Saturday, January 18, 2020

A New Chair

     It looks like an old chair, the classic old-time wooden office chair on a caster base.  It closely resembles the chair it has replaced.  But my much-repaired office chair -- last worked on four years ago -- has reached a point of needing to retire to service elsewhere, where it won't be used as much.  It it likely twenty-five years old by now, so I think I have got my money's worth.

     The new one is a little more lightly built, but seems pretty solid.  Warned by reviews, I bought a better set of casters at the same time,  Put it together this afternoon and I'll see how it does.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Pushing Buttons

     Yesterday's post got a link from Instapundit.  The predictable Instalanche followed, and wow, the glory days of blogging were back!  Thanks to Insty and everyone who read.

     Many people commented on my two examples, on Facebook, at Instapundit and in comments submitted here.  I didn't publish any of the ones that came in here, because in order to make the point, I played a bit of a trick on readers: neither example was factually accurate.

     Oh, they're close, and what's more, they're commonly treated as if they were true by some people, some of the time -- and they push buttons.  So far, no one refuting or correcting them has done so on the cold basis of the historical record; no one has cited any actual sources.  But everybody commenting about them had a little heat behind what they had to say and a few were downright angry.

     Many commenters went immediately to extreme cases -- communists vs. (or in cahoots with) nazis, people being marched off to gulags or lined up against walls and shot.  That's not how politics works in this country, at least not in my lifetime, and that's not what I was writing about; I stated the parameters quite clearly early in the essay.

     There were a few "see, this is how women are, it's all emotion, they can't be objective" reactions,* and one saying I was blaming everyone for not being creatures of cold logic.  There was even one ticked-off "Speak for yourself!" (And for who else would I be speaking?)

     Your emotions are involved in your political behaviors.  Pride, fear, love, loathing, anger and happiness are in play -- and they will bite you where you sit down if you're not aware of them.  Likewise, the other ordinary people in your world have their emotions all bound up in their politics.  Each of them has one vote, which limits the actual electoral villainy they (and you) can get up to.  You are not going to reason them out of their dearly-held political beliefs, nor can they do the same with you. 

     You want to change people's ideas?  Be a good example.  Be someone they look up to and want to emulate.  Involve their hearts as well as their heads.
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* Yes, the male of the species is the sole repository of reason and rationality; for a good example of this, observe them watching a hotly-contested sporting event.  Ahem.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

"When Will They Admit They're Wrong?"

     If your question amounts to the headline of this posting, and it's about politics, then the answer is "never."

     It shows up over and over on social media, from Democrats and Republicans, from conservatives and liberals,  If it's a longer version and they've laid out their reasoning, it's often quite logical, frequently plausible; sometimes it takes a highly partisan slant to see things the same way and sometimes it doesn't -- and it matters not one whit.

     Politics isn't about logic.  It's not about common sense and very rarely is "the greater good" at the forefront of the minds of legislators when they draft laws or the Executive branch when they implement them.  It's not even the first concern of judges or juries, and as for your neighbors, when he or she goes to vote or stick a campaign sign in the front yard, they're probably not either.

     Oh, we and the politicians we vote in like to invoke the idea; we all like to think we are sensible, rational beings and that if those partisan halfwits on the other side would just shut up and listen, the scales would fall from their eyes and they, too, would see the pellucid wisdom of the policies and ideas we hold dear.

     But that's not how it works.  It's not how it works for "them" (whoever they might be) and it's not how it works for "us" either.

     It's a bitter pill but here's the truth, the real deal: it's about emotion. It's about rationalization, and wow, are humans talented at rationalizing whatever we have chosen to commit to.  Once we have, it seems perfectly sensible to us and divergent views look wrong.

     There may, in fact, be a clear right and wrong side to a political issue, one that would be obvious to a disinterested observer; but you and I are not disinterested observers.  We're inside the social machinery and it's well-nigh impossible to take a colorful pill and step out.

     There are people who went to their graves convinced poor Dick Nixon was unfairly railroaded out of office; people sitting right there next to you who are certain that lying to Congress about sexual horseplay in the Oval Office with an intern does not constitute an impeachable offense.  Maybe you agree with one or the other or both; maybe there's a red flag in there for you.  --Your reaction, whatever it is, is emotional, not logical.

     Bear that in mind as the present political drama plays out across TV screens and social media.  It's engrossing; you have strong feelings about it and so do a lot of other people.  It's not worth getting in fights over.  It's not worth puzzling over why those wretchedly obtuse people who disagree with you can't just wise up and see things your way.  They're not going to.  Even if you're right.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Wednesday And Foggy

     Foggy as all get-out out doors.  Foggier still on my TV.  National politics used to be easy to comment on; now I just want to point at it and shrug.

     At the state level, our Governor gave the yearly State of the State speech last evening.  It looks like we're doing better than the neighboring states in terms of unemployment (three percent-ish), job growth, solvency of the state government and other metrics -- but when two of the neighboring states are Illinois and Michigan, looking better by comparison is kind of playing on the "easy" setting.  Still, the state's doing well and more people are moving here than moving away, so that's good news.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

It's Warm

     Or warm for January, at least.  Today's high will be in the upper fifties, possibly even sixty or more. 

     I am taking as much comfort in this as I can, because it has also resulted in remarkably intense earaches and sinus discomfort.  --And bad as it is, it's still better than having to deal with bitter cold.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Monday Again

     Didn't we have a Monday just  last week?  Really, we've had enough of these, and yet--

     Some days, it's like crawling inside a Klein bottle: no matter how hard you try, you're stuck on the outside.  Which is also the inside.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Gun Show

     After a delicious breakfast at Northside Kitchenette, The Data Viking, Tam and I went to the Indy 1500 Gun (and Knife) Show yesterday.  The State Fairgrounds were busy with multiple events including a huge RV Show.  It was a miserably rainy day and between the three of us, there's a badly broken (and badly rehealed) ankle, a pair of shins rebuilt with titanium and stainless, and a once-broken knee that is slowly unwinding the cartilage from the upper hearing surfaces of the joint.

     So of course we were directed to park halfway across the sprawling fairgrounds from the event venue, despite having a blue-spaces placard borrowed from one of our vehicles* and pointing it out.  There were no shuttle buses running through the race-track infield where they put us, and there was puddle between us and the pedestrian underpass, a wide, long and in places deep pool of water.  We limped our way to the best place to cross, and wended down and through the low-ceilinged, dank tunnel under the track before walking a couple of blocks to the show.

     The show was...crowded.  The firearms selection was pretty good but had nothing really outstanding; the prices for things I'm interested in (an S&W Bekeart .22 target revolver or one of the models that followed right after) were pretty high.

     The main booksellers vanished several shows ago; they'd been struggling with a bad vehicle and worse health and we figure they set up shop wherever they were or wherever they could get to when life on the road became too much.  Their main foes -- literal foes, the show had to keep them at opposite ends of the very large building and there were still occasional arguments -- had dropped out even earlier.  There are a few other booksellers who show up at every second or third show, and they weren't at this one.  The usual tool guys were nowhere in evidence.  One has been headed that way, selling off what appeared to be the lighter contents of Grandpa's machine shop, four table-loads at a time, an endeavor with a definite end point.  The other one is a perennial, with a decent mixture of industrial surplus, sorted garage-sale finds and Chinsesium; I don't know why he wasn't there, but his usual tables, backed up to a guy who sells chemistry glassware and related items, were empty.  There was one guy doing knife sharpening and he was pretty busy, so I skipped it; time to get out the coarse stone and diamond hones and sharpen my pocketknife myself.

     Yes, I do realize that I go to gun shows and look for things other than guns.  There were a lot of knife sellers at this one, including some very high-end stuff, both "big name" makes and craftspeople selling their own wares.

     Some of our Usual Suspects were there, too -- the guy selling Cold War surplus and offering free anti-semitism with every sale and the fireworks guy with "cute" (not at all) names for his products that harken back to the worst crimes of the WW II Axis powers.  It's convenient of 'em to hang it right out there; the First Amendment protects them but I wouldn't buy gold bars from either one even if they were selling them twelve for a dime.

     On the other hand, the local chapter of the National African-American Gun  Association had well-staffed table with a nice display behind it and were running a raffle.  The local chapter is the Indy Red Tails Gun Club, named after the distinctive paint job of the Mustangs flown by the Tuskegee Airmen.  It was good to see them there; there's always a contingent of serious African-American hunters at the show and the usual young men one sees at the 1500 includes young men of color in demographic proportion, but this level of organization is relatively new and I'm happy to see wider Second Amendment support.

     I don't know if it's the Fairgrounds or the 1500, but increasingly, they set up very narrow aisles between the rows of tables in both sides of the building (with one wide aisle in the center of the larger side), and then leave a big empty space at the far end.  For me, this resulted in skipping a couple of aisles altogether: the crowd was at a standstill and there was no way through.  They need to either institute one-way aisles (good luck with that!) or make them wider.

     At the end, the Data Viking and I both bought nothing.  Tam picked up some ammo and we headed back to Roseholme Cottage, where DV and I watched a couple of episodes of The Expanse while Tam went to the range.  Later, her friend Shootin' Buddy stopped by and we all had a nice early supper at Marco's.

     Not a bad way to spend a gray, rainy day.
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* I'm not saying whose it was, but all three of us qualify.  Usually, we'd rather leave those spots for people having a much harder time of it, but the Fairgrounds are huge and the parking staff is always overworked; they need to get you to a spot ASAP, so they can get the five hundred or more people behind you into parking spots, too.  If it's a long way away from the event you're attending, oh well.  There are usually shuttles but they were so busy we only saw one the entire time we were outside the show -- and the posted route didn't include the infield parking area.  It's not badly run but really busy days tend to almost overwhelm the staff; they're always friendly but they have no time to sort anyone out.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Browser Computer Frustrations

     Another morning of frustration with my browser -- but it's not just the browser, it's everything.  My "refurbished" desktop computer has never been entirely happy and is becoming less so.  Time, I suppose, to be looking for another.

     In the meanwhile, the Raspberry Pi booted up fine and other than screen size, a couple of pieces of software and issues with saving files on Dropbox, it's an adequate machine.

Friday, January 10, 2020

This And That

     Ended up sleeping most of the day yesterday, other than a light lunch and light dinner.  It didn't prevent me from getting a full night's sleep last night, so it must have been what I needed.

      The TV news has seemed preoccupied - or co-preoccupied, anyway -- with the current goings-on of the Windsor family.  We fought a war so that we didn't have to pay attention to them, and yet somehow we can't quite look away.  Ignore all the "throne of Empire" -- well, Commonwealth -- stuff and you've got a young couple stepping back from the family business to go their own way, a story that plays out every day all across the planet.

     The other news preoccupation is the President of the United States and what may or may not be going on with Iran.  Whatever it is, it's not going to end soon; we're three (or is is five?*) Administrations into the current troop-heavy version of the Great Game and the only constant is, we can't get out without leaving a power vacuum that will soon fill with the worst possible replacement.  Some of my left-leaning Facebook contacts are sounding the alarm about how Mr. Trump's got to be removed and I'm reading it, thinking the impeachment process is, in fact, underway, so what are they urging that they haven't already got?  The storming of the Winter Palace?  Well, the weather in Florida's not so bad this time of year, but I think the golfers will object.
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* Possibly more.  U. S. involvement in Iran goes back to at least the Eisenhower administration.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

No Fun

     Rannie the cat and I have something in common.  I think mine is milder, but it does seem that I've been fighting a sinus infection over the last few days.  It hit pretty hard this morning and after trying to ignore it, I finally had to admit defeat.

     I called in sick and went back to bed.  Slept like a log until about ten minutes ago, so I guess that was what I needed.

     Last night's dinner was a deli pork roast from the hot food cabinet (and darned good); I'd browned left-over slices of it for breakfast and made a couple into a sandwich for work, so that's my lunch.  With a little horseradish to help my sinuses!

Presidents Making War: Another Conditionally-Bad Thing

     Ensuring that the Federal Government follows the Constitution in that only Congress may declare war is a grave and urgent task -- if the President rattling sabers isn't from your party.  Or you can wink at the war police action if you're a Congressthing who figures it will be unpopular and you're hoping when public opinion turns, it will drag the other party down with it.  Or, what the heck, in an excess of patriotic zeal, real or feigned.  (See Public Law 107-243 or 107-40 for examples.)

     Congress has tended in recent years to tell the President to "do the right thing" and leave him alone with the Joint Chiefs while they look on from the sidelines and wash their hands, the specific enumeration in Article One, Section Eight notwithstanding.

    Wikipedia tells me, "The last time the United States formally declared war, using specific terminology, on any nation was in 1942, when war was declared against Axis-allied Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania...." Congress, it appears, has been asleep at the switch or just waving the Executive Branch on by, all through the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War (euphemism bedammed withal), Grenada, Panama (okay, that was more like a drug bust) and the specific manifestations of the War On a Noun in Iraq and Afghanistan, to ignore U. N. "peacekeeping" expeditions and name a few war-ish actions that spring to mind.

     Then an extremely polarizing President authorized the military killing a man who was a known sponsor of terrorism.  True, he was very highly placed in the Iranian government -- and the person in day-to-day charge of their version of the SOE.  Congress -- especially the Democrats in Congress -- is not happy.  Nope, they are riled and they're talking about reining him in, starting some time next week.

     And never mind that it's been Congress who have let the reins out all this while.

     Who knows?  This might even spell the beginning of a whole new era of Congressional responsibility!  But I think you'd be wise to not bet any more money that you can afford to lose on that.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Poor Rannie!

     Tamara's cat, Random Numbers "Rannie" Wu, has another upper respiratory infection.  She started getting sniffly over the weekend and by yesterday, she was wheezing, sniffling, burbling and sneezing.

     She refused breakfast yesterday.  Tamara took her to the veterinarian yesterday afternoon.  The diagnosed a bacterial infection and we started her on antibiotics last evening.  She's still recovering and not feeling very well; refused breakfast again this morning and is due for her medicine shortly.

     Huck, my huge yellow-striped tomcat,  is not at all understanding.  He keeps trying to get Rannie to play by bounding up, throwing a foreleg over her shoulders, and attempting to wrestle, a behavior she doesn't like very much even when she's not sick.  Is he being a pill or is he trying to cheer her up?  It's hard to say.

     Tam's poor cat prefers to nap on hot pads and furnace registers, hoping to feel better.  She's taken to turning her back on the room, a sure sign she's not happy.

     The antibiotic helped a lot the last time she had a sinus infection.