Monthly Archives: December 2016

Truth

A Few More Inconvenient Truths

Race

  • FACT: For humans “race” is a social construct and is meaningless biologically because we are all of the same subspecies Homo sapiens sapiens.
  • FACT: We white people only make up about 1/5 of the world’s population. In global terms we are actually a minority – the Chinese outnumber us by a lot.

Religion

  • FACT: We Christians only make up about 1/3 of the world’s population, although we are the largest religion.
  • FACT: Our Christian forebears decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ during the winter even though he was born in warmer weather for one reason: To take over all of the “pagan” Yule and Solstice rituals that had been celebrated for centuries, if not millennia.
    • FACT: There is no war on Christmas. If anything, Pagans could claim that there is an ongoing war on Yule.

Government

  • FACT: Russia, Syria, China, and North Korea all have state-run television that warps the news in order to keep their people ignorant and themselves in power.
    • FACT: Misinformation is one of the favored methods of keeping power by dictators throughout history.
    • FACT: Kim Jong-il and Bashar al-Assad do it because they are dictators who oppress their people.
      • FACT: Bashar al-Assad has been “President” for 16 years, and took over the office from his father who had been “President” since 1971. In 2014 Assad was “elected” to another 7-year term in what should have been the first real Presidential election in Syria since the 1963 and 1966 coups that instituted the current monarchy.
      • FACT: Vladimir Putin has likewise alternated between President and Prime Minister for the past 16 years.
    • THEORY: Putin does it because he wants to be a czar rather than a president, which is why he fights to prop up dictators like Assad.
  • FACT: Russia did invade Crimea.
    • THEORY: I think Putin did it so that he will have a larger empire once he finally declares himself Czar.
  • FACT: The Russians did try to interfere with the US Presidential election by discrediting Hillary Clinton.
    • FACT: It could not have been done without Putin knowing about it; he may have even ordered it, but we don’t know for sure.
    • THEORY: Putin thinks Trump is like-minded and will help him cement power.

Climate Change

  • FACT: Climate change is real, and if we don’t curb our fossil fuel dependency the planet will become unlivable, leading to the extinction of the human race.
  • FACT: Since corporations generally only care about profits, the only way to save the planet is by enforcing strict environmental regulations.
  • FACT: The supply of fossil fuels is limited, so there will come a day when we will be forced to give them up anyway. Current estimates suggest that day could come as soon as 2050 at current usage. If we step up production like Trump wants to then our supplies won’t even last that long.
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The True Meaning of Christmas

To get it out of the way: there is no “war on Christmas.” Our Christian forebears decided to adapt the existing “pagan” Yule and Winter Solstice festivities to the celebration of the birth of Christ even though He was born in warmer weather. While Jesus is certainly my reason for the season, that is not true for everyone.

So if Jesus isn’t what Christmas is all about, then what is? Ask a dozen people and you may get two dozen answers, but there are two things at the root of the winter holiday season all over the world.

The first is simply spending time with the people you love. We have huge meals, parties, and widespread families like mine traveling sometimes long distances in order to spend a few days together. Even if it’s just a newlywed couple or a few single friends taking a day off just to hang out, the crucial thing is time – time with the people we love most, or with those who need our love the most, which leads in to the other common element that binds us.

The second universal theme is the spirit of giving, as personified by Santa Claus. “Old City Bar” (yt) from Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s first album Christmas Eve and Other Stories demonstrates it really well, and as a result remains one of my favorite Christmas songs even two decades later. The album is about an angel who is sent to Earth to find something to give God to show what Jesus’ birth means to people two millennia later.

(Bit of trivia: One place he visits is war-torn Sarajevo during the events of Savatage’s Dead Winter Dead, which tells of the civil war of the early ’90s, and is the origin of TSO’s most famous song, “Christmas Eve (Sarajevo 12/24)”. Even if you don’t like metal, DWD is worth a listen just for its message.)

The angel finally makes his way to NYC on Christmas Eve, where a girl stands in the snow next to a payphone across the street from the titular bar. The bartender, encouraged by the angel disguised as a child, empties the register then crosses the street. After talking to the girl for a minute, he gives her the money and puts her in a cab to JFK airport. Back inside he is so changed a man that drinks are on the house for the rest of the night.

The part that makes it so special is this:

If you want to arrange it
This world you can change it
If we could somehow make this
Christmas thing last

By helping a neighbor
Or even a stranger
And to know who needs help
You need only just ask

Imagine what the world would be like if we really could “make this Christmas thing last”.

America’s Founders Demand We Overthrow It

Now that I have your attention, let me explain why we Americans may well be duty-bound to peacefully replace our government in the near future.

If Emperor Trump and the Republican Congress attempt a coup like the current attack NC’s Congress is making on those of us they are supposed to serve, the founding fathers say we are morally obligated to overthrow the government through peaceful means. The Declaration of Independence explicitly demands it (emphasis mine):

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

One badly needed change is that the Electoral College needs to go. It was included in the Constitution as a compromise because some of our founding fathers didn’t think that most property-owning white men (the only people who could vote) were competent to actually choose a president – they didn’t want the masses involved in the process at all. These days every adult citizen has the right to vote, and there is unprecedented access to information about the candidates, so the Electoral College is now a completely unnecessary and, as our latest election shows, seriously flawed anachronism that should have been dispensed with decades ago.

Some people argue against eliminating the Electoral College by saying that “the founding fathers knew what they were doing.” Those people have apparently not actually read the US Constitution, because Article V details how to amend it, which has already been done 27 times. The single greatest thing about our founding fathers is that they knew they didn’t know everything, but did their best and planned ahead so that future generations could fix any problems that arose.

What’s Up With Markdown?

You can now use Markdown for comments on this blog just like I use it for posts. If you already know Markdown, you can stop reading now. For everyone else, here’s a crash course in the syntax you’ll be most likely to need in a comment (but Markdown can do much, much more).

Markdown Result
*Italics* Italics
*Bold* Bold
> Blockquote

Blockquote

* Item 1
* Item 2
    Bullet List

  • Item 1
  • Item 2
1 Item 1
2 Item 2
    Numbered List

  1. Item 1
  2. Item 2
[Link Title](http://startpage.com) Link Title

Replacing Windows’ Ribbon UI

Or: Take the Ribbon From Windows 10

Here’s the process in a nutshell, at the top for easy reference for those of us with memory problems; I discuss it below:

  1. Navigate to \WINDOWS\System32
  2. Take Ownership of UIRibbon.dll – That link is Microsoft’s official method, which works fine if you only need it for this process after major updates, but gets tiresome if you have to do it frequently. The easier method involves a one-time registry hack that will add “Take Ownership” to Explorer’s context menu. Always be careful with Registry hacks, because screwing up your registry could make your computer unstable, or even unbootable. This is where I got the hack, and have been using it for more than a year with no problems.
  3. Add “.bak” to the end of it, confirming the popup asking for administrator permission
  4. Log out or reboot

Alternatively, Winaero has a Ribbon Disabler app for Windows 8 and 10 that should make the process effortless. I have used other Winaero apps without issue for many months, but always forget about this one when I need it, so I haven’t tried it yet and therefore can’t comment on it.


Does the ribbon toolbar in Windows 8/10’s File Explorer (or “Windows Explorer” as it’s known to us old farts) annoy you? Do you, like me, have mental or physical disabilities that make ribbons difficult, frustrating, or even impossible to use? (They actually hinder me quite a lot, reducing rather than increasing productivity.) Are you unable to use a mouse for long or at all, making it so that you need menus that can be easily navigated with the keyboard?

Whatever the case, getting a more standard menu in Explorer is simple, but does require a bit of hacking, as detailed above. You always need to be careful with system hacks, because you can cause a great deal of damage if you aren’t careful. That said, I have used this method at least a dozen times since upgrading to Win 10, and there have been no problems.

The better fix is to make Microsoft realize how important it is that they simply make the ribbon optional by including it in Folder Options. There’s already an option there for “Always show menus”, so it seems like it would be easy to add “Use Ribbon UI”. Tell them so through as many channels as you can – MS support, Twitter, facebook. I have already seen accessibility upgrades in Win10, like the return of the Start Menu’s search function, so if enough people speak up about this issue, they may well do something about it.