Archive for November, 2016

it didn’t take long

It didn’t take long to put the lie to Mr. Trump’s pleasant victory speech.

The head of Mr. Trump’s domestic-policy transition team is a guy named Ken Blackwell. You’ve heard of him as a GOP officeholder in Ohio, but he’s also with the Family Research Council, an all-out no-holds-barred hate group aimed at LGBT people.

I’ve written a lot about the HRC in the past, on my personal journal, and for mailing lists; Mr. Blackwell personally believes my partner Anna and I are sins against God’s law, that we are worse than “barnyard animals,” and so on. Like Mr. Pence, very much into the whole “torture us into conversion” scene.

The FRC as an organisation supported outlawing us directly, too. And it has a long history of serving as a generator of newtype blood libel screeds asserting… well, anything they can come up with that makes LGBT people look like monsters and demons. They made it their job.

And now, they’re preparing a list of executive orders for Mr. Trump to execute in his first hundred days. A lot of them were items they put in the Republican platform. They include removing as many protections for LGBT people as they can, and bonus points like allowing health care providers to refuse care to queers. Since they’re inside his transition team, they’ll get those executive orders.

At the same time, an allied group, the so-called “National Organisation for Marriage,” looks forward to working with the Trump administration. They’re the biggest, most focused anti-marriage-equality organisation, and were almost dead before now. They plan to work with Mr. Trump to pick “justices [who] will inevitably reverse the anti-constitutional ruling of the Supreme Court imposing same-sex ‘marriage’ on the nation in the Obergefell decision.”

They’re two justices away from that; they’re three away from going after Lawrence v. Texas (2003), which struck down state laws making me illegal. One justice is effectively already in the pocket, thanks to the GOP deciding that they’d only confirm justices within their own party, so really, it’s one away and two away, respectively. And if for some reason you’re not clear on it, Mr. Trump is onboard with this.

NOM call all this “The Plan.” I think it’s kind of hilarious that they’re going with the Cylon motif for a step-by-step route to extermination. But, well, on top of everything else, the Cylons were radical Abrahamic monotheists, so it fits.

Basically, big swaths of domestic policy are being farmed out to the fundamentalist evangelical movement. And that movement quite explicitly wants to wipe me off the face of the planet.

Mr. Trump’s alt-right base is thrilled with all of this, of course. And why wouldn’t they be? After all, they’ve got one of their own leading the transition team, and the author of Arizona’s infamous “Papers Please” law also onboard. And there ain’t no party like an alt-right party ’cause the party don’t stop until they’ve killed everyone. Right now, they’re working on a campaign to terrify and intimidate vulnerable people – mostly women – in the hopes of driving them to suicide. (Pretty much assume every kind of cw on those links, by the way. It’s bad.)

I wasn’t joking, or exaggerating, when I said they’ve declared war upon us.

So. What do we do?

First, survive. Here is a planning document for various targeted groups, in English and Spanish, to try to help people survive the next few years. It’s a work in progress, being updated regularly. I am not the author. There are various things you can do for yourselves that they can’t undo, as long as there is any shred of law left hanging.

But watch for those shreds being stripped away – that’s when things will get extra dangerous. The GOP already spent the last few months ignoring court orders to stop voter suppression in four states; things like that will only get worse for the next couple of years, because like most authoritarians, Mr. Trump is a big believer in personal rule, as opposed to institutional rule, and doesn’t have the slightest fuck to give about law.

Fortunately – and this is the closest to a ray of light I can throw in here – that tendency can be played. Personal rule is all about personal alliances, and Mr. Trump is already keeping enemy lists for the explicit purpose of revenge. Remember that, and keep track of it, because that will be exploitable.

If Mr. Trump makes enough Republican enemies in the Senate – and if the Democratic Party can be convinced, somehow, to stand up against this crap – we’ll be able to limit the damage. And he’s real good at making enemies.

eta: Wow, a transition-team shakeup already? What a clown car. Here’s what NPR is reporting as the new roster as far as we know it. VP-elect Mike Pence (who also professionally and religiously hates LGBT people) is now leading the team entirely (Alt-right -1, fundamentalist right +1), Mr. Bannon has been demoted but only one level, to the executive committee. (Alt-right: no change.) Mr. Thiel of PayPal – who famously wrote that elections are incompatible with “freedom” – is added at the executive team level. (Authoritarian-right +1, I guess?) I’m not seeing Mr. Blackwell anymore but we don’t have a complete roster, maybe he’s just shuffled around in there. I don’t even know. (Possible fundamentalist right, -1.) Ben Carson was also added to the exec team (fundamentalist right, +1, but as they go, not as professionally hateful towards LGBT people as Blackwell.)

eta2: Here’s the complete announcement about the shakeup. I have sent email to the official contact address inquiring about Ken Blackwell. More if and when I have it.

things that i am not

things i was not, already:

  • a believer that eventually, americans will do the right thing

things i am varying degrees of likely not to be, in two to four years:

  • legally married under American Federal law
  • legal as a person in all American states

things i will almost certainly never get to do now:

  • face an election which is not existential

things i cannot fucking believe, even given all of the above:

  • That the Americans handed the fucking nuclear codes to a violent, racist misogynist with no fucking impulse control whatsoever and a history of talking about using nukes in the middle east.

Watch out for your friends. People of colour, queers, women just in general – post-Brexit, there was a bunch of violence in Britain against the hate targets, and this was very, very much a hate campaign, and it won. Harassment, pretty reprisals, and imtimidation will be endemic.

It was neat watching Mr. Trump read his victory speech off teleprompters, so carefully. If he hadn’t been spewing a constant stream of lies the whole campaign, if I had any reason whatever to believe a single word of it, I’d even think it was nice.

But in this world, if you’re not a straight white man, you’re a target. Wonder Woman the fuck up, because that’s how it’s gonna be; this was a declaration of war.

I popped in on 4chan a few times last night, watching /pol/, and of course they’re ecstatic – and one thing that struck me was yeah, they hate blacks and Jews and anybody else not white enough for them to varying degrees, but even in victory, they really, and I mean really, hate women.

And at the Trump rally last night, what was it, still, in the audience? “Lock her up!” over and over again.

Reprisals against women, large and small – that’s what they’re looking forward to the most. Ending feminists. Ending the “cucks.”

So guess what, kids. We’re all supervillains now.
eta: Anna has a post up, here.

i was going to write another election post, and then i did

I was going to write another election post, one that involved phrases to Trump voters like, “be a rationalist for one minute longer, voter, what is your analysis?” – but I just couldn’t.

But I still want to reach out to those mostly straight white guys who don’t understand why queers, people of colour – hell, women in general – are in such fear this election, when they aren’t. And it’s actually pretty simple.

It’s because there are pretty much zero straight white guys for whom this election is existential. That’s the difference, right there. Polling data relayed by indicates that, for heterosexual white men, as a demographic group, this is being seen as a fairly normal election – one with extreme rhetoric and a particular contempt for the Democratic Party’s candidate, but “normal.”

But there are lots of people, including me, for whom Mr. Trump’s stated plans are specifically existential matters. See Mr. Trump’s friendliness with white supremacists combined with the GOP’s plainly racist vote suppression efforts, and Mr. Trump’s history of legally actionable racism. See Mr. Trump’s pledges to jail Ms. Clinton if he’s elected. See Mr. Trump’s pledge to appoint justices only if approved by an organisation which thinks states should be able to make me illegal by fiat. See Mr. Trump’s well-known and continuing contempt for women – and as a blinding nexus of misogyny and racism, can you imagine what the reaction would’ve been to Mr. Obama had he sired five children by three wives, talked about how sexy is daughter was, and bragged about grabbing women’s pussies? Ye gods.

Now, I’m kind of used to every election being existential for me. But one of the things Mr. Trump has done has expand that sphere of targeted groups, and that’s a huge shift. By making the white supremacist and virulently misogynist ~~alt-right~~ a political factor, by making all that awfulness campaignable, he’s extended varying degrees of that horrible state out to pretty much everybody not a straight white guy.

(That speech about the secret cabal of international bankers controlling the world a couple of months ago, that really brought out the anti-Semites. He hit every keyword and phrase short of “dirty Jew” in that one.)

So now everything’s existential all the time, and every election is life or death, is citizen or not, is everything-short-of-bombings political war. And republics do not work when elections become existential.

Oh, they can tolerate it for small enough minorities, as the experience of queers over the last couple of decades shows – but not for large percentages of the population. And thanks to Mr. Trump and his courting of the “alt-right” – and the Republican Party’s general abandonment of the idea of a “loyal opposition” – that’s the path we’re on right now.

So maybe this does come back around to my original theme after all. Where are we? Not just you, whoever is reading this, particularly straight white guys for whom the existential nature of this clusterfuck has not yet come to apply – where are we all?

Look at what’s happened over these last many months. Look at where we are now. A victory by Mr. Trump makes this election – this lunacy – the new normal.

Be a rationalist for one minute longer, would-be Trump voter, and tell me – what is your analysis?

as of 2:30am saturday morning

As of 2:30am Saturday morning, I had a digital audio workstation again, lost partitions recovered – or, well, the important one recovered, the swap was damaged somehow but who cares, it’s swap.

It’s a good thing I was able to stop Tech Sport 7 from making trying to make the free space “active,” who knows what that would’ve done.

But, like a fool, I’m still trying to fix the Windows side, so I’ve been making a backup of the current Windows partition (validation pass just finishing up now) and then I’ll restore from a July backup, made before it stopped accepting security updates. Getting that out of the archives took 37 hours because yeah I’ll be re-evaluating my backup system. (It’s fine in theory but anything that involves making 1T images is probably not the best solution.) But it’s out, so as soon as validation of the backup of current Windows passes, we’ll be ready to try it.

What a mess.

i kind of had a plan for today, but

i was going to post the more than vaguely punchdrunk tweetstorm from my 13-hours-and-counting marathon run-in with Microsoft technical support about why windows hadn’t been letting me install security updates since AUGUST directly into the blog, because some of it is pretty funny

and i’m gonna do that anyway

but the seventh (7th!) tech sport did something i specifically said we cannot and must not do and destroyed my desktop machine, which drives all my audio software

(seriously, completely levelled it, i’ve got partition recovery running right now)

(broken boot table, no more linux system partition, no more swap partition, can’t even get to windows loader because grub2 is 100% made of “wot?”)

so i just storified the twitter rant instead of making a fake collection here (it’s pretty ragehappy) and then played the hilariously stupid current special brawl in overwatch, which is all pharah and mercy (phamercy brawl! <3) and double TriplQUADRUPLE kill Play of the Game until i felt better.

because it turns out i get pretty good at smashy brawls when i’m, like, really mad and have rocket launchers.

so, yeah. fun? enjoy my ranty goodness while I’m rebuilding my machine, again.

fundamentalism, satan, and the end of a loyal opposition

I want to write an essay, some of which I’ve written before, the rest of which I have explained in person many times; it’s about how the Republican Party lost the idea of the loyal opposition. But it’s hard to write.

It’s not hard because it’s all that complex; it’s not hard because it’s difficult to explain. It’s just too intimidating, too nerve-wracking in the context of an authoritarian movement wagon-hitched to a misogynistic racist who likes to talk about jailing his political opponents, ordering war crimes, reinstituting torture, throwing nuclear weapons around in the middle east, and still pulling 45% in polls.

It’s not supervillainy; I could, obviously, get behind that. But supervillainy… supervillainy is a whole different story to this kind of raw lust for oppression, this clamour for unrestrained power, and the ending of opposition in any form.

We like to talk big, vampires do. “I’m going to destroy the world.” It’s just tough guy talk. Struttin’ around with your friends over a pint of blood. The truth is, I like this world. You’ve got… dog racing, Manchester United, and you’ve got people. Billions of people walking around like Happy Meals with legs. It’s all right here. But then someone comes along with a vision. With a real… passion for destruction.

— Spike, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

No, this isn’t supervillainy; this isn’t art. This is the slow, grinding, boot in the face. I mean, sure, almost every election of my adult life is existential to one degree or another; that’s what happens when a political movement decides your existence is an offence to their ravenous, all-consuming god of lust for violence. It’s not fair, and it never gets better, because fundamentalism never gets better, and it grinds.

(A lot more people than usual are feeling that grind this year. Folks, this is every election, for queers. Welcome to the horrible, horrible party. I’m sorry.)

The thing is – this wasn’t inevitable. It was a process, one that started decades ago, with the rise of modern political fundamentalism in the 1970s. They helped get Ronald Reagan elected, changing the course of American politics, launching a long Republican cycle.

But they didn’t get what they wanted out of Reagan. Not really. Sure, they got anti-abortion/anti-equality votes, and they got a government that was perfectly happy to let AIDS kill tens of thousands of queers while they crowed about it as God’s Punishment Upon the Homosexual, a particularly specific plague – if you ignored Africa, which they didn’t care about either – and they got a long-term squeeze put on women’s health. But not what they wanted.

And they’re not stupid; they didn’t get all that much of what they wanted because they didn’t get the real force of the party behind them. So they complained about that, inside the party, and they were told: you’re with us, but you’re not of us, you haven’t put in the work to build the party, like everyone else has. “Put in the work,” they were told, “and you’ll get your turn, just like us.” That’s how party politics works.

So they signed up. They started putting in that work, filling out those volunteer positions, moving up the ladders of power.

But the funny thing about political parties is that they aren’t just workplaces. They’re social environments. They’re clubs. They’re circles of like-minded friends. Arguably, as of late, they’ve been tribes, which is every bad.

The same is true of fundamentalist movements, and – particularly in the American South – churches, which are often the social nexus of smaller communities. They have norms, informed by their beliefs. They have assumptions, and rules, and ideas about themselves and others, and such ideas are contagious.

Now, American evangelical fundamentalism has a long history of being enamoured with the Book of Revelations. They like it about as much as they do the old testament books, particularly those which lay down punishments upon others, like Leviticus. Being obsessed with the end of the world, and the return of Jesus, it’s very attractive.

And back as they were working their way into becoming the GOP – and going into the end of the millennium – they started spending a lot of time on Revelation 3:15-16. You’d hear it on fundamentalist radio, a lot, specifically in religious-political programming. To wit:

(15) I have known thy works, that neither cold art thou nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. (16) So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

That’s Jesus (or Jesus as channeled by John), if it isn’t clear. The way they’ve taken this – and the way they were teaching this, most specifically in a political context – is that there’s no such thing as moderation. There is no neutral ground, be hot or cold in my mouth, or I will spit you out. You embody fervent support with no upper bound to the fervency – more is always better – or you’re the opposition. Moderation is as bad as opposition to JESUS.

That’s problematic enough before you add in that for these religious evangelical fundamentalists, religiously speaking, opposition is literally Satan himself. And since fundamentalism is all about living your religion, is that religion incorporated into your social life? Oh my yes, absolutely.

That is the social and political culture the fundamentalists brought – already fully formed – into the Republican party. Hot, or cold. Fervently LIVING JESUS, or demonic evil incarnate, with no limits, respite, or quarter morally justified.

And politics are social. It’s also policies, some, sure, but mostly, there’s a lot of who you get on with, and how. As the evangelical fundamentalists moved into the party ranks, and made friends, they brought their culture with them, and those attitudes – well, in a competitive political environment, they’re going to be awfully useful. Awfully useful, and awfully attractive, even if you don’t really believe it.

Which is how you get claims that Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama are literally, personally, demonic entities floated around by people close to the Republican nominee.

Can you imagine – ever – Warriors For God, self-assigned paladins, accepting the literal devil winning an election? Is that ever going to be recognised as legal? As legitimate?

Of course not. There is truly no such thing. And while there’s a good chunk of the GOP that knows better, that genuinely aren’t lying when they say that’s not how they see it…

…that’s still how they react to opposition victory, emotionally, because that’s their social environment now. And the non-fundamentalist Republicans will invent reasons, find rationalisations*. Excuses that would hold absolutely no traction applied to their own tribe become INCONTROVERTIBLE! when applied to the Enemy, and they’ll build up opposition into the evil that is socially necessary to force them to vote for their side’s candidate – even if it’s a candidate they kind of hate.

Myths about Ross Perot costing Mr. Bush an election? Myths about birth certificates and secret homosexuality? Conspiracy theories about mass election thievery where the lack of evidence becomes proof of fraud? All obviously true** in that mindset.

Because Satan. Because pure, unmitigated evil, and all the rage that goes with it, whatever that is. Currently, it’s assigned to Ms. Clinton. But it will be assigned to any opposition leader.

If all this sounds overblown, consider, if you would:

Hillary Clinton faces intense animosity as she approaches White House
The Toronto Star – October 30, 2016

WARRENTON, VA.—”She’s a whore,” said Jim Brewster, a 62-year-old farmer, as he walked into the bakery for some coffee.

“Murderous, rotten, no-good, pious … bitch,” said Waldo Ward, a 60-something retiree, as he left Walmart with Halloween candy for the neighbourhood kids. “She should be taken out and shot. Absolutely.”

“I confess that I’m a Christian, and I shouldn’t hate, but it’s awful close,” said Charles Graves, a smiling 71-year-old recently retired from a career in logistics.

“It’s not like I’m not a Donald Trump fan,” said Rusty Gibson, 47, an electrician. “But it’s like good versus evil.”

It’s like good versus evil.

Because, in their social environment, it is. It is good versus evil. That is the social climate brought to the Republican party by the evangelical fundamentalist movement. Scratch off a couple of layers, and the opposition is Literally. Satan. Because Jesus.

To expect acceptance of opposition victory (on any front), to expect quarter, to expect them not to be mapping out their impeachment proceedings before the election even takes place is naive at best.

How else could a party which claims to participate in a republican form of government talk seriously about a “permanent majority”?

Well, spoiler: it doesn’t. It has to give up on one, or the other, and what they’re giving up on right now is democratic elections. That’s why they’ve nominated a demi-strongman, that’s why they’re forthrightly engaged in massive voter suppression (and being sued in three states and counting)… and that’s why they’re falling back into line behind Mr. Trump.

This is a fantasy; it doesn’t actually happen. Most of Mr. Trump’s rise in the polls
is Republicans abandoning Mr. Johnson and coming home.

And all of that is why the overtly racist, misogynist, and demi-fascist “~~alt-right~~” loves all of this so very, very much. Mr. Trump is a crisis, but Mr. Trump isn’t the crisis. Mr. Trump is a symptom. The cultural implosion that is a religious fundamentalist ethnoparty’s growing abandonment of democratic politics – that is the crisis.

*: There’s a whole ‘nother article to be written about how the recent generalised recognition that people are more likely to rationalise non-rational decisions than make rational decisions to begin with is making it easier to abandon rational decision-making by providing an excuse, an “out,” a reason not to even try to apply rationality. This also feeds into authoritarianism.

**: There’s another ‘nother article to be written about how fundamentalism judges the truth and value of evidence based upon whether it supports pre-existing “Biblical” conclusions; it’s their entire response to empiricism. It’s the core of “scientific Creationism” and “Biblical science,” and everyone else calls it “confirmation bias” but held up as an ideal. Knowing confirmation bias exists in order to compensate for it to see more clearly is one thing; embracing it as the only valid approach to truth is another entirely. But that, too, is an effect of the social and cultural merger of the evangelical fundamentalists and the GOP. Everyone has confirmation bias; fundamentalism turns it into a deep, deep fetish. But, well, neither this nor the immediate above fit here.

mod report: oktava mk-012/mc-012 microphone

Oktava has some great microphone designs. But the quality of the components can be pretty random, particularly in the used market, since a nontrival number of those were made in the early post-Soviet era. My two 012s sounded pretty different – one in particular rather unpleasantly harsh – so I implemented Recording Magazine’s recommended component upgrade* on the harsh one, which we’ll call Nr. 1.

Nr. 1 may have been modded a bit before. It’s certainly been opened before; one of the three screws was stripped and useless, the other was jammed badly. I had to drill both out, so I’m hoping I can order replacements. The third was fine.

As soon as I had the microphone open, I saw what Recording meant by random components. The key transistor was a make so old that it had a metal shield ground cap, and separate lead to that cap, something I haven’t seen in gear made after about, I don’t even know, 1978? I also saw what they meant by “fragile circuit board,” because wow, you could lift these circuit board traces with an overly-aggressive hair dryer. Take care!


Still, it was mostly a matter of being methodical and not rushing things, and in good time, I had the key components upgraded, with no surprises other than the transistor’s extra lead.

These are three unmodified before/after snippets in one recording – recorded under identical conditions other than the internal microphone electronics – of Oktava mk-012/mc-012 nr. 1 in my studio. Even on laptop speakers, I can hear the harshness, particularly in the first sample. In all cases, it’s pre-modification first, then post-modification after:

Oktava MC-012 nr. 2 sounded very different to nr. 1, before; opening it, I could see that the components used were of a significantly more modern variety. It may well have been made later, which would be part of that. Now, the two microphones sound much more like each other, indicating that nr. 1 really was meaningfully different in component quality.

Here is a recorded comparison of nr. 2 (still factory) and nr. 1 (upgraded). These recordings were made simultaneously, with the two microphones right next to each other. The differences are much subtler, but I think the upgraded nr. 1 has a bit more presence – or maybe sense of stage – than the factory nr. 2. Despite being mono recordings, it’s almost like there’s a slightly better stereo image in the modified nr. 1… but give a listen and hear for yourself, see what you think.

You’ll definitely need headphones to have any chance of hearing anything interesting here. Factory nr. 2 comes first in all cases:

So, all in all, very glad I did this to nr. 1; pretty sure I’m going to go ahead and do it with nr. 2 as well, though I expect a much less dramatic change.

The only thing I’m thinking about now is – there’s a bank of capacitors in back. They’re good ones – Philips, not generic, which have a good durability and spec-compliance record. (I don’t know whether they’re original; some Oktava 012s shipped with quality caps already in place, and their track record has improved with time.) So I shouldn’t need to upgrade them – and the article at Recording Magazine says not to bother if you already have “improved” capacitors.

But I don’t know how old these are, and electrolytics have a lifespan. That’s measured both in calendar time (years), and in use – tho’ the latter is in tens of thousands of hours, and these mics are certainly nowhere near that.

The small downside is time spent, the large downside is the possibility of circuit board damage, which wow I don’t want. The upsides would be 1. possible sound improvement if they are aging already, and 2. Never having to think about it again, in practical terms.

So I dunno. Get it out of the way, or leave sleeping caps lie? Hm.

*: errata for the linked article: Capacitor “C6” in the parts list is actually capacitor C1; there is no “C6” in the build description or circuit diagramme; I assume this is a typo.

Also, some of the items in their parts list are no longer made, but they have exact replacements. R1/R2 exact replacement part number as per my October 2016 Digi-Key invoice: MOX200J-1000ME-ND. Capacitor C1 (listed as “C6” in parts list, see previous paragraph) current part number: 445-4737-ND. Capacitor C2 current part number: 399-1418-ND. Capacitors C3 and C4: 4073PHCT-ND. Capacitor C5: 4047PHCT-ND. Mostly, the substitutions are lead-free versions replacing earlier versions with lead.

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