Letter to the editor: No revolution needed

A recent letter highlighted a good bit why there is even a question of Trump being re-elected, in fact, elected in the first place. The only revolution needed is the number of the populous that are involved in the daily job of running the country, at all levels. We live in a representative democracy, a two party system, and a tri-part Federal government, that only works if all adults pay attention and are not totally involved in daily life that they can’t even bother to vote. It’s about attention and education. That being said, this recent letter, puts the blame for recent problems on one man, Trump and that all will be fixed by elected a new president, Biden or not. And the flaws of the present are due to those men and their supporters, both sides of which are the problem. And here is the flaw, each side is supported by an administration, who are not dummies, a Congress of 525 mostly smart people, and the rest of the country sitting on it’s collective butts by and large. We are where we are because as a group, the Republicans have waged a 30 plus year war on the general public and too many of the Democrats have waged debates like this blaming everyone but themselves. The only flaw with the Progressives, is rather than working together, they debate and drag down their best hope for progress, starting with POTUS but really including the Congress and Courts. Stop it before it’s too late, it is a two party system, forget the third party nonsense, forget the nitpicking and get on with working on solutions. A famous quote of Will Rogers, is “I am a member of no organized political party, I am a Democrat” — past time to make that false.

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great discussion of the future

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My Turn: The Internet is not unlimited

The current pandemic has an added urgency to the existing trend of moving to streaming – consuming live content via streaming.  Already many offerings are moving from classic TV (on the air or cable) to streaming services over the internet.  There is an assumption that internet has unlimited capability.  I am not talking about if your home or business has a high enough speed (technically bandwidth) connection for decent viewing.  I am talking about the data pipe that all the various users (really data streams) follow to reach your viewer: be it phone, tablet or large TV screen.  As someone who has been working on and with Internet and web services far longer then most of you know they existed, let me clarify and suggest some alternatives.   I am going to try to cover some very technical topics, without overwhelming details.

First let us clarify that the internet has largely two parts, the very high speed data pipes that route data, most of which are fiber, and the local connect, often called the last mile.  The last mile systems are largely designed to handle an ‘average’ load and has some ability to handle ‘burst’ traffic.  What that means for you, is that most commercial use is during business hours and recreation (read Netflix) is in the evening.  Now the internet infrastructure works with data packets and that allows for caching or what you might have seen as ‘now buffering’. Back up a bit and understand that older cable TV is NOT internet, it uses a similar but separate data transmission technique.  This all works fairly well OR did until …

Most consumer streaming is not real-time dependent, which means the hardware near you can buffer (cache) ahead of what you are watching enough that you never see a delay or even know it is happening.  The web has similar techniques you never even know.  That is not so true of live transmissions, as many of you are finding out.  The technology of live streams is well known and the dozen or so options vary mainly in how their user interface interacts with you.  They all get tripped up by overloaded internet.  Also, I’ve not mentioned the jump between the internet cable (called pipe) and the Wifi link that many of you use on your devices where ever you are — another section to get overloaded.

A quick jump to EVERYONE using the internet to replace face-to-face communications (what we call IRL, In real live, acknowledging the difference). That added to the trend over streaming I just mentioned.  That is for school and business, not traveling and just plain staying sane.  Do not let us now forget that we live in a largely rural area for many of you — where there is either limited, expensive  or even no high speed connections.

What does this all mean ?  At the very least plan on being disrupted when online, many of you already know web sites can be overloaded, add that you might not be able to get to them at all.  Try to pick less busy times for live sessions. Expect business meetings and school classes to be disrupted.  If you are of the more technical bent, look into smart devices like the Tivo or Plex that actually hold the whole TV show locally until you are ready to watch.  Go back to watching DVDs. And gee you could actually read a book or talk.

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What to do about Washington – Flip Congress Blue

It is very clear that the current ruling clique in Washington, DC has very little agenda to really help any part of the country expect for their direct supporters, mostly the very rich and a few special interest groups like the NRA or Anti-Tax movement.

What can been done about it ?
Here are a number of Democrats groups working to flip congress in the 2018 fall elections

More stories and details about what is needed

Why is this happening:
If you have any question about this being a recent strategy you need to read Republican strategy papers dating back into the 1980’s, specifically the Powell Memo:


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How to print just the notes on an Libreoffice Impress presentation

If you are here you found there is no easy way to print just the notes, without any slides, full or thumbnail.

Here is a solution for those with linux available, or perl on windows, possibly cygwin.

This script reads the odp file and outputs simple text:

It requires:
use XML::LibXML::Reader;
use Text::Unidecode;
and unzip.

It also needs: XML::LibXML::PrettyPrint and Data::Dumper
when debugging is turned on.

Since it actually unwinds the ODP format, there is a chance it might now work with version changes,
so please advise me.

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Military buildup not the way to get great

In 1991, the USSR fell, and Regan and the US military got credit for defeating the ‘evil empire’.  In the NY Times of Aug 1992, my father wrote a letter.
He was a life long defense contractor and an expert in Soviet and US military and US-Soviet relations.  In his short letter, he outlined the time line between the end of WW2 and the collapse.  The USSR fell because after the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, the Soviet military had first call on industrial production.
In short, moving, to a strategy of an offensive posture, lead to a stagnate economy and eventually bankrupted the USSR.
Mr Trump, we remind you those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it, and we don’t want you to take us with you. (readers can see the whole letter at rzbang.com – JLR letter to NY Times
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Rule by hypocracy: the republican way

Actually the proper term might be demagoguery, the constant repeating of statements based on a political philosophy without regard to facts,  which has now degenerated to a personality cult.  We see statements coming from Washington, and DT as to his landslide or knowing more then others, when in fact, he won by close to the smallest margin in history and lost by a significant popular vote.  Turn to Congress and ignoring of what might be significant treasonous acts, after spending millions to chase rumors and suppositions about Hillary, never proving anything;  Not acting on a legitimate nomination to the supreme court while not fixing issues with major legislation, claiming to replace it with something better, which we have yet to see, oh, coming in March (what year).    What do we see from the same gang, locally, the usual rant from various locals about how Democrats should give DT a chance, after 8 years of blocking Mr Obama, or even are now acting with treason.  Even a local who is trying with, what I believe is good, intent, Issac Mass, gets caught up in it, on one hand (the Eastern overlay zone), no survey is needed because he lives near and knows better (hum, heard that somewhere before) yet literally the next day, saying the library proposal provides too much community space, and a survey is needed.
I could go on, just read tomorrow’s news (or alt-news) —
About time to get back to ruling based on real, verifiable facts, and considered judgment.
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Just the Facts: Obit for Jay Forester

Late last year, a great man, most have never heard of, passed on. Unless you are an engineer you don’t know that Jay Forester, Prof at MIT, established the field of systems modeling.  Also called simulation, this is the mathematical methodology that underlies what we take for granted in weather prediction, including understanding climate change.  Starting with modeling chemical factories before they were built, this is far more important than seen at first glance.  Without these techniques, we get the outrageous statements we have seen in multitudes in the last election cycle.  It turns out that ‘common sense’ is a very poor predictor of the future, it takes a rigorous application of data using science and mathematics to really understand what policies lead to the best outcomes in the public sector.  His work can best be described in the terms ‘counter-intuitive’ and ‘unexpected consequences’.   It may be obvious that mathematical models are required to send a spaceship to the moon, not quite so to understand why some gun controls work and others don’t, why some types of police patrols are effective and other cause community upheaval.  Even more so, that the heavy handed lobbying of the NRA has limited our understanding of gun rules, by blocking research that produces the real numbers that are needed for such models.  Other claims that need addressing: tax reduction leads to job creation, and the social security system is bankrupt or will be soon.  The real message of this story is that understanding the models, that Dr Forester’s work led to, is critical to proper policies in today’s complex world and must be based on real numbers, not guessing.
In short, good governing is not rocket science, it is far harder and needs all the tools technology can offer.
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Graffiti has a place

Graffiti has a place

I was a bit dismayed when I saw the Montague Police has proposed to not only make unwanted graffiti more of a crime (isn’t it already?) but to require building owners to remove it and outlaw spray paint. Unwanted defacement is one thing, but to restrict what a building owner can allow is going way too far, especially since Turners Falls for one, had made a major comeback by promoting public art via the River Culture project. Consider, if you will, the Mission District of San Francisco, one I know fairly well due to family living there. We spent the last three weeks wandering the side streets and alleys amidst the hundreds of stunning murals. This public display of art is what happens when you support “graffiti” artists to be more than spray and hide. When allowed on private property with owner’s permission, it reduces unsightly and unwanted graffiti, and even reduces police work. One group has taken it so far as to arrange for licensing of the artist’s work, to provide a source of income for budding artists. Look up “Balmy Alley” or “The Precita Eyes Muralists” (at precitaeyes.org). SO I urge you in Montague to vote against this ban, and support River Culture and your Local Cultural Council for public art projects.

RICH ROTH Greenfield

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A real economicst’s views on dealing with the US Economy

How about creating jobs? By STEPHANIE KELTON

Look, up in the sky! It’s a “fiscal cliff.” It’s a slope. It’s an obstacle course.

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter what we call it. It only matters what it is: a lamebrained package of economic depressants bearing down on a lame-duck Congress.

This hastily concocted mix of across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases for all was supposed to force Congress to get serious about dealing with our nation’s debt and deficit. The question everyone’s asking is this: On whose backs should we balance the federal budget? One side wants higher taxes; the other wants spending cuts. And while that debate rages, the right question is being ignored: Why are we worried about balancing the federal budget at all?

You read that right. We may strive to balance our work and leisure time and to eat a balanced diet. Our Constitution enshrines the principle of balance among our three branches of government. And when it comes to our personal finances, we know that the family checkbook must balance.

So when we hear that the federal government hasn’t balanced its books in more than a decade, it seems sensible to demand a return to that kind of balance in Washington as well. But that would actually be a huge mistake.

History tells the tale. The federal government has achieved fiscal balance (even surpluses) in just seven periods since 1776, bringing in enough revenue to cover all of its spending during 1817-21, 1823-36, 1852-57, 1867-73, 1880-93, 1920-30 and 1998-2001. We have also experienced six depressions. They began in 1819, 1837, 1857, 1873, 1893 and 1929.

Do you see the correlation? The one exception to this pattern occurred in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the dot-com and housing bubbles fueled a consumption binge that delayed the harmful effects of the Clinton surpluses until the Great Recession of 2007-09.

Why does something that sounds like good economics — balancing the budget and paying down debt — end up harming the economy? The answers may surprise you.

Spending is the lifeblood of our economy. Without it, there would be no sales, and without sales, no profits and no reason for any private firm to produce anything for the marketplace. We tend to forget that one person’s spending becomes another person’s income. At its most basic level, macroeconomics teaches that spending creates income, income creates sales and sales create jobs.

And creating jobs is what we need to do. Until the fiscal cliff distracted us, we all understood that. Today, we have roughly 3.4 people competing for every available job in America. The unemployment rate is like a macroeconomic thermometer — when it registers a high rate, it’s an indication that the deficit is too small.

So in our current circumstance — a growing but fragile economy — policymakers are wrong to focus on the fact that there is a deficit. It’s just a symptom. Instituting tax increases and spending cuts will pull the rug out from under consumers, thereby disrupting the income-sales-jobs relationship. Slashing trillions from the deficit will only depress spending for years to come, worsening unemployment and setting back economic growth.

The effort to balance the books that’s at the heart of the fiscal cliff is simply misguided. Instead of butting heads over whose taxes to raise and which programs to cut, lawmakers should be haggling over how to use the tool of a federal deficit to boost incomes, employment and growth. That’s the balancing act we need.

Stephanie Kelton is an associate professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the founder and editor of New Economic Perspectives. She wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.

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