Monday, January 16, 2017

Dear Dr. Zuckerberg

Mark,

The user should have the option to set the default on his News Feed. When I choose Most Recent, it goes back to Top Stories the next day. Even with Most Recent selected now, the stories in my News Feed are ordered 9 hrs ago, 46 mins ago, 7 hrs ago, 41 mins ago... Back off a little, okay? Facebook can't know which stories I, personally, consider top stories, so I would like Most Recent to remain the default. I'll change it to Top Stories when I want. But don't control the user's experience to the point where Most Recent doesn't even produce the most recent. Please allow Most Recent to remain the default, and realize that any reason you would give for not allowing that would be Big Brother talking.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Inform the Electors

My message to President Obama via the whitehouse.gov contact page:


In a situation like this, it isn't appropriate to be politely nonpartisan with regard to the intelligence on Russia's influence on the election. If the Electors would change their minds regarding the scope of the influence when given access to the intelligence, and they are denied access, then they are being forced to make their electoral decision "blind." I'm surprised by your decision to decline to make the information available to the Electors. It's one thing to declassify the information, and we understand your reluctance to do that. But the intelligence is precisely relevant to the decision the Electors will be making. It's recently been said by individuals from both parties that this isn't a partisan issue, it's a constitutional issue. Please rethink your decision regarding the intelligence. The information is precisely relevant to the decision the Electors will be making. They need to be able to make an informed decision.

While I'm at it, I want to thank you for eight years of level-headed even-handedness. Even in the face of ad hominem verbal abuse from a good percentage of the American population and petulant resistance from legislators, you, like the Queen, have never "put your foot wrong." It's been amazing to see you continuing to be positive and professional. We will greatly miss your leadership.


Monday, December 05, 2016

The Whitelash Cycle

Sounds like a new style of eye makeup. An article on CNN.com, "This is what 'whitelash' looks like," explains that the term refers to the white backlash that historically has occurred after every era when progress against racism has been made. I wasn't aware of this historical pattern before reading the article, but in thinking about it now it's fairly clear. Reconstruction after the Civil War, the post-war era from 1865 to 1877, was a time when former slaves gained more influence in the country. The article's author, John Blake, says that a century of Jim Crow followed the Reconstruction. He continues "The civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s was followed by President Ronald Reagan and the rise of the religious right." The article was also enlightening for me regarding Obama's presidency, the he isn't "post-racial" but "post-Reconstructionist," with Trump's election echoing the whitelash that occurred in the fourth quarter of the nineteenth century. Hm. It's difficult to analyze history while one is in it.

My own belief, actually deeply held, is that the outcome of the Civil War was the wrong one. There should be, right now, a nation called the Confederate States of America existing beside the USA as peacefully as Canada does. How hard is that to visualize? Crossing the national boundary into the CSA and back again would be no more difficult than entering Canada from Washington State. "Anything to declare?" As it is currently, those we identify as Southerners, which is a term becoming increasingly diffused as that population moves around, also deeply hold the belief that the outcome of the Civil War was the wrong one. For many of them, now, their experience is that they have a dual citizenship, because many believe deeply, down where God and love and country reside, in the deepest part of the heart, that the Confederate States of America was never completely dissolved and still exists in spirit. Evidence of that is the number of Confederate flags currently flying. Dual citizenship is obviously okay and a lot of people are in that situation. The problem comes in when those citizenships conflict. If citizens of the CSA feel that the spirit of the CSA is embedded within the definition of the USA, then they're patriotic for and fiercely supportive of the USA. But if the USA is defined as a forward-thinking nation whose responsibilities and privileges relate equally to all her peoples, their CSA citizenship takes precedence. And actions that could be considered treasonous in one nation may be considered heroic in the other.

The problem of conflicting allegiances probably can't be solved. The constitutional, legal, financial and logistical hurdles keeping the Confederacy from peacefully, bloodlessly seceding from the US now are probably insurmountable. But I can't think of anything that would generate more euphoria among Southerners, especially the straight white Christian blue-collar males who are diehard Trump supporters, than the South actually rising again. Even the return of Jesus in glory wouldn't be quite as exciting for them as the Confederacy peacefully, legally becoming a real entity. If SWCMs feel disenfranchised in the modern world of immigration, workplace equality, and automation, finding a way to make the Confederate States of America a reality—without bloodshed and with the assistance of legal professionals all the way up to the Supreme Court—would give that whole population something to focus on and work toward, a monumental, historic effort in which to take great pride.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Rather Than Skewering Republicans

My email to Rachel Maddow:


Here's something I've been thinking about for a while. Instead of skewering conservatives for the falseness of their claims and for their wealthy-favoring policies, what if we focused instead on conversion? I know it sounds dumb, and I am naive enough to think of something like that. But while I watch you and Chris Hayes and all being uncompromising in your fact-checked roasting of the right wing—and you are world-class in generating moral outrage and/or unbelieving laughter in your viewers—I'm thinking that the very entertainment-value itself is what keeps people on the right from watching your show and learning something. It probably doesn't even cross the minds of most conservatives to watch TRMS because of how the right is ridiculed, although I do remember from a while ago some conservative Congressmen referring to the individual dressing-down they got from your show as a rite of passage. But generally TRMS and All In and all are environments where only masochistic conservatives would venture. While I'm listening to you presenting lucid arguments against different aspects of the right's agenda, I'm thinking "Conservatives should be hearing this!" But the way the information they'd benefit from is presented, they would only feel extremely insulted and as a result would shut out the information. For your typical viewers, it's like emotional support to hear their complaints against the right couched in arguments that are so logical they make the right look ridiculous. But still I frequently think "Conservatives should be hearing this."

I suppose it has to be this way. Your viewers expect skewering of the right. They'd be annoyed if you spent the entire show politely trying to convince conservatives to see the falseness of the right's arguments and you then held an invitation at the end for any conservatives who wanted to convert, they could call the number on their screen. "Call in the next twenty minutes and we'll send you a..." Even having a conservative-friendly segment of the show probably wouldn't work. I doubt they'd tune in even if you identified an upcoming segment as "Safe for Republicans." It's a conundrum. The very information they should hear to get a clearer picture than they get from Fox News, is bristling with comical insults aimed at them. It probably has to be this way. But I just wanted to pass the thought along to you, although I doubt I'm the first viewer who has brought this up. It does seem now that, when the right realizes that Trump isn't going to keep very many of his campaign promises, it would be a time when they would be slightly more willing to listen to the left. Just a thought.

I also wanted to mention that everything I know about the Electoral College overturning the popular vote in the Harrison-Cleveland election I learned from The One and Only Genuine Original Family Band. Disney, 1968. It's a hoot. You might even find yourself singing along. [I saw the film in 1973 and still remember some of the lyrics. "Let's put it over with Grover. Don't rock the boat, give him your vote..." Don't ask me why.]

Sunday, November 27, 2016

PCs to the Back of the Bus

Dear Dr. Apple:

Have you thought of this? Picture an Apple store in a mall with a sign over the door that reads "Whites Only." Picture in another part of the mall an electronics store with a sign over the door that reads "Colored Only." Have you thought about that? It's amazing that Apple is continuing with its separate-but-superior OS segregation policies. It should be easy by now to flow from Windows-based applications to Mac-based applications. There shouldn't even be the Mac/PC dichotomy anymore. But there still isn't the free flow of equals between the two segments of the population because a wall is in place intended specifically to make access to Mac applications difficult for Palestinians, I'm sorry I meant Mexicans, I'm sorry I meant PC users.

It's well past time for Apple to drop its elitism and stop positioning the Mac in the marketplace as if it's a purely Aryan race of computers. That kind of elitism is more attuned to the world of the 1950s. I can easily picture people who were vehemently opposed to school desegregation flocking to stores that sell these clean white machines assiduously designed to appear different from and better than the hordes of common machines in the other stores. That's how we thought then. But now?

The sleek white surfaces of the Apple product line look so sophisticated and forward-thinking and uncluttered by the past. But beneath those surfaces? It's just old white guys being themselves.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

MoveOn.org's Electoral College Petition Is Back

I haven't been this motivated to be political since Dubya's reelection campaign. (The war we could not stop, the reign we could not end.) It seems that every time I sit down to my computer now I see something or other that triggers a need to respond. This too shall pass. Or something like that. The MoveOn.org petition to tell the Electoral College to cast their votes for Hillary was taken down yesterday, and I sent them a message on the order of "I can't believe you did that!" I see that the petition is back online now but all of the previous signatures must have been deleted. They sent out an email this morning asking for financial support and they made no mention of the petition being back online. I went to the site to check that it was still down and found it online again. This is my reply to the fundraising email:
MoveOn totally messed up when they took down the Electoral College petition. I couldn't believe it. In my previous note I speculated that you'd been infiltrated by a conservative plant or two. I don't know if that's the case or if it was just wanting to appear less like sore losers. In most cases I would agree that being a good loser is the best strategy, but the Trump campaign has been outrageous.

Thank you for bringing back the petition! I see that it's down to 50,000 signatures now. I think I remember it being over 200,000 when I signed it the first time. Let's hope momentum can propel this petition past the highest total number of signatures of the previous petition.

Thanks again for bringing it back!

Saturday, November 12, 2016

It's Worse Than We Thought

Scrolling through the news articles on Yahoo, I saw this headline: "The Mike Pence (Donald Trump) Assault On LGBTQ Equality Is Already Underway." It linked to an article by Michelangelo Signorile, Queer Voices Editor-at-Large at Huffington Post. I may have read the entire article without blinking. OMG. Who knew? They're speculating that Mike Pence "could be the most powerful Vice President ever." More powerful than Chaney? Is that physically possible? Signorile writes "Mike Pence is perhaps one of the most anti-LGBTQ political crusaders to serve in Congress and as governor of a state. Long before he signed the draconian anti-LGBTQ 'religious liberty' law in Indiana last year, he supported 'conversion therapy' as a member of Congress, and later, as a columnist and radio host, he gave a speech in which he said that marriage equality would lead to 'societal collapse,' and called homosexuality 'a choice.'" The article is especially unsettling because we believe we've been making halting progress through the years since the turn of the century, that the population has been gradually, grudgingly accepting new ways of thinking about certain segments of the population. But all along there have been influential people plotting ways to roll time back and undo that progress because they feel this progress has been an ooze downward toward depravity rather than a march upward toward enlightenment. Signorile advocates moving through the grieving process quickly and beginning the fight to retain the progress we've made.

I shouldn't scroll down to look at the comments at the end of articles. I know better. I'll have to break that habit if I'm going to get anything else done besides blogging, tweeting and facebooking. But one reply to a comment after this article was just so... dumb that I had to respond:
Kiran Suresh · Los Angeles, California
I'm not afraid of Trump because I know he will do nothing. I'm worried about a republican dominated house and conservative SC which could roll back years of progress. And everyone knows Pence is the scariest wolf in the White House.

Tim Daugherty · Jamison, Pennsylvania
Kiran Suresh: Yes, we need to roll back soooo many things liberals have put into place! This is should not be viewed as a fear but rather the consequences for losing an election to conservative issues. The DOW is up huge... but I guess you do not look at those things.

John Evan Garvey · Burbank, California
Tim Daugherty: I imagine Jamison is in central Pennsylvania? Do you own cows yourself? I imagine you're married; nope, looking at your profile you appear to be single. You don't know what your girlfriend or your mom is really thinking about the reduction of women's rights that appears to be coming. She hasn't told you what she's really thinking because she knows better. You have an LGBT brother or sister or niece or nephew or cousin who hasn't told you because they know how you'd react. So much going on around you that you don't know about. And you're thinking "It's a man's world again!," meaning straight white Christian man's world. There are people whom you love, who are close to you, whom you are hurting with your support of a narrow conservative agenda. The soooo many things liberals have put into place have benefited people you love. When those rights are taken away, it will hurt them, but they won't let you know that, because they know better.

Say It Often Enough, It Becomes True

An informative article by Neil Buchanan on the Newsweek site: The Cruel 'Crooked' Caricature That Doomed Clinton. Very interesting reading. He trashes the media on the left and right equally, so Conservatives could benefit from reading the article too without feeling too much nausea.

At the end of the article, the Comments section shows that there are currently 600 comments. A reply to the first comment started a long, long thread of people telling the replier how stupid she is. And it rolled on and on. Following are the first comment and the first two replies:
James Johnson
Wow. Rush Limbaugh was right, as usual. The leftist, leg-humping-poodle media is simply incapable of any semblance of balance or introspection. They continue to run interference for a miserable, socialist, elitist candidate.

Sheila Merritt · Darby High School
AS soon as you praise Rush Limbaugh that qualifies you among the thoughtless ditto heads.

Carl Savant · Lamar University
Sheila Merritt: And you sound like PeeWee Herman! "I know you are, but what am I? No real response to anything. Typical Demo"scat"!
Lots of anger addressed directly to Sheila in the long scroll downward. I came to a comment with a picture of Princess Leia from Episode IV as the avatar of the comment writer, and I wrote a reply but it appears several comments down from that one:
Nancine Pike
Sheila Merritt: Dare you to listen for 6 weeks every day...Your bubble will burst.

John Evan Garvey
Nancine Pike: Listen to Rush for six weeks to burst the bubble, Princess Leia?? Coughcoughhack, sorry pardon me, you caught me by surprise there. Ahem. Okay, here's a counter: Listen to Rachel Maddow for six weeks every day. Picture that. You would spend every hour saying "Lies, lies, lies, lies..." Wouldn't you. But then, if someone meticulously went through the two show transcripts and fact-checked, you wouldn't like the outcome. Rachel is a meticulous researcher. Even after fact-checks, though—fact-checks—you would still find a way to keep your bubble intact.
A little ways further down the page is a comment that ended with a reference to Christianity and I replied to that:
Steve Peck
Steven Dickerson: It’s true Rush Limbaugh had the misfortune, to get hooked on pain pills prescribed after botched back surgery. When this happens the left tells us that such failings by conservatives negates the validity of their arguments. No they don’t. A lapse in judgment is not an invalidation of one's principles. Nor, does it make a person immoral or unethical. A continuous pattern of behavior defines character and people like you have defined theirs for over half a century. Their complete lack of compassion and desires to humiliate and misrepresenting things like Rush’s misfortune as moral failure speaks more about your character than his. For people like you, the concept of redemption, like the golden rule and civil rights, is only to be applied to other leftists. A KKK leader can be the “dean of the Senate” if he’s a Democrat because redemption is only for your own.
   Where did the left get the idea that only perfect people can exalt virtue? Certainly not from Christianity, which assumes we are all sinners.

John Evan Garvey
Steve Peck: Excellent cherry-picking technique. That takes skill and practice. Now, picture Jesus having dinner frequently with Muslims and Mexicans. Can you? I really think that, if Jesus were here on Earth today, that would be a familiar image. "Wine-bibber" would be replaced with "alcoholic" wouldn't it? I expect you would be totally disappointed with Jesus, today, not being very Republican. If you want to pull Christianity into the discussion, Jesus gets pulled in along with it. (I'm a grad of BJU and I aced all their doctrine courses, so proceed with theological caution.) Jesus represents some awkwardnesses for the right. He doesn't quite fit. Picture Trump giving a speech with Jesus nearby. If He looked like He disagreed with Trump on some point, would Trump call Him corrupt? I do believe Jesus would shush all the liberal indignation over Trump's groping women, but He probably would then say "Go, thou, and sin no more." Or "Yo, Donald, don't think of women like that anymore." Oh, you mean 'Dean' Robert 'Pork Barrel' Byrd? He filibustered the Civil Rights Act and supported the Viet Nam war. Quite a character. Sounds like he was in the wrong party. You can claim him if you want.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

MoveOn.org's Petition to the Electoral College

MoveOn.org has posted a petition to tell the Electoral College to vote for Hillary.

The site displays this note: "MoveOn volunteers reviewed this petition and determined that it either may not reflect MoveOn members' progressive values, or that MoveOn members may disagree about whether to support this petition. MoveOn will not promote the petition beyond hosting it on our site."

The comment I added to my signature was "I know this seems like we're sore losers, and I wouldn't advise this for a less outrageous candidate. But this is Constitutional. This is what the Founding Fathers provided for a case like this."

My email to Rachel Maddow regarding this petition:

I'm sure you've been sent this link to MoveOn.org's petition to tell the Electoral College to cast their votes for Hillary, many times. I can also understand your reluctance to advocate this course of action.

Please consider adding your influence to this movement, Rachel. Please. It isn't that we can't tolerate losing elections. Of course we can. We survived the Dubya years. It's because this candidate has stated such outrageous intentions that the situation is more serious than usual. The fact that Hillary won the popular vote would serve to bolster the unprecedented move of having the Electoral College delegates vote independently. If it were explained clearly enough to the public that this is an extremely unusual situation, the rioting might be minimized.

Please consider advocating this solution to a very serious problem. Four years of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress blocking the White House and getting nothing done is not a pleasant prospect.

The Electoral College is EXACTLY what's needed now

The comment I left on Michael Moore's blog post "Day Two's To-Do List":


#5: Absolutely. #6: Wrong, Michael. Wrong, wrong, wrong. It's now for the Electoral College to perform the function for which it was created, to protect the people from themselves. The Electoral College was put in place to prevent the direct election of a charlatan. The expectation was that delegates to the College would cast their votes for the appropriate candidate in spite of the popular vote majority being for the scoundrel. In this case, with Hillary as the winner of the popular vote, it's even more essential that the College perform its intended function. The majority voted for Hillary and it's clear that the declared winner is unfit for office. The Electoral College should do its job. Killing the College would only leave the system open to future Trumps being elected directly by popular majority.

Michael, if you persist in pushing for the elimination of the Electoral College through the ponderous amendment process, it will deflect attention from the College doing its job NOW. The casting of delegate votes for Hillary instead of Trump would solve the problem quickly and would employ the safeguards the Constitution's framers provided us with. PUSH for the Electoral College to elect Hillary. It's legal, it's Constitutional, and it would provide an instantaneous fix to the problem. With your influence and public profile, you would help the process immeasurably. Would you shift your focus to UTILIZING the Electoral College now? Please? People will listen to you. Please do this!


[Note: Since my previous blog post, I found an article on Salon that addressed the questions I'd posed to Rachel Maddow.]

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Snuggie time?

My email to Rachel Maddow today:


Are you going to wear your Snuggie on the show tonight? Seems like all of us in your audience need to hunker down with some comfort food to help ease the pain of the election loss last night. I remember you wearing your waders on the show once, and your Snuggie made at least one appearance in the past. Of course I can just as easily picture you appearing on the show tonight in mourning black with a black veil draped over a very stylish wide-brimmed black hat, looking like you stepped out of a Dynasty rerun. In any case, we'll be looking to Aunt Rachel for comfort tonight.

One point that's been nagging at me a little since the Dubya reelection was the intended role of the Electoral College. In my thinking, the Framers of the Constitution probably created the Electoral College as a buffer to protect the people from themselves when they've been induced to elect a charlatan/scoundrel type to the White House. By having them elect delegates, rather than the President directly, the Founding Fathers offered us a final opportunity for common sense to prevail, with the expectation that the more-educated delegates would cast votes for an appropriate candidate. At the time, in 2004, I thought the Electoral College had failed to perform the function for which it had been designed. Why have an Electoral College if the delegates are bound tightly to the popular vote? What would be the point? And this election seems to be even more in need of the Electoral College protecting the people from themselves. Does this idea relate at all to the thinking of the Founding Fathers, or is this just something that wandered into my head on its own? It just seems kind of odd to me that the College would be set up originally just to echo the popular vote. The people elect delegates rather than the President directly. So? Some civics professor a long time ago may have planted in my head the idea of the people being protected from themselves by the Electoral College, but I don't remember. Just thought I'd ask.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A Little Red Flag for Gamers

A comment I left for a YouTube video demonstrating GTA5 with very realistic, detailed graphics.


Um, the closer the graphics get to real life, the closer you come to murder. [Shrugs] You don't like hearing that, but now that the NPCs aren't cartoon characters anymore, you can't really use the defense "Nobody dies in a video game." It's creepy to the rest of us that you find bystanders being popped like water balloons funny. No, you're right, video games don't make people violent. They already are.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Apples and Orangutans

A comment I left after reading Survey Finds High Support for Communism Among Millenials by Nicole Russell:


Nicole, what we usually refer to as communism and socialism are actually totalitarianism pretending to be communism or socialism. In its fundamental form, socialism doesn't have anything to do with murder. The mass murders and imposed poverty of these societies result from the totalitarian regimes controlling these societies, and those regimes, living in luxury, are hardly socialistic or given to sharing everything in common. Differentiate between ideologies. Lumping everything non-capitalistic under "mass-murder-enabling ideologies" is too simple and easy. It's lazy writing. I'm not a big fan of socialism, since hundreds of years of people attempting it and failing indicate that humans are too self-oriented for it to work, but I have to object to your lumping Bernie Sanders socialism with the former Soviet Union and similar totalitarian societies. Completely different animals.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Ol' Rockin' Chair'll Get Me

The self-description I submitted on my application for membership to the Creative Talent Network, an online group based in Burbank for artists in the animation industry:


My reel of LightWave models is at https://vimeo.com/159571874 and includes two of the models I built for Dan Dare and Max Steel when I worked briefly at Netter Digital just before it closed. I abandoned 3D modeling in 2004 because it was a crowded field in a lousy economy, and I went into web and print graphics. But my head never completely left 3D. Even though I'm not overly interested in the animation on the screen now (why all the bathroom humor?), I nonetheless would love to work on the beautiful interior and exterior environments in which some of those scenes take place. Game environments can be beautiful too (like GTA5), but I'm disgusted by the violence in games.

Talented, but I don't know what to do with it or how to use it. All I've gotten since college is "Thanks, but we were looking for someone with a little more experience." I thought becoming involved in a group like this might help me move forward. But here I expect I'll get "We're sorry, but you need to have a few more production credits under your belt." What to do, especially now that I've turned 60? I suppose find a rocking chair and daydream wistfully about what could've been.