The Intarweb 
With all this talk of Net Neutrality lately, I can't decide whom I distrust least, the government or corporations. I often stick up for businesses but that's mainly because I know more liberals than conservatives. I don't believe that the Internet is considered a utility, yet, and I fear the day that it really does become one; regardless of who's saying they are managing it by not managing it.

Anyway, even though this isn't directly related to Net Neutrality, I decided to give Tor a try on my main desktop PC. It's easy enough to install and configure but you do need to install Privoxy and Libevent for it work. I even installed the Tor button for Firefox. Since this is for a desktop PC behind a router that does NAT, I needed to sign up for a DDNS service to manage all this. Even though I checked and double checked the confg files for everything, I still don't have Tor working properly. I know it's just a simple setting somewhere that I just can't find. So, I put that on the back burner and took advantage of the DDNS service I had subscribed to and set up the FreeBSD machine so web sites can be viewed from the Web. I chronicled it here. So, it's back to the drawing board for Tor but at least I got something done I had been meaning to for year or two.

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A New Battalion 
Since it seems that the Pentagon is struggling to find fresh troops , I have an idea. Congress seems to think we can end waging the peace in Iraq with the stroke of pen. Since they have all the answers, let's mobilize Congress, all 535 members, form them into a battalion, send them to Iraq to complete the mission. Surely, wielding their pens and preaching their rhetoric will solve all the problems. In fact, if people like Pelosi, Murtha, Spector, and Casey, Jr, arrived in Iraq, that might be enough to scare everyone away; well, everyone except their fan club, also known as the insurgency. But then, that way, that will leave congress open to dialogue with them and that will solve everything.

Oh yeah, don't worry about the bill. Taxpayers won't have to fund this battalion. Cold Cash William Jefferson will be able to bankroll this himself; just remember to pack his freezer.

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Exmochev 
New York, May 2, 2023 – Exmochev, the last of the U.S. owned oil companies, announced today that is it shutting down the last of its facilities in the United States. The move will leave the remaining 9,200 employees looking for jobs. Exmochev sold all remaining company-owned gas stations two years ago to BP. It was announced last month that Shell, under its new Chinese ownership, will be acquiring BP.

“How can our government allow this to happen” Sen. Chelsea Clinton, D-NY was quoted as saying yesterday. “Here is a company that offered high wages, good benefits, and was an anchor of the US economy for over 100 years, and now it ceases to exist. We must question what management has been doing for the past 15 years; ever since the windfall profits tax bill was approved by Congress.” Clinton denied questions from the LBA (Licensed Bloggers Association) that Exmochev's demise was in any way connected to her mother's, herself a former Senator, statement in 2007 - “I want to take those profits.” Sen. Chelsea Clinton also blamed former President Bush who she claims never did enough to help the oil companies during his presidency. Former Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton could not be reached for comment. Her office stated she was vacationing in Cuba and could not be disturbed.

Exmochev's history traces its roots back to John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company as well as other historical names like Texaco and Gulf. The current name is a meld of three companies - Exxon, Mobil, and Chevron. Exxon and Mobil merged in 1999 becoming ExxonMobil and then acquired Chevron in 2013. The company was renamed Exmochev in 2014.

“Unlike the textile, consumer electronics, steel, and auto industries, Exmochev's demise seems to be related to government intervention which is ironic in that some say lack of government intervention is what caused industries like textiles to move overseas or steel and automobiles to flounder in the U.S.” one anonymous blogger (ANON4992FL;[http://[1044:0cb7:a0a4:d183:1ff2:ee93:a37c:4495]
]) was quoted as saying yesterday.

Senator Robert Byrd, (D-WV) demanded immediate hearings on the matter. “What are these people going to do for jobs?” he asked. When will companies realize that it's in the nation's best interest when the government takes their profits and redistributes them to the people?” “When I was your age,” Byrd said to a reporter, “we wore white sheets when we went out in public.” Byrd, at 105, continues to insist he's mentally fit to serve in Congress and also renounced all his associations with a former white-supremacist group. Once reporter counted that he “insisted” 27 times during yesterday's press conference on the matter.

Michael Rodriguez, 42, of Houston, wondered “what am I supposed to do, go work at WalMazon for $17.75 an hour? I had some savings but most of that was seized in 2019 when Congress authorized that the windfall profits tax can be applied to individuals who have more than twice their yearly income in savings or retirement accounts.”

With Exmochev no longer in business, Venezuelan-owned Citgo and Shell, the former Dutch company recently acquired by the Chinese government, are the largest oil companies doing business in the U.S. U.S. State Department Officials believe that some of Citgo's profits are being used to arm and train Mexican and Venezuelan troops in Mexico and that Shell's profits are being used to build Chinese military bases in Africa. No one from Citgo or Shell was available for comment.


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This Kool-Aid Tastes Funny 
Since it seems that I am the only Linux user who hasn't drunk the Ubuntu Kool-Aid yet, I thought I'd give a whirl this weekend. I downloaded the ISO for 6.10 (I prefer numbers to names) and pulled out the old Sony Vaio; a PII 96 MB of RAM. I immediately stuck a 64 MB stick in there just to make sure it would run X.

I burned the CD and then began the install. The first error I got was a prompt identifying itself as an I/O error - "error reading boot CD." Ok, maybe the CD is bad. I rebooted and ran the CD test check and that froze up. Figuring I just made a coaster instead of a CD, I went and downloaded a beta release Kubuntu 7.04. This time, the errors were "unknown keyboard in config file" and then another during the another step was "ACPI: unable to locate RSDP." I also go a screen of errors displayed sequentially for several minutes starting at 0.0000 with unreadable and constantly scrolling text and going to something like 124.xxxxx something before I gave up and pulled the plug.

The error from 6.10 seemed easy enough to research ("error reading boot CD”). Some Allthewebbing indicated that upgrading the firmware of the CDROM might help. The heck with that. It was easier to try another CDROM. So I did. I tried two more. I got some different errors and a freeze-up or two. I then took the Kubuntu disk and ran the CD check on it on another PC and it passed. I know some of my stuff is older but why wouldn't K/Ubuntu take to it? The old axiom that Linux runs on older hardware is still valid. The same machine with the same parts can take Slackware and Arch without a hitch. I guess it's just Ubuntu that doesn't work on older hardware. Yeah, maybe it's a tad old being a PII and all but it's not like I have vacuum tubes in the thing.

So much for the drinking the Ubuntu Kool-Aid. I'll stick with what tastes great and has less filling.

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March Reading 
After having just finished The Fountainhead, I couldn't wait to get started on on Atlas Shrugged. At 1,168 pages, it'll take me most of March (and into April) to read, and that's with an aggressive reading schedule. The only copy the library has was hardcover which makes it more of challenge to lug it around with me.

The Fountainhead easily breaks into my top 20 favorite books I've read; possibly top 10. Rand's writing reminds some of Sinclair Lewis which is odd because it doesn't appear he was an influence on her. Like Lewis did in his novels, Rand worked her message into the novel. I still am not really sure what Objectivism is and all the Wikipedia definition did was make me feel like a college freshman again; confused and thinking of when happy hour starts. Whatever it is, it makes for great reading. I have a feeling that Howard Roark's testimony at the end of The Fountainhead is really Rand defining what Objectivism is. An excerpt:

Nothing is given to man on earth. Everything he needs has to be produced. And here man faces his basic alternative: he can survive in only one of two ways - by the independent work of his own mind or as a parasite fed by the minds of others. The creator originates. The parasite borrows. The creator faces nature alone. The parasite faces nature through an intermediary.

The creator's concern is the conquest of nature. The parasite's concern is the conquest of men

The creator lives for his work. He needs no other men. His primary goal is within himself. The parasite lives second-hand. He needs others. Others become his prime motive.


Howard Roark
from The Fountainhead

Again, maybe that's not the epitome of Objectivism, but it's a great passage. Now that I know the difference between creators and second-handers, I see people differently already.

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Multimedia 
I've added a page to my site that includes sound clips. The link is on the right. I figured I'd post some of the more inane quotes by the people who are almost always immune to media scrutiny.

I may also do video at some time too. I need to brush up on video editing and find a good tool to do that. Sound is easy - Audacity works well enough for my needs. The other obstacle, especially if I get into posting video clips, is server space. I am currently considering upgrading my plan so I can have more space to host some of these classic quips.

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The Original Dubya 
"Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them."

- from George Washington's Farewell Address, September, 1796.



Happy 275, Mr. President!





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Can't We Wait a Year? 
Instead of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, AKA the First Amendment infringing McCain-Feingold, Congress should have passed reform that limits how far out candidates can announce intention for the presidency; especially if they are currently serving the public as an elected official. We're barely into 2007 and it feels like the spring of 2008. All this talk is way too early. Moreover, sitting Senators should be doing their jobs and not campaigning, especially 625 days away from election 2008.

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Snow/Ice/Sleet Day 
The storm here has passed. I didn't bother measuring the accumulation but I'd estimate about five inches of snow, tops. Of course, that snow had about a 1 1/2 inches of icy mix in the middle and the five felt like ten when shoveling. I don't own a snowblower even though our driveway big enough for at least three cars comfortably. Our road is plowed but the side roads in the neighborhood are not. I just got the 4 wheel-drive fixed on my truck so I took a spin to make sure that it worked.

Incidentally, we have six fewer eggs than we did yesterday, about eight ounces less milk, two fewer beers, about eight ounces less Coca-Cola, and the same about of bread.

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Snowbound ('baund; adj.) - Living in PA and getting 6 inches of snow 
A large winter storm is currently moving through the Mid-Atlantic into the Northeast. As usual, people are crowding the stores buying eggs, bread, and milk thinking they'll be stuck for eleven days because of six inches of snow. Anyway, I don't know why they bother even doing that. Personally, the longest I was stuck was three days and that was because it took the apartment management that long to plow out the parking lot. After that, I bought a shovel and kept it in the truck of my car. I was living in Pittsburgh at the time and it started snowing on a Monday evening and stopped on Thursday. We got about two feet out of that one. Even without going to the store, I had more than three days' worth of food in the apartment. If an apartment dweller who, at that time, had just a part-time job had more that three days' of food in the house, I am sure most other people do, too.

Another reason why panic buying because of the weather is silly is that I thought it was the government's job to come bail us out after a major storm. It's nice to know that if I take no precautions whatsoever, no food, no shovels, no ice melt, etc, I can simply wait for them to come to me. If they don't come, I'll simply assume that Dubya doesn't care about suburbanites.

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Hilarity 
The woman I won't name seeks to become president. I support her, just not her mission.

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It can't Happen Here 
I just finished reading It can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis; one of my favorite authors. The story was written in 1935 and describes what would happen if the US fell under control of a dictator, complete with storm troopers, concentration camps, book burnings, government seizure of the press, and a mesmerizing candidate running for and being elected to office. He's a Democrat who unseats FDR as the candidate in 1936 who is called "the Chief" by his supporters and by the people once he takes office.

I think the story spirals too far in too short a time. The setting is only about a three-year span. The rights of the people are almost immediately stripped after the Chief takes office. Interestingly enough, before the election, he releases a "Mein Kampf-like" edict of 15 points telling everyone what he would do if elected. Perhaps the aura of the Depression made this kind of state seem not only probable but likely to happen nearly overnight if all the wrong conditions were in place. However, take away the short timeline and look at the events and you can see how something like this can happen. People are unhappy because they think they are poor. A politician promises them a guaranteed income per year while capping the wealthy at 100x that and total wealth that only 6x the latter (Points 5 and 11 from the edict referenced above). It's the basic "your life stinks, it's not your fault, and I will fix all injustices" line. Shad Ledue got what he wished for.

I like Lewis' books and I enjoyed the slightly morose satire of this novel. Overall, it still doesn't top Arrowsmith as my favorite Lewis novel, but like any other Lewis novel I've read, I would recommend it.


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