A Better Debate

Our next VP? I sure hope so!

I thought Kamala Harris did very well last night and that the debate was a welcome return to almost normal politics (to the extent politics can ever be said to be “normal”).

In particular, she showed more signs of life than Joe Biden did, and she showed some appropriate emotions towards her opponent.

It’s a tough call how to respond to lies and bullying. One school of thought preaches the strength of completely ignoring it — turning the other cheek, letting it roll of your back. An opposing school preaches the strength of fighting back, of standing up to threat.

People from these respective schools react negatively to the opposing mode, so if your goal is political, how people will react to how you react may be an important consideration. Joe Biden obviously tried to ignore his opponent, and it was a bad choice (I thought, but I’m in the fighting back school).

I thought he looked weak, but I’ve heard comments from those who either respected him for not wrestling in the mud with the pig or who reacted negatively to his opponent for being such a violent bully.

While in my warrior’s heart I would have liked to see Biden stride across the stage and slug that creature, violence (I’m repeatedly told) doesn’t solve anything. (Tell that to the American Revolution.) But okay, fair enough, we don’t hit people even when they’re clearly begging for it.

In truth a far better weapon is humor. Don’t hit, mock! For one, because that’s Dumb Donnie’s Achilles’ heel. Somewhere deep down inside he knows most intelligent people see him as ignorant, stupid, and incompetent. Mocking him for it gets under his skin in a big way. Biden should have done more head-shaking, rolling his eyes, and making faces.

Because I think there comes a time when evil just can’t be ignored. It must be fought. [Speaking of evil, see final comment.]

One thing that struck me was the question about a peaceful transfer of power. Harris gave a good answer, but I think she missed a bet in not pointing out how extraordinary it was to even have to ask the question. It’s a real sign of our times.

I also think she missed a bet on the final question from the 8th grader. Why not admit the question hits the heart of the problem? She did point out Biden is more inclusive in working across the aisle, but I felt there could have been stronger more pointed answer there to close on.


I read an article a while back about a study that compared people who tend to fight back with those who tend turn the other cheek. It was mainly focused on internet social media and the general perception that men are “defensive” when challenged and fight back whereas supposedly women don’t.

The study found the men were generally happier, that standing up for oneself promoted a better mental health self image. As a guy, as someone who definitely has a warrior’s heart, that makes perfect sense to me. Of course it does.

On the other hand, the murder in one of the Agatha Christie books I read recently was viewed by everyone around her as kind of an idiot, and she took secret pleasure in knowing she was much smarter than they realized. So there certainly are alternate paths if one can manage them. In many ways, turning the other cheek really is the stronger position — it takes genuine strength of character (strength I confess is sometimes beyond me).

Bottom line, I liked how Kamala Harris responded to Pence.


Of course, the real debate buzz was about the fly:

“Pence of the Flies”

The moment I saw it I knew it would be one of the big hits. A fly hanging out on the Q-tip. Priceless!

The thing I kept thinking about was how many times flies have been associated with big E Evil and Satan’s Minions. “Lord of the Flies” is the name of a book everyone had to read in school, but it’s also another name for Beelzebub.

So you really couldn’t have a more clear symbolism there.

§ §

Ironically, that wasn’t the evil I referred to above. I’ll get to that below.

Before that, one very good thing: Keith Olbermann is back doing political commentary! I’ve been a fan since he did Countdown on MSNBC. His leaving was, in fact, rather the beginning of the end for me and MSNBC. (I went through a brief Nicole Wallace crush phase, but I got over it. Mostly.)

But, damn, Keith is back!

It isn’t just that I get a kick out of his approach. I really like the guy for being an awesome baseball historian, major fan of the game, and a serious dog-lover, to boot. An alright guy in my book.

And now he’s left ESPN so he can participate in the 2020 election. Yay!!

He is, I have to say, in full throat here. There is some part of me that does find it as rabid as some right-wing stuff, and I don’t like rabid, but under the heading of standing up, there comes a time when maybe some anger and disgust is called for.

Honestly, it was something I was hoping to see a little bit of at both debates.

§ §

The evil I spoke of is this [lots of expletives deleted] Dell XPS 15 laptop and Dell accessories. While writing the paragraph above the paragraph with the “[Speaking of evil…]” note, my Dell wireless mouse decided Bluetooth channel #1 just wasn’t working for it and so the mouse just quit.

Trying to diagnose the problem just made things worse. I lost full control of the keyboard (wireless or on the laptop itself), and even the touch pad wasn’t giving me full control (it was like a SHIFT key was on, but none was).

I finally had to power the laptop off to regain any control at all. But I couldn’t get the mouse to work. Bluetooth just wouldn’t recognize it. I finally happened to try Bluetooth channel #3 (the keyboard is using #2), and suddenly Bluetooth said, Oh, yeah, I see a mouse now.

I have come to hate this [lots of expletives deleted] Dell laptop. Its network issues have become the bane of my computing life, and it’s never been reliable regarding Bluetooth. The XPS 15 is supposedly a good line, but you sure couldn’t prove it by me. This thing sucks all the balls.

Every day I think I should just order an HP (I want to buy American if I can). Then I could take this POS to the firing range and shoot holes in it. That would be so satisfying.

Ugh. I’m in a truly horrible mood. Hurt my knee so I can’t do my morning walks, which is really bumming me out, and on top of everything else in the world, it’s starting to feel like a bit too much. I have to keep remembering the phrase Olbermann got from a beloved teacher:

Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

25 responses to “A Better Debate

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    Have to admit I skipped this one too. I think I’ve concluded that my mental wellbeing is better just reading about political debates after the fact, even debates without our deranged president.

    Sounds like the next one may not happen. The presidential debate commission wants to go virtual and Trump says he won’t do it. Good riddance as far as I’m concerned.

    Man that Dell. My development manager has a Dell XPS 13 and loves it, but he’s always having problems with it, making me wonder if he’s just in love with the idea of it. I know some people who use HPs and love them, but I also know one or two who don’t. Laptops brands are tough.

    My new Surface Book has been working out okay, although the webcam sometimes wigs out and becomes inaccessible for everything until a reboot. And I’m having similar issues with the touchpad that I had with my old one, but I’ve gotten used to it. But I can’t really recommend it. It’s expensive for what it does. I got it to minimize change in a year of change and burned a lot of Amazon reward points on it.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Since I read, rather than watch or listen to, the news, I haven’t seen Kamala Harris that much — mainly just in the Primary debates. I wanted to see how she handled herself in such an important spot. Definitely a risk to my mental health — the last one was an abuse. It’s hard hearing Pence lie so blatantly (knowing how few will bother to fact check), but I was expecting it.

      It certainly didn’t change anything for me, nor could it probably, but it was interesting to see. The fly was worth the price of admission. We’ll just call him Pence of the Flies from now on. Or just ‘Bub for short.

      This laptop has completely poisoned me towards Dell. I have issues with the machine, the monitor, the keyboard, and the mouse, so Dell is 0-4 with me. Factor in that my attempt to get service back when it was still in warranty amounted to nothing, and it’s 0-5.

      I know what you mean about change. I’ve been in the Wintel world since the beginning because the Apple world didn’t have what I needed back then. These days it would hardly matter — compilers are available for all platform as are the various other tools I use — but all my files and experience are Wintel at this point.

      I have considered switching to a Mac. That would match with my iPad and iPhone (iPod, too, for that matter). But I’ve heard about hardware issues with Macs, too.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I’m the same way with news, but I’d seen Harris in plenty of clips. And I also knew Pence was going to have me wanting to put my head in a blender if I listened to him for any amount of time.

        I used a Macbook Pro for several years. I have to say it the best laptop I ever had. I tried replacing it with a Macbook Air, but was underwhelmed by the performance and screen quality.

        That, and after about 4-5 years of using Mac OS X on my laptop, I was ready to get back to Windows. Similar to you, I came up on Windows, and it’s the platform that, when I need to, I can drop down to a lower level easier than I could with OS X. And I just never took to Finder.

        But I also never had issues with the hardware. The touchpad worked better than any I’d used before. The ones on my Surface Books are adequate, but glitchy, as pretty much all of the Windows based ones have been for me. I did have a pretty good experience with the old IBM ones years ago, which would be Lenovos now, but I have no idea how good they currently are.

        I use both an iPad and iPhone, and I find them good for what I use them for, but I’m frequently frustrated by their limitations, and Apple’s paradigm of only giving you one way to do things, their way.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I did take the headphones off a few times when Q-tip was speaking. 😉

        Apple generally speaking does hardware well. They’re like Disney amusement parks. They really are just about the best at what they do, and they charge you well for it. I used a Mac at work for a brief period when it looked like I might be supporting Mac users, but The Company decided to swing entirely Wintel.

        (That was a weird position change. It took several months to complete current projects, so by the time I actually switched to the supposed Mac Support position, there were no more Macs (officially 🙂 ). It was months before they repurposed me. I came to work with literally nothing to do. So I taught myself Unix. Which came in handy later… until The Company also got rid of the Sun Unix boxes. I have to say my career kept me on my toes!

        That’s very true what you say about lower levels. Especially in the early days I did a lot of low-level stuff that Macs couldn’t even come close to. I’ve designed micro-processor systems, and I’ve never liked Apples arm’s length policy. I loved how open IBM PCs were! Since we serviced them internally, I had access to schematics and BIOS listings and all that good stuff. Ah, the “good old days” of bare metal programming.

        I haven’t really had my phone long enough to be frustrated by limitations. It still blows me away I’m walking around with so much computing power and network access in my pocket. And a video camera, GPS, etc. I will say I’ve never liked touch interfaces and owning touch-based devices has confirmed it big time.

        The network issues this thing has seem to be getting worse. I may have to pull this thing apart and see if there’s a separate network card or module I can replace. I’m starting to get connection issues all the time. Infuriating.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        On Mac and Windows, we went through similar shifts. In the 2005-2015 time frame, there was a greater emphasis on academic support, so the in-thing was to be familiar with Macs, hence my Macbook Pro. In the 2015-2018 period, central IT turned more heavily to administrative support, and so Windows. We might be in a shift back now, although if I keep working, I’m not inclined to switch back to Mac.

        I’ve been using smartphones since the early Blackberry days. (I got one because I had to support executives using them.) Don’t get me wrong, it is very nice to have that kind of computing available anywhere you go. But when I’m near a full computer, I’m much more likely to use it than the phone.

        On the network issues, I think we’ve talked about this before, but have you considered the issues may be with your router? How old is it? I know mine hadn’t gotten pretty long in the tooth at one point, and after I upgraded it, a lot of issues disappeared. (The current one is actually getting medium in the tooth, so I may have to think about that soon.)

      • Wyrd Smythe

        That was one thing about Windows, centralized support. That’s why my company also went that way. Until then there were segments (mostly the research science groups) that were heavily Mac-based and the CAD-CAM groups were Unix based (Sun pizza boxes). Both those groups were supported by separate in-company organizations not part of Corporate IT. Part of the move to Windows was IT grabbing all computer support under its umbrella. I’d managed to avoid working in Corp IT until then, but I finally got absorbed into it as well. (Which, frankly, was the start of things going downhill in my eyes.)

        I completely agree about using a full computer when possible. My phone I use mostly for reading books. I don’t even like browsing or YouTube on the phone, but it’s a great eReader. I use the iPad for a lot of browsing and YT. For some reason I tend to read the more technical books on the iPad, maybe because of diagrams and such.

        I’ve long liked the idea of a big monitor and keyboard (and mouse, damn it, really don’t like touch screens) all configured with Bluetooth, so if I just walk up to the “computing station” it links with the phone in my pocket. Phones aren’t quite up to the computational ability, but they’re getting there.

        My router isn’t super new, but the phone guy said it’s the most current they have. Apparently I can’t buy off-the-shelf for the DSL modem part. I nominally have 80 mbs, but I’m actually — at the modem — getting closer to 90+ so the DSL itself is pretty solid. The way they pull that off is by running two phone lines into the house and to the jack. The modem is seeing two phone lines, which apparently is proprietary. The phone guy did admit their wireless isn’t the best, and I’d probably get better wireless performance by adding gear. Either a mesh network or he mentioned the Nighthawk router as a more powerful one. Either solution would attach to the modem through the hardline, and I’d turn off the wireless radio of the modem.

        But my phone, pad, and TV, are all fine and don’t show the persistent daily (make that hourly) problems this damn laptop does. The phone guy and I did side-by-side tests while he was here (he had an HP), and he was getting much higher speeds, and more steady performance, than I was. It’s this damned Dell.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I’m the same way with my phone. It’s my primary e-reader. The only exceptions being for graphic novels and scientific books with lots of diagrams and images. But for straight novels, it’s my primary device. I’ve used hardware Kindles twice, but I often want to look things up when reading, and a full color device just makes that a better experience.

        Yeah, definitely sounds it’s the Dell. Or at least it’s a compatibility issue with it and your network gear, which can’t easily be changed. Best of luck on either replacing the network card or finding a replacement!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I’m hoping the network care or module is something I can plug’n’chug rather than intrinsic to the motherboard. There is some logic in a replaceable module for accommodating different situations or evolving standards. Some of the poking around I’ve done finds hints of hardware network issues with Dell laptops. I’ve also found hints that it might be the McAfee AV suite interfering. I’ve certainly known AV to be an issue. I’m tempted to make a careful full backup and trying running with the McAfee turned off. (And I still need to get around to running days-long ping tests from my other devices to make sure I’ve isolated the problem to the laptop.)

        Kindles. Even as early as the other computer tech was when they came out I had a sense a Kindle was just too limiting. Back then I was more oriented on programming and 3D rendering and other projects a Kindle wasn’t any good for. As color e-ink becomes really good, I could see the value of a very lightweight book-sized device that linked to one’s whatever other computer but allowed easy reading. Essentially what Kindles seem to be turning into.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        If you’re running Windows 10, if you cut off antivirus, it will hound you to turn it back on. I actually run with the built in Windows Defender and have had better luck with it than I used to have with Symantec. It’s been many years since I ran McAfee, so not sure how it compares.

        If they do get color in the paperwhite line, I might give it a try again. The displays are easier on my eyes. But I like being connected on the iPhone while reading, and I feel isolated with just the Kindle paperwhites.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Are you saying it would hound me to turn McAfee back on? Well, I can ignore the hounding. I do have the Windows Defender on to some extent, but I don’t know how much it defers to the McAfee. I’ve been reading about how Defender is actually one of the best AV suites out there and that most people should be perfectly safe with just Defender.

        If true, I’d be more than pleased to dump McAfee. Symantec and I go back to the first days of Norton (those were some sweet tools at the time), but I’ve had issues with the modern Symantec as well.

        I had the impression Kindles had a browser? Are they just readers?

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        I think it hounds you to turn on whatever AV you have installed. I can’t say whether Defender provides better detection, but at least for me, I’ve had less system performance issues from it than the alternatives.

        The Kindle Paperwhite I have doesn’t have a browser (unless they added it in an update or something), although it did have limited abilities to look up some stuff online, but it was black and white, slow, and limited. It’s really just for reading books, although I think the newer ones can stream audio books to Bluetooth enabled sound systems.

        The Kindle Fire is a full tablet and does have a browser. I bought one years ago just to play with. It was really just a low end Android tablet, although restricted to just Amazon’s ecosystem, at least back then.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Let’s just hope there’s never a transparent Kindle. Those Cinema Sins guys (and the other channel of theirs I follow TV Sins) have starting ringing up Sins on transparent displays. In the last one, the guy mentioned the possibility of tech companies making such devices, not because they make any sense, but because people have seen them in so many SF shows and want them. Good point, that could happen.

        My years working in (the photography part of) a print shop gave me a lot of exposure to images on clear substrate (various types of film negatives and positives). Also used a lot of transparencies in teaching. Actually trying to read anything on a transparent substrate quickly teaches you how bad an idea that is.

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        It would probably turn out similar to the flip phones, which everyone thought was cool for a few years because of the resemblance to the old Star Trek communicators. Once the novelty wore off, designs quickly moved on.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Heh, yeah. One thing,… two things, actually, about those flip phones was that they angled when open to fit better around your head (talking into a thin rectangular brick is a bit weird), and they had a nice (real) keypad. (I only gave up my flip phone about a year ago when it was clear support for it even working was going away.)

        I do love what digital can do, but at heart I’m an analogue guy. 😀

  • Michael

    An interesting thing about this debate was that I thought Pence had talked longer than Kamila because of how he kept running long and talking over the moderator, but it came out almost a perfect 50-50 split in terms of time of possession, to make a terrible sports analogy. That was surprising.

    The great shame of politics is that incredibly smart people have to pitch their wares to a public that is largely susceptible to image, and not interested in really taking on the content. It’s a show. We know this. And I get it. It’s the fact that such important decisions boil down to some lowest common denominator that is difficult to swallow.

    What I would like to see in these debates is the following: one, moderator’s with the power to just silence microphones or hit a button that overlays all speech with a dial tone or something, so we don’t have to watch this absurd trespassing on the mores of decent conversation; two, give each candidate a block of time for a closing statement at the end of the debate so they know they will have the chance to tie things up at the end that they maybe couldn’t address in the moment; and three, have a panel of bipartisan fact-checkers show a scorecard at the end that shows how many times a candidate lied, and how many times a candidate simply didn’t answer a question. I don’t imagine either party would be overly enthused about such rules, but I think it would help.

    Otherwise, we’re just going to be stuck with these pose-striking affairs that unfortunately level the playing field between con artists and those who wish to have an honest debate. I’m not saying either party necessarily falls into the latter category, but I do feel there was a difference between Harris and Pence in terms of their commitments. They both failed to clarify numerous things, which is par for the course. But I felt there was a real difference in their agendas with respect to providing an honest presentation of things.

    And the fly was amazing.


    • Michael

      PS – Hope the knee feels better soon! It’s tough when we’re laid up and can’t enjoy a bit of exercise to clear out the mind and body!

      • Wyrd Smythe

        Thanks. It’s really bumming me out. The best time of year for it, I love my morning walks, and I’m in week two of missing out on them. I’m at an age where things break in permanent ways, so it’s discouraging.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      That fly really stood out against his cotton-white hair. It really cracked me up!

      I think I read Pence got 55%, which is much lower than it seemed like, so, yeah, I agree the perception comes from this style. He kind of shot himself in the foot in some ways. Lost the women by being “that guy” and lost the bloviating white men because of his mild style and buzzy voice.

      Our cultural focus on appearances and facades has disappointed me pretty much all my life. One of my whiteboards has a set of long-term ponder points. One that’s been there for at least a decade is “Lies & Illusions (Smoke & Mirrors)” — which is exactly about our fixation with what things look like rather than what they are. We are such sad silly apes sometimes.

      I’m sure a lot of us wish for an enforcement of speaking times, given that respect for each other or the process has gone out the window. It would also be very good if fact-checking were a part of the process rather than left to the various “news” outlets doing post-game analysis. I mean post-debate; the sports analogies are hard to ignore sometimes. (Except for the utter lack of any sense of sportsmanship, fair play, or the idea of the better player(s) winning. The blind team loyalties and sense of ridiculous spectacle is almost exactly alike, though.)

      The idea of a closing block is interesting. I hadn’t thought of that before. That might eliminate the tendency to use one’s time to address a previous question. (To the wish list I’ll add: Moderators requiring an answer to their questions and disallowing off-topic answers.)

      There’s an actual organization, the Presidential Debate Commission (or whatever they’re called), and you’d think they’d take more responsibility for honest and fair debate. As you say, a bi-partisan panel with factual (not opinion-based) debate analysis — questions dodged, interruptions, factual misstatements — would be a breath of fresh air.

      Not that it’ll ever happen. Spin is just too instrumental to our way of life.

      (A fantasy: If I were a candidate I’d bring a box with a big red button on it to the debate. I’d prep and prep to make sure I was in full command of the facts. The box, when the button was hit, would emit a loud obnoxious klaxon sound. I’d use it every time my opponent lied. Maybe I’d have two buttons. The other would emit sarcastic laughter. Harris did way better than Biden in reacting, but I’d like to see a lot more rolling of eyes and facial reactions to stupid statements and outright lies.)

      It does not at all escape me how many questions Harris dodged, too. That’s not uncommon in debates (or politics in general); there are issues that are really hard to pin candidates down on, and there are places they just won’t go. (There was a recent clip of the Gov. of Arizona (?) in a debate twisting herself in four-dimensional shapes to avoid her past allegiance to Twitler. The moderator kept asking the question, and she kept twisting away from it. The rats are starting to flee.)

      I really want to believe the ship of state if finally righting itself (at least somewhat), but given the last four years I’ll believe it when I see Biden and Harris actually in the Oval Office. The last few years have made me extremely cynical about (and sadly a bit hateful of) my fellow humans.

      Different worldviews are one thing, and they make life interesting, but this polarization and division and tendency to wholeheartedly believe in bullshit is very disappointing.

  • rung2diotimasladder

    So sorry to hear about your knee. Hopefully it’s nothing serious and you can get back to your walks soon.

    You know, as for the VP debate, I wasn’t terribly impressed. I thought she’d rip him a new one (like she did with Biden), but it just felt like two mealy-mouthed politicians saying nothing.

    I did enjoy the fly. That was great.

    I actually thought Biden held up pretty well against Trump’s bullying strategy—then again, I was expecting a catastrophic performance on Biden’s part. I couldn’t understand why the newscasters were shocked when Biden called The Clown a clown. I thought he showed great restraint. It would’ve taken every fiber of my being to stop myself from jumping over the podium and strangling The Clown.

    On computers, I just got a new MacBook Air earlier this year and I’m pretty happy with it. Then again, I’m not computer literate, and Apples are designed for morons like me. I tried getting a cheaper PC, one recommended by my computer-literate friend, and it came with some much crap on it that I couldn’t figure out how to get off, so after a couple of days of trying I just got frustrated and returned it. Plus, it had a touch screen, which to me doesn’t make sense for a laptop.

    The only thing I don’t like with my Mac is that I get a weird glitchy screen that last for half a second. I have no idea what it is. It’s so fast I can’t tell what’s going on, and of course, I have no idea what to do about it. Other than that, it’s great. I did get upgraded storage because I tend to hold on to computers for as long as possible and I never want to think about storage again. The keyboard feels nice (at least for my small hands) and I can finally update Pages. I like the apps that came with it too. Most of all, it doesn’t waste my time—no Candy Crush to get rid of.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Yeah, the knee isn’t getting better despite staying off it as much as possible. I almost think it’s getting worse, so it’s looking like I’ll have to brave the medical care profession.

      There was a lot of standard politician behavior on display in the VP debate, I agree. Harris dodged a bunch of questions, too. (We’ve gone so far down the rabbit hole that, on some level, normal bullshit politics was a relief.)

      People’s reactions to Biden in his debate have been interesting. They vary a lot. Some think he totally blew it, some admire his restraint and bearing up under the bully abuse. I, too, would have had a hard time restraining myself, but I still think the right tactic is mockery and naked derision and active disdain.

      I saw some articles about Macs having screen glitches. Something about the connector between the screen and keyboard? I don’t own one, so didn’t pay any attention. It’s definitely true that Apples are for those who are less computer-literate while other systems appeal to those who are. (For the same reason: What makes Apples great for normal people makes them a pain for the techy. They’re too hands off.)

      One issue with vendor PCs is all the crap they install on them to give them added value. (Ha!) All those apps seem to come in two flavors: Adequately decent applications you’ll never use; and bloatware from the vendor, often intrusive, rarely helpful, and occasionally adware (or worse, spyware).

      • rung2diotimasladder

        So sorry to hear about your knee. Good luck with that…I hope it’s not serious.

        I know what you mean about normal BS politics being a relief. It’s still boring, though. Then again, boring is good these days.

        On Biden, I think the difference in reactions might come down to expectations. I had set a very low bar for him and was impressed when he didn’t exhibit memory loss or call someone a pony soldier or flying butt monkey. But I would rather have heard Bernie put Donald in his place (you may not like Bernie, but don’t you think it would’ve been cathartic?) So, deep down, I’m with you on the active disdain. I yearned for a sharp mind and tongue. I just had zero expectation of getting that from Biden, so I was impressed with how well he did playing defense.

        On PCs…wow, adware, spyware? That’s insane. Things have certainly changed. I still have my first Dell laptop from my sophomore year of college. It came with Word installed, a few other good things, and that was it. After that I got a teeny, tiny little Acer, and that worked well for me. Many years later when I needed to get a new computer, I discovered they no longer came with any real word processing. Then I discovered I had to pay a yearly subscription if I wanted to get MS Word. That was what made me switch to Apple/Pages. For me, word processing is more than half the point.

        On that note, I’m pretty happy with Pages, especially after messing around with Scrivener (love the features, if only I could figure out how to use it.) Now that I have my new Mac, I’m able to use the newer version of Pages, which has some pretty cool additions. I just used the invoice template…so easy. And they have several templates for ebooks. I actually enjoyed playing around with it, and I don’t usually enjoy that sort of thing. Same goes with iMovie. I can just mess around with it without knowing what I’m doing. I think that’s the point of Apple—idiots, fear not! You can’t screw it up! But yeah, the flip side is limitations. And my new laptop has no USB port, which is mind boggling.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I don’t know why it took me so long (it passed through my head a few times, but kept right on going), but I finally dug out a compression bandage I have and wrapped the knee. It’s improved more in the almost two days with the bandage than it did with two weeks of rest. Weird.

        Not out of the woods, and I’m obviously have to have it looked at.

        A debate between P45 and Bernie Sanders would have had far too much yelling for me! I’m not sure I’d see that as cathartic so much as annoying. I don’t see Sanders approach as effective, but that’s just me.

        I can see how a low bar would shape your reactions differently. I figured that after four years of P45 and all that debate prep they’d really come out swinging with a plan. So I was disappointed.

        I don’t think it’s spyware or adware. If so, my AV package isn’t very good. (And I don’t do the sorts of things that lead to infections.) It’s always possible, but I’m dubious it’s that. I have heard about issues with Dell laptop network cards and I’ve heard about issues with McAfee (the AV package) interacting badly with the network.

        As I was saying with Mike, I’ve been in the Windows-Intel world pretty much since I started with personal computers back in the 1980s, so it’s a world I know well, have tools for, and have a lot of files and applications for. I’m kind of at a point where I could change platforms, especially since I no longer need WinTel for work compatibility.

        As you say, Apple’s whole deal involves how easy it is for non-computer users to use their stuff. And I think that’s true. For me it leads to the complaint that how that’s accomplished is through not letting the user make choices about a lot of things and not letting them look under the hood to tweak things “just right” (because that can lead to all sorts of bad things if you don’t know what you’re doing). So it’s much easier, but confining for the highly computer literate.

        You’re a perfect example of the ideal Apple customer. You don’t want to mess with computers, you just want to write stuff as effortlessly and effectively as possible.

        Funny thing is, Apple is not intuitive — at least not to me. My first Apple product was my iPod, and I couldn’t figure out how to work the thumb-wheel (never having seen such a thing). The up-down-left-right-center clicky I got right away, that was obvious, but sliding your finger along a wheel I had to find out about in the little instruction paper.

        And long ago I sat down at a friend’s recent model Apple Mac and couldn’t make head or tail of the operating system. I was completely lost on how to use the computer. No doubt a little instruction would have had me up to speed quickly, but it wasn’t intuitive to me at all.

      • rung2diotimasladder

        I’m glad to hear your knee’s improving with the wrap. Maybe that’s a sign it won’t require anything invasive?

        On the debate, yeah, I get your point about the yelling. You wouldn’t be able to hear what anyone was saying, so maybe it wouldn’t be a good thing.

        I can see why you might not find the Mac’s trackpad intuitive…I’d say the apps are more immediately intuitive, especially those two I mentioned, iMovie and Pages. That said, yeah, it’s not hard to figure out the swiping features, and you get used to it real fast. At this point I can’t imagine not having the trackpad. So efficient. It might be one of the best things about the Mac, actually.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I’m hoping for the best on the knee. The improvement is a good sign, I think.

        Just to be needlessly precise, it was the thumb-wheel on my iPod that was so new I didn’t realize what I was supposed to do. My friend’s Mac (as I recall, this was a while ago) had a mouse. It was how to find (let along launch) apps or get back to them once I’d switch between them that totally befuddled me. The metaphors of the Mac desktop were unknown — and definitely not intuitive to me. One just has to learn the metaphor and control gestures; then it all makes sense.

        That said, once past that first bump, Apple stuff is indeed generally super easy.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Last night’s debate wasn’t bad.

    Biden is the clear overall winner, but he didn’t do as well as he could have in the first segment about COVID. That was the one place P45 won a round by hammering the need to reopen — which I think is true. If the economy completely collapses, that’s no good, either.

    Biden needed to turn the attack better there. He had a really great line, “We’re learning to die with it!” (when P45 said we’re learning to live with it), but then he stepped on it and diluted it by rambling on. That was the point to turn to P45 and bullet point that mofu. Hammer out those points. Number of deaths. Death rates so high. The facts speak for themselves. Bullet point them.

    Biden got a lot stronger and more forceful later, which was nice to see. Go get’m tiger! I also applauded the screen when he (finally) replied that the reason he and Obama “didn’t get anything done” was a Republican Congress. I would have put the word “stonewalling” in front of that, but at least he finally said it.

    Certainly not a game-changer for anyone, but interesting to see the contrast one last time. (It really does help to have actively ignored seeing or hearing anything P45 says or writes. I can take that miserable excuse of a human for 90 minutes, but I was glad it was over. I’ll be even more glad if/when it’s finally, finally, finally all over.)

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