The Third Horseman has Arrived

I am not a Bible scholar, but like any real Bible scholar I can cherry-pick passages to comment on. Here is some version or other of the Christian Bible describing the third horseman of the Apocalypse:

“(5) And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. (6) And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:5-6)

Other versions replace “penny” with “a days’ labor”. In other words, this passage doesn’t say there will be no food, it says that working people won’t be able to afford it. I’ll let “the oil and the wine” speak for itself.

The third seal is some guy on a horse telling us that a time will come when there exists a calamitous situation known as “working poor”. That a day’s wages cannot feed your family. Sure you can take the passage to mean that there will be shortages that drive up prices, or you can recognize that in one of the fattest nations on Earth the children of working parents don’t get enough to eat.

That guy with the balances in his hand reminds me a lot of the people arguing against living wages. The whole thing is framed as economics. That horseman is on the board of directors at Amazon, and Uber, and almost everywhere else. The horseman is working hard to make sure that bonuses to executives aren’t reduced because they have to pay the people who make them rich enough so those people can survive.

3

Cybertruck sighting!

My first first-hand look at the new Tesla Cybertruck was all I could have hoped for. It’s as ugly as the pictures make it seem! Even more telling, it was being towed.

In my experience, 100% of cybertrucks are broken.

4

Confirmed: Waiting is the Hardest Part

I feel better now than I have in a long time. My back is bothering me less, and my shoulder is almost functional. The fact I feel better is the only tangible evidence I have that I’m gravely ill.

Monday, medical science is going to address that issue, by making me feel like shit. The plan is to drip a chemical into my bloodstream that almost kills me, to make me well. Six times (at least to start with). In the next half-year I will suffer greatly to defeat a disease I don’t feel at all.

The Official Sweetie of Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas has been preparing. Ice packs for hands and feet; apparently during the infusions extremities can ache like hell. Calcium for bones. A bin to puke in while in bed. Preparation for whatever happens in my gut (it could go either way). I got a shirt with sleeves that open up to allow access to my veins. Beanies to cover my bald head.

Today we officially ran out of ways to prepare. We laid out the changes to my medications for the next few days in my big weekly pill organizer, and from here on, at least for a while, we will be reacting, rather then preparing. It’s all crazy and I would be so lost in all of this without The Official Sweetie by my side. In conversations with the health industry, I introduce her as my manager. This maze is bewildering and confusing, and without her I would likely spin in circles and fail.

But preparation is a big part of how Official Sweetie copes with shit and now the preparation is done. Monday big things happen, but that’s not until Monday. We are both rudderless as the river sweeps us along. We have nothing left to do but imagine the future and pass each other incredulous looks about the present and cry a lot. Tomorrow I will smog my little convertible and Try Not To think About Stuff. I think I will shave my head, because it may be years before I have a long beard again and I want to see myself with that look. I’m also curious about the scars I have up there, from past foolishness.

But tomorrow the ticking clock will be especially loud.

10

Through the Magic Donut

Thursday, after some delays I don’t fully understand, I spent an afternoon in the realm of science fiction. I was given a dose of a chemical from a heavily-shielded syringe, then put in the Radioactive Person Quiet Room for an hour, then my body was passed three times through the hole in a large, whispering machine.

The technology is amazing, and I will enjoy telling you about that. The experience of the technology is a bobsled ride down into your own head. I will tell you about that too, but it won’t be as fun.

As I describe the procedure to people, I get excited. The procedure is pretty amazing; the stuff of science fiction only two decades ago. Starting with the question “how can we detect where cancer cells are inside someone without cutting them open?” you quickly get to a place that has been a long time coming.

Medicine, you see, for the last century or so, has actually become a science. Cancer is now treated by the medical equivalent of engineers. Big Physics had its day, with massive particle accelerators and whatnot, but the priority has changed to using what Big Physics yielded to improve lives directly.

Take antimatter, for instance. Here’s the sequence of steps that led to PET scans:

  1. We need to find concentrations of cancerous cells.
  2. Cancerous cells are in overdrive, and consume lots of energy.
  3. If we can find cells consuming abnormal amounts of energy, we can find the cancer.
  4. Hungry cells demand lots of energetic molecules like glucose.
  5. Follow the money: if we can trace where the glucose is going, we can find the hungry cells. But how do we track the glucose?
  6. We can detect the source of gamma radiation very well, right through any intervening tissue. So if we had gamma-emitting glucose, we could follow it around.
  7. Hello, Fluorine-18. It is an unstable isotope, but its magic is that when it decays, it emits a positron. Antimatter! That positron won’t get far before it runs into an ordinary electron, and sure as you can say e = mc2, the m of the two particles becomes e, a gamma photon that can be detected.

After I waited for the tracer to make its way through my body, I was called into the Chamber of the Magic Donut. It is a room that is terribly ordinary — linoleum floor, fluorescent lights, standard drop ceiling — a surprisingly drab setting for the machine that filled the middle of the room. The machine itself, I didn’t stop to inspect when I got there. I had other thnings on my mind.

I thought perhaps there would be a bin where I could put my metallic belongings, but instead the Guardian gestured to a chair. “You can leave your stuff there.” I was a little bothered by the informality of it, but I put my stuff on the chair. I guess I was expecting something more planned – people will need a place to put their belongings. Or perhaps I was expecting something entirely more ceremonial.

I had been told to dress warmly, so I had worn sandals so I could put on winter socks when the time came.

“Don’t take off your shoes,” the very nice man said. He was large, and a little hunched over, and reminded me of a mythical creature tasked with guarding the sanctity of the chamber. “Your sweat is radioactive, and if you get it on the floor it could throw off the measurements.” It was not as cold in there as I had been led to believe, so I forwent the socks, and climbed up onto the Great Tongue Depressor – the platform that would pass me though the Hole of the Magic Donut.

So, loaded with 18L I lay down and allowed the Guardian of the Bridge to strap my hands to my side. I took a breath and closed my eyes.

The first two passes were quick; the first was just so the machines could measure my position. The second was a CT scan. Pf. That science fiction is old news now. Both those scans were over in a couple of minutes. Then came the PET.

It started from my thighs and worked its way up. By now many people had reminded me that it was important to hold still. So I did.

Another fun fact you might not know about me is that I have a skin condition on my face that can get itchy. It was only a matter of minutes before an itch on my face, unscratched, grew into something else. Like something was hollowing out a part of my cheek and replacing it with an ache designed purely to annoy.

But I held still, and every few minutes I would be moved a few inches. It was impossible not to think about where I was inside the donut and what the data it was gathering at that moment might mean. My pelvis, where there is certainly cancer – but has it reached bone? Then the gut, then the thorax (does my breathing make those images less reliable?) and finally the brain.

Shit. Please not the brain.

Each time the Tongue Depressor moved me within the Magic Donut, I had nothing better to do than imagine what it was seeing at that moment, and what that might mean. Imagination is a curse, sometimes.

There were at least two people in the control room; they probably shared knowing glances as the scan came to life in front of them, deciding when the image was good enough to move to the next slice.

But that was Thursday, and the weekend arrived before the radiologist could sign an assessment, so I have been waiting, less or less patiently. Tomorrow I hope I will learn the results, and see what the next phase of Science Fiction holds in store for me.

5

I Will Tell You if the Waiting is the Hardest Part when the Waiting is Over

Tomorrow I was scheduled for a true science-fiction medical procedure to find out just how bad things are inside me. As this reckoning has approached, my situation has become progressively more real to me. The outcome of the PET scan informs everything in my life going forward. I am emotionally incapable of making even the smallest of plans.

My appointment was canceled, less than 24 hours before go-time, for supply-chain reasons. Now I have to go to the back of the PET line. I’m told that the testosterone-killing therapy I’m already under will pretty much stop the threat from spreading, but it’s entirely unknown how bad shit is in there, and what I will be facing to get to the other side.

For now, I wait. The Official Sweetie of Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas waits. This is rough on her, as well. Maybe rougher. As the Big Day got closer, my own anxiety rose with it. Now the Big Day is pushed out for weeks, and I need to reel back my emotions.

Not sure I can, though.

Thanks to all you friends who have expressed your support. It helps. I thought I wouldn’t say more about this until I knew more, but the Not Fucking Knowing is what I have now.

2

Turns out I have Cancer

Not sure where to start with this, so I’ll just start talking. A year ago I was only a few weeks of commuting away from crossing the magical ten-thousand-mile mark on my workhorse bike. Now, I am barely any closer. After a ride, I would lose two days to a seized-up back.

After one ride, as I lay in bed with the heating pad underneath me, I reached around to adjust the pad and a muscle near my shoulder blade seized up into a knot you could see through my shirt.

I could not sit, I could not stand, I could not lie down. I would seek brief comfort on my hands and knees, my face pressed into the carpet, then pace the length of the house. After a sequence like that I would check the time and see that I was ten minutes closer to my appointment with the doctor. It didn’t help that parts of my right arm were numb as well.

It remains to be seen, but that agony may have saved my life.

That afternoon, I went to the doctor. She looked me over and prescribed me a larger dose of the medicine I was already taking. To make sure my body could handle it, she ordered some blood work. That was all well and good, but “I just want to be unconscious,” I told her. She relented and gave me an injection of a stronger variant of the anti-inflammatory she had already prescribed.

It helped some, I guess, but did not deliver me from disfiguring pain. (Literally – somewhere in there x-rays were ordered for my upper chest, and the images showed my spine was being pulled significantly to the right. Thus the numbness.)

Still, “muscle spasm” was the diagnosis. It happens.

A couple of days later, I got a call from the doctor. Could I come in for more blood work? The first results were fairly alarming. Back I went.

The results of those tests were apparently even more alarming. The back-of-envelope calculation they used said my kidneys were functioning at about 10%. Were I not lucid and upbeat, emergency dialysis was a likely recommendation.

I’m pretty sure I’ve left out some steps above, and I’m absolutely certain that I have left out the help and support not only of the Official Sweetie of Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas, but other family and friends nearby. The story doesn’t even get this far without them.

Multiple doctors followed, and after I stopped taking the pain meds, the lingering question was, “what’s with those kidneys, anyway?” Tests and specialists ensued.

I had heard enough stories about slow urine that I had thought little of it. A fairly normal old man thing. Something I would mention in my next checkup. But an enlarged prostate can put pressure on the kidneys, so that became an organ of interest.

And here is a Very Important Thing You Should Know: An enlarged prostate can be caused by exactly two things — infection or cancer. Infection can be cleared up; cancer is not so straightforward but the sooner you act the better. Men: if your pee is slow, don’t fuck around. See a doctor.

My prostate, it turns out, is chock-full of cancer. I’m not even sure why I have the fucking thing — it seems like a janky solution to a fairly simple engineering problem — but I have a prostate and it’s busy cooking up tiny little cellular death seeds to send through my body. The million-dollar question now is, where have those seeds taken root? It will be almost a month before I lie very still for a PET scan (the P is for positron – antimatter!) and then probably a few days after that to hear from a professional what the scan revealed. I would rather not wait that long.

But if you’re going to choose a cancer, prostate would be a good choice. Medicine has long focussed on Man Problems, and on top of that the prostate is an organ easily accessed by medication. I have good insurance, though to be honest I feel a little queasy about that. Everyone should have good insurance. I reserve the right to rant about that further at a later time.

By a couple of metrics, I’m pretty lucky. Lucky the cancer has been detected, lucky I have access to science-fiction-class care, lucky I can afford that care. The next month of uncertainty is going to be a grind. After that, I don’t even want to guess. Some therapy will follow that will be designed to destroy the bad cells in my body, while minimizing harm to the good cells. I have very consciously avoided reading the internet about these things. There will be plenty of time to sweat that shit later.

What seemed at first like a rough journey turned out to be the boarding platform for a train to the unknown. I’ll keep you all informed of my progress, if I feel like it.

6

The Real Mission: Impossible

There was a time, back when I was a kid, when I would get home from school in the afternoon, let myself in, set myself up with graham crackers and a tall glass of milk, settle into the bean-bag chair and watch Mission: Impossible.

From this distance I don’t remember all the circumstances that combined to create this quiet time between me and Peter Graves, but it was special. Each show ended with some bad guy walking through a door, knowing they had absolutely fucked themselves, while the MI team drove away in a nondescript van, peeling off latex masks and sharing a chuckle.

The beauty of the whole thing was that after the success of a ludicrously complex plan, that required flawless performances by a group of spies and actors with varied skills, Mr. Phelps and his team would vanish. Even then, the bad guy couldn’t be sure they ever existed.

The episodes didn’t end with shooting, or even confessions. They ended with moments. That’s how you write a story.

Many years after that, yet many years ago, when I heard they were making a Mission: Impossible movie, I was very excited. This was gong to be MY kind of thriller. Plenty of action and even more intrigue, when half a dozen people work in perfect harmony to achieve psychological dominance and destroy an asshole with minimum outward fuss. Winning a quiet war.

Nope. Just another superhero movie. No ensemble. No mental game. As antithetical to the source material as I, Robot was (well, almost — I, Robot was filmed on opposites day). But there’s money in the franchise; they keep making more. Tonight I saw a promotion for another Mission: Impossible superhero flick, this one shamelessly bearing “part one” in the title.

Honestly, I don’t begrudge them the franchise. They are making movies people who are not me will pay to watch. What angers me is that they burned the name, without paying it any respect. Now it will not be possible to make a Mission: Impossible movie true to the source and use the name to sell it.

4

I Went Back to East Hagbourne, and the City was Gone

Today I was reading an article that linked to a real estate listing in England. It includes a video. (DANGER! Ear worm!)

That was fun and cute and all, but it reminded me of a time I lived in a cottage some distance from London. I decided to pay a visit. I fired up Ye Olde Mappe Appe, zeroed in on East Hagbourne, and scanned up Blewbury Road looking for the pub near the brook.

No pub. That side of the road is now occupied by large, modern homes. The solar panels on the rooftops don’t fool me, these are English McMansions.

It makes sense. Nearby Didcot hosts the last super-high-speed train stop before London (at least it did in 1980). If I worked in London, East Hagbourne would be an ideal place to live, although only one of the three pubs I knew still stands. The Fleur de Lis was always the choice of the gentlemanly class in town, and now apparently that’s the only class remaining.

With all this change, I was not certain right away that the place I had called home for a little while still existed. I typed the address into Apple Maps, and was relieved to see it was still there, and a little bit delighted that the pin showed not only the address, but the home’s colloquial name. The cottage still stands.

Beyond the large new homes that line Blewbury Road, the fields remain. The land here is fertile, the rain reliable, and agriculture…

Holy shit Didcot has grown so much, usurping farmland to the point it has almost swallowed East Hagbourne. East Hagbourne also has doubled in size or more; entire neighborhoods of homes that look identical from space.

Compared to Orange County, the growth of Didcot is negligible. Just a little dot among the fields. But we have seen this show often enough to know how it ends. And if I worked in London, I would likely contribute to the destruction.

5

When Coding, Always use Descriptive Function Names

This evening I’ve been coding up something on a tight deadline. A few minutes ago I wrote a function named:

handlePluralTypeNameBecauseRESTWasInventedByIdiots()

REST is an acronym for… you can look it up if you care. It’s a way for code running in your browser to communicate with services off somewhere else. Some guy got his Phd making this nonsense up, and it has now become an industry standard. That guy is very lucky I was not one of the ones to review his dissertation, and the rest of the world is very unlucky that I wasn’t.

Like with HTML before it, someone came up with a half-assed solution to a real problem, and before the smart people in the room could say, “hey, that has some pretty serious flaws, but with only a little more effort we could fix most of them” the whole world went romping off with the flawed solution. And here we are.

Not only does REST violate previously-existing standards, it does so for no technical advantage. Servers and programming languages had to be updated to accommodate those violations. Maybe that should have been a red flag.

It would be SO DAMN EASY to fix most of the problems with REST. Use your head(ers)!

But here we are sweating over REST. And here’s a fun thing: for no technical advantage people who use this standard-violating standard have to understand the rules of pluralization in American English. At least in any implementation of REST I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Not only is that fucking annoying, it’s exclusionary. Sorry, kid in Senegal, we’re making a standard that disadvantages you.

Sure, you can get a code library to do plurals for you, and with any luck the rules in the browser code will match the rules on the server. Up until now, I’ve chosen the approach, “always name your data types in a way that just adds ‘s’ for the plural.” Tonight that wasn’t an option, so I a made a way for specific REST servers to keep only the rules relevant to them. More efficient and more reliable than someone else’s library.

And as I’ve often said, your code should express what it does without resorting to comments.

5

Quantum Leap is Out of Focus

Much like many of you out there, the Official Sweetie of Muddled Ramblings and Half-Baked Ideas and I will choose a show on television and watch the whole damn thing from beginning to end. Right now we’re working on Quantum Leap, with Scott Bakula.

I will not bother explaining the conceit of the show to you; but for a brief respite during season two, every episode starts with an explainer. Note to producer: The last six people watching your show in season five already know what is going on. But the explainer does eat minutes of airtime that would otherwise have to be filled with newly-produced entertainment.

In season one, there were some serious technical problems that made it all the way to my screen. Focus was dicey, and whoever was holding the boom mic was fully incompetent. Audio quality during a tedious monologue would degrade until suddenly it shifted to terrible ADR. No attempt was made to make the dubbed audio match the sound that had come before.

And no show I have ever seen has piled the stereotypes up in such a magnificent heap. Sexy Nun, Nice-Girl Stripper, and evil fight fixer were all in the same episode! Hoo, boy, when you get to the serious issues, the straw men and insulting archetypes come swarming out of the rafters. When a story about desperate measures so a Native American can die under the sky on his own land suddenly turns to scalping, you just want to kick Hollywood in the balls.

One of my favorite performances from Johnny Depp is when he played Ed Wood. Wood was perhaps the worst director ever, but Depp turned him into a hopeless optimist. As long as the words were there, as long as the actions were there, the kids watching would see through all the flaws and love the story as much as he did.

I do not credit the makers of Quantum Leap for such a fantasy. They were making a TV show for a major network, and it is baffling to me that simple, fixable flaws made it to the screen. Ed Wood would roll a scene and shout “Perfect! Move on!” even though the shot was a disaster. Somehow, the directors and producers of Quantum Leap were allowed to do the same thing.

“Good focus on Al’s ear,” I said last night.

There is a person on most sets whose entire job is to get the focus right. In some shots that’s incredibly complicated, keeping tight on a particular part of the action as actors move thought a scene. Other times, when people are holding still, it’s just about carefully measuring the distance from the subject to the lens, and getting everything set up right.

All that assumes, of course, that when the camera is rolling, that the subject is still at that same distance from the camera. Maybe the focus puller did their job, and then the actor moved. But these are professionals. Someone has to notice and speak up when the actors are off their marks.

And if you shoot three episodes in a row with serious focus problems, maybe you should realize that it’s time to change something. If you suck at focus, stop down the camera to make it more forgiving. Maybe the background is more distinct, and maybe your Director of Photography doesn’t like that, but tough shit, asshole. We’re putting the training wheels back on.

OSMRHBI and I have only four episodes left in the series, and we will watch them. We’ve come this far; we will see it through. At this point, I think the entire crew is saying the same thing — let’s just end it and go home — with the possible exception of the two stars of the show. It seems like they still give a shit, most of the time. Bakula is still the earnest doofus he was in the pilot, and that is the only thing that has earned this show a fourth season, let alone a fifth.

I have to say that this show confronts racism without blinking, and I appreciate that. The n-word is used by white cops, with all the bile and violence it carries. The word is also used by people who imagine themselves better, and prove they are not. Sexism is confronted, and while it took a few seasons, homophobia is brought into the network TV spotlight as well. This is a show with justice as a pillar of its very existence, and they are mostly brave about that.

The fifth and final season, when the writing was already on the wall, put our leaper in and around famous icons — Kennedy, Monroe, Presley. It felt desperate, but Official Sweetie and I started making shark jokes at the opener of season four.

And they all keep saying “leaped” instead of “leapt” and while the dictionary doesn’t support me on my distaste for that form it still bugs me.

* * *

Official Sweetie and I, in the scant hours since I wrote the above, have watched the final episodes of the series. The last episode is really pretty good. Well-written, and almost always in focus. If there is a little last-show-of-the-series indulgence, it’s thematically accurate and not overwhelmingly sappy. It could go down in the annals of great series endings but first you have to wade through a bog of shit to get there.

It’s over, now. We are done. There is better TV to watch, and better things to do with our lives.

5

The Best Glue

Recently I was installing a shower curtain rod, but not the normal straight-across kind, but one that turned in the middle to enclose two sides of a space.

The kit was comprehensive, with different methods of anchoring the curtain rod based on what it needed to be secured to. I surveyed all the pieces, then turned to the instructions.

I shit you not, this is absolutely how the written instructions started:

After our experiment, we changed the glue in the non-performing installation scheme to Chinese glue, which is better and stronger than the Japanese glue we used before.

Okay, while I question the wisdom of bringing up past failures to new customers, I do have to appreciate that our Chinese friends weren’t done yet. The instructions follow:

Our factory sells 4000 bathroom poles every day in the world, which is a large amount. My colleagues and I work late every day. We work day and night to bring better products to customers, and we hope every product we sell can help everyone.

This all seems a little defensive. “Hey! We’re doing our best, man!” But this is the instruction sheet, so at any moment there might be instructions. I had to keep reading. But next comes a plea that if there are any problems with installation, that you contact them first and they will make it better. An email address is provided that is a big number and is probably unique to this exact copy of the product.

Another paragraph follows, on the same theme. If there is a problem, we will make it right. Just give us a chance.

It’s funny and I will always laugh about Chinese glue, but what we also see here is a company that is learning that in listings at Amazon and the rest, customer reviews are what separates success and failure. Some dickhead customer doesn’t apply the inferior Japanese glue properly, gets pissy about it, and it can ruin a business. So they upgrade the glue, and improve the instructions, and forge ahead in a wild-west marketplace.

Meanwhile, some other company, who is using fucking Andorran glue for crying out loud (Andorran! The fuck do they know about modern polymer chemistry?) is flat-out paying people to give them good reviews. It’s tough for an honest company out there these days.

12

DevOps and the Invisibility of Success

Some of you may have heard that some new guy owns Twitter now. You may also have heard that despite the dire hand-wringing by <insert people you don’t like>, Twitter is still running. Therefore, you might be tempted to conclude, all those engineers weren’t really necessary in the first place.

There are a lot of people working around us right now whose job it is to keep bad things from happening. I worked in a very small tech company once, and the boss was constantly trying to reduce the hours of our only IT person because clearly things were running just fine. When the people are doing really well at keeping bad things from happening, we forget we need them at all.

Twitter manages gazillions of data, and they propagate that information around the world in near-realtime. So many ones, so many zeroes. And right now, all those tweets are still flying around, and we’re willing to believe for a moment that Elon Musk is not simply an idiot baby of blood emeralds, but some kind of business smart guy. Twitter is still running! But that’s a tribute to the hard-working people who don’t work there anymore.

Elon has seen things running smoothly, and has not stopped to credit the people who are responsible for that. Quite the opposite, in fact; he has sent them packing. The plane is autopilot; it is a credit to the people who built the plane that it may go quite a while before slamming into a mountainside.

7

Fool Me Once

HBO’s been pushing its new “Premium Television” series that takes place in the same world as Game of Thrones. I haven’t been paying attention, but I think it’s a prequel. There’s dragons and shit, so it might be cool. But…

The final season of Game of Thrones was giddily anticipated. HBO was on top of the world, producing the most talked-about show for years.

The final season of Game of Thrones also sucked. It sucked in very apparent and obvious ways, and also in subtler ways as well. From the writing to the CGI to the Starbucks cup, it was a train wreck. I say this honestly and sincerely: I could have done better, for half the cost.

The storytelling failure is the least forgivable. Sure, they were setting up for season after season that there was one human on the planet that could kill the crazy undead snow skeleton. And in previous seasons, we watch her journey into something incredible and we are FULLY ON BOARD.

Then in the final season there’s the big battle: slaughter, slaughter, slaughter, a few heroic deeds, a heroic death or two, then the girl kills the supernatural symbolic threat from the north and everyone says, “whoo, that was close!” They wipe their brows and ten minutes later the threat to the very existence of humanity is forgotten.

Before the first frame was shot, that story should have been challenged. But it wasn’t. The writers who didn’t care were given a free pass by producers who didn’t care.

Even before production for the season began, when people are reading the story and deciding their own personal goddam legacies in the industry, that story wasn’t challenged. The thing that (we thought) symbolized the extinction of the human race is beaten in an ordinary battle, and there’s high-fives and hugs and then it’s on to the absurd conclusion. It’s video-game logic; just another boss to beat, all the symbolism of life and death trampled in the rush to just get this goddam thing over with.

It’s pretty clear the whole production ran out both of money and the ability to care. I can hear the director say, “fuck it, we’ll fix it in post,” and move on — without considering that maybe post didn’t have the budget to fix all that shit. But no one cared. Not even the people who hoped to extend this dynasty into other shows.

I don’t know the specifics of why that production ran out of steam. Why they stopped caring. Money, exhaustion, boredom with the subject. But the last season of GoT was a sloppy mess, and the brand will never be the same. If the goal was to be Marvel With Swords, they fucked up.

I will not be watching the new production. I like the dragons and whatnot, but I will not invest any time in this show until the final episode of the final season is aired. I do not trust these people. “OMG OMG OMG that episode was so awesome” my friend will say, and I will reply, “that’s where they get you.” Unless they put Vince Gilligan in charge of the ending, I will wait.

I don’t know how to calculate the cost to HBO of that shitty conclusion to their biggest show ever, but I guarantee the cost to fix that season is less that what they have lost because their new show isn’t must-watch, but simply “whatever”.

I suspect, (but I don’t know), that there were people at HBO saying of the final GoT Season, “We have to push the release. This is shit.”

“Do you know how much that would cost?” is the obvious response.

But none of the big-wigs considered the cost of not fixing it. The cost HBO is about to feel, no matter how much they spend on marketing. We don’t trust them anymore.

6

Antibiotics are Anti-Life

It’s right there in the name! And that’s only ONE of the reasons people should avoid antibiotics:

  1. Anti-Life, as mentioned
  2. You need to be careful what you put in your body.
  3. Antibiotics have directly caused a higher percentage of the US population to be infertile.*
  4. Antibiotics contain sunspots, just like vaccines do.
  5. Amoxycillin has G6 microchips in it. Way worse than G5!
  6. Some nut job on the Internet says that antibiotics are just a way for THEM to control you.
  7. People give cows antibiotics, and just look at them. Fuckin’ herd animals!
  8. I AM that nut job. And I’m telling the truth, God as my Witness. Well, at least about #3. That’s true.
  9. Don’t listen to me; do your own research. Only don’t listen to THEM. They’re all liars.
  10. Snarglmuffins.

There is the part of me that says, “Jerry, discouraging people from taking life-saving medicine is BAD! Capital B-A-D!” But maybe I’m saving lives here. The sooner people who act with no regard for the safety of their fellow citizens die off, the safer the rest of us will be.

So fuck it. I’m all about aiming an anti-antibiotic campaign tailored straight for the anti-vaxers. Use their words, make them imagine themselves heroes set upon in an egregious age, and let them die of a routine infection. Not so much murder as assisted suicide, and for the greater good.

* By massively increasing the average human life expectancy, antibiotics have increased the percentage of people past child-bearing age.

7

The Trump Premium

I’ve been going to a Web site fairly regularly to check on the movements in the price of Bitcoin and other crypto tokens. This has exposed me to a lot of advertisements to invest in precious metals.

Most of those ads are for coins that are either one ounce of silver or one ounce of gold. Not coins in the “legal tender” sort of way, but round things made of pure metal that are struck with some sort of decoration.

While silver currently shows trading at $19.86 per ounce, I can buy a handsome silver coin for $24.27. The coin will have a picture on each side. Maybe liberty or the ol’ “Don’t Tread on Me” snake. That picture is apparently worth about four and a half bucks.

Unless that is, you want your coin stamped with the image of Donald Trump. In that case, the coin will cost you $25.78. Same amount of silver. Just a bigger markup because the buyer is making a value judgement with his testicles, rather than his brain. (I used the male pronoun intentionally, which now I see is a disservice to all the idiots who identify with different pronouns. But I’m leaving it, so I can keep this parenthetical comment.)

So.

There is a significant market in which people will pay extra for any random shit if it has Trump’s picture on it. I picture running a booth in a flea market, and buying shit from all the other booths, putting a Trump sticker on all that stuff, and selling it for 30% more. (Note: this blog episode is NOT filed under get-poor-quick.)

The idea scales. GMC Tundra Trump Edition. (Note to self: research what model of truck was used to commit murder by the “good people” in Charlotte.)

But in between those extremes is where the real money is. I’m sure most of this stuff already exists: Trump beach chairs. Trump shoes. Trump lamp shades. All that shit. Doorknobs, dildos, drapes. Trump condoms that are actually morning-after pills.

As I type this, I realize that all that shit is out there already. I’m not going to think of a new place to sell Trump’s face to his idiot idolizers that hasn’t been exploited already. But that won’t stop me from trying.

Froot Loops! Now with more Trump!

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