Minding the Dark

Thank the Divine

Holiday infatuation— first chick who truly digs colonial numismatics and she wisps away like a county fair act. Before the New Year’s touching-of-lips of course. At least not as bad as the one last year who left the party exactly eighteen minutes before midnight to “telephone friends.”

So was more than ready to warm a January weekend in the company of a newbie via a kinky networking site (four guys for every woman, and half those women are looking for other women— don’t be a guy :). Only trouble is, this one cancels with a toothache. Oh well she has a Chihuahua.

Tonight back from VMax’s TV mystery marathon ready to down tequila from NYE party while reliving Woody Allen’s Manhattan. (First saw it when it opened downtown at one of the theaters before they passed— what a night that screening! Didn’t have a date but envied the guys who did. How do you find women who dig Woody, much less any as gorgeous as those?)

Every gal met these days says she hates Woody, yet it wasn’t much better before the thing with Mia’s adoptee. It’s like all the women were just looking for an excuse to hate Allen guilt-free when the latter conveniently descends. Woody kicks but improves with a sweetie to cuddle and giggle with and no, another guy doesn’t do it. Not for me anyway.

Picasso supposedly treated women like you-know-what yet no one says they can’t look at or appreciate Guernica because of his personal life. Ask Bill or Hillory. If only we could all be gay. Yet my half-uncle was gay and hung himself (that was long before our current National-Republicanist administration, the fighting of which might just have saved him).

Sigh. At least he did it in a movie studio.

Thank the unitheist divine for friends like Wes and Charlie, who are rearing three young kids, invite me over without heat or hot water on a Saturday night, split a jug of bourbon likely purchased on credit, kick up snacks better than most evening meals, and still manage to get a riff track started at two in the morning. Raiders no less.
Double Impeach!

There’s been talk of impeaching the President. Rather let’s impeach the President and Vice-President together, their removal to take effect upon the inauguration of a new elected administration in January of 2009, affirming the action as entirely a statement of principle, not a power play. The high crimes charged would be war-related.

As a nation we’re in a bit of a bind. Traditionally we’ve been on the side of morality— not attacking others unless we’re attacked, going to war only against nations that have attacked, invaded, or conquered other nations.

Under the current administration though we ourselves have become the bad guys. The current President’s father attacked Iraq only after they invaded Kuwait, repelling the occupiers and following U.N. mandate. While in the course of this we invaded Iraq, we did not conquer. Rather we preventing them from conquest and then withdrew.

Under the son all that is reversed.

The initiative in Afghanistan was justifiable because of the al-Qaeda 9/11 attack on us. But did it justify the conquest of the entire nation? We’ll leave that to historians to decide. It may or may not have been a mistake in judgement, but at worst it was an honest mistake, probably not an impeachable offense.

Iraq is an entirely different issue. The leadership there had nothing to do with 9/11, and though totalitarian and ruthless (like how many other governments in the world) was not a real threat to us. By then we had control of their airspace and were capable of easily repelling any attempted aggression on their part.

Our unmitigated attack on Iraq destroyed much of the country, the ensuing war resulting directly or indirectly in the deaths of half a million to a million people, military and civilian. Besides the enormous physical damage, a large percentage of the population fled, and infrastructure worsened.

Our atrocities (bombing, invasion, and torture) have had profound and long-term effects, and have been a propaganda boom for al-Qaeda and the Taliban, which have as a result recruited and expanded multifold. Our policies, rather than increasing national security, have greatly weakened it, at the additional cost of up to around a trillion dollars.

Double impeachment would serve as a statement of repudiation to the world, and accelerate the process of rebuilding our reputation as a nation of liberty and peace.
Dump Your Lover

When it’s time to end a relationship it can be harder to be the dumper than the dumpee. Having to do the dumping sets you up as the rejector, and it’s easy to feel guilty knowing how hard rejection can be. Therefore neither party dumps the other. Bad relationships continue unnecessarily, to the detriment of all concerned.

Yet this need not be. A successful dump, if embarked upon correctly, can be a wondrous, freeing gift. The key is to yes, do it for yourself, but more so for the benefit of your partner, releasing you both to find more suitable lovers. The operative methodology can be summed up in two words— sensitivity and tact. Here are some possible strategies:

1. I’m wrong for you. You aren’t wrong for me, I’m wrong for you. We aren’t sexually compatible, esp. good if let’s say she’s your standard nympho and you’re a tad on the kinky side— e.g. your bedroom looks like the Tower of London. Or if she’s in her twenties and gorgeous while you’re white-haired, toothless, and foxed as a Book of Hours.

2. We’re like vinegar and baking soda (kids used to mix them for fuel for rockets). Let her be the vinegar, the coolest of the two— baking soda is a boring white powder. If you lead her to believe she’s the particulated one she’ll think you’re equating her with Lot’s wife, and it’s as much a mistake to mix scripture and dumping as it is salt and soda.

3. It can’t last, so better to end it now. Let’s say the sex is the best you’ve ever had, yet in all other respects you find her excruciating. Even if she calls you the next Einstein and kowtows in your presence, insist that you must therefore be extremely boring to her and that you should end it, even if it forces you into marrying an overseas bride.

4. You’re so beautiful I can’t think, therefore I can’t finish my novel. The novel you are trying to write might be within the context of a fantasy role-playing game, but that’s not the point. If she counters by promising henceforth to be more muse than siren, you can decline on grounds of safety by saying that your smoke detector batteries are dead.

5. The new direction. You know what the least favorite activity of your partner is— tell her that you’ve decided to seriously take that up, so you want to spare her. If for example she hates disco, turn the largest room of your house into a dance floor, complete with sound and lighting. Then invite cute college-age girls over to try it out.

6. The monk. Announce that you’ve decided to get serious about your spirituality and you want her to join in your quest. Ask her to financially support you while you take up chanting, meditation, and gardening. Promise her that the first thing you will pray for is that she will get longer hours at work so the two of you can still make ends meet.

7. The artist. A variant of the monk only a lot more fun. Insist that she start looking for a better job, both for her fulfillment and so that you can quit yours entirely in order to devote more of your own time to becoming a famous musician, actor, painter, etc. Tell her she can still cook for you, tune your guitar, or clean your brushes.
Charge Spammers

The right to free speech is top on the list. That’s the justification the spammers use though.

Let’s say okay, everyone can spam— it’s our right under the First Amendment. Anyone who wants to has the right to send a million emails a day to a million people. Technologically they could send a billion a day, but for the sake of argument millions are easier numbers to work with than billions :)

Nearly everyone has a Myspace page or website to tell people about. They could each tell a million people a day about one of their pages, creative efforts, or ideas, then tomorrow maybe another million people about another one of their ideas.

They can hear what the sender has to say and then take it or leave it— entirely their choice, based on how well he or she makes his or her case. What is wrong with that? It sounds like the American Way to me, the American Way of freedom of speech. They can listen and then judge for themselves, right?

There is a problem— a really big problem. What about the million emails a day that are coming in to everyone’s inbox? If everyone who wants to can send out a million emails, all those emails have to go somewhere— everyone will get an average of a million emails a day.

Okay you say cool— a million emails a day gives everyone a lot of choice, right? A lot of choice about what to believe, what to buy, what website to visit, etc.

You can process about one email a second at most. That’s 3,600 an hour or 28,800 every eight hours— not nearly enough to get through the million, working full time just on email. Even if your spam filter eliminates 95%, you won’t make it through the remaining 50,000, and who has time anyway to work full time on taking care of spam?

Like crying fire in a crowded theater, information technology will and must redefine the right of free speech. You have the right to say all you want on any street corner, but everyone also has the right to avoid that street corner if they so choose.

People can send as much junk regular mail as they like, right? That though is limited in volume by cost, whereas the cost of email is close to negligible. If the cost of mass emails were even a penny each the problem would be reduced, especially if the recipient could collect even half of that (roughly $16.00 an hour, or hired out) for his trouble.

Let’s figure a way to charge spammers, just as those who send mass mailings through the regular postal system have to bear the cost— and thus the risk— of their endeavors.

A charge of one cent per email over the first hundred or so a day (except maybe to opt-ins and non-profits) wouldn’t be unreasonable, and would keep email free to everyone else. The income so derived could be applied to keeping the internet free to all.
Form Spam Problem

Used to be when you visited someone’s website you routinely signed a guestbook. There you could also read comments others had posted. This seems to be dwindling in popularity, though many sites— including this one— still sport them.

Perhaps the major reason for this decline is the proliferation of form spam, churned out by mostly overseas servers. These contain links not intended to be clicked on by people reading the guestbook, or even by the guestbook owner, but rather to be interpreted by search engines as non-reciprocal links, increasing their ratings.

While there are different schemes to combat this, many webmasters simply close their guestbooks in frustration at the sometimes hundreds-a-day generated messages rolling in. At this website the email client is set with a rule to waylay them with hotlinks, which gets most and which is why people are asked not to use hotlinks in their responses.

Other possible solutions include asking respondents to submit to a Turing test to determine if they are human or machine, but why should they be inconvenienced for a problem that is not of their cause.

Seems there ought to be a fix via the search engines— those folks should be smart enough to design spiders capable of recognizing (and then ignoring or penalizing) spammed guestbooks. That should at least help if not greatly reduce the problem.

Here the internet has been down a few months, resulting in the recent remote-dumping of all accumulated email, including more than 20,000 form spams (more even than my regular spam, bad as that is), and the processing of it by hand. This has consumed many tedious hours.

Time is precious. It is all we have. Multiply these lost hours by millions and the equivalent of numerous entire lifetimes are stolen, via a relatively few evildoers.
Working Recession

A recession used to be defined by a certain level of unemployment, and a depression by a still higher level of unemployment. But there can be such things as a working recession or working depression, and currently we are at least in the first and fast moving toward the second.

If for example a person has to work 40 hours a week to attain the same standard of living previously attained at only 20 hours, it is same as if that person was 50% unemployed. For simply to work 80 hours instead of 40 to make the same amount likewise degrades standard of living— less autonomy, free time, time with family, etc.

There are two great forces currently at work forcing us from working recession to working depression. The first is the movement of workers from average-paying factory jobs with benefits into low-paying retail and service duties often with few if any benefits. The second is what might be called poorflation.

This occurs when the cost of necessities increases at a higher rate than those of luxuries, which might even be deflating. Thus inflation as a whole might not seem excessive because of the averaging together of necessities such as food, fuel, electricity, and health care with luxuries such as recreational vehicles, electronics, and designer clothes.

Workers at the lower end of the economic scale are caught between much lower income and much higher expenses, resulting in the housing crisis, lower consumer spending, credit crunch, etc. This is exacerbated further by the declining value of the dollar brought about by deficit government spending and even more by the trade imbalance.

It is time for real change, not just lip service. This can begin with the election of Barack Obama and a Democratic majority, followed by substantial bottom-up help for those of low and middle income. So while the idea of fireside chats in high-def has almost a surreal appeal, need for these can thereby be avoided.
Panic of ‘08

Financial panics were relatively common in the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Century. In at least one case J. P. Morgan himself cobbled together a rescue program. The present situation seems beyond the capabilities of a single individual or even a single corporation, though Morgan-Chase did pitch in and buy up the ailing Washington Mutual.

Today’s failure of the compromise bail-out package in the House came as a surprise, having been quite an improvement over the original plan. Positive contributions were made by leaders of both parties— Democrats insisted on salary caps for the execs of the troubled companies; Republicans added safeguards to help protect the taxpayers’ investment.

Not long ago President Bush tried to assure everyone by saying that the fundamentals of the economy were strong. Guess he was thinking about productivity. Problem was that two other fundamentals, the national deficit and the trade deficit, were tanking.

The government as a whole had been doing what individuals know not to do, continually spend more than is coming in. Some deficit spending can get money in the system and stimulate growth, but this has been done so long now that any benefits are more than offset by the effects of massive debt and the interest it carries, as well as the weakened dollar.

Then there is poorflation— disproportionate inflation for the low end of the economic scale, where a greater proportion of income is required for energy, food, health care, and debt service— things that are going up much faster than wages. Until this is relieved foreclosures will continue despite credit relief, at least at the low to moderate levels.

Representatives need to get back to work and pass some kind of support measure, if nothing else to kick the markets out of free-fall. For sure the regulatory structure needs overhaul to help mitigate encore performances. We like our economy free, but even football has detailed rules and referees to enforce them.
Heather Ryan on KET

Last night Heather Ryan, Democratic candidate for the First District of Congress, appeared on KET to debate her Republican opponent, incumbent Ed Whitfield, who declined the invitation, submitting a short prepared statement instead.

Via digital receiver the audio for the entire program was weak and of poor quality. Despite this technical problem and Heather’s relative lack of experience campaigning and debating, she came off as enthusiastic and upbeat about the future of the nation and her ability to represent Western Kentucky and make a difference in Congress.

Other than her stance on a couple issues, such as refusal to consider some form of nuclear energy (which even Barack Obama does not rule out) if needed in addition to solar, wind, etc. for national self-sufficiency, her program— especially for improved health care— is forward-thinking and a better choice in this difficult period.

Whitfield’s statement included a list of accomplishments, a surprisingly modest set considering the length of time served. In fairness the audio was poor on his portion as well.

Heather is considered a long shot against an entrenched incumbent. Yet it is interesting what KET filled the rest of the hour with— a Revolutionary War documentary about Washington at Trenton and Princeton, ten of the most important days in world history.

It was perhaps the lowest point in the Revolutionary effort. Washington was down to 10% of his army, about 3,000 men, and even he doubted his own ability to succeed. In other words he had no better chance than Heather has of winning. Yet she can take some heart in that when we look out our windows we see American not British flags.
Real Choice in ‘08

The candidacy of Barack Obama offers a chance for intrinsic change, not that any redirection from the current administration wouldn’t be welcome. Obama has plans for universal medical insurance starting with children, bottom to top economic relief, and an end to all but the most necessary war, operating with— not in spite of— the world.

All taxes and government spending are a redistribution of wealth. It’s not a question of whether or not we are redistributing wealth but how fair the taxes and redistributions are. When the rich are given breaks there are some trickle-down benefits for the rest, but more efficient to start with the rest and let some of it trickle up.

Some say they are worried about a legislative and executive branch in the hands of a single party, that our country was built on the principle of checks and balances, yet those same people then complain that government is inherently ineffective and that change is impossible. There is another check, the ballot box— the election after this one.

Based on the signs at his rallies, McCain’s slogan is “Country First.” In these dangerous times shouldn’t it be “World First.” Just as in antebellum days it was state first, after which we progressed to country, it’s time now to further expand our concept of the human community and advance to world. Obama is the man with that kind of vision.

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