Friday, August 29, 2014

It is AMAZING how Proactive Microsoft Windows Support Has Been lately... I don't even have a Windows Computer

So I assume anyone who reads this will not fall for the scam of which I will speak.  I am positive you will not.  After all, you are all intelligent, attractive, forthright ladies and gentlemen.
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A scam that I used to get about once a quarter has been hitting me lately every other day I am at home.  Someone calls from "Microsoft Windows Support" to explain my computer is a mess.  Sending errors messages (to the Global Windows Server) and infected with Malware.
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Today I, as I always do, said, "Look, I know this is a scam, try some one else."  But "Sergi... I mean Sam" told me no, I had a real problem.
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So I played along for a while.   Was I in front of my computer? Yes.  What did I see on my screen? My desktop.  What about my keyboard, what was the key in the lower left corner?  Control.  How about next to that?  Option.
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Sir, do you see the key that looks like the Windows icon, it should be right there? No, Sergi..er Sam.  I don't have that key because I am on a Apple Computer and you are trying to scam me.  I told you I wasn't a f*cking idiot.
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I hear Sergi explaining this "problem" to his boss in the background (because idiots don't have a"hold" button").  Sergi's boss mumbled, grunted and (I assume) wavedhis hands until Sergi's said to him, "What?"  And I hear the boos say, "Hang up the f*cking phone".
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I knid of enjoyed that too much.
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The Amazing Sailing Stones of Death Valley - Solved

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Science is amazing, but can sometimes make the world a less miraculous place.  These are stones at "The Racetrack" in Death Valley.  The Racetrack is far from anything - at the end of a long dirt road where humanity seems far far away.
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And for years - decades - hundreds of years, the mystery of the stones has been an enigma (and not the kind that Matthew McConaughy found).  These massive stones leave tracks across the mud flats, but no one knows how they move.
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Or they didn't.  Scientist put GPD trackers on them and the once every 20 year event happened in less than 5.
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Turns out it is a very very light sheen of ice that melts on the land just before it does around the rocks.  That and the right wind pushes the stones across the lake bed.  It is rare, but it happened and scientist bolted out to see what was happening and caught it. (Story on Huffington Post and ABC News)
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For Ed's birthday a while back, Eddie, Lynn and I had trekked out to see them for ourselves.  It was surreal.  And magical.  Going forward it will still be surreal, but a little less magical.
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The Dog was cranky until...

Trevor was all cranky this morning as I am working at home. I couldn't figure out why until I finally brought his snuggle ball into the office. 

And, Re: Russian Invasion, We are Playing Along...

Nice Story.  Well, sad story if you are Ukrainian.  Or if you care about peace.  Or if you have a sense of duty - after all the UK, US and Russia all agreed to guarantee Ukraine's borders when it gave up Nucs.
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FYI, if I was Israel, Iran or North Korea, I would NEVER give up Nuclear Weapons!  Talk about a stupid thing to do, believing in Superpowers to keep their word.
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Russia Invades Ukraine - You Know... Just FYI

So those of you that avoid the news at all costs - and I understand why you would, might not have heard this tidbit.  Russia has invaded Ukraine.

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Don't get me wrong, not a big invasion, a small invasion.  But an invasion none the less. Ukraine has Russian Military POWs.  There is fighting.
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What is interesting is Putin's way of slowly upping this conflict.  I think he totally understands that Westerners (US, Western Europe and others) have the attention span of a gnat.  He sneaks in a little to the rebels.  Then a little more.  Then he gets caught, talks ("negotiates") until we lose interest and then does more.
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It is like we all learned the lesson from blitzkrieg to stand up to quick moves, but don't understand the slow game.
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Oh well, we ignore this at our own peril.  The Russians have spoken openly about saving ethnic Russians not only Ukraine but in the Baltics.  And the Baltics are in NATO.  Which means we are obliged to go to war for them.
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We might not.  We might hang them out to dry.  But I doubt it.  However, if Putin is trying to test us, this is the way to do it.  Him, his military and his German enablers.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Vinod Khosla is Kind of a Dick

Here is a story and you can read it, but the end result is that Vinod Khosla is kind of a Democratic Fund-Raising Dick.  Or as Cartman once said about Kyle's Mom, A Super King Kamama Bitch.
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King of the Dicks in his "What Me Worry?" pose

Short story - he bought a lot in San Mateo by Half Moon Bay with centuries old access to the beach (Martins Beach).  The lot that had included the road to the beach.  After complying with  California State Coastal Access laws for years, he decided, you know, "screw the people of the state" and closed access to the beach.
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That is way illegal in California.  You can't close access to the beach.  I mean if David Geffen, king of the gay-movie-mafia can't get away with, either can you, you johnny come lately Indian venture capitalist pig.  Now, on appeal,  he did buy some smarmy judge who said it was legal under the deed to the property which predates the state of California (under Mexican law).  Which is - you know - bullshit.
"Mine! Mine! Mine!"
Bullshit.  He is a rich Upper Caste Mindset American of Indian heritage who thinks he is above the law.  I have to deal with caste-conscious Indians all the time and they infuriate me.  No one can hide their distain for others less than a high-caste Indian.
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Being a Californian, always, I would like to tell him to go fornicate with himself, excessively.  Luckily, it seems that state overcame his attempts to buy the legislature and may take care of this (LINK).  But someone tell me what he has invested in (beside Sun and Java) and I will launch a campaign against it.
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oh... I am hot about this.
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(WARNING LYRICS might ARE be offensive***)
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Happy Birthday Bradley

Bradley's Birthday was yesterday. But I couldn't get to this until I reinstalled by Cloud.  So here it is. A little Throwback Thursday Happy BDay to Bradley-san.

Sometimes Art is in the Eye of the Beholder

On the recent Neppl visit, we took in the Highline and the latest "Art" installations.
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Both abstract pieces, one struck my fancy and one did not.
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First the one I liked....
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This is a simple piece echoing the regularity of the train track trestles.  I like it.
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This item below is (honestly) entitled "Realism Marching Triumphantly Into the City."
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Now, perhaps this is a sly play on the entire idea of a monument to militarism.  Perhaps it is a call to us all that  the impact of militarism on a city or a population is ugly.  Even in triumph, victory eats at our soul.
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Or perhaps it is a skewed vision on the idea that our next military overlords are lurking now, but we cannot yet recognize them.  Maybe aliens, maybe people who's souls are warped.
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Or perhaps it is just poop being trucked into town.

Absurd-o Reduct-o


As they might say in Hogwarts, award of 3 points to the Attorneys for Indiana and Wisconsin for bring a new argument against gay marriage to the Superior Court of the Unites States (District of the 7th).  LINK 
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And a deduction of 300 points for an asinine new argument against gay marriage.
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I trust you are all dying to know what the argument is, aren’t you?  Well, according the Attorney General of Indiana, the State of Indiana believes that marriage is necessary because drunk and stupid straight people can have sex and accidentally have kids.  Marriage forces those self-same drunken parents to stay together and raise the children.  Or, more accurately incentives them (i.e. bribes them) to stay married.  Gay people, on the other hand, have to plan ahead to have kids and so don’t need the incentive of marriage in orderto raise them.
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The judges questioned them about  this particular line of "reasoning". First, one postulated, "Wouldn't be a simpler solution to outlaw all fornication?"  Posner, the Reagan appointed Judge,  then questioned them about adoption and kids and their whole argument before dismissing the argument out of hand.
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The Wisconsin Attorney General didn’t do all that much better.  He feel back on Tradition in the US Law and Democratic Process.  Both of which he then implicitly invalidated that self-same argument, with the acceptance and approval of the result of Loving v. Virginia as precedent.
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I don’t normally comment on Gay Marriage cases anymore (don’t teach a pig to sing), but I did lurve the Indiana Attorney General’s argument.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

End of an Era (But I have thought that before)

Lleyton Hewitt went out in the first round this year.  He did get a bad draw (his first game was against #6 player who had about 9 inches on him in height).
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It made me a little sad.  He is getting old.  I have seen him at pretty much every tennis slam I have been to in the Ed Neppl Era.
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But still, cute as a bug.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Consider the Mark Missed

Expectations from about 1960 – 2005 or so (actually you can probably date it to exactly June 1, 2007 at the introduction of the iPhone) was the continued growth in immersive, big entertainment.  TV screens got bigger and bigger. Beta turned into VHS into DVD and home entertainment.  The expectation, Star Trek Style, was a holographic fully immersive environment and movies like The 13th Floor and Surrogates flirted with this fully immersive environment.
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But somewhere along the line, the iPhone, iPad and other devices changed the expectations of the future.  Now the small screens pull people into their environment.  Rather than large and immersive, it is personal, tiny but involving.  Watching people start at their phones or iPads, transfixed by something only they see is a little freaky.
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But we don’t get to plan the future.  We only get to react and watch.  Had it not been Apple,  it would be someone else.
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

The End of The Nation State

I don’t know if you all know, or remember or care, but this year was the 100th anniversary of World War I.  At the time it was called variously The Great War, or the War to End all Wars.
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It was not, of course.
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And everyone has "learned" the lessons from that war, but the lessons are, I think, being interrupted incorrectly.  Here is what I mean.  
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The generally accepted consensus (from which lessons are “learned”) is that a system of alliances between the European Powers (then the Great Powers) forced war in a domino effect style upon the continent.
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Nation states, with a infrastructure were fairly new at the time.  Russia, Austria/Hungary, Spain, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Romania, Serbia, Prussia had recently been (or still were) nations run by a King, Duke, Prince, etc.  Before World War 1, the monarchs could usually hammer things out.
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So it seems easy to say that when Russia invaded and absorbed Crimea this year (a very similar thing that the Serbian was trying to do in Bosnia before WWI)  and there was no war - ta da - Nation States  learned that nation states didn’t plunge headlong into war.
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In fact, I would argue it is not that nation states got smarter, but instead they are no longer free to act.  The nation state is now fully constrained by the commercial interests which are both broader and less easy to track than "self-interests" countries.

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Germany did not “restrain” itself as a country when Russia invaded Crimea.  The heads of industry (with an ex-chancellor as their spokesman) immediately rushed to tell the Russia oligarchs that Germany would still do business with them.  Similarly London and American Bankers lead the fight against even meaningful sanctions.  Ultimately the United States, with minimal investments, did produce stronger sanctions.
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But Scott, I hear you ask, isn’t the fact that Russia invaded Crimean proof the nation state is still powerful?  No.  Russia as run by Vladimir Putin is a cross between a cleptocroacy and a plutocracy. (a gang of thieves or a gang of rich industrialists).

http://www.dw.de/german-firms-fear-spiraling-sanctions-in-ukraine-russia/a-17509325
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And outside of Crimean, the nation state fares even worse.  Countries are nearly powerless in the face of non-nation state pressure.  Israel and Gaza.  The Ukraine against Russian infiltrators.  The grow of ISIS / ISIL in Iraq proceeded quickly, until they tried to take on a role as a nation state.  Even now, the Untied States is rather befuddled on how to manage the threats and beheadings.
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As an aside, the only way to deal with ISIL of course, is to drop a massive bomb or small nuke on a headquarters city and say, “You fuck with us again and more are coming.”  A nation state can’t do that, but if they beheaded a Fox News guy and Murdoch had a little nuke, he’ld do it. Would that fix the world of ISIL?  No.  But ISIL wouldn’t go after Fox News anymore.
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Why are we, The United States, pissing about in Iraq?  Why is Israel pissing about in Gaza?  Because there is a level of reciprocity we as civilized people try to maintain (and Israel can’t nuke what is essentially it’s own territory).  The nation state is constrained in a way unattached terrorists are not.  When AlQueda was shielded by the Afghanistan government, the government was easy to dislodge.  The actor, much less so.
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Don’t’ get me wrong, I don’t want to kill the people of ISIL.  But I don’t think they really understand anything but a big – don’t screw with us moment.  They are joyriding in US tanks like a coke’d up 6 year old at a go-cart track  Sure.... nuke a mountaintop first if you want to give the civilians time to get out.
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But we can’t do that.  Because the age of the Nation State is over.
http://www.nbcnews.com/id/7119752/#.U_YdBrxdVXI.
PS - The example is Crimea and Germany is ONLY an example.  Our own Vice President Dick Chenney, when CEO of Haliburton worked around sanctions to supply Iran.  It is, if anything, probably a stronger player in the United States.

Quiz!

Here is a Quiz:  This pictures are from Ferguson or Elsewhere?
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b)

c)

d)

e)

f)

g)
     

------------ Select More for Answers-------------

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Montana and FCBs

Well, my mom lives in Montana and has, more than once, explained that California Transplants are not always the most welcome of refugees.  Something about driving up prices, driving like idiots, looking shocked when confronted with a deer kill and generally being liberal pains-in-the-ass.
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This graph, from the New York Times, helps explain the animosity.  There are a hell of a lot of Californians moving there.
You can't see the X Axis, but it is time since 1910
Californians became the prime movers in about 1998
For a state that usually had migrants from North Dakota, Iowa or Minnesota, adjusting to Californians (and later latte-sipping Seattleites) could not have been an easy transition.
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You can go to the site and look up any state to see where the inbound population is from over time.  Very cool.  And California's is mainly from overseas (Mexico and Asia).