Category Archives: Science

What Should I Do With the Blog?

So I’ve got a problem.  I used to spend a lot of time on the blog and recently, because all of my free time has gone to YouTube, I’ve dropped off to a couple of posts per week and mostly, I fight to find things to say here outside of Horror Show Sunday because, as I said, all of my energy has been going to YouTube.  But that’s not how I intended it, in fact, my original intention was to have  the blog be my primary source of communication and everything else was supposed to send people here.

Yeah, that’s not how it worked out unfortunately.

But I’ve been feeling like the blog has been left behind and that’s not what I want either.  It really feels like it’s going nowhere and even though it gets some traffic, which I can’t imagine why because I never advertise it, everything here is outdated and I don’t like the look so my question for you, the reader, is what do you want to see here?

I’d really like to tie it in with YouTube more, I had the idea of, maybe once or twice a week depending on the content, of giving expanded looks at some of the videos I do there.  A lot of the time, I don’t want to bore the viewers so I give shorter answers than I might otherwise give and maybe, if people are interested, I might want to expand on things here.  So let me know if that’s something you’re interested in seeing.

Some things here are going away.  I lost track of the Bitchspot on YouTube page forever ago and that’s just going to get deleted.  There’s no way I could keep up on it.  I feel the same way about Religious Horror Show, but I really wanted there to be a place where people could go to see all of that but as you can see, I’m way out of date on it and I don’t feel like I’ll ever get it caught up, so I’d like suggestions of what I should do to showcase all of the horrors of religion.

Then there are the visuals, which right now suck.  I’ve been out of the WordPress game for so long now that I don’t even know what I can do, much less what I should do.  Because I no longer use Facebook or Twitter, and I really want to completely delete those accounts, that will be the end of what little advertising I do around here.  I really would love to find a plug-in that lets me auto-post to Gab or Minds, or Patreon or MakerSupport for that matter, but I haven’t found anything that will work.  I did get a plug-in that will let individuals post their comments to a lot of those social media sites that I will implement, but I really need an automated solution for promotion here.  I just don’t have the time to manually repost all of my articles to Minds and Gab and Patreon and MakerSupport.  I wind up doing it in massive batches a couple of times a month and that’s just not what I want.  Any suggestions?

And the theme I’ve got right now is crap, I’m sorry to say.  I haven’t had a chance to go looking for something new yet, maybe this weekend, but it feels totally outdated and dull.  Ideas for that are also welcomed.

Really, I want to make all of my online activism, if it can be called that, cohesive.  Maybe I can get YouTube videos to automatically post here?  I’ll have to look into it.  This used to be my one-stop shop for everything I did online, now it feels like it’s gotten lost in the weeds and I hate that.  So again, let me know what you’d like to see, you come here after all, you have to have some suggestions.

Thanks for your time and help.

This is Your Brain on God

If you ever wondered what religion causes in the brain, here you go, this is an fMRI scan of a religious believer having a so-called “religious experience”.  And you know what it looks amazingly like?  Someone on drugs.

“We’re just beginning to understand how the brain participates in experiences that believers interpret as spiritual, divine or transcendent,” says neuroradiologist Jeff Anderson. “In the last few years, brain imaging technologies have matured in ways that are letting us approach questions that have been around for millennia.”

Religion activates the brain’s reward centers, just like drug addiction, alcohol, love and other highly emotional activities.

“Religious experience is perhaps the most influential part of how people make decisions that affect all of us, for good and for ill. Understanding what happens in the brain to contribute to those decisions is really important,” says Anderson. Unfortunately, I’d say that these decisions, being entirely emotional, are more negative than positive for us all.  This is an ongoing study and researchers admit they still know very little about how theology affects neuroscience.

But I don’t think it’s a mystery at all.  Religion is just delusion.  It is wishful thinking for the sake of wishful thinking and the brain reacts to religious delusion the same way it does to all delusion.  It triggers chemical rewards that cause elation and emotional highs.  So people feel good and repeated exposure to these chemicals just reinforces the behaviors that lead to them, actually increasing how people act religiously to continue to get greater and greater highs.  It’s all just stimulus response. There is nothing unusual about religious belief, in fact, I could have predicted exactly these results had someone asked me before the research began, as I’m sure a lot of the researchers could have as well.

So the next time your local theist tells you that he feels god, explain that science has now shown that he’s just feeling brain chemicals.  That’s all it is.  It’s the brain flooding itself with feel-good chemicals that make you feel like something is going on when nothing actually is.

Religion is a lie.  This is just more proof.

 

Good Job Microsoft!

This is just a stupid little personal story, so if you’re not into that, skip it.  Recently, I had some serious computer trouble where my computer would not reboot.  It hung and refused to start Windows no matter what I did, and I worked on it for hours and hours before I finally decided, screw it, I would just back up all of my data and reload Windows from scratch.

This did indeed solve the problem, obviously, since I’m here writing about it.  But that’s not the part I want to get to.  So I had to go back and reload all of my software, which honestly was fine because my system was pretty bloated, moreso than I even realized when I looked at the long, long, long list of software that got deleted in the reload.  I went through the list and only replaced the stuff that I really, really needed and one of those things was Microsoft Office.

Now the reload wasn’t a problem, I whipped out their disc and installed it just fine, but when it came time to put in their 25-character registration code, I couldn’t find it.  We looked for a good half hour and couldn’t locate it.  I know we have it so while my wife contacted Microsoft for it again, I just hit cancel on the registration and finished the installation without it, figuring it would pop up and ask for it the first time I ran any of the programs.

So jump forward a couple of hours, we’ve got the code again, and I am impressed that the nice people at Microsoft, or their people in India at least, looked it up and gave my wife not only a link for the digital download of the software, but her registration code, I went to enter it and… I didn’t need to.

Apparently, just hitting “cancel” registered the software.  So now I have registered software without any name on it.  Why would anyone have to pirate this stuff when they can just load it and hit cancel?  Makes no sense to me.  Now I don’t care one way or the other if it has my name on it or not so long as it works, so we tucked the registration code back into the envelope with the CD for the next time we need it.  I’m just wondering if this is some weird glitch or if this is how Office, at least Office 2016 actually works.  I mean, I’m not telling people to go do that, just wondering if anyone else has had that experience. On the one hand, I am thankful that Microsoft actually got our code back to us with no muss and no fuss, but on the other hand, sarcastically, good job for having a completely open program that anyone can install if they have the CD or a pirated download.

Is a Censorship-Free Internet Registrar Worthwhile?

The newest thing on free-speech social media sites like Gab and Minds is the call for a free speech Internet registrar that cannot be censored, as though this will solve all of the problems that the far left monopolistic giants like Google are causing.

I hold that it will do absolutely nothing because these people have no idea how the Internet actually works.  These people are living in a fantasy world.

The problem is, even if you can get your domain registered, that doesn’t guarantee that anyone will ever know you’re there.  And this all comes from the brouhaha caused with the Daily Stormer and the problem that Gab.ai’s registrar caused for Daily Stormer owner Andrew Anglin.  But the reality is that even if you have a domain registered, the Internet is set up in such a way that the very existence of your web site can be quashed and there’s nothing at all you can do about it.

See, there are these little things called DNS servers, which most major ISPs maintain, but there are plenty of independent ones out there.  They’re the ones that, when you type in website.com, they translate that to the actual IP address that is required to get to your site.  Website.com has no meaning whatsoever to the computers that actually route your web browser request without various DNS servers telling them where the heck website.com actually is.  Even if you have a domain, if whoever owns those servers decides to strip away the actual IP address from them, then your site will forever be unfindable.

Seriously, that’s all the dark web is, a series of servers that are not indexed by normal DNS servers. It isn’t some bizarre magic, it’s just servers that you can’t get to unless you know the technical tricks to do  so.

And if you don’t think that the first thing Google and most other search engines would do if Daily Stormer came back online is remove them from search results, you’re nuts.  Just having a domain name doesn’t mean that anyone will direct traffic to you.  If Google shuts down search results and all of the major DNS servers delist your site, you’re dead in the water, except to those very few who have the technical know-how to get there anyhow.

I’m not saying I agree with this, I’m saying this is the state of reality that we live in any anyone who wants to circumvent that reality has to understand.  Go ahead, create your own free speech DNS servers. Most people neither know how to change their DNS settings in their computers, nor care.  They rely on what their ISP set up for them.  They don’t know any better and have no interest in learning. They aren’t going to go to DuckDuckGo for their search engine when Google produces better results. The only way to change things is to demolish the entire Internet as it currently stands and rebuild it from scratch and I hate to break it to you, but that’s just not going to happen any time soon.

Besides, what do you do about countries like China and Pakistan who have a vested interest in censoring the Internet?  How do you convince them to adopt free-speech regulations when they have no interest in doing so?  It’s like people haven’t thought these things through because when I point out all of the problems, I get no response.  They just want to live in their own little fantasy world that somehow, they’ll be able to get their message out far and wide and nobody will be able to stop them.

Not on this planet buddy.

When All Your Choices Are Bad

You know, I am getting sick of modern companies that have no clue about customer service, this is a constant problem and I just got smacked in the face with it once again.  This is getting absurd.

So I’ve had Frontier as my ISP ever since they took over the California FiOS market from Verizon.  And before that, I had Verizon for at least a decade.  Now Frontier sucks, everyone hates them, but I never had a problem with them because I was working with old Verizon tech and didn’t have to deal with them.

All that changed when I moved.  Now I purposely made sure I bought a new house in a FiOS area and as soon as I got here, I had Frontier come out and install all new equipment.  It was all well and good until I found that I wasn’t getting the kinds of speeds I was paying for.  I was supposed to be getting 100/100 and my speeds varied between 50-65 most of the time.  I called them a lot, they gave me the standard “reset your modem, reboot your computer” nonsense and told me that I was getting the best speed I could get.  So this went on for 13 months, at which time we started to realize that we couldn’t stream anything from Netflix or Amazon Prime because it would tell us, more often than not, that we just didn’t have the bandwidth to do it.  I ended up calling Frontier and they sent out a tech, who told me that back when they put in all of the new equipment, they installed the wrong things and of course I couldn’t get the 100/100, the equipment simply wasn’t capable of it.  He told me to call Frontier and get compensated because it was all their fault.

So that’s exactly what I did.  I called, I talked to a rep and said I wanted them to credit me for all of the months that I paid for 100/100 and didn’t get it.  I wasn’t unreasonable.  I said they could either give me the difference between what I was paying and what I got, or they could just charge me the next 13 months at a reduced rate, whatever made their job easier.  And they told me no.  They would give me a $36 credit, which was the difference between the lower speed I got and the higher speed I paid for for 3 months and no more.  I started going up the chain of command and got the same story all the way along. They will do no more than give me a $36 credit, period.  I wasn’t going to go for it, I demanded to talk to someone higher up the food chain and was told that they’d have them call me within 24 hours.  Of course, they never did.

So I said screw them, I was going to change providers.  Every single person I knew who had ever had Frontier had switched because they have the worst customer service on the planet, or so I thought.  So I called Charter, who is the only other local provider that does FiOS and scheduled to have them come out and install their equipment.  They were supposed to be here on Friday between 10 and 11.

And I say supposed to, because Friday… nobody showed up.  No tech, no calls, no nothing.  So I called them and asked what the heck was going on.  They said they had no idea, but they’d get someone out here and they’d have someone from their “escalation team” call me back within 15 minutes.  They never called.  Are we at all surprised?

So now I’m pissed, I call back and tell them to cancel the whole order, I don’t want to do business with anyone with terrible customer service.  Now the guy I talked to was very nice and apologetic and said he’d make sure someone came out by the end of the day to install and, to his credit, they did.  Early even.  But once they got here, I ran a speed test on the line and I was getting 100/10.  That’s not what I signed up for.  But according to the tech, that’s all that Charter offers.  Well fuck them.  I told him to disconnect everything, I was going back to Frontier because at least there, I got the speed I wanted.  I cancelled the whole damn thing, I wasted an entire day fighting with these morons and now I’m just mad.

I mean, it isn’t like I’m saving any money with Charter at all.  I’m being charged exactly the same monthly fee as I was paying with Frontier, I just got less.  And they want to charge you more to provide wireless, which is asinine in the modern world.  They can take their inferior service and their inferior tech and shove it straight up their inferior asses.

But I really have no other options.  I know that Charter sucks.  I know that Frontier sucks.  There’s nobody else to go with and both companies know that people have no choice so they just don’t care.  What happened to us as a society where we just started accepting terrible customer service?  Because it’s all bad!  Every bit of it!  It’s all horrible and I’m sick and tired of it.

Western culture is going straight to hell.  I have no idea what happened but I want it to stop.  Companies just don’t care about their customers because they know that their customers are trapped.  We have no choice anymore.  We have to bend over and take it straight up the backside.  And nobody wants to complain about it.  I don’t get it.  I really don’t.

The Stupidity of Reporting Comments

This doesn’t happen as often as it used to, but there are still people who will report my own comments on my own blog to IntenseDebate, as if they are totally unaware that the report comes right back to me.  I am the only one who can delete a comment.  IntenseDebate cannot.  So you’re asking me to censor myself, which is really a pretty stupid thing to do.

But then again, these are stupid people.

Now I have had, over the years, people who just showed up on my blog to complain.  No matter what I had to say, they found something to whine about and they hated everything I had to say, no matter what it was about.  I could say I liked mint chocolate chip ice cream and they’d complain about it, just because I said it.  There have been rare occasions where I’ve banned them from commenting, after I’ve issued warning after warning after warning and it’s been ignored.  Most of the time, I just ignore them and hope they go away because they’re just annoying, not offensive and talking to them at all somehow validates their actions, at least as far as they’re concerned.  They want attention and giving it to them just encourages them to continue.

There are people who hate the fact that I have a blog and they can’t shut me up so they try everything in their power to get me shut down.  I had one person complain to my web host, which just sent me the complaint and I circular filed it.  I’ve had people try to report me to IntenseDebate and more than a couple who just send e-mail directly to me complaining about my comments and demanding that I remove it, as though they don’t realize that they’re sending the e-mail to the person who wrote the comments.  Sure, that’s bright.

But they’re not bright, are they?  They have no clue that I’m paying to post whatever I want to post. They don’t have to like it, they don’t have to read it, but they can’t stop it.  I think that pisses them off so they do everything in their power, which isn’t a lot, to get it removed.  It hasn’t worked in the last 12 years, I don’t think it’s going to work any time soon.  I don’t think they understand how this technology thing actually works.  That says a lot about these people, doesn’t it?

Social Media is Strange

I know I recently wrote a post on how much I hate social media, but right after that, someone over on my YouTube channel asked me if I was a member of the “conservative atheist” group on Facebook.  Well, I had no idea such a thing existed.  I was the second member of the “conservative atheist” group on Google+ and even though it’s grown in membership some, I doubt anyone has ever posted more than one or two comments to it that I am aware of.  But she said there were hundreds of conservative atheists over on Facebook so I figured I should take a look.

And frankly, I’ve forgotten how to use Facebook, or more likely, Facebook has changed so much while I’ve been away that it’s no longer the software I used to know.  But while I was there, I realized that none of my posts have been going to Facebook in the past 8 or so months.  I had no idea.  Apparently there was some change to WordPress or Facebook a while ago and instead of needing a plugin to auto-post, you just needed to set something up internally.  I’ve now done that so we’ll see if my material goes back to being auto-published again.

Thereafter thought, I went to Tumblr and Twitter to see if they were still receiving posts.  I figured Twitter was because, for some weird reason, I keep getting more and more people following me there, even though I haven’t actually logged on in several years.  In fact, people were still mentioning me over there, which shocks me to no end.  Why would you keep referencing someone, and not just responding to auto-posts, but actually sending messages to me, when I haven’t responded in years?  I don’t get it.

Further, while I was poking around these platforms, I was actually surprised how long I’ve had accounts. Twitter, for instance, is an account from 2012, although I did delete my account once and probably got my original closer to 2009.  Facebook was the biggest surprise as my main account there is from December 2004.  That’s 11 months after the stupid thing started.  That’s pretty much when the blog went online so I guess I was there from the start.  I still don’t use it much though.  And Tumblr? Who knows, I couldn’t find a start date after poking around for a couple of minutes, but probably around 2010 or so if I had to guess.

I did reinstall my Twitter client and posted a couple of things today, although honestly, I don’t know how long I’ll stick around.  As always, the majority of it is shit.  It’s a bunch of whining about Trump and theist spam.  I think the biggest thing I object to is that it’s mostly mindless memes, especially if you’re watching a hashtag, which I usually do.  I checked out #atheism and 99% of what goes by is just memes. There are no conversations going on, it’s just people sending pithy pictures out into the ether.  And nobody is paying the slightest bit of attention, it’s seemingly all automated.  I tried responding to a couple of them and never got any response whatsoever.  So what’s the point of Twitter again?  To watch endless spam?  I think not.

So maybe, one of these days, I’ll get around to that conservative atheist group on Facebook, once I figure out how everything works again.  Maybe.  It might be nice to see some sane people for a change. I’m terribly tired of the other kind.

The Young Don’t Understand Rights

You have to remember that Minds prides itself on no censorship, making it the de-facto home of disaffected young people who think the world owes them a living.  There are lots of people who have been banned or censored by Twitter or Facebook who flocked to Minds because they can say anything they want, I assume within reason, and nobody will boot them off.  At least that’s the plan, we’ll have to see how things work out in practice in the long term.

But these people honestly have no clue how rights actually work. They think that because they have freedom of speech, they have freedom to speak anywhere and everywhere, even on private networks, without the risk of censorship and when I tell them that’s not the case, they freak out.

I’m sorry to have to break it to you special snowflakes, but your right to free speech doesn’t exist when you’re trying to do it on someone else’s lawn.  If they own the venue, they make the rules and your only option is to follow the rules or go somewhere else.  Nobody says you have to agree with the rules, nobody says you have to like the rules, you only have to follow them or suffer the consequences.

And these people don’t get that at all.  These are the same people whining that Milo lost his account on Twitter or PewDiePie got dinged on YouTube.  Do I think these things should have happened?  No.  Was it completely in the prerogative of the companies running those services to do it?  Absolutely.  And all the screaming of censorship and gnashing of teeth won’t change that.  Your right to free speech ends where you try to voice it on someone else’s property.  If you want to stand on a street corner and rant, that’s fine.  Free speech only refers to the government’s inability to shut you up.  It doesn’t apply anywhere else. Welcome to the real world.

Of course, it gets worse because when you explain that to them, they will argue that because Twitter and Facebook are so widespread, that they deserve to lose their rights as private companies because they have undue influence.  Except that undue influence comes because consumers choose it, not because they have any kind of unfair advantage.  They simply have popular services.  People choose to use them. They don’t stop potential competition, anyone can start another social media service and try to win those users to their side.  And the second you say that, you lose these crazies completely.  They refuse to talk to you.  They just don’t understand that individual choice and market competition is not the same as government censorship.  So they want to force their own form of censorship on private industry because they’re not getting the results they want.  It’s just their own form of control while screaming that control they don’t like is evil.

And you wonder why these people are so clueless?

Social Media Sucks

I think everyone knows how much I detest social media.  I’ve tried a lot of it and I’ve walked away from all of it.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about Twitter or Tumblr or Facebook or Google+, I find all of it to be totally useless for what I actually want social media to be about.

What might that be, you ask?  I’ll tell you.  I don’t want to follow people.  I want to follow ideas.  I want to follow topics.  I’d really rather see social media be more like the old Usenet, where you joined a newsgroup and everyone was talking about something that interested you.

But that’s not the model that virtually every social media platform uses.  They are all focused on people.  Be a celebrity!  Get tons of followers!  Feel like you’re special!  But I don’t want to feel special.  I want to debate.  I want to discuss.  I want to have conversations with people on the subjects that interest me.  Yes, there are ways you can sort of do that on social media, you can follow hashtags on Twitter, you can join groups on Facebook or Google+, but those things are an afterthought, not the focus of the software.  That just isn’t what I want to do.

And that’s why I’ve always gravitated toward forums, because it’s a bunch of people talking about the same thing instead of a bunch of people dancing around trying to get followers.  If I care what you say, I’ll follow.  If not, I won’t, but I don’t give a damn if anyone follows me, I’m not out there for ego, I’m out there to hold in-depth conversations on subjects I enjoy debating.  That’s it.  It doesn’t matter to me how many people I have following me around.  I care how many people are willing to engage in a rational discussion and unfortunately, that’s very few.

So I gave up on Twitter and Tumblr, even though all of my blog posts and YouTube videos auto-post to them.  I haven’t opened up either site in over a year and probably never will again.  This is especially true because both sides, along with Facebook and others, have gotten very censorship-heavy.  If you say something they don’t like, and this is very political in nature, they boot you off.  It isn’t about following the rules, it’s about adhering to ideologies and when these typically far-left websites don’t like something you say, you get banned.  Well, okay, it’s your site, you make the rules, but I can also refuse to use your site and get you ad revenue.  I can speak out against your site and say why I don’t use it and don’t recommend anyone else does either.

That’s when someone pointed out a new social media site called Minds, where apparently, none of that happens.  Oh sure, it’s still the same old “follow people around” nonsense, but at least when you say something, you don’t have to worry about leftists screaming that you need to be banned and the site doing what they say, at least from what I’ve heard.  So I just started an account there, just to see if it’s any different.  I have my doubts, but if you want to follow along, my page is here.  I honestly can’t say how much I’ll use it, we’ll have to see, but while it doesn’t solve my biggest problem with social media, it does solve a minor one.  So let’s keep our fingers crossed, shall we?

I’d still like a site where following people isn’t done though.  Anyone want to get on that?

You’re Costing Us Money!

Seriously, I get sick and tired of websites complaining about ad blockers.  “We can’t survive if you don’t disable your ad blocker!”  Well then you should probably adopt a better business model, shouldn’t you?

That’s the thing.  You adopt a particular business model and consumers decide if they will support you.  Now I don’t care if you plaster your site with ads, I am not going to look at them.  I’m not going to accept pop ups, I’m not going to follow retail links, I’m just not.  And I don’t care if that hurts your revenue stream, that’s your problem, not mine.

The real issue is that advertisers have completely shit the bed with their obnoxious, intrusive and often destructive advertising, desperately trying to get my attention.  Not interested.  So they got more and more and more obnoxious as time went on and people got tired of it, companies wrote ad blockers and it stopped being an issue for everyone except the websites that relied on advertiser revenue.  If nobody is seeing the advertising, the advertisers won’t want to pay for it and the websites lose money.

Well whose fault is that?  You’ve got the advertisers who are just dicks, at least the worst of them, and that makes the entire industry suffer.  It wouldn’t be so bad if some of the big advertising sellers like Google would simply refuse to take any ads that included animation, sound or anything that is intrusive, maybe if that all entirely went away, people wouldn’t care so much, but so long as there is a risk of annoyance in any website you visit, those ad blockers are staying put.  And let’s not forget the ads that deceptively try to install viruses on your computer or send you to porn websites or the like.  So long as those exist at all, I will never run without an ad blocker again.

The second problem is the websites themselves.  Ads are low cost and potentially high return.  You don’t have to actually do much of anything to get ads on your site.  Just set up an AdSense account and Google does the rest.  You just get money rolling in.  Advertising is for lazy websites.  I’m not impressed with lazy. These websites don’t have to actually earn people’s business, they just put up click-baity nonsense and people walk into a wall of advertising.  Why should anyone respect that?

That doesn’t stop websites from whining and complaining, but whose fault is it that advertising of this kind has become the norm?  Come up with a better plan.  You might think you deserve that revenue but nobody consulted me and since it’s my eyes that make you money, I think my consent is pretty important.  Whether these websites like it or not, they are a business and being a business is more than just slapping up some ads and slipshod content.  It requires hard work.  It requires finding a business model that your customers, and they had better be seen as customers, both agree to and are willing to engage with.  Clearly, advertising is not that model for a lot of people.  So instead of whining that people are rejecting your model, it is your responsibility to find a model that people don’t reject.  That means that Google and other ad-pushing companies need to totally reject the kinds of ads that people hate. Because ad  blockers didn’t appear in a vacuum, they came about because people hated these ads.

So please, find a way to earn my business.  Be worthwhile.  Be useful.  Don’t make my eyes bleed. Don’t be lazy.  Be a business and treat me like a worthwhile customer and I’m happy to give you my money. That’s how you make a profit.  Ads aren’t it.

Making Better Products

I’m on advisory panels for two different companies, a pet food manufacturer and a paint manufacturer, and I notice the exact same things about both of them.  Both companies are trying to find ways to make their products sell better, but they are not really interested in making their products actually better.  And I understand why, in both markets, all of the premium pet foods and the premium paints are pretty much the same.  There’s nothing really better about one brand than another and the manufacturers know it.  They can’t make a superior product because their product is already as good as modern technology can make it, so they’re just trying to make people think that their product is better than their competition, even if it isn’t.

And I find that stupid.

Oh, I know why they do it, they’re just trying to make as much money as they can and attract all the brand loyalty possible, but when their entire pitch is “tell us which phrasing of the same words makes you more likely to buy our product” or “how can we get you to talk about our product on social media” or “what does our product make you feel like”, it makes me want to puke.

And I tell them that.

Frankly, I’m surprised I’m still on these panels most of the time.  Every survey about what color to make the bag or what order to put words in, or how their marketing strategies make me feel, I answer that none of that matters.  All I care about is how healthy their food is for my pet or how good their paint works.  So long as my pet likes their food and it’s at a price that I think is worthwhile, I’ll buy it.  So long as their paint does what I want it to do and it’s at a reasonable cost, I’ll buy it.  Nothing else matters.  And I’m also very honest with both of them that I don’t buy their particular products.  I am not a customer of either company, nor do I have any interest in becoming one.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what they make, I have no particular problem with their product line, I have tried their products in the past and I simply have other things that I like better.  I am willing to give them my honest opinion though and tell them what I think of their strategies and largely, I think that they are headed in the wrong direction.

And I think I’m rubbing off on others, much to the consternation of both companies.

Case in point, the company asked on the paint site what the company should do differently in 2017.  And someone said “stop telling people that you have a 1-coat paint because clearly, you don’t”.  I was rolling on the floor so hard I couldn’t even post and agree.  But others did.  This came up because they had been asking about new packaging for one of their paints and they kept highlighting “one coat coverage”.  Sorry, I’ve used your paint and it’s nowhere near one coat coverage.  Well, maybe if you perfectly prepped a wall and covered it with two coats of pre-colored primer, then maybe you can cover it with a single coat of same-color paint, but otherwise, not a chance in hell.  People are starting to recognize just how ridiculous the marketing bullshit these companies come up with are.  It’s not one-coat paint.  It’s not superior ingredients.  It’s just spin that they hope nobody realizes is really just empty rhetoric.  The more people who recognize it for what it is, the better.  I predict both companies will abandon their advisory programs if this continues because they don’t want to hear that consumers are wising up.  They want people to be stupid, gullible and easily controlled.

And that’s just sad.

NASA: Dreamers vs. Pragmatics

It’s funny to watch the left scream about Trump, claiming that he will destroy NASA and bring down science to please his religious overlords.  Of course, the fact that Trump has already said that he wants to increase funding to NASA doesn’t seem to make a difference to them, they just know what he’s going to do!

But the reality is, while I am a huge supporter of NASA and other scientific advancement, I’m also a realist and pragmatically, I have to admit that the vast majority of what NASA has done in the past couple of decades hasn’t really done much for humanity.  Exploring for the sake of exploring doesn’t really do much for the world at large.  Exploration and the pursuit of knowledge certainly has its place, but we need results and honestly, we’re not getting much.

So for the future, I want to see NASA actually produce something worthwhile that benefits people in the here and now.  Sure, I think exploring the solar system is fine, there are questions we want answers to and I’m cool with that, but what do we actually get for our billions of dollars spent?  What new technologies are we getting that are being developed for the space program?  We want a permanent colony on the moon?  To what end?  What do we get out of it, other than being able to point to a moon colony?  How do the people of earth benefit from this undertaking?  We’ve had a long string of space stations, what did we get out of having the ISS that we didn’t get out of earlier stations?  How are we better today on the planet Earth than we were before the shuttle program started?  I honestly want to know.

Unfortunately, you get the liberal left, a group of self-identified dreamers, who don’t actually care about what their dreams achieve for humanity beyond good feelings and emotional comfort.  They want to climb mountains because they can, not because getting to the top of the mountain actually achieves anything.  We’re spending billions of dollars sending probes out into space, but once those good feelings fade, what did we get from our investment?  Because that’s what it should be, an investment, not just money flushed down the liberal toilet.

This is something we need to consider for all of our programs.  How is spending that money making anything better?  Liberal social programs?  Do they actually solve the issues or are they just tossing money away?  I think most of us would admit that these programs don’t actually do a thing to stop poverty, they just make it easier for the poor to be poor on the taxpayer dole.  That’s not a good program!

Ultimately, that’s why liberalism is such a clusterfuck.  It doesn’t care about the facts, it cares about the feels.  It doesn’t care about the results, it cares about emotional comfort.  It has no goals other than feeling good, no matter how badly the program turns out, so long as you get an emotional high out of it, they’ll keep whacking that button for the next treat, even if that button is slowly electrocuting them to death.

And you wonder why I hate liberalism?

YouTube is Still Stupid

A couple of months ago, I wrote how I had received a “community standards strike” on my channel on YouTube, thus causing me not to be able to upload videos longer than 15 minutes.  I appealed the decision, of course, because I was completely in the right, but it took them almost 3 months to actually review and find in my favor, as I knew they would.  That’s half the amount of time the strike would have been in place to begin with.  And the kicker is, they didn’t even bother to let me know that it had been done, I just happened to look at my channel statistics and found that the strike had been lifted.

Thanks for nothing, YouTube.

Now to be honest, it didn’t affect me much at all.  I did a survey among my fans a long time ago where I asked what the “sweet spot” for videos was and almost universally, they said 10-20 minutes.  So I was making 15 minute videos anyhow, although I had a pile of videos that were longer that I had to hold until the end of my “strike” and now I can post again.  The only place I could potentially see a problem during my “issue” is that if anyone filed a copyright strike on me, I couldn’t fight back, but luckily, nobody did.  I am wondering though, I had one appeal pending before the whole strike business, I have no idea how that went, or even what video it was on.  YouTube isn’t great at communication.

So, that’s all behind me, at least until some idiot in a cubicle at YouTube gets a bug up their ass and tries it again.  I mean seriously, does anyone train these people?  Do they have the slightest understanding of fair use?  Do they actually click on links to find out where they lead or do they just whack the “strike” button indiscriminately because it’s easier than caring?  I’m starting to lean toward the latter these days, but at least that chapter of YouTube horrors is over.

Schools Don’t Understand Technology or Teenagers

Just got back from a mandatory school meeting with my youngest daughter, who now that we’ve moved, is going to a new school and that schools provides Google Chromebooks to the students.  All parents have to sit through a one-hour class on school expectations and responsibilities for the Chromebook.

Geez, these people have no clue.

I mean they honestly treat high school students like they’re 6.  These kids have grown up on computers. They were raised on the Internet.  They know what they’re doing a lot more than you do.  But they’re still treating them, and their parents, like complete idiots.

They seem to think this is 1995.  They even said, I shit you not, “if you want to allow your children to get on your own personal computer and log into the school servers, we don’t mind.”  Your own personal computer?  Which kids don’t have their own?  Which kids don’t have a dozen Internet-accessible devices of their own?  My kids have had their own personal computers since they were 4.  I haven’t paid any attention to what they were doing online since they were 13.  I trained them well and I trust them and they haven’t let me down yet.  If your kids don’t know how to behave online by the time they’re in high school, you’ve failed as a parent.

And the amount of monitoring they are doing is just absurd.  They have two different monitoring agencies sending e-mails to the school administration if anyone ever searches for or looks at anything they don’t like.  They were telling the story of the school valedictorian last year, who went to the MIT site to read Macbeth, getting flagged because Macbeth has words like “rape” and “violence”.  Seriously?  Then again, I’m somewhat surprised that these hyper-liberal schools allow students to read anything “inappropriate” in the first place.  It might trigger someone!

So my daughter immediately turned to me and said “I guess I’m not using that at home!”  Nope, she’s not.  Not with Big Brother looking over her shoulder.  It will come home, get plugged in and she’ll use her own computer or her own laptop or her own tablet or her own smartphone where everything she sees isn’t closely monitored and scrutinized.  I’m sure every other student in the place will be doing the same.

And seriously, does the school think they’re going to catch anyone being stupid?  They even said they rarely ever caught anyone doing anything wrong.  Of course not! Because if any of the students are going to do something “wrong”, they’re going to pull out their smartphone and do it.  Or their tablet and do it. The school has free wifi.  They are not going to do it on a device that they know is being sifted through with a fine tooth comb.  This isn’t going to stop anyone from acting inappropriately, they’re just going to do it where they know they can get away with it!

Oh, and the best part?  The school is proud that this year, for the first time, students will have access to e-mail.  E-mail!  Of course, it’s a heavily restricted system that you cannot send to or receive e-mail from anyone outside of the school and every single message anyone sends will be read by a school administrator.  Guess everyone is just going to have to use their own gmail accounts, huh?

I’m all in favor of schools being tech savvy, but they’re just not.  They’re at least a decade behind the times, utterly paranoid, and they think everyone is as stupid as they are.  Half of those Chromebooks are going to be hacked the minute the kids get them because the kids know more than the adults.  I spent the whole presentation rolling my eyes and I bet virtually every parent in the room was doing the same.

Why I’ll Always Use Self-Checkouts

So I’m in K-Mart today looking for some hangars for my wife.  We had tried to find them at Walmart yesterday but they were out of stock, which is no surprise.  K-Mart has them, I get them, I go to the front and immediately regret being there because the cashiers at K-Mart are the worst.  No, they’re not rude, they’re not overly stupid, they just have a long laundry list of things that they’re supposed to sell you and nothing you do will get them off their script.  They want your phone number so they can track your purchases, they want to sell you credit cards and extended warranties, they want you to give to their charity of the week and no matter how much you tell them to knock it the hell off, they’re going to continue, even if it pisses off the customer to the point of them walking out of the store empty handed.

And while I’m picking on K-Mart as the worst offender, they are not alone.  No store is immune to trying to up-sell at the register these days.  Sorry, if I wanted to buy anything else, I’d have put it in my cart.  I’m done shopping.  Now I want to pay you so I can go the hell home.  I’m not here to play 20 questions with you.

Now I probably wouldn’t mind if they could just pick one thing and try it and if they don’t get a response, give up.  I’m fine with that.  No, I don’t want to give you my phone number.  I even tell them I choose not to be tracked.  I don’t want their stupid rewards.  I just want to pay for my stuff.  But no, they can’t do that, and I know it isn’t their fault, the company is trying to justify paying these people $10 an hour to stand there and scan stuff, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.  In fact, it doesn’t mean I have to put up with it.

That’s why I always use the self-checkout lanes if I can.  I can scan faster than they can, I can bag faster than they can and I don’t try to sell myself anything I don’t have the slightest interest in.  So you know, if those cashiers all lose their jobs because nobody wants to deal with them, I’m really fine with that.  And lots of stores are just doing away with cashiers altogether, at best they have a self-checkout wrangler that solves problems, but doesn’t actually ring anyone up.

But you know, speaking of problems, some of those self-checkout machines are stupid too.  Sometimes, they’re even stupider than the slack-jawed cashiers reading off their scripts.  I mean, I was at Lowes last week and bought a bunch of stuff.  I scanned it, I put it in a bag and it pops up saying “incorrect weight, please wait for assistance”.  If I wanted assistance, I wouldn’t be self-checking, would I?  So I picked the stupid thing up again and the machine goes “something was removed from the bagging area”.  Rolling my eyes, I put it back and now the machine is saying “unexpected item in the bagging area”.  Give me a fucking break!  I went through this a couple of times, putting it down, picking it up, the machine was never happy.  Even the cashier who eventually wandered over to shut the stupid thing up thought it was stupid.  More often than not in some places, I have to wait for some idiot to come by and type in a code, not even caring if there was a problem or not, before I can continue.  What’s the point?  If I was shoplifting, it isn’t like the cashier cares enough to find out when they come over anyhow.  And nobody wants to go to the cashier anyhow, they spend their time looking bored while the self-checkout lines are always full.

You’d think the stores would figure it out.  I think Lowes has, they rarely ever have a cashier to be found, beyond the self-checkout wrangler and someone at contractor services.  Those checkout lanes are all dark because nobody wants to use them.  And I’ve been in at least 6 Lowes in recent months and they’re all the same.  Target has self-checkouts and they are always full, unlike the cashier lanes that rarely have more than a couple of people in them.  I just wish the local Walmart would put self-checkouts in and I’d be a happy boy.  The less I have to deal with someone trying to sell me something that I clearly have no interest in, the better off I am.  I welcome our self-checkout robot overlords and wish more companies would either figure out why people prefer them, or just give up on cashiers altogether.

YouTube is Stupid

I’ve got a YouTube channel and I usually have no problems there.  Oh sure, I get plenty of fake copyright notices from people who have no clue what fair use is, but that’s just a cost of doing business there.  I dispute everyone and I win every dispute. It’s stupid but it certainly isn’t YouTube’s fault.

But this one is.  Earlier today, I got a big notice that I had received a strike on my account for a video I put up on how I make videos.  According to the strike, I was “encouraging illegal activity” because I had posted, in the description, a link to the Microsoft site where you could download *THEIR OWN FREE SOFTWARE*!  Yes, I link to Microsoft’s own free download page where Microsoft is offering free downloads of their own software, in this case their free video editor Movie Maker, and I get dinged by YouTube?

What the fuck?

Okay, yes, I’m disputing it and yes, I’ll win, but it isn’t like this is some automated content ID system that automatically scans the video for copyrighted material.  This is a video that went up months ago.  Someone actually had to look at the video and decide that somehow, Microsoft is pirating their own software and I’m engaged in encouraging this software piracy.  YouTube needs to hire smarter people.  If they can’t figure out that the links I provided were to official sites, most of them purchase links for the software I mentioned in the video, these people do not deserve to have jobs.

I really don’t mind that the video got taken down, it was just a throw-away helpful video and there are thousands of them on YouTube already.  I did it, not just to help others but to play around with some parts of the software I use and gain some skills. Had they asked me to take it down, I would have.  Had they done anything remotely useful like asked any questions, I would have answered, but no.  They leaped to one of the worst things they can do to a channel, issuing an official strike.

So now I have a strike sitting on my channel, at least until my appeal wends it’s way through the YouTube system, all because some idiot in a cubicle has no clue what the hell they’re doing.  Come on YouTube, you’re better than that!

What is Wrong With People and Their Cell Phones?

So I got to thinking about this when some survey company wanted me to answer some questions about cell phone insurance, and heck, they were going to give me a $10 Amazon gift card, so why the hell not.  This is all about what kind of cell phone insurance you would buy, clearly trying to see how much they could  get people to spend on add-ons and they ended up getting kind of mad at me because I wasn’t interested in any of the add-ons that they wanted to “sell”.  To make it clear, they weren’t trying to actually sell plans to those being surveyed, they wanted to know what people wanted so they could go to cell providers and try to sell them on the plans.

I don’t have insurance on my phone.  I don’t need insurance on my phone.  I’ve had a cell phone since at least the early 90s and I have never, not once in my entire life, ever lost a cell phone, had one stolen or broken one.  I can count on less than the fingers of one hand how many times I’ve dropped my phone and it has never resulted in any damage at all. I take care of my belongings and I don’t have to replace them all the time.  I am clearly not the kind of consumer that they want. I know lots of that kind of people, I just don’t understand them.

See, my wife and I have never had to have a phone replaced, we’ve never broken or lost one, the only time we get new phones is either because we want one for some reason, or because they just stop working, neither of which would be covered by any insurance.  Phones are tools.  They are not fashion accessories.  Therefore, we have no insurance.  If we ever lost one, we’d just go buy a new one, no harm, no foul.  We do have insurance on our kids’ phones because one has lost a phone and the other just had one stolen within the last couple of months.  But beyond replacement, we need nothing else.

But that’s not what this survey company wanted to hear.  They wanted all kinds of tech support and accessory coverage and constant upgrade coverage so they could charge $25-30 a month.  None of that matters at all to me.  But I don’t treat my phone like a toy, it’s a tool.  I don’t carry it around in my hand, I don’t constantly play with it, it sits on my belt all the time and with a bluetooth headset, I rarely even touch it.  But I can’t tell you how many phones I just find laying around.  I can remember finding them all over the place at work, on desks, on counters, on the back of toilets, etc.  In fact, not a week goes by without someone’s phone being left in the bathroom.  What in the hell are you doing in the bathroom with your phone?  Okay, people are stupid, but that’s not something to be proud of!

I know this company wants to cater to the lowest common denominator, the stupid people who are prone to misusing and abusing their property, who treat their phones like status symbols and want a constant supply of new technology in their pocket so they can feel good about themselves.  In other words, they want to sell to the terminally stupid and gullible.  That’s their right, of course.  It just makes me depressed that there is such a market for stupidity.  I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but once again, I’m reminded just how idiotic the majority of Americans actually are and that makes me sad.

Why Won’t You Disable Your AdBlocker?

I use an adblocker on my browser.  I have always used one, I will always use one.  There are a lot of sites out there that implore me to turn it off or make an exception for them because they need to make money and the only way they make money is by me watching ads.  Well too bad.  You made your financial model, you have to deal with the consequences thereof.

Yes, I know  that these sites need to make money to stay up, but they have a choice how they want to do it.  Forced ad revenue is pretty much the bottom of the bin and it has become so obnoxious over the years, with popups and viruses and other malware, to the point that people developed ad blockers for a reason.  Now you can choose to use whatever method you want of making money, but you’re also responsible for that method and I have no obligation whatsoever to change my habits because you’ve made a bad choice.

See, these sites could easily just block anyone using an ad blocker.  It wouldn’t make me mad.  I’d be fine with it.  I’d just take my business elsewhere.  It isn’t going to change my decision to use one, I use it because ad producers have become so utterly obnoxious in their ads that I refuse to take part anymore.  I know that isn’t the fault of modern sites that had nothing to do with that, I’m sorry, but you still chose the lowest common denominator system, the one that takes the least amount of work on your part, as your money making method.  You made your choice, I made mine.  You can stop me from using your site and I’m fine with that.  I have no interest in trying to make you stop.  But by the same token, you can’t force me to stop using software to block out all of the obnoxious ads that pop up everywhere on the Internet.  Accept that I do it.  Cater to me or don’t.  It’s your call.  Just  be aware that people are just going elsewhere if  you try to force a decision upon them.  It’s called competition. Welcome to the real world.

I actually had to come back to this story a couple of weeks after I wrote it when my wife signed up for a streaming site and pointed out how ridiculous their system was.  Apparently, by watching ads on their videos, you earned “points” and if you had enough points, you could get a free “premium” membership that didn’t make you watch ads.  But if you use an ad-blocker, they scold you and tell you that you’re losing “points”.  Well the only thing the points are good for is that “premium” membership so it doesn’t matter if you lose points because you get the same thing as a “premium” membership without ever having to sit through an obnoxious ad.  Tell me there’s something I’m not seeing here.

So instead of trying to force compliance, or begging for someone to change their ways, why don’t you stop relying on ads to make money?  There are lots of other options.  It might take some more work but it will probably not piss as many people off and who knows, you might actually make more.

Apple Sucks

This will probably have been figured out by the time this post ever shows up, but as of this moment, in the middle of February, these are my views.  Recently, there’s been a court order instructing Apple to provide assistance to the FBI in unlocking the cell phone once owned by San Bernardino terrorists Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik.  Well, maybe not owned since it was Farook’s work phone, but at least controlled.  We know that Farook turned off the cloud backup feature about 10 days before the attacks and the FBI wants to know what might be stored on the phone, just in case it might point to future attacks or other terrorists living in the U.S.  To this end, they went to Apple for help unlocking the phone.  Apple refused.  Even when the courts ordered Apple to comply, Apple still refused.  They say they’re afraid that unlocking this phone will give the government more access to being able to hack other cell phones, but I don’t buy it for a moment.

Now I’m a big proponent of the right to privacy, but whose privacy are we talking about here?  Farook and Malik were terrorists, but both of them are dead.  Corpses have no right to privacy.  Further, it isn’t even their phone, it is owned by the State of California, which has asked Apple for help in unlocking the phone.  Apple has coded a safety system into their software, if you enter the password wrong 10 times, it deletes all data.  Therefore, they want Apple to make a crack for the phone so  that they can brute-force the phone.

I will say I am completely against handing the FBI a piece of software that they can reverse engineer to open any and all phones.  I know that some in the FBI hope that’s what they’re going to get.  They should never have access to it.  However, instead of suggesting another alternative, that being to turn over the phone to Apple, let Apple unlock it without the FBI ever having access to any software that they could possibly reverse engineer, and turn the unlocked contents over to the government, Apple is just being a petulant child and refusing to play ball at all.  Surely, I can’t be the only one who has thought of this alternative solution, can I?

I’ve seen some suggest that maybe Apple can’t unlock the phone, that they simply lack the technical abilities, that they have made their phones unhackable.  I don’t believe it for a second, especially since we already know that Chinese hackers managed to hack into the iCloud and Apple didn’t even admit to it for a full month.  We also know that there are vulnerabilities in the iOS system that makes it vulnerable to hacks.  If Apple, a well-known control freak company can’t even make their system secure, the idea that they can’t get into their own phones is ludicrous.  Besides, if they were absolutely unable to get into the phone, if it was so secure that Apple couldn’t possibly unlock it, Apple would have just said that.  They would have issued a press release saying that they were incapable of complying with the court order.  That’s not what they did.  Instead, they essentially  told the government “we’re not going to help you, so there!”  I don’t care what excuses they make, it’s the complete lack of helpfulness that proves, once again, that Apple is a bunch of spoiled rotten assholes.

Let’s be honest.  A cell phone is the modern equivalent of a file cabinet.  A judge can issue a search warrant for the cabinet and whoever is in control of the cabinet is required by law to open up the cabinet for inspection.  You wouldn’t get very far if you decided that no, you were not going to allow it because maybe, just maybe, it might make it easier to get into other file cabinets in the future.  At best, that’s civil disobedience and civil disobedience requires that you pay the penalty for your refusal with jail time.  Anyone think some Apple higher ups are headed to prison soon?

So in conclusion, I don’t want Apple to hand over the keys to the farm to the FBI.  I do expect them to comply with the court order and do whatever they can do to unlock said phone.  They can do it at their facility with their own people without the FBI being involved at all.  If the FBI refuses, that tells us something about their intentions.  But for Apple to simply refuse to provide any help at all, under any circumstances at all, that’s a pure dick move.  But what can you expect from Apple anyhow? Dick is what they do best.

Liberals Don’t Understand Space

I can honestly say I cannot understand this at all, but looking at it and understanding liberals and especially progressives, it really doesn’t surprise me at all.  Back in the early 1970s, we sent the Pioneer 10 spacecraft into space.  It had a golden plaque which tried to explain, in simple terms, who had sent the probe.  It had a picture of a male and female human and a depiction of our solar system, all in hopes that if someone found it, dozens or maybe hundreds of years in the future, they might have some idea who we are and, perhaps, where to find us.

You might think this is very simple stuff, but no, not for modern-day progressives who don’t care about contacting alien life, they only care about their own political and ideological agendas.  At a recent conference in Leeds, England, a group of British scientists who work for SETI, entered a contest to design another plaque that might tell aliens about the human species, but of course, nothing is that easy.  Now, you have radical feminists and other progressive assholes who don’t want to tell aliens who we are, they desperately want to pass along a politically correct message so the aliens are aware of their liberal views on sexuality, gender, leftist social views, etc.  It’s just  going to guarantee that no alien in their right mind will ever visit our planet because we’ll have scared them away.

According to Jill Stewart, a supposed expert on space policy at the London School of Economics, “The plaque shows a man raising his hand in a very manly fashion while a woman stands behind him, appearing all meek and submissive. We really need to rethink that with any messages we are sending out now. Attitudes have changed so much in just 40 years.”

No, you moron, the plaque shows nothing of the kind.  It shows a man and a woman standing side by side, she isn’t behind him. He is raising his hand in greeting, not in a “manly fashion”.  Are you people really that stupid?  Others have raised criticism that the man and woman are supposedly white and therefore, not representative of our racial diversity.  Honestly, you can’t say what race they are, they are line drawings and no shading would actually work in this situation, they could be just about any race if you wanted them to be.

This whole thing is really absurd, the whole purpose of sending a picture, or any signal for that matter, is to greet potential alien species that might come across them!  It isn’t to hold an in-depth cultural debate.  It isn’t to show aliens that we’ve got a bunch of morons running the show.  This isn’t about human attitudes, this is about passing along information that may take hundreds, or thousands, or even millions of years to be found, if it ever is.  Attitudes on Earth may have changed in the last 40 years, but Pioneer 10 is still in our local neighborhood of space.  Pioneer 10 is only about 15.4 billion kilometers away from us. That’s a stone’s throw in interstellar terms.  It will take millions of years to get out as far as our closest stellar neighbor, a mere 4.5 light years distant.  By the time anyone might find it, we could very well be extinct as a species.  In that time, even if we are  still around, our attitudes as a species may have changed hundreds of times.  It doesn’t matter what we thought 40 years ago or what we think today or what we might think in another century, all of these are minuscule in terms of interstellar space travel. These liberal idiots have to get the hell over themselves and remember what the point of sending vehicles into space at all is, to make contact with whatever alien life might be out there.  It is not to convince them that we’re too brain damaged to be bothered with, or that we deserve to be exterminated for the good of the interstellar community.  Let’s not let liberal stupidity infect another planet like it has ours.  We owe it to the universe to keep our insanity home.

 

 

Why I Still Don’t Like Facebook

FACEBOOK-sucksIt’s no secret that I don’t care for Facebook, for the longest time I refused to have an account and even after I got one, I realized almost immediately that it wasn’t for me. It’s not just the people, although come on, a lot of people on Facebook are stupid, to the point that a lot of joke memes out there are made about Facebook users, but that’s really not the point.  My use of Facebook is limited to auto-posting blog articles, pretty much the same as my usage of Twitter.  It’s just not for me.

So anyhow, recently I had someone who follows me on Facebook send me a message asking why I didn’t put up more Facebook-only content and, in general, why I don’t spend any time there.  So here’s my quick answer because if one person asks, there are almost certainly others who are curious.

I’m an old-school kind of guy.  I started online with the dial-up BBSes, when live chat was impossible and people accessed a BBS one person at a time.  All of them had forums, where people would post threads and we’d have a serial conversation, you’d make a post, someone else would respond, a third person would respond and so on.  And when the Internet came around, back before the web, there was Usenet, which operated exactly the same way, with hundreds of newsgroups with thousands of threads all talking a single post at a time.  It’s what I’m used to and really, what I want.  All of the online forums I participate in do exactly the same thing, so does Google+ which is why I use it, although they could certainly be a lot better.  Things like Twitter is just a bunch of people throwing shit at each other and you only see it if you’re following someone that is throwing some of the shit, unless you’re following a particular hashtag, but even there, it’s not organized, it’s just a billion monkeys banging on a billion keyboards.  I haven’t got a clue who I’m even following on Twitter anymore because I haven’t even looked there for a year or so and may never do so again.  Honestly, Tumblr is the same thing, just with pictures of shit being thrown around.  I pay virtually no attention to Tumblr either.

Facebook is the same way.  It’s made up of pages that you have to follow and then, consume the content of the individual writing the page.  There isn’t a big collaborative roundtable discussion, it’s all one-way, from the page-owner down.  Yes, that’s how things go with blogs too, it’s all top-down, people go to the page specifically to read what one person has to say and there are few conversations that ever start that way.  To be perfectly honest, and I went and looked it up so I had the numbers right, there are only four blogs I read every day, along with another nine that I might check once or twice a week.  To be on my daily list, you have to consistently produce content I want to read and not a lot of people do that.  To those four people, who I won’t name, good job.

But anyhow, back to Facebook, because Facebook has no communities like Google+ does, only pages, I really find no reason to pay attention to it.  I want to be talked to, not talked at.  I want to be part of the action, not part of the audience.  I watch enough passive television, I want my Internet to be active.  That’s not insulting people who just want to consume content and read things, I want to participate.  It’s what I’ve always done, it’s want I want to always do.  So long as Facebook doesn’t provide that kind of active experience, I’m never going to pay much, if any attention to it.  Apologies if that bothers anyone but Facebook just isn’t my thing.

YouTube is Pissing Me Off



Youtube_logoI recently put up a second YouTube channel specifically for this blog and while I’m enjoying making videos and they’re getting relatively successful, one thing is driving me absolutely crazy.  YouTube seems unable to decide, no matter where I actually put the videos, where they will actually end up.  On more than one occasion, I have uploaded to the Bitchspot channel and it has ended up on the podcast channel and vice versa.  For those of you who have found a video in the wrong place, I apologize but it’s not my fault.  I’m careful to be signed into the correct account at the time I’m uploading, this seems to be a crazy glitch in the YouTube software.

What’s worse is the amount of time some of these videos are taking to process once uploaded because I can’t even tell what they’re going to do until it’s actually processed and published.  Everything uploads relatively quickly, but then I get the message “It’s taking an unusually long time to process…”  No it isn’t.  It’s unusual when it takes less than an hour or so these days.  It’s taking the usual long time to process.  Yes, I know that YouTube has an absurd amount of content being uploaded every minute of the day, it’s still annoying.  I can’t just sit and watch it spin its wheels processing, I just hit publish and figure I’ll go back later to see if it did it right.  Sometimes it does.  Far too often it doesn’t.  Because when it ever does eventually publish, it announces itself on Twitter and Google+, when I find it’s done something wrong and have to delete it off of one channel and re-upload it to the other, those links stop working and there are more announcements made.  If that has affected anyone, I’m sorry.

I’ve opened a ticket with YouTube to see what’s going on but haven’t heard anything back yet.  With my last Bitchspot Channel video, it uploaded to the wrong side, not once, but twice and I just deleted those.  Currently, I’m uploading the video version of the latest podcast and have my fingers crossed that this is going to work out.  I wish the YouTube system was better designed for people with multiple channels where it just asked you where you wanted it without having to sign in and sign out of everything all the time.  But such is life, right?

Shallow Consumers: The Car Edition

Animaniacs SurveyA couple of months ago, I agreed to join a year-long study of American consumers on automobiles, answering questions about what is important to me about modern cars and the direction that the automotive industry is going.  It takes me a couple of minutes a week, usually answering one or two short questionnaires about various subjects and, what the heck, I get a couple of Amazon gift cards for my time.

However, it didn’t take long to realize that the overwhelming majority of people involved in the survey are shallow idiots and worse yet, the study itself is geared to over-emotional morons.  Most questionnaires, like  the one I just completed, about car seats. spent every second wondering how one’s car seats made them feel.  Were they sexy?  Were they fashionable?  The one thing they never bothered asking about at all was were they functional?  Did they do the job which they were designed to do? The whole thing is form over function, actually, form to the complete exclusion of function.  It’s designed for ultra-shallow people who consume products based on emotion, not intellect.

I am not one of those people.  I buy products because they perform a function that I need performed, not because I care what other people think of me or how it makes me feel superior.  That’s idiotic, but apparently, that describes the majority of the American consumers.  So many of these studies and surveys count on the fact that their respondents are utter morons.

This goes back to the point I unfortunately have to make repeatedly, that people are stupid and act with their “hearts” and not their heads.  Companies rely on that gullibility to sell people crappy products that hit those emotional triggers instead of having to produce a better product.  This thing sucks, but now it’s available in fashion colors!

I don’t care about fashion colors.  Give me a regular colored car.  I don’t care about flashy gadgets that I will never use. Give me a car that gets me from point A to point B in comfort and efficiently.  I don’t need my car to massage me, I don’t need my car to talk to me, I don’t need my car to entertain me, I just need it to transport me.  That’s the purpose of a car.  What’s more, I don’t give a damn how my car makes anyone think about me.  People who are trying to live vicariously through their belongings have serious psychological problems.  ’nuff said.

Even Environmentalists Are Skeptical

Church of ClimatologyThe crazy liberal climate change idiots have been screaming for decades that the sky is falling and it’s all our fault. They claim that the ice caps are going to melt, that the beach-front property is going to flood, that there will be terrible tornadoes and hurricanes, fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!  Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave!  Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!

But you know, when they even have people on their own side going “hey, it just doesn’t add up”, it’s clear that they’ve got issues. Recently, Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore came out and admitted that anthropogenic global warming doesn’t make any sense.

Patrick recognizes something that I’ve pointed out many times in the past, that climate is cyclical, it changes naturally, no matter what we do to it.  We have heating trends and cooling trends which are often brought on by differences in solar radiation and volcanic cycles.  We can study the past and find ice ages and heat waves that occurred long before humanity was putting a drop of CO2 into the atmosphere.  In fact, Dr. Moore has now come to the conclusion that human industrialization has saved the planet by replenishing CO2 in the atmosphere that has been absorbed by millions of years of plant growth.  We’ve gone from 3,000 parts per million in the atmosphere to 282 parts per million before the Industrial Revolution.  An optimal level is 1,500 parts per million, something we currently rest at a quarter of.  Here’s Patrick Moore’s speech at the Ninth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

[youtuber youtube=’http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtcNjoDe5Pg’]

So why does this keep going on and why do so many people buy into it?  The problem is, this has been going on for many decades now, the whack-a-loon environmentalists screaming that man is ruining the planet, yet the planet continues on just fine.  From the “global cooling” in the 60s and 70s to the “global warming” of the 2000s and now to “climate change” when they realized neither of their previous battle cries could be taken seriously, they keep getting everything wrong, yet they still keep making new claims because this is a religion, not a genuine scientifically valid position.  You can start with Paul Erlich’s crazy predictions, made in 1975 at a speech at the British Institute for Biology, where he argued “by the year 2000 the United Kingdom will be simply a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people. If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000 and give ten to one that the life of the average Briton would be of distinctly lower quality than it is today.”  He was entirely wrong.  You can look at the claims made by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 2005 which claimed that imminent sea-level rises, increased hurricanes, and desertification caused by “man-made global warming” would lead to massive population disruptions and that by 2010, more than 50 million “climate refugees” would need to be rehomed elsewhere as those portions of the globe became unlivable.  They were entirely wrong.  Or the Pentagon report in 2003 called “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security” that claimed man-made “climate change” was actually a “national security concern” and predicted that within 10 years, California would be flooded with inland seas, parts of the Netherlands would be entirely unlivable, the polar ice would be all but gone in the summers, and surging temperatures would destabilize the weather system.  That was completely wrong too.  In 2000, David Viner, working at the time for the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), predicted that snow would become virtually unheard of in England and that “children just aren’t going to know what snow is.”  Of course, since then, snowfall, both in the UK and abroad, has been quite healthy, making Viner’s words absurd at best.  Let’s not forget Al Gore’s dire predictions that the polar ice caps would be entirely free of ice by 2013, which is simply not the case.  I can go on and on and on but I think this suffices to show just how ludicrous these claims of anthropogenic climate change really are.

Well, I suppose I ought to address the claims made that scientists all agree that global climate change is happening.  It isn’t true.  Forbes magazine wrote an article where it detailed that the number of wildfires, a typical prediction made by the global warming fanatics, has has fallen more than 15 percent since 1950 and according the National Academy of Sciences, that trend is likely to continue to fall for decades. On droughts, a 2012 study published in Nature admitted there has been “little change in global drought over the past 60 years.” The UN’s own climate “specialists” had to admit that in many regions of the world, “droughts have become less frequent, less intense, or shorter.”  Hurricanes and tornadoes and other severe storms are top of the Chicken Little routine for climate fanatics, but even those aren’t bearing out their claims.  Professor Roger Pielke, Jr. at the University of Colorado points out,  “when the 2014 hurricane season starts it will have been 3,142 days since the last Category 3+ storm made landfall in the U.S., shattering the record for the longest stretch between U.S. intense hurricanes since 1900.” The reality is, “global warming” actually stopped about 18 years ago but the fanatics are still running around the field waving the flag for their cause.  The UN had 73 “climate models”, every single one of which has been soundly discredited.  This isn’t a scientific position, it’s an emotional one, brought on by liberal self-loathing.

It’s also dishonest.  Liberal environmentalists have blind faith that this anthropogenic climate change is happening, just like theists have blind faith that their gods are real.  No matter what happens, it’s evidence for their fanatical beliefs.  If it gets hotter, it’s climate change.  If it gets colder, it’s climate change.  If it stays the same, it’s “climate change pause”.  More storms? Less storms?  More ice?  Less ice?  It’s all climate change.  Reality has no chance of changing their beliefs.

For people who don’t know, “climate change” is a massive business, clocking in at more than $360 billion dollars worldwide every single year.  Liberals have every reason to push it, it makes them money. The whole “green revolution” is a massive money-making campaign to make people feel guilty about the way they’ve been doing things so they can spend way more money on whole new technologies that really aren’t any better than the ones that came before.  Take electric cars.  I’m not going to talk about their inefficiency, I am going to point out that they are not better for the environment than gas-powered cars. The manufacturing of the batteries alone is much, much worse for the environment than just driving your regular automobile and the energy required to charge them comes mostly from coal-fired power plants.  The reality is, it not only isn’t better, it’s arguably worse for the environment but we’re talking about high-emotion and low-information consumers who listen to what their political ideologues say and don’t think a moment before whipping out their hipster wallets.  Politicians are only too happy to pass all the “carbon taxes” they can, they get more money to play with, plus it buys votes from the gullible.

We have environmental issues on this planet to be sure, we need to deal with them as best we can, but running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off, spouting liberal alarmist drivel, doesn’t actually fix any of the problems we actually have.  Maybe it’s time to take a deep breath, take a look at what the data actually says rationally, without all the emotional mumbo-jumbo that typically goes along with these discussions and see what’s actually true and what’s just not justifiable.

Are Americans Stupid?

It seems to me that Americans, indeed humans regardless of where they’re from, have gotten stupider as time has gone on.  There was a time when people were at least marginally intelligent, they had the ability to work out simple problems for themselves and didn’t need their hands held to ponder the most infantile dilemmas.  That’s all changed today, Americans just seem dumber than ever before and the data bears this out.

These are some disgusting statistics.

  • In a Newsweek poll, of U.S. citizens, 29% couldn’t identify Joe Biden as the Vice President, and 44% couldn’t describe the Bill of Rights.
  • Researcher Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary analyzed 300,00 Torrance Creativity Test scores of children and adults in the US. Kim found creativity and IQ scores rose steadily until 1990, and were in decline thereafter, and the most serious decline occurring for the youngest children.
  • A new global study of educational systems in major nations ranks U.S. 15 year olds 14th in the world in reading skills, 17th in science and 25th (below average) in math.
  • According the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, 68% of public school children in the U.S. do not read proficiently by the time they finish third grade. And the U.S. News & World reported that barely 50% of students are ready for college level reading.

Now there are lots of reasons Americans are becoming more stupid, but I’m going to stick with the one I’ve brought up many times in the past, the liberalization of America.  People are becoming more liberal and as such, more stupid.  Unfortunately, when you have all of your questions and all of your problems handled by the government, there’s no reason to actually think about what’s going on in the world around you.

There’s one stat I didn’t list above because it shows that both sides of the political spectrum are not above abject stupidity.

  • 74% of Republicans in the U.S. Senate and 53% in the House of Representatives deny the validity of climate changes since despite the findings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and every other significant scientific organization in the world.

While I’m sure you get some real retards who say there is no climate change whatsoever, the above is purposely misleading by the liberals.  The majority of “climate change deniers” don’t deny that climate change is occurring, only that mankind is the primary, or only, cause of it.  It takes only a short study of historical climatology to find that these things are cyclical, they happen all the time and have done so, not only before man was industrial, but before man even existed.  I won’t deny that we’ve probably played a contributing factor in making global climate change worse, but we didn’t cause it and if we stopped all negative acts, it wouldn’t stop.  The  sun was, at least until very recently, in a warming cycle and the planet is in an active volcanic cycle.  Those two combined together created a warming trend worldwide.  We have no control over the sun or the planet’s core and only an idiot would think that we do.  Unfortunately, some of these wingnut liberals, who have a psychological need to point fingers and place blame for everything that happens, refuse to acknowledge that fact.  They can’t blame the planet so instead, they blame themselves.  Of course, over the past 15 years, the trend has started to reverse and the planet is no longer warming, yet the liberals haven’t gotten it through their heads yet.  The fact that the Antarctic ice pack has rebounded more than 150% increase from just last year, such that a team of global warming fanatics got themselves trapped in the ice for over a week because there was too much ice!

But it’s not just stupid, people are becoming ignorant, rude, obnoxious and pathetic as well.  Basic manners in public seem to be a thing of the past.  If I hold a door for someone, it’s extremely rare to get a “thank you” or any other kind of acknowledgement, they just expect you to do it.  People drive like maniacs, talking on the phone, ignoring the road, acting like they have the automatic right of way at all times because liberalism tells them that they’re special and have no obligation to anyone else.  They don’t have to think about anyone but themselves and they don’t.

Some of this, I can and do lay at the feet of technology.  Kids now grow up not being able to express themselves well verbally because they spend almost all of their time online.  Being exposed to little but net-speak, they lose the ability to communicate intelligently and effectively, as well as the ability to spell proficiently.  That’s sad because they spend their time typing and still can’t do it correctly.  Also at issue is their lack of basic socialization.  When you can hide behind the inherent anonymity of the net, you don’t have to be sophisticated.  You’re free to be socially inept because people can’t pop you in the mouth like you probably badly deserve.  Add to that the rise in claims of autism, which some claim affects 1 in 110 children now, and you’re left with people who are unable to deal with people on a personal level.  Sorry, like it or not, I think that the whole Aspberger thing is a bunch of liberal bullshit.  Yeah, there may be some people who are fundamentally miswired and cannot function socially, but I’d argue that the majority are just anti-social asshats who are, as with so many others, being labeled as “diseased” to get away from the social stigma of being douchebags.  There are far too many people who, not that long ago, would have been deemed in the realm of normal, but today have a “disease” or a “condition” and are treated with drugs.  That honestly should not be necessary.  It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of autistic children were those that rocked back and forth and rarely communicated.  Now, almost everyone is autistic to some degree.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where education doesn’t matter and everyone sits around being entertained by a series of idiot boxes.  That’s not to say that these things can’t be useful or educational but for the most part, they’re not used that way.  They’re just used as mindless entertainment.  There was a time, years ago, when TV networks, as a consequence of their FCC license, had to present a certain amount of educational programming. That’s long gone today and it’s a shame.  There was a time when cartoons were forbidden to be half-hour long toy commercials.  Now, that’s all they are.  Kids are brainwashed from day one to be mindless consumers who don’t think too hard about the garbage coming out of their phones, computers and televisions. It must be true!  It came from YouTube!

I don’t know if this is something that we can solve because society just keeps getting more and more liberal and things keep getting worse and worse.  There seems to be no point in just socializing and having a good time, you see kids sitting in groups, each of them engrossed in whatever is happening on their phone.  They don’t talk.  They don’t play.  They don’t engage each other.  Heck, I have seen kids text each other while standing a few feet apart.  Something is seriously wrong, yet most don’t want to correct anything because they are blinded by the blinking lights and the information overload.

So how do we fix this?  I’d really like some realistic ideas.

Planet of the Apes: An Apt Example

Planet of the ApesRecently, I sat down and watched all five of the original Planet of the Apes movies again.  It has been many years since I’ve seen them, but it immediately struck me that the plot of the first Planet of the Apes movie was very appropriate to the creation/evolution “debate”.

In the movie, Dr. Zaius, chief scientist and defender of the faith, knows the real history of his world, he knows that evolution is true but he can’t bear to let anyone else know.  Instead, he imprisons those who violate the religious order and discredits anyone who doubts the ape scriptures.

Doesn’t that sound pretty familiar?

In the original 1968 film, Dr. Zira asks Zaius, “how can scientific truth be heresy?”  However, Zaius and the rest of the tribunal of orangutan elders holds that it is, no matter how much evidence there might be for it, they refuse to see it.  Near the end of the film, after Taylor and Nova escape into the forbidden zone and Zaius leads troops to recapture or kill them, they come upon a cave where Cornelius had led an archaeological expedition.  There, they found human artifacts including a child’s doll.  Zaius refuses to even go into the cave, he doesn’t care what evidence is there, all he cares about is his doctrinal purity.  In fact, much of what we see in Planet of the Apes is a topsy-turvy replay of the concepts behind the Scopes Monkey Trial.  Today, we see the same thing among modern-day creationists, they can’t possibly be so stupid not to know that evolution is supported by an absurd amount of evidence, they just don’t care.  They are only concerned with doctrinal purity, not factual reality.

One interesting bit from the film that I’d really like to be true comes at the end of the movie when Cornelius, Zira and Taylor take Zaius prisoner and he admits, perhaps not in so many words, that he knows it won’t be long before the old ways come down but he’s going to fight for them for as long as he possibly can.  I’m hoping that today, almost 50 years later, creationism and other such primitive beliefs are in their death throes.  They deserve to be and the sooner they become a relic of primitive human thought, the better.  We’re better than that as a species, isn’t it about time we stop letting these monkey assemblies run the intellectual argument over human origins?  Cornelius and Zira had it right.  Evolution happens.  The orangutans had it wrong.  Religion is nonsense.  Unfortunately, Charlton Heston turned out to be a creationist all along.  I guess you can’t win them all.