State of Things

He wants to end birthright citizenship with an executive order, a violation of the 14th Amendment that would render me non-American. The day after he said that, he was still president like it was okay.

A significant chunk of the country has decided they actively desire belligerent ignorance and bigoted ethno-nationalism, ripe for a wealthy grifter to leverage their fear and hatred into an obnoxiously obvious con job. It’s going to get worse and I don’t have much confidence that the congressional Dem majority after the 2018 midterms will help.

Dark clouds over the Capitol

Social Media Regret

Short version: I’m not on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram anymore. Get me on this site, on Flickr, or on Mastodon.

In case you were wondering why my Facebook profile has looked like this for the last few months:

Blank Facebook profile

Five years ago in “Re-owning” I lamented that social media sites incentivized us to post our content to ephemeral walled gardens rather than our own web spaces. We spent years feeding our souls in short bursts to marketing data aggregators, in exchange for the momentary thrill of a fave or a retweet — or just because that was the online space where our family and friends had gone.

And then it got worse. These days posting to Twitter or Facebook feels more like being complicit in their own crimes of negligence against society as social media matures into a viral disinformation amplifier rather than an authentic communications medium.

Given all this I decided the best course of action would be to stop posting to Twitter and Instagram, and use the Social Book Post Manager plugin to “blank” out my Facebook profile, deleting all posts, tags, likes, comments, and other FB content. (I don’t want to delete those accounts, at least not yet, while certain logins are still tied to them, and to keep public permalinks active. And hey, maybe they’ll clean up and I can go back.)

For quick and whimsical status updates I’ve moved over to Mastodon, and for pictures Flickr has always been a steadfast paid service. Given time I’d like to set up my own Mastodon instance and tie it in to WordPress somehow. I think should have some time to try that in about *looks at watch* 16 years, so around 2034.

“Spider” Donut

"Spider" Donut

This seasonal Halloween Dunkin’ Donut was called “Spider” and I think it was supposed to be a lot more involved than just “munchkin in hole.” Sure enough, the official press release shows frosting eyes and spider legs, but eh, it was a donut and I ate it.

"Purple Potion" Halloween donut

“Purple Potion” was another seasonal Halloween donut which I consumed with my mouth.

Halloween 2018

Ezra was an astronaut for Halloween, his first time trick-or-treating around the neighborhood, Grandpa and Grandma coming along for the fun of it.

Ezra as astronaut for Halloween
Ezra as astronaut for Halloween

I also let him be a creeper for a bit but that box head is not well-sized for toddler use.

Creeper Son

Soyuz MS-10

Scary launch failure on Soyuz MS-10 as a booster anomaly led to an abort, with the crew of two returning to Earth via ballistic descent and landing safely in Kazakhstan.

Expedition 57 Launch (NHQ201810110017)

NASA ISS Expedition 57 photo album includes this photo taken around the time of the anomaly — note only 3 of 4 strap-on boosters can be seen separating from the core stage, consistent with the explanation that a separation motor valve failed on one strap-on, resulting in violent recontact with part of the launch stack.

While the launch failure is a frustrating event, it’s at least comforting that launch escape systems worked and kept the crew alive; there has been at least one past incident where the outcome was lethal. Sadly no trip to the ISS for NASA rookie astronaut Nick Hague.

Update: More on the incident, with Roscosmos onboard video of the anomaly, from Scott Manley.

Hurricane Michael

Got another hurricane in the South, Michael, first Cat 4 to make landfall at the Florida Panhandle.

Orbital view of Michael from the ISS. Helicopter video of flattened homes in Mexico Beach, FL. Photos of the aftermath from Apalachicola Times and The Atlantic.

As of this writing the remnants of Michael, now a tropical storm, are over us in Virginia. It’s raining pretty hard and the soil is nicely soaked so I threw some grass seed out on the lawn to let the storm water it.

Around the Capitol

Living out in the ‘burbs now, I rarely get to enjoy much of DC anymore these days. When I can I try to walk the “scenic route” home, circling past the Capitol before heading for the train station out to my stop in Virginia.

US Capitol
Washington Monument and National Mall

Ominous clouds overhead and behind the Washington Monument this time, as Hurricane Florence, despite being centered far south in the Carolinas, stretches its rain bands up to here.