Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Your Android Phone is Secretly Recording Everything You Do

Turns out your cell phone carrier is probably using software on your phone to hijack everything you do...from turning the phone off and on, to your text message, to your web browsing, to even your usernames and passwords. This gentleman explains and demonstrates:


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Breathtaking Skyrim

The most gorgeous time-lapse fly over of Skyrim's various lands that I've seen.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Truths About Twitter

I have both lamented this behavior and taken part in it...though not on Twitter.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Google Redesigns The Gmail Interface

This is definitely a change for Gmail that you will want to enable when the notice on the lower-right of the Gmail window appears.

Check out this video talking about the new interface:

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Brilliant Optical Illusion

Click the picture to view the illusion.  Simply stare at the dot in the middle of the picture.

Wonk Balrog

Looking for more of my political postings?  I've started a new blog call "Wonk Balrog" for the more political chatter.  Give it a visit!

Friday, October 07, 2011

Television, Depravity, and Society

The link between children's behavior and what they see on television has been a often argued subject in child psychology circles, as well as parenting circles.  Tie in marketing and commercials, and their content, and you have quite a lot to keep a mind wandering.  Even if a child's show is benign, the advertising supporting the program typically is not.

Shows are divided up into those that are safe for children's consumption, and those that should probably only be watched by adults who can understand and mitigate the situations in the programs to their own beliefs and opinions.

But personally I feel that this issue is much more a concern than merely the differences between what a child and an adult should be watching.  I think that television reflects what you want your society to look like.  So, it isn't merely that television may reflect how society may be, but it drives each tendency a little bit more fervently, and definitely with more glamour than things actually are.  After all, real life isn't 'entertaining'.  A more extreme or dicey version of life may be though.

So, what does society expect the rest of society to be like when they consume and enjoy shows like "Two and Half Men" or "Sex In The City"?  How about exactly the like those shows, where everyone is just out to find someone new to meet their sexual wants.  Then from that show a person moves on to "Survivor" where everyone is playing fake friendship tactics to use each other such that they can get ahead in the end.  Or how about "The Bachelor", where a guy gets to try out a ton of women to find which one is 'most compatible', make a huge deal about their love, and then divorce 6 months after they marry.

What do you want your society to be like?  If you want it to be one where no one really has any actual friends, but rather one where people just use each other to meet personal goals...then television promotes that heavily.  If you want people to sleep around everywhere in the quest for 'love' and 'compatibility', only to divorce nearly as quickly as people marry...television is your guide.  If you want there to be a society where nothing is good enough, and you need to be staunchly individualistic, while simultaneously needing to be connected to a sexual relationship...then television has ample examples to help you.

But once those levels of depravity are attained in general in society, then those levels will no longer be entertaining on television.  So, studios will have to push the moral questions and ethical situations...releasing programming with just slightly more shocking situations, or slightly more sexually depraved people.  Then society will eventually emulate the situations they perceive to be 'normal' from what they see on television and movies.

This isn't to say that movies and television aren't reasonable mediums to be entertained by.  I'm just suggesting that what should shock us doesn't.  And behaviors that should seem selfish or sociopathic seem like normal life.  Something is wrong with this, and perhaps what is considered 'normal' to people in general anymore actually is exactly what we don't want society to be.  Perhaps this is why there is a complete absence of moral stories in television consumed by adults (or moral content is such an afterthought that most miss it).

I realize my thoughts in this writing are incomplete and slightly hyperbolic, but it seems to me that both the moral character of most television, and the character of people in society, are both on the decline.  And this is considered 'normal'.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Steve Jobs Passed Away Today

Goodbye, Steve...we will indeed miss you.

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, Pixar, and of the great visionaries in consumer technology, died today at the age of 56.  Without his vision perhaps the 'Internet age' wouldn't have arrived in the same way, or perhaps at all.  NeXT computers were, after all, the platform that gave birth to the the first web-pages that now make up the platform that most of our information and applications are delivered on.  Pixar pushed the boundaries of animation and computer video effects.  Apple, of course, drove nearly every modernization of consumer computing for the past 14 years.  It will be interesting to see where Apple heads, and if other players in the computing world take up the mantle of visionary.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Controversy of Schweddy Balls

On Wednesday, September 7 the ice cream company, Ben & Jerry's, announced that it would be sending a new flavor of ice cream to stores around the country. This flavor was to be a tribute to a sketch on Saturday Night Live poking fun at NPR. So, who better to report on the release of this new, limited-edition, flavor called "Schweddy Balls," featuring vanilla ice cream with a hint of rum, with fudge covered rum balls and chocolate covered malt balls in it.

Yes, It's True: Ben & Jerry's Introduces 'Schweddy Balls' Ice Cream Flavor

However, on Thursday the 22nd a conservative group, One Million Moms, has released a statement asking people to boycott the ice cream flavor, saying, "The vulgar new flavor has turned something as innocent as ice cream into something repulsive. Not exactly what you want a child asking for at the supermarket." Certainly it indeed isn't something that you want your children announcing to the grocery that they want.

Conservative Group Calls for Boycott of Ben & Jerry's 'Schweddy Balls' Flavor

But is this really something that needs to be boycotted? The original sketch was a very suggestive and clever play on words, and also on a show that is typically inappropriate for children to be watching. My opinion is that parents shouldn't join any boycott of Ben & Jerry's over a pop-culture tribute, but just merely shrug it off. The bigger deal it is to you, the more your children are going to be curious about the name. If you want them to shrug it off...then you shrug it off too. Or just merely say say to them that you aren't buying ice cream today should they happen to pick it up in the store. This flavor is a limited run, and will eventually be sold out.

In the end...this is merely ice cream...and very tasty ice cream at that. Just let it be.

If you haven't ever seen the SNL sketch Ben & Jerry's was making a tribute to, Hulu was good enough to have a clip of it. Hopefully you get a good chuckle from watching it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday's Fun: B-52's "Rock Lobster"

I saw the B-52's in concert when I was 17. That was after their single "Love Shack" had become popular. It was a well played show, but man...they are weird.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

President Obama Presents American Jobs Act

7:09 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, and fellow Americans:
Tonight we meet at an urgent time for our country.  We continue to face an economic crisis that has left millions of our neighbors jobless, and a political crisis that’s made things worse. 
This past week, reporters have been asking, “What will this speech mean for the President?  What will it mean for Congress?  How will it affect their polls, and the next election?”
But the millions of Americans who are watching right now, they don’t care about politics.  They have real-life concerns.  Many have spent months looking for work.  Others are doing their best just to scrape by -- giving up nights out with the family to save on gas or make the mortgage; postponing retirement to send a kid to college. 
These men and women grew up with faith in an America where hard work and responsibility paid off.  They believed in a country where everyone gets a fair shake and does their fair share -- where if you stepped up, did your job, and were loyal to your company, that loyalty would be rewarded with a decent salary and good benefits; maybe a raise once in a while.  If you did the right thing, you could make it.  Anybody could make it in America. 
For decades now, Americans have watched that compact erode.  They have seen the decks too often stacked against them.  And they know that Washington has not always put their interests first. 
The people of this country work hard to meet their responsibilities.  The question tonight is whether we’ll meet ours.  The question is whether, in the face of an ongoing national crisis, we can stop the political circus and actually do something to help the economy.  (Applause.)  The question is -- the question is whether we can restore some of the fairness and security that has defined this nation since our beginning.    
Those of us here tonight can’t solve all our nation’s woes.  Ultimately, our recovery will be driven not by Washington, but by our businesses and our workers.  But we can help.  We can make a difference.  There are steps we can take right now to improve people’s lives. 
I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away.  It’s called the American Jobs Act.  There should be nothing controversial about this piece of legislation.  Everything in here is the kind of proposal that’s been supported by both Democrats and Republicans -- including many who sit here tonight.  And everything in this bill will be paid for.  Everything.  (Applause.)
The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple:  to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working.  It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for long-term unemployed.  (Applause.)  It will provide -- it will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business.  (Applause.)  It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and if they hire, there will be customers for their products and services.  You should pass this jobs plan right away.  (Applause.)  
Everyone here knows that small businesses are where most new jobs begin.  And you know that while corporate profits have come roaring back, smaller companies haven’t.  So for everyone who speaks so passionately about making life easier for “job creators,” this plan is for you.  (Applause.)
Pass this jobs bill -- pass this jobs bill, and starting tomorrow, small businesses will get a tax cut if they hire new workers or if they raise workers’ wages.  Pass this jobs bill, and all small business owners will also see their payroll taxes cut in half next year.  (Applause.)  If you have 50 employees -- if you have 50 employees making an average salary, that’s an $80,000 tax cut.  And all businesses will be able to continue writing off the investments they make in 2012. 
It’s not just Democrats who have supported this kind of proposal.  Fifty House Republicans have proposed the same payroll tax cut that’s in this plan.  You should pass it right away.  (Applause.)  
Pass this jobs bill, and we can put people to work rebuilding America.  Everyone here knows we have badly decaying roads and bridges all over the country.  Our highways are clogged with traffic.  Our skies are the most congested in the world.  It’s an outrage.   
Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us a economic superpower.  And now we’re going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads?  At a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?  (Applause.)  
There are private construction companies all across America just waiting to get to work.  There’s a bridge that needs repair between Ohio and Kentucky that’s on one of the busiest trucking routes in North America.  A public transit project in Houston that will help clear up one of the worst areas of traffic in the country.  And there are schools throughout this country that desperately need renovating.  How can we expect our kids to do their best in places that are literally falling apart?  This is America.  Every child deserves a great school -- and we can give it to them, if we act now.  (Applause.)  
The American Jobs Act will repair and modernize at least 35,000 schools.  It will put people to work right now fixing roofs and windows, installing science labs and high-speed Internet in classrooms all across this country.  It will rehabilitate homes and businesses in communities hit hardest by foreclosures.  It will jumpstart thousands of transportation projects all across the country.  And to make sure the money is properly spent, we’re building on reforms we’ve already put in place.  No more earmarks.  No more boondoggles.  No more bridges to nowhere.  We’re cutting the red tape that prevents some of these projects from getting started as quickly as possible.  And we’ll set up an independent fund to attract private dollars and issue loans based on two criteria:  how badly a construction project is needed and how much good it will do for the economy.  (Applause.)
This idea came from a bill written by a Texas Republican and a Massachusetts Democrat.  The idea for a big boost in construction is supported by America’s largest business organization and America’s largest labor organization.  It’s the kind of proposal that’s been supported in the past by Democrats and Republicans alike.  You should pass it right away.  (Applause.)
Pass this jobs bill, and thousands of teachers in every state will go back to work.  These are the men and women charged with preparing our children for a world where the competition has never been tougher.  But while they’re adding teachers in places like South Korea, we’re laying them off in droves.  It’s unfair to our kids.  It undermines their future and ours.  And it has to stop.  Pass this bill, and put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong.  (Applause.)
Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get extra tax credits if they hire America’s veterans.  We ask these men and women to leave their careers, leave their families, risk their lives to fight for our country.  The last thing they should have to do is fight for a job when they come home.  (Applause.)
Pass this bill, and hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged young people will have the hope and the dignity of a summer job next year.  And their parents -- (applause) -- their parents, low-income Americans who desperately want to work, will have more ladders out of poverty.
Pass this jobs bill, and companies will get a $4,000 tax credit if they hire anyone who has spent more than six months looking for a job.  (Applause.)  We have to do more to help the long-term unemployed in their search for work.  This jobs plan builds on a program in Georgia that several Republican leaders have highlighted, where people who collect unemployment insurance participate in temporary work as a way to build their skills while they look for a permanent job.  The plan also extends unemployment insurance for another year.  (Applause.)  If the millions of unemployed Americans stopped getting this insurance, and stopped using that money for basic necessities, it would be a devastating blow to this economy.  Democrats and Republicans in this chamber have supported unemployment insurance plenty of times in the past.  And in this time of prolonged hardship, you should pass it again -- right away.  (Applause.)
Pass this jobs bill, and the typical working family will get a $1,500 tax cut next year.  Fifteen hundred dollars that would have been taken out of your pocket will go into your pocket.  This expands on the tax cut that Democrats and Republicans already passed for this year.  If we allow that tax cut to expire -- if we refuse to act -- middle-class families will get hit with a tax increase at the worst possible time.  We can’t let that happen.  I know that some of you have sworn oaths to never raise any taxes on anyone for as long as you live.  Now is not the time to carve out an exception and raise middle-class taxes, which is why you should pass this bill right away.  (Applause.)    
This is the American Jobs Act.  It will lead to new jobs for construction workers, for teachers, for veterans, for first responders, young people and the long-term unemployed.  It will provide tax credits to companies that hire new workers, tax relief to small business owners, and tax cuts for the middle class.  And here’s the other thing I want the American people to know:  The American Jobs Act will not add to the deficit.  It will be paid for.  And here’s how.  (Applause.)

The agreement we passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over the next 10 years.  It also charges this Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas.  Tonight, I am asking you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act.  And a week from Monday, I’ll be releasing a more ambitious deficit plan -- a plan that will not only cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run.  (Applause.) 
This approach is basically the one I’ve been advocating for months.  In addition to the trillion dollars of spending cuts I’ve already signed into law, it’s a balanced plan that would reduce the deficit by making additional spending cuts, by making modest adjustments to health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid, and by reforming our tax code in a way that asks the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations to pay their fair share.  (Applause.)  What’s more, the spending cuts wouldn’t happen so abruptly that they’d be a drag on our economy, or prevent us from helping small businesses and middle-class families get back on their feet right away.  
Now, I realize there are some in my party who don’t think we should make any changes at all to Medicare and Medicaid, and I understand their concerns.  But here’s the truth:  Millions of Americans rely on Medicare in their retirement.  And millions more will do so in the future.  They pay for this benefit during their working years.  They earn it.  But with an aging population and rising health care costs, we are spending too fast to sustain the program.  And if we don’t gradually reform the system while protecting current beneficiaries, it won’t be there when future retirees need it.  We have to reform Medicare to strengthen it.  (Applause.) 
I am also -- I’m also well aware that there are many Republicans who don’t believe we should raise taxes on those who are most fortunate and can best afford it.  But here is what every American knows:  While most people in this country struggle to make ends meet, a few of the most affluent citizens and most profitable corporations enjoy tax breaks and loopholes that nobody else gets.  Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary -- an outrage he has asked us to fix.  (Laughter.)  We need a tax code where everyone gets a fair shake and where everybody pays their fair share.  (Applause.)  And by the way, I believe the vast majority of wealthy Americans and CEOs are willing to do just that if it helps the economy grow and gets our fiscal house in order.   
I’ll also offer ideas to reform a corporate tax code that stands as a monument to special interest influence in Washington.  By eliminating pages of loopholes and deductions, we can lower one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world.  (Applause.)  Our tax code should not give an advantage to companies that can afford the best-connected lobbyists.  It should give an advantage to companies that invest and create jobs right here in the United States of America.  (Applause.)   
So we can reduce this deficit, pay down our debt, and pay for this jobs plan in the process.  But in order to do this, we have to decide what our priorities are.  We have to ask ourselves, “What’s the best way to grow the economy and create jobs?”
Should we keep tax loopholes for oil companies?  Or should we use that money to give small business owners a tax credit when they hire new workers?  Because we can’t afford to do both.  Should we keep tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires?  Or should we put teachers back to work so our kids can graduate ready for college and good jobs?  (Applause.)  Right now, we can’t afford to do both.  
This isn’t political grandstanding.  This isn’t class warfare.  This is simple math.  (Laughter.)  This is simple math.  These are real choices.  These are real choices that we’ve got to make.  And I’m pretty sure I know what most Americans would choose.  It’s not even close.  And it’s time for us to do what’s right for our future.  (Applause.)      
Now, the American Jobs Act answers the urgent need to create jobs right away.  But we can’t stop there.  As I’ve argued since I ran for this office, we have to look beyond the immediate crisis and start building an economy that lasts into the future -- an economy that creates good, middle-class jobs that pay well and offer security.  We now live in a world where technology has made it possible for companies to take their business anywhere.  If we want them to start here and stay here and hire here, we have to be able to out-build and out-educate and out-innovate every other country on Earth.  (Applause.)
And this task of making America more competitive for the long haul, that’s a job for all of us.  For government and for private companies.  For states and for local communities -- and for every American citizen.  All of us will have to up our game.  All of us will have to change the way we do business. 
My administration can and will take some steps to improve our competitiveness on our own.  For example, if you’re a small business owner who has a contract with the federal government, we’re going to make sure you get paid a lot faster than you do right now.  (Applause.)  We’re also planning to cut away the red tape that prevents too many rapidly growing startup companies from raising capital and going public.  And to help responsible homeowners, we’re going to work with federal housing agencies to help more people refinance their mortgages at interest rates that are now near 4 percent.  That’s a step -- (applause) -- I know you guys must be for this, because that’s a step that can put more than $2,000 a year in a family’s pocket, and give a lift to an economy still burdened by the drop in housing prices. 
So, some things we can do on our own.  Other steps will require congressional action.  Today you passed reform that will speed up the outdated patent process, so that entrepreneurs can turn a new idea into a new business as quickly as possible. That’s the kind of action we need.  Now it’s time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama and Colombia and South Korea -– while also helping the workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition.  (Applause.)  If Americans can buy Kias and Hyundais, I want to see folks in South Korea driving Fords and Chevys and Chryslers.  (Applause.)  I want to see more products sold around the world stamped with the three proud words:  “Made in America.”  That’s what we need to get done.  (Applause.)
And on all of our efforts to strengthen competitiveness, we need to look for ways to work side by side with America’s businesses.  That’s why I’ve brought together a Jobs Council of leaders from different industries who are developing a wide range of new ideas to help companies grow and create jobs. 
Already, we’ve mobilized business leaders to train 10,000 American engineers a year, by providing company internships and training.  Other businesses are covering tuition for workers who learn new skills at community colleges.  And we’re going to make sure the next generation of manufacturing takes root not in China or Europe, but right here, in the United States of America.  (Applause)  If we provide the right incentives, the right support -- and if we make sure our trading partners play by the rules -- we can be the ones to build everything from fuel-efficient cars to advanced biofuels to semiconductors that we sell all around the world.  That’s how America can be number one again.  And that’s how America will be number one again.  (Applause.)    
Now, I realize that some of you have a different theory on how to grow the economy.  Some of you sincerely believe that the only solution to our economic challenges is to simply cut most government spending and eliminate most government regulations.  (Applause.)

Well, I agree that we can’t afford wasteful spending, and I’ll work with you, with Congress, to root it out.  And I agree that there are some rules and regulations that do put an unnecessary burden on businesses at a time when they can least afford it.  (Applause.)  That’s why I ordered a review of all government regulations.  So far, we’ve identified over 500 reforms, which will save billions of dollars over the next few years.  (Applause.)  We should have no more regulation than the health, safety and security of the American people require.  Every rule should meet that common-sense test.  (Applause.) 
But what we can’t do -- what I will not do -- is let this economic crisis be used as an excuse to wipe out the basic protections that Americans have counted on for decades.  (Applause.)  I reject the idea that we need to ask people to choose between their jobs and their safety.  I reject the argument that says for the economy to grow, we have to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card companies, or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, or laws that prevent the health insurance industry from shortchanging patients.  I reject the idea that we have to strip away collective bargaining rights to compete in a global economy.  (Applause.)  We shouldn’t be in a race to the bottom, where we try to offer the cheapest labor and the worst pollution standards.  America should be in a race to the top.  And I believe we can win that race.  (Applause.)
In fact, this larger notion that the only thing we can do to restore prosperity is just dismantle government, refund everybody’s money, and let everyone write their own rules, and tell everyone they’re on their own -- that’s not who we are.  That’s not the story of America.   
Yes, we are rugged individualists.  Yes, we are strong and self-reliant.  And it has been the drive and initiative of our workers and entrepreneurs that has made this economy the engine and the envy of the world.
But there’s always been another thread running throughout our history -- a belief that we’re all connected, and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation.
We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union.  Founder of the Republican Party.  But in the middle of a civil war, he was also a leader who looked to the future -- a Republican President who mobilized government to build the Transcontinental Railroad -- (applause) -- launch the National Academy of Sciences, set up the first land grant colleges.  (Applause.)  And leaders of both parties have followed the example he set. 
Ask yourselves -- where would we be right now if the people who sat here before us decided not to build our highways, not to build our bridges, our dams, our airports?  What would this country be like if we had chosen not to spend money on public high schools, or research universities, or community colleges?  Millions of returning heroes, including my grandfather, had the opportunity to go to school because of the G.I. Bill.  Where would we be if they hadn’t had that chance?  (Applause.)  
How many jobs would it have cost us if past Congresses decided not to support the basic research that led to the Internet and the computer chip?  What kind of country would this be if this chamber had voted down Social Security or Medicare just because it violated some rigid idea about what government could or could not do?  (Applause.)  How many Americans would have suffered as a result? 
No single individual built America on their own.  We built it together.  We have been, and always will be, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all; a nation with responsibilities to ourselves and with responsibilities to one another.  And members of Congress, it is time for us to meet our responsibilities.  (Applause.)  
Every proposal I’ve laid out tonight is the kind that’s been supported by Democrats and Republicans in the past.  Every proposal I’ve laid out tonight will be paid for.  And every proposal is designed to meet the urgent needs of our people and our communities. 
Now, I know there’s been a lot of skepticism about whether the politics of the moment will allow us to pass this jobs plan -- or any jobs plan.  Already, we’re seeing the same old press releases and tweets flying back and forth.  Already, the media has proclaimed that it’s impossible to bridge our differences.  And maybe some of you have decided that those differences are so great that we can only resolve them at the ballot box.  
But know this:  The next election is 14 months away.  And the people who sent us here -- the people who hired us to work for them -- they don’t have the luxury of waiting 14 months.  (Applause.)  Some of them are living week to week, paycheck to paycheck, even day to day.  They need help, and they need it now. 
I don’t pretend that this plan will solve all our problems. It should not be, nor will it be, the last plan of action we propose.  What’s guided us from the start of this crisis hasn’t been the search for a silver bullet.  It’s been a commitment to stay at it -- to be persistent -- to keep trying every new idea that works, and listen to every good proposal, no matter which party comes up with it. 
Regardless of the arguments we’ve had in the past, regardless of the arguments we will have in the future, this plan is the right thing to do right now.  You should pass it.  (Applause.)  And I intend to take that message to every corner of this country.  (Applause.)  And I ask -- I ask every American who agrees to lift your voice:  Tell the people who are gathered here tonight that you want action now.  Tell Washington that doing nothing is not an option.  Remind us that if we act as one nation and one people, we have it within our power to meet this challenge.
President Kennedy once said, “Our problems are man-made –- therefore they can be solved by man.  And man can be as big as he wants.”
These are difficult years for our country.  But we are Americans.  We are tougher than the times we live in, and we are bigger than our politics have been.  So let’s meet the moment.  Let’s get to work, and let’s show the world once again why the United States of America remains the greatest nation on Earth.  (Applause.)
Thank you very much.  God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.  (Applause.)
7:43 P.M. EDT

History of Star Trek Infographic

The entire history of Star Trek is in this timeline infographic.
Source: All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Friday, August 05, 2011

A look at a zero-waste household

This is inspiring to see someone actually accomplishing this.

My family also tries to reduce the waste we throw away. We accomplish not throwing much in the trash...most of what we do end up throwing away is used cat litter, degradable sacks, and fat/gristle from meat trimming. Veg/fruit/non-meat goes into a compost bin, and grass clippings are reused as mulch. Beer and wine bottles get reused when we make more. We do tend to have a lot of plastic, cardboard, and paper waste though...which we take to a recycling center. But it would be good to see that diminish as well.

Any suggestions of things that work well for your household?

History and Commentary on the Economic Situation

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, August 01, 2011

Eyrie - animated short by David Wolter

Beautiful animated short about the importance of perseverance, patience, compassion, and responsibility. Wonderful video.

Monday, July 18, 2011

House Republicans Vote To Return Rivers of Flaming Shit

Republicans in the House vote to return rivers, lakes, and our nations water back to state control, by reversing the Clean Water Act. Back to when states would dump tons of raw sewage in the rivers, such that they were literally oozing rivers of shit. Back to the times when every few years some rivers would catch on fire. Back to the times when rivers couldn’t support any life except for bacteria. Is this the leadership you were looking for, conservatives?

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Republicans Deceptive About Taxes and the Budget

The Republicans keep arguing that closing tax loopholes and allowing temporary tax-cuts to expire will cause corporations to move and not be able to create jobs. But the fact of the matter is that the United States, even at a 35% corporate tax rate, has the 2nd lowest corporate taxes of all developed nations in the world.

Additionally, most corporations do not actually pay in 35%, but instead take advantage of breaks, loopholes, and deductions that push their actual taxed rate far below 35%…to 21% or 17% or 7% (and sometimes lower). And yes, some companies actually pay NO taxes in the end. In 2009, for example, GE actually got a check back from the government instead of paying anything in taxes.

So, with all these effectively low taxes and tax breaks, what did the majority of these corporations do? They cut jobs.

This should call into question the logic of creating more tax breaks for companies that are presently, regardless of soaring profits and effectively low corporate taxes, shipping jobs overs-seas or eliminating jobs entirely.

The ideology that the Republicans are trying to sell is questionable at best, but flatly a bold-faced lie at worst.

So, we as a nation can afford to give tax breaks to corporations and the wealthy, but we can’t afford to keep schools open or provide police protection in various places. We can afford to put millionaire’s effective tax rate below that of a middle-class individual, but can’t afford to keep Department of Homeland Security offices that police nuclear material being sold on the black market. We can afford to let corporations dodge taxes with tax-haven inside our own borders, but can’t afford to have a group screen our food for deadly strains of E coli.

It seems we as a nation need to sort out our priorities as a people.

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Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Exxon Pipeline Bursts Causing Massive Oil Spill in the Yellowstone River

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An Exxon pipeline burst under the Yellowstone River near Billings, Montana. Exxon is trying to suggest there is no problem...even though there is clearly tons of oil in the river, and tons of wildlife and other environment damage for over 40 miles downstream.

Exxon is making more money than the world has ever the tune of $5-Million PER HOUR in profit in 2010. But yet they have almost no response to the spill, and no investigation of the leak as of yet. All they are doing is putting up oil booms which have been noted to be largely ineffective for over 60-YEARS!

When are these oil companies going to AT LEAST be held accountable for being lax on safety regulations? Or better yet, quickly responsible for the spill itself?

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Mother of All No-Brainers -

The Mother of All No-Brainers -

Key paragraphs:

"If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. It is being offered the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred billion dollars of revenue increases."

"But we can have no confidence that the Republicans will seize this opportunity. That’s because the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative."

"The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities. A thousand impartial experts may tell them that a default on the debt would have calamitous effects, far worse than raising tax revenues a bit. But the members of this movement refuse to believe it."

"The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency. A nation makes a sacred pledge to pay the money back when it borrows money. But the members of this movement talk blandly of default and are willing to stain their nation’s honor."

"The members of this movement have no economic theory worthy of the name. Economists have identified many factors that contribute to economic growth, ranging from the productivity of the work force to the share of private savings that is available for private investment. Tax levels matter, but they are far from the only or even the most important factor."

"If the debt ceiling talks fail, independents voters will see that Democrats were willing to compromise but Republicans were not. If responsible Republicans don’t take control, independents will conclude that Republican fanaticism caused this default. They will conclude that Republicans are not fit to govern. And they will be right."

- David Brooks, conservative columnist, NY Times

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

GOP Wants to Return America to the Robber Barons

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The GOP and their Partisan Hackery

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The nicest thing you could say about GOP tactics is that they participate in ugly hypocrisy. The worst thing your could say is that they actually believe in the policies they are promoting. The reason being because their policies WILL harm the United States economically…without doubt. So, if they believe them, they are intentionally attempting to harm the economy. Where do you go with that?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Flooding Along the Missouri River in Nebraska Threatens Nuclear Plant Safety

Water that just 2-feet below where it would become a problem for the Nebraska nuclear reactors near the flooding Missouri River? Failing sensors at the plants? Radioactive tritium leaking into ground water even before the flooding? This looks to be a bad deal.

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Friday, June 03, 2011

"Derezzed" Cover on Guitar

Cover of Daft Punk's "Derezzed" from TRON: Legacy on guitar.  Excellently done!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Windows 8 Demo

Honestly, I'm unsure what to think about this new interface.  It appears that this may just be yet another IE-driven that Microsoft can essentially try to do what Google is doing with ChromeOS, but still have Windows 7 underneath to run Office.  :-/  Not sure how that is supposed to be "faster" or revolutionary.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Amazing Timelapse Video from the VTL in Chile


ALL IMAGES: ( taken on location by Stephane Guisard and Jose Francisco Salgado.
ESO/S. Guisard (
ESO/José Francisco Salgado (
MUSIC SCORE: "We Happy Few" - The Calm Blue Sea (2008)
EDITION: Nicolas Bustos

More Posts -- Google Shared Articles

I realize that I haven't been posting nearly as much since I moved my site to Google's service.  I'm still working out the kinks in the theme I'm using.  But if you are interested in seeing what articles I find interesting in daily reading...please check out my Google Reader Shared Items just to the right.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Torture Did Not Lead Us To Bin Laden

Sen. John McCain sets the record straight on the Senate floor:

Rachael Maddow and Michael Isikoff have some good commentary on this:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Heaven and Hell Debate between Rob Bell and Adrian Warnock

I'm right in the middle of Rob Bell's newest book titled "Love Wins", and so far as yet, it appears to me that most of the people who are creating negative press for the book suggest essentially one thing:  He is a 'universalist'...meaning that he thinks that all people go to heaven.

Personally, I have a hard time believing that most of these critics got past page 2, when Rob just merely asks the question how someone else can know for certain whether Gandhi is in hell or not.  Their problem started on that page, and from the criticisms it sounds like they put the book down at that point too.

The book asks some very thought provoking questions, which I think was the point, and I don't believe that those who make it past page 2 would believe that Rob thinks that everyone makes it heaven.  Though again...the point isn't that, but the question of the here and now...since God desires that everyone would be saved.

So, read the book, but in the meantime check out this interesting interview/debate:

See this video and hear other radio interviews on "Unbelievable?" Premiere Radio.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Google Chromebook

Looks like the Google Chromebook will be available June 15.  Acer will make a 11.6-inch screen model with a 6.5-hour battery for $349.  Samsung will offer one wiht a 12-inch screen and an 8.5-hour battery life for $429, and additionally another model with 3G for $499.

This is a pretty attractive option for a laptop.  What I'm most after in a laptop is just Internet connectivity quickly.  I don't want all the other apps or graphically-intensive gaming.  And at that price point, it seems reasonable to me.

The Homer Simpson Doctine of John Boehner

It is funny to me that once Republicans finally convinced Democrats that they actually have to address spending why the Republicans take everything substantial off the table. Oh, but there is a method to this, of course. The Republicans are not really interested in cutting spending. They are only interested in cutting social and entitlement programs. Put a tax cut for wealthy people on the chopping block, and they quickly remove it.

Here is a graph from Ezra Klein of the Washington Post showing deficit numbers with an without various factors, like the wars in the Middle East, various economic considerations, TARP funds, other recovery giveaways, and the Bush tax-cuts.

It should be clear very quickly that all the recovery giveaways, including TARP, are not bankrupting the U.S. as the Republicans once claimed.  And economic considerations are pretty much plateaued as well.  What is of concern that really could be dealt with easily would be tax-cuts to the wealthy.  And $1.3-Trillion isn't a small number.

Here is an analysis of the Bush tax-cuts.

Again Republicans argue that letting the Bush tax-cuts expire would strangle small businesses and kill job-creation. I don't know that I buy that argument, as job growth didn't have any problem occurring during the Clinton administration.  Also, job growth is fundamentally tied to demand for goods and services, and probably shouldn't be incentivized artificially by tax-cuts in the first place.

What does this have to do with Homer Simpson?  Ezra Klein wrote the following on his blog:

John Boehner's new line on the deficit negotiations is that raising taxes -- by which he appears to also mean closing tax expenditures -- "is off the table. But everything else is on the table." This is a bit like telling your doctor, who's worried that you've gained weight and are out-of-shape, that exercise is off the table, but everything else is on the table. Well, it's nice that you're prepared to diet, but you need to exercise, too. Otherwise, you're not going to get where you need to go.

Homer Simpson quote from a recent Simpsons episode:  "As long as it doesn't require losing weight or changing my pants."  Of course he was talking about luxuriously washing and styling his wife's hair, but that is beside the point.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why is healthcare so expensive?

Sorry for the very long post, but these infographics are very helpful in explaining essential details of the healthcare narrative in America.

Part 1: Comparison of the United States to other wealthy nations

Why Your Stitches Cost $1,500 - Part One
Via: Medical Billing And Coding

Part 2: Myths and Truths

Why Your Stitches Cost $1,500 - Part Two
Via: Medical Billing And Coding

Monday, May 09, 2011

Monday, May 02, 2011

Celebrate Bin Laden's Death?

It is alright for people to find closure in Osama Bin Laden's death.  He had been involved in some of recent history's worst terrorist plots.  It is alright for people to be comforted that he can no longer fund terrorism or hurt any more people.

But it is disturbing that people are celebrating his being killed.  He was a truly evil man from what we knew of him and his actions.  And in turn he suffered what could be considered 'natural consequences' of his actions in society for committing the crimes he did.  However, it is good to celebrate the killing of another person?  Even if he was a murderer?  What does such a celebration say about us as a society?

Even further though...I was even more disturbed by Mike Huckabee's statement when he stated that "people have reason to cheer" now that Bin Laden has been killed.  Huckabee, who is a previously a Baptist pastor, had this message for Osama Bin Laden: "Welcome to hell." 

What kind of people are we that we celebrate killing, even if it was one who was an evil person?  Much more, what kind of people are we when we revel in the notion that someone would be tormented in a place like Hell?  Are people like Mike Huckabee demonstrating what a vengeful and calloused people we presently are?  

Certainly we can be relieved that Bin Laden is no longer going to hurt anyone else.  But I simply don't think killing should be celebrated. And certainly someone's eternity of possibly being in Hell should not be celebrated.

Switching to Blogger

I'm switching from WordPress on my own hosting over to Google's Blogger system. Please be patient with my lack of graphics on the site, and some of the formatting being messed up. I'm working on it! :-)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Epic Meal Time - Kids Edition!

This is incredibly funny!

Follow the Money Supporting Republican Budgets

The very wealthy in America are attempting to leverage their Republican 'friends' to enact policy that would reshape America into something that the rest of us don't want...something that would probably look a lot like the state of America look like the early 1900s when there was mass poverty, the extreme wealthy acted like barons over parts of cities, where workers had absolutely no rights (no work-time limits, no pay minimums, no breaks, no contingencies for illness or injury), etc. Is allowing the hyper-wealthy to essentially determine the 'fate' of the general population what we want for this nation?

Rachel Maddow and Sen. Bernie Sanders comment on the money trail of support for Republican plans:

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

President Obama Sets the Record Straight with the Budget

Rachel Maddow comments on the President's speech yesterday about economic and budget proposals, starting with comments about the Republican/Ryan plans.

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Here is the whole speech, which you should watch. Or if you'd rather read it, here is the full transcript. Further, here is the fact sheet concerning the President's proposal.