General rant, TL;DR

Sorry, I just have to vent somewhere.

We’ve been moving Mom and my stepfather into assisted living because after stepfather’s last stay at the hospital, the senior community where they were living said they either had to go into assisted living or they’d have to move somewhere else because of the liability issue.  That was about three weeks ago.

Stepfather’s daughter then got involved since she is his legal caretaker, and unilaterally arranged for them to move into assisted living at another community on the other side of town, for about the same amount of money they were paying in the other place. Which was huge, because a) their rent comes out of a trust stepfather owns, so we don’t control that anyway, and b) his daughter lives nearby and her husband is retired so he can help drive them around when needed (we’re trying to get Mom to give up her car — another story). Moving them into assisted living with 24/7 caregivers available gives me and the wife the warm fuzzies, because the old place didn’t have a nurse or doctor on staff, let alone 24×7 (and they do assisted living there — go figure how they do that without local, dedicated medical staff).

Mom, of course, has been fighting this move the whole way, primarily because she didn’t get a say, and also because she maintains she doesn’t need assisted living. To which my wife and I are both privately saying, “Tough shit, and you’ve fallen so many times that you damn well DO need assisted living.”

Case in point:  We don’t even really know if either one of them were getting all their proper meds, because wife and stepsister found loose pills all over the apartment.  At the new place, the aides come around to the apartment and make sure they get their pills.  Well, stepfather, anyway; Mom is resisting letting them do that for her.

So they got moved in last Sunday, and stepfather came over from rehab to join Mom in the new apartment. All seemed well.

Stepfather had what appears to have been a stroke yesterday and is in the hospital. Mom is not freaking out, but might as well be.

So.

This morning at work, we had a major crisis that had to be fixed “immediately, immediately, immediately — and I didn’t get a harumph outa that guy!” I found out about this at 8AM when I logged in and started trying to wrap my head around that problem.

Mom called at 8:30. “Did I wake you up?” “No, but I’m working, and we have a big problem, and I can’t talk right now.” “Oh, well then, never mind.” CLICK.  As if it were my fault.*

So I kept working on the problem at work, tried to call her around 10:30 and she wasn’t there (I imagine she was at the hospital), and we just finished fixing the problem about a quarter to noon.  I’ve tried to call her twice since, I guess she’s still at the hospital.

But I’ve been sitting here fuming about it all day while trying to fix a major problem that affected half of our hosting customers, while fielding angry emails from the boss the whole time to boot.

If this is excitement, I much prefer the sedentary life.

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* To provide a sense of proportion, the major crisis was only affecting half of our hosting service customers, none of whom could reach their hosted services.  You don’t screw around for family crap at that level, you fix the problem and then you worry about the family crisis.  Sorry, but I need my job worse than I need to deal with my mother’s problems at this point.

Someone at the WSJ needs some military education.

Good, solid WSJ article this morning about how Jim Mattis is fitting in as Secretary of Defense “despite policy differences”, which is WSJ-headline-speak for “there’s a little tension between Trump and Mattis because Mattis wants to appoint people in DOD who aren’t/weren’t necessarily Trump fans, but who, regardless, would be the best people for the job.”  Of course they go on to say that Trump seems to listen more closely to what Mattis has to say than he does to what his other political appointments do.  The writers say that “the defense chief seems to have had the most success in prodding Mr. Trump away from some of his positions.”  OK.  Makes sense.  He didn’t appoint Mad Dog to be his military butt boy, he appointed him to do a job that badly needs doing and that Trump doesn’t even begin to understand.*

A reasonable, balanced story, nevertheless.  Except maybe for this graf:

To a degree, Mr. Mattis’s divergence with the White House reflects his lack of political experience. He is a retired Marine four-star general, and military officers, American officials note, don’t always have much experience with the political aspects of their jobs.

Say what?

I don’t think the writers have much military experience, even if one is based in Baghdad.  Because once you get past a certain level in the American military, EVERYTHING is political.  I suspect that’s partly because of the mandatory lobotomy undergone by all candidates for the rank of major, but it’s also because once you reach that level, unless you are actively deployed (and maybe not then), everything is political because everything can affect your future advancement.

Anyone who thinks Jim Mattis doesn’t understand politics is badly mistaken.  He didn’t want to be president because he didn’t want to deal with the politics, not because he didn’t understand them.  And as a Cabinet secretary, he apparently believes it is better to speak bluntly and realistically rather than cozy up with what would be a more political approach.  Again, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t understand politics; it means he hasn’t got the time or the patience for that kind of bullshit.

I’m no military expert, but I’ll bet that’s the response you’d get from any Marine.

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* This is part of the genius of Donald Trump.  Most think it shows weakness.  It doesn’t.  Trump knows what he knows, and knows what he doesn’t know, and he knows that Jim Mattis knows more about the military in his little finger than Trump knows in his entire body.  And he’s showing great intelligence and savvy by choosing the right man for the job, pointing him at the problem, and staying mostly out of his way.  He did the same thing with McMasters, whom he probably should have appointed NSA in the first place, but every administration (including the “sainted” Obama’s) has its bumps and potholes.

New hosting

I’ve switched hosting providers and this should be a lot more snappy now.

People with Windows 7 problems mystify me.

I’ll never understand the problems people have with Windows 7. I’ve never had a problem with Windows 7 that couldn’t be attributed directly to failing hardware. We run an exclusively Windows shop at work and we just don’t have these problems.

A friend posted a warning on Facebook whose provenance I haven’t been able to track down, but apparently there MAY BE a new hack out there for Internet-connected Windows XP machines, that downloads a file that crashes your machine.  Apparently this happens even if you have Windows Updates turned off on XP, which should be your first clue that whatever this is, it isn’t coming from Microsoft.  He posted this picture of the dialog box that appears asking you to OK the download:

Which to me would be automatically suspect and set off a number of mental alarm bells, particularly if it popped up out of the blue.  I’d click “cancel” on that so fast, I’d probably break a nail.  If I had an Internet-connected XP machine, that is.  Which I don’t.*

Then he goes on to say, essentially, screw XP, screw Microsoft since he’s never been able to get Windows 7 to run without crashing, and hello, Apple, I’m off to MacOS.

OK, rather than get all religious and anti-fanboi here, let’s break this down a bit.

If you are still running XP and connecting to the Internet, you get what you deserve.  And that’s because Microsoft very specifically warned people that there would be no more software updates for XP after the extended end of life.  It’s not like they just up and abandoned you; they pleaded and begged and all but got on their knees in the dirt asking you to upgrade to Vista or Windows 7 before XP end of life.  They even extended their usual support lifetime for XP by a couple of years when it became clear that people (generally businesses with large farms of XP machines) were clinging to XP.  Continuing to support an obsolete operating system that was over a decade old when they finally said, “enough” cost Microsoft a shitton of money.  Who does that?  The answer is that nobody does that.  But Microsoft did, because they knew the switch to Vista or Windows 7 was going to be a pain in the neck for users (which it was, because there was no simple upgrade path to Vista or Windows 7 from XP, but at least it was a one-time pain in the neck).

And after that, people wonder why they literally wrote automatic “upgrade me to Windows 10” code into Windows 7 and tried (and in many cases, succeeded) to force people to upgrade. While I completely disagree with their method — which to me was sneaky and probably actionable, even if Microsoft was offering an upgrade for free that would later cost $100+ — given the XP debacle, I can fully understand their business case for doing it.**

And the one Windows 10 machine I have? It’s going to be kicked back to Windows 7 as soon as I have the time. And I’ll fight attempts to upgrade until it isn’t feasible to run Windows 7 anymore. But I have three years left 🙂

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* I have one XP laptop left, and it’s only used for packet radio.  It never connects to the Internet, not even to my own local intranet.  It’s strictly a “sneaker-net” machine today.

** I also very quickly found the GWX Control Panel software that stymied Microsoft’s attempts to upgrade my work machine to Windows 10, which would have been an absolute debacle, and still would be.

Children should not be allowed to vote.

This kind of thing makes me more and more convinced that Robert Heinlein was right and we need to require intelligence tests with a reasonably high passing grade to qualify to vote.  He suggested the solution of a quadratic equation which would be randomly generated and shown on a screen before you got to the ballot.  He also suggested that there should be no minimum voting age; if a 13-year-old girl could solve the quadratic, she should be allowed to vote.

Heinlein also suggested that voters should be military veterans with an honorable discharge in order to vote.  Which would disqualify me since I never served, but that’s on me, not anyone else.  (Besides, Heinlein left open the possibility that anyone could serve a term, discharge honorably, and obtain the franchise.)  For some reason this position got Heinlein labeled as a Nazi — or worse — by the soi-disant cognoscenti, few of whom ever actually read Starship Troopers and didn’t understand the logic behind it.

The childish minds at work in this video cannot possibly encompass the intelligence or the moral discipline to evaluate properly the issues of the day and cast a ballot accordingly.  Want to secure the ballot?  Start ensuring that the people who cast them can actually articulate their personal political and moral philosophy.  Mooning the Trump Tower in Chicago doesn’t rise to that level.  Kids and drunks do that kind of thing, not intelligent adults.

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Just an observation

When you’re wearing all black, and a mask to boot, you shouldn’t be surprised, going forward, if you get shot.

And I don’t mean with a rubber bullet, either.

Only fascists bent on the violent overthrow of the government dress in uniforms and are afraid to show their faces.  If you’re not going to demonstrate peacefully and non-anonymously in a republic, you should be prepared to die, because you have made yourselves into an army of revolt.  And the people of the republic should be satisfied that such is the response to your assholishness.

In a world where every action is deemed to be speech, the only real hate speech is that which you promote — you hate America and everything about it.  The rest of us are not amused.

When we say that the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of tyrants, we’re not just talking about kings and dictators — we’re talking about YOU, viz., the fascist wannabe army who prevented Milo Yiannopoulos from speaking in Berzerkley Wednesday night.

It’s past time to crack down on these revolutionary idiots and show them the error of their way.  As the old saying goes, they should be dealt with as wolves are.

Sic transit gloria baden-powell

I’ve been a Scout and Scouter most of my life.  39 years this year, in fact.

I’ve watched Scouting evolve from an organization that was about making boys into moral, competent men, into an organization that seemingly will stop at nothing to chase numbers.

From the abortive attempt to take the movement co-ed in my teen years — when the uniforms suddenly started sporting “Scouting USA” emblems rather than the familiar “Boy Scouts of America” tags (which came back pretty fast when it became apparent that the Girl Scouts took a dim view of the BSA poaching their gender) — to the varied crises of dealing with urban Scouting, youth protection, loss of interest when boys reached the “girls and gasoline” age, and a general societal shunning based on the fact that Scouting actually expected its adherents to cling to what was considered an outdated moral code — yeah, I’ve seen it all.

And now, the smart boys and girls in Irving have determined that it’s OK for transgender children to join packs and troops.

Leaving aside the question, “WTF is a transgender child, and how in hell does a child decide what gender it’s going to be,” this is absolute and utter insanity.

I have held my peace and gone along with changes that included allowing female leaders (in Boy Scouts; women have long been Den Mothers, or now, I suppose “Leaders”, in Cubs), gay Scouts, and finally gay leaders — the latter two regardless of the dictates of the Scout Oath and Law.  I have watched religious organizations, formerly the backbone of the BSA’s chartered partners, walk away from the program because it no longer reflected their principles.  I have watched troops that were formerly powerhouses become ghosts of their former selves.

And I have watched the general public, which used to approve heartily of the Boy Scouts, turn on it like a ravening pack of wolves, snarling that the movement is bigoted and outdated and shouldn’t be allowed to corrupt our youth.

This new wrinkle, though — I can’t go on pretending that these continued surrenders to public opinion on the part of the National Council don’t do violence to my concept of what Scouting is supposed to be about.  If you’re going to let everyone in, fine, let everyone in, quit pretending that the organization is any more than an activity like after-school sports, and just drop the whole moral and ethical framework that underpins the whole thing.

And be prepared, as it were, to lose people like me, who have made Scouting a part of their lives.  Because it won’t be Scouting anymore.

I have not been an active Scouter in a long time, but I’ve remained registered against the time that I might decide to become active again.  I’ve actually been working with a group that’s trying to start a STEM-oriented Venture crew (with little or no help from the local council, I might add, but in my long experience with the council, that’s not really much of a surprise).  But I’ve really stayed registered to keep my OA registration current, since I’m a Vigil member, and if I drop my BSA membership, that’s it for OA.  Doesn’t really matter, I guess, in the grand scheme of things.

All that goes down the hole at the end of the year.  If I’d known about this idiot move by National a few days earlier, I wouldn’t have bothered to re-up for 2017.  I already stopped giving money to the annual fundraisers several years ago when they decided it was OK to let gay leaders in.  And you can say what you like about that, but I’ll just refer you to the Oath and Law as I did above.  Either we have standards or we don’t.  And either we live up to those standards, or there’s no sense in pretending that we have them.

To paraphrase a certain former Honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America:  I didn’t leave Scouting.  Scouting left me.

I guess I’ll be sitting on this log over here talking to Baden-Powell about the good old days.

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Another meme, another blind misunderstanding

My niece posted this on Facebook:

Uh-huh.  Let’s see about that.

Actually, the “wall” between church and state is not what people think it is.  It’s based on a letter that Thomas Jefferson wrote to a church, and the text of that letter is usually misinterpreted to mean religion and the state should be completely separate and have no influence on each other.  Which is impossible in real life.  Anyway, see Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists.  Read it carefully.  It doesn’t mean what most people think it does.

Same-sex marriage is the law of the land now, so that’s over with — not that it’s that big of a deal since the population affected is tiny; they simply scream and holler well over their weight class until people get tired of listening and another barrier is lowered.  However, the backlash is starting to cause something I have wanted to see for years — several states writing legislation to significantly reduce state control of marriage, which would in effect nullify the Supreme Court ruling regarding same sex marriage without outlawing it.  Indiana has a bill before the legislature right now to that effect.  So I’m all for anything that does that.  Why should anyone have to buy a license from the state in order to get married?*

Stem cell research goes on regardless of whether it’s funded federally or not.  The key is not the research itself, it’s whether federal money should be spent to further it.  And there have been compromises over the years to allow some federal funding.  I’m all for stem cell research as long as it’s done properly — there are some major breakthroughs coming in therapy because of stem cells.  But the original argument over the use of stem cells was that only embryonic stem cells would work, because only they are “pluripotent”, which goes back to the abortion argument.  After a lot of smoke and fire, it was discovered that adult stem cells can also be induced to be pluripotent.**  So there’s likely no pressing need to use embryonic stem cells in any case, which should mean properly-done stem cell research should bother exactly no one other than extreme Luddites.

Abortion, on the other hand, is murder in a lot of peoples’ opinion — and that’s hardly a religious question, unless you think you can only be moral if you are religious. And a “safe abortion” is a contradiction in terms anyway.  But it’s ALSO the law of the land, regardless of how you feel about the outcome of Roe v Wade.  My argument has long been that abortion needs to be removed from politics, because eventually the “Roe Effect” will take hold and it won’t be an issue anymore.***

TL;DR version:  I wish people would think about these things before they just generalize about them.  I’ve been thinking about them for over forty years, and a Facebook meme isn’t going to change my mind about any of them.

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* Of course, if people don’t vaccinate their kids, rubella is going to come back, and then the state will once again have a pressing interest in whether or not the potential mother is rubella-free.  But I’m sure that can be handled some other way.  Like by a family doctor testing her before or right after she gets pregnant.  (Before 1987, women had to have proof that they were rubella free before they could get married in Indiana.  In point of fact, even though this portion of the code was repealed in 1987, my wife still had to have a rubella test in 2000 before our county would give us the license.  Interesting.)

Also interesting is the fact that the bill in question in Indiana still prohibits polygamy.  Which is fine with me.

** I’m not going to go into this in depth, but the NIH says, “Human embryonic stem cells are thought to have much greater developmental potential than adult stem cells. This means that embryonic stem cells may be pluripotent—that is, able to give rise to cells found in all tissues of the embryo except for germ cells rather than being merely multipotent—restricted to specific subpopulations of cell types, as adult stem cells are thought to be. However, a newer type of reprogrammed adult cells, called induced pluripotent stem cells, has proven to be pluripotent.”  NIH FAQ regarding stem cells, research question #2, accessed 1/24/2017; bold emphasis mine.

*** For those who can’t reach the linked 2005 WSJ article by James Taranto,

The Roe effect, however, refers specifically to the nexus between the practice of abortion and the politics of abortion. It seems self-evident that pro-choice women are more likely to have abortions than pro-life ones, and common sense suggests that children tend to gravitate toward their parents’ values. This would seem to ensure that Americans born after Roe v. Wade have a greater propensity to vote for the pro-life party–that is, Republican–than they otherwise would have.

In my opinion, there’s more to the Roe Effect than whether or not a child is aborted or allowed to come to term and be born; it also depends on the consequences of education for that child.  A child can be born into a family that considers abortion to be murder, and through indoctrination in our public schools, come to the conclusion that a fetus isn’t human and can therefore be safely disposed of.  Such families also generally believe that sex should be confined to marriage and that it is a sin to have intimate relations before marriage.  Young girls from such families who find themselves fallen pregnant (a interesting term) typically believe that their best option to avoid punishment or disapprobation from their parents is to get an abortion, even though abortion is far worse than simply accepting fate and keeping the baby or giving it up for adoption — which have more consequences in and of themselves.  Perhaps the true solution is to stop telling children that premarital sex is a sin and will be punished by $DEITY, and tell them instead that sex is indeed a wonderful thing, a sacred mystery if you will, but it can lead to bad consequences for young girls who engage in it — and make it clear that even if a daughter finds herself pregnant, she’ll still be loved and accepted and everything that can be done to support her will be done.  Because I’ll bet you more girls run away from home to find an abortion when they find out they’re pregnant whose parents go all fire and brimstone on them about premarital sex than those whose parents are proactive and supportive even if the worst happens.

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Huh. So that’s what they’re calling landfills, now.

Museums Across the World Are Collecting Women’s March Signs

Trump won. Get over it.

I just read in the WSJ that “Mr. Trump won the election with only 46% of the vote, leaving more than half the nation to come to terms with his victory in the electoral college.”

This meme continues to be tiring on many levels, not the least of which being that the popular vote doesn’t elect presidents, and that’s how we’ve done things since the Constitution was ratified.  It’s not my fault that more than half the nation is deficient in their knowledge of American Civics.  (It’s probably the fault of the teachers’ unions and local boards of education, actually.  But I digress.)

So, let’s look at the facts.  Only 58% of the electorate bothered to show up on Election Day and cast a ballot.  42% sat home on their dead asses, or otherwise avoided the voting booth.  But there is no way to know how many of them have come to terms with Mr. Trump’s election and are accepting of him as president, at least partly because the polls are based on false assumptions regarding the electorate (see below).  Indeed, one might quite plausibly make the assumption that the 42% who didn’t vote would have been happy (or at least non-caring) either way — and that’s a reasonable assumption, this election cycle.

If you take the 42% who didn’t vote at all, and the 46% of those who did who voted for Trump, you get about 161,786,941 votes vs. 73,779,367 who voted for Hillary or other candidates.  Huh.  That’s a Trump landslide.

What?  You didn’t vote and you don’t like me calling you wishy-washy, and therefore a Trump supporter by default?  Or you voted for Hillary and still think she should have won because reasons?  Or you just think I’m full of shit?

OK, sure, you got me.  My methodology is just as valid as the methodology of the professional pollsters who had this race safely in Hillary’s pocket until 2AM November 9, 2016 (the same professional pollsters who now claim that a majority of the nation supports the ACA, given that the GOP is in a position now to deep-six it).  In other words, it’s bullshit, but it’s useful bullshit.  The fact is that neither side was able to convince nearly 99 million eligible voters to show up at the polls or even to cast an absentee ballot.  Those 99 million non-votes could have resulted in a landslide either way, so since Trump won, I’m assigning them to him on the assumption that those 99 million people either don’t care at all or are perfectly (or even cautiously) happy with the way the election turned out.*

The bottom line is that continuing to snark about Trump losing the popular vote and bemoaning the Constitutional system that establishes the Electoral College as the way we elect presidents in our Federal system is completely non-productive, makes the left sound like a bunch of fools, and angers people who support the Constitution and the rule of law.

But sure, keep up the moaning and groaning, the posting of snarky anti-Trump memes, and most especially, PLEASE keep up the violent protesting, including blocking freeways and city streets, smashing up and setting fire to cafes and bank offices, and ambushing and shooting cops for no good reason.**

You want more Trump?  Because that’s how you get more Trump.  Every time a protester howls, or a brick flies through a window, or a cop gets shot, a new Trump supporter gets its wings.

Choose the form of your Destructor, indeed.

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* If you didn’t vote and that doesn’t describe you, gee, maybe you should vote next time.

** You do understand sarcasm, right?  Because that entire paragraph was sarcasm.

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