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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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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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

Alzheimer's Disease

Fascinating article on Alzheimer's Disease in the New York Times. Researchers seem closer to knowing the cause and thereby the solution.Post a Comment
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Exotic Chess Openings

I play exotic and off-the-wall chess openings that have no business ever winning, yet somehow I pull it off with a combination of luck and inspired idiocy. The Polish and the Grob are cases in point. I also like the Latvian Gambit for Black and the Brooklyn Defense. There are openings that can destroy an opponent's brain by the weight of their stupidity, and the Brooklyn Defense is such a one, where Black resets his position on the second move. I am sure that most opponents assume that Black is a duffer at that point and that their game is already won. The Brooklyn Defense is very deceptive in leading White along this primrose path where all appears easy because he's been given, after all, an additional move and a half. Against the Queen's Gambit, I like Chigorin's Defense, playing it almost exclusively for the novelty value, because I did not discover it until this year.Post a Comment
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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Some Movies are Still Good

Some movies are still good no longer how much time passes. In watching "The Fellowship of the Ring," the Peter Jackson film, I was reminded how important it is for the actors to have a good script. If the actors don't have good lines to say, their appeal is limited. I can't be interested in anyone from the 2009 version of "The Prisoner," and the fault was in the writing, not the actors, who themselves are interesting. The reason I liked Ian McKellen was because of the great role he played as Gandalf in the Ring trilogy. Often what is uttered in any "The Lord of the Rings" film is straight from the pen of Tolkien or not far from it, so the actors can hardly go wrong. Their lines are often poetic and romantic, all the ideas are fresh, the characters and the mysteries exciting and appealing. Who is Sauron? Who is Gandalf? What force or entity does each serve and why? Who are the Elves and why are they immortal? Who are the Dwarves? The humans? These mysteries are the most powerful elements in the film. So I think Tolkien deserved most of the credit for coming up with the ideas that the film extended and fleshed out.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Linux Mint 13 vs. Windows XP

I can't compare Linux against Windows 7+ because I've never used the modern versions of Windows on my own desktop. On a client's desktop, yes, but that doesn't count in my book. When my brother pulls through with a clean store-bought or Ebay-bought copy of 64-bit Windows 7 Professional (or more likely Home, the economy version), then I will evaluate W7, but I have no plans to subject myself to the anti-desktop Windows 8, which intends to diminish the desktop into a mobile phone. Microsoft can be so clueless sometimes. If one pays a premium for a desktop, one expects more from a desktop than a mobile phone. And no, I do not want a touchscreen, enforced aerobics for my hands. I want a mouse and a keyboard, minimizing the distance that my fingers and hands travel in order to get things done. Because getting things done is what it's all about, isn't it?

I evaluated three Linux distros, two mainstream and one that is pretty far out there in specialist-land and cutting-edge, OpenElec. Linux Mint 13 64-bit Mate and OpenSuse 12.2 64-bit KDE were my primary choices and both installed like champs. OpenSuse 12.2 even had easy support for partitioning my drive via the built-in UEFI support on my motherboard, which meant i could partition with GPT rather than MBR and access all 2.5tb of a massive hard drive. OpenElec refused to install, giving me a cryptic numerical error that had no documentation online. My experience with XBMC, which is the purpose of OpenElec, has been similar--random glitches and refusal to function.

For the Linux novice, which describes most computer users, I recommend Linux Mint or OpenSuse only if they don't have a home network. A home network makes the situation more complicated. It took me many long hours to make Linux shares visible on the existing Windows network. There is a steep learning curve in Linux about everything to do with a network. Text files control all the important settings, and they are not documented, so one must search online and hope to find the better tutorials in order to learn how to configure a Linux network. Expect hours of reading and re-reading, configuring and re-configuring, and hours of frustration and days when nothing whatsoever is accomplished. I think there is an important reason that developers have not made the network easier to configure, and that is job security for network admins. One needs a university degree in network administration just to configure a home network with three desktops and a router. However, accessing the Internet is painless and the OS installs pretty easily.

OpenSuse 12.2 KDE looks magnificent, and I think it is worth evaluating, but I did not keep it around, because I only intend to have one Linux desktop at this stage, and I had invested too much time already with Linux Mint 13. As far as I can tell, Linux is very tribal with some tribes preferring the KDE desktop and others preferring the Gnome desktop, which means little groups of developers spend all their time reinventing each others' wheels.

Boot time with Linux Mint 13 is around thirty seconds, and I have not been able to improve upon this by removing start-up applications or any other tricks. Boot time with Windows XP is about a minute and a half. I don't regret installing LM and plan to keep it, but I will say that configuring everything the way that I like it took a substantial amount of time. But now that I'm done, I'm pleased to have a free, fast, and stable operating system that will enjoy support from the developers until 2017, unlike Windows XP. I don't miss Windows 7 and I'm pleased to have put another feather in my cap, to have learned a new skill which I will describe as "installing, configuring, and using a Linux Gnome desktop."
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Monday, November 12, 2012

Attack the Block

An awesome movie and instant classic can be found in "Attack the Block," a British teenage gangsta film. My expectations were low, so I was surprised how good it was. The secret is that the main characters are human beings rather than pure boring stupid sociopaths. Instead of being all about crime, the movie is about an alien invasion of a single block in a single city and the gangstas that defend their turf, their block, surviving on pure testosterone-fueled bravado and helpful insight from a white pot-smoking University student who took a biochemistry class or two.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

The Prisoner (2009)

On the strength of Ian McKellen portraying a main character in the show, I watched the 2009 remake of "The Prisoner," a six-part series about a man who wakes up in what he believes to be a cleverly designed prison. The plot reminds me of a current subplot in the third season of "The Walking Dead," where two women are refugees in a safe town that they suspect to be a secret tyranny run by a deceptive villain. Or at least, one of the women suspects this.

I hate to say I agree with most of the critics about "The Prisoner." It is a bit incoherent and unsatisfying to this viewer. I suppose I'm old-fashioned but I like to enjoy a coherent plot that I can relate to, not something that resembles a rather paranoid trip. I was particularly disappointed because Ian McKellen is such a fine actor, superb as Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Gandalf is like this wise man that has the answer for everything, in my opinion the embodiment of Tolkien's philosophy. Tolkien was that thoughtful Christian with a heretical fantasy theology, defined in "The Simarillion," a book I found impenetrable as a young man but have enjoyed lately.

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

Dream of my Father

I just realized that the title of my post is similar to the title of Obama's book. Oh well, too bad. I don't think one can copyright a title, and there aren't many possible configurations of a four-word title anyway. Somehow I don't think a lawyer's going to be sending me a nastygram about it. Irrelevancy does have its advantages.

I can't remember a good dream about my father. Last night, I dreamed I was still living in that house, a teenager, and he was busily searching my room from top to bottom, as he often did, searching for contraband, weed being top on the list, followed occasionally by other things, such as paraphenalia, like a homemade bong, or a lighter, or even matches, or ashes, or rolling papers, or tobacco or clove cigarettes, though I stopped smoking them later, nasty habit. He was tearing apart my room, throwing my things on the floor, because he was "suspicious," his favorite word, and when he did look at me on occasion it was with a leer, letting me know he enjoyed this little game, it was a lot of fun for him. I called him what he was, a sadistic bastard, and he pretended to be outraged and grounded me for weeks or months or took away my favorite possession, my computer, on which I spent all my free time programming in BASIC, so that I would be spurred on by boredom to go out with my friends and buy weed from somebody. He loved it, he loved every moment of it, the battle of wills between us, making me suffer and watching the expression on my face. I knew he loved it because he would smile and laugh at me, "hee hee hee hee hee," more like the cackle of the wicked witch from the Wizard of Oz, and congratulate himself on being such a good parent, such an upstanding moral example. He loved prancing around, acting the moralist, the man who never had sex with his wife anymore, who let her do all the housework while he sat around watching television all the time or napping. Always he was at war with either my brother or me or sometimes, for a special treat, both. He always found the thing one of us loved and took it away or made it scarcer. The Grinch he was. And Mr. Grabby Hands besides, although he put a cork on that once I reached the venerable age of twelve.

Weed was expensive in those days and difficult to come by, besides being pretty weak. It was mostly stems and seeds, the shake of the Colombian harvest, and for those of you who do not know, stems and seeds have little or no THC content. Most THC is located in the buds, while some is on the little leaves next to the buds, and a very small amount is in the big fan leaves, but next to nothing is found in stems and seeds, yet they contribute much weight to the product of a dealer selling to inexperienced kids like me, maximizing his profit. I never had a good source, but always somebody taking advantage. In truth this Colombian had the same effect as a weak beer, but my father's rationale was that marijuana was illegal, so it was forbidden, end of story, no negotiation. It didn't matter that the marijuana had little effect other than as an antidepressant. Occasionally he did find alcohol in my room as well, and since I was underage that too was forbidden, but punished much less since it was not very illegal, only a little bit illegal. Later on I concluded that weekend alcoholism was okay in his book so I adopted that practice, drinking on weekends.

I didn't do many other drugs due to my dread of their effects, because I wasn't ignorant about drugs at all. Coke was available, but I thought it was stupid putting something up the nose and never felt tempted. I still don't understand the appeal. My brother rolled up a dollar bill and set up some lines for me once, twice, three times, different occasions. I only tried it once, because of his incessant urging, a half-hearted try, just to shut him up, and I don't think I got more than a line snorted, and it was weak stuff to begin with. I didn't feel much of anything. Probably mostly baking soda with a little bit of ground-up caffeine pills and cocaine, was my belief then and now. That's a perennial problem with coke, it isn't easy to get the genuine product. Glad I skipped that train, but it certainly wasn't my father's doing. Coke would have been a lot easier to hide in my room.

If he didn't find any weed, that meant I had successfully concealed my stash somewhere. He never was satisfied I didn't have any, that was impossible in his ideology, because all resistance and all obstinence and disobedience was the result of marijuana, nothing else. He was absolutely convinced that marijuana was the sole representative of Satan Incarnate. I think it was his fanaticism on this point that persuaded me to keep using marijuana, because I began joining him in his game, finding the amusement in it. I decided he wanted to find marijuana, he was just putting on that he didn't, and that was probably true. He always had a big sense of joy every time he found something and was frustrated and dejected when he didn't. So this was a big game between my father and me that we played for years until I was eighteen or so.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, November 11, 2012

XBMC's Black Screen

XBMC is a Zen video player for Linux. Instead of video, XBMC plays no-video for the no-mind and the no-body. When I click on XBMC, I get a black screen, and the keyboard and mouse no longer work, because after all, there is nothing more important than meditation, and one does not require a mouse or keyboard in order to meditate. Nor does one require video. Or even a computer for that matter. So XBMC is Zen in its purest form. I can only assume that the developers have achieved enlightenment, entered Nirvana and left this world of suffering behind. I have not yet achieved enlightenment, so I decided to uninstall XBMC and revert to slow but functional VLC.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

TIME Magazine

I got the latest TIME and was impressed by its unusual heft. The heft wasn't all additional advertising, as I had suspected, but actual news articles concerning something other than the latest Hollywood movie. The last issue devoted 27 pages to the latest movie by Spielberg. I wonder how much Spielberg paid TIME for that amount of advertising. I also wonder why I should be paying for a magazine that is composed of advertising and not news.

Would this issue of TIME mark the brand new, never-before-seen inclusion of investigative journalism and tell me something that I did not already know? Would this issue be reality-based, or a bunch of rumors and half-truths? Unfortunately, TIME squandered all its pulp to analyze the election and the supposed technical, financial, demographic and logistical factors behind Romney's defeat, based upon its various sources in the rumor mill. I scanned those articles but found them beside the point. I don't expect that many people in the media will get the point. At any rate none of it was interesting to me, and I went back to Doris Lessing and her confessions of being a Communist divorcee in Southern Rhodesia. Yes, even that was more interesting.

Who won was a function of the candidates themselves, the ideas they espoused and how those ideas resonated with the electorate. I don't expect Republicans to gather any clues from the election. Republicans never take rides on the clue canoe. The only likely change is they will become more extreme and crazy than before to reflect their base. The Republican party is the extreme right wing, while the Democratic party is the moderate right wing. There is no left wing political party in the United States. Anyone who looked at Obama's policies for five minutes without bias would conclude that Obama is a conservative. In large part he continues the policies of his predecessors Bush and Clinton, which is why his relations with the former Presidents remain so good. Romney, at least the latest version, was not a conservative, but a radical Social Darwinist who promised extreme change that would result in unnecessary suffering and additional warfare and debt. There were enough voters in 2012 that perceived enough of this to make the crucial difference--more than enough voters, as a matter of fact, because the margin was not as close as pundits predicted. Romney lost not just the Electoral College, but the popular vote as well, and he lost in all those battleground states that the Republicans were boasting they would carry, and in doing so he squandered hundreds of millions of dollars from his unethical donors. Perhaps his supporters on the ground were uninspired by his background at Bain Capital, his flip-flopping on issues, and his fumbling of words and facts. But the central problem was Romney's ideology, and I am pleased to predict that Republicans will never admit that in a million years, because introspection is unknown to Republicans. No, they will continue to commit the same old errors, which bodes well for the opposing party of the future, be it Democrats, Greens or Libertarians.

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

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Doris Lessing

I spent the entire day reading Doris Lessing's autobiography and came to dislike her. Maybe she would feel likewise reading me, I don't doubt.

So she was a Communist, fine. Get over it. Plenty of people were back then. It's not a big deal. All of this hand-wringing and agonizing and "how could I have thought such and such" was unappealing. Like we haven't heard about repentant Communists before. I found her too circumspect. She wants to place the spotlight upon every iota of her own being and that of others in order to indulge her guilt fantasy. I want to tell her to stop it, for your reader's sake stop it and just let things be for once, do whatever it takes to stop all of this dreadful, unending slicing and dicing of every thought and feeling, just let things be. After a couple hundred pages I felt a headache coming on and had to put the book down.

I much prefer Anne Rice's early novels about vampires. Anne Rice could be riveting back in the day, before her light faded.

I will not take Doris Lessing with me to work again, that's for sure. She can only be absorbed in small doses. Her books make passable bathroom reading material, two to five minutes at a time.
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mental Illness

In the end, or rather before the end, my father's mental illness killed his relationship with me. After he reached a certain age, I found it impossible to communicate with him. I visited him several months ago. He does not see me. He looks through me, as though I am just an abstract idea. He talks at me rather than with me. His face is a mask, he conceals what he really feels, what he really thinks, because his mind has many unpleasant thoughts and feelings, a beehive of little demons that must be kept in, lest they sting and sting. Once when I spoke with him for five hours into the wee hours of the morning he started telling me that a stranger he passed in the mall was spying upon him using an electronic listening device. When I went to bed that night I wondered whether he would come into my room and stab me, because maybe I was spying on him too, maybe I was in league with them, maybe I was actually the stranger, using a clever disguise to appear as his son.
His mind today thrives upon anger. He is always searching for something to get angry about. He is never willing to admit the slightest fault. He demands that everyone pretend as though he is always right and always perfect. I think it is a coping mechanism that helps him deal with his depression. So he will die alone having written me and possibly my brother out of his will because he is angry at us. He is always angry at either my brother or me. I cannot remember a time when he was not. He sought to use his will as a tool to manipulate us, except I refused to be manipulated. If he writes me out then so be it. I feel like he gives a lie to all the things he used to say and the things he used to swear. More often I recall the bad things he did to us, the lies he said to us. Less do I recall any good.

I remember when I was a boy, my father instilled in me the fantasy that we were special, that our family was special, that he was special, and that I was special, but I came to find out later that none of that was true, rather we were ordinary and powerless and poor and humble in abilities and resources, and as for our family, well, it was dysfunctional due in large part to his mental illness and the poor decisions that he made, and now our family is thrown to the four winds, for Mother at last acquired the strength and wisdom to leave him, and today he is not even willing to speak to his own children out of pettiness and spite, a pattern he has followed off and on for decades, for his whole life. No, we are not special in any way, and I am glad the line ends with me, I am glad I was cautious, because there is nothing really worth going to the trouble and expense of replicating, as I look around the world and observe so much genius and creativity in others. My father was proud without a basis for his overweening pride, and as a youngster I absorbed this pride and claimed it for my own, but now I feel different, I question the basis for this pride, and feel humble. I feel empty also and think that much was random and meaningless. It is a strange thing to recall being close to one's father long ago, and knowing now that he wouldn't even answer the phone if I were to call, because of his sickness of the mind. For years I thought my life's achievement would be an autobiography, or at any rate a derivative book of some kind, but now I realize that no one would read it in the first place, because autobiographies are for the famous, and there's nothing remarkable about us, we were just another family living in a certain period in a certain area. I prefer allowing my memory to decay and fade, for dust to pile upon the dust. To disturb old ghosts again is not my wish, nor do I want to preserve in words those who don't deserve it. So he will fade into darkness and I will follow in due course and that will be that. When I look back I see so many lies, so much nonsense, none of it was important at all.
I rememPost a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Right Wingers and Their Guns

There was a bald guy out at work that resembled this detritus and looked me in the eye one morning and said that all Democrats should be shot.

The more right-wing a person is, the more evil, the more likely they are to inflict suffering and harm upon living things.Post a Comment
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Romney Loses, America Wins

I am relieved that President Obama won reelection. This was an important juncture in the history of our world. The ballot initiatives and other state and local elections are also encouraging, giving me cause for optimism about the goodness and understanding of our people. It is pleasant when honesty, decency and fairness prevail over the forces of evil.

Should anyone be surprised that the former slave states voted for Romney? With some exceptions they will remain Republican until successive generations loosen the iron neck-collar of the right wing, which beats the drum for division, anger, and war. Had Bush #3 won, the United States would have gotten entangled in yet another overseas conflict, because that is the only thing the right wing knows how to do, make war upon their numerous enemies. They have waged war upon gays, upon women, upon racial minorities, upon foreigners, upon our environment, upon workers, and they are accustomed to making war for the sheer love of war--they do not require a proper reason for war. Romney had no other skills, for he never built a business, but rather destroyed businesses in order to make easy money, and he never worked a single day in his entire life, but was a vulture circling for easy scraps, and to distract attention away from his shortcomings, away from his lack of empathy and his callous disregard of living things, he would have succumbed to the same temptation that Bush #2 found irresistible, warfare, the crack cocaine of the right wing, their fix, their jolt in the arm, their kick.Post a Comment
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China's Hackers

Those of us in tech already know China's on the move in cyberspace. The Russians and the Chinese are targeting not only military, but web sites and computers everywhere without regard to their role or function. Motives vary, and old-fashioned state espionage probably isn't at the top of the list, but the Internet remains a Wild Wild West out there.Post a Comment
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Monday, November 5, 2012

Downton Abbey's Deja Vu

I had a real sense of deja vu watching last night's Downton Abbey (Season 3, episode 8), where Thomas was leaving Downton Abbey after ten years of reliable service without a reference for being gay. Except in my case, there weren't warmhearted senior employees looking out for me, more like a gang of O'Brians looking after their own ends. Downton Abbey is just a wonderful fantasy about what life could be like, and I'm always dazzled by the kindness of the characters on the show, the way they are so compassionate and enlightened in the most unexpected ways. Perhaps it is unrealistic, but we need a good fantasy, and I love the set, the acting, the script and the costumes.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Over the Moon with Linux Mint

Ground control had a lot of work to do pulling all-nighters and unpaid weekends, but now I'm over the Moon with Linux Mint Maya. Couldn't be happier.

As Bob Marley said,

Don't worry
bout a ting, 'cause
every little ting...
gonna be all right.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Linux Firewall Won't Play Fair

Perhaps one day, my Linux will get a firewall. For now, I can't make heads or tails of the Linux firewall. If I enable it and deny incoming, then no matter what exceptions I make for to, that box is OFF the network. I might as well cut the ethernet cable with a pair of scissors.

Three hours down the drain tonight trying to get the firewall working. I watched video, read three tutorials and twenty forum messages--nothing availed.

Will I recommend Linux to anybody? Yes, people I don't like.

The regrettable truth, and I don't like saying it, is that folks would be better off paying $1000 for a single copy of Windows XP 32-bit. What's that? Windows XP only costs $100 on Ebay? What a bargain. Buy it now.

Update: I finally got the firewall working right(er) at 05:21, after picking up a subtle clue on a stray tutorial somewhere out there in Internet land. Turns out the other tutorials, forum messages, Youtube video, et al were all wrong about how to whitelist IP ranges. The From...To thing doesn't work for me. I tried it six ways to Sunday. Seems broken. What does work is adding one single exception to allow Incoming. I found that whitelisting in the "From" field--and leaving the To field blank--does the trick. That single line was ALL that was needed to permit local network shares to continue functioning. Period.

Now I'm going to work on whitelisting the outgoing connections. Nah, scratch that. Save it for tomorrow. 05:43, you know, it's time for me to get some shut-eye.

I felt a little guilty about all the bellyaching I've been doing in my blog about Linux Networking until I read some asides from experienced Linux gurus that basically said they just about yanked their router out of the wall and threw it out the window. I think frustration is fairly widespread. Of course, the truth is I did have trouble configuring Windows networking, too. Not as much trouble by about five to one, but I did have some difficulty. The thing with Windows is its all graphical and options are quite limited (protecting the user from himself) and the documentation available on the Internet is comprehensive, even without Microsoft, and I've never used Microsoft technical support in all my days.

Once you get Linux working, there's a sense of "Oh, wow, this is neat!" and a feeling of remorse ensues. Now why did I ever, ever doubt my darling, free, lovely Linux? how could I be so fickle? so...disloyal, when Linux has done everything for me? Yeah, I do feel pangs of conscience, which is weird, I know.

When it works, it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. When it doesn't, if you can't figure it out after many long hours of trying, then you want to throw it out the window. That's the cardinal truth about computers, doesn't matter if it's Linux or anything else.

I guess I'm just relieved that Linux is logical after all, that I finally proved that it is a system based upon rules that I can actually understand if I just deduce what those rules are in the first place. Unfortunately, documentation is lacking, to put it mildly, which is why I spent 99% of my time researching on the Internet and only 1% actually doing something. There are secrets hidden away that you can never discover in a million years unless you read the secret straight from the hand of an experienced guru.

Update2: I've since revised my firewall to rule to allow instead because that seems to be more or less what everybody else is doing, and with my ignorance, they're probably right and I'm probably wrong.  Not really sure but it's working with that so I'll keep it. Had to give up on trying to configure firewall rules for outgoing. Seems like a bear, and I don't know whether it is strictly necessary.

In my opinion, Linux security has to be taken with a grain of salt, because 90% of all users are going to disable the settings just like me because they are frankly incomprehensible gobbledygook. So Windows has the security advantage I think of the two operating systems. I'm sure for the Linux guru the security can become nigh invulnerable, but for the rest of us, we are going to do everything we can to disable security, because otherwise nothing works right on a network.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Finally, Linux

Well, after nine days of Linux networking hell experiments, I finally got all my shared folders on Linux Mint 13 64-bit Mate showing up on my Windows network. I can tell you the solution involved not just one configuration file, but about five or six, and I had help from several different web sites and tutorials, and not any one of them proved to be the cure-all, although it's true I was branching out and doing other things I learned along the way to optimize my system, like replacing LABELS for my partitions with UUIDs in fstab, which helps to avoid problems when connecting new drives, and specifying "noatime" on each partition to stop Linux from keeping track of file accesses.

The last remaining obstacle that caused me much grief was that in Linux, setting permissions for a directory is not enough, not by a long shot. You must also check the permissions of the directory that that directory is stored in. When I set up the parent directory's permissions to permit access by others, that's when things turned around, like presto. Until then, I was very confused indeed.

It sure would be nice if there were some kind of auto-config utility that would walk users through the process of setting up a simple home network. I don't know why it has to be such an arduous process in 2012. There are things I could be learning about that would be of greater advantage than this, because nobody hires network admins without years of corporate experience, so my experience here is useless to anyone but myself. Be that as it may, I'm done.

Despite all my belly-aching I'm sticking with Linux Mint as long as she works, for the important reason I've already invested a boatload of time getting things set up and there's no way I'm going through all that nonsense again. This blog functioned as a release valve for all the frustrations I had repairing my network after switching one box from Windows to Linux.

My next project, scheduled for a long time from now, is to backup the Linux box to ensure that even if the hard drive fails, I won't have to conduct further experiments and headaches learning exercises.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

How to Vote on Ballot Initiatives

My rule of thumb is that those who live in a red state where the right-wingers control the government should vote against a ballot initiative, no matter how it sounds, because it is most likely evil.

In blue states, greater effort is required to evaluate ballot initiatives.  I like to examine a sample ballot prior to voting and do my research on the Internet prior to entering the booth. It is not really possible to understand a ballot initiative based on the descriptions given. For my part, I'd be in favor of anything that expands the rights of the individual, such as marijuana legalization, and against anything that siphons off resources from public services, such as charter schools, which are just a gimmick to grab state money for conservative right-wing Church schools.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments


I'm either indecisive or cautious. I've got three hard drives sitting by an open case, each with a different OS: 32-bit Win SP3, Linux Mint 13 64-bit Mate, & OpenSUSE 12.2 64-bit KDE. OpenSuse / KDE I like a great deal, because of its professional demeanor, well-designed and modern and minimalist, but I realize OpenSUSE doesn't mean Open Sesame!, that is to say, it won't auto-config the network for me, and the thought of copying all the files that need copying and configuring all the things that need configuring is, well, daunting. OpenSUSE has been put on hold while I tap into a new reserve of patience that comes with a new day.

Last night, in my Google-powered research, I found a blog that teaches how to set up Samba in a very clear and concise manner--very appealing, even tailored to my specific purpose, and if it works, then I will be linking to that site on this blog out of gratitude. I will certainly go back to Linux Mint if the network issue can be ironed out, because I have a feeling the other issues won't be quite as difficult.

Windows 32-bit is a last resort, because that old thing can't support > 2 tb drives. Fine for most desktops, but definitely limited as far as future potential goes, and the 32-bit thing just irritates me when 64-bit has been supported by cpu's for a decade or so.
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by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Friday, November 2, 2012

OpenSUSE 12.2: First Impressions

I've always had a weak spot for OpenSUSE, maybe because I love the color--green--and the cute lil lizard. On the technical end, it boasts the latest Linux kernel among just about all the major distros, including Linux Mint, and that's important to me because the later versions include improvements for the AMD/ATI GPU.

I decided to attempt to install in UEFI mode, which didn't work with Linux Mint 13 for some reason. With Open SUSE 12.2, my Network Install CD didn't get anywhere, and I don't know why because I couldn't read the text on the screen due to the boot manager displaying with 1600x1200 resolution on my 800x600 screen. So I threw that install CD in the garbage can and downloaded and burned a full installation DVD, 4.3 GB. I had a much better experience with that. Everything worked. My ASUS E350M1-M motherboard booted the OpenSUSE 12.2 Install DVD in UEFI mode, and OpenSUSE for its part partitioned my drive using the latest and greatest GPT rather than grandmother's MBR.

From the get-go I had the feeling that yes, this is a professional operating system, and just maybe this compares with Windows. Due to my building confidence in OpenSUSE I decided to just accept all the defaults and I haven't regretted it yet. KDE looks light-years above Gnome, although there does seem to be a few things I need to learn about it. The look and feel, though--definitely OpenSUSE has it.

I'm going to print out all the documentation I can from the web site tonight and read the entire manual. You know what, with Linux Mint the manual was outdated by two versions or so and wasn't much to begin with, just a collection of platitudes for the most part and reasons why Linux Mint is the greatest OS on Earth. I will see whether OpenSUSE is any different. I hope that it is. Right now I have a very favorable impression of OpenSUSE based on the ease of installation and the fact it didn't hiccup over UEFI. Plus, it's beautiful.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Adios, Linux Mint; Hello, OpenSUSE

After two weeks, I'm still not able to reliably network my linux box. It's erratic. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn't, and sometimes strange error arise, and if I solve the error, then another one crops up, and another, and another besides, and some of these are old errors I've seen before, and some are new ones. Sometimes Linux Mint gets into moods and when it boots, something is broken, for an unknown reason. It regularly forgets the proper screen resolution, 800x600, and bumps me up to 1600x1200, rendering the display very difficult to read. I don't know who thought Linux Mint was user-friendly, because I've been doing nothing but pouring over online tutorials on editing /etc/smb.conf using a text editor (the 1980's style of business) and I've gotten exactly nowhere. I would only recommend LM to someone that does not have a network and never plans on getting one.

I have about the simplest network in creation, all connected by wire. Linux has me spinning my wheels all week long trying to get Linux shares to show up in Windows. Always there is "Access Denied," if the shares show up at all. So Linux wins an A+ for security, an F- for usability. I think that a rock would be a better operating system for networking purposes, because I can throw the rock and hit another computer with it, but I can't get anything to hit Linux. I've followed at least twenty tutorials online and read so many forum messages that my eyes are burning, and nothing works.

My next project is to try OpenSuse, on the hypothesis that it has smoother networking capability than Linux Mint. If that doesn't work out for me, then it's back to Windows. I'd rather be programming than running back and forth between computers to see whether a share can be accessed or not. Bo--ring! Now I know why I went into programming rather than network administration.Post a Comment
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions