Do you live in a political bubble?

SciBabe over on Facebook had a link to a NYT article that asks: Do You Live in a Political Bubble? You can enter your address and it’ll generate a map of the ratio of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents in your immediate neighborhood. She lives in a Democratic bubble whereas mine is the opposite as you can see below.

My Westland, MI neighborhood political bubble.
Where my fellow Independents at? Not this neighborhood, that’s for goddamned sure. Click to embiggen

I had already suspected as much based on the number of Gadsden flags that are flown in the area and there’s been at least three straight up Trump flags I’ve seen. Hell, just the number of inground flag poles is a good indicator. American flags in particular are a near-constant presence. I have an American flag which I take out for Memorial Day and July 4th, but otherwise it stays folded up in the garage. Our flag mount came off the house a while ago, however, so unless I get motivated, we may miss those holidays this year.

The article is interesting because it turns out that 1 in 3 Americans lives in a completely isolated political bubble, surrounded by neighbors of the same political party. The city of Inkster, MI which is just a few miles away from me, is almost entirely Democrats.

I will have lived here for four years officially on June 1st and in that time the only neighbors whose names I can remember live in the houses on either side of me. I’ve chatted briefly with some of the younger families during Halloween trick-or-treating, but beyond the occasional wave as we’re passing in the street, I have almost no contact with them. None of the other folks living here have made an attempt at introducing themselves and the look they give when you see them out in their yards does not invite you taking the opportunity to do so yourself. Additionally, the pandemic over the past year has also not helped in getting to know one’s neighbors.

Which is probably for the best, considering most of my neighbors are Republicans. I doubt I would have much to say of interest to them to begin with. My new neighbors on my right (facing the house) are Trumpers, much to my dismay, but have otherwise been nothing but friendly. I’ve even been told by them that I am a good neighbor. I keep debating if I should attempt to reach out to the other folks in my immediate area to see if there’s any common ground to be had. So far, I’ve not psyched myself up enough to bother with it. Tales of neighbors waging war on each other have done nothing to encourage any interactions.

That said, I am looking into what it would cost to have a two-flag pole installed in my yard so I can fly my American flag alongside an FSM flag, just to offset the number of Gadsden flags I see. Surely nothing negative would come from that, right?

You spilled what on your laptop?

Tech Support Kitty is seriously done with your bullshit.
Click to embiggen

First world video gamer problems.

When you play video games for as many years as I have, a lot of it becomes muscle memory. This extends to and includes things you might not think of, like how you launch a game. A while back, Blizard made a change to their games so that everything is launched through the Battle.net application on Windows. Considering that most Blizard games require an online connection to play, this isn’t an entirely bad change because it saves you having to type in your credentials each time you play the game.

If you play a lot of Blizard titles — or titles hosted on Battle.net, like Call of Duty — you might have pinned the Battle.net app to your taskbar. Like I have. I also have Steam pinned there because that’s the second most common launcher I use. Recently, Blizard decided the Battle.net icon needed an update and you can already see where this is going.

On the left is the old Battle.net icon. In the middle, the new one. And on the right is the Steam icon. Below is what my taskbar looks like.

Now when I go to launch Battle.net I instead end up clicking on Steam because it more closely matches the color scheme of the old B.net icon. Every. Single. God. Damned. Time.

That icon in between them? That’s GOG Galaxy, the third launcher I use most often as I have been growing a collection of old games on Good Old Games. Plus, it ties into every other platform — including PlayStation and Xbox Live — allowing you to track playtime, trophies, and friends. You’d think my muscle memory would work off of where the B.net icon is and not its coloring, but nope.

*Click*, open Steam, close Steam, open B.net. Sigh exasperatedly.

Lil Nas X’s MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name) has a lot of Christians shook.

With all the talk and memes about Lil Nas X, I thought I’d look up the video to see for myself. Until this blew up, I hadn’t heard of him because I’m stuck in my little musical bubble of 1980’s Synthpop and Electro Swing and I don’t tend to listen to commercial radio these days.

I had heard that the video for the song involved the Garden of Eden and the talking snake and Lil Nas X being stoned to death and then pole dancing his way to Hell where he gives Satan a lap dance before snapping his neck and taking his place on the throne. And, yeah, that’s pretty much what happens.

As for the song itself, I won’t claim to understand the meaning or intent behind it after just a couple of listens, but I liked it. Which is saying a lot considering it’s way out of my usual musical choices.

A lot of Conservative Christians are, of course, outraged. Not only by this video, but by his stunt of selling ‘Satan Shoes’ that he collaborated on with street wear company MSCHF. With only 666 pairs being made, the Nike Air Max 97s had all the usual Satanic iconography you would expect including a pentagram pendant, Luke 10:18, and a bubble in the heel that supposedly contained a drop of real human blood.

Nike was none too pleased about it themselves. They released a statement saying they had nothing to do with the production of these shoes and then hitting MSCHF with a cease-and-desist order almost immediately, but not fast enough to stop the $1,018 shoes from selling out. The video was actually released after the shoes and did nothing to sooth the furrowed brows of America’s righteous Christians.

Lil Nas X who is, if you couldn’t tell from the video, openly gay is unapologetic:

https://twitter.com/LilNasX/status/1375857638869585922

I’m not his target audience, but I can appreciate both this song and his trolling of Conservative Christians. I can especially appreciate the open letter to his younger self he published to Twitter after this all blew up.

Amen to that.

As for the video itself, I found this opinion piece by Heather White, author of Reforming Sodom: Protestants and the Rise of Gay Rights, helpful in understanding it.

But this about a lot more then gleeful provocation. Lil Nas X’s comments about his use of Christian imagery shows that his core aim is not to offend. His latest art is in fact deeply personal, depicting his own struggle with self-acceptance amid a claustrophobic and shaming religious culture. A gay son of the Black church, the real devil on Lil Nas X’s back is one familiar to many LGBTQ folks reared in conservative Christianity: being told that who you are is a sin.

Lil Nas X’s ‘Satan Shoes’ trolled some Christians. But ‘Montero’ is about more than that. – NBCNews.com


I’m white, straight, and male which puts me in the most privileged of positions in American society. The only the way I could be more privileged is if I were rich. I cannot begin to imagine the daily stress black Americans deal with just trying to get by and to add being gay on top of that can only make things so much worse. As an atheist, I am tickled by the trolling of Conservative Christians, but I also understand that this is about more than just pissing off the overly religious. I hope this goes a long way to not only helping Lil Nas X be more comfortable with who he is, but also inspires others who are experiencing the same forms of self-loathing to come to accept who they are as well. Bravo sir, well done indeed!

The SEB Podcast That Wouldn’t Die

Well, it didn’t go off without a hitch, but considering that this is my first successful use of Open Broadcast Software to do something like this, it went pretty well. Getting this to work involved installing an NDI plugin to import a Skype conference call into OBS. At first, Dave sounds a little robotic because OBS was capturing his audio twice. Once from Skype itself and a second time via the desktop audio capture.

Having corrected that, the rest of the podcast went fairly smoothly other than a couple of glitches on Daves end that paused his video for a moment and then left the audio out of sync until it paused a second time and corrected it.

Lastly, my mother started watching TV without her hearing aids in mid-way through the stream and you can clearly here it in the background. I will make a mental note to be sure she has her hearing aids in before starting a podcast in the future.

The only other problem was arguably a lack of direction in what we were talking about. It’s been three years and we spent a good chunk just getting caught up. I’m also ADHD so my train of thought meanders as I’m talking.

We are planning on trying to do this again next month which should help improve all of these things. Hopefully you guys at least find it mildly amusing. I always enjoy making these with Dave.

UPDATED: How about a little SEB Podcast to brighten your day?

UPDATE: A little further below I announced the date of the return of the SEB Podcast as February 20th at 3PM. As it turns out, Dave is apparently very highly in demand at his current job and as such a big super-secret project he’s involved with has already resulted in us having to postpone the return of the podcast just hours after we settled on a date and time. The new date will be March 6th at 3PM. We now return you to our original entry.

If you’re a long-time visitor to SEB then you know that at one point in time, I attempted to start a podcast with Dave Hill of ***Dave Does the Blog. In the past 11 years since we started it in February of 2010, we have managed only ten total podcasts. If you look in the podcast section of the blog, you’ll see that we managed to do the first four in the same year with only a couple of months between them. Then the fifth was nearly a year later with the next two also coming in within a couple months of each other. The eighth one, again, came nearly a year after the seventh. The ninth, however, well it was over three years later in 2015. Jinkies!

I hear you saying, “Wait a minute! You said you did ten podcasts, but there’s only 9 listed in the podcast menu!”

Yes, the tenth was done as a live-stream in Google Hangouts which I apparently never got around to adding to the podcast menu. Probably because I was going to strip the audio from it and save it as a MP3 file. You can find it here on my YouTube channel. It was streamed on May 6th, 2018 making it almost three years ago that we last sat around shooting the shit. Naturally, this means it’s time for Dave and I to make another one.

I’m still really annoyed they killed off Google Hangouts.

So, that’s what we’re going to do. On February 20th at 3PM EST I will haul the desiccated remains of the Stupid Evil Podcast from the shallow grave it’s been lying in along the railway tracks and prop it up for another go. You can either watch it live as we stream it as we will once again doing it as a video stream or catch it later once it’s been archived to my YouTube channel. Google Hangouts streaming, which we used last time, is no more having been replaced by Google Meet. Which I think is the same damned thing with a new name. That’s probably what we’ll be using, but I’ll need to double check and make sure it’ll do what we want. I’ll leave a comment with exactly what we’re using once I know for sure.

As always, we’re looking to you guys for topic ideas. Yeah, Dave and I have a lot to catch up on, but it never hurts to find out what you guys want us to talk about. It doesn’t even have to be anything we’d know anything about, though it might make for a better answer if we know at least a little about it. Got something? Leave a comment below or on social media and we’ll try to address it.

Learning new skills: Appliance repair.

Hamilton Beach 70725A Food Processor
Food processor go brrr!

Anne got a new Hamilton Beach food processor a little while ago and hadn’t gotten around to using it yet. It’s been sitting on the cart along with all the other kitchen gadgets we only use occasionally. Stuff like the hot air popcorn popper and the blender and so on. The cart sits next to the cage my mother’s parrot is in.

You can already see where this is going.

The parrot somehow managed to reach through the bars and get ahold of the power cord and chewed the living shit out of it. Like, the plug is missing completely and there are three or four other spots where bare wire is exposed. Anne is, understandably, upset as this thing hasn’t been used once. Near tears, she’s ready to toss it out.

I’m not sure what reasons Anne had for marrying me, but being an amazing handyman who instinctively knows how to fix all-the-things is not one of them. I know computers really well. How to build them, how to fix them, how to waste lots of time on them. Other stuff, not so much.

The front storm door on the house currently has to be locked shut because both of the door closer arm thingys (it has two of them) have pulled out of the door frame so I have removed them because they clearly can’t just be screwed back in where they were due to the damage to the door frame. If we don’t lock it then it blows open at the slightest breeze and risks shattering the glass window in it. We have several shelves Anne bought last spring for the living room along with pot hanging racks for the kitchen that are still not up because I’m terrified at the prospect of hanging them crooked. One of the kitchen cabinet doors keeps coming loose and just retightening the screw is, at best, a short-term solution and I’m not sure what to do about it beyond having the entire kitchen remodeled.

Mind you, I’m not completely useless as I have managed to swap out a few light switches in the house so that the dimmer function would work with LED bulbs and I took a dimmer switch in the dining room back to just a standard on/off switch. And I’ve opened up enough broken electronics and appliances in my time that I already know that a power cord for an appliance like this is basically two wires and a plug that attach to a terminal or splice to a couple of wires inside the unit. So, I’m looking at this thing and thinking: How hard could it be to put a new power cord on it? I mean a proper replacement, not just cutting the current cord at a spot where it’s not damaged and attaching a new cord to the end with some black electrical tape. Opening that sucker up and doing it right. Make it nice like my wife deserves.

So that’s what I’m going to try and do. I figure the worst thing that can happen is it explodes in flaming shrapnel and burns my house down, but I’m relatively confident I can avoid that happening. I am 53 years old and this will be my first such attempt to fix a common household appliance like this. Fortunately, YouTube is full of videos of way more manly men than I am who have dozens of videos on topics just like this one. I’m sure one of them will impart upon me the knowledge and wisdom to not kill myself in the process.

Wish me luck.

My contribution to the Bernie Sanders Mittens meme.

So, we have a new President and a new, historic, Vice President in the form of Joe Biden and Kamla Harris. After four long years of Trump making a mess of things, this change is pretty wonderful. However, it is not the most wonderful thing to come out of this most recent election. No, that would be the endless memes of Bernie Sanders and his ever so practical knitted mittens sitting in a chair looking like he’d wish everyone would get this inauguration nonsense over with so he can get back to doing the people’s work. Bernie’s a no-nonsense kind of guy which is why all the nonsense that comes out of a simple picture of him is so amazing.

Take, for example, this one:

I can think of no better person to sit upon that throne.

Here’s another good one:

I have no idea. I voted for him in the primaries. First time I’ve ever bothered to vote in a primary was for Bernie.

Here’s a few more of my favorites:

Those mittens, by the way, were made and gifted to him by Vermont teacher Jen Ellis:

Those do look super comfy.

Personally, I was content to allow others to have all the fun with mixing Bernie into various situations and pop culture references, but then my buddy Greg hit me up on Messenger this morning.

Goddammit, Greg!

Surely, I thought, someone must have done this already, but Google searches returned the rarely seen message: “It looks like there aren’t many great matches for your search.”

What? That’s such an obvious idea. How could no one have done this already? Why, there’s even a good caption to put on it to complete the meme. The more I thought of it the more it itched at the back of my brain.

Now, I am not the greatest image manipulator in the world. I barely now how to work the Paint.net application I use these days. I still have a copy of my all-time favorite editor, Photo Impact, but it’s old as dirt and barely runs under Windows 10 and I have never mastered, let alone could afford, Photoshop. Still, I sat down to see what I could manage to whip up and I’m quite pleased with the results.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: Bernvros!

I am once again asking for congress to exterminate The Doctor.
My sizing isn’t great, Bernie’s a bit big for that chair.

I would like to immediately apologize for putting this image into your heads, but I had to share the pain. Thanks, Greg.

If you’re going to use a “chastity cage” go with an old fashioned one.

These days just about everything you own can connect to the Internet so it can be remotely controlled. For example, I can open and close my garage door from anywhere in the world with the push of a button on an app on my smartphone. Devices that fall into this arena are known as the “Internet of Things” and, yes, even sex toys have joined the fray. Everything from sex dolls to dildos have Internet connected versions. Often to allow a couple to play virtually with each other over great distances.

This might sound great, but you should be sure to consider the implications of what might happen if some hacker manages to take control over your device. Say, for example, if you’re a fan of chastity cages (*link is NSFW) which tend to be popular in BDSM circles. For those not in the know, chastity cages are a subset of chastity belts aimed at men that are little cages for your dick to keep you from getting an erection. As it turns out there are versions of these devices that can connect to the Internet and, like many other IoT devices, security was an afterthought:

It’s all fun and games until your dick gets hacked.

“Your cock is mine now,” the hacker told one of the victims, according to a screenshot of the conversation obtained by a security researcher that goes by the name Smelly and is the founder of vx-underground, a website that collects malware samples.

In October of last year, security researchers found that the manufacturer of an Internet of Things chastity cage—a sex toy that users put around their penis to prevent erections that is used in the BDSM community and can be unlocked remotely—had left an API exposed, giving malicious hackers a chance to take control of the devices. That’s exactly what happened, according to a security researcher who obtained screenshots of conversations between the hacker and several victims, and according to victims interviewed by Motherboard.   

‘Your Cock Is Mine Now:’ Hacker Locks Internet-Connected Chastity Cage, Demands Ransom – Vox

There are just some things that should never be connected to the Internet. A device that locks your dick in a cage is definitely one of those things. Reportedly, the asking price to unlock the device was around 0.02 Bitcoin (around $750 today) which is a helluva price to pay to get your dick back.

I’m not sure what the Cell Mate is made of and I’m at work so I can’t go look it up to find out, but the pic looks like it’s mostly plastic so I suppose you could just break it off your junk. Though how you would do that without also breaking your junk is a mystery. It’s also probably not cheap, though probably much cheaper than the $750 ransom. The Vox article doesn’t say anyone has actually been caught with this thing on their genitals when the ransom note came in so at worst a bunch of people now have a brick for a sex toy.

Consider this your friendly reminder that just because you can put your sex toys on the Internet, that doesn’t mean you should.

SEB Safety Tip of the Day: Don’t try to dispose of your Christmas tree in your fireplace.

One of the reasons I have an artificial tree is to avoid the hassle of getting rid of a live tree after the holidays are over. Granted, a lot of cities offer free curbside tree pickup these days or low-cost disposal at the local dump, but for those who don’t and who can’t just drag it out to the back of their property and toss it into the woods, there’s no quick and easy way to deal with it.

One option you might have if you have a fireplace in your home is to toss it in there. This is not generally recommended for several reasons, but if you’re going to go that route you should probably consider chopping it up first.

According to the McKinney Fire Department, officials responded to a call about a structure fire in the 4400 block of Rancho Del Norte Trail.

Officials said firefighters arrived to find that a Christmas tree had been placed into a home fireplace.

Only the top of the tree was in the fire, so the flames traveled down the tree and out of the fireplace, officials said.

McKinney Resident Tries to Dispose of Christmas Tree in Fireplace – NBCDFW
There’s a smart way and a dumb way to do this. This is the dumb way.

Damage was minimal, but one person was treated for smoke inhalation. The really sad part of this is that the town of McKinney offers Christmas tree composting services and will even pick up your tree for free.

I love that they have to tell people to remove their lights and ornaments from the tree. You know that means someone tried to have them pick up a tree with all of that still on it at some point in the past.

Learn from the stupidity of others. Don’t do this.