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What Planet Are These People On?

Periodically, in my wanderings on the Internet, I find myself asking what planet people are on. Today brings a bumper crop of these questions.

1) Donald "The Orange Rage" Trump posted several Tweets overnight about Alicia Machado. Now, here on Planet Earth (3rd rock from the sun), an overweight 70-year-old man with three wives, the most recent of which is younger than some of his children would (at least) shut up about Machado. He might even apologize. He would not launch a 3 ayem rant about her on Twitter. Talk about not being ready for the "3 AM phone call."

2) Related to the above, the commentary on several conservative sites has been "Hillary set Trump up." This may be true, but here on Planet Earth (3rd rock from the sun) if you know something's a setup you don't fall into the trap. Actually, that's true even on Admiral Ackbar's planet.

3) Over on the site ran by Wily E. Coyote, SuperGenius (tm) (just ask him, he'll tell you how smart he is) I see a lengthy post about how Trump "avoided the minefield of defeating Hillary Clinton in the first presidential debate." Spanking is involved. That may play on some planets, but here on Planet Earth (3rd rock from the sun) it's not.

4) Also on the Coyote's site, there's a long post about how the US couldn't impose a no-fly zone in Syria but how Hillary's supporters want us to. Here on Planet Earth (3rd rock from the sun) I see no real appetite for any expansion of our (modest) role in Syria.

Three For Thursday

Three thoughts, one head, one day.

Thought #1

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you to hear Trump said X and did Y. How Donald Trump's company violated the US trade embargo with Cuba.

Thought #2

On Facebook, somebody was saying that Scott Adam's endorsement of Donald Trump was the realization that Adams thought Dogbert was the hero of the strip. No, Dilbert is the hero. But Dilbert is the "angry white male" who likes Trump. In Dilbert's (and Adam's) mind, if people like the pointy-haired boss would just get out of the way, Dilbert would be great. What is missed is the answer to the question "if Dilbert is so good why isn't he the boss?"

Thought #3

Today is the last day to enter and win a free copy of my novel The Night Watch. You can also read an interview of me at the link.

Sorry, No

At Monday's Presidential debate, Donald Trump was taken to task for fat-shaming one Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe in Trump's beauty pageant. After the debate, Trump did his usual doubling down on his statements. Various of his supporters have been accusing Machado of being a porn star and/or a murderer and/or facilitating illegal immigration. Sorry, but as this site says, "Alicia Machado could be the worst person on planet Earth, but the fact remains that her behavior has nothing to do with the Trump's character or lack thereof."


Denial is not just a river in Egypt

So long-time Trump fan Scott Adams finally "officially" is endorsing Donald Trump. He's been "officially" endorsing Clinton "for his personal safety" while explaining to the world what a wonderful fellow Trump is. Perhaps obviously, color me unimpressed.

At any rate, the official reasons for this Radical Sea Change are:
1) Clinton wants to hike the estate tax and take Scott's money.
2) Nobody knows how to defeat ISIS.
3) Trump people are going to party if he wins - Clinton's won't.
4) Clinton's not healthy.
5) Trump "paces and leads" or "Once Trump has established himself as the biggest bad-ass on the topic, he is free to “lead,” which we see him do by softening his deportation stand..."

To which my responses are:
1) Good
2) Actually, looks to me we're doing as well as we can against ISIS without committing ground forces
3) Huh?
4) Bullshit
5) Possibly, or more likely Trump has no idea what he's doing and is talking out of his ass.



It's been a rough week.


I Changed My Mind

I changed my mind. I was going to write a rant about how conservatives need guns to defend against government tyranny but when a cop hassles a civilian the conservative is automatically defending the cop. I decided that rant didn't need to be written.

So, instead, have a funny picture.


Truths About Terrorism

This article was written a long time ago, when Bin Laden was still alive. It is, however, just as relevant today with ISIS as it was back then: Terrorist Strategy 101: A Quiz

The two most relevant points:

1) "The first and biggest obstacle to your victory [your = the terrorist] is that the vast majority of the people who sympathize with your issue are not violent extremists. They may agree with you in principle. They may even sound like violent extremists late at night over their beverage of choice. But when the hammer comes down, they won't be there."

2) "In radicalizing your apathetic sympathizers, you have no better ally than the violent extremists on the other side. Only they can convince your people that compromise is impossible. Only they can raise your countrymen's level of fear and despair to the point that large numbers are willing to take up arms and follow your lead. A few blown up apartment buildings and dead schoolchildren will get you more recruits than the best revolutionary tracts ever written."

Thought of the Day

Stolen from somebody - I just can't remember whom.

I should point out too that "not mission-critical" is not equivalent to "freeloader we are better off without". Maybe a lot of us can't tell the difference?

If the guy who empties the trash cans takes a sick day, he is not mission-critical and the organization does not shut down its other work. That doesn't mean you don't need someone to empty the trash cans. It just means that emptying trash cans is the not primary purpose of the organization.

Keep Calm and Carry On

It's becoming clear that the latest pressure-cooker bomber is frankly an idiot.

One Internet commentor said (in full - emphasis mine): I appreciate your latest post about how many mistakes the alleged perpetrator made, and we are all extremely thankful that he was as bad at this as he was. But that's not an accident.

Good intelligence work, good police work, more aware citizenry and other measures set up since 9/11 have limited -- for now, and hopefully far into the future -- the ability of major terrorist plots to get off the ground in the US. Major cells get disrupted, chatter on social media leads to arrests, and then great police work over this past weekend gets the bad guy in no time. There simply isn't any scope for large-scale, mass-casualty events at the moment in the US. Our strategy is working. It is impossible to prevent every idiot with an internet connection and a pressure cooker from blowing something up. What we can do -- and are doing -- is make sure that the numbers are limited, the major plots don't happen, and the casualties are kept to a minimum. Fear and chaos are not the answer. We are winning this war.

Not all wars end formally. Sometimes they just peter out.

Thoughts from The Land of the Brave

From the Land of the Brave

I'm glad to see that here in the Land of the Brave we get wall-to-wall TV coverage every time some mope puts a pipe bomb in a trash can. Would that we get half of that for the 50+ people shot and killed every day.

Culture Update

Over the weekend, I took in the very funny play Don't Dress for Dinner. It's a sex farce, very amusingly done by the local Buffalo Theatre Ensemble who perform at College of DuPage.

Hillbilly Elegy

Also over the weekend, I read Hillbilly Elegy. It's by J. D. Vance, a second-generation hillbilly who grew up in Ohio. The book is a case study in why some people (black or white) seem to stay impoverished: they lack the skills and social support to do anything but be poor. It served as a refresher lesson to me - others may find it new information.

On Marketing Books

As I may have told y'all once or twice or fifty-seven times, I have a new book out, and have re-released two older books in New, Improved and Shiny editions. (All books available for purchase here.)

In the process of attempting to collect reviews for those books, I have done two Free Book Giveaways via Amazon. I (tried to) give away 10 copies of The Night Watch with a week-long event. I only ended up giving away seven. Then I tried to give away five copies of The Mars Run and all five went in as many hours.

I have no point to this ramble except to say I'm baffled. If and when I figure out a way to sell books, I'll let you know.


Just Go Read This

So, in lieu of content, I refer you to this fascinating piece: So you think you can fake your own death?

There's a book idea or two in there...


Update and Random Thoughts


Yesterday I made a one-day business trip to eastern Tennessee. It involved an oh-dark-thirty wake up call to catch the dawn patrol flight to Nashville, an hour's drive, and a late evening return to Chicago. I seriously considered flying in the night before, but that would have meant a night in a chain motel and a dinner at a chain restaurant. In short, six of one or a half dozen of the other. In any event, I'm back in the saddle.

Random Thoughts

1) Via various news sources (use your own Google) former general and Secretary of State Colin Powell is quoted has having said in email that the Benghazi affair was a witch hunt. He was also quoted (a sentiment I agree with) as saying the problem was our Ambassador thought the Libyan people loved him (which they may have) and thus he was safe (obviously not).

2) Again via various sources comes news that the Trump charitable "foundation" was yet another scam. Trump collected other people's money, used same to write checks to other charities while siphoning off as much as possible to pay family and buy junk for himself. The technical term for such conduct is "felony fraud" and usually earns one an orange jumpsuit.

3) Over at Wright's House of Wrong, the proprietor quotes Chesterton on the loss of honor due to the South's defeat in the Civil War. I am gobsmacked to note that the entire just under 2000 word article has not one mention of "slavery" in it.

Day 2 of the Clinton Death Watch

As we breathlessly enter Day 2 of the Clinton death watch (careful - don't get any of that sarcasm on your clothes - it doesn't wash out easy) I find that everything I want to say about Mrs. Clinton's health was said here. Money quote:

That said, the Clinton campaign can be faulted for this: if they knew she had pneumonia on Friday, they should probably have admitted that and gotten in front of the story. There is no way for a 68-year-old human being with pneumonia to hide it and power through a packed campaign schedule. As usual with the Clinton camp, it’s not the substance of problems that hurt her, but rather the guarded secrecy with which she and her advisers handle them. It hurts her more than it helps her in the long run, and turns mole hills into mountains.

Regarding arguments, online or otherwise, about the issue:

(Source: http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/duty_calls.png)

How Slanders Start

So, at the 9/11 memorial service today, Hillary Clinton got overheated and left early. Video at the link shows her stumbling into her van. To me, somebody who's stood in formation in a dress uniform on a hot day, it looked like she locked her knees while waiting for the van. When that happens, one usually ends up facedown on the ground. The Secret Service, doing what they're paid to do, caught her and loaded her up.

Various experts on the Internet, based on this 18 second video, have decided that she's dying. Of what, they don't say. The idea that somebody in a dark suit on an 80-degree day might just actually get overheated seems to be impossible. Of course, many of them have never stood in a formation. I have, and it can happen to anybody.

Friday Follies

Thanks to a nap, a solid night of sleep and modern pharmaceuticals, I feel almost human today. Since they've been accumulating, let's have some links:

1) WaPo: Trump Camp Built Up Robust DC Policy Shop, Let It Die Of Neglect I am shocked, shocked I tell you to learn that Donald Trump would hire people and then not actually pay them.

2) I bought and enjoyed a previous anthology from these folks, so I encourage you to contribute: ZNB is at it again with 3 new anthologies with the themes of Robots, Water, and Death! Join us for another great adventure!

3) Presented without comment: The Tree That Was Arrested.

4) I'm told that my grandparents eloped and got married in Eagle River, Wisconsin. Had they been English, they would have gone to Gretna Green, Scotland.

5) Back in Ye Olde Dayes, when you went grocery shopping the clerk filled your order. When I was a kid in small town Illinois, there was still an old-style grocery store that my mother would send me to on my bike to pick up lunchmeat. You can thank Piggly Wiggy for the modern supermarket.


My allergies are in full uproar, and I'm currently in the "cough my lungs up" phase of the attack. Wit and wisdom are currently on hold.


The Things You Learn at Writer's Workshop

My writer's workshop held their monthly meeting last night. As a result of a discussion of a plot point in my book, I asked the five attendees "if a gun fell in your lap, could you get bullets for it?" All five said yes, even though only two of them had FOID cards, which are legally required in Illinois to own firearms or ammunition.

Back to the drawing board on that plot point. And this, folks, is why you should have a writer's group.


Back to Work

A couple of thoughts on the occasion of going back to work after Labor Day.

Thought #1 - Dragon Awards

The Dragon Awards were announced over the weekend. Congratulations to the winners listed here. The list is not whom I would have picked, but it's not the first or the last time somebody wins an award I didn't agree with. (Ask me about Hugo-winner The Windup Girl.)

Thought #2 - Why Labor Day

In most of the world, the holiday for labor is May 1. We celebrate Labor Day in September because the Communists had claimed May 1.

Thought #3 - A Good Book

I was a member of the Kickstarter for the new anthology Alien Artifacts. I read my copy over the weekend and enjoyed it immensely. I highly recommend you getting a copy.

(recycled from my Linkedin page):

It's important to understand why a rule exists, so you can decide if it's okay to break it or not.

Case in point: I was out at a local chain restaurant (I won't name it - the name is not important) and eating at the bar as I usually do at that location. Two guys came up and tried to order drinks and the bartender, a long-time and usually very helpful employee, refused them. The manager was called, and after a short discussion the men got their drinks. It turns out that their party had already been given a seat in the restaurant section, and the rules required that they order drinks from their table's waitstaff.

Now, what the bartender (who was upset at getting overruled by the manager) didn't understand was why the rule about order from your server was in place. It was in place simply to prevent people from running a "but Mom said" scam and getting free drinks. (They tell the bartender "put it on the table's tab" and the waiter "I paid at the bar" and the drinks end up on neither tab.)

Now, had the bartender understood why this rule was in place, the fix would be "sure, but you'll have to pay me as you go." As it happens, the men had cash in hand, so that shouldn't have been an issue.

The alternative solution would have been for the rule to be, "if the customer is at a table, anybody else who serves them collects the amount due immediately." Although given that some customers would wonder about that, (they always do) again, explaining why the rule was in place would allow whomever got asked a way to gracefully handle it. ("Sure thing, sir / ma'am, but I can't put it on your tab, you'll have to pay me now.")

The "why" of a rule is as important as the "what" of a rule.

Comment Policy

This is the personal blog of Chris Gerrib, and all opinions expressed here are solely his own. Commenters are welcome; however please be polite to me and my other readers. I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, inappropriate or otherwise objectionable at my sole discretion. The opinions expressed in a comment are not necessarily mine, and if I do not delete a comment that should not be construed as my agreement with the commenter.

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