Friday, April 26, 2013

Kudos for Kubuntu 13.04

Getting Kubuntu

I've been working on my spiffy new Kubuntu 13.04 system, which replaced the older Linux Mint Nadia KDE. Kubuntu was released April 25th, 2013. I recommend torrenting any large file like the Kubuntu .ISO, because by torrenting, one is assured of receiving a valid file without errors, and there is no need for comparing MD5 checksums. I used Ktorrent to download Kubuntu, and K3b to burn the install DVD. I installed Kubuntu on my desktop, which has an ASUS E35M1-M motherboard with a sluggish AMD/ATI E350 apu and four gigs of RAM installed, the standard ration nowadays, a cool and quiet Western Digital 1.5 tb Green drive, and an awesome Acer X223w widescreen LCD monitor.

I'm old school when it comes to distros. Unlike some reviewers, I don't play around with virtual machines or live CD or a different partition of the drive. I go whole hog--format the drive to ext4 and let Kubuntu have every last byte. Having a couple of drives to play around with helps. At all times, I have one to three floaters that aren't connected to any system. Their mission in life is to serve as backups. I think this is the best way to go about things, especially with drives so cheap these days. There isn't much reason to be cheap on hard drives, when one weighs their trivial cost against the hassle involved in losing a Windows install or a multimedia library.

Kubuntu 13.04 is not any worse than Kubuntu 12.10, and I think the developers have done a few things better. I was pleasantly surprised that Wesnoth was indeed updated in the repositories to the current stable version of 1.10.6, as that was my main motivation for upgrading in the first place, along with the latest Ktorrent, 2.3.1, which I also found. Very good, Kubuntu! New versions of all the apps is reason enough to upgrade. Also, KDE 4.10.2 is certainly better than 4.9.5, although clicking on a petty option or two in the settings menu, like syncing with the internet time server, triggers an error report, an unpleasantness I first observed in Open Suse 12.3, but it is nothing serious in my opinion, because of course one can avoid clicking on these things. An avoidable bug that does not cause hardship is not a big deal. When I say "error report," I mean just that. KDE does not crash--one merely gets a popup with an error message, clicks "OK" and that's that.

April 28, 2013 Update:

The time bug seems more severe, at least on my system, than it at first appeared. For two days now, my system has been displaying a time four hours in advance of real time. Originally, I selected Eastern Time / New York, which usually works for me, but apparently New York time is based in a Universe four hours ahead of my Universe. I spent about an hour playing around with KDE's settings trying to fix this, because correct time is important. After many reboots, I concluded that New York time actually is broken, although whether this issue will impact all Kubuntu users I can't say, because this problem may be fall-out related to the error reports I mentioned above. Once I changed the time zone to Louisville, Kentucky Eastern Time, all was well.

The New York time zone was four hours ahead of New York time. If you live on the East Coast of the U.S. or at any rate in a region that subscribes to Eastern Time, I recommend selecting Louisville, KY as your time zone rather than New York.

April 30, 2013 Update: The Clock is Still Broken

Once again, the time has regressed to being four hours ahead of local time. I thought this problem was fixed, but apparently not. My display has changed, too. Instead of displaying only the date, it now displays the date followed by "Local."

May 2, 2013 Update: Fifoxtasy's Fix

Fifoxtasy left a comment with a working solution to this problem. I confirmed that the time remains fixed even after a power down and cold start. If your system is impacted by this problem, read on. Otherwise, count yourself among the fortunate ones and enjoy an otherwise superb KDE 4.10.2 experience.

Open a terminal and type the following commands:
sudo dpkg-reconfigure tzdata
sudo ntpdate
cat /etc/timezone
The last command merely displays the contents of /etc/timezone. If the time zone noted there isn't right, edit this file via sudo kate /etc/timezone, thus bypassing the buggy GUI. Fifoxtasy also suggests a graphical way of changing the time zone: "KDE's systemsettings didn't let me change anything, but when running as root via kdesu systemsettings, I could at least change the timezone."

I'm pleased that the time is fixed, because I was thinking about replacing Kubuntu with something else. Time is important. I'm sure it's not on the short list of cool things developers want to work on, but to the end user, a computer that can't tell time is a poor old thing. Here is a link to Fifoxtasy's Blog.

Despite this initial teething pain, I'm still a fan of KDE and of Kubuntu, for three main reasons: Dolphin, Ktorrent and K3b can't be beat; KDE offers the best desktop experience under the Sun; and KDE is free, so morally I should have to sweat a little to make things work, or else I'd be witness to a violation of Heinlein's TANSTAAFL principle, which states there ain't no such thing as a free lunch. Defiance of such a fundamental law of the Universe might result in the disintegration of the bonds that hold molecules together, ending reality as we know it.

Tweaking, Uninstalling and Installing

Do you find that the mouse pointer is far too slow in KDE? I do. First thing I do in KDE is change the pointer acceleration from 2.0 to 12.0 and dial the Drag Start Time down to zero (look under Input Devices | Mouse in System Settings). As with Linux Mint KDE and Open Suse 12.3, I spent the better part of a day darkening the background and replacing default KDE apps such as Kmail, Kwallet, and so on with Thunderbird, Firefox, and VLC, and installing Jedit, which I consider absolutely essential for its macro support. I would never have a system without Jedit, which I find similar to Notepad++ in Windows. Amarok may be the best thing since sliced bread, but I don't think Amarok plays local files as well as VLC, and I don't need Amarok's newfangled features, thank you very much. Rekonq might actually be a faster browser than Firefox for all I know, but I am a Firefox diehard because of Firefox's universe of add-ons. Firefox is the most extensible, the most powerful browser. I chose KDE because of Dolphin, K3b, and Ktorrent, all great programs in the KDE universe and to my knowledge without equal in the Linux world. KDE's settings menu is also great, allowing me to customize just about every aspect of the desktop.

Firefox Sync did not work the way I expected it to do for some as yet undetermined reason, and I can't rule out Ubuntu's little tweaks to Firefox at this stage. I decided not to troubleshoot the problem, but rather to start Firefox afresh, because I've been experiencing a strange problem on Blogger where my text sometimes disappears on me, so I thought a fresh start might not be such a bad thing.

Kubuntu's biggest difference with Linux Mint KDE may be the Muon Package Manager. I find it has a betaish quality at present. Information displayed to the user is not always accurate. For instance, the Install button remains even after an application is installed. Also, I experienced a few error messages with Muon, the precise nature of which I forget now, but I do not think Muon is as reliable as Synaptic Package Manager. However, certainly Muon has more features, and bottomline, it works. I never found a case where Muon did not install (or uninstall) a program as told.

I noticed today that Linux Mint has the firewall icon accessible in System Settings | Network and Connectivity, but Kubuntu doesn't. I prefer Linux Mint's accessible firewall. I don't know why I should have to resort to the command line in Kubuntu in order to configure my firewall. Also present in Linux Mint's System Settings, but not in Kubuntu's, is the Partition Manager, found under the System Administration header. Little touches like that propelled Linux Mint up to #1 in Distro Watch.

KDE 4.10.2's default wallpaper seems pretty good, so I didn't change it, unlike last time. I wouldn't say the wallpaper is better than OpenSuse 12.3's, because it's not. Open Suse 12.3 has the best wallpaper of any Linux distro ever made in all of history, but that's faint praise for a distro.

Kubuntu Introduces More Color Schemes

I love dark backgrounds so much that I coded dark style sheets for my favorite news sites. Color schemes in Kubuntu 13.04 are much improved, especially for the dark side:

Kubuntu 13.04 has six new color schemes, including new dark backgrounds. My choice was Krita - dark.

Comparing my Kubuntu 13.04 desktop side-by-side with my Linux Mint Nadia KDE laptop with backported KDE 4.10.2, I find that Kubuntu 13.04 has six flavors of Krita, a superb scheme with competent dark flavors, whereas Linux Mint doesn't. For dark background fans, Linux Mint offers only Obsidian Coast and Zion (Reversed) schemes, which render some text invisible due to an unresolved black-on-black problem. What I wound up doing in Linux Mint Nadia was spending an hour customizing the Oxygen scheme to be what Krita - dark is out of the box. However, I expect Linux Mint 15 KDE, when released, will also have Krita. The reason Linux Mint Nadia didn't get Krita probably has to do with its KDE 4.9.x origin; backporting KDE 4.10.2 wasn't sufficient to install Krita.

Krita - dark is reason enough to prefer Kubuntu 13.04 above any operating system that does not have it.

Here's a shot of my Kubuntu 13.04 desktop as of now:

Customizing Kubuntu 13.04

There are a couple finishing touches I like to perform on every KDE system I install. One is to adjust the time and date in the lower right hand corner so that it supplies something useful to me. I want military time, none of this PM and AM nonsense. I also want the day of the week, followed by the month, the day of the month, and the year. Right now, all of that is in a tiny font, and I haven't yet found the option to increase the size to something more readable. I do not understand why the KDE developers do not display the date by default, because time has no meaning without a date.

April 29, 2013 Update:

The font parameters, including size, for the taskbar's time and date are found in System Settings | Application Appearance | Fonts, as shown here:

The font used for the time and date is not the taskbar font, but the small font. I think that the time and date is so important that it should have a font that is named "time and date", and that it should be in a class by itself. By increasing the small font from 9 to 12, I produced a legible time and date that can be read at a glance. I increased the taskbar font as well while I was at it. My desktop has 1680 x 1050 resolution, so there is no reason to use tiny fonts.

Adding an Off Button

The other innovation I like to add is an off button, which really is a no-brainer. Every OS should have one. To install an off button in KDE, open Konsole and enter the following command:

sudo chmod u+s /sbin/shutdown
Then create a new link on your desktop called "Off" and copy from the following screenshot:

The "application" being loaded is actually just a command-line program, shutdown.

The Language Barrier

While editing this post in Blogger, I notice that Firefox underlines many words as being misspelled because they deviate from the Commonwealth spelling. I am not sure whether this is related to Kubuntu's installation of language packs. All Ubuntu distros and even Linux Mint install the South African language pack by default, and Kubuntu also installs the GB language pack. I disabled these and installed the U.S. language pack, but the spellchecker remains foreign, underlining common words like "favorite" and "color" because they lack a superfluous vowel.

Unfortunately, adding the U.S. language pack does not fix Firefox's broken spellchecker.

Another KDE Gem: Okular

Unfortunately, for some reason, Krita was the default app in Firefox to print out .pdf files, which cost me about an hour one morning, because whatever its other merits, Krita does not print .pdf documents at the proper scale by default, and I was not in the mood to learn how to use a program I have never used before. Sometimes one simply needs to get things done.

I use my printer for one main purpose, to print out postage either from Ebay or directly from the United States Postal Service's web site. By doing so, one receives a discount of ~ 16%, saves fuel and time, and enjoys the convenience of staying at home. The USPS delivers online postage in .pdf format. In Linux, the application that works best for printing .pdf files is Okular, and it is extremely important that all Linux operating systems default to Okular for .pdf files, because to my knowledge, there is no better app than Okular for viewing and printing .pdf. I have used Okular extensively not just for printing but for searching through long and hairy .pdf files. Okular has proven extremely fast and has a very intuitive interface. Windows does not have a better app for searching .pdf files. Linux has the best app, and it is Okular. People that read .pdf files on a regular basis should erase Windows and install Linux in order to access Okular.

Ensure that Okular is the only app for viewing .pdf files in KDE:

I also advise adjusting the application preference in Firefox itself:

Esoteric Weirdness

Of interest only to fellow geeks, I triggered weird behavior in Kubuntu 13.04, booting up to this screen:

I cannot call this behavior a bug, because intuition led me to suspect my recent changes to fstab were the culprit, as indeed they were. I have gotten into the habit of optimizing every linux distro's fstab in the following manner:

# /etc/fstab: static file system information.
# Use 'blkid' to print the universally unique identifier for a
# device; this may be used with UUID= as a more robust way to name devices
# that works even if disks are added and removed. See fstab(5).
# / was on /dev/sda1 during installation
UUID=blahblah / ext4 errors=remount-ro,noatime 0 1
# swap was on /dev/sda5 during installation
UUID=blahblah none swap sw 0 0
tmpfs /tmp tmpfs nodev,nosuid,size=2G,noatime,mode=1777 0 0
tmpfs /var/lock tmpfs nodev,nosuid,size=384M,noatime,mode=1777 0 0
tmpfs /var/run tmpfs nodev,nosuid,size=1G,noatime,mode=1777 0 0
I feel that Linux systems, by default, access the hard drive for rather insignificant reasons and behave as though we were still living in a world where memory was measured in kilo- rather than giga- bytes. I have four gigs in my system and I expect it to be used. Let's not run the hard drive ragged, because the hard drive is the bottleneck.

Kubuntu 13.04 does not like the last two lines above, the ones that change /var/lock and /var/run to tmpfs. Commenting out those lines eliminated the weird startup problem. I'm not alone in tmpfs'ing /var/lock and /var/run--I read about this in the ArchLinux wiki--but it is far from mainstream practice. I will never do so again, now that the potential for problems is clear. I discovered through further experimentation that the tmpfs for /tmp causes no problem, I think because it is closer to being mainstream practice now, what with Fedora having adopted the practice a version ago or so.

Conclusion: Kubuntu 13.04 is for Keeps

I am sticking with Kubuntu 13.04 for the foreseeable future on my desktop. It is better than Open Suse 12.3 because I know, with any Debian derivative, that printing will be a no-brainer, as printing should be in 2013, for all love. Kubuntu works out of the box with my wired network, requiring zero adjustments. And Kubuntu does not enroll the install dvd into the library of repositories like Open Suse does. Although I picked at a few things with Muon's package management, Muon seems better than Open Suse's package management, which gives really hairy and I think frequent error messages. Open Suse's biggest problem is that it does not have Debian behind it. Its second biggest problem is that they are preaching to the choir, to users that have used Suse since back in the day, and don't seem very interested in recruiting new users by making the system easier to use.

Comparing Kubuntu 13.04 with Linux Mint 12.10 KDE doesn't seem quite fair, because Linux Mint only has an older version available at present, but I will say that I didn't notice the lack of Mint. I don't miss the Mint menu, and I feel like I can work with Muon Package Manager. Mint always messes around with the Firefox search box, too, so using Kubuntu saved me about five or ten minutes not having to jump through hurdles to revert the search box to Google. I like the right-click options that Linux Mint adds to the file manager, the "Root Actions," which are missing in Kubuntu. Another way that Mint saves the end user time is that the devs are kind enough to install Firefox, VLC and the firewall by default, but like Kubuntu, Linux Mint KDE still has the Kmail and Kwallet monsters lurking in the shadows. In the past, I did not have a good experience with Kwallet. For some odd reason, it forced me to enter my email password each and every time that I loaded Kmail. The reason that I use a mail reader in the first place is that I do not want to enter my password. Tweaking Kwallet's or Kmail's settings didn't help. My solution was to permanently uninstall Kmail and Kwallet, and that is the first thing I do every time I install any KDE distro. Overall, I would say that Kubuntu 13.04 is comparable to Linux Mint KDE, and given a choice between the two, I'd probably choose Kubuntu, because it is released sooner and does not mess around with the Firefox search box. But the final verdict remains to be seen, because Linux Mint 15 KDE should be released later in 2013.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kubuntu 13.04

With anticipation, I have been monitoring Distro Watch on a daily an hourly basis, awaiting the release of Ubuntu 13.04, and specifically its handsomer brother, Kubuntu 13.04, which has the elegant KDE desktop. No Gnome for me, thank you very much. I'll pass on Unity, as well. I suspect the lion's share of Ubuntu development since 12.10 has been squandered on Unity, which means nothing to me, but I have other reasons to want 13.04.

The latest development version of Wesnoth, my favorite game nowadays, won't run on my Linux Mint Nadia KDE without segfaulting, and nobody seems to know why. I expect Kubuntu 13.04 will be more compatible with the development version of the game. Also, although I've upgraded KDE to 4.10.2 on my desktop, various KDE apps remain at old versions, such as Ktorrent, and I expect 13.04 to have all the latest versions. If it doesn't have Ktorrent 2.3.1 by now, then that will be a serious demerit indeed. I'm torrenting the 64-bit version of Kubuntu 13.04 right now and aim to install it today.

My desktop is the only computer I plan to upgrade at this time. My laptop works great with Linux Mint Nadia KDE, and I compiled Ktorrent 2.3.1 myself from source and installed KDE 4.10.2 without a hitch, so there is no rationale in favor of overwriting such a perfect install with anything else. My htpc runs Linux Mint Nadia Xfce, which I've upgraded to Xfce 4.10.2 (weird how Xfce and KDE share the same version numbers). It runs well too, and I don't plan to touch it other than to install Linux kernel 3.9 when it comes out. I may even wait until a later edition of kernel 3.9, because it is rather cumbersome upgrading the kernel in a ubuntu-based distro--command-line all the way and much wgetting.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Faith Falters

As a friendly observer, I witness the disintegration of what used to be a fine thriving little church in my community. What strikes me is the lack of intelligence in the higher echelons, the district managers, so to speak. What blockheads they seem. What uninspiring specimens they install as preachers.

Jesus is not going to fix everything. If you want God to help you, help yourself. The trouble with churches has always been that they do not react in realtime but have a delayed reaction to problems due to the shackles around each ankle, one named Tradition and the other named Ignorance. Knowledge is not the serpent. Knowledge is the path to wisdom. Without knowledge, how do we know what is so? Some religionists assume they already know, due to having (mis-)read a book. Some preachers speak as though their audience were uneducated sharecroppers without a nickel to their names and no television, no Internet, no telephone; no way to find out contrary information. To recruit and retain the sophisticated, it is necessary that the preacher be sophisticated, not simple and not bandying about the same old discredited superstitions. Do not speak of what cannot be proven, but speak of what is known to each heart. Too many preachers seem like children. They do not know anything and one doesn't yearn to hear anything they might have to say. It would be better to select a person that knew nothing of the Bible, but had a good heart and knew how to speak, than some of the specimens from seminary, who seem to be guaranteed employment for life, rather than being selected upon personal merit.

Gaining a dozen new indigents is fine for filling out the Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, but losing a single family that is well-educated and well-connected is a loss that reverses the former gain altogether. For generations, churches have been losing the best and the brightest. Educated people do not go to church anymore. Churches have also been losing the young. I see no end to the trend of mindshare loss. Islam also is losing in the long term, retaining some due to the thread of a shared cultural identity in the face of an overwhelming Western culture, but that faith too is on the wane, and perhaps all others as well, due to the excellent accessibility of information in our times.

Knowledge will defeat faith. Faith I think had its uses and served well another age of Man, as did monarchy and feudalism. In my family tree, I observed there were many preachers as far back as the 1600s. My people used to be earnest believers even in the current generation, but they have all left their various denominations for various reasons. Most left because their churches were stodgy, unscientific, mean-spirited merchants of mumbo-jumbo. I left as a teenager and never looked back. The Church had no answers for me, only hypocrisy and mumbo-jumbo. The time to update and refresh religion was hundreds of years ago. There used to be a narrow window of opportunity. The time has passed when religion could change and accommodate modern man. Now religion will be discarded as an outmoded relic of the past. Philosophy must replace it.

The Three D's

Young people can say things like "We'll be best friends forever," which I said many a time. With age, one sees the three D's dispose of friends: difference, distance, and death. The best one can do is replace those that were lost with better ones and try not to wax nostalgic over the past.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Clonezilla Works With Windows 7

I used Clonezilla again last night to clone my Windows 7 hard drive. It is prudent to keep a clone of Windows, because that operating system takes an enormous amount of time to install and configure. A conservative estimate would be twenty hours in total. I don't want to lose another twenty hours due to hard drive failure or malware infection, so Clonezilla gave me peace of mind by creating a bootable backup. There is no cloning feature built-in to Windows 7, and the backup feature I think is a joke. I don't work with backups, I work with clones. A clone is a byte-for-byte copy of a hard drive. If a drive won't boot, it's not a clone. A clone can be popped right into a computer with a failing hard drive and make it whole again in less than one minute. A clone is what the end user wants and needs. The end user is always right.

I doubt whether a clone could be used long-term to pirate Windows 7, because the operating system binds itself to the motherboard and cpu. Also, Windows phones home on a regular basis to confer with Microsoft headquarters and tell if the user is doing something naughty. My interest is not in piracy, because quite frankly I don't want Windows on any of my other computers--yuck, what a thought. I just need it on one computer to run two specific applications that are not available in Linux, ACDSee and Call Clerk. All the other computers are going to be running a flavor of Linux Mint Nadia, either KDE or Xfce.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Local Yokels

Upon reflection, I think the undercover agent on Facebook and Amazon was local. Entrapment of a marijuana consumer seems too petty for the Feds, but not for the local yokels.

Thoughts on the Boston Bombers

The surviving suspect in the Boston bombing is lucky that the cops caught him, because the cops are gentler than any one of us would be, if we had caught him by ourselves. There is a shocking latent savagery in many of us, especially when emboldened by public outcry and righteous indignation.

The thought of the terrorist surviving another day rankles. Yet I am reminded of Gandalf's arguments in favor of sparing the murderers Gollum and Wormtongue. Perhaps there is value in sparing a murderer's life, because during or after a trial, motives and other useful information often come to light. Maybe murderers must live in order to be examples of the worst. Maybe their miserable fate also serves as an example to others. I have always had two minds about capital punishment.

I do not believe all that I read concerning the younger terrorist. I don't believe he was a passive stoner, a naive pawn of a dominant older brother, as the media suggests. People tend to judge others based upon looks. The surviving terrorist is beautiful; even so, he is a devil. It is possible for evil to seem fair and speak with the voice of an angel, as did Sauron in the Silmarillion. I am glad one of the terrorists was slain and the other apprehended, and I hope that the government loses the key to the surviving scum's cell and never lets him go.

It annoys me that certain immigrants have such an easy time claiming permanent residency in the United States, which is the dream of many a gay foreign spouse. Why do we need more fanatic Islamists coming into this country? They should go to Saudi Arabia instead, if they love Islam so much. Go to Saudi Arabia and soak up all the Islam you can stand, if that's what you want. Don't come over to America and hate Americans because we're not Islamic. I read that the surviving terrorist scum had even received a $2,500 scholarship. This country welcomed those two scum with open arms, and they were given every conceivable opportunity to succeed.

Republicans in Congress are going to use this incident to punish the innocent, namely the gay foreign spouses who can't get a green card due to current immigration policy.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Clonezilla is a free Linux-based operating system contained entirely on a single live CD. It is self-configuring and does not require installation to a hard drive. Its purpose in life is to clone or image hard drives or partitions.

Clonezilla offers a Debian version and a Ubuntu version. I recommend the Ubuntu version of Clonezilla because of its more recent kernel, which implies better support for modern hardware. Both versions suffered display corruption on my system, but the corruption in the Ubuntu version was less severe, affecting only the initial, temporary startup screens rather than the important screen where the cloning process takes place.

Using the versatile Clonezilla isn't a no-brainer by any means, but the developers have made an effort to simplify what can be a fiendishly complicated task, cloning (or imaging) a hard drive or partition, and they have inserted multiple safeguards that protect data. Therefore I use and recommend Clonezilla for users of both Windows and Linux.

Although Clonezilla is a Linux distro, that doesn't signify; it can read a Windows NTFS drive with ease, as can all modern Linux distros. Windows can only read Windows drives, which is similar to the limitation where Windows can only network with other Windows systems and its many other severe and far-reaching limitations, bugs and security holes. At least Windows knows how to access more than 3.5 gigs of RAM now. That's nice. Maybe by Windows 50, Microsoft will figure out home networking with non-Windows computers.

Clonezilla is easiest to use when cloning a drive to a larger or same-sized hard drive, but today I cloned a 2.0tb drive to a 1.5tb drive, which is not quite as easy. For one thing, Clonezilla will not perform a direct drive-to-drive clone if the source drive is larger than the target, even if the data on the source would easily fit on the target drive. After many failed experiments, what finally worked for me was using Gparted (another Linux distro on CD) to shrink the largest partition on my 2.0tb drive by over .5tb to let it fit on the 1.5tb drive. Then I used Clonezilla to clone each of the two partitions on the 2.0tb drive, the tiny root partition and the large /home partition. I selected "device to device clone," "Beginner," accepted all the defaults, and everything worked out well. In the end, I had a bootable, perfect clone of my Linux Mint Nadia KDE drive and all its data.

Thank you, Gparted and Clonezilla!

Cloning a Windows 7 drive is more complicated, because Microsoft spends all its development dollars on making things more complicated for the end user. I discovered through trial and error that Clonezilla must be booted in UEFI mode in order to clone my Windows 7 drive. Otherwise, Clonezilla will not be able to properly read the drives.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Marriage Dream

Rarely do I remember my dreams, but I suspect they have some subtle value, so I take care to record them on my online journal here.

I dreamed of a coworker today, which is weird, because I scarcely think of him at all if he's not around. He's a nice elderly gentleman and good-looking for his advanced age. Let's call him Ricardo. He was driving my husband and I to the house of his mother, the richest widow in town. In the front seat was a man that Ricardo introduced to us as an investor who intended to purchase all the property the widow owned--and she owned a sizable chunk of the town, being a millionaire many, many times over, yet unpretentious in the way of the rich that possess a certain dignity and taste. Ricardo told me he intended to marry the man and thus retain his property. The marriage would be for the sake of dirty lucre. We drove to the widow's house, where she was not hearing it. Ricardo went to his knees and proposed to the businessman, but the widow turned her back on them in contempt.

In real life, the widow has been dead for years. Ricardo is not gay, but married to a woman, and is not her son. I am not sure how or why I connected two entirely different people, one living and one dead, in my dream. I think even my sleeping mind realized the dream was a farce and could not be real.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Windows 7 Won't Delete or Rename Files with Long Pathnames

I tried to delete some files today, but Windows 7 coughed up an error message:
"Sorry, I'm stupid. I don't know how to delete files with a long filename. Why don't you erase me and replace me with Linux?"
I may have applied my editorial powers on the error message above, but the gist of it was that the pathname was too long for Windows 7's NTFS file system. Windows 7 refused to permit any deletion of the files, no matter which variant of del or rmdir I tried. As a last resort, I tried renaming the files to conform to Windows 7's inexplicable rule. Windows 7 refused to let me rename them. I googled for help, because Windows 7 is no help. Based upon suggestions on a microsoft forum, for about half an hour I tried variations of the rm, rmdir, del, and even the cacls commands, to no avail.

This is one of the worst bugs I have ever encountered in Windows, and it was not present in Windows XP, because the files with the too-long pathnames came from a Windows XP computer! Windows has just gotten buggier, not better. The only thing Microsoft thinks about is how to enhance profits. The end user experience is the last thing on its mind.

But I've got a new feather in my cap since 2012. I'm a Linux veteran. I wouldn't call myself a guru other than in jest, but I know my way around a Linux system and can create and execute shell scripts, upgrade the kernel, and modify system parameters without too much difficulty, and I'm learning new things all the time. Let me say this to the Windows diehards: Linux is very useful, and you should learn it because it will help you manage your Windows system. Today is a case in point. I had a funny feeling that the Windows bug would not exist in Linux. Linux can read a Windows drive without any difficulty. Of course, Windows cannot read Linux drives, because of its severe limitations in intellectual capacity.

I insert a CD of Gparted, the Linux distro with a funny name, and boot my system from the CD, accepting all the defaults along the way. I love Gparted. Its mission in life is to repartition drives, and it can handle just about any type of drive. I have used it for its intended purpose many a time, but today I wish to use it for an unintended purpose. The command line is what I want. A Linux command prompt is a powerful thing, let me tell you, about a hundred times more powerful than a Windows command prompt.

By default, Gparted boots into a minimalist graphical environment and loads the flagship program, Gparted, which after a few moments reveals the pathnames of the attached drives. This is important information that I will use to compose the commands below. I wait until Gparted has gathered its information, which takes about a minute, and then click on a different program, the Terminal icon, which gives the command prompt.

Do not fear the Linux command prompt. It is your friend. It will let you do what you want to do, unlike Windows. What I want to do is kill the files that Windows won't kill because Windows is stupid. The first step is to mount the Windows drive into the Linux file hierarchy. I prepare for this by creating a directory that will be used to mount the NTFS drive:

sudo mkdir /mnt/windoze
Then I take the information observed from the Gparted window, which reveals the name of the drive, /dev/sdsomething-or-other, and compose a command resembling this:
sudo mount /dev/sda2 /mnt/windoze
Note that /dev/sda2 isn't necessarily going to be the case on your computer, and /mnt/windoze is simply a name I made up, although it is quite proper to mount drives in the /mnt directory.

What's left is to navigate to the directory with the bad file and kill it.
cd /mnt/windoze
Note that ls is the rough equivalent of dir in the Windows command line. I enter several more cd commands. Once I find the directory or the files that I want to delete, I use a very powerful command, rm, which I suggest examining prior to using. To get some help on a Linux command, one enters the command followed by --help. Try
rm --help
The command that finally gets rid of the bad filenames, which exist in a folder called "documentaries", is
sudo rm documentaries --recursive
And that's that! No more immortal files lingering on my Windows filesystem. I clicked on Exit, and Gparted let me reboot the system back into Windows, where I confirmed that the files were indeed gone.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tragedy in Boston

A friend of mine told me about the tragedy that struck the Boston Marathon today. She had heard about it on television. It's completely crazy to bomb a marathon. Runners are some of the best people in the world. Hard-working, healthy, clean-living, cheerful and happy folks are the runners.

To understand such an insect act, one has to accept that there are people in the world that lack empathy for other sentient creatures. They are severely handicapped psychologically and incapable of finding love or friendship. They are uninteresting dim souls that behave in the ways that the ants behave.

I suspect that radical Islamist terrorists were behind the tragedy and that their rationale was payback for drone attacks. That to me seems the most likely scenario. They accomplish nothing, of course, but perhaps the act satisfies some primitive desire for revenge. Terrorists are nothing if not primitive. It is a mistake to think of them as being rational or pragmatic. I don't think they have a grand strategy or much conception of politics.

I envision a lazy, stupid terrorist, insofar as most terrorists probably are lazy and stupid. Evil and the destructive urge appeals to those types most of all.  Hard-working folks tend to build things, nurture things, work to make the world a better place. Those that want to destroy have not invested any blood, sweat or tears in building or creating anything of note. That is why they find it so very easy to destroy.

No one would be venturing out on a limb here by speculating that the terrorist is male, because men tend to find it within themselves to commit such acts. Not nearly as many women have ever been convicted of terrorism. I think this is because women create and nurture the most important thing of all, life. Of course, the hormonal differences between estrogen and testosterone play an important role as well.

Mr. Stupid is aware of the Boston Marathon because it is nearby where he lives or because he has heard about it before. Probably a cell of three or four terrorists, some foreign nationals. More than one person would have to be involved to pull something like this off, because terrorists tend to be so stupid and lazy that they would lose focus without the incitement of peer pressure to spur them on.

The terrorists, when apprehended, should be charged with capital murder and put to death. It's a good thing to have capital punishment to deal with crimes like this. A public execution helps heal psychic wounds. Hopefully, the method of execution will be non-destructive of body parts,  because the organs of the terrorists could be harvested and given to those in the Boston area that need organs.

A Burr Under His Saddle

I wish I knew what triggered the undercover agent, what put a burr under his saddle so to speak. I tried laying my cards on the table, telling him in so many words, "I know you are an agent, buddy." He never talked plainly, but kept playing his little game of entrapment, with every reply elaborating upon some variation of "Just say the word and I'll mail a package of marijuana--free--no charge!"

I could never in a hundred years believe in a stranger giving me anything except the flu. I wash my hands after shaking someone's hand. Strangers offer me their hand every day on my job, thinking it the civil thing to do. Bah! Handshaking is an accursed unscientific custom. I have yet to meet a doctor or nurse that is first with the hand, and why? Because they know better. Invariably my first thought is to go to the bathroom and wash off  whatever germs were laid on my fingers.

The whole affair just underlined for me what a cruel world we live in, dog eat dog. I'm glad I'm wise enough to avoid what can be avoided, although certainly I succumbed to some foolish things in my youth. I pity the unfortunate, careless young and untested, whose first great test may result in their being marked for life.

I think that Facebook fully cooperates with agents, because Facebook locked my account abruptly about two weeks into my correspondence with the agent, so I had to call in to verify my account, thus refuting a potential future "it wasn't me at the computer" defense.

Such ridiculous nonsense. I can think of a thousand productive things the government should be doing, but this is not one of them. One can scarcely credit we are living in 2013.

Distros that use Old Kernel Versions

In their latest release notes, PCLinuxOS claims that Linux kernel 3.2 has superior desktop performance. Kernel 3.2 was also the choice of the latest Linux Mint Debian Edition (LMDE). Other distros place emphasis on using the very latest kernel available, such as the mainstream versions of Linux Mint, OpenSuse, Fedora, and Ubuntu.

I prefer using the latest kernel, because in my experience with computers, newer is almost always better. The only exception might be Microsoft Windows, which seems to only have gotten worse after their masterpiece, Windows XP.

The latest kernels may have reduced desktop performance by ten percent, but might that not be offset by gains in drivers? I don't know, because other than the neat summaries published by bloggers, I'm at a loss. I can't make heads or tails of the terse and arcane kernel release notes, which often quote code directly, meaning one would have to study the underlying code to determine the benefit (or cost) of all the various changes.

Perhaps it is true that kernel developers favor servers over desktops, and the latest kernels are not optimal for desktops, but if one wishes to use fairly recent hardware, then one must adopt a recent kernel sooner or later. My assumption is that new kernels offer better and more comprehensive support for all kinds of  hardware.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


I woke up on Saturday morning determined that it was going to be a good day, despite my fifteen hour working shift. What do you know, it was a good day, and all because I made it so. I had a bit of help in that nothing unexpected arose. But I made preparations. I slept my seven hours the night before, got up early, ate a hearty breakfast consisting of my patented oatmeal, and remembered all of the little things I need to remember.

This reflection reminds me of my youthful study of Zen. There is an ancient book collecting dust on my shelf that teaches spells that work real magic. It is called "The World of Zen" by Nancy Wilson Ross, and it contains ancient lore that cannot be explained, defined or analyzed, which is the essence of Zen, I believe. The magic that it teaches is a spiritual, rather than a material magic, which may be a disappointment to the reader, unless he reflects that spiritual magic is after all the more important variety.

I plan to start reading Ross again. After so many years decades, I come to the book with a new perspective. A good author, or in Ross's case, editor, is like that. Put their book down, let it lie fallow for a couple years, and the second harvest is even better--and a third and fourth isn't out of the question either, with the absolute limit of repetition depending on one's longevity.

Windows Networking is No Fun

Nothing is more complicated and less fun than trying to debug a Windows 7 home network. There are about a dozen different places to look for things, and if something doesn't work, there could be multiple reasons. I've spent an entire day debugging a home network with a stubborn Windows 7 box. In the end, after much googling, I discovered a nasty secret. Linux and Macs cannot join a Windows 7 Homegroup.

I tote a USB stick from my Windows 7 box to my Linux box whenever I need to transfer a couple of files, despite the fact I have a home network, which used to work fine when the box had Windows XP.

Windows only gets worse with each new version, losing functionality along the way; devolution, rather than evolution. Microsoft adds new restrictions and limitations that are intended to enhance its profits, and only a few bells and whistles to entice the end users to shell out another hundred dollars.

I look forward to the day when I can dispense with Windows altogether, but I need it for the moment to run ACDSee and Call Clerk. One day my network will work well again, because every machine on it will be running Linux, and the many problems created by Microsoft will be only a memory.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I watched a disturbing movie, Deathrace, about a dystopia set in the U.S.A. of the near future, in which, like today, there are few or no good jobs, and those jobs that are available tend to be temporary, ill-paid, and without benefits of any kind. The numerous and well-armed police are given a free hand to beat the hell out of workers, because workers are considered expendable, along with the rest of the have-nots. Prisons are run by private corporations, as is the case today in many states, and these corporations are in it to make a profit at all costs. The movie seemed realistic, and I wondered whether it was a crystal ball into our future.

The plot sickens: a worker is sent to jail for murdering his wife, although actually an undercover agent murdered his wife in order to frame him for the murder. Why was he framed? Because he is a good driver. Once in prison, he competes in a reality show called Deathrace, where convicts race against each other in armored cars fitted with machine guns and exotic weapons, which is reminiscent of the gladiators of Ancient Rome.

Midway through, I paused the movie to put up dishes and dropped a wine glass, which shattered. I don't usually drop things. At that point, I realized the movie had ceased to entertain and that I didn't care to watch the rest. There were no interesting characters, and despite the thought-provoking plot, the writing was uninspiring. No one in the movie uttered anything memorable.

My kind of movie is any of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I watched The Hobbit in order to recover. The next day, I watched The Fellowship of the Ring and found my favorite scenes, the romantic ones concerning Arwen, who chose a mortal life, and they brought tears to my eyes once again. Surely there will always be good people in the world. I think good has powerful benefits, some evident and some subtle. Otherwise, good would not have endured the ages. Evil is destructive not only of others but of self, whereas good is regenerative and nurturing of all.

It may be that the economy is screwed up, and many of our politicians and other officials either don't give a damn or don't have a clue what to do about it. I think America is on the road to being second-rate, and China is going to be the new fascist power to rival the old Axis Powers. All that is pretty clear. One doesn't need a crystal ball. I've heard plenty of ordinary people express similar opinions. The powers-that-be up in Washington are still acting as though nothing has changed, strutting about the world like we're still the sheriff. The leaders are due some rue from the clue canoe. That will come about in due course. Usually, America gets a wake-up call like Pearl Harbor or 1929 before it wakes up. I don't know what disaster is going to make the big changes yet, but I do have a vague feeling that things are not heading in the right direction, and that something bad may occur. I felt more confident in the 1990's, never doubting the country's future for a second, but in those days I could open a paper and read page after page of job openings in the computer technology field, my field. Nowadays I open up the paper and read page after page of foreclosures, bankruptcies and public auctions.

The future is shrouded in mist, far away, offering brief glimpses only. I do think that the world is a better place than a hundred years ago. Today I think so many politicians are wrongheaded, stodgy, hidebound by tradition and unwilling to take any risks, even for love of country, but I wonder whether that has not always been the case. Corruption has always been rife, perhaps even more so in the past than now. It may be that the economy is worse, and our standard of living is declining rather than increasing, but there is a lot of room for standards to fall, because our expectations were high in the clouds. After all, poverty has been the fate of most people in the world ever since the world began. Why should Americans be an exception? The fate of our country or ourselves does not necessarily bear that much relation with the fate of mankind. The world got on before America assumed the sheriff's role, and it will get on long after we place our badge on the shelf.

I should not like to be living in Taiwan, which will be the first lamb sacrificed to the Chinese lion.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What are Referrer-Spammers?

When one visits a site, it is customary, although by no means mandatory, for one's browser to inform the site of the linking site. This data is placed in the referer-string and gets recorded in the site's server log. Site owners regard the referrer-string as one of the more useful bits of information, because they like to know who is sending them traffic. They may view the referrers in the site log or by viewing their site stats. Some site owners actually post a list of referring sites as an ill-conceived method of rewarding helpful behavior. I do not recommend doing so.

No verification of the referrer-string can be performed, because only the visitor and his ISP really knows where on the Internet he came from.  A referrer-spammer, typically a bot, inserts an incorrect link into the referrer-string in order to promote a site and tempt site-owners to click on the link. Once a site-owner clicks on such a link, he may expose his computer to a malware infection, and at any rate, his IP address and geographical location may be compromised. No reputable site would ever resort to referrer-spam in order to generate traffic. Only scum do that. When I detect referrer-spammers in my log, I add their IP address to my blacklist.

The day has long since passed when a webmaster trusted in hit counts as a reliable measure of popularity or readership. Hit counts are fun and offer a rough measure, but the number must be taken with a grain of salt. The lion's share of hits for less popular sites are bogus, but even popular sites receive plenty of bots. A site owner may trust in comments, shares, and link-backs as a firmer indicator of human traffic.

However, even some comments are the work of bots promoting sites, products, or people. During the election season, I receive my share of bots passing through posting a defense of a politician I may mention. When I blog about a brand-name, I may receive a comment defending the brand. I can sometimes detect bots when their comments do not strictly jibe with the content of my blog post. A bot may be triggered into dropping a canned comment by one or more keywords being detected in a blog post.

Looking over a site log can be a real eye-opener. The log reveals just how many bots there are out in the wild--comment spammers, old-fashioned email harvesters, referrer-spammers, content-scrapers, search engines of no good reputation, and bots probing for security weaknesses. If you are an English writer like me and you notice much traffic from Russia or China or some other far-flung place in the world, I wager you are seeing just a bunch of bots and nothing more.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Phantoms of the Internet

Beware of anyone met online, because you have not met them; they are ideas only, phantoms. There are many on the Internet that pretend to be that which they are not, and their motives are as varied as human nature allows. Some are criminals, some are jealous, some are lustful, some are curious, and some are misguided undercover agents.

The agent I dealt with last week also had a profile on Amazon, Google and several other online venues. Her online profiles were elaborate and indistinguishable from that of any other ordinary person. Governments around the world employ personnel that craft convincing and highly detailed online identities. Facebook isn't the only online site crawling with agents, but it's probably the top one. "She" had an impressive cover. Let's continue with the feminine pronoun, though I think she was really a he. She had many friends, each with elaborate and believable Facebook profiles, and her own profile was believable as well. Clearly her online activity constituted a full-time job. Her friends and relatives had blogs of their own with many posts and comments on their posts.

My point is this. It is not possible to determine the legitimacy of an online persona by examining their Facebook profile, friends, forum postings, or email messages. An online acquaintance remains a mystery. One must remind oneself of that cardinal rule at all times. One does not know another's gender, age, name or location. One knows nothing about them at all, not even what can be twigged by their style of writing, for even style and grammar are subject to manipulation. Even an IP address may be spoofed like all other technical information. None of the stats on any online profile may be trusted, and of course anything someone writes is subject to being a lie, along with the manner in which they write it.

Many people in the world have no ethical problem with lying, or even if they do, they evaluate lying as being the lesser evil. Thus, each new evil that they commit afterward may also be evaluated in the same light, as a lesser evil. Such a slippery slope, my dear, and where does the fall end?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Mounting a USB DVD / CDROM in Ubuntu / Linux Mint

I had difficulty this morning mounting a USB DVD-ROM in Linux Mint and spent over an hour googling for the answer. Ah, but Google is a crutch for a lazy mind. I entered scores of commands at the terminal, mainly variations of:
sudo mount /dev/cdrom
Which returned an error:
mount: can't find /dev/cdrom in /etc/fstab or /etc/mtab
And when I tried to mount /dev/cdrom /mnt, I got something to the effect of "no medium found".

Now what could be the problem? Is Windows easier than Linux in this particular case? Did the evil manufacturer collude with Microsoft to leave millions of Linux users in the lurch? These scenarios and more floated through my fevered mind. I even resorted to editing /etc/fstab, although once I loaded it in my text editor, I didn't really know what to put in there. I also tried rebooting. At last, I decided to test my hypothesis that the USB DVD player would only work in Windows. I plugged it into my Windows computer. Nothing happened. Windows did not recognize the drive either. That meant that the drive was bad, and I needed to throw it in the garbage unless. . . unless . . . that was when I noticed something at the end of the USB cable. Apparently this drive, for a mysterious reason, has not one, but two USB connectors, and I had been using the connector at the end of the cable, which offered more length and seemed the logical choice. However, the drive only works and is only recognized if the very first USB connector is plugged into the computer. Once I tried the first connector, the drive worked in both Linux Mint and Windows without any difficulty. This was not a Linux/Windows problem at all, but a situation where the manufacturer chose a poor design in defiance of logic. I have never seen a USB device with two connectors. The second USB connector exists only as a practical joke on the end user. When I tried to visit the product page at the manufacturer's web page, I was told that the page no longer existed, which is typical, as manufacturers abandon kludges almost as soon as their sales begin to drop, in order to dodge customer complaints.

Moral of the story: Beware the hydra.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Jester

Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup's latest class, the Jester, available in the trunk version, seems made for me. One of my favorite player combinations in the game has for a long time been the Mummy Necromancer that worships Nemelex Xobeh. The developers have cut it close with the Jester, who worships NX from the beginning and is equipped with one of my favorite weapons, the powerful if unpredictable quarterstaff of chaos, which I usually have peeled from the dead body of Crazed Yluf.

I have desired just such a class for ages and am certain it will be my favorite class of all. Mummies have long needed such a class, because they are so weak, having a poor aptitude at every skill. Only through the power of Xobeh can a Mummy hope to win the Orb.

I do not understand the connection with Xom, but perhaps the crazed god is intended to counterbalance some of the power the Jester has in the beginning. A quarterstaff of chaos is a surprising, powerful choice for a provisioning weapon, and NX is no weakling either, providing strong powers in his decks of cards. Such a weapon as the quarterstaff of chaos could be taken to the end game, despite its sometimes nasty random effects. I think the developers are going to have to weaken the weapon in order to restore balance. Perhaps a +0 quarterstaff of chaos would be more to the point.

On a different subject, I would just like to note that my Linux Mint operating system polls the Dungeon Crawl Debian repository. When a new trunk update is released by the developers, my operating system notifies me, and all I have to do is make a mouse click, enter my password, and it is downloaded and installed automatically! Contrast the ease with which a Linux user like me receives trunk updates to the method that Windows users must employ. I even made the Windows method easier by coding a batch file that installs the program faster than the Installer, but even that was more work than the Linux method. My point is that Linux is easier to use than Windows and better as a gaming PC, if one can refrain from using the latest graphical 3D shoot 'em ups.

Turn-based strategy games are the way to go in my opinion, and Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup represents the best of the best. Being turn-based is critical for me, because I need to be able to handle frequent interruptions from the phone and from customers. I would not play Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup if it were realtime. I like the Tiles version and I like the fact that the game pauses after every turn.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Warning: You Are Being Watched

There is one growth industry in our crumbling empire that generates new employment opportunities and hardly ever downsizes. No, I'm not talking about manufacturing. What a laugh. Manufacturing in the U.S. is almost an oxymoron these days, which distresses me, because manufacturing is what really won the Second World War, as any history buff knows. I fear for our nation's future with our manufacturing outsourced to China. The growth industry is not our nation's military, as our wars seem to be winding down rather than expanding under the foreign policy of President Obama. I am not referring to the education "industry," although many people are going back to school, even with the poor financial returns available on an education investment. The one growth industry that really stands out in the U.S. is the prison industry.

The United States is ranked #1 in the entire world when it comes to the number of people in prison, and no small number of people are paid to put them there and care for them once they are there. This has been true for decades due to the illegality of popular drugs such as cannabis, which is less harmful than alcohol, but carries severe penalties for those found to be in possession of small quantities. The Drug War provides a livelihood for people on both sides of the law. One deplores the cartels, but they would disappear if drugs became legal, as they were for thousands of years prior to the 1930s. Nobody had a problem with drugs until the government made it a problem.

In the Drug War and other law enforcement campaigns, the government employs (I like that word, since the Drug War generates so much employment in modern America) lies and intimidation to weasel its way into peoples' lives.

The usual game goes down like this. An agent pretends to be somebody's friend and then, once a naive individual places trust in that agent, a trap is sprung ensnaring that poor soul in a felony carrying the threat of significant penalties. As a computer programmer, I am reminded of phishing scams and viruses. They are all one, agents and computer viruses, employing social engineering to deceive, manipulate and harm.

"Don't worry, Mr. or Mrs. No-Account Nobody! We don't want to crucify you. We actually want to crucify someone else, and you can help us do so. Oh, and by the way, it would be in your best interest."

Yes: betray your friends and abandon your ethics in the interest of self-preservation. The Drug War is a game, you see, it is not a crusade, and ethics has nothing to do with it. The players are merely players seeking to win. Right or wrong does not necessarily enter into the equation.
If the poor soul wishes to redeem herself and not lose custody of her children or face a lengthy prison sentence or lose all her worldly possessions, then she must prove useful, enlisting as an undercover agent in order to ensnare others in the drug trade, often at some risk to herself. Disgrace, humiliation, debasement, and dishonesty are the prices that such souls must pay in exchange for leniency in their sentencing.

Now, I was tested quite recently by an undercover agent who contacted me via Amazon, responding to one of my reviews. After an initial back-and-forth exchange of messages, she invited me to extend our acquaintance over to Facebook.

On the Internet, undercover agents prefer to pose as women, due to the universal truth that human beings do often place more trust in their mothers than their fathers. In the past, I have been approached more than once by agents due to my online activities of speaking out about political and controversial matters. The government is in the business of profiling individuals and speculating upon them. Those in power are sometimes motivated by the desire to dominate and control others, and principles such as freedom of speech don't appeal to their way of thinking.

Now I will let my reader in on a little secret. I am not a naive individual, although I may play one online. I am not sure how I attracted the attention of an agency, but my blog contains posts on controversial subjects. Whatever the motive, an agent glanced at my blog, concluded that marijuana was my weakness, my femme fatale, and employed a honeypot strategy.

I was offered free marijuana of the very best variety straight from a small organic grow operation in Mendocino County in California. All I had to do was say the words, "Please send me some marijuana," and a special delivery would arrive in the mail, accompanied, no doubt, by several squad cars.

I called her on her game, which at first I found amusing, but she stuck to her story and wouldn't confess to it, but just kept wading deeper into falsehoods. Nobody likes dealing with a liar, and I'm no exception, so I un-friended her / him on Facebook. I suspect the agent was male, a college-educated middle-class boy in his late twenties or early thirties not knowing too much about the world. He was well-trained by his agency and probably would have nailed someone else. Every message, he kept elaborating upon his proposal to mail me a package of marijuana, which I do believe is a federal offense that might even justify an open-ended seach warrant, which presents a huge hassle, having so many cops rummage through the home all day long on a fishing expedition--and I resent the entrapment. I think the trigger may have been something on my blog about a powerful official. It is not exceptional for officials to call in favors from law enforcement agencies.

Although some government employees may not comprehend or believe in the principles of the United States of America, I do, and I think that free speech is important, and sometimes may even be the duty of a human being, to say what is thought to be so, not for material, but for spiritual, for timeless reasons. I will not be intimidated, although I expect the latest will not be the last attempt at entrapment, whether the next lure proves to be sex, drugs, money, or something else. Not many people are acquainted with the phrase, amor fati, which has such a good ring that one prefers the Latin.

In terms of temptations, a job might actually hook me. I don't know. Like many Americans in today's economy, I'd love to get a good new job. A good job is the one thing I want most in this world. But I would not accept any job where I had to lie to people in order to make my living.

techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions