Category Archives: Random Musings

Not Enough Items for the Express Lane?

I needed something lighter to talk about, and today, I chanced upon a perfect case. I was at a grocery story with three items for snacking on tonight, and I saw the sign above one lane which said, "EXPRESS LANE, About 15 items." I wish I had a picture.

That sign confuses me. I only had three items. The sign said the express lane is for about 15 items. Three is nowhere near fifteen. It clearly isn't "About 15 items." Does that mean I couldn't use the express lane? If so, how many more items would I need to buy before I was allowed to use it?

Sadly, I couldn't get an answer to this mystery as the express lane was closed but I did mention it to the cashier who rang up my items. He thought it was funny.

I Am Actually Afraid

I know some people will say this issue is just "more of the same," but I posted this on Facebook a few days ago:

Greg Gianforte assaulted a reporter out of annoyance, had his staff lie about it, got reelected mere days later then pled guilty to the crime after the election. Rather than be condemned and driven out of the party, the Republican party has backed him to the point the president of the United States lavishes praise on him on national television.

Say what you want about political issues and how the "other side" does blah, blah, blah. Just understand this. If you support Trump and are physically capable of body slamming me, I'm going to be a little afraid whenever I'm near you.

And I mean it. I know some people made jokes when people talked about things like "Trump induced anxiety" or "Trump Stress Disorder," and I do understand why. The idea Donald Trump getting elected should be enough to cause a an actual disorder seems outlandish. But is it?

The President of the United States goes on the national stage to celebrate criminally assaulting people his group doesn't like. Not in theory. Not with rhetoric of, "We should go after them!" Those would be bad enough. But no, Trump takes an actual case where an elected official assaulted a man and praises it as a good thing. And Republicans are content with this.

This frightens me. It doesn't frighten me for some hypothetical, moral reason. This is plenty disturbing in matters of principle. I'd understand being worried because of that alone. But I live in an area that overwhelmingly voted for Trump. Many didn't just vote for him, but are proud supporters of him. They are proud of Trump, Trump says assaulting people who are the enemy is good, and I am an outspoken critic of Trump. Is it really unreasonable to think this might lead to me getting hurt?

Side note, a bunch of people who support Trump honestly believe the dozen or so devices sent to people on the Democratic side were a false flag operation. They were certain of that before any information or evidence was available. It was nothing more than them forcing things to fit their incredibly biased worldview.

I won't say I'm suffering depression from all this, but it is hard for me to want to interact with people. I've tried to write several blog posts in the last week but couldn't finish any of them because of this. What's the point? Sure there are tons of people who don't support Trump, but is that because they are of good character or because Trump's platform just doesn't line up with their personal desires?

This Made Me Laugh

I was reviewing some past topics of discussion today, and I happened to spend some time reviewing what happened with a libel lawsuit a scientist (Mark Jacobson) published after he claimed criticis intentionally published false claims about his work. The case itself doesn't matter for today's purposes. What matters is he sued both an author of a paper which made the claims and the journal the paper was published in. That journal is named the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). It made a hilarious argument in response to the lawsuit:


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Seriously, Why Be So Obvious About It?

My last post used the word "lie" somewhat loosely because the person I was discussing in the post frequently accuses people of fraud/lying with the flimsiest of bases. Given such a person was simply making things up, I thought worrying about the exact nuances of what a "lie" is was unnecessary.

However, the person I criticized has continued to behave in a similar manner as before, again saying things which were not only untrue, but untrue in a blatant fashion. Given that, I'd like to spend a little time looking into just what constitutes a lie. Not because what Duarte said or did is that important, but because of a simple question which haunts me: "If a person were going to tell a lie, would they really be so obvious about it?"
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Republican or Democrat?

This last week or so has been a truly bizarre time in the United States. Senator John McCain passed away, and there was a great outcry from people who knew him, on both sides of the political spectrum, about how great a loss that was. Republicans and Democrats alike spoke of his personal character, expressing respect and affection despite their differences.

That's normal enough, though I doubt there are many politicians who could hope to get such praise. What's bizarre is how the rest of society reacted. McCain was a frequent critic of President Trump despite (ostensibly) being from the same party. There was a huge feud between the two, and as a result, a lot of the people in the Republican party came to hold a negative view of McCain.

This created a strange situation where it seemed liberals held a higher viewer of McCain than Republicans. Time and time again, I would turn on a "liberal" television station like MSNBC and see more positive coverage for McCain than I would if I turned on the "conservative" station Fox News. This pattern held in my personal experiences on social media and in real life. Even as Republican politicians, aides and other "establishment" members praised McCain, Fox News and Republican voters spoke much less favorably of him.

The situation was even stranger when examined further. Many of the Republicans who did speak out to praise McCain after his passing refused to speak like that while he was still alive. Very few of them spoke in McCain's defense during his feud with Trump. Presumably, they figured siding against Trump would cost them their next election so they kept silent.

I don't have a good way to wrap this up. The situation is bizarre but not really surprising. The Republican party is being held hostage by a large segment of its base. That's "normal" in the sense it's perfectly predictable. But it's also bizarre in that this week, if you were a Republican from 10 years ago, you'd give all appearances of being a Democrat.

That's weird, right?

Thirty Years of Nonsense

I have always found the global warming debate weird. I am not a "denier" or "skeptic" in terms of viewpoint. I'm not even a "warmist" or "alarmist." I've been called all these things, but the truth is I just don't care. My view regarding global warming has always been very simple - the people who claim it is a serious threat act in such a bizarre way, I don't believe them.

Think about the Hollywood movies where an alien invasion is coming to earth Think about the movies where an asteroid is heading to Earth to doom us all. Think about the movies where the Earth's magnetic core is going to... I can't even pretend to follow the plot of those ones. The point is, think about how the scientists in those movies behave. Sure, they do "crazy" things, but they have this air of sincerity and absolute honesty which makes it clear the audience really should listen to them. They risk everything, with no possible benefit to themselves, to try to help humanity.

Now look at the global warming debate. It's filled with people who routinely refuse to do something even so simple as say, "Yeah, sorry, I was a bit unclear there." Getting even the simplest of errors corrected in the global warming debate is like pulling teeth. Time and time again, I've experienced a reaction where pointing out even the simplest of errors is met with the attitude of, "How dare you?!"

It's crazy. If you believed global warming is a serious threat we must all band together to combat, would you act like a political pundit aiming to score points, or would you act like Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day and risk every aspect of yourself to try to make people believe there was a genuine threat?

Your answer to that says everything. And now, with the 30th anniversary of the (in)famous testimony by James Hansen to the United States Congress in 1988, we get a perfect encapsulation of what that answer is. I'd like to discuss it.
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A Moral Dilemma

I've been struggling with a decision for the last week or so. About a week ago, I happened to stumble into an online... let's say area, where people are, amongst other things, openly discussing illegal activity they engage in. I don't mean they're having vague discussions. I mean there are specific, verifiable details. I can even identify a number of the people involved in them by name.

The problem I'm faced with is I don't view the illegal activity in question as "wrong." I'm not saying it is good or should be legal. I just don't care if people engage in it. For the sake of discussion, let's imagine the activity was selling marijauna (it is not). Given the locations and quantities involved, people could be facing significant jail time if I reported them to authorities.

So here's the dilemma. Do I have an obligation to report criminal activity to authorities even if I don't have a problem with the activity itself? Legally, I know I might. On the other hand, people routinely fail to report criminal activities for any number of reasons. And everybody breaks some laws. I don't know how one draws a clear line between speeding/selling a narcotic which makes one okay and the other heinous.

Supposing I don't report what I've discovered to the authorities, what about the area I've stumbled into. It was obviously meant to be secure. Can I walk away without reporting the security vulnerability I discovered which allows anyone to enter, even by mistake? If I do, am I not (partially) responsible for any future cases of someone stumbling in like I did? But if I report the problem, aren't I actively assisting criminals and helping them get away with breaking the law?

As a final question, the problem with the security for this area which I accidentally exploited gives me administrative control over everything which goes on in it. I've also confirmed there are no external backups. If I don't report what I've discovered to the authorities or the people engaged in criminal activity, what should I do with that control? Do I ignore it and never go back? Do I monitor the discussions out of some sort of voyeuristic delight and/or attempt to ensure no criminal activities of a more serious nature get discussed? Do I shut down the server and destroy all the evidence? What is the "right" thing to do here?

Why is This What You'd Argue About?

As most of you will know, I have been critical of Steve McIntyre recently in regard to a number of issues, including simple things like him (basically) claiming a person using Microsoft Outlook couldn't possibly be using a Google e-mail account. In my criticisms of him and his writings, I have repeatedly discussed factual, verifiable matters. Steve has chosen not to address... well, basically any of them.

Today I'd like to discuss a bizarre case where Steve decided to take a stand and firmly say I am wrong. For the life of me, I can't figure out why this would be an issue he'd want to take a strong stance on.
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