Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I’ll be saying Merry Christmas, perhaps as early as the start of Advent. I might also toss in a Happy Holidays now and then and the only reason I won’t say “Happy Hanukah” to my Jewish Friends is I can’t get agreement on spelling or pronunciation. But I won’t be offended by any business or person who says anything else or even is rude about my greeting. First, Christ would not like it. Second, the First Amendment has got freedom of religion just right: The state cannot establish a particular church nor impede the free exercise of a particular church. And while I might reward a business with a nice Christmas display after Thanksgiving, I won’t be boycotting a business for whatever reason they decide to not have a Christmas display. That would be downright un-Christian.


Posted in politics, religion, Thinking Clearly | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Improved #IranDeal

The existing #IranDeal proposed by the Obama administration for approval by congress involves a considerable amount of questionable verification procedures. For the moment, let us assume the verifications will all work and even that Iran will make no attempt to circumvent the proposed deal. In that case, it is entirely reasonable to expect Iran to have a nuclear arsenal within twenty years. With a modest amount of circumvention and subterfuge that could be as little as twelve years, but let us not get side tracked by splitting hairs over eight years more or less.

The Obama administration and various pundits claim this is the best deal we are going to get and that the alternatives are all worse. My response is that plenty of alternatives that would be readily agreed to by Iran exist. They are too numerous to list, so I will just relate my personal favorite, which tends to stabilize the region, eliminate any reason for Israel to make a preemptive strike, and generally sets the stage for Iran to work on the welfare of its people and economy.

My favorite version of an improved #IranDeal is this: Iran gets a nuclear arsenal NEVER.

Apart from removing the time limits on the various inspections and quantities in favor of Iran getting a nuclear arsenal NEVER, we sweeten the deal: As long as Iran does not have a nuclear arsenal, we promise to not invade them. (And they still get all the accommodations in the current deal.)

This is a far better deal for Iran, and if you doubt they will accept it, offer it to them.

I do not respect any counter arguments or reasoning claiming to understand the minds of those in  power in Iran regarding their strategic interest so as to presume they will not accept this version of the deal. Argue all you want why they won’t accept the deal. OFFER the deal genuinely and they will accept. Prove me wrong, don’t try to argue me wrong. When a simple test is available, it is idiotic to argue that you know the minds of someone else. So rather than writing a tome about exactly how I think it is in Iran’s strategic interest to avoid the costs and risks of a nuclear weapons program, just do this: OFFER the deal.

Posted in politics, Thinking Clearly | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

test blog entry to check filter to

nothing to see here, just testing a filter to a technical blog aggregator.

Posted in politics | Tagged | Leave a comment

IRAN “Deal” is a plan for IRAN to have nukes within a dozen years

The Iran “Deal” trading a removal of economic sanctions (which make it difficult economically for Iran to pursue development of nuclear weapons and delivery mechanisms) for the promise of a delay in developing nuclear weapons by Iran is a short sighted agreement.

In fact, even assuming that Iran perfectly adheres to all it is supposed to do, this “deal” is a plan for  Iran to be within its rights to be able to resume building a nuclear arsenal in a decade and probably have significant throw weight within a dozen years.

Are we convinced a mere decade will transform Iran into a nation we can trust with nuclear weapons?

Not likely.

No nukes for Iran now, No nukes for Iran tomorrow. No nukes for Iran for a *LOT* more than a dozen years. Stop this plan. Stop any plan for Iran to eventually have nuclear weapons.

Posted in politics, Thinking Clearly | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

STEM to STEAM, Andy Savage, and a manipulative huffpost ad that could have been great

Andy Savage gave a powerful and on-target keynote at the Collaborate Conference (Quest, OAUG, and IOUG #C14LV). There is a nice summary at , which I recommend. My favorite bit was point #7 : Art belongs in the same discussions as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M., not S.T.E.M.).

Andy phrased his entire take, even the bits of irony, on calling for positive action.

This is in contrast to a recent huffpost manipulation:

that insinuates compliments on being pretty imply stupid repression. It cobbles together a fictional account that would make anyone who took even the basic youth sports coach seminar cringe. See it yourself. Now the voiceovers of objection to specific acts of the girl in question were about preventing certain imminent disasters, but were phrased in the worst possible way. It is probably worth watching. Then come back here.

Now as I recall the very first introductory NYSCA seminar video, there was a bit about encouraging positive action, especially in kids. Scene one, dad coaching new bike rider on a sidewalk fringed by hedges: “Don’t ride into the hedges.” Of course the kid looks at the hedge on one side and rides right into it. Scene two: “Ride between the hedges down the center of the sidewalk.” The kid looks at the hedges, then looks at the center of the sidewalk, and rides down the center of the sidewalk to success. Hooray. Oversimplified? Perhaps a bit, but the underlying point is to coach the thing you want to have happen as a positive and as the last words in an instruction.

So what does this have to do with the Huffpost ad? Sigh. Well plenty. So consider the girl in the muddy rivulet wearing a party dress. “Don’t get your dress dirty.” could have been: “Let’s get into our adventure clothes before we climb up that muddy stream.” Another bit has the girl struggling with a power drill awkwardly on what looks like expensive equipment that might be ruined or at least damaged by unskillful drilling. “Be careful! Give that to your brother!” (Who in addition to being male, seems older and skilled at using power drills just by the way he takes the handle.) So how about “Let’s practice some drilling on some scrap so we do a better job on the telescope.” The message still prevents the imminent danger and probable damage, but it re-casts the message from “you can’t do that” to “you surely will be able to do that better with a little practice.”

That sums up my objection to the manipulation of this ad. 1) Its very title implies that a compliment about being pretty must come coupled with offensive other remarks, and 2) That there is no way to prevent bad results without causing psychological restriction on the person restrained from getting dirty in party clothes or getting hurt and damaging expensive equipment.

So rise above this manipulation! Voice restraints and prevent accidents WITH your best thoughts about how to accomplish the desired activity safely and to a good result. If you cannot offer a solution in real time, there is always the generic fallback, something like: “Hang on a second. Let’s figure out how you can do that {safely | effectively | without trashing your pretty dress}. ”

And let’s make sure we don’t trash ART while praising Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Praise being well-rounded and note that excellence in Art is synergistic with excellence in STEM: STEAM! (Thanks Adam). And of course also, let’s get geared up for #C15LV. Happy New Year.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

xfinity customer service chat

MARK_: My Issue: An hour on the phone and three attempts to authorize my replacement equipment PKKVZQSMC ended with a hang-up while supposedly transferring me to a supervisor.

user MARK has entered room

analyst Cherry has entered room

Cherry: Hello MARK_, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Cherry. Please give me one moment to review your information.

Cherry: Hi! How are you doing today, Mark?

MARK_: read what I wrote

Cherry: I know it has been a roller coaster ride for your Mark. I understand that you have spent hours over the phone to activate the new box.

Cherry: I can only imagine what you have gone thru.

Cherry: No worries, I am here to assist you with your concern.

Cherry: I am now checking if the box is already in the account so I can start sending a signal.

Cherry: While waiting, may I know what do you see on the Led lights in front of the new box and if you are getting any error on your TV screen?

MARK_: I wonder if the problem is the two serial numbers. One is PKKVZQSMC and the other is SAZBFVHPS. The power light is on. The message on my screen is that my EXPLORER unit is not authorized for use.

Cherry: Thank you for providing that information.

Cherry: Nothing to worry about the Serial numbers, one of them is for the card, the other one is for the box.

MARK_: We’re now 2 hours and 17 minutes into simply trying to get this box to work.

Cherry: I understand. Rest assured that we will work on all possible solutions to get the box work.

Cherry: I see here on the account that the box is already added.

Cherry: However, the box is not getting signal from the network.

Cherry: Before I go ahead and send a signal to the box, let us make sure your box is connected tightly

Cherry: Is the box connected to the wall via CABLE IN?

MARK_: That is not correct. Three times the activation and reset has been received. When it gets to about 2:10 to go of the interactive program load, it shuts off and goes back to “not authorized for use”

Cherry: If yes, please make sure the cables are snug and fitted to the ports from wall and CABLE IN port of the box

Cherry: Thank you for letting me know. I will take note of that

Cherry: Are you using any third party device like a splitter, amplifier, power surge/strip that is connected to the cable box?

MARK_: The cables are snug. They are brand new RG6.

Cherry: Thank you.

MARK_: I’m using the splitter the xfinity tech installed, exactly as with the old box that recently froze.

Cherry: I see. Would you mind bypassing the said splitter to isolate where the issue is coming from? Let us see if the splitter affects the signal distribution. We also have to make sure that the connections are perfect before I send a special signal from my end.

MARK_: I am not willing to disrupt my phone and the working cable box to do that.

MARK_: Or my internet service

Cherry: I understand. No need to worry as we will only try this temporarily. If there is no improvement, then connect it the same way it was connected earlier. Yes we will be disconnected, but I will wait for you within 8 minutes to reconnect. We just have to make sure.

MARK_: A) I’m not disconnecting my phone at all

MARK_: B) I’m not disconnecting my internet

MARK_: c) I’m not disconnecting my working cable box.

MARK_: d) Do you think this is a reasonable plan, or is this a practical joke?

MARK_: And I’m NOT worried. I’m out of service and you are suggesting I get more out of service. Get a supervisor.

Cherry: Alright, Not a problem with me if you do not want to do the steps. Let me do it on my end then. Please let me know if there are changes on your new box

MARK_: There is a problem with ME that you suggest turning off my phone, internet, and working cable tv service as a step. That is not acceptable.

Cherry: I am only asking if it is fine. and the step is only for temporary. I am not asking you to turn them off all the way. Sorry for making you feel like that.

Cherry: Hows the box? are there any changes?

MARK_: no changes

Cherry: Thank you.

MARK_: I go look again if you just did something

Cherry: Let me Initialze the box now

Cherry: Thank you.

MARK_: You exactly asked me to bypass the splitter, which would disconnect my other services. If you do not understand that I am very worried.

Cherry: Alright

Cherry: I have sent the initializing signal to activate the box

Cherry: Please check if there are any changes. It should take effect within 2-3 minutes

MARK_: The power led blinked. The remote led came on. The data led came on. Then the power led went steady and resumed blinking. I’ll got back out, but I assume it will be starting the interactive program download again, then that will get to about 2:10 left to go, and it will screw up again. We’ll see.

Cherry: Thanks for the update,

MARK_: so once again the on demand information loaded very quickly and when the interactive program guide got to the 2:10 to go point the unit shut off and once again reports that it is not authorized for use.

MARK_: Based on the load moving at the wall clock speed and the on demand loading very quickly, I’m pretty doggone sure I’ve got a good signal. Something is going wrong.

Cherry: Thank you for updating me.

MARK_: Now get someone who can diagnose this problem.

Cherry: Since the box has reacted but has not stabilized as normally expected, I would like to ask your help to do the refresh manually.

Cherry: Oh, you do not want to continue on troubleshooting?

MARK_: Is this where I disconnect the power for 20 seconds and try again?

Cherry: No. Please turn off your cable box and unplug it from the power outlet. Wait for 60 seconds and plug it back in and turn on the cable box and TV after 3 minutes. Then once the TV is on, please wait another 5 minutes before accessing and pressing anything

Cherry: Guide, On demand and channels should be allowed to load for 5 minutes.

MARK_: OH. LONGER WAITS. SURE. I’ll try that. In the mean time, since you’ll have a lot of it, get some advice from someone else there. Ok. So unplugged for 60 seconds. Then plug in. Then wait 3 minutes, turn cable and tv on. Then wait 5 more minutes. Got it. I’ll be back to your in about 10 minutes. (including the walk)

Cherry: I understand that this has been an inconvenience for you, Mark. We are only trying the best solution to get your box work. But if you have already tried everything on your end and everything fails, then I’ll be more than glad to send out a technician to check on the new box.

Cherry: I am checking on the soonest schedule now

Cherry: May I have the best number to call you for appointment confirmation?

MARK_: I already have a tech coming tomorrow to put in new boxes. This is for family here tonight.

Cherry: I see

MARK_: I’ve already done the 60 second unplugged and we’re 2 minutes into the wait.

Cherry: Thank you.

MARK_: I’m walking back now and I’ll turn both the cable box and tv on at the 3 minute point on my timer

Cherry: Thank you.

Cherry: By the way, upon checking here in the account, the pending order for HD Complete was cancelled. Is this what you ordered for?

MARK_: yes. Who could possibly have cancelled that?

MARK_: by the way. the cable box power was not responsive. when I turned on the tv it reported it was in the process of downloading the interactive guide. Once again, when it got to the 2:10 point it stopped displaying anything. I have not touched anything since.

Cherry: Possibly the sales rep who applied the order since they are the only ones who can access the ordering system.

Cherry: Thank you for updating me, Mark.

MARK_: I’m glad I’m got this transcript.

MARK_: Now we’re at your 5 minute point. Should I try turning it back on?

Cherry: Yes please.

user MARK_ has left room

user MARK has entered room

MARK_: now it is back to your explorer unit is not authorized for use

Cherry: I understand.

Cherry: Thank you for cooperating and trying it with me.

MARK_: now can we get someone who can diagnose the problem?

Cherry: Since we have both tried to do the activation and refresh remotely and manually and the box has not responded effectively, I would like to suggest to send our field technician and personally check on your box

Cherry: Yes. I can send him as soon as 3-5 pm on 28th

Cherry: Shall I proceed>?

MARK_: I fetched the box personally to repair it for tonight

MARK_: We need to get someone on the line now who knows more.

Cherry: We all have the same knowledge and tools to have this issue resolved. The best resolution is for us to send out a technician since this is more than a line issue that we can remotely detect

Cherry: Our technician can personally check on your box to see if there is something wrong with it, He can also double check the connections and inside wiring .

MARK_: I’m verifying the replacement of this box tomorrow with complete service. They are supposed to come between 3 and 5.

Cherry: That is I am not sure of. I am seeing the order here as cancelled. We can only confirm this with the Sales Department.

Cherry: Shall I verify this with the Sales Department over here on chat?

MARK_: I’m calling them. Someone is playing games with me and interfering with my family’s enjoyment of the Christmas holiday.

Cherry: I understand.

MARK_: I do NOT want it cancelled. I did NOT cancel it.

The analyst has left and your issue has been closed.

Waiting for response from Cherry

Cherry: I understand.

Cherry: That is why I am asking you if you want to verify it with them here on chat

user MARK_ has left room

Not really. I’m still there waiting.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Short and sweet: What do you think of when you hear “Republicans?”

Oddly this was a discussion topic on Amazon. Most of it was vitriol from folks who have been schooled to hate Republicans. As a Republican, I know we get a bad rap and often our predominant touted feature is a confusion that we are against stated goals rather than being against the stated means of attempting to achieve those goals.

So here is my answer: What do you think of when you hear “Republicans?”

Folks who want to efficiently create a safe and prosperous society who end up spending all their time trying to stop the Democrats from pursuing stupid, hateful, and wasteful policies that would never work to achieve the laudable goals they claim the policies pursue. Unfortunately the Republicans are then cast as being against those goals, most of which they also support.

Posted in politics, Thinking Clearly | Tagged | 2 Comments