Quote of the Day

March 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: economy, Politics 

“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it. ”

— President Ronald Reagan, who predicted our Dear Leader‘s methods well in advance

The Political Landscape

February 24, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Clintons, Politics 

The Nevada caucuses are over for both parties, and the Republican primary has been run in South Carolina.

There is much angst in the hearts and minds of the establishment members of both parties.

Let us first take a look at the big hot mess the Republican side is.

Donald Trump is winning, and winning big.  He is ahead in the delegate count. Not just in this race either.  He is head of where Romney and McCain were at this point in the last two election cycles.

The Republican “leadership” is clutching their collective pearls and asking how in the name of a merciful God is this possible.

My advice to them is to take a long, hard look in the mirror.  The Republican “leadership”, especially in Congress has been destroying their brand value for decades.  They have worked long and hard to completely alienate their conservative base.

Speaking of that conservative base, in a rare instance of agreement with the party leadership, they are as confused over this whole Donald Trump thing as the leadership is.  Not for the same reasons though.  The “establishment” leaders of the GOP put a lot of money behind former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.  In past Presidential elections, this would have been enough to give Jeb a pretty good shot at winning the primary battle.  Not this time though, remember that whole alienating their voter base thing?  So the people who think they run the GOP have had their candidate shot down in flames.

The conservative base is scratching the collective heads because they don’t consider Trump to be an actual Republican.  Take a look at his record.  He has self-identified as a democrat in the past, and has supported a lot of democrats. As I have pointed out before there are some strong similarities between some his policies and those of the admitted socialist Bernie Sanders.  Their policies on legal and illegal immigration for example. There is another reason to believe that Trump is not a Republican.  He knows how to handle a hostile press.

So why is Trump so far ahead?  Simple.  He is perceived as a “Washington outsider.”  The voters are sick and tired of “business as usual” inside the Beltway.  They don’t want to throw away a vote on the same old, same old once again.  Look who is second place, Texas Senator Ted  Cruz.  He is not just hated by the congressional Republican leadership, they actually fear the concept of him in the Oval Office.  He doesn’t “play ball” and cozy up to the democrats. He actually tries to keep his promises to the people who elected him, which makes him a renegade maverick in Washington, regardless of the letter after his name.

I’m not a Trump fan, but his run for the Presidency is fascinating for a political junkie.  Not only is he appealing to pissed off GOP voters, he has actual cross party support.  Polling has consistently shown that 20% of his supporters are Blue Collar democrats.  What used to loyal democrats who have been thrown under the bus by their party over the past seven years. He is also doing better than the typical GOP candidate in traditionally democrat demographics.  Namely hispanics, blacks and women.

To see why Trump is doing well with those traditional democrat groups, just look at how the democrats have been treating their base since they started the Occupy the White House Golf Tour in January 2009.

There has been mild, sporadic and slow economic growth since the recession ended in July 2009, despite our Dear Leader’s best efforts to kill it. Most people have benefited from this. Except for blacks.  They have gotten the shaft, despite all the promises made back in 2008. Just take a look at the very detailed information on employment, and unemployment, at the Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.  You can find breakdowns by race, gender, and age. As Senator Sanders has pointed out in his stump speeches, unemployment among black Americans is significantly higher than those of white Americans or any other group of American. This has not gone unnoticed by black single parent mothers, who are now working three jobs to send their kids to private school instead of two.  Why they are sending their kids to private schools instead of public schools is left as an exercise to the reader in yet another way the democrats have been alienating their base.

Americans of Hispanic descent who are registered to vote (i.e. legal immigrants, and remember that Mexico is the number one source of legal immigrants to America), are hearing Trump’s call to secure our border.  They have observed our Dear Leader’s policy of not enforcing our immigration laws, and the results of that policy.  Things they left Mexico (which is in a violent narco civil war) to get away from, are showing up here in America.  Drug Cartels, kidnapping, and armed gangs working for the cartels. In more and more cases, these violent criminal organizations are found using semi-automatic weapons supplied to them by our Dear Leader’s “Fast and Furious” program.  They don’t like it, and are turning to Trump and Sanders, both of whom want to enforce the law in regards to our southern border.

Which leads us to the question being raised by the establishment democrat leadership wondering what happened to Hillary Rodham Clinton’s comfortable stroll to primary victory they were predicting.  No surprised here, as I’ve pointed out, they have been working hard to alienate their base as well.  Plus the fact that HRC is extremely unlikable, and massively corrupt.  So democrat voters are also looking for an outsider.  Thus the support for the socialist from Vermont from everyone who doesn’t like or trust Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Given her high negatives, and history of massive corruption, is a significant number of democrats.  This does not speak well of Hillary.  She was correct when she said that Sander wasn’t a democrat until he decided to run for President.  He has always run openly as a socialist. While in the Senate, he caucused with the democrats, but was not officially a member of their party.

However, you aren’t seeing the runaway victories that Trump has been seeing in the Republican primaries.  This is because of another thing the doddering old socialist has gotten right.  The system is rigged. The DNC has been blatantly in the tank for Hillary Rodham Clinton in this cycle. HRC is well ahead in the delegate count because the party made sure she had the super delegates wrapped up long before those pesky citizens could possibly muck up their coronation of Queen Hillary the First.

Monday Book Pick: The Emperor in the Cities of Danger

February 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Monday Book Pick, Pulp 

The Emperor in the Cities of Danger [The Amazing Adventures of the Emperor #4] by Charles Jackson Lee II
This book is actually collection of stories. All of which take place in different major cities. Seattle and San Francisco for example. The tales of the Emperor are delightful pulp stories with a light hearted touch. The hero, one Charles Jackson Lee, is an actual superhero, with super powers. He goes by “The Emperor”, but his “Empire” consists mostly of himself, which is enough. 🙂 He doesn’t go for costumes or secret identities. He prefers a suit and tie, and makes movies when he isn’t fighting crime. I find these stories fun to read, and I enjoy the other pulp genre references. This includes the time he ran into Spencer and Hawk while at a party in Boston. If they made movies of these stories, Job Bob would say check ’em out.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Monday Book Pick: The Disinherited

February 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Baen Books, Monday Book Pick, Science Fiction 

The Disinherited by Steve White
This is Steve White’s first solo novel. My first printing of this book has a 1993 copyright. It’s a straight up space opera, and fans of the classic SciFi RPG Traveller, and the closely related 2300AD game will some familiar concepts. It is also a first contact story. A group of Terrans, a mix of Americans and Russians working in the Asteroid Belt are contacted by beings from another star, with advanced technology. Both sides are more than a bit freaked out to find out they are both human. The alien humans have a problem, namely a very aggressive species of actual alien that makes up for a slightly lower tech base with a fracking lot of resources. The space faring Earth humans go to assist the other humans. They might as well, since the Earth had been poisoned by what Mr. White had correctly identified 23 years ago as the toxic ravings of the so called “social justice” movement, which has a more dangerous level of Antisemitism than it does today. Heroic stuff happens, and there is even a surprise twist at the end. Just to top this tale of adventure in deep space off, there is a mad scientist and his beautiful daughter.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Covering Tangled up in Blue

January 27, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Cover, Music 

I don’t know who first said this, but I agree with it.

There is no Bob Dylan song that someone else has not done better.

Given that, Tangled Up in Blue is probably my favorite Dylan song performed by Bob Dylan.

I do like this live version performed by Charlie Daniels.  Not sure if it is better, but is good.

 

Friday B-Movie Pick: Justice League: Gods and Monsters

January 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Comics, Movies, Science Fiction 

Justice League: Gods and Monsters
Yet another example of excellence from DC Comics animated movie team.  This is an alternate universe where the Justice League is made up three, and I use the term loosely, heroes.  Superman is the son of General Zod, not Jor-el, Batman is a vampire (created by Science!), and Wonder Woman is one of the New Gods.  All them have no issues what so ever in killing bad guys.  Just to set the tone for this universe a bit more firmly, Amanda Waller is President.  Ya, it’s a dark reflection of the DC Universe.  Things only get worse when the Justice League starts getting framed for killing scientists.  In the end, it’s a wake up call for the League, with some help from Lex Luthor, who seems to be crossed with Stephen Hawking in this setting.

Friday B-Movie Archive

Monday Book Pick: Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates

Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates: The Forgotten War That Changed American History by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger

This book covers an important piece of American history, the first foreign war fought by the United States. The Barbary nations associated with the Ottoman Empire practiced piracy and enslaved captured crews of any Nation that could not defend its merchant fleet or could not afford the “tributes” the leaders of the Barbary Coast nations demanded as the price to not have ships, cargos, and crews captured and sold. It was President Jefferson (the third President) who decided that continuing to pay foreign nations who held US citizens for ransom (while forcing them to perform hard labor as slaves), and continuing to raid US flagged merchant vessels, was bad policy. President Jefferson persuaded Congress to fund new Naval construction and personnel to take the fight to the Barbary pirate nations. This well researched book details the diplomatic front, as well as the battles fought by the US Navy and Marines.

Monday Book Pick Archive

Friday B-Movie Pick: Terminator Genisys

January 1, 2016 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Movies, Science Fiction 

Terminator Genisys

Starting the new year with the latest in the Terminator francise. Once again, they are moving forward with the premise of changing the timeline doesn’t always work the way you want it to. Ya, I’m going to do spoilers, so quit now if you care. This entry has some delightful (to the fan base at least) almost scence for scence sequences from the orginal. Plus it has Arnold Schwarzenegger playing a T-800 series who has been guarding Sarah Connor since a T-1000 tried to kill her as a little girl. The flesh around the machine ages, which is how they explain using a current Schwarzenegger for the aging robot.  The special effects are great and the fights are epic.  Well worth the popcorn and rental.

Friday B-Movie Archive

Sorting pictures

December 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Photography, SmartPhones & PDAs, Technology 

I’ve been backing up my iPhone photos to my Windows 10 desktop using Microsoft’s OneDrive.  The photos are on my local drive as well as the cloud.  The downside is that all the photos, movies, and screen shots are dumped into a single directory, and there are a lot of them.

I prefer to have them sorted by date into directories.  A directory for each year, with sub-directories for each month.  I could do this by hand, but that’s a pain, and I have to remember to do it on a regular basis.  Plus I’ll probably want to do the same for my wife’s iPhone photos.  So I decided to write a python script to scan the camera roll directory, and copy the files to a directory in my photo archive section.  The scrip will create directories if needed and skip files that are already in place.

That part was pretty straight forward. I used os.chdir() to get to source directory and os.listdir() to get the directory contents.  Don’t want to create month directories for directories, just files, so I used os.path.isfile() to filter out non-files, and then check the file extension.  I only want jpg, mov, png, and tiff files.  I use Camera+ most of the time, which produces tiff files instead of jpg files. The png files are screenshots.

I used os.stat() to get the create time, and found files I exported to the camera roll from Camera plus had a create time of when they were exported, not the time the photo was taken. (Once I started having Camera+ dump straight to the camera roll, I didn’t have this problem).

So, I dug a little deeper and found I could get an image created time stamp with a getImageDate() call.  Downside was this didn’t work for png, tiff, or mov files.   So I had to do some extra sorting, and wrote another function to use on just the jpg files. I called the open() function from the Image library, and extracted the exif data using the _getexif() function. This works most of the time, so when it fails I had it return a ‘?’ rather than the time stamp string.  Seeing that caused a fall back to the getImageDate() function.

This extra call to the Image library made the placement of the files more accurate.  I had the base time function return the month as a three character string and the year as a 4 characters string.  This required some basic string manipulation. Those two parameters were added to predetermined destination and passed to a function I had written for another project that checks if directory exits, and creates it if it does not.

Next was to have the program check to see if the file already existed in the correct destination directory.  If it did, don’t bother copying it again. This will make the incremental runs faster and save on unneeded file transfers.

Now I have a functional script that I can set up to automatically run once a week.  Once the files are archived off OneDrive, I can removed them there and on the iPhone is order to free up space.

Originally posted to Urbin Technology.  I put the source code for the time stamp functions there.

Friday B-Movie Pick: The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

December 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Movies 

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
Guy Richie shows his love for the 60’s TV series with this Cold War era movie. It’s the early 1960’s and the Cold War is running hot. The movie starts with CIA agent Napoleon Solo up against KBG agent Illya Kuryakin. Kuryakin doesn’t stop Solo from getting the daughter of a German scientist out of East Berlin, but he comes a damn closer than Solo is used to. So when they are told they have to team a few days later, there is hostility and mistrust. This is an origin story, about how the U.N.C.L.E team was formed and the enemy agents learned to work together. I enjoyed, but then as a child of the 60’s I remember seeing this show when I was very young. I saw a lot more of The Avengers and The Wild, Wild West, which are of a similar theme. Check it out, it’s a good spy story with a touch of humor.

Friday B-Movie Pick Archive

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