Saturday, November 1, 2014

America: Imagine the World Without Her - A Movie Review

Overall, a good movie. A major plus of this movie is the perspective of D'Souza, who immigrated to the US from India. As such, like Tocqueville, D'Souza presents an "outside" viewpoint.

The movie does have its faults. It spends too much time reviewing the progressive left's distortion and vilification of US history before finally getting around to refuting those erroneous contentions. One could say that that is a positive for the sake of analysis. Nevertheless, one is left waiting for the "punch line". D'Souza, took an inordinate amount of time before finally geting around to mentioning that other cultures have been just as villainous as the US in various regards. Read the Wikipedia review.

One of D'Souza shortcomings, as an apologist for the US, in this film was ignoring Reagan's transgressions. D'Souza took great interest in hyping Reagan's famous quote: "Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem." as a supposed positive message. The problem of course, those were just empty words uttered for the sake of the sound byte. Reagan was unsuccessful in reducing the scope of government.

Rotten Tomatoes had an interesting breakdown concerning the responses to the movie. Eight percent of the critics gave the move a positive review. Which means 92% lambasted the film. Of the audience reviews, the positive percentage was 87%. It appears that the critics were not sympathetic to the conservative message. (I will agree that there were some non-political structural problems with the film.) Those who were motivated to the see the movie were probably conservative so the movie naturally appealed to them. In conclusion, the movie should be seen by all since it analyzes the US within the context of world history.

Finally - Science Fiction Magazine Database Ported to Linux

Finally, I have the Science Fiction magazine database working under Linux (Ubuntu 14.04 and LibreOffice  4.3.3.2). Now I no longer need MS Access for maintaining the database. Completing it has proven to have been more complicated and taken a lot longer than expected. Steep learning curve. Prior posts on this topic.

I do not anticipate embellishing the current rendition, even though it is quite rudimentary.  The next phase will be learning PHP, HTML, and CSS so that the magazine database can be accessed through a web browser. Another multi-year extravaganza?

This project is pretty much a learning experience effort. Much of the data can be readily found on "The Internet Speculative Fiction Database". I would not have been able put this project together without the assistance provide by the "Access2Base" website and the volunteers at the "Apache Open Office Forum". Thank-you.


The Main Form

"Show Author Stories" button pressed.
When the "Show Author Stories" button is pressed, all stories associated with that author are displayed, even if in magazines other than Analog.


"Find an Author" button pressed.
When the button "Find an Author" is pressed, you can initiate a search to display all stories associated with authors possessing the search string.


"Find a Story" button pressed.

When the button "Find a Story" is pressed, all stories containing the search string will be displayed.


"Add an Author" button pressed.

Occasionally, stories have more than one author. The form above allows traditional authors to be assigned to a story.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Obama's Middle East Debacle

Obama continues to play a confused duplicitous losing "Game of Thrones" in the Middle East. ISIS has continued to expand the territory that it controls which has also created a massive refugee crises. In a very slow disorganized response, Obama has initiated some air strikes (which some assert are simply for show) and has deployed some advisers to assist the Iraqi military. The overall summary: "Too slow and too late".

Obama has also claimed to have formed a coalition of various nations to fight ISIS. This coalition appears to be a sham. Beyond the obvious phot-op, the supposed members of the coalition have apparently not made any commitment to supply ground forces to combat ISIS. The situation in Iraq and Syria continues to deteriorate.

The monumental flaw is Turkey. Turkey (a supposed ally) has been acting in a manner supporting ISIS. Turkey has refused to allow the US to use its bases to conduct operations against ISIS. But wait, Susan Rise claimed that an agreement was reached. A success for Obama, no.  Turkey immediately refuted that claim. The Obama administration once again can't get its act together. But I digress from the major significance of Turkey in this ongoing Middle East saga.

Turkey a supposed ally and supposed member of the Obama's faux coalition refuses to participate in the fight against ISIS. Rather than fight ISIS, Turkey has actually bombed the Kurds within Turkey. What gives?

Turkey is on the side of ISIS since ISIS is accomplishing Turkey's dirty work of "ethnic cleansing" of Kurds and Christians. Turkey has had a long history of human rights abuses against the Christians and Kurds.

u-tube video: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew feels Crucified 
  
Turkey’s violations to human rights towards Kurds: A hindrance on admittance to the EU

Besides the issue that Turkey is really not a friend of the US, the actions of Turkey highlight  Obama's duplicity and repugnant moral relativism. Obama has used his "loudspeaker" to insist that Assad be removed from office in Syria asserting that Assad has "killed his own people"  and that the so-called Syrian "freedom fighters" should receive training and weapons. Well, if that is the case, then Obama should be publicly demanding for the removal of Erdogan and the arming of the Kurdish "freedom fighters". So far, Obama has been silent on Turkish "ethnic cleansing".

As an additional comment concerning Obama shallowness; Obama has labeled Putin's actions in the Ukraine as a violation of international law. Obama's actions toward Syria are just as illegal since Obama is interfering in Syria's sovereignty.

To restore some semblance of a coherent Middle East strategy, the US must support the Kurds and must use its military, economic, and diplomatic power to require any Islamic based regime to be secular and to guarantee human rights for all citizens within their respective countries.

Monday, September 1, 2014

CNN's Deplorable Disgusting Twisting of Facts to Fraudantly Bolster the "Living Wage" Concept

This morning CNN news had a segment discussing excessive executive compensation and the corresponding lack of growth in the compensation received by the generic normal employee. Nothing new with that, it has been a long term issue that has only gotten progressively worse instead of better.

CNN unfortunately twisted this issue to propose that the US government enter the fray to mandate that employees are entitled to better pay and should share in the profits that a corporation makes. Mandated better employee pay does nothing to resolve the issue of executive compensation. Logically, since the US is supposed to be a free market enterprise system, CNN's analysis was absurd because it was comparing oranges to apples.

Based on free market principals, if executive compensation is considered excessive, it is the corporate board of directors who should be squelching it as it is their fiduciary responsibility. Unfortunately, corporate board of directors have failed in this regard. They have been nothing more than rubber stamps for the executives they are supposed to supervise.

That leaves me in a quandary since excessive corporate pay has not been squelched by the board of directors. Ideally, corporate executives should recognize that they are employees (just like anyone else) and should not receive excessive compensation. Given that the board of directors have failed I wouldn't mind government intervention to force the board of directors to act responsibly to protect shareholders from excessive executive compensation.

CNN instead of recognizing that excessive executive compensation has been a market failure, twisted that theme to insist that the US government must step in (in the name of fairness) to increase the wages of employees and the hiring more employees. That is directly contrary to free market principles. One example was an absurd proposition that college students who are graduating with massive debt must be paid very well so that they can pay-down that debt. Companies do not exist for altruistic purposes. They should not be forced to pay "high" wages or to hire unnecessary employees.

CNN should not have twisted the issue of excessive executive compensation into a rallying call for government mandated increased employee compensation. It will not solve the issue of excessive executive compensation.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Obama Plays "Game of Thrones"

Obama has failed playing the "Game of Thrones" in the Middle East. Obama has illegally interfered in the sovereignty Libya, Egypt, and Syria. Furthermore, Obama has two bad uncooperative puppets. Maliki in Iraq and Karzai in Afghanistan. Finally, Kerry, the US Secretary of State, failed miserably at attempting to negotiate a cease fire between Hamas and Israel in Gaza. 

Obama's meddling in these countries has result in ongoing civil strife including a continued humanitarian disaster. Even the Washington Post finally acknowledged: "Libya crumbles as the United States looks the other way". More relevant to current events, the Post noted that "The Kurdish forces facing the Islamic State need help from the United States". Today, Obama finally announced limited aid and limited military assistance for the Kurds, Christians, Yazidis, and other ethnic/religious groups being marked for genocide by the Islamic State. "As The Washington Post's Loveday Morris reports, as many as 40,000 remain stranded on "the craggy peaks of Mount Sinjar," dying of hunger and thirst and devoid of much support from a faltering Iraqi government."

While Obama is finally getting around to countering the ISIS advances, it is also Obama who facilitated the rise of ISIS by supplying (illegal) covert aid to so-called rebels in Syria. ISIS having been one such group. Had Obama supported the Assad regime, even if it is considered deplorable, the rise of ISIS may never have occurred as the Assad regime may have been able to neutralize ISIS. By destabilizing Syria and weakening the Assad regime Obama made a strategic blunder.

It would be ludicrous to place all blame on Obama for the chaos in Middle East since there are many players involved in this "Game of Thrones". Nevertheless, Obama meddling in "Nation Building" and "King Making" make him partially responsible for endless war and the ongoing humanitarian disaster.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

American Airlines Bad

It's been a while since my last vent against despicable corporate behavior. In this case the finger-of-disapproval is pointed at American Airlines. In this example, my daughter and a girl friend planned to take a cross country road trip which involved picking-up our car in Santa Fe, New Mexico. To get there, they had to fly to Albuquerque where another daughter would pick them up. Unfortunately, the girl friend's grandmother got sick at the last minute and my daughter's girl friend could not go.

No problem we thought. I could just use my daughter's girl friend's ticket. Well American Airlines claimed that the ticket was not transferable. That is unconscionable, tickets are for "renting" a seat on the airplane. Who is occupying that seat should not matter.

American Airlines also refused to give a refund on that ticket. I can sympathize, to a degree, with that position since the tickets were bought in advance at a discount. My sympathy with that, however, vaporizes with the fact that American Airlines would not provide reasonable customer service (allowing a ticket transfer) given the extenuating circumstance of the girl friend's grandmother getting sick. In a sense, American Airlines "rented" that seat twice.

Washington Post article: "The travel industry’s one-sided cancellation policies are due for cancellation".

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Obama Responsible for the Pending Demise of Iraq

Obama has fostered the events leading to the pending demise of Iraq. This is a very CasualObservation based on conjecture.

Obama for many many years has been publicly calling for the ouster of Assad. On one hand Obama asserts that he is not after regime change, but on the other he has been calling for support of the so-called rebels in Syria. Clearly Obama is after regime change.  Just today, the Washington Post published: "Obama seeks $500M to train, equip Syrian rebels".  Given the chaotic situation in Syria, how does Obama intend to restrict this proposed assistance to only "good" rebels?

It will be virtually impossible. The "good" and "bad" rebels for one switch sides. Even if they don't, what is to stop the "bad" rebels from acquiring equipment through theft or other means? Even NPR noted that some of the assistance to "good" rebels fell into the hands of "bad" rebels. "A shipment of Croatian weapons sent to moderate fighters, with U.S. knowledge, a year ago, ended up in the hands of al-Qaida-linked groups." But I am digressing from my topic that Obama's actions have led to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) (also called Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)) "invading" Iraq.

Really this is quite simple. Obama by destabilizing Syria and supplying covert assistance to Islamic radicals in Syria enabled ISIS to expand and form "safe areas" in Syria. From those "safe areas", ISIS was able to grow to the point that it could invade Iraq.

On June 22, 2014 I stumbled upon a CNN interview between Candy Crowley and Rand Paul. I was quite amazed that Rand Paul had already reached the same conclusion.
PAUL: ... But now we have a chaotic situation.  We have a vacuum.  And I think one of the reasons why ISIS has been emboldened is because we have been arming their allies.  We have been allied with ISIS in Syria.  They have had a safe haven because we have been arming the rebels to keep Assad away from them. ... 
Then today, on MSNBC, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) acknowledge that the growth of ISIS was an unintended consequence of the support that the ISIS received from various countries. Utube video here: "Rep. Schiff Discusses Situation in Iraq on MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports". 

American Prosperity ran the following article: "Militant Islamic Group ISIS Trained at U.S. Base in Jordan". (The validity of the story by American Prosperity is unknown to me.)
Jordanian officials recently revealed that members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (also known as ISIS) were trained in 2012 by U.S. military instructors at a secret base in Jordan. 

Of course, this raises the obvious question: Why did the American military train dangerous Islamic militants?

Answer: Because they were being trained with the intent of overthrowing the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad.

Jordanian officials claimed these Syrian rebels were screened to ensure they had no ties to Al-Qaeda or any other overly radical Islamic group. They also said that this training had no intention of being used in Iraq. 

However, these good foreign policy intentions have backfired on the Obama Administration in a big way. Especially since the President declared an end to combat operations in Iraq nearly four years ago.
Obama, through an ineffective foreign policy and through support of the so-called rebels in Syria has abetted the rise of ISIS and contributed to the pending demise of IRAQ.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Upgrade to Ubuntu 14.04 Broke the Apache2 Link to Index.html

I have a webpage that can be accessed across the home network. Upgrading Ubuntu to version 14.04 unfortunately broke the connection to "index.html". The fix was actually quite easy, once found. And that was the problem finding it.

It turns out that a new directory was created during the upgrade process under: "/var/www/". That new directory is labelled: "html".  Moving "index.html" into the directory: "/var/www/html" solved the issue.

The solution was found in this post: "Why is my Apache not working after upgrading to Ubuntu 14.04?" This post also refers to: "Where to place my local website starting with the 2.4.7 version of apache2?"

More information can be found here: "HTTPD - Apache2 Web Server".

In searching for a solution to the broken link, I was able to solve two other minor irritants with Apache that did not seem to cause any problems other than occasionally spitting an error message.

One error message was: "AH00558: apache2: Could not reliably determine the server's fully qualified domain name, using 127.0.1.1. Set the 'ServerName' directive globally to suppress this message." The solution was contained in this post: "Problem with restarting Apache2 [duplicate]". The solution is to add the line: "ServerName localhost" to the "/etc/apache2/apache2.conf" file.

# Global configuration
# http://askubuntu.com/questions/329323/problem-with-restarting-apache2
ServerName localhost
The other error message: "AH00671: The Alias directive in /etc/apache2/conf-enabled/phpmyadmin.conf at line 3 will probably never match because it overlaps an earlier Alias."
This error originated from the file: "/etc/apache2/conf-enabled/httpd.conf".  Turns out that this file has been deprecated. For whatever reason, it was still on my computer. Commenting out the line below, by adding the "#" symbol at the beginning of the line resolved the error message.
# Include /etc/phpmyadmin/apache.conf
Should you note any errors in what I wrote or have other comments, please comment.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Net Neutrality - The Devil is in the Details

A few days ago the FCC voted to start the rule making process concerning net neutrality.  TechDirt reported: "NY Times And Washington Post Describe Yesterday's Net Neutrality Vote In Diametrically Opposite Ways". Of particular concern is the heading: "The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 on Thursday to move forward with a set of proposed rules aimed at guaranteeing an open Internet prohibiting high-speed Internet service providers from blocking or discriminating against legal content flowing through their pipes." (emphasis added) in the New York Times. So who gets to define the words "legal content" and the subsequent consequences?

Will the content producers be the ones defining what is legal and illegal? If so, it makes a mockery of the judicial process. Technically, if someone believes an action is illegal, they take it to court and present facts to obtain a judgment. I seriously doubt that the content industry wants to be contained by the relatively slow and cumbersome judicial process. Instead, they would probably wish to take immediate action with absurdly minimal proof against anyone they whimsically designate as an offender.

What about the rights of the supposed offender? If the content producers can unilaterally designate someone as an offender, what are their rights to refute those charges?  Will there be penalties imposed on those making false claims of illegal activity? If not; that would allow the content producers to accuse and take punitive action against anyone without the fear of consequences. This would be a violation of due process. Basically, justice by intimidation.

Will the content producers be able to read your content? To assess whether content is "legal" or not, would appear to imply that the content producers would have an opportunity to conduct warrantless wiretapping on content. Reading a persons' content stream to assess whether they are being legal or illegal would be a violation of due process. Technically, to have a wiretap put into place one needs substantial verifiable suspicion that a crime is being committed.

Making the ISP providers the "police" to protect the content producers. This is actually quite repulsive. The basic responsibility of the ISPs is to deliver content. Not to interfere with the delivery of that content. The content producers should not be able to demand that the ISPs read content to protect them (the content producers) and/or to take any adverse action against the supposed offender. For example, if you believe that an illegal action is being taken in a nearby house, you can't simply walk up to a random third person and demand that they be the ones to break into that house to find and arrest any suspected burglar. That is supposed to the responsibility of the police and the judicial system.

Who would pay for the ISP "police".  The answer unfortunately is quite obvious, the consumer through increased subscription fees.  Forcing the ISPs to act as "police" places a resource burden on them.  Consequently, it should be the content producers that should pay the ISPs "police" since the ISPs would be working for the direct and sole benefit of the content producers.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Ukraine/Syria - US Foreign Policy Madness

Russia invades Crimea (located in the Ukraine) and attempts to destabilize the Ukraine as an independent sovereign country, in clear violation of international law. The Obama administration with great indignity and fanfare accuses Russia of interfering with Ukrainian sovereignty. But wait!

The Obama administration is violating the sovereignty of Syria in clear violation of international law by arming supposed rebels in Syria. Washington Post article: "Syrian rebels who received first U.S. missiles of war see shipment as ‘an important first step". Essentially both Putin and Obama are reading from the same foreign relations script. Both falsely justify the need to interfere in other countries based on fabricated trumped-up moral obligations. Putin to "protect" Russians, Obama to "protect" Syrian civilians from an evil tyrant.

Obama in denouncing Russia once again utterly demonstrates that his rhetoric is nothing more than meaningless hot-air. Obama, like Putin, does not feel constrained by any laws. Laws are simply something to be whimsically applied and/or ignored as needed for political purposes. For Putin, the persecution of the band Pussy Riot. For Obama to use the IRS to persecute the "Tea Party".

Russia needs to be denounced for violating the sovereignty of the Ukraine. With that in mind, the US has no business arming so-called rebels in Syria since it is a violation of Syrian sovereignty. Arming the so-called rebels is Syria keeps the war going and only prolongs the humanitarian tragedy in Syria. That is blatantly contrary to Obama's publicly disclosed assertions that he is not pursing regime change in Syria. Obama has once again demonstrated to the world that his flowery rhetoric is devoid of both value and substance, and that the rule-of-law does not apply to him.  Obama cannot be trusted.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Neel Kashkari - Blame Bush Resurrected?

Neel Kashkari, a Republican candidate for the Governorship of California, recently made an outstandingly idiotic comment on CNBC.  The recent Republican fiscal stance has been been promoting spending control and reduction of the National debt. Joe Kernen asked Kashkari, given that California now has a budget surplus, if some of that money would be used to pay-down California's debt.  The response by Kashkari was the unbelievable prostration that economic measures were needed to stimulate the California economy. A non-answer to Kernen's question. The "between the lines" take-away, another excuse not to address the debt issue.

Mr. Kashkari, is only one Republican and does not define the Republican party's fiscal policies. Nevertheless, his comments, may be a chilling harbinger of what might happen should the Republicans take control of the US government. Will the Republicans, like the Democrats, abandon fiscal responsibility in favor of continued deficit spending to "gift" their base "freebies"?  Will the Republican, once elected, repeat the irresponsible tax policies of Blame Bush?

PS: I could not locate the actual video clip were this exchange took place. Here is one clip from that day.  I would agree that high frequency trading should be regulated.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Windows XP End-of-Life - The Linux Alternative

With Microsoft retiring support of Windows XP, the Internet has been awash with discussions concerning what to do next. The typical uninspired response is to migrate to a newer version of MS Windows. But there are other options to MS Windows, Linux for example.

Should you be wondering what to do with your Windows XP computer, look into Linux.  Linux, for the vast majority of applications, is just as good as Windows and it is also free. One place to start would be LinuxQuestions.org. I would encourage you to investigate Linux to determine whether it would be a suitable replacement for MS Windows.  You have nothing to loose and you may find Linux to be a superior operating system.  Good-Luck.

PS: Leave a similar post on your blog to "crowd-source" Linux as a suitable replacement for MS Windows.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Asus RT-N56U Modem and Simple Backup

Recently, I have seen posts concerning what to get in the way of a replacement modem. This post won't answer that question, but will provide some anecdotal thoughts on the topic. The Asus RT-N56U modem is now obsolete and has been replaced by the Asus Dual-Band Wireless-N750 Gigabit Router. Listing of Asus wireless routers.

One of main reasons for selecting the RT-N56U was that it came with two USB 2.0 ports.  Since routers are never turned off, the USB ports could be used for backing up your computers.  It is my belief that backups should always be done to a second disk drive. (Installed either on the computer itself or as an external device, in this case the router.)  To accomplish that, I bought a 3TB Western Digital USB hard drive, which plugged into the router's USB port.

For the backup program, I used Simple Backup. This is an excellent back-up program.  Though an excellent program, it proved to be quite finicky when it came to backing data onto the USB HD drive attached to the router's USB port. Periodically the back-ups would fail with permission/access error messages. Worked without issue when backing-up to a USB device that was directly attached to the computer.

I have Simple Backup working as expected with the RT-N46U router.  The following tweaks may have resulted in getting Simple Backup to function correctly.

1.  Mount the USB HD Drive.  See the /etc/fstab entry below.
#Mount Western Digital Passport Drive On Router
//rt-n56u/sda1 /media/My_Passport cifs rw,sec=ntlm,guest,uid=1000,gid=34,iocharset=utf8,nofail 0 0

2. Change the format of the USB HD to EXT3.

Why EXT3?  Turns out that the Asus RT-N56U does not recognize EXT4.  The fact that the router does not recognize EXT4 is "hidden" in the manual.  Had to actually read the manual to find that out. Grumble.

Check to see if your router supports EXT4.

Furthermore, The Western Digital USB HD, as purchased, came formated with Microsoft's NTFS.  Under NTFS, I would receive periodic permission/access error messages when connected through the router's USB port. Since changing the file system to EXT3, these issues have disappeared.

With the tweaks identified above, Simple Backup is now operating reliably.  These tweaks may also prove to be beneficial with other modems that offer USB ports where a USB hard drive can be attached.

Friday, February 21, 2014

It's Been a While

Time slips by. Just got involved with other projects.  One, reading the "Game Of Thrones" by George R.R.Martin.  At a thousand pages per novel, plus watching each episode, it has been a slow-go.  Fortunately there are several very helpful internet resources, one being:  A Wiki of Ice and Fire.  I'm currently reading "A Feast for Crows".