Thursday, December 29, 2005

Still in holiday recovery mode. Not a lot going on other than work and sitting at home playing with one of my Christmas toys. My mother-in-law got me a Western Digital Passport; basically a 60GB laptop hard drive in a case that connects via USB cable to any PC. It runs off the USB power, so there is only one cable. If you need to, there is provision for plugging it in, but it isn't necessary. In fact, in order to do so, you have to buy the wall wart separate. In any case, fast, quiet, and 60GB is big when you've been working on a 9GB laptop. So far, I have ripped about half the CD's in the house to it and moved a lot of data to it that is either expendable (downloads that could be easily re-downloaded in case of failure, for example), or that already exists in multiple areas (digital photos that are on two other systems and on CD). That has filled up about a quarter of the drive. Not bad for a hundred bucks and a form factor somewhere between a deck of cards and a paperback book. I may go back and pick up another one. Right now, all our digital photos to date don't take up much room (a couple gigs), but I've been looking into services to digitize all of my 35mm slides and film. If I do that, I would prefer to have separate drives for music, photos, archived data, etc. That will likely all fit on one for now, but that won't last long. In any case, if you need more disk space, it's hard to get any easier than this. I haven't had enough experience with this to trust it as primary disk space, but it is certainly good enough for a second portable copy of large amounts of data, a backup device, images of install discs, etc.

The Feds are dropping M3 data in March, 2006. What does that mean? M3 is, to grossly simplify things, the sum total of all money in our system. That may seem like an important number to keep track of, and historically it has been very important. There seems to be disagreement over whether that still holds true. Currency traders, who make obscene amounts of money by taking advantage of the fluctuations in world currencies, say it isn't all that important, there are other indexes that give a better picture, M3 is outdated, blah blah. Gold bugs, like the ones that wrote the article I linked to above, say M3 is the single most important number generated by the Federal Reserve. Both sides are in a position to know a hell of a lot more that I do. Both sides also have horses in the race, so I take their opinions with a healthy dose of sodium chloride. Having said that, there are aspects of this that make me nervous. First, this is one of the most inflationary administrations in recent history. Second, the announcement was made in a very odd manner, almost as an aside, and not accompanied by any explanation as to why. Call me paranoid, but I don't think holding large amounts of US dollars after March is a good idea.

Ponder for a moment all the blood and treasure we have spent in places like Iraq. Reflect on the destruction of civilian air travel by the TSA. Consider the desecration of the Constitution by George W (as in "wiretap") Bush. Then read this. Feel safer? The most critical pieces of information this kid needed were supplied by the federal government itself. I can't have tweezers on an airplane because I might use them to hijack the plane, but the feds are handing out information on how to extract and purify radioactive isotopes to random people.

Ok, now lets look at this situation from another angle. The War of on Terror has cost how many 100's of billions? Now along comes a kid bucking for Eagle Scout and for a few thousand bucks builds a respectable atomic pile from scrounged materials, aluminum foil, and duct tape. It's hard to tell from a magazine article, but I'm guessing it produced enough heat to run a small RTG. I'm certain there is no way this home-built RTG would have provided enough electricity to run a house, but it raises some interesting possibilities as to how we could have better spent a couple hundred billion dollars. Forty or so years ago, either Heinlein or Asimov speculated that every house would run off its own RTG installed in the basement in a sealed cask with warnings in a dozen languages that if you were persistent and stupid enough to break the thing open, you would instantly die. For a half-trillion dollars, I'm sure we could be there.

At least the story ends well: Hahn is now in the Navy instead of rotting in some jail cell.

That's all folks!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Just taking a little blogging break for the holidays. We really don't have anything going on right now; just working and looking outside at the depressing weather. I has been above freezing and raining for over a week. We still have snow; nasty-looking grey and black slush, actually. Our road is a disaster. But I get two three-day weekends in a row, so, woo hoo!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Just a quick note to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Well, last night didn't go quite as planned. Instead of setting up stuff to sell, we spent the entire night wrapping Christmas gifts. I guess it had to be done, but it's a job I hate; for one thing, it seems such a waste of time/money/resources, but mostly because I suck at it.

Anyway, I haven't provided a lot of reading material lately, so I'll try to make up for it today.

Obviously, the biggest news since Watergate broke is that our Beloved Leader has been spying on us. Nixon resigned for spying on political enemies for a very specific purpose (fear of an October Surprise during the presidential election). Emperor Bush has been caught in what amounts to a generic fishing expedition on the entire population of the United States. Not that any of this makes him different from any president we have had since Nixon, but claiming that what he did is OK because such leading lights of morality like Clinton, Carter, and Nixon did it also is not helping my cynicism. In any case, many others have covered this from various angles far better than I ever could, so read up on it here, here, and here.

More from KipEsquire on the death of probable cause, "air" marshals on trains and buses, and The War on Sniffles.

If that isn't enough reading to keep you busy, then you are more in need of a life than even I am.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

We spent a major chunk of this weekend just sorting through the piles of crap stacked in every room. A lot went into the file cabinet, but even more when straight into the trash. I'm not sure where this stuff comes from, but is just flows into our house in an endless stream. I either have to devote an entire day every few weeks to deal with it, or I have to spend a solid hour every single day just to keep the horizontal surfaces in house clean.

Yesterday I took an unscheduled day off work for generator maintenance and snow plowing. I ended up taking the Honda into the shop for carburetor work. It's been getting weaker and weaker, until Sunday when it couldn't hold frequency under load. We are now on our four-year-old 5KVA Yamaha generator and praying it holds up. So far, it's been running like a champ, but it has a lot of hours on it. My experience is that one day it will just die without warning. Then we will be in a major crunch, because we have no backup and no money to buy another generator.

Tonight, I will once again be working on E-Bay and its book-selling cousin,

That's all I have time for today.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Today, I eliminated the Truth Laid Bare from this site because there didn't appear to be any truth to it. Their code simply does not work with this site. Worse, repeated attempts to contact someone at TLB proved futile. It may well be that I implemented the stat collection code incorrectly, but there doesn't seem to be a live person at TLB to answer questions. In any case, 9 out of 10 times, I would get a SQL error when I went to their site. I have all the stats I need through Web-Stat, so TLB wasn't needed in any case.

Last night I tried to get caught up on finances. I also started working on getting things set up on E-Bay so I can start eliminating the piles and piles of books everywhere in the house. There are easily 1,000 titles that I would like to get rid of. I don't have things quite ready, but when I do, I will post something here and add a link over on the right side of the page.

This is one of the stupidest ideas I have seen in a long time. First, I played soccer for six years, have watched soccer for most of my life, and now have coached soccer. In all that time I have never witnessed, nor have I heard of, a head injury. Second, helmets will cause more injuries that they will prevent. If you doubt this, imagine someone running at top speed hitting you in the chest (or face) with a helmet on. Unlike football, there are no pads in soccer, other than shin guards. And a helmet well-built enough to do any good will cause more neck injuries than it will prevent head injuries. (Bicycle helmets are pretty much a waste. I wear one riding in the woods only to keep from getting hit by brush and small limbs. In a major crash, bike helmets simply disintegrate.) Of course we all know where this is going; schools have been trying to eliminate athletics for decades. This is just one more step in that direction. You have to wonder about the IQ of these people; aren't these the same morons that constantly gripe about how fat our kids are? Lets see: stop serving yucky vegetables in the cafeteria and serve pizza, put soda and candy machines every ten feet in every hallway, eliminate gym class, and now eliminate sports. Hmmmm. I wonder what the effect will be on the kiddies' waistlines?

I love the Onion sometimes. The problem is that this is almost not funny given that Wal-Mart and Target fire any employee that wishes a customer "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays."

That's all I have time for today.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Well, we got the Christmas cards done last night. We were up working on them until 1am, but at least they are done before New Years this year. Obviously, that took up the entire night, so nothing else to really report.

The Japanese continue to refine humanoid robots. Asimov is beginning to look positively prophetic. This one is replacing a receptionist. At a lease price of $100K a year, they don't quite make economic sense. Yet. Moore's Law works on the ASIMO as well as it does on desktop computers. Give it five years. The question we need to start thinking about now is what happens when there are millions of these things doing jobs that are currently being done by people. I know the standard answer from the Austrian economic school is that the people displaced by the ASIMO's will all have jobs building the ASIMO's. Or will they? Wouldn't building ASIMO's be a perfect job for an ASIMO? I don't think people yet realize that this won't be a case of guys working in the buggy factory just getting a new job across the street at the car factory.

And Fred Reed is at it again. I sit in a grey box all day, five days a week. It literally sucks the soul out of your body, leaving an empty husk. I'm not sure I want to roll back progress quite as far as Fred advocates, but I think a lot of people need to start asking hard questions about why they continue in a pointless job day after day.

That's all I have.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

This is cool!!! Plasma in a microwave. The site recommends working in a well-ventilated area. I'd recommend setting up outside at least 100 feet from any buildings, and observing via a video feed from behind a very sturdy barrier.

Still nothing really going on other than moving snow. I left the house yesterday at 7am and didn't step foot in the house again until 11:30pm.

The fun doesn't stop there. Tonight it's the joy of Christmas cards. Can anyone say "writer's cramp?"

Not much else to say.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

This is the first blogger post from home since the end of July. We finally have a phone line and an active ISP account. You wouldn't think things like this would be that hard. But that's northern Michigan for you; a little slice of the Third World right in your backyard.

Other than that, it's just snow removal. That is our life. And fighting with malfunctioning equipment. We do a lot of that as well.

That's all I had. I just wanted to see if everything really was working.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Today I saw the first sunshine in a couple weeks. There is snow everywhere, meaning I get to spend the next two or three days in the truck plowing snow.


Otherwise, there just isn't anything going on right now. I have no motivation whatsoever to go anywhere or do anything.

Anyway, I blogged a while back about fights between students at a Houston-area high school and the New Orleans student refugees. It seems time isn't helping things much. Fights, marking, and vandalism have become common. The previous article has pictures which pretty much told the story: black, inner-city kids from New Orleans wearing colors vs. the "normal" students. This article has no photos, but I'm willing to bet my next paycheck that they would look remarkably similar to the previous ones. When will people learn that inner-city blacks are a separate nation that does not want, nor is it able, to assimilate into the mainstream American culture.

That's it.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The good news is that I tracked down the source of the majority of our issues with the boiler. Way back when we first moved into the house, we didn't have the inverter and batteries set up, so we just ran the generator all the time. To keep the furnace from resetting every time I shut the generator down for refueling, I had purchased a UPS that had enough battery life to keep the heat on for a half hour or so. Once the inverter was on-line, I never bothered to take the UPS out of the loop. It appears that it was the cause of our problems. The bad news? Things still are not perfect, but at least we have heat. Most of the time, anyway.

Other than that, we have mostly been dealing with snow, snow, snow, and more snow. It is only December 7th, and I'm already sick of snow. I'm sick of shoveling snow, I'm sick of wading in snow, I'm sick of cleaning snow off my truck, I'm sick of plowing snow. I don't think I am suited to this climate.


I haven't really had much time to poke around my usual collection of web sites. The only thing that I have to share is yet another example of the law being an ass. Now I am no where near naive enough to think that there was some golden age where the courts didn't favor big business over the little guy. But this is just so far out of bounds that it is hard to believe this article wasn't picked up from The Onion's web site. Given that small business is the source of recent job growth, this sort of open hostility to them can't be a good thing.

I know I haven't posted much lately, but I just haven't had much to say. One thing that will certainly help is that we now have internet access from home. It's just a dial-up connection, but that seems to be my only option at this point.


Wednesday, November 30, 2005

We are still fighting with generator/boiler issues. The bottom line is that both cannot be on at the same time. I can't explain what is happening, and neither can anyone else. It's not the size of the load on the generator; the well pump pulls ten times the current that the boiler is, and the generator doesn't have a nervous breakdown. In fact, the generator will run every load in the house except the boiler. I still suspect there is a problem with the boiler wiring. It hasn't worked reliably since it was installed. Pretty much like everything else in the house. I've yet to understand the inverse relationship between cost and reliability: cheap stuff lasts forever, but expensive stuff breaks at the slightest touch, or for no reason whatsoever. Think of this in terms of watches. I am wearing a watch that cost me a grand total of $20 that I have dunked in water numerous times, hit with hammers, slammed into walls, dropped, stepped on, zapped with static, DC and AC electrical currents, yet it still works like brand new. If it was a $200 watch, it would have died the first time I set it down too hard. Can someone explain this to me?

We woke up to snow today. Ugh. Not much, but the forecast is for more and more until we are buried up to our necks in the stuff. I'd rather get a root canal than have to deal with snow.

Last night, we watched Mad Hot Ballroom. This was a movie in this summer's film festival that we did not get a chance to see. The movie is a documentary about a ballroom dancing program/competition in the New York City public schools. I have no idea what the ideology of the filmmakers might be, but nothing I have ever seen so dramatically shows what is wrong with our public education.

The first thing you notice is the adults: they are nearly all women. The men are mostly personifications of the stereotype exemplified by the question, "Is he gay, or just European?" Yes, I understand that education has always been heavily female, especially in the early grades. But the near-complete lack of males was obvious. (One school had a male dance instructor that wasn't a fag; other than that, I don't recall anyone that wasn't a female or a fem male.)

But the lesson in modern education began with the competition. Weepy females lamented the existence of "hard competition" and worrying about the students feelings. Selecting the students that will represent the school in the competition is presented as the hardest thing any of the adults have ever done. My first thought was that it must be nice to live such a sheltered life. Then I remembered we were talking about school teachers, who live their entire lives in a sheltered hive, safely walled off from anything that looks like competition. Or competence.

No one competed as an individual or as a dance pair; all scoring and awards were given to the entire school team. There is one little girl who had big dreams of being a professional dancer. She was actually pretty good, maybe the best in her school. But her performance was pulled down to the school average, which wasn't good enough to get past the first round. If you go frame-by-frame, you can see the exact moment that her dreams are crushed like an empty beer can under the wheels of a semi. The hive mind of public schooling at its best. "No, Sally, you can't be a professional dancer because your parents live in a neighboring filled with children who dance like they have cement blocks on their feet, and we couldn't possibly acknowledge that you are better than they are because that might make them feel bad."

And just like in the Special Olympics, everyone goes home with a medal. And the now-ubiquitous gift bag; does every damn thing in our schools have to include consumerism?

The real eye-opener was the reaction of one school team when they were eliminated in the first round. First, the entire setup was so confusing that it took several minutes for them to figure out they had lost. That was understandable because I'm still a little fuzzy on what was going on, and I wasn't an ADD 12-year-old kid in a big, echo-plagued room with 6,000 other ADD kids. In any case, first came the look of shock, then the water-works start up (teacheress joining in, of course). Then the bitching. "We followed the rules; we did just what we were taught to do; we should have won, too." No concept whatsoever of a scored competition. No thought that someone may have done a better job on the dance floor to ruffle the smooth surface of their little minds. Worse, the teacheress is agreeing with them. What was missing from all this was any form of sportsmanship whatsoever. No applause for those who won; not even a perfunctory "Good job." Just bitching about how it was all so unfair because they had done exactly what they were told, and didn't win.


Rent this movie, then remember that these are the people that will have to out-compete the Chinese in order to support you in your old age. Do you suppose this competition would have looked a little different in an Asian school system?

Not much else. Later.

Monday, November 28, 2005

And another whole week slides by. During that week, we had two major snow storms, near hurricane-force winds, single digit temperatures, and since yesterday, 40 degree (F) temps and rain. Needless to say, driving is a challenge. I spent two entire days in the truck trying to get our place, my parents place, and the church parking lot plowed out. I managed to break my truck in the process. Now the generator is acting up, so I am making it a short day at work so I can go home and deal with that.

Did I mention I am seriously beginning to hate living here?

Anyway, gotta run.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Time keeps on slippin' slippin' slippin'... into the future.

Since my last post, the weather warmed up and melted the foot of snow we got last week, rained for two days, then got cold and is trying to snow. A major storm should be rolling in just in time for us to drive down state for Thanksgiving with Debbie's family. Sweet. Seriously, I'm not sure how much more of this I can take. I must be getting too old, or just too lazy to deal with it.

Friday was my birthday, so we had dinner at my parents' place. Nothing elaborate; it's just another birthday. Saturday was a work day, getting things ready for winter. Sunday was just Sunday with some food tossed in after morning service. Yesterday, the three of us had a quiet evening together watching movies and playing board games. I expect about the same level of excitement tonight as we finish up a "short" game of Monopoly.

A while back, I wrote about an 18-year-old high school senior who was elected Mayor on a write-in campaign. I assumed the party machine would find some irregularity and throw the election to the incumbent, but he was sworn in on Monday night. This could get interesting.

I grew up in Flint and lived there long enough to watch it decline from a vibrant, blue-collar city to a vast slum due to General Motors closing numerous plants and sending the work over-seas. Oh sure, they "retrained" the laid-off workers to all be computer programmers. I sat in college classes with many of these future Bill Gate's; watching them struggle with high-school-level math problems, and consume all the computer language instructors' time with questions about how to log on to the network and the difference between writing code and building a spreadsheet. All these 50-something retrained factory workers then moved to California and created the .com bubble. Or something like that. In any case, it looks like more of the same. Many of the Michigan workers being laid off spend a fair chunk of their checks here in the Traverse City area. How and how much that will effect us up here is hard to tell. The business Nestina works at seems to be hanging by a thread. Debbie's employer is showing signs of instability. My job is probably safe, but I'm not sure how much longer I can take sitting in this grey freakin' box banging on 30-year-old COBOL code. Maybe we will get lucky and all lose our jobs at the same time so we can just leave and go someplace warm.

That's it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Another quiet day at the Frost household. Debbie got home from her mom's about the same time I finally rolled in from work. We were both delayed by weather: the year's first snow storm. It was a pretty good one with a solid 10 inches on the ground this morning. I even considered putting the plow on the truck until I checked the ten-day forecast. It's supposed to be near-50 by the weekend, so I won't bother trying to move a bunch of wet snow on top of mud; we'll just drive over it until it melts. That seems to be the theory of the Kalkaska Road Commission as well; nothing had been plowed until I was on the highway. Most of the schools were closed, which I found amusing. So far this school year, there have been closings for fog, electrical outages due to high winds, and, in the case of the Drummond Island schools, high waves (a lot of the students ride the ferry to school). Now the first snow storm of the year has most of the schools in northeastern Michigan shut down again. If they keep canceling school at this rate, the little kiddies will be in school until the Fourth of July.

Anyway, the only thing I have from today's skim of the internet is a reminder that we all need to stop thinking in terms of retiring, and just face the reality that we will all be working until we fall over dead. We also need to accept that two-thirds of our paychecks will be taxed away to pay for the foolish promises made over the last 40 or so years. You can blame the unions, you can blame short-sighted corporate executives that caved into union demands they knew could never be fulfilled, you can blame the workers for expecting to be cared for like children in their old age, or you can blame all of the above. None of it matters; we will all pay dearly.

That's it for today.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Nestina and I cleaned house for a couple hours last night, then watched a couple movies. (Garage Days and Punisher). Neither of them was a really bad movie, but they didn't make an impression on me. I would consider them both worth a discount rental, but certainly not worth the price of a pair of theater tickets, nor would I bother to purchase them unless I found them in a bargain bin for less than $5. Debbie is supposed to be home sometime today, so I'll get the scoop on what is happening down-state. She tried to call me several times last night, but the connection was horrible at the house. I don't know if it was weather-related, or a network issue, but every single call I made or received was lost.

In any case, here is an article that gives a more-sympathetic view of the Paris rioters than I think they deserve. The author repeats the standard line that this has nothing to do with Islam; rather, it is frustration with racism and exclusion from modern life. I'd buy this except what is actually being asked for isn't better schools that assign lots of homework in really hard classes, but more welfare dollars and formalization of Islamic-only enclaves throughout France, including the formal establishment of Islamic law and, presumably, police and courts to enforce those laws. In other words, more of the earnings of non-Islamics flowing in, with no accountability, no attempt at assimilation, and most certainly no citizens loyal to France. This should sound familiar to anyone living in the United States, as it is the broad outline of any speech by any of our black "leaders." Allow me to repeat myself: this is not going away. This is not some minor disturbance by some pissy "young people." Not that I am trying to grant legitimacy to the French rioters, but remember that it was not dissimilar acts of vandalism that presaged our own revolution. And like the British in the 1770's, the French seem to think this can be contained by targeting a few malcontents, while completely missing the deeper cultural change, not to mention the demographic realities. (shrug) Western Civilization had a pretty good run of five centuries. In the grand scheme of history, that certainly doesn't shatter any records, but it is still better than most.

And that is all I have time for today.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Not much happened last night. I vegg'ed and Nestina worked. Debbie's mom is doing well with her physical therapy. Other than that, nothing to report.

Go read why some guy named Spengler thinks western governments fall apart. To be concise, Spengler says people get the government they vote into office. That may not sound like blinding insight, but it does seem to be completely outside the grasp of the average voter. America has become profoundly anti-intellectual over the last thirty years. In that time, we elected "Peanut" Carter, Ronny Raygun, "No New Lips" Bush, Bill "I didn't have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinski" Clinton, and Crusader Bush. Huh. I guess Spengler is right; you vote for what you are. In any case, it is certainly worth thinking about. It is probably worth thinking harder about countries where this isn't happening. There is no rule of the universe that says the United States will always be top dog, or that we even exist. I was discussing this very topic with my mother and a friend of hers. They asked if the cycle of history is so plain, why doesn't anyone learn from it? For the same reason there are stock market bubbles: every new nation or other group of humans thinks they are different than all that have gone before; that history has ended and the New Age has dawned. Well, I hate to be negative, but that hasn't happened in 10,000 years of human history, and this year isn't looking too good to change that record. Next year doesn't look much better.

Body guards have become SOP in Denmark for anyone with even a modest level of public exposure. You are reading it here first. The U.S. usually runs about 5-7 years behind Europe. Expect the same thing here no later than 2012.

And here are five questions non-Muslims would like answered by the leadership of the Religion of Peace (tm). I'll make another prediction (I'm getting to be a regular Nostradamus); the only response will be crickets chirping. There are a couple possibilities why that is. The most obvious is that we are being blatantly lied to about that whole Religion of Peace (tm) thing. The Peace'ers are just a front to lend legitimacy to murderers. Another possibility is that Islam is a morally bankrupt ideology. It has quicksand for foundations, thus no one has the moral authority to call murderers to task. In the end it hardly matters. No answers will be forthcoming, and the U.S. media will make excuses on behalf of the Muslims. (shrug)

How can anyone expect us to learn from history when we are not even capable of learning from current events?

That's it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

This will be short, but probably not very sweet.

We hosted the end-of-season all-night soccer party Friday night/Saturday morning. Other than a couple catnaps, I had no sleep from 5am Friday morning until 7pm Saturday evening. I'm getting to old for this, but the kids seemed to have had fun. We got some really good pictures from playing Twister, which, as everyone who has ever played knows, is nothing but a legitimization of extreme teen groping.

Debbie left for her mom's place Saturday afternoon. Her mom had knee surgery, so Debbie is down there helping her out. Once again, Nestina and I are on our own for a few days, so hot meals are appreciated.

Sunday was mostly a lazy day. I was going to do some work on the roof of the house, but the 75 mph wind gusts sort of put a stopper on those plans. It was probably just as well; I needed some serious downtime.

If you need to raise your blood pressure, go read this. Our economic system, and in fact our civilization, is based on the notion of people being able to reasonably assume that they will enjoy the fruits of their own labor. As this story shows, this is no longer the case. Understand, this is not a couple rogue conservators ripping off old people. This is a legitimate industry, operating fully within the law and with the active help of the courts, that seeks to seize the assets of the elderly without their knowledge or consent.

I gave up investing for retirement some time ago when I did the math and figured out that it is impossible to save enough money to outrun inflation. I was saving to the point of serious financial pain, and the money would have run out long before I died unless I worked until I was 80. Of course, now I don't have to worry about it; my diabetes will kill me long before retirement age. But in any case, what is the point of forgoing pleasure now to save for retirement, only to be declared incompetent in a three-minute court hearing you are not even informed of, and having your assets turned over to a complete stranger? According to the article, you get the attention of these vultures by having a lot of assets. So my response is don't have them. Spend all you have now and plan on working until you drop dead, because what inflation doesn't eat will be legally stolen from you by some random "person."

Fred Reed discusses the decline of the major media. Anyone with half a brain knows that the reason no one pays attention to network news or any of the major newspapers is that they refuse to talk about what people want to hear about. I haven't bothered with ABCNNBCBS in decades. I haven't touched a newspaper, other than the Northern Express, since I delivered them at age 12. I used to be a real NPR junky, but I grew tired of being told my political positions were stupid by people who are provably from the left side of the bell curve. If the whole lot of them disappeared tomorrow, I wouldn't notice. I suspect not many people under the age of 50 would.

Gotta go.

Friday, November 11, 2005

I didn't get home until after 8pm last night, but at least all the shopping is done for tonight. Or at least most of it is. I still have to pick up awards and some little "gee, thanks for playing" type gift for all the players. I feel completely unprepared for this thing; the days just go by one after the other and nothing ever gets done.

In political news, it looks like a teenager is the new mayor of Hillsdale, Michigan. Michael Sessions, a high school senior, beat out the incumbent mayor on a $700 write-in campaign. I'm sure the courts will figure out how to take this away from Sessions and give it to the incumbent. I mean, we can't have some smart-ass outsider, especially an 18-year-old one, getting himself elected. Just think what this could lead to; honest people that live in the real world getting elected to local office on a shoe-string budget, running a campaign based on issues instead of lies? Madness, I say!! Chaos!!


Pat Robertson has once again opened his mouth, which means the entire, world-wide Christian community is embarrassed. Pat's head is like some sort of intellectual black hole; nothing can escape being sucked in and disappearing without a trace. Not logic, not common sense, not sound theology, not even basic human compassion. This "man of God" is gleefully fantasizing about massive death and destruction because 51% of the voters in Dover decided to change the makeup of the local school board. Thanks, Pat, for contributing to the "secularization" of America by your tireless efforts to drive every rational person out of the church and away from God.

And I'm done.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Still not much going on at home other than cleaning up. Last night, the focus was on plowing through old receipts and getting bank accounts and credit card accounts caught up and reconciled. We spent over four hours at it, and got about two-thirds done. Not bad considering nothing has been touched since soccer started in August.

Good one from Jerry Pournelle's site:
President Bush May Send Up To 5 Marines For French Assistance

11/4/2005 - Shelby Trial

President Bush has authorized the Joint Chiefs to begin drawing up a battle plan to pull France's ass out of the fire again. Facing an apparent overwhelming force of up to 400 pissed off teenagers Mr. Bush doubts France's ability to hold off the little pissants. "Hell, if the last two world wars are any indication, I would expect France to surrender any day now", said Bush.

Joint Chiefs head, Gen. Peter Pace, warned the President that it might be necessary to send up to 5 marines to get things under control. The general admitted that 5 Marines may be overkill but he wanted to get this thing under control within 24 hours of arriving on scene. He stated he was having a hard time finding even one marine to help those ungrateful bastards out for a third time but thought that he could persuade a few women marines to do the job before they went on pregnancy leave.

President Bush asked Gen. Pace to get our marines out of there as soon as possible after order was restored. He also reminded Gen. Pace to make sure the marines did not take soap, razors, or deodorant with them. The least they stand out the better.

On a more serious note, even the military has noticed the obvious: Our inner-city schools do no good what so ever, and in fact inflict great harm on the students and our nation. The one problem I see is that the people leaving the urban schools are bringing the same attitudes and expectations to the rural schools that destroyed the urban schools in the first place. Two years ago, I did some research on Kalkaska schools, and, other than the absence of violent crime (give it a few years; that will be changing for the worse as well), they are as bad or worse than inner-city Detroit schools. But I'm sure the Army can recruit foreigners with promises of citizenship.

Sony continues to dig itself into a hole. I've more or less stopped buying music and movies anymore. The entire entertainment industry is simply offensive to me. I refuse to play. We gave up satellite years ago and we currently have zero reception, so no network stations. We watch a lot of movies, but most of those are either free from Nestina's work, 50-cent rentals from Family Video, or movies we already own. All my PC's are pre-DRM and I have no plans on replacing them anytime soon. Given what I use a PC for, all I need is something that can run a web browser, and if it wasn't for the whole blogging thing, I would probably cut that out of my life as well. I just find the whole thing tiresome, and I can't believe I am the only one.

And I will call that a day.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Not much going on at home other than getting ready for the end-of-season soccer party. Just a bunch of cleaning and planning. I need to get certificates printed up for MVP, Most Improved, etc. tonight after work. Tomorrow, we will do all the food shopping and last minute cleaning. After that, we should be good to go.

Paris is still on fire. Of course, Islam has nothing to do with it. It's just "youths." Denmark is also burning, as is Germany. But let me be perfectly clear; this is not about Islam. Islam is the religion of peace. We see that demonstrated everyday in Israel. This is all just "frustration."

I'm no psychotherapist (which, I am sure, comes as great news to mental patients everywhere), but there must be some sort mental disability that makes a person do and say stupid things, then celebrate the resulting ridicule as affirmation. This is ridiculous on so many levels, it defies analysis. Calling myself a Christian gets harder every day. Not because of persecution from "The World" (tm), but a desire to not affiliate myself with provable idiots.

That's all I have for now.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Busy weekend, but what's new. Debbie and I spent Friday evening through Saturday morning at Lake Ann Baptist Camp for their Camp Captains retreat. I was just extra baggage; Debbie is the one that organizes camp every year. But the food wasn't bad and the speeches weren't too boring and it is a nice camp.

Anyway, we got home around 2pm. All three of us kicked out some outdoor work. Nestina had to knock off to get ready for work around 3:30 and Debbie and I stopped shortly after. Not much got done, but at least some progress was made. We only have about two or three weekends left before snow moves in, so any little bit helps.

Sunday was just Sunday. Choir is starting up again. I'm not sure I really want to do it, but I don't seem to have a choice in these things. My voice is completely shot and a year of extensive medical treatment from two different doctors doesn't seem to be doing any good. In fact, it just gets worse from one week to the next. My range is down to less than two octaves, and on bad days (which is about 3 out of 5) I can't sing at all. About 1 day in 5, I can't even talk. None of which matters, of course. "Thou shalt be in choir." I think that is in 1 Opinions or something.

I don't know that I have ever bought anything from Sony, but I know for a fact I never will in the future. If a business owner that has been hit by this has brains and balls (a rare combination, to be sure), they will file charges under the various malware statutes that exist. This is a virus that intentionally damages a PC. IANAL, but I can't see how rendering a PC inoperative by inserting a CD could be legal. Of course, Sony is doing it, not some teenage hacker in his parents' basement. Sony, like Disney and Microsoft and Halburton and [insert any multinational corporation], owns Congress, the courts, and the President. Anything they do is, by definition, legal. Anything we do is, by definition, illegal.

The suburbs of Paris are burning. Here is the ABC News take on this. The media seem determined to ignore the story. But we have this thing called the internet. Jerry Pournelle and Fred Reed both have much to say about this. Expect the same thing to happen in black neighborhoods in our major cities sooner rather than later. "We want independence; just don't stop the welfare checks." I live a long way from the nearest black neighborhood. That is by design. And I can get even farther away in a matter of hours.

And enough for one day.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Slow week so far at the Frost household. Everyone is just working and sleeping. Let's hear it for the American dream.

I have never been a fan of the anti-abortion movement. Their methods are crude, counter-productive, and unbiblical, while the participants alternately drape themselves in the flag and the Bible (however one would go about draping oneself with a book...). This is one of the best refutations of anti-abortionism that I have ever read. Money quote spoken at an anti-abortion rally:
“Are you here because you really want to help the unborn?” my godfather asks. “Have you taken an unwed mother into your home? Fed her? Cared for her baby? Or are you here because this is where your friends are? Are you here to indulge in a comforting sense of moral superiority? Smug in your certitude you’re not going to hell?”


“We know there’s a hell because Jesus said there’s one. But we don’t know if anyone’s actually in it.”

Statistics from the Barna Group show that self-identified evangelicals get abortions at about the same rate as the general public. Maybe instead of political rallies, churches need to spend the time and effort to clean up their own house.

Or not. There are reasons for the decline in evangelical influence in day-to-day life, and you will find most of them inside the church. Get your hands on any of the video materials from the Barna Group and see for yourself.

Anyone that has been around this blog very long knows that I have no respect for or patience with black "culture." But even I am stunned by the open display of racism by black "leaders." I have nothing to say other than this:

Kweisi Mfume, you are a nigger. Wear the label with pride.

That's not racist, by the way. I'm just "pointing out the obvious."

Remind me again why I should have any respect for these people or anyone who follows them?

And I'm sure that is quite enough for a day.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Lying for God, Part 64,487

Will the ID crowd ever learn? Someone please explain to me where Christians are commanded to use lies and deception to advance God's Kingdom.
I tired and decidedly not a happy camper today, so this will be short.

I've added another new blog. It belongs to a Panda's Thumb contributor with whom I had a short correspondence. Good stuff from the Land Down Under.

And it's deja vu all over again. Can anyone say, "Donor fatigue?"

I found out this weekend that an aunt and uncle suffered a total loss of their home Florida to Wilma. It was a new, cash purchase that they had not been able to get insurance for due mainly to foot-dragging by the insurance companies. The sale was finalized after they left Florida this spring, meaning they didn't even stay one night in it before it was destroyed.

For decades, the airline industry has been in and out of bankruptcy court and begging for government hand-outs. Scott Adams clearly shows why this is, and, more importantly, why the major carriers should be allowed to collapse. Name any industry that treats its customers with such contempt.

Vox Day is often accused of being a sexist pig. Well, he is in good company because now Maureene Dowd is saying much the same thing. Of course, I'm sure it is still somehow all men's fault. I'm holding my breath waiting for the flood of apologies from the female flamers. OK, so I'm not really holding my breath. I'm not that stupid. Somehow all I expect to hear is a deafening silence from the screeching buzz saws. The bottom line is you can't fight biology.

And that's really all I can deal with today.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Last night did not go as planned, but I'm happy with the results. I was supposed to finish cleaning off the hard drive in the laptop, but instead I got caught up in house-cleaning mode. By the time Nestina came home from work, I was done with the basement and was doing a white tornado number on the main floor (free cookie to the first person that can Name That Product). She changed clothes and jumped in to help, and we kept at it until around midnight. Nestina curled up on one of the living room couches, and I did the same on the other. We were just talking and watching some random movie from Nestina's work. At some point we must have fallen asleep; luckily, a friend of Nestina's called on her cell phone around 2am so we both headed off to bed for the night.

Nothing really on tap for tonight. Nestina has plans with some friends, so I will do the pathetic loser thing and go eat out by myself, then head home for some serious book-reading, then bed. Please don't be jealous. Not everyone can live the high life.

I've added another "work" blog. This one is a lawyer. Funny stuff. I remember my days as a wage slave in an accounting firm. The quest for billable hours was the same, but it was a far more low-key environment than what she describes. I do remember tax season all-nighters. I often wonder how much penalty and interest my clients got nailed for because of the routine sleep deprivation.

I love Wiley Miller. I have no idea how close to real life his strip is, but Danae is a hoot. If he really has a daughter that is half as much fun as the cartoon version, he has my sympathy. One of the girls from my soccer team is just like her, except the cloths: my version of Danae dresses slightly preppy. I love her to death, but it can be frustrating to try to explain why something is just plain wrong when our "leaders" are such shining examples of post-modern amorality.

Jerry Pournelle has a short essay on the place tax-funded prizes can play in our country's technological development. This idea has always had a place in the aerospace industry, but Jerry asks, why should it be limited to one industry? I can think of a dozen prizes in the automotive, computer, telcom, construction, and health care industries without even working up a sweat. And it sure beats spending hundreds of billions of dollars and leaving our young men's bones to "bleach in these desert sands" trying to impose "democracy" on people who provably don't know what it is and wouldn't want it if they did. Assignment: name five goals you think a National Technology Goals Foundation should fund prizes for.

And that is all I have for today. With nothing really planned this weekend, I am hoping to get the place ready for winter. Ugh.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Not much to report from the Frost household. Debbie is still "working" in Hawaii. I spent last night in front of the computer sorting through digital photos in an attempt to free up enough disk space for all the photos Debbie will likely be bringing home. When we first got the digital camera, I stayed on top of things in terms of cleaning up the photos, doing rotations, killing red-eye, etc. Now I'm getting into some of the more-recent stuff and it is obvious that I have become a huge slacker. I just hope I can get done tonight and burn everything to a bunch of new CD's. I also have a lot of old stuff, like college papers, that I don't want to lose, but I don't need to keep them on a hard drive. I'll archive those off to CD and free up another gig or so. I wrote a lot of papers in my 18-month stint in college.

Other than that, not much other than a nice little optical illusion. Here is what you do:
  • If your eyes follow the movement of the rotating pink dot, you will only see one color, pink.
  • If you stare at the black + in the center, the moving dot turns to green.
  • Now, concentrate on the black + in the center of the picture. After a short period of time, all the pink dots will slowly disappear, and you will only see a green dot rotating if you're lucky!
There really is no green dot, and the pink ones really don't disappear. Given how easy our optical processing can be fooled, why is eye-witness testimony considered to be so definitive by the general public?

That's all folks.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Middle of the Road

I've always been of the opinion that reality is rarely, if ever, found at the extremes. I have been reading William G. Dever's book Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come From? In his introduction, Dever writes:
A word about methodology may be helpful, with particular reference to my task here - that of using archaeological evidence as a "control" (not "proof") in rereading the biblical texts. I would argue that there are at least five basic approaches to doing so, in a continuum from the right to the left. One can
  1. Assume that the biblical test is literally true, and ignore all external evidence as irrelevant.
  2. Hold that the biblical text is probably true, but seek external corroboration.
  3. Approach the text, as well as the external data, with no preconceptions. Single out the "convergences" of the two lines of evidence, and remain skeptical about the rest.
  4. Contend that nothing in the biblical text is true, unless proven by external data.
  5. Reject the text and any other data, since the Bible cannot be true.
In the following, I shall resolutely hold to the middle ground - that is to Approach 3 - because I think that truth is most likely to be found there.

This position is often held in contempt as the easy way out or waffling. But note that it requires more work, while constantly guarding against one of the most human of all tendencies; shoving data into existing mental pigeon-holes rather than letting the data speak for itself. Also note that the extremes (1. and 5.) involve the least work of all. Is extremism just a symptom of mental laziness?

Anyway, I'm about two-thirds the way through the book and am enjoying it thoroughly.
Nestina had some friends over for the night last night. I must have been pretty tired because I was able to go to sleep in spite of the non-stop giggling. Other than cooking the girls pizza rolls, I really didn't do much other than start sorting through the digital photos. We have never taken the time to weed out the really bad shots, rotate all of them so the top of the picture is the top of the picture, rename the files to something at least marginally meaningful, etc. I expect the process to go pretty quickly overall, even though we have some massive photo directories from some of the cruises. I need to get the laptop and the Xandros box talking to each other soon: the laptop is starting to get very tight on drive space. It's about five years old now, and only has a 9G hard drive. Having a 3 mega-pixel digital camera is eating that up at a pretty good clip, and I would really like to get a better digital with a 9 or 10 mega-pixel element. The one we have is several years old and is starting to act up. The problem is disk space; I just don't have enough and I can't justify the cost of a camera and drive space. I can't even justify the cost of a camera, but I'm afraid the one we have is just going to die one day. Ah well.

Not much in the news other than the implosion of the Bush White House. It's starting to feel like the Nixon administration again.

I have also added two new blogs: The Dilbert Blog and Mimi in New York. I love Scott Adams' take on blogging (from Dilbert Newsletter 61.0):

When I see news stories about people all over the world who are experiencing hardships, I worry about them, and I rack my brain wondering how I can make a difference. So I decided to start my own blog. That way I won't have time to think about other people.

People who are trying to decide whether to create a blog or not go through a thought process much like this:

  1. The world sure needs more of ME.
  2. Maybe I'll shout more often so that people nearby can experience the joy of knowing my thoughts.
  3. No, wait, shouting looks too crazy.
  4. I know - I'll write down my daily thoughts and badger people to read them.
  5. If only there was a description for this process that doesn't involve the words egomaniac or unnecessary.
  6. What? It's called a blog? I'm there!
The blogger's philosophy goes something like this:

Everything that I think about is more fascinating than the crap in your head.

The beauty of blogging, as compared to writing a book, is that no editor will be interfering with my random spelling and grammar, my complete disregard for the facts, and my wandering sentences that seem to go on and on and never end so that you feel like you need to take a breath and clear your head before you can even consider making it to the end of the sentence that probably didn't need to be written anyhoo.

And that's it.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Nearly Everyone in Kalkaska is Dead

Today, the 2,000th soldier died in Iraq. For perspective, the population of the Village of Kalkaska in July, 2004 was 2,222.

For what?

"But if we find we have left our bones to bleach in these desert sands for nothing, beware the fury of the legions...." (A Roman Centurion in a letter home from North Africa, 3rd Century)

Anyone in Washington listening?
I got a call from Debbie around 10:30pm last night. She is safe in Hawaii. We didn't have much time to talk about anything else.

The Wilma aftermath is here, here, and here.

And not much else to say. My sleep schedule is so jerked around right now, I feel like a complete zombie.

The N-word Rocks!

Not that n-word, but the one I have been gratuitously slapping all over these pages recently to see how much I can jack up my page hits. It obviously works given that these are the top ten search terms (with the n-word obscured to maintain the integrity of my "experiment") that people used to get to this blog:

n*de girls
n*de women
n*de boys (Michael Jackson fans?)
"What my vote means to me"
"vox day"
n*de beaches
n*de in public

If I ever decide to blog for a living, I think I just found a viable business model.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Well, fall soccer season is over. My girls lost 1-0 Saturday in the only game of the day. The third team backed out, so we played one game, full 40-minute halves, with free substitution. I had really hoped to win our last game with it being at home and all, but our offense is still developing. Several of the girls mentioned playing indoor soccer during the winter, which would certainly beef up the passing and trapping skills. However, I don't know if there will be enough interest for a team as most of the girls are involved in other things over the winter. In any case, it was fun and I think we had a far better season than our record reflects. There are several of the younger girls that didn't have much playing time in the past that are really starting to find their place on the field. They have several more seasons to play, and I expect to see good things in the future.

That was pretty much the weekend. Sunday was a very lazy day as we knew we had to drag ourselves out of bed at 3am today. Debbie flew out of Traverse City at 6am today on her way to Hawaii. I, of course, am stuck here in the cold. Being a travel agent may not pay as well as being a computer geek, but I have yet to be sent to Hawaii for "work." Not that I'm bitter or anything....

That means that Nestina and I are on our own for over a week. I hope the microwave doesn't break, or we could starve to death. We will gladly accept care packages containing hot meals, assuming anyone can find our house.

Anyway, after scrubbing the Yucatan peninsula down to bare rock, and rinsing thoroughly with 4 feet of rain, Wilma is now returning the southern third of Florida to the sea. After the series of hurricanes over the last couple of years, I assume most structures will survive the wind, but this puppy is dumping some serious water. Back in the old, unenlightened days, people in hurricane-prone areas built with cinder block and concrete. You may lose the entire contents of your house in a flood, but it was unlikely there would be structural damage. Now, of course, everyone builds with wood and drywall. Sure, you can make stick-built houses wind-proof, but nothing you do will keep them from being destroyed by water, and Wilma seems to be pumping a lot of water.

I've been accused in the past of being sexist and racist, so what I am about to say will probably get me into trouble. But, given the last few months, why stop now? Anyway, a black rapper can advocate killing whites, rape, and killing cops and the "leaders" in the black "community" are either silent or openly defend them. But let a couple no-name teen-age white girls, that, prior to getting free national publicity from ABC News, were unheard-of outside a small circle of fans, espouse white nationalist views, and we have the NAACP getting all broken-hearted over "those two girls spewing out that kind of garbage." Where is the heart-break over two-thirds of all black children being bastards? Where is the heart-break over the leading cause of death of black males 16-25 being black males 16-25? Where is the heart-break over the 50% illiteracy rate in Detroit's black neighborhoods? Where is the heart-break over the majority of blacks being unable to speak standard English? Oh. Sorry. I forget that we can't criticize those things: they are part of "Black Culture."

In any case, flame all you want; it won't change the facts.

A tip for Pat Robertson, who I am sure checks this blog every day. When you find yourself on the sharp end of Wiley Miller's humor, it's time to rethink your message, Pat. Or not. Frankly the secular world never tires of the endless humor you provide. You do, however, tend to irritate your fellow-believers, and have likely driven more people away from God than anyone since Tammy Faye.

And last, but certainly not least, Fred Reed takes on the modern prohibitionists at M.A.D.D. I've long considered M.A.D.D. another example of an organization that has outlived its usefulness. When it all started back when I was in high school, they had a point. Most states had ridiculously-high thresholds for being considered driving drunk, and many had little or no escalation for repeat offenders. So M.A.D.D. lobbied for reforms, and got them. Then the real agenda took over, to the point where they have entered the Land of the Bizarre, with M.A.D.D. insisting that it's OK to arrest people who are not even near their vehicles for being "impaired." While Fred compares driving-while-drunk with driving-while-PMS'ing, I've usually gone the safer route and compared it to driving-while-old. I know for a fact that my reaction times right now at 40 years old are substantially slower than they were when I was 20. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that the average 20-year-old could out-perform me on any standardized driving test while legally intoxicated. Don't even get me started on my 91-year-old grandfather that still has a valid drivers license. Now I realize my reaction times aren't as good and I compensate by giving myself more room, being more cautious on unfamiliar roads, and just generally not pushing the envelope when I drive. And, to argue the flip side, a 20-year-old is involved in more accidents per miles driven in spite of their faster reaction time due to a lack of driving experience and common sense. However the fact remains: if we as a society are going to buy the line that a person that has been drinking can be put in jail because he might drive a vehicle at some point in the near future, why do we not do the same for people who are visibly angry, depressed, old, or PMS'ing? After all, the ultimate in safe driving is no one driving.

Anyway, I'm calling it quits real soon. I started work at 5:30 this morning, so I'm scooting out early.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I forgot to add a postscript to my rant about Walgreen. The post office does not deliver packages to my house because we live on a seasonal road and they are forbidden by federal law (so we were told) from driving down a seasonal road. [Aside: After jerking us off for several years, the county road commission informed us that they were forbidden by state law from improving our road, then told us we were forbidden by state law from improving it ourselves because we would be taking work away from the unionized county road workers who were not working on our road. Seems to be a lot of laws that prevent government employees from doing anything or private citizens from working around their inert bodies.] Our mail box is at the end of our road, and anything that doesn't fit results in one of those little pink notes to come pick something up at the post office. When Nestina picked up my box of (damaged, piss warm) insulin, the clerk gave her a phone number and asked her to call with directions to our road. Nestina wasn't familiar with the road names out by us, so she asked me to call. Now understand, I'm thinking there has to be some sort of miscommunication. How could the post office that delivers mail to my mailbox six days a week not know where my road is?

Well, it turns out that was exactly what the post office wanted to know: how to get from the post office to my road. It seems little fairies have been delivering my mail, because the post office had no clue where we live.


I asked them why it mattered where our house was when they couldn't deliver packages anyway. The clerk mumbled something about "express packages" and "Traverse City." So I am now of the understanding that if you send something to us Express Mail, the Traverse City post office will drive it over to our house. Or something. I'm not really clear on the details, but then neither is the post office. Universal symmetry is maintained.

Remember, these are the same people that know better than you how to educate your children, what you should and should not watch on your TV, and how your house should be built.

I wonder if there is a form of plastic surgery that will make my eyes look oriental. Then when the Chinese take over, I can claim I am a long-lost cousin of Yao Ming.
Not much going on in the Frost household other than the normal chaos. The floor guys finished up Wednesday, so we have been trying to find where we stuffed everything from the two floors of the house they were working on and put things back together. The floors look great; everything turned out perfect. It better; it cost us half what we paid for the log kit we built the house from. Anyway. Last night was the last soccer practice of the season. We played around more than we practiced. I figure at this point that if they don't know what they are supposed to do, a couple hours of kicking a soccer ball around isn't going to help.

I was sent another article that sort of follows up on my posts from the last couple of days. It was written by the president of the University of Vermont. Money quote:
On a tour of Tsinghua's main library, I came upon one of many crowded reading rooms, this one so long that the side walls seemed to converge in the distance, as in an art school exercise in perspective. A center aisle divided two ranks of library tables receding down the long vista, eight seats at each table, almost every seat occupied by a student deep in study, at least 400 silently absorbed in books, writing in notebooks.

There lay the future: focused, determined, intense, inevitable.
As I said, the Chinese know they are behind and are determined to make up lost ground. Meanwhile, in the West we have Political Correctness and anarcho-tyranny. We have exceptions to the general lack of accomplishment, but "[a]lthough South River lies just eight miles from Annapolis, it sometimes seems far from the center of the educational universe in Anne Arundel. Bigger schools with better sports teams grab more headlines.

Now it all becomes clear. Our schools suck at educating our children because their primary purpose is to provide sports teams. Got it. Meanwhile, the first module of China's space station is performing flawlessly. I have this insatiable urge to learn Mandarin.

And that is all I have time for today. I want everyone to note that I made it through an entire blog post without using the word "nude."


Thursday, October 20, 2005

My hit counts continue to be high, and most of them are new visitors. The same 15-20 people who hit this place on a regular basis are still there, but they have been joined by dozens drawn by my gratuitous use of the word "nude" in my posts. I guess I will stop and see what happens to my numbers. I'm guessing that when "nude" stops appearing in my posts, my 28-day rolling average will drop back to around 18 where it has been since I started tracking it.

More on IQ, college graduation rates, etc.

First, I was sent a link to the article I mentioned yesterday published on a different (and free) web site. I'm surprised that the Times thinks it can charge for a column that is being given away at other newspaper sites. Do they really believe that they add that much value just by having it posted on their web site that I will pay for it?

Anyway, the column is mostly observations and not much on conclusions other than this is important and we really need to understand what is going on here, and stop crucifying those who dare suggest that not every human being has exactly the same innate abilities. To recap, the column discusses the growing gap in the number of female-to-male college graduates. Females do better in grade school, and seem to stick with college and graduate in higher numbers than males. Over-all, the ratio is 133 females for every 100 males (with the ratio being 200 black females for every 100 black males). Give what we know about the various bell curves involved, combined with what we know is necessary to function in science, math, and engineering, you would think we as a society might want to take a hard look at what is going on and why it is happening.

Brooks gives a lot of data, some of which conflicts with what I have seen from other places. But nothing he presents changes the conclusions drawn by many others that have been beat down by the PC police (Larry Summers being just the latest in a long line). Rather than beat a patch of grass where a dead horse used to be, I'll just pick a few sound bites out:

"...kindergarten teachers report that girls are more attentive than boys and more persistent at tasks. Through elementary school, girls are less likely to be asked to repeat a grade. They are much less likely to be diagnosed with a learning disability."

Of course: boys need to be forced to pay attention, while girls are, in general, less willful. No parent would be surprised by this. We have removed the ability of our schools to force little boys to pay attention to the teacher, so they are diagnosed as learning disabled and drugged. Nothing new here.

"In high school, girls get higher grades in every subject, usually by about a quarter of a point, and have a higher median class rank. They are more likely to take advanced placement courses and the hardest math courses and are more likely to be straight-A students. They have much higher reading and writing scores on national assessment tests. Boys still enjoy an advantage on math and science tests, but that gap is smaller and closing."

So the girls are more likely to sign up for AP classes or advanced math classes, but fail to do as well as the boys do. Given what I have observed in the Kalkaska schools, I would guess that more girls sign up for AP classes due to a teacher or school counselor telling them to,while more boys sign up because they are genuinely interested in the subject matter. Girls, in general, tend to be more compliant to authority figures.

Here is also where I take issue with Brooks' data. Every comparative study I have seen of standardized tests shows boys out front in both verbal and math/science scores. The gap is far less on the verbal than on math and science, but boys still have the advantage. That information may be out of date. If it is, I'd like to see some sources for this.

"Girls are much more likely to be involved in the school paper or yearbook, to be elected to student government and to be members of academic clubs."

In other words, girls are better socializers. Again, I'm not sure what this has to do with academic success nor can I think of a single parent that doesn't know this. As a test, monitor the phone usage of a teenage girl vs. a teenage guy. Compare the number of calls made and received, the length of the calls, and "bit rate." See if you detect any patterns.

"They [girls] set higher goals for their post-high-school career."

That's nice. But do they achieve those goals? One of the guys that graduated from our church's youth group told anyone who asked that he wanted to own a junk yard after he graduated from high school. Not a very lofty goal by today's standards, but he achieved it, and by the looks of things, he is a very successful junk yard owner. Compare that to the girls I started college with who enrolled in computer science only to wind up as education majors or in the newly-formed "Women's Studies" (renamed soon after to "Womyn's Studies) when they cracked their skulls on the first real math class or computer language lab. All the guys I knew (including me) all had jobs related to their major by their sophomore year and dropped out of college soon after.

"Women are more likely to enroll in college and they are more likely to have better applications,"

Because colleges look at all the social stuff like being on twenty different committees or involved in a dozen clubs. Teacher recommendations are also important and who is a (most always female) teacher more likely to write a letter of recommendation for? The girl in class that never speaks out of turn and never argues with the teacher, or the guy that sits in the back of the class being a jerk?

"If boys like to read about war and combat, why can't there be books about combat on the curriculum?"

Because we have feminized not just our schools, but our entire culture. Boys must play with Barbie dolls because boys running around pretending to shoot things or wrestling on the playground upsets the pretty blond heads that now run our schools. Boys must read books where all the characters cooperate because competition is evil and may result in someone doing better than someone else. So we bore them to death until they can't take it anymore and start acting out, then we drug them into submission.

"Would elementary school boys do better if they spent more time outside the classroom and less time chained to a desk?"

As a general rule, yes. Again, ask any parent. A significant number of our girls would benefit from this as well.

"Or would they thrive more in a rigorous, competitive environment?"

As a general rule, yes. Again, ask any parent.

"...honest discussion of innate differences has been stifled (ask Larry Summers)."


And just to add to that, here is a discussion over on Jerry Pournelle's site about IQ and what it means for education. Jerry hits it dead on with "God and the Universe are not designed to change facts in order to relieve me of stress." It does not matter one bit if people are uncomfortable discussing the differences in ability (whether we are talking IQ, standardized tests, g, or any of a dozen other measures) between genders and between races. As a society, we must have the discussion and it must happen sooner rather than later. Or we can all start learning Chinese, because I guarantee they don't give a damn about political correctness. China is way behind and knows it. The difference is that they are running hard and closing in on our lead, while we repeatedly shoot ourselves in the feet.

And from the Law is an Ass files, we have three perfect examples of what is meant by the term anarcho-tyranny:

What is an accident?
Jail time for $1.16 in back taxes
Cheerleaders or prostitutes?

More on obesity here. Greg Cochran says that many things we consider to be hereditary are actually infectious diseases. He has been proven right far more often than wrong. It is also important to note that, like intelligence, the question of heredity vs. disease vs. environment is most likely "all of the above in varying proportions depending on a few dozen other variables."

Bob Thompson takes on Fred Reed's latest column on evolution. He includes one of the best explanations of a fact vs. a theory I have ever seen:

The ID folks sneer at Evolution as being "only a theory", with the implication that the theory is unproven and therefore their ID garbage is just as likely an explanation, if not more so. In science, a theory is the next best thing to a fact. A fact, in case anyone is unclear about the terminology, is something that has been observed. That the sun rose this morning is a fact. That the sun will rise tomorrow is a theory. Sadly, the vast majority of the public doesn't understand the difference. If asked, they would state with certainty that the sun rising tomorrow is a fact. And the ID zealots play upon this ignorance.

A theory must be falsifiable by observation. If the sun doesn't rise tomorrow morning, our theory is falsified. We, as scientists, discard that theory and propose another theory that fits observed facts. If the sun does rise tomorrow morning, it proves our theory that the sun would rise tomorrow morning, but it does not prove our extended theory that the sun will rise on each successive morning. But, as the sun continues to rise each morning, that provides another observed datum. As the sun continues to rise, morning after morning, for hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, of mornings, that adds additional weight to our theory. But our theory remains only a theory, not a fact. It can be falsified very simply by the sun not rising one morning.

Evolution is just such a theory, supported by the weight of a huge number of observed facts, all of which support the theory. Not one observed fact, ever, has falsified evolution theory. If one had, we'd be looking for a new theory.
Now, I know that most of the people in the Intelligent Design movement have to know and understand this. Many have college degrees, and a few even have scientific degrees. So when I see them using words like "theory" incorrectly, I can only assume that they are lying and know that the majority in their audience won't catch them. Show me in the Bible where we are instructed to lie to fellow-believers to further the Kingdom of Heaven?

And that's it for today. Our last soccer practice is tonight. I hope the entire team shows up so we can really kick some butt on Saturday.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Having the word "nude" in my posts continues to boost my hit count from first-time visitors. Gotta love that.

Oh, and before I forget, "debbie's boob job". There. That ought to do it.


Not much going on at home other than trying to keep out of the floor installer guys' way. Last night, my dad and I had to fix the stairs going up to the master suite. I've never liked the way it "felt" walking up and down those stairs. The floor installer put a level on them yesterday and found out why: the whole staircase was tilted down. Every step dropped about 3/8" from back to front. So that took up all of last night. I was very tired for some reason, so we went to bed early. That's pretty much our life.

The floors should be completely done today. The next step is getting the doors in and trimmed out so we can put down baseboard molding, then start working on trimming out the windows. I'll probably make a major Home Depot run at some point and pick up one of those small table saws and a good power miter. There is a lot of detail work at this point, and I'd prefer to have decent tools so I don't make a complete hash of it.

Not much really caught my eye while skimming my usual internet sources. It looks like the Year of the Natural Disaster continues. We have Wilma heading towards Florida, and Pakistan is still trying to deal with the aftermath of the earthquake there. I just realized today that I had not mentioned the earthquake since it happened. I guess I'm just getting "disaster fatigue" or something. In any case, you can read all about it here, here, here, here, and here. Wilma went from a tropical storm to a Cat 5 in 24 hours, but it isn't expected to stay at that strength for long. Currently, it is expected to be "only" a Cat 2 by the time it hits Florida. What can I say? What can anyone say except "Hold on; here we go again!" If I ever end up living in a hurricane-prone area (and the more I grow to hate winter, the more likely that becomes) I won't own anything I can't pack up and drive off with, including whatever I live in. In any case, for those that enjoy watching train wrecks, this is where you want to hang out for the next 48 hours.

I received an e-mail today about David Brooks' editorial "Mind Over Muscle" in the New York Times. In it, he discusses that girls do better in many respects in school than boys do. I can't get to the article because it is hidden behind TimesSelect, the latest attempt by a newspaper to charge for access to its web page. But I am pretty sure Brooks is making the same observations I made back in May here and here. I have no idea what conclusions he may come to: I don't know that I have ever read his editorials. But just to reiterate my position: the male and female bell curves have the same median, but different shapes. Our schools, and more and more our colleges as well, are doing two things that favor females. One is that typical male behavior is now considered a mental illness and is treated with a class of drugs that have been known to cause brain damage in pre-pubescent children for forty years. The second is that our schools are geared towards those that fall near the median (say, 95 to 105 IQ). Those left behind (largely male) drop out and become our criminal underclass. Those bored to death (again, largely male) disrupt the classroom until they are drugged into submission and mediocrity. These are our future aerospace engineers, computer chip designers, scientists, etc. I would think it important to consider just what the hell we are doing. Or not. I'm set, and to be selfish, I'm more than happy to have the competition eliminated before they even get out of the starting gate. But I will be dead in 20 or 30 years; anyone planning on living longer may want to give this some thought.

I was also e-mailed a copy of an editorial from a Tampa newspaper on immigration and assimilation. Whenever this topic comes up, I notice a failure to distinguish between illegal and legal immigration, and refuges (who may be here legally or illegally). The editorial focuses on the PC yapping that we offend immigrants with our customs. I will take the points one at a time and respond to them based on my experience and the numerous immigrants I have known.

"...if you wish to become part of our society, learn the language!"

I've never met an immigrant that didn't think it important to learn English. No one fights against Spanish-language instruction harder than immigrant parents who know from bitter experience that a lack of English skills closes far too many doors. If this is meant as some sort of diatribe against those that speak English with an accent, then all I can say is that I am far more concerned about blacks born and raised in the United States that are less capable of speaking standard English than someone fresh off the plane from China.

That's not to say that there are not enclaves along our southern boarder where Spanish is the primary language. But again, one must distinguish between legal immigrants that have made a decision to move here and become part of the United States, and illegal immigrants who largely are here to earn American dollars to take back home with them. The first group will work hard to learn English, and their kids will speak standard English without a problem. The second group has no reason to learn any English above what they are forced to learn. I'm not concerned that this group does not know English; I am concerned that they are here at all.

"'In God We Trust' is our national motto. This is not some Christian, right wing, political slogan. We adopted this motto because Christian men and women, on Christian principles, founded this nation, and this is clearly documented."

Here, the writer is either hoping his audience is ignorant, or is displaying his own. Some of this nation's founders did indeed self-identify as "Christian" although I doubt their theology would be allowed within 100 miles of any modern, evangelical church. But many, including the most prominent, were most certainly not Christians as they denied the deity of Jesus. Thomas Jefferson published his own version of the Gospels that excluded Jesus' miracles and all mention of Jesus' deity. Thomas Payne wrote devastating critiques of the Bible that concluded the whole thing was a fraud. Samuel Adams was a brewer, so you know he was a Satan-worshipper. No self-respecting evangelical church would allow a beer-drinker through the door, not alone someone that brewed the stuff. George Washington was a deist, and so on. Our nation was founded on common law and an intentionally secular government.

And "In God We Trust" is indeed a right-wing political slogan added to our currency in the early 1900's, just as "under God" was a right-wing political slogan added to our pledge in the 1950's. And I have yet to find an immigrant offended by either one. I find a lot of American-born PC police having a problem with them and trying to use offence of immigrants as the excuse for removing them, but not immigrants themselves.

"If Stars and Stripes offend you..."

Again, I have to wonder if the writer has ever laid eyes on an immigrant. Personally, I find flag-wavers to be offensive, but not because of the flag per se, but because the person waving it invariably uses patriotism as an excuse to violate the free-speech rights of anyone they disagree with. But I have never met an immigrant of any stripe that is offended by our national flag. In fact it seems ludicrous to suggest that a legal immigrant that has likely spent years jumping through bureaucratic hoops to get here, or a political refugee that likely risked their life to flee political persecution to seek refuge here, would then complain about something as trivial as a piece of cloth. Only coddled Americans bother to get their panties in a twist over such things. However, I'm sure many of the foreign-born would recognize the kind of person that would write such a editorial, and be disturbed by the similarity to people they just left.

And I should have known that Snopes would have something on this. It wasn't an editorial in a Tampa newspaper, it was a letter to the editor of a local Georgia newspaper. I also find it interesting (and somewhat disturbing) that a Google search turned up thousands of sites uncritically posting this piece.

And that is really all I have time for.

Monday, October 17, 2005

It pays to be perverted, I guess. My second highest hit count for one day was Friday. Almost all the traffic was new visitors searching for "nude" or "nude girls". The only day that has drawn more hits was when I was blogging about people searching on "debbie's boob job". I wonder if I could keep my hit count high by just incorporating the words "nude" and "boob" into my posts every day.

I also get a chuckle from where these people come from. Don't tell me we can't destroy radical Islam with massive porn air-dropped over Mecca. The most irresistible force in the universe is a man's desire to view naked people.

Anyway, this Saturday, my girls lost two more (1-0 and 3-0). Defensively, we are doing great, but we can't get our offense to work. Everyone knows what to do and where to move on the field, but our passing and traps need a lot of work. We have a drill for that and we will be running it for the majority of practice tonight. We ended up playing the same team twice in a row because the other team never showed. Next week, we will be playing the same two teams on our field for our last games. I would love to win both of them. I think we can, if we really buckle down.

One more week and soccer is over. I wonder what I will find to do with all my spare time?

Vox Day has a new column up in defense of polygamy. Anyone who reads Vox regularly may find that a bit odd, but he makes a good point. I have never understood the criticism of gay marriage on the grounds that it will lead to polygamy. News flash: the Bible allows for polygamy. And, as Vox points out, polygamy has been the norm for all of human history except for here and now. A reversion to polygamy would simply be a return to normal.

Of course, I have stated many times that this whole marriage debate would not be happening if the Western churches would not have made a deal with Satan and given government control over marriage.

Maybe more later, but probably not. I have to take off early because of soccer practice tonight. I don't expect a big turnout as it is currently pouring down rain and about 50 degrees F. Maybe the rain will blow over by 5pm and it will just be cold.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Last night was a very light practice as almost no one was there. That didn't really surprise me much. Our practices are supposed to be at 5pm, but there was a varsity game scheduled for the same time, so I moved practice back to right after school. That knocks out a lot of people that have other commitments, plus we have a couple out with injuries. As of this moment, I have exactly 11 reasonably healthy people for Saturday with two back-to-back games. I expect the girls to be some tired puppies on the way home.

The guys varsity team lost 3-2. The teams were pretty evenly matched, although Kalkaska looked a little flat in the first half. There were a couple goofy things going on off the field. The Boosters were trying to charge admission. I didn't even realize it until after the game when I saw the sign. Oops. I know I didn't pay, and I'm pretty sure that no more than a handful of the other spectators did. You can park and walk up to the field from any direction, so I'm sure that most of the people were unaware that they were supposed to pay. The second weird thing was the cheerleading squad. They were 20 minutes late for the game, did no cheering whatsoever, and in fact from what I could tell, were barely aware that there was even a game going on. I finally made some sarcastic comment at some point in the second half and was told they didn't know any cheers. OK, just how much practice does it take to be on-time for the game, face the field, pay at least partial attention to what is going on, and, even if you are completely ignorant of the game, yell and clap when everyone else does? And why have they not learned even a generic Kalkaska Blazers cheer over the last two months?

In any case, that took up most of the night. Progress on the floors in the house continues and I've decided that I really like it. It is going to look very nice when it is done. It already looks nice. Most of the work on the main floor should be done today, which means that in addition to the road trip for soccer on Saturday, we also have to do some major moving to clear the upstairs and Nestina's bedroom.

Other than that, not much on the home front.

I found a new web site that seems interesting via one of those internet friend-of-a-friend things. I haven't had much time to read through the articles, but I will certainly be doing so over the next few weeks. Everyone has a tendency to romanticize certain points in their personal or even human history. That is largely harmless, until you start basing major chunks of your public policy on what is essentially pure fantasy.

Jerry Pournelle opens himself up to serious assault by the PC police. He doesn't say anything that hasn't been known as fact for decades, but we all know what you can't say, and who you can't say it about. The money quote:
...if you sort people by IQ into "training schools," "general education," and "educational schools," with sorting points around IQ 85 and 115, fully half the black students will be in the "training schools," and almost all the rest will be in the general education pool. There will be some blacks in the "educational schools" and those who get there will do as well as their white and Asian companions, but anyone would be able to tell which school was what merely by looking at the student population.
Which, of course, is the one fact that can never be spoken. Only now it has been. Expect to see Dr. Pournelle branded a racist, and attempts made to have him silenced. That is nearly impossible in the age of the internet, and is impossible with someone with the credentials, standing, and resources of Dr. Pournelle. I'm certain the attempt will be made anyway.

The new rage in London is nude nightclubbing. I've said it before and I'll say it again: nude beaches, "nude night" at museums, nude nightclubbing, nude game shows, and all the rest, only proves that the vase majority of people on this earth really, really need to cover up.

And now it's time to get back to work.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Before I start in on people I would like to kill today, here is an interesting experiment that was done by MIT students. The story behind the experiment is that in 212 BC, Archimedes was able to set fire to enemy ships a bow shot away from shore with a "burning glass." It has been assumed that he used some sort of parabolic mirror. It has also been further assumed that it was impossible for a mirror large enough to be constructed with the correct shape to raise wood to the burning point (approximately 1100 degrees F) in 212 BC. The students went a different direction: using 127 1-foot-square mirror tiles, they were able to set oak on fire from 100 feet away. That isn't much of a "bow shot," but it is proof of the feasibility of the concept. It is also important to realize that there are materials that would likely be part of a sailing ship from 212 BC that would ignite much easier than oak. As well, the temperature of surfaces being exposed to the concentrated sunlight would be unbearable for the crew long before ignition, not to mention that anyone that looked in the direction of the mirrors would be blinded.

Now on to the main point of my post. I have Priority Health insurance. They are idiots. That is not surprising; after all we are talking about a "health" insurance company. I have been disgusted on a number of occasions when they refuse to fill a prescription because they don't feel I need it, or something else (usually over-the-counter) would work just as well. Of course we all know this has nothing to do with the money, they're just concerned for my health. It says so right in their corporate mission statement, so it must be true.

More disturbing, at least to me, is the policy they have that triples the cost of a prescription unless I buy it mail-order from Walgreen. Now I learned in school that this sort of differential pricing was illegal under anti-trust law, but I'm sure that, as usual, there is a loophole for the medical industry to slither through. Until recently, I just paid the extra, preferring to deal with an actual pharmacist, until the co-pay was increased to such an extent that I simply could no longer afford to. So I have been using Walgreen for pills, but not for my insulin. There have been problems, most notably that we are not told when there is trouble with a prescription (not available, or rejected by insurance); it just isn't in the box when it shows up. I usually keep extra on hand just for such times.

Well, this last time I took the plunge. My insulin is finally available in a pen injector (supposed to be easier; more on that in a bit) so I had my doctor write up the prescription the way Walgreen wants it and sent it in. The first sign of trouble was a voice mail at work from Walgreen about my "incomplete information." I wasn't sure just what the problem was as the operator was some ebonics-speaking lip-slapper from some place in the third-world like Detroit. I called and was told that they needed to find out what gauge of needle I needed for the pen injector. I've never used a pen injector in my life, so I told the "pharmacist" what I am currently using. It only took me repeating the same thing four times for him to get it.

That was Thursday. Saturday, I had a voice mail on my cell phone (again, in unintelligible ebonics) about my "incomplete order" and a toll-free number. When I called the number, a hyper-active recorded voice announced that I was being given the opportunity of a lifetime to be part of an exiting new business opportunity. Huh. I thought I was calling a pharmacy, not an Amway distributor. I called the toll-free number I had for Walgreen and sure enough, Priority had rejected one of my prescriptions because they felt an over-the-counter drug would work better. Further, my Avandamet was still unavailable. Earlier this year, the feds stop production of a couple GlaxoSmithKline drugs because of "concerns," but supposedly, everything was all better now. Guess not. Great.

The rest of my order had been shipped Thursday and the post office left us the little note in our mailbox to come pick it up at the post office. The problem was that they were closed for the weekend, and wouldn't be open again until Tuesday. Because of these job things we all have combined with a post office that is only open about 6 hours a day, it was Wednesday before I got the package. With a big sticker on top that said "Refrigerate immediately upon receipt." Damn. The insulin. It was packed in an insulated bag with a couple cold packs, but of course by this time it was piss-warm.

Well, it didn't really matter because by last night, I had been out of insulin for five days and my blood sugar was hovering around 600. So I grabbed the pen injector kit, a cartridge of insulin, and the box of needles.

OK, so maybe I'm dense or something, but I can't for the life of me figure out what is supposed to be easier about a pen injector. The "quick-start" guide folds out to a 2-foot by 3-foot poster. I could have loaded up a needle and stuck it in my ass about 20 times in the same amount of time it took me to go through the "Safety Check." (I also wonder about using a medical device that has to be put through a safety check prior to each use, but I digress.) Some of that is surely due to unfamiliarity, but that certainly isn't all of it. But the worst part was when I tried to thread on a needle. They didn't fit.

Walgreen had sent me the wrong damn needles.

So today I was two hours late for work so I could sit in the parking lot outside my real pharmacist waiting for him to open. Luckily I still had a valid script for my insulin. Sixty dollars later, I had an ordinary vial of insulin and some ordinary needles.

So in one drug order, we have (1) perishables shipped so they arrive on a holiday weekend, (2) some pencil-necked MBA who has never laid eyes on me overriding my doctor's prescription, (3) one med that is not available because of the FDA (or maybe it is; no one seems to really know), (4) and the wrong needles for the insulin cartridges that were shipped in the same package.

I've never had much good to say about the medical industry, especially now that I'm part of it. Thanks to all involved in this little fiasco for confirming my worst opinions.

And I'm done. We have early soccer practice followed by a varsity guys game tonight.