Jun 16

A Farewell to Zings

Doctor Charles Krauthammer, a paralyzed psychiatrist and irascibly syndicated columnist, writes that he has only weeks to live.  The letter is matter-of-fact, and the fact is that it’s over.

This unwelcome sentence is occasioned by a fast-moving cancer which had looked to be beaten, but which gained the upper hand.  A rapidly invasive, mid-abdominal cancer “everywhere” sounds perhaps like the miserable interconnected pancreas/gall bladder.  I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer about a year ago, and if you know how to do the “pancreas salute”, then you know that this one is meaner than many.

Krauthammer has been a fixture on the TV screens of reasonable and unreasonable people alike, depending upon whether or not you agree with me about politics.  I parted with him in many of his views.  he (if I recall correctly) was never more than lukewarm about Trump, and was famously not going to drink the Kool-Aid that me and the boys been brewing in the fever swamp.  Doc Chuck (to those who pretend to know him) was over there on the far bank of the river, swollen by a raging flood and newly dividing the conservative crowd.  Reasonable and frustrated people on my side, and the squinting likes of Bill Kristol o’er dere.  George Will.  I rest my case.

Except that they got Krauthammer on that bank, and I always made a welcoming exception for him.  Some of it was an awe-filled respect for the demonstrated mental abilities of the man.  Some of it was no doubt a forbearance granted to a man with a physical struggle on top of the struggle that is life itself.  cf. Dean “Chowdah!” Barnett, whose death while I was in Afghanistan rattled me deeply.   Some of it may or may not have been a dopey smile and the way he clearly enjoyed himself in the back and forth with cohort and commies alike.

I can’t recall any specifics, and I haven’t looked anything up.  You can listen to an airhead sibilate her fricative way through his letter on the post that Pencilvania put up.  For some reason, I want to write this based just on my memory to date.  Memory is important to me now, as I grow older, as the new patriarch-at-a-distance of my wing of the family.  What will they say of me?  Who will look me up to see what I thought?

No, no need to look it up with CK.  I recall a general sense, a clutch of favorite moments now abstracted into my sense of the notorious Chuck K-Hammer.  He engaged in a respectful banter with his opponents.  Krauthammer, the wrecked man who towered over the bad guys even while sitting, propped up in his wheel chair, would let his interlocutor get what he had to say off of his chest.  And when the guest got stupid, he bade us all witness the power of this fully operational battle station.  Sometimes cross, sometimes gasping for breath more than usual, always effective, he would scorch his trespasser with a withering professional fire.

I said good bye to a good number of Never-Trump people based on their nastiness, or their fickleness, or their just plain wrong-headedness.  But for some, whose wrongness was leavened by a history of personal respect and epistemological gratitude, I held no grudge.  Thomas Sowell comes to mind in a way that, oh say, Rich Lowry does not. And I have written about Bill Kristol and Jennifer Rubin and John Podhoretz in a way that, oh, say, Charles Krauthammer would not.  Not just because he may agree with those sorts more frequently than I, but because he is a fine and upstanding gentleman, whereas I am a jerk.

Perhaps it is a failing on my part to carry water for some folks on the opposite bank, but I confess my sins and keep right on doing it.  Charles is a better man that I am, even when he is wrong, and it costs me nothing to admit it.  His fight has been fiercer, and his victories more sweet.  Oh, and he has victories.  I do not know if we shall ever again hear him parry and thrust while chronically short of breath, breathing itself looking to be an exhausting task for him.

He has written a sawed-off little good-bye letter, which is more eloquent in its brevity, and tender in its bluntness than any rambling eulogial blog post could be.  I haven’t the words to get this right, and I haven’t the skill anyway.  Let’s not blame the words, then, as they served Krauthammer just fine.

Soon, he will know how it feels to be on his own, finishing the journey that we each must make, and which we each must make alone.  He will walk where he once had sat, a relax where he had always fought.  There will be a moment where a phrase popular on the right, the empty chair, will take on a special meaning in honor of the memory of Doctor Krauthammer.  Fox News will have the privilege of saving him a spot for an episode or two.

Like a rolling throne.


Originally published at Ratburger.org by yours truly.

https://www.ratburger.org/index.php/2018/06/08/a-farewell-to-zings/#comment-13179

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Jun 10

Recommended Music

An amazing remix of a song I already like very much. Very subdued, a very pleasant but relentless tension. Pen Perry (whomever that is) has found a way to rely on the crashing energy of the original and include yet omit it at the same time. Waiting for the blast that never comes — feeling it nonetheless. There is a presence, like something large and invisible standing just behind you. Off to one side. It’s probably friendly. Probably.

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Jun 03

What is this nonsense? OpenH264.org Download

Had a brush with some badness named “openh264.org”.

I am sitting in a Starbucks with its own internet access, my very own local shady access point.  When I connect to the access point, there is a popup which requires me to click I ACCEPT THE TERMS etc, and then hit the CONNECT button. This usually goes smoothly, as I have the password stored, and that’s all I have to do. But today I got hit with a pop-up that said such-and-such a site is trying to download(?) a file.  The file was named something like this:

http(s?)://ciscobinary.openh264.org/{LONG-ugly-UID-here}.zip

What do you want to do with this file, open with IE, do something else, [ ] remember this choice, OK/CANCEL.

This popul was the obscured by another that said something like, The following file could not be found:

C:\{long user path}\ciscobinary.openh264.org/{LONG-ugly-UID-here}.zip.part

Clicking OK closed both popups.

I looked around for the openh264 and Cisco wisdom (using my cellphone browser over the TELCO signal), and was not satisfied that this particular download attempt was legit. After all, I am at a public access point.

So I whacked the URL provided by the shady access point from this:

http://local.shady.accespoint?lotasparameters&something=https://msftconnecttest.com%2fredirect%2fmsn.something.something...

which always redirects me to MSN which i despise anway…  to this:

http://local.shady.accespoint?lotasparameters&something=https://drudgereport.com

Why did I do this? Because drudgereport always flushes cache. That site updates every minute or so, and does not want anybody stuck on yesterday’s content. Every access to DR is like the first of the day.  And because I would rather claw my own eyes out than look at MSN.

Well, it worked perfectly. Now I cannot replicate the condition, hence some of the uncertain language here. I could probably let my session time-out on the local shady access point and try again.

But why is this file being pushed to me — by Microsoft? The way I assess the failure is this: MS wanted me to accept that file without even asking, but I have my shields up, so the browser stopped the download and asked me whether to accept the file (thank you, Firefox).  I think that this caused the file-not-found-ness, and that failure caused my validation by “msftconnecttest.com” to bottom out. And that is why I could not connect.

Interestingly, it seems the local shady access point asks for but DOES NOT REQUIRE validation from the Microsoft connection test. This is probably the site which returns the fleeting “Success!” one-word HTML page which precedes the appearance of the execrable MSN page.

Whatever this file is, I don’t want it. And I now have an interesting work-around for non-enforced validation at shady local access points.

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May 27

Where were you on November Seventh, Twenty-Twelve?

Here’s where I was — struggling with my emotions, mustering some Generalship for my beleaguered FaceBook group, heavy into politics.  Back when this blog of mine was political (you can still find a bunch of remnants here and there), back when I was a small cheese in a big way in the FB Tea Party scene, back before I had to take a year off of politics from my inability to write or even think about it.  This is where I was a month or two before joining Second Life to find a whole different gang in a whole different context.  Good Lord, what a dump.

But here I was on that miserable day, when I was staggered at the fact that the incumbent President had won re-election.  I could understand the first time, for a lot of reasons.  I can’t really see voting based on race as a good thing, but every person retains the absolute right to vote for whomever they wish, for whatever reason they see fit.  And, I figure that were the shoe on the other food, I might very well have seen it the other way.

But re-election meant a widespread acceptance of things that I found unacceptable.  We still have not “gotten to the bottom” of Benghazi, and we probably never will.  But what happened is obvious.  Likewise our precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, and the launch of ISIS.  And our failure in Afghanistan.  And in the South China Sea.  And the list goes on.  People voted for it.  They got it.  The man did the job he was hired to do.  So here I was, trying to hold it together.  And I realized that perhaps the best thing I could do was help others try to hold it together.

The following is what I posted to my political FB group in 2012, as it became apparent that we had lost.  Everything.


Friends and Patriots

Okay, conservatives. Mind your manners. Shut your mouths. Nothing you say on Facebook or anywhere else will do any good or change anything, at least, not for the better.
Talk is nothing. Group is nothing. Education is nothing.
There is only victory or defeat, and we have lost.

IF YOU WOULD MASTER YOUR ENEMY, FIRST MASTER YOURSELF

Accept with poise and self-control the equally worthless words of your co-workers and family. Reflect upon how complete our defeat truly is.
The Constitution is already ignored. It will not survive the next four years. Now how shall we talk our way out of this?
Meanwhile, take care of somebody who needs taking care of right now. We have many wounded, so to speak. Reach out privately to affirm and appreciate those who have given their energy, their time, their money, and in some cases, their livelihoods.

I feel despair, but I resist. I want to lash out, but I refuse. I wish to burn and smash, to delete and quit, but I know that these are unhealthy and unwise reactions to our fortune. So weigh your actions. Measure your words. Limit your audience. Heal yourself. Lift up the needy that they may lift you in your need.

Do not try to change or control that which is too late and too large for your effort. Do not damage yourself in recklessness any further than your well-earned wounds from this desperate battle. We have lost, and we now have internal needs to tend to. Which is just as well, because we are well and truly screwed in our struggle, for the foreseeable future.

Yet that which is not seen, we ignore at our peril, and this is as true of opportunities and threats as it is of Bastiat’s shoemaker. So be quiet and be of good cheer, for we have lost, and our anger can hurt only ourselves and our sacred Constitutional cause.

A SENSE OF HUMOR IS THE LAST EFFECTIVE TOOL IN OUR KIT

When people ask me about it, knowing full-well where I stand and have stood for years, I tell them it’s okay, that I got my brain implant, I’m now picking up the transmission from the White House, and I was wrong. Freedom is for chumps and I’m glad I finally got controlled like the rest of America. I genuinely laugh and then I genuinely make my way out of the conversation. Anybody wants to pick over my guts, they won’t have my help in doing it. I won’t lose my composure without having it kicked out of me, and I don’t see anybody man enough to do the job.

Master yourself, care for your allies. Recover, and return to the fight in good shape.

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May 06

Against a Guest Worker Program

There are many fine arguments for and against a guest worker program, but the whole thing should be a non-starter. Not only is it unconstitutional, it is clearly at odds with every legislative advance made in the rights of Man since… Magna Carta?

It’s bad enough on its face, but consider the implications for the future. Those like me —  who see the dark hand of communism not behind every mishap, but certainly hovering somewhere nearby, ready to capitalize (if you will) on America’s every mistake — will feel a particular threat from a guest worker program.  As Marxism is fueled by dissatisfaction and steered by class struggle, we could hardly invite revolutionary agitation any more efficiently than by creating a dissatisfied underclass in this land of plenty.  And as always, not even one of the underclass would benefit from the destruction of our system. Only the cause itself, communism, would.

It is absolutely true that there are honest people willing to come to America and work hard, and thereby share in the blessings that America has to offer.  Let us not short-change them, ourselves, or the country itself. Let them be legal citizens — let them become citizens the right way.

I get the feeling that nobody on the right is even checking to see if a proposal is conservative or not. A guest worker program can be justified on either of two grounds — that the “guest” workers need it, or that America needs it. If America needs it, then we are in grave trouble.

America is a system of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Those whom the government is of, by, and for should be the same people in all cases.  The most basic principle on which America was founded, and to which it is committed, is that one group of people should not rule over another.

Now if we can create by law a new class of people within our borders who are protected by and subject to our laws, but who are neither allowed nor invited to create those laws, how can this be squared with our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, or with the bloody wars we fought to establish and defend the basic principle?  Could we invite a righteous revolution any more directly?  And shall those workers within our borders who have no representation be subject to American taxation?

There is nothing conservative about a guest worker program. Come to think about it, there is nothing liberal about it either.

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Apr 29

The Sound of Love

From time to time I hear a song and I think, “Now *that* is the sound of love.”  Don’t get me wrong — I have serious epistemological issues with the whole damned thing, but there is a sound that seems to fit the bill.

Now I am not talking about the sound of (ahem) making love (see Aerosmith, Back in the Saddle, ahem ahem, if you get my drift), or music which puts one in the mood for love (paging Dr. Barry White).  Just the sound of the emotion itself.

The first song that seemed to capture that sound for me was Sara by Fleetwood Mac.  There’s a story behind the song, layered and poignant, which sort of fits and not fits.  But the sound is wun hunnert percent what I am talking about.  There’s an echoing, swaying, almost *sloshing* ease; a wash of waves over an expectant shore, and it rises and falls to a longer rhythm of acceptance and recrimination, and acceptance again.

The actual story told in the song is difficult to pick out — I wound up reading it somewhere.  The sound is the thing, and so I place it at the top of my list despite there being no particular order.  Nor depth, as I only have two that come to mind right now.  But I will update this from time to time.

  1. Sara, Fleetwood Mac
  2. Head over Heels, Tears for Fears

Brief note from work (de minimus): I have been sifting through Carpenters songs looking for what must surely be in there.  Closest I can get is either Goodbye to Love, or Only yesterday.  Goodbye to Love is not so much the sound of love, but of acceptance of its passage.  Only yesterday comes close, but it isn’t exactly what I’m looking for.  But pretty much anything by sung by Karen Carpenter, to include a phone book, sounds like love to me.  She was special.

The search continues.

[UPDATE 11 May]

So, this is tougher than it would seem.  Most of the “Love” songs are about longing or loss, and convey that in the sound.  And while I have a plethora of favorites in those flavors, songs which seem to capture the sounds of love itself are surprisingly rare.  Now the word “love” is a ridiculously broad (!) term, so I am positive that I am not explaining this well.  Perhaps you know what I mean.

Meanwhile, the song Sara is emphatically not a love song proper.  It is about longing and loss, but the sound of it puts it on this list.

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Apr 15

A Shovel’s Work is Never Done

I have around 8K users on this site. Most of them are nonsense, but I do have several who actually exist. I want to bulk delete a bunch, so I am going in search of a tool which is better than the default ability in WP.

[Gave up on that.]

Here’s where I knew I had a problem. I have become kind of a numbers nut, seeing a power law distribution everywhere. If you can group things, you can get them to show you a power law. Well, typically. In the past I have gone into the WP user management area, searched for users from a given domain, and gone from there. For example, anybody with an email address ending in @mail.ru is gone for sure. Except on this, the first pass, there are over 4K users from @mail.ru. Now WP handles user bulk deletion in a terrible way — the user interface (the web page served on my computer) allows me to check “all” of the users displayed on a given screen.

Fine, but there are two things wrong with this — first, the page can only list something like 259 users at a time, which means that for over 4K users, I will have to do this entire process more than 167 times. And believe, me, waiting for each page to load and then entering the search criteria, selecting all of the users, hitting delete, confirming, and starting over again is a pretty annoying mindless behavior. Skinner boxes have netter schemes.

[And yet that’s exactly what I did.  Again!]

Second, what my browser will actually return to the system up on the server s a LONG URL filled with the user number of EACH user tacked onto the end of some sort of URL string. There is no way that the meaty long user numbers are going to survive the trip in a URL — they just don’t let URLS get that long.
RFC 2616 and RFC 7230 address the maximum length allowed in a URL. There isn’t one, but a request that each server be able to handle URLs of at least 8K characters, and an admonition that each server be able to handle URLs as long as they dish out. Fair enough, but the internet is not a point to point connection, in most cases. It is, as Senator Ted Stevens aptly puts it. “a series of tubes”. You don’t get to pick which tubes. So any node along the way can have its own limit on the length of a URL. I have experienced failure due to something kicking back long URLs before (hate when that happens), so I already know that simply hacking the code on my WP site to allow me to list more users on a screenful is not going to work.

I need more power just to get rid of the very first group of user, the @mail.ru bunch.

A bit about my methodology:
I would like to group, count, and sort (descending) users by domain, so that I get a list with the most populous domain (in this case @mail.ru) and its user count (in this case, 4.606) listed first, and then the second-most populous, and so forth.
This way, the first action I take will be the most effective, followed by the second most effective, and so forth. Think of the worst case scenario — I work n the list in reverse order, so that I spend an entire afternoon chewing through a whole bunch of domains which each sourced only a single user to the blog. I would consider it a minor victory to reach the level of knocking out users two at a time!
The problem is that, like many mail services, WP will not give me this listing without adding a plugin of some sort, or of course, rolling my own code. Well, I have sworn off of writing PHP/SQL/HTML code, as I do not want to bear the maintenance burden. I want everything I touch to be maintained in whole by somebody else. I’ll integrate the pieces, but I’m not diving under the damned hood ever again*.
I cannot get this listing directly. So I must use indirect methods. I assume (and there is a lot of fun math I want to do, but haven’t) that the first screenful of users is overwhelmingly likely to contain a user from the most populous group. Oh, the list of users is presented i alphabetic order, but if we assume all spammers may or may not be using the same tricks, then alphabetization should not matter in selecting the most populous spammer domain.  In fact, all things being equal, it is likely to be the first entry. So I look at the domain of the first entry and search for all users matching that domain.

There are 8,295 users. 4,606 of them are from @mail.ru.

Total users: 8295
@mail.ru 4606
@gmail.com 846
@yandex.com 260
@… 145
@yandex.ru 111

And so on. I did some of this on another machine at home and am now trying to dredge these up from memory. I mean, who remembers things like this?

 

Anyway, this post is a work in progress.  I’ll post a graphic of the expected power law when I get it done.

One thing I noticed once I got down to about the yandex.com level of things was that the memorable “___Medamelve” pattern of bogus names is really numerous. By the time I was don to ~3500 remaining, 298 of the were named “JuliusMedamelve” or something like it, for differing values of Julius. I decided not to do the obviously productive thing and wipe out that population, as they were from all over the domains, and I do have a blog post about domains to finish, after all.

* Actually, I like diving under the hood, but just like having enough money to pay somebody else to work on my car — I will work on hobby cars, but not spend an afternoon under my daily driver just so I can get to work the next day. Done with that.

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Apr 15

Enjoying the Windows Subsystem for Linux

I am, I suppose, the worst sort of computer user. I know so much about this stuff that I am acutely aware of the sheer magnitude of what I do not know, and I know that it is hopeless to attempt mastery, because I do not care that much. So everything is hard and futile, but if you ask me I have a thousand opinions, and each one is the definitive answer.

I am currently enjoying another attempt at learning emacs and trying in general to get back into the unix swing of things. I also just bought a Microsoft Surface Pro (AKA Surface 4). The sweet spot is supposed to be the i5 with 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of SSD storage. The i3 is not enough, and the i7 is too much.

Windows 10 has a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL), so I have been using that new-found capability to get my linux and emacs fixes.  WSL is not actually new — apparently, it’s been in the mix ever since NT, which should surprise nobody — early to middling NT was like using unix with an out-of-date Windows theme on it. Being able to access it — well that is new.

And so it turns out that no matter what you read about this WSL, it’s better than what you read. There is a lot of outdated information available online, because MS is bringing a lot of capability to the front, in rapid order. I’ll address these things in a series of posts, not one of which will be definitive. I am truly enjoying the learning process.

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