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malthaussen

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Member since: Sat Sep 24, 2011, 10:36 AM
Number of posts: 7,497

Journal Archives

Spooks

The world is trying to drive me mad, or my mother at least.

She always locks the car. Always. So why, when she went out today, was there a pair of glasses on the passenger seat? They belong to neither of us, and no one rides in that car, ever. There were no glasses there the last time she used it. Don't you just love stuff like that?

-- Mal

Well, that's distressing.

I have a lovely little wireless Internet service, unlimited data, and it only costs fifty bucks a month. All I had to do was plug in a modem they provided, and that was that. Too good to be true, it appears, and now that it is going out of business, I'm not sure how I'll have any Internet at all. Yeah, there is a cable company, they wired our TV, but they did a lousy job of it and they'd have to drill a hole in the wall to run the cable to my box. And then there's all the other associated crap. Plans, phones, cable packages, bah, humbug. We still have a single land-line phone and no cute techy stuff at all except for my one computer.

You'd think getting a simple Internet setup for one lousy desktop and nothing else would be cheap and painless. It doesn't look that way.

-- Mal

Need a new ISP

As expected, Clearnet is going bye-byes in November and leaving me with no Internet (and a leased, dedicated router which I'm not sure what to do with). So I need to start checking options for a new service.

All I want is wireless Internet for one computer. I have no mobile devices, no fancy phones, and have no wish to fool around with television deals. I just want the fastest, cheapest, bare-bones access available so I can continue to share the riches of my soul with my pals here at DU (and elsewhere, of course).

The good news is I live right outside Philly, so I should have plenty of options. The bad news is I live right outside of Philly, so I have plenty of options.

Suggestions are welcome.

-- Mal

Anthropological question about the guest-friend relationship

On the off-chance that somebody around here might know anthropology trivia, I remember reading years ago about a tribe on the Amazon known universally if informally as "those bastards" in anthropological circles because they were the only culture known not to honor the guest-friend relationship. As far as I can recall, it wasn't the Yanomomi, although they certainly qualify for the characterization otherwise. Is my memory faulty? It's been bugging me off and on for decades.

-- Mal

Doomed, presumably (PC hardware glitch)

My very ancient box has started glitching on startup. Twice, now, in about five starts, it has not booted correctly the first time: the disk spins, but the BIOS does not start and the monitor times out for lack of input. I have to toggle the power and switch it on again, which is not something I'm happy about doing while the disk light is on. So far it has booted correctly after the power has toggled, or I wouldn't be writing this.

Since a new box, or even Windoze 10 is not an option financially right now, the question is whether I should leave it on 24/7 or just continue to toggle the power when/if it happens again.

Housekeeping details: It's a dual-core AMD running under Windows XP SP3 Home (I said it was ancient). 2 gigs on the motherboard, the BIOS is American Megatrends. I use Firefox, incidentally, but that is up to date.

-- Mal

Who still drinks the milk from the cereal bowl?

I was watching my mother do this at breakfast (she's 90), and it occurred to me that there are probably people who no longer drink the milk from the bowl because they think it is somehow un-adult. Heck, I had one correspondent on the 'Net who was amazed that I still ate Sugar Frosted Flakes because it was "kid's cereal."

I guess, though, some of us here would only drink it if it were bacon-flavored...

-- Mal

The homogonization of the TV voice and the decline of American civilization

It's probably not an original observation, but as my mother was watching an old Lawrence Welk show on the tube, it occurred to me that 50-60 years ago, MCs and TV personalities actually had individual voices, not the speech-coached moderate midwestern baritone that is about all one hears today. (Well, at least as far as the men go) Thinking of Ed Sullivan, Jackie Gleason, Red Skelton, Jimmy Durante, etc... they all could be recognized by their voices. Today, it's hard to tell the players without a scorecard, especially when the hearing is half-shot to begin with.

I'm sure this has something profound to say about our society, if I could just work out what it is. I certainly doubt Lawrence Welk would get a job in broadcasting today (well, if he were alive that is). Whatever you might think of his show, I feel like something's been lost since those pioneer days. This raises the question, what has been gained?

-- Mal

Why are traditional economic indicators used to support the Administration?

Something I find increasingly puzzling is the use of traditional economic indicators to support the notion that the President has done a good job economically. Of course, there is no arguing that those numbers are impressive on an absolute scale, particularly figures for the Dow averages and overall unemployment. Yet many analyses have shown that wealth continues to be distributed to a disproportionate degree to the already-wealthy (for example, this article by the WSJ, which one would hardly suspect of Administration bias: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/09/10/some-95-of-2009-2012-income-gains-went-to-wealthiest-1/ ). And figures for employment suggest that the greatest gains in jobs are to low-level (and low-paying) service jobs, not to work where one can actually, you know, make a living (let alone contribute to the Consumer Utopia). (For example, this article from the National Employment Law Project: http://www.nelp.org/content/uploads/2015/03/Low-Wage-Recovery-Industry-Employment-Wages-2014-Report.pdf )

So I'm puzzled. Doubtless, the rich have gotten richer, but is this a thing a Democratic administration is most concerned with? (I note that the Dow climbed briskly in the Clinton administration, as well. There are even posts at DU about it, for example http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=114x18030 )

It seems to me that traditional economic indicators give only a very incomplete story about what is really going on economically, and that the more complicated picture is, well, darker. And while "because it gives them bragging rights" may support the usage of the traditional indicators to tout the good job the Administration has done (and to contrast it with the lousy job done by the GOP), I can't help thinking it is somewhat intellectually incomplete, if not dishonest.

-- Mal

A salute to Elmer Ellsworth

Elmer Ellsworth, dashing young Colonel of the 11th New York Volunteers (aka the First Fire Zouaves) and one of Abraham Lincoln's close friends, was killed on 24 May 1861 after taking down a Confederate flag which was flying from the roof of an Alexandria inn. Virginia had just ratified secession the day before. Ellsworth thus has the somewhat dubious distinction of being the first Union officer killed in the Civil War. He was 24 years old.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-death-of-colonel-ellsworth-878695/

In light of the actions of Bree Newsome today, I thought it was not inappropriate to commemorate the actions of her gallant forerunner.



-- Mal

Dignity, like rights, cannot be taken away, only denied.

Mr Justice Thomas, in his dissent on the ruling in Obergefell et al v. Hodges, Director, Ohio Department of Health et al, has created a minor firestorm by comparing slavery and gay marriage and arguing that the former did not take away dignity.

The offending paragraph:

The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

To be an advocatus diaboli for the present, Mr Justice Thomas actually has a good point here, but he appears to be confused by the possession of dignity, and the exercise of it. And this is quite a material point, since the advocates of gay marriage are really arguing about the exercise of their dignity, of being treated with dignity, rather than about possession of it. And it is a significant point. Rights (and dignity) are not gifts in the power of a government to give or withhold, they inhere in the individual by virtue of his humanity. But the exercise of such rights, the acknowledgment of them, is in the power of government, and has hitherto been denied to great swathes of the populace from time to time by act of government. Mr Justice Thomas appears to be ignoring this truth, which is at the root of the suit by Obergefell et al against government discrimination. And it would appear that Mr Justice Thomas is not alone in this confusion, since the majority opinion by Mr Justice Kennedy states that the "Constitution grants this right." (ie, due process and equal protection)

That is, at best, sloppy terminology. The Constitution does not grant rights, it confirms them. It defends them. Rights are not trinkets to be handed out by a benevolent ruler at pleasure, they stem from the very humanity of the citizen. By acknowledging the rights of LGBT citizens to marry, we do them no favor, we erase an injustice. In my opinion, this is a significant distinction.

-- Mal
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