So horribly true.

When I was in school, I never knew a male who majored in sociology.  There was so much estrogen emanating from that department, one could become emasculated just walking down the hallway.

Or maybe that was the cigarette smoke and the cologne.  Hard telling.

The males who would have gone for sociology were mostly in political science, another made-up discipline.

The conservative males (including myself) were in the history department.  As I look back now, I can see that it was the long dark twilight of the conservative soul in the school of liberal arts.  Most of my professors were gone, retired, within a few years of my graduation, and they were mostly replaced by young leftists.  I think when the military history professor finally retired, they never replaced him.

I never go back.  I prefer my memories of how it was; it was the last happy time, even though we all knew it could never last.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Taxing my brain

I keep reading that Trump and Congress need to do something about taxes.

This really isn’t difficult.  You’ve got a majority in both houses, put through a flat tax law that removes all deductions and loopholes, assesses a low and fair tax on every dollar earned by every person working in the US (which I’d like to see no more than 10%, but probably should be about 15%), essentially guts the IRS, and cuts us back down to a three-line postcard for a 1040 if you were a good boy or girl and had the tax withheld at the time you were paid.  (How much you earned, how much tax you paid, and the difference (net income).)  And everyone files as an individual — no more joint returns for marrieds, and thus no more marriage penalty.  Got minor kids who have income?  They file their own (or you file it for them, as their guardian).  Do it all online, no more mailed forms, and for God’s sake, up the website and data security so tight that it squeaks.

I’m tired of all the pissing and bitching about this causing a disproportionate impact on lower-income people.  Fuck that, they probably don’t pay any taxes anyway; almost 50% of the American public has no tax liability, anymore, what with EIC and welfare and all that other bullshit nanny-state crap.

The thing that really gets me, though, is that prior to 1913, nobody saw a need for a personal income tax.  The personal income tax started as a Progressive Era grab for more money to fund the expanding Federal government.  The 16th Amendment was required for this purpose because the Constitution did not actually give the Federal government power to tax individual income.

Before 1913, the government was funded by tariffs, customs duties, and fees levied for specific purposes and services as enacted by Congress.  It wasn’t much money.  We struggled to keep a Navy afloat, and usually drew the Regular Army down to ridiculous levels in peacetime.  Civil servants were paid like shit, and even after the income tax was ratified, for many years they had PX privileges on military bases because they barely made starvation wages.*  The federal government was small and the likelihood that a mere citizen would ever draw its attention or need its services was vanishingly small.

Today, the federal government is swollen with pelf stolen from the citizenry with absolutely no attention paid to the parts of the Constitution that are supposed to inform the federal government that it has no damn business doing most of the things it has arrogated unto itself.  It lays down so many rules for citizens that we have little or no choice but to deal with it in some fashion in nearly every activity of our lives.  Its agents are nosy and intrusive and in many cases have the power to make our lives a living hell, when, as the former blogger Velociman once pungently put it, “No public servant should ever be able to threaten a citizen with anything other than a poor shoe shine.”

There are more federal felonies than you can shake a stick at, plus the stick, and certain eminent attorneys and lawyers have long opined that we probably all commit at least three felonies a day and don’t even know it.

And people wonder how a guy like Donald Trump can be elected president.

The fact is, I’m still wondering why his polls are as high as they are.  And I’m wondering what Paul Ryan is still doing holding onto his Speaker’s gavel, since he can’t manage to get major portions of Trump’s agenda past the rock-ribbed conservatives on his side of the aisle — although I also think those rock-ribbed conservatives need to lighten up.

The one thing I’m sure of is that we didn’t get into this mess overnight.  It’s been happening slowly over the past century plus, and sadly, one of my favorite presidents, Teddy Roosevelt, was just as guilty as all the rest in putting the modern bureaucratic federal state on the rails.  Wilson and Teddy’s illiberal cousin Franklin just ran with the ball, and things got even worse under LBJ in the ’60s.

There are a lot of things that need to be reversed, but it’s going to take time to reverse them, just like it took time to put them into place.

But if you want to kill a monster, one way is to starve it to death.  And a flat tax bringing in less revenue (which it would) is one way to put the monster on a diet.

So why don’t Trump, Ryan, and McConnell get the fuck all over that?  Tell me it’s not because Rand Paul is one of its major proponents.  Not that I think Rand Paul is worth even the proverbial bucket of warm spit, but every clock is right two times a day.  And he’s right about the flat tax.

_______________

* FedCo, or “Federal Employees’ Distributing Company”, was originally started in 1948 by 800 Post Office employees to provide lower-cost household goods to Federal employees and their families, for precisely this reason; federal employees were paid, as I said, like shit.  I actually got to visit a FedCo store back in the early ’80s when I was visiting friends in Los Angeles.  At the time, it was a completely new experience to me, as we didn’t have things like Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, to say nothing of Costco, in Indianapolis until the 1990’s.  (We had Ayr-Way, which was eventually bought by Target, and K-Mart and so forth, but Wal-Mart was a major game-changer for local department stores when it arrived.)

My mother is absolutely impossible.

Truth.

She wrote us a shitty email tonight.  Since she moved over to the other side of town with my stepfather, into assisted living, she has been an absolute bitch.  Of course, they moved, and two days later my stepfather had a stroke; relatively minor, thankfully, he just came back to the apartment last weekend after several weeks in rehab.  And about two weeks after that, she caused a three-car accident and totaled her car because she shouldn’t fucking be on the road.

So we’ve been handling the insurance shit from that because she doesn’t hear worth a damn on the phone, and of course we’ve had to submit paperwork three times, the latest one on Monday (but picked up Tuesday evening because that’s when UPS picked up from the box we had to leave it in).

So she asks tonight if we have the check from the insurance company, and why haven’t we brought it over, and by the way why did we have it sent here instead of there?  As if we’re hiding it from her or some damn thing, because she also thinks we’re conspiring to prevent her from driving again — which I’d do if I could, in a heartbeat, but I also know I can’t stop her if she insists.

Well, first of all, we just sent the fucking odometer report FOR THE THIRD TIME yesterday.  If they even have it processed and in the system today, I’d be amazed.  So the check isn’t here, and probably won’t be here for several days yet, assuming they don’t find some other reason to slow-roll the payout.  (After which they will probably cancel her, but that’s another concern.)

The reason we have been having everything mailed here is because we don’t want it to get lost over at the home.  Plus, I’m here all day and I’ll be here when UPS or whoever delivers it.  (They seem to really like UPS for some reason.)  I don’t want her damn money.  Frankly I hope she chokes on it.

Then she was bitching about the fact that she has eight boxes of shit sitting in our garage from the apartment and she just knows that things she needs are in them.  She wants to come over and go through them.  I’ve told her she can do that, but I have to work, so she’s going to have to have someone bring her over here and take her home.  She was going to do that last week but she “didn’t feel good” so she called it off.  After I sat home all day waiting for her.

So of course she bitched tonight and insinuated that I should come and get her for that purpose.  Well, fuck that; it’s an hour round-trip over there and back, and I have to work.

And she bitched about other things that she had already been told about and had agreed were settled appropriately.

I’d swear she was getting Alzheimer’s, but it’s not that.  She’s angry about the move (it’s a tiny apartment, but with assisted living, it’s what my stepfather can afford without selling off investments, and I don’t care how old he is, you don’t ever spend the principle if you can help it), she’s pissed off that she doesn’t have a car (and she thinks we’re conspiring to keep it that way), and she’s lashing out at us because we don’t have any good way to tell her to go to hell and stay there at the moment.  The move wasn’t her idea, and wasn’t our idea either; it was my stepfather’s daughter’s decision because he was not getting proper care where they were and going into assisted living there would have been a) more expensive and b) not much of an improvement over what they already had, since that home doesn’t have full-time nursing staff and an on-call doctor.  My stepsister did the intelligent thing and move them to a place where her dad would be well taken care of.  And my mother is pissed because she didn’t have any say — and legally, even though they’re married, she doesn’t.  His health is legally his daughter’s responsibility, not my mother’s.

All I can say is thank God she and Dad waited to have me till they were in their thirties, because if I were ten years older like most of my cousins, I don’t know what I’d be doing right now.  Probably having a heart attack or a stroke of my own because her attitude of “it’s all about me” is really pissing me the fuck off.  She has absolutely no consideration for anyone else at this point.

My wife answered her email, because if I had, the entire response would have read, “Fuck off and die.”

I know my sister reads this occasionally; well, sis, this is what we put up with at home when you’re gone.  She’s not the nice little old lady she acts like when you’re here.  Sorry to say it, but it’s the truth.

Down a little more

-18.2 pounds as of this morning, down to 274.7.

I could wish it were more, but actually, I’m losing at a fairly healthy rate.  It’s been 53 days, so that works out to about a pound every 3 days, or about 2.4 pounds per week.  And that ain’t hay.  According to the CDC, “[E]vidence shows that people who lose weight gradually and steadily (about 1 to 2 pounds per week) are more successful at keeping weight off.”  Which is the same thing Weight Watchers says.

I kind of dread going off the phentermine, but that won’t happen until late May, and by then I hope I can get a diagnosis of ADHD and something to deal with that, which might also help bag the snacking impulse like the phentermine does.  Because that’s why I’m losing weight — I just don’t eat much during the day anymore.

Anyway, so far, so good.

The first 5% was easy. Maybe the next 5% will be easy, too.

As noted in my earlier post, I’ve been taking phentermine at my doctor’s direction since February 25.  This is the halfway point; it’s been exactly 45 days since then.

And I’ve hit my first goal of 5% weight loss.  I started at 292.9 pounds, and today I weighed 277.0.  (Which is a little more than 5%, but I had set the goal when I weight a bit less and I just kept it even though I’d gained a little more.)

A side effect of the phentermine is that I’ve been much more focused at work.  For instance, about three weeks ago I started a complex programming project that required a lot of concentration to keep it from going off the rails.  I completed the project in two weeks (and remember, I’m a manager, backup ops guy, and technical writer at the same time, so I have more than enough on my plate without a programming project).  Before phentermine, I’m not sure I would be done with it yet.

I suspect I have a touch of adult ADHD, and while phentermine isn’t an ADHD drug, it’s a stimulant and it probably has been pulling my mind out of the fog.  So I need to talk to the doc about that when I see him in six weeks.

Anyway:  GOALLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!

Now, on to get the second 5% (or more) by May 26.  In 2003, I lost 40 pounds between April and November.

To quote that almost-famous man, “Ah, Haley vs. United States. Haley: 7, United States: nothing. You see, it can be done!”

Millenial sensitivity in a nutshell.

Millenials not only are ruining the country, they don’t even have a sense of humor.  Found on Facebook — where else?

With the exception of rape…and maybe not rape*, there was not a single one of those subjects that were off-limit to comedians and teenage boys back when I was a kid.  Having been both the brunt and the inflicter, I can attest to that.

The offense-mongers today have taken all the fun out of things.  Berke Breathed had it absolutely right — in 1983:

We’re doomed.

________________

* To wit:

Hedley Lamarr: Qualifications?
Applicant: Rape, murder, arson, and rape.
Hedley Lamarr: You said rape twice.
Applicant: I like rape.

and

Taggart: I got it! I got it!
Hedley Lamarr: You do?
Taggart: We’ll work up a Number 6 on ’em.
Hedley Lamarr: [frowns] “Number 6”? I’m afraid I’m not familiar with that one.
Taggart: Well, that’s where we go a-ridin’ into town, a-whompin’ and a-whumpin’ every livin’ thing that moves within an inch of its life. Except the women folks, of course.
Hedley Lamarr: You spare the women?
Taggart: Naw, we rape the shit out of them at the Number Six Dance later on.
Hedley Lamarr: Marvelous!

Don’t tell me Mel Brooks wasn’t funny.

Well

It’s been four days, and I notice the ground hasn’t opened up under Washington, DC, nor has the sky fallen from above it, since Sen. McConnell and crew applied the Reid Rule.

Pre-natal infanticide is apparently still legal, too.

Who’s the bigot, again?

Comment on Facebook regarding the bombings which have commenced:

Unfortunately it is all game and a joke to the bigot elected and his minions… Smh

My response:

Yeah, it *was* a joke to Obama and his pals, wasn’t it? Given that he never actually did anything to stop it, red lines or none.

Trump is just cleaning up the mess.

Oh…you meant Trump? My bad.

This entire mess is the result of Obama’s mouth writing checks his pen and phone couldn’t cash.  You don’t draw red lines and then back away from them.  You don’t put a block on your shoulder, invite the other guy to knock it off, and then whine that you didn’t really mean it when he does.

Trump is actually the anti-bigot.  He saw pictures that would roil any decent man’s stomach, and he did what any decent man in his position would do — he fired a shot (well, okay, 59 Tomahawk missiles) over Assad’s bow as a warning that continuing to use weapons of mass destruction against his own people was no longer going to be tolerated.

And yet, I just heard on Fox someone ask how much those missiles cost?

What does freedom cost?  What does a child’s breath of fresh air untainted by Sarin gas dropped by adults in a war the child doesn’t even understand cost?

Do you realize how many Syrians have died in their civil war since 2011 because Barry didn’t have either the will or the cojones to bring the Word of God to Assad?

That fucker is going to end like his Ba’ath butt buddy Saddam if he doesn’t wise up quickly. Say what you will about Trump, he got his mad on over those pictures of dead kids, and he reacted like an American should.

The traitor Obama may have weakened us, but we aren’t done yet — not by a long shot. We’re still the baddest motherfuckers on the block.  Apparently Mark Steyn was on Fox last night and called the bombing “a real Russian reset button.”

Yep.  No more games and no more playing around.  Assad is on notice.  Will he back down or will he be the next Saddam Hussein, cowering in a spider hole as US Marines pop the cover and drag him out?  Or worse, will he be the next Nicolae Ceaușescu, arrested and shot down like a dog after a drumhead court martial?

If the little ophthalmologist is smart, he’ll take a deal from the Russians to slink quietly away to a remote dacha in the Urals to live out the remainder of his likely-short life.  But he’s probably not that smart.  Dictators rarely are.

So Trump is essentially killing Amtrak.

Good.  Much as I love trains, it’s about goddamn time.

If you search around in the cellars of this here blog, you’ll see that the lady wife and I took the City of New Orleans from Chicago to NOLA and back for our 10th anniversary some years ago.  It was fun, but given that you can fly from Indy to NOLA and back for about the same amount of scratch and be there in a few hours, it’s not something I think I’d do again.

The fact of the matter is that rail travel simply can’t pay for itself.  There aren’t enough people who have airline fare and 18 hours to spend traveling from Chitown to the Big Easy.  Or, apparently, to a lot of other places — there’s a reason why the Cardinal is on that list of routes, it only goes three times a week from New York to Chicago and back.  Takes 20 hours or so to get to DC, or I’d have been taking it several times a year for the last 20-mumble years.

I used to opine that the government ought to sell Amtrak to Southwest Airlines, who could probably straighten things out and make a little money.  But speaking of those pesky facts again, the only passenger rail routes worthwhile anymore are the ones in the Northeast Corridor, and maybe the Auto Train from Lorton, VA, to Sanford, FL.  Everything else is subsidized to hell and gone, and doesn’t even run on Amtrak-owned rail.  (The City of New Orleans ran, when we took it, on Canadian National freight tracks that used to belong to the Illinois Central.)  Hell, I’ll bet even the Auto Train is subsidized.  Maybe by Disney…

When Trump talked about billions in infrastructure spending, I never for a moment thought he meant to spend it on rail, either heavy or light.  Anyone who had that idea in their head was and is a fucking idiot.  We need roads and bridges fixed a lot more than we need passenger rail upgrades.  You want passenger rail?  Make it pay for itself.  Oh, wait.  We’ve been trying to tell you that for the last fifty years.

So that’s essentially put paid — or will put paid — to passenger rail in the US.  But I’m still waiting for Trump to kill off that other featherbedded subsidy queen — The US Postal Service.  Sell that son of a bitch to FedEx and be done with it.  Or keep first class letters as a government monopoly (and rename it back to the Post Office Department) and sell off the parcel post.  But do something other than letting it continue to feed on the body politic.

In which I finally resolve something that’s been bugging me for years.

I am not a network engineer.  I run email servers and write code for a living.

So I’ve always wondered how I can have a /16 subnet* running behind my router with a dozen devices talking to the net through a single external IP address, and the net somehow knows how to get back to the right machine with the right information.  In other words, I’ve been using NAT** behind the router for years, but never had time to go do the research into why and how it works.

I did know already that the internal IP information was not part of the TCP/IP packet, which almost would have made sense.

But today I had to deal with something that was closely related and had to actually do a little research.

How, then, is this magic act performed?

Apparently, the router keeps a lookup table for every outbound connection made by every device on your internal network, and records the correlation between the IP of your device and the random “high” port number it used on the outbound side to communicate with, say, Google.  When you connect to Google, and Google sends you back its front page, it sends that page to that same specific “high” port on your router that was used for your outbound connection.  Your router reads the data coming in on that port, checks its lookup table, and fires the data over to your computer on the same port your computer used to connect to the router in the first place (port 80 if you connected to Google insecurely, or 443 if you connected via https).

There’s actually more to it, and as I understand it, commercial “big iron” routers work somewhat differently when you have internal, soi-disant “non-routable” networks (think 192.168.x.x) hooked up to them, but that’s the basic concept.

It only goes to show that when something works, you just let it work and don’t worry about why or how it works . . . until someone asks 🙂

________________

* Which can contain up to 65,536 addresses, but I think we have about 12 🙂  And in reality, I have only a single /24 subnet with 255 possible addresses configured on the internal side of my router.

** Or, actually, PAT, or even NAPT.  NAT is “Network Address Translation”, which isn’t really what’s happening; PAT is “Port Address Translation”, which is more accurate; and NAPT is “Network Address Port Translation”, which may or may not be even more accurate.  Bottom line, it’s all “IP Masquerading”.

At work, we have servers with many IP addresses assigned to them (“multi-homed”) that are all “external”, and workstations with single IP addresses (“single-homed”) that are also all external, and all those addresses go through our router without benefit of NAT.  Technically we COULD do NAT in the office and save a bunch of external IPs for other purposes, but it would make certain functions difficult to perform.

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