If you want to know the official Russian propaganda position on just about everything, watch RT TV. It's fascinating. Time-Warner now includes RT TV in its cable package! I also get the channel on Roku.
I'm not assuming anything here, or accusing anybody of anything, but the outlook and language of RT TV is virtually indistinguishable from MSNBC.
On RT TV, the U.S. interest in the Middle East is seen as purely a quest for power and an intrusion into what the Russians consider their rightful sphere of interest.
Of course, the conceit of RT TV is that Russia is a visionary democratic state, just as the former Soviet Union always advertised itself. Russia is very far from being a visionary democratic state.
It is, however, quite interesting to hear the ruthless criticism of the U.S. from what is, once again, an enemy... Russia. Russian criticism of the U.S., and U.S. criticism of Russia, is probably closer to the truth than the official propaganda of either side.
Now that I've switched from an old iPad to a new iPad Mini Retina with cell/wifi accessibility, it's time to buy some accessories. You thought the tablet was all you had to buy? Get serious! First, I'm thinking of buying a bluetooth headset so that it's easier to use my iPad Mini as a phone, particularly in my car.
I think I'll buy the above Plantronics M50 headset. So many electronic gizmos to account for every time I get in the car! I don't want to use a set of headphones with two earplugs because the wires always get incredible tangled.
Wouldn't you know that Apple would change the size of the charger for the iPad Mini so that my iPad car charger doesn't work? So, I gotta buy a new one!
So far, no big expenditures. Twenty bucks here, twenty bucks there.
Also, I need some kind of mount for my truck so that it's easier to use my iPad Mini as a GPS. I like this one, manufactured by iOttie.
I also use my iPad Mini as a prompter when I'm onstage. I tape it to the top of my electronic keyboard. Old Dawgz do forget lyrics!
A company called Airturn produces a foot pedal gizmo that will turn sheet music pages on an iPad. Don't know if one of these stomp pedals exists for an iPad Mini Retina.
I'm about to cancel my subscription to Time Warner Cable. Reducing a monthly bill is my primary motivation. I also want to eliminate a distraction, which would be those 1,000 channels of crap.
I don't have that much time left. 10 years of good health, mostly likely, ahead of me. Filling up my time with whatever's on cable... why do I need to do that?
Streaming video through my Roku appliance gets me most of what I want to watch that is worth my time. That would be documentaries, nature programs and movies. News is everywhere on the internet. I can wait until the next morning to watch O'Reilly's Talking Points.
Here's what only the cable companies now offer... NFL games and big time college basketball and football. My alma mater sells its games, via the Big Ten Network, to Time Warner and the other big cable companies. Is that content worth 160 bucks a month? The answer is a resounding "no!"
I think that that content will become available on a subscription basis to non-cable subscribers in the future. I'll go without until it does. The major playoff games in the pros and college can be viewed at a sports bar or at the gym or at a friend's house.
I'll be losing what I call my "landline" phone, which also transmits via Time Warner's co-axial cable. My cell phone number will become my only phone number. It will take a while to get that message out there. Now that I'm retired, I don't receive a lot of phone calls.
I want my time to be focused on useful and satisfying pursuits. I don't have a lot of time left. Sitting there vacantly watching whatever comes on the cable TV channel can wait for the nursing home.
Who isn't fed up with paying for cable TV? I subscribe to Time Warner. 1000 channels of crap for $160 a month. Of course that includes internet and phone. So, I'm looking for a way to buy only the programming that I want, and to be able to use my TV as, essentially, a projection screen for internet video.
The three main contenders in the internet streaming marketplace are Ruko, Chromecast and Amazon Fire. Each produce a box or stick that connects to an HDMI port on your TV.
I tried out Chromecast over the past few days. It is very easy to install and to set up. I had the whole thing running in 30 minutes. Then, an unanticipated problem asserted itself.
Chromecast provides very limited programming. All of these streaming video appliances work on the app model. If you want Netflix, there's an app for that. Same for YouTube. Chromecast offers very few apps. So, it is an adjunct to cable TV, not a replacement.
I want specific types of programming. Netflix covers movies, badly. They don't update their catalog often, so their offerings are outdated. Sports programming, specifically Fighting Illini and Cubs games, are big issues. I have a limited interest in NBA and NFL games. Nature documentaries are good. And, that's really all the programming I want. Chromecast's apps don't come close to covering this.
So, the really important issue in streaming video is not the tech appliance... it's the availability of programming. Here, Roku is the winner. It offers a voluminous catalog of over 1,500 apps. Conspiculously missing, however, is an app for the Big Ten Network and the NFL. So, none of these appliances are going to stream Fighting Illini football and basketball
Brian, The Bulldawg, my Old Dawg brother, got hitched to Coleen yesterday in a lovely backyard ceremony for friends and family. The Old Dawgz played a couple of hot sets, and everybody was feeling fine.
The Old Dawg ladies graced us with their presence. Left to right: Ilene, Chita and JoAnna.
A food fight broke out over the wedding cake. We had BBQ, we had beer, we really had our fun.
Get it while you can. Our friends and loved ones are here for such a short time before God takes them from us on that Rainy Rainy Day.
On the way home from playing for Mass this morning, I encountered this (mainly) anti-Israel demonstration on the Village Green. Most of these people are "professional" protesters. Given good weather, they are out there protesting something every week.
I recognized quite a few of these characters. Most are relentless letter to the editor writers, political organizers and general pains in the ass. Best to avoid them if you are in a cafe or club in town. That is, unless you want to hear their current pitch.
One pro-Israel protester protested the protesters!
The semi-magical belief that you are "doing something about it" if you hold up a poster and stand on the Village Green puzzles me. What is that supposed to accomplish?
More often than not, protesters in Woodstock are preaching to the choir, since the town is almost uniformly far left Democratic. In this case, however, Woodstock is split.
I know quite a few of these protesters, as I said, and they are one faction of the Jewish community in town. The pro-Israeli Jewish faction is much quieter, for the simple reason that arguing with the anti-Israeli crowd will do little except to aggravate the hell of out you.
Woodstock is home to a big contingent of foreign policy experts and world savers. I used to be one of them, so who am I to complain? The notion that Woodstock is a serious player in these fields is pretty funny.
The Adirondack Trailways bus was boarding for New York City right across the street from the protest. I think those poor folks were the target audience. Lots of day trippers who drove up from the city for the weekend, too.
Every morning, I am overwhelmed with political gassing and arguing. Partly my own fault. I read the newspapers and opinion stuff on my iPad first thing in the morning, and sometimes comment on the issues on Facebook. Politics is the ultimate time waster.
How do you ignore all the political BSing? Not easy, particularly for a retired Old Dawg who sometimes just gets tired of being alone and wants to talk with anybody who's available. And, politics seems to be what people want to talk about. Politics gets the blood running and it promotes controversy. Name another subject that does that.
My girlfriend solves this dilemma by being constantly in motion, mostly cooking and cleaning house. I'm too lazy, and not sufficiently interested in domestic chores, to do that. I try to keep busy by playing music for hours, exercising, riding my Harley... all that crap. But, then I turn on the computer... and, it's all politics all the time. And, there's always some idiot that needs correcting.
No other subject seems to offer what politics offers... the adrenalin rush and the all day argument. Yakking about music doesn't come close. Arguing over sports is probably the closest you'll come to a subject that gets people as worked up as politics. Sports arguments are, however, generally good natured and humorous.
Not so politics. Politics pisses people off. Political discussion quickly crashes into name calling and viciousness. Which may be its attraction. I'm no better than anybody else.
I have no delusions that I'm going to change the world by arguing politics. But, as I said, I'm alone far too much. That's the downside of retirement. It's also the downside of being widowed. When I turn on the computer, all I find are people who want to argue endlessly about politics.
I'm going to try to overcome this dilemma today by playing music, visiting the gym and drawing some pics. I hate it when I get caught up in the day long arguments and shouting matches. But, I'm no saint. I'll probably succumb at some point and fall into the mud pit of Facebook. God help me!
Legalize pot. I'm all for it. But, I do not believe that pot is harmless. I say this from experience. The New York Times published an editorial yesterday in favor of legalization that omitted any reference to the negative effects of smoking pot. That's what you do when you are manufacturing political propaganda.
I've smoked pot since I was a teenager. At one point in my 20s, I smoked all the time.
So, let's repeat all the cliches. No, moderate pot use does not drive you mad or strip you of your ability to compete or to cope with life. (I am one of the most aggressive, competitive people you are likely to ever meet.) I don't think pot has much effect on your ability to drive your car. Arresting and imprisoning people for cultivating, selling or using pot is an atrocity.
An honest pot user, like me, cannot help but notice the negative effects on one's health from smoking pot. I can't afford to buy enough pot to smoke on a daily basis because the shit is so damned expensive. So I don't smoke very much. When I smoke to excess, my throat and lungs ache for days afterward. So, yeah, smoking pot produces many of the same effects as smoking cigarettes.
Inhaling hot gases plays hell with your throat. Inhaling particulate matter into your lungs diminishes your ability to breathe and it makes your lungs hurt. This is just reality. Your throat and lungs were not made for this. Maybe the solution to this is edible pot candies. Doesn't appeal to me.
Sometimes this raspy voice is a positive for me. That raspy, gargling effect that smoking produces is a plus for a jazz or blues singer. That sound, for some reason, conveys emotional impact. But, it's a minus for my church performances. Vocal clarity is the key in church.
Take a look at that crap that accumulates in your pipe or bong... all that tar that looks like the stuff that roofers use to seal shingles on your roof. A lot of that shit is making its way into your lungs. That cannot be a good thing.
I'm convinced that, years or decades from now, we will acknowledge that there is a price to be paid for smoking pot. There's always a price to be paid for any vice. That's not necessarily an argument for refraining from vice. (Well, for some people it is. Good for them. I long ago learned to live peaceably with the reality that I'm a sinner.)
Political propagandists maximize the positive aspects of their issues, while downplaying the negatives. I have no political heroes, and don't want to be an activist for any cause.
So, I can see the negatives of pot smoking, even though I agree that pot should be legalized.
They call the Mafia the Outfit in Chicago. I love Chicago gang news. Read the Tribune every day for the gang and Cubs news. This story is one that keeps coming around... Outfit crews dressing up as cops to knock over other bad guys.
My granddaddy was a bootlegger, so I've been neutral... that is among the cops, the fake cops and the gangsters. They all look the same.
Here's what this Chicago Outfit crew was doing:
The men’s crimes included home invasions, armed robberies, burglaries, insurance fraud and prostitution, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said at a news conference after the crew’s bond hearings.
This crew kept things in the family, featuring father/son and husband/wife duos. Now, that's Chicago. These are tough guys, too:
During a home invasion in 2013, Panozzo Sr. sliced off the ear of a victim after he heard the man speaking English after he had claimed that he only spoke Spanish.
Bad guys preying on bad guys!
Whole universes exist outside our understanding. That is, if you are leading a sane life and you obey the law.
I'm retired, so I'm leading a life of virtue. I don't have to connive and lie to make a living. But, I'm looking for a part time job, so that might change.