Wednesday, May 27, 2015

4047 IRS Data Breach

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The singer is gone, but the song goes on.


The IRS announced yesterday that there has been a major breach in data security.   Identity thieves have obtained "prior-year tax-return information for about 104,000 U.S. households".

There is a short Wall Street Journal article about what it means, and what taxpayers should watch for and do, at


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

4046 Not a swamp cooler

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Contrary to what conservatives seem to believe, social programs are not socialism.


Well, back in post 4041, I mentioned that Piper was all excited about a type of a/c system he wanted me to consider for the country house.  Being Piper, he snail-mailed me a brochure, rather than sending a link.  The brochure arrived today.

In the past he has tried to talk me into window units.  I explained to him that all the windows in that house are vertical windows that crank outward, hinged on the side, so you can't put window units in them, so then he wanted me to cut holes in the walls and install window units.  I told him he's nuts.  No way I'm cutting holes in the walls to permanently install ugly temporary units.  Then he found this new thing.  "A small box you just hang on the wall!  No holes!"  I didn't see how from his description it could possibly work, unless he was talking about swamp coolers.

a) It's not a swamp cooler.
b) It does require holes.  LOTS of them.
c) He obviously had no idea what he was talking about.

It's called an "electric ductless heating and cooling system".  Piper seems to think you just hang it on the wall, plug it in, and it works, like a window unit, but without the window.  Poor Piper.  Sometimes I wonder how he avoids accidentally poisoning himself.

The ductless system might be a good idea if you don't already have ductwork!  Like new construction, or if you have baseboard heat, or there's no space for ductwork, or whatever.  The only advantage I can see is in those cases.   With ductless a/c, you have the usual outdoor compressor, and the usual "fluid" that gets compressed and expanded to exchange heat.  If you have ductwork, the cooled air is then blown into the ductwork thence to the rooms.  With the ductless system, the cooled "fluid" passes through copper tubing installed in the walls to the individual units in every room, where fans in the units blow air over the tubing and thence throughout the room.

So you don't "just hang it on the wall".  

I'd need 6 to 8 units for the country house, and tubing and wiring fed through the walls to the units.  Once in place, the units cannot be easily moved, which takes careful planning for air penetration, circulation, and furniture placement.  In my living room, I currently have three or four ducted vents, all blowing air.  Going ductless, I'd have one source of cooled air in that large room.  There's got to be a comfort factor there.  Also, using the ducts, the air is filtered and circulated throughout the house.  These wall units don't circulate the air except in that one room, so things will probably get stuffy.  And although the manufacturers claim they do dehumidify, more than a few reviewers complain that the wall units frost up or drip water in humid conditions.

The distributors claim it's cheaper to install and operate.
a) They are counting the cost of having ductwork installed.  I already have that.
b) They figure a 30% loss of efficiency through temperature loss in the ductwork - but to get those figures, they assume the ductwork is uninsulated, and in the (hot) attic or exterior walls.  My ductwork is insulated, and is in the basement ceilings.
So in my case there are not only no savings, installation actually costs about 30% more.

So, thanks Piper, but no thanks.


Why is the American robin always described as having a red breast?  You know, Robin Red-Breast?  It's not red.  The closest it comes to red is rust, which is not red.  If I had to color a robin given a small box of Crayola crayons, I'd have to choose the orange, with maybe a little brown blended in, not the red crayon.  


4045 -ough

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Capitalism in its mature form is corporate fascism. Fascism is the end game of capitalism.


A rough, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman emerged from a slough to walk through the streets of Scarborough, coughing and hiccoughing.

The above sentence illustrates eight standard "Queen's English" ways to pronounce "ough".  

Of course, the actual number of pronunciations depends on local and regional dialects.  In the US, "slough" has so many variations that it's simply avoided.

I thought it was interesting.

Monday, May 25, 2015

4044 Explosions and Implosions

Monday, May 25, 2015

“All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.”
J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings


I don't know how I've missed this.  There's something called Intermittent Explosive Disorder (use that term for an internet search) currently categorized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) under the "Disruptive, Impulse-Control, and Conduct Disorders" category, characterized by explosive outbursts of anger, often to the point of rage, that are disproportionate to the situation at hand.  Someone can be going along just fine, and then some tiny thing will suddenly set them off, and they explode into a fury of aggression.  Sometimes it's loud verbal abuse, sometimes it's a physical attack on a person, sometimes it's destruction of property.

Quoting from Wikipedia, "Some individuals have reported affective changes prior to an outburst (e.g., tension, mood changes, energy changes, etc.). ... Aggressive acts are frequently reported accompanied by a sensation of relief and in some cases pleasure, but often followed by later remorse."

Hmmmm.  "Affective changes."  I wonder if that's what I was sensing when I knew ahead of time when my father was most dangerous.  I have described it as a peculiar smell he'd get sometimes.  If I walked into the house and smelled that smell, I'd turn around and walk out, find somewhere else to be for a few hours.  Some of the individuals describe sweating or other physical changes when it's "coming on".   And I always did think his rages were fun for him, that he enjoyed them.

I've known several people like that over the years.  People you have to tiptoe around, because you never know what will set them off.  They frighten me.  A lot.


I found a very good article on introversion.  I am an introvert.  On a scale of 1 to 10 on introversion, I'm probably a 9.5.  People keep accusing me of being shy, but I'm not at all shy.  I am a classic introvert.  Daughter keeps pushing me, "You need to get out more, Mom.  You need a social life."  Um, no, I don't.

Shy people are self-conscious.  Self-consciousness has nothing to do with introversion (an introvert can also be self-conscious, but it's a separate thing).  Introversion is an entirely different thing.  To an introvert socializing, especially with people you don't know well, inconsequential "chit-chat", is extremely tiring, draining, it feels downright stupid, and withdrawing to recharge is essential.  It's why whenever I visit people, I always stay at a hotel, not at their home.  I need to be able to get away, to be alone.  To pull myself back together.  I need time with me.  I like time with me.  I am most whole when I am alone.

If you know anyone you think is shy, please please a thousand times please read this:

If you've ever wondered why I hate the telephone, read it.
If you've ever wondered why I don't "chat" with people, read it.
If you've ever wondered why I  don't go to happy hours, read it.
If you've ever thought I'm antisocial, wondered why I stand in corners, read it.

The article is so good I want to print it off before it disappears, but I have not yet hooked up the new printer, so I'm getting a little frantic.  I want to have a hundred copies, so I can hand them out every time someone tries to drag me into a group,  with "You're too shy!  Nobody's going to hurt you!"  No, they will drain every ounce of my psychic energy with blather.

Bull shit!  Read and learn!

4043 Nightmares

Monday, May 25, 2015

India, according to the BBC, is having one hell of a heat wave.  They said on the radio today that the temperature has hit 122 F in some areas.  Wells have gone dry.  A man interviewed said that birds are falling dead out of the trees like leaves, and in residential areas it's even hotter outside than the weather service says because air conditioners are running full blast, pumping more heat out.  More than 400 people have died.   It could get worse because farmers can't work in their fields or get to their animals, and animals are dying, so there will be food shortages.  People are praying for monsoon season ... which may be delayed because of El Nino-like conditions.

The BBC also reports a serious bird flu epidemic in American chicken coops, so we will see egg prices, and the prices of everything that uses eggs, go way up.

I like the BBC.  They report on stuff that matters, everywhere.  US news outlets are useless.


I remember in the late 1950s, when we lived in Ottawa, we had a few days of 120 F.  Nobody had a/c then.  I don't remember how we coped.  I do remember my mother saying over and over, "This is Canada!  It's not supposed to get hot!"


Have you heard about the young woman found early last Friday in a Maryland playground pushing her dead three-year-old son on a swing?  It's such a sad story.  People who live near the park said they saw her there pushing the swing the evening before.  Authorities think she may have been there all night, pushing the child on the swing.  They think she was in emotional shock, deep in denial, pushing the swing to make the child happy.  Maybe if I keep pushing him he'll come back.

The mother is still in the hospital. She's apparently not yet coherent.  None of the many articles has mentioned a husband or family.  I'm not sure they know who she is.  An autopsy on the child has shown no cause of death.  A toxicology report will take a while longer.  I was a bit frustrated by the report, because it didn't say how long he had been dead.

I feel so bad for that woman.

I have this scenario in my head, completely made up, where the child had asked to go to the playground, and she said no, so he threw a tantrum, and she left him alone in his room to cry it out.  She thought he cried himself to sleep, so she left him alone, and then later found him cold and gone.  In her overwhelming grief and guilt, she took him to the playground, and pushed him on the swing, trying to make it all better. 

A mother's nightmare.