over the hump

Hot damn, that is fucking amazing, one of the best mixtapes I’ve ever heard (actual mix start 6 minutes in).

That LL Cool J Black Sheep mashup at the 41 minute mark might be my favorite thing ever, or is it the double dose of Cut Chemist when Ozomatli get dirty with J5 at 18:40? No it’s got to be ODB vs. Lou Reed by the way of Tribe Called Quest with a dash of The Emotions for good measure at 22 minutes, I think.

Point is, this is the best hip hop thing since Thomas the Tank Engine.

One year later, Ding Dong, the witch is still dead

When I left Scotland, I made a blood-pact with my friends, we all chipped in to get a 20 years whiskey barrel, it’s a pretty decent investment, you pay some money now, and if you beat the alcoholism odds in twenty year you get some nice aged whiskey at a pretty low price (maybe I should call it a scotch-pact, though to be fair, when it come to my Scottish friends, the different is rather minimal, by volume). There were only two stipulations – you must be there in person for the opening of the first bottle and must come back to Glasgow to celebrate Thatcher funereal, when the bitch (ding dong) finally bites the dust.
And wouldn’t you know it, that old hag (ding dong) didn’t even had the decency to die at a convenient time, a year ago today to be exact, and her funereal was a week before I was slated to move to China. But a blood/scotch pact is no joke, so I packed my bags and straight after partying with a bunch of tech millionaires at Coachella in a house that looks like this (actual picture) –
image

I went to for a mid-week party with a bunch of communist Scottish welders that all look like this –

image(not an actual picture, also, shut up). 

And I do mean straight up by the way, I got back to Seattle and was on a plane the same night; I think I got a social compression sickness.

While that trip definitely fucked up with my move schedule and made packing up my house an even more stressful event than it would’ve been otherwise, I’m happy I went, if nothing else it has been educational. I’ve learned that there are many more versions of Ding Dong The Witch is Dead than I’ve imagined, that no matter how hard you’ll try, you will lose some of your drinking fastball living in the US and that Coldcut are good people, really good people. Not to mention I got to keep my scotch allocation and get berated in barely legible words about how much of a sellout I am (which is not only true but also sounds fucking brilliant in a heavy drunk Scottish accent).
Also, it was one hell of a party, damn, they really dislike that harpy (ding dong) up north.
But some people back home (and elsewhere) gave me funny looks and some shit about celebrating her death, and I think that it’s about time I answer them (plus I’m a sucker for anniversaries that I miraculously manage to remember).
First of all, I don’t really want to talk about why I think she was a horrible politician and a terrible human being, I think it’s acceptable to say – “you shouldn’t celebrate her death because she was an awesome prime minister”. Acceptable as for of the logic of the argument, though obviously still wrong, and I doubt I have many friends who think that way (I sure hope I don’t).
No, I want to address the whole – “well sure, she was awful, but don’t rejoice upon death, respect the dead” type of an argument.
You see, one of the problems of modern politics is the lack of personal consequences, Thatcher left office as one of the most hated people in British political history, so much so that the conservative party kicked her out to the curb. Now you might say, the system works! She had terrible policies, the people hated and her and she was shoved out office. But here’s the thing, in today’s world, if you get to a high enough position, especially if you’re of the “pro-business” types you are pretty much guaranteed to have a cushy post-public life, which that cunt (ding dong) certainly had, collecting giant public speaking paychecks and shilling for tobacco companies and Augusto Pinochet (she really was a comic book villain, wasn’t she?).

And this is not only a matter of historic justice (though it does come into play), this is also a practical issue. You really want to deter such terrible behavior from your leaders, you really want to punish such disdain to people you preside over. In the olden days, we used to storm the castle and kill for incompetence.  Now to be clear, I don’t support the death penalty and I certainly don’t advocate physically hurting failed politicians, but there need to be consequences and since taking their money is not happening any time soon, that leaves us with one place to hurt them - their legacy. For all their power, media connection and dick-sucking flattering biographies, legacy are formed by the way the people remember you.  And you know they care about that, they all have giant egos, you don’t look at a country and go “yeah, I can run this place” without having a massive massive ego.
So yeah, I will celebrate, I will drink and I will dance and sing all night on her deathiversary, be it in Scotland, Seattle, Beijing or wherever my life take me, and I will keep dragging her name in the mud in the hope that she get appropriately spat on by history, so maybe the next asshole who think this is a good idea, will think twice of it.

Consider this your performance review, you dead wicked witch (ding dong), you get an F, and you don’t like that system, we can always bring back the guillotine.

image

Fred “god hate fags” Phelps died, I don’t feel anything in particular, I don’t usually have strong feeling when people I don’t know die, but I do have thoughts. 

The man was no doubt an idiot, but man, was he ever a useful one.

He allowed religious conservatives too look saner by having someone crazier to criticize, and since they all attacked him on the fact that he picketed military funerals, they could’ve done that without showing an ounce of sympathy toward gay people.

He allowed liberals to pretend that everyone who oppose gay marriage is a crazy religious zealot, when in reality the majority of them are normal people who were systematically lied to by people who claim to speak for god, usually for political reasons.

He allowed organizations like the Anti-Defamation League to keep pretending that antisemitism is still a real issue in the US (the Westboro church also had “god hate Jews” parties) so give us money dammit or Hitler is coming back!

He gave proponents of the Flag Desecration Amendment a reason to be on TV and push their re-heated 90s talking points.

He allowed the “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” crowd to pretend the US still have a robust first amendment protection all while creating “free speech zones” (gotta love that newspeak) and limiting the right of the occupy movement to peaceably assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

And boy oh boy, did he allowed the news media to fill a whole lot of airtime.  Got nothing to talk about? Let’s drive to Kansas and take pictures of crazy people picketing a funeral!

If the man didn’t exist, it would’ve been necessary to invent him, and that’s thing, he was pretty much invented.

No, I’m going all conspiracy theory here, by all accounts he was really a deranged bigot who believed that crap, but for fuck’s sake, the Westboro Baptist church is one family, Phelps is closer to a crazy person shouting at a street corner than anything, idiots like him exists everywhere, but a lazy media and political interests gave him a platform and a megaphone to spew his vile crap that he would’ve never ever had otherwise.

And the problem with this is not that people would see him on CNN and go “gee, that man have a point, maybe god really hate fags”, in fact, one of the main reasons he was given such exposure is exactly because he can’t challenge the status quo in any meaningful way. No, the problem is that he was one giant distraction; the issues I’ve listed above are all real serious concerns (well, outside flag desecration, that’s just silly stuff) but for fuck’s sake –

If you worried about religious radicalization – there are much bigger concerns than Fred Phelps.

If you care about gay rights – there are much bigger concerns than Fred Phelps.

If you’re worried about racism – there are much bigger concerns than Fred Phelps.

If you’re concerned about the way the US treat its veterans – there are much bigger concerns than Fred Phelps.

If you care about free speech – there are much bigger concerns than Fred Phelps.

Now I’m not arguing that you must tackle issues in their exact order of importance, but a whole lot of people spent a whole lot of time, effort and money fighting a meaningless battles. The man was lightning rod, but much a real lightning rod, the energy that was directed to him didn’t achieved anything useful. 

So goodbye bitch, you shall not be missed, and even though you did make us all feel better about ourselves, it was in the most unproductive way possible.

Maybe now we can start focus on the real important issues at han… nah, fuck that, let’s go check out Ted Nugent’s twitter.

Climate change denier tries to diss Cosmos, get owned by the universe


A pwnage of cosmological magnitude


You might have heard about the bicep2’s observation of gravitational waves, it’s pretty huge news, I might write about it sometime, unlike the Higgs boson that I only sort of understand (though it didn’t stop me from posting about it in the past) this is General Relativity, I actually do know that stuff (and sheeeeeit, if I had to suffer through tensors, I better use it to impress random people on the internet).
But today I want to talk about a minor yet hilarious side-effect.
So last week TheFederalist.com, a conservative website most known for climate change skepticism tried to diss Cosmos in an article titled Five Things Neil deGrasse Tyson’s “Cosmos” Gets Wrong (yeah, I read that crap so you don’t have to).
The reason for the article comes clear in the first thing it finds wrong, the writer is butthurt that Neil deGrasse Tyson mentioned that Venus has a greenhouse effect and he thinks it’s liberal climate change propaganda. Yeah, there was no real mention of global warming in that episode, and sorry dude, Venus does have a greenhouse effect, you can that there is nothing to learn from that (you’d be wrong) or that the earth isn’t running the risk of becoming Venus (you’d be right, but who’s arguing that?) but denying that Venus has CO2 in its atmosphere or that it creates a greenhouse effect is just bizarre. Not as bizarre as using Avatar to support your point (nope, not making this shit up), but whatever, I fucking hated that movie so much that I’m okay with anything that can put it down, regardless of how stupid it is.
Now while it’s painfully obvious that this is the entire reason this article was written, since the internet loves numbered lists and since titling it “waaah waaaah, they said greenhouse effect on television” would look super silly, he had to get 4 more things.
Numbers 3-5 are fucking weird (read: crazy retarded) – he complain that the ship of imagination should not make a sound in space, that Giordano Bruno is not more important that Galileo to science (not only was that not claimed by the show, the actual opposite was stated) and that you can’t you use the cosmic calendar metaphor and criticize religion (yeah, I shit you not, my brain kinda shut down when I read that).
Sure, I can have fun with those silly things, but that’s like beating a paraplegic in an MMA fight, I’m not saying it’s not enjoyable (though you can’t prove anything, he totally fell off his wheelchair and hit the doorknob), but after a while it gets kinda repetitive.
I do however want to focus on the 2nd point he made - The Multiverse Is Not Science.
The background to that point is that the show made a casual one sentence mention that many scientists believe there are multiple universes.  
The article goes (emphasis is mine) - 

Any time a scientist begins a sentence with “Many of us suspect,” it is codespeak for “we sit around and discuss it at the bar.” […] Why not just let that go as artistic license? When Carl Sagan was filming the original Cosmos program, physicists Alan Guth and Andrei Linde had not even come up with “inflation” for the Big Bang that Tyson mentions casually.
The multiverse is not science. It is more like an anthropic secular alternative to a divine origin. It’s not science because it can’t be proved or disproved — it’s just postmodernism with some math. And it’s invoked shortly after the introduction where Tyson tells us to test everything.


Less than a week after that dribble was posted, the aforementioned bicep2 found strong evidence of cosmic inflation, which strongly suggests a multiverse reality (and when it’s all said and done, might even prove it).
The amazing thing here is that physicists have been trying to find evidence for inflation it for over 30 years, yet he managed to make that claim in the week it was found, that coincidence in itself is almost too fucking sweet to be true, but that idiot also called out Andrei Linde by name, a mere 4 days before he became a minor viral sensation for being so motherfucking right (for real, watch that video, it’s awesome).

What can I say, if you come at the king you best not miss, but I guess if you’re going to miss (and the way they guy collect those Ls, missing is to be expected), might as well do it spectacularly. 
image

Thoughts on Daylight Saving Time

I like daylight saving time, no it doesn’t really save a whole lot of energy, but I do enjoy long summer evenings (of drinking in Linda’s patio), and hey, if some kids have to get run over going to school in the dark, well, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few skulls under the wheels of pickup trucks.

China doesn’t have daylight saving time, but I was in the US during the transition this year, and it made me think, everyone and their mother remind you about it, really, if you open the internet, TV or a newspaper, there is really no chance you’re missing it, but at this point, when we’re switching is quite obvious, the real question is which of my clock enabled devices is auto-switching.

Computer – pretty sure it switches, need to make sure I got that enabled.

Microwave – pretty sure it doesn’t (fuck off, the microwave clock is supremely important, when I wake up in the middle of the night it’s the only thing that tells me if I should have another drink or a glass of water, I don’t want daylight saving time fuck with that).

Little hotel clock – hmmmm, no clue, can’t trust that thing, not on a day I’m flying, better use my cellphone, which leads me to -

Cellphone - I think it does, it should right? Yeah, I’m fine, I’m sure I am.

Cellphone <later, after totally legal weed made me slightly paranoid> - Wait, so it changes, but the alarm I set up it’s still okay, right? It should adjust, shouldn’t it? Damn, I never tried it, what if I’m late and miss my plane? Ffffffuuuuuuuu, let’s all do that in Beijing time, it doesn’t have daylight saving, I just need basic arithmetic here…

Cellphone <even later, after failing basic arithmetic > - okay fuck that shit.

Timer app I installed on my phone – I can do this, it’s midnight, gotta wake up at seven, that means seven hou… no, wait, that six hours. That was a close one.

Epilogue –

I wake up naturally (if you can call having a nightmare about oversleeping natural) at 6:45, the little hotel clock shows 8:45, fuck if I know why, I probably futzed around with it a bit too much. I freak out, jump out of bed, and get almost fully dressed before I decide to check my phone. I don’t trust it, I flip channels on the TV until I find one that show the time.

I get to the airport 3 hours before my flight.

But fuck it, I still like long summer days, I still don’t mind dark mornings, it’s going to take a bit more than wandering aimlessly at the terminal for a couple of hours to change my mind.

Fuck Comcast, But The Netflix Deal Didn’t Kill Net Neutrality

So Comcast made a deal with Netflix to improve streaming speed and everybody freaked the fuck out about how it’s the end of net neutrality

Let me walk you off the ledge here – no, it isn’t.

Now let get a couple of important points out of the way –

  • Net neutrality is an immensely important issue that is under real and serious attack.
  • Comcast is a fucking evil company and we should resurrect the decomposing body of Theodore Roosevelt so that zombie Teddy can trust bust their ass with his big stick.

That being said, this deal has very little to do with net neutrality, and maybe more importantly, it changes nothing in the way the internet operates, the only difference is that this time, the negotiation was done in public and that consumers felt its impact much more profoundly.

Before everything we must understand what net neutrality means, in simple terms, it means that internet providers cannot discriminate against specific website or services, meaning that data that comes from youtube are treated just as well as data that comes from my PigmyGoatPorn.edu site. But it doesn’t mean that bandwidth is free. Sure, if you run a shitty little blog that no one reads about you adventures in China you can get it for free, but anyone that ever hosted anything even remotely popular knows that mo bandwidth, mo money. And for good reason too, while the cables themselves can be considered for pretty much all intents and purposes to have an unlimited capacity, the actual computers that route that information cost money, so does the electricity that power them, the buildings that house them and the people that maintain them, and the more bandwidth you have, the more of all of these you need.

Netflix had paid money, a lot of it, to an internet provider called Cognet to get that bandwidth, the problem is that Cognet couldn’t provide them the bandwidth and performance they wanted, so they instead decided to pay for Comcast. This is more similar to a small site getting overwhelmed by traffic after getting posted on reddit and going viral than evil Comcast intentionally sabotaging Netflix.

Wait you might ask, if that’s the case, how come this only affected Comcast users, what gives?

Ugh, good question, and I was hoping you wouldn’t notice it since answering it requires us to delve into the most boring part of the internet – IXPs and peering. No, it’s not really complicated, just a bit dry, but if you really want to understand stuff like net neutrality (and you should, this is, as Diamond Joe Biden would say, “a big fucking deal”), you need to understand how the internet really work. So buckle up, it’s going to get technical in this bitch, I’ll try to spice up with dick jokes.

We often think of the internet as one giant network (at least some of us do), but that’s not really the case, the internet is made up of many networks run by many (mostly private) compantaies. In order for computers to communicate with each other (which is the essence of the internet) they need to be connected, usually by physical cables. Now a company can make sure all of its computers are connected (luckily, they don’t need to be connected directly, but a route must exists between them all) but how do those networks connect to each other?
Enter the Internet Exchange Point or IXP (sometime known as public peering), it’s a giant switchboard that many networks (usually ISPs) connect to and exchange internet traffic. Think of it as an orgy, only instead of transmitting STDs they’re transmitting videos of porn stars getting STDs. IXPs are generally regional and they are connected in a super fast and big network that is known as the internet backbone that is operated by a handful of giant telecom companies.
That system works really well for most companies, but Netflix isn’t most companies, Netflix account for about a third of nightly home traffic in the US, and like most big content providers, IXPs just don’t scale all that well for them. To get around that companies get a special dedicated “pipes” to other networks, where the unwashed masses of the IXP cannot interfere, and it’s called private peering.

In private peering, a network is directly connected to another, and like everywhere in the internet, if you use bandwidth of that network, you need to pay for it. Now Netflix didn’t actually do any of that themselves, they paid the aforementioned Cognet to do so. Cognet is a giant company, one of the most important telecoms in the world, you probably never heard of them since they manage large networks and don’t really deal with home users, and big part of their business is signing peering agreements with ISPs to make sure their clients get great network performance. Now, when two big networks are connecting to each other, instead of billing each other for the bandwidth they use, they often engage in settlement-free peering - effectively giving each other their bandwidth for free, like two people at a bar buying rounds of shots for each other, it kinda tend to even up at the end and generally not worth the hassle of detailed bookkeeping. This is a voluntary agreement, and no one, including net neutrality advocates like myself or the EFF (yeah, me and the EFF, totally same level) suggests that all ISPs should provide free private peering for everyone or anyone. The issue with Netflix is that it has a very asymmetrical bandwidth usage, much more data is streamed from their servers to Comcast users (e.g. the video of the overrated House Of Cards) than from Comcast users to Netflix servers (e.g. the search query for the overrated House of Cards), and like a dude who was buying a round of shots after a round of shots, Comcast eventually said enough (much like you should’ve said enough to the overrated House of Cards and watch Orange is The New Black instead; that hot redhead from that 70s show is a prison lesbian dammit, what is wrong you?).
Okay, they only sort of said enough, they didn’t cut off their peering agreement (what is known as depeering, and it’s something that happened in the past many times) they said “fuck it, this deal is not working for us, we’re not adding any more capacity to handle your network”, and as Netflix usage grew, the performance went down.

What happened today is that Netflix decided to drop Cognet (not completely, just their part of their peering service) and pay Comcast for that peering, this is part of what network nerds call “buying transit” – and this is not new, they have been paying for transit yesterday, today they just paid for better content delivery. Not to mention that pretty much everyone do it, youtube do it, amazon do it, facebook do it, when you pay for you ISP you do it, when your ISP pay for an IXP they do it, when an IXP connect to the backbone they do it, even educated fleas that run a flea porn sites do it, the norm is to pay for bandwidth, you may not like it, but this is how the internet operates ever since it stopped being a government program, today’s deal literally change nothing.

p.s.
With all that being said, while that deal itself seem pretty damn benign, it still a good idea to point some of the real issues it brings to the front -

  • While there is no evidence of abuse and discrimination in that deal, the consolidation of the telecom market increase the chance such things will happen in the future - Comcast has its own streaming service and there is no regulation that force them to provide similar deal to Netflix is it does to its own offerings.
  • Netflix, by the virtue of having a lot of money can negotiate a deal that a small startup company probably can’t.

But again, this is nothing new, the internet always worked liked this.

So what can be done?

You can do nothing, just let the market work as it wants, laissez-faire fans would argue that it would yield the best results, personally I think it will lead to the big players getting bigger and consolidating into a true monopoly that will end up hurting consumers (even more than the US’s shitty ISPs do).

You can try and regulate these companies, limiting their size (and thus bargaining power) and mandating fair and equal deals. Probably the most important thing here is to disallow ISP from being content providers.

But if you ask me, it’s time we start treating the internet like a utility and provide it publicly, yeah, people might shout SOCIALISM! but if the government can deliver mail and not turn into a communist hellscape, it can do it for email.

I don&#8217;t think I really get mobile gaming.

I don’t think I really get mobile gaming.

Presidents’ Day Spam

So some marketing genius at Microsoft decided that Presidents’ day is the best opportunity to spam me with offers to for contract phones.  
I’m pretty much used to lame, public holiday driven marketing efforts, but this one seem to be designed to personally piss me off (and bypass MS’s own spam filter, because our farts don’t stink and people totally want to read those special offers).
Right from the title, I could see this will not end well - 

"Sign constitutions, not contracts"?

First of all, this day is nominally Washington’s birthday, not the date of the signing of the constitution, which was September 17th, but I guess I can give it a pass, it’s all founding fathery, or something.
But more importantly, the constitution was more ratified than signed (there were people who signed it at the constitutional convention, but it is not generally considered a super important moment in US history, which is why everybody goes to work on September 17th).

You’re thinking about the declaration of independence, nameless marketing drone, aren’t you?

Yes, yes you are.

Fuck it, I’m not even going to be mad about the hashtags, but GWa$hington? FFS, even Kesha stopped doing the whole s=$ crap.

p.s.

Constitutions? like in plural?
Maybe they’re referring to the Jeffersonian concept that a constitution should expire after 19 years.

Oh shit, it all makes sense now, this is subversive commentary about how poorly a document from the 18th century fit to the realities of the twitter generation.

I’m so sorry marketing people for thinking you’re nothing but a bunch of lazy spam lords.

It&#8217;s always a good idea to base your rules and regulations on urban legends.I think they should ban eating pop rock and drinking soda,

It’s always a good idea to base your rules and regulations on urban legends.
I think they should ban eating pop rock and drinking soda,

Finally, I had it up to here with SD cigs.
Can&#8217;t wait for 4K to roll out.

Finally, I had it up to here with SD cigs.

Can’t wait for 4K to roll out.