strider

Coverage by the failing New York Times (and nearly everyone else)

While I sip on my Covfefe, I find that the New York Times has already declared that Trump will lose the 2020 race. To be sure, Trump’s popularity is tanking, but that’s also what the press said before the 2016 race. I don’t consider this fake news, just premature news.

Like in the 2016 election, I wonder if this prognostication of Trump’s 2020 demise, albeit based on very real unpopularity, is still premature. I notice that there are not a whole lot of Republican opportunists sensing a vacuum and denouncing Trump to take the leadership for themselves. Why is that happening? I am sensing that Republicans, despite some rumblings, are getting a different message, and are still throwing their support behind Trump despite, as the Times reports, the lowest polling for a sitting president in 70 years or so.

Also, why aren’t more notable opponents running for the leadership of the Democrats?

A whole lot of the media coverage smells funny surrounding Trump, according to an analysis by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). For example, has anyone read any media reports as to why the figure $5.7 billion is touted as being needed to build the wall/slats/barrier/whatchamacallit along the Tex-Mex border? Why that amount? How are they spending it? Where did that number come from, outside of Trump’s declaration-by-fiat that that is what it will cost? Why was that figure unchanged after Trump changed the material from concrete to steel slats? The media appears silent on all of this. These are not minor questions, these are at the heart of the reason for the longest government shutdown in American history.

For those of us who read this news, it would be a good question to ponder: how does this premature prognostication help the far right?

Exactly how valuable to the Republicans is this “base” they like to appeal to so much? Why is this “base” not being abandoned without a second thought?

Crappy Album Covers: A New Day #330: All folked up with mistaken identities

Yes, indeedie … This is the 330th CAC article, collect them all! More to follow. I will try to make these once per week:

The person in this picture does not want to be folked with. Channeling The Clash, the album has all of the visual cues of the London Calling album. Except the guitar, of course.

Not a whole lot of info exists on this incarnation of Emerald. Emerald appears as both a folk group and a metal group. The metal group appears online in some detail but this album doesn’t exist in the discographies I have seen for the “metal” group called Emerald.

That being said, this 2006 album is still for sale on Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, and all the other usual suspects.

Alvis Wayne (1937-2013) seems to be a victim of mixed identities. Someone asks him his name, he says “Alvis”, and the other responds “Oh, hi, Elvis!”; and then he has to correct them, and he finds himself all but handing out a pronunciation key: “That’s Alvis, with an ‘A’.” The other responds with “Elvis isn’t spelled with an ‘A’, what are you talking about?” Facepalm.

Apparently, this Texan hit it big in the UK, and his singles and albums were in high demand. His most recent LP, “Proud of My Rockabilly”, was released in 2001.

The Currie Brothers didn’t get Emerald’s memo. Instead, they are folking around with their accordions. Another victim of mistaken identity, there is currently another band in central Ontario that goes by the same name, also a folk band.

The Hot Stuff LP has been out for some 42 years now. I see a copy currently on e-Bay for about $25.00. Around the 1970s, Jim and Tom Currie won the Scottish Championship for accordion. According to Discogs, recordings of these two exist as late as 2015.

 

 

Blogging about blogging: Block editor in wordpress

WordPress, written in PHP, is the lingua franca of the blogging world.

This is a mini-review about the new block editor in WordPress. The block editor is a new feature with this full-version upgrade in the WordPress blogging environment. Block editing is thought of in such grand terms by the WordPress programmers, that they have called it Gutenberg, after the first printing press. It replaces a more conventional editor, which has not posed me a problem in the past, and thus I see this editor as an attempt to fix things that were never broken.

When I write a blog article, my subject matter takes clear precedence over the tools I use. I do not wish to spend hours learning new ways of creating articles (which were already being created with the “old” tools and posing no problem) when really I ought to be concentrating on my writing. I am sure my audience, and most audiences, don’t care about what tools I used to edit an article; they just want to do a bit of reading and browsing.

My use of the editor caused many things to break from its first use. I had lengthy articles turn into a pea soup of words and images where the structure was broken. This, apparently, is due to a broken plugin I have somewhere, or something like that, I was told by a forum moderator. I disabled some plugins, and tried to get in with the “new mindset” that this new block editor is supposed to encourage. I look on with suspicion things which cause features to break which were not previously a problem.

In this new environment, all articles are thought of in terms of entities called “blocks”. As I understand it, a paragraph, a section of text, an image and a video, can all be separate blocks. Each block can be moved about, and edited separately. This is not well-implemented, as I had encountered toolbars pushing text out of the way, changing the visual quality from the way that it would end up when you read it. Toolbars would also have buttons turn up in strange places, and sometimes, I was not given the option to edit the code to add such formatting as text color, since the button allowing it was missing. In other cases, I would get multiple toolbars (toolbars would not disappear when I left a block), some HTML code would not be properly parsed, and instead bare HTML code would be shown in visual mode. Sometimes it would correct itself after some jiggery-pokery with the mouse and some buttons on the toolbar, but overall I found it tiresome, and symptomatic of a system that has not been well thought-out.

As a result, I have done what many bloggers have done, and disabled Gutenberg and gone back to the conventional editor that was there before. This feature, however, is a plugin, rather than part of the codebase. The plugin has a simple enough name: “Disable Gutenberg”.

I have never considered other blogging platforms, since Worpdress does the job so well, but I have heard more than once that other platforms have arisen that have newfangled ways to put a blog article together, such as Medium and Ghost. This apparently caused the world’s largest blogging platform (WordPress) to fear for its dominanace, and, consequently they needed to cobble together some new tools that would make it relevant to new bloggers deciding on what platform to use. The bug in the old code is not rooted in the code itself, but in the insecurity of the coders who program the platform. To anyone who is already blogging using WordPress, this is irrelevant. We don’t care about Medium or Ghost, we only care about writing our articles. It also on principle, should be irrelevant to most of the coders, who are largely volunteers on a huge open source project, and are mostly unpaid. I believe WordPress makes their money from owners of web servers who act as host to WordPress blogging environments such as GoDaddy, and I would imagine they don’t want to lose those accounts. So the rest of us who chose WordPress are made to suffer for a conflict that does not really involve us.

In Memoriam, 2018

4 Jan Ray Thomas (vocalist, flautist for The Moody Blues) 76

Thomas Bopp

5 Jan Thomas Bopp (amateur astronomer; co-discovered comet Hale-Bopp) 68

5 Jan John Young (Apollo 16) 87

13 Jan Jeremy Inkel, Canadian musician (Front Line Assembly, Left Spine Down), 34.

Stan Hovdebo

14 Jan Stan Hovdebo (Canadian MP), age 92. Hovdebo served as the MP for Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, and then of Saskatoon between 1979 and 1993. He succeeded John Diefenbaker in the Prince Albert riding representing the NDP.

19 Jan Dorothy Malone (Actress: Peyton Place, Basic Instinct), 93

19 Jan Alison Shearmur (film producer: Hunger Games, Rogue One, Cinderella), 54

20 Jan John Coleman (co-founder of The Weather Channel) 83

25 Jan Tommy Banks (Canadian Jazz musician, Senator) 81

Mort Walker

27 Jan Mort Walker (Cartoonist: Beetle Bailey, Hi and Lois) Made a lifetime career in cartoons  94

4 Feb John Mahoney (Frasier) 77 

Arthur Black

21 Feb Arthur Black (CBC Radio’s Basic Black) One of the wittiest radio hosts I have heard from. He was a joy to listen to, and made me look forward to Saturday when he would come on CBC. Age 74.

Billy Graham

21 Feb Billy Graham (Teleevangelist) While I did not sense that Billy Graham was speaking to any particular branch of Christianity, his crusades were hard to turn away from when they came on TV, regardless of your religion. When he spoke, you listened, all the way to the end. He was pastor to American presidents and politicians. Age 99

David Ogden Stiers

3 Mar David Ogden Stiers (M*A*S*H). Stiers was the arrogant, abrasive, surgeon which grew on us some time into the MASH series. Age 75

4 Mar Roger Bannister (first to break the 4-minute mile) 88

7 Mar Gary Burden (Album cover designer: After the Gold Rush, Deja Vu) 84

10 Mar Hubert de Givenchy (Givenchy clothing line) 91

Nokie Edwards (front)

12 Mar Nokie Edwards (Lead Guitarist for The Ventures, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2008) 82

14 Mar Adrian Lamo (Computer Hacker, LGBTQ activist, Wikileaks, exposed Chelsea Manning) 37

Stephen Hawking

14 Mar Stephen Hawking (Physicist, writer, lecturer). I don’t know if I need bragging rights to say that, yes, I had actually read all of A Brief History of Time. It was an easy read, a testimony to Hawking’s clarity of thought, but if you never tried to read it, you wouldn’t know, and many who never tried, usually assume that it is a difficult read. I urge anyone who is curious about the universe and had simply assumed that it would be difficult, to go to your library and crack open a copy and read for yourself. Aged 76.

Peter and wife Melanie

28 Mar Peter Munk (Cdn philanthropist, Barrick Gold) Remembered mostly for the Munk Debates on CBC Radio, which regularly happen at the University of Toronto. Aged 90.

Stephen Bochco

2 Apr Stephen Bochco (producer, Hill Street Blues, and NYPD Blue). Bochco had revolutionized the Police Drama serial with these two series. They got into the lives of the police officers, and showed them as conflicted, imperfect, but still doing their jobs. There was a definite change in the kinds of cop shows both before and after Hill Street Blues, produced by anyone.  Aged 74.

4 Apr Ron White (Cdn actor, Republic of Doyle) Played organized crook Vick Saul in several installments of Republic of Doyle. Aged 64.

5 Apr Tim O’Connor (Peyton Place, General Hospital) 90

7 Apr Don Pitts (Talent agent – Orson Welles, Casey Kasem, Mel Blanc) 90

Harry Anderson

16 Apr Harry Anderson (Dave’s World, Night Court). Played the starring role in Night Court as judge Harry Stone. Aged 65.

Barbara Bush

17 Apr Barbara Bush (American First Lady and Second Lady) 92

1 May Robert B. Kennedy (Mass. House of Representatives) 78

10 May Terje Larsen “The Wanderer” (convicted serial burglar) 60

12 May Kevin Tierney (Film producer: Bon Cop/Bad Cop, The Trotsky) 67

13 May Margot Kidder (activist, actor – Superman, Black Christmas, Amityville Horror) 69

15 May Tom Wolfe (Journalist, novelist) 88

16 May Joseph Campanella (actor – Days of Our Lives, Mannix) 92

American Stamp, 1973

19 May Robert Indiana I had always wondered who was responsible for the “LOVE” logo, famous since the 1970s. He also designed sculptures containing lesser-known four-letter words, such as HEAL and HOPE. His Love sculpture is sufficiently famous to have earned itself a commemmorative American stamp in 1973. Aged 89.

Philip Roth

22 May Philip Roth (Author: Portnoy’s Complaint, American Pastoral, The Human Stain). Portnoy’s Complaint was a huge success, and was much analyzed in its day. His novels challenged our views on sexuality, and what it means to be American. Aged 85.

28 May Dick Tuck (American political prankster) 94

Paul Boyer

2 Jun Paul Boyer (American biochemist, 1997 Nobel Prize) Elucidated the mechanisms for ATP (adenosine triphosphate) syntheis. He also won the Nobel Prize in 1997. Age 99.

Nick Meglin

2 Jun Nick Meglin (Mad magazine writer/editor). It was said that he provided a lot of the voice and satirical humor that was Mad magazine. Aged 82.

3 Jun Kent McRay (Producer: Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie) 89

5 Jun Kate Spade (New York Fashion Designer) 55

Danny Kirwan

8 Jun Danny Kirwan (Fleetwood Mac guitarist). Guitarist for Fleetwood Mac from 1968-71, and contributor to four of their albums. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Aged 68

8 Jun Anthony Bourdain (Writer, chef, TV Host) 61

15 Jun Nick Knox (Drummer, The Cramps) 60

24 Jun Stanley Anderson (Actor, The Drew Carey Show, Spiderman) 78

26 Jun Daniel Pilon (Actor, Dallas, Ryan’s Hope) 77

Joe Jackson

27 Jun Joe Jackson (Father of the Jackson Family, Manager of The Jacksons) 89

1 Jul Bruce Baker (Geneticist) 72

2 Jul Alan Longmuir (Bassist, Bay City Rollers) 70

5 Jul Jim Malloy (1964 Grammy award winning Recording engineer for Henry Mancini, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley) 87

7 Jul Alan Johnson (3-time Emmy award winning choreographer: The Producers, Young Frankenstein) 81

13 Jul Ray Frenette (Premier of New Brunswick, 1997-1998) 83

20 Jul Marcario Gomez Quibus (Movie poster artist for Some Like it Hot, The Ten Commandments, Psycho) 92

21 Jul Elmarie Wendel (Actress: 3rd Rock From The Sun, The Lorax) 89

24 Jul Archie Marr (Keyboardist, Bay City Rollers) 66

25 Jul Patrick Williams (Composer, Columbo, Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart) 79

Gervase Markham

27 Jul Gervase Markham (British programmer, Mozilla). In his short life, graduated from Oxford, then became “Governator” of the Mozilla project by age 23. Aged 40.

5 Aug Charlotte Rae (Actress, Different Strokes, The Facts of Life, 101 Dalmatians: The Series) 92

7 Aug Stan Mikita (Hockey player, Chicago Black Hawks, Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame) 78

Mary Pratt

14 Aug Mary Pratt (Newfoundland Painter). Still life artist with a keen sense of light and form; survived by husband and artist Christopher Pratt. A googling for her image mostly brought up painting after painting. Aged 83.

Aretha Franklin

16 Aug Aretha Franklin (Vocalist, called The Queen of Soul, 18x Grammy Award winner) Aged 76.

19 Aug Kofi Anan (Secretary-General of the UN) 80

22 Aug Ed King (Guitarist, Lynyrd Skynyrd) 64

John McCain

25 Aug John McCain (American Navy Officer, Senator, Congressman, Presidential Candidate) Aged 81.

Neil Simon

26 Aug Neil Simon (Playwright, The Odd Couple, Screenwriter, The Goodbye Girl). Aged 91.

4 Sep Bill Daily (Supporting actor, I Dream of JeannieBob Newhart) 91

5 Sep Gilles Pelletier (played Father Leclerc in the film Jesus of Montreal) 93

6 Sep Richard DeVos (Co-founder of Amway) 92

6 Sep Thad Mumford (Producer and writer, Electric Company, MASH, The Cosby Show) 67

6 Sep Burt Reynolds (Smokie and the Bandit, Deliverance) 82

12 Sep Diane Leather (first woman to break the 5-minute mile) 85

23 Sep Gary Kurtz (Collaborated with George Lucas in Star Wars) 78

Marty Balin

29 Sep Marty Balin (a founding member of Jefferson Airplane). Age 76.

Peggy Sue Gerron

1 Oct Peggy Sue Gerron (Namesake of Buddy Holly hit Peggy Sue). Aged 78.

12 Oct Pik Botha (former South African president) 86

14 Oct Donald MacDonald (Canadian politician) 86

15 Oct Paul Allen (co-founder of Microsoft) 65

16 Oct Dennis Hof (Brothel owner, Restaurant owner, won Nevada’s election for 36th district after death on 7 Nov 2018) 72

23 Oct Louis O’Neill (Quebec politician and academic) 93

Hugh Mcdowell

6 Nov Hugh Mcdowell (cellist, Electric Light Orchestra). Aged 65

6 Nov Bernard Landry (former Quebec Premier, 2001-2003) 81

Stan Lee

12 Nov Stan Lee (Marvel Comics: Creator of: The Hulk, Thor, Spider Man) Aged 95

24 Nov Ray Hill (LGBT activist) 78

25 Nov Gloria Katz (screenwriter, Indiana Jones, American Graffiti) 76

26 Nov Bernardo Bertolucci (director, Last Tango in Paris, The Last Emperor) 77

George H W Bush

30 Nov George Herbert Walker Bush (former U. S. President, former CIA director). Aged 91.

7 Dec Victor “The Mascara Snake” Hayden (Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band) 70

7 Dec Paul Henderson (Pulitzer Prize (1982)) 79

9 Dec Lyudmila Alexeyeva (“grandmother” of the Russian human rights movement) 91

13 Dec Nancy Wilson (Jazz singer, Grammies in 1965, 2005, and 2007) 81

Penny Marshall

18 Dec Penny Marshall (“Laverne” of Laverne and Shirley, directed Big) 75

Scientific Linux

Scientific Linux is the Linux distribution used by CERN and Fermilabs, which I had the experience of installing on to a USB stick to see how it ran. The choice of a USB stick was for many reasons. For one, all my computers are running an installed OS I am happy with, and this was a good opportunity to experiment. Second, I was exploring the use of Scientific Linux for its math and science applications, and wondering if there was anything I can take advantage of.

Apart from being a creature of Fermilabs, Scientific Linux appears to be based on the RedHat RHEL distribution. CERN was also a collaborator, but decided later to move to CentOS, another RHEL-compatible distro.

To “see what I could take advantage of”, I chose the option where it would install as a workstation. I chose a couple of other options, such as office software and programming software, and selected my USB for installation, and it installed very slowly. The image I chose was their maximal-sized image, burned on to a Blu-ray disk, and then booted on to my laptop, which recognized my Blu-ray disk as a boot device.

The install took hours, even though I only chose the three options. When it was finally installed on to the USB, I booted, and saw that I just got a minimal GNOME desktop.  No toolbar, no menus, except for the short menu that offered things like an xterm. But there was no menu that listed the available windowed applications. This made it difficult to explore what unique apps are part of Scientific Linux, or to run an installer to find out what could be installed.

So, for my use case, that being installing on a bootable USB stick, it was a no-go.

More political articles on the Silent Majority

I believe the third time anyone writes an article on the same creepy topic, it is time either to cease and desist, or to make this into an ongoing series, embracing the concept whole.

Twice before, I have written with a straight face about how the dead participate in all parts of the electoral process, being both the voters, and those being voted on. And I have written more than once, that dead people have often won elections against their living opponents. While all this sounds both creepy and hilarious, these stories are utterly true. And before you think this is a liberal or conservative conspiracy, I also reiterate, that the dead benefit both sides of American politics. Since there are more dead people than living, we call them the real Silent Majority in this blog. We ought to root for them, since many of these are hard-working dead people who have never committed crimes, and don’t bother anyone.

After paying $1.50 for this issue of The Sun yesterday, I find that the cover story is an opinion piece.

Just yesterday in The Toronto Sun, the front page — yes, the front page, in the biggest screaming headlines you have ever seen in your life, decried the Liberal practice of leaving dead people on the voter rolls. So, now the silent majority have invaded the Canadian Liberal party, according to The Sun. While I understand that the Sun takes every opportunity to attack the Liberals, and have never met a politician to the right of Atilla the Hun they didn’t like, I have to say, the dead are not a voting block. I am certain that the list contains conservatives and liberals in fairly equal numbers. Regardless, no one can control the voting preferences of the Silent Majority, since you can’t speak to them, and they can’t speak to you. Even if you could speak to them, the Silent Majority will just vote as they damn well please. Or, do anything else they damn well please. You may have your perceptions and illusions about the Silent Majority, but we can both agree that you can’t tell them who to vote for. They just won’t listen, and you can’t change that.

You can call me a leading authority on the voting behavior of the Silent Majority. I have been observing them for quite a while now. And a good many years from now, I too will some day go to the Majority. To be honest, it’s pretty boring watching them, because I never see them move. I guess that’s part of their mystique.

Truth and Action

Pontius Pilate answered a life-and-death question with a question: “What is truth?” We recognize his response as a indecisiveness masking avoidance behaviour, since truth is well-defined, requiring evidence. Generally, even the answer to the question “What is truth?” needs argument and evidence.

But truth without evidence is undefinable. It can be anything we want it to be. “What is truth?”, asked as if truth were some abstraction, is a discussion that leads nowhere. Like watching shadows in a cave, we can never be sure what the substance of the shadow is doing if we don’t see it, but we can look to the shadow for evidence. True, we may get the wrong idea, but there’s a pretty good chance of getting most of it right. Our brains are wired to put such things together. And though our perceptions may be wrong sometimes, ignoring those perceptions and assimilations is normally seen as foolish and naive.

We can never see everything there is to see in life, but nevertheless, life expects us to make sense of the world around us given our limited perceptions and world view. And the critical decisions we make affecting our lives are almost never based on perfect information. But we often base decision on the degenerate data available, further informed by past experience, and often are expected to render such judgements, whether it is in our line of work, or our daily lives. More often than not, not deciding is often more damaging to one’s future than deciding. With a decision, at least you have a way to base a future plan for coping with any consequences. In life, there is no fence-sitting. Deciding not to decide is still a decision. And it is a decision with consequences.

 

Why are they still coming?

I noticed that the United States government has grown a lot more intolerant of newcomers to the country. The latest wave has to do with the perceived threat of the migrant caravan of people trying to leave Central America, and enter the United States as refugees through Mexico. I am pretty sure they already know Americans are not exactly going to roll out the red carpet for them. But the caravan is still coming nevertheless. They could face arrest, deportment, interrogation … I don’t think they care. They will stick it out it anyway.

You have to be pretty desperate to want to take risks of travelling mostly on foot for a 4300 km journey. Not just from the American Military. But the even bigger enemy would be the outdoor elements, and the predators that a hot, mountainous climate brings. The 5000 or so members of this caravan will be sure to dwindle in number as the rigors of the wildlife and the elements take their toll.

How the migration is being sold as an invasion…

After leaving Mexico City, they still have another 2700 km to travel. They will arrive tired, hungry, and some will be near death. Hardly a military threat. It’s a long way to go and a lot of danger to overcome, to be on the dole in America, or to be a terrorist, if we believe the stereotypes. It is not as if they are flying in or taking the train. They are pretty much all walking. This caravan is very slow-moving.

The 5000 refugees (counting men, women and children, assuming everyone makes it) will be met with 15,000 troops at the border, who see themselves as serving little or no military purpose. The troops will be there over Thanksgiving and will return on Dec 15, close to Christmas. For the Military to actually do their “military” thing, Trump will have to declare martial law. The lack of reason for being there is not a boost for troop morale. It is a hot climate at the border, and many troops already are protecting themselves from heat exhaustion by no longer wearing their armored vests or flak jackets, since they know they won’t need them anyway. Due to water shortages, their shower time is restricted to 7 minutes. Living conditions are similar to similar American bases in Afghanistan at the start of the millenium. Also scarce is electricity. Unlike Afghanistan, they are not expected to interact with the migrants, so they will not be receiving combat pay.

It would appear as if the $200 million dollars budgeted for sending these troops to camp out a the Mexican border was simply to satisfy Trump’s need for political theater before the midterms. Now that they have served their purpose, it is unclear how big a deal will Trump make of this from now.

“Why are they still coming?” can be asked of all immigrants from around the world, of which Trump has expressed an intolerance, or have written executive orders to block. One has to have desperation, and what they flee from is often far worse. The question is better asked: what American foreign policy (or foreign policy of Western Europe) is being pursued in south Asia, in the Middle East, in Africa, that make them come to the industrialized Western World in such large numbers over the past two or three decades? I am sure many of them would rather be home in their native culture, surrounded by their relatives and friends, and pursuing their living there.

Dennis Hof Joins Silent Majority, Takes Nevada by Landslide

Dennis Hof, Heidi Fleiss, Ron Jeremy (cropped).jpg

Dennis Hof

Dennis Hof (1946-2018) has been part of the Silent Majority for the past two weeks, and is now Republican Representative-elect of the 36th District of the State of Nevada House of Assembly. Readers of my website will know that this is not the first time a dead man has won an election. Indeed, dead people are an integral part of the American democratic system, either acting as voters, or those who are running for election. The dead cannot speak for themselves, and there are many more of them than us, hence the phrase “Silent Majority”.

The dead operate on both sides of the aisle, sometimes aiding Democrats, and sometimes aiding Republicans. Hof is a Republican, and Nevada law says that if a person joins the Silent Majoirty before taking office, a member of the same party must be appointed to take his or her place. It wasn’t too long ago that Mel Carnahan, a Democrat, back in 2000, won a Senate seat in Missouri, running against Republican John Ashcroft after joining the Silent Majority as the result of a plane crash.

Hof, among his many titles, owned several brothels where it was legal in Nevada to do so, and was the star of the reality HBO TV show Cathouse. He wrote an autobiography called The Art of the Pimp. All of this sounds vaguely familiar.

Before becoming Republican he was Libertarian and supported Ron Paul.

Hof was 72.

BOSE Sleep Buds, and a note about fraudulent websites

Bose Sleepbuds have helped me sleep this past week, so they appear to live up to the claim of using white noise and nature sounds to mask outside noises. The question is, was it really worth the $325 price tag?

Other reviewers have complained about the earbuds not fitting properly, despite the three sizes of earbud attachments that come with the device. Others have complained about the discomfort of trying to sleep with earbuds stuck in your ears all night. To the first charge (the price that is), it really comes down to how badly you want to have a good night’s sleep, and if it works for you, then it works.

To the discomfort issue, I must say that we all have different sized heads and ear canals. My buds weren’t exactly perfect, but they also weren’t totally uncomfortable. And it did make a difference in how I slept. The sleepbuds end your sleep with a pleasant sounding alarm, which woke me up feeling alert and relaxed.

I found that getting a full charge is not straightforward, unless you remove the buds from the earpieces each morning. If you try to connect the earbuds with their rubber earpieces still on, as depicted here in the ad (see left), it is not always guaranteed you will get good contact, and hence a full charge by the next evening. There were some mornings I woke up with the batteries nearly dead and the alarm didn’t go off.

Also, if you were expecting to go to sleep with your favourite music, then these buds are not for you. These buds only play the white noises/nature sounds programmed into them. They are essentially loops of shorter sounds set to repeat all night. The loops of leaves rustling or rain falling were more obvious, and were more annoying after I noticed it. The best sounds were the fairly uniform sounds, such as the airplane cabin, river sounds, warm static, waterfall, or ocean sounds.

The earbuds are not big enough to fit Bose’s noise-cancelling technology. Thus, they do not detect or cancel surrounding noise, if you were expecting it to. All they do is produce is a sound, which is designed to mask other sounds. The rubberized coverings over the earbuds are made to fit snugly into your ear canal, and act as another sound barrier as well as not falling out at night (they never did in my case, unless I chose to sleep on my side — I mostly sleep on my back).

I also found that the re-charging is often unreliable, and you have to be absolutely sure the contacts are engaged between the earbuds and the charger. I found that you need to check the screen that tells you the battery levels. It is charging both earbuds if both earbuds are not detected. This often takes a couple of extra minutes out of your morning. Before knowing this, I had taken my earbuds out of the charger at night, to find out that one of the earbuds could be as low as 1% charged.

Last night was the first time in a week without sleep buds, and I have to say I tossed and turned and woke up into the night, so the quality of my sleep did suffer without them. For me, the sleep buds was worth the money, despite its limitations.

I also want to say that fake Bose sites are out there. A couple of days ago, boseaen.com came up in a search engine with a high ranking, as a clearance house for Bose products. I saw sleep buds there for $69. Too good to be true, since these sleep buds have only been selling for the past couple of months. I even saw their uber-expensive aviation headset for $79. I know you can’t get those for under $1400 in Canada. I checked the WHOIS database on my shell account, and found that boseaen.com, while looking mighty convincing, is based in China. I called a local Bose retailer in the Toronto area, and he tells me they are a fraud. Nice to know, before you give them your credit card information, as well as other private information. If you find you have been scammed for any reason, and your credit card is involved, notify your credit card company as soon as possible, to have your card cancelled and issue a new one.

For the record, I purchased my sleepbuds from a real person at a real Bose store, located at Toronto Premium Outlets, an outdoor mall located in Halton Hills, north of Oakville on Regional Highway 3 (Trafalgar Road) and Steeles.

Rape accusations are a distraction

It is just in the character of politics that accusations of sex crime become more important than actual corruption and bias on the job. I do not wish to downplay Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford’s narrative. I was moved, as would anyone be who listened to even part of it. But it is still a distraction in its utter lack of evidence. There was no real testimony or calling of other witnesses. The lawyer (not a senator) who did all of the questioning, failed to boost Brett Michael Kavanaugh’s credibility, so the senators, who had all given up their right to speak, had their right to speak materialize from out of nowhere (and out of protocol), and began impassioned defenses for Kavanaugh. In other words, it was a media circus. While this was not a criminal trial, the US Senate was still expected to use the testimony of Ford and Kavanaugh to render judgement on Kavanaugh’s suitability for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court.

The real issues that got to me would require me to look a little deeper into Kavanaugh’s participation in the line of sexually explicit questioning that impeached former President Bill Clinton. There is a mountain of evidence from here that would easily result in showing that Kavanaugh is a creature of the Republican Party, and could not be expected to render fair judgements on matters of political import, or for that matter of other kinds of importance regarding matters that are in the Republican playbook, such as abortion.

What does it matter if Kavanaugh assaulted Ford? Did Kavanaugh pass out after drinking?

These questions are smokescreens that just keep people guessing. Strategists in the Republican party seemed to have figured out that they can’t promote Kavanaugh by allowing the truth to come out, so after suppressing a rather voluminous paper trail left by him during the Clinton and Bush administrations, and limiting the FBI investigation after Ford’s testimony, and instead, focusing on a he-said-she-said account of “what might have happened 35 years ago” or “whether the Clintons were seeking revenge” was a way to keep the discussion off anything that matters.

Ford’s testimony, along with those of two other women, have been helpful in keeping the conversation moving toward “did he rape her/didn’t he rape her” and away from “what else was Kavanaugh doing under Bush’s payroll?”, or “isn’t there a conflict of interest in appointing supreme court judges at all when the president is under criminal investigation?” the latter two of which are either more recent or has a provable paper trail, and would be more compelling. Not for the Democrats, who have already seen enough, but for the public, who need to be shown these details to convince their Republican senators to vote against him.

Though Kavanaugh has been sworn in, the documents won’t be held forever. In fact, most of them will be released at the end of October.

August in a Hamilton Airport Lounge

After I was compelled to go all the way to Hamilton to catch a plane to Edmonton to visit my parents, I had an earworm in my head – a song that wouldn’t leave my head: Bruce Cockburn’s January in a Halifax Airport Lounge, which appeared many decades ago. It had its imagery: the jets flying overhead, the Cyprus-bound RAF detail waiting to board, and the cocoon-like feeling of being stuck in a small airport in the middle of a snowstorm.

Hamilton is slowly being built up, and I am sure as it expands its tax base, it will try to beautify its old buildings downtown, including City Hall. The airport is still much-neglected, small as it is, and too close to Pearson Airport (I consider 70km too close, since Pearson is so massive) to be viable to any but locals.

And it was true. I felt like I was one of few people from out of town in this airport. The only “store” that exists here is a Tim Horton’s. No souvenir shops, and barely 100 meters exist between the baggage checks and the boarding gate (there is only one, leading to a general area). In the lounge area in front of both the gate and Tim Horton’s, families kept their kids occupied, one lady was doing her knitting, some people were on their devices, everyone seemed generally relaxed. It is in contrast to Pearson’s bustle, tension, and people’s crises over lost luggage, or possibly worse matters.

Political Correctness

Today, I am going to possibly offend both sides of a sensitive discussion about political correctness, and that’s because my opinion here is neither on the “left” nor “right”. I think that means I will piss just about everyone off with this article. If discussions on political correctness make you angry, then feel free to skip this article.

To me, PC has a good and a bad side. We like to put an end to prejudice and stereotypes, and doing so, means to address people with labels that show respect. It would seem a good thing, and would have a civilizing effect on how we treat each other in discourse. In fact, is it wrong to give added opportunity to marginalized groups? Once again, giving eveyone equal opportunity can’t be wrong.

The problem is, as I have always maintained, when any “good idea” becomes a totality (as in totalitarianism), the idea is ruined, no matter how good it is. So, some dude with a high-level degree, who spent way too long researching marginalized groups, was given a job where he or she gets a little power to decide who gets to participate in programming at, say the British Broadcasting Corporation, decides to place racially-mixed people into his/her comedy programming, and cancels programming from the former members of Monty Python. That’s right, if you click on that link, former Python member Terry Gilliam is now telling the world he is a “black lesbian in transition” in order to get back into the BBC’s good graces.

You may have your own take on this discussion. Maybe Gilliam is an aging crank who should come off it and go retire some place. It is as if, the zeal of showing a lack of discrimination has created a new form of discrimination. Can anyone dispute that Monty Python has a place, then and now, in the annals of British comedy? The effort to be non-prejudicial has created another kind of prejudice. And this is the bad side of being too PC. It’s all well and good so long as you have contributed to a civil and egalitarian society. It fails when your actions and words amount to a new kind of hostility, a new kind of discrimination. Then, society is less civil, and the worse for it. In fact, the PC movement will, in the effort to be egalitarian, completely fail to meet its own object, at a time of increased racism, tribalism and prejudice. It is a sad crisis of their own making.

We need political correctness more than ever. But we need the civilizing kind. PC people will always offend racists. Racists will always be offended, and I am not concerned for them. PC’s have the power to put an end to tribalism, but are actually making it worse, by trying to define new marginalized groups at every turn. There is now such a complex maze of marginalized groups that it is hard to keep track, making it nearly impossible to have a casual conversation about people without fearing that you have offended this-or-that group by referring to them with the wrong name.

I don’t need a scorecard for certiain folks. African-American people probably shouldn’t be labelled with the N-word, since that has a very obvious history. Calling aboriginal peole “Indian” is wrong (people from India already have that label). In Canada, we call them “indigenous”,  as a catch-all to refer to Metis, Inuit and First Nations peoples. But this is after several changes. In fact, I just found out I may have offended someone by using the word “aboriginal” earlier in this paragraph, and had to look up “indigenous”. It is thus a bit discomforting to write such articles as these, since any reference to racialized and marginalized groups in a blog will require a mini-research project, which I am OK with, but I think that an open-minded discussion on these topics requires that we not be too casual in using what we know to discuss things about people we don’t know. We live in a big world, and it wouldn’t hurt us to challenge our own stereotypes.

There are groups calling themselves trans-gendered; and I have some rather touchy questions: why do we need to refer to the rest of us as “cis-gendered”? Will anyone listen to me if I say I am offended by that label? Where are the PC police now? I am sure most of us did not agree to that label, not that I can say I am terribly offended. It just sounds like the “cis” labelling is a rhetorical device to make trans people feel better. I am not denying I am “cis”, I just don’t see  the point in using that label at all. And to trans people, please feel free to strip yourselves of labels also.

“Trans people” are, I am sure not a unified group. Each consists of a collection of individuals with their own lives, concerns, interests, hangups, like most of us. I think the ultimate goal of the PC police should be, not to refer to “trans people” or “indigenous people” as a group, but to rid ourselves of all labels one day for all groups. Because to label is to stereotype, and we ultimately should be concerned with the lives of individuals rather than of people we envision as belonging to “groups”. To label people is to tribalize and separate. To not label is to re-engineer a society based on individual concerns and needs, in a way that is doomed to be non-judgemental. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that.

Todd Taliaferro’s Trump Limerick series Part XIV

This is the last entry. I would like this to go on forever, but all things must end.

Trump just can't be bothered with laws 
He scoffs the Emoluments Clause 
Though most folks suspect him 
The brain dead protect him 
At most we've got probable cause

Kim Jong Un and Trump should be friends 
Upon them our future depends 
They both have weird hair 
But clearly don't care 
They're focussed on how the world ends

Trump's lawyer makes violent threats 
A ploy that's as wrong as it gets 
He should be on guard 
He could get disbarred 
Then Stormy would have no regrets

Todd Taliaferro’s Trump Limerick series Part XIII

The closer we get to the facts 
The more freakin' guilty Trump acts 
He thinks we're all dumb 
And under his thumb 
I hope that I'm there when he cracks

Trump tries to pretend he's not nuts 
His clan plays along for tax cuts 
And Putin's web trolls 
Still act like assholes 
From far off (cuz they ain’t got no guts)

Trump's guilty of serious crimes 
A fact that's been proved many times 
His fans are insistent: 
It's all non-existent 
"Fake news" as one voice the mob chimes

Young Trump staffers and their dating troubles

I think we can agree that Business Insider is not exactly a Leftist online publication. The news item has been echoed on MSNBC, GQ, The Cut, Vice – and possibly many other media (Politico apparently broke the story), and it lays bare a rather painful on-the-job hazard of a Trump Employee or supporter working in the DC area.

They can’t get laid.

Being a Trump staffer or supporter takes a toll on their private lives, apparently. Young staffers going on online dating find that the lifespan of the relationship is cut short soon after they have “the talk” with their partner. “The talk” is when the date comes out of the closet and admits to being a Trump staffer or supporter. It appears you would have better luck admitting that you’re bisexual or that you howl at the moon.

So, you don’t even need to work for him. This is also happening to people who came out of the closet during “the talk” saying they voted for Trump. One of the reasons reported for the impending break-up in this case is that they voted against birth control by voting for Trump. If this “talk” is happening over a text messaging, then it could devolve into the partner screaming in all caps calling the Trump supporter a “RACIST” and a “BIGOT”. One staffer was asked: “Did you rip babies from their mothers and send their parents to Mexico?”

DC. Whether you want to call it the District of Columbia or the District of Calamity, it is one of the most Democratic districts in America. Where coming out the building from work at your Trump-appointed government job at the end of the day means you have to endure getting yelled at, or having people flipping the bird at you.

The coping mechanism for dates has become either evasive, vague answers, or simply lying about their job or support. Looks like dating people who work for a racist, corrupt demagogue is falling out of style these days. Staffers will now be well advised to steer clear of bars where people might heckle them; or in restaruants where protestors might suddenly gather and loudly play recordings of crying babies and toddlers held in detention centres while they are quietly eating Mexican food.

In the end, they may be forced to look at each other for companionship. In fact, they do tend to gather with friends at home rather than go out into the town. But every niche needs to be filled. There are now Trump-friendly dating apps. And rumor has it that there are local bars in the DC area which cater to Trump supporters.

In most of these articles, including Business Insider, the article usually ends up with some kind of equivocal statement about the great career prospects and connections of the Trump staffers more than compensating for a decreased level of popularity.

But there is a deeper question here that is not getting looked at. The divisiveness of Trump’s style of governing is being felt to not too small a degree by his employees. Divisiveness, sustained as it is, is a sign of society devolving.

Todd Taliaferro’s Trump Limerick series Part XII

Trump's doc says he's fit as a fiddle 
But I think he's fudging a little 
No doc talks like that 
Plus Trump's crazy fat 
Too fat for a framework that brittle

All of the president's men 
Run out of mean tricks now and then 
Trump chides them, "You jerks, 
Just go with what works: 
Investigate Clinton again!"

Trump's mindless supporters don't know 
Their hero's tough act's just for show 
He not only cries 
When critics crack wise, 
He pouts when his way things don't go.

Todd Taliaferro’s Trump Limerick series Part XI

Republican voters must wonder 
What sort of a spell are they under? 
Fox News says Trump's cool 
But he's Putin's tool 
Should we have to pay for their blunder?

We can't keep on going this way 
Our plight seems more desperate each day 
I think we all know 
That Trump's got to go 
There's just no time left to delay

Because he was honest and wise, 
George Washington never told lies 
But now Trump's the guy 
And his lies are why 
All over the world he's despised

Todd Taliaferro’s Trump Limerick series Part XI

Stress made Devin Nunes get sick 
Trump told him, "This should do the trick" 
"Hey wait," Devin cried 
"That's pure cyanide!" 
"Don't worry," Trump said, "It works quick."

"Those bastards have me in a fix," 
Trump whined, "Democrats are all dicks 
I'm useless, they say 
'Cause I sleep all day 
Please tramadol 50mg buy move your hand faster, Ms Hicks"

Trump's ass was in trouble, no doubt 
He prayed to his god "Help me out" 
But Trump's god is money 
(and this part is funny) 
It turns out that cash has no clout

Todd Taliaferro’s Trump Limerick series Part X

Stress made Devin Nunes get sick 
Trump told him, "This should do the trick" 
"Hey wait," Devin cried 
"That's pure cyanide!" 
"Don't worry," Trump said, "It works quick."

"Those bastards have me in a fix," 
Trump whined, "Democrats are all dicks 
I'm useless, they say 
'Cause I sleep all day 
Please move your hand faster, Ms Hicks"

Trump's ass was in trouble, no doubt 
He prayed to his god "Help me out" 
But Trump's god is money 
(and this part is funny) 
It turns out that cash has no clout