Friday, September 30, 2011

Deep Elf Hunter: Viable?

Often I like to play race/class combo's that the developers seem to think are unwise. Case in point, Deep Elf Hunter. I've always been fascinated by Deep Elves because they're almost pure spell-casting savants. I think there may be merit to a late-bloomer, however, who can ply a bow without too much difficulty and who can wear leather armor without fumbling. Later in the game, he can pick up magic.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Iran Can Pay the U.S. Eleven Trillion

One of these days, the U.S. President, whoever he might be, will tire of fighting Iran by proxy in Iraq and Afghanistan, and will deliver a note of demand to Iran's regime. Iran will be required to pay the U.S. eleven trillion dollars, erasing our national debt.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments


This bit of female rivalry takes the cake, or rather the cat.

I'd wager she killed the cat. Someone crazy enough to catnap a cat is crazy enough to kill a cat. Left the cat in the neighbor's garden, my foot. At any rate, abandoning a house cat in the wild is akin to murder by proxy.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Why I Support the Death Penalty

I support the death penalty because of the case of a horrific crime like the one in Connecticut. I don't think it is fair to the survivors, neighbors or community at large (including the entire country and the world) to let those responsible continue to live a long life. By taking their lives, it is possible that closure can be obtained for everyone that much faster. Perhaps the practice of execution is primitive and unpleasant or whatever but it certainly does wrap the story up and put an end to at least one aspect of the suffering. I think such cases, where the guilt is known and not really in question, should be on an accelerated track, with the final resolution not taking more than a year's time.

Putting myself in the surviving victim's shoes, which I think everyone observing the case has a responsibility to do, I know that if such a wrong was done to the ones I care about, I'm not sure what my response would be, whether my response would abide by the law in every eventuality. I think it would be natural to want to kill the two scumbags by any means possible and at any cost. That is why there is a death penalty, to avoid vendetta and the subsequent trial and prosecution of one carrying out vendetta. I doubt there's a jury in the country that would punish the victim for killing the killers.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Monday, September 26, 2011

Seller Beware on Ebay

I used to sell valuable stuff ($2000+) on Ebay, back in the day, but Ebay has made a lot of changes over the years making the environment hostile for sellers. First, sellers can no longer leave negative feedback, but buyers can in every case, even if a seller cancels a transaction and attempts to refund the purchase. So, abusive buyers don't have any trail behind them.

It used to be that safer forms of payment could be used, such as a postal money order, but Ebay makes it difficult to use anything but Paypal. Paypal almost always rules against a seller in the event of any dispute. So, it seems quite a simple matter for a dishonest buyer to steal from a seller, especially a low-volume seller who does not have a legal department on staff. "I never received my item" is one possible lie, but a more cunning one is, "The item I received was not as described in the auction," which is impossible to disprove, and as noted above, Paypal always rules in favor of the buyer. So, as a seller, there is a chance that you will become a victim of theft that involves a significant amount of aggravation and humiliation added for good measure. Ebay suggests that you factor such losses into your business plan. It is like shoplifting, they say. Incidentally, if you are stolen from, you will also be charged Ebay and Paypal fees, increasing the amount of your loss.

I still sell on Ebay, but after a buyer blackmailed me over a $5 transaction, threatening to leave negative feedback unless I sent him free stuff, I opted to remove all auctions that are for items greater in value than $100. Buyers are acting in an unsavory manner, abusing the system to their advantage. Ebay doesn't care, because they still make money, no matter what happens to the seller.

The total amount of fees that Ebay charges is another matter. For me, they have been in the 16% to 18% range. Ebay also undercharges buyers on shipping costs on a pretty regular basis.

Overall, I think the usefulness of Ebay is not what it once was, and I would welcome a strong competitor. As far as I am concerned, Ebay is a good place to sell junk that would otherwise go into the garbage. I don't intend to sell anything valuable on Ebay ever again.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sooner or Later

Sooner or later the Puritans were gonna have to concede that, yes, we have genitals, and yes, we wanna use 'em, as unclean as it seems, and at whatever cost. The idea that an animal, endowed with genitals, would proceed to follow a lengthy and arbitrary list of thou-shalt-not's regarding those genitals is a bit precious.

I used to think I was in violation of the Bible, specifically Leviticus, but now I believe I'm neutral. Leviticus is a bit of a sham, really, and no one follows it anyhow, and anyone who claims to do so is probably lying.

I still wouldn't convert (or revert) on philosophical grounds. There seems something amiss with all of the major world religions. Islam may be the worst today, although centuries ago Judaism and Christianity gave it a run for its money. I haven't ruled out a Deity quite yet, but I have ruled out the three theologies, which seem like wishful thinking to me.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Michael Moore and the Case of Troy Davis

Some celebrities clamor for attention. They say outrageous things for the sole purpose of garnering the public's eye. That's a mistake.

Case in point, Michael Moore. Boycott all of Georgia because of the execution of Troy Davis? Withdraw his books from the bookstore in Little Five Points?

Am I the only one to think that a bit too much? I don't think his boycott will catch on, anyhow.

I'm not a hater of Michael Moore, either, but a fan. I like his documentaries and defend them when I can. I agree with him. But he does tend to be a bit of a drama queen, yes Sir. And by doing so he inspires the other side to call him an idiot. I admire him for his idiocy, though, because other celebrities are too cunning by far. Michael Moore has something rare. Idiot, maybe. He has a heart. No one can deny that. Even his detractors, they must concede it. He says what he feels. He doesn't parse words. There is a refreshing dose of candor in his words.

So, no, I don't support a boycott of Georgia over an execution of a convicted murderer.

As to the case of Troy Davis, I am neutral over his guilt or innocence, because I have not reviewed all of the evidence. I am ignorant, so I do not hold to an opinion. If other people, ignorant on certain issues, would at least remain neutral on them, the world would be a better place, don't you think?

I will say I'm impressed that former President Jimmy Carter supported the struggle of Troy Davis, and on that basis alone, I'd have been in favor of a commutation to a life sentence. Jimmy Carter is a good man, and if he believes something, then there may be some truth in it, certainly enough to merit further consideration.

The death penalty should be used sparingly, and when there is great public outcry, even if the outcry may be without merit, then it should be commuted to a life sentence. Supporters of the death penalty should remember that the primary purpose is not to punish, but to heal the wounds of the community; and if the death penalty creates additional wounds, then that purpose is defeated. I don't see Jimmy Carter signing his name onto the cases of every evil scumbag that walked the earth. He picked Troy Davis, so that must have meant something.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Iranian Regime Wants Us to Hate Them

Iran's leaders learned nothing from the hostage crisis of the '70s, the one that sank Carter's Presidency, with the consequence that Reagan ruled the U.S. for the next eight years.

Looking at the photo of the three American hikers, all I can think of as how thin they are, malnourished by the torturers of Iran's regime. It makes me angry and hateful toward Iran. So, the end result of Iran's gambit with three innocent American civilians is that now ordinary Americans are much more willing and eager to do harm to Iran.

Some people never learn. I mean, they never learn.

With the U.S. economy going down the tubes, and so many American unemployed, it might be easy for a populist to gain the highest office, and you know what, a country the size of Iran with Iran's natural resources could eliminate our debt in a number of ways that would be highly unpleasant for Iranians. I'm not saying that's the right thing to do, but it is a possibility, now, isn't it? Iran plays a game of Russian Roulette, but there's no winner in that game.

I can hardly restrain the bile I feel toward Iran, one of the least lovable countries in the world (I would say least lovable if not for North Korea). They are really determined to do evil in the world.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Obama Will Win Re-Election in 2012

It's not that the Republicans don't have electable candidates. They do. Not one, but three: Buddy Roemer, Ron Paul, and Jon Huntsman, in order of electability. Due to their honesty, these three gentlemen are excluded by the G.O.P. establishment, which prefers confirmed liars and sell-outs like Romney, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum, Cain and Bachman.

I saw Republican Buddy Roemer on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and I'd vote for him. He spoke the unvarnished truth for five minutes, and I seldom hear that from a politician. I like him. I don't even know his position on all the issues, but I would definitely listen to him in a debate. I'd go out of my way to listen to him. The current crop of Republican front-runners, I would never listen to, not in a million years. They are liars, evil-doers. Put an honest man on the stage, and I will listen.

This is why the Republican party cannot win the White House. They will select an obvious sell-out.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Octopodes, Continued

Best class/religion for Octopodes is Ice Elementalist worshipping NX. The defensive spells Ice Magic offers are essential, and NX's decks of Summoning are invaluable supplements to spellcasting. Eight tentacles and a beak is a good natural armory. Fight unarmed until and unless a weapon-artifact offers too many advantages to refuse. Before entering a new level, cast defensive spells. Swiftness is of great value to an Octopode.

I've been playing Octopodes quite a bit despite their extreme vulnerability. Fifty of my Octopodes lay buried in the Crawl cemetery. I think I have discovered a secret of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, one that the developers know. It's not the easy races that are the most fun. It's the difficult races, the ones that present a challenge, yet with a great reward awaiting the patient and careful player. For Octopodes, it is the ability to wear eight rings, a dream come true to many a veteran player.

I can confirm that an Octopode that acquires eight rings is a beast to be reckoned with. Mine has 48 MP due to two rings of magical power and exaggerated stats due to rings of strength and intelligence. To be honest I've lost interest in the game now that I'm successful. It's only when I'm dying all the time that I can remain interested, because then it's a puzzle that needs figuring. Now it's a solved puzzle as far as I'm concerned. Ice Elementalist, NX, extreme caution until eight rings, period, that's all there is to it.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Jon Stewart is a Genius

I don't know how many people realize that Jon Stewart is a genius. He's the best talking head on television hands down ever. He has bad days here and there, like anyone else. Maybe one in twenty shows is sub-par for him. Jon Stewart on a bad day is better than most talking heads on a good day. He's electric.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

I Pity Young Men

I pity young men, who listen to crap rap and avoid the oldies, for they will not know Dinah Washington.

If you my reader are such a young man, then I challenge you to listen to the following:

  1. Destination Moon
  2. Baby Won't You Please Come Home
  3. Do Nothin' Til You Hear From Me
  4. No Hard Feelings
  5. It's a Mean Old Man's World
  6. I Used to Love You
  7. Let Me Be the First to Know
  8. Nobody Knows the Way I Feel
  9. Don't Say Nothin' At All
  10. You've Been a Good Old Wagon
  11. Bill
  12. No One Man
  13. Me and My Gin
  14. You're Nobody Til You Love Somebody

Dinah Washington was the best jazz female vocalist of the 20th century.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Top Killer of Octopodes

Top killer of Octopodes are stairways. Going up or down, encountering a Big Baddie in an adjacent tile, and not being able to get away. Happened to me in the Orcish Mines. My fault... I should have cast Swiftness.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Some Writers

Some writers seem to fit me like hand and glove.

I can't resist Mary Renault and Gore Vidal.

Two other writers I like include Tolkien and Patrick O'Brian.

With the collected works of these four writers, I could endure the centuries, locked away in Vampire Castle. Of course, it would be nice to have a phone conference with the sole survivor, Vidal, while he lives, and if he felt the desire to interview a vampire (with apologies to Anne Rice).
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Friday, September 23, 2011

Favorite Line in Dungeon Crawl

My favorite activity in Dungeon Crawl is stabbing. The response the game offers on a successful stab is amusing. Here's one. "The helpless ogre fails to defend itself. You dice the helpless ogre like an onion!" Most satisfying.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments


Netflix is catching a lot of flak in the media. Here's the real reason why. They are caught between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand they want to provide the maximum amount of shows at the minimum price, whether via DVD or streaming. On the other hand you have the Entertainment Studios that are worried about people copying those streams. It is easier to copy a stream than to copy a DVD, from what I gather on a cursory examination. Also the "unlimited" spec is really a tad too generous if you ask me. There really is no foolproof way to protect copyrighted media. Where there's a will, there's a way to copy. Every hacker knows this.

I'm not sure what the solution will be, but I do sympathize with Netflix. I think their hands are tied by the policies of the studios.

I used to use Netflix, but their content selection does leave a lot to be desired. If all movies of more than a year old were available for streaming, it would be worth it, even if Netflix charged $.50 per hour, which I think is fair enough.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments


I read the guy in charge of AMD's Products Group is leaving. I don't know anything more about that than what the article states.

But as far as AMD's products go, I feel AMD missed the boat on low-power processors. The wave of the future, or actually of today, is energy efficiency and a small footprint. I feel that AMD does not offer enough, today, in the 45 watt and below segment of the cpu market, whereas Intel has some of the latest Sandy Bridge processors that only consume 35 watts.

Otherwise, I'm definitely an AMD fan, although not a stock fan (not referring to shares, but cpu cooling--oh, never mind).
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Speed of Light Repealed

I was taught in school that the speed of light in a vacuum was absolute and could not be exceeded by anything.

Turns out that may have been wrong.

Science is always revising and improving itself. Religion does, too, to be fair, but it's a bit more resistant to change.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Right On

Good editorial from an unexpected source. Irish Central?

Every once in a while, I encounter the unexpected, reason and logic.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Just Damn Unlucky

I could be among the middle class today; I was just damn unlucky. I've achieved perfect records in so many different arenas, but there's always that one misfortune or coincidence that deprives me of the cheese at the end of the maze.

I think it's fair to say I'm unlucky. I had the bright intuition to buy gold when gold was cheap, $300/oz., in fact I imagined my dead grandfather (he was keen on investments) whispering in my ear, "Buy gold with every spare dollar at your disposal, now," but after buying the gold, I double-guessed myself after reading magazine articles about the invulnerable, infallible, reliable then-soaring stock market, and I sold most of my gold on Ebay, typically for the starting price with no bidding. (As we know, Ebay sucks.)

I almost got accepted into nursing school with my academic record and great score (99) on the entrance exam, but there were two grades from twenty years ago that, I suspect, nixed my chances, along with my lack of prior medical experience. Everyone encouraged me to go back and take those old classes over again and volunteer at a local hospital, but you know what, that's a lot of sacrifice combined with the $30K price tag of nursing school, money that I don't have to spare. Used to be the government helped out poor nursing students, but all that money dried up after the wars, and it never was enough anyhow.

I guess I've got a lot of "almost-wons" to my credit. I almost got a decent job up in Vermont. Spent about a dozen hours filling out applications & questionnaires and responding to emails and conducting telephone and a webcam interview. Nothing. Not even an email saying sorry, we passed you by. I don't mind so much, though. I guess some jobseekers get bitter and bite back when they receive those "Sorry" emails. They shouldn't. Sorry is better than silence. Silence leaves one wondering if the game is still on.

Back in the day, I almost got accepted into graduate school, in fact I was accepted, and my generous parents offered to foot the bill in full, but my stupid morality got in the way. For one thing, I balked at the cost ($15k for living expenses and additional for tuition), knowing that my Mom hated her job and my Dad was retiring. It seemed to me I would be asking them to make a huge sacrifice, and that caused me to scrutinize the curriculum closely. I felt that most of what graduate school was teaching was crap. I perceived some, not all, of the same criticisms that Gore Vidal expresses far more eloquently in his essays and interviews. Probably I should have swallowed my reservations along with my pride and just held my nose and scored an easy Ph.D., because it would have been awfully easy for me. Then I'd have a relatively cushy academic job at some state school or technical school somewhere, much easier that the demanding programming jobs I worked after abandoning grad school.

What I did with computers, I don't think many people could do. It wasn't easy, even for people who live and breathe tech. There was a great deal of skull sweat and cold sweat trickling down the neck at 3 AM in the office as millions of dollars are contemplated at stake. I pulled it off though, all of it, somehow. That does give me satisfaction, even if no one remembers or cares at all (water under the bridge). Put in a situation of crisis, I performed, which means I'm a good soldier. But I suppose that's not valued anymore in today's economy, today's world.

I did have a taste for drama in the younger days, unlike today. I remember the head of the program at grad school calling me up on the phone to ask me why I hadn't paid the fees yet. I guess head count was down, student quality was poor, and I looked good enough on paper to justify a personal phone call.

I indicated I was not interested, that I had changed my mind, and she wanted to know all of the reasons why with as much detail as I could offer. I told her my opinions of the program, which pretty much dovetail with Gore Vidal's, although I had not yet read him on the subject. I had just formed my own opinion after lengthy reflection. She was infuriated and declared that I would never be permitted into the program while she was head, or dean, or whatever it is. She paused for about five seconds, expecting me to mend the rift I suppose, and when I didn't, she concluded that I was not interested in her program anymore, and asked me if that were so. I confirmed. We never spoke again. I imagine I was blackballed or put on some list at that particular university, but it didn't matter. She's probably retired or dead by now, but I don't have any plan on doing the grad school thing now. It's a bit late in the game for that, I think, and there's just no money to help with tuition or any other costs.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Some Women

Some women, very few indeed, have just enough testosterone to trip my wires. From a distance, anyhow. I went to a concert tonight and got the eye from one of the players on stage. After several exchanges of glances, she was even so bold as to nod. I thought it most strange, amusing, unlikely, delightful, and impossible at this point in my life, and thank goodness for that. The last one I knew too well did not go well. Butch women tend to have ex-girlfriends. . .

I've sometimes wondered about the possibilities, but I think the reality is that both of us are seeking something that is not quite right, or only right enough for one night, and it is unstable for that reason and cannot endure. She will find or has found already another she. Perhaps in earlier times such a connection was more practical and had enough advantages.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

College Degree is Worthless

I found this article about America's Lost Generation interesting but differ with their appraisal of a college degree's value.

College degrees are worthless. Companies demand not only a degree, but ten years of RECENT experience. Otherwise, you might as well not apply. You're just wasting your time.

A high I.Q. is irrelevant. Good grades are without value. Hard work is an object of scorn. Education means nothing.

Work is not permitted in the U.S. anymore. The jobs have been outsourced to China, India, Russia, and other of our "friends".

I see no reason at all to hope for a better future. All the signs are ominous, to anyone who is paying attention.

History does provide us with a road map, however, of just how horrible things will become.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Ebay Sucks

Ebay is a buyer's market. The only buyers out there are dealers who expect to buy at wholesale price. Typically, no bidding takes place anymore. Instead, people watch until the auction is just bout to end, then bid the lowest.

What I dislike about Ebay the most is that they rip the seller off on shipping. When I say, charge the buyer for shipping a package, I mean, charge the buyer for shipping a package. The buyer should cover the whole cost--no, not handling, just the postage and delivery confirmation.

I decided to bail out of an auction this morning because Ebay decided to charge the buyer only 60% of the shipping cost, with me making up the difference*. I refunded the buyer's money immediately. But now I am liable to get hit with what's called a "Final Value Fee" from Ebay, that is, Ebay takes its customary 20% cut, whether or not I cancel the transaction. It's all up to the buyer. I don't know, I might even get a "negative feedback" if the buyer is angry, which would immediately terminate my interest in selling on Ebay. I would probably end all my ongoing auctions and just forget about Ebay or start over with a new account later. Negative feedback is bad for business, especially for a really small volume seller like me. A big volume seller could care less.

The odds on Ebay are really stacked against the seller. I've been ending auctions left and right because I notice that I'm not really making that much money after Ebay takes its lion-size cut. I'm doing a lot of work, but getting next to nothing in return. I had my fill of that maintaining a web site for a bunch of cranky seniors. The final prices of most auctions are really good for the buyer, but not that good for me. And auctions that aren't a real bargain tend to fail. That is because Ebay sucks. The only buyers on Ebay today are sharp-nosed dealers that expect you to take a haircut and like it.

* - I had set the auction up to perfection with the exact weight of the item, but Ebay decided to bill the buyer only $11.28 for shipping when it really cost 17.88. I guess Ebay figured the Post Office would give me a break since I write nice things about it in my blog. I don't know why Ebay wants to rip me off on shipping. But I don't play that game. If I don't get my Final Value Credit, then all my auctions are going down. It's ridiculous I should have to go through the whole rigamarole due to an error on Ebay's part.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments


Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup really is a work of art. I'm glad it is still alive and still changing.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Business Criminals are Scared of Ron Paul

The reason the media refuses to cover Ron Paul is that the media's owners know he would win the general election and change things.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Business Criminals

It seems to me that rich criminals who defraud the government are far worse than petty thieves.

I believe the federal government could resolve much of its financial problems by hiring more investigators to go after the business criminals in our society. Seize all their assets, shut down their operation, and in a couple years, there would be no need to do anything about the budget crisis. The only reason that the country is in trouble today is due to rich business criminals stealing from the government and from working people. They only care about themselves and never can get enough money. The rich, overfed bloodsucking parasites must be removed from the Republic's fur before things will get better. There are just too many idle criminals at the top feasting at the public trough. Of course, they point the finger at working people and say, through their mouthpieces at FOX News, that workers need to be punished for working.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I Like George Lopez and Kathy Griffin

Celebrity motormouths Kathy Griffin and George Lopez are adorable. I think the two of them would make super-babies.

It's a pity Kathy is past the child-bearing years. The world will be deprived of her progeny. So much worse for the poor old world. I would like to ask her why she didn't. It is the only question that occurs to me when I watch her.

She is a rare flower that only blooms once in a hundred years. The nineteenth century had George Sand. Perhaps Kathy is the spiritual sister of George Sand. Or maybe she is not quite as deep. Sand laid Chopin.

Griffin is quick and as cunning as the best of them. I also believe she is good, although it is a choice; she could have been wicked if she had wished to be so. There is genuine goodness in her heart, a warmth that makes her attractive to those who value such a thing.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Pakistan Owes the U.S.

Pakistan has been stabbing the U.S. in the back for a long time. Since they have taken so much American taxpayer money, they should refund it. We should present their leadership with a bill for all previous monies given to them since 1970, along with an interest rate of 10%, with the demand that the entire bill be paid in full within one hour. After it is paid, Pakistan can rejoin India, which enjoys a more competent government.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

The Death Penalty

The death penalty often makes the news, usually connected with a horrendous murder. I am neutral on the subject, with due respect for both sides of the issue, although I believe capital punishment must be reserved for murderers, and their guilt must be ironclad, and the judicial process transparent and clean, and the execution relatively painless and dignified. I believe murder by violence or murder by proxy are equivalent, and murder by proxy may indeed be worse. If a business sells a product that kills while knowing that it kills and going to great lengths to conceal its lethality, then its owner is a murderer of multitudes by proxy, and how is he any better than a stabber or a shooter? No, he is worse, he is more cunning and dangerous by far.

It is difficult for me to sympathize with the plight of a convicted killer. It seems to me the guilt, in any person with a functioning conscience, that would come from extinguishing or marring innocent lives should make such a killer welcome the death penalty, rather than fear it. I don't condone torture, but on the other hand I don't see any travesty arising from taking the killer's life. It may have a therapeutic effect upon the victim's family and it does carry historical and cultural weight. It is a way of deterring survivors from pursuing ancient vendetta. How much better to let justice take its slow, methodical course!

I think modern forms of the death penalty are too elaborate and therefore liable to malfunction for a variety of reasons. Such methods as lethal injection were designed by people who are not competent engineers in any sense of the word. Ethical forms of capital punishment include beheading, shooting, and hanging. These methods are easy to understand and to execute. A competent engineer knows the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid). To expect prison guards to have a Ph.D. in medicine is unrealistic.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Monday, September 19, 2011

Discovering Trolls

Having given up on Octopodes after my twentieth fatality, I've rediscovered Trolls in Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, and I must say, they are a viable race in almost any class, even Wizards. For the moment, I'm partial to Hunters, because five +1 boulders for throwing is quite a generous armory to start out with.

What I love about Trolls is that they are perfectly suited to a game with tons of items, because their high Strength permits them to carry a ton of stuff, and Crawl is not lacking in food, either. When you come right down to it, Crawl is an inventory game, and managing inventory in an effective manner is all-important.

The only problem I've found with Trolls is a strategic one: should I stick with claws or specialize in Maces & Flails, eventually progressing to a giant spiked club? I'm leaning toward the giant spiked club, but hate to think about life without a shield.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Republicans Aren't Finished Ruining America Yet

The right-wing has for a long time set its gun sights on the Postal Service, because the USPS serves working people a thousand times better than the for-profit options, the execrable UPS and FedEx.

The Postal Service takes no money from the government; it is a self-sufficient branch of the government. It delivers mail to the customer every day except Sunday, picks up mail at the customer's house*, and delivers a letter for forty-four cents, and a postcard for substantially less. It even has outposts in rural areas. Imagine a private, for-profit shipper doing any of these things.

I'm in favor of the USPS raising rates for businesses if they need to. Companies that mass-mail solicitations should be charged more than what they are charged now, because they are mailing pointless garbage, scams and frauds that in nine times out of ten are deposited directly into the garbage and then the landfill. There is no good mailing poor people credit card solicitations; that is an act of predatory evil. I suspect businesses are not being charged enough, and that is the real reason the Postal Service is in financial trouble today. Of course, the mainstream media always suggests cutting services to the working class.

* - Many are unaware that the Postal Service will even pick up packages at your house, and all you have to do is leave them on the front porch. To activate this service, you must register online on the Post Office web site and schedule a pickup. They only perform this service for Priority Mail, however, so it may cost a couple dollars extra to mail that package, but it will get there faster, too. I love that service and use it extensively. No more trips to the Post Office! You can even purchase postage online nowadays.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Sunday, September 18, 2011

I Like Gore Vidal

I like Gore Vidal's fiction and nonfiction very much, but my admiration for his abilities is tempered by the realization that he'd not approve of much about me. Gore's witty and warm, but kind of cranky, or at least that's the impression I have gotten from reading about a hundred pages of his reviews of novels, essays and authors. He disapproves of academia, taking particular exception to the social sciences and English. Maybe he has a point, indeed, but I'm the product of academia, had a great time in academia, and feel like an academic. For all the faults Vidal gleefully points out, I like academia and it likes me, because I seldom made less than an "A" and liked all my professors except the incompetent few. And few really are incompetent. Vidal is wrong there. Just because he's so clever, he belittles the efforts of others, as though they are nothing, when they are not, they are helpful in many ways that Vidal neglects to consider. A professor is not necessary for a self-driven reader such as Vidal, no, he is an exception. But most students are not Vidals. They are not anywhere close to being a Vidal. A professor is very useful to those students, and they would not, perhaps, otherwise learn. It is better for all to learn, than some, and more so in a democracy.

This is just one example of the many areas I part company with my hero. So I like Vidal, but take him with a grain of salt. I like salt.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Charter Cable Still Doesn't Get It

I received yet another letter from Charter Cable offering internet, tv, and phone for $60/mo. and deposited it directly into the trash can like the fifty previous letters before it.

Charter still doesn't get it, six years after I left them.

It's not the price.

It's not the features.

It's reliability.

With Charter, I went without Internet for days and weeks at a time because of unexplained technical problems on their side. That's something I remember. Refunds for those time periods were promised--only if requested--but never materialized. So I don't care if Charter offers the bundle for $30, I'm not biting.

They need to work on reliability, followed by reliability, and thirdly, reliability.

When Internet service goes out, they should refund the customer's bill for the Entire Month. If they had that policy and were consistent about following it, then I'd sign up again. Otherwise, no. I don't need Bozo the Clown as my Internet Service Provider.

Meanwhile, there's a landfill somewhere with all the crap Charter has mailed me over the years trying to woo me back.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments


Beta .10 of Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup heralds the arrival of a most promising species, the Octopodes, which can wear as many as eight rings, answering the prayers of many a veteran Crawler. I jumped on this species and have played it exclusively ever since it became available.

Octopodes are a high-risk race, however, and I defy anyone to win with one. The slightest blow can kill or seriously wound the unarmored Octopodes. Keep in mind that even robes, cloaks, gloves and boots are forbidden to Octopodes. Any Octopode that ventures long without a shield is brave indeed, some would say foolhardy. I suspect they are still experimental in this Beta version. Their aptitude at Dodging should be increased from 0 to +2, if they are to survive the early levels.

My religious preference for Octopodes is Nemelex Xobeh, because Octopodes can sacrifice more items than any other race, since so much is forbidden them in terms of armor, and weapons are of less importance for these spellcasting savants.

However, Nemelex Xobeh deserves his nickname of the Trickster God. Beware of the Tomb, Torment, Poison and Damnation cards, all of which can end an Octopode's career. I had to quit the game after my high level Octopode drew a Tomb card, because I had no Teleport. Before I quit, I sacrificed magic items in the hopes of receiving another deck of cards from NX, preferably a Deck of Escape. He sent another deck, all right--a deck of destruction! Trickster, indeed. Decks of Summoning are not nearly as powerful in .10 as they were in .9, because it seems many of the summoned creatures are hostile. All decks are a mixed bag and one risks harmful mutations or the elimination of beneficial mutations by using any of them.

Also, NX is not guaranteed in the Ecumenical Temple. I encounter his altar only once every two games. It seems like every time I try an Octopode Artificer, NX altars are nowhere to be found, making the choice of Artificer less attractive.

At present, with flawless play, a veteran player should win with an Octopode one out of twenty games. Best to buy a family plot in the Crawl cemetery. I've abandoned Octopodes for the time being, returning to my old favorite, Spriggans, frail but fantastic stabbers.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Thursday, September 8, 2011

NameCheap's Clueless Tech Support

I was finally able to get my ftp password on Namecheap reset, after 10-12 live chats with their clueless and incompetent tech support staff. Total amount of time spent, 5 hours, both theirs and mine, so I am at least pleased that they suffered along with me. I don't see why they could not have helped me on the very first chat. Changing a password is not rocket science. If they would simply automate the process, then I wouldn't have had to chat with the buffoons in the first place.

I regret few things more than signing up for their non-refundable web hosting "service". Namecheap is one of the most incompetent outfits I have ever encountered in tech. I think they are proud of it in a perverse sort of way, because I noticed in their online forums, one of their staff chose as his profile picture a stock photo of Borat.

I'll be pleased to read any news about Namecheap going bankrupt or a class action lawsuit being filed against them. I will be pleased when my subscription runs out, because then I will run out too & never return to "Namecheat."
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

OKIDATA Printers are Garbage

My Okidata printer has a little added feature: it displays an error message, "Fatal Error; Service Call," that requires powering off, then on again, every time anyone wishes to print. That's a great annoyance because the laser printer has to warm up each time before printing, which means that in order to print anything, 5-15 minutes of coaxing are required. I have had to power-on, power-off, and power-on again to print the smallest document.

Recently, I received a comment from the Okidata bot inviting me to make a support call. I appreciate the offer, however the effect described above is by design of the manufacturer, and their tech support can do nothing. I purchased third party ink cartridges at one-fifth the price of Okidata print cartridges. Third party ink cartridges are a well-known bone of contention between printer manufacturers and consumers. In the case of the Okidata printer, it still prints, but the user is punished with the inconvenience described above, along with frequent incorrect reminders that the ink cartridges are empty (they aren't) and poor color printing performance. Okidata has chosen the route of punishing me for trying to save $200 on their overpriced ink cartridges. Very well then, Okidata now has a permanent negative review on my blog, and I know what to say whenever someone asks me about Okidata.

UPDATE: I finally found a workaround to Okidata's malicious anti-consumer tactics. From what I've read in the forums, Okidata Tech Support WILL NOT inform any consumer of this trick. It is strictly a hacker fix that thwarts Okidata from punishing customers for purchasing third-party ink cartridges. Click here for the magical forum message, as described below:

1. Turn machine on while pushing and holding the TWO up/down menu buttons at same time.
2. Menu window will show "OKI USER"
3. Scroll to " Engine Dialog Mode" is indicated. Push Enter button.
4. "Diagnostic Mode xx.xx.xx S-Mode is indicated.
5. Scroll to "NV-Ram initial" is indicated. Push ENTER.
6. Window shows "NV-Ram- Initial Table 1".
7. Push ONLINE and ENTER Buttons simultaneously and HOLD for 10 seconds after you see "Executing Reset" appear in menu window.
8. Restart printer.

All toner, drum, fuser and transfer figures return to 100%.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It is Evil to Use Anonymous Sperm Banks

One of the most unethical practices of our time is the use that some women and couples make of anonymous sperm banks in order to have children. Setting aside other ethical qualms, to not know the father and not even care to know the father is irresponsible when we are aware that many diseases, psychoses and physical and personality traits are hereditary.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Sunday, September 4, 2011

China Armed Khadaffy

A new report indicates China armed Khadaffy near the end.

China is an immoral power. If there were a profit and lack of risk to killing all Americans and selling their body parts on the open market, they would do so without a moment's hesitation. Yet many corporations have outsourced American jobs to China and continue to do so. Republican policies are intended  to eliminate American jobs and move them out to China in order to maximize profits for the rich, without any concern for the future of the American economy.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Murder Unpunished

This story of a murder at E.O. Green Junior High School in Oxnard that went unpunished is alarming. Blood has been spilled. If there is to be law rather than vendetta, then those who commit murder should pay for their crimes.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

Chilean Student Leader

A young college student in Chile has an impressive record of political activism. I wish the U.S. had a prominent student activist that could garner a high level of media attention.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments

I Had High Hopes for "Borgias"

I had high hopes for "Borgias," a 2011 American series about a man who became Pope in 1492. One critic claimed it was better than "Tudors," while others praised the acting. There is eye candy in terms of costumes and pretty faces, but the writing is dumbed-down and repetitive. I expect more from dialogue than recitations of the obvious. I am not blind and do not require being told what is happening before my eyes. When engaged in an action, be it bribery, sex, or murder, a "Borgias" character announces his action several times--"Here I am committing the criminal act of bribery, which is illegal, because it is bribery, and I could be punished for it, so I am being careful not to be caught in my bribery attempt, which as you know, is an attempt at bribery." The writers reveal a profound contempt for their audience. To say that "Borgias" is better than "Tudors" is like saying cow manure is more elegant than diamonds. I've watched "Tudors" thrice and may watch it again some day. "Borgias," I ignored after the second episode and never intend to watch again.
by igor 04:20 8 replies by igor 09:32 6 comments
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