Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!!

Ok, so let's get the normal Christmas stuff out of the way:











And new for 2016:



I'll (mostly) refrain from talking politics on Christmas day, but let me say this: "Russia hacked the election" has to be the single most idiotic internet meme since the end of the Mayan calendar fiasco. Trust me; if Russia had "hacked the election" (whatever in the names of the gods that means). there wouldn't be any tracks for the CIA to find. Bottom line; Hillary Clinton was the worst presidential nominee running the worst election campaign since Michael "The Turtle" Dukakis was handed his ass by George H. W. Bush. (For those under the age of 45, Wikipedia has a nice summary.)

Our Christmas gift to ourselves was an small addition to the trailer:


Anyone interested in a lightly used 8x8 shed?

We also have a major water leak (thanks Krampus) that means we need to keep the water shut off to the entire trailer most of the time. And being the holidays, unless we pay for an emergency visit, we get to wait. For how long, we have no idea. We've been planning on tearing out all the old plumbing and redoing it just for this reason. We had hoped to pay for the car port/shed first, but I guess we get to keep chuckin' money out a window....

Anyway, Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 12, 2016

There's an Alien in the House

So this time I have a reason... well... excuse for not posting anything in a while. Our main PC went to the big motherboard in the sky. It started acting weird, so I did what any long-time Windows user does whenever your PC does something unexpected: I rebooted. The boot process hung at the BIOS screen. I said to myself, "Self; this is not good." But before I gave up on it entirely, I figured I'd let another set of eyes take a look at it. He didn't have any better luck than I did, even trying to boot from a DVD. He cracked open the case and right next to the CPU were a couple puffed up blackened capacitors. Really not good.

[Insert a three-day gap here. Explanation to follow.]

I hunted around for a replacement and ended up ordering last year's Alienware PC from Amazon. I set it up, plugged everything in, (and here is the explanation for the three-day gap in writing this post) then watched my Drobo choke and die. Or so I thought. After some fiddling, I got it to come back to life, but there was clearly something wrong. I started the process of moving all my files off the Drobo and onto the C drive of Alien. That took a full 48 hours to complete. Once my files were all safe, I could look into what was going on with my Drobo. Turns out, one of the drives failed and it did exactly what it was supposed to do. What caused my panic was having it connected to a new PC that did not have the monitoring software installed yet. Once I calmed down, I simply removed the failed drive and inserted a new one I had sitting around and all is well again.

While I was still in panic mode, thinking I would have to replace my Drobo, I did something that I've been considering for several years. My Drobo is the original model that attaches to a single computer via USB, which I then share to my network so Debbie can use it from her computer. The problem is that means my computer has to be left on 24/7. I've been looking at Network Attached Storage (NAS) as a solution, but the Drobo NAS's are very pricey. While in a blind panic, I grabbed a cheapie Western Digital NAS. We have one of these at my job and it works pretty well. I figure I can move all the files from the Drobo to the NAS, then use the Drobo as a backup. All the hard drives in it are the same age; if one failed, the others are likely not far behind so I would rather not be completely dependent on it.

In any case, we are mostly back to normal other than finding and installing all the little bits of software I've accumulated over the years. Much of it may wait until I actually have a need for it; half the software on my old PC hasn't been run in several years. I'm also taking this opportunity to change office suites; we've run Open Office for a decade-plus, but I haven't really been happy with it since Apache took it over. I installed the Libre Office fork of the same software on Alien. We'll see how it goes. I'm leaving Debbie's PC alone for now, just to make sure there's no weirdness. We don't have any complex spreadsheets or databases, so I don't expect any problems, but if they do occur, better to have them happen to me than to Debbie while she's trying to work.

Well, off in search of software and installation keys. Wheee!

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Too-Frequent Conversation

We are sitting on our double recliner, reading books. Suddenly, the hair on my neck stands up. I look to my right and see Debbie glaring at me.

"What? I swear I didn't fart!"

"Notice anything different?"

My eyes dart around the room as I break into a panic sweat.

"Ummmm......"

"MY HAIR!"

"It... uh... it is different. Did you get it cut today?"

"I HAD IT CUT TWO DAYS AGO!"

"Oh. I like it. It looks nice."

"You suck."

"Yea... but I love you."

"Shut up and read your book."

This scene plays out several times a year.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Trumped

In spite of a clearly rigged process, The Donald will be our next Bad Hair Piece in Chief. The liberals, in their typical fashion, are being sore losers. It's been entertaining to watch all the MSM's turning themselves inside out trying to explain how they could have been so wrong in all their predictions. They seem to be settling into a "we would have won if all those deplorables would have stayed home like they were supposed to" line of rhetoric. My favorite explanation for Trump's win comes not from anyplace mainstream of course, but from Cracked magazine:

"Nothing that happens outside the city matters!" they say at their cocktail parties, blissfully unaware of where their food is grown. Hey, remember when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans? Kind of weird that a big hurricane hundreds of miles across managed to snipe one specific city and avoid everything else. To watch the news (or the multiple movies and TV shows about it), you'd barely hear about how the storm utterly steamrolled rural Mississippi, killing 238 people and doing an astounding $125 billion in damage.

But who cares about those people, right? What's newsworthy about a bunch of toothless hillbillies crying over a flattened trailer? New Orleans is culturally important. It matters.

To those ignored, suffering people, Donald Trump is a brick chucked through the window of the elites. "Are you assholes listening now?"

The assholes are probably not listening quite yet, but they will be. After decades of feeling powerless and irrelevant, the rural working poor seem to have found their voice. I've been saying for over a year, what comes after Trump will be far more momentous than Trump.

The view from the liberal side of the universe (at least the thinking liberals that were against Hill&Bill from day one) is similar:

This election result was also a reaction to the smug elitism and myopic self interests of the white liberal class. Woman over 45 voted Trump. Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Florida — all Obama states, voted Trump. Non college educated white men voted overwhelmingly for Trump. The white working class, which is mostly NOT working, have been hit as hard by neo liberal economic policies and by trade deals like TPP and TTIP. And by NAFTA, ushered in, remember, by Bill Clinton. The utter indifference of the DNC to the suffering of vast chunks of the U.S., and the indifference of the smug supporters of Hillary who stigmatized and tried to shame third party candidates and those voting for them, came back to haunt them. They couldn’t imagine why everyone didn’t support their privilege. The logic of lesser evilism became an accusatory intolerance with opinion differing from their own. That they seemed more concerned with Trump’s pussy remarks than with Clinton’s cackling at her orchestrated assassination of Qadaffi, or her planned coup in Honduras, or the CIA led fascist coup in Ukraine began to be noticed. Many people who voted for Trump did so not because they like Trump, but because they fucking hated the privileged white bourgeoisie that was constantly scolding them and ridiculing them. In a sense this mirrored the Brexit vote. And it is worth noting Bill Clinton’s recent remarks about Jeremy Corbyn (“a person off the streets” “maddest person in the room.”).

It's been a given for a couple decades among us deplorables that the sort of white, hipster, latte-sipping, I-only-use-minority-shaded-emoticons liberals were nothing more than a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites. Nice to see other people are finally catching on.

John Michael Greer's post-election essay zeroes in on the new habit in America of focusing exclusively on a candidate's personality while rarely if ever considering just what sort of policies a candidate at least claims to support:

It seems to me that something has been forgotten here.  We didn’t have an election to choose a plaster saint, a new character on My Little Pony, or Miss (or Mister) Goody Two-Shoes 2016. We had an election to choose the official who will head the executive branch of our federal government for the next four years. I’ve read essays by people who know Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump personally, and claim that both of them are actually very pleasant people. You know what? I literally couldn’t care less. I would be just as likely to vote for a surly misanthrope who loathes children, kicks puppies, and has deviant sexual cravings involving household appliances and mayonnaise, if that person supports the policies I want on the issues that matter to me. It really is that simple.

Exactly. I'm not sure when being nice became a prerequisite for the Oval Office. I'd much rather have a president who would walk down the steps of Air Force One and would instead of bowing to some foreign asshat like Kim Jong-un, haul off and kick him in the balls (diplomatically, of course). I'm certain I am not the only person who is sick of watching our president get pushed around by tin pot despots.

My personal view is that it really doesn't matter who is sitting in the White House as the US economy is already heading down the drain. All Trump has won is the privilege of taking the blame for whatever happens between now and sometime in early 2017. Frankly, I'm astonished that the economy hasn't already blown itself apart. I fully expected a big crunch sometime in the August-through-October time frame. It look like it will hold off until early next year. We'll see. One thing the bastards in Washington have perfected is keeping all the economic plates spinning.

Well, I should probably try to get a bit of outside work done while the sun is shining.

[Edited to add a nice bit from HuffPo:

In the face of Trump’s willingness to boldly proclaim without facts or evidence that he would bring the good times back, we offered a tepid gallows logic. Well, those jobs are actually gone for good, we knowingly told them. And we offered a fantastical non-solution. We will retrain you for good jobs! Never mind that these “good jobs” didn’t exist in East Kentucky or Cleveland. And as a final insult, we lectured a struggling people watching their kids die of drug overdoses about their white privilege. Can you blame them for calling bullshit?

Off course, HuffPo being HuffPo, they do work in a few redneck jokes.

Obviously not outside working yet. I'll get there at some point.]

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.

Digesting.

Then off to the cabin on the lake.

The cabin.

Sunset.

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.]

Monday, June 27, 2016

Hot and Dry...ish

Although I would never classify anything Florida dishes up weather-wise as "dry" after spending several years in Arizona, it has been drier than normal for the last week or so. We had a bunch of rain a while back, everything sprouted, blossomed, etc.; now it's all dying off. The temps have been consistently in the 90's and lots of bright sun to really bake everything nicely. I'm managing to keep most of our plants alive, but that's about it. The 10-day forecast shows all sorts of rain coming our way, but it always seems to... er... evaporate before it actually gets here. It looks like I'll be getting another unexpected day off tomorrow, so giving everything a good soak is high on the list of things to get done.

OK, so much for the central Florida weather report. There have been a few things that have happened lately that I should probably comment on.

Orlando Shooting

One of the things that you learn very quickly if you spend any time studying human "intelligence" is that we suck at rational thinking, but we are top-notch rationalizers. Omar Mateen wanted to off some queers (probably due to self-loathing), and found an excuse to do so. The excuse was Mohammedanism, naturally enough given the legalized murder of gays practiced in many Muslim nations, including those considered allies of the United States. This is exactly what he himself stated when he called 9-11 to claim credit for the murders he committed inside a gay nightclub. So naturally, everyone from our president on down is busy turning themselves inside out to deny that Mateen's Mohammedanism had anything to do with his decision to murder 49 people.

Brexit

No surprise here unless you are one of the elites who have benefited from selling out the bottom 80% of your own nation to the international bankers for the last several decades. Average people are fed up with being told that high unemployment, low wages and crushing debt are good for them by the very people who are making more money than God by increasing unemployment, lowering wages and piling on the debt. Now these same elites are saying that the Leave vote doesn't matter because they ain't gonna do it and never intended to. These people are why God created lampposts; a convenient place for them to be hanged from.

The Donald

I'm not sure what can be said about this fraternity-prank-gone-too-far. Obviously, the bottom 80% in these united States are as pissed off as those in the UK, Poland, Greece, Italy, France, Spain, etc. The problem with Trump is that he is probably too compromised to do much, assuming he ends up being the Republican nomination (and I'm sticking with my previous statements on that being a big assumption) and manages to win the election. My concern is who will finally tap into all that anger in 2020. Read history; those most capable of harnessing mass hate are not the kind of people anyone in their right mind would want running the country.

Muslim Rape

The latest outrage involves three pre-adolescent boys dragging a mentally handicapped 5-year-old girl into a corner, stripping her naked, raping her, then pissing in her mouth. All on video, of course. (No one born since around 1990 or so is capable of experiencing anything first-hand. For an event to be real, even something as visceral as raping someone, it must be recorded and viewed later on a screen to have any meaning.) The news media completely ignored the crime. That of course didn't stop the locals from talking about it. Unfortunately, stories passed verbally tend to collect incorrect "facts", such as the exact ages of the boys involved, which Middle East shithole they originated from, whether or not one of the boys had a knife, etc. None of which really changes what was done, but it did give the news media the opportunity to claim that because a few minor details were wrong, then the whole thing must be made up. Because we all know that Muslims never rape. What is amusing to me is that in certain cases, the very people who jump all over obviously made-up rape stories that involve white males, like the UofV case a few years back, are the exact same ones screaming the loudest that this is all made up.

We indeed live in interesting times.

And speaking of time, it's time to go make dinner.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

And the Beat Goes On

First we had the (successful) voter turnout suppression in the Arizona primary. Then we had officials from the Clinton campaign placing the Hillary-Already-Won article with the Associated Press prior to the last of the state primaries; another (successful) attempt at voter suppression. Now this:

...the Democratic Party cut the number of polling places by two-thirds, from more than 1500 to less than 500. In addition, because there were two simultaneous elections — one for local officials and one for the presidential race — voters had to go to two separate locations if they wanted to cast both ballots. Then the Party cut the voting hours, the window of time during which any voting could be done.

And the result was another wildly successful attempt at voter suppression:

The number of votes actually cast in the Democratic presidential primary totaled just over 60,000. If my math is correct, that about 8% of the expected total, or a voter suppression rate of 92%. Again, the Puerto Rico Democratic Party, all good loyal Democrats I’m sure, suppressed 92% of their own vote, by reducing voting locations and hours.

Why? You decide. My answer? Too much democracy for the “Democratic” Party.

Please tell me there isn't anyone left who still believes voting matters.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Summer Chorus

And thanks to all that rain we got, the frogs are back (turn down the volume before you hit play):


video

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Rain, Rain and More Rain

Tropical Storm Colin blew through a hundred or so miles north of here so we've had nothing but rain for the last 24 hours. There were a couple good gusts of wind as well, but no big deal and no damage other than a couple tipped-over chairs on the patio and a ton of leaves and small branches on the ground. I haven't checked, but I'm sure the local news is full of all sorts of Armageddon stories featuring massive flooding, missing roofs, downed trees, etc. Even if they have to dig up years-old video footage like they were showing last night, hours before the rain even started, during the spots advertising the evening news. Add in the inevitable man-on-the-street interview from someone who swears that they've "never seen anything like it" and you have what passes for news these days.

A long-winded way of saying the whole thing was no big deal. It rained. The wind blew. It's Florida. In June. Get over it.

Another celebrity death this week. Muhammad Ali died Friday evening. Matt Taibbi is a few years younger than I am, but he sums up my neighborhood gang's view on Ali pretty well:

When I was growing up, it was impossible to imagine anyone cooler than Muhammad Ali. He had the perfect looks of a rock star, was hilariously funny, and was beautiful to watch in the ring. My friends and I used to pop in tapes of his fights and double over laughing watching his opponents flail about in search of that infuriatingly pretty face of his.

Our parents hated the guy; "draft dodger" and "coward" were probably the nicest things they had to say about him. But we didn't care. I saw the news from Vietnam every night. I'd use words like "smart" to describe anyone who did whatever was necessary to avoid that.

The absurdity called the presidential election continues and grows more weird by the day. James Kunstler's site has been knocked out. I'm assuming it was some form of SJW pissed about something they think he said that he probably didn't. In any case, it's the web and nothing goes away for long:

Considering that the 2016 election looks like a Dark Age puppet show — Pantalone and La Signora smacking each other with dildos — we forget this spectacle is serious. Rather large matters are at stake, such as the continuity of governance, the legitimacy of the two major political parties, the credibility of our financial arrangements, perhaps even the durability of the nation as a united polity.

It's hard to make fun of this stuff anymore. The image of Hill and The Donald in a televised presidential debate screaming incoherently and beating the crap out of each other with six-foot latex dongs should be hilarious, but in 2016, it's too close to the realm of reality to be anything but terrifying. And the latest weirdness doesn't stop there. Scott Adams is endorsing Hillary in self-defense:

So I’ve decided to endorse Hillary Clinton for President, for my personal safety. Trump supporters don’t have any bad feelings about patriotic Americans such as myself, so I’ll be safe from that crowd. But Clinton supporters have convinced me – and here I am being 100% serious – that my safety is at risk if I am seen as supportive of Trump. So I’m taking the safe way out and endorsing Hillary Clinton for president.

Now I've been reading Adams since he first popped up on the internet, and I know he loves to play mind games. I wouldn't be completely surprised to see a "Ha Ha!! Gottcha!" post, but this has been up for over 48 hours now. That's a little long for a joke. We'll see. But, again, the take-away is that there is doubt that this is anything but satire.

Speaking of real life as satire, another SJW has struck a blow for the emancipation of... wait for it... lobsters:

So hey, did you hear about the Canadian lady who “rescued” the lobster?

Apparently, the sight of a lobster for sale in a grocery-store tank “weighed on [her] psyche.” So she bought it, “drove six hours to Winnipeg, [and] shipped it via UPS to a vegan contact out in Halifax for $225, where the lobster was released into the ocean by a fellow vegan out east.”

This story might remind some readers of the first act of a 1998 episode of The Simpsons, but no, it happened in real life just a while ago, and if you dare, you can listen to this chick compare what she did to the Underground Railroad.

I wonder if this brain trust thought to remove the bands from the lobster's claws. Assuming it survived being shipped via UPS....

On a slightly different note, we have John Oliver ripping apart the debt collection industry:


Stumbling onto this clip is actually perfect timing. We've been being harassed since we moved here by some sleezebag outfit that calls itself Medical Services (813-675-0408). They keep calling our number asking for someone we've never heard of. The first time, we were actually helpful; told them the person they are looking for does not live here and we have no idea who they are. We've become progressively more hostile as the calls continue, looking for random people (and insulting and threatening us in the process) who all supposedly gave our home phone as their contact number.

Bullshit. Complete, unadulterated, 100%, Grade-A BULLSHIT.

Today was the final straw. Medical Services called our number four times between 9:25am and 9:30am. I ignored the first three calls and let them hit the answering machine. (They left no message, of course.) While these calls were happening, Debbie was trying to talk to a client and I was trying to get some stuff done while I had an unexpected day off. The last time they called, I answered and said very clearly and loudly, "If you call this number again, I will hunt you down and I will kill you!" Then I hung up. They haven't called back yet. I seriously hope they try to press charges.

That's a lot of typing; time for a nap.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Wait... Did Hell Freeze Over?

In the four years we've lived here, the park maintenance people have cut our grass exactly once, and that was only because I demanded that they do so. But something has changed. They've been back here twice in two weeks!! It's like a miracle or something.

Understand that I generally cut our own grass (and the seven other lots on our block). The maintenance guys start at the front of the park every week and work their way to the back. If something comes up, they don't make it to the back of the park. I don't mind giving them a hand, but sometimes things come up for me as well, and it would be nice if the park didn't assume that they never need to come back here. It's not like we get a break on the rent for doing their work for them.

But for now, it looks like the maintenance crew has finally discovered the back corner of the park where we live. It will be interesting to see what happens when the new owners take over in a few weeks. Lots of rumors, but not much in the way of facts. Other than they are yet-another multinational corporation whose primary goal is to make as much money as possible with as little effort as possible. In other words, I don't expect anything to improve unless it comes with a big price tag attached.

The theater-of-the-absurd presidential "race" continues, getting more surreal by the day. Rumors abound of violence at the Democratic convention, along with actual threats of violence at the Republican convention from the Black Lives Matter shitheads. There are other rumors of the Democratic establishment freaking out over what a piss-poor campaign Hillary is running, and I still expect the Republican establishment to do away with The Donald at some point over the summer, by whatever means necessary.

The latest absurdity is that Victoria Nuland is being considered for Hillary Clinton's Secretary of State. Perfect. I wonder how many days after the inauguration it will take for Vicky and Hill to do something really stupid with regards to... oh, I don't know... Russia? Just to pick a country completely at random. Not that we can't whip Russia in no time. I mean, look at how well we're doing trying to kill off a bunch of Kalashnikov-toting goat herders. With a success like that under our belt, who in their right mind would doubt that Russia's military wouldn't crumble on first contact with ours? As it turns out, several people who are fully in their right minds:

We, the undersigned, are Russians living and working in the USA. We have been watching with increasing anxiety as the current US and NATO policies have set us on an extremely dangerous collision course with the Russian Federation, as well as with China. Many respected, patriotic Americans, such as Paul Craig Roberts, Stephen Cohen, Philip Giraldi, Ray McGovern and many others have been issuing warnings of a looming Third World War. But their voices have been all but lost among the din of a mass media that is full of deceptive and inaccurate stories that characterize the Russian economy as being in shambles and the Russian military as weak—all based on no evidence. But we—knowing both Russian history and the current state of Russian society and the Russian military, cannot swallow these lies. We now feel that it is our duty, as Russians living in the US, to warn the American people that they are being lied to, and to tell them the truth. And the truth is simply this:

If there is going to be a war with Russia, then the United States will most certainly be destroyed, and most of us will end up dead.

But that's OK, because the really important news is that some fringe group of social justice warriors got a frog on a unicycle banned from their own, insignificant corner of the internet:

“Dat Boi” is an Internet meme that sprung up randomly, as so many memes do, about two months ago. It’s a low-resolution frog riding a unicycle, with the caption “Here come dat boi!” Don’t try to overthink it. It’s (supposedly) funny because it’s silly and random. A frog, retro low-res graphics, a unicycle, and slang for “that boy.” If you insist on knowing more, there’s no shortage of Dat Boi explanatory articles. But really, all you need to know is that it’s arbitrary on purpose, a non sequitur, a head-scratcher for “noobs”...everything that makes a good meme.

Except that according to black social justice warriors, it’s a bad meme. A very bad meme. Because it’s racist (you expected a different reason?). Yes, the frog on the unicycle is racist....

For a people who like to boast about being descended from kings, this is most surely an ignominious reduction in influence. “My ancestors ruled over a vast, fertile kingdom and commanded an army of warriors. I got a frog on a unicycle banned from a Facebook group.” From Zulu emperor to hobo emperor. It would be funny if not for the fact that the black community in the U.S. can ill afford such stupidity from its leaders and activists. Stoners wearing dreadlocks and frogs on unicycles... these are the worst problems black Americans face?

No, there are real problems faced by black Americans. But, in keeping with the rules of the Rescue Game, such "problems" as a frog on a unicycle make it possible for social justice warriors to put something in the win column (no matter how insignificant), and feel good about themselves, without doing anything that might be mistaken for actually helping black Americans. Like teaching them the importance of speaking standard English, rather than making up bullshit like African-American Vernacular English.

Well, I really should go outside and do a little work on my day off.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Back in Florida

The 'rents are safely back to Michigan for the summer. It was certainly easier to pay someone to get the house opened up and everything turned on before we arrived. There were also some major repairs to the plumbing that were done while they were in Florida, which should help a great deal in opening and closing the place for the winter. The one thing we noticed when we got there was the large number of burned-out light bulbs. Not sure if there was some sort of power surge or what. Fortunately, anything expensive that could have been fried was unplugged, so it was just bulbs that got whacked.

Other than that, it was the best kind of road trip; uneventful to the point of being boring. We left here Sunday night instead of Monday morning, so we rolled through K-Town a day earlier than planned. That gave all the grand's and great's a chance to run out and say a quick "Hi!" before I had to fly back to Florida.

And that pretty much killed my entire week. Why that stopped me from posting here for nearly a month is unclear....

The farce generally referred to as the 2016 Presidential Race continues. Hillary is still measuring the Oval Office for drapes as if her coronation is inevitable. I guess she read The Secret. The small matter of a federal indictment doesn't seem to occur to her. Neither does convincing everyday people to vote for her. Of course, with "paperless" ballots, I'm not certain how much that whole voting thing actually matters. Meanwhile, the Bern keeps racking up wins, bringing in new donations from actual people, and generally acting as one would expect someone running for elected office to act. There is even some back-channel chatter that those super-delegates that the Hill thinks she's already bought and paid for, are starting to take a hard look at Sanders.

Meanwhile, establishment Republicans continue their efforts to not just torpedo Trump's candidacy and guarantee a Democratic president, but to destroy the entire Republican party as well. I'm of the opinion that they've already succeeded in demolishing the party. If there is no Republican candidate for the 2020 election, I would only be mildly surprised. I'd be very surprised if there was one in 2024.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Obama, that all the world should reinforce the delusions of gender dysphorics. And all went to pee, every one into whichever the hell restroom they felt like going into regardless of the shape of their naughty bits.

This would all be just another bit of stupidity by a president that has set an all-time record for stupid things both said and done, except this particular bit of stupidity has teeth. A female security guard named Francine Jones is currently being charged with simple assault (translation: she touched the person; no real violence involved) for physically removing a dude in a dress from the women's bathroom, with the police considering adding on hate crime charges.

I'm sorry, but this is demented. I'm not concerned in the least with true gender dysphorics; my concern is just how long do you think it will take for pedophiles to figure out they can put on a dress and some eye shadow, hang out in a women's bathroom and wait for an eight-year-old girl to wander in unaccompanied? Male pedophiles (meaning, nearly all pedophiles) that kink towards little boys figured out that trick about five minutes after the first public toilet opened. Now we are forced under threat of legal action (not to mention the internet-fueled shit storm of death threats and social stigmatization aimed at the entire family) to simply look the other way; to tell our daughters to not be afraid of the creepy man hanging out in the ladies room. There is no way this can end well. And I can confidently say that because we've been here before:

Step by step they were led to things which dispose to vice; the lounge, the bath, the elegant banquet. All this in their ignorance they called civilization, when it was but a part of their servitude.

Tacitus

Gotta go; dinner is ready.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Prince, RIP

Another icon from my high school days is gone. Not that I'm all torn up and taking a week off work to deal or anything. I (sorta) liked a few of his songs, never saw him perform, never saw the movie Purple Rain, and pretty much never knowingly listened to any music he recorded after 1984. Jeff Kay had a nice bit on the new fake-grieving-for-celebrities-we've-never-met phenomenon:

I blame Facebook. In fact, I blame Facebook for a lot of things. I believe it’s ruined the world in certain ways. Everybody’s a show-off now, doing some kind of weird and pathetic performance art. The same thing happened when David Bowie died. Everybody was in a race to out-grieve each other:

“When I heard Bowie died, I couldn’t stop crying for a solid hour…”

“That’s nothing. When I heard Bowie died I cried for three days.”

“Well, you must not be as big a fan as I am. ‘Cause when I heard Bowie died I had to take a leave of absence from my job, and check into a mental institution in upstate New York.”

Heh. Even without having been on FB for over six months, I could probably come up with a list of people who are, even as I type this, boohoo-ing all over the place about losing a genius like Prince and who are unable to name a single song he recorded other than Purple Rain.

Anyway.

The political farce of our presidential "election season" continues on its merry way. It now looks like Bernie is up in smoke. Anyone with a greater-than-room-temperature IQ knew that was the preordained outcome. Really, it's quite remarkable that he hung on as long as he did. There's probably a message in there for the Democratic Party establishment, but I doubt very much that they are listening. Meanwhile, the Queen of Toads is busy putting the finishing touches on her inauguration speech, confident she can sweep past whoever ends up as the Republican Party candidate.

Meanwhile, the country club Republicans are openly stating they would rather destroy what's left of the Republican Party than have The Donald as their candidate. Not that Trump really needs the Republican Party to run a presidential campaign, but he can't run a winning presidential campaign without it. Personally, I figured he would have died in some sort of "accident" by now. The country clubbers likely already tried that and botched it like they've screw up everything else they touch.

Whatever happens, nothing substantive is going to change. The oligarchs will continue to strip the place to the bare walls. If we're real lucky, we'll get someone like Putin to really shake things up in 2020 or 2024, but I ain't holding my breath.

I don't know who is in charge over at Hulu, but they need to be fired. ASAP. They took a relatively simple, straight-forward website and turned it into a complete piece of crap. As usual. Ya know what would be nice, Hulu? Instead of spending wads of money on geeks who do nothing but wreck your site and frustrate customers who have stuck by you since day one, why don't you use some of that money to free 20-year-old shows from behind your iron curtain? If I'm going to pay to watch old TV shows, I certainly won't be paying someone who is going to force me to watch commercials as well. Screw that.

Better yet, I'll just read a book.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Another Implementation

The go-live I talked about a few weeks ago was only for the lodge bar staff. The wait staff were still using the old "system" (which wasn't really much more than slips of paper and a spreadsheet that I fill out every morning). That changes on May 1st. So the next couple weeks will be filled with training people whose attitudes range from positive thru indifferent to openly hostile. That's OK; business is slowing dramatically now that the snow birds are heading back north and we have more people than we have shifts. If someone feels strongly enough to quit, both I and the kitchen managers are in agreement: let 'em.

Of course that means all sorts of crazy hours for yours truly, with the first of May being another hell week of long days and little sleep. What will save us this time around is that we only serve food until 7pm, so at least the administrator and myself won't have to take turns being up all night.

We still don't know what is going on with my mom and if my parents will be going back to Michigan anytime soon. It's just endless tests and doctor appointments with no meaningful information coming back to us. In other words, business as usual for the medical/industrial complex. As I'm the one tasked with driving them back, that leaves me and my job hanging in limbo while all these clowns are maximizing their Medicare billing.

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate these guys? Anyway.

One of the things I like about the web pages I routinely read (that list over there on the right) is how people coming from radically different starting points can all end up more or less at the same place. (That place would be "We're completely screwed" by the way.) First up, we have John Michael Greer, fresh back from vacation and already busting American taboos:

...the word “racist” in the mouths of the pundits and politicians who have been applying it so liberally to the Trump campaign is a dog whistle for something they don’t want to talk about in so many words. What they mean by it, of course, is “wage class American.”

That’s extremely common. Consider the recent standoff in Oregon between militia members and federal officials. While that was ongoing, wags in the blogosphere and the hip end of the media started referring to the militia members as “Y’all-Qaeda.” Attentive readers may have noted that none of the militia members came from the South—the only part of the United States where “y’all” is the usual second person plural pronoun. To the best of my knowledge, all of them came from the dryland West, where “y’all” is no more common than it is on the streets of Manhattan or Vancouver. Why, then, did the label catch on so quickly and get the predictable sneering laughter of the salary class?

It spread so quickly and got that laugh because most members of the salary class in the United States love to apply a specific stereotype to the entire American wage class. You know that stereotype as well as I do, dear reader. It’s a fat, pink-faced, gap-toothed Southern good ol’ boy in jeans and a greasy T-shirt, watching a NASCAR race on television from a broken-down sofa, with one hand stuffed elbow deep into a bag of Cheez Doodles, the other fondling a shotgun, a Confederate flag patch on his baseball cap and a Klan outfit in the bedroom closet. As a description of wage-earning Americans in general, that stereotype is as crass, as bigoted, and as politically motivated as any of the racial and sexual stereotypes that so many people these days are ready to denounce—but if you mention this, the kind of affluent white liberals who would sooner impale themselves on their own designer corkscrews than mention African-Americans and watermelons in the same paragraph will insist at the top of their lungs that it’s not a stereotype, it’s the way “those people” really are.

I see this a lot here in Florida. While "nigger" is as verboten here as it is most other places, "cracker" is fine because, ya know, all poor whites from Florida are a bunch of crackers. Therefore, is isn't racist/classist to point that out. Thems just facts.

Speaking of dog whistles, Counterpunch (which, as a relative pointed out to me, is an extreme liberal, probably socialist, maybe even communist web site) steps up to the plate with a beautiful example of exactly what John Michael was talking about with an article entitled Why Bill Clinton is Full of Shit. As much as I agree with the sentiment expressed in the title, I have to take exception to the article's insistence that drug laws are exclusively aimed at blacks. Plenty of poor whites have had their lives destroyed by our War on (some) Drugs. This article doesn't mention my favorite example (but plenty others on the site do); the difference in sentencing guidelines for powder vs. crack cocaine. This is always presented in terms of racist suburban whites beating down poor urban blacks. Again, I'm quite certain that substantial numbers of poor urban (and rural) whites did a nickel in the state pen for being busted with a couple rocks of crack while Wall Street types were getting slaps on their wrists for equivalent amounts of powder cocaine.

Then today over at Taki's Magazine (which, as a friend pointed out to me, is an extreme right-wing, probably fascist, maybe even neo-Nazi web site (it's so nice having all these people looking out for my mental/emotional well-being; like being a well-cared-for child)), there is this bit on what the author calls The Bubbafly Effect:

This need to surveil and control isn’t applied just to white people in power, but to any white person, male or female (though more commonly male). Why? Why does it matter so damn much to the members of racial, ethnic, and gender victim groups what average white folks are saying and doing?

Well, that’s where the Bubbafly Effect comes in. This is the belief that the words and actions of any white person, no matter how seemingly insignificant, can have ripple effects that will eventually harm a member of an officially sanctioned victim group. The words of the lowliest random white person—an average “bubba” from a hick county—can, like the seemingly inconsequential wind generated by a butterfly’s wings, grow in strength until some poor innocent nonwhite non-cis non-male is swept off “thems” feet (to use the proper PC pronoun) by a hurricane of hatred.

If Bootless Clem in Owsley County says “nigger,” it could create a ripple effect that leads to a proud young African-American genius being barred from admission to a prestigious Ivy League university. If Fartmaster Chad at Kegger House wears a tiny sombrero on his head during his frat’s “tequila sunrise” party, the ripple effects might lead to a brilliant Latino tech wizard being passed up for a job at a major Silicon Valley firm.

“Progressives” really believe this; they’ve just never given their operating theory a name. You’re welcome, lefties.

Again, all things must be seen through the lens of racism. Unless you happen to be John Michael Greer, who posted a follow-up to his post previously quoted from called American Naratives: The Rescue Game:

Here’s how it works. Each group of players is assigned one of three roles: Victim, Persecutor, or Rescuer. The first two roles are allowed one move each: the Victim’s move is to suffer, and the Persecutor’s move is to make the Victim suffer. The Rescuer is allowed two moves: to sympathize with the Victim and to punish the Persecutor. No other moves are allowed, and no player is allowed to make a move that belongs to a different role.
....
There’s one other rule: the game must go on forever. The Victim must continue to suffer, the Persecutor must continue to persecute, and the Rescuer must continue to sympathize and punish. Anything that might end the game—for example, any actual change in the condition of the Victim, or any actual change in the behavior of the Persecutor—is therefore out of bounds. The Rescuer also functions as a referee, and so it’s primarily his or her job to see that nothing gets in the way of the continuation of the game, but all players are expected to help out if that should be necessary.
....
A variant of that game still goes on in the pseudoconservative end of American politics. When Hillary Clinton went out of her way to characterize African-American youth as “superpredators” not that many years ago, she was playing a version of that same game, in which law-abiding white citizens were the Victims, black youth were the Persecutors, and white politicians were the Rescuers. On the other end of the political spectrum, of course, the roles are reversed; in games played on that field, people of color are the Victims, working class white people are the Persecutors, and affluent white liberals are the Rescuers. The players have changed places but the game’s otherwise identical.
....
It’s only fair to note that each of the three roles gets certain benefits, though these are distributed in a very unequal fashion. The only thing the people who are assigned the role of Persecutor get out of it is plenty of negative attention. Sometimes that’s enough—it’s a curious fact that hating and being hated can function as an intoxicant for some people—but this is rarely enough of an incentive to keep those assigned the Persecutor’s role willing to play the game for long.

The benefits that go to people who are assigned the role of Victim are somewhat more substantial. Victims get to air their grievances in public, which is a rare event for the underprivileged, and they also get to engage in socially sanctioned bullying of people they don’t like, which is an equally rare treat. That’s all they get, though. In particular, despite reams of the usual rhetoric about redressing injustices and the like, the Victims are not supposed to do anything, or to expect the Rescuers to do anything, to change the conditions under which they live. The opportunities to air grievances and bully others are substitutes for substantive change, not—as they’re usually billed—steps toward substantive change.

The vast majority of the benefits of the game, rather, go to the Rescuers. They’re the ones who decide which team of Victims will get enough attention from Rescuers to be able to start a game.  They’re the ones who enforce the rules, and thus see to it that Victims keep on being victimized and Persecutors keep on persecuting.  Nor is it accidental that in every Rescue Game, the people who get the role of Rescuers are considerably higher on the ladder of social privilege than the people who get given the roles of Victims and Persecutors.

All of which goes a long way in explaining the Bubbafly Effect.

OK; I'm going to quit before this gets as long as War and Peace. As always, follow the links and read the quoted articles in their entirety.