WTF

I thought that with the end of Campaign 2012, we were to be given a break from tales of  unbelievable lunacy. Apparently that is not the case.

On January 3rd, The Washington Post carried a story about a boy being suspended from school for a day. Now, there’s nothing new about a boy – or girl – being suspended from school; it happens all the time. What caught my attention was the age of the “perp” and his crime. The boy was six years old. There’s a number of things that will get a six year-old tossed such as bringing his mother’s underwear to class for show and tell, flipping off his teacher or passing around the interesting magazine he found at the bottom of Daddy’s sock drawer. Sadly, none of those infractions took place.

Instead, the boy was shown the door for the outrageous crime of – mothers, please avert your eyes – pointing his finger like a gun and saying “Pow”. The boy’s walking papers said that this was a threat to shoot another student. Oh, the humanity! I must have been the Al Capone of DuPont Elementary school as I did this kind of thing around once a day back then. Probably the only reason that I – and every other boy in Mrs. Merner’s class – was not hauled in for questioning is that back in those days, adults had more important things to worry about. Things like impending nuclear annihilation. Those duck-and-cover drills apparently had a much higher priority.

There has always been a certain degree of dumbness amongst school administrators but those in Montgomery  County, MD deserve their own room in Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum. The question is, “Who ratted the boy out?” Was it “Big Brother”? Did the student who was “threatened” flee in terror to the principal’s office? Or was it a teacher? I do know that in 1958, Mrs. Merner would have said something to the effect of “Howard, we don’t do that in class.”

The boy’s parents are – and rightfully so – seeking to have this heinous crime erased from the kid’s permanent record which, as we all know, follows you for the rest of your life. I sincerely hope that the parents have retained competent  legal counsel as there is obviously more than one person in the Montgomery County school system who would really benefit from unemployment right about now. Thankfully, they didn’t confiscate the “weapon”.

Since things are slow for me at the moment, I magnanimously offer my services to the Montgomery County school system. I may not have an education degree but I certainly more than make up for it in the common sense dept.

Sources:

Last week, a friend of mine who happens to be an author pointed me to a review of her book. I will not name the author, reviewer or title of the book but I will say that the review was more of a bashing than an actual review. The person had obtained an ARC – Advance Review Copy – of the book and after reading less than 10% of it, decided that the book was terrible and proceeded to write a scathing hatchet-job without having read the rest of the book. Among the litany of apparent faults was the complaint that the story was formulaic.

OK. There is no requirement that says you have to like a book to some degree in order to write a review and there are professional book, movie, TV, food, etc. critics who seem to take an extraordinary delight in raking the object of their derision over the coals. However, it seems less than fair to only read 7% of a novel and then trash the book in its entirety. Perhaps the reviewer was having a bad day. One should always strive to get all of the facts and then jump to conclusions. Criticism for the sake of criticism is not constructive.

Then there’s the charge of being formulaic. Since there are only ten or twelve original stories in the world, just about every novel is going to be formulaic in some way or other. I’m working on a novel which will not be a romance story per se but will definitely have a strong romantic element to it. Here’s the basic plot:

  • Boy meets girl
  • Girl is angry at boy for something she did
  • Girl discovers she has feelings for boy
  • Boy confesses his feelings for girl
  • Boy and girl get married
  • The End

That outline encompasses about half of the romantic novels out there so in the strictest sense, they are all formulaic. It is not so much that a story follows a formula but it is what the author does with the formula that matters; Much in the same way that two chefs can prepare the same dish but each comes out tasting differently.

All of this makes me consider my own reviews. Yes, I have written a few negative reviews but none of them involved the outright hatchet-job described above. In all of them, the plot premise was good but the story failed in the execution of the plot. Some may complain that I’m little more than a cheerleader for authors since 95% of my reviews on this site awarded four or five Pipes (Stars) to the novels. My response is that I’ve decided that life is too short for me to spend much time writing bad reviews. If I don’t like a book – and there have been a fair number of them – I don’t write a review.

When reviewing Young Adult Fiction, I try to see the story through the eyes of the target audience. (I know that some say I never left high school but the truth is that I never outgrew college!) A number of the books would not be impressive in the adult world but are quite good in the eyes of Young Adults. And then, of course, there are those books – like Harry Potter – that transcend age groupings.

So, that is how I write reviews. I hope that my friend will ignore the reviewer’s hatchet job and continue telling her stories. Frankly, I can’t wait to read the next installment.

This has to be seen to be believed. There  were two wedding parties at the same hotel. One had an open bar and one had a cash bar. Apparently, people from the “cash bar” party tried to cash in on the other party’s open bar and that’s when the fight broke out.

First, the news story:

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Now, the raw iPhone footage:

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Just when you’d gotten used to the idea of having your vacation home trashed by Hurricane Bruce, word comes that The Weather Channel will start giving names to winter storms this coming season. The list of names for the coming winter has a Greco-Roman theme to them though Dr. Data feels that a Norse theme might be more appropriate. Read the story and decide for yourself.

A tip o’ the chapeau goes to Dr. Data’s super sibling brother for bringing this to his attention. Thanx Jim!

You have to have been hibernating or living in a time-warp  not to have heard the news; There’s been another mass shooting and it came a day before the 1-year anniversary of the horror in Norway. I am only going to say two things about the event itself:

  1. I grieve for those killed and wounded; Especially the two guys that died trying to protect the lives of their wife/girlfriend.
  2. Hanging’s too good for him!

What I am going to rant about today is what has transpired in the wake of Aurora, Colorado.

To put everything in perspective, let’s go 13 years back in time. Right next door to Aurora is Columbine. In 1999, two wankers – with a capital “W” – managed to kill 13 people and injure – in one way or another – 24 more. They subsequently committed suicide. In response to the horror, J.C. Penney made a bold move by banning the sale of all merchandise related to Comedy Central’s show, South Park.

It didn’t work because in 2007,  Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 people and injured 17 others. Although Cho was clearly off his nut, he was nonetheless a legal gun-owner. As a response to the massacre, the calls – both loud and numerous – came for an end to bans of firearms from college campuses. The theory was that if enough students had been packing heat, Cho would have been despatched post-haste. There was no estimate of how many students would have been killed or wounded by the crossfire. To bolster their argument, they cited the fact that the University of Utah allows students to carry weapons on campus. I cannot speak to that environment but I can attest to the damage inflicted upon South Hall at N.C. Wesleyan by drunken students. Allowing these testosterone fueled inebriates to carry firearms is unimaginable.

In 2009, Major Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people and wounded 29 others. I don’t remember anyone calling for a ban of firearms from military bases but there were the usual post 9-11 demands that Muslims should be deported or at least banned from military service.

Now, in 2012, we have 12 dead and 58 wounded in Aurora, Colorado. In the wake of the movie theatre massacre, some theatres and possibly theater chains have banned people from wearing costumes to movies. In response to published accounts that AMC was one of the chains instituting the ban, the management put forth that they were only banning weapons; both real and fake. We can all relax now that light-sabres won’t be allowed on the premises.

I’m not sure why anyone would want to wear a costume to a movie but the fact is, the S-F-B who perpetrated the Aurora shooting wasn’t in costume save for his joker-esque red hair. Does that mean we should ban all gingers for safety’s sake? There have also been calls for metal detectors at movie theatres. You won’t have to worry about them buzzing due to the change in your pocket because – given the price of tickets & popcorn nowadays – you won’t have any. Neither of these proposed bans would have worked in this case because the S-F-B walked in like any other fan of the Caped Crusader and then stepped out through the emergency exit to lock & load and put his gear on.

A Texas Congressman opined that the problem was that there were not enough guns in the theatre and if the movie-goers had come heavy the gunman would have quickly gunned down. In an interview, Michael Bloomberg – mayor of the New York Nanny State – said that the congressmen’s idea was remarkably stupid; One of the few times I’ve ever agreed with hizzoner.

So what do we do at this point? Gun bans? Norway has extremely strict gun laws & yet the “perp” was able to obtain the necessary weapons to do the job. In all the cases I’ve cited, the killer or killers suffered from emotional or mental instability to some degree. Locking up all people exhibiting signs of mental instability would have the knock-on effect of incarcerating most political candidates; No necessarily a bad thing considering Michele Bachman.

Whatever the solution, it definitely does not involve banning costumes from movie theatres. The solution will, however, call for common sense; A commodity in short supply nowadays.

 

Greetings from McDonald’s!

A line of powerful storms with gusts over 45 mph. swept thru Charlottesville Fri. night and left The Parsonage in the dark. The circuit we’re on has lines down in 4 different places in 1 mile. Carrsbrook Drive is always the last place to have electric power restored after any kind of storm. (All it takes is for the wind to blow a bit!) At this point, I’m hoping that we have power back by next weekend!

I sent Judi to her mother’s where she can be comfortable and I’m holding down the fort whilst sweating like a pig. I’ll keep you apprised of the situation.

Compared to Colorado, this is nothing!

That’s it from McDonald’s!

Years ago when I lived in Atlanta, a most amazing thing happened. I was a Programmer/Analyst for The Harrison Company writing code in the assembly level language, NEAT/VS. (Essentially NEAT/3 for NCR’s Criterion system. Sigh . . . those were the days.) I came home from work one evening to receive not one, not two, but three different unsolicited job offers. The strange thing is that I was not actively, or even inactively, looking for a new job. I was pretty happy with my gig at Harrison and the only job I really wanted was one that would return me from exile to my native Virginia. (One did eventually come through which is why I live here in Charlottesville, now.)

I’ve been on the skids for the past 8 or 9 months and my last interview was back in October. I’ve applied for almost 100 jobs and have only gotten one or two nibbles at the most. Talk about being bummed out!

Within the past week, I’ve received three calls – again, unsolicited – from head-hunters. The first was for one that really intrigues me and the other two – while short-term contract work – would at least keep the wolf away from the door a little while longer.

There is no guarantee that I will get an offer for any of these positions but it is funny how things can sometimes turn on a dime. In 2010, I had a sudden spate of interviews before I was offered a position at SAIC. We shall see. We shall see.

You might remember that I wrote two posts on the subject that dare not speak its name -Mantyhose – back on May 2nd. Well, here’s some follow-up.

Less than 30 min. after I clicked the “Publish” button on that post, it was viewed by someone in Hungary! That country – the Hungarian language to be precise – is number 5 on my top 10 list of visitors. The  Hungarian version of Google regularly trolls this site looking for posts on the subject of – you guessed it – Mantyhose. Maybe I should ask my brother-in-law if there’s that certain “something” about Hungary.

And it’s not just Hungarians doing the searches. The term “you-know-what” regularly comes up on the list of recent search terms and is usually at or near the top of my list of popular search terms. Is there something I’m missing? The original post and it’s follow-up were intended to be a simple observation on male fashion and that – sooner or later – everything old is new again. I can say that this topic does have a strong and overwhelmingly “straight” following on the internet.

So, here’s a bit of commentary to satisfy all of those surfers out there who will beat a path to this blog:

The two posts about Mantyhose are among the all time top favourites on the FML blogsite. It should be noted here that the blog was originally intended for the fairer sex but has gained what appears to be a strong male following since 2008.

The first paragraph for that post reads “The masculinity of UK males could be under threat . . .” Now, leaving out the UK bit, let’s consider that statement. I suppose that some less secure males could find their “masculinity” under threat because of this but no doubt similar statements were made in the press when females began wearing slacks in the 1930’s. About 30 years before that momentous event , visitors to Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft  shops in East Aurora, NY were horrified when his wife Alice – wearing a split skirt – climbed on a horse and went for a ride. The times they do change and anyone today who suggests that females are un-feminine because they wear trousers is begging to be laughed at. If the Mantyhose trend continues, critics of the practice will probably suffer the same fate in the coming years.

An interesting tidbit gleaned from the survey cited in the FML post is that 44% of  the females interviewed stated that their guys preferred tights made specifically for women rather than those intended for men. I wonder if any of  the other 56% are put off by the packaging. This would make an interesting marketing study.

Finally, the following statement was made in the comments section for that particular post:

“As [Lisa,] the owner of this blog, the sex of the individual wearing the legwear is not an issue for me. Impartial is a good word to describe my views, as long as the wearer looks stylish and the article fashion related, I personally couldn’t give a fig if they are male or female.”

My next question is:  “As a blogger, what do I do?” I started this blog to discuss computing technology on the consumer and user level as well as any other topic that struck my fancy. Another of the big spikes in readership are due to my posts on Macs. Maybe I should give in, buy a Macintosh and get a great pair of  L’eggs.

We humans just love something that’s free whether it be lunch or software. Tech Republic’s 10 Things blog posted a list of 10 free-ware tools that IT professionals love. For most of my readers, a number of these freebies have no value. However, there are several that will appeal to the average Windows user and here they are:

  • NINITE – This free-ware application keeps track of other free-ware applications that you already have or would like to install and updates or installs them for you. The tool is great for use on new machines and saves you a LOT of time in getting up and running. Check it out at ninite.com.
  • EVERYTHING – The search feature in Windows 7 is a great improvement over the sucky version in Windows XP but it still could be much better. The old saw about building a better mousetrap may apply as well to Everything. It is reported to be fast and thorough. Download it at VoidTools.com.
  • LastPass – If you remember my post on Passwords earlier this week, you’ll know that keeping track of passwords can be a somewhat daunting task. This password manager is a multi-platform tool for shopping or surfing on the web. Like a lot of tools, there’s a premium version as well. Take a look at LastPass.com.
N.B. Readers should be aware that Ninite isn’t quite the same thing as implied in the TechRepublic blog. I don’t know if this is intellectual laziness or sloppy fact-checking/editing on the part of TechRepublic but it does present a WTF moment. Ninite  has a two versions that you have to pay for. The 3rd version – the free one – actually runs off of their website. On Ninite‘s home page, you are presented by a list of applications supported by Ninite. You select the ones you already have or want, click the big green “Get The Installer” button on the bottom of that page. and the website will download a custom configured installer that you can execute on your PC & does the heavy lifting. Want to add or delete something from your freeware suite? Go back to ninite.com and re-select the applications you want. This service is free and does beat paying $9.99 per year for the stand-alone version but TechRepublic should have been more up-front about this.
How well do these tools work? Dr. Data is going to give them a try in the labs at Parsonage Data Services and will give a full report in a future post. if you’re  interested in what else is available, take a look at TechRepublic’s 10 Things blog.

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