Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rock The Boat

(the title seemed to describe this post somewhat, and came to me while listening to The Hues Corporation's 1970s one-hit-wonder)

It's a long posting tonight. But interesting. I hope.

More Economics

I was watching CBS' "60 Minutes" on Sunday night and they started talking about something I purposely left out of my last posting. I left it out because I thought my ideas were stretching things a bit. In any case, it was reported that the current alleged "recession" that the U. S. economy is facing is due, in large part, to the recent decline of the housing market. The part that was troubling - on so many levels - was that people were defaulting on their mortgages when they found that they owed more on their house than it was worth. Only slightly less troubling were (greedy) people ending up not being able to pay their house payments because they refused to read/understand the terms of their loans, and because even more greedy mortgage brokers allowed them to borrow the money in the first place.

First, this is not a problem of a failing U.S. economy. It is a problem of greed, and of people - a lot of people - who feel they must have what they cannot afford. Then, when this greed catches-up with the people who were living on the edge, the entire country has to sympathize and bail them out. The sad part is that without being disproportionately cruel to these greedy people, there isn't really any other way. If we were to throw them out on the streets, they would turn to crime which would affect everyone in a bad way.

Second, for those who are defaulting on mortgages because they ended-up owing more than their home is worth -- this is greed in the worst way. The housing market is known to fluctuate and, like any investment, has its ups and downs. Unless you live in Flint, Michigan (or someplace like it), there's a good chance your home will eventually increase in value again. But worse still - this underscores the lack of community that is increasingly evident in suburban America. These people see their house as an investment, not a home. They look at their house in terms of where they send their kids to school and how much they can fit inside of it. It isn't really a home in a community of other people.

Because "families" with 1.75 kids and having a house with a proverbial white picket fence and a dog (that f**king barks in the backyard all day) are the only thing that this country seems to care about, our government will again bail these people out, and this behavior will continue without consequence.

Relationships

I've avoided writing about this because there are lots of people who read this who know who I am and commenting on specifics could land me in an embarrassing situation. There has been much discussion among my friends about this topic recently, and with Hallmark's Male Guilt Trip Day fast approaching it just seems like time to tempt fate.

As much as I don't like being unattached I don't feel that being in a bad relationship is a good idea either. I've admired several women in the last few years. There's a simple test I try to use to determine whether there's any chance that it will go any further than admiration: If I try to talk to the person and the conversation is guarded and I don't feel comfortable being myself, then it isn't going to go anywhere. This isn't an all-inclusive criteria, but I feel it is a good foundation. This has been the trouble with a person I've known for several years, admire, but can't move conversation past safe topics like the weather or home improvement.

I have no idea anymore how any of this male/female romance stuff works anymore. I had a good suggestion the other night from a friend to get to know someone (ask for some house decorating advice). While it was a good suggestion, the fact is that being by myself for a long time I have become accustomed to depending on nobody except for myself. Most of the things I am passionate about mean little to most other people, making it difficult to share those with anyone else. Redecorating my house isn't really one of my passions, and while my home is kind of plain, it simply doesn't bother me at all.

I'm not a bad person. I'm not even a selfish person, really. On the subject of romance, clueless, yes. Difficult, definite yes.

Finally

It's taken longer to write this all than I thought .. so one last issue...

Technology has not been good to me as of late. The DNS entries for the dynamic IPs that Time Warner is assigning for RoadRunner are not done right, and as such are causing some issues for me (particularly with accessing some servers at work). I know what the problem is, could even fix it, but can't get to the right person at Time Warner to get it fixed. The DVR I have for my cable TV service crashes and acts strangely when recording certain high definition programming. I'd like to report the problems to the cable company, but my past dealings with them make me feel like the effort will be futile. The cable TV companies have sufficiently crushed the ability to build a DVR from open source software by keeping the CableCard specification proprietary.

It has made me take a step back and wonder if I really feel I should keep doing this as a hobby or retreat into a simpler, less technical, lifestyle. What would happen if I only had broadcast TV? What would I do if I didn't mess with my computer at home anymore?

None of these make me feel comfortable. I feel trapped by the companies that have effectively controlled communication technology. I feel helpless to move beyond it all and find something as interesting as how I originally envisioned the technology to ultimately evolve.

What they haven't invented, even as poorly as the Scientific Atlanta 8300HDC DVR, is a way to function without sleep. So I need to get to sleep.

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