*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Monday 25 November 2013

Kindle Paperwhite - One Year

Yes I'd recommend it, but it's not a substitute for a library or books.  This was my take when I first bought it.
I stand by what I said then:
It's a bit of a quirky device...  As a book it works pretty well, though not as well for paging through of course, but much better for text by weight and volume.  If it cost much more I'd be annoyed at its limitations, but given that you can get some books free or near to it, and all other books at a fraction of their paper-price, it is a good deal as a portable bookshelf, or should I say, library...  Recommend it?  Do you read a lot of books?  Do you live outside an English speaking country?  Do you never plan to get used or library books anymore because of possible lice infestation?  Do you go on long trips and are tired of carrying several books at a time to ensure reading?  There you go.
I do miss print books, but having the device it's hard to pay double for print.  I find myself reading it much less than I did, but that's more having a second child, and a smartphone I use for reading news on the train, than  issues with the device.  Smartphone: there is no comparison.  The Paperwhite is a good book reader with a seemingly limitless battery, if you keep wifi off; the smartphone lets me do everything else, but only for about two hours.  When I travel I take an external battery, but have never had to use it on the Paperwhite.

The device also allows me to carry on it, at all times, a mountaineering and camping techniques book, a book on emergency expedition medicine, an exhaustive bicycle repair book, a complete Shakespeare, half a dozen issues of Granta...  Yes, I could put all of these on a smartphone or a tablet, and even use black screen with white print both to use less power and relieve my eyes, but I'd have to worry about the battery much more.  Besides, when on an Internet connected device, you're probably going to get distracted from your Dostoevsky.

A smartphone is now a given, so if you're going to buy another portable device you do: for a bigger screen, for a longer battery life, or for a keyboard.  If you need to type a lot you still want a laptop, but you might make do with a tablet and keyboard.  If you don't need to type a lot, but want a media device as much (or more) than a reader, you get a tablet.  The laptop, smartphone and tablet suck juice, so you stay close to civilization even with an external battery; you could go further afield with a solar charger, if you don't need a reliable power source, or mind the weight.  An eReader gives you a week of reading on one charge, and gets you off the Internet.

Monday 18 November 2013

Ride or Run? Thinking aloud.

I've wanted to achieve a marathon and some brevets in the past few years, and managed just a half-marathon and a few century rides.  Granted I have an infant and a toddler, a job and the like, but it is time to up my game.

There are a few things to lead me to riding over running:
- Riding in Japan is far safer than Canada, so I won’t do brevets in Canada because of it: do them in Japan or never.
- Riding to and from work several times a week I can avoid crowding in with the foetid excuse for manhood that is the salaryman.
- I can take a train or flight cheaply and easily to anywhere I want to ride in Japan.  In Canada that's twice the trouble and cost.  The scenery is a bore around Toronto: we barely have hills, so much as mountains; roads do not follow the best parts of our lakes, and are arrow-straight.
- I can’t meet the running miles for a marathon, the riding miles to train for brevets, the odd weekend hike and keep my marriage and children.
- Meeting running miles was a slog for the half-marathon, will be much worse for the full, and I can only achieve if I eschew the rides and the hikes.
- I've spent far more on riding than on running kit, as one does, but I can still fit in two runs in the week, and maybe even another half-marathon.
- I hated hustling to the gym before work to get a shower after riding in so much I gave up the rides, and I miss them.  I can do the ‘bird bath’ again if I must: the trick being to have trimmed most body hair, as if you wanted to know.

I should join Audax Japan Chiba, and AudaxJapan itself, but I can still do the rides without joining.  It’s an annoying Japan thing that you have to decide to join any clubs or rides a half year ahead, heaven forbid you do anything spontaneous in this country.  Why Chiba?  Besides the Boso Hanto being great cycling territory, I can actually get to the starting points, at the starting times, by public transit from my NE corner of Tokyo 23-ku; whereas those which start on the other side of the city I cannot.  Paying for a hotel is not worth it.  It’s just unfortunate that I won’t be able to do the Hokkaido 1200 this year: they require a 600 in the year previous.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Buy new or repair old: Blundstone boots?

Don't buy them anymore.

There's no reason for soles to split and crumble, except it's an inevitable part of sending your manufacturing offshore.  By all reports, now Doc's also blow entirely, for the same reason.*  China is the only place I have seen workers hammer in screws.  Company PR both during and after laying off people making a living wage in the brand's country of origin will deny abandoning their workers to poverty, and eschewing quality, but the facts stand.  The only encouraging point is that we left-wingers no longer need to make humane arguments to people who don't care, instead: offshore products suck.

Blundstone's PR is to blather their soles can suffer from 'hydrolysis' if left unworn too long (summer), or in a place too hot; however, I have had plenty of other boots survive a Japanese summer.  A shoe shouldn't degrade from storage in a dry place.  Heat?  Fucking boots were supposed to be for Aussie stockmen.

I've had both black 'chisel-toe' #63 for five years and original brown #500 four.  I take very good care of my leather: boots and bikes saddles.  The soles of the 63's are dead; however, the narrower fit fits my foot far better than the 500's, or the 558's I'd considered replacing them with, so I looked into resoling them.  A resole is quite expensive: about 9500Y, $100CAD, or just as much if I mailed them back and forth to a US cobbler to fix them: half the price of new, full price, but a lot more if compared to getting them on sale.
I'm getting the 63s resoled.  I did look into buying soles and doing the work myself.  It's a surprise how much of your own handiwork you can do, if you don't require perfection the first try.  The Internet makes it easier than ever to erode the wall of mystery surrounding technique.  The reality was that it would cost me half the going rate to do it on my own, and the results would be disappointing.  I'm getting the 63s resoled at a shop for these reasons:
- they fit better than the 558s will (pattern of my 500s)
- resole is still cheaper than new
- throwing out good uppers is a crime
- the new soles will be better than shit Blundstones are now shod with

Good footwear, well cared for, ought to last nigh to indefinitely, apart from worn soles which must be repairable.  I'm going to start paying real money for footwear made nowhere in mainland Asia.  I expect it will last long enough to be better value.

*Solovair are still made in the UK, on the same lines as the old Doc's, by the same manufacturer.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

(Just for Will) Rob Ford.

The picture is a spoof of 'Canadian Heritage Minutes', of which my favourite is this I find unintentionally funny: "boat fare for the wife".

This story tells itself, so if you have not heard of Toronto's alcohol abusing, DUI driving, pot possession charged*, crack smoking, domestic and public disturbance, obese ignorant right-wing and lying mayor, let's note the entirety of that description is a matter of public record; his wife-beating and sexual assault, and drug dealing in the Conservative Party of Canada protected** family remain allegations, though well supported by such things as the poor saga of his sister's life, and who the brothers Ford consort with.  And he played high school football.

I'll just add a few thoughts I have shared with friends in the past week:
"[The admission of cocaine use is] damage control, because the video's going to go public. Nothing to see here. Ford brothers are still incapable of anything like remorse, responsibility or competence (apart from Doug's 'entrepreneurship' in HS)."
"It will kill him. Let's just hope he's not in a car to kill anyone else. I wouldn't wish the addiction on him, or the death; however, I won't pretend he has my sympathy: he's said too many hateful things he would have said as a teetotaller."
"Rob is my age. He'll be dead of his addictions by fifty. As for right now, Doug should have remembered, 'First thing, don't taunt the cops."
"If [the pigs] had evidence to charge him for DUI, let it go for something bigger, and he harms someone, heads must roll."
"A miracle he hasn't killed yet, but I wouldn't put a hit and run past him..."
"Classic: Rob gets his chief of staff to use Rob's access to search for the registration of the (undercover police) vehicle following him, but is so stunned he'd copied down the plate wrong."
"Toronto is an American city, with fewer guns. English Canada isn't so special anymore. The Conservatives made sure of it."

VICE just put up some more crazy, but they haven't been wrong yet on the Fords.  This is not funny anymore, if it ever was.
"Detectives watched a house at 51 Benway Dr. in north Etobicoke this summer. That turns out to be where a red Ford Mustang used by Lisi was parked... 51 Benway was named in a February police news release related to a missing woman, Jaclyn Dawe, 35, who was last seen there on Feb. 9, 2013."
This is why parents should have no voice in education: either they are on board anyway, or they have an excuse for all of their children whose criminality they've enabled.

*I have no quarrel with this.
**Daddy was a multi-millionaire and federal Conservative 'back bencher'.  The best the brothers Ford could do born on third base is right-wing populism in Toronto municipal politics.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Paywall: might have worked in 1985.

It did work before the Internet, because there was no Internet.
More proof sometimes a thing deserves to fail: like Blackberry.  Rooting for stupid leaves you with stupid, whatever its outcome.

All of Canada's larger papers have gone behind paywalls.  Japan Times too, but no loss there.  The Star and the Globe used to be decent papers decades back, yet before the quality of each went into tailspin from financial cuts, the Globe had turned into Conservative Party press releases, and The Star's criminally pimped our housing bubble as much as any other organization.  To think I'd considered a journalism degree, whatever the hell the content of said is.  Bullet well dodged considering boomer journalists have kept their jobs, secured a few for their kids, but journalism graduates have worse chances than teaching graduates now have, for a job without benefits, security or more status than whoring for heroin.

As private companies, albeit shilling public information, they have 'the right' to run their business into the ground: none of these papers will exist in any form in five years.  Other than spite, I don't see what a paywall achieves for a paper?  You piss me off with your pop-up, so you think I'm going to pay?  Well, I can get international news from anywhere, and Canadian news from somewhere not controlled by Canadian business interests, or muzzled by its Neo-Con owners.  Sure, wrinklies like my mother might pay, but she's dead in fifteen years, losing her eyesight and attention span already, and 'on a fixed income'.  Good luck with that demographic.

Besides, once I tell my mother to hit the stop button as The Star article loads, before the pop-up, she's golden.  (Japan Times: use another browser.  Etc.).  Fucking idiots.  Paid viewing is over; getting eyeballs for advertisers is not.  You think I'd heard of the Guardian before I'd gone online?  You think millions more had before the Snowden scoop?  Yeah, journalism brings them three million hits a day.