Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Word PSA

austerity, n. the trait of great self-denial (especially refraining from worldly pleasures)

Some synonyms: Frugality. Leanness. Miserliness. Paltriness. Parsimoniousness. Scrimpiness. Self-denial. Unwastefulness. Voluntary poverty.

James K. Galbraith at The Nation: "The debt-limit agreement entrenches long-term austerity."

Barry Grey at the World Socialist Web Site: "Biden-McCarthy austerity debt ceiling bill moves to vote in Congress."

And so on, and so forth.

In what universe is keeping to the same idiotically bloated government spending/debt levels in 2024 as applied in 2023, growing them by 1% in 2025, and exempting military ("defense") spending even from those caps (3.3% increase in 2024) anything like "austerity?" Government spending (and borrowing) has grown MASSIVELY since 2019, and was already so galactically far beyond "austerity" levels as to make use of the term meaningless.

Not spending more than you take in -- which this "debt ceiling deal" doesn't even come close to accomplishing -- isn't "austerity."

The government stealing more than 25% of all wealth generated within its jurisdiction, then borrowing still more in the name of the victims, isn't "austerity."

The only "austerity" involved here is on the part of those victims, not of the government.

Wordle 711 Hint

Hint: If you're adept/adaptable in physical movements and/or mental operations, this word describes you.

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First Letter: A

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Wordle 710 Hint

Hint: One might do this to pray, or to be knighted.

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First Letter: K

Monday, May 29, 2023

Wordle 709 Hint

Hint: Mickey, Mighty, and Danger, to name three.

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First Letter: M

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Wordle 708 Hint

Hint: The wealthy splurge; those who are short of funds do this.

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First Letter: S

Saturday, May 27, 2023

So, No Road Trip This Weekend After All ...

Tamara bought a new (to her) car a few days ago. Last night, our mechanic was changing the serpentine belt and giving it the once-over, with us planning to go to Atlanta on Sunday for Dead & Company concert.

And, of course, something turned up. Coolant leak. Probably (not certain yet) needs a water pump and thermostat. And definitely needs a radiator cap. Because:

The seller had removed the little overflow pressure valve FROM the radiator cap, so that the leak (from within the water pump enclosure) wouldn't be obvious to anyone looking at / test-driving the car.

I wasn't with Tamara when she went to look at the car. I doubt that I would have spotted that bullshit little trick even if I had been.

But anyway, it won't be fixed before we'd need to leave tomorrow, and it's also a cost that makes spending gas money, etc. to get to the concert sound like a bad idea.

Wordle 707 Hint

Hint: This food group is both a lunch mainstay for Americans who are low on money and the basis for an entire genre of Japanese cuisine.

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First Letter: R

Friday, May 26, 2023

Wordle 706 Hint

Hint: Some are actual boars or sows; some are people that remind you of same.

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First Letter: S

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Wordle 705 Hint

Hint: Some people like lox and creamed cheese on theirs. I usually take mine toasted with butter.

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First Letter: B

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Got Here From There

As I mentioned some time back, I had SSL certificates expiring last weekend for several sites I host at NameCheap.

After just paying for two years of hosting, and while paying for the renewals of domain registrations on a regular basis, I just wasn't going to cough up even more for something I could get free elsewhere.

But apparently NameCheap goes out of its way to make it hard to abandon their SSL for e.g. Let's Encrypt. Couldn't remove the NameCheap SSL certificates until they actually expired, which meant down time while installing the new ones.

And then the very nice tutorial I found for installing the Let's Encrypt SSLs ... didn't work. Why? I dunno. Followed the instructions on video multiple times but it never actually gave me the thing to install. My sites were "down" insofar as they were not accessible with https and the pretty lock icon.

I didn't have a Plan B until I suddenly recalled that it wasn't always this way: When I was at Hostgator, SSL "just worked" on my sites. Even though I didn't get Hostgator SSL certificates.

Why?

Because I used CloudFlare. When I switched to NameCheap hosting, that came with its own content delivery network and used LiteSpeed cache. No CloudFlare.

CloudFlare provides several varieties of SSL protection, including a free one.

So I put my sites back on CloudFlare, and a few minutes later they were SSL-encrypted again.

Pain in the ass, frankly. At this point, SSL ought to just be rolled into hosting plans as long as the domains are hosted at the same place they're registered. And I understand that's the case at some hosts. And I have two years to consider whether I plan to continue with NameCheap or look elsewhere.

Side note: Many times I've considered giving up on shared/cloud hosting and just renting a Virtual Private Server. But whenever I do the math on it, it doesn't work out very well. Most places want extra for providing my preferred front end (cPanel), and charge by bandwidth and storage. I don't use a LOT of either (and they're "unlimited"), and generally don't tax a shared hosting account beyond its CPU usage maximums ... but I'd pay three times as much for a VPS using the same amount of bandwidth/storage as I use. I suppose that may change eventually. If so, I'll probably spend the money for offshore hosting in a more privacy-friendly country like Iceland, too.

Everything Old is New Again, Florida Sales Tax Edition

In a supposed "fact check," The Dispatch's Cameron Hilditch disputes the claim that Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a "new tax" into law. It was just a way of getting more compliance, not a "new tax," Hilditch says.

Here's the change:

At one time, if I purchased something from out of state, the state of Florida expected me to fill out a form and mail it the 6% sales tax it claimed I "owed." Yeah, like that was going to happen.

Under the newer law, if I purchase something from out of state, the out of state business has to collect the 6% sales tax from me and send it to Florida's extortion nexus.

A tax that the state can't and doesn't collect isn't a tax.

A tax that the state can and does collect is a tax.

So we're talking about two different taxes here -- one imaginary and one real.

And the real one is "new" versus the imaginary "old" one.

Wordle 704 Hint

Hint: Say it! SAY IT!

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First Letter: U

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

A Musing, Based on My Email Inbox

I'm on a lot of email lists.

A lot of the email lists I'm on are related to DC-area think tanks, policy institutes, media centers, etc. of various partisan affiliations and/or ideological casts.

A lot of the mail I receive is of the "RSVP now for ..." variety. Conferences. Panels. Announcements. Receptions. Etc.

Almost all of those events are "free."

And almost all of them specify that they'll feed you just for coming. Breakfasts. Brunches. Lunches. Dinners. Come listen to their stuff and dig right in.

I strongly suspect I could score at least two "free" meals a day, at least five days a week, not even counting "open bar" happy hours and cocktail receptions.

My late friend John Stone lived in New Orleans for several years, and he once told me anyone who paid for dinner or drinks there during campaign season was a sucker. There was always some politician putting on an all you can eat and drink campaign event at one of the local bars.

It's always campaign season in Washington.

I'm tempted to find the cheapest lodging available anywhere near their metro lines, book a week, and test the proposition.

Well, I'm Getting a New Fitness Tracker ...

Actually, I chose the full smart watch (the Fitbit Versa 4) as opposed to the Fitbit Charge 5. The latter looks a lot like my current tracker, the Amazfit Band 5, which I've been perfectly happy with.

So why change?

Well, in part because it's free, in return for participating in a study through All Of Us (that's not an "affiliate" link -- I don't get paid or anything for sending you there).

And in part because All Of Us in general has been beneficial for me (for example, they've sent me useful ancestry/medical information based on a DNA test I allowed them to do). I like participating in research studies, especially ones that come with direct benefits to me. Like, say, $200 smart watches.

I'm supposed to wear the Fitbit for a year, share the data it generates with All Of Us, and maybe fill out some surveys. That's not very much effort. Hopefully they'll find the data useful and I'll find the watch even more useful than my current one.

The Versa 4 seems to have all the fitness tracker features of the Charge 5 (or my Amazfit), but on the "connect to your phone" end, it actually has a built-in speaker/mic so that I can e.g. make and receive phone calls right from my wrist as long as my phone is nearby, and even speak directly to my Alexa system. Also, it has a larger display, so maybe I won't have to squint to read it.

I'm Not Very Good at Predicting Presidential Primary Outcomes ...

... but I guess it's time to start trying.

My first prediction: The 2024 Republican presidential nominee will not be Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson, Mike Pence, Vivek Ramaswamy, Tim Scott, or Glenn Youngkin.

Wordle 703 Hint

Hint: Some people set records; these people keep records (e.g. for a county or at a hotel desk).

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First Letter: C

Monday, May 22, 2023

Wordle 702 Hint

Hint: A kind of house, or brand of cooler.

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First Letter: I

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Wordle 701 Hint

Hint: Today's Wordle is cocky and overbearing.

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First Letter: B

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Wordle 700 Hint

Hint: A shot from the hip need not necessarily come from a gun. It could also be poured or quaffed directly from one of these.

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First Letter: F

Friday, May 19, 2023

Wordle 699 Hint

Hint: According to K├╝bler-Ross, its first stage is denial.

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First Letter: G

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Wordle 698 Hint

Hint: Today's Wordle can't pull the wool over your eyes -- the wool's already been cut off.

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First Letter: S

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Wordle 696 Hint

Hint: Wake up and smell the coffee (don't forget to add steamed milk)!

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First Letter: L

Monday, May 15, 2023

OK, So That's a Thing

I quit smoking two weeks ago yesterday. I'm still using nicotine in the form of non-tobacco pouches, but I've stepped the dosage down to 2mg and am mostly transitioned to (non-nicotine, sugar-free) gum, which I'll also likely quit at some point.

It didn't occur to me until a few minutes ago that the tingling/numbness I've been feeling in my left pinky for the last week or so when typing might be related.

But yep, tingling/numbness in the hands/feet is listed as a side effect of nicotine withdrawal (my feet are already shot through in that respect by neuropathy, diabetic and other -- the only time I feel them very much is when they occasionally tingle, feel as if they're on fire, or deliver a really strong real pain signal).

I suspect the numbness is showing up in the left pinky because that's probably the finger I use most when typing (I use lots of shift/control/alt stuff).

Wordle 695 Hint

Hint: Up the creek in today's Wordle? Maybe take a break and just do whatever floats your boat.

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First Letter: C

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Wordle 694 Hint

Hint: You might tie one of these around your neck or over your head.

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First Letter: S

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Wordle 693 Hint

Hint: Today's Wordle has a smell to it. A harsh, unpleasant smell.

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First Letter: A

Friday, May 12, 2023

Can't Get There From Here?

I recently paid for a couple more years of web hosting at NameCheap, where I've found the performance and customer service satisfactory.

But now they want basically as much as I'm paying for hosting to renew the SSL certificates on my domains.

So I figured I'd just go with free SSLs from Let's Encrypt.

But I can't install the free Let's Encrypt SSL certificates without removing the existing Namecheap/Comodo SSL certificates.

And I can't remove the existing certificates until they've expired.

Which means my choice is to fork over a bunch of money to Namecheap for something that should be included with hosting and domain registration, or let my sites lose their https connections while I dick around trying to install the free SSLs.

All of which has me a little pissed off.

Update, ~8am: My strategy so far is that I've renewed the SSL certificate for the domain specifically linked to my hosting account, for two years (which is the duration remaining on my paid-up hosting). Im afraid to let that one expire and try to replace it, because if it expires I may not have access to my cPanel facilities for working with anything at all. The others, I plan to allow to expire, so that I can cancel them and replace them with Let's Encrypt certificates. Which sounds like a pain in the ass, and will result in at least short term https outages, but I don't plan to pay for hosting AND pay EXTRA for the "privilege" of people being able to access the hosted sites in the near-universally accepted "secure" manner. Did I mention this pisses me off?

Wordle 692 Hint

Hint: The midnight version of this may not be good for your waistline.

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First Letter: S

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Wordle 691 Hint

Hint: A new one sweeps clean.

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First Letter: B

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Wordle 690 Hint

Hint: Kant's was based on the categorical imperative.

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First Letter: E

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

Wordle 689 Hint

Hint: Some like it hot, but it's also available as a butter.

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First Letter: C

Monday, May 08, 2023

Wordle 688 Hint

Hint: Want to solve today's Wordle? Let there be light!

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First Letter: A

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Wordle 687 Hint

Hint: Along the lines of a ghost or goblin, but this hungry g-creature robs graves.

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First Letter: G

Saturday, May 06, 2023

Wordle 686 Hint

 Hint: Per Yoda, fear leads to it, and it leads to hate.

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First Letter: A

Friday, May 05, 2023

Wordle 685 Hint

 Hint: Down under, not necessarily as applied just to Australia.

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First Letter: B

Thursday, May 04, 2023

Wordle 684 Hint

Hint: Think "small fish," not "young dog."

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First Letter: G

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

What I Don't Get About the Bud Light Boycott

Anheuser-Busch has been brewing sickly, poor excuses for "beer" (under various ownerships/names/brands) since 1852, with few exceptions (Michelob Amber Bock isn't too terrible).

Since 1982, when they apparently moved the Budweiser Clydesdales to new stables from which horse urine could drain directly into their brewing vats, they've been selling the hell out of Bud Light. Millions of Americans with damaged or genetically deformed taste buds have been guzzling the nasty stuff by the can, bottle, frosty mug, and keg ever since.

And all it took to cure 25% or so of them was the company sending a pretty can to a woman whose existence triggers their (presumably taste-bud-defect-related) Moral Panic Over The Current Thing?

Weird. There's gotta be a research paper for someone in this.

Stay Classy, Marjorie David

Per The Daily Beast:
Marjorie David, the vice president of the WGA West, said streamers like Amazon are treating writers like gig workers, which is a “terrible thing to do.” “The streamers don’t care about anything, they think we’re Uber drivers: ‘Come in, do your job, go home, that’s great. You’re free,’” David said. “Not good. We don’t want to be free from health and pension. We don’t want to be free from paying our rent. We don’t want to be free from buying a house or sending our kids to school or anything like that. I don’t like seeing the younger members of the guild -- who are really wonderful and talented -- getting pushed into the corner where they can’t see themselves as professional writers.”
Well, aren't we special! We're really wonderful and talented, unlike those filthy serfs who merely get you where you need to go or bring you the food you need to eat. We spent years learning how to plagiarize Shakespeare, update his lines to the latest slang, add Current Thing humor or angst, and cram it all into 41 minutes!

I love writers -- hell, I am a writer -- and have no problem with writers getting together in a union and driving a hard bargain for their services. But getting on a high horse about how much more special and important you are than regular workers just trying to make it in the world is not a good look.

Wordle 683 Hint

Hint: A whole bunch of people -- the group of this type founded by Batu Khan was Golden. 

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First Letter: H

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Bing Seems to Be Testing for the Same Polling Problem That Bugs Me

The Bing daily poll from yesterday (click on screenshot for larger, more readable version):


I generally assume a "natural" 70% default for the first response. If it's less than 70%, the bottom answer is probably the majority of people who actually bothered to read the question instead of just grabbing 10 rewards points for clicking.

Wordle 682 Hint

Hint: Don't be so quiet and morose -- maybe watching harness racing on TV will cheer you up! 

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First Letter: S

Monday, May 01, 2023

Don't Cry For Me, R.J. Reynolds

Well, the last cigarette was last night, and the effects of the Chantix (in terms of reducing nicotine cravings) have been very obvious for several days. I've still got some On! brand nicotine pouches left, and will use them if I feel like it, but as of now I'm a non-smoker again.

Wordle 681 Hint

Hint: A place where one might cook, or shoot, or be given a home.

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First Letter: R

Thanks For Asking! -- 05/01/23

AMA thread time! Ask me anything (yes, anything) in the comments below this post, and I'll answer there (or elsewhere linked from there).