Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Long, Nasty Year

This year started out badly and didn't get a fuck of a lot better. I started with a compressed nerve in my neck, swiftly followed by my mother's death and went on to weeks of persistent illness. I feel like I've been sick the entire year. Now, at the end of December, the compressed nerve is making a comeback. Oh frabjous day...

The company I work for is being dissolved by greedy ideologues who declare - without a scrap of evidence - that outsourcing of course is more economical than having people directly on staff.  The multi-million dollar contracts will be signed sometime in April and then all staff are simply waiting to be absorbed by the IT Borg Services company slurping up their section of the operations or else get laid off. I'm going to take advantage of some job placement training that's due in January/February, then I'm going to start looking. I don't fancy waiting around to be fired. My manager, whose pretty cool, knows what I'm doing and said she'll help with my resume, send me job leads and even do practice interviews if I'd like.

I keep up with the news but have resisted the urge to comment. Pretty much everything I said back in 2008 about the wrong track the respectable people on the Left were determined to take has come true, not that they appear to notice. The Boyz of the Blogz continue to be as shallow, narcissistic, clueless, and self-congratulatory as ever, no matter how many times the Incomparable One and the Shrill One smack them upside the head.

My political perspective doesn't align with most other blogospheric positions, left or right. I am unimpressed by the street rebellions (though I agree with Eric Hobsbawm that it is like 1848 all over again), rolling my eyes at the wasted opportunities of the Occupy movement, and deeply cynical about the antics of hacktivists, from Julian Assange to Lulzsec to Anonymous. A customer of the company the Spousal Unit works for got attacked by Anonymous a while back and it was days of effort to keep the little fuckers from bringing down the site. No, not amused by these hooligans whatsoever.

I watch an allegedly liberal intelligentsia unable to escape its collective fantasy that anyone who rejects Obama can only be doing so because they are racist, not because the guy is to the right of Richard Nixon. No, I won't be placated by the knowledge that the Right is worse - shitty governance is shitty governance even if the choice is that or obscenely shitty governance. It's bad and sad when you realize Nixon would be an improvement.

In the absence of material improvements to living conditions brought about by the Long Recession (which, truth be told, really started when Reagan took office), increasing numbers of people will vote their resentments. If it won't get better, you might as well make other people hurt. The high-minded left doesn't want to consider that the dumb-shit cop who pepper sprayed the protesters at UC Davis is a perfect representative of the portion of the 99% who must be wooed away from the reactionary right if any high-mindedness is to have an actual effect in the world. That's the deep failure of the left in this country since LBJ.

So, that's been this year for me - pain physical and emotional, job stress, and political estrangement.  Instead of blogging, I've been watching old TV shows on Netflix, reading books, cooking lots of amazing things, tracking local food prices, trying to exercise, visiting with my dad, seeing my friends and generally have this thing called a life.

It's kind of nice.


Sunday, May 01, 2011


The news tonight also puts a different light on some of the reshuffling of major posts. The move of Panetta from CIA to Defense makes more sense. If this was an intelligence victory, as seems to be the case, then moving the person in charge of that to head up the remaining operations in the area offers continuity.

Petraeus in at CIA strikes me more as trying to keep him out of the upcoming presidential contest than anything else, though, again, this takes some rethinking. It may be that the general understood he would not be able to contest once OBL had been disposed of as this will be the horse BHO rides to victory next year, and is content to bide his time for 2016.

But the interesting story to tease out of here is what was Panetta's involvement in this operation and why is this leading to him going to replace Gates at Defense rather than have him remain at the CIA?


Bin Laden Dead - Updated

I've already read cynical responses from the anti-Obama contigent (left & right wings) and I think they are missing the real point.

Osama bin Laden is someone who declared war on the rest of humanity and has engaged in the butchery of thousands of people across four continents (North America, Europe, Africa and Asia) for more than two decades. Any justification for his violence was long ago vitiated by the purposeful targeting of ordinary civilians. It matters not that Bush & Cheney and their neocon crew used him as an excuse to engage in their own butchery. In the attack on the World Trade Center, he was attacking the world, not just the US, and everything that modernity stands for, particularly what is best about it - secularism, equal rights, equality before a rational rule of law, and the undermining of fundamentalist power structures.

Will this event be used in opportunistic ways by every political operator under the sun? Duh, and irrelevant.

This person did not care to share the world with the rest of humanity, wishing to arrogate to himself the power of life and death over all others. It is right and just that the world decline to share the world with him.


UPDATE - Interesting news snippet I have only seen in my local fish-wrap:
"An American official says Osama bin Laden was killed in a mansion close to the Pakistani capital. 

A Pakistani intelligence official confirmed that the al-Qaida leader had been killed in Pakistan. "

This news intimates that he has been living in Pakistan under the protection of someone influential for some time.  Time to be following some money.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Updated - Create your own TPL for IE9

Tracking Protection List, that is.  For the IE9 users out there who want a little more fine grained control over what gets delivered to your browser and who have access to web server, you can create your own handy-dandy TPL.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Help Lambert on a Sudden Shortfall

Lambert, the indefatigable person who keeps the wheels in motion at Corrente, is asking for some short term financial assistance due to an unexpected interruption of income.  What has been happening lately at Corrente? Some good stuff:
1. Corrente was the only political blog to cover the Egyptian revolution live, 24/7, from its beginning to the fall of Mubarak. Correntians LostClown and DanPS attended post-Egyptian events in WI and OH, and tweeted them to the Corrente sidebar.
2. Corrente is the only political blog to integrate the 198 techniques of non-violent protext and persuasion with its postings on political events, whether in Egypt or this country.
3. Correntians produce consistently excellent serial content, like Vast Left's American Extremists, the Plantidotians' Plantidote of the Day, the Corrente Review of Games, Hugh's reports on unemployment statistics, PA_lady's reports on fracking, Annals of Career "Progressive" Idiocy, or It's All About The Rents.
4. Corrente excels at calling bullshit, whether on Obama, our famously free press, the legacy parties, or career "progressives." In fact, Corrente is consistently ahead of the curve in recognizing bullshit as bullshit. We knew Obama was a fraud before it was cool.
5. Corrente has assembled an excellent list of long-form guest posters of whom I would single out Stirling Newberry, danps, letsgetitdone and Tony Wikrent (both now Fellows), as well as David Swanson. And I'm sure I'm missing somebody!
6. Corrente has been consistently ahead of the curve on Depression Era/Peak Oil topics like gardening, growing your own food, and home maintenance, as well as the overall theoretical construct of "rent."
7. At Corrente, two candidates for emergent parties continue to be active commenters and posters -- Julia Williams and Warren Mosler -- putting Corrente firmly in the mainstream of American public opinion, where 58% support a third party (although some would say a second).
To which -- appropriating the Versailles subjunctive -- I would add that the 2012 campaign began today. Independent platforms like Corrente will, I hope, be important for those who wish to avoid drowning in the oncoming tsunami of mis- and dis-information from the legacy parties.
Read the whole post, and then fish around in the sofa cushions for some goodness to throw his way.  There are very, very few political thinkers and bloggers in the Left Blogosphere who have contributed as much to keeping critical thinking alive as Lambert has done. 


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cannon Fodder

Just before I mixed up the barley and favas for dinner this morning, I read this article in the LA Times.  It struck me as yet another misguided volley in the food morality wars.

Barley and Favas

It's been a nasty few weeks. I came down with some head cold thing the first week in March that is still clinging on. One major customer called a complete halt to all work and another announced an emergency project that should take two weeks and is being compressed into 4 working days. I have the day off today and I'm making a big grain and legume salad for dinner since the temperature in hovering near 80 degrees.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Chickpea and Potato Curry

This is what we had for dinner tonight.  Details below the fold.

Food Experiment

Something I've been doing over the last few months is keeping a database of food purchases. I'm doing this for a few reasons.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

IE9 Final Release Review

Between the sorrows of my family and the sorrows of the world, I don't feel like writing very much, but I know that it is a habit like any other and to fail to do some encourages me to refrain from any. Technology blogging is simple-minded enough and gets people all worked up, so is a reasonable facsimile of thought for now.

The final version of IE9 came out on Monday and I've been putting it through its paces the last few days. I've watched the browser develop since the first platform preview last year and have liked what I've seen. I didn't expect the final version to be perceptibly better than the RC (Release Candidate), and have been nicely surprised that it is better - more stable, faster. Overall, if you run Windows 7 as your OS, aren't afflicted with Microsoft hatred, and aren't obsessed with having a bazillion widgets, plug-ins and add-ons, you should use this as your primary browser.  The reasons I like it aren't really the BS that the chattering heads in TechnoNewz land like to yammer about.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Revolution 2.Oh Dear

Well, shit. I spend a month mourning a death in the family and all hell breaks loose around the world. That'll teach me to take a break.

Count me among the jaundiced observers of everything from the protests in Madison to the civil war in Libya.

 As someone who makes her living from creating and deploying large scale web-based collaboration sites and always thinking of new ways to incorporate differing communications modes into those sites, I'm distinctly unimpressed by the breathless rah-rah promotion of "social network" tools as some kind of key to a new kind of revolution. If you can Tweet it, they can track it.

Like, duh.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Slowly Returning

Life slowly returns to normal.

I've been watching a lot of stuff from Netflix - on demand and DVDs - as I've been wading through my  emotional detritus these last two months. I cam across a very interesting British detective series I recommend to anyone. It's called Life on Mars and has two very short (by US standards) seasons of eight episodes each. The basic premise is a contemporary police detective, Sam Tyler, is involved in a car accident. He wakes up in 1973, still a police detective in the same city. Much psychopathy ensues. The first season deals with a specific problem from Sam's past (which is the series' present) while the second season tries to provide a satisfactory explanation of what the hell is happening. It is a brilliant bit of story telling.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Rest in Peace Linda Ingrid

My mother died in the early morning of Wednesday, January 26, 2011. It was not a peaceful death, but it came swiftly that morning. She was not religious and rejected most solace as various diseases slowly disintegrated her mortal form starting in her mid-twenties. She had a bleak and unromantic view of life.

Ralph Stanley's a capella version of "O Death" from O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a song she would (grimly) appreciate:

O, Death
O, Death
Won't you spare me over til another year
Well what is this that I can't see
With ice cold hands takin' hold of me
Well I am death, none can excel
I'll open the door to heaven or hell
Whoa, death someone would pray
Could you wait to call me another day
The children prayed, the preacher preached
Time and mercy is out of your reach
I'll fix your feet til you cant walk
I'll lock your jaw til you cant talk
I'll close your eyes so you can't see
This very air, come and go with me
I'm death I come to take the soul
Leave the body and leave it cold
To draw up the flesh off of the frame
Dirt and worm both have a claim
O, Death
O, Death
Won't you spare me over til another year
My mother came to my bed
Placed a cold towel upon my head
My head is warm my feet are cold
Death is a-movin upon my soul
Oh, death how you're treatin' me
You've close my eyes so I can't see
Well you're hurtin' my body
You make me cold
You run my life right outta my soul
Oh death please consider my age
Please don't take me at this stage
My wealth is all at your command
If you will move your icy hand
Oh the young, the rich or poor
Hunger like me you know
No wealth, no ruin, no silver no gold
Nothing satisfies me but your soul
O, death
O, death
Wont you spare me over til another year
Wont you spare me over til another year
Wont you spare me over til another year

For the first time in forty-five years, she is not in pain. Death, you are a bastard.


Edit - Thank you to all of the well-wishers. Be assured I am reading every comment.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Leave of Absence

I'm dealing with a family medical crisis at present. It may end tomorrow, it may be months. It will be a while before I do any serious blogging.

My thanks to those who know what's up and have sent their good wishes.


Monday, January 17, 2011


I'm in absolute, complete, unequivocal agreement with Riverdaughter in her post "failure to discriminate", especially this:
I’ve never seen so much denial in my life. The right was happy as all get out to stomp all over us before this shooting. If it really had nothing to do with it, and I’m not saying it did, why not just admit that it was fun while it lasted? Sarah and Glenn aren’t apologizing. Take credit for the poison. You deserve it!

But if you’re tired of it, like I am, turn off the TV and the radio. Step away from the fight. If you are an FDR type Democrat in Exile like me, this doesn’t have anything to do with you anyway. It’s just two anachronistic, legacy parties going at each other. It has very little to do with how people are living today. It won’t get more people employed, fix our crumbling infrastructure, punish the bankers or end a war. It is a major distraction.

It's called judgment. It exists in its exercise. It is what my class has consistently, persistently failed to do since it decided the last Democratic president was too white, too hick, too Southern, and too transactional for them to deign to support. It's what my political opponents, the Movement Conservatives, refuse to do in their single minded pursuit of power, demonizing anyone who fails to fall in behind their hateful, anti-democratic message.

I've been avoiding the news for the most part this last week because of the opportunistic appropriation of the shooting by the usual political suspects. It's why I've avoided most American political news for the last two years. I think I stopped paying attention to most of the Media Kabuki when the loudest voices of Left and Right decided that whatever was wrong with the country, no matter the specific wrong being mentioned, it was the fault of "liberals". Those damn extremists. Those damn partisans. Those damn centrists. Those damn moderates. Those damn transactional, practical folks who give a little here and take a little there, aren't much in the mood for conspiracies, don't agree with any exterminationist sentiments (left or right), don't like culture wars standing in for political contest, and are getting really, really tired of single-issue, faux-victim politics.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Voices in His Head

A member of my family is paranoid schizophrenic. As I read about Jared Loughner, I think of this relative. There are many points of congruence - the decent but incomplete education, a fascination with intellectual discourse, a seemingly coherent exterior, a deep core of paranoia.

A familiarity with firearms.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Good Thoughts

Thanks to everyone for all of the warm wishes and helpful advice.

I've been to the doctor and there don't appear to be any complications like a growth or bone damage (I was in a minor car accident not so long ago), so rest and physical therapy will be the course of action.


Saturday, January 01, 2011

The New Year

I've been unable to post recently due a severely pinched nerve in my neck that has rendered any motion in my left arm and hand excruciatingly painful.

In lieu of posts from me, and probably a far better exchange, I recommend reading the articles of the most recent New York Review of Books. The edition is solid from top to bottom. Among my favorites:
  • Where do we go from here? Paul Krugman and Robin Wells repeat the call for a primary opponent to Obama, providing the political and economic rationale for it to happen. Their theme of delinking is one I have tried to work with recently, but have been held back by the nerve problem.
  • Why Wikileaks Changes Everything - Christian Caryl delves into many of the same themes I raised early on, particularly the political implications of the indiscriminate release of government data. I particularly like the evaluation of Assange as an incoherent twit, which has been my estimation all along.
  • The Concealed Battle to Run Russia - Amy Knight makes excellent use of some leaked diplomatic cables in her review of a book on Russian politics. You want a picture of a truly criminal state? Cheney could only dream of this level of power.
  • The Beleaguered Cambodians - Margo Picken provides a look at another criminal state. This one goes into the ways in which imperial & colonial powers have abetted a local elite to rob the nation blind. 
  • China: From Famine to Oslo - Perry Link discusses two new novels by Chinese writers in the context of the Nobel Peace Prize being awarded to Liu Xiaobo. As with the articles on Russia and Cambodia, the author goes into life in a repressive, authoritarian state, discussing the reality of life for people who truly are oppressed, spied upon, imprisoned, tortured and murdered by their governments, and how they respond to this condition. These articles individually and together serve as a useful corrective to the denizens of the Left blogosphere wringing their hands and bemoaning the horrible, horrible behavior of the US Gubmint against Our Hero Julian and who might just be coming after poor little ME next! Get a grip, people.
  • Curveballs - Joseph Lelyveld's review of Bush's account of his administration. Cool, almost cold, it eviscerates W's self-exculpation. The final paragraphs on exchanges between W and Bush 41 are particularly good.
  • No Thanks for the Memories (access for NYRB subscribers only, but first few paragraphs are available) - Gordon Wood provides a much needed counterpoint to professional liberal pundits' mocking dismissal of the Tea Party by talking about the difference between fact and meaning in cultural memory.
Anyway, I hurt and don't know when that will change. I hope your new year is starting out better than mine.