Archive for December, 2008

Best Prank Ever

Posted in Humor on December 26th, 2008



Courtesy of SMBC

The New eDeal

Posted in Politics, Technology on December 25th, 2008

In keeping with the neo-Socialist principles of the Liberals, President-elect Obama is pushing hard for a stimulus package that is essentially a modern version of FDR’s “New Deal”, which created a federal welfare state, devalued Us currency by ending the gold standard and ended prohibition. Obama has pledged that his incoming administration would make the largest “investment” in national infrastructure projects since the late 1950s. Among these projects is a plan for expanding access to Internet broadband, the so-called information superhighway.

Leaving aside for the moment all the “brick & mortar” projects Obama wants to use taxpayers’ money to fund, let’s look to the future in the form of “expanding access to Internet broadband.”

During the Great Depression and FDR’s resultant reactionary New Deal, the US Federal government tried to revive the American economy with the public work projects, this ended up paying people to dig unneeded ditches, ditches to nowhere. It is likely that Obama’s plan for expanding access to broadband internet services will end up in a similar fashion, having built “information superhighways to nowhere.” President-elect Barack Obama and many Liberal want to spend billions of tax dollars on a nationwide broadband build-out as part of his planned economic stimulus package. But how do we ensure that those billions aren’t spent creating the 21st century equivalent of ditches to nowhere?

Essentially the question of how to spend the money is not one that can be answered. The underlying coverage and usage data is just not available. Only a tiny few know anything substantive about the internet’s actual infrastructure and those that do know aren’t sharing that information with policymakers, regulators, or their competitors.

The FCC has essentially created a fictional story about broadband’s growth and deployment. Had the FCC done the actual work to examine the history of broadband and then questioned why America was not getting properly upgraded, we wouldn’t be 15th in the world in broadband.

–  Bruce Kushnick
TeleTruth,
An Alliance for Customers’ Telecommunications Rights

Earlier FCC found that its data collection on internet broadband was incomplete and thus ruled that AT&T, Qwest and Verizon could stop filing some reports – because the reporting requirements did not extend to cable companies, as well as more traditional telecommunications companies.

Without public data how can the US federal government find anything close to best way of making the internet more resilient, accessible and secure? With little or no data to work from and the very real probability of this being a useless waste of tax dollars, this does sound a lot like a 21st century version of FDR’s New Deal.

Why Digital TV?

Posted in Politics, Technology on December 25th, 2008

There’s been a fair amount of media coverage of- and hoopla over the Congressionally mandated switch over to all-digital television broadcasts within the US with its “drop dead” date for analog receivers being February 18, 2009. The oft-repeated message coming from both the US government and the television broadcast companies has been, “don’t panic.” There are many ways to keep millions of televisions in American households from going black.

I think its good that the US government and the television broadcast companies have both made sure that digital television antennas and analog-to-digital converter boxes are readily available to the households who don’t subscribe to cable or satellite TV sources. I also think it’s good that the US government and television broadcast companies doing what they can to keep this switch-over from becoming a cause for mass panic. We certainly don’t want the US public to fear that their television may be taken way 😉

But question remained floating around in my mind. Why is our government forcing this change to happen, and what is the US government’s “interest” in passing legislation to mandate the switch-over from analog to digital television?

The Given Answer(s)

Analog TV signals use the 700MHz (698 – 806MHz) frequency band, this means that by nature, they have a longer range than those frequency bands used by the wireless and electronics industries. Freeing the whole of that spectrum from television’s use could mean easier and cheaper deployment of broadband networks, which could translate to more affordable, widespread high-speed Internet access for consumers.

A portion (24 MHz at or near the upper end) of the 700MHz spectrum would also be set aside for police, fire, ambulance and other public safety responders who must rely on the analog spectrum to communicate due to its greater range and coverage.

By the time of the 2009 switch-over, the US government will have auctioned the remaining parts of the 700MHz spectrum to companies interested in deploying wireless technologies. The proceeds from these auctions are estimated at about $10 billion by the Congressional Budget Office.

Gays To Boycott Etheridge?

Posted in Politics, Society on December 24th, 2008

The LGBT community has been quite vocal and vitriolic recently. They’ve vehemently complained about California’s electorate passing Proposition 8, boycotting businesses who’s employees donated to the Prop 8 cause, and even going so far in a few cases as to assault people, and to attack and vandalize churches nationwide. The gays have ranted at President-elect Obama for his choice of Pastor Rick Warren, a proponent of traditional marriage and Prop 8, to perform the Invocation at Obama Inauguration. LGBT community has been particularly loud in their complaint that Obama has failed somehow to choose an openly queer person for his Cabinet.

Oscar and Grammy Award-Winning Singer/Songwriter, staunch Gay Rights activist, and openly lesbian Melissa Etheridge has been quite involved with the struggle of Gays v. California. She had previously went so far as to threaten to refuse to pay her California state income tax in response to Prop 8’s passage. Mrs. Etheridge has to some extent been the darling of the LGBT Community to date.

But Melissa Etheridge has seemingly strayed from the currently hyper-polarized agenda of the LGBT community. Unlike many other gays and lesbians she has failed to brand President-elect Obama as a homophobe and has even went so far as to invite Pastor Rick Warren into her home in order to talk with him about same-sex marriage and gay rights in general. Her opinions of Warren and her views on how gays should move forward in response to his selection to perform the Invocation may well be seen as heretical by her own people.

From the Huffignton Post of the unlikely all places:

I told my manager to reach out to Pastor Warren and say “In the spirit of unity I would like to talk to him.” They gave him my phone number. On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick, and before I could say anything, he told me what a fan he was. He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn’t sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher. He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn’t want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. He invited me to his church, I invited him to my home to meet my wife and kids. He told me of his wife’s struggle with breast cancer just a year before mine.

When we met later that night, he entered the room with open arms and an open heart. We agreed to build bridges to the future.

Brothers and sisters the choice is ours now. We have the world’s attention. We have the capability to create change, awesome change in this world, but before we change minds we must change hearts. Sure, there are plenty of hateful people who will always hold on to their bigotry like a child to a blanket. But there are also good people out there, Christian and otherwise that are beginning to listen. They don’t hate us, they fear change. Maybe in our anger, as we consider marches and boycotts, perhaps we can consider stretching out our hands. Maybe instead of marching on his church, we can show up en mass and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world.

— Melissa Etheridge
HuffPo, The Choice Is Ours Now

Melissa Etheridge is a brave woman. It takes great courage to speak reason and rational behavior in the face of anger, hate, and intolerance. One has to wonder what price she will be forced to pay for looking beyond indignation, what punishment, if any, the LGBT community will enact upon her for breaking ranks with them on this issue.

In the current wildly intolerant climate of the Gay Rights movement will Melissa Etheridge be labeled as some sort of “Gay Uncle Tom” for not unilaterally denouncing both Obama and Warren? Will Gays now boycott Etheridge’s music and ostracize her and her family?

An Inaccurate Postulate

Posted in The Environment on December 23rd, 2008

Back in 1992 Al Gore published Earth in the Balance, which was the relatively quiet first shot in the war of Global Warming v. The Developed World. Gore followed up this work with the 2006 release of An Inconvenient Truth, which was the first real frontal offensive by the Global Warming movement against the various commercial and industrial powers of our world. Years later we are deeply entrenched in a protracted battle over this issue.

This is sad and maddening because the entire perceived – or possibly manufactured – Global Warming crisis is based on the postulate that the Earth is growing warmer and that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause of this warming.

From Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

Postulate
Pronunciation:\?päs-ch?-l?t, -?l?t\

Function: noun
Date: 1646

Definition(s):

  1. a hypothesis advanced as an essential presupposition, condition, or premise of a train of reasoning

The adherents Global Warming have based their whole platform of radical change on a hypothesis. Worse they continue to base their actions on this hypothesis even though what evidence they had to support it was always in contention and has later been countered by later evidence that they discovered themselves. Personally, I would describe that as an wildly inaccurate postulate from which to continue to propose an agenda.

We don’t actually have any proof that the planet is warming at all. Much of the earlier evidence that supported that hypothesis has since been called into question.

The Global Warming adherents are still clinging to the science of the last decade, which has been called into question by later findings. That is both foolish and poor science. The closest they seem to have come to altering their hypothesis to fit with the changing available facts is to rebrand Global Warming as Climate Change.

I’m am not saying that the Earth’s climate isn’t changing, nor am I saying it isn’t growing warmer. I am saying that it isn’t proven by any means to be doing so. I think more research has to be done. I certainly think though that people shouldn’t be taking drastic, society changing actions to curb Global Warming until it is somewhat more rational to believe it’s happening; a less emotional satisfying but more reasoned approach seems to be called for.

On the other hand, none of the contrary evidence is significant enough to complete refute the hypothesis of Global Warming or Climate Change. Perhaps the Earth is growing warmer – but is mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions the primary culprit? The followers of Al Gore describe it as Anthropogenic Global Warming and would certainly have you believe so.  Sadly for them, this is also a postulate that multi-disciplined evidence questions.

So, in the face of contradictory evidence what should people do? Should we really overturn the industries and whole societies of the Developed World because of an innacurate postulate, or should we approach it with all due caution and not loose sight of issues beyond CO2 emissions?