The bell rarely tolls for anything I care about

From Lenore Skenazy’s excellent blog, Let Grow:

Are we really so fearful of people that we can NEVER open our front door? Even to a woman holding flowers a few days after your grandmother died?This is not the first time this has happened. It’s getting harder to make floral deliveries because people are suspicious of everything. We live in a nice part of town.

I can second the sentiment that it has nothing to do with fear, and more to do with the growing legion of clipboard-carrying, tract-dispensing, service-selling people who do nothing but waste my time and patience. My 13-year-old daughter is under strict orders to never answer the door when the bell rings whether or not I am at home. If my safeguards fail me, and I do answer to one of those people, I am perfectly capable of closing the door in mid-sentence, but I’d just rather not have to. I’m a nice person, and it does not make me happy to appear otherwise, no matter the justification.

Source: Has It Really Become TOO SCARY to Answer the Door? – Let Grow

This debate was settled 225 years ago. Enough already

Last year in Chicago over 700 people, mostly black, were murdered with guns, mostly illegal. The critical mind will appreciate the fact that the events in Vegas, no matter how horrific, are a statistical blip. Fifty-eight people died in one place because of one guy. How is that effectively different from 58 people murdered by 58 people? Dead is dead.

People freaked out about what happened in Sandy Hook. Again, an absolutely horrible thing, but the concern ignored the fact that 663 children died at the hands of their own parents in car trips in 2015. There is no more dangerous place to put your child than in your own car.

So, the argument then goes, “It’s them guns! We gotta get rid of the guns!!” Most of those making those demands are people who never handled one. Maybe never seen one outside of their local cop’s holster. You fear what you you don’t understand, correct?

I find it interesting that this lone-wolf, mass shooter thing is a fairly recent phenomenon. When we had almost no gun laws, this almost never happened. So, why is this happening? That’s what I want to know. I have my theories, and most of them have to do with the increasing pressures placed on (mostly) young males today to prove themselves and their masculinity. Given the loss of “real” jobs that pay real money, you have a lot of idle guys, increasingly frustrated with the world, more and more willing to do violent things to prove themselves. And people think a law is going to fix this?

One manifestation of this is tattoos and piercings — all of this pain inflicted on your own body for what? To impress people? That’s just ONE indication to me that we have some deep-seated sociological problems, many of which are imposed upon us by — that’s right — by bigger government and its control and laws that make men feel, rightly or wrongly, marginalized. The frustration level is off the charts out there. Most of the “progressives” just don’t get it. Just yesterday, I went to a flea market out in Trump country. The signs of it all were in full view, and there wasn’t a single Prius in the parking lot.

Finally, from a constitutional standpoint, we have a right to own guns. Period. You can blab on and on about “militia” and whatever that means, and where’s the missing comma, etc., etc. But the Constitution, as I now understand it, is a document that first tells government what it CAN do. Then the Bill of Rights tells government what it CAN’T do. It then says that it will not take away our guns. The fact that it even mentions guns in that part of the constitution as the SECOND amendment gives you a sense of their priorities, and it means without a doubt to me that the framers had no intention of ever depriving the population of their right to bear arms. Case closed.

In other words, there is no debate about guns. That was settled over 200 years ago, and living under the growing specter of a police state is probably the worst possible time to advocate for stricter gun control.

Overplaying the Left hand

Too many libertarians hate the left more than they love liberty. One response I’ve heard to my pushing back on their take on Trump is that “well Obama/Clinton was/would have been worse!” No, actually he wasn’t and I don’t think she would have been. Yes, they might have expanded the regulatory state, but there would be no revival of torture, no wall, no registry, no trade war, no attempt to muzzle the media, etc.. Trump is a tin-pot dictator wannabe (and startingtobe), without an ounce of knowledge or respect for constitutional limits on government, who threatens the foundational institutions of the liberal order. Obama was not. Clinton is not. I confess to some schadenfreude myself as the left squirms in the aftermath of a defeat they didn’t see coming. But every time Trump opens his mouth, the fundamental threat to liberty he and his supporters embody overwhelms that.

Plain and simple, the Left overplays its hand, which should surprise no one in this volatile political climate. Right or wrong, however, they will only make Littlefinger’s supporters dig in even deeper, with no net progress on any front. Displays of destruction, pussy hats, and Elizabeth Warren’s caterwauling play very badly to people who only want a decent job and a sense that their government listens to them.

Source: Liberalism in the Balance – Bleeding Heart Libertarians

Our nation out to pasture

So much for fun on Facebook. People are losing their minds over what is really the end result of decades of abuses of power combined with the dumbing down of the populace — yes, the entire populace. While we instinctively know there is something wrong, we have separated into our own tribes, falling victim to the echo chamber. These chambers of paranoia tell us that Washington is against you and for the other guy. In fact, Washington is for itself and against anyone who stands in its way.

This is the danger of centralized power, and I’m seeing it in a very micro sense right here in my little Borough. Self-serving, “well-meaning” citizens acting on behalf of the “community”, who have no issue whatsoever taking my money and spending on what they think works best, all without giving me the benefit of an actual voice.

Most of the rest of the sheep around here are more or less content, because they think that “well, this is how it has to work,” “or more stupidly, “this is the price of a civilized society”. Meanwhile, that price goes up and the civility goes down. These sheep in my town see themselves part of the same tribe — “progressive” liberal types who chose to live here because its filled with other “progressive” liberal types, run by “progressive” liberal types. No matter that these volunteers have no friggin’ idea about what they’re doing and who are happy to listen to Council President and have her lead them by the nose. It’s all just more happy horseshit. Sorry, I ain’t buyin’ it.

You will see something similar in Conservative communities, especially those dominated by their religious leaders. People who will not think for themselves and who will not leave others alone. No thank you.

What is happening here in Jenkintown is what has happened to the country — finally. The lessons of Watergate are long lost to time it seems, but the one thing that the Morally Correct (MC) remember is that Nixon was a REPUBLICAN! (Cue the scary music)! Never mind that Nixon founded the EPA and wrote the first draft for Obamacare and signed legislation that subsidized my mother’s mortgage (while balancing the budget, I might add).

Everyone’s circling the wagons to protect themselves against everyone else, while ignoring the real enemy, which is the power that eggs them on and keeps the country divided. Littlefinger and his operatives clearly understand this, and adhere religiously to chaos theory. It’s all about ratings!

This fast-and-furious succession of crazy announcements is keeping everyone running from barricade to barricade. Meanwhile, the real damage is spreading, coursing through our veins. There will be no healing in this country. If people don’t get their heads out of their asses and take a hard look at history, we’re going to see discord for decades to come, and the rest of the world is just going to pass us by.

Friends tell me to walk out of the room when my kid has a tantrum. The world is going to do that to us.

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

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

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 – Reason.com

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.

Indian police arrest 70 for targeting Americans in tax scam

According to police in Mumbai, the yearlong scam involved running fake call centers which sent voice mail messages telling U.S. nationals to call back because they owed back taxes.Those who called back and believed the threats would fork out thousands of dollars to “settle” their case, Mumbai police officer Parag Marere said Thursday.

We’ve received at least a couple of such calls over the past few months.

The IRS will only contact you by mail.

 

Source: Indian police arrest 70 for targeting Americans in tax scam – Western Mass News – WGGB/WSHM

There is no opting out

You might never join Facebook, but a zombie you — sewn together from scattered bits of your personal data — is still sitting there in sort-of-stasis on its servers waiting to be properly animated if you do sign up for the service. Or waiting to escape through the cracks of another security flaw in Facebook’s systems.

via Facebook’s Creepy Data-Grabbing Ways Make It The Borg Of The Digital World | TechCrunch.

In the past, I’ve not exactly forgiven Facebook for its methods per se, but I have tried to put them in perspective. For decades, American business has employed all kinds of tools to determine what you might want to buy. After all, consumer spending does drive the economy, and a better connection to your wallet does mean jobs and the creation of wealth. It also means that you spend less time and trouble finding that product that fulfills a need. We have come a long way from the days of spending a whole afternoon with a copy of the Yellow Pages and a telephone in search of a particular widget that would fix a problem.

On the other hand, those efforts that targeted me targeted me alone and left out the innocent bystanders. The insidious manner in which Facebook and its ilk delves into our personal lives to build up databases to sell to marketers seriously calls into question the value that it might provide us as users. Despite its methods, I am simply not seeing anything advertised in my timeline that relates at all to my life. In the time I’ve spent on Facebook, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve clicked a sponsored post and fewer where it lead to a sale.

I’ve considered myself something of an iconoclast and perhaps brazenly thought that marketers couldn’t pigeonhole me, but I’m certainly not averse to mainstream consumerism. However, other than a connection to people that I would have otherwise consigned to memory, the exchange of quips, jokes, and cat photos, and yet-another method of re-broadcasting RoadsideOnline posts, Facebook largely wastes my time. Deep down, I know that. I see myself laying on my deathbed regretting all the hours and hours I spent poring over my feed looking for something useful, funny, or insightful.

And now, I find I’m merely a conduit, unwillingly spying upon my actual friends who refuse to join the “fun.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Mark Zuckerberg is a lying punk. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw his collection of hoodies.

Three simple steps for 100% privacy protection

In the wake of all the NSA/Eric Snowden disclosures, everyone seems to be abuzz with the notion of protecting their personal privacy from the big internet companies, the government, and from other nefarious characters. As someone who has worked with computers for the past thirty years, and has some expertise setting up networks, installing software, etc., I believe that I have a nearly bulletproof solution to this whole issue.

I can guarantee that if you follow my three simple steps, no one will be able to track you online, read your emails, or hack into your credit card account.

  1. Locate your computer(s). Depending on the model, you will find a switch either on its front or its back that when you flip it, shuts it completely off. Shut it off. For additional protection, detach all cables running into it — including the power cord — and place the computer in your closet. Do whatever you want with all the other stuff that attaches to it. 
  2. If you have a cell phone, it also has a switch on it that will power it down. Power it down. For additional protection, return this phone to where you bought it and close the account associated with it. 
  3. If you have credit cards, remove them from your wallet or purse. Find a pair of scissors. Apply scissors to credit cards in a manner  that will render them into at least four smaller pieces per card. You may cut them into more pieces if  you like but fewer is not recommended. Next, call the company that sent you the card and say, “Thanks, but I’d rather not.” If they tell you that you owe them money, send them the money. 

This third step will also have the benefit of saving you all kinds of money on those services that will only take credit card for payment. I’m 100% certain that you probably don’t need those anyway, so you’ll now have plenty of cash left over to enjoy any activity that happily takes cash and do it in complete privacy.