Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball
Full article here: http://blog.wired.com/defense/2008/11/secret-rocket-b.html?happyfunball
Why does the president have the power to unilaterally authorize wiretaps of American citizens?
Because he is the president.
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.
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.
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.
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
2. Unitarian Universalism (92%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
3. Theravada Buddhism (80%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
4. Liberal Quakers (77%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
5. Neo-Pagan (76%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
6. Nontheist (74%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
7. Taoism (60%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
8. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (58%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
9. New Age (54%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
10. Mahayana Buddhism (52%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
11. Reform Judaism (47%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
12. Orthodox Quaker (41%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
13. Sikhism (37%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
14. Scientology (32%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
15. New Thought (31%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
16. Jainism (30%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
17. Bahá'í Faith (28%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
18. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (25%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
19. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (23%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
20. Hinduism (22%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
21. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (19%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
22. Seventh Day Adventist (16%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
23. Eastern Orthodox (14%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
24. Islam (14%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
25. Orthodox Judaism (14%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
26. Roman Catholic (14%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
27. Jehovah's Witness (6%) http://www.beliefnet.com/story
On my second day in
Our first stop was Castle Nymphenburg, the summer palace for royalty here in
Once we were done there we headed out to see the Concentration camp in
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.
Today we started out early for Castle Nymphenburg, the summer home for
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
We had to cut short our visit to make sure we made it to
Today the plan was to go to the picturesque Bavarian town of
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
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
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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.
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
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
As the flight descended into
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
We saw the
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.
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?
I read that the number of
Speaking of leadership, I am sorely disappointed. In
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
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
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.
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
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,
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