Posted: 23rd July 2017 by Cheap in Cuisine, Fiction, Firearms, Fitness, Philosophy
  • The Arnold City Library has removed all of their signs prohibiting firearms.  The signs in the parking lot, which had no legal standing, have been replaced with visually similar signs declaring it a tobacco and smoke free campus (after all, there must be signs prohibiting something).  Given the conservative, gun-friendly electorate of the city, it is not surprising to see this change, and in fact it was unexpected to see the signs in the first place.  I will have to look for a similar change the next time I go to the headquarter branch elsewhere in the county.
  • I had decided some time ago that I was going to avoid reading anything except pulp for the foreseeable future.  I wanted to read only things that would grab me and hold my attention, and which I would naturally get through in just a few days.  Mainly, this meant sticking to known authors in series I have already started.  Unfortunately, I’ve been doing a bad job of that.  Things on my reading list intrigue me, and then I start reading and they don’t engage me.  So, I have reworked my reading list, to contain only things I’m fairly certain I’ll be able to get through quickly.  It basically means I will be alternating between hard-boiled detective fiction and science-fiction or fantasy.
  • I finally had an opportunity to use the rotary hammer I bought months ago.  It was amazing.  Drilling half-inch holes in concrete was trivial.  It was like drilling holes in hard wood with a dull bit.  I spent more time running the extension cord.
  • I now own a bathroom scale.  I weigh a little more than I thought I did, but I should have known.  I’m at the high end of the “normal” body mass range for my height.  My exercise could of course be better, but really it’s my diet that needs to be reined in.  I’m eating too many carbs, and too often.  I really need to think about high-protein snacks.
  • I am starting to read Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman, M.D.  I picked it up as research for a creative writing project, but I can tell already that it is going to have a profound effect on my world view.  So far, it hasn’t told me much that I didn’t already know, but I am astonished by the relationships between things I didn’t previously think of as related.
  • I’ve finished watching through season four of Elementary, which is all that’s available through Netflix.  I’ve really been enjoying it.  This means the only television I’m watching is ST:TOS, of which I have only fifteen episodes remaining, and the new Twin Peaks, which trickles out an average of an episode a week.  It seems like I should be looking for other things to watch, yet at the same time I’m highly skeptical of television.  I actually tried watching Supergirl; hot character, awful writing and low production value.  Before that, I tried watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which turned out to be a musical.  Maybe I’ll give Longmire a try, and of course ST:DIS is coming in a couple of months.  Maybe I should blitz through the movies on my queue for a while.
  • Speaking of television, I finally made the effort to cancel the television and telephone service from my cable company, keeping only the internet access.  I should have done this a long time ago, because Charter/Spectrum has had the gall to charge me more than $150/mo for the most basic of these services.
  • Our heat wave culminated in 105° temperatures yesterday.  The air conditioner in the house couldn’t keep up, and it reached 79° indoors.  The air conditioner in my truck cut out worse than ever, and I finally took a look at it and concluded it was overcharged.  The japanese maple is looking decidedly scorched, and so are my “tropical” rio dipladenias.  Both will receive some remedial watering today, though in fact I’ve been watering my lawn a fair amount the past few weeks.  I’m looking forward to a high of only 97° today.
  • I made the effort to learn how to properly make ribs on my grill.  I don’t know why I hadn’t learned about indirect-grilling before.  It will open many new possibilities for using my grill.  I also bought and used a smoker box, and it was pretty amazing.  My brother has stated the desire to eat more turkey, and I’m thinking about roasting/smoking a small turkey, or perhaps a large boneless turkey breast.

Don’t Let the Bastards Grind You Down

Posted: 3rd July 2017 by Cheap in Cuisine, Fiction, Hiking
  • I briefly thought that hiking or biking every day to train for the hikes I’ll be making in August would be a good idea.  And it is.  However, my next hike was five days later.  Nevertheless, I have been hiking more than I usually do, and already I can tell it’s making a difference.  I hiked a difficult, rugged trail, and my legs were barely fazed.  It was actually a good trail to train on, because it included 1440 feet of elevation gain.  Unfortunately, my respiratory capacity is my limiting factor, and it will only be worse at altitude.  At my age, my Maximum Heart Rate should be 174 bpm, but at one point I measured it at 184.  Perhaps I should do a little research about how to improve my respiratory capacity, but I’m sure it is going to involve more aerobic exercise.
  • Yelp’s page, “The Best 10 Hiking in Jefferson County, MO” contains ten hiking destinations, none of which are in Jefferson County.
  • I’m about halfway through ST:TOS, and I am able to have an informed opinion about it.  I don’t care for it as well as I did the others, mostly because I don’t care the characters.  Spock, sure, but he is too inconsistently Vulcan.  I can also see how TOS, and ultimately all of the Star Trek television franchise, owes its format to The Twilight Zone.  Most episodes are some clever, brain-teasing situation.  So far, there has been no character development in any modern sense, nor any kind of story arc.  There have been several variety acting episodes (which I despise), just as in the other series.  Earlier this year, it was thought that Star Trek: Discovery would launch this year in May, but it hasn’t.  IMDb has information about a pilot.  CBS has a trailer up, which says the series is coming this fall, and I’ve just read that they plan to begin airing September 24.  Maybe I’ll be finished watching TOS by then, but it hasn’t inspired me to binge watch.  I think a Star Trek series that was more character-based and clearly followed a story arc would be much more desirable than usual format, but I doubt anyone else sees it that way.
  • Things are going well with my new job.  I am beginning to feel more confident in my abilities as a leader.  It’s nice when my boss or the other people above me recognize and tell me that I’m doing a good job.  However, it’s even nicer when workers thank me for taking charge of their situations and organizing their projects.  I didn’t really appreciate how valuable a skill that is until I came to this part of the organization which has such an obvious need for it.  The one drawback is that I’m putting in a lot of hours, 65 or 70 hours per week.  I am determined not to let that be a permanent thing, and after the migration projects, I’ll need to assert a more normal limit on my hours.
  • A couple weeks ago, I picked up Better Homes and Gardens’ The Ultimate Cookie Book, and yesterday I attempted the first recipe: Honey Coins (pg. 97).  They were very good.  They didn’t taste particularly like honey, but they had a very fine and delicate texture, which made them very addictive.  The powdered sugar coating didn’t hurt either.  Not a particularly difficult recipe, and the dough can be prepared in advance and frozen for up to two months.  This is probably going to be one of my favorites.
  • I have many friends who live in the City of St. Louis (within the actual city limits).  Consequently, I frequently hear about my friends being robbed.  One has been robbed for a third time since moving to her present location a few months ago.  All of them live in the south part of the city, which is supposed to be the nice part; the safe part.  None of them want to hear from those of us living in the surrounding county, where crime rates are completely different.  St. Louis has among the highest crime rates in the nation, despite also having among the highest police per capita rates.  The main reason I don’t live in the City is the crime, and I’m very tempted to say I told you so.  Whether they realize it or not, those friends of mine have knowingly chosen to set themselves in the path of crime, and it seems delusional for them to complain about it.
  • Another thing I don’t have to deal with because I don’t live in the City is jury duty.  I have never, in my lifetime, been called for jury duty.  My friends in St. Louis get called on average about once a year.
  • I finished reading The Handmaid’s Tale.  It was very well written in the sense that the author skillfully captured and portrayed the emotions of someone in that situation.  It frequently amazed me that it even occurred to the author to think of those things.  However, now that I’ve finished it, I am left wondering what the point of the novel was.  Was it simply to demonstrate what right-wing extremists’ sexism would be like if taken to the extreme?  Did there really seem to be, during the 80s, some risk that such ideological thinking could take control of the country?  It did not really seem to be an effective indictment of men or the forces that resist feminism.  I’m disappointed now that I didn’t finish in time to discuss it with the book club.

May Updates

Posted: 5th June 2017 by Cheap in Fitness, Hiking, Technology, Travel
Tags: , , ,
  • I succumbed to temptation and bought a smart watch.  It is the Samsung Gear S3 frontier, which is really the first one that caught my eye.  It’s gorgeous, full-featured, has good battery life, and integrates well with my phone.  After discovering it, I researched many others, but ultimately I came back to this one.  I avoided this watch at first because it is based on the Tizen OS, rather than Android.  A couple of the apps I’ve wanted to develop for the Android would actually be better suited to a watch, but with Tizen that would mean I would have to learn development for yet another platform.  However, now that I’m getting into it, I’m finding the learning curve is quite easy, and I’m already up and running with my first app (a watch face).  When I first looked into Tizen, I found that app development is generally in HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.  I thought that sounded kind of kludgy, but now that I’ve gotten into it I can see that it’s actually quite sensible and even almost elegant.  I’m definitely looking forward to more development.
  • I have a new camera day-pack, which I plan to use primarily at Glacier National Park this summer, and I’ve been planning what I can fit into it.  On my list of things I’d like to pack are binoculars.  I’ve been hiking with binoculars in day-packs for a while, but because half the space of this pack is taken up by camera gear, there is less space available.  My binoculars are full-size 10x42mm binoculars that I use for hunting.  The large objective is useful for low light conditions, which are common when hunting, but I don’t need such massive optics if I’m only using them in daylight.  Compact binoculars are common, and I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me until now to get some for backpacking.  I went to Cabela’s and tried out a few pairs, and I settled on a pair by Nikon, their Trailblazer 10×25.  They are much smaller, 40% of the weight about about that much smaller dimensionally.  They aren’t as bright as my larger binoculars, but in normal light they are plenty bright enough, and the clarity is excellent.
  • I checked out Don Robinson State Park and hiked the longer of the two trails.  It is a new state park, having opened sometime this year.  There’s an old cabin, which looks like it might have been turned into a museum, and a big patio with a scenic view.  However, the hiking trails are the main attraction.  Several little streams that join together to form a deep canyon in the sandstone, and it is both interesting and beautiful.  I went on a wet day, having had storms the previous day and night, and apart from mud on the trail, it was a really gorgeous experience because the streams and waterfalls were fully active.  The longer Sandstone Canyon Trail is a moderate 4-mile loop.  I will have to return sometime to check out the shorter 2.4-mile LaBarque Hills Trail (also moderate).
  • My new favorite grilling food this summer may be meat on a stick.  It appears that my local grocery store has replaced the in-house butcher with some meat packaging company in Canada.  The packaging is rather robust, and I don’t like that it feels that much more industrialized.  However, there are some interesting products, and several of them are meat kabobs: chunks of meat on skewers marinated in various flavors.  However, the interesting thing is that they are individually packaged.  They come in four-packs, but they are packaged in such a way as to seal each kabob individually.  Using scissors, I can cut out just one, peel it open, and place it on grill.  And the purpose of the industrial-strength packaging is to preserve it for a long time, which means I have a couple of weeks to eat them all.
  • Some time ago, I bought Payback on Blu-ray as an upgrade from the DVD.  I either didn’t notice or didn’t think much about the fact that this was a director’s cut.  Recently, I brought it over to a friend’s house to watch, and … ugh.  I’ve never seen a more badly butchered edit of a good film.  The theatrical release includes a really tight montage during the opening credits that is an impressive example of characterization.  Gone in the director’s cut.  The start of the film was all turned around, apparently to avoid the flashback later, and it lost a lot of coherence.  Kris Kristofferson’s character is cut out completely, along with the torture scene and the nice, tidy wrapping up of the conflict.  He is replaced by some woman who we never actually see.  The “fat boy” scene is gone.  The last quarter of the film is a purposeless foot chase where Mel Gibson shoots a couple dozen anonymous bad guys, all footage that never made it to the theatrical release.  The climax is evidently that he ran out of anonymous bad guys to shoot, and he’s not completely dead.
  • If I’m going to Glacier National Park, it seems reasonable that one of my goals should be to see and stand on a glacier.  However, I am beginning to question whether it is even a possibility.  The easiest glacier to reach from a road appears to be Sperry Glacier.  However, it is evidently a 10.7 mile hike (each way), climbing 4800 vertical feet, at altitude.  As a day hike, that would be impossible for me.  To do it practically, I would have to plan to stay at Sperry Chalet and make three days of it.  However, I have only allocated two full days at the park.  I’ll want to see other things than just one valley.  I think I need to go back to the drawing board.  In any case, I need to train harder.  I should start doing some sort of hiking or bicycling every day between now and August.

Like Shooting Hammers at a Bear

Posted: 5th May 2017 by Cheap in Cuisine, Fiction, Firearms
  • There is evidently a release date (November 14) for Oathbringer, the third installment of Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive.  The first two were excellent, even if the world is a remarkably weird one, and I am a little sad that I have to wait a couple years between each book.  It’s still seven months away, but it’s nice to have an actual date now.
  • When I was in Denver for a week, I actually suffered Man Men withdrawal.  So now that I have finished watching the series, I am probably going to experience the same thing.  I am still somewhat at a loss to explain why it connected with me so well.  Though I didn’t actually live like that, perhaps I identified with all the cheating because I did think like that.  They started jumping the shark in the last several episodes, so it’s not surprising that the series ended when it did.
  • I finished Hyperion, and I can’t decide how I feel about it.  It’s not very good as a stand-alone novel.  In it, six characters tell their bizarre stories of how they came to this pilgrimage.  All of them are fascinating and inventive, and they all served to increase the mystery and suspense about the overall story goal (one or two were perhaps a little long-winded with unnecessary monologue).  However, having successfully raised the reader’s interest, nothing was done with it.  The story ended at a convenient stopping point, and we’re expected to read the next installment.
  • Primarily in an effort to cut down on my soda intake, I have made a conscious decision to develop a taste for tea.  To that end, I have spent a bit of money at a local Teavana store, buying a few varieties of tea and tea paraphernalia, and picking up a little free advice.  I figure I’m more likely to grow to like tea if I start with a high quality product.  I find it easier to tolerate hot tea than iced tea, so I’ll start there, but ultimately I will want to drink iced tea more often than soda.
  • I read Convergence, C. J. Cherryh’s eighteenth volume in her Foreigner series.  It was really disappointing.  It’s right to say that there are two protagonists in the later books, and this is the first one in which Bren and Cajieri have completely separate stories.  However, Bren’s story was completely uninteresting, because there was never any conflict introduced.  At one point I reflected that I was just reading a depiction of any manager’s routine work.  Cajieri’s story introduced a conflict, but it was missing the pressing danger and urgency I’m accustomed to reading in works by Cherryh and especially in the Foreigner series.  Furthermore, that conflict was not resolved by the end of the book.  The book just ended.  The author has frequently left unresolved problems for later novels, but prior to this there has always been some kind of satisfying resolution at the end of each book.  Not so this time.  It was clear that Cherryh was signalling the end of the series with the fifteenth book, Peacemaker.  Yet more books continued to be published, and I thought maybe the publisher was hoping to exploit a cash cow for as long as they could.  The previous two books were about the kyo, which was a legitimate loose end, but now I’m thinking we should have listened to the author when she was trying to tell us it’s time to stop.
  • I found a .44 Magnum load I’m happy with for brown bear defense.  It is a 320 grain hardcast  WLNGC bullet from Grizzly Cartridge Company.  I bought three boxes and tested with one box at the range.  The accuracy is good, with low muzzle flash.  The bullets have an extremely wide meplat, and if I have to use them, they will be like shooting hammers at a bear.
  • I’m fitting well into my new role at work.  The migration project is making good progress.  I am keeping my head above water, and the team is getting its arms around management of everything.  I haven’t failed at anything serious yet.
  • Flooding again.  The situation is very similar to the flooding 16 months ago.  Water close to the property line.  All the bridges were closed for a couple of days and I was cut off.  My UPS deliveries are delayed.  It doesn’t seem like it took that much rain to make this happen.  I suppose this means the city park will be closed all summer for sterilization.

I had a brilliant idea in the shower this morning. A couple of them, actually. I was thinking about my idea for a robot lawn mower. Think Roomba for your lawn. I was thinking about how there are several components needed, requiring innovation from several areas of expertise: mechanical, motors, energy storage, computing, sensing, etc. The first brilliant idea I had was to enlist the open source community, divide the challenge into separate design tasks and let people volunteer according to their expertise. The reward is obvious: they would contribute a piece of technology and get a full-functional whole for their efforts.

However, as I was thinking about this, about how it would work, and about the impact on society if it were successful, it reminded me of my previous thoughts about the Automated Economy (which I should write about).  In short, an automated economy is one where labor is largely replaced by automation.  Robots, if you will.  People don’t have to earn a living because their needs are provided by the automation.  Instead, people can focus their attention on organization, scientific advancement, academic study, art, or simply leisure.  The problem with the Automated Economy is how to get there from capitalism.  In a capitalist economy, the innovation required to develop automation is regarded as intellectual property.  The innovations are not shared, they are sold.  The economic benefit of automation’s output is channeled back to the owners and creators of the automated systems.  It does not benefit the economy as a whole, except in the sense of contributing to economic production.

Worse, automation replaces jobs.  As automation increases, more people lose jobs, and the people who lose their jobs receive none of the benefit from the automation.  If automation continued unchecked, eventually everyone’s job would be replaced, and the benefit of automation would controlled by a handful of owners.  This is bad for capitalism, because capitalism needs workers to also be consumers (who can pay for what they consume).  We have survived so far because progress toward automation has been very slow, and because the operation of automated systems has created some new jobs.  Finland has begun to experiment with the idea of a basic universal income to offset these job losses.  It remains to be seen whether this will catch on.

Open Source is different from Intellectual Property.  Open Source creates and innovates without expectation of direct compensation.  The reward is the creation itself, and the benefit that the creation provides.  Open source developers derive satisfaction from contributing value to the whole world.  What if open source developers contributed their efforts toward automation?  Automation of the most important necessities, such as food production?  What if, rather than demanding and hording the lion’s share of the reward for their innovation, the automation was free for anyone to adopt and utilize?

Montana, I am told, is a place with bears.  Brown bears.  The big, aggressive kind of bears.  Probably not all of Montana, but certainly the national forests and parks in northwestern Montana.  There are black bears also, but brown bears are literally a whole other animal: bigger, bolder, less likely to back down, and less deterred by injury.  If you’re going to carry a gun for protection from brown bears, it needs to be more than a pea shooter.

That’s why I bought a Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum (Model KRH-444, with the 4.2″ barrel).

I had a bullet in mind to use for this purpose, but it didn’t work out.  The Sierra 300 grain JSP is designed “specifically for large bears,” but I didn’t get good accuracy when I tried it.  Perhaps I could if I experimented more.  However, my trip to Montana is getting close, and after my success with factory ammunition for my SP101, I decided to look at factory ammunition in .44 Magnum.

After looking at several options, my first choice was the Grizzly 320 grain WLNGC hardcast.  This brand used to be sold at Cabela’s, but it appears they dropped them.  I ordered three boxes from MidwayUSA.

Grizzly .44 Magnum 320gr WLNGC Hardcast

On paper, it was just what I was looking for.  A heavier bullet: 320 grains is even better than 300.  Hardcast for minimal expansion.  A wide meplat: 0.355″ is wider than any other I’ve seen.  A longer bullet (from nose to cannelure) that takes advantage of the extra length of the Ruger’s cylinder.  Buffalo Bore and HSM both had reasonable options, but they were only 305 grains and had a much smaller meplat.  The offering by Grizzly seemed ideal.

Looking at them, they are far from aerodynamic.  However, I didn’t select them for their ability to travel easily through air.  I selected them for their ability to travel easily through bear.  Bearodynamic.  The minimal expansion will ensure deep penetration, yet the wide meplat is believed to create a large wound channel.  They should pound through bone like a hammer.

I tested a box at the range.  They seem like they could be quite accurate, but it’s difficult for me to know, because I have such a bad flinch.  It seems like, when I didn’t flinch, they left nice crisp holes on my 1″ sticker (at seven yards).  A better handgun shooter than I would have to judge the accuracy.  In any case, they are accurate enough to hit a bear at the distance I would be shooting at one.  They had low muzzle flash and a stiff recoil.

All in all, I am very happy with this load, and I will carry it confidently later this summer when I am camping in Montana.


North Korea and Our Crazy President

Posted: 15th April 2017 by Cheap in Politics

I hate to say it, but perhaps having a rash, unpredictable President is just what the United States needs once in a while — at least where it concerns unshakable foreign policy problems.

North Korea and their nuclear aspirations are one such problem.  The actors have settled into comfortable complacency.  Right now, however, the status quo is in danger.  China is expressing concern, and rightly so.  The fears are instability at their border and the potential for a refugee crisis.  It can be assumed that China is so concerned that they are reconsidering the specifics of their relation with North Korea.  And that’s a good thing, because China is North Korea’s last major ally and trading partner, which means China is the one player with real diplomatic influence with North Korea.  Up to now, China has limited the pressure they have applied, but if they see it is in their own best interest to step up their engagement, the result could be some real change.

And love him or hate him, this change in affairs was caused by nothing more than the loose cannon we elected.

  • I have finally found a good lighting solution for my sound stage.  Lithonia Lighting is now selling linkable LED strips.  The 4-foot ones are 3200 lumens.  You buy a power cord for one and linking cords for the rest, and you only need one outlet.  They are silent, compact, and easily mountable.  They have a color temperature of 4100K.  I’m not sure how many I will end up using, but I will definitely want more than one.  I guess I need to finish the sound stage and start using it.
  • I basically have a new job with my employer.  As expected, I have been assigned full-time to the product group for which I received an emergency knowledge transfer.  Less expected, I have been given the responsibility of leading the other two guys on the team.  This is a good opportunity for me, and I plan to make the best of it.
  • I bought a truck.  It is a 2008 Ford Ranger FX4, a seven year newer version of the Ranger I had before.  Everything works, and it runs significantly better than my last truck.  I can do truck stuff again, and it’s amazing to me how many things I had mentally put on hold for lack of a truck.  Camping, hunting, vacation, cycling, filmmaking, woodworking, and lawn care were all impacted by it.  I look forward to becoming acquainted with the new truck.  I sold the Corolla a couple days later.  That whole episode is now behind me.
  • The electronics work I’m doing has made me realize I’m using the same cheap Radio Shack soldering iron I’ve had since my teens.  It works, but I can afford something better now.  So, I’ve splurged, and I’ve acquired a real soldering iron, a Weller WESD51 digital soldering station.  I can’t wait to use it.
  • I’ve also acquired my first wireless lavalier microphone system, a Sennheiser EW 100 G3 system.  I am really quite happy and impressed with it, and when they say broadcast quality, they seem to mean it.  It came with an ME 2 microphone, which is not very great.  However, when I attach a good dynamic mic to the plug-on transmitter, I can really appreciate the quality of the wireless transmission.  My next purchase will be a Sanken COS-11D lavalier microphone.  Then I’ll want to expand the system to handle two actors.
  • My new role at work is going to expose me to some technologies that are new to me, including Citrix Xen, VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, and Nagios.  Oh, and Globalscape EFT.  There are other technologies I hope I never have to deal with, including Delphi and Modula-2.  I took my first dive into Nagios last weekend, and this weekend I hope to dig into Citrix XenDesktop.  I really should build a crash system at home that I can use to play with different operating systems.

Are Immigration Controls Working?

Posted: 29th March 2017 by Cheap in Politics

Two articles posted by NPR twelves hours apart made me think the same thing: Yes, that was the intent.

NPR: With Fewer Available H-2B Visas, Employers Struggle to Find Seasonal Workers

NPR: Deportation Fears Prompt Immigrants To Cancel Food Stamps

Both of these articles were written from a negative point a view, describing harmful consequences of the Trump administration’s push against immigration, legal and illegal alike.  The authors seem to miss the point that these outcomes were exactly the intent and that Trump voters will see this as vindication of these policies.

What’s truly astonishing is that the populist goals on the left and the populist goals on the right are two sides of the same coin, and neither side seems to notice.

Let’s start with the first one.  The allocation of fewer H-2B visas means that employers will have fewer low-wage workers from which to hire.  Yes, that must be disappointing to the employers, because now they will have to raise their wages to attract workers who already live in the US.  The populists on the left want higher wages, which is why they keep pushing to raise the minimum wage.  The populists on the right want higher wages, which is why they keep pushing to limit foreign competition for US jobs.  However, the populists on the right say they don’t want to raise the minimum wage because it will hurt small businesses, and the populists on the left say they don’t want to curb immigration because they empathize with the people driving wages down.  Neither side can see the irony.

The second article is so obvious, it’s almost ridiculous.  Immigrants, especially illegal immigrants, using food stamps is exactly the sort of problem that the conservatives are up in arms about.  From their perspective, cutting the use of food stamps for any reason is a positive, but especially among immigrants.  If anything, conservatives will be surprised and delighted that these effects have begun so quickly and easily, with merely the looming threat of enforcement yielding results already.

I have to say, I have mixed feeling about illegal immigration, and about immigration controls in general.  On the one hand, immigration controls are a rational form of protectionism to maintain equitable standards of living for the working and middle classes.  Illegal immigration undermines that, and it is a significant factor contributing to the low wages and underemployment we face today.  People who enter this country illegally are knowingly taking a risk, and the fact that enforcement has been intentionally lax means the risk has been low, and that has simply encouraged more of the same.  On the other hand, the standard of living for those living outside of the US is also important, and classifying people as foreigners is just a convenient excuse to disregard their needs and their poverty.

Should we solve the world’s problems by letting them all move here?  Our economy can’t handle it, even if we had room for everyone.  And the argument is not trivial that the world will bring its problems here.

iTunes .m4a and Kenwood

Posted: 25th March 2017 by Cheap in Music, Technology
Tags: ,

Oh, this is frustrating.

I buy my music from iTunes.  This started when I had an iPhone, and even though I no longer have an iPhone, I find iTunes to be the easiest way to find new music and buy it.  Consequently, most of my music is stored in .m4a files, which is an MPEG-4 container with AAC encoded audio.

So when I purchased a new Kenwood system for my truck, I was careful to choose a model that supports AAC files.

It turns out, that is not enough.

The Kenwood DPX502BT that I bought only supports AAC in .aac files.  A file with a .aac extension evidently has no container.  It is just the AAC-encoded audio.  I found an online converter to convert a .m4a file to a .aac file, and the DPX502BT played it.  However, it was missing the metadata (the title and artist).  Why?  Because that was stored in the MPEG-4 container.

I haven’t figured out what to do.

Convert all my iTunes library to MP3?  It may come to that.  Apple has instructions.  Ugh.  It creates a second item in my library for the converted file.  That’s going to be a mess.