Category Archives: All

All of the posts on this site.

Living History

Draft, working on this post.

The following is a list of historical figures, selected primarily for having been interesting. Most either were extremely successful, crazy, won or lost key battles, or committed or were victims of atrocities. The goal is to learn history by knowing the context of their lives and their contemporaries.

Also, I want to quickly summarize their lives using geographical features and cities (rather than modern national borders).

551-459, Confucius

450-404, Alcibiades, Greece, Anatolia

381, King Dao of Chu, Early ruler in the warring states period.

375-316 “Olympias, Queen of Macedonia”, Alexander the Great’s mother

350,-285, Pytheas of Massalia, “Pytheas the Greek” Explored from Greece to Britain

367-283, Ptolomy 1, “Ancestor to Cleopatra, inherited Egypt from Alexander the Great”

312-63, Seleucid Empire figure?

247-181, Hannibal Barca, Carthage, Defeated by Hublius Cornelius Scitio Africanus

~-161, Maccabean Martyrs

215,-164, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Historical monster

106,-48,Gnaeus Pompeius Magnus, Lost to Julius Caesar

5-67, Paul of Tarsus, wrote much of the New Testament, “Reading from the Letter of Paul to … ”

69-155, Polycarp

100-165, Justin Martyr

202 Irenaeus

244-311, Diocletian, Ended the 3rd Century “crisis of emperors.”

298-373, Athanasius

437, Gunther, Scandanavia, Hungary?, Killed by Attila the Hun, Norse legend.

480-575, Saint Brendan the Navigator, See also Patrick and Brigid of Kildare

500-548, Theodora, “Mabbug, Cyprus, or Paphlagonia, Wife of Justinian, convinced men to stay during Nika riot, insisted on wearing royal purple.

573-634, Abu Bakr, Muhammed’s father-in-law, Sunni leader.

686-741,Charles Martel, Stopped the Muslim advance at Battle of Tours

752-803, Empress Irene, Byzantine Empress. Killed her own son.

885-954,Erik Haroldsson, King of Norway and Northumbria, “Erik Bloodaxe”

-986, Bjarni Herjolfsson, Overshot Greenland and landed on Labrador Coast / Newfoundland

-1014,Samuel of Bulgaria, Lost to Basil II. 99 / 100 of his men were blinded after loss, brutal.

1022-1066, Harold Godwinson, Harold II, Last Anglo-Saxon King of England. Beaten at Hastings, William the Conqueror.

1215-1294, Kublai Khan, Successor to Ghengis

1304-1377, Ibn Battuta, Major traveler. Berber. Never the same path twice.

1336-1405,Tamerlane,Uzbekhyzstan,,Murderous.
1371-1433, Ma He / Zheng He, Explorer, huge fleet, did not conquer. He was a eunuch.

1450-1500, Bartolomeu Dias, Cabo de tempestade, Portuguese explorer

1485-1547, Hernán Cortés de Monroy y Pizarro Altamirano, 1st Marquess of the Valley of Oaxaca. Burned his ships and defeated the Aztecs.

1519-1589: Catherine de’ Medici – influenced by Il Principe (2nd book printed on press behind The Bible), married to King of France, instigated St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.

1583-1634: Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius von Wallenstein – Bohemian military commander influenced by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden

1635-1695, Michael Toussaint. Became Michael of Ruffine. First Ruffing.

Respect Literacy: Blogs are the New Book

Like books, personal blogs seem to have an innate ability built-in to the medium to bring out the best in people.

Do not confuse blogs with social media.

I have been keeping this list of my friends’ websites for several years now. Many are small business sites (pillars of society), none are vanity-driven, and all of the information is thoughtful, meaningful work by people who care. All of it is good. It represents the cream of 100+ years of electronic communication. That’s a strong statement and it’s true.

If you became literate and started reading books 500 years ago after the Gutenberg Press, you got ahead. If you understand the power the internet brings to people by enabling blogs, you get ahead.

Chess News

World Championship from 24 November to 16 December 2021:

https://www.chess.com/article/view/world-chess-championship-2021#watch

Magnus Carlsen

Norwegian Magnus Carlsen is the Tiger Woods of chess. That’s why chess has become a mainstream sport! OK, that’s extreme, neither mainstream nor sport (debate!?), but Magnus Carlsen was the youngest player to top the world FIDE rankings when he reached the top in January 2010 and he has been on top since.

Magnus Carlsen’s Recent Loss

Four days ago, on 24 January, Magnus Carlsen lost to 18-year-old Russian Andrey Esipenko. It was a huge upset. The tournament schedule is here and the final round is played on 31 January.

Watch the game analysis of Carlsen’s loss here.

Two days later, On 26 January, Magnus Carlsen bounced back and won his next game. Watch the game analysis here.

On 27 January, Magnus Carlsen, World #1, played World #2, American-Italian Fabiano Caruana.

Watch the game analysis here between the world’s top two players.

How to Watch Chess

Chess games last several hours, and it’s chess at a level we cannot understand. However, agadmator’s Chess Channel makes the games watchable and even exciting. Here is agadmator’s website. Agadmator’s name is Antonio Radić and he is Croatian guy who is a really good amateur chess player and now comments on chess full-time.

The International Chess Federation, FIDE is the most widely-recognized governing body. (but their calendar stinks)

Magnus Carlsen’s own schedule might be the best place to follow. Other options are chess.com calendar, agadmator’s site, FIDE ratings, more … ?

Who’s Who of Chess

Chess has a long history. We’ve heard some of the names without being able to place them. Here are some:

Paul Morphy, 1837-1884: dominated in America, then crossed the ocean and dominated in Europe.

Bobby Fischer, 1943-2008: American who won the most widely publicized chess championship of all time, the 1972 World Chess Championship considered a Cold War US versus USSR chess showdown. I have not yet seen the movie, Searching for Bobby Fischer.

Garry Kasparov, 1963-living: longest reign at top of FIDE ratings.

Computers Playing Chess

The chess computer Deeper Blue beat the reigning world champion in 1997, and computers have not looked back. Modern computers beat all humans at chess.

Audio Terminology

Stereo Versus Mono

Stereo sound means left and right can be a different audio signal. Usually the two signals are nearly identical, but sometimes the difference is very noticeable. A stereo signal is two mono signals. Most people are familiar with this concept.

“Channel”

When buying mixers, pay attention to what “channel” means. Each stereo input is two channels. Therefore a “four-channel” mixer or recorder can often only properly handle two inputs. Indeed each channel is a separate audio signal, but if configured as stereo, there will only be one volume control for two channels together, for example, among other inconveniences. The mixer I bought is 12 channels, 4 microphone (mono by their nature) and 4 stereo inputs for a total of 8 separate volume controls. 8 has been plenty for me and I expect to never exceed it in my whole life.

Balanced Audio Signal Versus Unbalanced Audio Signal

Balanced audio uses two separate conductors carrying the same audio signal with opposite polarity. There is also a third conductor called ground or shield. The advantage is any noise picked up by the cable is picked up equally on each of the two conductors and therefore the noise cancels itself out leaving only the audio signal. The most common example is a microphone connected to an XLR input. See the XLR pin diagram below as the archetypal balanced audio example.

Unbalanced audio uses a single conductor to carry the audio signal, plus a ground. The most common example is headphones. There are three conductors because of stereo sound but each of the signals is a single unbalanced audio signal to the headphone speakers.

Microphones: Dynamic, Condenser, Electret Condenser, MEMS

Dynamic microphones use a magnet and coil to produce the audio signal. Advantages: do not require phantom power as the moving coil produces the electric signal, no self-noise, better at loud sounds, usually rugged and durable. Disadvantages: not as good at capturing detail. The most common example is the Shure SM58 performance mic.

Condenser microphones are delicate studio microphones that require phantom power to charge a “backplate.” While they produce some self-noise, they are better than dynamic mics at capturing sound detail, especially with with quality phantom power and using balanced audio signal. The most common examples are studio music recording mics and tech nerd podcasts. There are large diaphragm and small diaphragm condenser mics but if you care about that you are reading beyond this post.

Electret condenser microphones cheap and small. They don’t match professional mics in quality but they are very good and make up for the quality with small size and price. They are condenser microphones because they use a capacitor (charged plate) to produce the signal, but they do not require phantom power because the “backplate” is chemically charged in a way that does not decay for hundreds of years – pretty much permanent charge, like a permanent magnet. Note: I have had little success connecting these microphones to an audio mixer. While the description says they do not require power, I have also heard that they require 5V or 12V or 3-12V that is provided automatically by the computer or phone they are connected to. … ?

Cell phones use MEMS microphones (MEMS = microelectro-mechanical systems) because MEMS microphones are etched directly onto a silicon chip, often together with required circuitry, and they require very little power.

Phantom Power

Condenser microphones require phantom power to charge a backplate.

  • Music mixers provide phantom power on their XLR inputs.
  • Phantom power is almost always de-selectable with a switch on the mixer.
  • Although dynamic mics do not require phantom power, most will not be damaged by it. Many musicians use phantom power with dynamic mics all the time without knowing what it is and the only result is a barely-audible hum.
XLR Input and Pin Diagram

An XLR input is a dedicated balanced input typically designed for microphones.

Male Versus Female

I don’t need to explain “the birds and the bees” here, but pay attention with XLR because it’s not immediately obvious especially when buying cables. Pictured above is female XLR that would require a male cable to connect.

TRRS Diagram

TRRS stands for “tip ring ring sleeve.” The only use I know for TRRS is stereo sound plus microphone:

*Note: some TRRS diagrams show the microphone as a ring and the sleeve as ground, but I believe this was probably an old standard now obsolete that was abandoned because the audio signal could interfere with the weak microphone signal.

TRS and TS

TRS is “tip ring sleeve.” The standard example is stereo headphones:

Notice the two signals on standard TRS headphones are unbalanced, therefore unbalanced stereo. Unbalanced sounds “bad” but it is just slightly more susceptible to noise than balanced audio, an effect less important than many other factors in most cases.

TS is, you guessed it, “tip sleeve.” The most common TS example is a mono audio signal. The tip is the audio signal and the sleeve is ground.

“Phone Plug” Sizes (“Phone Plug” = TRRS, TRS, & TS)

I quote “phone plugs” because although it may be the official term, you will have better luck searching TRRS / TRS / TS. “Phone plugs” come in the following sizes:

  • 1/4″ = 6.3mm = “phone plug” = “the big ones”
  • 1/8″ = 3.5mm = “mini-phone” = “normal headphone”
  • 2.5mm = “sub-mini phone plug” = “the tiny little ones”
Balanced Audio on TRS

TRS can be used to carry a (mono) balanced signal (not common). For example, see the female 6.3mm TRS input on the XLR diagram above. The TRS input says “BAL OR UNBAL” beside it. A TRS balanced signal looks like this:

Signal Levels: Passive, Powered, Amplified

These are not “official terms,” but I would say there are three “signal levels.”

A passive signal is the signal a microphone produces for example. The signal is generated by the physical movement of the internal parts of a microphone. These signals must be amplified and are therefore sensitive to noise because any noise picked up will be amplified along with the audio signal. For this reason, passive signals often use balanced audio. Passive signals cannot even drive headphones.

A powered signal is the most common type. Once any electronics are involved, there are small amplifiers to drive the signal. Any powered signal can drive headphones, but usually not a speaker without external power.

An amplified signal can by itself drive a large speaker that does not have external power. Notice, with mono audio, some amplifiers will output an amplified signal via TS capable of driving a large speaker. You must use a robust TS mono cable to carry this signal to drive the speaker and not all TS mono cables are capable of this.

RCA Connectors

RCA connectors are common enough to warrant their own heading. They usually carry unbalanced mono signals and come in color-coded pairs for stereo.

Analog Versus Digital

All signals I refer to here are analog. USB is a good example of digital. Digital signals can be manipulated by software and digital can travel lossless over long distances. Digital has its advantages, but the conversion to digital and back to analog means delay even locally so once you are dealing with digital signals, you cannot listen to locally-produced sounds in real-time because you can perceive the small delay.

Bluetooth Transmitter

Once you have an audio signal on a standard headphone TRS, notice how versatile a Bluetooth transmitter can be with battery-powered Bluetooth speakers. Search for a Bluetooth transmitter and find many options, very affordable.

Bluetooth Receiver

If you want to mix in a pre-recorded track, a Bluetooth receiver is a great option to connect a music-playing smartphone or other digital device to your mixer. Many options, very affordable.

Surround Sound

I don’t know! I’m sure a home theater system salesman can talk for hours about it for free though!

No Mask Zone

This year, being polite requires being a bit forceful. As I have said from the beginning along with most people I know, there is a no-mask zone around me. Under no circumstances, directly or indirectly, will I be the reason you are required to cover your face. Breathe free, friends.

That said, there are many people who support wearing masks. We have to have a way of dealing with it consistently. My responses all year to even an allusion to mask support have been harsh. I have even been harsh if I perceive a failure to actively resist. After having had time to cool off, my only regret is not having done more to resist.

Being a divisive subject, I have decided the best course of action is active listening. Therefore I will directly quote the mask support I have heard and repeat it as best I understand it.

Active Listening 1

Mask supporter: “Masks are polite.”

What I hear: “Cover your face – and I don’t consider it impolite to tell someone to cover their face.”

Very well. You’ll be safe. Don’t come within two meters of me.

Active Listening 2

Mask supporter after I suggested that businesses post whether they require masks or not: “Of course businesses can post a requirement for shirt and shoes, ‘no shirt no shoes no service,’ but masks?!? … Obviously the government has to step in and mandate that everybody wear masks in public.”

What I hear: “My fear and belief in masks trump a business owner’s right to operate with open faces. Cover your face.”

Load and clear. Don’t come within two meters of me.

Active Listening 3

Mask supporter during a discussion about the various prevention measures: “Come on man. Masks aren’t political. It’s science. Of course governments have to require masks.”

What I hear: “No discussion. We have all agreed that all security trumps all individual rights. Cover your face.”

Loud and clear. Keep your distance from me.

Active Listening 4

Mask supporter admitting that outdoor masking is probably a waste: “OK yeah, they probably don’t do anything outside, but we need to show we’re all together in this.”

What I hear … ? “Join my cult. We cover our faces everywhere. Cover your face if you are near me. My government will require it.”

I’m a bit confused to be honest, but you said it. Keep your distance.

Active Listening 5

Mask supporter relating mask wearing to health codes in restaurants: “So you believe people should ignore the mask mandate, which is a health code, and not wear masks? Isn’t that a slippery slope of people not following health codes?”

What I hear: “I think I’m clever. Cover your face. My government will require it.”

You are a real threat because people will buy that line if the TV says it.

Active Listening 6

Mask supporter: “Science says cover your face.”

What I hear: “The TV says cover your face, so I do.”

Take your “science,” your science, your TV, and your mask, and shove them all up your ass … and keep your distance from me.

Mask Etiquette

Having considered, the following categories apply for me:

People who actively respect a human being’s right to show their face while interacting, including whatever “risk” is involved: I appreciate your friendship more than ever.

People wearing masks. Depends who, where, and why.

People who fail to actively resist masking: I strive to be stronger. Writing about it is a form of resistance, hope this helps.

Any indirect support for any mask mandate: you are a mild threat. I am actively planning to avoid falling victim to any government you vote for.

Direct support, any enthusiasm for masking, or any in-person social pressure to wear a mask, even out of a perceived sense of duty: I will do my best to maintain two meters from you for the rest of my life.

COVID-19 One-Year Reflection

The Pandemic in Summary
  • Fact: SARS-CoV-2 is the third known new coronavirus in 20 years – not disputed.
  • The origin of the virus: The virus reservoir and evolutionary origin responsible for the three new coronaviruses since 2002 is humans sharing exhaled breath indoors on the scale enabled by the indoor economy explosion over the last 4-5 decades. SARS-CoV-2 would be more appropriately labeled “EBSRS-CoV-3” for “Exhaled Breath Sewage Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 3.”
    • Wet markets, bats, and camels are not the source. We make the animals sick, but we don’t notice sick animals until we get sick, then we blame the animals / markets. While hybridization by dual infection between animals and humans may contribute, it is a distant second-place factor and we are simply refusing to acknowledge the primary factor.
    • Lab leak? Like the director of the Wuhan Virology Lab herself, I considered it.
    • Bio-weapon? I thought for sure no until I saw how hard governments and media are pushing genetic injections and learned about binary poison, antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) and their capabilities with genetics.
    • We will continue to see new coronaviruses periodically unless we fix the conditions that allow coronaviruses to develop. We have barely touched this issue because it would be extremely costly to implement appropriate ventilation standards and by now we may have globally committed beyond the point of no return.
  • The spread vector of the virus: The virus overwhelmingly spreads indoors, especially in poor ventilation. There has not been a single confirmed spread event associated with only outdoor activity. There have been countless thousands of super-spread events indoors that can account for the entire pandemic.
    • Prevention should focus almost exclusively on being outdoors and ventilating indoors. City-owned governments and media will not promote this simple idea because it points the finger directly at cities.
    • The virus spreads by aerosols. Aerosol = micro-droplet. This means the WHO and the CDC had the spread vector wrong, obviously ignoring evidence for almost the entire year. The WHO and the CDC corrected themselves around December. Let that sink in. Wrong on the spread vector all year. They have quietly corrected themselves now on their sites.
    • There is a very good chance the virus does not spread by droplets at all. The WHO and the CDC are still claiming droplet spread, even though aerosols by themselves could explain the entire pandemic without droplets. Let that sink in. Very possibly still wrong.
    • Aerosols, micro-droplets, and droplets sound like technical terms to you? Too complex? Let that sink in. After a year of continuous coverage on TV, most are still unfamiliar with the simple terms for the possible spread vectors.
    • If you have 10 priorities – as lurching governments now do – you have no priority. Classic failure of leadership. Common under stress.
    • It is probable and even likely that all outdoor “prevention measures” are completely useless and even cause the spread of the virus by encouraging indoor activity.
    • Masks are highly-visible and make people feel like they are doing something.
  • The societal response to the virus: COVID-19 and the response have changed everything. It is worth learning about and considering, if for no other reason, because you can make money and avoid losing money.
  • The appropriate prevention measure: If there is one specific thing we should avoid to prevent the development and spread of coronaviruses, it is concentrated exhaled breath.
  • The “vaccine”: Genetic immune boost is the solution preferred by governments and corporations, which is being frantically promoted in the media. The term “vaccine,” while not outright lying, is much less accurate than “genetic immune boost”.
    • Genetic immune boost represents an attempt to artificially boost our immune systems against a disease instead of hygienically cleaning the conditions responsible. Realistically, we are nearly ignoring ventilation. This is the first time we have ever openly declined to fix the conditions that cause a disease. I expect genetic immune boost to be unsuccessful long-term against an unrelenting onslaught of virus evolution in the indoor economy.
  • A dream solution: Fusion energy would solve the virus by making it possible to continue climate control indoors and bring in enough fresh air (AKA “make-up air”). Will we make it to fusion?
Reflection After a Year

I rarely do self-reflections, strike 1.

People are tired of COVID, strike 2.

But this is my outlet, so I’m swinging away.

Reaching the year point reminds me that at the beginning of all this I had not payed attention to any news for several years prior. I need to put this to rest so I can move on and go back to mostly ignoring the “news.” This has to be the last virus post.

With respect to prevention, all year I have done my best to stay outside when possible, ventilate when possible, do my part to slow the spread by not getting sick. Duh. The fresh air has been nice anyway. (I also jumped through the government hoops as required). I still got the virus – I think, I got a cough, fever, and lost my smell for 5 days. I’m obviously not alone. I knew I was taking chances. I predicted I would get it when I did, which is some form of success. I continued to avoid most indoor situations while I knew I was sick. Success. I didn’t clog up the hospital by requiring treatment. Success.

We all remember how we first heard of COVID-19. I received a text message from a friend on 25 January 2020 that referenced a virus in China. I responded more or less, “huh?” A few days later I remembered that a friend had returned to China (4 January) to take care of her sick father. Could it be related? I texted her. Her father had died from a lung infection in Hubei Province.

For better or worse, the pandemic consumed me. From disease history to modern disease prevention to haywire governments in 2020, I researched to the best of my ability and came to the conclusions above. While I cannot rule out most of the various conflicting explanations, the conclusions seem so common sense and the counter-arguments so outlandish that I feel irresponsible if I did not publish.

Search EBSRS3

President Biden’s First 100 Days

Trump’s First 100 Days

https://nathanruffing.com/president-trumps-first-100-days/

I tried to follow Trump’s first 100 days. I made an effort but alas I let it slide. Now when I read again what he actually said, I am reminded of how much the media distorts what he actually wrote.

My Post on Trump’s First 100 Days

I notice at the end of my post I said the same things four years ago that I’m saying now: turn off the TV and be local. Four years later I believe I can truly say I know a few people who have completely eliminated TV from their lives. That’s some success.

Biden’s First 100 Days

https://buildbackbetter.gov/

(Build Back Better? Tripling down on the slogans with not-so-hidden negative implication I guess: MAGA, BLM, … now BBB)

To Biden’s pledges. I guess two things stand out.

First, masking. I will continue to use masking as an indicator of mental illness and an indicator of people and places to avoid. Biden has declared himself the leader of the mentally ill.

Second, what little I saw from the media about Biden’s first 100 days looked like open provocation. I have to admit, this contrasts with what Biden has actually written, less dramatic, so once again the media is distorting and provoking.

Media quoting Biden: “I’m coming for you! Retaliation!”

Biden himself: “Washington DC plans to return to the usual half-truth thievery at the pace Americans are used to (plus masking attempt round two since a surprising majority of Americans seem to not value showing their faces).”

Solution to Immigration, Not a Wall

Marco Rubio nails it in 56 seconds, starting at 0:43 in the video:

https://youtu.be/6aq8OnyDeAw?t=43 

  1. Prevent visa overstays.
  2. Reform immigration process to more merit-based less family-based.
  3. Process the current illegal immigrants with the normal process.
Solution to COVID, Not Masks

This paper remains the best of 2020 on COVID:

https://academic.oup.com/cid/article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciaa939/5867798

Focus on fresh air and ventilation.

Solution to Washington DC

Defund DC. Repeal the 16th Amendment to the Constitution.

30 April 2021

I’ll give myself a little more realistic task this time around since I failed to follow the details on Trump. It will be interesting to see how long Biden lasts.

Will Biden still be president on 30 April 2021? (100 days)

Probably.

Will Biden go the whole four years?

Probably not.

Online Conferencing Studio Using Music Equipment

For a quick guide to all audio terminology you have heard and halfway understand, click here.

The #1 most important aspect of online communication is the internet connection. #2 is the sound and once you have a quiet location, the best audio situation you can set up is with music equipment. Here’s how. I will progress in the following order:

  • Capturing your local sound with microphones
  • Using headsets and splitting microphones from speakers
  • Expanding and mixing multiple local participants, nearly unlimited, including musical instruments, who hear each other locally in real time
  • Connecting all local sound into the computer
  • Hearing the remote sound from the computer
  • Mixing the remote sound from the computer into what all participants hear
  • Mixer recommendations
Microphones Capturing Sound, XLR Inputs!

XLR XLR XLR! Microphone = XLR input.

The most important rule when using microphones with music equipment is the microphones should be plugged into XLR inputs. If you are new to music equipment, XLR inputs will appear obscure, complicated, expensive, and you will subconsciously try to avoid using them. Use XLR! XLR inputs are designed for microphones and once you accept that you must plug microphones into XLR you will buy the appropriate microphones and headsets for future purchases and you will happily buy the converters for any equipment you already have.

Committing to XLR is most difficult when selecting headsets. Fortunately, the difficulty can be summed up and solved by answering one question at the time of purchase:

“Can this headset be connected to XLR for the microphone and TRS for the speakers (headphone)?”

Headsets: Split Microphones from the Speakers

Many headsets are designed to be “plug-and-play” with one plug, often a 3.5mm TRRS (TRRS is a standard headphone jack with one extra ring). This is great for one person with no instrument. Sure, video chat with grandma at the click of a button. Not set up, go. However, as soon as you add any second device or a second participant, you are going to wish the microphone signal were split from the speaker signal. Also, of course, you want the microphone to terminate in XLR.

I recommend the Audio-Technica BPHS1. The headset audio is split exactly how you want it, XLR plus TRS. Some of the reviews I read were written by podcasters, indicating that the headset is often used with professional audio setups.

Expanding to Multiple Local Participants

If you have committed to XLR for your microphones, expanding is pretty much already finished. Plug in and go.

The only thing mixers may lack is enough headphone jacks for everybody. Fortunately that problem is solved for under $50 with a simple headphone splitter, for example the Behringer HA400

Locally, Better than In-Person

Music equipment mixing is so smooth and high-quality that you can have a normal conversation even talking over each other and the sound of multiple voices in a conversation will be arguably better than without the equipment. Elderly people or anybody who uses hearing aids may prefer headsets on a mixer to just talking! Mixing multiple sound sources is exactly what music equipment is designed for. Podcasters use mixers and routinely have natural conversations over headsets with four or more people. Delay? There is no delay. There is no processing and electrical signals travel faster than sound.

Connecting to the Computer, Local Sound Into Computer

The critical point of success when interfacing with a computer (in my opinion) is to keep the ‘in’ and ‘out’ signals analog and physically separate from each other all the way to the computer. This means your locally-generated mixed sound signal should enter the computer through a sound input TRS receptacle. Maybe it will be labeled ‘mic in’ on the computer, maybe ‘audio in.’ At a minimum, you should be able to separately identify the sound signal in the computer’s settings independent of what software you are using.

Connecting to the Computer, Remote Sound Out From Computer

The sound coming from the remote person (or people) from the computer must be fed into the mixer to be heard by all the local participants. The tricky thing here is, the remote sound should be heard by the local participants, but NOT mixed into the sound fed to the input on the computer. If the remote sound is fed into the computer, the remote person will hear himself on the internet delay, or “echo,” which most of us have experienced and we know it is nearly intolerable depending on the volume of the echo.

Note: some conference software may automatically cancel the echo but it’s better not to rely on the software.

Fortunately, many music mixers are designed to allow musicians to listen to a recorded music track that they don’t want recorded – because it’s already recorded and that’s how they are listening to it. This is perfect for conferencing because the remote sound can be fed into this input and deselected on the mixed output that is connected to the computer. The mixer then only sends sound produced locally, but the local participants hear the remote sound as though they are “recording over it.”

Mixer Recommendations

Almost all mixers will have XLR, phantom power, TRS inputs, at least one output, separate volumes for each input, etc. Being able to deselect one input from mixing to one output to eliminate the echo feedback into the computer is a bit unique. Below are two recommendations that have the capability.

On the Behringer XENYX 1202, you can plug the computer remote audio into the “2-TRACK” RCA input, deselect “2-TR TO CTRL ROOM” and use the “CTRL ROOM OUT” to send to the computer as it will include all audio except the remote audio. Local participants then hear everything over the headphone out. Perfect.

The Behringer XENYX 502 has a similar setup, but notice only one XLR input.

Cables and Adapters

The variety and number of cables and adapters is as many as there are combinations of plug types. See the cable requirements in an example setup below:

[setup diagram]

Expanding Notes

Internet conferencing lives and dies by the sound. Minimum quality sound is absolutely necessary to make online conferencing viable and really good sound can often make video nearly unnecessary in many situations.

Most people shy away from using music equipment for computer sound because it appears complicated and it is “not made for conferencing.” I think that’s why anyway? Maybe people feel like using professional equipment makes the online situation permanent? Maybe they assume it’s expensive? Really though, why not?

Regardless of the reason, musical sound equipment is the highest quality and most versatile, especially for the price. As an electrical engineer and amateur musician, I believe music equipment is the overall best solution to online conferencing sound. I would caveat that with the following statements:

  • You should commit to using music equipment and analog electric signals entirely up to the point where the sound enters the computer. The sound should be completely mixed before it gets digitized.
  • Attempting to take short-cuts mixing in the computer will complicate to the point you regret the attempt.
  • The primary complication is interfacing the music equipment with the computer, but if you commit to separating the signals, you simplify this.
  • A secondary complication is interfacing microphones of headsets that are often designed to connect to computers and conferencing and not music equipment. See the XLR / microphone discussion above.
  • Music equipment produces near perfect sound and being the analog electrical equivalent of real sound, your set-up does not “go obsolete” like digital equipment and software does. Computers must interface with analog audio at some point and electrical audio signals cannot become obsolete. (Watch me eat these words somehow? Never say never?)
  • Regardless of purpose-made conference system marketing, online conferencing set-up is always complicated.

Storming the Capitol, War Movies, and Defund DC

I have always thought war movies are stupid. Now that I have seen what Americans think war is, I can accurately identify why.

My Glorious War

I have been to war. I spent a total of one year in Afghanistan as a transport helicopter pilot. This is how an infantry Marine would politely describe my experience for me:

“Sir, you lived on camp cupcake. You slept in air crew air conditioning every night and had a hot shower most nights. You ate like a king three meals a day and shit on a toilet whenever you wanted. You never made the decision to pull a trigger to kill, you were ‘shot at’ one time and the enemy didn’t have snowball’s chance in hell to hit you. In four deployments, nobody in your unit was killed and only a few were hurt badly enough to be sent home. Nobody received so much as a scratch from the enemy. Thanks for the lift, sir, but you didn’t really see war.”

Infantry Marine, thanks to God, the US government, the USMC, Chesty Puller, good logistics, effective leadership – and most importantly your efforts on the ground, your description is absolutely accurate.

A year flying transport helicopters out of “camp cupcake” was my experience with war. It was no World War 1 trench, but when I see a riotous, frustrated mob walk into the capital building thinking they are starting some conflict, I see a bunch of soft, pampered, TV-saturated fatsos who barely have the attention span to bring a cooler and sunscreen to their picnic conflict. From what I heard, three of the five deaths were attributed to heart attack or stroke … ? Is this true? Some preparation.

War Movies and Video Games

“You have to see Saving Private Ryan, the bullets whizzing overhead are so realistic.” – If the movie didn’t make you physically cringe uncontrollably and say a spontaneous prayer, then no. One training throw of a hand grenade or close proximity to a 50-caliber machine gun being fired are the cure to believing that Saving Private Ryan is realistic. No speaker in the world can imitate the explosive concussion of a single hand grenade or a 50 cal. It is not a “sound,” it is an emotional experience bordering on religious. Trust me.

“What do you think of Band of Brothers? Is war like that?” David Schwimmer looking stupid is about the most realistic part of that show. Plan and enjoy a week-long camping trip with three friends or your family and you’ll know more about war than David Schwimmer and his merry band of whiners ever will with their endless strings of ironic one-liner complaining.

“Braveheart … Freedom!” William Wallace’s wife was beaten and then executed. His friend’s wife was raped. In the end he had his guts ripped out in public. Scotland voted to remain in the UK in 2014. Glorious.

Waste of time, and worse, now we have mobs of people who believe violence is an end in itself.

How many Americans have now grown up spending thousands of hours playing first-person shooter games? Required military officer reading literally references violent video games as training to commit violence:

On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, by Dave Grossman

On Killing is recommended reading for officers in the US military. You want to know what violence and war are without going camping? Read it.

The Greeks fought violent hand-to-hand combat and logistically supplied themselves with their own families behind the front lines. That was war in ancient Greece. Tough people indeed. They had “cry sessions” after battles to overcome the trauma of close combat. They strictly forbade the depiction of violence in their entertainment.

What About the Various Anti-Police BLM Riots?

Also dumb. You want to be like them? Have those movements made any progress? Achieved any goals? You want to live in Seattle?

Work, Dedication, and a Cause

There are many frustrated Americans right now. Violence is not the solution. This is a good thing. Nobody has to be hurt or killed to get what we want.

We are frustrated with a central government that has grown too powerful and does not listen to you or care about you. You directly fund bloated Washington DC and the corporations that support it with your lifestyle, habits, money, and data. This is what you do to “fight” it:

  • Go outside. Go camping. Get in shape.
  • Cut all entertainment subscriptions including cable and Netflix.
  • Save money.
  • Support local food at farmer’s markets.
  • Learn a trade at a technical school.
  • Start a blog.
  • Lifetime boycott all social media.
  • Recycle your TV. Lifetime boycott all television.
  • Support local sports. Join a league. Join a gym. Occupy basketball courts. Occupy golf courses.
  • Lifetime boycott pro sports. They sold out. Sports are not television. Sports are not fantasy leagues. Sports is not ESPN. Support a minor league baseball team in person. Support the local D-3 student athletes and inspire your kids to participate like that. Life lessons.
  • Lifetime boycott college sports unless you or family are participating. D-1 sports never really represented university academics and universities folded with the rest during the pandemic.
  • What will you do with all the extra time? Learn to play an instrument. Start a garage band. Learn painting or photography.
  • Learn to cook healthy food.
  • Start a garden or organize a community garden.
  • Hunt. Support the humane lives of animals we eat. Stop supporting processed food corporations.
  • Like guns? Connect at the local shooting range. Support the local FOP. Learn who your sheriff is and what he stands for.
  • Prepare to home-school your kids as necessary. Organize with other parents around youth sports.

Repeal the Sixteenth Amendment. Defund DC.

Not easy, but the right thing to do.

Defund DC

Defunding is a strategy. The closest war word is “siege” and it is an effective strategy, especially long-term. Cutting off supplies is extremely effective.

Amateurs talk strategy and tactics. Professionals talk logistics and sustainability.

I support Americans for Tax Refrom: https://www.atr.org/about

Repeal the Sixteenth Amendment. Defund DC.

BRIC-US

What do Brazil, Russian, India, China, and the United States have in common? We all have capital cities that are geographically isolated from the populace by sheer size.

BRIC-US account for five of the seven largest countries in the world by area.

Brasília, capital of Brazil. Brasília’s population of 4.3 million is just 2.1% of Brazil. Distance to other major population centers: 16 hours to Rio de Janeiro / São Paulo, 30 hours to Salvador, 28 hours to the mouth of the Amazon River, more than 30 hours to Recife, Natal, or Fortaleza.

Moscow, capital of Russia. Moscow’s population of 12.5 million is 8.5% of Russia. Distance to other major population centers: 8 hours to St. Petersburg, 45 hours to Novosibirsk. Notable quiz question: how many cities in Russia are there with population over 2 million? Just two: Moscow and St. Petersburg. Wow.

New Delhi, capital of India. New Delhi’s population of 26.5 million is just 2.0% of India. Distance to other major population centers: 24 hours to Mumbai, 36 hours to Bangalore, 28 hours to Kolkata.

Beijing, capital of China. Beijing’s population of 21.5 million is just 1.5% of China’s population. Distance to other major population centers: 12 hours to Shanghai, 22 hours to Guanzhou, 28 hours to Xinjiang.

Washington DC, capital of the US. DC’s population of 6.2 million is 1.9% of the US population. Distance to other major population centers: 7 hours to Boston, 10 hours to Atlanta, 11 hours to Chicago, 21 hours to Houston, 39 hours to Los Angeles.

Social Programs

What happens if you administer education out of Brasília? Favelas. Brasília does not care.

How is Beijing on human rights? Xinjiang, what do you think? Concentration camps. Reeducation. Dystopia. Beijing does not care.

What are the chances of a fair election against Putin? Alexei Navalny, would you say Moscow meddled in your election? Dictatorship. Moscow does not care.

How is Washington DC doing on health? Multi-generational obesity epidemic feeding a bloated, confusing wealth care system that even the nurses don’t respect. We have a disease management system that profits from chronic illness and lobbies DC to continue poisoning Americans with high-fructose corn syrup, GMOs, sedentary lifestyles, and television advertisements for unnecessary pills whose side effects require more pills. Washington DC does not care.

Political Science

Want to give me a dissertation on why some large isolated capitals are okay and not others? Want to lecture me on why Washington DC is actually just fine? I am not a poli-sci major because I studied when I was in college and stuck with a real degree. Poli-sci graduates, your four years education is a bunch of details that cloud your common sense.

Common sense: sending tax money directly and automatically to a capital isolated from more than 90% of the population by more than an 8-hour drive is a horrible idea.

Follow the Money

What happens if I send my tax money along with millions of other people to a city completely separated from the population it “represents,” specifically designed to distribute tax money? Corruption. Cesspool. Swamp. Career politician = dictator.

In the US, people got frustrated and elected a reptile to fight a swamp full of reptiles. The professional thieves in DC have now ejected the foreign reptile and they think their swamp is safe to continue misrepresenting Americans and selling out to corporations.

BRIC-EU?

Hell no. Europeans from Dublin to Madrid to Berlin to Athens are not stupid enough to send 20-30% of their income directly and automatically to Brussels. They are paying attention. We need to.

Drain the Swamp

Sounds like I support the storming of the capitol, doesn’t it? Sounds like I support Trump maybe?

Absolutely not. Debacles both of them.

There is one fundamental aspect about America that feeds the corruption. The professional politicians in the swamp of Washington DC know it. Direct income taxation. Americans’ income gets siphoned directly from our paycheck before we even see it to get mad about paying it. The professional bureaucrat thieves from DC set it up that way purposely. Even state sales taxes do not have such an insidious arrangement – we see the price we pay and then the state sales tax gets added and we notice it and bitch about it. Even foreigners visiting the US complain about sales taxes.

$3.9 Trillion

$3.9 TRILLION per year quietly, voluntarily, automatically gets directed from Americans to far away Washington DC to fund the embarrassing circus of corruption that we show the world. It needs to end.

To put $3.9 trillion in perspective, which is just the income tax revenue of the US government in Washington DC:

$3.9 trillion would rank fourth in the world as a country’s GDP behind only the US (of course), China, and Japan. That means $3.9 trillion is more than the entire GDP of Germany. $3.9 trillion is more than the entire GDP of the UK. $3.9 trillion is more than the entire GDP of any individual European country. $3.9 trillion is more than the entire GDP of India.

$3.9 trillion sent to one city causes corruption: Washington DC really is a swamp.

The Solution

There is only one way to fix Washington DC. The bad news is it is difficult. The good news is it is straightforward and effective. We must repeal the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Do this and America survives. Do it not and we continue to directly fund the DC swamp.

Defund DC. Repeal the Sixteenth Amendment.

The money does not disappear. DC does not disappear. The money gets directed to local and state governments where real people are paying attention. The taxes get managed by people who are not separated from their constituents by a continent that allows them to thieve at will. The taxes get managed locally by mildly shady local politicians who have to consider what their neighbors think. Local politicians are shady but get the job done. Career politicians are criminals.

Republicans, you want to drain the swamp? Do it. For real.

Democrats, you want representative socialism? Do it – but pay attention. Administer it from Boston Massachusetts, Austin Texas, Saint Paul Minnesota, Columbus Ohio.

Bernie followers, you want free universities? The systems are already in place. California public universities are already free. In-state tuition is already low in most states. Make it lower, but do it from that list of capital cities that are within a morning’s drive from all of their people who pay for it and benefit from it.

The US Versus BRIC and MORE Government

What separates the US from the BRIC countries? One thing has historically made the US the world leader and not among a list of huge countries that remain in the third world (BRIC). The one thing is our public schools. Our public schools are locally-funded and give the vast majority of Americans at least a chance at college prep. Our public schools are effective local government.

You want to tell me the US is becoming a third world country? I know. That’s the point. This is why and this is how to fix it.

You want to complain about the US and compare us to Brazil, Russia, India, or China? Sign up your 7-year-old for an exchange program to swap with a kid in any of those countries. Millions of 7-year-olds around the world would be signed up for the exchange. The exchange 7-year-olds would show up ready to wear the most restrictive uniform you could find, no cell phone, and starve his / her way through school for a chance to be educated in America. Their parents would put their 7-year-old on a plane tomorrow not to be seen until they are 18 if their kid had the chance.

Local funding works. Fund local social programs. Organize locally.

Replace DC.

Counter-Examples

Canada is probably the best example (besides the US so far) of a successful large country with a geographically isolated capital.

Australia finishes out the global top seven and might be a good counter-example but most of the population is on the east coast together with the capital. The Aussies have to stay united or they risk becoming a province of China.

Look down the rest of the list beyond India. Of BRIC-US, except for India, each is more than 3x the size of Argentina, the eighth largest country in the world. BRIC-US countries are huge. Our scales do not compare to any other countries in the world.

Argentina is the largest country in South America besides Brazil. Buenos Aires contains 34.7% of the Argentine population. If you include Córdoba and Santa Fe provinces, you already account for 49% of the Argentine population. Easily more than half of Argentines live within 8 hours of Buenos Aires. The rest of Argentina is Patagonia.

Kingdom of Denmark is high on the list only because of Greenland.

France is the largest country in Europe by area besides Ukraine. Paris contains 18.8% of the French population. Paris is not in the geographic center, and still the furthest major city is Nice at the southeastern extreme of the country, only 9 hours away. The European portion of France is the 48th largest country in the world by area. India is 6x the size of European France and Brazil is 15x the size of European France.