Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Windows 10, Linux, Elections, Etc.

So as of October 1st, our RV park is fully under the new management. Everyone is giddy with relief that Carefree is no more. Sun RV is the second coming of Jesus, Buddha and Mohamed all rolled into one. So far, things are looking up, but most of the changes to this point have been cosmetic, like firing half of Carefree's bloated management structure and trimming trees. All very necessary of course, but hardly the sort of massive reform I'd like to see. For example, our rent went up 5% again this year while my parents' rent increased 7.5%. Not earth-shattering for us, but a huge deal to retirees living on fixed incomes.

[Aside: What I love best about that little bit of neo-liberalism is that while rent, one of the major expenses for the retirees living here, is going up 5% or 7.5% a year, inflation is somehow non-existent. I'd love to know what the "basket of goods" that is used to calculate that. We already know that it doesn't include such luxuries as food, gasoline for the car, or propane to heat the house. But to come up with a zero inflation number year after year after year, it must consist of only the bare essentials like cell phones, tablets, flat-screen TV's; ya know, the necessities of life.]

Understand that this isn't criticism; simply caution. Right now, the park is looking better than it has since we moved here four years ago with more sprucing up on the way. What has me concerned is that the last time a corporation (Carefree) came blowing in making major renovations, the rent doubled. All this tree trimming and road repaving and landscaping doesn't come cheap. Someone has to pay for it. If we assume the most logical outcome, that Sun RV isn't paying for it, that doesn't leave many alternatives. In fact, I count exactly one: the residents.

But that is all in the future. For now, everyone is basking in the afterglow of all the hot, corporate sex between Sun and Carefree. Me, I sit here having my private fantasies about Nancy No-Nuts living in a cardboard box in some Phoenix slum. I realize that in reality he is likely living large on some tropical island enjoying all the money he squirreled away in his Cayman Island bank accounts, carefully hidden from the IRS as well as his ex-wife. But this is my fantasy; if you have a problem with it, go have your own. Somewhere else.

Life with Windows 10 continues to evolve, mostly in negative directions. My work PC will no longer install updates. The whole process seems to work right up to the last reboot, then the PC just hangs tight. The only cure is the Big Red Switch (which of course is now an itty-bitty black button, but you get the idea). Then Windows has to make a second attempt at the install, which also hangs to BRS. Only after two failures will it roll back. Thanks to the fact that you can no longer tell Windows that you do not want automatic updates, I had to go thru this Every Single Morning until I finally found the registry hack that stops the madness. We are also having weird printer issues, like randomly insisting that the blank paper must feed from the bypass tray, or demanding a departmental password. Not show-stoppers, but certainly aggravating when you are busy. And Win10 is a freakin' nag. Yes, I'm fully aware that I do no have the latest version of Office installed. You do not need to tell me three times a day. (Or, in the case of my home PC, that I do not have Office installed. Seriously? I also don't have Quickbooks or Photoshop installed, but I don't see messages from Adobe or Intuit constantly popping up over what I'm working on to tell me that.)

(I probably shouldn't have said that; it might give the bastards ideas. I can see Microsoft charging Adobe some large sum of money to have a message pop up three times a day; "You don't have Photoshop installed! Click here to fix this! All major credit cards accepted." Gawd....)

Debbie's PC has been having browser issues. As in the browser for no apparent reason suddenly eats 99% of the CPU. The problem started with Chrome. It was so bad that not even rebooting would cure the problem. She had to go into Task Manager and kill every Chrome process that was running. I switched her to Firefox, but the problem is still there. The only difference is that if you give it a couple seconds, it seems to self-correct. I have no way of knowing this for sure, but it feels like an attempt by Microsoft to force everyone to use the Edge browser. We haven't gone there yet, mostly because I refuse to do so on principle, but sometimes principle must give way to Just Getting Work Done. The whole experience feels more and more... well... Apple-ish; as in, "We know what's good for you, and by God we are going to give it to you good and hard!"

All of which made me give Linux another try. I ran a couple distros way back in the dark ages and just gave it up as too much work. As I said above, at some point standing on principle needs to give way to Just Getting Work Done. So I said screw Linux and jumped back into the Microsoft universe. But all through the last decade, I was hearing from those who stuck with Linux (mostly Bob Thompson) and their ups and downs. A lot of the issues seem to be getting resolved, and with our current Win10 travails in mind, I finally hit the Linux Mint web page and now have Mint 18 Cinnamon 64-bit running as dual boot. I haven't had much time to play with it, but I've already found a problem. Amazon video doesn't work because of the DRM that Amazon uses. Now I hate DRM as much as the next guy, but we lost this fight. DRM is here to stay. What I like about Mint is that when I search for a solution, I find a solution rather than twenty pages of how I'm such a tool for giving in to the man, blah blah blah. Again, I just want to watch a damn video. I'm too old and too tired to waste my time sticking my tongue out at Mom and Dad when they're not looking. As a backup solution, I think my DVD player can access Amazon, Netflix, etc. as can my TV IIRC. But in any case, no big. I'll likely keep playing with it until I get bored, nuke the partition and add it back to my NTSF C: drive. Or I figure out how to live with Mint and maybe, just maybe, it's Win10 that gets nuked. We'll see.

Not that 2016 isn't already going by fast enough, but can I please just go to sleep and wake up on November 9th? I may go into berserker mode if I have to sit through any more political ads or get one more phone call. It doesn't matter if it's Hill&Bill or The Donald; the economy is heading for another Great Recession (Did the last one end? I can't tell....) and the only difference this election will make is who gets blamed. I fully expected things to be imploding already, and in many ways they already are. Just don't expect the mainstream press to talk about it until after everything has burned to the ground. I mean, it took them the better part of a year to figure out Trump is an ass. Us Deplorables have known that for a decade, but many of our kind would rather have an ass as POTUS than a murdering psychopath. I say lets just get this over with so the economy can get on with the whole swirling the drain thing.

Well, I need to get dinner started. And in the blessed name of Elvis, try not to shoot the TV.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Debate and Other Stuff

I didn't watch the debate. In fact, I went out of my way to avoid it. I'm with Hunter S. Thompson:
That’s the real issue this time,” he said. “Beating Nixon.  It’s hard to even guess how much damage those bastards will do if they get in for another four years.”

The argument was familiar, I had even made it myself, here and there, but I was beginning to sense something very depressing about it.  How many more of these goddamn elections are we going to have to write off as lame, but “regrettably necessary” holding actions?  And how many more of these stinking double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me and the at least 20 million people I tend to agree with a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils?

Now with another one of these big bogus showdowns looming down on us, I can already pick up the stench of another bummer.  I understand, along with a lot of other people, that the big thing this year is Beating Nixon.  But that was also the big thing, as I recall, twelve years ago in 1960 – and as far as I can tell, we’ve gone from bad to worse to rotten since then, and the outlook is for more of the same.

—Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72

As many have been arguing for some time, we have been in decline for a very long time. The only thing that has changed since this was written is that we've gone from rotten to putrid. (And thank you Counterpoint; now I have another book on my to-be-read list.)

As far as who "won", I would like to gently remind my fellow countrymen:

This isn't the F$%@ING SUPERBOWL!

One more point and I will move on to less depressing topics. Every evening, we are bombarded with Hillary ads, many of which, to me at least, seem to support Trump. Trump is running a disestablishmentarianist campaign. He doesn't want the endorsement of the Republican establishment. Every antidisestablishmentarianist ad that Hillary runs, chock full of widely-loathed Republicans like Mitt Romney (the father of Romneycare; the model for Obamacare), just further... er... establishes Trump as a disestablishmentarian. No wonder Trump isn't wasting any money on ads when Hillary is running several very effective ones on his behalf.

Now on to the Other Stuff.

One of the reasons I haven't been posting here is that my free time was taken up with posting elsewhere. Jerry Pournelle has been having an ongoing conversation on immigration for some time. Several people mentioned going after those employ illegals as a way to disincentive illegal immigration, which induced me to send in this:
Just to chime in on the conversation regarding what is to be done about illegals from a tax preparer's perspective. Going after the companies who hire illegals is actually very easy for what many will likely find to be an astounding reason:

The IRS knows exactly who many of the people who work here illegally are, where they live (or at least where they receive mail) and who they work for. This is certainly not true for all illegals, but it is true for a great many of them.

More on that in a bit, but first I'd like to clear up something that many of your correspondents have said; that companies hire illegals to avoid paying them minimum wage. While this may be true in some places, I've never seen it. Every tax return I've prepared for someone here illegally (or on an H1B for that matter) is making huge sums of money relative to the native population, typically over 100K a year.

How it works: Company hires Illegal as an employee. Obviously Illegal does not have a social security number, but no matter. Those are pretty easy to find these days, thanks to the internet. The social security number typically belongs to a retiree who no longer files federal tax returns. (I always have to laugh when some burly Hispanic dude hands me a W-2 with a name like Myrtle Vargason on it.) At the end of the year, Company prints out a W-2 for Illegal, who then brings it to me. I carefully document Illegal's information on Form W-7, essentially a signed confession to being here and working here illegally, so the IRS can issue him an ITIN. I then use this to file Illegal's tax return so he can get whatever refund and tax credits he has coming. (As a registered tax return preparer, I am legally required to assist Illegal in obtaining his ITIN and filing his taxes. Failure to assist would result in consequences a tad on the serious side.)

Great system, right? Here's the best part. A couple years hence, 80-year-old Myrtle Vargason up in Elk Snout, Montana gets a friendly letter from the IRS informing her she has 60 days to cough up a wad of cash to cover her penalties for failing to file a tax return on the money she made working heavy construction in Miami, Florida.

So what does Company get from this? By paying Illegal on a W-2, he isn't avoiding any costs or regulations, so why take the risk? Because he gets an employee who will show up, on time, sober, and who will do the work without endlessly bitching about it being too hot or too cold or being too hung over to work. Sorry, but there it is.

I assumed I would get some kind of push-back, but nothing. Just... nothing. I guess everyone is too busy trying to figure out how to make Mexico pay for a wall to keep illegal Guatemalans out of Miami....

And if anyone thinks Trump's views on illegal "Mexicans" are over-the-top racist hasn't talked to any chikas who spent the five years and $10-20K necessary to be here legally. I've seen them actually blister the paint off the walls when the subject comes up. I don't speak Spanish, but I'm pretty sure most of it would be considered inappropriate in a biker bar. Some words simply do not need translation.

Speaking of tax returns, I see the IRS will be delaying the payment of any refund on returns claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit until the 15th of February. That may not sound like a big deal to normal people, but every tax season, there is a rush on the very day the IRS begins accepting returns of EITC filers who will pay any amount in fees to get their money as quickly as possible. It is not unusual for a "poor" person to pay $500-600 in tax prep and other fees to various beak-wetters to get their refund a few days earlier than they would simply filing electronically and having their money direct deposited into a bank account. But I guess when you are getting thousands of dollars of other people's money, what do you care is some third party skims 10% off the top?

In any case, I'm so glad that I'm not sitting in Walmart all day getting screamed at by poors who will have to wait several weeks to get other people's money. From what I've read from the IRS this will be the new normal in an effort to reign in the 40% (IRS's own estimate) fraud rate in the EITC program. So at least for a little while, normals will get their refunds before the tax-eaters.

I always read John Brunner's The Sheep Look Up as satire. I didn't realize it was prophesy:
The fashion industry conceals many dirty little secrets. Its labour practices have long been notorious, with many low-cost producers relying on sweatshop production and in some cases, child labor. These and other problems have only worsened with the rise of fast fashion– cheap, shoddy clothes intended not for the long haul, but to be worn for a short while, and then discarded in favour of the next new thing.

I have a couple pairs of pants and several dress shirts I bought back in the 1980's that still look new, while the pants and shirts I bought just a couple years ago are ready for the dumpster. I cannot find anything close to the quality of my old pants and shirts at any price. Gotta love the "consumer economy".

Shootings, bombings, stabbings, riots. I don't remember moving to some third-world kleptocracy. James Kuntsler on Charlotte:
As the nation awaits the gruesome spectacle of the so-called debate between Trump and Clinton in an election campaign beneath the dignity of a third-world shit-hole, we are once again up to our eyeballs in manufactured racial strife led by the deliberately prevaricating New York Times. Read today’s front-page story: What We Know About the Details of the Police Shooting in Charlotte, insinuating that the police acted recklessly in the incident.

The facts in the Charlotte, NC, shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott are these: he was shot after refusing repeated loud verbal commands to drop a gun. A gun was found on the scene with his fingerprints on it, along with an ankle holster. Video recordings provide a clear audible record of these commands. Yet the Times story says: “Body and dashboard camera footage released on Saturday provided no clear evidence that Mr. Scott had a gun. In the video, Mr. Scott’s arms were at his sides and he was backing away from his vehicle when he was shot."

I seem to recall that in the first-world country I used to live in, there were laws against inciting a riot. I guess they don't have those here.

What I'm trying to figure out is if the people running the Times think the consequences of their actions won't or can't reach them, or if they are stupid, or if they are suicidal. Everyone knows the role played by these race baiters, and not just at the Times, in the long sad list of "protests" in our cities. As I've said before, God created lampposts for a reason.

And if you don't want to be shot during a "protest" that involves breaking windows, setting fires and looting, remember Niven's Laws:

Never throw shit at an armed man.
Never stand next to someone who is throwing shit at an armed man.

And I really need to get some things done around here. I'll leave you with a bit of reading homework:

F-35: Complete Fail

Terrorism in the US: How Did it Happen?:
Like Britain, we assume everyone will eventually become Western and enjoy the same liberties we do if we can just get through this rough patch. The time for this level of naïveté has passed. We are no longer importing “huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” We are importing people who want to choke us to death. As Sadiq Khan himself proudly stated, “Social integration does not work.” To hell with them for coming here with that attitude—but to hell with us, too, for allowing them.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Lost Month

It's been a while, for reasons good and bad. Lessee; where did I leave off?

Oh yea. Windows 10. The deadline for a free upgrade was coming up quick, so I told the administrator it was decision time: Either we upgrade to Win10 or stay with Win7 until support goes off. I knew everything we used would work under Win10 except one bit of proprietary software from Moose International that is absolutely required for us to run a lodge. We had been assured that it would work, but we didn't know of any lodges that had upgraded. So we picked a weekend when it was just me in the office. I would start with my PC, check for any problems, then do the second PC, which is the only one running said proprietary software. Long story short, it all went well other than a few minor glitches that I was mostly able to quickly iron out. We do have one piece of software that you cannot see the menu because the default Windows background color for the menu bar (which the software uses) was changed from blue to white, but the software uses a custom menu font that is also white. Why someone would choose to use the Windows menu bar color and not the text color is beyond me. Either go all the way with a custom UI or use the OS defaults. The fix was to upgrade to the latest version. And that's where things get interesting.

Over the last year of working in the office, I've noticed that nearly all the purchased software was many revisions out of date. I knew the lodge had hit a financial rough patch several years back, so I didn't think much of it. I figured at some point I would look at what we were still using and if significant amounts of money were involved, send proposals to the board to get caught up. However, it seems that at some point in the deep dark past, someone decided to save a little money by purchasing the student versions of most of the software we use. (Not many college students in a Moose Lodge, so I'm assuming some sort of minor fraud was involved there.) That means there is no simple upgrade path. We basically have to pay full freight to get the current versions. Some of them are no big deal; the full versions are in the $50 neighborhood (which really makes me question the logic of buying the student version in the first place...), but a few of them are going to cost us a couple hundred each. That may be a tough sell. I'll be looking into just what we use those for and if we really need them. My suspicion is that we do not.

While I'm on Windows 10: I tried out a skin that is supposed to make the Windows 10 menu look like Windows 7. It worked, sort of. It was agonizingly slow and interfered with the auto-hide on the task bar. Eventually, I got tired of it and uninstalled the thing. The one feature that I liked was the easy access to the control panel and other system settings, but once I learned the WindowKey-X trick, I never again used the Start menu to access those things anyway. So today, I decided to eliminate it, even if that means having to see the latest tweet from realDonaldTrump every single time I hit the Start button.

So; why this place went dark for a month. First, the good reason: This being an even-numbered year, Debbie's family had its biannual reunion on August 6th. Her and her brothers had gone in together and rented a house on Burt Lake for the week after the reunion. We decided to drive up as that would be cheaper than flying and renting a car for over a week. The trip was mostly uneventful, other than the car overheating in Atlanta like it always does. No explanation for it. It doesn't have a problem driving in any other place, climate, temperature, altitude, anything. But as soon as we get about ten miles outside of Atlanta, the temperature gauge starts climbing. We can keep it in check by shutting off the AC until we get out the other side of Atlanta, then we can turn the AC back on and all is well. I assume Atlanta is some sort of hell-mouth. Anyway, other than that, no problems, just long and boring. We spent a day with my parents and got to see all the nieces, nephews, grands, etc.
The house with its new paint job.

A couple goofy people showed up.

Then a whole bunch of goofy people came. 

More goofy people.

Somebody let a monkey in the house.

Everybody on the swings.

We happen to be there on Matthew's birthday, so CAKE! ICE CREAM!

Then the rest of the way up to Camp Pet-o-se-ga on Saturday.

We're Here! We're Here! We're Heeeere!

We spent the day mostly eating and sitting around deciding if we could eat some more.

Cooking lunch and getting a free arm hair removal.


Then off to the cabin on the lake.

The cabin.


Another sunset.

Everyone playing with the tubby toys.
Then it was another long boring slog back to Florida and work.

Now the bad reason for it being so quiet here. After a couple normal days back at work, it was the administrator's turn to take a vacation, which meant I got to work 12 days in a row for 10-12 hours a day. Today was my first day that I was both off work and at home this month. I had all these plans of getting all this stuff done outside, so of course Tropical Depression Nine decides to dump non-stop rain on us starting about 7am this morning. I was supposed to work on the lawn at the lodge tomorrow, but that ain't gonna happen, rain or shine. If it's raining, I'm obviously not going to be working outside period, and if it isn't, I'm going to be working on my own place, thank you very much.

Now, about Tropical Depression Nine. No, we are not getting hit with a category three hurricane. No, it's not even a tropical storm. That's why it doesn't even have a name. A tropical depression means that it's gonna rain. That's it. I'm sure the news has been showing flooded neighborhoods and roofs flying off buildings, but that is not what is happening. It's raining. The wind isn't even blowing. And that is all that's going to happen for the next couple days. It's going to rain.

Take a deep breath, relax, and keep repeating to yourself, "It's just rain. It's just rain."

[Update: About 20 minutes after I hit publish, the NHC upgraded #9 to Tropical Storm Hermine. (Why not Hermione? Oh, wait. Humorless government drones. Got it.) When I checked this morning, they added the possibility that it may get itself together enough to be classed a hurricane before it makes landfall. From the radar, it looks like it's carrying a fair amount of rain, but again, nothing "unprecedented" for these parts in the month of August. I did have to laugh while we were watching a little TV last night; the local CBS affiliate showed the same years-old flood footage and the same wrecked car on every single commercial break, along with the usual hysterical arm-waving and shouting about how I had to tune in at 11pm. Or DIE! It's like watching your uncle who knows one lousy card trick that he pulls out at every family gathering and expects everyone to be impressed.]

I came back from vacation only to find that The Moron and The Criminal are still running for president. I was really hoping that one would be in prison and the other... well... disposed of. No such luck. JMG had a great bit last week on the cognitive dissonance that the two candidates are causing to members of the Democratic and Republican parties, as both candidates pretty much represent the worst possible choices that the respective party members can imagine. And yet, the programming says you have to support your candidate no matter what because the alternative is so very much worse. Heh.

Personally, I'll be sitting this one out. For one thing, there isn't even a third party candidate I can hold my nose and vote for. Secondly, I don't think it's going to matter. I expect that by the end of this year, the economy will be in so much turmoil that no one will care who is in the White House come January. If it's Hillary, we can expect a tanking economy along with a heaping side o' whup-ass courtesy the Russian military. As for Trump, I don't think he even wants the job; he seems to be doing everything he can to throw the election to Hill&Bill, which goes along with my theory that the whole thing was a prank that got out of hand. I'm sure he has access to financial information that is at least as good as what I have, so I can't believe he is unaware just how precarious the whole edifice is. This has been building for decades, but we all know that whoever gets stuck with the job of POTUS in this election will go down in history as the president who destroyed America. Why would he want any part of that? Hillary is such a power-mad psychopath, she will risk anything to get the keys to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. But The Donald is just your run-of-the-mill narcissist with all the power and money he wants. He has nothing to gain and everything to loose.

Meanwhile in Chicago, black males age 17-25 are killing record numbers of black males age 17-25. BLM blames the cops. The politicians blame the guns. No one blames the gangs that are doing the killing because to do so would be racist. Good luck with that, Chicago. There is no way this can end well. The cops are pulling back and dragging their feet, meaning that in black neighborhoods, the only authority that will matter at some point will be the gangs. Assuming that hasn't happened already.

And it's still raining with no end in sight. Time for some reading.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Windows 10 and Other Stuff

We are now officially a Windows 10 household. My PC was force-upgraded several weeks ago after I told Microsoft emphatically that my system was NOT to be upgraded. But Microsoft upgraded it anyway. I could have rolled back, but as I had planned on upgrading while it was still free to do so, I let this violation of my personal property stand. I mean, life in these united States is nothing but an endless grab-your-ankles-and-stick-your-ass-in-the-air operation anyway, so what's one more insult?

The change was mostly painless. Windows 10 is ugly as sin as everything was made big and square to accommodate the twelve remaining Windows Phone users. The start menu now has some insipid Life at a Glance thing that currently tells me that it's Tuesday the 19th, and that some Twitter twit going by the handle "Lesdoggg" feels like he is in a personal hell. There are several blank blue squares implying that I'm missing out on Something Very Important.  Oh, and SHOPPING!!! I'm sure there is some way to make all that go away, but frankly I don't often use the start menu much now that I can pin important programs to the task bar. (And if they are not important, then why are they on my system in the first place?) So over all, no worse than some Microsoft "upgrades" and much less painful than many in the past.

That left us with one Win10 PC (mine) and one Win7 PC (Debbie's work PC). We had already told her work they needed to get their crap together and upgrade the office prior to July 29 unless they planned on paying the $100 to upgrade after that. Debbie has been periodically bugging them for months while the owners of the company have been pointedly ignoring her. Then a couple weeks ago, one of them finally admitted that a PC in the office had been force upgraded around the same time my PC was, and the world didn't end. Last weekend, we made the plunge and finally gave Microsoft permission to do its worst. At first, I thought that there was a roll-back in our future. Debbie has two screens on her PC, with the second one running off an external display adapter that plugs into a USB port. Windows 10 didn't know what to do with it. It was in the Device Manager. The driver was installed, up-to-date and running properly, but Windows insisted there was only one monitor on the system. Disabled and enabled the driver. No joy. Uninstalled and reinstalled the driver. Nada. Started poking around in Google and came across a discussion board thread that mentioned a cleaner tool from the display adapter manufacturer. Downloaded and ran that, then rebooted. Windows found and installed the driver automatically during boot-up and all was well. The driver was identical, across all four dots of the version number, to the one that Windows was running after the upgrade, which was identical, across all four dots of the version number, to the one that I had downloaded and installed.

Three decades later, the first rule of Windows still applies: When in doubt, reboot. Sheesh.

Everything seemed to work other than the VPN connection to the company office, but we already knew that would need to be tweaked to get it working 100%. It's now near the end of Day 2 and all seems well other than a few UI issues like audible notifications for Office 365. We'll get those ironed out over the next couple days while I'm off work.

Next up is upgrading the PC's in the lodge office. I'll probably tackle those over the weekend while I'm the only one in the office. My PC is non-critical, so that one will go first. The two PC's are identical hardware (or as identical as any purchased PC is these days), so if all goes well with the one on my desk, I'll take a crack at the Administrator PC. That one has several mission-critical apps running on it, so it'll be squeaky-tight-sphincter time while I'm running the upgrade. But I've been assured by the best tech minds in Moose International that there won't be a problem. Heh.

Speaking of sticking your ass in the air, I wonder if the blacks currently agitating for (or actively participating in) a race war understand just how out-numbered and out-gunned blacks are in the US? I see a couple possible outcomes if this continues. One, black urban areas are simply abandoned leaving the black populous to fend for themselves without cops, firefighters, utilities, etc. This has largely happened already in Detroit. If cops and whites shooting blacks is a problem, not having cops or whites in majority black areas will solve that problem quite nicely. Sure, there may be other problems as a result, but if there ain't no cops or whites, then blacks will no longer be shot by cops or whites, assuming blacks stay where they belong. This is the optimistic outcome.

The second, more pessimistic, outcome is some line is crossed and whites begin the systematic extermination of young, urban black males. Anyone who thinks I'm nuts for considering such a thing as a possibility really needs to read some history. No need to go digging too far in the past. In just the last 150 years, we have Armenia, the Holocaust, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Darfur... well, you get the idea. Those responsible for killing people in any of those places, and the dozens I didn't list, are just like you and me. They are not some sub-human species. They are not necessarily brain damaged or mentally ill. They are just like the hundreds of people you walk by every day and don't give a second thought about. John Shanahan was right: civilization is a thin veneer over barbarianism. And the veneer is looking a bit worn lately.

I'm sure this will come as a shock to those who make a habit of reading this site, but I generally assume the worst. I'm told that makes me "sick" and I really need to think differently, but the rare occasions when I have gone into a situation assuming the best of all possible worlds have, without exception, ended in bitter disappointment. I'd much rather go through life being pleasantly surprised that everything doesn't suck as hard as I assumed it would. The only downside to my worldview is when the universe manages to suck even harder than my most pessimistic expectations:

So oil prices have surged from their low earlier this year, though they bounced off the apparent ceiling of just over $50 a barrel. Natural gas prices too have surged. Yet, four more E&P companies with $1.5 billion in combined debt filed for bankruptcy in June, according to Haynes and Boone’s Oil Patch Bankruptcy Monitor:

  • Warren Resources ($486 million in total debt, including $180 million unsecured)
  • Tauren Exploration ($23 million in debt)
  • Maxus Energy ($295 million in debt, all unsecured)
  • Triangle USA Petroleum ($692 million in total debt, including $382 million unsecured)

This brought E&P bankruptcies tracked by Haynes and Boone in the US and Canada to 43 filings in the first half of 2016, involving $40 billion in debt – of which $30 billion is unsecured.

I expected the fracking bubble to keep leaking air in 2016. I didn't expect this. In one month, $30 billion just poofed out of existence. I wonder how much of that was in retirees pension funds and 401K's? On a personal level, we received yet-another letter from some energy company we've never heard of who now owns the gas wells we get a small chunk of income from. This makes the fourth company since we left Michigan. And if there has been a "surge" in natural gas prices, we certainly haven't seen any of it. Our payments have gotten so small, we don't even bother entering them into the checkbook until it's time to do a bank reconciliation.

Almost time for us to head up to the lodge for some Special Doin's, so I'll stop.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Just Us Strikes Again

The top story today is that Hillary is not guilty of anything. Never mind that FBI director James Comey detailed how the Lizard Queen violated at least six different laws. Comey simply invented a rule that says if you don't intend to do injury, you are not guilty of anything. Then our illustrious Department of Just Us stroked its collective chin, thought for moment, then vigorously nodded its head in agreement. "Yeah! OK. That's it! What he said!"

So if I decide that I will no longer stop for red lights and cause all sorts of mayhem and death while doing so, it's OK as long as the government cannot prove that I intended to kill and injure people. Oh. Wait. I'm being silly. Of course some unimportant peon like myself couldn't get away with that. Only The Anointed Ones like Hill and Bill can get away with using an unsecured computer system to store and communicate classified information, as long as no one can prove that there was the intention of harm.

In any case, it is now official government policy that Important People need not be bothered with obeying the law, while the rest of us can be prosecuted at any time for simply getting on with our lives. I'm not sure these shit-dicks understand the consequences of their actions:

The idea of the rule of law today is a lie. There is no law. There is no justice. There are only lies.

Hillary Clinton is manifestly guilty of multiple felonies. Her fans deny it half-heartedly, but mostly out of habit – in the end, it’s fine with them if she’s a felon. They don’t care. It’s just some law. What’s the big deal? It doesn’t matter that anyone else would be in jail right now for doing a fraction of what she did. But the law is not important. Justice is not important.


They don’t realize that by rejecting the rule of law, they have set us free. We are independent. We owe them nothing - not respect, not loyalty, not obedience.

And it isn't just crazed tin-foil-hat right-wing gun nuts who are drawing the obvious conclusion. Those just about as far out as you can get on the left agree:

All of these decisions point to a flawed and corrupt system that permits transgressions at the highest level of government, while the government pursues those at a lower level.  President Barack Obama’s legacy will include the fact that he irresponsibly used the Espionage Act of 1917 more often than all previous presidents over the past 100 years, and contributed to the demise of the Office of the Inspector General throughout the government, particularly at the CIA.  One of the key causes of the current hostility and cynicism toward politicians and the process of politics is the double standard at the highest levels of government.

This is serious. Ordinary people are getting pissed. Right now, the results have been mostly peaceful; harsh words, street protests, the Leave vote, Donald Trump. But how much longer will that last? It's not like crowd violence is unknown in the US.

Or maybe the answer is to encourage politicians to take dangerous selfies:

This is a list of serious injuries and deaths in which the victim or a member of their group (for group selfies) took a selfie or prepared for doing so, and their death or major injury was at least in part attributed to this activity.[1] The Telegraph wrote that, in 2015, more people were killed taking selfies than by shark attacks.[2] Other publications have debated that analysis.[3][4][5]

Thanks to technology, narcissism is now a fatal mental illness rather than simply an annoying one. Maybe someone should start a gofundme page for Bill and Hill to take a trip to someplace with tall cliffs. Or trains.

I bumped into the this little gem over at Dmitry Orlov's blog:

The artist is Gregori Maiofis. There are several images he has created I wouldn't mind having on my wall. Definitely Russian.

I should be outside taking advantage of the burning hot sun and 90 degree temps to get some work done in the yard. Or I can just stay in the air conditioning and take a nap. Probably that second thing....

[Update: About two seconds after I hit publish, it started pouring down rain. Aw shucks; I really wanted to work outside.]