Sunday, February 28, 2016

Thoughts on Linux Mint Hack

I've always wondered whether somebody may have hacked any of the Linux distros I have used over the years. And now the day has come when I've been informed of precisely that. Well, Windows is not exactly the most secure OS in the world, either, so stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Anyway, Clem, the founder of Linux Mint, informed everybody almost immediately of the hack, and in my opinion that's best practice. Some people are now saying, oh dear, Linux Mint is horribly insecure, go back to Debian or Ubuntu or Windows, etc. Anyone that uses this occasion to criticize is just a dirty bird. Not fair play. Was the United States government never hacked? If the State gets hacked, then who is safe? Get real, read the news, drink a cup of coffee, whatever it takes to return to the reality that the rest of us are living in. I honestly do not know what planet some of these naysayers live on. Oh, Wordpress is insecure, is it? Well, then how come my WP site never gets hacked? Learn about security, for one thing, and then talk.

The Internet is a Wild, Wild West, always has been, but nevertheless, much progress has been made on the security front. Things are better now, because fences and gates have been invented and refined, and backups, logs and site analysis tools are now routine, although definitely not everyone understands these things. Some shops don't have a proper web site admin, and they tend to be the shops that get hacked.

The downside to all of this is that Clem is being forced to worry over security, and less time will get devoted to the version 18. The other downside is that the forums look very primitive now. It is like a bomb went off on the web site, and it looks worse. As if Clem didn't have his hands full just coping with GNOME's peculiarities, trying to get it incorporated into Cinnamon.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Regets of an Older Person

I have grown old enough to remember times past. Now I regret several trends in the modern world.

First and foremost, I dislike that cold hard cash is going away. I think money is a good thing. It is hard to trace, which is both good and bad, depending on the situation. I like less information in the hands of governments, because I do not trust governments. The American government is one of the better ones, but I still do not trust it completely. That which is mortal is prone to failure--and to corruption. Money is good for human beings, because we evolved along with it for thousands of years, and it has a long history with us. When money is invisible, as in the case of a credit card, then it is hard to fathom. I see young people getting into debt all the time, and not idiots either, but extremely intelligent young people, who should know better, but they have been seduced by the siren call of easy credit and getting things now as opposed to saving up for them. Where is wisdom, forbearance, and delayed gratification? Young people are the ones that will suffer most, because they have been unschooled by money.

And money is a school. I know exactly how much I can spend at any given time, because of the money in my wallet. I can see it. I can feel it. It has a texture. It even has a smell. If it takes a little bit longer to make change at a cash register, then that delay allows time for reflection over my purchase. The easier and the faster that a purchase is, the more likely it will be made upon impulse and not grounded in reason. Credit cards are horrible tools devised by clever marketing specialists. They use psychology, mathematics, and statistics, just like casino owners, to overwhelm the feeble human defences against overspending and impulse purchases. Remember, it was not long ago that there existed no money, no market, no economy. We were hunter-gatherers. Money in itself is a recent and radical innovation. Before money, there was bartering. Credit cards have arisen just within the last hundred years, and the human race is far from ready for them.

I regret that America is less than what it once was, and that no-one seems capable of reversing its decline, while China rises. China will cause many problems in the world, because their leadership is ruthless. America appears to be ruled by crony capitalists who seem only interested in their own affairs rather than those of their country. There is too much corruption and too little efficiency. Much money and time is wasted upon pointless exercises, such as adventures in the Middle East. It would be better to attend to domestic problems than to meddle overseas. Improve infrastructure and invest in scientific research and education is the simple answer and the correct one. But people want to stretch for bloody glory against weak enemies, foes that die easily but reproduce their numbers continually, so that a never-ending quagmire of money-draining goes on. Meanwhile, China improves infrastructure and invests in scientific research. Can anyone read the writing on the wall? Perhaps I will be gone before the fate I see comes to pass.

I am neutral, rather than partisan, on the issue of books and newspapers. They were good and bad. There was a lot of bad. Some people don't remember. They think of Shakespeare when they think of books. I remember bad books, bad newspapers, bad magazines. So now the world derives information online. I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing. I think it may be good, but I reserve judgment. I do like books, too. But most books are probably bad. There are some authors that I really like to escape with and join them in their mental space for hours and days and months at a time. Their books are good. They can be formative, even life-changing. I think books will always be with us. Videos can be tedious, and they are hard to produce, but not only that, some people express themselves best through thought, rather than theatrics, and books are the most efficient medium for thought.

Health care is a big PITA in the U.S.A., and is only getting worse. Nurses and doctors are now expected to be accountants and programmers. Instead of studying medicine, they must study computer programs and insurance plans. Instead of paying attention to the patient, they pay attention to the computer. So health care is terrible. When you go to see a nurse, she has to stare at the computer screen instead of listening to you. Meanwhile, other countries like Canada have health care figured out. Unfortunately, in the USA we have something called the Republican party that opposes anything that might potentially improve the lot of the poor or minorities. If you have insurance, then you have to navigate a maze of different insurance companies, different insurance policies, updates to said policies, HSA debit cards, insurance cards, toll-free numbers with wait times in excess of one hour, and so on, ad nauseum. I am sick to death of insurance companies. I have four different insurance companies for different facets of my health care, four different usernames and passwords, four different phone numbers I need to call, and I had no choice in the matter but was given this by my employer. The Democrats are stupid because they want to make health care more complicated, rather than less. The Republicans are stupid because they don't even want people to have health care in the first place. Both of the stupidities intermingle and combine to create an ever bigger stupidity. And what we are left with is health care in the U.S., which is boneheaded stupid.

I will have to continue this post another time.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

I am the Minority Opinion

Mine is always the minority opinion... until it isn't. I'm amused with the world. Oftentimes I've lamented I was the only one to think so-and-so, such as: gays are equal to straights and not worse (!disputed by everyone I knew!); or, marijuana is better than alcohol and should be legal (!disputed by every adult I knew!); or, religion is dangerous and harmful whenever it is dogmatic (disputed by most, though my father agreed). These, my opinions, stirred controversy. Sometimes, I felt alienated to be a member of what seemed, to me many years ago, only a tiny minority.

The succession of years and momentous events in the world proved me wrong, not in what I believed, but in believing that I was the only one. Indeed my ideas have gained mind-shares, and not through advertising or money or power, but because they are right and because their truth can be experienced by everyone. The merit of my opinions has been vindicated. How lucky that so much change should happen in my lifetime for me to witness it. I have been touched upon the forehead, I have been blessed. My wonder is great, because there was a time I wished to leave this world. I am glad that I opted to remain and would recommend a similar course to anyone.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Blogging and the Ban

What's the common denominator between NORML and Linux Mint? Neither site's blog posts comments from yours truly. I suspect it is due to the unwelcome baggage accompanying the innocuous comment, namely this url. The censoring editor, whoever that may have been, took a gander at this web site, grew afeared by the opinions, and decided the safest path was to ban the comment or the commenter. There is a prevalent trend now of avoiding controversy by not posting urls. Urls are distracting, first of all, and there is the danger a visitor could leave the site for the site of the url.

In time, I forget I'm censored, or suppose myself mistaken in my assumption, because I'm never sure about anything, unlike Donald Trump. I like to be fair and give second chances, and besides, there are technical reasons a comment could fail to post. With all of that in mind, I try again, months later, typing from one to three paragraphs in a comment, only to encounter the same result, which is the vaporization of my verbosity. I don't mind that I try and try again, wasted effort though it is, because I like confirmation of my assumptions. On each occasion when my comment fails to post, I perceive a door remaining shut, and that is a good reminder, if nothing else. Of course, as with everything, there are advantages and disadvantages. It is easier to move past a closed door than an open one, where one might feel curious enough to look in on occasion to see what is inside and offer assistance and advice. There are those that I can help and those that don't seem to need help. Through the years, I've gotten better at sorting the types and then moving on.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Dumbed Down OSes

Modern operating systems like Windows 10 and all smart phones have been dumbed down to the point where they work great if you're dumb and terrible if you're not.

My Chromebook won't let me do anything without installing and more likely buying some app from the app store. There is no GUI even for something as mundane as renaming a file. I regard ChromeOS as crippleware, with little more functionality than a browser. Forget about any utilities such as FileZilla that other desktops run. The Chromebook is basically a browser, period. Google has gone to great lengths to cripple their product and "protect the user from himself."

Windows 10 likes to hide things from the user. When I tried to shutdown Windows 10 today, it told me to Please wait and Do Not Turn Off the Computer. Doubtless it was uploading all the spyware-data it stole from me to Microsoft's marketing department, so that Microsoft can sell the data to advertising firms. But there wasn't enough bandwidth available, so the process got stuck and was still going on an hour later. I defied Microsoft and restarted the computer anyway, because I wanted to run Linux, which I like, as opposed to Windows 10, which I distrust and hate. All Windows 10 is, is Spam, Advertising, and Malware all rolled into one big, nasty ball and prettied up to look like a smartphone. However, we have to go with Windows 10, because it will continue to be supported in the future, whereas Windows 7 will not. My plan is to use Windows 10 about 1% of the time, and Linux 99% of the time, until such time that I can dispense with Windows altogether by replacing the few apps that only work on Windows.

The only reason I continue using Windows is ACDSee and Call Clerk. Once those applications support Linux, I'm done with Windows forever. Krita is starting to get pretty good as an image editor, and can do a lot of important things that ACDSee never got around to doing, so perhaps I will not buy any future versions of ACDSee. As for Call Clerk, I might have to discontinue my land line service in order to avoid needing to use it. I doubt Call Clerk will ever be ported to Linux, because landlines are on the wane, and with it the market for Call Clerk.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

The Supreme Court

I feel curiously unmoved by reports of Scalia's passing. I have not really kept up with anything involving him in the news. His replacement could be better or worse. He certainly lived a long life.

I haven't followed Supreme Court cases much. Even the gay marriage case I am not adequately familiar with. As for Scalia, sometimes I agreed with him, but more often I think, not. He was a jurist, not a politician or philosopher. His merits can be debated among legal scholars. I do not think he was either the best or the worst. He was not consistent in his philosophy but seemed biased in his interpretations, giving a lot of bend to his principles when it suited his personal beliefs. I prefer other jurists.

I don't really like the idea of a Supreme Court with power to make or reinterpret law. Ideally, that is, in an imaginary perfect world that does not exist, law should be determined by the legislative branch. However, our legislative branch is conservative and slow to act, except in cases of war. They act fast where there is any chance of military action. It seems to me they are hungry for it, because that means lots of extra money for their rich clients. For other things, such as social reform, they are glacial. I think that many reforms should be passed to make our legislative branch better. Then the Supreme Court would not be asked to do those things the legislative branch is too ignorant to do.

However, a thing may be judged on its effects, rather than its appearance. The effects of some Supreme Court rulings have been good in some case, ill in others. On balance, perhaps, good?

There is something to be said for a law issuing forth, not from a group of politicians, but from the ultimate transcultural, material and spiritual symbol of justice and power in the world, the Judge, dressed in his robes, reigning in court, like an ancient king in his awesome dignity. Is it not right that we should do as the kings and queens bid of us, even as our ancestors did far back into time immemorial? Our docile submission is in our blood. Even the wise feel awed by a Supreme Court decision, grounded in reason and invested with all the authority that only a group of judges can give. Much is just show, but how many perceive that, and how many, even perceiving, feel awed all the same?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


There are folks out there that think China is hunky-dory. I guess because they think General T'zo was a great military leader. Or they discovered green tea in the grocery store.

The reality is that China is a bad actor on the Internet, and here's just a recent example.

American companies that offshore jobs to China should pay a tax for each job they offshore, to reflect the hidden costs such as a more dangerous world, a more dangerous Internet, and a weakening of the U.S. economy. Some CEOs simply have no scruples, no sense of responsibility whatsoever to their country. It is too bad that they get rewarded by Wall Street for reducing the number of jobs in America. There needs to be some accounting for the costs of giving power, money, and jobs to a nation like China that has no ethics, abides by no law and respects only force. A thousand dollars per year per job sent overseas would be a good start on a new and just tax. Apple should be paying the U.S. debt down with all the billions of dollars in fines that they so richly deserve. Steve Jobs had the most ironic name in the history of American business. Apple should rebuild Detroit and other decayed American cities with all the wealth they gathered by short-changing the workers. If the elite do not take care of what is happening in this country and see to it that jobs are there for the workers, then in the not-so-distant future, the U.S. will cease to be a world power at all. There are too many people either unemployed or underemployed.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Age-old Controversy over Abortion

I never saw a problem with the right to abortion. I'm for a lot of rights, and I think there is a high burden of proof on the side that wants to restrict liberty. "Why you wanna put people in jail?" is the question that comes to my mind. If you want to make something illegal, you had better have a darn good case for jail, or else you're the problem, not the solution.

I have gotten to know a fair number of conservatives and conservative Republicans in my day, and once I asked a friend why he liked the Republican party so much, seeing as how he wasn't rich and couldn't possibly invest that much feeling in the Republican party's fiscal agenda, which is to tax the poor, give welfare to the rich, and spend trillions on foreign wars against third-rate powers. The main issue for him, he said, was abortion. He saw it as wrong, because according to his religion, life began at conception, and therefore any human action to interfere with said life was murder. Drawing the line at conception seemed arbitrary to me, so I asked him how he felt about sperm and egg cells, which we waste on a regular basis, through intentional or biological processes. He was wholly uninterested in gametes, and said conception was different, that it was something spiritual ordained by God, even, he said, in cases of rape or incest.

To me, conception is certainly nothing special. I am not sure where one should draw the line on the sanctity of life, but certainly conception seems far too soon. Wombs abort their contents spontaneously, and clearly the body itself does not hold special what some sentimentalists do regarding the new tissue.

As for that anti-abortion black and white poster showing a fetus within a womb and a autobiography of its development, ending with "my mother murdered me," I always thought, "you fortunate thing, to avoid being mothered by a monster." If the mother would deal death unto her own, then what good is to come by compelling her to give birth? No good can come of that. Unwanted and unloved children remain a problem in the world. Abortion, then, may be a mercy, not a crime. The crime would be to sentence the unborn to being raised by a parent that did not want it.

Men who frown on abortion need to man up. The main reason abortion is needed is because men have done their women wrong through carelessness, incompetence or wickedness. There are men who either won't use or can't figure out a condom. If a woman evaluates the sire and determines the child is better not to be, then it is criminal arrogance and a grave Sin for anyone to countermand her choice, as though they know her situation and are wiser and better to decide for her. They do not know her situation. They are not wiser. They lie, they sin, and theirs is a criminal interference. Mother knows best, in this above all other things, for it is her body and her life. Her designated role is clear to anyone with eyes to see. The mother is the gatekeeper, the final arbiter, as was ordained long ago, from the very beginning. What is not needed are future generations of carelessness, incompetence or wickedness.

People who want to control other people are the main problem with the world today. The same rule we were taught in school applies to the world of adults: Keep your hands to yourself. Leave other people alone.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Yes, I Do Love Bernie

I will vote for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary.

And so will my elderly mother. She watched him on television in a Democratic debate. She was a Hillary supporter originally, but now she sides with Bernie, because he is well-spoken, bright, and passionate.

I don't care what his hair looks like.

It is true he is old, but Hillary is no spring chicken either at 68, and Bernie does not appear remiss in his intellectual faculties.

I do not care that he calls himself a Socialist. We are all socialists, whether we know it or not, because we use the interstate highway system, Social Security, and the police and fire department.

He is a good fellow and bright, and that is more than can be said for the others. I think he intends to serve the country and make something of his life through his deeds.

And I say that he will win against any of the Republican candidates and will be our next President, so get used to the hair and the aged face and the socialism.

I don't like that Hillary assumes she is the logical next President. I don't like that Hillary has taken so many short-cuts, wife of a President and all that, to get where she is at. I do not think that she belongs in her position, and I would not elevate her. Why must she continually generate tedious controversies through her mismanagement, thoughtlessness, cluelessness and incompetence?

Monday, February 8, 2016

Exile ISIS

Anybody connected with ISIS should have their citizenship revoked. Tens of thousands of their families and friends would also be good candidates for exile. Is there really a need for millions of angry Muslims in Europe? They are just going to tear Europe down to resemble what they came from, the Middle East. Repatriate these Muslims to Syria. I don't see paying for a ticket on a passenger airliner, however. That's a bit much to ask of hard-working taxpayers. They can be jettisoned out the sewage flap of a cargo plane, one by one, along with similar material unloaded by the crew. (Serve the crew lots of fibre bars.) These ISI-Sissies can learn about the gravity of their actions from ten thousand feet.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


Most dead writers, resurrected into the modern age, would choose not to write, for the obvious reasons. I feel excused, therefore, for not devoting my hours to stories that I could craft. There's no reward, only time-wasting and potential derision. The best thing for a writer born into this world is to publish under a pseudonym. Those stories that just can't be kept down can be regurgitated in harmless anonymity. No one will pay any attention, and the verbose vomit won't excite any criticism, but gather dust in a cyber-dustbin, read by few or none.

Friday, February 5, 2016


My goals are simple and, I think, humble. I want to live the good life, with a minimum of drama. I had enough drama as a youngster. And when I reach the dregs of the cup of life, and this world please me no more, I wish to fade from it, or rather vanish from it, with silence and dignity, leaving no loose ends, nothing other than this mortal shell. Maybe I will find a way to dispose of that as well with dignity and decorum.
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions