sound of distant troll feeding
Monday, March 4 2013
Oberlin College (which I attended in the late 1980s) made national headlines today by deciding to cancel classes for the day in response to a wave of anonymous racist incidents. A provocateur had written offensive graffiti in various places, including (my personal favorite) "whites only" above a water fountain. All my old Oberlin friends were sharing stuff about it on Facebook, though it was also on Slate.com and in the Huffingtonpost. While everyone was portraying it as a big deal, I found myself wondering if perhaps the whole thing had been orchestrated by a single homegrown bombthrower out to cause a reaction. Oberlin is a great place to meet the kind of people that Facebook (better than your memory) reminds you were absent from your high school, but there is a cloying sanctimoniousness to the liberal college experience that can cause someone with a caustic sense of humor to lash out. When I was in Oberlin I tended to lash out most at humorless feminism and uncritical worship of Isræl. (Gretchen still occasionally brings up the four-foot-tall "anatomically correct" penis graffiti I drew on the wall of the Harkness kitchen.) It's very Oberlin to shut down classes and have a teach-in when provoked in this way, but I suspect they're just feeding the troll(s).
At some point today my MSI Wind U123 netbook, partly assisted by a yarfy Ramona-style dog, fell from a table onto the floor of the laboratory. I picked it up and it seemed to be okay, but later I realized the impact had snapped off a number of tiny tabs from the battery pack, meaning that there was no no way to keep the battery and computer together. Tiny tabs had also snapped off one of the hinge covers, which now couldn't be kept in place. Without it, the metal chassis inside was visible, as if it was a slightly-injured terminator. At first I tried to weld little bits of ABS (polystyrene) onto the hinge cover to make a new tab, but I just couldn't muster the precision required. The little bits of plastic that snap together on modern electronics are all made with extremely low-tolerance precision.
In the end I managed to get the hinge cover back in place using a combination of SuperGlue and epoxy (sometimes you have to use both), but to keep the battery in place I now am forced to use duct tape.
The weather, though still not warm, now only occasionally dips below freezing. So today I felt it was okay to turn on the water in the brownhouse, which will allow me to once more wash my hands (and, occasionally, other things) after using the facilities. Since the faucet there operates by a gravity-fed siphon, getting it working again requires that I suck on the faucet so as to prime the pipe with a column of water. When I was building this system, I thought I'd be doing the once-per-year pipe priming with a rubber bulb, but it's much easier just to use my God-given suction mechanism. This is yet another example of a capability that would be easy to overlook when designing a humanoid robot.
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