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Obstructionist Husband

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Some thoughts on what the American political process has become [Oct. 16th, 2016|11:03 am]
Obstructionist Husband
Politics in this country has become a zero-sum game: it's not enough that I win, but you MUST lose, and big-time. We've developed scorched-earth standards for what should be reasoned discourse. It used to be that in a negotiation that both sides should NOT come away with everything that they wanted, that there had to be give and take. Neither party should be 100% satisfied, nor should either party be 100% dissatisfied. And this makes it nigh impossible for political parties to cooperate to get things done. They can only work their agenda, and if they have to work on the opposition's agenda, then they must slip as many of their little stuff in the bill as possible.

People now seem to be incapable of holding two conflicting thoughts in their head and acknowledging that the arguments of the other side may have merit.

I blame clowns like Trump, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the T.E.A. Party, the "Moral Majority" and all their evil spawn, etc. Basically the counter-factual people who were given far too much voice, and thus power, in the national media. Did you know that the Tea Party is an acronym? It stands for Taxed Enough Already. Do they acknowledge that other nations tax their people at higher rates? Of course not, it would be against their narrative. The difference is that in those countries the government actually provides good service to their people with that money and everyone lives a little better and easier and more peacefully.

A documentary film maker went to a Tea Party rally in New Jersey on the Shore just after that hurricane hit a few years ago. She asked them "What do you want?" Answer: "Smaller government! Lower taxes!" So should we cut back on Defense? NO! Cut back on Education? NO! Medicare and Social Security? NO! Foreign development? NO! Veteran's Benefits? NO! The truth is that we don't have absolute control over what the taxes that we pay are used for. If we did, I would dial down the amount of my money that goes to Defense by probably 90% and increase it by a similar amount to social and medical services. But we can't do that. We are a representative democratic republic: a nation of laws where everyone (except the disenfranchised, which is another story) gets a vote, and thus a say in how government money is spent. EVERYONE benefits from some government services, but not necessarily the same ones that you get or want. So you feel put out that they get some of your money that you don't get back. But at the same time, you probably get some services that they don't. For the first time in my 35+ year working career, I'm applying for unemployment benefits. And I hate doing it, but the extra money would be very useful. Me losing my job unexpectedly, plus an equally unexpected $4,000 tax bill earlier this year, made us a paycheck-to-paycheck family. And that sucks. And I've paid in to that fund for my entire work life, so now I'll get some benefit from that.

There is a famous New York politician, not Quomo, maybe Bloomberg, who famously said on television "When I was on unemployment benefits and food stamps, where was the government to help me?" And he said it with a straight face.

The RNC want a time machine that will take the country back to a mythical '50s era, and that isn't going to happen. We move forward in time at a rate of one second per second. That era doesn't exist and never truly did. There were gay people in the '50s, there were drug users and abusers, there were people having extra-marital affairs, there was child and parent abuse, there were any number of things that some people would like to just not think about and stick their fingers in their ears and go LA-LA-LA-LA-LA.

Trump wants to Make America Great Again, a campaign slogan that he lifted from Reagan/Bush, in an announcement where he paid actors to make up a cheering crowd. America is a great country. Period. We're not #1 in anything except military strength, which is not what I'd like to see. He wants manufacturing jobs to come back. The problem is that those jobs started leaving 30 years ago during Saint Reagan's rule. And while many manufacturing jobs have come back to this country, with increases in automation they will never employ as many people in a steel mill or automobile plant as were needed 30 years ago. Those jobs are gone FOREVER, unless you want a Luddite Sabotage revolution destroying computers everywhere. That would work well.

Speaking of the military, obviously the military makes a lot of stupid budget requests for systems that they may or may not need. We all work from imperfect information, so we don't know the full details, we have to accept the information fed to us and research it further if we want more details. But sometimes Congress is the culprit. For example, the Army keeps getting M-1 Abrams battle tanks. And as the new tanks arrive, they are shipped off to a bone yard in the California desert. They have more than they need, including spare parts, but Congress keeps building them because the factories are in someone's district and their lobbyists are very good. The F-35 debacle of an airplane was very cleverly done: the prime contractor put plants in every major Congressional district, so that terminating the plane would directly hit jobs in a number of different districts. Good way to keep a contract alive!

We, as a nation, are screwed. If somehow Trump wins, we'll have four years of a capricious, reality-denying, megalomaniac (possibly sociopath). We can hope that Congress could put the brakes on any legislative agenda that he might hatch, but who knows what Congress will do. The President can do a lot by fiat and can easily destroy relationships with other countries. He may or may not be able to declare war: technically the Constitution (a useful document, much ignored by the Republican candidate) requires the consent of Congress to declare war, but the way Congress granted carte blanche to Bush 2, there's no telling what kind of a mess Trump could get us in. If Hillary gets elected, we'll have the Trump supporters screaming and parroting the Trump line that the election was rigged. A survey of Trump supporters a month or so ago showed that only 12% believed that if Hillary is elected that it would be a fair election. And Trump has further egged them on with lines like "You Second Amendment people have ways of dealing with that", which is a flat-out call for armed insurrection.

We are screwed.

We are just over three weeks from the election, and while there's no doubt that Hillary is ascending, there is still a non-zero chance that Trump could win. The Republicans pulled off something in the 2008/2010 elections called Operation Redmap. In doing so, in addition to taking control of many state legislative houses, they gerrymandered voting districts in to such convoluted geometric shapes as to all but guarantee control of the United States House of Representatives for the next decade. And the Democratic party has shown little effort in trying to put a similar strategy in to play to try to kick out the Republicans and try to bring some sanity back in to district boundaries. So we may be screwed for another decade. The reason why 2010 and 2020 are so important is because that is when the national census takes place and districts are redrawn to account for population changes. The districts are so skewed that there were states that voted 3 to 1 for Obama in the popular vote yet the state went to Romney. It's a true perversion of American politics, and the Republicans are proud that they get to cram their ideology down everyone's throats. Yes, the Democratic party has done similar things in the past, but never to this scale. Meanwhile, a conservative congress has cut the funding to election commissions and the Supreme Court has unlocked unfathomable money to flow in to election funding.

We are so screwed.

So there, in my ever so humble opinion, you have it. I needed to vent, long-form. A friend of mine wrote this morning that she is afraid that everything she writes in email (she has no other social media presence) will be used against her if Trump gets elected. I just hope that doesn't happen. And I apologise in advance for the lack of a cut to hide some of this, I don't remember the code off-hand.
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Getting up yeserday was interesting [Sep. 29th, 2016|02:05 pm]
Obstructionist Husband
I have a history of sleepwalking. No big deal, it happened a fair amount as a kid and not much as an adult. Nowadays I may wake up wearing/not wearing a t-shirt that I wasn't/was wearing when I went to bed. No big deal.

Yesterday was interesting. I woke up wearing my watch. On my left wrist. Right off the bat this was weird because I always take my watch off when I go to bed. On top of that, most people who wear a watch wear it on their opposite hand, and I always wear mine on my right wrist. And my watch currently has a metal band and my left hand is larger than my right, so I had to wriggle it on and secure the clasp, while remaining deep asleep.

Weird. I blame it on Trump. At first I suspected the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but they lack motive.

(name the movie the previous sentence came from for bonus points)
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"The Google just came out"??! [Sep. 29th, 2016|10:54 am]
Obstructionist Husband

"The Google just came out, and it was the first big post-debate poll, and we're doing very well."
—Donald Trump

I've never understood Trump's linguistic ability. I've heard analysts say that he speaks at a 5th or 6th grade level, that seems optimistic to me.

But what do I know.

I've also heard that people who really know him but aren't employed by him say that there are two Donald Trumps, and the one that we see running for President is not the real Trump. I'm not sure what to think about that one.

My wife and I watched the debate Monday night, it was rather strange. I would say that Hillary smiled too much, but I don't consider that a problem. Trump did not look well, and his constant snorting and occasional coughs made me wonder if he was (A) sick or (B) a cocaine user. Considering he claims that he gets by on three hours of sleep a night, maybe B?

Online polls, which have no statistical rigor applied and are easily manipulated by bots, show Trump winning the debate. The polls conducted by professional polling companies show Clinton winning the debate, usually by 10-30%. So whatever. But what I did find amusing was The Donald calling in to a Fox show saying 'Even the CBS poll had me winning!' Which is quite amusing considering that CBS did not conduct a poll.

Personally I think we're screwed regardless of which candidate wins. If Trump wins, I think we'll see cronyism like never before and the USA will sink like a stone in terms of the respect of the rest of the world. If Clinton wins, upwards of 90% of Trump supporters believe that the election will be rigged, which will make for a large number of very angry people. So we're screwed either way.
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Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk -- This Saturday, October 1! [Sep. 28th, 2016|01:13 pm]
Obstructionist Husband

This is a really cool event for anyone interested in photography. It doesn't matter how good your equipment is, I've seen lots of people with cell phone cameras and point and shoots, in addition to $3,000 Nikons and Canons. It's an opportunity to walk around an area that you may not have been to before with people also interested in photography, it gives you an opportunity to expand how you view the world.

It is truly world-wide. Enter your city name, or where you want to go, and everything is pinned via Google Maps. And it's free, though donations are appreciated and t-shirts are available that support the charity of the year.

This will be my third year doing it, and this year I'm going to Las Cruces instead of El Paso. I'm looking forward to it.

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I got to see Blazing Saddles in a movie theater tonight! [Sep. 10th, 2016|01:27 am]
Obstructionist Husband

I didn't see it during its original run in 1974 as I was all of 12 years old or so, and my parents weren't huge movie goers, but I have managed to see it on big screens on a couple of occasions. And tonight was great. They were showing a double-feature of BS and Willy Wonka, so clearly some sort of Gene Wilder tribute. This particular theater chain, Harkins, is a reliable source of foreign and art house films. I remember seeing Akira Kurosawa's Dreams at it when it was first released. I also got to see The Big Lebowski a few years ago at one of their theaters, that was quite a treat.

Blazing Saddles is such an amazing movie with so many wonderful stories behind it, it was a genuine treat to see it again on a big screen. It was sad that the house wasn't packed, but I guess that's to be expected for a 40 year old movie that isn't something like Casablanca. It did an amazing job of ridiculing many forms of racism, and there is no way a film like this could ever be made today.

But we don't need a film like this to be made today: we have Blazing Saddles, and its message is perfectly clear.
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Luke, the Son of Annakin [Sep. 4th, 2016|10:24 am]
Obstructionist Husband
From edschweppe's blog:

I'm a huge fan of the play Hamilton. Definitely worthy of the awards it has won.
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Alyson Hannigan [Aug. 31st, 2016|09:26 pm]
Obstructionist Husband
I always loved her on Buffy the Vampire Slayer as Willow, I can't say that I've seen her on anything else since then. She's hosting the current season of Penn & Teller Fool Us on the CW and being quite entertaining at it.
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One of more core problems about Trump [Aug. 30th, 2016|10:25 am]
Obstructionist Husband

"He hasn't changed his immigration position. He has changed the words he is saying."
—Trump spokesperson Katrina Pierson

What the President of the United States says is very important, if not critical. It is very dangerous for the President to spout nonsense. Look at the kerfuffle when Ronald Reagan said, in to what he thought was not a live microphone, "We have outlawed the Soviet Union, the bombing begins in five minutes." Cute, but not something a President should say.

And yes, Hillary has also made some pretty bad gaffs.

But Trump? Saying things like "You Second Amendment people have a way of taking care of things" is so beyond irresponsible that it's not funny.

The President cannot write-off a verbal faux pas by saying "I was being sarcastic. Sort of."
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Yet another way to compromise computer information: sniff the WiFi connection for keyboard signals! [Aug. 30th, 2016|10:09 am]
Obstructionist Husband
[Tags|, ]

This is interesting, and I hadn't considered it. I would have thought that, while I am typing this email, that nothing gets sent across my WiFi connection until I hit Send. But obviously email programs, if they're web-based, save draft copies. In the case of email, I think it would be negated by using a PC-based email client, but I'm not certain about that as email server internals are terra incognita for me.

Obviously a Cat 5 cable from your computer to your internet router should defeat this, but how many people do that on a regular basis. We use laptops because of their convenience, my laptop isn't wired because the router is in the living room and my desktop is in the far corner of the kitchen. I could get a router to allow me to hard-cable, then a second router to connect to my main router, and set up a wireless bridge between them, but that seems like a lot of work (and expensive) to try to thwart an attack that is unlikely to be used against me.

There has been tech to sniff the signal from wireless keyboard and mice forever, very few such devices encrypt the signal. I've heard Apple does, but I haven't seen independent information on that. And there's tech to allow sniffing your screen display, though it has limited range. Add them all together and you can get a heck of a read as to what some people do online.

From Bruce Schneier's blog:
Keystroke Recognition from Wi-Fi Distortion

This is interesting research: "Keystroke Recognition Using WiFi Signals." Basically, the user's hand positions as they type distorts the Wi-Fi signal in predictable ways.

Abstract: Keystroke privacy is critical for ensuring the security of computer systems and the privacy of human users as what being typed could be passwords or privacy sensitive information. In this paper, we show for the first time that WiFi signals can also be exploited to recognize keystrokes. The intuition is that while typing a certain key, the hands and fingers of a user move in a unique formation and direction and thus generate a unique pattern in the time-series of Channel State Information (CSI) values, which we call CSI-waveform for that key. In this paper, we propose a WiFi signal based keystroke recognition system called WiKey. WiKey consists of two Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) WiFi devices, a sender (such as a router) and a receiver (such as a laptop). The sender continuously emits signals and the receiver continuously receives signals. When a human subject types on a keyboard, WiKey recognizes the typed keys based on how the CSI values at the WiFi signal receiver end. We implemented the WiKey system using a TP-Link TL-WR1043ND WiFi router and a Lenovo X200 laptop. WiKey achieves more than 97.5% detection rate for detecting the keystroke and 96.4% recognition accuracy for classifying single keys. In real-world experiments, WiKey can recognize keystrokes in a continuously typed sentence with an accuracy of 93.5%.

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Rasputin ruins movies for all time! [Aug. 29th, 2016|01:17 am]
Obstructionist Husband

This is really crazy. You notice how even biographical movies about real people always include a disclaimer like "This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental". Well, it's because of the man who murdered Rasputin.

MGM made a movie about said murder about Rasputin starring the three Barrymores, two brothers and a sister, in the lead roles of Rasputin, his killer, and the killer's wife. They changed the name of the killer. But then MGM screwed up, got sued by the killer's wife, and lost the case.

It's an interesting read, and not very long.

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