G.H.E.Y. IN. H.D.

"God Hates Euroranger, Yes INdeed He Does"

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Brave New Transparent World

Posted by Euroranger on December 4, 2013


No kidding.

So, a very brief post today (as I am actually gainfully employed and doing employment related tasks).  I contribute to a tech site as the resident CF expert (to answer your question, no, they probably couldn’t find anyone else to do it) and that site has a common forum area where various folks post conversation topics and then other people comment on them and so on.  Usual intarwebz forum.  Anyway, talk to enough people over time and you do start to get to know something about them.  People make references, drop tidbits of info that, individually don’t make up very much but taken as a whole can start to give you an idea of how those people might be in person.  One of those people is a woman whose persona, in my mind, has taken several definition turns in my own mind.  You know how you form an idea of someone you’ve never met and then you learn something about them so you update that mental picture you had?  That’s the situation I’m talking about.  I read what she writes on the tech forum.  Some time back, we friended one another on Facebook so I thought I knew her well enough as a complete stranger anyway.  To her, she’s who she’s always been.  She knows her.  I don’t.  Anyway, I mention it because earlier today as I was bored and rolling through things to alleviate my boredom, I ran across a link to a blog she keeps.  I thought, hey, I know this gal…let’s go see what she has to say.

Turns out, I didn’t know her at all.

I don’t want to be callous or uncaring or perhaps say something untoward that might come off as unfeeling but several months back she went through some personal relationship turbulence and used her blog as sort of a personal diary outlet.  Oddly enough, I tend to do the same here from time to time…but not to the degree this lady did.  I read several of her blog posts that, presumably, she didn’t mind everyone knowing the content of.  After a time, I quit reading because it felt almost like I was reading someone’s diary.  I discovered personal details about her that I didn’t know about and while I don’t mind knowing them (they don’t change my opinion of her as a person) I wonder how she’d feel knowing I’d read them.  We’ve never met, never even exchanged words really but I feel like I’ve intruded someplace I ought not to have been.

What I come away with is a new appreciation of how technology is changing personal interactions people have (or may not have) with one another.  I’ve read all sorts of personal things on the web before.  I wander and surf and read all kinds of stuff.  I’ve never read them though about someone I had a preconceived image about…and it was awkward.  I’m in the last leg of finishing a web application that has a strong social media element to it and, in fact, I’m working on how to allow people to incorporate their blog postings into an overall, one glance snapshot of their business.  I’m now ruminating on how I might could build tools into my app to allow people to perhaps edit or sanitize social media entries.  Maybe I’m overreacting.  All the same, it’s been some time since I encountered something on the web that really makes me pull up short and pause and consider things for a moment.

My name is Euroranger and I approved this message.

Posted in Errata, On the web, Web Dev | Leave a Comment »

October-geddon

Posted by Euroranger on October 4, 2013


Oh look…it’s our economy under the leadership of Hopey McChange.

I’m not a self-important man.  I’m not a petty or boastful fellow.  I’m not so convinced of the superiority of my intellect and/or common sense that I disdain others’ opinions automatically.  I can and have been known to be wrong (if you consult the lovely and talented Mrs. Ranger she will enthusiastically confirm this).  I actively police my opinions for such personality flaws.  I do try and “put myself in the other guy’s shoes” and try and discern the merits of opinions I don’t necessarily share.  Because of all that, I’m going to write this post to memorialize something I’m about to say that, I believe, will turn out to be probably (sadly) prophetic:

Obamacare will seriously gut this country’s economy

I’ll keep this brief (and I really mean it this time).  All I’m going to do is to spit out a few facts of my own personal situation and then make a few observations and leave this here so we can all either come back and laugh at it later…or wonder why, if I was so damned prescient, didn’t I play the Powerball.

I am a married father of 2 kids living just outside of Atlanta, GA.  Our ages are 47 (me), less than 47 (Mrs. Ranger), 13 (Ms. Ranger), and 11 (Mini-Ranger).  None of us smoke or are morbidly obese.  We have a health insurance policy that I secured via eHealthinsurance.com that I pay $4665 per year in premiums that features a prescription drug plan and has a 20% co-pay and $3500 individual deductible.  It’s with a reputable highly rated company.  It’s not cheap and the coverage is, by no means, one of those “Cadillac” plans we’ve been hearing the President and his parrots in the mainstream media snorting derisively at.  I’m a middle class guy earning a middle class paycheck and this is the health insurance coverage I can afford.  Obamacare, as pretty much all of you by now have heard, started a few days back (October 1).  I’ve had coverage so I never really concerned myself all that much the dire doom and gloom warnings we’ve all heard about the economic Armageddon we’ll all get cordially invited to when the entirety of the the ACA (the soon-to-be-widely-recognized-for-its-immense-irony named Affordable Care Act, aka: “Obamacare”) kicks in.  That said, I got a letter in the mail from my carrier the other day inviting me to partake of a one time opportunity to reset my current health policy to a December 1 inception date (so that it runs from 12/1/13 to 11/30/14) for a mere monthly premium increase of $40.  I looked at this letter and wondered “why the hell would I volunteer to pay nearly $500 per year more for the same coverage I already have”?  It was then that I came across an online forum wherein a poster (we’ll go ahead and safely and with little real debate refer to him as “f***ing idiot”) was crowing about what a great thing Obamacare is and will become.  To prove what a great thing it is, he helpfully posted a subsidy calculator (check it out here: http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/) to tell you how much “free money” you’d qualify for to help pay for your healthcare due to the changes coming with Obamacare.  Needless to say, because I worked hard, went to school, got an education and then actually worked at many and several jobs over the years…my family doesn’t qualify for a subsidy.  Oh well, I thought, that’s hardly surprising.  But what I read further down the page on that site after I entered my details really took me by surprise.  It told me that the predicted cost for an unsubsidized premium for a “silver plan” (read: “worse than the plan I currently have”) would be $9780 per year.  Let me say that again: for worse coverage (in our case, higher deductible and coverages we don’t need, don’t use and don’t want) we can expect to have to pay 109% MORE THAN WE DO NOW!  Even their cheapest plan coverage level, “bronze”, comes in at a predicted $6656 per year or just a 42% increase (and with much, much worse coverage).

It’s almost like he’s talking to every voter who cast a vote for Obama…oh well, the 1%’ers will now be the people with good paying jobs AND healthcare. Way to go you f***ing ignorant illiterate idiots.

Well, after I emptied the outrage-inspired crap out of my trousers, I said “to hell with predictions, let’s go quote a policy and see what I can find”.  So, I went over to eHealthinsurance.com (where I bought our last two policies) to see what I could get for a quote today.  Cheapest that I can quote now is $7104 per year and that’s with the deductible getting jacked up to $6350 per person and going to a 30% copay. That’s a jump of 53% in a single year…and that’s literally the cheapest private option on that site for us for much worse coverage.

Just to summarize: I’ve been “invited” to extend our current coverage and pay an additional $500 per year to do so but because of the absolute crap premiums I’m staring down due to Obamacare, that’s actually a great deal.  The absolute best I can hope from, from what I’ve been able to discern just earlier today, is a jump in my family’s health insurance premiums of at least +40%.  Let me be clear here: this isn’t predictions or estimates or “according to statistics from blablabla”.  This is the actual, no shit reality me and my family is facing as a direct consequence of this country voting for Barack Obama as our president.

That’s the best case scenario…and I get absolutely nothing more for that huge outlay than I’m getting today.  To put it another way: my already tight budget is going to need to squeeze out an additional $2000 in 2014…all so someone else can have what I have but didn’t bother to work for to afford.  And this is merely the best part.  We didn’t even discuss what employers are going to do when this shitstorm hits.  Companies are already turning full time jobs into part time jobs (cutting hours and pay) because the employer mandate says the employer only needs to pay the health care premiums for full time employees.  It’s pretty mercenary of an employer to do that but hey, this isn’t their idea, is it?  Employers do what the economy dictates and this law dictates that full time employment will now become an elitist, status symbol…ironically driving even more people to the public dole than Obama has managed to do in his first 5 years in office.

The American Dream officially died today people…and you have Hopey Hussein McChange to thank for it.

My name is Euroranger and I approved this message.

Posted in In the news, On the web, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Military members: trusted to fight wars, not trusted to carry weapons at work

Posted by Euroranger on September 18, 2013


One of the more cogent arguments against gun control. Read on…

Posted in Errata | Leave a Comment »

Comfort in Wisdom

Posted by Euroranger on September 17, 2013


2012 - 2013 arctic ice sheet

Remember when the Arctic was gonna be ice free soon due to Global Warming? Yeah…about that. Never mind. L to R: Arctic sea ice coverage 2012, 2013. In case yer a GW fanboi, the right pic is what’s known as “more” and not “less”.

If, like me, you were trolling around on the internet within the past 4-5 years you likely ran into an article or forum conversation regarding global warming.  Remember those days?  The world was heating up so drastically that within 30 years the Great Plains would be a desert, Venice would be under 10 feet of water and the Arctic would be a summer paradise?  Droughts, floods, famines, wars, environmental apocalypse was virtually at the door and that we needed to ACT NOW TO SAVE THE PLANET!  Remember all that stuff?  Remember how, if you didn’t simply automatically swallow the “hundreds of peer reviewed scientific studies” that proved Global Warming (or “GW” at the time for the in-crowd cool kids) was a thing and that it was undoubtedly linked to increased CO2 emissions by modern human civilization, that you were a global warming denier, didn’t believe in science, was likely some kind of fundamentalist anti-science wingnut?  Remember the “good old days” of being a tree hugging concerned leftist and how absolutely sure you were that anyone who opposed your views on this subject were simply evil, degenerate idiots who lacked the smarts to agree with your views because…”science”?

I hope you remember those days because, well, they’re kind of gone…again.

It all started just a few years ago with actual skeptical people (which apparently didn’t include a whole lot of scientists unfortunately) observing that, hey, it hasn’t gotten warmer where I am.  Those folks were told (you evil, degenerate idiot you) that local conditions vary but, by the-God-we-don’t-believe-exists-but-whose-name-makes-swearing-a-lot-easier, Global Warming Climate Change (the new and improved accepted term because evil, degenerate idiots kept pointing out all the “warming” holes in the theory) was real because SCIENCE (and you’re a stupidhead if you don’t automatically agree).  Then someone who also wasn’t as smart as all the patchouli smelling hipster kids pointed out that the temperatures on Mars was also rising.  Naturally, he too was shouted down as a troglodytic Luddite (even though he was a scientist) because “[h]is views are completely at odds with the mainstream scientific opinion,’said Colin Wilson, a planetary physicist at England’s Oxford University” (because it’s not actual science that determines fact but the consensus of a group of people).  I mean, sure, human produced CO2 emissions MUST be the cause of rising global temperatures (even though there are pretty much zero people on Mars…since Gary Sinise left in the alien spaceship anyway) and definitely NOT because the Sun (the giant ball thermonuclear fire that burns at around 27 million degrees at its core) was in a more active than usual cycle (remember kids: CO2 > enormous ball of nuclear fire next door…when it comes to what makes the planet hotter).

And surely you remember being the fool who was chided for looking smug when the whole “Climategate” scandal broke.  You know…that event where hackers got hold of thousands of emails from scientists who were convinced that GW/Climate Change was occurring as a result of human activity and that, unless we radically changed our entire society (pretty much just western society which actually contributes the minority of the CO2 but hey…don’t get stuck on facts NOW) we were all GOING TO DIE?  Yeah, you recall that.  Remember how prior to that scandal one of the issues skeptical people had with this whole cabal of scientists shrieking from the rooftops of all the ivory towers how this was all going to be one enormous environmental disaster was that they wouldn’t grant access to the data they were collecting, wouldn’t honor freedom of information requests so skeptics could truly look at the raw information to see if these dire predictions were true and how the scandal exposed emails wherein the scientists were worried about how to spin observations that showed their “climate models” that were all apparently forecasting global annihilation weren’t jiving when they should be…and that those findings should simply be ignored or maybe put through a algorithm that would churn out “acceptable” data that would jive better with their models?  Remember how if you pointed at that and said that such activities aren’t those of people on the up and up and that perhaps a less biased, less fueled-by-millions-of-research-dollars studies MIGHT be a better idea…that you were once more pilloried for being a backwards, delusional fool?

Chicken Little press conference.

Pictured above: someone who rational, level-headed people probably wouldn’t trust with a forecast of the future OR the latest demiGod to those on the left who seem to exist solely for the purpose of wringing their hands over the latest manufactured crisis-du-jour. Either or.

Anyway, remember all those good old days of…just 3 years ago?  Yeah, well, turns out, if you were thinking with your own brain and thought that taking the word of a bunch of leftist organizations who seemed a whole lot more interested in how to leverage the scare about Global Warming into a socialist wealth redistribution scheme via “carbon offset credits” wasn’t a sound basis to frantically be doing the scientific community version of Chicken Little…step up to claim your prize.  Turns out that an early report leaked from the IPCC (the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is trying to figure out how to spin revelations that all those peer reviewed studies who were all in lockstep uniformity just 20 years ago that predicted global temperatures would rise by 0.2C (a big number on a global scale)…had only risen 1/4 of that (0.05C).  Yeah, it seems that of those 117 studies who all uniformly foretold climate doom back in the 1990′s…that were the backbone of the entire Global Warming/Climate Change crowd…only 3 were even remotely close and 114 (that’d be a whopping 97.4%) weren’t just wrong but, on average, overestimated the amount of global warming that actually ended up happening by more than 200%.

What does this have to do with wisdom though?  Only this: wise people realize that a new field of study that suddenly gains enormous prominence, the attention of the entire globe and sees hundreds of millions of research dollars being handed out to anyone willing to conduct a global warming study MIGHT be susceptible to influence, bias and corruption because (get this): scientists are people too.  People are subject to the same weaknesses and sins and scientists are no exception and scientists AREN’T machines incapable of mistakes or outright lying…they’re people just like you and me.

Does this settle the idiocy of the ever panicking leftist crowd vis-a-vis Global Warming/Climate Change/the Sky Is Falling?  Of course not.  You’d have to believe that facts and subjective thought have any effect on such thinking and, subjective observation long ago ruled out that theory.  What it does do though is to re-affirm that cooler heads (not an intended pun but an apt one nonetheless) are called for and, in this instance (as in most others), those who say “stay the course, let’s see if this is real or not” turned out, yet again, to be right.

Let’s be entirely clear here for a moment: the globe DID get warmer.  There seems to be a lot less proof now that CO2 or other greenhouse gasses are to blame for the rise than was previously thought but the fact still remains that we did get warmer.  Also, regardless of whether there is a human origin for such a rise it’s still a good idea to move our economies away from a fossil fuel basis for energy supply (and towards cleaner, renewable sources).  This is simply a good idea even minus the typical hysterical climate reasoning.  What skeptics like me have always said is that while we need to move towards those goals, there is no emergency thundering toward us that should stampede us collectively into stupid, half-baked solutions to problems that don’t really exist.  And that’s why wisdom, sometimes, is comfortable.

My name is Euroranger and I approved this post.

Posted in In the news, On the web, Politics, Science, Weather | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The difference between Left and Right

Posted by Euroranger on August 22, 2013


…and just like kid’s shoes, the two sides work better when they’re closer together than when they’re miles apart.

This brief post will be about politics.  Not politics in specific, though, but the political spectrum in general.  We all choose political sides on issues.  Some of us choose them on specific issues and because the sides sometimes switch between topics we like to think of ourselves as “free thinkers” or simply not being entirely aligned to a political “side” for what passes for politics in the United States these days.  Some of us have a “hot button” issue that then directs us to support the opinions of the political party on other issues that champions our view on our dearly held issue.  Regardless, there are two basic sides in America and we all arrive there via some means of thought or value process.  In all fairness, what I’m about to discuss isn’t a new concept and isn’t breaking any new ground but with revelations over the past couple of years, is, to me, a lot more stark example of where the origins of thought are when discussing how people in our single country can be so politically polarized as we appear to be.

I believe the genesis of someone’s leaning in one direction or the other comes down to one value: “confidence“.

In general terms, it is the level of confidence in one’s self to be able to succeed with varying degrees of government “help” to do so.  If you feel that you can be successful without the government lending a hand you tend to lean one way.  If you feel that you need the government to “level the playing field” for you in order to enhance your chances of success then you tend to lean another.  Now, understand, most people don’t hold opinions wholly in one direction or wholly in another…it tends to be a shade of grey somewhere in the middle…but in general terms, I believe a individual’s confidence (in more than just themselves) is what starts the leaning in opinion in one direction or another.  In fact, going back to the first example (the level of confidence in one’s self to be able to succeed with varying degrees of government “help”) it’s also a measure of which do you feel more confident in?  You or the government?  Now, because I, like everyone else, has a political opinion, how I describe that may unintentionally convey a leaning in and of itself.  That’s unavoidable but being aware of it should explain any received bias, if any.  People who identify themselves on the political “right” in this country would probably tend to say they prefer to rely more on themselves and less on the government for their success in life.  People who identify themselves on the political “left” in this country would probably tend to say that not all people are equal but that everyone should have an equal shot for success in life and see the government as the means to enact such “balance”.  In shorter terms, people on the Right tend to trust in themselves overcoming obstacles to success more while people on the Left tend to trust in the government to remove obstacles to success for them.  In even shorter terms than that: people on the Left tend to have confidence in and trust the government more than people on the Right.  With this value in mind, you can look at nearly every political issue in terms of that balance between confidence and trust in yourself and confidence and trust in the government.  Thinking on that theory for a moment, consider some of the news of the past few days and realize that there is a change underway in this country.

One of those news items was this: welfare pays more than a minimum-wage job in 35 states, creating little incentive for Americans to take entry-level work and likely increasing their long-term dependency on government help.  That’s a fairly stark statement and, for this country, has never occurred before on a scale like this.  What it means is that our government is taking so much from those who work and giving so much to those who don’t that the incentive for those who don’t work is to not even consider working in first place.  Wealth (individual as well as collected wealth) in this country is generated by those who work.  Our entire economic system is based on the productivity of the American workforce and the rest of the planet, like it or not, is reliant on the American economy.  This percentage of people in poverty who are living at the pleasure of government entitlements has exploded in the past several years and shows no signs of abating unless radical and drastic changes are made…and those changes would be painful and very controversial.

The other news item is yet another revelation of how our own government views its relationship with its governed populace and how their view appears to be changingTurns out, contrary to each and every statement denying such by the NSA, the White House press secretary and the President himself, the NSA is, has and continues to spy on Americans who have nothing to do with foreign threats or terrorism.  The trouble with the news article in that link I just posted is that it contains so much troubling content.  The government spying on their own people is one thing.  The government outright lying to the only body that stands between them and the people (the FISA court judge) three times in the past three years ought to be even more troubling.  Keep in mind now, when I say “government” in this context it’s actually more like the executive branch and the legions of bureaucrats that the executive controls and not Congress.  This is alongside the other and previous scandals like the bureaucracy of the Justice Department running weapons into a neighboring foreign country, lying about it, getting caught lying about it and nothing happening as well as the bureaucracy of the IRS actively stifling political speech that would likely be contrary to the political views held by the current executive (President Obama) again with no apparent penalty.  Those, of course, aren’t the only three incidents where it would appear our own government executive branch regards itself as separated from the populace and at least appears as though it has a divine right to rule.  That kind of thing has always been the case but it’s only recently that that same executive, at least via it’s actions, seems to regard the rule of law as not applying to it and, what’s worse (if that’s possible), that the populace it governs is contemptible and possibly adversarial.

Look carefully at this image. That building that looks like a fancy grain silo? That’s the Bastille: the very epitome of a repressive regime. Those people on the bottom? That’s the repressed. Those things they’re holding? Weapons including guns. Situations like the one depicted in this image are the very reason we have a right to keep and bear arms…a right that our own executive branch stands opposed to today.

Obama’s own healthcare law was, by law, to go into effect August 1 (about 3 weeks ago)…and Obama simply said “no, I’m delaying that part”.  It’s the law.  How does the president believe that he has the authority to suspend the law whenever it suits his personal or political whim?

People who remember history or have even watched a passably accurate movie about historical events would remember governments who had agencies called things like “the Cheka”, the NKVD and finally the KGB.  They’d remember such government organs like the private Sturmabteilung (SA) which eventually was superceded by the governmental Schutzstaffel (SS) and went hand in hand with that other famous contemporary governmental agency, the Gestapo.  What all such governments had in common was that they were swept into power by a popular revolution of sorts.  In Russia, it was a revolution against the Tsars, followed by a civil war where the Bolsheviks (who were promising their version of Hope and Change) won with the support of the people.  In Germany, it was the National Socialists who were elected as the largest minority group via the very people they’d turn around and cull from their ranks, the homosexuals, the Jews and every other undesirable via death factories like Dachau (a death camp actually on German soil and operating before the war even started).

In both such recent cases and the case of the American and French revolutions further back in history, the government serving the people was either repressive or criminally inept and corrupt…and so a radical change was made by the people.  The point I’m making here is: all governments come to that point.  No government or system of government is eternal.  China, Greece, Rome, the Pharaohs, various emperors, kings and queens…they’ve all ruled and they’ve all eventually fallen.  Were there governments that didn’t fall?  Of course, but they were the ones who weren’t victimizing their own people to the extent that the people revolted.

The ones that did victimize their people had government agencies to excessively seize wealth and property from their people (agencies like the IRS) and agencies to keep an eye on those people because the government realized that with enough confiscation of the peoples’ money and property, they might get mad and turn their anger against that same government (agencies like the NSA).  Is the United States there yet?  No, and not by a long shot.  However, what the government spends isn’t matched by the wealth the IRS seizes from us individuals.  These days they borrow the money…except the point is fast approaching where they won’t be able to do that anymore and they’ll be forced to either cut back drastically on what they spend (which will cause a revolt amongst those who are dependent on the government handout) or they’ll have to take more from the people than they do (which could also cause a revolt).  In either case, you have the executive branch of this government using both instruments (the IRS and the NSA) to act against the people in a manner that exceeds their prior activities…and for that everyone should ask the simple question: why?

If you have confidence in yourself and not as much trust in the government you may answer that question in a way that matches your values.  If you have more confidence and trust in the government you may get an answer to that same question that also comports with your values but will be almost entirely opposite the answer the first group arrived at.  Regardless, the conditions that Americans face today (a repressive IRS and a domestic intelligence gathering effort by the NSA) are both new things…and if you’re not asking “why the change” then maybe you should start.

My name is Euroranger and I approved this post.

Posted in History, In the news, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Watch Where You Step

Posted by Euroranger on August 16, 2013


GIFT

This is known as the Greater Internet F***wad Theory. Seems funny or amusing but the more time I spend on the net (and I spend a ton) it becomes less “theory” and more “law”.

As most of you know who do roll through here, I’m well into my forties, am married, have kids, 2 dogs, a mortgage and so on.  I also own my own internet consulting business, am an application developer, game online and have a fairly juvenile sense of humor.  In other words, the first factual statement doesn’t typically have a large Venn diagram overlap with the second but, that’s me and I like it like that.  Most days anyway.  It seems I’ve managed to successfully master being a responsible adult and parent while still retaining my enjoyment and occupation with things that normally draw younger and, typically, much less mature folk.  And while I have no idea when or how that happened, I’m okay with it.  Sometimes, though, I forget that I used to be one of those very people until I run into one (almost always online) and then I’m reminded of just, well, how much I’ve aged I guess.

You see, a couple of posts back, I got to enjoy the attentions of someone though, who they are actually employed as a chief information officer, seemed to know remarkably little about how the internet actually works.  She stalked me to this blog, read something she didn’t like and up and terminated a development contract on that basis…and that’s fine.  It was entirely their prerogative to sever the relationship anytime they so chose.  What was interesting though was rather than be up front and honest about why they did so (they said it was work performance which, as of day 9 of a contract, is kind of a joke and despite moving more support tickets in those 9 days than they’d moved for probably 6 months) she lied to me in an exit interview whilst thinking she was being sly and crafty with her internet skulking around.  I like to imagine she had the Mission Impossible soundtrack playing in her head while she did her digging.  I also imagine she was less than amused when I penned an article about her complete with a hidden message that I only advised her about AFTER she decided to ask her HR people to “add it to my file” (as though a file on a 9 day employee will amount to anything anywhere to anyone).  Because she decided to copy everyone, I was kind of pleased to see her hoist by her own petard, so to speak, when I hit “reply all” to expose her idiocy to everyone who bothered to look (and yes, they did).  Now, in all honesty, I thought her particular kind of ignorance of a medium for which she was employed to be at least semi-knowledgeable about was probably a rare thing.  You can imagine my surprise when I encountered it again today.

As normally happens when it comes to braggarts and those in general who are far more impressed with themselves than facts would normally allow, this fellow felt he was safe behind the invincible banner of internet anonymity when he should know better that he’s not and so he proceeded to bluster about as though he were more than he actually is.  And you know what, where I might once have cared about such things, these days I know that imbeciles like that are literally a dime a dozen and that the internet is rife with assclowns like that.  It’d be like getting miffed at a raindrop in the middle of a downpour so I resolved to pity the turd and move on.  And that’s where it would have ended even after I got to have this poor excuse for a boy actually trying to threaten me earlier (if making silly boasts on an internet message board qualifies as this generation’s “threats”):

Now, in all fairness, when he says he’s “coming for me”, it could just be one of those terms kids use to declare his undying gay love for me. I have no idea what he meant by “growing eyes in my ass” though. I guess it was supposed to be threatening.

But see, I’ve HAD kids threaten me before with the whole “I got yer IP” and such.  Normally, such outbursts occurred in gaming servers and simply expressed the outrageous amount of butthurt they were enduring due to something I did, was doing, or was continuing to do.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen this but I normally chalk this up to being 11-14 years old, prepubescent, little rage machines but even with this, it was all kind of sadly amusing and entirely dismissible as someone who lacked even basic impulse control.  That was, til he decided that making minor humorous threats on a chat forum wasn’t enough…and so he came here to continue:

His best shot I suppose. I especially like the line about “white women”…as though that’s some kind of special qualifier. It’s just so darn precious.

Or maybe “awkward chinless turtle”. Whatever. The turtle’s got himself a “real assault rifle”…although I doubt an adult was around when this pic was snapped.

Now, as most folks who know me personally will likely attest, I’m a kind of laid back guy and will let most slights roll…but damn if that’s just not how I feel today.  See, for a dude who likes to make threats and go about calling himself “Apoplectic Ape”, when you actually cast a glance at Eric Giroux, “ape” is probably the last animal you’d likely ascribe to his general appearance.  Maybe “skinny weasel”.  Or perhaps “dimwitted jackass”.  Whatever you come up with, it’s hardly likely to be a synonym for “hardened, ass-kicking, internet tough guy”…but that’s apparently the way he sees himself.  What’s truly impressive is that he’s apparently a “digital marketing specialist”.  This suggests he ought to know something about how that whole internet thingy works.  Which is surprising because it takes little to no effort to unmask my sinister stalker.  See Eric here, well, he lives in an apartment in Lawrence, Kansas (awful long way for you to “come for me”) but works for a company called “DealerFire”.  I wonder how they’d feel about one of their recently hired account managers posting juvenile inane crap like he seems to enjoy doing.  Wonder how they’d feel looking at all the time he spends on social media sites being a smartass, repellent dick in general?  Maybe someone should ask.  I’ll bet they’d be interested to know.  I mean, outside of throwing cash, pouring gold bottles (“gold bottles”?) on white women and “stomping on the homeless when the cops aren’t looking” (establishing his “badass” cred I’m guessing here), Eric stays busy pissing away a fair chunk of his day spouting all sorts of puerile bulls**t whenever the mood strikes him…and that appears to be “frequently”.

What’s more amusing is his attempt to spread what he considers his “dopeness” (yeah…really…it’s a word he uses to describe one of his “notable” web properties) as though some 20 something, former KU frat boy douchebag whose entire claim to fame to date was sticking his folks with his offspring while he goes recording himself drinking beer (gasp!) outside (Gasp!) IN THE SNOW (GASP!) whenever he’s not laying down his essential brand of internet toughness on those he clearly has established to his own satisfaction that he’s superior to (read: “everyone who ever beat his geek ass in school and those who can’t actually reach him to do it today”)…all in orange crocs.

So, word to you Eric: I promise…really REALLY promise…I’m veritably pooping in my drawers at the very thought of you coming for me via my IP address (which of course you don’t have because, hey, you can’t get one simply because you wish REALLY hard and hold you breath for it).  Yep, I’m trembling in abject fear of your gangly, gawky, awkward self “coming for me” despite the eyes I’m furiously growing in my ass this very second in breathless anticipation of your arrival.  Before you head out on your quest for epic internet retribution for calling you out as the spineless, ignorant, boasting dumbass you simply had to double down on to emphatically prove me right (I didn’t need the assist), maybe you should share your evil plans with Mommy, Daddy, Ashley and little Jackson.  Mommy and Daddy will likely chuckle with mock levity at my impending doom at your assuredly fearsome hands…and then offer you a juicebox and cookie and send you out to play.  Ashley might take you more seriously and wonder if this is yet another ill-considered battle she’s going to go need to rescue her eternally deluded little bro from.  Jackson, well, if you don’t come back, he can probably succeed in changing his name to something that doesn’t link his future to his daddy’s idiotic past.  The kid needs a better chance than that.  Maybe you shouldn’t sell your uncle’s couch.  It’s not likely your new “girl”friend will want to keep it…what with all the stains on the upholstery and such.

But anyway, enough of this.  I have no plans to roll into Lawrence anytime soon (especially not since you’re up in Oshkosh right now) so let’s go ahead and call a truce.  You stick to being a back-flipping, pretentious, string bean, bag of douche with delusions of grandeur that exists as an object lesson to…well…everyone who isn’t you and I’ll stick to me being me.  However, if you’re still going to go about casting yourself as some kind of internet marketing specialist, go ahead and learn how pathetically simple it is to dig you and every facet of your insipid life up in a matter of a few minutes.  Oh…and “bland life”?  LOL!  Yep, guess I’d have to tip the hat to you on expertise on that, sport.  You’d be best to judge…from either Lawrence or Oshkosh.

Pictured above, Eric Giroux of Lawrence, KS. Proud graduate of KU and holder of the prestigious May 2012 cover of (what the hell incestuous mag was that called?…oh yeah) AutoSuccess Magazine. Thrower of cash, pourer of bottles, stomper of the homeless, seller of other people’s furniture, comer for motherfuckers, and general all around bad ass of the intarweb tubez. Also, proud possessor of the Orange Crocs That I Wear While Attention Whoring (some more…for crissake, give it a break kid) On My Mommy And Daddy’s Front Lawn. Yeah, I know you thought I was kidding about the orange crocs. Sadly, not even close to kidding. Are you really surprised tho that my newest nemesis dresses via Garanimals? I’m not.

Addendum:  So, for those who don’t read the comments, young Eric here has chosen “bluff” rather than “man up”.  I myself have a stepson in his 20′s who also makes exceptionally bad decisions (except he’s learned from his for the most part).  All kids that age do.  Eric, however, was given a couple of chances to accept what is patently obvious and sail away relatively unscathed.  I gave him a clear route for taking this post down…he responded by switching accounts on the site where this all started and then posted…hell, I’ve lost count…quite a few comments to this blog today starting from begging and pleading and eventually running straight to outright lies, more ignorant and offensive language and finally to outright daring me to inform his employer (whose time he has wasted in exceptional amounts today).  I truly would have preferred he not push it to this point…but hey…so be it.  Maybe his employer won’t care.  Maybe they’ll be cool with his smack talking and acting like a prick on the web.  Maybe they won’t care they’re paying a salary for some kid to internet stalk people while he should be doing company business.  I guess we’ll find out.

Trace 1 – This is the account he uses to post his particular brand of insult on the social media sites he whiles his days away on. http://disqus.com/Apoplectic_Ape/ Make note of the link to his web property sneakhype and that he lives in Lawrence, KS

Trace 2. This is sneakhype.com’s contact page. Notice the 4 Twitter accounts (we’re down to 4 people). Anyway, 2 of them are Kansas with one specifically Lawrence.. 

Trace 3. This is the one specifically matching Lawrence, KS just like the Apoplectic Ape account. Gee, what are the chances that of the 4 accounts, 1 of them would feature a background image of an ape, contain tweets referencing the site he visits as Apoplectic Ape and both this account and the Ape account are from Lawrence? Pretty close to zero.

Trace 4. Unfortunately, while also talking smack, referencing clear connections and such, our genius of social media uses this same Twitter account for his actual job (as opposed to the one where he curbstomps the homeless).

Trace 5. Of course, when you’re too lazy or stupid to use a different Twitter account for your repellant social media tendencies, people who you threaten and harass might decide to follow that up. This here is the account he’s speaking to, in this case, Corey at Dealerfire. But surely that’s not enough to go on right? Nope, you’re right…

…but this probably is. Says it there bold as day. Also claims the sneakhype site as his as well.

Anyway, this is how someone who decides to follow, harass, threaten and then finally dare someone gets famous on the internet. Or, you could just call it “bad judgement”.

My name is Euroranger and I was dared to approve this post.

Posted in Amusing, On the web, Web Dev | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments »

Sesquicentennial-burg

Posted by Euroranger on July 2, 2013


Monument to the fallen at Gettysburg National Battlefield

I’ve mentioned before that I hold a bachelor’s degree in American history and am fairly well versed with the American narrative but few other time periods of my country’s past are as fascinating to me as the two decades that started in 1850.  One thing that particularly saddens and concerns me is how disconnected from our history most Americans are.  As some or perhaps most of you know, tomorrow is the sesquicentennial of the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg.  It’s usually one of the few events that public social studies education even mentions in particular about the Civil War.  It’s been turned into countless books, movies and documentaries.  Because of this it’s not entirely uncommon to encounter people who know about the military aspects of the battle and, presumably, what it meant.  However, more than the immediate advance and retreat of armies and drawing lines on maps, tomorrow is the sesquicentennial of when America changed from what we were founded to be to what we are today and it’s an auspicious event like this that reveals how much we do and do not know about our own national experience and foundation.  So, is this a post about what happened across a few miles of Pennsylvania farmland one hundred fifty years ago?  Kind of, but only inasmuch as it invites a closer examination for the “why” there was even a Civil War in the first place.  The widely held, public school curriculum explanation was that the war was all about slavery…and on a skin deep, superficial level, that’s true.  It’s as true though, as saying the AIDS epidemic is about a virus while ignoring all the societal and behavioral affects the disease touches or relies upon for it to be the globe spanning phenomenon it is.  So, if you hold the opinion that the Civil War was about slavery, allow me to enhance your understanding a little and, in the process, you might become a more astute citizen of our country and your ancestors.

Slaves. Bad right?

More than slavery, the Civil War was about two economic systems competing with one another for political dominance inside a single nation.  Nearly everyone knows that the South was an agrarian society that used a system of legal slavery as part of the workforce that drove that economy.  In more simple terms, the South was overwhelmingly comprised of farmers, some of whom (less than 15% by 1860) owned slaves to perform the work of farming.  Because of the amount of arable land and climate, mass agriculture in the South was much more feasible than could be done in the North.  The North also had farmers, of course, but the land and climate there didn’t lend itself well to large scale agriculture such as was the case in the South.  So, if that’s what formed the basis of the Southern economy (agriculture based on an indentured workforce), and my premise being that two economic systems were competing, what was the Northern economy doing?  Well, in short, the North was hosting the arrival of the Industrial Revolution which is the process by which an agrarian society transforms into an industrial one.  Initially industrialization in the United States used horse-powered machinery to power the earliest factories, but eventually switched to water power, with the consequence that industrialization was essentially limited to New England and the rest of the Northeastern United States, where fast-moving rivers were located.  Industrialization is all about two things though: using machinery and technology to increase productivity and, to be entirely blunt, Capitalism and the pursuit of profits.  Industrialization in the United States started in earnest around 1810 or so (an important date to remember).  So, at this point, we have slaves in the South and workers in the North, right?  Well, yes, but it’s somewhat more complicated than that.  Most people today think of workers in our contemporary sense and apply that notion to what a worker was in the North at the time.  This is simply false.

Not slaves…but better?

Today we have things like minimum wage, health insurance, workers compensation insurance, workplace safety laws, unions, OSHA, the EPA, child labor laws, unemployment insurance and so on.  Not so back then.  In fact, while people are exceptionally ready to refer to the Southern economy as “slavery” comparatively fewer know the term that was used, in both South AND North, to describe the Northern economy: “wage slavery” and “wage slaves”.  Coincident with industrialization in the North, the United States was also experiencing a veritable deluge of mass immigration from Europe that was capped by three potato famines in Europe which drove people to the United States (particularly Scots and Irish) to flee starvation.  Most of those ships carrying immigrants landed in places like Boston, Hartford, New York and Philadelphia and the people who got off those boats often brought nearly zero wealth with them…meaning they had no means to move very far from where they got off the boat.  Luckily for them (or maybe not) there were thousands of newly minted factories that always needed a supply of fresh workers.  However, workers in the North often worked 14-16 hours per day with only half a day off on Sunday, in appalling and unsafe conditions, for very little wages.  Injuries on the job were common and because workers hadn’t yet organized into unions, wages were the minimum of whatever the factory owner could pay.  If you got hurt on the job you were immediately replaced by another of the seemingly endless streams of freshly arrived immigrants and you were unemployed.  Because mass transit didn’t exist, you likely lived in a tenement house or “slum”.  Entire families were jammed into single rooms and if Dad or Mom was hurt on the job and couldn’t work, oftentimes it was the kids that went to work in their stead (and the factory owner would naturally pay less because they were children).  In short, the Northern economy was in many ways just as bad and sometimes worse than the Southern slave economy.  Of course, there is the perception that the Southern slave owner beat and lashed his slaves, raped the women and broke up families.  That did happen but not even remotely as often as was being portrayed by Abolitionists (people who wanted slavery outlawed) and a simple examination of what a slave meant to a slave owner makes it easy to understand why.

Much better.

The reason slaves were owned by so few people in the South was for one salient fact: slaves were expensive.  A healthy young slave could cost, by 1860, as much as $1000 dollars which at the time was about what it would cost to purchase 500 acres of land.  The importation of slaves was banned in 1808 so the only way to perpetuate more slave workers was to breed them.  This meant that keeping families together would eventually result in more children who would grow into productive labor and produce kids of their own and so on.  In short, slave owners looked at their slaves as an investment…much the same way a farmer of today might regard his combine or harvester machinery.  He paid a lot to acquire them and, if he was anything other than an idiot, he didn’t abuse them or diminish their value to him.  For much the same reason, the typical slave owner fed his slaves, clothed them, housed them and provided access to medical care for them when they were sick or injured.  Starving, naked, exposed and diseased slaves did less work and generated less profit so most slave owners took special care of their investment.  By contrast, the Northern factory owner cared only about profit.  He didn’t feed, clothe or provide shelter for his workforce because he didn’t have to.  If anything happened to a worker, he could always toss that damaged worker and get a new one from the vast pool of immigrants.  What was worse: even if you were healthy and working productively, nothing guaranteed that the factory owner wouldn’t replace you with someone who’d do your job for a penny per day less.  You were always in danger of being paid less and less for the same work you’d always done.  This is, in summary, the reality of the two sides of the Abolitionist debate: agrarian slavery or wage slavery…which brings us to a final political reality that caused the Civil War.

Our political system back then was much less cynical and money-driven than it is today.  The president, the House and Senate were all elected the same way then as now except the notion of “states” and “federal government” was radically different than today.  Back then, the federal government was small and had little effect on the day to day lives of Americans.  There was no income tax, the armed forces were small and we weren’t a Superpower…we were just an upstart nation of less than 80 years existence.  The nation truly was a collection of states UNITED for a common association.  One way of understanding it was that before the war, the term “the United States” was a plural and after the war it was a term that signified a singular.  States rights were very much the order of the day and only by amending the Constitution could that be changed.  Slavery was an institution that was up to each state to determine the legality of not the federal government…unless a Constitutional amendment was passed banning slavery.  This is a concept that some people today believe was a driving force behind seccession…but it’s just not true.  The balance in the United States had been nearly even between states that allowed slavery and those where it was banned.  This is important because, in order to amend the Constitution a two thirds majority in both the House and Senate must approve the amendment before it goes to the states where 3/4 of the states must vote in favor.  On the face of it, this seems unlikely and, to people at the time, it wasn’t really the concern.  By 1858, there were 17 free states and 15 slave.  Even had an amendment passed Congress it would never have garnered the support of 3/4 of the states.  So, what was the issue?  In short, it was fueled by the population surge in the North via immigration.  Each state gets 2 Senators and there is only one president who is elected via the electoral congress meaning that the winner has to “win” states…so on these two counts, the slave states would probably hold their own.  However, the House of Representatives is determined by the number of people that live in a particular area.  Immigration to the North from Europe meant that the census of 1860 would likely shift the number of Representative in the House decidedly to the North.  Back then, bills were introduced almost exclusively in the House which meant, to the South, that any future legislation or compromises that might be proposed to maintain the balance of power between slave and free states would be increasingly likely to be rejected.  In short, mass immigration in the North fueled by industrialization was tilting that balance irreversibly in favor of Abolition.  To most though, this might seem like a reasonable progression.  Since there was a vocal social element that wouldn’t allow slavery to exist un-decried and since the Bible itself (a consideration of monumentally greater affect then) spoke against slavery, it was unlikely that the two economic systems could continue to exist side by side within the same nation.  To many, the South needed only to give up their slaves and embrace capitalism and all would be good.  Except that, for the conditions in the South, capitalism was nearly impossible.

Freeing an entire population of around 3 million people who would then be forced to adopt a lifestyle none of them ever experienced was, even then, recognized as an unmitigated disaster waiting to happen.  People who had never had to search for and retain a job, deal with money, provide for a family, and in many cases even lacked fundamental educational skills such as reading and simple math could never acclimate in the immediacy of the moment that an enactment of Abolition would demand.  To make matters worse, even the Northern states who advocated Abolition in the South cynically put laws in place to bar internal immigration by freed blacks to their territories.  Entire blocks of counties in some Northern states had settlement bans for freed blacks.  Indeed, the average wage slave in the North had no interest in adding to the downward pressure on wages by European immigrants by adding 3 million newly freed African slaves to the mix (who would surely work for less than any white man).  Add to that that banking in the South was sparse and not nearly as accessible as it was in the North.  This meant that even if a potential factory owner in the South wanted to build a new plant and employ people for wages, he lacked ready access to capital to get it done.  Capitalism in the South simply wasn’t possible…and yet, to the South, it seemed the political realities of 1860 were about to force them into an expectedly disastrous transition to capitalism and that the states forcing them to do so wouldn’t even share the burden of the ensuing disruption.  Something that was supposed to be a right of each individual state to decide was ever more appearing to be dictated at the whim of other states who wouldn’t feel the effects of such decisions…which was a radical departure from the system most people regarded the United States at the time as representing.

So yeah, even 150 years ago, we still couldn’t settle political differences without being total dicks to one another.

Secession was literally the only real answer…and in December 1860, South Carolina did just that and left the United States.  The rest of the story is rather well known: other states joined the departure, a new nation was founded, the incoming president decided that the division of the country couldn’t be allowed and so he forced a military incident to spark a war.  For more than 2 years, the Confederacy stayed on the defensive, fighting battles mostly on their own territory against an invading foreign power…until the point came that they realized they needed to punch back while they still had the means to do so and force a final conclusive end on the battlefield in their favor.  And thus, Gettysburg.  General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia had, for more than 2 years, bloodied and stymied the much larger, better equipped but ineptly led Army of the Potomac…with no military resolution in sight.  A swift, hard strike North, capturing a state capitol (Harrisburg), winning a decisive battle and perhaps even capturing the enemy’s national capitol might bring the terrible conflict to an end in favor of the Confederacy.  Lots of history exists detailing just how close the South came to winning at Gettysburg.  Much less known is the waning level of Northern public support for a war they saw few victories in and for a cause many didn’t support (freeing the slaves) and how, perhaps, one more decisive Confederate victory might break the back of the Northern desire to continue the war.  That is what Gettysburg represents: the beginning of the triumph of the North’s system of capitalism over the more populist, agrarian, slavery-based system in the South.

And oh yeah, this is also the 150th anniversary of the fall of Vicksburg which was probably even more important to the ultimate victory of the Union over the Confederacy than Gettysburg was.  Most seem to forget all about Vicksburg because it involved the Union laying siege to not just an army but a city full of civilians and starving them into submission.  Making war on women and children is rarely celebrated though so you can be excused for not being aware of that.

My name is Euroranger and I approved this message.

Posted in History, In the news, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

…and when Losing is actually Winning

Posted by Euroranger on June 10, 2013


Yeah, I’m juvenile this way. Still, good advice is good advice.

So, as many of you know, I’m a software developer.  Who else would sit at their desk 12-13 hours per day without restraints or really good meds?  I pen posts here in increments when I simply need to find something to distract myself from my daily professional activities.  Typically those distractions are things like wanting to simply give my brain a break from trying to untangle unnecessarily complicated code, learn something more about how to understand the black magic some DBA used when encapsulating business logic in a database…things like that.  I’m relatively good at what I do so I understand most things I see and can figure out most of the rest that I don’t.  I’ve been doing what I do for somewhere short of 15 years now so there isn’t much code or data wise that I can’t handle.  To that end, I make a fairly comfortable living primarily as a contractor while enjoying the revenues I get from personal projects that continue to make my customers happy.  I do well enough, in fact, that I have time during the week to take on additional work.  Now, a great many of you might think that working from home would be ideal and who couldn’t be delighted to do such work?  No commuting, no dress code, flexible hours and the like is cool, right?  Well, it is but there are distinct pitfalls that many wouldn’t realize.  One of them is that you typically don’t ever get to meet the people you’re working for.  That sounds minor but more and more, I’m coming to discover that it’s actually a major piece of a potential employee or contractor who is trying to size up a work opportunity for suitability.  By virtue of the fact that you’re seeing this comprise the topic for a post, I’ve had recent experiences that I feel I need to vent about share with those thinking of doing this kind of thing.

Thieving douchebags. Yeah, you should avoid them as well.

Several years ago I briefly worked as a remote developer for a firm in Jacksonville, FL (keep in mind, I’m located outside the Atlanta, GA area) who had a grass roots political organizing application.  Not to get into the specifics of the app because it was way too ambitious given the owner’s timeline, funding and overall technical acumen but I did code some pretty cool modules for this application that even today (roughly 4 years later) I’m still pretty proud of (think a Google maps mashup that would create a walking route overlaid on a map for volunteers to go door-to-door for “get out the vote” drives with pinpointed addresses for political supporters with a map popup with details for each address…yeah, it was damn cool).  Anyway, long story short, the owner turned out to be a budding little criminal and it wasn’t until after he decided that paying me was “optional” that I discovered that he’d done the same to the two previous remote developers who’d done work for him as well as later hearing the same about two subsequent employees.  He did it enough that he rated an article in the Florida Times-Union for his activities.  He’s now a cable installation tech in Anchorage, AK.  My guess is that Anchorage is probably as far as he could run away from his legal troubles back in Florida that didn’t require the use of a passport.  Lesson from that: if the employer is short, seems slimy and tries to impress upon you who his friends are to show big a wheel he is…be careful.  Narcissistic a-holes don’t much care about anyone but themselves.  I did contract work for another 3+ years after that without incident.  Long jobs, short jobs, one off jobs.  They all worked out and I did good work for them and they paid me what I was owed…which is really all I’m after.  But then I took a contract with a firm in Philadelphia earlier this year that made me recall why contracting can be such a racket.

Mustafa Sualp, a FABULOUS thieving douchebag

Damned shame closets don’t hold all the thieving douchebaggery in. Guess they’re not built for that.

Now, this firm, to be honest, appeared to be on the up and up.  It was a small, start-up like company who were providing assessment tools to the post-secondary education market (read: “colleges and universities”).  This time I actually flew up to Philadelphia to make the acquaintance of the owner and other folks I’d be working with.  They all, on the surface, seemed to be a nice group of people.  But a couple of things were apparent initially and became more ominous as time went by.  One of those things was the number of previous developers’ notes I was seeing in the codebase I was assigned to work on.  Now, keep in mind, the entire team was comprised of just 4 people (owner, project manager, database/network guy, lead CF dev) plus me but as I progressed through the code I saw notes in there from no less than 5 other devs who had worked on this code…within the previous 6 months…none of whom were still with the company.  Yes, that did ring alarm bells but not loud enough that I had reason to evacuate.  The other thing that happened was the announcement shortly after I started that the project manager would be leaving the company.  Now, this in and of itself wasn’t anything to be concerned about but she was, seriously, the only employee that knew anything about what was going on.  It became clear to me very early on that if she got hit by a bus or was somehow otherwise removed from the picture, that this company would struggle mightily.  Her reason for leaving though was even more suspect.  She was moving from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh for her husband’s job.  However, as I was doing MY job remotely and others (especially the owner) did much the same…why did she choose to not do her job from Pittsburgh remotely?  She easily could have but decided not to…and explicitly told me she didn’t have a job lined up in her new locale.  I don’t know about you but my family would find it difficult to get by on one income if we’d been relying on two…but this girl admitted it would be tough going and yet STILL didn’t seek to do her job remotely.  Third thing was the sudden “disappearance” of a remote developer they had who was in California.  One day up and quits responding to emails, Skype messages, everything…and nobody seemed at all concerned or surprised by it.  When most people go suddenly missing from their jobs, more often than not, it’s the employer who ends up calling someone to ask why such and such hadn’t been in to work recently.  Not so these folks.  The owner made a point of bringing it up during a telephone conference that he “was probably in jail” and had had other such occurrences before…except that this was news to both the lead dev and the database/network guy when I mentioned it later.  Anyway, long story shorter again, these folks called me one day to tell me to stop working despite the fact we had a contract that specified minimum guaranteed hours but when I asked if I should expect more work or if this was their way of ending the contract they said they’d have more work…it was only temporary.  Temporary, in this case, actually meant permanent and also apparently meant they’d decide to not pay me for the previous week of labor I’d provided.  They also decided to do this to their lead, in-house developer, as well and they stiffed him to the tune of around $15K.  The lesson I took from that: don’t wait until the warning signs are so piled up they’re like knocking over furniture before you make a move to protect yourself.

So, while those two were bad enough on their own, they had something in common: those assholes pretty much robbed me for their own gain.  However, something happened just this morning that makes me nostalgic for straight up crooks like that.  Recently, I entertained an opportunity to take on a FT developer role that I saw via LinkedIn on May 14 (that’d be just 3 weeks and some as of today).  I read the listing, knew I had the time and certainly the qualifications for the remote, telecommute position…so I applied and in short order I was interviewed and pretty much immediately offered the job.  Great right?  Well, on the surface you’d think so.  I mean, it’s a non-profit located in Maryland who caters to the education industry (something I already had a few years experience with).  The salary was low for my experience level but then again, I didn’t really take the job for the pay.  I took it for extra money and to stay gainfully occupied.  While they described their technical situation in terms that suggested they knew their application needed the kind of help I could lend it, it wasn’t until I actually got a look at their code and database that I realized the extent to which their product suffered.  For you non-devs out there (most of you, I think) the following paragraph of my admittedly subjective opinions will seem like Greek but believe me, this gets into nightmare territory dev-wise.

Quality Matters...somewhere else.

The only way this logo could be more ironic is if it was made with actual iron.

To begin, the application(s) they describe are actually one big application, not separated code-wise at all.  Crossover identity issues abound.  They move data around in the application via URL or form variables, both of which are ridiculously easy to hack and, for which, their code had nearly no validation or even any rudimentary protection whatsoever.  Further, while it was running on a relatively recent version of the server software I specialize in (ColdFusion) it was coded as though it had been written perhaps 10 years ago.  No concern with code organization, multiple redundant pages, absolutely zero use of any Object Oriented Programming, little code re-use, nothing to indicate that anyone who had looked at it had done so in the past decade or did so with any expertise whatsoever.  Potential SQL injection opportunities on practically every form page, easy to invoke looping race conditions, cross site scripting attacks…you name it and this application was ripe for it.  On top of that, as a new dev, I had no documentation, the code contained no commentary whatsoever, business logic was entirely contained in the CF code (as opposed to the more secure and more efficient database), data was stored with little regard to efficient retrieval and lookup tables?  Nah, who needs those when you can store all your data as single flat files?  And the cherry on top?  It’s all on one box.  Not just the database and codebase but the development environment as well as their production environment…all one box.  No versioning control software to be found either which means that if (when) their site is ever hacked, they have a snowball’s chance in hell of recovering the code and/or data and bringing up a restored box (and why mention the failover backup box when it doesn’t exist?).  In short, from a developer’s perspective, calling it a “challenge” was probably the nicest thing you could say about it.  But, as I gained access to their technical resources I resolved that I’d move methodically through this steaming turd of a Fisher Price application and, by God, make it better…and I was.

That is, until this past Friday.  Having cleared roughly 3/4 of the outstanding tech tickets in just 8 days and having only the ones that required greater business knowledge than I possessed remaining, I got an email Friday afternoon informing me that they were disappointed with the volume of my work product and had scheduled a performance evaluation for this morning.  Naturally, I was fired during that call today.  Keep in mind, this was but day 9 of my employment and only 7 days after I got access to their code and database.  I’d been given no goals, no expectations, nothing but tickets to work on and for which I had cleared all but the 4 I lacked the requisite business knowledge to address.  In short, I was fucking lied to this morning.  Nobody hires an employee, says nothing about their work performance in the interim and then fires them less than 2 weeks later.  I’m not all that broken up about not working further for such a schizophrenic and obviously dysfunctional imbecile like the woman I was reporting to but for crying out loud, at least be a prepared asshole when I question exactly what goals did I fail to meet.  The conversational equivalent of a shrug isn’t what qualifies a fat chick to be a CIO these days is it?  Somebody enlighten me some here.  I thought competence still had a spot in the American workplace.

Anyway, all of the above is merely my opinions on the companies involved (namely Patriot Information Systems which is unsurprisingly now defunct, AEFIS, Inc which will likely become defunct in the near future and Quality Matters which while the company name criminally abuses the definition of the word “irony” will likely stagger along like a drunk toddler for some more time) and shouldn’t be considered anything other than my right as a person relating anecdotal recollections of events I was involved in.  If any other devs wish to work for AEFIS or Quality Matters, I’ll be pleased to stand aside and watch you rush to your predictable reward.  After all, you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet…but some of it should cause prudent people pause.

My name is Euroranger and I approved this message.

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When winning is actually losing

Posted by Euroranger on June 6, 2013


Hell, he even has three more years…assuming we survive that long, that is.

This will be a very brief post because I figured that many of you may find yourselves in the same boat I found myself in earlier today.

I was reading the latest “scandal du jour” spawned from the magnificent leadership that is our President Barry when it struck me that I’d actually lost count of how many scandals this historical embarrassment of an administration has piled up.  To be entirely fair, lately they’ve been falling out of this administration’s diseased uterus at a rate that practically nobody could keep up with so much so that you almost want to keep a scorecard (or need a program) to make sure the newer ones don’t eclipse the importance of the older ones…lest we forget.

So, anyway, without further ado, let me throw down a list of the scandals that call this administration “home”:

  • The Blagojovokujojevich (or however you spell that walking hairpiece’s name) selling Barry’s Senate seat scandal
  • The Joe Sestak bribery/influence peddling scandal
  • The ignoring the Black Panthers voter intimidation scandal
  • The Solyndra scandal (and all those like it)
  • The Pigford scandal (the Agriculture Department money giveaway to minority farmers)
  • The Fast and Furious, ATF gun-running into Mexico scandal
  • AG Holder perjuring himself about the Fast and Furious scandal
  • The dozens of Obama recess appointments scandal(s)
  • The GSA, VA, HHS and IRS spending money like it was water scandals
  • The Benghazi, abandoning Americans to die so we don’t offend Muslims, scandal (as well as the subsequent lying about it)
  • The IRS suppressing political organizations with agendas contrary to those of the President scandal
  • The Justice Department seizing telephone records of the AP scandal
  • The Justice Department seizing work and personal telephone records for a Fox reporter because he helped publicize a story embarrassing to the administration scandal
  • AG Holder blatantly perjuring himself when he said he knew nothing about the Fox reporter investigation scandal
  • The EPA, Freedom of Information Act preferential-to-liberal-groups record requests scandal
  • …and finally, today’s scandal: the NSA conducting a massive internal surveillance program that would make the KGB nod proudly

This guy has only been in office just over 5 years now and the above list is hardly exhaustive.  I could have included Kathleen Sibelius being found to extort money from companies HHS would administer or her having violated the Hatch Act when she was blatantly campaigned for a Democrat candidate in North Carolina or even Barry’s own habit of executive rule changes, instructing federal agencies not to enforce laws passed by Congress and just, in general, acting like the laws of this country don’t apply to him (or to anyone in his administration, for that matter).  Add to that the coming Obamacare debacle as well as his absolutely disastrous debt spending campaign that have us in the hole to the tune of around $17T by now.

I guess what I’m saying is, for all my study of American history, you’d have to go pretty damned far back in our past to find an administration and president as absolutely corrupt and dismissive of the rule of law as this guy.  The real irony is that in 2008, the mass of young people who poured out of college campuses nationwide to support candidate Obama and vault him into the presidency were doing so because of what they perceived as Bush’s corruption.  Outside of playing it safe and relying on questionable intelligence that was a product of the Clinton years, what scandals can we collectively recall from the Bush years?  Sure as hell not this many.  That all said, while this president’s administration is ever more quickly revealing itself to be the most anti-American, anti-taxpayer and thoroughly corrupt administration in generations, there is one American who casts his gaze on all this shit…and smiles:

If you ever thought you’d live long enough to experience a president who made Jimmy Carter look good…you’re either the world’s best fortune teller or the world’s worst pessimist.

So anyway, there’s your Obama Scandal Scorecard…for those of you playing along at home and trying like hell to keep up.

My name is Euroranger and I approved this message.

Posted in On the web, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Your Memorial Day PSA

Posted by Euroranger on May 24, 2013


My backyard grill.  Magic occurs here frequently.

What a pinnacle grilling device looks like. Pictured here: a Weber Performer grill with metal deck, a chimney fire starter, Lawry’s Season Salt, black pepper, garlic powder, Mesquite wood chunks (lower left), bourbon neat. Not pictured here: gas bottles, a “barbeque”, indelible androgynous shame.

Memorial Day 2013 is nearly upon us and it’s time you were reminded what the holiday is all about.  First off, here in the U.S. we have two holidays that officially recognize those who served: Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day.  The difference is that Veterans’ Day honors all those who have donned the uniform for our country while Memorial Day honors those who not only donned the uniform but fell in service of our country.  I’d like to say it’s surprising how few people know the difference between the two but given the decrepit state of our educational system, I suppose it ought not be a huge shocker.  Anyway, having a holiday like Memorial Day at the end of May pretty much serves as the unofficial kickoff to the summer vacation season.  But more importantly, it is also kind of the official start of backyard grilling season and on that basis I’d like to take a moment to mention something I’ve become more aware of over the past few years:

Many of you have no frickin’ clue how to properly grill anything more complicated than a hotdog

Now, I know many of you sport a pair of balls and so you believe that you automatically know how to cook something on a grill.  Let’s just take a moment and test that myth with a quick quiz.  Please answer the following questions (we’ll give you an easy score chart at the end):

  • Do you own a gas grill?
  • When you use your grill do you ever refer to what you do with it as “barbecuing”?
  • Do you own and use something called a “barbecue fork”?
  • Do you own and use a poke thermometer to test the doneness of whatever it is you’re cooking on your grill?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, chances are, despite the technical presence of possibly functional testicles, you likely do not know either “jack” or “shit” about grilling.  You probably also have a favorite variety of wine that is NOT also a color, know the correct way to pronounce “Prius”, may wear clothing in a color that can be correctly described as “pastel” and probably regularly shave something on your body that isn’t your face.  The good news for you “fellas” is that these days you can get married in 12 states (as of last count)…so you have that going for you, I suppose.

But, I am a compassionate and helpful man and so, I am here to help even you fabulous fellas with guidance for how to grill this summer.  Now, if you’re a vegetarian, this PSA probably isn’t for you.  I mean, I have been known to grill corn, pineapple, asparagus, potatoes and other non-meat items on my grill…but that’s just a side benefit of my grill’s awesome powers.  It’s not the main reason for its existence.  No dear reader, a grill exists for a single purpose and that is to cook the flesh of tasty animals to a degree of doneness rendering a superior taste evolutionally irresistible to carnivores…a food chain club of which our species is a card carrying member.  So, enough with the build-up.  By now you’re asking “how can I become a master of grilling excellence”?  Read on and bask in the glow of the only male cooking genre that doesn’t require you to learn foreign words or wear silly clothes.

Tip 1: Your Grill – A great many of you might own something called a “gas grill”.  Now, to be clear, there are gas appliances that cook food and even do so in superior ways.  Those are not called “grills” though.  They are called “ovens”, “ranges” and “stoves” and the masters of those appliances are known as “women”.  Even women can learn to be superior grill masters but nobody can do so using a gas grill.  Grilling is fundamentally about three things: fire, smoke and meat.  Gas grills do provide the fire part but they have to be modified to produce the smoke part…ironically, by burning pieces of wood.  If you’re going to burn wood anyway, why not simply dispense with the gas grill altogether and go with a charcoal/wood grill?  That question really doesn’t require an answer because it’s rhetorical.  Grilling over wood and charcoal produces a superior taste to grilling with gas.  What’s more, some meats you grill will drip grease (via the rendering of fats found in the meats themselves).  In a charcoal grill, that grease falls onto coals which, in turn, burns and gets turned into smoke producing a pleasant aroma that flavors the meat.  In a gas grill though, that same grease drips onto a pan…where it remains.  That grease congeals into a fatty layer of slop on the bottom of your gas grill which is disgusting to say the least and which I find to be unsanitary.  Think of it: if the health department will cite a restaurant’s kitchen for grease buildup…what makes you think the same is okay in your grill?  Sure, you can clean it out of your grill but that’s more work, it’s nasty and it defeats the sole benefit that gas grills tend to boast of: speed of cooking.  Further, cooking over charcoal/wood simply results in a better taste.  You can debate that if you like but there is a word for your opinion on this point and that word is “wrong”.  So, in conclusion, you need to use a charcoal/wood grill.

Cuts of beef chart

Helps to know what part of the steer your steak comes from. Generally speaking, you want something from the top, mid back.

Tip 2: Your Meat – You CAN cook a great many things on a backyard grill but the one item you must master to be considered a grill master is steak.  The skill of consistently producing superior grilled steaks is one that comes with practice (not as much as you’d think) but it starts with what it is you’re actually trying to grill.  You can grill any cut or thickness of beef steaks on a grill but what we’ll use here for instructional purposes is what you typically think of as the main course when ordering at a steak house.  As most of us know, there are around a brazillion different cuts of steak.  You can go expensive (think: filet mignon, Porterhouse, etc), you can go middle of the road (eg: sirloin, round steak, rib steak) and you can go as cheap as you like.  What makes a steak good (my opinion here) is tenderness and taste.  Tenderness is best found (unless you use a meat tenderizer which I won’t go into here and never use) in cuts from the short loin and the rib with some coming from the sirloin.  Cuts from those parts can be thicker and juicier.  The other thing to know about beefsteak is that meat that is better marbled (muscle tissue interspersed with fat) tends to be more tender and tasty.  Incidentally, what makes a steak taste like a steak is the fat.  When cooked, fats render down to grease which is what moisturizes the meat as it cooks and it’s what provides flavor.  Therefore, your leanest cuts of beef, while indeed lower in fat and attendant cholesterol, typically won’t taste as good.  It’s generally agreed that the best cut of steak to grill is a ribeye steak or a T-bone steak.  So, to have a superior end product, you need a superior starting product.  Don’t go cheap on the meat.

Tip 3: Your Prep/Cooking – Now, there are a lot of ways out there in the world for how to do grilling “right”.  I don’t tend to tell anyone their way of doing things is wrong but there are a few tips you’ll hear that I’ll disagree with.  I’ll mention those as we go as I describe what I consider to be the essentials for grilling a good steak.  First off, you may have noticed in the first picture something I called a chimney starter.  There are two main ways to start a proper charcoal fire: with lighter fluid and via chimney starter.  Using fluid, you pile your charcoal into a pyramid shaped mound on the lower, burner grate in the grill, douse liberally with starter fluid (which tends to be mineral spirits or other volatile liquid) which you then light with a match.  The fluid ignites within and on the outside of the pile of coals and, visually, appears to burn out.  Much the same happens in a chimney starter to this point: you fill the starter with charcoal, loosely ball up two pieces of newspaper and place them under the chimney and light the paper.  In either case, enough heat is generated by the initial burning medium (fluid or paper) to create enough heat to ignite the lowest coals in either the pile or chimney.  Those coals, in turn, light the ones above and in a short time you will have flames popping up from the top of your pile/chimney.  At this point, you spread your lit coals out and try to even out the heat across the surface of the spread.  One tip I like to mention: if you want to cook more than one thing on the grill (like say for instance, mushrooms or corn or potatoes or whatever else) you may want to have parts of the grill that are hotter and parts that are cooler.  Because different things on a grill will cook at different speeds, you may want a cooler part of the grill to move things to in case they finish before the rest.  Also, some things you may not want to cook as “hard” or as fast as others so you place them over the cooler part of the grill.  You make hotter and cooler parts of the grill simply by piling your lit coals higher in some places (for more heat) and thinner in others (for less heat).  When your coals have a more of less uniform grey ash on them, you’re ready to grill.  Anyway, let’s get back to meat.

Preparing a steak for grilling is fairly simple and requires that you remember a few basic things:

  • You want your steaks to be fully thawed to room temperature before they go on the grill
  • You can season a steak with whatever you like but, for a true steak taste, try keeping it to salt, pepper and maybe a small dash of other things (garlic powder, cumin, etc).  Good steak doesn’t need its taste drowned by too many spices/flavorings.
  • Salt…there is such a thing as too much.  Also, salting the steak too much and too early can see the salt draw out moisture from the meat…usually something you want to avoid.
  • Retaining moisture in the meat is one of your larger goals when cooking a steak.  Therefore, “tenderizing” it by beating the unholy hell out of it or perforating it with a fork will break down the muscle tissues of the meat and allow the fat contained therein to leak out as it renders to grease as you cook it thus drying out your steak.

Outside of that, steak prep is pretty much up to personal tastes.  I prefer to keep my seasonings simple and basic for good cuts of meat and I’ll add something extra if the cuts are less prime.  You WILL hear people talk about applying oil to your meat before it hits the grill.  The concept here is to keep the meat from sticking to the grill surface itself.  Personally speaking, unless you’re going to use an oil with an exceptionally high smoke point, I don’t think the trade off of taste for not sticking to the grill is worth it.  What I tend to do to make sure the meat doesn’t stick to the grill when I put it on is to use tongs to move the meat a few moments after I set it on the grill and then close the lid.  The heat from the coals will sear the parts of the meat that weren’t touching the grate itself and those seared parts don’t stick nearly as easily to the grill.  5-10 seconds is all it takes, move the meat once and you should be good.  Some purists complain that this messes up the “grill marks”.  I choose to call those people “idiots”.  It’s about taste not tan lines.

Steak doneness chart

Use this handy steak doneness chart to know what people mean when you ask them “how do you like your steak”? DON’T print this. Memorize it then disavow you ever saw it. Men are supposed to just know this shit.

The next major question is: how “done” do you want your steak.  Doneness is nothing more than a combination of heat and time versus steak thickness.  If you waited for your coals to turn grey then your fire will be somewhere in the range of 325° and 425°.  This is the ideal temperature range for grilling steak.  Too hot and it tends to sear the outside of the meat leaving the interior raw and too cool and you take much longer to cook your steak and the meat will be done to a uniform doneness.  How done you like your meat then is something you want to experiment to find.  I prefer my steaks medium rare which means they acquire a decent sear with some charring on the outside while retaining a hot but reddish pink center.  However, how do you really know when your steak is “done” to your liking.  This is more art than science.  There are those who will suggest you use a meat thermometer and poke it into your steak to get an interior temperature measurement.  This is one of those cases where science just doesn’t cut it.  All poking holes in your steak will do is to let the rendered fat, in the form of grease, leak out of the meat carrying all the taste and moisture with it.  For this same reason, NEVER USE A “BARBECUE FORK” ON A STEAK ON A GRILL.  Invest in a good pair of tongs and a large spatula if you must maneuver your grilling meat.  And that’s something else: once you get accustomed to grilling a steak you should truly aim for only ever touching it twice once it’s on the grill.  Touch it once to flip it, a second time to remove it from the grill because it’s done…and nothing else.  Continually flipping a steak means you keep taking the lid off the grill.  Why does that matter?  The lid retains the heat of the grill which means that you’re also cooking the side that’s not facing the coals when the lid is on.  This speeds cooking time but it also keeps the temperature as constant as possible because the lid limits the amount of air that gets to the coals.  More air = hotter coals = higher temperature under one side while there is cooler temps on the other.  Continually opening the lid and flipping the meat also cuts way into your drinking and socializing time and makes you look nervous and clueless.  Keep in mind: grilling is also about male image, capability and confidence.

So, that’s NOT how to tell when your steak is done but how DO you know when to pull it off?  I tend to press a finger or one of the tines of the my tongs to the  middle surface of the steak after I flipped it.  The degree the meat springs back tells you how done it is inside.  Hard to press or springs back instantly means it’s well done (also the jet black char and cracking sound the meat makes when you touch it should be a dead giveaway).  If the meat has some give in it it’s less than well done and if it’s mushy as hell then it’s practically raw and you’re way too anxious.  Also, keep in mind, if you remove the steak too soon and discover it’s not cooked enough to your liking, you can always put it back on the grill for a few minutes but you can’t uncook a steak that is too well done.  Just something to remember: err on the side of rare.

Tip 4: After (aka: “Taking Your Victory Lap”) – So, you’ve successfully lit your grill, acquired a decent cut of meat, prepped and seasoned it the way you like and even managed to grill it to a state you intended all the while looking suave and in masculine control.  Time to eat, right?  Wrong.  Steak needs to “rest” once it comes off the grill.  This means, you need to let the grilled steaks sit at least 5-10 minutes before cutting into them.  Although you’ve taken the meat off the heat, there is still heat contained within the steak and it continues to cook inside a bit even after you’ve taken it off.  The juices inside the meat are still very fluid and moving around (migrating from the more cooked exterior toward the less cooked interior) and they’re not bound into the meat fibres still because of the overall temperature.  Allowing the steak to rest for a few minutes lets the juices be reabsorbed somewhat by the meat.  This means a juicier and tastier eating experience.  I usually place my steaks onto a large edged plate or a sided pan and then cover them with tinfoil.  The side benefit is that me appearing with the meat means my wife knows she has about 5-10 minutes to complete the remainder of the meal before we start eating.  It also gives you a chance to clean up a bit, close down the grill, retrieve or refresh your drink and bask in the adulation of other appreciative adults complimenting your superior grill master skills.

Final tip: try your steak without any new salt, pepper, steak sauces and so on.  I myself like the occasional A1 or Heinz 57 with beef…but if you grilled a good cut of beef and did it correctly, the beef on its own should be tasty indeed and not requiring flavoring.  If you didn’t perforate it, cooked it to reasonable doneness and allowed it to adequately rest, your steak should be juicy and flavorful (unless you carbonized it cooked it well done…in which case, it’ll taste like charred wood) and will earn you the compliments of your family and guests and continue to establish you as the alpha male in your household.  There is something male affirming about being able to take meat and fire and turn those two into a desirable meal…even if you drove a pastel Prius to go buy your “buddies” a wedding gift at Crate and Barrel.

My name is Euroranger and I approved this message.

 

Posted in Barbecue, Holidays, Leisure | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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