Apple. Stupid.

Greed redefined.

You can get a top quality BenQ 27″ monitor, with stand for $600:

The 27″ calibrated BenQ monitor.

Apple however Thinks Different and has determined that not only will its new monitor sell for $5000 (likely using a regular LG panel) but wants you to pony up an extra $1000 for the stand ….

The $1000 stand for the $5000 monitor.

Either Apple has concluded that their professional customers base is, you know, stoopid, or they need a new CEO. Heck, they have needed a new CEO, someone who occasionally has an original idea, since Steve passed.

As for myself, I use a 30″ Apple LCD monitor in its elegant aluminum case which I bought used 5 years ago for $400. It calibrates nicely using a puck and is a joy to behold. And yes, it came with a stand included.

The elegant 30″ Apple LCD monitor.

Mac Pro 2019

Function over form returns.

Click the logo for details of my
2009/2010/2012 Mac Pro CPU and memory
upgrade service.

Meet the new Mac Pro, same as the old Mac Pro.

Solidly aiming at their right foot, Apple managed to disenfranchise a huge chunk of its professional user base with the idiotic ‘form over function’ Mac Pro 2013 which looked like a trash can. Designed to show off your fingerprints and collect dust and detritus in its open cylindrical center, the ads showed this wonder unconnected to any peripherals, devoid of the clutter of wires that so spoils the work aesthetic of the modern hipster. Of course once you added the required external storage and so on, the thing started looking like the mess it was:

2012 vs. 2013.

The result of this design disaster saw two results. AV and music pros started abandoning the Mac Pro for competent HP workstations running newly reliable versions of Windows. Those trying to stick with the Mac Pro applied a variety of upgrades to this wonderful modular chassis. These included faster CPUs, more and faster memory, fast SSD boot and system drives, and tons of storage, the latter easily accommodated inside the Mac Pro’s big box. The truly masochistic even upgraded wi-fi from 802.11b to 802.11n, masochism being the required mindset in securing those minuscule antenna wires. I have done many and the 50th is no easier than the first. The results were fine, the machine newly speedy and every bit as bog reliable. And in the event something failed, a rare occurrence, the bad part was easily replaced in minutes. The massive 980 watt power supply saw to it that there was always ample current available for all those internals and the truly enormous CPU heatsinks made for the most reliable computing platform ever.

So Apple determined they should throw away their base and the attendant goodwill in place of the joke that is the Trash Can Mac Pro. Of course there was always the overpriced MacBook Pro for ‘power users’, the only problem being that when real computing power was required the notebook would throttle back its CPUs lest they melt under the strain. The MacBook’s cooling was never its forte compared with the myriad fans in the big Mac Pro.

Now, after a 6 year hiatus with an offering that was never updated and had already obsolete graphics when it came to market, Apple has realized the error of its ways and introduced a large, modular Mac Pro chassis. Or is that ‘reintroduced’, for sticking with the original box with later CPUs and memory would have been trivial to do, and that large base of power user advocates would not have been largely lost?

You get faster CPUs with more cores and lots of options, faster memory and vast capacity, and a bill for some $10,000 if you max it out.

But, for heaven’s sake, why did they make that grate so ugly?

Everything that is wrong with America

In one chart.

Who makes the money off the taxpayer.

This startling chart graphically illustrates one of the greatest crimes in public education in the United States. It shows the highest paid public employees by occupation for every state. It does not require a sharp eyed observer to spot that ‘Football Coach’ outnumbers ‘College Dean’ by a huge margin.

And when you see the truly offensive compensation these geniuses of education earn, you had better not just have ingested a large meal:

Obscenity, redefined.

By contrast, the highest paid professor in the U.S. is Dean Takahashi, who is Adjunct Professor in the Practice of Finance at the Yale School of Management, and Senior Director of Investments at Yale University. He earns a paltry $2.6mm annually.

Takahashi creates wealth every time he steps in front of a whiteboard. His sports equivalent at a public college makes Takahashi’s income in just 4 months and creates future Alzheimer’s cases as all the battered brains he has so cruelly exploited become basket cases in their early 30s. And while he is pulling down $8 million annually his charges earn precisely nothing and have an infinitesimal chance of making big money in pro sports before their brains explode. Yet each one of these morons on a sports scholarship is denying a space to an aspiring scientist or artist and denying that individual a decent education.

And the biggest crime is that almost all of these sports coaches work at public colleges, meaning it’s the taxpayer who is footing the bill.

Karl Marx postulated that capitalism will hang itself using a rope of its own making. That process is well advanced in higher public education in the U.S. I always thought you attended college to improve your brain, yet the highest paid at public colleges are in the business of destroying brains.

The slaughter continues

America’s war machine.

National Cemetery, San Francisco.

On this Memorial Day it’s appropriate to look critically at the American killing machine, often mistakenly referred to as National Defense. Given the sheer ferocity and imminent threat from our contiguous neighbors – those dastardly Canadians to the north and the no less aggressive Mexicans on our southern border – it’s clear we need a massive military budget to defend against threat of invasion from these militant foes.

And rather than quoting some leftie nut about how much we blow on defense, here it is right from the ultra-right wing’s mouth:

US defense spending, from the ultra-conservative Peterson Foundation.
By the way, what exactly is India defending?

And that chart materially understates the truth as we spend another $220bn annually through the Veterans’ Administration keeping all those shattered bodies and brains sort of functioning. Stated differently, 24 cents of every dollar spent by the US goes to defense and military health care.

“Write your Congressman” I hear you say. “Call out this obscenity which has us denying health care to the poor while building useless aircraft carriers and billion dollar planes to fill their decks”. Sorry. It does not work that way. 47 of America’s 50 states house major military contractors. You really thing my Congressman wants to foment unemployment? The defense establishment has masterfully executed the ultimate job protection scheme, funded by the US taxpayer.

So Ike was right in his farewell address of 1960. The greatest threat to our prosperity is the ‘Military Industrial Complex’, but why listen to the greatest soldier that America produced in the past century?

Image taken on a Panny GX7, kit zoom.

The Shinkansen MinoSharp knife sharpener

A better mousetrap.

Over a decade ago I extolled the virtues of a non-stainless chef’s knife from the home of all that is culinary, France. It is – or was, as it seems no longer available – made by Sabatier in France and has been in daily use this past decade in the home kitchen. However in the past couple of years I have noticed that I have been sharpening the blade more frequently and that seems attributable to the drop off in performance of the Chef’s Choice 130 motorized sharpener whose fine grinding wheel is about shot and whose sharpening steel has largely worn out its grooved serrations which confer the required burr to the blade to enhance cutting quality. In typical modern manner spare parts seems unavailable for the Chef’s Choice device which remains in the catalog and is now crazy expensive.

So a year or so ago I started looking at a replacement sharpener, aware in the process that American sharpeners confer a 20 degree angle whereas Japanese knives and sharpeners utilize the finer 15 degree angle. My years of using woodworking tools from the like of Makita and Panasonic have taught me that the Japanese frequently make a better, lighter product and that’s why the Shinkansen MinoSharp came on my radar. It claims to confer the Japanese-style 15 degree angle and while many will tell you that means you should also be using the thinner bladed Japanese knives, a few moments’ thought suggest that the thickness of the blade is largely irrelevant, it’s the sharpness of the cutting edge that matters. Once the cutting edge has done its job, the object it’s cutting parts ways, like Moses with that river crossing, and indeed I find that a very thick chopper cuts every bit as well as the much thinner Sabatier or the the paper thin carving/slicing knife in my collection.

The two wheel MinoSharp. Others are also available, including three wheel designs.

The Chef’s Choice 130 can barely accommodate the chopper, which I use a lot, so any replacement knife sharpener must allow the chopper to be sharpened. The Shinkansen device used no motors. A coarse (white) and a fine (pink) grinding wheel runs in a water bath, keeping the blade cool during sharpening. There’s quite a bit more to this seemingly simple design than at first meets the eye. I removed one grinding wheel, took a close-up snap and measured the included angle using a protractor. 40 degrees. But, in use the wheel is offset from the direction of the knife’s travel by a further 20 degrees. This has two purposes: first, it prevents the knife bottoming in the wheel which would destroy the edge. Instead the sides of the cutting edge ride on the sides of the wheel, and the instructions remind the user not to press hard and try to bottom the blade. Second, the offset confers the proper narrow Japanese-style included angle, for the wheels are canted 20 degrees, meaning that the subtended angle of a sharpened blade will be 40 x cosine (20) degrees, or 16 degrees. Smart!

The grinding wheel subtends and angle of 40 degrees.

The wheel offset is 20 degrees

In practice, knives sharpened in American 20 degree sharpeners have first to be adapted to the finer 15 degrees result expected here. That means a good 20 cycles, back and forth, on the coarse wheel, then no more than 8 cycles on the fine wheel and you are done. Thereafter only the fine wheel need be used unless the knife in question is extremely blunt. Water can be poured into the sharpening chamber through the slots in the clear cover, obviating wear to the cover which need not be removed. These slots ensure your knife will not bottom in the grinding wheels, so the cover must be used at all times,

A thick chopper fits just fine.

How does it measure up? My resharpening time has dropped from once a week to once every 2-3 weeks. And while replacement wheels are available for $14 (Size 222) and reputed to last a long time, at $20 for the whole device you might as well replace the whole thing, getting not one but two new grinding wheels in the bargain.

Recommended, and you will not miss the sharpening steel. The rough sides conferred by the grinding wheels do the trick just fine. The MinoSharo is ambidextrous and it should not be used with serrated knives.