Monday, January 29, 2007

REVIEW: Idiocracy

" ...I lik mony"

Ovr at Al Fin's sight I was introdoosed to the funyest moovy I hav evr sien in a long tim. It made me laff, it made me cri. I wil nevr look at Fudruckers or Starbucks the saim waay agin. U neid to cee this moovy two!

Starring Luke Wilson (the better half of the Wilson acting duo of Owen and Luke) it is mad cap look at the future of our society 500 years into the future. Strangely, this movie never saw a theatrical release. It went straight to DVD well over a year after it was filmed. After seeing it I still don't know who might have been offended other than the stereotypical denizens of mobile home parks. (Perhaps Fudruckers and Starbucks might have had a problem with it???).

The Premise:
In the year 2005 a super secret military project goes awry when Wilson and a street walker are chosen to undergo a sort of cryogenic deep freeze. Before the year is up the program gets canceled and our two hero's wind up in a landfill where the sit for 500 years.

In the future mankind has become increasingly stupid for reasons detailed in a funny, yet telling scene. The couple with the high IQ's wait and wait until everything is just perfect in their lives before even considering having a child (of course the time never comes). Simultaneously on the seedier side of town a complete uneducated moron is sticking his you-know-what in every woman who can boast to be his intellectual equal. Now extrapolate that out over 2000 generations and you get the picture.

That's where the fun begins. I won't go into anymore detail and spoil your fun other than to say that when the painfully average pair from 21st century emerge from their "coffins" following the great landfill avalanche of 2505 they are the smartest people on Earth - by a long shot.

What is so amazing about this movie is the sheer plausibility of it. The signs are everywhere. Al Fin has been doing a series of excellent posts on the education of our youth and the falling average IQ rates in the world. We can't deny that we are having more done for - and expecting less from - children, young adults and even ourselves. Just try taking an eighth grade test from the turn of the 20th century before trying to convince yourself you are smarter than those who lived a hundred years ago.

If you need anymore convincing just rent Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby the next day...

I ressed mi kase!


Monday, January 22, 2007

Net Neutrality - Forit or Aginit?

Forit or Aginit?

What the Heck is Net Neutrality Anyway?

It's a very interesting debate actually. It is a debate in which both sides have merit. Both sides have a lot of dishonesty too. On one side we have your "grassroots" salt of the earth types, the little guy... On the other, big, bad corporate America out to screw said little guy.

Now that we have that out of the way we can try to make up our own minds on a rather complicated but fascinating problem. It involves the future of the Internet as well as the past. That is to say in the past the Internet was one large unrestricted, unregulated TUBE. Did I say tube? Err, I meant to say pipe. I sure hope Comedy Central doesn't find out I said tube instead of pipe, but I digress...

The post DARPA Internet has always been a bit of a free for all. Since the birth of the World Wide Web (WWW) many companies and organizations have used it as test bed for new ideas and money making schemes - some that stuck, many that didn't. It has always been the same for everyone - no special privileges - provided you paid for access. Most of the time the amount of bandwidth you wanted dictated the cost.

For many years this worked fine. The Internet we all know and love for all intents and purposes is now over a decade old and its "wild westness" is just now starting to be tamed. Those who were there at the beginning including Vinton Cerf, the co-inventor of TCP/IP and current Chief Internet Evangelist of Google do not want to see the common cartage nature of the Internet changed. In his recent testimony, he said, “allowing broadband carriers to control what people see and do online would fundamentally undermine the principles that have made the Internet such a success.” Net neutrality has been pushed by virtually all of the major internet companies now benefiting immensely from this "pricing" structure including, Yahoo!, and especially Google. The largest bandwidth hog in the world, Microsoft has also taken a stance in support of Net Neutrality. Not surprisingly, opposition has come primarily from those in the telecommunications industry.

The problem with what Mr. Cerf asserts is that it's not a complete or completely honest description.

Let me explain:

When I first started in computer networking we didn't prioritize anything. In other words it was a first come first serve basis for all traffic (data). Occasionally the "network" would come to a crawl and all users and all processes would suffer. We would eventually find that the culprit was someone doing a large file transfer using FTP. FTP will take every megabit of pipe it can gobble up until it is done. We tried to control it - or we just lived with the network bogging down now and again. Along came IP Telephony, or voice over the data network (which is physically separated from the traditional phone network). Voice over IP or VoIP as it is called has a tremendous cost savings that companies simply love. But when you throw voice on the data network a slow down just destroys the conversation - the call becomes unintelligible.

The nature of TCP/IP allows for a congested network to drop data packets. By using error detecting it retransmits the lost data which is then reassembled at the receiving end. Try doing that with a telephone conversation. (Remember Max Headroom?) So, we use QoS (Quality of Service), traffic shaping, and priority queuing at the network level to support the phone call without adversely affecting the network as a whole. It means that sometimes "regular data" transfers at a slower rate .

This is a rudimentary description of what the telco carriers (your ISP) will need to do as the Internet evolves. They want to be able to separate types of traffic; giving certain traffic a bandwidth edge - sort of like the "sane lane" on a freeway system. The rub is that the broadband carriers will want to charge more for accessing the sane lane. They claim that the Internet will act the same way it always has for everyone else. However those who pay the extra freight charges will get priority when push comes to shove.

Both sides say that the other side will stifle innovation. I tend to disagree. The ISP's, the carriers, say they need to build the system in a segmented fashion precisely to spur innovation, innovations we haven't even thought of yet. The Net Neutrality folks say that the spirit of the Internet has always been equal access for all. The things we now take for granted on the Internet were pioneered by someone throwing something out there at little to no cost to see if it was viable. Clearly innovation will happen either way. The broadband providers simply want to have a multi-tired Internet where they can charge more for offering a more guaranteed "pipe".

Google and Microsoft chew up enormous amount of bandwidth and pay the same per potential megabit as you or I whether we use it or not. It is no wonder they don't want it to change. When Vinton Cerf and the Net Neutrality lobby use the common cartage model of our roadway systems (meaning we don't have separate highways for trucks, we all use the same roads) they are really making a poor case. Trucks and trucking companies pay an enormous amount of local taxes and federal excise taxes, far beyond what you or I pay for our cars. As they should. Trucks eat up the roads while they make a lot of money moving goods around on "our" roads. Gee, sounds a lot like Yahoo! Microsoft and Google doesn't it? Besides, we do have different systems to move freight such as the airlines, ships and the railroads that the average person has absolutely no access to.

On the other hand many broadband carriers exist without any competition. They set the price at whatever they want. This is potentially a huge problem. Potentially not... Wireless is on the way and there is competition in that arena, or, at least there is for now.

The Nutshell

The Net Neutrality supporters have a valid fear. It's that same fear socialists have about the unbridled power of the "corporate state". The fear is that the broadband carriers could simply choose to block or significantly slow down traffic moving to a from web sites and Internet users that don't pay up. Pure control in the hands of a few... Given the mega-corporation penchant for maximizing profits and pure greed one can't simply dismiss this concern out of hand.

The broadband carriers want to be able to develop incredible fast and wide "pipes" by upgrading their infrastructures to the tune of billions of dollars. Like the pharmaceutical companies they feel they should be able to charge accordingly to recoup their investment. Net Neutrality says no, you can't charge some people (organizations) more than you charge others. This is idiotic. The potential for a future we can't even imagine yet rests on these "providers" "road builders" "plumbers" being able to construct this new foundation and making a profit.

It is not a slam dunk for either side in my opinion. However, if I were to take sides I will always lean to the side that does not involve Congress making new laws. If I had a vote on the matter it would be thumbs down on Net Neutrality. What do you think?


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Can't We All Just Get Along?

I just want to scream.

Ever since the 2006 elections when the Democrats re-took both houses of Congress (the Senate by the slightest of margins) we have been hearing the cry for bipartisanship. What a crock of shit (excuse the language, please).

To hear Sister Hillary say that she wants to work on fixing Social Security as if it is her big idea. It was Hillary and the rest of the Democratic party that behaved like spoiled children lying on the ground and kicking their feet at the very idea of even looking at Social Security reform. Well, that's because it was Bush - the first President with the guts to even put it on the table - that was ringing the alarm bells about the trouble the program is facing.

The Democrats to the Republicans: Now that we OWN the ball we expect you to play nice. Never mind that we ran around with our hands over our ears yelling we can't hear you for six years.

Republicans to Democrats: Uh, yep. yep. Which way did he go, which way did he go. Can we play with the cute little bunny rabbits, can we George, can we?

I used to think the Republicans were a serious party. When Newt brought them to power in '94 the promise was so great to stem the tide of creeping socialism. They have stumbled and bumbled since the beginning. President Bush, whom I have supported on many issues, is the worst stumbler of them all. It seems to me on the issues pushed through by those "right of center" that fell right in line with a free market/capitalistic society were not only ideologically right they also worked! Welfare reform, budgetary reform, tax cuts to name just a few proved that we didn't have to tow the socialist line forever...

Is the Republican's turn to lay on the ground kicking and screaming and refusing to play? Probably, but they won't do it.

I just want to scream.


Monday, January 15, 2007

Hold My Nose and Vote

Earlier this week I heard the governor of my state on Bill Bennet's "Morning in America" radio show announce that he was the co-chair of John McCain's Presidential run. While I like Tim Pawlenty quite a bit - having voted for him twice - I am not a big fan of John McCain.

McCain or McVain if you will, is a media whore. He may well be a conservative in many respects, his voting record bears that out but in his self-assigned role a Virtue in Chief he has alienated most of the conservative base of the Republican party - far more than even George W. Bush. In his overwhelming need to be loved by the liberals who control the access to the major news cycles he has run roughshod over any and all conservatives in his way. The ironic thing is as soon as he gains any traction as the Republican standard bearer his "friends" in the MSM will turn on him with the same viciousness they now reserve for President Bush. (The left wing blogosphere already has.)

It is his sponsorship and dedication to so-called campaign finance reform that is the most damaging thing he has done to himself and to this country. On its face campaign finance reform was a worthy project, but not the turd McCain-Feingold produced. I say let spigots run as long as every candidate is bound by full and immediate disclosure.

What McCain-Feingold has unleashed on America was the 527 organizations. A 527 group is a private, tax-exempt political organization set up under Section 527 of the U.S. tax code. These groups have been in existance for years. They became major players in American politics in 2004. McCain-Feingold shut the door on unlimited contributions also known as soft money to political parties, and now many of the big-dollar donations began flowing to 527 groups instead.

Where's the harm you say? Doesn't this actually hurt the Democrats more than the Republicans? Yes, in fact it does - that's the harm. Despite what you you think of the right-wing in America we do desire to have 2 solid and relevant political parties. We need a ying and a yang, one to balance the other, one to keep the other honest. What this did was destroy the traditional way the the Democratic Party got donations and replaced it with George Soros.

When George Soros's gave $12 million to independent political outfits that sought to defeat President Bush he began the financial take over of the Democratic party. In 2006 he won it all and by 2008 he may get the Presidency to boot. Soros and his ilk with willing accomplices in the media doing all they can to scandalize anything Republican/Conservative/Christian will be deciding who runs this country.

If you read up on Soros you will learn that he was in part one of the subversive entities that was instrumental in the destruction of the Soviet Union. Well, then isn't he a hero? Not exactly. His tactics were to destroy the foundations of society through the decimation of Christianity and the use of abortion. He is a major funding agent in countless organizations that promote abortion in all the former Soviet states, client states and now all of Europe. He has brought his crusade (pun intended) to America.

Where does McCain fit into all of this? In my book he has to explain his association with Soros - and there are plenty of reasons to be suspicious. Only when Soros and his minions go after McCain with the gusto they have attacked Bush will I start to be comfortable with him.

Soros is a cancer on this country. Anyone he associates with is to be suspected - with McCain's POW history could we be looking at the real Manchurian Candidate?

If John McCain is nominated and if he explains his dealing with Soros satisfactorily I will hold my nose and vote for him. Those are big IFs.

I only wish Tim Pawlenty had announced his own exploratory committee, he is some one I can vote for without a clothespin.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Beasts Of The Setting Sun

"Beasts Of The Setting Sun"
18X24 (acrylic)

This is my new painting. It was inspired by a photo by wildlife photographer Nigel Dennis. While I didn't start out with this idea - no paint was mixed on the palette for this one. The colors came straight from the tube and onto the canvas. Colorful isn't it?

This and many other paintings can be seen on my companion site,


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Major Media's Double Standards

Shocking I tell you, shocking.

The major media in this country disgusts me. I'm sorry if I sound like a conspiracy nut, but the double standards displayed by the alphabet news outlets (ABC, CBS, NYT, NBC, CNN, PBS, NPR, LAT, WaPo) has gone beyond the point of absurdity. It is so out of whack that I have a hard time believing anything I see or hear from any news source.

For example: The Democrat congressman from Louisiana, William Jefferson, caught red handed taking bribes - has he gone through the scandalous shellacking that ANY Republican would? No, with the help of the media he not only avoided any shame or embarrassment - he was reelected! How about Harry Reid... Our new Senate Majority leader has had extremely shady land/money dealings in Nevada. Where's the 24/7 scandal on that one?

There's the rather funny incident on CNN - CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer confused America's "number one enemy" Osama bin Laden with Senator Barack Obama. It is a hoot if you ask me, but what if it had been FOX news? Do you think Osama, err I mean Obama would have been so gracious in accepting an apology? Hell no! This would have dragged on for days and every left wing newspaper and Internet commentator would have had a field day pointing out FOX News' "right-wing bias". If it hadn't been for "right-wing" bloggers on the Internet I would have never even heard about it.

And what ever happened to Valarie Plame, the "outed CIA operative"? For well over a year the media barked on and on about the Vice President and Karl Rove accusing them of criminally exposing this deep cover spy. Indictments and jail time was awaiting Mr. Rove while the leftists in the news and on the Internet were speculating what old Karl would look like in an orange jumpsuit as he was carted off to the federal slammer. Chris Matthews and Keith Olberman made this story a nightly feature on their ridiculous shows respectively. So, when the truth came out that it was Richard Armitage who had actually been the leaker did Chris or Keith apologize - or at least report that the Vice President and Karl Rove had not been the leakers? No, not a word. Did they go after Richard Armitage? No, hardly a word was ever spoken about the story again. Why? Because Amitage, who was Colin Powell's deputy Secretary of State, was a vocal critic of President Bush.

Now, because of FOX News, The New York Sun and "right-wing" bloggers on the Internet we are learning the extent of Sandy Berger's crimes against this country and our national security and still we are not deluged with a righteous scandal within the major media infrastructure. If you recall Mr. Berger (Bill Clinton's National Security Adviser) was caught red handed stealing and then destroying documents from the National Archives leading up to his testimony before the 9/11 Commission. The original story got some play in the news, but none of the breathless, righteous indignation it would have had he been a member of the Bush administration. Now we are learning that it was much more sinister than originally reported and real damage may have been done to the national security of this country. Again, we ask why? Simple, he was a member of King Clinton's cadre. Chris Matthews, who kneels before the altar of King Clinton, never talks about this or any other so-called scandal that involves Democrats or liberals with the same vigor and disgust he reserves for any center-right public figure.

It isn't even that the media doesn't report on these stories initially, they usually do. It's that they don't don the war paint and beat the drums for days and weeks. I doubt that even one of the Sunday morning political shows will ever touch this story again... Unless of course Berger is discovered to be a Republican plant set up to embarrass King Clinton. Now that would be a scandal worthy of the major media's attention!


Sunday, January 07, 2007


Science and Religion (or faith in God) have been at odds since Galileo first put his eye up to his marvelous invention the telescope. I doubt that before I die sometime here in the twenty-first century that the debate will have been settled satisfactorily. Was it not Immanuel Kant that suggested it was not possible to construct conclusive logical proofs for the existence of God? Kant believed that if God did exist, then God is believed to be outside the physical (or sensory) realm. Since we all experience life within the sensory realm differently we will never come to agreement on the subject.

For Kant religion and faith had to be rational, in tune with the way humanity within the physical world works - for example, when Jesus taught us to 'Treat others as you want them to treat you' (Matthew 7:12), it was not something unique to Jesus. There are actually several examples of this kind of ethical teaching found in various religious traditions both before and after Jesus. That said, then Kant would agree with the teachings of Jesus in Matthew 7:12, not because it comes from Jesus, but because Jesus' teaching about this matter is rational.

Now, one is free to disagree with Mr. Kant and simply declare that faith in God's existence is for the weak minded (like the mental heavyweight Jesse Ventura did) or for the delusional (as biologist/athiest Richard Dawkins does) or simply for the irrational (so writer Sam Harris says). The problem I have is just how cock-sure they all are about these "facts".

When you realize that the human mind is encapsulated in a three pound mass of brain tissue and then try to visualize the enormity this universe it might pay for these men to be a little less sure... Follow along and try to keep things in perspective!

Wow, that's a mind blower! Whatever we humans are or "think" we are we are puny. Hopefully we are not as insignificant as I feel right now.


Friday, January 05, 2007

Chesterton's Mr. Hudge and Mr Gudge

G.K. Chesterton is a gem. Born in 1874 and though he left this Earthly stage in 1936 he left behind wit and wisdom that is beyond compare. If you have never heard of him you should consider yourself unfortunate. I would urge you to check out this web site devoted to his legacy. Of all the pointless reading you do in a day just to get to something really interesting, poignant, and memorable you would find yourself greatly rewarded catching up with Chesterton.

Now, in a piece he wrote called "What's Wrong with the World" probably around 1910 Chesterton introduces us to two men we know all too well in 2007. Mr. Hudge and Mr. Gudge. Both of them outlived Chesterton as they will probably outlive you and I. Interestingly enough I think that Gudge has grown and changed (progressed if you will) far more than Hudge.

Gudge, Chesterton described as a conservative, an individualist, and perhaps a slumlord. Hudge, he hinted was a socialist, an idealist, a progressive, and perhaps a vegetarian.

These are, of course, none other than the political adversaries we all know and love - the Liberal (Hudge) and the Conservative (Gudge). The third individual in Chesterton's story, was Mr. Jones. He was not a member of the ruling class but simply everyday Joe Sixpack - the family man.

The powerful and influential Hudge and Gudge should be judged by the test of the Joneses. What, Chesterton asked, had Gudge, the industrial-capitalist, done to strengthen the family of Jones? What had Hudge, the socialist-idealist, done to strengthen the family of Jones?

Dale Ahlquist, the purveyor of the above mentioned website parses Chesterton's book with care and grace:

Our society is experiencing exactly the crisis that Chesterton warned us about almost a century ago. There is a greater disparity than ever between the rich and poor. Our families are falling apart, our schools are in utter chaos, our basic freedoms are under assault. It affects every one of us. As Chesterton says, "Not only are we all in the same boat, but we are all seasick."

But while we agree about the evil, we no longer agree about the good. The main thing that is wrong with the world is that we do not ask what is right.

Some people say that idealism is impractical. But Chesterton says, "Idealism is only considering everything in its practical essence." In other words, idealism is common sense. It is what the common man knows is right, in spite of all the voices telling him it is impractical or unrealistic or out-dated. And when Chesterton says idealism, he means the Christian ideal. "The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." It would mean the ideal house and the happy family, the holy family of history. It would mean making laws that respect the family as the most important unit of society, and laws which are moral and respect religious principles.

It would mean the widespread distribution of property and capital to provide for greater justice and liberty. It would mean not being afraid to teach the truth to our children. But we have left the truth behind us. And instead of turning around and going back and fixing things, we rush madly forward towards we know not what, and call ourselves, "progressive." Instead of the solid family and the church and the republic being held up as ideals, these things are now assailed by those who have never known them, or by those who have failed to fulfill them. "Men invent new ideals because they are afraid to attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back."

Although this book is a work of non-fiction, Chesterton introduces us to two characters: Hudge and Gudge. Well, three characters: he also introduces us to Jones. Hudge and Gudge are the enemies of Jones. Simply put, Hudge is Big Government and Gudge is Big Business. And Jones? Jones is the common man. "This man Jones has always desired ordinary things; he has married for love, he has chosen or built a small house that fits like a coat; he is ready to be great grandfather and a local [hero]." But something has gone wrong. Hudge and Gudge have conspired against Jones to take away his property, his independence, and his dignity.

The home is the only place of liberty. "Property is merely the art of democracy. It means that every man should have something that he can shape in his own image…To give nearly everybody ordinary houses would please nearly everybody." But in a society where most people cannot afford their own home, and they cannot properly support themselves but have to be someone else's wage slave, easily sacked, easily replaced and displaced, having to rely on the government to supplement their needs, in other words, when they are totally at the mercy of Hudge and Gudge, it means enormous pressure is put on the family, and it means the society will crumble from the bottom up. The society is especially in danger when the common man, left reeling by the loss of religion, of home, of family, is not even sure what he wants any more.

When the mother is pulled out of the home and made a specialist, working for Hudge and Gudge, the child is left to be raised by "experts." Thus, both the mother and the child become narrower. And so does the whole society as the family of course is ripped apart. And so is every integral element of society torn apart from everything else. The world, says Chesterton, "is one wild divorce court." Religion is banned from the classroom. So are the parents. So is common sense. Each subject is taught in a vacuum. Each profession is increasingly narrow. People more know more and more about less and less.

What's wrong with the world? Take a good look around.

It's hard to find fault with Mr Ahlquist's conclusions but I think that the industrialist/capitalist in today's world has tempered his extremes and now does help provide for the average man with decent wages, benefits and doable working conditions and hours. It is Mr Hudge - the socialist government flak that never changes. The socialist never relents in his drive to control the life of Mr. Jones, never. The socialist would argue that it was they who forced the capitalists into submission. This is perhaps a partially true statement. The difference is the socialist has a goal of destroying capitalism. While the capitalist may disdain his socialist brethren for his beliefs, but there has been no concerted effort by conservatives and capitalists to do away with an effective social safety system. This is a big difference and I think Chesterton would recognize it as such.

He was not a big fan of capitalism and even less a fan of socialism, hence the tale of Hudge and Gudge. But, I submit that the brand of capitalism practiced in the late 1800's and the early 1900's was not the same as the system we have today. Socialism on the other hand is exactly the same.

Again, I urge you to take a look at this remarkable man and his work. It's good stuff.


Monday, January 01, 2007

Irregardless - It's Still Wrong

There is a guy at work we just love to tease every chance we get. He insists on using the non-word irregardless no matter how mercilessly we chastise him. Occasionally we will use the word ourselves when he is within earshot just to get a rise out of him. At one point he argued his case with some success since even dictionaries now carry the word (it is labeled slang or as a misused word). It is actually the combination of two words: regardless and irrespective. Since the word regardless already contains a negative in its suffix -less adding the negative prefix ir- makes a double negative which is frowned upon among proper English speaking people.

It seems nearly everyday we hear people try to string together a familiar quote or a figure of speech only to cringe inwardly as it inevitably gets mangled. Sometimes it's simply hilarious and sometimes it's downright annoying.

Here is a quick list of ones I can remember hearing recently...

"It doesn't matter now, it's a mute point"
This one drives me crazy! But what the hell, trying to correct someone in mid-conversation is a moot point.

"Looking at her sad little face really pulled on my harp strings"
Ironic that a harp really does have strings and a heart doesn't...

"I pacifically told him not to put his hand in there!"
Maybe you should have been more specific.

"I have a great idear?"
I don't see an "r" dear

"Let me axe you a question."
Can I ask you to be careful with that thing!

"He took her love for granite."
And she took his money for granted

"yeah, it’s a doggy-dog world out there"

"treat this client with kit gloves"
You can get such a kit at Kids R Us.

"We were in intimate danger"

"it doesn’t pass mustard"
If you can muster the strength pass the ketchup.

And my all time favorite...

"she ran out of the house butt naked."
Being chased by a buck no doubt.