altivo: Wet Altivo (wet altivo)
Farrier scheduled for the horses, 8:30 AM. This part went well. Mark is punctual and efficient, and the horses seem to like him well enough. We were concerned to learn that he needs hip surgery though. (He is much younger than we are.) He was all prepared though and has enlisted help to cover for him during his recovery, which is reassuring from the horses' standpoint.

The farriery meant that we had barn chores done early and the rest of the day was "available." Gary wanted to go to the Driver Services office to have his license updated, as Illinois recently made it possible for military veterans to have a designation added to their license recognizing their service. Supposedly all that was needed was his official discharge papers and his current license. Since the office is in the same strip mall with the ALDI we generally use for most of our groceries, I planned to pick up stuff from the grocery list while he waded through the perpetual line at the vehicle/license bureau.

Our usual route to the ALDI was blocked by road repairs of some sort, with the road marked "CLOSED" but no detour marked. Fortunately this is home territory now so we know the next shortest route and made it to the grocery and Secretary of State branch office soon enough.

I was only half through the shopping list when he came into the ALDI and told me that they wouldn't accept his original discharge papers, nor the certified copy from the County Clerk that he had. He would have to go to the Office of Veteran Affairs to get a certified copy from them. That office is just 5 minutes away, in the National Guard Armory. So we finished the grocery shopping and headed over there.

He let the Garmin choose the route from one side of Woodstock to the other. Bad idea. It sent us down an unpaved gravel road, full of pot holes, and ominously marked "Private Road, No Access" to get us there. It was headed the right direction, so we went anyway. For a couple of miles it wandered between barns and several horse pastures, past many "Private" and "No Trespassing" signs. Fortunately no one came charging out with a shotgun to challenge us. The road did have a name, and was marked on maps. The very end of it arrived at the parking lot of the Armory all right, though I quickly realized that the slightly longer route I would have taken might actually have been faster because it consists of paved state and federal highways. I stayed in the car with a book while Gary went in to get his third "certified" copy of his discharge papers. About 5 minutes later he came back and said the office was closed with sign on the door saying "Back at 2 pm." It was already 1:42 so we decided to wait. Sure enough, they unlocked the door again at 2 and Gary disappeared for about 40 minutes. Two or three others who had been waiting in the parking lot went in at the same time.

It was almost 45 minutes before he returned with his new certificate. It seems they had computer issues and in fact the other people who had been waiting gave up and left. In a situation that has become all too common today, the small office was absolutely dependent on a computer, scanner, printer, and internet access in order to function. However, no one in the local staff knew anything about maintaining the software, or the equipment, or the network. They said they had been having issues for about a week. It took them six phone calls to reach someone who could help, but they did finally get it to run at least long enough to provide what Gary needed. Mind, this is a federal government agency, located on a military property where there are undoubtedly people with the necessary technical skills for support. But since veterans affairs is not a military function, the military personnel can do nothing for them. And of course, since both the US Congress and the Illinois government are locked in ridiculous budget battles between the two useless political parties that rule our lives, neither has any budget for support or maintenance anyway.

Surprisingly enough, when we got back to the Driver Services facility, it only took a few minutes for Gary to get his revised license. That and a $5 fee that was not mentioned in any of the announcements of the new service. That fee will not go to help keep anything running, since the idiot elected to the governor's office last year has impounded all state money and some over which his claim of control is dubious at best. In other words, money continues to flow into the state treasury, but none is being let out except where courts have already ordered this moron to allow payments to be made. Politicians are the most worthless people on earth, I think. Totally out of touch with reality, locked into ridiculous dogmatic positions, refusing to negotiate or compromise, and without the least concern for their real responsibilities to contituencies and the services they are sworn to support and provide.

Anyway, what was meant to be a 90 minute excursion, including time for lunch, ended up eating the entire afternoon. It was a good thing that the barn chores were already done.
altivo: Rearing Clydesdale (angry rearing)
It seems to be the same in most of the Western developed nations. Fewer voters actually exercise their right to vote, and those who do are making shallow choices driven by negative campaigns rather than candidates who tackle real issues.

The real problem, I say, is the fact that elections have been co-opted by wealth. What we have is no longer democracy, but plutocracy. It's an environment in which candidates who have huge sums of money to spend usually prevail by shouting down their opponents and beating the voters to death with strident (content-free) television advertising and clever slogans and posters that say nothing about commitment to ideals or practical solutions. In the US, the long standing controls designed to keep factions from "buying" elections with huge amounts of cash are breaking down.

The collapse of our educational systems continues as both ends of the political spectrum continue to peck away at the funding that built them and kept them going for the last century or so. Declines in literacy, driven by poor educational methods and standards and the ubiquitous pablum supplied by television and Hollywood have developed into a feedback loop that may be very difficult to break.

Unfortunately, this feedback produces a disinterested electorate that doesn't vote, or that is easily swayed by loud single issue publicity campaigns. The frightening success of xenophobic policies presented by the GOP in the US and the UKIP in the UK are good examples of this.

In my own county, voters who turn out seem to vote for the GOP without even investigating policies or candidates. It's an automatic, unthinking act. When asked, they can't really tell you why they do it, or even what the difference is between two candidates (when there actually are two... far too many are running unopposed.)

Is it any wonder that voters don't turn out when they are faced with a ballot that really offers no choices?

Illinois offered two candidates for governor, neither of whom is stellar. One inherited the office from a previous incumbent who was convicted of corruption. The other is an out of touch millionaire businessman who doesn't give a shit about working people, but has lots of money to back him. Such disheartening choices do little to energize reluctant voters.

The results are schizoid. Illinois voters backed (by about 2 to 1 margins) liberal ballot propositions (most of them non-binding) to raise the minimum wage, increase the tax rate for millionaires, strengthen protection for minorities, etc. Yet they voted into office a slate of candidates who oppose every one of those propositions, often in no uncertain terms. This doesn't suggest to me that there is much rational thought being put into how ballots are cast.
altivo: Rearing Clydesdale (angry rearing)
Statistical Abstract of the United States, the annually-produced compendium of data about the US economy and population, is doomed.

I missed the original controversy last year when in a fit of (no doubt GOP-inspired) cost cutting, the Bureau of the Census decided to stop producing this report. The estimated savings? They cut 24 full time jobs and saved a measly three million dollars a year, effectively killing a reputable source of information relied upon by social, economic, and marketing researchers since 1878.

But wait, the annual volume will still be prepared by the private corporations ProQuest and Bernan. The Bureau of the Census will no longer even collect the data, though. ProQuest must come up with the figures on its own. I don't know about you, but I trust a private capitalist corporation to do this impartially about as much as I could single-handedly throw the entire set of volumes from 1878 to 2012 across the street. This is like appointing Fox News to publish the Federal Register (and maybe that will be next.)

The 2012 volume, last to be printed and distributed by the Government Printing Office, cost $36 in paperback or $41 in hardcover. So what is ProQuest's price for the 2013 volume? It just arrived on my desk with an invoice for $180. If the data were still being generated by the federal government and paid for by taxpayers, this would be unconscionable. ProQuest can no doubt justify the price based on the need to collect the data itself, but I question the methodology and do not trust the impartiality of the result.

A lot of what can be derived from the Statistical Abstract is pretty embarrassing to the United States, when you come right down to it. Levels of poverty, education, health care etc. are far worse than we are often led to believe. Availability of high technology such as broadband internet, digital television, or cell phone services is still concentrated in the densely populated areas and often completely lacking in rural communities. The Bureau of the Census has done an admirable (if politically unpopular) job of detailing and reporting these facts over the years. Now we are about to trade those facts for a glossy, shined-up corporate report on the glories of free markets and capitalism. Blech.

I have recommended that we cancel our standing order for Statistical Abstract and return the 2013 volume to the publisher.
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
Today's heat index hit around 114F according to Wunderground, which includes sensors just across the road from us. It felt like it too. We are not putting the horses in their stalls tonight, trying to let them get what little advantage they can from more freely circulating air. Of course, there's not a whiff of a breeze at the moment but at least the temperature is dropping.

By now I'm sure just about everyone knows that the Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (also called the Health Care Reform Act of 2010, and derided as "Obamacare" by Republicans and other right wingnuts.) Some of you know that I'm not particularly impressed with this so-called "reform" either. I believe it lacks adequate cost controls, and leaves far too much to the whim of capitalist market forces and private corporate boards. It has no public coverage option, and does relatively little to protect lower middle class individuals, particularly unmarried ones. As usual, the politicians have been beating the "family, family, family" drum to the exclusion of fairness to anyone who doesn't fit their narrow definitions.

However, the fact that this particular court, conservative as it is and constructed largely of justices appointed by Dubyabush, still managed to uphold the constitutionality of the act is something of a hopeful sign that partisanship and polarization do not yet completely control the US.

So what's to be embarrassed about? Well, you've also seen me complain about the sheer, wilful ignorance of so many US citizens and voters. You know, the ones who refuse to accept the validity of science, don't believe in evolution, and still insist that gays and lesbians should be stoned to death? Today I've seen numerous right wingers announcing that they will "move to Canada" rather than submit to the "big government health care" changes. Ignorant is a generous word to describe what this actually suggests. Do they not know that Canada has genuine socialized medicine, something that the ACA does not really achieve? Are they aware that Canada has legalized and recognized same sex marriages on a national level, and requires equal treatment in all provinces? That Canada's abortion laws are more liberal than those of any US state? Or that the Canadian population includes far more self-described atheists than the US does? (Some estimates run as high as 45% of the adult population.) Evidently, no. Surely none of these Obama haters would consider moving to a country so liberal and socialist, unless they simply had no idea what they were talking about.

I suggest that they move instead to Mexico, which really does have less government, is nowhere near recognizing gay marriages, and remains highly religious and opposed to abortion and birth control. And once they move there, let's use their own proposed anti-immigration laws and measures to keep them from ever coming back. Good riddance.
altivo: Wet Altivo (wet altivo)
North Carolina demonstrates why it is inappropriate to let the majority decide on the civil rights of any minority, and why "activist" courts are needed to protect the rights of unpopular groups. Fortunately, this will not stand for more than a year or two the way things are sliding in the US.

Obama's declaration that he now supports the rights of gays to marry, however, is more irritating. He has mumbled, dodged, and refused to address this issue for years. Does he think that saying this, and following up by supporting the rights of states to decide for themselves, that he is winning any real support? As usual, he is just proving himself spineless. He has made no real effort to get rid of DOMA. The keystone of this whole issue rests on that law, which was never constitutional and has been struck down repeatedly in lower courts. Without DOMA, federal case law requires all states to recognize a marriage solemnized by any state. So NC would still be forced to recognize a gay marriage made in Massachusetts or Washington. Their silly constitutional effort would be overridden by federal law.

Romney, of course, is worse. He would try to twist his executive authorities to enforce conservative church attitudes on everyone. He has said as much. Never mind the fact that his own church treated women as property, allowed polygamous marriage, and denied the humanity of blacks for its first century and more.

Ugh noise

Mar. 27th, 2012 08:37 pm
altivo: The Clydesdale Librarian (Default)
Sigh. With the early advent of spring, the peace and quiet of the afternoon is destroyed by the continuous and obnoxious roaring of lawnmowers. You'd think that out here in the rural farmlands it wouldn't be necessary to waste gasoline, create pointless air pollution, and destroy the peace of a sunny day just for a silly status symbol like the clipped lawn, but there is just no winning that argument.

One of the things that drove me out of Chicago was excessive noise. Now that we've lived out here for nearly 14 years, I'm almost driven to distraction yet again and by what? Excessive noise. Motorcycles with essentially no mufflers, lawnmowers, trucks without mufflers, snowmobiles, airplanes, and even televisions and radios turned up so loud that I can hear them from a quarter mile away.

Work is no better. You'd think that working in a library would be at least reasonably quiet, but it isn't. The idea of a library as a quiet zone seems to have been completely forgotten. We have people standing under the "no cell phones please" sign shouting into their cell phones, school kids racing around the library, pre-school kids screaming and yelling as well as racing around the library, and adult library users who are so hard of hearing that everything they say is shouted as if they thought WE were the deaf ones. Soon it will be May when they open the nearby city pool, crank up the obnoxious music so it can be heard a mile away, and let in the screaming kids. Meanwhile comes the period of tornado sirens, loud motorcycles, and barking dogs.

I don't know which is the nastier prospect: having to put up with this garbage or going deaf with old age. The latter seems unlikely unless it happens from hearing damage due to loud noise levels.
altivo: Rearing Clydesdale (angry rearing)
In honor of today's political circus in Illinois:

Understanding the GOP
  • Anything that puts more money in the rich man's pockets is good.
  • Birth control is bad. It lowers the supply of serfs, wage slaves and cannon fodder.
  • Mittens, Newt, and San[c]torum don't seem to stand for anything so much as they just stand against things (and each other.)
  • If it doesn't work, cut taxes on the rich. If it still doesn't work, cut taxes on the rich.
  • The environment matters... except when it cuts into the profit margin.
  • Science is too hard to understand, so it must be a lie.
  • Our popularity ratings are down. Quick, let's start a war and wave the flag harder.
  • Anything goes as long as it has the word "family" in the title.


Understanding the Democrats
  • We're short on imagination and vision, but proud of our traditions. Ruts-R-Us.
  • If it doesn't work, throw money at it. If it still doesn't work, throw more money at it.
  • Obama doesn't need to stand for anything. He got this far without standing up for his 2008 promises, so why add more?
  • There is no victory without compromise. Let's compromise everything and call it a victory.
  • Accounting is too hard to understand, so it must be a lie.
  • Our popularity ratings are down. Quick, hand out some more money.
  • Anything goes as long as it has the word "family" in the title.
  • Almost anything goes if it calls itself "Homeland Security" because that's too dangerous to criticize.


No apologies to the loud mouthed and empty headed partisans. Minor apologies to those who already saw me declare most of this on Twitter.
altivo: Rearing Clydesdale (angry rearing)
I absolutely never vote for any candidate who uses robocalling techniques to invade my privacy. I don't care who you are or which party. This tactic is so obnoxious and disgusting it will lose my vote forever.

I only vote for candidates who present positions on real issues. If your "campaign" consists entirely of statements that amount to "Sure, I'm a rat, but the other guy is even worse," you can forget my vote because you won't get it.

I use only print sources to evaluate candidates. If your campaign consists entirely of television advertising and sound bites, you will not get my vote. If you decline to answer written questions from journalists and voter advocacy organizations, you will not get my vote. If you respond to direct questions about your position by running your opponent into the ground rather than answering the question, you will not get my vote.

Yes, I'm hard to convince and demand proof of every claim you make. And my vote will go to a third party or write-in candidate if none of the frontrunners satisfies my requirements (see above.)

The American election process is badly broken folks. It is so severely damaged that it no longer represents any kind of consensus, but just reflects who spent the most money, who had the cleverist public relations firm, or who was the best at cheating.
altivo: 'Tivo as a plush toy (Miktar's plushie)
NJ legislature passes gay marriage bill. NJ governor promptly vetoes it. Didn't we see this same pattern a few years ago in California? And what happened then? There is no question in my mind but that there WILL be civil gay marriage across the US eventually, and it looks to me as if it will happen a lot sooner than I expected. Right wingers who keep fighting it are just making themselves look foolish in the end.

Meanwhile, in Maryland, the assembly debates a gay marriage bill and finally shuts up and votes on it. Unlike last year's failure, this time it passes. The state senate has passed gay marriage before, and will surely do so again, and the governor promises to sign it. So what will happen next in MD? Of course the Catholic and Mormon churches will spend a fortune on lies and negative ads to get a ballot initiative passed to kill the law. And haven't we seen that too? Of course we have, in California. And what happened there?

They just don't get it. The culture war is over on this front, defeat for the narrow minded is inevitable. The longer they fight, the worse it will be for everyone, themselves included.

Mudday

Feb. 5th, 2012 09:55 pm
altivo: Commission line art colored by myself (cs-tivo-color)
No, that's not "Monday with a cold" it's Mudday. I took Tess out to the pasture for the first time this year, since the surface water has subsided after the rapid snow melt and she needs to get her hooves wet anyway. She was delighted, of course, until she realized that there's only freeze dried grass out there and it's a lot tougher than even her regular hay. Anyway, the lane out there through the woodlot is ankle deep mud. When I let her loose inside the gate, she squealed and took off at a full gallop, dollops of mud from her hooves flying through the air like angry crows. You can guess who got hit.

I had a longish "to-do" list for today, arranged by priority, and got almost all of it done. The two bits that failed were applying the charger to the battery for Tess's fence (the battery had ice crystals floating in the electrolyte. Thus not safe to be charging it right now) and airbrushing the first coat on that GP7 locomotive (just ran out of time on that, it was the lowest priority.) Most important were getting dinner into the crockpot, editing and distributing a guild newsletter, and barn chores. Laundry got done too, which is often a high priority but is also the household task I hate most.

I could have completely ignored the "stupid bowl" except that it flooded twitter with inane blathering. No simple way to filter all that out, and I browsed through some 300 twittertwats in order to avoid missing two posts that I really wanted to see. That's a terrible signal to noise ratio.

I figured out how to get rid of the ads that Echofon has started forcing into my client. It was simple really. Back up to the previous version. Version 2.4 of the Firefox add-on apparently introduces the ability to insert pointless random advertising at the head of every timeline. Backed up to 2.3.6 and like magic the irritating ads are gone.

This is not a longterm fix, as I'm sure 2.3.6 will be "incompatible" with some future release of Firefox, if it doesn't die sooner of some irritating and pointless change in the Twitter API. (Remember how Oauth killed so many clients when it became a requirement?) The downgrade does, however, give me some breathing space while I hunt for a better twitter client for Linux. The first few I tried seem not to have been updated for Oauth and therefore are useless today. Qwit looked particularly promising, especially after I installed it on my netbook (Linux Mint Katya) and played with it, but when installed on my desktop machine (Xubuntu Lucid Lynx) it fails. Apparently it needs a newer version of openssl than what is available on Lucid. Twitvim does work, but is too complex to use (at least for me, I'm not into twitter at that level of complication.)
altivo: Wet Altivo (wet altivo)
So the stock markets went nuts over a "great" employment report. Guess what, morons. To get back all the jobs that have been lost since the real estate bubble burst, we'd need that much improvement every month for about a year and a half. Do you really think that's going to happen? I don't. What I want to know is, with all this talk about "job creation," what kind of jobs were created? Part time with no benefits? Minimum wage burger slinging? That sort of thing is what I suspect. But just watch. This probably half-phony report will be used as an excuse to try to cancel the payroll tax reduction, and the GOP will continue to push for more tax cuts for the richest Americans.

I see the Susan G. Komen Foundation is now back-pedaling on their decision to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood. No, I don't believe for one minute that they were not influenced in that original decision by the political and religious right. Those groups hate Planned Parenthood passionately. And I can see no reason at all for Komen to cut off funding grants to the group unless it was being influenced by anti-abortion groups in some way. Nothing they say now can erase that doubt. They've lost their credibility with me and also lost the hope of any future support from me.

Grrr!

Dec. 27th, 2011 10:34 pm
altivo: Rearing Clydesdale (angry rearing)
What is it with manufacturers now that they think no documentation is needed for stuff?

I've spent hours in the last week trying to puzzle out the requirements to match air compressors with air brushes for art work. None of them, compressors or air brushes, give even a range of optimal requirements. You have to guess.

I bought Gary a new, larger MP3 player (with video and radio playback features he doesn't want because that's all you can get now) as a Christmas gift. First he couldn't use it because it needed the battery charged. So we did that. Now he can't use it because it is controlled by touchpad gestures and he's used to pressing buttons. No manual is provided. Just a flimsy sheet of paper that mostly consists of bad drawings. Have we become so illiterate now that no one can write a few clear sentences explaining functionality? Do engineers communicate in sign language now or what? If you want a "complete" manual you have to download it from the website. OK, did that. It consists of 58 pages, mostly incoherent babbling about how you can store thousands of "songs" on the device. Next to nothing about how to actually operate the damned thing.

This morning a library patron complained that she couldn't connect to the new wireless system. So I tried. I couldn't connect either, though the beacon signal was clearly detectable. Close examination revealed that the router was accepting connections, but no DHCP responses were being sent. Called the installer. He says: "Go in the mechanical room and unplug the blue box. Then plug it back in." This worked. But I have no idea why it was necessary or just what we were doing. This infuriates me, too.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s, I wrote technical documentation for a living. It's kind of a dull, exacting job, but certainly not so difficult that there's any excuse for just not doing it any more.

Good thing this is a short week.
altivo: Rearing Clydesdale (angry rearing)
So how much more garbage are Americans going to put up with before they start burning bankers at the stake or tearing down bank buildings brick by brick?

Beleaguered Bank of America obviously doesn't yet realize that its problems are caused by its own dishonesty and mismanagement, not by its millions of small depositors. How much bonus are they paying those execs who came up with the idea of charging $5 per month for the privilege of using a debit card?

These are, of course, the same people who have been promoting debit cards relentlessly for years. Telling you that checks are passé and that a debit card is more secure and costs them less to process so they can pass the savings on to you. Now that they've finagled changes in banking regulations to take away almost every advantage of the paper check system (no more returned checks, no more security, no more guarantees, no more paper statements...) they want to start charging you for using their preferred alternative.

Note: I am not a B of A customer and never will be. However, I am, through no fault of my own, now a Chase customer. I have no better thoughts about Chase, and have already begun looking for a smaller, more honest, and less costly place to do my banking. I had an account at First National Bank of Chicago, one of so many years' standing that my account number has only seven digits. I have kept it through repeated buy-outs and mergers as the bank changed names and management nearly once a year in the 21st century. But the arrogance of the giant banks and their total lack of interest in the needs of non-millionaire customers has gone much too far and it is time for all of us to scrape the dust of their corrupt establishments from our sandals and go somewhere else.

Such an odd coincidence that Bank of America's website suddenly became unreachable the day after their unilateral announcement, isn't it? They insist that it wasn't hackers, but all descriptions of the problem have DDOS written all over them in my opinion. They deserve worse than that, but the fact is, their customers don't deserve it. Whoever you are out there, interfering with B of A's network connections, you're hurting the innocent far more than you harm the guilty. Choose a different means of attack. An organized bank run would serve them right. Take your money out of the failing and corrupt institution and put it somewhere smaller where you can actually talk to a real person. (And not get charged for the privilege.) Or put it in a sock and bury it in your back yard, where it will earn every bit as much interest as Bank of America is likely to give you. And last time I checked, there are no service charges for using an old sock.
altivo: Rearing Clydesdale (angry rearing)
Tea Party Congressman complains that his $600,000 net income isn't enough and that it costs $200,000 "just to feed his family" each year.

No wonder people like this have no understanding and no sympathy at all for those who are unemployed or lack health insurance. I'm 61 years old, have two advanced degrees, and have worked full time in advanced technical and educational fields for 39 years now. Never once in all that time have I even made a gross annual income in the six figure range. Of course, I have some ethics that you tea party guys lack. I won't steal from people in order to get more for myself, for instance, the way bankers and politicians have been doing for years now.

So, Congressman John Fleming (R-LA,) don't expect me to break out my violin for you. That is, unless you expect me to break it over your head, which is clearly full of rocks so you won't feel it anyway, and run you through with the bow. It is vampires like you who have created this miserable economic situation. You'll get no sympathy from me, and if your constituents have even half a brain, you won't be re-elected either.

Listen up, folks. Voting for these people is not doing you any good and will do you even more harm in the long run. They do NOT care about you. All they care about is their own greed. Quit electing millionaires to office, will you? It's as if the chickens voted for Col. Sanders, it really is.
altivo: Rearing Clydesdale (angry rearing)
This is a response to an e-mail from Reed Hastings at Netflix, in which he "apologizes" for poor handling of pricing changes for their services. He declares that they will now "fix" this error by splitting into two completely separate services, with different names and websites. This effectively isolates streaming from DVD mailing so that queues and viewing records will no longer be merged for those who use both services.

Mr. Hastings:

This change only compounds the error. While I never had any interest in streaming, and in fact can't use it where I live, it is obvious that separating the two services completely will make both of them less useful to many people.

With respect to the pricing change, I was actually pleased. You raised my monthly charge because streaming was being offered, even though I couldn't use it and never had used it. That was what I found most irritating. When you split the charges for the two services, I was able to reduce my cost by dropping all access to streaming. This was an actual improvement, and much more honest in my opinion.

Now, in your attempt to save face, you are just messing up your business image even more, and will alienate those who use both services by complicating the entire process. Get a clue, Reed. Customers don't like unnecessary changes. This is an unnecessary change.

I also find it extremely irritating that you hide all contact information, making it difficult to provide the feedback you really need in order to run your business correctly. Directing me to a "blog" page that requires me to join Facebook in order to respond is inappropriate and only increases my lack of respect for you. Just as you have failed to realize that not everyone can use streaming or wants to do so, you have failed to realize that not everyone uses Facebook. I repeat, get a clue, Reed.

By the way, rejecting replies to your e-mail and directing me back to the faceless and useless "customer service" website that doesn't accept specific questions or feedback does nothing to improve your image either. Sure, Netflix is big. Apparently, like the phone company, they don't care about customer service or opinions because they don't have to. Again, get a clue, Reed.
altivo: My mare Contessa (nosy tess)
First there was a lot of stupidity on FA because of a page banner that makes a rather backhanded joke about FA and the "My Little Pony" craze. Site users who dislike the ponies and their fans (self-styled "bronies") are furious that MLP art should be displayed in the banner for a week. This is the ultimate in absurdity, because MLP fandom is by its very definition a form of furry fandom. It is no weirder than any of the other furry obsessions, and a lot less kinky than some. While I have no interest in "My Little Pony" or any other commercial television programming, I find it far less offensive than a good percentage of the stuff that appears on FA without question. Grow up, furries, and get over yourselves if you want to be respected as real people.

Then on this evening's news there's an item about talk show host Mehmet Oz, who has announced to the world in general that his "research" found "too much" arsenic in packaged apple juice sold in the US. This is pure drama of the worst kind, similar to the false "research" that has caused parents to stop vaccinating their children against childhood diseases in the false belief that the vaccines cause autism. Oz's "research" results do not distinguish between organic and inorganic arsenicals. Organic arsenic is present in trace amounts in many fruits and vegetables because it is present in the soil on which they grow, and they incorporate it into their tissue. Exposure to such traces of arsenic, selenium, cyanide, and other toxics has been part of human life for millions of years. Obviously, we're adapted to it or we wouldn't be able to eat food. Inorganic arsenic compounds were used in pesticides at one time, but are now banned in the US. The inorganic forms are certainly more dangerous, but again, if they are present the levels are tiny. Now there are politicians demanding an "investigation" into the presence of arsenic in apple juice, and no doubt parents who are going to mistakenly deny apple juice to their children.

Guess what, folks. Ordinary table salt is toxic too. So are a lot of the cooking ingredients found in your kitchen cabinets. No one in their right mind would eat the contents of two or three containers of nutmeg at one sitting, for instance. (I guarantee they'd get a very upset tummy.) However, nutmeg is "toxic" in the sense that enough of it has negative effects on your health and neural function. So likewise with salt, which causes hypertension, dehydration, and other dangerous effects. Not only that, but it usually contains iodine, a known poison, which is deliberately added to the product.

I swear, ignorance makes people so absurdly silly and panic-prone that it's just plain funny. Let's just ban all forms of "food" to keep anyone from accidentally ingesting anything poisonous. Jeez.
altivo: Rearing Clydesdale (angry rearing)
There is a special place reserved in my hell for software designers who just don't get it.

I've used mail merge in MS Office for years to perform some tasks that involve custom printing of forms that are not actually letters or mailing labels. It's the only task I continued to use Microsoft Word for, because it worked in Microsoft Word but not in anyone else's software. OpenOffice, Ami-Pro, and other vendors "dumbed down" the mail merge task so that it wouldn't do what I wanted.

It now appears that Microsoft has also ruined this feature, making it either impossible or infinitely difficult to perform simple tasks that are not form letters or mailing labels. It worked fine in Office 2000, but fails in versions since then.

Worse, the documentation in both MS Office and OpenOffice only covers the "wizard" approach which is so lame it can't do much of anything. This, in my opinion, is like building cars that have no reverse gear because most people have trouble steering backwards.
altivo: Wet Altivo (wet altivo)
They're at it again. Last week wasn't enough, apparently.

So the markets drop like a ton of bricks while the radio is full of frantic advertisements trying to get you to "buy gold now" or "invest safely in bla-bla-bla." Folks, there are no such investments that are safe. All of that stuff is like pouring money into a casino. The house (in this case, the brokerages and agents) always wins, even as you lose. I think we've had quite enough of bankers walking away with millions of dollars in cash while our savings are frittered away uselessly. Just say no.

Bury your money in an old sock if you have to. It can't be any more risky than letting those guys have it.

Oh, and the latest news about inflation? Consumer prices rose half a percent in July. That's even after the government did everything they could to disguise the truth, fiddling and diddling with the figures and the way they are measured and calculated. Half a percent. Continued over the length of a year, that's an inflation rate of 6% which is NOT small and certainly is not a case of "no inflation" which is what Bernanke keeps lying to us about. There certainly is inflation, and even if it isn't enough to hurt millionaires, it is becoming quite painful for us ordinary folks.

All the answer we are getting is "Let them eat cake." Someone really is asking for very ugly things to start happening right here in the US.

Ironic

Jul. 29th, 2011 10:37 pm
altivo: Wet Altivo (wet altivo)
So while Congress are making idiots and fools of themselves squabbling and refusing to make a deal over the debt ceiling, the economic analysts have come to the conclusion that I reached quite some time ago. There is no recovery after all. We remain on the brink of a serious recession, and economic growth has, if anything, just barely kept pace with population growth in the last 12 months (this amounts to no growth at all.)

Any number of experts, both conservative and progressive, in the financial industry and academia, have been announcing today that this is NOT the time to make big cuts in federal spending, at the risk of triggering another economic slide. While the deficit needs to be addressed, it cannot be done all at once, and must be approached in a long term plan.

I have said this again and again since at least 2008. Of course, why should anyone listen to me? I'm no one. I was predicting the collapse of the housing bubble more than a year before it started to become obvious too. Oh well.

Get ready for more inflation, and less income folks. This is exactly what happened in the Great Depression too. When Roosevelt gave in to the conservatives and agreed to cut federal spending, the economy collapsed for a second time.

So I did my part today. I ordered two plushies. ;p Well, it's not much, but I don't have much either.
altivo: Rearing Clydesdale (angry rearing)
It's time to tell these moronic politicians to shit or get off the pot, as my Dad used to say. And shit is what they're full of. Drastic cuts to spending as proposed by the Republicans would certainly trigger another bout of recession or worse. Historically that's what has happened every time it was tried as a "solution" when the economy was already in the dumps.

It would be amusing if it weren't so disgusting. Hyper-wealthy men, or their minions who are beholden to them, proposing to take away social support programs that help to make life at least tolerable for those who are less fortunate than they are. Actually, it's much worse than that. What we are seeing is the extremely wealthy trying their damnedest to move us backward to the economic conditions of the 1700s. The golden age when poor people were left to die on the street if they couldn't get a job or pay for medical care, and when wage slaves had no rights at all and had to work 50 or more hours a week for a pittance, while their employers lived the comfortable and idle life of leisure. Women had no rights at all, children were fit only to serve as slave labor in factories and mills, and woe unto anyone who questioned the social situation. This is what the Republicans stand for, make no mistake about it. The comfortable life for rich white men, and to hell with everyone else.

I hope at least that the Rupert Murdoch empire is about to crumble. He's abused his wealth and power long enough, it's time he was shut down. And I hope he takes Fox News and the tabloid press along with him to hell where he belongs.

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