Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Abraham Lincoln the goldfish

"President's Day goldfish"

That's Abraham Lincoln the goldfish. TY and I got him on President's Day 5 years ago.

Fun Tweet OTD
torn between wanting a snack and looking like a snack
- some twitter bippy named Sara,

The F.B.I.

Let me get this in here from the start. I want to VOTE!
OK. Carry on...

You ask for miracles, Theo, I give you the F.B.I.
- Hans Gruber, Die Hard,

From Die Hard to Crooked Hillary to the Vegas shooter to the Florida school shootings... is anyone slumping harder than the FBI?

The FBI missed multiple obvious signals about this Parkland, FL shooter. This includes someone who knew the shooter calling the FBI to warn them just six weeks before the horrific attack. The FBI did nothing. They tragically dropped the ball.

... the FBI said "a person close to" Cruz called the agency's public tip line on Jan. 5 and left information on Cruz's "gun ownership, desire to kill people, erratic behavior, and disturbing social media posts, as well as the potential of him conducting a school shooting."
- nbc post

But I gotta admit. I'm on an island, man. I don't think anybody cares. Nobody at the FBI is getting fired or even reprimanded. Again, Trump is the only one who's willing to speak up.

Trump Tweet OTD
Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign - there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!

Our award-winning local journalists in Lisle yawned. 

The FBI admits they screwed up.
- The Morning News

The FBI is an ugly part of the swamp. Bloat and politicized, it's a murky mess that needs to be drained, but that's tough. In all this malfeasance and incompetence, only one FBI guy has resigned. It's some goof named Andrew McCabe. He resigned but, via some nabob trickery, McCabe will still snag his full pension: "McCabe is taking "terminal leave" for now until he can officially retire when his pension kicks in." (wash exam post) Is that how your job works? (pfft)

So, we're recycling the gun control debate. And that's fine. Here's some great data for you.
  • Gun Control in Australia, Updated - Australia banned (and confiscated!) all assault rifles in 1996 after a terrible mass shooting. The result: shootings are down a little. Overall, about a 20% decline in homicides over 20 years.
So, the big ending: My gun control stance. I want to vote!
I do not want my vote taken away by the Supreme Court, ala abortion and gay marriage.

I've never owned a gun. I've never shot a gun. I've never even held a gun in my life. So, I'm not a big gun guy. But I do care about the Constitution and the personal freedom that is only present in our country. All I want out of this deal is to vote. I want my representative to vote for or against whatever gun control legislation people throw out there.

Let's wrap this negativity with some really great news!
NYNY has the lowest homicide rate in nearly 70 years. YOW!

For some good news, New York City's yearly killing total dropped below 300 for the first time and the city saw its lowest per capita homicide rate in nearly seven decades.
patch post

Off To Be The Wizard

Book: Off To Be The Wizard by Scott Meyer
Review: 2 bill-stars (out of 5)... DNF

This fantasy book has a simple hook. If I may borrow from the cover (otherwise known as the Goodreads description): "Martin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program." So, you can change reality by editing a file. This plot isn't enough. The characters are 2D and the writing is flat as well (ha).

There's some humor. I like that the wizards cast their spells in Esperanto. That's pretty funny. For example, flugi means fly in Esperanto.

"Do I have to say flugi?" he asked. "It's the least dignified magic word ever." 
"Right now, yes. Later you can make a macro and set any word you like, make sparkles trail behind you, whatever. During training we're focusing on basic flight, and to do that, you say flugi.
- Off To Be The Wizard
I made it about halfway through. Did not finish (DNF). Not a good read.

Oldie news

Exercise + booze. It worked for my Gram Krieger. She lived to 94 years. Most importantly, she had a high quality of life over almost all of those years.
Exercise: She lived on the 3rd floor of her apartment building without any elevator.
Booze: Gram usually had a little pop at night. She liked her Bailey's. (ha)

I have no explanation for it, but I do firmly believe that modest drinking improves longevity.
- some nabob, Drinking Alcohol Helps Better Than Exercise If You Want To Live Past 90 Years Old

Billy Graham died today. I'll never forget the story of Louie Z from the book Unbroken (williamt review). Louie Z came back from his ordeal in Japan and struggled mightily getting back to his normal life. He had terrible nightmares and flashbacks and became an abusive drunk. Well, in one fateful night, Louie Z was saved at a Billy Graham revival, "under a circus tent on a clear night in downtown Los Angeles."

Louie was on the raft. There was gentle Phil crumpled up before him, Mac's breathing skeleton, endless ocean stretching away in every direction, the sun lying over them, the cunning bodies of the sharks, waiting, circling. He was a body on a raft, dying of thirst. He felt words whisper from his swollen lips. It was a promise thrown at heaven, a promise he had not kept, a promise he had allowed himself to forget until just this instant: If you will save me, I will serve you forever. And then, standing under a circus tent on a clear night in downtown Los Angeles, Louie felt rain falling.

It was the last flashback he would ever have. Louie let go of Cynthia and turned toward Graham. He felt supremely alive. He began walking.

"This is it," said Graham. "God has spoken to you. You come on."
- Unbroken
Man, that's powerful writing. Powerful and positive.
huzzah... yow, bill

PS - Louie Z's religious turnaround didn't make the Hollywood movie. (imagine that, grrr). But I guess there's a documentary out there that talks about it, offered by Billy Graham's organization,

Friday, February 16, 2018

My shovel is MIGHTY!

"Bill vs. nature"

I am tiny against the powerful forces of nature. But my shovel is MIGHTY! (ha)
(btw, that's an officially licensed kim39 photo™)

Ladder of Years (again)

Book: Ladder of Years by Anne Tyler
Review: 5 bill-stars (out of 5)... wonderful!

Anne Tyler's a fantastic writer, and Ladder of Years is my favorite book of hers (I think). The plot is simple: Delia Grinstead, a 40 year-old housewife, walks away from her family and all her responsibilities to a new, simpler life. Walking away from the rat race has to be a nearly ubiquitous first-worlder fantasy. This is a big part of the book's allure. We live (and leave) vicariously through Delia.

Now, you may say, "Jeez Bill... running away from your family sounds pretty dark." I hear ya, but it's not. The book is light because of Delia's personality and Tyler's approach to the story. The magic of Anne Tyler lies in the description of her everyday characters. Delia doesn't fit into a convenient box: villain, hero, victim, Mom, etc. She's a very realistic, mixed up person and that makes her travels all the more interesting. It helps that Delia is such a likable character, even with all her failings.

Delia unlatched the front door and felt a thin, bare silence all around her. She climbed the stairs, thinking, Here comes the executive secretary, returning from her lone meal to the solitude of her room. It wasn't a complaint, though. It was a boast. An exultation.
- Ladder of Years
Let me dot some i's... 1) The only dent in Ladder of Years is the very, very end. The ending isn't bad, per se. It just gets a little plot-y and loses some of its fun. It's rushed. 2) This is my second go-round with Ladder of Years. I first read it a long time ago. I'm happy that my positive memories of the book were confirmed.

A great read!

Olympics oddities

Some Olympic oddities for you...

1) USA athletes used to pay taxes on their Olympic medals?!?
In 2016, the feds made Olympic medals tax-free.

Olympics QOTD1
In the past, this money was taxed as regular income and athletes were expected to pay. In fact, they were even required to pay an additional tax based on the value of the medal. (Gold medals are worth $600, silver is worth $300, and bronze medals weren’t taxed because they are worth less than $5.)
- Yahoo post

2) Some shenanigans from the Olympics nabobs.... Olympic Athletes from Russia?!?

Olympics QOTD2
Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR) is the International Olympic Committee's designation of select Russian athletes permitted to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The designation is the result of the suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee after the doping controversy.

3) How many people know what the "figure" in figure skating is? Probably none. Well, almost none.
Yeah, in the compulsory competition, skaters made a figure eight with their skates and retrad

Olympics QOTD3
Many competitors feel that compulsories have no place in modern skating; they say the maneuvers are tedious, and boring to perform and watch.
- compulsories ended in 1990, No More Figures In Figure Skating
If you're still flummoxed, here's famous skater/olympian Scott Hamilton doing a figure eight in 1984,

4) We watched Asian girl skating. Is that a tattoo? Slippery when wet? (he he)
It ended up being rock tape with a USA logo on it, Yahoo post.

Olympics  QOTD4
This is the first I’m hearing of this but definitely not a big bold tattoo. 😂
- olympic skater Mirai Nagasu,

5) And your top story of the olympics... doggie burgers in South Korea. (barf)

Olympics  QOTD5
...restaurants “nearly in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium” are still selling dog meat meals. According to the Humane Society International, around 2.5 million Korean dogs are killed for their meat each year.
- usa today post
Good lord, if you host the olympics, South Korea, I think you're supposed to tidy the place up a bit... company is coming over. So, ix-nay on the og-day, maybe? Just for a couple weeks at least? (yuk)

Nerd alert

When your website crashes, nerds often have some fun with it.

I'm surprised it took google so long to do this.
Google removes ‘view image’ button from search results to make pics harder to steal
Interesting. Getty made them do it.
Internet rages after Google removes “view image” button, bowing to Getty
(I included the link above for the Getty info, but this "Internet rages" or "Twitter is on fire" stuff is the surefire indicator of lazy, stupid, leftie journalism... aka FAKE NEWS)

Of course, you can still do this... "the image previews you see are actually hot linked images, so right clicking and choosing "open image in new tab". (shrug)

I use googled images here in ye olde blog all the time. But I'm trying to have less aggregation and more williamt content, especially images... whether they're photos or screen grabs. If this google change gives me a stronger push in this direction, then good. (smile)
thanks... yow, bill

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Chaotic evil + positivity

Candle art shot

Lyric OTD
Chimney falls and lovers blaze
I thought that I was young
Now I've freezing hands
And bloodless veins
As numb as I've become 
I'm so tired
I wish I was the moon tonight
- Neko Case, I Wish I Was the Moon, (live!)
Watch that Neko Case video, man. She's singing this song live.
Great song and lyrics. She's beautiful. And the best voice in the business. Neko is wonderful!

Awaken Online

Book: Catharsis Awaken Online #1 by Travis Bagwell
Review: 2 bill-stars (out of 5)... not good

This is the story of a high school kid playing a virtual reality (VR) role-playing game (RPG) because he got suspended from school. (hmm) That's it. (hmm again) I had to skim through the last quarter to finish.

The Goodreads genre here should be young adult and definitely not science fiction.  Did you know that Goodreads auto-magically determines a book's genre by the "shelf" on which users have placed it? Here's the link: I've never used the shelf feature on Goodreads. (hmm)

AO is very different than, for example, Ready Player One. In RPO, the virtual reality is part of a plot with characters and a theme and creativity and such. AO is very highly rated. I think that's due, in part, to its ultra-violence. But everything is virtual. When you die, you have to take a three hour timeout from the game. (sigh) There are allusions to how the game is changing people in the real world, but it's not really fleshed out.

I guess some of the jargon comes from existing games like dungeons and dragons. NPC is a non-player character, or a computer-generated element of the game. Jason, the story's main character and a sullen teenager (zing, ha!), has an "alignment" of "Chaotic-Evil". That's pretty funny.

A chaotic evil character does whatever his greed, hatred, and lust for destruction drive him to do. He is hot-tempered, vicious, arbitrarily violent, and unpredictable.
The major precepts of this alignment are freedom, randomness, and woe.
Young people and video game players may find the book appealing. (shrug) Not a good read.

Positivity from my favorite chart guy

Here's one of the best from my favorite chart guy, Mark J Perry. This is a great counter to all the negativity we get streamed at us nonstop from FAKE NEWS. It's something that any old-timer can confirm for you because we remember rusted out cars and eating at home every night and yadda yadda. Americans are much wealthier than in the past.

FAKE NEWSthe middle class is shrinking, getting squeezed. (gasp!)
Realityin the last 50 years, both middle class and lower-income groups have shrunk.
Well wait a second, how the heck is that even possible?
There's only one answer... Americans have moved up to the high-income category.
Positivity and Prosperity!

Chart OTD
...the middle class really is shrinking, but it’s because so many US households are moving up to higher income groups.
- Mark J Perry, Yes, the US middle class is shrinking, but it’s because Americans are moving up

I'll sneak this one in here, too. Pretty interesting  What percentage of oldies are still working? Basically, more oldies are working now than a generation ago. 50% more!

I hope to still be working at 65. I might be a janitor or a barista or an RPG coder (sorry, inside joke), but still... we'll see. Of course, working at something you enjoy because you want to is a LOT different from working at 65 because you have to pay bills.

This dood (below) is 55 and is similar to me. He does many small (low-paying) jobs rather than one big (high-paying) one. He calls it a second childhood. I guess. It's definitely a more selfish lifestyle than when you're in your 30's and focusing on your kids and stuff every day.

Today, I think of myself as semi-retired: My various ventures earn me roughly a third of what I made as Director of Financial Education for Citi’s U.S. wealth management business and, indeed, I spend modestly more than I earn. 
- J Clemens,

Facebook struggles

Facebook is not for 55 year-olds. (duh) I don't get it. I don't want to get it. (waving cane) I follow along, but I've stopped posting except for our fantasy league groups... which are very nice, btw.

Obviously, social media is wildly popular and taking over the planet. But today, at least, much of the content seems to be:
  • Candy - Social media is emotional and mental candy. There's a sugar rush, but there's a complete absence of any nutrition or substance.
  • Clever - Being clever is the coin of the realm on social media. Even this pitiful blog is more interesting than the latest meme or political post (gasp!). Brad Pitt is right: "Oh, I get it. It's very clever. How's that working out for you... being clever?" Great. "Keep it up then."

There's another odd (and temporary?) Facebook thing going on. They can't seem to get a handle on what news they show because there's so much crap out there. Google has this problem too. For example, Google News considers MSNBC a news source. (pfft)

Here's the gibberish that showed up next to my Facebook stream. (btw, who knew that gibberish started with a G, that's weird; I could have sworn it was jibberish; oh well, public school education, he he) It's news that's "trending", Facebook says. Very exciting. (ha)

This is a hot mess.

Child rescued from inside toy claw machine - "KTLA-Channel 5 reported that Mason did get a toy."

Spirit Airlines employee told student to flush emotional support hamster down the toilet - "I didn’t have any other options, she said."

Jim Carrey urges Facebook users to DELETE their accounts in protest over Russian interference in the US election - "#unfriendfacebook"

It's like Facebook has been taken over by the old National Enquirer.
And Jim Carrey... um, struggling dood. Mightily. (scrunch)

Facebook, social media, other tech... I think we'll figure it out. Eventually.
thanks... yow, bill

PS - Capitalism. America! (in skillet form, huzzah!)