Still trying

This one has an interesting twist:

The entire e-mail is just one large image. And this one plays on the data leaked passwords I’ve seen previously, hence the redaction. But otherwise it’s more or less the same idea behind it.

Now it’s stupid easy to generate text in this fashion, so don’t think this tactic grants the e-mail any level of legitimacy. This isn’t the first such e-mail I’ve encountered. But the mix of letters with accents did make it impossible to OCR. So bravo to the scammers for that. If I feel like it, I may try to type out the thing later.

Makes me wonder how many of these e-mails end up in front of blind individuals, since if any OCR I’ve tried is messing up, any text to speech can’t be having fun with these either.

Should you avoid full-frame lenses on APS-C cameras? Yes and no.

It seems there’s been this back and forth over whether it’s better to use full-frame glass on APS-C (crop sensor) cameras. Obviously the answer is No. Where you have the option, use APS-C glass. That’s why they make glass specific for APS-C cameras.

But there needs to be a lot of emphasis on “where you have the option”. Because the options are a lot thinner than many seem to realize. Let me explain.

I have a Nikon D7200, which is a DX (APS-C) camera. And if you look at Nikon’s website at what lenses are available, the DX selection is paltry. Only four (4) primes are listed:

  • 10.5mm f/2.8
  • 35mm f/1.8
  • 40mm f/2.8
  • 85mm f/3.5

There’s a LOT missing from this list, starting with the 50mm prime, which is a popular lens. So your only option is a 50mm FX prime lens – equivalent to a 75mm focal length on a Nikon DX. And I own the 50mm f/1.8 FX lens and recently acquired the f/1.4. And if you wanted a faster aperture than f/3.5 on the 85mm prime (and who wouldn’t?), you need to go FX to get the f/1.8, which is nearly 2-stops faster, or even all the way to an f/1.4. (Nikon makes an 85mm f/2.8, but it’s manual focus only.)

Canon has only 1 APS-C DSLR prime that isn’t a macro lens: 24mm f/2.8.

Third party isn’t much better. Sigma makes only two APS-C primes: 4.5mm f/2.8 fish-eye and 30mm f/1.4 “Art”. Tamron doesn’t make any APS-C primes at all. Same with Yongnuo. Samyang makes a handful, but they’re all very short focal lengths.

The picture is better for zooms. Somewhat. You have more options, but those options aren’t great. And the better options are all, you guessed it, full-frame glass.

The typical Nikon DX kit lenses are the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3. There’s also the 55-200mm f/4-5.6 and 55-300mm f/4.5-5.6, and other 18-Xmm zooms at f/3.5-5.6. The only options faster than f/3.5 are the 16-80mm f/2.8-4 (shy of 1100 USD) and 17-55mm f/2.8 (~1500 USD). Canon’s APS-C zoom lens selection is similar to Nikon’s, though Nikon has a few more options. Third party provides better options for Canon, but similar options for Nikon to what is already available from Nikon.

The ever-popular 70-200mm f/2.8 isn’t available in APS-C. Same with the 24-70mm f/2.8, another very popular lens.

So to get better apertures (faster glass is typically better glass), FX/full-frame is your only option. Same if you want to zoom out further than 300mm, with the exception of Tamron’s 18-400mm “one lens to rule them all” APS-C zoom. I have a Sigma 150-600mm “C” for wildlife photography (I don’t photograph sports all that much). You won’t find APS-C glass at those focal ranges.

So I don’t really understand why this topic keeps coming up.

Obviously where DX/APS-C options are available, go that route as you’ll get better images with an APS-C body, provided you’re willing to live with the limitations – primarily in apertures. But don’t limit yourself to only APS-C options or you’ll limit your options substantially.

Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, you can get sharp results with full-frame glass on an APS-C body. My 50mm FX prime is my favorite lens. But where you have a similar APS-C option available, such as the aforementioned Nikon 35mm f/1.8, you’ll get better results compared to trying to use the full-frame option. But where you don’t have the option (again, Nikon 50mm f/1.8), or the full-frame option provides better apertures (35mm f/1.4 or 70-200mm f/2.8), don’t lose sleep over it or think you’re going to end up getting terrible results.

And, if we’re being honest, that’s the unintended implication of saying to not use full-frame glass on APS-C bodies. That doing so will lead to bad results despite the fact that APS-C options are actually relatively few, and getting better glass almost-always means going with full-frame glass even with an APS-C body.

Stop screwing over your regulars

For nearly the last 4 years, I’ve been a consistent regular patron at Fazoli’s, specifically the location off Shawnee Mission and Quivira in the Kansas City metro. Going with that, I’ve participated in the Fazoli’s reward program since they introduced it in 2017.

The original reward program was simple. 1 point for every dollar spent (before tax). Every 50 points earned you a $5 redemption code for $5 off (before tax) your ticket, regardless of what you bought. Occasionally there were additional rewards as well – e.g. free brownie or $2 off $15 or more. It wasn’t unusual for me to bank the points to take $10 off less frequently instead of redeeming the $5 whenever that was available.

Today, November 23, 2019, Fazoli’s introduced a revamp to the program. And it’s not an improvement. Indeed it actually makes things worse, and shows that Fazoli’s is not above screwing over their regulars. Points now earn you free items off the menu. And all the points are set to that Fazoli’s comes out ahead.

  • 25 points – Free small soft drink (normally $1.99)
  • 75 points – Free spaghetti with meat sauce (normally $6.49)
  • 100 points – Free chicken fettuccine (normally $7.99)

Previously I would’ve been able to spend $50 in store to get $5 off the spaghetti or fettuccine, or $100 to take $10 off my combined lunch/dinner ticket with my wife.

Also it would’ve been nice to have the option to redeem points the I had BEFORE the change the same way as previous. I had 110 points banked, and I would’ve been redeeming that for $10 off on my next lunch or dinner visit to the restaurant. Now I can only redeem part of that for either free spaghetti (provided it’ll still apply for marinara sauce since my wife doesn’t like the meat sauce) or chicken fettuccine.

I wonder how many other regulars were similarly screwed over, also losing banked up points in similar fashion.

If Fazoli’s was losing money with their previous rewards program, they could’ve downgraded it from $1 per point to something like $2 per point. And I would’ve understood if they put out a public statement to that effect.

Instead they’ve chosen to screw over their regulars by devaluing the points we’ve earned on the previous rewards program.

Whomever came up with the idea to revamp their rewards program in this fashion needs to lose their job.

On Jeffrey Epstein

I’ll say this up front: I don’t believe Jeffrey Epstein was murdered.

When Epstein’s death was announced, a lot of people presumed he had been. And they had a lot of reasonable factors leading to that conclusion.

  • He allegedly had “dirt” on some very high-profile people
  • He was a convicted, registered sex offender
  • The circumstances around his death are filled with a lot of gaps

And when I first learned of his death, I readily assumed he was killed in prison due to his sex offender status. A lot of people would’ve probably loved to have gotten their hands on him. Then the reports clarified that it appeared Epstein committed suicide.

There seems to be a massive failure of logic around all of this. I observed such on Facebook when I wrote this comment:

The one thing that kind of pisses me off about this whole ordeal is how everyone is saying there is no possible way Epstein committed suicide *because* he had dirt on high-profile individuals. It’s as if everyone has just cast basic logic to the wind…

That he had dirt on high-profile individuals says nothing about whether his death was suicide or homicide. But everyone is treating it as if suicide is impossible with this individual.

What actual evidence is there he was murdered to the exclusion of the conclusion he committed suicide? If one is being honest, right now there isn’t any. I’ve yet to see anything conclusive offered that excludes suicide.

Many point to the fractures in Epstein’s neck and the assertions that such fractures mean he was killed. Except as others have pointed out, that doesn’t exclude suicide. And the pathologist saying it is does was hired by Epstein’s attorneys to oversee the autopsy. That the pathologist also said he’d never seen neck fractures in any suicide by hanging doesn’t mean Epstein didn’t kill himself. It means only he’d never seen neck fractures in a suicide by hanging.

The medical examiner said it was suicide. But that isn’t the only reason to believe it to be suicide. His prior suicide attempt adds to this. The idea that Epstein didn’t look suicidal is also immaterial.

And the reason many say he couldn’t have killed himself I believe is also yet another reason he actually did: he was a marked man. Basically he was dead regardless. Whether he was killed in prison for being a sex offender, assassinated before he could spill whatever beans he allegedly had, or he committed suicide, he was likely not going to live much longer.

Then there’s also the fact he likely knew he was never again leaving prison this time except as a corpse. So hastening that was likely on his mind when he made his first suicide attempt.

This isn’t as unfathomable as many seem to believe. Suicide attempts and completed suicides among the prison population are also alarmingly common compared to the general population, also lending credence to his death being a suicide.

His death being convenient to those on whom he allegedly had dirt does not rule out suicide.

What rules out suicide and rules in homicide is evidence demonstrating that someone else killed Epstein. Not insinuation or assertion. And so far, all I’ve seen is just the assertion that he didn’t kill himself, that suicide is impossible because he allegedly had dirt on some high profile individuals.

To be sure, it absolutely is possible he was murdered. But without conclusive evidence, I believe it to be more likely he committed suicide.

Uploading pictures to Instagram from Firefox on a desktop

I have an Instagram. Kind of.

And I despise that it doesn’t let you upload pictures from a desktop. At least out-of-the-box, it doesn’t allow for it. There is a way around it. Since I use Firefox primarily, I’ll be discussing that browser only. And this guide doesn’t require any plugins. Nothing to install.

Doing this involves a feature in Firefox called “Responsive Design Mode”, which is a way of testing websites on a couple mobile platforms. If you have a website, this feature comes in very handy for testing if your site is platform “responsive”

First, open a new tab or window. There are two ways to open “Responsive Design Mode”. Ctrl+Shift+M is the keyboard shortcut. If you don’t want to do that, then open the Options menu, and select “Web Developer” down near the bottom.

Then select “Responsive Design Mode”.

At the top you should see a toolbar, one of which is a drop-down with several devices listed. You’ll see I already have “Kindle Fire HDX” selected, but there are several other options. Unfortunately I’ve found this really only works with one of the phone options. But at least it works!

Now, just go to Instagram. You’ll see their page is “responsive”. You should also see the + icon down at the bottom, which will allow you to select a picture from your desktop to upload as if you were on a tablet or phone.

All the functionality is there without the pain of having to use the on-screen keyboard to type out a description or enter hashtags.

Winner-take-all is not unconstitutional

Article: Winner-take-all presidential elections: Unconstitutional and unfair to voters in 48 states

I’ve openly advocated for the Nebraska/Maine model for the Electoral College, believing it to be a more fair representation of votes across the country. Even going so far as to conduct a math experiment showing this in practice. Somewhat. My experiment more favored a proportional distribution compared to district distribution of votes. I showed that if that model had been universal, the landslide Electoral College victories of the 20th century wouldn’t have nearly been such a landslide. But it also wouldn’t have changed the outcome: the winner would still be the winner.

I know that getting the Nebraska/Maine model universally across the country is wishful thinking. As much as I’d love to see it happen, if California isn’t willing to adopt it, no other State will follow suit.

But a recent article by Bill Weld and Sanford Levinson, linked above, is going so far as to say that the current “winner take all” model for how States award Electoral Votes is unconstitutional. Sorry, but not even close.

And they assert such through three arguments:

  1. Winner-take-all is anti-democratic;
  2. Millions of votes translate into zero; and
  3. Red state or blue, voters would benefit

The United States is not a democracy. I really despise how often I need to reassert that.

As such being “anti-democratic” is actually the point. The President is to be appointed by the States, not by popular vote. The States just have a bit of latitude in determining how that should happen. Though all States present that question to the People via popular vote, despite being under no obligation to do so under the Constitution.1

That isn’t to say there aren’t any limitations on how the States can award those votes. And that is why, I’ve argued, the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC) is unconstitutional. If a State turns to the People therein to determine how to award the Electoral Votes, then they must not award them in such fashion that is obviously contrary to how those people vote.

And the NPVIC would force that. Had that Compact been in effect in 2004, it would’ve forced the member “blue States” to award their votes to George W. Bush despite the people in those States voting for John Kerry. Something those pushing the NPVIC seem to forget. Do they believe a Republican candidate hasn’t won the popular vote since 1988?

Winner-take-all is not contrary to how the people vote. It’s the name of the game with all Federal and State elections, actually, in which, routinely, “millions of votes translate into zero”. Specifically with the House of Representatives. So why not argue for Representatives to also be elected proportional to the vote rather than via congressional districts?

As I’ve argued in a separate article, proportional award of the Electoral Votes would more accurately represent the popular vote in a State. It would also allow third party candidates to win Electoral Votes where they otherwise would lose out – such as the significant number of votes Ross Perot won in 1992 and 1996, and again with Gary Johnson in 2016. It would also be more in line to how both Democrats and Republicans award delegates in their primaries.

But since “winner take all” doesn’t run contrary to how the People vote, it isn’t unconstitutional.

References   [ + ]

1. Article II § 3 of the Constitution: “Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress”

Another adaptation

Yet another one came to my e-mail today, this one slightly different from previous ones. So basically it’s the same empty threat with slightly different wording.

i know [REDACTED] oně of yōur passphrases. Lets get straight to the pūrpōsě. Nōně has compensátěd me to chěck you. Yōu máy not know me and yoū arě mōst lĺkěly wōndering why you are gettĺng this e-máil?

i sětup á sōftwárě on the X vĺdeos (ádult porn) web-sĺtě and guess what, you vĺsited thĺs website to experience fun (yōū know whát i mean). When yōu werě vĺewing videos, yōur internet browsěr initiated opěrating ás a Rěmōte contrōl Desktop havĺng a key logger which provided me with access tō your display and web camerá. Jūst after thát, my softwarě cōllěcted your entire contacts frōm your Messenger, FB, ánd ě-mailaccōunt. and then i crěáted a double vĺdeo. 1st párt shōws thě viděo you wěre watching (yoū hávě a nĺce taste hahah), and next part dĺspláys thě vĺew of yōur cam, ánd its u.

You have two possibilities. Sháll we check out each one of thesě solutĺons in details:

1st altěrnátĺve is to dĺsrěgard this e-maĺl. as a consěquěnce, ĺ will send ōut yoūr very own vĺdeo tō jūst ábout all of your contacts and alsō think concerning the awkwardness yoū wĺll defĺnĺtely get. Nōt to forget if you happen to be ĺn a romantĺc rělationshĺp, how thĺs will affect?

Numběr two alternative shoūld be to compensatě me $1726. i will refěr to it as a donation. as á consěquence, i most certainly will ĺmmědĺately remove your videotape. Yōu will keěp goĺng your way ōf lifě like this never ōccurred and you surely wĺll never hear báck ágain from me.

Yōu will máke the páyment by Bitcoin (if yōu don’t know this, search ‘how to buy bĺtcoin’ in Goōglě).

BTC address tō send tō:

14UVb15gEG8saW8MjsJvEi8XfYHDuKtDrg
[case SeNSiTiVe so cōpy & páste it]

ĺf you may bě thĺnkĺng of going tō thě áūthōritiěs, věry wěll, this e-mail cán not be traced back to me. i have děalt with my stěps. i am also nōt trying to chárge yoū a whōlě lot, ĺ would lĺke to be páid. i havě a spěcific pĺxel within this emaĺl, and now i knōw that yōu háve rěad through thĺs měssage. Yoū now háve one day to pay. if ĺ don’t receive the BitCoĺns, i definitely will send ōut yōūr video to all ōf yōur cōntacts including members of yōur family, co-workěrs, ánd so forth. Havĺng sáid that, if i receive the payměnt, i will ěrase thě recōrding ĺmmědiatěly. if you want to have evidence, reply Yūp! ánd i will send your videō rěcording to yōur 10 frĺends. Thĺs is a nōn:negotiáble ōffer, therefore do not wástě my time and yōūrs by respōnding tō thĺs ěmail.

“Representation”

And here’s the original tweet:

And no one is saying it isn’t.

But can we stop acting like gay “representation” in entertainment is something new this decade? And I mean that for everyone.

Will & Grace in it’s initial run from 1998 to 2005 was a rather popular show. Will is a gay man, and so is Jack, one of Will and Grace’s friends. But it wasn’t a show all about Will and Jack being gay and how much they love (or don’t) that they’re gay. It was just one aspect of who they were. They aren’t token gay characters – especially since you can’t really build a multi-season television show around that. They are believable, charming, funny characters for whom being homosexual was just one part of who they were, not the entirety of who they are.

Many other shows as well over the years have had gay characters in one vein or another.

Roseanne had several during its initial run. I believe that show was the first on broadcast television to have recurring gay and bisexual characters: Leon Carp and Nancy Bartlett, respectively. The show was very open about homosexuality and portraying homosexuals as otherwise ordinary people. Imagine that!

The show was the first production to feature a gay wedding in the episode “December Bride“, which aired in 1995, in which Leon marries his fiance Scott (played by Fred Willard), who would become another recurring character on the show with both being good family friends to the Connors. It also showed a rather creative way in which Scott gets some pro revenge on one of Roseanne’s restaurant patrons.

Leon and Roseanne had a contentious relationship at first – Leon was previously Roseanne’s boss – before they eventually become good friends and business partners in Roseanne’s restaurant. Nancy had long been one of Roseanne’s best friends.

The Practice ran from 1997 to 2004 with a diverse recurring cast, and an even more diverse guest lineup across its eight (8) seasons. John Larroquette played Joey Heric, a character who appeared several times in the show’s lineup. His lovers also had a rather… interestingly alarming tendency to end up dead. Heric was also gay. He was a deranged psychopath who delighted in manipulating the legal system to get away with murder. But he was also gay.

It is possible to have a compelling narrative around gay characters merely for those characters being gay. The Simpsons managed to do just that with the episode called “Homer’s Phobia” in 1997. And the Roseanne episode “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” from 1994 also accomplished this. But those were also singular episodes, though, not entire series runs.

What about movies? Aside from movies that happened to have gay characters – Gypsy 83 starring Sara Rue comes to mind (kind of a niche film) – were there any movies centered around gay characters merely for them being gay? And by that, I don’t mean film festival movies, but movies starring A-list celebs? Absolutely.

Readily coming to mind is a movie from 1997. Yes, 1997. Kevin Kline starred as Howard Brackett in In & Out. (See it at Amazon Prime, YouTube) Howard was engaged to Emily (played by Joan Cusack), ready to be married, until his life and his town were turned upside down when he was “outed” at the Oscars on national television by Cameron Drake, a celebrity actor from their town. Drake had just won the Oscar for Best Actor for portraying a gay man in the US Army who is dishonorably discharged for that (this was before DADT). And as part of his “thank you speech”, he mentioned Howard and declared him to be gay.

Eventually Howard comes to realize he is gay and comes to terms with his sexuality, coming out at the altar of all places, after being “helped” along by Peter Malloy, a reporter who is also gay played by Tom Selleck. Howard also loses his job due to coming out. Upon learning that at graduation, when they’re surprised Howard isn’t named “Teacher of the Year”, the student body and local community come together in protest to support Howard.

Remember that movie was made in 1997. It’s a very good movie and I highly recommend it. I remember sneaking out to see it as well during high school. I forget what I told my dad I actually intended to do, but he handed me $10 and I went to see it at the local theater in small town Iowa. And everyone in the theater found the movie absolutely hilarious as well. No one as far as I could tell took any issue with the movie being centered around a gay man. No one took issue with Kline’s gay kiss with Tom Selleck.

So, in all seriousness, can we stop acting like gay “representation” in entertainment only started this decade?

* * * * *

Now one can say all they want that an author shouldn’t need a reason to make a character gay, black, trans, or pink with purple polka-dots that change color when rain approaches. And they would be right. What’s needed, though, is a relevant and compelling narrative reason to bring up their sexuality at all. See the aforementioned examples above.

In other words a character being gay or another minority isn’t a story unto itself. We need a compelling narrative around or about the character.

One ready example is Miles Morales, a black-Latino Spider-Man featured in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which saw great box-office success. Morales also isn’t just a “black Spider-Man”, Peter Parker with darker skin but otherwise nothing new to offer. He’s a fleshed-out character in his own right. Unfortunately we likely won’t have Miles Morales in a live-action MCU movie anytime soon, though I’m hoping the sequel to Far From Home brings him in.

Speaking of Spider-Man, though, the new MJ – Michele Jones – is also not a biracial version of the previous MJ – Mary Jane Watson. She’s a new character in her own right with her own narrative.

Also from Marvel is Big Hero 6, which features a diverse cast of teenagers working as a team, each with their own personalities and quirks. The Pixar film based on the comics also saw great box-office success.

And no mention of Marvel would be complete without mentioning Nick Fury, since it plays into the new controversy regarding Ariel in the upcoming live-action The Little Mermaid. The original Nick Fury was white. In the Ultimate Marvel universe, he’s heavily adapted after Samuel L. Jackson. Likely the reason that adaptation of Fury was adopted in the MCU. But SLJ’s version of Nick Fury isn’t just a carbon copy of the original Fury with black skin. He’s a new, compelling character. And, arguably, a lot more bad-ass than the original. Because it’s Samuel L. Jackson, so why would he NOT be?

But let’s get back to homosexuality and making characters gay just so one can claim a movie or television show has a gay character.

How to Get Away with Murder” is another show with a diverse recurring and very diverse guest cast. And recurring character Connor Walsh is gay. Very, very overtly so, actually. But he isn’t just a “token gay character”, a character that exists just to say there’s a gay character. Unlike previously-mentioned characters, his sexuality is actually a very important part of his narrative. As in several instances he cleverly uses it to his advantage, taking advantage of a couple other gay men to get what he needs. And breaking up Michelle’s engagement as well. (Oops!)

Again, though, it seems a lot of people are insisting on making characters gay or what have you for literally no reason except “representation”. Even with characters whose sexuality bears no relevance to the narrative.

Which brings me to Albus Dumbledore. Why did Rowling never mention in the books that he’s gay? It isn’t relevant. Just as it wouldn’t be relevant if Rowling wanted to declare McGonagall to be bisexual. Or say that any of Ron Weasley’s brothers are gay or bi or transsexual. Hermione and Ginny could’ve been a thing at one point for all we know. But almost all of those details would more distract from the narrative than add to it.

Which is what makes Hikaru Sulu’s sexuality in Star Trek Beyond a little nerve-wracking. It was put there merely because George Takei publicly stated he’s gay. No, seriously, that’s the only reason that happened. So they just presumed that Sulu must be gay as well merely because George Takei is gay. But it’s an otherwise irrelevant detail. And there is also no narrative indicator of it throughout the entirety of the original series, including the original movies, hence the backlash to it being included.

This would be like Sara Gilbert trying to assert Darlene Connor as a lesbian in the aforementioned Roseanne merely due to Gilbert being a lesbian. Except that would be worse since it would run counter to the established storyline rather than there being no narrative reason to believe it.

At least David Hyde Pierce hasn’t tried asserting his character of Niles Crane on Frasier as gay. If he were to try, he’d face a significant backlash as such would run counter to everything in the entire 11 seasons of the show. Including one episode where Niles overtly says he is not gay, declining the advances of a gay ski instructor. Indeed his entire run as the character shows how brilliant an actor he can be, as corroborated by being nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Best Supporting Actor every year he played the character. And winning 4 times.

Worst still than that with Frasier would be if Dan Butler tried to retroactively declare his character “Bulldog” Brisco to be gay merely because Butler is gay. Again, it would run completely counter to the character, as anyone who’s familiar with the show would readily say.

And Frasier had its share of gay characters as well through its 11 season run. I’ve already mentioned the gay ski instructor. There was also Lilith’s husband, Brian, who ran off with another man, so she sleeps with Niles to reassert her femininity. But also look for the episode that guest-starred Patrick Stewart. And there was also another episode in which Frasier questions his sexuality following a series of gay erotic dreams.

* * * * *

“But, representation!”

Here’s the thing about writing fiction in general: don’t show what is not relevant. Meaning don’t show a person getting romantically involved with another character unless and until it’s relevant to the narrative.

I think what really has the “representation!” crowd’s panties in a bunch is presumption. That if the reader is not told or outright shown a character is gay, they fear the audience will presume the character is straight. Seriously?

Let me ask this: did anyone really presume that Sherlock Holmes was straight? The original character, not the adaptation portrayed by Robert Downey, Jr.

“But what about Irene Adler?” one may ask in protest, trying to assert that Adler shows that Holmes is straight. Not quite. Here is Watson’s description of Holmes and his fascination with Adler in “A Scandal in Bohemia”:

To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she eclipses and predominates the whole of her sex. It was not that he felt any emotion akin to love for Irene Adler. All emotions, and that one particularly, were abhorrent to his cold, precise but admirably balanced mind. He was, I take it, the most perfect reasoning and observing machine that the world has seen, but as a lover he would have placed himself in a false position. He never spoke of the softer passions, save with a gibe and a sneer. They were admirable things for the observer — excellent for drawing the veil from men’s motives and actions. But for the trained reasoner to admit such intrusions into his own delicate and finely adjusted temperament was to introduce a distracting factor which might throw a doubt upon all his mental results.

Adler is the only woman to outsmart him. Holmes readily presumes most people he encounters to be intellectually inferior to him. He undoubtedly thought such of Adler. Yet she managed to outsmart him, outwit him. For that he has forever respected her. His fascination with her was never romantic, but always intellectual. She was the woman.

To take their connection and assert that Holmes is undoubtedly heterosexual requires reading well beyond what is evident in the storyline. Indeed Watson’s description of Holmes places him, if he must be labeled, as asexual. He also rarely shows really any emotion, believing it to inhibit his reasoning ability.

And there are numerous other characters for whom we can say their sexuality is largely irrelevant and for which there is also no narrative indicator in any direction. Palpatine comes to mind. He lusts only for power. Most of the Jedi neuter or spay themselves with the Force (and some probably literally so) so who knows what kind of mixed bag existed there. The same with most of the officers in the various Star Trek renditions. This includes Hikaru Sulu.

In all the above cases, their sexuality largely didn’t matter since it doesn’t serve any particular narrative. If someone wants to presume those characters are all straight, gay, or bisexual, that’s their prerogative. But there isn’t anything in the narrative they can use to support such a presumption.

Again, the pushback isn’t about having gay or lesbian characters since, again, there have been plenty over the years that have been very well-received by audiences. I’ve already demonstrated plenty of examples above. The pushback is about having a gay or lesbian character without any substance, or making a character gay or lesbian overtly for no narrative reason. Or taking an established character and making that character gay or bisexual either for no narrative reason or in contradiction to all established narrative.

Yes we know that homosexuals exist. And homosexuals have been portrayed in television and other media for the last several decades, if not longer, without issue. There are and have been many well-received gay and lesbian characters over the years.

It is in recent years, however, where people seem to think this is only a recent phenomenon.

At the same time, if “representation” really concerns you, make new, compelling characters who are also homo or bisexual rather than insisting on changing or “rebooting” established characters with the sexuality or other minority status of your choice.

Once a government…

A friend of mine recently tagged me on Facebook to ask my opinion on this. Below is my response with some enhancements and additions.

* * * * *

Quoting for accessibility:

  • Once a government provides you with basic utilities –
    • The government can then decide when to turn them on and off.
  • Once a government pays for all your education –
    • The government can then control the education and career you get to have.
  • Once a government provides you with food
    • The government can then decide how much or if you get to eat.
  • Once a government pays for your housing –
    • The government can then control where you can live.
  • Once a government pays for your healthcare and medicine
    • The government can control whether or not you are valuable enough to allow to live.
  • Once a government gets you to agree to gun control
    • You have NO way to prevent that government from doing everything listed above

* * * * *

A government big enough to give you everything you want, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have.

— Paul Harvey, “Remember These Things“, 1952

“Once government provides you with basic utilities -“

I live in a county where the county provides the water and electricity. Right now they can’t cut off utilities for anything except failure to pay. But there is nothing except diligence by voters stopping them from instituting other… conditions on your utilities. It’s one of the reasons off-grid power (solar panels with battery backups) is growing in popularity in places where counties control the basic utilities.

“Once the government pays for all your education -“

We already see this to an extent. With the education, not yet the career. The government controls the curriculum. We saw this with the introduction of “common core”, which was introduced by government fiat without any kind of say by the teachers and parents, and in some instances against any protest.

Which it’s rather interesting how the left pushes back against the right’s badly-veiled attempts to get creationism in public schools, yet largely didn’t push back against “common core” when it was introduced… while Obama was in office.

Until they saw what that meant.

At which point it was largely too late to do anything.

“Once government provides you with food -“

All you have to do is look at the SNAP program. Plus we had rationing by government fiat “for the war effort” during the Second World War. Many New Deal programs also instituted massive controls over the American economy for the explicit purpose of bringing the Great Depression to an end.

Except there is consensus among economists that the New Deal programs prolonged the Great Depression. That’s why when those programs were ended after the War, we had massive prosperity going into the 1950s after a short stint with another depression immediately after the war. Yes, contrary to what people have been led to believe, the Second World War didn’t actually end the Great Depression. It just pushed it to the side.

“Once the government pays for your housing -“

Section 8 housing already falls within this.

When you have a choice over where to live, landlords will compete for your money. Most renters can get up and leave most any month, so a lot of landlords will do what they can to keep you there. Because vacant apartments and homes are cash sinks. The landlord is responsible for utilities and upkeep when no one is living there, and they have no income from rent to offset the mortgage, property insurance, and property taxes.

With Section 8, however, while vacant apartments pose the same issue to the property, how much they get for each apartment is also controlled by the government. Who can live there is also controlled by the government – there is an income CAP at such complexes, because if you make too much, you don’t qualify for the Section 8 assistance.

But everything I’ve read about Section 8 housing also shows it to be “bottom of the barrel” in terms of quality, because the complex knows that those who live there largely don’t have any other choice. So there’s no need to compete with other Section 8 complexes for residents.

And that’s largely the crux of giving the government so much control over our lives: it takes away our choices. And without choices, you don’t really have any freedom.

“Once a government pays for your healthcare and medicine -“

And this is happening in countries with universal health care. Proponents of “health care as a right” don’t want to talk about that reality because they seem to think they can tax the rich enough that everyone else will be prosperous and everyone will get whatever care they need regardless of the cost.

Which shows they don’t understand wealth as a concept, nor do they understand the basic realities of economics.

There are numerous horror stories about universal health care. Much the same horror stories with private health insurance – grandma not getting her medicine, kind of stuff – only it’s patients being left to die in hospitals so the beds will be freed up, surgeries being denied or massively delayed, and other forms of rationing such as wait lists to see a doctor, and so on. At least in the United States, you’ll get care if you need it, even if it’s at an emergency room – where I ended up back in March (with the premium to go with it) when I had that dental abscess flare into massive swelling in my jaw and cheek. And there are charities and foundations and other forms of financial aid to help with the cost. And, yes, crowdfunding as well.

Whatever care is *necessary* to your wellbeing, you can get it in the US, and the hospitals and clinics will help you figure out how to cover the cost later. If you need prescription meds and can’t afford it, the manufacturers have programs where you can get your medicine at reduced or no out-of-pocket cost, either through a local pharmacy or directly from them (with some exceptions as required by law, e.g. opiates).

One thing to bear in mind with so-called “universal” health care and “health care as a right”: he who pays the piper calls the tune. And while many would consider the idea the government should decide who gets to continue living is far-fetched, it also isn’t new.

And I think it would be a good thing to make everybody come before a properly-appointed board – just as he might come before the income tax commissioners – and, say, every 5 years or every 7 years, just put him there and say, “Sir or Madam, now will you be kind enough to justify your existence?”

If you can’t justify your existence, if you’re not pulling your weight in the social boat, if you’re not producing as much as you consume, or perhaps a little more, then, clearly, we cannot use the big organization of our society for the purpose of keeping you alive because your life does not benefit us and it can’t be of very much use to yourself.

— George Bernard Shaw, playwright and Fabian socialist

“Once a government gets you to agree to gun control -“

Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99% vote.

— Marvin Simkin in his article “Individual Rights”, 1992-01-12

Majority rule will only work if you’re considering individual rights. You can’t have five wolves and one sheep vote on what they want to have for supper.

— Larry Flynt

While democracy is five wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner, a well-armed sheep can contest that vote. Whether the sheep prevails is immaterial. What matters is whether the sheep has the ability to do so. Not having that ability means a 0% chance of prevailing. And it seems that a lot of people on the left want everyone else (who doesn’t agree with them lock step) left without the ability to contest.

With self defense, a firearm is the ultimate equalizer. It can stop a confrontation that is escalating from escalating further. It gives a 125lb, 5′-tall woman power to defend herself against a 6′-tall, 250lb man. It gives an older man the ability to prevail against a younger, stronger, more agile person who initiated a violent confrontation.

Rifles gave the Colonists the power to fight off what was then perceived as the most powerful military in the world. Which is why the first task of that military, which directly led to the Revolution, was seizing arms from those colonists.

Until the late 19th century in the United States, the People had the same firepower as the government. There was no distinction between civilian and military weaponry “meant for the battlefield”. It was only going into the 20th century that there started to be a power disparity in that regard that only grew from there. Even in the 19th century, private merchant vessels had cannons to ward off pirates. Today… not even cruise liners have armed security, and most who sail their own yachts also don’t keep arms onboard. Granted the saltwater air over the open ocean would wreak havoc on the steel in most firearms, but there are ways to combat that. After all they needed that kind of protection for the cannons and cannonballs.

Now the First and Second World Wars drove a massive arms race in which the United States ultimately won the checkered flag. But in the United States while war drove advancements in arms, those advancements eventually made it to private hands. And with personal arms (rifles, pistols, etc.), this has still held true. But not with everything else.

Instead the only thing that would keep the “everything else” from being turned on the People of the United States are the military officers in charge of that “everything else”. Officers who take an oath to the Constitution of the United States, not the government. But as we saw during the Second World War, even military officers aren’t immune from the kind of brainwashing that could push them to turn their firepower on the people they are supposed to be defending from tyranny, not installing tyranny over.

A little more aggressive, but still the same scam

Just got this one today. It came with the subject as the username for my primary e-mail address and an old password I know they harvested from a data dump. And it’s a similar play on character substitution that I’ve seen before.

A quick note: I added the link to the Bitcoin address. It was not in the original e-mail, which was just plaintext (with a lot of Unicode characters, as you’ll see). It just goes to Blockchain.info and shows a summary of all transactions linked to that address. As of this posting, there are no transactions on that wallet.

Do you rālly thĺnk it wās some kind of joke or that you can ignore me?

I can see what yŏu āre dŏing.

Stop shopping and fucking around, your time is ālmŏst ovr. Yea, I know what you wr dŏing past couple of dāys. I have ben observing you.

Btw. nic car yoų hāv got there.. I wonder how ĺt will look with pics of yŏur dick and fāce…

Because yoų think you are smarter ānd can disregārd me, I am posting th vidos I recorded with yŏu masturbatĺng tŏ the pŏrn right now. I will upload the vidŏs I acqųired along wĺth some of your detaĺls to the online fŏrum. I amsur they will love to see you in āction, and yŏu will soon discŏver whāt is goĺng to hāppen to you.

If you do nŏt fund this bitcoĺn address with $1000 within next 2 days, I will contact yoųr rlātives and evrybody on your contact lĺsts and show them your rcordings.

=====================================

Send:

0.1 bitcŏin (i. approx $1000)

to this Bitcoin āddress:

19G9dQkqopdLUNSURRVJMVNESd71ZdsByL

(Copy and paste ĺt)

=====================================

Thre are many placs yŏu cān bųy bĺtcoin like Bĺtstamp, Coinbase, Krakenetc. Register, validat yŏųr account.

If you want to save yŏųrself – bttr act fast, becaus rĺght now you āre fucked. We wĺll not leave you alone, ānd there āre many peopl on th groups that will mak your lif feel really bad.