First anniversary

Love you.  Miss you.

Not interested in your book.

It occurred to me, after I read Instapundit’s post here, that the practice in recent years of political candidates flacking ghostwritten autobiographies as part of their campaigns is really horribly unseemly.

I honestly don’t care about a potential president’s childhood or his college experience or that church mission to Tibet that s/he went on in high school.  I don’t care about what prestigious university they went to or how they met their wife or what prompted them to get into politics.

If I have to read a 400-page tome dripping with syrupy prose meant to sway my emotions such that my vote is also swayed, I’ll save my money and buy more SF.

I think I realized this after I got about ten pages into Sarah Palin’s book some years back and realized that I didn’t care.  And that’s saying something given that I’m trained as an historian.

But I think what really blew political autobiography out of the water for me was our current President, who had not one but two such books written before he ever ran for the office.

Why can’t we go back to the days when we elected a politician based on what we could suss out about his political philosophy and his plans for governing us based on what he told us from the stump?  Or if he was a governor or a mayor or even a senator, what did he do in those positions that gives him credibility for the Big Job?  Spare me the stories about youth and all that shit.  Tell me what you’re going to do if elected and why I should believe what you’re telling me about that.

I still love the story about William McKinley running his 1896 campaign from his front porch.  Tell us what you’re going to do, then shove off and we’ll get back to you.  And for Christ’s sake, stop killing trees with your poorly-written paeans of glory to yourselves.

The problem is the system, not the people.

I noticed a lot of non-Tory grumbling last week regarding the UK elections that went like this:  “Yeah, you may have won a majority of the seats, but you did it with only 36.9% of the votes.”

In the States, that would be cause to whinge that you did not receive a mandate.  In the UK, that’s just a normal election.  The only mandate UK voters can point to is whether or not a party won enough seats in the House of Commons to form a government.  And the Conservatives did so, by at least 8 seats (I was reading somewhere that you needed 323 seats to form a government without a coalition, which seems odd to me since a majority, 50% + 1, would be 326 seats; but the Tories, with 331 seats, have a majority no matter how you slice it).

So where did the other 63.1% of the votes go?  Well, the Brits have a fractured political process because they operate their elections in a manner called “first past the post”.  In other words, when they have an election, ‘leventy-dozen parties can participate, so long as they can make the deposits on the seats (which they lose if they don’t win the seat).  So the vote share of the FIVE other “major” parties that won seats was Labour, 30.4; UKIP, 12.6; Liberal Democrats, 7.9; Scottish National Party, 4.7; and the Greens, 3.8.

And that doesn’t even count the other TWENTY parties that had candidates running (including perennial favorites like Sinn Fein, the Monster Raving Loony Party, the Cannabis Is Safer Than Alcohol Party, and so forth, a few of which actually won seats; or the however many other parties the BBC counts under “Other Parties” (apparently they got exhausted and just lumped the rest into one bunch) who took 0.5% of the vote and elected one candidate amongst them.  These numbers come from here, BTW.

It seems to me that any ruling party in the UK is lucky to get anywhere close to 40% of the vote.

Compare this to the States, where we have primaries and runoffs and all kinds of shite that the Brits don’t have, including rules like “if you didn’t get at least x% of the votes in the last general election, you can’t be on the ballot in this one”, and where we try very hard to streamline our elections for any given office down to no more than two or three parties (and don’t always succeed even with all that).  It’s EASY for a US politician or his/her party to get more than 50% of the vote, at least if the party in question is the Republicans or the Democrats (or in some states, the corresponding statewide party that pretends to be independent of the Republicans or the Democrats).

The bottom line is that, other than sour grapes, I can’t figure out how anyone in the UK could grouse that the party that won the majority of seats in the House of Commons didn’t receive a majority of the votes.  The only way that could happen would be to shut some of the tiny single-issue parties out of the process, probably by restricting ballot access based on past performance.  As long as the system is hanging wide open, the “first past the post” style election is never going to produce a true majoritarian government.

For what it’s worth, I think the Westminster parliamentary system only really works in the UK, where even in the country that birthed it, it doesn’t work well.  It can be demonstrated that it works even more poorly in other countries that have adopted it — specifically, I have in mind Israel, where the country ought to be led by a government of national unity right now but where Likud has barely scraped back into office with a coalition of the damned.  And that’s just one thing about the Israeli system of government that sucks.

Musings on overblown mysticism

There was a time, lo these many years ago, that I seriously considered taking up the cloth and becoming a rabbi.

To that end, I did a lot of reading.  And when you’re Jewish and studying the sacred books, inevitably you run across medieval writer Moses de Leon’s Zohar, first published in the 13th century in Spain, which is the basis of what most people know as Kabbalah.  Sadly, the Zohar is more than likely a fabrication sewn out of whole cloth by de Leon, rather than the redacted writings of R. Shimon bar Yochai, who allegedly spent 15 years in a cave hiding from the Romans and being inspired to write it by the Prophet Elijah.

So in other words, to me the Zohar has about as much authority as Joseph Smith’s golden leaves.  It’s pretty and poetic and very spiritual, but as far as it being the Word of God as handed down on Sinai, nah.  It’s bullshit.  (I will admit that if de Leon wrote it himself, he must have had a fantastic background in Jewish religious textual tradition.)

With that background, given that I didn’t join the Masons until I was 39, it frankly amazed me to find so many esoteric Masons who spent far too much time studying Kabbalah and trying to apply it to Masonry (or claiming that Masonry was essentially Kabbalistic from its founding, whatever).

Dudes, I hate to break it to you, but it’s a forgery.  A fake.  A fraud.  A conundrum, a prevarication, a lie.  Masonry is more likely to have actual ties to the Egyptians, Solomon’s Temple, and the Knights Templar (as claimed by some) than it is to have them to the Zohar and Kabbalah.  Me, I think Freemasonry as we have it today was spun out of whole cloth by the members of the Royal Society in the late 17th century, as a means of educating the middle classes who didn’t have access to higher education at that time.  (And that’s not an original idea with me; Chris Hodapp first postulated it so far as I know.)

But if it rings your spiritual bells to think otherwise, Brothers, don’t mind me.  It’s at least a prettier philosophy than some I can think of.

Microsoft hates Windows 7 desktop gadgets: Official.

I understand why MS doesn’t like Windows 7 desktop gadgets anymore.  They are vulnerable to various exploits if you’re not careful.  On the other hand, if you’re firewalled and running decent AV software and running MalwareBytes on a regular basis, that shouldn’t be a big deal.  The official Microsoft disapprobation of desktop gadgets notwithstanding, they do still work even if MS doesn’t want to give them to you anymore.

So when my weather gadgets started not working the other day, I figured there was a change in the URL for the service they were using and started looking to see if there was an unsupported fix for that.  Turns out that wasn’t the problem:

http://forums.techguy.org/windows-7/1142347-win-7-weather-desktop-gadget.html

Bottom line is that you go to

C:\Users\%USERNAME%\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows Live\Services\Cache\

and there is a file there called Config.XML.  You right click the file, click “Edit”, and then save the file without editing it.  After a few minutes you restart the desktop gadgets by right-clicking the desktop, choosing “View”, then deselect “Show desktop gadgets”, followed by the same thing but selecting “Show desktop gadgets” instead of deselecting it.

Thought I’d put this here in case I need it again.  I have another machine with the same problem, but it wasn’t critical because it was not a machine I use often. Now I know how to fix it.

Sorry, you got the blame wrong.

A friend of mine was opining on FB today that CNN was spending too much time on the Baltimore riots when they ought to be paying more attention to the Nepal tragedy.

I bit my fingers hard not to respond that CNN was spending all that time on Baltimore so as to not have to report on the vicissitudes of Hillary Clinton, and that maybe what we really need in this country is a real investigatory, reporting media that doesn’t give Democrats a pass and call it “journalism”.

La la la

Finished up my resume yesterday and sent it out.

We’ll see what transpires.

Anti-depressant.

Sorry for the disappearance

I have not written anything here for a long time because I have been seriously depressed about my job.

When the time comes that you know you would cheerfully strangle your boss in front of witnesses and as your defense simply state (and firmly believe) that you were doing the world a favor, you can get that way.  Thankfully he is several hundred miles away and I don’t feel like spending the money on gas, or there’s a high probability that he’d be a corpse right now.

But I had an epiphany about a week ago.

I don’t give a fuck.

That’s it; that’s the epiphany.  Sure, whatever, keep piling shit on me and lying through your teeth about me to the new hires and other people when you know damn well that if I left, you’d be scrambling to replace me with about three other people that you wouldn’t be able to trust like me, who’s been with you for over two decades.  I’ll just do what you tell me to do and I’ll tell you when you’re being a fuckup (which is most of the time) and not bother to pull my punches just because you cover my paychecks.

In the meantime I will be looking for another job.  The plan to try to hang on for a few more years and retire at 62 is out the window.  I don’t need the constant near-heart-attack-inducing rage that I feel toward the individual to whom I have given the best years of my working life.  I used to consider him a friend.

Not anymore.

Frustrating.

The RFRA recently passed by Indiana is a bad law, but it’s a bad law the same way as the RFRAs passed by 19 other states and the Federal Government are bad laws.  There is no need for the RFRA if the courts recognize pre-existing religious freedoms and freedom of association.  There is no need for the RFRA if people simply let free markets work.  If you’re gay and your baker of choice won’t bake you decorated cookies with gay power slogans on them because he is a devout Christian who doesn’t support your lifestyle choice, that’s his right — as it is your right to go out to your community and tell people that he isn’t friendly to your cause and that maybe his business should be avoided because of that.  See?  Free market at work instead of a tiny minority of hyphenated Americans wagging the full force of the law dog to force someone to do something that goes against his or her religious belief.  In other words, the way things have been done in this country for years, at least until the Perennially Indignant came up with the idea that you could litigate someone out of business for the most ridiculous of reasons.

The sheer amount of lying on the left regarding what this law does is just about enough to make me tear out the rest of my remaining hair, and then start in on the beard.  And it’s just plain lies.  It’s not just misconstructions or insinuations or little white lies, it’s great big fucking whopper lies.  My own wife told me the other night that our RFRA is the only one that specifically targets gays.  Problem with that is that I actually read the statute, and it does nothing of the sort.  In point of fact, the law in Indiana has never identified the LGBT community as one accorded special protection, so the Indiana RFRA doesn’t even infringe on some supposed pre-existing accommodation.

The governor of Connecticut is banning state-paid travel to Indiana because of our RFRA.  Except that his state has one that is just as bad.

The GOP mayor of Indianapolis, who isn’t running for re-election, could have kept his piehole shut, but he had to speak out on the issue and declare himself opposed to the RFRA.  Well, Mr. Ballard, if you were running again, you wouldn’t be getting my vote anyway, but this just would have put the icing on.

All of this is a distraction.  It’s being done to knock Pence out of consideration for 2016 (although as much as I like Pence, I have never really considered him as presidential timber, at least not till after he completes a couple of terms as governor — and I am very disappointed that he signed rather than vetoed the RFRA) and to distract from the unConstitutional and extra-Constitutional actions of our traitor President.  It’s being done to suppress voter turnout among whites, who are more and more turning against Obama.  And it’s being done because it does not fit the narrative of where the progressive left wants this country to go.

Libprogs would prefer this country to Balkanize itself and become a fractured nation of ethnic and national communities that can’t agree on a damn thing.  They hate the idea of the melting pot.  They hate the idea of American Exceptionalism, they hate the idea of the Pax Americana, and they hate everything that this country stands for with regard to individual liberty.  They hate guns, they hate the military, they hate the rich (even though some of them are among the richest), and they want everyone but themselves to live beholden to the State.

Fuck them.  I am not a slave, I am a free man.  The State can go hang.

My ancestors, right up to my father, and a number of my own cousins and other relatives, did not fight and sometimes die in the service of their country in expectation that it would turn into a Communist/Statist/Nanny-State “paradise”.  They may have voted Democrat back when the Democrats were a party worth voting for.  But like Ronald Reagan, most of my formerly-Democrat relatives have found that the Democratic Party has left them for one reason or another.

I know people who say that Pence is going to be one-and-done.  I wonder.  Indiana is a very conservative state, deep down.  If you rile up the base sufficiently, they will rise up from their electoral slumber and vote for the man who signed the bill that at least purports to protect their religious freedoms.

Was this a bad bill at the wrong time?  Yes, it was.  Someone I was talking to the other day stated their opinion that the GOP should have waited a year, and taken that year to write a better bill and build support for it in the community.  Maybe.  Maybe they would have figured out in that year that they didn’t need the RFRA at all and that common sense ought to rule in the state and in its courts.  (Common sense, unfortunately, is becoming a very rare commodity — again, because that’s what the libprogs want.)

If there was ever a time that conservatives — or as I prefer to call them, “classical liberals” — need to turn Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals back on their progressive proponents, it would seem to be now.  Whether you like the RFRA or not, libprogs are telling stories about it that simply aren’t true.  It’s time to punch back twice as hard.  Punch back, in fact, hard enough that Alinsky’s grandmother feels it.

And make sure that your so-called conservative Indiana reps and senators know that you think they are damn fools for putting the RFRA forward and that it needs to be repealed tout de suite.

If this stance on my part angers you, fine.  Go away.  Unfriend me on Facebook.  And don’t come back.  I don’t need friends who believe in and propagate lies.

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#JeSuisCharlie