In which Dinesh D’Souza proves he doesn’t know the difference between past tense and present tense.

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(written in response to an insipid Facebook post by the -- thankfully -- inimitable Dinesh D'Souza, showing the idiotic comic copied above)
“Is” is not the same as “was”.
 
But, hey, what would you expect from a hack?
 
I think it’s actually hilarious that defenders of the modern GOP think they can win arguments by brining up what the Republican Party was before the Southern Strategy. Sure, the GOP used to have moderates and even progressives in it, and sure, the GOP of the 1860s took some bold stands on racial equality. Moreover, the Democratic Party was home to racists, segregationists, and secessionists.
 
Oops, there’s that key word again…”was“. Starting in the middle of the 20th Century, the Democratic Party began to take a more progressive stand and to drive out the racists, segregationists, and secessionists. Luckily for those outcasts, the other major party — that would be the Republican Party, if you’re having trouble keeping track — decided that, to score cheap electoral victory, it would happily become the new home for racists, segregationists, and secessionists. It banked on exploiting the fears and prejudices of the White majority because electoral success looked easier that way. Of course, you can’t spend 40 years pandering to the lowest ugly factors of human nature without eventually becoming tainted by them and transforming into the beast you thought you were controlling.  So here we are today, with Donald Trump nothing more than the unfiltered id of the raw sewer of racial entitlement and resentment that Richard Nixon, Kevin Phillips, and Lee Atwater tapped into.
It must be conceded that “The Democratic Party opposed integration and Civil Rights for over 100 years”.  That puts the end of their opposition to, hmmm, let’s see, carry the one… oh, yeah, the 1960s.  Meanwhile, the Republican Party embraces racist attitudes and policies today — not fifty years ago, but today.  Really, which one are we supposed to cheer?  Proving once again that Dinesh D’Souza is an idiot.
I am actually quite proud of the fact that I was disdaining Dinesh D’Souza back in the late 1980s, before he was a national disgrace and a widely-known joke.

Three thoughts on the FBI’s bite at the Apple






I had three thoughts after reading about the brewing conflict between Apple and the FBI.











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I read a primer in Vox on the developing fight between Apple Computer and the FBI, and it spurred three distinct thoughts in me.

The basic contention is whether Apple should be forced to disable a security feature on the phone of the San Bernadino shooter, so that the FBI can brute-force the phone without fear of it nuking itself after some number of bad guesses (10, I think, but I’m not sure).

Firstly, the author includes the line

The concern is that the government is trying to take advantage of a particularly odious defendant to set a precedent that could have much broader implications.

Well, duh.  The defendants in all important civil liberties cases look like terrible people, because those are the people the state most egregiously assaults.

Secondly, there’s a thing I don’t understand, and would love to hear from someone who knows:  To change the behavior, it seems to me, Apple would have to craft a special iOS update.  But after that, the crippled update would have to be installed.  Won’t it require knowing the passcode for that to happen?  Can Apple force an update down the pipe even to phones that are locked?  It seems to me that the request of the FBI is not only odious and an offense to the safety of citizens.  It might also be technically impossible.

Thirdly, I am a little disappointed — assuming what I’m about to say is actually true — that the NSA or other competent agency doesn’t have the capacity to read out the non-volatile memory non-destructively somehow.  They could then run an iPhone simulator with the copied data and brute-force it.  Every time it froze or self-erased, the agency could just reboot the simulator and try again.  This would take time but then you wouldn’t need any sort of help from Apple.

Or maybe the NSA doesn’t want to admit to having such a capacity.  🙂

 

Lost Worlds and A Strange Visitor From Another Planet

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I just re-watched the pilot of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1996).  It is actually pretty good, especially for a late-1990s superhero show.  It’s sly and clever, and does a nice job working around its obviously-inadequate effects budget.  There’s real chemistry between Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher, as well.  Hatcher really sells Lois Lane as a modern women, the natural progression of the character’s strong arc since her introduction.

One thing really did stand out to me about this pilot, though, that is both endearing and maybe a little depressing.  The writers went with the “evil businessman” version of Lex Luthor that’s been common since the Crisis on Infinite Earths.  The pilot had to have Lex plotting some nefarious scheme for the sake of pure profit.  But what?

The sabotage of the space program.

Really.  The “Congress of Nations” is about to launch the first 100 colonists to a new space station (Prometheus).  Lex wants to blow up the launch, doom Prometheus, and replace it with Space Station Luthor.  (Of course.)  His motive is the billion-dollar patents that will flow from research done in zero-g on new drugs and treatments.  The loss of the first transport is greeted as a national tragedy.  The launch of the replacement (with the colonists) draws a viewing public all over the world, with everyone on the edge of their seats.

That’s what I find both endearing and sad.  When was the last time our (crewed) space program elicited that sort of enthusiasm?  Heck, we can’t even launch people into space anymore.   For the writers of this show, movement forward into space was the obvious, almost inevitable mark of progress, of there being a future.  It might well be the last time popular TV treated it that way.

And to me, that’s a little sad.  We have miracles and wonders today, of course, but somehow everything seems … small.  Musk and Bezos are slogging forward and dragging us, I suppose, but it certainly doesn’t fire the popular imagination any longer.  I hope we’re just in a holding pattern, waiting for the technology to meet its potential, but I don’t know.

(By the way, Superman — of course — foils the sabotage and lifts the transport into orbit himself.  Because, hey, Superman.)

“Morning” After Blues?

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I had the same thought as Steve Bennen when he penned A generation later, Rubio flubs ‘Morning in America’:

Maybe the whole “morning” metaphor was a little too subtle for Marco Rubio. He’s not pitching Reagan’s message; he’s offering the literal opposite.

The point of “Morning in America” was that things had turned a corner and were getting better under the current President at the time (Reagan).  The Gipper had vanquished darkness and we were headed into a glorious new American day.  Things would only get better.  Is that really the impression Rubio wants to make on current voters?  That Barack Obama healed our wounds and improved our standing?  (I happen to agree but it’s odd for Rubio to make that case.)

The ad itself is appropriately apocalyptic and more in keeping with the current GOP memes.  I wonder if the Rubio campaign commissioned a more upbeat ad, then realized that Rubio as optimist wasn’t getting any traction, and thus called up the ad company and said “Make it completely different”, but all the contracts had been printed or something.

Or maybe they just got the name wrong.  Maybe it’s a typo.  Maybe the title was supposed to be, “Morning After in America”.  Or “Morning … of DOOMSDAY in America!”

Odd and sloppy, no matter what.  Well, at least the cognitive dissonance is getting them some free airplay, I suppose.

Versailles on the Potomac

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{Originally penned 2015 Apr 26 and recently rescued from the Drafts folder}

So there have been police confrontations (and possibly even riots) in Baltimore over the past 12 hours, but apparently CNN didn’t feel compelled to cover them.  Instead they kept with covering the White House Correspondents’ Dinner where various people, including the President, got to make jokes.  Justification for ignoring the major story a mere hour’s drive north included:

“You can find a live feed if you actually want to watch what’s going on”

though apparently not on CNN, a 24-hour news network to which people (supposedly) turn for exactly that — live coverage of significant events.

Also offered was this gem:

“People will be informed….They’ll find out all of what happened in the streets of Baltimore by this time tomorrow”

I sort of thought that informing people was exactly the role of — and I repeat myself — a twenty-four hour news network.  But hey, maybe I’m old fashioned.  And this could easily be spun into a “death of old media” story about how traditional news renders itself irrelevant by ceding the breaking stuff to the Internet., and get off my lawn, and all that.  But I want to go a different direction.

This is not just CNN old-media cluelessness.  This is a symptom of rot at the core of our democracy.  The opinion-shapers and policy-makers of the Republic gathered in that room, and it was shown for all to goggle over.  They entertained themselves and rubbed shoulders and celebrated just how accomplished and how connected they are.  And they are!   All the big names in politics come out and make nice with the so-called journalists tasked with covering them.  A big messy live situation?  That would ruin the ambience.

The WHCD has become a festering boil, a signal of the decline of American reporting and the rise of what might be called the journalism-industrial complex.   All that matters to the powers that be is a navel-gazing exercise of petty partisan politics and vast egoism.  While real people march and protest and die, the influence-peddlers of our day can’t be bothered to even note it in passing.

Lunacon 2014 (2): Saturday

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Even though Lunacon is over, I’m going to keep writing up my notes and impressions, if only to keep writing in general.

Saturday was the busiest day of the con, and it certainly showed in my personal programming grid.  I faced the typical con paradox:  Too many good panels all at the same time.  I ended up at the following:

Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

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{originally written 2013 May 23, then banished to the Drafts folder for no good reason when I never got around to finishing it.}

Spoiler-free review:  A solid sophomore outing for the NuTrek crew, but it’s no Wrath of Khan. ====== Spoilers follow =========== Continue reading “Review: Star Trek Into Darkness”

Marc Cohn @ The City Winery, 2012 Jan 26

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{This has apparently been sitting in my Drafts folder for four years.  Oops.  I never finished it, so it ends abruptly. -=-BLG}

It’s been a while (a real long while) since I’ve gotten to a Marc Cohn show, but this one was worth it.  He played the City Winery, which is an odd hybrid of concert space, fine dining, boutique winery, and microbrewery.  I ordered my ticket early and got a really good seat at the last row of tables on the floor, just before the risers to a second tier.  And I snagged one that faced the stage (as about half of them face away), saving myself a tremendous crick in my neck.

I arrived well early so as to get dinner ordered and done before the show.  The food selection is a bit limited though it seemed like there was lots of good stuff on the menu.  I got a flatbread pizza and finished with an order of house-made pretzels that somehow or another are made from the house wine.  I don’t really get how that works.  The pretzels were fine (crunchy and mostly unsalted, which actually is what I wanted).   Since I don’t drink, I can’t speak to the wines.