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Journal: I READ THE NEWS TODAY OH BOY

Journal by Jeremiah Cornelius

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User Journal

Journal: step 1, count your money, step 2, send it in

Journal by Bill Dog

From the they-would've-never-made-this-song-later-in-their-career dept:

Let me tell you how it will be
There's one for you, nineteen for me
Should five percent appear too small
Be thankful I don't take it all

If you drive a car, I'll tax the street
If you try to sit, I'll tax your seat
If you get too cold, I'll tax the heat
If you take a walk, I'll tax your feet

Don't ask me what I want it for
Taxman, Mister Moonbeam (CA-540)
If you don't want to pay some more
Taxman, Mister O (1040)

Now my advice for those who die
Declare the pennies on your eyes
'Cause I'm the Taxman
Yeah, I'm the Taxman
And you're working for no-one but me

Happy Tax Day! :)

User Journal

Journal: Product Review: Seagate Personal Cloud 5

Journal by mcgrew

Around the first of the year all three working computers were just about stuffed full, so I thought of sticking a spare drive in the Linux box, when the Linux box died from a hardware problem. It's too old to spend time and money on, so its drive is going in the XP box (which is, of course, not on the network; except sneakernet). I decided to break down and buy an external hard drive. I found what I was looking for in the "Seagate Personal Cloud". And here I thought the definition of "the cloud" was someone else's server!

I ordered it the beginning of January, not noticing that it was a preorder; it wasn't released until late March. I got it right before April.

I was annoyed with its lack of documentation -- it had a tiny pamphlet full of pictures and icons and very few words. Whoever put that pamphlet together must beleive the old adage "a picture is worth a thousand words". Tell me, if a picture is worth a thousand words, convey that thought in pictures. I don't think it can be done.

I did find a good manual on the internet. For what I wanted, I really didn't need a manual, but since I'm a nerd I wanted to understand everything about the thing. Before looking for a manual I plugged it all up, and Windows 7 had no problem connecting with it. It takes a few minutes to boot; it isn't really simply a drive, it must have an operating system and network software, because it looks to the W7 notebook to be another file server. Its only connections are a jack for the power cord and a network jack.

The model I got has three terrabytes. I moved all the data from the two working computers (using a thumb drive to move data from XP) and the "cloud" was still empty. Streaming audio and video from it is flawless; I'm completely satisfied with it, it's a fine piece of hardware.

However, it WON'T do what is advertised to do, which is to be able to get to your data from anywhere. In order to do that, Seagate has a "software as a service" thing where you can connect to a computer from anywhere, but only the computer and its internal drives, NOT the "personal cloud". And they want ten bucks a month for it.

I downloaded the Android app, and I could see and copy files that were on my notebook to my phone, but I couldn't play music stored there on it. I uninstalled the crap. "Software as a service" is IMO evil in the first place, but to carge a monthly fee to use a piece of crap software like this is an insult. Barnum must have been right.

If you're just looking for an external hard drive, like I was, it's a good solution. If you want what they're advertising, you ain't gettin' it. The Seagate Personal Cloud's name is a lie, as is its advertising.

User Journal

Journal: Gleichschaltung [LONG] 10

Journal by Bill Dog

Gleichschaltung [LONG]

This started as a response to smitty's latest JE, but got too long. From TFA he sites:

In the old days, the left railed against the eeeevils of Big Business, whether it was Upton Sinclair versus the meatpackers, or demonizing the men who built Americaâ(TM)s network of railroads with the folk Marxist twang of âoeRobber Barons.â But these days, as weâ(TM)ve seen in the past few weeks with Starbucksâ(TM) Howard Schultz and Appleâ(TM)s Tim Cook, American business is almost totally onboard with the leftâ(TM)s social agenda. Comcastâ(TM)s MSNBC channel and Viacomâ(TM)s Daily Show and all three of the broadcast networkâ(TM)s news programs are effectively daily in-kind contributions to the Democrat Party.

But individual small businesses are a lot more random in their thinking, which is why the left hates them, unless they obediently conform to the Gleichschaltung.

And, as a parenthetical, from the linked article for that German word:

Donâ(TM)t miss the rest of Billâ(TM)s essay [on Progressivism], which moves from the Bridge of the Titanic, to the classrooms of the Frankfurt School, the birthplace of âoePolitical Correctnessâ And speaking of which, as Jonah Golberg asks, âoeWhat is political correctness other than the gears of the liberal Gleichschaltung?â

Gleichschaltung is a German word (in case you couldnâ(TM)t have guessed) borrowed from electrical engineering. It means âoecoordination.â The German National Socialists (Nazis) used the concept to get every institution to sing from the same hymnal. If a fraternity or business embraced Nazism, it could stay âoeindependent.â If it rejected Nazism, it was crushed or bent to the stateâ(TM)s ideology. Meanwhile, every branch of government was charged with not merely doing its job but advancing the official state ideology.

This what is looking to be an era of attacks on small business sheds more light on the overall strategy the Left has migrated to.

The "from" of course was the vilification of "big business", and in general (economic) success in America. So for example Slashdotters used to rail against successful, heavy-handed tech company Microsoft. Making a political movement out of the idea of cost-free software with source code included, and inventing the notion of "copyleft" to invert and subvert protection of the individual from the collective as far as software IP, was nerdy Leftists' little microcosm version of what had been the larger plan of the Left, to try to get the people to rise up against and throw out private industry. ("Big business" being just a proxy term for the actual target, capitalism.)

But that wasn't working. Capitalism, along with America's other values and traditions that the Left absolutely hates, would not be defeated in one glorious moment of destruction (and rebirth). The Left realized that our institutions would have to be corrupted and weakened from the inside, and converted to an overall system of what I'll call CINO, or Capitalism In Name Only, rather than explicitly collapsed and rebuilt. (Hence things like Obama's talk about "fundamentally transforming" America. Because the classical Lefty approach and dream was not going to pan out here, because our foundations were at the same time too far from the goal and too deep-rooted, legally and in the peoples' consciousnesses.)

The main information dissemination institutions in America were part of the first phase, and were easily compromised; K-12 and higher education, the entertainment industries (TV, movies, music), and journalism. These strategic captures were instrumental in winning the culture war in America, that, as TFA points out, they've been sore winners about since. Included in this phase was the takeover of science as thought about and practiced in this country, and the installment of policies in public sector employment to transition the bulk of government employees, and even more importantly the powerful leadership of regulating/pseudo law-making government departments, to being their people.

So unwanted turns of events as far as the consequences of democracy -- legislation -- could be undermined via the courts and ignoring by bureacrats. But then what to do about businesses. Well, Microsoft was evil to Leftie nerds because Gates (before he retired to pursue squandering millions of dollars on dumb ways of trying to save the world, and thereby becoming a Leftist himself, only differing in that the squandered millions are his own) and Balmer wanted to make money and crush the competition. Microsoft was evil for being this, until Google came along, that is. Despite being near as successful and heavy-handed, their founders were otherwise on board with Leftism. So it was entirely acceptable, in the new strategy.

Capitalism probably can't be defeated in this county, by vote. At least not until the more recent strategic component of diluting the votership with millions of immigrants from countries south of us where all they've really known and have come to accept is a low standard of living and continuing belief in and constant re-tries of the promises of socialism. So convert it to crony capitalism. Expand government's role from "hands-off until a rule is broken" to "get in bed with us and we'll help you with a leg up on your competitors" (meaning any of them not also in bed with government). Blur the public sector/private sector division with "public/private partnerships", and (sort of) NGO's/quasi-government organizations like Fannie and Freddie. Afterall, "you didn't build that". Tell the banks who they're going to buy and what they're going to do, or government will crush them. "Too big to fail", and also too useful as instruments of government policy to pass up utilizing.

The giant companies of Silicon Valley have already been on board with the Left, in its leadership positions. I'm not sure there's any large companies left that haven't liberalized employment benefits by extending them to employees' same-sex live-in lovers (can I as a man shack up with a lady and get her on my company health plan?) or who aren't regularly talking about diversity as one of the business objectives. So really the largest problem remaining in the business world is the SMB's. Big businesses have already shown good progress on and are on track toward becoming directable tools of the state. But SMB's, like still a large part of white male America (and maybe tiny parts of other groupings of Americans), still feel a sense of being independent.

We're all supposed to be in this (pursuit of a centrally planned, based on Leftist values and principles, society and economy) together, so really the biggest problem in America to the Left, as far as not quite yet having a real plan in place to deal with that is already on the path to success, is the existence of people like Tea Partiers and small business owners. The former seems to have pretty much fizzled out on its own, thanks to traditional Americans' tendency towards apathy and the inability to sustain feelings of outrage. So what's left is converting the small business landscape in America. That's where things like raids, high taxation, lawsuits, extortion measures by Left-wing groups, and government-enhanced high barriers to entry come in. Crony capitalism is the new socialism, and these are the hold-outs.

User Journal

Journal: We've been spelling it wrong for over a quarter century 8

Journal by mcgrew

I'm surprised that this hasn't been addressed by the academic communities. Someone with a degree in English or linguistics or something like that should have though of this decades ago.

This word (actually more than one word) has various spellings, and I've probably used all of them at one time or another. The word is email, or eMail, or e-mail, or some other variation. They're all wrong.

It's a contraction of "electronic mail" and as such should be spelled e'mail. The same with e'books and other e'words.

So why hasn't someone with a PhD in English pointed this out to me? I have no formal collegiate training in this field. It's a mystery to me.

User Journal

Journal: Are printed books' days numbered? 4

Journal by mcgrew

In his 1951 short story The Fun They Had, Isaac Asimov has a boy who finds something really weird in the attic -- a printed book. In this future, all reading was done on screens.

When e'books* like the Nook and Kindle came out, there were always women sitting outside the building on break on a nice spring day reading their Nooks and Kindles. It looked like the future to me, Asimov's story come true. I prefer printed books, but thought that it was because I'm old, and was thirty before I read anything but TV and movie credits on a screen.

And then I started writing books. My youngest daughter Patty is going to school at Cincinnati University (as a proud dad I have to add that she's Phi Beta Kappa and working full time! I'm not just proud, I'm in awe of her) and when she came home on break and I handed her a hardbound copy of Nobots she said "My dad wrote a book! And it's a REAL book!"

So somehow, even young people like Patty value printed books over e'books.

My audience is mostly nerds, since few non-nerds know of me or my writing, so I figured that the free e'book would far surpass sales of the printed books. Instead, few people are downloading the e'books. More download the PDFs, and more people buy the printed books than PDFs and ebooks combined.

Most people just read the HTML online, maybe that's a testament to my m4d sk1llz at HTML (yeah, right).

Five years ago I was convinced ink was on the way out, but there's a book that was printed long before the first computer was turned on that says "the news of my death has been greatly exaggerated".

* I'll write a short story about the weird spelling shortly.

User Journal

Journal: Where's my damned tablet? 11

Journal by mcgrew

I'd like to know why in the hell nobody is selling a tablet, or maybe an app for existing tablets, that will let me watch over the air TV on it?

All the necessary hardware is there. Wi-fi and bluetooth are radios. Some cell pones can pick up FM music stations, and have been able to do so and have done so for years.

The FM radio band sits between channels six and seven on the VHF television channels. If it can hear radio, it can see TV.

The technology is there, why isn't the commercial device to be found? Offer a tablet I can watch TV without the internet and I'll buy one. Maybe two.

User Journal

Journal: gun garbage [long] 9

Journal by Bill Dog

Someone kind of set me off at work on Friday. Gotta work on that. She was apparently reading something about an idea to arm teachers. Or more specifically, offer concealed carry licenses for the classroom. And indicated that she was appalled by the idea.

I said one of the beauties of concealed carry is that not everyone even has to have a gun, to still have the effect of discouraging bad people.

1) First it was the old "argument" that let a person have a gun and they'll turn into a dangerous lunatic. Teachers will be letting bullets fly all over the place, endangering the children and everyone around them.

I asked, should the police be allowed to carry guns? She apparently knew where I was going with that, and needed a minute on that one, so came back to what I had offered right before, and said well:
2) How is a teacher going to conceal it, and
3) How are they going to whip it out in time?

To the first, understand that only having it on their person is not essentially required. And in fact would be a bad idea, as it was seen recently in the news an older male teacher being overpowered by a single large student. I would suggest small gun safes, installed in the walls, in every classroom. And then the teachers having the key to it, among their other keys, on their person at all times.

But then a student or students could overpower the teacher and get the keys? Yes, but beyond the factor of not necessarily knowing which key is the one (only the teachers should know this, in addition to never giving out their key ring, even temporarily for something, to a student), this is where the "concealed" part comes in. I've just added a level of indirection to it. Student(s) still don't know if the gun safe in their classroom has a gun in it or not. Heck, put a gun lock on the gun so a bad guy student has to go through the exercise of finding which key works again; this is even more time for other students to exit the classroom during the altercation and seek help from other classrooms.

To the second, they are, and they aren't. If someone bursts into your classroom and starts shooting, they've simply got the element of surprise in their favor and you aren't going to stop them. It's about discouraging it from spilling over into other classrooms. It's not about some vain attempt to ensure that absolutely no one gets killed evar, it's about limiting the damage of these, albeit rare, incidents.

Adjoining classrooms, having heard shots fired somewhere near, would proceed to open their gun safes. Those teachers who've volunteered to have guns in their classroom safes and to respond to emergencies would take them and try to track down which classroom the incident was taking place in and end it. So why then a policy of everyone opening their safe in an emergency? I would have doing so trigger [unintentional pun] a special alarm throughout the school, so that even those who couldn't hear the shots fired would be given notice. Such as to prepare to defend their classrooms or to move their students to an armed classroom (the teachers should know who's part of the program and who's not).

(But then after a school shooting then the students (while they're at the school/in those grades, that is) will know who's armed and who isn't? True, but these are rare occurrences. And slight imperfections in any plan in general doesn't overcome its overall benefit.)

4) Then it was the old suggestion that more times than not the gun will be taken away and the victim will be victimized by their own weapon.

Well that's like the argument that we shouldn't fight back against terrorism, because it only angers the terrorists and causes more people to join them. You have to fight evil; you can't just refrain from trying to curtail violence by bad guys because of all the possible side effects. The alternative is ridiculous.

5) Finally, after having offered up this usual array of Left-wing criticisms, it's claimed that she only meant that her objection was that there was no mention of them getting proper training.

So now we're back to my prior posed line of questioning. I agreed that training should go along with the policy, if it's actually implemented (yeah, right; in today's America?!). But the police for example get training, and they still panic and empty their guns shooting up the wrong vehicle or into other houses. It's just ignoring human nature to expect all or most people to not freak out when they think their very lives are in danger. But that's not a reason to disarm the police, or the populace for that matter.

Which segues into my main point on this. A distinction between (mere) citizens, and "the authorities" (which the Left wants all (white) people to obey without question), is an artificial one when it comes to this. You're not imbued with some kind of magical extra-human powers when you're deputized. You're still just a person, susceptible to all the fears and failings of a human being.

So a recap and a filling out the remaining of what the Left would have us believe about people and guns:

* In general, no one should be allowed to have a gun except members of the government. Because only they can handle it, somehow.

* Unless you're a racist cop.

* And unless you're a member of military, really, because people only join the military because they want to kill people (and not at all instead because they want the government benefits).

* If you're a celebrity, then it's also okay if you own a gun.

* Even if you're one who vocally advocates for civilians not being allowed to have a gun.

* In general, "gun owner" = "gun nut".

* If you want a gun (aside from needing it for your job, or needing it because of the possibility of crazed fans or Right-wing detractors), you're a nut.

* Even if you don't start out a nut, having a gun will make you one, somehow.

* Defending yourself (and defenseless associates) against lethal force with lethal force only makes the situation worse. [For who?]

On a personal/full disclosure note, I don't own a gun, never have, maybe never will. I grew up (and probably because I've always lived in California) not knowing anyone personally who has guns, and still don't, except for my sis and her hubby who just got one recently. I shot BB guns *once*, in summer camp, I was never in the military or law enforcement or security, guns aren't in any way a part of my life, I may never own a gun in my life, but I want that right, along with all of the others in the Bill of Rights, in case I do someday wish to have one. (I don't need to wait until I personally want to exercise a right, to care about it.)

User Journal

Journal: fun with CSS 3 I guess 2

Journal by Bill Dog

So go to www.google.com (I just type in the middle part and use the Ctrl-Enter thingie, a lot), presumably in a modern browser, and type in "askew" without hitting Enter.

It probably only works in the mode where upon typing the first character into their home page it automatically jumps to the search box being in the upper left and intermediate results being displayed as you type, so might require JavaScript being enabled.

You can restore things by backspacing all the way and then begin typing say "askance".

Anyone come across any others? I see that "skew" is one of the keywords in the 2D transforms of the CSS 3 spec, but that word doesn't affect Google, as neither do some of the others.

p.s. On a partly unrelated note, what's with Google removing my dang commas. Paste in "275,908.952 watts" and then type " to hor", and it says "Showing results for 275 908.952 watts to horsepower", and only one document in the results listing. Click on the pop-up suggestion of "horsepower" and... you don't get your conversion. Go back and put the damn comma back and you'll get it. (But then notice in the conversion output that it lists the wattage without the comma!)

User Journal

Journal: Triplanetary 1

Journal by mcgrew

I've uploaded a new book to mcgrewbooks.com. Edgar E. Smith was a well known science fiction writer known as "the father of space opera", and Doctor Smith was a food engineer in his other life. The novel I've uploaded is Triplanetary, first published in serial form in Amazing Stories in 1934.

Some of the dialogue is a bit juvenile, but it would make a great movie.

User Journal

Journal: An Accidental Book 1

Journal by mcgrew

I've read books accidentally, meaning to read a single chapter and winding up reading it in one setting, but I've never started writing one accidentally.

Until now.

Tired of editing Random Scribblings and Voyage to Earth and Other Stories (Formerly titled "Mars Bars"), I thought I'd look for another science fiction novel in the public domain a little less ancient than The Time Machine to add to my web site.

I didn't find one, so decided to just make a book of public domain short stories by the 20th century greats. I found a LOT, and started assembling a book. Somehow, I wound up adding commentary and thought "Hey! New book!"

Then I discovered that one of the short stories wasn't so short -- in fact, it was a full blown novel. So for the last several days I've been formatting it to put on my web site. E.E. "Doc" Smith's Triplanetary will be posted in a few days.

I'll let you know when it's there. I guess I'm working on three books again. The collection I'm working on is tentatively titled "Yesterday's Tomorrow".

User Journal

Journal: just think how some conversations could go 7

Journal by Bill Dog

An errant capitalization in a comment triggered a thought: It will be a confusing day when Dodge announces an electric Charger.

"So, what do you do for a charger?"
<points to car> "That."
"No, I mean how do you charge your electric charger?"
"With an electric charger."
"It charges itself?"
"No, I put it in my garage and charge it there."
"So you've got an electric charger in your garage then."
"I just told you I did."
"So what's the power output of your electric charger?"
"About 275,908.952 watts."

User Journal

Journal: Is Microsoft Sirius? 1

Journal by mcgrew

I had to laugh when I ran across this article.

"Cortana's UI now expresses 18 different emotions. Siri remains detached and aloof."

Yes, Microsoft is apparently the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation with its " Genuine People Personalities". So when are they going to make that "Marvin" interface?

User Journal

Journal: I wish we had coalition governing here in the U.S. 14

Journal by Bill Dog

Barb wrote in smitty's journal:

We have it [political polarization] up here [in Canada] too, but it tends to be more muted when we have minority governments, since then you need at least some votes from one of the opposing parties to pass legislation.

We're exceptionally dysfunctional in the U.S. because we have two major parties. It means each can take turns ignoring the will of people, as when one is booted out of power in one election, they'll just get it back next go-around when we punish the other party for screwing us over. They've got us convinced there's only two choices, and so our voting ends up assuring that.

And so there's no need for compromise, if you'll just be given power again the next cycle. I've long thought, for efficiency, and to do their jobs representing the people, why not take all the stuff that both sides agree on, stuff it in a bill and quickly pass it, and then wrangle over the contentious stuff after that. But I think both sides hold the agreeable stuff hostage to get more disagreeable stuff passed.

Or refuse to do a give-and-take on the disagreeable stuff, like this from 8.5 years ago. To better serve their respective constituencies, both parties could do an even swap and let the other side have 3 things to get 3 things for their voters. But neither party needs to worry about serving us well.

And there's no need for restraint, when you'll just be given power again the next cycle. Political litmus tests for judicial appointees, applying the fillibuster (meant for legislative bills) to judicial appointees, the "nuclear option" ("In 2005, Obama opposed [it, when Republicans had control of the Senate] before supporting it in 2013 [when Democrats had control]."), being against usage of a lot of executive orders when your side is not in power and then flipping when it is, declaring by fiat that Congress is in recess to make recess judicial appointments, refusing to pass a budget for 4 years, not allowing legislation to come to floor to be voted on (when there might be enough dissenters in one's own party to pass it), not allowing amendments from the minority party to legislation that is brought up for a vote, skirting debate by passing things via slipping them into funding bills.

The misuse of power keeps escalating giving the minority party at the time even less power. But if the minority party in the Senate is 46% of it like it is now, about half the country wants those values put forth, and not 90% or 100% of the values of the 54%. For example, there's absolutely no excuse for something as significant as Obamacare passing, when it got not a single vote by the minority party. Representation of the political diversity of the country is nowhere close to happening, in the U.S.

I wish we had more "sides" than just two. It's really bad for voters who are, for example, fiscally Conservative but socially Liberal. They don't get represented no matter what. We should have at least 4 major parties, one for each side of both axes. And then we should get 2 votes to cast, one for each axis. Then Congress should be made up of the winning proportions of each. Then we'd get things like 35 Senators who ran on socially Liberal positions, 30 who ran on fiscally Conservative positions, 20 who ran on fiscally Liberal positions, and 15 who ran on socially Conservative positions.

Then we might see things like those who think social issues are the most important be willing to compromise on fiscal things to let one side or the other win on fiscal issues, in exchange for compromise on social issues by those who don't consider those to be of upmost importance. Where it's not a simple "us versus them", because it's more complicated than that. Where it's about constantly building temporary coalitions between strange bedfellows, and expecting to give something up to get something. And then if for example the fiscally Liberal party just refused to work with the other three, the voters could punish just that one party and not expect the remainder to go hog wild in abuses, because there'd still be divisions left to keep them somewhat in check.

With only two parties, it's too easy to get people thinking in black-and-white terms about things, as if there are only two sides to every issue, the right one and the wrong one. It dumbs us down. With only two parties, it's too easy to make it not about the issues, but about the parties; people think "I'll never vote for a Republican" instead of "I'll never vote for anyone who differs from me on my top 3 issues of x, y, and z". Maybe I'm for gun rights but some people in both parties uphold that. Maybe I'm for private ownership of certain guns but not others. Only two major parties means we tend to only get to choose from extremes. More major parties would better reflect and remind us that there are nuances, and that there's a lot more to things than to just remember that Republicans are racist and to vote Democrat if you're brown.

"It's when they say 2 + 2 = 5 that I begin to argue." -- Eric Pepke

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