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Welcome to the personal website of Andrew Turnbull. This outpost features tons of stupefying and trivial things pertaining to various and diverse interests of mine. Chances are, if there's something I know about or like that doesn't much other representation on the 'net...there's a bit of it here.

October-December 2022 Archive

31 December 2022

A fine way to end 2022:

Joseph Ratzinger, rabid homophobe and protector of child sexual abusers worldwide, is dead.

23 December 2022

It was 20 years ago today.

2002 website

On a quiet December evening in the tortured year of 2002, I logged into GeoCities, dropped the first draft of this website into my pittance of bandwidth-suppressed hosting space...and held back to see if it would leave an impression upon the world.

A minor regret of mine is that I didn't do this five years earlier. In 1996, having a website was so rare and so novel that it was a ticket to minor celebrity status, allowing you to bask in attention from the Yahoo Directory (remember that?) and actual books for anything you made at all...even if it was just an unpretentious, static page with a few links and low-resolution images devoted to your personal obsessions. That window closed by the turn of the century as hordes of advertisers, IE users, and dot-com profiteers swooped in, driving the signal-to-noise ratio of the web downward and laying spoil to what had hitherto been a pristine and largely-uncommercial Internet frontier.

But never mind that: Twenty years of longevity on the web is remarkable, no matter how you slice it! Facebook hasn't lasted that long. Twitter almost certainly won't. '90s dot-com darlings like Netscape, Infoseek, and didn't even make it to the half-decade mark before they crashed and burned.

Some of the highlights from this long, strange, multi-decade trip:

I didn't create this dirt-simple website with the objective of changing the world...although I certainly don't mind if it's had that effect by opening up the minds of a few visitors. And I didn't create it with the objective of ever making money. I just wanted to create a space where I could share a few things of interest, in a place with more permanence than a forum post and with as few barriers to accessibility as technologically possible. My objectives are the same today.

Here's to the next 20 years!

14 December 2022

Pipestem State Park signs

These are re-creations of the signage used at Pipestem State Park in West Virginia during the 1980s.

At the time, trapezoidal brown wooden signs were used for virtually every purpose in the park...including regulatory signage on vehicular roads, MUTCD be damned! Signs for hiking trails had arrowheads colour-keyed to the blaze colour. I...was obsessed by this as a kid, to put it mildly.

It's been 15 years since I last visited this park, and I'd be shocked if any of these old signs were still in place. But in my mind, they'll exist forever.

Exploring Pipestem State Park.

1 December 2022

Andrew the Canadian

I am a citizen of Canada.

26 November 2022

What might happen.

Billionaire narcissist Elon Musk, aka Elongated Muskrat, aka Enron Musk, aka Elon Husk, aka Elno, aka Space Karen, aka Max Zorin, aka Apartheid Clyde, buys Twitter lock, stock, and barrel for a sum far in excess of what the website could ever conceivably be worth. He immediately fires or squeezes resignations out of around 6000 employees, sociopathically overworks the rest at 80 hours per week, and reshapes the site's content to be a clone of 8Chan or the Dearborn Independent where far-right hate speech reigns supreme.

With Twitter's moderators and verifiers gone, mass chaos ensues. Thousands of "verified" impersonations of corporate and celebrity accounts sprout up, leading to guffaws and boardroom crises. Users flout copyright laws by uploading entire movies to their accounts, turning Twitter into the reincarnation of Napster. Twitter is branded as a "high risk" platform; a wild west devoid of safety and accountability. Within weeks, virtually every reputable journalist, celebrity, and corporate account has abandoned the site as a lost cause. The worst horrors, however, are still to come.

Without skipping a beat, Elon intervenes to restore the Twitter accounts of virtually every white supremacist, antisemite, conspiracy theorist, homophobe, transphobe, and fascist on the Internet...and ban their opponents. Marginalized and minority users bail from the site en masse. Advertisers object to having their products promoted alongside unmoderated screeds calling for race war and white supremacist insurrection, and react by withdrawing from Twitter...reducing Twitter's income stream to practically zero. Apple, Google, and Amazon follow suit, delisting Twitter's smartphone application from their "stores" due to its surfeit of hateful and discriminatory content. The user base collapses.

Meanwhile, cracks begin to appear in Twitter's technological foundations. 90% of the company's developers and site reliability engineers are now gone, taking their institutional knowledge with them. Few of Twitter's remaining skeleton staff know how the website's technological stack works...and bugs pile up as behind-the-scenes maintenance is deferred.

Sensing trouble, Elon tries to walk back his salary cuts and firings, offering to rehire some of the experienced staff he had thrown out with the bathwater weeks before. It's a rare moment of self-awareness for the Richest Man On Earth. But it's too late to try. The man's cruelty as the Boss From Hell is now common knowledge throughout Silicon Valley...and potential recruits stay away, not only from Twitter but from Tesla and SpaceX as well. All of Elon's companies are affected by a loss of staff and morale, and departments are stretched to the breaking point.

At Twitter, "fail whales," timeouts, data losses, and 404 errors become a near-daily occurrence as the site slowly breaks. 90% of the company's security staff are also gone...and with the site's Byzantine technology stack creaking along unmaintained and unpatched, only a few more days go by before the other shoe drops. A zero-day security breach occurs, leaking the private messages and unhashed passwords of 1.3 billion Twitter users onto the dark web. The leak includes the credentials of former users who had thought they had deleted their accounts, and the credit card numbers and personally identifiable information of Twitter Blue subscribers.

In desperation (and despite Elon's howls of protest and denial of the entire situation), Twitter's remaining staff put the entire website into read-only mode in the name of damage control. The archive remains online for another three weeks, then goes dead as the servers are taken offline. With the company's product dead, the skeleton crew of staff are fired without recourse...except in Europe, where worker's rights prevail. In half a year, Twitter's assets have been reduced to an empty building with a few chairs and computers inside. Someone bids to buy the remains of the company...for $35,000. Elon Musk refuses the offer, and takes a $44 billion write-off.

But the heat of the Twitter fire is only beginning to rack up for Elon Musk. Due to the severity of the data breach and the wilful malice that marked his stewardship of the company, a flurry of lawsuits ensue...including one from the Federal Trade Commission, hitting Elon with a $5 billion fine. Meanwhile, Elon has already taken out $12.5 billion in loans. A billion dollars of annual interest are accumulating on top of that...and creditors are breathing down his throat. Tesla's stock price is in all-out free fall, due to it being wed at the hip to Elon's reputation...and as his reputation collapses into the pit of vitriol he unleashed, so does his net worth.

In a desperate plea to avoid personal bankruptcy or jail time, Elon Musk liquidates his stakes in Tesla and SpaceX, losing control of both companies in the process. His successors distance themselves from Musk, pledging to improve employee conditions...and kill the yoke. Elon spends his remaining days indoors with the blinds drawn, mired in insecurity, afraid to face the world.

Meanwhile, the world's computer users reacquaint themselves with an Internet in which the bird site doesn't exist. Burned by how Twitter had used its network effects to normalize far-right extremism and place users at the mercy of a narcissistic billionaire, the prevailing sentiment is "never again." A critical mass of well-known journalists, writers, and online personalities revert to maintaining their independent personal websites and blogs, keeping track of each others' updates with RSS in the browser. And unlike Elon, they lived happily ever after.

The end.

18 November 2022

Remember this ridiculous project of mine? I have updates in tow. Enjoy!

The Artifacts of A&P

  • 135 Barton St. E., Hamilton, ON
  • 845 King St. W., Hamilton, ON
  • 570 Syndicate Ave. S., Thunder Bay, ON (new picture)
  • 140 Algonquin Blvd. W., Timmins, ON
  • 105 Brunette Rd., Timmins, ON
  • 611 E. 9th St., Hopkinsville, KY
  • 502 Gallatin Rd., Nashville, TN

The Artifacts of Cub Foods

  • 615 W. Central Entrance, Duluth, MN

The Artifacts of Dominion

  • 770 Upper James St., Hamilton, ON (new pictures)
  • 1077 N. Service Rd., Mississauga, ON
  • 1090 Wilson Ave., North York, ON

The Artifacts of Kroger

  • 4714 S. U.S. Hwy. 41, Terre Haute, IN
  • 115 Walnut St., Terre Haute, IN
  • 1489 Madison St., Clarksville, TN
  • 3908 Lebanon Pike, Hermitage, TN
  • 2101 and 2201 21st Ave. S., Nashville, TN
  • 3930 Clarksville Pike, Nashville, TN
  • 711 and 3410 Gallatin Pike, Nashville, TN
  • 143 McGavock Pike, Nashville, TN
  • 3806 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN
  • 61 and 301 E. Thompson Ln., Nashville, TN
  • 1205 Mercer St., Princeton, WV (new info)

The Artifacts of Loblaws

  • 1035 Gateway Rd., Winnipeg, MB
  • 550 Kenaston Blvd., Winnipeg, MB
  • 2132 McPhillips St., Winnipeg, MB
  • 3193 Portage Ave., Winnipeg, MB
  • 215 St. Anne's Rd., Winnipeg, MB
  • 1012 Main St., Geraldton, ON
  • 1836 Regent St., Greater Sudbury, ON
  • 1521 Ontario 11 W., Hearst, ON
  • 55 Brunetville Rd., Kapuskasing, ON
  • 60 Joseph St., Parry Sound, ON
  • 3685 Keele St., North York, ON
  • 319 Fort William Rd., Thunder Bay, ON
  • 654 Algonquin Blvd. E., Timmins, ON
  • 1500 Riverside Dr., Timmins, ON

The Artifacts of Steinberg

  • 751 Upper James St., Hamilton, ON

11 November 2022

Shining a light onto racist Confederate sympathizers.

Yet another pro-slavery shitstain

It's easy to fall into the trap of being consumed by "Someone is wrong on the Internet." One has to pick one's battles, and let inconsequential arguments slide.

Any battle involving racism...especially a cause as blatantly white-supremacist as the slaveholding Confederate States of not an inconsequential argument.

So, what happened? Several months ago, I got reeled into using Zuckerberg's hellsite (Facebook) as a means to an end for history research relating to my time in Mercer County, West Virginia. I've always been leery of Facebook as a hotbed of extremism, and I knew that I'd be wading headfirst into garbage sooner or later.

Fast-forward to today: A completely entitled, racist, and tone-deaf shitstain used an Athens, West Virginia local history group to uncritically promote the Confederacy. Two shitstains, actually: One dyed-in-the-wool C.S.A. acolyte (complete with grey uniform) who typed up a nauseating, fellating thousand-plus-word eulogy about a prominent Confederate veteran from Mercer County, and a literal Karen who quote-shared it under the presumption that everyone in her circle would be impressed by a man who fought for the right to own other people as property. (The original posting was public and can be tracked down with a minimum of effort, but I'm obviously not linking to it):

As this Veterans Day approaches let us remember Mercer County's 'Last Surviving Confederate Veteran.' His name is Stephen "Uncle T" Trinkle Vermillion. [snip]

His death was a benediction to Confederate history in southern West Virginia. [snip]

He was a patriot of unflinching courage - unwavering in his belief of the right of the Confederate cause. [snip]

Let us remember all of these honored Confederate Veterans on this Veterans Day.

(And a thousand more superfluous words, with any acknowledgement of slavery conspicuously avoided. -AT)

Yes: On Veterans Day, a day that commemorates United States military veterans, they were praising and sugar-coating people who took part in armed insurrection against the United States. Three days after an election, I might add. Remind you of anything?

I, of course, immediately called her out on it...

[picture of the author]

I said:

Seriously: You're using Veterans Day, a holiday that commemorates U.S. military veterans, to commemorate the treasonous, white-supremacist CONFEDERACY that fought in direct opposition?

The one that STARTED a pre-emptive war specifically over its right to buy and sell other people as property, according to their VERY OWN secession documents?

The one founded as a Christian theocracy, that cited Almighty God in its constitution, whose leader cited the Bible in defence of racist policy, and whose motto (Deo vindice, or "God will avenge us") emulated that used by the Nazis ("Gott mit uns") half a century later?

The one that's been incessantly commemorated and memorialized by racists during periods of white backlash against black civil rights, throughout the 20th century and beyond?

The one that the State of West Virginia was **FOUNDED IN DIRECT OPPOSITION TO?**

Stephen T. Vermillion was a man whose reprehensible legacy is an embarrassment to his descendants, and the county and state in which he lived. I don't give a shit how brave he was. He should be remembered with revulsion and contempt.

Yes, I know: Mercer County was and continues to be a hotbed of Confederate sympathy. Which is exactly why I challenge you to be BETTER than this.

Lest there was any thought that this was an innocent old grandma who naively clicked "share" on something she didn't actually believe, and who was going to owe up to her mistake and be better...THIS was the way she reacted:

Karen Duncan said (and then chickenly deleted):

are you truly that arrogant plz take the vermillion street sign, I can't believe you're that racist

[picture of the author]

I typed (though I couldn't post it):

You breathlessly defend a short-lived country founded on the principle of owning black people as property, and you accuse the *other* side of being racist?!

I know that Confederate sympathizers and others on the far right have a tendency to project their own moral failings onto other people...but your discourse is so absurd and so astonishing that it's out of this world.

Karen Duncan said (and then chickenly deleted):

you're stupid about that war

[picture of the author]

I said:

Obviously an informed, nuanced, and articulate take on the issue. Thanks!

Karen Duncan said:

I'm not going to debate with you, just that a veteran is a veteran and all deserve our respect

[picture of the author]

I said:

You're the one who created this thread. If you don't want to be challenged, you shouldn't be reposting uncritical defences of white-supremacist political entities in the first place.

At this point, others joined in with gatekeeping filibusters. (Something tells me that Belinda can't grasp that I live in Canada, where the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the antithesis of all the policy points the slaveholding Confederates were dying to defend.)

Belinda Stowers Hart said:

you need to put on a uniform and head to the front lines. his opinion to be what he was is a lot more important than those of different views that have gained their rights to express them and set on the sidelines. the point is he was a veteran who served even if you disagree with which side he was on. maybe when you learn to accept what war was like in the previous years you will understand history and have some respect for all that have paid their dues and a lot who have lost their lives regardless of choosing sides. All veterans deserve respect and gratitude for serving their country and giving you all your rights you have today. Agree or not, this man was a veteran. You need to express your opinions on BDT under the opinion section if you want to condemn and get others involved and not on this fb article on Veterans Day. Good luck and God Bless.

[picture of the author]

I said:

How does declaring war against the United States, specifically to deny human rights to others, lead to "giving you all your rights you have today?" The logic does not compute.

Meanwhile, your gatekeeping and Christian passive aggression are noted. Goodbye.

The OP then pulled out the civility card, as well as the arrogant "my family wasn't capable of being wrong" excuse:

Karen Duncan said:

I have ancestors who fought in this war, and you definitely are no expert on it. many who live here also have family that fought for the south, the least you could do is show some respect

[picture of the author]

I said:

And your point is?

You've demonstrated absolutely no acknowledgement, much less expertise, of the issues that motivated the U.S. Civil War.

Respect is earned, not generated by fiat.

If you want to show respect for the victims of the war, you would advocate reparations for Black Americans. Do you?

This tripped her up, and Karen went silent for an hour. But then a third bigoted shitstain joined in, wearing his naked contempt for racial justice on his sleeve:

John Hart (whose "likes" looked like this) said:

hell no.

Karen Duncan said:

no I don't and neither do you

[picture of the author]

I said:

Don't speak for me, and don't assume that the rest of the world shares your biases and prejudices.

At that point, I was finally blocked. Ladies and gentlemen...the kind, enlightened people from Athens, West Virginia.

And I left this town when I turned 18...why?

And yes: Vermillion Street in Athens is named after the family of a proponent of the Confederacy. If I still lived there, I would advocate renaming the street after a civil rights leader...and I would commission a review of the origin and context of ALL place names in the town, to see what other skeletons lurk in its closet. Part of the reason why I had been active in this group was to learn exactly that.

8 November 2022

I cast my vote for U.S. senatorial candidate Mandela Barnes by mail, absentee from Canada, a month ago.

The ballot is supposed to contain selections for 13 races and referendums. The ballot that I received contained exactly two selections: U.S. senator and U.S. representative only. The rest of it was completely blank. Why? From the lion's mouth: "Permanent overseas voters are only eligible to vote in elections that contain a federal office."

So I've been half-disenfranchised, by virtue of being a permanent resident abroad.

As if the goings-on of the state government, its laws, and its policies didn't still affect me and the people I hold dear. It makes me absolutely sick.

This means that I have to rely entirely on the goodwill of the state's systematically-suppressed electorate to re-elect governor Tony Evers, and stop Wisconsin's descent into a Floridaesque death spiral of scorched-earth cruelty wrapped in a say nothing of downlevel races and referendums.

As in 2020: I wish that I could trust you. But I absolutely don't. Because your reputation precedes itself.

Your state spent seven of the nine years in which I lived there rewarding Christian fascists, white supremacists, and climate denialists like Ron Fucking Johnson and Donald Trump with political power. Your state rewrote its constitution specifically to disempower queer couples. Your state is the place where the Roman Catholic Diocese of Milwaukee spent eight decades sheltering and shunting around child sexual abusers. And your state spawned a slew of vile far-right organizations such as Wisconsin Family Action and the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod...the latter of which was enabled by my own freaking family.

22 October 2022

[Forced cursive handwriting]

I was forced to write in cursive from Grade 2 through Grade 6. The lessons I learned from that exercise were...

  1. There are people who value superficial appearances far more than they do the substance of anything you write.
  2. People will fly into a mad fury to defend traditions with no point.

Cursive writing was laborious, joyless, time-consuming, and felt like a sadistic exercise masterminded by controlling adults to drive any enjoyment in writing out of kids.

And in my experience, the people bent out of shape by "kids not writing cursive" are the EXACT SAME bigots and reactionaries bent out of shape by "kids learning that queer people exist," "kids not being spanked," or "kids not being forced to pray in school." Every piece of red-state "bring back cursive" legislation proves my point.

Cursive is a scourge. I still resent every teacher at Athens School in West Virginia who forced me into it, and I'm glad that it's dying. The sooner it dies altogether and no child is forced to write it against their will, the better off our society will be.

11 October 2022

[Mercer County buses nos. 50-99] [Mercer County buses nos. 100-199] [Mercer County buses nos. 200-299] [Mercer County buses nos. 300-399] [Mercer County buses nos. 400-499] [Mercer County buses nos. 500-599] [Mercer County buses nos. 600-678]

If you've made it this far, you're probably thinking "will this ever end?" Or, "has the author gone mad?" I'll explain.

These are drawings of the sequentially-numbered buses used by my childhood school district: All 629 of them, from 1936 to the present day. Some are verified from photos, some are extrapolations, and some of them are merely guesses. I drew these myself, and the whole process took over a week.

Why did I do this? Because I spent 30 years wanting to do this, that's why! And I'm tired of waiting for things that will otherwise never come.

©2002-22 Andrew Turnbull.

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