chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I'm going to cleanse my palate of irritation prior to heading south for The Big Turkey Dinner.

Irritating Thing #1 - The Clintons

So I voted for Hillary Clinton as the best politician on offer. But I did and do find some of her actions irritating. For example, the Right claims that when the Clintons moved out of the White House in 2000, they stole a bunch of furniture. Well, the truth is they didn't, but if you click the link you'll see it's not cut-and-dried.

And that's what irritates me about both of them, and what I think ended up costing Hillary the election. They run right up to the edge of impropriety, take a good look around, then stop just before the line. Not only that, they do so with high levels of secrecy. This then leaves their defenders making ponderous explanations.

Irritating Thing #2 - The "Roman" Salute

I also note that the various alt-right folks running out of the woodwork like cockroaches in the dark have taken to calling the good-old-fashioned "Heil Hitler" salute a "Roman" salute. Again, the salute's history is complicated (the tl;dr version is it ain't really Roman and it's got fascist fingerprints all over it) but all this wink-nod "Roman" crap ain't fooling nobody.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
So, audio tape of Donald Trump being an ass (or being Donald Trump, but that's redundant) was released. It reveals nothing new, but does pop Trumpishness into the minds of those voters who are just now turning their attention to the race.

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame (about whom I wrote here) is on vacation. Despite this, Scott decided to write a few hundred words on how this will actually help Trump, about whom Scott is 98% sure will win the election.

Scott says: That opens the door for Trump to attack in a proportionate way. No more mister-nice-guy. Gloves are off. Nothing is out of bounds. It is fair to assume that Bill and Hillary are about to experience the worst weeks of their lives.

To which I say:Are you smoking dope? How can Bill's infidelities be held against Hillary? How does a man on wife #3 attack a couple on marriage #1? Please proceed, Governor Mr. Trump.

Scott Says: I assume that 75% of male heads of state, including our own past presidents, are total dogs in their private lives. Like it or not, Trump is normal in that world.

To which I say: Wasn't Bill Clinton a head of state?

Scott says:But if the new battleground is spousal fidelity, you have to like Trump’s chances.

To which I say: Three divorces.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Periodically, in my wanderings on the Internet, I find myself asking what planet people are on. Today brings a bumper crop of these questions.

1) Donald "The Orange Rage" Trump posted several Tweets overnight about Alicia Machado. Now, here on Planet Earth (3rd rock from the sun), an overweight 70-year-old man with three wives, the most recent of which is younger than some of his children would (at least) shut up about Machado. He might even apologize. He would not launch a 3 ayem rant about her on Twitter. Talk about not being ready for the "3 AM phone call."

2) Related to the above, the commentary on several conservative sites has been "Hillary set Trump up." This may be true, but here on Planet Earth (3rd rock from the sun) if you know something's a setup you don't fall into the trap. Actually, that's true even on Admiral Ackbar's planet.

3) Over on the site ran by Wily E. Coyote, SuperGenius (tm) (just ask him, he'll tell you how smart he is) I see a lengthy post about how Trump "avoided the minefield of defeating Hillary Clinton in the first presidential debate." Spanking is involved. That may play on some planets, but here on Planet Earth (3rd rock from the sun) it's not.

4) Also on the Coyote's site, there's a long post about how the US couldn't impose a no-fly zone in Syria but how Hillary's supporters want us to. Here on Planet Earth (3rd rock from the sun) I see no real appetite for any expansion of our (modest) role in Syria.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Last night, for the second night in a row, the Trump campaign robocalled me. Both calls followed a very similar format. The call opened with a recording of Trump yelling one of his applause lines at a rally (audience background noise audible). Last night it was "law and order" and the night before it was "Hillary Rotten Clinton." Then, the recording switched to a man speaking with all the urgency of the guy on late-night TV selling Ginzu knives. He urged me to press one immediately to register my support and donate to help Trump.

WTF? Specifically:

1) I'm not a Republican. I've given money to Democrats, and anybody with any computer tech should have figured that out.

2) Illinois (my home state) is not in play. IIRC, last time we went for a Republican for President it was when Reagan was running.

3) Who exactly is this call supposed to persuade? I mean, couldn't Trump at least record a special message for me as opposed to recycled yelling in my ear?
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I have an IRA and a money market account with Vanguard. Over the past week, I've tried to add money to the IRA and write a check off of the money market account. Both transactions failed.

When I tried to add money to the IRA, Vanguard attempted to pull the cash from an account I don't have at a bank I don't use. When I wrote a check, Vanguard told me that they've stopped using those checks, and that my account did not have check writing features. I am not happy.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Waste not, want not, so I shan't waste this gem on an away game. Over at Simberg's Flying Circus, they ask why shouldn't every Tom, Dick, and Harry form a private militia and show up to help out at protests? Herewith, my answer:

Why not? Two reasons, tactical and conceptual.

The tactical reason is simple – how are the various militias and police supposed to decide who’s a “legitimate” militia and who’s a protester / rioter? What prevents the demonstrators in Ferguson from declaring themselves a militia?

Which leads to the conceptual. The US Constitution talks about one, singular militia, To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, …of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress (Article 1, Section 8). The Federalist Papers talk of one militia subdivided into state units.

The idea that there can only be one legitimate military force in a nation goes back to the Treaty of Westphalia (1648). It was a concept well understood at the drafting of the Constitution. Putting down private militias (usually under the control of nobles) had been the course of history for two centuries prior to our Revolution.

We have a name for places that have multiple private militias. We call them “failed states.” A place where any Tom, Dick, Abdul, Omar, or Harry can create their own militia leads to the situation we see in Somalia or Iraq. Hitler and Mussolini’s Brownshirts were both private militias.

The idea that people could and should volunteer to assist police is fine. The idea that the “Huey P. Newton Gun Club wants to march around Dallas protecting black citizens” is not.

The statement [from Simberg's linked article] ”For much of American history, no serious distinction drawn between the citizenry, the militia, the military, and the police” is completely historically inaccurate. When the sheriff needed extra manpower, the first thing he did was deputize, or make police out of, volunteers. The militia was an actual unit which held drills, had officers, and was organized.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I'm having some customer service issues, so herewith I shall complain about them.

Issue The First - Mozilla Thunderbird

Windows 8.1, in their infinite wisdom, decided not to bundle a POP-compliant email client with. So, I took a flyer and downloaded Mozilla Thunderbird. I was never very happy with the look and feel of it, and of late it's gotten to the point that I click to open and email and wait (literally) a minute or more for something to happen. So, I downloaded Windows Essentials and manually migrated my saved mail out of Thunderbird and into Live Mail.


Issue The Second - Science Fiction Book Club and Quality Paperback Book Club

I've been a member of these book clubs for years. When I moved from Villa Park to Darien, both clubs managed to botch my account, by sending books I didn't want to the wrong address or not sending books I wanted. Alas, neither club offers live-person customer service, and apparently has a hard time reading the letters I sent explaining their errors.

So I cancelled my membership in both clubs. Two months ago, and yet I am still getting catalogs from them. Today will be the sixth letter I've sent saying "please cancel me."
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I'll be on the road tomorrow, so have my thoughts today.

John C. Wright is upset at great length (so what else is new) about some snarky comments aimed at Bristol Palin after Palin's recent drunken brawl in Alaska. (This ADN article has a nice summary of the brawl.)

Basically, Bristol ended up punching a guy in the face repeatedly. This is not what her taped statement to police says (surprise, surprise), but even her statement is damning enough. Bristol says her sister Willow comes to Bristol in their limo and says she was pushed. Per police, all this is going down at 10:30 PM, and booze was involved.

Now, I reply to Mr. Wright that normal people would, in Bristol's situation, either pile on into the limo and leave and/or call the cops who get paid to deal with this crap. I also point out that Anchorage PD disagrees with Bristol's statement.

Wright's reply? You are despicable vermin for saying such a thing. How can you stand to live with yourself you dickless and lifeless little toad? How did you dare sign your name to this?

I have to say I've been called worse by better. I also have to say I find both the Palin and Wright response amusing. See, normal people, after they've sobered up from doing something stupid, say things like "gee, that was stupid of me." But people who nurture a strong sense of victim-hood can't do that, and so we get these spittle-flecked rants.

At any rate, I am reminded of Gerrib's Law of Bar Brawls. "Your best weapon in a bar brawl is your hat. Put it on and leave, preferably before fists and bottles fly."
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Everybody has at least one something that gets them very irritated, perhaps even irrationally so. In my case, one of those things is when somebody makes an argument that either ignores objective facts or attempts to use facts when they don’t exist. This is what I think drives me bugnuts about the “who’s the better-selling SF writer” or “fake New York Times bestseller list” kerfluffle.

See, if you tell me “I hate Jones’ writing with the passion of a thousand suns,” I’m okay with that statement. Tastes vary, and that’s a subjective statement. But if you tell me “Jones really didn’t sell all those books he claimed to have,” well, that’s an objective fact. Either he sold X number of books or he didn’t, and there exists an accounting of how many books were or were not sold.

What frustrates me further about this argument is we don’t know how many books Jones sold! There is no publicly-available data source that captures raw sales. Even the best available source, Neilsen Bookscan, only gets 70% of the market – and it’s not publicly available. So, there is absolutely no way for somebody to say Jones did or did not sell X books.

Another one of my buttons is claiming “fraud” or “lies.” This is I think because it’s the lazy man’s way out. “You’re lying!” or “that’s a fraud!” means that the speaker doesn’t have to actually address the claim at hand – they can dismiss it. Frequently these accusations are made with no facts (there’s that word again) offered in support of the accusation. So it’s a two-fer – slander and ignorant of the facts.

Facts matter. You can't run a society without facts.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Generally, when one says "we'll have to agree to disagree" that's a signal to politely disengage from a conversation. In an online forum, that's the clue to walk away from the keyboard. It's not an invite to post two more replies snarkily announcing that "I am waiting for you to make your case on point X." It's especially irritating if in fact one has already made their case on point X.

More to the general point, arguments on the Internet may not be winnable. After both sides have repeated their points for a couple of times, further discussion adds no value. Or, shorter:

duty_calls
chris_gerrib: (Me)
So, I'm sitting at my desk yesterday and the phone rings. I answer it (that's what you normally do when a phone rings, right?) On the other end, some guy in a loud and hearty voice (think "friendly carnival barker") asks me how I'm doing.

Me: Fine.
Him: Great! Every day closer to the weekend is a good one!
Me: Sure.
Him: I understand you order the printing and toner supplies there. Is that right?
Me: Well, yes.
Him: Great! For every order you place today you get your choice of a Kindle Fire or a camera. (empahsis and italics in his spiel)
Me: no thanks, we're not ordering today.
Him: Well, I understand that, and that's why I'm calling. For every order you place today, you get a Kindle Fire or a camera.

WTF, dude? Did you not hear me? I'm not ordering anything! I say so, nicely, and he repeats the same offer! I end up hanging up on him in mid-pitch.

Then, the same guy calls me again today! (Just now, in fact.) He launches the exact same spiel and I say "didn't we talk yesterday?"

"No, I don't think so," he replies, and makes the same "order and get a Kindle" pitch.

After we go through the same dialog above (I swear to God, the same!) I end up hanging up on him.

In what universe does this shit work?
chris_gerrib: (Me)
So, despite specific language in the Constitution to the contrary, Congress does not have the right to draft legislation enforcing the right to vote. But, despite the words "gay" or "homosexual" not even appearing in the Constitution, Congress ALSO doesn't have the right to pass legislation governing what is recognized as a marriage?

Look, I'm really fine with gay marriage. I really am. But damn it, the Supreme Court is supposed to make decisions based on the Constitution, not on whatever makes them feel good. We did not elect the Supreme Court to be some kind of super-legislature.

Given this one-two punch, it's hard to see them as anything BUT an un-elected legislature.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
WTF Moment #1

I put an offer on a house. No counter for a week, because "the owner is traveling in China." My realtor sends a note - "counter or accept by Friday (today) or we move on."

I am shocked, shocked I tell you to get an immediate counter-offer. I am baffled to see that the counter-offer is higher than the list price for another identical unit in the same complex! Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?

We put in a "best and final" offer for him to stew over. Quickly.

WTF Moment #2

So, in regards to yesterday's "don't call me a racist, you inferior being you!" post, there have been a number of calls to kick the offending party out of SFWA. To which the offending party, a self-described libertarian, is threatening to sue. He doesn't feel he can be kicked out for "thoughtcrimes."

Hello, McFly - SFWA is a private organization! Under libertarian theory and current law, they can kick out anybody they want to! The First Amendment does not apply to private organizations, only governments. And even if McFly could find a judge who could keep a straight face long enough to hear the case, the remedy won't be a large cash settlement. The remedy offered would be for SFWA to reinstate him.

WTF Moment #3

Via Dave O'Neill [livejournal.com profile] daveon, I read that McFly above is, like many libertarians, a goldbug. I suppose gold makes a better commodity to use for money than, say pork bellies, since the later can spoil, but gold is just a commodity. Like any other commodity, its price fluctuates up and down for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to people finding new ore deposits.

In fact, part of the reason we had long-term deflation in the 1880s and 1890s is that the gold supply kept increasing as new deposits and new extraction technologies came online. But then libertarians like all true believers seem to have an amazing ability to ignore inconvenient facts.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Just, spitballing here (said in my best Jack Nicholson voice) but saying "don't call me a racist" in the same post as you say "it is not that I, and others, do not view her as human, (although genetic science presently suggests that we are not equally homo sapiens sapiens), it is that we simply do not view her as being fully civilized for the obvious historical reason that she is not" is perhaps, a less-than-optimal argument strategy.

(Context here. Be warned - not for the weak of stomach, and you may need to take a shower after reading.)
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Like everybody else, I've been watching the Carnival Triumph fiasco. Speaking as a former Navy man, the whole thing looks like a Charlie Foxtrot of the first order.

Now, granted my ship experience is based on warships, which are designed with an eye towards the idea that somebody just might take a potshot at them. However, I was struck with the truly horrible lack of redundancy on Triumph. Per the link above, Triumph is a diesel-electric ship, and has six generators. The only way a fire would result in the loss of all generators is for them to all be in the same space!

If that sounds like a stupid idea, well it is. You'd ideally want six generators in three compartments, two to a compartment, or at least two compartments of three each, allowing split-plant operations. Obviously, the decision was made to spend more money on the Lido deck then on the engineering plant. Carnival can get away with this because her ships aren't registered in the US. This allows them to avoid paying US taxes and meeting US regulations.

The second area of foxtrot-ishness is Carnival's response. The ship was stricken within 200 miles of Progresso, Mexico. One would think you'd tow her there. Now, granted, there were 900 passengers not traveling with US passports (moral of the story, kids - leaving the country = get a passport) but you could surely make arrangements to get them back separately. But then Carnival decided to ignore Progresso, and even more curiously not go back to Houston, from whence she sailed, to offload passengers. No, they towed her to Mobile (presumably to start repairs at Alabama Docks) with passengers aboard! And then they decided to bus the passengers to New Orleans!

At any rate, Carnival has bought itself another week of bad PR, and 3,500 people who are going to be dining out for the next year on their stories of surviving a cruise.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
So, as discussed yesterday, various conservative sources are running around with their hair on fire screaming that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the guy who made the anti-Islam film, is some kind of hero of the First Amendment. Well, besides the fact that the guy is a twice-convicted felon, various sources, including one of the actresses involved in the movie, clearly state that somebody (presumably Nakoula, whom the actress met) overdubbed and radically changed their lines from innocuous to slanderous. In short, from the git-go, this whole "film" was a fraud!

But, he's apparently "our" fraud, so we can't even question him about a possible parole violation.

We're also told that George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Travyon Martin, is clearly justified in his actions. The fact that, prior to Zimmerman inserting himself into the situation, Martin was doing nothing more dangerous than walking while on a cell phone is completely irrelevant. Of course Martin must have launched a completely unprovoked attack on a man his size in a cold rain. Zimmerman says so, and we must believe him.

Not only that, but we must believe that, because Martin apparently had smoked some dope at some point in the past couple of months, Martin was a dangerous dude. But Nakoula, a man convicted of cooking meth is simply a misunderstood person exercising his right to free speech. Martin should have stopped and quietly submitted to any questions put to him by any random dude in the neighborhood, while to ask who exactly paid Nakoula the 100 grand (or whatever money was actually spent on the movie) and why is grounds for a President to resign.

In short, I am amazed at who the Right picks to be their heroes, and what criterion are used to make that decision. I am amazed, but the choices are not inconsistent. They are in fact very consistent.

Nakoula is a hero because he said mean things about Islam. This supports a "bomb them all, God will know his own" mindset. The fact that his video was used as cover to kill Americans, and may have been paid for by people looking for cover to kill Americans, doesn't count. Zimmerman is a hero because he was busily keeping his block safe from the "bad people." The fact that Martin wasn't particularly bad doesn't count.

It seems that many in the Right are a bunch of 15-year-olds bummed that they can't get a tattoo on their ass and run off to Vegas for the weekend with Daddy's credit card. The Republicans are becoming the Beavis and Butt-head Party. They wonder why people aren't willing to vote for them.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
I occasionally read Jordan Bassior [livejournal.com profile] jordan179's LiveJournal. I say "occasionally" because I rarely agree with what he says. Even more rarely, I'll comment on his posts, usually when I think he's gotten his facts wrong.

Well, I now have been informed that I've been banned from commenting on his site. The hell of it is, I was banned because of what somebody else said of Jordan! What is this, junior high school?

Since I've been asked to leave the Cool Kids' Table, I shall. And no, Jordan, you don't get to sit at my table, or comment on my posts.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
So, we were going to go live with my Big Idea piece today, but when John Scalzi checked Amazon at 6:00 AM, the book was still not for sale, just pre-order. This status changed sometime between 7:15 AM CST and 9:00 AM CST. But since John had other things to do, we're pushing the Big Idea one more time, to tomorrow.

So, you get Friday's post today. It's been a bad couple of weeks for the Costa cruise line. First Concordia sank, now another ship, the Costa Allegra was towed into the Seychelles after a fire in the generator room. The ship lacked all power for some three days, and according to the some reports, the line even had to airlift a generator in to keep the radios working.

Whisky Tango Foxtrot? I understand that the Allegra, built in 1969, is no warship, but my highly civilian bank in the middle of the metro Chicago area has an emergency generator, powerful enough to keep critical functions alive. You would think that a cruise ship operating in the middle of nowhere would have a similar system. Apparently you would be wrong.

ETA: Apparently, Allegra did have an emergency generator. It didn't start. Costa really needs to have a fleet-wide safety stand down.

In what's partially a case of MSM piling on, the Chicago Tribune ran an article noting that cruise lines structure their tickets to avoid having to compensate passengers. This is, of course, perfectly good business practice, but it's exactly the sort of good business practice that ends up screwing customers. Don't get me wrong - cruises can be fun and I enjoyed the one I took. However, like most things in life, they are not risk-free.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Apparently my plan to show travel photos keeps getting overcome by events. Oh well. Here are two "WTF?" moments for your consideration.

Plot to Assassinate Saudi Ambassador

So, you've probably heard of the plot to blow up a restaurant in Washington, DC while the Saudi Ambassador was having dinner in it. What baffled me and many analysts was why Iran was so clumsy about it. I mean, wire $100,000 to a used-car salesman in Texas so he can hire a Mexican cartel to pull off a hit in DC? How stupid can you be?

Then it came to me - this plot was supposed to fail! What was (is) supposed to happen is that the US retaliates militarily, thus putting an end to the street protests. If that doesn't happen, the Quds force has at least, for the low-low cost of $100,000, seriously weakened Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Herman Cain's 999 Tax Plan

So, certain bloggers of my acquaintance argued that Obama wanted to surtax millionaires, even if this pushed unprofitable businesses into bankruptcy. Well, guess what - that's exactly what Herman Cain's 999 Plan does. See, it's explicitly a tax on gross income! The 9% on business is "Gross income less all investments, all purchases from other businesses and all dividends paid to shareholders." Notably excluded? Wages paid to employees.

Also notable is that, per verbal statements made yesterday by Cain (I saw the tape), he would allow businesses to deduct new equipment purchases from their 9% corporate income tax, as long as the goods were U.S.-made. Except, when asked if a computer assembled in the US from foreign components was US-made, he said he had "no idea." What about fuel - half our fuel comes from overseas - do airlines, for example, get to deduct fuel? I think he needs to put this pizza back in the oven for a while.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
So, I was going to talk about Sheri Tepper's The Gates To Women's Country, but stuff came up. So, have some random thoughts.

Random Thought #1

So, what irritates me about posts like this one at Simberg's Flying Circus is the sheer ignorance of basic facts exhibited therein. For example, the post talks about DDT being banned for anti-malaria use (it's not) and (in comments) how not using DDT against bed bugs led to their resurgence. Well, bed bugs are immune to DDT, and have been for decades.

Regarding the article's headline (global warming "hoax"), somebody forgot to tell Arctic sea ice. It will be below average again, and the last five summers are the five minimum ice extent summers on record.

Random Thought #2

Those of us who support Microsoft-centric networks at work have all kinds of weird issues to deal with. For us at work, Windows 7 had had a tendency to not allow users to print. It appears that Windows likes to change registry keys, thus making calls to .dll files that don't exist. This post explains that in great detail. Of course, from this seven-page screed on a Microsoft site, one would think that Microsoft would actually, you know, fix the problem!

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