It was a bad day. A lot of bad stuff happened. And I'd love to forget it all. But I don't. Not ever. Because this is what I do. Every time, every day, every second, this: On five, we're bringing down the government.

Sunday, October 30


An Awesome Kickstarter

Font Awesome is an icon font - that is, it's a font full of icons (kind of like Zapf Dingbats) specifically targeted for web and user interface design. Rather than uploading images or using vector graphics for your icons, you can just use text in a different font. Which is great.

Font Awesome is free and used by millions of websites. The current version is 4.7.

The Kickstarter in question is to fund the development of Font Awesome 5. The lead designer is planning to go back and re-create all the icons on a clean grid, to bring everything up to date and fix all the little inconsistencies that have crept in over the years.

(One significant problem I've run into with the current version is that the icons don't all line up - think of what it would be like if the text you're reading now looked more like this. Not as bad as that, but when you're trying to get a web page look just right, you don't want to have to stop and adjust the position of a single character. They're specifically addressing this in version 5.)

They're also adding a paid version called Font Awesome Pro. Right now, until noon EDT on Monday 31st, that's just $20. Through November 30, it will be $40 just $20. And after that, it will be at least $210 $250 and probably $300 or more.

I say that because one thing they've done to promote the Kickstarter is offer expansion packs of extra icons if they exceed their funding goal. Each extra increment will add a new themed pack (holiday icons, for example, or food icons), 10 to the free version and 40 to the Pro version. If you back the Kickstarter for the Pro version, you get those included; afterwards they'll be $10 each.

And they're now 1200% funded, and have unlocked 17 expansion packs. So the full collection post-Kickstarter will be $40 plus $170. Given that the project has a month yet to run (it's only been going five days so far), it could well double that total, pushing the price to around the $400 mark.

So, if you do anything web-ish, professional or just for fun, now is a good time to jump in; $20 will get you a license for at least 2000 icons whether you're an individual or a company with up to 100 employees.

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Eight Spiders

Speaking of spiders, there's a puzzle in a game I've been playing that you have to work out by adding up the numbers given by certain clues.  One clue is the number of legs on a spider.  Easy.  Except that it refers to a particular spider in the game - and if you look again, that spider has seven legs.

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Friday, October 28



Doctor Who won't be back until Christmas, but in the meantime we have the third spinoff of New Who, Class.

It's set at Coal Hill School - now Coal Hill Academy - and features a group of plucky teenagers and their maths teacher (who isn't quite what she seems) facing down alien threats coming through the Hellmouth time rift caused by fifty years of previous alien threats.

So, very Sarah Jane Adventures?  In fact, no; it's more Torchwood than anything else.  But since this is about and targeted at teenagers, and is a British TV series, they've turned down the sex and turned up the violence to compensate.

And I'm not sure I like it.  The obvious comparison is to Buffy, but the dialog in Buffy sparkled in a way that is so far missing from Class.  It's not awful, and I'm not the target audience, but on the other hand I don't feel that it expands the scope of the shared fictional universe the way Torchwood managed (particularly in its first two seasons).

I don't honestly see the point of it.

I give it two blood splatters out of four, subject to later review.

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Apple Takes Away, And Apple Takes Away

But mostly, they take away.

Samsung has been in the news recently for inadvertently setting fire to their customers, but Apple has its share of screwups as well.

With their new iPhone 7, Apple did away with the perfectly functional 1/8" headphone jack, and instead announced a proprietary Lightning adaptor and brand new bluetooth ear buds called AirPods.

Which are (a) ludicrously expensive and (b) quote not ready for customers unquote.

And their long awaited new Mac announcement consisted of two new Macbook Pro models, where the signature feature is that there are no function keys.  There's a touch strip instead.  And...  Nope, that's about it.

No, wait, they have DCI-P3 wide gamut displays.  That's a great feature; my iMac has the same and it looks amazing.  You don't realise what you're missing (unless you're looking at a screen with a severely restricted gamut, like the 2012 Nexus 7) until you see one in person, and realise that you're seeing colours that you've never seen on an LCD display before.  And if you work with video it's fast becoming an absolute necessity.

(And also Thunderbolt 3 - a year after everyone else.)

But it's a pretty underwhelming release overall.

Meanwhile, Microsoft, stodgy old Microsoft, has released their first desktop computer, and it's a thing of beauty.

The Surface Studio is the best desktop computer available today and you shouldn't buy one.  If you work in digital design your company should probably buy one for you, but that stunning screen is attached to hardware that is slightly dated and already needs a refresh.

Critically, it lacks Thunderbolt 3 or USB 3.1 support.  In an expensive all-in-one system you need the best connectivity you can possibly get to make sure that it lasts, because the alternative is buying a whole new machine.  Which, starting at $2999, is not an option for most of us.

My iMac lacks Thunderbolt 3, but it came out almost exactly a year ago, when Thunderbolt 3 was brand new.  The Surface Studio is a niche product that has obviously been in the works for some time - and it fills that niche beautifully - but if you're not in that niche yourself you're best off waiting for the Studio 2 or even 3.

Well, I'm hoping there's going to be a Studio 2 and 3.  Because I want one, even if there's no chance I'm going to buy one just yet.

(Back during the .com bubble days I would have pre-ordered mine buy now; expensive as it is, the sticker shock pales in comparison to the Sun Ultra 5 or the SGI O2 that now occupy the top shelf in my closet.  But unfortunately, fiscal sanity has taken its toll since then.)

I think this is one of the counter-intuitive benefits of the end of Moore's Law (or rather the end of Dennard Scaling; Moore's Law will survive for a few years yet).  When processor speeds where doubling every couple of years, you just shoved the parts in a plastic box and shipped it out.  It made no sense to carefully refine the industrial design and mechanical components of something that would only be around for a limited time.

Now that it takes five years for the core components of a desktop computer to start getting dated, it makes sense to make everything around those components beautiful.  The iMac is a very nice piece of engineering, and the Studio is even better.  I'm hoping to see this trend trickle downwards, because I want these things, but I'm not made of money any more.

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Thursday, October 27


USS Clueless Archive

USS Clueless seems to be well-preserved at  If you want to revisit the site from when it was active, this link seems a good place to start.

When he was retiring from political blogging, Steven made a zip file of all his posts available.  That's also been preserved by, but you have to hunt around a little to find it.  

I've uploaded it to my own server as well, and you can download it here.

Update: Commenters have noted that the archive is not complete.  Work is under way to produce a complete archive of USS Clueless and the original Chizumatic and make it publicly available.  The server is safe and in good hands.

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Wednesday, October 26


Remembering Steven Den Beste

Steven was brilliant, a former engineer with a crackerjack mind. His old blog, U.S.S. Clueless was tremendously important in the early days of the 'blogosphere'. It is hard to overstate the importance of U.S.S. Clueless and the brilliance of his analysis. Sadly, that site went down this past week as well, when Steven's server failed. That site was immensely influential to many of us, and I am far from the only person he inspired to blog or helped along.
Thankfully, U.S.S Clueless has been preserved here.

All of this was part of a brilliant thinker that also had the ability to take those thoughts and write them legibly. He didn't do straight humor very much, perhaps his only weakness and perhaps the only category I would say I was at least his equal in. Everything else, however? There's a reason he was one of the first bloggers to wind up published semi-occasionally in the mainstream media.
I had always thought Den Beste was an exciting writer, in the sense that you never really knew what kind of Learning Adventure you'd be going on when you clicked on his blog. He had a Renaissance Man's mind; he seemed to know a great many things, and fairly esoteric ones besides, and could explain them with clarity and a great deal of speed -- zippiness.
Another sad note: Steven Den Beste has died. He wrote at USS Clueless during the early years of warblogging, and gave it up for reasons I can’t remember. Possibly got tired of it all. It happens. Turned away from the world to write about anime, like an editorial writer at a paper quitting to write about model airplanes. (Buxom model airplanes.)
Ed Driscoll
Den Beste also demonstrated how infinitely flexible blogging could be. Glenn, Mickey Kaus, Sullivan and Virginia Postrel specialized in short posts offering news aggregation and commentary, but Den Beste seemed to effortlessly generate 1,500 to 3,000 word essays on the GWOT and other breaking news events every night. Of course, they only looked effortless to those of us reading them. I imagine the work that went into them eventually contributed to Den Beste’s health issues, and the merciless brickbats he received from the tolerance and diversity-obsessed left eventually led him to focus his blogging primarily on anime and other lighter fare.
Pete Zaitcev
From the beginning, Chizumatic offered a strong editorial voice for the most competent direction and the cutest girls, as well as an excellent understanding of the classical blogging, which Steven brought with him from the political arena. Explanations and WMG/TMW were another hallmark. Did you think too that the crow in Haibane Renmei represented Rakka’s dog? We aren’t getting such insights anymore and the animeblogging has become poorer for that.
J. Greeley
In his typical way, he explained precisely what the effect was and how it would be accomplished with view camera movements, but he couldn’t figure out how someone had done it with a live model in a public place, as part of an otherwise unexceptional glamour shoot.
Marc Miyake
And yet while in retreat from the world, while enduring those permanent side effects, he chose to reach out ... to me. He and I talked about anime and the Japanese language. He was new to both of my lifelong interests. For years I had been learning from him; now the relationship was reversed.
Someone that most of us here respected and cared about has passed away: Steven Den Beste.

You can read something about Steven here. Because Steven was a commenter here over the years — something that I found very humbling — I thought that the best tribute I could write would be to republish his first and last comments here.

Unless you were around in the early days of the blogsophere, you may not have heard of Steven den Beste, and the news that he has died may not mean much to you.

But to those of us who remember him, he was a giant.

Perry de Havilland
Steven DenBeste, who ran a blog called USS Clueless back in the early days when we were all known as "warblogs”, has pressed Ctrl+Alt+Del and gone to the great blogroll in the sky. Steven and I often agreed on things, for he was certainly not an ‘idiotarian’, but we often crossed swords as well. Like me he was an atheist but nevertheless, Godspeed Good Sir, you were part of the social media New Wave before anyone called it social media.
He was an incredible writer with a gift for condensing complex ideas into teachable form. He forced me to be more rigorous and think through my positions, strengthening me and making me a better writer and blogger about politics. In a strange way he was akin to a mentor, despite our differences.
Steven, an engineer and a gifted writer, was among the most influential of the early bloggers of the 21st Century. He was named as one of the "Four Horsemen of the Ablogalypse," along with Glenn Reynolds, Charles Johnson, and Andrew Sullivan. (Johnson and Sullivan have since gone insane, leaving Reynolds as the only one of the four still carrying on.) Big-name bloggers such as Bill Quick and Bill Whittle have cited him as a profound influence on their style. I think his writings ultimately influenced everyone that read his words.
Jim Geraghty
A software engineer by trade, exhibiting a precise logic in his thinking, Den Beste was acerbic, sharp and often charmingly irascible. I recall him writing at length about people who wrote in to correct him when they were actually wrong, and he would e-mail me with passive-aggressive appreciation when I would link to him but misspell his name. I missed his playful cantankerousness when he had merely stopped blogging. He’s missed even more now.
John C. Carlton
Back when the interwebs were new and blogs had not even been a thing a few that started stood out. Especially in the more or less right thinking universe. One was a quirky blog called USS Clueless, which tended to far from clueless. USS Clueless, along with Instapundit and the blog that I’m not going to name were the three go to blogs of the early 21st Century. The blog was written by Steven Den Beste and was almost always insightful.
Bill Quick

Daily Pundit owes equal credit to Instapundit and the U.S.S. Clueless for its very existence, as both provided primary inspiration for my own comparatively paltry efforts. And though Steven and I fell out and parted ways some years ago, I will miss him terribly.

The Blogosphere has lost some great ones over the years. Steven was one of the greatest.

Michael Hendrix
It’s a deep well indeed, and well worth your attention, although there’s way more there than just what we used to call warblogging. It’s a crystal-clear snapshot of a moment in time before we really knew just what kind of darkness we were doomed to struggle against, and as such is enlightening in more ways than I can begin to explain.
Ben from MidniteTease
Whether he was talking about the three laws of thermodynamics or the relative merits of a panty fighter ecchi series, Den Beste was always thorough, thoughtful, entertaining, and hated suggestions and recommendations.

Goodbye, Steven. You will be missed.
Charles from Dustbury
SdB was one of the pillars of the blogosphere, almost from Day One.

Worse, he was about my age, which reminds me — as though I needed reminding — of my own fragility.

How important was he to the early blogosphere?



Notice the puppy blender is "Free Traffic”, but USS Clueless was Broadway, the most valuable piece of real estate in the blogosphere.

Don McClane
It may be presumptuous of me to think so, but I came to regard him as a friend, albeit one whom I was unlikely ever to meet. I was glad whenever I could do him a favor, such as download an unlicensed series he was interested in. Through him I found such eccentric characters as Ubu, the BrickmuppetWonderduckJ GreelyAzizPete, and many others. Steven was notoriously prickly and seemingly unsociable, but I think he enjoyed being part of an online community, as demonstrated by his enthusiastic particpation in our comment boxes.
Clayton Barnett
One of the greats has passed.

I’d read all of his posts on his political-military blog, USS Clueless, for years. When he started posting review of Japanese animations, I thought he was losing his mind. Turned out, he was showing me a world I’d not imagined.

Francis W. Porretto
"In the beginning,” so to speak, there were only a few bloggers whose emissions were noteworthy: more cerebral evolutions than personal jottings. Den Beste was one, and perhaps the foremost of all. His essays, which have been archived here, are gems, and not merely of Blogospheric history but in their own right. To anyone who might not be familiar with Den Beste’s work, I commend them unreservedly, even imperatively.
Wheels within Wheels
There were giants in those days, and Steven Den Beste was one of the greatest. Sadly, he’s now gone. His site, USS Clueless, was one of the first websites that became a daily stop – I set up a bookmark for it, but I went there so often that it actually became faster for me to type the URL.


Other posts where commenters remember Steven:

MetaFilter where Steven was a long-time member.

Sarah Hoyt and Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit.

Tim Blair

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Tuesday, October 25


Steven Den Beste

I got a note from a mutual friend this morning confirming the sad news - Steven Den Beste has passed away.

Although he mostly retired from political blogging years ago, he continued posting about lighter topics here at, and I've been in touch with him almost daily over those years.  I respected and admired him as much as anyone I've known, and I've been proud to call him a friend.

He's been in poor health lately following a stroke in 2012, but while he grumbled sometimes, he never complained.  So this still came as a shock to me, a tragic loss of a friend and a member of my little community here.

He will be sorely missed.

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Saturday, October 22



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Friday, October 21



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Sunday, October 09


Marble Madness

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