This is exactly what I’m worried about:

Good on Mike Pence for challenging it. Kind of.

Using divisive rhetoric to win support is kind of double-edged sword. Pence can’t exactly say to the crowd, “I know we’ve been *saying* that demons will erupt from the earth to devour your children if Hillary is elected, but you guys know we’re only saying that so you’ll vote for us, right? We don’t actually *mean* it.”

On The Second Debate

Trump did better than expected in the second debate, better than the first debate, in my opinion. I’d probably call it a draw, in the sense that neither candidate wiped the floor with the other. Trump’s still struggling, but everyone expected (hoped, perhaps) he would implode–and he didn’t.

When I watch the debates, I’m purposefully trying to look past the surface stuff and see things that will get buried later. The media tends to focus on the more sensational things that happen, but I guess I’m more interested in the boring stuff.

For example, I noticed that Chelsea Clinton snuck into the friends box with Bill after the big introduction of the spouses. (She may have done this in the first debate too, but I didn’t notice.) The obvious conclusion is that she didn’t want to shake hands with the Trump crowd. I don’t remember anybody in the media mentioning that, but it might have something to do with this:

Later, we learned from a Washington Post article that Trump wanted to put those women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault into the Trump friends box, so that Bill Clinton would have to confront them on national television. A cunning plan, and the kind of power play you’d expect to see only on HBO’s House of Cards.

CNN’s post-debate coverage team lost their minds over Trump’s comments about appointing a special investigator to jail Clinton. I personally thought it was a laugh line (Trump is objectively better at comedy than Clinton), didn’t take it seriously, and I don’t believe he would or could follow through with it. The Clintons are a pretty big political force in this country and it seems like a bad business move to alienate them, regardless of party affiliation. On the other hand, if Trump doesn’t at least make a serious effort to follow through, his base could turn on him. (I’m pretty sure the left still hasn’t forgotten that Obama promised to close Guantanamo Bay.)

Speaking of CNN and boring details, I was captivated by a guy in the background behind the analysts who kept walking around holding up a giant head of Wolf Blitzer on a stick. Every time the camera focused on a different analyst, the guy with the Wolf Blitzer head-on-a-stick walked into the background of the shot.

Back to the debate, Clinton did better at connecting with the audience questions, so maybe she won that handful of votes on the stage. The “town hall” format definitely favored her.

I thought most of the questions from the audience were shallow. Half of them amounted to, “Can’t you guys just be less terrible to watch?”

  • Do you think you’re being good role models?
  • What will you do to make Obamacare more affordable?
  • Can you be president to all Americans?
  • What would you look for in a Supreme Court Justice?
  • What’s your energy policy?
  • Can you name one positive thing about your opponent?

Of those, I only thought the Obamacare and energy policy questions were relevant. The Supreme Court question should have been blindingly obvious for anyone to answer: The Republican will nominate conservative justices, the Democrat will nominate liberal justices, and every case from now until the end of time will be a 5-4 decision with half the country hating the outcome.

I noticed that Clinton gave a weak answer to the WikiLeaks emails and then changed the subject to Russia.

Russia and our growing Cold War-style proxy war in Syria is my current concern du jour if you haven’t noticed from my previous posts. Clinton sent another pretty strong message opposing Russia propping up Assad and the Syrian government, while Trump suggested we should work with Russia to fight ISIS. That’s a pretty sharp contrast. (On that particular topic, I submit that Clinton might be farther right than Trump.) If you’re concerned about wars with foreign superpowers, it’s pretty clear that Clinton is more likely to lead us into a confrontation with Russia. (Or continue to lead us down that path, I should say.)

On the other hand, Trump is more likely to lead us into becoming a vassal of Russia. So pick your poison.

Then again, if you subscribe to the theory that if Trump is elected, Mike Pence will be running the country (which I kind of do), he’ll probably take an even more aggressive stance against Russia than Clinton. I believe he mentioned air strikes in the veep debate.

Trump’s answer on that last question about something they admired in their opponent sounded more sincere than Clinton’s.

I spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out what the white ribbon on Clinton’s lapel meant. Couldn’t figure it out.

I’ve always liked Martha Raddatz so for me she has the journalistic and war correspondent cred to pull off her editorial remarks regarding warning the enemy about upcoming attacks. I probably wouldn’t have bought it from Anderson Cooper though. Overall I thought the moderators were okay, but I do think they went a little easy on Clinton until Trump started complaining.

Where do they get these debate audiences? Can they stop letting noisy partisans into them? If the debates are supposed to be for the American people, put them in an empty auditorium. I expect Trump is going to try to pack in even more partisans for his side in the last one.

One thing I’ve been wondering the last couple of days in the wake of all the Bill-Clinton-did-this and Trump-said-that, and after what seemed to be a clear theme in the audience questions: Should it be important for the American president to be a good role model for the kids? Electing someone based solely on whether you’d let your kids hang out with them seems … I don’t know … naive maybe? I’m not sure it’s healthy for a democracy to try to view their president through that lens. (I realize I’m basically making Trump’s argument here, but I’ve said before that he often has valid points, even if the way he makes them is, um, let’s say off-putting.)

On The Newest Trump Scandal

I know I said I wasn’t going to talk about the election, but here I go again, talking about everyone’s favorite emotional trigger.

Twitter exploded Friday night and Saturday with a new controversy over Trump saying some terrible stuff about women in a video from 2005.

My first reaction: I guess I’m confused. Didn’t everyone already know Trump was a horrible person and still nominated him for president? I mean, it wasn’t a secret. His very un-electability is exactly what appeals to his supporters.

So I guess I’m wondering why anyone (by which I mean all the people talking up the scandal on Twitter) thinks this scandal will suddenly be the one that brings him down.

If this scandal does sink Trump, it will give us a great indication of just how little America pays attention to the candidates prior to October. Because, I mean, seriously, this should not have been a surprise to anyone. Indeed, the general consensus among Trump supporters seems to go something like, “Yeah? So?”

By the way, WikiLeaks dropped a counter-scandal about Clinton (arguably, one considerably more substantive) this weekend, too, but it’s been pretty amusing to see how little traction it’s getting. One can imagine Julian Assange jumping up and down, wildly waving his arms around, screaming, “Look at this juicy dirt on Clinton! We worked really hard on getting this you guys! Guys? Anyone?” I see it pop up occasionally in a headline, but it’s typically buried in an avalanche of hundreds of Trump scandal headlines.

Anyway, many Twitter folks are calling for Trump to “step aside” or “step down,” but he can’t at this point. At least here in Virginia, he’s already on the ballot, and people have already submitted absentee ballots. If by some chance Trump withdraws, there would essentially be no Republican candidate, as whoever the party replaces him with would probably have to be a write-in with roughly zero chance of winning.

By the way, here’s a couple of nightmare scenarios to ponder: Trump wins the election and then has to resign or is impeached. Or, Trump withdraws, leaving Mike Pence at the top of the ticket, and Pence wins the election in a landslide because he’s more likable than Clinton. Either way, Mike Pence becomes president. Ultra conservative, pro-life, evolution-denying Mike Pence. If that happens, I’ll be directing a very sarcastic slow golf clap toward the American people. “Yay! We got rid of Trump! Oh, wait…”

Humor aside, I’m genuinely worried that we might be in the initial stages of an American civil war. All those Trump supporters (and they are not just a tiny fringe group) are not going to quietly accept a loss to the political establishment (both Republican and Democrat). They’re going to feel extremely disenfranchised (again!), and the only question is how they’re going to respond. They’ve been simmering since 2008.

One last thought: It’s really disturbing to see the number of people who believe that someone’s voting choice is equivalent to a personal attack. For example, I saw someone on Twitter have a melt down because someone they knew was voting for Trump, and felt personally insulted by it. I’ve seen it more than once, actually. I humbly submit that voting isn’t supposed to be like that. Just because you vote one way or the other doesn’t necessarily mean you have the same beliefs as the candidate. Given that we only have two viable choices, it’s statistically unlikely that anyone will have all of the same beliefs as either candidate. We have to pick out maybe one or two things in a candidate’s platform to agree or disagree with and hope for the best.

Okay one other last thought: I think one of the basic problems with political discourse in this country is the constant framing of one candidate as representing the destruction of a way of life (on Twitter, cable news, campaign ads, etc.). People believe that stuff, and they don’t forget. It’s going to have long-term consequences. People out there actually believe Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will destroy everything they know and love about their country. People on the losing side of these elections are increasingly going to get hostile about losing, thinking they’re in real danger, and eventually that hostility is going to turn into something bad. Protests in the streets. Riots, even. Police confrontations on a massive scale. Military involvement. That’s kinda how everything started in Egypt, Libya, and Syria.

Hopefully I’m just being paranoid and pessimistic.

Have fun watching the debate! Ahem, I mean, “debate.”

On The Veep Debate

Tim Kaine is a known quantity for me, since he was my governor and now he’s my senator. Granted I didn’t pay much attention to what he did, but that’s the kind of politician he is: He doesn’t make waves unless you’re into hyper-partisanship. I’ve always seen him as your basic run-of-the-mill politician, stamped out of the politician factory, with the party switch set on “Democrat.”

So my main interest in the veep debate though was sizing up Mike Pence, who I imagine we might be seeing run for president in 2020 or 2024 or both. (I mean, who else is there?) Pence is white and handsome and likable and articulate and funny … and very conservative … and lacks a southern accent. He’s the complete package. If the alt-right adopts him we’ll probably be seeing him again. (I actually don’t know what Trump supporters think of Pence.)

Kaine seemed out of his depth playing the role of attack dog. He’s not good at interrupting people and talking over people and acting like a jerk. Some people can get away with that (*cough* Trump *cough*) but Kaine’s not one of those people. Pence played it smart by playing the victim, although toward the end he started to sound a little whiny.

As for who won, I’d call it for Pence. He was the less annoying of the two. I think it was a mistake for Kaine to keep harping on the sound-bite gaffes that Trump has made. It made him sound like an Internet troll. Those gaffes are in the past now. Pence had an effective counter for it anyway: Essentially laughing it off as gossip that was beneath the dignity of him and the campaign and all of America, or turning it around with, “Okay, you got him, Trump isn’t a polished political speaker like the career politicians that you and Clinton are.” That’s probably the best and only way to handle that situation, and it’s fairly persuasive. I imagine that the kind of people who are seriously undecided, and seriously looking for how to vote, would be turned off by Kaine’s continual return to diversions from policy. A serious undecided voter (by which I mean someone who genuinely cares about making the “right” decision) would be looking for substance, and I think Pence did better there.

Then again, he did dodge a lot of questions about his boss. “I’m happy to defend Trump! Let’s talk about Russia.”

Speaking of which, this time, I noted that it was the Republican ticket bringing the hammer down on Russia. (No pun intended.) Pence said a lot of strong words against Russia, whereas Kaine was mostly all like, “Did you guys hear what Trump said about Putin?” During that discussion it seemed pretty clear that if Trump is elected, Pence will be handling the foreign policy while Trump works on negotiating trade deals and building walls and tweeting at 3 AM. Which again reminds me of your friend and mine, Dick Cheney, who had a big hand in Bush’s administration (that’s historical fact now, isn’t it?).

Elaine Quijano did a much better job as moderator than Lester Holt, or at least tried to. The questions were definitely better. It would be nice if the debate commission would figure out a way to stop the cross-talking though. The easiest solution would be to give the moderator some buttons to turn off microphones after the time limit. But I doubt that’s going to happen. The television sound engineers wouldn’t allow it, for one thing. Anyway it would just end up being distracting. I vaguely remember one year there was an actual “shot clock” that would count down and then buzz when time ran out. It didn’t make for great television, and the candidates just made fun of it.

I was a bit surprised to hear in the pre-debate spiels that among the list of sponsors for the debate was one Anheuser-Busch. I wondered what big corporations could possibly get out of sponsoring debates, but apparently they get free tickets to sit in the audience and (maybe) talk to the candidates. So if you were wondering who those people were in the audience, that’s who they are. Rich CEOs.

The debate had a lot less impact on Twitter (outside of political spheres) than the first presidential debate. Hardly any memes evolved. Which I take to mean that in the end, the debate didn’t matter at all, and it won’t change the election in any way.

And finally, here’s my public service announcement again: Don’t forget to read up on what else is on the ballot. It’s more than just the presidency. Somebody might be trying to change your state constitution. Google for your state’s election board or whatever.

On The First Debate

I don’t even know what to say about that debate. In the first five or ten minutes, I thought for sure that Trump was going to be the next president. Clinton started awkwardly, and Trump killed.

Then the rest happened.

I’ll be honest. Monday night was the first time I watched either candidate in action. Previously, I had only read reports about them, or seen the occasional clip on a news or comedy show.

I was not prepared for the full force of The Donald. Once he went off-script, he mutated into somebody’s crotchety old grandfather, yelling at the television news, not caring in the slightest who hears him. And it’s not like it was a one-off occurrence. He kept doubling-down on it.

Still, there’s a little part of me that thinks, “Wow, it’s refreshing to see somebody running for office who doesn’t care about political correctness.”

I can see why he’s been successful. As, ahem, let’s say “unorthodox” as he is, he makes valid points. I don’t know a thing about trade deals, but I’d be inclined to agree that America’s aren’t great. And it is good business to buy property when the housing market crashes, if you’ve got money laying around. It is smart to avoid paying taxes, if you’re a billionaire. The problem is you can’t say those things in a nationally-televised debate when you’re trying to become president! He’s not trying to win the vote of billionaire CEOs, he’s trying to win the votes of undecided millennials, who mainly just want to hear that the rest of their lives won’t be one constant, meaningless struggle to pay bills.

Clinton had her share of cringe-worthy moments, too, by the way. Every time she tried to be funny, for instance. You could tell when she switched back and forth between rehearsed material and off-the-cuff remarks. I think she may have lost some male votes with that “he’s a bully to women” bit at the end, and it wasn’t even necessary by that point.

I still stand by my previous observation. Clinton is the devil we know, and Trump is the devil we don’t know. And there’s several others running if you don’t want either devil.

I came away with two other lasting impressions. The first is that I completely underestimated Mike Pence. I saw him sit down on CBS for a few minutes and deliver some world-class spin about how well Trump did. That guy seems pretty smart and, more importantly, personable. I don’t get why he isn’t the Republican nominee. I need to read more about him. I wrote before that he’s no Dick Cheney, but I’ll be damed if he doesn’t act exactly like Dick Cheney. (In the sense that he acted like an all-powerful puppet master, staying away from the spotlight, the kind of person who could do some serious damage as a vice president.)

The other surprise came from Clinton: I felt like she really threw down a gauntlet against Russia with some harsh words about cyber attacks. “And we’re going to have to make it clear that we don’t want to use the kinds of tools that we have. We don’t want to engage in a different kind of warfare. But we will defend the citizens of this country.” (From transcript.) Those sound like pretty strong words, and they didn’t come from Trump.

P.S. I thought it was pretty smart that Jill Stein went and got herself escorted away by police. Good publicity stunt. Where was Gary Johnson, eh? (Probably off trying to learn some geography.) And the other Independent guy whose name I don’t even know? More missed opportunities there.

On The 2016 Election

I’m going to publish hopefully this one post on the 2016 election, because, to be perfectly honest, I’m terrified to express an opinion about this on the Internet.


I still consider myself mostly a centrist on the left-right spectrum of politics. Some issues I lean left on, some issues I lean right on, but usually not very far either way. I typically take things on a case-by-case basis, and hardly ever form a “this is the way it should always be” kind of opinion, because circumstances always change. (This is probably a side effect of my experience as a software developer.)

That should be enough right there to tell you why I’m scared to talk about politics on the Internet anymore. The Internet no longer understands Gray. There is only Black and White on the Internet now. Politically, the Internet consensus either leans extremely far to the left, or extremely far to the right. (Mostly left, if one were to be truthful, but the right is catching up in some sectors.)

With regard to this election in particular, if you’re not 100% anti-Trump or 100% anti-Clinton, you’re probably going to be a target for a horde of zealots who think they know everything they need to know from Stephen Colbert, Fox News, and/or some animated GIFs.

Unfortunately I have this weird habit of throwing out all the memes and headlines and rhetoric about candidates. I look at memes and say, “That’s a funny meme, but I wonder if it’s actually true?” Usually a little digging will reveal it’s not.

For example, like everyone else, I saw that photo of a crowd turning their backs on Clinton to take selfies with her, with a caption something like, “This is what’s wrong with America.” Or, “This is 2016 in a nutshell.” Or, “Kids today.” Or something along those lines. I chuckled. But what’s the first thing I thought? “I bet that was intended to be an opportunity for selfies and everyone is taking that photo out of context.” I didn’t even bother to look it up because I knew that’s what it had to be.

It’s best to assume that every media report (in this I include social media) about any candidate is a 100% bald-faced lie, and proceed from there. The days of journalists reporting facts so that we humble citizens can make informed political decisions are long dead. (Well, let’s say ten or fifteen years dead.) And social media? Citizen journalism? Don’t make me laugh. Citizens are the worst. Political bloggers? It’s all filthy, stinking lies.

But that’s beside the point. The real point of this post is: For me, it doesn’t matter who wins this election. For America, I don’t believe it matters either. Both candidates have merits and flaws. (Gasp!)

A Clinton Presidency?

There’s not much to say about Clinton. She represents the status quo in this election. I don’t have a problem with the status quo at the moment, so it won’t hurt me if she were elected. I am actually better off than I was 8 years ago, but I’m not so naive as to think it has anything to do with who was president. It was all me. Me, I tell you!

I said above that I’m fairly centrist. Clinton is a centrist Democrat, so her ideology fits reasonably well with mine, so there’s nothing to complain about there. She’s (probably) not going to start any wars, she’s not going to try to overturn the second amendment, she’s not going to change any marriage laws.

Personally, I’ve suspected that Clinton would be the next president ever since she dropped out of the 2008 race. I assumed that Obama made a deal with her so she would step aside and endorse him.

I don’t particularly want another Clinton in the White House, though, because of the knee-jerk partisanship she brings with her. Republicans will continue to obstruct everything at every turn, because that’s what they do now, and boy will they ramp it up against a Clinton. I could easily imagine Republicans spending her entire term trying to impeach her for whatever made-up reasons they can make stick. It will be another four years of epic gridlock.

Oh, she used a private email server? I’ve seen how government secures their computers, so her email was probably safer on a private server (even if it was hacked). The very idea that she should be sent to prison for using a private server sounds silly and hyper-partisan to me. Like trying to sink a politician’s career over jay-walking or speeding. If anything, it should make everyone feel better about her as president, because you know she’s never going to make that mistake again. (And yes, I believe it was a mistake, because to believe otherwise is to believe she was deliberately leaking emails to our adversaries, and that level of planning and sophistication is rarely present in government circles.)

What about Benghazi? A catastrophe, but nobody’s fault. Except, you know, the terrorists.

But nobody really cares about Clinton and her baggage, do they? The 2016 election is all about one man.

A Trump Presidency?

Here is where I’m going to start to get into trouble. I said above that if you’re not 100% anti-Trump or 100% anti-Clinton, you’re going to be a target, but the dirty truth of the matter is that it’s only if you’re not 100% anti-Trump that you’ll be a target. If you breathe even a word suggesting that you might in fact only be, say, 60% against Trump, I’m a little scared of the consequences. I’m afraid that only being 60% against Trump is basically the same as being a full-blown, racist, misogynist, pro-Trump supporter, in the eyes of the Internet. Followers and readers could be lost, which is the currency of the Internet.

So here goes.

Stripping things down to the basics, Trump is an outsider, which makes him a big question mark. With Clinton, we know exactly what we’re going to get: A career politician. With Trump, we’re not so sure, but we know it’s not a career politician. He’s more of a career used-car salesman.

But there’s a solid case to be made for the fact that “career politicians” are not doing the country any favors. They are not “public servants”–they are more in the business of avoiding trouble. Their goals are to stay in office by maintaining a solid level of mediocrity that attracts no negative attention.

Trump, on the other hand, has and would definitely shake things up, or at least try to, and I don’t necessarily think that would be bad for America. Right now, the country feels stagnant, even falling behind. At least in my industry, which is technology. (Unfortunately I haven’t seen Trump say anything about that.)

This might sound surprising, but Trump is fairly moderate on the Republican scale. Just saying “Trump is fairly moderate” is likely to get me in trouble. Some people will say, “OMG are you crazy he wants to build a frickin’ wall!” Some other people will say, “OMG are you crazy he’s the hero of the alt-right!”

But I don’t see him as ideologically-motivated at all. I think he’s more interested in generating controversy to capitalize on the publicity it gets, and what generates more controversy in this country than immigration reform? (Answer: Healthcare reform.)

But we’ve seen Trump moderate his positions since the primaries. His veep choice is a bone for conservatives that won’t matter much in the long run. Mike Pence is no Dick Cheney, in other words. Trump will not allow anyone to upstage him.

The bottom line is that Trump is a pretty smart candidate–he manipulates the media and public opinion like a pro. There’s a reason his name is in the headlines every single day, and Clinton–potentially the first woman president!–is an afterthought.

Still, I don’t particularly like the guy and I think he’s terrible at politics. He’s got the stage presence of an awkward circus clown, and I feel like I’m in a monster truck audience when I listen to him. (Caveat: I have never listened to a complete Trump speech.)

I have no idea what will happen if Trump wins, but if I had to guess I’d say: Nothing. He’s created so much ill-will among the political establishment that I don’t think he’ll be able to get anything done. Clinton would have all Republicans against her, but Trump would have all Democrats and all Republicans against him.

The infamous wall will be a giant boondoggle, if it ever sees light. (I’m not sure it’s within the realm of a president’s duties to build walls.) If it does, maybe it will create jobs for a while. Will it ever get actually built? Surely not within four years or even eight. After that it will probably be cancelled.

Many people I see on the Internet, particularly those outside the U.S., are literally afraid of a Trump presidency. The comparisons to Hitler are flung far and wide. (Those comparisons, by the way, break down immediately if you spend five minutes reading a Wikipedia article on Hitler’s rise to power.) I don’t like Trump, but he’s not going to hurt the country. Or the world. He’s not going to declare war on Canada or Iran or anything, or start mass deportations. He’s just going to give terrible speeches and provide a lot of fodder for comedians for four years. (I wouldn’t expect him to be re-elected.)

What about the others?

Poor Gary Johnson: He’s only able to get into the news when he makes a colossal, campaign-ending bungle. Jill Stein can’t even get that much publicity. This election year has been a mind-bogglingly huge missed opportunity for third parties.


One thing is certain: This will be the lowest turnout for an election in a long time. Democrats and Republicans both hate their respective candidates. This election is probably going to be decided by the extremists in both parties.

Right now, I really don’t know who’s going to win. I once thought (like most people I think) that if Trump won the Republican nomination, it would be a shoe-in for Clinton. But Trump has done a remarkable job of moderating himself since the primaries. He’s no longer hurting himself every time he opens his mouth. Media headlines have been scrambling to find Trump blunders to report on. They are so blatantly riding the anti-Trump bandwagon that I think, hilariously, it’s actually helping Trump. Joe Average American surely must be feeling bad for Trump over how much the media tries to parse his every word in a bad light.

(I don’t usually get on the “liberal media bias” bandwagon but it’s very obvious the media is no longer amused by Trump’s candidacy, and now fears it.)

Polling is surprisingly close. It might come down to the debates, which is sad because I’m sure they will be completely vapid affairs where each candidate jockeys to be the best at avoiding a last-minute viral blunder. Smirking at the wrong time might cost someone the presidency.

I don’t know about nationwide but I’ll go out on a limb and say that I think Trump will win Virginia, despite Tim Kaine being on Clinton’s ticket. This is based mainly on the fact that I have personally seen two Trump yard signs and zero Clinton yard signs. (The science is undeniable.)

Monday night’s debate will be the first time that I sit down to watch the candidates for any length of time. (It will not affect my vote, however, as I decided how I was going to vote months ago.)


Honestly, nobody should be deciding how to vote based on these circus debates, however they turn out. Don’t be a dumb American. Turn off your confirmation bias, go to the candidates’ web sites, and read their platforms.

And this is the most important thing you should take away from this post, if you’ve read this far: Make sure you read up on what else will be on the ballot besides the presidential election. There are congressional elections, too, and probably some local issues. Local issues are usually what affect us the most anyway.

P.S. I’m disabling comments to censor you. Yes, you in particular.

Old Posts Imported

Today I can finally say that I’ve imported all of my old posts from the old platform into WordPress. Well, most of them, anyway. Initially I’ve disabled commenting on the old posts, but I’ll be going through and selectively opening them up over time.

I’ve re-submitted my sitemap to Google and am awaiting the results. Soon I expect to see statistics flooding into WordPress from all the old indexed links.

In other news, I changed the theme again. This one is called Sparkling.

Oh, and I changed the site up so that the front page is static. The idea being that when potential employers search for me they’ll see my about page first rather than whatever the last thing I posted was. Hopefully that won’t confuse any regular readers. You should be using an RSS feed reader* anyway. (Nobody actually goes to blogs to find posts – the posts are supposed to come to you.)

* I use InoReader now, but off the top of my head you could also use Feedly or any number of others.

ThinkServer Ready For Action

On impulse, I bought a Lenovo ThinkServer at NewEgg. It’s a dinky little Xeon E3-1225 server in a mini-tower case. (I don’t keep up with processors anymore, so I have no idea where the Xeon E3-1225 fits on the spectrum of processors, but considering the whole box was only $369, I assume near the bottom.)

Lenovo ThinkServer
Server seen here in on the floor of my customarily sterile computing environment with vintage 17″ square LCD monitor.

Why would I buy a ThinkServer you ask? I was using my gaming PC to experiment with some MSDN software that I’d installed on a VirtualBox image of Windows 2012 R2, and I just didn’t have the computing oomph to handle it. My gaming PC can play some mean games, but it’s crap at virtualization. So I saw this ThinkServer sitting on NewEgg with decent reviews and clicked right on that Buy button. (I also bought 16GB of memory to go with it.)

If I’m not mistaken, this is quite literally the first time I’ve ever bought a pre-built [desktop] Windows PC. Every single time I’ve upgraded a PC before, I’ve bought parts and installed them myself, because it’s a lot cheaper to do it that way. This time I was delighted to simply pull the ThinkServer out of the shipping box, plug in the peripherals, and turn it on.

Then of course I discovered I had no way to burn an image of Windows Server 2012 R2 onto a DVD. I only have a DVD burner in my clunky 17″ laptop, so I wrestled it over to an outlet (because the battery was dead) and discovered that 2012 R2 is too big for a regular old DVD. Then I had to dig up an old 80GB USB hard drive to install it on.

Anyway now I have a new installation of Windows Server 2012 R2 ready for action. I’m thinking about taking some Microsoft exams so I needed a place to practice. Now to see if I can figure out how to use Windows Hyper-V.

Comic-Con Trailers

A bunch of cool trailers and videos have come out of Comic-Con, as always.

Fear the Walking Dead

I didn’t think I’d be interested in the The Walking Dead [sic] spin-off but I like the focus on the time period before the zombies completely take over. Once they pass the total collapse of civilization, I’ll probably lose interest in the new series unless they somehow make these new characters really compelling.

The Shannara Chronicles

First time I’ve wanted to watch MTV since the 80s. I believe The Shannara Chronicles is based on the second book, The Elfstones of Shannara (you see the stones in the trailer). I don’t remember much of anything about the second and third books, but I’m rather embarrassed to admit I did an oral book report on Elfstones for my eleventh grade English class. (I guess that would be no big deal today, but back in 1986 it was not normal to read fantasy books, and I still have no idea why I thought it would be a good idea to commit social suicide like that.)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Speaking of the 80s, when I see anything about The Force Awakens, it’s almost impossible not to feel like I’m a kid again waiting to get into the theater to see Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. But I also remember the excitement and anticipation of waiting in the theater to see The Phantom Menace, and the exact moment I realized what a crushing disappointment that movie was (it was the moment I realized that Jar-Jar Binks was not just a passing joke and he was going to stick with Qui-Gon Jinn for the rest of the movie), so I have to remain jaded and skeptical and try to set my expectations to the point where I’ll be happy with a completely average movie. (I also haven’t forgotten that while J. J. Abrams did surprisingly well with Star Trek the reboot, he utterly destroyed Star Trek Into Darkness.)

The Newsroom

My new favorite show is HBO’s The Newsroom. You may have seen edited versions of the “America isn’t the greatest country anymore” clip floating around Facebook for various political purposes. Below is (almost) the complete opening scene of the first episode.

It’s an amazing blend of really serious drama and really silly comedy about news and politics. It almost makes me want to try to write about politics again*.

Mostly because I can strongly relate to the show’s views on news and politics, which from my perspective are fairly centrist. (I imagine it’s popularly believed to be slanted liberal though, because anything that isn’t slammed all the way over to the right is considered liberal these days.) Most importantly, The Newsroom portrays journalists doing what I think they should be doing: Keeping politicians honest. Unfortunately in real life, that job falls on comedians, while journalists seem content in their role of parroting whatever they’re told to say.

* Except I now know that trying to push back the mountains of ignorance that comes out of political discussions every day to be a quixotic effort. Hey, see what I did there? I used a metaphor from the show!