Shopping never end

30 03 2015

Bought the chair.

Assembled the chair.

Sat in the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Sat in the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Adjusted the chair.

Disassembled the chair.

Returning the chair.

~~~

I did want to like this chair—and not only because I’ll have to schlep this sucker to a UPS store and eat the return shipping cost—but it did not work for me. I don’t know that it would work for any short person.

The flip-up arms I liked? Yeah, it was nice that they flipped up, but when down didn’t go down far enough. I had to put a cushion on the chair as a kind of booster seat in order to rest my arms comfortably.

Synchro-tilt? Yeah, no. I don’t know what I was thinking on this—I guess that the there’d be more “give”, or something, but as a lounger, I felt bunched-up.

Lumbar support? Feh. Again, I like lower-back support, but this was, I dunno, aggressive? Or just badly positioned for a shrimp? Either way, even with an added small pillow, it was a no-go.

By the way, have you noticed that with a new chair I needed a cushion and a pillow for it even to approach comfortableness? Riiiiidiculous.

There was one review from a guy who thought the chair seat could have been a bit larger, but said, hey, I’m a big guy (6’4″), so, y’know. Well, given how massive the seat was, he was probably HUGE.

Anyway, this would probably work fine for someone who is, well, bigger’n me.

I’m currently looking at these two chairs. The first chair is more expensive (tho’ it’s available for less thru a different seller), but it really well-reviewed. The second chair, well, the second chair has no reviews—and on the manufacturer web site notes both that is has asynchronous and synchro tilt, so, y’know. . . .

Blegh. I hate shopping.





For worse or for better

29 03 2015

Lemme have another go at this.

If there are different laws for different groups, then the differences between the groups will grow. People will join Camp A or Camp 5 or Camp Potato, and their actions will depend upon what camp they are, and are not, in. Even those—especially those—who don’t care one whit about camps will be pressured to choose, to pick a side.

Absent a neutral law, neutrality is hard to maintain.

And absent neutrality, pluralism is hard to maintain.





Whatever we deny or embrace

25 03 2015

Sometimes a girl just wants a beer.

I don’t want to have to be bothered with the bodega owner’s religious beliefs, or the beer company’s political donations; I don’t want to have to run through some kind of checklist of acceptable/unacceptable views before I lay down my 10 bucks for a six-pack.

You see, all that time I spent spewing a not-inconsiderable number of words on the concept of “one law for all”, I was really just covering for my own laziness.

Okay, not entirely true, but if we decide to divvy up our laws and protections based on personal beliefs, then those of us who have strong beliefs (of whatever sort) are gonna end up wasting time trying to make sure we’re not paying for someone else’s loathsome agenda.

I don’t mind searching for fair trade coffee, say, and do try (although sometimes fail: Amazon) to buy products and services from companies which don’t mistreat their workers; connecting labor conditions to the purchase of things labored is a pretty direct relationship, and thus makes sense to me.

But beyond that direct economic relationship, I’m a raving pluralist, and thus neither want nor expect that everyone and every company which produces anything I could possible buy, use, or otherwise enjoy would line up with my own beliefs.

More than that, I think it would be bad if we only ever consorted with our own kind on every last thing.

How dull. How constricting. How small.

I do notice the expressed political or religious views of authors and actors and musicians, and yeah, it does affect my view of them—and I don’t like that. (I have yet to write the Play to End All Plays, but if I could get Brian Dennehy or Danny Aiello to star, I would be a fool to turn them down just because they’re conservative.) I don’t know these people, will never know these people, so if I’m watching a movie or listening to a song, why should their personal views have anything to do with my enjoyment of their performance?

Such tribalism is only human, I guess, but I don’t have to feed it; getting past tribalism is human, too.

Which is where one-law-for-all comes into play: it’s good for pluralism. When we enter the public sphere, each of us is by law equal to the other, which means that by law each can go where and do whatever anyone else can do*. It is a basic kind of justice.

(*Yes, there are some exceptions to this—“employees only” and “you must be this tall. . .” and all that—but the general rule stands.)

It is—horribly—clear that not everyone is treated equally and that injustice is a daily part of life. Still, that we are all to be equal under the law promises, if only in the breach, that each of us deserves to be a part of public life, that however different we may be from one another, we belong.

All right, I’m getting tired, my thoughts are wandering, and this argument is falling apart even as I make it, so lemme just jump to the end: having different laws for different groups disrupts that basic equality and obscures the basic standard of justice. Instead of being free to move about the country, one has to worry about getting/determining who to shut out.

And the second end: if we instantiate the lines we draw around ourselves, those lines come to matter more than anything else—more than the beer, the books, or the movies we could enjoy, more than ease of moving through our towns and our cities, more than the experience of being in the world.

I don’t want society to be a mush; I want us to be able to differ. And the best way to do that is to make sure that, whatever our differences, we are, by law, treated the same.





Don’t you forget about me

22 03 2015

So I’m watching an old episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Counselor Troi is smacked down not once but twice: first by Picard, then by Crusher.

I searched, but I couldn’t find any supercuts of all of the times Counselor Troi got the back of the hand.

There should be a supercut of all of the times Counselor Troi got the back of the hand.





Language is a virus

20 03 2015

In honor of National Foreign Language week, a school in upstate New York decided to have students broadcast the Pledge of Allegiance in different languages.

Including Arabic.

Which, of course, upset some people.

The reading became the subject of angry talk throughout the school and a cascade of tweets both from students who criticized the reading and those who supported it.

The controversy has “divided the school in half,” according to [Pine Bush High School] Superintendent Joan Carbone. She described the reading as “something that was supposed to be good but turned out not to be.”

Early Wednesday afternoon, high school Principal Aaron Hopmayer made a building-wide announcement explaining the reading’s context and apologizing to students who took offense.

The apology appears to have done little to quell the situation; it may, in fact, have fueled resentment from students who feel the reading was appropriate.

Carbone said she had received complaints from district residents who had lost family members in Afghanistan and from Jewish parents who were equally outraged by the reading. (emphasis added)

Afghanistan, where the major languages are Dari and Pashto, and where the minor languages include Uzbek and Kyrgyz, but not Arabic. And who knew that merely speaking Arabic—itself a Semitic language—is anti-Semitic.

(By the way, nothing like reading the comments to remind oneself not to read the comments.)

Carbone apparently erred in allowing the Pledge broadcast in other languages—Dept of Ed regs require that it be read in English—but the OUTRAGE is less about the regs than the language itself.

It shouldn’t surprise me that a language can become a target—the US government is not the only one in the world which has attempted to snuff out a culture by snuffing out a language—but jeez. . . I. . . I don’t even know what to say.

Except: jeez.

~~~

h/t Huffington Post





Hanging on the telephone

19 03 2015

My phone is dying.

This is, of course, bullshit: I have an old landline that, were I to plug it into a working outlet, would work. It doesn’t do as much as cellphone can—it only sends and receives calls—but how did “better” tech come to mean “more fragile” tech?

Bullshit, I say. Bullshit!

Yet here I am, with an old, dying flip phone (the battery isn’t holding a charge), so I’m looking at new (-to-me) phones, and wondering what is the cheapest plan I can get.

I did look into getting a smartphone a coupla’ years ago, when my old plan expired, but the monthly cost would have been more than double what I was already (over) paying. I’m thinkin’ that if I can an old/refurbished phone—hey, even an old smartphone would be a leap in tech from what I’ve got—I can simultaneously avoid an overpriced plan: after all, the phone companies offer you a free/cheap new (otherwise crazy expensive) phone in exchange for a ruinous calling/data plan; get a cheap phone, get a cheap plan?

On the advice of friends, I’m looking at T-Mobile: they offer a 50 buck/month plan, plus the 12 bucks I’d pay for a used Samsung Galaxy S4. Verizon (which is what I currently have) is supposed to have great national coverage, but jeez, I only leave the state every coupla’ years, so why pay $70-80/month?

Maybe my old phone will rally—it’s faltered before, only to rebound—and I can hold off on spending more money on a tech which I rely upon and resent in about equal measure.

But if not, man, time to pony up.





If you don’t want to pay some more

18 03 2015

So. I made considerably more money this year than last—which is good, sure, that’s good.

But: this means that instead of getting a state tax refund, I’ll be paying. Which is not good.

Yeah, yeah, I choose to live in a high-tax locale, and I generally support redistribution blah blah, but I’m not going to let a little political hypocrisy get in the way of some personal complainin’.

Anyway, since I owe NY money, I’ll wait to file that return: it’s almost the same amount that I’m getting back from the feds, so right around the time that money comes in, it’ll be time to pay out. BASTARDS!!!

I do have one question, however: if I made so much more money, WHY AM I SO BROKE? Where did all that money go?

Damn.





Circus Maximus MMXVI

18 03 2015

We have a winner!

As previously mentioned, “Bread and Circuses 2016” was in the lead as the theme name for the upcoming ongoing presidential campaign, but when I came across this phrase, I thought Yessss.

To inaugurate this chariot race, let’s (re) consider the contenders:

Republicans, short- to long-shots:
Jeb Bush
Scott Walker
.
.
Chris Christie
Marco Rubio
.
.
Legit politician, could affect debates/win a state or two, no chance:
Ted Cruz
Lindsay Graham
Mike Huckabee*
John Kasich
Rand Paul
Rick Perry
Rick Santorum*

The entertainment:
John Bolton
Ben Carson
Carly Fiorina
Bobby Jindal

Update: *Included in “legit” category only because have actually held office and have chance of affecting the chances of other candidates; otherwise would, like Jindal, be slotted as “entertainment”.

Democrats:
Hillary Clinton
.
.
.
.
.
Joe Biden
.
.
.
Martin O’Malley
Bernie Sanders
Jim Webb

Do note that this list is near-completely impressionistic, i.e., I did no additional work beyond the mostly-casual reading I’ve been doing of the race thus far. Jonathan Bernstein is a clear influence (even if I don’t always agree with him) in terms of the significance of the invisible primary, and I did look at Larry Sabato’s list in compiling this one—although, again, I don’t necessarily follow his line.

Look to the “Know Yer Politics” links to the right for more-than-just-horse (chariot?)-race coverage. In the meantime, get your togas cleaned and your sandals resoled: it’s gonna be loooong 20 months.





We celebrate the land that made us refugees

17 03 2015





I’m watching everything

15 03 2015

So, CSI:Cyber has premiered.

Is it terrible? Of course it is.

Do I watch it? Of course I do.

~~~

I remain [perhaps overly] fond of Numb3rs. As mentioned [too many times] previously, I like the relationship between the brothers and between them and the father, I like the humor, I like their guest stars (Jay Baruchel and Josh Gad, in particular), and what I liked most of all was that and how they dealt with the misuse of force by the main character, Don. Yeah, the show got a little loopy at times in the sixth season, but since the sixth was also the last season, all was ended before the rot set it.

What I really did not like, however, was how David and Colby would—repeatedly—from 10 yards away from a suspect pull out their badges and yell, “FBI: stop right there!”

The suspect always runs. Always.

Guys, this happens every freakin’ time you walk up on someone. Can you not learn to wait until you’re right there before pulling the whole “we’re cops/you’re busted” routine?

~~~

Why hasn’t Cryptonomicon been made into a cable series yet?

It’s too involved for a single movie, or even a trilogy, but it would seem to be perfect for season or mini-season show on, I dunno, TNT or Netflix. I’m not necessarily a fan of all things Stephenson—I doubt I’ll ever get through Anathem–but Cryptonomicon is, relatively speaking, pretty straightforward.

Okay, so that relatively speaking does a lot of work, but imagine breaking up the episodes by different chapters or sections, and then offering the viewers a guide on how to watch it: You could watch episodes in the same order as they were presented in the book; you could isolate the WWII sections; isolate the 1990s sections; note those featuring the different characters; even include those bits on the details of cryptography (which I most assuredly would skip).

Stephenson can be annoying because of all of his digressions, but those same digressions are also why so many people like his books: they’re nerdy and overstuffed and repay repeated readings. (I watch the same shows over and over again; you can’t be surprised I re-read novels.) A well-done version of Cryptonomicon would be watched and re-watched and blogged about and argued about over and over and over again.

There would be some real issues to do with regarding language, and given all of the war scenes, it wouldn’t be cheap to film, but given Wikileaks and Snowden, this would be a great time to turn this text into television.

And man, I’d really love to see Bobby Shaftoe and Goto Dengo onscreen.