Wednesday, April 30, 2014

A Safe Place

Safe places are a pleasant refuge for the mind, remembered locations or people that have a calming influence. On those occasional nights when I have trouble sleeping, sometimes I remember lunch at a dead friend's house. She and I had been friends a long time, but were not intimate friends, although we could discuss many topics, because she was well-educated and a real lady of the world. She was a Republican, and I have noticed that I do tend to get along really well with some Republicans, which leads me to conclude that politics are not very important in regard to friendships, not nearly as important as personality, style and taste. People of compatible personalities get along well whatever their politics.

We could hang out together at lunch time and just be. Sometimes we went for a walk, and other times we would just eat and then read the paper. I never watched television, although she kept it on all the time, I think because it filled her otherwise quiet house with the noise of other humans. Sometimes I discussed things with her, such as how my studies progressed, my job prospects, medicine and science, and occasionally politics. She was anti-war, for gay rights and for legalization of marijuana. I think she was Republican mainly for tribal reasons or possibly through inertia, because she had been Republican for so long and did not feel like going to the trouble of changing. The Republican party has changed a lot since back in the day. She expressed disapproval of the young upstarts, but identified with the old guard of the party.

She let her boundaries be known, and it was easy for me to respect those boundaries. Is it flirting to set one's dinner plate on the adjoining side of a table next to a friend, instead of setting one's dinner plate ten feet away at the opposite end of a table? A rare time she scolded me was when I did so. She said she did not want me to sit so close. I thought it was a good distance for talking, but I am used to smaller dinner tables, where everybody gathers around. I did like her, and the feeling was strong, even related to love, but I don't think it necessarily translates into anything of a physical nature. Maybe she saw things I did not see. At any rate, once I demonstrated strict observance of such boundaries as she chose to impose, the obstacle was removed. There was no tension of a sexual nature, the kind that poisons relationships between people. I admired her style and her way of looking at things, and I think my good manners is what she liked most about me.

I watched and listened carefully, because she would sometimes indicate things in a subtle manner, very indirect, and I had to be on my toes to know her feelings and predict her thoughts, but I became better with practice. I liked the challenge of that, and her refinement and sophistication endeared me to her. I could talk to her about things. Nothing that was a problem to other people was a problem to her. She interpreted the world on her own terms.
She was just always nice, welcoming, friendly, thoughtful, and in a word, safe. I had many lunches at her house, just her and me together, and it was very pleasant. She enjoyed my company as well. I wish I had stayed in contact after school ended, but the idea that she would want to stay in contact seemed presumptuous.  She did not give sufficient encouragement to maintain and nourish the friendship. She probably had similar concerns.

Death has only made her safer, because the memories are impervious to change. So it is to her that my thoughts turn some nights. She was concealing, even then, I believe, the illness that just two years later took her life. I was then studying biology in college. A great irony is that I discussed cancer with her, expressing my amazement at how it uses the cells of the body against the body. I remember she had a poker face, as she often did, devoid of strong expression, but that she searched my eyes. She knew, and she was correct that I would have summoned help, had I known. I would not have let the secret lie untold, but would have contacted her family, because everyone thinks that it is the right thing to do, and I am no exception. Perhaps she had other plans. Perhaps she had an opinion that she knew was unpopular. I do wish I had been intuitive enough to perceive what was then concealed. I would have liked to discuss her decision with her.

Firefox Wants to be Like Chrome

I was using Firefox because it did not look like Chrome.

With version 29, it is plain that Firefox wants to look just like Chrome. Fine. What's the advantage in using Firefox, again?

I think Mozilla has lost its way. If they would develop some real features for Firefox, it might regain market share. Instead, they just continue to make unfortunate design blunders that will drive existing users away from Firefox.

Cluelessness is evident here. Chrome will always be the best Chrome. If you want to become just like Chrome, guess what, users will choose the real Chrome.

I've made a decision.

Whenever I install a new system for my users, I'm going to install Chrome, whether the system is Windows or Linux. No need to mess around with Firefox anymore, because Firefox is just a Chrome wannabe, without the good Flash support.

It puzzles me why a big software company like Mozilla would go out of its way to render its flagship browser ugly and user-unfriendly. But then again, as demonstrated by their recent choice of CEO, clearly those people do not have the best judgement when it comes to strategy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Elizabeth Warren

I watched the Daily Show with the interview with Elizabeth Warren. She was eloquent and intelligent, with a certain power of persuasion. I believe what she says about the need for financial reform. I would vote for her if she ran for President.

I think it is likely that the next President will be female. It is time, and I think it is the right thing to do. It would give a boost to women. Either Warren or Clinton would make a good candidate for the Democrats.

Speak Softly

For me, anger is an artifact of youth. I was a spirit of fire. As well as being enthusiastic and zealous in love and friendship, I was quick to wrath and slow to cool. In fire, I saw kinship. I am not sure, but I think this was because I encountered so many other spirits of fire in school, in my neighborhood and in my own family. Of course my thirsty young mind drank deeply of their knowledge, ideas and opinions, absorbing their poisons like a plant growing in polluted water, and so I practiced what I learned.

One of the lessons I've learned with advanced age and from the influence of my good friends is to speak softly. Anger still occurs to me as a potential method of handling grievances and disputes, but I feel it is counter-productive, not necessarily to those I'm angry at, but to myself. My heart hates anger and loves to love. I like to love and hate to hate. I don't like getting angry and don't feel that there is much in the world worth getting angry about. Perhaps it is worth getting angry about something that threatens the well-being of a loved one, but such occasions are few. Most disputes I like to handle with a soft touch nowadays. I think of this as getting in touch with the deeper self, the true self, my full potential.

I find that understanding and empathy, which I am lucky to be endowed with, score points with people and gain me more in friends and allies than would anger. I have powers of negotiation that continue to astonish me in their achieved results. Speaking softly with kindness and understanding in one's eyes can influence others and can even change hearts and minds. Anger, by comparison, is a crude instrument, useful only for a limited set of circumstances.

Now the men I knew back in the day scorned empathy and understanding and thought such things were feminine and weak. They thought anger was being a man and could not divorce the idea of manliness from violence, vengeance and wrath. A man must avenge every slight to protect his honor. What a weak notion this honor is, then, if it is so fragile. I think now that those men were weak, because they were not willing to try alternative, effective strategies at getting what they want. They were close-minded, petty, and stupid like animals. Anger got them trouble, that is what anger got them. Some slights are not slights, others can be ignored, and still others can be handled with subtlety, in an indirect fashion.

So now I am no more a spirit of fire but one of air, and I aim to be as light as air.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Opacity Bests Candor

Society has for a long time favored opacity over candor, probably to my detriment. I'm expressive and like to share my opinions, for better and sometimes for worse.

Sometimes when people don't agree with you, instead of debating, they look for angles where they can hurt you. They are also less likely to give the benefit of the doubt. I remember an old supervisor that was a conservative Christian. One day a book of hers went missing. I knew she thought I stole it, because the accusation was in her stare and in her entire body language. But in truth I never did steal anything of hers. I was not even aware of that book. It was just another case where prejudice let her to assume that, because I was not a married heterosexual, I must therefore be a thief as well, among other vices. Only as the years went by did she gradually come to accept that I had few vices. I do have a weakness for candy, as she discovered. I think she turned around and accepted that I was a moral being. But one never knows. That is only a hunch.

The media raked gays over the coals for criticizing Mozilla's choice of CEO, due to his donation to a cause that fights against marriage rights for gays. This was viewed as "hindering freedom of speech" and "undemocratic" and even "not liberal." Sources from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times defended the guy who doesn't want me to be married.

I don't know why. I guess because they think my marriage isn't important. They would care if their marriages were involved, I'm sure.

The media is playing a different tune today regarding an owner of an NBA team whose ex-girlfriend is shopping around a recording she made of a private phone call. Some girlfriend. I think this illustrates the danger of older people pursuing younger lovers. It's a bad idea, about ninety-nine times out of a hundred. There may be exceptions, but not that many, I think.
In his private conversation, he expressed racist views. And yes, racism is bad.
I think that the difference in the media's reaction between this case and the one involving gays is very telling. On the one hand, a guy wants to interfere in the private lives of gays, and donates $1,000 to that end, as a matter of public record. On the other hand, a guy expresses his racism to his girlfriend in what he thought was a private conversation, and he should be forced to sell his team because of that. This is crazy.

I probably wouldn't want to know Sterling's opinions on gays. I would imagine they are just as negative as his opinions on blacks. The manner in which his views became public seems underhanded. If everyone's thoughts became known, I think no one could ever get along, because offensive thoughts occur to everyone at some time or another.

People need to be very careful what they say over the telephone nowadays. I bet the only reason Sterling was ensnared is because he's a clueless old man who hasn't updated his knowledge of technology, let alone his understanding of culture. He's still living in the 1950's. My preference would be to let him be unless he really does something, like donate money to a racist organization or say something on the record.

I have known racist old folks in my day. They are not going to learn a lesson or improve or change. I don't think there is value to be gained in digging them out of the woodwork and trying to punish them or make an example out of them. They may even win sympathy based upon poor health and poor mental status. Sterling was stupid but ultimately, his private chat only harmed his own interests, not those of anyone else.

TIME Magazine Kisses the Koch Brothers' Behinds

The latest issue of TIME (May 5th/12th, 2014) includes a puff piece praising the Koch brothers as "patriots" who apparently crap gold bricks and wear halos twenty-four hours a day while flying around the country solving crime. That's the issue that motivated me to call up and cancel my subscription.

I've always hated TIME, and I don't know why it started showing up in my mailbox again, but I do plan to call in and cancel whatever subscription someone gave me. If it is free, I still want to cancel, because I do want their subscriber base to be reduced by one.

TIME offers right-wing propaganda, advertising disguised as news, and pure poppycock. It is pure garbage and never spends more than a few moments in my possession before winding up in the proper receptacle.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Justice: Hire More Geeks

+1 to the American justice system for being pretty fair, although biased toward the rich like everything else.

-1 to the American justice system for being slow as molasses and inefficient.

I drove a hundred miles and spent six hours in court today just to get a chance to present documentation that proved that I was innocent of a misdemeanor charge, as indeed I was. By twiddling my thumbs for six hours, I saved about $130. Was it worth my time? Yes, based upon my current income. Could I have improved the efficiency of the courtroom? Yes, by thinking about their problem of chronic inefficiency for a single day, I could have made changes that would have increased their processing speed 500 - 1000% at little or no cost. I saw a lot of court employees, about ten as a matter of fact, standing around doing little or nothing but looking bored and counting the minutes to quitting time. Those cannot be happy employees, because time slows down when one has nothing to do. Employees generally prefer to be doing something productive with their time, or at least that is my general impression. They could have been busy gathering information from people. Simple communication with defendants would reduce waiting time dramatically and allow the court employees to go home earlier. I do not know why I had to appear in court to begin with. I could have faxed or emailed my documentation to court employees and saved myself a trip, if they had offered that option. But the court system has remained about fifty years behind the times for no reason other than mere incompetence on the part of the people running the system. This has to be the fault of the Republicans, who are always cutting budgets and never willing to invest a penny in government. Since poor people are the main ones to wind up in the court system, the Republicans let the court system rot from neglect, because they hate the poor.

The judge played a video with a speech by another judge that said there would be no negotiation of fines, which means no mercy for the poor, many of whom paid fines of over $400 for such offences as "improperly equipped vehicle," whatever that means.

About two hours after I took my seat, a guy dressed in an expensive suit walked into court. He looked like either a lawyer or a politician. I sat on the front row and watched him carefully. He breezed past the clerks and court officers and talked with the solicitor without waiting his turn. It was obvious he was connected. The judge heard him next and began speaking in a very soft tone, but I heard enough. "I'm sorry to meet you under these circumstances," the judge said, before shaking hands with the defendant. He pled guilty to the same offence I waited six hours to prove myself innocent of. Instead of paying $130 like everybody else, he paid half that amount. Then he said bye-bye to the judge and walked out. No wait or worry for Mr. Expensive Suit. Everybody else, that is, those who have to work for a living, had to sacrifice the mandatory 6 to 9 hours of time, whether guilty or innocent, and pay the full fine if guilty.

Weed and Heart Health

Recent media reports link marijuana use with cardiovascular disturbances. NORML exposed this media brouhaha for what it was, much ado over nothing. The media will go out of its way to print anything to make marijuana look bad. It reminds me of the day when the newspapers printed lies against gays. It is because of ignorance and the presence of an agenda among the media owners.

However, I have found that cannabis does increase heartbeat. The same holds true for coffee or any substance with caffeine. Too much can cause accelerated heartbeat and other problems. Too much marijuana, or rather too much of the active ingredient, THC, can have a similar effect. Moderation in all things is key. Some people, especially those with addictive personalities, have trouble moderating their intake of substances. They suppose that if a little bit is good, then a lot is going to be great, but that is not necessarily the case.

I secretly dreaded the mainstreaming of marijuana, because I felt that there would be reports of addictive people overindulging in marijuana, as so many other substances are overindulged in. There are countless cases of people drinking themselves to death, overdosing on pills, and the list goes on, and as marijuana increasingly becomes legal and prescribed medicine, there will be cases of people misusing that substance as well. It seems everything under the Sun, some humans find a way to misuse, and then there are people who want to pass a law to ensure they don't misuse, and then some people break that law, and a whole cycle of non-productive nonsense and craziness ensues.

No substance is without potential and theoretical danger. Too much of anything tends to be harmful. I am a bit suspicious of the media's motives in pointing out rather obvious "pitfalls" in marijuana. If one sits on a bale of marijuana and lights it up, then one will burn to death. If one were force-fed a kilogram of dry marijuana, one would suffocate. If one smoked reefers nonstop for twenty-four hours, probably ill effects would arise there as well. These things are rather obvious. There is an expectation in our society that an adult will exercise a certain amount of common sense and not engage in foolish, ill-advised actions.

If one is unfamiliar with a substance, then it is a good idea to expose oneself to it gradually in small amounts. One should be aware of potential side effects and learn methods of countering them. By the same token, doctors prescribe small amounts of opiates to new patients, only ramping up after the patient grows accustomed to the drug. Certainly no one maintains that marijuana is worse for heart function than opiates, which can stop a beating heart! Indeed, one popular method of suicide is to overdose on opiates. Marijuana is scorned by suicides, because it has no ability to kill.

Where marijuana is concerned, the occasional "bad trip" can be countered by eating. I think the increase in appetite is the body's way of countering the influence of marijuana, and the more one eats, the less "high" one feels. Drinking water also helps. Some bad trips can simply be slept off. I have had many bad trips in my day, usually of the paranoid variety, because I am the type of person who analyzes, which is to say I'm a worrier, which made me a rather good engineer, because I anticipate problems rather than waiting for them to pop up. Marijuana offers a journey into the shadow world of the spirit. Bad trips are not without merit. Sometimes a bad trip accompanies an insight, a moral lesson that otherwise may not be received. Sometimes I view an unpleasant experience as divine direction to cease use, to go on a vacation from marijuana for a period. I am a strong believer in periods of abstinence and clarity. I like to emerge and reattach to the material world and feel its intensity all anew.

Doctors Have It Rough

I read today that the Afghan security guard who killed three American doctors went into surgery at the same facility after the shoot-out. I imagine the dead doctors' colleagues were the ones who fixed him up. What a rough job that must be, psychologically. On the one hand, it is only human nature to want to strangle the guy that killed your friends (or even coworkers/acquaintances). On the other hand, doctors swear the Hippocratic Oath and must treat good and bad alike.

I really cannot relate with the Taliban. They seem determined to project an image of absolute evil. Targeting doctors is weak, barbaric, and the list of negative adjectives goes on without end. The last person that should ever be targeted in any conflict is medical staff. They are the caregivers to humankind.

If the Taliban had the sense God gave a goose, they'd buckle down and try to rebuild their country instead of fighting a pointless war trying to turn back the clock to the Middle Ages.

On the other hand, it may be that just enough Afghans are so foolish they actually support the Taliban and that the Taliban will one day return to power. That may be the case. Afghanistan may be the designated septic tank of the world where all the bad things happen. But should we be pouring a lot of money into that place? No. Money down the drain.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Choice of Political Parties for Gays

Yes, Republicans, it would be nice as a gay person to have a choice of political party. For my whole life, I've felt like I did not have a choice. I had to vote Democrat, because Republicans were always against the gays and said a lot of ignorant nonsense. Just look up Jesse Helms if you want to see what gays of my generation encountered from the Republican party. What hateful things that man said about things he did not understand!

If Republicans change and become inclusive of gay people, I will continue voting Democrat, because I'm a liberal anyway. But that is not the case with all gays, so the Republicans stand to pick up some support here and there. Perhaps some gays won't bother going to the polls if both parties are gay-friendly. I would estimate about one in five gays would vote Republican if they felt like they weren't voting against their own interests. Gays tend to be more liberal due to our minority, outsider status, or maybe we just have found friendlier folks among the liberals. I relate more to liberal positions, because they seem based more upon reason and compassion, two values that I hold dear to my heart. Reason leads to compassion, because compassion has many benefits, some obvious and some subtle.

A Planned Departure

An elderly man's meticulously planned suicide almost went OK, but the one area where he erred was in using a substance that alarmed the first responders and his neighbors. I am not really familiar with substances like potassium cyanide, but it may be that there was concern over the fumes. Of course, using poison is better than using a firearm, the typical choice for men, because after a bullet exits a gun, there's no telling where it might ricochet, and the mess is unpleasant, not something anyone should be forced to clean up. Personally, I think the man made a creative political statement as his last act. It was creative in the sense he took precautions not to harm anyone and did not harm anyone besides himself. He must have had a flair for the dramatic. It is a very unusual case.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Former Justice Stevens

Former Supreme Court Justice Stevens, now 94, had a good interview with PBS recently. I agree with his proposals, at least to the extent he described them.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happiness is a New Version of Linux OS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

04/18/2014 Update:

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Marijuana Brain Abnormalities

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Unconscious Gun Owners

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 14, 2014

I Stopped Breathing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Politicians Just Don't Get Technology

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

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

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


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

Friday, April 11, 2014

I Am Not a Free Teacher

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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Boston Bomber

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

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

Monday, April 7, 2014

Listen to Other People

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

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

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Manual Labor, Family

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, April 5, 2014

I Like Google News

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

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

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

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

Putin and Bush

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Mozilla CEO's Resignation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Chocolate Vs. Marijuana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Firefox and Eich, the Anti-Gay CEO

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

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

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

April 2nd, 2014 Update:

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

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

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


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