Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

November 25, 2017
by funny
1 Comment

Net Neutrality: Time to Act…NOW!

Net neutrality is a difficult issue to explain…just the jargon used to name it sounds geeky and technical.

It goes like this:

Right now you can access and enjoy about any content you like without paying your Internet provider for anything more than a wireless connection. This is because providers are required to treat all Internet data equally. They’re not allowed to block, slow down, or charge money for specific websites or online content, and they can’t discriminate between or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. This is the current law.

We could define it as “freedom of speech in the digital age.”

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is being pressured to make that stop. ISPs and other interested parties want to make MORE money on you and on your viewing habits. What will happen when network neutrality goes away is that, as with the formerly free television shows you now have to pay to view, you will have to pay to visit your favorite sites, such as Facebook. Website owners will have to pay to keep their sites from being throttled (slowed down).

Small websites, such as Funny about Money, will go away. So will many entrepreneurial projects that are founded and operated through the Internet. Competition will diminish. The free flow of information will stop. Ignorance will spread — and as you know, we already have more than enough of that. And you will have less choice — possibly no choice — in the kind of entertainment you access on the Web. Sites will load slowly or not at all, and your favorite streaming entertainment will stutter and drag and make life generally annoying, You will stop watching these sites, because you will realize you have better things to do with your time than frustrate yourself.

Personally, I no longer watch television for one simple reason: I cannot afford to pay for cable television. Nor will I: even if I won the lottery, I would not pay to have a torrent of televised drivel poured into my home so that I can watch the rare moments of quality television. The Internet also delivers a torrent of drivel. I cannot and will not pay for all of that, even though I do value the few offerings that I patronize.

Funny about Money earns, at most, around $300 in a month; over a year, its monthly income barely covers hosting and back-end costs. If I have to pay Cox Communications extra to keep the site functional, then I will have no choice but to close Funny down.

This is true for most small website operators and for virtually all start-ups. Having to pay a gouge to publish free content will stifle all those boutique-y sites and exchanges you like to cruise, and it will force you to pay for “premium” content such as the streaming music, movies and videos on YouTube and for social media such as Facebook.

Net neutrality is what makes the Internet a free marketplace of ideas and information. 

The free exchange of ideas and information is what makes America a free country. It is key to our way of life.

If this matters to you, it’s time to act. On December 14, the FCC will vote on Net Neutrality. Right now, TODAY, do these things:

Comment to the FCC directly at www.gofccyourself.com

Go here to send a message to Congress and to learn where to demonstrate on December 7.

Call or email your elected representatives NOW to urge them to preserve Net Neutrality.

This is a very, very big effing deal, folks. Don’t let the bastards take any more of your freedoms away.

November 24, 2017
by funny
6 Comments

News You Can Believe (More or less) (Free, mostly)

News hunger! Several readers remarked happily when I mentioned some of my favorite news sites the other day. We Netizens have a bottomless pit of news and play-nooz sites from which to build our powerfully held opinions. So many of them do we have that it’s difficult to discern which are reliable, credible sources.

But lo! I have a list — in the form of FireFox’s list of all my bookmarks of news sites. From that, it’s fairly easy to generate a page showing some of the Web’s best places to keep abreast of current happenings. As I remarked the other day, NPR, PBS, and BBC are probably the best of the bunch, in terms of objectivity and intelligence. USA Today is also an excellent source of national and international news, with less pretension to high-browitude. The Christian Science Monitor, interestingly enough, is still a fine source of objective reportage.

As we know, some excellent reporting takes place at newspapers that have an editorial slant. Below, a few from the left and from the right. And given the presence of agenda reporting, it’s important to have a strong Bullshit Detector…or three. I use them all. Frequently.

Investigative reporting is expensive for an organization to underwrite and requires special skills. As a result, we hardly ever see it in local publications, and it has become fairly rare in national media. This is not good: investigative reporting is what the Fourth Estate is all about, and it is the reason freedom of the press is key to keeping America free. Fortunately, investigative reporters live on, largely supported by nonprofits and specialized groups.

And of course, our lives would not be complete without our daily dose of business and science reporting.

National, International, and General News

NPR News

Minnesota Public Radio

San Francisco Public Radio

Los Angeles Public Radio

Boston Public Radio

Phoenix Public Radio

PBS Newshour

BBC

Christian Science Monitor

USA Today

News with an Agenda

New York Times (paywall after limited number of views)

Washington Post (paywall after limited number of views)

CNN

Fox News

Drudge Report

Bullshit Detectors

Snopes

Politifact

Suburban Myths

Investigative & In-Depth

Investigative Reporters & Editors

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Center for Media & Democracy

Reveal

The Intercept

Center for Public Integrity

Pro Publica

BuzzFeed

Mother Jones

Business

Marketwatch

Consumer Affairs

Business Week (ad-blocker blocker)

Wall Street Journal (paywall)

Forbes (adblock blocker)

The Business Journals

Science

Sci-News

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Nature

Scientific American

Medpage Today

Retraction Watch

Smithsonian Magazine (paywall after limited number of views)

Aviation Week & Space Technology

One of these days (later!), I’ll list these links in a sidebar. So, watch this space…

 

 

November 23, 2017
by funny
5 Comments

How’s That Countertop Oven Workin’?

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope yours is going well.

Mine turned into an entertaining voyage of discovery. You’ll recall that after my oven crapped out expensively for the third time, I decided to shut it down and use a countertop oven instead.

This has worked fine, because as a practical matter I don’t use an oven much. The last time I broke the Kenmore, it was by daring to turn on the broiler to toast a couple pieces of bread. So, yeah: a toaster oven fills the bill for my purposes.

However…ah, how quickly we forget that we live in the New Third World

When we were invited to bring something to this year’s Thanksgiving friends-&-family shindig, I instantly blurted out that I would make cornbread. Well…’twasn’t till about six o’clock last night that I remembered: I don’t have an oven!

Heh heh heh… Charming!

At first I thought I’d ask my neighbor if I could stick a pan in her oven for the 25 minutes it takes to bake a pan of the stuff. Then thought…waitaminit! That thing in the garage is not just any old toaster oven. That thing was billed as the next best thing to God’s Own Oven. It has a convection function, and supposedly you can bake or broil just about anything that will fit into it.

So this morning I tried it on the cornbread, following the recipe’s instructions. It seems to have worked OK, after a fashion. Looks like the contraption runs pretty hot, though. After 22 minutes in there, the pan of cornbread wasn’t golden: it was toasty.

But it seems to have cooked all the way through.

 

November 22, 2017
by funny
0 comments

Shine On, Harvest Moon…

Did you see the new moon in the old moon’s arms tonight? What a beautiful evening!

It’s a party night here in lovely uptown Phoenix. As the dogs dragged their human around their mile-long racetrack, music and near-music serenaded us from all directions, near and far. The neighbors with the vizlas are having an outdoor party in their front yard, the chatter of cocktail talk rising into the night. Over in Richistan, one of the Privileged is blasting his neighbors with loud rackety noise that I guess is supposed to be music — no cars parked outside, though, so presumably no real party is going on. Visiting teenaged relatives, maybe?

The night is so balmy, it’s hard to believe we’re coming up on the end of November. Not even a sweater is needed.

Also over in Richistan, the City’s “we’re a-gunna condemn this shack” sign has disappeared from the front window in the wreck of a house recently vacated by the strange brothers. More amusing gossip has been heard on that front. Videlicet:

The other evening I stopped to chat with the eccentric couple who live catty-corner across the road from that place. He said they believed the explosions described by the other old-time neighbor I spoke with a couple weeks ago were not incidents related to the men’s shade-tree garage business. Rather, they believed, the brothers were cooking up meth in the back of the house.

And it is true that when they moved out, every window in the house was left hanging open — the place is still wide open.

Shee-ut. If it was a meth house, the City may make them bulldoze it. That, one suspects, would be the path of least resistance. Still…what a waste! These are historic-era homes: almost 70 years old. In Phoenix, you can get historic designation if a house is 50 years old.

Meth was the product of choice for dealers and wannabe dealers in these parts, for quite some time. Sh*theads turned houses into meth factories even in some very fancy neighborhoods — like Palmcroft, probably the most elegant gentrified district in the Valley. Friend of mine moved into a district called Moon Valley, a wannabe fancy area that has had its ups and downs.

Cattycorner across the road from the house she bought stood a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house that had been a meth house and had been condemned. A lot of argument ensued over whether the place would be demolished, the theory being that the chemicals used permeate the structure’s building materials so that it will never be safe to live in again.

So it remains to be seen what will become of Tony the Cat and his sidekick. The old guy across the street said both cats were back and OK. No one in the hood is able to adopt them, which probably doesn’t matter because they’ve always been “outside cats”: read “feral.” People leave food outdoors for them.

However, two mated coyotes have taken up residence in the brush outside a house one street to the north (another eccentric: an architect who thinks feral shrubbery is arty…and it surely DOES block the view from the street into his house). They stroll up and down Tony’s street all the time — I carry a coyote shilelagh with me whenever I take the short stuff out.

So it goes, on the eve of Thanksgiving, 2017…

 

November 21, 2017
by funny
8 Comments

Some things about forgetting…

…are GOOD things.

Well, on the meta-level, that’s obvious enough: letting go of old annoyances, frustrations, and sorrows surely will make your life better. Or at least make it easier to get on with life.

But when you come to be an Old Bat, forgetfulness soaks into the pores of your life: it exists on the micro-level. When you can’t remember everything, you can’t remember anything. Car keys are the worst offenders in this category, as we know…but the issue is pervasive.

Today, for example, one of the chores on the to-do list is to make a new magnetized note pad to stick on the fridge, thereupon to jot down grocery & household needs and people’s phone numbers (so I can lose them faster).  This low-tech device is easy to build: simply take some Elmer’s glue to some of that flat, black, rubbery magnetic strip stuff you can get at Michael’s, JoaAnn’s, or Target; stick the stuff to the cardboard backing; let it dry, and voilà.

Glue a long, thin strip of the stuff to the flat edge of an old-fashioned yellow pencil, and most of the time you’ll have note paper right at hand. With any luck.

You can re-use the magneto-stuff quite a few times: just pull it off a used-up pad’s empty backing and glue it onto the next pad.

But after awhile it does get tired. Today when I tried to pull off an old strip, the damn thing fell apart. So the first item entered on the new pad was “Michael’s: Magnet strip stuff.”

Then I thought, though…wonder if by some chance i have any more of this stuff?

One nice thing about old age is that memory is replaced by wisdom.

Yes, in the drawer I found not only enough to replace the shredded strip, but the contents of a whole package of flat magnetic stuff. And when it’s new, it comes with fresh sticky backing on it, so you don’t even have to use up your Elmer’s!

Pretty handy, eh?

You can buy those small yellow pads — note that it’s only slightly longer than a partly-used-up pencil — at the Home of the Lifetime Supply — i.e., Costco. One package of the things will last you until they carry you off to the nursing home, where presumably they will not allow you to have pointy things like pencils. Until then, stick a memory pad on the fridge, and you’ll never forget anything again.

Assuming you remember to write down the things you’re not supposed to forget…

November 20, 2017
by funny
2 Comments

Lazy, Hazy, Dusty Days of Autumn…

Dust. And, dollars to donuts, grass pollen. My house is infested with dust. And dog hair, of course: let us not forget that.

About the only constructive thing I’ve managed today, aside from running a couple loads of clothes thru the laundry, has been the daily dust-mopping with a microfiber rag attached to the head of a Swiffer mop.

This jury-rigged device works exceptionally well to pick up dog hair and dust. Of late, I’ve been trying to remember to Swifferoid up the floors every afternoon, along about 3 or 4 p.m.

At first, this collected vast wads of dog hair. But after about four or five days, less and less dog hair came up…just a light skiff from all 1868 square feet. But what DIDN’T stop coming up was the dust. Every afternoon, the microfiber rag comes up BROWN, uniformly brown, same as the day before and the day before and the day before.

So the only thing I can figure is that even when the air is still as the tomb (as it has been the past couple weeks), a uniform amount of dust is settling out of the air onto the floors.

What that suggests is that whatever has been ailing me may not be dog hair after all. Or at least it may not be 100% the dogs’ fault. It certainly could be something in the dirt that floats around in Arizona’s lovely atmosphere.

This year’s months-long choking-and-gagging episode started in March. At the time, I thought it was some kind of weird respiratory infection, because just then a very severe cold was circulating around the city.

But it never went away. Several months later, no change in evidence, I speculated that it was in fact GERD. Back to the gastroenterologist after unsuccessfully trying omeprazole and then ranitidine for eight weeks. She speculated that nay, it was an allergy.

Visited Young Dr. Kildare, who allowed as to how it prob’ly was an allergy, because experience shows that omeprazole works on me eventually and ranitidine works right away. He recommended an ENT. That guy’s punch-a-button phone maze was SO gawdawful I gave up after about ten minutes with no hope of reaching a human.

Still more eventually, I visited my doc at the Mayo, who suggested I try a double-dose of Claritin — making sure it didn’t have any decongestant in it (that’s pseudoephedrine, a really bad chemical). That DID work. So the conclusion was, I must have been enjoying a marathon allergy.

Figured it must be the dogs, since I let them sleep on the bed (I know: b-a-a-a-d human!) and am not about to throw them off because they will never let me get ANY sleep if I try that. Started cleaning all the bedding every day, with minimal results.

Then looked under the bed and thought…oh, shit! That was when I realized how much dirt and dog hair gathers on the floor between house-cleaning frenzies.

Fortunately the entire house is tiled, which makes it very, very easy to dustmop from stem to stern. When I started doing that, and especially trying to keep the floor in the bedroom super-clean, the ailment started to clear up.

Possibly not coincidentally, this clearing up business began the first of November. Since we now can see that no matter HOW much I swiffer up dust, the air inside the house must be a haze of dust pretty much all the time, it’s probably safe to assume that whatever pollen or crap was making me allergic is subsiding.

A-n-n-n-n-d…what plant that grows in Arizona spews pollen into the air from March to November?

Yeah: bermudagrass.

Bermudagrass starts to come to life in the spring and thrives through the summer here. It goes dormant when the weather cools and the nights shorten, at which time lawn-lovers seed over their yards with rye grass.

That’s what I suspect. If it was dog hair, it wouldn’t get better for no good reason.

The young people who are moving into the ‘hood as us old people dodder off into the sunset have a) families of small children who play outside in the yards and b) jobs that pay enough to cover the hefty water bills demanded by an Arizona lawn. As they’ve bought houses here, they’ve promptly back-hoed the Sun City-style gravel off the yards and planted grass. So…over the past year or two, we’ve started growing a lot more bermudagrass here.

Damn.

So if this allergy comes back next spring, I’ll have to go back to Wonder-Accountant’s allergist, ask him to test me for allergies, and get in line for the shots. Yippee.