Archive for September, 2008

not this time, thanks

Here’s a message to Adobe – bite me! I’ve been a faithful upgrader of their Creative Suite, as well as their software before there was a Creative Suite, but after having just spent $600 on an upgrade to CS3 last year, I’ll be damned if I’m going to drop another $600 again this year for CS4. I suppose that may not be a lot of money to a big design company, but it’s a hell of a shot for a small guy like me.

For now and the foreseeable future, I’ll live with CS3. Heck, I haven’t even had time to learn everything I can do with it so I think I’ll be just fine with not spending another $600 on the upgrade. I can understand companies like Adobe wanting to have a cash flow, but if it means yearly upgrades at that kind of money, fugetaboutit.

bookmark: the god delusion

The God Delusion – by Richard Dawkins

One of the definitive books on the atheist’s view of religion. I doubt that there are many arguments against religion that are not covered here.

(Finished 9/12/08)

9/11 + 7 years

It’s been seven years since the Twin Towers came down, the Pentagon was attacked, and a hijacked airplane crashed in Pennsylvania. Seven years since we in the United States have been forced to face the cold, hard fact that there are people in this world who are more than willing to destroy us on our own home turf in the name of their god, country, culture – whatever. The motivating factors are irrelevant; the consequences of such actions are not.

One of the web sites I read often is instapunk.com. Today’s post on that site was prefaced by this video. The clip is from the movie Terminator 2, and portrays one of the greatest fears which we as a country should have – a nuclear explosion within one of our major cities. Watching that video clip, you almost get sick to your stomach thinking about what such an explosion would mean. That such a thing has not happened yet is a tribute to the hard work of our country’s intelligence operations, and in no small part to good luck and a lack of courage on the part of our enemy.

It is not unusual for our memories of the events of seven years ago to fade. For some reason which I will leave to you to determine, the media insists that we do not need to see the images or video of the attack on the Twin Towers any more. We have been overexposed to them and need to “heal.” I disagree. I am firmly in the camp of those who think that those videos should be seen more often. We need to refresh our memories and keep alive our motivation to keep anything like that, or worse, from happening here again. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” – a quote with which I could not agree more. When we allow ourselves to forget about the past we open ourselves up to experience the same horrors.

But even my memories had faded. I had forgotten the fear I felt about my son living and working in Chicago, knowing that if something big happened there it could well mean his life. I had not seen footage of the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers for quite some time and the memory of all the innocent people killed in that terrorist attack, as well as the deaths of all the brave men and women who responded to that disaster, had started to become fuzzy. Taking a few minutes today to review those images and videos has reawakened my personal determination that this does not happen again. It has also reinforced the fact that the issue of national security trumps all other issues when it comes to the upcoming presidential election.

lipstick on a pig

What a goofy flap. I’m so damn sick of politics I could puke. Now you have to throw in something stupid like Obama using the phrase, “You can put lipstick on a pig, etc.” Big, bloody, freaking deal! Did he intentionally use the phrase as a backhanded swipe at Sarah Palin? I think he probably did. Does it matter? Hell, no!!

Palin used a lipstick joke in her speech the other day, so Obama and/or his staff should have been aware of it. If not, they are stupid. If they were, then it was a clever way to call Palin a pig. So what? Who thinks that there is any love lost between any of the candidates? If they thought they could get away with it, the candidates would be standing out in the middle of the road shouting obscenities at each other like a bunch of road-raged Californians.

We want to keep “name-calling” out of politics? Does anyone really believe that saying that someone is a “liberal” or a “conservative” isn’t name-calling when it’s done by the opposing party? Wouldn’t you rather have one candidate just go ahead and call the other candidate a jackass when he says something really stupid? I guess I’m just as tired of “political correctness” as I am of politics in general.

I would say that I can’t wait until the elections are over, but you know that the day after the elections the damn media are going to start speculating about the candidates for the next election, even though it will be four years away. I wonder what the politicians would do if all forms of media agreed not to discuss politics at all for at least a year. I know, impossible to happen, but if the politicians didn’t have an audience to play to, maybe they would get something done. Better yet, maybe they would just take a year off and leave us citizens alone to live our lives in peace.

mr mayor’s mind-warp

Sometimes politicians are inadvertently honest. Recently Mayor Daley – the mayor of Chicago, if you didn’t know – was bitching about the governor of Illinois mandating that seniors get free rides on the local public transit system, thereby reducing the Chicago Transit Authority’s income and exacerbating its budget problems.

Within the mayor’s rant was this gem – “You want to help people. So, why don’t you give the money to help? It’s great to sit there and say, ‘I want to mandate everybody.’ I sound like a great politician. I gave everything away. But, it costs somebody else some money. That’s what they do in the state and federal governments. They mandate it. They want to look good in the eyes of the public. And they say, ‘Let someone else pay for it.’ That’s truly unfair.(emphasis added)

Excuse me, you moron, but what do you think your city government – and most assuredly that includes you – does all the time? Gee, when the shoe is on your political foot you scream bloody murder, but when it comes to taxing the residents of Chicago to support all the public programs that you think will make you look good as a politician, anyone who complains just doesn’t see the big picture or is unappreciative of your efforts or is just some selfish citizen unwilling to do his part. How completely stupid can the mayor be not to see the self-condemnation in his own words?

No matter how you give money away, whether it is by mandating free rides for people or by giving those people state money for their tickets, the funding definitely costs someone else money – the taxpayer! To the mayor’s mind, if the state pays for it, it doesn’t cost anyone any money, but if the CTA (which, by the way, is tax supported) has to pay for it, then it costs money. What a dolt.

IKEA

Let’s hear it for IKEA. I needed a kitchen table and a couple of chairs and they came through with flying colors. Okay, it may not be fine furniture, but when it comes to inexpensive, utilitarian furnishings, their product fits the bill. For less than $200 I have a sturdy table and two acceptable chairs. Of course, you can spend more than that at IKEA, but when down and dirty does the job, why spend more?

You have to love their assembly instruction sheets. No words at all, just an androgynous character when needed and line drawings. I have to admit that one of the things the chair assembly instruction sheet was trying to say is still a mystery to me, but I got them together without a problem and without having to solve that mystery.

Being a woodworker, or at least being one when I have a shop available, I may be a bit more critical than the average consumer. The finish certainly could be improved and I would like to have a hardwood for the chairs instead of just pine. Cost wise, it would have actually cost me as much, if not more, for the materials to build the table and chairs myself, and without a shop to work in the convenience more than makes up for a product that doesn’t quite meet my personal woodworking standards.

One of the nice things about this furniture is being able to easily dispose of it at the end of its life. All I have to do is take it apart and feed it into the fireplace and recycle the few metal parts.  Talk about getting double use out of a product.

Only one thing marred my shopping experience at IKEA. While I was jockeying the table packages around (I had to go down to the third box in the stack before I got a box that looked acceptable to me), a woman came up to me and asked me if I needed any help. Sigh. Yeah, I know I am looking more and more like an old man, but my ego didn’t need to get slapped around. It’s not like I was struggling with the boxes as they only weigh fifty-five pounds – it only looked like I might have been having trouble because the box is awkward and they were stacked up over my head. I do appreciate the kindness of someone offering to help, but I don’t need any more reminders of my slide into oblivion.

While you can find plenty of people willing to slap IKEA around, I think that it is a store that has a definite place in our world. If you are just starting out on your own or have a limited budget, check them out. And no, I have no financial interest in this, other than saving a few bucks where I can.

Why People Believe Weird Things – Michael Shermer

This book is more about the weird things that people believe than why they believe them, though there is a section towards the end of the book that hits the topic more squarely. After reading the book, I found myself wondering why we don’t all believe every weird thing there is. Sometimes it seems that our minds and bodies can be our own worst enemies.

(Finished 9/1/08)