Hate Kills: Leelah Alcorn died on December 28, 2014, age 17

Leelah Alcorn (November 15, 1997 – December 28, 2014) was a Transgender teen girl from Ohio who had the misfortune of having fanatical fundamentalist christian parents.  She came out to them as Transgender, but soon after they made their intent clear: they were going to subject her to the abuse and torture of “reparative therapy”.  In despair, Leelah wrote a suicide note, and later walked into the path of a tractor trailer, killed instantly.

In the days before her death, her “parents” took her out of school, deleted her facebook account, took away her cell phone and all means of communicating with her friends. Her friends loved and accepted Leelah for who she was.

I don’t give a damn that the “official cause of death” was suicide.  Leelah’s parents hate and religion murdered her.

More below the fold.

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Cancer Sticks: The first and last ‘marlboro man’ has died

Between 1954 to 1999, six different men played the “marlboro man” in advertising, pretending to be cowboys in an attempt to sell a toxic product to toxic masculinity.

Of the six, five were heavy smokers and died of smoking related illness: Wayne McLaren, David MacLean, Eric Lawson, Tobin Jackson, Dick Hammer. The cigarettes earned the nickname “cowboy killers”.

The very first “marlboro man” in 1954 was Robert Norris.  He died in November 2019, at age 90. Norris was a lifelong non-smoker.

So why was he selling that crap?

Original ‘Marlboro Man’ Robert ‘Bob’ Norris has died

The rancher…best known for playing the original “Marlboro Man” has died after a life spent not smoking.

Robert ‘Bob’ Norris died in the care of Pikes Peak Hospice in Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Nov. 3, according to a statement released by Tee Cross Ranches, which he founded. Norris was 90.

Norris, who was “never a smoker,” was featured in the commercials for 14 years, according to the statement. He abandoned the advertising campaign when Norris “felt he was setting a poor example for his children,” the statement added.

Cover To Cover: Juliana Hatfield gets more amazing year by year

Two years ago, I mentioned Juliana Hatfield’s political album Pussycat, an album of original songs about a certain Annoying Orange individual (e.g. “Short Fingered Man”).

In 2018, she released Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John, recording songs I grew up hating and turning them into songs I love.  Early in 2019, she released Weird, an album of all new material.

And now in November 2019, she has released Juliana Hatfield Sings The Police, a selection of her favourite songs from the world’s most famous fake punk band.  Oh my word, it’s bleeding brilliant, and she added something new to each one, only the album’s closer “It’s Alright For You” sounding even remotely similar to the original.

Hatfield is one of the most consistent recording artists I’ve ever heard.  Not just consistent in how prolific she is (eighteen studio albums in 28 years, more than most acts) but the quality of material.  Finding a weak song on a JH album is like finding an honest politician (e.g. AOC).

Youtube playlists are linked below the fold.

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Two Weeks To Go: Taiwan’s presidential election is on January 11, 2020

Taiwan’s national election for the Presidency and Legislative Yuan (LY) takes place on January 11, 2020, two weeks before Chinese New Year.  The president is elected on “first past the post” but the LY has proportional representation.

In 2019, Tsai Ing-Wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) looked like a lame duck candidate unlikely to be re-elected. But a combination of policies popular with young people (both economic and social), her defiance in the face of the mass murdering PRC’s meddling in Taiwan’s affairs, and incompetence by her opponents makes her the odds on favourite to be re-elected, with a constant 12-14 point lead in the polls since October. The three major parties all have candidates, but only the DPP and Kuomintang (KMT) are likely to win.  The New Power Party (NPP) has a significant presence in the LY, but their presidential candidate is an also-ran.

The KMT’s Kuo is called a “populist” but is more a puppet and clown. After riding a “Han wave” to the mayorship of Kaohsiung, he threw his hat in the ring for the presidential election less than a year into the job. A series of embarrassments has left Han floundering in the polls (failed party rallies, lack of national support, his own party turning against him, the recent mayoral recall to remove him, etc.). Foxconn CEO Terry Gou was the first KMT candidate but after corruption and his intent to “reunify” against the Taiwan public’s wishes, he fell out of favour.  (Note: Taiwan has a north-south ideological split.  Southerners lean toward reunification, northerners toward full independence.)

There’s more below the fold.

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The New Age: Linus Torvalds turns 50 today

Linus Torvalds turns 50 on Saturday, born December 28, 1969. As developer of the Linux kernel and the operating system, he has changed the entirety of home and business computing by giving users a choice. Despite accounting for only 2% of operating system in use, it is enough to keep Microsoft, Apple and Google from holding a triopoly and dictating the entirety of the market.  Myself, I use Linux for web browsing and Windows for productivity. Linux can be annoying at times (e.g. memory management), but it’s secure enough and has modern browsers to make it usable. Windows never has to go online, which means my computer is never hijacked or held hostage by “updates”, nor a security risk without those updates (which are never made available as downloads you can do on your own time…).

Linux’s open source nature has forced Microsoft to stop its “all proprietary” attitude and now allows its patents to be used for free.

Microsoft open-sources its patent portfolio

UPDATED: By joining the Open Invention Network, Microsoft is offering its entire patent portfolio to all of the open-source patent consortium’s members.

Several years ago, I said the one thing Microsoft has to do — to convince everyone in open source that it’s truly an open-source supporter — is stop using its patents against Android vendors. Now, it’s joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), an open-source patent consortium. Microsoft has essentially agreed to grant a royalty-free and unrestricted license to its entire patent portfolio to all other OIN members.

Before Microsoft joined, OIN had more than 2,650 community members and owns more than 1,300 global patents and applications. OIN is the largest patent non-aggression community in history and represents a core set of open-source intellectual-property values. Its members include Google, IBM, Red Hat, and SUSE. The OIN patent license and member cross-licenses are available royalty-free to anyone who joins the OIN community.

I’m not as confident about Linux’s future as is Torvalds, but attitudes can be changed.  IBM went over completely to Linux almost a decade ago.

Linus Torvalds isn’t worried about Microsoft taking over Linux

And you shouldn’t be either. Every company wants to rule Linux — none of them can or ever will.

Every time I write a story about Microsoft and Linux, I can guarantee I’ll be buried under such comments as “Microsoft is buying control of Linux!” or “Microsoft is just practicing it old embrace, extend, and extinguish tactics to destroy Linux” or “Microsoft is a wolf in sheep’s clothing — it will wreck Linux.”

Here’s the truth of the matter: Yes, Microsoft wants to profit from Linux. And, yes, Microsoft wants to extend and control Linux. Guess what? Everyone does, and none of them can.

At the 2019 Linux Plumbers Conference, I talked to Linus Torvalds and several other of the Linux kernel’s top programmers. They universally agreed Microsoft wants to control Linux, but they’re not worried about it. That’s because Linux, by its very nature and its GPL2 open-source licensing, can’t be controlled by any single third-party.

I just wish other excellent operating systems hadn’t fallen by the wayside (e.g. BeOS).  OpenVMS for x86 hardware is approaching initial release.  It was supposed to be finished in 2019, but better complete and late than unstable and insecure.  I’d pay for it.

99.99% Sucks: I hate xmas ‘music’

As it says in the title, 99.99% of “xmas music” is crap. If you disagree, find somebody else to argue with.

The worst music is always forced instead of organic (e.g. writing about a predetermined and specific topic, many movie title songs).  Xmas songs are worse than any other for being formulaic, sappy, overly commercial, and repetitive.  It’s the same songs covered again and again.  And that’s before we discuss the religious pandering involved.

Below is the list of the few “xmas songs” I can take. You’ll probably notice that all of them are originals, funny or orchestral works, no “traditional songs”.  There’s only one “hit”.

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Pointless Waste: Another reason guns suck

Johnny Ace was born John Marshall Alexander, on June 9, 1929.  He was in the US military and in the Korean war.  In 1951-52, he toured as a sideman for B.B. King, after which he went solo.  He opened for Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton and other acts. From 1952 to 1954, he had eight hit singles in a row.

Ace was known for drinking and for playing with guns. He had a .22 pistol that he took on tour and shot at road signs.  On December 25, 1954, sixty five years ago today, that combination killed him.  There are two accounts of his death by witnesses, either that he was playing Russian Roulette, or that he drunkenly pointed the gun at his head and said “it’s not loaded” before pulling the trigger. Either way, his life ended prematurely due to the combination of guns and alcohol.  Ace is considered to be Rock and Roll’s first tragedy.

After his death, his remaining unreleased songs continued to make the charts until 1956 when there were none left. You have to wonder how successful he could have been as a Rock and Roll musician had he lived.  His influence is as massive as Buddy Holly, namechecked and his songs covered by many – Johnny Otis, Johnny Copeland, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Lou Reed, Aaron Neville, Aretha Franklin, Curtis Mayfield, etc.  The list goes on and on.

On youtube there is a playlist: The “Memorial Album For Johnny Ace”, released in 1956, containing all his 21 songs.  It makes for wonderful listening.

Today, I Work: Real things to celebrate on December 25th

I am so glad I live in Taiwan. I will go to work on Wednesday and teach my students because Tomorrow’s Just Another Day. I will get New Year’s off, and that’s fine with me.

The two worst things I remember about December back in Canada were:

(a) The “participate or shut up” attitude. Saying that you “don’t celebrate xmas” does NOT “ruin other people’s fun” no matter how often they lie. Hearing the same lousy ‘songs’ for three weeks or more is not ‘fun’. Nobody owns December 25th.

(b) Being hostage or going stir crazy. EVERYTHING closes for eight to twelve days and there’s little or nothing to do. The only places open from the 20th to 24th were department stores, and from the 25th to 27th or 28th, only convenience stores and gas stations.  (Canada has boxing day, so everything’s closed on the 26th as well.)  It was bad in the 1990s, but at least there was the internet, and maybe computer games in the 1980s. Imagine how dull life in December was before then. TV was part of the misery.  There was no escape.  (And then add being trapped in a house with a crappy family….)

For those needing a boost, here’s a partial list of genuine historical events that happened on December 25th that are worth noting:

Birthdays:

  • 1642: Isaac Newton
  • 1652: Archibald Pitcairne, doctor, author, scholar
  • 1700: Leopold II, Prussian general
  • 1821: Clara Barton, founder of US Red Cross
  • 1876: Muhammad Ali Jinnah, founder of Pakistan
  • 1899: Humphrey Bogart
  • 1907: Cab Calloway
  • 1918: Anwar Sadat
  • 1924: Rod Serling
  • 1930: Emmanuel Agassi, Iranian boxer, father of Andre Agassi
  • 1949: Sissy Spacek
  • 1954: Annie Lennox
  • 1958: Rickey Henderson
  • 1972: Josh Freese, session drummer (Devo, NIN, etc.)

Events:

 

Art Attacks: Banksy does it again

Anonymous artist Banksy has created a nativitiy scene: The Scar Of Bethlehem.  Some might accuse him of copying some US churches and their nativity scenes, but I think he’s gone one better by including a wall, and by placing it in a Bethlehem hotel.

Talk about a poke in the eye, right where it belongs.

From the BBC:

Banksy ‘nativity scene’ appears in Bethlehem hotel

A manger scene by British artist Banksy has appeared at a hotel in Bethlehem in the West Bank.

Dubbed the “Scar of Bethlehem”, the work shows Jesus’s manger by Israel’s separation barrier, which appears to have been pierced by a blast, creating the shape of a star.

On Instagram, the artist said the work was a “modified Nativity”.

Israel says the barrier is needed to prevent terror attacks. Palestinians say it is a device to grab land.

The International Court of Justice has called it illegal.

Let’s Remember; Randy Suess, 1945-2019

Randy Suess was born January 27, 1945, and died December 10, 2019.  He’s the second computing legend we’ve lost in a week.

During the “great blizzard of ’78”, Suess and Ward Christiansen conceived of and designed the Computerized Bulletin Board System (CBBS) and modem dialing protocols. CBBS went online on February 16, 1978.

CBBS allowed users to dial in via computer modem, exchange messages, read news, share files, send email. It was the precursor to online news, blogging, social media, etc. We take these things for granted today and few BBSs are active anymore, but it didn’t exist before Suess and Christiansen.

Let’s Celebrate: Happy Rush Day, 21/12

Rush – Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, and Neil Peart – have always worn their freethought and agnosticism on their sleeve, never afraid of tackling and criticizing religion in their songs.

In celebration of Rush’s 1976 album “2112”, many fans call December 21st “Rush Day”: 21/12.  Below the fold is a(n incomplete) list of Rush songs about freethought, religion, science and skepticism.

I meant to do this yesterday, but other matters were more pressing.

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The Clock Must Have Stopped: A republican does something decent for once

Tennessee republican leader Jeffrey Faison is trying to have a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest removed from the state capitol. Forrest was a confederate general, kidnapper who used forced labour (“slave owner”), and early leader of the KKK.

It’s time to move the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust from Tennessee’s Capitol, GOP leader says

Two years ago, Rep. Jeremy Faison was like most of his Republican colleagues when it came to the question of what to do with the bust of a Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader on display in the Tennessee state Capitol.

He said the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, an addition installed at the Capitol in 1978, was part of history and should be left alone.

Then the Cocke County Republican — whose own distant grandfather Paul Faison was a Confederate colonel — began to grapple with hard facts.

[…]

“I fundamentally reject any notion by someone saying that moving him to the museum is trying to whitewash history,” Faison said, referencing comments made by numerous Tennessee Republicans, including Gov. Bill Lee at one point, amid an ongoing debate about whether the state should relocate the bust.

“If we want to preserve history, then let’s tell it the right way. Right now there are eight alcoves (in the Capitol). Seven are filled with white men.”

[…]

“How about getting a lady in there?” Faison asked. “My daughter is 16, and I would love for her to come into the Capitol and see a lady up there. What’s wrong with Anne Dallas Dudley getting in that alcove?” Faison added, referring to the 19th-century women’s suffrage activist from Nashville.

[…]

“What’s wrong with someone like Dolly Parton being put in that alcove?”

I’m not entirely trusting of his motives (i.e. he’s probably on the way out of politics), but this is far from the worst thing I’ve heard.

Sorry To Say: Chuck Peddle, 1937-2019

Chuck Peddle died on December 15, 2019. Few will have heard of him, but without him, the accessible and affordable computing you are using would not exist. It is arguable that Peddle is as important as anyone in starting the personal computer revolution.  (The image comes from the Team6502 website.)

Peddle worked for Motorola who were developing the 6800 chip (*) which Motorola wanted to sell for $300 each. Peddle argued that an affordable processor was needed, and when Motorola told him to drop it, he left.  (* Motorola’s 6800 was the predecessor of the 680×0 series which powered Macintosh and Amiga computers.)

Peddle and several other ex-Motorola employees joined MOS Technology in 1975 and led a design team that created the 6502 microprocessor.  The 6502 cost only $25 each, compared to Motorola’s exorbitant price. The low cost and powerful instruction set attracted Steve Wozniak and Jack Tramiel, both deciding to built their computers around it.  (Tramiel bought MOS in 1976.) 

The 6502 (and 65C02) was used to power many computers of the era.  This is an incomplete list:

  • Apple I, II, II+, IIe, IIc
  • Commodore PET, Vic20, 64, 16, Plus4, 128
  • Atari 400, 800
  • Laser 128 (Apple II+ clones)
  • Various UK computers – Acorn Atom, BBC Micro, Oric
  • Various European brands as well

Peddle also created the KIM-1 SBC (single-board computer), one of the first personal computers ever sold.

Visit 6502.org for information about the microprocessor.

Visual 6502 provides a simulation of the chip at work.

Monster 6502 is a replica of the 6502 chip using larger components.

 

Oh, How I Fondly Remember: The Castle of Caglistro

Forty years ago, on December 15, 1979 the film “The Castle Of Cagliostro” was released.  On its own, it is a masterpiece of comedy and adventure (IMDB), but is also a landmark film in Japanese cinema (Rotten Tomatoes), not just anime, and even influenced foreign countries and entertainment.  It remains one of my all-time favourite films.

Yes, this post is a love letter.  I proudly wear my heart on my sleeve.

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I Had To Fly: Don’t you hate when everything goes wrong?

I was on limited posting and commenting this past week due to a teeny tiny problem, like, say…my resident visa.  Miscommunication with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff (MOFA) meant my visa wasn’t renewed, only extended.  In October.  According to them I was now on an overstay. It had to be fixed, which required travelling abroad and reapplying from Manila.  Not fun.  And expensive, on top of losing wages from not working for three days.  Having lived here legally without issue for fourteen years probably played a role in getting it resolved.

All is well.  I’m legal, I’m back in Taipei, I have six boxes of Cinnabon and cans of Tim Horton’s coffee to share with friends.  Yee hah.