Here Comes Buster!

It’s been a while since I upgraded to a new version of Debian GNU/Linux but the opportunity arrived last month. I waited until today, being bored out of my mind by endless Trumpisms, news-cycles and the weather. I’d been putting the upgrade off thinking I did not want to deal with any breakage. Finally, I did the deed. It was boring until I rebooted. GRUB (GRand Unified Bootloader) could not find anything. I poked around for hours not finding any way to tweak it. Finally, in desperation, I told the ancient, clunky, BIOS to reorder the hard drives from largest to smallest… Damn! It worked! Somehow the new version of GRUB could not deal with the mess my Beast’s storage is. There was one other glitch. MySQL would not run. There were no sensible messages in the logs or from “systemd”. The status was active (exited), whatever that means. I did coax out one error message about an obsolete setting in a configuration file and deleted it. Still it would not start. In desperation, I stopped the “exited” mysql and started it. That worked. Damn! I hate systemd.

Oh well. After updating thousands of packages I have a brand new OS and applications all humming along wonderfully. It’s beautiful music.

UPDATE: After trying to use some other applications, I discovered apparmor has been added to the mix. Now the system is like TOOS (That Other OS) in wanting to restrict permissions on many applications. Sigh. Now I have to dance a jig to get files downloaded from the web deposited in the folder of my choice. I can’t by default download to /var/myfolder/x, for instance. I can’t even browse much of the file-system. Have to look into this. It’s not very helpful. Many desktop applications can’t browse to /home/pogson/whatever, for instance, because / is protected, despite my owning the files/directories in which I want to write or even read. I tried using apparmor-utilities supplied with Debian but I could not get them to just warn instead of deny access. However, /tmp is allowed so I have a work-around and a bit of editing of /etc/apparmor/apparmor.d fixed the access to my /home/directory. Sigh…

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Myths About EVs

Chuckle. While those in the know have long since overcome their fears of EVs, many still cling to these:

“Hyundai UK commissioned a study about people’s attitudes toward electric car. The biggest reason people don’t buy electric cars is still range anxiety.”
See Hyundai UK Explodes 10 Common Myths About Driving An Electric Car

  • Range anxiety
  • Where to charge
  • Electric cars are too expensive
  • Electric cars are too sluggish
  • You can’t drive an electric car in thunderstorm or through a car wash
  • There aren’t enough electric car models on the market
  • EV batteries wind up in landfills
  • Electric cars aren’t safe
  • Roadside assistance can’t help with electric cars
  • Electric cars don’t have enough performance

Nope. None of those are true today. The last one to die was the one about not enough models. That may have been true a couple of years ago but now just about every maker of ICEd vehicles also makes EVs. There are several makers who only make EVs. The sticker price may still be a little high but when you consider total cost of ownership, it’s no contest. EVs cost less to power and less to maintain and they last longer. ICEd engines last about 1000h of operation for gasoline and 2000h for diesel but electric motors can run continuously for decades. Well, maybe they need new bearings once in a while but that’s a very quick operation, not “rebuilding”. Performance? Chuckle… I can still remember the thrill of the old electric trolley buses with people having to lean into the acceleration. That was always a myth.

So, go ahead. Buy and drive an EV. You won’t regret it.

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The Hunt, 2019

Once more deer season came and went. We didn’t hunt with muzzle-loader this year. My buddy’s not into that… So, we went out into the cold and laid in wait with those new-fangled brass cartridges. The first day was bitterly cold and windy so I stayed home. My buddy got a young buck around middle of the day.

A few days later, it was Friday but we saw nothing. It was bitterly cold. The next good weather was a weekend so the area would be crawling with weekend warriors, and we passed. Finally, on Monday, we had warm enough temperature and light winds so off we went. The morning was uneventful except that my gloved hand grew cold enough to need a chemical hand-warmer, the rusting iron type, date-expired in 2014. That made me comfortable and the fingers flexible. My buddy saw a doe come right up to us but I saw nothing as it was on an edge hidden by the trunk of a thick poplar. A flock of chickadees also buzzed across the opening we were guarding.

The afternoon had settled in a bit when I saw a distant form glide across the opening. It was about 200 yards away and I saw through the scope of my 308 what looked like a mature doe. I was cold enough that I didn’t want to wait longer for a larger buck… Unfortunately, I had in the chamber a 180 RN bullet so I paused to eject that and chamber a 165 BTSP, more effective at that range. Unfortunately the deer had moved all the way across the opening and I could not see it in my scope. My buddy spotted it and picked it off with a 7mm Remington Magnum with 150 SP. The deer ran back across the opening and disappeared. We waited a decent interval then found a fire-hose-like trail of blood with the deer about 20 yards from where it was hit, quite bled out.

Again it was a young buck with antlers very tiny and weighing perhaps 200 pounds. It was likely a fawn last year. The bullet made a classic hit through the boiler room, nicking the heart. The guts were empty so it likely was out having brunch. It’s hanging in the garage now waiting to be butchered. The first deer sent about 20 pounds of meat through a new electric grinder. I’ve eaten some burgers of that and it’s delicious.

So, again I did not shoot a deer although I came very close. The deer season ends this week and we’re having a spot of very mild weather. That changed the movements of the deer the opposite of what we’re used to at that spot, moving left to right heading out to the fields instead of coming into the forest right to left. Also, “stop, look and listen” was replaced by walking on. It’s all good. The deer are still a bit of a challenge and food in the freezer. Clearly, numbers have increased greatly after three years of bucks-only licensing.

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You Can Cut Through Anything…

“the Post reported that smugglers have been using reciprocating saws to cut through the steel and concrete portions of the wall, creating openings wide enough for people and drugs to be smuggled through.
The agents told the Post the saws can cut through the bollards in a matter of minutes. Engineers told the newspaper that because of the height of the bollards, which are between 18 to 30 feet tall, it’s easier to push the steel out of the way to pass through the other side.
Trump said he hadn’t heard reports about cutting through the border wall, but, he added, “you can cut through anything.””
See Washington Post: Border agents say smugglers in Mexico are sawing through parts of Trump’s border wall
One of the objections to The Great Wall Of Trump was that it would not work. Well, now that a few miles of it have been built, replacing old wall, smugglers routinely saw through it. We told the folks who voted for Trump that would happen. Does USA really want to spend $billions more on a wall as an exercise?
I don’t think so. Instead of letting smugglers raise their prices they should fire Trump. It would be worth it.

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Canadian Election Results

The election results are nearly finalized and this seems to be the result:

  • Lieberals 157 seats 33.1% of the vote 4.74 seats/%
  • Conservatives 121 seats 34.4% of the vote 3.52 seats/%
  • BQ 32 seats 7.7% of the vote 4.16 seats/%
  • NDP 24 seats 15.9% of the vote 1.51 seats/%
  • Green 3 seats 6.5% of the vote 0.46 seats/%

Clearly, our democracy is not working very well when a party can obtain government having fewer votes than another and when representation varies so much per vote. The Greens, my party, grew their vote dramatically yet only added a couple of seats. Even the Cons should be grumpy. They got the most votes but have no chance of forming a government. At least it will be a minority government that has to choose between the BQ which does not claim to be a Canadian national party and the NDP which are closer aligned with the Greens than the Lieberals.

All of these parties claim to be “green” yet the Lieberals promised to deliver proportional representation and did not and promised to help Alberta sell more oil at a higher price… There was a time when I thought a pipeline to the Pacific would be a good idea but that was a mistake. Plate tectonics and pipelines don’t mix. Heavy oil is good for making asphalt roads and plastic, not fuel.

So, the politicians will hem and haw and come up with “solutions” which don’t solve any problem and we will have yet another election where minorities reign over the land.

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The Battle For Freedom In Schools Continues

“Six years ago, my school district faced a problem common to all public school leaders: not enough money to bring powerful learning technology to students.So we chose a different way — the open source way — and as a result, we’ve saved our technology budget more than $1 million.But the cost savings are just the beginning. More importantly, our decision to adopt 4,000 Linux-powered laptops empowered our students in remarkable ways.Here at Penn Manor School District, we’ve gained much more by using Linux and other open source software. And by infusing open principles and practices into our learning environment alongside open technologies, we’ve cultivated a vibrant and inclusive learning community for all students.”See: High schoolers in charge? How one school gave up control and won It’s been a while since I blogged about the OS-wars but it continues. Here’s a school where students are free to learn to use IT instead of how to become customers of monopolists. I love it. Young people should be free to run, examine, modify and distribute software just as I have for decades. It’s the right way to do IT.

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I Love Efficiency

I don’t know when I fell in love with efficiency. Probably it was about the eighth grade when I discovered ratio and proportion allowed one to buy more for less money.

Anyway, we are anchored to motor-vehicles because we live in cities designed around those vehicles. Can’t live close to work or shopping because of “zoning”/land-use policies. Can’t live outside cities without having “wheels”. So, why not buy the most transportation for the dollar? Tesla cares about efficiency for theirs are about the most efficient vehicles on the market, except for my favourite, the Solo.

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Impeachment Of POTUS For Fun And Profit

“Fun and Profit” is a way of saying some procedure is cute or attractive. Everyone loves fun and everyone loves profit, assuming it’s you having the fun and profiting… Today, the Democratic Party of USA is having fun and profiting from talking about, breathing about and inquiring about impeachment. It’s cute. The constitution empowers the House of Representatives to draw up articles of impeachment and the Senate to consider removing POTUS from office on the basis of those articles. At the moment, the scroll of impeachable offenses is very long but complicated. It just got simpler. Trump boasted that he did bully the president of Ukraine over military aid for helping foster a conspiracy theory about a leading Democratic candidate but claims he has that power and it wasn’t wrong to usurp Congress’ power to allocate funding for military aid and to invite foreign campaign contributions of “a thing of value”… It doesn’t get much better than that. Opinion polls show the public does watch the news if not congressional debate.

So, we are in an interesting time when the Ds can taste blood and even some Rs can see the writing on the wall. Where will it end?

I’m of two minds: on the one hand, I like the idea of the Ds competing against a corrupt party lead by a bumbling, ignorant idiot, and on the other hand, Trump could do a lot of damage in  the coming year and a bit… He could also do a lot of damage if impeached and/or removed from office. He won’t go away soon unless, as one rep opined, he should be locked up in solitary confinement. I’d like to see that or worse. I’d like to see RICO applied to the whole rotten bunch, but I’ll hang on waiting for every pin, grenade or cannon-shot to fall. I’ll keep the popcorn coming.

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Sunshine, Flowers, Bees and Me

Last spring I accepted an offer of sunflower seeds to help the bees. Here is my result: 50% of the seeds grew and this week they actually flowered. They should have done so back in July, but here are the bees making use of them. The bee in the picture is a wild bee, not a honeybee. It’s collecting nectar and pollen from the outer florets of this compositae.

UPDATE Upon further research I’m not entirely sure the bees in the photo are wild bees. They do resemble Apis mellifera, honeybees, but it’s hard to be sure because they are dusted with pollen. I’ll just state they should not be honeybees because it’s illegal to keep farm animals in this region… I don’t see any hives in the vicinity but they could have flown a mile or two to find my sunflowers or be escaped honeybees that managed to survive our winter. Nevertheless, there are more of them today and plenty of butterflies, on the last warm day in the two-week forecast.

The butterflies are called “Painted Ladies” but Manitoba calls the larva, “Thistle Caterpillars“. Apparently, the larvae feed on thistles, of which I have a few, and sunflowers like mine. I think the butterflies are pretty and anything that eats my weeds is welcome.

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The Future (of EVs) Is Next Year

“At the Tesla Autonomy Event in April, Elon Musk said the Disruptors of Detroit were working on a new battery pack that would last a cool million miles, and said it would be available next year. Now Tesla battery research partner Jeff Dahn and his team have released a paper in which they describe this million-mile battery cell.”
See Tesla battery experts describe million-mile cell in new paper
A lot of developments of lithium storage cells have been made in the last few years. It’s obvious to many of us that batteries are a key element of managing the cost and performance of electric vehicles. Well, the usual story is that such developments will move from the lab to the factory in a few years. Apparently, Tesla has been successful in moving stuff through the laboratory phase in the past few years and predicts next year will be the year that we can all forget about expensive and unreliable batteries for our EVs. The costs and storage capabilities of the new technology is remarkable: an order of magnitude more charge-discharge cycles, tolerance for deep discharges and full charges, and good performance over a wide range of temperatures. What more could one want?

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Promises Not Kept

Trump likes to repeat endlessly that he’s kept his promises. In the theme of his sycophants, “What about…?”:

The damned wall. Remember, he promised Mexico would pay for it. Well, today, he’s stealing money Congress authourized to pay for needed military construction like schools and day-care centres for military bases. Even Mitch McConnell is annoyed. One of the schools is in his state. Remember how Trump claimed to support “his military”? I guess that doesn’t apply to the wives, families and children of the military. They serve too. Why don’t they count?

Bringing back manufacturing jobs… Well, they just are not coming back. Even Obama did a better job than Trump on this one. Let’s face it. Tariffs hurt manufacturers who depend on long supply chains to keep things moving. If that supply chain costs more, fewer workers are hired and fewer factories are built. It’s just math/logic, something that Trump missed in school apparently.

Then, there’s the deficit. Remember, Trump’s Republicans promised the tax cuts for the wealthy would pay for themselves and pay down the debt. The deficit is now larger than Obama’s and it’s growing. The children’s children will not be able to pay down this debt, which Trump loves. How many loyal supporters are going to be able to do this math? Enough.

Trump is nailing his own coffin shut from the inside. Good. He and the Repulicans, the Party of Pigs, can go to Hell.

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Tree-Hugger Me

I used to make fun of “tree-huggers” but now I am one: I voted Green, I’ve planted hundreds of trees, some of which are still alive, and I’ve bid on an electric car. Today, TLW (The Little Woman) snapped this picture of me standing next to the tallest tree in my yard that I’ve grown from seed. It has survived several winters, deer, rabbits, mice and me…

This is a plum tree grown from seed out of plums given to me by my sister-in-law who had a plum tree in her yard that finally bore fruit which she didn’t want. I planted 50 pits along the border of my yard, 30 grew and about 15 are alive today and mostly are thriving. Some, like this one, grew nearly three feet this summer. Others are putting out offsets to help me fill in the blanks. This one might even flower next year with this degree of vigour. It’s about time. It was planted six years ago. The picture in the top right was taken when it was a year old.

So, my work is almost done, assuming I can ever catch up with the weeds… Eventually, the birds and the bees and the trees will have to do it all without me. I think everything will be fine.

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