I hate this time of year.

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Bobbi writes that her writer's block is caused at least partly by her desire to hide under the bed until after New Year's.  I can relate.  Woke up this morning and it was dark as pitch.  Looked at the clock and it was 7:10 AM.  My wife was still sawing them off, and that's unusual; she's usually out of bed and getting ready to leave for work by then.*

I wrote over there that the only thing that kept me sane and out from under the bed was the fact that I'd been telecommuting for 20 years.  Well, it's not quite 20 years...it's almost 19.  I boo-booed.  On the other hand, tomorrow it will be 20 years since I walked in the door of our Wheaton, MD, office.  Bet the boss doesn't even say a fucking word.

I kind of liked Wheaton, even though I hated living there.  Wonder if the Chicken Basket is still there.  And Mama Lucia's Italian deli (not the chain that goes by the same name).**

_______________

* Unless she's Manager on Duty and has to open...in which case she's out of bed and getting ready to go to work at FOUR FUCKING AM.  Which always wakes me up, and then I'm done for.

** OK, I looked.  The Chicken Basket is still there.  The reviewers are correct, it is one of the best hidden secrets of Wheaton, MD.  But Lucia's Italian Deli is closed.  That doesn't surprise me, Grandma was like 90 when I was working out there and I think the family was only keeping it open for her.  They made the best calzones.  And they had real Italian gelato, flown in from Italy once a week...sigh.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

 

In case anyone is wondering...

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...there's been a problem with the blog for the last couple of weeks that I just got around to trying to fix.  I think I'm going to have to put in a ticket, though, because for some reason it keeps creating files owned by "nobody".

Anyway for those who know me personally, there's always Facebook.  Bleah.

Mourn the Constitution...then work to restore it

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This president has folded, spindled and mutilated the Constitution before.  Last night he simply balled it up and threw it in the trash.

Worst president since Wilson.

The next Congress is going to have to man up and take on this usurper, this Emperor in his own mind.  This is not Rome, and he is not Augustus.  He is but a man, and with luck he will find out soon enough that the people of this country and their elected representatives aren't as stupid as he and Jonathan Gruber think.

On the other hand, if our elected representatives don't start working to repair the damage, the people may have to exercise their right to take matters into their own hands.

We're still at the top of this particular slippery slope, but we're beginning to slide.  Keep your powder dry.

"This is a simulated emergency..."

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Around 8:30 AM today, the local ARES organization started a simulated emergency test (SET) along with many other ARES teams statewide.

The SET message sent out yesterday stated, in part:

***** THIS IS A SIMULATED EMERGENCY TEST MESSAGE. THIS IS NOT AN ACTUAL EMERGENCY *****

According to the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, an X17 class flare occurred at 1810Z on Thursday November 6. Shortly thereafter, a significant coronal mass ejection (CME) was launched from active sunspot region AR-2205. The current position of the sunspot makes it highly likely the CME will intercept Earth. Quoting from the Joint USAF/NOAA Solar Geophysical Activity Report and Forecast issued on 06/2200Z,

"A significant geomagnetic response may occur if this CME arrives with a strong southward Bz component. The potential for satellite single upset events, large geomagnetic induced currents (GICs) creating power grid disturbances, and malfunction of sensitive unshielded electronic components is moderate. Fading and blackout of radio frequencies from 300 kHz to 30 MHz is likely. CME arrival is expected to occur between 08/1200Z -  08/1600Z."

All Indiana hams are requested to prepare for possible power blackouts that may occur over the next 24 to 48 hours. Monitor local ARES/RACES frequencies and commercial broadcast EAS channels if an emergency occurs.

To which I say, excellent!  This seems like more than a lot of agencies are doing to prepare for the possibility of a Carrington Event-level, Earth-directed CME.

And to the folks who think amateur radio is old school tech being used by a bunch of fat, grey-bearded, bald-headed types (HEY! --ed.) and that it's no big deal, they've got their cell phones, well...you probably won't have your cell phones after a Carrington CME hits us.

WE TOOK THE SENATE, YOU IDIOTS. OF COURSE WE FUCKING LOOTED.

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Jesus.

(Apologies to John Ringo.)

It's really too bad when the Commie-inspired New Republic can't come up with anything better than this to explain progressivism's massive losses last night.  Maybe they should try looking in the mirror before they write about things like "Republicans negotiate in bad faith" and shit. 

It's morning in America.

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Time to hold the bastards' feet to the fire.

But it is delicious to think that both Mordor and the People's Republic of Maryland elected Republican governors last night, even if they probably are both squishy RINOs.  Baby steps.

Get out there and vote you lazy arses.

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I voted at 1:05PM, was voter #149 in my precinct.  Scratched every Democrat on the ballot where there wasn't an opposing Republican.  I'm very upset that nobody thought they could take on Ed Delaney in the 86th and beat him; instead, Delaney ran unopposed, which should NEVER happen.  The Pubs should at least have put up a stooge to make Ed spend some money and work for it.  And yes, I voted for the Republican for sheriff even if he is a former BATFEIEIO agent.

Same as in 2012, there were no canvassers to be seen anywhere outside the polling place.  I don't think spitty rain would have scared them off.  I do think that most of the Democrat canvassers probably figured they didn't need to be spit on and yelled at.  We're not necessarily a Republican precinct, but we are middle class and there are a lot of folks around here who aren't happy with the current regime.

Turnout seems to be a lot closer to 2012 numbers than 2008 numbers, but higher than during the 2010 midterm.  Hopefully that is good for the right.

Just a bunch of HOAs.

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I see in the local popular media that the Hancock County prosecutor is telling a local homeowners' association that they need to back down from telling a Korean War veteran that he can't fly a flag from a flagpole in his yard.  That's nice, right before the election...ought to give that fuckface prosecutor a nice boost for standing up for a flag-waving patriot.1

The problem as I see it, however, is that the HOA's rules aren't negotiable in court.  As the perennial argument regarding ham radio antennae in HOA-controlled neighborhoods goes, when you signed on the dotted line (the many dotted lines) to close on your home, one of the things you signed was your agreement to abide by the HOA rules.  If you didn't sign that document then in all likelihood you wouldn't have been permitted to close on the house (or, in my case some years back, condo).

So other than grandstanding, I don't see where this prosecutor is going to be able to do much more than rant and rave.  I agree with him that the HOA are being assholes here, but the problem is not the one little rule that says "no flagpoles in yards".  And yes, yes, I get that many years ago (in years that I was alive, in fact) there were plenty of "neighborhood associations" and "civic leagues" whose only real reason for existing was to keep blacks out of their neighborhoods.  The Civil Rights Act pretty much put paid to that little conceit.2

No, the problem is HOAs themselves.  HOAs are creatures of the general contractor and they are put in place to handle things that the city or county don't generally deal with and that the contractor doesn't want to be hung with forever after the subdivision is 100% sold.  For instance, snow removal, garbage pickup, general maintenance of common areas, possibly ownership of a clubhouse, that sort of thing.  As far as snow and garbage and road upkeep go, the subdivision might not even be in a city district to begin with, and the contractor may have received zoning approval only after agreeing to set up a HOA so that the city or county wouldn't have to worry about them.  These are legitimate reasons to have a HOA, in my opinion; it is simpler and often cheaper to negotiate neighborhood-wide contracts for services rather than each householder contracting his own, and of course common property needs to be kept in good repair.

However, HOAs generally come with a generic set of bylaws and rules that are oppressive and (in my opinion) effectively constitute a "taking" of your right to own and improve property.  While it may be appreciated that the association bylaws don't allow your hillbilly neighbors out back to run an informal auto repair and body shop in their garage and side yard (something that residential zoning rules generally frown on anyway), bylaws that disallow individualized lawn improvements such as flower beds, flagpoles, fountains, or even trees and mulching without association approval -- which may or may not be granted -- may not float your boat five or six years into your residence there.  Oh, and that boat?  Keep it in storage somewhere else, along with your RV, because it's unlikely you'll be allowed to park either of them in your driveway or back yard.  And we'll not get into the whole "ham radio antennae and your HOA" business, other than to say that if HOAs weren't unreasonable, there wouldn't be a booming business in so-called "stealth" antennae among the ham radio set.3

The fact is that the vast majority of HOAs end up being little fascist neighborhood soviets with their spies out just waiting for you to violate the rules.  It is often nearly impossible to vote the control freaks out of office, and even when you do that, it is usually impossible to simply let the HOA fold up and die.4  Because of that, it seems to me that the time is ripe not for prosecutors to be telling HOAs that they can't prevent veterans from flying flags, but for the state legislature to start legislating in favor of property rights and put the brakes on HOAs in general, spelling out in statute what they can and cannot do to their neighbors -- who, after all, have a sizeable investment in property that the HOA is trying to micro-control.  Most folks who buy and live in HOA neighborhoods don't have the easy option of saying to hell with the HOA, I'm selling and going somewhere else.  After all, they have to find a buyer, sell, find a new place to live, often negotiate purchase of a new home "pending sale of other property" because you can't have multiple FHA mortagages...and believe me, I'm still trying to sell an FHA-financed condo after moving out nearly nine years ago, while still trying to buy the house we're living in (the move was not because of the HOA, but because we needed a bigger place after we got married).  Buying a house is not like buying a car and trading it every two or three years.  You are sort of stuck for a while, unless you are independently wealthy, or unless your friend who just moved back to town is looking for a place to live and your mother is moving into senior living and is willing to let you live in the house till you can purchase it from her.  The latter being our case.

Bottom line, the HOA problem isn't going to go away without legislation.  The Hancock County fuckface prosecutor can grandstand all he wants, but in the end, all he's going to get is a specific HOA to back down in this one single case -- if that.  Our legislators need to stand up for property rights and put limits on abusive HOA behavior.

UPDATE:  Looks like the HOA backed down.  I read the prosecutor's letter, and more or less I suppose his position is tenable, but IMHO, and all things being equal, I think the HOA should have fought him in court -- a judge might have seen a certain amount of prosecutorial overreach.  Now we have an unresolved issue that will continue to be unresolved until either the courts rule on a different HOA issue, or the legislature finally acts to limit the power of HOAs in such matters.

The assholes who wrote the anonymous hate mails are funny.  "Now that you have destroyed Fieldstone, are you going to pay my mother’s nursing care costs when she is unable to sell her home there?"  Yeah, right.  Try proving your initial proposition first, i.e., that one flagpole flying an American flag and a POW/MIA flag has "destroyed" the subdivision.  And, "You have caused immeasurable harm."  Prove it.

________________
1 See here for why I consider the Hancock Country prosecutor a fuckface, and hope people vote for his opponent next week.

2  To this day I refuse to join or even go to the meetings of the civic league in this neighborhood, because they approached my father back in the early 1960s about that and he said, "What is the point of your association?  What is your main reason for existing?" and they hemmed and hawwed and finally admitted that they were trying to keep the black man out.  He told them to get the hell out of his house and off of his property.
      While I understand that today's iteration of that civic league is more about neighborhood watch and that sort of thing, the very history of the organization prevents me from becoming involved with it.  The least they could have done was changed the name.  Anyway, it is not a HOA and can't tell me what I can and can't do with my property, so it can go fly a fucking kite.

3  And let's be clear here -- by "unreasonable" I don't mean that they don't allow a guy to have an 80 foot guyed tower with a dozen different antennae hanging off of it, topped with a hex beam good to 80 meters.  I mean not allowing things like a 27-foot ground-mount vertical in your back yard, because your neighbor might see it and have a heart attack.  Or getting bent out of shape because you have some nearly invisible wires hanging in the air outside that run down to your eaves and thence into your home.  This is why there is a bill in Congress right now that seeks to extend the "reasonable accommodation" already made years ago for TV antennae and satellite dishes to include "reasonable" ham radio antennae.

4  Although I was talking to someone recently who told me about his defunct, abusive HOA that had been taken over and then left to rot on the vine for the five years or so of inactivity that caused it to be dissolved completely, when all of a sudden, right before time expired, one of his neighbors crawled out of the woodwork and started trying to find candidates to run for office.  He told her to fuck off, and so did the rest of the neighborhood who were happy to have the fascists off their backs.

We went to see the new grandson this weekend.

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But a bit of brief explanation before I continue:  We don't have children.  However, we have a couple of extended-family "nieces" and "nephews" who are like children to us.  In particular we have Heather, who is the daughter of Sally's best friend Iris.  Iris died in 2006 from cancer, and at the time Heather was at IU, a long way from home, and we sort of became in loco parentis (with her father's blessing, or we wouldn't have done so).  Heather considers Sally in particular to be like a substitute mom.

So when Heather and her husband (often referred to in this blog as "the boy", or "my sort-of-son-in-law") got pregnant last winter, they decided that Sally would be "Bubbe"* and I would be "Zayde"**.  (I myself refer to myself as "grumpa", thereby maintaining my curmudgeonly cred.)

OK, so that explanation being finished, we went up to see the new grandson this weekend.  He was exactly one week old and not much of a conversationalist yet.  Here he is with Mom:

IMG_20141025_140326841_HDR-640.jpg

But he eats pretty well.  Otherwise, he just sort of hangs out, like here, with Bubbe, who picked him up when he was fussy and immediately calmed him down.

IMG_20141026_103245564-640.jpg

So it goes.  Sleep, little fella.  Get your rest now while you still can...

__________________
* Yiddish for "grandma"

** Yiddish for "grandpa"

I know Jesus said that he was bringing a new law

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but even he might be scratching his head about this one.

A friend "liked" a post on FB this morning that I couldn't respond to because I'm not a friend of her friend.  Which is another reason FB is fucked up, but that's for another day.1

The post was a picticle2 that said, "Sometimes the nicest people you meet are covered in tattoos, and sometimes the most judgmental people you meet go to church on Sundays."

Isn't that special.

I don't get the tattoo thing.  I mean even from a general cultural standpoint I don't get it.  The only people -- other than sailors, who are a bit of a breed apart -- who used to get tattoos were thugs, gang members, and prison inmates (I may be repeating myself), and now it seems that not only are young men tatting themselves up, but nearly every young woman under 21 (and many of them over it) proudly sports a tramp stamp somewhere.3  But the ones that truly get me are the ones you see where some young athlete has branded himself with crosses and other religious symbology and text...when we know that Jesus, being Jewish, would have been well aware of Leviticus 19:28:

Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.4

Yet today even Jewish young people are now inking themselves in this barbaric manner, which of course is why Jewish Scripture inveighed against it -- the Philistines and the Caananites undoubtedly did that sort of thing to show how rough and ready they were, you know, being barbarians.  Plus, you know, the whole Auschwitz thing.  Although when I think about it, I doubt that many of the young Jewish people today have ever actually met a Holocaust survivor.

I do know perfectly nice people who have tattoos, but that doesn't mean I have to pretend that I think they're the greatest thing since sliced bread.  And being me, the folks I know who have tattoos are generally aware of my disapprobation of same.  Does that make me judgmental?  I don't think so, regardless of the attitude such people take that sort of goes, "If you don't do it, you can't understand it."  I understand it, all right.  I really don't need to walk a mile in your shoes to believe that it's goddamn foolishness to decorate yourself with ink that doesn't come off.5

The prevailing mindset these days is "anything goes".  If you like it, do it.  If it feels good, do it.  The old civilized culture that some of us still remember has been marginalized by the radicals who have taken over our schools and universities and newspapers and television.  The rot has even reached into our churches and synagogues because today's clergy are the product of the radical march through the institutions that has taken place since the late 1960's, with no end in sight.

If you think that because I don't like your tattoos, that makes me judgmental, too fucking bad.  I'm a representative of a better time and I say you are a barbarian.  Enjoy those tats when you get old and they fade and sag.  And don't come crying to me if you end up with hepatitis C from a dirty needle, or can't find a job because nobody will hire you due to your visible tattoos.

Meantime, if you notice me gritting my teeth a bit while smiling when you show me your latest inking, now you'll know why.

_____________
1 Briefly, why does FB tell me that friends of mine have made comments on other people's walls when I'm not friends with the other person?  Do they expect me to click the "Add Friend" button mindlessly, even if I don't know the person and don't have any interest in being that person's friend?  God, I hate Facebook.

2 I'm operating under the thesis that a "picticle" is something like a "listicle", in other words, as a listicle is a bullet-point list that poses as an article ("Ten Weird Things..."), so is a picticle a picture with editorializing (or moralizing) text overprinted that speaks ex cathedra from the poster's navel, and stands in place of making an actual argument with actual words and actual people who disagree with you regarding the subject at hand.

3 Including one of my nieces, who found out too late that the tattoos she had precluded her joining the Air Force, because they were too visible even with clothing.  She's now a paramedic in training and I could not be prouder of her, but because of the tats, several years of her life were spent aimlessly between the Air Force refusal and her deciding to get into EMS.

4 Of course, in context, the next verse is "Do not prostitute thy daughter, to cause her to be a whore; lest the land fall to whoredom, and the land become full of wickedness."  To which I can only shrug, and murmur, "Too late..."

5 Well, not without some really expensive treatments, anyway.  I keep thinking I should open a chain of tattoo removal salons...in about 10-15 more years I'll bet they will be damn profitable.

Mawwidge

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Look, I don't honestly give a flying fuck about states being ordered to let LGBT people "marry".  Because I don't think the state ought to be involved in marriage, in any case.

The problem I have with non-traditional marriage -- by which I mean anything other than one man one woman -- is that there are people out there who hold traditional religious beliefs who should not be required by the state to change their attitude regarding same.  There is that little thing called the First Amendment, after all, and it means that the government has no say over your religious beliefs.  If you want to worship Satan, that's your kink, just don't wave it in my face.*

The counter-argument is made, of course, to the effect that the majority wave their sexuality and religious beliefs in the minority's face all day every day 24/7/365 world without end amen.  And yeah, that's true; before about 10 years ago, most folks producing popular culture understood that the 97% of us who are straight have little or no interest in major characters in every TV comedy and drama being gay and out of the closet.  Lately, though, you'd think gays were at least 50% of the population, because every show has a flamer or two who get a lot of attention.  (Modern Family, I'm looking at you.  Just as a 'f'r'instance.)

The counter-argument goes on to point out that there are straight couples out there who 1) don't have children and 2) even if they do, they can't manage to stay together and end up divorced.  I don't really consider #1 a problem, not just because my marriage fits that description, but also because the fairy-tale shit about finding your soulmate when you're in your 20s and young enough to consider settling down and starting a family doesn't always come true.  I did not find my wife until I was 40 and she was 42.**  We were not about to start a family at that age.  (Good thing, too, because we'd have teenagers now and be looking at putting them through college when we'd really rather be thinking about retiring.)

#2, divorce, is a real problem, but I think it exists primarily because the previous generation was quick to pull the trigger on ending marriages that ended up being "inconvenient" (mostly because the woman decided she didn't need the husband, just his money) and the courts were far too amenable to agreeing to let the divorces proceed.  I know a couple of women who had children and then divorced their husbands because their husbands, quite reasonably, expected them to take care of the children to the detriment of what they considered to be their career path.  Abuse was claimed (mental in all cases) but I suspect that what was considered to be abuse was simply an old-fashioned expectation of motherhood being more important than a career.***

Anyway, gays point at these two problems of heterosexuality in the modern age and clamor for the same right to marry (and I assume, to divorce) as straights.  If marriage doesn't require that the female have children, and if marriage can be dissolved at just about any time for just about any reason, then gays may have a point, even if it's ill-made.

What is truly sad about the whole situation, though, is that being married without children is a pretty big burden.  There is that little thing known as the "marriage penalty", and it's meant that my wife and I have had to pay the government thousands of dollars in taxes over the past decade and a half that we would never have paid had we remained single.  I keep joking, in fact, that we really need to get divorced for tax purposes.  My wife doesn't laugh but it really isn't funny, the moreso because it's true.

Because the actual benefits of what we call marriage today are primarily civil and not religious in nature, I would argue (as I have done at the beginning of this article and as I have done before, fairly consistently) that it is time for the state to get out of the business of sanctioning marriage.  Let all "marriage" simply be a contract between two people, sex-neutral, wherein responsibilities (including those of child-raising) of each party are defined, merging of assets is delineated, and provision is made to redistribute those assets should the contract be terminated (divorce).  This could be reduced to a standard form, similar to the Jewish ketubah (which does in fact include provisions for divorce).

Once the relationship between two people is reduced to a contract, which can be handled by lawyers and recorded with the county recorder for a modest fee, any ceremony of solemnization becomes optional (one assumes that the lawyers for both parties, as officers of the court, could be empowered to handle that) and the religious community is then off the hook and may perform whatever ceremonies that it sees fit upon couples who fit its requirements for same.  No longer would a priest, minister, or rabbi**** feel cornered or coerced into performing ceremonies that their scriptural constitutions forbid, and their congregations could rest easy in the expectation that the two gay boys (or girls) who wanted to be married in their place of worship had no case whereby to sue them into compliance with some politically-correct statute.

Mark me well -- If your particular denomination smiles on gay marriage, party on.  That's your cross to bear, and you can defend it when you're called to account at the end of time.  The important thing to me is that you stop trying to tell MY particular congregation or creed that it MUST accept marriage between anything other than one man and one woman.  And the way to start putting an end to that is to remove marriage from the realm of government sanction and make it simply a legal contract between two people -- not between two people and the government.

_______________

* Don't start with me about peyote buds and ritual sacrifice and that kind of shite.  Civil code covers most of that.  Murder is still murder, whether or not it was done to satisfy some elder god or suchlike.

** Yes, for me, the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything was 42.

*** We could go into the whole idea of women seemingly dominating the workforce in a day and age when an awful lot of breadwinner-type men are out of work, but I know too many strong and independent career-minded women who would probably kick my ass if I bitched about that. So never mind.  But as has been said many times, the future belongs to those who show up for it, and choosing not to have children -- particularly if you could have done when you were young enough to build a family -- does potentially have consequences.

**** I've left "imam" off of this list because I can't think of anyone of LGBT status, even some of the more liberal nutbag gays, who would have the balls to walk into a mosque and ask an imam to marry them.  Which is another problem for another day.

The equivalent, today, being "He ain't smart enough to install a license file with the installation instructions written in the file."

ARGHHHH.

I hate customers.

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I was wondering if there was a way to remove the [Sender: header] address from the reply field. I have a [sic] updated the "Reply To" setting but the [Sender: header] address still shows up when you select reply all.

WTF does this guy think "reply all" means?  Yeah, there's a way to remove it in that case.  Get in and remove it manually from the To: line before you click "Send".  You always double-check your To: line before you send, correct?

Idiots.

The thing that makes this doubly-annoying is that the Reply-To setting in the software is, as documented, more of a suggestion than a setting.  That's because Reply-To is generally client dependent, that is to say, what your mail client does when you click "Reply All" is generally dependent on what the software thinks is the optimal way to handle that.  If the software thinks that the Sender: address on the original email should be included, then it includes it.  If not, it doesn't.  And sometimes (not so much anymore, though) that's user-configurable to boot.

Bottom line, don't blame our software for what your mail client does with the mail it receives.

I has a sad.

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It's just awful when a lovely young friend of yours who is about to be married to a stand-up guy receives from him (as a pre-wedding surprise gift) tickets to see a lecture by Neil deGrasse-Tyson -- because he knows she wants to go.

I know she's a flaming liberal but my God, has she not paid any attention to deGrasse-Tyson's flaming lies and misrepresentations lately?  Exhibit 1 Exhibit 2 Exhibit 3  Exhibit 4 ... and that's just Twitchy.  The man just makes shit up and people believe him because...why?  Because he's Neil deGrasse-Tyson?  Who?  (I'd never heard of the guy before a couple of weeks ago, and I like to think I'm up on shite like that.)

Well, yeah, ok, she's a flaming liberal, so progressive lies are like candy to her.  But still...

Ah nuts.  Never mind.

KidsSysAdmins today.

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Customer writes in about using our utility that takes one of our encoded system files and translates it to plain text so you can view it.

When I try to look at them using [utility], they scroll by so fast I can’t read them. Is there a switch or something I can use to view one page at a time?

Apparently nobody knows how to use the DOS command line anymore.  There are at least two methods of handling this without needing a switch.  Either redirect the output to a file, or pipe it to MORE.

Jeez.  We are doomed.  It's like in the Foundation series, where the soi-disant technicians and engineers who ran the atomic power plants no longer knew anything about the technology behind them, and couldn't so much as replace a part if it failed.

They were back in the office and Mallow said, thoughfully, "And all those generators are in your hands?"

"Every one," said the tech-man, with more than a touch of complacency.

"And you keep them running and in order?"

"Right!"

"And if they break down?"

The tech-man shook his head indignantly, "They don't break down.  They never break down.  They were built for eternity."

"Eternity is a long time.  Just suppose—"

"It is unscientific to suppose meaningless cases."

"All right.  Suppose I were to blast a vital part into nothingness?  I suppose the machines aren't immune to atomic forces?  Suppose I fuse a vital connection, or smash a quartz D-tube?"

"Well, then," shouted the tech-man, furiously, "you would be killed."

"Yes, I know that," Mallow was shouting, too, "but what about the generator?  Could you repair it?"

"Sir," the tech-man howled his words, "you have had a fair return.  You've had what you asked for.  Now get out!  I owe you nothing more!"

Mallow bowed with a satiric respect and left.

Two days later he was back at the base where the Far Star waited to return with him to the planet, Terminus.

And two days later, the tech-man's shield went dead, and for all his puzzling and cursing never glowed again.

—Isaac Asimov, Foundation, p. 176

Old-time ham radio operators who still remember homebrewing their own equipment snarkily dismiss this kind of thing as "appliance operating".  While I think that may be a little harsh and overblown, when it comes down to someone who only knows how to manipulate Windows through the GUI, I do sort of get their point.

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