Is Trump Stupid? Or, How the Left is Being Bamboozled by the Right.

The common refrain we’re seeing with Trump is that he’s a fool, a useful idiot, a moron being used by the likes of Bannon, Putin, and all the other bad actors out there. He’s a patsy and a tool, and we delegitimize him as a real threat and claim he’s nothing more than a buffoon not worth getting mixed up with. Mother Jones is referring to Trump’s Immigration Order as immoral, stupid, and counterproductive. Tom Steyer is saying his position on the pipeline is stupid. Jeff Chidester of Seacoast Online refers to Trump’s tariff plan as stupid as well. Even the New York Times gets in, hitting not only Trump but the entire GOP as stupid. But what if Trump isn’t as stupid as people say he is? What if this is all just a show, and his team are all actors, and we’re all the audience? What if he’s smarter than Team Blue gives him credit for? Maybe we’re all being taken for a ride by this con man, and he’s actually smart, cunning, and completely unethical. Maybe, just maybe, he’s smart as a fox and twice as treacherous.

Let’s start with Trump’s life. He didn’t get where he is today by being stupid. Stupid people do not create multinational media powerhouses. They do not successfully stamp their name to countless properties across the world. They don’t end up marrying two models and an actress, and they sure don’t end up winning the POTUS where everyone said they would fail.

Let’s make no mistake. I’m not holding any of the previous accomplishments up as good, or even desirable. Trump’s accomplishments are those of a narcissist, and I’d much rather be an Elon Musk than a Donald Trump any day of the week, but let’s be clear here. You don’t get where he is by being stupid, and there’s a much better explanation that fits the bill here.

Trump is first and foremost an entertainer. What does that mean? He knows people. He gets people. And he knows what they want. The Left wants Trump to be the dumb evil fool they can love to hate. The Right wants Trump to be the easily steered useful idiot they can hate to love. The Alt-Right wants Trump to be the fellow Culture Warrior they love to love. Trump is playing all these parts perfectly.

To the Alt-Right, Trump is giving them everything he’s ever promised them. Bannon is in high levels of government. Culture-Warrior whackjobs are installed throughout the cabinet. Trump is putting in the Ban and the government is looking away from non-Islamic extremism (read: Racial violence). Basically, every thing Team Pepe wanted.

Team Red is getting what they want — economic deregulation, a supreme court justice with Conservative bonafides that will survive for 40 more years (minimum), and the gutting of their big bugaboos, the Department of Education and the EPA.

And Liberals? They’ve got the dumb evil fool they want. He spends time bitching about his bathrobe and about his daughter’s business deals. He rants on Twitter against judges and lawyers that rule against him, getting even the so-called mainstream Conservative supreme court justice candidate mentioned above to rail against it. He presents himself as the evil the Liberals love to hate…giving them plenty of red meat.

Mother Jones, even as they bashed Trump as stupid, recognized one simple fact. In all of this day to day noise, we’ve lost track of an older, bigger story: What happened to the Russian meddling with the Election last year? The Media has been busy chasing after Trump’s latest outrage. In the process, the actual scandal that could sink this entire administration, the collusion with and interference by a foreign agency, has been lost. Let’s say this another way. Instead of focusing on Trump’s ties to Putin, and his profiting from his office of President, we’re arguing about whether or not he wears a bathrobe at night.

Seriously, people? Is THIS what you’re going to focus on?

Trump is playing the Left like a finely tuned instrument. Far from the works of a barely competent, brainless fool, this is the work of a mastermind. Trump is playing the Left, giving them the foe they want to hate, and plenty of distractions. And the Left, underestimating him, is ignoring the real issues, giving him the pass he desperately wants.

Donald Trump, a Diary

So. We’ve done gone and did it. We’ve elected the guy I was sure would end up turning this country into a Fascist hellhole, and he’s now inaugurated.

So, I will keep a list of all the things he’s done here.

Before January

I’ve really not done much in the way of keeping track of all Trump’s done. The highlights of his activities include bypassing ethics reviews of his candidates and installing yes-men and cronies. None of this should surprise anyone. But in the interests of giving him a blank slate, I won’t detail anything in here. Let’s just say this is pre-45, and leave it at that. Instead? Let’s focus on Post-45.

January to March February (20th)

In the first quarter month of Trump’s first year in office, he has:

  • Scrubbed the White House website of all references to Climate Change. Let’s be clear here. Pretending it doesn’t exist won’t make it not affect us. This means he owns any climate change disasters going forward.
  • A petty, small-minded attempt to photoshop a much larger crowd (Obama’s, to be precise) into his own inauguration. I know it burns to have to do this, but the mind that needs to do this is a poor, small mind indeed. This is not just limited to places like DailyKOS, but also SlateGizmodo, and KDVR (a local Fox affiliate!).
    • Sean Spicer, Trump’s Press Secretary, went on a ranting tirade against the Press…because they dared report the real crowd size. Not to be outdone, Trump himself attacked the press. We’ll see where this goes, but when a tinpot dictator starts attacking his country’s press, crackdowns usually follow. Are we a Republic and a Democracy, or am I getting a truck and heading to Canada as quick as we can go?
  • Trump’s hotel has banned media coverage for the next week. What a precedent this is: a hotel bearing a name of a sitting president.
  • [PROPOSED] A Trump idea I actually agree with! H1B Visas are planned to come with a minimum wage of $100,000 per year. We’ll see if they actually do that. If so, this will be a win for Trump in my book.
  • Put back in the ban on federal contributions to international organizations that speak to abortion.
  • Appointed a pro-domestic surveillance mouthpiece for CIA chief.
  • Restarted the Keystone pipeline.
  • As promised, Trump backed out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
    • And China is positively salivating at this opportunity.
    • On the other hand, we won’t have to deal with the TPP’s downside.
  • In a surprising twist, Trump has engaged Elon Musk and Musk has gotten onboard. Supposedly, Trump is pushing for Musk’s electric cars to be further produced, especially since they are American technologies. We’ll have to see how this shakes out, but on the surface, it’s looking like a win.
  • As promised, Trump has issued an executive order banning Muslims entry into the US. People are already suffering under this.
    • Ignored a court order to stop carrying this out.
    • Got slapped down by another judge, with a full-on ban on the ban.
      • This didn’t take long. Ranted against “So-Called” Judge.
      • Got slapped by the appeals court. Will appeal to the Supremes.
  • Changed the group “Countering Extremist Violence” to “Countering (Radical) Islamic Extremism”, and retasked it with exclusively targeting Islamic violence, rather than its broader goal of protecting Americans from all extremism.
  • Another petty little attack: Trump whining about The Apprentice and its low ratings, not realizing that it’s as much about him as it is about vapidness of Reality TV in general. Extra dingus points for whining about it during the National Prayer Breakfast. That’s a good venue to vent your spleen in, Donnie! And amusingly, Arnold replied that Donnie should be worried about his own ratings, seeing that they’re in the tank.
  • Trump managed to put off the Australian Prime Minister in a phone call ended early….”due to fatigue.” I thought the guy was supposed to be a well-spring of stamina? 5pm? That’s it? Nobody told Mr. Complainer that Presidenting was Hard Work(tm)? Sorry, I’m trying to give Trump a fair go in this diary, but seriously, it’s getting old, and we’re not even two weeks in.
  • After criticizing Obama every time he took a trip, Trump racks his first days of vacation up merely 15 days into his first term. Cost to Americans? According to this site, about $3 million.
    • Good analysis on bitching about the current guy’s vacation expenses while giving your guy a pass. I won’t have a problem with Trump getting taxpayer funds for international trips, but he should respect that this is the US taxpayer’s dime and be diligent and frugal. His son needs the US Secret Service to protect him because of the damage a foreign interest could do to the US by attacking him, so the $90k tax bill makes sense. I’d hope that he’d reimburse the US government, however, because he has the money to do so and this would help clear up any improper looks. Hope. Not expect. My main concern about all of this is that Trump bitched so much about Obama going on vacation on the Taxpayer’s dime, and now that he’s in office, it’s all hunky dory.
    • Of the first month of Trump’s term in office, he’s already spent 3 weekends on vacation, on the US taxpayer’s dime. Let’s make this clear. Washington Post points out that over Obama’s 8 years as POTUS, he consumed 83 million USD for vacations. Trump is scheduled to pass that mark maybe as soon as the end of this quarter.
  • Of all the things Trump could deny, the notion that he wears a bathrobe was high enough on that list to actually occupy his valuable time.
    • I constantly say ‘amateur hour at the White House’. This, folks, is why.
    • But now I think I understand why
  • Shitstain Alert! Spicer, acting on behalf of Trump, insinuates that questioning Trump’s call on the raid last week is insulting the soldiers that died in it.
  • Days after losing his legendary stamina, Trump also lost his negotiating chops as well, and now he is agreeing to China’s One China Policy. Of course, Trump Trolls are out asking if those pointing this out want a war with China. Nah, I just want to point out that Trump is conning the entire country. Just remember. The Apprentice starring Donald Trump never ended. It just moved to the White House.
  • Trump rolled back Obama era Dodd-Frank supporting executive orders, and plans on rolling back Dodd-Frank itself with GOP help.
  • Oh, and didn’t we have a fuckfest of a hammering on Clinton’s e-mails? Wasn’t using a private E-mail server bad? Not so if you’re Trump!
  • In a much more sobering note, there’s the interview where Trump’s Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller made the Dictatorial statement that Trump’s decisions will not be questioned, most imperiously.Nothing ominous about that, whatsoever.
  • Time to change the format! Adding key events below.
  • So, the first head has officially rolled over in Trumpland. Mike Flynn got taken down by something that we have been pointing out constantly as a problem with the Trump Admin. Russian ties. This should be interesting.
    • Spicer had a hard time with the press briefing the next day.
      • Worked a blame Obama into there!
    • But that’s OK. The Republicans are all onboard with protecting Flynn from investigation, and would rather investigate who outed him.

March 

Because of the raw number of events in Trump’s first month in office, I’ve decided to break this up by month, at least for the time being. The pace of Trump’s BS has slowed down, as he has begun to realize exactly how hard it is to make things work, but already, he’s managed to roll back protection for Gays, Transgenders, Hispanics, and had his first scandal, but let’s see what’s next up

  • Trump’s admin has refused to release funding for CalTrans trains in the Bay area. One of the largest economic drivers in the US, Silicon Valley, is on the chopping block for Trump’s Admin. Surely, it’s only coincidence that they didn’t vote for him?
  • There are hints that Sessions is eyeing tightening up Federal enforcement of Marijuana restrictions in states that have legalized the use of MJ. I have listed the affected states below, with helpful color coding as to who they voted for. Everyone in blue voted Dem. Alaska and the ‘e’ in Maine are in Red, because Alaska went for Trump, and Maine split its votes up and gave one to Trump.
    • Colorado.
    • California.
    • Washington.
    • Alaska.
    • Maine.
    • Massachusetts.
    • Nevada.
    • Oregan.
    • DC.
  • In a not unexpected but still unprecedented (and unpresidented, to borrow a word…) move, press agencies critical of Donald Trump were barred from a Presser.
  • Finally, we get a chance to see what Team Red’s replacement for Obamacare will be. Turns out it’s so bad, even Redstate is bashing it.You know it’s bad when Team Reds biggest cheerleaders are railing against it.
    • It will knock tens of millions of people off of their plans.
    • Now, it looks like “victory” will be passing the bill in the House and giving up at the Senate.
      • It didn’t even get that far! Dead in the House because the House Conservatives didn’t think it went far enough!
      • Trump’s would-be signature move, the repeal of Obamacare….failed. Trump promptly blamed Democrats and Paul Ryan. Even conservatives aren’t buying that load of bullshit.
    • “Trumpcare” is now being called “Ryancare” in an attempt to insulate Trump from the fallout!

April

Been a bit lax about updating this as I’ve had plenty on my plate. But here’s a few things to see that happened in April.

 

 

Key Events

  1. 13 Feb 2017 – Flynn resigns after a reveal that he was parlaying with the Russians.

Keep coming back to this page. I will update it as new information comes in.

Steam’s Family Account Sharing: A Poorly Named ‘Feature

So, I’m researching how we can get Deus Ex: Mankind Divided so that we may both play it. Steam’s Family Account Sharing sounds like just the answer, right?

Wrong.

It’s not too much to expect that if I’m playing Mankind Divided, T can’t, and vice versa. I get that. One copy of the game means only one of us can play at a time. If we both want to play, we need two copies. It bums me out that this is true, but hey. If you wanted to play Final Fantasy X, and your brother/sister/husband/wife/mother/father was playing, you either had to ask them to surrender the game or wait until they were done with it. So, get the other PS2 out and fire up Kingdom Hearts on the other TV while they play FFX, right?

In the era of Steam, no. You see, when your partner borrows the game they are playing, they don’t just borrow that game. They borrow your entire fucking library! To use the analogy above, it would be like when you want to let your friend borrow FFX, you have to give every fucking game you own to them, because Sony insists that’s how it must be done.

What the fuck is wrong with these people!?

And if that’s not bad enough, if someone who is borrowing your library gets a ban for cheating, that ban applies to your account. I don’t worry about my wife cheating, but seriously…a ban for something someone else does? It’s almost like Steam is trying to discourage Family Sharing. Almost like they would rather you buy another copy of the game, so they throw all sorts of artificial bullshit in your direction.

So, I’ll have to see if there’s another alternative to Steam if I want to share games with my wife. Guess I’ll have to start researching that.

Windows 10 Release Imminent

Hello, everyone. Thought it was time for another post, now that Microsoft almost has Windows 10 ready to go.

Microsoft has been working on a new version of Windows pretty much since they pushed Windows 8.1 out the door. They’ve been paying attention to criticism of the tool by mainstream users and tech blogs alike, and have decided that their new version of Windows needs to address the needs of both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users. Their new OS, which you might expect to be called Windows 9, hopefully does just that.

Here’s a screen cap of a typical Windows 10 (not 9, they decided to skip 9) desktop, with start menu displayed.

You'd see a Windows 10 desktop here, if you were using something from this decade. :)

Daily Tech’s capture of Windows 10.

Prominent in the above screencap is the one thing that Microsoft had to do to get Windows 10 right. Yes, the Start Menu is back, with a few modifications. The Live Tiles from Windows 8 are visible, with the updates you would expect from them, but so are the old Windows 7isms of the recently used apps list and the pinned apps list. All Programs exists as a small link at the bottom of the Start Menu called All Apps. Finally, Microsoft realized that on a desktop, we want our OS to behave like a Desktop OS.

Another key way that Windows 10 fixes the Desktop Environment is realizing that all apps need to run in windows, even Modern apps. Here’s a Screen Cap of Windows Store running on the desktop.

You'd see Windows 10 Store in a window if you had something that was built in the last 15 years. :)

Windows 10 Store running in a Window on the Desktop.

Modern apps running in windows, and a Start Menu that doesn’t take over your screen, are both useful things on desktops. Mind you, the tablet experience hasn’t been ignored. There is a Tablet Mode that changes the look and feel of the UI completely, forcing all applications, including Desktop Apps, into full screen mode. While desktop apps are not forced into a tablet paradigm (you’ll  need a stylus to interact with their user elements…), they still become ‘tablet apps’, and you only interact with them one at a time. Here’s how that view looks:

Stop using Lynx to view my articles, already!  :P

Windows 10 can run in Tablet Mode as well, giving a slate the ability to run like a full slate.

There are other noticeable changes. The circle on the Task Bar belongs to a Siri and Google Now competitor, called Cortana. This VI personal assistant functions much like Siri and Google Now do, offering you assistance in your daily tasks (setting reminders, doing tasks, etc.), and running programs for you. She’s both text and voice enabled, also

The Action Center is a notification bar like what you’d find on a mobile OS, where things like ‘your Java is outdated, do you want to fix that’, ‘you just got an e-mail from so and so’, and ‘The Stock Market lost A MILLION POINTS, everyone panic NAO!!!!’ pop up. It’s also useful in letting you know if there’s bad storms in your area or someone has shot up a store. This leverages other apps, so theoretically anything that pops up a notice to Windows can use the Action Center.

Windows 10 also features many under-the-hood type changes, including a new version of DirectX (yay gamers), improved security (don’t we all need this), and the latest updates. If you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you should be getting a notification about this new OS over the next few months. Once you get it, I strongly recommend you make the move. It’s free for the next year, but after that year, you’ll get stuck with buying a new license, which has a $119 (Home) or $199 (Pro) price tag. Move quick.

To lay this idea to rest, however, there will be no “Subscription” to Windows 10. The free upgrade to 10 offer means your 7 or 8 license will become a 10 license at no charge if you move before 29 July 2016. After then, it’s like upgrading from XP to 7 — you have to pay for it.

Soylent 1.4 Review

So, I decided to take the plunge and order Soylent 1.4. This is my review of it.

First, some interesting background. Anyone who has watched the movie Soylent Green is probably thinking the obvious thought right now. Fortunately, Soylent shares nothing in common with the fictional ‘food’ beyond its name. It’s not a wafer, it’s not green, and above all, it’s not made of people. 🙂 Instead, it’s made of a mix of oils, carbs, and proteins, with vitamins and minerals added, designed to be a well-balanced nutritional shake that is designed to stand in as food. It is a creamy-white color liquid with a consistency of a smoothie, with a vaguely flour like smell and a taste that is quite distinctive. The makers claim you can survive on nothing but this without health issues. Whether or not this is true is beyond my level of skill analyzing, but I can tell you, anyone who eats this stuff will quickly appreciate real food in their diet simply because of the taste.

Soylent was made by software developers as a side project to a software project they were working on. Frustrated by how much effort it took to make the food, and the cost of poor-quality food, both on the pocketbook and at the doctor’s office, these developers sat down to design the perfect food, and have been refining their formula ever sense. As they are software developers, it is no surprise that they refer to their updated formulae using version numbers, and Soylent has seen four revisions since it ‘went live’ at version 1.0. Earlier versions of the shake had some…issues, including what has been called the ‘horse-killing fart’, which you can imagine is rather disturbing. This problem took two revisions to solve, and all but disappeared in version 1.3. However, I got in at 1.4, after they solved their supply problems. That will be the version I review.

Ordering Soylent is remarkably easy. Head over to Soylent.me, place your order, cough up to $300, and then wait. It used to be that that wait was a multi-month affair, but Soylent seems to have fixed their ordering problems, and what was a month-long wait is now a week long wait, and within the week, we had four boxes of brand-new soylent mix. The items were shipped to us in a giant, heavy box, so that may be an issue for you, but once the box was opened, a stack of smaller boxes, each with a week’s supply of 7 bags of Soylent, plus a box containing measuring implements, ended up stacked in our kitchen. A relatively painless process, costing about as much as you’d pay for a month of food, ready to be mixed with water. And this leads to the next part, preparation.

To prepare Soylent is as simple as emptying a bag of the stuff into the stylized pitcher, adding enough water to fill it to the top, and then shaking it up real good. This is a drawn out process and an excellent arm workout. Alternatively, you can just pour the stuff in your handy blender and then add water, and let the mains do all the work. End result? A beige concoction that smells strongly of flour. Previous versions of Soylent depended on a vial of liquid oil to add the necessary lipids for a balanced diet, but they managed to package the oil in the powder this time, eliminating the need to have both a powder and an oil vial. This vastly simplifies the process of making the Soylent, especially if you are making sub-day portions.

Now that we’ve talked about ordering and making the stuff, let’s talk eating the stuff. The first time I made the Soylent, I did so exactly by the instructions. What I got was a barely tolerable concoction that had a strong taste going down, and left a strong after-taste. I’d describe it as oily and pungeant, and others have pointed to the sunflower oil as the culprit. Initially, it has a gritty taste, but as the oils dissolve into the drink, the grit is replaced by an oily aftertaste. Regardless, you need a nice bottle of water handy.

So, I quickly hit the internet to find out what other people were doing. The answer seems to be the peanut butter or banana smoothie — add in PB or Bananas and blend the stuff together. This makes the Soylent lose much of its taste, and be easier on the aftertaste as well. Peanut butter seems to work well for this, so that’s what I’ve been using.

Soylent has been a good replacement for the unhealthy quick food that plagues the American diet. It gives decent levels in Vitamins and Minerals that are hard to get in most diets. It is not perfect (obviously, the perfect diet is a well balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other wholesome foods), but for someone who can’t afford the time to fix his own meals, this is a better replacement than McDonalds. I’ve noticed my energy levels to be healthier than eating out, and while it’s too early to know what this stuff’s health impact is, I have noticed a slow decrease in weight. Where 1000 calories of SlimFast left me a wastrel by the end of the workday, 1000 calories Soylent leaves me feeling energized. Instead of binging a 1000 to 1500 calorie dinner, I feel much better on 600 to 900 calories of dinner on Soylent. I don’t feel dead at the end of the day, which is good.

I’ll update as I can.

DLC and games

Kotaku has an interesting article on DLC and how it’s a hated aspect of modern gaming. That spurred some interesting thoughts on DLC in my own mind.

DLC for those not familiar with the term is ‘DownLoadable Content”. DLC happens when you buy a game, and find that something that’s part of the game has its own charge. Gamers tend to rile against this, with terms like ‘pay to win’. It’s most common with Free to Play games — you can play the base game for free, but if you want the best gear, you either grind for hours upon hours, or you drop cash and play immediately.

Recently, Star Trek Online has been in the crosshairs for F2P/P2W shenanigans. A pack of 3 ships, for instance, can cost upwards of $60. On one hand, I don’t mind subsidizing a game’s price with DLC. A new ship breathes new life into a game I might put down, and new ships are new strategies and new things to learn about. But ship design takes effort, and it will cost money that might not have been spent if the ship was just added free to the game. On the other, $60 is a new boxed game. I should be getting a whole new game, clean out of the box, with whole new stories, for my $60, in addition to a set of shiny new Command Cruisers.

Scale? What’s that?

DLC doesn’t kill a game. Ridiculous DLC. That is what kills a game. And given how the PVE queues struggle to put together a single team for the vast majority of queues? STO is suffering that fate. Sad for a game that I paid for a Lifetime Sub to…

Reputation Management

Reputation Management is the process of manipulating social media systems to present yourself or your product in a different light. For most of us, Reputation Management is as simple as climbing through the internet and deleting previous posts you’ve made and cleaning up your online image. For developers, however, it extends to the products you make. Here’s one example of how Chinese developers are manipulating the app market.

So, next time you see a program that’s 5 star 1 million download good, yet when you install it, it’s craptapolistic, well, now you know how such a crappy app got such a good review and download count.