Saturday, November 30, 2013

Dust-Up Over Japanese Islands

Currently making headlines is a dust-up involving China on the one side and Japan, South Korea and the U.S. on the other over the ownership of a handful of uninhabited islands and their surrounding, mineral-rich ocean. I looked at a photo published by Bloomberg of a Chinese sailor looking through binoculars on an aircraft carrier and thought to myself, everything in that photo, from his uniform to the binoculars to the carrier itself was made in China. Any photo of something in America would betray this, that, and the other thing that was made in China. The reason is because American leaders are stupid and have allowed American manufacturing to be exported over to China. The only thing to replace the jobs that were lost is McDonalds and Wal-Mart. I remember back in the 1990's when people actually debated over whether to do something about American manufacturing. The argument for doing nothing, which carried the day, was that Americans would transition to higher-level, higher-paid information technology jobs. That was a lie, and the people who said it back then either knew it was a lie or were stupid. The reality is Americans are pushing brooms and mops. In the future, Americans will be serving Chinese overlords and wishing them a nice day and "Would you like to have fries with that?" When Americans get old, they will be thrown on a bonfire and set ablaze as they will be useless at that point, due to increasing medical costs. Or perhaps the Chinese, ever efficient, will turn us into glue like old horses.

I think that American executives that want to manufacture in China should relocate their families to China and become Chinese nationals. They can enjoy all the rights and privileges and protections of being Chinese. Clearly they see no advantage in the U.S. and should cast their fortune with a foreign country. This would apply also to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs when he was alive, and all the other Chinese wannabes. If they think China is so great, they should go live there and tell us all about it. No need to be clinging to America and all the unique things that make America what it is. Like the Venetian traders of old, they should relocate to Constantinople and expose themselves to the tender mercy of the Byzantine Empire.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wesnoth & Dungeon Crawl

On Thanksgiving, one should reflect upon things to be thankful for. One of the many things I celebrate is Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup. It is the best game for Windows or Linux at the amazing price of free. There isn't a better game anywhere at any price. One of the things that makes it so good is that it undergoes active development, so that new wrinkles are being added every six months or so. The wrinkles have, on the whole, been good ones, although the developers finally caught on to the Spriggan elite and clipped their wings in the latest version. No longer can Spriggans wear cloaks or boots, which is a significant handicap, although I still feel Spriggans are a race to be reckoned with. There is something cool about slaying a frost giant with a single blow by stealth.

I like Wesnoth too, and comparisons naturally arise between Wesnoth and DCSS because they are both turn-based strategy games, supporting Linux, Mac, and Windows, as all games should, free and open-source, based in a hypothetical, alternative Medieval era where magic is real and used in combat, and humans are just one of many intelligent species roaming the world. I do wish humans were not the only intelligent race in our own world, because then there should be greater unity among us, for we would have to unite against common threats, such as orcs and goblins. Indeed, we need orcs and goblins to keep us straight. I woke up this morning thinking what foolish things WW1 and WW2 were. In WW2, I lost my uncle, shot down over the skies of France. Germany gained nothing by the wars it initiated. It only lost. Such is often the case with modern warfare. One would hope that world leaders would take a clue from history, but they don't. As far as world leaders are concerned, history is just a topic for academics. The same mistakes are repeated, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Wesnoth does have issues that come along with the better graphics. I think that the AI is too ambitious, causing substantial delays on some maps, because the AI is busily crunching numbers prior to deciding which unit to attack or which direction to move. In Dungeon Crawl, the AI is quite simple. There is only one target, and all monsters stream toward it. Stronger monsters try to get ahead of the weaker ones. No numbers are crunched, only maze-solving to find the fastest route to the player. Thus, there are no delays at any time. I've left the room to go make coffee in the time it takes Wesnoth's AI to decide what to do, and when I came back, sometimes it is still deciding, and at that point I simply quit the game. But there are other reasons to prefer Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup over Wesnoth, such as the rich complexity of DCSS, in stark contrast to the simplicity of Wesnoth. Simplicity is not necessarily a demerit--chess is one of the simplest games ever--but complexity makes for a less predictable, more random game experience that makes each game different from the last. Wesnoth I think is more subject to the whims of Lady Luck than Dungeon Crawl, because in Wesnoth, a single ill-fated attack can kill one's leader.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I Used to Love Rock Music

When I was young, all the kids were excited about rock concerts. I went to one once. I hated it. The music was so loud that it bruised my eardrums. All I could think about was when I could leave and what I would be doing after the show. I never went to another rock concert.

However, the only thing my peers listened to was rock and roll, rap, country, punk, and heavy metal music, so that was what I listened to, and I thought it wasn't so bad, played at a moderate level. Over time, I began to play it louder as I got used to loud music. I think "getting used to loud music" actually involves permanent hearing loss.

As I got older and upgraded my friends, I became exposed to better music, such as classical, folk, and jazz. It is like going from cow manure to diamonds. Both are carbon-based and certainly have their uses, but the diamonds are more elegant. I began to notice how simple, boring and predictable rock music was. I think the clincher for me was reading the lyrics of my former favorite songs. Unfortunately, most rock musicians write at the fifth-grade level.

I watched two documentaries about Pink Floyd yesterday that featured several of their live performances. The music left me unmoved, which I thought was strange, because I used to think it was great, even the work of genius. One of the performances was "Comfortably Numb," and the lyrics remained with me. I thought about them this morning as I woke up.

Just a little pinprick. There'll be no more aaaaaaaaaa-aaaaaaaaaah,
But you may feel a little sick.
This'll keep ya going for the show, come on it's time to go.

The clingy-clangy rhyme scheme seems all wrong. The words don't fit. They just are there because of the stupid, stupid rhyme.

Why does the pinprick make one sick? Does it always result in sickness? If so, then why receive the injection at all? The only reason "you might feel a little sick" is that "sick" rhymes with "pinprick."

Why is it time to go? Can't a junkie have a moment? The only reason it is time to go is that "go" rhymes with "show."

I know of a junkie that wrote better lyrics than Pink Floyd, and his name was Samuel Coleridge. He would give a junkie a moment, and he wouldn't make him sick, either.

Pink Floyd is the purest overrated pink polka-dot poppycock. And I used to listen to them all the time. They were a little pinprick that made me sick. I was programmed by the radio, constantly streaming in nothing but cow manure, and by all my friends who were also programmed by radio. Maybe I'm being unfair to radio, though. We could have tuned into PBS. Why didn't we? I think it was due to hormones. Rock celebrates the erotic urge. It is not about music at all. Rock is an outlet for sexual expression that may seem very attractive due to the censorship of sexuality in other areas of society. But I wonder if it is really quite as necessary now as it was back in the 1960's.

I hope that one day our society can dispense with rock altogether and fully embrace real music again. We should pay attention to actual musicians rather than erotic performers.

I have gone to many classical and jazz concerts featuring live instruments, and I have always had a good time. Yet when I look around at the audience, mostly I see gray heads. That's too bad. I think I would have enjoyed such concerts even at a young age, if I had been exposed to them. It's a pity that young people learn to like garbage instead of music.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gay Atheist Marriage Vows

I edited already existing marriage vows to reduce their verbosity and make them appropriate for an atheist gay male couple. Feel free to use as desired.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here together to join together this man and this man in Matrimony. Into this important institution these two persons come now to be joined.

"If any man can show just cause why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.

"__________________will you have this man to be your lawful wedded
husband? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness and
 in health; and, forsaking all others, keep you only unto him as long as
you both shall live?

"__________________, will you have this man to be your lawful wedded
husband? Will you love him, comfort him, honor and keep him in sickness
and in health; and, forsaking all others, keep you only unto him as long
as you both shall live?"

[Present one ring for each man] "The marriage rings seal the vows of marriage and represents a promise for eternal and everlasting love.

"(Groom: Repeat after me) I __________________ take thee,
_______________ to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day
forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and
in health, to love and to cherish forever, and thereto I give thee my

"(Groom: Repeat after me) I __________________ take thee,
_______________ to be my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day
forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and
in health, to love and to cherish forever, and thereto I give thee my

"Forasmuch as ____________ and ___________ have consented together in
marriage, and have witnessed the same before this company of witnesses
and each other, and there to have given their pledge, each to the other,
 and have declared the same by giving and receiving a ring, and by
joining hands; by the power vested in me by the good State of ____, I now
pronounce you husband and husband.

"You may now kiss.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, I now present to you Mr. And Mr. ________________."

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Xubuntu Bug: Open Word Documents with Archive Manager?

I finally found a bug in Xubuntu 13.10. Its default is to open Word documents with the Archive Manager, which makes about as much sense as elephants that fly. To fix Xubuntu, one must go to the Settings Manager, click on the anti-intuitive MIME Type Editor (No, not "Preferred Applications," because that would be too easy), enter "doc" in the search window, and change the wordprocessing types to be opened with AbiWord rather than Archive Manager. I spun my wheels a bit this morning, because I couldn't remember whether I had installed LibreOffice yet or not and kept looking for that. AbiWord seems to work well for my purposes however and I have no problem with it so far. Indeed, I may never need the power of LibreOffice, because my word processing needs are quite modest. I'm not one for fancy graphs and charts and graphics. I just wish that Xubuntu let AbiWord open Word documents, because I would rather read and edit what is in the Word document than examine the file types within the Word document.

Bluehost Keeps Subtracting Features

I figured out where all of Bluehost's development goes. They pay their developers to subtract features or make them difficult or impossible to use. There was a time when I could download a log of all site transactions--that stopped about a year ago. Now it's a huge hassle, for no reason other than Bluehost hates its customers. There was a time when I could backup the SQL database. Now that is completely impossible. Bluehost instead gives me the option of a full-site backup, which never completes but just gives me what amounts to an error message saying, "Sorry, but we at Bluehost do not know how to program computers. We're still learning, and you're stuck with us while we're in training diapers!" I see the reason why. Bluehost wants me to pay $20 for the upgrade to "Backup Pro". That is, if I want to back up my web site, I have to cough up more money now. Bluehost is basically sticking a gun to my head and saying cough up the dough or say goodbye to all your hard work. I wish Bluehost would just quit jerking their customers around and leave CPanel alone. All their changes have been negative with consequences for their customers. I am sure of one thing, I will not be renewing with Bluehost whenever renewal time comes around. I will spend ten, twenty, however many hours it takes to backup my database using SQL statements, but one thing is certain, I will not pay even $0.01 for additional captivity with "Bluebeard," the web-hosting pirate. I like a company that does what it says and sticks by its word, not one that pulls dirty tricks out of the blue to rake in more cash.

Adios, WinAmp

I've used WinAmp the better part of a decade. It's set to disappear thanks to mismanagement by AOL, like a lot of other things. I downloaded a copy today that I intend to burn to CD, because it will no longer be available from the developers after Dec. 20th, 2013.

Unfortunately, the world is still saddled with an aristocracy. The lower classes have to work exceptionally hard to get anywhere, for instance, to become a software engineer at a company like WinAmp. The upper classes simply call up a friend for a job and rake in the millions just because of their family and social ties. Their competence level can be dirt, and they still make big money. They may know nothing other than how to play golf. There are countless brands and ideas this aristocracy has killed due to incompetence and negligence. The U.S. as a whole is reeling from the mistakes of this aristocracy. There's no question the country has been mismanaged by both the legislative and executive branches of government for at least the last fifty years and possibly longer. While the aristocracy dabbles in pointless war games to satisfy their vanity, the country crumbles.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Games that I Love

I despair of my blitz chess capability. I just can't seem to pull moves out my hat fast enough to win. Even when I achieve a winning game in the opening, which happens enough times for my satisfaction, I still lose, either on time or due to oversight. I wonder if I may be in a downward spiral due to the aging process. I've never been very good at blitz, but I seem to be getting worse.

Perhaps I should stay with correspondence chess, in which time is not a factor at all. That has been my preference. Another format I like is the long game, at least 15 | 10 (15 minutes and 10 bonus seconds per move) or more. I need time to work out all the obvious things. My mind is simply not gifted in the way that a grandmaster's certainly is. I know very well that some individuals can glance at a game and work out the best move in mere seconds. I have a slower algorithm.

I've been pleased with Wesnoth multiplayer since I learned all of its many quirks, social and technical. It is impossible to have a good game on an average Internet connection. One needs wide pipes. I can only play it at some locations. I would like to inspect Wesnoth's source code one day and fix a number of rough edges, but if it is in written in C, that is a deterrent. I've never liked C. I do not think C is human-friendly. I like human-friendly languages that are verbose and easy to use. I always associate "C" with "Cryptic." I know that it is half as efficient as assembler, and for that reason preferred by some, but I think modern processors can handle a bit of inefficiency in the source code. Besides, human-friendly languages continue to improve their efficiency, and their payoff is that source code that is easy to understand is also easy to maintain and enhance.

I have given Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup a rest, but intend to come back to it some day. I'm irritated that Ubuntu never has the latest version. I always have to add the Stone Soup repository. I find Ubuntu extremely conservative where new versions of games are concerned.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Obama's Too Republican

Obama's problem is that he is too much of a Republican. Instead of concentrating on basics, like his signature health care reform, and ensuring that it was a success, as anyone with competence would wish to do, he squandered his attention and his energies upon Syria and other foreign conflicts. A perfect analogy would be a surgeon deciding to go play golf instead of preparing for surgery. I can't understand our Presidents and their obsession with little barbarian ratholes that scarcely deserve to be considered civilized nations. These Presidents seem to think that the U.S. is still fighting WW2. The real job of the Presidency is to look after the U.S., and U.S. interests mainly concern what happens within our borders. Spending so much time strutting about as policeman of the world has consequences, such as the fact that President Obama looks like a nincompoop right now due to his administration's inability to maintain a web site. However, it is certainly true that his predecessor was a greater nincompoop and that the Republicans are not even his equals, but far worse by every measure that one would care to apply.


Mental illness is the worst. Someone dear to my heart remains in this world, living, breathing, and talking, but they are not there, they are only a simulacrum. As was said of such people in times past, they are possessed by a demon. I came to visit a year ago, but my visit was unappreciated, and I don't think it did any good at all. One can be here and not be here, can see and yet not see, can hear and yet not hear. Such a person has left the community of living souls and become a mad hermit, isolated, alone, and lonely, oh, so desperately lonely that they commune with the dead, who are closer to them than the living. When last I visited, the black-and-white photographs of long-gone ancestors were of greater interest than anything I had to say, and when after many hours of listening I made clear I needed to adjourn for lunch, sour resentment was the result.

I wish to visit, but I think such an effort would be wasted and only for my own benefit, but I am not sure whether there is any benefit for myself. My memories are better than the present. I would only be perceived like a distant noise, and all that I said would be either unheard or misinterpreted, and my visit would soon be forgotten.

I am reminded of a coworker who had a mad woman living in his house, his aged mother, whose mind was irreparably gone. In the past, she had been kind, he said, but now, she was possessed by a demon and did everything possible to disrupt and distress. She would throw food at the walls, bang on the walls at night to wake people up, scream, moan, yell, and say hurtful things. He believed it was his moral duty to keep her in his house. He hated his brother for not showing gratitude for his sacrifice and not helping. I sympathized with him and thought him a good and decent man, but I was uncertain regarding the morality, because his mother had lost her wits beyond recovery, and made miserable the life of his entire family. I felt there was not only his mother's welfare to weigh, but also the welfare of his family and even of himself. Self-sacrifice appears noble and good, and it moves me, but can it also be a subtle form of selfishness? I think there is something known as the "martyr complex," wherein one may be too ready and eager to sacrifice, apparently, one's own interests. No sacrifice is free of cost. With each sacrifice, one reduces the capacity to support other good and worthy causes. To sacrifice for one cause is to say that it is worthier than other causes.

Xubuntu > Kubuntu

I much prefer Xubuntu 13.10 over Kubuntu 13.10, because Xubuntu software updating just works as smooth as butter. I also like Xubuntu's default applications. If Xubuntu 14.04 LTS is at least as good as 13.10, then I plan to install Xubuntu on a second PC, my htpc, and possibly a third, my laptop. I am starting to wonder what KDE's desktop actually brings to the table other than bells and whistles--and occasional bugs and gotchas. The only KDE-based distro I like is Linux Mint KDE, because Linux Mint does everything exactly right, all of the time. The only downside to Linux Mint is the waiting period of 2-3 months after a Ubuntu release.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Cherish Mistakes

I like to recall past errors to rectify present behavior. In this manner, instead of being all negative and lamentable, a mistake can help to ensure positive results for the future. I cherish my mistakes, because they are effective teachers. Perhaps this is why, or so it is said, that certainty and idealism and their close relation, fanaticism, are more common among the young than the old. The young have not had time and opportunity yet to make their mistakes. They tend to see the choices before them as simple and straight-cut. With experience, new dimensions to situations and behavior become evident, and one grows more circumspect.

My brother believed that life imitated chess and vice versa, and one of his reasons was that mistakes in chess are similar to mistakes in life due to their being the result of oversight.

Off topic: I find oversight an odd word. The primary meaning is an unintended mistake. The secondary meaning is watchful care or management. The implication seems to be that managers are clueless.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

DoomsDay Project

I concur with many others that there needs to be a backup made of all the world's knowledge, for the potential event, which is well within the realm of possibility, that civilization as we know it is destroyed. The backup must be in imperishable format, which excludes magnetic copies. Perhaps a certain hardy breed of optical discs could be used, but the knowledge regarding how to build machines that will read and power these discs must obviously be stored in a different format, perhaps paper, parchment or papyrus. We must include a Rosetta Stone consisting of images and their verbal equivalents, because it is not certain that language will remain unchanged. The security of this backup is the most important aspect, because if it is discovered by primitive people of no understanding, it will all be wasted upon them. The archive must be sealed using a method that is impenetrable except by technological means that reflect a Renaissance-era civilization, and it must also be hidden, yet detectable by advanced deduction, for instance, recognizing artificial (man-made) features in an environment. Redundancy is essential too, because some backup locations may be compromised by primitives or obscured by the shifting landmasses of the planet. A thousand airtight and waterproof capsules should be dispersed over the globe, some underwater, some in the desert, some in the tundra, and everywhere in between.

A further refinement to this idea would be to lock and entrap the capsule, requiring the answer to a riddle for access. If an incorrect answer is attempted, the contents of the capsule can be destroyed using acid or perhaps a different kind of chemical reaction. The riddle will require empathy in order to solve. This would offer the capsule some protection against being discovered and misused by evil-doers. Unfortunately, history has a way of repeating itself, and a capsule with a lot of technological knowledge in it is not necessarily a good idea. What the human race needs more than technology is philosophy. Technology brings many horrors into the world and empowers the dark, powerful, tyrannical souls to dominate others. Perhaps the capsule should indeed contain nothing of technology and only philosophy, to point out the ways to obtain learning merely, without giving explicit instructions on how to build this and that. The great frailty in the human race is that a human mind can be very apt at technology and care nothing at all for philosophy. It is better that philosophers hold the keys to technology rather than tyrants and would-be tyrants, as is the case in many countries today.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Windows: As Stupid as the Day is Long

Q. How many days are required to install Windows 7?

A. Wrong question. Replace "days" with "weeks." Windows refuses to install any drivers, so upon installation, the computer cannot connect to the Internet, cannot display higher than 640 x 480 resolution, and cannot read from USB drives. Linux distros perform these tasks, which is why Linux is more user-friendly than any Windows product.

But the very worst problem with Windows is that when an old hard drive begins failing, and a user connects a new hard drive to install Windows, Windows will secretly botch the install and sabotage all labor performed. That is, after Windows has (presumably) been installed on the new hard drive, and dozens of software applications have been installed and configured and updated, and Windows Update has downloaded 600+MB of updates and installed them, and all the media files have been copied onto the new hard drive, and then the old hard drive is disconnected and the power shut off--Windows won't boot. Ever. It's a botched install. Why? Because Microsoft is stupid and hates its customers. Instead of installing Windows to the new hard drive, what Microsoft did was install it to both drives, so that the new hard drive is forever dependent upon the old.

Almost any Linux distro is better than Windows due to the many "gotchas" in the Windows world, which inflict a multitude of pranks on the end users to compel them to either buy entire new systems or spend countless hours dealing with Microsoft-imposed problems. Most people I know simply chunk their old computer and buy a new one. I am one of the few that are willing to put up with all the crap Windows dishes out in order to save money. Indeed this is probably the reason why Microsoft inserted that little trap. Their system is malicious by design. Since Microsoft colludes with manufacturers, it is in "their" interest (Microsoft and the manufacturers) to prod users to replace, rather than repair aging computer systems. I don't know how much money is sucked out of the world economy due to Windows, but the figure is probably in the billions.

Windows is very similar to malware in a number of respects, from its poor design to its bugginess and its ways of harming the user by stealing time and effort. I wouldn't use Windows at all if it were not for ACDSee and Call Clerk, two applications that require it. The main problem with Windows is that it hides the details from the user and tries to simplify complicated matters, but the way that they go about achieving these objectives is completely wrong. Windows 7 is worse than Kubuntu, worse than PCLinuxOS, worse than Open Suse, and worse than almost any major Linux distribution I can think of, any distro that occupies a slot in the top ten list of Distro Watch. Anyone who tries these Linux distros cannot fail to arrive at the same conclusion. I look forward to the day when I can run nothing but Linux, when ACDSee and Call Clerk will at least work from Wine. Until that blessed day arrives, I am compelled to struggle with the weird maliciousness of Windows.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

From Kubuntu to Xubuntu

I am happy I made the switch from Kubuntu 13.10 to Xubuntu 13.10. The problem with Kubuntu centered around the update process. I don't know why, but every program with a "Muon" noun in the title is buggy. My desktop got to the point where I had to disconnect the power cord from the back of the computer in order, not to stop Muon from spinning its wheels, but simply to turn the computer off. You see, Muon seizes control of the shutdown and restart commands and will not permit the user to power off until Eternity arrives, or is that Infinity? In other words, Kubuntu has decided in its infinite wisdom that the user does not need to control the computer. The user is irrelevant. Kubuntu is the supreme commander, not the human being, not I, a mere peon. Now, I begged to differ, since I am the one that actually purchased the computer in the first place. Perhaps I am impudent in the eyes of Kubuntu. I deleted Kubuntu from my system and searched for a replacement.

My first pick to replace Kubuntu was actually SolydX, because I admire one of the principals behind it, zerozero, who has helped me and many others on more than one occasion in the Linux Mint forums. However, to my dismay and bewilderment, SolydX/K does not work on my system and I do not know why. All I ever got was a terminal screen with "grub rescue" on it. Based on my reading, perhaps this has something to do with my motherboard's support of UEFI. I haven't the foggiest idea. I found a thread on the SolydXK forums that discussed the commands needed to recover, and after a brief stab at following the recommendations, I decided I did not want to bother with all of that jazz. If installation is so difficult, I can only imagine what maintenance will be like. Instead, I installed Xubuntu, which just worked, at least, after the second attempt at installation. So far, Xubuntu has been smooth and easy, although of all things in the KDE world, I do miss Dolphin.


Guake is an awesome idea--a terminal emulator for Linux that is activated by a keystroke and is transparent. At first glance, it seems so useful that every distro should include it by default. I often wish that Windows had such an innovation.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Namecheap, the Worst Web Hosting Company

Namecheap, Inc. just sent me an invoice for--well, I don't know what. They expect me to pay a bunch of money because, I guess, they need money. I haven't hosted with them in years and my domain is no longer registered with them. I'm not surprised their morals are amiss. Namecheap is possibly the worst web host in existence. Their service was lousy, with unexplained bizarre errors, and their tech support, which I frequently had to use, was foreign, incompetent, unresponsive, and uncaring. I was never so happy as when I abandoned my Namecheap account and moved to a different host, even though it cost me financially to do so. Namecheat is more like it.

The host I recommend is Bluehost, a class act all around. They may be Mormon-owned for all I know, but they do web hosting right, and on the extremely rare occasion that I have needed their tech support, I have talked to real, live American techies on the telephone who know what they are doing. I've never been talking to a Bluehost representative without feeling like they are intelligent and, perhaps more importantly, care. I've used Bluehost for many years. I don't know of any other web host that is as good as they are, although it's true I haven't tried many. Bluehost is even recommended by Wordpress, which I think is very impressive in itself. Their founder runs the entire company on Mac or Linux, scorning Microsoft. I've followed his blog off and on through the years. I doubt we would agree on politics, but as far as computers go, I think we are in agreement.

For the past couple days, my site on Bluehost has become inaccessible around midnight every day without explanation and stays slow until the morning. So I can't recommend Bluehost without reservation. I need to become more cautious about my enthusiasm for things. It seems like the very moment that I praise something, that's when I discover its shortcoming. In the case of Bluehost, I discovered their nightly slowdown about the same time that I renewed for two years. However, I think that this may have been a temporary glitch, possibly due to Wordpress attackers.

If this is the only post any visitor to my blog ever reads, then so much the better. Namecheap caused me hardship with their unexplained errors and incompetent service.

7/30/2013 Update: This post against Namecheap has been attacked on over ten separate occasions by spam comments linking to malware sites that try to infect people's computers with viruses. My policy now is that whenever that happens, this post will be updated to be the front-page, very first post; or else I may post another message about Namecheap and its sleazy, unethical business practices. There's no way that Namecheap can get out of their well-deserved poor reputation. They are going to have to live with it, no matter how many spammers they hire.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Project Runway and RuPaul's Drag Race

There are two television shows that are must-see TV for geeks like me--"RuPaul's Drag Race" and "Project Runway." I grew up without the slightest interest in clothes. I think I have improved a great deal. Shows that deal with fashion are highly educational for those who have little natural inclination toward fashion. I find my awareness of clothes has increased, and I am more likely to "dress up" than I ever was in the past. I told my partner the other day, "I want to look like Tim Gunn," the mentor on "Project Runway" that is one of my favorite television personalities. He seems to me dignified, intelligent, perceptive, and seems to have a warm and affectionate side as well.

Another area where I've made great strides is public speaking. I'm not a good charlatan. I need to know a subject well before I speak. I hate faking and I hate fakers. However, if I do know a subject well, then fear melts away, and I transform into a dragon. I did a speech on a disease not long ago in front of a group of nursing students. I had researched the disease well and rehearsed my speech about a dozen times. For me, preparation is essential. I like to feel that I am not wasting my time or anyone else's. The speech was well-received and some people told me that mine was the best of the lot.

Knowledge makes a big difference for me. I think that I would have made a good college professor if I had long ago chosen a different route, abandoning computer technology and pursuing instead a doctorate. Technology is a fickle field where only the last two years matter. I never expected that one day all my knowledge would be deemed obsolete and my aptitude not given a moment's consideration. There are zero opportunities, and no employer cares what one has learned or can learn. They would as soon hire workers from India or China or not hire in America at all and simply invest in overseas operations.

Old Books

I like old books. If the author is dead, that to me is a recommendation. If a book has survived its author and is still being sold, then it probably has merit.

I don't like most news magazines. Someone bought me a year's subscription to TIME, which is one of the worst, with many charts, graphs, numbers, and random facts, and little or nothing of any interest. I can consume a TIME magazine in about sixty seconds, and I always throw it in the wastebasket afterwards, because it is never worth saving.

I read Socrates just about every day. I don't mind reading the same passages. It is better to reread Socrates a thousand times than to read TIME magazine once. His ideas inspire reflection and relate to many things under the Sun. I find myself agreeing with Socrates more and more, but still I disagree with some of his most radical propositions, for instance that all bodily desires are to be ignored or minimized in sacrifice to the greater goal of philosophy. He conjures up this idea of the philosopher as a monastic scholar who eats simple food, say porridge and onions, just enough to survive, wears simple clothes, lives in poverty by choice, and finds no value in any of the nicer things in life, what ordinary men regard as pleasures. The philosopher instead looks forward to death, when he will be reunited with the gods and with spiritual beings and achieve his ultimate goal, which is acquisition of the truth. That to me seems rather unpleasant and extreme. I do think life has a purpose and so does pleasure. When available and morally acceptable, pleasure should be enjoyed rather than scorned. I don't share Socrates' dismissal of the senses, but he is correct in pointing out that the senses do mislead us when we are searching for truth, and that the most powerful deductive tools make use of pure reason. Indeed, I think that is how the astrophysicists go about things--by using mathematical theories.

Socrates is a dear old heart, cheerfully anticipating his death. At first I felt pity for Socrates and annoyance at the injustice of the Athenians in condemning their sincere and honest critic. But I am persuaded by Socrates to forgive his accusers. One can't help but envy such a civilized exit from this world--surrounded by loving and loyal friends--knowing the precise day and hour and manner of one's passing--feeling no pain at all. Upon reflection, his was the very best of all deaths. Many humans die in an abrupt manner, with their financial and social affairs in disarray, and even the rich and intelligent are not immune to this fate, as I have observed. Many humans die young, before their time, whereas Socrates died in his seventies. Many die in pain or alone or unloved, whereas Socrates suffered none of that. In the final analysis, one cannot pity him. His accusers are condemned by history, and Socrates is exonerated and immortalized.

I do not know if his individual consciousness still exists, but I rather doubt it. Socrates believed he would still be around, somewhere, in some shape or form. I just don't feel we humans are important or good or powerful enough to escape annihilation. Death seems final to me, and the finality seems just and equitable. Yet perhaps Socrates was right in one sense, if we are all a part of a whole. For if the universe is one, and I think it may be, and the astrophysicists say we all derive from star dust, then individual consciousness is beside the point, because there is one consciousness only, the greater one that transcends all, and our individuality is a kind of illusion.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

College is a Waste of Time and Money

I am always surprised to hear about the enrollment statistics at local colleges. As college is deemed worthless by employers, why do so many people still enroll, incurring debt in the process? It is as though they and their parents assume that nothing has changed since 1940, and a college degree remains the stepladder into the middle class. The reality is quite different now. There are a lot of people with Bachelor's and even Master's degrees that cannot find anything other than minimum-wage jobs. In reality, there is more to be gained by working at McDonalds for four years than incurring debt for four years. At least at McDonalds, no debt will be incurred, and some amount of money will be earned. There is always the possibility of becoming a store manager as well. I think the real reason kids still go to college is that an expectation has been to baked into their minds by our culture. There remains this almost religious awe of getting a college degree. After all, that may be how their parents moved up the ladder, back in the day when the economy was working. Graduation into the world of highly educated unemployment or under-employment or menial labor will come as a rude shock.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Forced Moves in Chess

Forced moves have strong appeal to beginners. I have noticed they will always check, when they see a check, or choose another type of forcing move, when there is one. I smile when a novice checks me and allows me time to improve my King's position. Analysis is essential to determining whether such moves are beneficial. All forced lines must be analyzed to some kind of conclusion.

Some people are faster at analysis, because they have innate talent. It is often not possible to defeat a player with a faster "processor," so to speak, except in a long or correspondence game. I consider myself slow at analysis, and that is why I prefer long games to blitz. I do not think it is possible to improve much at blitz. One has the hardware or one doesn't. I do think it is possible to get better at long games, in which both players have adequate time to prioritize and then analyze the possible moves.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Is the Supernatural Natural?

I am most tempted to speculate upon the supernatural, that is, magic and ESP and telepathy and gods, when I listen to astrophysicists talk about string theory, time, the multiverse, what happened before the Big Bang, and wormholes. Then I wonder whether all of the tales we have heard are false, or if some of them have a basis in something that is just now only dimly understood.

Lately, when I close my eyes at night, I think back to the prophesy I heard a long time ago that seems to have come true in many respects. It was not a good prophesy on the whole. I wish I had not heard it. I remember asking whether it were possible to defy fate, and the answer I received was in the negative. There is something irresponsible, I think, in a seer telling a person of a future that is inevitable. With great power comes great responsibility. I wonder whether she really saw what she said she saw or if she were merely speculating based upon intuition and intelligent perception. If she did see truly, then how and by what means? I asked this exact question at the time of the reading and received nothing but mumbo-jumbo for an answer.

The NOVA documentaries I watched over the last several nights explained several theories and hypotheses circulating in the world of astrophysics. One of the biggest discoveries that has been made, albeit one that is "old," dating back to Einstein, is that time is relative. Space and time are related, forming the concept known by Einstein as spacetime. I get dizzy thinking about these things. They are so far beyond my comprehension. I can only just grasp the surface of the basic ideas. There are many implications deriving from the relativity of space and time. Thus, my entire lifespan can elapse in a single moment--say, sixty seconds--of an extraterrestrial being living at a vast distance away from me. Therefore, if there were any means whatsoever for communication, images, or knowledge to be transmitted to and from that consciousness to, say, a human being living in my time and sitting beside me holding my hand, then that might be the scientific way for the seer to see. Mumbo-jumbo, or magic, in the common sense of the word, need play no role. Science suffices for an explanation that passes muster with the modern mind. Much of advanced science is as good as magic for most of us, anyway. How many of us could build a computer from scratch or, for that matter, an automobile? Observe that quantum mechanics speculates that teleporting between vast distances is possible. If this is so, why cannot a thought, word or image be transmitted from one brain to another? Would that not be easier?
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions