Infrastructure Bill Celebrations

I am surprised by the lack of, well, celebration, on the passage of the new US infrastructure bill. It seems to be a pretty good thing all around and seems long overdue. Perhaps it has been discussed too much and we are just all tired of hearing about it.

I like to check the international news when big stories like this happen, just to see an outside perspective. I used to mostly turn to the BBC but something has happened over there since Brexit. I did find this concise, readable story in the Hindustan Times (India). Might be my new source for these sort of outside perspectives.

Biden celebrates $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill signing

Starting a Civil War

I have always wondered what the people who attacked the US Capitol on Jan 6 were thinking. I never could get a grip on what they thought their end game was. In a confession from one of the rioters we see what compelled these people to act. They thought they were starting an actual Civil War, and one (I have to assume) they intended to “win”. Just because it is delusional doesn’t make it any less dangerous. From the confession of Daniel Rodriguez, via MSNBC. At least he seems to have figured out what was really going on. Just a naked grab for power.

“we thought we were going to hit it like a civil war. There was going to be a big battle. I thought that there was going to be fighting, for some reason, in different cities, and I thought that the main fight, the main battle was going to be in D.C. because Trump called everyone there.

“We felt that they stole this country, its gone, its wiped out, Americas over, its destroyed now. We thought we were being used as part of a plan to save the country, save America, save the Constitution and the election.

“Are we all that stupid that we thought we were going to do this and save the country and it was all going to be fine after? We really thought that. Thats so stupid, huh? Its very stupid and ignorant. I see that it`s a big joke than we thought we were going to save this country.

Japan Memories

Tadashii!! I repeated to the taxi driver, perhaps a bit too urgently. He turned around and gave me a quick look. He was wearing a white hat and gloves like all of the other Japanese taxi drivers, a uniform that always reminded me of an old fashioned milkman. Tadashii! He was about to pass the driveway for our apartment. I had given him the address from town, but the apartment complex was a bit of a large and spread out. I thought about just telling him to stop, but we had been grocery shopping and I wasnt keen on hauling all of our bags across the long parking lot in the Japanese summer heat.

Were only in Japan for the summer. I had some what impulsively accepted a three month appointment at a small research university in rural Japan. Having my wife and two young children along made the trip enjoyable, but also multiplied the opportunities for various miscommunications. Shopping on weekends was always exciting, sometimes in unexpected ways. I even learned many years later that I had been rudely insulting the young women at the bus station, incorrectly using the word “busu“, which means loosely “old hag” instead of “basu“, the actual word for bus when asking for directions.

For a minute “tadashii” didn’t seem quite right. I had tried to study a bit of Japanese before our trip but I didn’t get very far. But a three (or is it four?) syllable word for “right” seemed wrong. We were using a little device called a Lingo, which resembled a very tiny laptop. It could do translations into several languages and was an almost magical technology at the time. I later learned, or thought I had learned, that my Lingo had given me the translation for “right” as in “human rights”. No telling what the taxi driver thought I was telling him. Perhaps he thought I was complaining that my rights were somehow being violated. Much later I learned tadashii was the translation for right as in “correct”. I suppose the driver was very confused by my mixed message, telling him he was going the “correct” way while also urgently signaling him to turn right. Such confusion marked our days in Japan. For the record, the “right” I was looking for is migi. I will probably never forget that word.

I told the driver to stop, perhaps successfully finding the word for “stop” in the Lingo. We were far up the parking lot at that point but unloaded our groceries on the sidewalk, paid the taxi driver, and walked toward our apartment.

Tesla Quick Math

Tesla has sold about 2 million cars, give or take. One of the founders, a fellow named Elon Musk now has a net worth of around $200 Billion (with a “B”), mostly from Tesla stock. My calculations say this comes out to a cool $100,000 per car. Gotta love American capitalism.

Retiring the Shuttle

I started a little project a couple of years ago to replace my x86 home machine with a little Raspberry Pi 4. It wasn’t without it’s challenges. It turns out most of the problems with the Pi 4 revolve around power issues with the USB ports. Plug in anything besides a flash drive and all bets are off. This made it hard to do some things, particularly make backups. I kept my old Shuttle running Ubuntu around mostly as an occasional NAS, to rsync a copy of my media and home directory files for backup. The Shuttle is at least a decade old and takes up lots of space and I started thinking about replacing it. I came across a bunch of these Mini PCs on Amazon and decided to spring for this one.

They all seem to come with Windows 10 installed, but no matter I will just install Ubuntu over it. Well, it seems these little machines all use the dreaded UEFI secure BIOS. But the world has come a long way since I first wrestled with UEFI. The install went well, and after a few tweaks of the BIOS (always scary) I am able to boot either Windows or Ubuntu. I guess I’ll harvest the disks in the old Shuttle and use them for backups, store them in the closet, and eventually throw them out, like I have done with so many hard drives in the past.

The U.S. Shipping Crisis

A good, no, great read about the US shipping crisis. This was supposedly written by a 20 year old truck driver. It reminds me of the Texas Power Crisis, in that the problems are easy to see and easy to fix, but established actors will actually profit from the failures caused by their own lack of investment. So there is no real hope without some sort of intervention, probably by the federal government. Will that happen? I’m not optimistic. Get ready to pay more, perhaps a lot more, for less. Seems to be the new American way.

Update: the article is by a 20 year trucking veteran, not a 20 year old. Thought he sounded very well informed for a 20 year old.

I’m A Twenty Year Truck Driver, I Will Tell You Why America’s “Shipping Crisis” Will Not End