Thursday, October 31, 2013

Joyous Samhain, everybody!

...and besides that, Happy Halloween.

Actually, I didn't bother with a costume--I terrify people the other 364 days out of the year, and 2013 was a banner year for that, I can attest.  That's why Medusa is my avatar (well, one of a number of reasons, actually)--I petrify people and I know it.

With many deep thanks to Betsy Ross for the scarf.  Now I suppose that I'm gonna have to get a sonic screwdriver.  Just don't get me confused with Romana...







He recommends no garnish, but because the Doctor is so fond of Britain, I'd recommend a slice of lime in tribute to the Limeys. ^_^

I am a time traveler that is American, with a professional background in the sciences, so what I'm going to do is make mine an ultrasonic screwdriver.  It'll work better as an actual screwdriver, and it will work with wood, unlike the Doctor's implement.  Just chalk it up to Yankee Ingenuity. Shove it on over, MacGyver.

And I'll have Gummi Bears--they're the American version of Jelly Babies from the get-go. But I don't mind indulging in jammie dodgers now and then.  Or even fish fingers and (chocolate) custard.


UPDATE:



This is the prototype ultrasonic wrench (not screwdriver).  Brits, you have NO BUSINESS calling this a spanner, either.  It's American, and therefore a WRENCH. There's  a booster coil near the light which functions not only as a wood adapter but also a torque multiplier, so this is a wrench, not a screwdriver--but it does screws, too.  Yeah, that's still pecan stain on my fingers. Meh.  And Gummi Bears are out--they're made in Turkey.

Without the glare...


Aha--how 'bout this: ultrasonic mini-wrench and ultrasonic pipe wrench.


Finished ultrasonic pipe wrench:



Instead of Gummi Bears, I'm going with all-American Sugar Babies.

Friday, October 25, 2013

A fifth estate has a seat at Brussels

Yesterday I took the day offline and took in the movie "The Fifth Estate"; today I get earfuls and eyefuls of foreigner outrage at the NSA.  Yesterday, it was earfuls of House outrage at some violation of privacy committed by healthcare.gov after which followed the privacy issues of former NSA op, Michael Hayden.  Yeah, like none of us have ever overheard phone calls seemingly yelled out in public, ever.  If you want privacy, stick to landline.  FACT: nobody who makes calls in a public area cares if they've got privacy.  When you are on a cell phone, you are broadcasting, both ways--to your surroundings, and over the air, over the wireless.  Duh.

Angela Merkel, this post entitles you to one well-earned facepalm.

Everybody else that spent tax dollars flying to Brussels to discuss the outrage of broadcast phonecalls now gets to do their own facepalms.  D'OH!

So--about WikiLeaks, about Snowden...they both now have greater credibility among the European powers than the U.S. does, among world leaders, no matter how officially denigrated they are.  Interesting.



Oh, I almost forgot to mention that on my way back from the movies, I thought I'd drop in on Betsy Ross for a spot of tea.  She offered scones, and I mentioned that I'd prefer Jelly Babies, and then, seamstress that she is, managed the chit-chat to eventually be about a certain scarf of a certain Gallifreyan Doctor.  Scarf?  The Shada Scarf, of course, and one couldn't tell he was from Gallifrey because of his wicked British accent.

Well, that did it. She got out her needles and commenced an American version.  So, you see, folks, the lady with the magic for threads turned out to be quite the witty little knitter her own bad self.  And I do believe that blue field is TARDIS Blue.


My country 'tis of thee
Sweet land of liberty
God save the bloody queen.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Federal ACA website FAIL or deliberate DOS attack?

This computer geek is skeptical about the Obamacare website failure given that perfectly working commercial sites have also crashed when subjected to a Denial Of Service attack (DOS attacks, smurf style attacks) when deliberately flooded by access requests.  That's the whole idea of flooding any server with access requests.

I'm sure that the reporters who report that individual hits on the website are well-meaning, but they're not geek enough to recognize that you can open two different browsers (say, IE and then Chrome) on a single computer and have the website count you as two separate people.  It's true even on this blogger website, and it's why I don't take the number of hits on this blog too seriously.  The stats are useful only in ascertaining overall hit patterns, and regions of origin, which aren't all that reliable either given that residents of repressive regimes use proxy servers to get Internet access.

There's another aspect to this, too--both new and old technology computers/smartphones access this government site, and others, and between old and new computer technologies there has occurred a in IP address format which will cause legacy (using IPv4; latest is IPv6) devices to choke.  Given the budget cutting that has occurred on the federal level, odds are good that the software didn't contain additional code to deal with this difference either.

It's my view that when you're trying to contract for a software designer on the cheap, cheap (as in inadequate) is the product you're going to get.  As the saying goes, "If you want to buy good clean oats, you have to pay a good clean price for them.  If, on the other hand, you want oats that have already been through the horse, of course they're going to be a little cheaper."


This evening I heard the new appointee, Jyoti Bansal, state that the main problems with healthcare.gov was that it was given just 8 or 9 months to get developed and then wasn't properly tested because time ran out--and there's the matter of legacy databases.  So what do you want from your government when Republicans cut your budget? A rubber biscuit?

I also heard some talking head bimbo pose the question about whether or not it was "beta tested" as if she knew WTF she was talking about.  Stuff like that can't be beta tested, fer cryin' out loud.  Beta testing happens when you have tech-savvy users give the software a shake-down tryout and there just weren't any users out there for this first-time-ever package. Geez.

If you're using any kind of Microsoft product, you're still using 1970s era legacy bloatware, FYI, so none of us have a choice about that, as Microsoft users.  Linux isn't all that brand spanking new either--its legacy is UNIX.  Apple is just a whole different animal because of its history with Microsoft, and that's a whole 'nother historical can o worms to post about later.

Now then--one of the reasons the human languages I've learned have sort of slid by the wayside is that I've picked up computer languages and currently, I'm more fluent in those...so...although I haven't done so yet, I think I'll drop by healthcare.gov and take a peek at its main page source code just to get a handle on what's what.  Last time I looked, SQL was still used even for the most current databases; the latest version of php had a couple bugs in it, and javascript, although fairly slick, still has to work with php and css codes to pull stuff off.  I'll just have to go over there and take a look-see for myself.


UPDATE:
Alright, Bill, I'm tagging you on this blog now since you ragged on me about O-care on Facebook.  You wanna duke it out, buddy?  How about via Google Plus.  I dare ya, +Bill Coleman . Bring it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Pecan season has begun--it's official!

Removing the husks from pecans this early in the season will do this to fingers. And hands, and shirt, and on occasion, splatter the face too.   A person can wait until the pecans fall from the husks naturally, but there's the squirrel competition for that and they're harder to find that way.

When pecans are ripe enough to pick off the tree, some of the husks will show signs of splitting open while they're still green, like this:

What will happen later in the season is that the husks turn brown and shriveled, and the nuts drop of their own accord especially during a windy day.  However, when they do that, they also attract other vermin besides squirrels (to me, a squirrel is just a big rat with a bushy tail. They *are* rodents, after all, and can be just as destructive).

Hunting pecans kinda makes up for not hunting sassafras and hickory nuts out in Ozark country like I used to do when my stompin' grounds used to be the Mississippi River area, and yeah, I knew exactly what Ewell Gibbons was talking about, with those wild hickory nuts.  People of ease tend to not mess with 'em because getting the shells open make you wish for a stick of dynomite {that's a JJ Walkerism, not a misspelling} (black walnuts are like that too) but once you get that meat out, there's nothing like it.  They don't call hickory nuts "butternut" for nothin'. Don't let size fool you either.  Whether pecans or hickory, the best flavor comes in the smaller nuts, which is why I'm not too crazy about Shagbark hickory or commercial pecans.  Them li'l bitty wild ones are the best.

That chartreuse dye on my hands won't come off. It'll turn black, then deep brown just before it wears off.  In a couple weeks.

A few fine points on hunting wild pecans--there's a difference between wild pecans and a commercial pecan grove that has gone feral, and it's mainly in the bug department.  There are three main types of bugs that attack pecans: webworms (eat foliage, doesn't affect the nuts), huskworms (make a black mess of the husks but don't affect the nuts either. Not good to be squeamish), and nut borers, which will affect all kinds of nuts besides just pecans.  They'll be in hickory nuts and black walnuts, too, and they're the worst in a feral commercial grove because when in use, they've been sprayed for bugs year after year and there are always superbug survivors that run rampant when the grove goes feral.

It's the bugs and the mold that force a sort of particular husking routine when you're husking pecans: they need to be husked almost immediately after harvest, as mold will develop and it's basically fatal to the nut kernel.  Not all nuts will husk cleanly, so it's best to not waste time husking those--throw those in a separate bag (paper, preferably--mold likes an environment that doesn't "breathe" much, like buckets) and deal with those later.  Husk the ones that show signs of splitting and the ones that yield splits easily when pressed on both "poles" of the husk.

There are two primary reasons why husks won't yield: the nut's not sufficiently ripe, or it contains a borer.  Borer eggs get laid inside the nut when the shell is immature and soft.  The borer hatches later and when large enough, bores from the inside out, then winters over in the soil...so...a husk on a nut from an otherwise ripe tree is most likely to be wormy.  Do NOT throw those back on the ground--toss 'em in the garbage can.  Those things have sharp teeth and will bore through paper bags and thin plastic.  If you're field-dressing your pecans, throw them in an old coffee tin, or they'll get out if you just toss 'em into a grocery bag whether paper or plastic.



Oh yeah--what do I use to crack open black walnuts and hickory nuts? ViseGrips.  When desperate, I'll use a hammer but with box walls around the work area. Using a hammer generates serious shrapnel and you can lose the entire kernel that way.

And now a word about squirrels. If you think that just because they can outsmart the average human being, they're also smart enough to know when to start their own nut harvests, you'd be wrong.  How squirrels harvest nuts depends on the squirrel population because Enemy Number One is the competition, and when there are Squirrel Wars, they'll strip every pecan tree in the region before September is over and they all starve over winter, turning to alternative foods like what's in your outside garbage can, your dog's food, fall-blooming ornamental flowers and shrubs, and tree bark around the youngest twigs.  Not to mention serious bark around your prized saplings, if you installed any the same year.  Nope--they're not cute, and I don't care how disarming they appear.


I just couldn't leave that spider well enough alone.  I did up the following and posted it on Facebook:


Friday, October 18, 2013

Music history right up my alley--2nd lecture

The voices of the past are what I find more reliable than books, and that's one of many reasons why I'm a time traveler, not an historian.  Sure, I love old books too, but nothing puts a time traveler on the ground rubbing elbows with a particular era than the sights and sounds of the times.  If you've gone to Pinterest and taken the tour of a part of my time machine, you'll find that recordings are considered essential to the navigation core.


I didn't attend that first lecture, but this second lecture is a bit higher on my priority list for the simple reason that I've collected old recordings all the way back to the Edison cylinder.  Didn't go out of my way to amass a huge amount--I just collected tunes and/or artists of personal significance...if the price was right.  In moving, I lost an awful lot of them, too, alas.

I do have questions about the timing of this lecture series, though. After living a dozen or so years in Arizona, I happen to know that Europeans on holiday are particularly fond of the Old West and cowboys.  Sure, there are tourists in Phoenix during the winter, but we call 'em "snowbirds" for a reason--mainly domestic folks from the upper tier just getting away from the snow at home.  Germans are the biggest consumer of Old West memorabilia, I've been told, and I'm sure they can't all get CSPAN.

When CSPAN repeats programming it is a hit/miss proposition; if the Cherokee Heritage Museum wants to drum up business, a more deliberate effort should be made to target vacationing Europeans getting CSPAN in their hotels while they're over here so that they can plan a trip to Enid next year.   Just sayin' that even time lords find such things attractive.


UPDATE, Saturday--Kindred Spirit Detection Alert:
CSPAN2 (BookTV) reran a book presentation that originally took place on 9/18, by author Mark Lee Gardner, on his book, "Shot All to Hell", talking about Jesse James.  He's a musician himself, and while I don't make that claim, recognized him as a kindred spirit and fellow time traveler when he said that to him, music is a time machine.  It most certainly is.  I also recognize Harry Belafonte as such.

UPDATE, Monday:
I went, I saw, I enjoyed.  Until I get my stuff uploaded, I suggest that y'all check out these guys on YouTube, under the band name of Slapout.  They're cool and a half, and here's a sample of their younger selves...
They performed this next one as an encore...

Oh. If you'll be watching this on CSPAN and are looking for people in a crowd shot, look for Enid mayor Bill Shewey on the right side of the center aisle. Sure, you'll see only the back of his head but there's a gal sitting directly across that aisle from him wearing a serape over a long sleeved red jersey.  Guess who. :)

Parked in the NOC parking lot...

The following is a vid cam but it looks like it's one of NOC's own cameras, actually...

As it turns out, this camera is associated with that snazzy van, not CSPAN.  CSPAN actual showed up at the first lecture, which I did not attend.  I was told that CSPAN *might* use this camera's footage, as it were, but IMHO that's still iffy.

Oh. About the substance.  It was a substantive overview with a few tantalizing details as to the origins being British/Scotch/Irish.  And often bawdy.  Which is why I didn't ask any questions during the Q&A--the one question I have is about a bawdy song that got tamed down to become "Buffalo Gals".  Original title: "Louisiana Woman".  Yes, I took my own video of the event but mainly for my own information.  I do make videos for the purpose of taking notes, and I took notes.  It's the snippets thereof that I post under Fair Use, not the whole thing.

And speaking of "Buffalo Gals", it's worthwhile to bring up an old western show that used to be quite popular because it was mainly a western soap opera that launched that good-lookin' "Little Joe" (Michael Landon).  I didn't pay attention to it much even though "Little Joe" was quite a looker--I'm more into substance than soap opera.  But when the re-runs started playing, I paid more attention to what appeared to me to be heavily-researched detail, like that business about "Louisiana Woman", when whistled, turned out to be a clue in a murder on the show.  Yup--the show is Bonanza, and it even covered Basque anarchists in the old west.  It's now a favorite show no matter how many of Little Joe's girlfriends died off in the process.



January 13, 2014 UPDATE: I just heard an important piece of New Mexico music history at 9:35 am via KRZA in the form of a native American singing the original form of a tune borrowed by anglos twice: first, in the form of the song Red Wing; second, borrowed by Woody Guthrie for Union Maid. Currently pursuing further details on this song, with apparent origins in New Mexico.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Thank you, Project Gutenberg, for reminding us that today is Oscar Wilde's birthday, and providing a good read from this gentleman, and providing a quote most apt for this year on so many levels...

A quotation (about quotations...): "Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation." (De Profundis, 1905).
Absolutely...almost.  Not me, though.  I'm not other people--I AM a character.  My opinions are strictly my own, based on no single piece of literature or even a handful of pieces of literature.
Oscar, Hippo birdies, two ewes.
Hippo, birdies, two ewes--
 Hippo, birdie, deer ewe..............
Hippo, birdies, two ewes!

UPDATE:  Thanks again to Project Gutenberg for letting the world know that the first automated library in the U.S. will be in Norman, Oklahoma.  Now what we need in Oklahoma are literate people who'll use it.  Let's trade our space cadets for some.

P. S.

No, I'm not ignoring the clown circus in Washington DC this evening.  It's just that it's not over yet. :D

I've heard Krauthammer say on more than one occasion that historians will never refer to this point in time as the Boehner Administration--it will always be the Obama Administration.  Charles, when you have a Speaker that effs up this bad for this long, there's always a first time.

There's been a conservative circus of sorts in the most recent City Commission meeting, about a bird poop ordinance.  Get this: a change to a nuisance ordinance was proposed to include wild bird droppings, and that was tabled, but not after considering the following points:

1. it was supposed to force both land owners and rental tenants to clean up volumes of grackle droppings which comes in buckets at certain seasonal times, hoping to keep the business area of downtown clean.

2. to address a downtown business problem, this ordinance affects all areas of the city, all renters, all land owners, therefore it imposes an added regulation on business and it's supposed to be a business-friendly city.

3. All those bird droppings are a health hazard, so the idea is to make the city do it. Bottom line--it was thought to be a good idea to expand government, not shrink it, so that businesses wouldn't be further regulated, which renders business dependent on growth of government.  Kinda like the big cities with their pigeon poop?

Cute and a half, huh. lol

Now I hear that the House passed the CR, with Republicans basically 2 to 1 against, and the Speaker keeps his power.  Ummmm....WHAT power?  That was a big gavel that Pelosi handed over to Boehner on his first day, but Pelosi had more power in her little gavel than Boehner has in his big one.  She should have given him a Paul Bunyan sized gavel.

Hey Ratchet-jaw Cruz, I got a little somethin' for ya, via Joe Dolce.



Monday, October 14, 2013

Eurozone song now sung by Beijing

Various news orgs are reporting this Monday that China is calling for de-Americanization of global markets. I remember that, during the 1990s, Wall Street Journal reporting that this was the main reason that the Euro currency was launched, at least where the petroleum trade was concerned.  The Eurozone sought to supplant the U.S. Dollar as the "petroleum benchmark" currency.

Related 2009 article

Tip of the hat to former Rukeyser Elf, Gail Dudack, who was the only economic wonk to see that the numbers didn't add up and eventually got fired in 2000 for persistently being bearish.  Numbers that favored economic wonk, Mary Ferrell, should have been bright enough to see but instead went on the more destructive bull bandwagon.

I'm thinking, too, that perhaps I shouldn't have tacked on a previous commentary about the global economy at the bottom of a post about Halloween even though those two topics, at the time, arose on Sunday.  The thing deserves its own undivided attention in a single post.

I divulged my political background in the interest of full disclosure regarding that other post, and to that I will add this: I've been a direct stockholder ever since I worked for Illinois Power Co. and do not deal with any brokerage of any sort, nor do I own any 401k accounts, since those were invented subsequent to my employment and direct investments in utilities.  There was a day that a customer could buy stock in the utility he/she was a customer of via the company's bank, and that's what I did, in addition to having employee accounts.  My portfolio was broadened by a broker who bought only one share on my behalf to open up a direct account for my other investments, but I'm the one doing all the buying, holding, and selling.  These accounts are called Dividend Reinvestment Programs (DRPs) and not a whole lot of people these days are familiar with those, with their employers basically shoving their pet 401k programs down their throats.

As you can see, I'm no fan of the 401k.  Never was.  I will state again that the economic expert that best reflects my views is New York Times' Hedrick Smith.

As you can also see, I've seen China's song/dance before, only it wasn't China's performance.  However, now that this is China's new song, it is my considered opinion that every House Republican that not only voted to shut down the government but also changed the House rules to ensure that it stay shut down--that Republican is a de-facto "Manchurian Candidate".


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Halloween looms large in the Sunday paper



I'm still looking for a store that carries a Doris Kearnes Goodwin costume, actually, but she's clearly not as famous as this chap--you know, the one wearing the fez...


(Tongue is firmly planted in cheek)
There has never been a female timelord lead character and I'm just not built like Romana--and I'm certainly no shoo-in for River Song--so I guess I'll have to go as a zombie again, or the banshee I was last year.  Considering the Celtic direction of the Mysterious Lab, I think I'll reprise the banshee.  Now, why doesn't Hastings carry The Scarf?

UPDATE:
No Scare on the Square this year, so I think I'll just dress up to walk around to frighten wardsman Tammy Wilson, who claimed all the credit for a Lab creation and will certainly get the credit for killing it.  Claims in the newspaper that it MAY be back next year, as it's being "reorganized".  It'll have to, without the Lab.  Let's see...what to wear...what to wear?  Oh, I know.  The thing that will scare the snit out of all the Baptists in power 'round here would be an Arab.  But I'm a citizen of the planet, and know how a sari is folded, so how about this--sari skirt, pirate blouse, and hijab. For sure some idjit is gonna call me in for terrorism.

Aha--looks like the Lab is going to go through the Nightmare Warehouse again. Fun!


Speaking of which, the Mysterious Lab is running again that exquisite tribute to Trinka, and if you missed it the first time around, now is a good time to catch it again, and includes some appearances by the OKC legend Count Gregore.  Trinka Dracul, the Vampire Maid, portrayed by the late Jaemi Young and still mourned. R.I.P.

We still miss you, Trinka.




And Happy Hmong New Year.  Unless you're in Tulsa--you might have been one of the 5 that got shot.


On the talking head shows so far, all news around the globe comes to a screeching halt as Topic One, the government shutdown, overrides all else.

Once again I will state my own political stance, which is that of an independent who is liberal leaning and who worked for the Ralph Nader presidential campaign twice.  As such, I also had a favorable view of Ron Paul until the rise of his son, with whom I find less that is agreeable, but because of Ron Paul I am registered as Republican and haven't changed that registration--and because only 3 parties are recognized in the State of Oklahoma (Democrat, Republican, Independent) I will not change my registration even though currently, I don't agree with much of what they stand for.  Whereas in the State of Oklahoma, Democrats are conservatives too, I have no reason to switch, especially given that only Reps and Dems can vote in Oklahoma's closed primaries, not Independents.

Back when Ron Paul and Ralph Nader got together on the original version of the Tea Party, I was all for that; it has since been hijacked by the Koch brothers, and now I'm firmly against it, especially since Ron Paul has been backing his boy instead of standing on his original principles.

I also have a completely different take on economics than either party, although I'll take this time to point out that the Dow Industrials basically voted at the close of the last trading session by going bullish on news that there was a compromise in the works for opening government back up.  It's my view that the Dow is being propped up and is still overvalued in terms of price-to-earnings ratio. after which you may conclude that the market thus announces that it's too government-dependent.  Considering how privatized that the military has become, thanks to the same Republicans who want to make government smaller, it's also a conundrum even free-market people can't wriggle out of.

Think about it--when Clinton was president, the nation felt prosperous while the Dow Industrials celebrated breaking through the 8000 mark in trades.  Today, we're over 15,000 and we're feeling fragile.  I submit it's because, as the Pauls claim, that our currency is being devalued, but I also submit that it's not because of debt but because the rich have been exporting our currency AND taking it out of circulation by holding it in offshore tax shelters, and that's what's making the printing of more money necessary.

They need to start spending their piles and they need to start paying more taxes, at LEAST at the same rate as the rest of us have to. Face it--it's called "currency" because it has no value until it's used in trade, as in, "in circulation".  A balance sheet is just a bunch of numbers on paper and just as worthless just sitting there.

A lot of rich folks, seeing the imminent devaluation of currency will buy gold with some of their stash, but guess what--not only is the demand pushing up the price of gold per ounce but so is the lower valuation of the currency.  An ounce is still an ounce; currency is what's fluctuating and the good question to ask is, "is the price of gold skyrocketing because of intense demand or because of currency devaluation?"  I submit that it's both, and that's a double-whammy.  Gold has no value except in terms of currency. An English teacher would call that "recursive definition" or "circular definition". Were it a question, it would be a "begged question". But there's actually a triple-whammy afoot.

Supposing all rich people have an epiphany about the folly of hoarding all at once and start putting all those riches back into circulation?  Well, we would have a collapse of currency valuation because of oversupply compared to demand of trade, now, wouldn't we.

And the rich will whine about how it's class war to blame them for the situation we're in both domestically and globally, but truth is that nobody living from paycheck to paycheck can hoard currency--only the rich have done that.  Period.

As I've said, the Dow Industrials remain overvalued, but is this because our currency has lost value?  One has to wonder.  But I submit to you this: regardless of what the value of the currency is, the price-to-earnings ratio would remain the same regardless of currency valuation, and fact remains that it is too high, and pretty much across the Industrials board.  Now here's a reminder that the Dow has two other indexes besides Industrials: Transportation and Utilities.  Both of which have suffered similar perversions, though, so neither of those are quite the answer either.

Late night Sunday update, on the financial topic:
Watched the White House Chronicle interview of  Hedrick Smith regarding his book, "Who Stole The American Dream" and heard him say a lot of stuff I already knew and had been saying (but who listens to me, eh?) like today's financial situation began with Ronald Reagan.  I saw what Reagan was doing while he was doing it and thought back THEN that it was all bollocks.  Anyway, if his book sounds as good as he did, I recommend that for reading whether you're main thing is finance, politics, or history.  For me, it's all three and then some.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

About this blog's statistics recently...

Although this blog is tied to Google Plus, a lot of the recent traffic here has been tied to my activities on Facebook, by the looks of it.  I'll explain, of course.  Blog statistics have a default setting of viewing traffic on a week-by-week basis.  The following screenshot is after the Day's traffic was selected, so it's traffic in the past 24 hours.


Over the past few days, there has been an increased activity on Facebook by IRIB (Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting) which invited me to Like a number of its pages, and for the most part I obliged. In the past few days, hits on my blog posts about Iran and Persia went up quite a bit, while my hits from China, mostly directly via Google Plus, declined.  I guess my minders consider me to be under control, ha.  For now, anyway.

Prior to that, my association with Inca Trail on Facebook seems to have been driving all the traffic to my Peru posts, and when I posted about the Latin y Persia event in OKC, you guessed it--the hits basically doubled, but they also put me under the Chinese radar for the time being. Seeing Brazil lit up a bit is interesting; I've used Portuguese on only one spot on this blog, but in an update of considerable vintage. Interesting. UPDATE: I just reviewed all the new Adds on Google Plus and apparently an Add I overlooked is a Brazilian. Hey, that works.  Hello, Brasil! :)  Well, I Added back everybody who Added me tonight, so this should be good.

What this blog's statistics will not show: it doesn't identify individuals--the only traffic sources ever shown are hits relayed by stat-counting websites and search engines.  It will identify operating systems and countries of origin, but not individuals.  The best I can do is notice patterns like the ones described above.  Due to the nature of countries that do not permit unscreened access by their citizens to the Internet, I fully understand the necessity of the use of proxy servers and IP masking.  As a former admin of forum boards, and because of interaction with whom I refer to as "my pet Russian" (hi, gri! ^_^), I was usually laxer than other admins regarding the wanton banishment of IPs, specifically or in sets, and would not use Project Honeypot boardware.

Basically, even if I could see your IP, I wouldn't trust it as being the genuine article even if I did a lookup on it.  But I can't see your IP, rest assured of that.  The traffic to this blog does indeed go through SEO entities first, and they're not talking to me. 


After I posted the above, I looked at the stats again, same setting, and it looks like this:
4 hits on this post already.  That most likely would be Google Plus people online now, cuz that's how fast that worked.  Oh--and I already selected the "do not track myself" option, so I know it's not me.

Also--I'm content to know that even with the number of my Islamic readers has increased, no further challenges to my posting about Islamic law have been proffered.  It stands with presumed approval.

And speaking of other questionable people I Like on Facebook, there's the inimitable Arnie Coro of Radio Havana. He's a freakin' junkyard genius who IS Radio Havana. I don't care how your politics run regarding Cuba, or what you think of Cuban jamming ops, or the finger he usually pokes into the eye of the HFCC, but Arnie is a one-of-a-kind technological treasure.  Luvz ya, Arnie!  (noteworthy material 6 minutes in...)

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

First there's Egypt aid, then there is no aid, then there is. O_O

I was going to post some stuff about the latest developments in Egypt, but now weird stuff is coming down the pike about U.S. aid to Egypt being suspended, which CNN first reported...then officialdom (in the form of NSC spokesperson Caitlin Hayden) denied it...via Twitter, says an official said it's not true...and now CBS is reporting that it's suspended, followed closely by the Guardian.

Don't really know what to tell y'all at this time except that it's confusing, at best.  People interested in Egypt, #arabspring, Libya et al, just watch this space for updates.  It's bound to get sorted out eventually.  I think.  Maybe. Ummm...


Well, it's Wednesday now and not even NHK World wants to report on this aspect today.  Still keeping my eyeballs and my earballs peeled for anything definite.

NHK World *did* mention the effect on ASEAN that the absence of Obama had, especially with regard to the disputes in the south China Sea--Congress, having crippled the power of the presidency to assure much of anything, has also crippled U.S. power in the Pacific region.  As it is with the unreliability in economics, Congress has become unreliable in giving Pacific allies assurances of anything predictable and now U.S. currency as a global benchmark has come into question, not only for the ASEAN trade group but in the Eurozone and, quite frankly, everywhere else on this planet.


Here it is, late Wednesday, and not even the New York Times is clear on whether the yea or nay is definite. It refers only to PLANNED cuts. USA Today reports that the administration WILL cut but not eliminate aid to Egypt.  WaPo says that the admin is expected to announce cuts. So...go figure.  Senator Patrick Leahy had THIS to say about that.  And the Beeb is more definite.

All I can do is reiterate what I've said before--in Egypt, there are no clean hands. None. But while the Egyptian military have been decried by the deposed party, it's the 3-ish million people who turned out in record-breaking number that gave the military its perceived mandate.  Whereas the Muslim Brotherhood has turned brutal, so has the military, but it's noticeable that Egyptians still don't want military rule even as it looks to Turkey as a role model.  The surgical approach that the administration is employing is actually a prudent one, under the circumstances.  And regarding what I said before, and now, Ahram Online illustrates the point rather well, IMHO.

FINALLY! Reuters with some specifics!  And how accurate should the scalpel be for the surgery?  A Brookings Institute Fellow suggests this:
Now it's late Wednesday, and now Brookings weighs in.
Related question on Yahoo Answers

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Congressional standoff Sunday morning redux--afternoon dialogues on race

It's October, the month for ghosts and haunting pasts; the ghost of Bonnie Ronnie has now rendered, on Capitol Hill, a haunted House in the form of piecemeal government funding bills.  Remember Reagan's call for a line-item veto power?  Voila, but it originates in the House, in its avoidance of any sort of omnibus bill under threat of both the Senate and a presidential veto.

Interesting.  But it's because Congress, not the President, is the appropriate body for engendering the equivalent of a line-item veto, the stalemate has resulted in one aspect of Congress that is functioning properly.

Ted Cruz on State of the Union was the most interesting--he's walked back a bit, but with regard to the question of how is it that this junior member has apparently taken leadership position, I proffer the observation that he's the House member that has the best grasp on the standoff position on his side and is thereby the most able to articulate its basis.  But that also makes him the only person who most thinks it's a good idea.

There's that.

And there's the matter of Netanyahu getting overshadowed by congressional shenanigans while he still pleads for the routing of all nuclear activity in Iran, down to essentially saying "let them use their oil! No nuke power!"...which doesn't play well with the global warming crowd, I'm sure. A former Iranian minister appeared on a talking head show saying that Netanyahu was saying this sort of thing for decades, that Iran was a few months away from an actual atomic bomb, and this was 20 or so years ago.

Let me say this about that: look to see which side Iranian dissidents agree with. It's true that Netanyahu has been a Johnny One Note for too long to have any credibility, but the Iranians I'm familiar with don't trust the current Iranian government either.

There's that.



As you might have guessed, the above posting was written in the morning, pretty much right after the talking head shows had aired.  Well, something significant transpired this afternoon worth mentioning, too, and that is a previously advertised appearance of Jesse Jackson at the University Place Christian Church, 2107 E. Broadway in Enid, an address I recognize as an election polling place.  Been there twice covering 2 presidential elections for HuffPo via the Off The Bus project.

Topic: dialogues about race.


If you're a regular reader of this blog, you already know that's a topic I care about, so yeah--I went.  Only Jackson didn't show.  A pastor named George Young conducted the proceedings instead, making mention of rubbing elbows with Cornell West...I guess to make up for the fact that he wasn't Jesse Jackson.

What mattered most, though, were the things that were said in this discussion, and you betcha I got the pics and vids to share of the significant points.  On the way home, it occurred to me that the people who showed up were the choir that George was preaching to, so to speak, although one doesn't preach in a dialogue...the people who really should be engaged in such a national dialogue as this one should be are the people who wouldn't go and/or won't talk about it when there's an opportunity to, either because they think they know it all already and God put them on this earth to dispense to elite audiences, or they don't think it's important enough to even discuss.  Or both.

Anyway, when the media gets processed, I'll be posting it here later, and I'll post it because I think it's important to post it to anybody else willing to listen.  We already know that part of bigotry is the inability to listen or talk about it.


Part of a handout package was the following booklet containing book recommendations, one of which carries the same title as the booklet...

Published by Pilgrim Press, OH.

The list of books it recommends:

  • All God's Children: A Biblical Critique of Racism by Steven L. McKenzie
  • Black Grief and Soul Therapy by Nicholas C. Cooper-Lewter, Ph.D
  • Breaking Barriers: An African American Family & the Methodist Story by Angella Current
  • Building Bridges: A Handbook for Cross-cultural Ministry by Kathryn Choy-Wong
  • Building King's Beloved Community: Foundations for Pastoral Care and Counseling with the Oppressed by Donald M. Chinula
  • The Color of Faith: Building Community in a Multiracial Society by Fumitaka Matsuoka
  • Coming Together: The Bible's Message in an Age of Diversity by Curtiss Paul DeYoung
  • Dismantling Privilege: An Ethics of Accountability by Mary Elizabeth Hobgood
  • Dismantling Racism: The Continuing Challenge to White America by Joseph Barndt
  • Ending Racism in the Church --Susan E. Davies and Sister Paul Teresa Hennessee, S. A., editors
  • Fulfilling the Dream: Confronting the Challenge of Racism by Ronice Branding
  • Inclusion: Making Room for Grace by Eric H. F. Law
  • Liberating Visions by Robert M. Franklin
  • King Among the Theologians by Noel Leo Erskine
  • Many Cultures, One in Christ from the Covenant Bible Studies series
  • The Measure of a Man by Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Moving Mountains: The Principles and Purposes of Leon Sullivan by Leon Sullivan
  • O Lord, Move This Mountain: Racism and Christian Ethics by E. Hammond Oglesby
  • One Aryan Nation Under God: Exposing the New Racial Extremists by Jerome Walters
  • Police/Community Dialogue: Study Guide by Una Ratmeyer
  • Preaching Justice: Ethnic and Cultural Perspectives --Christine Marie Smith, editor
  • Reconciliation: Our Greatest Challenge--Our Only Hope by Curtiss Paul DeYoung
  • Reconciliation: The Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu by Michael Battle
  • Relational Refugees: Alienation and Reincorporation in African American Churches and Communities by Edward P. Wimberly
  • Roots of Resistance: The Nonviolent Ethic of Martin Luther King Jr. by William D. Watley
  • Say It Loud: Middle-Class lacks Talk about Racism and What to Do about It by Annie S. Barnes
  • Search for the Beloved Community: The Thinking of Martin Luther King Jr. by Kenneth L. Smith and Ira G. Zepp Jr.
  • Shattering the Myth of Race: Genetic Realities and Biblical Truths by Dave Unander, Ph.D. 
  • Show No Partiality from the Faith Crossings series
  • Soul among Lions: Musings of a Bootleg Preacher by Will D. Campbell
  • Strength to Love by Martin Luther King Jr.
  • There is a Balm in Gilead: The Cultural Roots of Martin Luther King Jr. by Lewis V. Baldwin
  • To Make the Wounded Whole: The Cultural Legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by Lewis V. Baldwin
  • Uncovering Racism from the Covenant Bible Studies series
  • The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb: A Spirituality for Leadership in a Multicultural Community by Eric H.  F. Law
Two books for the kids:
  • Children Together: Teaching Girls and Boys to Value Themselves and Each Other by Kathryn Goering Reid and Ken Hawkley
  • Hand in Hand: Helping Children Celebrate Diversity by Ella Kikuno Campbell et al
Before beginning discussions, establishment of the meaning of terminology was done:

I know it's odd for an atheist to be posting stuff with such religious overtones, but this was all part of the program--can't separate that out. Now--whitefolk who are still scratching their heads over the Department of Justice's walking back of federal drug charges because of sentencing disparities, scratch your heads no more.  Here's the explanation:

video
The next clip makes a point about prejudice with power, but not before a point was made about how careful blackfolk have to be about what they say.  There is another clip that I will post later that addresses this, too, so before I present that, keep in mind this first bit and keep in mind how much harder it was for blacks to manage to say the right thing that wouldn't put them at risk for life/limb in the early 1900s.

I'll be bringing up (yet again) the bugbear regarding how Bert Williams' genius continually gets shoved under a rug while Mark Twain and Will Rogers get all the credit for wordsmithing in that era.  Neither Twain nor Rogers had to deal with what Williams had to, on pain of possible death, and it's part of the reason why I think he's a genius for becoming the success that he was as he kept dancing on the edge of that particular cliff at the turn of the last century, nevermind a teen in a hoodie in TODAY's age, losing his life for just looking wrong with Skittles and tea...

video


....now, then--I'm typing in your name for your attention to the next clip, Ilene, because of the size and the scope of the mistake you made in passing off Bert Williams as nothing more than a mere minstrel.  Listen to this man, and keep in mind he's talking about Memphis TN in the 1960s and not a nation that had just barely put Reconstruction in its rear view mirror when Williams was mouthing off in the Follies.
.

video

One form of prejudice is stereotyping, and when it comes to Bert Williams, certain "historians" (and I use that term loosely) are prejudiced in spades, so to speak.  Such "experts"won't listen to facts at all.  So listen to this man, not me, if that's how you are. Facts remain facts regardless of the source.

As for me, I know better when it comes to Bert Williams--as I've said before, he was a genius. And so is Roc even though he'll go down in the annals of history as a pugilist, not an outstanding TV dramatist.  May he never suffer the same fate by a future scholar that Bert Williams has suffered by the hands of experts though they above all should know better.
It's the fact that black history isn't pretty that makes what Bert Williams did, even as a minstrel, even in the Follies, that shows his genius. And it's what makes any effort to pretty it up disingenuous.  This is the kind of stuff that's too important to play that kind of game with.
12 Years a Slave (movie)


Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Congressional tantrums, Day Two. Thank you, 1800s.

Interesting article presented by Pro Publica via Twitter this pm, which linked to an Atlantic article about the rather antique Antideficiency Act.

What's different about today's conniptions is that "privatization" of government functions, including the military, wasn't at the great extent it is today, thanks to Republicans from "red states" that have the biggest military bases.  They're clearly not making private companies employed by the military and who voted majority Republican very happy.

Gives the phrase "cut off the nose to spite the face" a whole new meaning.

News just now down the pike is that there are some congressional tantrums being thrown about the closing of national parks even though they're not an essential service, just because of what happened with a group of veterans.  Apparently those who originally thought we wouldn't miss the government there totally forgot what global attractions they are for people of other nations on holiday, and that the shut down of national parks basically advertise to the world just how bonkers (and myopic) the whole deal is.

It hasn't occurred to politicians worried about "optics" just how big an ass they've made of themselves to the entire planet. Passing a new bill NOW isn't going to undo that. Nor will we find out in a timely manner what every result of every congressional vote is because people that issue updates have noted that their congressional sources have been dismissed for the duration.


Since the time I wrote the above earlier, President Obama appeared for an interview on CNBC to talk about all this in terms of the American economy, and BBC World was right on top of this interview too, noting that global economies are tied to the tanking that the Dow Industrials have been engaged in of late, related to the #shutdown.  Republicans have thusfar been presumed the corporation-friendliest party, and yet one of the arguments forwarded by them is a resentment for a corporate exception in the previously-submitted budget bill from the Senate.  Are they even considering how their failure to send a riderless clean resolution to the Senate is also jeopardizing the ability of corporations to do business overseas when their overseas business partners have become skeptical of their favorite party's inability to do political business?

Everything that conservatives have ever stood for previously (pro-business, government privatization, etc.) have been shown, under these circumstances, to be complete folly in terms of global leadership.  As of the #shutdown, America has abdicated global leadership both politically and economically at this point--who would be stupid enough to follow us now?

DAY THREE:

I note with interest that Obama's speech in Maryland this morning did cover the international implications of this congressional snit but that's not going to undo the damage that's already been done to what little global leadership the U.S. had even after the foolish Iraq invasion, which had already eroded that.  Everybody was shocked, but certainly not awed, and what little awe we had then was already dispensed with.

A government that conducts itself in the manner that Congress has, clearly cannot be relied upon by others elsewhere in the world.

And now an NRA-protected lunatic is shooting at the U. S. Capitol.  NRA = BFF of organized crime and loonies, not the least of which are the loonies in the House. I hope that the Capitol police haven't been furloughed. Of course the internationals are right on top of it as if the U.S. could do with another hit to its global leadership.

Word up is that the security breach occurred just outside the White House on the side near the Treasury Department (15th St. & Pennsylvania Ave) and via pursuit wound up at the Capitol building. Lockdown is now lifted at this time.

Telegraph--video
Deja vu 1998 incident
Washington Post--reactions of lawmakers

Oh yeah--NOW we forget about Iraq.

Okay, DC incident is over and I'm sure you'll get full details from your usual favorite source of news.