Monday, November 29, 2004

We don't need no education

Inspired by the frequent C.S. Lewis references on the all kinds of time blog, I have pulled out some old books of his that I have owned for a while, but never read. Right now I am working through The Abolition of Man. I'm only about 50 pages in, but already I have found quite a bit to ponder, particularly this:

"Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought."

Quite a different view than we have today, I would say. Yet this is exactly what schools ARE doing even as they seek not to, by essentially teaching students that they CANNOT make judgments about most anything, and that value is entirely subjective. Anyway, read the book to see what I'm talking about (it's short!), because I'm certainly not going to say it better than Lewis.

Also, Lewis's skewering of relativism (using many philosophical traditions, incidentally, not merely Christianity - ha ha! Get it?) came to mind as I read this article today as well. John Leo makes some points that I have been trying to make in discussions with friends for weeks. When people say moral values are the number one thing affecting their vote at the polls, I say "No kidding!" EVERYTHING we vote on is based in moral values. If you are for or against "animal rights", that is based on moral values. If you are for or against the war in Iraq, that too comes down to moral values. Believe it or not, your position on taxes comes out of your moral values as well.

Those who resent religiously based arguments often present themselves as rational and scientific, whereas people of faith are dogmatic and emotional. This won't do. As professor Volokh argues, "All of our opinions are ultimately based on unproven and unprovable moral premises." No arguments are privileged because they come from secular people, and none are somehow out of bounds because they come from people of faith.

Firefox review

After about a week of using Firefox, both at home and at work, here are my thoughts.:
- Can't play some of the games on zone.msn.com. Big surprise on a Microsoft site! I think they must have engineers at work specifically to find ways to make the games exclude firefox and other non-IE browsers. They even have a big warning that pops up when you access the site not using Internet Explorer.
- Doesn't seem to work well with roll-over thumbnails (don't know if that is the right term). The example I have is on real estate sites. When looking at a home listing, they often have a row of thumbnail pics of the interior of the house. When you roll your mouse over one, the larger image should be displayed above it. In Firefox, I can't seem to get this to work.
- The aforementioned(see previous post on Firefox) long time to load PDF files. Apparently more a fault of Adobe Reader 6.0 and present somewhat in IE as well. Use the also aforementioned PDF speedup file to help alleviate.
- Still having a couple of problems with handling security certificates on the portal at work. May just be because I don't have settings configured correctly, but nonetheless I am forced to click through a lot of stuff that I didn't have to on IE.
- Sometimes the back button takes me back to the top of the page I left instead of where I was on the page when I left it.
+ WAY fewer pop-up ads then in IE, even when I had Google and Yahoo pop-up blockers. This alone almost makes the switch worth it.
+ Loads most sites faster than IE.
+ Love the tabbed browsing.
+ Actually works better when I check my comcast e-mail through the web before I POP it to my home computer. IE sometimes has trouble with this for some reason.
+ Not susceptible to all the viruses written to exploit security flaws in IE.

So, I'm loving Firefox, but I still keep IE around for a couple of uses.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Conservative Humor

If this site is as routinely funny as the few stories I've read so far, I'll probably add it to my links section.

Doom and gloom

Check out this negative story on the effect Chinese manufacturing, etc., is having the on the US economy.

"There is a myth that the U.S. would remain the knowledge economy and China the sweatshop," says BCG's Hemerling. "Increasingly, this is no longer the case."

Saturday, November 27, 2004

If you don't like that ...

...you don't like NBA basketball!!!

My father-in-law and I just got done watching the Kings beat the Lakers. Any King's win is nice, but beating the Lakers is even sweeter. This weekend has been great because I don't feel like I have a ton of things hanging over my head. It's been so nice to just relax and not worry about all the other things I should be doing. I think tomorrow I might even have time to catch up on some things that have lingered on my to-do list forever, go to the gym, and then do some recreational reading. Big plans!

Friday, November 26, 2004

First Thanksgiving

Due to some unexpected circumstances, instead of my wife and I going up to her parents' house in Oregon for Thanksgiving, they ended up coming down here and having it at our house. We also had over her aunt and uncle and grandmother, and also one of my friends from college who now lives in the Bay Area. Thankfully my wife's mom did all of the cooking, so that wasn't too stressful on us. However, we did have quite an episode with our sink to liven up the pre-Thanksgiving festivities. I gave the ok to put potato peels down the garbage disposal, on the rationale that we had never had any trouble with anything we put down there before. Lesson learned, you can't do that. The sink completely clogged up about 2 hours before everyone else was supposed to arrive. I spent the next 45 minutes trying to plunge the sink to pull back up the potato peels that were clogging it. This was in combination with running our garbage disposal, which usually only seemed to transfer water back and forth between the two parts of the sink. The only drawback being that sometimes when I ran the disposal, a jet of nasty water and bits of food and who knows what would shoot out and get all over the kitchen and/or me. Eventually, I did get a ton of potato peels back up and threw them away, but after a while we deduced I was mostly just cleaning out the pipe that goes between the two parts of the sink, and not removing the clog that must be down in the elbow. Meanwhile, my wife is constantly suggesting that we call a plumber, whereas I am very clear on the fact that we are NOT calling a plumber on Thanksgiving. We'd probably have to take out a second mortgage to afford that. Eventually she and her mother have to take some dishes off to wash them in the bathroom while her father and I regroup at the sink. Apparently there is supposed to be a way to access the pipes to the sink from outside, but when we remove the cap outside, it is sealed off with a plastic piece on the inside, so no luck there. We briefly consider trying to remove the elbow, but didn't figure out a good way to deal with all the standing water that is still in the pipes. These pipes are basically not draining at all! We decide to first try Liquid Plumber gel, before we go too far down the path of actually removing pipes. I bail out all the water I can with a cup, and then we pour all the Liquid Plumber we have down the drain. Then we wait. We can actually see the stuff on the top of the standing water in the drains, so we don't have a lot of hope. However, after about 7 minutes, we hear a single glurp and then everything drains. Hallelujah! I rush off to take a shower and nothing seems to be any worse for the wear, other than the kitchen and I certainly required cleanup, I was much hungrier than usual due to the plunging workout (almost as good as going to the gym!), and I had a headache later from Liquid Plumber fumes, I think.

After that little fiasco, a fun time was had by all and all the food was delicious! My wife's mom had even e-mailed my mom to figure out what I really liked for Thanksgiving and made that. How cool is that? And it tasted just like Mom makes it!


Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Best Buy

A post that has been lingering as a draft for a little while ....

I have to give props to this lady who is waging war on Best Buy. I can identify with that from my battles with the evil Surewest, the company formerly known as Roseville Telephone. Sounds like this lady's experience isn't the only weird thing going on at Best Buy. Check out their new customer strategy. I tried to link to the original story, but it requires a subscription. However, the link I do have has most of the key excerpts included. The basic idea of it is that Best Buy is attempting to get rid of customers who actually look for bargains. Hmm....if you don't want people to take advantage of bargains, don't offer them! I'm struggling with this idea a little. I understand wanting to get rid of people who are gaming the system, like people who buy something and return it and then attempt to buy it again now at an open-box price. But if you have a price-match guarantee, don't be shocked when somebody uses it! Are they hoping all their customers are rich morons? It's been my experience that the two don't often go together, at least not for very long. I guess if a fool and his money are soon parted, Best Buy is hoping to be the one that makes it happen. Ok, did a little web research, and a discussion board on slashdot(you've got to wade through a lot of useless posts on here to find anything good) helped me understand a little more. There are a few more customer abuses that Best Buy might legitimately be trying to avoid. However, there is no way that 20% of their customer base engages in these practices, so I have to think that they are actively seeking to get rid of more than just the 1-5% of people who actually engage in unethical/wasteful behavior and are really trying to force out bargain hunters.

I guess this would make me think twice about owning Best Buy stock. The move seems designed to try to excite shareholders - "Hey, we're getting rid of our worst customers and we're going to get our best customers to spend more!", but the truth is that angering a large portion of your customer base, especially the bargain hunters who are likely to be very vocal as well, is a terrible strategy and they are entering a minefield. In a year or two, I guess we'll see who is right, me or them, and if my Forbes subscription is accomplishing anything in helping me understand the business world.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Monday, November 22, 2004


mmmm...burgers Posted by Hello

For those of you who have been wondering about this pic, check out the story here.

Speed limits going down in Roseville

And they aren't just lowering the speed limits a little bit either! And not just on a couple of roads. Check out the story here. Check out the table of all the affected roads here. Some of these make lots of sense, like Galleria is definitely a little out of control. But Foothills north of Pleasant Grove? That's normally empty. Basically only us HPers drive on there and I can't see any justification for lowering it. Has even one speed-related accident occurred on this section of Foothills? Grrr.

I'm also a little annoyed by this phrase from the Yahoo story. " Last year there were seven fatal accidents in Roseville. There have been three so far this year." Since this year is practically over, it would appear fatal accidents are actually decreasing! How is that justification for lowering the speed limits?

Like I said, I'm all for lowering the limits in a few places where it makes sense due to increased traffic volume and difficult driving patterns. I already mentioned Galleria in front of the mall, where people do a lot of weird lane changes, etc. However, I don't see how this meant the limit on just about every street in Roseville needed to be lowered.

PDF Speedup

Here's a program you might find useful. I was checking out the web to see if anyone else had problems in Firefox with pdfs opening slowly. Indeed they did. One guy recommended this program, which should actually speed up opening pdfs in IE as well. Adobe for some reason loads 4581 different plug-ins when you open a pdf file in a browser. This app gets rid of most of those that are complete useless. It also lets you manually control it if you decide you need a particular one later. Give it a try and let me know. I'll be rating this one on CNET after I have a couple of days to check it out. So far all five reviews on there are very positive.

Close-minded

I have recently been noting in many conversations the irony of how liberals invariably accuse conservatives of being close-minded and insular, yet fail to see that the description often better applies to them. Witness these two consecutive columns from my favorite liberal, Ted Rall. In the first, Ted goes on and on about how 85% of New Yorkers voted for Kerry and how the rest of the country should follow its example, since it was the city actually attacked by terrorists (I don't want to get sidetracked by the horrifyingly bad logic employed there). Sample - "Some New Yorkers, reported the New York Times, said they didn't even know any people who had voted for President Bush (In both Manhattan and the Bronx, Mr. Bush received 16.7 percent of the vote.)" In the second column, Rall goes on and on about how stupid Red-staters are, using the example of his (and my) hometown, Dayton, OH. Sample - "My suburb was racially insular, culturally bland and intellectually unstimulating. Its people were knee-jerk conformists." Isn't the irony delicious? The area that has 85% of its people engaged in group-think is open-minded. The area where nobody even knows anyone who voted for Bush is open-minded. However, the state that goes 50-50 in the election is of course insular, unstimulating, and conformist(!). Nice, Rall. Further proof that the man is a total imbecile. If he weren't such a complete buffoon, which would make it a huge waste of my time, I would dedicate a separate blog just to combating Rall's one-man assault on logic and common sense.

All that being said, sometimes liberals do live up to their vaunted reputation for being open-minded. My liberal coworker (my second good friend that has been a Democrat, but the only one who still is!) is reading Thomas Sowell's Basic Economics, and is quite interested in it. That's cool. Sowell is a conservative genius and a professor of economics at Stanford. Check out his columns here. This guy is right up there with Walter Williams, in my opinion. Brilliant! (said in the voice of the Guinness commercials). And back on-topic now - I can respect someone who disagrees with me after understanding both sides of the argument, but nothing annoys me more than when liberals accuse me of being close-minded when I often know their own arguments better than they themselves and they have spent no time understanding my side of the issues.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

New browser

I've installed the new Firefox 1.0 browser at home and at work. I like it so far, particularly its pop-up blocking capability. Far superior to what I had with the Google and Yahoo toolbars. It is also faster for many things, although I found it very slow loading PDF files. Was that just a weird occurrence or has anyone else seen that? The ability to tab your different browser windows is also quite handy. Anyway, I recommend giving it a try. Firefox will import your IE bookmarks, history, etc., upon installation (very small download, approx 4MB) so you are set up to go right away. You might notice a couple of pages are rendered slightly differently than in IE, but I haven't found anything that didn't work.

Here's a review of Firefox on Cnet.com. They gave it an 8.0 out of 10. Pretty good. I just scanned some of the negative reviews, and one indicated you couldn't use Yahoo! games, where I occasionally like to dabble. I just tried it out, and it simply requires you to download a plug-in, and then everything works fine. Hmmm...so much for reviews.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Fun at the office

When we aren't busy trashing each other's cubes, this has been the focus of our non-work energies. Of course, our team has to borrow them from elsewhere right now, so feel free to consult my amazon wishlist to buy me one! You'll really be helping my whole team. I even helpfully selected the cheapest one, since I don't need the fancy LEDs, etc. that you can get. The real bonus is that it's actually sort of an exercise. You can actually feel your arms get tired.

Speaking of Amazon wishlists, I've updated the priorities on there, so you can see which items I want the most.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

"Dining for Dollars"

I've learned a new term for when a person goes out to eat with a group of people, waits until everyone throws in their cash, and then pays with his or her credit card, thus collecting all the cash and avoiding going to the ATM. That's "dining for dollars", courtesy of one of my coworkers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Red/blue

I'm still fascinated with this whole red/blue thing (although getting annoyed with discussion of it on TV). So here's an intriguing link - http://www.dfw.com/mld/dfw/news/opinion/10173005.htm?1c

Super size me

We watched Super Size Me on Friday night. For free, because we and two other couples babysat for our pastor and they already had it out, so we watched after we put their son to bed. The free part was good, as I don't like to pay money for movies that I consider likely political propaganda, especially if that propaganda seems likely to be against my worldview. This would be the reason I have not seen any movies by the supersized Michael Moore, although I now have a coworker willing to lend me a copy of Bowling for Columbine. Feel free to place bets on whether I am more likely to blow out my eardrums and bleed to death or simply just explode upon viewing that movie. Anyway, I digress. Super Size Me turned out to be quite entertaining. As long as nobody views that as a call to action for McDonalds to be held legally responsible for causing obesity, it was fine to watch. It obviously had numerous scientific flaws in his methods as well, since as far as I can tell he performed no exercise at all during the whole month of eating there and at most meals ate way more than even I ever eat (his avg. was 5000 calories/day!). Still an amusing watch, with perhaps the most memorable scene being in the DVD extras where they did an experiment to see what happened to the food as it just sat in glass jars over time. After 10 weeks, all the food was encased in mold and just nasty, except for the McDonald's french fries. They looked as good as new! How about that? Not sure that should be going through the body! It makes me want to recreate the experiment myself just to watch it happen and to make sure they didn't doctor that in the movie with new fries or anything.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

I HATE SEAFOOD

The only tolerable fish is halibut.

Speaking of dead

Has anyone else thought that Dilbert just isn't as funny as it used to be? Your thoughts on why?

Is Friendster dead?

I happened to check out Friendster again recently, only thinking of it because they sent me an e-mail for some reason. I logged in and searched around, and couldn't find anyone who had any sort of activity on their page in the last six months. I guess Friendster is sooooo 2003.

blah

I've been really swamped at work recently, which combined with whatever sickness I had for two weeks has left me drained. Hopefully things will start to turn around now that I hit several deadlines today. Plus I started antibiotics on Monday and started to feel better that night, which has been a huge lift. I so appreciate not having a sore throat that it's hard to describe. I REALLY need to start working out again, but feeling sick and tired (literally!) all the time has just made that pretty much impossible.

With no segue (blogspot didn't have segue in the spellchecker?) whatsoever, I have two big posts coming on two subjects I'm very interested in, but it takes time to do these posts right and thus far I find I only want to do quick hits on my blog - links to stories I find interesting and quick commentary on something that happened to me or in the news. The two topics are outsourcing (a topic I still don't have my position fully fleshed out on) and the election/bitterness/intelligence/geography/whatever. I've been doing a LOT of reading on this recently and I think I would like to work through some of my thoughts on the reasons behind the split - hopefully not the same crap you see on the news every day, and also some thoughts on how intelligent people can be on BOTH sides of the political divide.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Afghan Boomlet

Just highlighting a little good news in Afghanistan.

Monday, November 08, 2004

Why are liberals so angry?

Evidently the fun times of the sixties are over for the liberals. Now they are just angry, crotchety, bitter and grumpy.

Check it out here.
"I have family in Idaho, but I told my wife we're not going to visit them now. It's all Republicans there," said Ron Schmidt, a public relations executive. "We have family in Indiana and I don't want to go there either."

Ridiculous - how small minded is that? I'm conservative and I actually manage to LIVE next to their communist utopia. I'm pretty sure these losers can manage to VISIT the great state of Indiana, especially so they can see family! This is taking it even further than their empty threats to leave the country.

Here would be another example of a liberal tirade, albeit a little funnier. But still with 100% of the bitterness intact!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Not to brag ....

But indeed I did call the election for GWB back in September and never wavered from that opinion, even after the debates and even as the early exit polls were coming in showing Kerry the winner (Just like FL in the last election is what I thought). In fact, my optimism had actually earlier increased when I saw that Australia re-elected John Howard, in the face of much the same media commentary as GWB was facing.

Here's one of my original prognostications. Granted, I was wrong in the fact that I thought George W. Bush would surge ahead in the debates instead of losing ground like he actually did. However, I think this was due more to mistakes in the Bush campaign as to how to handle the debates rather than that Bush was incapable of winning them and putting Kerry away. Although to Kerry's credit, he performed better in them than I thought possible.

And check out the counter at the bottom - we've crossed 1,000 visitors here! Of course, half of those are probably me.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Funny

Bush Expends Political Capital

What is he doing?

That's a question many of you may be asking if you looked at the timing of my first post today, as 9 AM on a Saturday is not a time I am well acquainted with outside the comfy confines of my bed. However, I appear to have recaught the nasty cold I first acquired in Dallas almost two weeks ago, and as such I cannot sleep very well - especially because my throat REALLY HURTS. Plus it leaves me exhausted at the end of the day so I am going to bed very early. I bought Shrek 2 with my wife (using a gift certificate from our wedding) yesterday and we tried to watch it last night, but only made it about halfway through before falling asleep a little after 10. That would make me feel old, but I take solace in knowing that it is due to being sick.

On a totally unrelated note, we also caught a matinee showing of The Incredibles yesterday. I took off work a little early as I have a ton of comp time from the Dallas adventure. Anyway, it was the two of us, one other couple that looked like they were on a date, and approximately 34,012 kids and parents in the theater. None of the kids were actually very poorly behaved, but neither did anyone really sit still. There was a lot of squirming and moving in the audience. It was kind of a different experience for someone who's not used to going to the movies with kids. Nevertheless, I found The Incredibles a very enjoyable movie, despite having to fend off numerous rude comments and laughter from my wife as to how the out-of-shape and retired Mr. Incredible looked like me. Example: at one point in the movie he crams himself into his tiny car to drive home from work and just looks ridiculous. My wife pokes me and says, "That's how you looked in your Corolla!" and then giggles for several minutes.

Pet peeve of the week

I work in a Dilbert-like cubicleville. As such, we receive an astonishingly high number of communications regarding the fact that we need to keep the aisles between the cubes clear in case of emergency, etc. What is even more astonishing is that it appears that most highly educated people have no idea what the difference between an aisle and an isle is! In fact, I don't think I have received an e-mail or seen a sign using the correct word, "aisle", in more than a year.

To combat this rampant grammatical ignorance, I offer up the correct definitions here:

aisle

isle

I think work would be a lot more relaxing if there really were an island between each row of cubes!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Interesting effect of obesity

Yahoo! News - Feds: Obesity Raising Airline Fuel Costs: "Through the 1990s, the average weight of Americans increased by 10 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The extra weight caused airlines to spend $275 million to burn 350 million more gallons of fuel in 2000 just to carry the additional weight of Americans, the federal agency estimated in a recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. "

"The extra fuel burned also had an environmental impact, as an estimated 3.8 million extra tons of carbon dioxide were released into the air, according to the study. "

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Why don't these liberal idiots who threaten to leave the U.S. if Bush wins ever actually leave? Interestingly, I don't think I've ever heard a conservative say the same thing about Kerry.
Hmmm.... and then people wonder why conservatives think they love their country more than liberals. Because we do.

Monday, November 01, 2004

If you are ignorant ...

...please do NOT vote. Contrary to the asinine assertions made by P. Diddy and his Vote or Die! ilk, it is better not to vote than to make uninformed votes.

Clearly it is better not to drive your car, than to drive your car not knowing what you are doing and where you are going. Certainly driving your country (essentially what voting is) is even more important than driving your car. If you have no idea what's going on and what a candidate stands for, and you are voting based on how your parents or your friends voted, or based on one commercial you caught in the middle of a soap opera that made you feel good, then you should stay home and not potentially help ruin the country with your ignorance.

This in no way means I want only people who agree with me to vote, as I certainly know some well-(mis?)informed Democrats.


OpinionJournal - Featured Article

Seriously, ask yourselves these 5 questions to pick a leader and then tell me how you could possibly vote for John Kerry? Actually, just based on the first question, how could you vote for Kerry?