November 26th, 2014


One Hour

Driving home on Monday, listening to NPR's All Things Considered from 4:30 to 5:30, I was struck by the following chain of stories:

-- The Bill Cosby Serial Rapist story.

-- The billion dollar art collection involving art stolen by Nazis.

-- The UVA Serial Gang Rape Greek Suspension lifestyle story. ***

-- Worry about the pending Ferguson MO grand jury decision.

-- The epidemic of credit card security breaches at big stores... And small.

-- Net neutrality.

-- Rejection of Yet Another report saying Benghazi -- there's no story there.

-- Wailing about the President's use of Executive Orders to deal with something that the very complainers have refused to do anything about.

-- Seven feet of melting snow in Buffalo could cause flooding.

Other than the last, they are all news stories about people behaving badly, from mere temper tantrums by adults who should know better to full blown depraved horror of one person against another. In this way, it becomes news.

This is not to say it isn't news or that these issues should be swept under the carpet, but rather all these things have persistence. They happen over and over. They stay in the spotlight for decades. The perpetrators act like they've done nothing wrong and that you should be ashamed of yourselves for even be bringing this up. It was different times. I went with the flow. You weren't there. You don't know what it was like.

If it bleeds, it leads. Are you scared enough yet. And for that last one, NPR isn't even the first word in fear mongering.

To me, it is so bizarre to think there's another side.

That after an hour of this I can shut it off and take a nap, eat dinner, grade papers and not dwell on it. Insensitive? Overload burn out? White male American middle class privilege? First World perspective? Unwilling to break the obligations of work that pay the bills?

Yeah, a bit of all those, too.

There is a frustration, too, regarding the complexity of all these issues. What really happened? Who did what to whom? How did they get away with it?

How were the waters muddied?

One of the reasons, in my opinion, that we will never get to the bottom of something like the John Kennedy assassination is that there is too much information. Snowed under. A normal investigation involves just a couple of people, pursuing leads and following the evidence. In these stories there is not just one investigator. In some cases, the resulting chaos is manufactured.

We will thoroughly review all the facts. We will never know the truth. We must hold these parts of the justice and investigative system behind closed doors. Why won't you believe me. Why won't you admit it. Why won't this just go away and leave me alone.

We live in the world, not a vacuum. You think it can't happen to you. It doesn't happen in your neighborhood. Why can't we have nice things.

People were hauled off for being Jewish. People are stopped for walking or driving while black. Neither the internet nor your street are as safe as you think. Protests and celebrations can be coopted by people who are there just to bring matches and guns and violence. You are likely afraid of the wrong things.

Yesterday I learned that a student of mine was suffering because their family is on the run from their home because of ISIS. A brother is missing. There is no communication. The government does nothing -- it may even be complicit. The student can't even run home and try to help because of visa restrictions.

How does one deal with that? What do you tell the student?

I did the best I could. Maybe, in some small way, I helped.

But it wasn't a win. There's no winning here.

Just the overflow of people behaving badly. And getting away with it.

And the evening of the first day and the dawn of the next.

Dr. Phil

*** Added to original post -- there were a lot of stories in that hour.

Compute Modes

There are times I cannot figure out computers -- and I am a computer professional! Of course, maybe I should amend that. It's consumer computers that are the problem. Real computers are much more functional and straightforward, though still run by companies who have scurvy for brains.

For example... I've been using Norton Anti-Virus for a long time. Basically since the Windows 95 era began for us in the fall of 1996. For the previous ten years, I'd been using dial-up connections to specific email systems and BBS bulletin board systems like OPUS -- didn't really need anti-virus in those early 4.77 MHz halcyon days of The IBM Personal Computer. Somewhere along the line Peter Norton evaporated and the thing came under the Symantec umbrella. Is NAV the best anti-virus out there? Debatable, but it usually gets top choice ratings from PC Mag, etc. And I am used to how it works, within the variations from year to year.

So I'm coming up on the end of the current subscription -- a 3-user NAV 2014 download -- 22 days left. Apparently for 2014 there were nine different NAV product lines. For 2015? There are two. Norton Security and Norton Security with Backup. Found this out because I had an email from about a special deal through the end of the month. The $79.99 Norton Security download for $19.99. It's supposed to cover "a family's worth of computers", but what exactly does that mean? From a PC Mag review, it seems that Norton Security covers five machines -- any combination of PC, Mac or Android. Okay... I've got NAV 2014 running on SUMMER (the tiny Win XP SP2 Fujitsu UMPC), ZEPPELIN (Wendy's Toshiba Win 7 SP1 laptop). Right now, two work related machines I own, LARA (HP Win XP SP3 netbook) and KATNISS (Asus Win 7 SP1 netbook), are running the University's Symantec Protection, which is similar to NAV. There's a side issue with the ZoneAlarm firewall I usually run -- it no longer updates in Win XP -- and Norton Security runs its own firewall, rather than depend on Microsoft Kick-Me patented architecture.

My other other work machine, OUEST, runs the Symantec Protection as well, but it's owned by the College of Arts & Sciences and I'll be damned if I'm putting a dime into protecting their machine.

Amazon and Symantec are making Norton Security available for cheap? Sure. I'll bite. I have three weeks to get this done... just about the time I'm finishing turning in grades. Actually I'll probably do ZEPPELIN Real Soon Now, but put off SUMMER for a bit in case the installation screws something up.

What? I don't trust companies I've bought products from for nearly thirty years? You bet! There was that time that NAV found a fault on WINTER, my previous office machine, and told me to run this hammer-and-tongs download program to clean things up. Turned out that what it wanted to do was delete all of my pre-Windows XP software that I depend on, like Office 95 Professional and Ulead PhotoImpact. Eventually I figured out that if I just copied the deleted files from SUMMER to WINTER, it would work and it did.

Or Windows XP Service Pack 3, which screwed up my printer drivers so that Office 95 wouldn't print to a printer (and in fact crashed when you tried to print) on KATSUMI. I either had to print to a PDF on another machine and then print out of Adobe Acrobat, or edit in Word/Excel 95 and then print in Office 2003... Yes, an update to a Microsoft operating system fucked up my installation of a Microsoft product. Or it was a deliberate attack against their old code.

Then there's my Happy songs playlist on Amazon Music, now up to 56 songs and 4.2 hours of playtime. I run that on my Kindle Fire HDs at home and work, and also ZEPPELIN, LARA and OUEST. Now LARA only has a 16GB SSD solid state HDD, so I run the music off of Amazon's servers -- no problem especially with the 100/1000 Mbps RJ-45 network connection. I recently started using my Sony closed cell headphones with ZEPPELIN, so I wanted to download the Amazon Music software, which worked fine on OUEST, another Windows 7 machine.

Alas, for some reason, the webpage for my Amazon Music never displayed the Download program option. Until just about an hour ago. And now the program is running just fine.

Except it downloaded only 14 of the 56 songs to ZEPPELIN and then stopped. Go figure...

I love computers.

Dr. Phil
  • Current Music
    Take on Me -- A-Ha

Progress Report #83

Whew. Made it to Thanksgiving Eve. Under a month til Christmas, only one more week of classes til Finals. Then Grade-a-thon. Actually Grade-a-thon begins early this year. Because I don't have a grader for my big class, I will start grading my 155 or so Topic 1 Science Literacy book reports this weekend. The last bag was brought in this afternoon by Mrs. Dr. Phil. It was heavy enough I didn't want to try to carry it on the cane along with the black bag.

We are winding down on the six months of antibiotics after June's hospitalization. I already have three doctor's appointments lined up for the end of Finals Week -- foot surgeon, Infectious Diseases, Wound Clinic. Grades are due at noon on 16 December, so then I have eye doctor and my G.P. on the 17th and 18th. Dentist, which got skipped when I was hospitalized or just out, now will be in January. And Friday I get my ankle measured.

Last Friday I stopped by the Spectrum Orthotics people. My AFO ankle foot orthotic brace which allows me to walk, with canes or walker, has been shifting lately. Feels like it's popping. Turns out the hinges are shot. They told me it would last about a year. Got it in August 2013 to address the foot drop caused by the second bout of compressed nerves, so fifteen months of service ain't bad.

They better let me keep my foot, because it'll save the insurance company some money! (grin)

I continue to feel fine, for those parts I can feel. The two "exit wounds" from the missing pieces of hydraferra blue are healing, the side callousy area is improving. The Original Divot™ on the bottom of my foot... is healing slowly. No obvious signs of infection. The daily bandage changes are clean enough that on the weekends -- like today (holiday-grin) -- we're going to 1½ and 2 day dressings.

We are seriously considering not teaching this winter, to let the foot heal better. And should they want to operate, less disruptive to the students.

We continue anon apace.

Dr. Phil