Archive for January, 2014

The Real Problems With The SOTU

_h768_w1366_m6_ofalse_lfalseThis photo illustrates problem number 1.  If you add “wealthy,” its scope becomes even more clear.

The second problem is noticed by the author of  NoMoreMisterNiceBlog:

“Cory Remsburg’s struggle to recover from war injuries (after — God help us — ten deployments) really is hard. But what we have to do in this country isn’t hard at all; it’s relatively easy. Republicans simply have to meet Democrats partway; they have to hash out a few bills in conference committees and cast a few votes. They have to stop acting as if losing a primary to a tea party challenger is a life-altering disaster comparable to, well, the incident in which Remsburg suffered his injuries — a defeated member of Congress leaves office with health intact, with great benefits, and with many, many opportunities to make very nice money.”   http://nomoremister.blogspot.com/

IOW, there is a serious problem with Obama’s implied analogy–its legs are not equal.  Unlike Mr. Remsburg, whose sacrifice has condemned him to a life of rehabilitation and pain, all Congress has to do is their job.  Obama came close to saying this, but he would have done better, IMO, to say so, right out loud and often.


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Proud Techie

Elder_Scrolls-Battlespire_(DOS)_02This yere is cover art from one of the early Elder Scrolls games, called Battlespire.  I played this game back in the day–1997–when it was first released.  In the real world I was stranded in wintry Pennsylvania, trying to keep warm in the glow of my old Gateway.

I had already played Arena (1994) and Daggerfall (1996), so I was familiar with the ES universe.  I was not prepared, however, for Battlespire.  The game is as much a first-person shooter as it is an RPG.  It was originally intended as an add-on to Daggerfall, but was released as a stand-alone when its programmers went off in another direction.  The player is trapped in the battlespire and must think/fight her way through to the last of seven levels without getting killed by any of the scamps, Dremora, Clannfears, or other monsters that seem to lurk around every turn.  There are no stores in which to buy stuff, so the player has to pick up everything she finds and hope like hell that somebody drops a health potion.

Arena, Daggerfall, Battlespire, and Redguard (another spinoff, published in 1998) were all programmed in DOS.  While these games no longer pose a challenge to the machines that run them, as they did back in the day, getting any of them to work now on a Windows computer is something of a challenge.  Luckily, this observation no longer applies to the main ES games because Bethesda recently reissued the collection with pre-configured DOSBox shells, which make loading Arena or Daggerfall no more challenging than bringing up Skyrim.  Come to think of it, these games are now easier to load given that there is no interface with a third-party client like Steam, which brings its own set of tics and farts to the party.

Battlespire, however, has no handy shell from Bethesda, which is a shame because the game pushes DOS to its limits.  Thus installing it requires a fairly detailed knowledge of the inner workings of DOSBox.  A working knowledge of DOS helps as well–I imagine that for people who never used DOS, to remember and type out commands like “cd” and “md” and “ren” must be pretty frustrating.  As I fooled around with Battlespire‘s installation, I was pleased to note that the old DOS commands came readily to mind–or to fingers.

Part of the problem was that the game will install only to two drives:  “C” and “D.”  Now if you have an SSD setup which is partitioned (my laptop has five such) the Battlespire installer simply looks around, informs you that there is not enough room anywhere in your piddly little computer to accommodate it, and quits back to the DOS prompt, where it also notes, in a snotty tone, that you don’t have enough memory either.  Thus the game’s limits require a bit of fancy mounting in DOSBox, where native drive “G” becomes installer drive “C” and native drive “E” becomes install-to drive “D.”  I remember all this because I installed the damned thing at least four times before I got it running.  Plus, you have to adjust DOSBox’s memsize as well as its core and cycles setting, plus some other stuff (I got all this from the net–thank you internet).  Plus, there’s a patch from Bethesda that, once installed, tells you that while you’ve fixed the memory problem (congratulations!)  you will now have a crash in level five if you don’t turn over your first born to Mehrunes Dagon.  Or something like that.

Once I got the damned thing running, though, I was in love.  All the ES machinery is there–choose your avatar, decide on her background, profession, skills, and equipment, and choose a portrait.  These last fearlessly feature near-nudity in both sexes:


233581-an-elder-scrolls-legend-battlespire-dos-screenshot-skillsThe controls are fairly reliable and the sets are beautiful, if you can stomach the low resolution that is required for this picky game.  So I’m a happy gamer today, off to slay the wizard–or whoever.

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Go For It, Guv

foot-in-mouth-diseaseAs you’ve certainly heard by now, Mike Huckabee recently charged that Democrats paint women as “victims” of their “libidos” because the Dems insist on making birth control readily available.

Apparently the Rethug party has been giving seminars to candidates on how to talk about women and women’s issues.  Huckabee must have skipped class on the day they discussed reproductive rights.

Hey, Guv, it’s really simple:  the reason women need birth control is that men refuse to control their libidos.  Once again, I marvel at the lack of self-reflection that seems to characterize the WMDs who populate the Rethug party.  (Here “WMD” refers to white male dicks, for those who haven’t been keeping up.  The acronym seems doubly appropriate in this context.  Heh.)

Rethug governors are falling like flies.  First Christie, then McDonnell, and now Huck.  If we’re lucky, Scott Walker and John Kasich will also be caught with their hands in some till or other, and Rick Scott’s polls are already in the toilet.

Cue:  Rick Santorum!   A Santorum-Clinton debate will be more entertaining than the Super Bowl.  Can’t wait.

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1174650_10151608443621275_1449475343_nListening to some Rethug bigwigs talk about their plans for the upcoming elections, in which they wish to perform better than they did in 2012.  One of their really, really inclusive plans is to force every Rethug candidate to speak out against abortion, even if he or she would prefer remain silent about this issue.   (No word on what pro-choice Rethugs are supposed to say.  Of course such beings are only a bit less rare than unicorns).

Immediately after laying down this rule, one guy sez:  “We allow diverse opinions in the Republican party.”  Yeah, and you are so blinded by ideology that you don’t even realize that you’ve contradicted yourself on national television.

Keep it up, Rethugs!

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Allow Me . . .

images. . . to engage in a bit of sexist racism.  This is Haley Barbour, entitled White Male Dick.  Barbour is a former governor of Mississippi–that bastion of enlightenment.  He has uttered many racist comments during his career, and, given his age and local political success, I do not doubt that he was part of White Citizens’ Councils back in the day.  (See his Wikipedia entry for details).  I suppose it is possible to grow out of racism–or at least try to do so–but somehow I doubt that Barbour has made the effort.

And yet Chuck Todd hauled Barbour’s white ass onto his so-called “news” show this morning to defend the governor of NJ, who is of course another WMD.  (How nice that the acronym, while better known in another context, is nevertheless apt here).   I shut off the sound while Barbour talked, as I have begun to do whenever one of these white Rethug guys is on, because they always say the same old tired shit.

And Barbour is wasting his breath because Chris Christie is toast.  His inauguration is today, and they’ve  already had to cancel one function because nobody showed up.   It will be amusing, in a sick way, to watch as superannuated Rethugs like Barbour belatedly realize this and begin to jump ship.

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Inky Update

SPROUTS SUNNYVALE GRAND OPENINGYesterday I encountered my first Sprouts store.  Egad!  It was as crowded as this one, and packed with people who behaved as though they were the only folks shopping.  You probably know the sort of people I mean–they take long pauses to read the (admittedly complicated) details on the cans/bags/signs while their cart is parked exactly in the middle of the too-small aisle.  Some even pretended not to hear my polite “excuse me please.”

I felt like an intruder.  The utter whiteness of the place made me uneasy;   not only were there no people of color in the store (the store in the picture is in California) but the entire setup reeked to me of middle-class notions of cool.  (I admit it–I’m a snob).  There were walls and walls of stuff I’ve never heard of.  Vegetables whose shapes and names were utterly foreign to me–some looked like the stuff one rakes up from the yard in the early spring.  Three or four aisles of vitamins, supplements, stuff to lose/gain weight “organically,” whatever that means, and even “organic” cosmetics (which suggested that good health is not the entire enchilada for these customers).

At the checkout I saw no sports magazines but plenty of fitness stuff;  no Vanity Fair or New Yorker (too upper-class?) and no People or its ilk (too lower?).  Customers were rude to checkers, too:  “You charged me too much for that kale!”  “I’m sorry, ma’am, the electronic reader makes the charge.”  “Well then I don’t want it!” throwing the now ragged kale down on the counter.  (I nearly offered to buy it and make a quick trip over to the Deserts’ back yard where Shelley would have been happy to have any kale, perhaps especially if it were too costly).  I asked my checker if the store was always this crowded.  She blamed the winter visitors.   I said I knew about that, living as I do in RVtown.   She sighed.

Now I’ve been in some really cool health-food stores in places like Iowa City.   Trep shops at a great place where she lives, and there’s even a tiny little health store here in RVtown.   My idea of a great health-food store is one that’s a little too dimly lit, where the produce looks a little tired, where the customers all wear Birks or Tevas, and everybody seems contented and in no particular hurry.

This store was none of those things, given that it was in east Mesa (my first mistake).  I went there looking for grain-free catfood for Inky.  The only stuff they had was Newman’s own, which sold for two bucks a can.  Thanks to the research I did, and Trep’s suggestions, I knew I could get a better price on better stuff.  My next stop was a little pet shop in south Tempe, and they had a few cans of Natural Balance, and I bought some just because the people were nice and the place had that funky pet-shop smell.  I then discovered a Petco on my way home that had a few cans of the Wellness that Trep recommended.  So I bought those too.  All in all, I put fifty miles on Big Red Prius.

And here at last is the update:   Inky ate half a can of the NB last night and half a can of the Wellness this morning, and there has been no pacing, no mewing, and just a little friendly chasing back and forth between Inky and Sassy.   Is grain-free the answer?

Stay tuned.  And thanks for listening.

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A Cumulation of Cats

Here they are, Doc, the new additions from the Cranesbill household, except for the three that still hide whenever I presume to look directly at them.   IMG_0538  This is Ted, Miss Cranesbill’s main squeeze.  He is an expert snuggler.  She orchestrated his rescue from a pine tree three years ago when he was a kitten, with the help of a fire truck and off-duty firemen.



This fellow was known as Buster but I’ve been calling him Mr. Butter, or Babar –  in honor of another large gray personage.  He showed up at Miss C’s house 14-15 years ago and stayed.



This is Sandy, a total jock.  (Desert may appreciate the fine cat-gym equipment by which he is posing.)  He reminds me of Johnny except for his celadon eyes, and for being gregarious.  He’s another drop-in, around seven years ago, who stayed on.



This little puffball of cuteness is Polly.  She’s the sister of my three since-departed cats Sally, Annie and Khaya.  She’s not at all acting her age of 14.



This is Polly’s brother Pogo.  He’s the only one of the combined group of my and Miss C’s cats who does not offend or become offended by any of the others.  He’ll go up to others who’ve expressed distress and lick them if they’ll let him.



This is the Queen Mum.  She’s officially named Theresa.  She’s the mom of Polly and Pogo and Cinnamon (one of the hiders) from a litter half a year earlier.  She started life as a stray, but Cranesbill convinced her and her families to opt for the domestic life.  She’s a great cat, very self-possessed and independent but loves to lap-sit and be petted, and she’s still youthful at 15.


Eventually, I hope, I’ll be able to post the others’ photos as well…

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