Whining about Trump and Baby Kim

Published at 16:04 on 30 June 2019

It mostly misses the point. Yes, he’s not getting much in return for legitimizing one of the world’s worst (if not the world’s worst) dictators. Consider the alternative with Trump: it would be war. And considering that North Korea has nukes, the consequences of that would be truly horrific.

So, while the whole escapade is pretty much everything its detractors say, it’s still the best possible outcome one logically could expect, given who occupies the office of the presidency.

The Clown Show, er, Debates

Published at 08:16 on 28 June 2019

First, it was hard to keep all the candidates straight (insert joke about one of them not being straight in the first place). There were twenty of them, fercrissakes. Twenty.

Second, Biden did better than I expected. A huge part of that was this:

That’s right: Biden actually talked about Trump less than Sanders did. He seems to be realizing that it’s not enough to be the Not Trump candidate; you have to offer positive reasons to vote for you.

Third, Elizabeth Warren continued to come off as unelectable. Yes, she has a plan for just about everything. It’s not her plans so much as her style; like it or not, logic plays second fiddle to emotion when it comes to winning elections. I wish it weren’t that way, too, but sadly that’s the way it is.

Fourth, Buttigieg came across as having the most smooth and carefully-chosen answers. If he weren’t so young and inexperienced, he’d be a shoo-in. Alas, he is so young and inexperienced.

It all leaves me feeling somewhat pessimistic, until I realize that, like it or not, Biden is in the lead and doesn’t seem to be doing the awful job I feared he might.

Some Points on Iran

Published at 08:54 on 20 June 2019

US Might be in the Wrong

Consider what happened in 2016. The Navy apparently has a policy of running right up to the very edge of Iran’s marine borders, and sometimes messes up and strays across them. If the latter happens, Iran is completely within its right under international law to deal with the intruders, like it or not.

Beware of Bolton

He’s a first-class, grade A, number one warmonger. Trump probably doesn’t want war with Iran but Bolton probably does.

This is Only to be Expected

  1. Trump is dishonest, incompetent, and incoherent; he’s the last sort of leader anyone would want to manage a war. Iran knows this.
  2. Trump has done virtually everything within his power to alienate Europe from the USA, which further weakens the US’s hand in any conflict (fewer allies). Iran knows this, too.
  3. Tearing up the Iran nuclear deal taught Iran that deals with the West are pointless exercises.
  4. Not attacking North Korea (which had nukes even then) after 9/11, while attacking Iraq (which didn’t), taught Iran that possessing a nuclear deterrent is a good idea.

AOC and “Concentration Camps”

Published at 10:17 on 19 June 2019

First, yes, they are by any reasonable definition “concentration camps.” A concentration camp is any prison camp, usually a makeshift of flimsy one, in which people are detained en masse, often in substandard conditions, for an indefinite period time, and without any sort of formal process of criminal conviction. A concentration camp is not necessarily an extermination camp. Germany built its first concentration camp, Dachau, shortly after Hitler took power. It wasn’t until approximately eight years later that the wholesale slaughter began.

Second, the whole brouhaha over AOC’s (factual) claim shows what a shrewd politician and effective propagandist AOC is. In making her claim, she has successfully managed to shift the public dialogue to talking about the camps. Every time a Trumpist snowflake takes umbrage over AOC’s politically incorrect language violating his safe space, its point is being served: the camps are being talked about.

Personnel Concepts: Scammers

Published at 09:49 on 19 June 2019

So, I got a rather official-looking bit of mail recently, addressed to the small business I’ve licensed:

Then I notice the address the reply envelope is addressed to:

What? Some private business in California? Not a Federal or state agency? Nope; it’s a scam, a for-profit business whose model is apparently based on intimidating firms into thinking they are obliged to purchase their employer “compliance” posters. (Which don’t pertain to me, since my business is a sole proprietorship.)

And they spam people with phone calls, too. They certainly sound like pure scum.

Caveat emptor!

Corporate America is Losing Faith in Empire

Published at 12:00 on 18 June 2019

It’s been obvious for some time that the US empire is on the decline, and the recent announcement by Facebook of the Libre cryptocurrency underscores how the belief in such decline is no longer restricted to those on the political margins.

There’s the proximate reasons being offered, such as Facebook’s desire to diversify its revenue stream, but the bigger one is that Facebook believes there will soon be a demand for a cryptocurrency. (Else, they would have chosen some other lightly-exploited field to venture into.)

The most logical explanation for why such a demand would materialize is a loss of faith in the US dollar. In turn, that’s not likely unless there is a widespread loss of faith in the empire which created and backs up that currency.

A Shrewd Move on Barr’s Part

Published at 07:38 on 12 June 2019

The Democrats have so far refused to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump or Barr, despite multiple incidents of impeachable conduct by both. What lesson does any bully take when his victims refuse to stand up for themselves? The obvious one: bullying works.

Past history has demonstrated that in all likelihood the Democrats will cave to Barr, so why shouldn’t Barr act like this? Just because it’s nice? It is to laugh.

Could It Actually Be?

Published at 21:38 on 9 June 2019

I’ve basically just about totally given up finding a job in the world of bigoted tech bros, because, well, they are bigoted (and thus incapable of believing  someone who’s obviously over 50 can do a good job).

By implication, that means moving out of my current home, which is not affordable unless I earn the sort of income one does as a computer professional. Which, in turn, means moving significantly further away from the big city of Seattle, a place I only moved close to under the assumption that I could find a tech job here.

All things being equal, I’d much rather live someplace with fewer people and more nature. So, there’s a silver lining to the dark cloud of inconvenience that moving (something I’ve done too much of and am generally sick of) represents.

Another bright spot came to light last week, when my investigations revealed that although there has been housing cost inflation there, Bellingham is at least as affordable as Olympia is. That was unexpected, as Bellingham is probably my preferred destination; I’ve long fantasized about what it would be like to live there some day.

Then tonight I learn that I’ll probably get significantly more money for my current home, should I sell it, than I had estimated. I was dreading hearing the opposite news, for the simple reason that the universe has tended to frustrate my life decisions and make everything a struggle in recent years. Could it actually be that that sorry period is finally ending?

Seeing an Old Friend Again

Published at 11:04 on 8 June 2019

As part of my investigation of less-expensive places to move to, I recently took an overnight trip to Olympia. I spent the night camped in the nearby Capitol State Forest. It was there that I noticed a ground cover which I hadn’t seen since I moved away from Portland (where it is very common in Forest Park):

Inside-Out Flower (Vancouveria hexandra) dominates the lower part of the frame.
Inside-Out Flower (Vancouveria hexandra), close-up of flower.

Inside-Out Flower gets its common name from how strongly reflexed its petals are. It is one of a number of woodland flowers which are quite common in western Oregon and the southern half of western Washington, but almost completely absent from the northern half of western Washington. I suspect Ice Age glaciation might have something to do with that distribution.

Olympia is about as far north as you normally see it, though I have received a report of it being seen here on Bainbridge Island, in an apparently natural setting, this spring.

Yes, It’s a Cult

Published at 10:44 on 2 June 2019

Many cults have their members dress distinctively in public. Here’s one stereotypical example from the 1960’s:

How is that fundamentally different from this (snapped recently on the ferry one afternoon):

Answer: it’s not. Not so far as I can tell. Both expect you to turn over your life to the cult. With cult religions, it’s rituals and faith-based beliefs in things that cannot be proven. With cult employers, it’s the cult of high technology.

Both cults expect you to devote your life to the cult, wearing the clothing the cult provides, and devoting your “free” time to activities the cult approves of, generally ones that support the cult’s mission.

And I think that, in addition to my age, is really hurting my employability. I have my lifelong interests, and I’m not interested in putting them on the back burner in the name of prioritizing any cult’s interests (no offense, geeks, but role playing games and science fiction simply don’t interest me). I’ve developed my own idiosyncratic sense of personal style, and I’m not interested in changing it in order to become a human billboard for some business. I regard social networking as a baleful influence on society, and participate in it only reluctantly, under an assumed name. I firmly believe that what I choose to do in my unpaid hours is none of any employer’s business.

If you value your personal liberty, you don’t belong in a cult of any kind. It’s just that simple.