Category Archives: geek stuff

🙄

so, i decided to reposition major furniture in my office, to achieve the following results:

  1. i have to figure out how my studio is set up. i originally set it up to use with the piano/synthesizer setup, and i seem to recall doing at least one piece of music in that configuration… and then i set it up some other way, which i don’t remember, and now everything is mixed up and i can’t figure it out, because all of the connections are on the back of the devices, and in order to access the back of the amplifier, i have to move the printer, and stand on a stool, while leaning over the printer, and accessing the back upside down… which isn’t ideal. what i need is the back of everything to be as easily accessible as the front, which means moving stuff around.
  2. in the process of trying to figure out how the studio stuff was hooked up, i thought i had completely disconnected every audio connection from my computer to the amplifier… and yet, i seem to be able to play music from my computer, and hear the sound through the speakers… which would seem to indicate that there is a new/different/as-yet-undiscovered audio connection that i have overlooked somehow… (possibly the HDMI connection from the monitor, but how does it get to the amplifier??? 😕) but, unfortunately, the cables from the computer to the amplifier are accessed from the back, AND under my desk… which is REALLY not ideal… i’ve got to figure that out.

this may involve a trip to ikea and possibly a new desk, as the one that i have is a repurposed ikea table.

the reason i want to figure out how my studio works (again), is because i have recently discovered jamulus, which appears to be an audio interface that is designed to be used over internet. i realise that there’s some pretty hard physical constants that make audio connections… let’s say difficult… over long distances, but, apparently, distances less than 50 miles or so the latency is tolerable, and they get around the rest of it, sketchily, by having everyone listen to the server, and not the actual sound coming out of your instrument, and… well, i haven’t been able to busk the past couple of weeks (HVAC stuff), and i’ve been going nuts, because there are new songs that we’ve been talking about, but we can’t get together and rehearse because i have to be at home to let the workers in… and now i’ve got jamulus installed, and (apparently) working… all i have to do is hook up a microphone, which i do, but… no sound… and thus began the task of figuring out how the studio is set up.

there’s another thing i tried to get set up, but couldn’t, because of a lack of installation instructions. JamStud.io actually advertises “jam online without latency”, despite the fact that, as far as i know, scientists are still stymied by the speed of light 😉 which makes it impossible to have an audio connection without more and more latency as the distance increases… but, hey… if i could get it installed, i might be using that, instead.

You thought you bought software – all you bought was a lie

THIS!

exactly, all of THIS!

this is PRECISELY the reason i prefer to use FOSS whenever possible!

i AM one of those “1990s Linux proponents” although i didn’t start using linux on my own computers until 2000 — the last version of windows i installed was W2K server. before that time, i was predominantly a mac-head. i tested windoesn’t software (testing windows is easy, because there are plenty of bugs to be found), and used linux (and unix) at work for years, but i used macs for everything else… while i was building up the courage to switch to linux on my own machine. 😉

Continue reading You thought you bought software – all you bought was a lie

now that’s what i’m talkin’ ’bout!

i made the jump from kubuntu 18.04 to kubuntu 20.04 today, and it went smoother than i had ever hoped, in my wildest imagination… 😎

i’ve been slowly configuring the computer for about a month now, and i finally found an old debian CD that had the .deb file for sigrot, which i installed this morning… and that’s pretty much the last thing that i had to install from external sources.

my old .deb file for sigrot went away with the old cloud drive data, and they discontinued it around 2000, so it’s “no longer available”… but it turns out that i can purchase install CDs for old versions of debian from LinuxCollections dot com — apparently the modern version of CheapBytes dot com, which went out of business a while ago 😢 oh well… — and it turns out that the versions of debian called “slink” and “potato” have the most up to date version, and it works perfectly well on kubuntu 20.04…

and why wouldn’t it? ‼⁉ it’s a tiny little application that only interacts with plaintext files that I provide, and it only makes a .signature file, so it’s not relying on system calls or hardware requirements… why they would have discontinued it is beyond me… apart from the fact that, i’m fairly sure, nobody but me even uses a .signature file, these days… 😈

i already had to install gucharmap, because no KDE-based character map works as well for what i do, and i’ve also installed the “Deep Connections” gramplet in the new version of GRAMPS, which is A LOT easier than it has been in previous versions. i’m fairly sure that there will be other things that i will install as i use the machine more, but i’ve got the old machine set up next to me, and i can use its configuration as an example when i need to.

at this point, the system looks good, and the minor tweaks that it needs will get done when they come up, because this is good. 😉

but this is, far and away, the easiest complete system upgrade i have ever experienced. THIS is the way it SHOULD happen, ALL THE TIME!! 😁👍👍

also, i finally got a mouse whose third button works the way it’s supposed to, which means that, now, i have to UNLEARN the “copy-and-paste” gesture that i have been forced to use, because the old mouse had a third button that didn’t work consistently. new computers that work the way they’re supposed to, ROCK!!

goo dot gl 😒

goo dot gl URL redirect QR code
goo dot gl URL redirect QR code
a few years ago, i got a QR code from google, attached to their URL-forwarder at goo dot gl, that resolved to वृत्तिः from “Unknown Album”, which i promptly had made into a sticker, which i have been sticking to various different things, and handing to strangers i meet on the street, for a few years now.

i INTENDED to use goo dot gl’s analytics to determine how many people had hit the link, and where they were located. apparently that was only a SMALL FRACTION of the information i could receive from the QR code.

what i didn’t know is that they shut down their URL-forwarder at goo dot gl in 2018 and i only JUST found out about it.

fortunately the QR code, and the URL-forwarder continue to work, but…

goddam it, gewgel… when you stop using something important, you should make it somewhat more obvious. 😒

now, admittedly, i INTENDED to use the goo dot gl analytics, but i only logged in to see what was happening for the first time, today, so i really was NOT paying attention, but still… you would think that a company as big as the big G could be a little more public about things like this.

woo…

a couple weeks ago, i suddenly couldn’t login to my blog. it didn’t give me any of the standard “you can’t login” messages, instead it gave me half a page of code that was only partially legible (to me), and no clue what happend or how to fix it. 😱

after a good deal of futzing around, and a few back-and-forths with the host provider, i figured out that it was because i had a 2FA plugin, set to auto-update, and WordFence, also set to auto-update. when WordFence added a 2FA feature which was activated by default (generally, a good thing), and auto-updated itself, it “auto-updated” itself right into the middle of a conflict with the 2FA plugin that was already there, and active. 😱

at the time, i figured that it would be easier to delete the 2FA plugin and use the feature provided by WordFence… so i deleted the 2FA plugin, and set up the 2FA feature provided by WordFence.

except that, unlike the 2FA plugin that was now deleted, WordFence’s 2FA feature only gives you the ability to set up an authenticator ONCE, and, after that, it “assumes” that you have an authenticator set up, so it doesn’t give you the ability to set up another one.

which i discovered today, when i tried to login using my phone, rather than the tablet on which i have set up the new 2FA set up. the result was that i entered the 6-digit code given to me by google authenticator, only to have it rejected… twice… and then i was banned from logging in TO MY OWN GODDAMN BLOG! 🤬

THIS is why the web designer DIDN’T set plugins to auto-update on Hybrid Elephant! 👍

after i used one of my emergency login codes, i set the plugins to NOT auto-update, re-installed the 2FA plugin that allows you to set up more than one iteration of the authenticator, and deleted, and re-installed the blog on the authenticator on BOTH my tablet and my phone…

whew… i think that’s everything… 😕

micro$not, mshtml, and activex

back in the dark ages, when i was working at STLabs, before we moved to factoria (i.e. STLabs… so, what? maybe 1995? 1996? somewhere in there), i was testing Internet Explorer version 3.0, which meant, basically, that i was testing micro$not’s browser engine, which is called MSHTML.dll. at the time, a very good friend of mine from college, saint fred (now, sadly, passed on) was mucking about with the innards of micro$not’s operating system, and discovered a problem which had existed for several years prior to this, which micro$not had “made disappear” by changing the technology’s name from OLE — which was, itself, a “renamed” technology, originally called Visual Basic for Applications, or “VB-A” — to “ActiveX”, and, in the process of making it “disappear”, actually made it more prevalent and insidious, by making it work seamlessly with even more micro$not technology.

and, saint fred being who he was, took advantage of this by writing the “Exploder Control”, which could be embedded in a web page, or a microsoft document, and would, when “activated”, perform a clean shutdown of the computer on which it was being viewed… whether you wanted to shut down your computer, or not.

you hit this web page, and, within seconds, your computer shuts down, with no further input from you. 😏

or…

you open this microsoft word document, and, within seconds, your computer shuts down, with no further input from you. 🤣

i watched it happen as it first came out, before anybody realised what it was. it was hillarious! i gave the URI for the exploder control to my boss, and then went back to my workstation and listened, as she suddenly whined “it shut down my computer!” 🤣🤣🤣

and, of course, micro$not’s response to this was to threaten saint fred with lawsuits for doing stuff he shouldn’t have been doing, and when that didn’t work (because fred made sure that the exploder did everything strictly “by the book”, including getting micro$not’s signature on the control), they made the exploder control something that was detected by their anti-virus software (even though it was very clearly NOT a virus, and, actually, did everything totally “by the book”, something to which micro$not never admitted), and, once they figured out that they had caused all of this, they pulled their signature on the control, so that it raised even more red flags before actually activating it…

and, basically, did everything EXCEPT fix the problem, which, after a few months of frantic ass-covering by micro$not’s marketing department, while the tech industry had a good laugh, got swept under the rug, anyway, by more current micro$not fiascos.

but the technology remained, and every version of windows has support for activex, every version of MSHTML.dll has support for activex (which is one of the reasons micro$not got rid of MSHTML.dll a couple years ago, and current versions of Internet Exploder… um… what’s their browser called again? EDGE, that’s it… uses google’s “chrome” browser engine, instead. the browser wars are over! micro$not LOST!) and you can, literally, do ANYTHING with activex, that you could do from the normal user interface of windows, and there is, literally, NOTHING stopping you from doing this — or other, more nefarious things — given A LITTLE knowledge of the technology.

which is why, when i saw this headline: Miscreants fling booby-trapped Office files at victims, no patch yet, says Microsoft the FIRST THING i thought was “Exploder Control strikes again!”

this is one of the VERY BIG reasons i do not use micro$not on my computers. i don’t even have my microsoft 5-button mouse any longer!

i wonder if they’ll ever learn. 🙄

Continue reading micro$not, mshtml, and activex

when HTML is not HTML

i’m REALLY glad someone else is maintaining my business web site these days. 😒

seriously, if it had been left up to me, i would have given up a LONG time ago, and would probably be out of business, because the web design business has gotten REALLY confusing.

example: the places in WordPress where HTML code is not, actually, HTML code…

210603 not html
210603 not html

there are places which display HTML code, and where that code occurs on the back end, it is actually rendered as HTML code in the browser, but if you want to edit the HTML, you have to copy the ENTIRE page, go to another location (or use an actual text-based code editing tool) and paste the ENTIRE page into that location, make the edits, save them in that other location, copy them from that location, go BACK to the original location where you copied the original code from and paste the new code in, and THEN save the original location…? 😕

210603 not html rendered
210603 not html rendered
and, oddly enough, if you try to edit the HTML code without jumping through the copy/paste hoops multiple times, you end up screwing up the page entirely. 😠

and, to make matters even worse, as far as i can tell, there’s no way to tell which locations are HTML, and which locations only LOOK LIKE HTML… you’re just expected to know. 😠

as far as i can tell, backed up by a professional web designer who does this for a living, that’s the routine that works, and it has actually worked for me, in the past… but not this morning… which is frustrating beyond belief…

in my day, if something LOOKED LIKE HTML code, it WAS HTML code, and could be edited as such, wherever it occurred. 😠✊

201111

Trump Tees Up a New Type of Coup: In Plain Sight
by Ted Rall, 201111

Donald Trump revolutionized political campaigning. It was by accident. Because he was too lazy to prepare for or memorize a stump speech, he ad-libbed his rallies; TV networks gave him $2 billion worth of free airtime because something he said might prove newsworthy. Because he was cheap, he made appearances at any random dump that would have him for free; he used the money he saved on big data research that paid off handsomely.

Now the president is attempting to revolutionize the art of the coup d’état.

Leaders of broad-based movements who want to overthrow an existing government usually agitate for revolution in plain sight. The activism of a popular front attracts new recruits.

A coup is the opposite of a revolution. Unlike revolutionaries, who need the masses to succeed, coup plotters require secrecy. A coup is usually carried out by a very small group of insiders. Coup schemers are not interested in, or have concluded that they cannot, obtain popular support. They do not seek to transform society. They simply want power. It is an attempt by a minnow to swallow a whale.

Without the protection of millions of adherents and operating outside constitutional norms, politicians and/or military men who plot a coup must take over the government by surprise. Leaders of the outgoing regime have to be in prison or dead, and thus powerless, before their supporters realize that their nation has been seized by a small faction. A coup d’état is over before it begins in the event that some element of the conspiracy comes to light before the zero hour. The classic example of a failed coup is Operation Valkyrie, the 1944 attempted assassination of Adolf Hitler and overthrow of the Nazi government of Germany by a group of military officers. The plot unraveled when Hitler survived a bomb attack and went on the radio.

Successful coups include the 2004 overthrow of democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti, whom the CIA kidnapped and spirited away to the Central African Republic, whose president Ange-Félix Patassé had himself been deposed in a coup a year earlier, the Taliban-supported takeover of Pakistan by General Pervez Musharraf in 1999, and the bizarre 1993 self-coup by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who illegally shelled and dissolved parliament.

All of these events seemingly came out of nowhere. By contrast, Donald Trump is laying the groundwork for a coup attempt in plain sight.

Defying tradition, Trump is still refusing to concede the election since the Associated Press and other media organizations called the race in favor of Joe Biden on Saturday, November 7th. Without presenting evidence of fraud or other wrongdoing, he has filed several lawsuits challenging the legitimacy of the vote count.

Most top Republicans are supporting Trump, or remaining silent and refusing to congratulate Biden. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the floor of the U.S. Senate. “President Trump is 100 percent within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options,” said McConnell. “Let’s not have any lectures about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election.”

Asked whether he planned to congratulate Biden, Ron Johnson (R-WI) replied: “Nothing to congratulate him about.” Even as world leaders called to acknowledge Biden’s win, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”

Roger Stone, the political adviser and loyalist pardoned by Trump, previewed the possibility of a post-election military takeover in September. If Trump lost, Stone said at the time, he ought to declare “martial law,” invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807, nationalize state police forces and round up critics and political opponents including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, “the Clintons,” and journalists because they’re involved in “seditious activities.” On November 2nd Stone said Former CIA Director John Brennan, Former FBI Director James Comey and other former officials who offended Trump “must be tried and convicted of treason” and then “they must be hung by the neck until dead.” Stone is still tight with Trump: news just broke that the president had the IRS wipe away Stone’s bill for back taxes, which totaled $1.5 million.

Attorney General William Barr, following Stone’s recommendation, ordered the Department of Justice to investigate irregularities and improprieties in the election.

In order to enforce martial law Trump would need, and has, widespread support among the police. He would also need the military. Though inherently reactionary, active-duty troops have moved away from the president in recent months. So he is replacing top Pentagon brass with compliant loyalists likelier to follow his illegal and unconstitutional orders.

On November 9th Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who refused to deploy troops against Black Lives Matters protesters in June. “In my experience, there would only be a few reasons to fire a Secretary of Defense with 72 days left in an administration,” Representative Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) and an official in Obama’s Pentagon, said. “[One] would be because the President wants to take actions that he believes his Secretary of Defense would refuse to take, which would be alarming.”

“Two White House officials said later on Monday that Mr. Trump was not finished, and that Christopher A. Wray, the FBI director, and Gina Haspel, the CIA director, could be next in line to be fired. Removing these senior officials — in effect decapitating the nation’s national security bureaucracy — would be without parallel by an outgoing president who has just lost re-election,” reported The New York Times.

In a major, unprecedented transition-period shakeup, policy chief James Anderson, intelligence boss Joseph Kernan and Esper’s chief of staff Jen Stewart have also been fired from the Pentagon. Anderson’s replacement is retired Army General Anthony Tata, a nutty far-right white nationalist who called Obama a “terrorist leader,” said Islam was the “most oppressive violent religion I know of” and used a racist slur against CNN host Don Lemon. He will do whatever Trump wants.

What’s going on? Stupid impetuous drama? Or a real coup?

If it turns out to be a coup, it may well prove that teeing it up in plain sight improves its chances of success. Trump’s supporters, disproportionately prone to violence and more heavily armed, are watching and waiting. They can only pitch in as paramilitaries or freelance goons if, like the rest of us, they see the dark days ahead.

Then Trump’s coup becomes a counterrevolution.


Coups For Dummies
by Clay Jones, 201111

On November 10, 2016, President Obama hosted President-elect (sic) Donald Trump in the White House. Vice-President Joe Biden hosted vice-president elect (sic) Mike Pence in the VP residence. First Lady Michelle Obama gave a White House tour to Melania Trump. Today, it’s November 11, 2020, and instead of inviting the future president of the United States to the White House, Donald Trump is hiding inside his bunker in denial he lost. What makes this even worse is that he has enablers. These enablers are helping Donald Trump thwart democracy.

Republicans are pointing out that Democrats whined about the 2016 election. This is true. I whined. I didn’t like the results. I still don’t like it. But while I said the election was tampered with and Russia meddled, I never said any ballots were fraudulent. No Democrats opposed the transition of power. Today, the Trump administration is not allowing a transfer of power.

The Trump Administration could still pursue legal challenges over the election while allowing the process of a transition to happen. That would be in the best interest of the nation. Instead, offices are not being created for the transition, funds aren’t being released, and the next president isn’t even being given security briefings. These were all acts afforded to Donald Trump when he was the incoming president (sic).

The United States condemns leaders of other nations who refuse to leave office and give up power after losing fair elections. Now, our leader (sic) is refusing to give up power and is hiding inside his palace sending his minions out to help him stage a coup. Donald Trump has not been seen since last Thursday.

Mitch McConnell is supporting Trump’s legal challenges even though there isn’t any evidence of massive voter fraud. Lindsey Graham is telling Trump not to concede. McConnell and Graham both won their Senate elections last week but neither one of these two men refused their opponent’s concessions.

Ted Cruz says allowing the media to declare the winner is not how we do it in America. Except, he was more than happy to accept the media’s declaration of a winner in 2016. He was more than happy to accept their declaration in 2018 when he won reelection to the Senate.

When asked if he had congratulated President-Elect Joe Biden yet, Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, whose state went for Biden, said he doesn’t have anything to congratulate Biden for.

Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana said, “We have got to allow our courts to hear these allegations of voting irregularities by the president.” You may as well allow the courts to hear allegations of lizard people running our government too because you have just as much evidence of that as you do of voter fraud.

North Carolina’s Thom Tillis was finally declared the winner of his race yesterday and he said about the presidential election, “Every vote legally cast must be counted.” Who says they shouldn’t? Who says they haven’t been counted? Guess what. Tillis didn’t stop his opponent from conceding saying, “Every legal vote must be counted” bullshit.

Isn’t it fucked up that right after you elect someone, that they make a pronouncement against democracy and fair elections?

Attorney General William Barr is releasing the Justice Department’s legal hounds to fight Trump’s loss in the courts. Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani is holding press conferences outside dildo shops claiming the election was stolen from Trump.

It’s funny Democrats stole the election for Biden while simultaneously losing the Senate and seats in the House. It’s also funny that it hasn’t occurred to any of these Republicans claiming fraudulent ballots, that they also have their names on those “fraudulent” ballots. If we’re going to wipe out who won the election, that should also mean we wipe out all those Republican victories. Should we wipe out McConnell’s, Graham’s, and Tillis’ victories?

Each government department is being told to prepare their budgets for next year as though the administration will still be operating. As if they’re still going to be in town and not all applying at Fox News at the same time. And Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the nation’s top diplomat has said there will be a “smooth transition…to a SECOND Trump administration.”

What the fuck? The top diplomat or the world’s leading democracy is telling the world we don’t obey election results anymore. Pompeo said the eletion has not been decided. It has LITERALLY been decided.

Can you imagine the outrage if instead of conceding the election the day after, Hillary Clinton had refused to admit defeat, mounted legal challenged, and claimed the election had been stolen? Can you imagine if instead of inviting Trump to the White House, President Obama had refused to release transition funding?

In Michigan, Trump beat Clinton by 10,704 votes in 2016. In 2020 in Michigan, Biden beat Trump by over 146,000 (and still counting). In case you’re a Republican, 146,000 is greater than 10,000.

In Pennsylvania, Trump beat Clinton by 46,765. In 2020 in Pennsylvania, Biden beat Trump by over 48,000 (and still counting). In case you’re a Republican, 48,000 is more than 46,000. Now, Trump is suing to overturn the election in Pennsylvania.

As the counting continues, Biden is heading for a 306 electoral vote win. That’s the exact same amount Trump won with in 2016. How are they going to win the presidency by overturning one state without any actual evidence of election fraud? They would need to overturn more than one state. Maybe they can do it in Georgia where the two GOP senators are calling for their own Republican Secretary of State to resign because they don’t like that his count shows Donald Trump is losing.

This is banana republic type shit here, people. This is a coup attempt. Maybe people like Pompeo are just trying to appease Trump for now. Maybe Pompeo is a coward. He wants to appease Trump’s base for when he runs for the Senate in Kansas or even for the presidency in 2024, if Trump doesn’t. Or maybe, he’s afraid of being fired two months before he’s scheduled to lose his job. Trump is already lashing out and firing people.

Maybe people like Mitch McConnell, John Kennedy (not the good one), Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio, Thom Tillis, and Ted Cruz are all just big, fat ass kissers. Or…they’re trying to steal an election and are engaging in a coup.

I predicted before the election that Joe Biden would win… but I did not predict he’d take the White House because I was afraid the Republicans would try to steal the election. Even before the election, Trump said the only way he could lose was if there was corruption and voter fraud. Boy, did I call it or did I call it?

We know this about Trump supporters: They are all cowards. They have made their party into one of a cult. They put one man before their nation. They are putting one man before democracy. They don’t care if they turn our democracy into a dictatorship.

The Trump administration will NOT legally continue, but the resistance must.

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

Phishing Emails Used to Deploy KONNI Malware

if you are in the habit of using micro$not software, particularly the office varients (word, excell, power point, etc.), you should beware of the new “phishing” (specifically, “spear-phishing”) attack which uses an infected microsoft word document as the vector.

solution: don’t use micro$hit.

alternative solution: don’t use windoesn’t, or, if you do, don’t open ANY files that you receive in email, from ANYONE, if you weren’t expecting it, keep your antivirus software up to date, backup everything, and pray that something doesn’t happen anyway.

this is just the most recent extension of the exploder control controversy, started by my friend fred, back when W95 was current… except that, now, instead of calling it “OLE or “ActiveX” they’re calling it “VBA“, and it can do a lot more nefarious things to your computer than the exploder control could do — and the exploder control was relatively benign, in that it ONLY shut down your computer without your say so…

but micro$lop made a BIG OL’ fuss about it, when fred actually got it signed, because of the fact that it used ActiveX APIs in EXACTLY the way they were supposed to be used, and the automated process of signing didn’t take into account what the control actually DID, and whether doing that thing, at that time, was actually USEFUL… 😂🤣

by the way, the exploder control was SPECIFICALLY designed to work with W95 and IE3, so, unless you’re browsing on your grandfather’s computer, you’ve got nothing to worry about. 😉

MUA

today is the third day of NOT using Kontact, the MUA that i have been using pretty much ever since i switched to linux, back in the dark ages.

i really liked kontact. it did EXACTLY what i wanted it to do: it handled all of my email addresses in a logical way, made it easy to switch from one email address to another, worked well with my business set-up, my installation of sigrot

but it had a fatal flaw which i have been trying (and, mostly, succeeding) to work around for quite some time now, and that is its use of akonadi, which is the interface between the MUA and the SQL database that lives behind it.

for the first few years i didn’t even notice a problem, but then i upgraded my operating system, and everything blew up. i ended up installing the new operating system from scratch, and summarily trashing three or four years worth of collected email. it was a difficult process, but i got through it.

through the years, i have tried installing a number of MUAs, in order to try and get away from kontact, but either they didn’t do what i wanted, or they simply didn’t work at all, so i gave up and went back to fighting with kontact…

“the devil you know”, right?

after that, there were a number of times, primarily during updates or upgrades, when i had to battle with kontact/akonadi/SQL, to get it to work, and i had to trash a number of years of collected email at least one more time before reaching the point at which i am, now.

four days ago, i ran the operating system updates, and, after i was done, i tried starting up kontact, and nothing happened. i tried starting it from the konsole (rather than “clicking” on the “icon”, which is how you start it in the GUI), got a vaguely worded, cryptic message about being unable to start “hebrew.wgz.sizes.sonnet.plugins.hspell”, and then it hung up.

which is very odd, because i have never even installed the hebrew language pack, and have no idea why it would even be attempting to start the hebrew spelling dictionary…

i tried asking Kubuntu Forums for solutions, and got the same answer that i have gotten every OTHER time i have asked about how to fix kontact, which is “kontact is broken, install thunderbird instead”.

so i tried installing thunderbird (AGAIN), and, after having some “words” with my operating system about whether this new piece of software actually worked (or not), i successfully installed and more-or-less correctly configured it, and started using it.

it’s a little different than kontact… or, at least, my perception is that it is a little different than kontact. after some futzing around, i learned how to configure it to use more than one email address — actually, i may have done it “the other way” first, because the terminology for “accounts” and “identities” is slightly different on kontact — and, as far as i can tell, there is no easy way to add an “X-” header line to outgoing email, like there is in kontact, but that may just be because i have yet to find the place where such a thing is configured.

and, then, yesterday (after i had, more or less, given up on kontact), i discovered that kontact actually worked… it had been a few days since i had given up trying to start it, because of “hebrew.wgz.sizes.sonnet.plugins.hspell” not working, and, without thinking about it, i “clicked” on the “icon” and kontact sprang back to life!

so, the first thing i did was transfer all of my contacts, and most of my RSS feeds (i got bored and antsy, so i’ll finish them later) to thunderbird.

for some time, now, when i “quit” kontact (select “quit” from the “file” menu), i have had to go to the konsole, and “kill” the process that kontact was running, so that it would actually quit. i also discovered that “kill”ing kontact STILL allows incoming mail to be downloaded, a process that i don’t completely understand (it may have something to do with akonadi interacting with the POP3 mailserver).

also, for even longer (i recall at least two kontact upgrades that have had this behaviour, prior to the one i am currently (not) using), when i first start kontact, after booting up my computer in the morning, about 98.9% of the time it gets to the point where it’s displaying correctly on the screen, but before i have the chance to do anything, it puts up a dialogue box that says that there has been a fatal error and kontact will quit now. the dialogue doesn’t say what the fatal error is, and it only has an “OK” button, which makes everything disappear when i click it. under this circumstance, when i run “ps -u salamandir | grep kontact” in the konsole, kontact is, actually, not running (unlike when i select “quit” from the “file” menu), and if i restart kontact, it works without any further problems…

except that, sometimes (usually at least once a day), it freezes for anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, and when it does, there’s a very good chance (greater than half the time) that it will crash. usually this happens when i have just selected a message to reply to, and/or usually it happens when it is in the process of downloading new mail or RSS feeds. sometimes i can anticipate when it’s going to happen, when i have to reply to a message and it is in the process of downloading.

thunderbird doesn’t have these problem. when i select “quit” from the “file” menu, in thunderbird, it actually quits, and doesn’t keep downloading mail anyway. thunderbird doesn’t crash for no reason, or freeze and crash. it may not be kontact, but on the other hand, it’s not kontact.

my impression is that the operating system struggles when there is more than one MUA running, and, because of the difficulties i’ve been having getting kontact to quit, i don’t like to keep both of them running for long periods of time, especially since, apparently, kontact’s interface with the POP3 mailserver takes precedence, even after i “quit” and “kill” it, and even when i start up thunderbird first (which it shouldn’t, but it goes to support the fact that “kontact is broken”).

database update

the database is fixed. 😌

what happened? that’s complex.

recently, i had my web site redesigned. the new design uses the “Enfold” theme, which uses a lot of what they call “transients” to maintain the look and feel of the site, regardless of the platform on which it’s being viewed. “transients” are sort of like cookies, except that you can’t opt out of them, and they don’t contain any personally identifying information. some of these “transients” expire immediately when a person leaves the web site, and others persist, for a few minutes to several days. they persist on your computer AND on my server… in the one of the tables in the database…

the “Enfold” theme has automatic caching and garbage collection routines that are supposed to handle these expired “transients”, but, because it’s a wordpress theme, it doesn’t do all the jobs very well… or, sometimes, at all… which is why i also use a caching plugin that actually, you know, works ALL the time, and not only some of the time… 😒

except that, for some reason, prior to my site upgrade, “someone” (and i have yet to identify who, but it was either my web designer or my host provider) recommended that i disable the caching plugin, because of some issue with the new version of wordpress… or something like that… as i said, i don’t remember. i distinctly remember disabling the plugin on someone’s recommendation, i just don’t remember exactly who, when or why. 😖

one way or the other, my caching plugin was disabled, which meant that, when i installed the new theme, it was relying on the not-working-the-way-it-should, internal cache… which, basically, didn’t work, causing the table in the database to expand beyond my disk space allocation. 🤯

it didn’t show up in my cPanel because i wasn’t looking at the SQL disk space, which is “below the fold” of my browser, and i just didn’t scroll down far enough to see it. 😕 during the nightly automatic backup, it was overwhelming the server for everybody, not just me. i had to pay my web designer for two days of poking through piles of arcane SQL code and deleting bits and pieces of it. it was not fun.

the solution was to enable the caching plugin(!), and to install a “transient manager” plugin, so that i can delete the expired transients from the wordpress dashboard, and not from the SQL database,… which requires A LOT more “knowing what to look for” and “knowing how to delete stuff without damaging other stuff” than i have on board, personally.

databases

my first direct experience with databases was in the late 1980s or early 1990s, when i got a “job”, “working” for this… guy…

i don’t remember his name — possibly “henry” — but i remember his attitudes: he was always right, nothing he thought of had ever been thought of before, he was the richest, smartest, trendiest, most “on-top-of-it” dude that ever hit the face of the planet, and GAWD HELP YOU if you EVER got in his way.

needless to say, the “job” didn’t last long. it started with him demonstrating how generous he was, by buying me a disk caddy, so that i would have somewhere to keep all of the disks i was going to accumulate working for him. then he started asking me about computers. at the time, i was NOT a “computer geek”, nor did i want to be one (my father was one of the original “computer geeks” and i DID NOT want to be like my father), but i knew about computers because i had been working as a typesetter for a few years. he asked me what i didn’t know about computers, and one of the first things out of my mouth was “databases”, so he signed me up for a week of training with “FileMaker”…

what i learned was a bunch of recycled stuff from my already ample knowledge of microslut word and excel, with a bunch of “hypercard-like” stuff which i sort of vaguely understood (but nobody i knew used hypercard for anything, so i never really knew what i had missed until years later), and, at the same time i was doing this training, i was helping this… guy… clean out his house, because he was going through a divorce, or some awful shit like that, and he, basically, had to move EVERYTHING that was “his”, out of one house and into another, that was a few houses down the street…

which is where i learned that his “rich” persona was heavily financed by several HUNDRED overdrawn credit cards — he had been using one credit card to pay off another credit card, and when he ran out of credit cards, he would just start up a new one, and use it to pay off the previous ones… FOR YEARS… — at which point i decided that working for this guy might not be such a good idea, if i wanted to get paid.

quite apart from the fact that working for him was REALLY annoying…

so, ultimately, i spent a week learning really complex software that i never got to use for anything, and that was it, until i got my job at software.com, testing email servers, in 2001.

and, for all of my work with databases at software.com/openwave, i still don’t have a really solid grasp of what they are… where they “live”, what they do, how they work… anything… all i know is that, under the right set of circumstances, you can give “commands” to a database, and it will perform certain functions with a variety of different “objects”, the outcomes of which can be used in a multitude of different ways, depending on what is contained in your database.

i get the impression that databases are a lot like the world wide web, in that they both have a lot of objects (web sites) that are linked together in a somewhat-haphazard, but definitely organised way.

so, you can imagine that it was something of a surprise when, the other morning, i woke up, checked my email, and discovered two somewhat alarming notices. the first was warning me that i had used up 90% of my disk space on my server, and the other was warning me that a “table” on my main database was malfunctioning… or something… and collecting 251 GB worth of data… which, somehow, was NOT showing up in my cPanel, which says “Disk Usage 18.43 GB / 292.97 GB”…

and, of course, it happened on a sunday, when nobody’s in the office, and on mothers day, when even fewer people are in the office, and during a PANDEMIC… 😒

so, first thing this morning, after waking up to a broken heat pump, and a wife who wrenched her back, i wrote to my web designer, who said, oh yeah, we’ve seen this kind of thing before, it’ll cost between $200 and $500 to fix it…

and I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT’S WRONG… 😖

you’re probably wondering why i posted this…

मनोबुद्ध्यहङ्कारचित्तानि नाहं
न च श्रोत्रजिह्वे न च घ्राणनेत्रे ।
न च व्योमभूमिः न तेजो न वायुः
चिदानन्दरूपः शिवोऽहं शिवोऽहम् ॥ १॥

The processors
Manas, buddhi, ahaṅkāra and chitta are the qualitative differentiation within the mind. They are used interchangeably based on context, and yet they are different.

Manas is the faculty of perception, the instrument by which the objects of senses affect the Atman. It is the faculty of thought, desire, imagination. Buddhi is the intellect, by which one discerns, comprehends. Ahaṅkāra is the sense of identity, that which creates ‘I-ness’, ego. Chittam is the one that observes, is aware. All these are the faculties that process what comes from outside.

I am none of these processors.

The instruments
Shrotra is the ear, the organ of hearing. Jihvā is tongue, the organ of tasting. Ghrāṅa is nose, the sense of smelling. And netra is eye, the sense of seeing.

I am none of these instruments.

The building blocks of matter
Vyoma is the space, the gap between the matter. It is the space between planetary bodies as well as the space around Earth, and even the space inside anything. It is also one of the five basic elements.

Bhūmi is the Earth, or the solid matter.

Tejas is the heat or light (both interconnected) like the fire or the Sun.

Vāyu is the wind, the circulating forces, not just on Earth but also inside our bodies, responsible for circulating whether nutrition or blood etc.

I am none of these building blocks of which the material world is made.

The faculties get the information using the senses about the outside world.

I am none of them.

I am pure bliss form of consciousness.
I am Shiva, I am Shiva.

— Practical Sanskrit

—–

it is Adi Shankara‘s birthday, and, if i can be said to “follow” a “religion”, it would probably be the one espoused by adi shankara.

the reason for this is that adi shankara spoke of a “god” which exists beyond what we experience as “good” or “evil”. this “god” is neither (or, possibly, both) “good” and/or “evil”… which is, pretty much, EXACTLY the kind of “god” i feel, which “operates” this plane of existence. this “god” both “exists” and “does not exist”, at the same time, creating no contradictions. this “god” is both “illogical” and “logical” at the same time, creating no contradictions…

and if you don’t understand this, you probably think i’m crazy.

so be it.

this sanskrit shloka, part of Nirvanashatkam is, pretty much, exactly what i believe about myself: i may have all these things holding me back; depression, anhedonia, a brain injury, etc., but those are relics of 60 years of living in this plane of existence. in spite of how “real” these things are, in spite of how “real” these things seem to be TO ME, they are NOT “who i am”, in the “real” sense of the word. i am beyond all this: i “really” exist in a realm where “good” and “evil” are two sides of the same coin… and that “coin” is worth less than a penny.

new regex stuff!

logical operators! thanks ian! 😉

+ () [] - |

(stuff that remains the same)+(stuff that changes) – otherwise known as “capture groups”

[89] = 8 or 9

[0-4] = 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4

| = logical OR

so…

\D(85\.157\.47\.)+(12[89]|1[3-9][0-9]|2[0-4][0-9]|25[0-5])\D

means “capture everything in 85.157.47.128/25”

which, up until now, has meant “make a separate rule for every IP address between 85.157.47.128 and 85.157.47.255” — 128 SEPARATE RULES, which takes A LONG time, and slows down processing speed.

this is a BIG step forward!

WOO!!! 😎👍

ETA 200205: even more WOO!!! because ian directed me to a RegEx Numeric Range Generator, which means that i don’t have to figure them all out myself! WOO!!! 😎👍

🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬‼

ever since he was born, i have been afraid that i will be forced into the situation where i have to apologise to my son for bringing him into a world that, through no fault of his own, is going to end, for all intents and purposes, before his life will end. to me, it seems a large amount of irresponsible, to have brought a being into the world, who is faced with his own death, before his time, especially since i seem to be charmed when it comes to the potential of my life ending before my time.

and it’s even harder for me, because i have been fighting my entire adult life to change the things that i can, that would lead to my not having to offer that apology.

ezra, i’m sorry that the world is such a fucked up place. i’m sorry i brought you into this world, with no way to change it. i’m sorry you have to share this world with people who don’t care that it will end before your lifetime is complete.

A Grim New Definition of Generation X
by Ted Rall – 191231

People born in the 1960s may be the last human beings who will get to live out their full actuarial life expectancies. “Climate change now represents a near- to mid-term existential threat” to humanity, warns a recent policy paper by an Australian think tank. Civilization, scientists say, could collapse by 2050. Some people may survive. Not many.

Some dismiss such purveyors of apocalyptic prognoses as hysterics. To the contrary, they’re Pollyannas. Every previous “worst-case scenario” prediction for the climate has turned out to have understated the gravity of the situation. “Paleoclimatologists have shown that past warming episodes show that there are mechanisms which magnify its effects, not represented in current climate models from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to the Paris Accords,” reports The Independent. It’s probably too optimistic to assume that we’ll make it to 2050.

Gives new meaning to Generation X.

Millennials and the children we call Generation Z face the horrifying prospect that they will get stuck with the tab for humanity’s centuries-long rape of planet earth, the mass desecration of which radically accelerated after 1950. There is an intolerably high chance that today’s young people will starve to death, die of thirst, be killed by a superstorm, succumb to a new disease, boil to death, asphyxiate from air pollution, be murdered in a riot or shot or blown up in a war sparked by environmentally-related political instability long before they survive to old age.

Long threatened, never taken seriously, not even now that it’s staring us right in the face, human extinction is coming for the children and grandchildren we claim to love but won’t lift a finger to save.

Shelves sag under the weight of books that have been written arguing that we still have a chance to save ourselves. I wish I could believe that. Human population has tripled since the 1950s. More than a million species have gone extinct. Ninety percent of the fish in the ocean have vanished, replaced by one billion tons of plastic. Two-thirds of the trees have been cut down. The polar ice cap is gone; it’s never coming back.

We can’t stop global warming. An increase of four degrees Celsius over the baseline set at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution means game over. We’re well on our way there. It doesn’t make sense to think that we can avoid extinction.

What if we woke up and demanded action from our political leaders? Radical problems require radical solutions; only the most radical of solutions could resolve the most radical problem of ruining our planet’s ability to sustain us: revolution. We would have to rise up and abolish — immediately — consumer capitalism in all the major greenhouse gas-producing nations, prioritize cleaning the environment as the human race’s top concern, and pivot to an economic mindset in which we extract the bare minimum from the ecosystem that we need in order to survive and nothing more.

Voting might achieve some incremental reforms but reform falls far short of what we require. Saving our young people (and their children, should they be foolish enough to have any) would require global revolution, the violent overthrow of the ruling elites and replacing them with people who understand what must be done. It would need to happen today. Fifty years ago would be better. Got a time machine?

None of this is going to happen. We are going to sleepwalk to our doom in a haze of social media and corporate entertainment distraction.

So it’s time for people who are younger than I am to start thinking about how they want to spend the rest of their likely-to-be-truncated lives, and how they plan to face mass premature death.

Pending human extinction destroys the answers provided by religion and philosophy. Knowing that there won’t be anyone to know that we were ever here raises the question: why bother to do anything? This column, this year’s “important” presidential election, love, hate, everything will lose its meaning when the last member of our species draws her last breath. Earth is unlikely to be visited by an alien archaeologist, much less uncover everything we’ve made and created (assuming any of it survives), much less figure out what any of it meant, before the sun expands into a red giant and ends it all.

Much is to be said for hedonism: eat, drink, have sex, and don’t bother to sort your recycling, for tomorrow we die. Stoicism has its advantages too; go out with dignity rather than weeping and gnashing your teeth and making your fellow survivors miserable.

Nihilism is about to become the best worst possible life strategy. Life is meaningless. That will soon become obvious. Moral principles, relics of a time with a future, will blow away like the irradiated dust we leave behind.

None of this will have mattered.

chops

no, not Chopp’s, chops… the signature stamps that are traditionally used on chinese artwork.

i got some.

chops
chops – one says “SHALEMENDUO” and the other one says “RONG”

the one on the left says 沙了門多 which is prounounced SHĀ-LE-MÉN-DUŌ which is the closest the guy could get to “SALAMANDIR”.

SHĀ-LE-MÉN-DUŌ means “SAND-UP-DOOR-MANY”, which is, essentially, meaningless. it’s just a name chop.

"WRONG" or "DIFFERENT"
“WRONG” or “DIFFERENT”
the one on the right says 蝾 which is pronounced RÓNG, and it means “SALAMANDER”.

and i think it’s kind of interesting that the word for “SALAMANDER” is RÓNG

i made a chop several years ago, that says “CHIGAU” which means “DIFFERENT” or “WRONG”… but it’s backwards.

i did it

i finally went through all of my photos and found a “some random hippie” photo for every year from 2004 until the present, with the exception (for some, as-yet unknown reason) of 2010. the current trend of a picture in the mirror began in 2009.

Some Random Hippie, 2019
Some Random Hippie, 2018
Some Random Hippie, 2017
Some Random Hippie, 2016
Some Random Hippie, 2015
Some Random Hippie, 2014
Some Random Hippie, 2013
Some Random Hippie, 2012
Some Random Hippie, 2011
Some Random Hippie, 2010 – apparently doesn’t exist… 😕
Some Random Hippie, 2009
Some Random Hippie, 2008
Some Random Hippie, 2007
Some Random Hippie, 2006
Some Random Hippie, 2005 (with Schmootzi The Clod)
Some Random Hippie, 2004

what?

i’m reading pantagruel, which was written in 1532.

in the introduction, after he addresses the translator, there is a refrence to tobacco:

To drink he was a furious enemy
Contented with a six-penny --
(with diamond hatband, silver spurs, six horses.) pie --

And for tobacco's pate-rounding smoke,
Much had he said, and much more spoke,
But 'twas not then found out, so the design was broke.

according to wikipedia, “tobacco”, as a word, was introduced to europeans around 1552, twenty years AFTER pantagruel was written, and Hernández de Boncalo, Spanish chronicler of the Indies, was the first European to bring tobacco seeds to the Old World in 1559 following orders of King Philip II of Spain.

before that, especially in europe, one would assume, tobacco was quite rare, and usually not available to “ordinary” people.

i’ve never read pantagruel before, and the 16th century, in general, was kind of a weird, amorphous time, during which what we take as “knowledge” now, was a lot more fluid and undecided, so i think i can overlook this inconsistency, but it’ll be interesting.

FLONG!

a while ago, i came across this word in a web-comic that i read all the time. it was in a joke about librarians who were in the process of being stereotypical stoners, and i thought it was just a joke — and, as “just a joke”, it was a pretty good one — but little did i know…

flong

apparently there is an item called “flong” — sometimes called an “ad-mat” or “advertising matrix” in the newspaper business — which is a paper mould used to make stereotypes… which are called “clichés” in French, because it’s onomotapoetic for the sound produced when they’re made. 🤣

pieces of flong
pieces of flong

i should have known that, even in web comics (possibly, especially in web comics) when librarians make jokes, they make jokes by which even the professionals are impressed. 😎 😉 👍

also, i think i want a refund on this life. i’m almost 60 years old, i have been a typesetter for almost 40 of those years, and i have only recently discovered flongs: this is UNACCEPTABLE! 😠

CIDR

CIDR notation is used when you’re talking about blocks of IP addresses. it’s the part of the IPv4 address — the “dotted quad” — where there’s a slash, followed by a number between 0 and 32, which represents a block of IPv4 addresses that are all related to each other. the common ones that i see all the time are /24 — which is 256 addresses, from A.B.C.0 to A.B.C.255 — and /16, which is A.B.0.0 to A.B.255.255 or 216 addresses. i’ve also seen references to /18, which is 214 addresses, but i don’t completely understand what delineates them in the /18 case — or many other cases, for that matter, it’s just that /24 and /16 have relatively visible end-points for people who don’t really understand… 😉

following that subject, i just recently encountered a block — /23 or 2562 (512) addresses — and i wondered what it was, so i looked it up, and while i was reading about it, moe came up behind me and commented that CIDR plugs are used to synchronize the œstrus of livestock animals

ETA 190208: i have, since, encountered /11, /19, /21, and /28, which is beginning to bring about my understaning where the delineations are.

🤯🤪

#WTELF?????

okay, i’m confused… it was my impression that, when police are called because person A has shot person B, that, by definition, we are talking about what is called a “crime”.

there’s this item at Raw Story, Three killed, four wounded in California bowling alley shooting about the police being called to a bowling alley, where they discovered multiple shooting victims, including three who are dead, and no suspect available.

to me, that sounds like it is definitely what they would call a “crime scene”.

but, here’s the thing:

The Torrance Police Department said officers responded to a shot-fired call at the location found multiple gunshot victims. Two men were taken to hospital, two opted to seek their own medical attention, and three were pronounced dead at the scene.

if they were part of a crime, and shot at the crime scene, why were they allowed to “seek their own medical attention”? wouldn’t the fact that they were part of a crime scene necessitate the police wanting to know everything possible about their gunshot wounds?

… which includes records that a doctor at a hospital could easily, efficiently, and accurately provide them, but which usually aren’t accepted by the person, about themselves, after the fact…?

especially if people, you know, actually DIED as a result of this “crime”…?

😕

it is as though the police are, essentially, saying “oh, yeah… some guy shot and killed three people and wounded four others, but don’t worry, it’s not a serious crime that we’re talking about here.”

😒

THIS is why nobody respects cops

ding dong – bush senior is dead!

george bush pin
I knew George Bush was lying from the beginning. Now we’re all stuck with him! READ MY LIPS!
i remember when bushy george was elected. after 8 years of reagan, i was beginning to develop a frightened “i don’t care” attitude about politics in general, but i knew at the time that this was a definite step in the WRONG direction, and several orders of magnitude worse than reagan.

i wasn’t wrong.

I Will Not Speak Kindly of the Dead. Bush Was Detestable.

George H.W. Bush Hagiography is the Elites’ Finest Accomplishment

George H.W. Bush Empowered Atrocity Abroad and Fascists at Home

Trump’s Attack on Medicare for All Has Industry Fingerprints All Over It

Trump’s Attack on Medicare for All Has Industry Fingerprints All Over It
By Wendell Potter
19 October, 2018

Recently, the president decided to take a break from tweeting conspiracy theories to write an op-ed attacking supporters of Medicare for All. While engaging in what psychologists would probably call “projection,” he accused the Medicare for All movement of putting seniors at risk, rationing health care and trying to destroy the Medicare system.

I’m a former executive at two of the country’s largest insurance companies. I spent 20 years working in PR for Humana and then Cigna, rising to the level of vice president before I had a crisis of conscience. As a result, I know exactly how this op-ed came to be. The process doesn’t start at the White House. It didn’t include a careful review of policy, and it wasn’t an idea his staff came up with.

I can see the industry’s fingerprints on this op-ed from a mile away, because I was the ghost writer for many pieces just like it. During my two-decade tenure in the industry, every time an idea that would threaten shareholder profits started gaining momentum, my employer would decide we’d need to find a friendly and influential politician to carry water for the industry. I’d sit down with my communications team, create talking points, or even write a complete op-ed or speech, and then make sure our well-connected lobbyists got it to the right people.

And the industry won’t just go to Republicans. For instance, Ed Rendell, a Democrat who was formerly a governor of my home state of Pennsylvania and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, recently wrote an op-ed promoting several half-measures he claimed would be stronger reforms than single-payer health care, none of which posed a serious threat to private insurance. Currently, Rendell is affiliated with the Bipartisan Policy Center, which has regularly hosted organizations like America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP). Meanwhile, so-called think tanks like the Pacific Research Institute regularly write Medicare for All hit pieces for Forbes and other outlets.

The purpose of these op-eds was always to mislead and scare people, because when the facts aren’t on your side, you have to find a politician who’s willing to obfuscate, misdirect and outright lie. It’s no surprise that the industry went right to the White House.

Many people were quick to challenge the president’s claims. Medicare for All would actually expand coverage for seniors currently on Medicare by covering dental and vision care and lowering drug prices. And contrary to Trump’s claim about rationing, the truth is that real rationing occurs in the US when people don’t seek treatment due to cost. It happens every day because millions of Americans are either uninsured or have such high deductibles they can’t afford to actually get the care they need. Medicare for All would eliminate that barrier.

Others have pointed out the hypocrisy. Since taking control of Congress and the White House, President Trump and his party have been engaged in a non-stop assault on Medicare, threatened patients with pre-existing conditions and tried to force through a plan that would have kicked tens of millions of people off their insurance.

Here’s the thing: I’m fairly confident that the president and his staff don’t actually believe that Medicare for All would threaten seniors. I can tell because Trump doesn’t use the national platform as an opportunity to lay out a vision to expand coverage, or protect people with pre-existing conditions, or manage drug prices or lower health care costs.

What the president does know is that a Medicare for All system is the worst nightmare of insurance and pharmaceutical companies. Right now, they have a virtually limitless ability to charge American patients, families, workers and businesses exorbitant prices, and they want to keep it that way. That’s why they have spent decades abusing our campaign finance system, pumping money into campaigns, hiring armies of lobbyists, and using a combination of political incentives and threats to push through legislation they like, making sure that any legislation that threatens to limit their profits never sees the light of day.

Now that the American people are starting to wake up to their scam, the entrenched special interests have decided to cash in their favors. And so, the president decided to parrot the talking points of his donors and their shareholders, no matter how much harm it will cause the American people.

Trump Tower board seeks nearly $90,000 from estate of art collector who died in 50th-floor fire

Trump Tower board seeks nearly $90,000 from estate of art collector who died in 50th-floor fire
By Meagan Flynn
18 October 2018

Six months after a fire in Trump Tower killed 50th-floor resident Todd Brassner, the building’s residential board is coming after Brassner’s estate for tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid common charges stemming from a lien on his apartment, according to a complaint filed Tuesday in the Supreme Court in New York County.

Brassner, a longtime Trump Tower resident who lived alone with hundreds of vintage instruments and an elaborate multimillion-dollar art collection, died April 7 after an electrical fire engulfed his apartment, which had no working smoke alarms. He was 67.

Now, with backing from a Trump Organization attorney, the Residential Board of Trump Tower Condominium is suing Brassner’s estate for more than $64,600 in unpaid common charges, an amount that includes fees accrued in the months after Brassner died. The residential board is also seeking a judgment of at least $25,000, bringing the total amount sought to nearly $90,000. Common charges are condo fees that typically include maintenance, utilities or other services. Brassner defaulted on common charge payments in June 2015, according to the complaint.

Brassner’s family members and executors of his estate, Heather and Aaron Brassner, could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could the attorney representing the board.

The fire at Trump Tower, where the president’s penthouse and the Trump Organization headquarters are located, captured wide attention in April both for Trump’s silence on Brassner’s death and for the lack of sprinklers in the building, a feature that Trump had lobbied against installing in the condos in the late 1990s.

Brassner moved into Trump Tower in 1996, according to property records. The son of a wealthy New York art collector, Brassner was described by friends as an “utter expert on Pop Art” who was “constantly swapping, buying and selling” and at the center of the action in the art world, as his friend, Stuart Pivar, told the Art Newspaper. Brassner ran with Andy Warhol’s Factory crowd in the 1970s as he built his impressive art collection, including a 1975 portrait Warhol made of Brassner, which the Trump Tower resident valued at $850,000 in 2015.

He kept the portrait in his Trump Tower condo, along with a collection of more than 100 vintage guitars, $25,000 worth of banjos, about 150 ukuleles from the early 20th century, an organ, a Robert Indiana sculpture and artwork by Jack Kerouac — just to name a few items.

But over the years, he appeared to have trouble keeping up with the condo payments. Trump Tower’s residential board filed multiple liens against him between 2003 and 2013 for unpaid common charges, New York court records show. And in 2015 he filed for bankruptcy, which included listing all of the assets kept in his apartment. The condo was valued at $2.5 million.

At the time of Brassner’s death, friends told the New York Times he was in declining health and that he had been trying unsuccessfully to sell the apartment. Once Trump became president, resulting in omnipresent armed security outside Trump Tower, Brassner couldn’t seem to find a buyer, one friend told the Times.

“It haunts me,” Brassner’s friend Stephen Dwire, a musician and producer, told the paper. “He said, ‘This is getting untenable.’ It was like living in an armed camp. But when people heard it was a Trump building, he couldn’t give it away.”

Trump built the tower in 1983, when installing sprinklers was not required. In 1998, when two tragic New York City high-rise fires left several people dead, the city moved to begin requiring sprinklers in high-rises. But Trump opposed retrofitting his building with the sprinklers and lobbied to persuade city officials to drop a proposal that would have required them in older apartment buildings, as The Washington Post previously reported.

Some speculated that the April fire could have been mitigated had they been installed.

The New York City Fire Department ultimately found that the fire was caused by an overloaded electrical board. The Times reported that the building was equipped with smoke sensors, which is what alerted firefighters to the blaze.

In a statement on Twitter in April, Trump did not offer condolences for Brassner’s family but did brag about the construction of the building.

“Fire at Trump Tower is out,” he tweeted, before the fire had been put out. “Very confined (well built building). Firemen (and women) did a great job. THANK YOU!”

A month after Brassner died, a Trump Organization attorney filed a lien against the deceased man on behalf of the Residential Board of the Trump Tower Condominium, seeking at that time $52,000 in unpaid common charges since July 2016, according to New York City Department of Finance records.

Can’t Hit the Snooze Button No More

my impression is that the democratic malaise goes back at least as far as George McGovern, in 1972, but you’ve got to start somewhere…

Can’t Hit the Snooze Button No More
October 9, 2018
by Marc Salomon

In 1980, when I turned 18 and first voted, John Anderson sounded the alarm about the duopoly rot. The Democrats hit the snooze button and Reagan won.

In 1984, Gary Hart sounded the alarm and the Democrats slapped him down, again in 1988, and hit the snooze button, nominated the execrable Mondale and Reagan won.

In 1988, Jesse Jackson sounded the rainbow alarm, the Democrats hit the snooze button, nominated the hapless Dukakis who ran with the odious Bentsen and Bush I won.

In 1992, Jerry Brown v1.5 sounded the alarm, the Democrats hit the snooze button and nominated Bill “Rapey Bubba” Clinton who won but rammed NAFTA through and forfeited the Congress to the Republicans.

In 1996, Nader sounded the alarm. the Democrats hit the snooze button. The Republicans impeached Rapey Bubba.   As a parting shot of gratitude, Clinton I deregulated Wall Street.

In 2000, Ralph Nader sounded the alarm, the Democrats hit the snooze button and lost to Bush II (the previous Hitler on the Potomac) and instead of taking stock of their failure, raged at Nader.

In 2004, Howard Dean sounded a weak alarm, the Democrats hit the snooze button and nominated the patrician Kerry who lost to Bush II, blaming the Greens again.

In 2008, Obama sounded the alarm as a trojan horse, got in running center-left and governed center-right, throwing away historic strong majorities  in the Congress to the Republicans.

In 2016, Bernie Sanders sounded the alarm and the Democrats hit the snooze button so hard that they broke the alarm clock and nominated a neoliberal warmonger candidate who was as unpopular with the electorate as she held them in contempt ushering in Obama’s true legacy: Donald Trump. And here we are.

Do you want to know why there is a Justice Kavanaugh? That’s why.

These Democrats are not stupid. They claim that they represent the meritocracy. Yet in what meritocracy do losers like this rise to the top and stay there after losing election after election?

This “meritocracy” selects for those able to appeal to and manipulate the elites into being allowed to be temporary custodians of power on their behalf.

Their reward is a lifetime of sinecure and wealth.

The only way that these Republicans can win is when these Democrats willfully and maliciously manipulate the electorate into acting against their best interests.

None of those Democrats who sounded the alarm had any real intention of making the kind of structural change needed to put us on a different course, they were playing the angle.

Nader who would have followed through, Sanders, less so, were the exceptions.

But they all did tap into an increasing resentment amongst the voters as to the failure of the duopoly to be responsive to popular sentiment.

When Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party arose, the Republicans welcomed the Tea Party into their midst while the Democrat big city mayors, coordinated by the Obama Department of Justice brutally and violently repressed the encampments.

Politics in this model is not symmetric.

If politics is warfare by other means, the Republicans have torn up any treaties that might have been in place and adopted a policy of total war.

These Democrats still do not know what hit them and they have proven themselves strategically incompetent of ever getting out from behind the eight ball.

The only way to work our way out from under this mess is by creating independent grassroots democratic organizations that can mobilize mass movements to make the elites offers they cannot refuse.

If people with access to many fewer resources than we, facing death squad governments and apartheid, can organize to win, then we have no excuses.

Our primary impediment in this task has been the Democrat Party which views its base, not the Republicans, as its opponent, and leverages its patronage network against independent popular organizing.

The veil of delusion is strong with the Democrat base, they are at a point where they have been made as impervious by MSNBC to logical arguments as any Fox [sic] News addict.

We are going to need to pierce that veil to shake some sense into them and more importantly organize outside of our usual comfort zones where the Democrat spell is weak, where people are wise to their bait and switch and have voted with their feet by staying home.

None of this will be easy, but it is not rocket science, others who have come before us have made these heavy lifts.

We have no excuses.

Trump administration sees a 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100

180925 odd bodkins
180925 Odd Bodkins by Dan O’Neill

Trump administration sees a 7-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100
By Juliet Eilperin, Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney
September 28, 2018

Last month, deep in a 500-page environmental impact statement, the Trump administration made a startling assumption: On its current course, the planet will warm a disastrous 7 degrees by the end of this century.

A rise of 7 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 4 degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels would be catastrophic, according to scientists. Many coral reefs would dissolve in increasingly acidic oceans. Parts of Manhattan and Miami would be underwater without costly coastal defenses. Extreme heat waves would routinely smother large parts of the globe.

But the administration did not offer this dire forecast as part of an argument to combat climate change. Just the opposite: The analysis assumes the planet’s fate is already sealed.

The draft statement, issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), was written to justify President Trump’s decision to freeze federal fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020. While the proposal would increase greenhouse gas emissions, the impact statement says, that policy would add just a very small drop to a very big, hot bucket.

“The amazing thing they’re saying is human activities are going to lead to this rise of carbon dioxide that is disastrous for the environment and society. And then they’re saying they’re not going to do anything about it,” said Michael MacCracken, who served as a senior scientist at the U.S. Global Change Research Program from 1993 to 2002.

The document projects that global temperature will rise by nearly 3.5 degrees Celsius above the average temperature between 1986 and 2005 regardless of whether Obama-era tailpipe standards take effect or are frozen for six years, as the Trump administration has proposed. The global average temperature rose more than 0.5 degrees Celsius between 1880, the start of industrialization, and 1986, so the analysis assumes a roughly 4 degree Celsius or 7 degree Fahrenheit increase from preindustrial levels.

The world would have to make deep cuts in carbon emissions to avoid this drastic warming,the analysis states. And that “would require substantial increases in technology innovation and adoption compared to today’s levels and would require the economy and the vehicle fleet to move away from the use of fossil fuels, which is not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible.”

The White House did not respond to requests for comment.

World leaders have pledged to keep the world from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius compared with preindustrial levels, and agreed to try to keep the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. But the current greenhouse gas cuts pledged under the 2015 Paris climate agreement are not steep enough to meet either goal. Scientists predict a 4 degree Celsius rise by the century’s end if countries take no meaningful actions to curb their carbon output.

Trump has vowed to exit the Paris accord and called climate change a hoax. In the past two months, the White House has pushed to dismantle nearly half a dozen major rules aimed at reducing greenhouse gases, deregulatory moves intended to save companies hundreds of millions of dollars.

If enacted, the administration’s proposals would give new life to aging coal plants; allow oil and gas operations to release more methane into the atmosphere; and prevent new curbs on greenhouse gases used in refrigerators and air-conditioning units. The vehicle rule alone would put 8 billion additional tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere this century, more than a year’s worth of total U.S. emissions, according to the government’s own analysis.

Administration estimates acknowledge that the policies would release far more greenhouse gas emissions from America’s energy and transportation sectors than otherwise would have been allowed.

David Pettit, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council who testified against Trump’s freeze of fuel efficiency standards this week in Fresno, Calif., said his organization is prepared to use the administration’s own numbers to challenge their regulatory rollbacks. He noted that the NHTSA document projects that if the world takes no action to curb emissions, current atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide would rise from 410 parts per million to 789 ppm by 2100.

“I was shocked when I saw it,” Pettit said in a phone interview. “These are their numbers. They aren’t our numbers.”

Conservatives who condemned Obama’s climate initiatives as regulatory overreach have defended the Trump administration’s approach, calling it a more reasonable course.

Obama’s climate policies were costly to industry and yet “mostly symbolic,” because they would have made barely a dent in global carbon dioxide emissions, said Heritage Foundation research fellow Nick Loris, adding: “Frivolous is a good way to describe it.”

NHTSA commissioned ICF International Inc., a consulting firm based in Fairfax, Va., to help prepare the impact statement. An agency spokeswoman said the Environmental Protection Agency “and NHTSA welcome comments on all aspects of the environmental analysis” but declined to provide additional information about the agency’s long-term temperature forecast.

Federal agencies typically do not include century-long climate projections in their environmental impact statements. Instead, they tend to assess a regulation’s impact during the life of the program — the years a coal plant would run, for example, or the amount of time certain vehicles would be on the road.

Using the no-action scenario “is a textbook example of how to lie with statistics,” said MIT Sloan School of Management professor John Sterman. “First, the administration proposes vehicle efficiency policies that would do almost nothing [to fight climate change]. Then [the administration] makes their impact seem even smaller by comparing their proposals to what would happen if the entire world does nothing.”

This week, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres warned leaders gathered in New York, “If we do not change course in the next two years, we risk runaway climate change… Our future is at stake.”

Federal and independent research — including projections included in last month’s analysis of the revised fuel-efficiency standards — echoes that theme. The environmental impact statement cites “evidence of climate-induced changes,” such as more frequent droughts, floods, severe storms and heat waves, and estimates that seas could rise nearly three feet globally by 2100 if the world does not decrease its carbon output.

Two articles published in the journal Science since late July — both co-authored by federal scientists — predicted that the global landscape could be transformed “without major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” and declared that soaring temperatures worldwide bore humans’ “fingerprint.”

“With this administration, it’s almost as if this science is happening in another galaxy,” said Rachel Cleetus, policy director and lead economist for the Union of Concerned Scientists’ climate and energy program. “That feedback isn’t informing the policy.”

Administration officials say they take federal scientific findings into account when crafting energy policy — along with their interpretation of the law and President Trump’s agenda. The EPA’s acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, has been among the Trump officials who have noted that U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants have fallen over time.

But the debate comes after a troubling summer of devastating wildfires, record-breaking heat and a catastrophic hurricane — each of which, federal scientists say, signals a warming world.

Some Democratic elected officials, such as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, said Americans are starting to recognize these events as evidence of climate change. On Feb. 25, Inslee met privately with several Cabinet officials, including then-EPA chief Scott Pruitt, and Western state governors. Inslee accused them of engaging in “morally reprehensible” behavior that threatened his children and grandchildren, according to four meeting participants, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to provide details of the private conversation.

In an interview, Inslee said that the ash from wildfires that covered Washington residents’ car hoods this summer, and the acrid smoke that filled their air, has made more voters of both parties grasp the real-world implications of climate change.

“There is anger in my state about the administration’s failure to protect us,” he said. “When you taste it on your tongue, it’s a reality.”

No, I Will Not Debate You

No, I Will Not Debate You
Civility will never defeat fascism, no matter what The Economist thinks.
19 September, 2018
by Laurie Penny

There are some stupid mistakes that only very smart people make, and one of them is the notion that a sensible argument seriously presented can compete with a really good piece of theatre.

Every day, people on the internet ask why I won’t “debate” some self-actualizing gig-economy fascist or other, as if formal, public debate were the only way to steer public conversation. If you won’t debate, the argument goes, you’re an enemy of free speech. You’re basically no better than a Nazi, and certainly far worse than any of the actual Nazis muttering about not being allowed to preach racism from prestigious pulpits. Well-meaning liberals insist that “sunlight is the best disinfectant,” anti-fascists disagree, the far right orders more popcorn, and round and round we go on the haunted carousel of western liberal thought until we’re all queasy.

This bad-faith argument is a repeating refrain of this low, dishonest decade, and this month it built to another crescendo. In the U.S., The New Yorker bowed to public pressure and disinvited Steve Bannon, Trump’s neo-nationalist former chief strategist, from its literary festival. And in the U.K., The Economist chose to do the opposite.

I’m accidentally responsible for a very small amount of the fuss here. I was due to speak at the Economist’s Open Future festival, where Bannon was scheduled to be interviewed by the editor in chief directly after the “future of MeToo” panel I’d be on with journalists Laura Bates and Ally Fogg. My note to The Economist, in part:

To speak personally, my opposition to Bannon’s place at this conference has nothing to do with wishing to see him silenced — that would be infeasible as well as illiberal.

I’ve spent much of the past five years hearing out and attempting to debate people like Bannon, and in my experience it only emboldens and legitimizes them. As far as I am concerned, I am not interested in hearing those arguments again.

Bates agreed, writing that “there is a very small minority of cases in which it is justified to refuse to participate on a platform alongside a person because they explicitly and deliberately advocate hatred and harm to groups of people on the basis of their race, sex, religion or other characteristics. It is my belief that Steve Bannon meets this high standard, that his deeply racist, misogynistic, white nationalist views pose real threat and harm to a large number of people, and that it is therefore irresponsible and damaging to provide him with the legitimacy of such a highly respected mainstream platform as The Economist.” Fogg said that “to invite contributions from Steve Bannon, and furthermore to schedule his appearance immediately after a discussion about what happens after #MeToo, directly contradicts the very essence and message of the #MeToo movement. This schedule honors a man whose primary claims to fame are establishing an online magazine that specialized in inciting misogynistic and racial hatred and then maneuvering a self-confessed sexual abuser into place as the most powerful politician on earth.”

To me, refusing to appear alongside Bannon was an obvious choice, as obvious as the protest against Donald Trump’s visit to Britain earlier this year, when millions of people made my country inhospitable to a president who has done nothing to deserve our deference. Bannon, unsurprisingly, disagreed, calling New Yorker editor David Remnick a coward for rescinding his invitation.

We probably should have anticipated the disingenuous firestorm that followed. We should have anticipated the accusations of being the real fascists for refusing to make nice with white supremacists, the harassment and YouTube hobgoblining from self-appointed defenders of free speech, who seem to have forgotten that for Bates, for me, and for any other woman who flashes the merest inch of independent thought online, harassment is nothing terribly new. It’s just Tuesday.

There’s a term for this sort of bad-faith argument: it’s called the justification-suppression model. The theory is that bigots refrain from directly defending their own bigotry but get hugely riled up justifying the abstract right to express bigotry. So instead of saying, for example, “I don’t like foreigners,” they’ll fight hard for someone else’s right to get up on stage and yell that foreigners are coming to convert your children and seduce your household pets.

Focusing the conversation on the ethics of disseminating speech rather than the actual content of that speech is hugely useful for the far right for three reasons. Firstly, it allows them to paint themselves as the wronged party — the martyrs and victims. Secondly, it stops people from talking about the actual wronged parties, the real lives at risk. And thirdly, of course, it’s an enormous diversion tactic, a shout of “Fire!” in the crowded theatre of politics. But Liberals don’t want to feel like bad people, so this impossible choice — betray the letter of your principles, or betray the spirit — leaves everyone feeling filthy.

There’s no way to come out of this convinced of your own political purity. The thing is, though, that establishing your own political purity isn’t what progressive politics are supposed to be about. As Ms. Marvel says: Good is not a thing you are. It’s a thing you do. This is not about censorship. It never was. It’s about consequences, about drawing a line in the sand.

That can be harder in practice than it sounds. The problem with taking a stand within and against respectable organizations is that however righteous you may feel, you create a lot of work for people in that organization — especially people lower down the chain of command who don’t get to make the big ethical decisions. And it takes rather a lot of courage to defy the customs of polite society, especially if it means compromising social capital you yourself have worked hard for. Some people speaking at the Open Future festival are female activists of color whose positions and profile deserve the same institutional recognition that Bannon doesn’t.

The Economist defended its decision to keep Bannon on the program:

The future of open societies will not be secured by like-minded people speaking to each other in an echo chamber, but by subjecting ideas and individuals from all sides to rigorous questioning and debate. This will expose bigotry and prejudice, just as it will reaffirm and refresh liberalism. That is the premise The Economist was founded on. When James Wilson launched this newspaper in 1843, he said its mission was to take part in “a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.”

I don’t believe that holding this position makes anyone evil or stupid. I understand why people cling to it like shipwreck survivors on a floating door. The problem is that it relies on two pieces of magical thinking: number one, that intellectual ideas are the same as moral ones, and number two, that the sucking ethical vacuum at the center of public life can be replaced with a commitment to the polite forms of a free society.

There’s a good case to be made for what anarchists call “prefigurative politics” — the idea that part of the way you build a better world is by creating a version of the world you want to see. The Occupy movement did this, creating microcosms of sharing societies based on mutual aid and consensus… before the camps were summarily squashed by police. The culture of “debate” operates on similar lines but at a much higher budget: it’s live-action roleplaying of a Classical fever-dream of a society where pedigreed intellectuals freely exchange ideas in front of a respectful audience, the sort of society that would have made certain ancient Greek philosophers drop their hemlock in excitement.

Personally, I prefer an exchange of ideas that is less hierarchical and performative, because I’ve found that a lot of the people whose voices matter most are people who don’t put themselves forward as spokespeople, if they are invited at all. Or written dialogue, because it gives all parties more time to think and reflect. Or any format where good ideas are what count, not how good you are at showboating and humiliating the other guy.

Remember the U.S. presidential debates of 2016? Remember how the entire liberal establishment thought Hillary Clinton had won, mainly because she made actual points, rather than shambling around the stage shouting about Muslims? What’s the one line from those debates that everyone remembers now? It’s “Nasty Woman.” What’s the visual? It’s Trump literally skulking around Hillary, dominating her with his body. It’s theatre. And right now the bad actors are winning.

* * *

The far right does not respect the free and liberal exchange of ideas. It is not open to compromise, and it does not want a debate. It wants power. Last week, when I was on the evening news discussing my refusal to attend The Economist‘s event, the showrunners sat us in front of a big screen with Bannon’s face on it — twice. And that, of course, is the problem.

Steve Bannon, like the howling monster from the id he ushered into the White House, exploits the values of the liberal establishment by offering an impossible choice: betray their stated principles (free, open debate) or dignify fascism and white supremacy. This weaponizes tolerance to legitimize intolerance. If we deny racists a platform, they feed off the appearance of censorship, but if we give them a platform, they’ve also won by being respectfully invited into the penumbra of mainstream legitimacy. Either way, what matters to them is not debate, but airtime and attention. They have no interest in winning on the issues. Their image of a better world is one with their face on every television screen.

The marketplace of ideas is just as full of con artists, scammers, and Ponzi schemes as any other marketplace, and as always, when the whole thing comes crashing down, it’s ordinary marks who lose everything. Bannon is that rare thing: a true Gordon Gekko in the attention economy, a man who is both troll and true believer, a man whose lack of integrity is part of the ideology: win at all costs and screw the other guy, because fools and their morals are easily parted. There is no deeper truth to be divined from “holding him to account,” no point at which his racism and xenophobia will somehow become unacceptable to a public that has already bought its penny stocks in neo-nationalism.

Mere weeks ago he told a gathering of the far-right National Front in France to be proud “when people call you racist, when people call you xenophobic… wear it as a badge of honor.” Too many well-meaning liberals are clinging with ten fingernails to the idea that their institutions are robust enough to withstand fascism. They believe, because the belief is soothing, that the marketplace of ideas cares about the value, durability, and quality of its wares rather than how shiny the packaging is, how catchy the jingle, how many times it shows up in your peripheral brand awareness until it’s the one you reach for on the shelf. They’re the equivalent of the people who tried to sell cars in the 1920s by taking out full-page ads solemnly explaining how unlikely their machines were to break down rather than trying to sell you a dream of freedom and potency on four wheels.

The left is catastrophically losing the PR battle in the marketplace of ideas. Inviting someone like Steve Bannon to your conference about how to build a free and open society is a little like inviting Ronald McDonald to your convention on solving world hunger.

I’m not saying that there’s no point in talking to the far right at all. I have interviewed members of the far right in my capacity as a journalist. But academic research and investigative journalism are very different from formal public debate. Public debate — at least the way I was taught to do it at my posh school — is not about the free exchange of ideas at all. You only listen to the other guy so you can work out how to beat him, and ideally, humiliate him. I’m choosing my pronouns deliberately here. The format is fundamentally an intellectual dick-smacking contest dressed up in institutional lingerie, and while there are plenty of women out there who can unzip their enormous brains and thwack them on the table with the best of them, the formula is catastrophically macho.

People rarely change their minds in the course of formal public debate. Not the people on stage, and very few of those in the audience. Years of robust debate in my capacity as a commentator and journalist have taught me that you don’t change minds simply by pointing out where someone is wrong. As a dear friend once told me, trying to bring someone over to your side by publicly demonstrating that their ideas are bad and that they should feel bad is like trying to teach a goat how to dance: the goat will not learn to dance, and you will make him angry. The ways people actually change their minds is by reading the mood of those around them and then going away and thinking about it, by being given permission to think what they were already thinking, or by being shamed into realizing how ignoble their assumptions always were.

Plus, being better at debating does not make you right. It just makes you better at debating. Any prep school debate champion can tell you that a bad story well told can beat a sober litany of facts, though it helps if you also have facts on your side.

Curating debate participants is itself a political choice, because the terms of a debate inform public opinion as much as its content. I’ve lost count of the number of evenings I’ve spent in the role of “shouty leftist” juxtaposed with a set of Tory talking points in a suit, with ten or fifteen minutes (if we’re lucky, a whole hour) to decide whether poor children should be allowed to eat during school holidays or whether migrants deserve human rights. What matters is not who wins on the merits. What matters are the terms: who gets to speak, and who must be silent.

The idea of the public sphere has always been elitist in practice, if not in principle. The people most likely to lose out are some of the least likely to have been trained in the art of public speaking or to have spent the past decade building a career in the media. They were too busy holding down four jobs, or trying to escape a civil war, or practicing medicine in a different language in a country they fled to with their family, or raising and then mourning their children. These are the people whose voices are truly being silenced, whose place in the lofty theatre of formal political debate is not subject to public discussion because they were never invited in the first place.

* * *

The far right are not themselves committed to the principle of free speech. Far from it. In my encounters with neo-nationalists and professional alt-right trolls I have found them remarkably litigious — more than willing to use money and legal threats to silence their more serious critics. I’ve been legally prohibited from describing racists as racists. That’s why you’ll see so many news outlets use phrases like “alleged white supremacist” or “the deportation policy, which critics have described as xenophobic.” It’s not because there’s serious doubt over where these people stand, it’s because journalists are silenced by threats from speech “defenders” who have the money and spite to shut down their critics. I will not be bullied by bad-faith actors trying to rules-lawyer my own principles against me into treating neo-Nazis with respect they don’t deserve.

They are unscrupulous. They incite violence. It’s not my place to tell anyone else who to host at their events, but I can make a choice as a free individual about who I choose to associate with in a professional context, and the more of us who make that choice, the stronger the message it sends.

Sunlight is neither literally nor figuratively the best disinfectant. Modern white supremacy does not grow like bacteria — it grows like a weed, aggressively, crowding out everything else that stretches towards the light. Nor is sunlight what the ritual of formal debate offers. What it offers is a chance to build one’s brand.

Curation is a political choice, and so is the choice of who we allow to take lead roles in the theatre of public discourse. I say: If Bannon has to have a public platform, make him work for it. Have him stand on a stage and play the audio footage of the toddlers at the Mexican border screaming for their parents as they’re dragged away to detention. Have him answer to the mothers of children who were gunned down by police because of the color of their skin, or to the friends and family of migrants who drowned in the Mediterranean. That’s not a polite thing to say. It wouldn’t be a polite thing to do. But the idea that politeness and civility is owed to anyone in a position of power is one of the great gotchas of liberal thought.

Moderate liberalism cherishes the idea of “civility” because it allows it to believe in its own goodness and relevance. To refuse to debate someone is an act of discourtesy. It is rude. It implies that you do not consider that person’s ideas or behavior worthy of basic respect. You would be amazed at the contortions people yank themselves into to avoid being rude, especially to people in positions of authority, or simply people whose faces they’ve seen on the television. Television interviewers have repeatedly failed to hold far-right leaders properly to account because one simply does not call someone a liar and a bigot on a respectable news program.

I’ve come to think of this as the deference trap. It’s a huge part of why I refuse to formally debate fascists. It is staggeringly clear that formal debate is failing to stop white supremacy. This is not an abstract philosophical issue. White supremacy is here, at the heart of world governments. The discussion about whether free speech can stop fascism is not actually about free speech; it’s a proxy for a rolling identity crisis among the political mainstream. About whether the mechanisms of state power can withstand fascist takeover. About whether good people with good ideas can stop bad people with worse ones.

Which, right now, they cannot. The arguments about what freedom of speech actually means are endlessly reheated because they’re the last piece of real philosophical meat moderate conservatives have in their cupboard. It’s a mistake to think that the far right cares about the free speech debate as anything other than a way of confusing the enemy. The far right doesn’t have a profound philosophy, it has a media strategy.

The first time that white supremacists are denied a formal public platform, they get to plead martyrdom, to call the opposition cowards. And the second time. And the third time. But there’s only so many times you can whine that people aren’t paying you enough attention before those same people get bored and lose interest. Milo Yiannopoulos, who spent much of 2017 thrashing around in a self-ordained orgy of far-right martyrdom, recently complained on Facebook:

My events almost never happen. It’s protests, or sabotage from Republican competitors or social media outcries. Every time, it costs me tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. And when I get dumped from conferences, BARELY ANYONE makes a sound about it — not my fellow conservative media figures and not even, in many cases, you guys. When was the last time any of you protested in the street at the treatment meted out to me or Pamela Gellar or Mike Cernovich or Alex Jones?… For my trouble, I have lost everything standing up for the truth in America, spent all my savings, destroyed all my friendships, and ruined my whole life.

Cry me a river of blood. What stopped Yiannopoulos was neither formal debate nor the dubious disinfectant of a spotlight. What stopped him was progressives collectively refusing to put up with his horseshit.

If we deny racists a platform, they feed off the appearance of censorship, but if we give them a platform, they’ve won by being respectfully invited into the mainstream. Either way, what matters to them is not debate, but attention. There is no perfect choice.

But there is a choice, and this, to my mind, is the sensible one: To refuse to dignify these people with prestigious public platforms, or to share them. To refuse to offer them airtime or engage them in public debate.

Fortunately, we live in a brave new world where real censorship is something that is almost infeasible unless you are extremely rich and venal and have an army of lawyers. If you want to hear what Bannon thinks, you can. Extensively, at many, many websites and forums. If you want to try to tease out and challenge the deeper truth behind far-right ideas, you’re free to do so, although be prepared to be disappointed. You see, the deeper truth is that there is no deeper truth. No hidden nuance. The new right have already shown us exactly who they are. Now the rest of us get to choose who we want to be.

As for me, I can’t dictate who should and should not be allowed to speak, and I wouldn’t want to. But I can make my own choice as a free citizen. So I choose not to debate them. I choose not to treat them with deference they don’t deserve. I am not interested in hearing out the ideas of the far right, because there are no new ideas on the far right. There are only new recruits. And every time progressives sacrifice the public good on the altar of personal purity, there will be more.

wow!

well, it’s done… and, so far, i think i like it…

i reformatted the USB drive, made a startup disk out of it with “Startup Disk Creator”, actually INSTALLED kubuntu bionic on my computer, without remembering to back up the last few items on my list (which were desktop settings that i probably would have immediately changed anyway), and finished up yesterday with the search for how to get my cloud drive to show up. today, it started with the search for how to get my cloud drive to show up, and, with a few false starts — i had to search for the correct file system, install autofs and cifs-utils, and then discover that i didn’t need them — i managed to get my cloud drive to show up, which meant that i could restore the backup of my email and the backup of my browser bookmarks…

and now it’s more or less finished.

i still have to figure out why the new OS isn’t finding my mailserver all the time — sometimes it finds it without any problems, and other times it can’t find it, and says the socket operation has timed out — but i think that may just be new shit getting it’s shit together, so i’m not going to sweat it until later in the week…

and i still haven’t installed the new hard disk i bought, specifically for the task of upgrading the OS, because i discovered that i could do it with a USB stick instead… so now i have to figure out whether i want to install the new SSD and have another terabyte of goodness hanging around, or whether i want to return it and have an extra $300 in my pocket.

ETA: there is now a problem with kontact: i sent a message, but i apparently moved it from the “sent mail” folder too quickly, because, now, when i start kontact, it loads two windows: the kontact window, and the message composer window, with the message in it… and then it hangs up, and when i try to do anything more than move windows around, it crashes… and it eventually crashes anyway. ☹ NOT GOOD!

ETA: it may just be everything settling into its new places… i started kmail separately from kontact (yes, you can do that, no, i did not know that), and resolved the conflict with the sent mail message, which hadn’t actually been sent. who knows what happened to it the first time around, but when i processed it with just kmail, it did exactly what it was supposed to do. then, i started kontact and it had a tizzy, but instead of killing it and starting over, i went for a walk, and when i came back, it was in the middle of a totally unrelated process that looked like the aggregator synching its database… which is a totally normal thing to do, and i wish kontact would have put up a status bar or something to indicate that it was, actually, doing stuff and not just hanging up. 😐

start — stop — start — stop…

so according to two different experts, there’s a good chance that i’ve got a spammer that has cracked my email server. if that is the case, then changing my IP address will only be a temporary solution, and what everybody is recommending is the third party “gsuites” which is, basically, a google relay to my email service. i continue hosting the web sites, but the MX records for every domain i have gets changed to google’s IP addresses, and they basically take over managing all of my email services for me…

except i still don’t know how much it will cost: potentially $10 per user per month, and i’ve got 5 or 6 email addresses, just for myself… and i WILL NOT pay more for email services alone than i am for the entire hosting package i currently have.

apparently there’s another alternative, which also costs more money, which is a virtual private server, which would allow me to do things like summarily block all email from a country — brazil, china and russia immediatey come to mind…

and then, on the other hand, i’ve also been seriously considering giving up being an internet “reseller”; giving up my hosting clients, and focusing on MY web site (and my wife’s web site) without all this extra stuff adding chaos to the whole scene.

and then there’s the local computer upgrade, which was put on hold while i figure out the whole email fiasco. it turns out KDE has this nifty “Startup Disk Creator” application, which installs a bootable copy of the operating system on a removable USB flash drive… except that it doesn’t work if the USB flash drive is formatted FAT32, and they don’t tell you in the user interface that the beginning of the process is changing the BIOS of the computer to boot from the USB drive… which i had to find out the hard way… 😕 i actually succeeded in wresting control of my computer back from the jaws of certain disaster before that disaster actually happened, and i actually figured out how to reformat the flash drive to EXT4 so that the startup disk creator is more likely to work this time, but with the whole email fiasco, plus the screen door installation tomorrow, plus time for me to settle down and quit panicking over the computer that wouldn’t boot when the BIOS had been changed and i didn’t realise it…

means i’m probably not going to try again for a couple of days.

seriously, this is ridiculous, and there’s no way it’s going to get any less complicated any time soon. it would be just as well for me to get out of the business of providing internet services to other people before i truly get myself in trouble. 😕

September 11, Puerto Rico and the Racism of Callous Indifference

September 11, Puerto Rico and the Racism of Callous Indifference
September 11, 2018
by William Rivers Pitt

It’s been 17 years since the September 11 terrorist attacks and one year since Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico. The death tolls from the two crises are nearly equivalent, but the official US responses to these calamities have been starkly different.

After 9/11, the US government memorialized the victims while pouring trillions of dollars into the process of making millions of new victims by way of permanent war. In the case of Hurricane Maria, the US government has all but washed its hands of the Puerto Ricans — US citizens, all — who still struggle to recover from the storm. Taken together, the aftermath of these two tragedies opens a window on some grim truths the country has yet to face.

Everyone has their own 9/11 story. Mine is tamer than most. Seventeen years ago today I was a teacher on the first day of school. I happened to be grazing through the morning newspapers online before classes started when Flight 11 hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

An hour later, students who had gathered around televisions in the library were wall-eyed with fear when the towers finally fell. It was all over, I soothed them … but as I heard the low growl of fighter jets flying racetrack patterns over the city of Boston, I realized I was lying to children. It had only just begun.

Seventeen years.

High school seniors today have never known anything but a country at war, at several wars up front and by proxy. Those wars have eaten their future. I wonder if they know it yet.

I would like to think we’ve learned something in that wrenching, blood-soaked span of time, but that clearly isn’t the case. The last presidential election saw a Democratic nominee who had voted in favor of the calamitous Iraq war and the total surveillance of the PATRIOT Act. Her opponent, the Republican nominee, was for the war before he was against and then later for it again. Along the way he was also a bombastic liar, proud racist and sexual predator whose only credentials were five bankruptcies and a TV show.

The historical record states 2,996 people perished on September 11, 2001, hijackers included. There remains a lingering doubt as to the final accuracy of that number, as there were reportedly scores of undocumented immigrant workers in the building at the time of the attack, but their families did not inform the authorities they were missing for fear of being deported themselves.

Seventeen years later, and that fear is as present now as it was then, thanks to a president whose policies are grounded and founded in xenophobia and racism. We haven’t learned a damn thing.

One year ago this month, Hurricane Maria tore the island of Puerto Rico to shreds. On September 6, 2017, as the monster storm approached, Donald Trump spoke to the media during a meeting with members of Congress. Addressing the potential dangers represented by the oncoming storm, he said, “Hopefully we can solve them in a rational way, and maybe we won’t be able to.”

The latter half of that sentence has proven prophetic. Puerto Rico has yet to recover from the aftermath of Maria, due in no small part to the barking negligence of the administration and the man who pretends to lead it on TV.

Trump visited Puerto Rico in the immediate, catastrophic wake of the storm, telling Puerto Ricans who were complaining bitterly about wildly insufficient assistance that they “have to give us more help.” This was after he called them “politically motivated ingrates.” During the visit, he threw paper towels at storm victims and fished for compliments wherever he could find them. “I hate to tell you, Puerto Rico, but you’ve thrown our budget a little out of whack,” he said. “But that’s fine, because we’ve saved a lot of lives.”

Odd comment, that. The Trump administration put the death toll in Puerto Rico at 64 people, and that number stayed put as the bodies piled up. Finally, in July of 2018, nearly a year after Maria, the official death toll was revised up to 2,975 people. A scant 21 fewer than September 11. Subtract the terrorists from the equation and the margin drops to two … and, like September 11, that final number is far from firm.

One day after Puerto Rico’s governor added 2,911 names to the victim’s list, Donald Trump praised his administration’s response to Maria in glowing terms. “I think we did a fantastic job in Puerto Rico,” he said. “I think most of the people in Puerto Rico really appreciate what we’ve done.”

Splinter News collected letters from people directly affected by the storm. “I remember seeing the Mayor of San Juan,” wrote one survivor, “trying to help her city and those in desperate need all over the island. The help never came and when it did sometimes it was too late, some had died. My God how can we let this happen.” There are many such letters.

The difference in the US responses to the 9/11 attacks and to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is stark. While the death count was the same in both cases, the responses were dramatically different. That difference cannot be chalked up simply to the fact that the former tragedy was an act of will, while the second was an act of nature.

After September 11, the US unleashed two ill-conceived wars that killed, maimed or displaced millions of innocent people, all in the names of those killed in New York and DC. In the 17 years this country has spent bombing the rubble in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and elsewhere, few here bother to spare a thought for those suffering the immediate consequences of our incoherent wrath.

After Hurricane Maria, in contrast, the US dragged its feet and hesitated to take the most minimal actions for the people of Puerto Rico as thousands perished. Given Trump’s calling-card disdain for those who aren’t a whiter shade of pale, the government’s lack of response to the yearlong disaster in Puerto Rico should come as no shock.

The core calamity, however, goes far beyond one man. In every way that matters, the victims of Hurricane Maria suffer from the US government’s negligence in much the same way the victims of the 9/11 vengeance tour do: Both are targets of indifference born of a strain of racism that goes bone deep and all the way, in both cases, to the White House.

It is all the same carcass to the carrion crows: The war profiteers redoubled their fortunes in Iraq and Afghanistan after September 11, and Wall Street hedge fund pillagers feast on Puerto Rico’s post-Maria debt. George W. Bush, like Donald Trump, walked away from the debacle virtually untouched.

Seventeen years since September 11. One year since Maria and Puerto Rico. We haven’t learned a damn thing.

if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

a wise old linux guru told me this, a few years ago, and i’ve found myself smack in the middle of what happens when you follow that maxim… and it doesn’t feel entirely comfortable, at this point.

i have been happily running kubuntu trusty since 2014, which means that, now, there are TWO LTS releases to bring me up to date… Bionic Beaver, and the interim release, Xenial Xerus, which had some notable problems that were notable enough that i decided that… IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT.

now, i’ve actually heard some good things about the new LTS release, and, strangely enough, Amarok broke about two weeks ago (and the amarok user list has gone quiet the past few months, which makes me wonder who to contact), so i’ve been having to resort to qmmp to play music… so i decided to upgrade.

i’ve had some AWFUL experiences upgrading operating systems, and linux is no exception. the last time i upgraded linux, it took me three days to get my computer back. in an attempt to avoid that possibility this time, i have finished uploading my ENTIRE /home directory to the cloud, and am in the process of uploading my ENTIRE music collection to the cloud.

then, on the advice of the linux gurus over at Kubuntu Forums (who have saved my ass more than once), i’m going to go out and get a 2TB SSD on which to install bionic.

the only problem is that i still am not completely sure that my email is going to transfer, because i know that kontact was one of the notable problems i read about with xenial that made me want to avoid upgrading… and i’m not sure the standard “back up everything including the hidden directories from /home” is going to work this time, because i’ve heard that bionic uses something other than akonadi, which was, apparently, the source of the problems with xenial… which would mean that potentially i could lose 7 years worth of email and contact information. 😒

so, we’ll just have to see how it goes… 😐

Wheel Of Dystopia

180821 sorenson wheel of dystopia
180821 sorenson wheel of dystopia

Wheel Of Dystopia

I’m writing this after spending the day hunkered down indoors next to an air purifier, as I have the good fortune of being in Washington state while it’s home to some of the world’s worst air pollution. For the second year in a row, smoke from wildfires has rendered the normally refreshing air practically unbreathable. My primary source of entertainment these days is checking air quality monitoring websites for signs of ominous red and purple bulges making their way down from Canada. Fires in other parts of Washington aren’t helping.

As if things didn’t already feel apocalyptic enough, there’s something about these wildfire episodes, with their sickly grayish-orange skies and sense of entrapment, that truly give one the sense that the end of the Anthropocene is nigh. Scientists say that warming temperatures plus population growth in burn-prone areas are causing the surge in wildfires; meanwhile, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is, of course, blaming environmentalists. Hard to see how we come back from this brink, since we’re already so far over it.

meta spam

i got spam the other day.

big surprise…

i reported it to the upstream provider, as i usually do. one of the upstream addresses to which i sent a report was [email protected]

today i got a return receipt from that address. it said “Не прочтено” which means “not read”.

seriously, i wonder why a company as big as Rostieliekom would maintain an “[email protected]” address and not have it respond to an abuse report. 😕

Enlightenment

ENLIGHTENMENT
180406 by Om Swami

“How do I gain enlightenment?” someone said to me the other day. “Can you not grant me some deep experience? I want a radical change in my life.”

I get this asked frequently by many enthusiastic seekers. They are in search of a panacea, some mystical reality that will solve all their problems (spiritual and emotional) forever. While many aspirants understand the importance of persistence and individual effort, most others are looking for a quick fix. Here’s a beautiful quote by Adya Shanti that mirrors my own thoughts in ways more than one:

Many seekers do not take full responsibility for their own liberation, but wait for one big, final spiritual experience which will catapult them fully into it. It is this search for the final liberating experience which gives rise to a rampant form of spiritual consumerism in which seekers go from one teacher to another, shopping for enlightenment as if shopping for sweets in a candy store. This spiritual promiscuity is rapidly turning the search for enlightenment into a cult of experience seekers. And, while many people indeed have powerful experiences, in most cases these do not lead to the profound transformation of the individual, which is the expression of enlightenment.

One of the greatest misconceptions about enlightenment is that it will just happen. Not so. It has to be earned, it has to be lived. Sometimes I find it challenging to explain to seekers that true enlightenment is not a one-off special moment, but more a culmination of lifelong experiences and practices that result in the dawning of a great insight. I don’t blame them for thinking that by the magical touch of some guru or maybe by being struck by lightning, they will arrive at a moment of enlightenment. Partly because we have plenty of spiritual books out there that give that impression. Even I may have inadvertently conveyed the same by sharing one of my most defining spiritual experiences in my memoir. For that matter, Buddha’s enlightenment under the Bodhi tree is often construed as an isolated event of extraordinary significance. It was anything but that.

In comprehending and highlighting such experiences, we tend to overlook the tremendous amount of effort that goes in realizing that state. For a moment, think of enlightenment as winning the Nobel Prize. We can’t have it just by visiting other Nobel Laureates and we certainly can’t be awarded it just because we want it. After a lifetime of commitment to a cause or producing a phenomenal body of work, and assuming the circumstances are favorable, the committee might consider your nomination and grant you one. No doubt winning the Nobel Prize will bring about a change in your life and lifestyle to a degree, you will inspire more people and so on. But, beyond that, there’s not much. It’s not going to improve your relationships, it’s not going to fix your physical health etc. Those challenges will remain.

Without preparation and readiness, any spiritual experience is hardly transformational. And if an experience doesn’t trigger some kind of lasting transformation in you, however subtle, it holds little meaning ultimately. When you continue to walk the path sincerely, diligently, many learnings, lessons and experiences give you the wisdom to lead your life differently. Differently so in a manner that it’s more conducive to retaining a state of bliss. Having said that, even if you are enlightened, it doesn’t mean that you won’t experience pain or that you will always find joy in everything that goes on in your life.

R.K. Laxman (1921 – 2015), one of India’s most famous cartoonists ever, writes a lovely passage in his travelogue The Distorted Mirror.

People are curious about my profession and try to clear their doubts by putting all sorts of questions. Recently a lady asked me, “Do you do the drawings for your cartoons yourself?” I answered, “Yes, I do.” Then she questioned, “And the captions to the cartoons, do you write them too?” “Of course,” I said. And, finally, she asked, “The ideas for the cartoons, don’t say you think them up too?”

There is one [question] that is rather rarely asked but which makes me go into deep introspection. This is: “When you look around, does everything appear funny to you?”

A cartoonist does not lead a charmed life of perpetual fun out of the reach of the cares and worries that bedevil his fellow men. The fluctuating prices of onions affect me in the same way as they delight or outrage a primary schoolteacher. Likewise, taxes depress my spirit. Bores at the mike, and traffic jams drive me crazy. Surely a doctor does not always look at life in terms of coughs, colds, allergies and bronchial inflammations. A star of the silver screen, I am sure, has enough sense to know that beyond the range of the camera life does not continue to be full of idyllic scenes, sex, songs and ketchup-blood. Why, then, should a cartoonist see living caricatures and hear rib-tickling dialogue all around him? So I comfort myself with the self-assurance that my view of life is normally as banal as that of the next man in the queue for sugar or kerosene.

Enlightenment is something like that. It does not mean that you don’t feel the pain or remain eternally unaffected by everything that goes around you. All of that we must go through based on our karma, temperament and attitude towards life. The only thing that changes is that you grow into a more spiritual being, you become increasingly resilient and kind. What life hurls at you doesn’t change, how you catch it or dodge it, does. When it builds to a tipping point, you become kind of independent, very independent. Less worried about what the world thinks of you, how it perceives you and so on. In other words, you draw your own cartoons, write your own captions and, much to the fascination or disbelief of others, come up with the ideas too.

As the famous Zen saying goes, “Before enlightenment: chop wood, fetch water. After enlightenment: chop wood, fetch water.”

Being a jivan-mukta, a liberated soul, or an enlightened person does not relieve one of his/her duties. Self-realization is not, as Eknath Easwaran put it, a compensation for one’s good deeds. It is but simply an outlook towards life that you gain from experiential understanding. If you really wish to get a grip on the notion of enlightenment then look upon it as a way of life, a commitment to virtues, as a promise to carry yourself a certain way and leading your life in a manner that befits you.

Liberation is not plonking a glorious flag on top of Mount Everest, it is but a mindful and diligent journey meandering through many treks and hikes, stopping and camping along the way, meeting and greeting fellow travelers, absorbing the breathtaking views, appreciating the challenges, rejoicing in where you are already. All this while you remain inward focused but goal-oriented.

When you realize this, a better sense of wellbeing and happiness shrouds you. You understand that there are no dark moments, that you are already enlightened. You just need to live a certain way to experience it. Then you laugh at the discovery that how unnecessarily seriously you’ve been taking yourself. As Thích Nhất Hạnh said:

I laugh when I think how I once sought paradise as a realm outside of the world of birth. It is right in the world of birth and death that the miraculous truth is revealed. But this is not the laughter of someone who suddenly acquires a great fortune; neither is it the laughter of one who has won a victory. It is, rather, the laughter of one who; after having painfully searched for something for a long time, finds it one morning in the pocket of his coat.

A religious man called a monk and invited him to bless his new home. The monk politely turned down the request saying he’s busy.
“But, what are you doing?” the man insisted.
“Nothing.”
Thinking that the monk was perhaps not in a mood to visit that day, he let it be and phoned again the next day. “Can you come today to bless my home?”
“Sorry,” said the monk, “I’m busy.”
“Doing what?”
“I’m doing nothing,” replied the monk.
“But that was what you were doing yesterday!” said the man.
“Right,” the monk replied. “I’m not finished yet!”

Enlightenment too is an ongoing affair. No doubt, there can be a transformational moment that changes something in you forever. Living that change, however, is a matter of mindfulness and more. True enlightenment, that.

This is it. This life. It’s beautiful. Live it. Love it. For yourself, for others. Laugh it away. That’s all there is to know. Most of the rest, life can do without.

update

story pole update –according to what george braddock says, they didn’t have any native assistance during the design part. i think that’s horse-shit, but george is one of the people who would know, so i’m torn… although i’m leaning heavily in the direction of horse-shit. also, david lewis, the cultural anthropoligist from the confederated tribes of the grande ronde, obviously doesn’t know that there actually were haida people involved, and that they’ve got the blessing of both haida and kalapuya elders. not only that, but the kalapuya, who are native to the area, didn’t have permanent art, because they were nomads, so it’s not really any kind of cultural appropriation. it sounds very much like this guy is in the camp of the lady who is behind this whole thing. 😐

sickness and depression

i’ve been “sick or not” for a week now, and it’s really starting to get on my nerves. i don’t “feel” sick, but if i don’t take immune boosters and/or if i work too hard i get a sore throat and really congested. it never really comes on strong and takes hold, but it also doesn’t seem to want to go away any time soon. i’ve been taking immune boosters along with my 5HTP, and i can feel it helping, but it’s apparently not enough to make the “sickness or not” go away completely. combine that with depression that has been increasing or decreasing in intensity, but never actually going away, ever since #drumpf was elected, and it makes for a really difficult time merely existing in the world.

i’m playing for a burlesque show at the substation in ballard on march 7th, and then a week of moisture festival performances with the fremont philharmonic starting on march 22nd, plus 2 moisture festival performances by snake suspenderz on april 8th, and a gig with snake suspenderz on march 22nd in woodinville that pays $125 an hour, cash…

but i would still prefer it if i died, or, even better, if everybody else died, except for moe, the fremont philharmonic, snake suspenderz, the people with whom i’m doing the burlesque show, the significant others of the aforementioned people… and, MAYBE a few audience members…

woaaah!!! 😲

[email protected]:~$ iconv
^C
[email protected]:~$ iconv –help
Usage: iconv [OPTION…] [FILE…]
Convert encoding of given files from one encoding to another.

Input/Output format specification:
-f, –from-code=NAME encoding of original text
-t, –to-code=NAME encoding for output

Information:
-l, –list list all known coded character sets

Output control:
-c omit invalid characters from output
-o, –output=FILE output file
-s, –silent suppress warnings
–verbose print progress information

-?, –help Give this help list
–usage Give a short usage message
-V, –version Print program version

Mandatory or optional arguments to long options are also mandatory or optional
for any corresponding short options.

For bug reporting instructions, please see:
.
[email protected]:~$ iconv -l
The following list contains all the coded character sets known. This does
not necessarily mean that all combinations of these names can be used for
the FROM and TO command line parameters. One coded character set can be
listed with several different names (aliases).

437, 500, 500V1, 850, 851, 852, 855, 856, 857, 860, 861, 862, 863, 864, 865,
866, 866NAV, 869, 874, 904, 1026, 1046, 1047, 8859_1, 8859_2, 8859_3, 8859_4,
8859_5, 8859_6, 8859_7, 8859_8, 8859_9, 10646-1:1993, 10646-1:1993/UCS4,
ANSI_X3.4-1968, ANSI_X3.4-1986, ANSI_X3.4, ANSI_X3.110-1983, ANSI_X3.110,
ARABIC, ARABIC7, ARMSCII-8, ASCII, ASMO-708, ASMO_449, BALTIC, BIG-5,
BIG-FIVE, BIG5-HKSCS, BIG5, BIG5HKSCS, BIGFIVE, BRF, BS_4730, CA, CN-BIG5,
CN-GB, CN, CP-AR, CP-GR, CP-HU, CP037, CP038, CP273, CP274, CP275, CP278,
CP280, CP281, CP282, CP284, CP285, CP290, CP297, CP367, CP420, CP423, CP424,
CP437, CP500, CP737, CP770, CP771, CP772, CP773, CP774, CP775, CP803, CP813,
CP819, CP850, CP851, CP852, CP855, CP856, CP857, CP860, CP861, CP862, CP863,
CP864, CP865, CP866, CP866NAV, CP868, CP869, CP870, CP871, CP874, CP875,
CP880, CP891, CP901, CP902, CP903, CP904, CP905, CP912, CP915, CP916, CP918,
CP920, CP921, CP922, CP930, CP932, CP933, CP935, CP936, CP937, CP939, CP949,
CP950, CP1004, CP1008, CP1025, CP1026, CP1046, CP1047, CP1070, CP1079,
CP1081, CP1084, CP1089, CP1097, CP1112, CP1122, CP1123, CP1124, CP1125,
CP1129, CP1130, CP1132, CP1133, CP1137, CP1140, CP1141, CP1142, CP1143,
CP1144, CP1145, CP1146, CP1147, CP1148, CP1149, CP1153, CP1154, CP1155,
CP1156, CP1157, CP1158, CP1160, CP1161, CP1162, CP1163, CP1164, CP1166,
CP1167, CP1250, CP1251, CP1252, CP1253, CP1254, CP1255, CP1256, CP1257,
CP1258, CP1282, CP1361, CP1364, CP1371, CP1388, CP1390, CP1399, CP4517,
CP4899, CP4909, CP4971, CP5347, CP9030, CP9066, CP9448, CP10007, CP12712,
CP16804, CPIBM861, CSA7-1, CSA7-2, CSASCII, CSA_T500-1983, CSA_T500,
CSA_Z243.4-1985-1, CSA_Z243.4-1985-2, CSA_Z243.419851, CSA_Z243.419852,
CSDECMCS, CSEBCDICATDE, CSEBCDICATDEA, CSEBCDICCAFR, CSEBCDICDKNO,
CSEBCDICDKNOA, CSEBCDICES, CSEBCDICESA, CSEBCDICESS, CSEBCDICFISE,
CSEBCDICFISEA, CSEBCDICFR, CSEBCDICIT, CSEBCDICPT, CSEBCDICUK, CSEBCDICUS,
CSEUCKR, CSEUCPKDFMTJAPANESE, CSGB2312, CSHPROMAN8, CSIBM037, CSIBM038,
CSIBM273, CSIBM274, CSIBM275, CSIBM277, CSIBM278, CSIBM280, CSIBM281,
CSIBM284, CSIBM285, CSIBM290, CSIBM297, CSIBM420, CSIBM423, CSIBM424,
CSIBM500, CSIBM803, CSIBM851, CSIBM855, CSIBM856, CSIBM857, CSIBM860,
CSIBM863, CSIBM864, CSIBM865, CSIBM866, CSIBM868, CSIBM869, CSIBM870,
CSIBM871, CSIBM880, CSIBM891, CSIBM901, CSIBM902, CSIBM903, CSIBM904,
CSIBM905, CSIBM918, CSIBM921, CSIBM922, CSIBM930, CSIBM932, CSIBM933,
CSIBM935, CSIBM937, CSIBM939, CSIBM943, CSIBM1008, CSIBM1025, CSIBM1026,
CSIBM1097, CSIBM1112, CSIBM1122, CSIBM1123, CSIBM1124, CSIBM1129, CSIBM1130,
CSIBM1132, CSIBM1133, CSIBM1137, CSIBM1140, CSIBM1141, CSIBM1142, CSIBM1143,
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IBM1008, IBM1025, IBM1026, IBM1046, IBM1047, IBM1089, IBM1097, IBM1112,
IBM1122, IBM1123, IBM1124, IBM1129, IBM1130, IBM1132, IBM1133, IBM1137,
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IBM1371, IBM1388, IBM1390, IBM1399, IBM4517, IBM4899, IBM4909, IBM4971,
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ISO-8859-11, ISO-8859-13, ISO-8859-14, ISO-8859-15, ISO-8859-16, ISO-10646,
ISO-10646/UCS2, ISO-10646/UCS4, ISO-10646/UTF-8, ISO-10646/UTF8, ISO-CELTIC,
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ISO-IR-122, ISO-IR-126, ISO-IR-127, ISO-IR-138, ISO-IR-139, ISO-IR-141,
ISO-IR-143, ISO-IR-144, ISO-IR-148, ISO-IR-150, ISO-IR-151, ISO-IR-153,
ISO-IR-155, ISO-IR-156, ISO-IR-157, ISO-IR-166, ISO-IR-179, ISO-IR-193,
ISO-IR-197, ISO-IR-199, ISO-IR-203, ISO-IR-209, ISO-IR-226, ISO/TR_11548-1,
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ISO_8859-9, ISO_8859-9:1989, ISO_8859-9E, ISO_8859-10, ISO_8859-10:1992,
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ISO_8859-16:2001, ISO_9036, ISO_10367-BOX, ISO_10367BOX, ISO_11548-1,
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[email protected]:~$

All Smoke Is Not Created Equal

All Smoke Is Not Created Equal
by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director
January 7, 2016

Long-term exposure to tobacco smoke is demonstrably harmful to health. According to the United States Center for Disease Control, tobacco smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, and chronic exposure to tobacco smoke is linked to increased incidences of cancer as well as vascular disease. Inhaling tobacco smoke is also associated with a variety of adverse pulmonary effects, such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease).

Does smoking cannabis pose similar dangers to lung health? According to a number of recent scientific findings, marijuana smoke and tobacco smoke vary considerably in their health effects. So then why are lawmakers in various states, such a Minnesota and New York, imposing new restrictions explicitly prohibiting the inhalation of herbal preparations of cannabis?

Marijuana Smoke vs. Tobacco Smoke
Writing in the Harm Reduction Journal in 2005, noted cannabis researcher Robert Melamede explained that although tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke have some similar chemical properties, the two substances possess different pharmacological activities and are not equally carcinogenic. Specifically, he affirmed that marijuana smoke contains multiple cannabinoids – many of which possess anti-cancer activity – and therefore likely exerts “a protective effect against pro-carcinogens that require activation.” Melamede concluded, “Components of cannabis smoke minimize some carcinogenic pathways whereas tobacco smoke enhances some.”

Marijuana Smoke and Cancer
Consequently, studies have so far failed to identify an association between cannabis smoke exposure and elevated risks of smoking-related cancers, such as cancers of the lung and neck. In fact, the largest case-controlled study ever to investigate the respiratory effects of marijuana smoking reported that cannabis use was not associated with lung-related cancers, even among subjects who reported smoking more than 22,000 joints over their lifetime. Summarizing the study’s findings in The Washington Post, pulmonologist Dr. Donald Tashkin, Professor Emeritus at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, concluded: “We hypothesized that there would be a positive association between marijuana use and lung cancer, and that the association would be more positive with heavier use. What we found instead was no association at all, and even a suggestion of some protective effect.”

A meta-analysis of additional case-control studies, published in the International Journal of Cancer in 2014, similarly reported, “Results from our pooled analyses provide little evidence for an increased risk of lung cancer among habitual or long-term cannabis smokers,” while a 2009 Brown University study determined that those who had a history of marijuana smoking possessed a significantly decreased risk of head and neck cancers as compared to those subjects who did not.

Marijuana Smoke and Pulmonary Function
According to a 2015 study conducted at Emory University in Atlanta, the inhalation of cannabis smoke, even over extended periods of time, is not associated with detrimental effects on pulmonary function, such as forced expiratory volume (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FCV). Assessing marijuana smoke exposure and lung health in a large representative sample of U.S. adults, age 18 to 59, they maintained, “The pattern of marijuana’s effects seems to be distinctly different when compared to that of tobacco use.” Subjects had inhaled the equivalent of one marijuana cigarette per day for 20 years, yet did not experience FEV1 decline or deleterious change in spirometric values of small airways disease.

Marijuana Smoke and COPD
While tobacco smoking is recognized as a major risk factor for the development of COPD – a chronic inflammation of the airways that may ultimately result in premature death – marijuana smoke exposure (absent concurrent tobacco smoke exposure) appears to present little COPD risk. In 2013, McGill University professor and physician Mark Ware wrote in the journal Annals of the American Thoracic Society: “Cannabis smoking does not seem to increase risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or airway cancers… Efforts to develop cleaner cannabinoid delivery systems can and should continue, but at least for now, (those) who smoke small amounts of cannabis for medical or recreational purposes can breathe a little bit easier.”

Mitigating Marijuana Smoke Exposure
The use of a water-pipe filtration system primarily cools cannabis smoke, which may reduce throat irritation and cough. However, this technology is not particularly efficient at eliminating the potentially toxic byproducts of combustion or other potential lung irritants.

By contrast, vaporization heats herbal cannabis to a point where cannabinoid vapors form, but below the point of combustion – thereby reducing the intake of combustive smoke or other pollutants, such as carbon monoxide and tar. Observational studies show that vaporization allows consumers to experience the rapid onset of effect while avoiding many of the associated respiratory hazards associated with smoking – such as coughing, wheezing, or chronic bronchitis. Clinical trials also report that vaporization results in the delivery of higher plasma concentrations of THC (and likely other cannabinoids) compared to smoked cannabis. As a result, the authors affiliated with the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research and elsewhere now acknowledge that vaporizers provide a “safe and effective” way to for consumers to inhale herbal cannabis.

The Bottom Line
Based on this scientific record, it makes little sense for lawmakers to impose legislative bans on herbal cannabis products, such as those that presently exist for patients in Minnesota and New York and which are now being proposed in several other states (e.g., Georgia and Pennsylvania). Oral cannabis preparations, such as capsules and edibles, possess delayed onset compared to inhaled herbal cannabis, making these options less suitable for patients desiring rapid symptomatic relief. Further, oral administration of cannabis-infused products is associated with significantly greater bioavailability than is inhalation – resulting in more pronounced variation in drug effect from dose to dose (even in cases where the dose is standardized). These restrictions unnecessarily limit patients’ choices and deny them the ability to obtain rapid relief from whole-plant cannabis in a manner that has long proven to be relatively safe and effective.

Congress quietly ends federal government’s ban on medical cannabis

now all we’ve got to do is convince the media that it’s really called “cannabis”…

—–

Congress quietly ends federal government’s ban on medical cannabis
By Evan Halper at The LA Times

Tucked deep inside the 1,603-page federal spending measure is a provision that effectively ends the federal government’s prohibition on medical marijuana CANNABIS and signals a major shift in drug policy.

The bill’s passage over the weekend marks the first time Congress has approved nationally significant legislation backed by legalization advocates. It brings almost to a close two decades of tension between the states and Washington over medical use of marijuana CANNABIS.

Under the provision, states where medical pot CANNABIS is legal would no longer need to worry about federal drug agents raiding retail operations. Agents would be prohibited from doing so.

Should the U.S. legalize marijuana CANNABIS?
Bloomberg’s Olivia Sterns reports on the New York Times’ advocacy of the legalization of marijuana.

The Obama administration has largely followed that rule since last year as a matter of policy. But the measure approved as part of the spending bill, which President Obama plans to sign this week, will codify it as a matter of law.

Pot CANNABIS advocates had lobbied Congress to embrace the administration’s policy, which they warned was vulnerable to revision under a less tolerant future administration.

More important, from the standpoint of activists, Congress’ action marked the emergence of a new alliance in marijuana CANNABIS politics: Republicans are taking a prominent role in backing states’ right to allow use of a drug the federal government still officially classifies as more dangerous than cocaine.

“This is a victory for so many,” said the measure’s coauthor, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa. The measure’s approval, he said, represents “the first time in decades that the federal government has curtailed its oppressive prohibition of marijuana CANNABIS.”

By now, 32 states and the District of Columbia have legalized pot CANNABIS or its ingredients to treat ailments, a movement that began in the 1990s. Even back then, some states had been approving broader decriminalization measures for two decades.

The medical marijuana CANNABIS movement has picked up considerable momentum in recent years. The Drug Enforcement Administration, however, continues to place marijuana CANNABIS in the most dangerous category of narcotics, with no accepted medical use.

Congress for years had resisted calls to allow states to chart their own path on pot CANNABIS. The marijuana CANNABIS measure, which forbids the federal government from using any of its resources to impede state medical marijuana CANNABIS laws, was previously rejected half a dozen times. When Washington, D.C., voters approved medical marijuana CANNABIS in 1998, Congress used its authority over the city’s affairs to block the law from taking effect for 11 years.

Even as Congress has shifted ground on medical marijuana CANNABIS, lawmakers remain uneasy about full legalization. A separate amendment to the spending package, tacked on at the behest of anti-marijuana crusader Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.), will jeopardize the legalization of recreational pot in Washington, D.C., which voters approved last month.

Marijuana CANNABIS proponents nonetheless said they felt more confident than ever that Congress was drifting toward their point of view.

“The war on medical marijuana CANNABIS is over,” said Bill Piper, a lobbyist with the Drug Policy Alliance, who called the move historic.

“Now the fight moves on to legalization of all marijuana CANNABIS,” he said. “This is the strongest signal we have received from Congress [that] the politics have really shifted. … Congress has been slow to catch up with the states and American people, but it is catching up.”

The measure, which Rohrabacher championed with Rep. Sam Farr, a Democrat from Carmel, had the support of large numbers of Democrats for years. Enough Republicans joined them this year to put it over the top. When the House first passed the measure earlier this year, 49 Republicans voted aye.

Some Republicans are pivoting off their traditional anti-drug platform at a time when most voters live in states where medical marijuana CANNABIS is legal, in many cases as a result of ballot measures.

Polls show that while Republican voters are far less likely than the broader public to support outright legalization, they favor allowing marijuana CANNABIS for medical use by a commanding majority. Legalization also has great appeal to millennials, a demographic group with which Republicans are aggressively trying to make inroads.

Approval of the pot CANNABIS measure comes after the Obama administration directed federal prosecutors last year to stop enforcing drug laws that contradict state marijuana policies. Since then, federal raids of marijuana merchants and growers who are operating legally in their states have been limited to those accused of other violations, such as money laundering.

“The federal government should never get in between patients and their medicine,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland).

HTML formatting in email is EVIL!!

i know, i’m fighting a losing battle here, but it has to be said… 😐

when you send email, the person who receives it has to play along with your rules, or they don’t get to read what you had to say. that’s the bottom line.

when you send an email that is formatted using HTML, you are assuming that your recipient has an email client that is “smart enough” to interpret the HTML, otherwise the message looks something like this:

<body>
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AAAAA/iFjUrN4F6lA/s50-c-k-no/photo.jpg" height=3D"50" width=3D"50">
        </td>
        <td width=3D"16"></td>

      <td>
        <div style=3D"
  font-family:arial,Arial,sans-serif; font-size:18px; color:#333333; line-h=
eight:24px;
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         =20
<a href=3D"http://www.youtube.com/attribution_link?a=3DUIzdYgZkFkg&u=3D/cha=

most people could probably read it, if they took a while, but it’s really frustrating…

also, HTML formatting takes a simple phrase like “i’m on my way. see you soon.” and turns it into two or three pages of, for lack of a better term, GARBAGE to one who doesn’t have an email client that is also a browser…

now i know that most email clients these days have software that renders HTML incorporated into their inner workings, including mine… but the important difference is that while my email client came with the ability to render HTML turned on by default, one of the first things i did was to turn that ability OFF, and here’s the primary reason i did so:

if you write an email message that is formatted by HTML, when you put in a URI, you also put in some “descriptive phrase” that is “automatically” linked to the URI, like this — <a href="http://www.somewhere.us/">descriptive phrase</a> — you don’t actually write the code out any longer, because the software does it for you these days, but that’s what it amounts to…

so, if i were to put a link to microsoft in my HTML-formatted email message, it would end up looking like this — <a href="http://www.microsoft.com/">microsoft</a> — and because of the HTML rendering capability of my email client, it would look like this in the resulting email message: microsoft.

those of you who are observant may notice that, while my link says “microsoft”, the link actually points to MicrosoftIsEvil.com. for those of you who aren’t so observant, click on the link, or (because of the fact that you’re reading this in a browser) mouse-over the link and look in the lower left-hand corner of your browser window, and you’ll be able to see the link in a pop-up window…

however, in my email client, and, as far as i know, in most other dedicated email clients, there is no such pop-up window. i could have created a special URI that automatically opens a “back-door” to your computer, and sent that URI to you in an email message with the “descriptive phrase” being something that you might be interested in reading… and because of the fact that you read it in your email, when you clicked on it, thinking that you were going to get an interesting article, you would never know that i had opened the “back-door” of your computer and now have the ability to send email, AS YOU, as well as doing other things like stealing your identity, installing viruses and malware, denying service to other web sites, pirating software, and any number of other things that you Don’t Do To Other Peoples’ Computers®

things may be a little different if you’re using IMAP and a “WebMail” application, but the underlying concept is the same: some evil person impersonates somebody else (whose computer they have already compromised) and sends you a specially designed URI in HTML-formatted email, and because IT APPEARS TO BE from someone you trust, you click the link without looking at where it points to first, and…

BOOOOOM! you’ve got a big mess that you don’t have the first clue how to clean up… and, because of the fact that i’m a computer geek, i get more than my share of phone calls saying “hey, can you help me? my computer is broken…” 😐

and about 95% of the time it’s because someone wasn’t paying attention when they opened an email message.

so PAY ATTENTION, because i have a tendency to “fix” peoples’ computers by installing linux, which doesn’t have anywhere near the same vulnerability to viri that windoes’t or mac does. 👿

and, while linux is a smart operating system, it doesn’t automatically fix stupid users.

unicode geekery

the most current version of UNICODE, (v.7.0) has an emoticons block, which has, predictably, been incorporated into the most recent versions of your most popular operating systems in your most popular “mobile devices” (i.e. cell phones, tablets, etc.)…

but, because of the fact that they’re emoticons, i.e. pictures, rather than words, the interpretation of the emoticons in this block is, apparently, open to wild speculation about what they actually “mean” or “represent”…

which makes things A LOT more confusing, rather than clearing things up, as emoticons were intended to do…

for example, U+1F624 FACE WITH LOOK OF TRIUMPH looks like this, according to UNICODE:

U+1F624

looks like this in Mac OsX and iOS:

U+1F624

and, honestly, to me it looks like a “haughty” face rather than a “triumphant” one… either that, or it’s someone with an outrageous mustache…

another one that is even more confusing is U+1F632 ASTONISHED FACE, which looks like this, according to UNICODE:

U+1F632

and looks like this in Mac OsX and iOS:

U+1F632

which looks to me like a DEAD face… seriously, why don’t they make his eyes OPEN and not X-ed out… 😐

and then we get into non-real (for people in the west, anyway) glyphs, such as U+1F472 MAN WITH GUA PI MAO, which is in the “Miscellaneous Symbols and Pictographs” block and NOT the “Emoticons” block — a confusing aspect that is shared by a lot of the other “emoticons” in the version of unicode that the general public uses — which looks like this:

U+1F472

and in iOS it looks like this

U+1F472

i guess it is somewhat more understandable if you know that GUA PI MAO is a type of Chinese skullcap, but even knowing that doesn’t make it particularly useful to a western person…

and a lot of the things that pass for emoticons, but are something else, according to the UNICODE standard, are weirder than that… for example, the world-famous U+1F4A9 PILE OF POO, which, according to UNICODE, looks like this:

U+1F4A9

and, according to apple, looks like this:

U+1F4A9

i can think of a few select circumstances where the PILE OF POO glyph might be actually useful, and a whole bunch more that would definitely be silly, but why it got included in UNICODE is so far beyond my understanding that i am totally baffled.