November 2017

Thoughts My Brain Made

If you can laugh at your own expense, don't go into politics. In politics, doing anything at your own expense is considered bad form.

© Thursday,  November 30, 2017  Kevin McGehee


I Just Might Start Using It Again

Charles discovers that a certain given name once entirely too popular in the U.S. and Europe, has now become decidedly less popular in Europe.

My reader may have noticed that I now use my full name on the per-item copyright line right here in the Tally Book, but I've mostly remained merely "McGehee" in comment threads elsewhere -- and when he links me Charles still nods to the complete name of this blog, which only goes as far as "McG".

I stopped using my given name online years ago when it became apparent every third blogger was named Kevin. That seems to have dissipated now. Maybe I'll bring it back, just as a friendly wave to those lovely Europeans.

© Tuesday,  November 28, 2017  Kevin McGehee


If I Were in Charge

The only times it would be permissible in the United States to pronounce the word "coyote" with three syllables would be in one of the following instances:

One, if you're a cartoon character with intellectual pretensions pursuing a cartoon rabbit -- in which case you may pronounce it "ki-yo-tay." As in "Wile E. Ki-yo-tay, Super Genius."

Two, if you're referring to a people-smuggler who conveys illegal aliens into the country across our southern border, in which case the approved pronunciation is "ki-yo-tee."

In all other instances, the correct American pronunciation of the word allows only two syllables, as the terminal E is silent.

Update your stylebooks accordingly.

Update: Charles offers a pretty good "If I were in charge..." of his own.

© Monday,  November 27, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Leave the Kid(s) Alone

So one or another of the Obama daughters (both?) has been spotted smoking and doing other things legal-adult kids do in the 21st century, and people are getting their panties in a bunch over it.

Their father isn't president anymore, people (though he may have trouble admitting it to himself), and it's unlikely, even if they had political ambitions of their own, that the America we're morphing into will be one-tenth as enthusiastic about political dynasties as the nattering classes thought it was just over twelve and a half months ago. If they do start trying to get into politics, we'll deal with it then. Meanwhile, just try -- like most of America has been -- to forget they exist.

Okay?

© Sunday,  November 26, 2017  Kevin McGehee


How Lovely Are Thy Branches

Our previous home had just one room facing the front of the house -- if you don't count the garage. That room had a tall window, so that was where we displayed our tall Christmas tree.

In our present home there are several rooms along the front of the house with windows, but only the living room window is really suitable for displaying a tree. The window itself is tall enough for the trees we had in the old house, but it's a slightly bowed (not quite bay) window, and the joint between the window bow and the rest of the room, has a valence that has tended to obscure the tops of those taller trees. Not wanting to tear down the valence, we've put up with visitors seeing a headless tree.

Last Christmas the tall pre-strung tree we've been displaying lost the whole middle section of lights, so it was time to replace the tree. That's the downside to buying a pre-strung tree, but the upside -- of not having to untangle the light strings I took down the previous January -- still seems the better side of the bargain. Anyway, this year I bought a shorter tree, kind of cheap, with those auto-twinkle LED lights and colored fiber optics, and a star on top that visitors can plainly see from outside. If our next house has a taller window for the display tree we may get a taller tree from the same manufacturer, while setting up this one elsewhere in the house for our own enjoyment.

Assuming the cats will leave it alone. Another of the appeals of having our tree in the living room is, we can keep the cats out. During Buckaroo's first Christmas we had a compact pre-strung tree in the family room and he climbed up into it and got a leg tangled in the light cords. Efforts to extract his leg proving futile, I had to cut the cord, and that tree never lit up again. That was the last time we had a tree anywhere but the living room. Still, this new tree's light cords seem to be more securely strung. And Bucky is too rotund now to do much tree climbing, though I wouldn't put it past him to try.

It's nice to have tree lights that don't just sit there.

© Sunday,  November 26, 2017  Kevin McGehee


A Man After My Own Heart

It's behind a paywall, so I'm torn between wanting you to be able to read it all, and violating terms of service after paying good money to be able to read it myself. So, some highlights.

Behold, the 10 Commandments of American Automobiling:

1. Thou shalt not sitteth at a stop sign waving me through the intersection before thee when thou clearly stopped first and also is on the right, thus possessing the right of way, out of some twisted sense of generosity that makes fools of both of us.

I get people doing this to me even when not at a stop sign. They think they're being nice, but in the time it takes for them to communicate to me that I should go ahead, they could have continued on their way and I could have made my move behind them. Unless there are other people behind them, stuck waiting for me to realize why the driver I expected to just go on by, hasn't. I've been in their position too and didn't like that either. It's gotten to the point where when someone tries to "be nice" like that to me, I angrily wave them on regardless of the external circumstances. Just do what I was expecting you to do so I can go on about my business.

3. Thou shalt not passeth at a minutely faster, yet hardly different, speed. Though shalt not spendeth 35 minutes getting closer and closer in the rearview mirror as thou prepare to pass, then taketh another 15 minutes driving directly next to me in the other lane because thou doesn't want to just speed up slightly and getteth this over with.

Yea, verily. If you're not willing to exceed the posted limit, ever, suspend your cruise control when there's another motorist driving one-tenth of a mile per hour slower than you. Better still, reset yours to 0.1 mph slower than him.

I have no qualms about accelerating a few miles per hour past the posted limit just long enough to put some distance between me and the other driver, as long as when I revert to my cruise setting the distance between us will continue to widen. Every so often some doofus will speed up after I've passed him, but if I can't find some other way to shake him off there's always the old "Oh, here's a good place for a comfort stop" trick.

I also have no qualms, if I see someone looming slowly as described in the above excerpt, against ticking my cruise setting up a couple of mph to pull away from them -- as long as it doesn't put me into blue-light territory.

The author fails to include the commandment against clustering up with other vehicles. I think this is one of those stupid unconscious things herd-mentality drivers do, but my tendency for selective socializing expresses itself in traffic too. I don't know you, buddy -- and I don't need a motorcade TYVM.

6. Thou shalt not, while driving a gigantic semi truck and trailer, attempt to passeth another gigantic semi truck and trailer while going up a hill, backing up traffic for miles behind as the two of thee sloweth to 45 in the 75 on the upgrade and taketh turns pulling slightly ahead of one another and then drifting irresolutely back again, over and over, maddeningly, for minutes on end.

A trucker once roared past posted-limit-observing Mrs. McG and me on a Canada two-lane just before a long, steep uphill climb. You know he wouldn't have done that down here in the gun-crazy U.S. of A.

© Saturday,  November 25, 2017  Kevin McGehee


I Think That's Called Telegraphing

The Wyoming Lottery's mascot is a jackalope, and its slogan is "Just maybe."

© Friday,  November 24, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Who Knew?, 2

All this time I thought my preference for daily moments of solitude was driving me batty. Now a study suggests otherwise.

"When people think about the costs associated with social withdrawal, oftentimes they adopt a developmental perspective," she continues. "During childhood and adolescence, the idea is that if you're removing yourself too much from your peers, then you're missing out on positive interactions like receiving social support, developing social skills and other benefits of interacting with your peers."

Bowker believes that the presumed downsides of being alone and withdrawing have lent such a preference a hard-to-erase stigma.

More recent research, including this latest study, has begun to recognize the potential benefits of alone time -- provided it's an intentional choice prompted by positive emotions.

Deeming individuals who follow such guidelines "unsociable," Bowker explains that they may enjoy reading, working on the computer, or otherwise spending precious time alone.

The assumption that interactions with other people are mostly positive can be quickly rebutted by just one peek at Twitter or Facebook. People who prefer solitude tend to be not so much averse to social interaction, as selective in whom they wish to spend time with, and where and when they choose to do so.

In my experience, socializing indiscriminately leads to far more emotional and psychological harm than doing so selectively.

© Friday,  November 24, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Who Knew?

Today, every merchant I've had anything to do with online is dropping Christmas gift ideas in my email.

Did not see that coming.

© Friday,  November 24, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Thankful

Two years ago was our first Thanksgiving after the passing of Mrs. McG's mother. I posted this as part of coming to terms with the loss.

One of the paragraphs, though, was due to a pessimistic view of the future of our nation -- a view somewhat less warranted now. So I think I'd like to revise (and maybe extend, just a bit) those remarks today.

I'm thankful for my wife of 23 years. Her happiness is my life's meaning.

I'm thankful, as I've always been, that I was born in, and continue to live in, the United States of America -- the freest nation on earth.

I'm thankful to God for sending His son to show us that forgiveness is the key to everlasting life, that repentance is the key to forgiveness, and we are all His beloved children -- and especially for the blessings He has added to my own life over the years. Some may wonder whether God loves them; He has left me no room for doubt.

Update, a quarter to Black Friday: I guess I'm also thankful Deb Frisch hasn't targeted me. But not as thankful as she should be.

© Thursday,  November 23, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Talking Back to Old Song Lyrics, 1

Well, where would you suggest Amos go to hunt alligator, Jerry? The Cajun Alps? The Atchafalaya Desert?

© Wednesday,  November 22, 2017  Kevin McGehee


O Hai!

Im in ur parkin lot parkin mai hind!

Photo credit: John Schmidt, a co-worker of Mrs. McG -- this morning in the parking lot where they work.

© Wednesday,  November 22, 2017  Kevin McGehee


HOLY CRAP!

Jackson, Wyoming doesn't have home mail delivery!!!!

New residents to Jackson Hole may not be aware that there is no home delivery in Teton County. Not for most residents, anyway.

And it's been putting a strain on the local post offices, as well as traffic around their locations.

The package delivery headaches begin with the fact that Jackson, Wyoming is one of those rare places in the United States with no home delivery. Davidson, NC and Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA are two other places that come to mind where USPS does not deliver mail to home residences. Despite the best efforts of Postmaster General John Wanamaker, who served from 1889 to 1893, to spearhead RFD (Rural Free Delivery) ensuring even bumpkins in the middle of nowhere could get their mail, there still exists a few of these smaller communities where no mailman treads even today.

In Jackson, the reason most often cited for the town having no mail delivery is a collective desire to encourage community building by embracing the social aspects of having to meet at the post office every few days. The forced interaction was viewed as a positive thing.

<facepalm>

Over 10,000 people now live in Jackson town limits, an area encompassing just under three square miles. The town also serves as the main commercial hub for a county of some 13,000 additional residents, who may not have to visit a post office in Jackson for their mail, but probably do have to navigate the traffic around the town's compulsory "meeting places" on a regular basis.

Maybe back in the olden days before the Harveywood elite discovered Jackson Hole, it was okay to use the post office for "community building," but congestion on the street and in the lobby now get in the way of the postal employees doing their jobs efficiently -- which is what those of us in the rest of the country want more than anything from our post offices. So in answer to the question in the article's title...

Is it time to start talking about home mail delivery?

I think any intelligent 21st-century American would say, "Oh, hell yeah."

Too bad we're only talking about the Harveywood elite and their vassals and serfs in the Hole.

© Monday,  November 20, 2017  Kevin McGehee


There Is No Choice

Isaac Bashevis Singer said,

We must believe in free will -- we have no choice.

The remark is often quoted ironically, but logically it's absolutely true, for one simple reason.

If we don't have free will, how are we to behave differently? What knowledge does the rejection of free will impart, that can change the way we live? If none, why embrace it?

If there is no free will, how would we know? God tells us to refrain from sin, to repent and atone and forgive, all admonitions that imply we can decide whether or not to do these things. It's only by subsequent theological navel-gazing that we arrive at the question, "If God knows all, how can He not know what we will do? And if He knows, does that not mean it's preordained?" This mind-noodling contradicts the Bible itself.

God is all-knowing, but he is also all-powerful. Determinists underrate His power by denying that He can make a thing -- in this case, mankind -- capable of surprising even Him.

But back to the logic. Even if we do not have free will, it is clear that our relationship to the world in which we live is predicated on us having it, and exercising it. Even the choice to disbelieve free will is by definition an exercise of will. The end-product of determinism is that we don't have to strive to be good, nor to atone when we fail at it -- those of us destined for Heaven will live in such a way as to get there, whether they try or not, and those destined to fall will fall and never be redeemed, so why worry about it?

Which makes everything God has said to us, every way in which He has interacted with us, a cruel lie.

To disbelieve free will is to disbelieve that God is good, that He loves us. For Christians it's even worse: it is to disbelieve the entire New Testament, from start to finish -- the sacrifice of His son, Jesus of Nazareth, would have to be nothing more than divine theater, performed to fool us all into believing we have something to say about what happens to our souls after we die.

Singer, of course, was not a Christian -- and still he rejected determinism as logically indefensible. Christians, to remain worthy of the name, must do the same.

Likewise, Americans. Without free will there are no rights -- whether you believe they are God-given or granted by government.

Addendum, over a week later: One of the things that led me to contemplating the logic of determinism was a Larry Niven short story about the social implications of parallel universes. As Wikipedia describes it,

A police detective, pondering a rash of unexplained suicides and murder-suicides occurring since the discovery of travel to parallel universes, begins to realize that if all possible choices that might be made actually are made in parallel universes, people will see their freedom of choice as meaningless. The choice not to commit suicide, or not to commit a crime, seems meaningless if one knows that in some other universe, the choice went the other way.

...which, I just couldn't see the logic. Maybe a lot of people would react that way, but I can't imagine letting the knowledge that some version of me will make the decision I wouldn't, convince me to make that decision instead of my own. Regardless of the possible existence of other versions of me, I remain myself, and my freedom of choice is not affected in the least by what those other versions do, anymore than my decisions affect what they do.

The link is that the proposed implication of infinite parallel universes is that all possible decisions are essentially pre-determined, including both virtue and sin. But if there are infinite alternate versions of me, half of those at each decision point in their lives will still decide as I would have in their place, even if my own prior decisions prevented me from arriving at that particular decision point. The concept argues, I think, even more strongly that we do have free will -- in every version of ourselves.

In fact, in those alternate realities in which I concluded that the universe is determinist and free will doesn't exist, at least half of those would see me continuing to make my decisions as if I did still believe in free will -- because pre-determined or not, there would be no way for any version of me to know what the destination is until I get there. Might as well live like what I do, matters.

© Monday,  November 20, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Now Read the Books

Mrs. McG and I binge-flixed the final 10-episode season of "Longmire" over the weekend. The writers redeemed the paranoid, obsessive way they had portrayed Craig Johnson's Wyoming sheriff, but I still prefer the books -- not just for Walt, but for Henry Standing Bear and most of the rest of the characters they brought over from the books.

If you haven't read the books you might not know just how few of the TV characters were actually in them. Once you've finished watching the TV show, I strongly suggest you remedy that.

The show did have some funny bits -- such as a romantic rivalry between two men named Archie and Reggie, though there was no Jughead; and a subtle dig at A&E's demographic-inspired cancellation of the series that caused it to go to Netflix. And a scene with Katie Sackhoff on a horse that might appeal to her male fans in particular.

© Monday,  November 20, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Words of Wisdom

Found in the Winter 2017/2018 issue of Range Magazine, the following observation by Ethel Barrett (1913-1998):

We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.

© Saturday,  November 18, 2017  Kevin McGehee


I Guess Trolling Is No Fun When Done Behind the Scenes

Over there in the sidebar is a link to the contact form that's included in the theme I use on the WordPress.com archive site. (That site hosts the old posts generated when I was blogging either on Blogspot or using WordPress on my previous web host. My current host doesn't support SQL and there was no way I was going back to Blogspot.)

The contact form is the sole conduit for feedback now that I'm blogging this way -- other than linking here with a post on your own blog (see Dustbury, which is, to my knowledge, the only place this has actually happened, and I only know that because I read Dustbury regularly). It lacks the allure of a public comment thread, which I regret a lot less than I might if I'd never been trolled. Then again, it's been years since I was trolled on my own blog.

In recent years news websites have stopped accepting comments, or outsourced them to Facebook -- and even many blogs have stopped hosting their own comments, opting for Disqus instead. Some of you whippersnappers may not remember when blogs didn't include a comment function natively and those of us who wanted to receive commentary had to use links to an off-site host for them. They weren't as feature-rich as Disqus but they got the job done, right up until whoever was operating the host went out of business for whatever reason. My first troll infested my first blog using one of those old comment engines.

Sometimes I wonder what happened to that guy. Is he still chained in his mother's basement, wishing he'd made her free him before he killed her and ate her?

© Friday,  November 17, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Mozilla Just Windows 8-ed Firefox

My Firefox browser just "updated" to 57. I promptly backdated it to 56.0.2 and turned off automatic updates.

I have a bunch of add-ons I use with Firefox -- one of which is essential for the way I publish this blog -- and the browser's new paradigm has already ruined one of them. 57 broke another and I've had enough. The aforementioned extension that enables me to publish the Tally Book conveniently would be one of those I'd lose with 57, so 57 simply had to go.

What's more, the new version of Firefox on my phone looks just like Chrome. I saw this coming years ago when Firefox first started chasing Chrome in the style department. If they start junking capabilities and options that have kept me going back to Firefox, I'm not going to be happy.

Oh wait -- they already have, and I'm already not.

Update, Thursday: Charles mentions Pale Moon as his preferred alternative. I gave it a try, but...

© Wednesday,  November 15, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Copacetic Cats

The surviving inherited cats, Bob and Cici, seem to be settling in comfortably and the established upstairs cats -- Mickie, Sophie and Buckaroo -- have had minimal objection to their presence so far.

Bob, a lanky and boldly striped orange tabby, did get cornered briefly yesterday by Buckaroo, but the latter seems more curious than hostile. I jokingly attributed to the equally boldly-striped but relatively rotund orange tabby Buckaroo a suspicion that he was looking in a mirror, to which I retorted, "A funhouse mirror, maybe." He was unamused.

Cookie still has not been located, but given that the food left downstairs remains untouched her status is no longer deemed Schrödinger.

© Tuesday,  November 14, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Danger, Will Robinson!

Wyoming is preparing to "update" its voting equipment.

Secretary of State Ed Murray, in collaboration with the Wyoming County Clerks and the Secretary of State Election Division, announced today the formation of a task force to address the future of elections in Wyoming. The Plan for Aging Voting Equipment (PAVE) Task Force will primarily explore the type of election equipment needed in Wyoming and the means of funding the replacement of outdated equipment.

"Wyoming's elections are accurate, fair, and free from any interference. Unfortunately, the voting equipment used in Wyoming's 23 counties is nearing the end of its lifespan, and it is of paramount importance that our voting systems be unfailingly reliable," said Teton County Clerk Sherry Daigle.

Which is fine. Thing is, Wyoming is one of the few states that never adopted touchscreen electronic voting machines. By now it should be obvious that those machines are uniquely vulnerable to mischief, but when you get a bunch of officials together the chance of groupthink-induced imbecility can never be disregarded.

The fact Wyoming resisted the touchscreen fad is reassuring -- I just worry.

Update, Thursday: It gets worse -- there's a concerted effort to convince the state to adopt vote-by-mail (paywall).

[Fremont County Clerk Julie] Freese isn't the only clerk promoting mail-ballot elections: According to a recent report by the Cody Enterprise, the [County Clerks Association of Wyoming] has proposed changes involving a transition to the process as well. And in September of 2016, the Enterprise reported, Park County deputy clerk Hans Odde was part of a CCAW delegation that visited a mail ballot processing center in Colorado; following the visit, he said 20 of Wyoming's 23 county clerks supported moving to a mail ballot system.

Clerks estimate that, had the 2016 election been a mail ballot one, the cost would have been roughly $453,000 - a 46 percent savings, the Enterprise said, and there would be no need in 2019 to upgrade much of the current equipment.

Fortunately, Wyoming lawmakers aren't buying it.

Zwonitzer and Case co-chair the legislature's Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee, which the CCAW approached three times last year to suggest exploring a mail-ballot system as a cost-saving alternative to buying new equipment, the Enterprise said; on every occasion, the officials, who are charged with overseeing elections statewide, were rebuffed.

"I think it was too new of an issue for Wyoming," Zwonitzer said. "Most people thought Wyoming wasn't ready, and there were concerns there could be fraud."

He did not offer support for mail ballots, according to the report, and he said many of the most adamant opponents to a switch came from rural districts.

It bothers me that the county clerks out there are as enamored of idiotic "new ideas" as educrats and other forms of Homo bureaucratii -- that uniquely non-sentient species that resembles humanity in every way except its own complete lack of gray matter. They thoroughly enjoyed the monorail episode of "The Simpsons" but learned nothing from it.

The vulnerabilities of electronic voting machines were pooh-poohed by their promoters 15 years ago, but the naysayers turned out to be right. They're right about vote-by-mail too.

© Tuesday,  November 14, 2017  Kevin McGehee


I Don't Know Where This Came From, Either

The most vivid memory of the entire dream was, after the song ended, I exulted over having had the chance to sing a Beatles song with an actual Beatle.

The song was "I Want to Hold Your Hand," and we weren't on stage or anything -- it was, if I'm remembering right, a little music store in some straggling coastal community on the Left Coast where the Beatle in question happened to be hanging out when Mrs. McG and I arrived, and I at least was singing to Mrs. McG. That the Beatle was George Harrison, who passed away just shy of 16 years ago (the anniversary is in 16 days) and didn't have a writing credit on the song, falls to the surreality of dream life. Then again, toward the end of the dream George was fretting about his health because his girlfriend was expecting and he wanted to be around for the baby.

I suppose that might have influenced his choice of song. Certainly "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" might have set a less hopeful tone.

© Monday,  November 13, 2017  Kevin McGehee


I Don't Know Where This Came From

As they walked down the busy city street, they were jostled by fellow pedestrians -- and neither was in the mood for it.

The slimmer of the two winced as someone stepped on his foot, then sighed. "Fred, I'm tellin' ya, this is not the 21st century I imagined."

"Tell me about it, George," said the burlier, darker-haired gent. "Watchin' that show of yours, I was sure we'd be ridin' around in flyin' cars by now."

"Can you imagine these people at the controls? We'd all be extinct by Thursday." A passing millennial bumped into George and hurried on without looking up from his phone. "Hey, watch where you're goin'!"

A faint "Sorry" filtered back from the culprit, already lost in the crowd. Both men paused and looked back -- George angry, Fred resigned.

"Seems kinda sad we survived supervolcanoes an' asteroids an' floods an' plagues," observed Fred, "but we're gonna be killed off by social media."

Another oblivious pedestrian barged through between the two men. George seethed but Fred just rolled his eyes. "George, you're gonna burst a blood vessel. Just let it go. C'mon, we're gonna get trampled if we just stand here."

George took a couple of long, slow breaths, then sighed and followed his friend. Catching up, he tried to change the subject. "Say, Fred, how's things at home?"

Fred sighed. "About what you'd expect. Pebbles never comes out of her room except to eat or go to school. Wilma says she just spends her day posting selfies on Facester and Twitbook." He took a shellphone from his pocket, opened it, and called up an image, which he showed to George.

"What's that she's wearin'?" asked George.

"Nothin'," said Fred sadly.

"Whaaaaat?" George grabbed the phone and stared at the tiny picture. "You can't let your daughter post things like that!"

"Gimme that!" barked Fred, wresting the phone away and putting it back in his pocket. "Here, let's go in this place and sit down. My feet are killin' me."

They managed to find a booth and sat down. George was still indignant. "What kind of sicko is lookin' at those pictures?"

"I dunno, George," said Fred snidely, "those Twitbook handles all look like dino-scratch to me, names like smoothperv and vpbiden and elroyj. Who knows who they could be?" He pretended not to notice his friend's red face as he recognized the third name.

George lowered his head until his face was on the table. "Fred, what are we gonna do?"

"I'm gonna have a beer." Fred signalled to a server and soon two large glasses of amber liquid were set on the table. He picked up one and emptied it in a second. By the time he put down the empty glass a full replacement had appeared -- but this time he was more temperate, only downing two or three glugs.

George hadn't yet touched his, but he was no longer head-down on the table. Instead he was staring after the server's incredibly short skirt. "D'you suppose she's wearin' anything under that?"

"I don't even know if she's a she," said Fred after a glance at the server, who was scampering between other booths and the beer taps at the bar.

"Ugh! Thanks for that visual, buddy!"

Fred shrugged with a malicious gleam in his eye. "Where I come from, underwear wasn't even invented yet. Remember that suit I always wore?"

"Yaaaggghhh! Fred, please stop talking!"

A jangle issued from Fred's pocket, and he answered his shellphone. "Hey, Wilma, what's up? ... Nah, George an' me are talkin' over what we need to pick up, then we'll hit the store an' head right home. ... Wait, what? Animal control? What do they want? ... 'Keepin' an exotic pet without a permit?' Dino ain't an exotic pet! We've had him for eons! ... I don't care about some new ordinance, he's grandfathered. Hell, he's great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfathered! ... All right, all right already. I'll see what I can do." He closed the phone and shook his head. "Absolutely insane. You know what, George, you're right. We do need to do somethin'."

"Please don't say go back to Hanna-Barbera."

"No, no. I mean we gotta do somethin' about the way the world's headin'. I mean we shoulda seen this comin'. First we gave our kids to the schools to raise, then we gave 'em to TV -- "

"TV was good to us, Fred."

"Yeah, 50 years ago. Now we give 'em shellphones and wonder why nobody's got any manners an' nobody knows nothin' about nothin'. Somebody's gotta stand up on the table and wake everybody up."

"Maybe, but it won't be you. I can't afford to replace any more tables from you standin' on them."

"Har-dee-har-har." But Fred's mind was racing. "Maybe we should start a vlog on Whotube. You could gripe about how the people in charge have screwed up the world we were supposed to be livin' in by now."

George snorted, "Yeah, an' you could go on an' on about how much better things were back in the Stone Age."

"We could call it, 'The Future Ain't What It Used to Be.'"

George blinked a moment, then chuckled. "Yeah, that's not bad, Fred. I like it."

Fred grinned. "I keep tellin' ya, George, I'm a genius."

George rolled his eyes and sipped his beer. "You sure do, Fred. You sure do."

© Sunday,  November 12, 2017  Kevin McGehee


There Was Still One Left, Apparently

So Vanity Fair has a new editor, Radhika Jones, who is reportedly "unknown in Hollywood." Given recent news I assume this is meant in the biblical sense.

© Sunday,  November 12, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Veterans Day

My father joined the Army during the Second World War and got into Air Corps training. He attended classes in Montana, where he met his future wife, my mother. He never got overseas, and the sinus condition that gave him trouble all his life caused him to be dropped from air crew training. But he was a veteran.

My great great grandfather was a farmer in southern Indiana when the Civil War broke out. The youngest of four sons, and with two of his brothers already having volunteered (the elder killed in 1863), he entered service in 1864. My source lists him as having been assigned to Chattanooga on "provost duty," which means his unit was part of the military occupation there while Grant and Sherman pushed on to Atlanta. After the war he returned to his family and lived until 1920. He didn't volunteer like his brothers, and he didn't see much, if any, combat, but he was a veteran.

The media will focus on the men and women who were on the front lines, but failed aspiring bomber pilots and drafted occupation troops were veterans too. I'm no less proud of Dad and his ancestor than I am of said ancestor's eldest brother who volunteered, and fell in battle.

© Saturday,  November 11, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Feline Mortality

It's possible you saw a post here dated last Wednesday, discussing the loss of two of the six cats we inherited two years ago from Mrs. McG's late mother.

Since then we have a third confirmed death, and only one of the remaining three is known to still be alive. The other two have stashed themselves away somewhere downstairs where we have been unable to find them, and are presumed Schrödinger. We know one of them was in fair condition last night, but the other hasn't been seen since last Wednesday. Last night we were able to corral two of the three we could find and bring them upstairs and close up in a spare bedroom, but the third hid before we could grab her. One of the two we brought upstairs was in worse shape than we realized and passed away this morning.

Of the inherited six, three were offspring of Cici, still nursing when first adopted; their names were Caramel, Cashew, and Cookie. Cici and Cookie are the Schrödingers; Caramel was the first one lost last weekend, and Cashew was this morning's departure. Kitty Houdini -- proper name Gigi -- was the cat who died on Wednesday. Our remaining upstairs patient is Bob, a big, lanky, sweet-natured scaredy-cat who seems, so far, to be doing okay, if somewhat unsettled by the sudden change in his surroundings.

I thought we knew what was going on, but Mrs. McG now plans to take Bob to the vet to make sure he's as healthy (for his age -- he's 14, which is 72 for you and me) as he appears. We're still holding out hope for the Schrödingers but the food and water we've left down there don't seem to be getting consumed.

I've mentioned before that all of the inherited cats are up there in years. Bob is (we think) the oldest of the six, while the C kittens, the youngest, were 13. It was a given that we'd lose them over the next few years as they aged through their teens. Mrs. McG had one cat live to be 21, but the rest have tended to go at 17 or 18. I was fairly sure we'd have far fewer cats to care for by the time she could retire and we had to plan for our move out West -- but I was expecting a more gradual attrition.

A couple of weeks ago I ordered a new Christmas tree. As soon as it arrived I put it up and plugged it in.

Today I'm unplugging it, at least until after Thanksgiving.

Update: Mrs. McG just spoke with the vet that tried to save Cashew this morning. It appears his condition was simply more advanced than we'd realized, but that otherwise the situation is pretty much what we'd previously thought it was -- a sudden population explosion of fleas that we had no way of anticipating based purely on what we already knew and could observe. We're about to take Bob in to make sure he can be helped, and then we're going back downstairs to (we hope) find the Schrödingers and see if anything can still be done for them.

'Nother update: Bob is in fair shape, but will need ongoing care to get him into good shape. Obviously the flea problem also needs work. As yet no sign of the Schrödingers, but we have not yet begun tearing the place apart to find them. Last night I left some food where they might find it, and it did look as if there was less of it when I checked.

'Nother other update, Saturday: When Mrs. McG answered the phone I said, "Somebody's meowing down here."

Cici is on her way to the vet for a checkup, though she seems to be okay. I had gone down to check again for signs of life, and since the food seemed to have been sampled again since yesterday I decided to put some fresh food down. That was when I heard meowing and made the unusual decision to make a phone call from one room of the house to another. It's to Cici's credit she was able to emerge from hiding under her own power and be carried upstairs, thence to Mrs. McG's car and off to what we hope will be as rosy a prognosis as Bob got.

Sadly, Cookie remains unseen and we aren't very hopeful at this point -- though food and water are still available in case she's still able to seek it.

I predicted "a rather large graduating class" but I wasn't expecting a mass commencement.

'Nother other other update: Cici's condition is comparable to Bob's, so her hoped-for rosy prognosis has come to be. What a relief.

© Friday,  November 10, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Consulting the Magic 8-Ball

Barring the unforeseen -- which will apply to at least 75% of what happens between now and then (or, if you live inside the legacy-media bubble, probably closer to 95%) -- I expect to vote for every Republican nominee whose name appears on my November 6, 2018 ballot.

Just sayin'.

© Monday,  November 6, 2017  Kevin McGehee


You'd Think a Guy Who Lived in Texas Would've Known Better

A prime example of someone who "needed killin'," and got what he needed.

Two quick-thinking locals have been hailed as heroes for stopping the man responsible for the worst ever mass shooting in Texas which left 26 dead.

Stephen Willeford, 55, confronted gunman Devin Patrick Kelley, 26, when he was leaving First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, wounding him, before he and Johnnie Langendorff, 27, chased him in a car after he fled.

Texas Department of Public Safety Regional Director Freeman Martin said Willeford, a keen biker, had 'grabbed his rifle and engaged the suspect'.

According to the Daily Mail piece, "engaged" means "shot" -- with precision.

Willeford, a local plumber with no military experience, is however an excellent shot according to the resident, and when he came face to face with Kelley, he shot in between his body armor, hitting him in his side.

H/t Instapundit.

Naturally, The Usual Suspects™ are seeking to deprive Willeford and Langendorff of the means by which they achieved this public service. They're always looking for ways to help their primary constituency -- that segment of the American public that most closely shares their values and morals. It's also why they want felons to be able to vote while still in prison.

I'm not going to comment on Kelley's motivation -- there have been a few different claims on that score and I don't know whether he was coherent enough to have acted on only one, or even on multiple, mutually compatible ones. The fact of what he had just been doing is sufficient to justify what was done to him, in my book. He was still holding the murder weapon when Willeford shot him, and might have had more weapons in his car when he fled.

One claimed motive, though, is militant atheism. I won't splash his guilt onto other atheists -- but I'm fairly confident he's wishing now that he'd been less militant, or merely saner. If you've ever wondered what Hell is like, I imagine it's like the worst nightmare you've ever had -- that you can never wake up from.

Update: Confirmed, he did have at least one other gun in his car. I don't think for a minute he wouldn't have continued killing if he could have gotten away unwounded.

© Monday,  November 6, 2017  Kevin McGehee


The Football Weekend So Far

Mississippi State hosted UMass yesterday, and it was a surprisingly rough game for the Bulldogs -- but in the end they won, 23-34.

Wyoming held its annual football Border War rivalry game against Colorado State in Laramie last night, buffeted by wind and rain and then buried in snow. The Cowboys were defending The Bronze Boot they'd won in Fort Collins last year, but never held the lead during this game -- until the 4th quarter. They held it to the end, winning 13-16.

The Dallas Cowboys host the Kansas City Chiefs this afternoon. The Chiefs lead the AFC West, 6-2; the Cowboys are second in the NFC East, 4-3 -- lagging Philadelphia's 7-1 record. Dallas hopes to add a third win to its current streak.

Update: Dallas won again, 17-28. But so did the Eagles; they're now 8-1.

© Sunday,  November 5, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Reminder

Don't forget to change your clocks tonight.

I suggest something in a neo-modern, with an analog readout on a backlit LCD face.

© Saturday,  November 4, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Where Have All the Spammers Gone?

I got another one today, and this one even got past the filter. In the past 30 days this is the tenth I've received.

FastMail says once its system has learned 200 spams and 200 not-spams to my account, a personal spam filtering algorithm based on that learning will go into effect. In the almost two months I've been using FastMail it's learned thousands of not-spams; the number of spams it claims to have learned is ... 27. At this rate I'll have my personal spam filter in time for the 2020 election cycle. I can only hope the educational process picks up steam between now and Boxing Day.

But speaking of spam, one of my smartphone apps has gained a new "feature," something its developers call "marketplace." Offers and add-ons for the home appliances the app control can be found in this marketplace, and I can download applets or coupons for... what, HVAC filters? Yes, as a matter of fact. They'll even send the first one free.

The appliances are a pair of wifi thermostats I installed not long after we moved into this house, five years ago. They're not what I would call "smart" thermostats; in fact I use the app mainly to make sure the settings haven't changed, either spontaneously or as a result of hacking. Trying to do anything with the touchscreen on these thermostats is exasperating under the best of circumstances, since the screens are less sensitive to input than those on your typical plug-into-the-cigarette-lighter GPS navigation system.

I would, actually, be open to replacing these thermostats with something smarter, except for one small problem: as long as I don't need to use the touchscreens on the devices themselves, they work beautifully. The new marketplace on the smartphone app is the first significant downside I've encountered. Though, I am grateful for one thing -- these thermostats are so low-tech (for being wifi-capable, that is) that the threat of "add-ons" doesn't apply. What would I need an add-on for, so the damn thing can check my email?

Update: Mrs. McG says, "I guess a thermostat app could check Hotmail."

Anyway, to answer the question posed in the title, apparently most of them have gotten productive jobs setting up coupon offers to send to my thermostats.

'Nother update, Monday: I'm guessing now that it only "learns" a spam if I report a message that the system didn't already consider spam. Which doesn't really make sense to me because it's learning not-spam from messages that I didn't explicitly report as not-spam.

© Friday,  November 3, 2017  Kevin McGehee


Understand Me Now

My late mother-in-law (born and raised in Virginia) used Siri to dictate text messages and Facebook replies on her phone, and she used to get fit to be tied over the Apple AI's continual inability to understand her, no matter how clearly she tried to enunciate. She always -- always -- had to go back and finger-type corrections before tapping send.

I never had that problem with Google's voice-typing utility, and I always assumed it was because I always went into hyper-enunciation mode when dictating. I spoke slowly and strove to form vowels and consonants with unmistakable clarity. Even though I always looked to make sure what I saw was what I'd said, it seemed I only very rarely had to correct something -- deleting spaces from "never the less", for example.

Today, just for the heck of it, I tried dictating something in my more normal speaking manner, quickly and without any more care in enunciation than I normally do. Damn thing didn't make a single mistake. In fact it did better than I often do when typing on a keybaord.

The only non-paranoid explanation I can think of is that I grew up and learned diction just 125 miles or so from where Google and Apple, many (many) years later, coded and taught their speech-comprehension algorithms.

© Thursday,  November 2, 2017  Kevin McGehee


WE HAZ SPAM!

After 17 days of neglect and starvation, my email spam folder just got fed! Poor thing just wolfed it right down. I hope its tummy doesn't rebel.

© Thursday,  November 2, 2017  Kevin McGehee


It's November, Now

The witches have all re-transformed into normal girls and women until next Halloween. So how about we stop hunting them?

© Thursday,  November 2, 2017  Kevin McGehee


FTFY

The problem these days isn't people being wrong on the internet -- it's people being stupid on the internet.

<sigh> I need to order more sorts. I seem to be all out.

© Wednesday,  November 1, 2017  Kevin McGehee


An Uninformed Opinion Carries No Moral Force

Yet uninformed opinion is virtually universal on the question of breaking up The People's Republic of California.

Broadly speaking, Draper's proposal isn't new. Back in 2014, Draper tried to get enough signatures to put a measure on statewide ballots that would let Californians vote on a proposal to turn the Golden State into six different states. But, Draper failed to get the required number of signatures, and the measure never went before voters in the 2016 polls.

Maybe Draper figured going for six states was too much? Because he's back with his California breakup efforts, this time proposing a new map of three Californian states.

The typical reaction in conservative circles to proposals like this is that it would merely mean giving California more Senate seats and Electoral Votes. Which is just what the ultra-extreme leftists out there want our knee-jerk reaction to be.

In actuality, only one of the three new states resulting from Draper's proposal -- the coastal one that includes Pyongyang-by-the-Bay -- would be controlled by the Stalinist wannabes that run the state now, and currently control all 55 of its Electoral Votes. The southern one, though it contains Harveywood, would actually be more mainstream. And interior northern California would be culturally more in tune with the other Western states -- meaning Republican presidential tickets would actually be favored there.

If you've ever heard from a Washingtonian or Oregonian from east of the Cascades, that's what you'd hear from most of the people who live in California's Central Valley. Their livelihoods have been hamstrung by Bay-Area Bolsheviks like Feinstein, Pelosi and Brown.

I'm old enough to remember when the Bush 41 Administration was fighting tooth and nail to keep Yugoslavia in one piece, keeping Slovenians, Bosnians and Macedonians under the heel of Belgrade because they could only see "instability" resulting from a breakup. Those nationalities had to shed blood to win their independence because Official Washington had its collective head up its collective fundament about the actual on-the-ground reality in that part of the world.

Keeping California in one piece is no less idiotic.

© Wednesday,  November 1, 2017  Kevin McGehee


 

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