“She knew how to embroider and milk a cow.”

— Connie Willis, Doomsday Book, via Thog

Talkin’ ’bout an evolution

Our long notional nightmare is over…

Yesterday, Safeway had three kinds of yeast on the shelf and three varieties of King Arthur flour, both in sufficient quantity that they’re probably still there today. Costco has had a steady supply of 2-pound vacuum packs of Red Star active dry yeast for at least a month now, but the occasional shipments of the little envelopes and jars that most people use weren’t keeping up with demand.

(speaking of which, I’ve been checking the manufacturing date on those 2-pound bricks, and the ones that arrived last week said June 22nd; this is why you can’t just treat an economy like a series of light switches that you flip on and off at whim)

Everyday Life With Starter Pokémon

Not a harem comedy. Probably for the best.

Faking it in the kitchen

Pretty much every recipe for sweet/spicy mixed nuts begins with “buy raw nuts” and ends with “roast in oven”. But what if you already have roasted salted nuts and just want to zip them up? To me, the obvious solution was to toss them with just a little bit of olive oil, then add whatever you’ve got handy, in my case splenda packets and a few shakes from a jar of chili powder. Gets on your fingers, but we’ve all learned how to wash our hands now, right?

Faking it in the SJW community

Beloved Native American anthropology professor on Twitter now believed to be complete fraud. Apparently claiming she was killed by Corona-chan after her heartless university bosses forced her to teach in person was a bit too much for people to swallow, and the discovery that every picture she ever tweeted came from a stock photo agency isn’t helping.

“Nuns, no sense of humor”

Finished up Warrior Nun, so I’ve finally seen all the scenes from the trailers. My take on the season finale is that they thought they were being clever by piling revelation on revelation, but instead created a massive car wreck with color commentary. The characters mostly carry you through it, but it’s full of fridge moments that hit you as soon as you stop to think about them.

Given the numbers being reported, the second season is almost certain, but given 2020, there’s no way to predict when they’ll actually be able to start shooting it, much less do all the post-production work and release it.

I’m invested enough to want to see what happens next, but unpacking what happened is going to require a lot of talk-talk or a lot of handwaving, which has the potential to stop the story dead in its tracks.

The Brady Apocalypse

Umbrella Academy season 2 is mostly interesting, but I find myself turning it off in the middle of an episode because there are subplots I really don’t care about. These are adjacent to the parts I like, so I take a break, go do something else, and then finish the episode.

I’m kinda liking Dad.

Font “fun” with Windows Terminal

Setting fontFace to “Office Code Pro” produces significantly different text size than “Office Code Pro Medium” at the same fontSize setting. Going through the open issues on Github revealed a lot of interlocking font issues; the workaround for this one is the new fontWeight parameter. I updated my earlier config to reflect this.

Related, the problem I had where manpages and line numbers became unreadable is a bug unique to Windows Terminal. Where other terminal apps have an oddball mix of behaviors when confronted with the escape codes for “bold” and “bright” text in various colors, Terminal’s the only one that interprets bold without an accompanying color as “bright white”, regardless of the current foreground/background colors. So for any light-background-color scheme, you must set “bright white” to a dark color.

Unrelated, scrolling with the Control key held down changes the font size for the current session, while scrolling with Control-Shift changes the window opacity; never have I ever needed to scroll either of these settings. Transparency should always be 100% opaque for readability, and the standard Ctrl-(+/-/0) for font zoom are more useful and less likely to go off by accident. Scrolling them with the mouse is like Apple’s trackpad gestures that spontaneously change the icon size on my desktop.

Like skittletext, whenever I come across shit like this, I picture the programmers responsible as characters from the movie Hackers, and then I picture them locked in a room that’s on fire.

(by the way, kudos to Microsoft for developing this application in the open, with a real feedback process that gets incorporated into new releases)

Quick takes…

Rice Twinklies

My Zojirushi rice cooker plays “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” when you push start. Never change, Japan.

Sticky stuff

Those 3M Command hooks hold their rated weight for about fifteen years. Ask me how I know.

If you name your town “Animosity”…

…you’re just asking for trouble, Brand New Animal. Thanks to Mauser for bringing this fun little Netflix anime series to my attention. If you haven’t watched it yet and need a little more push, note that it’s directed by the author/director of Little Witch Academia, and the cast includes Koyasu as someone other than the big badass and Yoshimasa Hosoya (Welf from DanMachi, Kanata from Kanata no Astra, etc) literally chewing the scenery.

Nun Shall Pass

I’m about halfway through the first season of Warrior Nun, and still not up to much of the footage that was used in the trailers. This is a bad way to make trailers.

Umbrella Academy, season 2

I really liked some of the performances in season 1, and it looks like the new one will deliver the same.

“You guys are never gonna let me live this down.” – Vanya Hargreeves, season 1 recap

Profaning The Sacred

The Sacred Texts!

rcs is no longer available in CentOS. At all. Not even in EPEL. Installing it from the Fedora 31 source RPM pulled in most of X11, because it inexplicably depends on Ghostscript. (just for the source, not the resulting binary)

Why do I need it? Because while I store most of my personal projects in Mercurial, and use Git to pull in code from other people, for config files and random text I use ESR’s src, which wraps a modern UI around RCS in a single portable Python script. As a bonus, if you decide to migrate a directory of files into Git or Mercurial, it generates fast-export files.

“Is it weird to play as the opposite sex?” – Reddit

“No, but it’s weird to think it’s weird.”

Seriously, you’re playing a game where you’re a 12-year-old monster trainer. Or a vaguely-immortal warrior. Or a space marine. Vampire. Elf. Alien. Sentient tank. Space freighter captain. Combat archaeologist. Pirate. Ninja. Murderhobo. Detective. Pick-up artist. Gangsta. Thief. Pimp. Mercenary. Leader of a biker gang. Cartoon dog and bunny. Post-apocalyptic parent. Marlow Briggs!

All this and many more, and you’re worried about the naughty bits your avatar doesn’t even have?

How to hold a fair election

Trump should tweet support for mail-in ballots that are allowed to arrive up to 30 days after election day. Within an hour, the Left will be demanding in-person voting with mandatory ID, active poll monitoring, and transparent auditing.

Teach Them Well…

In 1985, I went in to pay my OSU tuition for the quarter, and in the line was a large group of young men in identical clothing, looking like a centipede as they moved in lock-step in a tightly packed line, their identities subsumed into the group. At the time, I didn’t recognize the Marxist indoctrination that was common in black fraternities.

Close enough

Of all the actress/models whose careers are based on “looks kinda like Ai Shinozaki but gets nekkid”, I think Nanami Matsumoto (松本菜奈実) is the best. Link is NSFW, of course.

Disclaimer: I haven’t seen any of her video work, just the photos.

Rising From The Ashes

Switching to phase 3

Interview with hiring manager complete, moving on to technical interview with team. Amusing note: he started at Synopsys soon after I left, so we know a lot of the same people.

Dear Phoenix Pick

This is an absolutely dreadful book cover. Art commissioned for a classic novel by a grandmaster of the field should have a budget higher than a trip to Starbucks.

I suppose it’s better than just randomly cropping out-of-copyright SF art with no regard for relevance. Love the random elbow.

Endless Update

No, not a Windows machine that’s been turned off for a few months, the free game Endless Sky. They’ve added a lot of content since the last time I played 2+ years ago, and there are more story-focused third-party addons.

One thing that’s changed is that my old Blackbird Bus Driver build may no longer be viable due to more intelligent behavior by pirates. Which is a good thing.

Breaking the rules…

Apparently in the current Sword Art Online arc, Our Hero Kirito has been in a coma, and thus almost entirely absent. That this has not vastly improved the story violates my expectation that, after the first season, SAO is best when Kirito’s not in it.

(and did you know that the author wrote a non-canon short story set after the resolution of the Alicization arcs where all the girls forcibly marry Kirito inside the Alice-verse and sleep with him?)

I might someday rewatch the first season. I have no interest in slogging through the rest, largely because my favorite character is the tragically underused Liz. I did however just rewatch Gun Gale Online, the spinoff written by the author of Kino’s Journey. The only disappointment was that Netflix labeled every episode with a nudity warning, but the only thing that happens is that her friend Miyu is briefly shown taking a bath in one episode, with nothing showing.

Related, according to the wiki, Karen is canonically six feet tall (183 cm). They try to show this in the anime, but don’t quite manage to drive home just how freakishly tall that is for a Japanese woman; Karen should feel alienated and isolated. Compare to original Morning Musume member Kaori Iida, who towered over all the rest of the girls at only five-foot-seven (170 cm).

WSL2/Terminal configs

The current incantation to disable skittletext in PowerShell is:

Set-PSReadLineOption -Colors @{None='black';Comment='black';Keyword='black';String='black';Operator='black';Variable='black';Command='black';Parameter='black';Type='black';Number='black';Member='black'}

You need an additional incantation to be able to put that into a Documents\WindowsPowerShell\profile.ps1 file that’s read on startup:

Set-ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Scope CurrentUser -Force

The user experience for customizing Windows Terminal is pretty poor. Out of the box, clicking on Settings will bring up a window asking you to find an app in the Microsoft Store to read JSON files. And it doesn’t tell you that it will do a live reload of the file every time you save it, until you make a mistake and it reverts your changes.

It also automatically adds config entries for all registered Linux distros, as well as Azure. You can hide, remove, or reorder them by editing the JSON file and remembering to add/remove trailing commas from arrays. Holding down Alt while clicking on Settings loads the default file containing color definitions, which you can copy into your settings and customize.

    // GUID of the profile you want by default
    "defaultProfile": "{5d9039ec-62cd-5628-abab-f769d05a6baa}",

    // left-drag to copy, right-click to paste, plain text
    "copyOnSelect": true,
    "copyFormatting": false,

    // make the most of the limited screen height on the SP2
    "launchMode": "maximized",
    "showTabsInTitlebar": true,
            // "No, BIGGER!"
            "fontFace": "Office Code Pro",
            "fontWeight": "Medium",
            "fontSize": 17,
            "colorScheme": "Readable",
            "cursorShape": "filledBox"
                "guid": "{5d9039ec-62cd-5628-abab-f769d05a6baa}",
                "hidden": false,
                "name": "CentOS8_2",
                "source": "Windows.Terminal.Wsl",
                /// otherwise you get your Windows homedir
                "startingDirectory": "//wsl$/CentOS8_2/home/jgreely"
    "schemes": [
            // work in progress...
            "name": "Readable",
            "foreground": "#000000",
            "background": "#FFFFFF",
            "cursorColor": "#7F7F7F",
            "black": "#000000",
            "red": "#EE0000",
            "green": "#00EE00",
            "yellow": "#000000",
            "blue": "#0000EE",
            "purple": "#000000",
            "cyan": "#000000",
            "white": "#FFFFFF",
            "brightBlack": "#222222",
            "brightRed": "#FF0000",
            "brightGreen": "#00FF00",
            "brightYellow": "#222222",
            "brightBlue": "#0000FF",
            "brightPurple": "#222222",
            "brightCyan": "#222222",
            "brightWhite": "#000000"
        // disable these!
        // { "command": {"action": "copy", "singleLine": false }, "keys": "ctrl+c" },
        // { "command": "paste", "keys": "ctrl+v" },

Skittletext in most Linux command-line utilities is typically enabled by the default shell profile in /etc. You can either not pull that file in at all, or undo the damage. Append-to-bashrc version:

# skip if non-interactive
[ ! -t 0 ] && return

for i in egrep fgrep grep l. ll ls xzegrep \
        xzfgrep xzgrep zegrep zfgrep zgrep; do
    alias "$i" >/dev/null 2>&1 && unalias "$i"
alias ls='ls -F'

Skittletext in Notepad++ is unfortunately tied to the automagic detection of file type, each of which gets a completely independent set of color definitions. IMHO, the correct solution is to install Emacs (terminal-mode, not X11), but N++ is useful for light editing of config files on the Windows side. I might look for something else at some point. Emacs launches a bit sluggishly under Terminal, but when I tried emacsclient, it was no faster, wasting time showing me the scratch buffer before loading my file.

I had to add another line at the bottom of my standard .emacs file, to deal with the fact that with Office Code Pro at 20 points, even a fullscreen Terminal window is only 85x22 on my Surface Pro 2. Apart from the shortage of rows, it gives off a warm and fuzzy “classic Sun console” vibe as I set up a development environment.

(menu-bar-mode -1)

I suppose I should have added it years ago when they first started crufting up the UI, but I just never got around to it.


Font handling in Terminal turns out to be in the middle of a messy transition right now, with a lot of cleanup on the way. I’ve updated my config file above to reflect the new fontWeight option, which produces significantly different results from specifying the weight directly in fontFace. I’m now getting 85x23 fullscreen with the size set to 17 points, and it keeps the same size changing between “medium” and “light” (but not “bold”; that’s smaller).

Corona-chan Locally

The daily report for my county finally started including breakdowns by age and race for deaths. The data was available elsewhere, if you knew exactly where to look, but now it’s right up front in the report. They’re fudging a bit by only breaking down deaths into under-55 and 55-and-older, but since the total number of deaths is still only 26 out of 434,000 (with 274 hospitalizations), the bottom line is that very few people have been directly impacted by it, as opposed to the measures taken against it.

Yesterday I went out to get the mail and saw six kids riding their bikes up and down the street, socially-distanced and wearing masks. Who were they going to catch it from? Who were they going to spread it to? Feh.

No One Expects The Organic Disposition

Surprise Delivery

Yesterday afternoon my doorbell rang twice, but by the time I got there, the person making a contactless delivery of organic fruits and vegetables was long gone. Unfortunately, I didn’t order a 20-pound box of organic fruits and vegetables, and there was no label on the box to indicate who did. A call to the company listed on the box just went to voicemail, and a review of my front-porch cameras showed some old guy in work clothes.

When they called back a few hours later, they explained that this was part of a USDA farmer relief program where they paid farmers and ranchers for produce and distributed it through churches, etc. Her guess was that some neighborhood group picked them up there and dropped one off on my porch. Zooming in on the camera footage of the old guy, I could just make out the word “veteran” on the rim of his baseball cap, which explains that.

I re-gifted it to one of my neighbors who has a large family. Most of it would just go bad before I could eat the parts of it that I’d actually eat.


Since I only got one guess, I’ll go ahead and reveal the answer: the closest I ever got to Harlan Ellison was about 50 feet. All the others were people who showed up at Glamourcon when I was the show photographer. Gene Simmons did a Playboy photo shoot with a bunch of models in Kiss-face, and Verne Troyer did one as Mini-Hef.

Gene was loosely orbiting his wife’s table and shamelessly photobombing anyone trying to get a picture with one of the models. Meanwhile, all the models wanted pictures with Verne, and rather than having them come out from behind their tables, he just went under and joined them on their side. They were quite surprised the first few times he did that.

Hard Cider

Juicy bug in Apple’s current MacOS release, where it leaks a gigabyte an hour if you run virtual machines.

As part of the investigation, it was discovered com.apple.security.sandbox was allocating millions of blocks of memory containing just the text “/dev” and no other data.

Current workaround: don’t run virtualization software, or reboot every few hours. Or don’t install 10.15.6, even though it fixes a serious USB-2 disconnect bug.

Animal Recovery Service

Animal Crossing: New Horizons encourages you to spend hundreds of hours carefully customizing your island, which can’t be backed up or transferred to another device. So instead of supporting the standard Switch cloud save process, they’re adding a special backup-to-cloud service that will allow you to call Nintendo Customer Service to beg for a data restore after theft, loss, or purchase of a new device.

Meanwhile, the Pokémon team is determined to keep fucking you over by not supporting cloud saves, although they at least allow you to (destructively) transfer your data from one Switch to another. Their excuse is that it would enable wholesale duplication of rare mons, which is currently restricted to dozens of web sites and ebay dealers that create anything you want with save-hacking tools and sell them to you, and which advertise in-game with random trades that have their URL as the original trainer name.

Skittleized For Your Protection

I installed the new Windows Terminal. I had to edit a JSON file in order to set it to black text on a white background, in a decent font at a reasonable size. I used Notepad++ for this, after disabling the color syntax highlighting that made the contents of the file unreadable.

Then I installed WSL2, for which the official instructions use several PowerShell incantations and a manual download. That meant I also had to find the incantation (recently updated after a breaking change) to disable the color syntax highlighting that made commands unreadable. And the incantation to make it possible to have a profile.ps1 file that runs on startup, so it won’t be unreadable next time.

Then I installed Ubuntu, and went through the familiar process of disabling the unreadable colorized prompt and unreadable color-coded ls output. (this is completely different from the way you disable it under distros like Alpine, by the way)

Then I discovered that the two black-on-white themes that are pre-configured for Terminal include a light-gray-on-white mapping that less uses to display emphasized text in manpages. Also line numbers if you turn that option on. More JSON editing, this time involving holding the Alt key down while clicking on “Settings” in order to open the other JSON config file.

“How much other Lion functionality depends on guessing that if you wave the rod with the star a crystal bridge will span the chasm?”
     …and this was before Apple went completely nuts

Looks like I’ll have to go outside the MS store for distros other than Ubuntu, though, since I really don’t want to buy the ones built by random guys in China, and there’s no reason to pay for them in the first place.

First thing I tried was Fedora32, which unfortunately was built from a very stripped-down Docker container that made it useless as a general-purpose distro. So I tried someone else’s CentOS 8.2 build, which includes useful things like manpages. I may try rolling my own Fedora at some point, since I have plenty of experience creating small-but-useful kickstart configs.

Next up: overriding the key bindings in Terminal so I can run Emacs. My fingers have very specific expectations for the behavior of Control-X, Control-C, and Control-V.

Dear Netflix

Could you please cut it the fuck out with the autoplay video while I’m trying to decide if anything’s worth watching? Seriously, it often kicks in before I even have time to click to the next show. (Amazon FireTV version of the client, FYI)

Random Thoughts, Defective Detective Edition

The Kanji Police

Scammer posing as detective arrested because he couldn’t write ‘detective’. Or ‘fraud’.

Gathering Momentum

I’ve got several video interviews this week.

Y’know, for a long time I’ve been saying that I just don’t have time for all my hobbies any more, and when I suddenly have months with nothing but time, I discover that many of them involve being able to leave the house and go somewhere. Sigh.

Silent But Deadly

Unannounced and unexpected, Homebrew changed the behavior of brew upgrade to include brew cask upgrade (casks being vendor installers that may include GUI components, require root access to install, require a reboot, etc). This change is not mentioned in the release notes or documentation. Who do they think they are, Apple?

Otaku Of Gor

Those who do not read history are doomed to write isekai novels that repeat it.

With one key difference: for all the (mostly true) complaints about how horribly misogynist the Gor novels were, the core audience was female. The local bookstore clerks who more-or-less adopted me in the late Seventies often laughed about how women would come up to the counter with a Gor novel artfully concealed in the middle of their purchases.

Behind Every Successful Woman…

…is Joe Biden, sniffing her hair.


Late last year, my local mall was finishing up a major renovation that was designed to attract more upscale stores. And it was working, until all those stores were forced to close for nearly three months, invest in expensive sanitation measures to reopen, and then forced to close down again a month later. The lucky few who have their own exterior entrances can do some business, but for the rest, the only good news is that they’re not being looted or burned out. Future lease negotiations are going to be pretty tense, with the property owner desperate to pay off the renovation and the business owners running on fumes.

Like with a cloth

I wiped and reinstalled my Surface Pro 2 last night. It is now approximately 7 zillion times faster. Next up is finally trying out WSL2 and the new Terminal app.

What J’s Watching

I tried to watch Jumanji: The Next Level last night; I’m glad it was free (Starz), because I got bored and walked away. Actually, a lot of the things I’ve tried to watch recently have bored me; this could be a more general problem with the extended lockdown.

On the other hand, I also watched the first episodes of Brand New Animal and Warrior Nun, and I’m at least willing to try another.

Random Fictions

Stylish And Full Of Fail

Cop Craft is out on Blu-ray. It’s a bargain at $10; pity it costs $50.

When I initially reviewed this series, I said:

“They’ve got 6 light novels of source material to work with for 12 episodes, so they shouldn’t run out.”

I was so wrong. It starts off solid, and is still pretty good through episode 7, but then it all goes to hell as you realize they’re desperately shredding the story to reach the end of book 6, and they even threw in a clip episode.

I’d like to believe that this was deliberate sabotage by someone instead of complete incompetence by the team. The director’s not a noob, and even the story that replaced book 3 was written by the original novelist, but somewhere in the middle of production, they screwed the pooch. It’s almost certainly tied to the reason that the first 7 episodes were written by the novelist, and the rest by someone else.

Also of note is that book 7, which was supposed to come out while the series was airing, was first delayed, and then completely canceled. Although the final cancellation may have more to do with the author being canceled over his remarks about Scoldilocks.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Ready Player Two is coming out in November. I suppose a sequel was inevitable, but while the book was much better than the movie, it still wasn’t really good.

Cultural Appropriation

This is a little cheesy:

Random Lies

Spot The Lie:

“List 5 famous people you’ve either met or have been within a few feet of, but ONE is a lie. Then let your friends guess which one they think is a lie.”

My answer:

  1. Gene Simmons
  2. Ron Jeremy
  3. Harlan Ellison
  4. Hugh Hefner
  5. Verne Troyer

Oh, China, never change…

Guess the product:

“Multi-use for everyone, you will love this soft fluffy rug under your feet !”

By WETONG, from YeHow. Pretty much every line is pure gold. Four stars, ~2,400 reviews in just over a year. Competitive products available from Rechishre, BAKHUK, JSDOIN, Ouddy, Bomstar, Ozera, iReaydo, L LEIWEK, and other well-known brands.

Schlock Mercenary has ended

On the one hand, I’m sad because this was a consistently entertaining MilSF webcomic. On the other hand, now I can stop averting my eyes from the cringeworthy tweets in the sidebar. It’s become increasingly difficult to reconcile the two since you-know-when.

Esil is Best Girl

The manwha adaptation of Solo Levelling is long on full-page battle scenes, making it a brisk read. The artist has designed a number of distinctively attractive female characters, but the one who stands out for me is the demon princess/sidekick Esil (에실).

In addition to being cute as a button, she has the guts to intervene in a fight that’s way above her weight class, aiding Our Hero at a critical moment.

Sadly, peeking at spoilers from the original novel, she never shows up again.

After all, she was in his party at the time, so by rights she should have gotten to split the XP from the final boss, since she definitely participated in that fight. It would be nice to believe that she and her clan were returned to the demon realm, where she became its queen, waiting for a chance to rejoin Her Hero.

(yes, I know it’s not that kind of story; “spoilers”)

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”