Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Past Lovers

As for past lovers, they are forgettable and regrettable. They allowed me to say, "Well, now I know what all of that's about."

One does not wish to miss out on any of the delicious cake that others are enjoying and praising as the finest cake in the world. Perhaps their cake was overrated, but I had to find out for myself, because everyone is different.

For me, lovers comprised a series of experiments until the final discovery was made, at which point, "Eureka!" Time to publish my papers and mark my discovery before the world.

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Case of the Pregnant Nurse

I found the story of a pregnant nurse fired over a flu shot interesting. Her employer grants exceptions in the case of religious objections. Had the nurse joined the Church of the Narrow Mind, she could have declined the flu shot and remained employed. "Special rights" are accorded to cultists only, the privileged ones that know better than the rest of us.

I remember back in the day, when one suggested that gay people should not be fired merely for being gay, the cultists charged that this was "special rights for gays". That old jug did not hold water, because equal rights are not "special" rights. However, "special rights" are indeed accorded to cultists in America, where religion and religion alone is afforded special privileges and considerations. On the other hand, philosophy and conscience receive little protection. This is a strange state of affairs with many far-reaching implications.

Is not religion the derivative of conscience? I would hope so. If religion is instead the cause, rather than the effect of conscience, then that creates a vulnerability in conscience. Conscience should have no dependencies. Losing one's religion could result in losing one's conscience. I lost my moral framework when I lost my religion at the age of fourteen. I knew very little about philosophy at that age and was not in the slightest way philosophical.

Church taught the history of certain religious figures, flavored by the Church's bias. That was not useful to me for inculcating morality. I learned the history of every book in the Bible. In many cases, the lessons were taught multiple times. Such knowledge was interesting, as I tend to find all knowledge interesting, and rather colorful actually, but not useful. I have forgotten much over the decades since. However, I love history and love imagining people of old, so I eagerly devoured the books of the Bible. No one could maintain against all argument that the books of the Bible were written without bias and even vindictiveness in some instances, but I do find the Bible interesting. I do not imbue the stories with the gravity that some do. They are stories. Some I like more than others.

I believe that if a comparison must be made, then conscience and philosophy are more important than religion. Religion is someone else's thoughts taken second-hand, is it not? If not, then one's belief isn't religion at all, but heresy or even shamanism.

Returning to the case of the pregnant nurse, I am not for firing workers over trivial things. I believe the nurse's employer should allow her to take an unpaid leave of absence until she gives birth. That seems like a fair resolution of the matter to me. As I understand the issue, she is willing to take the flu shot after, but not during her pregnancy. A decent and caring employer should show willingness to make a minor accommodation for a pregnant woman's conscience.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Ainshent and Justified

Some chess openings are ainshent and justified. Sometimes I feel guided as I play them. I have an intuitive feel for what the objectives are. Does my opponent? Sometimes I find my opponent does not have a plan at all. They bounce from one tempo to the next, looking for tactical gotcha's. That is a cheap, frivolous way to play. That is how I know that they do not take the game seriously. They might glance at the board over a coffee. But they are not really studying the game, not like I am. Not many players, I find, bother going deep. I immerse myself in some positions. I reach a point where I am guided, by logic, perhaps. But I can almost feel the hand of a master on my shoulder and his breath whispering against my ear, "No, not there. Over here, you see... Yes, it is clear... They have overlooked... They are not prepared for..." It is pleasant and comforting.

When I was a boy, my older brother talked like an advanced player when he discussed chess. He introduced words he never used outside the context of chess. He had absorbed a certain vocabulary from chess books and magazines. I, in turn, absorbed from him second-hand the same words, ideas, and attitudes, becoming the logical chessplayer. Perhaps I project such words in, say, the spectral form of GM Tartakower, who was such a good-looking grandmaster, judging by Wikipedia's photo. It would be nice to conjure up such a presence for consultation, I should think.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Age of Titans Works in Linux Under Wine

I was surprised to find that Age of the Titans, a classic Windows game, really does work in Linux using Wine. As far as I'm concerned, they just don't make video games like they used to. I'm a creature of habit and remain loyal to some of the old video games. Upon reflection, all the games I like are old. Chess is the oldest of them all, but Dungeon Crawl is certainly no spring chicken and is based on something even older, Rogue.

I have a purchased copy of both Age of Mythology and Age of the Titans. Like many charming old video games, they are available for peanuts on E-bay or Amazon. One can always purchase an old game for a fraction of the price of a new one. I think I bought my copies for about $5-15, tops, including shipping. Of course, I use some sort of No-CD patch in order to remove the copy protection, because I find the games virtually unplayable otherwise. I don't mind paying for software, but I can't be bothered shuffling a CD around, and copy protection also interferes with Wine on Linux.

I plan to burn a DVD with everything needed to install and enhance Age of the Titans. I think that will be a time-saver if I ever need to install it again, which I think is quite likely in the years to come.

I like to use a lot of enhancements from Age of Mythology Heaven. There are some very talented gamers in the world that have no problem developing enhancements for a game for free. I suppose I'm no different in that regard. There is a delight to be had in creation.

One of the problems in Linux has always been a lack of games, when compared to Windows, but Wine helps bridge that gap. I am pleased I won't have to keep a silly Windows XP system alive just to play a game.


No one from either our families will be attending our wedding. Some have sound-seeming reasons, others not, but in all cases, I am not surprised, and would have predicted the same if asked a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago, or thirty years ago.

People will say this and people will say that. People do not understand. I do not make the mistake of expecting people to understand. It is a foolish mistake to make.

A mark will be written in a book for all time. I do what is good and true and right. I am pleased, because I am justified.

And what of them? If they say later, you did not mark my special occasion, then I can say, where were you, when I married my one and only love? You elected not to come. Nor did you wish me well, nor send a card, nor even call on the telephone. So wherefore can you find fault in me, when you did the same? Look instead to the stranger on your left or the stranger on your right, and see whether they will consent to be your family, because that is where I have found mine.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Litmus Test for Kindness

I think that much is revealed by a person's treatment of animals. Good, kind people treat the weaker species with understanding, patience, and gentleness. Such people must be good and kind, because the power differential between the animals and ourselves is vast. We are like gods to our pets. We have god-like abilities. How could a cat understand the way by which we control light, sound, temperature, and even the availability of food and water with seemingly little or no effort? Other humans can defend themselves, or are otherwise protected by our community. Animals are largely defenseless, with only a thin degree of protection by the law and custom. For reason of their defenselessness, it is particularly wicked to mistreat animals. I believe that if someone is mean to an animal, then they are capable of worse deeds towards human beings.

Both of my cats like me and seek out my company. They do not hide when I am around. I feel like they consider me to be their friend. I feel like they both understand my ways. I can communicate easily with them about simple things. They do not understand English, but understand the basic parameters of reading my body language. When I tell them something, if it is simple and can be easily guessed, then more times than not, they guess the correct meaning. I respect their intelligence, such as it is. I feel flattered and privileged to have their friendship.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Death Has Many Splendours

In another time and place, I knelt before him and said, "Master, is it true what they have told me, that death has many splendours?"

The answer I was given cannot be translated into this world, because the knowledge is forbidden.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

IRC is a Fetid Corpse

IRC is beyond dead. I visited again tonight just to confirm my initial impression. Oh, God. It's horrible. Deathly quiet. A pall over all the channels, all of them with the exception of the ones that have text (spam) flowing in from outside sources. The few human beings slant towards being extremely anti-social, cliquish and downright hostile to anyone they do not know. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to communicate with anyone on IRC, so I uninstalled my IRC program and have no plans to ever play around with that nonsense again.

I did, however, find a site on the Internet where it is possible to communicate with human beings online in a fun and engaging manner. I think web sites have supplanted IRC, and good riddance, because IRC stands for I Reject Communicating. The problem always was that IRC favored the geeks, while normal people steered clear.

Even spammy, weird, virus-strewn and random Usenet is friendlier than IRC.


A depressed mind scapegoats issues as the cause of depression. Our minds are perpetual problem-solvers and trouble-shooters, and so we always try to look for a reason. It is only natural to look for the cause of a problem and try to resolve it. But if the cause is in reality biochemical, then it is invisible and cannot be perceived by the mind. Thus we run the risk of mistaking visible things for being the cause of depression, when in reality, they are just things.

One key to alleviating depression, anger, shame, and other negative emotions, I think, is to accept that things do not matter. I suppose nothing matters ultimately. Things do not matter in the sense that they are not worth feeling unhappy about for any extended period of time.

I think high-achievers have difficulty finding happiness. They feel upset when things are not going their way, because they are used to ensuring that things go their way. They are used to working hard and experiencing success. Once one has tasted the sweet flavor of success, it is difficult to get used to the bitter dregs of failure.

Although some people are excellent problem-solvers, unfortunately, as one gets older, one encounters problems that are intractable and have no resolution. Such problems might as well be accepted as the normal state of being. Acceptance is freedom, freedom from care and worry. There is no sense in fighting a battle that has already been lost. One lives and tries to make the most of each situation. Happiness sometimes requires reducing expectations and accepting imperfection and impermanence. Happiness is about being satisfied with a "C" and not expecting an "A". Sometimes the "grading policy" is such that an "A" cannot be achieved. It is impossible to make an "A". Instead, a "C" is the best one can do. In such a scenario, one might as well be happy with the "C".

The reality is we are dust. From star-dust we derived and to dust we return. There is only so much an ordinary human being can do. We are feeble, limited, temporary creatures, dead and gone and forgotten. Impermanence seems self-evident yet is not often emphasized.

Many people believe that the individual consciousness is so important that the soul survives death and persists somehow. They do not know how, and so they employ abstract words to describe the process by which the soul lingers on after the body dies. Even the concept of the soul itself is rather abstract.

Socrates believed in the immortality of the soul, although he never defined the soul in an adequate manner for my satisfaction. His definition of the soul resembles DNA to me. He did not know about DNA or many other things to do with science, but I think he can be forgiven that. He found a belief in the afterlife to be a comforting thought, given that he was condemned to die. None of his arguments persuade me.

I think we are just aspects of the whole, and our individual consciousness is unimportant and will be unpreserved. Such a belief does not make me fear death any more than anyone else. I think the belief in immortality is a symptom of vanity. Humans are vain creatures. To my mind, we have no more right to a soul than a cat. What is special about a human, except that we have more agile brains?

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Death Trip

I stopped using marijuana about a year ago.

Using is like diving. One is underwater and may perceive things that are not quite as apparent on the surface. I don't like to stay underwater long. I prefer to come up for air and breathe.

Urinalysis is marijuana's chief liability. Of course, it can be defeated. "Dilute and substitute" is folk wisdom. I've never bothered with subterfuge. I will purify in order to qualify. I went ten years clean at a job with urinalysis, although "clean" must be interpreted as "substituting alcohol for marijuana." Alcohol is a poor substitute. I saw what it did to my supervisor and others. I do not understand what businesses gain by prodding their employees away from marijuana and toward alcohol. I think they lose, if anything. Urinalysis is a strange artifact of modern America. Urinalysis targets marijuana to a much greater extent than anything else. Of course, marijuana equates to poor performance during the high, as laboratory tests verify. All right, but what about alcohol? There are many other substances, and new substances are getting invented all the time. Marijuana is the chief villain to be apprehended in a cup, while meth and coke can slide on by without too much difficulty, after a few days.

My last trip was a death trip. The herb accentuates whatever one's thoughts focus upon. My thoughts were shrouded deep in gloom. I imagined death. I perceived it. The body does not wish to die and rebels at the very suggestion. Death is not a difficult feat to accomplish. We are all hanging by a thread. There is no need to swing from side to side and see whether the thread will break. It might break. The thought of death is not as unpleasant as the thought of the consequences for the living, those that are dear to one, the cherished and beloved. Once dead, one is beyond all power to help and comfort them. One can do no more good, but is rendered useless and unimportant. I suppose that is why people who live alone, without friends or close relations, are more likely to give in to the siren call that sings to all living things.

A superstitious fancy amuses me. Perhaps it is all rot like religion. On the other hand, imagination is fun, and I don't take it very seriously. I like to imagine that usage is a two-way street. A human makes the decision to enter the altered state offered by the herb, but there is a gatekeeper. To my mind, she is a goddess, wise and knowing. Her sex is appropriate, because commercial marijuana derives from the female plant. Sometimes she offers insight on one little matter or another, advice and guidance. If she deems use acceptable at a particular place and time, she grants a good experience. Otherwise, she gives the opposite. In that context, the death trip was a warning, so I have followed the advice of the goddess.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Socrates Talked a Lot of Nonsense

I have trouble following Socrates. He talked a lot of nonsense. Not many of his arguments have the power to persuade. I am annoyed none of his followers ever spent the least effort at a refutation to any of his wild, rambling arguments. Nevertheless I like his story. The drama appeals to me--friends gathering about a condemned man to hear his last outpourings of what they perceive as wisdom. I think he was an ancestor to the modern mind. There would be many changes to his model in the course of history. I also have a certain regard for the intellectual integrity of Socrates. I think if Socrates knew then what we know now, his arguments would undergo vast revisions as he assimilated the knowledge and corrected his many errors.

IRC is a Desert

I tried IRC tonight. It was a desert. Every channel I joined had few to no comments. The few channels with activity slanted toward the geeky end of the spectrum and were neither welcoming nor interesting unless one has a great deal of expertise in the particular technical niche being discussed. For three hours I trudged through the sands of this desert. There was no oasis anywhere. Everywhere were signs warning of the consequences for spammers, trolls, and assorted rule-breakers. I thought that was amusing. The admins would be lucky to have a spammer, troll, or rule-breaker, because at least that would constitute activity. IRC seemed to me boring and pointless. Most channels have no activity at all, but the activity I did detect was of the snooze-inducing variety. I suppose all the nice people are on Facebook these days. I'm done with IRC for the time being. I feel the same way about Craigslist. There are ghettos on the Internet where one does not wish to go or where one might drive by in transit to a better place.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Avoiding a Critical Pitfall in Windows Backup and Restore

Windows Backup and Restore does not handle hardware I/O errors in an elegant manner. It displays a cryptic error message and aborts the process. That is a potential pitfall, because hard drives develop I/O errors over time. To my knowledge, all media are vulnerable to I/O errors. The only variance involves the degree of vulnerability.

In the future, I will use Windows Backup only for system-related files and directories. Media directories should be backed up separately using Windows Explorer. This will minimize the size of the Windows backup image while increasing the speed of restoration, but most importantly, it will minimize the potential of an I/O error stopping the restoration.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

India, Microsoft's Favorite Nation

Microsoft's darling, India, has been in the media lately. It seems the foreigners that took all the computer jobs away from Americans are displeased because the U.S. actually has laws and expects visitors to follow them. They say America is barbaric.

I don't know about that. Seems like much ado over nothing to me, except where the strip-search is concerned. I hate the idea of strip-searching anyone. My first thought is that a metal-detector would be sufficient to eliminate the possibility of firearms and most weapons, but that ignores the risk of hidden poison capsules, acids, explosive chemicals, drugs, and plastic firearms, a new danger brought on by modern technology. If everyone is being strip-searched and cavity-searched upon incarceration, then how can an exception be made, even for a big shot? One might counter than X-rays could be used instead of strip-searches. I am not sure about that. I suppose a Department of Corrections officer would counter that strip-searches are more effective at detecting contraband than X-rays, but really it depends upon the location of the contraband. Ingested contraband can elude a strip-search, but not an X-ray. Contraband hidden in clothing might elude an X-ray, but not a strip-search. This is a complicated technological problem with social and political implications. Probably the overriding factor is that strip-searches are simpler, cheaper and faster than X-rays.

A more important issue to me is the number of jobs that have been removed from the U.S. economy and put over in India, where there is talk about arresting the spouses of our diplomats and putting them in prison. I think we should tax U.S. corporations $30,000 per year for each job they outsource to India, whether it be a call center job or computer programming. That will help compensate for the damage the disloyal business executives are doing to the U.S. economy.

The Indian arrested by U.S. authorities that the Indians want to place on a pedestal as a shining example of feminine virtue, was pure and simple, someone who lied to avoid paying her maid a living wage. She should have stayed in India if she didn't consider her maid a human being worthy of any dignity. Indian politicians now want to enforce their barbaric sodomy laws against gay spouses in the U.S. diplomatic staff. I hope that they do so and that the situation continues to escalate on an exponential basis. It would be an excellent outcome for the U.S. if American businesses were directed to eliminate their investments in India and bring all of the jobs back home. We all should thank India for creating a vehicle by which public attention can be focused on all the jobs India has sucked out of the American economy.


I like the idea of volunteering, but I'm also afraid of it. My fear is that whatever work I do will consume my time and energy and leave me oblivious to money-making and other productive and social opportunities. I'm also afraid there is zero reward to doing things for free, as indeed has been my experience. I have found that if one does things without being asked, even to the point of volunteering hundreds or thousands of hours, and without expecting compensation, then the recipients, instead of being grateful, may feel rather indifferent or even demand more and more, assuming the attitude of a slave-driver rather than a beneficiary. Over time I have developed what I think is a wise and prudent reluctance to making commitments of the free variety. I can't say I never feel drawn to what may be quixotic projects and ideas from time to time, but that voice of caution has only grown more insistent as I've grown older and more experienced. I think I will have to perceive tangible benefits of some kind before I commit to anything.

Midori and Rekonq, Lightweight Subtitutes for Firefox

I used to wonder why Midori and Rekonq existed. That was before Firefox crashed on me while I was composing on Blogspot. Midori for Xfce and Rekonq for KDE are excellent browsers that can navigate hairy sites like Blogspot without breaking a sweat.

The most obvious missing element in Midori is the Home Page icon. Contemporary browser design suggests that home pages are falling out of fashion a bit. Mine has evolved over many years to be quite adept at saving me time. I require an icon to return to my home page at all times. In Midori, I found one can adjust settings by clicking the right-most icon resembling pen and paper. Then there is the simple matter of going to Preferences | Customizations and installing the "Toolbar Editor", which allows one to customize the toolbar in much the same way that Firefox does. I do the same thing in Firefox and Midori whenever I customize my browser.

Firefox gives short shrift to the home page. New tabs, by default, open a page with nine or more windows crammed together. The user is supposed to select one. The developers assume users want to visit pages they have recently visited. I don't know why anyone would be interested in looking at that mess. It is a very puzzling design choice. After installing Firefox, the first thing I always do is go to about:config and change the newtab page to be my home page. Thus creating a newtab is lightning-fast on my rig, and I can access the sites I really want, rather than what Firefox's primitive AI thinks I want. They may be making progress in the area of artificial intelligence, but I think during my lifetime I will know better than Firefox about which sites I want to visit.

SolydX Works For Me

After several attempts, I managed to install SolydX on one of my systems. I know now why my previous installation attempts failed. Solyd's installer didn't like my AMD/ATI kludge, an E-350 apu that uses the ATI video hardware. I do not have a good opinion of AMD/ATI due to overall poor support in Linux. I had a lot of different problems trying to install SolydX/K on the ATI system. Sometimes the installation completed all the way to the end, and then updates were downloaded, and the system was customized. Upon reboot, I restarted in grub rescue mode. Always I wound up putting Solyd aside and using something else instead. This is by no means an exclusive problem of Solyd's. Manjaro uses a strikingly similar installer and had the exact same problem. I believe Linux Mint Debian Edition has the same problem as well.

However, SolydX installed smooth as butter on my Intel-powered laptop, replacing Linux Mint 14 XFCE. As an aside, I think developers incur a certain risk by releasing a distro that becomes obsolete in a brief amount of time. At that point the user may reevaluate. I sure did. I'm not keen on the idea of reinstalling every nine months or so. Sorry, Linux Mint. You're great, you're wonderful, but I just don't want to bother with a reinstall in order to get the latest versions of my favorite applications.

In SolydX, as with all the Linux distros I've ever tried, there was no need to install any device drivers. Everything set up itself automatically. My laptop accesses wireless or ethernet Internet sources without any difficulty. Contrast this wonderful scenario with that of Windows. I was annoyed recently reading offensive forum messages in a forum stacked with Windows fan boys. They call Linux users "freetards" and claim that the only reason home users use Linux is because they're poor or cheap. Yes, the absence of cost is an important factor to me. However, Linux has a lot of other advantages, and to pretend that it doesn't is not very fair. Windows is good in some ways, such as software availability, but Linux can do a lot, including things that Windows can't do, and Linux is designed with security in mind, and continues to become more user-friendly as time goes on.

I've been pleased with how nice everything is in SolydX. It seems to have the advantages of Linux Mint, such as custom Thunar actions defined from the get-go, without the disadvantages, such as planned obsolescence and outdated software. I like the install-once and forget about it plan. I was pleased to see SolydX pull the latest Wesnoth and Digikam from its filtered Debian Testing repository. While SolydX pulls Digikam 3.5, the latest stable, Linux Mint 14 was only offering Digikam 3.3. I would recommend SolydX to anyone with Intel hardware, which is all I ever buy anymore.

Want to try Solyd (Xfce or Kde), a modern Linux distro? Visit the SolydXK web site.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thanks for the Belly-Laugh

On November 30th, 2013, someone wrote a message on Usenet to express their opinion on cheating in Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

"This is pathetic. If you're going to save scum, don't play."
It is amusing to imagine how the world would be ordered if a nerd-tyrant seized control of all living beings. I suppose I would be denied forever the privilege of playing Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup the very moment I attempted to run a script file that preserved my save files from deletion by the game. My punishment would be life without Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. Somehow I'd manage. I suppose I'd play chess more often or perhaps Wesnoth or Lexulous.

The world has no lack of nerd-tyrants revealing how things would be ordered under their regime. I may be a bit of a nerd myself, but I flatter myself on being more democratic. I don't care so much how others order their affairs, as long as their behavior doesn't harm others. The idea of someone cheating on a game in the privacy of their own home does not send me into a lather nor cause frothing at the mouth.

Over on Craigslist, I posted a message in support of my favorite computer program, and people promptly wrote in to speculate on my sex life. They assessed my mental capacity as being subnormal, and then said that actually I must be a spammer, because the definition of "spammer" apparently has been expanded to include anyone that disagrees with one's viewpoint.

I stay away from online arenas that have such examples of incivility. They can be amusing, it is true, but the problem is that sometimes I am not in the mood to laugh. Sometimes I find myself tempted to respond in like manner, which is a regression to a more primitive state of mind, a juvenile state. I prefer to surround myself with examples of behavior I would like to emulate, rather than behavior I should never want to emulate. I find that I learn from example and that I profit from observing good examples. I like being around good people.

I think it would be dangerous to be a police officer. The danger from physical violence perhaps is not quite as great as the danger from spiritual violence. That is to say, having to deal with evil-doers for a long time offers many temptations and many bad examples, so that a person would require extraordinary resilience to avoid regressing, to avoid turning from good to evil.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

All Linux Distros Have Value

I find merit in all Linux distros. Even if I do not use a distro, still there are often tips and tricks somewhere in that distro's forums or online documentation that may prove useful to me. For example, I often refer to the Arch Linux wiki, because their documentation, in my opinion, is the best in the Linux world. I don't know what kind of geniuses are writing on there, but they know what they are talking about.

Even so, I would like to get all the developers together working on one distro. One ring to rule them all, you see, and one ring to bind them. All this effort diffused into a hundred different directions is counter-productive. As the ants know, there is great virtue in teamwork. Learn to like one another, to share the glory, to cooperate rather than compete. Perhaps the same could be said to the nations of the world.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Fake Sign Language Interpreter?

I was amused by the fake sign language interpreter at the ceremony honoring Nelson Mandela. It seems to indicate the level of competence in the executive branch of South Africa's government. I am of the opinion that many governments around the world are run by nincompoops. Why is it so difficult to run a competent government? Perhaps because those who obtain power know all about power, but do not know or care very much about anything else. I think hiring a fake sign language interpreter reveals a pervasive culture of corruption and incompetence in Zuma's administration. They are not capable of getting things done in a correct manner. They are buffoons, fodder for comedy. If one invests all available energy and intellect on politics, then there is nothing left over to make sure the trains run on time. I am reminded of the situation with Obama, who seems to spend all his time on politics and on foreign wars instead of making sure his web site runs on time.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Does the U.N. stand for "Uninformed Nincompoops"?

'The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) warned that [Uruguay's legalization of marijuana] would endanger young people and 'contribute to the earlier onset of addiction'."

That U.N. body does not understand the meaning of the word "addiction". Perhaps they should learn the meaning of words before using them. But that would be out of character. Since when do human beings learn the proper ways of using something before abusing it? The club, fire, the crossbow, and the gun are all examples of technologies that humans have developed and then misused for evil ends. Language is a form of technology, and the same things are done with all technologies. The motive is power over others and the incessant desire to control what others think and do.

I wonder how many in the U.N. are "addicted" to drinking tea? What if the governments of the world decide, based upon nothing, that tea is bad? Perhaps the tea-drinkers need to be placed in prison in order to learn not to drink tea. This is the same rationale that has been used to persecute cannabis consumers around the world. Prohibition of cannabis has no rhyme or reason.

INCB seems excessively concerned over a substance less harmful than alcohol, aspirin or coffee. Information about cannabis is widely available, and cannabis has been researched for longer than most pharmaceutical drugs in use today. The only possible conclusions to draw from the INCB's statement is that they are either lying for some hidden purpose or else ignorant. I doubt very much they are ignorant. I wonder, therefore, why they are lying? Do they expect people to believe their lies, and if so, who are these people, and why do they not educate themselves regarding the facts?

Uruguay's new law shows enlightenment and intelligence. It is the rest of the world that is barbaric and ignorant. The world is enthralled with the use of force. People will never be addicted to marijuana. There is nothing to worry about there. The very idea of addiction to marijuana is ludicrous. People will become addicted to violence. This is the real addiction. It is the tool of those who seek power over others.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Exceptional Soul

Given the choice between recanting and death, Socrates chose death. Even after Socrates was condemned to die, many days later, his wealthy friends offered him the option of fleeing and being supported for the rest of his life in a foreign city. They begged him to do so with tears streaming from their eyes. He rejected their offer and chose death because he believed it was the right thing to do.

Socrates believed in righteousness.

It seems that others, given a similar option, take the opposite tact. Clinging even to the last few days that might remain in the feeble human form, such a soul abases itself, kneeling and grasping the tyrant's foot, begging for mercy and forgiveness, recanting all that was once held to be true and good.

Men in the style of Socrates are rare, while the other sort are common, yet it is Socrates we remember. Socrates was the exceptional soul.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Xscreensaver Config for GLPhotoShow Slideshow

"Slideshow" can mean one of two things, the business version where one is presenting images to others, and the casual version, where one wants to view selections from an art collection. I use the latter. The best casual slideshow for Linux seems to be xscreensaver's GLPhotoShow hack, once it is configured properly, and so I use xscreensaver. Xubuntu plans to scrap xscreensaver in favor of something else in version 14.04 LTS. I will disable whatever they come up with and replace it with xscreensaver. Replacing xscreensaver seems to be common among desktops and distros. I don't know why. Developers could instead try to patch the tried and true. Xscreensaver's developer invites them to do so on his web site. Other screensavers seem to have a lot of problems, especially with the slideshow. But that is their problem, not mine, because whenever I install a Linux distro, the first thing I do is disable their problem, and install xscreensaver. So all of the work that Xubuntu plans  to do reinventing the wheel will not bother me in the slightest--but if it does, then I will abandon Xubuntu.

This config file for xscreensaver is the dope. It is the result of much experimentation and solves a couple of problems. Place it in /home as .xscreensaver to have GLPhotoShow behave as the fully-featured, no-nonsense, intelligent slideshow it was meant to be.

# XScreenSaver Preferences File
# Written by xscreensaver-demo 5.15 for igor on Tue Sep 20 11:21:31 2013.
# http://www.jwz.org/xscreensaver/
# igor's version. http//techlorebyigor.blogspot.com/

timeout: 0:30:00
cycle: 0:10:00
lock: False
lockTimeout: 0:00:00
passwdTimeout: 0:00:30
visualID: default
installColormap: True
verbose: False
timestamp: False
splash: False
splashDuration: 0:00:05
demoCommand: xscreensaver-demo
prefsCommand: xscreensaver-demo -prefs
nice: 20
memoryLimit: 0
fade: False
unfade: False
fadeSeconds: 0:00:01
fadeTicks: 10
captureStderr: False
font: *-medium-r-*-140-*-m-*
dpmsEnabled: False
dpmsQuickOff: False
dpmsStandby: 2:00:00
dpmsSuspend: 2:00:00
dpmsOff: 4:00:00
grabDesktopImages: False
grabVideoFrames: False
chooseRandomImages: True
imageDirectory: /home/yourname/Pictures

mode: one
selected: 142

textMode: none
textLiteral: XScreenSaver
textProgram: none
textURL: none

programs: \
- GL: glslideshow -root -delay 100000 -duration \
50 -zoom 100 -pan 1 -fade 1 \n\

pointerPollTime: 0:00:05
pointerHysteresis: 200
initialDelay: 0:00:00
procInterrupts: True
xinputExtensionDev: False
overlayStderr: False


I like to use XFCE as a desktop environment, and Thunar is the file manager in XFCE. One of the nicest things about Thunar that sets it above many other file managers is that one can easily configure complicated custom actions. I would like to see such a feature in KDE's Dolphin.

Configure a custom action in Thunar. Have it appear only for directories and audio files. The action should be "Play Music in VLC & Run Slideshow". The command is /bin/vlcs.sh %F. Executable permission may need to be set for that file. The contents of vlcs.sh are:

vlc "$@" & sleep 8 && xscreensaver-command -activate

For movie files, the following custom action should be used:

vlc --play-and-stop %F

The configuration of VLC itself is complicated and highly dependent upon the system's resources. I always like to configure from scratch, in order to optimize the configuration for the particular hardware in use.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Good Politicians

A good politician is one that can see when something isn't working and knocks it off. There are some good politicians. It's a mistake to paint them all with one brush.

Intellectual honesty is refreshing. One of my favorite quotes from the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13:12, "For now we see through a glass, darkly..." It is difficult to find the right path at every juncture. Sometimes one chooses the wrong path. I like someone who can look at a situation and not only realize they were mistaken, but admit it and change their position to reflect their new understanding. This is called "wishy-washiness" by the ignorant. There is no value in remaining on a sinking ship. In our time, we have seen a number of politicians come around on at least two issues, marijuana and gay marriage. That represents progress, albeit a slow pace of progress, when one considers how much time and effort for reform has been invested and for how many decades. In both cases, the laws, going back many generations into the past, have been absolutely bananas and haywire. They have not been working in the optimal manner. They were not based either upon reason or upon compassion. They were based upon prejudice and outdated and disproved notions. The laws were wrong and served evil, rather than good. In some states of the U.S., the politicians still cling to the old, wrong ways.

The reason people want laws and obey laws without even being monitored or forced to do so is that they believe law to be a good thing. When contradictions are observed, then respect for the law sensibly decreases. That is why it is important to correct inequities in the law. Even a minor inequity is cause for concern. But when the law reaches deep into people's personal lives, then an urgency is assigned to the problem.

Laws must be crafted with great care. Laws can do great harm that is often unforeseen and unintended. Sometimes the harm is not appreciated until many years in the future when new information has come to light or the situation has changed. Change is the one constant. Everything changes. People, places, nations, culture, society, and even religion and our understanding of existence itself. There is no point in resisting change. To resist change is impossible, because our bodies are changing on their way to the grave. Instead, one flows with change, taking the good along with the bad.

Mismanagement Extends to Schools

I'm not surprised to read that our nation's mismanagement extends to the school system. Billions of dollars were tossed into the fire, as usual. Our politicians passed laws to throw a battery of tests on students that are already over-tested. Billions were wasted, or rather diverted into the pockets of those slick businessmen that cozied up to politicians and sold them on tests and fancy gadgets that don't help. Perhaps it is for the best. We are a nation of sweepers, short-order cooks and toilet-cleaners, so there is really no need to learn anything other than how to scrub, mop, sweep, clean and prepare simple meals.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Futility of Lies

Truth is the best guide and the surest path to wisdom. Believing in things that are not so is a step into madness and error. If truth is on one's side, then one has already won. There is no contest. There is no need to prove anything to anyone. The other side has already lost. Truth prevails. Some think that there is a contest. They place their trust in contests. They are impressed by power.

If everyone who perceives the truth is condemned, and only those who believe in the lie are left, then the truth is still true, and the lie is still a lie. It is not possible to make something that is true, not true. If two multiplied by three is six, then the answer of six prevails, now, in the past, and for all time, no matter what anyone says or does about it. That is the charm of the truth. Truth is immune to interference from human beings. It cannot be destroyed or diminished. It is immutable and permanent in a world of impermanence and death.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Closed Forums

I've noticed an increasing trend of closed forums on the Internet. Some forum admins don't even know their forums are closed. Their registration is broken or inept. Kubuntu's forum is a case in point. I tried eight times to register for that forum. It's like trying to break into Fort Knox. Linuxgames is another web site that one cannot register for.

I do not require registration to post comments on my blog. I even allow anonymous comments. All I require is the solution to a simple CAPTCHA, because that's what Blogger offers me in terms of anti-spam tools. Yes, I still get a spam comment maybe once a month. I delete it. Problem solved. Deleting a spam comment takes maybe five seconds of my time. I don't force my users to squint their eyes at a graphical image of blurred, semi-legible words or numbers. I don't care who they are or what their email address is.

I have some advice for forum admins that are wondering why few people post messages on their forums. The problem is you. You raise the hurdle too high, and most people just aren't going to bother. They will go somewhere else. I do not know why someone would go to the trouble of maintaining a forum and then set a big barrier in place to prevent people from using it. That wastes everybody's time.

When I was a forum admin, and I was one for many years and in many different places, I developed elegant means of dealing with spammers. The most effective method is a blacklist. Mine seems to bounce the majority of spambots now in existence. I regularly add new IP ranges when I notice some bots slipping past my defenses. Traps are helpful too. Captcha works, but I am not a big fan of Captcha, because all too often, forum admins choose an impossible Captcha that humans have difficulty solving. I have grown to hate the complicated versions of Captcha, the ones that use a combination of an image and text. There are better, simpler methods available, such as requiring the solution to a simple mathematical problem, such as, "What is fifteen divided by three plus four, written in numeric form?" The answer is 9, but it is an answer that very few spambots are prepared to offer at this time, and if any ever do, then additional wrinkles could easily be added.

The reality is that your fancy-pantsy semi-legible or illegible Captcha isn't going to stop a determined spammer, who can and does hire humans to complete registration. Outfits like E-lance offer cheap labor--online labor--all over the world for hire for often unethical endeavors.

Retain Backups of Previous Versions

This morning while Dungeon Crawling, I picked up a potion of strong poison and did an (I)nventory check on its description. The literary quote chosen was "Poison is a harsh word. I prefer 'potion of shut the hell up.'"

Hm. Orc humor. This is not the sort of style I've seen in Dungeon Crawl before and could be a harbinger. But perhaps the elves will prevail after all.
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions