Sunday, March 29, 2009

Delusions of Fabrications

My conundrum for the week:
If you lie, but everyone knows you are lying, is it still a lie?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Handouts Require Random Drug Tests

I read about this last week. Apparently several states are considering random drugs tests to people that receive things like welfare checks, food stamps, etc.

When I mention this to people, they overwhelming believe it to be a wonderful idea. "We don't want to give our money to druggies" is the most popular remark.

I don't know which way I fall on this. I don't believe in handouts at all. About 10 years ago, I spent my weekends in a relatively scary area of Dallas called Deep Ellum. Deep Ellum has since kind of gone the way of all good things.

I would meander around the city street by myself. I had really long hair and wore earrings at the time and never really looked anyone in the eye. I tried to fit in. It never failed that two kind of interesting things would happen when I was walking around. Someone would always come up and ask me if I was interesting in scoring some stuff. I'd get by that one, by saying, "Nah man, I'm good right now. Thanks for asking." I'd kind of slur and randomly glance over my shoulder while I talked to them. The other interesting thing that invariably would occur is guys coming up asking if I could spare them some change. I don't know if they were homeless, beggars, alcoholics, druggies or what, but they were always different.

I'd always tell them the same thing, "I never give money away. But, if you can show me the way to 'The Bone', I'll give you a dollar." Sometimes I'd substitute The Bone for any other club I was interested in. This accomplished two things. I had company walking down the street and it would prevent others from begging. One guy was funny. He walked with me to The Bone (it was a bar on Elm Street -- they always had blues on the roof). When we got in front, he said, "Man, could you buy me a beer. A dollar won't even get me a drink."

I told him, "I tell you what. You can come up to the roof with me. Every time a woman sits down and talks with us, I'll buy you a beer." It was one of the more entertaining Deep Ellum experiences I ever had. He was crazy.

The point is, we shouldn't be giving money away. As long as there are things like food stamps and welfare, there will be people standing in line to get it. I think random drugs tests will just be the opposite of the lottery. When you win the lottery, you get to be rich. When you are the victim of the drug test on welfare you become even more poor. It won't solve anything. Drug tests cost money so it won't save us any money. I don't think any good can come of it.

Of course if they would legalize drugs and make welfare come in the form of a "debit card", then they wouldn't be able to buy drugs with the welfare money anyway.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

And You Thought I Only Liked Angry Music

Lucky you. Today, I am enjoying this:

The video is way cool too.

Alliterator Animal Sh*t List: The Letter 'P'

P could almost be considered opposite of poo, but today is the day for P.

I really can't help myself.

Powerfully Pungent Penguin Poo-Poo Pellets

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Things You Don't Want to Hear -- Or Maybe You Do

As my multitude of readers already know, I've been reading a history of the world book.

I've been shocked at the role of religion in the earth's history. It seems that as soon as intelligent man evolved or was created or whatever, he's been trying to cope with death.

Growing up in a Christian household, I was mainly brainwashed to believe that was all there was. I was also brainwashed to think that Texas was the only state in the union worth a damn and the USA was the only country worth living in.

Since I turned 20, it's been one startling revelation after another. More so after 30.

If you go back in time as far as archeologically possible and discover the world's first religions, they were pretty simplistic. Areas of the known world were largely controlled by powerful people who were able to conquer via war and keep control via brain power. Someone would invade Egypt and claim his victory was by his allegiance to the Sun god. Everyone knew there were lots of gods, but this guys god led him in his domination of Egypt. A very hard country to capture. Thus, people wanted to make him happy so they'd worship his god as well. Or maybe they'd fear his retribution and pretend to worship his god. Or maybe they thought the powerful sun god would bless them as well.

As time progressed things got more complicated. There were lots of gods and different ones promoted different things. Thus, there became Mars, the god of war, Venus, the god of love, etc.

At some point, someone came up with the idea of a "one true god" and named him Yahweh. The pagan religions of the time were accepting of this. They accepted Yahweh as just another god. I worship Jupiter, you worship Yahweh. It's no big thing.

As the worship of Yahweh became popular, rules were laid down. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" type rules. The people who worshiped Yahweh were fanatical and the leaders of the time saw this as an opportunity. If you are the leader of a large population, who do you want on your side? The accepting people who leave each to his own, or the fanatics? The fanatics are more likely to expand your empire. It's like trying to hire a salesman. Do you hire the quiet one or the loud one? The loud one of course.

So these kings and leaders gradually encouraged the worship of Yahweh and his teachings were expanded upon. Soon, he became God and there was no other. The Pagan religions died out because they were too accepting and they were killed for not accepting God. Their empires were peaceful, but peaceful didn't last.

Then you get into John the Baptist and Jesus, who both really stirred things up, but I feel I've pissed off enough people for one post.

Islam? Islam is popular because of Muhammad. What did he do? By charisma and conquest he created an Arabic empire the likes of which had never been seen.

The fanatical violent religions prosper. The peaceful religions generally go away. Well, most of the time.

Back when the Egyptians were getting taken over by the conquerors and their sun gods, the people of India and parts of China were in such a bad location that their king was the conqueror of the day. He never had enough time to setup a religion before the next conqueror came along. Buddhism was born.

I'm going at this from memory. Some of it may be factual. Other parts of it are opinionated based on what I've read and what was implied in my little head.

Buddhists and the Tibetan monks preach harmony. I guess back in the day of the sun gods, these guys simply got tired of being invaded so they started practicing peaceful religions and they still thrive today. I don't know as much about their beliefs as I would like. I don't expect failure includes the promise of an eternity in a fiery pit of hell.

And they make cool music too

Sunday, March 22, 2009

History and Thomas Jefferson

It's amazing to me how badly I am educated in regards to history. It's also rather disheartening. I've been trying to rectify the problem. I've been reading a history of the world book and am on page 233 out of 1200. It's a slow read, but very interesting. I'm mostly amazed at how important religion has been in the history of modern man. It's good blog fodder, but, I think, not at this juncture.

Anyway, I've also discovered a wealth of information via the television. I was astonished to discover that Netflix has a host of documentaries that you can rent and some that you can watch instantly via their streaming service. Netflix has got to be one of my favorite new services offered in the last 10 years.

Most recently I watched an interesting one on Thomas Jefferson. I blogged a bit about it earlier. The fact that he coined the phrase "All men are created equal" and yet he owned over 200 slaves.

As you read this, remember, in your mind, that my history education is severely lacking. I don't know if this is good or bad, but it's kind of exciting learning all of this stuff as an old man. I should have realized it sooner. Durango had to explain to me where Fort Worth got its name. I never even bothered to make the mental leap necessary to determine that it was a fort. The preceding was an example of my historical ignorance. It's almost embarrassing.

I had no idea that both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day within a few hours of each other. If you equate it to modern understanding, John Adams was like an ultra conservative Republican and Thomas Jefferson was like a super liberal Democrat. They were both considered part of the "founding fathers". They both died within a few hours of each other on America's 50th birthday. July 4, 1826. They started out as friends, became huge political adversaries, and became close again after retirement.

I mentioned earlier that I thought Thomas Jefferson might be the biggest hypocrite in US history. I've changed my mind. After watching all, I believe, 3 hours of the documentary, I've decided he was a genius who knew what needed to be done to make the USA successful. Sometimes he wrote things that made him appear hypocritical, but I think he wrote what he thought needed to be written to make the USA a success. And he was a great writer.

Part of the reason I write this blog is to try and improve my writing skills. I'll never be as good as Thomas Jefferson and he had to practice via handwriting with some large mechanical contraption that copied everything as it was written (pictured above). I just type on my keyboard and the words are magically spell checked, saved, published, and copied infinitely in the blink of an eye.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Alliterator Animal Sh*t List: The Letter 'O'

I was really having some trouble with the O's. I can't remember if I ever had a good O :).

Anyway, I have decided to go exclusively with a guest appearance by Ed. He has a way with the mad vocabulary skills.

Overwhelming Oodles of Odiferous Orangutan Offal

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

All Men Are Created Equal

According to Wikipedia, this is arguably the best known phrase in any of America's political documents.

I've been thinking about the crappiness of this phrase for a long time now. I was going to devote an entire posting to it, but I changed my mind.

Tonight I watched a documentary on Thomas Jefferson on PBS. They confirmed the crappiness of this phrase. Only I think they called it magically abstract. It's abstract enough that you can't argue against it and it's honest enough to make you feel good.

This is one of the few times in my opinionated blog spewing that I can't put into words exactly what I'm thinking (okay, it happens a lot). On one hand, I'm afraid of the people that I might offend in my effort to explain my thoughts in a politically correct fashion. On the other hand, I am confident that even if I manage to not offend, I'll still not be able to adequately articulate my thoughts.

Thomas Jefferson is probably the best known hypocrite in US history. He was the 2nd largest slave owner in Virginia. When he wrote that magically abstract phrase, he owned 200 slaves. When George Washington, John Adams and other well known figures of the time were freeing their slaves, Thomas Jefferson continued his ownership. He even went so far as to write papers explaining why blacks were inferior.

Whilst watching this program on PBS, they have various historians who tell you what Thomas Jefferson was thinking. I'm sure they do it for entertainment value. How can anyone know what he was thinking just by reading his various writings? You can get some ideas on how he lived and how he wrote (he was a very good writer), but you can never know what he was thinking.

The magic of Thomas Jefferson's writings was that (on the surface) it appears larger than life and unimaginably insightful. But when you start analyzing the words, he was just spewing forth ideas that are agreeable from a variety of perspectives.

"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It is its natural manure."

"The republic will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."

Jealous and Whiny About AIG

I'm pretty much tired of hearing about this so I thought I'd have the last word.

The company I work for has been hit by the economy and they cut my salary, withheld all bonus payouts and our German owners fired the North American CEO. We didn't get any government help.

Working at an executive level at a place like AIG is like winning the lottery. You're going to make big money. It's like you have a high paying job at a company that is so important that the government will prop it up and keep it from failing. The US Federal Government will collapse moments before AIG collapses. We don't get mad at people that win the lottery. We should not get mad at AIG executives either. It is so ridiculous that it is starting to sound like insane jealousy.

If you were lucky enough to know someone that knew someone that could get you employed at AIG and then you were offered tomorrow a $10 million bonus, would you turn it down? Of course not. So quit being jealous. Stopping the bonuses isn't going to solve anything anyway.

If you really want to solve something you'll quit voting for the same damn politicians every election cycle. I saw a show with Bob Dole the other day and they were commenting on the fact that he's been an important part of American politics for the last 50 years. Vote the bastard out already (well he's retired, but still involved). The government now controls 80% of AIG. Vote the bastards out already.

Every election cycle you are offered the choice of two evils. One is the evil democrat and the other is the evil republican. There are other people running, but you don't take the time to look. Then, when things go badly, you just sit around and whine. I don't know how many times I've heard, "Well, there's no one worth voting for." That should be phrased differently, "There's no one worth voting for that has not been spoon fed to me with little kid gloves by the media and by the rich and powerful."

I wonder how much money the executives at AIG donated to the presidential campaigns.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I'm not nearly as well traveled as I'd like to be. It's possible I've toured more European cities than American cities. I loved Amsterdam, but not for the reasons most of you would think. I liked Los Angeles. I liked New York City. Seattle is probably my favorite North American city. Boulder, Colorado is a gem. I also enjoyed San Francisco. I've been to Vienna and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I've been to Berlin which was nice, but seemed too big. I've been to Frankfurt.

But my favorite city by a long shot is Munich. I basically lived in Munich the spring and summer of 2003. Some people say that Texas is friendly. But, in Texas, it's hard to find a place where you sit shoulder to shoulder with strangers, drinking beer, singing songs, and eating pretzels and sausage. In Munich, it's hard to find a place where you don't.

Here's a good article to read when you have time.

Smart People

I don't hate anyone. I like walking around in the good old USA and seeing all the different folks living amongst us.

Back in 2002 I spent a lot of time in Germany. I'd fly to Frankfurt, stay in and around Frankfurt for 2 weeks then fly back home for a week, then go back. That was probably one of the coolest events of my life. Everyone there was "not American". I guess growing up in a little town in West Texas, the ability to get as far away as possible was like a drug (a good drug).

On Saturday I realized that all of the foreigners I have met in the USA have been smart.

I've always been more comfortable around intelligent people. A friend of mine, who I've know since I was 11 or so, is probably the smartest person I know. Except maybe his older brother could be smarter. Interestingly enough, I met him via his older brother.

Anyway, the point is, I like smart people. I'm a geeky nerd. I've been one all my life. On Saturday I met a woman that owns her own photography business. She can speak 3 languages. She knows more about the English language than I do. She's Palestinian.

When I graduated from college, I went to work at a place and met a man from Bangladesh. He helped me get through my first year of corporate America in the software world. Also, at that same job, I met a guy from Lebanon. He spoke at least 5 different languages and was a computer nerd.

I've never met a dumb foreigner. This got me to thinking. Are all foreigners smart? I think we can safely say that this is probably not true. However, we could say, that almost all foreigners coming to the USA are smart. Why are smart people attracted to the USA? When citizens of the USA go to other countries are they also smart? I met some people in Germany that were from USA and they were smart too. Do only smart people immigrate?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Alliterator Animal Sh*t List: The Letter 'N'

Being that this week is N, it can be derived that last week was M. Last week was quite good. This week: not so much.

But, I don't want to spend too much time on it so I'll dispense with the pleasantries and just let it spew forth.

Nauseatingly Nasty Newt Nuggets

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Meandering Manifestations

I have a bothersome urging in the back of my subliminal conscience telling me to write a blog. I have lots of things that would take some time and probably no one would read. Instead, I've decided to make a blog of random thoughts I've been having in the last few days.

My 401k has been reduced to about 40% of what it was 2 years ago. The sad part is I was one button click away from moving my 401k out of the stock market 2 years ago. I decided I was too young to be worrying about things like that.

A friend of mine said something along the lines of Reaganomics was like Heroine and we have crashed. Now we are suffering through the withdrawals with the help of Obama Bail Outs which is like Methadone (takes away the pain, but it's not as much fun). I think I could go somewhere with that. I probably got it all wrong, but maybe he will expound on it. I might let him be a guest author if he wants to.

Another friend of mine enlightened me as to why I can't invite my wife to happy hour. That might be full on blog material as well.

Rome was a stable, wealthy, relatively peaceful empire for around 250 years. USA is not that old. We've managed to screw up our economics more than Rome did. Jerry Jones is trying to help out by kicking poor folks out of their houses to build a gladiator coliseum in Arlington.

If everyone quits paying taxes and the federal government collapses then I'll be as rich as Bill Gates (in liquid assets anyway).

Monday, March 9, 2009

First Bike Ride of the Season

Today was a pleasant 80 degrees and since we have sprung forward I got home in time to ride my bike for an hour before the sun set.

I got a case of the vapors whilst airing up my tires.

More Angry Music

I find something oddly satisfying with good angry music. It makes me happy. Today, I found this:

Here is some more angry music.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Freedom to Choose the One You're With

The other day I was talking to my 11 year old daughter about attraction. She was telling me about all the little Junior High boys that she either likes or dislikes. It was probably one of those moments that should either give me nightmares or that I should fondly remember forever. However, I'm not normal.

It got me to questioning how we choose who we are attracted to. It's not a decision we typically make with our "logical" brains. That's where the "chemistry" comes from. When you think logically about who you should be with, you think: nice, smart, successful, has a lot of money, etc. When you are out in the world the person you are attracted to has: a nice ass, great set of boobs, long legs, etc. That last part was somewhat of a joke. Sometimes you'll see someone with no ass, no boobs and 5 foot tall and you'll be thinking, "I don't know why I am attracted to her, but I am."

The point is, we don't really choose (logically) who we are going to be attracted to. It's some kind of emotional response. We end up with a person that was serendipitously placed before us at the right time when the neurons were firing in the proper sequence and Neptune was aligned with Venus.

I have therefore decided that prearranged marriages are the way to go. If you trust your parents to be intelligent reasonable people then they will be able to logically choose who your best mate for life should be. It's also in their best interest to appoint someone that will help provide good looking grandchildren. Most importantly of all is that they have a better chance of keeping emotion and chemistry completely out of the equation. It should be a purely logical decision for the best chance of a long term relationship and to positively impact the greatness of the human race.

Friday, March 6, 2009

It's Not My Fault (INMF Syndrome)

I figure this is the largest problem facing America today. When the economy goes south everyone starts pointing fingers. When you sign the dotted line on a loan you can't possibly repay, you blame the mortgage company. When your child is disrespectful (or worse), you blame the music industry. When did we quit accepting any responsibility?

A few days ago, my youngest daughter asked my wife if she ever got in trouble at school (my wife is from Germany). My wife asked her what she meant by trouble. My daughter said, "Well did they have paddling or detention or anything like that in Germany?"

My wife explained to her that in the school she was in, they kept a journal that the teacher could write in. At the end of every week you have to take the journal home and your parents had to sign it. Then, on your Monday return, you had to show that your parent had signed the journal. The journal is where your transgressions and accomplishments were logged.

I asked about lack of parental discipline. How could they allow children in the school who were trouble makers, but had parents that don't care? The thought was so alien, she had trouble coming up with an answer. Finally, she decided it must be because the troublesome kids went to the "other school". In Germany, your 6th grade performance determines whether you go to the school that prepares you for college or "the other school". The kids and the parents are held responsible.

Who is responsible here? It's not the kids. They can't help it if their school sucks. It's not the parents. They can't help it if the schools suck. Maybe it's the music. Maybe it's the government. Who knows? Let's sue someone and if we get lucky they'll give us lots of money and it'll make us feel better about the sorry state of affairs that we were coerced into.

Stop blaming and start thinking of ways that you can make a difference.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Alliterator Animal Sh*t List: The Letter 'M'

I know you've all been patiently awaiting today's entry. I've also been. I think I promised before that the M's were very good. I hope they don't disappoint. Not that anything in a list such as this could be disappointing. But enough with my meandering mumblings and out with it:
Massive Mound of Musty Moose Manure

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

VMWare, Virtual PC's and Stuff

I've not blogged much recently. It's because I've been experimenting with Virtual Machines or Virtual PC's or whatever you want to call them. It's really a pretty cool idea. I suppose it's been around for a long time. Back when I purchased my first PC many moons ago, I quickly found out I could get emulators to emulate my old Commodore 64 or Apple II. Ask me why. I dare ya.

Basically, what they do is cause your current PC to emulate the hardware of an older PC so I can create a virtual Commodore 64 in a window on my Windows XP desktop. I am sure if you go do an Internet search you can find all kinds of emulators you can download and install. There are even video game emulators that will let you play the arcade version of Galaga, Pac Man, etc. It's actually kind of fun for us geeky types. "Hit Ctrl-I to insert a quarter".

VMWare has taken it one step further. VM stands for Virtual Machine I believe. As I type this blog I have a Virtual Machine running in another window in my background where I am installing Fedora. It's a flavor of Red Hat Linux (Fedora -- Red Hat -- get it?). I could theoretically have all the Virtual Machines I want running on my Windows Vista workstation. I could, if I wanted to, install Fedora first and then install all of the OS's I wanted in Virtual Machines on my Fedora workstation. It's all rather entertaining for us geeky types. I expect there is some real usefulness for it though. As for me, I am writing Linux code on my Fedora virtual machine while I play games and write documentation on Vista. I've also discovered that I can create a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to the office and work via a Windows XP virtual machine (since my employer doesn't believe in Vista). I might have to diagram that one if you want to wrap your head around it.

When I first started doing this, I started with Virtual PC 2007. It's a Microsoft Product. It's pretty easy to use. Except, it's not as robust as the VMWare product. VMWare was a bit of a pain to get working initially. I expect becuase the VMWare guys are trying to make money. Virtual PC is a free download from Microsoft, but it only runs on one of their $100+ operating systems. They've already made their money you see.

If I haven't lost you yet, here are some things I've learned that seem intuitively obvious, but they aren't:
  1. If you want to install an operating system that is not owned by Microsoft on Virtual PC 2007, you must somehow configure your graphics to be simplistic. If you are installing Ubuntu, for example, you must tell Ubuntu to use "safe graphics" during the install. In the long run, it's easier to use VMWare.
  2. When you go to the VMWare website, look for the Downloads section. Once there, ignore all the other stuff, and download the VMWare Server. They will force you to create an account. They will force you to supply a valid email address so they can send you a key. Then you'll get lots of unwanted emails while they attempt to sell you stuff. They deserve the money, but not from me. The important part to remember is that the free download of VMWare Server is all that you require.
  3. To install the OS on your Virtual Machine all you need is an ISO Image. It's really the quickest way to get started. With VMWare the ISO Image must be placed in the Virtual Machines directory on your hard drive (I think it's always under C:\Virtual Machines). For some reason, this isn't obvious. It leads you believe that the ISO image can be anywhere.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Red Panda

I like Red Pandas. I've been a fan ever since I watched "Kung Fu Panda" which was one of my favorite cartoons last year. It has one of those scenes that makes me laugh out loud every time I see it.

My profile picture is a picture of a Red Panda (also known as a Firefox, a Fire Cat, a Lesser Panda, and some others I think). I don't remember where I got that picture. I was looking for one that would fit my profile. There are many cool pictures of Red Pandas.

Yesterday, Paul sent me the one you see pictured above. Now, I know some Pauls, but I don't know any Pauls that claim to monitor my blog. It is also possible that one of them accidentally gazed upon my Google profile.

Paul sent me this message, "Maybe you would want this, maybe not." It's a cool picture.