Showing 1 - 10 of 113 posts found matching keyword: rant
Sunday 12 July 2020
I finally decided to throw in the towel on my current keyboard. I've never liked it. It's a ergonomic Microsoft Sculpt. While the layout is fine and the sensation of typing is pleasant enough (very reminiscent of a quality laptop keyboard), I can no longer tolerate the latency of the wireless connection. It often takes two presses of a key before it realizes I am typing, which can make both blogging and coding really, really frustrating.
Finally fed up, I decided to replace it with another ergonomic keyboard. I've been using the non-traditional keyboards for over a decade and a half, and I would rather not go back to a standard keyboard if possible. However, it was only after I decided on and ordered a wired Microsoft Ergonomic Keyboard LXM-00001 that I realized I've never actually been fully satisfied with a Microsoft brand keyboard.
My previous keyboard was the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000. It was a monster. I mean the thing was huge. It had so many media and macro buttons that I never used plus a built-in scroll bar. All those superfluous buttons only got in the way. (I'm not especially dexterous. I'm not even not-especially dexterous. Bulls in china shops have better fine motor control than I do.) The 4000 and I never really got along, and the bulky size is what prompted me to by the slimmer Sculpt. At least it was wired.
Prior to the 4000 was the Microsoft Comfort Curve 3000. (Why isn't the model I just ordered a 6000? I guess Microsoft was wary of eventually creating a 9000, a model number best avoided unless you're a huge fan of robicide and daisies.) Unlike the 4000, the 3000 and I got along well enough for a while. I used it for about 4 years, and wore many of the letters off. However, the tactile experience was never great — the keys always felt cheap and loose — and I think it was a lack of funds more than anything else that kept the two of us together for so long.
So why after years of disappointment with Microsoft keyboards did I order another instead of choosing a different brand? I can't answer that question. My first guess would be brain damage. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me four times in a row... maybe it's time for the artificial intelligence to make the decisions for me.
(Footnote: I've had the new keyboard for 24 hours now, and so far so good. Firm buttons and quiet. I'm actually quite pleased with it. Maybe this is why I keep choosing Microsoft: they come out of the box so nice. I'm sure everything will be fine — as long as they don't push any updates to it.)
Monday 6 July 2020
It's election season, and the television is flooded with campaign ads.
I have repeatedly seen an advertisement for Kelley Loeffler's reelection campaign for her U.S. Senate seat in which a young black man extols her virtues not as an embarrassingly rich owner of a sports franchise and a stock exchange but as someone sympathetic to those less fortunate than her. Yet her supporter mispronounces her name throughout the whole commercial. (He says "loff-ler", yet she appears at the end of the commercial pronouncing her own name "leff-ler," almost like she is passive-aggressively correcting him after the fact.) Why would the Loeffler campaign air that? Could they not find a single person who could praise her who actually knew who she was?
Another advertisement for current president Donald Trump's reelection campaign claims that if former vice president Joe Biden wins the election, the United States will go to shit. What condition are we in now? Uncontrolled pandemic, record unemployment, race riots, oh, my! If this shit show is the current administration's idea of greatness, I'll take anyone else, please.
I suppose it's some small comfort that Marjorie Greene isn't adverting over the air in the Metro Atlanta market in her run for the state House of Representatives. Greene has become infamous as a candidate so openly racist that state Republicans have widely disavowed her, which takes some doing considering that the current Republican governor ran on a platform of successfully befouling state citizens' ability to vote. Even Facebook has said Greene has gone too far in her most recent gun-toting ads. When you're too far afield for Facebook, it's time to stop auditioning for a government seat and start looking into some professional mental help.
That said, there's nothing new to watch between those campaign commercials anyway, so maybe I should just leave my television off until December. Being too aware of who's making the decisions that impact my life is bad for my own mental health.
Wednesday 24 June 2020
On May 29, I decided I couldn't put off buying a new chair for my computer desk any longer. I'd broken the wooden chair I'd been using. The last two wooden chairs, I'd used, in fact. What can I say? I sit a lot.
Research was done online. (You may have heard that there's a pandemic on, and I didn't want to visit any showroom and sit in potentially infected chairs.) The purchase was done online, too. I ultimately placed a $200 order via Amazon.com. The seller — who was not Amazon because Amazon doesn't actually sell anything itself anymore — said I should expect it between June 8 and June 11. It did not arrive by June 8. It did not arrive by June 11, either.
On June 12, I finally looked into the FedEx shipping system to discover that the package had arrived in their Georgia distribution center on June 4. It must have liked it there, because it didn't move again.
On June 14, I called FedEx, and the customer service representative took one look at his computer screen and told me that "anything that hasn't moved in that long we consider a lost package." But he couldn't help me find it. Instead, he recommended that I get in touch with the shipper so that the shipper could file a claim. The shipper told me they'd get back to me once they'd looked into it.
On June 18, no one had gotten back to me, but Amazon.com's algorithms finally allowed me to request a refund on an undelivered product. So I did.
On June 20, I got my refund. Now I have my money back, but I'm still sitting in a broken chair. Since Mom had already planned an outing to Costco on June 24, I figured I'd bring home whatever they had available. At this point, I'm willing to sit on just about anything.
On June 24, when I woke up, an email was waiting for me from FedEx. They say the chair had been found and would be delivered to my house. Hooray! I was finally going to get the chair I ordered. I don't know why they were sending it to me after all this time, especially if they had already given money back to the seller, but if it was going to show up at last, I figured I'd accept it and settle up with the seller later. So I went to Costco and didn't buy a chair.
And when I got home, I got an email from FedEx saying that delivery had been delayed. It'll be there on June 25 now, they promise.
That's what I get. I'm going back to Costco tomorrow, and I'm coming home with a chair. If FedEx delivers another, so be it. As the old adage tells us: Two chairs are better than none.
On June 25, the chair was delivered before I could get to Costco. The box was in very bad shape, but the contents seemed well enough. So I assembled it and didn't buy a chair from Costco. But since the chair was finally delivered, I decided that I return my refunded payment to the seller. That proved to be another ordeal.
Long story short, as of July 2, the seller is paid (somewhat slightly less than the original amount), and I have a chair. The new moral here is that patience is a virtue, even when it can be hard to stand for.
Sunday 14 June 2020
I'm an artist with an affinity for history who grew up in the shadow of Stone Mountain, so it should be no surprise that I have a special soft spot for public portraiture sculpture. As you can imagine, I have very mixed feelings about 2020's approach to statues of the past.
Jefferson Davis should be no one's hero. I've been to Richmond, Virginia, and I've seen their monument to a man who defined his political career by trying to force the enslavement of an entire race of men. The monument is a disgusting tribute to the traitorous Lost Cause, and it should have been removed from the public space long before now. Should it be destroyed? It will always have propaganda value for the wrong kind of people; perhaps the only appropriate solution is to melt it down so that it cannot become a subversive icon, the same way there are no longer statues in the wild of Stalin or Saddam Hussein. I have a nostalgic emotional connection to the carving on Stone Mountain, but I rationally accept the world may be a better place without it.
But let's not get carried away. There is a difference between statues dedicated to perpetrators of genocide and hatred and statues of complicated political leaders whose actions have contributed directly to our current freedoms. Without Winston Churchill, whose statue is currently under assault in London because the man had unconscionable views about Indians, it's very likely that the only statues in Britain would be of Adolf Hitler, who wasn't exactly enlightened about race relations himself.
In the past, I've laughed off reactionary arguments that if we allow people to tear Robert E. Lee off his bronze horse, hammers would next come down on monuments to George Washington. Maybe that's not as crazy as I thought. America in 2020 wouldn't exist if Washington hadn't been the man he was in 1776, but he did own slaves in his day and that seems to be criteria enough in the current climate to have him blasted off Mount Rushmore. Washington was by no means a perfect person, but should perfection be the standard for which statue is allowed to stand and which isn't? I can't think of too many idolized men who can clear that bar. Maybe just Christ of the Ozarks, the Lincoln Memorial, and this guy:
So begone with your racist Alexander H. Stephens (no relation) and greedy Christopher Columbus statues if you must, but let's reconsider what modern life might be like without slave-loving Thomas Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase or colonialist Teddy Roosevelt's trust-busting and national park conservationism before we add them to the scrapheap. We could always use the reminder that not all great men who built our civilization were good.
Wednesday 3 June 2020
At approximately 6:30PM, Monday, June 1, 2020, amid a week of national protests and riots against unjust authoritarian force, federal agents forcibly dispersed a televised, peaceful protest in Lafayette Square north of the White House. Mounted armed men, pepper spray, and gas canisters were further used to displace reporters and the clergy of St. John's Episcopal Church, which an arsonist had attempted to burn the night before. Though the Capitol Park Police issued a statement that their actions were taken in direct response to increased violence from protesters, multiple sources would later report that the U.S. Attorney General had given the order that the park should be cleared about half an hour earlier.
At approximately 7:00PM, following a speech in the White House Rose Garden in which he declared himself "an ally of all peaceful protesters" and closed by vowing to "pay respects to a very, very special place," the U.S. President led the Attorney General, other cabinet members, and the White House press pool — who reported on the discomforting effects of lingering gas in the air — on a walk across the conveniently cleared Lafayette Square to St. John's where the president posed holding a bible above his head. Despite this event being obviously pre-planned, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington later confirmed that the White House had not notified the church of any intention to stage the photo op with their building, nor is the president a member of their congregation.
This sequence of events demonstrates that a group of legally assembled Americans, clergy actively practicing their religion, and the free press, were all oppressed by police forces in order to accommodate the whims of an American president hoping to generate an iconic image for purely political purposes. I don't care what political party you support; that's bullshit.
Fuck you, dude.
Saturday 25 January 2020
The Hollywood Reporter reports the totally inevitable news that Disney is remaking Bambi as a "live-action feature" as a "companion piece to its remakes The Jungle Book and The Lion King." I can't tell you how much it bothers me that Disney insists on calling its computer-generated eye-candy "live-action." I also can't tell you exactly why.
A large part of it must be related to my distaste for Disney itself. I once had a great deal of respect for the company that Walt built on the back of an animated mouse. Mr. Disney was an imperfect man, but he really did believe in making disposable entertainment into art. His successors less so. These days, the powers-that-be at Disney are obsessed solely in their quest to be the only entertainment company on earth. They'll do anything that gets them an extra almighty dollar, mostly including exploiting pre-packaged nostalgia for Walt's corpse.
However, a bigger problem is the lie itself. Computers are powerful, but outside of Weird Science, they remain incapable of breathing life into binary code. Nothing about The Lion King was live action, but Disney has been very careful to avoid saying so. (For example, they refused to submit the movie for consideration for Best Animated Feature Film Oscar.) I don't know why. Movies aren't real to begin with, so why mislead people about how they are made?
It increasingly looks like we're living in a post-truth society. The man in the White House can't say two sentences without a lie. Facebook will not restrict political campaigns from spreading intentional, demonstrable mistruths in paid advertising. Enemy states are using face-switching technology to promote propaganda on social media. With politicians already doing such a great job at it, why should we let corporations continue to degrade America's tenuous grasp on "reality" any further?
Sigh. I know I'm over-reacting. It's just promotional press for a movie that I won't watch. (Unless they shoot Bambi this time.) I know I'm just getting old and weary. But these uncontested, re-reported lies are really starting to get to me. It feels like 1984 is getting closer ever day, and now it's coming soon to a theater near you.
Wednesday 13 November 2019
I'm one of those people who, back in 2018, was reluctant to impeaching the sitting President because there was no way the Senate would do anything.
I'm also one of those people who, even though the Senate probably still won't do anything, has become convinced that impeachment is a necessity in the wake of the sitting President actively
soliciting extorting outside influence on the 2020 election.
I'm bothered that a not insignificant portion of America continues to support the President's interest in subverting the democratic rule of law. I want to give my fellow countrymen the benefit of the doubt. I hope it's a simple case of ignorance, either about the law or about what the President admits that he did.
Late in his life, Thomas Jefferson explained that he wrote the Declaration of Independence
"to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent."
Obviously, that worked out pretty well*. May the inevitable Articles of Impeachment be just as successful.
*John Adams rather famously estimated that up to a third of the American population resisted Independence until the bitter end. In any era, some minds can't be changed.
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Sunday 3 November 2019
Mid-season update on Operation Fish Tank: the winless Miami Dolphins were on target in their quest for the first pick in the 2020 Draft until they ran into the one-win New York Jets. The resulting contest was a sad parody of what football is supposed to be.
Coach Brian Flores's season-long compromise between his competitive nature and his owner's desire for Tua Tagavailoa has been to score as many points as possible in the first half then stop playing after halftime. That strategy finally failed him. It's hard to blame him here, as how could anyone expect the Jets to be better at the same tactic? Both teams tried forcing a safety on the other, but the Jets' incompetence could not be overcome.
There are now 4 teams with one win, and the Cinncinnati Bengals lie alone at the bottom of the pile as the only remaining winless team. The Dolphins aren't even in second place among the tied-for-second teams. The NFL uses strength of schedule for draft tiebreakers, and the worst team with the hardest road is the Atlanta Falcons. (Echos of "28-3" continues to resonate.)
(UPDATE 2019-11-05: Oops. I misunderstood that tiebreaker. That should be the worst team with the *easiest* strength of schedule, which isn't Atlanta but Washington. Dolphins still in third, though.)
So here we are at the halfway point of the 2019 season, and it looks like the Miami Dolphins have scrapped all the talent on their team and endured a horrible, losing season... for the third overall pick. At least Atlanta isn't likely to take a QB, right? Right?
Way to find a way to lose at losing, Fins.
Monday 5 August 2019
In the past 48 hours, at least 35 people were shot in Dayton, Ohio and another 46 were shot in El Paso, Texas. Those are the headlines, but they're only the tip of the Titanic-sized iceberg that is gun violence in America.
Excluding suicides, over 26,000 people have been shot in the USA this year to date, which puts us on pace for 44,000 by the end of December. By those numbers, an American has a roughly 1 in 74,000 chance of being shot each year. That's only slightly worse than the odds that you'll die in a motorcycle accident. Except, of course, that to die on a motorcycle, you have to first be *on* a motorcycle. The person who shoots you will generously donate the necessary bullet.
Right now, it seems there's not a whole lot you can do to avoid getting shot. Night clubs, bars, and retail stores seem to attract shooters, but so do schools and churches. Outdoor festivals are popular, and your workplace is a death sentence waiting to happen. Sadly, you're most likely to get shot in your own house by a member of your family, so staying home is no help.
About all you can do for sure is stay away from other people entirely, and even that is no guarantee. My friend Randy, who lives a good fifteen minutes from anything I would call civilization, has had people shoot into his house from the street 100-yards away, apparently just to see if they could. Guns are cool!
Personally, I love attending live sporting events. So far, those have been generally bullet-hole free, but that's clearly only a temporary condition. I hope I don't get shot at a football game. I probably won't; many people ride a motorcycle their whole life without dying on one. But if the worst does happen, know that I was shot doing what I loved: running in panic from someone shooting people. U-S-A!
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Wednesday 5 June 2019
Anyone reading this is likely familiar with the fact that although the character his creators called Superman has been published continually for 81 years, it hasn't always been the same Superman. The vigilante social justice warrior of the 1930s bears little resemblance to the omnipotent policeman seen in comics today.
In reality, those changes over time have often been dictated by publishing trends and a series of lawsuits by Superman's creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, about just what rights they had given DC Comics to profit from their intellectual property. But in comics, those eras have always had hard boundaries, each contained in its own dimension, or "alternate Earth." Until now.
Last month, DC published a story explaining that all of those alternate realities are really the same one, each the natural universe's response to a god-like creature, Doctor Manhattan, changing some of the seemingly random, fundamental forces that drove the creation of each environment. In other words, all those Supermen are aspects of the same being, all of them owned by DC Comics, who finally prevailed against Siegel and Shuster's heirs earlier this decade.
The irony in this situation is that Doctor Manhattan's behind-the-scenes history is just as complicated as Superman's. Manhattan was created in the 1980s by Alan Moore under a contract stipulating he would gain ownership rights of his characters should Manhattan's original appearance ever go out of print for a single year, a condition DC has studiously avoided for three decades and counting.
So Superman's contentious publishing history is being justified through the use of a character with an equally contentious history by a publisher with a contentious history. Forget truth and justice; bald-faced greed is the American Way.