Sunday, September 30, 2012

Amoeba

According to Buddhism, the current life is karmic retribution for misdeeds committed in the previous existence. In my former life, I was an amoeba in southern Ukraine for 271.1 seconds before being lysed by hydrogen peroxide released by a neighboring microorganism. In order to progress toward Nirvana, I must deploy my pseudopodia in accord with "The Middle Way."Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Hardening Wordpress: An Explanation

Wordpress recommends hardening security by deploying the code below in your .htaccess file:
# Block the include-only files.
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^wp-admin/includes/ - [F,L]
RewriteRule !^wp-includes/ - [S=3]
RewriteRule ^wp-includes/[^/]+\.php$ - [F,L]
RewriteRule ^wp-includes/js/tinymce/langs/.+\.php - [F,L]
RewriteRule ^wp-includes/theme-compat/ - [F,L]

# BEGIN WordPress
These are good rules, and I include them in my .htaccess, but I noticed there was no explanation offered for their effects, which complicates combining these rules with other rules. I prefer to understand what is going on, so I performed some research that I will now share with others.

Let us examine the code line-by-line until everything unique is explained. In the first place, any line beginning with # is a comment or remark statement, to us old-school programmers that cut our teeth on BASIC. A remark statement is intended for human comprehension in order to assist our feeble brains and is ignored by the Apache server.

Rewrite Engine On tells Apache, "Hey, start the engine, we have some rules on the way." Apache allocates resources in order to handle the rules.

RewriteBase / causes any evaluations that follow to assume the url (e.g., techlorebyigor.blogspot.com), in order to avoid having to specify the url on each and every condition and rule that follows.

RewriteRule ^wp-admin/includes/ - [F,L] scans for anyone attempting to access anything beginning with (denoted by ^) wp-admin/includes/, and the reaction will be [F,L] which means "Forbidden, and skip [L] all remaining rules." Forbidden means the users get the 403 page instead of their request on this one instance.

RewriteRule !^wp-includes/ - [S=3] is a special command in two ways. First, it uses NOT logic, denoted by the ! symbol. It instructs Apache that if the user's request does not begin with (^) "wp-includes/" then [S=3], which means skip the next three rules. S is like a GOTO statement providing a primitive form of IF...THEN logic, such as I have to use in my batch files. The reason this line is included is for speed of execution. If "wp-includes/" is not present in the request, then clearly the three rules that follow will not apply and by avoiding them, time is saved.

The other lines should be self-explanatory. The main area that I did not understand this morning was [S=3], and I did a bit of digging to unearth that information. The [S] command is not often seen and certainly optional in the above code, but such concern over efficiency is the mark of a good programmer.

I wonder whether I can replace the RewriteRules with RewriteConds for improved efficiency, but the [S=3] line makes me doubt whether the Condition statements would be more efficient after all.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tightening WordPress Security

I have developed a method to tighten Wordpress security for a scenario in which there is only one admin, and another admin will never be added. Since my Wordpress blog only has 1 admin, there is no legitimate reason for any human being to ever access wp-signup.php. Anyone who does is hacking, so they should be banned forever.
#Ban WP attackers
Redirect 301 /wp-signup.php /kick/
This code in .htaccess will redirect anyone who attempts to sign-up to a bot-trap located in /kick/. An alternative for those who do not have a bot-trap installed would be to Redirect 403 /wp-signup.php. I recommend installing a bot-trap to allow your site to dynamically respond to attackers by banning their IP addresses. This will slow down hackers attempting to probe your site for vulnerabilities.

Additional code, below, scans for common hack attacks against WordPress installations that I have observed firsthand in my server log. Again, because I do not permit registration, I ban it. Why permit something that no human being will ever use?
RewriteCond %{QUERY_STRING} action=register [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/timthumb [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/uploadify [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/marketplace [NC]
RewriteRule \.* http://techlorebyigor.blogspot.com/kick/? [R=301,L]
The question mark at the end of the above RewriteRule truncates any query string that was used, avoiding potential complications if the bot-trap is activated. Those bots that attempt to find exploits in WordPress plug-ins timthumb, uploadify, or marketplace will be banned. I do not use those plug-ins, however if you do, then you had better not use the above code.

Other useful snippets, ubiquitous on the web and not original, follow:
<files wp-config.php>
order allow,deny
deny from all
</files>
Although my wp-config.php is already locked down tight with a security of 400, I decided to add an additional layer of security in .htaccess. Why? Just because. Perhaps it is unnecessary, but I like it. There is no such thing as redundant security.
<FilesMatch "\.(htaccess|htpasswd|fla|psd|log|sh|gz|zip|tar)$">
Order Allow,Deny
Deny from all
</FilesMatch>
There is no legitimate reason for any human or bot to be reading any file with the above extensions. Although I won't ban any who do, I will show them my special 403 page which has many links to harvester-killers on other web sites.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Senkaku Islands

The dispute between Japan, China and Taiwan over sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands interests this American and pleases him, too, because the U.S. remains uninvolved in at least one global dispute, to our advantage.

Although it may seem that the islands belong to Taiwan due to the Potsdam Declaration, in which Japan relinquished control over many islands, I remain unconvinced, because the Declaration specifies Japan could retain control over "other minor islands as we determine."

I despise China's tyrants, but between Japan and Taiwan, I am not sure which I prefer. Japan committed many atrocities in WW2, and the only reason it is democratic is because it was conquered by the U.S. I think that the Japanese should send the U.S. a thank-you note every year on the anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, along with a couple of billion dollars as a gift to help our economy along. We had to spend a lot of money building those atom bombs, but they were the best medicine for the Japanese to eliminate their infection by a morally bankrupt military dictatorship. It looks to me like Iran needs similar medicine.

I am glad the U.S. is not involved in the dispute.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

A Good Programmer

A good programmer can find a needle in a haystack. That's my special ability, to find the exceptional evidence by absorbing details and focusing upon the problem. That's one of the qualities I like about myself and one of the things that distinguishes me from other people. The other quality I approve of is having thoughts predicated upon love and understanding. That which increases the love in a person's life has to be good. I am drawn to people that I judge to be good and honest and will usually do what I can to assist them, because I have some feeling of kinship with them.

I am glad I don't live in a madhouse like Syria, because I would not thrive in such an environment. I would try to survive somehow, but my true nature would become distorted as I did what is necessary rather than what I would prefer. Perhaps I would evolve into a ferocious dragon. It is possible. I think Syria needs dragons. It is funny that one never read about Syria before the war, and now Syria is in the headlines every day.

I remember back in my school days, one afternoon during recess, I moved from among the tall trees where we usually played and into the light, where I was enjoying the warmth and energy from the Sun. Something about the light appealed to me on many levels, I don't know just what. The weather was uncommonly good that day, and I thought it was foolish to remain in the shade playing War with the other boys like my best friend at the time was doing. He didn't understand my choice and thought it was stupid and started pulling me into a puddle because, he said, "If you need sunlight so much, then you're a plant, and so you also need water!" I think that illustrated better than anything else the difference between us. He did not remain my friend, but turned on me later. The light did remain my friend, true and steady, and I enjoy it to this day and would rather have the light than anything to do with people like him.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Monday, September 24, 2012

One Click Copy Textarea

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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Female Brain

I woke up this morning with a strange thought that felt right. No, nothing sexual--or not exactly. I don't blog about sexual matters for the most part, mostly because they are mundane and there is not much to say about them unless, I suppose, one has a particularly spicy sex life. Instead I was thinking about a recent hypothesis concerning homosexuality's origin.

Some researchers believe that sexuality is determined in the womb and is not a wholly genetic matter, but that a fetus is exposed to either too much or too little (or just right, according to your viewpoint) testosterone during a critical period of development. I have given this hypothesis much thought. For me, it would mean that I was exposed to more than the standard amount of testosterone while still a fetus, and that my brain therefore remained feminine (contra-intuitively) rather than turning masculine. I may have forgotten or misinterpreted certain aspects of the scientific rationale, but the gist is that a homosexual  infant boy's brain is actually the brain of a baby girl at birth. Native testosterone will over time make this brain more masculine and increase the sex drive but to varying extents, resulting in gays being more or less feminine, and overall gays should be a bit more feminine, on average, than the norm.

Feminine qualities I expressed from the earliest ages were sensitivity, passivity, talkativeness and obedience. As I developed I was encouraged and pushed to express masculine qualities and suppress certain feminine qualities, such as sensitivity, but without much success. Bullies were always taking advantage of me because they could easily make me unhappy or afraid through an unkind word or even an attack. Being pressured to be something one is not is stressful and causes internal confusion, doubt and distress. I think growing up was difficult, because in those days nobody understood, or if they did understand a little bit they shut up about it and were of no help to me at all. I think I would have had a much better time if I had known at least one other person that was gay and not in the closet. I grew up thinking I was the only one in the world.

I pity the conservative Christians and Muslims that think gay is bad, because they are going to have a hard time with their gay kids. When Mom and Dad don't understand, the prognosis is poor for the family. I think the conservatives think that they are fighting against a tribe of gay outsiders, strangers, aliens. The reality is that they are fighting against their own family and their future children and grandchildren. Alienation and ostracism awaits, a disappointing outcome for an investment of eighteen-plus years in raising a child, but it is to be expected when Mom and Dad cannot understand what is plain before them. They are second-guessing God, to put things in their terms.

For me it is curious to think of my brain being a female brain. I have always thought of my thinker as a male brain because that is what everyone told me, and I based my self-concept on what I was told. Accepting gayness and femininity comes as something of a relief, because I fought against it for so long in the early years, thinking it was wrong, bad. I see now why I get along well with women and relate with them. I think my brain began female at birth, but is now a hybrid due to the influences of testosterone and peer socialization. I am between the genders, neither one nor the other, but mostly female, I think. I find many straight men to be less interesting than straight women and not very skilled at communication. If all one can talk about is the ball game, that is thin gruel indeed. Give me a woman any day.

Looking back on all my romantic adventures, it is clear that nothing ever worked out with women. So I ask myself why, and the reason may be that my brain was mostly female, and the straight women were looking for a mostly masculine brain. Pheromones also play a role. It is not likely a straight woman would remain attracted for more than a brief period to a gay man, because the spiritual element is contradictory. The gay man is eventually interpreted as a friend, much like other female friends. The woman would have to have a lesbian component in order to remain attracted to a gay man, but even that poses problems because the male has different equipment, contrary to the lesbian's fantasies and expectations.

I was involved with a lesbian at one time, but that did not work out well because she had a butch ex-girlfriend that reestablished control of her (she was a femme), but I think it would not have worked out anyway. She used me to assuage her Catholic guilt, nothing else, and I don't think she was ever genuine, but was pretending with me. I certainly did believe that I was in love, even if it was very foolish and sudden. She said she was bisexual, but was she? Was I? I think to me that love and being in love was more important than the sex. Love was ecstasy. It was a sweet delusion without much grounding in reality. I was looking for an intimate friend due to the female nature of my brain, which seeks intimacy. The sex was not important to me, and I wasn't aggressive in that area, which is the exact opposite of the masculine priority, because men want sex above all else. Sex to me was regarded as a symbol or verification of love and valued only for that purpose, not for the pleasure it might bring.

Sexuality goes to the physical, and there is nothing a male body has that a garden-variety lesbian wants. The same applies to gay men. There is nothing about the female body that I particularly desire, although I can appreciate it as a thing of beauty. I am not overawed at the sight of breasts, and I think that is the essential difference between myself and a straight man.

Much was all right with men, in fact I had an easy time with guys, and of course that is why in time I identified as gay and decided to abandon the pointless and painful pursuit of women. It took me a long time to accept being gay and self-acceptance came in gradual degrees. I think I accept myself more now than I ever did in the past.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Delusion

I had a brief and pleasant fantasy the other day that the actress who played Sophie on Peep Show had read and liked some old article on the blog. Of course I would have no way of knowing other than via psychic impulse, i.e. delusion. After about five seconds I dismissed this as ridiculous for any number of reasons. If I were in her position, the last thing I would be doing is sitting around reading blogs.

Part of the charm/thrill/danger of blogging is that one never knows who will be reading. There is nothing to prevent anyone from reading anything here except for the sheer odds of finding a needle in a haystack.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Epitaph

This blog would make a fair epitaph for me in this electronic age. Who has the budget for granite sculptures? Not me, I'm poor. I'd rather go the free route and just hope that Google continues hosting Blogspot for free in perpetuity. It is a consoling thought that my feisty opinions, philosophy, technical lore and creative output will be around to torment unsuspecting readers long after I am gone.

Remember, hidden somewhere in the thousands of posts of fluff and nonsense is an emerald or three. Maybe. Or maybe a moonstone or iron pyrite.

One day if I see the end in sight due to, say, an unfavorable diagnosis, then I will apply the weed whacker to my blog and get rid of all the fluff until only the best posts remain. That might be a bit more dignified. But on the other hand, shouldn't I "keep it real?" Is every part of me worth preserving or only the finest or best expressed parts?
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Listen to Your Cat

Always listen to your cat. The better sort of cat makes good observations and sometimes has insight into things that elude human beings.

My cat detests the computer room. He will stand in the hallway and cry until I get up and out of there. I used to dislike this behavior but now I regard it as a useful reminder not to spend too much time on the computer. The cat is right that one needs to get up, move around, and get sunlight and fresh air. People tend to overdo computer time, just like they used to overdo television time.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Republicans Not Enthused in 2012

I've noticed Republicans aren't too happy about the upcoming election. I get the feeling they are embarrassed about their candidate and holding their nose, even if they plan to vote for him November 6th. I'm enthused and proud about Obama and I think he is the best President we have had in a long time. However, he deals with a Congress full of partisan Republican obstructionists, so there are limits on what he can do. The key is to vote Republicans out of office and get a Democratic Congress for Obama to work with, along with Democratic Governors and Mayors across this nation. The Republican party does not have any good ideas at all. What we really need is a Liberal party to compete against the Democratic party.Post a Comment

Friday, September 21, 2012

Body Parts

I do wish the human body were more like computers insofar as being able to replace failing body parts with new and improved ones off the shelf. My computer keeps getting better, year after year, and I keep getting worse!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mistakes

In reflecting upon mistakes one made in one's past, it is a consolation to realize that other people made bigger and stupider mistakes. My thoughts turn to former friends and the reasons they are exes. It seems wasteful to build a relationship with another human being, spending months or even years getting to know them, only to sever contact due to some trivial misunderstanding. I am mild. If they couldn't abide by me then they could not abide by an African violet or a sunset or a cat. Some people are in too much of a hurry to get wherever they think that they are going. They place a greater value on status and power than upon friendship. I do not have much status or power. I have known too many selfish and immature people (of either gender, of all sexualities) who were interested only in sex or money/status/power. They did not place value upon relationships or friendships. In the modern and mobile age, people regard other people as disposable and cycle through a number of what they regard as replaceable peasants in the hopes of finding the King or Queen who can grant their every desire. All the insight I could have offered them about their past and present is committed to dust as they start over with bright new pretty acquaintances that may not care to understand them at all. What I offered was uncommon, and what they wanted was common. They opted for copper over gold. So I have hidden my gold away from the narrow eyes of my former, faithless friends, who will never see it, or if they had once caught a glimpse and did not recognize the metal for what it was, they will see it no more. The past was nothing more than a training ground of social experiments from which I built my store of wisdom. Forget the faithless friends of the past, those who taught me what not to do. I am here for my friends of today, people good and kind. I share my gold with my friends of today. I share with them my light.

Fever

I've always enjoyed a good fever. When a virus comes along, the body is diminished, and in the silence, if one listens, it is possible to hear some notes of the song of the universe.

Three Words

Three words the dying hermit taught to Mustafa were morda, a lesser ward that can be used at will, malcipiter, a greater ward with some risk, and ooshtah, which attracts attention like a beacon in the darkness. How these words are said is important. By themselves they are mere babble, but spoken in the right manner, they achieve substance.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Mitt Romney the Rich Boy

Mitt Romney thinks that 47% of Americans do not pay taxes and do not work and will not vote for him.

Well, Romney, they don't put their ill-gotten wealth from outsourcing American jobs in overseas Swiss bank accounts like you do, so they probably do pay some taxes, after all.  I know Mitt Romney pays a smaller percentage of taxes than most anyone I know, because he has all these clever accountants working night and day to shuffle his fortune into all kinds of elaborate schemes and avoid contributing to America.

I think it's funny this rich boy who was given his fortune by Daddy flicks his thumb at poor working people and says, "They don't deserve to eat. If I'm President, I'm going to starve them all. Let the Chinese do all of the American jobs."

Daddy was a rich man, daddy was a rich man, daddy was a rich man, hey!
Romney got money, got money from daddy, and that's why he's where he is today!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Adios, Analytics

I think I'm going to remove the Google Analytics code from my blog, if I haven't already. It has been over a year since I've bothered checking my site statistics. I guess I just don't give a darn anymore about whether people are viewing or how many people are viewing. I have treated this blog since its inception as my personal playpen for opinions and ideas, my storage locker and alternative backup for technical information, and personal journal to deal with any philosophical or personal issues I might like to explore.

Surprise! Popularity was never one of my goals and to be honest, I prefer not to be popular, because popularity is pretty boring and I can't think of any celebrity I envy. The only thing about celebrity that I might envy is the money. Everything else that comes from celebrity just seems taxing, vain and mildly annoying.

I determined a long time ago that there is no money to be made with this sort of blogging or at least through my mediocre talents. I ran AdSense for a year or two as an experiment just to see how much revenue would be generated. I earned enough to buy a six-pack of cheap beer*. I never did request that check. Instead, I cancelled my account because the money was a joke and I felt bad about making my blog ugly with stupid ads for over a year. If one is going to sell out, then one should get a good price at least.

Oh by the way, Google Analytics consistently reported that a sizable chunk of my blog's readers are from Russia or nearby, which means that spambots, black hats, and related scum are frequent visitors. Russia is never good news in the server log.

* - I don't drink anymore, though. And I don't miss it.

The Economy

The Economy and jobs should have been priority #1 beginning when Bush took office. Instead, Iraq and Afghanistan became the #1 priority. This is because American leaders are mentally challenged. They are uncertain as to where they live. They do not know what time of day it is or who they are or why they are where they are. I think that Congress and the White House should be run like an assisted living center. There should be nurses, doctors and orderlies on staff to help the decision-makers distinguish reality from fiction. On a daily basis, powerful medication should be administered to improve their mental functioning and prevent breaks with reality. The cost would be insignificant compared to the cost of business as usual. I think a couple of million dollars spent on nurses and doctors would be better in the long run than trillions of dollars wasted on pointless and endless wars in faraway places.

It is about time that an American President did something about the unfair trade practices of the Chinese. The reality is that the Chinese are waging economic war against America. I am glad that Obama is doing something, but I think that something should have been done on George Bush's watch, ten years ago, or maybe even earlier.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Why Firefox is Safer

Firefox is a safer browser than IE or Chrome primarily because of two add-ons, NoScript and AdBlock. NoScript uses a whitelisting strategy so that no script can run without the user explicitly allowing access from a specific site. AdBlock simply removes ads from view, which eliminates the possibility the user will accidentally click on an ad and be deposited on a malware or spyware site. I have installed these two add-ons on all of my desktops and consider them to be standard equipment for all computers that I provision.

I do not install Chrome on any machine. There is no reason to have two tools when one is better by every measure than the other.

There should never be one-click access to IE. Typing should be required. If I see IE on a machine, I delete the icon and remove it from the Start menu. IE should only be accessed by experienced users on an as-needed basis for updating Windows and nothing else. In Windows XP on my desktops, it can be accessed by choosing to run a program and then typing in "iexplore.exe". As soon as the necessary task is completed, IE is closed.

The reason IE is bad is an old one. It was true in the 1990s and it remains true today. IE is the browser with the largest market share, so it has "target" written on its forehead in bright red letters. Another problem is that it is the default browser in Windows, so the biggest number of clueless users will be using IE. Effort is required to install Firefox, though much less effort is required to install Chrome, because these days it is included by default in tons of applications from Avast antivirus to the kitchen sink. Google is paying software vendors to include Chrome in the installers. The result is that Chrome will be grabbing more of the clueless user population. The reason elite users stick with Firefox is they like customizing their browser and they have a deeper knowledge base that allows them to do so. All of these factors make Chrome and IE the top targets for black hats, who know quite well that clueless users make easier targets.

Among my friends, I have heard of many people getting hacked while using IE exclusively. They wind up spamming all their friends, losing money, losing their credit rating, or having to reinstall Windows altogether. I have not heard of many people getting hacked that use Firefox. Maybe it is because the people that use Firefox also take other precautions, or maybe there are other reasons involved, but I am sticking with Firefox until the bitter end.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Irate Egyptian Soccer Fans / Redneck Muslims

The reason Muslims take offense at films or cartoons, rather than books is because so many of them are illiterate or even if they do understand their own language they don't read much more than is required for daily living such as traffic signs and so on.

In Libya, it seems as though Muslim rednecks killed our envoy, although we may never know what really happened.

All this blood and rage over a little movie that I never heard of and probably will never watch! I think that Muslims like to be angry, are always looking for reasons to be angry, and that their religion is a religion of hate and anger. I don't recall Christians going on a killing spree when people made fun of Jesus, or Buddhists severing heads from bodies when people made fun of Buddha. Maybe those sorts of things happened in the Middle Ages, but not in modern times. One never hears about Islam except in the context of terrorism, war, killing, torture or assassination.

I was amused recently to read some spokesman for the Syrian rebels threatening the West if it does not cough up billions of dollars in aid. Apparently the rebels are going to turn extra-fanatical and anti-Western if we don't support them against the Syrian regime. I don't know whether the spokesman ever graduated from business school, but threatening the customer is not a good way to make a sale. Never mentioned is anything about repayment or any benefit that the West might derive, other than vague and halfhearted promises to avoid extremism.

I also believe that Muslims should get over Israel and let bygones be bygones over there, because Israel provides an example for how to run a government. The barbarian nations around Israel should be taking notes and learning by example instead of attacking the one decent nation in their midst. If certain nations such as Iran would just learn to leave Israel alone and focus upon their own issues then they would be a lot better off in the long run.

The slogan "there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet" is arrogant and wrong besides, because the deity described by the legal systems of Saudi Arabia and Iran is just a crude and barbaric tyrant with no education.

Freedom of speech has offered superb gifts to the human race, such as democracy, rule of law, science and technology and culture. For the most part, at least in modern times, the only thing the Muslims have given the human race is the oil extracted by Western oil companies that happened to exist beneath their feet, to their great good fortune. Iran exists today as a populated nation due to the benevolence of the philosophical West, which opted to renounce colonialism and renounce imperialism. That is why the U.S. pays for Iraqi oil instead of taking it. That is why the U.S. economy is in the pits today, because we donated vast sums of money to help the stupid Iraqis get rid of their stupid dictator without asking for a single dime in return. I don't know how many people understand what a monumental waste of money the two recent wars were for the U.S. It seems like many people around the world think that there is some diabolic plot or method by which we are profiteering. If only. The embarrassing truth is that George Bush did not have a brain in his head.

It is difficult to find Moslem countries that are not rife with injustice and barbarism, although there may be a handful around the world. A Moslem country would never be a place to which I would choose to go. I prefer civilized regions of the world. Give me Europe, North America, South America, Australia, New Zealand, or Asia (outside the Middle bEast) any day of the week and keep the rest. The irony about killing Americans who happen to venture into the Middle East on a peace-keeping or diplomatic mission is that the victims are probably the friendliest and most open-minded Muslim sympathizers that can be found, the ones most apt to see things from the Muslim point of view. They are the ones getting killed or kidnapped. People who view Islam in the same light that I do would not set foot over there in the first place, certainly not on any mission of peace or diplomacy.

I don't think tourism to Muslim countries is going to recover for the foreseeable future. There are too many fanatics over there that think violence is the way to handle their personal shortcomings in the intellectual department. I never did understand Americans who traveled to the Middle East on pilgrimages or vacations, but I know for sure I would not go, not in today's political climate, where so many think that it is okay to kill an American in order to register their disapproval over a movie.

You know what I do when I don't like a movie? I write a critical review. That is because I am civilized. The reason I call those Egyptian rednecks "barbarians" is that they do not know how to behave in a civilized fashion. They are just a bunch of thugs without the faintest grasp of morality. Probably no one would have even heard of the movie in the first place if these stupid rednecks had not given it free publicity.

Here's the link to the full movie, "Innocence of the Muslims."

It is quite obvious to me that no one would have watched the movie if those ignoramuses over there had not made such a fuss over it. But since they have, the movie is going to be watched about a thousand times more than would otherwise have been the case.

Monday, September 10, 2012

I Sympathize with Chicago Teachers

I read an article in the Chicago Tribune about the teacher's strike. I agree that the money being offered is all right and perhaps even generous in today's lousy economy, where so many workers endure salary freezes or even salary reductions. Workers are getting the shaft all over the world due to right-wing policies which have transferred industrial production over to slave-labor countries like China. I don't know what the U.S. will be producing in the future other than internal organs for the Chinese to harvest from our otherwise useless bodies. Perhaps blood donation will become a major new career option in America under Romney's administration if he wins the election, because I know Romney's number one goal is to eliminate all jobs in America and move them over to China so that his buddies can grab more easy money. The only way the Mitt Romneys of the world know how to make money is by stealing jobs and wages from the workers. The Romneys of the world do not produce, invent, create, or build anything. They only downsize, reduce, and cutback. They are the parasites, feeding upon the working class while serving their true masters, the Chinese.

The reason I support the teacher's strike has to do with Rahm Emmanuel wanting to tie teacher salaries to student performance on standardized tests. That's wrong. Teachers have moderate influence over student performance, but that influence only goes so far. Any computer programmer knows that if your input is garbage, then your output will be garbage. Garbage in, garbage out. That's the GIGO principle. Teachers in Chicago might be the best in the world, but they can only do so much when their students are hungry and living in crime-ridden neighborhoods where people are unemployed or underemployed or working the typical McJobs for minimum wage.

Teachers should be judged based upon parent evaluations and principal evaluations. Student performance is actually a function of genetics and upbringing, and teachers have little to do with it. For my part, I learned little or nothing in school, but taught myself everything I wanted to learn. School was irrelevant to me, and I don't really care about any of the teachers I had. Some were absolute monsters, most were decent, some were boring, and some were interesting, but none were essential and none inspired me. I found inspiration in books and movies, as I'm sure most kids do today. I didn't encounter intelligent educators until I went to college. Until college, I usually knew more than the teacher, not the other way around. If I had questions about the world, I waited until I got back home and then looked up the answer in the encyclopedia or dictionary or asked my parents, because I knew for sure the teacher wouldn't know anything. However, kids with uneducated parents would not have had the same option. So again, kids with educated parents have a huge advantage.

Parents bear about 95% of the responsibility for the performance of students. Ninety per cent of the responsibility comes from birth, that is, what kind of intellectual capacity exists in the student to begin with. Many parents should not be giving birth at all. They should use birth control or else get themselves sterilized. The reason they have children is because they are irresponsible and care about no one save themselves and their own compulsive need to feel loved by a young and innocent teddy bear. Meanwhile society picks up the tab with public assistance and all kinds of tax breaks, societal approval and privileges for people who neglect to wear a condom. I think that people who volunteer to become sterilized should receive the same financial benefits as people who receive welfare and food stamps for their children. In fact, they should receive more because they demonstrate greater responsibility. Such a policy would remove the financial incentives for popping out babies. A glance at the unemployment numbers in this country makes it very clear we are not lacking in people. We are lacking in jobs for people. So any new baby is probably going to grow up to be an unemployed person with any amount of education, but no job and no profession. If the number of babies could be reduced, then that might help the overall jobs picture in the future, provided all the remaining jobs are not exported to China like Mitt Romney wants to do.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Toxoplasmosis

Toxoplasmosis is scary! Especially for cat owners like myself.

I am continually reminded by existing science and new scientific discoveries of how ignorant I am and how ignorant the human race is. We make too many assumptions. Only recently in our history have we begun--and we've only just begun--to become aware that microorganisms are our #1 predator. We are not at the top of the food chain after all. Microorganisms are. Invisible bodies are preying upon us, often without our knowledge. They influence our behavior, causing depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, aggression. For most of our history we assumed that demons and spirits were causing harmful changes in people. Now we are learning about the real demons that are invisible to the naked eye.

I do not know how cat owners are going to cope with Toxoplasmosis.

But perhaps I'm too credulous.

The media, after all, pushes alarm buttons in order to push copy. They want to grab eyeballs in order to sell advertising. That is their entire focus.

In reality, at my age, is there even a 1% chance that I am not infected with Toxoplasmosis, after having opened my home to cats every day of my life? I think not. I think it is futile to fret over Toxoplasmosis, at least for me. Younger people might have a chance of never getting infected in the first place, but it is entirely unrealistic to expect that after decades of shuffling litter boxes back and forth I have managed to remain Toxo-free. Also, most people do not appear to suffer ill effects from Toxoplasmosis. Hidden within the article is a little hint that the main sufferers are immunocompromised and elderly patients, for whom Toxo may be the least of their worries.

So I have decided not to worry about Toxoplasmosis, although I will certainly take extra precautions when disposing of cat litter. And the cats are banned permanently from the bedroom and the study.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

I Do Not Call for Assistance

When a new and unexpected problem arises, a worker or student may feel tempted to ask for help immediately, but that is weak and should be avoided. While asking for help is certainly a tool that one can consider when needed, pushing the "help button" straightaway bypasses another important tool, the brain. I have learned to wait, to give myself time to think. Thinking takes time and it cannot be rushed and does not have anything to do with deadlines.

I cannot tell you the number of times in my programming career that end users called me on the phone for instructions on how to do something that they could have figured out themselves if they had spent a single solitary minute thinking instead of panicking. People have a tendency to panic when confronted with anything out of the ordinary and that is weak. Computer programmers take measures, when possible, to avoid startling users, but sometimes things arise which cannot be avoided by any reasonable coding precaution, or more often, management isn't willing to devote the resources to permit the coding of very elegant software. Programmers cannot do as they like; they are told what to work on by management.

For me, I like to think first of all. I ask myself whether there is any possible way that I can fix a new problem without assistance. If the answer is no, then do you know what that means? That means that I need to think about it some more. I am hesitant to ask for help, because doing so is a mark of incompetence. It is not charming and it is not cute. It is taking time away from somebody else. I do not like to take time away from others. I would prefer my manager only hear from me when I have some good news or if there is an emergency situation.

The only time I really need to call for assistance right away is when time is limited, but time is almost never limited. Even if a customer is waiting, they can usually wait a bit longer. Few things are so urgent that they cannot wait a few minutes for my brain to engage. I can figure out most things that do not require secret knowledge that I have no way of knowing or special abilities. That is one of my advantages. If there is a way something can be done and if the way can be perceived by an ordinary person, then I will find it, even if the problem has never been seen before.

Means to an End


It is natural to compare marijuana with alcohol, because society on the one hand permits alcohol, and just recently, in the last hundred years, has made marijuana illegal. Marijuana users are persecuted by nearly every government in the modern world. New, radical laws defy thousands of years of tradition when marijuana was legal to grow, sell, and use. Neither did our Founding Fathers nor the ancient world ban marijuana. The plant was never perceived as a problem until the corrupt and racist politicians made it so. All these things that I write are well-documented and can be confirmed by those that are interested in the truth.

Today, alcohol and marijuana are among the popular drugs, although not nearly as popular as the bearers of caffeine, chocolate and coffee. Yes, caffeine too is a drug, and unlike marijuana, is toxic. Subtle substances and influences are more dangerous, because they slip beneath our awareness. We do see in this world as through a glass darkly.

Marijuana derives from a plant grown in sunshine and is the friend of living things. Almost alone among all substances, marijuana nourishes introspection and reflection. It makes a poor party drug, as can be observed by the wider popularity of alcohol for that purpose. Alcohol suits a party because of its simplicity and predictability. In small quantities, alcohol reduces social inhibition just enough to get conversation flowing. Limiting the amount consumed poses a problem, however. For many people, inhibitions are not a problem in the first place, and one wonders, why drink at all?

Alcohol may be regarded as marijuana's opposite. Alcohol derives from Death, for it is the waste product of yeast that feeds upon decaying plant matter. Alcohol kills living cells. Men are crippled and slain by the poison. The association with death is pervasive. The physical nature reflects the spiritual. Alcohol's history with mankind is long and storied. Good men are turned bad, and bad men become worse. Drinking opens a Gateway that invites Evil into our world. Things that watch in the darkness are ever eager to use humans as their vessels. Not all puppets perceive the strings that move them.

Some do concede that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, but fear that legalizing marijuana will result in a situation where marijuana is just one more item on the recreational menu. In the first place, it already is. Millions use, whether the thing is legal or not. Prohibition transforms ordinary folk into criminals. Our United States, the powerhouse of Prohibition, imprisons more of its people than any other nation on Earth. The very first thing that the Prohibitionist wants to do is build new prisons and make them harsher than before. In this manner, men forge hells in their paradise of Earth.

Alcohol diminishes my power. One of the best presents that I ever gave myself was nourishing my resolve to abstain from alcohol. I am in general agreement with those that say Hell is found in a bottle. Even so, I would not favor a renewal of Prohibition. It never worked in the 1930s and never will work. Prohibition offends a man's sense of liberty. Let the drinkers drink, as long as they harm none. The second clause is the difficult one. Drinkers will drink and they will act accordingly. That is why religious men have tried to ban it. But banning is a simplistic solution and fraught with difficulty, because there is a need, is there not, a need for inebriation. If there is an itch, it will be scratched. I propose not banning, but replacing, and with the replacement, improving.

The marijuana user thrives in peace and calm and is immune to boredom and restlessness. Marijuana can be a superb tool for meditation, relaxation, and exploration of the mind. Both a benefit and a potential downside of marijuana is that the user tends toward passivity and inactivity. Sometimes it is best to wait rather than act. Think of the bear, hibernating through the winter. However, when action is called for, abstinence is best. Those placed in highly demanding roles will find their performance improves through abstinence. However, do not remove marijuana from the shelf. Marijuana offers an alternative remedy for alcoholism, drug addiction, anxiety and mild depression.

I consider it a blasphemy to lace marijuana with any other substance. Thankfully this has been a rare occurrence, because marijuana consumers prefer their product to be pure and unadulterated. Any case of violence associated with marijuana use must raise an immediate suspicion that adulterants or other substances were consumed. Individuals who are prone to violence either dislike marijuana or use it as a medication to suppress their violent tendencies. When used in combination, other ingredients tend to overshadow the subtle influence of marijuana. Alcohol and marijuana together produce a zombie-like state of no value to self or others, while alcohol alone diminishes the spirit and inhibits spiritual development.

Materialists of our age bristle at abstract terms. What is meant by this suspect word, "spirit?" Seldom is it defined. Spirit can be taken to be attitude and willpower, the driving force, that which determines, perceives and acts, let us hope, with compassion and love. That is what I mean. Other qualities such as gods or magic paint our lives with color, but they should not be taken seriously. After all, we are not serious creatures. We are improved apes. If gods exist, we are their joke, their prank. If magic exists, then it follows the laws of science in every respect, and the best magicians are scientists, and the best path to magic is study. I do not hold with those who study spells, follow the movement of planets and think the worst minds of the past can refute the best minds of today.

For the ancient shaman, marijuana was a holy sacrament, indispensable for seeing things that are hidden. In our modern world, those that use marijuana for the ancient and sacred purpose compose a tiny minority of the entire population of users, and even they have other needs from time to time. Marijuana can serve as a conduit, a means to an end, a precursor to spiritual awakening. If one maintains focus upon gaining something that is worth having, then it is possible to make the acquaintance of Athena. After all, what does a human being need most but Wisdom? Compliance is not required, because we have free will, but it is advisable to accept the Counsel of Athena, if such is offered, for it is a gift. Those that heed her wisdom know bliss. Other impulses one perceives within the Gateway, such as paranoia, seem of little value but serve a purpose, like the staff of a shepherd goading sheep away from danger and toward the right path.

Athena is another suspect word, bound to offend religionists and bemuse materialists. The name of the Entity varies among cultures and is not important, nor is it necessary to conceptualize a separate entity with a gender and a personality, for the separation is an illusion. All is One, and the Oneness can be perceived. The realization is profound and transforming. There is no separation.

Many that do not use, or that used at one time and quit, have the wrong impression about the herb. See NORML for valid information concerning marijuana. At one time, NORML was almost the only source of information, as opposed to the enormous amount of lies and half-truths about the plant being generated by the misguided governments of the world, but the world is changing. One day soon, the plant will again be legal everywhere, just as it was for most of human history. Here is why I think so. Man loves knowledge, and knowledge leads him to the following conclusions. There is no valid scientific, moral or social reason for marijuana to remain illegal; none at all. Marijuana is superior to alcohol, and the human species would profit by abandoning the lesser substance, which does great harm, in favor of the gentle herb, placed upon the Earth as a gift to Man, a plant that brings peace to those that desperately need it. I concede that Abstinence is best for most, and I remain sober for long stretches of time to function at my highest level. But if a drug is to be used, on a rare occasion, then marijuana brings the least harm of all and this is irrefutable and self-evident to those who are honest with themselves. Marijuana is a potent medicine and a spiritual sacrament, and those who claim otherwise have never used it for the proper purpose.

The Weaknesses of Chrome & Firefox

The weaknesses--and some of the strengths--of Firefox, as I see it, are in the add-ons. Java and Flash are the two major annoyances. It seems at least once a month some vulnerability comes about and an update to one of the two kludges is "highly recommended," killing 10 - 15 minutes of the end user's time, per computer. For me, that amounted to about twenty minutes killed this morning updating Java on two machines. I can't count the number of times Flash has updated, but I really don't like it because I don't know anything about Adobe or what it wants to do with my computer. Do I trust Adobe? Not really. I don't know anything about the company, but its product resides on my computer, apparently necessary because so many people watch videos on the Internet these days. We are moving to an illiterate society. Sun Oracle Java, for its part, wants to install the Ask! toolbar into my browser, and if I don't remember to un-check the box during installation, it will install that worthless piece of crap into my browser, which will necessitate another lengthy uninstall process. I hate Ask with a passion.

I can certainly understand why some users have abandoned Firefox in favor of Chrome, which has flash and java built-in rather nicely and which updates those two things in a comparatively transparent and fast manner. The main thing I don't like about Chrome is that it makes too many assumptions regarding the interface, which is far too minimal for my taste. I like a few buttons and an accessible menu at the top of the screen. Computers just are not smart enough yet to make quite so many assumptions or to start with a blank screen. Chrome wants to hide everything away, and I don't like that.

I know that idealistic young computer programmers wish things were different, but the reality is computers are as stupid as the day is long. This was true twenty years ago and it remains true today, and no amount of fancy marketing or design by Google or Microsoft will change the reality. The only thing that is going to change the scene is exponential advances in hardware. Then we can talk minimalism. Okay? Until that day, give me my damn buttons and menu options.

I also don't like Chrome's lack of add-ons such as Ad Blocker, which cleans the web of so much advertising clutter. The reason I stay with Firefox has to do with its design, which I feel is just about right, and its many add-ons, and its open-source nature. I just don't trust Google or Microsoft, because they are obviously looking for some kind of advantage to accrue from their browser, and that advantage might not be to my advantage, whereas Firefox, in theory at least, intends to create the best browser, without any dependency upon a particular vendor. Perhaps Firefox does take money from certain sources such as Google, but they are not bound to Google and could change tomorrow, whereas Chrome is inextricably bound to Google. Not that I have anything against Google, of course. But Google is, after all, a company in business to make a profit. I would use Chrome if the option were between Chrome and IE, but not while Firefox is still viable, and Firefox is still viable even with the annoyances I have described above.

Arming our Enemies?

Stories like this one about Pakistan lead me to believe we are making a monumental mistake by giving money to Pakistan, which seems to be the enemy of truth, justice and all that is good. If it is true that the people of Pakistan would kill a person for simply saying not to kill people for "blasphemy," then the people of Pakistan are bloodthirsty savages, no better than animals, and considerably worse than some animals, such as bonobos. I think that Pakistan should be paying the United States tribute in return for its continued survival and in exchange for elementary education on such issues as philosophy and morality. Otherwise India should be permitted to annex Pakistan and take over the substantial task of the education of its people. I would not envy India in such a scenario.

That all the above is mere fantasy on my part points to the depressing reality, which is that our leaders and our elite in America, ever since the fateful day of 9-11-2001, have ignored everything else in their single-minded quest for vengeance--and really the entire debacle in Afghanistan is nothing more than mere vengeance.

If I could make a wish, it would be as follows. Instead of giving to Pakistan, we should be taking from. Instead of investing in Afghanistan, we should be investing in America. Instead of investing in Iraq, we should be investing in America. Instead of placing fools in power, we should place the most capable in power. With all the problems in this country today, it is indefensible to spend even a solitary penny on faraway lands.

Whenever I think of Afghanistan and Iraq, I think of President Bush, the redneck President. I cannot believe that anyone seriously thinks a guy like Mitt Romney, who is Bush #3, should be the President. I don't think Romney is a redneck like Bush, or not quite. He is nothing more than a salesman. He will say and appear to do whatever his clientele want, within reason and to a limited extent, in order to close the deal, and then do what he wants to do, which is quite limited really. He wants to strut. He would be recognized, adored, and enjoy all the perks, privileges, and prestige of executive power. That is Romney's real agenda and always has been and always will be. Plug in whatever ideology you want, but he is in it for his ego, and this is quite obvious to anyone with a pair of eyes to see. The nation has real problems that need to be fixed but unfortunately Romney's just not a "fixer-upper" type of guy. He's not an engineer and doesn't understand how to solve tough problems. He's a salesman. Period.

Obama has some good engineering qualities. I like his caution, prudence, pragmatism, and willingness to concede mistakes. These are all qualities of a good engineer, and Bush did not have them.
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions