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September 2015
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Pleasant Surprise

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Playing with one of the lil netbooks mentioned in the Playtoys post, I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at how nimble it is with Linux Mint 17.2 Xfce. It’s actually much more responsive than any of the other distros I’ve played with on the thing, so responsive in fact that I might just leave this distro on it for use. Heck, it works so smoothly even without the planned memory upgrade that I’m almost tempted to cancel the memory upgrade for this one. Almost. More memory is almost always better (especially since I found a source for the same memory modules that is less than 2/3 the cost of buying them from the manufacturer–Amazon, of course).

This lil thing is actually useful for more than just web browsing, now. Pretty amazing.

Will the Last One Out. . .

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. . .please turn out the lights?

I got a call from a client this A.M. They’ve sold their house/acreage and businesses and are moving to Panama ~September 15. Giving up on the U.S. and just need a lil “exit work” on their tech. Doomsday Preppers? No, just worn down by “gummint bureaucrappy” created and encouraged by Left AND Right (neither of which is either “progressive/liberal” or “conservative”) and fearing more “quantitative easing” and other “feddle gummint meddlin'” in the economy will wipe out their retirement years.

They are not alone in their fears.

One of the most obvious symptoms: A president is–or has been–mostly just emblematic of the direction of the country, but King Putz’s unconstitutional diktats (and recent diktats spewing from the agencies he rules) have certainly demonstrated a complete lack of respect for the rule of law and expanded–thanks to a supine Congress–the powers of the presidency far, far beyond any level seen before (save, perhaps, for the Lincoln Years). Reversal of the Obama Blight will take decades, and many, MANY down-ticket elections of honorable people (though where those can be found, I can’t say), to reverse. . . if it is possible at all, especially given the propaganda machines of the Mass MEdia Podpeople Hivemind and Academia Nut Fruitcake Bakeries.

For the 2016 presidential race, I could hope for a clear choice between an openly blatant socialist and a genuine conservative, but I’m unsure where we could get one of the latter on the ticket, nowadays. . . Heck, just FINDING one would be a task for Diogenes.

Signs of Subliteracy

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Writers, especially those who self-publish, should always have someone who’s literate proofread the promo copy they write. After all, if the promo copy is well-written, it reflects well on the writer and if it’s not. . . Here’s an example of a writer who didn’t do that.

“Together, they find evidence of alien life, and set off in search of what maybe [sic] their only hope for survival. . . ”

Wrong. “Maybe” is an adverb meaning “possibly.” What the writer in this case either doesn’t know or was too lazy to proofread his own copy for correction (more difficult than it might seem) is that what he was groping for was “may be”–two separate words: “be” and the auxiliary “may”. Errors like this just scream “Subliterate!” when they happen more than once. . . and so it was in this case. *sigh*

Of course, “subliterates” aren’t incurable. The cure simply involves doing the “hard work” (which for a writer should be pure pleasure *heh*) of reading a LOT of well-written text. And, another “of course” *sigh*. . . of course, people who are poorly-read usually have no idea they are, and are all too often resistant to reading well-written books.

I have a prescription for such folks: Edgar Rice Burroughs and P. G. Wodehouse, to start. Neither one have any “message” to convey and both aim “merely” to entertain. Yeh, Burroughs’ books are almost boringly predictable, and Wodehouse’s books all follow the same story arc, and so can be a bit predictable as well, but they do entertain. And while entertaining, they do so with literate writing that is grammatically correct (apart from reproductions of dialect) and replete with words used properly and well. Finding a mistake of usage in one of the books written by either of these writers and it’s likely the fault of a modern transcriptionist (and missing in older versions). There are other writers who could aid in combating a subliterate’s faulty vocabulary and grammar (books by C.K. Chesterton, C.S> Lewis, and even Edith Nesbit spring to mind as easy, enjoyable literate reads), but the contrast between Burroughs and Wodehouse would be a good way to awaken literacy.

After some vocabulary building and exposure to good grammar, the subliterate student could then proceed to works by other literate writers, and thus begin to correct bad habits built from reading poor writing and begin as well to develop a vocabulary that can discriminate between “backseat” and “back seat,” between “maybe” and “may be,” etc.

End. Yeh, the rant goes on, but I’m too tired to give the voices in my head any more cooperation from my fingers. Here, let ERB stand in:

ERB_Letter_n

(Readers of Sci-Fi will recognize the recipient of the letter.)

Playtoys

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Those lil netbooks I fell “heir” to about a week ago? 1/2 of stage 1 parts (new keyboards) in and one as fully repaired as can be, absent the new memory module (coming). Ubuntu Remix (fresh install after wiping the drive) works pretty well. Puppy Linux Lucid 5.(I forget what numbers *heh*) seemed to work better, just off a USB flash drive, but multiple tries installing it to the hard drive borked, so this will be Good Enough (for this lil netbook) for now. *shrugs* It’s sorta like a 10” tablet in landscape mode w/a decent enough keyboard (instead of an onscreen Frustrator *heh*).

Slow as all get-out, though, and the lil thing will only take a max of 2GB (has 1GB installed–completely unusable as the Win7 compy it started life as), but at ~$27 to upgrade to 2GB, that’s a no-brainer.

So, so far I’ve put ~$27 into this lil netbook, what with buying a charger and a new keyboard. Fair enough. Ditto on the other one, but had to get the keyboard from a different (slower) supplier, ‘cos the other is white, and wanted to match it with a white keyboard. The other also has Win7 on it (Ultimate–installed “aftermarket”), so my Wonder Woman says she’ll use it to play Freecell since the version on Win 8.1 is so crappy, and only available via the Metro *cough* Modern tiles. *gag*

Unless we can find folks who don’t need any more than these can do and who also do need a real keyboard, I guess these will just be lil playtoys.

So be it.

“Pursuit of Happiness”

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The expression, “pursuit of happiness,” can mean many things, and it definitely had at least one commonly-accepted meaning at the time Jefferson included the phrase in the Declaration of Independence that is almost unknown today, but I want to consider just one today in light of the following comment by William Penn:

“No people can be truly happy, though under the greatest enjoyments of civil liberties, if abridged of the Freedom of their Conscience as to their Religious Profession and Worship.” — William Penn, Pennsylvania Charter of Liberties, 1701

The First Amendment to the Constitution explicitly denies the “feddle gummint” ANY power to impede the free expression of religion. Nowadays, the feds are all over the place bending over backwards to accommodate those who want to eradicate any religious expression that does not agree with their own agendas from the public arena.

And Christians, of all groups, make it especially easy by having secularized their churches to the extent that they have little to stand on in protest of “feddle gummint” misbehaviors.

Let’s take Penn’s “Religious Profession and Worship” phrase to contrast to today’s churches. “Religious profession,” in Penn’s language, does NOT mean “professional religionists,” as in clergy. No, a “religious profession” is a declaration of one’s religious beliefs–to many, anathema in the public square. . . as long as it is profession of Christian beliefs. Anathema even to some who claim to be Christians. When Christians allow themselves to be cowed into silence about the substantive teachings of the church, they have denied their profession.

And what of worship? *feh* The weak, insipid, false view of worship that pervades churches nowadays is the direct result of churches becoming just another part of secular society, and just as secular as what is found outside the congregation. Confining a highly secularized “worship” to behind a church’s closed doors is simply a denial of worship, since true worship is behavior that pervades all of life.

Sidebar: The late 60s youth song, “Sunday’s Child,” about someone who was holier than thou on Sundays but lived like hell the rest of the week comes to mind, as does Fred Pratt Green’s, When the Church of Jesus.” A snippet:

V.2

If our hearts are lifted
Where devotion soars
High above this hungry
Suffering world of ours:
Lest our hymns should drug us
To forget its needs,
Forge our Christian worship
Into Christian deeds.

Now, what “Church of Jesus” would allow “feddle gummint” bullying or naysayers’ whinnying to keep them from true worship? Those who do forfeit a happiness that it is their right to pursue. . . or eschew, as most do.

Yes, I’ve wandered around a bit and not really defined what this form of happiness is, but unless one is willing to pursue obedience to Christ, describing it will do no good.

Matthew 28:19-20

19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.

Yes, “all nations” (all people) means our own, and everyone we meet, whether they like us for doing so or not. Jesus did not say, “Go ye therefore into all the world and try to make people like you by never offending them.” No, in another place He warned that “the world” would hate those who followed Him. Get over it. The highest happiness, for the Christian, is not found in the approval of others–whether of his fellow Christians or outside the congregation of believers. It is found in trusting obedience (our half of the “fides covenant”).

Religious profession: telling others of your faith. Worship: living a life of trusting obedience to God.

And neither of those are genuine if confined only–or even primarily!–inside “church” walls.

Passing Shot

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One of the sounds I sooooo love to hear is “DID-UNT”. . . I have no idea what it means, but it’s such a melodious sound.

[sarc /off]

Gone. . . and Mostly Forgotten

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A recent article, “A Thoughtless Age,” by David P. Goldman, contemplates what has been lost from our culture.

This paragraph reminded me a bit of extended family gatherings when I was growing up. . . just a bit.

“The last place where literature is read closely by a non-specialist public might be the Orthodox Synagogue, where the Hebrew Bible is examined through the eyes of ancient as well as medieval and modern commentators. It is read not as literature but as family history, and its readers have an existential interest in the result. The Hebrew Bible, to be sure, is not all of literature, but it is the best of it (nothing in Greek or Latin compares to the grandeur of Isaiah). Most of all, it is the continuing concern of a living community which has read it together for thousands of years.”

A bunch of Baptists gathering together, talking family, current events and scripture might not be an Orthodox Synagogue, but it used to be similar. Notsomuch nowadays. . . But real questions about our place in God’s creation were at least on the table, and considered in light of the “great literature” of The Bible, literature that compasses the whole of human experience and as much of divine transcendence as can be contained in the words of men.

“As long as the ambient culture runs from the existential questions brought forth by religion, and as long as the religious public contents itself with the pap of popular culture, we will be shut off from access to the great works of the past.”

No, Not Just Because I Like Writing, “Pork Butt”

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5.5 pounds of pork butt in the slow cooker with onion, garlic, a wee bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. After five hours, a bit “soupy” but smelling great. Give it overnight on a nice, low setting so it can be pulled tomorrow and then put back to soak on low heat in BBQ sauce.

Beans are soaking separately. They’ll cook up nicely to go with the pork for tomorrow evening’s meal. Cornbread? Sure, why not that, too? Now, for greens. . .

Mock Material

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Not feeling like streaming stuff. . . watching a syndicated re-run of Blue Bloods. Commercial on. Guy says “anabotics” when he means “antibiotics”. Eminently mockable. Would love to mock him in person. Because fun.

Déjà vu All Over Again

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The problem with reading fiction is that there is a limited number of plots, and I’ve read them all many, many times, in so many combinations and permutations that I invariably think, “Déjà vu all over again,” when reading a novel. Characters, descriptive narrative, and minute plot variations are the interest points I read fiction for anymore. Well, that and a writer’s deftness (or lack thereof) with a story arc, etc. *shrugs* There’s enough left to feed the addiction. Re-reading exceptionally well-written fiction is quite often much more interesting than most new material available.

Non-fiction? Different criteria in many ways.