Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gerald Ford (1913-2006)

God speed, Mr. President, and God bless.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Freedoms

We have, in the American Constitution, various guaranteed freedoms. Two of which are freedom of speech and freedom of association. At least that's how the Supreme Court has decided.

Of course, in the real world, we have people like this: Congressman (R) Virgil Goode.

There are a lot of people clamoring for apologies or his dismissal. As far as I understand, he hasn't broken any laws, so calls for his dismissal are inappropriate. As far as wanting an apology, why? Will an apology make his beliefs change?

As far as I'm concerned, if you want change, elect someone else in 2 years.

Until then, he is free to say almost anything (there are SOME limits) and associate with anyone (again - some limits) that he wishes.

Even if what he says is idiotic and the people he hangs out with are near sighted, bigoted, micro-cephalic neanderthals who have just recently discovered apposable thumbs, and then promptly stuck these new thumbs where the sun don't shine.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Responsibility

I just finished reading Terry Pratchett's new Discworld book, Wintersmith. Ok, I started at dinner, but I tend to read quickly. After finishing, I had a thought, then expanded:

You choose.
Either by action or inaction,
with thought, forethought, or instinct.
Or without.
It might not even be entirely your fault.
But, you are responsible.


I like this one.

Monday, December 04, 2006

IM with my friend Mark

Argh! Too long again!

I've just completed an IM session with a friend from high school. He's in the military in another country (not Iraq or Afghanistan) and has some interesting things to say about Iraq.

First, I want to say I am proud to see how he turned out, and honored to have him as a friend. He's gone through Airborne training and been in the special forces.

He is not thrilled with President Bush and his Iraq policy. However, he said, "Be we [the Army] are soldiers, and we will do what we are ordered to."

But, he went on to say that they are not fighting a standing army. His implication, and I stated it for him, was that they were fighting in Iraq as if they were up against a normal standing army.

"It is a police action. Use the FBI or the CIA."

We are going to be in Iraq for 30 years. That's how long it will take to re-educate the people. Then, we can sit back and watch them "conquer" the reqion with ideas and economics. It worked in Japan.

We need to stop using our troops as police officers. They do not have the training, equipment, or temperment. Our troops are trained to find the enemy and kill them.

Let them do what they are trained for. Let the CIA, FBI, special forces, etc., do all of the intelligence work they are capable of doing.

I think we should stay in Iraq and make good on our promises. I just don't like the way we are doing it.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

So, who decides?

I just caught a short glimps of a re-run of "Designing Women." In it, a news stand just up the street started selling pornographic materials. They had a large poster of a woman in leather and chains as an advertisement. The leader of "Designing Women" took offense and ran over it with her car. Once the newstand owner realized this, he asked, "Who made you the decider of what is inappropriate?" (or something like that).
I though of a response: "The same power that made you the decider of what is appropriate."
So, if someone decides that it is appropriate to display something in my face, such as burning the flag, pornography, or something else that I do not wish to have forced on me, shouldn't I be able to respond to that force? Also, with force?

Just a thought.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Too long - too much stuff

I really should be posting at least twice a week. I'll do that, starting now.
The BIG news - Britney is divorcing Kevin!!!!

Oh what a wonderful world, if that were only so.

The scariest thing on my mind: Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
Fortunately, even though they have a (bare) majority in the Senate, the Democrats need a few more votes to REALLY get anything done there. The Republicans had legislation held back because the Democrats didn't like it, now they can (hopefully) prevent too much damage from being done.

So, looking at the election results, I can make the following claims:
1) Most people see no REAL difference between the parties
2) Most of the differences are on topics that few people care about
3) People are disappointed

Mainly, it's the third item, combined with the first. When the Republicans took "control" of the Congress, people expected changes to be made. They weren't. Republicans had 12 years, and no real changes were made. Like most people, I want to know, "Why?" Here are some excuses:
1) The Democrats threatened to filibuster
2) We didn't have enough votes for a super majority
3) We were all watching the results of the Britney Spears / Keven Federline stuff.

Ok, so I made that last one up.
So what if they threatened to filibuster? Let them. Oh - wait. You all go home at 5pm and continue in the morning. But, why couldn't they extend the session? Let it continue (i.e. don't close) until the Senators of the Democratic Party that were "toeing the party line" got fed up and allowed a vote? I know that Congress is the most prestigious debating society in the world, but when I took a debate (and I admit that it was "only" a high school class), putting my hands over my ears and loudly proclaiming, "I can't hear you! Na Na Na!" wasn't among the approved debating methods.
Change is coming. Finally. The Republican leadership finally pulled their collective heads out of... the sand.

I hope.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Prosecute criminals, FIGHT a war!

This is what I've been talking about!!!!

"Yes. [Saddam] wasn't going to attack us. He would've been isolated there," [Senator] Rockefeller said. "He would have been in control of that country but we wouldn't have depleted our resources preventing us from prosecuting a war on terror which is what this is all about."

We are fighting a war. We need to KILL the enemy, not arrest them.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Omnibus bills are BAD

Bad as in not good, irresponsible, bloated, over written, under powered. And sometimes bad as in evil.


Our legislators like to present these bills as complete solutions to the entire problem. It doesn't work that way.


Our problems have been getting worse and worse as time goes on. They usually don't require national legislative input until a lot of other things have been tried. Omnibus bills attempt to destroy a mountain with a really big cannon.


What we need instead is to do one of two things: rewrite the entire system, or pass a bunch of little bills that make some adjustments.


Let's take Social Security as an example. Two of the ideas that I like are simple tweaks to the system.


  1. Allow people to not receive checks if they don't need them. I'm fairly sure that Warren Buffet doesn't need his Social Security checks. By allowing the richest people to opt out of receiving checks, that frees up a little bit.

  2. Raise the maximum amount. Right now, you only pay Social Security taxes on the first $94,200 (link) - why is that? Why not raise it to $250,000?

These two items might only save 1% each. But, they are small, simple to execute, and easy to debate and pass in Congress.


We get these 2 items, and add another 8 items, then we just increased the social security system by 10%.


Here's another one: Every 3 months, raise the retirement age by 1 month. Do this until the retirement age is 2 years below the average lifespan in this country. It would take time, and people would get their benefits later, but people ar living longer and they are working longer. I've noticed that many elderly (like my parents) want to keep working.


Are these three ideas complete solutions? Of course not. They are tweaks to the system, and they are small and easily digested by people. Lots of changes in a short amount of time scare people and businesses.


These solutions would help a little, and every little bit counts.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I gots a question!

For Secretary Rumsfeld:

Why are our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan acting as police officers?

The main job of the U.S. Military is to look imposing so they don't have to be used. When they are used, their job is to kill people and break things.

So, why are our soldiers acting as police officers and trying to arrest insurgents and terrorists? Shouldn't they be shooting the bastards first?

I know that there is intelligence to be gathered, but the type of "human" debris that go up against our soldiers don't have that information. The intelligence agencies and the Special Forces do a lot of undercover work - they can get the information we need.

But the general troops? Making them into cops just gets them killed.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

It was just a toothache!

A few days after my last post, I developed a toothache in a tooth that I had a root canal done two years ago.

Then it got worse. The toothache was an infection.

I had the tooth pulled on the 25th of July.

Then it got worse. The toothache infection became systemic.

On the 29th, I went into the emergency room at 11pm.

After transferring hospitals on the 30th, I had surgery. I woke up with a breathing tube stuck up my nose and lots of tubes running into my veins delivering such things as morphine for the pain and antibiotics.

The sad part is that morphone doesn't seem to work on me. Fortunately for me, there are other pain killers, and they work fine. Lortab doesn't work either, but Percocet does.

Anyway, I got out of the hospital on the 3rd. Since I have no insurance, I have no idea how I am going to pay for everything.

The good news is that except for some ugly scars on the bottom of my chin, I'm going to be fine.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Expectations of Elected Officials

Haven't posted in a while. I wanted to post at least 3 times per week. Hmm...

On an email list I read, there was a post about Senator Hatch (Utah) taking donations from companies that sell alcohol, tobacco, and do gambling. The poster was saying that Senator Hatch, being LDS, shouldn't take donations from such groups, since the use of their products and services are prohibited by his religion.

That leads me to this posts topic:

When someone is elected, what can / should be expected based on various group membership? (Political party, religious affiliation, etc.)

Political party should, in my opinion, be the biggest contributor to expected behavior / votes. I expect most people to agree with me there.

But the next one, Religious affiliation, is a biggie. Tobacco and alcohol consumption are legal in Utah (with restrictions). Gambling isn't (Utah is one of two states that doesn't even have a lottery). I can see complaints about an elected official receiving money from organizations that sell products or provide services that are illegal in the area that they represent. So, I would expect some sort of chastisement for any elected official in Utah for receiving money from companies that do gambling. Now, if it were an organization that were trying to get legislation passed to allow a lottery, that would be different.

But what about alcohol and tobacco? Senator Hatch, and all other elected officials for that matter, took an oath to represent the people of Utah. Not all people in Utah are LDS. Even if it were, we are a Representative Democracy, not any sort of Theocracy (although there is some argument about us being an Oligarchy, but that is another post). The oath was to follow the law. Since tobacco and alcohol are legal in Utah, there should be no problem with him accepting the money.

But, I would expect that an upstanding member of the LDS Church to do what he could to follow the tenets of his church. Accepting the money from organizations that promote things that are proscribed by his church looks wrong to me. It seems that he is breaking some sort of oath or promise or something. I don't want any elected official to propose legislation that promotes the tenets of their religion just to further their religion, but I wouldn't expect them to be some sort of booster for organizations that go against their religion. This is what it looks like Senator Hatch is doing.

It comes down to this (paraphrased from a plaque in my In-Laws house): If you believe what you believe, why do you do what you do?

So, is there anything legally wrong with Senator Hatch accepting the money? No. But, because of his religious beliefs, I would expect him to reject the donation.

It's not enough to want to replace him as a Senator, but, along with other issues I have with him...

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Calling to be saved

An old joke:

An old and pious woman is on her rooftop during a flood, waiting to be rescued. First, an old man in a canoe comes by and offers to help. She says, "No thank you. God will save me."
Later, a boat comes by and offers help. She says, "No thank you. God will save me."
Later still, a helicopter flies over and offers help. She says, "No thank you. God will save me."
Unfortunately, she dies shortly after that.
At the Pearly Gates she confronts St. Peter. "Why didn't God save me?" she asks.
"Well, according to my records, we sent a canoe, a boat and a helicopter."

People have called out to be saved for a long time. From oppression. From sickness. From Evil. From hunger. From many things that they perceive as wrongs.

Perhaps God has answered. Not in physically relieving suffering, though, but in letting us know how to be saved. Through the teachings of His Prophets and philosophers.

A quick search of my memory and the internet gives me a list: Moses, Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Lao Tse, Zoroaster, and Mahaveera. They, and many others, have promoted ideas and ways for salvation, and there may be more than one, since we have so many to choose from.

I believe that God has already answered our prayers for salvation. We just need to heed the teachings and warnings.

Of course, living according to any of these teachings is difficult. No one said that salvation would be easy, and I expect that it is a difficult task.

But then again, aren't all worthwhile goals supposed to be difficult? We just need to work hard, move forward, and prove that we are willing to sacrifice for a greater goal.

Friday, June 30, 2006

The world is a terrible place

It always has been, and always will be.

Things were different when I was younger.

It always has been, and always will be.

But, I think the alternative is worse :)

The country is changing. Things are different. Some things are better, some are worse.

But, we are civilized people, in most places around the world. We want the world to be better, and in many ways, it is.

We have our ideals - these lofty goals of how things should be. And we mostly work towards these goals.

The problem is that we don't always live up to our ideal. We don't always reach these lofty goals.

Scratch that. The problem isn't that we don't succeed, the problem is that too many people decide to either quit, which is bad enough, or they decide to lower the goals, which is far worse.

The world will be a much better place if we set high and lofty goals, make real attempts to reach them, and fail than if we set low goals and succeed.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

It's the Devil, I tell ya! The Devil!

I guess one of the unwritten rules of running for public office is, "don't say anything that makes you sound like a nut."

But hey, were human, and we all sound like nuts eventually.

I got a chuckle when I read the story from the 3rd Congressional District about John Jacobs comment.

If I were in the 3rd district, I'd still vote for him.

There is evil and good in the world. Certainly there is a lot of grey area that is open for debate, but there are some things that are just good, and others that are just evil.

An example of good would be Mother Theresa. She showed us one of the potentials of humanity. Personally, there is no way I can reach her levels, but I can still see it as a potential goal for me.

Then there is evil. The torturing of soldiers before killing them is one example. Abusing children. Talking on cell phones during a movie.

Ok, perhaps the third one is open to some debate.

I do not know if there is a personal embodiment of evil out there. If there is, I hope the counterpart is alive and well. Recognizing that evil exists is one of the requirements of civilization. Identifying evil things and saying, "this is the line which we will not cross," is what separates us from... well, I don't know what it separates us from, but I don't want to be one of them, whatever they are.

There are people that do evil, and some of them can be rehabilitated. Others must be removed from our society. We have laws and police and ourselves as tools that can identify and deal with these people.

The really scary ones are the people who do not see that evil and good exists. Everything is dependent on a, "certain point of view." For them, by taking the correct point of view, anything - including the most vile and disgusting acts - can be justified and even accepted. These chameleons are difficult to spot because they can "justify" their actions.

They cannot be rehabilitated - at least not many can. They can only be removed from out society. The problem is, how do we find them?

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Wish I had a name like that!

If I lived in Weber County, I would consider voting for her just because of the cool name.

Jan Zogmaister

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Charity

Here in Utah there has been a mild uproar about the state legislature and how they declined funding for low income people for dentistry for a "paltry" 2 million dollars, and yet they approved a 15 million dollar parking garage.

Americans are a charitable people. Actually, I think all human kind is. In particular, Americans contributed $241 Billion in 2003. That's a lot of money.

My question is this: why is government responsible for charity? I don't have any issues with the idea of the government helping out in natural disasters, but does the government have the responsibility to help in day-to-day charities?

I wonder how much of federal and state budgets deal with charities.

And should they?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Farmers mess up illegal immigration!

Well, not the farmers themselves, of course.

I had an interesting and very educational discussion with a friend this last weekend about the illegal immigration issue. He asked me a simple question, "What about the farmers?"

He wasn't talking about the low wage jobs that "no American wants." He was talking about the economics of farming.

As an independent software developer, I can raise and lower my rates whenever I want. Construction companies can do the same. In fact, most businesses can do that. The consumer market is such that some clients might go somewhere else, others (most) will pay the higher fees to stay with the company they are used to. Understandable, really.

But then, we get to the farmers. Or more generally, producers of raw materials such as mineral ore (mining), food and livestock (farming and ranching), and timber (which is more like farming every day) to just name a few.

These businesses can't set their own prices. The prices are what they are on the day they sell them. The products are sold on the commodities markets, and therin lies the problem.

Farmers can't organize to raise prices. This has been tried in Utah and Arizona (and probably other places), and the buyers simply bought from other states. Since the commodities markets are becoming more and more international, not even countries can try to set prices.

So, the farmers can only do one thing to increase profits - lower their cost of production. And to do that, there is only one option: wages.

Of course, we could subsidize the farmers, but that is the last solution I want.

Unfortunately, I don't have any idea how to fix this - yet. It seems that farmers (and other commodity producers) require exceptions that other business don't need.

Any ideas?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Sneakers!

Ok, I'll admit it. I'm cheap.

I don't like to spend much money on sneakers. In fact, $29.95 is about as high as I am comfortable with.

Way back when, in the dark days of yore, when I was in college, I decided to splurge and spend about $80 on a pair of sneakers. I figured that they were "one of the best brands" and at that price, they would last a while.

At that time I was very physically fit. I worked out with weights at least 7 times a week, I took aerobics in the evening, and I was on the JV cheerleading squad, so I was pretty rough on shoes. My normal "cheap" $19.95 shoes would last me about 2 months.

The new shoes? Three months.

Since then, I've never bothered with the expensive name brands. I could buy cheap sneakers 4 or 6 times a year and still outlast 2 pairs of the expensive ones.

Today, I was trying to find what I call "hiking sneakers". Inexpensive, with some ankle support. 2 stores, and none of them had the right kinds in the size I wear. Who's responsible for that?

So, for my scouting trip this weekend, I'll be wearing my normal sneakers, with no ankle support.

Maybe I should find a good pair of shoes and then buy 5 or 6 sets of them and rotate them. Maybe they would last longer.

It'll definitely be cheaper.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

I voted today

Fairly easy. I want to follow the old Chicago Democrat mantra - Vote early, and vote often.

Actually, we have early voting set up with the new electronic voting machines.

First, I was required to supply a picture ID card. Great idea, I said. Does this mean we will require ID cards for all voters? No, just for the early voters.

Well, it's a start.

The machines were laid out in a large room where the voting judges could see everything. If I were inclined to, I would find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to tamper with the machines without someone noticing.

So, that went well. I cast my 3 votes (Sheriff, County Commissioner, and School Bond), and that was it.

Now, if only I could trust them to count the votes correctly.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Bitching about the MSM

MSM is a secret code word that bloggers use to indicate the mainstream media. It shows that we are, "In the know".

I have heard many conservative fold complain about the mainstream media. I've done it myself. But few people are doing anything about it.

People ask, "but what can be done?"

Well, go to other sources for your news. There are hundreds, if not thousands of sites on the internet that report news from all over the political spectrum on all sorts of topics. Go to them. Read the ones you like. Personally, I'm partial to the more conservative ones.

And now, the secret:
BUY PRODUCTS that are advertised on those sites!!

The reason that Fox / CNN / ABC / CBS / NBC / PBS / whoever can give whatever slant to the news they want is because of advertisers. Advertisers pay the salaries of all of those reporters, editors, copyrighters, writers, etc, etc, etc.

The news sources that you like will become more capable if you buy products that are advertised on those sites. The sites can show that advertising there works, and can increase prices, making more profit, and reporting more news the way you want.

Simple, really.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

al-Zarqawi is dead

Score one for the good guys.

For those people who complain about the methods and techniques used to kill terrorists, claiming that we violate the Geneva Conventions and other treaties, I have a little news for you:

Terrorists do not qualify for treatment under the Geneva Convention!

To claim coverage, you must follow certain rules, including:

"the prohibition on deliberately attacking civilians; and the prohibition of certain inhumane weapons. It is a violation of the laws of war to engage in combat without meeting certain requirements, among them the wearing of a distinctive uniform or other easily identifiable badge and the carrying of weapons openly. Impersonating soldiers of the other side by wearing the enemy's uniform and fighting in that uniform is forbidden, as is the taking of hostages." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_war).

The terrorists are not prisoners of war, they are criminals and monsters.  As such, they do not qualify for - nor deserve - the humane treatment reserved for real prisoners of war.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Net Neutrality

There is some big hoopla about the concept of net neutrality.

Why?

It seems that there are sume network providers that want to create a "fast lane" for the internet. Downloads will be faster, videos can be played, etc, etc, etc.

Of course, they will charge for it.

And the problem is???

"But then the poor people won't have the high speed stuff..."

So what? The "poor" have always bought / received things that were less than "top of the line." The people who can afford it buy the best automobiles, the best houses, the best seats in an airplane. Knowing that more money can do that is a great incentive. I hope to do that myself, until then, I drive a Saturn (great cars), have a very modest house, and fly coach.

Why should the internet be different? No one is being denied access - that would be wrong, but the people with the extra cash can get faster transfers.

That's the way it is in a capitalist type society - you want more / better? Prepare to fork over more.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Ishaqi Raid Probe

Ok, the troops were cleared. Great.

There are some important issues with the ALLEGATIONS of misconduct by the U.S. military pretty much anywhere in the world.

1) The accusations are taken seriously
2) The incidents are investigated
3) If the soldiers acted inappropriately, they are punished - even to the point of turning them over to civilian authorities for further punishment (http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/asiapcf/06/01/japan.crime.ap/index.html).

So people like Representative Murtha (i.e. politicians) - shut up until the investigations are completed. They accusations might be true or not, the soldiers might have acted inappropriately, or not, but until the investigations are completed, give the accused the consideration of the phrase, "Innocent until proven guilty." After all, you demand the consideration of your own like Representative William Jefferson (http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2006/5/22/210853.shtml?s=lh) - even though the FBI has video.

6th grade graduations

I just got back from my sons 6th grade graduation a little while ago.

I don't remember ever having one, it's something new. It was interesting, though. The worst part was the metal folding chairs and lack of air conditioning in the auditorium.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Making money with blogs

Interesting. People will buy just about anything, these days. I just signed up for the AdSense, and since I have sooooo many readers, I guess I can retire now and live off of my opinions, thoughts, and observations.

Nah!

First post

Ok, my first post.

If you are reading this, you either need to get a real life, or you are WAY ahead of the curve.

Things I'll blog about:
* Technology
* Software development
* Politics
  * World
  * U.S.
  * Even Utah
* Life in general
* Just about any other thing that pops into my mind.

You are free do disagree, but any followups should be respectful and thoughtful. Otherwize, don't waste the time - mine, yours, or anyone else who happens to wander across this stuff.