Going Dark

I always thought it would be cool to go beyond the surface web and check out the dark web, but I have never done that.  Mostly because the dark web is part of the internet that isn’t visible to search engines and it requires the use of an anonymizing browser called Tor to be accessed.  The Tor browser routes your web page requests through a series of proxy servers operated by thousands of volunteers around the globe, rendering your IP address unidentifiable and untraceable.  The Tor Browser is able to prevent someone watching your connection from knowing what websites you visit.  I don’t even know what is on the dark web, but from movies that I have watched, it is a cesspool of explicit porn, a rendezvous place for human traffickers and I guess it is the place you go to if you want to hire a hitman.  I am not interested in buying credit card numbers, whatever kind of drugs are for sale, guns, explosives, counterfeit money, forged passports, stolen subscription credentials, hacked Facebook accounts, hacked Netflix accounts, bitcoin crypto-currency, or software that could help me to break into someone’s computer, so I don’t have any need to ever visit the dark web.

The dark web was invented so spies could stay anonymous and that part of it sounds cool, but espionage is not my thing.  I usually try to avoid suspicious websites as I don’t want my computer to be infected by any malware or have it pick up some type of Trojan (RAT).  I read that navigating the dark web is not easy, as this place is messy and chaotic being a swarm of servers and nodes and since everyone is anonymous, anyone you meet there could be out to scam you.  If you really need something that is not legitimate, then this is the place for you, as this seamy underbelly of the human experience may be less of a risk for you than skulking around in a dark alley.  Dark web websites end in (.onion) for their domain suffix, and they use a scrambled naming structure that creates URLs that are strings of seemingly random letters and numbers making them impossible to remember.  Many dark websites are set up by scammers, who constantly move around to avoid the wrath of their victims.

Just reading about the dark web scares me and I am not about to purchase any special software to access it.  I heard that people recommend using a virtual machine software instead of your locally installed Windows, because that would make it easier to contain malware.  They also suggested using a disposable operating system like an 8GB thumb drive to keep your hard drive from getting corrupted.  Another recommendation was to use a Linux-based live operating system which can be booted from a USB stick or DVD, and you would need software capable of burning images on your thumb drive.  This article I read mentioned using a FAT32 to root out any compatibility issues and File Allocation Table32 was employed on Windows PCs prior to the more advanced NTFS New Technology File System.  The FAT32 format is widely used for USB drives, flash memory cards and external hard drives for compatibility between all platforms.  You are also going to need a Universal USB Installer which is an open-source live Linux USB flash drive creation software that allows users to create a bootable live USB flash drive.  You are almost there now, but if you are using a desktop computer, they propose that you switch to the Ubuntu desktop and replace your current operating system, because it includes a bevy of multimedia and productivity software.  All of these steps and procedures are way too complicated for me, so I will probably never access the dark web.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #216 which asks, “Have you ever accessed or used the dark web? (Note, I’m not asking for what purpose you used the dark web, so if you answer yes to this question, don’t feel as though you’re confessing to doing something illegal. There are legitimate and legal reasons why people may use the dark web. Are you one who has?)

Pot Calling Kettle

Elon Musk has no right to speak about work ethics, as he came from a wealthy family, and he probably never did a hard day’s worth of work in his life.  I imagine that him saying working from home is morally wrong, is because he doesn’t want his own employees doing that.  Anyways, anyone that gets in bed with DeSantis is a scumbag in my book.

I am retired and I commuted to work for my whole career before that.  One time I was given the opportunity to work from home and it was very helpful.  I actually didn’t work from home as I was in Brazil and I needed to make a lot of edits to this code that I had written and I told them that I could do it better back at the hotel, instead of being in the plant.  I worked on this code for over a month and the day I first tried to download it to the processor, it failed saying that there was not enough memory available.  I called the home office and told them that we needed more memory for the processor, and they told me that was not in the budget and that I had to make it work with what I had.

I had taken over this program from another guy who wrote it for similar equipment on a job in Venezuela, but there were a lot of changes as all the Input and Output modules were different.  I saw that there were a lot of gaps between addresses in this program and I figured that if I tightened that up, then that was where I was going to gain the memory that I needed for the download.  This was a Friday and they let me work at the hotel all weekend swapping out addresses to reduce the size of this program.  This was tedious work and I had to be careful, otherwise I could create a bug in this program, and I would never find it.  It was so much more comfortable doing this work in the hotel and I was able to concentrate much better there than in the plant as there were no interruptions and I had the new program ready for Monday morning.  I was happy when it downloaded, and everyone was patting me on the back.

Most work can’t be done from home, but that does not make it morally wrong if some work can be performed better at home rather than in the office.  I totally disagree with Musk, and I wish he would just shut his pie hole.  I think Musk is starved for attention and that is why he goes around saying things without thinking them through.  Employees that are allowed to work from home are usually happier and more loyal than others.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #215 which asks, “If you are not yet retired, do you regularly work from home? If not currently, have you ever telecommuted on a regular basis? If so, did (or do) you prefer working from home? Why or why not? And finally, how do you feel about Musk calling working from home “morally wrong”? Do you agree or disagree? And why do you feel that way?


Diversity can lead to better outcomes in various aspects of life, fostering creativity, innovation, empathy, and social cohesion, allowing everyone to have an opportunity to succeed, and I think that the practice or quality of including or involving people from a range of different social and ethnic backgrounds and of different genders, sexual orientations, etc. is fine, but I don’t think it should be forced.  I’m not against equality for all and I think that everyone should show tolerance, but this whole diversity in everything has become annoying.  Diversity does not ensure success any more than it ensures failure.  The only thing that should matter in the workforce is how skilled and competent someone is for a particular job.  When organizations or institutions mandate the inclusion of individuals from diverse backgrounds based on factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, rather than their merit or qualifications, this can create animosity as it did with Richard Dreyfuss feeling that his abilities and potential are being ignored.  The inclusion of a minority for the sake of a political agenda may not be the best thing for a motion picture, but when it comes to something like the Fair Housing Act and it helps with discrimination and economic and social justice issues, then I feel diversity should be forced.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #214 which asks, “Do you think that the metrics the Academy Awards will start applying in 2024 regarding composition of at least 30% of the cast and crew by under-represented groups in order for a film to even qualify for a Best Picture Oscar nomination is appropriate? Or, do you share Richard Dreyfuss’ opinion that because filmmaking is an art form, imposing such criteria in order for a film to even be considered for an Oscar is inappropriate?”

It’s Complicated

I think the topic of gender identity is very important for many people today and that gender should be decided by the person who inhabits the body, so if they want to identify differently from the gender that they were assigned at birth, I am OK with that.  Most people will stay with the gender that they were born with, but some people feel like they were given the wrong body parts and they will feel a strong desire to change parts of their physical appearance, such as facial hair, breasts and their genitalia.  This gender dysphoria is much more common now as the number of young people who identify as transgender has nearly doubled in recent years, and it has recently been estimated as high as 390 to 460 per 100,000.  When I was growing up this never seemed like an option for me, and I have always felt that I had to be a man.  More people are becoming trans women (MTF) than trans men (FTM).  Gender reassignment surgery is not like wearing a different pair of shoes, but people do it because they feel like they were put in the wrong body and then they are finally able to be in the right body.

It must not be easy going against gender role norms of being a straight heterosexual, as most people think that boys are supposed to be boys and girls are supposed to be girls.  I think birth gender is biology, but the gender that you want to choose for your life is just a function of grammar, so as people grow up, they can decide what they want to be.  If they want, they can choose to be heterosexual, which is the dominate aspect of what is considered to be normal sex, and validated by the dominant culture, however there is no such thing as abnormal sexual behavior.  People should be able to decide if they want to be bisexual, homosexual, pansexual, asexual or any of the LGBTQIA+ labels that they think are right for them.

Due to the increased visibility of the sex-positive movement, Americans are starting to come around to the idea that people who are into kink might not be filthy sex perverts that they were once thought to be.  Certain paraphilia acts are illegal if enacted, although it is not illegal to have fantasies or urges to enact.  A sexual fantasy is an image or idea of something that you find to be arousing.  It might be something you desire doing, or something you simply enjoy thinking about doing.  People fantasize all the time about sexual behaviors that they don’t want to try in real life.  If you go through transition surgery and it doesn’t work out for you the way you expected it would, then you can always detransition by getting reversal surgery, however certain effects of transgender hormone therapy are long-term changes and, they are generally not reversible.  Gender identity is a subjective experience for those that decide to switch, but for many it is hard wired into their brains, and it remains unchanging, and this makes it hard to decide what is male and what is female.  If it walks like a duck, there is a good chance that it could be a duck, but in the end, we are all just people.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #212 which asks, “How do you feel about this topic? Do you believe that gender has a biological basis defined exclusively by chromosomes, genitalia, and internal plumbing? Or do you believe that “male” and “female” are merely socially conditioned behaviors, and that gender is purely a subjective experience of identity? What are your thoughts?”

Age is Just a Number

Pope John Paul II lived till until the age of 93, and he was the oldest pope to ever hold office.  The oldest serving state leader of all time was Giovanni Paolo Lascaris, who was an Italian nobleman and Grand Master of the Knights of Malta, and he ruled till the age of 97.  Our nation’s population is growing older with more people living to 100 than in decades past.  There were 89,739 centenarians living in the United States in 2021, nearly twice as many as there were 20 years ago.  I don’t know about everyone else, but I feel that I am more with it now at my advanced age, than I was many years ago and I believe that it is possible to teach an old dog some new tricks.  My body isn’t in such great shape anymore, but I don’t think that my brain has ever been sharper.  Age does not make a person irrelevant, even though we may get replaced in the workforce by younger people that will work for less money.  For years people have been saying that elderly citizens can’t learn new things, but that is not true and these ideas about aging are out of touch with reality.  The Greek philosopher Aristotle compared the aging brain to a wax tablet that cools with age, becoming rigid and brittle so it could form new concepts.  Albert Einstein said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”

Senior citizens may resist learning about new things because they are set in their ways of doing things, but this is done out of reluctance, not because they lack the ability.  I grew up in the era when slide rules were used in math class, before the handheld electronic calculators came along.  Everything changes over time, but in order to survive, we all have to adapt.  When I studied computers in college, it worked on a punch card system which had to be fed into the compiler.  When I got my first home computer, it ran on DOS, and I had to write a batch file for it to call up Windows.  Everyone starts with a base of what they know and then we have to move on from there.  Longevity is the duration of human life and that is influenced by genetics, the environment, and lifestyle.  Just because a person reaches a certain age that does not mean that they can no longer make beneficial contributions.

An 82-year-old person today is a lot different from what an 82-year-old person was 50 years ago and as long as Biden’s age is not limiting his ability to be an effective leader, I don’t think that an age limit is necessary.  The US is more polarized than it has ever been before and many people are looking for reasons to keep Biden out of office, but we have much bigger problems than that of age.  Biden’s age is regularly brought up, but every time I watch him, he seems to be more than capable of handling all the problems that our country is facing.  A person’s age doesn’t define who they are, or what they are able to accomplish.  One can achieve anything at any age, whether they are old or young.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #211 which asks, “Do you believe that Joe Biden, at 82 shortly after Election Day 2024, is too old to seek that office. What about Donald Trump at 77? Most important, do you think there should be a maximum age set for an individual to run for President of the United States?”

I Love a Parade

In fact, I hate parades, but I thought that would make a nice title for a post.  You might wonder what kind of a sick person doesn’t love a parade, but I find them to be intolerable.  I am not a fan of marching bands, or large crowds of people and all of the lame pageantry gets on my nerves.  I love prompts that allow me to write ahead and the A to Z Blogging Challenge is perfect for me.  I select a theme, do my research and start working on my posts.  This is my sixth year participating in this challenge and I am doing it rogue, or unofficially because that suits me best.  I have been using Paula’s badge with the Viking riding on the bear and I finished up all of my posts in March, because I hate being pressed for time, which has happened to me some of the other years that I participated.  Only a few people are reading my posts this year, probably because of the bazar topic that I selected.  The posts by other bloggers that I have been reading this year are from Fandango, Paula, Sadje, John, Barbara, Sharon and Bee.  I think this is always a fun challenge and I like the fact that it gives me an opportunity to write about things that I enjoy.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #210 which asks, “Have you been participating in the 2023 A to Z Blogging Challenge, either officially or unofficially? If yes, have you posted daily (except Sundays) without missing a day? If yes (or no) have you made a point of also reading the A to Z posts of other bloggers who are participating? What are your thoughts so far about this year’s challenge?

My 4,845th Post

I just renewed my WordPress Premium plan subscription for another year, well actually for another two years because they gave me a discount for doing that.  I got tired of all those reminders that they placed at the top of my site telling me that it was going to expire on April 23 of this year.  I don’t do much else besides blogging and I probably spend about 8 hours a day here every day.  If I were not blogging then I guess I could rake the leaves in the front yard and that tree is always dropping new ones down, but I live in a community where all the outside maintenance is done for me, although I know I could do a better job.  I guess if I were not blogging, then I would be watching more TV, but I already spend enough time doing that.  I imagine that I could write another book, but I already have 3 unpublished books and I really don’t need a fourth.  I guess if I stopped blogging, I might be able to get a job as a writer, but then I would have to write stuff that other people want and if I keep on blogging, I can write what I want.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #207 which asks, “How many hours a day would you estimate you spent on your blog, including writing, reading, and commenting?  If you didn’t blog, what would you do with the time you currently spend on your blog?”

Progressive Thinking

To be woke is to be politically and socially aware, actively attentive to important societal facts and issues, while staying informed, educated and conscious of social injustice and racial inequality.  Some people think that being woke is a good thing and others are dead against it.  Republicans view the word woke as being a pejorative term and Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis may be the worst of them, as he said, “We can never, ever surrender to woke ideology.  And I’ll tell you this, the state of Florida is where woke goes to die.”  People need a side to stand on and the far right seems to be anti-woke and they have selected themselves to be the guardians of correct thought.  They ban and sometimes even burn books to purify the public from being harmed by anything that they deem to be inappropriate, and they are proud of what they are doing.  Liberty and reason be dammed because they are making the laws.  Woke is not just about racism and discrimination, as it also involves gender inequality, and LGBTQ+ people.

The contemporary meaning of woke started to gain more popularity at the start of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2014, but some say it goes all the way back to Leadbelly and his song ‘Scottsboro Boys’, which involved nine African American teenagers and young men, ages 13 to 20, accused in Alabama of raping two white women in 1931.  Woke has evolved into a single-word summation of leftist political ideology, centered on social justice politics and critical race theory.  Woke has become bipartisan, being used by both sides of the political spectrum.  It’s used as a shorthand to destroy the lives of people of both genders, of all races on the right and for political progressiveness by the left, so everyone must choose which bus they want to ride on, as the wheels are already in motion.  Another new cultural phenomenon is Cancel Culture where those who are deemed to have acted or spoken in an unacceptable manner are ostracized, boycotted or shunned.  This takes place when people perceive that the target has transgressed against moral or social norms.  These political correctness advocates belief that offensive speech and behavior should be eliminated, so they attack the left.  The right refers to people who identify as being woke as woketopians, grouping them together with socialists and Biden supporters.

I am open minded, and I consider being woke to be a good thing as if we let social injustice to continue, this world won’t be a place that I want to live in.  People should be allowed to read what they want and identify themselves as who they feel they are.  If you are not woke, then you are asleep at the wheel and you are in for a bumpy ride ahead, as who knows what the right will decide to be unacceptable next and needs to be canceled, cleansed, eliminated or eradicated?  I am a progressive thinking person that is capable of making my own decisions, so I am proud to be woke and I don’t care for anything that DeSantis says or does.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #206 which asks, “What does the word ‘woke’ mean to you?  Is being ‘woke’ a good thing or a bad thing?  Do you consider yourself to be ‘woke’?  Why or why not?”

Too Much Trouble

The first year I did this challenge, back in 2018, I signed up formally on the official register of the A to Z Blogging Challenge under the Category of Other and Miscellaneous and I was not sure if I was supposed to link back to a specific blog or something like that, so after the signup, I was on my own.  I participated 4 more years informally and unofficially and I plan to do that again this year the same way.  Basically, I am going to look at the bloggers that show up in my Reader and if their topics interest me, then I will read their posts.  I guess it would be a great way for a new blogger to meet other like-minded bloggers by going official and joining in with a group, but with this being my sixth year, I am beyond that now.  I chose an obscure topic this year and I am not sure if anyone will want to read my posts and I don’t blame them as math and science is not for everyone, but I am enjoying the research and I mostly write for my own enjoyment.

The first year when I did officially sign up, I had to answer a question that asked me if I was planning to use adult content in my posts, which puzzled me a bit, so I clicked on the link to find out how adult content was defined and I got the following: “Excessive Violence — If your blog reads like a how-to guide for Hannibal Lecter, you have excessive violence.  If you’ve written the A to Z guide of how to beat up anyone, make bombs, and kill without detection, you have excessive violence.”  Ok so far, so good, then it went on: “Nudity for sexual purposes — If you write erotica, you have adult content.  This gets tricky with art blogs.  If you fall into a gray area, ask the challenge hosts for a ruling before April.” Again, that is not me and then finally it explained: “Strong and frequent harsh language — If the F word is being used as a verb, or it is used more than three times in a blog post, that is considered adult content.  If your every blog post drops at least three curse words, that is adult content.  Adult Content blogs are not written for children.  The purpose of the rating is to protect the young and those sensitive to such topics.  Those people are not the core audience for such blogs, would not follow such blogs, and possibly present legal trouble if they land on adult blogs.  The hosts and their volunteer teams take on the responsibility of keeping the challenge safe and legal for everyone.  Please be respectful of this.”  I didn’t think this was going to be a problem for me!

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #205 which asks about our intents about participating in the April A to Z challenge.

I Don’t Have Any Kids

The other day I didn’t respond to the question about “spare the rod, spoil the child’, since I never had children, but I do believe that punishment can be an incentive for kids to behave better.  I am sure that people who have children want to protect them any way that they can, but literature shouldn’t change because of this.  I was exposed to the Brothers Grimm stories and some of them were dark and look how I turned out.  Well maybe that is not a great example as I am not the biggest success on the planet, but there is a good chance that your kids won’t be either.  I think it is good for a parent to take an interest in what their child reads, as I know my parents never did, but they also never coddled me by being overprotective.  At a certain age, every kid will probably grow up and they will eventually be exposed to the real world.

Written for Fandango’s Provocative Question #204 which asks, “How do you feel about book publishers altering the language in classic books to “sanitize” them by eliminating or changing words, phrases, and sentiments that some readers might find upsetting? Is it wrong to rewrite the words of a published author, living or dead, without the author’s permission?”