Category Archive: Uncategorized

Here’s a non-political rant, for a change.

Spam callers.

Otherwise known as assholes.

Being on the do-not-call list (either at the state or federal level) is a joke.  It’s a lot like gun control (OK, sorry, I did say this wouldn’t be political, but it is actually relevant), in that the do-not-call lists place restrictions only on the law-abiding.  Anyone who wants to run an illegal boiler-room call center that uses spoofed numbers to get around “unknown number” call blocks and so forth is not going to be stopped by a silly list of people who don’t want them calling.

Lately it seems that a lot of spoofed calls are coming “from” numbers in our own area code.  On our cell phones, the usual approach seems to be even more granular, with the numbers matching both area code and exchange (as if I would pick up a call simply because it came from the same exchange; I got my cell number from a vendor in Noblesville, many years and two carriers ago, and I can’t think of anyone I know who has a cell number in that exchange.

It seems to me that there are two things that need to happen.

First, phone companies have a duty to ensure that the information coming through CallerID is not spoofed and is accurate.  Unfortunately, it is all too easy to take a modern phone system and program whatever number you like into it.  This actually has a legitimate purpose — it is done to provide for direct-inward-dial systems where it is preferred to broadcast the main switchboard number of the company rather than the individual’s extension, and that makes sense.  But in turn, the phone company should be vetting the CallerID information being sent against a list of numbers registered to the phone “line” in question.  And yeah, with VOIP not using physical copper like the old POTS systems, that may be difficult to do, but I’ll bet it’s not insurmountable.  If a phone company can determine that the CallerID being sent by one of its customers is not on the list of authorized numbers for that line, it can either substitute the known main switchboard number for the line, or simply refuse to place the call at all.  I’m sure this is all a SMOP*, but nothing is impossible if you throw enough money at the problem.  And if the phone companies courteously excuse themselves from fixing their broken systems, then the Feds should step in and force them to do it.  There is no point in creating law and having a regulatory system if you’re not going to use it.  That is hardly the libertarian point of view that I would prefer, but since I’m enjoined from going after these spamming bastards with a shotgun, the gummint needs to get on the ball.

Second, the FTC needs to start actively cracking down on boiler-room operations.  Which is like asking the FCC to start actively cracking down on bad hams.  It happens once in a while for some of the more egregious violators, but even then, the regulatory agencies have no law-enforcement authority and for anything more than a proposed liability (otherwise known as a fine), they have to get the DOJ involved.  So, OK, do that.  Or call on local law enforcement.  But stop pretending to enforce the law by having people send in complaints that (so far as it seems) rarely end up with spammers in hot water.  (That goes for junk fax laws and the CAN-SPAM act for email, too.)

There is simply no sense in having these laws if they aren’t enforced.

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*SMOP [Simple (or Small) Matter of Programming] 1. A piece of code, not yet written, whose anticipated length is significantly greater than its complexity. Used to refer to a program that could obviously be written, but is not worth the trouble. Also used ironically to imply that a difficult problem can be easily solved because a program can be written to do it; the irony is that it is very clear that writing such a program will be a great deal of work. “It’s easy to enhance a FORTRAN compiler to compile COBOL as well; it’s just a SMOP.” 2. Often used ironically by the intended victim when a suggestion for a program is made which seems easy to the suggester, but is obviously (to the victim) a lot of work. Compare minor detail.

At least Trump isn’t politics as usual.

Bobbi has a post up today musing about the Trump presidency as a “yawner” compared to, say, Johnson’s and Nixon’s.  I can’t disagree with anything she said.

I’ve no problem stating that I was a never-Trumper until Cruz fizzled. You can easily search this blog and see where I said I’d never vote for Trump.  I said I’d vote Libertarian if I had to.  But when Gary Johnson picked the egregious anti-gunner Bill Weld for VP, that put paid to that idea. And I had the sense at that point to drop my never-Trumpism like a hot rock when it was clear that it was a choice between either Trump or Hillary. Some on the right haven’t gotten to that point yet, and probably never will.  I feel sorry for them, because they are pushing back against history, and history never, ever loses.

Now, Trump was not my ideal candidate by any stretch of the imagination.  The truth is that Trump is neither left nor right, neither conservative nor progressive, neither fish nor fowl. He’s a businessman first and a populist second. He got tired of the constant anti-business attitude that emanates from Washington, under both Dem and GOP leadership, and decided to do something about it. Of course, as a billionaire, he could muse, like many of us do, “If I were president…” — and then actually suit action to words. By abandoning the politics of political correctness, and by enunciating a message that resonated with the American electorate — making America great again, subtext “after the disasters known as Clinton, GW Bush, and particularly Obama” — he clearly tapped into the psyche of the silent majority, because he beat the polls, not handily, but in sufficient numbers in sufficient states to win the Electoral College. (I’m minded of Joe Kennedy and the statement attributed to him regarding Jack’s first run for the Senate: “Don’t buy a single vote more than necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.”) Of course he also benefited from poor campaign decisions by Hillary, like her not campaigning in Wisconsin and probably losing there because of it.

Since the election?  Reagan was the Teflon president, I don’t know what they ought to call Trump, possibly the force-screen president, because all of the turds the Dems AND the GOP have thrown at him have either vanished into the ether or bounced back onto the throwers.  Trump’s base doesn’t care.  They somehow have the ability to tell the truth from the lies.  And most of it’s been lie after lie after lie, starting with the “Russia thing”, which was clearly made up out of whole cloth the day after the election to “explain” Hillary’s surprise loss.

Trump doesn’t care about party as much as he cares about restoring balance to the political environment and getting Washington out of things in which it has no business meddling. Like, gee, business, which has been slowly asphyxiating to death under the last three administrations. People can say that is selfish on his part because he’s a businessman, but like Reagan said, a rising tide floats all boats. Fix how government treats business, and everybody benefits.  The entire entrenched political class hates him for this — Dems and GOPes alike — because it threatens their little fiefdoms built up over the past half-century and more.  And you wonder why the GOPe won’t get behind Trump when the rank and file of the party seem to be willing to give him a chance?

Like Glenn Reynolds says, “Worst political class ever.”

And it doesn’t hurt that Trump’s a patriot at the same time, and willing to flex a little military muscle to put a stop to things like Daesh,* and Lil’ Kim’s megalomaniac drive to nuke the world.  Don’t think for a minute that he’s bluffing.  I don’t think Trump bluffs about anything.  The fat boy is going to find this out if he ever manages to loft a real nuclear weapon into the air — and maybe before.  The Chinese already have a strong inkling of it, and the mad mullahs in Iran would be well warned to have it on their radar, too.  The Russians?  The Russians are a joke, if a nuclear-armed one, because no matter what Putin does, the US can bankrupt them by simply opening the fracking taps wide.  We’re already on course to do that with our new ability to export natural gas and oil.  (Now if we could just get rid of the Jones Act…)

Then there’s the border wall.  I got to thinking the other day about Trump’s insistence that the Mexicans would pay for it, and their huffy rejoinder that they wouldn’t pay a dime for it.  The more I think about that, the more I think the left got it wrong (as usual) and so did the Mexicans (also as usual).  Hell, even the GOPe has gotten it wrong.  If you look at the recent ICE statistics on illegal border crossings from Mexico, they are way, way down.  And some re-crossings are happening in the other direction.  This is because the illegals here and the potential illegals there are more and more concerned about just how serious Trump is about rounding them up and sending them back.

The upshot of this is that I think the wall has already been built.  It’s a metaphorical wall built by a constant drumbeat of policy from the administration that says we aren’t going to put up with this any longer.  You don’t need concrete and steel and millions of dollars’ worth of labor (and graft — don’t forget the graft) to simply lay down a strong policy and then start enforcing it.  If Mexicans are afraid of what might happen if they cross illegally and get caught, they won’t cross.  And that’s a wall if I ever heard of one.

And as for the Mexicans paying for this metaphorical wall?  Can you say that they aren’t paying for it?  Somebody has to feed those people, clothe and house them, find them jobs, etc.  Remittances from the US back to Mexico are also dropping.

For once, it’s not Uncle Sucker paying Mexico’s welfare bill.

I haven’t even mentioned how Trump has the hapless, partisan press on the run.  I hate the fact that nobody took his Twitter account away from him after the inauguration, but what the hell, it makes the press go cuckoo for coco-puffs.  They spend so much time worrying about his latest tweet that substantive change being made by the White House goes right over their heads.  And now CNN has damn near committed suicide over a stupid YouTube video retweeted by the president.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of assholes.

Having a Grand Master Patriot Troll as president?  Yeah.  I can live with that.  Winning is good.

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* I like calling them Daesh because apparently they hate it.  It’s an acronym for their name in Arabic, and apparently the acronym is close to the Arabic word for “shit” or something like that.  Anything that pisses those bastards off is OK with me.

Something to think about

Speaking of lying liars and the liars who speak lies, I just ran across this Forbes article about Microsoft lying back in January about how “insecure” Windows 7 is, to scaremonger people into upgrading to Windows 10 lickety-split.  This, despite the fact that Microsoft is committed to extended support for Windows 7 until January 14, 2020.  (Note:  Forbes dislikes ad-blockers, so you’ll have to either give them a one-time pass or use a browser without an ad-blocker.)

I have one machine that auto-updated to Windows 10 about a year ago, and given what I use it for, I intend to roll it back to Windows 7 at some point when I have a clear weekend to run all the Windows Updates it will need for a scratch re-install.  I also have an Intel ComputeStick that came with Windows 10 and (as I understand it) can’t be downgraded.

I don’t like the new interface, even when all the stupid panes are disabled and it goes back to looking more like Windows 7.  I don’t like the fact that configurations you could make easily to the OS configuration in Windows 7 are now hidden away under layers of obfuscation, or simply can’t be made anymore at all.  And I definitely don’t like the privacy approach (which is to say the non-privacy approach) that Microsoft has taken with Windows 10.

The fact that the current generation of processors doesn’t play well with Windows 7 doesn’t really bother me.  I don’t have any machines with current processors 🙂  And well, as long as eBay is around, it won’t be hard to find fast CPUs and motherboards that still support Windows 7.

The boss just suggested that some of the interface problems go away with a cheap add-on called Start10.  For $4.99 it’s worth a try, but I still think that one machine is going back to Windows 7.

Obligatory FTC Disclaimer:  I have no connection to StarDock or the Start10 software.

 

Yes

Today is the real Memorial Day.

Thank you

Thank you to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for home and country.

I don’t give a shit who you are

but if you are the son of a bitch who leaked information about the Manchester Bomber to the press, we will find you and you will die slowly.  Screaming.  Maybe.  If we leave your tongue intact that long.

Or (and more likely, unfortunately), when you’re caught — and you will be — you will for sure spend a great deal of time as a guest of Uncle Sam in one of his Big Houses, paying for your felonious bullshit.

That is the fuck all.

…no, actually it’s not.

You fuckers out there who are actively working to undermine the President of the United States, legally and fairly elected under our fucking Constitution that none of you actually believe in?

You’re next.

Like Charlie says, this is wrong, it’s evil, and it has to stop.  It has to stop now.  I have GRANDCHILDREN.  They are going to grow up in a world free of terrorist assholes and left-wing morons if I have to die to make that happen.

Grow the fuck up.  Stick your soi-disant antifa bullshit up your fascist asses.  If you can’t do that, then get the fuck out of the way and let the grown-ups deal with this.

Now that is the fuck all.

Third anniversary

Still love you. Still miss you.

InComeying!

It’s a beautiful thing. Democrats have been pontificating that they had no confidence in Comey since before the election, claiming he threw it for Trump (doubtful, Hillary was simply a lousy, unlikable candidate who forewent campaigning in states it turned out she really needed), and now they’re all pouty and screaming “Constitutional crisis!” because Trump, who had no confidence in him either, gave Comey the Order of the Boot.

And before you get your panties in a wad, Fucky Chuckie Schumer is on record as saying he lost confidence in him, too. Not that that will save any left-hanging panties from being wadded, but you can’t say I didn’t try to help.

Make up your minds, people. You can’t have it both ways. You already tried that with 43 — either he was dumber than a box of rocks and Cheney was really the power behind the Resolute Desk, or he graduated from Yale and HBS, and flew fighter jets in the Air National Guard. It’s either one or the other, can’t be both.  And signs point to the latter a lot more than they do the former, even if I ended up disgusted with the end game of his administration.

Oh, look. The government is going to do something for me.

So, many, many months (it is actually several years) after the people across the street got their fancy 96-gallon automated trash carts (automated in the sense that the truck is supposed to be able to pull up, grab them, and dump them without human contact — unless perhaps the human is supposed to get out and hook it up; this is unclear and I’ve never seen the process work), we finally were told that we’re supposed to get ours during the second half of this month.

Dear Indianapolis Resident,

The Indianapolis Department of Public Works has partnered with Waste Management to provide residents in your area with a 96-gallon trash cart.  The new cart provides a uniform look to the City’s streets, decreases litter, and makes disposal of trash easier than ever before.

OK, so let’s address the BS here.

The new cart provides a uniform look to the City’s streets,

This is ridiculous.  The carts are on the streets one day per week.  Meanwhile, the City can’t legislate what everyone’s mailbox looks like, or what the front of their house or their front yard looks like, and (around here, anyway) has let the street go so far to shit that so what if we all have the same trash cart.  If that’s a prime reason for doing this, they need to find a better one.

decreases litter,

Really.  They could do that just by telling the fucking garbageman to pick up the shit he drops.

But anyway.

and makes disposal of trash easier than ever before.

Well…probably not.  Because “before” (now), we can dump trash in the can any way we please, bagged or unbagged.  But after we get the new carts (from the DPW FAQ on their website),

Residents must place all trash in a [sic] 10-15 gallon kitchen size bags before placing them in the cart.

Given that we currently throw all of our trash into a 34-gallon bag-lined trash container in the back hall, that’s going to be a major change for us, and we’ll have to buy more bags, at our own expense of course.

Since we’re making it easier for Waste Management to collect trash, I fully expect a decrease in our property taxes, since I’m sure it will cost the city less to pay Waste Management to collect our trash.  (BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA…just kidding.)

Oh, and check this out (again, from the FAQ):

Loads of trash that exceed the capacity of the 96-gallon trash cart may be disposed of at the Marion County Citizens Transfer Station located at 2324 S Belmont Avenue. The transfer station is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The cost is $2 per car load and $5  per truck load.

Fuck you.  I am like hell driving all the way to the south side to dump household trash, and pay for it to boot.  Oh, and you can get a second cart, but it will cost you $65.

And get this:

Residents can place bags of leaves in their cart with their regular trash or set out 2 bags of leaves/yard waste per month as part of the heavy trash program.

Good thing I stopped bagging my grass, because there’s no way that would be enough space.  At least they are still doing the fall leaf program.

City services aren’t really services anymore.  They force you to do more of the city’s work yourself, pay more property and sales taxes for the privilege, and smile while they take you in the ass again.

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.

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* 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.)

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