maxomai: dog (dog)
Back in December of 2014 --- those crazy, halcyon days gone by --- I posted my predictions for the year 2015. Unlike other prognosticators, I like to review my predictions a year later, to see how I did. Sometimes I do well, sometimes I do poorly. This time, I got a total of two (2) predictions right, my worst record so far.

To review, my predictions were as follows:


  1. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush will declare their candidacies for the Presidency of the United States before April 1, and will quickly dominate their respective parties’ Presidential races.

  2. ISIS will attempt a major terrorist attack on US soil.

  3. The United States will begin major combat operations against ISIS before December 31.

  4. The Supreme Court will declare that bans against same-sex marriage violate the Constitution.

  5. Ebola will kill at least 100,000 people, mostly in West Africa.

  6. The Dow Jones Industrial Average will top 20,000.

  7. The Chicago Cubs will make it to the postseason.

  8. The Oregon Ducks will beat the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National College Championship Game.

  9. The Seahawks will be repeat Super Bowl champions.



Let's go over each one and review what happened and where I went wrong.


  1. Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush will declare their candidacies for the Presidency of the United States before April 1, and will quickly dominate their respective parties’ Presidential races.



  2. I missed so many particulars on this prediction that I have to market as "DIDN'T HAPPEN." I figured that both would enter the race relatively early to raise money quickly and snuff out the competition. Neither candidate declared before April 1; they let their SuperPACs raise money and organize the ground game instead. I also figured that the primary races would be boring, and for the Democrats, they have been, the recent kerfuffle over DNC voter records notwithstanding. Clinton dominates the race in most scientific polls and will likely waltz to the nomination. The Republican race has been anything BUT boring with Donald Trump goose-stepping around and the most right-wing candidates snipping at his heels. Jeb Bush, the once-favorite, is now a third tier candidate at best, with everyone wistfully crossing their fingers that Donald Trump will finally say something so outrageous that his candidacy explodes like Howard Dean's did. But he keeps opening his mouth, and his support keeps growing, even as his supporters act worse and worse. In short, this is shaping up to be a general election that pits Hillary Clinton against Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, or Marco Rubio. 0/1


  3. ISIS will attempt a major terrorist attack on US soil.


  4. I misjudged their model, assuming that a big glitzy attack would help them raise money and followers. They've switched modes however, and are ow primarily interested in pissing off the rest of the world to start an apocalyptic battle. The worst attack, or attempted attack, on the United States, occurred when a husband-and-wife team killed 14 people in San Bernardino in a hail of gunfire; but it looks like the police stopped them from doing much more damage, as their house was full of pipe bombs. This still doesn't rise to the level of damaging significant infrastructure or killing thousands. 0/2


  5. The United States will begin major combat operations against ISIS before December 31.


  6. I figured a huge attack, or even a medium-sized one, would force us into a major role in the war on ISIS. Here, I underestimated Barack Obama again. So far the US has kept out of major combat operations --- wisely, since that's exactly what ISIS wants --- and has kept itself to a more surgical role, disrupting transport routes, choking off oil sales, and sending in covert ops. Russia has taken on a more aggressive role, which has slowly become a quagmire. For all of Putin's tough talk (and for all that conservatives love him), Obama is playing the smarter game here. 0/3


  7. The Supreme Court will declare that bans against same-sex marriage violate the Constitution.
  8. <

    This wasn't the 7-2 slam dunk I thought it would be, but 5-4 is still a win. 1/4


  9. Ebola will kill at least 100,000 people, mostly in West Africa.


  10. Ebola was burning hot in West Africa when I predicted this, and I figured it would continue to burn hot as the world response would continue to be too-little-too-late. Then came two shocking events. First: the rest of the world, unbelievably, actually got their fucking acts together and poured resources into Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Second, less believably, the scientific community quickly rolled out new treatments that appear to work very well. Guinea and Sierra Leone are now EVD-free, and Liberia should be declared Ebola-free next month. Additionally, several of the experimental Ebola vaccines have tested safe in humans appear to work at or near 100% effectiveness, so the next outbreak should be a lot easier to contain. In short, not only did we beat Ebola this time, we're now close to beating Ebola for good. 1/5


  11. The Dow Jones Industrial Average will top 20,000.


  12. This stock market turned out to be weaker than I thought, with everyone on edge that a rate hike is coming. One major exception: Amazon shares. 1/6


  13. The Chicago Cubs will make it to the postseason.


  14. They did, and they did it in style. They also managed to beat the hated Cardinals along the way. Sadly, they lost the NLCS to the Mets, who then went on to lose to the Kansas City Royals. 2/7


  15. The Oregon Ducks will beat the Alabama Crimson Tide in the National College Championship Game.


  16. Both the Ducks and the Crimson Tide looked red hot last year. Ohio State, which didn't look anywhere nearly as hot, got their acts together nonetheless, and beat the Tide AND the Ducks to become the first winner of the National College Championship Game. 2/8


  17. The Seahawks will be repeat Super Bowl champions.


  18. I maintain they would have repeated as Super Bowl Champions if Russell Wilson hadn't tried that final, and most monumentally stupid, pass of the game. 2/9

maxomai: dog (dog)
So, this is how the Republican base greets the disintegration of the Republican party: with thunderous applause.

Read more... )
maxomai: dog (dog)
TL;DR: Liv and I will be at the Seattle Esoteric Book Conference this weekend. See you there?

Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] xylograph_rss at Esoteric Book Conference 2015
Abrasax will be available at the Esoteric Book Conference

Abrasax will be available at the Esoteric Book Conference


September is almost over, and for those of us with bibliophilia and a fondness for the arcane, that can mean only one thing: The 7th annual Esoteric Book Conference is almost here! Come to Seattle, Washington and feast your eyes on an incredible assortment of esoteric texts.


Since 2009, this highly anticipated weekend-long event has brought together authors, publishers, scholars, and rare book dealers representing spiritual disciplines from Gnosticism to Shamanism and everything in between. Visitors will enjoy a jam-packed lineup that includes a book fair, numerous illuminating presentations, an art show peopled with noted esoteric artists, and no shortage of education or entertainment. For the hardcore book enthusiasts among you, live author appearances will offer plenty of autograph opportunities, and deluxe ticketholders are invited to take part in a limited VIP event at Re-bar.


Once again, I will have the pleasure of hosting the EBC art show which features works from Michael Cowell, Anne O’Neill, Valerie Herron, Travis Lawrence, Troy Chambers, and Raven Ebner. In addition to our marvelous featured artists, you can look forward to a lineup of presenters including researcher Jeff LaVoie, musician and artist Emily Pothast, anthropologist and folklorist Amy Hale, and many more. For a more in-depth picture of what you can expect from the EBC, click here to read Ariock Van de Voorde’s 2010 review, and check out the complete schedule of this year’s festivities.


DirectionOn a more personal note, I will be offering a selection of prints, including several new pieces, at next weekend’s conference. Especially motivated collectors will be pleased to know that the EBC is held within walking distance of Gargoyles Statuary, which offers a full selection of my original woodcut prints (including a number of sold-out items) as well as shirts, bookmarks, and real wood postcards. Additionally, I am excited to announce that Rubedo Press will be debuting a selection of new titles this weekend at the EBC. One of the volumes, Verdant Gnosis, contains contributions from yours truly.


That’s all for now. I hope to see you all in Seattle this weekend! If you catch me during a moment of downtime, come say hello!


PS: Stay tuned for more information about my next big event: the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival here in Portland, Oregon. The stars are almost right …

maxomai: dog (Default)
maxomai: dog (dog)
Haaretz reports that Russia, the US and Saudi Arabia have apparently been discussing how to sideline Assad in an attempt to get things under control in Syria, which has, of course, gotten way out of anyone's control. If nothing else, the existence of ISIL --- which has become an existential threat to the Syrian regime --- is all the proof one needs of that. In this context, Russia's land grabs in Syria could be seen as compensation for losing a long-time ally, or assurance that losing Assad --- which has been the US and Turkey's goal in this war all along --- won't mean losing their military bases.

Of course, Justin Raimondo has his own analysis here, although it predates the Haaretz report.
maxomai: dog (Default)
Obama now has the 41 votes he needs to support a filibuster of a Senate bill to kill the Iran deal. Which means that the Senate will debate whether or not to kill the deal, but the legislation is DOA and the deal will continue as planned.

With that, the struggle to prevent a war with Iran takes a huge step forward.

(It also means that the talking heads will either declare this a huge victory for Obama or will rake the Democrats over the coals for not supporting LikudIsrael. Whatever.)
maxomai: dog (dog)
Yesterday's session of Necronomicon Providence 2015 was, for Liv and I, mostly helping out Sigh Co Graphics at their booth. But, we did get away to enjoy some of the day's panels and entertainment. I attended two panels: Non-Euclidean Science which was an entertaining and informative discussion of how the scientific discoveries of Lovecraft's time rattled his worldview, but which then degenerated into flakey questions; and Ah-Cult! Magick in Prose and Practice, which was a fairly mundane discussion of how the occult might have influenced Lovecraft's fiction. I asked the panel whether the occult community's embrace of Lovecraft's monsters as egregores might be an attempt to reconcile itself to Nietzschean ethics and metaphysics. They agreed that this was probably the case, and the panel moderator, Anthony Teth, coined the term "Nietzsche-Lovecraftian" to cover this marriage. (He also had a nice quip to go with that, but I can't remember it now.)


Six figures seated at a table before microphones
The "Non-Euclidean Science" panel, consisting of panelists with some scientific or mathematics background. Panelists: Professor Dan Look, Fred Lubnow, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Pete Rawlik, Jeff Shanks. Moderator: Niels Hobbs




Five figures seated at a table before microphones
The "Ah-Cult! Magick in Prose and Practice" panel, consisting of panelists with some occult background: Richard Gavin, Scott R. Jones, Justin Woodman, Douglas Wynne. Moderator: Anthony Teth



And then of course we had the work of vending, vending, and more vending, including a run-in with Ross Lockhart.


Ross Lockhart and Liv Rainey-Smith
Ross Lockhart, no bingo sheets this time, and Liv Rainey-Smith



As vending wrapped up we rushed to the Biltmore Hotel to see the evening's performances. First was David Neilsen's animated telling of The Call of Cthulhu.


An actor in a bow tie, gesturing before a chalkboard
He plays a convincing 1930's-era academic at the end of his rope.



The second was the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society's War of the Worlds style adaptation of several Lovecraft tales, including Dagon and Shadow over Innsmouth, appropriately enough with a 1930's radio styled happy ending.


Several people in black shirts, sitting, while microphones are being set up on stands.
Preparations are being made...for a radio play!



Liv and I ended the evening with dinner and drinks, after which I joined another convention-goer in serenading Joe Pulver with Tom Lehrer songs, while Pulver shouted abuse at my singing companion, begging his editor to release him from his contract with said companion. Liv took video of this, which I will try to post later. Joe seemed more satisfied with my rendition of Unacceptable, which I sang at my companion as he left:

Unacceptable, that's what you are
Unacceptable, both near and far
That's why darling it's regrettable
That someone so unacceptable
Should think I am unacceptable too....



Two men and one woman against a wall.
Liv Rainey-Smith, Joe Pulver, and Pulver's editor. All three wear awesome t-shirts.



Day three is about to start...see you there?
maxomai: dog (dog)
The first day of NecronomiCon Providence 2015 was a busy one for me and Liv. We started off bright and early helping Arkham Bazaar set up their display in the Lovecraft Grand Emporium (Rhode Island Convention Center, Hall D, free for attendees, $5 for the public). For me this entailed mostly standing around and schlepping, and driving their van around downtown Providence. And unpacking shirts. Lots and lots of shirts.


Liv Rainey-Smith and Gwen Callahan behind a booth piled high with t-shirts
We gotta lotta shirts to sell!



Once we got things set up, our marching orders broke down into three tasks: selling merchandise, kibitzing with artists, and covering each other so we could eat/pee. Naturally I took photos:


Nick Gucker wearing a hat, scowling, and holding a knife
Nick "The Hat" Gucker telling me to go away.




Cody Goodfellow and Nick Gucker laughing
Cody Goodfellow enjoyed how Nick Gucker scared me away. He laughed long and hard.





Liv Rainey-Smith and Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Besides both having hyphenated names, Liv contributed an illustration to Silvia's project She Walks in Shadows, which recently has made the MRAs very sad. That much awesome in one photo naturally produces lens glare.



After vending Liv went to the opening reception in a very hot church; I had a nice long nap in the hotel (overzealous air conditioning REALLY IS the bomb, folks). From there we headed to the artist's reception at the Providence Art Club. The show stealer in our opinions was Santiago Caruso, whose primary medium is ink and scratch board. His finely crafted illustrations show a level of skill and thought that one doesn't often see in illustration work, and the originals are well worth their four-figure price tags. Liv didn't get into the show this year (we think this was because she was in the art show in 2013), but her work is showing in a separate show of prints at Julian's. Get there during off peak hours if you want to see the art.

I did manage to get a snapshot of a some of the featured artists:



There's so much talent in this shot it almost melted my camera lens. Top row, left to right: Nick Gucker, Jeanne D'Angelo, Skinner, Liv Rainey-Smith, Artist of Honor John Coulthart, (Unknown). Bottom: Michael Bukowski.



So, that was yesterday. Today we're most of all looking forward to the Non-Euclidean Science panel, both because such topics interest me as a mathematician and because Silvia Moreno-Garcia is one of the panelists. It will be interesting to see whether She Walks In Shadows comes up.
maxomai: dog (dog)
Liv and I flew in to Providence today. The festivities don't start until tomorrow, and many of our friends (I'm looking at you Nikki) elected to take an ultra-red-eye trip and get here the next morning sleep deprived as shit and incoherent and unable to check into their hotels until late afternoon raring and ready to go. We're older and lamer so we chose to come in today and try to get a good night's sleep before vendor set-up starts at 8AM.



houses and trees from 10,000 feet or so
Rhode Island! I think.



Providence is hot and humid this time of year, as opposed to being hot and dry back in Oregon. To combat this, the hotel has the air conditioning cranked pretty high. The hallways are almost as humid as the outdoors, but the rooms themselves are practically freezing. Not that I'm complaining. Freezing rooms are awesome in summer!

So far we've run into a smattering of convention goers, and one Silvia Moreno-Garcia at the airport, who was kind enough to say hello. I also know that Brian and Gwen of Sigh Co Graphics have reported in, in accordance with prophecy.

Those of you who expect me to talk about politics all the time won't be too disappointed. We did run into one gent who was rather unhappy with Governor Lincoln Chafee and Democrats in general. It made me think of a joke:

Q: Is Lincoln Chaffee a Republican or a Democrat?
A: Maybe.

One of the convention-goers also mentioned that Donald Trump would, if elected President, let Carl Icahn negotiate with China. I'm not sure if this idea is brilliant or homicidal.
maxomai: dog (Default)
Happy hump day everyone! Liv and I are flying to Providence, and I'm using the plane's wifi since I can't sleep. Meanwhile, here's some miscellany for you:

maxomai: dog (Default)
By now most of you have figured out that [livejournal.com profile] skeletoncrew is the woodcut artist Liv Rainey-Smith, and I have comfortably taken on the role of her "plus-one." She and I will be at Necronomicon in Providence, Rhode Island this week, and I intend to blog about our trip here over the next many days. So stay tuned, kids!
maxomai: dog (dog)
maxomai: dog (dog)
PPP released their poll (PDF) of Iowa's likely caucus participants yesterday. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning Independents:

Trump 19
Carson 12
Walker 12
Bush 11
Fiorina 10
Cruz 9
Huckabee 6
Rubio 6
The rest <= 3
MOE 3.9

Obviously Trump still leads the pack by a lot, but notice with whom Bush is sharing tier two: Ben Carson, Scott Walker, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz. Everyone else falls to tier three or four. Of these, Fiorina had the most impressive gain, going from the loser's table to a dead heat with Bush.

As for the Democrats:

Clinton 52
Sanders 25
O'Malley 6
Webb 3
Chafee 1
MOE 4.1

No surprises here. Clinton has tier one to herself, Sanders has tier two to himself. The rest are all tier three.
maxomai: dog (Default)
We have the first scientific poll results after the Republican debate. And they're unsettling.

Reuters/Ipsos Poll (PDF) conducted August 6 (post-debate)-10, 2015. (For comparison, use these Ipsos numbers (PDF) sampled Aug 1-5.)

Among Republicans and Independents Both (pre-debate poll in parentheses):
Trump 21 (23)
Bush 11 (12)
Rubio 6 (5)
The rest less than or equal to 5 (8)
MOE 4.4 (3.5)

Among Republicans alone:
Trump 24 (24)
Bush 12 (16)
Rubio 8 (4)
Huckabee 8 (5)
Carson 8 (5)
Walker 7 (12)
Fiorina 6 (1)
The rest le 5 (le 7)
MOE 6.7 (6.0)

Among Independents alone:
Bush 13 (7)
Trump 12 (18)
Paul 9 (5)
Christie 9 (9)
Rubio 7 (4)
The rest le 5 (le 5)
MOE 10.5 (9.5)

There is good news and bad news here for the Republican establishment. The good news is that their annointed candidate, Jeb Bush, has gained support among independents. The bad news is that Trump's crass behavior and pathetic closing statement at last week's debate appears to have hardly dented his numbers with the Republican base, even as he apparently has alienated Republican-leaning independents. The base loves Trump, and will keep loving him as he decimates the GOP's appeal to anyone not in the base. Meanwhile, Jeb Bush has lost support among the Republican base. This puts the GOP in an unenviable position. The GOP is used to mollifying moderates and cranking their base; with Jeb as the candidate, they may very well have to mollify their base and try to crank moderates. Except that they don't have the right numbers of either to do that.

Reuters/Ipsos also polled head-to-head match-ups of Hillary Clinton against several Republican candidates, and she leads all of them by double digits:

MOE 4.4

Clinton 41
Bush 29

Clinton 44
Walker 24

Clinton 42
Christie 25

Clinton 44
Carson 24

Clinton 41
Cruz 27

Clinton 41
Rubio 28

Clinton 43
Trump 29

I'm not happy with the MOEs on this poll, and Ipsos Online got a C+ in FiveThirtyEight's pollster ratings. But, their polls also lean Republican, and this poll is consistent with other polls we've seen that give Clinton a commanding lead.
maxomai: dog (Default)
Thursday, Thursday, gotta get down on Thursday....


  • Today is the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. It's a good time to take note that it will cost us nearly a trillion dollars to upgrade our nuclear arsenal. For that kind of money, we could build a high-speed rail system and still have enough to build enough wind power for 100 million homes (at 2KW/home average and $2M per megawatt of generation). Again: it's not about fiscal responsibility, it's about priorities.

  • Martin O'Malley is pissed that the DNC is only allowing six debates. I can't blame him for being mad --- debates are a chance for someone who's third tier (like him) to maybe make enough of an impression to squirm their way up to second tier. The flip side is that I'm not convinced that the general public wants more than six debates, given that there are only five candidates. Really, if anyone should be screaming bloody murder, it's Bernie Sanders. So far, he's kept quiet.

  • Speaking of both debates and man-made disasters, the first Republican debate is tonight. Bloom County is on it.

  • The big thing that hurt me while I was an undergraduate wasn't the math courses (I enjoyed those even when they were difficult), it was time management. Would that I had this brief guide (PDF), or even better, a 150-or-so page book, on the practice, I probably would have done better.

  • LibreOffice 5.0 is out! Download it here!

maxomai: dog (dog)
Because it's Thursday Thursday Thursday....


  • Last week Turkey agreed to let us use their air bases to bomb ISIS. This week Turkey has started bombing the Kurdish faction PKK. (This is almost certainly not a coincidence, and it tells us what Washington traded for those air bases.) By bombing the PKK, Turkey unilaterally ended a two year cease fire and leading to PKK retaliation. By the way, PKK was also fighting ISIS. Thus Turkey is now fighting two separate battles, and the Syrian Civil War becomes the biggest clusterfuck since the Thirty Years' War.

  • Rumsfeld finally admits that Bush was wrong on trying to turn Iraq into a democratic state, thus, in a sense, repudiating one of the big arguments in support of the Iraq war. Still no word on whether Bush or anyone else admits they were wrong about invading Iraq in the first place.

  • Justin Raimondo thoroughly skewers Rand Paul.

  • Amnesty International declares that Israel's 2014 bombing of Gaza was a war crime. Get the full report in PDF form here.

  • This analysis of why eventually electric cars will take over is riddled with problems. Problem number one: how do you charge your car overnight if you don't have a dedicated place to park, or one that's at least close to an outlet? Back when I was a Howard Dean fanboy, SC and I lived in an apartment complex with one (1) space for both of us. My parking space was a block away. See the problem? Never mind that the complex was a shithole such that running an extension cord to my car would be an invitation for some tweaker to steal my extension cord. I think you can address the issues by coming up with other solutions (such as charging at the gas stations the author thinks will go out of business), but man, this guy needs to check his privilege.

  • SC on the making of Signum Adventit, a new wood block print available exclusively through the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival Kickstarter Page. Seven days left! Reserve yours now!

maxomai: dog (dog)
If you all don't read Bruce Schneier's blog, you should.

Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] bruce_schneier at Bizarre High-Tech Kidnapping

This is a story of a very high-tech kidnapping:



FBI court filings unsealed last week showed how Denise Huskins' kidnappers used anonymous remailers, image sharing sites, Tor, and other people's Wi-Fi to communicate with the police and the media, scrupulously scrubbing meta data from photos before sending. They tried to use computer spyware and a DropCam to monitor the aftermath of the abduction and had a Parrot radio-controlled drone standing by to pick up the ransom by remote control.



The story also demonstrates just how effective the FBI is tracing cell phone usage these days. They had a blocked call from the kidnappers to the victim's cell phone. First they used an search warrant to AT&T to get the actual calling number. After learning that it was an AT&T prepaid Trakfone, they called AT&T to find out where the burner was bought, what the serial numbers were, and the location where the calls were made from.



The FBI reached out to Tracfone, which was able to tell the agents that the phone was purchased from a Target store in Pleasant Hill on March 2 at 5:39 pm. Target provided the bureau with a surveillance-cam photo of the buyer: a white male with dark hair and medium build. AT&T turned over records showing the phone had been used within 650 feet of a cell site in South Lake Tahoe.



Here's the criminal complaint. It borders on surreal. Were it an episode of CSI:Cyber, you would never believe it.

maxomai: dog (dog)
EDIT You can mitigate the damage this vulnerability does by shutting off auto-loading of MMS messages. This article tells you how to do it.

Originally posted by [livejournal.com profile] bruce_schneier at Stagefright Vulnerability in Android Phones

The Stagefright vulnerability for Android phones is a bad one. It's exploitable via a text message (details depend on auto downloading of the particular phone), it runs at an elevated privilege (again, the severity depends on the particular phone -- on some phones it's full privilege), and it's trivial to weaponize. Imagine a worm that infects a phone and then immediately sends a copy of itself to everyone on that phone's contact list.



The worst part of this is that it's an Android exploit, so most phones won't be patched anytime soon -- if ever. (The people who discovered the bug alerted Google in April. Google has sent patches to its phone manufacturer partners, but most of them have not sent the patch to Android phone users.)

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