Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Category: Musings, Ramblings, and Inanities

Final thoughts

I need to write this down just to sort it out. Everyone says it’s not a “big deal” and that “life will go on”. I don’t know. In elections prior, I have been disappointed but I never grieved. I thought America was headed, or at least heading (however haphazardly) in a direction where we didn’t care about each others’ race, sex, religion, or sexual orientation. I thought that we were poised and ready to tackle the problems of this new century. Then this election happened. Instead of policies, we were literally debating a candidate’s fitness for being President. Instead of merely deciding the direction of this country, we were deciding its character. I never thought that we would elect a man who categorically stated that he wanted to ban an entire religion from this country. I never thought that we would elect a man who is a bully. I thought that we valued experience, knowledge, and intelligence in this country. I never thought we would elect an inexperienced man, who, based on all we know, is not even a successful businessman. I thought we valued pragmatism, poise, and compromise, if not in Congress, at least in the President. I never thought we would elect an immature, thin-skinned man, who goes into an apoplectic fit just from a mean word.

Growing up, we’re taught things by our parents to help us become productive members of society. We are taught to say “Please”, “Sorry”, and “Thank you”. We are taught to respect each other. We are taught not to bully each other. We are taught not to discriminate against each other. We are taught not to take advantage of each other. We are taught not to lie. We are taught to work hard. We are taught to be good people. This election changed all of that. How can a man who disregards the social contract of a society ever be fit to lead that very society? I think those on the other side think I’m sad or disappointed because my party lost. No; it has nothing to do with being Republican or Democrat. But it has everything to do with deciding who we are as a country. Our principles. Our values. Hillary’s sins are well known. She is a flawed candidate. But I don’t think that she is fundamentally a bad person. Think about anyone you disagree with. Simply because you disagree with them, do you consider them a bad person? This is how I have felt about every candidate I didn’t support. I disagreed with Bush, but I never thought he was a bad person. I disagreed with McCain and Romney, but I never thought that they were bad people. They never did anything that ever made me feel that way. Think about Bush’s statement to Cindy Sheehan, his statement about Muslims after 9/11, or McCain’s response to a woman attacking Obama. They were respectful – that is how the people who want to be leaders of this country should behave. How do you explain something like this to a child? If you voted for a person who does everything you tell your child not to do, how do you explain yourself? A Trump supporter told me that one shouldn’t look to politicians for moral guidance. I’m not sure if they understood my original argument. This is not about having a source of morality; it is about an example. Think back to our earliest lessons in morality – fables – if you do bad things, you get in trouble. If you do good things, good things happen to you. Trump contradicts this most basic axiom. His character contradicts it, and now so does our national character apparently, in that a significant part of the country is not just fine with,but wanted a man like this to be president.

As a rebuttal I often get questions as to how I could support someone shady like Hillary. This usually comes with a gish gallop of numerous conspiracy-theory articles. But in general you can sum it up to the following: she lied about Bengazhi, she is corrupt, and of course, her emails. None of those paint her in a flattering light and in isolation they are all concerning. But it turns into a matter of priority. This is what Trump supporters need to understand: she is flawed. But she isn’t talking about banning a whole religion from the country. She could have and probably did make shady deals. But she isn’t talking about how it is ok to sexually assault a woman. She is establishment, and perhaps she cares more for establishment interests. But she isn’t talking about inciting violence or questioning the foundations of our democracy. She may have accepted donations for favors. But she isn’t talking about using nukes or blowing ships out of the water.

I have never felt scared in this country before. That’s different now. Trump’s senior-most advisers are alt-right fanatics. He has regularly courted the white-nationalist and white-supremacist segments of society. He refuses to disavow them as well. I’m not white and I’m an immigrant. How is that supposed to make me feel?

My opposition to Trump is not simply policy. It has nothing to do with the fact that he was on a Republican ticket. It is something far more fundamental; it is about what it means to be an American and a good human-being. It is about how we treat each other. It is about transcending our differences instead of magnifying them. It is about who we are as a society. It is about staying true to the principles that founded this great nation. It is about the statement that we make to the world about who we are as a country. It’s not just about the next 4 years, but the next 400 and where we need to go as a civilization. I really thought we were there. I really thought we were close this time. I really thought that we could start fixing some of the brain-dead decisions that got us here. I really thought that we could actually tackle climate-change. I really thought that we could do it right this time. The irony of all this, is that Trump supporters will never realize is that they not only voted against my interests, but theirs as well. And that is why this hurts so much.

An alarmist future?

If Trump gets elected, I think humanity as a species has failed. Not to sound dramatic, but the choice should be obvious. It’s like you’re offered two bottles: one labeled water and the other labeled Ebola. Which one do you choose?

This probably sounds stupid. But ever since I first saw Star Trek, I knew I had found a goal. My goal was to do everything I could as an individual, to make that kind of future a reality. I know that I will never live in such a future, but I wanted to do my part to get us as a species, ever so much closer to that reality. I looked forward to a world where the only label we assign to each other is “Human”.

Trump is the antithesis of all of that. He stands at the polar opposite of such a future. If Trump gets elected I have very little hope for the future. Ronald Reagan saw America as a “shining city upon a hill” (a phrase from John Winthrop, an early Pilgrim) – it was a place where “if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here”. Ronald Reagan’s America is inclusive; not exclusive. He described it as a proud city, built on rocks stronger than the ocean; a country built on principles that have sustained it for over two centuries.

I have felt that America, even with its numerous flaws, has largely been a force for good in this world. When America decided to take on the mantle of being the world’s superpower, it also inherited the responsibility to do so wisely. As a nation America has made many missteps in this regard, but has also had many successes. Whether nations may admit it or not, many do look to the United States for direction. Trump’s vision threatens all of that. Europe is seeing the resurgence of extreme right-wing nationalism. There are disaffected people everywhere. Feeding into this is rising xenophobia and the desire to blame circumstances on outsiders. This is driven by a migration crisis, which by the way, will be nothing compared to the future ones we will see once the full effects of climate hit us within the next decade or so. Electing Trump will only legitimize and give further traction to these extreme right-wing movements in Europe. This is not a joke; no one saw Brexit coming, and it was largely driven by the same sentiments that are driving right-wing nationalism in mainland Europe.

In the early 1930’s there were a few fascist groups in United States. One of them was the German-American Bund. It was universally rejected by Americans who were repelled by their first exposure to European fascism. How different would the world be today, if a significant fraction of the nation had accepted it? What if there was someone like Trump at this point in time? Imagine a World War II with the United States on the side of the Axis Powers; imagine the outcome.

I am not trying to be alarmist. I honestly feel that we are at a critical point in the history of our civilization. I don’t want to assume the worst, but it’s hard not to. Is our cultural memory really so short that we are going to repeat the same mistakes from more than seven decades ago?

If Trump gets elected, aliens may one day come upon a dead planet and say “See, here’s actual proof that having intelligence doesn’t make you smart. These guys were intelligent, but they still killed themselves anyway because they were stupid.” I’d rather we find them first to disprove that notion.

A Trump presidency does not seem outside of the realm of possibility. That terrifies me. Even if he is elected, I hope the worst does not come to pass. It’s not just the future of America itself that is at stake; it’s the future of our global civilization.

Sci-Fi Fever Dreams

Yesterday when I finally fell asleep, I was running a fever of 102.5 (it broke last night and I feel much better today – I think I’m over whatever I got). I then had a dream I was in a TV show – something like Stranger Things. At least that’s how it started out. Something weird was going on at some house where there was a hole to a parallel dimension and a team of investigators had shown up to check it out. I was part of this team. For whatever reason I had a sweet pair of polarized sunglasses with me. Don’t know where I got them from, but they looked really cool and they most definitely didn’t belong in the 80’s. Everyone kept talking about how cool my shades were and I agreed; they were cool.

We were looking at the lawn where there was a burn mark due to the paranormal occurrences at this house, when I noticed that I would see a strange pattern on the lawn only when I wore the shades. No one else could see it. I lent my sunglasses to the other investigators and then they could see the pattern too. When they wondered why, I said “Well, my glasses are from 2016” (as if that would explain everything). They laughed because it was only 1986. I think at that point I realized that I had somehow time-traveled to 1986 and ended up as part of this team. Anyway, I then realized that the pattern I was seeing on the lawn was basically a series of gears; kind of like what you would see in a clock. Furthermore, the gears were moving. That’s when I realized that what I was looking at was time itself! The glasses helped me view the entire dimension of time using this metaphor. But not just view it…

I decided to say “Go back 10 seconds” while wearing the glasses, and I went back 10 seconds in time! So apparently that was how I had arrived in 1986, but I had forgotten that critical piece of information. I don’t recall what else I did with my new-found power but I vaguely remember time-traveling to 1991 and ending up in my old house in Darsait, Muscat as my younger self. So it appeared that the glasses had a sort of Quantum Leap-esque power too. Unfortunately at this point I either woke up or the dream transitioned into something else because I don’t remember what happened next.

Scumbag Steve and Y U NO guy

Scumbag Steve broke the build

Scumbag Steve broke the build

IntelliJ Idea Y U NO STOP STEALING FOCUS?

IntelliJ Idea Y U NO STOP STEALING FOCUS?

A Minecraft Stargate

I’ve been playing Minecraft for a while now. It doesn’t look like much at all, but it’s a really fun game. I love the fact that you can build whatever you want. It’s like legos, really. Anyway, I built a Stargate in Minecraft. I originally wanted to use the portal blocks, but if you stack two or more together, they just vanish. So I decided to make inner part of the Stargate out of glass and water. This means that you can’t walk through it, but it still looks kinda neat. I figure that I could make a wall of water if I had a trough that ran through the middle. But this would mean that you would fall into the trough every time you stepped through the Stargate. There might be other ways… I’ll see if I can figure it out. I used lightstone for the chevrons. The gate is bigger than it would be normally, but that was the only way I could make a circle that looked decent.

This is with the default texture-pack in Minecraft. It would probably look better with a better texture-pack.

A Stargate in Minecraft

A Stargate in Minecraft

A Stargate in Minecraft

A Stargate in Minecraft

A Stargate in Minecraft

A Stargate in Minecraft

I’ll try to build a DHD next. Probably won’t be able to make it look as nice as the original, though.

UPDATE

Here are some better pictures. I’m using the Minecraft Enhanced Texture Pack 256×256. I also noticed that I had placed one of the lightstones in the wrong place. I fixed that.

A stargate in Minecraft

A stargate in Minecraft

A stargate in Minecraft

A stargate in Minecraft

Here is the world file (it’s a zip) if you want to check it out. It’s from my multiplayer server and so there are a bunch of other creations on there, that my friends made.

Six-man football releases new album

Alternative indie-band Six-man football has released their latest album titled … you can get silly again.

When asked about why the band has only four members (a vocalist, lead guitarist, bassist, and drummer) they replied:

We realized that only hipsters listen to indie bands until they get popular. Also, hipsters like anything that appears “ironic”. Hence, we only have four members and we also dress in baseball uniforms. Due to this ostentatious display of irony, we expect that we will have a lot of hipster fans until word of our existence spreads to the normal population. This way, we expect to slowly, but surely, grow our fan-base.

... you can get silly again

Six-man football: ...you can get silly again

This is fake. You can make your own album cover by following these instructions:

  1. Get a random article from wikipedia. The title of this article is the name of your band.
  2. Get the last four or five words, or the very last random quote on quotationspage.com.
  3. Get the third picture on explore the last seven days from Flickr. This picture will be your album cover.
  4. Use Photoshop, gimp, or pixlr.com to create your album cover.

SETI Dog

Ham as SETI Dog

SETI Dog: Listens for signals from space

Note: This is Ham, my sister’s tri-color Beagle. He recently had an allergy to his collar and so my sister put the dog cone on him so that he wouldn’t scratch at his neck all the time. She also took pictures. This particular one made me laugh and so I made a poster out of it.

DirecTV are a bunch of douchebags

So I went to cancel my DirectTV account today and discovered how difficult it was to do that. First the guy tried to get me on some other plan that was supposedly cheaper. Finally he said that there was a $220 cancellation fee because I apparently had a 24-month contract. I went on DirecTV’s website and supposedly, they do that to offset the costs of their equipment. WTF? What the hell are they subsidizing over the terms of the contract? With a cellphone contract, they provider subsidizes the cost of the phone. At the end of the contract, you pretty much own the phone. What the hell do I own here? So I asked him what the lowest plan was. It was a family plan for $24.99 but since I have a DVR with HD, I would have to pay more and so the total monthly cost was about $31. I told him I wanted to cancel the HD and he then said that I couldn’t because then I wouldn’t have any equipment. Not only that, I can’t swap out equipment. He could explain anything, and just kept mumbling “It’s in the contract… It’s in the contract”.

Finally I asked him how many months I had left on the contract. He said 11 months. As it turned out it was cheaper to pay the cancellation fee than giving those douchebags about $30, every month for the next year. So I went ahead and cancelled. I’m pretty sure I won’t ever be going with them again.

StackOverflow FAIL

I saw this question on StackOverflow today. I thought it was hilarious!

How do I hack into the government?

Funny StackOverflow question

The XBOX is a piece of shit

Thanks Microsoft. I have a console that’s barely over a year old and I already have an open tray error. I bought a new console because my old one died after I sent it back to you TWICE. It also had an open tray error. Thanks a lot Microsoft for MAKING SUCH A SHITTY CONSOLE. I have seen retarded monkeys make better console. Honestly, just what kind of shitty racket are you douchebags running? Are you guys so fucking stupid that you can’t even make a DVD drive that WORKS? Are you seriously THAT DUMB? Not only that, you want me to pay $99 to get it fixed because you retards are too damn stupid to make it right the first time? Fuck you.

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