The Shorties on the Train

What do Dave Johnson and Donald Trump have in common?: Both agree that we have infrastructure that needs to be fixed. But I’m not hearing mainline Democrats or Republicans joining in. It’s not a brave political statement to say “Maybe we could put some people to work fixing some roads.”

Speaking of American Politics: I’m not the only one who noticed it’s crazy out there. Hillary has her share of foot-in-mouth disease. And Bernie is closer to the true center — the one that wants decent jobs and affordable healthcare — than anybody in the establishment wants to admit (which is why Trump is more welcoming to Sanders followers than Hillary; see the speech text above).

The Noose Gets Tighter: The Senate failed by ONE VOTE to pass a law allowing the FBI to look at your browser history for funzies. Remember come November. Meanwhile, US Customs wants to know the social media accounts of people entering the country. Because no terrorist is smart enough to say “no I don’t have Twitter” or give a username more generic than the one they use to keep up with the latest ISIS jihabi memes. Meanwhile, the TSA is still pushing their “get out of the security line free” card as a way to shorten lines at the airport. One user gave the ringing endorsement of “not so hard as signing up for Obamacare.”

Free Electronic Music: Moby wrote himself some yoga and meditation music. He decided to share. Very nice of him.

Not sure what to say about Brexit: So here’s one of the more intelligent things I’ve read on the issue.

Obligatory Economy Item: Wages have been stagnant for over 40 years when adjusted for inflation. Maybe some of these ideas could help. Oh, and don’t let anybody scare you about Social Security. Forbes is hardly a “liberal rag,” and they say that the latest scaremongering is way overblown.


“And I kept hacking at Hewlett Packard until it was only this big”

I can’t quite get my head around the crazy this week. Ted Cruz announced his Veep running mate today — despite the facts that a) that usually is reserved for actual nominees and b) that usually gets done so as to shore up alliances and produce the strongest overall ticket. And who was his pick? A retired General maybe? A well-liked Governor, perhaps? Wait, no, maybe a member of Bush’s cabinet?

Nope. Failed candidate, failed CEO, and barely passed the Turing test: Carly Fiorina. See, picking a veep is something you do to make your ticket more likable, not less. But I suppose this is what desperation looks like.

Meanwhile, one of the Koch Brothers has gotten disgusted with the clowns coming out of the circus they’ve been funding. As the supposed Chinese curse says, “May you live in interesting times.” More accurate in this case: “Lay down with dogs, get up with fleas.”

In Closing: a couple items on the job prospects of the Millennials and others; who am I kidding, I’m not gonna write a whole post about Harriet Tubman; Juice; British notice reality of a trade agreement; Judge points out the actual meaning of “in plain sight’; and oops.

Congress Still Wants to Make Your Phone Insecure

Over a million dollars of tax money later, the Feds found somebody to crack one iPhone. And what did they find? As predicted, nothing of value.

That isn’t stopping the Feds from trying to make you less secure (not that you are terribly secure now). After all, the location of a ticking time bomb might someday be in somebody’s phone! The bill on the table has been called “technically illiterate,” “unworkable,” and “a firing offense.” You might want to take a minute to remind your Senators and Representatives that you vote.

In other news, a meddling judge said that the FBI can’t get around the need for an actual warrant by just hacking suspected perps. Let’s hear it for meddling judges.

Just a reminder, folks: uawsw

In Closing: a mighty suspicious coincidence; power shopping; the piano; and a double dose of Prince.

Straight Shooter

Or, “Oh Nicky”

This brave dog is Nicky. Nicky was shot and killed in the line of duty here in Las Vegas. This made the national news. So a few days went by, and some people started to wonder how come the criminal hadn’t been charged with capital murder of a police officer (I don’t know if K-9 units count, but I did hear some people ask), or even animal cruelty. It turns out that the shot was fired by a cop: Nicky was killed by “friendly fire.”

Now, when I heard that I was even more sad. But I also remembered this old post from 6 years ago.  It took 7 cops 81 shots to kill one bad guy? I really don’t have a problem with cops shooting bad guys now and again, but they should actually hit what they fire at!

Just maybe Vegas cops need to spend some time on the freaking firing range learning to hit their targets.

In Closing: Lawmakers are really trying to make encryption worthless (thus killing the tech industry in America, promoting identity theft and other cybercrimes, and not really doing jack about terrorists); Google doesn’t trust anybody; the sad truth about all those jobs being created; the neighborhood you live in influences how much activity you get; and sugar.


Not Really Music Monday: Pi Day

It’s 3.14. Also, 3.1416. Perhaps celebrate with some pie?

In Closing: still fake; still bad for real Americans who like to have jobs; sounds like a wild goose chase to me; not having money is not actually a crime; and just maybe the FBI misjudged this and people have figured out that 24 was a TV show.

Book Review: Fire Touched


I know it’s been a long time since I put out a book review. Forgive me?

The opinions presented are my own. I’m not getting paid for this review. I bought my own copy and read it pretty much as fast as I could.

This week, the latest entry in Patricia Briggs‘s “Mercy Thompson” series came out. I’ve been following this series since the 3rd book was new (and the Alpha and Omega series from the beginning). So for those not familiar with the world: Mercy is a VW mechanic whose Native American heritage shows up in the form of being able to turn into a coyote; her husband is the Alpha of the werewolf pack in the Tri-Cities area of Washington state; due to circumstances that would take multiple novels to fully explain, the Faerie races have declared war on the United States Government; the werewolves are trying very hard to stay neutral in this war with limited success.

This particular installment begins when Mercy wakes with an uneasy feeling. Little does she know that by nightfall, she will be on the evening news after the pack defeats a troll on a bridge, and she makes an interesting declaration. You can check out the first chapter here. Or get your own digital copy here.

Let’s be clear. This novel is a bit of a departure from the tone of the series. The first half or so is pretty amusing, since Mercy does have a rather wicked sense of humor. However, lacking is that tear-jerker climax about 70-80% of the way through the book. This is a book that is primarily concerned with the plot arc. It establishes certain facts that will assuredly be important in the next books. It ties certain short stories into the larger plot. Bonus appearance by Baba Yaga! This is not the place to pick up the story, but it is a decent read.

And I do seriously wonder how Mercy’s lavender plant will turn out. It could be very interesting indeed.

In closing: a little bit of TPP; a few NSA, FBI, encryption, and privacy items for you; exercise and your brain; a bit of political stuff (psst! He’s right behind you!); Vegas judges; I notice Generation X is missing from these graphs; and bonus kittens.

Taking it in the Back Door

Serious people are using the events of Paris to whine about how The Authorities don’t have enough authority to suspend your right to have a completely private conversation on your cell phone. Their excuse is that Bad Guys might be having conversations about doing Bad Things — a concept that should stink to high heaven of Pre-Crime. The Authorities want to make it impossible for your phone to be completely secure, in the name of catching Bad Guys, never mind that history shows it doesn’t work that way.

I have said this before but let me say it again: A back door that Good Guys can use is a back door Bad Guys can use. It’s a back door that can be used to empty your bank account, steal your identity, stalk you, obtain information useful for blackmail and/or extortion, or otherwise make your life miserable.

Oh, and a couple of last words: Secretary Kerry says there were 12 “problematic” people out of 785,000 Syrian refugees, and that sounds like good odds to me (I wonder how many criminals you’d find if you investigated 785,000 random Americans); and I too will stop using variants of ISIS in favor of the more accurate Daesh, for they do indeed sow discord; and some of my online friends have pointed out that the White House didn’t turn into the Bleu, Blanche, et Rouge house? Please note CONGRESS in the picture above and stop making up things to be upset about.

In Closing: it concerns me that the IRS is baffled; I wonder who looks at that information; “great“; scientific weasel words; perfect except for the errors; manufactured outrage.

Voucher Detente

So, recently the State of Nevada passed a law allowing vouchers for parents to send their Special Snowflakes to private school on the public’s money. I have long been opposed to school vouchers for several reasons and if you’re curious, you can read about them here and here.

But it turns out that the Nevada law has a catch: to get the money, the child must be enrolled in a public or charter school for at least 100 days. Does anybody happen to remember how long a typical school year is? It averages 180 days.

So yeah, if you honestly give it an shot and the local public school isn’t working for your kid, the State of Nevada will help you out, but they’re not going to subsidize sending your Precious Darling to Las Vegas Day School or Bishop Gorman. You want the State’s money? You play by the State’s rules.

That is detente, Comrade.

In Closing: When a traffic citation can mean a death sentence, we all have a problem regardless of gender or color; Last Words; Waaah, Uber doesn’t like following rules!; hidden near Vegas; Votesmart; skewed; no surprise.

About Time

For the longest time, it seemed like the only person truly trying to bring attention to the flaming bag of feces on America’s doorstep known as the Trans Pacific Partnership was Dave Johnson. Thank [deity] he’s so tenacious. Well, now he’s getting some traction. Here’s from today’s New York Times:

Under the accord, still under negotiation but nearing completion, companies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings — federal, state or local — before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.

Let me translate that for you: a company doesn’t like a law. They can sue the city/county/state that made the law in a UN Tribunal! While the feds or a state might have the funds to fight that, your city or county is effectively bullied into compliance with corporate demands. Say goodbye to environmental regulations, fracking bans, efforts to curb corporate abuses. Kneel before your corporate overlords!

Yeah, I’m not a fan of the NYT’s 10-hits-per-month thing either. But I’m glad that a Serious News Source is pointing out reality.

In Closing: not sure how many of us have the patience to make rice this way; zombies and you; “His life story is so ridiculous that if they made a movie about it, nobody would believe it is true”; while I don’t agree with all of it, I have to admit that it works (and would work so much better with a public option!); one meeelion people have “get out of the security line free” cards (that’s one out of every 320 people in our nation, the rest of us better bathe and watch how we yawn!); the Supreme Court had to say “um yeah, you should follow the law.”