Category Archive: General Curmudgeonry

That good old word doesn’t mean what it used to.

From Facebook, where an idiot tries to conflate Nazis and modern conservatives by stating as apparent fact

Nonetheless, in the early 20th century, Nazis and Communists loathed each other, and Naziism [sic] was almost universally perceived in Europe to be a far right movement.

The party included both some conservative figures (or so they proclaimed themselves) such as Himmler although Goebbels was more lefty.

Hitler did not consider himself to be either conservative or liberal.

Most historians still treat Naziism [sic] as ultra-far-right, and Communism as ultra-far-left.

This is so wrong, it makes me weep.

The main problem with calling Nazis conservative in the 21st century — or even in the last half of the 20th century — is that the definition of conservative has changed since the Nazis were defeated in 1945.

We on the right used to be known as liberals, because we were about liberal (small, freedom-oriented) government that preserved the rights of the people. The progressive socialists appropriated that good old term back in the ’50s and turned it into a by-word for government overreach and the subjugation of personal liberties into a welfare state where everyone would be equally poor (except for the elites at the top).

If a conservative today reads Hayek, for example, he can easily become confused because Hayek constantly refers to “liberals” and “liberal government”. That’s because Hayek was writing on the very cusp of the definitional change, when those who believed in small government, widely-defined rights, and personal freedom were still considered “liberal”.

Nazis, in their day, might well have been considered “conservative” because conservatives in their day were generally the people who opposed progress and preferred limited freedoms and rights for the masses. Conservatism meant “we don’t want change”, and for Nazis, all of the changes made since the First World War — particularly the secularization of the Jewish population and its integration into German society — were unacceptable changes. Thus the reaction, when Weimar finally failed, was to blame everything on those changes, and ultimately on the Jews.

Unfortunately, it is far too late for classical Hayekian liberals (whom we today call conservatives) to reclaim that noble word “liberal” from the progressives who have turned it into little more than a watchword for oppression.

It’s still morning in America.

So, this morning, if you’re a Democrat, feel free to rejoice…but in reality, you haven’t won anything tangible, so your celebration will ring sort of hollow.

The silver lining for the GOP in the ‘Crats taking the House is that they’ve now firmly gridlocked the system. They won’t be able to impeach Trump, won’t be able to expand Obamacare, won’t be able to raise taxes, and otherwise absolutely nothing of consequence will get done by Congress for the next two years. Because if you think 52 (and probably 54, by the time the counting is done; Tester looks done in Montana, and anyone with sense didn’t vote for Sinema in Arizona) GOP senators will vote for any of that in the current climate, you’ve got another think coming.

Oh, and? Remember, confirmation of judicial appointments doesn’t involve the House. Whee! Cocaine Mitch has got a big smile on his face, this morning.

All in all, I’d have preferred the GOP to keep the House, but this is the least bad of all other outcomes. And the senile Pelosi will make the ‘Crats continue to look worse and worse, with former bartender Alexandria Occasional-Cortex continuing to write checks with her mouth that her party can’t cash. Rush Limbaugh’s old rule of thumb may be wrong — Democrats may actually be funnier in power than they are out of power, at least in this cycle.

Blue wave? LOL. Blue ripple. Trump smiles. So do I. Now if we can just get that pesky 17th Amendment repealed…

I’d sell off tech, too.

If I owned tech stocks (I mean, outside of my 401(k), where I don’t have granular control over what the fund managers include in their portfolios), I’d be selling, right now.  Or frankly, would have been selling last month.

The WSJ has an editorial this morning talking about overheated tech stock prices, mentioning things like Amazon trading for 160 times earnings, blah de blah de blah.  They then say, “But what makes this month’s tech sale so jarring is that it comes amid strong quarterly earnings growth.”

Nah, not jarring at all, if you think about it.

It’s clear that the tech giants are not only due for a correction, but to be broken up like the monopolies they are.  There is great danger in someone like Google (or Alphabet, whatever) controlling the vast majority of search.  Facebook has long shown that it can’t be trusted with users’ information (and is a crap platform to begin with).  Nearly all of the big tech giants are doing really creepy things when it comes to privacy and censorship — and it’s time for that crap to stop.  Only Apple, of all companies, seems to take privacy seriously and is actually working actively to preserve it for its users.

Amazon, well, I dunno — Amazon is so diversified and allows so many small businesses to use its portal that I’m not sure it’s actually a danger to anything but your local big box department store.  It will never really be a danger to the corner grocery because nobody wants to wait two days to get a quart of milk or a pound of butter when they’re out of them.  And while it may be responsible for local small booksellers for closing their doors, I suspect most such booksellers were living on the ragged edge of disaster anyway, in a world that has gone head-over-heels for ebooks.  Again, the booksellers really being killed by Amazon are more likely big-boxes like Borders (dead) and Barnes and Noble (dying).  But Amazon is really another story for another post, because Amazon isn’t acting as a gatekeeper of information the way Google and Facebook are.  Amazon carries a lot of books and publications that probably horrify the censorship staff at Google and Facebook, for one thing.  And who is truly evil, if that’s the case?

No, I suspect the smart investors are getting out of tech because they see the beginning of the end for the large monopolistic conglomerates.  If there is a better predictor that the GOP will hold onto Congress next week, I don’t know what it would be.  Because if the GOP really does hold onto Congress, there’s a really good chance that Trump will be able to set some monopoly-busting into motion.  And I submit that’s good for the economy and the country in the long run.

Seems appropriate

but if I posted this on Facebook, everyone including my wife would be pissed at me.

Well, except for the conservatives, I guess.

Happy Halloween!

Things that go without saying don’t always…go without saying.

Wife says she heard DT say how awful it was that the folks in the Pittsburgh synagogue were killed and in almost the same breath added that if they’d had armed security present, that wouldn’t have happened.

This upset her greatly, even though it’s 100% true that 11 people probably wouldn’t have died if there’d been armed security present.  The juxtaposition of the two thoughts were what set her off.  I guess I didn’t help when I said, “Well, he’s right, you know.”

Of course, I can’t find a tweet to that effect (and I would have assumed it would have been a tweet), so I have no fucking clue whether she heard it, saw it, or if it was a fake tweet, or some idiot reporter simply ran the two thoughts together in a news article/live standup (my suspicion is running toward the latter at the moment).  All I see on his feed (and please note that I started writing this at about 5:45 and just now got back to it several paragraphs down) is these four tweets:

This is not a guy who says, “So sorry that so many died, but y’all brought this on yourselves.”  So either a tweet was edited/deleted, a quote was taken out of context, or a reporter/network is/are a fuckwad.  Again, still thinking the latter.

But the takeaway is still the same as it is every fucking time one of these active shooter situations happens:  Damn shame someone there didn’t have a gun.  The difference is that apparently Trump had the balls to say so and not mince words.

Yet, my pacifist liberal wife said “violence doesn’t stop violence.”

Unfortunately (or, in my mind, fortunately), that’s not true.  Violence (or at least the threat of it) does indeed stop violence.  We see it all the time in armed citizen actions.

To argue that you shouldn’t need armed security or shouldn’t need to carry a weapon if you’re a law-abiding civilian is to simply ignore the constant threats being spewed by extremists both left and right — and if you’re a Jew, the threat level is even higher due to the rising tide of anti-Semitism that’s starting to crest in this country — both no thanks to our Democratic/Progressive “friends”.  And in point of fact, anti-Semitism can cause collateral damage to people like Freemasons, and Catholics, and any other civic or religious group the nutbag conspiracy theorists think is the devil du jour.

Gun-free zones multiply the problem because the black hats know nobody will be shooting back.  And if you don’t think that synagogue was a gun-free zone, you don’t know American Jews very well.

Look, we had this argument a couple of years ago in Masonry when a Masonic Center in Milwaukee was the target of an attack by a would-be jihadi who made the mistake of conspiring with FBI undercover agents to purchase weapons.  The general consensus was that you have to secure the building from invasion in the first place.  Once the black hats get into the building, you’re toast, whether all your members are carrying or none of them are, and anywhere in between.  The element of surprise means that a lot of people are going to die before a white hat manages to draw down and actually shoot the perp, and that assumes the white hat isn’t going to actually end up shooting one of his own people in the process.  In particular, a lodge room full of Masons is laid out in such a way that command of the doorway leading in probably means most everyone inside will take a bullet.

The same is true of a church or synagogue sanctuary, possibly even more so because (usually) everyone will be facing away from the entrance rather than seated at right angles to it.

So our consensus jelled around the idea that nobody should be able to get into the building in the first place.  Outer doors should be secured, entry granted only by positive identification with full camera surveillance of the entry, members who are also law enforcement or ex-law enforcement detailed to keep an eye on things inside and out during meetings, and arranging for local on-duty law enforcement to drive through the property two or three times during the evening.  We considered but tossed the idea of an actual professional armed security guard because most lodges don’t have the money to pay for that every meeting.

Larger buildings with more membership presence or that rent space for outside events are another story; the money is probably there (indeed it should be figured into rentals) and the need for professional security ratchets up with the profile of both the building and the event.

In the present case, I think it was idiotic for the synagogue not to have armed security present, but even more insane to have not considered what proactive steps it could have taken to prevent the shooter from getting into the building in the first place that might not have even required armed security.  It seems clear that none of this sort of planning happened or I’d think the doors would have been locked at the very minimum.  If this synagogue did have active shooter planning, it must have been of the pie-in-the-sky sort (“it could never really happen here”).  That may be harsh, but look what happened, and it seems fair to me to place blame squarely on the leadership.

Things are coming to a head in this country with regard to political violence (as I have written before) and anyone who isn’t thinking about how to secure events against active shooters is deluding themselves.  Religious institutions aren’t going to get anymore of a pass than civic institutions have been getting.  As General Mattis recommends, they need to “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet”.

More to the point, they need to remember that God helps those who help themselves.

Now that Fauxcohantas has learned the First Rule of Holes…

Well, she probably hasn’t, in all fairness.  But no question that she left herself open to some pretty harsh ridicule with that DNA test, that proved she might have even less American Indian DNA than the average white European.  Trying to double down on what she claimed was Trump’s offer of a million bucks if she’d get a DNA test and prove she was a Native American sort of backfired, too, since it’s hard to say if he really made that offer or if he was just slinging shit at a political rally.  And on top of that, the Cherokee Nation pretty much shut her down, too.

The DNA tests you can buy these days are pretty much a load of crap, anyway.  They’re insufficient data to make a determination that you’re something you didn’t know you were, like the guy on the Ancestry ads who thought he was German all his life till he took a DNA test, and now he’s Scottish.  Sigh.  Dude, I joined the Scottish Rite, but not because either it or I am Scottish.*  And I drink Scotch, too, but doesn’t everybody?

We’re all related to each other, one way or another, possibly because 70ky ago after an extinction-level event, the human race was reduced to about 40 breeding-age females. So no matter where we come from, all of our DNA goes back to those 40 women and whatever men were left (could have been any number from 1 to whatever). As a species, we’re inbred as hell, so no big surprise that we share DNA bits with people from all over the world.

I’ll note that recent research has cast some doubt on the near-extinction I’ve mentioned above, but even without such an event, we’re still all related all the way back to the first hominids who could be called Homo Sapiens, and probably farther back than that, since we all have some Neanderthal and Denisovian DNA, and who knows what else.**  Again, not a shock that certain DNA bits from people who came out of Africa, turned right toward the Asian steppe, and crossed the Bering land bridge to North America during the last Ice Age can also be found in people who hung a left and migrated to Europe.

And we don’t even really know what a lot of DNA even does.  A lot of it seems to be dormant in most people.  Certainly we know that certain human aspects and congenital diseases are linked to certain bits of DNA.  But we don’t know a lot more than we do know, and unlike Donald Rumsfeld, we don’t even have a real handle on what we don’t know about DNA.

The bottom line, though, is that DNA isn’t culture.  DNA isn’t what you were brought up believing.  DNA isn’t the sum total of your life experience and that of your ancestors.  And that’s why, even without a DNA test, Elizabeth Warren’s claim to be some tiny bit of Cherokee Indian based on a story that one of her great-great-great-grandmothers had Native American blood fails the laugh test.

Hell, what American family that’s been on American soil for the last few centuries hasn’t had a similar story run through their family history?  Mine did.  And I disproved it; my Native American ancestor wasn’t Native American at all, she was Scottish, and she most likely did the boogie out of Scotland to Paris after Argyll’s Rising in 1685, because she was the eldest daughter of the 9th Earl who lost his head in that Rising.  (And she was my 8th great grandmother, so holy shit, I’m not even as Scottish as Fauxy thinks she’s Native American.)

Her husband, on the other hand, was French; and we always knew that.  Damn it.

On top of that, I claim to be Russian (or really, it would be Ukrainian, these days) based on the fact that my mother’s father’s father came from Kiev (says so on his naturalization papers).  But they were Jews, and there’s a really good chance that they came from Spain when Ferdinand and Isabella booted the Spanish Jews in 1492.  But who knows?  So I don’t claim to be Spanish, even though that’s a closer relationship — three generations vs. ten for the Scots.

In the end, I’m no more German, Austrian, Russian, Scots, or French than I am simply American.  I have little or nothing in common with the people who live in those places today, even if I’m distantly related to them.  The 23 chromosome pairs that make up that bit of protein we call DNA don’t dictate a thing about who we really are.

And that’s a lesson someone like Elizabeth Warren ought to have figured out long before now.


Though if you read down to the bottom of this, you’ll find, like Fauxy is maybe a wee bit Native American, that I am in fact just a wee bit Scottish.  But I didn’t find that out with a DNA test, and didn’t know it when I joined the Rite.

** Proof, if you needed it, that H. Sap. will fuck anything.

Legit LOLed.


Why do the heathen rage?

Mostly it’s because they can’t quit Donald Trump.

And what I mean by that is, the left screams its head off every time Donald Trump says something, does something, or tweets something.  Trump has a press conference?  REEEEEEEEE.  Trump nominates a Supreme Court justice?  REEEEEEEEE.  Trump tweets?  REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

I think back to the last president I actually paid any attention to, and it had to be Reagan.  I’d tune in to presidential press conferences and addresses to the nation and even the State of the Union because I loved hearing that voice — cultured, sonorous, measured, intelligent — and even more loved hearing what that voice was saying.

Bush 41 was a wannabe in Reagan’s shoes, Clinton was a good ol’ boy redneck hack, Bush 43 was a nice guy and said a lot of good things but in the end was ineffective, and Obama was a commie who hated America.  Not much to listen to with any of those guys; I could get the gist from the conservative commentators in places like National Review and The American Spectator (before both magazines went down the toilet).

But the bottom line was I never paid much attention to what they actually said, didn’t watch or listen to them say it, and so far as I was concerned they were generally just words on a page to me because they weren’t saying anything I really wanted to hear.

The proggie left, though, apparently spends a lot of its time watching, listening, and reading everything Donald Trump has to say or otherwise express, and it makes them absolutely go REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!  And then they do stupid things, like beat up Republicans, run Republicans out of restaurants, throw bricks through the local GOP committee’s windows, run conservative speakers off campus, and (of all stupid things) block traffic on busy interstates with their bodies.  (Glenn Reynolds was 100% correct when he tweeted, “Run them down.”)

Oh, and running through Washington, DC, on Inauguration Day, vandalizing the hell out of things and then being surprised when they find out that in doing so, they’ve committed actual federal crimes with some serious jail time attached — and the local federal judges aren’t particularly interested in letting them off the hook, although most of them did end up having charges dropped for insufficient evidence.

I’m not one to make with advice to progs very often, but folks, you’d be a lot calmer and cooler-headed (and a lot more likely to influence the undecided and win elections) if you’d follow one simple rule:  Pay no attention to Donald Trump.

But far be it from me to correct the enemy when he’s making a mistake.

Facebook fucks up, but you don’t have to change your password.

Key takeaway from the recent Facebook hack that resulted in many users being logged out: The hackers never cracked any passwords in the hack. They only exploited a flaw in how Facebook’s access tokens were implemented. Access tokens are supposed to be created AFTER you log in successfully, and allow you to be logged in automatically every time you open Facebook (or whatever other site you might be using that has the same type of feature).

Properly-created access tokens by their very nature cannot be decrypted to discover the password used for the login that created them. An article at 9 To 5 Mac makes it clear that you do NOT have to change your password. Logging out and logging in again clears your previous access token and creates a new one, which is why Facebook simply logged people out to prevent further exploitation of their existing access tokens.

Most if not all sites that allow you to store a cookie in your browser that lets you log in automatically do essentially the same thing. Facebook’s vulnerability appears to have stemmed from multiple coding mistakes (“This attack exploited the complex interaction of multiple issues in our code”) that caused an exploitable regression IF you knew the vulnerability existed AND were able to figure out how to exploit it to obtain access tokens for other accounts.

If you feel more comfortable changing your password, certainly you should do so; but again, no passwords were cracked in this hack, and a simple logout/login is sufficient to create a new, unique access token.

One significant result of this hack is it was made crystal-clear that being lazy and using the “Login Using Facebook” feature available on many third-party sites effectively exposed all those logins, too.  I’ve never used that feature and now I certainly never will.


UK supreme court backs bakery that refused to make gay marriage cake

A Belfast bakery run by evangelical Christians was not obliged to make a cake emblazoned with the message “support gay marriage”, the supreme court has ruled, overturning a £500 damages award imposed on it.

The unanimous decision by the UK’s highest court was greeted as a victory for free speech but condemned by gay rights groups and the Equality Commission of Northern Ireland as a backward step in combating discrimination.

Of all places, the UK.  And of all newspapers, the Guardian.

Freedom of expression, as guaranteed by article 10 of the European convention on human rights, includes the right “not to express an opinion which one does not hold”, [Justice and Supreme Court President Lady Brenda] Hale added. “This court has held that nobody should be forced to have or express a political opinion in which he does not believe,” she said.

“The bakers could not refuse to supply their goods to Mr Lee because he was a gay man or supported gay marriage, but that is quite different from obliging them to supply a cake iced with a message with which they profoundly disagreed.”

How about that.  Note that this is pretty much the same conclusion the US Supreme Court reached in the recent Masterpiece Cakeshop decision.  It seems pretty cut and dried to me; the concept of free speech dictates that you can’t force me to agree with you, which extends to forcing me to produce something that makes it appear that I do agree with you.  Yet the dingbat who brought the case seems unable to process that simple concept:

After the ruling, Lee said: “I’m very confused about what this actually means. We need certainty when you go to a business. I’m concerned that this has implications for myself and for every single person.”

Well, if you really want certainty, businesses could go back to posting signs like “NO DOGS OR IRISH”, but that would be rude.  But what it means, Mr. Lee, is that you can’t walk into a business and expect that business to cheerfully create art for you that goes against their personal beliefs, regardless of whether or not you believe that should be the case.  Nobody went out and made you king of the world because you happen to be gay, just like nobody goes out and makes someone king of the world because they’re Christian, or female, or black or white or whatever.  And since you aren’t king of the world, you can fuck off; and you’ve now been told that by the highest court in the UK.  Do you really want to take it all the way to the EU?  Is it really worth it?  Think carefully before replying.

As in the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, I’m going to guess that the folks at Ashers had no problem selling you anything pre-made out of their inventory — the only thing they refused to do was decorate a cake in a particular way that offended their beliefs.  And instead of politely declining their offer, and finding another cake shop that would do what you wanted, you got all huffy and filed suit.

One would almost think this was really a setup, just like the Masterpiece Cakeshop kerfuffle was.  Hasn’t anyone made it clear yet that the rest of the world is really sick and tired of this sort of confrontational bullshit?

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