An interesting spin

As most folks are probably aware, the Christian Colorado baker who’s so far 2-0 in court (1 outright win, 1 settlement that was effectively a win) has been sued YET AGAIN by the same fucking plaintiff, who apparently can’t get enough of that sweet sweet court action — even though plaintiff effectively lost twice already.*

For a lot of people, it’s difficult to decide where to come down on this case.  Either it’s a religious freedom issue, or it’s a public accommodation issue.  Either you have the right of your religious convictions to not create art for people who go against your religious convictions, or simply by being in business serving the public, you are bound to create art for anyone who asks you to (and is willing to pay for it), regardless of how it might violate your religious convictions.

I just saw a comment on Facebook that might put the whole thing into perspective:

There’s a big difference between baking bread to FEED people, a common need, and making cult-items for cult-worship, which is extraordinarily specific. Each community has to provide those items for its own members.

In essence, nobody “needs” a wedding cake; and if they want a particular kind of wedding cake that is not the sort of thing someone outside of their community is likely to agree to make, they are expected to find someone in their own community who will, rather than trying to force someone not of their community to do so.

The two communities in question are the Christian community, and the gay community.

And we’re all aware that Masterpiece Cakeshop was targeted specifically to spark the legal battle that ensued.  The plaintiffs can’t lie about that; there were plenty of other cake shops, the owner offered to sell them a non-customized cake, and they weren’t having any of it.  This is weaponized lawfare, pure and simple.

But it violates the dictum that nobody should be forced to do something against their will simply because they happen to operate a business that makes the sort of thing that someone else wants to pervert for “reasons”.

I mean, let’s say I have an old Ford Model A and I want my mechanic to make a rat-rod out of it.  But my mechanic doesn’t believe in making rat-rods, and in fact feels very strongly that my Model A ought to be restored.  Can I sue him for refusing to do what I want to pay him to do?  Sure, if I want to be laughed out of court and find a new mechanic.**

No, I would be expected in that case to seek out a mechanic who specialized in, or at least did rat-rod conversions.  Thus fulfilling the commenter’s dictum that cult-items for cult-worship should be provided by the cult’s community.

Conversely, if plaintiff had approached Masterpiece Cakeshop and simply purchased a ready-made cake, the owner would not have been put in the position of having to provide a custom cult-item for plaintiff’s cult-activity.

This seems fair to me.  Every rule can be taken too far, and the folks who argue that this is a public accommodation case are simply wrong.  “The public” does not typically walk into a Christian-owned wedding cake shop and order a cake for a gay wedding.

And let’s pose another proposition:  What if plaintiff had walked into a Muslim-owned bakery and asked for such a cake?  (Yes, that proposition has been posed before.)  Does anyone in the “public accommodation” arena actually believe a discrimination suit would have been filed against the baker?  (Does anyone actually think plaintiff was deranged enough to ASK a Muslim-owned bakery for such a thing?)

What this was and continues to be about is the attempted destruction of the majority Christian society in this country and its adherents who still believe certain things are immoral and will not participate in the doing of them.

Those people have rights, too.  And those rights are being trampled on in the name of inclusiveness and diversity, both of which ought to be considered obscenities rather than virtues.  It needs to stop, and I have a feeling one of these days it’s going to stop — violently.

Citizens, be vigilant.

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* See how I did that without pronouns?

** For the record, I don’t own a Model A, and I think rat-rods are ridiculous.

It’s not CEO pay that’s really at issue

I see that the CEO of Goodwill Industries is being jacked up for taking a $730,000 annual salary while paying disabled workers “pennies”.  The actual complaint is that Goodwill is legally taking advantage of an 80-year-old law that allows them to pay the disabled significantly sub-minimum wages.

Note carefully the word “legally”.

As Judge Learned Hand memorably said regarding taxes,

Over and over again courts have said that there is nothing sinister in so arranging one’s affairs as to keep taxes as low as possible. Everybody does so, rich or poor; and all do right, for nobody owes any public duty to pay more than the law demands: taxes are enforced exactions, not voluntary contributions. To demand more in the name of morals is mere cant.

The same is true of wages.  Even minimum wages are a form of immoral overreach by governments, because the fact is that some jobs simply aren’t worth the minimum wage.  (Flipping burgers and asking if you want fries with that being particular examples of the concept.)  And the further fact is that the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. § 203) explicitly allows entities such as Goodwill to pay sub-minimum wages to disabled workers.*  So if you want Goodwill to pay the disabled more than “pennies”, stop bitching about the CEO’s well-deserved pay and work to get the law changed.  (And good luck with that — you’ll need it.)

That said, I do not understand the left’s penchant for chewing out CEOs of multinational corporations about their level of compensation. With the money also comes significant responsibility, and the bigger the company, the more responsibility. Plus, such CEOs probably work longer hours than most of their employees, because CEOs simply cannot be effective if they insist on being nine-to-fivers.  Most progressives probably never worked more than 40 hours a week in their lives, and probably never worked as more than middle management (let along as a CEO or small business owner), so they don’t understand this.

In the current contretemps over Goodwill’s CEO compensation, whether or not “he” pays disabled employees “pennies” (decisions about individual compensation at that level are more than likely made well below his level; he probably sees the summaries of the summaries of the budget summaries and has no idea what the average employee takes home) is not the point.

What I believe I really see in these “CEOs make too much money” complaints is envy and jealousy. If you can show me real evidence of wrongdoing, I’ll be happy to say the guy should be canned. But be warned, the guy who replaces him will want the same kind of compensation package. Probably more, because he’ll be fully aware of how his predecessor was hounded out.

FWIW, used to see the same kind of complaints about the United Way, Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc. ad nauseum. No corporation, profit or non-profit, is immune to the REEEEEEE brigade of the woke left.

(Also FWIW, I do not give any money to the United Way — and have not done for over 25 years — because I think they ARE a waste of money. I prefer to give money directly to United Way partners because that way I know where the money is going. Blindly giving money to the United Way — even if you designate a partner or partners for your donation as many do with payroll deduction — just means the money gets filtered through another layer of bureaucracy before it gets to the people it’s meant to help.)

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* Let’s also remember that in this day and age, people who are disabled to the point of being qualified to do the sort of work Goodwill (and other such organizations that employ the disabled) hire them to do are by and large the recipients of monthly disability checks from the U.S. Government, paid for by the generous (?) wallet-Hoovering suffered by the rest of us on an annual basis.  While a disability check isn’t anything to write home about, it’s still money being paid out for no other reason than the person being paid is (allegedly) unable to work at a regular job.  Thus one could view what Goodwill pays the disabled as supplementary income as opposed to “gee this person only makes 58 cents an hour, holy shit, that’s immoral, reeeeeeeeeeee!”

The other point that should be made is that typically the point of Goodwill providing these jobs in the first place is to give people a) something to do and b) a sense of purpose, when they would otherwise be sitting around doing little or nothing.  If that means you can buy a little something for yourself at the end of the pay period that you otherwise would not be able to afford, that’s icing on the cake.  Nobody likes to sit around and mope simply because they don’t have the skills or abilities to do what the rest of us would consider an everyday job.

Happy Independence Day!

Endorsed.  Kaepernick Nike need not apply.

Look, Nike has a new shoe release

…just in time for Independence Day!

(Nah, bro, just joking, fuck Nike and the Kaepernick they rode in on.)

The WSJ is run by a pack of cowards.

They aren’t accepting comments on this article.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said he would call a special legislative session to address gun control after a gunman killed 12 people at a Virginia Beach government building on Friday.

Mr. Northam, an embattled Democrat who has held on to office after a racist photo from his medical-school yearbook re-emerged in February, called Tuesday for sweeping changes, including universal background checks and expanding local authority to regulate firearms, such as in government buildings.

“I will be asking for votes and laws, not thoughts and prayers,” the governor said at a news conference. He hopes to convene the special session by the end of June, his spokeswoman said.

As Glenn Reynolds memorably said many years ago, in the wake of Sandy Hook,

“When people say things like ‘don’t let this moment pass without acting on gun control,’ what they’re really saying is our arguments are so unpersuasive that they can only succeed when people aren’t thinking clearly.

And as usual, that’s exactly what’s going on here.  The bottom line, Mr. Northam, is you don’t need new gun laws, you need to enforce the gun laws you already have.

And let’s talk for a moment about “silencers”, since everyone has their panties in a knot because the jerk used one. Silencers aren’t. They don’t work the way you think they do, if the only place you’ve ever seen them used is in Hollywood films. That’s why they’re actually called “suppressors”, not “silencers.” The idea is to suppress enough of the bang to bring it down to a reasonable level…kind of like putting a muffler on your car.

And moreover, y’know, you can’t walk into a gun store and walk out with a suppressor. In some states you can’t even buy one. They’re designated Class III arms — just like full-auto machine guns. To buy one, you have to apply for BATFE approval and, once approved (which is not “same-day” like a 4473 usually is), you have to register the suppressor’s serial number with BATFE. And you’re not done, because most legal experts recommend setting up a trust for the purpose of registering the suppressor. That costs money. And then, so does the tax stamp you have to buy from the BATFE for each and every suppressor you register — $200 each.*

So this dude either stole that suppressor, or he bought it legally and went through a maze of requirements to get it. Or he built one in his garage out of an old oil filter or suchlike, in which case he’s as much of a federal felon as if he’d stolen a manufactured one.  How much more gun law do you need, Mr. Northam?

FWIW here’s all the BS you have to go through to buy a suppressor — and I’d own them for my guns simply to save my hearing, if it wasn’t such an expensive, Byzantine process.

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* I was reminded by a Facebook friend that said tax stamp can take 6 months or more to receive AFTER you apply and pay for it.

Destroying our history to save our country … doesn’t work.

The City of Dallas has declared its statue of Robert E. Lee — removed from a city park two years ago — as “surplus property” and is putting it up for sale.

To say that this is ridiculously stupid is to treat the issue with kindness and charity.

You may call Lee and the rest of the leaders of the Southern Confederacy traitors (and many under-educated Americans do), but the fact is that none of them were ever tried as traitors, and indeed, all but one of them accepted amnesty and was eventually restored to citizenship.  The same is true clear down to the soldiers in the trenches — anyone who applied for amnesty got his citizenship back.

In the end, not treating anyone but Jefferson Davis as a war criminal (and that was mostly his own fault, but a strong case can be made that Davis was mentally disturbed during at least the last year of the war, and then for the rest of his life) is what glued the country back together.

Now in our modern day, we see those who would tear the country down destroying monuments to the men who, probably more than anyone else, kept things from flying apart after Appomattox. They were formidable and honorable soldiers, but they also knew when they were licked, and they laid down their arms without a lot of fanfare. And when the Army of Northern Virginia paraded through the Union lines to lay down their arms, they were saluted by the Union troops, and in turn saluted back. Thus the healing began.

Lee himself urged many, many butternut soldiers, both in person and in writing, to sign the amnesty forms and get their citizenship back. His own would have been restored had it not been for Secretary of State William Henry Seward, one of the biggest jackasses in Lincoln’s cabinet short of Edwin M. Stanton. Instead, it had to be restored posthumously in 1974 by vote of Congress, after someone discovered in the National Archives Lee’s amnesty form that had been hidden away by Seward after he received it.

If you have not studied the Civil War and its aftermath, you probably have no idea how many soldiers pleaded with Lee to disappear with them into the mountains to continue the resistance against the Federals — and the fact that he did not, and indeed scolded them for even considering such a doomed pursuit, is another mark in his favor. To tear down his monuments is to deny his importance to our history, regardless of his actions in the field between April 1861 and April 1865.  The same is true of the monuments raised to other great men of the Civil War, including some like Major General George H. Thomas, who fought for the Union, but is now denigrated because his family in Virginia owned slaves.

Full disclosure: I’m a Hoosier, born and bred. Members of my family fought on both sides. It doesn’t matter because it ended over a century and a half ago, with the Union restored and slavery ended. That being said, I believe in my heart that the South was correct about States’ Rights, and we see the result of their defeat on that subject today in our massively expanded Federal Government, which operates far beyond the pale of what was agreed upon in Philadelphia during that hot summer of 1787.

You really want to tear the country apart? Keep tearing down our history. That will do it just fine.

Pelosi stumbles

As Roger Simon puts it, “The re-election of Donald Trump will be dated from the evening of May 23, 2019.”

It would have happened sooner or later, but Nancy Pelosi’s out-of-control behavior—accusing Trump of a cover-up before meeting with him (sheesh), demanding his family stage an intervention (double sheesh), etc.—clearly forced the president finally to issue a memo giving Attorney General Barr authority to declassify the 2016 campaign surveillance documents. (He undoubtedly had it in his hip pocket for a while.)

Unlike Simon, who himself seems to waffle a bit on the subject, I don’t think Trump was “forced” to do this at all.  He’s said all along he was going to declassify the material.  I think he did have this memo in his hip pocket for awhile, but I also think he was waiting for the best (for the Democrats, the worst) possible time to issue it.

And Pelosi just could not keep her yap shut and play nice with the President while her underlings, dripping saliva from their slack mouths like rabid dogs, continue to press for impeachment where there is no impeachable offense.  Nope.  The Trump Derangement Syndrome is strong with this one.  So you want to play cover-up games, Madame Speaker?  Try covering this up once it’s revealed to the public in all of its ugly glory.  And either way Simon wants to slice it — forced or unforced — he still ends up with this:

Result: game changer. The re-election of Donald Trump will be dated from the evening of May 23, 2019. And the supposedly politically-savvy Ms. Pelosi will be marked down as the instigator.

Yeah, I know I already put that up top.  I’m savoring it, it’s my blog, and fuck you if you don’t like me repeating it.

I know there are a lot of folks out there even on the GOP side who pooh-pooh the idea that Donald Trump is playing 4D intergalactic chess while the Democrats and everyone else who opposes him are playing checkers.  As I keep repeating, Donald Trump is not a politician.  He’s a businessman.  He did not get where he is today without understanding the elements of how a business deal works, and how you get to the deal not only through negotiation but also by grandstanding and brinkmanship.  You call people belittling names and talk about their poor levels of cognition.  You understand that a trade war with a country that sells us a lot of stuff but doesn’t buy nearly as much in return* can be won with tariffs (something the Wall Street Journal editorial board doesn’t seem to understand).  You just keep slugging and slugging and slugging until the other guy screams “Uncle!”

And that’s why Donald Trump is playing at troll level Intergalactic Grand Master when it comes to dealing with politicians both domestic and foreign.  And they do not understand how to fight back, or even how to defend themselves against that sort of attack, because “nobody in government does that!”

Donald Trump does.  We can’t spare this man.  He fights.

And I would not have said that even three years ago.

_______________________

* Please don’t tell me how much corn and soy China buys from US farmers, and how tariffs are going to kill the small family farmer.  The Chinese can threaten all day to stop buying food from us, but only if they want famine in their country.  Farmers are planners, all over the world, and you can’t simply walk over to another country and say, “We want to buy this year’s soybean crop from you,” when that soybean crop was already sold two years ago to someone else.  China is beginning to discover to its dismay the realities of the market, and regardless of tariffs, they’ll still buy US soybeans and corn, and pork, and all kinds of other foodstuffs, because they simply won’t be able to buy them anywhere else.  Oh, and if China starts a war with the West?  Hope they have lots of rations stuffed away, because they can’t even begin to feed their own people if their western partners shut off the supply.  Japan found that out at the end of WWII.  The Brits would have been in that sort of trouble throughout WWII if it hadn’t been for US convoys shipping them food (one of the reasons we had to ration food during the war), and the Brits were still rationing food until 1954, nine years after the war ended, and fourteen years after rationing started in 1940.  So don’t tell me the Chinese can just buy their food elsewhere.  They can’t even nuke us into submission and come and take it from us, unless they want to die from eating irradiated food.

All you GoT fans out there…

…were you REALLY surprised when HBO fucked the end of the series the way they did?

Author can’t even write the last two books.

Hands over the show to the screenwriters, with some notes that might or might not be how he really would have written the books.  (No author ever actually knows how books are going to come out until they’re finished and off to the printer.  And if they do, it’s because they’re formula writers.)

HBO has not one but two spinoff series that they’re itching to get started.

GoT is in the way and needs to be killed with an axe…so they used a dragon.

Will I ever buy anything else George RR Martin writes?  Doubtful.  If he couldn’t arse himself to write one book, OK, two books because he’s incapable of self-editing, to finish the series, then fuck him.  There are better things to read.

Fifth Anniversary

I don’t know your heart
I don’t know where to begin
But I could feel you erasing the rivers I’d drawn in

Read the rest of this entry »

Windows 10 report

[Updated; scroll to the end.]

I’ve been updating Windows 7 machines around here to Windows 10 and generally have had good results.*

  • Dell Precision M6700 (main daily work machine):  Had problems at first because the System Reserved partition wasn’t big enough (and was nearly full).  There was extra unused space at the end of the disk; problem being that the System Reserved partition is at the beginning of the disk where I couldn’t expand it.  Found a tool called “MiniTool Partition Wizard” which I used to move things around so the System Reserved partition could be extended.  Voila, once that was done, Windows 10 installed without a hitch.  (I suspect the original System Reserved partition was shrunk to its smaller size when I migrated the OS disk from a spinning disk to a solid-state disk.  But I’m not sure about that.)  This machine is close to six years old but because I’ve been proactive about upgrades (SSD boot drive, increased RAM from shipped 8GB to max 32GB, and it’s an i7 to begin with), it still kicks a fair amount of butt and I have no plans to retire it any time soon.
  • Dell Precision M4300 (old travel laptop from when I had a desktop machine for daily work):  I actually did this one first, as proof of concept that you can actually still upgrade a properly-licensed Windows 7 machine for free using the Get Windows 10 installer.  (See here for more information.)  This upgrade went flawlessly, and the only problem now seems to be that the wireless card occasionally can throw a fit and blue-screen Windows.  I’ve only had that happen once, so crossing fingers that I don’t have to upgrade the wireless card.  (The antenna wires are too short to reach a half-mini card that would replace a full-mini card.)
  • Dell Latitude 2100 (old netbook for odd jobs like running the Q10 text editor): Surprisingly enough, this little machine with an Intel Atom processor and only 2GB RAM upgraded fine.  Very slow to do so, but that was only to be expected.  This was one of two of these little buggers that we have in the house; the other will be upgraded this weekend (it’s my wife’s).**  (These things actually weigh less than my iPad Air 2 in its Otterbox cover, and they have a real keyboard to boot.  Nice restaurant/coffee shop laptop alternative, if you can deal with the tiny screen.)
  • Dell Vostro 14R (N4010) (wife’s old laptop that she still uses for games and such):  This machine hasn’t been upgraded yet, but indications are that it will take the upgrade.  I’ll attempt it this weekend.
  • Dell PowerEdge T30 that doesn’t belong to me; I’m secretary-treasurer of the organization it belongs to, but it lives in my office.  Not ready to upgrade it yet, as it’s still running some legacy applications that I’m not sure are Windows 10 compatible.  This is the only non-laptop Dell machine in the house.  Windows 7 was kind of a bear to install on it, because technically it doesn’t support Windows desktop operating systems, just Windows server operating systems.  Eh.  You can make anything work.

Another machine is an old Frankenbox with an i5 and an ASUS motherboard that upgraded itself one night back in the GWX “here let us force you to upgrade when you’re least expecting it” days, so it’s been running Windows 10 for several years now.  It’s had issues but mostly they are sorted.  One of the problems it had was that it wouldn’t boot if the USB backup drive was connected.  That was solved by disabling boot from USB devices in the BIOS.  This is the machine I use in the radio shack, and it is going to be replaced by something faster one of these days.

Yet another machine is another old Frankenbox with an i5 and an Intel motherboard.  This one won’t upgrade, period.  The i5 processor is too old and isn’t supported by Microsoft; and Intel flatly withdrew support for their old desktop motherboards when Windows 10 came out, so no drivers.  Intel have never supported Windows 10 on those boards (and of course they don’t make motherboards anymore).  This is a shame, because that machine is actually faster than the shack machine.  Oh well.  (I’m giving it to a friend who wants to keep running Windows 7 for a while, so it won’t go to waste.)

Finally, I still have my old Inspiron 600m laptop (32-bit Pentium-M with 4GB RAM) that I bought years ago (like in 2001) for travel purposes.  It still runs XP (so it never talks to the network).  It is apparently barely upgradeable to Windows 7 and as I understand it there are no drivers for anything after that.  I’m not going to waste my time upgrading it to Windows 7, and it’s probably not worth putting Linux on (I did have Fedora Core on it years ago but wiped it and put XP back on it).  So that machine is either going to recycle, or I’ll find a stubborn old ham who still uses XP to take if off my hands.  (Most likely it will go to recycle.)

I’m actually surprised this has gone so easily.  I keep hearing horror stories from people who have upgraded or attempted to upgrade their Windows 7 machines.  I don’t know why I don’t have problems like they do.

I have to say that someone at Microsoft must have actually listened to the focus groups this time.  If Windows 10 decides it can’t install for some reason, it doesn’t simply die and leave you beached with a machine that won’t boot or is half-upgraded; it ROLLS BACK the upgrade and puts you back where you started (and is even apologetic about it).  At least this has been my experience.  YMMV.

You will note, BTW, that all of our laptop machines are Dells.  I have been buying Dells for years because they are solid consumer contenders.  (I don’t care much for their servers but I’m spoiled by HP, whose consumer PCs I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot Pole, or even a twelve-ounce White Russian, but whose servers are fucking bombproof.)  The names Toshiba and Lenovo are not spoken in this house.  And the only Apple stuff we have are our iPads.  Our Dell laptops just keep running; I’ve only destroyed one, and that was an accidental Diet Pepsi spill right into the keyboard that fried the CPU and the motherboard.  Got home from that trip, found a nearly-identical machine (with a better graphics card) on eBay for less than $400, swapped out the hard drives, and was back up and running again within a week.  Windows 7 never noticed the difference, other than needing to update a couple of drivers.

And that’s why I stick with Dell.

UPDATES:  Monday, May 20:

I didn’t get to the Vostro 14 yet.

I got the other Latitude 2100 updated; it lacked a System Reserved partition altogether, but that didn’t faze the installer, so I guess if you have one, it just has to be large enough for Windows 10 to write things there.  The minimum recommended size seems to be between 400-500MB, which is a tiny sliver out of a terabyte (or even 500GB) drive, all things considered.

I found another machine in the closet that I’d forgotten about; it’s another Atom-powered machine, but it’s a mini-ITX desktop with 4GB RAM.  It also upgraded nicely.  The interesting thing is that the motherboard is an Intel D525MW, suggesting that not ALL Intel motherboards aren’t supported.  On the other hand I think this one is a lot newer than the one I was trying to upgrade that failed.  This machine badly needs to be upgraded with an SSD, and I have an extra Intel 7260HMW wireless AC card I can put in it, too.  Hooray for miniPCIe slots on modern motherboards.

In the process of upgrading these older machines, I’m discovering lots of other things in Windows that can be safely disabled; I will probably make another post about that later.  Obviously I’m also getting rid of all the XBox shite.  There’s no use for it on these machines.  But there are other things that can be removed only by going into Powershell — see this link for example, which includes among other things instructions on how to rid yourself of the pesky XBox junk.

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* There has never been a Windows 8.x machine in this house. Just like there was never a Vista machine or an ME machine in this house.  Windows 11 is going to be a disaster, you know 🙂

** If you try to update one of these, or frankly any small computer/netbook that can’t be upgraded with a decent amount of RAM (at least 8GB is my modern recommendation — RAM is cheap), for $DEITY’s sake, at least turn off Cortana — what a CPU and memory sink, and you don’t need it because search will still work at the machine level.  You can use Google or Bing or DuckDuckGo for Internet search, you don’t need Cortana.

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