Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happiness is a New Version of Linux OS

Today I'm happy, because SolydX laid its golden egg for April the 15th, and I made pudding with it, updating two of my computers to the latest and greatest that Linux has to offer.

I don't know whether Windows users can grasp the happiness I feel. A new version of the SolydX OS is like a new version of Windows, except I don't have to reinstall or reconfigure anything. Imagine going from Windows XP to Windows 7, while keeping all of your configuration. Nice, eh? Now imagine you do it for free and legally. Get the picture? Linux is nice. Just--nice.

My other favorite operating system, Xubuntu, is due to lay a new golden egg today. I'm watching that hen with eagle eyes, waiting for the egg to pop out, so I can crack it open and make omelettes on two of my computers.

Come on, chicken. I just checked DistroWatch--no dice. Come onnnn! Lay that egg!

What's nice about Xubuntu's upcoming release is that it will be an LTS, a Long-Term Support release, good for many years to come. That makes it even more special than usual. Anyone who is curious about Linux should definitely choose this moment to make a leap of faith into the wonderful world of free operating systems. The payoff will be even greater than usual.

If you're a Linux neophyte, then begin your journey with Xubuntu. I like Xubuntu's "keep it simple, stupid" philosophy. Through their relationship with Canonical, they access timely security updates that make the paranoid less so. Also, Xubuntu holds hands during installation and updates, and even though I know a thing or two in my advanced wizardry, I do appreciate the hand-holding, because it saves me time and bother. The only downside to Xubuntu is the unfortunate choice of the two-panel approach, which SolydX avoids. I don't really grasp the need for a panel at the top and a panel at the bottom of the desktop, but this can be tweaked away. Canonical's feverish innovations in their Software Manager have also caused new bugs, but there is always Synaptic Package Manager to fall back on if the Software Manager misbehaves.

If you're a computer wiz, give SolydX or SolydK a spin. Try SolydX if you have old hardware or SolydK if you have newer hardware. My rule of thumb is that if you have 4 gigs of RAM, give SolydK a try, because you might like it and certainly you have more than enough memory. If you have less than 4 gigs of RAM, go with SolydX. You may prefer its agility and solidity. I chose SolydX mainly because I prefer a conservative, solid desktop with few issues. KDE tends to be more cutting-edge and enterprising, aggressive in developing new features.

04/18/2014 Update:

My Xubuntu upgrade from version 13.10 to version 14.04 functioned flawlessly and with minimal user interaction, making for a stress-free, calm and relaxing evening! In-place upgrade of an existing version is an awesome feature that makes the Ubuntu family more competitive against other Linux distributions. Never before have I seen as effortless an upgrade as tonight--certainly not in the Windows world, but not in the Linux world either.

On my second Xubuntu computer, I left the updater running overnight. When I checked on it the next morning, xscreensaver had frozen on a particular picture, and the computer was unresponsive. I powered the machine off, rebooted, and ran the updater again, and it picked up just where it had left off. Impressive! That shows that a significant amount of testing and refinement has gone into the installation and update process and reaffirms my confidence in Xubuntu.

I recommend Xubuntu to users fleeing the realm of Windows. Xubuntu is easy to use--no degree in computer science required! As a matter of fact, I maintain that Xubuntu is easier to use than Windows, because there is far, far less probability of picking up a malware infection in Xubuntu, for a lot of different reasons. Avoid the trojan-infested pirated copies of Windows and install a free, legal and open-source Linux distro instead.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Marijuana Brain Abnormalities

The only "brain abnormalities" are found in the marijuana-less minds of the media. The U.S. media does not understand basic science reporting. The newspapers and television stations have sold their souls to the alcohol companies, and the alcohol companies are scared to death that Americans will wake up to the fact that weed is better for you than booze. They stand to lose billion$ and will lose billion$ when the country wakes up from its infatuation with fungi feces.

Articles that portray cannabis in an objective and scientific light may be found at NORML.

Weed costs next to nothing to produce, is non-toxic and non-addictive, is self-renewable, removes carbon from the air, produces many useful products besides marijuana, and has a pharmaceutical history spanning thousands of years, which is why we know for a fact that weed is safer than aspirin.

Alcohol is the toxic waste product of microorganisms feeding upon death and decay, the bringer of madness and ill health. Weed is better than alcohol by any measure one could imagine. The living plant harnesses energy from the Sun to produce a substance that makes humans feel high. What weed does not do includes the whole list of negative attributes that belong to alcohol. It does not cause addiction, it does not cause insanity, it does not make the non-violent violent, and it does not harm its user.

There was never, at any time, a rational motive for making marijuana illegal. A return to sanity would be marked first of all by the legalization of marijuana for all purposes. However, human society is known for many irrational acts, such as war, crime, self-harm and collective self-harm, including pollution of the environment. The laws against marijuana seem almost insignificant by comparison to the many other signs of craziness. What is needed is a saner and more rational world that learns to love understanding and wisdom and reject lies and corruption.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Unconscious Gun Owners

A new wrinkle in the modern age are unconscious gun owners. They're asleep, in fear, in a trance or otherwise not responsible when they pull the trigger. They want to have their guns, kill their victims and remain free to kill again and again and again, because they really love killing, and that's what they intend to do with their lives. Why else would someone be completely obsessed with firearms? A mind that hates gravitates toward the tools of hatred, methods of killing and harming perceived "enemies."

Oscar Pistorius says he didn't consciously pull the trigger four times when he killed his girlfriend, splattering her brains all over the bathroom. So, he shot through the closed bathroom door because, I don't know, he was in a trance or something? Yeah, right. I'm sure half the people on death row were in a trance or something.

Too often, the rich get away with murder, rape, and other crimes that would send a poor person to jail for a very long time. Justice is selective. The law hates the poor and loves the rich. If you're poor, you're already guilty, the question is how many years do you get. If you're rich, you're innocent. One way or the other, the judge is going to make a special accommodation for you, because you suffer from "affluenza" or were upset or impaired or sleepy-headed at the time of the crime. Go back home, take a nap, and kill or rape again.

All defendants should have a court-appointed defence counsel, a public defender chosen at random, and there should be no private defence lawyers allowed at all. Expose the rich to the public defender system and let them experience its tender mercies. I think if that rule were implemented, overnight one would see vastly increased funding for public defenders. Their salaries and numbers would increase, while their caseloads would decrease.

Bloomberg's new gun control group is good news for the U.S. and reminds me that some of the super-rich have super-consciences and really care about the destiny of the world they live in.

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Stopped Breathing

I had a dream last night that I had stopped breathing. I actually did, too, which woke me up.

In my dream, I was six years old again and walking to the bus stop in winter. Standing there were the bullies, a boy four years older than me and a girl five years older than me. Both were twice my size. They were never satisfied unless I was crying or otherwise distressed and made it their mission in life to ensure these things from Monday to Friday.

I remember them now, but I doubt they remember me at all. I can recall both their first and last names, their physical appearance, and the address of their homes. That's something that bullies don't tend to think about, the possibility that their victims grow up and remember. Bullies don't tend to do much thinking.

It was unfortunate, growing up with such people for neighbors and schoolmates, people whose only concern in life was whether they were big and strong enough to lord it over someone smaller. Part of the misfortune was the opportunity cost. If their spaces had been occupied by people that were interesting and friendly, I might have made a good friend. As it was, they were completely worthless, offering nothing except abuse. They were a waste of space.

As I grew bigger, these people stopped being bullies, because they did not have the size advantage anymore. Bullies are cowards, after all.

The girl changed. I met her once and she was unusually polite. I asked her why she was acting so different now, and she said she had matured. She may have even apologized for past behavior, but I don't remember. She played the repentant monster, but she was still a monster. I could tell. There are smiles of happiness, and then there are smiles that serve as a mask to conceal what is beneath. She had shown her true self to me long ago, and I remembered.

The boy was always the silent type and remained so. The only thing he was interested in was his skateboard. I never saw much difference between him and the skateboard. Anytime he was asked a question, there was a delay as he calculated the minimum number of syllables needed to provide an answer. Usually a grunt or a shrug or obscenity was the pinnacle of his expression. He had seemed scary when I was little, but part of the scariness was his size and reptilian personality.

These are the monsters that lurk in the mind and every once in a while come out at night.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Politicians Just Don't Get Technology

I'm a fan of Kathleen Sebelius, because a few years ago, she posted a video on Youtube that reached out to gay teens as part of the "It Gets Better" campaign, and in general, she seems well-spoken. She's a good speaker. Technology may not be her particular strength, but there are a lot of people out there like that, including people in positions of power in Congress. I doubt half the senators or representatives understand Jack about the Internet or computers, and I'm pretty sure Obama hasn't much of a clue of what is going on. Certainly the Republicans are clueless. The Republicans want to let ISPs throttle the bandwidth for sites like Netflix and Youtube. ISP's are the reason that the U.S. ranks lower than Uruguay when it comes to bandwidth speed. They cripple the U.S. economy, are clear and obvious monopolies, and should be nationalized, because the government could do a better job at Internet service than the monopolies are right now. If the government offered Internet service, it would be $25 a month, ten times faster than it is now, and we wouldn't get those little advertisements in the mail every week. The same logic applies to postal service. Because the government delivers mail, a letter can be sent across the country for less than fifty cents. If a private company delivered mail, the cost would be $10.

The trouble with politicians is that they surround themselves with people who know politics. All their friends, their family, their allies--politicians. But when it comes to a web site or any matter having to do with technology, what is needed is a good, old-school, experienced geek like myself. Not some young hacker, but somebody who has supported complicated systems on a 24/7 basis for over ten years. Somebody like me, in other words. I'd be delighted to consult over the phone and via video conference on a 24/7 basis and would not expect that much in the way of salary, other than to pay my bills and keep myself together and in chuckles.

Alas, this is all a pipe dream. I'm stuck in a small town working outside my profession for peanuts, and the politicians are stuck in Washington surrounded by people who give them poor advice based upon political factors. The politicians will continue to make stupid, zombie-brain mistakes that derail their political aspirations, and I will continue to be without a career.


The NSA's Heartbleed bug that complicated e-commerce for everybody is just a recent example of the NSA's determination to destroy the U.S. economy by any means possible. Whatever the NSA is doing, I think the ends do not justify the means, and whoever is running that outfit could not reason his way out of a paper bag. I feel less secure, not more secure, by all the things the NSA does. It seems to me to act more like an enemy of the U.S. than a proper government agency. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

I Am Not a Free Teacher

I did not volunteer to be the free teacher of the Internet. When strangers leave profane comments, I delete. I can think of about twenty reasons that profanity is a bad idea and no reasons why it is a good idea. The English language is wonderfully complex, with many choices of words available. I suggest that individuals with limited vocabulary study hard to expand their vocabulary and browse a couple of books on etiquette. On the other hand, don't take my advice. Ignore it. Let life be your teacher...

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Boston Bomber

I was reading today more about the Boston Bomber and his victims. It seems to me that he and his brother were cowards, going for easy targets in the U.S. which never once did any harm in his native land of Chechnya. Had he an ounce of courage, he would have attacked Russia, or more specifically Putin, the author of so many of Chechnya's miseries. But no, Russia was too tough for him, so he came over to the West and lived the easy life on taxpayer's dollars until such time as he blew up a bunch of innocent, happy people who had never done him or his people any harm at all. His cause: absolute evil. His target: good people. It's hard to argue against the death penalty for such scum. Perhaps we do need the death penalty for cases like his. His body can be converted into fertilizer and used to nourish trees and landscaping near the site of the bombing, about the only use left in him.

Too often, criminal scum lash out at innocent victims. There may have been people who had done them wrong in the past. Instead of targeting those people, the criminal scum instead join them and become part of the team, hurting others. It is almost like a virus of criminality spreading through the human race, looking for people who have not yet been infected, who have not been brought low by misery and misfortune. Happy people are targeted. Those who are already miserable seem to be left alone.

The Most Important Story Today in the U.S.

As usual, Mother Jones publishes the most important news story in the U.S. today about the attempt by Republicans to cement their hold over large areas of the South by restricting voter participation.
The other media venues, from The New York Times to The Atlantic, are hysterical over Eich stepping down as Mozilla's CEO ("anti-gay bullying activists are the biggest bullies of all!" screams the Los Angeles Times). They are weepy and enraged over anything that might put a crimp in a billionaire's style. Issues of concern to workers are deemed unimportant. That is why I do not read those media sources any more. They are just propaganda for the super-rich.

At this time, there are two media sources in the United States worth reading: Mother Jones and The Washington Post. In the United Kingdom, I like The Guardian and the BBC.

Here's a scientific article I think should be front page news in every newspaper in the world. Researchers have created a device that lets quadriplegics stand on their own, original legs. That's huge and rates up there with the discovery of albuterol for asthma.

Is this getting proper coverage in the media? No, the media is all concerned about stock market gyrations that impact the investments of billionaires and whether someone had the audacity to disrespect a CEO or some other member of the upper class.

Bad, bad gay political activists. How dare you draw attention to something that a CEO did. Know your place. You're workers. You're unimportant. Don't get uppity. A CEO does whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and no one has any right to criticize. Isn't that right, Los Angeles Times?

Monday, April 7, 2014

Listen to Other People

One of my saving graces is I listen to other people. I've always been that way, interested in the opinions and ideas of others. If someone else has a bright idea, never do I find that threatening or annoying. Instead, I'm pleased. I like nothing better than to take other people's ideas and run with them. And before the Ayn Rand crowd points the finger and calls me a "second-hander," I'd like to point out everybody's a second-hander that uses a computer, car, or phone, period, case closed. If you get around with only the things you came up with yourself, then you must be a wild man out in the woods. More power to you, but I doubt you're going to set the world on fire anytime soon.

I never did warm to Ayn Rand's arrogance in declaring that a tiny minority of people are fountainheads to be exalted and revered and everybody else is disposable garbage. People are fountainheads to varying extents, but probably no one is original more than 1% of the time. The vast majority of ideas are pilfered, and anyone who doesn't accept that is not living in the real world. Even the great minds like Edison stole ideas from gents like Tesla, from what I understand reading The Oatmeal. Give genius its due, but don't go overboard. Everybody deserves a place at the table, decent working conditions, good times, and good health. Such a policy preserves the peace.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Manual Labor, Family

As a young man, I worked a variety of jobs. The ones I had the most problem with and lasted the least amount of time were the physical ones that required lifting or standing for five or more hours at a time. Maybe my lack of stamina was caused by Mitral Valve Prolapse. I don't really know for sure, but I report to work early, want to work, and want to get things done in the right way. Good intentions don't account for much, however.

Life has thrown me many tests that called upon my weakest traits. I was a short-order cook for a fast food restaurant, a bag boy (they call them customer service associates now, I believe), ditch digger, delivery truck packer, and apartment maintenance technician. None of these jobs I did well in. I didn't crash and burn. I got along reasonably well with everybody, but was only mediocre in performance. I didn't seem to have enough get-up-and-go. I took to eating candy at work for extra energy, but that only went so far.

Delivery truck packing was the worst. I got up at 2:30 AM in the morning, reported to the delivery facility by 3:30 AM, and packed trucks from then to, I believe, 8:30 AM. My back was killing me all the time. One day, I called in and told the boss I quit. He seemed quite angry, but I didn't see any other options with the back pain I was experiencing. Curiously, he said that in order to pick up my last paycheck, I had to report to his office and answer a questionnaire. He said this was a corporate requirement. He explained it as a safeguard to ensure I was not going to claim discrimination or hostile working conditions. I had claimed nothing of the sort. I think the real purpose was to educate him on how to weed out applicants like me sooner. He asked me why I was quitting, whether I felt I was discriminated against, what the problem was, and so on and so forth. I think it's fairly obvious I'm thin and don't have a lot of meat on my bones, and that's about the only criteria he needed to consider during the application process. Anyone with a clear pair of eyes could see loading a truck with heavy packages was not my particular strength. Perhaps he should have adjusted his bifocals instead of playing twenty questions with my paycheck.

As a college student, I worked as a ditch digger for my uncle. He paid me $10 an hour, which was a pretty good wage for unskilled labor back in the day and, sadly, still is, twenty years later. Wages have not changed much in twenty years, although prices have. My uncle was a great guy, a smart executive. I liked him very much and wanted to please him. I did a lot of digging with a shovel and moving earth with a wheelbarrow. I also clipped hedges. But again with the back pain. After a couple weeks, I quit that job, too. My uncle said that he thought I should get some sort of job using my mind, not my body, and of course, he was right.

The last interaction I ever had with my uncle was with that job, but I think part of that is that my uncle and father never got along. The job was a highly unusual interaction with my extended family. I think my uncle perceived I had some sort of potential and for that reason extended an invitation to work. Or maybe he just really needed someone to dig those holes. His son wasn't doing it. His son drove thirty miles to pick me up to do it, and then he would drive off and I wouldn't see him again. As for my uncle, he suffered from back pain himself and didn't do any digging, either. He told me he thought I could do it because I was younger. Being younger helps, for sure, but it's not everything.

My extended family was never the "stay-in-touch" kind. Not only do we not have reunions, but it has been a good twenty years since I've seen any cousins, uncles or aunts, and I expect to go to the grave with the status quo. No sort of bond was formed early in life, so that's that. Geographical distance and my being gay are additional factors that cement the separation. Family can be pretty difficult for a gay kid. If he is very effeminate, then possibly he can bond with female cousins, but my female cousins were teenaged and only interested in hanging out with their friends and with boys their age. Anyway, I'm not very effeminate and am not the type of gay that can establish instant rapport with women. I don't think I ever had a conversation with a female cousin that lasted more than two minutes. Because I was a boy, I was expected to play with the one male cousin that was my age, but he wanted to play rough and mean and do things with guns. He got in trouble often. He wasn't interested in any of the things I was interested in, such as board games or books. The other cousins felt they were too old to associate with me, probably because they were doing illegal drugs and hanging around loose women and didn't want me to rat them out. Eventually, we lost touch altogether, and I think they were the main ones that opted for that outcome.

When I got married, it never occurred to me to suppose that any one of them would be the slightest bit interested in my life, so none received wedding invitations. This seems to be quite common in modern society, although my readings have indicated to me that the past was different, that families were closer and that they tended to help one another. But I suppose a lot depends upon the family and the people that make it up. Life's a roll of the dice. The only people who attended my wedding was the married straight couple that drove us up to the free state and a gay friend of that couple. No one related to either of us nor any of our close friends attended our wedding.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

I Like Google News

I like google news. That's the take-home from the whole Mozilla CEO brouhaha.

What a lovely word "brouhaha" is. It expresses so much with so little.

Oh, I've always been a fan of Google--just not crazy about their browser. I have a little suspicion that Google is good. Could be. But then I used to think the same about Mozilla. I'm not always right in my hunches. That's why I don't plan to join the Psychic's Union.

Using the wonderful options available at, I have deleted the New York Times, Slate, The Atlantic, and the Christian Science Monitor from my daily news feed and will never read them again. I don't need to read them in my advanced age. They are rather hysterical to say the least. Voices of wisdom, they are not. I have the strong suspicion their writers are told what to write anyway by their wealthy masters and that their opinions may play only a minor role, if any.

Putin and Bush

The story of Putin's encounter with President Bush's dog Barney is most revealing. I think it is true. It certainly has the ring of truth. Putin sounds like just the kind of guy who would tell Bush "my dog is stronger and smarter than your dog," and that's also a not-so-subtle tell that he thought himself stronger and smarter than Bush.

Putin probably thinks himself superior to most people. He believes his superiority justifies a lot of different behavior, and in fact, believes he is acting with great restraint, compared to what he could do. His is the "might makes right" philosophy, ever-popular among dictators, thugs, and bullies.

Bush is better than Putin any day of the week, of course. That goes without saying. Sometimes Americans get too caught up in our domestic politics. It's good to step back and compare notes with other nations around the world. Clearly, Bush is better than Putin by a factor of about a hundred to one.

I like Bush a lot better now that he is out of office. I'm surprised by his interest in painting and really think his artwork is better than a lot of stuff I see in art galleries. I like realism, and Bush's paintings are realistic in the sense I can tell what they are about. I think all Presidents improve dramatically in public opinion once they leave office. I also like Bush's dog.

Today, Bush seems like a likeable character, but I just don't think he was right for the role of President. I think he made a lot of mistakes. The economy went south on his watch, and he did not push for regulation of the stock market and the banks like he should have. He should have fixed systemic problems in the financial system, first and foremost. That was the most important thing. He also erred in going to war. Perhaps he realizes too late that Russia is a real threat, whereas Afghanistan and Iraq were paper tigers, merely convenient targets to engage our defense industry and enrich the owners. I also believe Bush did not perform adequate oversight of our intelligence agencies. He let them get away with too much. Bush seemed too trusting of his advisors, of his friends and colleagues. Sometimes it is also good to listen to the other side, to dissenting voices. Bush seemed closed off from that, unreceptive to any voice that didn't purr praise in his ear. Just because people are not your political allies does not necessarily mean they are wrong. Lincoln understood that.

Any President that wants to do right in the world should call up Jimmy Carter. He is an example of a former world leader with an excellent conscience. If people think that he is too good, that he is naive and simple, then that is not a negative. That is a positive. So many of the people a politician listens to are focused upon what is expedient. It is important to hear not what is expedient, but what is right. Right action is better in the long-term. Right action is what great leaders are made of.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Mozilla CEO's Resignation

Funny how some voices in the media are bemoaning the resignation of Mozilla's CEO as a "violation of liberal values."

That guy was rich before and will remain rich afterward. I'm sure he's crying all the way to the bank. CEOs make too much money and grab too much undeserved credit anyway.

The CEO has immense power and prestige, and his financial reward is tied to company performance. The CEO is the figurehead and direct representative of a product. If Mozilla's CEO is against my marriage, then Mozilla is against me. All of this should be immediately obvious to anyone that took business classes in college or high school. Perhaps some writers do not understand what a CEO is. Or perhaps they do not understand what marriage is or why it is important. A dictionary can be helpful for those two subjects. After that, one can always reference Wikipedia for further learning.

I'd like to see how those writers would feel if I passed a law saying they are no longer married to their wives, and all their possessions and their children are in legal limbo. I don't know, I bet they might feel differently about things--how much do you want to bet? Maybe they need to spend the next ten years dealing with legal hassles and paying lawyers about thirty to forty thousand dollars. That might be good medicine for them, to teach them how to understand news stories better. Lack of empathy is a common shortcoming in the media. Some people only learn when something bad happens to them.

A CEO is a politician, which is a little bit different from being an engineer. Mozilla's choice for a CEO needs to please Mozilla's customers and shareholders. If people dislike him from the get-go, then that's a huge problem, any way you choose to spin it.

An engineer can believe pretty much anything, and nobody cares, because he's unseen, a worker bee toiling in anonymity, much like I was for ten years. I was a gay liberal techie working in a conservative, homophobic company. I shut the hell up about not just my political views but my personal life too, because that's the way it was, and you know what, I don't recall any voices in the media expressing their outrage that I was silenced and my freedom of speech was all trampled upon. Freedom of speech? What's that? If a techie working mostly unseen in a corporate office doesn't have it, then why on earth would a CEO?

Someone like that Mozilla CEO wants to interject themselves into my household and try to order me around about who I can and cannot be with--that's a huge problem. To hell with that CEO. I'm glad he's stepped down, and I hope they pick someone that is worth a damn next time around.

I've seen plenty of workers canned for less, people that couldn't afford to lose their jobs, canned for the pettiest of reasons. They don't get articles written in their defence. They don't get a voice in the media. I've never been fired, but I have been without work in my profession for a long time. I am an excellent programmer. Technology is what I do best, but instead, what I do for a living is manual labor that uses nothing I learned in college and draws upon none of my skills. Who is going to write an article in my defence? No, what the media wants to do is play the violin for a CEO.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Chocolate Vs. Marijuana

Which is better, chocolate or marijuana? This is a difficult question, because both are good in their own way and for their own purposes. The only way to choose between the two is to envision being stranded on a desert island with only one or the other.

Overall, I would have to go with chocolate. I have noticed that very dark chocolate (cocao content > 80%) acts as an effective antidepressant and overall stimulant. I feel better and think better under the influence of chocolate. Chocolate does not detract from intellectual agility in the way that marijuana does. It is legal and comparatively much cheaper. The lower caloric cost of marijuana is counterbalanced by the munchies. Marijuana actually results in increased caloric consumption, so that the effect on diet is probably much worse than that resulting from chocolate's high amount of saturated fat.

My hobbies, such as chess, reading, and working on web sites, aren't exactly rocket science, but they do require a certain amount of intellectual agility, and because of that, chocolate is more compatible with me. Marijuana dumbs me down and requires a lot of adjustments and is better for those rare occasions when I have nothing to do, as when I am in a waiting mode, waiting for something to begin.

I think weed is useful for medicinal purposes in order to decay the memory of unpleasant experiences. It is also effective at addressing anxiety and boredom. I think it can open up non-spiritual people to spiritual experiences. Without marijuana, it is almost impossible for me to really understand religious phenomena. I am very grounded in the material world. Under the influence of marijuana, I leave this world and its concerns, drift up into the atmosphere and can look at the "big picture," so to speak.

I am very happy I quit drinking almost completely. I will drink at a party once in a while, maybe once every three months, just to prove my immunity to the temptation. Such occasional drinking does not result in any relapse. I don't feel tempted the next day to get more. Instead, I feel reinforced in my conviction not to drink for the most part.

Since I gave up drinking, I find that I am less compatible with drinkers and vice versa. Drinkers aren't much for thinking. They aren't much for ideas. Drinkers only want to hang out with other drinkers, so I find that my not-drinking results in fewer social invitations. Besides, it's not fun being the sober one around a bunch of sloppy drunks. There are many people whose idea of fun begins and ends with a bottle of liquor, wine or beer. I won't say I'm immune to the attraction, but as I got older I found that alcohol did not agree with my body or mind and had too many negative consequences. I do not like myself when I am under the influence of alcohol. I'm not a "happy drunk." Rather, I perceive that evil gets a foothold into my world when I drink. When I see a bottle now, I just see potential problems rather than a bottle of fun like some of my friends. I see alcohol as a means by which evil enters this world. Fuel for demons.

It is very interesting to me to observe that many, although not all drinkers tend to dislike marijuana. I think they do not like it because it is variable and somewhat unpredictable. Alcohol on the other hand is Old Reliable. They know exactly what they are getting into when they drink.

Marijuana is an ancient sacrament and a precursor to spiritual awakening. I think that it has been an overall positive influence in my own life. One of its features that outshine all other substances is that it is non-addictive. One can quit just so, overnight. It is not in any way difficult. When the need for sobriety arises, then one puts it aside. Sometimes the Goddess appears at the gateway and instructs the user to go back to the world. This is what unpleasant experiences are about. They are a warning to return. There are times when the marijuana can be useful, and times when one has had enough.

Among marijuana users that I know, for many of them, weed is just another item on the recreational menu along with alcohol, unfortunately. I do not know why that is, but I would like it to change. I wish that more people awakened to the knowledge that marijuana is better than alcohol by any measure at all. I wish that more people knew that alcohol is very harmful. Unfortunately, there are many social pressures against marijuana, whereas alcohol is accepted by law enforcement, employers, and society at large. All of the pressure from the law and from society is focused upon the less harmful substance. This is due to a lack of understanding.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Firefox and Eich, the Anti-Gay CEO

I hadn't planned to boycott Firefox over Mozilla's anti-gay marriage CEO. However, OKCupid does make a good point. The CEO of a company is rewarded based on a company's performance. If Mozilla does well, then Eich is rewarded, and then he can spend more money opposing my civil rights and trying to make me suffer. The Mozilla CEO does not believe that my relationship should have ANY protection under the law. He would smile while my partner is deprived of all my assets after I die. The more I think about it, the more I dislike Mozilla's CEO. A thousand dollars is a lot of money to spend trying to hurt me and other people like me.

I've been a Mozilla evangelist since forever, but now, I'm thinking that maybe it is time to look into Chrome, Chromium, and/or Opera.

Mozilla's blunder in choosing their CEO is more than just ethically wrong. It indicates a high degree of social incompetence on the part of Mozilla's leaders. They do not understand the society in which they live. They do not understand the human beings that use their browser. They are social incompetents. This has been made crystal clear. Perhaps that is why the Firefox browser has been busy removing features I like, such as the navigational icons, and introducing features I dislike and features that do not work well. Firefox Sync is one example. It does not work well at all. It is not intuitive, and takes a lot of time to learn how to use, assuming in the first place that one is very familiar with computers. The new tab feature is another problem in Firefox. Opening a new tab presents a wall of garbage to the end user, and changing that behavior is both anti-intuitive and cumbersome. Probably the new CEO was behind all of these changes. Everytime I install Firefox, I have to tweak it for a couple of hours to mold it into something I want to use. The question is why should I bother, especially since Mozilla has now declared their hatred for gays?

April 2nd, 2014 Update:

I looked into Opera, but the Linux version hasn't been updated in a long time. That to me is a deal-breaker, so adios, Opera. Next on the list: Chrome.

Chrome has the latest version available for 64-bit Linux. When I installed it on my Xubuntu rig, it pulled in all the configuration info from Firefox automatically. I did not have to set my home page or the navigational icons. Very impressive. The only thing I'm missing is the History icon. It's something I use all the time, and I don't see it in Chrome. I really don't understand why Chrome won't support a History icon when there are 1680 pixels available for the navigation strip. I don't think many Internet urls are going to require anything close to my monitor's 1680 pixels. I see that Chrome expects the user to hold down the Back button to access History, but that's stupid. I want a button, and there is room for a button, so why isn't there a button? There also is no Bookmarks button or Downloads button. Chrome's solutions involve adding long strips that severely reduce the available browsing space, which is very bad for widescreen monitors. From what I see, Chrome is trying to capture the mobile gadget market and doesn't care about desktops.

I think I'm going to have to put off changing browsers for the time being. Chrome seems designed for a handheld device, not a desktop. Options and functionality are hidden away, compartmentalized, so as to look good on a screen with tiny resolution. Chrome does not offer any mechanism to customize the browser's toolbar. Chrome is permanently dumbed-down. Chrome is more tedious to use for an experienced, Internet-savvy user. Many more clicks and gyrations of the mouse will be required in order to get things done in Chrome. Am I willing to spend more time to perform simple Internet tasks in order to use Chrome? Not really.


Mozilla goofed big-time with their CEO appointment disappointment, but the other big browsers are snoozing in their easy chairs and aren't prepared to take advantage, which is to say market share. Chrome is designed for handhelds, and Opera and Internet Explorer are for Windows only. I'm a hardcore, cut-me-and-I-bleed-tech power user, and I don't intend to handicap myself by using handhelds or Windows. There really is no other contender for Linux on the desktop other than Firefox. Firefox is the nine-hundred pound gorilla in the ring. I think I'll just put a clothespin on my nose and endure the stench of their leadership choice for the time being, unless Opera decides Linux is worth supporting again. I'm kind of curious about Opera, but I'm not willing to mess around with a version that is several years old. Get with the times, Opera.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I'm a Linux Evangelist

The idea of converting someone from Windows to Linux turns me on so much that I will practically do the work for free.

Well, not quite. But I charge very little. Someone called me up reporting a malware infection in their Windows computer, and they couldn't find their Windows installation disk. When that happens, rather than suggest that they call Microsoft or pay $75 - $100 for a new disk, I suggest switching over to Linux.

My reasoning is that first and foremost, Linux is safer. It is a secure operating system. Period. It is absolutely ideal for beginners and those who know nothing about technology. By setting someone up with Linux, I know they are much safer from the threat of malware infections, for which they have already demonstrated a vulnerability. To set them up with Windows again would simply be negligent, as though I didn't care what happened to them after collecting my fee. This is exactly what most techs do.

I certainly have an evangelical thread in my personality. I'm a Linux evangelist. I want to grow the Linux community. I want to bring in non-technical people, folks who have strengths in other areas. They should be using Linux. They should not be using Windows unless they really need it for a specific application.

My only concern is whether to suggest Xubuntu or SolydX. My personal preference leans toward SolydX, because Xubuntu 13.10 has seemed just a little bit flaky, and I really don't like the two-panel approach. I've also found that Xubuntu seems slow when it shouldn't feel slow, and reviews I've read have indicted the distro for bloat. Finally, SolydX offers the latest versions of applications, whereas Xubuntu offers applications from Granny's cupboard--a little on the stale side. For my own purposes, I prefer SolydX.

However, my personal preference does not mean that I think SolydX is right for everybody.

Xubuntu sends the user a regular stream of security updates, which I think might be reassuring to a beginner.  About once a week, I install updates on my Xubuntu rigs. Perhaps it is a placebo effect, but people are used to regular Windows updates, and I think the more similarity to Windows, the better. It is reassuring for an end user to think that their computer is getting help from a trusted outside source, that good programmers are looking after their computer and fixing things they may not even be aware need fixing. SolydX on the other hand only sends updates every three months. A new user might reasonably assume that the operating system is not being updated at all and that something is wrong.

I think that SolydX expects a little more technical competence on the part of the end user. Sometimes, when unexpected problems arise, it may be necessary to enter commands in the old-fashioned way. I'm used to that, but not everyone is, nor should I assume they want to learn. Xubuntu is nicely dumbed-down. It is designed with simplicity in mind, from the installation to the Software Manager and the automatic updates. The more conservative approach to application updates might actually be a good thing where beginners are concerned. Living on the cutting edge does, after all, invite the possibility of getting cut. I also love Xubuntu's close relation to Ubuntu. Canonical is a well-funded corporation with marketing muscle and certainly the largest footprint in the entire Linux community. One can't simply dismiss these advantages, because they are tremendous. A curious person could search Google and find tons of articles in the media, dating back many years, about Ubuntu and its cousin, Xubuntu. Such a person can also find a very well-populated user community. All this is very reassuring, particularly to someone new to Linux. For these reasons, with technical neophytes, I choose Xubuntu.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Everyone is Beautiful

Everyone is beautiful in their own way. One of the great secrets to establishing good relations with others is to be receptive to all of their positive traits, which encompass appearance, personality, character and intellect. Observing and remarking upon these positive traits is a surefire way to win points.

Those who are closed to other people, who do not offer eye contact, who do not listen and do not observe others carefully and are not receptive to others, such individuals cannot hope to enjoy good relations with many people. It is necessary to learn the names of other people. It is necessary to pay attention, to observe, to mark the words and gestures of others. At great cost, certain individuals fail to do these things.

Few people offer allowances for those with poor social skills. I am one of the more tolerant people. I perceive when someone seems rude only due to lack of social skills. They may not mean any harm. They just don't know how or don't have the aptitude to do what is required.

There was a young man in one of my classes who was despised by the other students and the teacher. His thoughts were always racing along. His impulses seemed so important to him that he would speak up continually throughout every class. I suppose he thought that by sharing his thoughts, he was being good and helpful. Perhaps he thought that the teacher and the other students would think more of him. In reality, no one else shared his high evaluation of his thoughts. They rather felt that he was wasting time and basking in attention just like a little child. He talked too much and did not perceive the lack of interest in his audience. He lacked social intelligence.

Toward the end of the class, some students made their ugly feelings clear to him in a rather abrupt, one might even say cruel, manner. I am not sure whether that was the right thing to do. I disapproved of what they said. I am glad I wasn't the one to do it. I remained uninvolved.

I am reminded of my own behavior many years ago in sixth through eighth grade. Was I very different from him? No. The truth is that I was similar. I would raise my hand to speak up in class and say things just because I was bored and wanted to redirect the lecture to subjects that interested me. Sometimes I wanted to say something funny to make people laugh. More often, I just wanted to show off my knowledge. I had an excellent memory for any academic subject. I loved history, science, and language.

Some of my classmates and teachers appreciated my input, but some didn't. On the whole, I was unpopular. I was perceived for what I was--a show-off. Those students who had difficulty with school did not appreciate being made to feel inadequate. In this way, I made enemies among classmates I scarcely knew. I was often surprised by the vehemency of their animosity, much like the young man I have described above. I am sure he did not see his classmate's collective revenge coming. I saw it coming, because I have been where he was. All too well, I know how the general run of people behave when they encounter behavior they dislike.

Many unpleasant experiences, many painful episodes passed before I changed. My teen years were incredibly painful, just nothing but a series of losses--social, academic, and psychological. All my plans were ruined. All my friends, best friends too, turned their back on me. My family almost turned its back on me. I was alone. I was broken.

I did change, and thank goodness for that. It remains a mystery to me exactly how I evolved from what I was then to what I am today. I think that I was broken by trauma and severe depression. For years, I walked in darkness. I saw light in the darkness, even in the darkness, and by that light, I rebuilt myself. I rebuilt myself into something different, something new, something better than I was before.

When I see someone who reminds me of what I was before, I cannot despise him or join the other students when they mock him. I have a sense of deja vu.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dog Over Human?

That so many people campaigned for the life of a vicious dog that mauled a child shows how twisted "animal lovers" can be. They do not place a proper value on human life. They have an unhealthy obsession with their pets. One imagines posh misanthropic recluses with nothing better to do with their time but idealize animals at the expense of members of their own species. It seems to me that self-hate is at work here, because the animal lovers think that humans aren't important enough to merit extraordinary legal remedies against animals.

Humans are more important than animals by a factor of about a hundred to one!

I love my cats, but I would never dream of letting them harm any one. Fortunately, they are not inclined or even capable of doing so. They would be more likely to rub against someone's leg than to use their claws or fangs. However, if my cat became vicious and did maul a human being, then of course it would have to be put to death in a swift and painless manner, and although I would be distressed, I would not stand in the way of justice.

In my day, dogs were put to death pretty much immediately after they bit anyone for any reason. They were decapitated, and the head was examined to determine whether the dog had rabies. This policy offers a strong incentive to dog owners to act in a responsible manner and control their animal in order to protect it from running afoul of the community. Dog owners who let their big, mean dogs run amok among their neighbors are anti-social and irresponsible and should not own any pets at all. Their "pet license" should be revoked.

Goodwill or the Salvation Army? Both Stink.

A lady in the local Salvation Army told me today that she only shops at S.A. because it is a real non-profit, whereas Goodwill is for-profit.

She was mistaken. Both Goodwill and the Salvation Army are non-profits. However, I would not call her a liar, either, because there seems to be some shenanigans going on at Goodwill. And here's another article about the problems with Goodwill. Disabled people are paid less than minimum wage, even as low as $1.40 an hour, whereas the top executives make many hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think that stinks. Goodwill just sounds plain rotten. Greedwill is more like it. Donating to Greedwill is just like giving money to the rich. "Thanks, sucker, we'll be sure to use your donation to help pay for a new Rolls-Royce."

The Salvation Army, meanwhile, seems to be a pack of raving homophobes, full of hate against the gays. This is made clear by a number of articles in the media, cases where the Salvation Army has gone very far out of its way in order to offend the LGBT community, and also by my own personal experience.

I went into a local Salvation Army store today and purchased about $80 worth of items, but merely happened to mention that I had bought something for my "significant other," and a female clerk, who looked like a very unhappy, repressed lesbian, gave me a nasty look, her lips contorted in what I can only describe as a snarl.

However, her retarded coworker was a nice lady who cheerfully gave me exact change and wished me a good day. My conclusion is that I would much rather deal with a retarded person than with a homophobe of normal intelligence. The first you can possibly trust, while with the other, I would want to keep my eyes upon them at all times. I have never encountered discrimination or hostility from any retarded worker in retail stores. They have been cheerful, good workers, and if I were ever to become a manager, I'd be interested in hiring them. At the proper full wage, not sub-minimum, of course.

It seems strange to me that these charities have been sidetracked from their actual mission into some rather questionable practices and policies. I think that if I ever have anything I want to donate, I will either give it to a friend or leave it on the street for either the garbage collectors or one of these people that cruise around looking for castoffs. I'm going to steer clear of both Goodwill and the Salvation Army.

Does So-and-So Like Me?

There's no fool like an old fool. Old people like to imagine that young people have the hots for them. They can't see themselves unless they look in the mirror, and when they look in the mirror, they put a spin on what they see. Perhaps they see themselves as they were twenty or thirty years ago.

As a general rule of thumb, I think that young people are attracted to young people, and old people are attracted to young people, and the main exception to this would be where an old person has enough money to make it worth one's while to feign blindness to physical appearance.

Recently, an older friend of mine has fallen in love with a fellow in his twenties. His heart is twisted in knots and his self-inflicted torture is painful to watch, in part because I've been there myself.

If one has to wonder whether another person is attracted to them, the correct answer is probably No. Certainly the safest answer is No.

One of the supreme humiliations is to woo and be rejected out of hand. It is painful to endure a powerful, all-consuming infatuation, as I indeed have, only to discover that all of one's feelings and all of one's plans are regarded by another as being without any value whatsoever. The offer of love, the offer of support, one's hand in marriage and one's whole life may be rejected simply by hanging up a phone or with a terse email as cold as ice.

I am not a great judge of other people's feelings. I'm not that bad, but rate my skills at people-reading as merely average at best. I no longer trust my intuition about whether people are attracted to me. I am very suspicious of wishful thinking and the failure to detect deception.

Sometimes, when I was much younger and more attractive, of course, people feigned attraction to me for their own ends. A lesbian struggling with her orientation, pretending to be bisexual, was one example. I was useful to let her think she was being "good" as judged by the values of her Catholic parents, and useful besides as an attractive mate to flaunt around her girlfriends and make them jealous. I remember her friends, because she introduced me to so many of them, just brief meetings to ensure they got their eyes on me and would tell everyone they knew about her and me together.

People often feign attraction or interest because they enjoy the flattery of another person. They feel better about themselves for being loved by another, even if the love represents something that they could never reciprocate.

A lesbian is a lesbian in part because of sex, but mostly because they prefer to love a woman and not a man. There is the physical factor, but the emotional factor is more important.  As for me, friendships with women have never endured for any period of time. I have never experienced a close friendship with a woman that lasted more than a month. Other than my mother and grandmother, there has never been a woman I would feel comfortable calling on the phone just to chat. I do not know why this is, but I think it is a strong indicator that a gay relationship is what's right for me. With women, everything just seems wrong. I have more difficulty reading women than I do reading men. By contrast, men are easy, whether straight or gay. I can predict what they are thinking with much greater accuracy. Perhaps that is why I prefer the company of men.

My father has a problem with reading people that has only grown more severe with age. He deludes himself into thinking that various women are secretly attracted to him. His imagination engages, and he composes elaborate theories that have no basis in reality. The consequences are humiliating and sometimes dangerous.

For my part, I intend to avoid such foolishness, but if an age arrives at which my mind is no longer capable of resisting the siren call of delusion, then I hope I will have enough wit and resolve to end my life with some semblance of order and decorum and salvage some dignity. One of the great tragedies of our civilization is that old people are expected to simply go on, long after their wits have left them, on and on until such time as natural death occurs. Death is not compassionate. Nor is Death prompt. Rather, Death toys with his victims like a cat, letting them suffer and inflict misery and confusion upon their loved ones and their communities.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Desire for Harmony

I read an article on Al-Jazeera today about the sentencing to death of Muslim Brotherhood members. The sentence seems excessive, harsh, and arbitrary, given that mass numbers of defendants were sentenced en masse. I disapprove of the sarcastic comments some Europeans left on the article. I'm no fan of Islam, but I can imagine being a Muslim and I can imagine believing that the Muslim Brotherhood was right about everything. Growing up and living in a certain environment, one absorbs philosophy and ideas and opinions naturally, much like a plant absorbs the contents of the air, water and earth in which it grows. Are the defendants bad people? Possibly, but possibly not. I doubt that the trial determined their morality one way or the other. Possibly some were guilty of the crimes they were charged with, but were all?

It's a pity that some kind of accommodation can't be worked out between the various factions of Egyptian society. The central problem is that certain factions, such as the Muslim Brotherhood or the military, want to control everyone and force their will on others. If they could give a little and adopt a "live-and-let-live" approach, accepting that people are different, then I think Egypt could experience progress.

In the U.S., accommodations have been worked out between Catholics and Protestants, Southerners and Northerners, blacks and whites, Jews and Christians, men and women, straights and gays, and the list goes on and on. That is why we have peace in the U.S., and our problems tend to be less in severity than in Egypt.

I think that the ideal long-term solution is a republic styled in the Western way, with toleration for all, including women, gays, and secular philosophy or other religions, and freedom of speech. However, if most Egyptians do not support that, or if powerful factions oppose it, then the status quo is likely to remain for quite some time to come, possibly hundreds or even thousands or tens of thousands of years. At some point, one stops reading about Egypt and stops being interested in the news coming from Egypt. I am just glad I do not live in Egypt, and I would never think about visiting.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Right-Wingers Expose Themselves

The right-wingers expose themselves in online comments found in news articles such as this one, laying naked their black hearts and small minds.

Good. It is good when evil reveals itself for what it is.

Jimmy Carter was a good President, one that did not violate the law, one that spoke the truth and had a real conscience. In these respects, he differs from many of our other Presidents. The reason that right-wingers dislike him is because he is good, and they are evil. They do not have a conscience, and believe that goodness equates to stupidity and weakness, and that evil equates to intelligence and strength.

Strengths and Deficiencies

I have reached an age that I know my strengths and weaknesses. The weaknesses that cause the most annoyance are lack of physical stamina and arthritis and its symptoms, joint and back pain. For the last week, every night when I'm in bed, I can feel the joints of my fingers warm, throbbing and aching. It worries me because I suspect that they are changing from what they are now to the claw-like fingers that other arthritis sufferers in my family have had. I don't know what to do about it other than eat well, avoid alcohol like the plague, limit any stress to the finger joints, and consume Ibuprofen whenever the pain is bad. All that will probably be insufficient to ward off the effects of arthritis.

I wish there was a cure for arthritis, but it seems that world leaders have other priorities than scientific and medical research. I wonder whether there is anyone in the U.S. that really thinks the trillions we blew on Viet Nam and then recently Iraq and Afghanistan was money well-spent, when that money could have upgraded our knowledge of medicine and disease not just for us, here in America, but for our entire species.

My strengths are my analytical nature, sensitivity to the feelings of others, politeness, customer service, punctuality, and kindness to others.

I'm not the kindest person I know, but I am hesitant to cause anyone any sort of discomfort or unease and am willing to help strangers out if the cost to me is small. Lending someone I don't know $5 is out of my range, though. I'm suspicious of undue demands and wary of getting involved with people I don't know well. Helping someone with money may or may not actually help them. If they are going to use the money to buy alcohol, then it is a harm. I never give money to beggars, and the notion of begging seems strange and dishonorable to me. If I were hard up, then I would feel obligated to offer a service in exchange for money.

Empathy is very helpful, because it smooths social interactions and makes the working environment productive and efficient. I am very pleased that I have learned to pick up on subtle social cues that I used to miss when I was a teenager. I can read body language and know enough not to take other people's words at face value. Tone of voice and expression convey more information than choice of words.

Politeness is underrated by many otherwise good people. I used to cut fool with people when I was a teenager. Humor is all well and good, but the trouble with wit is that laughs are short-lived, but memories of words linger long after they are spoken. Sometimes people brood over what is spoken in jest. Why? Because there is much truth passed off as humor. The reason things are funny is often because there is a grain of bald, unvarnished truth in an utterance. Wit tends to exaggerate, however, and there lies the possibility of trampling on another person's feelings. I have learned to restrain wit. Only with close, intimate friends should wit be used and even then with caution. What people really admire and appreciate is someone who reflects a positive image of themselves. People don't ever want to have their shortcomings pointed out. They may laugh, but they will remember the slight. Even if they know about the shortcoming, it is better to pretend as though one is completely unaware of it.

An analytical nature is extremely important because we live in a complicated, ever-changing world. There are many complicated choices, and sometimes it is crucial to pick the right one and avoid traps and pitfalls. Unfortunately, many people lack an analytical nature. The leaders that they elect to represent them are, therefore, salesmen, not engineers. That is why our leaders have made many foolish and costly decisions that have retarded economic and scientific progress. An analytical mind will say, "OK, wait, slow down. Let's not get emotional. Let's not decide in haste based upon fear or greed. Let's examine all of the possibilities here. Let's dig up all the details. Let's compare and contrast each of the available choices. Let's make a decision only when we have thought everything through with cold, calculating, precise and well-informed intellect." The thing about me is that I love details. I want to know all the gory facts. My brain is hungry for useful information and useful knowledge. This has proven very helpful to me in many situations.

Punctuality is a reflection of my desire to remain calm and in control. I feel anxiety when the possibility arises of disappointing others. Being on-time or early is an easy way to establish a positive impression. To me, it is worth half an hour or even more of my time to eliminate any possibility of being late.
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions