Friday, April 21, 2017

Quick Update

My CLL kicked in big time around the first of February and has me completely beat down. I'm sleeping 14-16 hours a day and have absolutely no energy whatsoever, which is why this place has been so neglected.

One thing we are learning first-hand is that James Kunstler is right; the entire medical industrial complex is a criminal racket. From where I sit, I can see no practical or moral difference between what we've been put through the last couple months and Al Capone's reign in Chicago a century ago. The main difference is that at least Uncle Al had a fairly competent organization. These asshats around here can't get anything right. The lab can't figure out how to run the test the doctor ordered. When I ended up admitted to the hospital, I had to correct the nurse on duty every hour on the hour as to what medications I was on, how much I take and when. Some stupid bitch PA tried to kill me by prescribing 40mg of prednisone twice a day. It took me a month to get my blood sugar down low enough that my meter would display something other than "HI", not to mention that my immune system was already in complete collapse and I have an irregular heart beat. At least my hematologist seems to have his crap together. He's the only reason I'm still alive.

Anyway, things will likely be quiet here as I have to wait another two weeks or so before possibly starting on some drug that is supposed to help. Of course the side effects of the drug will have me puking up my guts, crapping my pants and possibly bleeding to death because I shave with a blade instead of an electric razor. Sounds like good times.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

The Coup Continues

I sincerely hope everyone in the US understands that we are in uncharted territory here. There is a faction buried in the alphabet soup of the dozen+ federal security agencies that are actively attempting to over-throw the duly elected president of these united States:

1. June 2016: FISA request. The Obama administration files a request with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) to monitor communications involving Donald Trump and several advisers. The request, uncharacteristically, is denied.

2. July: Russia joke. Wikileaks releases emails from the Democratic National Committee that show an effort to prevent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) from winning the presidential nomination. In a press conference, Donald Trump refers to Hillary Clinton’s own missing emails, joking: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.” That remark becomes the basis for accusations by Clinton and the media that Trump invited further hacking.

3. October: Podesta emails. In October, Wikileaks releases the emails of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, rolling out batches every day until the election, creating new mini-scandals. The Clinton campaign blames Trump and the Russians.

4. October: FISA request. The Obama administration submits a new, narrow request to the FISA court, now focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russian banks. No evidence is found — but the wiretaps continue, ostensibly for national security reasons, Andrew McCarthy at National Review later notes. The Obama administration is now monitoring an opposing presidential campaign using the high-tech surveillance powers of the federal intelligence services.

5. January 2017: Buzzfeed/CNN dossier. Buzzfeed releases, and CNN reports, a supposed intelligence “dossier” compiled by a foreign former spy.... [Pissgate]

6. January: Obama expands NSA sharing. As Michael Walsh later notes, and as the New York Times reports, the outgoing Obama administration “expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections.” The new powers, and reduced protections, could make it easier for intelligence on private citizens to be circulated improperly or leaked.

7. January: Times report. The New York Times reports, on the eve of Inauguration Day, that several agencies — the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Treasury Department are monitoring several associates of the Trump campaign suspected of Russian ties... though it is unclear how they found out, since the investigations would have been secret and involved classified information.

8. February: Mike Flynn scandal. Reports emerge that the FBI intercepted a conversation in 2016 between future National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — then a private citizen — and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. The intercept supposedly was part of routine spying on the ambassador, not monitoring of the Trump campaign....

9. February: Times claims extensive Russian contacts.... and the Times admits that there is “no evidence” of coordination between the campaign and the Russians. The White House and some congressional Republicans begin to raise questions about illegal intelligence leaks.

10. March: the Washington Post targets Jeff Sessions. The Washington Post reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had contact twice with the Russian ambassador during the campaign.... The Post suggests that the two meetings contradict Sessions’s testimony at his confirmation hearings that he had no contacts with the Russians, though in context (not presented by the Post) it was clear he meant in his capacity as a campaign surrogate.... The New York Times... adds that the Obama White House “rushed to preserve” intelligence related to alleged Russian links with the Trump campaign. By “preserve” it really means “disseminate”: officials spread evidence throughout other government agencies “to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators” and perhaps the media as well.

Emphasis is mine. Some random thoughts of my own on each of the above point:

1. A sitting president requests permission to spy on an active presidential candidate and his staff. He becomes only the 13th person denied a warrant by the FISA court out of 35,000+ requests. Just how over the top was that first request that even the damn FISA court told Obama to stuff it deep and on a slant?

2. The news media stops editorializing against Trump and begins telling straight-up lies. They've never stopped.

3. RUSSIA DID IT!! Again, this has been endlessly repeated to the point of nausea, never with a shred of evidence.

4. Obama gets his FISA warrant on the second go 'round, can't find anything incriminating, then just keeps spying. Because RUSSIA!!

5. Pissgate: a story concocted by a former spy. Former because he was completely incompetent, was pulled from the field, then stuck in Mulder's old office.

6. Let me get this straight; Obama signs an executive order literally hours before the end of his presidency that will essentially guarantee that anything juicy the NSA hoovers up in its data center will be leaked to the press...

7. ...which happens immediately.

8. Probably the only thing the "intelligence" community has said in the last year that isn't a complete lie.

9. The "White House" (meaning Obama) creates a situation that virtually guarantees leaks, then tries to act surprised when they occur. Obama's estimation of the IQ of the average American must be seriously low. Oh, wait....

10. We've saved Russia so much money. They no longer need to play Spy vs. Spy with the CIA. They just need to subscribe to the Washington Post.

And mere days later, Julian Assange received what looks to be the entire hacking manual that the CIA uses, including code. The current assumption is that while passing the thing around to all the private, for-profit contractors, it escaped into the wild. So basically, the entire planet now knows, down to the code level, how the CIA has been hacking into their systems (or simply paying software and/or hardware companies to write back doors for them). The best bit is a little thing code-named UMBRAGE:

As Wikileaks notes, the UMBRAGE group and its related projects allow the CIA to misdirect the attribution of cyber attacks by “leaving behind the ‘fingerprints’ of the very groups that the attack techniques were stolen from.”

In other words, the CIA’s sophisticated hacking tools all have a “signature” marking them as originating from the agency. In order to avoid arousing suspicion as to the true extent of its covert cyber operations, the CIA has employed UMBRAGE’s techniques in order to create signatures that allow multiple attacks to be attributed to various entities – instead of the real point of origin at the CIA – while also increasing its total number of attack types.

Sorta puts that whole Sony-hacked-by-North-Korea thing in a different light. From where I sit, it looks more like a trial run. When the report first came out that there were Russian "fingerprints" on the hacked DNC e-mail server, I said then that the last people who should be blamed for the hack (well, hacks, actually; it had been compromised at least a half-dozen times) were the Russians. If it had been the Russians, the "fingerprints" would have pointed directly to some 27-year-old college drop-out living in his mom's basement in Elksnout, Montana.

In any case, good to see the CIA destroy what little credibility the US "intelligence" community had left. The problem now is that with their brilliant plan to Ukraine the US lying on the floor in pieces, I wonder how long it will take them to just Kennedy our president and be done with it.

On the home front, my dad is still in hurry-up-and-wait mode. The original surgery was canceled at the last possible minute because the surgeon looked at all the various tests and scans and discovered much more grave problems than a mass that may or may not (but so totally could be!!!) cancer. So now it's back to round after round of tests, scans, x-rays, etc. with a much more involved surgery maybe next week. That means that even if everything goes perfectly, my parents will be stuck here in Florida for at least a couple weeks longer than they would prefer. Good thing they got a couple air conditioners up and running last winter.

The dry needling thing seems to be slowly making some improvements to Debbie's arm and wrist. She can at least make it through a week mostly pain-free. Between that and her alien sex toy, she seems to be turning a corner after five or six years of steady decline.

I, on the other hand, am completely falling apart. Whatever was up with my feet a couple weeks ago is now hokey-pokey-ing around my entire body. Left foot, right foot, left knee, right thumb, left pinkie, left hand, right hand, left wrist, left shoulder. I finally had time to get to my primary, Dr. Ken. He freaked and order up all sorts of blood work. (After whingeing about how it would be so much easier for him if I would just go to the ER, have them check me in for a couple days and they would be able to run all the blood work. Um... isn't that what I pay you for??) He had them checking for everything from AIDS to TB. The problem is that somehow my CLL was left off my medical records. I know damn well I put it on the forms, but it didn't get entered into the system. Which I got bitched out for by Dr. Ken. Anyway, now I'm waiting for the blood work to all come in, make a follow-up with Dr. Ken and a hematologist and a rheumatologist. The current theory is that instead of tissue infection or gout, I actually have RA, which almost makes some sort of sense. The CLL flared up, which landed me with a bunch of nuisance infections (like thrush) and also caused the RA to go nuts. The problem is that I've already been tested for RA and it came back negative. I guess science ain't an exact science with these clowns.

Well, Debbie just got back from the store, so we better start in putting the tinfoil up on all the walls....

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

My Kind of Fitness



Yea; I'm into that....

"We now return you to your regularly scheduled coup d'├ętat already in progress."

Most Americans haven't realized it yet, but our very own "Intelligence Community" is in the process of over-throwing our duly elected president. For decades, we've been doing it to other countries, either through brute-force assassinations, or more subtle approaches such as manipulating public opinion by planting false stories in the media. I suppose this is just the proverbial chickens coming home to roost, but it won't make what follows any less unpleasant. 2017 may very well turn out to the a year everyone would rather forget about.

Maybe the prep'ers are right: all us deplorables should be stocking up on pork-n-beans and buckshot.

On the personal front, the last few weeks have been my turn to be sick. I just started my second round of antibiotics in two weeks. The doctors at Urgent Care can't seem to agree on what is wrong, but first my left foot, then my right foot swelled all up and became feverish and very painful. On the first time around, it was a tissue infection likely from a cut on my foot that I didn't notice due to diabetic neuropathy. The problem with that brilliant diagnosis is that I don't have diabetic neuropathy and there were no breaks in the skin on my foot. But whatever; don't confuse doctors with facts. No matter; the drugs made it go away. Until about 36 hours after I ran out of antibiotics, then the exact same thing happened to the other foot. Now it's gout. OK. Sure. So as of Monday I'm on a different antibiotic that has an interesting side effect. It can make you shit yourself to death up to six months after you stop taking it.

No progress on Debbie's problem with her arm. The dry needling seems to work for about three hours after each session. The chiropractor suggested some weird thing you buy online that looks like an alien sex toy. So far, it has mostly caused a lot of bruising, but it does seem to help with the pain.

And my father is still in a holding pattern. The antibiotics didn't get rid of the growth, so they want to cut it out so they can confirm that it isn't cancer. 'Cause it so totally could be! And we need to get it out right away! But first lets spend two weeks running a bunch of tests to see if we can find more billable hours! Sure enough, they managed to find some sort of "anomaly" with his heart, so now the surgery is on hold. We should know something by tomorrow afternoon. I won't be surprised if they are still dinkin' around with this in May when my parents want to head back to Michigan.

And just to keep it interesting, my mother had to make a trip into Urgent Care because she couldn't breath. They sent her home with antibiotics for pneumonia. A couple days later, she was at her regular doctor and mentioned that she had been to Urgent Care. Quelle Horreur! Not Urgent Care! You must see a specialist at once! Because they are retired and have nothing better to do than drive around seeing doctors, off my parents go to a pulmonologist. He spent all of thirty seconds listening to her lungs, pronounced that she certainly did not have pneumonia, and prescribed methylprednisolone for her "asthma flair-up". When she got home, someone from Urgent Care called to let her know that the x-rays they had taken confirm that she absolutely did have pneumonia, regardless of what some moron pumonologist told her.

YAY MODERN MEDICINE!

Not much else to report. My work is still cranking away at top speed. Debbie's seems eerily quiet for this time of year, especially given how nuts it was all summer and fall when it's supposed to be slow. It has us a bit concerned, but we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

In the meantime, we'll just keep buying pork-n-beans and buckshot.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Waiting

Not much has been happening since the last post (other than work, of course). My dad is still doing good while the doctors continue to try to terrify him. He's basically in a holding pattern while the medical industry tries to figure out how to profit off a perfectly healthy 83-year-old man. I'm sure they will find a way eventually.

There has been no progress with Debbie's arm, either. Routine chiropractic adjusting is keeping her (barely) working, but is not doing a damn thing about finding whatever is wrong. Not that "traditional" medicine has done anything either; after we spent major bucks giving them a crack at it last year, they just collectively shrugged and declared that there was nothing wrong. At least the chiropractor admits there is a problem and provides some relief. Tomorrow, we try something else: dry needling. It's supposed to help with myofascial pain syndrome, which Debbie may or may not have. Some of the symptoms seem to fit, but not entirely. In fact, in some ways, the symptoms seem closer to her restless legs syndrome, so maybe getting poked will have an unexpected side benefit.

Another part of all this is looking at Debbie's work area to make sure it isn't contributing to and/or causing the problem. I headed out to the internet to see what alternatives existed to the "temporary" setup she has been using for the last 4+ years. What a load of horse flop. I realize we are all supposed to be working on tablets while sitting in a Starbucks, but there are still some of us that do real work on real computers. Unless you want to stand for 8 hours a day (which FYI can do as much damage to hips/knees/ankles/back as sitting for 8 hours a day), there isn't crap out there for computer desks. The last time I needed a desk, I ended up building one. I guess we may have to resort to that again.

We are still battling with computer issues. The Drobo I've been using since around 2009 appears to be dead. It lost a drive shortly after Alien Bob joined our household. I replaced the drive, it went through its whole rebuild routine and all seemed right with the world. But it kept acting weird; disappearing and reappearing, taking forever to respond, Win10 throwing nonsense error messages, etc. Once all the data had been moved to the NAS, I gave up on it and unplugged it. So right now, I have the NAS as our main data store with a 2TB drive in an Antec MX-1 that I backup to via manually-run xcopy batch file jobs. I have another MX-1 that I may load with another 2TB drive I have laying around and experiment with the backup utility that comes with Windows. (What? Doesn't everyone have 2TB drives lying around the house? Why not?) This wouldn't replace my current backup, but would be a supplement to it. And yes, I know all the cool kids are backing up their data to The Cloud (tm), but I just don't trust them. Sorry Carbonite; I'm just not that into you.

Speaking of computer issues, Amazon seems absolutely bent on making me hate my Kindle. The latest "update" is to the music app. I know people think I'm joking or being hyperbolic when I make cracks about music apps that can't play music, but Amazon has come damn close to realizing that, at least if you don't pay Amazon to store all your music in The Cloud. The old version had very obvious selector buttons that said if you were playing music on the device or the cloud. The "improved" version buries that inside a menu. Worse, it switches back to the cloud every time you go to a different app even when you are playing music. It also cannot remember what song it was playing within a few hours of hitting the pause button. Every day when I get home from work and try to play some music to relax, I'm staring at Bruce Springsteen's 57 Channels (And Nothin' On), and have to endlessly finger-scroll down while trying to remember the last song I listened to. In the blessed name of Elvis indeed....

(Side Note: I listen to music on the Kindle in alphabetical order by song title. That gives a surprisingly good mix of music. The shuffle play on the Kindle is total crap. It puts way too high of a priority on songs that have already been played, which means that starting with a clean Kindle, it will play ten or fifteen songs, then begin replaying them endlessly while completely ignoring the other 300 songs on the device. I seriously think Amazon hires chimpanzees on meth as programmers. Randomly selecting items from a list is something I learned how to do in my first programming class. In COBOL, no less.)

Amazon also "updated" their Silk browser. It no longer crashes to hard reset of the Kindle seventeen times an hour, but now I'm plagued with the option to Undo everything I do, and while it's waiting for me to decided if I really would like to Undo what I just did, I can't do anything else until the Undo message goes away.

I know, I know: first-world problems. It's just a shame that Kids These Days will never know what it's like to use software that doesn't start out being a steaming pile of shite, then is constantly "improved" into complete inutility. There isn't a day that I don't mourn the demise of Brown Bag Software.

The mainstream media is in an uproar about Trump because he is doing exactly what he promised to do in his campaign. Yes, precious snowflakes; Trump is not a politician and will not be doing things the way politicians have done things for the last 40 years. Get over it.

Takimag had a good one a few days ago that reminds us deplorables why all the Hollywood types are so angry and hurt:

Can’t you bastards see what you’ve done? You’ve hurt the feelings of those noble souls who seek nothing more in life than to entertain us as they push for progressive tax increases and free health care even though they belong to a union in which dues don’t increase for high earners and medical benefits are a privilege withheld from low earners. These are America’s finest, and you’ve made them feel impotent and unloved. As they cry themselves to sleep on pillows filled with money and oxycodone, just know, Trump voters, that the next OD is on you.

Then John Michael Greer cuts through all the BS as only JMG can do, to reveal what is really going on:

I’d also like to offer the rest of my readers another bit of advice that, again, I hope will prove helpful. As Donald Trump becomes the forty-fifth president of the United States and begins to push the agenda that got him into the White House, it may be useful to have a convenient way to sort through the mix of signals and noise from the opposition. When you hear people raising reasoned objections to Trump’s policies and appointments, odds are that you’re listening to the sort of thoughtful dissent that’s essential to any semblance of democracy, and it may be worth taking seriously. When you hear people criticizing Trump and his appointees for doing the same thing his rivals would have done, or his predecessors did, odds are that you’re getting the normal hypocrisy of partisan politics, and you can roll your eyes and stroll on.

But when you hear people shrieking that Donald Trump is the illegitimate result of a one-night stand between Ming the Merciless and Cruella de Vil, that he cackles in Russian while barbecuing babies on a bonfire, that everyone who voted for him must be a card-carrying Nazi who hates the human race, or whatever other bit of over-the-top hate speech happens to be fashionable among the chattering classes at the moment—why, then, dear reader, you’re hearing a phenomenon as omnipresent and unmentionable in today’s America as sex was in Victorian England. You’re hearing the voice of class bigotry: the hate that dare not speak its name.

And on that note, I'm going to cut this off. Some of my family from Michigan just rolled in.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Pissgate and Other Stuff

Well, the MSM/CIA/DNC/whatever batch of loons you want to mention, have definitely jumped the shark. The latest release of crap (well... piss, really) comes from a failed MI6 spy assigned to Russia who has been known to Russians counterintelligence since the mid-1990's. It reads mostly like some of the sorry attempts at fiction that people self-publish on Amazon. Uncle Vlad has taken to cracking jokes in public about the whole sorry mess. I'm sure our standing in the eyes of the world is soaring....

Anyway, read this for all the details. The whole thing sounds to me like the obsession of someone who got his ass handed to him in the past (meaning Steele, the MI6 agent, who was busted while trying to use fake rocks in a Moscow park to pass information; you cannot make this stuff up). (Or maybe you can....) His own coworkers don't seem to have a great deal of respect for him or his "work".

And Counterpunch, that lefty, liberal, probably-socialist, maybe-even-communist website, published the most definitive take-down of the whole Putin-hacked-the-election nonsense being peddled by the DNC and the CIA that I've seen. It's long and gets a little technical in places, but it is worth the effort to work through. To give away the ending:

There are too many inconsistencies and holes in the official story. In all likelihood, there were multiple intrusions into DNC servers, not all of which have been identified. The public ought to be wary of quick claims of attribution. It requires a long and involved process to arrive at a plausible identification, and in many cases the source can never be determined. As Jeffrey Carr explains, “It’s important to know that the process of attributing an attack by a cybersecurity company has nothing to do with the scientific method. Claims of attribution aren’t testable or repeatable because the hypothesis is never proven right or wrong.”

Russia-bashing is in full swing, and there does not appear to be any letup in sight. We are plunging headlong into a new Cold War, riding on a wave of propaganda-induced hysteria. The self-serving claims fueling this campaign need to be challenged every step of the way. Surrendering to evidence-free emotional appeals would only serve those who arrogantly advocate confrontation and geopolitical domination.

This from a website that links Donald Trump with a resurgent white supremacy movement. Hardly a bunch of Trumpian deplorables.

Enough.

Many who read this already know that my dad ended up in the hospital for five days. It was mostly for nothing. He had severe abdominal pain, so my mom took him up to the ER where they sat around for hours while nothing was done. As usual. Finally, a CAT scan was done and a mass was found. He was also slightly dehydrated. So he was admitted, hooked up to IV's for fluids and antibiotics and assigned a team of around 20 physicians who did absolutely nothing for four days other than stick their heads into his room at all hours of the day and night to assure him they had no idea what the mass was, but it was certainly cancer. They finally did a needle biopsy on the mass and it was not cancer; it was a cyst full of infected puss. He was sent home the next day with prescriptions for antibiotics and a blood pressure med. Understand that there is nothing wrong with my father's blood pressure, but the hospital here seems obsessed with killing everyone over 80 with blood pressure medication, which they came very close to doing to my mother last winter. My parents asked me what to do, and I told them to just get the antibiotics and forget about the blood pressure med. He's fine, of course. The pain (which went away soon after they started him on fluids) was probably a kidney stone, which my dad has had numerous times before. The whole thing could have been handled on an outpatient basis without scaring the living crap out of him with all the cancer talk based on absolutely no evidence whatsoever.

But I'm sure Medicare will be paying a hefty chunk for five days in a private room with hourly checks. And I'm sure my parents will be hit for another big chunk once the balance billing kicks in. As we all now know, this is the purpose of the medical-industrial complex.

Speaking of medical issues, Debbie's arm is acting up again. I'll be driving her to an appointment tomorrow. She's been told that she needs to start looking into permanent disability because, while no one can figure out what the exact problem is, working most certainly is what is causing it. She will probably be eligible for Social Security before she gets through all the paperwork, but it may be worth the hassle. Or not.

Or the business she works for goes bankrupt in the Great Depression of 2017 and the problem fixes itself.

I'm still having issues with the new computer. Everything was working fine until one sunny morning, after yet-another of Microsoft's forced updates, I could no longer print anything to our network printer. Debbie's PC, which is also running the (presumably) same version of Windows 10 has no problems printing to the very same printer. I really don't want to buy another printer just for this, but I've been thinking about getting something I can print photos from. Maybe this will be the excuse to finally pull the trigger.

I did finally find a music app that I like. I'm running MusicBee which seems to do everything I need a music app to do; namely, play music. (I found out the hard way that that's not always a given for  a music app.) I also create playlists by using text in the comment field, such as "Debbie", "Kindle", "Party", "Emo" etc. iTunes and WinAmp have been able to do this since the early 2000's, but iTunes got too... err... Apple-ish? Jobs-ish? Control-freak-is? And WinAmp lost its support base and hasn't been updated in a really long time. Many of the other players out there cannot do this including Windows Media Player. MusicBee can. I still don't have a way to automatically send new stuff with the "Kindle" tag to my Kindle like WinAmp could (sometimes) do (poorly). But I haven't really looked, either. There is an Android app, but unless specifically written for the Kindle, those rarely work inside Amazon's walled garden. If nothing else, I can tell MusicBee to export the Kindle playlist to a separate folder, then xcopy changes to the Kindle via USB. Not the most elegant solution, but it's not like I buy music all that often.

On the other hand, the app was free, so it was likely written by the NSA and is sending streaming video and audio to the Big Black Box in Maryland.

We've also been looking for a new camera for my parents. The camera they had just stopped working and we've been out looking around for a replacement. But I can't find anything that is a) simple enough for a couple in their 80's to operate, b) has buttons big enough for a couple in their 80's to see and be able to press, c) doesn't weigh 800 pounds, and d) doesn't cost $1,000,000. I'm not sure what happened in the digital camera market in the last few years, but I'm not seeing anything that meets all four criteria. If it costs from $100-$200, it's small enough to fit in your nostril and can only be operated with a molecular probe under an electron microscope. Everything else retails for $12,000 (batteries, battery charger, memory cards and lenses not included) and comes with a Sherpa and a mule to haul it around. I've been scrounging around for our old Sony Cybershot, which would be perfect. (The new ones are nostril cams.) I have a feeling we sold it or gave it away at some point.

Well, I need to get something done today. It has mostly been a complete waste (other than cranking out another brilliant bit of prose, of course). But I guess I need to have a day off once in a while.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Good Bye National Geographic

I believe I just received my last ever National Geographic magazine. I've been reading them since I was in grade school and started my own subscription shortly after graduating from high school. (Back in those days, you had to be 18 to subscribe and needed an existing member to "sponsor" you into the Society.) I've seen a great deal of changes in the magazine over the decades. Some were good. Some sucked. But on balance, I always found something worth my time in every issue.

Until the January 2017 issue.

The cover depicts a gender dysphoric boy dressed in pink girl clothes, in a classic pin-up pose. The entire issue is devoted to gender dysphoric children. If this is yet-another new direction for the magazine, then it will be a direction they will be travelling without me. Sorry, but I have no desire to pay to have pedophile porn mailed to my home. Even us deplorables have standards.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

United States of Goldman Sachs

I guess "draining the swamp" is following "hope and change" to wherever it is political slogans go to die once they've served their purpose: get the rubes to vote for you. Goldman Sachs is going to be doing some serious recruitment over the spring to replace all the "talent" The Donald has poached for his administration. Between GS running the economy and all the most bat-shit crazy generals running the military, the next four years could be rather entertaining.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are doing everything in their power to make themselves look ridiculous:


With Trump blowing up the Republican Party, you would think the Democrats would spend their energy taking advantage of that instead of running around screaming, "The Russians are coming!! The Russians are coming!!" There can't be anyone left in the world that thinks Americans are anything other than a bunch of psychopaths and crybabies.

Anyway, Happy New Year!!

Mine started off with having to clean up puke all over the men's room and hallway at work. Seriously? Are there really people over the age of 20 that still drink until they puke all over the place the next morning? At least say something instead of leaving it for my opening bartender to step in. 

So first, a 2016 wrap up: Nothing has really changed. We still haven't hit the Power Ball, so Debbie is still selling cruises and I'm still working full time at the Moose Lodge. We did finally get some work done on the place, but not by me. We ended up hiring outside help which probably doubled the cost, but at least something got done. We've also got the water leak patched and an estimate to rip out all the old, crappy plumbing in this place and redo it while also adding in a hook-up for a washer/dryer out in the new shed. We will probably hold off until the snowbirds leave in May to do that. In the meantime, we're busy rearranging stuff and hauling away everything we can do without in an attempt to give ourselves some elbow room in here.

We did good on the reading front. I signed up for a 50 book challenge on Goodreads and managed to blow past that with 65 books total. The two of us put away something like 110+ books for the year. Not bad considering all the distractions like work. I re-signed up for another 50-book challenge for 2017. I thought about upping it, but decided to leave well enough alone. A book a week is a pretty good clip while working full-time. No sense in straining myself.

We again met our primary goals of not ending up homeless or killing anyone, but it was close on the second one a couple times. I've said it before but it needs repeating; of all the personality disorders out there, narcissism does not age well. There is nothing worse than a self-important asshat who has absolutely nothing meaningful to do with his time.

Predictions:

Last year I said the fracking bubble would continue leaking air, and it did. In spades. 2017 will be more of the same. Oil prices stayed low all of 2016 and even with the reductions in fracking and tar sands, that won't likely change much in 2017. As more countries like Japan, China, the EU continue wobbling, demand will likely continue to decline, while places like Russia and Saudi Arabia will keep pumping as much as they can.

I also expect 2017 to be the year of some sort of "event". A major bank failure, derivatives blow up defaults on car and/or student loans, real estate, stocks, bonds. There are lots of bubbles out there that look ready to pop. James Kunstler is calling The Donald the "Designated Bag Holder" which is something I've been saying all summer. Hillary may still end up being the winner of the 2016 election by not winning. If there is some kind of "event", we may end up with neither of us working. We have an emergency stash, but it ain't that big and even in the best of times, Zephyrhills is hardly a boom town. If things do go seriously sideways and you are related to one of us, expect company.

Well, I have to cut this short and get some dinner going.