“Worse off than 100 years ago.” Really?

said someone in response to a post on Facebook of an LA Slimes, er, Times, article entitled “Our Dishonest President” (to which I refuse to link, go look it up yourself).  Specifically, she said:

this is so true and the people fell for it now they are complaining. oh well so what let them suffer his idiotic ways until it will take years to recover from what he already has done. you people who voted for him in my opinion are just as hateful as he is and self centered. you were afraid of hilary and what she would have accomplished to make america greater than it was but now we are worse off than we were 100 years ago. lets stop him before its to late and keep him under careful watch. but you people who thought he was a change for good may you all suffer the consequences. its to bad you had to drag us into it with you.

Ignoring the last eight years and the near-irreversible damage they did to the Republic (national debt doubled, healthcare in a shambles, international reputation wrecked), not to mention your near-complete inability to write like an educated person, really doesn’t reflect well on your thesis, sweetie.

Further, as an historian by training who spent quite a lot of time studying the first half of the 20th century, I take issue with your assertion that we are “worse off than we were 100 years ago”. I doubt you would like to live in 1917, if for no other reason that you would not have a vote.

Suck it up, snowflake.  Or do you want more Trump?  Because this is how you get more Trump.

Government by Twitter and surveillance

We have a customer at high levels in the US government who suddenly presented us with a requirement that our product not write a console log, due to new privacy commandments handed down from on high.  We explained how they could do that, along with a warning that the console log is generated for a reason and it would be very difficult if not impossible to support their licensed copy of the product if they suppressed the log.

Naturally, less than a week later, they had a problem about which we could provide only educated guesses regarding its cause.

Why would this customer suddenly want the log suppressed?  What information does it contain that their SMTP server logs don’t contain?  Did they also suppress the SMTP logs?  Is this actually legal under government regulations dictating how records are to be kept?*

The problem is that this is a typically-idiotic reaction to the competing and escalating accusations of who hacked, surveilled, or wiretapped whom, and for what reason.  Both sides should shut up, climb down, and move on.  The American public at large — the so-called “silent majority” —  is getting extremely tired of it, from both sides.

Unfortunately, we have one party running the government by Twitter, and the other party refusing to accept that it lost, and going more and more insane by the day on the way to probably having an even smaller minority after 2018.  Fun times in America 🙂

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* Probably not, under 44 U.S.C. 3301, but IANAL.

So the hell what?

So I guess the new idiotarian progressive talking point is that Mike Pence won’t eat alone with any female other than his wife.

Seems to me that the bottom line is, “What business is it of ours?”  Plus, the rest of the world has known this since 2002, when Pence mentioned it in an interview with The Hill*, so it would be nice if the idiotarian progressive left could kindly keep up.

The resulting charge among radical feminists on the left (but I repeat myself) that Pence discriminates against women because this means they can’t get the same one-on-one access to him as men do is just another bogus charge from the progs, trying to stir something up.  But given modern security concerns, who actually believes that any official meeting with the Vice President (or any other politician at that level) isn’t covered and recorded for security purposes?  Despite that assumption on my part, he chooses to avoid the appearance of impropriety, and I say, bully for him.

If I were VP, or frankly a politician at any level, I’d just carry around a table sign that said, “This interaction will be monitored and recorded for security purposes,” and let the chips fall where they may.  Glenn Reynolds’ advice to always record or film your own interviews, especially when you figure the opposition will cut and paste their tape to suit their agenda, makes great sense.  While it sounds Nixonian, it’s hardly covert or illegal if you come right out and say all of your interactions with other people will be recorded.  They can take it or leave it.

FWIW, I somehow suspect Pence has either read Glenn’s “The Appearance of Impropriety”, or he already understood the concept deep in his bones when he went into politics.

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* See the recent profile on Karen Pence in the Washington Post.  It’s about halfway down.

In which I am pissed off and embarrassed at the same time

I haven’t been able to log in securely (which is to say, at all) to download Gmail mail from Outlook 2010 on my desktop since something like February 17.  I actually had to switch mail accounts over to GoDaddy in order to get my personal mail.  (I use a forwarding service for my primary email address, so I can forward that anywhere I want.)  And even at GoDaddy I couldn’t use SSL for logins.  It was maddening — all I was getting was an error that said, “Your server does not support the encryption type you have specified”, and the connection would fail.

And yeah, it worked fine in the web browser and on my phone and iPad the whole time.

It was a conundrum.  I knew there was nothing wrong with my certificates or anything like that, and what’s worse, Outlook 2010 running on another Windows 7 machine in my office (but hooked up to different accounts) was working fine.

So there matters sat for the last month.

I got to searching around again today for a solution to the problem, and I just completely and accidentally ran across someone saying they had to turn off email scanning in their anti-virus software in order to get rid of this error.

And I thought, fuck me.  I upgraded my AV software a little over a month ago.  But only on my main machine, not on the other one where things are still working fine (and which isn’t running the same anti-virus suite, for reasons that will soon become evident).

So I opened my copy of F-Secure Client Security 12 (I get a free license for it from the company I work for, that’s why — and only one, so that’s why the other machine doesn’t run it) and looked at the settings.  Yes, “Scan and remove viruses from e-mails” was checked.  And way over to the side was a URL-ish link that said “Protocols”.  Hmm.

I clicked that and was presented with a list of port numbers to scan for POP3, IMAP4, and SMTP.  “OK,” said I, “let’s turn off POP3 port scanning,” so I set it to 0, clicked OK, and went back to Outlook.

Worked fine.  All that non-existent hair torn out for nothing.

What was truly interesting was that I could SEND email through Gmail just fine.  But that’s because I was using TLS instead of SSL, so I wasn’t sending it on port 465, I was (and am) sending it on port 587.  And that also explains why I couldn’t make IMAP work on the desktop, either.

I kept beating my head against the wall on this for a month because I really needed to get it working, because I had become used to being able to check my mail on my handheld devices and still download it at home in Outlook (which is where I do most of my email composition anyway; those tiny keyboards don’t work with my fat fingers).  The problem with moving things over to GoDaddy is that they only support IMAP on their expensive “Ultimate” Workspace Email product, and I’m using the freebie account that came with my hosting — and they don’t support TLS for outbound SMTP connections, which is really annoying in this day and age.

So in the end, I just turned off the damn email scanning altogether in F-Secure.  And I’m embarrassed to say that I should have thought of that in the first damn place, but in partial mitigation, I felt like shite from Christmas till after Valentine’s Day and probably wasn’t thinking all that clearly at the time.  It wasn’t till February 24, ironically the day I went to the doctor for my regular checkup, that I actually felt like I’d recovered from whatever I had all that time.  And by that time, I’d sure as fuck forgotten all about when I upgraded the AV suite and how that connected with my sudden inability to log in anywhere securely with Outlook.

And besides — who expects a product that’s designed (in part) to keep your email safe to keep your email safe by NOT LETTING YOU LOG IN TO GET IT IN THE FIRST PLACE?

Jesus. Wept.

The most important thing about Masonic secrets ever written

was at the tail end of The Builders, by Rev. Bro. Joseph Fort Newton.

“When is a man a Mason? When he can look out over the rivers, the hills, and the far horizon with a profound sense of his own littleness in the vast scheme of things, and yet have faith, hope, and courage—which is the root of every virtue. When he knows that down in his heart every man is as noble, as vile, as divine, as diabolic, and as lonely as himself, and seeks to know, to forgive, and to love his fellow man. When he knows how to sympathize with men in their sorrows, yea, even in their sins—knowing that each man fights a hard fight against many odds. When he has learned how to make friends and to keep them, and above all how to keep friends with himself. When he loves flowers, can hunt the birds without a gun, and feels the thrill of an old forgotten joy when he hears the laugh of a little child. When he can be happy and high-minded amid the meaner drudgeries of life. When star-crowned trees, and the glint of sunlight on flowing waters, subdue him like the thought of one much loved and long dead. When no voice of distress reaches his ears in vain, and no hand seeks his aid without response. When he finds good in every faith that helps any man to lay hold of divine things and sees majestic meanings in life, whatever the name of that faith may be. When he can look into a wayside puddle and see something beyond mud, and into the face of the most forlorn fellow mortal and see something beyond sin. When he knows how to pray, how to love, how to hope. When he has kept faith with himself, with his fellow man, with his God; in his hand a sword for evil, in his heart a bit of a song—glad to live, but not afraid to die! Such a man has found the only real secret of Masonry, and the one which it is trying to give to all the world.”

I adopted this as my own Masonic philosophy when I first read it, quoted at the tail end of the Indiana Monitor I received when raised a Master Mason. I am too hard-headed and pragmatic for the mystical/alchemical/Egyptian mystery religion/Kabbalistic connections that many of my brethren have (although I don’t mean to dissuade them from their studies — we all have different approaches to Masonry, and that’s fine). I simply apply Occam’s Razor to the Fraternity, and what I come up with is very similar to what Newton did.

I struggle every day to become that Mason. As we learn in the 14th Degree, it is not given to man to attain perfection; but if he honestly strives for that goal, the rewards are incalculable. This is similar to what Rabbi Tarfon taught:

“The day is short, the labor vast, the toilers idle, the reward great, and the Master of the house is insistent. It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it.” (Avot 2:20-21)

Once again proving that Bernie Sanders has the economic understanding of a shellfish

So this was on Facebook today.

Yeah, sure, Bernie.  I’ll bet the IRS would be surprised to learn that.

This wealthy induhvidual [sic] who likes to play up his common-man progressive credentials hasn’t got the brains to pour pee out of a boot with instructions printed on the heel.

Major American corporations — the ones that really bring in the dough hand over fist — pay plenty in taxes.  The difference between them paying taxes and me or you paying taxes is that they build their taxes into their pricing structure.  Every time you buy a newspaper, or a candy bar, or a fancy meal, or a car, or a house — you’re helping the corporation(s) that brought you those products pay their taxes.

And every time some dumb son-of-a-bitch like Bernie Sanders succeeds in making them pay more of “their fair share”, prices go up on all those products for the people who are least able to afford the increase.  Multi-billion dollar oil companies, wanna stick ’em with windfall profit taxes?  Price of gas goes up and it gets harder for people to go to work.  Big soda-pop company, wanna stick ’em with a sugar tax?  The price of a soda goes up and people lose their jobs when sales volume falls off.  And it’s not just taxes — want to force big companies to pay $15/hr minimum wage?  Prices go up and people lose jobs suddenly made too expensive for companies to provide.

Bernie’s right about one thing:  America’s not broke.

But he’s damn wrong about who is and isn’t paying their taxes.

Hey Bernie — how can you afford those three homes you have?  Maybe we should take a look at YOUR tax returns.

You want more Trump? Part I dunno what.

So, this happened.

New GOP Star Born When California Dems Forcibly Remove Vietnamese Senator for Criticizing Tom Hayden

Sen. Janet Nguyen (R) was the star of last weekend’s California GOP convention because she was forcibly removed from the floor of the Senate on Feb. 23 for criticizing the late Sen. Tom Hayden (D), who was honored by his former colleagues two days before.

I’m going to make it plain that I am lukewarm as hell about Trump, even if I think most of the things he is pledging to do need to be done (and wouldn’t get done with a more “conventional” GOP president, and may still not if the “conventional” GOP Congress doesn’t start playing ball).  And I hope people understand that when I repeatedly say, “if you want more Trump, this is how you get more Trump”, I mean, stupid moves like the one linked above are how the Dems unintentionally solidify GOP support, i.e., “more Trump”.

All the protests and the heckling and the sit-ins and the crocodile tears from the press and the unfunny assassination jokes — that’s how you get more Trump.  And you’d think the Dems would be able to wrap their minds around that and find a different, more adult way of dealing with their loss.  You know — like the right did when Obama was elected.  We weren’t happy about it, and we snarked about it, and certain idiots came up with conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory about him, but in the main, the right does things differently from the left — primarily, it doesn’t act like a spoiled baby with a poopy diaper when it doesn’t get its way.

At this point, the left is just damaging itself to no good purpose.  If you think this hasn’t resulted in the creation of a ton of closet Trump Democrats, kind of like there used to be Reagan Democrats, you haven’t been paying attention.  And the last thing I’m going to say about that is that the American Republic is not a healthy place if the balance of power swings too far either direction.  I can get along with a Kennedy Democrat, or a Scoop Jackson Democrat, or even a Zell Miller Democrat.  It’s these far-left socialist redistributionist anti-capitalist Democrats that I have a problem with.  This country was designed to be run from the center, and we’ve almost completely lost track of that.

It’s time for compromise, and neither side will ever have a better chance to do that than right now.  That’s what Trump is all about:  The Deal, which by definition requires compromise.  If you don’t want to compromise, don’t expect to get more than short shrift from him.

So, huh.

Went to the doctor yesterday.  We have this issue with my weight.  It’s too fucking high and I fully admit that.  We’ve been trying to get it down for months, and I think between stress and the near-total impossibility for me to get any exercise (I walk 15 feet to work every morning, and not much at all during the day since I sit at a computer), I’ve been lucky to keep the magic number under 300.  And I don’t care what anyone says, I’m too short and too old to carry that much weight around.

So the doctor said, how would you feel about trying an appetite suppressant?  Basically that’s a stimulant (so, controlled substance, and not covered by my insurance, but only about a dollar a day — it’s as cheap as Weight Watchers), so you have to be careful to take it early enough in the morning that it doesn’t keep you up at night.  I said, sure, what do I have to lose?

So he prescribed one, and I took the first one this morning at around 8:30 AM.

Normally I’m up and around and prowling the kitchen several times during the day, and giving the refrigerator door a workout (or the snack cabinet, or whatever).  Not today.

I’ve had

  • Toast with butter for breakfast
  • A string cheese stick for a snack
  • Ham, bacon and swiss on rye, cottage cheese, and a Fiber One brownie for lunch
  • A single-serve bag of pretzels and a single-serve tub of nacho cheese dip for a snack

and it’s nearly 7PM and I haven’t been hungry for dinner till just now.

Amazing.  I hope this works.  If I can lose 25-30 pounds, I’ll probably feel like doing some workout again.  This plus using the elliptical pedal thing under my desk and getting in my “steps” every day (5000 is my daily goal — low, but you sit at a desk at home all day and try to get in more than that) and maybe that’s doable.

ETA:  I had half of a 12″ pizza for dinner.  And at 8:30PM, I started yawning so badly that I fed the cats and started getting ready for bed.  That shit really is a 12-hour doszzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..

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.

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