Sunday, November 12, 2006

MIG Welding

Learned something new about MIG welding:

* Welding with shielding gas is not practical for windy conditions.

* Flux cleans the metal and keeps it from oxidizing while you're welding.

* Welding with shielding gas keeps your weld from spattering molten metal all over and gives you a cleaner weld.

* Welding with solid core and shielding gas is best for inside work on clean metal.

* Welding with flux core and no shielding gas is good for outside work on unclean metal.

* Welding with flux core and shielding gas is good for inside work on unclean metal.

I'm still not clear on the polarity stuff and the proper gas mixtures for each type of MIG welding.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Powerful Video

I've never had this kind of reaction to a video I saw on the Internet. I got seriously choked, especially up at the picture of the little kid with hands raised in victory. Enjoy it and congratulations if you voted for change!

Blue Wave

What an amazing night last night was. I take back my previous post about Democrats ruining their chances to make any headway this time around. It was better than my wildest expectations. The remaining races are Montana and Virginia. Both of which show the Democratic candidate in the lead with no more precincts left to report results. Best case scenario for republicans is to split the two races and make it a 50/50 senate.

Next comes strategeries for not blowing it in the next two years. My humble proposal:

Civilians (aka non-politicians) need to constantly remind those around them that "government is best when it does least" in response to complaints about "gridlock" in government. To seal the deal Democrats need to keep the right happy by not raising any taxes, working to cut spending (something the Republicans forgot how to do) and reduce the size of government.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Senator George "Macaca" Allen

Unbelievable... There's nothing much I can add to this, so I'll just reprint what Mike Stark (the guy beat up by a couple of Senator George Allen's (R-VA) campaign staffers) wrote. Update: Keep reading to see the published response from the George Allen campaign website as well as a third party rundown from USA Today.

Letter from Mike Stark

The following is a letter to NBC29 from Mike Stark, the man who was tackled for a comment he made at Senator Allen's campaign stop in Charlottesville on Tuesday.

My name is Mike Stark. I am a law student at the University of Virginia, a marine, and a citizen journalist. Earlier today at a public event, I was attempting to ask Senator Allen a question about his sealed divorce record and his arrest in the 1970s, both of which are in the public domain. His people assaulted me, put me in a headlock, and wrestled me to the ground. Video footage is available here, from an NBC affiliate.

I demand that Senator Allen fire the staffers who beat up a constituent attempting to use his constitutional right to petition his government. I also want to know why Senator Allen would want his staffers to assault someone asking questions about matters of public record in the heat of a political campaign. Why are his divorce records sealed? Why was he arrested in the 1970s? And why did his campaign batter me when I asked him about these questions.

George Allen defends his support of the Iraq war by saying that our troops are defending the ideals America stands for. Indeed, he says our troops are defending our very freedom. What kind of country is it when a Senator's constituent is assaulted for asking difficult and uncomfortable questions? What freedoms do we have left? Maybe we need to bring the troops home so that they can fight for freedom at George Allen's campaign events. Demanding accountability should not be an offense worthy of assault.

I will be pressing charges against George Allen and his surrogates later today. George Allen, at any time, could have stopped the fray. All he had to do was say, "This is not how my campaign is run. Take your hands off that man." He could have ignored my questions. Instead he and his thugs chose violence. I spent four years in the Marine Corps. I'll be damned if I'll let my country be taken from me by thugs that are afraid of taking responsibility for themselves.

It just isn't the America I know and love. Somebody needs to take a stand against those that would bully and intimidate their fellow citizens. That stand begins right here, right now.

W. Michael Stark

And now here's the response from the George Allen Campaign:

Allen Campaign Demands Webb Restrain Out of Control Supporter

October 31, 2006
Contact: Press Office

ARLINGTON, VA – At the conclusion of a well attended event in Charlottesville, a Webb supporter wearing an Allen sticker aggressively went after Senator Allen, who was at an event with his wife Susan and Senator Elizabeth Dole, screaming that he answer inappropriate questions.

As the Senator was trying to exit the room with a campaign staffer, the Democrat activist, identified as Mike Stark, pushed the Allen staffer. Later, volunteers restrained him and asked to leave the building when he approached the Senator a second time, asking inappropriate questions.

This was not the first time that Stark, a frequent Daily Kos blogger, has aggressively confronted Senator Allen in front of TV cameras and been removed from the premises by event security. In August, Stark was asked to leave a Holiday Inn by management “after he became combative” while interrupting a press conference with Senator Allen. (Chris Graham, “Webb Supporter Asked to Leave Allen Event after N-Word Question,” Augusta Free Press; August 25, 2006)

Stark has a history of violent outbursts on the Daily Kos, an extreme left-wing website, such as his post “The F*****g Way…Take These RNC F*****s Down”. Daily Kos Link

He also posted his intention last night on his blog, Calling All Wingnuts, which is subtitled “Kickin’ a*s on the lyin’ side: A never-ending battle against stupid, ugly, deceitful and corrupt right-wing water carriers…” in which he wrote in reference to stalking Senator Allen,“So yeah… I miss doing this stuff - it seemed that at least once a month, something would happen that really got the adrenaline flowing… I miss those tasty morsels of victory.” (; Accessed October 31, 2006)

Last, but not least, here's the third party review of the event from USA Today:

USA Today 11/1/2006 10:03 AM ET
Heckler subdued at George Allen event
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A campaign appearance by Sen. George Allen turned physical when a liberal blogger was wrestled to the ground after heckling the senator about his divorce and court records.

Mike Stark, a first-year University of Virginia law student, approached Allen at an event Tuesday in a Charlottesville hotel, loudly asking, "Why did you spit at your first wife, George?" The confrontation was captured by WVIR-TV in Charlottesville.

RAW VIDEO: Blogger put in chokehold, pushed to floor

Three men, all wearing blue Allen lapel stickers, immediately grabbed Stark, put him in a chokehold, dragged him backward and slung him to the carpet outside a meeting room.

Stark said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press: "I am a constituent. I am allowed to ask my U.S. senator questions." He later demanded that Allen fire the staffers who accosted him and threatened to press charges.

In a posting a day before the incident, Stark hinted on his liberal Web log "Calling All Wingnuts" that he would attempt to provoke Allen before the TV cameras.

"I'm also trying to 'Roger and Me' George Allen whenever I can," Stark wrote, referring to director Michael Moore's 1989 documentary in which he repeatedly tried to confront former General Motors' chief executive Roger Smith about the company's downsizing.

Allen's former wife, Anne Waddell, who lives in California, said that she and Allen divorced more than 22 years ago, and that because it was a personal matter they sealed the divorce records. She issued a statement calling Stark's question "a baseless, cheap shot."

According to a news release from Allen's campaign, the incident began when Stark pushed an Allen staffer. "Later, volunteers restrained him and asked to leave the building when he approached the senator a second time, asking inappropriate questions," the release said.

The scuffle wasn't the first time Stark has confronted Allen. In August, Stark similarly approached the senator after a speech at a hotel near Staunton, loudly asking if he had ever used a six-letter epithet against blacks.

That was two weeks after Allen, at a rally, referred to a volunteer for the senator's Democratic opponent as "macaca," which is considered by some to be a racial slur.

Stark said Tuesday that he approached Allen at the same time reporters did after his speech and first asked him about two court summonses issued for Allen in Albemarle County in 1974.

A county court index book reflects that they were issued, but supporting documents that would explain them were destroyed long ago. Allen has said the two offenses were for fishing without a license and too many unpaid parking tickets.

A new statewide poll conducted for CNN showed Allen's Democratic challenger, former Navy Secretary Jim Webb, with a slight lead in the fiercely contested race that could help determine whether the GOP retains control of the Senate.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Pemco Billing

PEMCO is our auto insurance company. Their claims service and rates basically kick butt. I've only had to make one claim, but they were shockingly good. They handled everything very professionally and efficiently. There's another shoe here and it's dropping right about... now. When it comes to paying the monthly bill, they stink with the stench of a thousand rotting camels. You essentially have two options:

1) Pay the full amount at once.
2) Let them take the money out of your account on a monthly basis.

They apparently do not allow you to simply pay on a monthly basis using something like your online billpayer. They only want to play the monthly payment game if they get to take the money for you. Whats even better, if the payment "bounces" even once, they silently stop taking monthly payments and let your policy quietly lapse. Thankfully that didn't happen to us.

To go with option 2, you have to send them a voided check. If you don't have a voided check, you've got to go to your bank and get documentation that you can fax to pemco. Apparently it's not ok to simply give them your routing number and account number over the phone because "we need to verify that it's your account". You see, it's for my security ;) You have to fax or mail in a copy of a voided check. Uggghhhh, I call BS! I don't even have to do that with payroll anymore at my job.

They can very easily take your information over the phone and simply call the bank on your behalf to verify that the account belongs to you. "Oh no, we can't do that because of privacy rules!". Once again I call BS. Credit card companies do it *EVERY* time you have a transaction. It's no longer enough in most cases to simply give a credit card number, they need your "billing address" too so that they can match up all of that information. In the case of the insurance company, they'd simply say to your bank "Hi, we're Pemco, we've got a customer named blah blah blah who lives at blah blah blah who claims to have account number XYZ123, is that correct?" and the bank would say, "Yes" or "No", just like the credit card company.

Ugggh, get with the new millenium PEMCO. It shouldn't be this hard to give you money!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Ask Ms. Dewey

A high school buddy of mine, named John Reid, just lead an effort to launch Ms. Dewey. Our entire lab group had a great time playing with her today. I think the best way to describe Ms. Dewey is to let John do it:

"She's a sassy know-it-all micro site that we've created that serves up some
hilarious video clips to your search queries. She's really smart (she has 3
brains, seriously). You can ask her anything, and she?ll not only know what
your asking, but serve up a snarky (yeh, I said snarky) response."

I personally found that she was oddly accurate with her video clips. She's also got a bunch of easter eggs that were pretty entertaining to stumble upon. I hope a lot of people stumble upon this because it really is a lot of fun to play with!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Solar Cell Efficiency Boost

Interesting approach to boosting solar cell efficiency. In a nutshell, solar cells cannot convert light from the lower end of the spectrum into energy. Some very smart people have figured out how to chemically combine two low energy photons into one high energy photon which can then be used by solar cells to generate electricity. Linked here.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

log4j and UNIX syslog

I couldn't find Java code examples anywhere on how to get log4j to log to Unix syslog. I'm sure they're out there, but I'll be damned if I could find them. I spent a few hours with log4j today and managed to decode what's going on. Here it is in all it's glory:

import org.apache.log4j.Logger;
import org.apache.log4j.SimpleLayout;

class FOO {

public static void main(String args[]) {
FOO foo = new FOO();

public FOO () {
SimpleLayout layout = new SimpleLayout();
SyslogAppender appender = new SyslogAppender(layout, "localhost", SyslogAppender.LOG_DAEMON);
Logger logger = Logger.getRootLogger();
logger.addAppender(appender);"This is just a test");

I'd write more about how cool log4j is, but I'm under a deadline and have to get back to work...

P.S. If this still doesn't work, then you probably forgot to make your syslog daemon listen to a socket....

Thursday, October 05, 2006

2001 Saturn SC2 PCV Valve

I got my oil changed yesterday at one of those Grease Monkey(TM) shops. They're annoying because they always want to upsell you on stuff (and yet I keep going back). This time they wanted to sell me a PCV valve for about $17.00 and an air filter for about $20.00. I know the air filter was about 4 times cheaper if I bought it myself. As for the PCV valve, I'd never changed one out, but from the looks of it, I knew it was pretty cheap to buy. In addition, they had it out in about 30 seconds, so I knew it wasn't hard to replace either.

Today on my way home from work, I stopped into an auto parts (Auto Zone) store to get a PCV valve and an air filter. The PCV valve cost me about $5.00 and the air filter would have cost me about $5.00, but I opted for the snazzy KnR filter that lasts for the lifetime of the car. I got out of there for about $45.00. For my money, I got a new PCV valve and an air filter that will never need to be replaced. If I'd opted for the Grease Monkey(TM) parts, it would have cost me $37, but I'd still have to replace the air filter every 12,000 miles. I figure if I drive my car for 96,000 miles I'll break even on the KnR filter, although I haven't factored in inflation against the potential ROI if I'd bought the cheap filter and simply invested the other $35. If I always bought Grease Monkey(TM) filters, then the KnR filter would pay itself back in about 24,000 miles.

So anyway... Now that I had this PCV valve, I needed to install it. After a bunch of poking around, I found it sitting right next to the oil cap. It was incredibly easy to replace. I just pulled out the old one and plunked in the new one. Didn't even require any tools.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Discretion Advised! No Really!!!

I was going to post the transcript of the online chat that Representative Foley (R-FL) had with that 16 year old congressional page. After getting about 2 pages into it, I was disgusted and decided it wasn't worth the baggage to have it in this blog. What I will say is that it's now becoming clear that GOP leadership knew about this for a very long time and, like the Catholic church, tried to cover it up.

A poster named VannaB summed it up nicely in response to this article: "...isn't the irony so delicious? I mean here's the GOP, party of "family values" and the first line of defense against the so-called "gay agenda" and here's one of their of their important, powerful own, in a Congressional seat they need BAD, and oooopsie he's a pedaphile. You can't write scripts soapier than this."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Same old, same old...

The Democrats had a very unique opportunity this year to take back what was lost in 1994. Unfortunately they have blown it in a colossal way. Instead of spending time saying what they were going to fix, like the Republicans did in 1994 with the Contract with America, they've resorted to vague statements about "real" national security and how much better they are than the scoundrels that are currently in office. If they'd spent 2005 creating a detailed plan with easy to understand bullet points like the Republicans did in 1994, we'd be in for a landslide power shift.

Fortunately though, they haven't hurt their chances. All of the reputable polls show things shaping up to be a 50/50 congress and a 216D - 219R senate. All in all, not too bad, but it could have been a lot better.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Life in Iraq

I've never really understood what life was like in Iraq after the US invasion until now. This article makes me sad...

Friday, September 15, 2006


Overheard in the office today:

P: "It's 4:27am in Tehran (Iran) right now..."
S: "Which year?"


Friday, September 08, 2006

All in one room...

This just in from our friends at the FRC...

Washington Briefing: Value Voters Summit in Washington,
D.C. The speaker line-up matches any national
political/policy convention: Sen. Santorum, Sen. Brownback,
Attorney General Gonzales, Gov. Huckabee, Gov. Romney, Sean
Hannity, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, Bill Bennett, Rep.
Marilyn Musgrave
, and so many more. As news reports
circulate about the values voter it's time to show that we
are a force to be reckoned with...this is not just a
convention, it's a call to ACTION.

(emphasis added by me)

If that concentration of extreme right wing ideology doesn't scare you, I have no idea what will. What's even scarrier is that our current sitting attorney general will be in attendance. While there is nothing illegal about it, it sure does scare the crap out of me...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Bailey and the Trumpet

Today Bailey played his first real note on the Trumpet. It was a low C. He was able to match his tone to mine pretty well.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Rush: Stop Worrying About Your Rights!

These days I pretty much exclusively listen to C89.5 on the radio. They've got a great mix of heart pounding dance music. Lots of fun to listen to. I used to listen to AM talk radio, but finally had to stop because it was adversely affecting my mood. Old habits are hard to break through and about once a week I'm compelled to do the rounds on the AM dial. At the far right of the dial at 1090 is Air America a left wing station. On the far left of the dial is 570 KVI a moderate right wing station. In the middle is 770 KTTH, the ultra conservative right wing wacko station. Only in Seattle would the liberals be on the extreme right, the moderate conservatives on the extreme left and the wackos right smack dab in the middle.

So anway, today I landed on 770 for a while and caught some of the Rush Limbaugh show. It was only about two minutes, but I could have filled about 3 or 4 pages of commentary on the logical falacies he spews. There's definitely a job opportunity for someone well versed in linguistic logic to poke holes in what he says on a daily basis. Something like "Rush Watch" would be a real hit, especially if everything was supported by clear and unambiguos logic (even when it was inconvenient to one side or the other). It would definitely provide lots of fodder to his critics and help people wake up to the BS he's spewing. At worst, it would force him to spend a lot of time watching what he says more carefully and backtracking (more than he usually does) to "clarify" himself. With his gift for speaking, it might actually make him a useful asset to this country! *GASP*

In the 2 minutes I listened to him today, he spaketh this little gem, " need to stop worring about your rights and start worrying about your responsibilities...". He was speaking within the context of this country, "...being at war..." and that it's your responsibility to support the war effort.

Where does one begin with this... It's a free country, I don't *HAVE* to agree with the war, nor do I have to support it. That's not the most important part though. The key is to see that he's trying to separate the concepts of rights and responsibilities. If you care about your rights, you should know that your rights are your responsibility! That's, presumably, why we're at war, because we take our rights seriously enough that we're willing to attack someone who would dare threaten our soverign land.

I do support Rush's right to spew this drivel though. Let the market decide if it's interesting enough to pay him to do it...

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Fry's and Privacy

Bought a couple of flat panel monitors at Fry's today. Normally when you exit the store, the door person checks your receipt to make sure you're not trying to steal stuff. I'd found out a while ago that they really can't do that unless they think you're stealing something. As I left the store, instead of handing over my receipt like a "good citizen", I simply refused to give it over saying, "I don't have to show it to you". The door person looked a bit bemused, and then simply said, "Ok". And that was that. It was a good feeling. It won't change the world, but hopefully more people will start to see this as the invasion of privacy that it is and start to feel more comfortable standing up for their rights.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What really happens when you take your dog or cat to a shelter…Graphic

I found this on Craigslist "Best Of" today. I think it says a lot about the realities of animal shelters and it's worth repeating...

What really happens when you take your dog or cat to a shelter…Graphic
Date: 2006-07-06, 12:15PM PDT

I am posting this (and it is long) because I think our society needs a huge “Wake-up” call. As a shelter manager, I am going to share a little insight with you all...a view from the inside if you will. First off, this is a forum to for adoption and/or rehoming as clearly stated in the rules. All of you breeders/sellers on craigslist should not only be flagged (and I hope the good people on craigslist will continue to do so with blind fury), but you should be made to work in the “back” of an animal shelter for just one day. Maybe if you saw the life drain from a few sad, lost, confused eyes, you would change your mind about breeding and selling to people you don’t even know…that puppy you just sold will most likely end up in my shelter when it’s not a cute little puppy anymore. So how would you feel if you knew that there’s about a 90% chance that dog will never walk out of the shelter it is going to be dumped at? Purebred or not! About 50% of all of the dogs that are “owner surrenders” or “strays”, that come into my shelter are purebred dogs. The most common excuses I hear are; “We are moving and we can’t take our dog (or cat).” Really? Where are you moving too that doesn’t allow pets? Or they say “The dog got bigger than we thought it would”. How big did you think a German Shepherd would get? “We don’t have time for her…”. Really? I work a 10-12 hour day and still have time for my 6 dogs! “She’s tearing up our yard…”. How about making her a part of your family? They always tell me “We just don’t want to have to stress about finding a place for her…we know she’ll get adopted, she’s a good dog”. Odds are your pet won’t get adopted & how stressful do you think being in a shelter is? Well, let me tell you…your pet has 72 hours to find a new family from the moment you drop it off…sometimes a little longer if the shelter isn’t full and your dog manages to stay completely healthy…if it sniffles, it dies. Your pet will be confined to a small run/kennel in a room with about 25 other barking or crying animals. It will have to relieve itself where it eats and sleeps. It will be depressed and it will cry constantly for the family that abandoned it. If your pet is lucky, I will have enough volunteers in that day to take him/her for a walk. If I don’t, your pet won’t get any attention besides having a bowl of food slid under the kennel door and the waste sprayed out of its pen with a high-powered hose. If your dog is big, black or any of the “Bully” breeds (pit bull, rottie, mastiff, etc…) it was pretty much dead when you walked it through the front door. Those dogs just don’t get adopted. If your dog doesn’t get adopted within its 72 hours and the shelter is full, it will be destroyed. If the shelter isn’t full and your dog is good enough, and of a desirable enough breed…it may get a stay of execution…not for long though. Most get very kennel protective after about a week and are destroyed for showing aggression…even the sweetest dogs will turn in this environment. If your pet makes it over all of those hurdles…chances are it will get kennel cough or an upper respiratory infection and will be destroyed because shelters just don’t have the funds to pay for even a $100 treatment. Here’s a little euthanasia 101 for those of you that have never witnessed a perfectly healthy, scared animal being “put-down”. First, your pet will be taken from its kennel on a leash…they always look like they think they are going for a walk…happy, wagging their tails. Until they get to “The Room”, every one of them freaks out and puts on the breaks when we get to the door…it must smell like death or they can feel the sad souls that are left in there, it’s strange, but it happens with every one of them. Your dog or cat will be restrained, held down by 1 or 2 vet techs depending on the size and how freaked out they are. Then a euthanasia tech or a vet will start the process…they will find a vein in the front leg and inject a lethal dose of the “pink stuff”. Hopefully your pet doesn’t panic from being restrained and jerk…I’ve seen the needles tear out of a leg and been covered with the resulting blood and deafened by the yelps and screams. They all don’t just “go to sleep”, sometimes spasm for a while, gasp for air and defecate on themselves. When it all ends, your pets corpse will be stacked like firewood in a large freezer in the back with all of the other animals that were killed…waiting to be picked up like garbage. What happens next? Cremated? Taken to the dump? Rendered into pet food? You’ll never know and it probably won’t even cross your mind…it was just an animal and you can always buy another one right?

I hope that those of you that have read this are bawling your eyes out and can’t get the pictures out of your head…I do everyday on the way home from work. I hate my job, I hate that it exists & I hate that it will always be there unless you people make some changes and realize that the lives you are affecting go much farther than the pets you dump at a shelter. Between 9 and 11 MILLION animals die every year in shelters and only you can stop it. I do my best to save every life I can but rescues are always full, and there are more animals coming in everyday than there are homes.


Hate me or flag me if you want to…the truth hurts and reality is what it is…I just hope I maybe changed one persons mind about breeding their dog, taking their loving pet to a shelter, or buying a dog. I hope that someone will walk into my shelter and say “I saw this thing on craigslist and it made me want adopt”…that would make it all worth it.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Tony Perkins and the FRC

As I mentioned previously, patterns begin to emerge no matter how complex the topic. I just read an interesting article over at The Nation on Tony Perkins. Apparently the golden boy himself has consistently forgotten to mention that he was suspended from his job as a Baton Rouge police officer and subsequently resigned. This wouldn't be so bad, as it happens all the time for a variety of reasons that aren't always that bad. In his case though, he put a lot of officers lives in danger by failing to report to his superiors, a plot by anti-abortion protestors to overrun a barracade and storm an abortion clinic. Even this, in a sick and twisted sort of way, could be excused if Tony Perkins truly felt that he was somehow preserving life by putting others in danger. What's pretty inexcusable is how Tony Perkins conveniently forgets to mentioned the "suspended and later resigned for putting officers lives in danger" when he proudly trumpets that he is a "former police officer for the Baton Rouge police department".

Of lesser consequence is the revelation that Tony Perkins killed his political career by paying $82,500 for David Duke's list of political contributors. For those who don't recall, David Duke is a former KKK member who ran for several political offices and eventually had to serve 15 months in prison for tax evasion.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Stuck CD Blues...

I got the new Bananarama CD today (ok it's a year old). I was looking for their new song "Look On the Floor". Unfortunately the CD now won't eject from my car stereo. To add insult to injury, the version of that song on the CD was different from the one I was looking for. I'm pretty sure the two issues are karmically related somehow ;)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The FRC on Internet Gambling

The hits just keep on coming. Here's the latest from the FRC:

Putting the Bite on Internet Gambling

In an important victory for families, the House of
Representatives yesterday passed the Internet Gambling
Prohibition and Enforcement Act (H.R. 4411). The vote was
a lopsided 317-93.

The first thing I thought of when I saw this, was a quote from the Christian author, C.S. Lewis:

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. "

I truly believe that this legislation is yet another brick in the wall, stealing what precious liberty we have left. It shouldn't be a matter of allowing or disallowing someone from gambling. It should be about empowering individuals and local municipalities to make that decision for themselves. Places like Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada have decided that gambling is ok for them and have arranged their society around it in an organized fashion. Don't like it? Then get away. Go somewhere else. Trust me, there are a lot of people that think like you do and they'd be more than happy to get together and create "gambling free" zones.

Let's put it another way, Jesus saves souls through a willing heart. Legislating morality does not lead to a willing heart anymore than the Inquisition or the crusades lead to widespread furtherance of Christianity. If anything, those events set back the spread of Christianity, and continue to do so to this day. A good Christian speaks the word and leads by example. The FRC, and groups like them, think they can short circuit the process by leveraging legislation rather than trying to leverage The Word.

One of those who voted against it was liberal Rep. Barney
Frank (D-MA) who said: "If you don't like internet gambling,
don't do it." Fortunately, Frank's callous attitude was not
shared by the majority of his own party.

Callous attitude? It's more like the "liberal" Rep. Barney Frank should be praised for attempting to keep the rights with the people where they belong. I'm not arguing whether gambling is right or wrong. Personally, I think you're an idiot if you want to spend more than about $20 a year at a Casino, but it's your right if you want to do it. Why? Because you cannot stop people from being self destructive. If you stop one vice, they'll find another. If the FRC really cared about people destroying their lives with gambling they'd be in the Casinos and anywhere else that vice can be found trying to reach the people with The Word.

When I was learning to be a new father, my own Dad put it this way, "Kids are like balloons. Everytime you squeeze one end, the air just shoots into the other end. Pay attention to your Son and don't let the pressure build up because you cannot simply expect that by suppressing one behavior that it won't come out in some other way."

There's broader recognition of the harms of
gambling to families and communities. I was happy to see
Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the
National Basketball Association, the National Hockey
League, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association
all backing this bill. Forty-eight of 50 state attorneys
general back the bill. I especially want to thank
Congressmen Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) and Jim Leach (R-IA) for
their tireless efforts in behalf of honesty in government
and security for families.

Call me cynical, but I believe that this much agreement, especially among politicians, is unnatural. If everyone agrees, very few people are thinking, and that's dangerous. I'll bet that if you interview each and every one of them, you'd be surprised at the amount of reservation you'd find.

This measure will help block the $12 billion off-shore
gambling industry.

No it won't, and if you believe it will, you show a profound ignorance of how the Internet works.

It should be noted that Jack Abramoff is no longer at
large to stalk the halls of Congress lobbying for the
gambling interests. That surely made a difference.

Oh and don't forget Republican Tom Delay is gone too, one of Jack Abramoff's good buddies.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Another one from the FRC...

Another doozy from our friends at the FRC (Family Research Council).

Taxes Cut, Deficit--not Sky--Falls

Liberals wrung their hands when President Bush first
proposed tax cuts back in 2001. It would ruin the economy
and balloon the deficit, they wailed. Now, we are seeing
the deficit falling rapidly. This year's deficit of $296
billion is 30 percent lower than projected just last
February. That's a $127 billion decline from that February
forecast. Revenues have increased, accounting for 90
percent of the deficit reduction. This is an historic
moment and President Bush is right to call attention to the
success of his pro-growth economic policies.

WOW! This is an amazing example of newspeak. Where do I begin...

First, this nutjob is assigning causality to a taxcut. There's no evidence whatsoever that a taxcut is what stimulated the economy. Big hint, taxcuts do not reduce deficits, tax revenue reduces deficits. It's the same as when you use your credit card less because you have more cash in the bank. The only causal factor that you can possibly imply (and it's still not proven in this case) is that taxcuts stimulate the economy which might lead to increased tax revenue.

Second, perhaps it would be inconvenient to remind the FRC that the Clinton administration managed to eradicate the deficit and had us on the way to paying off the national debt in 14-ish years. Unfortunately, we (once again) have a ballooning national debt that (according to the FRC) is growing slightly slower than projections. Big whoopy, it's still growing and would have stopped growing and would have reversed if it hadn't been for this taxcut.

Third, perhaps the FRC doesn't realize that they are a strong supporter of communism and regimes that do all they can to quash independent religious expression. Just who do they think is buying up all of our debt? If they had half a clue they'd realize that foreign governments like the Chinese are buying it up. The national debit is a lever other governments can use to manipulate the US. Don't believe it? Debt maintenance is now the 3rd highest budgetary priority. At the rate we're going, it won't be long until debt maintenance equals the tax income and we have to start going into debt to pay the debt maintenance. At that point, we're going to have to bow down to a lot of nations in order to get some debt relief.

FRC supported those tax cuts, especially the pro-family
portions of the tax package. Now we see that they are
working to the benefit of all Americans.

Huh? Pro-family? Perhaps this guy failed to see that the taxcut benefited the rich disporportionately. George Bush himself got a taxcut equal to the entire average income of a middle class family, while said average middle class family barely got enough taxcut to cover a few tanks of gas.

Oh but I digress. You say that "we see that they are working to the benefit of all Americans", but you never show us how. You just threw out that goofy statement and unfortunately a lot of your readers are simply going to lap it up like the religious automatons that they are (And yes, I am a Christian. I believe the lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins. I do not, however, use that belief as a cudgel to manipulate others. Jesus said to "Spread the good news", he did not say to manipulate and deceive.).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Water Skiing

I went water skiing for the first time today. I was up and skiing on two skis my first try. After a while I was even swinging back and forth behind the boat and jumping the wake. It got a little dicey when I tried wakeboarding. After 5 tries I simply could not get up on the darn thing. It was even worse when I tried skiing on one ski. The only wipeout I had was when I was on two skis and tried dropping one of them. *BLAM* I hit the water hard :) Aside from drinking more than my fair share of Puget Sound, it was fun. I'd definitely do it again.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Gay: Sin or Not?

I wonder if there are any "seasoned saints" who can answer the following question for me:

If Jesus truly did come to fulfill the law, is it worse to be gay and love Jesus as your lord and savior or is it better to be straight and not recognize Jesus as your lord and savior?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Car Accident

Got read-ended yesterday on I-5. Went to see the adjustor today. I'll probably have repairs started tomorrow...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Polls are not Votes...

I'm on the "Family Research Council" e-mailing list. The FRC is a whack-job organization that was foaming at the mouth with enthusiasm when Bush threw in his election year support for the gay marriage amendment. I get their emails once per day. Usually they're pretty entertaining. Most of the time they're full of logical contradictions (which most sheeple miss). I credit the philosophy 101 class I took in my senior year of college as well as the inhuman amount of statistics I was compelled to learn, with helping me to be able to pick out the logical inconsistencies in what people say. I used to complain directly to the FRC about the logical inconsistencies in their emails, but I never get a response. Today I'm going to start complaining publicly... I'm Today's FRC "episode" you see the following (with my comments interspersed):

Be leery of public opinion polls on the issue of marriage.

Hmmmm, past FRC "newsletters" love to throw around phrases like "opinion polls consistently show XYZ". Wonder why they're so quick to point out that one should be leery of opinion polls?

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) has pointed out how very
different the polls are from the actual votes. Here are
some typical cases showing what the polls said about
protecting marriage in various states prior to the votes
and how the citizens of those states actually voted.
Arkansas: 64.8% (75%); Georgia: 69% (76%); Kansas: 56%
(79%); Kentucky: 71.6% (75%); Louisiana: 62% (78%);
Michigan: 52% (59%); Montana: 61% (67%); Nevada: 43% (67%);
North Dakota: 53% (73%); Ohio: 48% (62%); Oklahoma: 59%
(76%); and Oregon: 50% (57%). Why such a big difference
between pre-vote polls and the actual votes? It's probably
a combination of two major factors.

Using the equation "(1-poll/vote)*100", Let's show the actual percent difference for each poll and vote:

  • Arkansas: 13.6%
  • Georgia: 9.21%
  • Kansas: 29.11%
  • Kentucky: 4.5%
  • Louisiana: 20.51%
  • Michigan: 11.86%
  • Montana: 9%
  • Nevada: 35.8%
  • North Dakota: 27.4%
  • Ohio: 22.58%
  • Oklahoma: 22.37%
  • Oregon: 12.28%
The average difference was 18.2%. They're right, that's a stastically huge difference, even when you take into account a +/- 3% margin of error. Wonder why such a huge difference? 

Having been in politics for a while I've seen how polling questions can be constructed to obtain the desired outcome. The slanted poll questions no doubt account for some of the difference.  

Ah yes, excellent move. Present your "resume" first, then present your opinion as fact! No one's going to realize that you just passed off an unsubstantiated opinion as fact.  

I've seen how polling questions can be constructed to obtain the desired outcome. The slanted poll questions no doubt account for some of the difference. 
Really!?!?! It's great to see that you've finally come around to this. I wonder if this means you won't be wasting time in the future with polls that you find favorable? 

Secondly, and probably more prominent, is the intimidation factor.  

Is that what you're calling it now? In the real world, it's called "sampling error". That means the people who voted weren't the same ones who participated in the polls.  

Unscrupulous politicians like Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA)...

I'm sure the typical FRC reader will take this at face value, but for those who actually form their own opinions, it's usually helpful to provide a reference to bolster your hyperbole. 

...rant that protecting marriage is "bigotry, pure and simple." It's no such thing, but Kennedy and company want to intimidate people. Some people are fearful of being labeled a homophobe or bigot so they keep their opinions to themselves until they are in the privacy of the voting booth and then on average over 70% defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman.  

Again, slipping in opinion as fact. There are no studies indicated to back this up. Let's put together some of the facts and speculate on what might really be going on. The poll values and the vote value difference indicate that there was a sampling error. This jives with past statements by people like Paul Weyrich that indicates that the fewer people who vote, the more ground the conservatives pick up. Its very possible, although I won't pass it off as fact, that the poll/vote discrepancy is because many of those polled weren't fired up enough to vote. In other words, an issue like gay marriage tends to draw a certain type of voter. Since it's difficult to get off your butt and vote, unless you have a motivation, the vast majority probably aren't going to take the time to vote. On the other hand, pollsters work hard to get an even distribution of likely voters to participate in their polls. The discrepancy was probably because the pollsters did *TOO* good of a job getting an even distribution of what people really think.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Gay Marriage

Soon the president of the United States is going to announce his support for an anti-gay marriage amendment to the US Constitution. Will anyone connect this with the fact that it is an election year?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Network Chat

Almost 19 years ago to the day was the first time I chatted with someone else over a computer. I was 13 years old. We dialed each other up using those goofy old 300 baud phone coupler modems. I learned all sorts of cool stuff about terminal emulation that way.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

My 10th anniversary...

I just realized that it's the tenth anniversary of the very first website I ever put up.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Cold or Flu

I've had a cold or a flu for the last few days (can't tell the difference). It started as a very sore throat and has expanded into a veritable hydra of symptoms. It's a very creative disease, I'll give it that. Yesterday I was sneezing all day. The day before, I couldn't hear out of one ear. Today, my nose has been itching. It's not regular itching though. It's the kind of itch that exists in the untouchable 4th dimension. I can feel the itch, but nothing I do can make it go away. Crinkling my nose seems to work temporarily, but like that 'ole cat that keeps coming back, the itch creeps back in when I'm not looking.

Monday, March 20, 2006

First day of spring...

It's beautiful here today in the great Pacific Northwest, not a cloud in the sky and a balmy 60-ish degrees (Fahrenheit). I wish I was at home with my Son. We'd probably got to the park and play some ball. I'm half tempted to cut and run for the day, pick him up from school early and go play. I guess today's his first day of track practice though and he doesn't want to miss it. Perhaps if tomorrow's nice, I can surprise him by picking him up early from school.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

It's that time of the year again...

Mmmmm, one of my favorite times of the year. No, I'm not talking about Spring. It's girl scout cookie time!!! Woohoo. My favorites are Thin Mints and Samoas. I bought some lemon drops and shortbread cookies, but they weren't as good.

Monday, February 20, 2006

digg - Submit Item

A gentleman named Joe Flynn has come up with a dramatically new type of electric motor. It is NOT a free energy or perpetual motion machine or what have you. It's just a really innovative electric motor design based on a very simple magnetic phenomenon that is resulting in motors that are up to 98% efficient.

read more | digg story

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Jack Abramoff and the Native Americans

I really like this article. It was purposely written in only a few paragraphs to make it easy to understand. It explains what this whole Jack Abramoff furor is all about and how it goes *WAY* up the foodchain. In a nutshell: A lot of native Americans got their trust land taken away in the Dawes act of the late 1800s. The idea was that the government would "rent" out their land to ranchers and mining companies and pay the rent back to the native americans who had rights to the land. The payments never happened, thus the Cobell vs. Norton class action suit. As it turns out most of the records that show how much the government owes have been "lost or destroyed". Thus the lawsuit seeks to open the books of the industries that used the land. Jack Abramoff comes into the picture because he greased a lot of pockets to help the republican lead effort to prevent industry from being accountable.

Aren't the Republicans supposed to be the party of accountability?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Mistaken Identity

I just read an article about a small commuter airline pilot who lost his job because he had the same name as someone on the TSA's no-fly list. It's clearly a case of mistaken identity, as the last paragraph points out that the pilot who lost his job is a white Irish immigrant, while the person on the no-fly list that bears his same name, is hispanic.

As an amateur pilot myself, I can't begin to tell you how frustrating this is to hear. You work very hard for your aviation certifications, in both time and money. In doing so, you gain a profound respect for the decades of work that went in to creating the global aviation system. Then to see it all go away because of the actions of someone who bears the same name is indescribable.

I understand that the no-fly list has a good and noble purpose. I support that purpose whole heartedly. It's just that we are taught, from a very young age, that we are responsible for our own actions. We are also taught that everyone else is responsible for their own actions. For those who don't take their responsibilities seriously, they get removed from areas of society through mechanisms like the no-fly list, jail, probation or good 'ole fashioned "time-outs". It's considered, and rightly so, a profound miscarriage of justice when someone is forced to pay for the crimes of someone else.

I believe that eventually enough people will be wrongly punished by the TSA's misguided efforts, that it will create a critical mass of dissent. The only way to relieve the growing pressure is to install logical checks and balances on their power. Anyone on the no-fly list, should have the right to a speedy appeal to an impartial panel/jury/judge empowered with the ability to remove them (or not) from the no-fly list. Until that happens, pressure is going to continuously build up.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Electronics Stores

I've been looking for some good local electronics shops that are open on the weekend. So far, the best I've found is Vetco Surplus. They've got a pretty good selection along with some quirky stuff that's fun to look at. I've heard there are others, but apparently the market is shifting on these small mom & pop shops.

I used to really like Radio Shack, but they seem to have sold their soul to consumer electronics. Pretty soon they're just going to be YACS (Yet Another Computer Shop). Fry's is pretty much the same. They used to have a great selection of discrete electronics here at the Renton, Washington store. Unfortunately their parts are disgustingly overpriced and the selection has slowly whittled down to nearly nothing.

Places I've been told about, but haven't yet checked out are Radar Electronics and Alphatronix. There's also a neat store in Tacoma called C And C Electronics, but they're only open during the week.

I'd love to see if a superstore type hobby shop is feasable in the Seattle area. It wouldn't just sell discrete electronics, but anything else hobby related. I figure something like that would take at least ten million dollars to open and about 4 or 5 million to keep running for the first few years until it made a profit. Features of the place would be fair prices, knowledgable employees, free workshop and class space, idea workshops and product incubators. It'd also have regular sales and various customer enticements, as well as work very closely with local schools to foster creative ideas. A good starting concept would be Neal Gershenfeld's book FAB. According to a recent interview by Neal on NPR's Science Friday, he's been inundated with people dying to make his vision a reality.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Commercial Irony

Hilarious string of commercials tonight. First a pretty inspirational Weight Watchers commercial. Had great music (I think it's something by Cher) a storyline (as much as a 30 second commercial can develop) and good photography. Just as I'm getting excited about losing weight (TIC), the next commercial comes on for... wait for it... "Rich Dairy Queen" treats... Oh the irony...