Random observation of the day

When I look at Amazon's daily deals, frequently they include "certified refurbished" items, often fairly expensive items such as Dyson fans and vacuum cleaners.

And I invariably muse, "Why would it make sense for me to buy something someone else hated enough to send back?"

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In which I explain my support for Secretary Hillary Clinton for President

I "Felt the Bern" for a long time during Sanders' candidacy, within days of his announcement. On a basic gut level, I preferred his populist progressive positions over Clinton's.  Even as early on, Clinton was trotting out "protect Social Security and Obamacare" messages and promoting those awful free trade agreements, Sanders was proposing expanding Social Security, lowering the retirement age back to 65, increasing benefits, replacing Obamacare with universal healthcare, making public college tuition free, and so on. On the other hand, on the social issues, they didn't disagree at all, so I had nothing to complain about there.

Really, the early Democratic debates were boring because they spent most of the time agreeing with each other. I was hopeful when the caucuses and primaries started that the unashamedly liberal firebrand would take the lead early and take the nomination in a rout. That didn't happen, obviously. From the first Super Tuesday on, Clinton proved she was preferred by more Democrats than Sanders. Week after week, primary after primary, she kept increasing her leads. Sanders did usually recover when he hit the favorable demographics and open caucuses, but lost ground again — often by large amounts — whenever the race turned back to the closed primaries and Clinton-favorable demographics.

Put simply, whenever Sanders won big percentages, it was the small caucus states mostly; whenever Clinton won big percentages, it was the high-population primary states. Hence her lead of more than 3 million in the popular vote now. April 26th was my self-imposed deadline, the middle-Atlantic Super Tuesday, which included coincidentally my original home state of Pennsylvania. Either Sanders needed to show he could start beating Clinton by double-digit margins or recognize the reality of "the math" simply not being in his favor. Yes, a week later he won in Indiana by a small margin…and fell further behind on the percentage of pledged delegates remaining that he'd need to win the nomination. Even if he started beating Clinton in every single state remaining by 55/45, he would still lose.

In California, the biggest remaining state of all, he's behind by around 10 points; he'd have to turn that around by more than 25 now. Which seems very unlikely at this point. I supported Sanders staying in the race until the end, if only to help keep pulling Clinton to the progressive left, as is obvious he's already done. I supported Sanders' notion he should have a hand in shaping the party platform — and perhaps even have a prominent position in the Clinton administration. Hell, I actually mused what a powerhouse a Clinton/Sanders ticket would be. (Not likely, I know, but still.)

However, as I noted in other comments of mine scattered about the Internet blogs, I was unsettled by Sanders' lack of specificity and seeming lack of grasping the details of getting things done in the NY Daily News interview. (Seriously, I think that paper should get a Pulitzer just for managing to interview just about all the prominent candidates, in depth, and to ask really great questions.) I didn't like how "Wall Street" and "Goldman Sachs" became a drinking game whenever he spoke. I was bothered more by Sanders' continued insistence even now that he can still win the nomination outright. And my breaking point was almost there when he began suggesting the super-delegates — the elected and former leaders of the Democratic party — should defy the popular vote, the pledged delegates, and the primary results and give him the nomination.

I'm even witnessing his supporters apparently moving the goalposts, saying Sanders only needs a bare majority of the pledged delegates to win (2,026), whereas they insist Clinton's "magic number" benchmark is now 2,283, in pledged, not super-delegates. My "fuck it, I just can't even" moment came when he said this back on the 26th:

“We’re not a movement where I can snap my fingers and say to you or to anybody else what you should do, that you should all listen to me. You shouldn’t. You make these decisions yourself. “And if Secretary Clinton wins, it is incumbent upon her to tell millions of people who right now do not believe in establishment politics or establishment economics, who have serious misgivings about a candidate who has received millions of dollars from Wall Street and other special interests. She has to go out to you.”

That's the opposite of responsible leadership and an abdication of responsibility as a would-be leader of the Democratic party. It is their JOB to persuade people to do the right thing. Even hinting he won't endorse the party's nominee if it's Clinton is appalling. And he's basically implying it's okay to just sit out the election if Clinton doesn't persuade all his people to switch to supporting her instead. Sanders won't lift a finger to help make that happen.

Sanders isn't morally equivalent to Trump. Neither is Clinton. Neither of them is perfect. I still prefer Sanders' positions in general, but over the months I've become more confident in Clinton's ability to get things done and command of the details of governing — and most of what she says she wants to do isn't bad at all. Her husband gave us Ginsberg and Breyer; I expect her SCOTUS picks to be even better. If Clinton says she'll improve the PPACA ('Obamacare') in some incremental way, I'll complain about it, but her chances of getting it done far exceed Senator Sanders' chances for giving the country universal no-insurance healthcare. Not when her plan is "win back Congress" and his (in his own words) was for people to email and fax the Republicans.

But Trump IS Trump — and he will be the GOP nominee. Hell, in an alternate reality where Romney suddenly declared he was a Democrat and was the party's unexpected nominee — I'd vote for HIM rather than sit out the election or throw away my vote on a pointless 3rd party candidate.

This isn't lesser evils. It's a greater evil versus whomever the Dems nominate (again, presumptively Clinton). This is someone you might or might not like or even have decided you hate versus a mentally ill monster. An avowed racist, xenophobe, misogynist and guy eager to torture prisoners, bomb innocent civilians, and maybe even use nuclear weapons. Nixon was run out of office for targeting his political enemies; Trump has already promised he'll "do the same, and more." And Trump has literally said he wants to make "unfair" statements about him illegal. Including no doubt this blog post right here.

No independent Sanders run or 3rd party Green or Libertarian candidate will stop Trump. Only the Democrats can do that right now. Only them. Provided the party as a whole doesn't fuck this up, as I already know they can do.

As far as I was concerned, Sanders' narrow win and pick-up of just 6 delegates in Indiana was the final nail in the already sealed coffin. I could support him as long as he was promoting the liberal-populist cause itself. I could no longer support Sanders when it became clear he intends to do as much damage to the Clinton campaign as possible during the next several weeks, and that he apparently had no loyalty to the Democrats at all. They seem to have been just a convenient vehicle for his own ambitions.

I'll be honest here, too: While I supported and was enthusiastic about Senator Bernie Sanders for many months, I never stopped believing Clinton was a perfectly acceptable alternative. Especially given who the GOP is running. I finished off many of my remarks with "I support Sanders, but I will support whomever the Democrats nominate for President, and every one of their down-ticket candidates this year. Because it's just that important."

Well, the nominee is just about certain now to be Clinton. So I decided it was time finally to do what I promised to do for all those months: Support the presumptive Democratic party nominee. I just donated to her campaign, for my first time this cycle.

I wish Bernie Sanders well back in the Senate and I hope he continues to fight for his causes. But I really don't want him harming the party which has been giving him plum committee assignments despite his not belonging to them for all those years.

Senator Sanders through his own actions and statements lost me and Secretary Clinton won me over, in roughly equal measure. Oh, and Trump convinced me to set aside any impulses I might have ever to cast symbolic 'message sending' votes. I'm never doing that again because they don't work. Sanders managed to shift the party leftward by running as a candidate inside it; all he'd accomplish running against the party as a 3rd party candidate would be to make the Democrats even less like he'd want them to be. Oh and just maybe give the country President Trump instead.

Yeah, this is electoral extortion. Sorry. However it's also our current reality and protest votes aren't going to change it, not in 2016 and probably not ever. Not as long as here in America it's winner-take-all and a winner is simply the man or woman who wins the most votes, even if it's significantly less than 50%. Ask Nader, Perot, and Anderson supporters whether the party their candidate ran against became more or less like they wanted it to be, after their guy lost and the candidate they would have preferred least was declared the winner.

When you declare the Democrats are too far gone ever to get your vote, what happens is they don't say, "Gee, we should change to recapture the support of those who've rejected us." What they do is say, "There's people in the middle and center-right who haven't made up their minds. We'll go for them."

It's what's been happening with the Dems for the last half century. Sure, Clinton is not in any way entitled to your vote — I get that — but your country is entitled to your responsible use of that important privilege. Voting simply to feel better isn't being responsible, and I do apologize for saying that.

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Bring Back Mystery Science Theater 3000

.

It's the right thing to do.

Posted in Humor, Just stuff | Comments Off on Bring Back Mystery Science Theater 3000

Star Citizen

For a couple years now, I've been a pledger for the upcoming Cloud Imperium Games space-based MMORPG called "Star Citizen." I know the game has its detractors out there, but the plain fact is that for a mere $45 (US) pledge, you can get access to everything as it is released.

Fair notice: The game is currently in very early pre-alpha at this point.

Playable 'modules' currently include the Hangar, a small social module, and an actual game-game called 'Arena Commander,' which includes both combat and racing scenarios.

Upcoming features will include a FPS module called Star Marine, multi-player ship operations, a huge solo-player story game called Squadron 42 (it's like Wing Commander or Freelancer, only much, much bigger), and what will eventually be a huge persistent universe.

In time, that rather low-cost minimum pledge will probably go up in price. There are also other, more expensive pledge packages, plus standalone ships one can pledge for. Some are available to fly right now in Arena Commander, others will only be available later on.

Anyway, I'm putting up this post here so that anybody who stumbles across it and happens to be interested in Star Citizen, if you use my referral number, you can get an extra 5000 UEE credits in game just by using the number when you sign up and buy a pledge package. No strings attached. The credits can be used in-game for weapons, ship components, or decorations for your hangar.

Here's the referral code: STAR-4T5H-RHXK

And the site again for Star Citizen, known as 'Roberts Space Industries' is here.

Posted in Just stuff, Technology | Comments Off on Star Citizen

New digs…

Not for me directly or anything like that, but after a problem I was having with my last web hosting provider failed to be resolved, I decided to hell with it, I'll move on. So anyway, the 'new digs' refers simply to the fact it's the same blog here, and the same parent-level website above the blog, but it's on a new and different set of hardware through a different service.

Here's hoping this'll work out better. If nothing else, it's a hell of a lot cheaper than where I was.

For what it's worth though, I'm still waaaaay too busy for regular blogging.

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Yep…

Looks like I was correct. Over the weekend, John Aravosis announced that he was indeed leaving blogging. As I said in my previous post, this isn't surprising.

Ten years ago, it was possible to really make a splash in what was then this newfangled mode of online advocacy called 'blogging.' It was a major deal, the ability to share with readers all kinds of information, hence there's been a blog for just about everything you can think of, from the mainstream to the sublime to the bizarre.

Right around the time of the 2007 economic crash though and in the year or so following, the revenue streams just dried up. I think in large part due to market saturation. I also believe that web advertising entered a negative feedback loop, whereby irritating and intrusive advertising is driving people away from websites. I've tried not to use my ad blocking add-ons on websites I wish to support, but when something is flashing, animated, has audio, or otherwise is has all the charm of a hyper-glycemic toddler demanding attention be paid, I'll turn on the filters.

So what do websites do in response? Some do as I would recommend and offer paid subscription options (provided they're reasonably priced). Others just jam more ads on the page…which causes more readers to leave and/or to turn on advertising filters. Leading to lower revenues, etc.

Anyway, John's landed a job at the U.N., where I'm sure he'll do wonderfully. I wish him all the best of good fortune. As for whether I'll stick around at AmericaBlog as a commenter, perhaps. I'll give the youngsters a chance.

(Still leaving comments off for now…)

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Back again

Well, it was fun writing for a while for a 'real' blog over there at AmericaBlog for a little over a year, but life got in the way. One was I ended up with WAY too much work in 2014 and so couldn't keep up a regular posting pace. I'm still pretty busy with the business — but it's good. I have some terrific clients. And paying the bills is always a good thing.

The other reason is it seems clear the original owner and proprietor, John Aravosis, hasn't been able to keep the place humming, despite tremendous effort on his part. As he pointed out on numerous occasions over there, there was a golden time of sustainable blog advertising revenue, such that he didn't need to do anything but concentrate on the blog. But with the economic crash in 2009, after that, he says ad revenues never recovered. (Judging from the proliferation of increasingly intrusive ads on the blog, compensating that way isn't helping enough either. I will confess to using Ad Block on some of the worst offenders. Website owners/publishers: The surest way to make me turn on ad-blocking is to use animated ads, especially ones that ought to be labeled with epilepsy warnings.)

Whatever the full background (which I don't have), traffic there is slowly dying off, as is posting frequency. As I write this, other than a single post from John back on 24 February, he hasn't made any other appearances in over a month. (Used to be he posted daily, at minimum, often lots more). Based on my own experiences, this sort of drop-off usually presages a significant and imminent change in direction.

There are a few new faces, usually one-off posts from guests, but going through the recent history, there's just one blogger posting almost daily there…and although he's a quite bright young man and a college senior studying politics, I have to say his style just isn't to my tastes. (More often than not, I find myself disagreeing with his points. Also his perspective is as a 'millennial' whereas I can remember seeing LBJ on TV when I was a kid.) Thus even the idea of continuing to hang out in the comments on AmericaBlog has lost its luster.

The upside is a few of my bigger marquis posts did generate some notariety, and I was told I'd even attracted some positive notice at a certain Pennsylvania Avenue residence. (Ego-strokes = good.) It was fun while I could do it, but all good things, etc. It was clear enough to me though that by last summer, AmericaBlog itself was fading and traffic was falling off. It's sad, but it's really hard to make blogging into a job, especially if you want a website that is far more than a simple free template on an inexpensive hosting service, like my own personal blog here.

Online, there's this thing called the "Good Bye Cruel World" (GBCW — no, it's not nearly as dire as that sounds) post, where someone will ostentatiously make a huge deal about their departure from a particular online locale. I'm not going to do that on AmericaBlog. Personally, I figure I'll do the same thing I did when I stopped writing formal posts: Just stop going there, stop spending time in the comments arguing the same points with the same people over and over. Only in this case, I'm not going to fool myself into thinking, "Oh, I'll go back to it as soon as the work eases up." I might, I might not, but I'd rather not commit to one or the other. (Leaning strongly 'not' right now though, an affinity which has been increasing even as John's posts all but stopped.)

One of the real problems I'd had is that writing for a professional blog is way different than this personal stuff. I had to research my posts. Back up every point. I took pride in my research and linked sources, but this takes time and effort, which when my paying work kicked up, I just didn't have the hours to spend doing. Moreover, due to weirdness in AmericaBlog's advertising code, I couldn't edit a published post to correct any mistake I may have made. I made a few doozies, too… including one not long ago when I wrote a hasty and off-hand comment (not a post, just a Disqus comment) about my disdain for reality TV shows, how most of them are either scripted or phony, said some unresearched misconceptions about one particular guy who does his own show, "Survivorman", and inadvertently pissed off someone I actually have a great deal of respect for, Les Stroud. I apologized profusely to Mr. Stroud for my errors in both fact and judgment, but I remain very unhappy that I wasn't asked if I wanted to edit my comment or research what I'd said before it was turned into a post on AmericaBlog. The consequence of this was any remaining desire I might've had to write impromptu quick opinion posts pretty much burned out completely.

I'm human; I say stupid shit sometimes. But I'd rather my hot-headed foolishness at least have the relative anonymity of obscurity.

What I am going to do is come back here to my own old stomping grounds. Maybe put a little time into fixing things up. This is a very old blog template, for example, although at least the 'back of the house' code remains up-to-date thanks to WordPress. Maybe post a little more often. I do know that some friends and family members keep track of me through this here li'l blog — mainly because I do NOT do Facebook or Google+ — so I thought I'd just post this quick status. I'm going to leave comments turned off for this post though until I'm sure whether or not I'm going to be here regularly. I don't want to have to deal with spam, which is all that started showing up after a while when I stopped posting here.

If you do happen to want to contact me, feel free to use the Contact form. If I start posting regularly again, I'll re-open comments on those posts and leave them open for about a month or so from original publication date on the post.

As for AmericaBlog, it was fun. Definitely had some good ego boosts. But sometimes the party is over before all the guests realize it, and I'd rather come back here.

Still another nice thing about being back home? I can just finish up this post, hit the Publish button, and not think twice about it. I was also able to pull up Edit and add lots more thoughts and make a few corrections. Including mentioning I have this novel that, given how self-publishing works these days, I might just make a go of putting out there.

No doubt the manuscript needs a good edit, but I think it's a decent story…

Posted in Commentary, Just stuff | Comments Off on Back again

Suggestion–

Since I'm posting here but very rarely and spending most of my online time either blogging over at AmericaBlog or working or whatever, the recommendation for reaching me is to use the contact form on this site, or else email me directly if you happen to know my address. (Ain't gonna post it here though, because I don't want the 'bots to harvest it.)

Posted in Just stuff | Comments Off on Suggestion–

So…

Anyway, I'm blogging over on AmericaBlog.com these days.

Much more enjoyable to have hundreds, if not thousands of readers.

Posted in Just stuff | 25 Comments

Boston bombing

Open message to the perpetrators: I don't know who you are or what your cause might be or what you think your justifications for your act of horrific violence might have been. I don't care. Nobody cares. You will never win because there are more good people than there are of you.

Want some evidence? Watch the videos and see how many people run toward the explosions, to help the wounded.

One thing I do know: There is a special place in Hell waiting for you. You are a monster.

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