Dear Apple Pay Stop Harassing Me!

Dear Apple Pay stop harassing me! I will never sign up for you and no amount of iOS app-nagging will change that. You’re pathetic interruptions merely remind me why I “resist” installing every freaking iOS upgrade the Apple mothership foists on its hapless phone users.

I use an iPhone1 but I am not a member of the bleating iSheep. I’ve slowly, one unwanted upgrade after another, developed an intense loathing of Apple’s holier than thou, we know what’s best for the iIdiots, attitude. You’re beginning to remind me of the Hildabeast. Remember that foul creature and her well-deserved fate!

Loathing aside, I have a perfectly logical reason for refusing Apple Pay. Unlike the bleating iSheep, I see what you are trying to do. You want to become a financial “middleman.” You want to skim an ever-increasing percentage of every transaction your well-trained herd of iSheep makes. I admire your larcenous spirit but if you haven’t noticed, we have enough parasitic financial rent-seeking middlemen on this insane planet. Part of the allure and promise of cryptocurrencies is that they show a way to rid the universe of skimming scum like central banks, government fiat, rapacious money transmitters, exchange controls and abominations like Apple Pay.

Don’t ever darken my day with another “activate Apple Pay now” message again. You have been warned!


  1. Unless there are big changes at Apple this is my last iPhone. I want a device that I absolutely control. “If you don’t control it you cannot trust it.” Any phone that I cannot even be sure is off does not qualify. Burners may be my only option.

Review: The Way We Die Now

The Way We Die Now is not the best book I’ve read this year but it may be the most important. In Seamus O’Mahony’s opinion, modern society has forgotten how to deal with death. There are many reasons for this, the collapse of religious belief, the demolition of the extended family, the triumph of the scientific and rational worldview, even our delusions of curing death “real soon now” contribute to our collective denial. Yet death persists. Death remains absolute, sovereign, implacable, terrifying, “majestic and cruel.” Even if we realize our singularity fantasies and greatly extend life death will never be banished. Even the gods die! We must face death, but must we turn it into a carnival of “medical excess?”

I have seen medical excess. My mother was diagnosed with Stage IV Glioblastoma: a form of brain cancer that is so deadly it’s been nicknamed the terminator. Actually, the terminator is flattered by the comparison. Some survived their encounter with fictional terminators. Nobody survives stage IV Glioblastoma: “there is no stage V.” When I heard mom’s diagnosis I looked for actuarial survival statistics. Credible statistics for common fatal diseases are harder to track down than you might expect. I eventually found a paper that cast survival times in a useful form. Median survival was less than three months for younger and healthier patients than my mother. She died about two months after her diagnosis – right on statistical schedule. The universe does not make personal exemptions.

Her death was inevitable, but the expensive, futile, painful and isolating medical gauntlet she endured was not. She just wanted to go home, perhaps to “turn her head to the wall,” perhaps to binge on The Big Bang Theory – she still enjoyed a few silly shows. It doesn’t matter what the dying choose to do with their remaining hours, but it sure as hell matters that we honor their choices and the Way We Die Now makes a compelling case that we are failing “to be brave.” I know I acquiesced to the medial default for my mother; I still feel I should have fought harder for what she wanted.

According to O’Mahony, the medical default is full intervention even when it’s pointless and wasteful. He also notes that doctors are in a no-win situation. If they suggest doing nothing they’re accused of euthanizing patients. If they go full interventionist Rambo they’re inflicting needless suffering and profiting from the dying. Both extremes often end up in court, as if we could fix death with more litigation. Obviously, something in the middle is the best course and O’Mahony argues that doctors should not set the middle course.

Our infantile society needs to grow up and face death like adults. Nothing makes our magical thinking about death clearer than Somerset Maugham’s1 observations about a “dog’s death.” Maugham hoped he was lucky enough to die a dog’s death! A dog’s death is meant to be a horrible thing but is it really worse than human medical excess? When it comes to sick animals we are clear-headed and compassionate. We don’t subject them to futile treatments, we make them comfortable and take away their pain. I once had a cat that came down with pancreatitis. She wasted away on the top of our fridge until one day we took her to the vet. Her death was calm and without terror. My cat had a better death than my mother. I suspect many pets die with greater dignity than their owners. This is fundamentally wrong and we all know it.

There are no easy answers; it sucks to be mortal. We can’t say until we face it ourselves how we should die so how can we dictate to others? I only hope that when my time comes I have it within me to follow the one bit of advice O’Mahony offers that may apply to all us – “be brave.’


  1. The Way We Die Now relates many stories about “celebrity” deaths.

The Mass Kill as Performance Art

It’s been almost a week since the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay massacre and the idiot media is still looking for “a motive.” They remind me of O.J.’s fruitless search for the “real killer.” I don’t watch the alphabets, except when trapped in airports or, with increasing annoyance, in my employer’s cafeteria so I’ve missed days of mindless speculation but my limited TV sampling confirms what’s easily gleaned from more efficient news sources. The killers “motive” is still unknown and the authorities are still looking.

In all the blather about the mysterious highly organized and thoughtful killer, it’s never occurred to anyone (on TV anyway), that the lack of an apparent motive is exactly what the killer hoped to achieve.

Consider the usual mass media slaughter script. An individual, or group of individuals, attack and murder a sufficiently1 large number of “innocents.”

If, as is often the case, the attackers are well-known terrorists they will typically gloat and issue more threats. Public threats trigger the idiot media’s “analysis.”

If the terrorists are Jihadis the idiot media will downplay the attack while issuing stern warnings about not jumping to racist conclusions about an “entire religion.” Then, when forced by competing news organizations like Fox or right-leaning bloggers, they will join the fray and condemn the killers while searching for a way to blame Trump.

If the killer is black and the victims are black — well this isn’t news! Press the ignore button and complain about anything that can be plausibly blamed on Trump. And, fortunately for the idiot media, that well will never run dry.

If the killer is white and the victims are mostly white (bingo for Las Vegas), spend a day or two glorifying the murderer. Review his2 typically pathetic and meaningless life while running candlelight vigils, peace garden plantings, and out-of-tune Kumbaya-a-thons in the background. In more sober moments touch on the known motive” for the mayhem. Tut-tut the violence, reassure moronic viewers that violence is never the answer. Play a few bars of Imagine then, when appropriate mourning turns to anger, use the “known motive” to pivot to what the idiot media wanted to talk about from the beginning: gun confiscation.3

The sooner the idiot media can get “the motive” out of the way the sooner they can get down to one of their favorite topics. Sadly, the Vegas killer, being an intelligent and detail oriented psychopath, anticipated this and left no clear motive forcing the idiot media to fixate, like a dog licking its ass, on “the motive” for day, after day, after day. Every day spent discussing “the motive” inflates the killer’s infamy. He’s already the most famous mass killer in recent history.

Real villainy requires incomprehensible dread and clear motives eliminate dread. When Jihadis kill it’s no big deal. Their sky fairy manual exhorts true believers to behead, enslave and tax infidels. It’s hard to imagine a violence-free way to realize such goals. When black hating psychopaths open fire in churches the idiot media have ready-made dread dispelling explanations. If you can quickly explain an atrocity it almost ceases being atrocious. But, if the horror can never be explained, if it sticks in your existential craw, it remains a source of terror forever. This is what the killer was really aiming for.

I view the Las Vegas massacre as deadly performance art. The killer has more in common with “artists” that drop their pants in public and pee on crucifixes than cause-driven revolutionaries or garden variety psychopaths. What exactly motivates public “performance” crucifix urination? To even ask the question is to mock it. For one deadly night the Vegas killer staged a performance that upstaged all the other Vegas shows and unlike another showing of Cirque du Soleil or Menopause the Musical his performance will be remembered forever. The mass kill is a new art form and the idiot media is its biggest patron.


  1. Sufficiently large is an ever-increasing natural number that is now greater than ten.
  2. The overwhelming majority of mass killers are male.
  3. It’s impossible to have an intelligent debate about guns in the US is because neither side is willing to discuss their ultimate goals or take responsibility for their positions. Gun controllers secretly want the second amendment appealed and all existing guns confiscated. Nothing else will satisfy them. They naively think an unarmed society will never be abused by the state. Gun holders often point out that the second amendment was never about creating a safe and secure society but about erecting deadly barriers to government tyranny. Unfortunately, they’re unwilling to admit that a heavily armed populace will result in large numbers of firearm deaths. US gun deaths are an order of magnitude greater than comparable western societies: that tree of liberty is more bloodthirsty than expected.

EquiFucked

If you have the misfortune of dealing with US Fuckancial orifice Insertions (Financial Institutions) you’ve probably heard of the Equifax hack. Equifax is one of three large companies in the US that collect, without your explicit approval, personal credit information to compute credit scores. Your credit score is a single number that allegedly measures how likely you are to pay back loans. Credit scores are no longer used just for assessing creditworthiness. They’ve slowly become proxies for literacy, intelligence, and honesty.  In today’s USA, it is illegal in many states to test a job applicant’s literacy or IQ.  In others, you cannot ask if they have a criminal record. Fortunately, for HR drones everywhere, there are no laws barring credit score enquiries. Oh sure, you can refuse to allow a potential employer to look up your score but if you want the damn job you’re more or less forced to bend over and enjoy a scoring.

I first met credit scores in the 1990s. After two decades of living in Canada, I returned to the US for a job. In the early 1990s few companies requested credit scores on job applications but if you tried to rent an apartment the first thing they asked for was a credit score. I didn’t have one at the time and this turned out to be a major problem. I calmly explained that I had lived outside the US for my entire working life and had never taken out a US loan, used a US credit card, or secured US credit of any form. I was an alien freak, possibly dangerous, and certainly, someone to be wary of.

My situation wasn’t unique. In the 1990s large numbers of American immigrants, both legal and illegal didn’t have credit scores but, how can I delicately phrase this, their predominantly dusky hues forestalled aggressive credit score seeking by lawsuit averse bottom feeders. My hue didn’t help. My status as an educated, articulate, white guy without a credit score was an unfathomable anomaly to the simpletons that process apartment applications. I eventually straightened this out but I had to get a letter from my employer that disclosed my salary and, even then, the simpletons had to phone my employer’s HR department to make sure I wasn’t trying to soil a sacred one bedroom dump with my unscored person. The entire episode pissed me off.

Who allowed large, clearly inept, credit agencies to collect detailed personal information on pretty much every person in the US? Even worse, what bit of arcane intellectual property law, gives credit agencies the right to apply, “proprietary” – meaning opaque undisclosed bullshit – algorithms to their pilfered information to compute an index that nobody outside the agencies can vet for accuracy or relevance?  Finally, who continues to tolerate their criminally negligent handling of sensitive data? I would be willing to bet big bucks that the EquiFucks didn’t even encrypt the data that was hacked.  I work with corporate databases and you would be surprised at how often things like Social Security Numbers are stored in plaintext. Meaning any disgruntled ITer, and there are a lot of bitter disgruntled ITers, could easily replicate the Equifax hack.

The EquiFucks know they are in deep dodo. Three company executives conveniently unloaded company stock after discovering, but before disclosing the hack, and today the CEO “voluntarily retired.” I know it looks like they’re pulling the ripcords on their golden parachutes but I’m sure it’s all as innocent and kosher as unleavened bread. The EquiFuck is so bad that the traditional stern admonishment to never do it again followed by sizeable donations to political accomplices probably won’t cut it this time. I better see some perps in prison.

Sending EquiFucks to prison, while gratifying – their agony will be delicious – won’t fix the real problem which is the collection of immutable identifiers like Social Security Numbers. I’ve raged about the idiocy of Social Security Numbers before and until we move to a proper private and public key based identification system EquiFucks will just keep happening.  I could care less if the EquiFucks of the world store my public key. Without my private key, which I, and only I know,  it cannot be used to find shit. Of course, this will destroy the business model of financial predators like credit score companies but, paraphrasing Mao, you’ve got a break a few eggs now and then.

Don’t be a Weenie Launch Cassini

Future generations will remember Bill Clinton for two things, not having sex with that woman and authorizing the launch of Cassini. I was working in Dallas Texas in the months before Cassini’s launch. It was 1997 and the Internet was just beginning to disrupt everyday life. Google was morphing from a thesis to a company and abominations like Facebook, Twitter and smartphones were years away. It was a time of CD-ROM games, 56K dial-up modems, bulletin boards, hand crafted HTML websites, and Netscape Navigator.  Even in its primitive state the Internet already exhibited many of the things I value and detest about it today. Two events made this abundantly clear. The inane shenanigans that preceded Cassini’s launch and the death of Carl Sagan.

I had a few beefs with Sagan. Like all science popularizers he often dumbed things down to misleading levels and, like most western academics, he was naive about vicious authoritarian regimes. In Sagan’s mind, a handful of exemplary Soviet scientists went a long way toward excusing the Gulag and purges. I overlooked his good-natured naivety. It was, and still is, a common delusion. Many intelligent people fall victim to the belief that their superior accomplishments endow them with universal wisdom. This is pure classic hubris.

Sagan had flaws but he was also the real scientific deal. He predicted the surface temperature of Venus before it was measured and contributed both scientifically and politically to the success of some of the 20th century’s most spectacular space missions like the Martian Viking landers and the epic Voyagers. Even his popular stunts like the Pioneer plaque and the Voyager gold records were classy and compelling. For me, Sagan’s most enduring quality was his very public and relentless refusal to buy into irrational bullshit. He rhetorically dismembered idiots that saw faces on Mars and skies full of alien bearing UFOs. The Martian face turned out to an eroded mesa, just like Sagan said it was, and we are still waiting for genuine rigorously authenticated evidence of real UFOs. Sagan’s often said, “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence!”  It’s a maxim I apply every single day and you should too.

The day Sagan died I connected to the Internet with my trusty 56K dial-up modem. I was looking for unofficial Sagan obituaries and boy did I find them. It turns out that UFO cultists did not appreciate Sagan’s precise and correct analysis of their unsubstantiated nonsense. Clearly, he was part of the vast centuries old global cover-up. Everyone knows that the Illuminati, the Masons, the Rothschilds, the Jews, and the Jewish aliens in the UFOs, are suppressing UFO evidence: presumably to facilitate draining our precious bodily fluids. I exaggerate but not by much! It was my first encounter with unhinged Internet trolls. My already low opinion of the people’s intelligence dipped lower. Of course, trolls come in all flavors. There are good trolls, the ones I agree with, and evil trolls, the ones I disagree with. Overall, a free Internet with hate mongering vicious trolls is vastly better than a censored Internet that’s been reduced to a giant empty echoing, ruling-class-approved, safe space. “Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

No matter what you think of the boorish behavior of UFO cultists celebrating Sagan’s death it’s clear to all, including the UFO cultists themselves that they are, in Douglass Adam’s exquisite words, “mostly harmless.”  No one gives a crap what ufologists (yeah it’s a word) think and nobody will pay attention to their ravings until they meet well-defined standards of proof. Sorry guys it’s a skeptic’s world and we won’t be lowering standards of scientific validation for you.

Unfortunately, anti-nuclear don’t launch Cassini, nitwits almost aborted what turned out to be an undisputed marvel of our age. I remember these 1997 loons and until they crawl out from their troglodyte caves, prostrate themselves before the great and powerful Internet, and publicly admit that they were completely wrong about Cassini, that launching the probe was the right thing to do, and that some tiny risks are very much worth taking, I will forever curse, mock, belittle, and remind others of their appalling judgment and sniveling cowardice.

The Cassini launch hysterics began when a pack of dolts noticed the word “Plutonium” in Cassini’s press material. Plutonium, oh my god! What are those privileged white devils in JPL up to? The JPL white devils tried to explain how RTG generators work and that a safe reliable compact long-lasting power source was required for operations at Saturn where sunlight is around 0.011 Earth’s intensity but math is hard. Way too hard for ideologues triggered by visions of Plutonium saturated Challenger like explosions spreading deadly radiation over a wide area. It was all over hyped rubbish. As of 2017, it’s not clear that RTGs have killed a single person in over fifty years of use let alone the tens of thousands the Cassini Cassandras were picturing. The white devils lost patience and did a little back of the envelope calculation that assumed a major Cassini crash that uniformly spread the probe’s “deadly Plutonium” over the entire Earth. Given this absurd worst case scenario, how many excessive cancer deaths could we expect?  The calculation estimated about 5,000 spread over a lifetime: not enough to worry about! Michio Kaku called bullshit on this absurd scenario and quickly concocted his own absurd scenario that had Cassini crashing into a dense urban area with laser guided bomb casualty maximizing effectiveness. This bumped the dark wet dream body count to 200,000. Both calculations were ridiculous. This entire episode is neatly summarized in this Mother Jones (can you believe it) article.

The launch of Cassini and its Earth flyby imposed miniscule risks. Even if things went horribly, but realistically wrong, it’s unlikely the probe would have killed more than a thousand people. Whenever I hear projected death tolls I convert the statistic into one I care about. What are my chances of dying? The Earth’s population was roughly six billion in 1997. The chances of Cassini killing me was at most one in million and probably much less. What type of whiny cowardly snowflake would give up the glories of Cassini for one in million odds of something bad happening? I would have accepted much worse odds.

I wasn’t the only one willing to take an infinitesimal risk to advance human knowledge. Just before Cassini’s launch the anti-Cassini mob planned a march in Washington to screech, wave banners, and go full incontinent leftist ape. In their bush baby brains Cassini had to be stopped. Before 1997 protesters rarely faced counter protesters but Cassini touched a deep nerdy nerve and a small band of pro-Cassini protesters showed up shouting “Don’t be a weenie, launch Cassini,” and like the Greeks at Marathon, they drove the stunted grunting anti-Cassini beasts from the rhetorical field.  I like to imagine the “don’t be a weenie, launch Cassini” ruckus stirred Bill to take a break from dipping cigars in intern vaginas and get on the phone to authorize Cassini’s launch.

Today the pro-Cassini protesters would be erroneously described as “alt-right.” Actually, they were simply and absolutely right as hundreds of thousands of stunning Cassini images, thousands of scientific papers, and dozens of unexpected discoveries about Saturn and its Moons attest. Cassini exceeded everybody’s expectations. The Voyagers were the greatest space probes of the 20th century and Cassini is the greatest of the 21st so far.  If we’re lucky we’ll see Cassini surpassed and that is something to look forward to.

Stop Writing Dead Tree Letters to the Editor

I don’t pay for newspapers anymore and neither should you. The dead tree media is truly and absolutely dead. It serves no function in the modern world and like the What Happened Hildabeast, it needs to FOAD. The collapse of print media and the incontinent wailing of unemployed political operatives with bylines has been duly noted by many and, as much as I love flogging dead horses, that is not why I blogforth today. There is one anachronistic section of dead tree newspapers that still amuses me: letters to the editor.

Who the hell writes letters to the editor these days?

Did these letter writers just wake from a long Rip Van Winkle nap and take up where they left off in the 1960s? Oh, and it definitely is the 1960s. The overwhelming majority of dead tree letters clearly come from the fat furrowed brows of retired old boomer farts that mistake constipation for thought.

As I have said before, even though I am a boomer, nobody hates them more than me.

There’s no point in rehashing the infinitely rehashed. Modern letters to the editor lack the intelligence of blog posts, the pithiness of tweets, the sublimity of poetry or the seriousness of books. They’re vain displays. Look at me; I’ve bamboozled an idiot newspaper editor. Congratulations, you’ve surmounted a bar low enough for Conga champions.

I think I speak for all of us when I say that we’ve had enough of your letter antics. Please find your way to the nearest online comments section and unleash your inner troll. And, if you must debase yourself to a larger audience start a blog!