Wednesday, September 28, 2022

War... what is it good for? Well... actually... NOT nothing...

 Recently, we dropped our internet service through Cox, and switched to "Quantum" fiber to the home, from century link... and we absolutely love it. It's been infinitely more reliable, and MUCH faster, with much lower latency and jitter, than the service we were receiving from Cox.

There's a number of reasons for that of course... But there's one MAJOR factor, that anyone without either a defense communications background; network engineering or other telecom, or IT; or maybe another heavily data networking dependent business (or government/defense organization); may not be aware of, or understand.

... WAR ... 

Or rather the side impacts of it anyway.

This gets a little complicated... but I personally find it fascinating, and I'm guessing a lot of my friends and readers will at least find it interesting.

In addition to having a MUCH better managed network (still pretty badly managed, but much better than Cox, which is worse than anyone other than Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T), CenturyLink has a major regional peering point (with tier 1 backbone provider Level 3, who have been their majority owner since 2017), with a corresponding major colocated service footprint, about 30 miles away from us, in southeast Phoenix/north Tempe (around McDowell and 52nd street).

The biggest reason that Level 3 ...and many others... have big regional footprints in PHX, is that there is a major interstate fiber backbone hub, with multiple tier 1 peers, physically located immediately adjacent to the Papago Park Military Reservation (also located at McDowell and 52nd street). 

That location, is not a coincidence...

PPMR is about 500 acres (adjacent to the absolutely lovely 1500ish acre Papago Park... thus the name... Which was originally a federal reservation, but was officially sold to the city of Phoenix to be a municipal park, in 1959) smack dab in the middle of the crossroads of the major southwestern transportation and logistics routes... highways and rail lines... crossing east to west, and north to south 

PPMR is less than 5 miles from I-10 and 7 miles from the intersection of I-10 and I-17 (all good 4-8 lane wide routes that can take heavy trucks and armor), which connect relatively nearby to I-8 and I-40, and from there to I-5 and I-15 to the west/north, and I-25 to the east... Thus connecting directly to San Diego, Los Angeles and all of central, coastal, and northern California; Las Vegas and Salt Lake City; Albuquerque, Colorado Springs and Denver, all of Texas etc... etc... 

PPMR is also less than a mile from Union Pacifics Phoenix spur line connection to the UP east-west main line across the southern US (about 30 miles south), and less than five miles from the terminus of BNSFs mainly north-south spur line through central arizona, connecting to the BNSF east-west main line, roughly paralleling I-40 (about 120 miles north).

All of which make it a very good strategic location for a logistics hub. 

In addition to being the headquarter for the Arizona National Guard, and the Arizona Department of Emergency Management; PPMR serves as a regional logistics and communications hub for the DOD, FEMA, and other military and defense agencies. 

Most relevant to this discussion, PPMR is a major backup hub site, for the primary defense communications and intelligence hubs at Fort Huachuca AZ (home of Army NETCOM, and the Army Intelligence center, and "other" organizations), and Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, CO (home of the Space Systems and Space Operations commands, NORAD... and various "other" major critical clients, of defense communications and intelligence infrastructure and traffic). It's also a secondary backup hub for Creech AFB/Nellis AFB and their major client organizations (for example, most of the nations UAV fleet are controlled out of Creech), and the Army Aviation and Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville Alabama (including its client facilities for the DOD, and NASA).... and it has been so, since about 1951. 

This means that the FedGov has been laying communications infrastructure through that spot for defense and government use, for about 70 years now. 

In 1973, ARPA decided it needed to have one of those newly developed fiber optic networks... 

...because in addition to greater bandwidth, fiber optics couldn't tapped, monitored, or disrupted as easily as radio links, or copper lines, in event of an invasion, or nuclear war)... 

...eventually contracting with Optelecom (in fact, they helped FOUND Optelecom in 1974, spun out of IBMs federal services business group, specifically to facilitate that project) and GTE (who ended up buying Sprint) to connect critical defense installations across the country. 

In the process, they laid major backbone fiber lines across the whole country... lots and lots of what we call dark fiber... mostly paralleling the major interstate transport arteries, and particularly major rail lines, in between critical defense installations. Again, not a coincidence... GTE contracted with Union Pacific, and what eventually became BNSF... 

...(through what was at the time, the Internal Networking and Telephony (INT) division of Southern Pacific Railways (SPR) wholly owned subsidiary, Southern Pacific Communications (SPC)... it was completely spun off in 1975 to become Sprint... Which most don't know, is actually an acronym for Southern Pacific Railways Internal Networking and Telephony)...

...to lay MASSIVE amounts of both fiber, and copper, communication lines along their existing railway right-of-way networks (a long time standard practice in the telecoms industry, beginning with the original telegraph lines in the 1840s, and continued through the development of the long distance telephone network, all the way up through todays massive data networks).

Even very long haul telecoms lines need major relay and interconnection stations regionally. You can't just run a very long line directly from say, Los Angeles Air Force Base (where, just as an example, the worldwide GPS satellite network is commanded from) to Redstone Arsenal/NASA marshall space flight center, and then another directly from Vandenberg AFB (the USAF space launch center) to NASA Johnston Space Flight center in Houston, and another from LS-AFB to Peterson in Colorado Springs etc... etc...

...(LA-AFB by the way is technically in El Segundo... As it happens, a few hundred yards north from where farthest west spur of Union Pacifics, main east-west rail line, and the farthest west spur of BNSFs main east-west rail line, cross for the final time. In fact, the BNSF spur line actually runs THROUGH the LA-AFB property. 

Literally across the street on one side, is Equinix Los Angeles (and actually physically adjacent, are Northrup Grumman space and missile systems, and Raytheon space and missile systems). Just up the road (and the UP rail line) are Cogent and CoreSite (who are across the street from each other, in between LA-AFB and the railyard at the junction of I-5, I-10, and US-101); three of the largest internet communication exchange peering points, and tier 1 backbone providers serving the region (with three of the largest datacenters in the region). 

A few hundred yards up the other road towards LAX (which is also just a few hundred yards away), and clustered around LAX, are a bunch more datacenters and tier one providers.  

The other top providers facilities in the region... and most have multiple around the area... are mostly either within a few hundred yards of those locations; in a cluster in orange county near John wayne airport where the BNSF southbound spur lines terminate, and meet up with the UP main east west line, and the main spurs down to San Diego etc... ; or about 20 miles south down either that same BNSF spur, or a different UP spur,  terminating in the Port of Long Beach and San Pedro.

The comm lines that run along both sets of right of ways, terminate at a separated annex of Fort Macarthur. Fort MacArthur used to be the headquarters of missile defense and air defense commands for all of southern california, and the major regional hub for the Air Defense Command and Communications System, but has been closed down and turned into a city park, except for a small portion owned and operated by the USAF for "administrative purposes". One major reason the USAF still owns and maintains a facility at Fort MacArthur is because of the communications hub still located there, which acts as a secondary interconnect backup to LA-AFB.

From those two lines, and two interconnect points in SO-CAL (LA-AFB and Fort MacArthur), you then get two redundant paths north... the UP coastal line that runs north along US-101 and US-1 all the way up through the south and east bay; and the BNSF line that runs inland through the imperial valley, all the way up to Antioch and Concord, and back down into the east bay. 

...Oh, and the major federal defense communications hub for northern California is at Moffett Field... the location of NASA Ames research center, and up until 2010 the USAF Space Command facility at Sunnyvale Air Force Station/Onizuka Air Force Station. 

The first Federal Internet Exchange point was established in 1989 at NASA Ames, allowing different Tier 1 networking providers to connect to the ARPAnet.

This is why the area around Moffett field specifically, and through San Jose, Milpitas, Santa Clara, Fremont, and Hayward (rather than any other particular location around the Bay Area) became the early areas of highly concentrated commercial datacenters and network peering points, after the restriction of commercial use of the internet was reduced then lifted, from 1991-1993... They're all along the main union pacific right of way both coming up from Los Angeles, and coming down from Sacramento (the BNSF lines terminate in Oakland, and don't go further south. The UP lines continue north and)... and thus, theyre directly on the main tier 1 backbone connection routes, established by ARPA in the 70s. 

Post 2010, the functions of Onizuka AFS have been transferred to Vandenberg AFB... again, not coincidentally, the major Union Pacific rail line between the LA fiber hub, and the Bay Area fiber hub, literally runs directly THROUGH Vandenberg AFB)... 

... So back to Phoenix, and the problem of redundant, resilient connections across the country... 

logically, both for efficiency, and for redundancy and resiliency; as I said before the major digression above, you don't build a star shaped or hub and spoke network, you build a mesh network, with major regional hubs, all interconnected as much as possible, north, south, east, and west; so you're not bouncing back and forth across a continent, multiple times, to get data from say, LA to Colorado. 

If you're trying to connect military, NASA, and other government and defense installations in southern California, to others in NorCal, Colorado Springs, Houston Texas, Huntsville Alabama, and Cocoa Beach Florida; Arizona is the logical interconnection point along the east-west line from coast to coast, to go north, northeast, and east.... And it just so happens the rail line right of ways exist for you to lay redundant routes through two locations, and two passes through the mountains in California... One along the BNSF owned northern route parallel to I-40, and one along the Union Pacific owned route, south through Yuma. 

... And gee, guess what... that east-west UP mainline route happens to pass a score or so miles north of Fort Huachuca, and there's a southbound spur line that heads right by it... How convenient... 

... And gee, guess what... like I said above, the spur lines connecting the northern BNSF route, and the southern UP route, just happen to meet not far from Papago Park Military Reservation. 

Ok... So... it should be clear, how the defense establishment wanted to create a nuclear war resilient and redundant network of both fiber optics and copper... and why they used the railway right of ways to do it.

But there's one other way that the reason why these things are where they are is "war"... the U.S. Civil War specifically. 

A few years before the civil war, In order to give the railroad companies incentive to build rail networks across what was mostly vast empty country without cities or customers...

... east to west in between Kansas City (where the western railheads terminated at the time. Houston and Dallas were only just getting to be real cities then) and the west coast. Then north to south, between the cities on the coast, and between the few cities actually in "the west"... 

...the government passed a series of land grant acts. These act granted the railroads their right of ways, and ownership of the land around them, wherever they could lay track and connect it to a main line... With the provision, that the government could always use those lines and right of ways for defense purposes... These acts were MASSIVELY increased during the civil war, with additional contract incentives for specific strategically important rail lines to be built. 

This kicked off a huge railroad building boom, which didn't end until the late 1890s; during which, the major railroad companies built lines all throughout the still barely populated west, which would not have been profitable to build, if it were not for the land grants and incentives voted in during, and because of, the war. 

So, ever since then, government and defense communications lines, have generally been laid along railroad right of ways.

Oh... and why Papago specifically?

Well, in part it's because, as I said, its very convenient to both the rail lines, and the interstate highways in the region... and it was already a US military facility (it was established as a national guard facility in 1930, and was used as a POW camp in WW2).

But war and defense determined the location in one more, somewhat weirder way.

One of the requirements that ARPA and the rest of the DOD had for these network facilities, was that they be nuclear hardened, or otherwise resistant to a nuclear blast near by. Most of the time, this resulted in huge ugly concrete monolith buildings, but there were exceptions.

PPMR is one of those exceptions. There's a big antennae farm, and some low buildings, but no big concrete block thing.

As it happens, PPMR is situated partway up the side of a 2100 foot high mountain of solid granite... and the communications hub, is buried underneath it. 

That was judged by the defense establishment to be sufficient for any reasonable potential war scenario.

... And together, (along with generally lower cost of land and building here than most other areas) that's why the Phoenix metro area, has more dark fiber, more tier one backbone providers, more peering points, and more datacenter space; than any cities in America other than SF/SJC metro, LA metro, Denver Metro, DC metro, NYC metro, and BOS metro... And for that matter, it's why PHX, DEN, DFW, and HOU are the only cities in between the coasts to even be in the top ten lists.  They're all major backbone hubs, established by the fedgov, for defense purposes, along major rail lines, in between or with defense critical sites.

So, just as with the bay area and Moffet Field, that fiber backbone and peering concentration, is why there are a bunch of HUGE datacenters near Papago Peak Military reservation, or otherwise along the rail lines running nearby; including a couple of the biggest in the country, and what at the time it was built, was the biggest public commercial datacenter in the world...

...(meaning they lease and colo to anyone, rather than being owned and used by the government, or a single corporation like google or facebook. All of the very largest datacenters are either .gov or megacorps)... 

...It's also why you might have noticed there's a bunch of local endpoints for online game services, Content Delivery Networks, VOIP services, VPN services etc... in PHX, even though those companies aren't based in Phoenix, and may not have large userbases here. They're in one of the major peering points, or one of the many datacenters near the peering points.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

What the heck happened to my theme ???

 Somehow the theme... and thus the whole look and feel... of my blog (which, yes, though not very active is very much still a going concern)  has gone wonky. No idea why, but the colors, backgrounds, "texture"... the entire look and feel is borked.

Yes, I will figure it out and fix it soon... but GAWD do I hate dealing with theme and design issues in Blogger. In the mean time, gren, brown, and beige it is I guess.


UPPDATE: its only screwed up in dark mose.... Hmmm... 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Fraudulent Forgiveness

There's no such thing as "debt forgiveness" or "loan forgiveness" or "debt cancellation"... these are all just polite fictions to help buy votes. 

...That debt, was at one point real money, paid to real businesses (and yes, colleges and universities absolutely ARE businesses as much as they like to pretend otherwise), and spent on real salaries and facilities etc... 

...And real money paid, means real debits and liabilities on the balance sheet. They can't just be eliminated with the wave of a wand, or the stroke of a pen. 

A politician can't just say "this debt doesn't exist anymore". Period. 

What they're really doing is transferring the liability on the balance sheet from the borrower, to the underwriter. No, not to the lender... To the underwriter. That's who actually provides the money to the lender to make the loans.

You might not understand who the ultimate underwriter of government liabilities is... Particularly if you're economically illiterate enough, or so subject to magical thinking, that you support loan "cancellation" or "forgiveness" of debt.

It's the American tax and fee payers who get stuck with the bill... 76 percent of whom, did not graduate from college, and 64 percent didn't attend college at all, and don't have any student loans to be "forgiven" or "cancelled".

... Because somehow that's not immoral and unethical? 

All this is, is a blatantly transparent attempt to buy the votes of younger voters; who while they aren't particularly looking to vote Republican, don't much want to vote Democrat right now either and, would rather stay home.

Importantly, it's also effectively a huge crutch to the failing university systems around the country, and the academics and administrators employed by such... Almost all of whom reliably vote Democrat, and act as an unofficial propaganda and marketing wing of the Democratic party to keep indoctrinating young people and convincing everyone else, to keep voting Democrat. 

... And the 64 percent who didn't attend college, know it very well... And the between 10% and 15% who DID have student loans but who paid them off as agreed, know it even better...

Friday, August 19, 2022

Not as good as hoped, not as bad as feared


Oncologist appointment and review of scans complete. Good news bad news situation as expected.

Scans show between 5% and 20% growth in the masses over the last six months, average of between 10% and 15% 

That's not great, but it's not bad either. 15% average over six months is considered successful treatment especially since I was out of treatment for over 3 months. We're going to continue the current treatment plan another 3 months and see how it goes. 

Bottom line, much better than I had feared, and about as good as I could hope for considering. 

Now I'm getting my immunotherapy infusion... Yay.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

A Legend Leaves Us... and we are Lessened by it.

There's not much I can say, except this makes me too damn sad... A direct blow to the heart.

Eric was a damned good man, who did more for science fiction and fantasy... and fellow SFF writers... than any other author of the last 30 years... Probably since Ben Bova.

Eric was a huge force in the sea change that publishing has undergone in that time, all the while keeping up a pace of publishing new work, while fighting aggressive cancer... he was irrepressible, and he is irreplaceable.

From Baen Books:

It is with a heavy heart we share the news that Eric Flint has died.

We will have an official statement to come, but for now, we mourn the loss of one of the finest writers in the genre, a generous colleague and mentor, and a dear friend.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Not a Second Class Right


NYSRPA v. Bruen has come down, 6-3 to the good side. First, and most importantly, the concept of the right to keep and bear arms, in public, including concealed, as a constitutionally protected individual right, is affirmed.


The racist New York Sullivan act, and the "special need" and other such burdens on carry permits are no longer presumed to be constitutional. Very explicitly the written opinions state that licensing is allowed, but only non-discretionary "shall issue" licensing, that does not unduly burden the free exercise of the right to keep and bear arms.

It also makes clear and explicit that, in context of Heller, MacDonald etc... elements required for such... Sales of firearms, ammunition, the ability to practice shooting etc... Cannot be unduly restricted 

It's going to take further litigation... a hell of a lot of it... but on this basis, GCA '68 and NFA '34 cannot stand as written either. Nor can any ban of any firearm or other weapon in common usage or ownership.

No "assault weapon" bans, no magazine bans... none of it. It's done. 

Basically, all restrictive gun control of any kind, is done...

... EVENTUALLY... 

....After probably another 20 years of law suits, but DONE nonetheless. 

Thomas authored the majority opinion, and clearly imposed a MUCH MORE THAN strict standard of scrutiny:

"The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not 'a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees. We know of no other constitutional right that an individual may exercise only after demonstrating to government officers some special need. 

That is not how the First Amendment works when it comes to unpopular speech or the free exercise of religion. It is not how the Sixth Amendment works when it comes to a defendant’s right to confront the witnesses against him. And it is not how the Second Amendment works when it comes to public carry for selfdefense".

Friday, June 17, 2022

Cool Spray

The contents of this picture, are about to give us a HUGE quality of life improvement... Much as the new AC did for our indoor life, the $60 or so worth of tubing and fittings, is going to improve our outdoor life.

Two of our household members prefer to spend a lot of their time on the back porch... But when it gets above 100 degrees out there, which it is during daylight hours for something like 7-8 months out of the year, that gets very difficult.

For me,  I'd absolutely prefer to spend a lot more time out on the porch as well... For one thing, that's my main hobby and project workspace, and most of my tools and workbenches live out there... But my endocrine issues mean I have very poor body temperature regulation... Or often, basically none... And I just can't spend much time out there when it's much over 80-85 or so, and basically none at all when it's over 90 or so. 

That means I basically can't go out on the porch at all, 20-24 hours a day, from May or June through September or even October, and daylight hours most days from late March or April through late October... even some days in November. 

... Rather a big limitation for me... It's basically half of our socialization and recreation space, and I basically can't use it at all for more than half the year, or barely use it for another quarter of the year... I don't think I've been out onto the porch at all except momentarily, since... March? Maybe April? 

It's only mid June, and we have already seen over 113 official temps in our neighborhood, and observed as high as 117... We're probably going to hit over 120 observed, and at least 117 official, in July and August. 

And of course, we'd ALL like to enjoy our outdoor time more, which means getting the temperature out on the porch below 100, and preferably below 90, or even 85.

Now, outdoor evaporative mist cooling has been around forever... hell, it was invented before modern air conditioning... but full EVAP mist cooling systems used to be rather expensive. Hundreds, or even thousands of dollars for large outdoor areas. And with the older big hole mister nozzles, you didn't get all that fine a mist, which was less efficient at evaporation, and the nozzles would crust up with minerals very quickly and be hard to maintain etc...

In the last 15 years, prices for misting systems have PLUMMETED to almost nothing. The complete setup for two different misting circuits as pictured there cost less than $60. The hookup hose, hose manifold and hose fittings together cost more than that; and gross, the whole system end to end cost maybe $100. And mister nozzles are now EDM machined, to optimize their spray pattern so they evaporate more efficiently, while using less water, and crudding up less. In fact, I can replace every mister nozzle in both loops for about $30, and about an hours worth of work. 

Our back porch is about 32x16... Which should be completely covered on the outer two sides by the bigger coil of tubing and bag of mister nozzles, spaced about 2 feet apart (the manufacturer says ideal spacing varies from 20-40" depending on encironment. 

The smaller coil of tubing and bag of nozzles, is to convert our large harbor freight outdoor fan, into a directed "swamp cooler" style, fan driven evaporative cooler, on a 30-8sh  foot tether (we also got a high flow 4 way hose manifold and heavy duty high flow hookup hose, to use as a water "switch", so we don't have to shut it off at the outdoor standpipe, or shut it off to use our garden hose in the yard etc...)... and one thing we definitely have at this house is GREAT water pressure, so I'm not worried about feeding that many nozzles off a single garden standpipe. 

Even without the fan driven evap cooler, we should get a minimum of 20 degrees felt cooling effect on all but the humid monsoon days... And on very dry, very hot days (we've seen as low as 2% relative humidity this year so far)... The days we need it the most ... we may be able to get anywhere from 25-30f degrees of felt cooling effect, just from the ambient mist... Meaning we may be able to get 110-115f ambient to feel like 85f or even 80f... 

Maybe, with the ambient mist system, AND with the big industrial fan cooler going together, under ideal conditions, on the hottest and driest days, we may even see as much as 35-40f degrees of felt cooling... The charts say it's well within possibility, but I'm certainly not expecting quite that much.... But it would be very nice to get an ambient observed of say, 115-120f, to feel like 85f or 90f...And 30-35f (about 20c maximum) should be practically feasible within the limits of the system, given our uniquely suited climate for that system.

Hell... According to the charts, on a 120 degree day, with under 4% relative humidity, with enough airflow and enough misting,  in theory we could see a maximum of 60f felt temperature reduction... But that's theoretical chart performance... And that wouldn't actually be pleasant for that matter. It would get uncomfortably muggy somewhere around 45f of felt cooling.

Cherry Picking Extreme Anomalies to Lie with Numbers for Gun Control

Recently, you may have heard gun control activists saying that "guns kill more people than cars in this country", which is simply and flatly false.

Or rather, it is a deliberate manipulation of statistics, and insanely specific and historically unique cherry picking, to blatantly lie about reality. 

The proper way to deal with these types of long term trends, is with a 20 or even 30 year moving average... Most categories of stats like these use 20 year most of the time, so I'll use the 20 year moving averages here to illustrate...

On average, over the last 20 years, appx. 40-45,0000 people die in automobile related fatalities in the U.S. annually (the 20 years prior to that, it was more like 50,000). On average over the past 20 years appx. 35,000- 40,000 people die of gunshot wounds in the U.S. every year (and up until 2017 that moving average was much closer to 35,000, but we have seen a significant increase in both violent crime, and suicide, since either 2016 or 2017 depending on which analysis of which dataset etc...). 

...(Notably, BOTH had been consistently and significantly going down since between 1991 and 1994 depending on how you count which datasets etc...)... 

Of firearms related deaths, on average, appx. 55% to 60% of deaths by firearms, are intentionally self inflicted...Suicides... and of the remaining 40% appx. 60% are one criminal shooting another criminal; meaning appx 85% of all firearms related deaths have nothing to do with either crimes against the innocent, or with accidents. And only appx. 1-3% of firearms deaths are accidental depending on the year (most years it's barely over 1% but the error bars here are a little higher because of statistical methodologies and dataset variability). 

Yes, sadly, most years, about half the rest... 7-8%... are in fact innocent victims of violent criminal strangers or acquaintances. Even more sadly, in most years, the other half...again 7%-8% of the total... are some kind of domestic violence, or otherwise homicide by a friend or family member not otherwise involved in a separate criminal act. 

... HOWEVER... There IS a scanty thin film of justification covering their lies... And gun control advocates ALWAYS lie... 

There is only one year in all of U.S. history that the absolute number of motor vehicle related fatalities were exceeded by the absolute number of firearms related fatalities... 2020 (though depending on exactly how you calculate them and which dataset you use, the RATES per capita crossed each other in 2017, 2019, and 2020). 

You know... 2020... The year where most people were locked down most of the year, and severely limited travel the rest of the year... Total non-commercial trips taken, total non-commercial passenger miles travelled, total trips, and total vehicle miles driven, all fell between 30% and 50% for that one year... Meaning total fatal accidents were way down (though the rate per mile was up slightly). 

While, at the same time, amidst a significant increase in both violent crime and suicide beginning in 2016 or 2017; we experienced the largest single year surge of violent crime in American history (even worse than 1968, 1986, or 1991). This, as most major urban areas experienced massive waves of rioting, looting, and other violent crime during "protests"; and while many democratic controlled city governments instituted essentially non-enforcement policies, against much urban crime. Finally, at the same time a massive wave of pandemic related suicides was also happening.

This ended up resulting in a single year increase of appx. 20% of violent crime overall (maybe as much as 30% depending on how you count violent crime), and a single year increase of almost 30% in firearms related violent crime. 

This combination of a massive anomalous violent crime increase, and a massive anomalous suicide increase; resulted in overall firearms related deaths increasing by about 17% in one year. 

... and even then, firearms related deaths were only just barely greater than vehicle related deaths... 

We don't yet have the official final numbers for 2021 (prelims typically come out in February, but the final official numbers typically come out around the end of q3 to as late as middle of q4), but all indications are that violent crime is still up, while road usage is still down; but both are far closer to the average of the last 20 years, than the FRIKKEN PLAGUE YEAR.

Monday, June 06, 2022

Circumventing the Peter Principle

"if a team runs itself for six months while you search for a manager, you don't need to look outside, you need to promote from within"

Well, yes... 

..."But I don't want to be a manager"...

..."But I've seen too many teams ruined by promoting a competent worker to a management role they didn't want, or couldn't do properly"...

Again, yes... It's a well understood phenomenon, called "The Peter Principle"; commonly stated as:

"In any organization, an employee will be promoted to their level of incompetence"


It's one of the biggest problems in organizational management... 

...(And you should definitely read the book by the way)... 

Which is why when you're faced with a situation as presented above, you need to do one of two things:

1. Flatten the hierarchy... remove the level of management in question as unnecessary and counterproductive... Assign administrative and project management support to the team so they can focus on what they're good at, and have the higher level management take on the remaining responsibilities the previous layer of management that are actually not just necessary, but critical. Specifically, 

A. setting missions and goals for the team, in alignment with the organizations missions and goals, and effectively iterate and adjust them to optimize performance
B. Obtaining and distributing the resources necessary for the team to accomplish their tasks, goals, and missions
C. Advocating for and representing the team within the rest of the organization
D. Most importantly other than point A... manage and improve both the professional development, and the morale of the team members individually, and the team as a whole

2. If flattening the hierarchy won't work, for whatever reason, then find someone internally who has the aptitude and desire and is trainable to manage others, and then ACTUALLY DEVELOP their leadership and management skills and abilities.

The reasons managers get paid more... Or at least it SHOULD be and is intended to be... because their skills, abilities, aptitudes etc... are more rare than those with purely functional or technical skills; and even more rare than that, because they willingly accept responsibility for the actions, and the development, of others.

That second part is the big hangup... lots of great functional, operational, or technical people, either don't want, or honestly cant, accept that responsibility over others, and still be functional at the level they need to be. They don't want the risk and stress, or their core character causes it to be TOO MUCH risk and stress for them to be able to handle, without it hurting or harming them. 

Please not, that doesn't make someone who wants the responsibility superior, or someone who can't handle that responsibility inferior... Just different, and not suitable for management or leadership. 

But, so long as someone has the constitution, and innate character elements necessary, at the very least the skills of both management and leadership can be trained, and gained, and improved with experience; making for a competent and functional manager, even if they don't have a particular talent or aptitude for it.

... It takes natural talent and aptitude, as well as the various necessary character elements, AND all of the support and training and development,  and resources; to become a good or great manager or leader... Or anything more than functional and competent... And importantly, to became any kind of actual leader, not just a manager. 

To do that, they need professional development, and support from higher management and leadership; and they need to have realistic expectations set, with appropriate missions and goals and metrics, and the resources necessary to achieve them.

The problem, is that so often, none of that actually happens.

Just Go See it... For Goose

I just left the house for the first time since March... 

...And for the first time to watch a movie in theaters, since my birthday in 2019 (April 27th)... More than THREE FRIKKEN years... In the same IMAX theater, and half a row to the left of where we watched "Avengers Endgame"... 

... To go watch "Top Gun: Maverick"... 

And let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, it was well worth the wait.

That was the best military aviation film ever made... Period. 

Yes, it was better than the original.


It was prettier, it was more moving; it pushed more buttons harder, but in a good way; it had a better story... 

Hell, the only real complaint I have with the movie, (not technical nitpicks I have as a pilot or aerospace engineer. It's good enough that those don't really matter), is that it's too short. It should have been 30 or 40 minutes longer... At 2hrs 10min, they could have even added 50 minutes, and punched it out to 3 hours flat; which just would have made it a better film, with more time for the character development of the team (I think a bunch more non-flying content was filmed, and then cut, to tighten the film up), and more room for the flying action scenes to breathe (something the original actually did VERY well).

As it was, Maverick was a super tight, densely packed, hardcore military aviation popcorn movie.

If there was a 3hr extended cut, I would go and watch it again, right now. 

Yes, there were technical niggles... lots of them (including some very big ones for a pilot or engineer). Of course there were...SO WHAT... it's a movie not a flight simulator... They don't matter... at all. The movie is just that damn well done, and just that damn fun, and just that damn moving. 

Oh, and if during or after watching the movie, your wife, girlfriend, or other female in your party says something like "why can't men just say 'I love you"... Tell her all three of them did... Like four times total... It's not their fault she doesn't speak dude... 😜

Go see it... See it in IMAX if you can... Feel the thunder in your chest...

It's what Goose would have wanted.

Saturday, June 04, 2022

Strict Scrutiny


It's now June... New York's state Rifle and Pistol Association v. Bruen was argued in November. 

Traditionally, cases argued early in the October to October US Supreme Court term, have their decisions released by late June. 

It is largely expected that we are going to see something like a 6-3 majority in favor of more clearly defining the 2nd Amendment, as ...PROPERLY... protecting the individual right to keep and and bear arms, both inside and outside the home (and in all but certain specially protected places, such as inside court houses and police stations); for all lawful purposes; and applying either strict scrutiny, or at least a heightened and very restrictive interpretation of intermediate scrutiny.

In fact we may even see a 6-1-2 split, with Kagan (Kagan is known to be an occasional recreational shotgunner, and is thought to largely agree with Scalias interpretation of the second amendment, just allowing for some more or more restrictive gun control under a fairly strict rational basis or a looser intermediate scrutiny standard... Hell, we may even see 5-2-2 or 5-1-1-2, with Roberts and Kagan joining in concurrence, or Roberts writing a separate concurrence as well) siding with the majority but issuing a separate opinion, allowing for more and stricter gun control, with a less strict standard of judicial review than the majority opinion, or applying a narrower scope than the majority decision, or both.

...(Or at least within the scope of the NYSRPA v. Bruens issues under review. They may write their decision to broadly apply to any type of restriction on the second amendment, or they may limit that scope to simply carry laws, requiring separate litigation under whatever standard of security is promulgated, to deal with other types of gun control)... 

We know that at least Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanagh, and Coney-Barrett, are all in favor of strict scrutiny on the second amendment generally, and that Alito has indicated that he supports either strict scrutiny or a very scrupulous intermediate scrutiny standard on the second. If a four justice bloc wrote the majority opinion in favor of strict scrutiny, he would likely sign on to that opinion, for an outright majority opinion imposing strict scrutiny on the second (or at least within the scope of review of that decision anyway, whatever that scope may be)... 

This could mean that ANY law or regulation... federal, state, or local... burdening, restricting, or limiting that right; would be automatically presumed to be unconstitutional by default; unless it affirmatively and clearly passed a very strict constitutional test. 

 In the case of strict scrutiny, such test requiring that any such restriction, burden, or limit imposed on that right:

1. Effectively serve a highly compelling, overwhelming, or critical, state interest or interests

2. Such interests; and any restrictions, limits, or burdens on the right in serving such interests; be as specifically and narrowly defined and tailored as reasonably possible

3. In order to effectively serve such interests, without unduly limiting, restricting, or burdening the right; outside of such narrowly and strictly tailored and defined compelling interests

...And that...

4. Such compelling interest cannot be effectively served in any other way, impacting, limiting, or burdening the right, less than the method in question.

5. The burden of proof is on the state, to show the elements above.

Meaning that we may be as little as a week or two away from invalidating most gun control measures, in the 11 states now implementing significant gun control laws. 

... Or at least starting the process of doing so, since those 11 states are likely all going to fight every step of the way until the supreme court decides just exactly how far the states, and the federal government, can go; in restricting the second amendment.

We would also be a few weeks from preventing most of what Democrats are trying to force through right now in terms of gun control. 

If we are able to get a strict scrutiny, or heightened intermediate scrutiny standard of judicial review put in place then... That's the whole ballgame, though it will certainly take many years of additional litigation to get there. 

I would expect that federally, the national firearms act of 1934, and the gun control act of 1968, will need to be revised significantly at the very least, if not repealed entirely and replaced with something much more rational and less restrictive. 

Simply put, there is no compelling state interest served in heavily and burdonsomely restricting short barreled rifles and shotguns, firearms sound suppressors or silencers, or "any other weapons", such as novelty firearms, firearms that do not look like firearms, or firearms that don't meet conventional categories or definitions. Millions of these items have legally and commonly been in civilian non law enforcement hands for 88 years, with less than a dozen violent crimes commited using them. There is nothing that makes such items specially dangerous, or more likely to be used in crime, or any other factor that even COULD present a compelling government interest in restricting them. 

Similarly, no compelling state interest is served by banning firearms sales across state lines between private citizens and licensed dealers, and requiring a dealer to dealer transfer, then a separate dealer to end user transfer. Any federally licensed firearms dealer should be able to sell any firearm, legal in any state, to anyone allowed to own such a firearm in their home state.... Even if neither party are in their home state at the time of sale or transfer, so long as they meet the laws and requirements of the state in which the sale occurred, the state of residence of the end purchased, and the state in which the federal license holder has their listed primary location of business (including federal and state background checks as may be required).

... I personally think that should apply to private sales a well, but there's good arguments that the states could make that private citizens may not know, and follow, the laws and requirements of other states etc... etc... 

Also, I think there's very good arguments that no compelling state interest is served in entirely banning the production of new fully automatic weapons for civilian sale (as the ATF has done by deliberately misinterpreting the law since 1986); as there are hundreds of thousands of fully automatic weapons in civilian non law enforcement hands, with literally less than a dozen crimes having been committed using those lawfully owned weapons since 1934.  

On the state level, I think that strict scrutiny, and most forms of intermediate scrutiny, would invalidate any type of notional "assault weapons ban", or other categorical or type ban on commonly used firearms; any state "list of approved firearms" as is implemented in Massachusetts and California; and any "permit to purchase" system, requiring a special permit issued by the state or local government to purchase or own every individual firearm. Though it wouldn't necessarily invalidate or prevent any state level firearms registration or database, so long as such registration is not otherwise restrictive or burdensome. 

Further (and addressed specifically in this case), even with just intermediate scrutiny, all states will likely eventually be required to implement a "shall issue", or otherwise less restrictive carry law, and permit system (if they require permits at all. 39 states now have "shall issue" permit system, and only 11 have more restrictive permitting.  However, 25 of those 39 states now have permitless carry for all citizens age 21 or over, and not otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms... and within the year it may be as many as 29. The only reason those 25 states have permit systems, is so that they can have carry permit reciprocity with other states that require permits, or require them for citizens of other states; or for carry in places that would otherwise be restricted... Also, many states allow carry permit holders to skip additional background checks when purchasing firearms, as having a valid permit already proves one is not prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms, and has passed a background check ). 

Such a "shall issue" carry permit system, meaning that permits to carry must be issued to anyone meeting requirements, on payment of a reasonable fee, without any requirement that a state official approve the permit, or that the permit applicant show any special need or reason to obtain a permit. 

Such requirements meaning, they be a citizen or lawful permanent resident 21 or more years of age, not otherwise prohibited from owning or possessing firearms, able to pass an FBI background check, and in some states presenting documentation of meeting a training requirement not considered unduly burdensome, to a reasonable person (something like, a class requiring no more than 2 days or instruction, with a reasonable test of demonstrated safety and proficiency, and costing no more than $300 including the permit fee).

Which, as I said, is currently the law in 39 states... And in all 39 of those states, it's been proven that carry permit holders actually commit crimes with their lawfully owned and carried firearms, LESS THAN POLICE DO.

Simply put... Gun control is entirely irrational, and frankly silly and stupid; and in most ways, will finally be recognized as unconstitutional, very soon.  

So yeah... here's hoping for strict scrutiny...

Friday, April 15, 2022

No Credible Counterargument

"I actually have made a case that the M16 family of rifles is the best American service rifle."

-- Caleb Giddings

I would go further, and say I honestly don't think there is a credible counterargument. 


The concept of mass formations of individual long range riflemen, is simply wrong. That's what all bolt action service rifles (like the 1903 Springfield above), and even semi-auto battle rifles like the garand (below) were meant for. 


The modern infantry fighting concept, and the doctrine implementing it...

...Small formations composed of well trained, independent but mutually supporting fire teams, with a mix of a few light/medium/general purpose machine guns (possibly some grenade launchers, and light rocket or light mortar support, depending on the environment and situation),  a few designated marksman or other longer range capable individual riflemen; and the great majority of troops armed with actual assault rifles, firing an intermediate chambering, light enough to carry a large ammunition load, and with low enough recoil fo fire accurately and controllably in short automatic burst; fighting with shoot and maneuver general tactics...

...has proven to be a generally superior infantry concept and force structure, basically in almost every way and almost every terrain and situation. Period.


The M14 (as pictured in two versions above) is not suitable as the general issue rifle to most troops, under this concept and doctrine.

The M16/M4... is... period.

It may not be the absolute optimal assault rifle system and solution (particularly the 5.56 chambering) for this modern infantry concept and doctrine, but it's the best anyone has actually gone to war with in the last 60 years... And has been the American service rifle for as long as this modern infantry fighting concept and doctrine have been employed by the U.S. (we were in the process of slowly transitioning to it during the Korean war, and even early in the Vietnam war. The terrain, environment, situation, and opposition in Vietnam; essentially forced us to complete that transition, on the spot. We had to rapidly iterate through multiple experiments wifh the force structures, tactics, and equipment, necessary to fight that war; not really coming to what worked... or at least what failed the least... until quite late in the war). 

The AK platform is more well suited to the concept and doctrine of mass infantry, in larger elements of relatively poorly trained and inexperienced conscripts, that has generally been employed by Russia, China, and other Russo/soviet influenced armies. But it would absolute NOT be better for the American/Western European modern infantry concept.

I really don't think anyone could credibly argue otherwise.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

That word... I do not think it means, what you think it means...

I am absolutely certain that damn near every one of the folks who marched, protested, rioted, and ultimately stormed the capital on January 6th 2021; thought of themselves as patriots. 

I am absolutely certain that for most of them, what they thought of as their patriotism, was at least in large part... maybe the largest part... why they were doing what they were doing.

I think by most people's definition ( whatever other motivations were involved, whether those people were not entirely wrong, just plain wrong, deluded, misguided, or otherwise, and whether they understand their own patriotism in the same way) those folks were in fact patriots. 

At the very least, I think just about everyone, no matter how critical they may be of the events and the people involved; would acknowledge that at least the large majority of those participating in the events of that day, were patriots by their own concepts and definitions of patriotism. 

Many of them committed some fairly serious crimes, and a lot of what should be thought of as shameful and stupid behavior... criminalnor otherwise.

Their being patriots is not nullified by that. 

Nor does their being patriots, or their patriotism, or any other motivation or reason for that matter; excuse their wrongdoing (criminal or otherwise).

But... whatever you think of the events of that day, the people in question, what they did or did not do, or whatever motivations or reasons why they may have done so...

I can with absolute certainty, and without any equivocation whatsoever; say, that the events of January 6th 2021, were not an insurrection.... Not anything remotely like an insurrection in fact.

Why can I say that with absolute certainty?

Two things...

If it had been an insurrection:

1. They would all have been armed, most of them with rifles, which they would have used

2. They would have actually tried to "win", not simply disrupt and rage at the system... and at least in a limited way, would have been successful. Because they would have had rifles, and used them.

And I am so certain, because anyone knowing anything about the people involved, the events of that day, or actual insurrections (and I know rather a lot about all three), and thinking about it rationally for even 20 seconds or so; knows that both 1 and 2 above are absolutely true and correct.

Anyone calling the events of that day an insurrection, is either not thinking at all rationally or with any knowledge of the facts or the law... or just not thinking, period (they're reacting and emoting)... 

... Or are they lying for political reasons...

...Period...

Friday, February 11, 2022

Ten years gone... But never, EVER, forgotten...

Today, it's been ten years since my mother, Jane Elizabeth Dinsmore, died; of I believe what was her 9th relapse, metastasis, or new occurrence, of cancer. That time around, it being oat cell lung cancer, that finally killed her, after a very long, and very painful decline.

My mother was a brilliant woman... A serial self educator and serial entrepreneur, who also had very severe physical and mental health issues, that made her life... something other than what she wanted, much of the time. She was an abuse survivor, an addict, and she had both neurological issues, and other mental health issues, that caused her pain and trouble through her entire life.... and that's not even including the cancer she fought her entire adult life.

My mother died having outlived her younger son, my little brother Rob by a year and a month, and never having met her granddaughter Shelby (now 19)... sadly Rob never got to meet her either... Or know her name or her birthday. 

My mother didn't survive to meet her grandson, my son Christopher, who was born in March of 2013, two years and one month after she passed.

She was just 55, and had been fighting cancer for more than half her life... Her first cancer.... breast cancer... having been diagnosed when she was, I believe, 26 but may have been when she was 27... My memories of those years can be... a bit fuzzy, thanks to my own cancer brain (I'm on round five of my own battle with cancer).

But she wasn't sad, or depressed, or beaten down by it except very rarely; living the best life she could, until quite near the end, when her body just couldn't take any more. 

She was not a very good mother... she tried to be, but she was not emotionally equipped to be one, nor was she physically or mentally healthy enough to be one... but she did her absolute damndest to try to be... she just couldn't be... because wanting to be, and trying to be, aren't always enough.... sometimes you fail. And sometimes you visit your own trauma and it's after effects, on the people you love, no matter how hard you try not to.

She was a difficult woman... a difficult person... in many ways... It wasn't an easy life... ever... not for one day. Maybe for as much as a few minutes or a few hours but never more than that. She was always frustrating, and often infuriating... a person of extremes, and inconsistencies.

I never loved her any less... not for one second. I never resented her for not being able to be the mother she wanted to be... or I needed or wanted her to be... I never hated her for it. How could I? I saw how hard she tried, and how much it KILLED her that she failed. And how the cancer, and her steadily deteriorating physical and mental health over my entire lifetime, just made it worse and worse. 

I loved my mother very much. She loved me, and my brother, and our family...FIERCELY... maybe too much. 

I still love her very much.

It's been ten years today.

I'm crying right now thinking about her.

I still think about her every single damn day.

You don't ever get over losing your mother, or your father... It doesn't even hurt less over time... you just deal with it better, and it doesn't hurt as much, as often. 

But sometimes, it absolutely hurts just as much as the minute it happened. 

It's been ten years.

I still think about her every day.

 I think I always will. 

I hope so.

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

The Absurdity of My Continued State of Being Alive

In case you haven't noticed, I have a somewhat odd, absurd, and dark sense of humor... Given my background it would be amazing if I didn't. 

Obviously, as a cancer warrior, I am among the more heavily medicated humans, not actually residing in a long term care facility. 

I take something like ... I think it's 17 maybe, it's easy to lose track, and miss one or two?.. different medications on a daily basis, and a couple more on a weekly or monthly basis; between cancer and associated paraneoplastic syndrome, endocrine dysfunction (or total lack of function, since my thyroid was removed in 2012), nerve damage, autoimmune inflammatory issues and arthritis, and every other damn thing wrong with me.   

Funny thing about cancer, and cancer treatment; especially endocrine cancer with paraneoplastic syndrome... you end up taking a lot of odd medications for odd reasons.

Paraneoplastic syndrome makes you have symptoms of diseases you don't have, because it causes your body to not make some hormones, and make too much of others. Endocrine cancer does that already even without the paraneoplastic syndrome.... So you end up with issues that seemingly have nothing to do with where your cancer is, or what kind of cancer it is...  And the treatments for the cancer have odd side effects on top of that.

... Thing is... I actually do think it's funny. It's really quite absurd just how hard everything is trying to kill me, and that I'm alive at all.. And with my twisted sense of humor, I find it all utterly hilarious in its absurdity... 

One thing I find particularly absurdly funny, is that I spent decades in competitive physical pursuits... weight lifting, football, wrestling, jiujitsu, etc... And never took "performance enhancing substances" more serious than ECA...

... Side Note: ECA is Ephedrine (or pseudoephedrine), Caffeine, and Aspirin. Three completely legal over the counter drugs which in combination can slightly improve oxygen uptake and aerobic performance; and improve energy, focus, and alertness... mostly it's like drinking several cups of strong coffee, and many people take that combination every day without even knowing or thinking about it...  

... And yet now, as a middle aged nearly bedridden man, I take enough testosterone, and dextroamphetamine, to rival an 80's WWF wrestler. Sadly, not to "enhance performance", but just to not lose all my muscle tone and muscle mass, and to stay awake and be able to focus enough to be functional.

Another thing I find absurdly funny, is some of the actual drugs I take, and what they're usually prescribed for, vs. what I actually take them for. 

Right now, I take EIGHT different drugs that have significant anti-depressant, anti-anxiety, or anti-psychotic effects; five of which are actually specifically considered antidepressants or antipsychotics... 

Meaning those meds are often or primarily prescribed as first line or second line treatments for depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, OCD, various psychoses, and even schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder (oh, and three more meds... hormones... that aren't used specifically for those issues, but which also tend to help with them).

... And I don't suffer from any of those issues, and I'm not prescribed any of those meds for treatment of those issues...

So what am I prescribed them for? 

Well, as it turns out, we don't really understand either neurological pain, or nausea... I'm tempted to say "at all" but I suppose we have some small understanding of them in some ways; just not very much. 

Other than obvious issues like organ or other discrete specific systemic dysfunction, physical damage, dehydration, clear blood chemistry issues, or severe vitamin, mineral, or other nutritional deficiencies; we don't really know what causes either, and we don't really know how either work. 

As such, we don't really know why many medications that may help some people to relieve either of those sets of symptoms, work on those sets of symptoms; or why some  meds work for some people, and not for others; or why they work great for some and barely work for others; or they work in combination with other meds for some, but not for others.

Hell... some meds can work great for one persons neuropathic issues or nausea, and the next person can have a paradoxical effect and those meds make the problem worse. I've had that happen with several different meds over the past 15 years.   

So, you end up cycling through various medications, and cycling up and down dosages, and cycling in and out of combinations of different meds; hoping that this one or that one will work for you, or this or that combination or dosage will work etc... etc... 

It can be maddening... sometimes literally, because of the side effects.... but it's so absurd, I can't help but find it funny. 

Three of those eight medications, I take to treat moderate to intermittently severe cancer and cancer treatment related nausea. For whatever reason, most nausea meds, are also antipsychotic meds, or from the reverse perspective many anti-psychotics are also effective for some or most people at reducing nausea. We have no idea why. 

Two of them are to treat a combination of both ADHD, and severe fatigue, and sleep dysfunction. We don't know why or how one of those meds works either, except that it seems to temporarily suppress the brains fatigue response. Both also tend to reduce depression and anxiety in some people (and paradoxically increase them in some others). 

The other three, are all for neuropathic pain and other nerve damage related symptoms... and again we don't know why, but a lot of antidepressant or antipsychotic drugs, are also effective for SOME people to SOME degree, in treating neuropathic pain and associated issues. For some folks they work completely, for others they barely work at all, or they work in combination but not singly, and we have almost no idea how or why.

Reading that, a lot of people will have the instinctive response "no, bad, wrong, the problem is all those medications, you should stop taking all of them and just do XYZ"... whatever they thing XYZ may be.

No.

I've been going through this for 15 years now... I've done all the experimenting and testing with my body and what goes into it, and where I'm at right now, if I remove or reduce any of my meds, it makes things worse. Sometimes MUCH worse. Sometimes INTOLERABLY worse. 

I HAVE done the "stop everything and start over" thing, a couple times now; all under doctors supervision, because the docs were concerned about the number and dosage of my meds and their interactions as well. It resulted in me being completely non-functional, or almost killed me, each time. 

It's not like my docs and I haven't thought of this, and tried, and tested it... and it's not like my doctors are trying to pump me full of medications I don't need. Every single one of my docs is trying to MINIMIZE the medications and dosages I take... and this is the minimum right now.

... In fact, it's below minimum on a couple of them, because one of my docs is TERRIFIED of how screwed up my system is, and how high my dosages have to be just to work (I literally take what should be a lethal overdose of a couple of my meds, and they just barely work at those dosage levels) and is erring on the side of caution as we slowly and incrementally bump the dosages up every few months, as she sees the lower dosages aren't doing enough... 

Oh, and before someone chimes in with "just smoke weed"/"just use thc/cbd edibles"/"just take cbd"... I've tried. Not only do they not help even with my nausea, they actually make the nausea worse. They work great for some people... I'm not one of those people. 

Once the cancer is knocked down a lot, then I will be able to drop dosages on some meds, and likely drop some entirely. It's what happened each of the last four times. 

What you've got to understand, is that cancer... particularly endocrine cancer...  is a systemic disease. It causes every part of your body to malfunction and every system to dysfunction... and you have to manage that, or those malfunctions and dysfunctions can and WILL kill you. 

...In fact, it's very rarely the cancer itself that kills you directly, its the combination of all the other issues the cancer causes, simply overwhelming  your bodies ability to function.

That said... I am certainly looking forward to the day I can stop taking about half of the meds I currently take... which I will be able to, if this time is like the last four times Ive been through this. Within a few months of the cancer going into remission or being removed, I was able to drop MOST of my meds. 

... Not all by any means though... Since some of my meds aren't for the cancer and side effects (ADHD, inflammation and arthritis, some of the nerve issues), and the cancer itself has done some permanent damage, requiring medication for the rest of my life (thyroid meds for example, and some of the nerve meds). 

All of which together is why I say, how can this NOT be funny? It's so completely absurd, its barely believable... and in fact my docs often DON'T believe it until they see it themselves. They don't believe the tests, or the past records because "that can't possibly be right... you'd be dead... you shouldn't be able to walk, or stay conscious, or your heart or brain should have failed already". 

... Yup... 

If that aint frikken hilarious, what the hell is? 

Monday, December 27, 2021

the Dubious Distinction of Being First?

So, what exactly was the first "cyberattack"?  Of course as with any complicated question the answer is "it depends"... it depends on definitions, and context, and a heck of a lot of other things. Code attacks go back to prehistory. Cryptoattacks to the beginning of cryptosystems, shortly after the beginning or writing and the digital representation of math... But cyberattack in particular has a specific implication of it being a technological attack on information security, specifically exploiting the technology in question.

Again, there is no single definitive answer, but there is a very good candidate... if I were marking test questions on an exam, and a student came up either this answer, I'd give them full credit. 

The Blanc Brothers heliograph/semaphore/optical telegraph (it depends on which source you read it from) market manipulation fraud, is actually a pretty good candidate for the first cyberattack. It may be the first exploitation of an explicitly technology based race condition for commercial fraud.  Also the first exploitation of out of band/admin/side channel vulnerabilities, metadata, and steganography, in a technological system, for commercial fraud. That was appx. 1830-1834 (again some sources differ as to the exact dates). These links have a layman's explanation followed by a great deal of technical detail about it. It's really a fascinating story. 







Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The trouble with Citrix

It  looks for all the world like Citrix... One of the more important technology and services companies of the last 25 years...  is in the middle of imploding...

... As many have expected would happen for quite a long time now...

...Not with a bang, but with several extended half hearted whimpers; a lot of corporate doublespeak, and a lot of very angry and disappointed people.

I  still have a fair few friends working at Citrix... good people all of them, who for some reason had faith that the companies management couldn't possibly stay that bad and that dumb for that long, and somehow they'd reverse course. 

They've been trying for years now, to get management to put REAL effort and support and investment and energy (For more than a couple quarters without reversing course or redirecting or "refocusing" or otherwise making it impossible not to fail) into the remaining useful and long term viable core technologies and solution sets; and into the interesting side developments with potential to become viable core, or substantial secondary or peripheral technologies, products, and solution sets...

...Critical things, that so many good folks have tried to make happen, and tried to make work,, and done their best to patch up around and make things work anyway when they didn't happen... for the last 10-15 years....

And of course, by far most importantly: they have tried their mightiest and best, to get management to invest in, develop, and fully support; all the PEOPLE absolutely necessary to make those technologies, and products, and solution sets; viable, and then successful,, in the marketplace. 

The people to support enterprise sales, and to develop, implement, and support enterprise solutions; to be useful, successful, and EASY to integrate into the operations of every organization; across the breadth of the multi plarform, multi-environment, mixed local and remote, mixed physical.and virtual; mixed on prem, and hybrid cloud, and public cloud, and managed service, and infrastructure and software as a service environments... And every other possible environment and technology, and sector, and solution set... 

Which is the only way that those technologies and products and solution sets... and Citrix as a technology and services company...  can compete and be viable in that marketplace

The people, and the services they provide, that should be Citrixes REAL core business, and biggest source of revenue, and profit.

...But thats not happened so far... and Probably won't in the near future...

In fact... rather the opposite Is happening right now... and has been happening for... way too damn long now. 

Ok...this is going to be a long one, because it needs to be, to illustrate the totality of the... it's not a failure as such, as it is just a total abandonment by management of an entire business, because they didn't know when they needed to change, and how they needed to change when they did... And just couldn't be bothered...

... The problem with Citrix...

A lot of folks have made sage pronouncements about Citrix like "Oh they stopped innovating, and once tech companies stop innovating they're done for"... which...yeah it's generally true, but it doesn't really capture the scope, breath, and depth of the issue...

Citrix didn't just stop innovating... Their business model stopped being viable; because the core technical and business operational functions their products and solution sets  performed for their customers; either became no longer necessary or relevant; or they were eventually wrapped into the base functionality of the platforms and systems they used to provide those functions for. 

Virtualization, remote access, published virtual desktops, and published virtualize applications; are now all included for free or very low cost, in every commercial server operating system or hyperion platform. 

Virtualization, remote access, published virtual desktops, and published virtualized applications; are now all included for free or very low cost, in every commercial and most free  server operating systems, and in every hypervisor platform (again, whether commercial or free); with enterprise class support commonly available at relatively reasonable premiums. 

...Sure, Citrix generally provides a lot of additional functionality... usually in the area of enterprise management and support features, and actual enterprise support... that the stuff the other companies are giving away for free does not (or only does so in a more limited way)... But citrix ain't cheap, and it's awfully hard to compete as "expensive, but somewhat better" against "it's free and it works"... Especially when the product has become less and less "better" over time...

...And frankly... Citrix as an entity, and their core management, have really never dealt with this fact, never mind managing to find or invent a new business model for themselves... They're STILL trying to sell at a hefty premium, what everyone else is giving away for free... 

...and in fact which they ALSO give away for free, in a somewhat decontented, and of course entirely unsupported form... With the message that "you already have the skills and knowledge and configurations ND tools to manage our stuff in your enterprise... why would you risk changing?"... A message that... Let's just say hasn't notably worked out for them so far.

Then, instead of figuring out a new way for a new business model to work, with the technology and people and intelligence to back it; Citrix management just tried to kinda tweak the old model, and announce BIG BOLD NEW things, that really weren't... They were just the old things repackaged and relabled and rejiggeed to sort of do something different from how they did it before, or to sort of replicate some other companies or some other platforms functionality... "Now in that good old citrix color and flavor you love" Never mind trying to actually do something new, or better, or otherwise provide some kind of actual competitive advantage and reason to chose their solution over others..

Then, instead of figuring out a new way for a new business model to work, with the technology and people and intelligence to back it; Citrix management  just tried to kinda tweak the old model, and announce BIG BOLD NEW things, that really weren't... They were just the old things repackaged and relabled and rejiggeed to sort of do something different from how they did it before, or to sort of replicate some other companies or some other platforms functionality... "Now in that good old citrix color and flavor you love" Never mind trying to actually do something new, or better, or otherwise provide some kind of actual competitive advantage and reason to chose their solution over others.. 

And just like they sorta kinda copied other vendors products and solutions... because "hey, the other guy is selling them pretty well,, we should be able to too right?"... they sorta kinda tried to  copy the business models of SEVERAL other vendors...including multiple times trying to execute on multiple contradictory and mutually exclusive models all at once...

...Really...At least from the outside anyway... It seems like management just sort of closed their eyes,, crossed their fingers and pointed their heads down; and hoped that their (once huge but now rapidly and continually shrinking) legacy installed base and relationships... and basically, inertia...would carry them through...

Then, even once it was completely impossible to not know that idea... which could never have worked to begin with...  was inevitably and unalterably failing; they continied to ignore reality, and pretend otherwise. Because exec bonuses maybe? Can't think of any other possible reason, unless those supposedly smart and successful people really CAN be that dumb, and that blind, for that long...

How bad is it, and how do I know it's that bad?.

I have spent almost the entirety of the last 25ish years, working variously as a Citrix customer, partner, or otherwise a contractor or consultant...

...Specifically in roles as presales, post sales, internal, and independent outside:

-- Solutions architect, solutions delivery team leader, and customer success team technical manager.

-- Infrastructure architect and operations manager (traditional on prem, mixed on prem and third party co-location; utility compute and high reliability exascale HPC and OLTP, on prem, distributed, and hybrid; hyperconverged, on prem, distributed, and hybrid; hybrid cloud, full private cloud, and full public cloud... In traditional, DevOps, MSP, and every other kind of operational concept).

-- Service delivery architect and operations manager (including traditional, devops, MSP, and every other kind of perational concept)

-- Information security architect and operations manager (traditional, devsecops, and otherwise); assessor, and auditor.

-- Policy Process and Audit, and Governance and Regulatory Compliance; architect, manager, assessor, and auditor.

-- Disaster prearedness and recovery, business continuity, emergency response, and incident response; architect, operations manager, tactical/emergency/response team, leader/coordinator; investigator and forensic analyst; and mitigation and return to operations coordinator/team leader. 

... And I'm going into way too much detail and way too deep inside baseball, for a specific reason that I will get to in a minute...

...Almost all of these in high risk, highly regulated environemnts, including government, defense, medical and pharmaceutical, and financial; sectors, and legal and regulatory regimes and frameworks

I said all of that, to make it absolutely clear just how badly, and at what scale Citrix have failed in... basically everything they should have been doing for the last decade or more really.

Because, since 2009, in all of the roles I have mentioned above... 

...All areas where prior to about 2005-2009ish Citrix had dominant market positions.

And they had those dominant market positions, in large part, because although they may not have had the best or the ideal technology or implementation out of the box; they had in house (and local regional in every region, including specialists for different markets and industries or sectors, and specialists for unique technical, operational, or legal/regulatory requirements) solutions and subject matter experts, and pre and post sales team support, including implementation and customer validation/UAT support before handing over to a sustaining engineering and support function; and real enterprise customer support from the help desk on up to real support engineers and sustaining engineers; who understood all of the above, and could be counted on to make things work, and solve problems with the customer, or reseller, or end user etc...

You had to pay fairly dearly for it.. But it when you did, at that time, it was worth it. They gave good value, and they made it work, often when others could not. 

Hell.. prior to 2001, all of those markets I mentioned above... all very particular and challenging spaces to compete in... were just THEIRS period. Or at least they were if you had to deal at all with Windows or cross platform, cross environment, remote or published resources, in interactive graphical sessions... which almost every big company and a hell of a lot of small and medium sized companies did... and still do... to some extent or another. 

... But since between 2005 and 2009... almost 17 years at the outside, and almost 13 years at the least... 

...and across all those roles and environments and segments etc... All of which are core mission spaces for Citrix, and critical to the future of any company wanting to operate therein...

I have only seen TWO actual  completely new, de novo blue sky, major implementations of core Citrix solution sets, in critical and core operational functions for the organizations in question.

Two... Yes, really... TWO...

In EVERY OTHER CASE... and we're talking hundreds of clients and customers and partners and employers; across thousands of sites... any growth in Citrix installed base in those organizations was essentially by default, or forced, or something they settled for because of mass and inertia and long term contracts; or was otherwise just something they had to accept, because for whatever reason, they had no other viable option, or any other option was just too difficult or not worth the effort etc...

In almost all cases they were either already in the process of getting rid of Citrix as much as they could (and often already working AROUND their existing Citrix solutions footprint);  investigating the idea and what it would take to move to an alternative; or doing competitive evoluations of alternatives; or at the very least they WANTED to stop depending on Citrix solutions; just that for whatever reason they were stuck for now, and once they could, they'd be replacing or just removing Citrix as soon as it was practical to do so.

And dozens of them did... They either completely ripped Citrix out of their operations entirely, or they reduced them to minimal footprints, of things they absolutely couldn't get rid of or get a viable alternative for... and only until that limitation changed. 

A lot of them TRIED to expand their Citrix solutions footprint...  lot of them actually DID... AND AS I said there were exactly TWO large enterprise customers, with actual brand new, didn't have at least a moderately significant relationship with Citrix before,  major core functionality solutions sets; purchased, architected, implemented, and put into operation...

...And both of them had projects to minimize dependency on Citrix, or rip and replace them completely, within two years of handover on these multi year, mulmillion dollar evaluation, architecture, implementation, and testing projects....

I saw seat counts for existing or replacement products/solutions grow, and expansions to existing products and side products piggyback off them... Almost always in organizations with major enterprise licensing and discount agreements and large longstanding preexisting Citrix footprints... 

And occasionally, though rarely, I'd  see new implementations of small solutions and systems... a few systems, with a few seats, for one or two products... Not major critical or core operations, or just for one or a couple  critical but segmented off things, that were effectively one offs and exceptions, and Citrix was either the enterprise default solution, or for some reason it was either the cheapest solution (again usually an enterprise license agreement), or it was the only solution that supported a specific oddball edge case technology, product, configuration, process etc... 

But that was it... It was as if they were running in place.... Or worse, running backwards...
Suee, they still had a lot of legacy customers... Whether it was because the customers had a huge installed base already and couldn't  afford the license costs, training costs, support costs, down time etc...to move off of Citrix. Or they had specific contractual, legal, regulatory, supportability, or edge case technical  requirements that prevented them. Or for whatever reason there simply wasn't any viable option to not use Citrix...

...In every single case, none of them wanted to be dependent on Citrix anymore, and most didn't want to use any Citrix solutions period...

Why did they not want to use Citrix anymore, after years... sometimes decades... of relying on them?

Mostly, it was because for the last decade or more, the experience of having to rely on Citrix, became more and more unpleasant for them... and less and less reasonable, supportable, viable, or even tolerable. 

Sometimes, the product or solution was literally permanently and unfixably broken and they couldnt use it and had to buy or build and implement workarounds, or entire alternate systems.

 Sometimes it became a bodge job of just barely functional barely supportable chewing gum and baling wire, but they couldn't make anything else work. 

Sometimes  licensing had become so stupid and harmful that they couldn't or wouldn't pay for it anymore.

Sometimes It was because the previously excellent support for weird solutions, edge cases,, unique environmwnts and requirements etc... disappeared, and they were replaced with offshore script readers and box checkers... 

Whatever it was, over the past more than a few years,, there have been myriads of compelling reasons to NOT use Citrix, and not very many good reasons to do so. 

...And then, they just stopped even pretending to try to have a viable plan or technology moving forward, and for some indecipherable reason,, decided to lean into the fact that they were now IBM from the 70s, after cannibalizing their own channel and their own customers, they were just going to try to minimize costs and roll those existing customer seat counts and license revenues up year to year...

...And that's kinda the ballgame in this industry folks...

That doesn't mean there aren't still plenty of good people hanging on...  But that doesn't matter anymore ubfortunately... sadly... 

Because a company with no business model; few relevant products they can actually sell into relevant markets, and operationally support for relevant customers requirements;  and few, or zero, core technological, functional, operational, financial, or otherwise in any way compelling reasons, for any potential customer to select that companies products, solutions, and services, over those of any other vendor... 

...Except perhaps by inertia, edge exception, or ignorance of other options... 

...They aren't really a technology company anymore... They're just a contract servicer, cutting whatever costs they conceivably can, without impeding what is really the only meaningfully functioning part of the business: collecting whatever "dead money" revenues they can from their existing contracts and customer base, for as long as they can; making their quarterly earnings per share appear to be as high as they can plausibly make them appear... 

Thus, "executive management" can squeeze the most possible cash compensation for themselves out of this one time great company; before finally breaking up the rusting hulk, to extract any last pennies of value, from whatever bits and pieces anyone might offer any money for; of the remains of what used to be Citrix.