terabyte in another two years, all on devices somebody attached to a wall or put in a cabinet and will never look at again until it breaks. I can’t wait ’till we’re being DDOSed by ‘smart’ lightbulbs. What a clusterfuck.

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solarbird: (korra-no-fucking-around)

Minion Paul got a Vive VR headset and we set it up last night. He got decent dual GPUs – not the top of the line we saw at PAX, but solid entry-level VR-compatible GPUs – and it worked really well out of the box on setup! No weirdnesses at all.

And really everything stayed great until SURPRISE HERE’S GlaDOS and c’mon Vive I HAVE A RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST HER FOR A REASON. Okay, fine, pocket universe alternate GlaDOS I guess so technically different but y’know what no EXACTLY THE SAME.

and i did repair that robot. in fact, i made it better. just ’cause SOMEBODY can’t tell “off spec” from “dramatically improved” and SEE THIS IS WHY WE BROKE UP TO BEGIN WITH.

the rest of it is pretty awesome though.

Sadly, trying to get desktop streaming to work from Linux is still in large part No. I got the desktop streaming on video just fine! But no sound. And while okay that might work for art, it’s pretty pointless if you’re trying to stream, you know, music as you work. :/

(Vive 1, Ubuntu -5,253,142.)

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solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)

Don’t use Portland Taxi. No, wait, bear with me, this ties into what’s going on tonight, but first, from KATU Portland:

A Portland man says a [Portland Taxi] driver pulled out a bull horn and yelled anti-gay slurs at him and his friends outside a bar this week.

KATU News also reached out to the company and was told the driver was exercising his First Amendment rights and there would be no disciplinary action. They ended the call by telling our reporter: “If the gays don’t want to use our company, that’s better for us.”

A KATU News employee also had a negative experience with this cab driver last March.

After giving this employee a ride home from the airport, he refused payment and told our employee he should be in jail because he was gay.

Tonight, there’s a debate in the US presidential elections, with a couple of people on stage. One of them, the Republican nominee, has pledged to sign something the fundamentalists are calling “The First Amendment Defense Act.”

What that does is provide organisations immunity to civil rights laws for hating on queers, if they’re either nonprofit, or do business with the US Federal Government. So, say, denying hospital visitation for dykes? NO PROBLEM! The Salvation Army throwing homeless queers onto the streets to die for being queer, as they have done in the past? NO PROBLEM!

On its face, it’s intended to look like it’s only providing immunity for hating on married queers – and that’s how it’s presented – but the combination of marriage-is-for-st8s-only and no-sex-outside-marriage means all queers.

So stuff like this? Say, you’re in hospital, and they want to throw that at you? Protected.

It’s a “right” to abuse. It’s a “right” to arbitrary cruelty. Particularly if the targets are queer.

And that’s only the first layer that affects me directly.

Mr. Trump pledged, earlier in this campaign, that he would nominate only justices approved by the Heritage Foundation. The Heritage Foundation is a right-wing think-tank/pressure group which thinks I should be illegal for existing, and have at this very moment online their opinion that Lawrence v. Texas (2003) was wrongly decided, and should be overturned.

Since most of you won’t know what that means: it’s the US Supreme Court decision that said states couldn’t make queers illegal by fiat. The Heritage Foundation want that decision reversed.

You’ve heard about the long, brutal history of African-Americans keeping lists of where they couldn’t go in their own country, because it was illegal for them to be there?

I’ve kept the queer version of that list myself. I got rid of it after Lawrence v. Texas (2003). I burned a reference to it as part of new year’s celebrations, where you burn horrible things.

If the Heritage Foundation has its way – and Mr. Trump pledged to give them their way – I’ll have to rebuild that list, and I don’t want to have to build that list again.

And that’s just what I’m facing as a dyke. Virtually every election I’ve ever witnessed has been some kind of referendum on whether I’m a legal person – ever done ground work, going door to door, arguing with people why they shouldn’t vote to make you illegal? I have, and it sucks – and in that way, this election is no different.

The hate is just a lot more broadly aimed this time.

So I’m not watching the debate tonight. It’s bad enough being reminded every two to four years that about half the country is just fine voting to lock me up. This whole thing is yet another referendum on my existence, so why the fuck would I subject myself to that?

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solarbird: (molly-crying-sad)

C. Martin Croker died. What the hell, 2016?

Who is C. Martin Croker? He’s done a lot of animated comedy, he might be most famous for Aqua Teen Hunger Force, but for me, he’s the one, the only Zorak from Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Adult Swim before there was Adult Swim, the musical evil villain and resentful second banana we needed and Space Ghost deserved.

He was 54. Godsdammit 2016. Stop.

Green is the colour of my true love’s exoskeleton
she only has
a thousand eyes
for me

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