Sunday, March 31, 2019

Not a Review, Just a Musing

Watched The Highwaymen on Netflix last night.

I liked it. The actors involved all turned in strong performances. Everyone (OK, everyone who bothers much with history) knows how the story ends, but the movie gets there well, and from a different viewpoint than previous Bonnie and Clyde pics that I've seen.

But the most enjoyable part for me was ... nostalgia.

Not for the events, really, since Bonnie and Clyde took their dirt naps 32 years before I was born.

Nostalgia for an American terrain that was fast disappearing when I was a kid and is all but gone now.

When I was a kid, growing up astride what was left of Route 66 halfway between St. Louis and Joplin, the Interstate Highway System was still a big freakin' deal. Four lanes of freeway. If you weren't on that, pretty much everything was two lanes. With pavement and ditches if you were lucky, but not always either of the two.

There's a particular gas station in the movie that I remember several of in out-of-the-way locations from my childhood. Not the brand, although the one I remember offhand was a Skelly Oil station. Not the pumps -- I remember seeing some of the older style pumps, no longer in operation, but still rusting on the islands next to the pre-digital "rolling analog numbers" pumps. But the building itself,  maybe 10' x 15', with a gable held up by two square pillars extending out over one side of the two pumps.

One of the cars in the movie has an AM radio in it. I guess having a radio at all was pretty high-end circa 1934. By the time I started driving, AM/FM and maybe a cassette player was standard (CDs as a general commercial proposition were still a couple of years away). But my first car was a year old than I was, and had just an AM radio in it (I wired up an old 8-track tape player I got for a buck at a garage sale).

In most respects, tooling around the southern Missouri countryside by car in the mid-1980s wasn't so wildly different from doing so in the 1930s that either would have been unrecognizable as an experience to someone yanked out of one end of the timeline and plopped down in the other end. Two-lane roads, country general stores and tiny gas stations with their owners' names on them, etc. Cell phones? Hah. If you were lucky, there might be a pay phone within 20 miles.

These days it seems like it's hard (or maybe not so hard, you could ask that there Internet to do it for you) to find 20 miles of two-lane road in a row, and the gas stations, stores, and restaurants at each end of that 20-mile stretch will be mostly national or regional chains.

Which is not to say that I want to go back to those old days. But I do like to visit what's left of them when I can, in real life or on the screen.

As for actual Bonnie and Clyde nostalgia, I've really only got a few bits.

When I was a kid, there was an exhibit that toured the country, claiming to be the car they got shot in. It would pull up in a town, semi-trailer with the car in it, some steps to walk in and out on, and I think it may have been a buck to get in. Was it the real car? I don't know. Looks like the pictures I've seen, complete with bullet holes, shattered windows, and blood all over the place.

Of course, I had to ask my mom about them. Bad people, she said, they shouldn't have made such heroes out of them. She was an infant herself when they got shot, but I guess people were still talking about it years later.

Later I lived in a tiny town -- Reeds Spring, Missouri -- where one of their famous shoot-outs with cops took place (there's still an annual festival celebrating that, I guess, although I never noticed it when I was there).

Friday, March 29, 2019

I Have No Pony and I Must Scream

I finished Vermin Supreme's campaign book, i PONY: Blueprint for a New America yesterday (not an affiliate link).

Watch for my review on Free Pony Express. I'm not sure you'll see it there, but watch for it anyway.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

I've Held My Tongue on Jussie Smollett Until Now ...

... for several reasons. I neither believed nor disbelieved his initial story until the narrative started to go south on him and he ended up charged with filing a false police report and such -- after which I just didn't find the whole thing especially interesting. Hate crime hoax stories are pretty common and the only thing distinguishing this alleged hate crime hoax story from most was that it involved an actor I'd never heard of who starred on a show I don't watch.

So now, the charges have been dismissed and the case has been sealed. Meanwhile, Smollett agreed to forfeit his bail and had apparently already done some community service.

I agree that that sounds pretty fishy, and of course it has a bunch of people -- including some Big Names -- upset. Here's the summary I'm hearing from commentators high and low:

"If you're rich and famous, the price of getting off for a felony offense in Chicago is ten grand."

And that just might be the case. But let me offer another possibility:

You haven't really got the goods. You've got a case, but not an airtight case. I'm not pleading. Want to roll the dice with a jury? Fine.


Every cop involved, from the officers who initially responded to the scene, to the investigators who drummed up the false police report against me, to the police chief who decided to flap his yap about it in public, is going to go on the stand.

And each and every one of those cops is going to get grilled about each and every episode in his or her career where he or she was accused of false arrest of a black citizen, or of a gay citizen, or of disbelieving a black citizen's complaint or a gay citizen's complaint that turned out to be true.

Did any of those cops ever shoot a black "suspect" who turned out to be an innocent bystander?

Did any of those cops ever decide a domestic dispute wasn't as one-sided as the complainant claimed, tell everyone to calm down and leave, then have to come back a few hours later to process a murder scene?

By the time my lawyer gets done with those cops, the jury will believe they think every black citizen and gay citizen in Chicago is blowing smoke up their asses when a crime gets reported, and that they wouldn't recognize a real criminal if one snuck up behind them and whacked them across their asses with a bass fiddle.

Or you can keep that ten thousand dollars and let it go.

Your call.

Not saying that's how it went down, but I think it's at least as likely as "he's rich and famous, give him a pass."

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

One of Many Ways to Know You're About to Hear Something That's Completely Wrong

When someone says (or writes) "libertarians and conservatives" or "conservatism and libertarianism" as if the two were similar, you know you're about to be sucked down a rabbit hole of egregious error.

It's not that conservatives and libertarians never agree on anything.

It's that their philosophical groundings are different -- in fact, mutually exclusive -- making any such agreements mere temporary coincidence.

Even a home invasion robber and a home invasion robbery victim might happen to agree that it's better for the victim to hand over the jewelry than be killed. But they're operating from two very different desires.

The robber wants the jewelry and prefers to not have murder charges added to his tab if he's caught.

The victim doesn't want to give up the jewelry and would probably like to see the robber go down as hard as possible if caught.

But the victim wants to live, and the robber happens to have reasons to want to let him live. That's their only commonality.

They're not friends. They're not "kissing cousins." They're not aligned toward the same general goals.

Neither are libertarians and conservatives.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Mueller's Handicap

I've been calling the "Russiagate" "scandal" BS since pretty much the beginning, but I expected Mueller to find some way to assert collusion. I think I've figured out why he didn't, and I can name the tune in two words:

Hillary Clinton.

"Russiagate" was always about finding an excuse, some excuse, any excuse for Clinton's election loss that made it not her fault. Mueller's record is that of a guy who makes sure the establishment always gets what it wants. But in this case, he also had to carefully avoid giving the establishment what it didn't want, which was anything that made Clinton continue to look just as dirty as Trump on the same issues.

There WAS collusion between the Trump campaign and "Kremlin-connected Russians."

But there was ALSO collusion between the Clinton campaign and "Kremlin-connected Russians."

That is, both campaigns tried to tap "Kremlin-connected Russian" sources for dirt on their opponent. Trump campaign people met with a "Kremlin-connected lawyer." Clinton campaign people outsourced their Russian collusion to Fusion GPS and British MI6 agent Christopher Steele.

The only way Mueller could assert collusion without damaging Clinton just as badly as he damaged Trump would be if he found collusion of a very different type or on a vastly larger scale. Calling the collusion he did find "collusion" would just bring Clinton right back into things. It would be a worse problem for the establishment than just saying there was no collusion at all.

Likewise, indicting any Americans with real political clout (as opposed to Russians who'll never see the inside of a US courtroom) on those specific charges (as opposed to hiding money from the tax man and so forth), absent proof of different/worse collusion, would bring us to  another one of those "we can't go after Hillary Clinton because she's Hillary Clinton -- but yeah, anyone else who pulls that kind of shit goes under the jail" moments a la James Comey on Clinton's grossly negligent handling of classified information. Which, really, was the beginning of the end for Clinton in 2016.

Basically, Mueller would have had to catch Trump putting a piece of tape on a telephone pole, then leaving the nuclear launch codes in an envelope under a park bench for an SVR agent to pick up, to "get" him without "getting" Clinton too.

Friday, March 22, 2019

If You Were on @DougStanhope's Email List ...

... you would know what I know. So you should really sign up for that.

Note to Doug: I got married at that very hotel once. Hopefully things will work out better for you.

Second note to Doug: Stop being a primitive troglodyte asshole and get an RSS feed for your podcast, dude.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Missing Factor

From the St. Louis, Missouri Post-Dispatch:

For the 14th time this year, an Illinois trooper is struck by passing motorist

Authorities say the factors for other crashes involving parked police cars can include people driving too fast, being distracted or not being aware of the law that requires them to move over.

Here's another factor that nobody seems to mention:

Even a few years ago, when a cop pulled a motorist over, the cop then pulled in behind the motorist on the shoulder of the road.

These days, every time I see a cop-stop, the police vehicle is parked catawampus across the right traffic lane of the road, just waiting to be t-boned by someone who didn't notice the flashing lights. At which point physics gets to work and suddenly you have two large pieces of metal flying uncontrolled around the roadway where either or both are likely to hit the cop who's outside writing a ticket, or the parked car on the shoulder, or oncoming traffic, or some combination of those things.

Which seems to be what happened here -- the "passing motorist" also hit the trooper's car, and at the moment they don't know (or aren't admitting they know) whether it was the trooper or his car that got hit first.

I understand the theory -- the cop standing next to the pulled-over car is vulnerable, and if he parks his car catawampus across the road maybe it gives him some protection from that inattentive motorist. On the other hand, there's still some risk to the cop, and there's dramatically increased risk to everyone else on the damn road.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

RIP Dick Dale, 1937-2019

I could have sworn I posted this the day he died, but a reader asked me why I hadn't mentioned it, and ... well, obviously I didn't. He was one of the great ones. Here, have a video reminder of why.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A Serendipitous Coincidence

That cheap k-cup type single cup coffee maker I bought around Christmas time gave up the ghost today.

I can't really blame it. We used the hell out of that thing, to the tune of usually at least 4 or 5 cups a day. It started brewing half cups a few days ago. I de-scaled it, cleaned the needle, etc., per instructions. That didn't seem to help. The instructions also noted the reservoir could be cleaned by putting water in it and shaking it. After I did that, it stopped working entirely. Probably a thermostat or sensor  stopped working right and then the shaking tore something else loose.

But like I said, we used the hell out of it, and we're not going back to brewing a full pot. We don't normally use pre-bought "k-cups," but rather little "k-cup"-shaped filter baskets that we just put coffee in before brewing. That way, instead of me brewing a full pot, drinking aging coffee all day, probably brewing a second post, etc., we just make a cup when one of us wants a cup. Less coffee wasted, and it's fresh, and I get the kind/strength of coffee I want while Tamara gets the kind/strength of coffee she wants.

The serendipitous coincidence: I happened to get about $80 worth of Bitcoin Cash earlier today. And what do you know, there's an actual Keurig at Amazon for about $80 (not an affiliate link). Has a 52-ounce reservoir so we don't have to add water each time we brew a cup. And comes with a "variety pack" of coffee too. So I headed over to Purse (yes, an affiliate link). Should be here by the end of the week. I'll use the French press until then.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Wanna Hear Me Badmouth the Trump Administration on Russian State Media?

If so, tune in to Sputnik Radio at 6:40pm Eastern.

Sorry for the short notice, but the interview didn't get arranged until about 3:30pm and we taped at 4pm.

Update: You can find the interview here, starting at about 47:20.

Wow, That Was Quick

I reported for jury duty this morning. Lady took my summons and told me all the cases for the day had been resolved (plea bargains, I presume) and that they wouldn't be needing any jurors.

With a population of more than 250,000, I have to think quite a few cases must come through Alachua County's court system. It's depressing, although not surprising, that few of them ever get to a jury.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Well, That About Wraps it up for Beto

I'm sure that many, perhaps even most, presidential candidates have never taken LSD.

But damned if I'll vote for one who admits it.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

A Song You Should Listen to ...

... because it's a great song. And because A Picture Made is one of my favorite bands, and the more listens they get, the better it looks for them. It's an old song, re-recorded for their upcoming first album (they released an EP, Past, back in the '80s and it's still one of my favorite listens).

Friday, March 15, 2019

They've Got a Lotta Nerve

Some selected tweets:

The New Zealand attacker(s ?) killed 49 innocent Muslims. That's a rounding error in stats relating to the number of innocent Muslims killed in air strikes, drone strikes, SEAL raids, etc. ordered by these two.

Says the vile creature who chortled "we came, we saw, he died" when Muammar Gadaffi was brutally killed on video while around him thousands of innocent Muslims also died in a civil war she cultivated and cheered on, and who inquired as to whether she could have Julian Assange assassinated for exposing her own crimes.

Suggested response from innocent Muslims:

When Social Media Choose to be Part of the Problem ...

Per CNN:

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are struggling to halt the spread of horrific footage that appears to show a massacre at a mosque in New Zealand as it was taking place.

If Facebook, YouTube and Twitter had been around in 1963, they'd have been "struggling to deal with" -- that is to suppress -- the Zapruder film.

If they'd been around in 2001, they'd have been trying to make sure we never saw the second plane hitting the World Trade Center towers.

And that there is a bunch of bullshit.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

This post is about SlackSocial, which didn't seem to initially allow me the option of titling it. Just sayin' ...

This is a test post using SlackSocial, a service I just discovered for drafting, scheduling, and publishing posts to Facebook and/or Twitter and/or LinkedIn and/or Tumblr and/or here at Blogspot.

So far I like SlackSocial better than Hootsuite, which wouldn't leave me the hell alone when I had its Chrome app installed -- instead of waiting for me to invoke it when I wanted it, it would cover up important buttons with its own "hootlet" link on various sites. Since I only used Hootsuite for specific scheduling tasks on Google Plus, I ditched it when the API for that stopped working. I've tested SlackSocial on Twitter and LinkedIn. As you may have noticed if you're into it, Facebook has been down much of the day, so no joy there. If it works and plays well with Blogspot, I'll probably use it as my preferred scheduling app when I'm handling social media for clients, etc.

Anyway, if this is the kind of thing you use, feel free to check it out via my affiliate link (here -- and hmm, it's already having its first malfunction, "insert link" doesn't seem to work in its rich text editor, so I may have to edit the post when it publishes -- anyway, There's a "free" level (that's what I'm using). If you join through me and decide you like it and need one of their premium levels, I get a 10% cut of your payments to them.

Let's see how this works out.

Update: Yeah, a couple of problems. The "insert link" function did something, but it wasn't visible and wasn't right. Might be something I can look up and find a solution to that I should have known all along. Also, there doesn't appear to be a way to title a Blogspot post within SlackSocial. But it does seem to work great on Twitter and LinkedIn, so there's that.

More Bait and Switch Price Fraud at eBay

I thought it would be cool to get one of the new Stephen Hawking themed 50p coins from the UK, and went to eBay to see what they're selling for:

Not being a collector of fine coins, just someone who thinks it would be cool to have a particular coin, I hoped that the $1.30 price represented a non-mint/circulated coin (face value of about 65 cents US), with the $20 US range being for mint/uncirculated.

Well, no. The $20 coins are indeed uncirculated. The $1.30 coins aren't coins. They're "mintage guides" (papers about coins).

But because these sellers had something in their listings priced at $1.30-$1.36, even though that thing wasn't the thing actually advertised, they showed up at the top of price-sorted listings for the thing advertised.

Scummy and dishonest and as I've said before, eBay should boot sellers who pull this kind of shit off their platform.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Flowers For Bo

That's the name of the guitar, not a song title -- it's just me noodling.

It's not finished yet. Gonna get rid of that "three on a bar" set of tuners (my mistake) and install individual Shane Speal signature tuners (I'll have to take a quarter inch of thickness off the headstock for that, I think), then decide whether to bring it up to open G or open E when the strings arrive. So far I'm reasonably happy with how it's coming out. You can't see it in the picture, but there's a piezo rod pickup inside and a pre-amp with control panel on the rear right bottom. And there will eventually be art on the box and headstock, and possibly fret markers (no actual frets -- it's for slide playing) on the neck

Sounds muddy, doesn't it? I didn't know for sure yet if that was the guitar (it has cheap electric strings on it, awaiting better ones, and as I expected that tin box really resonates/vibrates), or the low tuning (open D on three strings), or my playing (because, as we all know, I'm not very good). I jacked it up a couple of octaves in a sound editor and it came off as more crisp. But I guess we'll see how it sounds as it progresses.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

"It's official. We are living in the future."

That's the final line of a story on Android Authority about the expansion of Google Duplex to more areas (and, eventually, to phones other than the Google Pixel).

Google Duplex lets Google Assistant make phone calls (if necessary) on your behalf and schedule reservations/appointments. It has a human-sounding voice, but does identify itself as a digital assistant.

Like this: "OK Google, schedule a table for four at 9pm tomorrow night at [insert restaurant here]." After you do that, Google looks up whether or not the place takes reservations. If so, it schedules your reservation that way. If not, it calls up the restaurant and talks with them to get your reservation.

Which may seem kind of trivial, but I don't think it is.

Digital assistants can already handle or partially handle a bunch of things that used to be more difficult and/or time-consuming.

I don't use Google Assistant for much other than in the car when I need directions ("OK, Google, navigate to 123 E Street") or a quick answer to something of immediate importance or interest ("OK Google, what are the hours at Publix's pharmacy today?"), because my choice of "home" assistant is Amazon's Alexa system. So I'll go with that one since I know it better.

"Alexa, set an alarm for 6am" (instead of futzing with a clock).

"Alexa, what's the weather?" (instead of watching the news on TV or sitting down to look it up on the web).

"Alexa, play songs by the Grateful Dead" (instead of finding and using an album, cassette, CD, MP3 player, etc.).

"Alexa, turn off the living room light" (instead of getting off my fat ass and walking over to the switch).

Etc., etc.

All of which seemed like science fiction 20 years ago, I guess, but having a digital assistant interact with other humans or THEIR digital assistants for you takes it to a whole new level.

Science fiction, even pretty recent science fiction, is full of "fetches" and "avatars" and so forth -- digital assistants who basically handle all of your affairs if you let them and those devices are one way of signaling that the story is set in the future, not the present.

It does sound like we're just about there, doesn't it?

I'm kind of looking forward to the day when I can just yell "Alexa, book me a flight to Columbus on Thursday, to return the following Wednesday, and a rental car for all of those days, with a hotel for each night I'm gone convenient to [address]. Keep it under $X. Oh, outside of that budget I also want a table for two at [insert restaurant] at 6pm on Friday; you know my order, I'll fill you in on my guest's when I have it." And bam, the next time I look at my phone, there's my itinerary.

Privacy? Surveillance? They're watching all of us all the time anyway. Might as well take advantage of the conveniences that come with it.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

In the Same Vein as the Previous Post ...

Let me, like Barack Obama, be very, very clear here:

The "anti-anti-Semitism" resolution in the US House of Representatives isn't about anti-Semitism, or about any other kind of hate or bigotry.

It's about the Israeli lobby throwing its weight around.

The fact that the measure is actually controversial is good news.

It means that things are changing.

Until recently, an "anyone who criticizes this particular ethno-religious garrison state, or for that matter fails to support giving that ethno-religious garrison state's government anything it might happen to demand, HATES JEWS!" resolution like this would have passed pretty much without objection.

Until recently, any American politician with the unmitigated gall and temerity to fail to render sufficiently numerous and effusive standing ovations when the prime minister of Israel deigned to address Congress, to question the billions of dollars in annual US welfare checks to Israel or Israel's de facto veto over US foreign policy, or, heaven forfend, to even so much as mention the influence (heck, the existence) of the domestic Israeli lobby could count on (possibly after one warning, like the warning that turned Donald Trump from "neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" to "the most pro-Israel presidential candidate in history") very quickly finding a smoking crater in the spot where his or her future political prospects once resided.

The thing might still pass, but the fact that there's an actual fight over it means the time when that stuff can't be talked about without fear is passing.


If "anti-Israel" Means "anti-Jewish" ...

... does "anti-Russia" mean "anti-Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and other religions and creeds which constitute an inseparable part of the historical heritage of Russia's peoples?"

Just asking.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Remember that SNL Sketch ...

... where Chris Christie says he'll vote for Mitt Romney but just hates, hates, hates, doing it? Heck, here it is (poor quality, best I could find that was embeddable):

That's about how I feel when it comes to defending that lying slimebag Roger Stone.


This gag order nonsense means I have to.

That is all.

Monday, March 04, 2019

I Think the Next Guitar Build ...

... is already "blessed."

I found this tin cake pan at a garage sale quite some time ago. It resonates like a mother****er when I hold an instrument against it and play. It's like a natural sound box.

I decided not to go "primitive" and "whatever I have lying around" on this one.

Went to Lowe's and bought an 8-foot poplar 1x2 for the neck. I had it cut into two prospective necks -- one 37" long, one 41" long, because I like prime numbers. Of course, the actual scale won't be nearly that long. Probably 25", based on advice I've received on the Cigar Box Nation build forums. That will allow me to string it as a conventional 3-string GDC "cigar box guitar," or as a light-string bass.

I told the guy cutting the board at Lowe's (I had to have it cut there since we aren't driving a car that an 8-foot board would fit comfortably in) what it was for, and we started talking. I joked that I might have to take this guitar out to Bo Diddley's grave and play it a little for him. Turns out he knew Bo Diddley, and makes music with the man's grand-daughter. Good juju.

So that's about $10 down.

I may glue a metal yardstick (another 50 cent yard sale find) to the neck as a fretboard. Or maybe not. This is going to be an unfretted guitar or bass, at least for now.

Then I went online to CB Gitty, the premier supplier of cigar box guitar stuff, and ordered a bunch of parts, some that come in quantities good for several builds: 12 ferrules (for feeding the strings onto the neck; I'll use six of them for three strings), 25 washer-head self-drilling screws (for attaching the neck to the pan; I'll use either two or three; the price was better than just buying two or three not-as-good screws at Lowe's), two bone nut blanks (I'll use one for the guitar), two maple "flying bridges" (I'll use one), four screened 1" grommets (for sound holes -- I may use all four); a set of six "three on a plate" tuners (enough for two guitars), and a pre-amp/piezo kit that I may use on the guitar, or set up as a stand-alone pre-amp for multiple instruments (I have a piezo lying around that I can use in this instrument if I want).

So that's another $50. We're into the range I pay for a cheap already-made guitar now, but I'm jazzed about this. I expect it to be my first really quality non-kit build.

I'm hoping to find some good art, have it laser-printed onto iron on transfer paper, and make that pan look interesting. I'm thinking of, hmm, Bo Diddley's face. I thought about getting some metal stain and just turning the thing into a Jackson Pollock knock-off, but that stuff is very expensive.

By the time I get strings on this thing and make noise with it, I may have $100 in it. But if I do the job right, I could probably sell the thing for $200 all day long. If I want to. But I won't want to. I've got the bones of a really nice instrument here if I don't screw it up.

Another (Non-Affiliate-Commission-Producing) Shout Out About How Freaking Great Hostgator Support is

Last Thursday, Rational Review News Digest went down. Hard.

It started with a "bad gateway" error. That only went on for a couple of minutes.

Then the site seemed to come back up, except that when I tried to create or edit content in Wordpress, instead of the post editor opening, the raw code for the post editor displayed.

I did the things I could think of (and completely spaced one thing I should have thought of), did some Googling that led me to a seemingly reasonable conclusion (that Apache was screwing up and a server re-start was needed), and contacted Hostgator tech support.

The support guy checked out the server status. No, there wasn't any obvious problem there, other sites weren't affected, and since I'm on "shared cloud" hosting, no, he wasn't going to bring all those other sites down temporarily with a server re-start.

Then he started trouble-shooting, one step at a time, asking my permission for each thing (e.g. "can I turn off all your Wordpress plug-ins and see if the problem goes away? If so, we can turn them back on one at a time and see which one has gone rogue").

After a good 15 minutes of this (during which he sent a ticket upward in their support structure), he suddenly noticed what I had forgotten:

Everything was still running through Cloudflare. I hadn't turned that off. So we were seeing cached content that wasn't going to reflect the changes we made.

Turned off Cloudflare. Changed to another theme, and Shazam! -- the site worked. Of course, it looked like hell because I run a heavily customized theme (to which I hadn't made code changes in more than two years), but obviously the problem WAS with my theme -- whenever I went back to the theme, the "shows the post editor code instead of the post editor" problem came back, and on the display end of the site a PHP error related to the theme came up.

So, that was the end of his job. Fixing or replacing the theme is my job. His job had actually stopped long before he stopped helping me. As soon as he knew that it wasn't something wrong at Hostgator, he could have just said "your problem, not ours, buddy" and gone on his merry way. Instead, he got me far enough along the track to finish the job myself.

So, thanks again to Hostgator for the above and beyond service I've lauded them for many times on this blog.

I ended up fixing the problem by:

1) Saving the parts of the theme I had customized;

2) Downloading a fresh copy of the theme;

3) Deleting the theme from the Wordpress "themes" folder on the site;

4) Uploading the fresh copy;

5) Replacing the default theme's files with my edited ones, one at a time.

Turns out the problem wasn't with any of my edited (long previously) files. I uploaded them all and the site kept working. My best guess is that a bit or three on the drive / in the default theme files got corrupted by a rogue cosmic ray or something.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

First Post ...

From the new Raspberry Pi 3B+, running Chromium in Raspbian!

The machine took maybe five minutes to put together. But Raspbian downloading updates during initial setup took an hour or more.

So far, so good. Next: Retropie and running a Commodore 64 in emulation!

Saturday, March 02, 2019

From the List of Things I Want to Do During My Life But Probably Won't

I want to appear in a film by Martin Scorsese.

Any part (including an extra who actually does show up in the final product) would do, and I don't care what kind of film. I'd get equally excited about being seen walking past while he interviews the subject of one of his documentaries, or as a body on the floor of a murder scene in one of his gangster flicks.

No lines? No problem. You don't speak to or stare at the director, he speaks to and stares at you? Works for me.

I suppose SAG might have a problem with me paying my own airfare to the shooting location and working without any pay whatsoever. Well, f--k SAG if that's the deal. I'll take it.

Not that it will ever happen. But it's on my list of things that should happen.

Yes, these are the kinds of things I sometimes lie awake thinking about at night.

Friday, March 01, 2019

Why We Might Get Federal Marijuana Legalization Real Soon Now

The Boston Globe reports that "All 2020 presidential candidates now support marijuana legalization efforts -- even the Republicans":

All 12 official Democratic candidates, as well as the potential Republican hopeful and former Massachusetts governor William F. Weld, told the Globe they now support full nationwide legalization, Canada-style.

President Trump, meanwhile, has said he supports states’ rights to legalize.

The idea seems really popular all around.

So if you're President Trump, what do you do right now? If you're smart (and I don't think he's as dumb as some people think he is), you take the issue away from those other candidates. You dispose of it just as the campaign season starts warming up.

Instead of them talking about how they would fix it for the next 20 months, it could be Trump talking about how he has fixed it for the next 20 months.

There are a couple of ways he could go about it.

One would be to go to Republicans in Congress and tell them to get up a clean legalization bill. That is, a bill that "de-schedules" marijuana at DEA and repeals all federal regulations that are specific to marijuana (presumably existing "general" regulations would automatically apply to it just like they apply to Prozac and tomatoes depending on whether it's being prescribed as medicine or sold as a houseplant -- unfortunate, but probably unavoidable if the bill is to pass).

The advantage to going that way would be that it would put all those Democratic candidates who claim to be for legalization, and are currently in the US House or Senate, on the spot. Either they support the bill and that's that (the issue falls out of their campaigning arsenal), or they oppose the bill and have to stop quacking about how they support legalization.

Another way would be for the FDA and DEA to report, respectively, to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General of the United States, in response to their "requests" for such reports, that the latest medical and scientific information don't support keeping marijuana in "Schedule I" status, and for the Attorney General to de-schedule (or at least re-schedule) it.

IMO, the second way would take longer:

Republicans in the US House and Senate will be able to see the political advantages of getting this done, and Democrats will know that voting against it amounts to pissing away potential votes in 2020. This is something that can get done in March unless Nancy Pelosi or Chuck Schumer want to torpedo their own party's candidates with obstructionist BS.

FDA and DEA bureaucrats, on the other hand, could drag their feet for months. They'd look like douche nozzles doing so, too but they don't face the voters -- and since when have Scott Gottlieb or Uttam Dhillon ever given two runny shits what we mere mundanes think about them?

President Trump should schedule a meeting with Rand Paul and Justin Amash to hammer out a quick bill, then up call Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy to let them know that he expects every swinging Republican dick in both houses to co-sponsor it if they want any RNC support in their next re-election bids.

I think there's a better than even chance something like this happens in the next 90-180 days.

Match Request

For those of you who donate to the national Libertarian Party (including membership dues!) ...

The Libertarian National Committee is running a 2020 "Pay-to-Play Libertarian National Convention Theme Contest." Choose the convention theme you like. Make a donation. Theme that raises the most money wins.

As of the last update, the leader in the contest was "Ancapistan."

I loathe that idea. The LP is not an "anarcho-capitalist" party. Many of its members aren't anarchists; many of them aren't capitalists. The theme doesn't signal anything about the party that's substantive and truthful.

My preferred alternative, which happens to be in second place as of the last update, is "TANSTAAFL" (it stands for "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch").

I don't know if TANSTAAFL the very best of all possible convention themes, but it's the one with the best chance of beating "Ancapistan," and I suspect it will be very relevant next year, especially if the "Green New Deal" is still a thing as the election cycle heats up.

Nice kicker: Any donation you make to the LNC, including for this contest, accrues toward dues for your annual "sustaining membership" or even toward the $1,500 (must be within a 12-month period) "lifetime membership."

I went ahead and popped $25 for TANSTAAFL, and to take care of my upcoming "sustaining membership" renewal. If you're a member/donor, I respectfully ask that you match my donation. Hopefully for TANSTAAFL, but heck, maybe there will be something else you like better in the list of options.

See you next year in Austin!

The Next Thing I'm Planning to Spend Time Messing with ...

is this (graphic links to Amazon, but it's not an affiliate commission link or anything):

I have a running deal with my younger son. Periodically he'll want something he finds on eBay, but he respects (or at least fears) their Terms of Service too much to set up an account there before he turns 18.

So, I buy or bid on (and pay for) the stuff, and once he owes me enough money to buy me something I want on Amazon, he does that and we settle up.

The thing above is a Raspberry Pi 3B+, with useful accessories (case, heat sinks, power supply) bundled into a kit.

I may just install Raspbian (a Raspberry Pi version of Debian Linux) on it and see if it works well as a substitute for my ChromeOS desktop machine. I'm doubting that it will (it only comes with 1Gb of RAM), but you never know.

Or I might stack Retropie on top of Raspbian. Retropie emulates a bunch of old computers and game consoles. I could re-live my teen "writing games in Commodore BASIC" years (albeit on a faux-64 instead of my beloved VIC-20), or play all the old consoles/games I couldn't afford back when they were new.

Most likely outcome: I get it put together and running, quickly decide I'm bored, and the kid who owed it to me gets the run of it.

But it should be a bit of fun however things turn out.