Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sorry Cisco

There are a series of commercials for Cisco - I'm not sure what part of Cisco this is supposed to represent - the point to point communication that is demonstrated? the routers that make it possible? the software that undergirds the network? It isn't clear.

In one commercial the young woman visits her elementary school classroom. The students in the classroom announce that they're going to China. Then, surprise, we see a Chinese classroom in beautiful 1080p resolution.

Of course, there's a problem for Cisco. It's called the internet. A quick search for a World Clock reveals that part of China is thirteen hours ahead of central time - so twelve hours ahead of east coast time (which is where Ellen seems to live). That means when it is 9 am in, say, Weymouth MA it's what - 10 pm in Beijing. Hmmm.

One set of those school children are either on tape - or up way past their bed times.

Copenhagen, BTW is 6 hours ahead of Midwest - five hours ahead of the east coast?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Somebody Say Something

Each week I get Jerry Moran's newsletter. Each week I find reason to be outraged.

One week it was his insistence that ACORN was undermining the American democracy. Nonsense. Plus, the bill that the House passed was unconstitutional. (Read yesterday that ACORN is folding its tents and going away. Now who will the demagogic right flog?) Then there was "Cap and Tax," a right wing talking point.

It was on and on. I responded to Moran on several occasions. I pointed out that the anti-ACORN bill was a bill of attainder (which the court also found - no surprise) and therefore unconstitutional, and I never got a response from the congressman. I pointed out that "Cap and Tax" was a right wing talking point. I never got a response.

I keep getting "call your Congressman" notices from various liberal and progressive organizations and I ignore them. What's the point.

But this week's letter from Moran beats all.

Instead of working to improve our current system and reduce costs, this plan will substantially grow the Federal government, impose job-killing tax hikes on our fragile economy, increase our growing deficit, and cut Medicare by more than half a trillion dollars.

That quote, from his newsletter, is not justified by any facts. In fact, the CBO says just the opposite - that this will be good for small business and individuals because it will reduce the deficit. It will not cut Medicare in ways that effect the recipient. That's also been authoritatively demonstrated. But our Congressman doesn't care about facts. He apparently doesn't think we care about facts either.
Later in the newsletter he writes:

Like many Kansas families, my wife Robba, and I recently sat down at our kitchen table and finalized our tax return.

Now, this may in fact be entirely true, but it is entirely misleading.

It sounds as if he and his wife sat at their kitchen table and worked through, by hand, with paper and pencil and calculator and tax tables, their 1040. Sure they did. You know that Jerry Moran has his taxes done by some high powered firm, either in Washington or in Kansas City - the likelihood that he has his taxes done by H.R. Block or does them using one of the online softwares is slim to none. Moran is a fairly well to do lawyer who has spent much of his life in Congress - he is an insider. He and his wife may have sat at the kitchen table and signed the documents, but that's about it. C'mon. Be honest.

I'm pretty much tired of this kind of lying on the part of our Republican officials, and I call bullshit on it!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bed, Bed, I couldn't go to bed

It's almost Friday of Spring Break. I've gotten a heap done, but I still have a heap more I want to do. I can't go to bed. There are too many fun things yet to do.

I've uploaded a bunch of photos to Panoramio, another Google photo site - one that is closely connected to Google earth. It's pretty cool. I was able to map a panoramic shot of a school front in Stockholm to the precise location, and the Gorilla to the gorilla enclosure at the Como Zoo. Lots of fun browsing other photos near yours. I'm just getting to know that site, but I want to stay up and explore more.

I've also spent some time this week working on the Lindsborg Rotary site, and getting ready for our trip to Iceland. Started studying Icelandic online. It is indeed related to Swede - modern Swedish is an outgrowth of the old Norse that is the basis for contemporary Icelandic.

So many things to get done. But now it is Friday and now I should give it up and go to bed. Tomorrow, grade papers and start to head back to being a teacher. In the meantime, more fun.

I'm really sad that I'm not 30 and have another 50 years of learning how to get the most out of life. I know how to do it now - when I was 30 I was not at all ready for what I'm doing now. But if I could go back with all that I know now - what fun I could have!

Tomorrow I take my second lesson on working with Photoshop Elements.

I wonder why students don't get as excited about learning how to do new things as I do. Maybe I should ask them.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

One Day of Spring

It was sixty today. Sixty.

More important, the sun was shining. Do you hear! The Sun was Shining!

I didn't get the porch painted today. I bought a bio degradable paint stripper, but it takes four to twenty four hours between application and paint being ready to strip. I'm going to try after dinner.

But I had to prove I was out in the beautiful sunshine, that I didn't spend my whole day sitting on the couch working on my online life. I really didn't.

I did, however, take a few pictures to play with. This is the result of starting an online course in using Photoshop elements 6.0. I've only taken one lesson and I've only learned one technique - selecting part of the photo for alteration. Tomorrow, Friday, I take lesson two! Who knows what I'll learn by the time this course is over.

It's part of the ed2go system. Cengage, a division of the same company that publishes Wadsworth books. I'm taking it through Fort Hayes State University, but they're not involved in the process, other than collecting the fees. The instructor has set up the class fairly well, but it's a bit like working through a text book.

Still, I'm learning something new, it's the only day of spring we're going to get before spring. So, what's there to complain about.

Monday, March 8, 2010

What Am I Worried About?

Saturday, testing a device to send a signal from the family room to the dining room, I played a video from Smithsonian. title: "How the earth was made."

It's actually an amazing video, not only showing a complete time line of the 4.5 billion years the earth has been here, but also, briefly, how we know that it was 4.5 billion years. Mind you, I spent most of the time of the video fiddling with antennas and settings, so I didn't get the details down. However, what I saw was clear and compelling and a fantastic scientific presentation of what we know of our earth and how it came to be. The video ends with "where we're going."

The future, according to the scientific vision, is bleak. The current arrangement of the continents is temporary. The great Pangea of early life will reform. However, it will be the last reformation of the continents and the end of life on this planet. The planet will, essentially, run out of gas and be unable to sustain life.

Mind you, that's 250 million years from now. But it got me worried.

I've always been worried over the future of the planet and my little future in the context of the future of the planet. I remember as a little guy, maybe eight or nine years old, being shown some film about the planet and its future. It was at my church and probably at the instigation of my Pastor, so it was probably a fundie film from the Moody Bible Institute.

The thought that there was or would be an apocalypse sometime scared me. Still does. Can't do anything about it, but it scares me. The visions of doom that History Channel regularly projects in their "Life After Humans" series don't fascinate me, they frighten me.

I know this says more about me than about the world.

Why does contemplation of ends frighten me? I've tried over the years to do those things that will make it less frightening. I've spent quality time with the Revelation to St. John. I know that that is not, in fact, a book about the end of earth, but rather a book meant to comfort those under persecution - "You see how bad you've got it, just wait and see what's going to happen to your enemies - and look, you're being cared for even after being killed." I get that. I don't find it particularly comforting, but I don't find it frightening either.

I've tried to look the end in the face and stand firm. But I flinch. I am a coward. I'd like to not think about my demise, not consider the demise of this earth, but I seem to be powerless.

What I need is someone whose vision is clearer than mine who will help me see that there is a reason to rejoice, even if the whole globe goes dark in 250 million. Somebody, convince me!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Why The Assumption of Bad Faith?

Even before the Health Care Summit last week the commentariat assumed that the whole was mere political theatre, with both the President and the Republicans using the event as a way to score political points.

What evidence did the various news outlets give - and these were reports on NPR, on MSNBC, on CNN - that the President was acting in bad faith and was uninterested in actually getting the best bill possible? Yes, we had lots of indicators that the Republicans were acting in bad faith.

Their insistence upon Pay-Go, until the President of the opposite party supported it was just one of the indicators. Their insistence that a health care bill include their ideas - until it did and they still wouldn't support it.

But where was the evidence that the President was also acting in bad faith? The White House laid out the 100 places where there was compromise and/or adoption of Republican ideas. Of course the White House isn't about to scrap the whole and begin again. That's not a reasonable demand on the part of the minority party.

Yes, a majority of Americans now oppose what's being called Obama care, but the majority of Americans also don't know what's actually in the bills - and the commentariat hasn't helped there.

What happened to reporting? Why are we stuck with nothing but commentary, usually disguised as reporting? Why do organizations that decry the constant use of "horse race" as the only way to describe the national scene continue to use horse race as the only way they describe the national political scene.

I'm pretty tired of both the mainstream and the alternative news.