Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Cold Day In Hell

I'm not sure I really want to write anything here tonight, but it has been a while and I already have two recent posts that I have purposely not posted. I look back at them and, while there is something of value there, I'm not sure they express my feelings as accurately as I'd like.

I just got done watching the DVR'd espisode of 20/20 from Friday night. This is the first time in a while that I've really had to wonder what drugs the people at ABC News were taking the day they put that episode/edition together. Message to ABC News: Britney Spears is not news. I know this may come as a complete shock to some people out there, but it's true. Bimbos singing to synthesizers is so 80s. Make it stop, please. For heaven's sake, don't put her on an otherwise-respectable TV news program. I was going to call Britney talentless, but that would have been a lie. It does actually look like she can act, and I'll hand that to her. Perhaps she should pursue that talent as opposed to making "music" videos and trying to be a parent. We'll see how many new readers of this blog I end-up with since, according to the Guiness Book of World Records according to 20/20, Britney is allegedly one of the most searched people on the web. That by itself is rather scary.

The other blunder 20/20 did this week was with the mortgage crisis. They put someone on who said, quite brilliantly, that some people's mortgage problems were their own darn fault, that they were living beyond their means. They (20/20) then immediately switched to a couple who was paying for their house just fine until family medical issues and some other personal problems put them into financial hot water. NO NO NO NO NO! THIS IS NOT PART OF THE MORTGAGE CRISIS AS IT IS RIGHT NOW! To compare a situation like that to the situation that is the subject of the bail-out is so very very wrong. In fact, that specific example is more a symptom of the lack of affordable health care than the current "financial crisis." The problem is that 20/20 isn't the only one who doesn't seem to get it. Occasionally I listen to Rush Limbaugh when I feel like hearing what it sounds like for shit to come out of someone's mouth instead of out of their ass. He said on his radio program the other day (I am paraphrasing, of course) that to imply that this problem was (at least partially) due to people living beyond their means was completely un-American, that people living beyond their means is the kind of risk taking that has helped to build the wealth that has made this country great. I continued to listen, because I thought for sure that this was just one of his sarcastic jokes until I realized he was serious. Dittoheads, it is not, I repeat NOT, a good idea to live beyond your means. Of all people, Rush should realize that what made this country great was that hard working individuals set reasonable goals and worked hard toward making them a reality. Was there any risk involved? In some cases, sure. However, owning a BMW and an expensive home on credit you can barely repay or neglecting your family or other responsiblities to get these things is just plain irresponsible. To expect that the government (read: us) will bail-out people who took on a mortgage without any contingency plan is ridiculous. I love it when people talk about "The American Dream" as though everyone deserves to have it. I believe the word "dream" implies that it's not a guarantee or an entitlement, it's more like a goal.

I was, as usual, quite impressed with John Stossel's segment on people voting, and I look forward to his politically-incorrect politics segment next (this?) week. For those who didn't see the program, John was essentially saying that people who have no idea how the basic functioning of the government in this country works should stay home and not vote, since they have no idea what they're really voting for. It's a very interesting idea. What I think both John and I would really like to see is for people to educate themselves on the real issues and ideas that the candidates are presenting, the pros and cons of those positions, and how acting on those will affect the future of the country as a whole, prior to voting. Not voting should be a last resort. I would like to correct one comment though: It was asked (rhetorically) if we should only allow the educated to vote. In reality, the electoral college for determining the president was established for just this reason. The people vote for the electors for a particular presidential candidate with the idea that the elector, if deemed necessary, could vote for a different candidate based on their education and knowledge of the issues (see Wikipedia for a nice discussion of this). For you folks who were all pissed off about the Bush/Gore election and the electoral college, perhaps you should read this first. I agree we all got a bad president, but it wasn't the electoral college system that was the problem.

So aside from watching the United States' economy going all to hell and 20/20, I admit there have been other goings-on in my life.

I have been spending more time than I should in on-line chat sessions with a woman who I admit has caught my romantic attention. I haven't really "chatted" online since about 14 years ago when I spent a lot of time on IRC in chat rooms talking about everything from country music performers to emotional problems. To say that online chat is not a primary means of communication for me these days would be an understatement. Anyway, I really enjoy conversing with her, and would really like to meet her in person (she lives around here, it's not like she's halfway across the country). Alas, she continues to resist such suggestions, and I am beginning to grow quite tired of this. Obviously there is something I see in her that has made me want to continue discussion despite the resistance to an in-person meeting. She has three cats, and really cares about them. She's smart. She's good-looking. We're both in the same age-bracket. We're both kind of introverts. I've given her the benefit of the doubt because she has been trying to work through some personal issues. However, I think it's time to put her on "double-secret probation" and if she fails to come up with a good reason by the end of this week why she won't let me buy her lunch so we can talk in person rather than on the computer, I think I'm going to call this yet another failed attempt at romance and move-on. Less foolish people than I would probably have already concluded that.

I put my telephone system changes into place on the production server this weekend. While I like the concept I came up with (explained in a previous blog entry) it seems a little fragile right now. I'm hoping that I feel more confident with what I did as time goes on. I will reassure myself by saying that there is no way to account for every possible thing when developing software until it gets some testing with real data. The only way to do that is to use it, in this case.

I purchased a SanDisk Sansa E280 MP3 player from woot and it came yesterday. I installed Rockbox onto it the same night, and that installed without incident. Rockbox is an open source replacement for the original software that comes on some of the little MP3 players out there. It enables the devices to handle more varied media file formats, and the user interface is generally better. It seems to have some little glitches in it and I may start looking at the source code to see if I can correct some of them. The Sansa E280 also has a FM tuner in it, and that seems to work as well, although I hardly listen to the radio these days. I admit that this was kind of an impulse purchase that I don't have a specific use in mind for. I wanted to try one of them out and see what it was like, and the Sansa's price was right.

Well, it looks like time to wrap-up for the night and get some much needed sleep. My cat needs to go to the vet tomorrow afternoon (at 4:30, around rush-hour) so I'm going to pick him up at lunch and keep him at work for the afternoon so I don't have to go home and go all the way back in the opposite direction during rush hour. That whole thing should be interesting...

Hopefully things will start looking up on all fronts. I'm kind of tired of being jacked-around by so many different people (or sets of people). Things have to get better.

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