Monday, December 31, 2012

Open Letter to Medicare (and Tricare)

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
7500 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, Maryland 21244-1850

Dear Sirs:

1. Your web “service” is totally inadequate. For all the millions of tax dollars
spent on your hideously complex web sites there is no easy way or indeed
no way (period) to send you an email and get a response. So we'll do it the
old fashioned way: with a letter.

2. I do not want to sit on HOLD for hours to talk to some inexperienced call
bank operator who hasn't a clue. Please fix this. Give the customer (that is
we the people) a way of sending an email for some educated person at your
end to research and resolve the problem.

Now to the real business:

a. You and Tricare are in a Mexican standoff over my account. You pay about 30
cents on the dollar (I can prove that) on the claims submitted by providers. The
rest is shuttled to Tricare, who then adjudicate the claim and pay some more, but
not all, to the provider. You call this process “cross over”.

b. The provider puts up with this nonsense because it is too hard to fight it.

For better or worse, I have the time to fight it (due to more Governmental
incompetence, specifically the current budget impasse) so I shall. Hence this

c. The process of shuttling your responsibility to Tricare (you call it “cross over”)
works with a number of different providers. All except one:

Provider & Billing Address: QUEST DIAGNOSTICS INC

d. The following provider has acknowledged this issue and has called me and
asked me to fix it. I cannot. You MUST:

Provider & Billing Address: ABENA A ADDO MD 62

e. I contacted you before and you stated that only Tricare can correct this.

f. I then contacted Tricare, but they say:
If we are receiving claims via the electronic cross over between Medicare and TRICARE For Life
for all other provider except the one you have referenced in your message, there is nothing
wrong with our system, nor is fix I can complete to fix the issue.
Since Medicare if the party who is supposed to send us the claim electronically, I would suggest
contacting Medicare to discus the issue with them.
So we are at an impasse.

This is totally unsatisfactory.

I do not require an immediate reply, but I do require that someone with
experience, e.g., a supervisor, investigate this impasse and find a resolution.

Again, it is working for all except this one provider Quest Labs. So it is either your
problem or Tricare's.

1. If it is your problem then please fix it.

2. If it is Tricare's problem then explain to me why it is their problem, not yours,
so that I can then tell them.

Or even better, since you are both in the same business and both a lot smarter on
these matters than I, why doesn't someone from your organization contact Tricare
and sort it out and then write me back?

That is what any true professional would do. I am the customer, I have paid
thousands of dollars for a service I am not not presently receiving.

Oh, and include the Honorable John Boehner on your reply, as I am including him
on this request.

Tell me how I can help, but do not tell me to call a phone number. I want a letter
in reply so I can hold your feet to the fire.

Fix your system: both for email access and the crossover process.

Best regards,

C. Andrews (Claude A.) Lavarre,
Captain, USN (Ret.)
SSN: 408-72-5175
15 Willow Street
Newport, RI 02840

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Mount an Android to Linux with a USB cable

I want to be able to mount the Android as a USB drive, then do synchronization.

At present I use AirDroid to transfer files over WiFi (it seems not to work when the USB connection is in place, and of course if I move and am on another WiFi network I have to reset my WiFI settings) but it does not mount the device, just transfers stuff, so I haven't figured out how to use any scripts to automate any sort of synchronization.

The problem arises because the Androids do not function as USB block devices.

The link
explains this and goes through the steps to connect.

But they don't work for me with a Samsung Galaxy Nexus on ICS under openSUSE 12.2. I can mount the phone and enumerate the directories, but the files do not appear.

So after much research, experimentation, and failure, I found a solution:

Just install jmtpfs from the cited source (below). It just works:

1. As root:

    a. Create a mount point (a directory) in the /mnt directory. (Do not use /media as a base directory. Linux always deletes any directories in /media once they have been unmounted.)

    b. Change the mount point owner to user:users and permissions to 0777, e.g.:
        chown andy:users /mnt/nexus
        chmod 0777 /mnt/nexus

    c. Download and install jmtpfs from

You do not need mtpfs or any of its contortions.

2. Plug in the Android, and let it settle out. dmesg says:

    [ 3760.517863] usb 1-1.1: new high-speed USB device number 5 using ehci_hcd
    [ 3760.605130] usb 1-1.1: New USB device found, idVendor=04e8, idProduct=685c
    [ 3760.605135] usb 1-1.1: New USB device strings: Mfr=2, Product=3, SerialNumber=4
    [ 3760.605139] usb 1-1.1: Product: Galaxy
    [ 3760.605141] usb 1-1.1: Manufacturer: samsung
    [ 3760.605144] usb 1-1.1: SerialNumber: 01498FE71000900F

or something similar.

3. As user (e.g., andy):

    a. Mount the device

        jmtpfs /mnt/nexus   

    b. View, copy, move, or delete files in either dolphin or konqueror.

    c. Enjoy.

Easy when you know how.

Monday, December 24, 2012

An open letter to an invitation to a lecture

I received an invitation with, of course, a request for money from Salve Regina University (SRU) to a "Thomas Mann" lecture, with a blurb on its intended content. The following is my reply. Needless to say I never received a reply.

Thank you for your invitation that I received to the Salve Regina Thomas Mann lecture by various means. And yes of course, I have invited a number of BCC friends.

I know you are just doing your job, but you are doing a great disservice to your country by propagating totally untrue allegations. If you didn't actually write the invitation then blow this off, but pass it on to whoever did actually write the article.

It a total and abject LIE.

I don't wish to hurt you, but I do intend to instruct you, and all your supervisors as well, especially the lecturers, although I won't give them any money for the privilege of doing so.

You are all deadly (as in the consequences of human life), deadly wrong.


So I am exercising my First Amendment rights to address these publicly aired falsehoods:

Please reinform yourself, and please contact me if you would like any further assistance in doing so.
Acrimony and hyperpartisanship have seeped into every part of the political process.
Acrimony and hyperpartisianship have always been there. That is because people of PRINCIPLE think things through, come to conclusions, and then go forth to defend them with their lives.

 Remember the duel between Hamilton and Burr?

At least folks are not out there shooting each other, yet.

Although some are thinking about it.
endangering our very system of constitutional democracy.
This is a total, abject, ridiculous, and utter fallacy. Speak to your professors. There is no such thing as a "constitutional democracy".

Our Constitutional form of government is a representative Republic. The word democracy does not occur, not even once, in the entire Constitutional document nor its amendments. You can do a word search on

to prove this point. Nor does it occur, not even once, in the Declaration of Independence:
the Republicans have become ideologically extreme, scornful of compromise,
Wrong again. The Republicans are upholding the fundamental realities of the Constitution rather than engaging in wishful thinking. They are upholding the mathematical facts of our budget, that we cannot afford the debt and it can never be paid off without extreme measures. This can be shown with numbers to anyone smart enough to understand numbers. Once again: IGNORANCE.

These are not opinions. They are mathematical facts.
the established social and economic policy regime.
"Established?" what means "established?" Unlawful? Certainly not "established" by the Constitution and therefore (if indeed "established" at all) UNLAWFUL. Certainly not in any other way, other than perhaps through political correctness,

Nothing is ever "established" except when passed into writing, and then is subject to change. 31% of the populace "established" the outcome of this vote. Hardly "established".

And the Constitution certainly has not "established" taking half a person's pay and giving it to other people who won't budge an inch to work for it.
So you are just plain wrong.

with the Republican Party implacably refusing to allow anything that might help the Democrats
I call it brave and principled.

These are crucial times. People are waltzing around with their heads in the air (or the sand) completely ignoring the facts of reality and kicking the can down the street for the next generation.

I and anyone else with any personal integrity is taking on board the FACT that we are responsible for the moment. At this moment we cannot afford this waste.

Therefore I address you. Whether ignorantly or evilly, you are propagating falsehoods. LIES.

If you have similar integrity you will take these thoughts on board, examine them judiciously, and probably amend you ways. I'll be glad to help clarify.

Your statements are classic liberal wishful thinking. When presented with irrefutable fact they don't argue the points but then engage in ad hominems: name calling. (This yet again another *fact* as evidenced by your announcement.)

I hope on reflection you will absent yourself from that syndrome.

I wish you well in your endeavors, but you are clearly ignorant of (as in either not having learned or else deliberately ignoring) mathematical, historical, and Constitutional fact.

You need to do better. Talk to an ethicist, and a Constitutional law professor and a financial adviser. Or get another job. Or fire your boss.

Kind regards, Andy

Sunday, December 23, 2012

We are the last 28%

Open letter to Mssrs Obama, Boehner, LaPierre, posted on my blog and personally addressed to each on their websites (most were limited in their volume of acceptance, so I could only provide a URL to here. As a consequence I am free to edit and approve this content until such time as I am called on a particular edition):
  • I address this to you because you are the people I can touch with votes or money. I can't touch the Rothschilds, so conspiracy theories don't work for me.
  • It is also incredibly complex, so not amenable to sound-bite politics. Don't go there.
  • You three have the fate of this nation in your hands.

Bill Whittle, Mr. Boehner, and I have been laboring under a false assumption.

Our assumption has been that the people currently destroying the nation are thinking. Silly me.

As a consequence, any rational and logical analysis of their behavior leads one to conclude that they are evil.


But on reflection (considerable reflection) I am convinced that our assumption is incorrect: they are not evil. They simply are not thinking.

They are just feeling. Doing what feels right. Based on... what? a host of things:
  • Visceral, hormonal responses: sex, desire, hunger, desolation, misery, greed, jealousy, ambition, narcissism... Who knows...
  • Imbued responses: media, environment, advertisement
  • Cultural responses: historical cultural senses of disentitlement or entitlement, of abuse or superiority. A huge range of cultural causes.
  • Mental conditions. These are empirical fact well known in the literature. Some people are just plain crazy.
So what to do?

+ Start by recognizing a fundamental truth:

This nation's culture is a brutal culture of conflict, competition, and winner-take-all. Has been for centuries, but that no longer works when we have to live as closely together as we do now.

This self-destructiveness has got to cease. Now.

Especially at your highest levels of responsibility for the welfare of hundreds of millions of people in your care.

What would your mother say? My mother would say: "Stop playing your silly games. Shame on you. Get real."

So we need to adopt the mantra: It is not a contest. We all win or we all lose.

We presently are all losing.

+ The government has ground to a halt (as designed by the Constitution, yes the law of the land), and neither of you first two, Mr. Obama or Mr. Boehner, seem to have any clue on how to get it moving again.

With good reason. It is broken.

People of principle (I and many others) have had it. We would rather have it all trashed than continue to put up with the nonsense and abuse that we have been enduring for many many years. We are not advocating the destruction of the Constitution, but a return to it instead of an ignorance of it.

+ And if you continue with your ways there will be blood in the streets:

Please reread Thomas Paine and our other forefathers (and the citation below about Constantine). At some point people just get fed up and take to the streets.

Heck, don't worry about Thomas Paine or Constantine. Just look at Egypt and Syria today!

So there needs to be another way.

+ The other way is:
  •  work together
  • stop playing silly politics
  • look at the right answer
  • offer reasons (not feelings) as to why it is right
  • and tell all the other feelgood people to either get on board or pound sand.

"Lead, follow, or get out of the way."

Yes, I know that takes courage, yes I know that is not in the normal political correctness lexicon, yes I know that may end up with you becoming unelected, (term limits anyone?) but it is the right thing, and the government pension is very generous, so you can both go home quite comfortably without being reelected.

And it works. Bullies are almost always cowards. If you call them out they will fold.

So please, think of Robert E. Lee and do the right thing. Not the politically correct thing.

+ Next: simplify the message. Make it a feelgood message. Don't ask them to think. Just make it cool. For example:

  - It is not cool to:
  • kill people
  • run around half naked
  • be lazy, fat, and a couch potato
  • get drunk and complain about being dissed
  • do drugs, get pregnant without a spouse and a job, or generally make a mess of yourself (like covering yourself with tattoos).
  - It IS cool to:
  • Put your hat on straight, pull up your pants, shave, get a haircut, and put on a full set of clothes, male or female.
  • Be the best that you can be
  • Be better than your dad was
  • Do what you want to do
  • Go where you want to go
  • Be who you want to be
  • But not at the expense of your neighbor.
      - Bring him along, teach him to be as good as you are, but don't do it for him. "Give a man a fish... teach a man to fish..."

+ Next, simplify the math. People can't understand eight zeros behind a number. It is irrelevant. But if you put it in their terms: like, how much do you make, dude? How much can you afford?

Try this:

    - Take the national figures, remove 8 zeros and pretend it's a household budget:
  • Annual family income: $21,700
  • Money the family spent: $38,200
  • Resulting new debt on the credit card: $16,500 (um, what you spent minus what you earned)
  • Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
  • Total budget cuts so far: $38.50
What person, even a non-thinking feelgood person below the 50th percentile can't immediately see that this will never work? Even if he paid his ENTIRE salary to the credit card debt it would take over 7 years to pay it off, nevermind the interest.

So, duh, he has to sell some assets to pay off the bill. I, for one, am selling my house. (I'm out of work because my contract couldn't be renewed thanks to you both because of the continuing resolution , but I digress).

And, he has to cut his expenses, at least cut out the 16.5K over-expense.

+ And finally, since I know you and your staffs also have a limited attention span, CONVERT YOUR MESSAGE INTO SOMETHING THAT FEELS GOOD.

  - Don't ask people to think. 47% of them can't, another 25% don't want to. Saving this nation is up to the rest of us.

The last 28%.


+ For Mr. Boehner:

  - You are closest to the image of Constantine The Great in these times that I can imagine:
  • Principled, heroic, and capable of reaching the people. Please take thirty minutes to peruse his history:

  - You are better than most. Don't be humble. Be an example. If you've got it flaunt it:
  • from janitor to Speaker of the House: you have a hammer. Use it.
  - The Bell shaped curve is a fact of life. USE it.

+ For Mr. Obama:

  -I will give you the benefit of the doubt, but you have not earned it. Please do better:
  • Explain to the American people and me what is wrong with the simple household budget math above. I don't think you can.
  • And if you cannot, then you have to amend your ways because you are hurting each and everyone of us by taking money from those of us who work for it and giving it to people who do not and therefore will not. And, as my mother taught me, if someone is purposely trying to hurt you, they are not your friend.
  • So unless you can explain it better (as in keep it simple) you are by definition, not my friend, nor the friend of anyone else I know. Please do better.
+ As for Mr. LaPierre:

  - I am a member. But you need to broaden your message and simplify it at the same time.
  • More police and more guns are not the answer:
  • More mental illness screening and treatment and public education about the 2nd Amendment and responsible use of firearms are a contributory answer:
          - Whatever happened to NRA sponsored young people rifle clubs? BB guns etc?

    Teach people early the value and utility of firearms and at the same time the responsibility and honor incurred with their use.

Why not publicize this:

Start treating the root causes, not the symptoms.

     - Instead, now it seems cool to take your mother's semi-automatic and kill people, including your own mother and yourself.

(NO, it is not an "assault" rifle. You have to purposely pull the trigger for each round. A purposeful act by a purposeful person. A crime by the person, not the gun. Facts, please.)
  • I suggest that Federal intervention against the abuses of the media are at least one answer:
  - The media are hideously to blame for propagating a culture of political correctness, moral decadence, and violence.

Because it sells.

There is constant noise, generated by the media: commercials, radio, TV, earbuds, romance magazines, pornography, etc.

So who's fault is that?

When you surround yourself with violence, hatred, and falsehood, how can you possibly expect anything other than violence, hatred, and falsehood to permeate your existence?

+ For all:

  - What about the elephant in the room: CREDIT CARDS? Talk about an assault weapon...

Uncontrolled expansionary debt and the accompanying mentality of "oh, I can just charge it and kick it down the road" that drags everyone down?

What if we had to pass a background check including our family and friends before getting a credit card?

Hmmm, Mr. President? But oh, we can't do that. It will irritate the banking industry...

A credit card and the mentality that accompanies it is far more deadly than a weapon that requires you to purposely pull the trigger. And affects far more people than a single target.


OK guys, all three, let's pull together. Please do better:
  • Do the math. This household cannot survive. We need to cut the expense, we can't get more money unless we make more money by working. We need more, not fewer, people working to earn money for the family (and pay taxes). Put the kids to work, like John Boehner. Or me. I spent time as a bus boy, cleaning up the mess the football players left behind.
  • Be brave. Speak up, make it simple, stop being nice. Political correctness be damned. Like me. But I haven't heard a peep from any of you except Mr. LaPierre. THIS IS WAR. Call it out. Stop being nice.
  • Go after the underlying issues, not just the symptoms. Go after people not thinking, people feeling good, instead of doing the right thing. And mental illness, and credit cards, and the media's infatuation with falsehood, make believe, and most especially shoot-em up violence. 
Maybe we need a background check before we allow someone to sign up for television. The UK have TV licenses. How about a background check before being given a TV license or allowing them to rent a violent video, hmmm? But that would reeely irritate Hollywood and the media.

Maybe we need ratings on Internet content. Hmm. How would I rate? PG-13? Oooh. What a First Amendment fist-fight that would be...


I know you all three intend the best in your own view. I also know you are all three exhausted. I know hurtling. I know the Beltway. The Beltway is no friend of mine. I really do understand. Does anyone have a clue of how many hours it has taken me to craft this single post?

But I don't WANT to be either President, Speaker, or head of the NRA. I know better.

On the other hand, I do want to do something about this current mess, and you three are on point by your own volition.

And not one of you are doing your job well. You're finger pointing and muscle-flexing and playing the same ol' stupid political game.

So do  better. I will gladly show you how, because I care, both for the outcome and for each of your own happiness'.

Let's work together for the people, instead of our egos. You must all three be totally miserable with your state. Have any of you read Scott Peck's People of the Lie?

Get factual, get real. What we have now will not work. And as of now, does not work.

Your job is to be the best that you can be, to do the best that you can do for all of us in the long run. With vision, forethought, (mostly thought), and to discourage the culture of political correctness and feelgood politics that is dragging this nation down to the least common denominator.

Please let me know how I can help.

Best regards,

Andy Lavarre
C. Andrews Lavarre
15 Willow Street
Newport, RI 02840
+1 401-339-7189

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Like I said: Root Cause Analysis

I've been struggling with this one as well: what are the root causes of our collective societal malaise, including violence, irrational financial policies, and all the rest.

Here is at least one view regarding the root cause of the violence we see so prevalent:
To address problems with
  • our mental health institutions
  • virtual reality gaming
  • the drugging of our children
  • our gun laws
  • the media culture’s glorification of such violence
without dealing with the root cause of our societal decay are vain attempts to mask symptoms.

And what is that root cause?
The destruction of the family.

The destruction of the family leads to people living lives alone. When people live alone they are drawn to filling in their lives with things they make up.

It is always easier to make things up, deal with sound bites, and worship false gods than to spend the time and energy to think things through carefully and comprehensively. It's easier to be a couch potato than to actually get out and about and do real stuff. Especially if you are alone and there isn't anyone around to spur you to get moving. So people, especially young people, end up in a made up world of make believe, which increasingly is filled with violence.

But if you surround yourself with hatred, violence, and falsehood how can you rationally expect your life to be full of anything except hatred, violence, and falsehood?

If you go through life with constant background of noise: radio, TV, earbuds, how can you think?

But that's the point. Don't actually think. Just do what feels good. Nevermind the consequences.

And buy more violent videos and games. And buy more romance magazines, and then buy more clothes to dress like a bimbo (male or female), and then get pregnant and have yet another fatherless child to perpetuate the cycle. All the while, of course, buying more stuff.

And,  further driven by the addiction to media, be now addicted to other things the media offer: more political correctness and soundbites, closing the loop on irrational financial policies...

All leading to a rational conclusion: we are no longer a thinking nation, rather a feelgood nation, and reaping what we have sown.

The post is spot on. Please read it. He uses facts and statistics and logic, not feelgood emotionalism, to support his argument:
Children from broken homes account for:
  • 63% of teen suicides.
  • 71% of teen pregnancies.
  • 90% of homeless and runaways.
  • 71% of high school dropouts.
  • 75% of all drug users.
  • 85% of behavioral disorders.
  • 70% of those in juvenile detention.
  • 57% of all prison inmates.
 So let's focus on root causes. Not politically correct causes of the moment.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Where do we go now? Or: New American mantra.

My exercise for the past few days has been to analyze an absolutely brilliant speech given by Bill Whittle 12 November 2012 to the Hancock Park Patriots.
I looked and looked for a transcript without success, so bit the bullet and did this work. I've written PJTV for their policy on transcription etc., without reply to date. If/when cleared I can then post a transcription. 
In the meantime, here is my summation of what I see as the key points (and my extrapolations) of his one hour and two minute presentation of what is the root cause of the problems this nation faces, and what to do about it. There is of course much much more in the presentation, including some facinating thoughts on establishing a Virtual Presidency to serve as a 'loyal opposition' as well as thoughts similar to those of Ayn Rand on how the message might better have been delivered. So you must watch the video. This is only my effort to package the message in a form that can easily be presented and remembered:
+ America's heritage is one of virtue: being the best you can be at everything, and being so fairly, honestly, and committedly. Which in turn require you to bring along your fellow man.
 Which America has done more of than any other country in the entire history of the world:
We are bigger, faster, braver, more hardworking, and kinder as a nation than any other has been in the history of the world. 
"Yes, I am better than you because I'm better educated at it and I work harder at it, but I'll gladly show you how." Missionaries, Rockefeller Foundation, Singer Sewing Machine, Coca Cola, Ford Motor Company, the list is endless. That was the message they all carried to all corners of the earth. But we have forgotten that message.
    - Thus there is a crisis of virtue in this country. Where it is no longer cool to be the Lone Ranger, to rescue fair damsels, to be the best we can be, and to help teach others how to be better. We need to reverse that. Until we reverse that the fat cats will continue to rape us. Fat cats in Government (SES, GS-15, flag officers) included.
    - You cannot overcome the crisis without first overcoming the culture. Make it cool once again to be the best.
    - You cannot do that without a war of one kind or another: call people out. Tell the kids to pull up their pants and put their hats on straight. Write a blog (I'd be delighted to help you set one up. It's easy, especially when you know how). You build the message: It is cool to be straight, and pick the right messenger to act as a role model, and it flies. Never fails.
That kind of "culture of personal excellence" and its leadership abounds in the military. It is cool to be the best that you can be. And it's not just the military. The young fellow behind the counter at Long Wharf Seafood believes it too. He's neat, courteous, helpful, and prompt. As I pointed out to his boss yesterday in his presence. 
Whittle: "Our founders understood that virtuous people can govern themselves. That virtuous people don't have to have thousands of laws and regulations placed upon them because they don't need to be governed from without, they're governed from within. They're governed by their conscience and by their goodness. Virtuous people understand more than anybody how easy it is to fall from a place of virtue and be human and have feet of clay. But at least a country that has been educated and mythologized about virtue understands that the reason we have small government and the reason these people have been off our backs is because we can take care of ourselves. We won't steal from the treasury. Why? Because virtuous people don't steal from the treasury."

+ The degradation was triggered by the industrial revolution, when waves of peasant immigrants were jammed into cities, they too hapless to comprehend and deal the complexities of language and technology without assistance. A "take-care-of-me" culture arose, fostered in part by well meaning corporations: at 65 you got a gold watch and a pension. Take-care-of-me. Don't stand out. Just keep your head down.
Which has persisted to today.
So don't blame the liberals, they are not trying to be bad. They were just raised with these ideas as their culture. They "just know" that is how it should be. It's in their culture.
Which are the most liberal states today? Those where the industrial age was most concentrated.
So it is not a deliberate moral decision to demand all this handout stuff, it is a cultural heritage in parts of the population stemming from their immigrant industrial age roots. But fortunately, that mentality is no longer needed for survival and is therefore invalid.
Once again, you have to change the culture. Make it cool to stand up on your own and do your own thing.

+ This is happening: in the information age: when anyone can pull a phone out of their pocket and order steel from China, you no longer need the huge industrial complexes and the dependencies they foster. You can set up a virtual business in a heartbeat with a blog and a website for *free* and start buying and selling stuff and making a living. Of which Bill and I are living proof.
So we can safely dismantle the monolithic bureaucracy without having people suffer IF, and only IF, we educate them: teach and show them the tools and methods for them to:
+ Be virtuous. Being virtuous is cool.
+ Do what you want to do.
+ Go where you want to go.
+ Say what you want to say.
+ Be who you want to be.
+ And reap the rewards of your own hard work.
+ But do so in a kind and virtuous manner and gladly help show others how to do the same.
All of these are completely contrary to the dog-eat-dog-take-care-of-me-and-don't-piss-off-anyone-because-we're-living-'way-too-close-together mentality BORN of the masses of helpless individuals of the industrial age jammed into six-story cold-water walk-up tenements. That mentality was what people needed to have then to survive. They don't need it any more.
This is my idea for a new American mantra, a short, sound-bite message that people can easily carry around in their heads, like the song from Gilligan's Island:

+ Be virtuous. Being virtuous is cool.
+ Do what you want to do.
+ Go where you want to go.
+ Say what you want to say.
+ Be who you want to be.
+ And reap the rewards of your own hard work.
+ But do so in a kind and virtuous manner and gladly help show others how to do the same.

That is what the United States of America did for its first 150 years of history.
That is what we have collectively and culturally forgotten how to do.
I've certainly seen it work in a microcosm. It can work for all.
As my Dutch friends say het is geen wedstrijd. It is not a contest. We either all win or we all lose.
And we are all losing now.

We need to change the culture.

(I also found a way to download YouTube videos and save them. In case anyone wants to try to wipe this one I have a copy... See
Very easy, download the file, save it somewhere, make it executable, and call it from the command line, e.g.,
It's 384.43M and takes about forty minutes to download.)}

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Political Correctness

Like I said. Except he says it better:

Of the entire clip, the most telling is that the opposition never offers an alternative.

They just attack:

"How can you say such a thing?"
"You're not very nice."

Pay no attention to all those facts and logic.

And yet more linear thinking: Who's on first?

Get over it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

121211 Letter to the Honorable John Boehner

To the Honorable John Boehner:

Thank you and your staff for your reply to my various messages.

I had demanded that you use the power - the HAMMER - you have to bring this hideously invasive and spend-thrift Federal Government to a principled full stop,  down to parade rest, by refusing to surrender and allowing the sequestration to take place.

That is still my position. It really would not be that bad, it would take us back to the Clinton years. Not too many people starving then either.

But I can understand why, as a first line of offense, you don't want to push the buggy over the brink.

At  least not until you have been seen to be sufficiently politically correct in trying to seek consensus (which you'll never find) or compromise (which has only a slightly better chance than consensus, as in 0.1%).

That effort is doomed to failure, but I suppose to be politically correct you must at least try. (Somebody recently said something about la-la land, but I can't remember who...)


But you or someone on your staff really need to watch and analyze Bill Whittle's "Where do we go now."

Please direct one of your staffers to me ( and I'll share my analysis. It is no holy grail, but has a host of ideas that I have not heard expressed before.


So I disagree, but in the spirit of compromise consider this:

+ If we can't push the buggy over the cliff, if we can't gut big government, how about we just break it up?

Send the pieces back to the people. Follow the Tenth Amendment and devolve the power to the people,

Get it out of the Beltway.

Can't be done? Think again: Numerous agencies have been moved to arcane locations, like the Coast Guard Documentation Center being moved to Falling Rivers, WV, the Navy Personnel Command to Millington, TN, and so forth. But they were all at the defenseless GS-12 worker bee drone level.

How about we do the same for the SES and GS-15 organizations, the power centers, not just the poor little GS-12 worker bees, hmmm?

The Congress would delight in such a "redistribution" as long as each cannibal got his piece of the corpse.

Relocate the following:

+ Department of Justice to San Francisco (or New Orleans or Key West, FL or Provincetown, MA). Have them daily confront the issues of perversion, indolence, and immorality and their conflicts with political correctness.

+ Department of Agriculture to The San Fernando or San Joachin Valley (CA). Let them see and deal with the day-to-day struggles against flood, pestilence, and drought.

+ Health and Human Services to Worcester, MA. See every day the food lines and the drunks on the sidewalks.

+ FDA and NIH to Cambridge, MA. Interface daily with scientists and researchers trying to find promising cures for difficult diseases that they can't propagate because of governmental bureaucracy. Pilsicainide FDA approval anyone?

+ Department of the Navy to Pascagoula, MS or even better (wonderfully deep and protected sea detail) to Fall River or New Bedford, MA. Get these bureaucrats in direct contact with sailors, fishermen, grease, and machinery.

+ National Archives to Seattle, WA. La-la dreams, pictures, and deviants in directly contact with real world dreamers, artistes, and other deviants.

+ FEMA to St. Louis, MO or New Orleans. Let them wade through the muddy Mississippi in a REAL flood on the way to work, not one invented by rotating flood plain charts to true north to pay off the insurance companies...

+ IRS to New Hampshire. Hoo boy. That would be a fun one...

+ FBI to Texas. Ibid. You want Second Amendment? I'l show you frigging Second Amendment.

+ Department of Homeland Security and the TSA to Arizona. How's your body scanner working on THAT dried out river bed, hmmm?

And so on. You get my drift.

Put these fat cat bureaucrats on the front line of the kinds of problems they are allegedly trying to fix, OUTSIDE THE BELTWAY.

Break up the SES cabal, get them out from behind their mahogany desks and shoulder-rubbing with other fat cats and make them see the misery around them every day. THAT THEY ARE CONTINUING!

Put them on the front line to fight for their lives and principles like the rest of us. Over time they will seek the company of other People of the Lie and their organizations will atrophy and disappear into the forest.

Or at least become more responsive.

As I said, I've been in Federal budgeting. I know how hideously much pork there is. If we can't get rid of the pork then at least spend it somewhere it will do some good.

On a positive note, I have been impressed with the local Social Security Administration office. But then there *is*  a local SSA office and I can get in their face over a desk.

I can't do that with the IRS or Medicare.

I support you, but I shall correct you.

Do not surrender.

Best regards,

C. Andrews Lavarre
15 Willow Street
Newport, RI 02840

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Linear Thinking

I have been struggling with my conscience for several months now, trying to remain rational and objective, yet still honest, about the multitudinous troubles facing this Nation. 
In the course of expressing myself in these regards I have found myself at odds with friends and family who react emotionally to what I consider to be rational and objective assertions. I have found that quite confounding, as what I say makes perfect sense to me and has been documented with mathematics, URLs, and other citations.
The first step was to stop emailing them and post stuff here. If I haven't convinced them in the past fifty or so years it isn't going to happen now. By putting it here I can send a bell-ringer and they can take it or leave it, it isn't clogging their inbox.
But then, thank you, one of them found a posting:
This site is difficult and only puts gasoline on the fire if the reader is a woman. Nevermind that the author is a woman herself. 
So no immediate help.
So why then "thank you"? 
Because the observations are perfectly valid. 
But more canonical than simply man or woman.
The friend proceeded to show this by using search and replace, exchanging linear thinker for man and non-linear thinker (or artiste in my lexicon if you prefer) for woman.
And then it all makes perfect sense without all the testoterone-laden gender bias stuff triggered by using man and woman as done originally. 
And this version is inherently non-inflammatory or embarrassing, since the choice of identifying yourself as either a linear or non-linear thinker is entirely up to you.
So here it is in Courier font, with my introduction and in-line remarks in blue Arial font:   
To be kind: I think that linear thinkers deal with life as being what they perceive as reality - what it is - (mostly as a consequence of often painful hands-on experience). They are fully cognizant of its divergence from the ideal but equally unwilling to diverge from its reality. 
So as a consequence, as the author alludes, they are intransigent in pursuing their course. They blow off disapproval; they are committed to their cause. They don't get mad, they just carry on, with ever more determination. (And arguably, e.g., Winston Churchill, Jesus Christ, Florence Nightingale, and many, many others, have saved civilization or portions of it over and again from certain death with this sort of behaviour.) By contrast, non-linear thinkers deal with life as if it were what they wished it might be. Further, they have little or no cognizance of their view's divergence from reality. 
I have often been told: "You're so certain. What if you're wrong?"
It's the what if that makes the difference. The linear thinker thinks things through completely and exhaustively (and exhaustingly) and comes to a conclusion. So "what if" has no existence in his lexicon.
So then, as the writer alludes, the non-linear thinker is embarrassed and become angry and defensive when the obvious divergence between their assumption and actual reality is pointed out to them. A natural reaction, and fully predictable. 
I could, but shan't, recount equal examples of their failures. Doesn't matter. They lost. 
So the cited article is presented here with the aforementioned exchanges and my in-line comments:
Research has demonstrated that non-linear thinkers have a more inclusive, collaborative work style. They tend to try and achieve consensus, employ a fair and equitable process and avoid conflict.
Yes, but we don't particularly care about inclusiveness and consensus. We care about results and can show that our way generates the kinds of results we seek. Q.E.D. 
Linear-thinkers focus more on the results and the shortest, most direct path to the goal. Their cooperative relationships are more like sports teams, with everyone having a designated role. The team may take precedence over the individual.
Yes. what matters most is the result. It is not about me or anybody's feelings. It is about the result.  
As such, linear and non-linear thinkers have a different way of acting, reacting and communicating. In my 30-or-so-year career, here follow the major lessons I’ve learned about how to do business with a linear thinker, if you are a non-linear thinker.
1. Cut to the chase. Don’t beat around the bush. Get to the point. Spit it out. Linear thinkers don’t want stories. They want "just the facts". When talking to linear thinkers, leave out the details and stick to the broad strokes. Provide basic context, give the minimal background info and skip the "colour". Offer them the Cole’s Notes version, they will ask any necessary questions to find out the additional information that they need/want to know.
Yes. An especially important lesson to learn because "People Like Them" are the people who usually end up in charge, certainly at the top.  
2. Along the same lines, minimize the explanations about why you didn’t or can’t do something. The background explanation is probably not interesting or pertinent and may end up sounding like an excuse. Instead, outline how you intend to compensate for or correct the situation. Linear thinkers are much less interested in the why, and much more concerned about the what.
Yes. the What, but also the how: OK, we have this situation, for better or worse. WHAT are we going to do about it? No blame, no shame, it is what it is, but we need to fix it. How
3. Don’t take it personally. Sometimes, it might be necessary to cultivate a thicker skin.
Yes, especially. Once again: it is what it is. Let's deal with it. 
Linear thinkers have an enviable ability to shrug off criticism, move past negative comments, or ignore unwanted input.
Yes. The distinction between facts (which are useful) and opinions (which are not).
To non-linear thinkers, even casual feedback is often perceived in the worst possible light, a direct and laser-sharp pinpointing of their shortcomings and failings. They will think about it, turn it over and dwell on it with much more consideration than any with which it was given.
Yes. Angst, "You're not being very nice." I'm being perfectly nice. But there is water in the bilge and we need to fix that.
Get over it. 
While non-linear thinkers will consider each and every word and all of their possible meanings, linear thinkers will be thinking of the message – the information they wanted to impart.
Yes, please: what did I say? That is what I meant. Don't try to read more into it, just answer the question. 
4. You might want to ditch the chip on your shoulder. Lesson number 1: Life is not fair; Lesson number 2 – See lesson number 1). Not all circumstances or situations can be absolutely equitable or fair.
Yes. And the author's realization of this fact of reality is especially what makes me think she is a closet linear thinker. Recognizing the difference between what is and what we would all like it to be. 
 (I’ve had a particularly hard time with this one). Linear thinkers “get” each other. There will always be times when you are the odd one out, basically because you are not a linear thinker.
We only need eye contact and a smirk or a single assertive phrase to know that we are in the company of shipmates. 
And we only need an averted gaze or a deference to know that we are not. 
What the author does not address, but is equally true, is that we often rely on visceral perceptions. We can't prove them, but we (and everyone else around us) knows they are true. So we act on them. 
And, in fact, we are taught in our leadership and management courses, to do so, of course with caution and discrimination. And we discount those around us who refuse to recognize the visceral reality. 
Before we get too PC here, let us remind ourselves that this is precisely why we have a jury system: to give judicial credence, by unanimous majority, to visceral perception. 
5. Whatever you do, don’t cry. I know this is a tough one, because many non-linear thinkers manifest anger as tears. But linear thinkers don’t understand this. In a professional setting, linear thinkers perceive tears as a purely emotional reaction – sad or unhappy. Crying makes them extremely uncomfortable and they don’t know what to do.
Um, I disagree here. Crying doesn't make me at all uncomfortable. It just shows that he is a dweeb. I know exactly what to do. Send him to his room, get him out of my life. Now.
The reason they may interpret crying as weakness or a sign that you can’t cope is because generally, that is what they have been taught.
Yes, exactly. Why cannot you control your bodily functions? You were out of diapers at three. Please explain how this might not be true? Q.E.D.
Unfortunately this reflects poorly on you. If you think you’re losing it, excuse yourself or reschedule for a time when you feel able to be less emotional or better able to act with stoicism. It’s preferable to seem abrupt or rude than give way to tears.
Oh, please, yes. And men cry as well. Amazing.
Abrupt and rude can be perceived as strength. Tears are not. 
6. There is more than one way to skin a cat. Rules are made to be broken. Linear thinkers focus on the shortest way between two points. If there is a shorter, quicker, easier way to do something, they will find it.  Non-linear thinkers often have a hard time getting on board with this, as they are more rules and process oriented, they may not automatically look for an alternate to the specified method. Non-linear thinkers may feel they are cheating. The key is to take the time to examine the opportunities, and agree if/how they can be leveraged.
Yes. I live by my rules, not other people's. And my rules are based on higher rules in succession, like the U.S. Constitution and God's rules. Much bigger than any contemporary's rules. I just don't care about their rules. 
(Oh, and the author's use of the phrase "getting on board with this" is classic Navy speak. So again, I suspect that she is a stealth linear-thinker. And very good at it.)
I care about the rules from my Lord and Master. And maybe that is where the difference lies: 
Who is your Lord and Master?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Too true to be funny

This is too true to be funny.

The next time you hear a politician use the Word 'billion' in a casual manner, think about whether you want the 'politicians' spending YOUR tax money.

A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, But one advertising agency did a good job of Putting that figure into some perspective in One of its releases.

A. A billion seconds ago it was 1959.

B. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.

C. A billion hours ago our ancestors were
living in the Stone Age.

D. A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.

E. A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.

While this thought is still fresh in our brain...

let's take a look at New Orleans ...
It's amazing what you can learn with some simple division.

Louisiana Senator, Mary Landrieu (D) was asking Congress for 250 BILLION  DOLLARS To rebuild New Orleans .

Interesting number... What does it mean?

A. Well .. If you are one of the 484,674 residents of New Orleans (every man, woman and child) You each get $516,528

B. Or... If you have one of the 188,251 homes in New Orleans , your home gets $1,329,787.

C. Or... If you are a family of four... Your family gets$2,066,012.

Washington , D.C

Are all your calculators broken??

Building Permit Tax
CDL License Tax
Cigarette Tax
Corporate Income Tax
Dog License Tax
Federal Income Tax (Fed)
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)
Fishing License Tax
Food License Tax
Fuel Permit Tax
Gasoline Tax
Hunting License Tax
Inheritance Tax
Inventory Tax
IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax)
IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax)
Liquor Tax
Luxury Tax
Marriage License Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
Real Estate Tax
Service charge Taxes
Social Security Tax
Road Usage Tax (Truckers)
Sales Taxes
Recreational Vehicle Tax
School Tax
State Income Tax
State Unemployment Tax (SUTA)
Telephone Federal Excise Tax
Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax
Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax
Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax
Telephone Recurring and Non-recurring Charges Tax
Telephone State and Local Tax
Telephone Usage Charge Tax
Utility Tax
Vehicle License Registration Tax
Vehicle Sales Tax
Watercraft Registration Tax
Well Permit Tax
Workers Compensation Tax

(And to think, we left British Rule to avoid so many taxes)


Not one of these taxes existed 100 years ago... And our nation was the most prosperous in the world.

We had absolutely no national debt...
We had the largest middle class in the world...
And Mom stayed home to raise the kids.

What happened?
Can you spell


    And I still have to
    Press '1'
    For English.

    What has happened to our country?????

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Streaming Spotify to Logitech Media Server

Some clarification.

My 9/29/12 post on Streaming Spotify to Squeezeboxserver is still correct, but over-simplistic. It "just worked" that one time. But now works, albeit erratically, unless you are very explicit and deliberate in getting it going.

Oh, and this is a solution under Windows XP under Oracle's VirtualBox ( under openSUSE 12.2.

No native such solution to date under Linux.

The biggest problem is getting DSBridge to start reliably.

In short, we need to be very deliberate and bureaucratic in letting each step in the boot sequence settle out before undertaking the next step. This is determined by watching for blinking lights (disk or other activity, including little window messages).

We have experimented with different start sequences (details below).

It all seems to be happier if your start Spotify first and then the Logitech Media Server Web Control (LMSWC - the browser interface at yourIPaddress:9000), but the opposite sequence also works.

I can't really tell if the erraticity is due to the stack or from normal network latency. There is an eight second latency between Spotify and the LMSWC, as measured by the timer under the progress bar in Spotify.

It is also important to use the correct IP address. yourIPaddress is your machine's IP address obtained from running the command ipconfig in a terminal (Start > Run > cmd.exe > ipconfig). There appears to be some erraticity if LMSWC is opened as but it still works, as long as Internet Radio is tuned into yourIPaddress:8124.

Using localhost:8124 or just does not work for me.

So in summary:

+ Make sure that neither Spotify nor the LMSWC browser start on boot.

+ After all boot sequences are done (blinking lights stop, etc.) then start Spotify and LMSWC, letting each settle out. The sequence doesn't really matter, although it seems less erratic if Spotify goes onto the stack first.

+ Start music in Spotify, watching for the DSB ball (blue).

+ Tune in LMSWC Internet Radio (left panel) to yourIPaddress:8124.

+ Start the player in the right panel of LMSWC. Watch the DSB ball turn green.


Experimental results below:
Spotify then LMSWC
From a clean reboot (let all the blinking lights go out so that everything that is going to start has started:

+ There is a an icon in the system tray for Logitech Media Server (LMS). If you mouse over it it identifies itself as Perl Tray. It blinks alternatively grey and full color until the LMS is fully started. Wait until this settles out.

+ Start Spotify. Let it settle out (get pass initial adverts, get on line, etc.).

+ Start some music from Spotify. A round ball appears in the system tray, initially colored blue. We call this the DSBridge icon (DSB ball).

+ Start the browser (Firefox for me) and start the URL myIPaddress:9000. Apparently it is important to use the local IP address, rather than localhost:9000 ( The last two work, but apparently somewhat erratically.

+ Again let things settle out.

+ In the left panel of LMSWC go to Internet Radio > Tune in URL and enter http://myIPaddress:8124. This "station" will appear in the right panel. This will not work if you use either localhost:8124 or

+ In the right panel start playing the "station". The DSB ball turns green. Eight seconds later you start hearing music through LMS.

LMSWC then Spotify
Alternatively, from a clean reboot:

+ Let the Perl Tray settle out.

+ Start the LMSWC and let it settle out.

+ Start Spotify, let it settle out.

+ Start some music from Spotify. The DSB ball appears in blue.

+ In LMSWC left panel go to Internet Radio > Tune in URL and enter  http://myIPaddress:8124. This "station" will appear in the right panel and starts playing. This will not work if you use either localhost:8124 or

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Facts, Opinions, Conclusions, and Actions

This Nation has hideous problems. Foremost is a culture of Political Correctness, followed by Cowardice.

I won't waste your time here except to remember Walt Disney's Bambi:

If you can't say somethin' nice then don't say nothin' at all.
Sorry Thumper. The world is not a nice place. So you need to make a noise.

That noise needs to be expressed in terms of facts. Irrefutable facts of nature.

Or at least separate sets of facts, each backed up by exhaustive research and documentation.

Once give those sets of fact you then need coherent rational reasoning: IF... THEN...

resulting in a set of conclusions. Again, you can argue about the IFs and the THENs but at least you have a framework.

And at the end you can do either one of two things:

1. Admit that "yes, you have a point."


2. "I don't like that answer."


Some, prolly most of us choose #1.

The rest, choose Political Correctness. (#2)


The advantage of #1 is that then BOTH can say, "OK, so what?" What can we do collectively to make it better?

The disadvantage of #2 is that you are both then thrown back into the maelstrom of opinions and the attendant bodily parts.


So which would you rather have? Fact or hurt feelings?

Decision Point

After several discussions with people of opposing views I have decided to cease and desist from any more sending various thoughts to personal acquaintances. For whatever reason, people take things more personally if the messages arrive in their inboxes than if they read them on a blog.

And, except for the addressees who don't agree, it is preaching to the choir. In any case, a total waste of time, yours and mine.

This hazards personal relationships. So I need to do something else.
Besides, If after nine years of doing this with NO exclamation points or bold fonts I haven't convinced you by now then one or the other of us (or both) are intransigent and oblivious to reality. So goodbye, as far as broadcasts are concerned.

I still welcome personal interchange, but I shall not be silenced by Political Correctness and Cowardice, so instead am moving all these philosophical commentaries to this site.

Here you can subscribe to an RSS feed if you want to be alerted to new posts, or you can put it in your favorites or you can ignore it.

After consideration, this is prolly the best path anyhow:
+ If you're not part of the solution then you are part of the problem.
+ If you don't want to be part of the solution then you deserve what you get.
+ Being a blog I can attract a wider readership, TBTG for Google.
+ Irritating a larger population is better for the Nation at large, perhaps even of people who can actually do something. (Does anyone remember Common Sense?)
So all in all a good decision.


We have hideous problems facing this Nation. No one can solve them alone, but we can together if we pay attention. But if we refuse to listen or discuss we are part of the problem. 

But I welcome one-on-one civil discourse, either by commentary here or at my personal email address if you already have it.

This is serious stuff. Either we all win or we all lose.

Right now, we are all losing.

In these times: Check your Medicare premiums

In these times of travail we are all looking for ways to save money.

Today I received a letter from the Social Security Administration discussing a nasty little bit that our exalted legislators have sneaked in: If you make over $85K you have to pay a surcharge on your Medicare premiums that are taken out of your Social Security payments. 

This one outlines the details:

This one tells you how to complain:

Broader guidance is at

For 2012 the standard Part B premium for 2012 is $99.90.

For 2013 it is $104.90
(five dollar increase).

If you make over $85K then there is a graduated surcharge. Per the letter received yesterday here is the table:

By correcting my status with them today I shall pay a $42 surcharge instead of a $230.80 surcharge, e.g., $146.90 total.

Much better.

They say:


I did have a copy of the 2011 IRS-1040 with my dismal lowly AGI and presented it.

They use a figure called the MAGI (Modified AGI) comprising the AGI from IRS Form 1040 plus any tax-free interest (I have none).

The letter is long (seven pages), but clear and comprehensive. I'm impressed:

It turns out you don't need the form.

So I've saved $2265.60 with about four hours of research and communing with the local SSA office.

That's $566.40 an hour.

Not bad work if you can get it...