Archive for Politics & Religion

Seven things you don’t care about

[ music | Dido – Me ]

Blame Daniel Glazman, it’s his fault. 😉

  1. Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
  2. Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
  3. Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  4. Let them know they’ve been tagged.

Let the self indulgence begin!

  1. Building on Dan’s medical theme
    • As a child I had some severe migraine headaches. They’d last for days, and I’d just sleep the whole time, but they’d also be accompanied by incredibly high fevers above 105°F. I’m told by doctors it’s a miracle it didn’t cause any brain damage.  I’m told by friends it most certainly did.
    • In 2006 I got to enjoy the agony of gallstones. I mentioned that, and the subsequent removal of said gall bladder. I have a rather high tolerance for pain, you see. My major attack in October had been increasing in discomfort and pain for about 18 hours before I finally went to the ER. I thought it was bad gas or indigestion. This had happened twice before and passed long before it felt this bad. I was crossing the street, and nearly passed out, so I grabbed a cab home and called 911 (I was still caring for my mother at home and wanted her in the ambulance with me so she didn’t worry, here’s why). Turns out I had developed acute pancreatitis and was in shock. Apparently shooting pains throughout your abdomen is a bad sign, and you should get help. Lesson learned!
  2. I used to run a Mozilla news site called Mozilla News. It’s gone now, the domain lapsed, but you can read our old stuff via Internet Archive. I broke some news a time or two that some people weren’t happy about, but over all, I think we did a lot of good for the community. Also, we had the first animated favicon ever.
  3. I was engaged once.
  4. I got to meet and shake hands with Bill Clinton during his 1996 campaign. He came to Pittsburgh in August and had a rally in the Sewall Center at Robert Morris College (now Robert Morris University). Amazing guy.
  5. My first computer was a TRS 80 Model 100 (I had the printer too!). I loved that computer. It was very light and incredibly portable, ran on 4 AA batteries, and had a built in 300 baud modem. Once I bought the modem cable and started checking out local BBSes, my entire world changed forever. I bought a second one, cut off one modular connector and attached alligator clips, and went phreaking. Some of the best times of my life.
  6. About a decade or so ago, I got hit by my own car. I was at a motel and someone tried to steal my car. I heard it start up, ran out, and stood in the middle of the parking lot. He drove right into me, and I rolled up the hood, over the windshield, and off the side. I hurt my back, but no broken bones or cuts.
  7. I’m a published author. I’ve been published in a couple poetry reviews, a technical book, and most recently tech-edited a book for Wiley, HTML, XHTML, and CSS: Your visual blueprint. I’m also about 170+ pages into a novel, but that’s another story. (Get it? Another STORY? Ha-ha! (that one’s for dolske))

So, now I need to harass seven other people about this.

  1. Justin Dolske because he’s a punny guy.
  2. Chris Thomas because he’s a really smart guy.
  3. Josh Soref because he’s a genuinely nice guy.
  4. Jeff Walden because is hard to find.
  5. J. Boriss because I’m still looking for Natasha.
  6. Sean Umphlet who is a good guy and will not give you up nor let you down.
  7. Tim De Pauw who is my favorite waffle (and a good musician).

Fin.

Comments (2)

Remember to vote!

It’s November 4, folks, so it’s time to go out and vote. I don’t care who you vote for, just vote!

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A friendly wager

[ music | XTC Vs. Adam Ant – They Might Be Giants ]

So, I bet tom that within 5 years oil will hit $60-$70 a barrel. He thinks I’m nuts. While he’s not wrong, this isn’t the reason. This article at Portfolio.com is a good read, as is an article Tom found over at The Telegraph stating some very sound reasoning. Namely, the economics of $120/barrel oil is unsustainable in the short term. No, it won’t drop to $70 and stay there, not at current use levels, but right now supply is up, demand is down, and some Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia are about to open the spigot even wider. In short, what’s good for us is good for them, and cheaper oil is good for us. They’ve made it clear they don’t want it at $20/barrel again, but we can live with it at $70/barrel much easier than two or three times that amount.

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An Inconvenient Truth About The Economy

[ music | Nine Inch Nails – Somewhat Damaged ]

A friend linked me to this article and he asked for my opinion. I’m flattered he think my view matters, and he asked me to blog it. In short, I think this guy’s way off base.

First, remember this. When it comes to investments, you haven’t lost, or gained a penny until you cash out. You paid a certain price to buy in, and until you sell, your losses and gains are theoretical because you don’t have the money on the board, you have slips of paper in the company that are worth that much but only if you sell. So unless you sell those slips when they’re worth less than you paid, you haven’t lost anything. That’s why investing is for the long term, and not for the faint of heart.

Also, what the writer there fails to acknowledge is that while the Euro may be a “stronger currency”, it’s very bad for Europe’s economy if people start flooding it with investment cash because that’ll inflate the value of the Euro, making their exports more expensive, and hurting their economy. A little investment at once, or a lot over the long term is good, but a big influx at once causes instability. Additionally, just a few years ago the European economy was stagnant. It took the Euro to bring some balance to the continental economy. And now that all those countries are using one currency, one bank, economic issues in individual countries are harder to address because each country can no longer adjust their own money supply as needed. The US can because the dollar supply is managed by the Fed via interest rates. It can make credit more or less expensive, making it harder or easier to get loans and managing how people use their own capital. The US economy is more flexible for this, and more stable because exactly one country controls the dollar, while dozens of countries are all in cooperation with the Euro. History says European countries don’t tend to agree on any one thing for extended periods of time.

China has SO much invested in the US they can’t AFFORD to pull out. We’re China’s biggest customer, they can’t afford for us to go under either. Note how he values China’s “$1.4 trillion reserves.” Not Yuan, not Euros, but Dollars. The dollar is still the international standard. China has a lot of US debt. There are very few countries who can afford to buy that much debt, so China’s diversification options are limited by who can afford it, and who wants to buy it. If we’re that bad an investment, no one will want it. If they have no shortage of buyers, then we’re not that bad off.

The building boom didn’t start in 2002, it really started back in the early 80s, maybe a little earlier. The real estate market has been in a bubble for 20 years. Donald Trump got bitten by a correction in the early 90s, but even he knows that even in a declining real estate market, there’s money to be made if you invest wisely. The bubble is bursting because people’s bad investments are finally no longer able to ride the coattails of cheap loans and blind faith that everything always appreciates without fail.

Further, it’s not the Fed, it’s Bush’s terrible economic policies finally catching up with us. Huge tax cuts, even bigger spending increases, a bad war… The deficit is more than double what it was when Clinton took office, and Bush’s spending exceeds even Reagan’s excessive deficit-laden budgets. At least Reagan knew that eventually all that debt had to be paid off. Bush doesn’t seem to know that, or maybe he just doesn’t care.

And it was Greenspan’s fault that the real estate market didn’t correct several years ago, during the dot com crash he dropped rates too much to keep people from feeling too much pain. That was a correction, too many people buying into thin business plans based on selling a $5 of dog food via the internet but forgetting people won’t pay $20 to ship that dog food when they can get the bag for the same price at the grocery store. He kept dropping rates too far too fast. That just allowed people to take their bad dotcom investments and shift them into bad real estate investments on borrowed money.

This is another correction. The entire world economy is an interdependent system. The system is very complex. No single player makes all the decisions, no single player can go down the tubes without causing a world of pain for the other players. Everyone feels some pain sometimes. Right now, this is out time to feel the pain. Ten years ago it was Japan. Ten years from now it might be China or India or Europe. It happens. The only way to survive it is to remain calm. We’re all in this together.

Comments (4)

USPS now another tendril of DHS…

[ music | Radiohead – Karma Police ]

When I checked my Post Office Box on Monday, I found a lovely photocopied letter amongst my mail. This is a large scan of the letter, and this is a smaller scan. The only edit I performed was to erase my PO Box number that had been hand written above where it says “ID only”. The “ID only” part was also handwritten, but is part of the photocopy, while my individual copy had my number written on it. I’ve also retyped the letter in it’s entirety letter for letter below so you can more easily read it.

Notice how this starts out as asking you for identification. That seems reasonable enough. However, when you read the entire document, you see it’s not really interested in your identity, it’s interested in your physical address. It’s quite specific about what they will accept as ID also, excluding documents many of us would reach for first. I asked the desk clerk about it, airing my dissatisfaction, and she said it’s all related to the PATRIOT Act, saying they all have to “jump through lots of silly hoops since 9/11.” Once again, the PATRIOT Act is being used as a crowbar for the gov’t to pry further into our lives. If a terrorist is using a post office box for illegal purposes, that alone is more than enough for USPS Investigators to be called in, and even to bring in the Feds. Further, if these “evildoers” need to be tracked to their base camp, asking them isn’t likely to provide truthful results. If these guys can get fake IDs and visas and whatnot, they can use those fake documents to fake out the USPS.

This is nothing but further encroachment of legitimate citizens’ rights that does nothing to stop terrorism or illegal activities whatsoever. I can’t imagine that this kind of security theater makes anyone feel safe, and I’m sickened that this kind of crap goes on still.

POST OFFICE BOX CUSTOMER(S)

SUBJECT: UPDATING PO BOX CUSTOMER INFORMATION

Please complete the attached PS Form 1093, application for Post Office Box Service, and return it
to our office. Postal regulations require that the form contain updated and current information. We
are in the process of updating these forms and appreciate your cooperation. The updated PS Form
1093 will need to be submitted in order for us to continue to provide you with Post Office box
service
. We ask that the updated PS Form 1093 be completed and returned within 14 days.

Please give the completed form to any window clerk at the post office. We will ask you to show
two types of acceptable identification, one being your photograph
. The identification presented
must be current, must contain sufficient information to confirm that the box holder is who he or
she claims to be, and must show your street address. Acceptable identification includes a valid
drivers license, state personal ID (non-driver’s license), armed forces of government ID, university
or recognized corporation ID, passport, alien registration card, certificate of naturalization, current
lease or mortgage, deed of trust, voter or vehicle registration card, and home or vehicle insurance
policy. Credit cards, social security cards and birth certificates are NOT acceptable forms of
identification
. Each person over the age of 18 that receives mail in the post office box should
accompany you to the post office and show two of these types of ID listed above.

We appreciate your cooperation; and apologize for the inconvenience.

Thank you for letting us meet your mailing needs. If you have questions, please contact the
Postmaster of your local Post Office.

Comments (3)

Fatal Journey

[ music | Nine Inch Nails – Mr. Self Destruct ]

Fatal Journey indeed, it’s killed 6,000 people so far.

Atlanta Bush Crash

The original is here but it may be changed by the time you see it. My copy is not edited

Update:My god, ABC has the same disorder. Maybe it’s TRUE!

Screenshot

Looks like bushes are crashing everywhere.

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Dear Lou Dobbs

[ music | Led Zepplin – Immigrant Song ]

Lou, I have to stand and applaud your appearance on Live From (with my favorite anchor Kyra Phillips). You refused to allow her Maria Elana Salinas to get away with the most common tactics used by people who know they’re on the wrong side if an issue, obfuscation and a shell game with the issue. They speak to the side of an issue. She tried to change the issue about ALL immigration. You, me, and the millions of people like us, are against illegal immigration, that is people crossing the borders contrary to the legal method already in place.

Half of my closest friends were born outside this country, and I can’t imagine how much poorer my life would be without them. But they’re all here legally, and all of us are better for it. But illegal immigrants make a mockery of every single legal immigrant who took the effort to go through the most liberal immigration process in the world. Supporters of illegal immigration want nothing more than to get away with their flouting of our laws because it benefits them. They want the easy way out.

She also tried to make it a racial issue, which is the tactic of the truly desparate. It’s not about race, it’s about the rule of law beign equally applied to EVERYONE. Supporters of illegal immigration want special exemptions from the law, and that goes against the very backbone of our Constitution. That’s the bottom line.

Comments (1)

DHS, ICE protect citizens from… pirated Star Wars?

At a time when terrorists are blowing up bombs all over the planet, and the US is being invaded by millions of illegal immigrants, the Department of Homeland Security and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement is on the job protecting us from… pirated copies of Star Wars workprints. Yes, when our borders are more porous than cheesecloth, when terrorists are trying to hijack planes and kill thousands of Americans at a time, DHS and ICE are there keeping a few kids from seeing bad copies of Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. What’s that? You think I must be joking? I’m afraid not. This is the original DHS press release in PDF format. This apparently an ongoing policy at ICE. Rather than protecting our borders and enforcing immigration law, they’re busy being the movie police. Osama Bin Laden was the best thing to ever happen to George Bush. Bin Laden has given Bush a blank check from the idiotic American public to destroy the country. If a magic genie popped up and gave me the choice between preventing 9/11 or preventing Bush’s election in 2001, right now I’d go back and undo Bush’s election. He’s FAR more dangerous to the US than any terrorist.

Update: It seems there’s ambiguity in my post there. Let me amend it. “But you think Bush actually cares about Star Wars workprints?” No, I think Bush cares about protecting big busness more than the people. He wants to replace the Constitution with an End User License Agreement. You will purchase your rights from USGov Corp for a limited period of time, subject to approval by DHS and your local Identification Verification Center. If you are found in violation of your license, you’ll be sent to a Repatriation Center for whatever training is deemed necessary by the Board of Patriotism Regulation.

Comments (6)

Rick Santorum is a Tool.

I live in Pennsylvania. While we do have a good Democratic governor, Ed Rendell, we sadly got stuck with Rick Santorum. The guy is a tool. I don’t know if he even realizes how much of a puppet he is. First off he hates gays and old people. Elderly Americans don’t deserve Social Security according to the ultra-right wing agenda he’s part of (“hey hey ho ho, Social Security has got to go!” chant Young Republicans); in 2000, he was videoed at a rally saying “Living a quarter of your life on Social Security? I don’t think so!” about raising the minimum age to 70. He equates homosexuality with beastiality and pedophilia. He’s against giving homosexuals the basic civil rights and equality that black Americans fought for 50 years ago (they had to fight the Republicans for their rights too, seems the right doesn’t want anyone different to be seen as people, eh?). And now he’s been bought off by commercial weather bureaus to ban free access to publicly paid-for weather data, such as the NOAA website. And the bill he introduced is so vaguely worded that it’s unclear what exactly would be left.

So, if you’re gay, old, or want to know if it’s raining, Rick Santorum wants to outlaw you. I can’t wait till he turns 60 and comes out of the closet.

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Pope John Paul II Has Died.

Pope John Paul II died about 40 minutes ago. I’ve been watching CNN almost non stop this week, hoping against hope that an 84 year old man with advanced Parkinson’s disease would beat the odds, if just for a while. He’s gone to deliver his message to God in person, now. I’m Catholic, so I doubt I’ll post anything else today or tomorrow. He was elected just about 6 months after I was born. He’s done a lot of great things for the world and the Church. They’re already saying he might well be known as John Paul the Great, in the history books. He deserves it.

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