Thursday, November 13, 2008

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

"These are hollow spheres, made of rubberized rocket fuel; when ignited, they propel themselves around at random at high speed, bouncing off the walls and breaking through doors, turning the entire building into an inferno."

Full article here: http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/11/secret-rocket-b.html?happyfunball

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Election news

I know we're all burnt out on the election but I did find this article you should read. We should take time to remember that there are people who made a sacrifice.

This happens to me all the time

How to bounce back from a loss.

Shamelessly ripped off from A Boy and His Computer. "Don't struggle young one, your blood shall replenish me."
Seriously, this guy did fight for this country and I honestly believe he did run for the right reasons so I wish him well.

Friday, September 26, 2008

More about my Mom courtesy of a jealous suitor.

Mothshade sent some fresh one liners over.
The last hot meal I had was Mark’s Mom.
Mark’s Mom – The grit that doesn’t quit.
Mark’s Mom – Smoke ‘er if you’ve got ‘er.
Mark’s Mom – Bust it like Black and Decker.
Mark’s Mom – With a screw-top lid, for your convenience.
Mark’s Mom – Boffin in the coffin.
Mark’s Mom – Dead bang.
Mark’s Mom – Feel the burn.
Mark’s Mom – Made with a shade.
Mark’s Mom – Rock her urn.
Mark’s Mom – Be the next nail in her coffin.
Mark’s Mom – Churn the urn.
Mark’s Mom – Forget six feet – six inches will do fine.
Mark’s Mom – Bed the dead.
Mark’s Mom – Put the take ‘er in undertaker.
Mark’s Mom – Pour some gravy in her grave.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Flying

I love airports after you get past security. I am sitting in a hallway with me feet up writing a blog post on Wi-fi, it's almost as good as home. I'll be away for a few days brushing up on Apple technician training. Keep an eye on MySpace for updates and pictures.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Perhaps the Germans could help them in some way

Read this: French Military Falling Apart

Then as you snicker and laugh follow this link and start to really laugh.

A country has GOT to have priorities. I only wish I weren't so busy crying about the sad state of affairs in my own country to enjoy this.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter

YouTube

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I misunderstood the law; I'll fall in line now.

Why does the president have the power to unilaterally authorize wiretaps of American citizens?

Because he is the president.

http://www.commondreams.org/views06/0102-31.htm

Thursday, September 27, 2007

LOLcats


If you haven't seen this trend on the Internet Google it and amuse yourself for hours. This one is my favorite and if you don't get it you need to watch more Sci-Fi or look it up on Wikipedia.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Where have you been?


It’s been a long summer and I haven’t had much to say. All my usual political frustration has died out because I realize how futile it is to hope for change in this system. I’ve instead focused more on personal development and getting back to making my life better with what I have to work with. To that end I ended up going back to work at Best Buy part time as a “Geek”. The seventy hour work week is soul crushing but it has helped me to realize something important. I am lazy and don’t want to work one hour a week, let alone seven, but if I have to do it I should do something that is more appealing than my regular full-time job.

I hate being a recruiter, so much of the work goes against my own personal ethic and everything else annoys me. Working for Best Buy reminds me that I love technology and making things work. I love playing with computers and teaching smart people who want to learn how to use them. If I can make a living working on computers instead of using people as currency I’m going to do it. Best Buy is certainly not my first choice for long term employment but it is a start.

I am happy to say that it was a long and happy summer with a lot of time to spend with friends. I once again hit Hocking Hills State Park, Patriot’s Landing in NY and my usual July 4th blowout at home. If I am lucky and have the time I plan to learn more about Linux, Vista and technology in general. I really want to more knowledgeable about all technology so I can stay fresh. Recently I have been a little bummed because I felt that I was falling behind the curve. It seemed that every 12 year old with a high-speed connection could punk me and I even recently discovered a virus on my own machine. That’s like a fat doctor who has a 2 pack a day habit.

One last thing; now that my favorite lunch spot has a Wi-Fi connection I plan to update a little more often.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I'm feeling much better now

Recently I have been very busy. This is not the reason I haven’t posted to here; in fact that should create more material for me to post. I have been remiss because I am lazy. Of the Seven Deadly Sins (Envy, Wrath, Pride, Greed, Sloth, Gluttony and Lust) I struggle most with Sloth. Gluttony is a close second but Sloth kicks my ass every time.

A friend who actually updates his blog with interesting material consistently asked how life is going for me. I am more content and happy then I have been in a long time and that leads me to be complacent. I will be working on re-organizing my digital life soon and I hope to have some tips for my readers. (Both you and mom.)

Recently I have been looking into social networking and sharing sites like MySpace, Yahoo 360 and the like and they all share one thing. In order to really get involved you need to have friends. My friends tend to be somewhat like me in that they don’t like to spend time communicating the mundane details of their lives and I have to say, I respect that.

Let’s face it, most of us are fairly boring people. I only barely amuse myself by having a running inner dialogue of favorite lines from movies when I can pair them with events in life. “Put that thing away before you get us all killed!” Having said that did do something interesting again this summer.

I spent 4 days in Hocking Hills camping, hiking, kayaking and having a great time. I doubt there is a heaven but if there is mine looks a LOT like Hocking Hills. This year’s trip was a huge success with lots of friends and it really helped me to unwind. I am hoping to get in two more camping trips this year and if I do that I will consider myself lucky.

With a little luck and fortitude I will update more frequently now that I have some time and don’t forget to ask questions if you want me to comment.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Shame

One of my Pet Peeves is people who send those emails the get forwarded over and over and have no truth whatsoever. It takes all of 2 minutes to check Snopes and verify that boycotting gas on May 15th is stupid and false; little Johnny is not dying of cancer and needs 500,00 get well cards and Bill Gates is NOT going to give you any money no matter how many people you forward this to.
When I made my last posting I checked Snopes for information but did not find any evidence to the contrary and as a result I accepted the story of an 11 year old girl defending herself as true. I have since learned it is not and I'd like to apologize for my error.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Praise the non-specific deity and pass the ammunition.

I’ve got three things for you dear reader. Two involve firearms and the third involves a shocking abuse of authority and now that I think about it, another good reason for firearms.

Statistics show that you are more likely to kill a family member than an intruder with a firearm in the home. That is not the fault of the firearm, it is the fault of the user. Take safety and training classes and make sure everyone in the home does too.

More guns, especially military grade guns means more crime. You simply cannot argue against this point; unless of course you point out that emphasis on personal responsibility and devotion to the defense of your country can be used to override stupidity. I seriously doubt anyone would make the point that knowing your neighbor is armed and trained in firearms use discourages you from acting like an idiot or prevents you from breaking into his home. I would also go so far as to venture a guess that no one could even dream up the argument that the answer to gun crime involves better social pressure on people rather than on legislation on guns.

I fear my government because it is corrupt and the people who protect it abuse their authority. "Great idea," wrote a person posting under the name "soundsgood." "Absolutely hammer everyone (obviously except cops and family) who does 1 m.p.h. over the limit. . . . Let's really give them something to complain about." They feel that they are above the law and that they are “against” us. What happened to “Protect and Serve”? When my government and their Stormtroopers finally decide the Constitution no longer applies to everyone equally they become no more than thugs and when faced with thugs the answer is force. Someone recently pointed out that military force can simply hit me with a cruise missile from offshore. One man or a small group cannot possibly stand up to our government for a prolonged period of time. Just ask insurgents in Iraq.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Chaiman Mao says bend over

China is the wave of the future. You know this because you, or someone you know, has seen their job go to China in the last 15 years or so. For the sake of argument, let’s say you want to go visit your old job in China. To gain entry into China you need a Visa, let’s take a look at what their website has to say about getting a visa.

Number of Entry American Citizens of other countries
Single Entry $50 $30
Double Entry $75 $45
Multiple Entry for 6 Months $100 $60

That’s right folks, just for being an American you get to pay a premium for entry into China. I mean, it’s bad enough they compete unfairly by using labor at near slave rates but they want to continue to milk us. Never forget, they are not ally to us in the modern world, they war on us with economy.

However, let me not rant about those overseas like an isolationist at home. Never forget the enemy here, the corporate suit who makes more in a single day than you made all year BEFORE his 25% bonus. He made the deal with the Chinese because it means he can keep up double digit growth for another five years before it all tanks. He does this because I don’t want to pay more for that new HDTV television or that stupid piece of extruded plastic that I just have to have. He knows I will jump to his competition in a heartbeat for a 5% cost reduction.

This is the core of capitalism but the way to keep capitalism working is to ensure fair competition. The playing field is not level and I am not sure how to fix it other than trying to introduce the feeling of entitlement most Americans have to the Chinese.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

What do you believe?

I found an interesting site that asks questions about your beliefs and tries to help sort out which religions match those beliefs. It’s not a simple “you are a _______” answer and I found the results a bit surprising. If you get a few minutes head on over and let me know what you believe. My results appear below.

1. Secular Humanism (100%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8040_1.html
2. Unitarian Universalism (92%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8041_1.html
3. Theravada Buddhism (80%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8042_1.html
4. Liberal Quakers (77%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8038_1.html
5. Neo-Pagan (76%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8058_1.html
6. Nontheist (74%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8027_1.html
7. Taoism (60%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8059_1.html
8. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (58%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8028_1.html
9. New Age (54%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8055_1.html
10. Mahayana Buddhism (52%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8045_1.html
11. Reform Judaism (47%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8054_1.html
12. Orthodox Quaker (41%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8037_1.html
13. Sikhism (37%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8049_1.html
14. Scientology (32%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8057_1.html
15. New Thought (31%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8056_1.html
16. Jainism (30%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8048_1.html
17. Bahá'í Faith (28%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8051_1.html
18. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (25%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8035_1.html
19. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (23%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8039_1.html
20. Hinduism (22%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8047_1.html
21. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (19%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8029_1.html
22. Seventh Day Adventist (16%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8036_1.html
23. Eastern Orthodox (14%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8033_1.html
24. Islam (14%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8052_1.html
25. Orthodox Judaism (14%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8053_1.html
26. Roman Catholic (14%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8030_1.html
27. Jehovah's Witness (6%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8034_1.html

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

I Blog Therefore I am Irrelevant

It's snowing here and it seems all my friends have the day off work. My boss had me work from home because the weather was so bad. It's not often this part of the country gets a foot and a half of snow in 24 hours. Places in upstate New York get this kind of weather all the time but it makes me realize I should stop laughing at the Southerners who start to cry when they get a 1/2 inch of slush. I am also grateful that I have a warm home and a a happy "hearth" to live in.

I noticed this article some time ago but I wanted time to decide what really upset me about it. Now that I've had time to digest it I find what bothers me most is simply a difference of opinion. I differ from the administration not in the finer points of law but in the broader idea of government. I feel that the real aim of the administration and even of past administrations is to "fix" its citizens or to make them better. The core of early formations of governments tend to be more along the lines of common defense among citizens but over time these systems expand to intrude upon more aspects of everyday life. In my mind it leads to a situation like that in the movie Serenity and then we have to tear it down and start again.

My desire is for liberty, pure and simple. It is my opinion that our current government is a greater danger to liberty than it is a guardian. Sadly, I am in the minority but it is my hope that one day very soon the greater population of the United States of America will want freedom more than a sanitized society, "safety" or the ability to screw with their neighbors.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

So this is 100

I had many plans for this post. A series of important links, deep thoughts about my life, expressions of gratitude for my friends and even some off the wall stuff. Then, out of nowhere I get what may be the most perfect 100th post for any blog anywhere.



















Special thanks to Mothshade!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Some sarcasm included at no cost to you.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Druken Blogging

There are many things that you should not do when drinking. I am pretty sure blogging is one of them but I've decided that I am free to ignore my own common sense. I need the people that read this blog to know that if they hear about a solid tech job in the Youngstown area they need to contact me. You see, my payday was yesterday but I did not get my paycheck until after my bank closed today. Now, I know what you are saying, "Mark, you can deposit your check tomorrow and you'll only be two days late." Normally, I would agree with you but the problem this time is that my check is $350.50 SHORT and the boss says he'll "figure it out soon". This is the same boss that let our insurance lapse almost 2 years ago now and yet still manages to ride me about what work I am doing every day. Now, don't get me wrong, I like having a week of for Christmas and going to Germany but none of that mean spit if I can't afford to buy Christmas gifts for the people I care about or I have a freaking heart attack with no insurance. If I were more secure in my principals I'd quit tomorrow but I am a weak coward that needs the job more than his own pride. Anywho, I'm going to go ahead and try to relax a little. I'll drink some more wine, eat a fine dinner with my wife and contemplate how I can kill the "golden" goose without losing my egg hookup. Again, Mark needs a job and Mom's whoring doesn't provide good insurance. Hook a coward up.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Lost Post

I lost this post while I was in Munich and tried to re-create it but I think I failed. I found it on my iPod and I am posting it here just to have it for future reference.

On my second day in Munich I started off with a solid breakfast here at the hotel. It was more solid than most hotel breakfasts and included some traditional favorites with pretzels and weisswurst. Have I mentioned how much the food here rocks; if you know what you are ordering it always tastes good. The eating establishments all have a very comfortable and relaxed atmosphere that makes you feel like a regular after about 5 minutes.

Our first stop was Castle Nymphenburg, the summer palace for royalty here in Munich. It is far more baroque than I like but it still was very impressive. Since they always clear out the furniture from these places you can’t imagine people living in them but the carvings and paintings really bring home how old (in this case not very) things are. For me the high point was the Gallery of Beauties which holds painted portraits of 36 women of all social classes that King Ludwig found beautiful. I must say that he had some fine taste in women. I’d love to come back in late spring when the gardens are all in bloom and the grounds are more attractive. Did I mention that it was cold and raining, again?

Once we were done there we headed out to see the Concentration camp in Dachau. I am not sure what I expected but I can tell you what I found. I found that it’s one thing to say that prisoners were tortured there; it’s another to see how they were tortured and what equipment was used. Anyone who knows me can testify to my distant emotional state but I moved from room to room and kept getting my heart torn out. The audio tour combined with the written information on the grounds makes for a very long tour. I could have easily spent 6 hours or more and I did not get to see the entire camp. The death still hangs heavy there and you feel it passing through the main gate, passing through the shower rooms and every cell in the prison within the prison. I felt a shameful sense of relief when I left because my feet hurt from walking all day.

Because it is Sunday here many places are closed or will close early. We hit Lowenbrauhaus for a nice dinner before heading out. If you ever come to Munich Lowenbrauhaus is located just off Marienplatz near the Glockenspiel. If you face the Glockenspiel and then head to your right, cross the street, turn right again and head about 50 meters down that sidewalk before turning left. After about another 50 meters it’s on your left and you can’t miss it. They immediately recognized us and gave us our “usual” table and passed the English menus out. I was half expecting a cold shoulder for being an American but everyone has been very friendly so far.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Munich - Part 2

Day 2,

Today we started out early for Castle Nymphenburg, the summer home for Munich royalty. It’s located on a sprawling estate just west of the city. Like most homes turned into museums it’s hard to imagine what the life was like for the people living there. While the carving and artwork was stunning it was devoid of life. The style is overwhelmingly baroque for my tastes but it was still well worth the trip. There are three major areas worth visiting.

The first is the gallery of beauties, 32 portraits of women that King Ludwig found beautiful. They came from all social classes and were painted by a master artist. They are nearly photo quality and the realism is breathtaking. I must confess that King Ludwig’s opinion on beautiful women is dead on. Moving on from there I visited the carriage house and stables where you can see the coaches and sleds that transported royalty. It was all quite ornate and it leads to a porcelain sub-exhibit that is very large. I found myself a little overwhelmed at the somewhat repetitive designs but it was still worth my time and the boss’s money. The final section of the castle is the grounds which include a canal for moving about Munich. I would love to come back in the summer when it’s not raining, cold and dreary to see it.

We had to cut short our visit to make sure we made it to Dachau. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the trip to the camp but I did get an education. I figured that about 3 hours would be more than enough time to see everything but I would suggest leaving 6 or more hours to walk through the exhibits and stories of the survivors. We left when the camp closed only reluctantly and I really wish I had time to go back. I really enjoyed learning more about the camp and the Reich but it was very hard on me emotionally. The knowledge that people were tortured is very different from seeing the equipment used to torture them while standing in the room that witnessed their pain. I felt guilty for the relief I found sitting down on the bus and resting my aching feet.

Day 3

Today the plan was to go to the picturesque Bavarian town of Mittenwald. It’s a shame we ended up on the wrong train going to Berlin. We lost at least 3 hours getting turned around and headed in the right direction. We did finally make it and the trip through the mountains alone was amazing. The town itself is actually very small but densely packed with shops, small eateries and some of the most attractive buildings in Germany.

I did manage to pick up something for the frau here and I sure hope she likes it because returning it will be a bitch. My German continues to improve but it was a bit of a shock using it so much down there. They speak less English there than in Munich but I suppose that if I want Mexicans to speak English in the U.S. I need to speak German in Germany.

Days 4 and 5

We are at the Electronica trade show and my feet are still killing me. I’ve names my blisters Hans and Frans and they plan to pump me, up. To me, this may be the most boring part of Germany but it does give me a chance to refine my pronunciation for German. It also gives me a chance to post this and maybe even some more pictures. As I wrap this up I’d like to mention how incredibly friendly and helpful I have found the people here. I felt invited and appreciated in every shop, restaurant and building I was in. The section below is for listing my complaints about Germany and its people.

This section intentionally left blank.

That’s all folks; I meet one more candidate for dinner tonight and then head home. With luck my flights will be on time, I’ll sleep on the plane and my wife will not have moved me onto the front porch for leaving her behind.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Munich or bust

Leaving home this morning was rough, my wife and I hate to be apart and on a trip this long it is near-impossible to say goodbye. I know sales guys and other types of that like a little time apart but we hate it. I know it affects her more than me but with both suffer mentally and physically when I have to travel.

I made things even worse because she dropped me off at the boss’s place and I had to make another round trip because I brought the wrong shoes with me. When she finally had to drive away I felt like my heart was going with her. All the excitement of traveling to a foreign country and learning German fell away in that heart-breaking moment. I wish more than anything she could have come with me or that I did not have to go.

Once we left for the airport I was amazed at how fast the time went; the hour drive to the airport and hour flight to Washington D.C. seemed to pass in a flash and now I find myself in the lounge of the D.C. airport waiting for my connecting flight that will take me over to Munich. It’s almost depressing to sit here and feel compelled to write about how much I miss home and hearth instead of how excited I am to be traveling.

Once I board flight UA902 for Franz Joseph Strauss airport I imagine I will feel different but I’ve heard nothing makes you feel the distance more than flying over the ocean. Since this is an over night flight I wonder if I will dream I am where I belong or if I will slumber to thoughts of adventure.

The flight over was less annoying that I thought a flight that long would be. We had a strong tail-wind and a good flight crew. There was some turbulence over the middle of the Atlantic and dinner was almost ruined but then I decided to not eat the airline food and dinner was saved. We flew on a 777 and it was the first time I have been on a plane that big. It had the 2X5X2 rows of seats like you see in the movies. I was lucky enough to score a window seat but because it was dark all I got to see was lights when we were over land.

As the flight descended into Munich I was amazed at how pastoral and agricultural the area was. Around a city Like Munich in the U.S. you would see tons of suburbs and McMansions. The airport was very modern and I was quite impressed until the first display screen I saw was the Blue Screen of Death in German. Customs and immigration we easy to breeze though and I sure will be in sharp contrast to returning home.

Once we got into the city via the subway/tram systems I was shocked by how clean and “safe” the city feels. There are more bicycles than cars which makes for a clean and efficient system when paired with a good public transportation system. I was pretty excited about this until I had to walk a few miles in the cold rain. Thank goodness my wife finished repairing my pull-over fleece or I would have been miserable. (Extra kisses for you when I get home sweets.)

We did have some time today to hit a simple German pub and have a drink while eating a quick snack of pretzels, sausage and a spicy mustard that made me fall in love with German food despite the things they call “food” that other countries call “processed meat for dogs”. I am not a beer fan but today I found a German Light Wheat that I would drink again if I can find it. I also enjoyed a glass of semi-sweet white wine before doing some basic tourism around downtown Munich.

We saw the Church of St. Michael and the Glockenspiel (not in motion) and many of the finer architectural highlights of the city. I spent some time learning German before coming over but it seems I wasted my time; by the time I get out, “I don’t speak German well.” they are answering me in bemused English. I think they appreciate my efforts, that or they are laughing at how bad my German really is.

As expected I miss my wife something awful and I often imagine her with me. I’d like to be able to point out some of the things I see to her. It’s also weird how my “types” of people fit in here. Many people I see on the street in a populated area share a surface similarity and that even carries over into there voice and speech. It’s very odd to see my “pinched face girl” or “dorky kid I grew up with” speaking German.

Internet access is spotty so I will try to upload as often as I can and out up a flickr photoset if you want to see some pictures.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Shhh....

Lately I've been noticing how much I try to do at once at work. My boss has been hovering over my shoulder quite a bit and its got me much more aware of what I am doing. In addition to the task at hand I am usually also trying to do what he's asked me to do, answering an IM, listening to CNN, and trying to stifle to overwhelming urge to smack said boss for his recent excess of micromanagement. Then when I come home it's the same kind of juggling with different tasks. Throw in trying to balance the social pressure of friends and family wanting or needing my help and I sometimes feel like I want to be ship wrecked on a deserted isle. At any rate I'd like to try to simplify and streamline things for awhile like I did a months back. It seems like I do this on a recurring cycle. I think that's what getting older is all about, trimming that which is not critical so you have time for the things you have to do; whether you want to or not.

Allow your mind to settle - like the muddy water churned up by a boat, it will soon become clear when undisturbed. - A Thousand Paths to Happiness - David Baird

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Read it.

Liberal or Conservative, Republican or Democrat, Godless Heathen or Lamb of God; read this article and forget what you believe and look at historic precedents here and abroad. Those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it. If you do not want a totalitarian government that strips the individual of their rights then the time to act is now; vote independent, oppose incumbent candidates or run for office yourself. If you do want want the government, the same government that has stripped our rights a little at a time for decades, to become the ideal that demagogues throughout time have fought for; stand up so I have a bigger target.

Article

Thursday, October 12, 2006

If

If it is true, if it happened the way it's written, and if there's supporting evidence then I am appalled and justified in being more afraid of my government than I am of the terrorists they keep ranting about.

The Story

I do note that this seems to be the very definition of a biased publication but that does not mean the story is untrue. I'd also like to note that all charges against Mr. Howards have been dropped which makes me think that the story is fairly accurate as written. If that's the case then I hope Agent Reichle is severely reprimanded for overstepping his authority. The job of the secret service to is protect our leadership from physical harm, not sharp commentary. I could understand the stress of the job leading them to suspect this guy of being nefarious and checking into him but not cuffing him and tossing him in jail for expressing an opinion.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

I can't promise I can avoid annexing France.

I confirmed today that I will be taking a business trip to Germany sometime next month. I am really excited about this because I’ve been learning to speak and read German in my spare time. I’ve kicked up my efforts recently because to the chance to use what I’m learning. I am by no means fluent but by the time I get there I should be able to understand most basic questions posed to me. I will be in Munich for an electronics trade show and whatever side tours I can manage. I am looking forward to the Rathaus-Glockenspiel, the Hofbräuhaus and maybe side trips to Schloss Neuschwanstein and maybe even the town of Dachau. I plan to write a summary and post some pictures here to let you know what the trip was like. Let me know if there’s anything you think I should try to make time for on the trip.

P.S. If there's anything better than the love of a woman I have yet to find it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

On in the win column


Remember this story about a Wiccan soldier that could not have a Wiccan symbol on his grave marker? The state of Nevada not the Veteran’s Administration has decided that his widow can indeed place the symbol on the stone. While I applaud the right thinking and decent actions of the state I would like to point out two things. One, this soldier’s grave should have been marked however his wife saw fit even if it is on Federal ground. I can think of no more totalitarian act than trying to control the last resting place of the fallen. It’s bad enough that our government tries to control every aspect of our lives; they don’t need to control our death. Two, this is not a victory because the federal administration that covers this sort of macabre regulation still has not officially recognized this religion. In theory, the feds could override the state and come in and remove the marker. I am sure there would be protests and legal battles galore but when it comes down to brass tacks it’s all about forcing people, individuals, to fit the mold through coercive threats that can and will be enforced at the point of a gun. While I would not have a problem with this when we are talking about a criminal who is really harming someone; I take umbrage when it is used to establish control of behavior that is simply undesirable. For now, I will put this one in the win column but as far as I am concerned the battle still rages.

My last posting gleaned a few comments but the people I talk to agree about one thing. They do not like our elected officials. I simply cannot find a lot of people who approve of our government. This does not fall along party lines, both conservatives and liberals feel they are being wronged. No one is saying they don’t like democracy or suggesting a new form of government, they just don’t like what the people who hold those positions are doing with the power we gave them. Part of the problem, in my opinion, is that we have moved from a relatively benign and non-interfering government to one that has to have its hands in your pocket, on your shoulder and all over your life. Conservatives want the government to stop people from behaving immorally; liberals want the government to force people to accept things they find offensive or become dependent of the government. The middle ground on this is for everyone to pull back and live their lives more independently. If you find television offensive, don’t watch it. If you don’t like guns, don’t own one. Stop trying to force “your” beliefs on others; except me of course, my belief on not forcing beliefs must be forced on everyone. I think I might be ranting, at this point so I will wrap it up with this. There’s a lot of anger in the country right now and I hope that instead of boiling over and becoming a civil war we can take a deep breath and say that we agree to disagree. If you can’t do that maybe you should remember this; many liberals are in favor of gun control so who do you suppose will be better armed when the shit hits the fan?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Too Many Things All at Once

I read that the number of U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq exceeded the number of civilians killed on September 11, 2001. I make no judgment or profound statement about this but I would like to mention two things. The first is that I sorely feel for the families who have lost the hero who died defending freedom. I sincerely hope that despite the lifetime of grieving they can remember the joy that their lost soldier brought them, the promise of freedom the soldier gave us all and that they can find peace and comfort in their respective belief systems. The second is that we need to be very careful about choosing to send our soldiers into battle. I supported out mission in Afghanistan and I still do. I supported the invasion of Iraq but now I am not sure we should have gone there. Now that we are there I agree that we should not simply pull out, we must finish what we started or the deaths of our soldiers will be in vain. What we need is leadership to bring a lasting peace to Iraq. I am not sure where that leadership will come from and I wish that our current leadership had been able to see that before committing us to Iraq.

Speaking of leadership, I am sorely disappointed. In Ohio we have the opportunity to elect a new governor. Our choices are as follows: A man part of a corrupt and confessedly criminal current administration or a corrupt and dishonest man. Our choices are not exactly what I’d call an ideal situation. I’d rail about the individual men themselves but they are only the symptom, not the disease. We as Americans are content to keep narrowing the field of existing candidates to two terrible choices and force ourselves to pick the lesser of two evils over and over again. It’s time to find a new way; I don’t know if that’s adding new parties (Libertarianism seems mostly not bad), choosing better candidates in the primary or executing corrupt politicians for treason. Possibly it’s a combination of all of the above. I suggest you write me name in for every office I am eligible for according to the state and federal Constitution. Not sure what I am eligible for? May I suggest reading the documents that govern our lives? I am certainly no worse than the official choices and I am certainly going to stand up for individual rights better than any candidate a party can field.

I recently got a new toy, a video iPod and wanted to rip some movies to it for my own personal and non-piracy related issues. Currently I own CD’s and I can simply insert said CD, rip the music off and copy it to my iPod. Surely, it would be just as easy to insert a DVD I own and do the same right? Since you are reading this you must know that that is simply not the case. Once again our elected officials have failed us by passing legislation that makes it illegal to bypass the copy protection on DVD’s that you own. They stood up to the people who put them in office and protected the poor defenseless multi-billon dollar movie industry. “All the best justice and influence money can buy.” should take the place of “In God we trust.” If you are ever interested in copying a non-commercial DVD for iPod or PSP use may I recommend a Google search for “Lenogo”. They make some good software and I am sure that you would never use it to violate the law, right?

I know my regular readers (in so much as they check my page frequently not as in I write often enough to read something new regularly) and I don’t think this applies to any of them. If by chance you are here and I don’t know you I’d like you to take a moment and ask yourself how you are different from Islamic extremists that are such a nettle in our side right now. I am pretty sure you have not committed violent acts against America or we’d know about you by now. That being the case, let’s look at your beliefs. Are you in favor of freedom to do as you will so long as it harms none or should you and the people you agree with impose order on the masses? Does your morality come from a sincere desire to make yourself a better person and avoid harming others or from dogmatic doctrine backed up by a much translated very old book? Do you make decisions based on the very best and most accurate information you can obtain or have you already made up your mind on what you will do in almost any situation? If you choose the second option please do me a favor and die in a fire. If, on the other hand, you like the first option take a look at the world and how it is changing. If you see a way to make it a better place let me know, I’d love to meet people like you.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fun and Projects

The best part of summer is relaxing and forgetting how much you really need to get done. Sadly, this summer has not been a case of being able to do that. I have picked up more than a few side jobs for friends and family while still working at my “real” job. Burning the candle at both ends like this I may trigger my long awaited heart attack. I’d update my blog more often but usually all I have to say sounds like whining about the gradual erosion of civil rights as we slide towards fascism.

On the positive note I am somewhat excited by the plan my wife and I have for our upcoming sixth anniversary. Her cousin invited us up to New York to come camping and enjoy a pig roast. I believe that we should have a great time and my wife’s cousin and her boyfriend are fun to spend time with even if we just sit around and shoot the breeze. Beyond that I am still looking to play a kayaking trip before fall and with luck it won’t be in my flooded basement.

I am considering what do to this winter with my spare time and several projects are on the top of my list. The first and I dare say, most appealing involves embracing Linux and ditching Windows entirely on my desktop machine. I hear I can even install Linux on my iPod and a dead badger. I should also spend some time with my German lessons as I have new CD’s and a kid friendly workbook for people as mentally challenged as I am. My final appealing project is building my new website to bring back the whole Mark’s Mom vibe of the site instead of my all-too-real fears of lost liberty. I doubt the poor fools compelled to read this really care one way or the other about any of these projects but I’d sure like to hear what your winter projects are.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Discrimination and Freedom

Anaximander mentioned a story in his recent flurry of blog postings about a valedictorian being silenced for mentioning Jesus in her speech. He goes on to say that in his opinion the ACLU wouldn’t have objected if it had been a reference to Mohammed or The Buddha. I can not speak for the ACLU but what I can say is this; mentioning a religious figure or adding that your beliefs or faith gave you the strength to succeed falls very clearly into the first amendment protection category for me. Despite an incredibly strong love for the concept of the separation of church and state, I see this as an attack on religion by the state. If she wanted to lead a prayer I might object, but the mere mention of religion does not warrant these actions.

In another case of the state attacking religion I point you here. The government refuses to recognize the Wiccan faith and as such will not put the Wiccan symbol on a soldier’s grave marker. Here is a list of the accepted symbols they will use. What I want to know if who decides one religion is valid and another is not. This issue gets me more than a little hot as my wife is a semi-practicing Wiccan so the discrimination hits home. The main reason I support the separation of church and state is to prevent the inevitable discrimination that would come about. A secondary but more practical reason is that as an agnostic I am not prepared to make a stand on faith and pick one religion over another. If there is a state religion it would almost have to be Christianity and despite a few overly vocal and clearly crazy evangelists the Christians I know seen to be mostly good people. However, the Wiccans, Moslems, Buddhists and Norse God worshipper I know are also good people. So, when presented with a multitude of faiths I take a live and let live approach but it seems America is putting a militant edge in evangelizing Christ, “The lamb of God”. I feel more threatened on a day-to-day basis by Evangelical Christians than extremist Moslems. Religious zealotry is ugly no matter what faith you believe in. If more Christians practiced the gentle and loving faith preached by Christ in the Bible I’ve read, then I think America would be a better place with greater tolerance and more compassion. I know of several people who believe in this way and one couple stands out in my mind as nearly perfect examples of “good people”. I wish the world had more "good people" in it, it might just inspire my faith.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Thank you

As promised I’d like to thank Microsoft, the RIAA, the MPAA and other organizations primarily concerned with piracy and restricting the way I use the music, movies and software I buy. Because they are more concerned with financial gain than making a quality product I’ve discovered and embraced Open Source, Creative Commons and the GPL. I am running Linux at home after being a Windows user for 16 years and despite some challenges I am really having fun. I can install so many quality programs gratis that any limitations Linux has are nudged aside to make room for potential. Ever more restrictive and unreasonable DRM on legitimate purchased CDs have tuned me onto independent artists who will sell me a CD, the MP3s and the lyrics of their music in one package that is less than half of what the recoding industry normally charges. The MPAA’s crusade on people stealing movies while at the same time stealing my time by putting commercials I can’t skip on DVDs I bought makes me so ill I’ve stopped buying their crap.

In short, my eyes have been opened and I can get all the software and entertainment I need for a much lower (or free) price and I don’t get treated like a criminal. If not for corporate America’s insensate greed I might have missed out on this new revolution. Now, don’t mistake me for a Communist, I am very heavily in favor of a free market but it’s a case of charging what the market will bear. I refuse to buy a product that limits how, when and where I can use it when I have an alternative. I’ve saved money, time and sanity by avoiding bloated and annoying DRM laced flotsam released by corporate America. Thank you to the alphabet soup of industry organizations who tell me “no”, keep up the good work and I’ll do my part by evangelizing alternatives to your crappy business model.

Update: This is what I am talking about.
Microsoft calls you a liar every day.
God forbid you get to play our High Def disc and enjoy what you paid for on Open Source