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Treating Meniere’s & Its Symptoms

All about Meniere’s Disease. Updated periodically.

When I’m questioned about why I’m retired already, or when someone airs doubts like are you really disabled? the subject of Meniere’s disease is bound to surface. It is bound to surface because Meniere’s disease is the answer to both questions. If you just stumbled across this article on my blog and want to know what is Meniere’s disease? I’ve never heard of it. I can understand that feeling. I’d never heard of it before its symptoms wrecked my life.

Continue reading “Treating Meniere’s & Its Symptoms”

Immigration Still?

facebook.com/RBReichnytimes.com

By the time October of last year rolled around I had already stopped commenting on immigration stories anymore. It was just too painful, too hard to follow and pretend that any of this shit was normal, should be considered normal. I have long considered myself the brother of my hispanic friends. My father’s service station in our hometown in the middle of the great plains was staffed with hispanics, men with brown skin and Spanish surnames. Their children were my friends. They occupied the same social status that I had in school. Not athletic and not masculine in the traditional sense, I was never going to be first class when it came to social standing. I was always a misfit; and as a misfit, I tended to group with the minorities who were generally outcast everywhere I went.

Watching hispanics tormented as the other among us is something that makes me physically ill. I can’t do it, and I don’t understand people who can, much less the people committing the inhumanities that I’ve been forced to witness these last four years.

The Wife’s foster mother is a Tejano. She married a police officer in the small Texas town where they lived, and she considers herself a part of his social standing as a white law enforcement official in their small town. Being from a small Texas town it is almost a given that the two of them supported Donald Trump when he declared himself for office. The Wife and I tried to talk sense into both of them the few times we’ve visited with them over the last four years, but that effort was fruitless. The signed color photo with the bulbous orange face and fake hair hangs in a location of pride in their living room.

She supported Donald Trump even after she had to avoid detention and deportation from the country, when it was discovered that her birth certificate came from a hospital where it was known that birth certificates were forged. There was no doubt she was born in the country because her parents were not immigrants. They were Tejanos.

Her parents and their parents before them had simply lived in a Spanish speaking area of the state that had never acknowledged the United States absorbing their Mexican state after it was severed from the mother country, and that area had remained a backwater that eventually dried up and blew away because of its disconnection from the current reality in Texas. Like a lot of places have done in different states over the years, as fortunes changed and trade changed and people changed or didn’t change.

But then Donald Trump and his White Nationalist agenda came along, and suddenly a person with brown skin who never had a reason to worry about being deported because she had never been out of the country had to face that reality even when she didn’t think of herself as Tejano anymore. She was a Texan and an American and why are you treating me like I was ever a Mexican? That was the reality that Stephen Miller created through the vehicle of Donald Trump and his accidental presidency.

Administration will house migrant kids in tents in Tornillo, Texas
nbcnews.com – Administration will house migrant kids in tents in Tornillo, Texas

…and that has been the United States that we have lived in for the last four years under Donald Trump’s almost dictatorship. The Wife’s foster mother supports the former president to this day as far as I know, and the immigration nightmare continues.

Through putting children in cages, pointing fingers at Barack Obama for putting children in cages (he didn’t. But he didn’t do enough, either) Letting these poor people languish and die from lack of care along the border. The lies about the border figured largely in the 2018 recapturing of the House of Representatives by the Democrats. Trump had gone too far and it was obvious to anyone who was paying attention that he was lying his ass off about immigrants. Then COVID happened and everything went to shit:

All Things Considered – Marisol Mendoza Has Been In ICE Detention Since 2016. Now, She Has COVID-19 – June 21, 2020

COVID spelled doom for Donald Trump. Anyone who follows politics should have understood this fact, but apparently a lot of people didn’t, including a lot of his supporters. Joe Biden won because he wasn’t Donald Trump and the United States wanted Joe Biden back in the White House, like it was when everything was better than it has been for the last four years.

Over the last year of COVID the immigration problem has just gotten worse. Now we have people trying to escape from disease as well as trying to escape from terrorism and poverty in their home countries. We have a different president but largely the same government, and everyone expects miracles right now. They expect miracles even when Texas has torpedoed Joe Biden’s lukewarm migration agenda that simply reverts to the Obama White House status quo of four years ago:

Texas thinks that’s going too far. We apparently like being able to rough up anyone we don’t think belongs here and then send them back across the Mexican border whether they even immigrated from there or not. We push people back across the border and then say “What? His legs were fine when we dropped him off:”

So let me get this straight, CPB. You are saying they broke their own legs after you dropped them off across the border? Are you sure that is the story you want to stick with? What, exactly, are you trying to say?

This is the atmosphere that heralds the return of the god-king Donald Trump and his head White Nationalist Stephen Miller to the evangelical tent circus that Donald Trump has been fleecing suckers with since 2016:

Beau of the Fifth ColumnLet’s talk about Trump and Miller coming back this week – Feb 24, 2021

When Beau says that Biden isn’t going to propose anything remotely close to being up to his standards, I’m right there with him. There isn’t any way that what I think justice for these people will look like legislatively will ever be proposed or make it through congress because congress doesn’t understand what its job is. That is the first point that needs addressing.

I don’t understand why the representatives who stood up and said “Biden didn’t win fairly” were even seated in Congress. Their credentials should have been rejected and their states should have been sanctioned until they managed to send representatives that were willing to work within the system as it has been created. If 117th legislature had done this policed their own bodies as they have the right to do, then the policies that Biden wants to pursue would be achievable because the states that don’t want to be part of the process would have no voice in the process.

Saying that immigrants can’t come here is an unenforceable position unless the people who want to keep the immigrants out are willing to kill them themselves; and if they do that then we have some nice murder charges that will fit them perfectly. Please step over here now, sir. The immigration issue is just the most visible of the festering sores on the body politic. Unless we get a Congress that is willing to do the work that needs to be done, there will not be an end to the sickness that is killing our country.

What would justice look like? Green cards for everyone with a clean background that wants to work. Let’s start there. Citizenship for every person who works here and doesn’t have citizenship anywhere else. If you work here, pay taxes here, have children here, you are an American. It is time we accepted this fact.

But justice goes deeper than just being humane to our immigrants. We need to acknowledge that poor people have the right to continue to live, not just the immigrants but every single American. We can’t very well expect Americans to care about immigrants when their country demonstrably doesn’t care about them, either. Those festering sores will kill our country sooner than the immigration problem will, and will sabotage any attempt to reform the immigration system if they aren’t dealt with at the same time.

Filibuster? Blame Aaron Burr.

It’s 1804. Aaron Burr kills Alexander Hamilton but he’s still the vice president, runs out of town. Back, 1805, he’s in the chamber. He’s still dispensing advice in the Senate. And Burr says, you’re a great deliberative body but a really great chamber has a very clean rulebook and yours is a mess. And he singles out that previous question motion. They get rid of it in 1806, not because they wanted to create filibusters, right, not because they saw the great deliberative body of the Senate and they needed a right way to protect the rights of minorities. That rule was gone because Aaron Burr told them to get rid of it and it hadn’t been used yet.

Sarah Binder
On the Media – The Filibuster: Protection or Obstruction? – Apr 6, 2017

Robert ReichThe Only Way Democrats Will Get Anything Done – Feb 25, 2021 (facebook)

The Senate isn’t a democratic body. It is a body created to ensure that states had a voice in the federal government. That is its reason for existing and that is why it is made up the way that it is. But that doesn’t mean that the rules that govern the Senate should be broken in such a way that it can’t get business done because the minority wants to roll around on the floor like a temperamental child that doesn’t get what it wants (Yes, Ted Cruz. I’m imagining you with chocolate smeared on your face and wearing an OshKosh jumper rolling on the Senate floor right now, destroying my fond memories of Green Eggs and Ham. Petulant. Small. Child. Ted Cruz) The Senate simply needs to restore the motion to call the previous question that still exists in the House rules and in the basic parliamentary rules that govern most legislative bodies (Robert’s Rules of Order) Striking that rule in the Senate is what has lead to the impasse of the filibuster.

It is amusing to me that the rule was originally struck because it was thought that Senators were too civilized to need to end debate with a vote since no Senator had ever refused to stop talking when it was clear that he was not convincing anyone. Had the original Senators known the future, known that James Calhoun would use the filibuster to bring the United States to the brink of Civil War, that Mitch McConnell and his Republicans would use it to stop the Senate from being able to get anything done, they would have left the ability to call the previous question in place. If we could talk to them today they would probably marvel at our inability to simply set the filibuster aside as a bad idea that has long outlived its usefulness. They had just voted themselves as no longer subject to the King of England a few decades earlier. Don’t like the rules? Change the rules.

Editor’s note

This was originally published as a quote from the episode of On the Media that tops the article, near the date when the episode released. Since this is a problem that we are still talking about four years later, I have moved it forward to today and added more of my thoughts on the subject, like I had originally intended to do when I set the quote aside to be published later, and then published even later after my thoughts evaporated.

Microfiber Blanket Entity

The microfiber blanket we recently purchased is almost miraculously soft, and it’s cozy warmth is a comfort on winter nights when your state has left you stranded at home with no electricity, gas or running water in the middle of a blizzard.

When we put it on the bed for the first time and noted its behavior, we were concerned that it might have been possessed by a mischievous spirit. Since it hasn’t sucked out anyone’s soul, bled anything dry or eaten our pets, we’re guessing it’s either a benign spirit or a new form of life.

In addition to warmth on cold nights it also provides entertainment. While you are asleep, it will crawl across the bed to keep the spouse warm while leaving the  purchaser cold, and it will repeat this process nightly if required to. Simply put the blanket back in its original position on the bed, and then go back to sleep again. When you wake up you will once again discover that you have all the blanket.

Through experimentation I have established that the blanket moves in the direction that the tag is.

I highly recommend microfiber blankets. Get your spouse to buy one for you. If you discover what it eats please let me know so I can keep mine properly fed.

Sentient Bed Covering Review posted on various sites. The Wife kept wanting me to change this one, so if it looks different than you remember, it’s her fault.

Eliminating GIGO

When I wrote:

…I think I got the most volume and some of the most varied feedback I’ve ever gotten for any post I’d ever written before. It ran the gamut from “this is easy to do and Facebook can’t seem to do it, so they must not care” or “Facebook is in bed with X group, their behavior demonstrates this.” to “Any attempt to moderate speech violates my freedom of speech.” When I queued up this episode, one of the first things that the guest says on mic is that she figured that the Facebook Supreme Court was just a way to get Facebook out of the crosshairs for making the decisions that need to be made, content-wise:

Radiolab – Facebook’s Supreme Court – February 12, 2021

…and by the end of the episode I was where Jad was “we have to ban Facebook, don’t we?” But then I thought some more about the varied responses to the tests that were put forward to illustrate just how hard it is to make judgements about what is or isn’t acceptable on social media, and I started to realize that what Facebook will ultimately achieve, if it succeeds, is some form of internet protocol for allowing the greatest amount of speech possible without misleading the populace or allowing for the targeting of segments of the population. I wish them luck with their supreme court experiment. Hope it all works out.

Gutenberg Editor Bug

February 22, 2021 – Updating and moving this generic article forward for a new bug in Gutenberg. I don’t know how many users have run across this one yet, but I have. I have several snippets of HTML code that I like to reuse. I do this because it streamlines getting things I want to regularly add to my posts added without having to lookup or re-enter the code over and over again. Things like podcast embeds and the like (the subject of the previous bug I wrote about here, actually) well, they changed the way that reusable blocks work, again.

This bug report touches on the problem that I am experiencing: Comparing old and new Reusable block UX methods. #29178. It doesn’t quite cover the problem, though. Part of the usefulness of the reusable blocks was the ability to explode said blocks back down into base elements, such as code blocks and text strings and whatever. The ability to take pieces out of the reusable block has changed along with the editability of the blocks, and the dot next to the publish button stays present even if I completely remove the reusable block from the document being edited, because I have to change the block in question in order to be able to remove it.

Here is a snippet of my screen as an example. One of the blocks that I frequently did use was an HTML block that was just a horizontal rule (named “Separator”) that I could manipulate to suit my own visual issues. Basically, I wanted the rule to be of a particular length and a particular number of pixels. I am not really a coder, I’m just a user who is forced on occasion to fiddle with code, and I’m okay with this situation, as long as it doesn’t mean I have to code every single time I sit down to write something.

As you can see from the image, the block now sees itself as a group, not a single HTML code block like the Audio Embed block next to it. This is because I inserted the block and then saved the document I placed the block in. As soon as the code block is inserted into a document, it turns itself into a group. Unless you know to turn off saving reusable blocks at the prompt, this error will occur every time you use a reusable block and then save the document the block is placed in.

If you place the reusable block and then try to delete it, the group remains without the block you’ve added. The best part of this is that saving after you think you’ve removed the reusable blocks and not noticed the prompt is that if you save blocks that you thought you completely removed from your document, the editor creates empty group blocks in place of the reusable block that you had previously created. Without the ability to just remove the block and not have it turn itself into a group; without the ability to explode a block and reduce it to simple code and text, the end user is left with having to leave multiple tabs open set to various configurations of files just to be able to assemble a single document. A process that simply isn’t feasible on a mobile platform, for example.

h/t to paaljoachim for creating three bugs reports to deal with these issues 29267, 29268, 29269.


November 4, 2020 – This bug has to do with inserting coding blocks into the text that I’m working on. Like images, I occasionally have need to reference a specific podcast, either one that has sent me off on this fool’s errand of illumination, or one I want to provide to readers in order to give them some understanding of where I am coming from. Podcasters are as plentiful as the various kinds of life in a rainforest, and their approaches to embedding, whether it is even allowed or not, varies almost as much as the podcasters themselves.

The most plentiful podcaster out there at the moment is NPR. They are everywhere, all the time, and I link their podcasts as frequently as I link podcasts from any other source. However, the current version of Gutenberg does not recognize the embed codes for NPR podcasts, just like it has never recognized most of the embed codes for other podcasts.

This has never been a problem before because I have simply been able to introduce my own code into the text, taking the place of a paragraph, and that has solved the problem. Now the wise coders working on Gutenberg have seen fit take out my ability to write my own code into the text automatically, and I have to go to extreme lengths just to be able to get my code to appear unmolested in the published article.

I had a reusable block that I called Generic Embed. In that block I had assembled the code that rendered something like what I expected to see in the finished blog article. That block isn’t even visible in the block interface anymore. I have to scroll to the bottom of the reusable block list and select Manage all reusable blocks, and then find the block within the list of reusable blocks that I have created.

Looking at that list I can see that it is time to thin the reusable blocks down again. However, I can show you the code that is in the block because there are a couple of blocks that let me do this for you. Here is the code:

<figure><iframe src="embed url"></iframe><figcaption><span style="font-size:8px"><em><a href="webpage">author - page title - date</a></em></span></figcaption><br></figure>

That is the default block for verse. I suspected that block would leave the code alone because I’ve transformed text into verse in the past and it faithfully reproduces the verse exactly as typed within the constraints of the screen that is displaying the text.

If you use the default code block provided with the Gutenberg editor you will have to use an HTML encoder (h/t to the users at Stackoverflow for the tips) to change the code into the escape strings necessary to reproduce the code. Why this process is not automated within the block is beyond me.

Using the encoder I can now put the transmogrified code strings into the code block and get displayed text that looks like the verse block does just by pasting the actual code into it:

<figure><iframe src="embed url"></iframe><figcaption><span style="font-size:8px"><em><a href="webpage">author - page title - date</a></em></span></figcaption><br></figure>

In trying to present the raw code, I discovered that the ever helpful WYSIWYG is trying to make the code do things even when it is NOT SUPPOSED TO DO ANYTHING TO THE CODE except to display it as code. In the various tests I have conducted trying to discover a work-around, hours of trial and error and research into coding and displaying code that I should have learned years ago, I was driven to near madness trying to figure out why I could not just paste text as typed directly into the interface. No. I have to learn how to decode and recode in order to explain anything.

Modern day problems, being driven into a homicidal rage by things that should work one way but don’t because no one ever thought to eliminate that step in the process. However, my lack of formal training aside, this embed error shouldn’t have been allowed out in a supposedly finished product. A product people pay for. Thankfully, I don’t pay for it, or I’d be more pissed off than I am. Maybe you should fix this problem, WordPress?

In the meantime, I will come up with a work around for my podcast embeds, which will involve simply putting a dumb HTML block into the text and then manually adding the code that I want to appear there. It is a more time-consuming process to do it this way, but I will soldier on until the next update for Gutenberg fixes this bug and breaks something else.

Like the image bug that is documented below (but remains fixed, please don’t break that!) the embed bug also produces embedded objects that I cannot manipulate and captions that appear too large, but are manipulable from the settings menu, which does show up above and to the right if you have those menus turned on. The block isn’t there for all intents and purposes and can only be found by clicking off the object and moving the cursor so that it enters the embed, or selecting it from the pulldown at the top of the screen. Also, if you modify the text in the caption you will cause an irrecoverable block error and then have to do the whole thing over again.


The constrictions on adding a horizontal rule to a document have annoyed me from the first day that I worked with WordPress, even before Gutenberg. To be fully honest about my frustrations here, there have been no text editors that have ever been exactly what I wanted when it comes to presenting my words the way I want them seen, with proper margins, font styles, display graphics, etcetera. Every word processor has some deficiency that has left me cold towards it, and so being unsatisfied with all of them as much as I remain unsatisfied with my words themselves, I simply try to make do with whatever tools I have to work with.

I’ve finally come up with a version of the <hr> that displays properly within the Gutenberg editor specifically and WordPress in general.

<hr style="width:44%;height:3px" class="aligncenter">

Now that I know you have to generate escape strings to display code properly in the code box (again, why?) I can now display the code that works for me. Fingers crossed that they’ll automate that process. Or maybe not. That might get broken too if they try it. The verse block works so how hard is it to do a grey background (that for some reason means “code”) that doesn’t screw with your pasted text exactly like the verse box does?


March 14, 2020 – The latest release of the WordPress Gutenberg editor has dumbed down the editor to the point that it won’t work properly in the desktop interface. Basically, I can’t manipulate the images embedded in the text of my articles because the handles that show up at the manipulable edges of images disappear after the image is initially placed.

unusualjuggernaut.tumblr.com (I can’t click on this image in the desktop editor. For all intents and purposes, it isn’t in the document. I can go to the shiney-new block navigation hamburger and select the image block from the list. However, I can right-arrow scroll right out of the caption area but cannot left-arrow scroll back into it. I have to, once again, go to the hamburger and select the image block. This behavior could not be more annoying.)

Color me unimpressed with the latest release. I look forward to the next release, when they fix that bug and I can edit properly again.

Gutenberg version 7.8.1 seems to have fixed the image manipulation problem. I’ll leave the above block as I created it just as a reminder of the annoyance I felt at the time.

Shadowlands: Making Hell Less Hellish?

I asked for one thing and one thing only for Christmas in 2019. I wanted the family to buy a copy of World of Warcraft: Shadowlands and give it to me as a gift, because there wasn’t much else I wanted and I knew I’d be buying and playing the game anyway.

Raid nights in World of Warcraft have become the modern equivalent of the 1960-1970’s bowling nights that my parents set their calendars by. Raiding is my excuse to go out and talk to friends organized around a common goal. WoW is one of my religions, in other words.

…and I treat it like most people treat their religion. There is a lot of stuff in there that I don’t do, but I show up for the big gatherings so that I can pretend I’m part of the thing that is greater than I am by myself. Myself as a middling average MMO player. Try killing a raid boss by yourself and tell me how easy it is if you don’t think raiding doesn’t make you part of something greater than yourself. On second thought, don’t tell me. I won’t believe you anyway.

For fifteen years leading up to this point in the lore that World of Warcraft is based on, I’ve been telling fellow players Sylvanas wants to be the next Lich King.” I’ve been waiting for the day when she would approach the Frozen Throne of the Lich King to take the helm of domination from the creature that had once been Bolvar Fordragon. As it turns out, I was wrong. This is revealed in the trailer for Shadowlands:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4gBChg6AII

It was after watching this trailer that I decided I would just go ahead and get someone to pre-purchase a copy of the game for me. The family even sprang for the collector’s edition and got me a unique mount, transmog, pets and hearthstone. Then the wait began. A longer wait than there ever had been between two expansions in the history of the game. They even truncated the final story arch for Battle for Azeroth because they really needed the programmers to focus on ironing out the bugs in Shadowlands.

Shadowlands Developer Update with John Hight and Ion Hazzikostas Liveblog posted 2020/07/08

It was a grand scheme that they were setting themselves to achieve, and I cheered them all the way to the finish line. When the pre-patch rolled out I started leveling alternate characters for the first time since Warlords of Draenor, and started my first new toons from level one since Pandaria. That is how daunting the level grind from 1 to 90, 100, 110 and 120 was. It was hard enough in Wrath just getting to 80, and the level grind on foot in Classic World of Warcraft is interminable. But then, Classic WoW was about the role-playing and not about the endgame. Not for the average players.

In Shadowlands the leveling to 50 is effortless. It is so effortless that you can easily find it meaningless. At least it is doable in a few days time now, and you can create as many characters as you need without having to invest a month on each one leveling to max. This is important because every expansion of the game since the Classic game was introduced in 2004 has been centered around endgame play and the multiplayer (maximum of 30 players) raids that are part of the endgame. The players are so focused on the endgame that most of them only play the other content in the game to the extent that they are required to play it in order to be allowed to get into raids. They set clocks, and then race to max level, never stopping to enjoy the sights along the way.

Not me. I am a true Austinite. I am a slacker. As a slacker, I’m going to progress at exactly the speed required to get to where I want to be by the time I’m supposed to get there. So I waited for the game to release. Patiently, and then impatiently, and then finally really, really hoping that it would come out soon.

“You have our commitment that we will be releasing Shadowlands this fall,” executive producer John Hight announced today, “even if we end up shipping it from our homes.”

eurogamer.net

As luck would have it, I was on the tail-end end of a 30 hour manic bender when the game went live on Tuesday October 27, 2020. Because of that I was completely out of sorts through the first intro sequence in the game. It was longer than most of the other expansion’s introductions, and smacked of being lead by Khadgar through the perils of Draenor under the control of Garrosh’s Iron Horde. This was not boding well for me, because Warlords of Draenor is hands down my least favorite of the World of Warcraft expansions, and was the largest contributor towards my taking a hiatus from the game for a year of Legion.

I decided to get some sleep and start fresh the next day, but I have to say that even with fresh eyes, I wasn’t very impressed with the styling of the game. You start off in the Maw, most players least favorite region to play in (more on that in a bit) it is the Shadowlands version of hell, and it is familiarly hellish in that most of the architecture appears to be drawn straight from early models of Diablo I, II & III (I hear Diablo IV is on the drawing board now, too) The Jailer’s attempts a being ominous are mildly convincing if not clearly contrived.

You of course escape hell er, the Maw, and then find you have been transported to the part of the afterlife that isn’t Hell. Again, there is a vague familiarity about the creatures that is reassuring if not slightly tedious. I’m not sure what to expect from a game I’ve been playing for over a decade that keeps insisting on changing while at the same time staying essentially the same.

The first character that you take through the content is required to engage with the content directly by playing through the various regions of the afterlife. Mercifully you are allowed to skip this tour with all characters after the first one. I didn’t get interested in the story until reaching Ardenweald, the fourth of five new areas that you must play through, where I intended to spend as much time as possible in the game. Since I play druids as my main characters, being in the nature zone of Ardenweald seems perfectly fitting for the headcanon that I’ve set up and still desperately try to maintain for my characters. Going to the final zone and meeting the villain that will be the final boss in the first Shadowlands raid was almost an anticlimax after spending time romping around Ardenweald in my druid’s stag travel form, picking flowers (herbalist) and making potions (alchemist).

The developers are of course keeping us on the ground yet again in this expansion. I’ve resigned myself to flightlessness in new expansions, although I bridle at being lectured about flying by blue angels that can’t seem to figure out what wings are for themselves. There are fractured ground structures that have to be navigated in order to do anything in game, and no road leads directly anywhere, if you can find a road at all, another designer ploy that is tiresomely consistent across every game I play these days. If only we could fly. If only.

I don’t think they understand the level of frustration that their mazes induce in people who can get lost going from the front door of their house to the bathroom. But then the developers clearly aren’t designing the game for nearly sixty year-old Meniere’s sufferers with dysgraphia either. For us there is TomTom. Learn it, love it, live and die by it.

I don’t know who these blue angels are. Bastion? What is Bastion? Ah, the ferryman on the river Styx have moved up to angel status. Okay, I’ll accept that, even if I can’t figure out why I would submit to having my memories pulled out of my ears and then be set to the task of ferrying souls for an eternity. It’s a purpose, I guess. If I find a class that will need to stay there in order to make them most effective for endgame play, I will take the time to figure out the why of that area’s story.

Maldraxxus is a little harder to deal with. Too much slime, not enough honor to be the Valhalla it is trying to pretend it is. More of Hel’s undead (especially looking like Hel’s army in Thor: Ragnarok) than of Odin’s Valhalla, and we’ve seen what that looks like in Legion. This touches on a major objection that I’ve heard more than once about this expansion. We already know about the afterlife in the universe that Warcraft is set in, don’t we? The Loa? The Light? It’s almost like they tacked on the bits that were established afterlife lore in the previous versions of the game as an afterthought in this expansion, making the Loa into natural demigods that are beneath the notice of the Winter Queen (not this Winter Queen) and the elementals don’t even figure into the afterlife at all. Which is odd, since they are spirits. The Light shows up in Bastion somewhere, so I’ve heard.

Maldraxxus and its central battle arena is just more of that glory of endless battle bullshit that teenagers think is fun. What is the point of this? On the other hand, the House of the Chosen offers the first bit of hope that I might find some tidbit of storyline to hang onto in Maldraxxus, but then only if that means I get to vacuum up all the slime and get to straighten all the walls so they are perfectly vertical again. Giving a druid a runesword? Yeah, that makes sense. Glad I didn’t have to keep the cursed thing. If I ever get around to playing Deathknights again, they’ll enjoy the hell out of Maldraxxus.

Revendreth, the fifth and final area of Shadowlands that you visit, and its ruler Sire Denathrius, both look like they come out of old English fiction. A sort of blend of Elric of Melnibone and the background lore of every vampire novel ever written, with a little bit of the Prisoner thrown in as flavoring. I really don’t know what to say about this region. It is the only part of the afterlife that vaguely makes sense in relation to the rest of World of Warcraft lore, and that only because it seems to tie into story arcs that have been developing in the background since the beginning:

BellularGamingThe ANCIENT Dreadlord Scheme Revealed – Sep 15, 2020

…But then the Dreadlords never seemed to fit into the rest of the lore that was set out for Warcraft or World of Warcraft. Where they came from and what they were was never quite clear. Apparently it will be made clear in this expansion, if game lore is your thing. Look for the Lost Journal in Revendreth to find the book Enemy Infiltration – Preface and read it for yourself.

The important part of this entire story (for me anyway) can be summed up in a few short sentences. The raid fights are new and interesting and include fight mechanics that have not been part of fights in previous expansions of World of Warcraft. Both silly and difficult, they offer a diversion to players who are looking for multiplayer challenges to make their lives more meaningful. At least that part of the game lived up to expectations. I would be pretty bored if it didn’t.

Mythic Trap: Castle Nathria Raid

As I get back into raiding again after being forced out of my weekly routines by having to do without electricity and water for almost a week here in Austin, the news arrives that Blizzard is once again changing the game that they never can seem to just leave well enough alone:

In an interview with Polygon prior to BlizzConline’s opening ceremony, Feasel and Frank Kowalkowski, World of Warcraft’s technical director, spoke about how The Maw will expand and evolve in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands’ upcoming 9.1 patch, Chains of Domination. The Maw is about to become a warzone, ironically making it a much safer place for the Champions of Azeroth.

polygon.com (spoilers)

Making hell less hellish kinda defeats the point of hell. Expecting people to want to spend time in hell? That is where Blizzard went off the rails. Killing demons in Diablo by the dozens with a single strike is what makes that version of hell entertaining for some people. Why you go back after defeating the Devil the first time? That is the question that needs answering here.

Still, turning the Maw into a warzone? Okay, that might prove to be interesting enough to make me give it a second pass now. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime I’ll be over in Ardenweald trying to earn the reputation for my Winter Queen’s court. Oh, and also grinding reputation with the Avowed so that I can help make shadestones for those expensive raid cauldrons that we have to set out twice a night.

Be seeing you.”

Insufficient Intellect

They were now their own unavoidable experiment, and were making themselves into many things they had never been before: augmented, multi-sexed, and most importantly, very long-lived, the oldest at that point being around two hundred years old. But not one whit wiser, or even more intelligent. Sad but true: individual intelligence probably peaked in the Upper Paleolithic, and we have been self-domesticated creatures ever since, dogs when we had been wolves. But also, despite that individual diminution, finding ways to accumulate knowledge and power, compiling records, also techniques, practices, sciences

possibly smarter therefore as a species than as individuals, but prone to insanity either way.

2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (goodreads.com)

I have almost finished listening to this on Audible.

The First Presidential Impeachment

I queued up the latest episode of Throughline when it came out on the 14th of January, and I wondered what take they would give on the subject of impeachment now that we were in the second impeachment for Donald Trump:

Throughline – Impeachment – January 14, 2021

The episode turned out to be a rebroadcast of a previous episode (High Crimes and Misdemeanors, Feb. 28, 2019) but as I was listening to the episode I was thinking “yeah. I wrote an article about my experience reading this book. What happened to that?”

After looking through my online drafts, I can tell my self from the middle of January what happened to it. I flushed it. I flushed the whole article. I was so disgusted with the results of President Trump’s impeachment in 2019 and trial in the early months of 202o (what feels like a decade ago now) that I didn’t see the point in adding an article about this book to the blog. I mean to say, the book and the first impeachment of a President in United States history had no bearing on the results of this modern President’s flirtation with perhaps being punished for his infractions by being impeached for some of them. The tale had no bearing other than that he was left in office just as Andrew Johnson had been, to the disgust of everyone who cared about the future of the country and the plight of the former slaves who were betrayed by Andrew Johnson.

Because I’m fanatical about saving everything I write somewhere, it turned out that there still was a draft of the article sitting in my backups waiting to be dusted off and revisited. Since President Trump has been so enormously stupid as to attempt to overthrow the United States government and not even understand that he should probably run away after failing so spectacularly to do even that job correctly, he has been impeached for an unprecedented second time, almost exactly thirteen months since he was impeached for the first time. Impeached for sedition. That’ll look good on his resume. What follows is an amended set of thoughts on the subject of the book and the relevance of the first impeachment of a sitting President with the current governmental tragedy that we are witnessing.

Impeaching a President implies that we make mistakes, grave ones, in electing or appointing officials, and that these elected men and women might be not great but small—unable to listen to, never mind to represent, the people they serve with justice, conscience, and equanimity. Impeachment suggests dysfunction, uncertainty, and discord—not the discord of war, which can be memorialized as valorous, purposeful, and idealistic, but the far less dramatic and often squalid, sad, intemperate conflicts of peace, partisanship, race, and rancor. Impeachment implies a failure—a failure of government of the people to function, and of leaders to lead. And presidential impeachment means failure at the very top.

Brenda Wineapple

The Impeachers (2019)

I picked up The Impeachers: The Trial of Andrew Johnson and the Dream of a Just Nation by Brenda Wineapple  after hearing her interviewed on several podcasts over a few weeks in August, 2019. I listened to it over the course of a month or so in fifteen minutes stretches as I got ready for bed and then tried to go to sleep. When I dusted off the first abortive attempt to write an article about this book, I decided to listen to it again while editing this article and adding to it. I have now been listening to the book for two days straight and finished it on the morning of the third day. It is much better than I originally thought, and it is packed full of relevant details about the current president and his predicament.

It isn’t the most sleep inducing of books, which is a point in its favor, but I have to keep relistening to chapters in order to try to keep all the players straight. This is a flaw in the narrative that has been constructed for the story of the impeachment of Andrew Johnson to be told in. I have read better histories over the course of the years, but there is nothing particularly bad about this one. It flows well from chapter to chapter, I simply can’t keep all the names straight because I don’t understand their place in the overall story. In case anyone else is having this problem, I’ll attach a list of the obscure characters that the author seems to insufficiently touch on at the end of this article, as well as include a few quotes from them interspersed in the text. I looked them up out of curiosity anyway, I might as well list their names and what I took away from stumbling across them online here in this article. However, the best way to learn about the subject of the book, Andrew Johnson and his direct impeachers, is to just read the book or read one of the numerous other books that have been written about him and them.

Here’s an example of why this book is relevant today:

I cannot believe there is really any danger of armed resistance to impeachment. The force which Johnson could command is so small and the suicidal folly of the course so evident. Still, Johnson is an exception to all rules.

Moorfield Storey

Andrew Johnson and Donald Trump resemble each other in character. Vain, narcissistic and borderline sociopaths, with a certain kind of charisma that they both used to raise crowds to their defense when they were speaking extemporaneously, but when looked at later in the cold light can be seen to be voicing sentiments that are almost completely without merit. They are cut from very similar cloth and neither of them should have ever been allowed near the levers of power, and abused their power when it was given to them.

The story of the first presidential impeachment stems out of the first assassination of a United States president, which followed directly on the heels of the Civil War, a conflict that finally put to rest the question of slavery that had badgered American reality and morality since the founding of the United States following the separation of the American colonies from Great Britain.

I recommend that anyone interested in this subject also read Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin or at least become passingly familiar with the subjects that swirled around in political circles of the day. Because, while the book is entertaining and self-contained from the perspective of explaining most of what you need to know about the subject of the first impeachment of a president, it isn’t going to tell you just how embedded the common notion of white supremacy was, a concept that was later scientificated into eugenics, which in the modern day is inseparable from white supremacy itself, even though it is still an active science in several countries.

Without that understanding, you will not be able to credit just how hard it was to find enough people of power to make the kinds of changes in the South stick that needed to stick without turning the entire project into another form of genocide:

Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”

Abraham Lincoln – Second Inaugural Address – Saturday, March 4, 1865

Threading that needle, avoiding the mass slaughter of the plantation owners for the purpose of providing property and means for their now freed slaves, while at the same time allowing the former slaves enough space to be able to exercise their newly-granted legal rights, was the task before the country when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated, the task that Andrew Johnson was not capable of executing. A fact that he demonstrated many times before the House of Representatives was forced to impeach him for his transgressions of the law.

I especially loved the explanations that Benjamin Butler came up with to explain what it is that falls within the realm of ideas encapsulated by the phrase High Crimes and Misdemeanors:

An impeachable misdemeanor might be an act that subverted the principles of government, such as one that violated the Constitution or that flouted an official oath or duty or law. It could be an act that abused or usurped power.

The Senate was bound by no law, either statute or common, that should limit your constitutional prerogative. The Senate, acting as a court, was a law unto itself. Bound only principles of equity and justice where the laws of the people was supreme.

The Impeachers, Chapter Twenty-Two

The Senate is not required to be certain beyond a reasonable doubt in order to hold the president accountable for the crimes he has been charged with, an idea that is also encapsulated in this article from The Atlantic, as well as my own article on the subject. These definitions did not stand in the way of the president’s defenders then and now, insisting that there were no laws broken so the impeachment could not be a valid one but only a political one. Even a political impeachment is valid, if the reasons for the impeachment are dire enough.

If there was a movie made of what happened after Lincoln was assassinated its title should be Betrayal. Betrayal is what Andrew Johnson did to the visions of Abraham Lincoln. A betrayal of the formerly enslaved people in favor of the wealthy white landowners. If these downtrodden people had been given the voice they were promised back in 1865, we wouldn’t have needed to impeach a white supremacist president in 2019, and then impeach him again in 2021.

Andrew Johnson not only deserved impeachment, he should have been impeached sooner. Andrew Johnson was not the first president that should have been impeached and removed from office. Andrew Jackson should also have been impeached and removed because of his unwillingness to enforce and abide by the decisions of the Supreme Court. He was not impeached because he had a House of Representatives and a Senate that agreed with his treatment of the native peoples in Georgia. These supporters did not mind that he enriched himself by stealing the natives land and selling it through authorized representatives, selling it to whites that wanted to possess the land. (Jacksonland)

Mitch McConnell comparing the Republicans who impeached Andrew Johnson to the Democrats who have impeached Donald Trump did get one thing right. Both impeachments were undertaken late, and both impeachments will likely end with injustice done to the Constitution and the ideal of the rule of law. In the case of the impeachment of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell is already on record as being intent on doing injustice.

The modern record should not distract from the historical though. It is the process of following the trends through history that provides the illumination for current events, not the other way around. Andrew Johnson never did get the justice that he so richly deserved, and that is yet another reason why we remain in this quandary today.

Putting aside such causes of the Senate’s action as women, whiskey, cowardice, greenbacks, Free Masonry, Negro-hate, offices for one’s sixteen pine-tree cousins, a diseased Chief Justice, spite, dyspepsia and noodleism – It is evident, on the face of things, that while a very large majority of the people, and specially of the Republican party, wished its success, there was a very strong doubt among the party leaders whether such success would help the party.

Wendell Phillips, The Impeachers, chapter 27
Characters

Roughly listed in the order that they appear in the book:

  • Edwin Stanton – Perhaps the most famous of Lincoln’s cabinet. You see a different side of the man in this history than you will see in other histories.
  • William Seward – Secretary of State under both Lincoln and Johnson. A much more despicable figure than I had understood him to be from other histories I have read. What a strange man he must have been.
  • Thaddeus Stevens – Leader of the abolitionists in the House. Played memorably by Tommy Lee Jones in the movie Lincoln, he has never been treated more kindly as a character anywhere other than in that movie, and that is a shame on our nation and what our nation means. Stanchly even handed, but willing to manipulate the rules of the House of Representatives to serve the needs of the nation itself, we need at least one legislator equal to him in today’s Congress. Unfortunately we don’t seem to have any of them.
  • Charles Sumner – Leader of the abolitionists in the Senate. No one seems to like him, and there is little of him in this book. Still, we should understand who he was if we are to understand his place in history. I’ll have to try to find more to read about him.
  • Lyman Trumbull – Coauthor of the thirteenth amendment. Author of some of the freedman’s legislation. Senator from Illinois.
  • Thomas J. Durant – Former federal officer and an attorney in New Orleans where he witnessed the sadistic massacre there in 1866.
  • George Boutwell – Former Democrat turned radical abolitionist Republican.
  • James Mitchell Ashley – Proposed the resolution to impeach Andrew Johnson. For this and for his stance on educating the populace (including former slaves) he was soundly defeated in 1868 and never held elected office again.
  • Benjamin Butler – Benjamin Butler would open the House Manager’s prosecution case against Andrew Johnson in the Senate. More should have been written about the history of this man, given how important his role is in the impeachment trial. Butler provides the definitions for the offenses that Andrew Johnson was impeached for, quoted above.

Rush Limbaugh is Dead

To paraphrase Christopher Hitchens speaking of Jerry Falwell, he deserves to go to hell, but that isn’t possible because hell doesn’t exist.

On the Media – How Rush Limbaugh Paved The Way For Trump – February 17, 2021

Everyone can breathe a sigh of relief now. The sun will be that much brighter each day, now that he is gone. He is the proverbial Scrooge figure that we can all thank for dying and making us all that much happier for his passing. The only thing that could have made this day better was for my house in Texas to have had power so that I could have waxed poetical about how much I loathed that evil bastard while people were still paying enough attention to the fact that he had choked out his last painful breath that day and then they might have clicked the link to see what I said about his untimely demise.

Untimely demise? A timely demise would have been him being hit by a truck right before he started his radio empire. I would have let the driver of that truck cry on my shoulder if he felt like crying after the incident. I’ll accept Rush Limbaugh’s slow, painful death today as recompense for the suffering his continued existence has exacted for every day since that day. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Next?

Elizabeth Peratrovich Day

Betsy Peratrovich, granddaughter of the civil rights activist, told Google her thoughts about her legacy. “She and my grandpa Roy were quite a team,” she said. ” He liked to give her all of the credit, as she continually inspired him to strive to improve the lives of Alaska Native peoples.

“But my dad recounts that they both used to sit around the dining table at night where together they typed letters, wrote and practiced speeches, and strategized on how best to secure equal rights for all,” she added.

Newsweek
twitter.com/GoogleDoodles

I thought I’d put out an article on the actual day that is hers. That is today. At least, in Alaska today is her day. Everywhere else in the US we still hold native Americans as second class citizens. Unofficially.