Horrific numbers

How many people in the world are refugees, asylum seekers or internally-displaced within their own country?

Think about that when you click the remote to change channels, get up for a glass of cold water from your refrigerator, or use your 20th-century plumbing and feel mildly aggrieved about something in your life.

Yikes, 377 messages?

Since my order from Best Buy which might, MIGHT fix my desktop won’t get here till next week, I downloaded a copy of Thunderbird from Mozilla and set up my primary email account on this MacBook.

Man! The desktop has only been down about three days and there were 377 messages on that email account! I’ve been able to keep up with the other two accounts because they’re Gmail and I can get them easily from here, and they’re accounts I use principally for Facebook notifications and blog comments anyway.

I sure wish I could make the slider on the right side of this machine work regularly. Half the time it disappears and I have to arrow down. Why is there no Page Down key on this keyboard, failing a readily-accessible slider?

I’m set in my ways. I’m used to Windows and that’s all there is to it.

Fudge

Not the edible kind either, but the euphemism.

There is no Network Interface Card available on this island. I have had to order one online, not to be delivered until next week Friday.

Was it the ease of buying software and hardware from the Internet which drove all the Computerlands, Computer Houses, CompUSAs, Computer Citys and Circuit Citys out of business?

Argh! Network adapter fail!

It’s always exciting to have a hardware failure, isn’t it? I was working away on the HP desktop yesterday afternoon when suddenly my connection to the internet just died without even a whimper. Poof, gone.

I futzed around with the cable modem and the router for a while with no success, and I kept getting the same alarm. “There may be a problem with the Network Adapter.” “Um, fine,” I thought.

Then I tried the HP system check utility and got a little more info, and this was almost useful.

There may be a problem with the driver for the “Realtek PCIe FE Family Controller” adapter. Windows did not automatically bind the IP protocol stack to the network adapter.

Well. Okay then. I’ll try to find the driver for that thing and download it to Mom’s MacBook Pro, then copy it to the HP hard drive and reinstall.

Ah, but then…I upgraded to Windows 10 a while back. Should I download the Win 10 version of the Realtek driver or the Win 8 version?

I tried the Win 10 version and copied it to a flash drive and then from there to the HP hard drive. I ran it and it told me it had successfully installed, but not so, grasshopper! It had not installed over the old drivers and the HP still couldn’t talk to the internet. I copied the Win 8 version and got the same result.

Now what? I looked on the net for some kind of solution and found a dongle that the reviews implied would do the job for me. I went down to the local Best Buy to see if it had one of these on offer, and it did. I bought it ($9 more than Amazon, but no shipping time required), brought it home, ran the install software, plugged it into a USB port, plugged the Ethernet cable into its other end, and…

nuthin’. It didn’t work at all. Now the diagnostics say “There may be a problem with the Ethernet adapter.”

Sigh. Back to Best Buy in the morning to return the dongle and see if there’s a Network Interface Card on its racks. Then I’ll have to dust off my computer tech skills and open up the HP’s case and carefully pull the failed card and insert the new one. I haven’t done this since the 1980s.

Pfui.

Opening Ceremonies, 2016 Summer Olympics

Okay, Rio and Brazil are in the midst of a horrible recession, so they couldn’t spend a fortune. In some ways that made this event more fun. The focus was on the athletes, not a big extravaganza. That’s fine by me. I enjoy watching them walk in, some in Western clothes, some in traditional clothing. It’s interesting.

I also enjoyed the bicycles with seeds in their carts to be planted in the Athletes’ Village leading each country’s delegation in, and it was a nice touch to have little kids carrying seedlings as they marched in next to the flag bearers.

Meredith Vieira, Matt Lauer and Hoda Kotb were insipid when they weren’t obnoxious (Djibouti? Is it really funny to say the country’s name, Meredith? Really? Are you four years old?). I know they wanted to come to Rio and NBC had to find something for them to do, but this was not it. They did their homework for some of the human-interest stories, no question about that, but the incessant “the US is coming soon, the US is coming soon” got really tiresome. I found it jingoistic and annoying.

Oh well, sports start tomorrow.

Ransom, my tookis!

Listen, my children, and you will hear about an arms sale gone bad thanks to a revolution in a nation far away.

Way back in 1979 the Shah of Iran had been buying conventional weapons from the US by the boatload. He had spent as much as 4.45 billion dollars in 1977 on F-14 fighter jets, tanks, trucks, and other military hardware. In 1978 the figure dropped to $2.1 billion, probably because Iran was in turmoil, with its people demonstrating against the Shah and his rule all year long. The citizens were upset at the widening gap between rich and poor, the appearance of all oil wealth flowing to the Shah and his family rather than to the people, and they didn’t like increasing secularism.

The Shah fled in January of 1979 and Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran in February. He’d been in Paris, but he hadn’t been there long. He’d been living in Iraq until 1978. As part of the revolution Khomeini cancelled all deals with the West, including arms purchases. Iran had made payments for some of the weapons it now couldn’t buy, but when some of its students took the inhabitants of the American Embassy hostage on November 4, 1979 the US President immediately issued an Executive Order freezing Iranian assets in the United States and placing sanctions on the country’s economic activities with US entities.

That’s the source of the $400 million that is suddenly in the news. It was payment for arms which were never delivered. While the US was negotiating with the Iranians about the nuclear deal and about the return of four Americans Iran had been holding on what the US considered spurious charges, the Iranians understandably asked for their money to be returned to them. President Obama said today “It was the assessment of our lawyers that there was significant litigation risk and we could end up costing ourselves billions,” Obama said. “Their advice was that we settle.”

I’d say paying only the principal amount of $400 million rather than principal and interest accrued since 1979 probably saved the United States a billion dollars or even more. Despite what nitwit Trump says, that looks like a pretty good deal to me.

Such a day!

So He, Trump takes on a mother with a crying baby and forces her to take the child out of the hall he was speaking in. Then he refuses to endorse Speaker Paul Ryan, Senator John McCain and Senator Kelly Ayotte in their upcoming primary elections. He gets chastised by the sitting President as “unfit” for the office for which he’s running. A retiring GOP Congressman says he can’t vote for Trump.

Then Trump continued his feud with the Khan family, but his plea for help from Congressional Republicans got no response. Finally, Trump, who took advantage of five draft deferments during the Vietnam War, received a replica Purple Heart from a soldier and said he’d always wanted one and in typical Trumpian tone-deaf fashion said this was a much easier way to get it.

If this were a normal campaign he’d be moping in his hotel room hearing his aides tell him to control himself. Since it isn’t, he’ll probably suffer no backlash from his supporters at all.

Mayoral race

We have a mayor’s race out here in Honolulu with three familiar faces: the incumbent, his predecessor, and a guy who’s spent his political life as a Republican who says no. No to everything. No to taxes. No to infrastructure. No to education. So of course he’s leading the polls at the moment, and the primary is August 13.

We have a heavy rail project that’s about halfway constructed, and our Republican says he wants to stop it in its tracks at Middle Street and run buses from that point forward. He doesn’t seem to understand that moving 400-800 people off a four-car train onto buses would take about 20-40 buses and they’d all have to move to street grade level one bus at a time. Then they’d have to stop at all the street lights cars and buses stop at now. Rapid transit would be converted to gridlocked traffic.

Here’s the route map. If you look at the Honolulu International Airport and move three stations to the right, that’s where our oh-so-cost-conscious clown wants to stop the system, nine stations short of completion. There is nothing at that Middle Street destination that would draw riders in and of itself. It would be like riding a bus to a hub and then transferring to another bus. The whole point of rapid mass transit was to get people to town quickly. We already have buses which travel city streets.

I swear, conservatives just hate spending money on the quality of life for anyone other than rich people. Our guy even has ads up saying “Charles has never voted for a tax increase and will not allow the rail project to be built on the backs of hard-working families and seniors.” I’m not entirely sure who’s supposed to pay for it, then. I mean, those hard-working families and seniors are going to ride it; surely they ought to contribute to its construction?

Gah. Idiot.