Monday, September 26, 2016


"How can anyone write an entire novel in today's world, with so many media distractions and so forth, bla bla bla!" People who have never actually finished writing a novel have always come up with a lot of excuses for it. That hasn't changed over the centuries. Writing a novel that's any good is extremely difficult. That has also been the same for centuries. There have always been many distractions. People who have written novels have been dissing the ones who made excuses instead, for centuries, and the novelists have always been right.

And then there are the ones, from Vergil to Vikram Seth, who've written fine novels in verse. I stand in awe of them, my cap doffed.

Cervantes, to choose but one example from the novelists, suffered wounds rendering one of his arms permanently paralyzed at the Battle of Lepanto when he was 25 years old. Then he voluntarily spent 3 more years in the Spanish army. Then he spent 5 years as a prisoner of war. And THEN, with one arm, he wrote a whole huge pile of world-renowned literature including one of the best novels ever written.

He wrote all of that stuff instead of whining and making excuses. Not that it would have been very surprising, or even really all that objectionable, at all if a person in his position whined a lot, because, come on.

Most people don't know a lot about how many of their favorite pro athletes accomplished many of their most amazing feats with bruises and contusions and sprains and actual broken bones. That's because sports tends to tear your body up, and top athletes tend not to whine about it too much. Kobe whined about it a lot for some reason, especially when he was so focused for some reason on not getting along with the remarkably-good-tempered Shaq (who played hurt just like Kobe and everybody else), but he was still a great athlete. If you listened a lot to Kobe and didn't investigate the matter much, you might think he was an unusual case as far as the conditions he performed under.

Okay, I need to stop whining about Kobe, I'm getting off track here. Like I say, he was a great athlete.

A lot of great accomplishment in human history have been accompanied by a pronounced tendency not to whine and complain in the face of extraordinary difficulty. I could be wrong, but it seems that most human lives have involved extraordinary difficulty of one kind or another.

It would be interesting to see a list of great novels which were written in prison.

"Hillary Clinton and the DNC rigged the primaries!" No they didn't. And Debbie Wassermann-Schultz did not set out to destroy Bernie Sanders' career. The plain truth is just about exactly the opposite: Bernie Sanders, that non-reality-based paranoid ogre, deliberately ruined Debbie's career -- hopefully only for the moment. Hillary won the nomination, she didn't steal it. But Bernie will always be the Democratic Party's Emperor of Whiny Crybabies.

But of course, in the category of insane, non-reality-based whiny-crybaby excuses, the other party have got us beat hands-down. That orange combover has already been making excuses for a long time for defeats he hasn't even suffered yet: defeats against Hillary in the debates and in November.

I can't imagine anyone with less reason to whine and complain than that whiny crybaby. Except maybe about the size of his penis. That's actually not his own fault.

Alrighty then! Those of us who've been paying attention, let's ramp it up, let's work harder at spreading the news to everybody else, the news that this Presidential campaign is a good, experienced, competent, steady, extremely capable progressive candidate against a whiny orange crybaby who's either an insane bigot or pretending to be one -- and which would be worse?

It's Hillary against a nightmare. Sing it high, sing it low. Go tell it on the mountain. Make the others understand. We have no excuse not to.

Dream Log: A Dime And Nicole Kidman

I had two dreams last night, one about finding an interesting coin, and the other about meeting Nicole Kidman.

The interesting coin was a dime, and I found it on the sidewalk. I was in San Francisco during something called the San Francisco Expedition. (I googles and I couldn't find anything in real life called the San Francisco Expedition.) The Expedition was an annual event where people gathered to discuss the city's history, and other things.

At first the dime appeared to be fairly new, so I was surprised when I saw that its date was 1948. Also, just inside the edge on its reverse (the tails side of a coin is also sometimes called its reverse), there were two gold-colored near-semicircles, one on top and one below, nearly meeting on the left and right, forming a near-circle. Just inside this gold circle in the upper-left quarter of the reverse were raised in relief the words "SAN FRANCISCO EXPEDITION." I think the rest of the relief looked more or less like the relief of a regular FDR dime, maybe made a bit smaller to make room for the gold near-cirle and the extra words, but I don't really remember for sure.

I looked the dime up in a Red Book,

and saw the 1948 San Francisco Expedition dime listed as just slightly more valuable than a regular 1948 dime in uncirculated condition. Google Shopping shows 3 1948 uncirculated dimes for sale, priced $12.50 to $37.50. And no 1948 San Francisco Expedition dimes because they only exist in this dream.

As I was looking in the Red Book, a man said that a friend of his had lost the dime. I gave him the dime and he headed toward his friend, and I followed. The man regarded me suspiciously. He asked me if I expected some kind of award from his friend, or if I might even try to charm his friend into giving me the coin outright.

I pointed out that I had just met him a moment before, and immediately gave him the coin when he said his friend had lost it. I said I didn't know if he was telling the truth about having a friend who lost the coin, but was giving him the benefit of the doubt. I said that the only thing I knew for sure about him was that he was insulting me, assuming right away that I was some kind of crook.

We got to his friend, who was in from out of town for the Expedition, and had a large amount of Expedition-related things: posters from previous Expeditions, various items with "San Francisco Expedition" written or painted or stamped upon them. This collector thanked me profusely for finding his lost dime, and immediately offered to give it to me. I said that I didn't want to take it. "I don't want to break up your collection," I said.

Then the collector's friend and I went out of the collector's earshot and he mumbled something about how he was sorry he'd assumed right away that I might be a crook, and I mumbled something about how I could understand him being very protective of a friend who was so generous toward complete strangers, some of whom, no doubt, actually were crooks, and we shook hands and slapped each other on the shoulder in a very manly way as we mumbled.

Then I was away from those 2 guys, and on a sidewalk, half-straddling a red 12-speed road racing bike I owned in the 1980's. Nicole Kidman walked by and made some remark about the bike. In the dream in appeared that she knew an awful lot about bicycles. I said I had owned the bike since it was new over 30 years ago. (In real life I crashed it and totalled it when it was a couple of years old.) Ms Kidman looked at me and said something to the effect that, yeah, I looked old enough to have owned the bike for 30 years. That hurt me feelings, but I reminded myself that I actually do look like I'm in my 50's, which I am, and that there was no reason to assume that Nicole Kidman was trying to be mean. On the contrary, she was very nice. It was just quite clear that she didn't find me attractive, and that it didn't occur to her that that might hurt my feelings. (This was much more realistic than a bunch of other recent dreams I've had in which movie stars have found me irresistable.)

Anyway, pretty soon she had to go -- understandable, since she was Nicole Kidman and most likely had a busy schedule, and had not fallen hopelessly in love with me -- and she said, "Well, I guess you want to take a selfie with me." That was understandable, too: most strangers who meet Nicole Kidman probably want to take selfies with her. Like I said, she was being very nice.

I, too, was trying to be very nice and to make it clear that I appreciated that she was being very nice, but that, unlike most people, I really didn't care about selfies, or autographs, or any of those celebrity-related things.

I really don't. I know which famous people and other bigshots I've met, and I don't need to keep physical evidence of it to impress others. I just don't feel the need, one, and two, I know that the famous people get way too many requests for those things as it is without me piling on. I have never in my life asked for an autograph or a selfie next to a famous person.

That's not true: I've done it once in my life. One time, when I was much younger and more susceptible to peer pressure, I was at a reading by a poet in a bookstore in Germany, and since everybody else bought the poet's latest paperback and waited in line for him to sign it, so did I. The experience made me very uncomfortable. Well, here's to growing out of the susceptibility to peer pressure!

Anyway, before we got to the point where I was about to take a selfie purely for Nicole Kidman's sake rather than keep on trying to explain that I didn't need one, although I really thought she was being very nice -- I woke up.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Chess Log: Computer Problems

Last night I was playing chess on the Free Internet Chess Server (FICS), as I have almost every day for, I believe, 12 years. Right now I can't check how long it's been. Ordinarily I'd just go the main console of the Babaschess interface, enter f and my profile would appear, with my overall record for the whole time I've been playing there, my highest official rating, and more info, including the date I joined.

But now when I go to Babaschess, instead of seeing my FICS setup, I see a screen which is grey from edge to edge. I don't know if I did that, or if there's a problem because of the Recent Big Update, or if FICS has closed up shop. I'm pretty sure I did it. More often than I'd like, I unintentionally hit a wrong key and change what's on my PC screen -- the size of a chessboard for example -- and have some difficulty changing it back. Often when I try to change things back I just make things worse.

It's possible that I have that problem unusually severely. That problem, the wetware interface, may be 100% responsible for the grey screen with no controls at my disposal.

I spent some time last night trying to fix my Babaschess connection, then trying to set up another FICs interface, and then I gave up. I said to myself that this could turn out great. For example, I told myself that I could spend all of the time I had spent on chess improving my Latin instead. (It wasn't the first time I had told myself exactly that.) Or maybe I could enjoy chess just by studying chess books.

So this morning, about 5 minutes after I turned on my computer, I looked for other online chess servers, and right away I found Lichess, which I hadn't known existed, and now I play at Lichess. The chess at Lichess is all on the Lichess website, there's no need to a player to set up his or her own interface.

I had been playing at FICS since around 2004, and Lichess launched in 2010, while I was right exactly in the middle of not looking for any other places to play chess.

Maybe I'll actually look around for still other online chess options (this is a very non-autistic thing to say). Maybe FICS is still around and I'll eventually figure out the interface issue. It's not a high-tech issue, or I never would have been able to set up an interface all by myself to begin with, but it's also not as low-tech as playing on Lichess' website. (But even at Lichess, I accidentally made the board much smaller, then somehow made it big again, and haven't figured out how to change its size since then. This is what my life is like.)

Maybe I'll also study those chess books more in addition to playing on line, and also work harder on my Latin, and have a happy well-rounded life. Who knows, maybe I'll even develop friendships to the point where other people, hypothetical future friends of mine, will visit my home and not mind taking a crack at fixing my interfaces and explaining why things suddenly vanish or change because I accidentally hit a key. Maybe they would even know how to change my PC to the point that accidentally hitting a single key would no longer have such disastrous power. It would be a friggin miracle if I could just change some settings so that I can no longer do something I don't want to do by accidentally hitting one key or swiping my mouse incorrectly or whatever the $%#$%#$@#* @#$%^&#$% ^%$# it is.

Maybe -- I have no way of knowing at this moment -- I would learn all about things like that in the first day of a computer class or the first page of a computers-for-dummies type book.

Maybe life will be wonderful even before I become rich and famous. Wouldn't that be weird.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

mee r munkee. mee thinking bout wot itt all meenz

mee r munkee. mee luv yu. mee bin thnkin bout wot it all meenz.

mee let yu no sune az everthng start maikng senss.

bee4, mee nevr think bout thngs like, wot du it all meen? bee4, mee thnk questyuns laik thatt werr meeningluss.

maibee mee werr rite bee4.

mee think Jean-Paul Sartre wurr gud munkee. mee allwaze thnk that bout Jean-Paul Sartre. mee yuz tu totullee nott laik Plato. mee not totullee laik Plato, now, butt fyoo yeerz uhgo, mee reelize: nobuddee ever seen purfuk surrkurl, butt everbuddee no wot purrfuk suurkurl iz.

nobuddee everr haff tuh splain tuh nobuddee wot uh purfek surrkurl iz kuzz everbuddee allreddee no. that blo munkees mind. an, iff munkee unnerstan Plato theeree uv formz rite, that ukzaklee wot Plato wurr talkin bout. that blo munkeez mind mor. munkee wurr no longr abl tu dissmiss Plato.

munkee furst hurd bowt Plato's theeree uv formz, i don no, wen he wer 15 or so. thenn, wen munkee 50 or so, he reelee here wot plato sed. an he kant blo it off. Plato no longr seem lik totull dushbag tu munkee.

that momunt, wen hee 50 or so, wen he reelee here wot plato say bout surklz, and reelize, that Plate izz rite, that turn everthng topsee-turvee 4 munkee. maybee that bout same time munkee start wunnerin wot it all meen.

munkee dunno. that all 4 now. mee luv yu, yr verr nice person, thnk yu verr mutch pleez! baibai!

Friday, September 23, 2016

I Sense A Disturbance In The Force --

-- as if millions of people cried out in pain at once, because each of them had to wait 3 hours for an update.

I didn't know this was coming, I'm not a techie and I don't usually even browse the tech headlines.

It ALWAYS takes a while. So this time, when it actually SAID: "This will take a while." , I said, Hey, good thing I got all of these books! I learned a lot about early-20th-century American Progressives this morning, from Samuel Eliot Morison's Oxford History of the American People. But since I still haven't found out which key it is that I sometimes accidentally hit that makes an entire line vanish, nor if there's anyway to un-do it -- I had to write the previous line twice. (Too much power for 1 key if you ask me, but obviously, nobody's asking me about any of this crap, they're just doing it and expecting me to think it's all just wonderful.)

Several post-update hours, and so far, no freezes for me. My PC was occasionally freezing BEFORE the update and I'm hoping that's fixed now. (Like I have any idea how likely or unlikely that is.)

I don't know why they had to change the desktop background. It's going to be a mild-to-medium PITA to remember how I changed it before the update so I change it back to what I changed it to before the update, but I'll live.

I already hid that pesky "Ask me anything" doodad. Hmm... Wonder if I should un-hide it and ask it to change my desktop background color back to the way it was...

Alrightythen. After a little while I figured out what it was trying to tell me, and I've changed the background, but not to what I thought I was asking for. I've got no time for this particular PITA right now. Hope it's going to be the only one -- HAHAHAHAAAAA!!!


There are a lot of sparrows near where I live. This morning there were dozens of them in the street just outside of my place. I think they were drawn there by the black walnuts falling out of the tree out there. (One of them fell very close to me when I was outside yesterday. I don't think one has ever hit me on the head yet, but I'm not completely sure about that. Maybe you'd think I'd remember something like that for sure. I would tend to think so too, and yet here we are.)

A couple of crows were messing with the sparrows, swooping in from time to time to time where there was a crowd and chasing them away from the best food. I saw a couple of robins in the area too. There were not being aggressive like the crows.

Once there was a loud thud nearby, from construction or maybe a truck hitting a pothole, I don't know. But all of the sparrows zoomed away together in a cloud, and then in a short while they were back.

Besides the sparrows and robins, cardinals are at home just outside. The crows come and go, and occasionally seagulls and bluejays can be seen. passing through. I've seen some others I haven't been able to identify yet, about the size of robins or maybe slightly bigger, grey and light brown, passing through.

I saw the movie The Big Year a few years ago, good movie, and it really fired me up about birding (they call it birding, not bird-watching), but I didn't actually follow through and become a birder (not a bird-watcher). But I've become very fond of the sparrows. Sparrows is what we mostly have here, bird-wise, and I've spent a lot of time watching them and listening to them, and I like them more and more.

Some people in the neighborhood have bird feeders in their yards. I haven't gotten to the point of feeding them yet. As it is, it occurred to me this morning that there are so many of them, some people might consider it an infestation. I don't know, maybe nobody thinks of it that way. But there are a lot of them. It's fine with me. My car definitely gets spattered, but to me it's a small price to pay. The sparrows are cute to look at -- so tiny! -- and their singing is pleasant.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

How Can Anybody Possibly Think Trump And Hillary Are The Same?

Okay, just finished blocking a few more people on Facebook who claim that "America is faced with two terrible choices in November."

Who's dumber: people who support Trump, or people who can't see any difference between Clinton and Trump? Does it matter? Both groups are pretty dumb.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: the 2016 Presidential election may be decided by shaking shiny objects in front of undecided voters.

If you can't see any difference between Trump and Hillary, go see a doctor immediately. It may be a huge brain tumor.

Or maybe you just plain haven't been paying attention. Here are a few things Trump has said lately, in public, right in front of crowds, right into microphones, on purpose:

“An extremely credible source has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud.”

“Robert Pattinson should not take back Kristen Stewart. She cheated on him like a dog & will do it again – just watch. He can do much better!”

“Ariana Huffington is unattractive, both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision.”

“You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of ass.”

“I will build a great wall – and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me – and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.”

“Our great African-American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore.”

“If I were running ‘The View’, I’d fire Rosie O’Donnell. I mean, I’d look at her right in that fat, ugly face of hers, I’d say ‘Rosie, you’re fired.’”

“All of the women on The Apprentice flirted with me – consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.”

“One of they key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people don’t go into government.”

“The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”

“It’s freezing and snowing in New York – we need global warming!”

“I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

“My fingers are long and beautiful, as, it has been well documented, are various other parts of my body.”

“I have never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke.”

“I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful.”

“You’re disgusting.” (In court, to a woman asking the judge for a break to breast-feed her baby.)

“The point is, you can never be too greedy.”

“My Twitter has become so powerful that I can actually make my enemies tell the truth.”

“My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.”

“I have so many fabulous friends who happen to be gay, but I am a traditionalist.”

“The other candidates — they went in, they didn’t know the air conditioning didn’t work. They sweated like dogs…How are they gonna beat ISIS? I don’t think it’s gonna happen.”

“Look at those hands, are they small hands? And Rubio referred to my hands: ‘If they’re small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.”

“The only card Hillary has is the woman’s card. She’s got nothing else to offer and frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote. The only thing she’s got going is the woman’s card, and the beautiful thing is, women don’t like her.”

“Number one, I have great respect for women. I was the one that really broke the glass ceiling on behalf of women, more than anybody in the construction industry.”

But how could you not know already that he says things like that all the time, and how could you not be appalled, and disgusted by someone who says such things? How could anyone be impressed by such a person, and want him to be a leader of any kind, let alone President?

File that under things I don't really want to know. If I seem particularly grumpy it's because I am. Politics sometimes makes me very grumpy.