Is expectation of men’s solidarity misplaced in light of Trump sex tape?

I don’t believe I have any women friends (or any other friends, for that matter) who are Trump supporters. So I don’t believe this jab is directed at anyone I know.

That being said… isn’t it awfully myopic, selfish and xenophobic for a good number of women to say that now, finally, with the discovery of “the Trump tape,” a line has been drawn in the sand and Trump has stepped over it? To say that “it’s a sign of how under-appreciated we [women] are?”

Don’t you think it was true that earlier statements were signs of “how under-appreciated Mexicans are,” or “how under-appreciated Muslims are,” or “how under-appreciated [insert name of any number of groups Trump has slammed publicly] are?”

Were you not willing to stand behind Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled, or others in solidarity because you are not a member of any of those groups? Why now all of a sudden do you expect men to stand behind women in solidarity? They are not members of that group either.

I know that Republicans especially like to talk about the Bible. But they sure like to pick and choose. We could go to Matthew 25:45 for the very lesson that pertains here:

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for Me.”

Anyone who is only now deciding to abandon Trump or – perhaps worse – remains undecided, has to ask themselves what they truly do believe in. Because it surely does not appear to be “love of neighbor,” or “basic human goodness” that they believe in. It must be something else entirely.

This article is in part in response to:
“You deserve every charge of sexism thrown at you”: a conservative activist quits GOP after Trump tape [from vox.com]

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Dallas police attack is the deadliest attack on U.S. law enforcement since …

The Dallas police attack has been alternately called “the deadliest attack on law enforcement since 9/11” and “the deadliest attack FOR law enforcement since 9/11.”

By “for,” what they mean is that among all of those who were killed, the community of law enforcement also suffered its greatest loss.

However, the 9/11 attack itself, of course, did not target the 72 law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the attack along with hundreds of other people.

The previous largest attack ON law enforcement – which I think is far more relevant to discuss – was the attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, an attack in which federal law enforcement officers from specific agencies were specifically targeted.

Bringing 9/11 into the discussion only serves to link Dallas to another image of shock and awe. It demonstrates careless reporting, as it does nothing to further the understanding of the current event. It is regrettable that it – 9/11 – was chosen as the reference point, rather than the OK City bombing, which shared a motivation similar to the Dallas attack.

Breakfast. Mornings with my father.

Bowl of cereal
Breakfast. Mornings with my father.

[This article was written while on a spiritual retreat at Holy Cross Monastery, in West Park, New York. It’s an exceedingly lovely environment in which to re-find one’s self. I highly recommend it to any of a spiritual bent.]

Here, at the monastery, breakfast falls under the swath of the Great Silence, which began at 8:30 the previous evening and extends until 8:30 each morning. Breakfast is to be eaten silently; no talking, making as little noise as possible. It’s amusing to watch people trying to crack a hard-boiled egg silently. To eat a bowl of granola, silently. To chew, silently. But still, we’re conscious, and we try, and that’s the significant part.

But I never appreciated breakfast with my father, when I was a boy, as much as I did this morning. On the mornings that breakfast was a bowl of cereal, coffee, toast – as it was most weekday mornings – he would not put milk on his cereal until everyone else had pretty much finished reaching for this and reaching for that. When the coast was clear, he would move the milk carton close to his cereal bowl, move the sugar bowl close as well, pause for just a second, and then apply the two to his cereal and begin eating.

The cereal was never swimming in milk. Just enough to give it some fluidity and – and this is most important – a bit of cohesiveness. As my father ate his cereal, you could see a line maintained across the width of the bowl, as the spoon made its methodical advance. And he did this “silently.” Not silently in a way that would call attention to itself, not even like the Great Silence of this place. But silently in a way that you wouldn’t even notice, until reflecting on it some 50 years later.

Today, when I am out walking the dog, and it’s time to clean up after her leavings, I pride myself on being the best poop-picker I know. It doesn’t matter whether it was a particularly good one, or less so… my goal, nearly always realized, is to leave no trace. Obviously sometimes this is not possible. But I think about it. I have a method, which I use; it brings good results, and makes me proud to be a responsible steward.

I am the best poop-picker I know. I know where I got it from.

My father was the best cereal-eater I know. I wonder where he got it from?

The sad truth about drone warfare

Predator droneI’d like to comment on one aspect of an article that appeared recently in The Independent. To do that, I’ll start with a telling quote regarding the use of drones: “They’re the worst form of warfare in the history of the world, except for all the others.

The article in question is a guest editorial in The Independent, by Malik Jalal, titled, “I’m on the Kill List. This is what it feels like to be hunted by drones.

I am not a militarist, as a general rule. And I’m not particularly fond of things flying overhead that can drop bombs or fire missiles at those on the ground. Hell, I don’t even like traffic copters hovering overhead.

Regarding drones, though… their opponents often adamantly decry drone warfare for the fact that for every viable target, 9 or 10 more people invariably end up being killed as well. But they’re not so adept at stating what the military alternative is. I’m not talking about what the political alternative might have been. We’re past that. I’m saying, if the decision is made that some kind of brute force method must be applied to a particular situation, what’s it gonna be?
Agreed, taking out 10 people for every viable target really sucks. But consider traditional warfare. How many people did the U.S. (and most of the Western World) want to “take out” in WWII? One: Adolf Hitler.

That’s not completely fair, because there were probably 10 top targets who needed to be eliminated in order to arrest Germany’s actions. Himmler, Eichmann, Goebbels, etc.

The overall losses of human life in WWII – the costliest ever – were around 75 million. Estimates vary. Military deaths alone were estimated at about 25 million. Non-military, civilian deaths due to direct military action and “crimes against humanity” were approximately 30 million.

Focusing on the latter number, not even taking into account the staggering number of people who lost their lives due to famine and disease during the war – just the 30 million innocents killed as a direct result of the war – means that the cost was 3 million “bystanders” for each one of those “top 10” targeted leaders of the Nazi regime.

The simple and unpleasant truth is, the ratio of collateral deaths and injuries per strike in drone warfare is several orders of magnitude less than in traditional warfare. Until there is a way to either make warfare disappear, or to make the available strategies even more precise than they already are, we’re going to continue to see drones used to launch campaigns against hostile targets.

Any unnecessary loss of life is tragic. But drones kill far fewer people than other methods currently known and used.

QuickBooks for Mac – Let the buyer beware!

Caveat Emptor

Here’s the latest on QuickBooks for Mac (my version is 2013, which I have not updated in light of other peoples’ reviews indicating no net gain in doing so).

My main company file has gotten rather large over the years. For this reason, the automated backup of my company file no longer runs successfully to completion. So I decided to split off the “historical” transactions from, say, pre-2014, into a separate file, and just keep everything in the current file from 2014 onward.

Well.

QuickBooks has a feature to Condense Data. “This operation reduces the size of your company file by summarizing transactions dated on or before a specific date. After transactions are summarized, there may be list items that are no longer used (e.g. vendor names, employee names, etc.). quickbooks can remove some or all of these list items for you.”

Great. Sounds like exactly what I need! Let’s set it up, use the date 12/31/2013, and run it.

What’s the very first thing it tells me when I hit the “go” button?

“Before condensing the data file a backup must be made.”

I would say this message pretty thoroughly summarizes the joy of using this product. I’m being unfair, you think? I have 29 other documented “significant issues” with this software that I could mention, as I have brought to Intuit’s attention, with no resolution offered whatsoever.

Caveat emptor. Let the buyer beware!

Apple’s battery case is a case in point.

This article is a comment on a recent Slate article published by Mr. Will Oremus, “Bad Apple – The company’s ugly, underpowered new iPhone battery case is a sign of trouble in Cupertino.

In the concluding paragraph, I’m not sure where Mr. Oremus gets his info that “What Apple used to understand is that you can’t have it both ways. You can build one legendary product, or a wide range of mostly pretty good ones.” Did that come from his own experience? Or did someone tell him? Because if he were deeply experienced with Apple products I don’t think he would have quite that perspective.

Here are two thoughts to consider:

1. Apple has a long and deep history of creating and/or marketing products that “wet the whistle.” Products such as ClarisWorks (which they purchased because it satisfied this philosophy, and later rebranded as AppleWorks), iWork (featuring Numbers, Pages and Keynote), Calendar, Mail, Contacts, etc. There are more of these than you can shake a stick at. All of these products were designed to offer great, intuitive functionality, but by no means were any striving to be full-featured and robust applications in their respective product areas. Apple learned early on that they needed the buzz and interaction of the developer community working hand in hand with them, in order to survive and, later, to thrive in the marketplace. There were numerous occasions in which they overstepped their bounds and released products that “went too far,” pissing off the developer or ancillary product community, and they took the lesson to heart and backed away. Apple printers were one such product.

That was mostly the Apple of old. That was the company that knew how to make legendary products, but well understood that even legendary products could not survive in a vacuum, that they needed the symbiotic relationships with other key players (Microsoft, HP, Intel, Adobe) in order to retain their relevance. I would never think to blame Apple for its decision to leave fruit on the vine for other developers – sometimes even low-hanging fruit. This, in my view, was entirely intentional.

Which brings us to…

2. The world is different after the release of the iPhone than it was before the iPhone. First and foremost, what happened when the iPhone was released was that Apple became a phone provider. That’s obvious. But what’s not so immediately obvious is that that world does not tolerate – or foster – the guarded, heavily engineered, quality-first approach to design and development that had led Apple for so long. It changed almost overnight. In order for Apple to play on this new field, it had to play by the new rules. Those rules were perhaps best spelled out by Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, in what to me is one of the most destructive statements ever fostered by a for-some-reason respected business leader:

“If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.”

This single statement best epitomizes the new world that Apple had gotten itself into, and it forever and perhaps irreversibly forced them to lower their standards in order to stay in the game. It had to be a wrenching change for Apple to make, and in particular for Steve Jobs to make. He knew, I’m sure, the path he was being led down, and probably did not see a way out of it. It had become an inescapable truth that “the public” was now his customer, and that customer had long been accustomed to buying a book for its cover, and were all too willing to judge on promise more than on delivery. If the product didn’t deliver, you could conduct surveys and post apologies on social media and use crowd sourcing to determine the hot buttons you needed to address in the next release of the product.

None of this is the way Apple used to do things, and the change came about due to factors external to Apple. Apple is very big, but the world is bigger. As people become more and more intellectually lazy (which argument has been made by others better than I could try to make it here), they see less and less the pathways that result from the choices they make today. There’s always this underlying expectation that it almost doesn’t matter what we put out right now, which path we take today; it can always be fixed tomorrow. This seems true whether we’re talking about smart phones, computers, or political candidates.

To the old guard which I represent, it’s a hard turn to take. To those of us who grew up trying to get things right before putting them out there, this notion of throwing everything at the wall and seeing if it sticks is anathema.

From Big Business to Washington and Back Again, and No One Cares

“The health insurance industry alone has six lobbyists for every member of congress, over 500 of which are former congressional staffers.”
[Bill Moyers, from the linked video at the end of this article.]

We no longer live in a democracy. Even if you voted Democratic.

This revolving-door between Washington and big business, particularly Big Pharma and the Defense Industry, exemplifies and promotes an utter corruption of everything we worked so hard to build in this country.

As Glenn Greenwald puts it: “Few people embody the corporatist revolving door greasing Washington as purely as Elizabeth Fowler.”

This just happened. But we’ve been here before.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/dec/05/obamacare-fowler-lobbyist-industry1

I think we’re looking at three possible directions for us, as citizens, from here. One, elect Bernie Sanders, and DO NOT GO TO SLEEP, BUT REMAIN ACTIVE AND VIGILANT. He (as well as others, most notably Robert Reich) has been shouting this from the rooftops throughout the entire campaign. Our work is not done when we elect our candidate. That’s when it begins.

Two, elect Rand Paul or his crazier (and smarter, I think) father Ron Paul, whose ideas could be extrapolated to dismantling some key aspects of the Federal government, giving power back to the States. And then moving to or working in or with those states that best meet your criteria for how you want to live, and not worry about the fact that the country is splintering into smaller, regionalized units. This would be a long and probably wrenching process, but could happen, and could redefine the structure of the entire U.S. (It may be too late for this; he is now out of the race.)

Third, keep going where we’re going, which will allow the already percolating forces of revolution start to take deeper root. We always look at other countries and wonder why they can’t keep it together like we do. We may well be singing our own swan’s song right now. This option will not be pretty, but would turn out to have been a pretty predictable outcome, when looked at after the fact if we elect, say, a Republican president, or possibly even Clinton.

If you hear people – or yourself – speaking of the widespread havoc 2-3 years from now with words like, “I didn’t think ~that~ would happen,” remember this.

The real truth is: you just didn’t think.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=hZ5tj4cN9Jk

(Edited: an earlier version inadvertently had the Ron and Rand Paul names reversed, and also suggested that both Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders were out of the race.)