Saturday, October 31, 2015

Second anniversary

Two years ago today, Nigel and I were legally married. As it happens, we’re going to our niece’s wedding today, which seems appropriate. So much has changed. But the most important thing is still that this day two years ago was about us.

Like most people, I’ve been to a few weddings in my lifetime. Interestingly, I think, most of the weddings I’ve been to weren’t in a church, even if many of them still had religious elements (many others have not had them, though, and that sort is becoming the most common these days).

But regardless of where the wedding was held, or what type it was, there were two things I was always aware of.

The first was how wonderful and beautiful it was to see two people publicly pledging their commitment to each other and celebrating their love for one another. I always felt privileged and honoured to be a witness to it.

The other thing I felt wasn’t celebratory or uplifting at all: I was aware that what I was witnessing was forbidden to me, and for most of my life I’d just assumed that it always would be forbidden to me. So despite my happiness for the marrying couple, I was always aware that it was something that I could never have.

Civil unions provided a way to have some of that, so I was glad to embrace it. I was happy and proud as I’d always imagined any person getting married must feel—and yet, I was still forbidden to marry.

Two years ago, all that changed in New Zealand, and two years ago today, Nigel and I were married. We’d already had our big ceremony at the time of our civil union, so the marriage wasn’t about that. Instead, it was about finally being welcomed into the family of citizens because we were, surprisingly, unexpectedly, allowed to be married, too, and that changed everything.

In February, we went to the first wedding we’d been to since we were married, and it was different because of what has changed. I know that the one we go to today will be different, too, for the same reason. This is a good thing on its own.

I’ve always valued marriage, but I think I’ve valued it even more when I finally gained the right to be married. That’s worth celebrating.

But the reason all this has happened—marrying Nigel—is still the thing that matters. Every day is better in so many ways because I share my life with that wonderful man, and I look forward to our future together with excitement, even as I cherish every day. The fact that we’re legally married only intensifies all that.

Happy Anniversary to us!

Still married (2014)
To be married
Husband and husband
Just one more

The photo up top is of our wedding rings, which I took the morning of October 31, 2013. Unlike my other photos on this blog, this one is copyright, all rights reserved. Of course.

Defending the word

In the recent Republican Circus Debate, Ol’ Ben Carson was all hurt that anyone would say he’s homophobic. Despite all the evidence in his own record, Carson continues to maintain that he’s not anti-gay. But, he is—and his attitudes ARE homophobic.

The objection of Carson and the other rightwingers to the word isn't just invalid, it’s actually motivated either by marketing needs or lack of self-awareness (or both). For Carson, it’s the latter, while for the radicals in the professional anti-gay industry, it’s clearly the first.

The word "homosexual" was a portmanteau, drawn from both Latin and Greek. The word "homophobia", on the other hand, was a neo-logism, using "homo", a slang term for gay people, and "phobia", which is Latin (via Greek), meaning "an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something". It isn't, and never was, a clinical term, but rather one that was coined to label irrational anti-gay attitudes in public policy and politics. Ironically, it was coined in the first place because it was "nicer" than saying someone was prejudiced or calling them a bigot.

Times change, and language is neither static nor immutable, of course, and the term started to be framed by the rightwing as not just "wrong", but as evil. The professional anti-gay industry realised that if they didn't attack the term "homophobia", ordinary people might conclude that adults spending millions of dollars and their entire careers fighting to prevent their fellow citizens from being treated fairly and equally under law, including having the exact same right to assume the responsibilities and commitment of marriage, well, the people so against all that might be seen as mentally ill. But that's about THEIR image problems, not the utility, or lack of, for the term "homophobia".

The term was coined as a descriptor of irrational anti-gay attitudes in the public arena, and that hasn't changed. The fact that some people may use it more broadly, and some may now use it to imply a clinical meaning, doesn't change the fact that its core meaning hasn't yet changed (though, of course, it might).

And if the term makes the far-right extremists in the professional anti-gay industry squirm and feel they must explain that they don't really have an irrational aversion to LGBT people, even as they spend every waking moment and hundreds of millions dollars trying to prevent us from being treated with the same dignity and rights under law that they have as human beings, well, I just can't get upset about their discomfort. Maybe if they engaged in a little self-reflection they might realise WHY they're called that, and how, in fact, it's the perfect term.

Related: Radical right professional anti-gay activists are upset with Ol’ Ben because he didn’t stridently oppose equal treatment of LGBT employees by the corporations on whose boards of directors he once was once part of. He’s taking that as evidence that he’s not “really” anti-gay—he just doesn’t want us treated as full and equal citizens when it comes to protecting our families. Right…

This post is revised and expanded from a comment I posted on the AmeriNZ Facebook Page.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Labour Day: Out and about

Today was Labour Day in New Zealand. Stores were having sales of various kinds, and this afternoon we joined the masses so we could pick up a couple things for the house, plus a few groceries. We were successful.

We didn’t go out shopping, apart from this afternoon, but last night we went and had dinner with our friends, originally from the USA, who were up from Wellington, where they live. We went to Sal’s Pizza, which is a NY-style pizzeria chain (mostly in Auckland at the moment). It was a great evening. I also got an accent recharge and, as an added bonus, for a change Nigel was the minority in a group of Americans.

The photo above is one I shot while we were out and about today, as I waited in the car for Nigel to run a quick errand. The photo doesn’t mean anything—I just liked all the various grids and angles and that everything still shiny and new.

They’re the rolling cage-like bins that stores put cardboard into, but these were outside a medium-to-large vacant store, and there was no one around, despite it being a public holiday with a lot of cars on the nearby roads as people (like us…) went from shop to shop.

Back at home, I looked at the photo, cropped it slightly, and then—and I’m not quite sure why—I decided to upload a higher-resolution version to my Flicr account, something I haven’t done in over three years. This meant downloading the new uploader app (the old one didn’t work), and it was a bit of a mission to get things working just right. I think I’ll start using Flicr again for photos I share publicly—I mean, why not? You’re welcome to have a look at my “Flicr Photostream” if you want.

And that, basically, was my Labour Day Weekend this year.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

And then there were three

This past week, two of the candidates for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party dropped out, leaving only three candidates. I don’t know which one of the three will win the nomination, but I’ll be voting for whichever candidate it is.

Yesterday, Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee dropped out of the presidential race. Some pundits called Chafee’s candidacy “quixotic”, in part because, among other things, he called for the USA to adopt the metric system (only in the USA could that make a candidate seem weird). A former Republican, driven from his party by the radical right that now controls it, and little known outside his own state and region, his odds were always long.

Earlier last week, former US Senator from Virginia, Jim Webb, also dropped out. Webb says he’s considering an independent run—yeah, right. Spoiler alert: If he runs, he’ll absolutely lose. Based on the evidence, Webb seems to have a vastly overinflated opinion of himself, one clearly not shared by very many Americans: He only raised some $700,000, according to the AP story I linked to, and he polled at only 2% before he withdrew. It takes a huge ego for someone so unpopular and unsuccessful to think that he can somehow miraculously manage to win the presidency from the two main parties—when that hasn’t happened since Abraham Lincoln won the 1860 presidential election. Ain’t gonna happen.

Chafee and Webb were probably the most conservative of the Democratic candidates, and it puts Clinton and O’Malley as the most conservative now. Clinton has moved to the left in the past year or so, but O’Malley is trying to present himself as more liberal than Clinton and more “mainstream” (read: conservative) than Sanders. However, the truth is that all three remaining candidates have areas where they’re liberal, and areas where they aren’t. What matters most to me, as a progressive voter, is their overall theme and direction, what their priorities are, and how they plan to get there—and who can beat the eventual Republican nominee.

However, I can say with certainty that I’ll be voting for whichever one of them wins the Democratic Nomination, because I’d never even consider any of the Republican clowns candidates.

Meanwhile, McClatchy reports “Landscape shifts: Democrats could take control of Senate”. I certainly hope they’re right, because that is so very, very important.

Yesterday, there was still 1 year, 16 days until the US presidential election.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Halloween stuff

Like a lot of people, I was aware of the Celtic origins of Halloween, and the mythology behind it. I was also aware that what we have now was a “chistianised” response—sort of. But until today, I wasn’t aware of the more recent ethnic Halloween traditions that were brought to the USA, and then exported back.

The video above is the latest from BBC America’s Anglophenia series, and in it Kate Arnell explains the Scottish roots of the modern observance of the day, though many have changed considerably since then (carved turnips, anyone?). I found it fascinating.

Even so, Halloween is still kind of an also-ran in New Zealand.

In another vaguely Halloween-related item, I also saw this today: “Vincent Price’s Daughter Confirms He Was Bisexual—And A Pretty Awesome Dad”. It’s pretty interesting, and it reminded me that when I was at university, I saw Price in a one-man play “Diversions and Delights”, by John Gay. It was about Oscar Wilde giving a lecture to a Paris audience in 1899. Vincent was really good. He reportedly said of the role:
“I believe my role as Oscar Wilde was my greatest achievement as an actor. It was really extraordinary. It was the only time ever in my whole life when I really, completely fell into the character. I was really able to escape into the wit and brilliance of the man. A divine feeling.”
It was certainly a divine evening.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Pretty much all the people I know who share their lives with furbabies dote on them. Those who don’t are often appalled by our behaviour, but we don’t care: We’ve learned that the way people treat their fur companions says a lot about their character.

Good character is, of course, very different from good behaviour, and some of us may a wee bit too accommodating to our furbabies. Like today, for example.

The photo above shows Jake, Bella, and Sunny asleep on the bed, where they’d been for an hour or so. I fed them, as I always do, but I didn’t make the bed as I usually do while they eat because I planned on putting on fresh sheets today. Instead, I went and had breakfast, checked my email, and also the news I’d missed overnight.

When I went back, they were all in bed. Naturally, I couldn’t disturb them. So, I went and did other things around the house, and one by one they got up to go to see what I was doing. I seized the opportunity and changed the sheets. Jake always waits for me to finish, then jumps on the bed and lies down. Always. Sunny was elsewhere.

I always make the bed while they’re eating precisely so I that can do it without disturbing them. The reason I make sure to do it early is because all the “efficiency” and “organisation” experts I’ve ever heard have advised making the bed first thing in order to score a “win” early in the day, to set the tone for the rest of the day. I don’t know if that’s true or B.S., but habit is habit, I guess.

The furbabies don’t care about expert advice, or my schedule, they just want a comfortable and quiet place to sleep. And if their goal conflicts with my own goals and plans for the day, well, mine can wait. Like this morning.

I don’t know how many animal lovers would let their furbabies keep on sleeping, and how many would get them to jump down, but pretty much all the people I know dote on their furbabies more often than not. I’m okay with that, and I know that Jake, Bella, and Sunny are, too.

Joe was right

Today Vice President Joe Biden announced that he won’t run for president. I think he made the right decision for everyone, most especially himself.

In his announcement, Biden said, "Unfortunately, I believe we're out of time," and he was absolutely right: It’s too late for another candidate to join the Democratic field—money and volunteers are already being scooped up. Biden was also frank about how his grieving over the death of his son, Beau, is nowhere near over. He has every right to decide that for himself alone, and no one has any right to judge him for it. He needs to heal, and only he can determine when the healing has begun.

Joe has been an excellent vice president. The Democratic National Committee sent out an email today urging supporters to sign a card thanking Vice President Biden for his service (the image above is from that email). It was a nice gesture, one I take at face value. I added my name.

However, I’m not sure what, precisely he would have added apart from not being Hillary Clinton nor Bernie Sanders, but, presumably, with enough name recognition to compete with them. He’s a bit more liberal on most things than Clinton, but less so than Sanders. If Clinton is thought of as an insider, then Biden is the epitome of an insider. If Sanders is the candidate confounding pundits, then Biden has made a career of that—and confusing them, too.

Biden was a little TOO close to Washington insiders for my taste, and a little too quick to side with big business. For those reasons, I definitely think that this was not the year for him to be running, not when voters are looking for change.

Even so, Biden has been good about a number of things. He prodded President Obama to support marriage equality, and whether that was accidental or planned doesn't really matter: It shifted the debate in the USA, and even helped win passage here in New Zealand. And sometimes even his turns as “Crazy Uncle Joe”, as pundits called him, we useful in clearing the air of the stench of Washington bovine excrement.

So, I like Joe—I even met him once, a long time ago. I think he’s been an outstanding Vice President, and I admire him personally. But I think his opting not to run for president is the best decision for all concerned.

All that aside, thanks, Joe. It’s been a grand ride.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Did Canada set the stage?

Most Americans know very little about Canada, and nothing at all about its government and politics. Or that they had an election. But today Canadian voters denied a fourth term to their conservative government. We hope to do the same thing to New Zealand’s in a couple years.

The video above in from John Oliver, talking about the Canadian elections, and giving Americans more information than they’ve probably ever heard. It doesn’t surprise me that it comes from the British-born host of a US comedy show, since such shows seem to be the best way to get political information in the USA right now.

Oliver is sometimes a bit biting in his humour, something New Zealand has experienced a few times—and those times were, too, probably the only time that viewers ever heard anything about New Zealand politics; but, then, we’re not a neighbour of the USA (an aside: back in 1995 I was telling someone that I was moving to New Zealand, and the person thought it was a Canadian province…).

I loathed Stephen Harper, and for many of the reasons that Oliver mentions (and also for his war on science, his reprehensible policies on LGBT refugees, and so much more). I have no idea whether Justin Trudeau will be a good prime minister—but it’s hard to imagine he could possibly be any worse.

Here’s the thing. There was a time when the Conservative Party was down and out. It came back. Not so very long ago, the Liberal Party was in third place, and now they just won the election handily. Never count a party out.

This has implications for other countries. Democrats must win back seats in Congress and state legislatures, as well as governorships, if they are to have any hope of fixing the Republicans’ messes and disasters. Much of the media is writing off the Democrats’ chances—could they be wrong? Could the Democrats have successes beyond prediction, like the Liberals in Canada?

In New Zealand, pundits look at polls right now to declare that National is likely to win a fourth term in a couple years. Maybe—or, maybe we’ll be like Canada.

The point is, that increasingly pundits are the worst possible predictor of election results, constantly misreading the mood of voters and underestimating politicians and their parties. Canada has proven the folly in pundits being too certain of their own infallibility.

But it is still funny that we need comedians to tell it to us straight.

The photo below was posted on Facebook this evening by Andrew Little, Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party, and Leader of the Opposition, who wrote: "Just posted this letter to Justin Trudeau, congratulating him on the result of the Canadian Election".

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Viral goodness

Despite all the yuckiness on the Internet, there’s also a lot of really good stuff, too. Some of it even becomes rather popular, which is nice, even more so when they make a good point.

Yesterday, a friend of mine posted the video up top, and today George Takei shared it on Facebook, which makes it pretty viral. I like the drug commercial parody, but it’s also based on real-live science: People really do experience better physical and metal health if they get out into nature.

But another reason I liked it so much was because of the implicit message that people should, at least sometimes, step away from technology.

Shortly after seeing the video on YouTube, I visited the page of a Facebook Group I’m part of and someone had posted comment after comment after comment with links pointing to all sorts of truly bizarre extreme rightwing—and thoroughly unhinged—conspiracy theories. So, I responded in the best passive-aggressive sub-Tweet method I could: “I'm reminded that there are people who need to go outside more, far from an Internet-connected device of any kind. There's a prescription available that may help…” and I shared a link to the video above. I didn’t mention names, but the weirdness did immediately stop, so maybe the advice was heeded? I’d like to think so.

Sometimes, it’s difficult to know what to do when confronted with people saying things you strongly disagree with—or that just sound nuts. My response above was certainly not ideal, but at least it was something, which is more than I can say about two different incidents on Monday, when I was chatting normally with a couple different people at different times—until they started saying racist things. I honestly had no idea what to do or say—I’m never prepared when that sort of thing happens.

But, what if there IS time to prepare? Among other things, it gives people time to come up with creative and positive responses to racism and the negativity that goes with it.

Even if they're real neo-fascists, like in the video below.

Last year, the Bavarian town of Wunsiedel was faced with a march by neo-Nazis. So, they turned it into a fundraiser for EXIT-Germany, a group that helps neo-Nazis become EX-neo-Nazis. I think it was an absolutely brilliant idea, and a great way to counter hatred and extremism, turning it all into something good and positive—all while also preserving freedom of thought and expression. And, who knows? It may have encouraged some of the marchers to get help to leave their extremism behind.

Sometimes, there’s some really good stuff on the Internet. These two videos are even better because they make good points. Bonus.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

More movie trailers

From time to time, I share trailers for movies that intrigue me, either because they look promising or because they look so utterly bizarre. Today, I have both.

Bizarre first: The trailer up top is for “Pride And Prejudice And Zombies” a movie due to be released next year that’s based on Jane Austen’s classic, Pride and Prejudice—with zombies. Okay, that’s not actually true: It’s based on a 2009 parody novel also called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. From the Wikipedia description of the novel:
“The story follows the plot of Pride and Prejudice, but places the novel in an alternate universe version of Regency era England where zombies roam the English countryside. Described as the ‘stricken’, ‘sorry stricken’, ‘undead’, ‘unmentionables’, or just ‘zombies’, the deceased ancestors of England are generally viewed by the characters as a troublesome, albeit deadly, nuisance.”
It’s a bizarre idea—but maybe it works?

Next up is more conventional sort of movie, but also kind of odd, “Hail Caesar” (trailer at bottom of this post). USA Today said:
“How do you get George Clooney as a bumbling actor, Scarlett Johansson in a mermaid costume, Channing Tatum dancing in a sailor outfit and Tilda Swinton all in one movie? You call the Coen Brothers, that's how.”
Yep, pretty much. And yet, it has a great cast, an interesting idea, and the Coen Brothers’ movies are often good in a quirky sort of way (I loved Fargo, for instance). This looks like it could be good.

I have no idea whether either of these films will turn out to good or not. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see—so to speak…

Friday, October 16, 2015

Internet Wading: Truth and facts

There are millions of stories on the Internet, making a great big ocean of stuff that’s interesting, informative, or sometimes just weird. Here are a few things that caught my eye, but didn’t make it into blog posts of their own.

I write a lot about politics, of course, but I haven’t written about the silly rightwing propaganda about Planned Parenthood. Others have debunked all that nonsense far better than I could, but the Genetic Literacy Project has gone back to basics and helped us all with “Understanding how fetal tissue is medically used”. Spoiler alert: It’s not at all what the Republicans have been saying. Surprise!

History is another thing often hidden away or deliberately altered for some end or the other. Recently, we learned how textbooks politically edited created for Texas described slaves brought from Africa as “workers” and “immigrants”. Apparently, even the stupid is bigger in Texas.

But other history is merely hidden, like “The white man in that photo”, the story of Australian athlete Peter Norman, the white man in the famous photo of American runners John Carlos and Tommie Smith and their “Black Power salute” after they received their medals for the 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City. I always wondered what the white guy was thinking, partly, to be sure, because I grew up amid white, suburban Republicans in what was a very tumultuous year (I was nine at the time). Even if some folks quibble with the specifics of Norman’s story, it’s nevertheless fascinating, and he turns out to have been quite courageous in his own right.

A major problem we face in following news stories is cutting through the spin, and avoiding ideological leaning. That’s particularly true when trying to decipher conflicts over the US Constitution, such as those we’ve seen recently as numerous public officials and even some judges have openly defied the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell that established 50-state marriage equality in the USA. So, “May lawyers lead a campaign to defy the Supreme Court?” Fortunately for us, one of the best sources I know for understanding complex issues about the US Constitution, and court rulings related to it, has just looked at that question, and the answer’s mixed.

The blog of the National Constitution Center dissects issue and questions arising from the Constitution, preceding their look with “we checked the Constitution, and…” These posts have always been analytical, dispassionate, and absolutely non-partisan AND non-ideological. More than once I’ve read a post and, though I didn’t like to admit it, I had to acknowledge they were right. It’s an excellent source for understanding the issues behind fights over the Constitution and court rulings, and it’s also a good source for information about Constitutional history.

Black lives matter? Of course they do. But, do black deaths matter?

And to end this particular Internet Wading where it began—faking stuff for the news or to score political points—here’s “9 Viral Images That Are Totally Fake” from Gizmodo.

And that’s it for this instalment of Internet Wading. Truth and facts always matter. Always.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Common sense won

Sometimes, common sense prevails. Sometimes the wowsers and self-appointed morality police are reminded that in a diverse society, they don’t get to dictate things. Sometimes, the good guys win. That just happened in New Zealand.

Last month, a far-right “Christian” professional activist, Bob McCroskrie, caused an award-winning young adult novel to be banned, the first time that had ever happened in modern New Zealand, when he objected to the book being freely available, without restriction. I told the story of that soap opera last month, and it’s a long tale, so I won’t repeat it all here.

The important thing is that the professional wowser lost. Again. The Film and Literature Board of Review not only rejected Bob’s latest complaint, they restored it to the original status the book had before Bob’s first complaint: It is unrestricted. And that's final.

Which makes Bob’s whining about the Board’s "flip-flop decision" especially funny. The book was unrestricted, Bob complained, it was reclassified R-14 (which was unprecedented for a book), something that amounted to de facto banning since neither libraries nor bookstores have R-14 sections. The Chief Censor changed the rating back to unrestricted, Bob complained again and ended up with Board essentially upholding the access the Chief Censor had originally given the book. In this case, the Board’s “flip” “flopped” it back to the original status of the book.

Bob was sure he’d win his latest appeal, particularly because the Board’s chair, rightwing Christian Don Mathiesson, had originally favoured making the book R-18—the same rating as pornography, which would have restricted the award-winning young adult novel to adults only. When Bob launched his last appeal, Mathiesson took the extreme and bizarre step of banning the book outright, even though doing so clearly contravened the Bill of Rights Act.

Bob, was gleeful when the book was banned, even though he hadn’t asked for that, and he pretty obviously thought he’d win his appeal. Bob declared it was only the beginning of a book-banning frenzy: "Hopefully we have set a precedent and people start bringing other books to the fore that they are concerned about."

Well, this matter has been settled once and for all, and Bob lost. Again. Don was outvoted by the Board he chairs. Again. The wowsers lost. Again. And the grown-ups won.

Where Bob was once giddy with the prospect of imposing his view of morality on everyone, now he’s livid: "A dangerous precedent has been set,” he declared, “and parents will now feel disempowered and that their concerns will be ignored regarding similar books which they may not want their young teenagers and pre-teens to be reading."

Too frigging bad.

I have a radical solution to Bob’s problem: Maybe, just maybe, parents could, oh, I don't know, BE PARENTS! If the pearl-clutchers like Bob and what’s probably only a handful of parents he represents cannot be bothered to pay attention to what their children are reading, how is that society’s problem? These wowsers also bitterly complain about TV shows they don’t approve of and try to get them banned so no one can watch—instead of using the “off” button on their own damn televisions.

Society is complex nowadays, which frightens the wowers and pearl-clutchers. It’s absolutely true that with the Internet alone, maintaining parental supervision of children isn’t easy. But good parents, first, inculcate their children with good values so the kids can tell right from wrong and also what their parents don’t approve of (the two are NOT synonymous). Then, parents need to maintain a dialogue with their children so they know what their children are doing, to the extent possible, and can discuss the new ideas and information with them.

But teenagers will always push the boundaries—that’s their job as they work to establish their own identity. No parent can stop or prevent that, which is precisely why the most reactionary parents will try and ban the things they don’t approve of, because they know that, ultimately, there’s no way to keep their teens from accessing what mainstream teens do.

It’s too bad that Bob and the other wowsers are frightened by modern society. I pity them for their inability to grow and progress as society does. But I absolutely reject their constant attempts to dictate what’s appropriate or moral for everyone: They have absolutely no right to do so. There’s a HUGE difference between having a different opinion or worldview, and forcing it onto everyone else; the first is a human right, the second is tyranny.

Common sense won in New Zealand. Once again, the wowsers and self-appointed morality police were reminded that in a diverse society, they don’t get to dictate things. This time, the good guys won.

Postscript: Into the River by Ted Dawe is once again available for New Zealanders to buy on Amazon, as is the Kindle edition. Both were blocked when the book was banned.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Sick of hearing about the damn emails

In the video above, Senator Bernie Sanders said what is already being hailed as the moment of the night in the Democratic Debate. Defending Hillary Clinton, he said: “America is sick of hearing about your damn emails!” He’s absolutely right.

Ever since Republican US Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Majority Leader in the US House, accidentally admitted that the whole point of the Republicans’ constant investigations into Benghazi was to destroy Hillary Clinton, the obsession on Hillary’s emails was becoming more and more suspicious.

Since then, an investigator for the committee has come forward [VIDEO] to say he was fired when he raised concerns that the Benghazi committee was too partisan against Clinton. The Republican chairing the committee predictably, if unprofessionally, called the man a liar.

Then we learned that retiring Speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner, was part of the politically-motivated fraud. He saw the crusade about Clinton’s emails as a way to keep the phony Benghazi “investigation” alive and cause political damage to Clinton. So, if you’re following the soap opera, the Majority Leader admitted the whole point of the Republicans’ Benghazi committee was to damage Hillary Clinton, and then it turns out the Speaker of the House saw the Republican crusade on emails as a way of harming Clinton, too.

The chair of the committee has also been accused of breaking federal law by publicly discussing employment matters relating to the whistleblower former investigator [VIDEO]. Things have fallen apart very quickly for Republicans, and it’s now obvious that the whole “investigation” is and always has been a Republican politically-motivated attempt to destroy Hillary Clinton.

So, When Bernie Sanders said “America is sick of hearing about [the] damn emails,” he was absolutely right. There’s no evidence that ordinary, non-Republican Americans care about the Republicans’ crusade it at all. In fact, they’re beginning to clearly see that the only point of the entire Benghazi committee and everything about it had one and only one goal: To help the Republican Party and its eventual presidential nominee by destroying Hillary Clinton.

It’s time that partisan crusade was ended so that even the newsmedia will finally focus on the issues that US voters really care about, and not the phony Republican partisan crusades.

Stupidity attack

Ben Carson: Two words that together seem to be turning into a synonym for stupidity. The man may have been a good brain surgeon, but he’s an absolute moron when it comes to public policy, and nearly every day he says something so utterly batshit crazy that it proves that fact yet again.

There were, of course, his bizarre statements on guns, and especially about guns and the Holocaust. Experts have already demolished Ben’s utter idiocy on that point, though it didn’t stop one of the star contributors for Fox “News” from blaming Jews for the Holocaust. The American far right is really smart and classy bunch, isn't it?

Ben’s latest dumbassery came in a speech at a church in Gainseville, Georgia, where he preached:
“The pledge of allegiance to our flag says we are one nation under God. Many courtrooms in the land on the wall it says ‘In God We Trust.’ Every coin in our pocket, every bill in our wallet says ‘In God We Trust.’

“So if it’s in our founding documents, it’s in our pledges, in our courts and it’s on our money, but we’re not supposed to talk about it, what in the world is that? In medicine it’s called schizophrenia. And I, for one, am simply not willing to kick God to the curb.”
This is such basic, elementary stuff that it’s frankly embarrassing to have to debunk Ben, but duty calls.

“In God We Trust” wasn’t an official motto until 1956, and wasn’t added to US paper currency until October 1, 1957. The story of the pledge is even better.

In 1892—116 years after the Declaration of Independence—Francis Bellamy, a Socialiast Christian preacher, wrote the original pledge: “I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” No mention of any gods or goddesses of any kind.

Thirty-one years later, in 1923, words were added: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” STILL no mention of any gods or goddesses of any kind.

It wasn’t until 1954, in the midst of the Cold War anti-communist hysteria, that the words “under God” were added to the pledge. The motto “in God We Trust” was officially adopted a couple years later, because of the same hysteria, and it wasn’t added to paper currency until the following year.

References to any deity in the Declaration of Independence have to be understood in terms of The Enlightenment, especially the fact that most of the “Founding Fathers” weren’t even Christians—they were Deists.

The Declaration of Independence refers (in order) to: “…the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…” (the only time the word God is used in the Declaration), “…they are endowed by their Creator…”, “…the Supreme Judge of the World…”, and “…with a firm Reliance on the Protection of the divine Providence…” All of those references are to a Deist conception of a god, not the Christian one. At most, Ben could have claimed there were religious references, but even that’s pushing it.

It gets worse for Ben. While there’s no explicit reference to the Christian god in the Declaration, there’s absolutely NO reference to ANY god, by whatever name, in the US Constitution. In fact, the ONLY reference to religion in the Constitution itself is in Article VI: “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” Obviously Ben thinks there should be a religious test.

Moreover, the only reference to religion in the Bill of Rights is in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”, and that’s the only reference to religion in any of the Amendments to the Constitution.

The inconvenient truth denied by Ben and his friends is that the USA was founded as a nation in which church and state were meant to be totally separate. The US Constitution—which is the supreme law of the USA—clearly and unambiguously says that all power in the Constitution is derived from “We the people”, not some deity. Even the Declaration—the only founding document with any reference to a divine power of any kind—states that the Continental Congress declared the independence of the United States “in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies”, not in the name of some god or goddess.

All of this matters because it proves Ben’s fundamental ignorance of American history, of the founding of the USA in particular, and of the tradition of separation of church and state that is so vital to the functioning of a free society. Instead, Ben seems to be promoting a Christian theocracy, and that cannot be tolerated—EVER. People of conscience are required to defend liberty against those who would take it away, even those who seek to do it in the name of their religion.

And finally, I could attack Ben’s use of the word schizophrenia, which he used incorrectly, either deliberately or through ignorance, but—unlike Ben—I’ll stick with subjects I know a lot about and have actually studied. I’ll leave that debunking to experts in mental health.

If only Ben had paid more attention in high school, it wouldn’t be necessary to debunk nearly every single thing he says. Sadly, he leaves us no choice but to point out how utterly wrong he is about nearly everything he says. The stakes are too high to do anything else.

Update: Steve Benen at MSNBC points out that every time Ben says something outrageous, his poll ratings go up—just like Trump found out. Meanwhile, Kevin Drum says on Mother Jones that "Ben Carson is a paranoid nutcase."

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Still uniquely nasty

Back in June, I shared the Yahoo! documentary, “Uniquely Nasty: The U.S. Government's War on Gays”. I found it sobering, not the least because of how utterly vile, and more disgusting than disgusting, certain Republican politicians were in the 1950s. Well, there’s more.

US Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), the first lesbian ever elected to the US House of Representatives, then the first openly LGBT person elected to the US Senate, has formally asked the FBI to investigate the role certain Republican US Senators played in causing the suicide of US Senator Lester Hunt (D-WY) on June 19, 1954 (his story was Chapter 2 in the documentary). Hunt was being blackmailed by two US Senators, possibly at the direction of a guy who was among the most evil person to ever serve in the US Senate, Joe McCarthy (who was such a revolting piece of excrement that I refuse to put the title “US Senator” in front of his name—ever—because doing so would demean and diminish the title for even the worst US Senators). At the very least, the evidence suggests that McCarthy knew what was going on, but common sense suggests he directed and/or encouraged the extortion.

Michael Isikoff, who reported the documentary, recently summed up the evidence that’s been piling up to prove the involvement of the two Republican Senators, and the growing calls for an official investigation, like Senator Baldwin's.

Senator Baldwin is the junior US Senator from Wisconsin, which, of course, is the seat that McCarthy polluted until his chronic alcoholism killed him in 1957. That adds a level of delicious irony to the story.

Of course, nothing can ever fix the damage done, since all the criminal US Senators are now dead. But maybe the record can at least be made clear for all to see, so we’ll all know how some politicians will stop at nothing to destroy political opponents and get what they want. That behaviour is still there, of course, but maybe—maybe—if we know and understand how truly evil politicians can be, we might be a bit more careful in selecting them.

That would a good thing that could come out of this sorry saga. But, I’m certainly not holding my breath.

Toothday check-up

Today was my post-operation check at the periodontist. It all went well, and things are healing normally. No, that's not true: Things aren’t just going well, they’re better than ever.

Today, the periodontist removed the last of the “packing”, a rigid kind of stuff they put on to protect the wound and keep food from getting stuck in the stitches, etc. Last time, a chunk fell out before the re-check, but this time only a relatively small piece did.

Once that was removed, he checked thoroughly and could see the healing is progressing well, and that the stitches are starting to dissolve, all according to plan. In general, I tend to respond well to medical treatments, so it wasn’t a surprise, but it’s always a relief, nevertheless.

After my surgery last week, he was checking that my molars lined up right, and my jaws were a bit shaky as I tried to close them, mostly from muscle fatigue due to keeping my jaws open for so long, two weeks in a row. I mentioned (in passing really) that my teeth actually didn’t close properly because of the front tooth that dropped (part of what started this whole journey). Today, he carefully ground the back of the tooth fractions of a millimetre at a time (can you talk about fractions and metric measurements in the same phrase?). The result is that for the first time since this all began, I can close my mouth properly, my upper and lower molars actually touching. It’s wonderful!

As a bonus, though I’m not certain, so far I think it may have also fixed part of the weird affect on my speech that I first noticed after he removed the frenulum hanging down between my front teeth. I’d noticed the change mainly on sibilants, but changing the shape of the back of a front tooth, ever so slightly, may have improved that, restoring something closer to the speech I used to have. Silly, maybe, but I’m quite happy about that.

Here’s the thing about the grinding that I noticed first: I didn’t mind it at all. That would be no unusual thing, except that before all this work, I would never have been able to stand him grinding that tooth. I think it’s a mark of how much things have improved.

I don’t go back until January, when I see the hygienist. He said I can go to the ordinary dentist in five weeks to have the work on the molars done. All of that is related to the periodontic side of things.

The periodontist also suggested that I could have them grind down the front tooth that’s too long by a millimetre or so, making it closer in size to the other one. Put another way, whatever cosmetic work I get done could start in a few weeks. Quite a turnaround, really.

And that’s the thing about today’s instalment of these Tooth Tales: The original problems are well under control, even fixed in some cases, and I’m also moving forward onto making things better than they were. It’s been expensive, sure, and it’s been time-consuming, and sometimes it’s even been painful, but what matters is how much better things are now, and how good they’re becoming.

I think all that’s worth celebrating—but maybe not with anything loaded with sugar. Got to look after my teeth, after all.

The image above is a reproduction from the 20th US edition of Gray's Anatomy, and is in the public domain. It is available from Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The war on science

The video above is from ASAP Science, but it’s unlike their usual stuff. Rather than explaining a scientific concept in a way that’s friendly and accessible, this video talks instead about the war on science. It’s a good video.

While the particular video is indirectly related to the Canadian elections (the ASAP Science lads are Canadian), what this video talks about is applicable to many countries, most especially the USA. Denying science is a recipe for disaster, and something that, left unanswered, will lead inevitably to a new Dark Ages—at best.

We can change that. We can support science and science funding, and we must reject politicians of any party who deny science. It turns out, ordinary people get this last part in particular.

According to a new poll, 87% of Americans think that “candidates running for Congress or president should have a basic understanding of the science that informs public policy decisions.” Absolutely they should!

Instead, we see American politicians puffing out their chests with pride that “I’m not a scientist” as they deny mainstream science on climate change, vaccines, diet and nutrition, health and medicine, the environment—the list is endless. If scientific literacy was a requirement for elective office, maybe we’d finally see more sensible public policy, more reason- and fact-based debate, and less crude and crass pandering grandstanding by politicians who come across as anti-intellectual buffoons.

Anti-intellectualism is a growing problem in the USA, as most people know. Patricia Williams wrote an article for The Guardian back in 2012 showing how that typically plays out in the USA. Not much has changed. And, by the way, not all American anti-intellectualism is not all rightwing.

We can all be outraged about the politically-motivated revisionist history books made for Texas that describe African slaves brought to the USA in chains as “immigrants” and “workers”, and we should be outraged. But how much more goes on that we never hear about? How much bad policy is written and implemented because of politically-motivated denial of scientific evidence? How much bad policy is made because of mere ignorance of scientific evidence?

We can change that, too. We should encourage strong STEM education in our public schools so that the kids who grow up to be politicians have at least some very basic understanding of the scientific concepts they’re not just bloviating about, but also legislating about.

This is an area in which we all have a responsibility to act. Like those clownish politicians, I’m no scientist, but unlike them, I know how vital it is to humanity that those who are scientists can get on with the work of science. Politicians come and go, and whether humanity does, too, will depend in large part on whether or not we support science.

We must win the war on science.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Recovery mode

Sometimes recovery from something like surgery takes longer than expected. When it’s major surgery causing problems, it can be quite debilitating. But when it’s something relatively minor that’s causing problems, that can be quite surprising. As I’m now finding out.

I haven’t felt well the past couple days, and it took until today for me to put the pieces together: I’m still in recovery mode from my periodontal surgery. This has never happened to me before, which is why it took me two days to figure out.

What I noticed first was profound fatigue: I’d get up in the morning after 8 or nine hours sleep and feel like I got two, maybe three. I eventually woke up, more or less, but the weariness didn’t leave.

Then, today, I started feeling pretty yucky, similar in some ways to the way I felt when I had the Terrible, Awful Cold: 2015 Edition, and I thought it might be a relapse/new affliction. And then I remembered back to Tuesday.

I said that the surgery on Tuesday hurt a lot, and boy oh boy, did it ever. But I’d forgotten that at one point the periodontist was using a tool to scrape—rasp?—the tooth, and he was holding the outside of me head so he could apply more force. I was aware at one point that he was also pressing against one of the glands in my neck, and that hurt. At the time, I was a bit preoccupied with possible other (and much worse) pain, which is why I’d forgotten about it.

When I left the office, I also felt strange, kind of lightheaded, for lack of a better word, and I was a bit disoriented; I left the bottle of Savacol on the reception desk (and had to buy one later). I need to bathe the affected area for one minute, twice a day, as part of my post-op treatment, so it was important. And I forgot it.

Yesterday, that feeling returned, as it did today. This puzzled me, and I was still thinking it could be a new cold (because I felt the same way when I had the cold). But Nigel put it in perspective: Anaesthetic, he reminded me, just fools the brain into thinking nothing is happening, but the trauma of surgery is still actually happening, and the part of the body being operated on still experiences the trauma. He’s absolutely right, of course.

Add to that the fact that this surgery was the most intense of all of them, and also with a great amount of pain, both actual and feared, and it was a far more traumatic experience all round than I’d realised at the time. No wonder I was feeling off colour for a couple days afterward.

It all came as a surprise because I didn’t experience anything like this with any of the previous surgeries, so it never occurred to me that recovery would be slower. But, then, previous surgeries weren’t as big a deal. I can’t remember how my recovery went after general surgery (or whatever the term is for when they operate on your innards…), but I think it may have been kind of similar.

Still, the main thing about all this is how unexpected it is. If I’d experienced it before, I doubt very much I’d be mentioning it, even in passing, let alone blogging about it. But it was a surprise, and it’s coming at a terrible time, when I have so much work to do.

Yet, there it is. I’ll get through it and recover (no sign of infection, by the way). Next time, I’ll know better, but for now, I guess I just have to muddle through while I’m still in recovery mode.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

I had to endure, toothfully

Dental surgery is, under the very best of circumstances, something to be endured. Maybe, if things go very, very well, it can be tolerated. Today was a bit more: It was a test of endurance.

Today I had what I hope is the last major periodontal procedure, more “soft tissue flap surgery”, this time on back teeth on my lower jaw. It began, as it always does, with injections of anaesthetic (as usual, I didn’t feel that). At the last minute, he gave me another injection to help reduce bleeding because by then my adrenalin levels were going up due to stress.

So, on he went, scraping, grinding, and scraping and grinding. Some of it hurt, and hurt a LOT. I had my hands folded, fingers meshed together, on top of my stomach. When the pain was most severe, I’d tighten my fingers against each other and concentrate on my breathing: Slow, steady, deep. I endured. Just like last week.

Generally speaking, when he was grinding away at the roots and moved to an area that hurt, I was better able to handle it than the couple times when he started straight in at a painful spot. In those cases, the surprise seemed to make the pain worse.

I didn’t ask for any more pain relief because I knew it wouldn’t last forever—though, since I couldn’t see the wall clock, I kept thinking to myself things like, “I wonder how much time has passed?” and “I wonder if it’s been at least a half hour yet?” and so on. It eventually did end, of course, and went well, though it was apparently a bit of a challenge for the periodontist.

Before I left, he had me take a couple Voltaren (a brand name of diclofenac) and a couple Panadeine (Panadol with codeine). I was a bit worried about the latter because I know it makes me feel a bit loopy, and I had to drive home. I also wanted to pick up a few things at the grocery store on the way, and I worried it might start to take effect before I got home.

So, I went to the grocery store nearest the house because I knew that if it did start to take effect while I was in the store, I’d feel safer knowing I was so close to home. In the end, it didn't take effect until well after I got home, and I didn’t feel loopy until a good hour after I’d taken them. In retrospect, this is pretty normal for me, but I’ve also never had to drive after taking it before, so my concern was understandable, I think.

I was originally supposed to have today’s procedure a week ago Friday, but I was sick at the time with the Terrible, Awful Cold: 2015 Edition and had to reschedule. I think this worked out better.

I’ll see him in a week for a check to make sure it’s healing well, and I’ll get a better idea of when I can see the dentist, and also what comes next. Among other things, he has something he can to so the front tooth that’s dropped down won’t get in my way as much. Which means, in a sense, that it will be the first step toward fixing my smile, which is where this whole journey began. Small steps.

Ironically, the last two procedures have been the most painful, but I’m proud of myself for enduring them, and for several reasons. First, I was always terrified of going to the dentist, but all these intense procedures have helped me find a way through that (basically, I adopt a certain mindset and go for it, not giving myself a chance to really think about what the hell I’m about to do). I’m even glad that I could endure the sometimes terrible pain, because the fear of pain was one of the main things that kept me from going to the dentist regularly. But most of all, I’m proud of myself for “feeling the fear and doing it anyway”, because I just may have found a way through it all (finally!).

So, these Tooth Tales posts have documented my journey through the wonders of periodontal medicine, but along the way, the whole thing has helped me move past some very real fears. Next, I’ll see if I can apply these lessons to other areas of my life. They’re unlikely to get their own series of blog posts, though.

At any rate, I passed the endurance test today.

The image above is a reproduction from the 20th US edition of Gray's Anatomy, and is in the public domain. It is available from Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Today in viral videos: That Auckland plumber

This video is a travelogue of sorts by Auckland-born Plumber Logan Dodds showing scenes from his three months backpacking around Europe with his Go Pro camera. The video has been quite popular, leading to all sorts of breathless mentions on the Web.

Posted late last week, the video has been viewed on Facebook more than 1,140,000 times so far, and 285,000 on YouTube (the version above). Much of the appeal has been Dodds himself: “This Hot Tradie’s Travel Video Is Going Viral Because People Are Thirsty AF”, BuzzFeed headlined their post. Closer to home, The Edge radio station headlined their post, “This hot Kiwi tradie has officially broken the Internet”

To be sure, the video features some very attractive menz (and probably some attractive women, too…), and in many of the shots Dodds himself is a bit of alright, I think. Clearly many other people quite like the look of him.

All that aside, I liked the palm “slap” as the marker for transitions; I don’t think I’ve seen anyone do it quite like that before. His pacing and structure are also very well done, including both the opening and closing shots. And, the Go Pro does take nice action videos—which figures, since that’s what it was intended for.

Mostly, this is just a bit if fun, and a bit of Internet fame for a Kiwi lad. Reason enough to share it.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Bella’s ‘birthday’ is today

Today is our cat Bella’s birthday. I should make that “birthday” because it’s completely arbitrary. We have no idea when she was born, since she was a stray who chose us, so we gave her a birthday that was six months after Jake’s. When Sunny came along, her birthday was halfway between the two. Meant to be, clearly.

That much I’ve discussed before, but I only once wrote a birthday post for Bella, and that was in 2013. I must’ve forgotten in 2014, and I have no idea why—maybe the exhaustion after the end of the election campaign? A couple weeks later, though, I posted a couple photos of her. That’s something, I guess.

Today I posted a photo of Bella and me to Facebook (at right). She wasn’t all that thrilled, I don’t think, though she kept purring throughout her ordeal. She actually seems to kind of like posing for photos. But not all the photos I take of her are posed (or posted), so up top is one of her yawning. She woke up when I entered the room, so I took some photos, and in this was one of them.

Below that is a photo I took a couple days ago of Jake and Bella on the sofa, lying right next together. They’re not exactly best friends—Jake’s leery of what we call Bella’s “sharp fingers”—but they’re hardly enemies, either. Mostly, they tolerate each other. Sometimes, though, they do play, usually initiated by Sunny, who’s great friends with Bella (Sunny’s best friend when she was young was a cat named Toy).

Bella’s birthday today was quiet, apart from the photo sessions. I think she likes it that way.

Happy Birthday, Bella!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Colour film: Made for white people

Colour film was made for white people, and the video above from Vox explains how that worked. It also explains why changes were made. Spoiler alert: It wasn’t because film manufacturers suddenly realised they’d been racist all those years.

I never developed film or made photo prints, so I’d never heard of a Shirley Card until I watched that video. Even so, I worked with problems caused by the same technical flaw in film that the video describes.

For the first 15-20 years I worked in the printing and publishing industries, I worked exclusively with black and white photographs (full colour was too expensive). When a dark-skinned person was in a colour photo and we converted it to black and white, that person’s features would disappear, apart from their teeth (if they were smiling) and the whites of their eyes. This is because they started out much darker than any white person in the photo (there are some photos in the video that show this), and it became worse when we converted the photos to black and white.

In the days before digital page makeup and photo re-touching, we used manual techniques called dodge and burn. This involved taking an irregularly-shaped piece of card stock that was either white or black (or red) taped to a thin stick. By waving the thing very fast on top of the photo while the camera was shooting the halftone, we could either lighten or darken particular areas of a photo (white to lighten, black or red to darken). This was trial and error to get right, and sometimes we just couldn’t get it right.

This became much easier when the digital age arrived. Since RGB photos have a wide gamut, we did big adjustments to the RGB photo, such as adjusting shadows and highlights, and then covert to black and white (or, later, colour for printing). As digital cameras became better, the number of touch-ups required dropped for all skin tones (and became more about photos that were over-exposed or under-exposed, sometimes only in certain areas).

Now, there are no issues with different skin colours and tones in the same photograph. The problems now are merely people forgetting to use the flash, not focusing—the usual sorts of things that have always been true.

It surprised me to learn that photographic film was created for light skin. Since I wasn’t involved directly in photography, I really had no reason to know that, I guess, even though I had work challenges because of that flaw. Still, it’s one area in which things are so much better now.

A small victory, and miniscule change, but positive nevertheless. Even small progress is worth noting sometimes.


Ever read a blog post and think, “I wonder how that’ll work out”? Or maybe it’s an old one, and, “I wonder what ended up happening?” Sometimes updates are necessary to correct information or impressions, and sometimes it’s just kind of interesting. Whether necessary or interesting or not, this post is an update on several earlier posts.

The green water

Back in July, I wrote about how we’d started adding some green stuff to our furbabies’ drinking water to help them fight dental disease. I mixed them in empty (and washed…) 2 litre milk bottles, and that worked well for a long time. However, I recently noticed spots forming on the inside of the bottle, and from the outside the spots look like mould (photo up top). Looking inside the bottle, they don’t seem to be mould (it looks like reside of the green stuff), but I won’t take any chances.

So, I’m now changing the bottle generally every other week. This isn’t all bad: I’m reusing bottles before I recycle them. But, it did surprise me.

‘Red Peak’ is part of it all

The government moved to legislate under urgency to include the “Red Peak” flag design in the upcoming flag referendum. The design, which has had a groundswell of public support (and opposition, of course…) was included when the Green Party agreed to support adding it to the referendum, giving the government enough votes to get the measure through Parliament. The Labour Party insisted that a question be added to the first referendum asking if New Zealanders even wanted a change, the government refused, and the Greens moved in. Shrewd politics, really, and a popular option will be part of the first referendum.

Browser wowser

Last August, I broke my web browser. Since then, Firefox is better—but I’m still using three web browsers for different things.

Firefox apparently agreed with what I said in that August post and changed their settings to allow users to re-enable add-ons that were “unverified” (there’s since been an update to the password add on, so that’s all good, anyway).

However, one HUGE bug remains: I can sign into my Google account to post to this blog, but then Firefox immediately signs me out again. I can’t use Google’s Chrome because it won’t allow me to edit the HTML of a post (and Google owns both Blogger and Chrome…). So, I write and edit blog posts in Apple’s Safari browser, the only one that’s fully functional for using Blogger.

Neither Safari nor Chrome permit downloading YouTube videos (I’m talking, of course, only about downloading videos that are legal to download). Firefox does. So, I use Firefox for YouTube.

I’ve (mostly) solved the customisation issues with Safari and Chrome, but I’ve found that Chrome has weird performance issues that no other browser has: It becomes unstable at times, and web pages opened in it start responding in a choppy way. The only solution is to quit Chrome and re-start it. Chrome also has a few other performance issues that, while annoying, aren’t important.

Today things change: I’m switching to Safari as my main browser only because it’s the least troublesome one, and this’ll drop me down to two web browsers. I wish things were back how they were, but they’re not. This will have to do.

Spring may be springing

Early last month, I complained about the lack of Spring in our Spring. There are signs that now, as we near mid-Spring, the season may finally be arriving. We’re having more sunny days or, at least, parts of sunny days, and the daytime temperatures are finally slowly going up, though nights are still quite cool or cold.

Still, the way I measure the niceness of weather is by the laundry: If I put washing out on the line and it actually dries, we’ve moved into Spring, since washing hanging on the line for entire sunny winter day doesn’t dry. By that measure, Spring may finally be springing. And I am glad.

There: Now we’re up to date.