Archive for the ‘General Observations’ Category

Lying To Congress Is A Crime

March 17th, 2017 Comments off

I was reading yesterday about Richard Nixon and his role on the House Un-American Activities Committee when he was a Congressman from California. Nixon is known for his questioning of Alger Hiss and how he trapped Hiss in a contradiction regarding Hiss’s contacts with Whittaker Chambers. Hiss was tried and eventually convicted of perjury for lying in the Congressional hearing. Yes, it is a crime to lie under oath to Congress. (BTW, here is a link to a book review on a recent book discussing this incident:

Now it is 2017. The Attorney General of the U.S., Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, has pretty much admitted to lying to the Senate during his confirmation hearings regarding his contacts with representatives of the Russian government. This is a crime. So why is Beauregard not being prosecuted for this crime? Worse than that, Beauregard is still employed as the top law enforcement officer of the United States. Why is this? Why isn’t the Congress taking action to impeach this lying criminal?

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Truth and the Press

February 24th, 2017 Comments off

The illegitimate president expanded his attack on the news media with continuing criticism of legitimate news organizations and attacks on those in the executive branch that share news with the media through leaks. The obvious strategy is to suppress actual news and replace it with the illegitimate president’s fantasy of how the world should be. Both Hitler and Stalin eliminated freedom of speech and freedom of the press in order to maintain control.

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Teddy Roosevelt and the Media

February 18th, 2017 Comments off

I am reading Doris Goodwin’s book The Bully Pulpit. The book is a biography of Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft. What is interesting is how Roosevelt decided early in his political career that he would develop a relationship with newspaper reporters and provide unprecedented access to the media, first as governor of New York and later as president. The media (and especially McClure’s Magazine) helped to develop popular support for Roosevelt’s progressive policies, including taking action against the trusts and monopolies and tried to reduce the corruption in government caused by filling government jobs with political cronies.

The illegitimate president has taken a completely different tact. His approach comes from the Stalin-Hitler playbook: eliminate dissent by making the central government the sole source of information. The continuing attacks on the media are intended to undermine and eventually destroy the only institution that has the power to mobilize public opinion in opposition to the emerging corruption in the executive branch. Opposition to illegitimate president will be seriously crippled without an independent media. And the idea that social media can fill the void has no merit since social media is easily manipulated and subverted. In fact, this manipulation and corruption of social media was the mechanism that the illegitimate president used to seize power.

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History Repeats Itself

February 15th, 2017 Comments off

The illegitimate president’s complaints about leaks in the White House immediately brought me back to 45 years ago when Nixon made the same complaint. Nixon’s response was to create the “plumbers” covert ops team to fix the leaks. The plumbers were led by by E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy who engaged in various criminal activities including breaking into the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office (looking for dirt to punish Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers). Both Liddy and Hunt were sent to prison for their participation in the break-in of the DNC office in the Watergate complex in 1972.

It is ironic that the illegitimate president took the office using some of the same dirty tricks in the Nixon playbook: the president’s agents broke into DNC records and using the information to disrupt the election, and a coordinated disinformation campaign is conducted against enemies. Now we are seeing that the connection to the Russian agents runs deeper than was originally reported with on-going investigations of the communication between aides of the illegitimate president and Russian government officials. There is likely much more to the story that we do not know.

To repeat the advice of “Deep Throat” (later identified as FBI agent Mark Felt) who leaked information to Washington Post reporters Woodward and Bernstein, we will get the answers to our questions when we “follow the money.” No better place to start than with the tax returns of the illegitimate president.

(edit to correct grammar)

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Welcome to 2017

February 15th, 2017 Comments off

I haven’t posted any comments here for about two years. But it is a new year and the beginning of the reign of the illegitimate president. At times it feels like the bad old days of Nixon, Reagan and Bushes 41 & 43. However, there are so many unprecedented events that this also feels like uncharted territory. I am going to start to post my observations on these political events simply to have an outlet to express my feelings and outrage towards the immoral and undemocratic behavior of the new illegitimate pretender to the presidency.

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Mid-term Elections

November 6th, 2014 Comments off

The mid-term election results are not surprising but they are disappointing. One factor is the low turn-out of eligible voters, which results in the election of people who do not have the support of the majority of the population. Another factor is the enormous amount of spending by “independent” organizations and individuals (i.e., not the candidates nor the political parties). With the Citizens United decision, there are virtually no limits on the spending. Much of the spending is not directly reported since it is not technically a campaign contribution, and the amount spend is only inferred from the advertising revenue from TV stations and similar sources. The campaign spending by third parties switches the message away from policy issues and into negative attacks on the person who is disliked by the third party. These factors make it impossible to infer anything about popular opinion on policies from the election results.

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Welcome to 2014

March 24th, 2014 Comments off

Time to start blogging again. This should be an interesting year with changes in my life and changes in society. The rich are getting richer and the rest of us getting poorer. Mr. Putin is doing a very good impersonation of Hitler annexing neighboring countries to protect people with national affinity for the motherland. And the ongoing internal tension in the U.S. will be reflected in the November elections.

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Frustrating By Technology

August 12th, 2013 Comments off

I am a fan of computer technology: it permits us to create, communicate, and store data in many useful ways. I work hard at keeping up my skills in using various systems and software on many platforms including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android. But sometimes I am frustrated when things don’t work properly.

I am now teaching an on-line class in business law. The on-line classroom is hosted by an older version of Moodle. Unfortunately this software is a disaster in the user interface design and in the lack of documentation. For example, you cannot create and edit an on-line “quiz” from one screen: you have to navigate to the quiz feature from different sources to access certain features. Some options are edited from “update the quiz,” others from “edit the quiz,” and still others from “edit questions.” The details are complicated and uninteresting, but it is a mess.

I created a compatible electronic quiz using the software from the book publisher (which also has severe design flaws). This software allows using prepared questions, my custom modifications of the prepared questions, and my own questions. I created the quiz, saved it in one format, then exported it to another format compatible in Moodle, and then imported it into Moodle. (Even the import feature in Moodle violates all the standards of  UI design — when selecting the import file from the pop-up window, you click the tiny text next to the file that states “choose.” The “Open” button does nothing.)

The quiz imported and everything seems to work correctly except that Moodle would not display the entire quiz when tested in “preview” mode. After spending a considerable amount of time trouble-shooting, it was discovered that one question had missing data and this was causing the system to hang. No error message of course. The problem was fixed by deleting the corrupted questions and entering the data manually. It is unclear whether the test generating software or Moodle was at fault for the data corruption.

The point of the story is that we are often compelled to use systems which are poorly designed and which even the best-prepared user lacks the tools to trouble-shoot. It is frustrating to have to use this technology when there are no tools (or inadequate tools) provided to solve the inevitable problems. My computer skills are above-average. I can only imagine the deep frustration of users who have these experiences but lack my experience in dealing with such issues.

P.S.: After writing this entry and clicking publish, WordPress froze and it has taken about 5 minutes to get back to where I was. Is it WordPress or my crappy hosting service? No way to know. More frustration. At least my data was saved.


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Web Hosting Problems

June 22nd, 2013 Comments off

This domain was unavailable this morning due to technical problems with my hosting service Network Solutions. My business Web site, this blog, and the business e-mail service were all unavailable. I’ve had frequent problems with the e-mail hosting for both the business e-mail and my personal domain. Often the server is unavailable or fails to recognize my log-in.

I called Network Solutions this morning and waited over 15 minutes to speak with some robot in the call center. I explained the problems and she recited the canned spiel about the technicians working on the problem. I nicely explained my dissatisfaction with the service and asked her to relay my dissatisfaction to whomever is responsible for customer service. The response was to put me on hold and after another 5 minutes of listening to distorted music I gave up.

I thought Network Solutions would provide reliable service but that is not the case. Unfortunately I renewed the hosting service for 2 years just a few months ago. I will certainly look for an alternative once I use up the remaining service time.

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Windows 8 – Part 2

June 12th, 2013 Comments off

After using Windows 8 on the desktop for a while, I understand what Microsoft is trying to accomplish: include a convenient smart phone or tablet-style interface to show the commonly-used application while getting away from the desktop metaphor. That seems well and good, except the desktop metaphor works better on a large screen with a keyboard and mouse. I can see all of my commonly-used applications and a whole lot more when my screen is 24 inches instead of 4-10 inches. It is similar to Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”) and 10.8 (“Mountain Lion”) that includes the “Launchpad,” “Dashboard” “Notification Center” features. The difference between recent version of Mac OS X and Windows 8 is that Apple allows the user to turn off the cell phone interface and use the traditional (and much more productive) desktop interface by default. Windows 8 does not offer this option.

Microsoft has recently announced that the first major update to Windows 8 (“8.1”) will include an option to go directly to the desktop, and will offer some sort of alternative to the Start Screen for launching programs “for use with keyboard and mouse.” I’m surprised it took them this long to come around. Exactly how this will be implemented remains to be seen.

The included “Tile” applets like Mail and Calendar all run full screen. Again, this is appropriate a small screen but is ridiculous on a large screen. Why would I want to view my daily calendar full screen at 1920 x 1200? Again, all that is needed is to provide the option to run it in a window. After all, this is “Windows.”

Until Microsoft corrects the one-size-fits-all mentality, I see absolutely no reason whatsoever to prefer Windows 8 over Windows 7 for devices with medium to large screens. For tablets, it is a different story since a Windows “Pro” tablet that can run full version of programs like Word and Acrobat and thus may serve as a lightweight replacement for a larger notebook. And a Windows RT tablet may be an alternative to an iPad or Android tablet. I still prefer a lightweight notebook over a tablet for this application, but it is good to have alternatives.

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