jc blog - tales of a modern-day nomadic hunter-gatherer

Follow jcomeau_ictx on Twitter This is the weblog of Intrepid Wanderer. You never know what you might find here; graphic descriptions of bodily functions, computer programming secrets, proselytizing for the antichrist, miscellaneous ranting and kvetching, valuable information on living off the land... if you don't share my rather weird interests you may want to try slashdot instead.

You can consider my Del.icio.us links an extension to my blog, as are my LifeTango goals and my other to-do items. My to-buy list is also public, but only for sharing any useful ideas that might be there; I'm not requesting charity, neither do I offer it.

You can find me easily in google searches, as jcomeau, jcomeau_ictx, or jcomeauictx. There are lots of other jcomeaus, but AFAIK I'm the only jcomeau_ictx out there so far.

If you want to comment on anything you see here, try the new Facebook comments, reachable by clicking the "[comment]" link at the end of each post. If for some reason that isn't working, go ahead and email me, jc.unternet.net. You know what to do with the first dot. Make the 'subject' line something reasonably intelligent-looking or it goes plunk! into the spambasket unread.

This RSS feed may or may not work. Haven't fiddled with it in forever. RSS Feed


some years ago my iTouch started crashing on certain webpages. then I pretty much stopped using it for the web when I got my Android tablet. but recently I started looking into the iPod problem again, and some months ago figured out that the crash occurred on certain characters, such as the airplane icon often found in email subject lines, and some Japanese characters.

today I found out about the -u option that can be used to pass a URL to MobileSafari, and used it from the command line to point to a test HTML page I had set up with a Hiragana character on it to test the crash. I got the error:

FT New Face failed for '/System/Library/Fonts/Cache/HiraginoKakuGothicProNW3.otf': error 1.
Bus error

I found the missing file in /var/mobile/tmp; I apparently had moved it there long ago for some reason. moved it back where it belonged, and MobileSafari no longer crashes on my test page. [comment]


since this tired old argument comes up every election, I might as well start rebutting what I can:

"Voting in a political election is unethical. The political process is one of institutionalized coercion and force. If you disapprove of those things, then you shouldn’t participate in them, even indirectly."

sure, the political process is one of coercion and force. but will my failure to participate diminish that force in any significant amount? does not the preexistence of this coercion justify exercising some violence in my own defense? I will not lie down and let the system run me over. I will fight, however ineffectively, with whatever tools are at my disposal. the ballot box is one of those tools.

"Voting compromises your privacy. It gets your name in another government computer database."

the same information that is already in hundreds of other databases. not a convincing argument. privacy is water over the dam at this point.

"Voting, as well as registering, entails hanging around government offices and dealing with petty bureaucrats. Most people can find something more enjoyable or productive to do with their time."

not any more, not for years now. everything is either done online or by snailmail; rarely has voting taken more than an hour or two every election, including the time to study the candidates and issues.

"Voting encourages politicians. A vote against one candidate—a major, and quite understandable, reason why many people vote—is always interpreted as a vote for his opponent. And even though you may be voting for the lesser of two evils, the lesser of two evils is still evil. It amounts to giving the candidate a tacit mandate to impose his will on society."

similarly, not voting encourages them, perhaps even more. a sign of apathy, acceptance of the status quo, gives them leave to take a few more steps in the direction of enslavement of the people. I say a protest vote is more effective than nonparticipation. vote for someone principled, a third party or independent, even if he has no chance of winning. if nobody is principled, vote on some nonpolitical item on the ballot, such as voting down a tax increase or bond issue, and leave the political offices blank. that leaves a record that you actively abstained rather than just stayed home. if not of that is applicable in your state, and no write-in is possible (you can write in NONE OF THE ABOVE), just scribble something like THEY ALL SUCK on the ballot, voiding it, and mail it in or drop it in the box anyway. again, it's active defense rather than passive acceptance. Lysander Spooner, certainly no slacker in anarchist thought and action, in No Treason: The Constitution of No Authority, condoned if not advocated for voting as an act of self-defense.

"Your vote doesn’t count. Politicians like to say it counts because it is to their advantage to get everyone into a busybody mode. But, statistically, one vote in scores of millions makes no more difference than a single grain of sand on a beach. That’s entirely apart from the fact that officials manifestly do what they want, not what you want, once they are in office."

this amounts to a "hail Mary" pass. if none of the other arguments convinced me, void them all with this one and try and shame me with mathematical statistics. it's pretty lame, but I can agree that my vote doesn't count and still use that ballot as a way to strike back, in even some infinitesimal way, at an obscene and treacherous system. and I can try and convince others to do the same. you anarchists who refuse to vote may criticise me with smug self-righteousness, but the ruling class sees your nonparticipation as a "ho-hum" rather than the "up yours" you intended. [comment]


of the plants I posted to Facebook's Plant Identification forum today, two were identified: the succulent grapevine on Altamirano, Cissus rotundifolia, and the goosefoot on Constitución, probably Chenopodiastrum murale. [comment]


so today on my way into Home Depot, a dog bites my hand to steal the bread I had in it. I pick the bread back up before he can get it, and kick the little bastard. what, did God hang a big "kick me" sign on my back for the whole world to see?

I have to admit, it was a gentle bite, didn't draw blood, just enough to accomplish his aim of getting me to drop the food. [comment]


on Constitución the other day, walking to Ley for groceries, I found some more of the Chenopodium I'd seen on south Revolución a week or three ago. there was also the local Amaranth, desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua), Boerhavia diffusa, in short most of the usual suspects, plus a few others I haven't yet identified. no idea why the growth is so lush there, it's apparently as dry as anywhere else in this desert town. [comment]


note to self: PowerMonkey USB cable is type A to 3.5/1.1mm plug, Vertex VX-7R power plug is 4.0/1.7mm. always takes me a while to dig this info up on the web for some reason, so caching it here. [comment]


so no wonder the water softener wasn't working: the installer never bothered to install the inserts on either end of the brine line, and the ferrule was just barely hanging on to the brine tank end. everything was loose. a complete botch job. if you want anything done right, gotta learn how to do it yourself. #TIL those red E-shaped plastic clips are indeed a part of the system, and not just something for stabilizing it during shipping. [comment]


finally got around to upgrading my own netbook for the recent vulnerability. I got the dreaded error: Unpacking libc6-dev-amd64 (2.21-9) over (2.19-17) ... dpkg: error processing archive /var/cache/apt/archives/libc6-dev-amd64_2.21-9_i386.deb (--unpack):
trying to overwrite '/usr/include/sys/xattr.h', which is also in package libc6-dev-i386:amd64 2.21-9

tried various combinations of installing and removing packages with no success, then finally: sudo apt-get -t stable -f install. it worked.

whew. [comment]


some young guy, 20ish, apparently came over the rear wall and opened the back door by the kitchen. I was at my computer. I didn't expect anybody back there, so went to investigate, and there he was, a black ski mask over his face, making motions as if he had a gun. I thought he was bluffing, but in any case me made no motion to attack, so I just kept yelling at him to leave. at the same time I was yelling to another occupant to bring me the gun. he finally climbed up the front trellis over the wall. I asked at the taco stand a few minutes later, a young lady had seen him jump over the wall and then fall.

just another day in the peaceful, sleepy town of La Paz. [comment]


so on that WordPress debugging job: ended up finding the code in question, that set FAILEDINITAMTACTION to CancelOnFailure, in two different "plugins", s2member-pro and optimizeMember-pro. neither of which showed up as editable in anything I could find in the wp-admin menus.

so I had my client make a new backup of plugins using updraft, and I downloaded it, extracted the zipfile, edited the 4 files (2 from each plugin that had the problem -- I didn't, and still don't, know which was being used, and I really don't care) to change CancelOnFailure to ContinueOnFailure, and uploaded and restored. it wouldn't let me upload at first, I had to rename my re-zipped file to be in the same naming convention that updraft used. luckily the hex number at the end wasn't significant; I was worried it might be a checksum and I'd have to figure out how it was created.

anyway, did a test transaction, and the s2member logs showed the setting properly changed to ContinueOnFailure. so I think it worked. but I doubt I'll be bidding on WordPress jobs even so; it's still an ugly system. content management is fine, but separate that from the revision control, and for fuck's sake use the filesystem as God intended. [comment]


the propane-butane adaptor I made isn't working well at all. tonight I had a flare-up where it was leaking and it could have been bad. switched back to my last butane canister and finished cooking my meal (biscuit), but tomorrow I'm going to have to figure out something different.

a few days ago, noticed demolition work is being done at La Bartola. I hope those guys get established again. that was a pleasant place with good food.

been thinking on and off about what kind of business can be started with just what grows locally. seafood of course; maybe some kind of processed fish cakes out of the non-commercial fish that is always being harvested. flash-frozen and shipped worldwide. edible seaweed; there's lots of it here. castor beans grow in the big arroyo out behind Wal-Mart. also a few naturalized species of tomato. there are two native tobacco plants here as well, coconut palms seem to thrive, devil's claw can be gathered and pickled where it grows on beaches... plenty to think about. [comment]


my propane hookup to the butane grill is a little scary. if I leave the propane valve open for more than a minute or so, I keep hearing a clanging noise and the hiss of gas escaping. I have to keep turning the valve off and on again. the stove of course has its own regulator but there is no regulator between the tank and the modified canister I'm using to feed the gas into the stove. [comment]


5/32" internal diameter vaccum hose, part number 56111 at AutoZone, 10 pesos a foot. good stuff. I used it to make my Dromedary bag into a usable ear irrigator, to fix my bicycle pump, and just now to convert my butane stove to work with a 5-gallon propane tank. barring any unforeseen accidents, I won't have to buy any more of those little disposable butane tanks for at least the rest of this winter.

the guys at the AutoZone on the east end of town, 5 de Febrero and Isabela la Católica, were all studiously ignoring me, preferring to stand by the door rather than help anybody. so I just went behind the counter and cut myself off 3 feet, then went up to the cashier and told him the part number and length. paid and was on my way.

ran out of bids at Upwork, so signed up at Guru.com and placed some bids. after getting home from the crosstown trip to AutoZone, found I had 2 jobs. now to get busy. [comment]


turns out I couldn't solder to a stainless steel bolt. but I could braze a drop of alloy to it, and solder to that. [comment]


the Upwork time tracker app stopped working after the openssl upgrade the other day. I was getting the error [0210/123447:WARNING:nss_ssl_util.cc(359)] Unknown SSL error -12218 mapped to net::ERR_SSL_PROTOCOL_ERROR. the Upwork help staff said they escalated it to engineering, but no progress had been made in a week or so, so I googled it again and found the solution in Upwork's forums: downgrade libnss3 from 2:3.21-1. using apt-cache showpkg libnss3 I found the version 2:3.17.2-1.1+deb8u2, so then: sudo apt-get install libnss3=2:3.17.2-1.1+deb8u2 libnss3-1d=2:3.17.2-1.1+deb8u2 worked, and fixed the problem. [comment]


in my morgentraum I was reading about spiders that would poison people just enough so that they'd remain housebound, presumably so that they (the spiders) could continue sucking blood out of them indefinitely, and/or lay eggs in them. one big problem the arachnids had was when visitors would enter; they'd have to bite them quickly so that they couldn't panic and leave as soon as they figured out what was going on. [comment]


you can ignore the Natural Born Citizen phrase all you want, but the founders put that in there for a reason, which you can Google if you so desire. if you make Ted Cruz or Mario Rubio president, doubling down on the mistake of making Barack Obama president, what's to stop president Xi of China having a son with an American wife, who then gets floated by the CFR as our next puppet-in-chief? and on the Republican ticket, one of Putin's daughters? can you perhaps see some potential for divided loyalties?

as an anarchist, I don't respect nation states or borders anyway, but I have to admit that, pragmatically, having even the shell of a constitutional republic to call home gives me at little sense of protection from tyranny. if people continue to let the crooks in Washington, DC have their way with impunity, though, even that shell will dissolve into nothingness. [comment]


silver showing some signs of life lately as it approaches 15 dollars an ounce again. I've seen so many promising 1-2-3 bottom formations over the past years though, each one looking like the beginning of a bull market, only to see the poor horny bastard get slaughtered right out of the pen.

there has to come a time when the pressure builds up so high that none of the usual suspects will be able to keep their thumb over the vent hole any more. at that point the hyperbolic curve that showed itself in '05, '07, and last in '09-'10, could drive the price up into the hundreds in a few short months. but I've been disappointed too many times already to have much hope that this is the time. [comment]


in my dream early this morning, I was sitting at an outdoor table at a Starbucks, which had an exercise mechanism built in. I'd pull ropes towards each other, and the seat would lift up with me on it. of course, now I'm thinking about how that could be used in a kinetic contraption... [comment]


we don't get winter in La Paz. instead we get a few days of late autumn, and in a few weeks a few days of early spring, interspersed with the otherwise endless summer. today is one of the former. it reminds me of the tragic November day I lost my father; that day in Boylston I went riding through the wind-whipped streets of Boylston looking for my friend Larry Ingram, with whom I had lost touch years before; the day in the New Jersey park with the person who would participate in an 18-year tragicomic experience with me called "marriage". such days as today are not good for me. [comment]

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