Sunday, December 30, 2012

Obama Gives a Good Interview

A big part of being President is knowing what to say and how to say it. Of all our recent Presidents, Obama stands out as the one that gives a great interview. Bush was a buffoon with a dim understanding of the world. By contrast, Obama is a very intelligent man. Too bad the Republicans set their #1 goal as making sure nothing moves forward in this country. The Republicans place party above country every time.Post a Comment
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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Avast the Booze

God preserve me from the temptations of the booze good and generous and well-meaning friends laid upon me as Christmas presents. I've succumbed to most of the temptation, four-fifths of the Bailey's and the keg of Heineken's, so maybe I can abstain from the last few dregs in that Bailey's, the last several bottles of wine or whatever it is, I don't want to look at them; vipers, rattlesnakes.

My head felt pins and needles today. Darkness washed over me. I was not myself, not exactly, not my good self. I will remember the darkness. I am reinforced in my conviction: I believe alcohol is poison. Sometimes I forget, but not this year. Inoculated with a booster, I should remain sober through 2013.

Just tea for me now. Good, wholesome tea.

What a mercy it is for me that I do abstain--outside the Christmas holiday--if friends don't lay bottles on me--if I don't feel obligated--if the old habit of scores of Christmases don't come back--I'm such a creature of habit.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Isy Suttie of Peep Show

Isy Suttie, Mark's girlfriend in the unique UK comedy Peep Show, is an atypical beauty. Her expressive face and gorgeous blue eyes in season 8 episode 3 are not to be missed by anyone that is open to the concept of feminine beauty. Although her role isn't demanding, she brings an uncommon authenticity to it and can't improve, having already achieved perfection. Half her charm lies in her demerit, her deviation from the popular notion of beauty, her uniqueness, hence her attainability. She's not thin, not like so many ambitious actresses today, nor very young--not some mere child, but thirtysomething--and she has a big nose, a beak in fact, larger than most men's noses--and we know that a big nose correlates with a big penis in men--and regular breasts, but she's fifty flavors of awesome somehow, and one wonders how she attracts, what is her secret? An inner joy, a light within, a mystery that must be studied further. Isy Suttie is the fun gal that geeks would like to get with and more to the point, that geeks think they actually could get with, the woman that wouldn't shoot them down or misuse them, a straight-shooting, plain-speaking, laughing, warm and sunny type of woman, with a Welsh accent that reveals itself at unexpected moments, adding to her mystery and allure, as when she says to Jez, "But is Mark fawn?"

I don't know why Peep Show hasn't caught on in America. It's about the best comedy there is on television. It's quirky and offbeat. My fellow Americans just don't know what they are missing. Peep Show is easily the coolest show on television. I have yet to interest any of my American friends in the show. It is an acquired taste. I think it grows on one, becoming funnier the more times it is watched. The first time, a viewer suffers from information overload. There's just too much narrative and too many things happening at once. Understand, this is both a weakness and a strength. The show makes extraordinary demands upon the viewer, indeed, and that is its weak point, if there is any weak point, reducing its popularity in the mainstream. By the second and third viewings, the viewer is prepared and has already absorbed much of the storyline, so the show increases in value over time, unlike most other shows, becoming funnier the more times it is watched. I cry foul to critics until they watch the show thrice. If by the third time they aren't laughing, then fair enough.
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I changed my mind about China. China's probably more corrupt than Russia. They recently tightened the screws on Internet censorship, all because people are clamoring for democracy and exposing corruption. I bet what has been exposed is just the tip of the iceberg. Those who suffered under communism now suffer under kleptocracies, but I guess there was never much difference between the two systems in practice, whatever theory might have intended. Always the insiders, the elite get to have the best of everything, while everyone else is treated second-rate.

Here's a letter from a Chinese laborer working 15-hour days.

We in the West are just fooling ourselves about China, which is going to start the next world war, and at that time, future generations are going to be wondering why we let the suits export all the really important jobs over to China. Too late in the game to reboot the manufacturing sector once a hot war is on. Manufacturing is what won WW2, and ultimately it is what wins all wars. If you can replace a tank division, then you can lose a battle and still win the war.

Will we retain Alaska and Hawaii?

I'm puzzled the right-wingers ignored current events and replayed Viet Nam from 2001 - 2012, but they never could see farther than their own portfolios. A lot of time was squandered. Missed opportunities. Could have done something about the economy, alternative energy, and global warming. Now there are a lot of people unemployed or underemployed and there's no end in sight to that. The old cling to their cushy retirements and entitlements while casting aspersions on the young, who can't find good jobs in today's economy, and the politicians look to save money by cutting education and benefits (present and future) for the young. So the young have nothing to do and nothing to look forward to, while U.S. companies continue shipping jobs overseas to China, which one day is going stop playing nice and demand territorial concessions.
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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The State of the World

Thank goodness for the West, the source of all things that are good. A glance at Russia or China is all that is required to be thankful that one lives in a modern and civilized Republic. I feel sorry for people that live in Iran, Syria, Malaysia, or many of the other countries around the world where corruption is rife and tribal loyalties mean more than the rule of law.

The Romans were the ancient people that cultivated the rule of law as being sacrosanct, transcending tribalism. So we, the people of the West, have inherited that cultural and legal tradition, while the people of Russia and China must suffer under kleptocracies that benefit a few criminals at the expense of everyone. I read that China's Prime Minister has stolen over two billion dollars for the benefit of his family, while Russia's corruption is inestimable, probably far exceeding anything in China.

I think that Western countries are superior in every conceivable way to others, and I believe this is self-evident, needing no explanation at all. The only thing the West has to do is figure out a way to adjust to the modern economy, and get its people back to work before it is too late. Free trade was not a good idea, not a good idea at all, and now we are coping with the consequences of a devastated manufacturing sector. So what next? The other thing we need to do is keep electing Democrats who understand that the U.S. is not the policeman of the world, that our borders end in North America, and we need to look after our own, not go interfering where we don't belong and trying to help people who hate us.
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Monday, December 24, 2012

Puzzlement over the Pope

I was puzzled by the Pope railing against gay marriage during the Christmas season, but then I remembered, of course the Pope was a Nazi, after all. He's simply reverting to form.

There's a goofy-looking UK bishop who seems to have forgotten the Pope's ugly past. Had he remembered, he might have used different phrasing in his political speech sermon. By the way, why aren't these political lobbyists--priests--taxed? They should be paying taxes just like anybody else.

There's not the slightest possibility that these stupid ignoramuses could be the representatives of the Divine on earth.
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Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Christmas Message

Surround yourself with people of the light: good, honest, kind, and wise, be they who they may, and let their light rekindle yours.

There is light even in the darkness, because the light spans Alpha and Omega. Is within and without. Was before, is, and will be. When all ends, then that end is a false ending, because all begins again, not as it was, but as it will be.
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Friday, December 21, 2012

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel

On the one hand, Former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel was a breath of fresh air during the Bush years, one of the few Republicans that was vocal in speaking out against the multi-trillion-dollar wars. On the other hand, his brain fossilized back in the 1950's with all its prejudices, leaving him "openly, aggressively" homophobic, which is too bad, because now is not the time for a homophobic Secretary of Defense.
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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Gay Marriage Pioneer Richard Adams

I read an interesting blog post today about Richard Adams, who the INS called a faggot back in 1975. That shows how bad the political climate was back then, that INS employees felt they could get away with vulgarity.

Well, times change. An employee at a government agency that wrote a letter like that today would be fired and rightfully so.

Haters that call other people unpleasant names die off and aren't always replaced by new haters. Incidentally, it's a good thing that they die off. I don't think the human race is ready for immortality yet. Maybe in a thousand years. We still have these problems with violence, intolerance, greed, dishonesty, stupidity, and insanity. I think whenever immortality does become an option, then it had better be joined with genetic engineering so that the immortals are as good and strong and most of all, kind as they can be. It's a scary thought to think about evil-doers living forever... like Sauron.

I don't like the fact of my mortality any more than anybody else. It is odd that we begin each day not thinking it could be our last, and yet for some people, it is their last, they don't even know. Life's a strange bird, ain't it? I can certainly sympathize with the folks that want to believe in an afterlife and everlasting rewards. That's a kind of fantasy that is most appealing and soothing, much more comforting than, "You will be gone forever and ever, and in time, all traces of you will be wiped out completely; you are to be forgotten and erased." That's not quite the thing to say, is it? Even if it is true. I wouldn't have the heart to say it to anybody on death's door. I'd just let them partake of their traditional remedy, be it final rites, shaman or priest, as long as the priest doesn't take advantage and try to bully the poor fellow into converting or doing something against his better judgment.

I'm reading a book by a devout Christian woman recounting her childhood. Every little thing she did, everything that happened, she imbued with drama and meaning from the Bible and from theology, so God and Jesus are everywhere, testing, sending signals and messages, guiding, exhorting, and sometimes punishing, like parents. It's quite unusual. I think she is simple, but I like reading her story because it is so different from the usual book I read. She's got a tremendous head trip going on. Jesus is sending her messages, signals. She reads the Bible for clues on how to respond to her wicked stepmother, who is always putting her down. I'm amused because I catch on to her game, as it is a familiar one I've observed many a time among the Christians. One can read the Bible any which way and find a passage in support of this or that. The Bible contradicts itself; it isn't logical and had no one author, but is a cacophony of voices, each with their own agendas. The authors were jotting down things that made sense in the context of contemporary politics of their times, but don't necessarily apply today. All that's obvious to everyone but the devout Christian, who thinks the Bible was written for them and applies to their own life. Well, that's fine, only trouble is, you can get the Bible to tell you anything, just flip to the right page and go, and it isn't necessarily so, anyway. I think there are better books to read, better books to profit from. I particularly like the Simarillion, in which Tolkien describes a beautiful theology in much more detail than the Bible, which is always vague about the Deity. Why be coy? Why not spell things out? Tolkien did. I like his theology better. At any rate I don't take her religion seriously but enjoy reading all of her thoughts about things. I do think she is a passable good writer, not one that could sell books, but good enough to keep me reading.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Gun Control

The NRA has had things its own way for too long and it is far too liberal on gun laws. It is easier to get a gun than it is to drive, and there's something wrong about that to anybody that possesses a grain of common sense.

I think some sensible precautions need to be put into place and should have been done a long time ago. Only now, we see the urgency after so many senseless killings by suicidal maniacs. I'd rather face a suicidal maniac armed with a knife than a suicidal maniac armed with a gun, any day of the week. But you can argue this point until you're blue in the face with a lot of Republicans, and they just don't see it no matter how many people are buried. They think we're after their hunting pastime or trying to disarm everybody.

I don't consider myself well-versed on the issue of gun control, but I would support a ban on assault weapons, a ban on cartridges that have more than eight rounds, and a lot of other new precautions.
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ASUS Warranty & Support

The web site for ASUS is designed with one purpose in mind, to deter warranty/service/repairs. After navigating through their maze of a web site for an hour, I can testify that it is difficult at best to get service on warranty on any ASUS product. If you finally, after much searching, find the link to the web site that handles warranties (why couldn't they incorporate that into the main site?), then if you click on it, you will log on to the web site--and get a blank, white screen, with no text and nothing to click on. That's ASUS customer service for you.

Here's what happened when I tried to chat with one of their "helpful technicians." I should note that the screen also said that I had a 110-minute wait ahead of me, but the screen capture didn't get that part.

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Europeans are Stupid

The rate of smoking in Europe is higher than anywhere else at 33%.

So Europe might be wiser in some ways, like socialized health care, but they are behind the curve when it comes to tobacco.

Smoking is unnecessary, even for someone addicted to nicotine. There are two alternative methods of nicotine consumption that are far less harmful--nicotine gum (expensive) and vaporization, which has been widely adopted by health-conscious marijuana consumers. Why would anyone smoke the old-fashioned way, when a vaporizer can be purchased for $40? To use a computer analogy, it is like remaining with MS-DOS instead of upgrading to Windows or Linux Mint. Smoking is more expensive, more harmful, and obnoxious to everyone around. Vaporizing is cheaper, tastes better, is much easier on the lungs, and causes minimal discomfort to others.

I've known intellectuals that smoked, highlighting the difference between book-smarts and common sense. I am glad I have enough common sense not to play Big Tobacco's game. I don't use any tobacco products, but you know what, if I did, it would either be through the medium of gum or vaporization. Common sense, if you please. Smoke ain't good for your lungs. Ask a conscientious pothead where to buy a quality vaporizer.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Read O'Brian and Despair

As for writing a novel, I'd better put a cork on that. I finished Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander yesterday and observed I'd never write as well as he does, not even if I tried for a thousand years.

One thing about O'Brian is he's an artist, not your ordinary sort of writer. That is, he draws scenes, and the words serve as his paintbrush. As artists go, he's an impressionist. The reader must work to shake out what's going on. O'Brian won't pat your hand and say, "Now, now, we're getting up, dear old Sir, so please put your slippers on," none of that, he zips from point to point without very much in the way of transition. The reader's brain must work overtime, sometimes rereading to puzzle out what is going on in the story. One adjusts to this challenging style, because it has the advantage of compactness. O'Brian draws a scene in ten pages that would take another writer fifty, while imparting more nuance. He does not waste the reader's time and is never boring.

Of course O'Brian's a classic nerd, having devoured every single fact and legend concerning the British Navy of the 1700s-1800s, and he flaunts his knowledge until the reader is cowed into accepting the writer's indisputable authority. I don't know one sail from another, it's all Greek to me. I just marvel. I suppose that the gentleman must have spent a good chunk of his life reading naval histories and stories. I don't even like sailing, but I like Patrick O'Brian's novels about sailing. That's the mark of a great author, that he can hook landlubbers like me with his naval stories. I rank O'Brian up there with the best of the best, and I can only wonder why Gore Vidal never reviewed his books, but Vidal preferred dead authors to living competitors and probably found O'Brian reactionary, although I think O'Brian's personal views may be found in the speech of his character Stephen Maturin, who was liberal enough for me.

When I think of the times I wanted to write a historical novel, I blush in shame, because I know good and well my knowledge of times past is not one-tenth O'Brian's. My effort would turn out just like the ones of those historical novelists I read in the library and put down in contempt.

So read O'Brian and despair, ye budding writers!Post a Comment
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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Stepping Into Her Bones

I've been reading about a page a day of a self-published autobiography about a straight, white, devout Christian woman of no special renown who grew up in America. It is the bathroom read. To my surprise, I have enjoyed stepping into her bones and seeing the world through her eyes. I am beginning to feel a desire to start a novel. There is nothing stopping me. Perhaps I will create a similar character.Post a Comment
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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Run Screensaver & Music Player from Thunar's File Manager

In my opinion, a screensaver begins and ends with a slideshow featuring beautiful specimens from the realms of art and imagination, nature, and science. I will never understand why so many people opt for alternative solutions such as using a non-slideshow screensaver (called a "visualizer") from within a media player. Configure the screensaver within the operating system but once, and it will function with and without the media player. Pictures appealing to one's personal taste may be obtained quite easily by anyone with Internet access, patience, and storage space. So why use anything else in a screensaver--ever?

When I play music on my media player, I want the desktop to display my slideshow. I do not want VLC to run a tacky visualizer. And I want to use nothing within VLC, but instead the regular desktop screensaver-slideshow, which can be easily deactivated by moving the mouse or pressing any key and which I have configured to my own preferences.

The following custom command, when selected in Thunar, passes selected files and folders to VLC and then, after a five second pause, activates the screensaver. I don't see any reason why this technique would not work in other Linux desktop environments, but I haven't tested it, so I will say, caveat emptor. My own desktop environment is Xfce running on Linux Mint Maya. I have VLC and xscreensaver installed and working, although the logic below could be adapted for other media players and other screensavers.

In Xfce's File Manager, Thunar, click Edit | Configure Custom Actions, and then choose the + icon to add a new one. For the name of the action, let's type "Play in VLC & Run Screensaver," and for the command, "/bin/ %F", which loads a shell script while passing a variable consisting of selected files and folders. Executing a script is indeed necessary, because Thunar seems to not permit multiple commands in a custom action. Perhaps in gnome or kde, the story may be different--experiment and see whether this is so. Of course one would rather not have to create a new batch file just to execute two or three commands.

The shell script, which I call /bin/, consists of just two lines:

vlc "$1" & sleep 5 && xscreensaver-command -activate
Name this Linux shell script "", place it in the /bin folder, and set the execute bit using "chmod a+x /bin/" so that all may execute it. I'm not a big security buff, but if you are, then set the security however you like it, just so that it can execute from the File Manager.

VLC and the sleep command execute at the same time. The sleep command waits for five seconds. Only after the sleep command has finished do I want the screensaver to activate and display my slideshow. I find the delay helpful, because without it, the screensaver executes with such alacrity that my hand cannot remove itself from the mouse fast enough to avoid deactivating the screensaver. Besides, I like to observe VLC's playlist for a moment before it runs. Many a time during testing, I passed an invalid variable to VLC, and it got stuck in an endless loop trying to load invalid file names, which is not very intelligent, to say the least. I tried to add some audits of the variable inside the script, but I cannot add any if...then commands to the batch, otherwise it won't work at all from within Thunar in Xubuntu 12.10. The batch must remain primitive for reasons that are unclear to me. I am sure the solution is something simple that the experts have neglected to mention because they feel it is obvious. At any rate, I was pleased to set this up, because it saves me a step during dinner parties.Post a Comment
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Scalia Plays the Prude

Supreme Court Justice Scalia is not wise based upon his remarks at Princeton, but he thinks he is wise, and that's the most dangerous sort of fool that there is. His arguments against any and all rights for gays are illogical and reflect his own personal hangups.

Since his arguments have nothing to them, one looks at the man. One look at Scalia and all thought of sex goes out the window. Maybe that's his problem--nobody would ever want to do him. Such a specimen finds it easy to play the prude. He can pretend that his "morals" keep him from accepting all the offers that would otherwise flow his way.
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Monday, December 10, 2012


Great things are accomplished with cooperation, as the ants know.
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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Ars Technica Needs to Learn

Ars Technica needs to learn that not everybody has the time to play password games with their site. I am not going to spend all evening devising a password that has a percentage, an underscore, an uppercase, a lowercase, ninety-nine characters, and a logarithm. I'm just not going to do it. I don't know, do they think we are registering for a lottery prize? More like registering for spam from Ars Technica, sounds like. Do they think somebody is going to try and crack their passwords with brute force? Ridiculous. Note to Ars Technica: you are not a bank.
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Hm. I don't like the sound of this.  Canonical is committing errors in judgment. They need money, so while asking for donations, they intend to spy on their users in order to earn money from Amazon, which has ethical problems of its own. Well, perhaps I will not be using anything Ubuntu-related after 2012.

Out of curiosity, I installed both Xubuntu 12.10 and Linux Mint 13 Xfce, and Linux Mint Xfce is better, easier to use, despite being based upon older code (ubuntu 12.04). Xubuntu 12.10 is unstable, makes crash reports all the time, and the updates that Ubuntu releases don't fix the problems. I send crash reports, and Ubuntu ignores them, and instead issues updates for things that are irrelevant to me.

Xubuntu also is difficult to customize. Last night, I spent an hour trying to install new themes in the ~\.themes directory, because the default themes in Xubuntu are all unpleasantly bright. Xubuntu basically offers the user one theme and one theme only, a bright white background that will burn the eyes of any heavy user. This one theme has twenty different names, so it may appear there are twenty themes, but they are similar. Xubuntu does not offer even one theme with a dark background. Not so with Linux Mint Xfce, which at least offers dusk, a true dark background. I tried for an hour last night to install some new ones, but the archive manager crashed repeatedly. Even when I succeeded in extracting the themes into the .themes directory, after rebooting, they did not appear in the Appearances list of styles. In the end, I gave up. My solution will be to remove Xubuntu at some future point in time. I require a distro that does not require hours and hours of research and experimentation in order to change the background.

I'm glad there are options for Linux users. I'm definitely going to stick with Linux Mint for the time being while keeping an eye on other distros such as OpenSuse, which doesn't rely upon anything *buntu. I hope that Linux Mint finds a way to wean itself from Ubuntu, because I think Canonical has strayed into error and its usefulness may be coming to an end.
The trPost a Comment
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Friday, December 7, 2012

Massive File Copies--Not for the GUI

There are some tasks at which both the Windows and the Linux GUI stink, and I mean like rotten eggs. I'm not taking sides here. Both operating systems stink at massive file copies. Woe betide the user that tries copying tens of thousands of files from one directory to another directory on the network. This is the single best way to get an unresponsive desktop. In Linux Mint Xfce, Thunar blanked, the "File Progress" window blanked, and on one occasion all my desktop icons disappeared. In Windows XP, I waited. And waited. And Windows XP will also become unresponsive. It's not any stabler than Linux. I've learned. From now on, command-line copy all the way. xcopy *.*, my friends. That's the way to go.

And if only I could figure out a way to bypass the accursed trash can in Xubuntu. Linux Mint Xfce offers an option to permanently delete files, rather than spending several hours, or all day, transferring them to the Trash Can, which does not delete them. Overall, Xubuntu's designers don't seem to give too much thought to usability. Instead, they are concerned with protecting the user from himself. I don't think I will install another *buntu distro again. Instead, my choice will be Linux Mint. Linux Mint is just nicer, friendlier, that's all. Linux Mint adds another ten to twenty per cent to the usability quotient. That's not to say there couldn't be improvements, but when is that not true?

Neither the Windows nor Linux GUI have any conception of batch mode. If a user begins another copy while a copy is being performed, each OS will choose to copy everything simultaneously, a disastrous behavior which means it will take much, much longer to complete each copy task. Why not finish one copy, then begin the next one? That is known as "batch mode." Copying in batch is far more efficient.Post a Comment
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Respect for Nurses

There should be a rule that no one should mess with nurses. I can testify that nurses work harder than anybody else. The stress level of their job is through the roof. I couldn't do it. I don't have the stamina. I'd never hassle a nurse, and the Australian DJ's who hoaxed a nurse over in London ought to be sacked for doing so. Hoax a banker, politician, or businessman, but never anyone in the medical profession or for that matter, law enforcement or firemen. I understand humor and fun and games and enjoy a good hoax myself, but some people work in uncommonly high-stress jobs and should be given a little bit of slack by the public, and in particular radio DJ's, who are dispensable to begin with, let's face it. Everybody needs a nurse. A DJ, we can do without. I don't know whether some people understand just how difficult it is to become a nurse in the first place.

I could care less about the royalty / Kate Middleton connection. Even though I'm liberal, I'm not particularly anti-royal. I'm a pragmatist. If royals conduct international diplomacy, support charity and worthwhile causes, and use their position as a bully pulpit to support worthwhile and humanitarian causes, then royals might actually do some good in the world, more so than some of our wealthy who inherited their fortunes and do nothing. I think the question of whether royalty is good or bad depends upon the words and deeds of the royals.Post a Comment
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Thursday, December 6, 2012

How to Make Firefox Load the Home Page in a New Tab

I found the way to make Firefox load the home page in a new tab, which used to be Firefox's default behavior back in the good old days. (The suggested solution at does not work for my purposes.) The user must install a new add-on called "New Tab Homepage" to force Firefox to behave in the way it used to behave.

I see it's time for... Firefox developer training time!

FF dev: So tell me, what is a home page?

igor: A home page is where the user wants to begin browsing the Internet.

FF dev: But when the user opens a new tab, surely he wants to see a bunch of windows thrown together in a big pile, right? That's what I like!

igor: No, the user wants to view his home page when a new tab is opened.

FF dev: But home page is boring...for me. I want to code a bunch of windows and show off what I can do.

igor: Why not use all that energy to figure out a way to integrate flash in Firefox, like Google did with Chrome? Then Firefox might regain some market share.

FF dev: Uh... too difficult!

igor: Thought so. Post a Comment
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There is something to be said for harmlessness. I believe that seeming harmless is an art form, requiring patience, imagination, mindfulness and discipline. My blood runs as hot as anyone else. At times, I get angry. On rare occasions, I thirst for vengeance. Then I think, Wait. No. This is not the way.

One can't please everyone, so there will always be a detractor here or there, and occasionally a detractor devolves into an enemy for reasons of their own, misapprehensions, defects in their temperament. Yet even an enemy is inclined to ignore the harmless and the quiet, those that do not appear to oppose their will, so there is an answer. After early experiments, I decided long ago that it was better to lose or appear to lose and let the ugly soul celebrate its dark victory than to waste time and energy upon pointless petty battles that no one else cares about. This strategy not everybody follows, which gives insight into the tragic headlines one reads in the daily news. Vengeance remains popular. So why then should I seek it? I will cede the field, knowing that the one who wronged me will wrong others until their luck runs out and they encounter one that requires vengeance at all costs, and then woe for them.Post a Comment
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System Builds

My ideal job would be to build and configure desktops. I have probably built about a dozen desktops over the years just for my own household, never buying from Dell, Gateway, Best Buy, or Staples. I like to choose every part from the case up. I've even grown quite opinionated about the power supply, something a lot of builders ignore. I'm all about efficiency. I like the idea of a computer using a minimal amount of electricity, especially a computer that's on 24/7. For my part, I cannot justify using any processor that consumes more than 45 watts, not for today's applications. Of course, if everyone used efficient computers, then our energy crisis would be that much less.

In the olden days, I was a Windows XP diehard, but now I'm coming around to appreciate the Linux point of view a bit more than I had before. Most of the credit goes to Linux Mint and Ubuntu, distros that made things easier on new users (with considerable help from Debian and Linux itself, of course).

The biggest problem with Windows, as I see it, is the restrictive licensing. Just because a new Windows is released doesn't mean I'm happy to drop $300 for the dubious privilege of doing a complete reinstall requiring many hours of work on three different desktops. Linux offers freedom in more ways than one. And while I'm not as fluent on the command-line as a Linux guru, I grew up using MS-DOS and am not afraid to type commands. I prefer GUI, because it's faster, but will use the command line if needed. My hope is that Linux becomes easier to use and that customization becomes easier using GUI tools. Already I can testify to the fact that Linux is much easier to install than it was several years ago. I have been able to get Linux Mint installed with little effort. When I last tried Linux, I experimented with Mepis, Open Suse, PCLinuxOS, and Ubuntu distros, and I ran into various issues such as mouse not working, display not working, or sound not working. I soon went back to Windows XP. With Linux in 2012, installation is a breeze, with the exception of exotic hardware like S/PDIF sound output. It's just the customization and optimization that takes some time, along with setting up the home network, something I found aggravating on my first try.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Good Vs. Evil

I don't think there's any reward for doing good in the world. Do good anyway. Others have before us, and that is why there is good remaining in the world today. I think that evil isn't sustainable, and good wins the long game. Yet even if this were not so, still do good. Do it for the Mother. Have you felt her presence?Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

Death of a Friend

I've sometimes fantasized about death and tried to imagine how friends and acquaintances might think of me after I'm gone. Never did I imagine one of my friends dying before me. My first reaction was shock, followed by annoyance. How rude! To go before me! I  don't like someone dying before their time and without any warning at all. It is impolite. But who can control the body? For that matter, who can control the mind? One way or the other, we all will bite the dust. Precautions postpone, but don't prevent. Oh no. Death will take every jogger, every vitamin-gulper.

There's a sense of unreality when a friend dies. I saw her just two months ago. I'm going to see her again for Christmas, surely. What about our Christmas party? We always have a Christmas party together. My dear friend is not dead, no, this is all a terrible hoax, people are mistaken, they have gotten everything wrong. Silly people, always getting things wrong. I know better. I know she is alive, because she is strong and good and wise and would never go just like that, never in a million years.

Reality did not hit me until I saw the sign in front of the funeral home with her name on it. I blinked my eyes, as I used to do when I was a boy, thinking I could take a photograph that way, preserving the image in my mind forever. And you know what I was thinking? I wanted to go back in time a year and tell her what I foresaw this evening, that dreadful sign with her name on it. I wanted to tell her to go to the doctor before it's too late. Don't you see, you mad, mad woman? You dear, dear friend. I loved you so.

Had thou put thy hand in mine, I'd have preserved thee ten more years, my Valentine.

One afternoon when she was in my house, I gave her a gold ring with a four-carat sapphire and told her it was the color of her eyes. She never wore it, and years later gave it back to me when my finances were diminished and the sands of her hourglass had almost run out.

Not everyone wants to stick around in this old world of ours, and I understand that. She had her reasons to not seek cures, to not seek the advice of friends, to escape our nagging and tugging and pulling. If she had just told me what's what, I might have known what to say or do, but all that's over now. I suppose she knew quite well what I would say, what other friends would say, and that's why she didn't tell us.

What do we know anyway? Maybe we are wrong, and she is right. I do not know all the facts. I don't know all the factors. Her passing is shrouded in mystery.

I believe she did not wish to become very old, sick, dependent on others, confused, weak, falling into errors of judgment and understanding. Who can blame her? Not me. Not anyone. I have seen people in this state. I understand. I do not wish to become like that either.

I think it is an ill thing when a person lives alone. I think human beings should live together for the sake of well-being. I did share this with her once, asked her whether she might consider dating again, looking for a partner or even just a friend to live with. It's never too late. But no.

At the funeral home, I tried to get a sense of whether there was any vestige of her remaining in the world. The afterlife is an appealing notion to me. I would be delighted to entertain a ghost. I would be delighted to become a ghost. How I would love to pass invisible through walls and observe the doings of others and--hopefully--intervene for the sake of what's right.

I would not be afraid of a ghost. I would welcome one.

I only sense the material reality around me. I continue to believe that death marks the annihilation of the individual, that there is no soul. Yet it is also true that humans are alike and there will be others like her, like me, like you. Redundancy, that's the word. The human race has redundancy built-in, certainly, now that our population is in the billions. Boring, yes. A bit unpleasant, yes. But those characteristics correlate with reality.

She endures in the memories of her friends. Based on my memories, I believe she was pleased with me. We were on good terms, always respectful, always friendly, cordial. Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments


Great article on autism in the New York Times.

I don't know where I rank on the autism scale, but some of the things mentioned in the article seem familiar to me. I never was interested in train schedules, but certainly when it comes to computers, chess, or any type of system, I'm interested where other people would be bored. And I guess it is unusual to be interested at all. But I think it is strange to not be interested. I think that the details are very interesting indeed. I'm not as fast as the neuroatypicals profiled in the New York Times article, though. Above average, maybe. I have more social skills than they do, by way of compensation, but I've never been great at social engineering, never had the desire to stand around talking instead of working, like I saw so many people do in the corporate world, standing around as the hour hand creeps from 8:00 to lunch time. I'm more of a worker bee, but I see where that work ethic has gotten me. Those who are skilled at manipulating others to do their bidding have greater success than those who work.

All my modest abilities are wasted for the most part. I have two college degrees, ten years of experience as a computer programmer, and I work for minimum wage, part-time, with no benefits, in a job that has nothing to do with any type of technology. Out at work, I did take the initiative to program our remote phone with the time, date, and important phone numbers, which was well-received, but the phone is the only electronic technology that we use, so that is about the only application that can be made of my skills. There are either too many programmers around, not enough jobs, or both, because I don't see any opportunities. I think the big shots decided to move the high-paying jobs overseas to save money, so Americans like me are left behind, with all our training and education wasted, but the big shots don't care because that does not impact their share price. The big shots don't care about their country. America may go the way of Ancient Rome, but they will fly over to Singapore or someplace else and live like kings. They made theirs, and f--- everybody else.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Thursday, November 29, 2012

VLC Answers All Multimedia Needs in Linux

I dabbled in various music players in Xubuntu--Exaile, Rhythmbox, Banshee, and Audacious--but they all threw up errors or else didn't play quite right in my Xubuntu 12.10 install. In the end I decided to try VLC for playing music, and it plays music just as well as it does video. So there is no actual need for a separate music player in Linux. VLC answers all needs. I can even run xscreensaver while VLC plays music files. VLC apparently is smart enough to stop the screensaver from running while playing video, but it won't interfere if the user launches the screensaver.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Operating Systems

One thing that is really true about operating systems is that all of them take a lot of time and effort to research, configure and learn. Now that I've cut my teeth on Xubuntu, I'm loathe to install any other distro on a production computer. Just takes too much time and effort. I can understand why people feel loyalty to their particular OS, distro, or desktop. It's not just fear of change or conservatism, but fear of the amount of work involved learning a new bag of tricks. There are a lot of little configuration files spread all around the Linux file system that control this, that, and the other, and a lot of little components that need configuring or else they will cause strange errors and misbehavior and warning messages. All of that takes time to sort out. The result however is that in the end, one can achieve a desktop that is arguably superior to Windows both in usability (providing nothing breaks with the next release) and appearance. Windows may retain some advantage in speed, however, when it comes to things like games and HD video playback, although one's mileage may vary depending upon the hardware. I've been satisfied with standard definition playback. I haven't made the leap to HD video quite yet, and since I haven't done so, I don't know what I'm missing, and ignorance is bliss, so please don't anyone show me HD video on an HD monitor.

Linux offers a free OS in exchange for sweat equity. Windows requires purchase, and the purchase price can grow expensive, since it is per computer, rather than paying just once for an entire household or office. In exchange for money, Windows offers an easier solution requiring less configuration, but it is also less customizable and more rigid in its appearance and functionality. After all, in Linux, many desktops are available--Unity, Mate, Cinnamon, KDE, Xfce, and others. I use Xfce 4.10 in Xubuntu 12.10, and it works well for me, but I had to invest a lot of sweat equity to learn how to customize it the way I wanted. Also, I was interested in tweaking the OS to try to get better performance.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Adios, Google

Greasemonkey's script to fix Google broke tonight, so I've quit Google and am using Bing as my search engine now. I don't know why Google decided to hide the first 3-4 search results. It seems odd to me that the designers place so much confidence in a dropdown list. That dropdown list is the most irritating thing Google has ever put on its page. I never use it, it has never been helpful to me, and I have to click on the search button multiple times in order to get my results back and dispel the accursed dropdown list. There is no option to disable it that I can find after much searching. I've even Googled how to fix Google and get rid of this stupid "feature," but even the fix has broken.

So let's see how Bing is doing these days.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Xubuntu is Faster

I just timed Xubuntu, and it boots in < 25 seconds on my machine. That's about 5 seconds faster than Linux Mint Mate. I guess I just needed to get Xubuntu configured in my usual style. Xubuntu is definitely faster at start-up, no doubt about it. Windows XP takes over a minute to boot, by comparison.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Death Strikes Again

We're all on a sinking ship. When a friend dies, that's a reminder that the ship is going down, and no one is going to survive this voyage. The only thing to do is try to live well and appreciate the people and things of this world as much as one can.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Second Thoughts About Mate

I discovered to my dismay that the slideshow screensaver is completely removed from the latest version of Mate. At any rate, it never worked right to begin with, so I imagine the developers just don't want to hear about it anymore. Many people assume that screensavers are no longer necessary, which is true, but those of us that appreciate art also appreciate screensavers. I am willing to give up certain things in a desktop, but a screensaver slideshow is not one of them. So I am going back to Xubuntu, which has no problem running xscreensaver. Xubuntu may be slower than Mate, it may boot slower as well, and it may lack certain nice features found in Mate, but it has no problem whatsoever with the screensaver.

Not only is Mate's internal screensaver defective, but many of the potential replacements are also defective in Mate. I spent hours installing slideshows and screensavers, all to no avail. Finally I decided the easiest path forward would be to install and configure Xubuntu, which is now my permanent replacement for Linux Mint Mate.

Xubuntu is about as easy to install and configure as Mate. I would say it is very comparable to Linux Mint Mate once you get the hang of it. However, the better design lies in Linux Mint Mate, no question about that. I do miss my Linux Mint Menu.

I plan to check out Linux Mint again however, when the next LTS is released around 2015 or so. The most likely flavor I try will be Cinnamon or Xfce. I expect Mate will join the history books by then. Based on the backstory, Mate always seemed like a stopgap to me until Cinnamon matures.

by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I'm Sticking with Linux Mint Mate

I've tried other Linux distros: Open Suse 12.2, Xubuntu, and Kubuntu. Linux Mint Mate is just twenty-four flavors of awesome and that's all there is to it. I like the Linux Mint Menu and don't want to give it up, not for Xubuntu and certainly not for Kubuntu. I like the simplicity and easiness of Mate, where things tend to just work, although there are a few quirks, such as the buggy and limited screensaver. But I plan to stick with Mate until such time that I start hearing about the maturity and stability of Linux Mint Cinnamon. Based on the comments I've read in forums, I'm not sure Cinnamon is ready yet to be my desktop. Mate is ready. But I'm going to wait a year or two, maybe for the next LTS release, for Cinnamon.

Xubuntu annoyed me greatly because the file manager, Thunar, does not allow me to open config files with Admin privileges, unlike Linux Mint Mate's Nautilus. It is also slow, especially moving files to different directories on a single partition, which should be fast, as it is in Windows XP. Thunar has some odd default behavior which was anti-intuitive, such as not opening a directory when I clicked on it. Xubuntu did not auto-detect my display resolution either, but put me at 1680 x 1024 on a monitor with a maximum 800x600 display, which meant I was having to guess what the text messages read until I finally figured out how to correct the resolution. I spent hours trying to configure Xubuntu before I gave up. The look of Xubuntu is simply inferior to Mate, and there's no easy way around that. I felt that Xfce overall was sacrificing a lot of conveniences and elegance to preserve a negligible amount of memory. At no time did Xubuntu seem faster. In fact, after creating Samba shares on my Xubuntu drive, Xubuntu booted about 5-10 seconds slower than Linux Mint Mate. In addition, everytime I clicked on Firefox or VLC the response seemed to be much slower than Linux Mint Mate, about three to five seconds of waiting before the application opened. Often I clicked on Firefox two or three times before two or three instances opened. Thus, there was no advantage to Xubuntu, but it was more difficult to use, while being considerably slower. I was also missing my wonderful Linux Mint menu, which I never want to be without, ever again. The menu alone is worth installing Linux Mint. Other distros simply do not understand how human beings work. Linux Mint really gets it.

The thing about an OS is I do not want to learn how to use one. I want the OS to know how to handle me, not the other way around.

I do wish I could find a Linux distro that displayed a modicum of intelligence during the installation process. For instance, if a computer has > 2 gigs of RAM, then swappiness should be dialed down at the get-go. I should not have to go in and modify vm.swappiness to equal 5 or 10. The temp directories in fstab should all be tmpfs. "Noatime" should be the default for all partitions. Why do I have to modify ten freaking configuration files every time I install a new Linux distro? But then again Windows is not much different. Every Windows install I ever made, I had to tweak about ten settings after install.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Disable the Google Dropdown List

Who on this good green Earth wants to hide the first three results in a search? Google does. Their dropdown list obscures the search results, making it so I have to search for a term two or three times instead of just once. A dropdown list only slows me down because I can type faster than Google can populate a dropdown list with its guesses. This link shows how to install Greasemonkey in Firefox. Greasemonkey can install a third-party script that will eliminate Google's dropdown list.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

The Time Has Come

The time has come to reread Patrick O'Brian's wonderful saga about Captain Aubrey.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Monday, November 26, 2012


Writing can or could be an end unto itself, if one has what it takes to create an imaginary character. I've often been tempted, but the task is difficult, probably beyond me. It is easier to imagine a character than to translate the imaginings into the written word. Only a good sort of writer, like Tolkien, can bring characters to life in such a way that readers will be happy to spend their evenings with those characters. Other writers are good enough to bring characters to life, but one doesn't wish to spend time with their characters. Doris Lessing comes to mind here. I can't think of a single character from her books that I miss. On the other hand, I do miss some of the characters in books by Tolkien, Jane Austen, Robert Heinlein, Mary Renault, Anne Rice, and Gore Vidal.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, November 25, 2012


The way that ghosts are treated by movies and books seems mistaken. I would think that if ghosts were possible, then they would be as moderate and mild as we are, since they were once like us. If anything, one would expect amelioration from a ghost, an improvement over what they once were. Did death teach them nothing? Surely it is an effective teacher.

I've never felt contacted by any ghost, I think. Or if so, the entity was mild and gentle, not scary or annoying. I've never had what might be called a supernatural or religious experience that I can recall. I think that is a good thing, because I probably wouldn't understand a universe where the rules could be waved aside, as it were.

Sometimes I do wonder about certain odd coincidences, but then I feel like I'm being silly and unscientific, a superstitious ape that is startled by thunder because he does not know what makes it.

I prayed as a child, but was never in touch and did not understand the first thing. Few of my prayers were answered. My success rate in prayer was below one percent. Maybe I had a few successful prayers concerning something small, such as getting an "A" on a test that I would have gotten an "A" on anyway. Maybe someone recovered from a cold virus quickly and I attributed their recovery to my prayer the night before. The successes were always probable events, and I realized there was a problem giving credit to prayer for them. Prayer didn't have anything to do with anything. Bunch of mumbo-jumbo, it was. Overall, the God described by my Church seemed pretty useless to me. He was a nag at best, or at worst a wimp that never helped out. I felt like I could do better in my choice of friends, so I ditched God for good. Yet even at the most unexpected times, I still do pray on rare occasion by way of deal-making with the abstract Cosmos, thinking only to myself without uttering a word. "If such-and-such may be allowed to happen (such as getting a new job), then I will be able to do good work over in this area as well, you see... So, isn't it better if fortune shines my way? Of course, it is only logical..." I'm pragmatic. If there's a Deity, then let's see what he can do for me.

I think that my belief is primitive and elemental, maybe primordial. I do not think of the Deity because that is something I cannot know, something beyond human capacity, like staring into the Sun. I don't believe any of the religions have got things exactly right, but I don't know either. So, atheist, yes, if the word is to mean a belief in a deity as described by a book. Not an atheist, if the word is to mean something greater than or equal to ourselves that one does not know yet, perhaps not a thing at all but instead a force or even a bit of revelatory knowledge, such as the reason for existence. One finds it enticing to hope that there is a Direction, and one finds it dismal to believe only in Chaos and randomness, a brief life and then darkness. I do prefer to believe in Direction, in order, finding it more appealing. I do not know much more than that. I like to conceptualize God as the Ideal, or what happens according to Absolute Good for the benefit of all. That seems about right to me.

Perhaps it is so that a brief life and then darkness is the human fate. But that is made more bearable if one supposes that there is a continuity of goodness, of the creative genius, that transcends the cycle of life and death. Perhaps death is the annihilation of the individual, as I still believe. I find it very unlikely that individual identity can or should survive death. For one thing, humans are very much alike, so another person often may serve as an adequate replacement, equal if not superior. Our redundancy means there's no real necessity for the soul to be immortal. Why would the souls of Man persist after death, when Man's distant relatives were mere beasts, or going further back, single-celled organisms? At what point in our evolution spanning millions of years would God grant upon this species of ape the precious gift of immortal life? No, I think it is wishful thinking and egotism that makes people cling to the thought of immortality, a clinging to this world and the things and people of this world, which is only natural.

Certainly immortality would be preferable. Perhaps one day scientific advances will create a race that is immortal or at least very long-lived. I'd gladly accept a thousand years, a solid improvement over eighty.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hot Cocoa

I believe chocolate is the most divine of foods. It is a superb antidepressant. One should be poor without a cup of hot cocoa in the evening. The best sort of chocolate is the kind scorned by TIME Magazine, which according to this month's issue finds greater value in a Hershey bar than an Organic Free Trade Dark Chocolate bar. TIME magazine compares on the basis of price and nutritional value, important considerations no doubt, but please, give me the Free Trade bar. I will pay a dollar more. Maybe all the razzmatazz about Free Trade is true, maybe embellished, but at any rate what a pleasant thought to sell, that the cocoa farmers are getting paid a fair price for their beans, and thus this cocoa is imbued with good will and good luck, and that means good things will happen to me from eating this cocoa. And I do appreciate the flavor that I find in Free Trade chocolate, and I am certain it is superior to any brand of Hershey's, even their Dove brand. I find Hershey's too sweet and not chocolatey enough by a long shot. The chocolate I prefer is bittersweet and strong-flavored. Lindt 90% is grand, but there are some other good brands that cost more, and Free Trade is one.

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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Boring Life

Drama is popular because people don't have it. They don't have it because they don't want it. We really don't want drama in our lives. A boring life is a happy one. Drama does have a place on the screen and in books however. The best life is a boring one, which experiences vicarious drama, adventure, and risk-taking.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Economy

I remember back in the 1990's--the boom years--everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike, were rapping about how free trade was so great. America wouldn't be manufacturing, but that was all right, because we were going to be leaders in information technology, doing high-level innovating with our super-creative brains, because we were so much more awesome than all those foreigners. Turns out that those imaginary new jobs got exported, downsized, rightsized and outsourced, and when one opens the newspaper nowadays, there just aren't any jobs to be had except in the medical field caring for the comfortably retired with their Medicare and pension plans. That will last for a decade or two and then guess what, no more pension plans and who knows what will happen to Medicare.

I do wish the Republicans would try for once to do something about job creation instead of giving more welfare to the rich, who already receive the lion's share of welfare benefits.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments


A thinker such as Thomas Jefferson could not survive as a public and historical icon and revered figure in this modern age. He would be hounded from one end of the earth to the other over the affair with his slave, Sally. Many of the philosophes and illuminati of earlier eras, I'm afraid--they were--regrettably?--horny. The mind, it seems, is difficult to sever from the lower part of the body, which has ideas of its own. I think that, in general, women have greater difficulty understanding this than men, and women tend to look upon the issue in strictly moralistic terms of black and white, whereas men understand the issue in biological terms. Men understand desire and the way that it can burn, burn through restraint and ties and sometimes even oaths. There is also such a thing as mid-life crisis, when a man may long to return to the days of youth, to recapture old feelings, old sensations that may have been lost.

A reasonable accommodation could be found for public figures that find themselves ill-suited to strict life-long monogamy. I think that altogether too many people are getting married that shouldn't, because the institution of marriage isn't well-suited to them. Perhaps a contract may be a better framework, as Heinlein postulated in his wonderful science fiction novels. I am thinking about Petraeus and Clinton.

Yet if a liberal allowance is to be made for those at the top, then a similar accommodation must be made for those in the middle and at the bottom. The Code of Military Conduct must be revisited along with civilian, corporate practices.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments


I continue to find KDE confusing. I look for settings and they seem to be in multiple locations. I also don't yet understand the concept of Widgets or Panels. After fiddling around with Linux Mint KDE for a while, I don't understand why KDE is any better than Linux Mint Mate. I think I prefer Mate for its helpful and expansive menu. The main problem with Mate is that it doesn't offer enough options on the screensaver. In Mate however, items seem organized in a more logical fashion. In KDE, once I installed a package, it would not show up in the Linux Mint KDE menu. Instead, I had to go hunting for it on the file system. That seemed strange to me.

I've hopped over to Xubuntu. Xubuntu knows how to install a package on the menu for me. Another thing I've noticed about Xubuntu is that it boots faster. I like Xubuntu's story, avoiding the fads and nonsense and concentrating on being a small, lightweight, invisible operating system that is easy to use. As long as I can do almost everything in the GUI I'm happy.

I like Xfce and Xubuntu because they seem conservative. I really don't see an improvement to be made upon the way that the desktop works, or at least Windows 8 and Unity do not represent improvements--they represent regressions. The desktop is not a cell phone. It will never be like a cell phone. To make a desktop like a cell phone is to eliminate all the advantages of the desktop. Really this should be obvious.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.

I read an article in the New York Times today about Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., who has been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, the same illness that my father suffers from. Three things about mental illness I can tell you:
  1. People do not understand it and are afraid of it.

  2. Mental illness is subtle sometimes and can be treated. I would expect that many of J.J.'s peers suffer from similar disorders with varying severity.

  3. It is common to blame the sufferer, whereas with a physical ailment the cause, such as cancer, is blamed rather than the victim.
I remind myself to forgive my father, because he is crippled by manic-depression. An observer is tempted to forget the illness during his periods of lucidity. I am tempted to react to him in normal fashion as I have all my life, but now his illness has progressed until his mind is ruled by the illness, with little of his better, former self remaining.

Mental illness raises fascinating ethical questions. Perhaps one should forgive everybody, because all evil under the sun may be the result of mental illness, undiagnosed and untreated. Can free will exist in a mind impaired? Today we know only a few mental illnesses, but how many conditions exist without labels? Of course universal forgiveness was the position Jesus adopted. Perhaps we are too limited in both resources and wisdom to adopt this position on a societal scale or even an individual one.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Ecstasy Therapy

There appears to be a clinical research study going on in South Carolina that administers the drug MDMA to subjects. Perhaps Ecstasy may prove to have certain medicinal benefits.

I've never done Ecstasy. I don't understand how it works. Ten years ago, I read an alarming article in TIME magazine purporting to show all of the harmful long-term effects. Yes, I'm a bit suspicious because the mainstream media is often nonsense on drugs, marijuana being a case in point. I was alarmed nonetheless. I guess I'm too old to feel any desire to try some new drug. Also, I feel that people should regard any drug as merely experimental until it has been around for at least three thousand years, treating people with medical conditions.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments


Blew my mind recently to learn that Kubuntu is being sponsored by a German philanthropist (here's the English translation) for no reason other than Just Because. Just because, I assume, he's a nice guy. I could see myself doing something similar if I inherited a bundle from my old man.

I think I'm going to give Kubuntu a spin and see whether it flies. Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Monday, November 19, 2012

Open Suse

I deleted Open Suse after I ran into trouble trying to install a simple video driver, ATI's fglrx. I don't have time enough in the day to deal with a distro that plays games with PackageKit and tells me I can't update my video driver due to metadata. Whatever. I don't want a distro that is harder to use than Ubuntu or Linux Mint. I think I will stay with ubuntu derivatives for the time being, based on this experience with a non-ubuntu distro.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Maroney and Obama / Not Impressed

The Chicago Sun-Times offers a high-resolution version of the famous photo of Gymnast Maroney and President Obama posing together with Maroney's trademark "Not Impressed" look. I got a big laugh out of the picture. I don't see how anyone could not like Obama as a person. He's very likeable. The man's political instincts are awesome as well. I think he is very happy that he won reelection and that his happiness has made him stronger and more alive. I know his job is very difficult, but he has reached a point in his career when he feels like he can be himself. No more elections for him. He's done with that. And I know he's happy about that at least. He deserved reelection. He has done a better job than his opponent would have. I am beginning to understand Obama's admiration for Abraham Lincoln.

As for Maroney, what a great bonus for her that she became part of an iconic photo that will find its way into histories of the United States. I imagine such a photo can only help her career in whatever she decides to do.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments


I wrote a post on my blog the other day supporting Israel in its recent battle against Hamas, but then deleted it, because I feared being in error. There are times when I write things on the computer, then walk away, and feel a shadow upon my heart. I then may delete what I have written and I wonder, was it really me that wrote those things, or was it the work of others working through me? Isn't it true that the masses are programmed to believe certain things by the media? FOX News would be an extreme example of such programming, but I am sure that even the other networks and newspapers have certain agendas that may be more subtle than that of FOX.

I like Israel because of its free press and elections and gay rights. In general I am well-disposed toward the Jews and ill-disposed toward conservative or radical Muslims, who I equate with Orthodox Jews.

If I had to choose between Israel and another country in the Middle East, there's no question I would prefer to live in Israel. Wouldn't you?

I hate terrorism and hate the soldiers of Hamas that fire rockets blindly into Israel not knowing where they will explode. Complete idiocy that sets back their own cause, makes it dirty. I hate the idiots that blow up school buses, fire into crowds, boast about suicide bombings. Those individuals do not understand that they justify Israeli attacks, they provide a moral and ethical ground for Israel to operate. An eye for an eye. Who can criticize Israel, when Hamas has slain children?

Yet Israel is far away, and I am not familiar with all that goes on over there, and I'm not sure that I trust all that I read. The basis of Israel's founding seems flawed. I think that the Jews should have settled in Mexico, close to the United States and well-protected in moderate and mild North America. Mexico would have benefited from such an influx of highly intelligent Jews. It is most unfortunate for our country that we must spend billions of dollars every year to keep Israel afloat in hostile waters. How much better for us if Israel did not exist. Then the Arab nations could evaluate the United States in much friendlier terms, more as a trading partner than abettor of their enemy. How much better for us if the fanatics among the Jewish population were left to their own devices. Billions of dollars would be better spent upon medicine and scientific research than on fomenting animosity in the Middle East.

The Muslims for their part are angry and restless for many reasons, and the presence of Israel and the history of Israel supplies an obvious focus for their anger, a provocation, as though Israel is the source of all evil, when it is far from that. Israel is more of a symbol than anything else, but to the Muslims it is a symbol of humiliation.

I am afraid the U.S. seems like an old bear that fails to learn from experience and continues in making the same mistakes over and over again. The Republican Party certainly has learned nothing from history and nothing from the recent election. The Republicans persist in the mindset of the 1950s with exactitude. I do not think I will ever vote Republican in my entire life, because they have decided to be the party of backwardness.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Windows XP Feels Dated

Now that I've had a good long taste of Linux Mint Maya, I'm disappointed in my Windows XP desktop. It takes forever to boot. Also, there are little problems associated with having an antiquated operating system. Windows XP never allowed me to customize the desktop the way I like it. The customization process seemed flawed in many ways, I don't remember all the reasons why, but in the end I always gave up and just accepted the Windows default because all the alternatives were worse. Linux Mint Mate on the other hand was quite simple to customize, and I was able to create a black desktop in accord with my tastes in less than an hour. I did browse some of the black desktops on the Gnome web site, but none of them suited me. Another thing I've always missed in Windows is a simple shutdown utility that would shut the system down with a single click. Linux has a shutdown utility built-in.

The reason I stay with Windows XP is that I have so much legacy software, yet is it not true that Linux can run Windows software using Wine? I have even heard that Linux is faster at running Windows software than Windows is. If so, that is astounding and points the finger at poor old Microsoft. I'm sure there must be more to it than that. One of the advantages Linux has is lack of overhead. Microsoft tries to do everything within the OS, including copy protection and virus protection, whereas Linux does without copy protection and without virus protection. Linux does not fret over whether one's key is genuine or not, as it is free, whereas Microsoft builds in all kinds of checks for the legitimacy of the operating system itself. All of this overhead adds up and slows down a machine.

I'm leaning toward OpenSuse at present, 12.3 when it comes out, because I have read that KDE is fast on that distro, faster than Kubuntu even, and I've often been curious about OpenSuse. I am not so foolish as to prefer OpenSuse for its German connection, or at least I hope I'm not, though my father often told me Germans made great engineers, and a friend's father was a fanatic fan of the Volkswagen Bug, the brainchild, he said seriously, of Hitler. That would be unpleasant news to all the hippies that drove Bugs in the Seventies. On a more rational level, the connection with Novell can't hurt. The name Novell is familiar to me to be sure, going back even to the late 1990's, and I've owned a Novell switchbox in the past. Also, I really liked the fact that OpenSuse 12.2 booted in UEFI mode and partitioned a GPT drive without a sweat. Smoothest install I've ever had, including Windows. I do think that OpenSuse is more advanced technologically than either Ubuntu or Linux Mint, and I think the distro leans more towards cutting edge and performance. For stability one would prefer Linux Mint, because its developers take a more conservative approach at least in distros such as Mate, although Cinnamon is certainly not conservative. Linux Mint accepts Ubuntu releases only several months after they have been released, which allows the developers time to review, analyze, and refine Ubuntu before building their Ubuntu derivative, resulting, in theory, in a more stable and usable product, though not more advanced. In fact, Linux Mint should be technologically backward compared to the latest Ubuntu, but only by a small degree, a matter of six months or so.

by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Friday, November 16, 2012

Qualms about OpenSuse

I'm tempted to install OpenSuse 12.2 on one of my desktops, because it looks awesome and installs like a champ, but I'm concerned about the fact that Ubuntu is the 900-pound gorilla in the Linux world. (If you're wondering where Dungeon Crawl ties into this post, keep reading, I'm getting there.) A glance at distrowatch is enough to confirm that Ubuntu lays claim to a plurality if not a majority of Linux users today, whether through Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, whateverthehelltheycallitBuntu, Linux Mint, or one of the fifty-odd other remixes. I like the idea of staying with the crowd because there is safety in numbers, and OS problems can get mighty tricky. For my next Linux desktop, I want a KDE distro, but right now I'm leaning toward either Kubuntu or Linux Mint, because I'm worried about OpenSuse going the way of the spotted leopard. I don't understand the logic of having fifty-odd distros that do the same things and fifty-odd developer teams reinventing the wheel over and over. Say what you like about Windows, but it gained huge and obvious advantages by having a deep user base and completely focused dev team. If I go with OpenSuse it seems like I'm cutting myself off from Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, because the only linux package available for it is Debian-based, and OpenSuse is an independent distro (i.e. not Debian-based). That's a harbinger. If the OpenSuse user is missing out on DCSS, the question is how many hundreds of other programs is he missing out on? That's problem #1 when you go with an OS or distro that is #5 or worse in popularity.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Model Politician

I read an article today about a model politician in Uruguay who defies the stereotype of politicians. He's called the world's poorest President. It would be a good thing if American politicians followed his example.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Ron Paul's Farewell Address

I read or skimmed Ron Paul's Farewell Address to Congress. Ron Paul is impressive for a Republican, with surprising ideas on many issues. He is representative of what is called Libertarian ideology, which is liberal on social issues, or some social issues, but right-wing on fiscal issues, with a bias for cutting government spending. I trust that he means what he says, that he would cut military spending just as much as domestic spending. But why cut domestic spending at all? Isn't there a benefit to it? I always find the Libertarian argument a bit too simple and find it preposterous for them to claim the middle ground between liberals and conservatives, as though they represent that dish that's neither too hot nor too cold but just right. Ron Paul thinks he occupies some sane middle ground between two opposing, equally crazy, freedom-destroyers, Democrats and Republicans, who chew on Liberty instead of chewing gum. But what he calls welfare spending on grandmother or newborns is not the same as spending billions of dollars on invading a foreign country. I don't think the two parties are equal. There's the Democrats, and what's worse than them are the Republicans. I never saw a good reason for Ron Paul to ally with the Republicans.

He wrote many appealing and true statements, but sometimes drew simple conclusions that were astonishing. I don't know if he always explained the line he drew from true statement "A" to Ron Paul Conclusion "B". I did not always appreciate the reasoning.

There's an odd dimension in his thesis that wants to turn back the clock on a lot of social programs and social progress to make the country resemble some kind of 1800s Industrial Age all over again, workers working six days a week and twelve hours a day, no benefits and no right to strike.

This "Absolute Liberty" permits no check upon the individual, most of all the wealthy individual, because only the wealthy own factories, run financial empires, influence politicians. The wealthy thus access liberties that the rest of us cannot afford. Thus under the ecosystem of absolute "Liberty," a few rich tycoons would accrue all power, because there would be no curb upon their power from the government. The rich would have the liberty to do as they please to you and your kind. That is how things were in the 1800s.

The 1800s was Ron Paul's magical era, a time when the federal government was behaving in general accordance with Ron Paul beliefs. I don't see that Ron Paul would have favored Lincoln's Civil War. I hesitate to predict how he would have stood on slavery. I do believe him, however, when he promises he would let the tokers, like Abraham Lincoln, have their weed. Right on for that, man. I just don't know whether you're also with us on other stuff.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments
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