Friday, May 31, 2013

The Vikings Are Coming

Vikings is a new show that every student of history should watch. It smacks of historical accuracy to me. The script is fairly well-written, too, depicting a primitive era in European history, the Dark Ages. Christianity and all the other sacred cows of Western civilization are treated in a fair, objective manner. I was skeptical at first, but the show won me over with its good characterizations, realistic action and realistic dialogue.

As a side note, I found it amusing to imagine that Vikings depicts not only our past but our future, after various calamities foreseen and unforeseen descend upon our planet. Such a thought can only amuse one who expects to be dead by such a time. I am an optimist. I expect all now living to be dead before our civilization collapses into barbarism.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Linux? I Don't Even Know What That Is

I told one of my clients today that I use Linux, and they replied, "I don't even know what that is." My client was sick of Windows 8 and wanted to dial back to Windows 7, so without thinking twice, she bought a copy from a local retail store. Of course, Microsoft wins; they sold her both Windows 8 and Windows 7, which makes for quite an expensive operating system--about $150, all told. Microsoft is being rewarded for making a turkey out of Windows 8.

In my view, she'd be better off with Linux, but how can I suggest a thing she never even heard of? Linux deserves better name recognition, but what can be done? One can point out that most of the web sites in the world run on Linux, and that mobile devices often use Linux, but that is not quite as apparent as the brand one sees on almost every laptop or desktop.

What deters me from recommending Linux even more is that mainstream Linux distros have little issues, and Linux gurus or even Linux journeymen are thin on the ground. She can't ask her friend, neighbor or nephew for help with a Linux system. That's quite a disadvantage.

Could I in good conscience recommend Kubuntu? Nope. My Kubuntu 13.04 system running KDE 4.10.3 is now booting up with two blankscrn.kss windows for no apparent reason. Do I really want her calling me on the phone asking what is wrong with Kubuntu and how did it get infected by a virus? Then there was the problem I wrestled with where Kubuntu dialed the clock back three hours. I had to use the command line to fix that problem and some pretty arcane syntax, too.

Could I recommend Open Suse 12.3? Nope. Open Suse won't install a printer for anybody but a bonafide geek. Open Suse will give an error message the minute she tries connecting to the Internet. Open Suse will give an error message on her very first update after installation, because even after all these years, the devs haven't learned to remove the dvd from the repository list. I wouldn't recommend Open Suse to anybody.

The only Linux distro I'd feel safe recommending to a low-tech individual would be Linux Mint Xfce or Cinnamon, but there again, Linux users are thin on the ground, so anybody who ventures into the Linux world has to be comfortable browsing and researching online forums and wikis in order to resolve the occasional unforeseen and the unexpected. I am comfortable and I think extremely good at performing online research, but the average user is not. The average user wants to speak to somebody on the phone or better yet, ask someone in person. At least with Windows, everybody and their brother knows a little something and the herd can help each other cope with Windows' eccentricities.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I Love Deleting Comments

Out there in Internet-land, SEO scumbags are paying a bunch of needy nerds about ten dollars an hour to leave comments on blogs like mine. I mark such comments as spam and delete them. Ha-ha, game over, wah-wah-wah.

Takes me all of five seconds to clock SEO shills. For the record, igor was not born yesterday.

I see these shady Internet jobs on E-lance all the time. E-lance was made for crap jobs like that. I may be a needy nerd myself, but there are certain jobs I don't deign to do for ethical reasons. The money is beside the point. I can't stomach the thought of ever being a spammer that promotes crap sites on the Internet. Now if the site were worth a damn, that might be another question, but I don't work for the unethical or the ignorant.

I wish more people had scruples about who they work for. The world would be a better place. Homo Sapiens 2.0 needs to have a faculty in the brain that refuses to behave like a slave--refuses to work for evil ends.

Attack-bots Hitting Wp-Login on Wordpress Sites

I've noticed in my log recently that thousands of bots have been hitting wp-login.php repeatedly, despite being served 403 pages. I am not sure of the motivation of the attackers. However, thousands of hits on a .php file certainly can be a drain on system resources.

I developed a simple method of reducing the impact of wp-login attackers. After my deny-froms, I placed the following code in my .htaccess file. It is useful for Wordpress sites that do not permit users other than the administrator to log in, and where the admin uses a static IP address, which is an ideal scenario for security purposes. I should note that wp-login is specifically disallowed in my robots.txt and that there is no link to it on the Wordpress site in question. Thus, my code will not ensnare rule-abiding bots such as Google's.

My code is not applicable to all Wordpress sites. Some WP sites let users register and log in. I opted not to go that route, because our site is such a small one that I doubt anyone would remember their password. Our users can leave a comment by logging into a popular social media site.

#Block WP attackers
RewriteEngine on
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %(REMOTE_ADDR) !^www\.xxx\.yyy.\zzz
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/wp-login [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/wp-admin [NC,OR]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} ^/install.php [NC]
RewriteRule .* - [F,L]
Place any static IP addresses that admins use in the above code (where is). The code should exclude the IP addresses of legitimate users--admins--who log-in to the site. One could exclude multiple IP addresses by adding more conditional lines.

The first conditional statement checks the IP address. If it does not match (indicated by the exclamation mark), then if the user is requesting the wp-login, wp-admin, or install page, that user is redirected to the 403 page. All of this happens without engaging the database or invoking any php code, so it is fast and efficient and minimizes the toll of the attack bots on system resources. I have banned the IP addresses of the vast majority of these attackers, but I notice a certain percentage do slip through with novel IP addresses, so this is a way of preventing them from forcing the server to load and interpret wp-login.php.

My 403 page consists of a mere 500-odd bytes with links intended to tempt bots to visit various spam-bot hells around the Internet, where they may encounter honeypots, investigators, bogus email addresses, bogus links, and in general waste a lot of their time and effort and generate no data of any use at all to them.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Game of Thrones Drones

Where did we get so many Game of Thrones drones? I watched the first episode and tuned out. There wasn't a single character on the show whose fate I cared about. The story seemed uninteresting and cliche-ridden. I scarcely remember what the story was about. Something about stupid people scheming and plotting to do wicked things. Yet I hear Game of Thrones and even the pathetic Borgias mentioned in the same article as masterpieces like The Tudors or Rome. And the maddening and repetitive House must be in its tenth season by now. I can't account for the chasm between my tastes and that of the general public. Seems to me that when I love a show, such as Tudors, So You Think You Can Dance, Canada? or Rome, television executives pull the plug. When I hate a show, that's when it becomes such a hit that I can't read an article anywhere without it being praised to the heavens.

For the record, I've watched the U.S. and U.K. versions of So You Think You Can Dance..., and Canada had the best version by far, but it was discontinued after season four, because the other shows were envious of how good it was. Nigel, the judge who appears on both the U.S. and U.K. version, to me is unwatchable, whereas Canada's Jean-Marc and his amiable comrades are easy on the eyes and ears.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Suffocating Under Prescription Laws

Today, the restrictions on life-saving medicine are an obvious manifestation of Social Darwinism. Medicines such as Albuterol, the rescue inhaler for asthmatics, require a prescription by an expensive medical doctor. Readers unfamiliar with Albuterol should know that is a non-narcotic medicine that asthmatics require on occasion when their asthma acts up. It is not typically something that one takes on a daily basis, but rather as needed, such as during allergy season. Inability to obtain Albuterol can lead to death by suffocation at the utmost, or costly visits to indifferent nurse practitioners at expensive, far-away medical clinics in order to obtain a script for twenty-five doses of the common generic drug, Albuterol. A visit may cost as much as a hundred dollars, not counting the Albuterol itself, which is additional. Always the words on the label read "NO REFILL," guaranteeing another visit a few months down the line and another hundred dollars flushed down the toilet. Making Albuterol difficult to obtain is unethical, because it increases the risk that an asthmatic will die of suffocation.

Why is Albuterol a prescription drug in the first place? That's a good question that would be difficult to answer without cynicism. Almost every drug that does anything requires a prescription. The reason is the government thinks people are idiots. Some people are idiots, sure. But most people would rather be given the benefit of the doubt. I believe one should assume that people will make wise choices, given adequate information, and yet even if they do not, it is better that they should be given a choice. My belief is a natural extension of my bias toward democracy. Those who are authoritarian take the opposite view, that only an authority should decide what is best for an individual. I suppose one's stance on this issue reflects one's political affiliation. There are some that would be happier in Iran or China, being told what to do and what not to do all the time.

In my view, doctors should not have an exclusive monopoly on prescribing life-saving medicine. In order to justify such a monopoly from the ethical perspective, doctors would have to always be available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to instantly write a script to anyone who needs it at no cost. This, of course, is impossible for anyone, let alone a doctor. Doctors are hardly available at all, and when they are seen it is at great cost and at their convenience, not the convenience of the suffering. I conclude that prescription and indeed drug laws in general will have to be revisited in a future society founded upon ethics. I doubt that any change will happen in my lifetime, but perhaps future generations will come around to a similar viewpoint as expressed here.

No Blog Writer in Linux

Today with my Muon Software Center, I explored Blog Writers in the Linux world. The first one I tried is apparently the flagship blog writer for KDE, Blogilo. Unfortunately development appears to have ended in 2010 from what I observed in the About window. Blogilo doesn't have any help screens despite having help buttons, and won't auto-config Blogger, instead reporting error messages that don't make a whole lot of sense. If Blogilo's devs haven't figured out the auto-config or help screens, but left these options in the program anyway, then maybe they haven't figured out how to keep the password safe either. I wonder whether Blogilo would save me any time at all over writing posts directly in Blogger. I suspect not.

The other apps available seem no better than Blogger itself from what I read in the reviews section on Muon. Come to think of it, using Blogger isn't half bad. The only thing I don't like about it is that Blogger sometimes will erase a line at random. I think this is some kind of bug either in Firefox or KDE. I'm not sure, but I can restore the missing line by highlighting the text, so it is not a severe bug. This problem remains in KDE 4.10.3 and cropped up while I was writing this post. I tried to take a snapshot of the window, but when Ksnapshot popped up, the text was corrected. The bug seems to me to be related to the display driver. Having an AMD/ATI kludge may be the reason I have this issue. AMD/ATI does not provide decent support to the Linux world, which is why I only buy Intel nowadays.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kool! KDE 4.10.3 Ready for Kubuntu

Kubuntu has sorted KDE 4.10.3 and released it for all of Kubuntopia, to include Linux Minties, one would assume, although their mileage may vary.

I admit to having been a trifle impatient, but you know what? I'm actually glad Kubuntu waited until they sorted everything out. Rush to release, the developer's version of the classical end user mental disorder upgradeitis, just about kills a KDE system every time. I have learned to prefer taking things slooooooow. Not Debian-slow, as in kernel version 3.2, but slow-er at any rate.

After upgrading and rebooting, my Kubuntu 13.04 greeted me with not one, but four blankscrn.kss windows. As I suspected, a second reboot eliminated the problem. I'm going to upgrade my Linux Mint 14 KDE laptop next. Hm--no updates available for Quantal tonight. Perhaps they found some problems with that.

Kenmore No More

I was about to buy another Kenmore window air conditioning unit when I noticed, after performing my customary, due-diligence online research, that Sears played switcheroo on their Kenmores. One model received an excellent rating from Consumer Reports. What do you think happened to that model? Sears discontinued it immediately, replacing it with a different model, a cheap, shoddily manufactured model that consumers don't like at all according to reviews. Seems rather sneaky to me and all too familiar. I have a Kenmore air conditioning unit myself, and the touchpad does not work anymore. Indeed, it quit working about a year after purchase. The unit is also noisy, and I had to make a lot of modifications to the side panels to block incoming outdoor air. All in all, I think Consumer Reports must be taken with a grain of salt when a Sears brand is being considered, because Sears likes to play cunning little games in order to save a couple pennies.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Peace Treaty with Spiders

I have known a lot of spider-killers in my day, and I wonder if they realize what good creatures spiders are, taking care of the little bugs for us. I have a peace treaty with spiders. If they are non-poisonous and stay out of the way, live and let live. The only spiders I would kill would be the brown recluse or black widow, which can cause immense suffering to human beings. I look for the hourglass mark, the sign of the black widow. I've found them on rare occasion in the garden. Poisonous spiders seem rare overall. The recluse really is a recluse, after all. However, spiders become annoying when they build webs in the hallways or living room. If spiders can't abide by simple household rules, they have to be ejected to the outdoors.

I saw a centimeter-sized specimen crawling along my wall this afternoon near my water pitcher. The thought occurred to me that perhaps I am not the only user of my water pitcher. I wonder what the water requirements of a spider are. Probably a sip once a month suffices. Upon reflection, I'm not willing to share my water with a spider. I think my open pitcher must be retired. It can be used to water plants, but not for human consumption. Live and let live does not mean we share water together.

Quantum Computing

I was impressed by Mr. Ross, the founder of D-Wave, who gave an excellent interview about his company's development of the world's first quantum computer. He seems like a smart guy that knows what he's doing, and he explained complicated subjects in an elementary manner suitable for grandma or junior. I hope the Chinese haven't stolen all his company's secrets, but I wouldn't place any bets on that, because while the cat's been away fooling around with Afghanistan and Iraq, China has been stealing cheese left and right. I wish he had explained the reasons why the quantum computer apparently requires near-absolute zero temperature and complete shielding even from the Earth's magnetic fields. I'm not sure how practical that will be for home users, because keeping something that cold would require kilowatts of electricity, and the kind of shielding needed to protect against magnetic fields probably will be expensive as well.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Patrick O'Brian Smart Pill

I think reading Patrick O'Brian on a daily basis boasts intelligence. I'm not sure how, but some of his brains rub off on the reader. He teaches good lessons, good habits, good ways of thinking, I suppose. Wisdom is in his work, and that's why I like him.

I'm sure it would be awfully tempting to write slash fiction depicting romantic intrigue between Stephen Maturin, Jack Aubrey, Preserved Killick, Tom Pullings, and possibly the parson, Martin. I'd do so, but I'm stopped before I begin because I know there must have been a hundred attempts before me. I missed the boat, I'm afraid. No Surprise there. O'Brian is so popular and so good that it stands to reason that dozens of his fans will write slash versions of his stories. Perhaps one day I must read some.

Post PC May Be OK For Some, Not Me

I often read in the media a premature obituary about the death of the desktop and how mobile gadgets are taking over the world. Maybe that is so. I know that a lot of my friends use mobile phones, although many also use desktops in addition to or instead of mobiles.

Although I'm sure mobile gadgets are useful for highly mobile individuals, such as salesmen and executive types, for the average person, I'm against mobile gadgets. If you invest in one of these traps, have fun buying a new gadget every two years when the old one has a minor glitch and has to be completely replaced with a brand new one. Gadget-makers do not encourage repair or tinkering. Gadget-makers do not design using the modular approach. Gadget-makers manufacture disposable items with planned obsolescence, which is bad for the environment and bad for the economy, because people have to keep buying the same products over and over. Me, I'm sticking with desktops, for several reasons, foremost of which is that if something goes awry, the modular design of the desktop allows me to swap out the bad part, like a bad hard drive, and plug in a good part. So I can "upgrade" for $100, tops, whereas those using mobile devices have to buy a whole new thingamajiggy. I have used the same case, scanner, and printer for over ten years. Ten years! It could have been even longer, because desktop cases simply last forever and ever. My desktop's other parts were not thrown away, but instead sold on Ebay, offsetting the cost of new parts. I never have to buy more than about $100 of parts to maintain my desktop. For the most part, nothing has ever broken--no piece of hardware has ever fried or burned or gone silent. The only reason I swap them out is to improve performance or increase storage. I find that desktops are more reliable because they are based on proven technology that has withstood the test of time. To a certain extent, even laptops enjoy something of this reliability, in comparison to less reliable phones.

My desktop can do about a hundred times more than a mobile ever could, because my desktop has high definition resolution, a real mouse, a real keyboard, real speakers, storage space measured in terabytes, and peripherals such as a printer, scanner, camera, microphone, and a network of other computers. When I go out, I like to experience the world, not tinker with my gadget--I do quite enough of that at home and need a break once in a while. The farthest I've gone towards mobility is buying a used $95 laptop, which works great with Linux Mint 14 KDE.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Eavesdropping on Journalists

After Lemonheart, my least favorite Obama administration official is Holder, the Attorney General. Now he's defending the seizure of email records of journalists. The media in this country is in a sorry state as it is, with newspapers and news magazines folding left and right, and here's the Administration hassling the few remaining journalists and undermining their work. I think the Obama administration behaved in a short-sighted and politically naive manner. Don't mess with the media, Mr. Nixon Obama!

Of course, the Republicans were worse under the Bush administration, and that's why the Democratic administration feels like it can get away with dirty tricks like this. That's what's so bad about electing a mediocre President like Bush--the bar is set so low that the next President feels like he can get away with this, that, and the other, because at least he's better than so-and-so. What a lousy state of affairs for a great country like the U.S. That's why we need a third party in this country, a liberal left-wing party to oppose the two conservative, right-wing parties, the Democrats and the Republicans.

The Democrats are conservative right-wingers of the modern era, and the Republicans are conservative right-wingers from the previous century. Stodgy, old-fashioned and out-of-touch doesn't say the half of it. I do like some representatives in Congress, current and former, but they are all Democrats. I don't know of a single senator or representative in the Republican party that fills me with awe, other than possibly Ron Paul on occasion, who is capable of surprising good sense. But when Ron talks about arcane points of economic policy or the value of gold and silver as currency or his opposition to gay marriage, the shine fades from his halo, and one perceives that he, too, is from the previous century, a time traveller just passing through.

Someone in the Obama adminstration was born yesterday. Baby thinks that everybody has one email address and it's their work account. Baby thinks you just spy on that one account and presto, problem fixed. Tee-hee! Baby is so cute.

Guess what, people have a lot of email addresses, because it's plain common sense. One needs an email address to offer up to the big corporations that are always hungry for ways to pester victims customers. That email account is the designated spam box, which companies can spam all they want, because it is only monitored once in a blue moon. Yahoo is a great choice for disposable email accounts of no importance, because it is easy to sign up for Yahoo. One has an email address for friends and family that the spammers don't know about--that will most likely by the ISP email account, which must be kept private, because once the spammers get hold of it, forget about it. One has an email address for business contacts that are untrusted, new contacts that potentially might be spammers or at any rate unreliable. One has an email address for trusted business contacts, and this email account will be monitored daily--Gmail is the best choice, because Gmail supports a mail reader which alleviates the need for password entry, a key feature of mail readers that is totally beyond the understanding of KDE developers, who think that everyone wants to enter their password each and every time they check their Kmail.

I imagine that the investigators at the Justice Department found a lot of politically useful information that they had no right to find, which they then shared with political operatives in the White House, but did not find the source of the leak, because it also stands to reason that the leaker would have used an untraceable throwaway email address. And I'm not at all persuaded that the Obama administration did not purposefully leak the information about Yemen after all. There is really no excuse for spying on journalists, and those who do so should be prosecuted for first-degree burglary.

Dear Kubuntu Developers

Dear Kubuntu Developers, if you're going to open a document in read-only mode, don't open it at all. Give an error message explaining about your lack of expertise in creating a desktop environment and suggest that the user delete Kubuntu from the system and install Linux Mint in its place. There's no pointing opening a document in read-only mode. It's a practical joke even to give the option at all. I can't count how many moments I've wasted watching LibreOffice open, only to find that I can't modify a document.

One thing I've decided is that Linux Mint 15 will be the death knell of my Kubuntu install. I'm going to wipe the drive clean of Kubuntu. I don't think the developers actually use the system. They just stick their names on the distro as a bragging point on their resume. If they used the system for more than a day, they would find all these gotcha's that I have found, and they wouldn't put up with it.

I have mixed feelings complaining about a free OS like Kubuntu. On the one hand, I didn't pay anything for it, so do I have the right to complain? With Windows, I have no such compunction, because I paid for Windows, so clearly I have a right to complain about it. I also voted in the Presidential election and every other election, so I feel like I have a right to complain about the President and other elected officials. I suppose in the case of Kubuntu, my complaint is more along the lines of disenchantment and disappointment. I want a Linux-based OS that I can recommend to friends and family. Kubuntu was just so close to being that magic bullet. But when odd screens pop up at boot-time called blankscrn.kss, what is that? That's a support call, that's what that is, and a very confused end user who will wonder how he got infected by a virus. That's how users think the world over--anything amiss is a computer virus. Then they start thinking they can't trust the OS and need to move back to Windows. The other thing about Kubuntu is that it opens documents in read-only mode. That will be a very lengthy support call, and everybody who adopts the OS is going to be asking why does Kubuntu open the document in read-only mode. The reason is Kubuntu is stupid. That's the only reason. When a user double-clicks on a file to open it in LibreOffice, the reason ninety-nine times out of a hundred is that he wants to make a little change. Kubuntu is making the grand assumption that people only want to read files. They never change files. That's a pretty arrogant assumption and an incorrect one, too. The actual result is that users are going to keep using Windows and not try Kubuntu for more than two hours. Users don't want to learn about sudo in order to get work done. They want a GUI that works the first time. If Linux wants the user to enter a password, fine, but at least offer the option to open as root. I think that's a good compromise between paranoid security and usability. And yes, I know there are add-ons available for Dolphin that will do this, but the vanilla install of Kubuntu does not, and that's another support call for every Kubuntu install that is ever used by a friend or family member.

An operating system should be what? An operating system should be elementary to understand and easy to use. That is rule #1. The second rule is to re-read the first rule to make sure it is not forgotten, because it is awfully important. If something is hairy and complicated, geeks might use it, but most people won't. I want an OS that I can recommend to most people, like my mother and my non-techie friends, not one that I have to modify to make usable.

May 16, 2013 Update:

One of Kubuntu's updates apparently fixed the blankscrn.kss issue. Today, the buggy windows didn't pop up. I don't know why, but that's nice, at any rate. My thinking now is I might weather the storm, stick with Kubuntu, and avoid the pain of installing a different distro.

Progress Consists of Relocating Wars Away from Home

Today, half of taxpayer money is wasted on the drug war, foreign wars, corruption, and welfare for the rich--completely wasted, with no return at all, and only negative effects arising from the foolish investments. That's bad, but then turn the clock back to 1813, and what do we have? America is reeling from the War of 1812, in which England and America fought for no really good reason other than stubborn pride. Tons of gold down the drain, and in the end, a peace treaty and a poorer England and a poorer America. The British burned Washington, D.C. in the war of 1812, but we won some battles both on sea and on land. Yahoo. If you were an English taxpayer back then, you'd throw your hands up in distress. The English government hadn't learnt a single lesson from the Revolutionary War back in the 1770s, which cost the English a vast fortune. Messing with the Americans never paid off for the British. It was a poor investment and an indicator of stupidity in the government. In much the same way, the U.S. didn't learn a single lesson from Viet Nam. We keep messing around with these cesspool nations full of ignorant and backward barbarians who live to fight and only know fighting and nothing else. Governments don't learn, in general. They remain stupid. Probably 80% of taxpayer money was wasted in early 1800s England on foreign wars, corruption and welfare for the rich. They didn't have the drug war back in those days, because they knew that drugs didn't matter, but they wasted much more money on foreign war, and their foreign wars were closer to home, and involved every single ship and soldier at their disposal. There was a foreign war every generation, like today, only because of one reason, because leaders are idiots and don't know what else to do with themselves. The only positive today is that our foreign wars don't involve the sacking and burning of our own cities like in 1812. That's nice, that they take place thousands of miles away. The further away, the better.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ooze Mini-Campaign by SpenceLack (Wesnoth)

The Ooze Mini-Campaign by SpenceLack has to be the best add-on campaign for Wesnoth yet. It's easy, funny and fun, just the sort of the game I like, although replay value is limited. However, "Ooze" stands out for its originality and wit, and I had more fun playing that easy campaign than all the others. I think that other campaign designers could learn a thing or two from SpenceLack about writing and campaign design. I often find the storyline in other campaigns tedious and skip past them after reading a few lines. Typically we have the same old saw along the lines of "I'm a-gonna getcha fer what you dun ta my folks!" "Oh no, you ain't, I'm gunna getchu first!" "Oh yeah?" "Yeah!" That gets old after a few repetitions, although to be sure it's the standard fantasy storyline. "Ooze" made me smile and appealed to my sense of perversity, and I looked forward to the continuing story with anticipation and curiosity. I was also delighted to find a new race, the ooze, a very interesting one, although limited in advancement capability.

Commune with the Dead

When reading Patrick O'Brian, one communes with the dead. The author has been dead for thirteen years now, and all the characters in his novel (some based upon real people and all based upon real history) are dead. I find it very pleasant to enter his world of the imagination, which remains very much alive, even though his body is not. I wonder which is the more real, the imagined reality or the reality we live in. Of course, the imagined reality of a great writer has far more endurance than a frail human body and pleases many more people. Almost all the writers I like are dead or, I'm afraid, soon will be, not that I feel it is a prerequisite of any kind, but each generation reads the work of the preceding generations, because a writer requires a long time to earn popularity and get established among publishers.

Cannabis also allows the shaman to open the door between living and dead and commune with various entities, but I think that great books provide a guided tour, a more interesting journey in many ways, the experience less physical and more cerebral. I have always felt that I would be completely satisfied reading select books by my favorite writers. If I lost the use of any of my limbs, like some of the innocent victims of the Boston bomber, it would not ruin my life unless I were unable to turn pages. I would adapt as long as I could continue reading, perform the basic necessities of life and communicate with others. The health problems that really worry me are ungovernable infection, such as antibiotic-resistant pneumonia, cancer, stones, heart disease, or the worst of all, mental dysfunction such as senility.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wesnoth 1.10.6 - Northern Rebirth - Stolen Gold - Bug - Can't Win

In Wesnoth's "Northern Rebirth" scenario, "Stolen Gold," the scenario objectives have a bug in the code. The player is supposed to win by resisting until turn 37. Instead, on turn 37, the player is defeated, contrary to the scenario objectives, which clearly state that only the death of the three unique commanders can cause defeat. I gave up on "Northern Rebirth," because there's no defeating the vast troll hordes without many hundreds of gold in one's purse, and mine only had about 200 g.p.

So in Wesnoth Solitary, I am stymied by trolls of one variety, and in Wesnoth Multiplayer, trolls of quite a different kind.

I suppose it's just about time for me to capitalize on having Kubuntu 13.04 by installing the development version of Wesnoth. It wouldn't work on Linux Mint 14, but I have a feeling that it will work on Kubuntu 13.04.

Wesnoth seems about the best game around for Linux. I've tried plenty of others, but Wesnoth is really fantastic. It exceeds expectations for a free open source game. In many ways I like Wesnoth better than Crawl. For one thing, Crawl is handicapped by a design flaw that the developers refuse to remedy--the game restarts at ground zero after a character's death. I coded a batch file to circumvent this undesirable behavior. Wesnoth's developers wisely opted not to go that route. They have an auto-save feature which saves the player a lot of time and trouble and compensates for the inevitable unfairness and arbitrary nature of the game. The point of a game is of course to have fun.

Userstyles.Org Wants Me to Work Harder

I was amused by the recent change over on All my .css styles have been evaluated by an automatic process for conformance to some standard of coding. Two of them have been highlighted in ugly mustard yellow, with red text warning me of minor anomalies. Well, you know, maybe I'll get around to fixing that next month, next year, or never. The thing is, the styles are useful to me, but I don't get anything for them from all the strangers that also find them useful. Vanity is nice and all, but I've also noticed that nobody posts any reviews or comments on my styles, so as far as I can see nobody else cares. If nobody cares, and the admin expects me to do more work, well, then maybe I don't care either. Maybe the admin over at can pay my hourly fee of $99.99 / hr, and then I might do something about it. Or he can start coughing up a share of his advertising revenue. The styles work great for me, and I could give two hoots about minor anomalies.

I'm reminded of all the work I did for a friend's web site for free. It was just about a full-time job. I worked on just about every aspect of the site, fixing links, refining the html, improving the menu system, even installing cron jobs to update content. Then one day, the owner of the site decides to take it down. Flip the switch. Presto, all gone, ha-ha. I have a backup collecting dust on a dvd somewhere, and one of our users also ripped the site before it went down without so much as a by-your-leave. Other than that, years of work flushed down the toilet with nothing at all to show for it. That has been the story of my life to date. Incredibly difficult work performed with sometimes heroic effort, but without much to show for it in the end. I'm a little choosier about the things I decide to work on nowadays. I also don't believe in hard work anymore. The point isn't to work harder. The point is to work smarter. Choosing the right kind of work and the right people to work for and the right conditions are all the critical decisions. Simply working harder, well, that's what the ants do, isn't it?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Does KDE Test at All?

From the number of problems I've noticed in my Kubuntu install, I'm starting to wonder whether KDE tests their stuff before releasing it. Maybe the end user is considered to be the tester? When Linux Mint 15 gets released, I think I'm going to give Xfce or Cinnamon a try and see whether it can boot up clean. Every boot, Kubuntu 13.04 gives me two empty blnkscrn.kss windows and a buggy error report on Thunderbird. I don't think KDE is ready for prime time yet. Certainly Xfce seems more stable than KDE and less error-prone.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Hooray for Jinkx

I was pleased to see that Jinkx Monsoon won the fifth season of RuPaul's Drag Race. However, I don't flatter myself for predicting her victory. To anyone paying attention, it was pretty clear who the top runner was. I also predicted that Ivy Winters would win Ms. Congeniality, but that too was obvious. One of the interesting little details about the fifth season is that Jinkx had a crush on Ivy Winters. I think that showed good taste. Ivy Winters looks better male than female. However, Jinkx is something else. She is one of many drag queens I would like to see on a regular TV show. She has a great talent for acting. She just needs good lines, although she's competent at impromptu. I think she's pretty amazing, and if Hollywood doesn't have a producer that can imagine her in a television show, then that's Hollywood's loss.

Although I am a bonafide fan, I cringed reading the bio on her web site. I absolutely cringed, and my heart sank. She comes across as too arrogant by half. Every other sentence boasts of her intellect. You know, intelligence is a funny thing. It should be self-evident; there is no need for trumpet-blowing. And also there is the danger, no matter how intelligent one thinks oneself, there is always someone more intelligent, who will laugh at one's boasts. Intelligence is all a matter of perspective. Summa cum laude, indeed. But I may be hypersensitive to a fault I also share, because have I not also boasted of those three Latin words, the finest decoration for a bachelor's degree? After all, did we not work hard in college in order to achieve summa cum laude? Don't we deserve some credit? Is the trophy without value? Yet I have qualms about how it is perceived. I've never gotten a job on the strength of summa cum laude. As far as I can see, no one cares about academic honors besides those in academia. Even a college degree has no value in terms of employment. A bachelor's degree translates into a minimum wage job in today's America.

But perhaps the author, which I assume was Jinkx herself, is worried about being underestimated. I predict the bio will be rewritten within a month's time or whenever Jinkx has a moment to spare.

Having read Jinkx's bio, I know the backstory to a curious remark that RuPaul made to Jinkx after their luncheon late in the fifth season. "You're a bright young star," Ru said, which signalled that Jinkx was favored to win. Ru rarely gives such a strong and undeniable sign of favor, and Jinkx was clearly pleased by the remark. Yet Ru was borrowing the phrase that Jinkx used in her bio--"bright star."

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Crest Whitening Toothpaste--Yucko

I've been remarkably healthy for a long stretch, up until I started using Crest Tartar Protection Whitening Toothpaste, at which point all of a sudden I came down with an upper respiratory infection--a cold, a sore throat, and bronchitis, which lingers to this day. Now I am of the belief that that nasty toothpaste had something to do with my bronchitis. I haven't caught bronchitis in a decade or more. I use Crest, and all of a sudden I have bronchitis? The only reason I bought this infernal toothpaste was it was on clearance at the grocery store for something like $1.50 for a 232 g tube, which is a good deal, toothpaste normally being about $2.50 - $3. I should have asked myself why this toothpaste was on clearance. Why do the other customers not like it? Why is it unpopular? These are the questions a consumer should always look into whenever a brand is marked down.

I found out why the Crest toothpaste was so cheap after using it. It has the approximate consistency of baking soda, being powdery and not at all like normal toothpaste. The brushing experience is extremely unpleasant. The toothpaste tastes bad, and I don't feel that it cleans teeth well at all. To make matters worse, one of the ingredients of this Crest toothpaste--and the reason it is supposed to be whitening (I don't care about the whitening effect)--is titanium dioxide, a known carcinogen that causes lung irritation. Now I brush my teeth right before bed, and I am sure that I leave some amount of toothpaste residue in my mouth and subsequently inhale it while sleeping. So I think a connection might well be drawn from using Crest Whitening toothpaste to bronchitis, especially due to the timing of my infection (a few days after beginning use) and the highly unusual color of my phlegm--bright white, the color of titanium dioxide, rather than the yellow one might expect from bronchitis. I stopped using the toothpaste two days ago, and I'm already starting to feel better. I'm not going to buy any more Crest, regardless of variety, ever again, because in my opinion that brand does not know how to manufacture toothpaste.

I'm afraid all the brands have a variety with titanium dioxide, because CEO's tend to be evil and not care about the health of their victims customers. Anyone suffering from an infection in the respiratory tract should not rule out their brand of toothpaste as a possible cause, or for that matter the gum one chews--Trident sells a cheap gum that also claims to be whitening and also has the cancer-causing irritant, titanium dioxide.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Firewall for the Telephone

My phone has a firewall. If it didn't, I'd disconnect my phone and give it to Goodwill. There are far too many evil scum in the world that call on a daily basis for the purpose of sales, scams, handouts or just pure harassment. Just as every computer should have a firewall, every telephone requires a firewall, and the best firewall is Call Clerk. That program just keeps getting better and better, with an update every few weeks. I would purchase Call Clerk before any other program, including Windows. It is reason enough to own a computer and is far more important than the internet browser or the operating system. Call Clerk transforms the telephone from what it is today, a weapon of harassment against the user, and makes it what Alexander Graham Bell intended it to be, a useful method of communication. The only downside is that it runs on Windows instead of Linux, so one has to use an inferior operating system.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Avast's False Positive on ACDSee 15

Avast Antivirus was giving a false positive on ACDSee 15 today, which was a minor annoyance, because by doing so, ACDSee's automatic camera offloading feature was disabled. I fixed everything and researched the issue, discovering a thread of messages on Avast's forum complaining about the false positive. I disabled all of Avast's shields until the next reboot, which might be a week from now, figuring they will fix their database by that time.

I have a couple of thoughts about this issue. One, Avast does not normally give false positives; this is an anomaly. I recommend Avast for a reason. Two, Avast shows laxity in regards to testing. It may be that they are releasing their database updates far, far too soon, and should test the damn things a bit better than they do. I am not sure virus database updates--or any system updates, for that matter--should be made in such a hellfire hurry. How about slowing down, letting a few systems have it, and seeing what the results are? Three, I'm not a paying customer of Avast, nor are the vast majority, so do we have a right to complain? Yes, because this is a free country, but Avast also has a right not to give a damn. It may be that Avast unleashes a false positive on purpose once in a while to scare the gullible into buying some of their product. Microsoft offers free antivirus, so I do not understand Avast's business model at all. I do not understand why anyone would pay for an antivirus when they can get one for free. At the moment, I am considering uninstalling Avast and installing Microsoft's solution, because Avast does like to be annoying with their little pop-ups and now a false positive.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Middle-Aged Despair

Seems like middle-aged suicide is on the increase, and as usual social scientists don't know why, so they are pointing the finger at drugs. Of course, evil only exists in the world due to drugs. Without the heroin, there would be no shoplifting. Without cocaine, littering would be a thing of the past. Drugs are also the reason for inflation, drought, and water pollution.

I don't know about these social scientists. One would expect they would be a little more perceptive of current events. It's the economy, stupid.

I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to figure out the connection between the lack of good jobs in this country and the suicide increase. Men that have known better times and held responsible positions now find that they can't find any work other than minimum-wage jobs. They fall behind on their mortgages, divorce, go on welfare, lose the hard-earned respect of friends and family, lose their homes, don't have enough to eat, can't afford medical care, and become victims of crime. This goes on for years with no end in sight and no hope on the horizon. No jobs, no money, no respect. And yet they had spent their lives doing all the right things, working hard, attending school. Any surprise they blow their brains out or O.D. on painkillers? Not really. America has always been a very materialist, capitalist society that views people in terms of winners and losers, and nobody likes to consider themselves losers. So death is way of resigning a losing game. Once you're dead, you don't give a damn anymore. Other people can deal with the clean-up of the body and weave crazy theories about how prescription painkillers made you do it.

For my part, I found the adjustment to the modern economy of zero good jobs and no hope to be difficult, but on the bright side, these low-wage jobs are pretty easy compared to the responsible positions I held in the past. I used to work really hard, harder than anybody I know. Now I don't have to use my brain half the time. I use maybe 1% of my intellect on my job. I used to use 100% of my intellect on my job. My job used to keep me up all day, all night. Skull-sweat. I don't think more than two people out of a hundred could have managed my job. But in the new economy, easy jobs are the only kind I will ever get. So I have adjusted to working less, working not nearly as hard, making less money, and trying not to worry about the future, because hey, when you die, you die, right? Other people will have to dispose of the body, and that's that.

I have a good life in some ways, and besides, I've never felt like suicide is a smart move, because one never knows what the morning may bring. The morning may bring something good. I think life has too many possibilities to just give up based on something that doesn't ultimately matter, like money. I could see suicide in the case of someone with a chronic medical condition in addition to not having any money, however, especially if they also feel isolated and alone. Our world just doesn't care. We throw people away. But as long as one has good health, I think it is foolish to throw that away based on something like a bank account balance.

I read in another PBS article that a lot of companies only hire young people, defined as under-30, because they feel younger people are cheaper, easier to handle, and will be with the company longer, and cost less in medical bills. So, I suppose young people may feel smug about things, but the trouble there is that they, too, will get middle-aged soon enough, and then they will find that the same strategy that applies to middle-aged people now will also apply to them. They will get down-sized, right-sized, out-sourced, whatever the case may be, and then they will find that McDonald's is hiring a few good people.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Here's for Jinkx

I expect Jinkx Monsoon to win the fifth season of RuPaul's Drag Race. Jinkx epitomizes what I think drag should be, a performance act with emphasis upon acting, drama, and comedy. I like Alaska too, but as an actor, Alaska seems less refined than Jinkx. I noticed the look on Jinkx's face when RuPaul said she was turning the decision over to the viewers. Perhaps Jinkx suspects that she has captured the hearts of the viewers. She has more cunning than some people have given her credit for. She was the strongest contender from day one and knew it. One felt the same way about Raja, a contender from a previous season who simply demolished the competition--was so far above them as to seem another species.

Some judges and competitors ding Jinkx for her fashion sense. Perhaps I am not a good judge of that sort of thing. My fashion sense is below average, although I've absorbed a good dose by osmosis from my spouse, who has a very great fashion sense. However, I think Jinkx puts her face together very well, and the face is the most important part of the body. As for her costume, I usually like it, and I never understand why judges praise another competitor and criticize Jinkx for her costume. It is never clear to me. There have been times when I felt that Jinkx was the best-looking competitor on the stage by a factor of about a hundred to one, and yet the judges seem to differ from my opinion by a similar factor. To me, the costume is almost irrelevant. I'm more interested in the acting and the presentation, or how a competitor handles herself. There are some competitors that may get their costumes right according to the arcane laws of fashion, but they bore me silly with the same wooden face that never changes and never registers any passion other than naked ambition.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lemons are Medicine for Sore Throat

I think that lemons have immense medicinal value, in part for their vitamin C potency, but also due to their acidity and perhaps some as yet unexplained qualities. For a sore throat, I like nothing better than fresh-squeezed lemon juice, drunk straight without sugar or water, and swallowed directing the flow over the sorest part of the throat. I think lemon juice is hostile to germs and at any rate the acid should work to dissolve bacterial film. Limes may work in a similar way, but lemons I think are to be preferred, as they contain more vitamin C and greater acidity. For variety, I also like black tea with lemon juice added, because together they seem to have a certain medicinal synergy and should be quite antiseptic, tea having antiseptic properties of its own as well as acidic tanins. With any medicinal preparation, it is important not to add any sugar, because sugar reduces acidity, feeds bacteria, and causes inflammation, but I seldom add sugar to tea anyway.

Scott mentioned in the comments section below that lime juice can be used as a deodorant. At first I was skeptical, but Google finds support for this belief. According to Simply Lovely, lime juice proved an effective deodorant for a runner. It is worth noting, however, that the sweat generated by nervous stress has an altogether different quality about it and produces a more offensive odor than the sweat produced by athletic activity.

For my part, I'm not motivated to switch from the traditional roll-ons, because my skin tolerates Speed Stick Antiperspirant by Mennen, which is cheap and also extremely effective. Typically, I buy 20 coupons on Ebay and then buy 20 units at the local grocery store when they are on sale, thus reducing the price to peanuts. I can get a 76g container for $1.50 apiece or less.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Linux Kernel 3.8 Working with S/PDIF

Last time that I updated my htpc's Linux kernel to 3.8+, S/PDIF fell silent. I had to fall back to Linux kernel 3.7.10, and I wrote about the cliff between 3.7.10 and 3.8. After 3.7.10, silence.

Reading the notes on alsa dev, it was implied that only in systems with HDMI, the new 3.8+ kernel reserved a slot for HDMI, leaving none available for S/PDIF. That suggested to me that if I disabled HDMI in the BIOS, then my S/PDIF would work, even without further modifications to the system. Tonight I confirmed my hunch. Since my htpc does not use HDMI, disabling it was not a problem. I upgraded the kernel in Linux Mint Nadia Xfce to 3.8.11, rebooted, and played a video to test the sound. No problem.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Trolls of Wesnoth Multiplayer

It's always an eye-opener to note those in the world with less suave and social sophistication than myself. I was reminded of the existence of trolls when I experimented with Wesnoth - Multiplayer, where many players quit games without a word or after citing a quite trivial reason; insulted one another, and booted other players for not understanding the rules, although they are not willing to speak of rules nor much else. They do not seem willing or perhaps capable of communicating in an effective manner. All of their communication is wasted upon name-calling, upon hostile behavior that cannot possibly produce good results. I wonder how these people are going to get by in the real world with attitudes like that. Their behavior should attract other people with similar personality types, and repel people like me that just want to get along and have a bit of fun. Not a friendly bunch. Not people I would want to spend any amount of time with on a voluntary basis.

I was amused by the thought that I could code an AI that would behave in the same manner as these trolls. They are predictable in a certain way; trollish behavior is not complicated. Each turn, there would be a 30% of a random profanity, a 20% chance of a random insult, and a 20% chance that one or more players would quit. If anyone quit, there would be a 1% chance that they would give any notice, and a 99% chance that they would leave without saying a word. I can't tell how many games I've waited thirty minutes for someone to move, only to discover after I quit that everyone had already left the game.

Whatever happened to sportsmanship? I learned at an early age to be both a graceful winner and a loser. What is the purpose of a game, after all? The purpose of a game is not to win, but to exercise the mind. Of course games are a diversion and a way to kill boredom, but they should never be stress-inducing or hostile. I don't see the point in a hostile game for no stakes, when one could be reading a book instead.

The learning I have that gives me the most satisfaction of all are my social skills. To know what not to do and to know what to do, and how to say things and communicate with others in an effective manner is very useful indeed. I'd trade all my knowledge of history for it, although that's not quite a fair trade, because I'd simply enjoy rereading history books to relearn all that I had given away.

I'm rereading Patrick O'Brian's Jack Aubrey & Stephen Maturin books. I like to go through the twenty once every seven years or so, after some of the stories have been forgotten. He is an absolute joy to read. I think I'd rather spend a few hours with Patrick O'Brian than with the trolls of Wesnoth.

Asperger's Syndrome

I have bronchitis and a cold. Illness, especially the communicable variety, brings isolation, and solitude encourages reflection. I thought of my phone conversation with my mother yesterday, which was unusually candid.

Asperger's Syndrome is interesting, and I'm fairly sure my father has it. He has the full-blown variety, no half-measure. My mother agrees with me and also agrees I inherited the trait, which would explain my nerdiness in school. Years ago, such a reflection may have seemed threatening to my ego, but I am not bothered by the working hypothesis, because I like to understand things and get closer to the truth of a matter. Recollections that for a long time puzzled me become clearer when I accept this hypothesis, as though a missing piece of the puzzle falls into place, and the complete picture is revealed to me at last. It is not embarrassment I feel therefore, but satisfaction, to find at last the answer to a riddle that perplexed me for years.

What is nerdiness after all? It is below average adaptation to the social environment. Asperger's is a weakness in interpreting subtle social cues. A person with Asperger's may sometimes be mystified at the reactions of other people. He may not be quite as good at nonverbal communication and may not be a very engaging speaker. Lack of facial expressions, lack of physical expression. Disinclined to engage in social events; prefer to be alone. This is the textbook description that I know by heart. Yet, beware. These are rough generalizations, and variations abound, because the subject is not a mineral that can be classified with precision, but a human being. Furthermore, I describe how the subject appears to some from without, not from within. I describe how norms perceive things, or how I may be perceived on occasion. To a certain extent, Asperger's is a box into which shrinks have thrown some of the kids that aren't making enough friends in school or some spouses whose other half has enrolled them in couples therapy. Asperger's is more or less a pseudoscientific euphemism for nerd. The kids on the playground and the shrinks are using different labels that mean really quite the same thing.

After surviving the trauma of school and gaining experience in the world, neuro-atypicals get better at interpreting subtle social cues. When discussing a subject close to the heart's joy, such as computer programming, certainly there may be emotional emphasis and an engaging speech indeed, no monotone at all. The trouble is that most people don't care about the kinds of things that interest a neuro-atypical. The norm's window of curiosity is half-closed. Who has a Syndrome? Who has the weakness? This is all a matter of perspective. Another way of looking at things is that the guy with Asperger's lacks interest in what other people find very interesting. It is difficult for a neuro-atypical to generate interest in other people. Knowledge helps; if the other person knows a great many things, then that can be very appealing, because hunger for knowledge is a very real need. Depending upon the social events in question, a neuro-atypical may be well-inclined to participate. I think of Asperger's as being the equivalent of a learning disability in social engineering, in networking with other people, or perhaps a reluctance to manipulate others, a disinclination to become drawn into the affairs of others. Although learning may be delayed, many skills can be acquired, depending upon the individual.

I made friends in school. I wasn't quite as nerdy as some, but nerdier than the average boy. I was called a "walking, talking encyclopedia," because I knew words with more than three syllables. I thought everybody should know and use such words. What is wrong with the world, that people don't care to learn everything they possibly can about everything under the Sun? This was my first reaction. Compliments and straight-A's fed my ego, but actually this sort of thing is typical with Asperger's. I got more joy sometimes from reading something as mundane as the back of a cereal box than talking with a peer. I wondered what the ingredients were, and sometimes I had to pull up the encyclopedia, my best friend, to find out. I remember that as a boy I was so naive that I believed everything I read, as long as it corresponded to the general sense of reality and wasn't mythology or magic. Now I know that what one reads on the back of a cereal box must be taken with a grain of salt, along with everything else. One must look to the author and his motives. Of course the cereal manufacturer's motive is clearly to sell cereal, so perhaps not everything can be trusted to be completely candid.

My brain was a sponge, although my memory is very far from photographic, and I'm definitely no savant. I think I was wasted on my school, because I was ahead, and the classes were just lagging behind, leaving me bored and with no sort of challenge at all, just brainless makework. School was a punitive environment. By the time eighth grade rolled around, I was completely disengaged from school. I got into trouble because I wasn't reading social cues as well as the others. I was at least a full grade behind in social development, and a couple grades ahead in academics. I don't think schools knew what do with kids like me. Maybe they do now, but back in the day, the chips fell where they may.

Silence was an early coping mechanism. Silence avoided hostile scrutiny. I learned how to be invisible. Almost all my teachers were less informed about the subjects. Those teachers who knew more than I did, I prized. They were my favorite teachers. But most did not. Teachers who had less knowledge nevertheless had the power to wreak revenge upon their arrogant pupil, and I was certainly arrogant. Let us define arrogance. Arrogance is a failure to understand and apply unwritten and undeclared social norms. One such social norm is that we should convey thoughts and feelings in an inoffensive manner that does not appear designed to make the listeners feel small. Appearances are extremely important, the most important thing in fact, and if one cannot speak without seeming arrogant, silence is preferable. It is better to be silent until one learns the social skills one needs to learn. Of course other boys and girls did not like to seem stupid by comparison, so I learned to disengage and stay quiet in order not to offend anyone. My first lesson in school was the power and the virtue of silence. After several betrayals and cruel pranks, I also learned to be suspicious of others and never to accept what anyone said at face value, but to search for hidden motives--and once the search is complete, to keep watching, because some motives are hidden well indeed. I am almost never taken in by anybody anymore. But in order to achieve such invulnerability, perhaps it is necessary that one endure numerous betrayals, which are such valuable learning experiences. I would not have gone without them.

Some people are better at interpreting social cues than others, and they flourish as social butterflies: politicians, actors, business managers. There are great rewards available for those with above average skills of social perception. I think the self-made rich almost always have something of the social butterfly in them. There is great value in networking, and it is the best way to thrive in business. On the other hand, people with Asperger's seem better with computers, engineering, science, and other detailed and complicated skills. In my opinion, they would also adapt well to the military, which is a system much like a computer, very rule-based, with clear priorities and a chain-of-command.
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions