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April 2015
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Where Angels Fear to Tread

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A recent FarceBook discussion included this comment from an acquaintance:

In the world of Leninist-style Socialism, the “secret police” would abduct or “arrest” anyone who they are even remotely suspicious of being “enemies of the state” & interrogate or torture them in Russian Prisons known as Gulags. Lubyanka Square Building is a very large, imposing structure & was the central Russian/Soviet KGB operating facility for interrogating prisoners.

Many people who entered that building never came out of it alive.

Moved me to ponder the possible fate of “secret police” attempting such things here in America’s Third World County™ where the populace is better-armed, per capita, than the local National Guard unit.

I’d want to run the popcorn and beer concession.

Computer Security: the Value of Resident Anti-Malware

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So, how important is having a resident, up-to-date anti-malware product for Windows users?

Middlin’. No, seriously.

Here’s a wee experiment I recently did:

  • Windows 7 box, mostly updated (I did not accept some problematic M$Office 2010 updates, but then I rarely fire up M$Office).
  • Removed all resident anti-malware products.
  • Surfed normally for a month.
  • Scanned with offline standalone scanners and online scanners from reputable anti-malware companies.

Result? No malware.

A properly-configured modern(ish) browser (Opera 12.17), decent firewalling and simple safe computing practices were all that was needed for me to avoid infections/infestations with malware.

The Reality-Based Fantasies of Anti-GMO

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Anti-GMOers have this fantasy that some plant foods are “pure,” unmodified genetically. They are are to be pitied for their illiteracy. Almost ALL plants consumed by humans as food today have been genetically modified from their original forms, most of which ranged from mildly toxic to only marginally nutritious. Without a history (and prehistory) of human genetic modification of plants, we’d all still be carnivores.

Good Lines. . .

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If one is prone to collecting good lines from fiction–or other lit–“Asylum,” (excellent milfic space opera by Jordan Leah Hunter and Owen R. O’Neill) has a few. For example, referring to the chewing-out given by an admiral to a marine officer who had poohed the scrooch most royally,

“He just yanked out that little prick’s immortal soul, wiped his ass with it and threw it away.”

And rightly so.

Almost 600 pages of excellent milfic space opera. Number 3 in the series. (A separate glossary is available for download from the authors’ website–links in each volume of the series.)

20/20 Hindsight

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Looking back on last Saturday, I almost wish we had bid more on the items we acquired in a school-sponsored (PTO) silent auction. Oh, we “won” everything we bid on, anyway, but only because I didn’t want to bid much under what the (donated) items were worth, since I knew the PTO’s normal record of spending the funds–and approve. In fact, the PTO’s spending seems to meto be more productive, dollar-for-dollar, than the regular school budget. . . Maybe it’s because administrators, politicians and remore educrats are out of the loop, eh?

Still, I do almost wish we had bid more. *meh* Maybe we can just make a straight donation.

Meanwhile, In the Land of Serendip. . .

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Made arrangements for a car repair today with a new (to us) mechanic (referral from a STRONG referral). Guy I ended up talking with had the same name (last name NOT common) as a childhood buddy of mine (now deceased). Of course, I didn’t know that until I’d made arrangements and got his card, but a nice lil addendum to the transaction.

I think Son&Heir’s car is in good hands.

Probably. *heh*

Is It Wrong of Me. . .

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. . . that my fav line from Ghost, by John Ringo is,

“Dead bad guys and naked girls. It’s like an op in a titty bar.”

Yeh, there are tons of great lines/scenes in the book, but somehow, that one gets me every time. (And, yes, since confession is good for the soul, I do re-read the first book of the Paladin of Shadows series every now and then. It’s a quick “palate cleanser” *heh*)

Simple, Good Eats

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I like simple, one-pot recipes. Cube a couple of steaks and brown ’em. Add chopped peppers and onion (and some freshly ground black pepper). Toss in a cuppa rice, some tumeric (& whatever *heh*), and a couple of cupsa beer. Lil later, add some frozen peas. Let it all kinda simmer a while, then chow.

Oh, some beer batter bread is a nice accompaniment.

And another beer. 😉

Not All “Literates” Are

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The US reached an impressive 81% high school graduation rate in 2013. That was also the year that, had previous models been followed, the Department of (Mis)Education would have conducted another National Assessment of Adult Literacy. But, of course, following the dismal results of the 2003 assessment (which varied not a whit from the 1993 assessment) did not militate for yet another embarrassing survey.

Oh, that 2003 NAAL? Here’s all you need to know: 69% of recent (at that time) college grads could not read and understand “complex text” that included bus schedules, want ads, warning labels and driving directions.

BTW, the CIA Factbook defines that level of “reading” ability as illiteracy. Warring bureaucrappies? No, because although more than 50% of Americans–based on the NAAL, cannot read such materials, the CIA Factbook hilariously states that American literacy is over 97%. BTW, the NAAL dumbed down the term “literacy” to the point that it could come up with an 81% literacy rate. The data disagrees. . . and has become harder to get to recently, for some reason.

Has literacy in the US improved since then? The question virtually answers itself.

*sigh*

While it is not (yet) correct to say that all US citizens are functionally illiterate, it is far to say not only that not all US citizens are functionally illiterate, but that probably 50% or more of them can tell no difference between the first statement and the second.

Valley Girl University

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*gagamaggot*

Reading almost anything written in the last 30 years is a crap shoot. As traditional publishers have come to be run more and more by bean counters and literate editors have been more and more pushed aside in favor of hucksters who know how to weigh manuscripts or some other such stupid criteria, the murder of the English language there has become more and more par for the course. Still, there seem to be a (very) few literate adults left in trad pub houses.

“Indie” publishing is all over the place, but yes, execrable treatment of English is a wee tad more common in “Indie” books. It’s as though in all forms of publishing practiced nowadays, books are becoming dominated by products from writers (and proofreaders and editors) who all received degrees in Assassinating English from Valley Girl U.

Example abound, but the proximal cause of this wee rant is,

“If X didn’t hack into Y’s accounts and trace the money to Z, we might never have put it together.”

No, moronic graduate of Valley Girl U. No. “”If X hadn’t hacked. . . ”

I really, really, really wanted to dope slap the writer (and any proofreader and editor) for that, especially since it was the capstone of many usage, grammar and utterly stupid POV errors.

People who want to get paid to write (or proofread or edit) text should do their due diligence. They ought to at least work to become minimally literate. The example above disqualifies the writer (and any proofreader and editor involved in the book) from inclusion in the class, “literate.”