Tuesday, April 24, 2018


My greatest accomplishment in 2017 was realizing I could safely add "essential oils" to the list of terms that indicate I can safely stop listening to someone.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of an octopus containing my family.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Reading Log: Gonzo Dylanology

I'm encouraging anybody who's ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them. -Bob Dylan

 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. - I John 4:15 (NIV)

Time for another confession. Despite my credentials as a music nerd with a major in the sixties and post-doctoral research in the seventies, I was never a big fan of Bob Dylan. I'm aware of his work, and acknowledge and respect his contribution to the canon of modern music, but his stuff just never did much for me. His collaborations with George Harrison were his only works that really interested me.

Dylan's far from alone in that category. There are many "major artists" whose work hasn't held my interest beyond an overview of their catalogue. The Doors, The Rolling Stones, Elvis, Jimi Hendrix, Queen, U2, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin - I'm familiar with all of them, and have their work in my collection, but rarely listen to them for fun.

In the eighties and early nineties, I knew Dylan primarily as a source of comedy. Unfortunately, he tended to come off as the butt of the joke, not as a conscious participant. "Conscious" has more than one meaning that works in that sentence.

I was watching live, and probably taping it, when Dylan went into a fugue state while receiving a lifetime achievement award at the Grammys. Thanks to the magic of Youtube, that moment has been preserved for global posterity right here. Saturday Night Live did a great Dylan bit shortly thereafter, with Dana Carvey as Dylan and Mike Myers as his interpreter, Tom Petty, but it doesn't  seem to be on Youtube and NBC's site doesn't acknowledge that a world beyond the U.S. border exists, so forget them.

In 1992, Dylan appeared on David Letterman's 10th anniversary special. This was toward the end of my seven-year streak of not missing a night of Letterman, so again I was watching, and probably taping. It was hilarious. Paul Shaffer had assembled an amazing band that included Steve Vai, Doc Severinsen, Carole King, and Mavis Staples among its dignitaries. Dylan came onstage, and this huge rock orchestra started into Like A Rolling Stone (a song I probably didn't know at the time). The band was rocking and grooving as Dylan stepped up to the mike and... proceeded to mumble incoherently for a few minutes. He just made vaguely rhythmic nasal sounds, occasionally punctuated by "DIDEN YEWWWW" or "HAWDZIT FEEL" (my best guesses, based on phonetics). Youtube to the rescue once again - you can watch it here.

I recently read Paul Shaffer's 2009 memoir, We'll Be Here For the Rest of Our Lives (a candidate for a future Reading Log entry). He confirms that Dylan was disengaged and uninterested, sometime not bothering to sing at all during rehearsals. Shaffer was just grateful that Dylan came through for the actual show, although he calls the performance "a more than decent 70 percent."

In recent years I decided to check out Dylan's explicitly Christian albums, from his "born again" phase. Until then I only knew of this work from the mocking of critics, notably "Serve Yourself", John Lennon's childish response to "Gotta Serve Somebody". I listened to the three albums, Slow Train Coming, Saved, and Shot of Love. The only songs that really stuck with me as a whole were Solid Rock and In The Garden, and the latter was significantly improved in the live version found on the bootleg album Rock Solid, which I also added to my collection. I talked about hearing these albums a bit way back in this entry, over eight years ago. Not a bad followup turnaround time by my standards. (I started working on this article in 2014.)

Dylan was far more explicit about his newfound faith than I had expected. These albums weren't the least bit subtle. He was preaching a message of fire and brimstone, warning listeners that only Jesus saves. As is often the case for me and Christian music, although I didn't care for the music, I loved a lot of the lyrics. Saved, the second album, struck me as much more strident than the first. Jody Beth Rosen described Saved well: "It’s as dogmatic as they come, and it’s Jesus-fearing, and unlike other Dylan records its prediction of the apocalypse cannot be interpreted as anything other than what it is."

Dylan's Christian walk seemed to have followed a path similar to my own. Even after surrendering to Christ I was briefly a weak universalist, followed by a season of legalism before settling into a more relaxed attitude that I would have earlier seen as complacency.

This music made me want to know more about Dylan's personal story. I wanted to learn how God lit this fire inside him. I wanted to hear his testimony. Unfortunately, it was at this point that I learned that Dylan is a notoriously closed book to interviewers and would-be biographers. A detailed account of his spiritual journey would not be easily forthcoming. He granted only a few interviews that touched on the subject, many of which are linked on Dylan Devotional.

I was discussing this with a co-worker who's a far bigger Dylan fan than me. He loaned me a couple of Dylan books from his extensive library, hoping they'd help satiate my interest, as well as a copy of Infidels, which my friend considers something of a coda or postscript to Dylan's overt born-again period.

Thus, we come at last to the reason why this entry is a Reading Log. However, it's an unusual one in that I usually actually finish a book before writing about it.

The borrowed books - which, as is my wont, I've kept for way too long - are Sam Shepard's 1977 Rolling Thunder Logbook and Robert Shelton's 1986 No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan.  The former was intended to give me insight into Dylan's mid-seventies life, and the later is a straightforward biography.

I think I read most of the Rolling Thunder Logbook, maybe even all of it, but I didn't care for most of it. It's written in the "gonzo journalism" style that Hunter S. Thompson popularized and his colleagues at Rolling Stone ran with. The style is marked by being disjointed and full of pretentious literary allusions, many of which consist solely of mentioning the names of better writers. Here's an arbitrarily chosen sample passage - this is a complete section / chapter / piece entitled "Hotel Crypt":

It's not long before the nucleus of us takes its shape. Who's who in the
galaxy of things. A small band with all the implications of the Big One. The world we slide through like it's never there. But now it seems reversed. Like we're not there and all around us life is going on about
its business. Waitress serves and goes back home. Back to REAL LIFE.
Back to MOM and DAD or KIDS and HUSBAND or both or all. And us sitting. Us sit eating crab legs in a hotel crypt.
This is typical of the book. Lots of simple declarative sentences, often lacking subject, predicate, or both. If 184 pages of this appeals to you, then I can unreservedly recommend this book. I might also recommend any of several twelve-step programs. This is not to say that the book is entirely without charm.  I particularly enjoyed the account of Dylan deciding partway through a play that he found the content offensive and shouting all the way out of the theatre, thoroughly disrupting the proceedings.

Shelton's book is a traditionally structured biography. I've read hundreds of similar books about dozens of different artists (I probably have 50 biographies of various Beatles alone), but had never invested the time in Dylan to have read one of his. And I still haven't, really. At some point it occurred to me that just because I enjoy someone's work doesn't imply that I should care where they went to elementary school, how many siblings they had, or when they lost their virginity. That's when I stopped reading most biographies. Not all, by any means, but these days I generally need to have some particular interest in the subject or some time to kill to bother reading any sections that could be headed "The Early Years."

I checked the index for Beatles mentions and skimmed a few passages, but in Dylan's case I'm really only interested in the story of his faith. I want to know how it grew to the point where he felt the need to express it so boldly, and more importantly why he stopped. Maybe it's as simple as Larry Norman's account: the audience didn't like it and told him to stop.

Unfortunately, Shelton's book stops short of the period in Dylan's life that interests me. Despite being published in 1986, Shelton's narrative disappointingly ends in 1977. An epilogue mentions only that Dylan had converted to Christianity, offering no further insight.

Perhaps tired of being constantly on the defensive, Dylan was reluctant to discuss his faith. He spent much of a 1984 Rolling Stone interview declining to explain his beliefs.

Dylan upset some moral conservatives in that interview by refusing to condemn abortion, dismissing it as "not an issue". As both an Evangelical Christian and an ardent pro-lifer (two separate matters, despite popular perception; my opposition to abortion is not primarily a matter of religious belief, and predates my conversion to Christianity), I think I get what (I hope) he meant. In a very real sense, abortion is not a root problem, just as theft or lying are not root problems. Sin is the root problem. In that light, theft, lying, and abortion are only symptoms.

The interesting question for me is where Dylan's faith journey wound up. That same Rolling Stone interview mentions that he was by then affiliated with an "ultra-orthodox Jewish sect", implying that he no longer held the New Testament in such lofty regard, and that his son had a bar mitzvah. Paul Shaffer's book seems to support this, noting that he's had to schedule some collaborations with Dylan around the Sabbath. Dylan may have reverted to straightforward Judaism, or adopted a Messianic Jewish faith.

The Infidels album offers few clues. It contains several songs touching on Biblical themes, but no Saved-style overt declarations. Neighbourhood Bully and Man of Peace seem to be about Israel and the Anti-Christ, respectively, but beyond being in favour of the former and opposed to the latter contain no particular insights into the specifics of Dylan's beliefs. I and I, personal favourite track on the album, has been seen as an allegory for Israel. Union Sundown is a surprisingly right-wing statement for someone in show business, but despite their frequent conflation, conservative politics and evangelical beliefs don't necessarily move in lockstep.

Muddying the waters, if Dylan had indeed renounced Christianity, it would be reasonable to expect him to have abandoned the explicitly evangelical songs he wrote and recorded on the "born again trilogy". However, the index of tracks performed live on Dylan's own site show that he continued to feature his gospel material in concert for many years afterward.

For a few years Dylan hosted a radio show called Theme Time Radio Hour. In 2006 he did an episode on the theme of the Bible. Lots of great old gospel blues. Interestingly, when he was naming books of the Bible early in the episode during the explanation of the theme, he included apocryphal / deuterocanonical books (e.g., Maccabees) in the list.

That program, the only episode of Theme Time Radio Hour I've ever heard, showed me a side of Dylan I'd never really considered. I'd long thought of Dylan as somewhat foggy and addled, possibly due to the cumulative effects of marijuana use. However, in that show I heard something new in him: a sense of humour. Now I think Dylan is well aware of his image as a doddering space cadet and is probably quite amused by it. He's willing to play up that image to maintain both a mystique (how can someone that burned out write such insightful songs?) and a distance from his audience, which has probably been necessary for him to maintain anything resembling a private life. Similarly, since getting past the stage of zeal of the recently converted, Dylan is probably content to let people speculate about his religious beliefs. It may even entertain him.

One interesting note - believers generally want to pass our faith on to our children. Although I've never head any explicit declarations of belief from Jakob Dylan, at least two Wallflowers songs touch on religious subjects: "Hospital for Sinners" and "First One in the Car", both from the 2012 album Glad All Over.

"Hospital for Sinners" is about the oft-forgotten truth that a church is "a hospital for sinners - ain't no museum of saints." It offers a vague but positive assessment of churches, concluding that "you ought to be in one." Referring to "statues and apostles, and other Godly things" implies that the churches described aren't all necessarily Protestant, but it certainly doesn't sound like a synagogue either.

The theology of "First One in the Car" is even less definite, but it's clear that the speaker is concerned with spirituality, even if that concern is only a nagging sense that prayer is sometimes appropriate ("I ain't superstitious, but it's making me nervous - now shouldn't we at least say something first?"). The song's refrain, however, actually contains a perfectly good prayer: "May God be the first one in the car, may He be the last one out of ours." The speaker is embarking on a new chapter in life, the nature of which is hinted at but not spelled out. Asking for God's presence and guidance in that sort of situation is to be expected from people of most faiths. I've heard a lot of prayers over the years that included variations of "Lord, please be with us as we..."

The bottom line regarding Bob Dylan's current religious beliefs is that we don't really know, presumably because he doesn't want us to. And that's fine. It's not my job or any other mortal's to judge the state of his soul. I certainly hope that he's got a saving faith in Jesus Christ, in keeping with Paul's statement about Christian conversion during his trial before King Agrippa: "I pray God that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am" (Acts 26:29, NIV). Whether he does or not, some of the music he created from 1979 to 1981 has no doubt blessed and encouraged many believers all over the world.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of something that happened in my kitchen.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Some Achievements Are Their Own Reward

Congratulations are in order to the great state of Mississippi, for finding a way to keep Bryan Adams out!

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of a shadow on the grass.

Saturday, July 11, 2015


Over a year. Huh. I thought I'd last posted this spring, not a year-and-change ago.

I've been playing a lot of Magic. My wife and son both play now, and we have friends over for Commander many Sunday afternoons. Other Sundays we have friends over for Last Night On Earth or Game of Thrones: The Board Game.  I've still never read a page of a GoT book, nor seen a minute of the show, and probably never will (I'm an outcast even among nerds), but the game is fun.

There's a gaming store in my town now, so we all play Friday Night Magic. I've also gotten to draft for my first (and second) time ever, and enjoyed it enough that I can foresee it becoming a real money sink, especially with the whole family participating.

My older PC, Levi, had become my son's over the last couple of years. Sadly, Levi suffered a power supply failure. The age of his other parts didn't make him a good candidate for a transplant, so we sent him away to live on a big farm where he's got lots of room to run and play with all the other computers. At least that's what I told my son.

Actually, Levi got hollowed out like a pumpkin in autumn and I bought the parts to build my most powerful PC yet: Intel i5 4590 quad-core processor, 12 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD. Video and sound integrated on the motherboard, which includes HDMI out, because my needs in those areas are modest. A 3 TB storage drive will be added as soon as I finish setting up the SSD to dual-boot Windows 7 and KXStudio. I hate to even include Windows, but it's still an occasionally necessary evil.

This has implications for my primary PC, Judah. The new arrival, to be dubbed Dan when construction is complete, will bump Judah to being my son's computer. Since Judah's been my filesharing machine for a few years now, I'm going to lose a lot of share ratio history when I start over. That's why I'm posting this update on my current ratios. Someday my grandchildren may read this and understand why I accomplished so little with my life. Anything with the same name as one of my old   share ratio posts is the same torrent, still seeding away. This is probably the end of the road for my seeding these, unless I get really ambitous about transferring data to Dan. Seems unlikely.

The Ken Ham / Bill Nye Creationism Debate   191.91 (!)(I guess some people want a copy for offline viewing.)
A symphonic orchestra sample / soundfont collection   95.87
World English Bible Audio Bible   86.49
AVLinux 6.01b                           62.40
Ubuntu Studio 13.04                62.21
Gentoo Live 20121221              29.14
AVLinux 6.04                           24.99
Paul McCartney 2013 concert   5.57
Deep Purple 2012 concert         4.79
Ubuntu Studio 14.04                 3.44
Ultimate Boot CD 5.33               1.47
Paul McCartney 2002 Concert DVD  0.94

Maybe I'll be back in less than a year this time. Ooh, cliffhanger ending!

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of my shoes on a hotel room floor. No, I don't know how colour balancing works, why do you ask?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Arizona Governor Vetoes Anti-Slavery Law

Yes, opponents of the proposed law that just got vetoed in Arizona claim it's all about civil rights. It would have protected the rights of business owners to refuse to engage in transactions that they found morally offensive on the grounds of objecting to homosexuality. A photographer could have refused to photograph a gay wedding, or a baker could have refused to bake a cake with icing pictures of two grooms, or a printer could have refused to print flyers advertising a pride rally.

Now they can't. There have already been test cases where homosexual couples wanted to force businesses to provide services at their "weddings". Now, in the state of Arizona, there is no question. If a homosexual wants a business to provide a service, they must.

Never mind that any successful service business occasionally turns away prospective clients for any number of reasons. Never mind the concept of freedom of association. If you own a business in Arizona and a homosexual says "jump", you ask, "how high?" or spend your foreseeable future in court, where you are now guaranteed to lose.

If a business owner cannot refuse to serve a client, that business owner is not free. You could even say they are no longer the owner. They are a mere servant of the state and their new homosexual masters.

This is slavery.

There is one depressingly amusing upside to this debate. All the commentary on this law assumes that religion is the only reason one might object to "alternative" sexual lifestyles. I often see the same view expressed in abortion discussions: if you're opposed to abortion, it must be on religious grounds. The idea that one might have moral convictions that are not grounded in religion is anathema to pro-gay and pro-abortion sides.

Yet, atheists (who share a large Venn diagram space with the pro-gay and pro-abortionist groups) act deeply offended when theists explain that without an objective external source for morality - i.e., God - what you call your morality is essentially a cluster of personal preferences that can't really be logically justified.

So, they claim that they can have morality without religion. But when someone raises a moral objection to something they like, it's assumed that religion is the only possible reason for doing so.

In other words, religion isn't necessary for morality when they don't want it to be, but it is when they do.

It's refreshing to see this hypocrisy on such blatant display. I just wish more people could see it.

"Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe." - 2 Corinthians 4:4 (NLT)

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of a tower my son built from Lego (R) brand building bricks, as the lawyers insist on calling them. Note Spider-Man bursting forth from the microwave.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Old Man Canada & Infant Israel

Conservatives often make the communications mistake of overestimating the intelligence of their audience. Not necessarily the audience that's actually in the room with them, but the wider audience that's only going to hear the sound bites that the media feeds them.

As I explained a long time ago in a blog post not so very far away, a basic truth in public communication is that when writing, whether for publication or verbal presentation, you need to assume that your audience is stupid and mean. Stupid, in that if anything you say can reasonably be accidentally misconstrued, they will do so. Mean, in that if anything you say can be manipulated and taken out of context to sound damaging, they will deliberately do so.

When conservatives are speaking, the media members in the audience usually provide the mean and trust the wider public to provide the stupid. The public rarely lets them down.

Consider the recent flap over Mike Huckabee supposedly saying that women can't control their libidos. He said nothing of the sort, of course, but if your information diet consisted of mainstream media sound bites, you'd be convinced otherwise. Here's what Huckabee actually said:

And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it. Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be, and women across America need to stand up and say, ‘Enough of that nonsense.’
Contrary to the gleeful soundbites and tweets, Huckabee is clearly not insulting women. He's just pointing out how Democrats do. To claim otherwise is disingenuous at best.

While researching the preceding paragraphs, I saw that the narrative has shifted somewhat. Now that the left-wing media is having trouble selling the lie about what Huckabee said, they're shifting to saying that they never tried to lie about it in the first place and conservatives are big meanies for claiming that they did. Yeesh.

Another great example of this was when Sarah Palin knew when the Boston Tea Party happened, and knew that her live audience knew it too, but "Gotcha"-playing left-wing activists journalists mistakenly assumed she must have been trying to cite the year of America's independence, because everybody (who went to journalism school) knows nothing else important happened in the 18th century. They jumped down her throat about it, insinuating she was stupid. If only we could harness ignorant hypocrisy as an energy source.

The attentive reader may notice that I'm not linking to liberal attack sites. That's not an accident. It isn't because they're hard to find or because I can't document sources, but because I'm not interesting in taking the chance of giving them more hits. I prefer to link to credible sources rebutting them. However, for this last item, which inspired this post, I haven't seen anyone else challenging it yet. I'm hoping it catches on, because I'd love to see Michael Coren or Mark Steyn eviscerate the writer.

Heather Mallick is a left-wing shill who writes for the Toronto Star (at the risk of repeating myself). If it's not atheist, pro-abortion, liberal, Liberal propaganda, she's against it. Stephen Harper could rescue a hundred puppies from a burning high-rise building and she'd complain that he didn't brush them and clip their nails on the way down the stairs. As a good leftist, she's also not real fond of Jews, although she spends a chunk of the column I'm describing protesteth-ing that point too much. (Protip: if you claim you're not anti-Semitic but protest every security initiative Israel takes on to defend its citizens, you're actually  arguing that Jews don't have the right to self-defence, effectively endorsing their slaughter. No sale on the whole "not anti-Semitic" thing.)

I had wanted to go point-by-point through her column correcting the logical errors, but that would take longer than I'm willing to invest right now. I don't want this piece to join my collection of half-finished posts that are no longer even remotely timely. I really need to point out one particular jaw-dropper, though. Mallick takes it as a point of faith that Stephen Harper is a bumbling, uninformed hick. She uses this example in an attempt to hammer that point home:
Here’s the most uneducated thing: Harper claimed Canada is the "polar opposite of Israel” as it has "much geography but very little history." The state of Israel is 65 years old, Canada is 147 and humans first arrived on this continent perhaps 16,000 years ago.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Wow. Just wow.

And this woman is a professional journalist. By thinking that the nation of Israel sprang into existence ex nihilo in 1948, Mallick demonstrates her place in the ranks of the painfully ignorant.

For those who don't know (which is arguably fine, as long as you don't think you're being really clever by trying to smugly rebut someone who does), the nation of Israel was established in, umm, Biblical times. Even if you reject the idea that the Bible was divinely inspired or that there was anything supernatural involved in Israel's rise and fall, there is no question of Israel's existence prior to the adoption of the calendar by which we now measure years. Israel was sacked by the Romans in 70. That's the year 70, as in one thousand, nine hundred, and forty-four years ago. Almost two millennia since it fell, and considerably more than that since it was founded.

But by all means, Ms. Mallick, please continue to impress us with how much less history Israel has than a country that's been around for about a buck-and-a-half, and how  "uneducated" Stephen Harper is.

I'm guessing Ms. Mallick didn't do so well in math class. If you insist that 1944 < 147, your teacher will probably mark it wrong.

Oh, well, for those who are terrible at math (and history), I suppose there's always journalism school.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of a bottle of something of which my wife has a bottle. And of which she took a picture.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Just For The Record

The more I hear from him, the better I like him.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of the picture I already posted, because it bears repeating.

Friday, December 20, 2013

High Purr Bully, Not Hyper Bowl

Today I am a broken man.

My whole world has been shattered.

I thought nothing could shake my faith.

I just found out that Hall & Oates are being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

I don't know if I can ever believe in anything again.

(I thought my whole world had been shattered once before. Turned out it was just the lens of my glasses.)

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of what I can't unsee when I look at the patio stones in my back yard.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Turns Out The Batusi Is Not The Sign For Anything

It's probably wrong that I think this is hilarious:

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - A man who provided sign language interpretation on stage for Nelson Mandela's memorial service, attended by scores of heads of state, was a "fake," the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa said on Tuesday...sign language experts said the man was not signing in South African or American sign languages and could not have been signing in any other known sign language because there was no structure to his arm and hand movements.
I used to think finding stuff like this funny made me a jerk. Now I realize it's just a symptom of the underlying condition.

I need to update my will. I hereby request that at my funeral, somebody who doesn't know sign language should stand up at the front making random gestures as people speak. Rudeness is encouraged. If at all possible, work the Macarena in there somewhere.

We can only hope this episode inspires a new fad on Youtube: superimposing fake sign language interpreters at famous speeches. Imagine having someone standing to the side looking like they're playing charades and/or having a petit mal seizure (a fine line, that) as Reagan talks about tearing down this wall, or King talks about having a dream this afternoon (it's always a good idea to catch a nap before giving a big speech), or Obama lies through his teeth and says you can keep your plan if you like it, or Walter White proclaims himself The One Who Knocks. Internet, make this happen!

The Gettysburg address would be a good one, but for some reason I can't seem to find it on Youtube. With all those people gathered to hear the president's big speech, you'd think somebody would have brought a camcorder.

At first I assumed that this was a prank that got way out of hand. Maybe the guy was one of Johnny Knoxville's buddies, or one of Ashton Kutcher's Punk'd accomplices. Maybe the ghosts of Dick Clark and Ed McMahon are orchestrating bloopers and practical jokes from beyond the grave. The fake signer probably thought that surely somebody would call him out before the event actually got rolling. It wasn't until showtime that he finally decided between fake sign language and an homage to Garrett Morris's assistance for the hard of hearing.

Or maybe it was a wacky misunderstanding, like that time a cab driver got shanghaied into appearing on the BBC as a computer expert.

But no, turns out this isn't the fake signer's first time to the rodeo:

The man also did sign interpretation at an event last year that was attended by South African President Jacob Zuma, Druchen said. At that appearance, a deaf person in the audience videotaped the event and gave it to the federation for the deaf, which analyzed the video, prepared a report about it and a submitted a formal complaint.

Seriously, guys, checking references isn't a bad thing. Next time at least Google the name of your prospective hire.

At least this kind of thing is too ridiculous to be a widespread problem, or even a regional one.

Wait, what?
 Bogus sign language interpreters are a problem in South Africa, because people who know a few signs try to pass themselves off as interpreters, said Parkin, the principal of the school for the deaf. And those hiring them usually don't sign, so they have no idea that the people they are hiring cannot do the job, she said. "They advertise themselves as interpreters because they know 10 signs and they can make some quick money," said Parkin.
This reminds me of Marge Simpson's plan to give piano lessons despite not knowing how to play the piano: "I just have to stay one lesson ahead of the kid."

I have a nephew who lives in South Africa. I wonder if he can account for his whereabouts on Tuesday. Assuming he wasn't involved in this fiasco (which is probably the case, given that he's seven), I have a moneymaking suggestion for his future reference.

This situation has only gotten funnier / more disturbing as more information has come out:
The man accused of faking sign interpretation while standing alongside world leaders like U.S. President Barack Obama at Nelson Mandela's memorial service said Thursday he hallucinated that angels were entering the stadium, suffers from schizophrenia and has been violent in the past.

Thamsanqa Jantjie said in a 45-minute interview with The Associated Press that his hallucinations began while he was interpreting and that he tried not to panic because there were "armed policemen around me." He added that he was once hospitalized in a mental health facility for more than one year....

Asked how often he had become violent, he said "a lot" while declining to provide details. Jantjie said he was due on the day of the ceremony to get a regular six-month mental health checkup to determine whether the medication he takes was working, whether it needed to be changed or whether he needed to be kept at a mental health facility for treatment.... He said he has previously interpreted at many events without anyone complaining.


......... Anyway, that's a thing that happened.

As for Mandela himself, I have no opinion. I used to think he must have been a great hero, because Rolling Stone magazine said so. There were even songs about him, and surely bad people never have songs about them released on major labels. However, in accordance with 1 Corinthians 13:11, I've long since stopped blindly believing what the media tells me. The death of my former liberalism was the inevitable result.

My travels around the Net leave me unsure what to think of Mandela. Sorry, no links because I didn't keep track. However, you can probably type "Nelson Mandela" into a search engine as easily as I can, or even easier since you can just copy and paste it from where I just typed it. Looks to me like he was a communist sympathizer (at least), explicitly refused to renounce violence while in prison, and didn't even qualify for any sympathy from Amnesty International.

Standing up against Apartheid is certainly a huge point in his favour. He also seemed to keep things pretty peaceful once he was in power. If there was a lot of revenge-fueled racial violence in post-Apartheid South Africa, it's been kept pretty quiet (which is a distinct possibility).

However, Mandela was also a mover and shaker within the ANC, which has used some pretty questionable tactics over the years. I have a hard time endorsing the organization that invented necklacing. The enemy of my enemy can still be pretty reprehensible.

I was discussing this uncertainty with a friend who said, "You have to respect his spending 27 years in prison."

I replied, "Manson's been in longer than that. You may want to chose a different yardstick."

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of the patio stones in my back yard.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The One I Forgot To Title

This is a purely self-indulgent diary entry - but then, aren't they all? I have (hopefully) more interesting stuff in the pipeline, but I am, after all, so very lazy.

This is just an update on share ratios, as discussed a couple of entries back. Now I've really got to stop seeding some of the obsolete items, because I'm in desperate need of hard drive space. A few of these haven't shifted a single byte of data in weeks, so I'm going to nuke the files. Before I do, though, here's a list of my current seeding ratios for several torrents:

Ubuntu Studio 13.04                56.02
World English Audio Bible       46.04
AVLinux 6.01b                         37.73
AVLinux 6.0                             17.23
Ubuntu Studio 12.10                10.79
Gentoo Live 20121221              2.71
LibreOffice 3.6.4 installer           1.83
Deep Purple 2012 concert         0.54
LibreOffice 3.6.4 Help files         0.41
Paul McCartney 2013 concert   0.52

 These torrents represent a total of over 375 GB of data I've uploaded. I may not be able to code anything more complex than a Forge card, but this is one small way I can contribute to open source software.

Enough rambling. Here's a picture of one of my co-workers dressed as a cowgirl. I don't know why either. She promised me severe bodily harm if this photo got distributed, so let's not tell her.