Chaos in the Capitol

In most of the other Presidential elections of my lifetime, the Congressional certification of the Electoral College vote count is a non-event. Like just about everything else lately, though, there was nothing routine about it this time around.

Among many other outlets, CNN reported on all hell breaking loose as protests over the certification of the vote totals turned into riots and protesters breaching the walls of the Capitol building. It got so bad that the mayor of Washington, DC, instituted a 6 p.m. curfew in an attempt to quash the remaining violence. Eventually, Congress was able to get back to work and certify the vote as originally planned.

Honestly, I’m still in shock over seeing and hearing what I saw on the news broadcasts. This is the United States of America and we aren’t supposed to have this kind of hooliganism over election results here. Over in Eastern Europe, parts of the former USSR, the Middle East, parts of Africa, sure… but not here. Not in the country born in 1776, known for its stability and enduring democracy.

All I know is that this riot, this attack on our democracy by domestic terrorists, would never have happened if the outgoing president were someone like Mitt Romney or even Ted Cruz. I really didn’t like any of the Republican candidates, but I could have lived with someone that had some experience, some qualifications, and some intelligence. Someone with the decency to not try to treat running the government like a reality TV show. Someone that’s not a de facto anthropomorphic pig, that doesn’t break laws like the one prohibiting treason the way some people commit minor traffic violations.

Even for this last election, Joe Biden was not my first choice, as I’ve said before. But he at least has a sense of decency and given some of the many gaffes by our outgoing occupier of the White House, I really believe there is nowhere to go but up. And I really think it’s time for Donald Trump to make the transition from “commander”-in-chief to defendant-in-chief, and start answering to some of the many insane and odiously egregious violations of the law over the past four years. I’m disgusted and horrified that there’s a small chance he may never have to face the music.

The “impeachment” trial still disgusts me. I knew we were in trouble when “Senator” Mitch McConnell, whom I refer to as Yertle the Turtle, refused to allow any of the evidence to be presented. How can you have a meaningful trial without any evidence? It’s absolutely preposterous!

I think it’s time to impeach Donald Trump again, now that we have seen just how dangerous he can be. Maybe this time we can get a conviction. I know it’s mostly symbolic, but we need this for the record, just to repudiate his “presidency” once and for all.

At least Richard Nixon had the decency to resign when it became obvious what was about to happen. If we don’t impeach Donald Trump, he will leave the office feeling as though he is above the law. That’s unacceptable to me and no doubt many other people as well.

The latest chapter in Apple stupidity: the charger shell game

As Daring Fireball recently reported, Apple has done it again with their gratuitous incompatibility. In a nutshell, Apple has released a 20W charger that looks like a previous 18W charger, and a 30W charger that looks like a previous 29W charger. You would think that one or two watts would not make a difference. Well, this being Apple we are talking about, it turns out there’s a lot more to it than that.

From the article:

If you don’t know a little about how AC adapters work, it might seem crazy that the difference between an 18W charger and 20W charger could be significant. If you think it’s all about wattage, they sound so similar — how could 2 watts make a difference? And Apple’s own 20W charger (that they started selling this year, and which is included with the HomePod Mini) looks identical to Apple’s previous 18W charger (which was included with some iPads and the iPhones 11 Pro). The only way to tell Apple’s new 20W charger apart from their old 18W charger is to look at the hard-to-read small print (light gray text on a white background, a veritable crime against accessibility). And even when you read the small print, you have to know that Apple’s 20W chargers say “20W” on them and their 18W chargers aren’t labeled with a wattage. Seriously, Apple’s 18W charger doesn’t say “18W” — the only way to know it’s an 18W charger is to examine the even-harder-to-read smallest-of-small print and know that it’s stated maximum output of “9V × 2A” is 18W. (Their 20W charger is 9V × 2.2A, so it’s really a 19.8W charger.)

So the chargers look alike, and you have to literally read the fine print to be able to tell them apart, and know a little bit about Apple’s product releases and maybe Ohm’s Law on top of that. Yeah, good move, Apple. But wait, there’s more; our intrepid hero John Gruber got bit by another case of look-alike chargers, this time involving the Magic Keyboard:

Turns out Apple’s 29W USB-C adapter is weird and limited. It only outputs two configurations: 14.5V × 2A = 29W (the maximum), or 5.2V × 2.4A = 12.48W.1 The iPad Magic Keyboard accepts for high-power input 9V × 3A = 27W, but Apple’s 29W adapter can’t supply that. Apple’s 30W USB-C adapter, on the other hand, supplies a slew of output options:

  • 20V × 1.5A = 30W
  • 15V × 2A = 30W
  • 9V × 3A = 27W (bingo for the Magic Keyboard)
  • 5V × 3A = 15W

It’s actually more than the wattage in play here, it’s the exact voltage levels that the charger can supply. John doesn’t say it but I’m guessing this is either undocumented or at the very least requires some detective work to figure out.

And people still wonder why I don’t buy Apple products. I mean, if you go into the archives, there’s more to it than that, but it’s another reason to add to a growing list.

Has the FDA lost its %^$#*@ mind?!

If this doesn’t make your blood boil, I’m not sure what will. Reason recently reported on an absolutely bizarre and insane action by the FDA, going back to the very beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At that time the nation’s hand sanitizer manufacturing capability was stretched to the limit, resulting in frequent out-of-stock conditions as well as stores having to limit quantities when replenishments were finally available. Many small distilleries which normally produce the potable varieties of alcohol, decided to switch over to making hand sanitizer to help fill in the gap.

Well, no good deed goes unpunished. The FDA has levied these distilleries with a five-figure fee ($14,060 if you want to be exact) normally reserved for much larger pharmaceutical and manufacturing companies. To those companies, this kind of fee is a rounding error in budgets of millions. To a small craft distillery, though? Another $14,060 out of pocket in a year where sales have already been hit hard is potentially devastating.

I get that the FDA plays an important role in public safety. However, this is an unprecedented global health emergency we are talking about. I’m absolutely outraged that this is what some boneheads at the FDA have decided to do: levy rubber-stamp and cookie-cutter fees to small business ill-equipped to pay them, ignoring the reality of the health emergency before us.

Happy holidays, and the reasoning behind my use of the phrase

I meant to post this earlier, but happy holidays to everyone. In lieu of writing a new post, I am linking to prior posts where I explain the logic behind why I use this as my phrase of well wishes during the season:

Like a lot of people, I cannot wait to put an end to 2020 as well. Here is also wishing that this year’s televised New Year’s celebrations have no horrible blunders.

Twelve years ago today…

…was my very first post to this blog (okay, if you insist, here’s the first post of real substance right after it), back when it was just my personal blog and hadn’t yet been focused on weird, outrageous news, legal/justice stories, technological follies, and the other things that have since made it Rant Roulette.

Somehow, some way, I have consistently missed the anniversary of the very first posts (I always remember it’s sometime December but have had an uncanny habit of missing the day). I had wanted to do a retrospective for the 10th anniversary, but of course I completely whiffed on it. It seems like such a long time ago, and I realize I haven’t been posting here as much as I’d like to. Maybe it’s because my videogame and pinball adventures have been a more interesting topic to blog about, even if most of the time they are summaries of the action and “scoreboard porn”.

But, I definitely do take an interest in politics, justice issues, and the occasional outrageous happenings in general news, sports and tech. As much of a train wreck as 2020 has been, perhaps it’s time to get the train back on the rails for 2021.

In the past, I’ve done some followups on specific posts from the past as their anniversary months, if not exact dates of the original posts, come around in the year. I’m going to try to do that again this year, as I’ve looked through the archives and found quite a few gems that I didn’t even realize I had written at the time. I’m considering posting some of the best to either my existing Twitter feed and the blog’s Facebook page or possibly starting a new “The Best of Rant Roulette” feed for them.

If you’ve been around since the early days (2012 or earlier), congratulations for sticking around. It has not been an easy journey for either myself or the blog and I appreciate your continued support.