Tuesday, September 27, 2016

MAKE FACT-CHECKING GREAT AGAIN


Accentuate the positive! I'm really glad I saw this picture. Just a moment before, it was only with some difficulty that I had not replied to a German gentleman on Facebook who said he simply couldn't understand how Amurrka could fall for someone like Trump, and that he was just about through with us --

It was only with great difficulty that I stopped myself from replying, with heavy sarcasm and in polished, elegant German, that he was completely right, and how great it was that Germany had never let itself be taken over by a gang of right-wing thugs --

But instead of sarcastically stirring some Scheisse, I moved on, and I saw this picture, and I reminded myself to accentuate the positive.

Facts. Facts are great. And Hillary's got so much more of them than Donald does.

We're in the home stretch! Let's get pumped up and do this!

And remember -- SOME Germans are being positive and helpful and not taking the opportunity to throw stones in their glass house. So yeah for them too! And for all the rest of the people all around the world who just love us Murrkins to bits and are pulling for us!

As Alec Baldwin sang when he was doing an impression of Tony Bennett on "Saturday night Live," and then the real Tony Bennett joined in, so that it was the ultimate Tony Bennett duet:

I like things that are great!
I don't care about the things that I hate


Solar panels by the hundreds of millions! Expansion of the social safety net! More money for education! Minimum wage bumped up to somewhere between $12.50 and $15 an hour! Hillary!

LET'S MAKE GERMANY PROUD OF MURRKA SOME MORE!

First Debate: Presumably, Now More People Know That Trump Is A Liar

Last night in his first (and maybe last?) debate against Hillary Clinton, Trump said that not paying any taxes shows that he's smart. Then an hour later he denied saying any such thing.

Which makes yesterday a pretty average day for Trump in terms of honesty and integrity. And millions of people have noticed this, and more and more people are noticing.

Trump is following a political strategy which still functioned occasionally a few decades ago, before the Internet, before Presidential candidates were constantly televised. In 1972 Hunter S Thompson wrote about his fellow Democrat and Presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey:

"There is no way to grasp what a shallow, contemptible and hopelessly dishonest old hack Hubert Humphrey is until you've followed him around for a while on the campaign trail."

Because of the changes in technology, today a lot more people "follow the candidates around" via TV and Internet. Back in '72 Humphrey could get away with saying 3 completely different things about an issue in the same day. But today when Trump does it, a tech-savvy 5-year-old can put the video clips together and nail him for it.

I'm not saying that any of this will actually hurt Trump politically. I hope it will. I think it will. But I'm not sure it will. It should be clearer a few days from now, after more polls are in, whether the huge number of people who saw the first debate last night are now more aware that Trump is a lying sack of crap -- even compared to most politicians.

But I'm not sure what effect the debate will have, because I don't understand how Trump has succeeded so far. I really don't know how anybody has ever seen him as anything but a crude snake-oil salesman. I'm hoping that the debate will swing more undecideds from Trump over to Hillary -- but I don't understand how someone can be undecided between Hillary and Trump.

Maybe I just need to put such things into the Nietzschean category of things I don't even want to understand, and move on, and deal with the people with whom I can deal.

As of 3PM, the headlines say that Hillary won the debate by a wide margin, except for some completely crappy biased polls which say Trump won, which are the only polls some right-wing outlets are reporting on. Mendacity.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Excuses

"How can anyone write an entire novel in today's world, with so many media distractions and so forth, bla bla bla!" People who have never actually finished writing a novel have always come up with a lot of excuses for it. That hasn't changed over the centuries. Writing a novel that's any good is extremely difficult. That has also been the same for centuries. There have always been many distractions. People who have written novels have been dissing the ones who made excuses instead, for centuries, and the novelists have always been right.

And then there are the ones, from Vergil to Vikram Seth, who've written fine novels in verse. I stand in awe of them, my cap doffed.

Cervantes, to choose but one example from the novelists, suffered wounds rendering one of his arms permanently paralyzed at the Battle of Lepanto when he was 25 years old. Then he voluntarily spent 3 more years in the Spanish army. Then he spent 5 years as a prisoner of war. And THEN, with one arm, he wrote a whole huge pile of world-renowned literature including one of the best novels ever written.

He wrote all of that stuff instead of whining and making excuses. Not that it would have been very surprising, or even really all that objectionable, at all if a person in his position whined a lot, because, come on.

Most people don't know a lot about how many of their favorite pro athletes accomplished many of their most amazing feats with bruises and contusions and sprains and actual broken bones. That's because sports tends to tear your body up, and top athletes tend not to whine about it too much. Kobe whined about it a lot for some reason, especially when he was so focused for some reason on not getting along with the remarkably-good-tempered Shaq (who played hurt just like Kobe and everybody else), but he was still a great athlete. If you listened a lot to Kobe and didn't investigate the matter much, you might think he was an unusual case as far as the conditions he performed under.

Okay, I need to stop whining about Kobe, I'm getting off track here. Like I say, he was a great athlete.

A lot of great accomplishment in human history have been accompanied by a pronounced tendency not to whine and complain in the face of extraordinary difficulty. I could be wrong, but it seems that most human lives have involved extraordinary difficulty of one kind or another.

It would be interesting to see a list of great novels which were written in prison.

"Hillary Clinton and the DNC rigged the primaries!" No they didn't. And Debbie Wassermann-Schultz did not set out to destroy Bernie Sanders' career. The plain truth is just about exactly the opposite: Bernie Sanders, that non-reality-based paranoid ogre, deliberately ruined Debbie's career -- hopefully only for the moment. Hillary won the nomination, she didn't steal it. But Bernie will always be the Democratic Party's Emperor of Whiny Crybabies.

But of course, in the category of insane, non-reality-based whiny-crybaby excuses, the other party have got us beat hands-down. That orange combover has already been making excuses for a long time for defeats he hasn't even suffered yet: defeats against Hillary in the debates and in November.

I can't imagine anyone with less reason to whine and complain than that whiny crybaby. Except maybe about the size of his penis. That's actually not his own fault.

Alrighty then! Those of us who've been paying attention, let's ramp it up, let's work harder at spreading the news to everybody else, the news that this Presidential campaign is a good, experienced, competent, steady, extremely capable progressive candidate against a whiny orange crybaby who's either an insane bigot or pretending to be one -- and which would be worse?

It's Hillary against a nightmare. Sing it high, sing it low. Go tell it on the mountain. Make the others understand. We have no excuse not to.

Dream Log: A Dime And Nicole Kidman

I had two dreams last night, one about finding an interesting coin, and the other about meeting Nicole Kidman.

The interesting coin was a dime, and I found it on the sidewalk. I was in San Francisco during something called the San Francisco Expedition. (I googles and I couldn't find anything in real life called the San Francisco Expedition.) The Expedition was an annual event where people gathered to discuss the city's history, and other things.

At first the dime appeared to be fairly new, so I was surprised when I saw that its date was 1948. Also, just inside the edge on its reverse (the tails side of a coin is also sometimes called its reverse), there were two gold-colored near-semicircles, one on top and one below, nearly meeting on the left and right, forming a near-circle. Just inside this gold circle in the upper-left quarter of the reverse were raised in relief the words "SAN FRANCISCO EXPEDITION." I think the rest of the relief looked more or less like the relief of a regular FDR dime, maybe made a bit smaller to make room for the gold near-cirle and the extra words, but I don't really remember for sure.

I looked the dime up in a Red Book,


and saw the 1948 San Francisco Expedition dime listed as just slightly more valuable than a regular 1948 dime in uncirculated condition. Google Shopping shows 3 1948 uncirculated dimes for sale, priced $12.50 to $37.50. And no 1948 San Francisco Expedition dimes because they only exist in this dream.

As I was looking in the Red Book, a man said that a friend of his had lost the dime. I gave him the dime and he headed toward his friend, and I followed. The man regarded me suspiciously. He asked me if I expected some kind of award from his friend, or if I might even try to charm his friend into giving me the coin outright.

I pointed out that I had just met him a moment before, and immediately gave him the coin when he said his friend had lost it. I said I didn't know if he was telling the truth about having a friend who lost the coin, but was giving him the benefit of the doubt. I said that the only thing I knew for sure about him was that he was insulting me, assuming right away that I was some kind of crook.

We got to his friend, who was in from out of town for the Expedition, and had a large amount of Expedition-related things: posters from previous Expeditions, various items with "San Francisco Expedition" written or painted or stamped upon them. This collector thanked me profusely for finding his lost dime, and immediately offered to give it to me. I said that I didn't want to take it. "I don't want to break up your collection," I said.

Then the collector's friend and I went out of the collector's earshot and he mumbled something about how he was sorry he'd assumed right away that I might be a crook, and I mumbled something about how I could understand him being very protective of a friend who was so generous toward complete strangers, some of whom, no doubt, actually were crooks, and we shook hands and slapped each other on the shoulder in a very manly way as we mumbled.

Then I was away from those 2 guys, and on a sidewalk, half-straddling a red 12-speed road racing bike I owned in the 1980's. Nicole Kidman walked by and made some remark about the bike. In the dream in appeared that she knew an awful lot about bicycles. I said I had owned the bike since it was new over 30 years ago. (In real life I crashed it and totalled it when it was a couple of years old.) Ms Kidman looked at me and said something to the effect that, yeah, I looked old enough to have owned the bike for 30 years. That hurt me feelings, but I reminded myself that I actually do look like I'm in my 50's, which I am, and that there was no reason to assume that Nicole Kidman was trying to be mean. On the contrary, she was very nice. It was just quite clear that she didn't find me attractive, and that it didn't occur to her that that might hurt my feelings. (This was much more realistic than a bunch of other recent dreams I've had in which movie stars have found me irresistable.)

Anyway, pretty soon she had to go -- understandable, since she was Nicole Kidman and most likely had a busy schedule, and had not fallen hopelessly in love with me -- and she said, "Well, I guess you want to take a selfie with me." That was understandable, too: most strangers who meet Nicole Kidman probably want to take selfies with her. Like I said, she was being very nice.

I, too, was trying to be very nice and to make it clear that I appreciated that she was being very nice, but that, unlike most people, I really didn't care about selfies, or autographs, or any of those celebrity-related things.

I really don't. I know which famous people and other bigshots I've met, and I don't need to keep physical evidence of it to impress others. I just don't feel the need, one, and two, I know that the famous people get way too many requests for those things as it is without me piling on. I have never in my life asked for an autograph or a selfie next to a famous person.

That's not true: I've done it once in my life. One time, when I was much younger and more susceptible to peer pressure, I was at a reading by a poet in a bookstore in Germany, and since everybody else bought the poet's latest paperback and waited in line for him to sign it, so did I. The experience made me very uncomfortable. Well, here's to growing out of the susceptibility to peer pressure!

Anyway, before we got to the point where I was about to take a selfie purely for Nicole Kidman's sake rather than keep on trying to explain that I didn't need one, although I really thought she was being very nice -- I woke up.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Chess Log: Computer Problems

Last night I was playing chess on the Free Internet Chess Server (FICS), as I have almost every day for, I believe, 12 years. Right now I can't check how long it's been. Ordinarily I'd just go the main console of the Babaschess interface, enter f and my profile would appear, with my overall record for the whole time I've been playing there, my highest official rating, and more info, including the date I joined.

But now when I go to Babaschess, instead of seeing my FICS setup, I see a screen which is grey from edge to edge. I don't know if I did that, or if there's a problem because of the Recent Big Update, or if FICS has closed up shop. I'm pretty sure I did it. More often than I'd like, I unintentionally hit a wrong key and change what's on my PC screen -- the size of a chessboard for example -- and have some difficulty changing it back. Often when I try to change things back I just make things worse.

It's possible that I have that problem unusually severely. That problem, the wetware interface, may be 100% responsible for the grey screen with no controls at my disposal.

I spent some time last night trying to fix my Babaschess connection, then trying to set up another FICs interface, and then I gave up. I said to myself that this could turn out great. For example, I told myself that I could spend all of the time I had spent on chess improving my Latin instead. (It wasn't the first time I had told myself exactly that.) Or maybe I could enjoy chess just by studying chess books.

So this morning, about 5 minutes after I turned on my computer, I looked for other online chess servers, and right away I found Lichess, which I hadn't known existed, and now I play at Lichess. The chess at Lichess is all on the Lichess website, there's no need to a player to set up his or her own interface.

I had been playing at FICS since around 2004, and Lichess launched in 2010, while I was right exactly in the middle of not looking for any other places to play chess.

Maybe I'll actually look around for still other online chess options (this is a very non-autistic thing to say). Maybe FICS is still around and I'll eventually figure out the interface issue. It's not a high-tech issue, or I never would have been able to set up an interface all by myself to begin with, but it's also not as low-tech as playing on Lichess' website. (But even at Lichess, I accidentally made the board much smaller, then somehow made it big again, and haven't figured out how to change its size since then. This is what my life is like.)

Maybe I'll also study those chess books more in addition to playing on line, and also work harder on my Latin, and have a happy well-rounded life. Who knows, maybe I'll even develop friendships to the point where other people, hypothetical future friends of mine, will visit my home and not mind taking a crack at fixing my interfaces and explaining why things suddenly vanish or change because I accidentally hit a key. Maybe they would even know how to change my PC to the point that accidentally hitting a single key would no longer have such disastrous power. It would be a friggin miracle if I could just change some settings so that I can no longer do something I don't want to do by accidentally hitting one key or swiping my mouse incorrectly or whatever the $%#$%#$@#* @#$%^&#$% ^%$# it is.

Maybe -- I have no way of knowing at this moment -- I would learn all about things like that in the first day of a computer class or the first page of a computers-for-dummies type book.

Maybe life will be wonderful even before I become rich and famous. Wouldn't that be weird.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

mee r munkee. mee thinking bout wot itt all meenz

mee r munkee. mee luv yu. mee bin thnkin bout wot it all meenz.

mee let yu no sune az everthng start maikng senss.

bee4, mee nevr think bout thngs like, wot du it all meen? bee4, mee thnk questyuns laik thatt werr meeningluss.

maibee mee werr rite bee4.

mee think Jean-Paul Sartre wurr gud munkee. mee allwaze thnk that bout Jean-Paul Sartre. mee yuz tu totullee nott laik Plato. mee not totullee laik Plato, now, butt fyoo yeerz uhgo, mee reelize: nobuddee ever seen purfuk surrkurl, butt everbuddee no wot purrfuk suurkurl iz.

nobuddee everr haff tuh splain tuh nobuddee wot uh purfek surrkurl iz kuzz everbuddee allreddee no. that blo munkees mind. an, iff munkee unnerstan Plato theeree uv formz rite, that ukzaklee wot Plato wurr talkin bout. that blo munkeez mind mor. munkee wurr no longr abl tu dissmiss Plato.

munkee furst hurd bowt Plato's theeree uv formz, i don no, wen he wer 15 or so. thenn, wen munkee 50 or so, he reelee here wot plato sed. an he kant blo it off. Plato no longr seem lik totull dushbag tu munkee.

that momunt, wen hee 50 or so, wen he reelee here wot plato say bout surklz, and reelize, that Plate izz rite, that turn everthng topsee-turvee 4 munkee. maybee that bout same time munkee start wunnerin wot it all meen.

munkee dunno. that all 4 now. mee luv yu, yr verr nice person, thnk yu verr mutch pleez! baibai!

Friday, September 23, 2016

I Sense A Disturbance In The Force --

-- as if millions of people cried out in pain at once, because each of them had to wait 3 hours for an update.

I didn't know this was coming, I'm not a techie and I don't usually even browse the tech headlines.

It ALWAYS takes a while. So this time, when it actually SAID: "This will take a while." , I said, Hey, good thing I got all of these books! I learned a lot about early-20th-century American Progressives this morning, from Samuel Eliot Morison's Oxford History of the American People. But since I still haven't found out which key it is that I sometimes accidentally hit that makes an entire line vanish, nor if there's anyway to un-do it -- I had to write the previous line twice. (Too much power for 1 key if you ask me, but obviously, nobody's asking me about any of this crap, they're just doing it and expecting me to think it's all just wonderful.)

Several post-update hours, and so far, no freezes for me. My PC was occasionally freezing BEFORE the update and I'm hoping that's fixed now. (Like I have any idea how likely or unlikely that is.)

I don't know why they had to change the desktop background. It's going to be a mild-to-medium PITA to remember how I changed it before the update so I change it back to what I changed it to before the update, but I'll live.

I already hid that pesky "Ask me anything" doodad. Hmm... Wonder if I should un-hide it and ask it to change my desktop background color back to the way it was...

Alrightythen. After a little while I figured out what it was trying to tell me, and I've changed the background, but not to what I thought I was asking for. I've got no time for this particular PITA right now. Hope it's going to be the only one -- HAHAHAHAAAAA!!!