Communication breakdown

27 02 2017

The good thing about keeping a computer for so long is that an even relatively inexpensive replacement feels luxurious.

I’ve transferred all of my files over and managed to load on older versions of WordPerfect and (a stripped-down) Microsoft Office, so I won’t have to buy new software. (And yeah, I’d buy the software: renting Microsoft Office for a year is about 70 bucks, which for me with my one computer would be a terrible deal: the stripped down or student version of Office is only 130 bucks.) I’m getting used to the new OS and its insistence that everything that’s not hardware or the OS itself is an “app”, which. . . whatever.

What nearly killed me, however, was the new router. I got it set up and communicating with my computer with the about expected amount of hassle, but holy mother of Mary the hookup to the printer was an ordeal.

And a failed one at that. Oh, I downloaded the drivers and my computer says, Oh, hey, there’s that printer; and after many, many, many false starts, managed to get the router to say, Yep, I see you.

But could I send something from the computer to the printer wirelessly? Why no, I could not.

I printed out the printer settings page, and the encryption mode and wireless link status are A-OK, but what should be a happy ménage à trois most certainly is not.

This is more irritation than crisis—I jacked the printer into the computer and was able to print my class notes just fine—but irritation nonetheless: I know this can work, should work, but it does not.

Yes, the story of life. Still.

Advertisements




Shock the monkey

25 02 2017

Yippee, my new computer is here!

Okay, I know, it’s just a computer, nothing high-end, basic black, but. . . Yippee, my new computer is here!

It didn’t come pre-loaded with all kinds of software/goodies/nonsense like my last one did, so I had to do a bit of figuring out the configuring, but nothing too drastic. Tomorrow I’ll dig out my old WordPerfect and Microsoft software and see if I can load ’em up and use ’em.

The big hassle was getting the new router sorted. I was going to wait until tomorrow—to see if the slowness of my old computer was due to its age or to the even older router—but then thought, What the hell, just hook it up already.

I always fuck up the router hook-up. I mean, I get it right, but never on the first try, which was once again my experience. Tomorrow I’ll try to get the wireless printer hip to the new router; given what a hassle it was setting it up last time, I see much swearing ahead.

The final bit of computer business was setting the wallpaper.  The computer came with a very nice ocean scene background, one which, were it on a work computer, I might have kept. But for my personal PC, I go with primates-in-the-wild: two computers ago, I used a snow monkey; the last one, lemurs. A quick search, and I found one I’m happy with:

pensive-howler

Photo by Joel Sartore

I spanned it (which had the happy effect of cropping out the text), and now I have a pensive howler monkey on my desk.

This works for me.





Doctor, doctor, give me the news

23 02 2017

Well, that’s been disappointing.

I’d loved the first half-season of Code Black, loved its bitterness and edges and the stumbles into sorrow, loved Marcia Gay Harden and Luis Guzmán and Raza Jaffrey and the adorably cynical Kevin Dunn. It slackened as the season went on, lost Dunn, softened up a bit, but it was still good, reminiscent of early E.R. and St. Elsewhere.

This season, uck. Harden’s tough-ass doc has melted into goo, and the über-obnoxious surgeon Will Campbell (Boris Kodjoe) has, of course, been revealed to have a heart o’ gold. Jillian Murray’s Heather Pinkey managed to hang on to some of her attitude right up to the moment they killed her off.

And Rob Lowe? Don’t really hate him, but his soul-wounded army doc character is a bit of a bore.

None of this means I’ve stopped watching it—I’m still watching Criminal Minds, for chrissakes—but it went off right quick.

~~~

I’m not really watching The Blacklist anymore, although I’ll probably dip in to watch the current season once it hits Netflix. I still enjoy James Spader enormously, but I just can’t get over that his objet d’art, Elizabeth, just. . . really isn’t any good at her job.

Still, I’ll probably take a peek at The Blacklist: Redemption when it airs.

~~~

Watched the first season of Breakout Kings, which is basic and fine in the best possible way; second season TK.

Watched a few episodes of Containment, which has been compelling, if not exactly enjoyable.

Two episodes into  Travelers, which, we’ll see. I mean, I’ll think I’ll like it (presuming it doesn’t go to shit), and it is nice to catch all those Canadian actors.

Gotta be better than The OA, of which I saw 2? 3? episodes? I don’t know why I watched even the entire premiere.

~~~

Still haven’t gotten all the way through Person of Interest. I really like this show, but knowing that things are going to get very bad. . . well, I just can’t handle that right now.

Conversely, I don’t think I’ll be re-watching any of The West Wing. Yes, it was a fantasy and yes there were some truly, truly awful episodes and story arcs, but man, that was a hell of a cast, and CJ and Toby were two of the best characters ever to walk and talk. Anyway, can’t watch (the honestly not-that-great) Bartlett in the t.v. White House knowing who’s in the DC version.

No, my comfort watching of late are the crew from Leverage. Nate and Sophie and Eliot and Hardison (“Dammit Hardison!”) and Parker (Parker!) are exactly who I need to get me through.





I turn to my computer

17 02 2017

Bought it, and a router.

Of course, I spend an hour (or so. . . ) looking at router reviews, settled on two or three (of the cheaper ones), checked reviews, then said What the hell and went with the mid-priced one. Again, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Part of the issue is just making my way through the completely different kinds of reviews. The variety makes sense, really: a technophile will look focus features x, y, and z, while an end-user like me, who just wants something reliable, will likely focus on p, q, and r. Still, reading the techie reviews can at least clue me in the importance of, say, x, and so I’ll factor that into my considerations as well.

There is no method to my shopping anxiety. I look top-ten lists, check various tech mags, and toggle back-and-forth between those and Amazon reviews (some of which are themselves quite tech-informed). I’ll then pull up this product and that, compare the specs, the prices, then maybe check out a few more products, check more reviews. I’ll twist myself around in a self-made tornado of information before I say, Paugh, enough.

I am, after all, only buying a computer, not a spouse.

As for the experts, I might concede their criticisms of while nonetheless concluding that it doesn’t really matter.

I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. Many years ago, when my little workhorse HP printer broke down (after a number of jerry-rigged fixes that kept it chugging along) and I was casting about for a new printer, I went with a highly-tech-rated Epson.

I didn’t love it. The features the reviewer concentrated on were not particularly the ones which mattered to me—something I realized only after I unboxed the thing. I still have it, but it’s basically stowed out of the way and hauled out only when I need to scan something.

For my day-to-day printing, I went with another boxy little workhorse, a Brother laser-printer. It’s basic—black-and-white, no scanning—but that sucker prints page after page after page of text; given that I do almost all of my printing in draft mode, the print cartridge can last for years.

So, are my new purchases what a technophile would buy? Hell no. I can appreciate their insights while recognizing that, when it comes to computers, I am pretty goddamned basic. And I’m all right with that.





I press Execute

15 02 2017

What a pain in the ass.

Buying a new computer, that is, or, more directly, trying to figure out which computer to buy.

I’m going low-end full-on laptop (non-gaming), meaning something in the $500-700 range. I thought I’d found a month or so ago what I wanted to buy, but tonight as I was clicking around, I got caught up in this review and that and ohmymotherpuppinggoddess by the end I was convinced that no matter what I’d choose, I’d choose wrong.

Fuuuuuuuuck.

Anyway, I think I’m going to go with what I’d originally settled on. It seems to have the combination of features I want, it’s at the lower end of the price range, and, y’know, given that this baby is 8 1/2 years old, anything I get will be better and faster than what I’m used to.

So tomorrow (payday!), or Friday, I’ll finally hit BUY. Then I’ll worry. Then it’ll arrive. Then I’ll instantly love/hate it. Then I’ll get used to it and it’ll be fine.

All of this agita for . . . and it’ll be fine. Shees.





Outside gets inside through her skin

13 02 2017

“Host.”

Ultimately, [Humphrey] said, his intent was to let men have a say. “I believe one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types of decisions,” he said. “I understand that they feel like that is their body,” he said of women. “I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant,” he explained. “So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.”

All of the words I have would not be enough—which is fine, since he doesn’t deserve words, anyway.

Via





There are some who are in darkness

9 02 2017

First off, what is this shit? Few inches of snow and schools, CUNY close? If it’s safe enough for kids to go sledding, it’s safe enough for them to go to school.

I hate snow days: I put some effort into plotting out the syllabus, so missed days throws that off. Yeah, I do allow some slack, but I’d rather I, rather than the weather, were in charge of that flexibility.

(Straigtens shirt, smooths hair.) Back to bizness, and another hoisting-up of a dmf comment:

I remember when pol-sci/history types were going around telling us that Trump’s US was not the same as Hitler’s Germany (and I don’t think Trump is a fascist, too self-consumed for that) as if we knew which factors were the determinate ones in bringing facism to bloom, never struck me as being particularly verifiable, what would be the test of such assertions/speculations?

As one of those ranting that the US was/is not Weimar, I’d offer up the following as crucial factors:

1. History. The United States were created in rebellion against the British, and both the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution were written by those who prevailed in that rebellion. Slavery tore the country apart, but, again, with the victory of the Union and, crucially, the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution, the US began a shift from United States to United States.

The Weimar republic, on the other hand, was borne of defeat, and its opponents never tired of blaming the republicans themselves for the loss the autocratic Kaiser and his generals, Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff inflicted on the nation. The German populace was completely unprepared for defeat—the Kaiser himself thought well into fall that the Germans were on the brink of victory—and thus willing to entertain the notion that they were ‘stabbed in the back’. Not everyone accepted the Dolchstoßlegende, but the poison injected into the embryonic republic did weaken it.

2. Constitutional legitimacy. The US Constitution is widely and deeply accepted as legitimate across the political spectrum, although there are, of course, wide and deep differences as to the appropriate interpretation of said constitution. Those differences, significantly, break along whose interpretation is more legitimate, not whether the founding document is itself legit.

The Weimar Constitution, on the other hand, was never widely accepted, and the parties which ushered it into existence were themselves ushered out of power within a few years of its adoption. The Social Democrats and the German Democratic Party did serve in multiple governments between 1919 and 1932, but after 1920 elections, they never held the majority in the Reichstag. Further, after Social Democratic Friedrich Ebert’s death, the anti-republican Hindenburg took over as president; while he did little during the 1920s actively to undermine the republic, he did little to support it, either.

Which leads to the third point:

3. Constitutional structure. The German republic was, like the US, a federated one; unlike the US, however, the selection of the political leader was non-democratic.

Citizens did vote directly for members of the Reichstag (varying terms) and for the president (fixed 7-year term). Unlike in most parliamentary systems, however, where the majority party (the party with the best chance of forming a majority coalition) is offered the chance by a president or monarch to form a government and take over the prime minister’s/chancellor’s office, during Weimar the president could select whomever he wanted as chancellor.

This became an issue once Hindenburg took over. Given that he despised liberalism and republicanism and distrusted universal suffrage, he was loath to select a chancellor from the majority party/coalition. In fact, he was so opposed that he initially denied Hitler the chance to form a government which, as the leading party after the July 1932 elections, was his due. It was only after the failure of various conservative chancellor’s that he agreed to offer Hitler the chancellorship, along with only two (albeit crucial) cabinet posts.

Finally, the Weimar constitution under Article 48 gave the president emergency powers to suspend the constitution—a power which Ebert himself exercised rather too often—and which was used by Hindenburg and Papen to overthrow the Prussian state government; the coup was a death blow to the republic.

There is no equivalent power available to the US president.

These are the three most important factors, I think, in arguing against any kind of equivalence, but there are others as well. While the US is a violent society, the levels of political violence are in no way comparable to those of the Weimar republic: throughout the 1920s paramilitary organizations were aligned with all of the major parties, and they regularly engaged in brawls, intrigues, and, especially on the right, assassinations. Furthermore, the judiciary indulged right-wing violence—Hitler, a non-citizen, was nonetheless able to use ‘patriotism’ in his defense of the beer-hall putsch and to secure a light sentence—and the political parties routinely agreed to amnesty deals for their respective fighters.

Let me pull out that bit about the judiciary: it, like the civil service, the army, and most police forces, was hostile to the republic and unconcerned about its health. Many of those who served in these institutions, as well as in the universities, held to a notion of an ‘eternal Germany’ to which they devoted their loyalty—not the liberal-infested and hopefully-temporary republic; they were biding their time to a return to (authoritarian) normalcy.

In short, almost all governmental and a number of major civil society institutions were explicitly anti-republican and would at best do nothing and at worst abet those plotting to overthrow it. There are certainly those in the US who don’t accept the legitimacy of Democratic rule—see the Obama presidency, assaults on voting rights, or what’s happening in North Carolina—but there are institutional (largely although not solely judicial) barriers to wiping out the rights of Democrats and their sympathizers.

One last thing: As much as I don’t think we’re Weimar, I’m also not as confident as I was 4 months ago that we are exceedingly unlikely to become Weimar. I still consider it unlikely—there are far more buffers against collapse in the US than there were in 1920s Germany—but I admit that I will paying very close attention to those buffers over the next 2-4 years.

I was complacent before November 8, believing a defense of our republic unnecessary; no longer.