Friday, June 27, 2008

Comics, Video Games & Politics

There is one comic I read regularly. It is loosely based on video game addictions. They are all rather entertaining, but occasionally there is a gem. But, as with all things in my life they are gems only to me because of my twisted view of everything (comics included).

This one here was funny because I was under the gun at work to get a project done in an unbelievably short time frame.

The one pictured is humorous for obvious reasons, but it also got me to thinking about politics and freedom.

We have apparently decided that we want the government to help us raise our children. So, all games are "rated". I can't even tell you what the rating system is. I know I've been playing Age of Conan lately and supposedly you are supposed to be over the age of 18 to play it. It has lots of blood, some sexual inferences and nudity. You can also behead your enemies (WOOT)! But, anyway, it's rated.

Video games are rated, TV is rated, movies are rated. Everything is rated. But, what about life? What happens when your sweet little government protected child goes to school and his buddy uses the F word? What happens when his 3rd grade teacher has a wardrobe malfunction? That would have been the happiest moment in my elementary career!

There is a video game called Spore (as shown in the cartoon). You start out your creature as an organism and get to pick various traits. Go to the site for more information. But, the enjoyment of the game stems from freedom. You can create just about anything (millions of combinations).

Who is policing this activity? When your 10 year old (who is addicted to the game), runs across some creature created by some whacky kid in Britain named and striking a bizarre resemblance to "Mr. Happy Penis", who is going to be held responsible for this outrage?

Who do we, as outraged parents, sue? Do we sue the game creator for allowing kids to be too inventive? Do we try and sue the government of Great Britain for not raising their creative kids correctly? Do we go after the kid?

I suspect that this game has a 400 page legal speak document that you have to agree to before you play. They probably had to pay 4 programmers, 10 artists and 3 managers $400k to write the game and 10 lawyers $10 million to write up the contract.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pictures and Libraries

I don't read as much as I wish I did. My spousal unit, who speaks English as a second language, has read more books in the almost three years we have been married than I have read in my entire life. I'm scared to think how far ahead of me she is when I count the Deutsch books she may have read.

So I was reading one of the two blogs I peruse regularly (they should be proud since I am an admittedly lazy reader) and I came across the idea of an anti-library. If my comprehension is correct these are books you own, but for one reason or another have never read.

I don't think I have any. My wife takes me on her weekly shopping expeditions to Half Price Books where she buys her 10 romance books for the week and I idly walk around looking at all the books I'd like to read when I have time.

I mean, I've got books I haven't read, but they are in a short stack underneath my nightstand. I think the majority of them are various Dean Koontz books I bought for a dollar. I started reading his stuff because of the second paragraph of "The Door to December" which I read whilst waiting on my wife at the book store. Hard spikes of cold rain nailed the night to the city. I love stuff like that. I haven't read enough Edgar Allan Poe. I've read "Silence - A Fable" multiple times. You can read it there if you want. My favorite part is one paragraph near the middle:
It was night, and the rain fell; and falling, it was rain, but, having fallen, it was blood. And I stood in the morass among the tall and the rain fell upon my head --and the lilies sighed one unto the other in the solemnity of their desolation.

Maybe I have a thing for rain. I'm reading "The Da Vinci Code" by Dan Brown right now. It's quite good and a fast read.

If you've made it this far and are still curious about the picture. I'm hoping Mr. Sepulchre picks it up and finds a caption. I don't really need one, but I think it's a funny picture.

I was not officially invited to participate in the library game, but I don't follow rules. I'm shamelessly in this for self gratification only.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Blogging via George

I started to write today about the 17 girls getting pregnant up in Massachusetts. I think it's ridiculous that there are news crews out there covering this. I've got a 14 year old daughter and she'd be ecstatic if she heard she was going to be on national television. I pray that she's smart enough not to get pregnant with 16 of her friends to accomplish it. Why do we do this? It's like being hypnotized by a train wreck. The only reason the media covers this BS is because we watch it.
So, I decided to go see if George Carlin had anything to say about the issue. And, in a way, he does.

As I was searching for the above video. I stumbled upon this. It reminded me of someone else's blog.

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin, Blogging Before the Internet

I think I've said before that I don't watch TV. I've never stood in line to get an autograph. I don't have any idols except maybe my dad. The whole idea of worshiping movie stars, rock stars, sports stars, etc. is lost on me.

Occasionally there is one that I wish I could sit down and talk with. It's not an idolization. I don't put them on a pedestal. I think I'd just like to sit down with them for a beer or dinner and a beer.

George Carlin was one such person. I have never watched any of his shows (in its entirety) on TV. I've just heard him speak occasionally at appearances and have heard people talk about him in various settings.

He did something that I enjoy. He made light of serious and sometimes politically charged situations. Like his famous 7 words you can't say skit. He also had a famous sports routine regarding the craziness of baseball and football. It's like he must have sat around and had random and off the wall thoughts on certain subject matter. Where, today, people have the Internet and start blogs to let the world know how crazy they are. He turned it into a comedy routine. He blogged before blogging -- via stand up comedy.

I'll never get to have that beer with Carlin although I suspect he thought a lot like I do and it would have been fun. I would not have asked him to sign anything or have a picture made. I don't do that. But, I bet I would have laughed more than once and maybe made him laugh too.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Banning Smoking in Bars

One of the great things about America is the huge variety of stores we have to choose from. If you don't like Wal-Mart, you can go to Target. It you don't like McDonald's you can go to Wendy's*.

Today, on the radio, a gay** man was loudly proclaiming his belief that there should be a state ban on smoking because of health concerns. "The government makes sure eating establishments are clean for our health so they should also outlaw smoking for our health," he was just getting started.

"It's not fair to me," he cried, "that I have to tolerate second hand smoke when I want to go kick back a couple of drinks at my favorite bar or eat a salad at my favorite restaurant."

I suspected it was a stunt to get people angry and to get listeners to call in and voice differences of opinion. Instead, it proved to me that people are stupid. Or, at least people that listen to this radio program and call in are stupid. He might be stupid as well.

When you expect the government to start passing laws to keep people healthy then you are opening up Pandora's little box of horrors. Next thing you know there will be a two drink maximum because any more than that and you endanger yourself and others.

Perhaps next they will outlaw parking lots at bars. If you own a bar, you must eliminate your parking lot because we all know it's dangerous to drink and drive.

And while we are at it we should definitely eliminate deserts. We are all too fat anyway. We should probably do away with butter and french fries too. They are very unhealthy. Perhaps we can make fresh fruits and vegetables mandatory!

* I start out talking about choices because you can always choose to go somewhere that doesn't allow smoking. Once the government gets involved, they are very good at eliminating choices.

** I noted that he was a gay man because, in my opinion, with gay marriages being outlawed in most places, these folks should be at the front of the line as far as getting the government out of our business.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Gas Lines and Food Allowance

I had to share my experience on the way to work this morning...

I rounded a corner and there was a huge line of cars at a local gas station. My first thought was, "I wonder if they are giving away free gas or something."

As I drove past, I noticed that gas was $3.79 per gallon. Most stations in my area are at about $3.95 per gallon.

I started doing the math in my head. Here you have a line of cars (idling or not) waiting in line to fill up with gas that is 16 cents per gallon cheaper than anywhere else. If we assume that the average tank hold 15 gallons, then these people are waiting in line to spend $56.85 instead of $59.25 down the street where they don't have to wait in line.

So my question to you is: how long would you wait in line if the person at the end of the line was handing out $2.40?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Media and Religion Share the Title

I've been very busy lately buying a new house and finishing projects at work. I haven't had time to put into words my many random thoughts that I have from time to time. My last one was during a hurried lunch at a burger joint.
I've decided that the Media is also the root of all evil. So Media and Religion share common ground.
If you make olive oil for 20 cents a bottle and then sell it for 99 cents a bottle then that's good business. It's 500% profit. If everyone in the world has to have olive oil to wake up in the morning then demand for olive oil would be huge and you'd always have steady income and likely lots of money.
Now, imagine that the media, for one reason or another, announced a shortage of olive oil. You are still manufacturing olive oil as fast and furious as you possibly can. It still costs you 20 cents to make a bottle. But, the media is announcing that olive oil will soon cost $3 per bottle because of increasing demand and lack of supply.
Being the greedy entrepreneur that you are, the light bulbs will immediately go off. If the media is preparing the public for this shortage and these prices, then I can go ahead and raise my prices to $2.50 and be in good graces with the public. I'll be 50 cents cheaper than what the media (in it's fear mongering over the top news) has proclaimed. People trust the media and as a money making entrepreneur on the right side of the fence, I'll be more than happy to make their projections correct.
So, presently, when I go eat hamburgers, I have to pay the same price for my burger as before, but now I don't get tomatoes.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Diabetes, Insulin Pumps and the Government

Believe it or not, healthy little old me has had Type I Diabetes for oh about 27 years now. When I was first diagnosed I had to P in a cup to test my sugar levels. The only way to test my blood sugar levels was by going to the hospital and having blood drawn then waiting for a few days to find out what my blood sugar level was.
Today, and for the past 20 years or so, you can test your blood sugar with a small finger prick and it takes a little hand held device and about 5 seconds. Diabetics are encouraged to test often. You end up with sore fingers, but it's healthy. I've heard they are coming out with some device that measures blood sugar levels without invasion. I know they have one that measure the sugar in your sweat and can be warn as a watch.
Last year I started wearing an insulin pump. It hasn't really helped my control all that much. I was already doing pretty good with a shot one or two times a day. But, now, my eating schedule is not so regimented. It's not a major problem for me to skip a meal or have a late lunch. With a shot, you have to be on schedule or you risk passing out (or worse) from low blood sugar. The insulin pump gives you more control.
Anyway, it's been in the news lately that kids aren't being trained properly about pump usage. I've been through the training twice. I bought one about 8 years ago and I hated it. It never seemed to work right and I quit using it and sent it back for a refund. I was born intelligent. The new one I bought last year was from a different manufacturer with different training techniques and I love it.
Apparently many people believe the government needs to crack down on these pump manufacturers and force them to abide by certain training standards so the stupid people don't get killed using the pump.
I believe that this will make the pump so expensive that people will have no choice but to return to the days of multiple injections. We need to keep the government out of it. If you feel a manufacturer did not give you good information or you don't like the way their pump works, there are at least 4 manufacturers out there. Pick a different one. Don't expect the government to take care of you.
For the curious, I'm using the Animas pump now. I love it. And I loved the training.
The pump I used 8 years ago that I returned was the Minimed. Obviously, things in the technology sector go fast. I'm sure Minimed makes a fine pump today, but you as the customer should shop around and decide for yourself.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Welfare and the Free Market

Libertarians have interesting ideas about how society should run. They blame the government for most everything. And the solution to most everything involves freedom of some sort. They can solve education by privatizing it, getting the government out of it, thus allowing the free market system to take control. It sounds like fun.

But can this work for all governments at all levels and for all problems. There are some problems that require a central controlling body. I've been thinking about the welfare problem. You see or hear about people every day who are on welfare or disability and have no will or intention of getting a job. They rely on the federal government for everything.

Can't you just move welfare down to the lower governments. I'd go down to the city level and let them take care of it. I'd combine this with a free market system.

If you allow companies with deep pockets and a need for low income workers to setup places where people can stay temporarily while they become re-educated or cleaned up, then these companies get first crack at these graduates from the "Re-education Houses". With the spike in gas prices I am hearing reports of certain fast food and retail joints having a hard time keeping their stores staffed.

Cities are better able to manage their homeless or helpless population than the federal government. When someone comes to the city saying that they are disabled, unemployed or whatever and need some kind of handout. The city can say, "Well, we have this Re-Education House supported by a large donation from McDonald's. We'll put you up there and give you 3 meals a day and a place to sleep and shower for the next month. At the end of that month McDonald's gets first chance to hire them, because they were the biggest investors.

Anyway, the details are not that important. The important part is that you get the federal government out of it and let city governments and the free market take care of it.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Automated Parenting

In the world of automation, tedious jobs are eliminated. I'm a software engineer and I know all about this. The days of sorting mail by hand are gone. Computers do that now. The days of manually connecting people together at a switchboard are gone. Computers do that now.

So, now that we have the Internet and TV, we have the NetNanny. It "protects" your kids from bad Internet stuff. We have ratings and labels for our TV shows, but the parent has to be there to know if it's not suitable. Well, we should automate that as well. Most TV's now come with software allowing parents to take yet another step back. Now, the Television is not only a cheap babysitter, but (if the software functions correctly) can make sure your kids don't watch the "bad" stuff. It can also turn the TV off after a certain time.

Is all of this a good thing? Or does it just prove that we are such bad parents that we can't even trust our kids. Maybe parenting is such a tedious job that it needs to be eliminated...