Sayre’s Law and Internet Controversies

Posted on March 18, 2015
Filed Under politics | 11 Comments

duty_callsI just watched Christiana Ellis’ most recent episode of Five More Minutes where she talks about the Batgirl variant cover being pulled. I mentioned in a comment to her that it is time to invoke Sayre’s Law, not just for this but pretty much every time one of these internet controversies erupts.

The law states “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.” This is the dark flip-side of bike shedding, which is that trivial decisions get more discussion because the important and high value topics are difficult to discuss and require expertise to criticize.

I will admit to completely not understanding the mentality that leads people to make death threats over comic book covers and stories, Kickstarters they don’t like, keynotes by UX designers and other such things that are ultimately bullshit in the scheme of things. How a dislike of posted words or easily ignorable actions leads one to make real world (if virtual and thus far always bogus) threats of violence is beyond my way of thinking.

My own half-baked hypothesis is that these are the follow-on effects of the 9/11 aftermath. When America responded to a horrific unconscionable act of violence with a decade and a half of violence on nearly random targets and a culture of dehumanization, that spreads. We’ve picked up innocent people and locked them in Guantanamo indefinitely with no recourse or process to prove their innocence. We’ve decided certain populations are subhuman and don’t deserve even the minimal treatment granted by the Geneva Convention. When this permeates the culture, what do you expect is going to happen?

That’s why persistent racism, misogyny, homophobia, religious intolerance are such a large problem. When you have that mechanism of dehumanization against one group, it doesn’t take much to broaden that out to any group you decide is the next for that feeling. The best way to deal with it is to grant that everyone – your friends and your enemies, the followers of religions you believe in and the ones you don’t, the citizens of friendly countries and unfriendly countries, saints and suspected terrorists and criminals – everyone has a certain floor of humane treatment they must be afforded as a living member of the human race. It’s not a question of whether they deserve it or not, which is always where the discussion goes.

It’s not that terrible people forfeit their right to humane treatment by their actions. Humane treatment isn’t on an accrual basis like your Social Security benefit, you don’t bank it up or exhaust it. It’s that for a culture treating even the worst people as subhuman takes away our humanity, makes lives worse for the good people, foments a culture of fear and hatred and violence. The only way to avoid violent threats about silly bullshit is to avoid dehumanization as a cultural backdrop. Everyone deserves a base level of compassion and humanity, because to deprive them of it makes us monsters just like them and we want to be better.

In the end, this all sounds a little Jesusy for an atheist, no? So be it.

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Bill Gates on Nerdist

Posted on March 17, 2015
Filed Under podcasting | 5 Comments

I am listening to Bill Gates on the Nerdist podcast. I know it is one of those things that is a “good get” for the program in that he’s an extremely famous person. However, the first time the handler jumped in to steer the conversation back to the Gates Foundation, I thought very hard about hitting the skip button. I understand they have a message they want to push, but it if you think the only way to spread that message is with Soviet level control, you may not understand the modern mediasphere as well as you think you do. That doesn’t make me feel better about the thing you are pushing, it makes me feel like the handler is pushing me around.

The only upside of the tight control from the handler is that it kept Matt Mira from trying to steer the conversation to what Gates thought of Frazier.

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Kickstarter Hatred

Posted on March 16, 2015
Filed Under podcasting | 5 Comments

I am currently listening to Episode #2 of Ditchdiggers with Mur Lafferty and Matt Wallace. They are discussing the Stacey Jay Kickstarter fiasco and how the YA community gave her enormous grief about asking for readers to support the creation of her work. Which is the basis of EVERY KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN EVER!

On Thursday evening at 9 PM EDT (or whenever I get there after child bedtime) I am going to be a part of a roundtable for the Nutty Bites podcast talking about these issues. I am really looking forward to the conversation and hearing what everyone else has to say. I will just note here that although I didn’t know about the Stacey Jay situation when I recorded my Patreon video, there is a reason why it was done with me pretending to smoke a pipe and affecting a highly exaggerated pomposity. I was trying to preemptively short circuit exactly that line of thinking.

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Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for March 12 2015 – Negation

Posted on March 12, 2015
Filed Under audio | Leave a Comment

In this episode, I play a song by the Kropotkins; I discuss the ongoing struggles to enjoy media and how much it is like having another job; I talk about negation, negativity, opinionation and other life anti-patterns.

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, March 12 2015.

Links mentioned in this episode:

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

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Soaking in Game of Thrones

Posted on March 10, 2015
Filed Under books, tv | 12 Comments

I’ve spent since Thanksgiving reading A Song of Ice and Fire. I finished Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows and now I’m a third of the way through A Dance with Dragons. Three books in 4 or 5 months is pretty good for me in recent years. However when you consider this is 3,000 pages which is 6-10 of the kind of books I normally read, it’s phenomenal.

I’ve now also seen S1E1 of the TV show. I bought the first two seasons on DVD/BluRay during a Gold Box special recently. Having immersed myself in this world in multiple media, I thought it would be a great time to start listening to the Beyond the Wall podcast as I watch the episodes. Basically, I get to relive 2011 with everyone else. When I went to try it, the first few episodes are no longer there on the site. The posts exists but the media files give a 404 error. Do they exist somewhere that I can get them? These are the dangers of living your media life half a decade off of everyone else.

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Sonic Subversion on Radio Valencia

Posted on March 5, 2015
Filed Under podcasting, radio | 1 Comment


Back in January, my friend Michael Butler was a guest on Sonic Subversion, a program on Radio Valencia. I’m finally getting around to listening it today. I heard my own name mentioned in the first few minutes, so I think that counts as a great show. Rock on!

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What’s on my Headphones?

Posted on March 5, 2015
Filed Under comics | 2 Comments


People in my neighborhood that see me walking my dog with headphones on. They might imagine a guy like me rocking out to Blue Oyster Cult or Black Sabbath in my cans. Little do they know, I’m listening to Gregg Schigiel talk to Chris Staros about the history of Top Shelf Comix.

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Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for March 5 2015 – Evo Terra and Sheila Dee

Posted on March 5, 2015
Filed Under audio | 4 Comments

In this episode, I have a chat with my friends Evo Terra and Sheila Dee about their running away from home to become digital nomads.

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, March 2015

Links mentioned in this episode:

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

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Evil Genius Chronicles Patreon Campaign is Live!

Posted on March 2, 2015
Filed Under podcasting | 5 Comments

After consultation with a set of podcast supporters and taking in some input from those folks, the Evil Genius Chronicles Patreon campaign is now live!

The response from the first few days was completely off the charts from what I was expecting. The milestone for getting the show on a weekly schedule was met within the first 36 hours. I was hoping for the best but I wouldn’t have placed that bet. Thank you to all the supporters thus far.

If you are interested in supporting, feel free. So far, all of the pledges have been at the higher levels. No one has pledged at the $0.25 level but as I mentioned on the last episode, there is nothing preventing you from pledging at that $0.01 level. I misspoke during the episode, I am a $0.10 per episode supporter of Cordkillers not the $0.01 I stated. If you want to support but don’t have a lot of money, support at the nickel level. It’s all good.

I’m posting here the two alternate versions of the pitch video. I uploaded all three but the main version is what is linked from Patreon. For those who watched the video, these differ only by 13 seconds from version to version. Yes, it is THAT 13 seconds. From A to C they ramp up in redonkulousness.

Thanks again to all the supporters. My biggest fear was this campaign publicly eating it in spectacular fashion. It went so well so quickly that was off the table. I appreciate all the support my friends. To the future!

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Yes, You Have a Problem

Posted on February 28, 2015
Filed Under life | 1 Comment

A week ago I took some Merlin Mann advice from Back to Work and checked out Peter Walsh’s It’s all Too Much from my local library. Yesterday I realized I hadn’t read it because I couldn’t find it. That is a pretty clear indicator that yes, yes I do have a problem and need help.

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Roderick Podcast Wisdom

Posted on February 28, 2015
Filed Under podcasting | Leave a Comment

Roderick on the Line

From Roderick on the Line, episode “MSG Denier”:

John Roderick: “If one person says ‘core competency’ while I am in the room, I am going to kick you in the balls.”

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Evil Genius Chronicles Podcast for February 27 2015 – Skepticism and Patreon is Live!

Posted on February 27, 2015
Filed Under audio | 1 Comment

In this episode, I play a song from Corn Mo; I talk about the misconceptions of skepticism, referencing a conversation from Kelly Carlin’s Waking from the American Dream podcast; I discuss the EGC Patreon campaign that has just gone live.

Here is the direct MP3 download for the Evil Genius Chronicles podcast, February 27 2015.

Links mentioned in this episode:

You can subscribe to this podcast feed via RSS. To sponsor the show, contact BackBeat Media. Don’t forget, you can fly your EGC flag by buying the stuff package. This show as a whole is Creative Commons licensed Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported. Bandwidth for this episode is provided by Cachefly.

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What Say You, Fast and Furious?

Posted on February 26, 2015
Filed Under podcasting, tv | 1 Comment


I really enjoy the What Say You podcast with Brian Quinn and Sal Vulcano. I went about things bass-ackwards, first listening to and enjoying their podcast enough that I decided to try an episode of the Impractical Jokers TV show. I’d expect most people went the other way around. I was already a listener of Tell Em Steve Dave, so I had years of BQ podcast listening under my belt. Still, it seems like a weird path.

Here’s how much I enjoy their show. On their episode 48, I listened to two hours of them discussing the first Fast and the Furious movie. I’ve never seen it. I’ve never seen any Fast and the Furious movie. I laughed and enjoyed it and basically had a great time. These guys are seriously funny and I just enjoy being able to listen to them chat. For being guys with their own television show, their podcast is straight out of the mold of the indie shows that I listen to. They have way more in common with Dawn and Drew or Derek Coward than any celebrity podcasters. I love that, I love their podcast, I love their TV show. For me to say that about a program on a reality show network is not a casual thing. They make me laugh, every single time.

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How I Play Music into Google Hangouts

Posted on February 24, 2015
Filed Under podcasting | 4 Comments

tl;dr – This post is about how I finally got a full setup where I can play arbitrary computer audio into a Google Hangout or other conference; save a copy of the audio to my local media with no repeating; and use a single microphone for all of the above. This information is Mac OS X specific.

One of my dirty secrets of my podcast career and earlier is that until recently I had never once recorded a remote interview with my own equipment using a single microphone setup. I have always had two, one that the person on the phone or Skype connection was hearing and then my own local microphone that was recording me. It started as laziness and never was a thing I readdressed until the last few weeks when it became a problem. My Google Hangout with Butler a few weeks ago forced my hand on a lot of this and made me get my act together.

I wanted to get everything together into a single comprehensive recording solution that had all of these requirements fulfilled:

To start with, I used Alex Botten’s video as the basis for getting my computer audio playing into the Google Hangout. He covers it pretty comprehensively in that 17 minute video but I will include the summary here (as much so I can refresh my memory later as anything.) To start with, you need to have Soundflower installed. You need to have Ladiocast installed. (Ladiocast is really the secret weapon of this entire setup.)

Go to your Sound system preferences. You need to set your Input as “Soundflower 2ch” and your Output as “Soundflower 64ch”. I guarantee at times this will seem counterintuitive, just roll with me. Soundflower is basically a sound routing bus that takes the arbitrary channels and mixes them down to a single 2 channel signal. Although the 64 channel is the input and the 2 channel is the output, you do the reverse because you want your system audio feeding Soundflower’s input and Soundflower’s output feeding your system input. Again, just trust me.

ladiocast screenshot

Next, you will open Ladiocast. This program gives you the option of taking up to three inputs and sending them to up to three outputs. It seems like Soundflower and this program are doing the same thing but they are not, they are complementary players in this game. I’ve got a screen capture of my setup. The thing to note here is that my microphone is on “Powerwave Composite” (more about that later) and the computer audio is on the Soundflower bus. You can send each of the inputs (I’m only using two) to any of three outputs (also only using two.) I have my microphone going to Aux 1 and the computer sound going to Aux 1 and Main. Main is the headphone jack and is running to my hardware mixer.

Stop for a breath. It gets more complicated from here. Let’s review where we are at so far. I have Soundflower configured as my system input and output, but I am also using Ladiocast to send my mic to only Soundflower and any further audio my computer plays (music, for example, or the audio coming out of the Hangout) to both the headphone jack and Soundflower.


Now we are going to talk about my mixer setup. This is the other half of the configuration, and what fulfills the rest of my requirements. As you look at the mixer, input 1 is trusty studio mike. Input 2 is my lavalier mike. Input 3/4 is the output from the computer’s headphone jack. On the right is the mixer output which is going directly into my Marantz PMD 670 (the mixer is sitting on top of it.) At the top, the patch cable running from the adapter is going to the Griffin PowerWave which is then goes back to the computer via USB. (This laptop doesn’t have a line-in jack, so if I had that I wouldn’t need it.) They don’t seem to make them anymore, but a Griffin iMic would do the same function. Lastly are the headphones plugged into the top right jack.

Now, the PowerWave works solely to get the signal from my microphone into the computer. I have the FX return going to it, so I turn that up (third row of dials from the bottom) on any input I want to go back to the computer (in my set up, only the active microphone.) Conversely, the main mix (bottom row of dials) controls what goes into my Marantz recorder. What I am monitoring with the headphones is this. I turn up my mike in this, as well as the computer output and send the whole mix to the recorder. This is my local copy.

In order to close this loop, when you start your Google Hangout or equivalent, set your audio source to be Soundflower 2ch. At this point, the full monty has been achieved. With all this done, I have fulfilled my requirements. I have a single microphone that is recording me for both the local recording and is also going back to the people in the Hangout. I am recording my own audio locally for the whole session. If I play computer audio, it routes it back to the other participants in the Hangout but also plays into my local copy. The other participants in the Hangout are recorded in my local copy. Life is sweet!

It seems pretty complicated but for my use case, this is as simple as it can get. With a physical line-in jack the PowerWave can disappear. If I were recording the microphone on a USB headset, it would be a lot simpler. In that case, I would set that as my Input 1 in Ladiocast and send it to both Main and Aux 1, and could send the line-out directly to a recorder and not even need the physical mixer.

This is a starting point, most people will need to fiddle a bit to get things working. The key parts are getting the Soundflower inputs and outputs set up correctly or you hear nothing anywhere, and using Ladiocast. For a program this remarkably useful, it is shocking I had never heard of it before. Let me know how this works for you. Leave a comment if it worked or it didn’t, and we’ll see what can be done.

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Rock and Roll Geek Scoring System

Posted on February 23, 2015
Filed Under music, podcasting | 1 Comment


By and large, I really like Michael Butler’s Rock and Roll Geek album scoring system. He gives each song a 0, 1/2 or 1 and then adds it up and it almost always comes up with something sensible. However…

I am listening to this episode where he is scoring both the new Scorpions album “Return to Forever” and Black Star Riders album “Killer Instinct”. I haven’t gotten to the end yet but in the middle he has the Scorpions ahead by 1/2 point. To my ears, they are nowhere close. The Black Star Riders is a way better album. I cannot see ever actually listening to this Scorpions for anything other than ironic cheeziness. It’s too bad to be enjoyable and not bad enough to be fun. Butler is giving it good scores on a song by song basis but it is mostly sucking the life out of me. Conversely, when he switches over to a Black Star Riders song I pick back up and reengage. I would put this album on for enjoyment.

It’s worth a listen to see what you think but I wouldn’t score them anywhere close.

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Lunch with Punkin

Posted on February 19, 2015
Filed Under life | 9 Comments

A water tower shaped like a ketchup bottle is seen in the town of Belleville, Illinois

Today Punkin had her 4 year old vaccinations and I ended up watching her. I gave her the choice of lunch anywhere she wanted and she chose Wendy’s. Most likely, it’s because our local one has a Coke Freestyle machine and she likes playing with that more than eating.

We had this conversation during lunch:

Punkin: The airplanes leave trails of ketchup in the sky! And french fries fall down like rain?
Me: Really?
Punkin: Yes, and the ground is made out of hamburgers and cheeseburgers. You can pick one up and eat it whenever you want.
Me: And how about drinks?
Punkin: The rivers are Sprite and the creeks are cherry. You cvan scoop it out and drink whenever you want. Isn’t that cool?
Me: Yes, it sounds wonderful. What do you call such a place?
Punkin: Ketchup World!


Huntsburger on a Roll

Posted on February 18, 2015
Filed Under podcasting | 1 Comment


I always get a kick out of the Professor Blastoff podcast. After them doing a long run of banked episodes (apparently in July and August they recorded all the episodes for the rest of the year), the first ones of 2015 are Tig, Kyle and David doing a series of solo episodes. Think the KISS solo records but in podcast form.

In the first episode of 2015, David Huntsberger talks to two fellow comedians about Canada. The part of the show that really made me laugh was in the intro, when he re-enacted his take on the Serial podcast but populated entirely with characters from The Wire. I was in the gym when I was listening, and couldn’t keep from laughing out loud on the elliptical machine. Funny funny stuff.

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James Mason Shark

Posted on February 18, 2015
Filed Under tv | 1 Comment


Dear Octonauts, I noticed what you did in the “Artifical Reef” episode, giving the sharks all James Mason voices. Thanks for keeping it interesting for the parents, and the older ones at that.


Wholly Rolling

Posted on February 14, 2015
Filed Under life | 2 Comments

I’m generally pretty hapless with quad roller skates, doing much better with inline. However, I managed to skate for 20 or 30 minutes at this birthday party, sometimes helping a small child who was very unsteady, without once falling down. I had a few close calls, particularly in the late going when I got tired but 100% upright. I’ll take it.

SciFi Tavern in Charlotte

Posted on February 13, 2015
Filed Under books, sciencefiction | 6 Comments

Here is a Kickstarter I can get behind, even though I am not a direct beneficiary of it. A guy is trying to raise money to start a science fiction and fantasy bookstore tavern in Charlotte NC. Even as Borderlands in San Francisco is planning to shut down, that some crazy bastard is willing to tilt at this windmill all over makes me happy.

I would like the idea of this place getting off the ground. I try to get to Charlotte for Heroescon as often as I can so if it does open, I will need to put this on the agenda. Fellow members of the SF tribe, do what you can. Especially as I have so many friends located around the south, please support this if you have the means and at least spread this if you don’t. Let’s see it happen!

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