Monday, June 22, 2009

Changes coming

Some interesting news in recent days....
  • Continental Pilot dies while in air: The Continental Airlines pilot who died on a trans-Atlantic flight from Belgium to the U.S. was in "perfect health" and fellow crew members initially thought he had just fallen asleep...,  Begging your pardon, am I the only one who wonders how often pilots are likely to fall asleep at the stick??   This reminds me of an old joke: when I die, I want to go like my grandfather: peacefully in his sleep.  Not like his passengers...
  • There are jokes abound regarding the Iranian elections (including those that state the some 16 million votes were actually cast for Pat Buchanan).   Still, the leader of the free world is steps behind the leaders of France and Germany in rhetoric.  No one is suggesting military action in Iran, but our posturing in Washington, D.C. is interpreted as weakness, and that weakness is being amplified again and again.
  • ABC News has pretty much given up any pretense to being non-biased with the upcoming airing of the health care special.  Just imagine: had President Bush offered to hold such an important meeting on FOX NEWS.   Had the 3 broadcast networks been invited to participate, I would have less to say about the matter, but clearly there is no longer any attempt for the major media to appear unbiased.   How far has our nation's free press fallen...
I have been wrestling with various issues in recent months, and many of them intersect with my humble blog.
A lot of changes are in the air.   I mentioned this a year ago and it is even more true today.  While my job remains largely static (and expects to be so through 2013), I have done little to advance my own cause in education;  clearly, that is very wrong in this economy (and my age/status in life). 
In spite of the grand efforts by many, and the paltry ones of myself, this move towards Socialized medicine is gaining speed.  Some say it won't make it through Congress, others are are convinced it will.  I, for one, am scared to death it will.  I said over and over: I will work as many jobs as I must, sacrifice anything and everything, in order to prevent my family from relying on any so-called universal health-care, and I meant it.    This matter is far too important for me not to be taking a greater role in campaigning against it.   It is high time I take a more visible stand against this gathering storm.
In recent months my postings have fallen off the pace set in previous years.   This trend will likely increase....  as much I as enjoy reading issues of politics, pop/odd culture, and commenting on them ... as much as I enjoy visiting other blogger's sites, I know I can't keep that pace and do the things I have to do.    So if I don't visit your blog much, if I don't post here too often, do not think it is because I've given up.  I have a lot of fight in me, and I now have to better direct those energies to where I can affect the most changes.
I'll be around... just not so often.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Standing up to tyrants

Some of the readers to this lowly blog of mine may well be too young to remember a time in our nation's past when an oppressive regime pressed the boot of tyranny on a nation.

In 1981, the People's Republic of Poland enacted Martial Law to quell the uprising against Communist rule. President Ronald Reagan made public the transcript of a phone call he had with Pope John Paul II:

The President. “Your Holiness, I want you to know how deeply we feel about the
situation in your homeland.”

“I look forward to the time when we can meet in person.”

“Our sympathies are with the people, not the government.”

Nine words said it all: Our sympathies are with the people, not the government. That wasn't meddling, but rather compassion for the people.

It's safe to assume now that the Iranian Mullahs are not likely to have any sort of open-door policy in respect to their nation's election; having banned Western media clearly states their intention to keep order. That might have been different had President Obama had exhibited more back-bone when the results first were reported. Instead, the world was treated to Mr. Obama extolling the virtues of his speech in Cairo.

Critics of Mr. Obama weren't surprised of his lack-luster approach to the Iranian crack down. Recall last summer, when Russian tanks rolled through Georgia:

[President Obama] first recommended the UN take action, with a plea for restraint on both sides (as if Georgia was the blame for their invasion). Later on, no doubt after a considerable chat with his 10 score of foreign policy advisers, condemning Russia's actions and a call for a cease-fire (which, reportedly, Russia has ignored).

When liberty and freedom are in harm's way, Mr. Obama has demonstrated two times now that he'll plant his feet firmly on the fence, instead of taking the correct stand. That doesn't mean I advocate US military action in Iran, not anymore than did Mr. Reagan do in Poland.

Words have meanings. Ostracizing Iran could have gone a long way. What President Obama has done (or rather, not done) this week can easily be compared to what President George H. Bush did (or didn't do) to support the Iraqi rebels after the push-back out of Kuwait in 1991.

Should more deaths arise out of Iran's efforts to crush the resistance, what will the Mr. Obama do then?

Whether President Obama cares to say it or not, the American people's sympathies are with the Iranian people.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Exactly how disgusting am I?

Readers of my humble blog know I've studied Taekwondo for some time now (approaching the 6 year anniversary), and from those posts they know that I tend to perspire. A.Lot.

The instructor used to move me away from the door, because (as he put it) he was afraid prospective students would see me sweaty and panting and that would put them off (true story!). It should be noted our dojang has no air conditioning, and our classes always begin with about 25 minutes of cardio, which means I am always good and sweaty before too long.

The other night we were doing one-step-sparring, where we are paired-off and take turns practicing basic defense moves against an opponent throwing a punch. My opponent, a gal slightly younger than I, blocked my punch and grabbed my shoulders as she was about to sweep my leg in a take down.

Suddenly she recoiled, her face was showing an expression of twisted horror as she held her hands stretched from her sides.

My God, you are so gross! How does your wife stand you??

Her voice was so loud, everyone stopped and turned. Interrupting a class like that is generally answered by the Instructor with push-ups to all offenders, so I quickly answered: Why do you think we have just 2 kids, 7 years apart?

Uncharacteristically, the entire dojang broke down in laughter at that point, including the Master. No push-ups were assigned, but I did get a towel for my partner after class, who profusely apologized for her outburst.

What could I say? It's not her fault that I sweat a lot!



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Friday, June 12, 2009

All those who don't suspect the son is responsible for his mom's death...

...raise your hand:

Son charged in fiery death
A 26-year-old former Slatington man told police he had just put his ailing mother to bed and wanted her cat to join her, so he reached behind the bed and flicked a lighter to see if the cat was back there.

The cat never appeared, so Chad Matthew Lever went downstairs to look elsewhere. Before Lever reached the bottom step, his mother, Lisa House, began yelling.

The mattress had caught fire.

After repeated attempts to get his mother, who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease, out of her burning bedroom, Lever was overcome by smoke. Lisa House, 47, died in the February fire at 424 W. Washington St., Slatington.

OK, I don't particularly like cats (hey, show me one that fetches and I'll reconsider), even though we have one.  That much said, I would never think to use a lighter to attract a cat!

During interviews with Detectives Lou Tallarico and Michael Millan with the district attorney's Homicide Task Force, Lever said he had played the lighter trick with the cat in the past. Normally, the cat would be scared by the flicker of the lighter and jump onto the bed, joining his mother, he told the detectives. 
What astounds me most is that this guy was arraigned this week after the February fire. Over 3 months to get an indictment on this story?

He said that after hearing his mother yell, he ran upstairs and noticed smoke coming from the side of the bed where he had been flicking the lighter. With his mother still in the bed, he pulled it away from the wall and saw a small flame on the side of the mattress.

Lever said he went into the bathroom, grabbed a dry towel to try and put it out, but couldn't and the fire began to spread.

He said he leaned his mother against the headboard and ran to the basement to grab a fire extinguisher. After unsuccessfully trying to operate the extinguisher, he called 911
Yeah, I can see how that would happen.   Leave an invalid in a burning bed, and grab a dry towel.  Why do I imagine this guy gets acquitted on a technicality??

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Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Replacing AVANTGO

Last week I was in complaint-mode because I learned was going dark.   Long before web-enabled phones were the norm, AvantGo provided PDAs and certain smart-phones the ability to update content - not unlike a feed reader - whenever the device was docked (or if you did happen to have a data plan).   For years, my smart-phone (and Pocket PC before it) provided me reading material for idle times -- waiting on a meeting to begin, watching data compile, etc.

But as of 30 June, AvantGo will be no more.  Actually, it is a good as dead now, since most of the content providers I subscribed to have already abandoned the platform.   So I've been in search of a suitable substitute.

Most of what I found out there require a data plan for updates.  That's just not in my budget, especially now (although I've never found justification for one previously). Mobipocket, however, does provide updates via ActiveSync, which means whenever I sync my Outlook contacts and appointments, my reading material gets updated, too.   So far, the actual reading panes are not quite as nice as AvantGo's offerings, but I am getting used to them.  I am looking into using Mobipocket's Creator tool to convert PDFs into readable files on my phone, too.

Check it out: Mobipocket.com

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Supreme Court Nominee Sonia Sotomayor

I've gone on record saying is entitled to his choice of nominees for the Supreme Court:

I defended President Bush's right to nominate justices and I will do the same for President Obama, despite the fact that I oppose his positions on nearly 100% of the issues.
And I stand by that statement.

So it is interesting to hear what then-Senator Obama had to say regarding the nomination of Justice :


So while I would go so far as to say the President is entitled to his nominee, what senator will have the moral fortitude to take a stand such as Mr. Obama? After all, if denying Judge Alito confirmation on the basis of his philosophy and ideology was good enough for Senator Obama, why wouldn't the same logic hold true for Judge Sontomayor for today's senate?

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AVANTGO on the way out?

I've used AVANTGO for years;  first on my Compaq iPaq PocketPC, and currently on my Samsung SGH-i607 (the original BlackJack).   It's largely geared to those who subscribe to a data plan to get real-time updates (for instance: instant flight information), but I've taken advantage of subscribing to a number of sites that offer reading material.  Many an idle moment has been saved from boredom (like waiting for appointments, dead air in meetings, etc.) by my reading articles posted to WIRED, CNET news, Cato Daily Commentary, and even Rolling Stone.  Updates to these sites are provided whenever I dock my phone at my PC and sync up to Avantgo.

After this morning's sync, I noticed a banner with unfortunate news:

 From June 30, 2009, AvantGo will no longer offer mobile Web content.
Subscribers will not be able to sync their AvantGo accounts or update channels.
Now word of a company going bust is hardly news, but there has been no mention of this (yet) that I can find online.  And it seems odd that a company not going under would suspend their primary function.

Does anyone have any clues?

UPDATE: Replacing AVANTGO

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Welcome fans of MoneyGirl

A big welcome to fans of Laura Adams, the QuickAndDiryTips financial advisor who goes by the name Money Girl.

I've been a fan of Money Girl for some time now; she offers practical financial advice while not talking down to her audience.  I've adopted more than a few of tips into my own routine, and am working my way through  her considerable archive (125 episodes and counting) to learn what ones I've missed.  Recent topics include:

  • Five Financial Tips for New Graduates
  • Paying Off Student Loans
  • Preventing Identity Theft
Ms. Adams graciously plugged my humble blog this week after I added her widget (seen in the right panel), and so I appreciate the traffic from her considerable fans (why not say hello in a comment?).   I listen to her Money Girl weekly podcasts via Lexy.com, which streams my favorite subscriptions to my cell phone for free.   There's a wide variety of shows available (including other QuickAndDiryTips authors) which make my 2 hour commute that much easier to bear. 

Subscribe to MoneyGirl through iTunes, your favorite Feed Reader, or through Lexy.com; you won't be disappointed.

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Monday, June 01, 2009

Susan Boyle

Well, I am trying to get back into posting, and have had a post on Ms. Boyle for some weeks now in drafts, but  have never quite finished it.  Today seems as good as any day to do so.

lost in the final round of .

If you haven't a clue who she is, I can't help you at this point; you're more out of the mainstream than even myself.

In the interest of full disclosure: I've never seen anything more of BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT than Ms. Boyle's initial performance.  I've never seen anything of AMERICA'S GOT TALENT or even AMERICAN IDOL for that matter.   If this means I am disqualified to review Ms. Boyle's performance, than so be it.  Find something else to read.

The entire concept of 'Got Talent' shows - be it Britain's or America's - sounds good on its face, but hopelessly fails upon review.  How can a dancer be compared to a singer be compared to a plate-spinner be compared to a comedian be compared to .... etc?   The premise of one genre act winning over another genre act is a silly one.   's did it right (although I can't recall ever watching that show either), with categories of winners. 

As for whether she was unfairly overlooked because of her looks:  it's possible, but under the circumstances, how could one claim that when the comparison was her apples (singing) to a dance troupe's oranges?

When I looked at her photos, I had a diverse view: also in the interest of full disclosure, Ms. Boyle's got nothing on me.  I make no bones about the fact I am hardly an attractive man, by any stretch, so I can understand more than most how difficult it can be under many circumstances (but certainly not all) to compete with those who are attractive.    And in the looks department, I got Ms. Boyle beat (and I mean that as a compliment to her).    But at the same time, compared to what passes as attractive in women's music - and we all know what I mean - she is at a disadvantage.  Should that mean she should have won had she been young, thin and glamorous?   Perhaps, but then again, perhaps not since the dance troupe kicked-ass.

In the end, all things considered, this whole issue has been overblown - much to the delight of Rupert Murdoch - and is not worth the time I took to type this post.  If you like her voice (and she has a great range), then buy her CD;  you know she's got a contract even though she lost the big prize.    If not, don't.

But can we please stop obsessing over these programs?

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