Jul 20 2010

Stuck in my craw...

, General , ,

I have a folder called "rant" I keep items that I feel like complaining about but lately I can't be bothered.  So I am dumping that folder out here so you can see.  I'll give you a little about each item so you have an idea of what it is about each bit that burns me, but I'm not going off on a full rant on each one.

OpenSSL is Written by Monkeys: I don't have a lot to add to this guy's rant except to say "Amen, Brother."  I've run into just about each of this guy's snags.

Brain Shuts Off in Response to Healer's Prayer: Part of this I understand. Prayer is unable to do all the heavy lifting of healing and I would never realy on it as the sole means of healing.  However, the brain can be easily convinced of things if you bypass the concious and go straight to the subconcious.  It is the same thing that makes affirmations so powerful.  This effect detailed here is sort of the same thing except it is a pronounced and measurable shutdown of the concious mind. Does it work? <shrugs>

California School District Bans Dictionary: This is the silliest thing I've ever heard. And who doesn't remember looking up all those supposedly "forbidden" words in the dictionary and the encyclopedia when they were kids? It is how you LEARN people! Sticking your head in the sand over things you dislike does not make those things go away!

Lawsuit Says Hot Dogs Need A Warning Label: I'll tell you what...if I can put a warning label on the "Cancer Project" letterhead, website and business cards that reads "Warning: Advocacy groups have been known to press ludicrous agendas in order to get free press." then, sure, you can label my hot dogs.

Has NBC given up on Sci-Fi?: I bookmarked this almost a year ago and I still miss Kings. Sci-Fi TV is in a bad way right now, and shows no signs of getting better.  There are still a few gems but they are mostly on cable networks (AMC, SyFy, Starz and BBC America) but the big four -- NBC, ABC, Fox and CBS -- have yet to come through with a home-run sci-fi hit in the last few years.

Fake Gold Bars in Bank of England and Fort Knox: Admitedly this is fringe press but nobody has picked up, investigated, debunked, denied or even poo-pooed this that I can find.  Frankly the idea of it scares the shit out of me.

Pakistani Lawyer Petitions for Death of Mark Zuckerberg: Dude, why not just get some Imam to declare a fatwa?  It'll have about the same effect (ask Salman Rushdie).  There are a lot of reasons to want Mark Zuckerberg dead, but this has to be the lamest.  And the whole "drawing of Mohamed" thing?  You have a right to your beliefs and you can take them as  seriously as you want.  I respect that you take it seriously. I would never force you to see, make or publish a drawing of Mohammed.  However, you do not have a right to not be offended by my actions. I am not bound by your taboos.  I will do what I like as long as it does you no harm.  And offending you is not harm. It would be different if you and I worked in the same workplace or lived in the same building...there are laws concerning harrassment.  But in a public arena it is a matter of tolorance.  You need to let it go just like I let some of your beliefs which offend me go unaddressed.

Judge Bans 'Rye' Sequel: And the oldest item in my 'rant folder'. Copyright law is getting out of hand. This ruling basically states that a work that was published in 1951 - almost 60 years ago and which should have dropped into public domain next year but thanks to Sonny Bono will remain in copyright until 2046 (95 years from publication) -- has effectively protected all of the characters from that book.  Actions like these stifle creativity and progress.

Okay, I've deleted all those bookmarks and I'll start accumulating them again.

Care to Comment?

Feb 18 2010

RIP Joe Stack (1956-2010)

, Opinion , ,

I find it hard to imagine what drives someone like Joe Stack, an obviously successful man with a wife and son to burn down his home and take his own life in an act of mass-destruction - and what I would call terrorism - if he had not left an extended note explaining his position. You can read it at The Smoking Gun.

My problem is, after reading it, I feel absolutely no sympathy for him.  I, too, have had debt problems, tax problems, and especially IRS problems.  But I solved them.  I've been reset to $0 once in my life (a life I might add that is only 8 years less than Mr. Stack's as of yesterday) and I am now living comfortably with manageable (and reasonable) deb, legal tax status and am building my retirement once again.

I keep reading his rambling manifesto and thinking "Dude, you dug this hole yourself!".  He and his buddies played at "religious tax shelter" and failed.  He didn't report his own income (like you are supposed to) and got burned.  He hired an accountant and didn't get the accountant to open a tax case first (which halts fines). And he rails agasint things that are out of his control (mega corporations and churches making more money than he).

I empathise with his frustrations at the iniquity of the world. I agree with some of his observations about "the way of things" in this country - especially in recent years.  But none of that in any way would lead me to agree with the actions he has taken today.

If the tone of his suicide note is any indication of the tone he has when dealing with people, I'm not surprised he got shafted all those times.  The entire diatribe stinks of entitlement, selfishness and materialism. I understand the urge to hold on tight to things as people try to take more and more from you, but that just makes it harder to let go when you need to. 

The dude owned an airplane and a $500,000 home (In Austin, TX!  Median Home Price: $188,600).  I have owned my own businesses, worked as a contractor, own two homes and two cars, and have a wife.  Where I live, that's pretty well off but I can not afford a plane and the IRS has no beef with me (any more).  So ultimately the impression I have is: "wah!  get over it."

I want to say that his futile gesture won't make a difference, but unfortunately he has made himself a martyr to the "teabagger" cause. And that, unfortunately is a lot more damaging to this country than his plane crash.  The Hannitys and Becks and Limbaughs will hold him up as some sort of hero for striking at this country when they should be pointing out the problems of his arguments. They will paint him as a soldier in a fight against this country and it will destroy whatever balance and order is left in our society as the lemmings run to the cult of personality that tells them to dance.

I am sorry he has taken his life and that people were hurt while he did it.  I am sorry his family will suffer (and they will suffer badly, I'm afraid) for his inability to be reasonable.  And I am sorry he has left this legacy in the wake of his actions. Ultimately he has crashed a lot more than his plane and damaged a lot more than the IRS building in Austin.

I predict it will be about three months before the first "copy-cat" froot-loop does something similar and cites Joe Stack as his inspiration.

Care to Comment?

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