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Collected editorials

Beyond this horizon

What is the world coming to?

Bad things, I am sure. The young have no respect for their elders, the officials of the state are corrupt, the priests are hypocrites, the workers are slothful, and there is depravity in the streets. And that was the situation ten thousand years ago. Things have gone steadily down hill since then.

How smart is your right foot

This oddity showed up in my email. Try it for yourself; can you outsmart your right foot?

You have to try this please. It takes 2 seconds. I could not believe this!!! It is from an orthopedic surgeon... .... This will boggle your mind and it will keep you trying over and over again to see if you can outsmart your foot, but, you can't. It's pre-programmed in your brain! 1. Without anyone watching you (they will think you are GOOFY....) and while sitting at your desk in front of your computer, lift your right foot off the floor and move it clockwise in circles. 2. Now, while doing this, draw the number '6' in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction. I told you so!!! And there's nothing you can do about it! You and I both know how stupid it is. But, before the day is done you are going to try it again & again & again - if you've not already done so. Send it to your friends to frustrate them too!

The phantom news feed

As some of my readers have deduced one of my (many) vices is reading and posting to usenet news groups. There are tens of thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of these discussion groups, nominally broken out by topic. I follow about half a dozen discussion groups, which are more than enough. Incidentally the usenet news group system should not be confused with the world wide web; there were there long before the web. I first came in contact with news groups back in 1983 - it's been a while.

Some people, perhaps many people, think the world wide web and the internet are the same thing. Not so. There is more to the internet than the web even though the web is the tail that wags the dog. There is email, there is ftp (direct file transfer), and there are news groups. About eight years ago I signed up with my current ISP (Internet Service Provider). At the time they were a full service provider, which is to say they provided all of the various available services.

Recently in mid December my news feed stopped working in the middle of the day. At first I thought it was no big deal - there are glitches in internet service from time to time. After a day of no service I decided I'd best call tech support to see what was going on. The results were, ah, interesting. Once the tech support chap and I were on the same page he got very puzzled and said, hold on, I have to check something. I waited patiently until he got back to me. He said, we don't support usenet news and haven't for quite a while. I said, but I've been using it up until the other day. And he said, call your local office, maybe they know what is going on. (I think tech support is contracted out.)

The next morning I called venturecomm, the local telephone company that also is my ISP and talked to the nice lady who handles the internet. She explained that they had dropped usenet news groups back in 2005 because there wasn't much demand and that their newsfeed was too expensive. I allowed as how that was odd because I had been using it even though they didn't offer it.

What seems to have happened is that their newsfeed company never got around to deleting their news domain entry (news.sbtc.net) from the files. I think what happened was that the domain name finally expired. The upshot was that I was using a supposedly non-existent service for three years. (Cue twilight zone music.)

Not being one to forego a news group addiction, I signed up with the company that was servicing my ISP. This costs me three dollars a month extra. Sigh. The phantom news feed was cheaper.

A just and proper reward

People have been complaining that the executives of the banks receiving bailout money have been awarding themselves fat bonuses. They misapprehend. The executives persuaded Congress to give their banks hundreds of billions of dollars with no strings attached. They are receiving their just and proper reward for a job well done. It is not they, but Congress that is at fault for this gigantic ripoff, and it is not they, but Congress that should pay the price. I opine that it is only fair and right that Congress work without pay until the public has been repaid for the "bailout".

I think working without pay until 2158 sounds about right.

Why seniors get more exercise

It's quite simple. Young folks walk into a room and do whatever it was that they needed to do in the room. Seniors are always thinking of the hereafter. They walk into a room and think, what am I here after. Since they don't quite recall what it was, they do something else and walk back out again. Once they get out they remember their original purpose and go back in. A really active senior can keep this up all day.

Outlaw county and the graybar motel

The Hyde county wing of the state's graybar motel is being expanded to provide room for former Highmore's Chief of Police. Apparently the jury did not find it credible that a man with many hours of firearms training, a man noted for his conscientiousness about gun safety, a man purportedly carrying a loaded gun from one room to another in his house would accidently shoot his wife in the middle of her forehead whilst she lay sleeping beside her daughter. After all, the gun only had three safeties.

I suppose the jury must have been prejudiced by the rendition in court of his amours by various and sundry lovers. Most of said lovers were understandably less than happy about recounting their relationships with Highmore's most notable tom cat, though I am given to understand that the city's former states attorney stands four square behind her man. Ain't love grand.

Beyond This Horizon

Horizons invaded Highmore.

Horizons is a community leadership program aimed at reducing poverty in small rural and reservation communities faced with economic decline and change. It is funded by the Northwest Area Foundation, whose mission is to help reduce poverty in Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.

The process (process is one of those touchy feely words that people people like to use) runs something like this: It starts with getting some people to volunteer to be facilitators. The would be facilitators went to facilitator school. If I recall correctly facilitator school was a one (two?) day session in which facilitators learned how to facilitate. You may be sure that I was not one of the volunteers. Our Lady of the Large Black Dog, however, ....

The next stage is to put together study groups, these being led by our trained facilitators. The Horizons people are no dummies. They know how to hornswoggle people in volunteering for this sort of thing. It's quite simple. You serve a free supper for everybody in the community. People hereabouts are big on scoffing up free suppers. The fact that it comes with a pitch is no bar. In fact, it the pitch is a bonus. There isn't exactly a surplus of interesting things to do in these parts; almost anything will do for a bit of novelty.

Once a week for five weeks running the study groups met. The number of people in a study group varied from about four to about a dozen. Our study group (did I mention that I was volunteered to be in one of the study groups) was one of the larger and livelier ones, led by She Who Volunteers Richard. For the most part we followed the study plan, which moved us through talking about poverty and low quality of life, what the problems of our community were (no shortage of opinions there), what would be good things to do about them (we accumulated a very long list), and then we picked some favorites. The other groups did much the same, albeit without a spirited discussion on the proper use of rented school lands.

The next stage was another community supper. Each of the groups presented their favorites for action. Then came the voting. They put up a big sheet of paper for each choice. The supperees (a supperee is a diner at a supper) were given a supply of sticky dots and were told put sticky dots on the sheets that they were voting for. The top three (or was it four) were picked to be the focus of yet another set of groups that would work on figuring out how to make them actually happen. Lots of luck on that.

I believe that the chosen action items were getting an assisted living center, creating a food pantry, and establishing a Chamber of Commerce that would also serve as a community information resource. This time the new group leaders (organizers) did not have to go to class. They just took anybody who was fool enough to stick their hand up and volunteer.

I'm doing the Chamber of Commerce schtick. Don't ask. Sometimes I just do these things. I never said that I was all that bright.

Teaching Corporate Amerika a lesson

Congress has responded to the many complaints about the behaviour and tactics of the credit card industry. They've passed new strict laws outlawing some of the egregious little tricks that the banks use. Now people will get a fair shake from the credit card vultures. Yeah, sure, right. To be fair, the new laws are good. As usual there is a catch. The new laws take effect in 2010.

It is just possible that with a year's time the vultures can figure out new ways to mulct the public while staying technically legal. It is also just possible that the sun will rise in the East. Well done, Congress.

Lighter again and not so light

Last month I wrote that I had lost a few pounds. Santa was good to me this Xmas. He gave several of them back to me.

Even the ACLU

In the past I used to contribute regularly to the ACLU. My ACLU membership lapsed years ago, but they still have me on their rolls as a potential contributor. They have my email address (the whole world seems to have my email address) so they send me emails telling amount their good works and asking for money. Here is a quote from their latest:

In the last couple of weeks, however, we've been hit hard in a way that no one could forecast. You have, no doubt, heard about the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme in which investors have been horribly defrauded of up to $50 billion. What you may not know is that two foundations that have been incredibly generous and longstanding supporters of our national security and reproductive freedom work have been victimized by the Madoff scandal -- forced to close their doors and terminate their grants.

That means that $850,000 in support we were counting on from these foundations in 2009 simply won't exist. We're dealing with that reality and remain committed to continuing our critical work in these areas. But, as you can imagine, the year-end donations of you and other ACLU supporters are now more important than ever.

This is the truly unfortunate thing about Madoff's ponzi scheme. Many charitable foundations bought into his excellent, albeit ficticious returns. I am not entirely happy with the ACLU - over the years they have drifted from being a non-partisan defender of civil liberties to being a partisan political action group. Even so, they are among the good guys, and civil liberties may end up being collateral damage.

Site traffic in 2008

Site traffic dropped in 2008. I'm not sure whether this is due to the global recession or a world wide attack of good taste. In any event, here are the numbers:

Visitors:   1034291
Page views: 2448922
Hits:       3204711
Bytes:      16.95 Gb

This page was last updated January 6, 2009.

table of contents
Collected editorials