I’ve been afk this week, I realize, hoping for inspiration. What follows is just a rundown of the things going on with me, of no particular interest to anyone, of course. If you had a blog, you could do this too! I urge you to make a blog. I’ll be happy to link to you.
Microsoft Edge: Now and then as I am working here on the desktop, I find that the path is unfamiliar and that I am logged out, for instance, of this blog. Then I utter the words under my breath “Goddamned Microsoft!” It was more than ten years ago that I switched over to Firefox from whatever browser Microsoft was offering then. I did so because the company back doors its whole application, tracks your activity, and looks for advertising opportunities, mostly. I am not doing anything subversive – in fact, I am an open book. I go to well-known websites, never look at anything pornographic (OK, I did watch Game of Thrones), and quickly get out of any application that might force me to look at advertising.
MS Edge has less than 4% of the browser market. The company has always been ham-handed when it comes to promoting its own products. Its version of Siri (which I also do not use) is called “Cortana.” Is that an clunky thing to name a program? It’s just clumsy, the kind of thing a very uncool high school student (as was I) might come up with. (From what I read, Google Chrome has control of most of the browser market.) But here is how Microsoft behaves: Since its browser is unpopular, and people don’t voluntarily use it, they force it on us. So when we open an application, no matter our default browser, it opens in Edge. That’s annoying. Here is a video to get rid of MS Edge. It takes extra effort, as Microsoft does not allow us to “uninstall” the program.
Of course, with the next update, like a stray cat, it will return. Hang on to this video if you, like me, find Microsoft to be bullying and unimaginative.
By the way, Mozilla Firefox has been for years acting more like Microsoft, and less like open source software. There are surely other, better browsers out there. I am all ears.
We just returned this week from Mexico, a place called Akumal, south of Cancun on the Yucatan peninsula. It was a delightful time there.
Prior to then we had spent a few days in Miami Beach, as they have a huge sand pit on the beach there with shovels nearby and a sign that says “dump your money here!” We wanted to visit that sand pit. While in MB people around us were dropping like flies, all testing positive for Omicron, which we all know is really spelled “Moronic.”
We stayed at the Holiday Inn, since it was a short walk from there to the people we were visiting. I could not help but get the feeling that Holiday Inn is coasting, sucking up existing business and not reinvesting in their facilities. I’ve long observed that a motel room is a motel room, no matter where we go. But that place had a 1990s kind of feel about it.
Anyway, how having broken the MALSS (make a long story short) pledge, we both came down with throat afflictions, minor but in our current time enough to spook anyone around us. We had to be careful not to cough. We suspect that the affliction was a result of the air conditioning in the aging Holiday room, though it could as easily come from the aircraft we rode on or the Miami airport. Years ago I became ill while visiting relatives in nearby Fort Myers, I still believed in viruses and thought I had one, but on return to Colorado immediately got better. I never understood that.
Mexico is open – more or less. They don’t require any testing to enter the country. While in MB we were not about to voluntarily submit to the bullshit testing regime, so we just bid our time, enjoying our visit, hiding our life-threatening afflictions. Then we got on the plane, went to Mexico, and had a wonderful time in Akumal. It so happens that the complex we stayed in (not a resort) had on its bottom level a restaurant, and though we tried another one nearby, it is said to be the best in the area. There, after currency translation, we enjoyed dinner every night for less than $30. (Travelers’ hint: When abroad, leave your MasterCard at home, use VISA. There are no foreign exchange fees with Visa,)
Anyway, MALSS pledge now completely out the window, by week’s end we felt great, all afflictions subsided. We did have to get back into the US, and for that we had to submit to the bullshit PCR or whatever test, and I was concerned about that all week long. thinking that if the people around us in Florida tested positive, we might too. But I kept that concern to myself, not wanting to jinx us. We had to pay $45 each the day before departure for a quick test, and my suspicion is this: They don’t really test for anything. $45 is just the price of exit from Mexico. If they don’t care about Covid on entry, why would they care on exit? We both tested negative.
By the way, as easily as Mexico ignores testing for Covid, they are mask-crazy. If you go there, be prepared to be ordered around by little hall monitors and cops-on-the-beat, telling you to mask up. It’s annoying.
This from Jordan Peterson, whose book 12 Rules for Life I am currency enduring (more than enjoying), page 55:
“Human beings have a great capacity for wrongdoing. It’s an attribute that is unique in the world of life. We can and do make things worse, voluntarily, with full knowledge of what we are doing (as well as accidentally, and carelessly, in a manner that is willfully blind). Given that terrible capacity, that proclivity for malevolent actions, is it any wonder that we have a hard time taking care of ourselves, or others – or even that we doubt the value of the entire human enterprise?”
We are all Ying and Yang, mostly good but capable of evil. Peterson does a better job of explaining PTSD in soldiers than I’ve read before. It’s not so much what they have done, though doing violent things to others is indeed troubling for most of us. It is that we witnessed ourselves doing those things. All our lives we’ve imagined that we are different than those terrible people who (supposedly) did Mai Lai or Jonestown, only to find out that we are them, they are us. That is terrifying and destructive of self-esteem. It makes us all the same animal, only as good as our circumstances require.
I am currently watching Breaking Bad, years after it aired and created a national stir. The lead character, Walter White, is a good man, a chemistry teacher making $43,700 a year and who missed an opportunity to be wealthy because of circumstances not yet made clear to me. He learns he has terminal lung cancer, and decides that to protect his family after he is gone, he needs to leave them a stack of money. He makes some of the best crystal meth the Albuquerque market has ever seen, operating under the pseudonym “Heisenberg.”
That’s surely no coincidence, and frankly, quite clever. The Heisenberg Principle states that we cannot measure something without affecting it, changing the measurement from what it would have been if left alone. Walter White wants to protect his family, and so decides to engage in evil. It changes him. It is utterly frustrating to watch his wife, Skyler, grow distant from him as he builds an massive web of lies. Just as someone with PTSD learns more about himself than he ever wanted to know, Walter finds he is capable of deception, manslaughter, and immense harm to others, the people who buy his product.
All the while through he has to lie to his wife and son and brother-in-law. If he does not do this, they become complicit in his crimes, and culpable. It’s quite a web he has weaved. At the point I am at Saul McGill, the shady attorney, who has just come on the scene, and he is refreshing, as he lies with such ease and confidence.
I never imagined, after Ned Stark was decapitated in season one, that I could sit through the rest of Game of Thrones. But as it turns out, that incident was meant to dehumanize us, and to prepare us for what was to follow. I probably would have watched that series even without the gratuitous nudity. I now judge myself able to watch the rest of Breaking Bad without any problems. I am dehumanized, desensitized in advance by Game of Thrones.
Speaking of evil and our capacity for lying, I am currently also reading Dark Moon, the 1999 book on the Moon hoax written by Mary Bennett and David S. Percy. I ordered it on December 1st, and it shipped from England, just arriving this week. If you want the fascinating tale of how they faked the moon landings reduced to utter tedium, this is the book for you!
But I have to read it, I have to know this stuff. I suffered through chapter one on the fake NASA photos – that’s all pointless as people see what they are told by authority figures that they see. But tedious as it was, I made it though. Chapter two, equally droll, is about the Hasselblad cameras they fake-used on the fake-journeys. I am now studying radiation. That too reads like a textbook – in fact, the book itself is heavy and made of shiny stock paper, like a textbook.
Is anything interesting about that hoax anymore? Am I jaded? I think I have overthought the subject. But here’s a brief snippet from page 49, not new to me but usually lost in the details:
“In 1970 a newspaper group polled 1,721 US residents in six different cities and discovered that 30% were not inclined to believe that Apollo really happened on the moon. Today certain top NASA officials admit that worldwide ‘many millions’ do not subscribe to the Apollo lunar landings and recent polls show that now, less than 50% of the American population believes that their government, via NASA, sent astronauts to walk on the moon. These results are based on individuals’ feelings about Apollo. At last in this book we are able to demonstrate to anyone concerned that these feelings are well-founded.”
I long ago read that at the time of Apollo 11 perhaps one-third of the American public did not believe in the event. It was some magazine that did a poll, and the groups least likely to believe in the landings were gays and Blacks. This made sense, as those two groups were disenfranchised more so than now and so less likely to invest in “news”. I am utterly shocked now that less than 50% of the population believes in Apollo. Is that encouraging? Not really. They’ve merely moved on to new hoaxes. Climate Change and Covid, and germ theory itself, appear to have just about everybody in rapt illusion. It has been over half a century since the Apollo hoax, and I suppose it will take that long to undo all of the current hoaxes as well.