Monthly Archives: March 2017

Pre-need Obits Writer: A Dead end job

 So glad I turned-down this gig. Turns out that turning over a new leaf way back then turned up some better offers. Hey I coulda turned into a hack, but I caught myself, turned around and never looked back.
Yeah, something wrong with a deal where they pay you 2 cents a word to write it, then throw in an extra hundred bucks when the fellow croaks and they finally run the thing.
‘Customers worth more dead than alive’ much?
Plus I’m still smarting from a dumb sale I once did. Needing money to buy my first house, I sold a Norman Rockwell lithograph for 800 bucks. On the day before he suddenly went on to his reward! Prices for his work tripled that week, even before I deposited my check. Yeah ‘worth more dead than alive’.
Thought about all this when I read the headline:

Shute shoot-out Upshot: No ‘Grief on the Reef’ theme park approval anytime soon: Maze badly shot up, his ‘Oral on the Coral’ wet-dream shot down..for now!’

Love how ‘yellow journalism‘ somehow maintains its ‘colorfast’ laundry-resilience even as man washes out the unique palette of radiant hues in this one-of-a-kind Natural Wonder.
Turns out (sorry) that writer Nevelyn Shute‘s  (yes, ‘daughter-of’) biting op-ed in an Australian daily, entitled ‘On the Bleach…‘ angered local loco extravagonzo-entrepreneur Willy Maze exceedingly. To the point of smoking guns at a press conference called to launch her follow-up tell-all. Mr. Maze, having quietly but nefariously weathered the labyrinth of regulatory-process in advance of building an environmentally-questionable tourist attraction at the Great Barrier Reef, was known to the authorities, who hastened to pre-place security ‘assets’ at the widely-publicized venue.

Inevitably, ‘shots rang out‘ not ten minutes into the affair. Ms Shute luckily emerged un-scathed, (but noticeably a ‘Whiter shade of Pale‘), cameras and once-sound equipment were rendered ‘inoperable’, and, in the words of a terse Police report, ‘The subject, a Mr. Maze, was ‘incapacitated’  Yup, bullet holes kinda do that. Alive enough to appear in Court some day, yet ‘Dead’ enough to ‘get the message.
Just a shame I hadn’t gotten to his Obit in the list. Perhaps someone I claim not to know in the hospital ER might, you know, decide that life-support is more important for coral reefs than for this money-grubbing pervert.
I’ll donate the hundred bucks to Science, with interest.

Sixty-five-oh-two, I’m in love with you!!

Blake was right, and I dearly wish that bloke had lived on my block here on Bleak Street; we could have built stand-alone micro-processor boards together.
” To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.”
Ok, more like ‘Heaven in a wafer of silicon, and triumphant Logic in a millisecond’ (Depending on clock-speed)
First off, in this Kiss and Tell post, this ‘My Romance with the Mostek 6502 CPU’ best-seller, I need to profusely thank…
The indomitable Duncan SWH, for jolting me into remembering how much I’ve always (and always shall until cosmic volt-less-ness do us part) love this 40-pin love-of-my-life.
We Jews quote ‘If I forget thee, Jerusalem, may my right hand lose its craft’. A simple substitution is equally apt here: ‘May my soldering iron lose its point.’
And further on the religious theme,; to my mind there are only two choices:
1) Either he knowingly understood that I needed this impetus to refresh my past prowess.. Or
2) He is in fact an Agent of Cosmic Right Mind, a conduit for Good in ways which ‘passeth His understanding’.
Like, um.. Jesus, finding himself riding/ slouching into Jerusalem, and muttering: ‘WTF!, I’m on a donkey?! I hate donkeys! And though this would not be the first time my be-burro-ed buddy has inspired me, I none-the-less lift eyes skyward to decide between the above possibilities. A challenge F-Stop Fitzgerald aptly described as:
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

  Indeed, my spiritual journey in Life kinda started that cold long-ago morning when I finally, after a good year of failed lonely trials, coaxed an actual 6502 into reading my primitive-test machine-language routine from the lashed-up EPROM and displaying the digits from 0 to 9 on the previously-tauntingly-silent seven-segment display I’d ‘built for her.
Let’s pause a second and analyze the innocent pronoun ‘her’. ok?
If there were ever in human history an electronics-metaphor more evocative of a woman who, after way too many months of thoughtful, respectful attention finally, one fine day, decides that ‘Yes, I said yes, as well him as any other’ (James Joyce, if anyone cares), well (where were we?) um… it’s the moment when you realize you have a Digital Lover awaiting your every instructions. Ninety-plus 8-bit commands: Increment, Decrement, Compare, Add, Roll right, Roll left, Put your lips around my.. Ok, I made that one up, but not completely far-fetched.
Since this is intended as a substantive content-rich post, let’s quickly take a look under the hood: Glance at the much-truncated Guide below. Insufficient to actually get her up and running, but, one hopes, at least somewhat informative. Might get you a first date at least, but you’re on your own after that.

6502 instructions big
Ok, now that you’ve been fore-warned. Here’s a song I wrote a while ago. After enduring one too many eye-roll-inspiring endorsements from proud Moms about their ‘genius’ kid who ‘Works with a computer!’ Me having designed and built the f*cking things chip by hand-wired chip. And also discovering that their ‘idiot-savants’ mainly wheel-horsed the store-bought computers from the loading dock to the display shelves. Really! And what about the endless hours I spent trying to understand the ‘innards’ of the supposedly-logical real-women described above. Enjoy. The ‘geniuses’ have ‘digital examinations scheduled, and my condolences.

He Works with a Computer!
We work for fifty cents a day, building a house, some/
Some joker makin’ 90K playing with a mouse, While we’re/
diggin’ in the dirt, tryin’ to catch a worm, he’s making
Seven and a quarter on a Medium Term…

He works with a computer! (Awesome!) That’s where the money is/
Used to be a Loser… Now he’s a genius. (not!) Jerk with a com- /
Puter, (“Don’t try to take it apart!”)

He’s selecting from the Menu, we’re sinking in the mud/
I can’t believe it, can you? If he’s a Thinker, I’m a Spud, well it’s/
Two bits, four bits, eight bits, a dollar, he’s a/
Little bean-counter but at least he’s White collar…./

And he’s got a secret password.. (“Oh wow! Probably his birthday..)
He’s got a secret Password (Yeah, we could look that up, probably the default setting!”)
He’s looking at the Menu… (From this he makes a living?)
Can’t believe it, can you? (He’s been doin’ it since Thanksgiving…)

Get your Motorola running… Head out on the Bus…
We’re going computer hunting….
Sixty-five-oh-two, I’m in love with you…

Well it’s a discount chip, immitation leather, but/
I can take it all apart, and put it back together, my
Little bean-counter’s still havin’ all the fun, but he’s
Going for a Digital Examination….

He thinks it’s done with computers… That’s where the funny is/
He’ll be crying on the inside.. (Nah, he doesn’t have any ‘inside’)
He’ll forget his secret password.. (What was my password, “**big_shot**?) (Yeah, “B” “I” “H”… I can never remember that) (Try again later..) (I can’t sit down!)


Factory Specs:/ Presidents/ Mean Time Between Failure

  Yes, you are quite right; I don’t like to buy anything without some data on what percentage of the components will be duds, either right out of the box or at some point during their ‘useful life’.
Luckily (?) I’ve worked with electronics, starting with Tubes in the early 50s, thence through primitive transistors, integrated -circuits (ICs) and onward in the parade of ‘LSI’ (large-scale integration) and of course, VLSI, and what they now probably call ‘USIC’ (‘Unbelievable-scale integrated circuits. A garden-variety chip in the 70s, the TTL 74154, (pictured below) took a 4-bit inputted digital signal and routed the ‘message to ‘1-of-16’ output lines. And you learned to trust it, like I trust my Subaru every morning. The manufacturer, when pressed, did furnish data on fail-rates, but the percentages were low enough to be almost ignorable. A 50 cent IC; plus in those days, with a digital logic probe you could pin down ‘dead or alive’ within minutes. Aside: one could make a case that the real progress since ENIAC has been as much ‘reliability’ as it has ‘speed’. Everyone’s heard of the technicians running back and forth in the ‘Computer Room’ replacing dead or dying vacuum tubes like Charlie Chaplin (Lucille Ball?) in an over-worked factory moving belt. The only up-side might be that a non-functioning tube is often either blue (gassy) or cold (failed cathode Heater), thus making a dud easier to spot.

Ok, thanks for enduring the preamble! I’m sure you guessed that there’s a punch-line in here somewhere, like Reagan’s storied kid shoveling horse-shit and chanting ‘There’s got to be a pony in here somewhere! :

The Question: ‘This was bound to happen at some point? Y/N?’
Watching the ludicrously-unfit clown temporarily cruising the White House hallways in his pajamas, a veteran citizen like me (and a student of historical oddities) can’t help but wonder whether the Law of Averages, of ‘MTBF’ somehow foretold this aberration.
Ok, a bit of data: I’ve lived through twelve presidential regiemes. In the interest of brevity, I’ll suffice with a sadly-short comment on each:
Harry S. Truman, 1945-1953 Dropped the Bomb. Ma & Pa happy for war’s-end. short on explanatory details to a toddler.
Dwight David Eisenhower, 1953-1961 My first real ‘President’. Could do no wrong, as befitting his exalted status
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1961-1963 First Guy you could actually relate to as a human. Died too young
Lyndon Baines Johnson, 1963-1969 Hard to forgive him. Wife didn’t speak French. Equal Rights, ‘cept for gooks in ‘Nam
Richard Milhous Nixon, 1969-1974 Anyone seriously warmed up to this guy? Good riddance. Even ‘Checkers’ peed on his foot.
Gerald Rudolph Ford, 1974-1977 First prez they made fun of on TV. A sweet placeholder, none-the-less.
James Earl Carter, Jr., 1977-1981 Christian, virtuous, really tried to do the right thing. An unlucky peanut-guy. Oil crisis.
Ronald Wilson Reagan, 1981-1989 Geezuz, an ‘actor?! Got more credit than he deserved. My Dad mistook him for Will Rodgers?
George Herbert Walker Bush, 1989-1993 Hated him on sight, but what ya gonna do? Sada’am was even shittier.
William Jefferson Clinton, 1993-2001 Finally, a guy my age. Loved him start to finish. Big heart, big brain.
George Walker Bush, 2001-2009 Is this the best we deserve? No one’s intellectual ideal. Maybe saved by competent staff.
Barack Hussein Obama, 2009-2017 Tears of joy through two innaugarations. Showed the nation what intransigent curs inhabit the GOP. Elegance.

Ok, admittedly, about as superficial an assessment as imaginable. Yet none of the above even began to prepare the Nation for what awaited it in 2016. What the IC-makers would call ‘catastrophic failure’.
And to return, like any thoughtful post, to the opening content/preamble, the current ‘DUD’ is, metaphorically, a SN74154 chip (called colloquially here in Israel a ‘Jook’ (cockroach) which does nothing more than waste the board-space/ real estate it takes up. We’d be better off, electronically, sticking an actual dead cockroach into the plastic pin-socket.
Going further into the details of this particular logic-element/ integrated-circuit metaphor: Let’s posit a need for a top-level decision. Four ‘digital-lines’ need to be queried:
1) Head of the National Security Council
2) Secretary of State
3) Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
and 4) Whoever currently has cred and clout in the Intelligence Community
Our trusty Texas Instruments/ Fairchild/ whoever/ 74154 takes the ‘votes’ of the presumably-seasoned experts, and ‘outputs’ a ‘one-of-sixteen’ decision…
That is: assuming that the Clockwork Orange we’ve engineered is not, as at present, rotten to the core.
So, what to do? Pull the chip, plug in a fresh replacement, and be happy ever after. Absorb the sad eventuality that after 44 Presidents of the United States of America (Ok, leave out Andrew Johnson) it was bound to happen at some point.
I’ll conclude, though with a depressing thought. This un-fathomable anomaly was not a random result of ‘shit-happens’ manufacturing glitches. No, it was the direct and predictable result of a systemic cancer in the US electorate; the ‘assembly line’, where millions of illiterate, racist, sexist bottom-feeders ‘doped’ the Silicon wafer into an ‘un-defined’ quantum state where Schrodinger, Planck, Pauli, Dirac, Heisenberg. and even Feynman give up on any equations and go out to lunch, no ‘be right back’ time mentioned.
And leave us with a circuit board outputting GIGO ‘garbage-in/garbage-out’.
I’m calling on Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, for a smash-a-thon. Couldn’t get worse than the current Failure.

‘Jesus Loves the little Children’ Right?

 I’ll not assume that everyone knows this Bible-school ditty. But be re-assured that the additional lyrics can be easily sung to the same tune. I owe it to myself, or to the children of the world, to prove that. shortly.

Ok, the question is whether to quickly post a poem (in this case 30 minutes old), just for the ‘Immediacy’ The down-side, of course, is that one hasn’t taken the time to analyze the intent and import.
But having barely 3 or 4 Readers has its virtues: I can apologize individually if need be.
This ‘creation’ is indeed dark and almost venomous. I think it clever. Tonight, at least.

The original:

‘Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the World
Red and yellow, black or white
They’re all precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the World.

And Today:

Jeezuz! What’s with all these children?!
Seven billion, mebbe more…
While I’m on a short vacation
They do over-population
What to do with all the children of the World?

God, he set a great example:
Thoughtful; (I’m an only child!)
But the mortals mate like fleas
Kids are hanging from the trees
Gotta cull some little children of the World?

Yeah, let’s start with, say, Albinos?
Less than half of one per cent?
But they’re cutest when they’re young
Who can pick out one among…
All the nasty little children of the World?

‘Listen:’, Dad sez on His cell-phone:
‘C’est la vie’, (He speaketh French?!)
“Suffer all the little buggers,
the delinquints and the muggers
Though deluded, they be ‘Children of the World’.

‘Times Hath Changed’, I SMS Him
No more ‘Father Knoweth Best’
WTF? Our only planet:
Now the kids out-weigh the granite(!)
I’ll take care of all the Children of the World(!)

Four Grim Horsemen in their saddles
Wait for a signal from The Son
‘Thought I’d save ’em for the End’
But, y’know, ya can’t depend…
On today’s ‘entitled’ Children of the World

Final Solution:

Jeezuz! Love dat pair of Children!
Two tots chosen to survive…
Eyes are blue, and skins are peach
Male and Female, one of each
‘In My image’, yeah, the Children of the World