Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Inevitable

I think most people operate under the assumption they're immortal, that is, they put the inevitable out of their thoughts. What's scary is thinking about the inevitable--not after, but during the passing. I suppose much of the physical process is automatic and uninteresting, except for the pain of course, but the awareness of the finality of everything, of never having another chance to right wrongs or accomplish good work must be the worst part.

Dismissing the fairy tale of Heaven gives Death fangs. One understands that the end is the end. Nothing awaits. One ceases to be. Material possessions are parceled out to survivors. Much gets thrown into the garbage. Choice bits wind up in antique stores. One is soon forgotten, just like everybody else.

Fate seems random. Some people, even no-good villains like Zimbabwe's tyrant, Mugabe, live to be eighty-odd, while others get cheated out of the average allotment of seventy-odd or eighty-odd years.

I'm not determined to drink life to the dregs, but would prefer a slightly early exit, with the emphasis on 'slightly'. I'd prefer to bow out around eighty or so, before mental deterioration overwhelms my ability to make a final decision. I fear the later stages of senility worse than any physical ailment.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, May 29, 2011

I Cheated in Trade Wars

I've been a big-time cheater all my life, at least in the wonderful world of games. I've never cheated on my taxes or on my partner, and the closest I've come to cheating my employer has been taking the odd pen home. Well, I'm not so sure my employers would actually have been opposed to taking a disposable pen home on occasion. They weren't skinflints, although the quality of the coffee in the office kitchen left a lot to be desired. I don't know why working people settle for rotgut when it comes to coffee. Good beans don't cost that much more than bad. I can get a pound of Sumatran for something like $7. Does that break the bank? I don't think so.

But I digress. I want to describe a specific episode of my cheating. It was brought to mind when I was winning an online chess game. I defeated my opponent in fourteen moves--checkmate, boom-yow! He never saw it coming. The words that came to my mind were, "Good night, sweet prince!" Those were the exact words used when finishing me off in Trade Wars about twenty years ago.

I don't know how many people remember Trade Wars. It was a text-based role-playing game of the BBS era set in a space-faring intergalactic civilization where one played as a merchant and was allotted a number of turns. The player visited planets buying ore or other goods and selling at a profit. Other traders would attack if encountered, because the goods of the vanquished were forfeited to the victor. One player in particular was a rampaging terror, wasting other traders, including me. He had a vast empire and was too powerful to eliminate, even if one were to find his hideaway.

My hacker nature got the better of me when I stumbled upon a system error that dropped me directly into DOS. I knew enough commands to load the Trade Wars Editor and give myself an enormous number of credits. Armed thus, I raised a vast army of ships so as to dominate the game. I tracked down the main player who had been lording it over every one else, killed him and took all his credits and other possessions. He would have to start over! I chuckled about that and called it quits for the day.

The next day when I logged on, I noticed that I was no longer able to load the Trade Wars Editor. When I logged into the game, I discovered I had been killed by the player I had killed the day before. He sent me a message that said, "GOOD NIGHT SWEET PRINCE!!!!!" It turns out that the System Operator had at least suspected my intrusion and had awarded my enemy even more credits than I had given myself. So, he was now invulnerable. Curse those tattle-tale system logs! I had to quit that Trade Wars Universe.

The moral of the story? There is no moral. I just like that line, "Good night, sweet prince!" It comes from Shakespeare and was spoken during a murder. Perhaps Macbeth?
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Reparations for the Drug War

One day, the U.S. is going to have to pay massive reparations for the unconstitutional and unethical drug war that has claimed the life of one former U.S. marine and countless others over the past eighty years. Our government is deep over its head in debt already from fighting pointless and counter-productive wars. The money will have to come from somewhere, so the D.E.A. may have to have its budget eliminated. It would be fascinating to see whether the D.E.A. could exist as a charity. Would anybody donate? Probably the immoral individuals that are profiting from property forfeitures would.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Moscow Gay Pride

Brave gay activists protest in Moscow, getting attacked and arrested by police. They say neo-Nazis staged a counter-protest, but there are reports the neo-Nazis were aided and abetted by police or were themselves undercover police officers.

Some of the things that were said by the anti-gays reminded me of television evangelists Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell in the early 1990s. For example, "if we let things like this (gay pride) happen in Moscow, God will burn down Moscow." How strange that people can be so ignorant as to believe such a thing in the year 2011! But then I remind myself that something like forty percent of Russians admire Stalin, who killed millions of Russians. The Russians seem as stupid as bricks. Whenever I feel disappointed in the actions of U.S. leaders and politicians, all I have to do to cheer myself up is browse what is happening in Russia, Iran, China, or North Korea, where the stupidity is quadrupled.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Friday, May 27, 2011

Walk in Silk Slippers

Some bloggers churn out pages of verbiage per day. I've done so. If a more sedate pace as followed, then blogging offers an opportunity to review and refine one's writing and thinking. Reviewing a thought or idea several days after its creation offers entirely new perspectives. Sometimes, what seemed logical instead seems exaggerated for dramatic effect. Such ideas must be rejected as being not quite the thing, imprecise. Precision is important. Casting too wide a net is a common mistake.

I also think it is well to walk in silk slippers like the ninja, not clunking boots. Express an idea without overstating the case. Avoid excessive explanation. Draw an outline only, allowing the intelligent reader to fill in the blanks. By engaging the reader's mind in the activity of reading, making it work harder, the writer provokes interest. Additional areas of the brain are being stimulated. A baseline of pleasure is initiated. The writer must maintain that interest by giving various rewards, such as new or interesting ideas. He must avoid punishing the reader by inserting obvious exaggerations that insult the reader's intelligence, leading him into forming an instant rebuttal. Once a reader starts arguing with a writer, the game is over. The text will be dismissed. Obvious truths must be avoided, as well, in order not to bore the reader. An outline only is necessary. More is verbosity. A reader might not take exception, but won't take interest either. Make the reader work.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Buying Gold in Online Games?!

I do not understand those of my fellow Westerners that use $$$real cash$$$ to buy imaginary gold pieces for their online games. The fact that last year Chinese slavers earned $2 billion off game-addicted Westerners by "farming gold" is bizarre. Just bizarre. I could think of other choice words, but I'm going to leave it at that. I'm sure whoever these customers are, they have enough problems as it is without anyone dumping on them.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Suicides in the Military

Commendable is the proposal by eleven senators to send letters of condolence to the families of servicemen who commit suicide during an armed conflict. Letters of condolence are sent to the families of other servicemen who die in war, so why not suicides? Who is prepared to judge every person who suffers a mental health breakdown due to physical, mental and environmental factors and commits suicide? Is suicide still considered a "sin?"

It is interesting that CNN characterizes the letter they signed as "bipartisan" when only a single solitary Republican joined ten Democrats in signing it. I thought "bi" implied a division into equal parts. Biweekly is once every two weeks. Ambidextrous means using both hands with ease. A bisexual is usually understood to be attracted to both genders with similar fervor. If bi- permits the greater part to outweigh the lesser tenfold, then a great many people must be considered bisexual.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Fascinating article about psychopaths in The Guardian. Perhaps it is a coincidence, but a recent case of a mother accused of murdering her daughter certainly brings to mind the subject. If found guilty, could the mother be certified as having the empathy-deficient brain profile of a psychopath?
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Drupal 7.0

Drupal 7.0's default support for images seems rather primitive and not easy to configure. I was close to uninstalling Drupal and converting to Wordpress, which I may still do. I think Drupal's intended use is for large enterprises, public forums and the like, where the average creator is held in poor esteem. Everything about Drupal is intended to limit, confine, and exclude, to prevent users from doing naughty things like, I don't know, uploading porno or bad-mouthing the boss. Drupal seems poorly suited for the purpose of a personal blog or any small operation where the content creators are known and trusted.

I spent two hours trying to figure out how to accomplish in Drupal a task that would have taken me a skinny minute in pure HTML--adding a picture to content. In WordPress or Blogger, the procedure is relatively straightforward. Not so with Drupal. There is zero out-of-the-box support for image upload and insertion. One must first tweak the configuration, a point that not obvious to the end user. Eventually, through lengthy trial and error, I discovered that in Drupal 7.0, every user must first click on Structure | Basic Page | Manage Fields, and then add a new content-type for image. Then and only then will a prompt for image insertion appear on the Edit Content page. This essential configuration step was obscure. The so-called "Help" pages suggest a great many things that accomplish nothing, like clearing out the cache or checking the file hierarchy.

Anyone coming from a pure HTML/CSS background may be disappointed with tools like Drupal that seem to add rather than reduce complexity, and remove rather than add functionality. Drupal's really an enterprise tool, acting as a nanny for techno-dummies who can't be bothered to learn anything about html or css. For wannabe bloggers, I recommend Google's Blogger for pure ease-of-use and simplicity or Wordpress for the power user who wants greater control over the end product.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I Tried Linux Mint 11

I tried Linux Mint 11 RC, but ran into install problems. After three hours of staring at fancy splash screens, incomprehensible syntax on black-background text screens, a Linux command-line prompt on a screen that truncated the first character of every line, and a variety of BSODs, reminiscent of the bad old days of early versions of MS-DOS, I threw my install CD into the trashcan, reformatted the drive to NTFS (from ext4), and made a mental note to wait another ten years before dabbling with Linux again. I don't remember any GUI OS Microsoft ever published being so difficult to install and demanding that novices ascend such a steep learning curve. I had a similar experience with MEPIS and Ubuntu a couple years ago with a different rig. My opinion then is the same as my opinion now: Linux is nothing but a big old waste of time. It never has successfully installed on any system I've ever owned, but has succeeded in wasting several hours of time leading me on with fancy splash screens that ultimately lead to a BSOD or an otherwise non-responsive system.

Definitely any version of Windows is worth any price, yes, even several hundreds of dollars next to the Linux wilderness that requires unknown hours of technical massages in order to install in the first place, with no guarantee that other common tasks, such as connecting to a network and a printer, won't be equally difficult. I don't much care that Linux is free and that the programmers don't get paid. I'd rather shell out some money and get something that works the first time. I prefer to concentrate on getting things done with the computer, not tinkering with the OS and trying to figure out mundane and uninteresting chores that Microsoft solved ten years ago.

To be fair to the programmers toiling in voluntary slavery, I downloaded and tried the stable version, Linux Mint 10, also, and it successfully installed. However, I was stuck with 800 x 600 resolution, which meant I needed a proprietary video driver. That was a sticking point--I'm not sure I found the correct one, and I had no clue how to install it in the first place. I doubled-clicked on several files in the installation package, nothing happened, and I got bored and rebooted in order to get something done in Windows.

Disaster almost struck--Windows only booted on the third try, after I had unplugged the hard drive with Linux Mint installed. That was a bit too close for comfort. I was really hoping that Linux Mint was not going to kill my Windows OS. Eventually, through online research, I discovered that my dual boot installation could only be removed via the Windows Recovery CD. Luckily, I had one on hand--actually, a multi-purpose CD created by my thoughtful brother called "Bart's P.E." With that, I was able to boot to a command line, type in "fixmbr" and thereby kill the Linux boot. Still on the "to-do" list, I need to destroy the Linux partitions. All told, I lost about three or four hours tinkering with Linux Mint. I regret that, but every once in a while I just have to try out a Linux distro to see what all the fuss is about.

I will say that Linux Mint looked awfully pretty while it was running, and the nice appearance made me really want it to work. But in no way can Linux Mint be considered a user-friendly environment. Unless one has a Linux devotee nearby, one is S.O.L.

My conclusion is that Linux is okay if there is a Linux devotee standing by, willing to do all of the things that are necessary in order to set up a Linux box. Unfortunately, I don't know anyone who uses Linux and don't feel like spending a hundred hours mastering all the requisite commands in order to perform the same tasks, or rather a great many tasks in addition to those that I perform on Windows. I'd love to try out a realistic alternative to Windows, but I don't think it's realistic to expect an end user to make all of the sacrifices that the greedy Linux God requires.

As an outsider looking in upon the Linux community, I think it suffers from the old Tower of Babel problem. That is, every adept worth his salt wants to break away from the herd and forge his own distro, whether needed or not. So there are scores of distros, each with its own set of devotees, and each tries to reinvent the wheel rather than all of them working together in harmony upon a single distro. If all the penguins focused on one distro, then they could iron out all of the usability problems and forge a product superior to Windows XP for the first time. As things stand, Windows XP is superior to any Linux distro of my knowledge, because it works the first time out of the box, and all hardware manufacturers support it, and its depth and quality of software surpasses Linux.

Another problem with Linux is that there seems to be a compulsion to compete with the latest version of Windows. Instead of implementing the latest cutting-edge technology, what Linux needs to do is focus upon working the first time and installing all the necessary drivers, so that users install the OS rather than tossing the CD into the garbage can. I am willing to bet that at least one out of every two .iso's downloaded are discarded due to difficulty installing and properly configuring the OS.

I'm not willing to rule out Linux entirely however. A day may come when I switch to Linux, especially if I can find a Linux guru in my local vicinity. The best scenario would be to buy a computer with a Linux distro pre-installed along with all of the usual apps.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Park Named After Harvey Milk

The Long Island City Council has recommended naming a park after Harvey Milk, a man I admire. He was the first gay mayor of San Francisco, assassinated by a homophobe, a failed candidate who had run against him, lost, and in a fit of vindictiveness, murdered him, shooting him point blank with a handgun like the coward he was. The assassin was arrested and convicted, but only served a paltry four years in prison, when he should have received life in prison or else the death penalty. But that was a more primitive time, an era of widespread right-wing brutality and violence that spawned a successful and victorious Liberal movement. Although he did not pay the full price of his crime, his dark deed had unexpected consequences that, perhaps, he would not have liked. It is often thus, with the violent cowards who think they can get their way with the gun. They manufacture martyrs. Indeed, I'd be happy to die if it meant the furtherance of the greater good. After all, what is life, this bag of bones and blood, next to the millions who will profit from a sacrifice, today and tomorrow? I do not think Harvey Milk would have regretted his life, even if he had foreseen the early end. To die in such a manner--noble, upright, heroic, standing for what one believes in, and killed by a coward--what could be a more beautiful death?

"Schipske, the Council's only other openly gay member, is against the naming because she believes the park should bear the name of a local gay rights advocate."

Harvey Milk's martyrdom transcends local sensibilities; I would like to ask whether the local advocate sacrificed his life for the movement. It is improper to name a physical structure after the living, because there is a possibility their name may be tarnished by a discreditable deed. Preferable is the policy of naming things after the dead, whose legacy is better assured. I'm unacquainted with the local situation, however.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Billions in Aid to Pakistan?

I was reading this article today about an exchange of gunfire between U.S. and Pakistani forces, when I came across this line, "calls are rising to cut or suspend the billions of dollars a year in aid that flow to Pakistan." Well, it's about time. Congress is due some rue from the clue canoe. Billions, really? To a country that hates our guts? Tell that to students trying to get Federal aid to go to college.

I hate to pull a Donald Trump and call our leaders fools. Let me put it this way. Our leaders make it difficult to arrive at a positive evaluation of their intellect. Is that more tactful? Certainly Donald Trump made some succinct points about our nation's foreign policy.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Religion's Utility

Religion was probably a powerful and effective coping mechanism in the days when people were dying younger and more often from violence, accidents, starvation and most of all from diseases that we now know to be caused by microorganisms. Its utility should not be underestimated. It attempts to frame the human existence within a sweeping cosmic drama, giving meaning to otherwise mundane events of everyday life.

How can "everything's random" beat intelligent design, from an aesthetic point of view? I think atheism has more potential for an imaginative person, because admitting the mystery surrounding creation, rather than having a pat answer, encourages a different hypothesis to be considered at any time.

One of my fantasies (not elevated to the status of a theology yet) is that human life is an experiment conducted by greater beings who wish to determine, through the scientific process, the answers to certain questions. True scientists, they are not content with just one specimen, but require a large number, for the purpose of statistical accuracy. In part, maybe the most important part, they want to know what is good and what is evil and why. To this end, human beings play upon the stage. We live, breed, talk, fight, and die. In the ongoing debate over this and that, sometimes one side holds sway, sometimes another.

If that system were real, then scientists would be the ones closest to God in a manner of speaking. They would be the new priests.

Another fantasy I have is that we are the creators. That is, we created the Universe and everything. Not in the past, but in the future; we are progressing towards our divinity. Those alive today are the primitive ancestors of the future gods, just as primordial slime were our ancestors. Time in this system must be viewed as a circle, rather than a straight line. I am not sure how to conceive of time. Upon achieving divinity, time no longer represents an obstacle, although the past cannot be changed.

Let me see whether I can explain this imaginary system better. In the distant future, let's assume we become god-like beings, immortal and almost omniscient (I can't even conceive of omnipotent). A problem remains. The Universe is finite, because the rate of expansion continues unchecked. Foreseeing the destruction and rebirth of the Universe, which dooms all life, even the life of an immortal, and wishing to preserve a vestige of themselves, future beings may encode some undetectable vestige within their constituent parts, as tiny as atomic particles, to our way of thinking non-living, which would endure however long it took for the universe to be reborn. Their advanced science would predict that on a small number of planets, life would evolve from organic molecules at some point in the distant future, and on an even smaller number of planets, intelligent life would develop, and through the process of evolution, some relic of themselves would reappear, maybe even a clone of themselves. This cycle of the rebirth and destruction may have occurred many times.

I've often wanted to write a good science fiction story, but my early attempts were lamentable, even embarrassing to the extent I can't even locate any backup copies. They are erased forever. Part of the reason are the rejection slips I received from publishers and the stony silence I received from others. Rejections are bad enough, but being simply ignored does not help a writer's self-esteem. The general financial outlook for writers is terrible, so my decision not to pursue writing seems pragmatic. I'm dazzled by creative superpowers like Tolkien, Anne Rice and many lesser writers who have the ability to transport a reader to a fascinating supernatural universe where anything can happen, unlimited by the laws of physics. I can't imagine how such writers get as good as they do. I am also dazzled by the writers for television shows like True Blood, Downton Abbey, Beautiful People, Peep Show and Mad Men. I think they are absolutely brilliant.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Monday, May 16, 2011

Best Picture of 2011

This is the best picture I've found all year. It expresses what's on my mind. I want the misnamed, unconstitutional, bigoted Defense of Marriage Act struck down by the courts*. I want the Republicans who support it ousted in the next election. I want those empty suits replaced by Democrats and Libertarians. That means I plan to do something this year and every year: vote.

It doesn't take much of a prognosticator to imagine that DOMA's days are numbered. But I'd rather it go the way of the Jim Crow laws sooner rather than later. Something tells me that civil unions on the federal level are three years away.

* - Guess who else is against DOMA? None other than the original sponsor, Bob Barr. He realized years ago it was a bad policy. What the world needs is more love, not more hate. There's enough hate to go around.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Donald Trump Bows Out

Setting aside his political views, Donald Trump wouldn't have made a good President because he's tacky. Of course, this is why he knew he had to run as a Republican.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Tough Review of Ubuntu

Every once in a blue moon, I dabble with the fantasy of leaving Windows XP behind and installing a flavor of Linux, such as Ubuntu. Piers Anthony wrote a criticism of Ubuntu, enough to almost persuade me that PC Linux OS might represent the best flavor for me--except that in the March, 2011 edition, he notes that PC Linux OS still will not print. I would rather not have to deal with a raft of unfamiliar technical problems if I'm not getting paid to do so. So I imagine I'll stick with Windoze through another year.

After a bit of poking around reading reviews of Linux distros, I wrote to suggest that he try Linux Mint, a refinement to Ubuntu, but its relation to Ubuntu nixed that. I tried Ubuntu myself a couple of years ago, but it never installed right on my machine--nor did Mempis for that matter. It's unfortunate, because I'd be happy to consider any decent alternative to Windoze. I think Linux in general works better on certain hardware configurations than others. If one has an unlucky configuration, Linux may represent nothing more than a big old waste o' time.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

I Saw Bruno

I saw the supposedly homophobic movie Bruno, but was not offended. GLAAD urged a gay boycott of the film. I passed it by only because I'm not crazy about the Borat guy. Eventually, a year or so after its release, I decided to watch it to see what all the fuss had been about. Yes, homophobia in all of its many permutations is on full display in the film. No, I did not think it offensive. I think the movie is actually a satire on homophobes, portraying their primitive conception of gays. Of course real gays are not like Bruno. That's obvious or should it be to anybody who isn't living in a cave. Bruno plays every homophobic chord there is, and at the end of it all, the audience is thinking, "So what?" It renders mundane and non-threatening, through repetition, what may have seemed, in an earlier time, threatening. I think it's good and watched the whole thing to the end. In fact, I think the GLAAD boycott was a clever marketing strategy to give the film street cred among the homophobes. I bet it worked in large measure to lure the other side into the audience.

But there's a more important question. Was it funny? No, I didn't laugh, but I did smile. I kept watching because I wanted to see what shocking thing would happen next. That kept me going through the entire length. The best phrase I can use to describe the film is homophobic camp. As such, it has a little something to please everybody. Viewers can read the message that they want to read into the movie, but only at the risk of getting it completely wrong. I think the movie makes its message clear at the end when Snoop Dogg says, "If you're gay, okay."
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger Pharted

I checked on my Blogger Dashboard twice today. First time, I noticed that my last blog post was devoured by Blogger's latest technical snafu. "Oh well," thought I, "it was just one of my typical rants against Republicans or foreigners. What's the loss?" Second time, I noticed the blog post was restored, but with a weird glitch. Two hexadecimal whatzits prefixed each of the two topic-labels assigned to the post, thus creating two weird new topics on the right-hand side of my blog. Another post written the same day or the day before was afflicted by the same bug.

Here's my policy. Deletion, okay. Mutation, okay in a player-character in Dungeon Crawl, but in my blog, Not Acceptable. I edited the categories and all is well now. I bet those programmers over at Google are about ready for some Zzz's right now. I know when I supported systems, a goof like that would have meant an all-nighter or two or three or four. Can't say I emerged unscathed over a period of ten years. Complicated systems that rely on other people's code sometimes do have a tendency to do unexpected things. No one is more understanding about such matters than another programmer. Of course, I have a recent backup of my blog and its template, so I'm not too concerned about a total wipe-out.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

How Do the Big Shots Make Money?

The easy way.

Doing any kind of useful work is for the poor.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Bin Laden's Porn Stash

Bin Laden whiled away the hours whacking the weasel.

Please make it straight porn.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

That'll Teach Them Doctors a Thing or Two

Republicans are at it again. This time they're censoring what doctors can say in the examining room. A $500 fine will be assessed against any doctor that asks a patient whether he has guns in the home. The N.R.A. wanted to make asking a felony.

I don't think the law will stand up in court. I think it's amusing. Just when you think you've reached the end of the Republican barrel of stupidity, they pull out the bottom to reveal a tunnel leading down into the center of the earth.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Not Original

A proverb came to me on waking this morning. "Live in such a manner that you may die with few regrets." But I am not sure it is any better than the efficient carpe diem. Also, it sounds awfully similar to other proverbs I have heard before.

I do not believe it possible to die with no regrets, as some say for dramatic effect. That's hubris, in the first place, because everybody makes mistakes, great or small, in the human existence. Surely if one has no regrets, one would not wish to die at all. That too is a regret.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Lack of Writing

One of my disappointments concerning ancient history is the lack of any written record for my closest ancestors from 3,000+ years ago. How did the people in Britain live, for instance? We can only draw general conclusions based on objects and bones that have been dug out of the ground. A great many questions arise which remain unanswered. Who were the heroes, the kings, the generals, the inventors, the priests? What were their names?

It's a pity our ancestors didn't take time out for writing in all the time they spent bludgeoning one another over the head with clubs. Have we strayed much from their ways? Not so much. There's literacy, but many prefer bludgeoning to writing. Literacy is viewed as a means to an end (a job, or more to the point, money). At the library, hordes are using computers, but few are reading any books. Funding for libraries continues to plummet. Soon, public libraries will go the way of the Tudor hospital.

Even the Roman Empire is a disappointment. At the height of their power and security, they chose to continue engaging in invasions, some extremely costly, much like our involvement in Afghanistan. The Romans showed little interest in seafaring or inventions, even though one of their inventors, the aptly named Hero, dabbled with a steam engine. Today also, the primary item on the national agenda is a costly, counter-productive war in which the country stands to gain nothing but debt. Our leaders are unconcerned with scientific research or development. All they care about is bludgeoning their enemies over the head with a club. Their evolution has not progressed beyond the ancient Celts or Romans.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Stats Mislead

More than half of all net traffic today is composed of automated bots running errands for their masters--spammers, criminals, leaches, hackers, corporations, and spies for corporations and governments. If your stats page indicates you received 1000 visitors today, divide by half, to begin with, to arrive at a slightly more accurate figure. The number of bots may be much higher. Mine is an extremely conservative estimate. The actual number may be closer to seventy percent. I'm not pulling the number out of thin air. Out of curiosity, dedication, determination, or whatever strange whim possesses me, perhaps by channeling the spirit of a watchdog, I have burned the midnight oil many a night analyzing raw server logs.

Few bots identify themselves. Today, these seem rare as unicorns, except for the major search engines. Most disguise themselves as users with a browser. Thus, few are identified by statistical engines. Nevertheless, people often quote me high numbers for their site. Do I expect anyone besides another dedicated admin to believe me? No. And few admins these days go to the trouble of browsing a raw log.

On this site, I believe eighty percent of the visitors are non-human. But that's not so bad. The robot crowd may be smarter on the whole than the humans, based upon some of the lame comments I've received over the years that indicate my readers are reacting to the first phrase, sentence or technical difficulty they encounter rather than reading my posts in their entirety. Heaven forbid that any dungeon crawl user spend more than five minutes of his precious time on solving a problem before pestering me to figure every little thing out for them. Lazybones is a worldwide epidemic. Perhaps catering to the "cheating" crowd attracts a higher proportion of the lazybones. I'll tell you what, when I was fourteen, I did not have the Internet feeding me instant solutions to every difficulty. All I had were my programming manuals, which I read cover to cover, and the computer, and I figured things out on my own, enjoyed it and took pride in it. When one programs, one creates, and the thrill of creation brings one closer to God, in a manner of speaking. Programming is more fun than any game under the Sun, period, end of story. Some users of my regen.bat can't even be troubled to insert REMark statements into the batch. Knock, knock. Anybody home in there?
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Gays More Likely to Have Cancer?

An article in Pink News says gays are more likely to have had cancer than straights.

My own experience in the gay community leads me to think there may be something to that, because the bar scene was important in the pre-Internet days. There were other factors at play encouraging gays to drink up, including feelings caused by social ostracism, such as depression, guilt, shame, confusion--all of which can be rendered into numbness by alcohol. Alcohol is a big risk factor, by itself enough to explain the higher incidence of cancer.

Conditions are improving for gays overall in our society, as noted by Obama and Hilary Clinton, and I think many problems afflicting the gay community will reduce in severity, leading to improved efficiencies, happiness and productivity overall for society in general. People think gay rights are only for gays. They are mistaken. Gay rights will be good for everyone. It means the gay teacher who is great with kids can stay in his job instead of being summarily fired and possibly replaced by a know-nothing. It means the gay couple that take care of one another, take care of their friends, pay their taxes and pay their bills on time are more likely to stay together. Society as a whole reaps the benefits.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Uptick in Heroin Use?

This article reports on an uptick in heroin use among young people in Massachusetts. That hints at an increase in the region's misery index. When young people can't find jobs, when they don't have much hope for the future, then drugs of despair, such as smack and meth, gain allure.

Injection drugs--yuck. The thought of such a thing in the year 2011, when information is widely available on the Internet, seems peculiar. Is it a sign of worse things to come? I think most people in the country don't see much reason to hope for a brighter future. When there is an unending exodus of professional jobs, when the standard of living for the middle class is eroding fast, and Republicans wage class warfare against the workers, and our tax money goes to people who hate us in the Middle East, clearly it's a no-brainer that our leaders are no-brainers.

I'm just happy to have been alive during the boom times, the good times, and what could arguably be termed the Golden Age of America, 1980 - 2000. Now that that era is over, a long, steady decline is underway.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

A Bit of Mysticism

If there is a greater power or system, and if it perceives me, and if on occasion I perceive its perceiving, then at such times I feel cherished, as though I am cradled in the arms of the goddess.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Friday, May 6, 2011

They Don't Know What Time of Day It Is

Reading the views of analysts quoted by Voice of America indicates they don't know what time of day it is. Give more money to Pakistan? More money to Afghanistan? Whose money? China's, clearly. The U.S. government is not making any money. China is financing the war. I'd say Bin Laden's extermination offers a pretext for an early exit.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I Love Teachers

Am I surprised Republicans and their propaganda organ, Fox News, declared war on teachers? No. It's just another one of the lame, counter-productive wars the Republicans wage, in this case against their own countrymen.

I love teachers. I think education and educators are the nation's top resource.

And teachers tend to like me, as well. Here's what one wrote regarding one of my presentations: "Excellent research, preparation and delivery! Nicely dressed & groomed. Nice use of scientific terms. Beautiful pamphlets. You have a talent for teaching and speaking. Get your Ph.D. & come back and teach for the university!"

I liked that so much, I posted it on the bulletin board in my study. My teacher did not have to write all of that. She could have just given me a 100 and been done with it. I think it's indicative that she cared. It's a pity that so many bankers did not care. They spent all their time devising ways to cheat their customers, clients, taxpayers, and shareholders. The current economic situation, the one that Republicans want the workers to suffer for, is the result.

I don't think teachers are overpaid. I think they are overworked. I think bankers are overpaid. Bankers have not been doing a good job. If anyone is lazy, it's the bankers.

Don't mess with the teachers, Republicans. On the other hand--do. I think that issue is going to come back to bite 'em in the next election. At least I hope it does. Seems like the Republicans get away with every type of nonsense under the sun. Voters keep signing up for more abuse.

I think the question of which party to support is simple. Democrats are on the side of the workers, that is, the 99% of the country that performs useful work. Republicans are on the side of those that want to profit at the expense of everybody else. There is overlap. There are exceptions. There are Democrats that vote like Republicans. I don't know whether there are any Republicans that vote like Democrats. The Republican Party tends to run a tight ship. But the general rule applies. That's why I vote straight-ticket Democrat. It's the only thing straight about me. In rare cases where the Democratic ticket is too similar to the Republican ticket on the issues, to the point that both appear identical, I vote Libertarian.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Monday, May 2, 2011

Bin Laden's Bin Deaden

At least one troublemaker in the world met his end last night. Hats off to the brave soldiers that slew Bin Laden. I'm willing to wager that there are hundreds of millions of people that would have pulled the trigger on Bin Laden, including yours truly. Our newly minted heroes have bragging rights for life, unless sworn to secrecy.

Questioning the legality of the assault does not interest me. If Bin Laden and cohorts were shot in their sleep, fair enough. One need only consider their admitted actions, capabilities, and intentions. They would have done worse. They did not honor the rules of war. Such a policy is not without consequences.

I'm tired of hearing about the radical Islamists. Their political and social views are medieval. Now that Bin Laden's Bin Deaden, I hope we can get the hell out of that lunatic asylum known as the Middle East in the near future and save some money for spending on these United States. The United States is where the United States should focus its attention and resources.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New York Daily News on Gay Marriage

I disagreed with a recent opinion piece on the New York Daily News on gay marriage, so I registered in order to leave a comment. Their registration process is lengthy. Twenty questions are asked. They want to know how much money I make, what kind of job I have, and my birthday. Do they really deserve all of that information? In the past, newspapers were content if a letter-writer signed his first and last name, address, city, and state (zip code optional). NY Daily News also had a lengthy checklist for newsletters--every topic under the Sun. Are people still reading emailed newsletters?

I entered a valid email address, received the registration email, clicked on the link, and attempted to log in, only to be denied with an error message: "your email address is invalid." My foot. Looks like the New York Daily News needs to focus more on debugging their computer software and less on political issues that do not concern them. Why are there so many quarrelsome troublemakers in the world that want to interfere in the lives of others? Whatever happened to "live and let live?" In the end, the troublemakers will find solutions for one another.

I gave up on registering. Communicating with fools can be a fool's errand. Sometimes silence is best. My blog is good for venting, as always, if nothing else. And in Google News, I click on that wonderful new feature, "Show Less of..." in order to reduce the number of instances of New York Daily News. Using that feature has already eliminated several other media sources, such as Fox, from the headlines for me.

Bigots that defend DOMA would change their tune in a skinny minute if their own lives were impacted. A taste of their own medicine would do them a world of good. They need to experience firsthand an intrusive law that burrows into their own personal lives and causes them a multitude of hardships. They like pointing the finger at others, but when they point that finger, three are pointing back at them.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments
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