Saturday, November 1, 2008

Get Ready for the Big Dance!

In just a few more days all the political garbage on TV will end and a new President will be elected. I have not held back my beliefs but during the last few months I have been ridiculed for them. I have defended Barack Obama on many occasions as I despise slander or spin and I have been questioned by my friends why I would do such a thing. Many concede that John McCain wouldn't be their first pick but he is better than Obama. My belief is either party brings essentially the same results and we need to really debate the issues rather than repeat what the talking heads on TV tell us. Below is an email chain I had with one of my friends. We thought it humous so I asked if I could post it and he agreed. His name has been changed for his sake.

--Oct 1, 2008--
Hey friend, here are a couple of videos explaining my thinking:
Why I won't vote for McCain: click here
Why I won't vote for Obama (despite the many obvious reasons): click here
Why I don't agree with either party: click here
Why I'm voting for Chuck Baldwin: click here
I have many other reasons but these explain my concerns and thoughts.
--Oct 5, 2008--
Jim, Jim, Jim,…. What am I going to do with you??!! The people who made these videos took 2-5 second clips of parts of sentences (and gaffes) and pieced them together in effort to sway the viewer by smearing McCain or Obama. BTW, I do not see anything wrong with those clips in the McCain video anyway.

Question: You take a test and one of the questions is “What is your favorite ice cream? Write down “A” for Strawberry or “B” for Vanilla.” The answer (either A or B) is worth 75% of the test. You actually PREFER orange flavor ice cream so you write  down “Neither, I want Orange”. Teacher gives you a F.

The lesson here is that although you may prefer Orange, that choice is not available! I probably prefer Orange as well. BUT, if you could do it all over again, it would be best to say to yourself, “Self, I really like Orange BUT strawberry is close to a fruit type of ice cream. Although I am not 100% on board with strawberry, I do believe that by choosing strawberry at least 65% of my taste bud’s goals will be accomplished. Not to mention that Vanilla is not a fruit ice cream flavor at all. So, self, the choice is easy, I don’t want an F so I will choose Strawberry.” Teacher gives you an A. Your friend
--Oct 5, 2008--
friend, friend, friend, that type of thinking is why America is no longer free and is on the path to a socialist nation. Congratulations. You've sold your soul and your freedom for convenience and "security." -Jim

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

'Personhood' Amendment On Colorado Ballot

NPR ran a broadcast about a new item on the Colorado ballots about defining 'personhood'. I'm surprised this amendment hasn't been proposed already. According to the broadcast it said that Colorado was the first state to get enough signatures. Are you serious? How did this of all amendments not get first created (and passed) in the Bible belt?

Regardless, the arguments brought against such an amendment (in my humble opinion) are lame. The many arguments are this would make us rethink all of our laws. Well duh. We've lived with Roe v. Wade for how many years now? I'm sure its bound to have impacted the writing of MANY laws. Regardless of this change the arguments brought against this amendment seem weak. For example, one person said: "what about HOV lanes?" Simple, if the person is occupying a seat then you qualify. Since the baby occupies the same seat as the mother, you don't.

But that was a weak argument. What about something like: "what if you drink without knowing you were pregnant or did something to kill the baby accidentally?" First, it would be hard to prove that drinking or some other action was the direct cause of the death so the case would likely be dismissed but even if it could, is the child not entitled to rights? The argument is the same as "what if I drive at night and hit a pedestrian I didn't see on the road?" It's called manslaughter. Oh no! we can't take responsibility for our actions because remember the baby is a parasite that invaded us first! /sarcasm    

The other argument brought forth is about frozen fertilized eggs. This one would obviously require some more legal work but lets think about this another way. Babies can't think or act for themselves but neither can mentally handicapped people. How do we treat them? We can spin circles around this argument all day but it would take some good work to convince me otherwise.

Lastly, one guy pointed out that it was unconstitutional! What does that even mean? Of coarse it would contradict existing law, that is the whole point! People act like once a law is written it can't be changed (at least not if the law plays to their interest).

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Those Who Don't Learn History Are Doomed to Repeat It

"We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty or profusion and servitude. If we run into such debt, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our calling and our creeds...[we will] have no time to think, no means of calling our miss-managers to account but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers... And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for [another]... till the bulk of society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery... And the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression." -Thomas Jefferson (see full quote and context here). See modern context here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Through My Eyes

A tragic story came to a close recently about a woman who was convicted of microwaving her 1 month old child to death. The woman was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Around the country I’m sure people rejoiced over this woman’s just sentence. What saddens me is the absurdity with our culture today. I cannot see how “pro-choice” is ever a choice. Take this case for example, would this be such a heinous crime if it were committed 1 month earlier when this child was still in its mother’s womb? Perhaps if the child wasn’t microwaved but rather scrambled, suctioned, injected, or had it’s skull crushed, would that make it less heinous? Of course not.

The argument over privacy is ludicrous. Are any crimes ever attempted out in the open? If I murder someone in my house is it just because it’s on private property? No. The only argument then is on a woman’s “right” to her body. This argument too is crazy. How is it we live in a country that says we can’t put drugs in our body or take our own life but we can take the life of another who grows in us? The argument is often presented as the child is an unwanted “parasite.” The woman thus has a right to remove it. How is it we’ve come to think of humans as parasites? I guess the homeless could be thought of as parasites to society, maybe we should free ourselves of them as well?

A problem I have with the Democratic Party in general is that they tend to embrace “pro-choice” as the idea, “we know what is best for others.” (I hope you see the irony in this stance and the Democratic Party's many others). The argument goes that it would be better to not be born at all than be born unloved or unwanted… Tell that to my adopted friends.

Lastly, what about the rare but terrible circumstances of rape or incest? If we follow logic rather than our emotions the answer is obvious. Again, tell that to some of my adopted friends. I don’t know which ones may have such a horrible story but I’m sure they wouldn’t want to know either. What about the woman? Will taking the life of this unwanted child take away her memories of the horrible event? This argument is just a cop-out.

Perhaps only in the event of medical necessity should such a difficult decision ever be made but even many doctors will tell you this is an extremely rare circumstance. To me the choice is obvious. I'm saddened in knowing most abortions are due to people who have no desire to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions. I see this through a moral lens instilled in me by my religious beliefs. Others may see it through their own philosophical moral view. The question now is, can we come to agree as a society if we don’t have an absolute moral reference?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Corporation's Ignorance of Their Consumer Base is Astounding

You would think my title would be something out of an Onion article but sadly it isn’t. I’m dumbfounded at how corporations don’t
understand their consumers. Take for example Business Week’s recent article on Ford. Ford comes up with a vehicle that gets 65mpg (that’s 17mpg more than the Prius) but say they won’t sell in the U.S. because A.) It uses diesel B.) It costs too much to import.

To point out the absurdities in those arguments seems too simple but apparently I need to because Ford thinks their valid. Ok, so diesel costs more than regular gas but the fact it gets that much better gas mileage makes up for it. Ford also believes consumers think diesel is too nasty for Americans. Are you kidding me? The majority of Americans buy a Prius because
their fuel efficient. They don’t care about “going green”, that’s just an added perk, not the other way around.

Lastly (and this one really gets me) they can’t IMPORT it because the engine is made in Britain and costs too much. Uh, why can’t an American company make its own engines by American laborers for American consumers? Maybe it’s the US pension plans they can’t afford… or maybe the U.S. is just living too much off of borrowed time and money all because we make such terrible mistakes.

[Update 9/8] Yea for Chevy for actually listening to their customers. Let's just hope they build a big enough gas tank to ensure motorists don't get stranded between stations.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Screw Innovation, Just Dig Deeper

If you haven't heard, ISPs are blaming bandwidth hogs for your slow internet and their solutions aren't in your best interest. Heaven forbid companies actually try to create solutions that customers actually want rather than find ways to "dig deeper into their pockets". What I don't get is why they don't just run more fiber if bandwidth is the issue. Amazingly one of the telecoms that likes to screw their customers as much as possible realizes this and is at least trying to do something but even this won't satisfy our bandwidth needs in the near future (e.g. streaming HD video & phone). I guess the other option is we just never see these "scifi" technologies. The sad thing is we continue to fall behind the rest of the world and yet we continue to take on the rest of the world like Leeroy Jenkins in thinking we've got it all together.

[Update 9/12] Perfect example. Case and point.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Political Rant #1: Obama says America is "No Longer a Christian Nation"

So I got an email the other day about Obama's statement about how the US is no longer a Christian Nation. We have indeed lost our nation’s identity. I also agree with Obama’s statement. I don’t believe our founding fathers wanted a theocracy, that is to say, a nation governed by one religion (and more specifically one denomination). I do believe they would have desired for this nation to be a nation of Christians (those who strive to follow Jesus’ teachings). The wording is subtle but the implications are great.

The problem I have with Obama political e-mails these days is they spin fear of Obama for his secular beliefs (I agree he calls himself “Christian” but his beliefs align with secular society rather than traditional Christian viewpoints) but our “safe” alternative is a “Christian” (McCain) who wants to continue an ill-gotten war that will continue to bankrupt our economy. I believe our best way to uphold our honor (what little we have left) is in rebuilding Iraq rather than policing the Arab nations and picking fights for more wars (e.g. Iran).

Indeed, it’s a “choose your poison” situation but I would rather go down fighting than be forced to drink the Kool-aid. That’s why I’m not voting for either. Although a vote not for McCain is a vote for Obama I personally feel any real meaningful change will come when we quit buying into the system and start demanding real leaders. This attitude is why I’m so bold in my e-mails and it will only encourage me more in my civil duties… and I’m not alone.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Your Kindergarten Teacher Lied

Yep, that’s right. Back in the day when you did your finger paintings of blue ducks your teacher told you that you could create ANY color just by using the 3 primary colors and guess what? She lied. You can only create the illusion of the colors as this callous text book puts it: “Our nervous system attempts to interpret that (relative intensities of three bands of colors) very limited data to provide our perception of color. This mechanism which we chauvinistically call primary colors is often inaccurate! But it allows for inexpensive color printing and video presentations using as few as three inks or phosphors.” Oh, it gets better. You may have also been told the primary colors are Red, Yellow, & Blue like below:

And you would be correct if you were living in the 1600s when Isacc Newton came up with it. But no, the dude who invented calculus was wrong. The primary colors are Red, Green and Blue. Remember “RGB”?

But the site goes even further to say really you aren’t making colors nor are they even real. They are simply your limited interpretation of them. I’ve yet to find a website that explains the relationship between photons and objects and the resulting wavelength which we interpret as color.
Why bring up all this? Because what may be a beautiful shade of green in my wife’s eye may be a vomit green in mine and science has got my side. And it’s way past my bed time.

Monday, July 14, 2008

It's Offical, America is no longer American

Today Anheuser-Bush sold out to Belgian brewer InBev taking the last American beer giant down. It's just a matter of time before the smaller ones get picked off. The day Samuel Adams sales out will be the day the antichrist returns.

Did You Know? (DYK): Miller is owned by SABMiller based out of South Africa. Coors is owned by Molson Coors Brewing Company based out of Canada.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Only Thing Missing From FireFox

I guess you know by now I'm a fan of Firefox. The whole open source movement is so great. To think people are actually willing to share the awesome things they spend their time and energy on gives me hope that society isn't lost yet. Anyways, as much as I've loved Firefox I must confess I loved IE7's add a new tab button. I thought surely someone has made this add-in for Firefox and sure enough some had. Thanks Kozakura Inko!

Friday, July 11, 2008

ScribeFire + Images = Frustration

So yea, I spent like an hour trying to format and upload those images correctly. I thought it was going to be a piece of cake. The images copied into ScribeFire's text area easy enough but when I clicked to publish it I was prompted for every single image. Next time, I'll be sure to INSERT THE IMAGE FIRST rather than just copy/paste.

Nifty Excel Trick #1: Format Percentages Correctly

I work a lot with Excel and occasionally have to search the web to remember how to do a seemingly simple task. A common problem is when Excel thinks a number you entered as a percent should be multiplied by 100 rather than by .01.

For example, you have several numbers like so:

You want them to be formatted like percents rather than numbers so you hit the thinking that will solve your problem but Excel goofs it up and makes it look like this:

WTF! That's not what you wanted. Why did it do that! If you've got a ton of numbers you aren't excited about having to manually go in and delete all those zeros but wait there is an easier way.
You could insert a column next to the column you want formatted and add a formula (e.g. =A1*.01) like so:

Now it will have it in the right format and you can now hit the % button to make it work:

Copy the formula down by dragging that little black square in your highlighted cell or double click it and "boom goes the dynamite!":

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Wachovia better not sell out

Rumors are Wachovia the 4th largest bank and my bank of choice is looking to sell out. If true, then the housing market has hit even this great giant. I really hope this doesn't come true because AmSouth and Regions was a good example that banks shouldn't merge. I left Regions shortly after their merger and I'm so glad I did. It was like they had chimps managing their IT departments and do you want chimps playing with your money? I didn't think so. Maybe they wouldn't have had so many problems if they hired my company? :-)

UPDATE (7/22): It just keeps getting worse for Wachovia. Looks like the rumors might soon become realty. I'm still hoping they can hold on as I really don't want to change banks again.

UPDATE (9/29): Oh well. I'm just glad they didn't go belly up. Hopefully the integration won't be too painful.

ScribeFire is sooooo cool

I just found out about this sweet Firefox add-in called ScribeFire while surfing. I knew something like this was out there but this will make blogging and sharing my thoughts and findings much easier. If you haven't ditched IE yet for FireFox you really should because you don't know what you are missing.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Why Blog?

Wow. My first entry on my blog. I've been keeping a personal hand written journal for years but have never gotten around to posting stuff on a blog. The reason being, I could not see the use but now that I've embraced web 2.0 I understand why this means of communication is so great. Over my years of surfing the web I've come to find myself reading other people's blogs more than the main stream websites. Mainly because people post stuff that you won't find on the big websites. Microsoft is a good example. As great of a software company as they are everyone will agree that their understanding of users is pretty pathetic. When I upgraded to Office 2007 I wanted to keep 2003 but despite Microsoft's attempt to make it easy there was/is several bugs that users have had to suffer through. Luckily a guy who worked at Microsoft had a personal blog devoted to helping users make the switch.

As an IT guy, political enthusiast (thanks to Ron Paul), economic theorist (thanks to Adam Smith), and religious/philosophical/theologian fan (thanks to many but mostly to John Piper & Ravi Zacharias) I hope to share my thoughts and findings with the rest of the world.