Monday, May 22, 2017

The Players

For those of you who can’t tell the players without a scorecard, we’ve prepared this handy list of Trump’s cabinet members and their mission statements.

Department Secretary Slogan
State Rex Tillerson Make oil great again.
Treasury Steve Mnuchin Make Wall St. great again.
Defense James Mattis Make America strong again.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions Fill America’s jails again.
Interior Ryan Zinke Make America for sale again.
Agriculture Sonny Perdue Make my family rich again.
Commerce Wilbur Ross Make me rich again.
Labor R. Alexander Costa Make Americans overwork again.
Health Tom Price Make America sick again.
Housing Ben Carson Huh?
Transportation Elaine Chao Make America walk again.
Energy Rick Perry Make fossil fuels great again.
Education Betsy DeVos Make America stupid again.
Veterans David Shulkin Benefit veterans again. Really.
Homeland Security John Kelly Make America white again.
CIA Mike Pompeo Make America secret again.
UN Nikki Haley Make America look great again.
EPA Scott Pruit Make America filthy again.
Small Business Linda McMahon Make America wrestle again.
OMB Mick Mulvaney Make America small again.

And, of course, Trump himself: Make America great again.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Net Futility

Technologists are making a lot of noise about net neutrality right now. The basic idea is that network providers should not be allowed to slow down traffic from sites they don’t like (i.e., sites that don’t pay them enough)

The fact is, the Internet is already dead. Or at least, the Web is. Most sites are so heavily laden with ads, videos, audio and other crap that it takes forever to get to the desired content. Pages take minutes to load, and during that time, portions of the page appear and disappear and scroll up and down in a manner guaranteed to frustrate anyone trying to read them.

A huge portion of all Internet traffic is Facebook, or pages that people have shared on Facebook. Sharing in this case means you mislead your friends into clicking the links to sites filled with ads, animations, auto-play noise, and listicles. A listicle is one of those pages that requires you to keep clicking Next to get through the content, while loading more and more ads, until you finally discover these were not the pages you were looking for anyway.

Forget net neutrality. Sites are slowing themselves down. You want faster Web pages? Leave out the freaking ads!

The other hot topic now is network security. People are talking about encrypting their data to prevent prying eyes from seeing which porn they’ve been searching, and using a virtual private networks (VPN) to hide which Web sites they’re visiting, though these sites already know what you’re looking at anyway.

And everyone is talking about covering your camera with a piece of tape, so no one can turn it on remotely to spy on you. Of course, that only protects you if you like to stand in front of your computer holding up a sign with all your private information on it. What you really want to block is the microphones in your computer.

Monday, May 15, 2017


One of the dire problems facing our society is stress. We find stress just in going about our lives … getting to work, doing the work, getting home … even trying to have fun is stressful.

And, of course, all this stress is not healthy. Doctors tell us we have to eliminate stress from our lives, that it causes or aggravates other medical problems.

The tests show that you have cancer. Try to relax.
This stress is so prevalent that people now take classes in how to relax. One of the more popular techniques is mindfulness, which is another way of saying “pay attention, for chrissake.”

Seriously, the central idea of mindfulness is just being aware of what’s going on around you … the sights, sounds, smells, etc. No less a newspaper than the mighty New York Times has a regular column on mindfulness that actually tells you what to notice in different situations: Feel the water as it hits your body … When you exit the shower, dry yourself.

Where would we be without the mainstream media?

Here’s a simple step-by-step procedure that could greatly benefit most of us as individuals, and society as a whole:

  1. Put down the goddamned phone.
There. You immediately start to notice things. Hmmm. Smell that coffee. Hear all those birds. Who knew there were so many birds around here? Wow! Look at those people pointing and yelling. Hey! See that bus coming this way!

Now don’t you feel better already?