Chelsea Manning

Manning is a hero(ine)

I know some of my friends who are military and ex-military who are apoplectic about this, but as an individual who never trusts power of the state, I applaud this commutation.

Manning revealed “secrets” that exposed unlawful conduct of the United States government, carried out during a time the country was engaged in an illegal war perpetrated by men who, if coming from a smaller country, would have been prosecuted for war crimes. It revealed that our government was harming its own citizens and those of innocents abroad.

Maybe he did violate his oath, and maybe it did lead to the deaths of some of our own allies and agents on the ground, but the founding fathers violated their allegiance to the Crown for similar reasons, and for that they would have been hung, or worse. Keeping an oath to protect a government that has disregarded the principles outlined in our own Constitution, or to carry out atrocities in the name of that government is a much greater cowardice than exposing them. Manning revealed to the American public information it needed to know and that it was entitled to know.

Manning exposing these “secrets” also serves as a great benefit to anyone who considers volunteering for the military. Now that they will know their government does not always represent our best interests, they may rightfully reconsider their decision to die for it. As my daughter rapidly approaches that age of decision, I see this as an opportunity to make it with all information necessary.

I do not condone Manning’s decision to funnel this information through Assange, as I don’t believe Assange cares much about the United States or its interests. However, I do think that Manning’s intentions were consistent with American democratic values. In my mind, he was defending the Constitution, which incidentally is exactly what he had sworn to do.

And as far as going through channels and reporting what he saw to his superiors, it’s already pretty well documented how useless our whistleblower laws are. The stories of these brave inidividuals being fired, demoted, blackballed, or worse, despite this law are all-too-common.

Manning served seven years, but was sentenced to a term of far longer than was considered normal for that crime. Obama, for once, did the right thing.

Exercise bikes for toddlers are a terrible idea

I’d like to find everyone in that meeting that approved this “toy”, fire them with great humiliation, and make it so they never work in this business again.

First, the idea that a kid is going to stay in one place and exercise while watching a screen is ludicrous at the outset, but to even suggest that this presents an alternative to actual, out-in-the-world activity bespeaks of tragic intellectual diminishment.

Adults these days use these things because they no longer lead active lifestyles by default. They drive everywhere, sit at desks all day, and then subject themselves to these torture devices to compensate. This toy is a further sign that we’ve kind of given up — in more ways than one. Wall-E, here we come.

Now our 4-year-olds can look just like mommy on her elliptical machine at the gym, trying to distract herself with CNN while she sweats out another five minutes of interval training. What could be wrong with that?Everything.

Source: Exercise bikes for toddlers are a terrible idea | New York Post

Government science lays another egg. Cholesterol now OK.

Studies are now showing that government studies are bad for your health, your job, and the economy as a whole.

Cholesterol has been a fixture in dietary warnings in the United States at least since 1961, when it appeared in guidelines developed by the American Heart Association. Later adopted by the federal government, such warnings helped shift eating habits — per capita egg consumption dropped about 30 percent — and harmed egg farmers.

Source: The U.S. government is poised to withdraw longstanding warnings about cholesterol – The Washington Post

Anthony Bourdain on the Great Comeuppance

Like Mr. Bourdain, I too have spent quite a lot of time in “God’s Country,” and I too found a lot of good people struggling to get by, and who have had enough of their values and opinions (right or wrong) shat upon. This is what happens when you stop listening.

I’ve spent a lot of time in gun-country, God-fearing America. There are a hell of a lot of nice people out there, who are doing what everyone else in this world is trying to do: the best they can to get by, and take care of themselves and the people they love. When we deny them their basic humanity and legitimacy of their views, however different they may be than ours, when we mock them at every turn, and treat them with contempt, we do no one any good. Nothing nauseates me more than preaching to the converted. The self-congratulatory tone of the privileged left—just repeating and repeating and repeating the outrages of the opposition—this does not win hearts and minds. It doesn’t change anyone’s opinions. It only solidifies them, and makes things worse for all of us. We should be breaking bread with each other, and finding common ground whenever possible. I fear that is not at all what we’ve done.

Source: Anthony Bourdain on Sichuan Peppers, Sex, Eating Dogs, and Political Correctness –

Elizabeth Warren, nanny-stater, bites hand that feeds

This woman is a repugnant hypocrite.

There’s one rather glaring problem with Ms. Warren’s attack: Mr. Tilson happens to be one of the few financial executives who publicly fought Mr. Trump’s election and supported Hillary Clinton. A lifelong Democrat who was involved in helping to start Teach for America, Mr. Tilson also happened to be one of the rare Wall Street executives who had donated to Ms. Warren and actively sought new regulations for the industry. Recently, he gave Mrs. Clinton $1,000 so he could see Ms. Warren speak at a campaign fund-raiser. (He’s also far, far from a billionaire.)

Source: Elizabeth Warren Condemns the Wrong Man – The New York Times

Get off the barricades and get a grip on yourself

The predictable reaction on the Left to Littlefinger’s election has exploded on my Facebook feed as it has across the country. This sparks a peculiar aspect of my character where I calm down when all around me panics. So despite my complete disgust with the results, I can’t help but eye-roll at the hand-wringing. People seem all-too-ready to build and man the barricades. I resist these visceral reactions, as history is littered with bloody incidents caused by people losing their grip on their critical faculties. Let’s not do that, okay? Let’s keep some things in mind:

One: We live in a constitutional democracy. We have a history of some pretty nasty campaigns going all the way back to Jefferson, and once the dust settles, people tend to get to work. You may not agree with the policy, but it has to be cleared with Congress first whose members will seek reelection in two years.

Two: Federalism is your friend. If you live in a blue state, just that alone will protect you from any perceived threats to your lifestyle. Fret if you want about about your kindred spirits elsewhere, but you and your daughters will not be deprived of an education or reproductive rights. I can’t say the same for those in the red states, but despite what you might read on your alarmist progressive blogs, people in those states mostly don’t care who you share your bed with as long as you keep it to yourself.

Three: The chickens are now roosting quite comfortably. Thanks to the drumbeat of derision expressed by the coastal media, your friendly neighborhood deplorable has finally given the Left its comeuppance. The picture that I see painted by so-called “progressive” media outlets of the Tea-Party-turned-Trump-supporters simply does not fit reality. The media pointed their cameras and microphones at the more outrageous of the bunch because it simply plays better and gets more clicks. The bulk of those who voted for Trump are simply hard-working people in search of some answer that Washington has failed to provide through 16 years of Republican and Democratic promises. Maybe they backed the wrong horse this time around, but to shrug off this election as a mere triumph of the idiocracy speaks partly to your own lack of empathy for their concerns. They may be wrong about a lot, but they don’t deserve disrespect.

Four: Hillary ran a terrible campaign. She was probably the worst possible candidate the Democrats could have picked. Corrupted, unprincipled, and completely unable to articulate a vision for what she wanted to do, she had no business running. She couldn’t win against someone that two-thirds of the county mistrusted. If the left should be pissed at anyone, they should direct their ire at the DNC for attempting to coronate her, save for Bernie crashing the party. He had even less of a chance, so you’d think that among their ranks, the DNC could have enlisted challengers that had a clear message to convey. Instead, the vacuum got filled by a well-meaning and lovable, but ineffectual septuagenarian who like Santa Claus promised all kinds of free goodies to get the kiddies all excited.

Five: I’m afraid too. And disgusted — but not at the people who voted for Trump. I direct my disgust at the process that allowed his ascension. We have an electoral system that all-but-guarantees to exclude anyone with real abilities. This leaves us with candidates who play well in our hyperbolic media environment, and to no surprise, we just picked a product of that environment.

I despise Trump. He turns my stomach. I’ve felt that way about him since his Atlantic City casinos crashed and burned. I think that Obama deserves credit for repairing our standing in the world damaged by his predecessor, but I expect to see Trump undo all that. Having just read Trump’s plan for the first 100 days, I actually see much I like, but I don’t see anything to address the massive debt his proposals could generate.

Let me offer a ray of hope for the Left. Trump wants to spend money on cities, and typically, the Left likes cities. Trump lives in a city, and presumably, he values the urban environment more than the suburban cul-de-sac. Well, it’s something, right?

Here’s my point: No president makes everyone happy. Obama ran on a liberal platform and all-but-promised a new Great Society. How did that work out? If I were a liberal, I’d be pretty disgusted with the last eight years. Seven countries bombed, 300 civilians (at least) killed by drone strikes, expansion of the Patriot Act, more government snooping, anemic economic recovery, and not one Wall Street executive indicted for their role in the housing crisis.

Be vigilant, get involved, stay engaged, but please, calm down and do not unloose yourself from the facts. Maybe go out and find a Trump supporter and buy them a coffee or a beer. Have a chat. Walk in their shoes a bit, people, because we’re going nowhere if we don’t start listening to each other.

Whose votes were wasted?

If all those voters hadn’t wasted their votes on Hillary and instead voted for Johnson, we wouldn’t be in this mess right now.

Five million less people voted this year compared to 2012. Obama also happened to win by about five million votes. Hillary Clinton took that Obama coalition for granted. She wrongly assumed she would inherit it just by winning the nomination. The Clinton campaign also took multiple states as givens. There wasn’t a day that went by where the media wasn’t talking about the “blue firewall” of rust belt states. The Democrats assumed far too much, and made true asses out of themselves.

Source: Don’t Blame Gary Johnson For President Drumpf, Blame These Three Things

The fall of Rome

Trump and the trifecta of decline

We have become a nation almost completely unmoored from its founding principles. We have become a people that has for too long sought solutions for our problems in the pockets of others. We fear the power of the one solution that once made and may again make us exceptional — our own selves left alone to pursue our happiness. Where once we embraced the concept that we rise or fall on our own merits, we instead brandish a self-serving license to blame others.

We have become a nation that operates under one tragic contradiction: We simultaneously fear and rely upon the one institution that has the sanctioned ability to take away everything from us — our livelihoods, our property, our very lives — and yet we gave it that sanction.

As a result, we have allowed our democracy become so corrupted by these powers, that we have turned to authoritarian ideas as a solution, thinking that this will only affect “them”, not us. Our contradictions and hypocrisies have made us easy prey to those who work in collusion with our rulers to keep us confused and angry. We play right into their hands.

I suppose it has become cliché to peg our country’s decline on this or that, but we have just elected a president that two-thirds of the country does not trust. How does that happen? How does it happen that we look for leaders among our lowest common denominators rather than our best and brightest? We have just elected a man that represents everything I fear: Power, privilege, and ignorance. The trifecta of decline.

It happens because we forget, and because we seek the easy solution that starts with abandoning our own responsibilities. We don’t believe that we rise and fall on our own merits, and the resulting discourse has become a cacophony of finger-pointing. How, we ask ourselves, can we make our government force the other guy do the right thing?

Until we wake up, open our eyes, and see the real reasons for our failures, it will get worse. We can bitch and moan all we want about corporations, rich people, Mexicans, and whatever, but at the end of the day, it’s just us in that voting booth. We should use that vote as an affirmation of our principles rather than a weapon against someone else’s.

Every time I think this country has turned a corner and corrected itself, I find myself profoundly disappointed. I have considered myself an informed and principled citizen for my entire life. I resisted becoming saddled with pessimism, but I know as a student of history, when your society begins to reject reason and intellect, only tragic outcomes result.

The best years of my life lay behind me, so I look at my daughter, and all I can do when she asks “why” is shrug my shoulders. “Sorry, kid. I tried.”

Every Mac I ever owned.

Apple: Forsaking the pros in Pro

Apple recently announced their new MacBook Pro models — a long-awaited update to any of their Macintosh portable lineup. Since that announcement, I’ve found myself redoubling my efforts to find a laptop that fits my needs for the next four to six years, and I’m not spending them looking at the MacBook Pro. I’m probably going to need a new laptop soon, and what I need and what Apple thinks I need may have irrevocably diverged.

Admittedly, I base my assessment mostly on ignorance. I haven’t tested a MacBook Pro much less laid eyes on one, but rather than faithfully cast my lot with Apple’s offerings, I feel I have little choice but to finally consider alternatives.

As a faithful Mac user since 1988, this development comes with a number of emotional pitfalls for me. I have used Windows machines, and they’ve only reaffirmed my enthusiasm for the Mac platform. I still prefer the Mac OS, but the hardware leaves me cold. As a designer myself, even I have begun to think you’re taking this fetish for minimalism too far.

Apple, I know you don’t care, but I don’t want thinner and lighter and more and more streamlined, not if it sacrifices capability, and not for devices that I use for work. I don’t want an array of dongles, and the need to buy still more different types of cables. If the market and I decided that USB-C is the way to go, then I’ll go out and buy USB-C devices when my older devices outlive their usefulness. I have heavily invested in USB-2 and 3 devices, and I’d prefer not to make them immediately obsolete the moment I un-box my MacBook Pro.

Apple, I’ve gone along with with all of your adoption of future-looking technology. I shrugged when you dropped the floppy drive. I embraced the demise of SCSI because I saw FireWire as a huge advancement. I celebrated the jump from OS9 to the UNIX-based OS10. And I stuck with you through three processor transitions, and I’m girding myself for your jump to ARM.

Apple, I want to see a true “pro” computer. I want a machine that makes me feel confident about its current technology, but its future value to me as well. Sorry, but even if I don’t ever upgrade the drive, or memory, or processor, I want to know that I can. Much like someone who buys a four-wheel-drive SUV and who will never let those tires touch anything but smooth asphalt, I want the confidence that comes with knowing I have that option. I consider this a form of insurance.

Locking down my device makes me uneasy, especially as a professional user. If you want to market simple computing appliances to everyday consumers, I applaud that. I know plenty of people who don’t care about upgrades.

But professional users want ports. We want cases that open. And we want power. We don’t want to be stuck somewhere realizing that we forgot to pack that $40 dongle you required us to buy to make our projector work.

Me, personally, I want a Mac Mini with the power of a 5K iMac or more, but I want the ability to configure it to my needs today and again three years from now. I want a laptop that has ports for all the devices I’m currently using until you show me that the newer devices will prove their worth.

Unfortunately, I know that you won’t build that machine, so I’m looking around. I’m considering Linux, and dare I say it, Windows as well. The laptop I think I need does not require me to load heavy-duty applications on it. I want it mainly to write and to edit text in the websites I build, and for that, I don’t need thinner, lighter, and more beautiful, but I do need it to work with the array of peripherals I’ve already invested in.

And one more thing. I bought the iPhone 7, and when asked my opinion, I say the same thing to everyone: I love everything about it except the lack of a headphone jack. While I see the advantages of wireless headphones, I frankly do not want yet another device I have to plug in and charge in order for it to work.

The lack of the headphone jack has presented me with a nagging inconvenience. I sit at my desk over the course of the day, and I prefer to keep the phone plugged in to keep it charged. This means that I cannot listen to music or make phone calls using my earbuds — at least not until I spend another $20 to $140 for Bluetooth earbuds. Sorry, Apple, but if you needed courage to piss off your long-time customers, you have some serious blind spots in your marketing.

I had long-ago given up second-guessing you, Apple. After I predicted that the iPod would flop, I stopped making predictions. I do predict that you’ll continue to make boatloads of money for whatever you sell, but I do believe it’s a mistake to call these new machines “Pro” and leave so little in them for pros to want. Many of us, even me, will probably just go along yet again, but I do see a gaping maw of an opportunity for someone else to take my money.

It’s been a beautiful relationship, Apple, but you’re finally starting to get on my nerves.

Excellent summary on the decline of newspapers

I saw the end coming the day I read the Boston Globe on my laptop while the printed copy lay on my doorstep. That was in 2000.

Stop just blaming the Internet for killing newspapers. Start blaming editors. – Reassociated Press