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Member since: Sat Mar 29, 2008, 09:11 PM
Number of posts: 45,851

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The Man Who Would Be Kzin..

A novella by Greg Bear and SM Stirling set in Niven's Known Space during the Man Kzin wars..

How does humanity infiltrate a spy into an alien civilization that looks and acts very different from humans?

Read the story here:


It's his position against the drug war that makes Ron Paul so volcanically controversial here on DU.

All of the Republican candidates are about equally vile really, at the least they are homophobic and most of them are at least closet racists. Huntsman is the only possible exception and he's so little known that we have little evidence either way on him.

No, it's because Paul makes Democrats and specifically Obama look bad on the drug war that drives a great deal of the sheer vitriol against him, without that position he would be just another jerkoff Republican candidate.

All the other Republican candidates come in for vitriol too, but it's clear that Paul gets extra special attention.

No other government policy is remotely as racist as the drug war and Democratic politicians, just like Republican ones, support it vehemently almost to a man, the exceptions can be counted quite possibly without taking off your shoes.

The prisons are swollen to overflowing, millions of lives have been ruined, heavily disproportionately the lives of people of color, brown and black, the evidence is as overwhelming for this as for the "theory" of evolution and Democrats continue to support it vigorously.

Whatever his other faults may be, and I'm certainly not denying Paul has numerous serious faults, on this particular subject Ron Paul is the little boy pointing out the fact that the Emperor is naked.

Learned an interesting and handy new term the other day, kind of the opposite of unobtainium..

Scrapbinium.. Basically you make stuff out of whatever is in the scrap bin, I've built a considerable number of things with that remarkably protean substance.

I spent a lot of my working career fixing the unfixable, orphan (but expensive to replace) equipment where the manufacturer has long since gone out of business, parts, diagrams, schematics and information simply don't exist so you do whatever it takes. A lot of times it took just the right bit of scrapbinium and some reverse shade tree engineering.

Just seemed like a good thing to share with fellow frugalists..

The frugal way to do TV...

In much of the country, particularly in metro areas, you can pick up a great deal of TV programming over the airwaves for free.

A lot of people seem to have gotten the idea that you have to have cable or satellite in order to watch TV, this is not true, free over the air TV is still available. In a lot of cases there are many more channels than before the digital switchover, some stations actually carry half a dozen or so separate channels.

What may surprise you if you have an HDTV is that the over the air signal you get direct from the station can often have a much better picture than the one you get from cable or satellite unless you are paying considerable extra for the HDTV cable/satellite box (even with that it's not on all the channels).

All you need is a TV with an ATSC tuner (digital) or a converter box for older TVs that don't have the digital tuner, the other thing you will need is an antenna, it's the antenna that's really important here so that's what I'm going to tell you about. Just about all the flatscreen TVs these days have the right tuner so it's not a big worry unless you have an older tube style TV.

If you would like to know what broadcast TV channels are available at your particular location there is a website for that..


When you use the site enter your address and it will give you a radarish looking display that tells you what direction the stations are from you and how strong they are, the chart below is of a fairly fringe location, lots of stations but most of them are hard to get because they are weak due to it being at the bottom of a valley, you would need an outdoor antenna for most of the stations on this chart. Channel 51 is the strongest station since its line comes closest to the center of the display. In some cases you can move just a hundred yards or so and get a much better signal, TV signals are mostly line of sight and are strongly dependent on terrain. There's about ten or fifteen stations that you have a good chance of getting in this location without extreme measures.

I'm going to put up another post on this OP to talk about antennas..

Put a switch on my electric water heater, now I only turn it before I'll need really hot water..

One good tank (mine is only 10 gallons) stays warm for most of the day for purposes like hand washing and rinsing greasy dishes, it takes about 25 minutes for the water to warm all the way so between my shower and the rest of my hot water use I have the switch on about an hour a day on average.

It was really pretty easy, I broke one leg of the circuit going to my water heater, spliced in some Romex (house wiring) with some wire nuts and ran it to the switch I have mounted on the side of my kitchen counter. I happened to have a salvaged high grade wall switch I used but any switch rated for the voltage and amperage would have worked.


Wire nut..

I also used a residential junction box for the switch..

Ralph Nader's worst nightmare?

I can get ready to format a drive in about ten seconds in Windows, even faster than that in DOS..

I've now spent nearly two hours in Ubuntu trying to figure out how to format a USB drive..

The Ubuntu Software Center tells me I have Disk Utility installed but search as I might I cannot find it on my system, every reference I can find through Google eventually devolves into some incomprehensible gobbledegeek which might as well be in Minoan as far as my ability to get anything out of it.

I'm not even going into trying to get a DOS box running for some old legacy software I use sometimes because it just does the particular job I need.

I've been doing computers since before the days of DOS and maybe Linux is just beyond my geek tolerance level.

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