Tuesday, 27 November 2012

08:44 – More smoke and mirrors on the Greek bailout. Essentially, the EU and ECB (but not the IMF) have agreed to take a huge loss on their outstanding loans to Greece, but not by an explicit writedown of those debts. Instead, the EU/ECB are taking that loss in the form of extended maturities, reduced interest rates, and rebates that allow the actual debt to be reduced significantly while the nominal value remains the same. In other words, Greece will default, again, but the EU/ECB can (falsely) claim not to have written off any of the debt. So they’ve kicked the can down the road yet again, ensuring that Merkel can be re-elected before any of her voters notice that they’ve been royally screwed.

The ChromeBook arrived yesterday. I fired it up briefly and then put it on the charger. I’m still considering what exactly to do with it. For the time being at least it’ll be running ChromeOS, although I haven’t ruled out installing Linux on it. One way or another, it’ll be Barbara’s personal system. She’s already using the Chrome browser on her Linux desktop, so that won’t be a problem. But she’s running standard Linux applications for other things: Korganizer/Kontact/Kmail for mail and calendar, LibreOffice for documents and spreadsheets, and so on. I’m not entirely sure that Barbara is ready to be migrated to web-based apps for those things. Or that I want to migrate her email to gmail. I mistrust the cloud, and I’m not delighted at the idea of Google seeing (and storing) everything we do.

I got snail-mail yesterday from a company called MuniServices, saying that they were working on behalf of the City of Winston-Salem to identify businesses that didn’t have a business license. So I called the city offices this morning to ask why I needed a business license for Winston-Salem since my business was buying and selling on the Internet; that I worked out of my home and had no business premises; that I didn’t meet customers at home or at their locations; that I had no business signage or vehicular traffic at my home, and so on. I said that if I needed a business license, there must be literally a thousand eBay sellers in Winston-Salem that also needed one. The woman I was speaking with jumped in to interrupt me, saying that I didn’t need a business license and that she’d send email to MuniServices to let them know that.

14:21 – UPS just showed up with six cartons of bottles and caps, something like 7,000 of the things. At first, I was going to do what I usually do, which is move the boxes off the front porch and into the library, off the foyer. But then, not being a rookie at this being-married thing, I had second thoughts. Barbara just finished putting up the Saturnalia tree and otherwise decorating the library, so she probably wouldn’t be best pleased if she came home to find the room filled with boxes. So I asked the UPS woman if she’d mind rolling the boxes down around back. She did so, and even put them in the garage for me. So now the worst thing Barbara will notice when she gets home is a large stack of boxes next to where she parks.

44 thoughts on “Tuesday, 27 November 2012”

  1. I’m considering a ChromeBook but think for the most part I will use some sort of remote control desktop and keep most of my work on my main windows box for now. I used to carry a 10 inch Toshiba netbook but is was stolen last May. My 17 inch laptop is a pain to haul around. Just too big. Looking forward to your observations about the ChromeBook.

  2. “…The woman I was speaking with jumped in to interrupt me, saying that I didn’t need a business license and that she’d send email to MuniServices to let them know that.”

    Well that must have been a pleasant surprise. Ordinarily the bastards would try to make you jump through their hoops anyway, even if for no reason at all. Goes to show two things, though: the State will continue trolling for ways to squeeze us, and there is no shortage of contractors/consultants, whatever, to do their bidding for them and dime us out.

    Greece is riding for a very hard fall, worse than what they’ve been going through recently, and so are the rest of the PIIGS. The UK and the northern tier need to cut their losses ASAP and bail outta that mess. I have no trouble seeing a bunch of people over there eventually swinging from lampposts, a la Benito and Clara. (Clara was kinda hot back in the day…)


    I see here she was straight and had a boyfriend and was later exhumed.

  3. Well, they mention a $31,000 fine, but not whether the human or the animal has to pay it. I guess if it’s consensual they’d both have to pay.

    BTW, IIRC it’s Australians rather than New Zealanders who have unusually close relationships with their sheep. Hey, McLeod, get offa my ewe. I never watched an episode of McLeod’s Daughters without thinking about that.

  4. This is an excellent chance for Chuck to immigrate to Germany. Surely they’ll lose some skilled people whose shoes he can fill.

  5. I dunno about that; Chuck said he wants to move even further south; not for him Valhalla anymore. Too dang cold.

  6. Stupid state department. More passport woes. The fee for the passport is $110.00 and a processing fee of $25.00. Will one check for $135.00 suffice. NO! You have to have two checks, one for the fee and one for processing. How stupid is that. But it gets worse.

    You need something to show you are a US citizen, the state department web site lists several items. One of those items is a passport. My wife has a passport card that is supposed to prove she is a citizen of the US. But will that work for ID for getting a passport. Apparently not. You need a birth certificate, which has no picture, instead of a passport card that has a picture. What good is a passport card if the card is not good enough, vetted by the state department themselves, to prove you are a citizen.

    The stupidity and narrow mindedness of those people is utterly amazing. Government drones without any critical, perhaps no, thinking skills. Their own website provides information that is incorrect yet they are the ones that refer you to the website for answers. Idiots, flaming fucking dildo sucking idiots.

  7. There are two possibilities which I invite all to consider here: either they are, in fact, “flaming fucking dildo sucking idiots,” or it is all quite deliberate. If the latter, why? Cui bono? If the former, again, why? Cui bono? (in having these cretins take care of matters like this?)

    I fear that in this, as in many other matters, we are become like unto the old Soviet Union, Red Chiner, Cuber, etc.; they’re getting steadily more free and conservative and open and we’re regressing somehow to what they once were. Only without the door-knocking in the wee hours and the firing squads. So fah.

  8. As Jaime Fox said, “Thank God. And our Lord and Savior Barack Obama.” If you don’t give penance, your papers will be revoked. By the flaming fucking dildo sucking idiots. Oh, yeah, and your a raaaaaaaacist!

  9. Well, if we are of the Caucasian Persuasion, we are de facto racists anyway, goes without saying. And being male, we are fascist patriarchs and undoubtedly misogynist sexists. If we believe that Western Christian civilization is the highest expression thus far of humanity’s rise from the primeval muck, then we are triumphalists.

    Got all that?

  10. “So I asked the UPS woman if she’d mind rolling the boxes down around back.”

    Next time you get a package from USPS, ask them to take it around back and put it in your garage.

  11. The trick is to give those people every ounce of respect due them, which is to say none. Over the years, I’ve had some variant of the following conversation many times when someone was introduced to me as “doctor”.

    Me: Oh, you’re an MD?
    Them: No…
    Me: A Ph.D. in science, then?
    Them: Uh, no …
    Me: Then how do you have the nerve to call yourself “doctor”?

    I figure I have more right to the title than they do. At least the doctorate I bought on the Internet is in a real discipline.

    The right way to treat a naked emperor is to ridicule his lack of clothing. Ridicule also the universities that grant such garbage doctorates in non-disciplines and employ people who hold them. Ridicule them at every opportunity, until they’re ashamed to claim something they have no right to.

    My favorites, incidentally, are the “doctors” of theology, closely followed by the “doctors” of education.

  12. “BTW, IIRC it’s Australians rather than New Zealanders who have unusually close relationships with their sheep.”

    Nah, we kill sheep, cook them and eat them. The New Zealanders do too, after they’ve had a bit of sport with them. That’s why the term “virgin lamb” is an oxymoron in NZ, and Aussies visiting the place won’t heat sheep meat. I’ve no information that Kiwis screw cows, chickens or pigs, so we’ll usually eat them when visiting NZ.

  13. we kill sheep

    In the US, sheep make up the second-largest block of voters, surpassed only by a coalition of thieves, looters, and both-trotters-in-the-trough pigs.

  14. My favorites, incidentally, are the “doctors” of theology, closely followed by the “doctors” of education.

    Worse than chiropractors.

  15. Germany keeps changing their rules on who they want and who they will call German. A good friend only 8 years younger than me was born in Germany of a US military father and German mother. The rules at the time was if your father was German and mother not, you were German; if your mother was German and father not, you were—in his case—solely American. When he was in 7th grade, they returned to the US and he had an American upbringing, graduating from a university in Illinois. Let’s see, this would have been in the late 70’s—Carter era. Upon graduation he could not find a job (typical in the Carter era). So he went to visit his aunt in Germany and immediately got a job there, which he still has. His parents moved back to Germany. Although he has tried several times, they will not give him German citizenship. So, in a few years, he will retire to the US (his own wish, as he could stay if he wanted).

    Had we moved to Germany 10 years earlier, we could have applied for German citizenship. At that time, they had a policy of wanting to repatriate those who left for America and would grant citizenship to anybody who could prove a parent, grandparent, or great grandparent was born in Germany. Both Jeri and I would have been qualified, as ALL of our great grandfathers came from Germany, and we had the birth certificates to prove it. But by the time circumstances took us to Germany, they had withdrawn that offer.

    Fifteen years of working in Germany qualifies you for their version of Social Security. I was only 6 years away from making that, and I could stay as a non-citizen if I had qualified for that benefit. But I would have to start all over if I returned, because those must be 15 consecutive years. They do keep pretty good records on you. When I applied for the certificate to leave residency in Germany, they were shocked—“You only have 6 years to go to qualify for Sozialversicherungsleistungen!”

    “Yeah, I know but in 2 months I will not be able to pay my bills.” With that explanation, they understood perfectly. Then the gal in charge of that office piped up, “Aren’t you the guy who goes barefoot everywhere?”

    “Right,” says I, lifting a leg so she could see, as she was behind a counter.

    “I see you every day at the train station,” says she.

    “Well, you won’t be seeing me there anymore after tomorrow. Leb wohl (goodbye forever).”

  16. As far as going south—south of Spain, Majorca, south of France, southern Italy on the Mediterranean all qualify.

  17. I still can’t get over the barefoot thing. That’d kill my feet, make them look filthy and get me thrown out of places.

  18. One of my sons goes barefoot a lot. Granted, only in dry weather, but his feet don’t look particularly dirty.

    I’m not sure why people find it objectionable? If I walk in from outside wearing shoes, I am going to track a certain amount of dirt in. If I walk in from outside barefoot, the same thing will happen. What’s the difference?

    I can imagine an argument about spreading foot fungus, but I think it would be wrong. Going barefoot is probably the best way their is to avoid every getting one, because your feet are rarely damp, and hence don’t provide much opportunity for a fungus to start.

  19. Brad, you’re utterly correct on dirt and disease or lack thereof on bare feet. Bare feet are generally healthier and less stinky than always-shod feet. The prejudice against bare feet in the US, as with so many things in the US, is based on no science or logic at all.

    Miles_Teg, going barefoot on natural surfaces is no harder on your feet than going shod. Hard, flat surfaces like paved roads and stone floors will damage your feet if you’re not careful. The main trick is to walk differently: instead of slamming your heel down and rolling forward onto the ball of your foot as you stride, come down on the ball of your foot and optionally lower your heel. You have to work your way up to it because you need to build the muscles in your feet as well as develop some calluses.

  20. Okay, I’m prejudiced. I just don’t like the idea. And the only people I see going barefoot here is derros. Not saying that our esteemed Tiny Town correspondent is, it’s just what I see here.

  21. Mrs. OFD and Princess go barefoot all the time and can apparently walk across broken glass and burning coals no problemo. OFD himself goes shod except when asleep and believes that civilized people do likewise. He notes also that the Mrs is 100% Celtic and her feet/toes are squared off while his own 100% Anglo-Saxon feet come to a point and can pick things up. Apparently someone had to manage the shoe supply for UK and Irish armed forces during the Good War and noticed how hard it was to fit shoes to Irish feet; they found that Irish and Anglo feet are quite different and after the war anthropologists digging in 1,500-year-old Anglo-Saxon boneyards found the proof thereby.

  22. My toes are prehensile, too. It drives many people up a wall when I pick things up or write with my feet. (To be sure, the “handwriting” isn’t very good, but it’s legible. And it’s not much worse than either sons’ handwriting.)

  23. Actually, there are only a few different shapes to feet. I read a dissertation on this by a South American doctor, but forget most of what he said. All I remember is that one is referred to medically as “peasants feet”.

    I don’t want to spend too much time on this, because there is a lot of prejudice here on this board against bare feet, but Germans—and especially doctors there—believe that it is much healthier to walk barefoot than in shoes. My own doctor wanted to do observations of my feet occasionally, when I was in to visit him. He inspected them pretty closely, spending several minutes doing so. From my own experience, it takes somebody my age about 2 years to truly adjust to going barefoot everywhere possible—and that includes hikes through the woods (very easy, actually); about 6 weeks or so to be able to cope with everyday sidewalk use. Eventually, you get to the point where your soles will actually generate keratin fairly quickly—even while you are walking,—to deal with more rugged terrain.

    I walk much differently now than with shoes, and wearing shoes makes it quite noticeable how much energy is devoted to a “plodding” walk that shoes require. Barefoot is light and easy; shoe-wearing easily requires many times the energy needed to walk barefoot. Lots of stairs at train stops in Berlin, and I used to get winded going up the particularly long stretch at the Warschauer S-Bahn stop. Without shoes, I could literally run up those stairs and hardly notice the effect on my breathing. It is exhilarating to do that, actually.

    I got questions, but never a criticism about going barefoot in Berlin. Here in the US, I get nothing but criticisms and no questions. I repeat my own oft-stated censure here, that Americans do not realize how intolerant they are in all aspects of life, compared to other parts of the world—especially Europe. Puritan and Calvinistic as the US is, going barefoot is tantamount to opening your pants and showing your genitals. Although putting a thin strip of covering over your sole, called a flip-flop, COMPLETELY removes that objection—even though it covers the sole only for exactly the same duration of your stride as going barefoot. Covering the sole also removes all the physical and medical advantages of going barefoot, because the sole MUST be in complete contact with the ground, in order for the benefits to flow.

    This is not just my opinion. For the last half-dozen years, the sports ortho arena in the US has been doing intensive studies of the mechanics of walking and running in various shoe designs, including barefoot. It is a repeatable fact that the impact of every step is multiplied 10 to 15 times by wearing shoes, as opposed to engaging in the same activity barefoot. For runners, this has a profound meaning. Many who had to give up running because of bone and joint problems caused by the impact that their bodies could not handle, are now running again, this time barefoot, with no further injuries to themselves.

  24. With all the acorns that our oak trees are dropping right now, it would interesting to see you walk barefoot around here. The wife and I walk 2.5 miles five nights per week on our neighborhood sidewalks. It is crunch, crunch, crunch, all the way.

  25. Lynn, I can walk barefoot on crushed stone, pebble fill (dirt with a lot of marble-to-golfball-sized rocks), thistles, hot beach sand, and other hostile terrain. There are limits to what my feet can take, of course, but I doubt acorns would be as bad as legos on a wood floor.

    Chuck, I think most of the objections are coming from Miles_Teg. Frankly, do we care what he says about bare feet? I’m pretty sure the only reason he’s not a sheep-humper is because his clod-hopper footware slows him down too much.

    Miles_Teg: Love you, too! Hugs and kisses from the barefoot part of the US!

  26. OFD don’t give a blind rat’s ass if other folks wanna go barefoot; he is a civilized mofo and skeered of used syringes, tampons, excrement from whatever species, deceased species, rusty nails, etc., etc. And if he loses his hands, he can always use his feet to type and turn on lights and pull the shades down.

    “…Americans do not realize how intolerant they are in all aspects of life, compared to other parts of the world—especially Europe. Puritan and Calvinistic as the US is…”

    Yes, I know. My ancestors were Calvinist Pilgrims and Puritans before they became even more schismatic and got into the Society of Friends. I agree. Feminism is a strong offshoot of this, by the way; see Harold Bloom on that.

    “…going barefoot is tantamount to opening your pants and showing your genitals.”

    But you lost me there; not quite. People walking around barefoot are simply uncivilized brutes; people who open their trousers and exhibit their genitals are fucking perverts.

  27. Chuck the Hobbit wrote:

    “Although putting a thin strip of covering over your sole, called a flip-flop…”

    Wearing them outside for long makes my feet dirty and they’re not comfortable for long distances.

    And in Australia they’re often called “thongs”. I was talking with a couple once, and English woman who’d lived in Australia and her Scottish fiance, who’d never been here. I made a reference to wearing thongs, Alison immediately told her fiance “not what you’re thinking of.”

  28. Interesting; we called them thongs in Maffachufetts, too, but they’re flip-flops here in Vermont.

    Speaking of Hobbits; Salon had a piece not long ago by a person, supposedly male, who thinks Hobbit feet are hot.

  29. I wish. I could use the $$.

    In Western Civilization and most Asian cultures, there is nothing that is a medical threat to bare feet, except excrement, which dismisses all the vicious poisons of our systems. Even urine is sterile, and its urea is the stuff used in a lot of body lotions (although that urea is synthesized). If you have a tetanus shot up to date, you are good to go, because we no longer have open outdoor toilets, so hookworm is no issue, because we no longer walk in other people’s excrement in the West and most of Asia. Acorns are a lot like chestnuts, and I never had trouble walking through the massive amounts of chestnuts that dropped all over Berlin.

    Actually, people who walk barefoot watch where they are walking, and thus are able to avoid most things that catch the normal shoe-wearer. There are a couple of sisters from Maine, who walked the entire Appalachian Trail barefoot (both ways). Story is somewhere on the Internet. They were not really prepared for that, and had more trouble than a seasoned barefooter would. But the only thing that really bothered them was the all-the-time involuntary looking at the path of where they were about to walk. It made for some short days, as they got tired from being so watchful.

    Touching the ground with one’s soles also gives more exposure to things that increase one’s immunity to sickness. A lot of people testify to that. The only time I get sick now, is if I catch it from a family member. Now that I am not around little kids anymore (who are the prime bringers of disease into a household), I have not been sick in years. Even in Berlin, after I started, my sicknesses were reduced from about one every other month to once a year, when everybody in the house got something the kids brought home.

  30. “… Now that I am not around little kids anymore (who are the prime bringers of disease into a household..”

    You got that right. Because they’re in biological hazard cesspools all day at skool and daycare with other kids whose parents are scum or who just don’t give a shit or take proper care. Another argument, bigtime, in my opinion, for home schooling. We caught every damn thing they brought home, and the older we get, the longer and harder it is to get rid of it.

  31. Chuck wrote:

    “Even urine is sterile… ”

    The urine of a healthy person is sterile, after the first few seconds. The first second or two may contain germs from the urethra, but even if it’s sterile I don’t like to tread in it, or all the other stuff Dave mentioned.

    The urine of an unhealthy person, and the first few seconds of a health person is not necessarily sterile.

  32. I have never been peed on in my life, nor walked in just-peed urine, ever. I suppose it might still happen one day, if I live long enough and am in the same category of odds as lottery winners. I have been spit on, though—more than once, in Germany, even while wearing shoes. Europeans spit a lot. Probably from so much smoking. People also walk faster there, and sometimes the timing of their spit crossed my path. Kind of gross, but geez, I’m not the only one who gets spit on over there.

  33. Go find a time machine and hit the dial for the late 60s and 70s at Left Coast airport terminals and watch the fun as newly returned ‘Nam vets enter.

  34. Chuck, not everyone has as good an aim as you, nor are the bathrooms here always up to the standard you take for granted. I’ll keep my shoes on thanks.

    As to spit, that’s completely gross. If I really need to spit in public I look around to make sure no one is looking, then spit in the gutter or where people are unlikely to walk.

  35. because we no longer walk in other people’s excrement in the West

    You apparently have never placed your bare feet in just expelled bovine discharge. The warm squish between the toes is not for the faint of heart. Had to do that a couple of times when the cattle were misbehaving and time was of the essence, like get them off the road now. Happened a couple of times while walking back from the swimming hole that was in the creek that ran next to the property.

    Go find a time machine and hit the dial for the late 60s and 70s at Left Coast airport terminals and watch the fun as newly returned ‘Nam vets enter.

    Roger that. I experienced that more than once. It got especially bad on a Greyhound bus that I was riding. I was taunted, called all sort of names, baby killer, etc. I shut them up when I got up and told one of the cretins that i could kill him in 13 different ways with my bare hands, 6 of them excruciatingly painful. (Yeh, I lied). He started to open his mouth and I brought my hands up toward him and he shut up. Never heard a word the rest of the trip.

    I even had one person demand to a stewardess that they be given another seat on the airline because they did not want to sit next to a murderer. The stewardess apologized and instead moved me to 1st class. I flipped they lady the finger as I was settling into my new seat. I was denied entry into a restaurant more than once, spit on more than once. It was not a fun time.

    But at one place I was eating I asked for my check and was told by my server that the meal was taken care of. She would not tell me who paid. I did pay that forward a couple of years ago when I was eating at Cracker Barrel. A military couple (married perhaps) in uniform were eating and I asked my waitress for their check and paid their bill and told the waitress to keep it quiet.

  36. Yeah, when Barbara and I are at a restaurant and see either cops or military folks having dinner, we often pick up the tab. We figure it’s the least we can do to let these folks know that what they do for all of us is appreciated. What’s interesting is that many times our waitress will tell us that the tab is already taken care of, so either other customers beat us to it or the restaurant itself is picking up the tab.

  37. The late, great actor Lee Marvin used to do that back in the day when he saw GIs in restaurants and bars, during the times that Ray and I remember all too well. And when the rest of Hollyweird, excepting maybe John (Marion) Wayne, saw nothing lower than murdering grunts, usually hopped on dope and booze, of course. Which in my case was very accurate.

    I never ran into that shit personally but knew several guys who’d had it happen to them; I got processed directly out of Travis AFB near Sacramento and both tours coming and going I never went near a commercial airport terminal.

    Welcome home, Ray.

  38. The only similar incident I remember witnessing was in the late 60’s when I was with a friend and his brother at a July 4th event. His brother had just returned from Viet Nam, and was obviously military by his still-short hair, when the rest of us guys were long-haired. Someone set off a major firecracker–a real M80 or Silver Salute–not far away, and my friend’s brother hit the dirt, which unfortunately was actually mud. There were a gaggle of punk teenage girls nearby, and they started mocking him with the baby-killer shit.

  39. I hardly ever eat in restaurants, and truckstops and dives in upstate New York are unlikely places to find soldiers in uniform, but a few years ago in an airport I bought snacks and coffees or sodas for a whole pile of enlisted soldiers traveling to the sandbox. At airport prices it was painful, but I’ll assume I could afford it better than E-4s and -5s.

  40. Ordinarily I might have fit the stereotype of a returning vet who hits the dirt when loud shit goes off close by but I soon got into cop work and firing range stuff again and into firearms, so that never really took off with me. And I’d been into firecrackers and homemade explosives since I was a kid. Baby-killer? Hah. I was a baby myself when I signed up, aged 17. Out by 21.

    As for soldiers coming back from the Sandbox or the Suck, I’ve seen a few passing through down at the VA hospital in White River Junction; the very familiar long-range hollow stare, these guys are fucked up. What’s funny, though, is even the ones in wheelchairs scurry to get outta my way, dunno why. I am all over trying to help them but they clear a path for me for some reason. Anyway, the med and psych folks down there are the greatest, and saved my sorry ass at least once.

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