The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

By the way... there's a crossword at the bottom of this page

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

New Toys And My Brand Of Luck

I took a few plunges recently. I ordered a new tablet, replaced my backup software, and bought a new phone. And chaos ensued... as it often does for me.

I was getting emails from Carbonite telling me my subscription was about to expire for my laptop. So, on Saturday, I decided I would switch to another company, I-Drive, and purchased the software subscription. It covers all computers in the house for one fee (a much lower fee than Carbonite) but, of course, it required installation after download. And that is when the chaos first happened. In the midst of installing the software on Faye's machine, we lost access to the internet. Not a big problem since I had already downloaded it but an annoyance because it required some interaction with the website... and the cloud.

Eventually, all was well. Faye's, Francis', the laptop, and even the Toshiba tablet had the software installed and running. Initial backups were run on the laptop, my machine, the tablet, and Francis' machine. Feeling exceedingly proud of myself, I thought I was prepared for anything. I did not count on Murphy and his laws.

Yesterday, I bought a new cellphone. It runs Win8. It worked fine except I needed to replace my SIM card with a smaller one after cloning all my contacts to the new one. For that, I went to the local ATT phone store. Ten minutes later, they had the new phone working just fine. I still had to make it work with my Focus. For that, I turned to the salesman at the Ford dealership who sold us the Lincoln. 5 minutes after getting there, the phone was paired, Bluetooth-wise, to the Focus. All was going just fine. I arrived home feeling on top of things.

The doorbell rang. It was the arrival of the new tablet. No problemo, I thought. and it wasn't... except that the Getting Started booklet neglected to tell me how to shut it down (booting it up was easy), nor how to configure the cabling for the charging unit, and I learned that Win8 is different than past versions. Very different.

I also needed updates to bring it up to the more stable version 8.1. That's when we lost the internet again... as I was looking at the manual for the device. Silly me, thinking Comcast wouldn't screw up my internet connection at this crucial point in time. Of course it did. So, I went to dinner with friends (as we do on Tuesdays each week) leaving the new tablet powered on and Faye's machine running its initial backup. Two hours later, we had the internet back and I downloaded the manual for the new tablet but Faye's backup was only 30% complete so it will be running all night (at least till midnight anyway). Woke up this morning to find something had gone wrong and it still wasn't quite finished.

Tomorrow things might be relatively normal around here... but I doubt it.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Button-Down Mind Of Douglas*

Button up your overcoat
When the wind is free
Take good care of yourself
You belong to me

Have you ever considered that phrase? Button up??? Who does that? I don't, I button down. It's an old habit. When I button a shirt or a windbreaker (a jacket... even though it sounds like it's a description of a rude person) or an overcoat.. something I've never owned, I start at one button down from the top and button down. But that doesn't trip off the tongue like "button up" does.

Other inane phrases come to mind. "Room and board", for example. Wiki explains it thus:

"Board" refers to the table on which food is served. Historically, "in a modest house, the table, or 'board', might have been provided with stools for guests but just the one chair with arms, which was reserved for the household's head. The original 'chairman of the board' was literally so seated on a chair while everyone else was on a stool..."

Perhaps it was also just a board, a plank, along which stools were placed. I can picture that... food placed, buffet-style, on this board that might rest upon wooden barrels. At least, that is what comes to mind when I hear or see that phrase.

We "turn a blind eye toward" whatever we do not want to see or know about.

"In one ear and out the other" is another commonly used phrase that defies reality.

Also, "get on a plane." I don't know about you but I like to get in a plane... it would be very cold and windy to be on it.

"A penny for your thoughts." That has become something of an insult. A penny is useless these days except when calculating sales tax... something that has led to a small basket or other container for pennies near a cash register because who carries pennies around these days?

*A reference to "The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart"

Friday, September 26, 2014


You've got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
And latch on to the affirmative
Don't mess with Mister In-Between

I don't know who "Mister In-Between" might be but I have always loved accents. I think I mentioned this before... It may have something to do with my having lived in several different regions of the country and been exposed to a number of accents. It may have something to do with living in a tourist mecca (south Florida) and, thus, being exposed to a number of accents. It may have something to do with my stint in the Navy and its exposing me to a number of accents.

One of my favorite memories is of a Japanese bar girl singing "You Don't Have To Say You love Me" (a Dusty Springfield hit of the time) whose words were:

You don't have to say you love me
Just be close at hand
You don't have to stay forever
I will understand

But these words came out as

"You no haffu say you ruv me juss be crose a han

You no haffu stay f'evah I rill unnastan"

I fell in love with her and overlooked her ability to drink me under the table and her ability to cuss like a lifer bos'n mate. I mean, who wouldn't?

Then there was the first class petty officer bos'n's mate ("Boats" to one and all) who would tell us our duties for the day at "quarters" and have the second class petty officer bos'n's mate interpret. You see, Boats was from the Lousiana and spoke a language no one quite understood (except the 2nd class guy). It was that lingering French influence that tainted his speech.

Nothing quite says sweet and pliant like the nice southern (or should I say "Suthun"?) drawl of a young lady from the south. The English accent says "calm and reserved", German accents say "precise and careful", and Russian ones say "We will bury you!"

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wondering About Nations And Such

I tend to mind-wander when reading articles, or books, or just about anything more than half a page long. This was a bit troublesome when I was in school and most of my learning was done by osmosis, or you could say, "sleep-learning."

So, last week, as I read an article about the Scottish vote of independence, I began to muse. Articles that make me think actually make me day-dream. This particular day-dream involved the history of how countries formed.

No country popped up like a mushroom overnight. Each evolved over many years and all took their tolls in blood and treasure to come about. I think they are still evolving. At the core of every country is an ethnic group or tribe. As I was discussing American history vis-a-vis the so-called "Native-American" (they weren't actually native to this land but simply earlier immigrants). We treated them badly, horribly, and cleverly pitted them one against the other. This was not a new strategy but a time-honored and successful one that had always worked well in the past.

A city-state forms, generally ethnically "pure" and pushes outward, aggressively bringing more land and people under its control. Eventually, if they were successful, building an empire made up of many ethnic groups and vast expanses of land. The Roman model is the classic one.

But all the empires follow a similar model. What always bothered me was revolutions in feudal times. The rebels always fought for "freedom" and that bugged me. I eventually came up with a rationalism: "relative freedom" or, if you will, the freedom to rally around a despot of the group's choosing. Because, in times past, all countries (and empires) were ruled by despots. Today they tend to be elected ones... but still...

Have we really advanced much in the last 3000 years?


Monday, September 22, 2014


We forget, I think, of the impact of policies. I should say that politicians forget that... or, sometimes (most times), do not consider the Unintended Consequences of the laws they pass. I am writing today about the impact on my life resulting from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), aka "Obamacare."

It took some time but it finally trickled down to me. I recently learned that I must use what is being called a "private insurance exchange" to purchase my supplemental Medicare insurance. As you may know, Medicare covers some of the medical costs one can incur. But doctor visits and presciption medicine is not covered. We must purchase some kind of supplemental coverage to handle these.

Until I reached the vaunted age of 65, my health insurance coverage was provided through my employer. Even after I retired, they provided the coverage. Each year I would be given a few weeks to determine which insurance I wanted from a list the company provided. I would be required to pay some monthly amount to supplement what the company paid. Some years, there were only a few choices; other years, quite a few. And the amount I would pay would vary. After I retired and reached that magic age of Medicare eligibility, I had no choice whatsoever. The year I became eligible, I was automatically covered under the existing coverage company. And the following year, I had only one choice. I learned, however, that I could have purchased any Medicare supplemental insurance.

This has changed. I am now being forced to use this private exchange. I cannot, under penalty of losing Faye's coverage (she's not yet Medicare eligible), go outside the system.

Last year I paid, above and beyond my part B deduction from my SS, $50 per month for my supplemental coverage. The company reimburses me about 90-95% (I am not quite sure how much) of my part B costs. Next year, my cost per month looks to be about $65.

All because of a law that I did not want, desired by a president I did not vote for, and passed by a Senate who did not read it before it passed and did not consider amendments offered by the minority party.

Thanks, folks!