One World Divided

19.33.49 - Mark

Tomorrow there's going to be a 1000-man rally tomorrow in Dobson, NC about some of the immigration issues that are swirling around in our nation's political cesspool - and the local congress critter is anti-imigration/pro-"national security" in a big way.

I've been against the mentality of closing up our borders and allowing the government to monitor citizens' actions because I haven't seen the evidence that it protects us. I dislike the idea that this nation is no longer a shelter for the best minds of the world - those who question the government are condemned and their legitimante concerns are muted while those that want to push the border of human achievement are not allowed to do so.

More recently, I've been feeling that this nation isn't. In the broader picture it seems like this nation is divided in so many trivial ways it has stepped over the line of sickening. Religious individuals think they're the minority while the athiests and agnositcs claim the same title. Republicans and Democrats battle as if there's no tomorrow. Racial and ethic cultures clash internally while they all clamor against the foreigners.

In this day and age when its just as likely for me to hear about the latest news from Eurasia as it is to know what's happening on a local street corner borders have really become a pointless imaginary line in our minds.

Even thought I favor less government, the idea of Supranational Unions like the EU, or a World Government are tempting ideas

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Do not attempt to adjust your Television

17.05.01 - Mark

Sometimes you find something online you never thought you would see online. I'm not talking about the weird ternds that just get amplified by the internet, I'm talking about truly strange things that predate the internet and were so temporary that you couldn't possibly expect to find them online. Like the hijacking of two Chicagoland TV station's signals in 1987 by a guy in a Max Headroom mask. The fact that that little tidbit of text exists is pretty amazing on its own, but the fact that someone has a digitized video of the rogue signal is mind blowing (that page has a couple of other interesting video clips).

This Internet thing is truely amazing

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Paradise on a bun

21.50.45 - Mark

My brother is a vegaterian, so by extention I've adopted some of his habits. However, I haven't given up on meat yet. I'm ever tempted by a well prepared fish and there is a certain level of nirvana reached when savoring a carefully prepared bacon mushroom swiss burger. Add in some good jazz influenced music and a cold beverage and for a few minutes, its hard to think of anything closer to paradise.

For the record, I'm feeling, very very satisfied right now.

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Lame Ducks

17.12.20 - Mark

Here's the latest in Bush's War on Porn

The idea of any form of mandatory labeling is completely ridiculious. Not only will you have plenty of US based sites ignoring it, you will have nearly all of the non-US, and yes Uncle Sam, there is such as thing as a website based in a country other than ours, ignoring it. Trying to create and enforce legislation to force websites into labeling themselves is a waste of everyone's time, effort, and those precious few tax payer's dollars we haven't given away in business subsudies or the middle east.

I can understand why some people want the government to deal with the porn "problem". I want the government to be there to protect me from the big things I can't handle, like nuclear arms and other governments, but a little objectionable content? Thank you, but no.

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Wasted Money

17.04.04 - Mark

One of the annoying things that I'm finding in my college text books is the ridiculious language they use to motivate students to work. I'm not sure where to place it but it feels like the bastard offspring of magnetic poetry, ad libs, business memos, a touch of fiction and a decent helping of propaganda all wrapped up in a reality distortion field.

The standard format is something like:

(Fictional boss or company) wants you to help with (project related to subject being studied). He/she/they know that the concepts in this chapter/book will be essential in completing (end goal of class) To ensure that you understand these concepts (described as such) he/she/they would like you to complete these exercises. [list of "real world" tasks here]

I'll admit I don't have that much experiance in the work place, but I have some, and nearly every non-fictional employer I've had has known nothing about the skills I need for the job they want done. The few that do don't pitter patter around with tests of basic concepts, we both want to cut to the chase and get the job done. They pay less money and I put up with less crap, its a win win situation. Now if a non-fictional boss wants to pay me to jump though the silly hoops fine, I probably won't even complain that much, but I haven't seen it.

I'm not ranting about this busy work and the near eternity it takes to get to a functional level in these classes. As much as I hate the system I relize that they need to be able to track progress so they can get paid and the schools can get grants, but come on. Cut the bull and drop the dead weight. Students are going to get a lot more out of a class once we all stop pertending to do "real" work and get our noses to the grind stone with real real work. You still have your metrics and we aren't typing with our foreheads.

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They're Everywhere

23.42.43 - Mark

I managed to get past easter without making radical statements against organized religion, but these maps of the United States colored by religion is pretty neat. If I wasn't so tired/lazy at the moment I might even mess around with them in GIMP or Photoshop to see what sort of Master map could be drawn. Just glancing over them I could see patterns in some areas.

I tend to not want to really bury myself in it however. Segmenting the population by religion is pretty pointless, bordering on dangerous. In the end, we are all citizens of one (no matter how fucked up) nation.

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Code Monkey

09.11.49 - Mark

Jonathan Coulton's latest Thing a Week Code Monkey just hit my ear drums at the right time. Today is going to be long and painful and I have the feeling it won't end until Wednesday, but my morning has been made. It's just dead on. Maybe not the part about the receptionist (no receptionists here), but the boring meeting and boring manager who criticizes code monkey's code and should write the goddamn pages himself, and wanting to get out of this place.

The picture is Thing A Week: Code Monkey by Jawbone Radio

Anyways, code monkey going back to work now.

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Not so alone...

17.20.37 - Mark

I've been digging around in the Gallup Poll archives this afternoon as part of some research I'm doing for a class, and I'm shocked by some of the numbers I'm seeing. Not for the ones tied to my topic (which is presidential approval ratings), but other items, like Congressional approval ratings.

Here I am thining I'm in the minority because I strongly dislike the political positions of my "representatives" when in fact the entire nation has significant problems with Congress. 27% approval rating or lower since the beginning of the year, and under 50% since mid-2003.

This nation just got a little less depressing.

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Bluetooth Enabled Lasers

08.40.56 - Mark

I remeber seeing these in PopSci a year or two ago and was drooling over them then, but come on what geek can't be enticed with bluetooth enabled laser projected keyboards?

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NPR Using Blog Comments for Marketing?

14.00.30 - Mark

NPR seems to be using comments on blogs ( same comment different blog) to market their podcasts. Or at least "This I Believe" is.

As best I can tell the Administrator for "This I Believe" ran a search on Technorati for blog posts tagged Penn Jillete, where I'm the 8th hit (the other blog I found the comment on was was 9th) then just pasted the comment into the form, submitted it and moved on to the next blog.

NPR Commenter's Referal

The comment is a pretty bland message that comes close to being comment spam, and while I allow anonymous comments, signing the message as "Admin" doesn't earn them any points, a real name or even "This I Believe" would have been much better. Despite those two items, I think it's neat that NPR (or at least some of its programs) are embracing not only podcasts, but blogs and other "new media" tools as a way of reaching interested parties. The certainlly have a ways to go in terms of making their content an open conversation, which in the end is the real strength of "new media", but the fact that they're experimenting with the tools is very encouraging.

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Laughable Business Practices

17.11.46 - Mark

My sides are hurting like crazy and this is to blame (Flash movie of an IBM song)

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13.40.24 - Mark

Yesterday was another one of those oddly beautiful days everyone seems to complain about, at least it was in the morning, and unlike the last one I wrote about I had the foresight to grap my camera and shoot some video on my commute. While a camera can only capture a fraction of the scenery, I think I have enought to edit into a video.

While I still don't have a Mac capable of editing video without taking three hours to process an action, my linux box has some horse power and there are a number of linux video editors out there, including Cinelerra which I've even managed to install onto said linux box.

Unfortunatly installing it and being able to use it are two entirely different subject matters. For the record it was a pain in the ass to install as well.

I'm enjoying my linux box more and more, but I'll be real happy when I finally replace my iBook

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All Dried Up

13.08.31 - Mark

I don't really have a reason for posting this, certainly since it's from when I went up to Camp Raven Knob two weeks ago, I've just been rambing way too much recently.

Dry Lake Bed at Camp Raven Knob

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Bug Fix Edition

10.29.19 - Mark

I've gotten around to fixing half a dozen problems in the blog, including unbreaking the comment engine (I blame the spammers), making the site usable in Internet Explorer (despite the fact that you should be using Firefox) and writing in some bottom of the page navigation so you don't need to resort to using the monthly archives.

I'm pretty sure those fix all of the complaints I've recieved in the last few weeks.

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V for Vendetta

22.53.40 - Mark

I saw V for Vendetta yesterday, I loved it. While it was certinaly over the top towards the end (and by over the top I mean the Wachowski brother's addition to hyper-slow motion) It was fun on a brain dead level, if you wanted to watch it on that level, but had that same confused as hell feeling the Matrix produced that makes me want to watch it again a time or two. I'll skip over the relation to modern politics, it should be enough to say that there were a lot of broader political themes I love to see being played with and manipulated in fiction.

Can't wait to read the graphic novel it was based on, which should be arriving at my door on Friday along with a copy of Good Night and Good Luck and the first volume of Y: The Last Man which I keep hearing good things about.

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Attending Hell University

13.38.47 - Mark

I didn't think it could possibly get any worse, god I was wrong. I was so very, very wrong. I've very quickly losing any and all tolerance I had for the bullshit that goes on at the school I'm attending. It's a fucking insane asylum, or at least it would be if call it that wouldn't be an insult to insane asylums.

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Fear me! Oh, hold on a minute...

00.13.23 - Mark

... this survery says you already do. Similarily, don't feel the need to pray for me if I have to undergo surgery, it doesn't help (well wishs of course would be welcome)

I guess to finish off this post, I had a talk with a door to door evangelist the other day. Jehovah's Witness I think. Turned out to be an enjoyable hit and run philosophical discussion. For as many people "fear" atheists on principal, I wish more would have the guts to stand up and discuss what they really believe, not then their church leaders insist we all believe in.

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Partaking of WINE

18.07.07 - Mark

A while back I added Wine to my Ubuntu box, and I'm just blown away. I'm running native Windows applications on my Linux box with only minor glitches (been playing Starcraft with off and on sound problems) While it's not as cool as the idea of tribooting a new Apple Laptop, I am sufficiently thrilled. Linux still has many flaws, but the longer I'm without my 'book and the more updates and patches I intall, the more and more imporessed I'm becoming with this OS.

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10.47.12 - Mark

The whole controversy over the .xxx top level domain is a silly example of clueless people trying to impliment technical changes that will never stick. Porn sites are not going to magically shift from .com addresses to .xxx become some silly little organization wants them to. You're going to need legal and/or financial incentives The first is near impossible to get international support for and the latter will never have enough finacial value to get porn sites sequester themselves in the .xxx domains and only the .xxx domains.

Despite that plain and simple (and overlooked) fact, I'm kind of sad to see that the plans for .xxx domains have been shelved. I'm crazy enough to buy a .xxx domain just to have it on an email address.

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Rainy Day

09.09.10 - Mark

It's raining today. Not the torrential downfalls of water that makes moving outside similar to walking though a solid brick wall, but one of those days where the sky is a light grey and there are drops of water coming out of the sky like a lawn spinkler. I think it's a comfortable cool and making my 20 minute commute was like driving though a series of stunning paintings.

The horizon was a washed out water color as patches of blue and yellow peaked out though the grey in the east. The sky was darker to the south, more like an oil painting, and complimented by the occassional bits of lightning. Lower to the ground my eyes were treated to a mixure of trees with brown leaves that never quite fell down last fall, intermixed with the trees that have not only budded, but trived during the warm march we've been having, and all of them contrasting with the vivid spring grass that has already taken root in the fields

Doesn't hurt that daylight savings time made my commute an hour closer to sunrise, which always add an extra element of beauty. Foolishly I didn't bother pointing a camera out the window (not that I could have edited it easily if I had), but you can get an idea of how beautiful my commutes can be from watching Leaves, which I shot along the same route. Not that any quality of camera and screen could possibly instill the same feeling of beauty. While I might hate wasting time and natural resources for my commute, somedays its worth it just for the scenery.

All of this makes me wonder why everyone seems to complain about the slightest bits of "unpleasant" weather. Its a beautiful thing that should be enjoyed - life is boring if its lived in a climate controlled zone where its 20% cloudy and 67 to 73 degrees Fahrenheit. If its raining turn on some light jazz and just soak it all in.

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Radio Randomization

09.22.11 - Mark

Recently my sleep cycle has been closer to a racoon's than your standard human, and part of that has been waking up and eating breakfast. This morning while eating a pile of pancakes I turned on NPR rather than my ususual podcasts. Glad I did. NPR was running this story on the i-Bod which was well produced, right down to the NPR reporter kicking the can while testing the device - I think it was in beta. Normally NPR won't kill it's reporters on air, but I think they were justified here (pledge week - gotta bring up those ratings), and I hope that there won't be that many angry liberals calling the FCC. (BTW check the date)

It really reminded me of Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything, which unlike normal NPR broadcasts, dosen't wait for April 1st to mix real reporting, smart interviews, well formed opinions, and a good bit of well staged fiction. I love it so much so that I'm working on both ends of the archives, listening to the archives from when it was a standard fixed time on-air broadcast as well as its current incarnation as an alt.npr podcast. Give it a good, dedicated listen, also check out AmigoFish which was the first of several things that turned me on to the Theory of Everything.

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