The Invisible Line Has Been Crossed

Trump signs an Executive Order (EO) to bar entry to anyone from one of seven nations (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan.)
Federal Judge Issued Stay Against Trump’s Seven Country Ban.
Department of Homeland Security Refuses to Follow Judge’s Stay.

The Invisible Line.

Trump signed an EO stating that no refugees would be allowed into the country from anywhere for 120 days, no one would be allowed in from Syria permanently, and that for 90 days NO ONE would be allowed into the country from any of seven countries (Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen). No matter who they are. Whether they had green cards, permanent visas, were dual-citizens, or otherwise,

If you don’t already know, this last one violates the Fifth Amendment of our Constitution (also known as Habeus Corpus). Trump didn’t care. Lawyers from the ACLU, NIR, and others spent the night writing up a brief to challenge this, and managed to get a Federal Judge to issue a “stay”. This stay prevented the DHS from sending anyone from those seven countries who were in-transit or already here back.

The Invisible Line.

Or it was supposed to. As you can read, the DHS said that nothing the judge did prevented them from following through on Trump’s EO. And one person has already been sent back despite the stay. It really took thousands of people in major cities to flood their airports last night and block this from happening. These protests were quiet, peaceful, and in some places still ongoing.

Imagine, if you will, having been born in Iran, and then your family moving to America when you were 1 yr old. You know NOTHING about anything to do with Iran other than what the grandparents tell you…you are an AMERICAN.

The Invisible Line.

And now Trump is telling you that you are not allowed to come back to your home country after visiting the relatives. That is a violation of the 5th AND 1st Amendment. Punishing you for something that you have nothing to do with, simply because some of your relatives are Muslim (you may not even follow Islam!).

We have crossed that Invisible Line.

And we must hope that it will not conclude with Civil War.
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The Invisible Line

“It’s time to celebrate our democratic process and respect what I see to be the ultimate outcome of the closest North Carolina governor’s race in modern history.”

This is part of the speech that Gov. Pat McRory gave today as he conceded the race of North Carolina governor to Roy Cooper. Cooper had obtained over 10,000 more votes than his opponent, but McRory insisted on a recount in Durham County anyway. The results didn’t change.

It is a tradition in this country to accept the winner of a democratic election. In fact, it is a cornerstone of the election process of ANY democracy. If you don’t, then what you are basically saying is that you don’t accept the people’s right to make their choice.

But what happens when that majority choice (however large or small) also flies in the face of everything that we, the people, consider right and proper according to our country charter (such as the Constitution of the United States)?

This happened in the 1930’s in Germany. You remember that leader…Adolf Hitler. But Hitler did not take power through force. He was a DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED LEADER. The people put him into the office of Chancellor. And, using all of the legal means at his disposal, plus his charismatic ability to manipulate the masses, he was able to gain power over both the civilian and military roles (which in Germany were separated into two offices) and suspend certain checks and balances so that he could become a dictator.

It was all done legally, by the book, with the law on his side.

Many wondered how the German people could have let Hitler rise to power and become the ruler he was. So many blame the German people for not paying attention, secretly wanting all of this anyway, etc.

But I ask you, where was the line beyond which they should have known? Look back in history and point out to me the actual act at which point the people of Germany should have revolted against Hitler and, more importantly, what argument they could have used against the legal process he was using?

And then look at today. Tell me, where is the line? What argument can you use RIGHT NOW to convince the majority of Americans that Trump is turning our country into a fascist state, in the face of a perfectly legal election process. When will you take up arms and refuse to recognize him as your leader?

Not so easy to see that line, is it? That’s because while you’re in the throws of the action, that line can be pretty damn invisible. That line is hindsight…which is 20/20.

So the next time you want to “dump Trump”, think about Germany in the 30’s. And consider where that line really is…and whether history will say we’ve already crossed it.

Why California is the Key to the Democratic Primary

[EDIT: So, all of the comments online about California being a winnter-take-all primary...only for the Republicans. Turns out that no one wants to talk about how the Democrat Primary is a proportional system by Congressional district. No statement on the California Secretary of State website, no statement on the California Democrats website. THAT'S not good. However, it also doesn't change the importance of California...just makes it a little more flexible. Oh, and New Jersey is a combo...propotional for some of their delegates, state-wide "winnter-take-all" (in a weird way) for the others. But, hey, it's Jwersee, right?]

The 2016 Democratic Primary has been incredibly confusing, not the least because of the media itself. As much as we try to remember that the media provides us with information to help us make our decisions, each piece is written by human beings, and many of those individuals aren’t interested in facts…they are interested in getting their opinions accepted.

A great example is the headline I read today by some online blog called Common Dreams (never heard of it before). “Clinton to Californians: Your Votes Will Not Affect the Democratic Primary Whatsoever”. The site is VERY one-sided in their language. However they are absolutely correct this time that “Chris Cuomo had the temerity to use conditional language in speaking of Hillary Clinton’s chances of becoming the Democratic nominee for President.”

Because the California Primary is THE KEY to the Democratic Nomination.

Certainly Hillary Clinton knows this. Certainly Bernie Sanders knows this. But unfortunately a lot of Democratic voters don’t, because of the way that the media constantly talks about the Delegate counts between the two. So I’m going to make it very clear.

If Hillary Clinton wins the California Primary, a take-all delegate Primary, the game is over, and Sanders has lost.

Here is where Clinton and Sanders stand right now. Clinton has a total of 1768 Pledged Delegates; Sanders has a total of 1494. The difference is only 274 Pledged Delegates. So, why don’t I include the Superdelegates? Because, at this time, they don’t have ANY importance to the race…or at least, they shouldn’t.

At the King County Convention in Washington State, Democratic Senator Patty Murray stated that there has been NO Democratic National Convention where the Superdelegates did not vote for the candidate with the majority of support (she did not say whether the support came from Pledged Delegates or the popular vote, but I think it would be rare that they wouldn’t be the same). And she is correct, simply because it’s so rare that there has been a contested election at the Democratic National Convention.

If one does the research (and I have) one finds that the last time a contested elected occurred was in 1992. Bill Clinton’s first run for president resulted in a contest at the Democratic National Convention against Former California Governor Jerry Brown, Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas, and four others (receiving 1% of the vote each). Bill Clinton was the clear majority winner of the Pledged Delegates, with over 1000 entering the convention, while his nearest competitor had only around 500 (I couldn’t get exact figures because they are not easily available online). Bill Clinton swept the convention, taking all (or most all) of the Superdelegates with over 3300.

Since then, all contenders have withdrawn before the National Convention occurred, including in 2008 when Hillary Clinton withdrew in early June, after the last of the primary/caucuses had completed, know that with 102 pledged delegates between her and Obama, the Superdelegates would STILL vote for him. Because he was the clear majority winner.

So, back to the current race. What’s left? A handful of states and colonies (did I just say that?) that total 781 Pledged delegates. California is the key, because it will give 475 to the winner.

IF Clinton wins California, she has won the primary race, and the nomination. The remaining Pledged delegates, 306, will not be enough for Sanders to overcome that number AND her current lead. And the Superdelegates will vote for her.

IF Sanders wins California [EDIT: or a large part of California], he MIGHT still lose, but the chance will be small. With that 475, his lead will be 201. She will have to get almost all of the remaining states/colonies to beat him. And the race will end up being so close that we might, for the first time, in a quarter century, find out just what the Superdelegates will do when the race is not so clear.

IF Sanders wins [Edit: the majority of] California and New Jersey, the race is over and Sanders has won. Again, the majority will be clear, and Clinton will not be able to overcome the Superdelegate support of Sanders.

THIS is why California is so important. This is why California is key. And this is why Hillary Clinton doesn’t want anyone to think that the California Primary will not affect the Democratic Primary whatsoever. Because it will. And she’s afraid she’ll lose.

Treatise on Love: Selflessness

I'm going to be writing several different posts on love: what it is, how to express it, how to accept it, etc. I figure I'm old enough I can do that now ;) So, here is the first one, on Selflessness.

The act of loving someone requires the ability to express several different things. One of those very important expressions is Selflessness.

Selflessness is the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of another, motivated by no concern for yourself. A selfless act involves you deciding that the action you are performing, the statement you are making, whatever you are doing for another person is because you believe that it is in the other person's best interest and not your own.

Committing a selfless act doesn't mean that you blindly make up whatever you think might be in the best interest of the person, either. Just doing what YOU THINK is nice for another isn't very selfless…you've forgotten to include what THEY THINK in the process.

This, of course, means that they have to provide you with some kind of feedback. How do you know whether what you are doing is in their best interest if they never provide you any feedback to let you know that it is, or tell you that it is to begin with? You are acting blindly, and the result is you are acting in what you HOPE is their best interest. In which case they could end up feeling annoyed or even angry, rather than gratified that you were considering their welfare.

Acting with selfless intent towards someone you love is not as easy as it might seem. We tend to review everything in terms of what is in our best interest. But it becomes easier, once we start feeling love towards another, to want to do something for them. That feeling of happiness when we see their response to something we've done for them is, in a way,
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My Journey of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

I should have known my adventuring days were over. I mean, I went flying out of my home without a pocket handkerchief to go see The Fellowship of the Ring. And though I had some reservations, I decided to continue my journey with The Two Towers. Devastated, I realized my grave error, but it was too late…the journey was well under way and I couldn't turn back. I finished The Return of the King, feeling only slightly better and realizing I was clearly not cut out for this adventuring.

So, what caused me to take those fateful steps towards The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey? I'm not really certain, to be sure. Everything that I had heard about it so far gave me hope that this adventure would be worth taking the journey.

And so I did.

And I have to say that having dome so, I have a great deal of hope for the further travels to come…and some trepidation.

[Here be Dragons…er, spoilers. A lot of them.]
To be blunt, Peter Jackson seems to be trying his very best to get his own vision of what The Hobbit plays out in his own mind every time he reads it, and especially the first time he ever read it, onto the big screen so he can share. Which ignores the most important thing about film, television, and stage when it comes to fictional book translation: you can never truly translate what plays out in your own mind using our current technology, or indeed any technology that will ever be created.

Because what plays out in our minds when we read a book includes an element of wonder, fear, dread, glory, honor, shame, guilt, love, hate, etc that is entirely visceral in our own minds and can never be seen through mere eyes, touched through mere fingers, smelled through mere nostrils, etc.

However, I have to say he's done a pretty fine job of it with the tech he's got. I just wish that he didn't feel the need to hit every major and minor scene in the process.

I was really surprised that the film ended with the dwarven company having been rescued by the eagles. I mean, how is Jackson going to make three movies when he's already gone pretty far through the book in the first one.

Never fear, Jackson has a plan. Not only does he really play out every major scene in excruciating (I don't use that word lightly) detail, but he also pads it out with stuff that isn't even in the book at all.

Most of that padding is actually both relevant and about actions that took place during that time, but you don't really find out about until the time of The Lord of the Rings (if you read the books, you'll know). Basically, stuff you learn later on in The Fellowship of the Ring that Gandalf did during this time is actually played out in the movie.

I'm not disappointed, either. But then I'm a major fan of Tolkien, have every single fiction book he's written, some nonfiction, stuff that his son has put together from his universe, art, music…even a first American Edition of The Hobbit (and yes, Gollum does just give Bilbo the ring for winning the riddle contest in this version). So canon is a big deal for me. But I can't help wondering how many others will get bored by this plot thread.

A plot thread in the movie that I'm actually not happy about is Bilbo having to prove himself to Thorin by fighting so soon. Bilbo was a burglar, a thief. Thorin didn't think he could do the job, but Bilbo was able to show it by being sneaky and clever more and more. Jackson has actually taken a number of scenes that show that and not only removed Bilbo's ability to show it, but replaced it with the dwarves fighting to survive.

This also points to another disappointment. For the most part, this party of 13 dwarves survived by luck and knowing important people in high places (mostly Gandalf). Yes, they could fight, but they were in no shape to do the kinds of things that Jackson is having them do successfully. Worse, they come off (to me at least) as foolishly brave all the time, rather than strategic and clever, knowing when's the right time to strike and when's not to.

Last complaint before I talk about what I liked, and that was the introduction of a plot thread that is wholly original and totally unnecessary: the white orc, enemy of Thorin. This got boring really fast, to the point where I actually found myself looking at my phone for the time, wondering when we'd get back to the movie. It was tedious and, worse, the only thread that introduced violence for violence's sake.

For all of the other aspects of violence that is seen in the film there is an element of whimsy, luck, or just plain Monty Python "run away!" feel that stood between you and the real violence that could be happening. This didn't have any of this, and was almost like a different film that was invading this movie. Thorin didn't need a single focus for his hatred of the Orcs. The fact that they killed his grandfather was more than enough.

Despite all of this, the film really did tie well together, stick to canon without going too far astray, and provide a great feeling of "being there". The opening scene with Gandalf was well done, the evening dinner scene with the dwarves was hilarious and great fun, and the goblin king conversation with Gandalf was a hoot (though the chase could have been cut back A LOT).

But the best scene of all was when Bilbo found the ring and encountered Gollum. This was beautifully done and both captured Gollum's character and the interaction between Gollum and Bilbo perfectly.

The scenery, as one would expect, was gorgeous. As was all the computer graphics that had to be done to allow 13 dwarves and 1 hobbit to fly away on eagles, for example. The music was lovely and I'm really happy with how the song of the dwarves came out. I was never able to envision that song in my head (I've still got the Rankin and Bass version stuck there, which isn't wholly bad).

All in all, I enjoyed this adventure. I am looking forward to more adventuring with some trepidation; after all, the last time I looked forward I got The Two Towers. But this one feels…different. I might even revisit this adventure again sometime.

If I can find my pocket handkerchief.
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Why Red states will NEVER secede from the Union

There's been a lot of noise from a small but vocal community of libertarian and tea-party Republicans who believe that, especially after Obama was successfully re-elected, secession is the only resort left. I find this amusing in light of the evidence...but then, maybe that evidence hasn't been put in a simple enough context for them.

So, I decided to do that.

I've created a table that lists out all of the states (sorry, no territories or DC), which candidate that they voted for, and whether they have a surplus or deficit as of 2009 (as a percentage of the 2009 GDP). My sources are here (The Red and the Black, Politico: 2012 Presidential Election). I've simplified some of the surplus/deficit numbers...I didn't to strain anyone's limited math skills.

Reviewing the chart, it is quite clear what will happen. If all states that voted for Mitt Romney were to secede from the union successfully, here is the result:

17 Blue states would be available in the "Obama Union" to help fund the 9 Blue states that have a deficit of >0%

4 Red states would be available in the "Romney Union" to help fund the 20 Red states that have a deficit of >0%

Those 4 Red states...Arkansas, Georgia, Texas, and Nebraska...are probably, as a whole, not all that interested in actually seceding. Talking about it is as far as they will go. I mean, why would you want to help fund that many people, when you believe in pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps?

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Big Bird may be schilling for a Presidential Candidate Soon

This week, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a ban on political ads for public television and radio stations by a vote of 2-1. The reason given was that "the ban was too broad" and they felt that lifting it would "not threaten to undermine the educational nature of public broadcast stations." Interestingly, the court upheld the ban on ads for goods and services on behalf of for-profit companies.

This is going to have huge ramifications for NPR and PBS, should they allow these ads on their radio/television stations. Because, of course, striking down the ban only means that they are not prevented from accepting the ad...not that they are required to accept them.

But the real problem I have is with the reasoning that the court used, that the decision would not threaten to undermine the educational nature of the stations. Education requires honesty. You can't have a teacher lie to their students about science, math, etc and expect those students to be educated...only confused. And there's a difference between different points of view and outright lying...lying is about knowingly representing the facts wrong.

But political ads can outright lie to you. It's actually ensconced in the law through the Federal Communications Act (US Code: Title 47, Sec 315 - Candidates for public office) and upheld by the courts. So how can the educational nature of these stations not be undermined by promoting advertising that will outright lie to the people who hear and/or see them?

Worse, this will also require that the hosts of various programs on these stations will need to fact check the ads on their own stations, in fact challenging their truthfulness. The result will be stations that may be reticent to do so because they might lose funding from these advertisements because they exposed the lies in the ads.

Please contact your local PBS and NPR stations and tell them that you don't want political ads aired on their stations. For most of them, they are either in Spring Pledge-drive time or have just finished them. If you haven't pledged an amount, pledge now, and tell them it's because they DON'T place political ads. Support them, so that they don't start supporting the political machine.

It's not their job.

mds is the TSA of the Mac

Haven't posted in forever, but thought I'd post about this tidbit that I have discovered about Macs. Recently, as in the past few months, I've noticed that my Mac has become slower and more difficult to handle. Specifically, I'll start up several programs when I start my day, and everything freezes for a while as though it needs to deal with the idea that I've started up these programs and needs to spend some time finding them. The spinning beach ball of doom is prevalent.

Then, throughout the day, just opening another program (ESPECIALLY Adobe Reader) resulted in my Mac slowing down to unusable for minutes at a time. Also, iTunes would periodically just reason seemed to be given.

I finally got sick of this and decided this morning to do some research. Well, I lie...I did some research earlier, but just didn't have the time to follow up on it. Today I realized just how much valuable time I've been losing to this and decided that time was better spent researching the problem. I brought up Activity Monitor and found that the process mds was chewing up not just CPU time, but an incredible amount of virtual much as 6 GB (I have 6 GB of actual memory on the machine). That's WAY too much for any process to need.

So I did some research on mds and found it was connected to Spotlight. Now, I don't really use Spotlight, an indexing program, on my Mac much. It's nice to occasionally do a search, but it doesn't happen often enough to merit justifying it. Still, I didn't want to privatize my entire Mac because Spotlight needed to see everything....EVERYTHING...that my Mac had on it.

I did realize that it really didn't need to index my additional harddrives...almost all of which were archives (save for the Bootcamp drive which, again, didn't need to be indexed). Also, I didn't need my Dropbox indexed, or Elf's music folder (which is ENORMOUS...the man has too much music) when I connected to his harddrive. So I privatized all of those.

So far I haven't had any stoppages, but it's only been a little while. We'll see if this continues and has solved my problem. I hope so, because I don't want to do something drastic, like privatize everything, or reinstall the OS.

Omaha's heart

Early Tuesday morning, I woke out of a deep sleep to a pain in my chest. The first thought that came to my mind was that I had spent too much time with my shower massager the night before and pulled a muscle. I tried to ignore it, but it wouldn't go away, no matter what position I lay in. Finally, I got out of bed and downed some ibuprofen and tried to go back to sleep.

But the pain wouldn't go just stayed there, annoying me, then worrying me. I finally sat up in bed and grabbed my iPad and started surfing. You know for what...for what anyone would have surfed for. Heart attack symptoms. I looked at them all for a bit, then finally thought "I'm going to feel really stupid, but I'll call the nurse's hotline anyway just in case." While I was waiting for the nurse, I started to feel dizzy, then nauseated. That was enough for me.

elfs , who was already awakened by my talking on the nurse's line, leapt out of bed and dragged on some clothes. I told the nurse when she came on the details, and she agreed that the hospital was the place to go. She was interested in transferring me to 911 right there, but I told her that I had a ride and we were 5 minutes away from the nearest hospital. I'm afraid that I told our housemate, lisakit , who was walking up the stairs to see what was going on at the time, "I think I'm having a heart attack, we're going to the hospital, see ya." Poor girl!

The ER staff was great. They did the required EKG, gave me nitroglycerin tablets, hooked me up to every contraption that pings, and determined that other than my chest pain, they couldn't find anything wrong. I was convinced that it was just a muscle pull at that time, but the doctor wanted to do a chest x-ray and blood work just to be sure.

Time passed, nothing happened. It was almost 5 am, and I wanted to get some sleep before the kids had to get up. I was ready to just skip the blood work and x-ray and go home. Just then, the nurse to do the blood work arrived. I mentioned how I really didn't see that this was necessary. I gave me a brief talk about why the blood work could show something even if the EKG didn't, and at the same time the guy with the x-ray showed up. I decided to go for it. I found out later that he almost didn't even talk to me about it...I was so stoic and laid back about the whole thing, and there was absolutely nothing in my history to account for a heart attack, that he was ready to just say, "yeah, if you don't want it, no problem" and walk out.

Good thing he didn't, cause the blood work showed I had a "myocardial event". And what the hell is a "myocardial event"? It seems to be a catch-all phrase for "your heart did something weird but we can't pin it down." In the end, even the cardiologist couldn't tell me what happened, whether I had a minor heart attack or not. But he wanted to do an angiogram to see what my heart and vessels were like. So they admitted me and I spent most of the next day in the hospital being probed, eating bland food, and sleeping.

They still don't know what happened. But I know I have wonderfully clear blood vessels. I also have the coolest looking heart on a live monitor.

TMI here...Collapse )

Now I get to take three different kinds of medication on top of the meds I already take. Joy. The prevailing theory of what happened is that the nasty cold I had all week, that was so debilitating that I got exhausted just reading my email, may have actually caused some damage to my heart. I'm not sure if it is permanent, though. I've got a followup coming in about a week to find out.

And, yes, I was supposed to rest today. All I did was laundry. And I had a meeting tonight. It wasn't much. Most of my time was spent in bed playing games, writing notes, and writing reviews.
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Tall, bald, and covered in tattoos

Y-chan brought a boy home today. Not behind our backs this time, but with our full knowledge. She had asked yesterday if she could bring him over and we'd agreed. This is her first real boyfriend (all of the others being friends she tested out what "boyfriend" was supposed to mean).

And it shows. The NRE is strong with the two of them, and I have to giggle a bit here and there watching them. Just the most innocent looks they give each other.

We went to Carpinito's, which is a local farm that does a corn maze (really excellent designs), roasted corn, kettle corn, sells home grown veggies, and pumpkins...lots and lots of pumpkins. Because of the timing, elfs  and I managed to get some corn, then they all went into the maze (Y-chan and N, her boyfriend, in one, and Elf and K-chan in the other). I waited around for them, picking up some kettle corn and walking around and looking for which pumpkins might be best. However, by the time they all got out it was so dark that we couldn't see very well, so we just bagged the rest and went to dinner.

At dinner we learned an important piece of information. Apparently, Elf has gained a bizarre reputation among Y-chan's friends...they all think of him as this dark and foreboding character that they should all be afraid of. Yes, I kid you not. N revealed this in no uncertain terms when he stated, "Yeah, you're really a lot less scary than I thought you would be. I thought you'd be this tall, bald dude with tattoos all over his body."

lisakit  and I just about fell out of our chairs laughing. I mean, the very idea of Elf being scary was funny enough, but the image the boy gave was just too hilarious. We finished dinner and took N home after he'd said goodnight to Y-chan.
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