Saturday, January 30, 2016

Republicans are anti-Constitution

Among the many charges that Republicans make against the Democrats is "activist judges", members of the Supreme Court who interpret the Constitution differently than their "strict constructionist" view.

Then a Republican-appointed majority interprets "people" in the second Amendment to be "persons" and interprets corporations as "persons".  Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and many other signers of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights must be spinning furiously in their graves.

Now those who would be the Republican candidate for President are stepping all over the Constitution with their accusations that their opponents are not Christian enough.  I guess they really need a refresher course about the Constitution: "... but no religious Test shall ever be Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States." - Article 6.

And the Constitution also requires a new President to take an oath or affirm: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

If these religiosity types can’t even protect the Constitution, can they even protect the nation from threats from within and without?

See “The G.O.P.’s Holy War”, Frank Bruni, New York Times, 2016-01-30,

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Rogues, clowns, politicians, and statespersons

Whether in government, business, unions, or any other human activity, we can find people who are rogues, clowns, politicians, or statespersons.  And sometimes a person can be any of these at various times.

Rogues are those who are only for themselves.  They may merely be selfish or they may work to destroy others.  Clowns are those who have no connection to reality.  Politicians are those who try to work with others to accomplish something they can’t do by themselves.  Statespersons are those who have a vision for the common good and succeed in implementing some portion of that vision.

Richard Nixon was an example of someone who was all of the above as candidate and President.  He was a rogue in his first campaign for the Senate when he misrepresented Helen Gahagan Douglas as a Communist.  He was a rogue when he authorized the Watergate break-in.  He was a clown when he said “I am not a crook.”  He was a politician in that he did work on legislation that was supported by many in both parties, for example Marshall Plan funding.  He was a statesman when he looked beyond his anti-Communism to visit and recognize China.

The genial Ronald Reagan was certainly not a rogue.  He was a clown in that he thought the Laffer Curve showed that decreasing taxes would increase prosperity.  He was a politician in that he did get legislation passed that had significant bi-partisan support.  He was a statesman in that he worked with Mikhael Gorbachev on a nuclear arms treaty.

A good portion of the current Republican candidates are clowns and at least one is a rogue.  They are clowns in their continued attacks on President Obama, including continuing to label him as a Muslim.  They are clowns in their continued belief that giving more money to the rich will make the general public richer.  Their schemes will make the whole country poorer with an even more rapidly deteriorating infrastructure and more rapidly warming climate.  And they don’t seem likely to be good politicians because they seem incapable of compromise to get something done.  As I looked at a picture of them in the Star Tribune of 2016-01-17, I thought that the only gray matter was their gray uniforms, I mean gray suits (“Give candidates a little time to think and a little time to speak – you know, kind of like presidents have.”, Stephen L. Carter, Bloomberg).

As for the current Democratic candidates, they may be politicians working with others, but I don’t see them as statespersons.

Rogues in business include those who ran Enron (into the ground) and those who gave misleading information to get people to sign mortgages they couldn’t afford.  The Koch brothers are certainly rogues in that they buy a lot of legislation at the state and local levels that is advantageous to them and detrimental to the people.

The rogues in Oregon do not represent the people.  Those “patriots” occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge are only after some Ayn Rand “freedom” to do what they please rather than the freedom to govern ourselves.  The Tea Party types seem to completely ignore the General Welfare clause of the Constitution and the establishment of a Congress to provide laws.  If law enforcement doesn’t bring these rogues to justice, it will be our misfortune (malheur in French).

The magical thinking of the anarchists in Oregon is of the same ilk as another set of rogue anarchists: the so-called Islamic Jihadists of ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Boko Haram.  These “Islamic” rogues no more represent Islam than the Bundy anarchists represent the American people.  Consider that there are only about 100,000 “Jihadists” but 1.6 billion Muslims

As a measure of how non-Islamic these rogues are, consider that they may not even have copies of the Qu’ran. “Because it has nothing to do with the Quran. They didn't even have the Quran; they didn't want even to give us a Quran.” - Al Arabiya News, 2015-02-04, reporting on Didier Fran├žois’ interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

If you want a better sense of Islam, see

But “Islamic” rogues are not the only misusers of “religion”.  If we are a Christian nation, why do some “Christians” call for the expulsion of Muslims?  Why do some “Christians” call for bombing women and children because there are “Islamists” in an certain area.  What kind of Christian nation would have nuclear weapons that would indiscriminately kill thousands of innocent citizens?

On the one hand, we had the rogue Fred Phelps whose Westboro Baptist Church would picket veterans’ funerals as a protest against gays.  I couldn’t confirm this memory but I did find a long list of non-Christian behavior.  On the other hand, we have the Christian statesman, Martin Luther King Jr., who eschewed hate and worked hard to spread Christian love, even against those who would hurt him.

We don’t get to choose many of our rogues, but we can choose many of our politicians and statespeople.  But to do that, we have to show up at each and every election.  If we stay away, we bring on the clowns, and the rogues, too.  Every vote counts and your vote counts only if you cast it.

Also published in the Reader Weekly of Duluth, 2016-01-21 at

Monday, January 18, 2016

More on erratic iPhone cellular setting

Follow-up to

I spent an hour or more pouring over postings in the Apple User Community looking for some solution to my long wait for cellular toggles to be activated in my iPhone.  I finally found a link a user made to T-Mobile.

Quite simply a soft reset works.  For how long, I know not.

A soft reset is to hold the on-off button and the home button until the screen goes blank and the Apple logo is shown again.

Why didn’t Apple offer this advice?

Friday, January 15, 2016

"For want of a nail…” updated

Because an employee was laid off, certain data was not gathered.
Because certain data was not gathered, a report was not made.
Because a report was not made, a contract was lost.
Because a contract was lost, revenue was lost.
Because revenue was lost, a company was lost.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Why do we have to know more about computers than cars?

Just after I posted “Erratic cellular settings” I thought about cars and problem solving.

Long ago I learned a little story about car problems that may have been older than me.

A car dealer gave his wife a new car.  She was delighted with it, but she complained that it ran erratically.  A mechanic checked it out and could find nothing wrong.  She brought it in again with the same result.  Finally, the head mechanic went out with her.

She started the car, pulled out the choke, and hung her purse from the choke.

Sometimes, you have to just be there to solve a user’s problem.  I found this out when a user couldn’t access a document because his computer terms didn’t the same meanings as others did.  I had to go to his house to understand the problem.  I found out the cause of an error in my own software when I saw a user print a document on his on printer.  I had assumed a negative number for a printer line would not get printed.  It worked fine on my Apple printer, but it didn’t work on his third party printer.

The problem with computers is that the designers expect their users to be expert car mechanics, masters of intricate analysis of problems.  But all the average user wants to do is touch a few buttons or type a few words to get his or her work done.  If their cars sputters when it should purr, they take it to a mechanic who often can diagnose the problem within an hour.  But if their devices sputter when they should purr, they are expected to put in hours trying to get enough information to get somebody to finally make a correction to the software (or tell them not to hang their purses on the menu bar).

My plaint about all this complexity is whatever happened to the “Computer for the Rest of Us” (The 1984 Apple Macintosh)?

Erratic cellular data settings

If you feel lonely and ignored when nobody seems to have a solution when your software acts erratically.  Take heart!  It happens to novices and gurus alike.  You are not a "dummy".  It just takes a lot of time to get all the necessary information to pinpoint the problem. 

I sent the following to Consumer Cellular after an abrupt disappearance of a long-standing annoying problem.

To avoid using up cellular data I turn cellular data on and off on my iPhone 5s.  With iOS 9 it became a nuisance because the settings would not change quickly, often it could take two minutes.  This doesn’t happen on my wife’s iPhone 5c with iOS 8.

I thought the problem could be iOS 9.1.  The problem did go away when I installed iOS 9.2.  Then the problem came back.

Yesterday, we changed our data and voice plans, splitting our account into two accounts.

Today, I can turn cellular data on and off quickly.  No change in iOS.  No change in other settings.

Could it be something Consumer Cellular or AT&T is doing?

This also makes me wonder it I changed my bank prematurely.  Would
Consumer Cellular now let Republic Banks software operate smoothly?  Nope, it still gives system error after I enter my password.

Anybody in CC have the time to really look into this?  Have any other users reported a similar problem.

Note added 2016-01-18:
For one solution, see

Thursday, January 07, 2016


Some have said that “if” is the biggest word in the English language.  It certainly does have a lot of import on our thinking, be it blame, regret, or thankfulness.  Our lives are certainly filled with choice points of our own doing or the actions of others.  “If my teacher hadn’t suggested,,,, then I might not have…”  “If I hadn’t asked for a raise, would I have ever gotten one.”, and on and on.

I have so many “if’s” in my life that got me to this moment of typing on a laptop that I could probably fill this issue of the Reader.  And you would have fallen asleep by the fourth page.

One of my early if’s is if my parents hadn’t divorced, would my mother have moved us in with her aunt and uncle?  That determined where I started school.  If my great aunt and uncle hadn’t bought a house on the other side of the city, would I have have gone to a second elementary school.  At that school I met many others who would become life-long friends.

I did lose those contacts when my mother decided to rent an apartment on the other side of town.  By the time I started high school, she remarried and we moved back to the other side of town.

That house was in a school attendance area different than the area many of my old friends were in.  I made the choice of asking for an exemption to go to that smaller school to be with my friends again.

One of the math teachers at the smaller school punctuated his remarks with “When you go to Case…” meaning Case Institute of Technology.  Five of us started as freshmen there a year or two later.

But would I have been able to afford the $750/year tuition?  The assistant principal suggested that I apply to the Huntington Fund for a scholarship.  I did and was granted a full scholarship.

With my job at Kroger’s, suggested to me by one of the friends I met in the second elementary school and with whom I still correspond, I was able to afford books and bus fare across the city to Case.

Shortly after we moved back across the city, I attended a Methodist Church within a half-hour’s walk and was active in the Methodist Youth Fellowship (MYF).  This continued into my Case years.

I don’t know the exact cause, but I started losing interest in my engineering studies.  I ran for president of the area MYF council and won.  Also on the council was the daughter of a doctor.  After I flunked out of Case, I started dating her.

We both went to Ohio Wesleyan the following fall, she as a freshman and me as a junior.  Despite my flunking out of Case, the Huntington Fund kept funding me.  They had long dropped their maximum scholarship to $500, and I had to take out student loans to supplement it and my own part-time job earnings to make the $1,100 annual tuition.

I got good enough grades in mathematics that Case took me back in the graduate program with a full fellowship in the computer center which included a $75/week salary!  I also married that sweetheart from two paragraphs back.

I don’t think you want to put up with two thousand words of all the twists and turns of the next fifty plus years, but I have many, many “If I hadn’t done this, would this interesting thing have happened.”  I’ll try to collapse those into the few paragraphs remaining of my space.

We chose to move to Minnesota and my employment with Univac because we liked canoeing.  After five years I became restless and managed a transfer to Europe.  We started in Switzerland for a few weeks and then lived in Italy for the next two years.

I became unhappy with the management in Rome and transferred to Sweden.  We liked Sweden so much that we stayed four years.  But then my wife decided our kids should go to junior high in the United States.  Another “if” I must stick in is that my wife met an American women on the subway who had a cabin in Brimson.  She extended an open invitation to visit them.

I gave a wishy-washy description of my interests to my previous bosses at Univac in Roseville, and so we didn’t move back to Minnesota.  Instead I wound up in “exile” in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.  I was “rescued” when Univac needed people to work on a new computer in Roseville.  That computer was cancelled and I was put on another project, on which I didn’t shine.

Meanwhile, the microcomputer revolution started and I jumped into it.  I blew that too and wound up as a bus driver.  But my wife was doing quite well in her work.  What we didn’t do well on was co-ordinating when we would take our annual BWCA visit.  With the background of a whole bunches of “if’s” we finally visited our friends in Brimson and did so annually.

Yikes, what if I could have 2,000 words!

Our son went to Japan and when we visited him we missed an annual visit to Brimson.  We went in fall instead and found property for sale.  We bought it, and a few years later had built our own cabin.

This time my wife engineered the transfer and we moved from the Twin Cities to Duluth to be nearer our cabin.  But she found more and more things to do in Duluth and has less time to spend in Brimson.  And we’re both getting older and mowing lots of paths and cutting firewood seems to take longer and longer.

We have lots of memories of all those if’s and we know lots more if’s are coming.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
- Robert Frost

Also published in the Reader Weekly of Duluth, 2016-01-07 at

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Quote from “ISIS war on Christmas”

Quote from “ISIS war on Christmas” by Kamel Daoud:

"One might counter that of the two groups, only Muslim extremists kill. Which is true, at least when it comes to people. But the extremists of the right kill humanism, and that’s the only thing that could save us all."

For more background on Algeria and Daoud, see “Stranger Still, Kamel Daoud and Algeria, caught between Islamist fervor and cultural flowering”, by Adam Shatz.