Thursday, January 30, 2014

Delightful Milkshakes, Composting and Alcoholism

Milkshakes are one of my favorite foods. There's nothing simpler than dropping things in a blender and liquefying them. Shakes are the best way to eat bananas. I think bananas are the perfect food, because they offer potassium and vitamin C, are cheap, and available at most grocery stores. They come prepackaged by Nature in an easy-to-open yellow wrapper that rapidly decomposes when tossed onto the ground.

Composting is easy. Dump organic rubbish in a designated bin, and when the bin is full, dump it somewhere in the yard a good distance away from the house. There are a lot of products being sold to people to assist with composting, but none of it is necessary except to the vendors, who hope to make a living by selling composting equipment. The only equipment I use is a bucket, and those are easy to come by, and if one's not available, then cardboard boxes or paper bags work fine.
I prefer organic bananas not because they're organic but because they taste better. I've noticed that many organic foods taste better, and I'm not sure why, but whenever that is the case, I prefer the organic variety. When my nose and tongue detect no difference, then I prefer the cheapest of the two. In some cases, "organic" is just a word being prostituted to sell something that is nothing of the sort.

I began my love of milkshakes through alcoholism, which introduces one to various ways of making drinks, but over time I discovered that drinks taste better without alcohol and that I feel better after drinking them if there is no alcohol. The idea of putting vodka or rum in a blender just seems gross to me now, though it seemed appealing many years and several vomits and headaches and upset stomachs ago. Like any fool, I was ensnared by the marketing, the hype and all my peers that were so enthusiastic about alcohol, but all of that is poppycock, just like the music we used to listen to. I'm secretly amused by wine snobs and those that praise expensive, carefully aged bottles of Scottish whiskey. The best defence against alcoholism is contempt for the product. It seems to me a vast amount of verbiage in the media promotes a contemptible substance, ethanol alcohol, the waste product of fungi. Alcohol is a superb preservative for dead things and those that want to become so. But I digress.

My recipe is simple. Drop two peeled bananas in a blender, add a pint of milk, and for variety's sake, cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa, coffee, tea, malted milk, fruit slices, or ice may be added. There will never be any milkshake mix or anything sold at Starbucks that is as good as two bananas and milk in a blender.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


My father and I are both interested in Neanderthals. Unlike me, my father takes a negative attitude against them. He believes primitive behavior in human beings derives from our shared Neanderthal ancestry. I don't think his attitudes ever evolved from the "caveman" stereotype common on television from the 1950s and on. I think we should keep an open mind about Neanderthals and not be guilty of retrospective racism. After all, none of us has ever met a Neanderthal in person nor spoken with him.

I wonder whether it is true that Neanderthal ancestry is mostly present in non-African people. Apparently, those with red hair and pale skin are more Neanderthal than others. I read an interesting article about Neanderthal research today.

Besides invisibility, one my great wishes would be to travel backward in time and just be a spirit hovering about, at different times, in the homes of every one of my ancestors. I would like to observe their lives even from a distance, even if I were not permitted to intervene in any way. I think that would be a fun and revelatory way to spend the afterlife. Yet surely, for any observer of real events, there would be at some point a temptation to intervene in some way, wouldn't there? One would desire most of all the power to communicate. Modern science allows us a dim, out-of-focus window into the lives of our distant ancestors, but much remains obscure, and there will never be a way to communicate with our ancestors unless the final great mystery, time travel, is unravelled.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Good and Evil

My local newspaper is depressing. Crime is the main thread throughout the paper. It is because there are no investigative journalists anymore. The paper takes free news from the local police department. I suppose that saves money on the salary for a real journalist.

This week, I read about men shooting one another and / or themselves either in my own town or the nation.

A fool and his money are soon parted, but a fool with a gun is soon departed.

I think there are too many guns, too many gun nuts and too many angry young men in the world who don't know why they're angry and don't know who they should be angry at.

I think it's a pity guns don't require the solving of a random quadratic equation in order to be operated. Guns and other weapons are far too simple and far too powerful. They cheapen life.

The greatest problem of our species is advanced technology coupled with low morality and a small understanding. This is why the U.S. does not want Iran to have nuclear weapons, because Iran has low morality and a small understanding. That North Korea has nuclear weapons is bad enough.

I also read a disturbing story about some unknown evil-doer living in a nice, middle-class suburb who is poisoning his neighbor's beloved cats and dogs. I would imagine the poisoner is either a young man, because young men often do evil in their ignorance, or else an angry older man that is enraged because cats and dogs stray onto his property or he hears dogs barking and wants silence.

I would like to be a policeman just to investigate such a crime and identify and arrest the culprit. I think I would be good at that. Unfortunately, policemen often spend their time on trivial matters. Crimes against animals are not perceived in their proper light as practice for crimes against humans. The perpetrator is evil and has chosen an easy target for his very first practice-murders, because house pets are ignorant of the evil of humans, yet I believe that an investigator could find him by studying the residents of the neighborhood and talking to the people who live nearby. 

The case reminds me of a knock on the door I received years ago. I opened the door to find a scowling elderly neighbor holding a dead cat in his arms. He told me that he had found my cat in his yard. He told me I shouldn't have let my cat wander onto his yard. "Look, see? Now it's dead." I replied that it was not my cat. He insisted that it was, but he was a deranged old man. I reiterated what I had said before, but his stubbornness persisted until finally I ordered him to leave my property and take the carcass with him. He was used to orders, being ex-military, and I think that was just what he needed. It was the only interaction that he and I ever had in all the years I lived at my home. He died several months later of natural causes, and I can only assume that his mental state had declined along with his physical. Upon reflection, I have wondered whether the old man had killed the cat himself. There are a lot of angry and sad old men in the world living alone who have driven their friends and relatives away with their bad manners. After he died, his children inherited and moved into his home. I had never known he had so much family. They had not been interested in visiting when he was alive, which is no great mystery. People do create their own worlds, driving others away or attracting them, as the case may be.

To harm human beings or their beloved pets, their cats and dogs, is a wicked blasphemy. It changes destiny. The changer cannot possibly know how many thousands of alterations will be wrought far into the future. In his ignorance, he may not even care.

A humble soul respects the complexity of this great chess game between Darkness and Light. One does not shake the board and remove random pieces, because there are ramifications that cannot possibly be fully understood, complications that cannot possibly be calculated to their conclusion by a human being. How much better it is to pass through this life in quiet reflection while leaving this world unchanged!

Some believe that having a mighty name and many possessions is the most important thing, but such matters are temporary. Even the humblest of the poor has a better lot than the mightiest of the dead.

Perhaps there is no divine punishment for dark deeds. Evil-doers operate with seeming impunity in savage times and places. They scorn what is good and boast about their evil deeds. Perhaps the choice between good and evil is merely one of taste, with the more refined preferring good and the primitive preferring evil.

Divine judge or no, consequences may still be observed by those who watch and listen. Those who prefer wickedness find themselves among the wicked, for the righteous will not suffer the company of the wicked. To dwell among the wicked is hell. Those who prefer righteousness will dwell among the righteous, and that is heaven.

I think that an evil-doer must suffer in the memory of wrongs committed in the past. Contrariwise, to know that one has done well and given happiness to others is a reward in itself. If I die tomorrow--and there is no guarantee that any of us will not--then I will pass from existence without regrets on the spiritual level. There will be others. We are not the last generation. There are many chapters still. The world is mysterious and complex, regenerating and always changing, and the simple math of subtraction and addition isn't all that existence is about.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

China, Russia, and the U.S.

I believe the U.S., with all its well-documented and freely reported imperfections, compares favorably against many other countries in the world in the area of human rights. Human rights, to me, encompass freedom of speech, due process of law, the absence of torture and other forms of state-sanctioned violence, and equal opportunity. The U.S. may not be the very best. I am not sure which country would be the very best.

I am absolutely certain the U.S. is far superior to countries such as Syria, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and Iran on human rights. The difference is like day and night. I also believe the U.S. is superior to Russia and China.

Now a critic of the U.S. may suppose that Guantanamo Bay, or some other incident, or even a pattern of abuses might shake one's faith in the U.S. The answer is no. The U.S. is good precisely because we have documentaries, reports and publication of human rights abuses. The reports and resultant scandals and controversies are evidence that human rights abuses are not acceptable in the U.S., and that attempts are being made to correct them. In China and Russia, there is just a great yawning silence, because the police are busy repressing attempts to correct human rights abuses. They are busy silencing critics of the government. They are locking people away who complain and protest. The governments of Russia and China utter outrageous lies and punish those who point out the lies.

When someone tells me that Russia and America, or China and America, are basically the same, or even that China or Russia is better, they are doing me a favor. They may as well be wearing a tattoo on their forehead that says: Do not trust me. There are human beings for whom power is all, and righteousness pales by comparison. Such people are aligned with evil. There is no better way to put the matter. They have made a choice, and their dwelling is in the darkness.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Rhea is an unusual name that arose a few nights ago in a dream, and I wonder whether it has any significance to me at all. Wikipedia reveals the name to be that of a Titaness and the mother of the Olympian gods.

A possible connection to my life is that I have been playing "Age of the Titans" recently, and in that game, out of all the available gods and goddesses my civilization may worship, I select Gaia, the Earth-Mother, who was the mother of Rhea.

There are competing versions of Rhea's identity. Some believed her to be the same entity as Cybele. This sort of confusion is common in ancient mythology. Virtually every god and hero has multiple versions of myths regarding his exploits. I am not favorably disposed to Cybele, because ancient worshippers of Cybele were known to both self-castrate and completely remove the penis as a form of religious devotion. That is distasteful to me, but perhaps to an ancient transgender person, it would offer liberation from a man's role in ancient society, and Cybele would grant social and religious sanction to perform the deed. Forever after, such a devotee would be regarded as a priest of Cybele, perhaps, and lodge in the local temple, exempt from draft and other male duties and functions.

I do feel a strong connection to the earth and to living and growing things, so I am favorably disposed to Gaia and her daughter Rhea. I think that life is beautiful, mysterious, and worthy of study.

The Death Penalty

Those who favor the death penalty must contend with cases like Paco's in the Philippines. In the U.S., our government also behaves in an irrational manner sometimes. Mistakes are made. All governments are capable of error and their error rate is high.

Anyone who has worked to create and maintain extremely complicated systems understands the ways in which unexpected and exceptional cases, or errors, can arise. I know that errors almost certainly arise. The more complexity, the more possibility of error. Legal systems are extremely complicated. That is why expensive, highly trained lawyers are required. If a legal system is isolated from all political and social pressure, then it may crafted in such a way as to become resistant to error, but such a legal system has never existed in the history of mankind. Only a naive person would assume the legal system to be free of error. Such a person would not make a good engineer.

Death is a permanent decision that cannot be corrected, yet the possibility of error remains high. Human beings have not created a legal system that is free of error.

When there is a possibility of error, a good engineer will introduce an error-correcting mechanism. Only an incompetent and sloppy engineer would let the error wreak havoc. In the case of a legal system, an error might result in the maximum punishment assigned to an innocent person. A competent engineer will prefer a maximum punishment amenable to correction. We must be vigilant against mistakes. Mistakes can arise from corruption, simple incompetence, and other unexpected causes. It is not possible to foresee all the reasons for every error.

Life imprisonment can be partially corrected by early release. Death cannot be corrected. Indeed, the chief advantage of the death penalty accrues to the psychopathic criminals who have wormed their way into the system and misuse the law to their own ends. There are likely to be Trojan horses of one form or another in every government--in law enforcement agencies and in the judicial system. These systems are all vulnerable to Trojan horses in proportion to their size and complexity and are ill-protected from them.

Therefore I conclude the death penalty is wrong until such time that governments reduce their error rate to 0%. The death penalty may not be the greatest evil in a society. The greatest evil may be the waging of needless war or the corruption that influences our leaders to divert public funds to their rich cronies. Yet it is evil and reflects sloppy and careless design.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Case of the Runaway Cat

My cat ran away soon after Christmas, just after I had written a post here about what a wonderful relationship I have with my cats. Perhaps there is something to the ancient Greek notion of hubris--that when mortals boast, they tempt the gods to punish.

I did not chase after my cat, although it lingered nearby. Cats prefer familiar surroundings, but if chased, may wander further afield. I did not wish to drive the cat away. It is pointless to try to capture a cat outdoors. Confined quarters are a different matter, but in the outdoors, the cat determines when and where he will meet a human.

I realized the longer the cat was out, the hungrier he would get, and the more he would want to return to the luxury resort of my all-day kitty buffet, with fresh clean water to drink, no neighbor cats to contend with, shelter from the elements and two kind and gentle humans to attend to his every whim.

After a week, the cat found that hunting birds was for the birds. Hunting is a difficult skill that requires training. It is not something that can be readily learned in middle-age by a soft and sedentary housepet. Perhaps this was not obvious to him.

I found him one day in the backyard. He would not let me approach, but walked away and hid under a shed. He seemed weak and unsteady and had lost weight.

The cat could not possibly understand all the reasons I have for wanting him to stay indoors, away from disease-carrying animals, cars, trucks, fleas and other parasites. To the cat, I am a prison warden, whatever my other virtues. His mixed appraisal of me is something I have come to accept. In order to enhance the value, health and well-being of a pet, humans do things that cats may not like or understand. Confinement indoors is one of these things that my cat does not like, because he observes birds from the windows and wants to hunt them. He is hardwired with this great and overriding desire to hunt. Sometimes the impulse is so strong that it can conflict with feelings of loyalty to me.

To remind the cat of the great benefits my regime offers, I left a small amount of his food out in an open cardboard box overnight. Cats have an excellent sense of smell, and I had no doubt he would find his old, familiar food. When I inspected the box the next morning, the food was gone, and the cat was nearby stalking a possum family that lives in a ditch.

I approached the cat slowly and carefully, so as not to spook. He made his usual motions of backing away, but I called to him, using the command I always use when I want him to come to me. A pet responds to its master's voice. If there is a good relationship, then the pet wishes to please its master. Unless the cat were mentally ill, I knew there would be a desire to please me and not run away. I also knew that hunger worked in my favor. I continued speaking to him in a calm and normal manner as I approached. My voice worked like a magical charm. The cat stopped moving, just as I desired.

Surely the cat knew, without any doubt, that I offered food, a full belly, affection and comfortable living. There should never be any doubt about those things. I always reward compliance. I always treat my cat well. This is why the cat allowed me to approach and pick him up and take him back to my house. What a relief it was to have him safe and sound in my arms again! He seemed quite content to be there.

Maybe he needed to learn about the dangers of the outdoors by experience. Perhaps he did not learn at all or will forget the lesson. I am doubtful he will remember. I expect he will always have the desire to go outside and try to hunt birds and other small creatures. My goal is just to protect him as best I can for as long as possible.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

"Young Dracula" Staked in Season Four

Young Dracula used to be a fun show. The first season is the best, the funniest and the most entertaining. The Count shines with wit and humor, Vlad is charming, and Ingrid and the Slayers provide dramatic edge. From season 1 to season 4, there is a steady progression towards mediocrity. Someone stupid seized control of the franchise in season 4. All wit and humor has been eliminated completely. The show is grim and depressing and stupid, with no rhyme or reason to the plot, which has so many holes it looks like swiss cheese, but without the flavor.

Apocalypsis is a mental illness common to writers for vampire shows. The writers come up with tired apocalyptic plotlines that have been tried a thousand times before. From season 3 on, many threads in the plot have been ripped off from True Blood. Vampires are going to take over the world and kill all the humans. Or vampires and humans are going to be at open war. Vlad becomes a super-powerful demigod. An Authority requires all vampires to drink donated blood or synthetic blood instead of human blood. Does any of this sound familiar to a True Blood fan?
The Count has had his role greatly reduced, all his wit absent. Renfield has seen his role reduced, and the campy talking wolf is gone. All Vlad's lines depict him as a wet blanket, a drip, a wimp, nothing anyone would want to watch for more than five seconds. I don't see any further point in watching. I'm just wondering who killed the show and why.

Television writers--or more likely, the managers who control them--have a long history of killing successful and original shows: Torchwood, Six Feet Under, House, and the list goes on. After a while the plot turns stupid. I guess the writers run out of ideas. There is a very simple solution: replace whoever is managing the writers. Otherwise, the show dies, and the producers lose money. I think that the producers of "Young Dracula" deserve to lose money, because they took a good product and completely ruined it.

The most important aspect of a show is the writing. Everything else is a very, very distant second.


Perhaps my judgment was too hasty. After episode 5, the show improved. I think the plot involving a forced marriage was difficult to comprehend or sympathize with. Forced marriages are not an issue in 2013 in Western culture. Furthermore, Vlad, as the Chosen One, is certainly powerful enough to marry whomever he desires. This observation gets back to what I was saying about the plot having the consistency of swiss cheese. If the plot is illogical, then any viewer with a logical mind is going to dislike it. The story will seem all wrong, and the characters will seem stupid and irrational and impossible to relate with. However, after the forced marriage was called off, season 4 improved a bit.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tucows, Soft32 & Cnet

Tucows and Soft32 manufacture new versions of programs that even the program's developers don't know about. These "new versions" are wrapped up in Soft32's and Tucow's "Download Administrator," which attempts to install malware on the end-user's computer. The motive for manufacturing a bogus new version is to tempt existing users of the program to download the "new" version--along with their revenue-generating "Download Administrator." Cnet uses a similar "Download Administrator," but I haven't detected bogus program versions yet, so it seems Cnet's management clings to one last, tattered shred of ethics--at the moment at least--or else they have eluded my vigilance, the cunning rascals.

Apparently these supposedly "free" download sites are desperate to make money, so they have joined forces with malware vendors intent upon crippling and misusing people's computers. Such vendors prey upon the technologically less sophisticated users, like my mother.

Thus, Tucows, Soft32 and Cnet represent unsafe web sites that must not be used by anyone except those prepared to take great risk with their computer system, such as professional computer investigators. I would recommend banning these sites altogether to prevent the unwary from accessing them.

A good site for obtaining free software used to be Source forge, but from what I understand, that site may also be oozing in the direction forged by the above corporate culprits.

It seems the almighty dollar is prized above ethics. Those with money always want more and they are willing to do anything at all in order to get it. When such souls pass on, they should be remembered for what they were. Big-shot, big-name CEO's, even of major computer manufacturing companies, are not exempt from posterity's judgment. If they sent American jobs overseas, betrayed America in other ways, crippled computers, or harmed people in some other way, then such deeds tend to overshadow their other endeavors. They made a bunch of money--big deal, so what, who cares? No form of currency is recognized after death.

Monday, January 6, 2014

I Use Duck Duck Go and I'm Proud of It

There are several things I like about DuckDuckGo, a search engine competing with Google. For one thing, there needs to be an alternative to Google. I think everybody realizes that an absolute monopoly is not a good thing. However, I don't like my web sites getting hit by a thousand different bots from a thousand different search engines, either. It is obviously more efficient for just a handful of bots to patrol the web looking for new sites and evaluating their rankings and relationships. To that end, DuckDuckGo doesn't send out its own bots, but purchases search data from Bing and Yahoo and repackages it using its own filtering algorithms. DuckDuckGo bans content mills and may offer superior results to Google, which seems to be the #1 target of all SEO scum.

Another thing I like about DuckDuckGo is what I call the silly factor. I like the name and I like the quacking duck, all right? Is there anything wrong with that? I didn't think so. A ducky on my browser is a necessity. The ducky protects against dragonflies.

Another cool thing about DuckDuckGo is that it is Linux-friendly. Apparently some money trickles down to Linux Mint and various other Linux distros in exchange for making DuckDuckGo the default search engine in Firefox in those distros. I think that is fair, considering that these distros are provided free of charge to the end user, although donations are requested (but not often enough provided).

Google, like all companies, runs the risk of getting too big for its britches and becoming another unresponsive, uncaring, ambivalent corporate behemoth. I'm not actually a critic of Google. I like Google and I like a lot of the things that Google does. I can't think of anything I disapprove of in relation to Google. But almost by instinct I tend to gravitate toward the underdog, and the sillier, fiercer and feistier, the better, in my book.

I'm not a fan of Yahoo, because Yahoo serves up too many ads and toolbars. I believe Yahoo is lacking in ethics. Bing on the other hand suffers from the connection to Microsoft. It's just too smooth and too non-innovative, offering no new features, intent upon dwelling in the shadow of Google.
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions