Friday, April 15, 2016

Colorado Voters Were Disenfranchised. Who is next?

Donald Trump wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal.

On Saturday, April 9, Colorado had an “election” without voters. Delegates were chosen on behalf of a presidential nominee, yet the people of Colorado were not able to cast their ballots to say which nominee they preferred. 
A planned vote had been canceled. And one million Republicans in Colorado were sidelined. 
In recent days, something all too predictable has happened: Politicians furiously defended the system. “These are the rules,” we were told over and over again. If the “rules” can be used to block Coloradans from voting on whether they want better trade deals, or stronger borders, or an end to special-interest vote-buying in Congress—well, that’s just the system and we should embrace it. 
Let me ask America a question: How has the “system” been working out for you and your family?
This isn't about who you like or don't like. I don't care if you don't like or support Trump. The fact that they can do it to him means they can do it to everybody. Why even pretend to have elections? The elite might as well just appoint whomever they want without the show. The fact is, there are plenty of people who for whatever reason believe out of the choices available, Trump is the best one. On the Democrat side, Bernie Sanders is getting a lot of support. Hillary is a pretty well-connected insider. What if the party starts cutting Bernie out of the vote in some states? If the Republicucks can do it, surely the Demonicans will be next in line to try.

The US has never been a democracy. It has always been a republic. Democracy is a horrible form of government. It's a poor way to run a family much less a nation. But, the "party line" is "we're a democracy!" No, we're not. Benjamin Franklin, coming out of the Constitutional Convention, was asked by a woman "What sort of government shall we have, Mr. Franklin?" His response was "A republic, if you can keep it."

I tried to find the YouTube clip of a Republicuck insider saying the party determines the nominee, not the voters. I can't locate it. I even looked through Mark Dice's channel, figuring he would have commented on it. In the video, the hostess asked him "Then why bother voting?" He responded, "That's a good question."

I don't consider myself either a Republicuck or a Demonican. I grew up as an "Air Force Brat" during the Carter and Reagan years. I wrote George H.W. Bush "Read my lips; no new taxes" off to being bullied by a Democrat Congress into breaking his campaign pledge. It was during his son's years that I realized whatever I believed politically, the Republicuck insiders did not believe it as well, and did not represent me. I've since drifted into libertarian and anarchist type circles. If nothing else, Trump's candidacy is showing what a controlled farce the American political system has become.

And finally, a word about conspiracies. Most people are hesitant to believe that conspiracies exist in any way, shape or form. I personally think their cognitive dissonance has them believing if they accept that the two party system is conspiring to keep its own power, then they also have to accept lizard aliens and UFOs and all that stuff. No, you don't, you idiots. You can take each and every one on its own merits and evidence. If I conspire with your friend to beat you up and take your lunch money, that doesn't mean accepting it means you also now believe lizard aliens inhabit the Earth's core.

Wired: It's 2016. Why Can't Anybody Build A Freaking To-do App?

Wired had a good article recently about why can't anybody build a decent freaking to-do app. This one resonated with me because it's been a point of frustration for years.

Remember the good old Franklin Planner? It was very useful. With a two page per day format, you had your calendar and task list on one side, and your notes on the other. It was a really good format, and yet nobody has been able to replicate it in software. I've tried Franklin Covey's "Plan Plus" software in the past. It sucks.

Building a decent productivity app obviously has some large challenges. For one, it needs to work on multiple platforms. Some people can pick a single platform and dedicate their entire lives to it. Not me. I jump phones left and right. Since about 2010, I went from an iPhone 4 to a Galaxy S3 to a Nokia 920 to an iPhone 6 to a Note 5. I liked the Nokia except for one thing: app support on Windows Phone is abysmal. Even if the app exists, it never gets updated. If it does get updated, it's stupid features. "Kindle update: share your place in your book over Facebook with your friends!" Screw you, Amazon, just let me highlight and make notes. And make a Kindle app for a non-Android or iOS platform that doesn't suck. Kindle for Mac is useless. Kindle for Windows 10 crashes too often for me to tell if it's useful, but I'm assuming it's useless. I've bought more than enough Kindle books and other products through Amazon to justify you spending some time working on updating the Mac and Windows Kindle apps into something that works.

I often hear about some new app that's supposed to be THE SHIT, but it turns out to only work on iOS. That's fine for simple things like "Take out the trash", but if I'm in a big planning session, I'd rather be sitting at my MacBook Pro. But I'm not willing to get some uber-productivity app for only the MacBook Pro, because I can't carry it with me everywhere.

Most productivity apps I encounter are a single feature. It's either a calendar, or a to-do list, or a note app. Why can't we have one with all three in the same place? But no, I have to keep my calendar in Google Calendar, my notes in Evernote, and my tasks in something else; currently Nozbe. And I have to switch between all three while I'm trying to plan or even figure out what I'm supposed to be doing.

Google rolled out tasks in 2008, and hasn't touched them since. Not a single update. I know Google used to allow employees 20% discretionary time. Many of the great Google services came out of that discretionary time. I haven't seen any in years. Do they still have it?  Are they all doing space and robotics now, rather than trying to improve Google services?

Heck, if Evernote could just introduce a new pane that syncs with Google Calendar, that would be good enough, I think, as long as it works offline.

Pocket Informant has tried to be what I'm asking for, but in some ways it's too complex, and lacking in others. The last time I tried to use it, you could only assign one context to a task. And when I tried to add an appointment, it never synced to Google Calendar.

My wife ALMOST had me convinced to go back to the Franklin Planner, except I went to an appointment with her and she forgot her paper calendar, so she couldn't see which day was best for an appointment. I said "I'm just going to stick with something that works on my phone. I always have that with me."

Modern Website Templates Make Me Want To Bash My Head Against The Screen

OK, I get that outside of very niche specialized member sites, NOBODY is going to pay for access to a website. I also get that advertising and impressions and all that stuff are they only way they can stay in operation. But they're practically unusable.

I mostly get my content through RSS into Feedly, and when I do visit a site, it's usually a blog or alt-right site. But every now and again, I have a need to access a somewhat "mainstream" site. And it's usually a painful experience.

First, there are those stupid toolbars or whatever you call them. Some stay on the screen at all times, taking up screen space. Some will hide while you're scrolling down. But, have you ever scrolled and realized the last paragraph didn't register in your mind, so you have to scroll back up? Then the stupid toolbar comes back into play, blocking your view of the article. This is even worse on mobile. Breitbart not only has a top bar, but a bottom bar that pops up when you try to scroll back up a couple of lines. Then they have shit pop out of the left and right with "Here's some more shit you can read while you're here!"

Another annoyance is breaking an article up into multiple pages. You get five paragraphs per page, then you have to click a link to go to the next one. If it's even worth saving to something like Evernote, that's too much damn work. Forget it. I can scroll infinitely; why do you break a short article into 5 pages?

Now they're blocking you if you use an ad-blocker, the staple of the Internet user. Even if you disable the ad-blocker, you still can't access the site. I can't get to Forbes or Wired in Chrome, even though I shut off Ad-Block Plus for their sites. If I want to read one of their articles, I have to use another browser. I haven't reached the point where I HAVE to get to either site bad enough to troubleshoot any deeper.

Considering how prophetic South Park has been over its 19 years, I'm starting to wonder if their last season finale will come true in a few years. I'm glad I'm married. The last thing I would want to do is meet a girl, then realize I'm banging an ad.

That's why, for this blog, I've stuck to the same old template I've had since about 2007 or so. I've tried blogger's new templates, and they suck.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Michelle Fields Hoax Failed

Mike Cernovich reported on the outcome of the Corey Lewandowski case. He takes credit for his part in it.

Mike also comes to the same conclusion I have years ago:

There is simply no other alternative than to not believe the mainstream media. Assume everything you read from an “journalist” is an outright fabrication. 
Right now, as I type this, the media is spreading another hoax
Couldn't agree more. The media lies. All the time. Sure, some small percentage of their coverage is not a deliberate lie, but I look forward to the death of the "mainstream" media and the unemployment of its corrupt "journalists".

Monday, April 11, 2016

More Magazine Dishonesty

I wrote a couple weeks ago about how painful it is to do business with magazines, no matter how good and useful their content actually is. Their subscription models are dishonest.

To prove my point, in today's junk mail was a "bill" from Bloomberg. It's worded in a way to claim I owe them $30 for a subscription I do not have and never have had. But if you read it closely, it's worded in such a way to look like a super-special offer for a special guy like me. But in the upper left-hand corner, it still says I "owe" $30.

Not happening.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Michelle Fields Has Accused 3 Men of Assault, All Hoaxes

According to Mike Cernovich's original reporting, Michelle Fields has accused at least 3 men of assault. All of which are hoaxes.

The most recent was Corey Lewandowski, Donald Trump's campaign manager.

She also accused Mark Dice of assault, for little more than trying to ask her some questions.

According to Cernovich, she also accused Charles Johnson of hacking her computer.

Chances are, if you're important enough to have a press conference, your best bet is to block Michelle Fields from entering. The last thing you need is a false assault accusation. I shouldn't have to worry, because I get a whopping 25 views per blog post. 

Just When I Thought There Was No More Mileage Left In The Titanic Story

I've always been fascinated with the story of the Titanic. I practically grew up on it. When Dr. Bob Ballard discovered the wreck, I made my parents buy me a copy of his book as soon as it hit the shelves. I even watched and sort of liked James Cameron's movie, although for the historical perspective, not the fictional love story.

I recently came across a Titanic conspiracy video, and watched it. I wasn't sure what to expect. Even if there's nothing to it, I think it's fascinating. The ship that sank was Olympic, and the sinking was a deliberate act of insurance fraud by White Star Line:

This video can fit all of its claims into the official timeline.

I've known about Capt Smith being a horrible ship driver. He had three shipwrecks while in command of Olympic. The last one damaged the keel, and would have cost White Star Line more to fix than the ship was worth. And since the collision was with a Royal Navy ship, Smith was at fault no matter how you cut it, hence, no insurance payment. Smith was apparently a worse ship driver than the Captain of the Costa Concordia. That guy was showing off.

So the video proposes that:

  • Olympic and Titanic were virtually identical. All but their painted name and a bronze plate were the same. The two ships were switched.
  • During the middle of a coal strike, Californian set sail empty with full coal bunkers, and sat in the ice field. A Titanic survivor claimed an officer made a comment that Californian would rescue them.
  • When the iceberg was sighted, Titanic had the turn radius to avoid it. But by putting the engines into full astern, the ship's stern was swung around to starboard, which caused the collision.
  • The real Titanic, under the name Olympic, served for 25 years.
  • White Star upped the insurance premium on Titanic prior to the voyage. They were paid out more than the value of the ship.
It's an interesting analysis.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Tom Woods Snaps At Krugman

In Tom Woods' daily email, he snaps at Paul Krugman:

Including kindergarten, the government has children for 13 years. And at the end of 13 years they are completely unprepared to take care of themselves and integrate themselves into the market economy. THIRTEEN YEARS!
In fact, the very idea of choosing a niche and developing a product or service that can benefit people interested in that niche isn't even raised with students. Oh, sure, they know all the officially approved opinions about every subject under the sun, but supporting themselves and contributing to society? Not a clue.
Is it any wonder that we wind up with so many clueless (by design?) young kids cheering for Handout Bernie?
Think we might have more income mobility if students were taught about the market economy and their role in it? Maybe just a teensy-weensy bit more?
If the private sector were in charge of preparing kids for life and had a track record this pathetic, we would never hear the end of it. The government's schools do it, and...silence.

Tom Woods has a weekly podcast called "Contra Krugman", in which himself and Bob Murphy critique Krugman's weekly column. You can listen to the episode here.

According to Bill O'Reilly's research, Paul Krugman is funded by George Soros, that ultra-leftist billionaire who has WAY too much influence in American politics and media. John Kasich got $200,000 from him recently.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Doing Business With Magazines Is Painful

Ah, magazines. Can't live with them, can't live without them.

10 or more years ago, right around Christmas, I started getting notices from "American Handyman" demanding I pay for my subscription. Except I didn't have one. I offhandedly commented on that to my ex-inlaws (who weren't ex at the time). I found out my then mother-in-law got me a subscription to them for Christmas. But rather than sending me my issue from my paid up one-year subscription, they started sending me bills. Talk about confusing messages. I did not bother renewing after my gift subscription was up.

Last year, I started getting email from Forbes. I've always liked Forbes. My ex-inlaws had a subscription and let me read their magazines after they got done. So I figured, what the hell? I got a subscription of my own to Forbes. And while ordering online, I was offered another year for the same low, special price.

And of course, before I got my FIRST ISSUE, Forbes started sending me junk mail demanding I pay for my subscription. It was already paid up for two years. And of course, all along the way, I keep getting email and paper bills that my subscription is going to run out and I have to pay.

What the hell is going on with magazines? I am an expert in IT. I know how easy it is to keep a customer database to send timely reminders to subscribers AT THE APPROPRIATE TIME. I'm not falling for it.

Why are magazines such crappy businesses? I know a lot of them are dying. Maybe it should be that way.

When I was in the Navy back in the 90's, I came to appreciate Reader's Digest. I used to pick them up at the Navy Exchange or out in town. They were great. Then I got a subscription. And I will NEVER do business with them again.

First, I started getting sweepstakes notifications. Then they wanted to sell me on their condensed books. Then I started getting tons of junk calls from sweepstakes I apparently won, but had to release $400 on my credit card to receive.

Then, after paying my bills, I got past due notices. I finally cancelled, and like I said, I will NEVER do business with Reader's Digest again. I haven't bought a single issue since 1997, and have turned down free ones.

And don't get me started on Dr. Andrew Weil. At a point where I was researching alternative health stuff, I paid for a one-year subscription to his newsletter. Of course, I immediately started getting notices to pay. I got exactly two issues, then nothing. Go to hell, you dishonest "renegade Harvard-educated doctor". Never doing business with you again. You owe me 10 issues, nutjob.

Some magazines that come with memberships are OK. I get VFW magazine with no hassle. I get a few others from groups I belong to, again, with no hassle. But subscribing to an actual magazine? Way too much hassle.

Then there are digital magazines. They're all into that stupid flash based flip format, which totally sucks. Just give me a pdf that I can scroll. That's all I want. Productive Magazine is one example of this. I like their content, but I can't STAND their app. They used to provide a pdf, but now it's some flash based app that I don't like. When I try to scroll, I get to the bottom, and it suddenly flips the page. But I'm not done reading the last one. So I have to go back, but it takes me to the top, and I have to find where I was and try to avoid "flipping" to the next page. Too much trouble; not going to read anymore. Just give me a page at a time pdf and I'll come back.

The Note 5 Will Probably Be My Last Android Phone

At least until they fix their update distribution model.

The Android 6.0 "Marshmallow" update was out when I got my phone in September, and I still don't have it. They already have a 6.01 update out.

Android's update model is outdated and broken. With an iPhone or Windows Phone, I would get my OS updates directly from Apple or Microsoft. Yes, I know, a Nexus gets updates direct from Google, if there's a Nexus you want.

But Android goes through a VERY long process involving Google, the manufacturer, and the telco. It takes forever, and any link in that chain could decide not to support your phone.

Let's say a critical vulnerability is discovered on Android. It could take months for the update to trickle down to you, if your phone is even supported by either the manufacturer or the telco. That's a cybersecurity issue.

I normally criticize customer service, but tonight was good, so I should give credit where it's due. I called AT&T to ask when I would get the update. The call dropped. I tried to dial back, and the rep ACTUALLY called me back. Good work. So while she couldn't tell me what I wanted to hear, the service was OUTSTANDING.