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DINO poltroon Jared Polis

Jared Polis is my congressional representative. Unfortunately. Sorry, that's a mistake -- I have come to the conclusion that he is properly referred to as DINO poltroon Jared Polis. Where DINO, of course, stands for "Democrat in Name Only".

DINO poltroon Jared Polis is my congressional representative.

There was a time when I was proud to have him a representative. In the long ago days when the House of Representatives actually had votes on substantive matters, his votes on things like net neutrality and internet privacy that suggested that he had at least a passing acquaintance with technology. I donated some money to his campaign.

I wish I could get a refund of the money I donated to DINO poltroon Jared Polis.

In the past few years the House has done comparatively little, and when there are votes, DINO poltroon Polis has voted on the side stupidity and greed with depressing and increasing regularity. The question in my mind was becoming not "Has he sold out to the corporate interests?" but "Has he sold out? Or was he a corporatist stooge all along?"

His recent vote to effectively bar Syrian refugees has been beyond disgusting. Since the Daesh stated goal is to make Syrians miserable and destroy tolerance and cultural diversity in the west, I consider the House vote tantamount to treason.

I sent a very strongly worded email to Dinohim. It included words like "embarrassed", "ashamed", "gutless", "hard-hearted" (or possibly "cold-hearted") and "evil". He sent me an email reply making excuses. I think I left out "brainless"from my original letter. But I don't believe he is stupid or gullible, and I am insulted that he thinks I am either of those things.

I have also emailed the Colorado Democratic Party, asking whether there might be an actual Democrat available to primary him on the left. And I wrote to the Bernie Sanders organization asking whether they have someone in their Colorado organization who could go up against DINO poltroon Jared Polis.

It is possible that a lot of my usual charitable giving make be diverted into politics over the next year. This is very depressing.


I'm Doing NanoWriMo this year. I started off fast, which is good because I may be traveling on business later in the month.

The book is "Luck Storms". The official synopsis is "Secondary world fantasy, not quite ice-age Earth (but you can see our continents if you squint and ignore where Florida ended up), strange magic system with ecological and climatological effects, middle-aged spinster (that's a pun) librarian heroine, a male lead who is not exactly human any more and a (non-verbal) magical mammoth who doesn't need any uplifting to match humans, thank you very much."

It doesn't adequately explain how peculiar the story is...

At the moment, the pieces I'm writing are going well, but looking forward, I'm deciding what to do about stuff I'm calling "reverse Lewis and Clark" or "East Across the Plains with Mammoth and Pack Llamas".

Tolkien was lucky he was dealing on European scales. It's 980 miles from Boulder CO to St. Louis MO, and 19 hundred some from Boulder to Cape Hatteras. That's a lot of walking in either case. But I can't skip the journey entirely -- there are a couple of key plot points along the way.

Fortunately, I won't need to decide how I'm handling it until this weekend, or maybe next week some time.

Knowing Where to HIt

There's an old joke about a plumber who looked at a problem, took out a hammer, hit the pipes once, solved the problem, and presented a bill for $100.

When asked for an itemized bill, he produced:
Hitting pipe with hammer $10
Knowing where to hit $90

I have just had a week like that, only more so.

A client I consulted for previously hired me to help implement some software tools changes, and I felt like I accomplished nothing. I spent most of the week exchanging emails with people trying to figure out what they wanted to do and what information and tasks would be involved in accomplishing it.

I didn't even get near the point of hitting the pipe with the hammer, but the customer was very happy with the progress, because I knew what questions to ask and kept asking them until I was able to start sorting out the requirements for the project.

Knowing what questions to ask or figuring out what questions to ask is a big part of my skill set, either in this kind of project definition or in actual troubleshooting. It's not clearly related to any particular OS or software package, and in the recent past I've run into a number of situations where people I know are technologically competent displayed an amazing lack of it. Information I expected to be available, because of course you would collect it if you were dealing with a problem, just wasn't there. Sometimes not even when I asked for it because there had been no record-keeping or logs had been erased, or written over of not kept in the first place. I must be way the heck out on one limb of Dunning-Kruger.

I need to remember that knowing where to hit is valuable. I also need to remember that I can't expect most people -- even most technical people -- to do even a basic job of problem analysis without being led by the hand.

Bending toward Justice?

The Supreme Court has done excellent work this last while, not just in the decisions they have made, but in the writing of them.

Elena Kagan's decision that quoted Spiderman's Uncle Ben and referred to the lyrics of the old Spiderman theme song while resolving the Marvel patent case were delightful.

I agree with those who predict Justice Kennedy's words about marriage will be quoted in many wedding ceremonies, straight as well as gay.

The decisions on Obamacare and the Fair Housing Act were more sensible than many had feared (or others had hoped) as was the decision that arbitrarily extending sentences is unconstitutional

As for Antonin Scalia: I would say: may the universe deal with him justly, and in the same spirit of kindness and compassion he shows for others, but I wonder if that is not already taking place. His filters seem to be failing over time -- to a point that makes him a target of mockery -- and a seminar on brain structure I attended listed that as an early symptom of dementia.


President Obama's eulogy for Clementa Pinckney appears to be one of the great speeches of his career. It saddens me because it reminds me of the day we approached his first inauguration with such hope, but he has said things that needed to be said, and said them well.

For all I regret the half measures and incomplete promises, considering virulent opposition he has faced, I think Obama has done a fair job.


Congress, by contrast, showed itself to be the captive of the corporations in passing the fast track for the (potentially treasonous, but who can say while it is secret) TransPacific Pact.

There was a time when Daily Kos published a daily summary of activity in the House and Senate, even though sometimes it was just a list of busywork like renaming post offices. They have not bothered for the past few years. I miss the summary. Even more, I miss having a legislature that occasionally did something worth summarizing instead of frittering away their time with gridlock and symbolic votes.

I have been getting many begging emails because this is the end of the quarter and important in FEC rules about political donations. I made another small donation to Bernie Sanders. I have been replying to emails about funds that would benefit Jared Polis and Michael Bennet with emails explaining exactly why I am not donating money to them at this time, and expressing my wish that they would be primaried on the left.

I sent similar thoughts to the Sanders campaign: as much as he needs money, Bernie needs a party, or at least a faction, that will support his ideas.


Mass murderers sometimes hope that their example will start an uprising of the like-minded. There is something very satisfying in the fact that Roof's crime seems to have had exactly the opposite effect. I will not miss the rebel flag, but I am about as distant as I can be from the demographic that finds it meaningful.

The interesting thing is that I think he catalyzed a transition that was already in progress. There is a recent commercial for something automotive that features 2 young men in an orange stock car, being chased. I think they even address each other as Bo and Luke (or my mind is interpolating that due to the power of suggestion). The car in the commercial does NOT have the Rebel Flag on its hood. (And I don't think it was just to avoid trademarks.) The first time I saw the commercial, it got to the end before I figured out what was missing.

Edit to fix ref: Roberts wrote the decision on Obamacare, Kennedy wrote the Same Sex Marriage decision.


A little before noon I opened my front door on my way out to run an errand. A buck with complicated velvet antlers (10 points? 12? more?) jumped up from where he had been resting in the shade of the house and moved away from me. Another buck (maybe 6 points) closer to the south end of the house moved away into my neighbor's yard and the senior buck followed.

I've seen evidence of deer in the yard over the years -- Tracks. Droppings. Chewed branches on my lilac bush. Shapes in my headlights late at night. But this is the first time I've seen them in daylight or so close to the house.

I wish I hadn't left my phone on the coffee table... I wasn't able to get a picture.

Feral Crabapple

I live on the edge of Boulder Open Space (not entirely sure whether it's county or city open space) and have no good water for irrigation, so I generally practice what I refer to as Darwinian Xeriscaping. I don't water, and what wants to grow and can survive, grows.

I have lots of different wild flowers growing in my yard, including yuccas and little prickly-pear cacti and wild roses and lots of different things with yellow flowers. I don't get the yard mowed more than once or twice a year because the wildflowers are so pretty. The grasses are pretty, too, if you let them grow enough to develop their seed-heads.

I also have a feral crabapple. I did not plant it, it just started growing several years ago -- a twig with leaves instead of the usual soft stuff. Now there are a bunch of slender trunks, some more than 10 feet tall and most with branches. I suspect the seeds were brought from one of my neighbors' trees by the birds or squirrels. The crabapple lasted through three or four years of moderate drought with no help from me. and two years ago it developed flowers and fruit on one branch for the first time.

I have been a little worried about it because a year and a half ago I had it moved about 12 feet farther into the yard. (Birds and squirrels don't understand about not planting trees too close to the house.) But it seems to have recovered well from the shock of the move -- the tree is showing flowers on most of its trunks and branches this year.

It will be interesting to see what the fruit looks like. Apples don't breed true from seed. The fruit two years ago was odd enough looking that I wasn't entirely sure they were apples (though obviously something in Rosaceae) and it is quite possible that not all of the stems in the cluster came from the same seed, so there may be differences in the fruit produced. I've been thinking that in a few years I may try to find a source for some grafts of edible fruit varieties and add those to the mix.


The world seems to be pushing toward activism this year, sometimes in odd ways.


DuPont is having a contested Board election this year. I usually don't bother sending in proxies -- I almost never own more than 100 shares of any one stock I've invested in, so my choices are likely to be hidden in the statistical noise. But the DuPont board of directors, with many millions of shares of which I own 100, called me FOUR times to make sure I would vote in the election... so I voted.

I did not vote for anyone on either Board of Directors slate (as far as I could tell it was a choice between sharks and tapeworms).

I voted for the proposed auditors, and against the executive compensation that was being proposed (see comment about tapeworms).

And I voted in favor of all of the questions that had been placed on the ballot by trade unions and religious groups.

I don't expect my votes made an real difference -- I'm a couple of decimal places below anything that will even show up in the voting reports. But there may be a lot of small stockholders like me who will be harassed into paying attention to the ballot. Maybe some of the ballot questions will make it out of statistical noise territory.

Bernie Sanders.

For a long time I was registered as an Independent. Then one year there was a local race where the Democratic primary mattered more the the general election (there's a reason they sometimes call it the People's Republic of Boulder), and it occurred to me that it had been at least 10 years since I'd had an opportunity to vote for a Republican candidate I found acceptable, so I registered as a Democrat.

In the past few years I have started occasionally making small political donations, and also 'signing' various on-line petitions. I'd like to think that some of the recipients might check their donor lists and the petitions they receive for correlations, but I honestly don't think they are that smart. In 2014 I donated to the Democratic Congressional campaign rather than to my actual Representative because I did not like the way he voted on a few things in the lead-up to the elections, and I would be stunned if the analyses could pick up that sort of subtlety.

I donated to Bernie Sanders, possibly just outside the first 24 hours after he announced his presidential campaign. I want his voice in the debates and the Democratic platform. (I've been realizing lately that many of my opinions are left-ish even by Canadian and European standards.)

I got a phone call from the Hillary Clinton campaign this afternoon. I enjoyed telling them that I was supporting Bernie. Maybe it will decrease the phone-spam I get. Or maybe not. I think I was averaging more than a call a day from campaigns and pollsters last fall.

The 2015 nominations for the Hugo awards were hijacked by a bunch of people with appallingly horrible taste who took advantage of a loophole in the rules.

The first WorldCon I attended was IguanaCon II in Phoenix in 1978. I have been an attending or a voting member many times since then (with occasional gaps), but have rarely nominated anything.

I think I missed voting last year due to health and other distractions, though I had a voting membership. I generally approved of the results and definiely approved of the Hugo for best novel.

I am voting this year. Emphatically. "No Award" is an option in Hugo voting, which is nice when all of the options presented are mediocre or worse. I am also making a point of buying works of non-slate nominees in the categories that have them.

I have sampled the works of some slate nominees who dropped out due to disagreements with the organizers of the ballot-stuffing, and I'm sorry to say I have not found anything that makes me regret that they are non longer on the ballots.

There is one special case: I bought the latest book in the Dresden series by Jim Butcher when the ebook first came out. It had some nice bits and the writing is decent, but I would have been surprised if it showed up on the Hugo ballot. Having it show up as part of the slate is... disconcerting. It indicates that he is not part of my tribe. What's the saying? "If you lie down with dogs you get up with fleas". I'm a cat person.

I have been reading and enjoying the Dresden series long enough that I would have bought the first volume of Butcher's new series on spec when it first came out if he had not displayed a casual opportunism regarding the slate that I find a bit off-putting. I think I'm going to wait for either the paperback release (and accompanying ebook price cut) or mind-bendingly good reviews before I sample it.

My voting membership this year gives me nominating rights next year, but I have also just bought my voting membership for 2016 (which will give me nominating rights in 2017) and mailed out the fee for voting rights in 2017 (which will give me voting rights in 2018).

Unlike past years, I'm going to make use of my ability to nominate. I tend to think of myself as not a short fiction reader, but I read enough on-line and follow enough links from various websites and blogs that I have more exposure to current short works than I've had since I stopped subscribing to some of the genre magazines, 25 or 30 years ago.

Comodo Insecurity

When installing Web server and mail server software one nuisance is the need to purchase security certificates (or generate and use 'self-signed' certificates that cause annoying warnings to bbe presented to users). But we expect that the added security of and https vs. http connection is worth it.

Late last week there was news that Lenovo had been caught shipping its laptops with software installed that invalidated the security stack. Scary and annoying -- especially for anyone who has recently acquired a Lenovo laptop -- but arguably the result of greedy manufacturers being clumsy. You don't necessarily expect Lenovo to understand the fine points of the security stack, or be competent to perform adequate security audits on the crappy software they pre-install on the machines they sell.

Comodo makes a lot of money by managing one of the roots of the CA security certificate stack and selling certificates to people who need them for setting up (hopefully) secure web servers and mail servers and LDAP name and directory servers. Security certificates are (or should be) their core competence, and one would expect that they would have financial incentives for safeguarding both the integrity of the certificate and their own reputation for integrity.

There are reports that a software package called PrivDog, created by associates of Comodo and distributed by Comodo itself, does more than facilitate the possible subversion of the certificate stack, like the Lenovo app. PrivDog is reported to create a forged certificate stack on each machine where it runs that accepts all incoming certificates, thereby invalidating all certificate checking and website validation.

There are situations that elicit a WTF.

Then there are the ones where the appropriate reaction is more like "Good GOD! What were they thinking?" This is like an anti-virus company freely distributing software that turns out to disable anti-virus scanners.

Comodo does NOT have the excuse that they were dealing with something outside their area of expertise.

A few weeks ago I was looking at certificates for my sites and for a recommendation for a certificate source for my employer. I almost went with Comodo. I am very glad that I waited. The phrase "Cold day in Hell" comes to mind at this point, and not just because we've just had 3 days of snow.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is supposed to be setting up a source of free server certificates this summer and there are a couple of other OpenSource sources for Certificates out there. I think I'm going to find out whether the EFF's "Let's Encrypt" project needs and will accept donations. Open Source is not a guarantee against bugs, but egregious problems are a bit more likely to be spotted before they get out into the wild, and I trust the EFF not to try to make a profit by corrpupting with one hand the security product they arre distributing with the other.

Web Ad Algorithms

I have detected a flaw in the algorithms used to decide what ads are presented to me. If I browse a site where I don't have ads blocked (there are a few where I allow them) I see ads for store I have brwosed and items I have googled for over the past couple of months.

As a case in point -- I currently see a fair number of ads from Jos A Banks, especially for leather jackets. The trouble is (from their point of view) that I have a new leather jacket that I bought from Jos A Banks, and it is very unlikely that I will need to buy another one any time soon. The same problem happens with other items I have googled, especially mid-range durable items like electronics gear and small appliances.

I typically search online for things for a day or a few days, and then buy what I was looking for. So ads based on things that were the subject of a cluster of browser hits that have stopped are the least likely things that I will buy.

Showing me ads for a blender (I just replaced my 10-year-old one) or a leather jacket, are a waste for both the advertiser and the sites on which the advertisements appear. Non-durable goods are less of a problem, of course, but I am less likely to buy those on-line. And even then, trying to sell me shoes or undergarments when I just bought some is kind of self-defeating.

And the ads for things I just bought fill space that could be used for things I might actually buy... though I can't predict what those might be.

I'm not sure what anyone can do about this.

Smartphone RSI

A couple of months ago our company switched cellphone carriers and those of us near or after the end of our current contracts were upgraded to Samsung Galaxy Note 4 phones.

The phone is beautiful -- great screen, great battery life, screen buttons big enough to use easily. Big enough visually to use as an e-reader, and good for games. Great speaker-phone mode, which was just as well: I complained early on that the phone was too heavy to hold to my ear during a long conversation and my CEO said he generally used a headset or speaker mode.

During the past few months I have had erratically increasing problems with my right arm and shoulder, including one very sore spot on my upper arm that my chiropractor said was a muscle insertion point.

I was needing frequent chiropractor appointments and occasional use of a vibrating massager gadget just to keep my arm partly usable, and waking up in the middle of the night because the shoulder stiffened up and hurt so much.

On Friday my DSL went out and the phone sat on the table being a hotspot all day, and I noticed that my arm was feeling a bit better. I avoided picking up the Note phone all weekend and by Monday the improvement was continuing.

I arranged to swap out the Note 4 for a Galaxy S 4 mini, which seems to be the lightest smartphone Verizon carries, and the improvement has continued.

Before handing in the Note, I weighed it. Including the Otter-box, it was 8.6 ounces. I assume the problem was holding that weight up and still, at focal distance.

The tablet I use for a lot of my reading is nearly a pound with the leather easel case, but I tend to prop it on things rather than holding it in mid-air -- I think the Note just hit a sweet spot regarding leverage and muscle tension. (And possibly amplified whatever problems the tablet was already causing.)

The Note was large for my hand too, so I was stretching my hand to support it as well as tensing against the weight.

The mini is a lot less usable than the Note 4. Typing stuff in the onscreen keyboard is really difficult and I wouldn't want to read much on the tiny screen. But it works as a phone and GPS and hotspot (DSL went out again yesterday) which are the functions I really need from it. And my arm is clearly improving.

It is still a little sore, and this morning it was stiff from being slept on until I moved it and stretched. But I was able to move it and stretch it, without worrying about what other damage I might be doing to it.

Maybe I'll see if I can get used to using a stylus.

I wonder how many other people are having ergonomic problems with the new larger phoones without realizing it? Especially kids and women with small hands.